Saturday, August 27, 2016


The Elders in our District

Always Be Ready 
This week's District meeting made me feel a little guilty about teaching with members - we have been struggling to get the help lately. Anyway, we talked about always having a member waiting in the wings to help with lessons because we never know (with their added testimonies) when God will work miracles.

Fortunately, that same day, we were able to have members with us all day, which gave us the ability to have 2 really cool lessons. And then we worked hard and rocked it with members for the rest of the week.

We started off at a member, Hermano Bello's house. We shared a spiritual thought and I felt like we should invite him to come with us to Juan and Silvana's house (even though it wasn't a fixed thing). He agreed, and after going on splits with some other members (and fixing even more appointments), we went to this couple's house.

Faith and Healing
Once we got to Juan and Silvana's with Hermano Bello in tow, we taught a lesson on faith, based on Ether 12:4,6 and 12:

Faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; 
wherefore, dispute not because ye see not,
for ye receive no witness
until after the trial of your faith...
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.  

We shared that Faith is to have an awareness of God and a full Confidence of His hand in our lives. We then gave a blessing to Silvana for her bronchitis. Hermano Bello explained awesomely that the healing from the blessing depends largely upon their confidence in God's power of healing. Cool. So glad that we had him with us!

Este Fue Gigante!
The other night we were on our way to the Bishop's house to get some keys, when out of nowhere, it began raining - hard. Needless to say, upon arriving at the Bishop's we were soaked, so his 5- and 8-year-old daughters came up to us andeach gave us 3 napkins to dry ourselves off. Adorable.

The rain continued that night. At about 5:30am there was thunder so loud it woke us up. 3 out of the 4 of us in the apartment would have been able to get right back to sleep if it weren't for the 1 who was freaking out - my comp. "Oh my gosh!," he kept saying, "Este fue gigante! (That was huge!)" Poor guy.

Follow the Prompting
Late in the week, we felt like we should visit an older lady in our ward (with health issues) who cannot attend church. It was a good thing we did, because she needed a blessing. After giving her the blessing, she bore her testimony to us. Very sweet experience.

Hamster of Happiness
Remember that Hamster of Happiness button you sent me that says awesome motivational phrases like,
"I'm awesome!
You're awesome!
Today is awesome!
The whole world is awesome! 

Well, the zone leaders love it. In fact, Elder Cedeño stole the button, only to later return it along with dozens of hamsters on post-it notes all around the apartment.  So funny!
Awesome job, Elder Cedeño

This weekend began with helping an investigator, Soledad, with some yard work. As we trimmed bushes, we shared James 1:5 with her and invited her to pray about the message.

Then we took ward missionary, Cristian, with us to knock some doors, and met this really good guy in his early 30s named Luciano. Gave him a Restoration pamphlet.

Next on the schedule: splits.  Elder Alvarado was able to teach 2 more lessons while I visited a less-active family.

One More Transfer
Cambios have come and I am staying here in Concepcion, but Elder Alvarado is leaving. My new companion will be Elder Fuente Alba, who is, apparently, a really great guy. I am looking forward to meeting him. This is going to be a great transfer.  Awesome!

Love to All,
Elder Connor Nef

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Gotta Catch'em All!

Elder Cedeño Elder Brewster, Elder Alvarado, and Me
A New Family
One day, we were out and our plans fell through and just as we were about to walk somewhere else, we spot a family. We decided to talk to them. 

They were standing just outside their house -- husband was smoking -- and we asked the usual: "Could we share a small message about Jesus with you?" "Sure, come in." We entered and began to tell them about baptism and the Holy Ghost, using Galatians 5:22-23 to illustrate the point: 

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy,
peace, long-suffering, gentleness,
goodness, faith, meekness, temperance..." 

After sharing the scripture, we asked, "Have you felt a difference between before we shared this message, and now?" And the wife, Katarin, almost interrupting us, said, "Yes! I feel at peace." The husband, Klamete, agreed.

We wanted to see if we could set another appointment with them. And they said yes! They are intrigued and definitely want to look into it. Hallelujah!

Gotta Catch'em All!
We had a lesson with some less actives who told us that nearly all the chapels in the neighboring stake are gym locations for Pokemon Go. Pokemon Go is  e v e r y w h e r e

I guess the thing to do is to try to get in on this missionary opportunity and have activities at the church buildings (since they are key locations for the game). 

What can I say? Gotta Catch'em All!

Noche de Hogar
Had a Noche de Hogar (family home evening) with familia Herrera in which we watched a video called Un Cambio de Corazon. It takes place in Honduras and talks about a kid who converts to the church from a life of drugs and alcohol, solely because his friend was willing to share his testimony and invite him to church. Pretty great. 

Then we had cinnamon rolls which I made (because they don't exist here). Everyone seemed to love them. 

Mission Soundtrack
Elder Brewster was questioning me about listening to movie soundtracks here in the mission. 
Elder Brewster: "Elder, does listening to Lord of the Rings help you feel closer to Jesus?"
Me: "Yes."
End of discussion.

Szpack and Kirk
Had a mini cambio where I left the sector and went with my district leader, Elder Szpack (pronounced Shpock). Szpack is from Brazil and acts a lot like my dad. It was fun. 

One of his investigators wanted to practice his english, so Elder Szpack had me teach the lesson in English. I've been speaking Spanish for so long, it was very hard. 

While on the mini cambio, we went out with a member, knocking doors by the banks of the river Bio Bio at sunset. 
Elder Szpack, a cool member, and me. 
All in all, it's been a great week. We are still trying to broaden our teaching pool - Bishop even suggested we advertise for our English class in the local schools. I think that's a great idea. If that works out, we can teach'em all! 

I will leave you now with a picture of the sunset on the Bio Bio. 
Until next week, friends,
Elder Connor Nef

Kirk out.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Just Grateful

The Zone Leaders and me
Things I am grateful for this week:
-  Ice cream farewell party for Elder Hepworth. He's been a good missionary. I wish him well in the real world.

-  One of my best friends, Elder Cedeno, is taking Hepworth's place in our house! He is from Ecuador, but knows English because he's lived in the states for years.

-  Cambios (exchanges) and good talks with Elder Rojas.
Concepcion Zone  (sadly, no sisters because the area is too dangerous)
-  Good music. Movie soundtracks have been especially inspiring.

-  The song, Hold On from the Secret Garden. The lyrics and music brought comfort this week.

-  Jeffrey Holland's talk and testimony on the Book of Mormon. We played it at a Noche de Barrio and the Spirit was strong. Also shared his testimony in a discussion with Juan and Salvina and the Spirit hit powerfully again.

Elder Alvarado packed away
-  Lessons on the Holy Ghost and investigators saying they feel that Spirit at our church meetings.

-  The whimsical discovery that my companion can fit into my suitcase (picture right).

-  The Bishop randomly singing falsetto soprano with some opera music. He won my trust right there.

-   Bishop giving a Sunday lesson relating the Power we have with Faith to Superman. Older people got into it because they read the comics. How awesome!

-  Ward Talent shows at the church. Fun and random.

-  Not grateful for fleas. They are creatures of the infernal pit.

But I am grateful for:
-  Packages from my family!!! Oh my gosh I got so pumped with everything!  Pictures, a French scarf and tie from my sister, shoes, music, a sock monster thingy, and scads of other cool stuff. So great.

-  My family.

-  Smiles from people on the street that I meet.

-  Finding the right words to say at the right moment.

-  Connecting.

-  Feeling God's love.

It's been a great week, everyone.

Love to All,
Elder Connor Nef

Saturday, August 6, 2016

If You Can Dodge a Wrench, You Can Dodge a Ball

Ward mission leader Hermano Del Rio, my comp Elder Alvarez, y yo at a ward activity
This week was one of knocking doors, talking like James Earl Jones, and trying to have more patience with my companion.  He's a bit of a neat freak and I am starting to annoy him. Even though my stuff is organized, I guess it's not enough for him. So I am trying to be more organized....and patient.  Both are not fun, but are great gifts to have.

Let's just say I'm glad to have the chill Zone Leaders in my house.

Congratulation Juan and Silvana!
After 25 years of companionship, Juan and Silvana finally tied the knot!  That evening, the ward put together a cute little wedding reception.
Juan and Silvana's wedding reception
I'm so happy for Juan and Silvana, now the next step is baptism.

Speaking of baptism - the mission president's goal for this month is lofty: 11 baptisms in every Zone for the month of September. If we can rally the members' help, I know we can do it.

Dodge Duck Dip Dive Dodge
My Zone played dodgeball this morning with the Andalien Zone. Found out that I am decent at dodgeball.  The key to remember is:  "If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball!"  (that's from the movie Dodgeball).

If You've Got an Itch...
Found out hydrocordizone cream works wonders on flea bites.  SO.  MANY.  FLEAS.

Lost in Translation
Saw a journal on display in a store. Something tells me that they used Google to translate the cover write-up.  Click the image to enlarge so you can read it.  So funny.

Remembah Who You Ah
Mid-week a bad cold hit me.  The medicine I took did wonders. Added bonus, the throat lozenge looked and tasted like a large Smartie. Delicious. Anyway, with meds I was able to walk around and work, and while forging forward I've sounded more and more like James Earl Jones' Mufasa.

I don't usually get sick but this is my 3rd time being ill on the mission. That's so weird.  With all the coughing and fever, I wonder if I have a touch of bronchitis.  Another thing to exercise my patience, huh.

During sporadic down time this week, I've listened to classical music (so nice! I'm probably the Elder with the most classical music), and I've read two cool talks: "Lock Your Hearts," by Spencer W, Kimball. Oh my gosh, this talk is powerful - a definite must-read for a mission.
"Lock your heart and leave the key at home." 
- Spencer W. Kimball
In other words, the best things in life are worth waiting for, and complete focus on the Lord and his work for two years is a small price to pay for a lifetime of blessings for yourself, and for others.

The other talk: 
"Beware of Pride," by Ezra Taft Benson.  Another must-read for everyone - especially for those who have a hard time with forgiveness.
"Most of us consider pride to be a sin of those on the top, such as the rich and the learned, looking down at the rest of us. There is, however, a far more common ailment among us—and that is pride from the bottom looking up. 
"It is manifest in so many ways, such as: faultfinding, gossiping, backbiting, murmuring, living beyond our means, envying, coveting, withholding gratitude and praise that might lift another, and being unforgiving and jealous.” 
—Ezra Taft Benson

There you have it - whether you are avoiding pride in its many varieties, or becoming frustrated with a companion, or whipped by a cold-bug, it's all a game of dodgeball, really.  So here's the strategy: when things come at you, keep your head in the game and dodge, duck, dip, dive, and dodge some more so you don't get knocked down or taken out.

And always remember: "If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball."

Until next week, Friends,
Elder Connor Nef