Wow first off how fun was skype? It seriously was the highlight of my week and the hardest I've laughed in a looong time! It was way to short! I really felt like it was a little window into heaven, and to be clear I wasn't sad when we hung up, just kind of overwhelmed by all of it hahaha mostly really happy but at the same time sad to hang up. To be clear I'm really good and happy and had an awesome Christmas! It was awesome!
Ok so we started off the week with a Gran intercambio so I spent the day in Temuco with Elder M. from Chile, whos kind of chubby but really funny. His sector reminded me a ton of via ohiggins but we got to teach a few lessons and then contacted a ton hahaha it was good though. It was good to hang out with him and the other 3 elders that live in his house for a change. We had some really good laughs and had a good time.
That was Tuesday.. Wednesday we went to Melipeuco but the bus was really slow that day for some reason and we came from Temuco so we got there kind of late, but the branch presidents wife Hna E had a super good lunch with home made bread waiting for us. Also I'm not sure if I mentioned this las week but theres a family in melipeuco that owns a pretty nice restauraunt and every Saturday we eat there with them! It's really good we ate salmon there last week! Crazy delicious. I think I'm hungry right now so I'm writing a lot about food oops. In melipeuco over the course of two days there we found a few people that could maybe start progressing so we are excited for that. We didn't have as much luck in Cunco, but Y said shes coming to church for sure this Sunday! Also P is awesome and just needs to get married to be baptized. She knows everything and has a super strong testimony, and she'll be getting baptised almost for sure in the beginning of February.
So for Christmas here people do most of the celebrations the 24th. We ate a really delicious dinner with our mamita and neighbor Hna P and her family. It was super nice to just hang out there for a while and be normal people. The members here are just way too nice and a few gave us a few little gifts. It was way nice. We played uno and got too into it and then went home and slept. The 25th we didn't do anything too interesting because everything is closed, so we just kind of hung out in our house and with some members for lunch etc and then skyped you guys! My comps family got a little confused with the time change so we got pretty scared there for a while, but everything worked out great. Hna P is really just like our mom and even refers to us to other people as her "hijos".
Rest of the week was pretty normal. I loved church on Sunday! The tiny little branch is really fun in a different kind of way in that everyone is kind of like family becuase they know each other so well. I had to give a surprise lesson the third hour but it worked out ok. I love that branch though! Our chapel is on the main street of the city and was formerly a table store hahaha it's nice it has a back yard with a well in it which is different. I'll try to get a pic. I taught english this week using the Nativity manger and taught how to use adjectives to describe all the things in the nativity ie lazy cow, hairy sheep, little baby, bright star etc etc. Way fun. I really love the members here and I know already that it will be so hard to leave here when that time comes! I'm trying really hard to get them to like me hahahaha. My goal is to really practice giving more of myself to all of them and others to try and develop more charity and be less selfish and inwardly thinking in general.
I'm still loving the Book of Mormon a ton! It's the best and is totally our "sword" as missionaries. You just can't really beat the BoM. It is so powerful and its doctrine is so pure. It's a really good way to find peoples' intentions in talking with us too. I've been trying to improve my study of it this week and really reading every word and verse super carefully and slowly.
That's kind of it! It felt like a way short week! I'm actually in Temuco again right now but I'll explain more of that next week. The city is huge and really cool! My comp is going to Concepcion for some training for district leaders but we'll be back together in Cunco this Wednesday.
I love you all so much! Thanks so much for just being awesome in general! Can't wait to read your letters and talk to you again in however many months it is! I'm working hard and just really finding a ton of joy in the adventure of the mission and the people I'm with!!! I just feel really happy mosly hahahahhah.
Love you all!
view from a random street in Cunco and a pic of Mt Llaima in Melipeuco
So exxcited to talk to you this Friday! Ok so it's kind of complicated here in Cunco but I think we have a good plan of how we are going to do the skype stuff this Friday. Our mamita`s daughter has a laptop and camera etc so we think that will all work well. We will do it at their house, and I've been told we can email back and forwarth on Friday until we figure it all out. I was thinking about doing it a t 3pm here, which is 10am in California. Does that work? I'll be getting on around then but we can communicate that day. I think we have to use skype dad sorry! Im really excited to talk though! It'll be so dang fun!
Ok wow a ton of stuff happened this week! Like so much! I'm totally exhausted but i'll try to write coherently! Ok so cambios (transfers) were Tuesday, but Monday night I got the chance to say goodbye to some choice people there in Via Ohiggins. Familia F. is a new family of converts of Elder P. and I grew really close to them (pic attatched). Also family P. of course. I was pretty sad to say goodbye to them, but they said all kinds of nice things to me about what I did for them and I almost lost it weeping but kept it together. I got his email so we will be in contact. They got baptized last Friday! I think the mission will send me some pics of it so I'll get those to you guys. It was sad but ok.
Jon S. took us to the bus terminal early Tuesday morning and I took a 2 and a half hour bus ride all the way south from LA to Temuco (biggest city in the mision), and it was such a pretty ride! Tons of wildflowers and volcanoes in the distance! Way fun. I finally got to Temuco and then Elder G. and I took another hour and ahalf bus ride from Temuco all the way up to the east over a million beautiful hills into Cunco, which is in a super pretty valley. There are mountains on almost every side, and it looks a lot like northern Utah here, but less cold. I have a few pics I'll get to you guys next week. It's gorgeus here though! Tons of trees and streams with little foot bridges! It's very country bumpkin. A lot of people have sheep in their yards etc. It's actually not that small though! Definitely bigger than Via Ohiggins! There are a ton of little neighborhoods that are kind of on the borders of the town that have just a ton of houses. Only problem is that we end up walking a TON. It's awesome though! The people are way nicer and we don't have problems finding new people to teach. The new challenge is finding the people that really are going to progress, because a lot of people just want to hang out. Book of Mormon is really good for that, because if people aren't willing to read and pray the Book of Mormon, you can kind of just say goodbye right then and there as tough as that sounds. We talk to a lot of old ladies. A ton. I love it here though!
The town itself kind of reminds me of being in the cabin at Murphys during the summer. Definitely not as mountainy, but the town is kind of like Angels Camp or something. Me and elder G. are so isolated here, it really feels like we live in a cabin in the woods hahahaha we have an old wood stove and everything! Our house is nice though. Elder G. is from a tiny town in Colombia, and is the hardest worker ever! We are totally in union with our goals this transfer and we are working so dang hard it's crazy!!! He might be crazier than me! He's awesome and still pretty new to Cunco and to the mission, so that makes it pretty fun that we are figuring everything out together. His accent is pretty different so communicating is kind of hard sometimes, but that's just little stuff. We are working super well together! We are so isolated it makes it really easy to super focus on the work. We are literally an hour and a half away from any other missionaries. I haven't spoken a lick of English in a long time, other that the English class I teach once a week now. I also gave a talk Sunday hahaha.
Every week for district meetings we get to take the super fun and pretty (kind of sketchy) bus ride from Cunco to Temuco. I love it. It's super fun and good for naps too.
Also something else cool is that our sector actually has C. in it and another city even farther up the same valley called Melipeuco. It's literally at the base of a giant volcanoe called Llaima. Its so pretty there its crazy! Theres a ton of houses and work to do there too. It is absolutely gorgeous there too. You guys should google Cunco and Melipeuco both and do some research on some cool pday stuff we can do.
The branch here is pretty small but the members are just rockstars! Only problem is that its pretty easy to tell that some missionaries in the past here wasted a ton of time just hanging out with members so they're kind of used to that. We are kind of starting from scratch in those terms, and its hard to be the tough buisness missionary sometimes when the members just want to chill all the time. There is a ton of work to do here and I don't feel like I did in my last sector just praying for someone to teach! We have a ton of new people right now that were found in the last few weeks and we will see how it goes with them.
Truth is I'm totally in heavan with this sector and my comp! I feel so lucky to be one of the few missionaries that even gets to SEE this sector, let alone work here full time. It's super cool and different from LA. I feel like every single one of my prayers last cambio has been answered and I'm so grateful!!!
We taught a ton of good lessons this week but one highlight was with Y. , a young single mom who after we taught the BoM totally committed to read it to find out if it's true. It was way cool. I've been really focusing on using the book of mormon this week and it's super cool. It is so important because it is actual tangible evidence of the truth of this Church.
I love your emails and sounds like youre all doing super well! Sorry about annotating Macy. I hated that too and still don't believe in it at all. I'm super happy and excited here to see the work we can do! I think we will have a ton of success! I'm super happy and am loving the work! Can't wait to talk to you guys and celebrate Christmas together for a little!
Hey everyone. So I guess I'll do transfer news first because it's exciting! I'm going to a tiny little town in the very southeast corner of the mission called Cunco, almost in Osorno mission! I don't know much about it other than that it's probably smaller than Via OHiggins and that it's a branch of like 20 people -- wow it's tiny. I'll be giving a ton of talks hahahaah. It's a good place to spend summer because apparently it's really cold and really nice during the summer. It should be really pretty too because it's close to the mountains! I'll be living with just my new comp named Elder Gomez, he's from Colombia and I have heard he's a hard worker and really cool. If you guys have any advice about newish and small sectors with few members, let me know hahaha! I'm so dang excited! I've learned so much the hard way about how important your relationship with your comp is on the mission. With some struggles there, I know I'm so much stronger and ready to be a better comp! Some of the challenges here have made me like totally metal! After a couple of weeks of not working too hard I'm just so excited to get to work and be the consecrated missionary I want to be! Being a great come is kind of my priority now more than the "work". My comp should be my first investigator (Taylor ;)
Thank you so much for all the advice you sent me it has helped a ton! Taylor I loved the teaching manuel! Of course a ton of stuff is way different in Chile. Our mission is super old school with a lot of door knocking just expected. Also, literally everyone is sick of the missionaries hahahaha. The sectors are all pretty small too which is weird. There's just too many missionaries in this mission in my opinion. :)
So a ton of cool stuff happened this week that helped to break it up and keep it way more interesting and fun. First, we had the Christmas Conference of all the missionaries in the mission! It was so fun and really spiritual and cool! I got to see my friends from the mission and the mtc and we just died laughing the whole time. It was in Angol, which was cool to see too. Every zone had to put on a skit and for ours we did some silly stuff and ended it with a super cool musical number with the whole zone. An hermana in our zone put all the music together, with two violens, piano, cello, and a whole choir of everyone else! She asked me to help put it together because she was playing cello so I was kind of in charge and it was way fun. It was "what child is this" and whe had two elders do a duet for a couple verses. It ended up being so cool! Kind of a dream of mine come true hahaha.
The whole zone went to Yumbel which is this tiny town in our zone where 4 hermanas work. We went there to reactivate people and clean up the church records there. It was such a cool pretty little town with a ton of history and culture and it made me really want to serve in the countryside and I got my wish for better or for worse hahahaha. It was cool because I worked a little with one of my best friends Elder A. who went home this week. Way fun.
We had the primary program! Exactly the same as at home but in Spanish and with less kids hahaha. Same laughs and awws and everything. There was this one little girl singing way too loud and off key too and the congregation couldn't stop laughing at her hahaha.
We also had seminary graduation which was cool! Honestly I'm really really, really sad to leave this place I've grown to love it so much! The members are so awesome and are totally like my family. Kind of a bummer because I wasn't allowed to say goodbye to anyone and instead we did a ton of just walking around in circles. Way dum. .
Ok so Familia Pardo! They are getting baptized this Friday for sure! YAAAAAAY booo im going to be gooonneee. It's ok. I still think of them as my converts considering I missed it by 3 days. What a blessing though! They are just all kinds of amazing. I was hoping to leave here with just one baptism and I got 3! One for every transfer! What more can I ask for? (other than to be at their baptism hahaha). I'm sad about missing it but it's not about me and I'm so happy for them! They are just the best ever. I can totally relate to Alma 26 now!
Hey so I dont really know much about how Christmas is going to work because I'll be in a new sector. I'll talk to my new comp and get back to you Monday. I'm pretty sure it's only supposed to be 45 minutes (boooo) but I'll let you guys be in control of cutting us off (wink). I'm pretty sure I can email on the 25 and we can communicate in real time that way. It's 5 hours ahead here I think. I'm pretty sure for that reason it wont be earlier than 10 in california. We'll figure it out and be fine. No package yet but I think I'll get it so no worries!
Even though its been a hard 4 weeks I'm still just absolutely loving my mission! I love it so much and am so excited for the next phase of the adventure! I can't wait just to work super hard and meet a new group of people and a new place! I love Via OHiggins. I'm excited to be in a pretty place hopefully! Thank you so much for your help, support, advice, and letters these weeks! They have carried me through so well! I'm doing great and I was happy this week! Just know I'm way excited and happy and greatful for a change! Love you all and cant wait to talk to you!!!!!!
Wow it was kind of a long week and I'm kind of mentally exhausted, so apologies in advance if this letter is just so so. Sorry my last letter was so negative! Feel like I should always be honest with you guys so you can send me good advice! Your letters always save me! Despite all the really hard stuff I still love the mission and especially the people here! I love it! So hard but I love it.
Wow so we have transfers in a week! Truth is anything could happen. I thought I would forsure leave but I've been talking with president and leaders here and things are really complicated with some issues, so really anything could happen, even another 8 weeks here. Wow. Hope not. Pray for not please.
Ok So this week I've learned a ton about how to endure hard stuff, but hopefully it applies to real life too. We barely worked at all last week with two sick days between my comp and our roommate Elder C. Feel pretty unnaccomplished this week but I guess it's not really my fault.
1. Attitude is key. Ive talked about this a ton already but we really can choose our attitudes. I've learned how to choose to be happy every day, sometimes even for just one hour at a time. I've also had to keep reminding myself that this is my mission to enjoy. Kind of selfish sounding but it has helped a lot.
2. Like I said prayer is super real and powerful. I have recieved a ton of comfort and revelation that has helped me so much this week! Sometimes the answers are tiny things but still help tons. Heavenly Father heres our prayers and sends us the help we need. It's really amazing if you open your eyes to it.
3. Work is so key to being happy. It solves liek 95 percent of problems on the mission. Last Thursday I was stuck in the house and I was going totally crazy, and was praying a ton. I got a feeling that I needed to work but didnt know how because I was stuck in the house. I ended up polishing all of my shoes and my comp's shoes and doing the dishes and sweeping. A little weridly obbsessive compulsive behavior but it helped a ton.
4. Good friends are so important. The members and missionaries here have totally saved me! I love them so much! All of them. I've grown even closer to the people here.
One thing I really enjoyed this week was Xmas Decorations! I had time waiting around so I put them all up around our house and it looks real cute now. Thanks so much for those! Helped me to have a little Christmas spirit in my life! So excited to talk to you! Also thanks again for your letters. Dad, yours helped me a ton to know how to be a better comp, but also to realize the larger context of things.
Wow the work is fun here! I love to work so much! I will be sad to leave here actually! It is crazy hot though. 38 degrees celsious one day (not sure how that translates). The heat isn't as much of a problem as the sun. It's just crazy strong and it feels like it burns you immediately! Lots of sunscreen and water and advil hahaha. I think it has to do with the ozone hole.
Wow Tucson sounded so fun im so jealous! Like so jealous!
We did a zone service activity and it was way fun! We moved a bunch of wood and dirt around. Then we had a giant asado (bbq) and had a super fun lunch together as a zone.
The family P. is still killing it! P. couldn't come to church last week either so things are kind of complicated with that. Tonight we plan on asking A. and M. if they want to wait for her and get baptized together as a family or do it this week so Al. could receive the priesthood and baptize P. later. We will see! Maybe next week I'll have baptism pics! So excited they are still amazing! P. has a smoking problem but is on day 5 of no smoking today! Pray for her a ton!!!! I love those people! They will get baptized for sure. I know it. With me or not, doesn't matter, it will happen! I'm so lucky for that it's crazy! I feel so humbled and priveleged to have had the opportunity to help them! The spirit is already very strong in their home and you can tell the difference! It's so beautiful! Love them.
Ok sorry if this is short. I love you all so much and miss you and can't wait to talk to you! Despite the challenges, I'm happy! Don't worry too much! The beginning of my mission has been far from easy, even in mission terms, so I know I'll be as tough as nails for the rest of my mission and I'm grateful for that! I love you all so much! Talk to you soon! More info on skyping next week!
ps one old pic i love
Photos courtesy Boyers.
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.