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