Sunday, July 23, 2017

Juan in a Million

Elder Garcia and I on a trip to the snow

While we continue to teach our ongoing investigators, and zone conference (focused on the Plan of Salvation) was awesome, I want to take some time to introduce you all to one of the new people we have started to visit and teach. His name is Juan.

We met Juan on Thursday when we were knocking doors. My companion decided to randomly lead off with the Word of Wisdom (not our usual starter), but something worked because Juan invited us inside to discuss biblical evidence for it. We read from 1 Corinthians 15 where it says that our bodies are temples, and we should treat them as such. Juan seemed to like what we were saying and committed to live it.

Nachos with the Sotomayors
Flash forward a few days:
We pass by on Saturday to check in on Juan. Turns out the dude had not only read the Word of Wisdom pamphlet we'd left with him, he had ALSO started to live it - completely cut out coffee and tea from his diet. Even better, he asked us to teach him another lesson. OK! So we started teaching him about the Restoration.

Part way through he interrupted us to tell us about an out-of-body experience he'd had. A while ago, he died in the hospital, and his spirit left his body and tried to go to the Spirit World, but he couldn't get in because he was "locked out." So his spirit then returned to his body, and he revived even though he was already being sent to the morgue. Luckily the shocked doctors came rushing over to help him out.

He also shared with us a dream he had where he was alone and dying in the desert when out of the blue a dove flew out from his shoulder and gave him the "water of the life of Christ."

Because he shared these experiences with us, we had a good discussion about what all of this could mean. The Spirit in the room was strong as I told him that he was saved so that he could find the restored gospel, and that we were there, like the dove, to bring him God's word.

He accepted the challenge to be baptized and to come to church. Sure enough, he came on Sunday: in fact, he even arrived early before we did! BLESS YOU JUAN!

with Hermanas and Leandro in Ward Council

It's people like Juan that make this work so rewarding. He's so open to hearing the gospel, and when he hears what we have to say, he doesn't just like it - he does something about it! Juan is opening himself up and is willing to let God come into his life and change it all for him. Juan, my companion, and I - we can all see the change happening already.

I hope Juan continues on this journey he's started, and I hope the same for the others we teach, and for the millions out there that are currently being taught, or will be taught some day.

I love the gospel, I love the Lord, and I love all of you.

Have a great week everyone,
Elder Connor Nef

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Short Message This Week

The work continues to go well, everyone! We have two people committed to baptism later on this month, and a few others in our teaching whom we have high hopes for. 

We're working and studying hard. Here's a scripture from my studies this week:

For if there be no faith among the children of men 
God can do no miracle among them; 
wherefore, he showed not himself 
until after their faith. 
Ether 12:12

Eating hamburgers with the Uribe family.

Have a great week everyone!
Elder Connor Nef

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Happy 4th!

with Pancho, Elder Garcia, and Jose
Happy Fourth of July this past week everyone! My district and I celebrated our Independence day with a barbecue because yours truly here loves a good bite of liberty for lunch. Appropriately, many of the streets of Chile have names like "Independence", "Liberty", and so on. It's helping me get in the mood.

And let me just say that there's something in the air besides freedom and justice for all: the work is picking up here in Parral, and I am loving it. So many people are coming out of the woodwork with an interest in the gospel, and many of them have a connection to members of the church somehow.
Check out this horse hoof I discovered on the road. Cool.
Andres, for example, is a young man with a girlfriend and young daughter whose mother was a strong member that recently passed away. He says he doesn't like religions, but he does like ours. Or there's a sweet elderly couple whose daughter is a member, and they treat us missionaries like their grandkids. All of them came to church this week -- the first time this sector has seen investigators in church in a long time. Awesome!

Member involvement is also keeping our energy high. Leandro, the ward mission leader, continues to be an inspiration in how much effort he puts into his calling. Pancho is another member who, since his baptism five years ago, has accompanied all the missionaries in teaching investigators. And Jose, even though he's not much of a talker, heads out with the missionaries every single day. We so appreciate member help. They're the best.

In other news, it is futbol (soccer) season here in Chile, and that means that everyone drops everything to watch the games. And when I say everyone, I mean everyone (excepting missionaries of course): schools cut classes and show the games in the gym when the Chilean team plays. My mission president even asked us to pray that Chile wins. It's fun to see people so in love with a sport.
A view of the Andes from Parral
And I'm feeling that love directed to me as well. Parral is a gift to me. I feel so much love here: from the members, my leaders, other missionaries, my companion. It's such a blessing to feel all of this while doing the work of the Lord because it's like a reflection of the Savior's love for me.

I love you all,
Elder Connor Nef

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Picking Up Momentum in Parral

San Jose Street in Linares, Chile. Makes me feel at home
My companion and I are loving Parral. Elder Garcia (from Guatemala) just turned 20 this week (happy birthday!). We are working hard building up our teaching pool, assisted by our awesome ward mission leader Leandro.

Leandro is the best.

The area around Parral is very beautiful (and very cold. Monday was -5 degrees Celsius. That's 23 degrees Fahrenheit). It's near the base of the Andes, with a couple of rivers that help shape the landscape.

There are no native deer in Chile, but German immigrants brought some over from Europe in the 1950s. So you can find herds of German deer in Parral!

The enthusiasm some people have here for the gospel lifts me up. We were out working the streets with a man who has been making his way back from excommunication, and I was touched by his humility and his excitement to do especially home teaching. Makes me humbled and excited to help others feel that same eagerness to serve God and our fellow men.

Our mission president paid us a visit - here's Elder Garcia and I with President and Sister Catala.

We're picking up momentum in Parral! Wishing you a great week,
Elder Connor Nef

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

It's Cold in Parral, But the Work is Hot!

A view of the Andes from Parral, Chile
Well, I bid farewell to friends in Tierra Bella.  All the members were bummed about the area being closed to missionaries.  So was I.  Before I headed out on Tuesday, Hermano Del Rio came to the bus terminal to say goodbye and give me a sweet fur hat. Great guy.  Then I headed to my new area - Parral.  A quaint little town in the northern half of the mission.

Parral is riiiight there.
Other areas I have served are in red
Let Me Introduce You to Parral
Parral was founded in 1795 by the Viceroy of Peru, Ambrosio O'Higgins who originally named the town Villa Reina Luisa del Parral, in honor of the wife of Carlos IV, king of Spain.

Parral has some beautiful spots, but locals seem to be most proud of the fact that their little town is the birthplace of poet Pablo Neruda, winner of the 1971 Nobel Prize in Literature.

The church is a branch here - one of several branches in the District. Attendance on Sunday was pretty good - 110. And, we have the absolute best mission leader.  Leandro.

Leandro - Convert Extraordinaire
Leandro, now secretary of the Concepcion Mission, is a recent convert.  When investigating the church for six months, he studied all books of scripture: Bible, Book of Mormon, D&C, Pearl of Great Price, and he began compiling a binder of reasons why the church is true. In the process of his conversion, a lot of really good sister missionaries taught him.  The guy is awesome and I am almost certain he knows more than I do about gospel doctrine.

Introducing Elder Garcia
When I first arrived in Parral, my companion was no where to be found.  After half an hour of waiting, he pops on over with Leandro.  Elder Garcia is his name. He's from Guatemala and we get along great. Pictures to come.

Anyway, they were late because a sister missionary had left on a different bus and was dropped off on the side of the highway instead of at the terminal.

Parral, birthplace of poet Pablo Neruda
The Work is Awesome!
That very evening we packed-in three lessons. Then we found an Adventist family. Who finds a family on their first day in a sector!?  In the follow-up appointment with this family, they had invited their priest to join in.  Made me a bit nervous because I didn't want to duke it out. We're just here to spread the Good News and good feelings. But it ended up going well.

Weekly District Class
This week's District Class was held with the entire Zone. The Zone is the biggest of the mission - 30 missionaries.  It's also the most animated, united, geographically largest, most baptizing, happiest zone in the mission.  I am one of six District leaders.

It's Cold Here
Did I mention that I am LOVING Parral? It is cold.  Been having some severe wind and rain storms, but luckily I have a working electric blanket in the house (makes for toasty nights), and we have good members to feed us and provide sanctuary from the storms. 

But what's really keeping me warm is the Spirit in the work here.  It may be overcast and rainy, but there is a definite brightness in Parral.  It's like someone turned on a switch and I am wanting to talk all day like I used to. It's freeing.  I feel like myself again: talking, laughing, teaching, eating, meeting people, sharing.  

Maybe there is something to the birthplace of Pablo Neruda. Already, it's poetry.

Blessings to All,
Elder Connor Nef

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Leave It All On the Field

Transfer calls came. I am going to the country town of Parral and will continue to be a district leader. I saw my trainer, Elder Cowley, the hermanas I knew from the MTC, and a number of leaders I have known in my time here, and was able to say goodbye before they left to go home. Good luck guys!

I feel really motivated for my area. This video I saw a week ago has been going through my head - I want to leave it all on (or in) the field. My time here is precious, and I want to give the Lord everything I have. 

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: 
for it is the power of God unto salvation 
to every one that believeth...
Romans 1:16

Have a motivated week,
Elder Connor Nef

Monday, June 5, 2017


Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods...
Come, my friends, 
'Tis not too late to seek a newer world....
[T]hat which we are, we are; 
One equal temper of heroic hearts...strong in will 
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
"Ulysses" - Lord Alfred Tennyson

I came across this video "Strive" this week, and I thought I would share it - for those who are having a hard day, and need to know the Lord is with you. He's got your back.

Strive on.
Elder Connor Nef