This week feels long I think becasue yesterday we couldn't write because it was a holiday here like labor day or something. Sorry if you got worried. Trying to remember everything from last week...
For some emergency reasons I had to give the district meeting class for one of the DLs on Tuesday and had really little time to prepare but it actually turned out really well and I think I was able to tune in with the needs of the district well enough and to give them some of my perspective with the time I have here (more than double the majority of the district members). We talked about challenges in the mission and sacrifice etc. The fourth verse of "praise to the man" is really cool in Spanish but I'm not sure if it's the same in English or no. It says something like "blessings are given for sacrifices" and thinking about that truth in the context of the early church was fun to talk about with the missionaries. After the meetings we did a kind of charades competition or catchphrase-like game where the companionships had to communicate to each other a word without saying it to practice companionship communication etc. They liked it and it was a good object lesson.
We had ward conference which was cool! Lots of fun activities and a lot of less active and non member invites which was cool. Wednesday we had a FHE as the ward and the Relief Society had put together a kind of crazy theatre interpretation of Samuel the Lamanite and the coming of Christ in 3rd Nephi and it was pretty loco and not ready so they recruited us and the hnas from the ward to fill in as extras last minute and it was something way out of our comfort zone but we did it to demonstrate that if they ask us to do something (anything) we will do it hahahaha. The really cool thing was our real part before the play (improv). Us and the hnas were in charge of the spiritual thought at the beginning so with the help of a hno we hatched a great scheme. We dressed up one of the elders from the ward nextdoor like a hobo and had him kind of meandering outside of the chapel while people went in. They really believed it! As we sang the opening hymn he came in and kind of shyly sat in the back and everyone looked so uncomfortable from the ward hahahah! The hnas started sharing their scriptural thought while meanwhile (totally unscripted) a really nice member with a huge heart went up and sat next to the disguised elder and talked to him and offered him a lot of help and even to stay in his house the night, totally believing he was really a homeless guy! It was so sweet and so amazing! The hnas at the end of their scriptural thought about charity called the disguised elder up and we took off his disguise to reveal his white shirt and plack on underneath and pretty much the whole congregation started to weep. It was really really special. One member even told us he was going to through the fake hobo out and that he felt so repentant after! Pretty fun stuff
Thursday we had a multi zone conference with Pres May and the APs which was cool. There was a lot of really cool instruction from the world mission department about focusing on finding and teaching youth from age 15-25 that was really cool. I hope we can apply it here.
Thursday we did an intercambio and I worked w Elder Burrows again which was fun. Elder Gordillo went to Nacimiento to do a baptismal interview.
Friday we had a really fun activity in the ward that was a silly hat competition. The hnos really went to town and there was a lot of really awesome participation. Really funny stuff.
Saturday was another intercambio with Elder Lighthall from Irvine California! It's crazy how that when I work with people from California I really feel like I'm with a friend from a long time ago or something it's so werid. We got to talk a lot about his mission up until now and he has grown a lot and has a lot of desires to grow and improve which is so cool to see. It's awesome to see how much the mission has improved since I got here. I dont know if it's just an issue of a changed perspective or what but it's given me a lot of hope for the future.
That same day I woke up kind of with a cold from Elder Gordillo which was a bummer but I'm pretty much better now. I think it was from the zone conference actually. Everyone gets sick after those things. We did a zone service project which was fun. We picked up trash in one neighborhood and it was a good chance to work together.
Sunday was good but I was pretty sick. I got home from lunch and was pretty tired so E Gordillo made me take a nap. It was werid because I think after 21 months I've gotten so conditioned to be so conscious of our time usage as missoinaries. To be honest when iI layed down to rest I was kind of expecting that guilty feeling of time wasting but was surprised by a really soft spiritual confirmation that I had to take a nap hahahaha. At least i interpreted it that way. I felt so much better after though. The Lord wants us to take care of ourselves.
Yesterday we had a zone activity with a 5 de mayo theme. we made tacos and had a homemade piñata competition and the missionaries did a great job with what they had. They were really funny. One companionship made it out of a cereal box with their likenesses on either side. It was really really funny to see the hnas take a bat to those things and we got some seriously good laughs out of that. For the first time ever the zone actually took some serious charitable initiative on clean up so that was a really nice surprise. Fun time.
It was a good week. We are still really in the busqueda but the members have been so willing to identify friends and family who arent members so we have a lot of seeds planted at least.
Ive thougtht a lot this week about the relationship between trials and happiness like i mentioned. I love a scripture in John 16:21-21 (i think) that ive mentioned before. Theres a really cool quote from CS Lewis that Jeffery Holland uses in a talk of his where he says that God is like a perfect surgean. If he took all of our challenges away right away, it would be like interrupting our surgical proceedures for what we need to become as Christs disciples. Its also interesting to think about the war in heavan. I think the argument waswnt just about agency, but about the decision to feel sadness in order to as well feel happiness, rather than feel neither at all. We obviously know the decision each of us personally made and also the decision that Adam and Eve made right after to eat the fruit, that was really the same decision all along. My patriarchal blessing mentions the "joys of mortality" which is a really interesting idea that suggestts that their are many many joys we have now thanks to our mortality that we did not have before being mortal and fallible like we are now. Really interesting and encouraging stuff. Chrits repeats many times to us to not doubt that premortal decision we made by reassuring us that the end result of our suffering will be worth the pain it takes to get there. A great example of that idea is when the apostols see the Ressurected Christ. I really doubt that they were still mourning the crusifiction and death of Christ when He appeared as a perfect and glorified being in front of them.
Its interesting because i remember that Nestor (my convert in lagunillas) mentioned that when he first learned about the atonement it seemed cruel adn pointless to him until he learned about the prize that was payed for by that suffering and how it applied to his life. Really profound idea from at that time an investigator.
Love you all thanks so much!
Elder Trevor Smith
Ok wow so it became winter in the blink of an eye. 4 days ago it was still really hot here and all of a sudden we woke up today and yesterday to some bitter bitter cold. Its different here too because its so humid. I'm kind of glad I'll be leaving half way through and arriving to summer at home hahaha.
It was definitely a weird week here for a lot of break ups in our usual routine. Firstly Monday we wrote and bought food and then had to work for the rest of the day because Wednesday was the national census and we had to be at home for a large part of the day for that. Tuesday was normal and I really enjoyed the usual meetings this time and felt like i could help some missionaries. I feel like an old experienced geezer in the mission now and it's fun to see younger missionaries ask for help and be able to give sage like advice hahaha. Elder Rammos who I think I mentioned last week is a new DL and just gave a totally killer lesson to his district.
Like I mentioned Wednesday was the national census! As a misson we took the time in the house to do a really deep cleaning. I cant believe I'm still cleaning this house since I got here and it was a pigsty. It's finally (finally...) coming together and feels homey now. It was nice and cool during summer but it's going to get cold during winter because it's really dark and has a brick floor. It was funny for the census workers to knock our door and for us to come out. Definitely not what she was expecting to get and it was a funny turning of the tables for her to be knocking our door instead of vice versa. We mentioned it and she laughed. We ate lunch with a member after being counted and rested until 6.
The biggest event of the week was a visit from President Nelson to the South America South area! Wednesday and Thursday there were some devotional transmissions and Friday the whole mission and the Conce north mission met up in a giant chapel in Conce for a conference with him and part of the area presidency! It was a huge thing and I saw a lot of friends obviously! It was really really cool. We all got to shake his hand too! He gave some really cool instruction on mostly the BoM and then mentioned DC31 which is a favorite missionary scrip that I had originally found and loved in the MTC so it brought back a ton of really good memories, especially out of the mouth of a member of the Quorum of the Twelve. Sister Nelson is great too. That took up pretty much the whole day though. Pres Nelson seems waaaay more serious in General Conference and is more like a really wise nice grandpa in person. Really really loving. Very cool experience.
Well the rest of the week seems pretty average after that. Our ward conference is this weeks so we have a ton of cool activities planned and a lot of members committed to bring new friends. Like I said we are really really focusing on member work right now and praying to see fruits sooner than later. Should be a fun week from all the activities.
We helped out the HPGL with a massive family history activity. It's really fun here in SA because there is so much fresh ground to tread and most of the work has not been done at all yet and everyone is getting really amped about it because of the temple. It was fun to help people do the work even though I mostly helped as technical support with people who had lost their accounts or put in wrong info etc into the system. Still really fun.
Sunday was really good but my comp got the flu so we were stuck in the house boooo. Nothing worse than that.
A lot of meditation this week on freedom and captivity. I heard a really cool Elder Holland talk where he said that he thinks that if there was a central theme for our existence (mortaly as well as pre and post mortally) it would be freedom. Pretty cool idea. Reading the scriptures and thinking about the plan of salvation in that light has been a fun activity for me because the scriptures are full of freedom and bondage imagery, especially referring to Jesus Christs role in our existence. Joseph Smith has a lot to say on the subject as well, especially after having been imprisoned so much. I've kind of been fascinated with church history these weeks as well, and the beginning of this church is all about bondage and freedom, just like the biblical exodus. The imagery of being "delivered" or "carried out" of our personal bondage to our personal "promised lands" is really beautiful to me. That's what the Gospel is for anyway right?
Ok I'm doing good here. Love you all so much and miss you a lot. Excited for all the wedding glam etc and to talk to you all in not too long on Mothers day. I love you all so much!
Elder Trevor Smith
Trevor was reunited on Sunday with John Sanhueza, a real friend and support to Trevor during the first weeks of his mission. John's post said: "cuando pensé había sido un gran día... se convirtió en algo aun mas genial :-"
Ok it was a good week! Lot of changes!
Tuesday was the usual chaos of the transfers here in LA. Elder Gordillo and me had to wait there in the bus terminal a long time and then we had to eat something really quick and drop his stuff off at the house and shoot up to Conce for a medical appointment he needed for his arm that he had fractured a few weeks ago. Pretty crazy day. Safe to say we slept really well that night. It was fun to see conce again after a long while. They had to take more xrays and everything so it took a while but it looks like hes pretty much 100% health right now which is good.
Elder Gordillo is really cool. Hes 25 and from mexico city and already finished studying international relations at pretty much the best university in mexico so hes a really smart guy. He got to the mission together with elder meiling and elder gimenez so he doesnt have that much time here which has been really refreshing. He has a very good atitude and is very mature and knows really well how to work with the members here in LA and has been teaching me a LOT abotu that and it looks like we are going to have some serious success in that field. He is really clean to which has been nice. He is super humble about his assignment and is really loving the learning process and has done a great job. Hes a killer missionary!
So wednesday was our first district meeting with the new zone. We are like 4 missionaries smaller than last transfer with some good new faces to freshen things up a little. The meetings were good and we talked to the DLs and Hnas Trainers about charity in leadreship and having that be our motivation for working and serving our missionaries. It looks like we are going to have a really good transfer and that we could double our baptismal goal for the month which is a huge surprise but just a ton of prepared people have popped up all over the zone.
We had a short meeting with the hnas caps to plan out this transfer and the focus we want to have with the zone and we got some really good plans down on the calender. We mostly want to focus on helping every companionship be really strong and to work in synergy and to help missionaries be more spiritual in their obedience and dedication to the work. One thing we may do is try and have a service project every saturday together and to have a little scripture devotional before to really invite the spirit and help the missionaries find the joy in service. Also we want to spend some time doing like teambuilding stuff with the companionships so if you know of any teambuilding games or ideas let me know.
As far as the work like i mentioned we have been focusing a lot more on challenging and helping the members to identify and share the gospel with their friends and have seen a lot of success in the first steps there. I havent mentioned it yet but we have been teaching a guy named Leonardo whos 27 and came to engilsh class as a reference of the investigators of the hnas. Its kind of a long story but after some confusion of who had dibs on teaching him etc (it was all kind of awkward for a lot of reasons) the hnas and us decided that both companionships can take turns teaching him which has turned out really cool actually. He had a really big need of the gospel in his life and has already pretty much had it confirmed to him that thats what he needs so hes pretty much in the water. If all goes according to plan he should be baptized the 29th of april so that will be really cool.
The other big breakthrough we have had is Sonia, the mom of a recent convert here who came to church. The missionaries had tried teaching her in the past but hadnt really taken the iniciative in talking to her and figuring out where she was coming from and what she needed so when we did that it really surprised her and she opened up to the teaching a ton. She is kind of hard to find and not totally committed yet but we are starting with really small steps and trying to be really patient with her. She knows what us and her daughter are after anyway so its a big deal that shes listening at all.
I know i say it a lot but this ward is awesome. THey really love the missionaries here. I was thinking about it a lot and trying to put my finger on why and then i remembered that PMG says that a good relationship with the ward starts with the bishop. Bishop Troncoso really gives a great example of cooperation and apreciation for missionary work in the ward and im positive that everyone sees that and treats us in the same way.
Ive been thinking a lot about charity and love this week. We repeat a lot that the ultimate expression of love is in Heavenly Father sending us His son Jesus Christ (John 3:16) and i think its kind of become cliche now when it really is the central doctrine of our faith. I studied a lot about that idea and questions like the "why" and "how" of it all and its really cool stuff obviously. Lehi and Nephi talk about it a lot as well as most profets. Its so important for us to not only hear and say that phrase in john 3:16 but to understand what it means and how it applies to us and those around us. Im trying really hard to feel that doctrine in my mission and to appy it to my life really well so that i can testify about it and how it can bless others in a really sincere and personal way.
Not to mention what it means as far as for us following the Godheads example of sacrifice. Thats when our level faith and dedication get really serious.
Ok im doing good here but out of time. Its going too fast and im trying hard to enjoy every minute of it all and to be as happy as i can! I love you all so much and hope everythings good!
Elder Trevor Smith
Wow so the transfer actually ended again. crazy stuff. Weird to think i only have 2 more.
Ok this week im struggling to remember as always but usually my memory gets jogged as I go. First up is tranfer news! Im staying and elder Aravena is headed off to Victoria to freeze to death during winter hahaha. Elder Gordillo will be my new comp! I will be training him as a zone leader which will be fun. Hes from Mexico and ive only heard really cool things about him so it should be a really really good fresh start and a good cambio. It will be good to have fresher meat around as a companion becasue he will probably be my last! Ive always wanted a mexican comp.
So we started the week out with mission leadership council which was really fun this time. It was really cool to see old friends especially elder Oxborrow in his last week. Way fun to talk to him and hear about our converts from there in Lagunillas. They gave us some spot on training there that we really needed and we left with a really good spirit from conce. We recieved a lot of revelation for the zone and for ourselves. Well as you already know they used videos of all of us opening up our calling letters to make a big video of all of us which was a weird but cool surprise. I feel like i look really different than i do in the video of that hahaha it was funny to see everyones premission self.
The week was pretty packed with intercambios and stuff because we had 5 baptisms in the zone which was totally awesome. A lot of interviews and stuff like that. Wednesday i started out working w elder burros in san martin which was fun. We got to talk a lot about our impressions from conference and about conversion and stuff like that and it was a good oportunity to minister and talk about obedience etc. We both came out of hte intercabio really determined to make changes to become better missionaries and i think thats the point of intercambios. The most fun thing of the whole week was talking to 4 university students diong a project on religion or something who had a ton of really cool questions. Im usually kind of suspicious of university students here because they tend to be like way overly "progressive" and anti religion but these guys were actually really cool and we talked for like an hour. I think at first it was just about doing their homework but in the end they seemed interested in the message. They said they werre coming to church but no go all final. We called but no luck. Hopefully we will find them again.
Friday we had another intercambio so that elder gray could do some interviews here for the hnas in San Martin so that was fun. We taught a good english class too. It rained really hard that day out of nowhere so we got pretty wet but had a good day anyway. He got transfered to lota now so it was good for one last hurrah.
Saturday was marked mostly by the baptisms i mentioned. ONe in santa barbara was an old lady 105 years old! Pretty impressive stuff by those elders! I think she was the grandma of a member or something but she really wanted to get baptized before it was too late! the hnas here baptized the parents of a recent convert and it was really cool stuff.
Wow I dunno the week mostly went just way too fast. I feel like the days just slip out of my fingers now its crazy. Im kind of out of time now too sorry we were kind of rushed! Today we went to a cool waterfall near mulchen with some recent convert friends which was cool! Ill try and upload pics instead of rambling on! Sorry this is short this time ill do better next week.
Love you so so so much!
Elder Trevor Smith
Wow general conference is such a giant event in our lives as missionaries that it's hard for me to remember what happened before that in the week it was such a landmark. I'll do my best!
The beginning of the week I did an intercambio with Elder Culotta from Mississippi (spellcheck) which was cool. Like I said I love the campo on intercambios because it brings back tons of good memories. Nacimiento is really big and honestly there should probably be 4 missionaries there but there's only 2. We had a good day with a lot of lessons. The weird dumb thing was that on the way there a wasp flew into the bus and stung my wrist just out of nowhere and hurt like crazy and itched bad for a few days. That was dumb but it's over now. It left a little mark on my wrist so now I look like spiderman (yes!). Elder Culotta is from my group and a good friend so it was cool to work with him. We did a lot of walking and its pretty hilly there which was a hard change from my super flat sector hahaha. We had some good conversation about obedience and the mission and what we can do better as leaders in the zone and he was so receptive. He will be going to byu too I think so he will be a good friend to have.
Wednesday was good after getting back. Pretty normal but good. We found a new investigator who had been taught by the missionaries a while ago and whose nephew from Temuco was a missionary a while back and I think we taught a good lesson. It's so important to establish not only our purpose as missionaries from the get go but also why we are committed to that purpose, or rather, to bless them and their families. I studied a lot about that this last week, about how the Gospel is really "it". There were a lot of moments during the week when I felt the spirit testifying to me that the Gospel was the only thing that could help the people around me or the people I taught. There's a lot of good scriptures and examples about that idea. some good ones are the tree of life, whose fruit was more desireable than any other; the bread of life, of which when we eat we cannot die as compared to normal bread; and living waters, which are the only waters that can eternally quench our "thirst". Its really important for missionaries to understand that for their own good and the good of the people around them. I try and share that concept with the people around me, whether they are missionaries, members, or investigators.
Wednesday we had english class. Its not growing quite like we want it too but maybe we can try harder to publisize it. I still really like to teach it but we need more people to come.
Thursday we had lunch with that really cool Bro Constant i think i mentioned last week(?). He lives out in the campo with his sister and parents right now and it was so delicious. He is really familiar with the US and knew i was coming so he made a giant pot of Chili (yes chili in chile haha) and made everyone try it. It was way good and it had been a looooong time since i had eaten that. The other missionaries were kind of hesitent but then really liked it. That was only the appatizer of course and then we ate like 500 tacos with really good mexican food stuff. Way fun. Im getting fatter here si o si.
That night we had our big mission work activity but honestly it was kind of discouraging for the turnout that we got. I think it was kind of poorly communicated to the auxilary organizations or something but im not sure where we went wrong because everybody knew about it. Nevertheless we had around 30 or so members there and we had a good time and the spirit was totally there for the message part so it ended up really good i think. The best part was that some really good investigators of the hnas of the ward came and after taht and general conference they are pretty much in the water according to the hnas so that is cool. We still had a good time and the members who came were really nice about it even if they had expected way more people to come. We talked about the temple and family history and it was good.
Friday was good too. We did teaching practises in the morning with half of the zone and it was really good. The hna trainers had some good stuff prepared and then we followed up with practising teaching the doctrine of Christ. We did a good demonstration and i think the missionaries got the spirit of that super important part of what we do. We had an FHE that night with a really cool young family that is reactivating and working toward getting sealed so we are really gunning for that.
Conference. CONFERENCE. So good
I feel like I always get so stoked by conference when it happens in the mission when it happens and then forget everything that was said in like 2 weeks so my main goal is to keep studying it all and doing my own followup on the main revelations i received. Its crazy how it feels like every talk that is given is so according to what we need to hear. Its almost spooky. I really liked the talks by Yoon Hwan Choi and the one about fear by Pres Uchtdorf. I loved all the insights about positive thinking and trusting in the Lord with everything and i so needed to hear all that stuff. I especially loved how Pres Uchtdorf spoke about how redeeming love is the atidote for fear. I really want to be able to put in practise all i learned and it was so much that i was kind of stressing about remembering it all but as we walked out of the last session and got to work i already feel like somehow i had had a change of heart and felt so renewed and light it was crazy. I really want to keep that feeling with me.
How blessed we are to have modern profets. I think we take them for granted way to often especially when it is the number one thing that sets us apart from other faiths. THey are such a spiritual anchor for us. I want to listen to all of it again as soon as i can. I recieved so much help from those talks it was crazy. I think as zone leaders sometimes we are kind of like the top of the support and love ladder so it was really nice to be at the other end of the ministering for a weekend and i really needed it. I feel so refreshed spiritually.
Ok i love you all and am out of time for today. I planned on sending pics but left my converter at home sorry. I am doing good and love you all so so much! I pray for you always!
Elder Trevor Smith
Ok Hi all!
Kind of short on time I'll have to write quick!
It was a pretty normal week but we definitely made some progress here and I'm excited about it! The coolest things that happened were finding a good group of new investigators! Most of them just came out of nowhere but now if we can keep contact with them we could end up teaching a lot this week! The most notable thing was a family we found that the parents told us that they had been waiting for Mormon misionaries to knock their door for like 2 years to be able to teach their kids about the church. Both the parents had had contact with the church as youth and had good memories about those experiences and wanted their kids to learn more. We taught a good lesson but I think they ended up thinking they bit off more then they could chew because our objective is misionaries is to seal them as a family not to just teach them a little and we were clear about that hahahaha. I think the spirit touched them though. Only problem is that they are really busy and the kids are taking classes by the Catholic church to prepare for the first communion so we need to act fast hahaha. It was such an amazing miracle though.
Tuesday I worked with Elder Gray. He is one of the best friends I've made on the mision by now. He is a DL and just gave a killer class an then we worked in Mulchen the rest of the day with little luck but it was good. Fall is coming so it's starting to look really beautiful around here with falling leaves and big clouds and cool sunsets. I especially love the campo though. I kind of miss it sometimes. It's so quite there it's crazy. It's still pretty hot but on occasion now we have really threatening cold cloudy days that are just a warning of how cold winter will be this year and I'll get a taste of that before I leave.
Wednesday we found that family. We also had our first English class that went pretty well. It looks like it will be a little harder to work with here than in lagunillas where it was a huge success but I think with time it will be good. I like teaching English a lot it's fun.
Thursday we had a pretty busy day with coorelation and a baptismal interview of a 87 year old single guy who the hnas from Avenida Alemania were teaching. One of our gringo DLs interviewed him first, or tried to, and couldn't because he didn't understand or hear him. We figured a little home field advantage with Elder Aravena would help and sure enough his Chilean charm did the trick and he was baptized with another one of their investigators Friday. Pretty funny guy but a soul is a soul. Props to the hnas for showing some serious Christlike patience.
An investigator I interveiwed of Elder Gimenez got baptized Saturday and that was cool.
There is a rockstar member here named Hno C who is just a ton of fun and comes to English class and speaks perfectly. He does a lot of buisness trips to California and loves to talk to me about San Francisco even though he knows I'm not from there. Really nice guy who helps us a lot. The ward is just full of members like him who are so willing to help.
Sunday we had a meeting with the stake presidency who asked us as a zone to help reactivate and recruit youth and young adults to go to seminary and institute. It will be a really cool way to work together with the wards and stake and we will find a ton of new people and part member families like that as a zone so it should work great. We just need to be sure we can get the zone excited about that type of work (even though in our mission it's actually like the most efective way to do it) and it should be great. The stake leadership here is really loving and supportive and really take us seriously which is nice.
Sunday in the afternoon we had a zone attack in Ave Alemania and it went well. It's always a treat to see the zone working together and in action. I just hope it turned out well.
I think this cambia I'm learning a lot about patience and faith like I've said. So often I want things here and now or exactly how I want them, and I often get frustraded with myself and with others when we don't act up to par with Who we represent, but I need to try and remember better that (in the words of PmG) repentance is a process of our entire lives. I think the key is to not let healthy introspection and correction turn into obsession and being hypercritical. I really got hit over the head by a scripture this week that i had read before but had a new meaning for me this week.
20 I say unto you, my brethren, that if you should render all the thanks and praise which your whole soul has power to possess, to that God who has created you, and has kept and preserved you, and has caused that ye should rejoice, and has granted that ye should live in peace one with another--
21 I say unto you that if ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another—I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants.
22 And behold, all that he requires of you is to keep his commandments; and he has promised you that if ye would keep his commandments ye should prosper in the land; and he never doth vary from that which he hath said; therefore, if ye do keep his commandments he doth bless you and prosper you.
23 And now, in the first place, he hath created you, and granted unto you your lives, for which ye are indebted unto him.
24 And secondly, he doth require that ye should do as he hath commanded you; for which if ye do, he doth immediately bless you; and therefore he hath paid you. And ye are still indebted unto him, and are, and will be, forever and ever; therefore, of what have ye to boast?
I especially like how it says that all He asks of us is to keep His commandments. really simplifies everything and gives me a lot of hope when I see the other stuff that isn't commandments kind of floundering.
It was a good week. I'm trying really hard to take advantage of the time I have left. I really love my mission, the best one in the world. I love the Gospel more though. I love you all a lot! I hope youre doing great and I really appreciate your letters and pictures and all that stuff!
Elder Trevor Smith
Ok I'm struggling to remember main events of this week but I'll do my best!
Started off good with a district meeting and a game of Preach My Gospel Jeopordy me and Elder A came up with to stump the zone and motivate them to study PmG. The idea was for it to be really hard and to stump everyone but they actually killed it and surprised us. They competed as districts and it was really close and got competitive and that was fun. It was also to show them how much golden information PmG has that is so important to our work and I think they could all see that. We are going to have another round at the end of the transfer and try and show them their progress that way.
That day we did an intercambio w the elders from Nacimiento and I worked with Elder B from Florida. He has like 9 months in the mission and is a great missionary. He actually started his mission with four cambios in San Martin so he knows my sector way better than I do so we took advantage of the situation and tried to visit all of his former investigators and promising future investigators and ran around the whole sector a bunch to do it in time, but we didn't come out very lucky. It did give us the chance to talk about his progress as a missionary a lot and his challenges and I felt like I was able to be a good example especially of the importance of obedience and he was really receptive to what we talked about that. Really good guy and very talented musition so we sang a little at night together and that was fun.
We are still kind of in the same drought of investigators which is discouraging at this point in my mission considering that most investigators here take about 3 months on average to be baptized but that's ok. most of my converts went through the conversion process faster than that anyway. We are pulling out all the stops on all of the finding ideas we can from English class to ward activities to family history (yes family history) and really crossing our fingers right now. I still feel like we need to push ourselves to be even more diligent even though its way hot right now.
Thursday we had a multi zone conference with Pres May and Hna may and the APs. It was really cool and was mostly follow up on what Elder Packer shared with the whole mission. Really inspiring and spiritual. I think the main revelation I took out of it was to refocus not only my mission and my teaching on Christ, but also to refocus my faith on Christ. That afternoon the APs did divisions with us and the Elders from LA north so we got to work with Elder Q and he was really inspiring. I think it was just how his faith was manifest in his rock solid confidence but I guess that's why they called him an AP hahaha. It was a good day and we actually taught a good amount of lessons that day and I got to get some good advice on some of the challenges we are having.
Friday was a total treat because I got to work with Elder G my trainee! What a privilege. He still is so awesome and has grown so so much. We taught a lot of really good lessons because he is killing it in his sector. It was crazy to think that he has twice as much time as I did when I trained him and to see how much better we both are now and how we meshed so much better Friday because of that. he has had a really successful mission since we were comps and that's really cool. The coolest thing was to see how stick straight obedient he is. At like 845 at night the Hnas from the sector over called us and needed us to go buy some eardrops for them downtown because the district leaders have the insurence cards to buy meds so we had to go way into centro to find a pharmacy and it was quite an adventure. It ended up only costing like 5$ anyway which was funny in a kind of frustrating way hahahha.
Saturday was fun because somehow the ward missionary force got assigned the church cleaning of the week so that was a fun change of pace. Us and the Hna missionaries from the ward with some recent converts got it done in an hour and a half. That night we did get lucky and by some totally crazy divine guidance we found some pretty cool new investigators that show some serious hopes of progress. One of them actually really wanted to come to church the next day so we got our hopes really high for the miracle but no cigar at the end of it. Still it was a really relieving breakthrough.
Sunday was good. I had to give a talk on missionary work but I think I did a good job (not like I haven't done it before by now hahaha). Our ward is so special. That day the elders quorum pres got called by a single old lady sister who had somehow ordered like an entire truck of chopped stove-wood but had accidently ordered it to be delivered Sunday so the quorum and the young men and us got together to help unload it all and it was a really cool act of charity to see in action. I had never seen so many members mobilize so quickly and so willingly to help. That really brought the spirit into our day.
One thing I've been learning about this week has been about the importance of helping others after our own conversion to Christ. I think in various ways in the last 6 months that's been a lesson God wants me to learn and it really got concreted in a ward council where we watched a training video by the area presidency that talked a lot about first converting ourselves and then helping the people in our domain be converted as well. I feel like it's really easy to get stuck after that first step because its a hard change of focus to make but i know that that's the way we can continue to grow. There are a ton of scriptural supports about that too like how Lehi tastes the fruit of the tree of life and then beckons his family to come eat too. I need to work on this. I feel like sometimes week to week I hit a roadblock in my spirituality and growth and learning and used to have no idea why but now I think it has to do more with this principle. Send me your thoughts on this idea.
Wow it sounds like you're all doing great! i miss you a lot but its going by quick! it sounds like Macy is killing it at dance and I wish I could see her do all that coreography especially Victor's dance! I love you all so much and am doing great!
Elder Trevor Smith
Ok hello hello 123 all!
It was a long week but a good one! Mostly looking back I wish we had made more progress in the sector but we are getting there hopefully! It's been kind of rough finding people to teach but it will get better because I know the sister missionaries found like 10 new investigators last week in the same sector.
The week was pretty normal honestly. Started out with a good zone training meeting under our direction. We did our part at the end and it kind of got cut because of the time but the whole thing turned out well I think. We have some good district leaders here and I know each one of them really well and love them a lot so its been so cool to be able to help all of them in their duties. With the changes in our mission that our going on it seems like that is our principal duty now as ZLs is to just help them. The hermana trainers did a great job too. Honestly I think what made the whole thing great was the reverence that all the missionaries had before and during the conference and that was way cool. The spirit was there really strongly and i could tell everyone genuinly wanted to learn a lot and were desperate for help so there was a good spirit there maybe even if we lacked a little in the messages and practices etc. Elder G. gave a great lesson on faith. When everyone finds out I was his trainer they kind of look at me wide eyed and I tell them I had nothing to do with it hahaha I think I mentioned that way back in Puren.
That day we wanted to do exchanges but couldn't because the dls had already planned them with their missionaries. I think the charecteristic that stands out the most to me about this sector like i said last week is the membership. The members just love us so much and its been a huge change from the usual. The lunches are giant and so delicious and the members just spoil us and think we are the coolest thing ever. Honestly its been kind of socially exhausting. Its been hard with our planning to get out of our lunch appointments on time. A lot of great support as far as coming with us to lessons too. We are working on the reference thing though. Step by step. The leadership is awesome too.
There has been a lot of work to do as far as less actives and recent converts go and that's been a good thing and a bad thing. Our ward has a upcomming temple trip planned and that together with a new focus on family history work that Elder Packer gave us a few weeks ago we worked a lot on that and i think we made some serious progress with some of those LA and CRs. We put some serious goals with some to go and even got to help them with Family search etc. There is so much of that work to do here in south america. I like to show off my family tree that literally has no end thanks to grandparents and relatives etc and their efforts and Ifeel obligated to tell them that I never lifted a finger to do it but I think its still cool to show them how big this work can be. Its cool to use Hyrum Smith and Joseph F Smith as examples to show how cool our ancesters can be too. I think I felt the spirit of Elias with us and the spirit of the temple and that was cool. I hope i can make that a constant thing in my mission now.
Bad thing is that I feel like we can use our time better. Like i said the main struggle has been finding. We are kind of puzzled on how to do it because when we do dedicate time to hit doors and talk to people it hasn't gone very well. I think we probably need to use our area book better and the ward lists as well but both things are GIANT and way messy. Its been kind of hard to motivate my comp (and myself) to really committ ourselves to finding when we have so few investigators and so much cool work to do with retention and reactivation but i want to make progress to baptism. I need to be patient too though. Hard balance there. Poor Elder A. didn't see any baptisms the last to transfers he was here and his previous comp finished the mission here so its been kind of a struggle as far as motivation goes but i want to work on it better this week.
I heard that N. from Lagunillas got baptized! Yaaaaay! no pic yet hopefully elder oxborrow will remember to send me some.
I went to Santa Barbara w elder G. from Guatemala and that was fun. Its a really beautiful town in the cordillera and really small and touristy. The work is hard there for that reason but we worked hard and it was a beautiful day. Elder G is really nice and really new in the mission but very level headed and committed to his testimony and purpose. It was cool to meet him and in part made me miss the countryside and in part not miss it at all hhahahaha. I actually got to see some friends from Via O'Higgins who had moved there and that was cool. It had rained earlier in the week so the mountains and volcano were all covered in snow but it was just way pleasent down where we were.
Saturday and Sunday were full of a lot of work. A lot of recommittment on me and e A. part too and I think we will do better this week. The good thing is that we get along great. Our church meetings were about as on spot as they get here and really spiritually uplifting. Lunch with the bishop and his wife was awesome too i felt like i was at home.
The zone is getting better slowly. We are really pushing them to push themselves as far as getting our teaching and obedience better and it has shown in our results. I had a really cool experience Thursday when a district leader felt impressed to tell us to call a sister companionship at night to try and uplift them a little because they were kind of discouraged. The senior comp had just came out of a kind of hard companionship the transfer before and her new comp is a tiny Hermana from the philipines (yes the phillipines) who is really new and hasn't had much success and there in a really hard sector. I called them and shared a scripture and talked a little about how I didn't have much measurable success in the beginning of my mission etc but they told me that just that day they had a crazy miracle breakthrough with a part member family who had accpeted a baptismal date. When he gets baptized he will be the Hermana from the filipenes first baptism in 8 months. It was so special to hear how their faith had been responded with a miracle when sometimes that doesn't happen. It was so refreshing as a leader to feel empathy for someone we're guiding but in a positive way. Honestly I think I'm most greatful for that this week.
This week I thought a lot about faith. Its always been kind of a puzzle for me. I think a lot of it is about positive thinking but also a lot about action. I get confused about it sometimes, especially when you throw hope in there as another principle. I remembered a talk by Elder Bednar about the "faith to not be healed" and i think that applies to our work a lot. Patience as well. I'm just trying really hard to stay focused and worthy enough to be able to be gifted success I guess and trying to work hard enough to deserve it as well. I know we can make it work in this sector too.
Ok I love you all and miss you. I had like 3 dreams i was home which was unfortunate this week hahaha but I', focused don't worry. I hope your all doing great and I'm praying for you!
Elder Trevor Smith
Ok it was a super quick week! Monday I said goodbye to M and N. Sad but good. They took it well and are in great hands. I packed it all up at night and it was my best packing yet I think! Tuesday we got up early and a great member Bro G. took us to the bus terminal and I took a bus right away at 9 and was off.
LA is so much cooler than I remember hahahaha! I think the main thing was the shock of being out of the states at the begining but now I see that this is like by far the best developed and most beautiful urban sector I've been in. San Martin is really beautiful and the people have been really nice so far. The members here are legendary and just love and spoil the missionaries so much which is a fun change. I've eaten so much delicious food. Most people in this ward live comfortably too. The ward is really really cool. A lot of good priesthood and cool recent converts. Not quite as big as Lagunillas but very friendly and most have more time to help too than in my last ward. Really really cool people. I feel like a total regalon.
The sector is like from the downtown of LA to the southern border kind of with a few borders of other sectors around there. It's pretty large and has great landscaping weirdly enough. I was bracing myself for like crazy hot weather but it's actually been very pleasant and it even rained a couple days. I hope I got here right in time for hte end of summer because it's been really great weather.
Elder A.is really cool. He has a really serious look and hes really soft spoken but is super funny and kind in his personality. He's from a city in the very north of Chile. I'm his first gringo comp hahaha! We will be finishing hte mission together too so he knows a lot. Hes a great missionary. The house was kind of a disaster because their vacuum was broken and the missionary I replaced finished his mission so the house was kind of a nightmare but we put a goal to fix it and it's gotten cleaner and cleaner every night. It actually is a really nice and big house so that's cool. Lots of storage space.
We had a district meeting on Wednesday and I felt like I had so much time int hte mission because i knew like 6 people in the zone and the rest of the 22 were newer missionaries i had heard nothing about hahaha. Elder G. and Elder G. are here and they're great friends and it's cool to see how much each of them have grown since I was around them. The zone is working hard but struggling a little in their results, and there's a lot of work to do here but that's good. A lot of new problems to solve. It was cool to feel even more the help of the Spirit in my assignments this week due to kind of a group of less ideal circumstances here compared to the paradise that me and Elder O. had constructed in our sector and in our zone with the help of the missionaries there. It will be fun to have new challenges though. A lot of work needs to be done about how we teach so that will be cool.
We had a leadership council on Friday so I went back to Conce hahaha. It was cool to see old friends as always. Nothing too crazy there but it was cool to see how much our mission has changed and is changing for the better. It's sad to think I won't get to see it farther down the road because I'm sure it will be having more and more success as the months go on. I got to ask Elder O. about N. and he said he's doing great and right on track for baptism this week.
Other than that we were mostly working really hard to find new people to teach here. Looks like their teaching pool had pretty much dried up before I got here but that's ok. The members are really willing to help and its been easy to find people contacting too. There are a ton of less active members and part families here so that will be a cool new way to work to find new people to teach. Our ward mission leader F. is great, as well as the rest of the ward leadership here. The lunches have been delicious.
Theres a companionship of Hnas in our ward too and they had a baptism this Saturday which was cool. Elder A. was asked to baptize the convert and he did.
Sunday was some good church meetings. A lot of excitement about an upcoming temple trip as a ward in March so that was cool to see. Got me kind of jealous to go.
This week I think I was blessed at the end of the week with some insight about what it's like to have an eternal perspective. I think that sometimes our "here and now" becomes so overwhelming to us as normal humans and we forget how much more life and eterntity we have to live. I think about how much I've changed in only 20 months and it makes one week and its challenges seem much smaller. God has such a larger perspective of us and what He wants our lives and eternities to be. Getting there can be painful, but I know now that as we trust in the guidance of the Holy Ghost He can indicate us to know how to respond to our circumstances to be able to achieve our potential. I think that's why it's so important to be worthy of that guidance. I can't remember where the scripture is (John 14 or 15) but Christ teaches His Apostles how a woman feels pain upon giving birth but then how the pain is forgotton when she feels the joy of having a child. A really interesting idea. Faith is wanting what God wants for us.
Ok I think that's good for today. If you have questions for me write away! Its going to be a good cambio we are giong to work really really hard! I love you all!
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.