Ok so it was a really busy week here! Went by really fast!
First we started out Tuesday with doing divisions in our sector with the APs and we got a ton done! We visited like all our investigators in one day and had some killer lessons with them so that was really fun. We are seeing some more progress than last week too, and M. and M. came to church this week! M. is reading the Book of Mormon. I love being able to plan and carry out lessons for people we care about according to what indicates the spirit. Our job is really fun.
Wednesday was awesome. We started out the day with a small zone service project in an elderly home washing windows and talking to the old people and it was a great opportunity to get to know the zone better and stay united in a good purpose. Service really does invite the spirit. Only problem was how crazy hot it was (no fires yet). Right after that the whole zone got together in the stake center for the world-wide training which was just totally awesome. It's crazy how the spirit prepares us for the messages that are given by guiding us to study and ponder the same topics months before they are mentioned by the First Presidency and quorum of the twelve. It was awesome. I especially loved how it kind of followed suit with what Elder Holland's last talk in general conference was about, or not letting regulations and rules and the letter of the law getting in the way of doing what Christ would do and helping people anyway we can. They talked a lot about how no effort or good deed is wasted even if the people don't end up getting baptized. A lot of it was about faith too, and how we often skip that step as missionaries which keeps a lot of our investigators from really being able to progress. Of course the schedule changes and more p-day etc. was awesome too.
Thursday we had a kind of badly timed intercambio with La Marina. I worked there in San Pedro with Elder Batista from the Dominican Republic who is like a character from a movie or something becuase he is so happy and excited etc. It was really fun. I seriously don't think he stopped smiling the entire 24 hours I was with him, even when all of Chile started to burn hahahaah.
Honestly, our mission was barely affected by the fires, even though it was too smokey to work that much in our zone on Friday. The main hassle was members and investigators telling rumors to missionaries like how the Chilean army was going to come and wipe out all the Mapuche (native tribes) in the middle of Conce and absolutely crazy apocolypse stuff like that. They would call us and ask if it was true and we had no idea hahahah but with a little investigation pretty much all those rumors were debunked. When we got back to the house in san pedro one missionary had literally filled every container that could hold water because he had heard that they were going to cut the water for like a week or something to put out the fires so he had like literally every cup, big and small, filled to the brim sitting on the floor of the house hahahaha.
It is pretty tragic though. I felt pretty used to it all with the usual California fires we would have and honestly there hasn't been as much smoke as those fires in elementry school. It's a great lesson in ecology too because most of the forests that are burning are ones that had already been destroyed by foresting companies and "replanted" in cooky cutter lines of pine trees that are literally later used as fire wood for houses so all of this was pretty likely to happen at some point according to my environmental science knowledge. Still pretty sad though. I feel like as missionaries we were pretty overprepared for earthquakes but had no idea that fires were a risk too.
Saturday was a normal day again with a little smoke and Sunday was good too how I mentioned with some people in church. We did a zone attack in San Pedro on Sunday and it was really inspiring to see how awesome the missionaries in our zone are at work. Seriously all of them will become such better missionaries than I will ever be hahaha the next generation here in our mission is really good. I know part of it is from the new stuff we have been trying as far as leadership and accountability as a zone too. A month ago we had like 3 baptismal dates as a zone of 26 people and now we have more than four times that amount so it's been really gratifying to see the improvement we have been working towards here for more than 4 months now. I think it has been a sustainable growth too. It's crazy how much the success missionaries have depends on how they live the gospel and how happy they are.
One really cool thing I've been thinking a lot about has to do with a talk from Elder Holland that Macy sent me actually. He talks a lot about how Christ's mission in part was to emulate the Father perfectly to show us how He is and to be able to know Him by knowing Christ. That is why they are referred to as "one" while they really are two different beings. The cool thing I discovered as well is that we know Christ by knowing His Spirit, and by knowing Christ we know the Father. It has a ton to do with our job as missionaries and makes sense to why we are called "representatives of Jesus Christ", becuase our principal job is to mostly be worthy vessels of HIs Spirit. Therefore the idea is that as people come to know us, they come to know the Spirit, and therefore Christ and the Father in that order. It's evident that as people (missionaries members and investigators) comprehend and take seriously this principle and feel the truth of it, way more progress in the work of salvation is made. We have a really cool job that you can really only have as a missionary or as an apostle..
Ok I'm doing great and love you all and hope you are all doing great!
Love Elder Trevor Smith
Ok wow its hotter every week here!
This week went so fast I'm struggling to remember everything. We worked really hard but there was quite a bit of opposition in the lives of our investigators so that was a bummer and the week definitely didn't turn out how we wanted it to but it's ok!
We started off with the craziness of cambios in Concepcion on Tuesday. Goodbye Elder Cheney from the house and welcome Elder Wasquebich who was actually elder Molina's trainee from a while ago so he spent 6 months in Puren so that is fun to talk about. He baptized a lot of the people I was teaching there so that was cool to hear about. Tuesday was just a ton of suitcase lugging and meeting new zone members etc. It was very warm as well in the bus terminal. After that we got home at a reasonable time for once and got quite a bit of work done.
Wednesday we had our first meeting with the new zone and it seems way more excited to work than before and that's awesome! A lot of really cool newer missionaries. For example Elder Batista from the Dominican Republic who is so funny. It's going to be a good cambio here the zone is doing a lot better and i know it's from being more obedient.
That day I got to go on an intercambio to Boca Sur with Elder Glach which was fun to go visit an old sector and old friends. They had coorelation that night so I got to say hi to a bunch of people there. Sometimes I miss that sector a lot! It was really a fun day. Elder Glach is awesome. I feel like every time I go on intercambios with people they expect like huge miracles to happen but then we always somehow end up having a long difficult day where appointments fall etc. hahahaa maybe I've been called to teach my missionaries about patience or endurence or something - I don't know. We did find some cool new investigators and teach some that are progressing now. It was actually way cooler weather there in Boca as well.
Thursday and Friday were normal days. All of a sudden the absolutely stunning investigator pool we had 2 weeks ago is kind of drying up and it looks like February won't be a month as good as we thought it would be so we are looking for new investigators and families like crazy to replace the investigators that aren't progressing anymore. It's really bizare because I feel like the more I learn about how to be a better and more effective missionary and teacher the more I feel like I realize how little this work and our success has to do with us and our efforts and abilities. It's crazy how I can feel like I'm the best missionary I've every been but still feel as powerless to control the results we have. More and more I realize how our only job is to be a conduit for the spirit to allow investigators to make a choice according to the influence of the holy ghost. The sad part is how often they don't make the right choice.
Even with all that, hearing M. share her testimony in principles of the gospel is enough to feel like one soul saved and one life bettered really does make all the dissapointment worth it. She is doing great and that makes me so happy.
We did divisions with the APs on Saturday and it was really fun to teach some killer lessons with them. I've been trying really hard to get better at asking good questions during the lessons to help them open up and apply the gospel and our lessons to their lives instead of just telling them it will bless them. I've been focusing a lot on revelation through prayer like I said last week and it has been really cool. It's a good way to help people to see where their faith is at. Those who have high faith are totally willing to ask away to God, but it's surprising to see how many choose not to do just that. It helps us to see the true intentions of the people quickly.
I feel like this week even though it wasnt exactly what we wanted I really enjoyed and got better at forgetting myself and losing myself in the work. So often we as missionaries believe this is our work and depends on our abilities and our will when really it has nothing to do with us. It is so much the work of the Lord, and our will is always secondary to His. I have felt so many times how even when we don't have much measurable success how the Spirit will speak peace to us and tell us we did our parts.
Ok sorry if this is short! I love you all and love your letters! I think staying in Chile until the 13th would be too much probably and a week to 10 days would be better but you're in charge of all that.
Ok wow it was a busy week but a good one. Last week of the transfer is kind of weird usually. Cambio news is no news! We stay together here one more transfer! Finally I stay in the same place with the same person! We have an awesome groove on so that's really cool.
The week started out pretty normal with an intercambio with some Elders from Boca Sur. I went with Elder M. who's a recent convert from Uruguay. It was funny because we sat together on the plane from Santiago to Conce our first day in the mission so it was cool to catch up and see how far we have come. It was really good because he doesn't have a ton of friends in the mission but is a super awesome missionary and really committed to our purpose. One thing I liked is that he was super open about sharing advice with me and talking about how we can do things better in our sector and I learned a ton from him. I feel like a lot of the time people don't talk to us like that because we are the zone leaders or whatever but it was nice to get some really useful feedback. He is a really good missionary and it was cool to get to know him better and help him how I could.
Oh ya the day before we did a family home evening with a really nice less active family who the wife is a return missionary and the dad is a convert from like 5 years ago. We had a message prepared to share with them but then as we prayed to start the lesson we both felt really impressed we had to share a video about temples and we did and it was really amazing how much the spirit hit the nail on the head with that. It was totally what they needed to hear and we talked a lot about having the spirit of the temple in the home and in the family and it was really cool. We had a great time and they came to church Sunday! Sometimes people just need an invitation to come back and they do.
There was some serious opposition in our sector in the beginning of the week when it just seemed like none of our plans or lessons turned out how we wanted to. A lot of our really hopeful investigators kind of didn't commit baptism like we thought they would and didn't really even do their part to pray and know if what we have taught is true etc. Kind of dissappointing but we still feel like this cambio we will have a ton of success.
Towards the end of the week stuff started to turn out better. We did divisions with the smallest sector in our zone La Marina and the poor Elders there were really greatful we could come and shake things up a little and get them out of the normal grind. It reminded me a lot about how grateful I was for that way back when I was in Via OHiggins. We lost a lot of time in our sector being there but we felt really good about doing it after.
After that our lessons started to turn out a lot better but we still didn't quite reach the goals we wanted to in the church. A. progressed a lot and finnally understood better the doctrine of the gospel and understood that he doesn't have to be perfect after baptism (that's the point). He has changed a lot but is not quite committal yet. He could very well be baptized in February though.
The coolest miracle that happened is that we didn't have contact with M. or her daughter R. all this week but they BOTH showed up to church on Sunday!!! We were so stoked to see R. there. The week before we had fasted together with M. that they would be able to find jobs and they both did! They were so touched to see how God answers prayers and R's heart softened a lot and she committed to baptism the 18th of February so we are going to focus a lot in on that and help her get ready for that. She has changed a lot too.
I've been studying the restoration a lot this week and had an impression that when we talk about the restoration we need to talk about temples. We had a lesson where this lady said to us after we explained the restoration "yeah well all churches pretty much say they're the right one etc., but whats the difference between yours and the rest?" Instead of giving the normal primary answers about the priesthood and profets etc that I would normally give I felt very impressed again to talk about temples and the power to seal, and that that really only exists in our church. After studying more me and my comp realized that the temples really are a huge symbol of the restoration and evidence of it too. At the end of the day the scriptures about sealing say that with out it the earth would be entirely lost, so it really is the point to all we do in the church. Pretty cool stuff.
I have also been thinking a lot about recieving revelation. I feel like at this point in my mission I've been really dependent on and gotten good at recieving and recognizing revelation and the spirit through the scriptures and through church attendance, but as missionaries I think we forget the power of prayer a lot. Maybe it has to do with praying so much that it kind of loses its meaning to us. That kind of seeps into our teaching sometimes too and we sometimes mention revelation through prayer and asking God as like an ending side note when really it should be some of the investigators first spiritual experiences. I want to study it more this week and get better at my prayers. I think a lot of times we expect an inmediate answer and then dont realize when things are revealed to us during later dates that its a result of asking in prayer. Elder Bednar's videos about "patterns of light" explain it really well. It will be a good new challenge.
Well I'm doing good here and me and Elder O. are trying to set high goals and really push ourselves so that we stay really committed to our jobs here. We want to work really really hard this transfer now that we have more people to teach. Pray for us! Love you all so much! Hope everyone is doing well and I love your letters!
Elder Trevor Smith
Ok it was a good week here, but felt really long for some reason I'll try and sum it up!
First we started out with another half pday when I wrote you last, so it ended up just feeling like 3 weeks without any pday which was really long but today was a really nice rest. Tuesday we had another leadership council in Conce which was fun to see some cool old friends like always. I feel like those meetings are kind of always the same thing at this point but it was still really spiritually edifying. We mostly just wanted to rush home to get to some of our lessons but it was a good day.
Later we had interviews with President May! Well before that on the same day we went and surprised some of the Elders and helped them clean their house because it was like rediculously disgusting and we had found out from going on exchanges there etc. It was seriously a nightmare in there and I literally through away like 20 bags of trash from a tiny apartment. It's crazy how that by the end I could already feel the spirit more in the house when it was only like halfway cleaner. The elders there were a mix of embarrassed, repentant, and grateful but honestly I didnt feel bad because we had told them to clean that house like 10 times and they did it so we just went over there and did it with them.
After that we had interviews which was cool. After we went to lunch with them and got some good sandwhiches and that was fun to get to know them better and stuff like that.
It's been getting super super hot right now which is a new challenge. Lots of sunscreen. The bummer is that the ozone is so dissappeared here and the days are so long right now that the sun can burn you up until like 9 at night which is wacky. There is usually a nice wind too at night and I sure am glad I'm not in Los Angeles or some other inland place right now. There's some really good icecream they make in Coronel that's famous and definitely the best I've had in Chile and it's cheap too so that's been fun.
I'm getting better at cooking! There was this guy on a bus selling a cool like hindu veggie cookbook for really cheap a while ago and I bought it for like $2 and its come in handy because I'm so sick of meat and potatoes right now. I made some cool stuff this week but the best and most price effective one was a delicious veggie lentil soup. I'm learning! Mom you were always right about soups being good.
We had quite a few lessons this week but quite a few fell through as well. We are teaching a lot of people like I've mentioned but its seems like all of them lack a little bit of faith in Christ to get really progressing well so we are working on that. I think this week we will be teaching about the atonement a lot to help with that.
M. and M. are good but need some more time. I think to get more committed to really start investigating and think about the idea of baptism. Ca. and D. are awesome and came to church woooo! only problem is kind of the same thing, that they need to grow their faith a little more. It was fast and testimony meeting too which is kind of a weird impression usually first but we will follow up with them and see how they felt. They are very studious but sometimes don't really apply what they learn to themselves, or do it in kind of a selective hearing way that is kind of common here in Chile. We have a super good fellowship for them though that is a family that lives really close and both the mom and the son are return missionaries and not shy at all to invite.
A. is finally progressing more too now! I've mentioned that he was just really confused and finally one day we were teaching him and we decided we had to just clear up the Jehova's Witness stuff he had been reading once and for all and we kind of hit him with a scripture bomb (which we like almost NEVER do) and he was kind of mindblown and really believed us! It was a nice change from just really stubborn people sometimes. He really has true desires to learn but we are working on changing those desires to action desires. He did come to church and was kind of mindblown by the whole thing because I think he was just expecting some hole in the wall non denominational thing and our church is kind of bigger than that hahahah. We will see how he is tommorrow too but I think we will be able to put a baptismal date soon.
M. is doing great and R. found a job which is cool! It's like semi-permanent but still a really awesome blessing. Only problem is that she works nights so is kind of hard to find now but it will work out. M. is just very Mormon now all of a sudden it's really funny. Shes awesome.
One kind of hard to explain but big thing happened this week too. So up unto this point in our mission we had been doing this kind of controlling daily verification with our missionaries by calling every companionship every night and asking for a set type of information about their work etc to encourage "accountability" but I had been studying it a lot and realized that it was kind of counterproductive because the missionaries ended up being more accountable to their leaders than to God and for a lot of other reasons too. It was noone's fault that we worked in that way as leadership up until now, I think it was just a weird idea some APs had like 2 years ago or something that got treated as a rule and doctrine when according to PMG it didn't really have any written basis. I have a pretty good relationship w the current APs and asked them why we gave accounts and verified in the way we did and they pretty much confirmed it to me by saying it was just tradition like I thought. I told them that we should try and do it how it says in PMG in our zone of San Pedro first to test the difference out, and they and Pres May gave us the go ahead and also asked us to give a presentation of all of what we found out about how a zone and mission should actually run as far as accountability and verification and leadership etc for the next leadership council, so that was unexpected! It was cool to see that just from a good study of PmG and some revelation me and Elder O. could make such a large but productive change in how the entire mission runs. The week was filled with a lot of talk and study about accountability and leadership and I think we reached a really good conclusion and long story short we will be working a LOT more like a team now in this zone, and in the mission too in like a month.
Other than that I studied a lot about the light of Christ this week. There are a lot of super cool scriptures about it if you look it up in the bible dictionary and index etc. A great topic to study. The cool thing I learned is that as one obeys the light of Christ in themselves (or their natural inclination to do good), that light (or inclination or concience or however you want to call it) grows and, according to doctrine and covenants, will eventually lead them to the restored gospel (or in other words us as missionaries or other members etc). When that happens they will be able to choose to accept the gospel and recieve even more blessings, a stronger guide in the gift of the Holy Ghost, and just a lot more holiness and godliness in general as they do it. It just is so amazing to me how perfect God's plan is for us, and that how as anyone strives to do good they will always be led back to Him. I love how Christ is called the "light of the world". I am learning a ton about what it means to follow "His light" or "the light" and how good one feels as they do it. There is no blessing greater than feeling how He can light one's heart.
Ok I love you all and I'm doing great here!!! Congrats Taylor and Brynna WOOOOO! I hope you are all doing great! Talk to you next week and thanks for the letters!
Elder Trevor Smith
Ok it was a good week but it felt kind of long for some reason but it's ok!
So Tuesday we did a gran intercambio with the zone and I was with Elder Pinto in San Pedro and it was pretty fun. Hes a really good missionary with a lot of experience and a really good teacher, so it was fun to learn from him and get to know each other better. I got to catch up with an old friend Elder Acevedo who I got to know way back a year ago while I was in Cunco so that was fun. I am also very glad I'm in my sector and not in any other hahaha. Lagonillas is awesome.
I'm not sure if I've mentioned but our zone is kind of "mah o menoh" right now so me and Elder Oxborrow had been thinking and praying a lot about it and we felt strongly that it was an issue of obedience and the intercambio we did made that pretty clear that it was. We had like a zone inventory kind of Wednesday and talked a lot about what challenges we have etc and what we do well and what we can do better and I think it was pretty helpful. At the end we pretty much told everyone that even though there were a lot of problems in the zone that are different, we were sure that just obeying to a higher degree would help with whatever problem the missionaries had (that's kind of the beauty of the gospel; its a cure-all). What I think made it a success was that the missionaries could really feel that we were talking about that because we genuinely care about them so I think their hearts were really opened. We talked a lot about how the natural man is an enemy to God, but also read Alma 5:7-12 and Mosiah 3:19 together and talked about how Christ can change the hearts and desires of all of us and that obedience can be easy if we really do have that change. We did a zone fast that day to be able to obey better and we have seen some serious changes in a few of the missionaries here and it also has shown in the fruits of their labor too, which is really cool to see from our perspective.
After that the week was pretty normal but all of a sudden we have a ton of people to teach and that's really nice. We have a lot of help from the youth of the ward here, and a few who have or are preparing for mission calls and school got out so they have a lot of time. We taught a lot of lessons this week.
M. is super awesome and is just very, very happy still. She had an interview with the bishop which was good so I think she's being integrated pretty well. We are working on R. and she is trying really hard to grow her faith in Christ to be able to take more steps towards Him but moves slower than M. obviously. M. speaks her mind a lot so we had to kind of tell her to be patient with R. hahaha. I think she will get baptised too but we are praying really hard for her.
M. M. are really good and we had a good conversation with them after an English class and they are really looking for the gospel but don't quite know it yet so we are working on that! They definitely need the peace it brings. We are going to have an FHE with their friends from church tonight so hopefully that helps!!!
We are still teaching C. and her mom D. as well and they are awesome! They are very studious and learning a ton but they're lacking a little bit of the spiritual progression and revelation part. I guess it's the application. We need to keep challenging them to be baptized and i think if they come to church this week they'll understand better as well. They are very very smart.
K. is kind of on standby right now because she's like impossible to find.
It's crazy how much progress we have seen in our sector this transfer. It was kind of rough to get people to church with Christmas and new years back to back on Sunday but I'm sure that next transfer here will be full of baptisms. I hope I stay! We will see in two weeks.
New years was fun! We ate dinner with a very nice family Amestica here who have a daughter on a mission so that was fun and very delicious. We were kind of tired in church but we had half our p-day yesterday and took a good 2 hour nap and recharged. We have eaten so much meat these last two weeks that we are re-evaluating our word of wisdom compliance and trying to go more veggie. Hopefully we can do it.
As far as what I've been pondering this week it's been a couple things. I'm still thinking a lot about obedience etc but also about what judgement will be like and how relieved we will be to see that keeping our covenants the best we could will allow us to be perfectly clean when that day comes. I think it's obvious that Christ has a perfect faith about that considering the fact that He is the one who suffered for it all in the end, but I think our faith is what will allow us to really believe that that will happen, and to trust that we really will be clean that day. Covenants are amazing and so key to the Gospel, and something that is really only understood in our church (the restored one). I also was thinking a lot about accountability and agency and the parable of the talents, and I want my missionaries to know that we (and God obviously) trust them with the talents (the sectors and companions or districts), and I've learned that as we allow people to act freely in the dominion they've been given while feeling an opposing force, they really do grow. There's an awesome summary of that subject in 2 Nephi 2 that I feel like im finally growing to understand and it's a really important leadership and life concept, and central to our purpose here on earth. I have a new year's resolution to read all of Isaiah before I finish the mission so wish me luck on that hahaha.
Ok I'm doing great but missing you all a little! Loving it here a lot and learning a ton every day. Hope you're all doing great!
Elder Trevor Smith
ps are my letters getting shorter or not?
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.