Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Feliz Navidad!

This was my first Christmas without egg nog, and it shall be the last!

It's weird having it be Christmas time and be sweating while hearing June bugs. People decorate their houses a little here. All trees are artificial, the largest being my height. A few stores play some Christmas songs, most of which are in Spanish (though a good third are in English), but mostly it's the same as home. I just see a few more Santas in some stores.

Supermarket Singing
We had a really cool activity this week where we sang at the supermarket! It involved the whole zone and the stake choir. While the stake choir sang, the missionaries went on the hunt, passing out Illumina El Mundo (#LightTheWorld) cards.

I went with Elder Lecheminant (the other elder who's 6' 6") to be by the parking lot exit and stop light. We started having some fun - passing cards to moving motorcyclists with a high speed high five, running across the street to pass more cards out during a red and running back before it turned green. I even climbed inside a semi to pass a card out.

After that, the choir and us missionaries switched places, with the missionaries singing and the members passing out the remaining cards. We sang a bunch of Christmas songs, but ended with "The Spirit of God." The supermarket then gave us cookies, sweet bread, and soda afterward.

Skype Calls and Transfer Calls
And of course the week closed out in the best way possible - with Christmas itself! And that means I got to Skype my family. It was so great to see them and talk with them. Love you guys!

Finally, we got transfer calls and what do you know - I'm being transferred to Chiguayante as a district leader! I am going to miss Bulnes - it has been a good six weeks here. I hope that the work I've helped do will lead to great things.

Hope everyone's Christmas was delightful (and full of egg nog),
Elder Connor Nef

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas Carols in Chile

This was a week of singing songs since we practiced "El Cristo Es" ("This is the Christ") as a zone for Zone Conference, and "Que Nino es Este?" ("What Child is This") as a district. What a great way to prepare for Christmas!

Like a Freight Train
Did an exchange this week with an Elder Lecheminant who, like me, is incredibly tall - but beats me by an inch at 6' 6". 45 minutes into working together, and we knock on the door of an old investigator. His name is Andres: he invited us in, and we taught about the Restoration. And BOOM, the Spirit - that feeling of powerful peace - came in like a freight train. By the time we had finished our lesson, Andres told us that he knows the message is true and he wants to follow Christ. I swear, there was a heavenly angelic choir singing in the background.

Colibrí (Hummingbird)
Fun side note: we visited Hermana Bobadilla, one of the members, and saw that she had a giant paper mache hummingbird in her front yard. Turns out they had used in a parade a while back, but now it just sits getting sun-bleached in front of her house. My companion and I couldn't resist a photo with the magnificent creature.

Further Success
We also had three other great lessons! One with a man named Pedro, a middle aged dude who kept calling us angels. He said he wants to follow God as much as possible. Another was with an investigator the sister missionaries had taught before they were removed from Bulnes. We also passed by Martha and her boyfriend, who are making progress!

And THEN we had a family home evening with Mauricio's and the Branch President's families where they sang in the streets, and we missionaries would talk to the people that lingered nearby. We had so much success - I even got to speak with some young guys that have become friends of mine.

All in all it was a super successful week. It's amazing how music can open so many doors (figuratively and literally). Praise the Almighty!

Feliz Navidad everyone!
Elder Connor Nef

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Greater Confidence

Since I passed the half-way mark of my time in Chile, I am officially in the part of my mission where I will only experience things once in the field. Never again will I have a December 5 in Chile as a missionary. Weird. It's been causing me to reflect more on my purpose here, and how I use my time.

For instance, I have gotten gotten back to filling in the info on Mi Familia (the family history booklet). Preaching the message about how families can be together forever has really made me think more about my own ancestors. So I am using what little free time I have to work on it. What a blessing to remember those that have come before and made me who I am.

As for our time out and about, my companion and I have had some real success this week in finding some promising people to teach. Let me tell you about two of them.

Strong and Faithful
So we passed by an old street contact named Angelina. She is a middle aged woman whose two kids have grown up and left the house, and her husband works a lot - so she's often alone. She's also almost paralyzed on her left side. There was a car accident years ago that almost killed her, but God had other plans for her! She loves praying and reading and - get this - also completely understands that trials are for us to gain experience and wisdom (somebody pinch me, I must be dreaming). After sharing with her the message of the Restoration, she committed to read the Book of Mormon, and said she was pretty interested.

And just when we stepped out the door to leave, her husband Oscar arrived home from work. "Oh no," I thought, "we just had this lovely lesson, and now we're going to find out he doesn't like us!" But I was wrong to worry - he's a really nice and chill dude. We had a short chat, but he told us another bit of info about Angelina.

Turns out that she was barely able to leave her wheelchair after her accident, and yet she donated her wheelchair anyway. He came home and was stunned.

"Where is your wheelchair?" he asked.

"I donated it. Someone else needs it more than me," she said.

That's a strong woman of faith.

"It's been a while"
Another day this week we were out and about with the Branch President to knock some doors of his neighbors. No one was answering, and we were running out of doors on the block. I started praying hard mentally for us to meet someone interested, remembering Jeffrey Holland's quote that "this is life and death we are talking about!" Right as I was thinking this, my companion said, "Ok, this is the last house."

It was so hot, I could feel the sweat all over me, and I was dying a little on the inside - when a middle aged lady answers the door.

"Well, it's been a while since I have seen you!" she said.


Turns out that Cecilia used to meet with the missionaries a long while ago. She's one who believes in her own way, due to some past bad experiences with religion. But she likes listening to us, and there might be some hope for progress, but we will have to meet with her a few more times to see.

President's Inspiring Words
So we've had some success with finding people! All the same, I've been feeling pressure from some that I haven't been doing my part in the work here. But that all changed when I read the email from my mission president this week.

It made me so happy. He told us all to do the exact things me and my companion are already doing: teach and train members, teach lessons more for quality, etc - and do less of what many others have told us to do (like focusing on the number of people you teach). It was a relief sent from on high.

So now I have greater confidence that I am acting exactly as the Lord wants. I know I have only so much time in the mission, and I want to make sure I use it the best way to do the most good. And in meeting Angelina and Oscar and Cecilia, I know that there are lives to bless and people to help.

May the Lord bless you all with confidence as he has with me,
Elder Connor Nef

Saturday, December 10, 2016


Thank You MiaMaids and Varsity
It's nice to have an awesomely amazing stake. The terrific youth sent me cards and chocolates. Yum. It was not only delicious, the thought boosted my enthusiasm.  Thank you!

And, thank you family for your words of inspiration.

The Focus
Our mission president has emphasized "keeping focused on the work - always!"  While we can't have Jesus on the mind 100% of the time - How I like to interpret this is to put Heavenly Father first in everything. This means looking for Christ more in the world around me. To help in this effort, I always love the challenge of connecting things to the gospel. You know, looking for those life-lessons.  That, to me, brings so much coolness and perspective to life.

The Gut-Punch
The challenge of being in a mission that seems to be focused on numbers (20 investigator lessons with a member present - per week) is when you do not reach the goal, it's a real punch in the gut. I feel like we are the only sector in the mission to not reach the goal.

I don't like teaching to just get a number. My goal is to bring people to Christ and show them how the gospel can bless them.

This week has been spent knocking on a lot of doors with little success.  Partly because the Branch of 30 active members out of 300, struggles with the basics.  So what I see this area needing is a drive to strengthen our members and activate the lost.

One of the programs we started was having a Branch Family Home Evening. This week we got together and showed the Church's Christmas video Light the World.

Packed with Inspiration
Half the mission gathered this week for a Mission Conference with a visiting Authority, Elder Packer (son of Boyd K. Packer).  His focus was on being more direct with our investigators, and dropping perennial investigators (investigators who do not progress and do not want to commit). This is exactly what I have been trying to tell our district and zone leaders.  Teaching perennial investigators just to get numbers is not my idea of missionary work.  Elder Packer then suggested using the My Family pamphlet in our finding. A pamphlet that focuses on family and genealogy.

Family and Genealogy is always a great idea!

The Love of Christ
One afternoon my spirits were down. This time, I was just sad for not accomplishing much.  Then it hit me that if I keep thinking like this, I will fall into a depression and will lose blessings promised me in my Patriarchal Blessing, including mental health. So, to counter this, I only have to remember Who I represent and who I am serving.

This week was also Stake Conference. What a nice meeting that was. Gave me a chance to see old friends from my first area, Quillon. The messages were great too - mainly focusing on sharing the Love of Christ.

We are not just a Church - we are a Family.  That's the best focus of all.

Love and Blessings to My Friends and Family!
Elder Connor Nef

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Rolling Up My Sleeves

Been trying to get to know my new area of Bulnes this week, and it's a little slow in coming. One reason for baby steps in Bulnes is because we helped the assistants over in their area for two days (I taught with Elder Rojas). Then I was down with some kind of bug (or food poisoning) for a day and a half. So, that kind of put a damper on teaching in our own sector.

Our numbers suffered.

I am meeting more members in the branch and really loving them. Even gave a talk in church on Sunday about member-missionary work, hoping to stir up some camaraderie between missionaries and members and enlisting their help in the work.

December = Blueberry Season
When we aided the assistants in their area, we had some great discussions. After one of the visits, the family handed me a pound of blueberries. My favorite!  Turns out, December is blueberry season here.  2-3 kilos for 1 luca! And Bulnes is full of blueberries.

Fruits & Nuts
Fun Fact:  Blueberry is Arandano. Cranberry is Arandano rojo (red blueberries).

This street vendor cracks me up:

Building up this area is going to take a bit of work and a lot of love for the people. I am certainly not afraid of hard work. In addition to finding those who are ready to hear the gospel, my goal is to visit all the recent converts from the past year and see how they are doing. At the very least, I want them to know they have a friend.

Rolling up my sleeves!  It's going to be a better week, folks,

Love to All,
Elder Connor Nef

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Welcome to Bulnes!

Welcome to Bulnes!
Last Monday was a day of goodbyes to my friends in Concepcion. People were good to me and gave me lots of food.

The next day, I arrived in my new area - Bulnes, Chile - a small town inland from Concepcion, where the summer weather is known to hit triple digits, the locals are known to dislike Americans, and the small branch is known as one that does not progress.

I am here to change that - the reputation and progress, that is, not the weather (though I wish I could change that).

The thought passed through my mind that I will, most likely, never be in a sector with exceptionally strong leadership. My job is to strengthen wards and branches where I can, to get them operating a little better.

Meet Elder Alvarez
My comp is Elder Alvarez from Colombia. A 5'7" animated dude with a lot of the same nerdy interests that I have. And, he's ready to get to work.

Good thing.
with Elder Alvarez
Because after being halted in my last area by Fuentealba's toe, getting back to work full days is such a recharge!

Don't have that many investigators right now, so the other morning we went exploring in a sector my comp has never visited.  We came to a house that happened to have a family of geese out front (mom, dad, and gooslings? goslings? - baby geese).  And the mamma goose started bearing her teeth and hissing at me.  What kind of demon bird is this?!  I'll tell you, it certainly makes for a great watchdog. When I went to take a picture of the crazy bird, an old lady came out of the house.

We began talking. She gave us a soda and said her name was Silvia.  After discussing a bit of the Plan of Salvation, she liked what we had to say and set an appointment to have us come back and teach her.

Fútbol and the Plan of Salvation
Speaking of the Plan of Salvation.  That night we played fútbol with some community people. I decided to wear my Plan of Salvation t-shirt and teach it in less than 2 minutes. It was fun. My soccer skills have improved a ton since I've been in Chile.

The Little Service Project
Our service project this week was for our ward missionary, Hermano Munsalve. He's an interesting guy who asked us to simply "take out some grass." Sounded easy enough.

"take out some grass"
It was actually a job to clear out a 1/4 acre of bush that included chopping down saplings...without any equipment! I got pretty good at chopping down trees with a shovel.

Welcome to Bulnes
It may be hot (it's summer in Chile right now). I may be tired. A shovel may be my only tool to clear a 1/4 acre field, but I am looking at this situation optimistically and am REALLY excited to work here.

Happy Thanksgiving back at home, everyone. I am thankful for your thoughts and prayers.

Love you,
Elder Connor Nef

Saturday, November 19, 2016

It's All About the Temple

Missionaries at Concepcion Temple building site
We took a walk over to the new Temple building site here in Concepcion and spoke with the missionary couple over the construction process who showed us renderings of how the Concepcion Temple will look when completed. It was pretty remarkable.
Chile Concepcion Temple                                              photo:
The surrounding neighborhood looks more like Cupertino, California than Chile. Here's an aerial shot:
Concepcion Chile Temple construction             photo:
Concepcion Temple Groundbreaking Ceremony
The groundbreaking ceremony for the Concepción Chile Temple was held just a year ago - October 17, 2015.  Elder Walter F. González, President of the South America South Area, presided over the event, and Church News reported it.
"This is a great day," Elder Gonzalez said,
"for both members and nonmembers across this South American nation.
The building of Chile’s second temple (the first was opened in Santiago in 1983)
will allow members throughout the greater Concepción region
to draw closer to their families and the Lord."

Elder Teixeira, of the Seventy, noted the beauty of the day in central Chile—and the beauty of the many gathered for the groundbreaking events.
"The future temple," he said, "will allow families to claim
the Lord’s greatest blessings as they are sealed together,
not just for this life, but for all eternity. 
That’s why temples are so important.
Prepare to enter the temple by first building faith in Christ."

It's All About the Temple
It's always exciting news when a temple is being built in a city. It's a monument to the members' faith, really.  We are fortunate to have temple buzz right here in our mission because the temple is so important in our work. After all, everything we do leads individuals and families to the House of the Lord.

After church on Sunday, we thought it would be a good idea to bring some of our investigators to the temple building site.  So, we loaded up four cars of people - Juan, Silvana and Genesis came along. Shortly after we arrived to the site, the sister missionaries showed up with their investigators.

Right after this picture was taken, people from other wards started showing up in droves. It was great. 

We talked about how the completed temple will look, about its importance, and then we returned to the church for refreshments and a mini lesson expounding a little more on temples.

left: with Elder Fuentealba and 
ward mission leader Hermano Del Rio

Transfer Calls
Well, transfer calls came, and as expected, I am leaving the fine city of Concepcion for the little town of Bulnes. Apparently the missionaries have bikes there. Should be fun.

Have a Great Week, All!
Elder Connor Nef

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Dia de Todos Los Santos

The day after Halloween is November 1st - Dia de todos los Santos (Day of All the Saints), or in the states it's known as Day of the Dead.  It's a holiday to celebrate loved ones who have past on.  Here in Chile, they take the day off, head to the cemetery, and decorate (sometimes very elaborately) the graves of the departed.  It's their way to remember their ancestors.
The entrance to Concepcion's local cemetery was blockaded with small tents of various vendors peddling flowers, food, and decorations for the graves.

We passed by Carmen and Camila's home and taught the Plan of Salvation. The timing of the lesson with the holiday sparked all kinds of questions about our spirits.

Bienvenidos Esteban
This week's Family Home Evening with the ward was a special one because Esteban Lopez had returned from his mission to Colombia, and this was going to be his Welcome Home party.
Esteban is the first missionary from the Concepcion Stake to complete a full time mission in almost a decade. This was a big deal. Definitely something to celebrate.  And I can see why. Esteban shared his testimony and there was a great spirit.

Esteban went on splits with me to teach a lesson. It was fun.
Esteban Lopez speaking to the ward
Having hit my own 11-month mark that day, I couldn't help but contemplate the progress that I personally lack that only the mission can give me. I look forward to a lot more growth.

All Saints Day
In the days of Christ, the word saint was not describing a holy person who had performed a supernatural feat, but instead a saint was referring to a member of Christ's Church.

And the reason we call ourselves the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is to distinguish ourselves from the Church of Jesus Christ of early days. So a saint for us today is a normal member of the church. One of a community to follow Christ's teachings.

Dia de Todos Los Santos - a great way to celebrate ancestors, but All Saints Day is also a great way to celebrate with members of the church - every day.

Adios Todos,
Elder Connor Nef

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Happy Halloween

For our P-day activity (soccer), we dressed up in favorite movie characters. I dressed up as a Harry Potter Hogwarts student from the House of Ravenclaw, Elder Brewster is Tom Hanks in Castaway, and Elder Flores is from Ghostbusters (he borrowed the costume from a member).

Have a terrific week everyone!
Elder Connor Nef

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Baptism of Carmen and Camila

Camila, Carmen, Elder Fuentealba, and me
What a happy day. Carmen and Camila were baptized! Carmen asked that I baptize her, and Fuenteabla baptized Camila. The only way Fuentealba was able to do it was to wrap his ailing toe in latex and tape, but it still got wet.

The service was held during the third hour of church on Sunday, and several of our investigators came - and loved it!  The Spirit wasn't the only thing that was overflowing. The bishop filled the font too high, and when we stepped in - well, let's just say we were glad to have mops on-hand afterward.

Fun Fact:
Carmen and Camila sometimes calls us "Los Nef".
And they occasionally refer to me as "Pantrucita" - little dumpling.

Queridos Hijos y Hijas
We had a mega mission conference in which president kicked it off by reinforcing the idea of each missionary holding high standards and consecrating themselves to the work - in thought and in action, and he couched this with the admonition to leave the world behind.

His words reminded me of Jeffrey Holland's great talk in the MTC about Investing Yourself in the Work. Elder Holland said in his talk that because of the significance of the latter days,

"You have to be the best missionaries we've ever had, because no task has ever 
been put before a missionary like the one we're putting before you...
"We expect you to be mature, powerful, bold, spiritual missionaries. 
And you have to have an abiding conviction of this work in your heart."

While president Catala was bearing a very emotional testimony to us, you could feel how much he cares for each of us as his own. I mean, in every letter he sends, he addresses us as "Queridos hijos y hijas" (my dear sons and daughters).

Afterward, they had a pie eating contest and had I not eaten such a large breakfast, my comp and I may have won. Hey, but 2nd place isn't bad.

Small World
Monday when I was about to leave the computer cafe, I ran into an old friend - Hermana Robinson - who is now serving in the Concepcion South Mission.
Bumped into Hermana Robinson at the Cafe
She and I were in Zion Choir together and I had taken her to the Priest/Laurel Formal. The missionaries from the south come north on P-days because we have all the stuff.  Great to see a face from home.

Litter Patrol
It's not often that a bunch of guys will get excited about picking up trash, but our stake service project drew out our entire zone to clean up and beautify the lake shore by our apartment. It was fun.
Guess we picked up more than litter
Elder Fuenteabla, Hermano Del Rio, yo, Elder Oliviera
Certificates for running around the Lake
Keeping the Sabbath
This week Elder Brewster and I visited Viviana and family to teach them about the Ten Commandments. Viviana's two boys play soccer on Sundays so we were a little leery about how this lesson might pan out. But when we asked the boys if they were going to keep the commandment to Keep the Sabbath Day Holy, they instantly said,
     "Yes, our mom has now forbid us from playing on Sundays, so that we can be baptized on the 5th with her!"

Viviana had attended Carmen and Camila's baptism and loved it. She went on to share how she'd like to see her sons pass the sacrament.

So great!

Love to All!
Elder Connor Nef

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Power of Everyday Missionaries

Um...some doors are a little more challenging than others
Ya. It has been one of those weeks. One investigator wants to postpone baptism (at least it's still on the table). Another may have compromised her standards, and another investigator is fearful of committing. He doesn't want to be judged by church members.  And my comp's toe - well, it's infected again.

A damper has been put on the work.  Such are the highs and lows of missionary life. It's what we expect, but we hope for the best.

Splits and Sushi
Late in the week, I had splits with Elder Lopez from Uruguay. Great guy. What does one do at the end of a long day of work? Sushi!
Sushi and Elder Lopez
3-1 = 2
Sunday night we get a call from the president saying that Elder Oliviera is being transferred to Chillan because another elder was going home. Makes me sad. Oliviera was a nice addition to the work here. Now we have no more trio.

And since Fuentealba's toe is infected again, I am back to working solo with the members - which works out great.
Elder Oliviera, Elder Fuentealba, y Yo
I also felt prompted to write a bunch of letters to the members in my first area, Quillon. I heard that since I left, the ward has dwindled a little. I felt really good after writing the letters, so I hope they help.

New Goal: 2 References/Day
The mission president set a new goal: 2 references from members per day.  Boy, it was difficult for us to get one reference a week! President even went as far as saying, "If you visit a member and they say that they do not have any references (no friends or acquaintances who are interested in hearing the gospel) - you then ask them if there is another member they know who actually wants to work with you."


Looking at this from a missionary's perspective, it is awesome and bold. But viewing it as a regular life-long member, boy, I am realizing my faults in being a pro-active, responsible member.

Sure, I accompanied missionaries a few times, even went on a mini-mission, but I never reached out to get to know their investigators, and only once gave them a reference. I never did anything that we expect members here to do.

Power of Everyday Missionaries
As a member of a large ward back at home in California, there is always the ability to fade into the background when it comes to missionary work. But here in these wards and branches of 30-100 people, there is no hiding from the work. Everyone must be involved.

And we as missionaries expect the members' help: Finding, Teaching, Fellowshipping, Retaining.

Why? There is power in pairing with members!  Because of this, our goal is to get the whole ward involved.

This expectation has left me doing a little personal inventory. As a member, as a regular person of this faith who purports to follow Christ, bear His Name, and love my neighbor - how often are we really willing to help the missionaries?

My involvement with our good members has changed my perspective and therefore my resolve. I will be more helpful and involved even after the name tag comes off.

Hey All, Every Member a Missionary!

Love you guys,
Elder Connor Nef

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Tres Compañeros

Quail on the banks of the Bio Bio River
Found a Guy Named Gabriel
This week was awesome. Sunday evening we found a guy named Gabriel who contacted us on the street a few days earlier. He wants to fix his life and knows that coming closer to Christ is what he needs. He loved the lesson and is looking forward to more. Should be cool.

I found a part-member family, the wife is not a member.  When we approached the house, she originally rejected me at the gate, but her heart suddenly softened and she let me and Christian in. The lesson went well and we were invited back for second visit.

Cue Heavenly Choir
Then we taught Carmen and Camilla, and with this lesson we hit our goal of teaching 21 investigators with a member present!  WE HIT THE GOAL THE PRESIDENT HAS BEEN TRYING TO GET US ALL TO DO.  I swear I heard angelic choirs.

Speaking of Carmen and Camilla, they are close to baptism.  In fact, they and another family, Yesenia and her kids Michael and Tyson, could get baptized as soon as next Sunday! Praying like crazy for this.

Church Attendance - UP
Sunday was a banner day in that church attendance reached 78 - and 7 were investigators!  Among the attendees was Hermana Gadoy. She has been unable to go because of health issues, but came for her grandson's blessing.
with Elder Oliveira
Introducing, Elder Oliveira
The new elder to join us is Elder Oliveira from Brazil.  I like him. And I love having another missionary in the companionship because three = more splits = more people we are able to reach and teach.

With the help of good members, this tres compañeros thing is great. We are able to divide and conquer and accomplish quite a lot, and it feels good.

Have a Great Week Everyone!
Elder Connor Nef

Saturday, October 8, 2016

The Spiritual Kick of Conference

General Conference Weekend
Ah, General Conference weekend. I look forward to it because the spiritual kick I get from the messages inspires me on all aspects of personal improvement.  To add to the sweetness of the sessions, Sunday morning I made cinnamon rolls - a family tradition I shared with the elders.

I LOVED the talks. So glad four of our investigators came to the stake center to watch it. Throughout each session, I found common themes of missionary work (of all forms), repentance, and prayer.

Some highlights:
Inbetween sessions we went outside to do some contacting. The stake center is located next to the University of Cencepcion. Nice looking campus.  Then it was back to more inspiring sessions of conference. Good stuff.
Here we are in the English broadcast room
Transfer calls came this week and we learned that my comp and I are are staying as co-senior companions, and we are receiving another Elder.  I will introduce you to him next week.

I think I will end this post with a quote from the prophet. I think it perfectly sums up why I am here on a mission.

Have a Great Week, All,
Elder Connor Nef

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Bum Toe Steps-Up the Work

Cementerio Parque Concepcion  (Concepcion Cemetery Park)
Cementerio Parque Concepcion (Concepcion Cemetery Park)
Visited the local cemetery here in Concepcion. It's huge.

Bum Toe Steps-Up the Work
So my comp has been confined to the house because of his toe problem. The doctor took out the nail on his big toe and says that it will be at least another three days to a week before he can get back to work.  But I am actually more animated, because it has given the members double the opportunity to step forward and help in missionary service. I am so appreciative.

Let me tell you about a few of these good people who have been my companions.

The bishop has come out on some lessons. After hearing me teach, he told me afterwards that I need to ask more questions. He's right.  The more I hang with this guy, the more cool he is. For instance, he is a DC Superhero guy. Atta boy!

That is What I Want!
President Tapa, first counselor in the stake presidency, was good enough to join in on a lesson. President Tapa's story is an intriguing one.  He converted to the church in 2002.  Before, he was very much an Evangelical. His dad was one of those pastors who stood on a street corner with a megaphone yelling at people to repent. When Tapa was old enough to realize he did not have the authority of God, he converted to the Church.
"Peace to those to give Peace"

He was the perfect member to join in on our lesson with Juan and Silvana because they too were Evangelical.  The most powerful part of the lesson, for me, was when I bore testimony of the Book of Mormon. It sort of caught me off guard that my words came out in such a direct, powerful way. But as I spoke, this feeling of strength and internal peace filled me.

Juan noticed, and said, "That! That is what I want to have! That kind of assurance and conviction of what is True." He and Silvana are searching, even reading scriptures as a couple (they are now in 2 Nephi).

Officially Unofficial Companionship
One afternoon, Elder Cedeno came back from lunch sick, so while our companions convalesced, Elder Brewster and I set out together working in the Leguna Redona ward. That evening, we doubled the work when members, Cristian Lopez and Hermano Del Rio from my ward joined us. The evening was successful.
Elder Brewster at the Bio Bio River
The next day, Brewster and I teamed again, and the work was awesome. During one lesson, investigator Victor was asking about Faith and answers to prayers. I shared Galatians 5:22-23 (the Fruits of the Spirit), and 1 Kings 19:11-12 to demonstrate how answers come from God. Victor then said, "I like how you guys talk to God directly. Other religions just say to talk with a pastor or priest. Man can lie, but God cannot."

Working with members has proven successful because 8 INVESTIGATORS CAME TO CHURCH!!! SIX OF WHOM SET A DATE FOR BAPTISM. I am so grateful to be an instrument in this work.

How Did You Find Out These Things are True?
The Familia Lopez have been real superheroes this week, aiding in lessons, driving us around, even bringing 6 of our investigators to church! Seriously, this family is the BEST.

Anyway, during one of the lessons in which the Lopez's shared their conversion story, investigator Carmen looked at me and asked, "How did you find out these things were true?"

Surprisingly, that is a question I do not get asked that much.  Being born and raised in a strong LDS family in which we lived the gospel daily, my conversion is often times much different than that of a convert.  My testimony came over the course of my life, through the decisions I made. Through living what I believed. I kind of just learned to do the right things and ask God for confirmation of their veracity. Little-by-little, through many small experiences that have added up to a good life that made a whole lot of sense, I gained the testimony I have today. And, it keeps growing stronger.

That is what I shared with them, and what I leave with you.

Have a great General Conference weekend everyone,
Elder Connor Nef