Wow last letter that's pretty crazy. I feel like I should be summing up my whole mission in this letter or something but I think that would be impossible so I'm not going to be attempting that at all. Whatever. It's weird because I still feel like this is any normal week!
Last week was good. Pretty rainy but we had a lot of luck the weekend up until last night which was a big miracle. We worked hard! Tuesday we had a district meeting and I shared the Elder Holland talk "High priest of good things to come" and I think everyone liked it. Then we did some practices about helping investigators with their doubts without making them feel like we just want them to get baptized for us. It was a good class I think.
That day we had a gran intercambio with the whole zone and I worked with Elder Ivory from Colorado which was a fun change. I can get around pretty well in our sector despite its huge size and downtownness but I'm still kind of learning how far away everything is from each other and we ended up walking a lot but it was ok. We talked a lot about the mission. It's kind of weird and fun in my last transfer becasue all these missionaries keep asking me for advice and consejo like im some master jedi sage or something and I feel like I'm still learning about how to be a missionary even now hahaha. It was a good day and we had a really good lesson with our investigator Edgardo who Ill talk more about in a bit. We taught an English class giving a tour of the chapel and practising vocab and pronounciation which was fun. We had a good turnout that night despite the rain even with some new people.
Wednesday was pretty normal and I'm struggling to remember anything about it and the rest of the week... We had a lot of lessons that fell this week and a lot of searching around for people but we were happy regardless.
I think the biggest event this week was all with E. He is a middle aged man with a beard and long hair and when we first met him he was pretty gruff and closed off to us and to our teaching. He had some kind of really debilitating viral disease like 2 years ago that left him totally paralysed and now he has recovered a lot of his ability and can walk and live pretty independently considering he was totally imobile neck down two years ago. He mostly started listening to us because he had nothing else to do but as the lessons have gone on and as we have answered his doubts he has softened up a lot. Still hasnt been able to come to church. The thing is that last week he went to teh doctor for a lump and they detected possible cancer. His parents and two of his brothers died of cancer in their late 50s. Last week we taught the plan of salvation and it obviously couldnt be better timed. He still wasnt sure what kind of tumor it is and supposedly had testing in valdivia yesterday and today he was going to call us with the news. After the lesson about hte plan of salvation and the atonement, spirit world, and resurrection he was pretty emotional. We gave him a blession of health and after that he was pretty much totally in tears because of all the unsurety of his future after he had just started to get better from his last ailment. It was all kind of really heartbreaking to see this formerly gruff guy be totally broken down at the end of the visit. As we left we told him we knew that everything would be ok and that we loved him and he said the same to us.
It was so hard to walk out of that door that day. I dont know what will happen to E. nor if he will live or not but what I did feel very strongly that lesson and that day afterwards is that regardless of the suffering and trials he has in this life that it will all work out in the end and be worth it in the end. If he accepts the gospel in this life or the next or not really ever at all he will still one day have a perfect resurrected body and be free of that bondage that he has now.
Im not sure if tragedy has been a theme of my mission or if its a theme of all missions or just of our lives in themselves but I feel like Ive learned a lot about it these two years. What I do know is that all we go through in this life would all be so arbitrary and hopeless if it werent for what Christ will make of us through His Atonement after this life. In the context of teh Plan of Salvation suffering and death changes from being "the end" to kind of a means to a really good "end" that we learned about and hoped for and chose in the pre earth life. Ive said this before but I think thats why Christ repeats so many times in the scriptures that we shouldnt fear or be sad, because despite sufferring all we suffer He knew ,like elder Holland says, that it would all work out in the end. I can say that that is very true for the two years of my mission at least.
I dont feel like its been two years. Ive loved every minute of it and learned so much like I said last week. I wouldnt trade it for anything. Im mostly trying now to maintain a really positive attitude about going home and new challenges and new life etc and Im sure it will all be fine. Im going to try and enjoy this week as much as I can and look forward to good stuff in the future too. I love the gospel so much and know its true.
Thanks for all the emails this whole time and the prayers and support. Excited to talk more and see you all in a few weeks!
Love you all!
Elder Trevor Smith
Ok hey everyone.
First up congrats Christian Smith for the graduation stuff! Also happy fathers day dad!
This week went fast and slow at the same time. The good thing is that we were pretty busy.
First half of the week was pretty uneventful which was nice kind of. We didnt have district meetings until thursday so tuesday was just a really normal day. We ate a really good lunch which is always nice. I cant remember very well but I think we spent the most of that day working with the stand in front of the church with some success. thats seriously my favorite activity right now. Wednesday was pretty similar but we also met with a new investigator we found that way who seemed pretty interested. He had a lot of crazy ideas about God and religion etc but he also listened well and wants to hear more so we will see how that goes. That was cool to see some fruits as far as the stand goes. I think wednesday we also had mission coorelation meeting with our new ward mission leader who is really cool! He got called last week. Only bummer is that he is a student and going home for winter break for a month after two more weeks of school (well i guess its a bummer for elder ritter that is oops). Tuesday and wednesday were just really normal mission days.
Thursday we had district meetings which turned out great. The ZLs wanted both districts to have lessons about weekly and daily planning and I think I mentioned my bad attitude and ability in that field last week so I passed the assignment of giving the class to the really eager and helpful training hnas and they did a way better job than I could have hahahaha. One really cool thing they did was have the district just list all the different things we can do to use our time wisely and have a good use of time planned for every hour of the day and we got a ton of stuff up on the board. I think ive mentioned in the past that time use is a huge trial at least in our mission, so it was a big relief to have a bunch of new ways to keep ourselves busy these next two weeks. After their part I taught about giving the first lesson and we practised that and it was good.
Friday was a big day too becuase we had a multi zone conference between four zones here in the south. I got to see a lot of friends which is fun, especially elder aravena who came from victoria. It was all really good training that they gave that day, and I could apply a lot to my next two weeks and beyond. Our zone got together a really good musical number which was fun. It was honestly kind of sad to just get a huge animo boost about how cool the mission is in my circumstances hahahaah I talked to some other last transfer people and they felt the same way. Just another reminder of how awesome the mission is. Its tradition in our mission at least that the people who are finishing give their testimonies at the end of the zone conference. There are like 6 killer hnas who finish with me in the south and elder aravena, and I went last. I pretty much never cry during that stuff or during lessons or anything, but that testimony meeting was pretty rough and the worst part was going last after everyone esles killer testimonies. I feel like every time I have to bear my testimony in front of people i know what I want to say but it turns out way different. I felt good about it though.
The rest of that day we had planned an intercambio with vilcun again so I could go meet this family theyre teaching. Oh yeah i forgot to mention that from like thursday till sunday afternoon we had just TORRENTIAl rain it was crazy. Definitely the worst rain ive seen in my mission. I mean this fall and winter so far there have been rainy days ya but this was the first time it was more than 2 days consecutively and that makes it way more annoying because its hard to get stuff dry again like your bag and stuff. Whatever. For whatever reason temuco has really bad drainage and the main streets turne into total rivers it was crazy. Like knee deep all the way across it was wacky.
Anyway elder Vargas from Chile (no relation to the chilean selection player vamos chile al ganar) and I fought through the floods to the bus station to go to vilcun and it was just as bad their but freezing cold on top of it all. It got dark at like 530 and a lot of the lights way out there were out too so it was like pitch black raining and freezing and then all of our appointments fell through hahahaha. We started walking around trying to find some former investigators from a list he had. Pretty miserable. The crazy thing is that at 8 o clock on the dot the freezing rain turned immediately into this really beautiful, peaceful, picture perfect snowfall. It was disneyland mainstreet during the holidays stuff (which is pretty much the only comparison Im really capable of making as far as snow goes anyway). It was absolutely crazy, and a one time in the mission thing for sure. Everyone came outside and there just this amazing shared sense of total childlike wonder. It was really special. Im sure theres a good analogy in all this but Ill leave you guys to find it. The flakes were like an inch in diameter! Apparently it snowed in temuco as well but not nearly as much and it didnt stick there at all, but in vilcun we woke up to a two inch blanket of snow over everything (and to another poweroutage at 730am wow Im so glad thats not my sector). Pretty amazing tender mercy.
Saturday was pretty normal as well. We tried to go to meet an investigator of the hnas but it all fell through but whatever. It kept raining all that day but broke up during the real working ours when we were outside which was nice. Wait actually now I remember we had a capilla abierta activity in the Nielol ward which was pretty fun and turned out well i think. The thing thats kind of unfair about those things here though ist hat the hnas just stay in the warm church and give tours while the elders have to go out in the cold and try and bring people in hahahaha jk its fair I guess. I worked with elder camp that day which was fun. We got back to Caupo at like 730 and visited some less active members who gave us like a sugar feast for some reason of like hot coco and every chilean candy imaginabel and we didnt want to be ungreatful so we ate a lot. We were kind of rough in the stomach after that so we figured some completos caseros would top us off well so we cooked some up at home with the house comps. Fun night.
Sunday was good. No investigators of ours unfortunately but one less active student we invited and a friend of a member luckily. seems to happen a lot here. It cleared up after lunch which was a big blessing. We had picarones for desert after lunch which is a chilean dessert classic and very delicious. We spend a lot of sunday looking nfor a bunch of references that the sector had recieved here in the past but no luck. We worked hard this week and were pretty beat last night. A good feeling.
Today was zone activity with volleyball and soccer which was fun. Cant believe just one more pday. Got to make it good.
Going back to the zone conference I think the whole thing was pretty retro and introspective for me. I shared in my testimony that preparing for a mission before I was sure I was going to see a lot of people around me´s lives change, and that definitely came to pass. I said what I didnt expect was that my own life would change so much from my own service as a missionary. I think its summed up really well in Alma 5:7-97 Behold, he changed their hearts; yea, he awakened themout of a deep sleep, and they awoke unto God. Behold, theywere in the midst of darkness; nevertheless, their soulswere illuminated by the light of the everlasting word; yea,they were encircled about by the bands of death, and thechains of hell, and an everlasting destruction did awaitthem.
8 And now I ask of you, my brethren, were theydestroyed? Behold, I say unto you, Nay, they were not.
9 And again I ask, were the bands of death broken, and thechains of hell which encircled them about, were theyloosed? I say unto you, Yea, they were loosed, and theirsouls did expand, and they did sing redeeming love. And Isay unto you that they are saved.
Im not trying to say I think that I was surrounded by "the bounds of death" more than anyone else hahaha. Im trying to say that I had always read that verse as Christ changing the hearts of the investigators and other people we serve (and like I said that surely happens), but that its equally if not more valid to say that Christ changes the missionaries hearts; that throughout two years Christ is waking us up from a profound sleep to a bright reality of a life lived in the Gospel. Ive seen so many missionaries be changed by their service, and I told all the missionaries there that I consider the greatest fruit of my mission to be the change that has occurred in my own life.
And for that I guess with as hard as it is to be finishing so soon, a mission wouldnt fulfil its full purpose without a better life after as a result of a mission. That would be like going to the mtc and then home or something like that. I keep repeating that I mostly feel greatful and its true.
Well this is pretty weird right now but good I think. Thanks for all your emails even so late in the game. I cant wait to see you all. Im doing good and squeezing out everything I can from this. Love you all!
Elder Trevor Smith
Ok this week went crazy fast I'll l try and describe it well.
Tuesday was meetings as usual. My class didn't turn out quite how I wanted but good enough. I gave it on revelation and problem solving in the mission and we talked a lot about classic "search ponder and pray" stuff. I really like in DC 8(?) it talks about how revelation was the power by which Moses crossed the red sea which is cool. We talked about how all problems we face as missionaries (or people in general) should have solutions in the scriptures and through prayer. I tried to help them view the process more as work than as just God showing us the way. Then we had some good practice of teaching revelation through prayer to our investigators and hopefully that helped something. I like to teach so that's fun. Everyone seemed kind of tired but whatever I understand hahaha.
After that the day was pretty normal. We had a hard time making contact with our investigators this week because of some really big university charity collections they were working in but whatever. Because of that we spent a lot of the week looking for people and trying to come up with new ways to do that.
The weather was actually really good this week. Not that cold and not that rainy, mostly just a little sprinkle all the time which is annoying but way better than the normal pouring rain.
Wednesday we went all the way to a little pueblo called Lautauro to do an intercambio with the elders from there. Me and elder Chico from Mexico traveled back to Temuco and worked in Caupulican as usual. I was proud of myself for being able to navegate already in the middle of downtown after only 3 weeks. The trip back and forth from lautauro was really beautiful with lots of hills and valleys covered in fall leaf colors. It's still pretty fall here which is good. Elder Chico is really good and chill. Doesn't talk too much but is really level headed and happy to be here in the mission so that's awesome. We had a good time and I learned from him. The bummer was that pretty much all our appointments fell so we walked a lot that day but he was a really good sport. We did finally connect with a former investigator who lives with a less active family like 20 meters from the church so that was good but we were pretty tired by that time so I hope the lesson was well recieved.
For scheduling challenges the next day we did another intercambio with the zone leaders and I worked with Elder Camp in Quirihue. It was a fun day. It is a really really hilly sector and for the first time I realized how grateful I should be for having 100% really flat sectors my entire mission! (except for the one massive hill in Lebu but that makes literally one hill in my entire mission). We found a cool new family who we taught for the first time which is always kind of stressfull but we felt good about it in the end. Elder Camp is awesome and a great friend.
Friday started out with weekly planning. Ok look I don't complain much in my letters or in general but planning to me has become almost unbearable I don't know why. I don't know why every planning session whether it be daily or weekly just seems like an eternity to me hahahaha. Whatever. We powered through it and actually got some good ideas and stuff jotted down. One we actualy applied that day and it worked out great. Like I've mentioned our chapel is right in the middle of one of the most downtown parts of Temuco and tons of students are always there walking back and forth in the afternoon. We grabbed one of the banners we use for chapel open doors activities that's about the book of mormon and set up a little stand in the gate door right on the sidewalk of the church and put up a sign that said "gratis" hahahaha. To our surprise actually a ton of people came up to us and talked to us about the BoM and quite a few took one. We discovered that it was actually a way more effective way to find interested people than other stuff we had been doing and for like half the effort because we just had to sit there and people came and talked to us hahahaha it was awesome. It was also refreshing to only talk with people genuinly interested in the message and not just everyone in the street or behind a door or angry less active members. Fun thing to do. I was really relieved because now I feel like we have a good way to kill the rest of our dead time between lessons (that we usually do in the church anyway) in a productive way.
Saturday we did an open chapel as a zone in quirihue that turned out kind of mah o menoh. I got assigned the easy job of making the people fill out a "comments" sheet before they left that is more of a sneaky way to get their information to visit them than anything hahaha. Only like 10ish people came in the entire 3 1/2 hours so it was pretty easy. After that we put up a bunch of english posters. Speaking of english people now llike 7-8 non members are coming each class!
Saturday we ate lunch with some members (who I will not name) and they served us this plate of spaghetti with salsa blanca that was really delicious. Only bummer is that I almost didnt make it to the bathroom that night but my poor comp got hit harder. He woke up at like 3am sunday morning with all the symptoms of food poisoning the poor guy. He rallied enough to go to church and we actually stayed all three hours which was really good because two students wandered into sacrament meeting out of nowhere and were really interested in the church so we were able to be with them for all the classes and we have a lesson with them tomorrow. My comp was really bad though and luckily the hna we had lunch with brought it to the chapel for us to take home so he got home and crashed for the rest of the day and last night but woke up today feeling 100% so that's good. I took like a 2 hour nap which was fun but then had the rest of the day to slowly go insane doing nothing but watching the district hahaha any missionary who has been home with a sick comp knows what Im talking about.
That's kind of it. This week went by fast! Its so strange that I feel so normal about this week and this lifestyle when so soon I will have a crazy fast adjustment to make. I just feel like it was any other week of my misison. Even this far in one still lives in the bizare paradox of being totally exhausted, bored, and constantly working while simultaneaously feeling mosly contentment and a kind of passive happiness with life. I guess that is probably what the Lord refers to about finding our lives after losing them.
As far as spiritual thoughts go, I mostly felt impressed this week about centering our lives on Christ. That is one blessing of the mission; its much easier to do out here. It's amazing that as soon as we fulfill part of our baptismal covenants during the week (through remembering Him or maybe serving someone else) the peace He repeatedly promised His Apostles that He would leave can be felt. I love John 17:3 (?) that says that eternal life is knowing Christ and His Father. Together with Moses 1:39 we can learn that the Godhead's entire work and glory is our eternal life, or substituting what it says in John, their entire purpose is to help us know Them better. Its easy to run with that principle to answer a lot of questions we have about this life and its purpose, trials, and complexities; all we go through in this life is in part so that we can comprehend our Father in Heaven. Obviously a mission is kind of a period of our lives where that purpose and the means that help us achieve it are kind of magnified or intensified by the demanding nature of our lifestyle, our closeness to the spirit, and the pureness of our work that is so often responded to by rejection by others etc. Im sure parenting and the rest of lifes experiences (especially when coupled with service in the church) have a similar effect. Well I'm kind of rambling now but my point is that its no wonder one grows and changes so much serving a mission.
Ok wow it's getting closer every day. Like I've said before I think I've gone through every emotion by now about ending and mostly I'm just grateful. I love you all and love hearning from you and can't wait to see you!
Elder Trevor Smith
Ok it was a good week 2 here in Temucoland.
The weather changed and it got a lot less cold but a lot rainier booo. I prefer cold. It worked out fine though and wasn’t that bad. The good thing is that our house is really warm so that’s a huge blessing. I finally got over my cold for the most part today and yesterday so that’s good.
Beginning of the week was pretty average but good. Tuesday we had district meetings and I think my class turned out well. The spirit was there and people participated and that’s the most important. My district has a lot of desires to learn so that makes it really good. Its fun to be able to try and pass on all I’ve learned here. After that we played some games with the zone and it was really fun the missionaries here are really funny.
That day we ate a really delicious lunch with some good members and had a pretty good day after that. I think I mentioned last week Mari the student we are teaching. We didn’t have a lot of contact with her this week but we taught her friend Joana on Tuesday and she is really awesome. Pretty much the same situation as Mari, that after working as a social worker she has a lot of questions about God etc. She pretty much has no religious background, which is rare for Chile and makes it fun to teach her. She had so much true intent it was crazy. She mentioned that she really appreciates the values and morality of religion (obviously as a social worker) and really desires to find out if God is really there and if those morals are really backed up by eternal truth etc. We had a good lesson about the nature of God and the blessings of the gospel but the icing on the cake was at the end. We talked about prayer and revelation and she accepted asking God immediately, which is rare for Chile. We talked a lot about faith and recognizing the spirit and at the end we invited her to pray and she said yes. Her prayer was so sincere and humble and desirous that as soon as she started the room was filled with the Holy Ghost. It was really a special moment. We asked her after how she felt and she said she felt something new but something good and we about lost our minds but kept it cool and told her it was the Spirit. She is awesome. Only bummer is that she canceled our lesson later in the week and didn’t make it to church but she could still potentially get baptized before I’m out of here. It was really something.
No contact really with the Venezuelan family either. A couple phone calls but it sounds like they are really busy. Looks like we will have a lesson tomorrow with them.
The rest of the week was pretty boring honestly. We worked hard though. A lot of English class publicity and looking for former investigators and less active members. Very little door touching which is always good. I’m hoping we can keep busy enough to keep that up until the end of the transfer. Our English classes are pretty good but need to grow more.
We did an intercambio with the APs in the southern half of the mission because they’re in my district. I think I mentioned that one is elder Willey who is a really good friend of mine from way back in Lebu. We worked together in his sector on Friday and Saturday morning but it was raining really hard that day. We still had a good time catching up and talking about the mission etc. I think I could help him a little. He and his comp have a lot of stress on them so I try and help them manage that a little and be happy.
Dang I’m struggling to remember this week. Sorry it was kind of uneventful
Elder Ritter is a good cook, not sure if I mentioned. He made some really delicious no bake cookies and some other stuff. We have a good time in our house. Elder Huerta has a Chilean version of farkle, which is pretty fun at night. Pretty often the members here give us food to eat in our own house because the husbands are working which leaves some pretty awesome nap opportunities after lunch that is the best.
Fast and testimony meetings in Chile are always really good actually. They are really good at sharing what they believe and there is usually no uncomfortable silence. Actually almost always there are one or two people on deck waiting.
I really like Temuco. I’m kind of bummed I didn’t get to spend more time here but its a good way to go out. The Mapuche presence is really strong here so it’s a pretty cool mixture of cultures with that and the German influence too. It really is a pretty big city too, at least for our mission, which is mostly just pueblitos. Its funny too because even here in certain areas the campecino (farmer) influence totally gets in and there are people selling chickens and sheep and produce etc. like in the middle of downtown which is funny hahaha. The architecture is really pretty here too.
Well sorry about a boring email. I guess I can mention what my class was on. I focused it on talking about how the best missionaries I have known here haven’t been those who come to the mission with the best abilities or the smartest or the strongest or anything like that, but rather the best missionaries are those who know how to best involve divine power and grace in their missions. It has a lot to do with the humility (Helaman 3:35 being strong in their humility). I’ve totally felt that in my mission; my peaks have always been when I’ve need and received the most divine help from God. I think the district liked it. I especially love the story of Enoch in the book of Moses and I identify a lot with his story. Most of the prophets have a similar one too. I love how the Lord tells him to "walk with him" and later Enocs "eyes are opened" and he becomes the great prophet he is known for being. I have loved seeing at least a little bit of that process inn myself and especially in other missionaries I’ve come to know
Alright that’s about all I got. I got the packages thanks! San Clemente cookie dough is delicious hahaha and everything else too. I love you all so much!
Elder Trevor Smith
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.