Monday, November 20, 2017

Giving Thanks

Wild turkeys in Parral
Our whole district had a challenging week - few of us reached our goals.  Despite the rough patch, we had an inspiring Zone conference, and we performed a successful exorcism, which ended up blessing a family desperately in need.

I am grateful.  How appropriate that this week is Thanksgiving.

Giving Thanks
What do you say we mark this as the season to make it a habit of collecting blessings.  Let's catalog the Lord's kindness.  Assemble reasons for gratitude, and state it.  Daily.  This was the apostle Paul's advice to the Thessalonians.
Rejoice evermore.
Pray without ceasing.
In every thing give thanks:
 for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Look at the sum total of those terms:  Rejoice...when?  Evermore. often?  Without ceasing.  Give what?  In every thing.

Gratitude is a conscious choice in all circumstances.  Good weeks and not so good weeks.  

Elder Sharp, Elder Aparicio, Elder Evans, and me

This is the Lord's work. The Church is True, and boy am I grateful to be a part of it.  Working 'til I drop.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving, Everyone. And, save me some turkey and stuffing!
Elder Connor Nef

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Hats Off to My New Companion

We had such a great ward activity this week: Noche de Sombreros (Hat Night).  Check these guys out!  Just for the fun of it, they came in homemade hats, purchased hats, decorated hats. We played games and had a fun time.

Introducing Elder Evans
My new companion is Elder Evans. He hails from the midwest - Indiana.  This is his first week in Chile, and I have been given the privilege of training him, which wont be a challenge since he is a chill dude and very excited to work.

We've been focusing a lot on teaching with questions, which is a bit of a hurdle since he does not yet understand the locals (it'll take time), but Elder Evans has initiative.  For instance, during one lesson, I paused and was searching for the right words, when Elder Evans put his hand on my shoulder and began teaching in his broken Spanish. It was great.

We have four elders sharing our apartment. Elder Sharp, my previous comp, is still there with his new green companion, Elder Aparicio from Malaga Spain.  Elder Aparicio's accent is very strong and the branch loves it.

Second Time's a Charm
One day as we were out on the street looking for new people to teach, we came across a guy named Ivan.  Elder Sharp and I ran into Ivan about 6 weeks ago and he wasn't interested in our message.  But as we talked with him this time, he was suddenly very interested and even committed to coming to church.  That was cool.

Joaquin out working with Elder Evans and me

Things are moving along. In fact, it's getting pretty hot around here - 36 Celsius (that's about 96 Fahrenheit).  Whew.  Hopefully our work will be just as hot.  Already, Elder Evans is headed in the right direction.  This week's gonna be great.

Love to All,
Elder Connor Nef

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

It's All About Progress

with Branch President Erpel in Villa Baviera

It's been a good week. Hit our goals.  Investigators came to church.  Two families have set dates for baptism this month!  I'm not winking in the picture. The sun was mighty bright in Villa Baviera.

Villa Baviera
You remember the Book of Mormon in German I mentioned last blogpost?  Well, we handed it out. Yep. Our Branch President Erpel (very cool dude) took us to the German community, Villa Baviera.

While in this community we taught 3 lessons (not too bad for 1.5 hours of work).  The area here is beautiful and large - thousands used to live here.  Now there are probably about a few hundred.  The reduced population probably has something to do with its sketchy past.  Some Nazi officer moved here after WWII and started the community.  He also started a new wave of mistreatment of people. As a result, a lot of extreme abuse and secrecy shadowed Villa Baviera for decades thereafter.

We found people who are still mentally and emotionally scarred, but who want to heal.  One guy, Jorgan, kept saying, "But everything is better now. We are happier now."  "Everyone is now free to do what they want."  These people are very receptive and love to talk.

It would be a very redeeming story if the people of Villa Baviera accept the gospel.

En route to Villa Baviera, President Catala called and told us that we need to prepare our house to receive two more beds.  We are going to have 8 missionaries in this branch, and Elder Sharpe and I will each be training two new missionaries!  Very cool.  I have 3 weeks to train the dude to lead the area.  Challenge accepted!

Manuel Quotes
One day while knocking doors, we found an alley where everyone is related to each other and receptive to our message.  One dude in particular was especially eager to talk religion - a Jewish guy with a beard named Manuel.  It was refreshing that he knew so much about the Bible, quoting Old Testament prophecies. "In Daniel, it says that the restoration of all things will come to pass two thousand years after Christ." 

That is exactly our message, Manuel!  Needless to say, our lesson with him was pretty great.

Caterpillars are everywhere here
It's All About Progress
In my studies, I came across the little gem in Moroni-
"Come unto Christ and be perfected in Him."
Moroni 10:32
Now, the word "perfect" scares a lot of people. It seems to be an unattainable standard - I mean, who on earth can be perfect? No one! But the word used for perfect here does not mean spotless, without flaw. The scriptural definition of perfect is related to maturity and growth - it's about wholeness. Completeness. Filling in any emptiness or unfinished parts of our character. So really, we're talking about progress and becoming better than we were yesterday.

The only way we can get to this valuable state is to do as the scripture directs: Come unto Christ. He fills in our gaps, and He completes what we haven't finished in ourselves. He helps us fulfill our potential and become better than we ever were. How? There's another scripture for that:

And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness.
I give unto men weakness that they may be humble;
and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me;
for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me,
then will I make weak things become strong unto them.
Ether 12:27

Weaknesses are a constant reminder of our dependence upon the Lord. When we take those  weaknesses to the Savior, we become effectively joined with Him in a great work. The work of becoming a little better every day.  It's about progress.  Moroni said as much. Here's the whole verse:

Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him,
and deny yourselves of all ungodliness;
and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness,
and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you,
that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ;
and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God. 
And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power,
then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God. 
Moroni 10:32–33

This is the message we hope to deliver to Manuel and our friends in Villa Baviera.  Change will start the moment we decide to Come unto Christ. 

Have a great week, everyone!
Elder Connor Nef

Monday, October 30, 2017

My Mission is a Chiasmus

Givin' It Our All
This week, we had one activity that totally bombed (poorly planned by our district - oh well.  Live and learn, right?).  Even though few investigators came to church and our appointments fell, our District is maintaining success.  My comp and I met our goals.  What's more -  I gave my all.  My comp gave his all.  We can't control everything but we are leaving it all on the playing field every day.

Work In Progress
During ward Correlation meeting this week, our ward mission leader did it again. He keeps communicating through me and doesn't call on or communicate with the sister missionaries. Not okay.  These sisters have a voice and a mind.  Guess you can call it a work in progress.  It'll get there.

This week's Fun Facts:
Someone offered us wine while knocking doors.

-  Parral produces a lot of asparagus. They even have an asparagus festival!  Funny, the members have never served us asparagus.

-  Book of Mormon in German arrived for those who live in Villa Baviera (the little Bavarian community here).

-  We helped arrange benches for a wedding.

-  With Spring, the mustard plants have shot up.

How Poetic
I realized that my mission is a chiasmus.
Chiasmus (from Greek χιάζω, chiázō, meaning, "to shape like the letter Χ")  
Term in literature in which clauses are written and then presented again in reverse order (it mirrors itself), in order to make a larger point. You find this method in poetry and in ancient scripture.
So, ya, it dawned on me that my mission is a chiasmus. I begin and end with a super cool, hard working, blonde, spectacled companion - paired for roughly three transfers each.  Beginning in the country and rounding finish in a country town.  It's all very poetic.

Happy Halloween
Bet you can't recognize us in our Halloween costumes. Elder Sharp dressed as me (he's wearing his contacts), and I as Elder Sharp. Pretty spooky, huh.

Have a Great Week, Everyone. And, Happy Birthday Grandma!
Elder Connor Nef

Monday, October 23, 2017

Little Tender Mercies

If you're gonna graffiti, have something smart to say. This reads, "Education is Liberty" - in cursive, no less!

You know, there are just some weeks when you see God's hand in the work. Little answers to prayers. Moments of synchronism with the universe. Glimpses of light that let you know that Heaven is watching and that you're not alone.  This was one of those weeks.  Nothing huge or earth-shaking happened.  Just nods from the Spirit that make you smile. Elder David Bednar calls them tender mercies.

Tender Mercies
Dude with the Long Hair and Guitar
One day we were walking through downtown and a tall dude with long hair and a guitar says, "Hi!" It took me a second to recognize that it was Antonio, one of my first investigators in Quillon.  The reason I didn't recognize him right off was that he had shaved his beard. We talked for a bit in English (that felt weird).  I think God is trying to tell him something.

On our way to a church activity with a member, we were telling him about our new investigator, Matias, and we look up at that very moment and see Matias pass by dangling out of a taxi yelling, "Friday at five!" - which was our next appointment with him.
Church activity with chocolate.
Crimilda and Co.
Two families came to our church chocolate activity. One family walked from the other side of town!  The mother, Crimilda, says things like, "I am planning to get my husband baptized too, even though he is not yet interested."  "I need to buy a skirt for church."  If that doesn't say Golden, I don't know what else will.

Hey Elders!  Need a Ride?
Thursday, we were needing one lesson with a member, when a car stops, "Hey Elders, need ride?"  It was a member from el campo (the country) who was dropping off his kid at mutual and then had nothing to do. Hm.  He joined us on our visit.  Once there, we were greeted with Mexican food!
Lunch with the District
Familia Rodriquez
We visited familia Rodriguez and they were adamant about not wanting to come to church, but by the end of our visit, they totally changed their minds and invited us to stay for dinner.  We graciously declined (since the dad is always worried about not having enough money to feed his kids).  Besides, we needed to get home.

I'm Hungry!
When we got home, I told my comp that I was hungry.  Right then the phone rings. It's Felipe saying, "Elders, where are you?"  "At our house."  "Well, we have extra linguica churipan.  How about I drop it off at your house?"  Sweet!  Tender mercies, man.

Moana - Connection and Identity
Last Monday, we got to see the Disney Movie, Moana, in Spanish. Sooo goood. Besides the movie just being overall fantastic, there were three powerful moments that tugged at my heartstrings.  

1.  The first was when Moana sings about leaving home for the first time.  

2.  Even stronger was when Moana is in her lowest state and the stingray shows up and Moana speaks with the Jedi grandma. I felt a shiver run down my spine with the accompanied feeling of connection with my family and ancestors. So cool.

3.  Upon seeing her connection to her ancestors, Moana finally realizes in greater depth who she is and what her mission entails, and belts out "Soy Moana!"  I got so pumped to go out and work even harder.  Awesome stuff.

Well, it was a great week.  Moments of positive twists and coincidences that make you feel like you're on the right track.  To top the week off, six of our investigators came to church on Sunday.  Makes me feel like we've got them on the right track too.

Here's wishing you all a week with tender mercies.

Elder Connor Nef

Monday, October 16, 2017

Golden Ratio

#TodaLaFuerza wrist bands

In his weekly letter, president Catala changed the mission goal numbers...big time:
         21 lessons with member present
          13 other lessons
          8 families in focus group
          5 new investigators
          3 investigators attend church
          2 investigators with set baptismal date
          1 baptism

That is a lot of work. 34 lessons in one week. Good news is - my comp and I have done it here before, so we know it's reachable.  But as I looked at pres' goal, I couldn't help but wonder about the number of numbers.  This is one long number sequence.  The previous goal was much shorter.  Hmm, curious.  As I thought about it - it finally hit me.  I know these numbers!  The light bulb of nerd nearly exploded in my brain.  This is a Fibonacci Number Sequence!

Fibonacci Sequence
Most people have heard of the Fibonacci Sequence from math class.  It's a series of numbers where one number is the sum of the previous two numbers.

The person we know as Fibonacci was actually Italian mathematician Leonardo da Pisa.  These numbers appear in his book Liber Abaci, published in 1202, which taught the western world the methods of arithmetic we use today.

photo:  nifty homestead
What's awesome about the Fibonacci Sequence is that these numbers appear in nature:
The number of petals in a flower is a Fibonacci number.
The number of spirals on a pineapple is a Fibonacci number.
And so on-
from galaxies
to hurricanes,
to sea shells,
and sunflowers,
and now our mission goals.
Our mission president is so cool.

Fun Fact:  Dan Brown used the Fibonacci Sequence in his book The Da Vinci Code.

Gold Star for Christofer!
We had a fun activity at the church this week where we were divided into teams and had to find answers to questions of the soul in the Book of Mormon.  My team had the questions:
"Will I be with my loved ones after this life?"
"How can I know that God has a plan for me?"
I found the scriptures in Alma 40 and Moroni 10, but Christofer, my recent convert, explained it in front of everyone.  He is AWESOME.  That just makes you feel good.

Something's A-Foot in the Plaza Jerusalem
By Saturday, we reached our goal: 23 lessons with members, 12 others, and 8 new investigators. Awesome!  It got to the point that the teaching opportunities came to us even when we weren't looking for them.  For instance...
Plaza Jerusalem
There's this guy named Leonardo, who came up to us a few weeks back and said that he had listened to missionaries 15 years ago. That was that.  Well, Elder Sharp and I were studying in a small park when Leonardo pops up and wants to know what we were reading.  (You don't need to tell us twice about a good teaching opportunity!)  And he says, "I want to go to church."  And he did. Showed up to church all by himself.  By Sunday evening, Leonardo set a baptism date of November 4th. Gold!

The park we were in, by the way, is called Plaza Jerusalem.  While we were in this park, a strange gypsy ginger lady came up to us asking for a picture of Jesus. So we handed her one, and she left.  In the middle of our lesson with Leonardo, she returned and gave us each a blue plastic stone.  Something's a-foot in the Plaza Jerusalem.

Goals are lofty.  I am going to try to get my entire District up to the Fibonacci Sequence before I go.  Lots of work for the last 6 weeks and I wouldn't have it any other way.


Love You All,
Elder Connor Nef

Monday, October 9, 2017

Restoration Continues

Activities with Other Districts
We got together with the Longavi District(above pic) and made Argentinian sandwiches. 
Check it out:

Today, we connected with a neighboring District for futbol, ping-pong, and Colombian food. Fun.

Old Southern Women - What Can I Say?
So, I had a dream in which an old sassy colored woman told me to wash my face and teeth at night because I need to look my best to find a wife.  Even though I feel like I have time enough to not worry about that type of thing, I am taking the sassy lady's advice.  I am also making my bed and keeping my desk more organized (don't faint, mom).  Old Southern women - what can I say?

Battle Plan
We learned that recently baptized Justin has been facing a bit of opposition from her very evangelical mother. Justin's mom has been dragging her to an evangelical church during the week.

Battle Plan:  Convert very evangelical mom.

So far, we're making advancements, as Justin's mom is now reading the Book of Mormon.  This could end up awesome.

Polite Inconvenience
Perched next to a 3'x3' gaping hole in the sidewalk, this very polite construction sign has been here for over a month, and it looks like nothing is going to change any time soon. Hilarious.
"Sorry for the annoyance. We are working for you. Our apologies to you."

Unlike the sidewalk, our work is going great.  We have some families, and a few individuals listening to the discussions. One family even walked 40 minutes to get to Church on Sunday!

Tuesday, we cleaned the church building in preparation for Zone Conference the following day.

Zone Conference
President started conference with several themes, many paralleling themes from General Conference.  We heard statistics, watched a church history video, and then the General Authority in charge of Missionary Work talked about our role in the Restoration of the Gospel.  

Quoting President Deiter F. Uchtdorf:
"Sometimes we think of the Restoration of the gospel as something that is complete, already behind us—Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon, he received priesthood keys, the Church was organized.  In reality, the Restoration is an ongoing process; we are living in it right now.  It includes 'all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal,' and the 'many great and important things' that 'He will yet reveal.'...  The exciting developments of today are part of that long-foretold period of preparation that will culminate in the glorious Second Coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

This is one of the most remarkable periods of the world’s history!  Ancient prophets yearned to see our day.

When our time in mortality is complete, what experiences will we be able to share about our own contribution to this significant period of our lives and to the furthering of the Lord’s work?  Will we be able to say that we rolled up our sleeves and labored with all our heart, might, mind, and strength?  Or will we have to admit that our role was mostly that of an observer?"     (Are You Sleeping Through the Restoration, April 2014)

It's an exciting thought to realize that the Restoration continues and that we are all part of this awesome work.  And, my time here in Chile puts me in a remarkable position to help:
-  Restore families as we reveal that they can be together forever.  
-  Restore the thought of divine heritage as we share that, yes, they are a child of God.  
-  Restore relationships as we teach about forgiveness and repentance.
And, especially restoring their connection with their Savior.

It's all about reinstating, renewing, bringing back, reconstructing what has been broken or lost or forgotten.  God's Plan is all about restoration.  And, it continues.

Love You Guys!!!
Elder Connor Nef

Monday, October 2, 2017

General Conference and a Baptism - Doesn't Get Any Better

with Hermano Correa, Cristofer, and Elder Sharp
Cristofer's Baptism
In between the first and second session of General Conference, Cristofer was baptized.  He was well received by his branch family, even choosing Hermano Correa, the brother who befriended him at church from day-1, to do the honors.  It was a really happy event.

Sticky Buns and the Shield of Faith
For this week's District Class, I made sticky buns (you can say that I have my district eating out of the palm of my hand!). I taught about bearing testimony, and I made the point by using the Armor of God - comparing the Shield of Faith to the Spartan shield.

Spartan Shield
Spartan Shield
The Spartan shield (also known as the ‘hoplon,’ which comes from the word hoplite for the Greek infantrymen) was made of wood, covered in bronze, and supported by laminated leather strapping.  Those layers, along with the curvature and weight (about 30 lbs), gave this piece of armor unmatched strength, enabling them to use it as an instrument of offence as well as defense (able to deliver more force than a car wreck).

Because of its power and versatility, the Spartan shield was considered (along with the spear) the most important piece of armor.  So vital was this piece, that soldiers who lost their shields in battle were punished severely afterwards. 
       When the Spartan king Demaratos was asked, "Why are men dishonored when they lose their shields but not when they lose other pieces of armor?" 
       The Spartan king responded, "Because the latter [other armors] they put on for their own protection, but the shield is for the common good of the whole line."

Drawing the comparison between a Spartan shield and our shield of Faith (our testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ) is an easy one.  It becomes our instrument of offence as well as defense, which is for the common good of the whole line.  I love it when I can nerd-up and teach.

General Conference
Elder Sharp and I watching General Conference broadcast
I loved conference. Here are some highlights:

I don't know about you, but I am inspired!

With that, have a great week, everyone!
Elder Connor Nef

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

He Did This Time!

Headed to Stake Conference in Linares with this good-looking group
It may have been raining much of the week, we may have biked and walked until our treads were smooth, with days of cancellations and no one letting us in - but our spirits weren't dampened.  It was good work.  Yes, much of the week was slow-going, but Friday everything changed. We taught 12 lessons on Friday alone.

Pancho (ward member) and I were even able to teach an atheist who wants us to return. That would be the ultimate turn-around.  And then there is our golden investigator, Cristofer.

Cristofer, the Young Adult
One day on splits when I headed out with Leandro, we ended up going to Cristofer's house.  We pass by this guy a ton and he is almost never home, but he was this time!

Earlier, when he wasn't home, we would simply leave a pamphlet every time with hopes that he would read it.  By now he had a handful of them.  And, come to find out, he read all of them and said, "The material was really good. They answered my doubts."

Carved from
Fish bone
Later in the week, we taught Cristofer a few more lessons and found him so prepared, he was basically teaching us the principles.  I have discovered that if you teach the first 3 lessons well to an investigator and he/she has lots of member communication, he/she will understand lessons 4-5 perfectly.  This was the case with Cristofer.

Later still in the week, as my comp and I were planning our schedule, Cristofer's name came up - and his baptismal date.  I felt that we should change it to an earlier date.  He was ready.  Shoot, he even wants to go on a mission right away!  Elder Sharp hands me the phone and I dial.

Cristofer NEVER answers his phone, but he did this time!  So I ask, "Cristofer, what would you think about getting baptized this Saturday."
"I think it sounds great," he says.

I then phoned the branch president to get permission for the service.  Branch pres never answers the phone, but he did this time - and he gave us the green light.

[cue angel choirs]

Plus, this weekend will be General Conference!  So great.

Have a blessed week, Everyone,
Elder Connor Nef

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

It's Parraldice

with Elder Gonzalez at the entrance monument to Yierba Buenas
What can I say?  It has been another terrific week. Parral is simply a blessed area, and I am doubly blessed to be working here.

Yierbas Buenas
Mid-week, we had an intercambio (exchanges) with the zone leaders.  I paired with Elder Gonzalez and worked in Linares.  He's a really cool dude from Santiago, and as a Chilean, he was able to teach me a lot about how to teach even better.  We meandered into the campo for lunch (noodles with a mackerel and kelp salad), then headed into the farming town of Yierbas Buenas (Good Herb) [-insert favorite joke here-].  The town is newly open to missionary work so everyone seemed more receptive to our message.

Fiesta Patrias - El Dieciocho (the 18th)
It is Chilean Independence, folks, so nothing is open. From Saturday until Wednesday, the nation is in lock-down celebration in honor of Chile becoming its own nation.  So we celebrated with our ward.
The picture doesn't show it, but there were a lot of people there, and 13 of our investigators came!  There was great amounts of food, and games like dodge ball, cup pong, and tug-of-war. Performances of Cuaiga Paillas, a type of Chilean limerick poetry, rounded out the evening.  Kind of like these:

by Bennie6 Haiku Poem

Chile ha sido
llamado la "Tierra de
Lagos y Ríos."
(Chile has been called the "Land of Lakes and Rivers")
Si tú estás en
Chile, y hace fresco,
¡prueba el chile!
(If you are in Chile, and it's chilly, try the chili!)

by Rajat Kanti Chakrabarty

Crooner Bruner loved his schooner 'Billie'
 He took a short holiday in Chile
 He went to Torres del Paine
Crooned across the terrain
And came back home with a robust chili 

It's More Chilean than Beans
I had quite the Chilean lunch: meat kebab, empenada, and mote' con huesillo (a beverage made from wheat and peaches). As they say out here, "It's more Chilean than the beans!"

Let's See Where the Spirit Takes Us
One evening when our appointments began to fall, my comp says, "Let's see where the Spirit takes us."  We started heading out, and think at-the-same-time MIRIELA.  Miriela was an investigator we dropped a while back.  So, we stop by her house and she invited us in. She admitted that whenever she felt bad, she would see us around town (hint, hint, girl, God is trying to get your attention).

We ended up having a great lesson with her. She felt the Spirit, though she has doubts about a living prophet and apostles. Let's hope that upcoming General Conference helps resolve those doubts.

Seba's Baptism
Seba was baptized on Sunday with his whole family present. All are inactive or non-members. He's a great example.
Elder Sharp, Seba, Roberto Espinosa (Young Men's President), me 

Dynamic District
Elder Sharp, Hermanas Vidal, Wendel (back), Rios, Contreras, me
At redimiento de cuentas, I learned that my district is the strongest one in the zone - probably the whole mission.  Doesn't surprise me.  These sister missionaries are dynamic.  Parral is a special area - a privilege to serve here with a district of hard working missionaries.

It's Parraldice!

Love to Everyone,
Elder Connor Nef

Friday, September 15, 2017

Hail Mary!

with Elder Sharp and Elder Lecheminant
We've had such a great week, everyone.  We bought a stove. Got our bikes fixed. Knocked doors.  Had some great visits.  Met goals, set baptismal dates, and have a nice group of investigators to-boot.

Give it Another Go
So, a couple of weeks ago while knocking doors, we visited a former Catholic priest who is now married with a family.  He told us back then to not return. Well, we decided that we'd ignore his suggestion and give a visit another go.  We returned on Tuesday. When he was about to send us on our way, my comp said, "Hey, we just want to sing a hymn with you."

They let us in.

We sang and talked which naturally led to our inviting them to a church activity. "Oh no," says the wife, "You try to get people to go to your activities and you are sneaky about it."

Sneaky!? We were a little confused.  "I know," she said, "because that is how I got baptized into your church!"

Whuuuut?  We ended up having a lesson WITH A MEMBER PRESENT. YESSSS!

Church Activity with the youth

Ana Maria, Missionary
We visited Ana Maria and taught about Patriarchal Blessings. She is doing great and so full of love for the gospel and her family that she's bent on seeing to it that her entire family is baptized.  Many of them attended her baptism (it is always great when there is family support for something life changing).  Anyway, we set up a family home evening with her family. Fingers crossed.

Maria and Maria
The other night my comp decides he wants some brain food, so we stopped by a place to buy him something, and as we were leaving the story, a lady calls out, "Hi Elders!"  A group of ladies are standing there, so we go over and introduce ourselves and my comp begins talking to one, whose name was Maria, and I make conversation with another, who also happens to be named Maria.

The Maria I talk with turns to her friends and says, "These guys baptize like Jesus was baptized - by immersion. And, I have heard that when you go to their church you feel a warm comfortable feeling."

Turns out, Maria had friends in another town who were members of the church. So we talk a little more and bear testimony.  The Maria that my comp talked to happened to be a less-active member who we had never met. SO WE HAD ANOTHER LESSON WITH A MEMBER PRESENT!

Sharp Dressed Man
Sometimes investigators feel the spirit strongly in discussions, but honestly have a hard time making it to church on Sundays. Christofer is one of them. Well, we finally caught up with him and were direct about needing to attend church. And, guess what?  He came - in full-on suit and tie!

People thought he was a member. Hermano Correa befriended him and stuck by his side for all three hours.  During church we taught him and he set a baptismal date.

Speaking of church - we had 5 investigators show up to church.  That was awesome.  Since we had reached our goals by Saturday, Sharp and I were able to spend Sunday visiting members for referrals.

Cinnamon Incentive
We set up a friendly competition between adults and kids. Whoever wins receives a cinnamon roll from me.  Hopefully it's an incentive. I mean, it is for me.

It's one of the reasons I look forward to General Conference.  My family's tradition is making cinnamon rolls every conference - a tradition I have continued out here. Though, I will need to be careful this time, because last Conference I ended up eating 25 rolls.

Like I said, the week has been fantastic. Hit goals.  People came to church.  Thank you for your prayers.  Parral is seeing the results of that, and I am blessed to be a part of it.

Love to All,
Elder Connor Nef

Thursday, September 7, 2017

"I Have an Invitation for You"

Linares Zone: Matching shirts are from Mission Conference
Like a Well-Oiled Machine
Received word on transfers: Elder Sharp and I are staying in Parral for my final 12 weeks. Exactly what we wanted. Sharp and I make a good team. We're working like a well-oiled machine and want to keep the momentum.

Baptism of Ana Maria
with Ana Maria and Moises (who did the honors)
It has been a pleasure teaching Ana Maria. She is so receptive (even wants to go out with the Hermanas to bear testimony) that it is proving to strengthen her 4-year old son, Gabriel.

During one of Ana Maria's final lessons, Gabriel enthusiastically interrupted so he could say the opening prayer (which his mom had already given). It was one of the most adorable things. He hopes to be a missionary one day, and Ana Maria can't wait to go to the Temple.  She's solid.  In fact, when Elder Hershberger interviewed Ana Maria prior to baptism, he was blown away by how strong her testimony was.  YESSSS.

Well, her baptism was really nice with many family members and investigators in attendance.

Scratch the Squash
What do you do with a Chilean pumpkin?  Why, you make pie!  My first.  From scratch. Check it out:
Isn't it cool looking?
Carve. The skin was real tough.
There it is, ready to bake.
Blend the pulp. Mix with spices etc.
Pour into homemade crust. Bake. Voila!

Since I didn't have an entire day to spend on this taste of home, I extended the process out over a 3-day period of time.  And, I think it was worth it.  Everyone seemed to enjoy it at District Class.  Yum.

"I Have an Invitation for You"
A weird thing happened when we returned to knock a door we had knocked before.  The daughter of the lady we talked with answered the door and said that her mom was not home.  After dragging out the conversation into a lesson (missionaries become expert in this), the mom pops her head out and says, "I have an invitation for you...that you come in and have dinner with us."

She explained that she had felt too busy to receive us and told her daughter to lie, but then felt bad and wanted to let us in.  We were greeted with homemade bread and a large salad with boiled eggs and fresh vegetables.  Good stuff.

What a fantastic twist of events.  The gospel is true!

Viva La Mision!!!
Elder Connor Nef