Sunday, July 23, 2017

Juan in a Million

Elder Garcia and I on a trip to the snow

While we continue to teach our ongoing investigators, and zone conference (focused on the Plan of Salvation) was awesome, I want to take some time to introduce you all to one of the new people we have started to visit and teach. His name is Juan.

We met Juan on Thursday when we were knocking doors. My companion decided to randomly lead off with the Word of Wisdom (not our usual starter), but something worked because Juan invited us inside to discuss biblical evidence for it. We read from 1 Corinthians 15 where it says that our bodies are temples, and we should treat them as such. Juan seemed to like what we were saying and committed to live it.

Nachos with the Sotomayors
Flash forward a few days:
We pass by on Saturday to check in on Juan. Turns out the dude had not only read the Word of Wisdom pamphlet we'd left with him, he had ALSO started to live it - completely cut out coffee and tea from his diet. Even better, he asked us to teach him another lesson. OK! So we started teaching him about the Restoration.

Part way through he interrupted us to tell us about an out-of-body experience he'd had. A while ago, he died in the hospital, and his spirit left his body and tried to go to the Spirit World, but he couldn't get in because he was "locked out." So his spirit then returned to his body, and he revived even though he was already being sent to the morgue. Luckily the shocked doctors came rushing over to help him out.

He also shared with us a dream he had where he was alone and dying in the desert when out of the blue a dove flew out from his shoulder and gave him the "water of the life of Christ."

Because he shared these experiences with us, we had a good discussion about what all of this could mean. The Spirit in the room was strong as I told him that he was saved so that he could find the restored gospel, and that we were there, like the dove, to bring him God's word.

He accepted the challenge to be baptized and to come to church. Sure enough, he came on Sunday: in fact, he even arrived early before we did! BLESS YOU JUAN!

with Hermanas and Leandro in Ward Council

It's people like Juan that make this work so rewarding. He's so open to hearing the gospel, and when he hears what we have to say, he doesn't just like it - he does something about it! Juan is opening himself up and is willing to let God come into his life and change it all for him. Juan, my companion, and I - we can all see the change happening already.

I hope Juan continues on this journey he's started, and I hope the same for the others we teach, and for the millions out there that are currently being taught, or will be taught some day.


I love the gospel, I love the Lord, and I love all of you.

Have a great week everyone,
Elder Connor Nef









Sunday, July 16, 2017

Short Message This Week

The work continues to go well, everyone! We have two people committed to baptism later on this month, and a few others in our teaching whom we have high hopes for. 

We're working and studying hard. Here's a scripture from my studies this week:

For 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. 
Ether 12:12


Eating hamburgers with the Uribe family.

Have a great week everyone!
Elder Connor Nef












Sunday, July 9, 2017

Happy 4th!

with Pancho, Elder Garcia, and Jose
Happy Fourth of July this past week everyone! My district and I celebrated our Independence day with a barbecue because yours truly here loves a good bite of liberty for lunch. Appropriately, many of the streets of Chile have names like "Independence", "Liberty", and so on. It's helping me get in the mood.

And let me just say that there's something in the air besides freedom and justice for all: the work is picking up here in Parral, and I am loving it. So many people are coming out of the woodwork with an interest in the gospel, and many of them have a connection to members of the church somehow.
Check out this horse hoof I discovered on the road. Cool.
Andres, for example, is a young man with a girlfriend and young daughter whose mother was a strong member that recently passed away. He says he doesn't like religions, but he does like ours. Or there's a sweet elderly couple whose daughter is a member, and they treat us missionaries like their grandkids. All of them came to church this week -- the first time this sector has seen investigators in church in a long time. Awesome!

Member involvement is also keeping our energy high. Leandro, the ward mission leader, continues to be an inspiration in how much effort he puts into his calling. Pancho is another member who, since his baptism five years ago, has accompanied all the missionaries in teaching investigators. And Jose, even though he's not much of a talker, heads out with the missionaries every single day. We so appreciate member help. They're the best.

In other news, it is futbol (soccer) season here in Chile, and that means that everyone drops everything to watch the games. And when I say everyone, I mean everyone (excepting missionaries of course): schools cut classes and show the games in the gym when the Chilean team plays. My mission president even asked us to pray that Chile wins. It's fun to see people so in love with a sport.
A view of the Andes from Parral
And I'm feeling that love directed to me as well. Parral is a gift to me. I feel so much love here: from the members, my leaders, other missionaries, my companion. It's such a blessing to feel all of this while doing the work of the Lord because it's like a reflection of the Savior's love for me.

I love you all,
Elder Connor Nef









Thursday, June 29, 2017

Picking Up Momentum in Parral

San Jose Street in Linares, Chile. Makes me feel at home
My companion and I are loving Parral. Elder Garcia (from Guatemala) just turned 20 this week (happy birthday!). We are working hard building up our teaching pool, assisted by our awesome ward mission leader Leandro.

Leandro is the best.

The area around Parral is very beautiful (and very cold. Monday was -5 degrees Celsius. That's 23 degrees Fahrenheit). It's near the base of the Andes, with a couple of rivers that help shape the landscape.



There are no native deer in Chile, but German immigrants brought some over from Europe in the 1950s. So you can find herds of German deer in Parral!



The enthusiasm some people have here for the gospel lifts me up. We were out working the streets with a man who has been making his way back from excommunication, and I was touched by his humility and his excitement to do especially home teaching. Makes me humbled and excited to help others feel that same eagerness to serve God and our fellow men.

Our mission president paid us a visit - here's Elder Garcia and I with President and Sister Catala.


We're picking up momentum in Parral! Wishing you a great week,
Elder Connor Nef








Wednesday, June 21, 2017

It's Cold in Parral, But the Work is Hot!

A view of the Andes from Parral, Chile
Well, I bid farewell to friends in Tierra Bella.  All the members were bummed about the area being closed to missionaries.  So was I.  Before I headed out on Tuesday, Hermano Del Rio came to the bus terminal to say goodbye and give me a sweet fur hat. Great guy.  Then I headed to my new area - Parral.  A quaint little town in the northern half of the mission.

Parral is riiiight there.
Other areas I have served are in red
Let Me Introduce You to Parral
Parral was founded in 1795 by the Viceroy of Peru, Ambrosio O'Higgins who originally named the town Villa Reina Luisa del Parral, in honor of the wife of Carlos IV, king of Spain.

Parral has some beautiful spots, but locals seem to be most proud of the fact that their little town is the birthplace of poet Pablo Neruda, winner of the 1971 Nobel Prize in Literature.

The church is a branch here - one of several branches in the District. Attendance on Sunday was pretty good - 110. And, we have the absolute best mission leader.  Leandro.

Leandro - Convert Extraordinaire
Leandro, now secretary of the Concepcion Mission, is a recent convert.  When investigating the church for six months, he studied all books of scripture: Bible, Book of Mormon, D&C, Pearl of Great Price, and he began compiling a binder of reasons why the church is true. In the process of his conversion, a lot of really good sister missionaries taught him.  The guy is awesome and I am almost certain he knows more than I do about gospel doctrine.

Introducing Elder Garcia
When I first arrived in Parral, my companion was no where to be found.  After half an hour of waiting, he pops on over with Leandro.  Elder Garcia is his name. He's from Guatemala and we get along great. Pictures to come.

Anyway, they were late because a sister missionary had left on a different bus and was dropped off on the side of the highway instead of at the terminal.

Parral, birthplace of poet Pablo Neruda
The Work is Awesome!
That very evening we packed-in three lessons. Then we found an Adventist family. Who finds a family on their first day in a sector!?  In the follow-up appointment with this family, they had invited their priest to join in.  Made me a bit nervous because I didn't want to duke it out. We're just here to spread the Good News and good feelings. But it ended up going well.

Weekly District Class
This week's District Class was held with the entire Zone. The Zone is the biggest of the mission - 30 missionaries.  It's also the most animated, united, geographically largest, most baptizing, happiest zone in the mission.  I am one of six District leaders.

It's Cold Here
Did I mention that I am LOVING Parral? It is cold.  Been having some severe wind and rain storms, but luckily I have a working electric blanket in the house (makes for toasty nights), and we have good members to feed us and provide sanctuary from the storms. 

But what's really keeping me warm is the Spirit in the work here.  It may be overcast and rainy, but there is a definite brightness in Parral.  It's like someone turned on a switch and I am wanting to talk all day like I used to. It's freeing.  I feel like myself again: talking, laughing, teaching, eating, meeting people, sharing.  

Maybe there is something to the birthplace of Pablo Neruda. Already, it's poetry.

Blessings to All,
Elder Connor Nef









Sunday, June 18, 2017

Leave It All On the Field

Transfer calls came. I am going to the country town of Parral and will continue to be a district leader. I saw my trainer, Elder Cowley, the hermanas I knew from the MTC, and a number of leaders I have known in my time here, and was able to say goodbye before they left to go home. Good luck guys!

I feel really motivated for my area. This video I saw a week ago has been going through my head - I want to leave it all on (or in) the field. My time here is precious, and I want to give the Lord everything I have. 


For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: 
for it is the power of God unto salvation 
to every one that believeth...
Romans 1:16

Have a motivated week,
Elder Connor Nef








Monday, June 5, 2017

Strive

Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods...
Come, my friends, 
'Tis not too late to seek a newer world....
[T]hat which we are, we are; 
One equal temper of heroic hearts...strong in will 
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
"Ulysses" - Lord Alfred Tennyson

I came across this video "Strive" this week, and I thought I would share it - for those who are having a hard day, and need to know the Lord is with you. He's got your back.


Strive on.
Elder Connor Nef











Wednesday, May 31, 2017

So What We Go Out


Chile coastline

Well, I know I talk about my companion's injured feet all the time, but this week they really...hit the road hard man! He's upright and mobile! That's right - his feet healed up enough for us to go out into the streets and talk to people all over the place.

We've been on it too. We've been organizing ourselves, praying our guts out, talking to anyone we come across. My scripture studies have been good. I've been practicing bearing a heartfelt testimony and being spiritually prepared to give it. I'm even exercising in the freezing winter mornings. In short, I feel awesome!

There's only one problem: we can't find anyone to teach.

With Elder Call.
It's no joke. We have had other companionships of elders come into our area to help us out and the results are the same. Nada. Zilch. Zero. We even have worked through a list of all those in this ward that need the priesthood still, but the guys on this list either don't live here, aren't home, or their address doesn't exist.

In fact, since we have been following the Mission President's new guidelines, our numbers have not only not improved, they have gotten worse. It's not the instructions' fault, and it's not our fault. It's something else. Weird.

But the work continues! While pretty much all the answers this week have been "No," I think doors are starting to open, and I hope to see the fruits of that.

For instance, Pablo (the man with the rough childhood that I helped find while on an exchange in another area) got baptized this week! What a treasure to know that I helped find him!

In other news, the ward family home evening the other night debuted a new hip-hop prodigy. It's a lovely four year old girl who treated us all to her rendition of a Wiz Khalifa hit. Here's a few of the memorable lines that she sang: "So what we get drunk. So what we smoke weed. We're just havin' fun, we don't care who see. So what we go out. That's how it's supposed to be. Living young and wild and free." Since she sang in English, I don't think anybody knew what she was singing.

with Elder Contreras and Toffee Peanuts
Comic relief for an otherwise challenging week(s).

But you know, missions are not supposed to be easy partly because Christ's Atonement was never easy. If we want to help in the salvation of others we must learn to take upon us a tiny bit of that burden. I hope I am up to that responsibility. 

I know that God lives, Jesus is the Christ, miracles exist, and that His Church is on the Earth today and this is it.

Love, 
Elder Connor Nef











Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Inside

Winter is coming
Did I mention my companion has foot troubles?  Yes, but now that is the least of his problems. Thursday we did not get into a single house.  Nada.  So we steered in the direction of the church and found a guy named Pablo. He lives in the Pradera, the ward next door, in the Leonera (lion's den - it's the most dangerous part of town). He is interested in the gospel, seems to have his heart in the right place, but we shall see.

That night, my comp started getting another migraine that carried on into the next morning. They usually last for only a couple of hours, but this one was a doozy. I called president and he is going to check with the mission nurse to see what else can be done. In the meantime, house arrest... I mean house resting, yes resting in the house.

Then we find out my comp also has a stomach virus on top of his migraine.  Which means, yes, house.

Our water keeps being turned on and off - I don't know why.

Don't judge me.
I didn't have a recipe or milk, but it tasted delicious!
Prep for Post?
Is this whole stay inside-thing (due to comp ailments) supposed to be some sort of prep for post-mission life?  Because I am supposed to go to med school?  Get patience?  Learn to study? Be a gospel guru?  Bake better?  Write better? Memorize things?  The possibilities are endless and at the same time hugely limited because I am INSIDE.

OK, I'm caving, can you send me yoga instructions?  No me importa! what others will think. At least this would provide some exercise and a little stress relief. I'll call it broga.

Despite being cooped up, I managed to go on some exchanges and find a couple of seemingly golden families to teach.  And members have been a tad better about giving us referrals - especially when we ask them for names of inactive members.  The plan is to visit the less-actives to re-introduce them to the Light of Christ, and let them know they have friends in the church.

I may be cooped-up inside, but God can turn any experience into something worthwhile. Something positive is going to come of this. I know it.

Pray for my companion. Pray for our area.

Love You, and Stay Healthy, Friends,
Elder Connor Nef






Friday, May 19, 2017

Reboot

My companion and I have decided to reboot our work in the area. We're starting from scratch. It's not easy, but with my companion's new shoe insoles, we've been hitting the pavement in search of the ready-and-willing to hear our message of Jesus Christ.

So we've been knocking doors, we've been making contacts on the street, and talking to everyone. Fingers crossed!


A Happy Mother's Day
What a great time it was to Skype with my family on Sunday for Mother's Day. Talk about my system getting a reboot!  Laughing, crying, sharing stories and advice.  My family is the best!

Now that I am rejuvenated by a call home and a fresh start, I'm ready to tackle the next week.
Pray for my area!

Love to All,
Elder Connor Nef







Thursday, May 11, 2017

When Fishermen Don't Fish

Boats on the coastal waters
As my companion's foot recovery seems to be ongoing, I have taken every opportunity to recruit the members to go on exchanges with me to teach and find. Doesn't always pan out. Seems lately there have been more cancellations than appointments. Doing my best, however, to change that.

Injuries and illnesses in the mission field are a funny thing. They coop a missionary up and re-direct his focus inward. Yes, when missionaries who are called to work don't work - the result is less than ideal.

Reminds me of a piece from Christian author, Max Lucado.  He told of a time when his father, his friend and he went on a fishing trip during Spring Break in a camper.  They arrived in the evening and excitedly anticipated the next day on the lake and the large bounty of fish they would catch.

But there was a problem. During the night, a north wind blew in, making it very difficult to open the camper door, much less try and fish on a white-capped turbulent lake. Max shares their reaction:
“No problem,” we said. “We’ll spend the day in the camper. After all, we have Monopoly. We have Reader’s Digest. We all know a few jokes. It’s not what we came to do, but we’ll make the best of it and fish tomorrow.”

So, huddled in the camper with a Coleman stove and a Monopoly board, we three fishermen passed the day—indoors. The hours passed slowly, but they did pass. Night finally came, and we crawled into the sleeping bags dreaming of angling. Were we in for a surprise. The next morning it wasn’t the wind that made the door hard to open, it was the ice!

We tried to be cheerful. “No problem,” we mumbled. “We can play Monopoly…again. We can reread the stories in Reader’s Digest. And surely we know another joke or two.” But as courageous as we tried to be, it was obvious that some of the gray had left the sky and entered our camper.

I began to notice a few things I hadn’t seen before. I noticed that Mark had a few personality flaws. He was a bit too cocky about his opinions. He was easily irritated and constantly edgy. He couldn’t take any constructive criticism. Even though his socks did stink, he didn’t think it was my business to tell him. “Just looking out for the best interest of my dad’s camper,” I defended, expecting Dad to come to my aid. But Dad just sat over in the corner, reading. Humph, I thought, where is he when I need him? And then, I began to see Dad in a different light. When I mentioned to him that the eggs were soggy and the toast was burnt, he invited me to try my hand at the portable stove. Touchy, touchy, I said to myself. Nothing like being cooped up in a camper with someone to help you see his real nature.
It was a long day. It was a long, cold night. When we awoke the next morning to the sound of sleet slapping the canvas, we didn’t even pretend to be cheerful. We were flat-out grumpy. Mark became more of a jerk with each passing moment; I wondered what spell of ignorance I must have been in when I invited him. Dad couldn’t do anything right; I wondered how someone so irritable could have such an even-tempered son. We sat in misery the whole day, our fishing equipment still unpacked.
The next day was even colder. “We’re going home” were my father’s first words. No one objected. I learned a hard lesson that week. Not about fishing, but about people. 
When those who are called to fish don’t fish, they fight. When energy intended to be used outside is used inside, the result is explosive. Instead of casting nets, we cast stones. Instead of extending helping hands, we point accusing fingers. Instead of being fishers of the lost, we become critics of the saved. Rather than helping the hurting, we hurt the helpers.
Having gone through a few companions with physical ailments, I have seen moments like Max's days in the camper come and go.  I think the best way to cope in such scenarios is to find ways to make it not about you,  

That's what the Savior would do.

Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.
Matthew 4:19
Come Follow Me by James T. Harwood
Have a Great week, Friends,
Elder Connor Nef







Sunday, May 7, 2017

Best Foot Forward


For working a grand total of 12 hours this week, I feel I did well.  My companion's foot troubles continue to keep us on convalesce.  This means more study and planning time for me, Not only are my studies awesome - they are also getting really creative.

My main focuses currently are to read:
1)  All the scriptures in the topical guide and Bible Dictionary about Christ.
2)  Jesus the Christ by James E. Talmage. Of 747 pages, I have a good 1/6 left to read (120 pages).

Some fun additional reads, I have been looking into the Twelve Tribes of Israel. I wanted to learn about the responsibilities and blessings of every son (or tribe).
Jacob (whose name was change to Israel) blessing his 12 sons
by Harry Anderson
Ephraim's Blessings
Most of the stuff I have found looks like it only applied to ancient Israel before Christ came. Ephraim got the coolest blessings, of course. Prophets have said it is Ephraim's mission to prepare the way for the coming of the Lord and to assist in gathering Israel.

Studying Ephraim's blessings spoke to me again about the importance of sharing the message of the Restoration and of gathering scattered Israel, which is what I am doing right now. Since my lineage can be traced back to Ephraim, then this responsibility becomes part of my birthright too.

I'd like to point out that Benjamin, poor guy, got the worst of the name definitions. At his birth, his mother named him "Of his mother's dying sorry."  Good thing Jacob stepped in and changed it before anything was legalized on a birth certificate because he changed it to "Of the right hand."

Something's Afoot in my Studies
I even got to the point that I studied feet in the scriptures. I studied feet because my feet are a common subject of conversation everywhere.

Basically there are two points of view: the Old vs. the New Testament. The Old Testament depicts feet as a symbol of choices in life (like the trails we go down) or as a symbol of conquest and victory.

For instance, when Isaiah is talking about Zion returning and Israel being gathered and redeemed, the Lord says:
How beautiful upon the mountains 
are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, 
that publisheth peace; 
that bringeth good tidings of good, 
that publisheth salvation; 
that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!
Isaiah 52:7

(Doubly cool verse: it talks about missionary work AND feet!)
Missionaries. Feet. Mountain.
On the other hand (or should I say foot!), the New Testament uses feet as the lowest, most vile part of the body -- so to wash, kiss, bow to, or cry over the feet of someone (like Jesus) was the biggest way of demonstrating respect.

Greatest in the Kingdom by J. Kirk Richards

In general, the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants follow the New Testament point of view, unless we are talking about Christ's Second Coming when He will touch His foot on the Mount of Olives. Won't that be cool to see.

Besides my studies this week, we have managed to get a handful of lessons. I have been feeling great about my organizing what time we have been able to get out and work -- and one of our investigators even got a baptismal date! Honestly, I feel really good knowing I am giving full-throttle effort, and that I am putting my best foot forward.

Love to all,
Elder Connor Nef















Sunday, April 30, 2017

President and Sister Nelson Light a Fire

Progress on the temple in Concepcion Chile
The week started out good and just got better and better until the week ended with a SPIRITUAL EXPLOSION. I'll start at the beginning.

My companion and I had a few good lessons at the beginning of the week. I'll give you the highlights. First, we met with Angelica and her daughter.


God, Jesus, and Me in the Clouds Together
Let me tell you about Angelica:  a couple of weeks ago, my companion and I were passing by a gate she was coming out of. We both silently felt like we should talk with her, but didn't say anything right away. But after walking a few feet, I felt compelled to turn back. Talking with her, we found out she was a member, but had stopped attending at 18 years old. She has a family now, half of whom are not interested, but her young daughter turns 8 soon and is more enthusiastic.

Misspelled tag
We taught them about God's love for us and our families and a bit about prophets this week, and invited them to read the scriptures, pray, and come to church. At the end, the daughter gave me a card she made during the lesson that had God, Jesus, and me in the clouds together. Cute!

The zone leaders ordered these gold name tags for us missionaries (right). Cool idea.  Only, they spelled about 1/3 of our names wrong, including mine.


Prayer Works!
In our visit with Lizet this week, she told us that when we prayed for the safety of her family last time that the prayer worked -- her son was on his way home from work when two guys tried to rob him, but he got away untouched. Prayer works!

Event-wise, two big things happened this week.


Chilean Census - I'm Counted!
One, the Chilean Census was on Wednesday, the first census in which I was an active participant (and it's not even my native land). Because we were not allowed to leave the house until the Census guys came (we just had to answer a few questions), that day replaced our P-day, and we were able to watch some approved movies from a church list while we waited.

Second, we had a special mission conference on Friday - with President Russel M. Nelson!


Conference with President Russell M. Nelson
My companion and I were the first to shake hands with Elder Nelson, his wife Wendy, and other leaders. As you might have guessed, the conference was awesome. Some of my favorite parts:
  • Wendy Nelson talked about the story of Elisha and the young dude with the mountains full of the armies of God -- she applied it to family history. Let me 'splain: She said when we go out and talk with anyone, we should picture about 100 more people more with them. We should picture their ancestors. She came up with the idea that instead of praying to find the people who are ready, to pray for the people whose ancestors have already repented and accepted the gospel and want their family united from the other side of the veil. Dope!
  • Elder Nelson told stories about interacting with leaders of other faiths, talking about the Bible and Book of Mormon. But the best part was the promise he made at the end, an apostolic promise: he said that if I feast upon the words of Christ, apply what I learn, and am obedient to my Mission President, then I will have success and joy, learn from bad experiences, and I will be strong when I return home - following my faith, me and all my loved ones shall be healed. BOOM!
You can imagine that I left that conference on fire! Even over the past few days, I have continued to feel the Spirit the same way. During my studies, I absorbed more than ever before. Calling a million people to organize exchanges and lessons was like nothing.


Aftermath of Conference
The aftermath of conference has been miraculous, really.  Hermano Del Rio even came a half an hour by bus from Lorenzo Arenas to do 2 hours of work with me - he's the BEST! (He updated me on my old area too: Lorenzo Arenas is baptizing a ton right now, which makes me feel happy. Made me feel like I helped plant some seeds and prepare the way.) 
with Hermano Del Rio
And let me just say, over two days, we completed 12 lessons, four of which happened in a single hour! At the end of the day, I collapsed when I got back home and said a good 25 minute prayer of gratitude.

I feel amazing - I have not felt so full of the Savior's love since some of my time in Quillon. And this might even beat that. 

I demonstrated to the Lord that I was willing to give everything to be a worthy instrument in the hands of God. I know I fall short sometimes, but God makes up for what I lack when my heart is in the right place and I do my best. I love God and love this work. And I know that with God's help, great things are going to happen here.

Love you all,
Elder Connor Nef






Sunday, April 23, 2017

The Lord is My Strength

During an exchange in Chiguayante, we passed by horses in a field
Another week of building up our teaching pool.  We spent much of the week knocking on doors, which gave us opportunity to talk to many people, and even teach them on their doorstep.  A not-so-perfect way to teach lessons, but it's hard to meet the mission goal of having a certain number of lessons with members present when member-help is few and far between and the only opportunities to teach are spur of the moment.

Frankly, when I get any little chance to share the Light of Christ - I'm taking it.

I'll tell you, this starting from scratch has been a slow uphill climb. Did I tell you that my previous companion tossed our phone in the water before he transferred, thus losing all of our contact information history?  Without contact information, we have been starting afresh.

Add to that, my companion is having foot trouble. Something with the tendon. The doctor is grounding him for a bit, so we have to get extra creative to work our area and rally member support.

Despite the setbacks, we have found a few people with potential. Thank Heaven.


Gladys and Gaston
One came on Saturday when I was able to get out for a good three hours (on divisions) and we FINALLY GOT INTO A HOUSE!  Gladys and Gaston. We talked about the Atonement and how Christ came to heal us. But for that to happen, we need to take action to draw close to him.  It was the most spiritual lesson I have had in a long time.

We committed them to come to church - AND THEY CAME!


Intercambios in Chiguayante
We worked a couple of days in Chiguayante, my old stomping grounds, to help the elders in that area. I teamed with my buddy, Elder Almeida (from Brazil) one day. We had a good time.
with Elder Almeida and a member
The next day, Elder Fuentes and I worked together. Everything about Elder Fuentes screams telanovela Mexicanas star. He's got the look, and he's got the house. I saw pictures of his mansion home back in Mexico, complete with a plaza and fountain. He's a great guy. We work well together.
Elder Fuentes and I on P-day
Never Short on Drama
Our first contact of the day was with a transvestite. He did everything to look like a woman, except shave.  His name was Sofia.

A couple of days before this, an old bearded guy riding a bike really slow, wobble/glided passed us screaming profanities into the air.  "The truth is in the Evangelical bible!" <profanity> <profanity> "Maldito perro!" <profanity> <profanity> "Maldito testigo!" When the guy on the bicycle swore at another passerby, I thought the passerby was going to deck him.  We're never short on drama.


The Lord is My Strength
From a list of scriptures the mission president sent out, one was particularly meaningful to me.  It is from the Old Testament during a pretty unprofitable time for the prophet Habakkuk.  He wasworking hard and not seeing the fruit of his labors.  This passage is his prayer.
Although the fig tree shall not blossom,
neither shall fruit be in the vines;
the labour of the olive shall fail, 
and the fields shall yield no meat;
the flock shall be cut off from the fold,
and there shall be no herd in the stalls:
Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will joy in the God of my salvation.
The Lord God is my strength,
and he will make my feet like hinds' feet,
and he will make me to walk upon mine high places.
Habakkuk 3:17-19

After reading that, I went to work knowing that God was with me.  Yes, a lot of my lessons were five minutes at someone's front gate, but I felt full of confidence, joy, and gratitude for being able to share any sort of inspiring message and be an instrument for God

Sometimes it seems like the only interest is to reach a goal of hitting a certain number/statistic.  But it always comes down to reaching that one person. Finding that one individual who is ready to hear the gospel.

If the remainder of my mission here is filled with simple contacts transformed into lessons - so be it. If it means I have the opportunity to teach - to share - I will take it.  Because, as long as I can walk, speak, think and breathe, I must share this message that Jesus is the Christ, our Savior, and leader of His Church, restored in these latter days through the Prophet Joseph Smith. And that the Book of Mormon is the word of God and testifies of these truths.

How lucky am I to be here and to be entrusted with something so valuable.

Wishing you all Strength in the Lord. Pray for my area!
Elder Connor Nef









Saturday, April 15, 2017

Putin' in Work

Enjoying it here - especially with this house of elders. Me, Portillo, Hershberger, and Contreras' eyeball
Work
We're working hard, and I know very well how to work without wasting time, but I still need to figure out how to organize the schedule so I can write letters, journal, talk members into coming with us on lessons, set appointments, verify stuff, study, and rest.  Time management is still a difficulty.

Frankly, it's been a tough week. Lots of members cancelling at the last minute. And with the mission focus of lessons with members, well, without members, we don't have many lessons.

In fact, we currently do not have any investigators. Nada.  But, we did get four lessons Friday morning by teaching in the gates of people's houses and handing out the pass-along card with the Church Easter video Principe de Paz (Prince of Peace).  Moises, elder Fuentealba's brother, came with us.

Hot cocoa with Diego
Trying to not let the lack of investigators get me down.  I am focusing on the positive this week!


April Showers
The rain arrived Thursday, and came pretty hard on Friday. Diego came with us to our appointments and gave us hot cocoa because it was cold.


Noche de Hogar
This week's Family Home Evening with the ward was an activity that focused on following the Spirit where we blind-folded someone and guided them with one person whispering directions in their ear, while the rest of the room was a cacophony of sound.  One person attempted to confuse them more by whispering opposite directions in their other ear.

The task was to get across the room to the Prince of Peace card. It was a demonstration of following the Spirit and the Prophet in order to get to Christ.
Found out that Rodrigo, our ward mission leader (holding the #TodaLaFuerza sign) who returned recently from his mission, trained a missionary who was with me in the CCM (Mexico Missionary Training Center) - Elder Rocha from Las Vegas.  Small world.


Easter Week
Well, it's Easter week. How grateful I am for the Savior's life and sacrifice. Our message is to share His life and love and light with the people of Chile, so they know who they can turn to for life and love and light.

When investigators are hard to come by, and time management seems to be a little allusive, I try to not let the voices of guilt or discouragement overspeak the Spirit.  Like the ward members in our blindfold follow the Spirit's voice game, I too, can listen carefully to the One who speaks peace to my heart.

I will close this blogpost with our scripture for this week.
And now, my beloved son, notwithstanding their hardness, let us labor diligently; 
for is we should cease to labor, we should be brought under condemnation;
for we have a labor to perform whilst in this tabernacle of clay,
that we may conquer the enemy of all righteousness,
and rest our souls in the kingdom of God.
Moroni 9:6
Putin' in work!

Happy Easter, everyone,
Elder Connor Nef








Tuesday, April 4, 2017

"Awakened with a Renewed Spiritual Freshness"

After investigating the church for more than 15 years, I had the privilege to teach and see sweet Sonia baptized. Here, Elder Contreras and I pose with and Sonia and (editor was not told the name of the gentleman).


Rapper Sebas #TodaLaFuerza
Sebas is my bro and loves helping missionaries (he's the guy who likes to rap).  The #TodaLaFuerza sign (All the Strength) is our mission motto, you could say.



Elder Tesch, Teacher of Missionaries
Elder Tesch's mission is teaching the missionaries in the mission. Because he has always been called to the far corners of the mission, this was my last chance to see him before he returns home.



Adios to Mission-Bound Leo
Leo, a local member, joined us at our Zone conference. He is leaving on his mission soon, making this one of my last chance meetings. He'll make a great missionary.



P-Day Basketball
Basketball with fellow missionaries and a few members is always a blast. Leo (right), Rodrigo, our ward mission leader (back-center) and his sister Claudia (center) pose with us.



Conference Week
This week was conference week - General Conference and Zone Conference.  And every conference whip out a batch of cinnamon rolls (a family General Conference tradition I brought from home).

We made invitations to General Conference for our investigators.

Conference is always a welcome boost, especially now since my comp and I are starting from scratch in building up this area. Honestly, I can use all the inspiration I can get.

Normally, I'd offer a list of my favorite conference talks, but this time it would be too long.  Really great messages.

Well, Friends, I think it fitting to end this post with a quote from President Dieter F. Uchtdorf's concluding message.
"As we fill our hearts with the love of Christ,
we will awaken with a renewed spiritual freshness
and we will walk joyfully, confidently, awake,
and alive in the light and glory of our beloved Savior,
Jesus Christ."

Here's to a week, awakened, and full of joyful confidence!
Elder Connor Nef