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.

Elder Connor Nef

Tuesday, May 23, 2017


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


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