Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Miracles in Parral

[Editor's Note:  The internet point this week wouldn't send Connor's photos, meaning we could only use his email, and not his journals, for information. Pictures used here were sent in past weeks.]

Hello Everyone,
I witnessed many miracles this week including:
  • Finding TWO different Moms of young kids. They have huge potential AND they agreed to be baptized!
  • One of those Moms came to church on Sunday.
  • A 9-year old girl with the name Justin (it's unisex in Chile) has her baptism Saturday.
  • We helped commit two of the hermanas' investigators to baptism.
  • What makes the previous point so cool is that one of these investigators was an eternal investigator, 
  • AND she got baptized Saturday,
  • AND she asked me to do the ordinance!
You could say it was a great week.

Hope you see some miracles this week,
Elder Connor Nef

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Fear into Faith

Ernestina got baptized!
Ernestina's Baptism
I had interviewed Ernestina last week for baptism, but she backed out for some reason at the last minute. This week, I met with her again for another interview, and I found out why: she has terrible arthritis, and was scared about going into the water and having a sudden pain attack. Her fears reminded me of some fears of my own from earlier in my mission -- while that pain was more emotional, and hers is physical, I told her what I learned from my experience.

I told her about the testimony I gained in Christ and His Atonement, about how He is the solution for our fears and pains. When we hand all our problems over to him, he gives us hope and peace to carry on. He gives us strength to do what's right.

Peace I leave with you, 
my peace I give unto you: 
not as the world giveth, give I unto you. 
Let not your heart be troubled
neither let it be afraid.
John 14:27

She took heart with what I said and -- drumroll please -- she was baptized the next day! Hector baptized Ernestina, and I helped lower her into the water. Glad that Parral is helping me get some good use out of my baptism clothes.

Introducing: Elder Sharp!
Elder Sharp is awesome. He is from Hawaii, and he loves to surf and play soccer. He also loves Hamilton and the Beatles (interests I share). Even better, he is an obedient, hard worker who looks for every opportunity to teach. My kind of guy! You can say that we get along swimmingly. His parents sound awesome too: his dad speaks 5-7 languages and teaches institute in Hawaii, and his mom might be reading this blog right now (hi Elder Sharp's Mom!).

Looking forward to fearlessly facing the weeks ahead with Elder Sharp,
Elder Connor Nef

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Saving Souls...and Frogs

Small frog
If I were to give a theme to this last week, I would say the theme was saving. First of all, my companion and I saved a frog. He was right in the middle of our street, and so we placed it in a brand new, much safer home: a pond.

Interviews & Baptisms
Second, baptisms! There were four people set to be baptized on Saturday, so as district leader, I did all four interviews. 2 hours later, I was exhausted. One interview took a whole hour because there was an elderly woman who just loved to talk about a variety of subjects.

The other people getting baptized were a married couple and their daughter. I had the blessing to baptize the mom, Erika.

Hector, Cecilia, Erika, Edmundo, Elder Garcia, Me

Transfer Calls
While Elder Garcia is leaving to Cauquenes, I will be staying in Parral with a new companion named Elder Sharp! I am excited to get to know him. Good luck Elder Garcia!

A dog up the street we named Padfoot
And congratulations to Elder Cowley (my trainer) who is getting married at the end of the year. Wishing you the best!

A good week overall. It always feels good to help people join the fold of God. It's cool to think that my job for two years is to help save others. Sometimes that means simple acts of kindness as small as caring for God's creatures (like that little frog). Other times, it means big things like interviewing and baptizing. But whatever I do, it all comes down to doing what Christ would do.

Makes me think of that scripture:

And if it so be that you should labor all your days
 in crying repentance unto this people, 
and bring, save it be one soul [or frog] unto me, 
how great shall be your joy...
Doctrine & Covenants 18:5

How blessed I am to feel some of this joy myself. 

My zone

Love you all, 
Elder Connor Nef

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