Wow it was a crazy fast week but really good too. We worked really hard and had a good time doing it too.
Maybe the best part of the week was this training that all of the Area´s missionaries from Elder Bednar! It was totally awesome! It was like a 3 hour question and answer type thing but it seriously felt like 10 minutes! He talked a ton about faith, prayer, and following the Holy Ghost, and I felt like I was able to apply everything he taught right away in my mission and totally saw the blessing from that. One awesome thing he taught is that miracles do not come until the trial of our faith, but that the trial of our faith is whether we decide to act without a perfect knowledge or not. The examples he used were awesome. 1) Joseph Smith didn't receive an answer because he asked what church was true, but because he asked what church he should join. 2) The red sea didn't part until the Israelites literally had their feet in the water. It wouldn't have parted if they just sat on the beach and prayed hahahah. 3) Nefi entered Jerusalem without knowing beforehand what he was going to do. Pretty cool stuff. Also he told us that the Spirit will not fill our mouths with words until we open them, which was a pretty cool thought. I've seen that principle come true already in less than a week. It was so cool I loved it so much! He helped me a ton.
After that I did an intercambio with our district leader Elder Christionsen. This is his last transfer in the mission but he is awesome and a great friend now! It was a different feeling going from being with a totally new missionary to a very experienecd one. I learned a lot and strangely enough it actually made me more confident in my own abilities. It was crazy though I swear like everything that could have gone wrong with our plans, bus schedules, and appointmants did go wrong hahahaha. We salvaged the day and kept a good attitude and ended up having a good fun day. We had a really cool lesson with R where she told us that when she arrives to know that the BoM is true she would take action. It was such a good, spiritual lesson. Only bummer is that we havent been able to find her since! Totally disapeared! Big bummer. We will hunt her down.
After that it was back to normal with Elder M who is awesome. We are becoming great friends and fast. We work really hard but have a lot of fun too. We were able to teach T a lot more and he actualy came to church too! It's hard and complicated to teach minors but if he keeps progressing we have no reason to stop teaching him. I don't know when he'll be ready for baptism it just kind of depends on if he can understand what we are teaching and learn how to apply it and gain a testimony. He's awesome though. His sister F turns 8 in April too ;) There parents are very nice too but not very interested.
We are really trying to work with members here. Contacting has been really ineffective because everyone works in the fruit harvests right now, so pretty much no one answers the door other than mean grandmas. I received a little revelation though to help the ward and Elder M thought of something similar as well during sacrament yesterday (I continue teaching 2 hours at least btw hahahaha all from the top of my head and they just eat it all up hahaha thank-you Holy Ghost). I thought of how in Gringo neighborhoods at home during Halloween we do that "boo"ing thing where it gets passed around in a chain to all the neighbors. It's like that but with service, a spiritual thought, and an invitation. We will record all the acts of service we do in a book and if it works, in just a few months we will have a huge book about how we helped one another as a branch. We will see what happens! I just realized Sunday that for the longest time the missionaries have sometimes been the only source of spiritual strengthening or service and how that's really dumb hahahaha. The branch needs to help itself too. I love everyone here so much! It will be hard to leave.
Ok I'm not sure what else to write! I'm doing great and I felt bad for complaining a little last week because this week was seriously awesome! I was just really happy and we worked really hard! Elder M is awesome too.
Not sure if you sent that package but I mostly just need layers and gloves.
I love you all! Sorry I wrote early today! Im doing great!
This pic is of our "generation" or me, my "dad", my "granpa", and my "son", thus 4 generations. That is a totaly weird and rare thing for 4 generations to be together in the mish!
Wow time is passing by so fast! I swear it's like a time warp or something even hours feel shorter! It's also funny because Elder M tells me that time is going by slow hahaha the difference is stark. This week was equally crazy like the last but good as well. Training is very humbling but an awesome experience as well of course.
Week started off with a gran intercambio Tuesday, and we were pretty sure elder m was going to go to another sector to work, but suprisingly enough our district leader said I was leaving hahahaha. That was a surprise because elder M had had a total of like 4 days in the mission and pretty much had to be in charge of navigation and planning for an entire day with the missionary who was coming for the exchange. That night I packed very quickly and kind of gave him a step by step rundown of what he was going to be doing the next day with addresses and directions and everything hahahaha it's especially complicated considering the amount of travel between here and Cunco as well but he did great! No problems at all. Actually they had a really good day. I got to work in La Branza with elder R who actually recieved me when I came into the mission because he was working in the office. We worked hard all day and finished with a very silly night where one of our zone leaders pretty much payed the 5 others of us in the house to eat a chili pepper. Very funny when you get more than 3 missionaries in the same house. We just get so bored sometimes you have to be creative. I learned a lot from elder R too. He's training as well.
Then after that we did a ton of looking. The good part is our investigator pool has finally (FINALLY) gotten to a kind of good size but the good part is that the people are easy to find and consistently there at their appointments. One is that R girl I mentioned last week. Only problem is that shes kind of meeting a little resistance with her dad not wanting us to come over very much anymore (it's funny because at first he was really nice to us but I think when he felt there was something to our message, he stopped wanting us around so he doesn't have to change hahaha. happens sometimes. I think he thought we were going to Bible bash, but that's not what we're about. We will see what happens with her tonight I think.
We are also teaching a fourteen year old kid named T. We found him that Sunday night at 920 like a mentioned! He and his sisters are very nice and smart and have desires to know what is right. Their mom gets home late from work and is always kind of really tired and doesn't want to talk to us too much, but is ok with us teaching them. Obviously the ideal would be to be teaching her too, but worse case scenario when she sees the change in her kids she will want it too. It's good practise teaching kids because you have to do it so very very simply. Pray that T will come to church this week.
We lost a ton of time to work in our sector due to a zone conference with Pres and Hna Bluth and the APs and stake conference on Saturday and Sunday. I think people kind of forget how rediculously far we are away from everything. Luckily both conferences were very good.
Wow the week went by so fast I'm not too sure what to write about specifically. I'm trying really hard and I think more than ever now I want to succeed. Obviously I'll always be patient for the fulfilment of the Lord's promises but at the same time it can be discouraging sometimes. Key is to just keep working really hard. I think T will be our best shot. I need to count my blessings and my miracles better. I am really blessed and I need to remember that. I just want my success to correlate better with how much I feel like I'm giving. Obviously that has to do with the way in which we work as well. We are trying really really hard to follow spiritual promptings to find people and know how to help them. Also going to refocus on the branch again.
This week we read as a mission the chapters of cousel from Alma the younger to his sons. Those are like some of the best chapters ever. I love the book of mormon. Nothing invites the Spirit stronger than the book of mormon. Also as a companionship we've been focusing a lot on the power of testimony and its role in bringing the spirit and changing the hearts of the people. We are obeying really well and workingt hard too. I'm trying to focus on having faith and hope and charity as well. I have some really awesome leaders and mentors right now in the zone too so they have been a great help. I trust that things will get better and better. Send advice too!
Probably the biggest blessing I have right now is being such good friends with elder M. It's just really, really important to be friends with your comp. He's awesome. He's progressing a ton. He's been a great support.
Shoot this letter is just ok. I got the package it's awesome thanks a million! I'm doing good I just want to succeed really really bad. I'm going to up my enthusiasm and animo and work and pray even harder this week! I'm exhausted but I know that if that is what is required, the Lord will support me through it. The mission is awesome. The people here are awesome. The Gospel is true and I love sharing it. Keep reading and praying and know that I love you.
Wow my life has changed a LOT this week! It has been absolutely crazy! Me and Elder G ended the week off doing some quick goodbyes to everyone which was kind of sad. He really loved this place and the people here, even though the work is hard. One miracle is that we found P again after she disapeared for like a month! Problem is that her husband doesn't want to get married. All we can do is pretty much keep her obeying the commandments she can and pray for a miracle. We will see what happens.
Tuesday we went to Temuco and after Elder G left I got to work half the day with Elder C who's an awesome friend and the first I made on the mission (in the plane to Mexico after we went to the wrong airport - hahaha) and with Elder Q from Peru who is also awesome. Elder C works in the very downtown of Temuco so that was a big change from Cunco. Then we got on the bus to Concepcion to stay the night there, and we should have gotten there at like 8, but some huge wildfires outside of Victoria and Angol literally stopped the freeway for almost 3 hours! We ended up getting to the terminal at 1230 at night and the APs had to pick us up and take us to the Elders house in San Pedro where we slept on some air mattresses.
Next day was Wednesday where we got to the office and had some training with the aps and president which was really cool and exciting. Then we met our comps! There were like 33 new missionaries -- it was crazy! Elder M is my comp! You'll want to hunt down his parents Dad. He's from Sandy Utah, went to Utah State last semester and is totally awesome! We are already becoming great friends which is awesome. His Spanish is really good for his time in the mission too! He's going to be a great missionary and has a super strong testimony! I'm trying to make these next two cambios entirely about him. One funny thing is that he told me that he told President in his interview that he didn't care where he went and that he just wanted to work really hard and learn Spanish quick, which I told him is a classic case of mission "be careful what you wish for" hahahaha. Cunco is a notoriously hard sector and I'm kind of known by president to work very hard and have good Spanish hahahaha.
That being said, we got home Wednesday night and hit the ground running Thursday with a crazy amount of walking and appts. We had some good success with the few members here too which was cool. We worked very hard. I'm not sure if I told you about the Seventh Day Adventists we found. They are known to be very good with the bible and very hard on the missionaries, but we found a family of some who are just the nicest people ever! Poor Elder M -- one of his first lessons in the mission was with some of the hardest type of investigator hahahaha. It was really cool though because they did a lot of using the bible to prove us wrong, but then I told them about the Book of Mormon, testified it, and challenged them to read it. The two parents didn't really change their hearts but miraculously the daughter R (note the bible name) said she had some doubts about things and wanted to read and pray about it! Miracle!
Friday was a little rough with a lot of looking and little finding. It was ok though. Shoot also it rained. Elder M kept it up really well though.
Saturday was a bummer because I woke up with a totally terrible stomach flu. We tried to work but I couldn't do it and we had to go home and rest Saturday. big bummer.
Sunday was awesome! The branch president, who is very good at throwing missionaries in the deep end of the pool so to speak, asked Elder M to teach the youth class during my sundayschool class. Pretty funny considering his Spanish but he told me it went pretty well hahahahaha. Familia V showed up in full force too which was awesome. I feel like I have their trust now. Shoot I was expecting to see Dad's friends at church, they didn't make it and I didn't hear from them! no worries. We planned the week and set out looking after all of our appointments fell. I was praying so hard to find some new people! We looked all day with little success which is strange for Cunco, and literally the last contact after we had lost all hope at 920 we got in a door and found two really awesome people. Classic. We will see what happens with that.
Truth is that the two last weeks of the cambio for us were hard and we lost like all of our investigators, so this week we have had to start from scratch. It's kind of stressful considering I'm still pretty new at all of this etc and considering how much pressure they put on trainers to baptize, and with good reason! Cunco is hard theres no doubt about it, and I think in the last 2 years theres been 3 or 4 baptizms!!! I know we can do it though. It'll happen if we just don't loose our hope. It's a totally different kind of worry when I have to think about my comp's own well being and new missionary bubble that I really don't want to pop. Trying to keep his expectation and faith high. Pretty funny considering that we are working for our first baptisms together as trainer and trainee. Pray hard that we will be able to do it! Anything is possible, and I'm really trying to indoctrinate him with a very high standard of obedience, work, and joy in what we do.
One cool thing is that we are trying to focus really hard not on indoctrinating investigators so to speak, but to focus on bearing testimony and challenging them a ton with committments, especially pertaining to baptism. It is a very cool strategy. We will see how this week goes! We really need some good miracles!
I'm doing great and trying really hard to keep up my attitude and faith and dilligence, even though so many missionaries have lost hope in this sector in the past. I dunno why but Cunco is just rough on missionaries. I won't ever stop though! I owe it to Elder M at the very least! I just hope our results will at least reflect a little bit of whatI'mm planning to give. I trust they will.
Keep growing your testimonies. They are so important and so powerful. No one can take them from you! I love you all and am doing great!
ok so heres me and Elder M and a pic of me when I was sick in Melipeuco on Saturday but I thought it was funnily candid.
Wow big cambios news! I'm going to train! WOOOOOO I'm excited and terrified at the same time! It'll be a really cool experience! All of you return missionaries who trained should send me advice please. It'll be cool and I'm so excited! Cunco is a great sector to start in too and we need some beginner's luck here hahahah. It was funny because usually they call the trainers Sunday in the night but they didn't call us so I thought I was safe and that we were going to keep on normal for another 8 weeks. We were studying this morning and the APs called me and gave me the news. It'll be awesome. The group of missionaries who came with me is kind of known for being celestial haha so I have a lot of friends who are training with me as well. I'll be making a huge journey to Concepcion and back which will be cool. Elder G is going to be opening a sector in Nacimiento which has been closed for a while, another tiny little town. I love him though and am kind of sad while I'm excited at the same time for the new opportunity. .
Ok so this week was pretty cool but kind of tough too. A ton of people were gone on vacations so we had a hard time finding the people we were teaching. We are still kind of fighting with the retention of our investigators and having more than one lesson with them. Just looking for those chosen people. We took the opportunity to really work hard with the branch and the members. We did a FHE with famila V who are always kind of shaky and they all came to church this Sunday! Also we had a couple other lessons with other less actives that went well.
One funny thing is that I feel like finally this week me and Elder G fell into our best union as far as teaching goes. We had had some problems trusting each other with the teaching but we taught really well this week and with the spirit! It was awesome! It's a really good feeling when you can leave from a lesson knowing that the Spirit testified to the people`s hearts, whether or not they choose to take action on that testimony. Too bad that he's leaving now. o well.
The highlight of this week was the branch activity we finally got together! We were really nervous because the activities in the past totally flopped for the missionaries here but we wanted to try anyway. We really wanted to do it well the first time to win the members' trust because if only like 8 people came and saw that no one else came, no one would ever come to another activity. We planned a minute to win it activity, with prizes and teams and everything. It was called La Copa de Cunco. It started at 7 but no one was there in the church and we were getting really, really nervous, but in classic Chilean style, everyone started showing up at 715 730! We ended up having like 20 people there, members and non members, which when you think about it is like 80 percent of the branch and a good chunck of all of Cunco too nah jk. It was super fun! Chileans are really competitive which I love. It was a huge success and I'll attatch a pic. some people left before I took it and I didn't have much time but it turned out ok.
Hmm what else. Ok so one thing kind of happened to me for our zone conference. The zone leaders called me and asked me if I would be willing to participate in their example the next day, but didn't tell me what I had to do. I said yes of course. At the end of the meeting they pulled out two boxes of dunkin donuts (literally holy grail and most coveted missionary food) and said they were for everyone but there was a price. I had actually heard about this example before, and it's called the Parable of the Pushups, so I knew what was coming. They said that I had to do 10 pushups for every missionary before they could eat their donut. Our zone is about 20 people, and I am I think the most skinniest missionary in the mission, so it was pretty much known to be imposible. I got all the way through about 6 missionaries, but then my body just pretty much gave out. The whole room was totally silent, and people kept asking the ZLs to end it but they said that everyone agreed to it so we had to keep going. I finished about 3 or 4 more sets by doing like one or two at a time, but I got to the point where i couldnt even do 1 without collapsing. As the analogy became clear somewhere in there, missionaries started to really feel the spirit and a few started even shedding a few tears. It was really powerful, and especially powerful for me being the one doing the pushups. I am someone who absolutely hates that kind of attention, but it was a really powerful experience for the whole zone. I looked up after the ZLs told me I could quit, and I saw the reactions of the zone and it was very spiritually powerful. It was an analogy for the atonement for them, but also an analogy for me of how far from capable I am from being able to convert people without help, just as incapable as I am of doing 200 plus pushups. (luckily I've been keeping my exercises up so I could do more than I thought). It was pretty intense and poignent. I didnt describe it very well but I think you can get the picture.
I'm very humbled to be training this next cambio and very excited. Sorry this letter is just ok but we have to get going so G. can say goodbye to everyone here. I'm super super excited and I'll be able to tell you all about my new comp next week after I meet him this Wednesday! I'm excited to have a new excited missionary with me! I love you all and it was a really good, spiritual week and im looking forward to more awesome experiences here!
Shoot ok heres some stuff I thought of for my package in order of priority! I have a list that I left at home so if you don't send it this week I can put some more ideas in my next letter
usb voice recorder would be awesome
wool gloves (lost mine)
sweater and other stuff for winter if theres room
my backpack (exchanges)
also my rockports are officially toast and I think my eccos will last up until a yearmark, but we should start thinking about how to get some new shoes up in here. Not sure if buying here or sending them is better let me know love you thanks!
It was a really good week but pretty much just more of the same! Wow this was a long transfer and now we still have one more week. I'll let you know what happens with the transfers in a week!
I had an intercambio in Temuco again and it was really fun because I got to spend the night in a house with four missionaries from the states. It was just refreshing to talk to new people and joke around after so much time alone in Cunco. We laughed really hard and got to talk in pure English which I won't lie, was kind of refreshing as well hahaha. My Spanish has really improved a ton now and people keep telling me I talk better than people with a year and a half. Sorry to brag. The truth is I think the whole Spanish thing is a fulfilment of the Lord's promise that our weeknesses will become strengths through the atonement. In the past Spanish was definitely a weakness hahahaha.
After that we had a really cool day Wednesday where we saw a ton of blessings from working with less active families! We stopped by like 3 families and found a ton of awesome "news" who are now kind of our best investigators. It always kind of felt like a chore for me to work with less actives but now I realize how efficient and awesome it is!
Another cool thing that happened Wednesday is that we were contacting this street but had to go to an appointment, but I felt like I should contact one last house. This kind of teenage girl answered and told us that her family would be home at 7. Those are usually totally throw aways, but for whatever reason I wrote down the address and at 7 o clock. We went way far away for about 3 hours, and at 8 I remembered her and felt like we should go back, which was weird. I told Elder G but he was pretty much not excited at all because she was young and it was so far, but I haggled him enough and we went. The dad was there with another sister so we ended up finding a family of 3! We didn't get the chance to teach much but they accepeted a baptismal date! Bad part was that they couldn't come to church because their grandpa is sick and lives far so they went to visit him. It gets better though because it turned out the mom who is currently working outside of Cunco had been listening to the missionaries before and went to church a few times! What. I really hope it works out for them! I'm tired of finding people who disapear immediately and they're really good! It was just a cool, really classic missionary guided by the spirit experience. Pretty classic story.
After that the week was pretty average and uneventful. We couldn't find Juan because he was out camping at lake Icalma but who can blame him it's gorgeous over there. We did go to this other little pueblo in our sector called Las Hortensias, but the whole place is so small and quiet it was like a ghost town. It was really pretty and the people were nice, but it's kind of hard to convince people to take a bus for 20 minutes to go to church in Cunco when they can walk 30 seconds and get to their church. That's the kind of funny thing about religious choices in the countryside, they're very geography and convenience based. Speaking of that I had two really good ideas that I think would really get the work of the Lord moving here in Chile, that would be way more effective and cheaper than all the missionary`s dum ipads in the states. 1) a bus that the missionaries could drive to everyones house to pick them up, rain or shine, to go to church. Like a Mormon school bus. 2) the missionary lesson pamphlets with bigger letters for old people. With those two little things I think we would be the biggest church in all of Cunco easy.
Church was better this week we didn't teach every hour so that was cool. Actually we didn't teach at all! Way nice. We did also bring one lady to church who is the aunt of the only recent converts here. It was cool because the missionaries had taught her forever ago but then she dissappeared, but we found her again and set up an appointment. We could kind of tell from the vibes of the lesson that she was planning on just telling us to not come back and that she wouldnt change, but somehow even though the lesson was just ok, she committed to go to church at the end of the lesson. That's just how the Spirit works I guess. It changes peoples hearts right before our eyes sometimes. we haven't talked to her since church so we will see what happens.
We did some more research into the kind of oral history of the branch that our mamita keeps, and we kind of realized that we need to focus a lot more on helping the members and leaders here. This week we are going to have a cool activity too of "minute to win it" hopefully it works out. According to what we here from the members and what we see in the records they had like a 4 year streak of super lazy time wasting missionaries here. Truth is I can totally see why this sector does that to missionaries here, because the work is really hard, we are so far away from everyone, and it's really easy to waste all kinds of time with the members, but hearing and seeing all of that just makes me even more detirmined to keep doing things in the Lord's way.
One cool spiritual thing this week is that I realized how important the role of forgiveness is in missionary work. I had the thought that im not really sure if I forgive people who I talk to and teach in the mission. As missionaries here, we are kind of the bottom class of people hahaha and it's easy to be angry at everybody who rejects us, but I realized that if I want to love the people here more, I kind of have to forgive everyone who tells us no or worse here in a way. There's a lot of people with bad attitudes about rejection from the people here, but I really do love them and I should show it more. Christ is the perfect example of that.
Ok that's kind of it I hope it's good! I'm loving it here and really trying to still give it my all! Ex missionaries keep giving me your advice! I love you all and am doing great here in Cunco and don't want to leave this sector! The next transfer is 7 weeks too which is extra long. Love you all!
shoot no pics i was lazy and didnt buy new batteries until today srry
Elder Trevor Smith
Elder Trevor Smith is a Mormon missionary in the Chile Concepcion Sur mission, the same mission where his dad served. Although this is Trevor's own mission, he grew up hearing about the beautiful land of Chile and the loving people that inhabit it. These are the letters from his experience there.