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: lds.org
The surrounding neighborhood looks more like Cupertino, California than Chile. Here's an aerial shot:
Concepcion Chile Temple construction             photo: lds.org
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