Ok this week was crazy again (I say that everyweek) but I swear nothing cool or really different comes to mind.
One interesting thing we did was a cool service project! We had been talking to the manager of the only old folks home in Puren and we whipped together an awesome service project with the whole zone last Friday! There was a ton of work like moving wood, redoing a couple of garden things, and taking down this old shed but the main think was that there was this really ugly concrete wall that goes around the home that we painted so it looks a lot less like a prison now. It was super cool to see the whole 19 missionaries there but it was a little frustrating to see people kind of lose steam before the job was done. Another bad part is that it started to rain really hard with like the first real winter rain and we couldn't quite finish everything up, so me and Elder G are going to have to go and finish the painting and a few other things this week a few days in the morning. It was still really cool and a super awesome change of pace. One funny part is that the manager who gave us the jobs bought all the stuff but only bought like 6 little paint bruses for a whole 30 yard wall so I had to run with another Elder and buy a few paint rollers hahaha they were cheap so it's ok. The people were really nice who worked there and were really appreciative. It was really nice because it started to rain and the workers there made us stop working and come inside where they gave us a snack. Apparently like 5 bakeries in Puren give them free bread so there is always like way to much so they probably fed us like 20 pounds of bread. It was cute too because they somehow got the idea that we don't drink coffe so they had some herbal chamamile tea packets for us hahaha. One of the workers there was a less active member too! Everyone here is Mormon but just doesnt say it hahaha. We will see what more we can do there.
Another thing we have been doing is going more to that other city Contulmo to work. It's so pretty there! One sad thing is that one member there who was just coming back to church's dad died, so we visited him. We talked and he was actually doing really well, but he lives alone and is separated from his daughter now, and mentioned how he was feeling more than anything jsut kind of lonely. I was thinking about that when we were done sharing a little scripture and I think in the past I might have felt stressed out about time and finding new people and getting good numbers but I've been trying to have an attitude more of "ministering" rather than being a robot missionary. The point is that I was studying the words of Christ to HIs apostles when He ordained them, and He said to not worry about money, clothes, food or anything else material, and to just focus on serving and trust that He would provide the rest. I took that and have been interpreting it into not being overly focused on goal setting and time management here in Puren, but focusing on what Christ would have me do, especially considering we are literaly the only priesthood holding spiritual help for two entire towns here, and trusting that God will fill in the rest for the goals we put each week. It's been working well and has helped me have a better focus on the people here and I like that. Also we completed most of our goals this week too! Oh ya I didn't finish -- so we stayed with that guy another hour longer than we usualy would, but I could tell he really apreciated it.
Another example about ministering is that our branch president called us and told us about this less active abuelita who lives waaaaaaay out in the countryside whose husband was about to die and asked us to visit them. The robot missionary thing to do would be to try and weasel out of it or do it really quick or in a few days during some really dead hours, but we felt impressed to go right away and visit the hermana. I'm really glad we did because I felt like we really brought the Spirit and feelings of peace into a pretty bad situation over there. The husband had had cancer and alzheimers for a long time and was just about ready to go when we talked with the hermana. He was pretty unable to communicate at this point. It was sad but I felt like we did our part in acting on behalf of the Savior, even though we lost time that could be used for finding new investigators etc. The thing is about Puren is that if we or the branch president dont do something, it just doesn't get done. I think I've felt the spirit stronger this week as a blessing for acting as ministers.
Side note -- the whole small town vibe thing and our job as missionaries totally reminds me of that show Poldark(?) with the British priest in that small town, just with less murder mysteries and love interests. Not sure if that's relevant anymore.
hmm what else. We are still eating a ton -- It's crazy.
Ok scrpture for this week is Mormon 8:39. Also has to do with focusing on what's important out here in the mission. I love what it says about adorning ourselves with things that do not have life. I want to avoid that and focus on things in the mission that bless us and the people we serve with the spirit and other blessings.
I love my companion a ton -- He's totally great. I've been able to help him this week and I feel happy about that. It's crazy how fast this transfer has gone.
Also Mothers day! It's getting close! I'll get back to you with scheduling because I'm not sure how it will be, also it's complicated in the sense that skype worthy computers are pretty scarce here in Puren, but I think pres spichiger has a camera etc and will let us use all that but i'll get on that.
D is good but didn't come to church and we have no idea why! He's hard to get ahold of but is still totally awesome.
Sorry this letter is totally just ok. The time caught up with me. I love you all and I'm loving my time here! It's getting way colder and way rainyer fast but we're keeping the attitude up. Trying to take advantage of every day I have out here! Love you all so much!
We got lost.
Wow another crazy week i swear life is crazy here in Purencito. I’ll try and fit everything in.
Ok so started off the week with a gran intercambio where I worked in a trio with elder G (a different elder G whose from Argentina) and Elder M (brazil) in Collipulli which is a pretty big pueblo. It was fun to meet those guys better. It was also cool to have 3 totally different countries and languages represented in the same companionship and it made for some funny contacts. Elder M is not used to this cold fall weather here being from Brazil so I could relate to that pretty well hahaha. We had a good time.
The next day we had our normal district meetings but also interviews with Pres Wilhelm who is the temporary mission president for now until we get our permanent president in July (June?). I was the first interview and he has a rep for being super tough on missionaries so i was a little nervous going in, especially as a trainer, but he totally threw me for a loop. We just kind of talked small talk about the mission and dad serving in Lebu etc. and at the end he told me to not be so hard on myself and have more patience with myself hahaha what a relief. Whelp who knows why that happened that way but it did. He gave the whole zone a totally new angle to work from, which is to work more closely with community leaders and offer more service, whatever tole it takes on time otherwise used for proselyting. I thought it was awesome advice considering how overly knocked all of Chile is at this point. It was kind of hard to know how to do it at first and shift out of our comfort zone so much, but I think we’ve found some pretty good opportunities to really crank out some killer service, maybe even as an entire zone. Our best option right now is an old folks home that is just way overwhelmed with tasks, so we are probably going to try and bring the whole zone here to paint the building etc. The people in the home just about went head over heals when we visited and it touched us so much we plan on going more just to visit with them.
As the week progressed we were getting kind of worried about not having found new people to focus on after E getting baptized etc. but things turned out really miraculously towards the end of the week due to just straight up us being blessed hahaha. The coolest thing we have going on right now is teaching Diego. Wow he is so awesome. Since I got here we’ve been praying to be able to find families and future priesthood holders to teach and a week and a half ago Diego came up to us and contacted us! First time in my mission that that has happened and the person has been sober hahahaha! He is 23 years old and just finished his studies in Santiago and is starting his practices to be a social worker (i think? not sure about the translation) here in Puren where his mom lives. Well actually the problem is that they live way in the campo on them way to Contulmo, our other city. Only problem is that his phone was broken so we wouldn’t be able to call him! We told him the hours of church services and gave him our number but were kind of nervous about not finding him when Wednesday we were in the city building looking for service opportunities and he was there working and talked to us! We set up an appointment for Friday where we would stop at his house on the way back from Contulmo. We thought him and he is just totally golden! Accepted a baptismal date and pretty much accepted all doctrine etc. and is super excited to read the BoM and pray. It gets better. Sunday he shows up WITH HIS MOM who also isnt a member but also super nice and great in general. Us being the gospel ´principals teachers we could just jump right into plan of salvation and they had awesome questions! We were kind of nervous about him not having any youth here in the branch, but we think they liked church anyway. So excited to talk to them again!
Other cool thing: we were talking to people in Contulmo (totally beautiful btw) and we knocked on this door and there were like 10 kids of various ages who answered the door! The mom was there too and let us in so we pretty much taught a primary version of the first lesson to all of them, and the mom tells us that she is a less active member!!! What. Turns out they weren’t all her kids (duh) but a few were cousins etc. 5 of them were over 8 and they all wanted us to come back (teach a little English too mwahaha) so we will hopefully be able to fill the Puren primary room pretty quick hahaha.
Other really cool news: So we visited this sister who is the Sunday school teacher here, and she mentioned living in Lebu. I asked her if she got baptized there and when etc. etc. and SHE IS TOTALLY DADS CONVERT! Her name is G S and she probable was around 23 when dad and his comp baptized her and her siblings (but not her dad or mom i think). She totally thought I was "Elder Smith’s son" but was a little shy to ask and totally remembers all of it from back in the day in Lebu. Her son is a member too but is less active, so i want to try and work with him and maybe the dad too who lives in Puren as well who knows. Pretty crazy right? I found another person though too named R G, who was really young when dad was there but says his family were some of the first members there in Lebu. He and his family moved to Angol a year ago and he’s the second counselor in the stake presidency funnily enough! He said dad has a ton of converts and most of them are very active, and that everyone still remembers him there hahaha. Also side note Presidente Whilhelm absolutely loved the fact that dad opened Lebu so who knows maybe I finally got my in hahaha.
We had a great Sunday yesterday where a ton of formerly less active people showed up, including a total of 3 priesthood holders which is great. Things are seeming like they are going really well here, even when we had a kind of rough start to the week with a few things. Elder Gimenez is totally awesome and i still feel super weird "training" him. Seriously I haven’t been sure even what to teach him. It’s been a humbling experience. He’s a lot like an Argentinian version of Fletcher which is funny.
So along with my goals of not being so hard on myself, my main goal this week is to have no fear. Just no fear in general. I think Satan works really hard with fear against missionaries, and not just the stereotypical fear of talking to people etc. that fear isn’t too bad. I think a really huge fear i have been guilty of from time to time is the fear of failure, which if it gets out of control really just ends up being a lack of faith. ITs pretty silly to fear failure on a mission considering who’s team your on. I really have been liking the example of David this week, as well as the majority of prophets in the scriptures (except Jonah lol). I love the words that David says as he confronts Goliath and Ill past them below (They’re kind of smash talkingly graphic too which I think is funny).
Also our housing situation is totally unreal good. Hna Margarita pretty much is just out of grandkids to spoil since she moved from Santiago a few months ago so we are pretty much her only options now so things get rediculous. ill try and write stuff out or send pics to illustrate next time.
Also who reads my letters? just curious who my audience is ;)
I love the mission and i love your letters so much! I cant believe how soon we will be skyping too. I’ve been really blessed here in Puren! Like a ton! I love you all so much!
Wow this was the busiest week of my mission by far and I know I said that last week! It was super special and I'm loving my time here in Puren! It's not the easiest sector (I've been gifted with 3 of the hardest now hahaha) but it's growing on me, especial with the change of house and freedom from pulgas (fleas)!
Ok wow where do I start...
So we moved Monday like I said! It took ALL day. It was super exhausting. We got help from some of the office missionaries which was nice. Well they just kind of drove the van back and forwarth because they couldn't really lift things but it was still really nice hahahah. The new house is easily the best set up in the whole mission. I think I'm already fatter. I'm not sure I remember how it feels to be hungry anymore. Well actually Hna M. is very polite and understanding about the amount we eat which I think is fair considering how we pay. Still it's just the accessibility and deliciousness of the food that motivates me to eat more I think hahaha. The house is beautiful with a great view out into the countryside and good company for every meal. So worth the work we did.
Moving to the new house was definitely not as hard as cleaning up the old house hahaha. It was kind of unreal. We had to clean a ton of mold and dirt and all kind of nastiness and the last part was that we repolished (tinted? not sure what we did in English) the wood floors that were horrifyingly stained. That took a TON of time and work. On top of that my poor comp was sick from the very mold and has had a cold all week, but was a great sport and worked really hard too, harder than me. There's like super fastly contageous type cold being passed around here in puren but I think I already had it so I'm good. Pretty funny how quick people are dropping. not funny but you know what I mean. Anyway the house was pretty good and by the end of Wednesday we gave the keys back. Whew. Huge weight off my shoulders with that miserable house.
Another crazy part of the week was that Hna E. got baptized WOOOOOOOOO! Baptisms are super awesome and like the best most fulfilling thing ever, but they also come with a ton of anxiety, especially in this case because Hna E was feeling kind of wishy washy at the beginning of the week but more on that later. Point is we had to focus really hard on her and on planning the service etc etc and it took a lot out of us combined with our other duties as essencially counselors to the branch pres. It turned out really great.
So I'll try and sumarize all the stuff that went down with that. Hna E is kind of hard to describe so I'll do my best hahaha. Shes an older lady that has been talking to the missionaries for a little while, like 2 and a half transfers now. At first they were getting really close to dropping her because se wasn't completing with her homework etc and was having a really hard time understanding the doctrine (which by the way is not important but we will get to that). When my comp ( a total machine by the way he's awesome) they were pretty much going to show up to give kind of the last hurrah goodbye lesson, and she mentioned how she had never understood the Book of Mormon. He told her that it helps to pray before you read, asking to understand, and that made all the difference! She started showing up to church, reading and loving the BoM, and progressing really quickly spiritually. The key I think was also that she came to conference and could see how big the church really is too. Finally this week arrived and her baptismal date was Saturday, but in the beginning of the week she was super shaky and we were really scared. Thursday we had intended to have a lesson with her and talk about the baptismal interview, and she told us she was going to wait a little while before getting baptised. Super scary! It sounds like not that bad of a thing but usually when people "wait a little while" they never end up making the decision to get baptized. Both of us in that lesson felt like that was going to be a problem for her too.
We started doing the whole talk blah blah blah with no luck. We had her Fellowship sister there too (Hna P is totally awesome) and no luck. We were getting ready to throw in the towel and surrender. Devastating. She said she felt scared and alone. Finally, I tried one more time to really listen to what the spirit was telling me and this is where the last few weeks of my mission really start to make sense, including the transfer from Cunco etc. I was trying really hard to know what to do when a very familiar song I sang probably 100 times in Choir in high school came to my mind, Esto les Digo. The words to the song are a verse from Mathew 18:20 in Spanish, and were totally ingrained in my head from singing it so many times, so it was natural that it came to mind. The crazy part was that when I found out I was leaving Cunco I was pretty bummed so I was reading the scriptures for comfort when I found Doctrine and Covenants 6:32-37 (see below), which starts with the same words as the scripture from Matthew. It was really really comforting when I first read it and brought back a ton of great memories of course so I marked it up. When I heard the song in my head, I thought of how I had recently read those verses so I went for a Hail Mary and looked it up and she read it one verse at a time and we talked about each verse individually (again see below to understand better). The Spirit totally filled the room and we were silent for a little at the end. Me and my companion testified about how we are never alone, that Christ is always with us. Right after that I just asked her if she would get baptized the 9th of April and she said yes. The rest of history! She passed the interview fine and everything turned out. Something really special that I did not expect at all is that she asked me to baptise her.
I really hope that you can see how deeply personal this experience is for me. The fact that Heavenly Father knew that I had sung that song a thousand times before and that it also happened to be the exact words that Hna E. needed to hear in that moment and that I happened to get transfered here just in time shows to me how truly beautiful and perfect God's knowledge and understanding of each and every one of us is. I really hope you can see that from what I've written. It leaves me breathless. Those words in Doctrine and Covenants will always be sacred for me now.
I'm really glad for the how my mission has turned out to be up until this point. I'm grateful I didn't get to participate in a baptism until now, as hard as that was. To me it's the difference between having a miracle seal my testimony and faith versus having my faith and testimony bring the miracle, if that makes sense. As awesome as it was to be able to participate in her Baptism, I didn't need it is the truth. It came to me right at the perfect time where my faith had grown to the point that I knew it was going to happen anyway, so I wasnt really surprised. I guess a better way to describe it is that I imagine that for the Brother of Jared when the 4th 5th and 6th rocks lit up he was less and less surprised, if that makes sense. That doesnt mean that those rocks lighting up was any less miraculous, just that he was pretty confident it was going to happen anyway.
I'm really happy and really grateful to serve a mission. I love you all and I love your letters. I hope mine makes sense! I didn't have a ton of time today sorry! My comp is totally awesome. I love him so much! I'm super humbled to be his trainer!
Thats it but I love you!
32 Verily, verily, I say unto you, as I said unto mydisciples, where two or three are gathered together in myname, as touching one thing, behold, there will I be in themidst of them—even so am I in the midst of you.
33 Fear not to do good, my sons, for whatsoever ye sow,that shall ye also reap; therefore, if ye sow good ye shallalso reap good for your reward.
34 Therefore, fear not, little flock; do good; let earth andhell combine against you, for if ye are built upon my rock,they cannot prevail.
35 Behold, I do not condemn you; go your ways and sin no more; perform with soberness the work which I have commanded you.
36 Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not.
37 Behold the wounds which pierced my side, and alsothe prints of the nails in my hands and feet; be faithful, keep my commandments, and ye shall inherit the kingdomof heaven. Amen. (it's better in Spanish)
Wow ok this week was absolutely crazy, so my brain totally feels like mush right now. I'm not even sure what I'll write but here it goes!
Ok so Monday ended with an awesome going away party in Cunco that they surprised me with. There was a branch group chat where everyone communicated and got together. It was so fun but so sad at the same time. It was so hard for me to leave there that night. Some really sad goodbyes. They know I love them and will remember them so that's the important part. I finished packing and Tuesday the next morning took a bus to Angol and then to Puren!
Ok so it turns out I was wrong last week about the cambios and almost every single trainer out of 33 of us got switched around! It was a totally crazy transfer! Also ya Dad Elder P is my zone leader hahahahahah. That's really cool. I'm with Elder G now who is just totally awesome. I just feel like I'm walking on eggshells not to offend him sometimes and end up in an Elder A situation. He's awesome though and now we are in our groove. I feel like he's training me! A lot of it has to do with him knowing the sector better but also hes just kind of a machine! He's a convert of about a year and a half and has an awesome story and testimony. Seriously I think that out of the 33 new missionaries here they let me be comps with the best two that will probably be assistants together one day. He's awesome I forget I'm training sometimes. I do think I'm supposed to learn humility this transfer though and kind of hand over the rains a lot, but honestly it's kind of refreshing to do that after bein so in charge.
Puren kind of makes Cunco look like a metropolis hahahah. They're about the same size (maybe Puren a little smaller) but Cunco was full of people who worked and studied in Temuco, so it was pretty urban and modern. In comparison, Puren is way way way country. Elder G tells me I teach like a primary teacher (which I'm proud of hem hem) which is probably why I'm here hahaha. The closest "big" city to puren is Angol, which is like the equivelent of Fresno hahaha probably smaller. One cool thing is that Chile is kind of like California in that its got two mountain ranges with a valley in the middle and to make a comparison I've kind of gone from like the Sierra Nevadas to east of Santa Barbara or something. It's really pretty here, but super isolated. Our branch is 20 old ladies but they're all really nice hahahaha. Us and the branch president are the only active priesthood here and hes pretty busy studying and working so it all kind of falls on us but that's ok I'm kind of used to it.
So not only transfers made this week crazy but also conference and the fact that we are moving to a new house, and we should also have a baptism this Saturday WOOOO. That's a ton of stuff though so I feel like the days are just totally not long enough. The whole moving thing has taken the most time wow. Our current house is kind of like a midevil dungeoun in every sense of the word. It's cold, wet, moldy, flea ridden (a huge problem this week but I think I got it under control. I might need more permetherin in a few months also some alegra but I'll take inventory and get back to you), dirty, and filled with the remains of past missionaries. Also very little food. The good news is that we are moving to the equivelent of a nice warm cozy grandma's house beneath an actual grandma's house who's a member, and who will now be cooking and doing our laundry for us like an actual mamita. I am so relieved hahahaha but it's been really crazy translating and managing all the negociations. Finally we are moving in today! That's why I'm on so early. It will be way better there. Hna M is our new mamita and she used to be a professional cook so we are going to eat really well. I will get fat though. O well.
Conference was awesome highly reccomend 5 stars out of 5 98% rotten tomatoes hahahaha jk it was great though. Pretty complicated planning though because we traveled to the stake center in Angol with the branch and watched the other sessions in the chapel. Hna E came though and she should be getting baptized this Saturday if all goes well! She's awesome and really loves the book of mormon, and just lacks a little confidence and committment but well see what happens. I believe that it will turn out. I'm really excited! Who would of thought that would happen in Puren! We actually do have a ton of people to teach here strangely enough. It's just really hard to help them progress and to find them in general, because a lot of people don't have phones or work too much etc. From what I can tell the missionaries have kind of already entered every house here and taught most of them, so it's a lot of reteaching and focusing on the spirit etc. We will see what happens. Seriously we are really busy. The work definitely is not easy here either but I know we can do it! Elder G is super dedicated and excited so that's really good.
Spiritually I'm good -- just kind of shellshocked by all the change. That's kind of normal for transfers though. I'm really working on making the stem from testimony and faith to dilligent action. Sometimes I feel like I struggle finding personal conviction to the work which is weird. I think Satan jsut attacks missionaries a lot but it's ok. I'm also trying not to be too hard on myself but keep raising the bar too. It's a hard balance for me. I loved the talk about being children of God. How cool was that. I think I took it for granted before the mission but I've seen the power of that simple truth as weve born testimony to people who've never heard it before. Really cool. I love the company of the spirit and am striving really hard to be a more dedicated and convicted servant in the Lord's vineyard. I love the mission and through the changes this week I have really felt the Spirit bouying me up. I'm so grateful for that. I think my goal this week is to serve a more Christ centered mission. That should help. I want to think of Him more I guess.
Ok that's kind of it hopefully it's good! I didn't have a ton of time yesterday and today to kind of plan my letter so I hope it turned out ok. Also I need someone to do research on fleas and send me a brief. The hardest part is knowing when and where they are biting me so that I'm able to stop them. That would be great.
We are moving today so I had to get on early, but I'm going to get back on and print out your guys letters in around 5 hours so send stuff out today -- it's not too late! I love you all so much! I'm doing great here but I feel like it's going way way too fast! I miss you guys too!
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.