Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Hiked the Andes

Nevados de Chillan and the Las Trancas Valley
Check out this view, you guys. We hiked the Chilean Andes! So awesome. This range in central Chile is called the Nevados de Chillan and is actually a string of stratovolcanoes making up the southern volcanic zone of the Andes. Pretty cool, eh?  The three volcanoes:
Cerro Blanco (Volcan Nevado)
Volcan Viejo (Volcan Chillan) - the oldest of the craters
Volcan Nuevo - the new guy
Volcan Viejo was active for some 2 centuries which slowly birthed the New Volcano (Volcan Nuevo) in the early 1900s. Then by the mid-1980s the baby Nuevo dome outgrew ol' Viejo. The activity of the volcanoes is becoming more frequent. The latest eruption (albeit small) was just in January of this year when a dark gray ash plume spewed from one of the new craters.

But today on our hike, it was calm and gorgeous.

99.999% Planting
The past few weeks have been interesting because we have amazing first lessons with people, but by strange circumstances we are unable to contact them for a while, and then when we do - they are suddenly not interested or they stop progressing. Hmmm.

Patience is the lesson I am learning. Patience with the logic of the people here. Patience with investigators, and with God's timing. Yet despite setbacks I have felt oddly happy.

Sure, on paper we don't look like we are doing much, but 99.999% of mission work is planting seeds and hoping they grow.
View of the Nevados de Chillan from the bus
The Blessing of Blessings
Lately we've been giving a lot of blessings to the Hermana's investigators. At least one per week. Seeing the Priesthood power bless so many is a wonder to experience.

For instance, Fernanda cried tears of happiness after her blessing. Cool.

Then there was this older couple whose son died 13 years ago and since then they have shut God out of their lives. I felt inspired to share a passage from Doctrine and Covenants 122.

If thou art called to pass through tribulation...
If fierce winds become thine enemy;
if the heavens gather blackness...
know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience,
and shall be for thy good...
The Son of Man hath descended below them all.
Art thou greater than he?
Therefore, hold on thy way...
Fear not...for God shall be with you forever and ever.
D&C 122:5, 7-9

I don't know how this helped the couple, but I couldn't help but feel that those words were for me - that no matter what happens "life will be ok, son." I felt it sink in so personally that I got all choked-up and almost cried.

Manwaring Musings
Hermana Manwaring, a sister missionary in our zone, has some hilarious experiences from her first few months in the mission. It is so fun to hear her tell them.
Me,  Elder Cowley,  Hermana Miner,  Hermana Manwaring,  Hermana Guymond
For example:
She was in a lesson with an investigator and the investigator tells them that oddly everyone has been getting sick on their street.  Manwaring thinks, "Now that you mention it, I don't feel so hot either." But they continue the lesson anyway, and in the middle of the message, she gets up, runs to the front yard, and throws up. Pukes.

But here's the rub: her companion makes them FINISH the lesson, so Manwaring has to stay and teach with remnants of barf on herself.

Power Trio
Our trio of sisters are a powerhouse. Another of their golden investigators is getting baptized this week. All three hermanas are work horses and we all get along like family.

This Week's Fun Facts:
-  Ate dried seaweed for the first time. Went from crunchy to chewy real quick. Tastes like ocean.
 Tried a Chilean nut called Castana. The raw nut tastes like a weird mix of chicken and nut.
-  Uprooted a durazno tree at Pascual's house. Surprisingly, it took only 30 minutes.

Miracle of the Week
Our miracle of the week was Roberto. A year ago he went to church, even bore testimony in meetings, but missionaries had to drop him because he couldn't give up the party-life. When we found him and had our first lesson, he explained how he's changed. The partying caught up with him and he contracted diabetes, which means he cannot drink any longer because booze has sugar. Can you thank God for diabetes?

Well, let's hope his strong faith in God will lead him to commit and transform the rest of his life.

It's been a week of hiking and helping and blessing. Good stuff.

LOVE YOU and can't wait to skype home this Sunday for Mother's Day!!!
Until then,
Elder Connor Nef

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