Hey everybody another really good week here!
Like you said Dad, this cambio we have had a ton more blessings in finding people to teach etc. I'm honestly not sure if they will get baptized by the time Elder P., and to be honest by the time I leave, but I'm still so dang grateful for the blessings we've seen! I'm honestly just glad for the opportunity to teach people! My teaching is finally getting a lot better too. We still have a ton of days that are literally full on contacting and knocking doors all day, but some days where that doesn't happen very much. I really do love this sector and truth is I don't really want to leave yet! I'll probably have at least 7 more weeks here so maybe by then I'll be done with it hahahaha. It is a really beautiful time of year here in the spring.
So the biggest thing I've been thinking about this week is that the secret to being happy and getting the most out of your mission is consecrating everything you can to the work, and doing it with a smile. This week I've seen how far I've come with attitude and focusing, and honestly it was probably the best week of my mission so far. Attitude and work are the keys to a good mission! I try to smile and have fun every day in the street, and at first it was definitely not my strength, but I've seen how the Lord really does consecrate yoour efforts to improve yourself and takes you miles farther with it, and now I think my attitude and "animo" (excitement) is my biggest strength! More on that later. We've worked so hard but we are so dang happy this week.
Dad, one thing you mentioned in your letter last week was that you wished you worried about numbers less and people more. South American missions are super numbers focused, but I've been forced to learn that numbers shouldn't be our focus in my very first bit of time here. If my happiness and sense of success on the mission for me was numbers, it would be really difficult to be happy in my sector because its really hard to get good numbers! The truth is I'm glad I got a hard sector first because I learned that lesson first thing in my mission! The only good numbers we get is our 200 plus contacts every week hahahahaa and that's more of an indicator of how hard it is here more than anything hahahaha. I'm really glad for that though. My happiness and success as a missionary is really up to how much I put into my mission, how I obey, and what kind of attitude I choose to have. Of course I can't wait to help people change, and my purpose is to invite people to come unto Christ, but I really only have control over the 3 things I mentioned.
So some days here are like super super hot and then the next day it will rain like crazy. It's really weird. My strategy to be happier on hot days that I've discovered is to think of a beach boys song in your head to try and trick yourself into thinking your on summer vacation, even though your in a shirt and tie hahahaha. It's honestly crazy how much that has helped hahahahaha.
One cool thing this week that was really fun is that we did a huge exchange with the whole zone called a "gran intercambio", where all the companionships get scrambeled up for a day. I worked with Elder A. our zone leader and one of my best friends here and it was so awesome! He only has like one transfer left and is a crazy good missionary and teacher! He is like super tall and will probably go home to play football for byu when he gets home. I learned a ton from him about really listening to the investigator and discerning and teaching directly to their needs. It was honestly such a fun day and full of miracles. The really cool thing is that we placed a baptismal date with one of our newish investigators A. (formerly known as M. -- we don't know why his name changed -- people have a lot of names here hahhaahah). We are really looking forward to teaching him more. The only problem is that he works 15 days in the north in the mines and then has 15 days home, so he is kind of a long term goal guy. Still, it was the first baptismal date we had had in like a month! The best thing too is that that night we got a call from a sector across the city that said they taught and put a date with an investigator at one of their recent converts house and the investigator lives in our sector! Totally a crazy miracle! The only problem is that we haven't been able to get ahold of her yet but we probably will this week! Weirdest craziest freebie miracle ever! That day with Elder A. was so good though. So much animo.
As far as people we are teaching we are kind of slowing down with M. and P. They just haven't been doing their committments and after we had two super good and spiritual lessons this week, one with a member, they still didn't come to church. The coolest person we have right now is J.! We taught lesson one with her and shes the coolest! She listened and understood really well and was super open and liked a ton of it! She also told us she prays and feels the spirit all the time! When we talked about joseph smith she said she had never heard about that before but she would of course pray about it and tell us her answer tomorrow when we have a cita with her! That kind of stuff never happens -- what the heck!!!! She's my best hope of maybe getting a baptism here in this tiny little sector! AAAAAHHH so excited for her! Pray for her! She is the best. Wow I'm so excited for her.
One funny story is that me and Elder P.'s lunch fell one day and we only had a little bit of money because its the end of the month and needed something to eat. We went to a little negocio next to us and were desperately looking for something different we could cook. We stumbled upon these delicious looking frozen packaged burger patties, and it's important to know that hamburgers don't really exist here. They were 10 for 1000 pesos, which is like 10 for 2$!!!!!! We just lost it laughing when we saw it because it was so rediculously too good to be true! We bought them right there, 10 of course, and soon learned why they were so cheap. When we fried them up they like shrunk down to a third of their origional size hahahahahaha!! we had to make double doubles but it was still super fun. We lauged so hard!
I've been enjoying excersizing too! I was lazy with that at first but now I try to run like 3 times a week and do yoga and stretching days in between.
Hey Dad, so you should tell Philmont people that the best prep I had for my mission outside of actually helping the missionaries teach was Philmont. Nothing prepared me better.
People have been asking me about the food here and I'm going to answer honestly. It's OK, but still taking some getting used to. hahahhaha. The main flavor in the food here is salt. hahhahaha. We eat a lot of soup with like some noodles, potatoes, and a piece of meat. It's a little bit boring hahahaha. Also we eat a lot of lentils and porotos, which are like flavorless white beans they make into a mash. We order a lot of pizza in the middle of the week to give us animo. Empenadas are really good! So is bistec but that's just once in a blue moon because meat is so expensive. They don't drink water here, only soda. A lot of rice with meat.
All of your weeks sounded super crazy fun! Thank you so much for all your emails!
I dont know if your already thinking about Christmas packages but I had some ideas. Phase 10 the card game would be sweet. Also I was thinkng how fun it would be to have a melodica which is like this keyboard harmonica thing hahahaha It would just be a really fun toy. Taylor should know what it is. Stance socks are awesome as well as pretty much any food and candy of any type. I can think of more stuff if you want. I have no idea how much a melodica costs so I dunno.
Love you all! Cant wait to read your letters! Im doing great and i love it here!!!!
pics coming soon
Hey everyone! This week wasn't super eventful but I think I can have some stuff to say!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY MACY WHOOOOOOOOO!!!!! 15 what the heck! Sorry I can't give you a better birthday gift! I might try to send you a letter but it's hard!
Also congrats Cassie WHOOOOO GO COUGARS
Ok so its super hot here! Its weird though because we will have like one day where its kind of overcast and chilly and then the next 3 will be so so so hot. It's super hard to work and contact in the heat so that will take getting used to. It just kind of sucks the energy and excitement out of me hahahah. It's just going to get worse ugh. I love this sector but I wouldn't mind getting transferred after the next cambio to avoid the worst of summer here. LA has the worst summers here for sure. Our house is just brick too so it turns into an oven. The sun is really really hot more than anything so it's ok in the shade, but the sun doesn't go down until like after 8! it's kind of miserable. It might be because of the ozone layer having a hole. I'm not sure hahahaha.
M. and P. are doing well but we just can't get them to church! Really frustrating because they said they were coming this week but didn't boooo. We had some seriously good lessons with them, and I think FINALLY M. understood the priesthood authority after we told him about how the apostols rebaptized a bunch of people who didn't receive the holy ghost after their baptisms. Yhe misunderstanding was probably our fault though hahaha. I'm learning patience big time here in every way. We'll see though. We are a little concerned they are talking to us with the wrong purpose, so we are going to teach them today to try to kind of analyze their needs, but mostly really invite the spirit super strongly and emphasize the need for revelation and how they can receive it. They are so awesome though and so nice! They totally keep us going and really are awesome! They still have a ways to go but I have so much hope for them! I really hope they come to church this week! Pray for them!
We watched a satalite transmission of the Concepcion temple Groundbreaking and it was so cool wow I'm SO excited! It was so special to see all the members in the Stake center watching it! The spirit was way strong.
I'm loving studying the New Testament! I'm reading Jesus the Christ alongside it which helps a lot with understanding it. I learned a lot about the origional 12 apostols this week and they are such awesome examples (minus one haha)! My motto this week kind of has stemmed from what I read in Jesus the Christ about James and Jon, that they taught and preached and followed Christ with so much zeal and energy that they were called "Sons of Thunder" which is pretty awesome! My goal has kind of been to be worthy of that title hahaha how cool is that! There are so many awesome stories in the new testament I love it!
I did an "intercambio" or exchange with our new district leader elder C. from Nevada! He's a really interesting, weird, but super funny guy! I love him a ton! He has a totally amazing knowledge of the scriptures and helped M. and P. out a ton when he was here! It was also fun because I was in charge of the whole day because it was my sector and it was super fun to show off how well I know my sector at this point (probably because its so small hahaha). Hes an awesome dood and it was fun to kind of change it up though. It rained all day too hahahaha
This week we've been trying to change it up and meet with more less active members and member families. We kind of decided that that is a way better use of time than contacting at kind of crappy hours like in the morning or while most people are working and getting only like 6 contacts. It has kind of helped us keep our animo and energy up too not having to be in the street all day. Meeting with them can be hard though, because a lot of times it's sad to see really closed hearts and people that have kind of lost the desire to act on their testimonies. Most of them are ok though, and one was particularly good last week! Hma A. is super sarcastic and super funny, and we got along really well which is good because apparently she doesn't like a ton of missionaries hahahaha. We asked her to tell us the story of her conversion and she did, and she got kind of teared up and it was super special! When the spirit was really strong and she finished, I felt prompted to challenge her to be a missionary hahahaha and to pray and think about a person that we can teach! I shared a scripture from Alma 26 which is all just awesome and was kind of bold hahahaha the spirit pushes you to be that way sometimes. I think it kind of shocked her but worked! She said she would and then showed up in church on Sunday WOOOOOOOO! Such a miracle!
What I've learned here from menos activos and everything is that your personal conversion needs to be to Christ. Nothing else. Not to your mom, not to your friends, your bishop, Jose Smith, not the missionaries. It's not even enough to have just received and answer that this church is true. You need to love the Lord and be converted entirely to him. Nothing else is as important. The truth is is that if we really do love the Lord, we should never fall away. There is no reason we should if we love the Lord, not if our bishop's a jerk, we change wards, someone offends you, nothing. Your obedience and church activity should all boil down to how much you love The Lord, because if you really do love Him, you'll obey. You'll give Him everything. Its sad to see people who wont even go to church for Him. There's a scripture in 1 Nephi that says that our names are inscribed on His hands, so it kills me to see people who won't even go to church for one hour on Sunday for Him. I feel powerless sometimes, but I know I can always just love them and keep acting in patience for their behalf. I'm learning a lot about that. I hope I explained it well enough. Sorry to be kind of a downer hahahaha the truth is we do see more miracles than sad stories.
Things really have kind of turned around here as far as finding goes! We've found 5 news in the last 2 weeks which is as many as we did in our first 6! One this week, M., was super good. They all are hahahah The second lesson is always the hardest to get though just as far as scheduling goes. Our goal is to get a lesson with all 5 of them by Thursday this week. I know that we will get at least one of them into the water by the time I leave, hopefully before Elder P. goes too.
Missions are crazy because they are so trying, so exhausting, so up and so down, so stressfull, but even when I'm sad I'm happy. It's weird and hard to explain. I was thinking this week a few times just how crazy happy I am all the time, despite it being such a trial. I love the Lord's plan for me. I've been marveling at it all this week.
I loved your letters all so much last week. I almost cried reading them all, especially about Kaitlyn's baptism and the temple and everything. If I was counting my baptisms in my mission, I think Kaityln would have to be number one. I loved hearing about papa's testimony. I have feeled the prayers of all of you and our ancestors too. It's super embarrassing because pretty much every member asks me if I'm related to "Jose Esmeet" and every time I answer truthfully it's super awkward but of course I'm proud of it in a super humble way haahhahaha. The stake presidency found out when they asked and during our ward council the guy who was conducting said that "it was an honor to have someone with the blood of the prophet of the restoration in our presence" Wow I was embarrassed hahahaha I can barely speak Spanish. hahahahah.
My Spanish is getting better though! I'm starting to feel like I can be myself. I'm worried no one will understand me because I speak Chilean hahahahahah not Spanish.
No more time but we played minigolf today! It was way fun! Coolest thing ever> I'll a pick of it now and a ton more next week I promise. I'm having a problem with my memory card!
Love you all so much! I'm doing great here! I love my mission!
Hey everyone so excited to talk to you again!
Really quick: I don't think I gave conference enough credit last week because it was SO GOOD. Every talk. I'm so jealous you guys got to see it live in Salt Lake, That's so cool! Sounded like a crazy but super fun weekend! It sounded really fun to eat at the Smiths too I'm so jealous! Everyone seems really busy but good to hear from everyone!
Also, ya Dad I found another person that thinks they know you! Also stake conference is coming up so I'm going to ask around then too. This lady was named Hma RB, and her son is VR. She is in the Galvarino ward right next to us but I ate at her house on an exchange with Elder S. She said you also might know RF and LC, but I don't know them. Everyone always gets so excited though when I tell them you were here! I'm a hit here with the viejitas (old ladys) because of that connection. Where did Bev and Ron serve?
As for members, there are so many awesome examples of strong and awesome women here in Chile. All of the hermanitas have such huge hearts and carry the church in their hearts. Our ward is especially full of old ladies, so maybe my perspective is skewed, but I keep seeing so many examples of women that the general authorities were talking about in conference, and also how much the church needs them. SO cool..
M. and P. are doing well! They're awesome to talk to. Z will keep coming to church and stuff too, we just really cant do much to help her progress right now. Anyway, M. and P. are super awesome. We had a really really good lesson this week that really cleared up a ton of confusion they had. We taught the Book of Mormon and talked a ton about how it is the key to knowing if the church is true and in their case, why they need to be baptized again. We explained the importance of the power and authority of the priesthood with baptism, but it just wasn't getting through, so we went with the BOM and revelation angle which I think helped a lot. We are just really counting on them to get a strong and convincing answer that this church is true, especially before we start talking about commandments and changes that we have to make. Pray for that if you can! That they will get an answer! It's hard because they're busy so we cant meet super often with them. Our goals this week are to get them to church and get them friends from the ward, both of which we think will help them so so much. They are seriously so awesome though, they would fit right in.
We are still working really hard and knocking a lot of doors but we had a lot more success this week! We found around 3 new people to teach! 2 of them were kind of shaky with our return citas so we will see about that but one, J., is super awesome! We didn't get the chance to teach her a ton, but we have a ton of excitement from her because she really is looking for the truth in her life, and is super willing to just listen, something that is pretty rare here. People really like to talk about what they believe, but not to listen really. That's probably something that's true everywhere. Shes great though! We found her through a totally miracle street contact, and some other miracles of timing our return lesson and stuff like that.
One of our other new people was super well deserved! We were walking around and saw this lady in her 60s struggling to tear all the huge weeds and grass out of her lot in front of her house with a hoe, so we offered to help her. We worked for an hour in our missionary clothes which is funny, but didn't finish in time. We organized to come back the next day and finish, which we did. The funny thing is that she lives on a busy street right next to an elementary school, and when we started to work, just about every mom dad and grandma was standing there waiting to pick up their kids from school hahahaha. They all including the lady we were doing the service for were totally bewildered to see the two neighborhood annoying gringos rolling up their sleeves and going crazy on this lawn with hoes and shovels hahahaha. I hope that that will soften some people's hearts hahahaha. After we went in to her house and taught a good lesson. Once we get into the houses here it usually goes really well, because I don't think anyone here teaches as clear and simple and spiritual message as us. People are usually surprised by that, I think because they are used to their pastors that just kind of read the scriptures in front of them and no one understands. Pretty cool. Only problem is that that lady, N., works a ton and doesn't have a lot of time, so was kind of sketchy about a return lesson. Still a cool and funny experience.
The third new person we had was totally a long shot when we just knocked on his door a second time that week right after lunch. He invited us in and we shared something short with him, and right as we opened our eyes from the closing prayer there were two huge plates of food in front of us!!! That day we had two giant lunches back to back, with like less than 30 minutes in between! We ate it all -- wow it was hard. We would pretty much do anything to get new people as this week shows hahaha. He is cool and has a wife we plan on teaching this week,but I think he is more hospitable than actually interested in our message. We'll see though who knows!
What I'm starting to notice more and more here is that the Lord really does put people in the path of the missionaries for their own good. Usually it doesn't get translated into missionary "success" right away, as in numbers or results, but we really do help people, even if in small ways. You would be amazed how many less actives we run into in the street, a few of whom we even saw at church again this week. At the very least I try to be a smile for someone having a bad day. I really do love the work, as exhausting as it is in every way. I love my time here.
So general conference made me super interested in the idea of true discipleship in Christ, namely good works, faith, hope, and charity. I realize now that I'll probably never get another opportunity to be as dedicated of a disciple of Him as I will on the 2 years of my mission, so that's my super simple long term goal. It really is simple like Pres Uctdorf said. Just follow Him in every way you can, and live His Gospel. For that reason I started to study the New Testament in Spanish to know how to do it better, and I'm really enjoying it! It's super cool, and I've never read it from start to finish. Of course I'll continue studying BOM, but the both go hand in hand so well of course, as divinely inspired dual testaments. I would love to hear your guys´ thoughts about it!
In summary it was a really good but normal week. Our new district leader is awesome, and me and elder p are still doing super awesome. I know this puny sector like the back of my hand though! hahahaha. I know all the regulars at this point.
OH one funny story! We were eating lunch and this really cute little 6 year old girl is super sassy and precocious, and when I finished my prayer in Spanish, she turned to me and said "I didn't understand one word of your prayer!" hahhahaha! I'm pretty proud of my Spanish so that was pretty humbling hahahaha! She also continued to then draw a picture of me pulling her hair, trying to get me to actually pull her hair to make it true, and then getting the rest of the kids to chant that I pulled her hair. Then she drew a super nice ´picture of her and elder p. and the other kids on a hill with the sun out all nice and pretty. Pretty mean bullying but really funny hahahaha.
Anyway, that's kind of it for this week I hope its good! Love you all and all of your letters! Talk to you soon!
Also I got the other package today thanks! Ill check it out tonight!
This week felt super short and weird because we had conference and return and report, which pretty much ate 3 out of the 6 days we had to work, so as far as investigators and stories etc., I dont have a ton sorry!
So one more birthday thing that was cool was that that night after I wrote we tracted for a while and had some good success, but all of a sudden towards the end of the day I felt impressed that we should go to our little shop by our house to buy some groceries we needed right then, and that we should leave the street we were on. We did and got to the store, and the people who work there know us really well by now because we buy all of our stuff there. We needed to buy some stuff for the district meeting the next day, and we asked them what meat would be good on a pizza. We talked for a while about it and they gave us like $30 of good meat for free! What the heck! The people are so nice here! To be clear, that store is different from the one that gave me tortasso hahaha! I think the Lord really knows how to get to my heart , that is, through free food hahahaha.
Also really cool is that yesterday during conference this random guy I didnt know found me in the stake center and gave me a big package from Hna. Oporto [Scott baptized her] in Conce! It was full of tons of chocolate for my bday! What the heck! Turns out he was her daughter's boyfriend and lives in LA and was sent to give it to me hahahaha. The people are so nice. Tell her thanks so much Dad!
One scripture thought I was thinking how funny 3 nephi 20:40 that talks about how beautiful the feet on the mountain of those who serve the Lord is in context of missionaries who serve a walking mission hahaha. Check it out. Speaking of feet, Macy they hurt the worst in like the balls of my feet and that area, but pretty much all over. Getting better though! Think I'm getting stronger.
Macy, that project sounds crazy hahaha! That much effort is rare in high school, especially in health class hahahaha. Also ya upper campus is kind of yucky huh with cockroaches etc. Right now it's kind of spring so it's not too cold anymore, especially in the sun. I'm super afraid of summer here because it gets above 100 and our house is brick, and I've heard it turns into a total oven hahaha. We use OLA [orar/pray, leer/read, asistir/attend] a ton Macy -- every lesson! Also I've learned on my mission Macy that you can keep the Spirit inside you wherever you go if you want to, no matter what people are doing or saying. Of course it's better to stand in holy places, and it takes practice.
Packages! I got all of them but the new Halloween one with the socks. Thanks so much!
Dad, I need to look harder for the people you baptized sorry! It's hard because our sector is so small and a ton of them could live in LA south, which technically I can't even go to so that's hard. We don't have a mission song hahaha. I think Chile has changed a ton from what I have heard from you in the past. Also, guitars are scarce and we aren't even supposed to play them during the week so it would be hard to get that together. Also, my throat was kind of sore all through September because I was sickish with allergies or something. In the mission you really learn that faith plus trials brings big blessings.
As for disappointment with Z, it's totally ok. She came to Sunday morning session of conference and wrote a lot of questions, and it seemed like every talk was for her! We are going to talk with her tomorrow so we will see where she's at now! We still have a lot of hope! She bought me a huge chocolate bar for my birthday -- so nice! I have so much chocolate now it's crazy!
As for our mission plan, we had ward council last week which was good! I think the bishop and auxilaries are really starting to trust us which is super good. They mentioned their goals for a ward mission plan for 2016, but we're hoping they can jump start some of that for the remainder of 2015 hahaha. They're working on a ward mission leader still too, but we will see. We are in charge of a big ward missionary activity so we will see how that goes. I'm way excited.
Retention is a big problem here in Chile. The mission is super baptism-minded which is good, but a lot of missionaries interpret that the wrong way. It's hard sometimes because disobedient missionaries can actually baptize a lot here, maybe because they waste a ton of time with the members which theyre not supposed to do. The problem is that the people end up getting baptized for the missionaries and not for Christ, so a ton go inactive. Its really sad! For that reason inactivity is a huge problem here, and to be honest I don't feel like we're doing enough to fix it. My goal is to never work for the glory of man or for numbers or anything like that, because I've seen so many sad results of that. I think I've also noticed that the culture of religion is really different here. I love Chile, but I think a lot of people view church just as something you do, not something as crucial as what we preach, that it's important for eternal salvation hahahaha. It makes it hard sometimes, especially when we ask people to change so much while other churches don't at all. Of course there are still so many miracles of conversion here like I've talked about in the past.
Return and report was super cool! Got to see all of my friends from the mtc which was way fun and get some training from Pres y Hna Bluth in conce. Super cool.
Conference was so dang good wow! Every talk! The very first especially was a answer for me, because there are a ton of applications and principles and acronyms and things to do to be a good missionary, and my whole mission the sheer number of them all has stressed me out a ton. It was such a relief to hear Elder Uctdorf say that all we need to do to have the Gospel work for us is have faith, hope, and charity, and be a disciple of Christ. So simple! I also really loved Russel M Nelson's talk on women in the church. How cool was that?!? It made me so grateful for all the awesome women in my life I have. Both grandmas, Connie, Debbie, Cassie, and of course you mom. Wow I am so lucky! I've learned so much from you all about love, strength, faith, and prayer.
Nothing much else happened this week! We got our transfers today but only like 3 people in our entire zone left, which is weird but good because our zone rocks! I'll be here for another 6 weeks at least, probably more. Just going to keep chugging! We have some good plans and high hopes though and we think we will totally get some awesome blessings. Thanks for your prayers and your support like always!
Love you all so much!
Chocolate from Lorena Oporto Torres
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.