Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Bienvenidos a Chile

Well, we said our goodbyes at the Mexico CCM, and six of us (Elder Wirtz, Elder Hamilton, Hermana Holt, Hermana Panek, Hermana Manwaring, and myself) arrived 3 hours early to the airport. I spent the time talking with Elder Wirtz about nerdy stuff. Talked with a few people in line for boarding, the flight attendant, and the guy next to me on the plan (an electro engineer from Mexico City).

The Arrival
After 11 hours, one time change, a connecting flight, and two hours of sleep, we arrived in Concepcion, Chile to find our mission president and missionaries greeting us with a big sign. It was a happy welcome, but I have to say that I felt a little gross from having been in a suit too long in 85 degree weather with little sleep.
with President and Hermana Arrington
No matter. We were whisked away to the mission home for lunch, testimonies, and orientation, after which they paired us up with our trainers.

Teamed Up
I was teamed with Elder Nathan Cowley from Cary, North Carolina - my aunt Diane's ward! Small world. Funny, previous to my arrival, Diane gave me the heads-up, "Hey, keep a look out for an Elder Cowley from my ward. He's serving in Concepcion, Chile." Well, I didn't have to look far. He's a cool guy. Great trainer.
with Elder Cowley
Quillon, Chile
Quillon - marked with red dot
This week has been awesome. My first area is Quillon, an inland, rural, richer part of the mission. Some people have pools here. It seems like it's kind of a vacation stop for tourists. The area reminds me of California's Central Valley, only a little more humid, and instead of mountains, we are flanked on one side by a range that looks like the Saratoga Hills.

The temperature lingers around 100 degrees, but it hasn't bothered me at all. The food is delicious. Rice and beans are the main staple, and tomatoes are served with every meal.

Had a traditional Chilean drink comprised of juice, puffed wheat seeds, and a dried baked peach. It was good. The wheat seeds helped tone down the sweet and offered an interesting texture.

The people are nice, even when they completely reject us. The ward is small, 80 people, and I am closest (so far) with the ward mission leader, Mario. Great guy.

Apparently My Accent is On-Fleek
We live in a small house on the property of a less-active. They are cool, but I can't understand them much. I can't really understand anyone yet because Chilean is spoken fastest, slurred most, and comes with more slang than other forms of Spanish. However, what little Spanish I do speak, people keep remarking on how good my Chilean accent is. Go figure.

Chileans Like to Share - and So Do We
When we got to our area, we had no investigators. However, on Friday a miracle occurred when we went to the chapel for a ward party. The Hermanas were going to teach a guy at the church a few hours before the activity, but he didn't show up until we did. Mario, the ward mission leader, started talking with him and signaled for us to come over and give him a blessing. He told us his problems (Chileans like to share) and we gave the blessing (my 3rd time anointing in Spanish). Then my companion shared a lesson and the guy set a date for another visit and committed to come to church. Nice!

I know this may be hard for many of you to believe, but I don't talk much. Yep, the language barrier has me temporarily stumped. But this was expected, and I know the challenges I am facing are only a passing thing. Just give me a little time and practice and you won't be able to shut me up.

I am a soldier in the Lord's army and it's Go-Time!
Elder Connor Nef

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