Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Decided to Knock One Last Door

Horse and her new foal
What a great week. We had one baptism with 2 others in queue, 3 investigators came to church, an inspiring Zone Conference, lessons taught, families found, goals met. and I've got an awesome companion.

Chilean's Don't Horse-Around When Speaking Slang
Fun Fact:  I realized that Chilean slang phrases have a lot of animal references.  For instance -

-  If a place is ghetto, it's "Where the lobster pinches".
-  If you don't have money, you are a "Walking duck".
-  If you are stupid, you are a "Turkey".
-  If you are angry, you "Throw the seal".
 If you are small and scrawny, you are a "Small chicken".
 If you collect money from friends to pay for something, you "Make a small cow".

Justin's Baptism!
Elder Sharp, Poncho (Justin's brother), Justin, and me

Adios, Leandro!
Elder Sharp, Me, Leandro, and the Hermanas
After telling us for so long that he needs to look for work and a wife, Leandro finally had to let go of his calling as Ward Mission Leader.  Sad to see him go. He was such a great mission leader that Parral was being used as an example of how things should run, but....all things must end.

Our new mission leader is a really great ward member/returned missionary, Miguel Munoz.  It'll certainly be difficult to fill Leandro's shoes with his lovable, gung-ho energy and awesome business organization, but I have full confidence that Miguel will be great.

Zone Conference
Movie Poster
Zone Conference was great.  Pres started off the conference talking about la espada de Espiritu, which is to teach clearly and in a way that people will understand and want to commit.  After talking about Faith, he zeroed-in on urgency in the work, showing us a clip from the movie Hacksaw Ridge starring Andrew Garfield.

Hacksaw Ridge
The film focuses on the true World War II experience of American medic, Desmond T. Doss (Andrew Garfield), who won the Congressional Medal of Honor despite his refusal to bear arms in his service (due to religious beliefs).  Doss was drafted and found himself ostracized by fellow soldiers for his non-violent stance, but went on to earn great honor and respect for his bravery and selfless compassion after risking his life to save 75 men in the Battle of Okinawa. All without firing a shot.

The brief movie clip we saw showed Doss in the middle of battle, staying behind in hopes of finding one more life to save, praying for God's guidance the whole way.

President drew the comparison between Doss and us. In the thick of battle over souls, we too must search for one more life to save, praying for God's guidance the whole way.

Friday, we did just that.

We Found Waldo!
Friday was difficult because our members canceled and after a while, we found ourselves in a part of town that has, in our experience, been very unfruitful.  Tried working there in the past with absolutely no success. BUT, before we retreated to another part of town, we decided to knock one last door.

A 25 year-old dude named Waldo answers the gate (Success! We found Waldo, guys).  We talked a bit when he decides to let us in to his front yard. After starting to teach with our scriptures, he then invites us to come inside where his wife, Roxana and 4 year-old daughter, join us.  We teach Lesson 1 and they like it - so much so that when we conclude, they invite us to stay and have dinner.  They had never spoken with missionaries before.

That was a weirdly awesome experience.

One last door. One more life to save. If we keep mind and heart open, and ask God to guide our steps, He can certainly lead us to those ready to be saved.

Love to all,
Elder Connor Nef

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Find the Good God Gives

Leandro, Elder Sharp, the Hermanas, and Me having a snow-filled P-day
Another great week here in Parral! Here are some highlights:

Looking Forward
First of all, Justin, our nine-year old friend, is getting excited for the day of her baptism. Her mother has been taking her to evangelical services, but they attended this Sunday, so things are going well.

Guido Gets It
One of my favorite moments this week was passing by one of the hermanas' converts. His name is Guido. We tried asking for referrals of people to teach by asking for a list of friends to pray for, but he shot that idea down completely.

"Why only pray for names when we can just have them over here for an FHE? What day could we have one?"

Next Thursday. Guido gets it.

Chilean Pumpkin: they mostly eat it in soups...but I'm making a pie.
"The Path of the Lord"
That same night we were walking in a sketchy part of town late in the evening. All of our plans had fallen through, but we had a member with us, when suddenly a 29 year old guy comes running at us and says that he "found the path of the Lord", referring to us.

We start talking with him, and he shares his life problems with us (divorced for two years, lives with disapproving parents, trying to overcome drug/alcohol problems). We gave him our number and the time church meets, so we will see what happens.

Rest In Peace, Jose
Jose, a man whom I had interviewed for baptism, recently passed away. He was the most humble I have seen in an interview. He passed away from cancer, but now he is in a better place, and is ready to meet God.

All Good Comes From God
I've been thinking a lot about the words in Moroni 7:12-13 lately:

Wherefore, all things which are good cometh of God; 
and that which is evil cometh of the devil; 
for the devil is an enemy to God, 
and fighteth against him continually, 
and inviteth and enticeth to sin 
and to do that which is evil continually. 

But behold, that which is of God 
inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; 
wherefore every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, 
is inspired of God. 

When I read and think about these words, I think about how miserable Satan is, and how everything he does has one goal: to make us as miserable as he is. That sucks.

BUT God is awesome and only wants good things for us. He wants us to be our best, to grow and love and feel peace. Everything positive comes from him - so we should gravitate toward that. Be positive guys! Because that helps draw you closer to God. And that is the best thing in the world.

Hope you all find the good God gives you each day,
Elder Connor Nef

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Prepare for Eternity

Me, Irene, and the Hermanas
Irene's Ah-ha
We've had the zone goal of searching out and finding perennial investigators. We thought we'd divide and conquer. Elder Colman and I teamed up, and Elder Sharp teamed up with Elder Lecheminant. Elder Colman and I arrived at the home of an elderly lady named Irene. 

Turns out she had been investigating the church for years, and even bragged about what she knew. We were really direct with her - she said that she needed to go to church and take the sacrament, but we reminded her that the sacrament before baptism is only bread and water. It's baptism that makes it significant, because the sacrament is about remembering and renewing those baptismal promises. 
Elders Sharp, Colman, Lecheminant, and Me

We said a prayer and kept going. Elder Colman opened up the Book of Mormon to Alma 34 and read to her the verse that says, 

For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; 
yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors. 

And now, as I said unto you before, as ye have had so many witnesses, 
therefore, I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance 
until the end; for after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, 
behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, 
then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed.
Alma 34:32-33

We hammered home the idea that she shouldn't put off doing what she knows is right. Elder Colman and I took turns bearing testimony. Even though the neighbors were listening to loud music next door, our room felt all silent, like it was only us. Elder Colman finished with a testimony so powerful I almost cried. Irene began to cry, and then began to utter a prayer of repentance and gratitude, and said she wanted to be baptized on Saturday. 

When Elder Colman stepped out of the room to take a phone call, I had a five minute interview with her. She was really ready. She asked if I would baptize her, and I said I would. This was possibly the most spiritual experience on my mission thus far. 

She was baptized on Saturday, and she kissed my hand after baptizing her and after the service, thanking me for helping her to take these steps. 

Work is Picking Up In Parral
The rest of this week has been busy: finding, teaching lessons. We have a few people committed to baptism, and we hope to see them through to the end. Members are helping us out wonderfully, like Pancho.

Pancho wanted a picture with the missionaries. I love our district.
Almei and Wislei, our Haitian investigators.

I testify that miracles really do exist, and we can find them - but especially in the service of God.

How great it is to be an instrument in the hands of the Lord,
Elder Connor Nef

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Miracles in Parral

[Editor's Note:  The internet point this week wouldn't send Connor's photos, meaning we could only use his email, and not his journals, for information. Pictures used here were sent in past weeks.]

Hello Everyone,
I witnessed many miracles this week including:
  • Finding TWO different Moms of young kids. They have huge potential AND they agreed to be baptized!
  • One of those Moms came to church on Sunday.
  • A 9-year old girl with the name Justin (it's unisex in Chile) has her baptism Saturday.
  • We helped commit two of the hermanas' investigators to baptism.
  • What makes the previous point so cool is that one of these investigators was an eternal investigator, 
  • AND she got baptized Saturday,
  • AND she asked me to do the ordinance!
You could say it was a great week.

Hope you see some miracles this week,
Elder Connor Nef

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Fear into Faith

Ernestina got baptized!
Ernestina's Baptism
I had interviewed Ernestina last week for baptism, but she backed out for some reason at the last minute. This week, I met with her again for another interview, and I found out why: she has terrible arthritis, and was scared about going into the water and having a sudden pain attack. Her fears reminded me of some fears of my own from earlier in my mission -- while that pain was more emotional, and hers is physical, I told her what I learned from my experience.

I told her about the testimony I gained in Christ and His Atonement, about how He is the solution for our fears and pains. When we hand all our problems over to him, he gives us hope and peace to carry on. He gives us strength to do what's right.

Peace I leave with you, 
my peace I give unto you: 
not as the world giveth, give I unto you. 
Let not your heart be troubled
neither let it be afraid.
John 14:27

She took heart with what I said and -- drumroll please -- she was baptized the next day! Hector baptized Ernestina, and I helped lower her into the water. Glad that Parral is helping me get some good use out of my baptism clothes.

Introducing: Elder Sharp!
Elder Sharp is awesome. He is from Hawaii, and he loves to surf and play soccer. He also loves Hamilton and the Beatles (interests I share). Even better, he is an obedient, hard worker who looks for every opportunity to teach. My kind of guy! You can say that we get along swimmingly. His parents sound awesome too: his dad speaks 5-7 languages and teaches institute in Hawaii, and his mom might be reading this blog right now (hi Elder Sharp's Mom!).

Looking forward to fearlessly facing the weeks ahead with Elder Sharp,
Elder Connor Nef