So good to hear from you all your letters really keep me going sometimes and give me a ton of animo (excitement). This week has been crazy with ups and downs and was kind of long but not necessarily bad. I love you all so much!
First things first: Thanksgiving doesn't exist here. OOPS. I can't remember what I ate but it was probably soup. It's getting really hot here too. But this week I'm saying that I am really greatful for all of your prayers! I have felt their power this week pushing me along and helping me stay positive and happy. I can't thank you enough. The power of prayer is so real! I say a lot of prayers.
So as far as teaching goes, that family I mentioned (A, P, M, and F) are still absolutely unreal. They are one more thing that's been really keeping me going this week. They are so awesome and listen so intently and just love to learn! They have read and prayed and believe that the Book of Mormon is true! We have taught the restoration, plan of salvation, and the gospel of Jesus Christ, so we are moving on to commandments this week. Keep them in your prayers! They are so amazingly receptive and excited. We are still on track for baptizing them the 12th! We will see what happens! I,m pretty dang hopeful as always.
This week I really did realize how much i have to be grateful for! That family is definitely a big thing, but also I have such an amazing family and support group at home! Also I.m called to be a full time representative of Jesus Christ, which is amazing. My neighborhood is beautiful and my house is nice. There was a lot of wind this week keepíng us cool! I'm learning a new language. Christmas is coming. Prayer works. Food is good(ish). I've really been appreciating the adventure of the mission, in all the good times and bad included. I'm learning and growing like crazy! The members here are my best friends ever. I don't have to worry about what I wear hahahaha. I get to meet a ton of kooky weird crazy people every day. I was really happy despite a lot of challenges this week.
The things I've been thinking about the most this week is how I want to give everything to this work. All of it. Every hour of every day. Possibly because my comp may not alway share that vision I've learned to appreciate that even more. I am so determined to give EVERYTHING I have to the Lord, because He has given me everything. That desire burns so strongly in my heart it cant be contained. I want to walk till my feet fall off and talk till my voice goes away. When you think of the mission in these terms it becomes inexcusable to be disobedient, lazy, or "too tired". There are no excuses, because He did everything for us. I want to show I'm grateful through sheer, unyielding, crazy hard work. I don't want to ever stop, or even slow down. Thinking like this though has really changed my mission, because it stops being about me immediately. Pretty cool.
One other cool thought this week is how different Chileans are in and outside the chapel, as in members versus non-members. They can be like an entirely different country! Not to say that non members aren't nice, but the gospel can really lead people to be kind and considerate. Point is is that the Gospel brings the very best out of people. It refines whole nations and peoples into their best selves. Pretty amazing. I love the people here so much it's crazy!
I've seen recently how desperate prayers are answered with mountains to climb, but I know I'll look back in gratitude for everything I've learned. I know I can do anything! I know this is the will of the Lord, and the best thing for me despite how hard it might be in the moment. Pray for that family though! I love you all so much and can't wait to read your letters!
Am i supposed to open that Christmas package now or on Christmans?? It got here though!
Oh we also had stake conference -- it was awesome! Super good. Pres and Hna Bluth spoke -- they killed it. I love you all so much and can't wait to talk on Christmas! Has Cassie talked with you all about skyping together? I love you all so much! I'm doing great and I'm happy despite it all! I love you!
Elder Trevor Smith
(photos courtesy Parkins)
Wow this week was absolutely crazy! Ton of changes! I don't really know where to start!
Almost all the zone went to the bus terminal last Tuesday to drop off and recieved our comps. It was sad to see Elder P. go! It's clear to me now how very lucky I was to have him! I don't think anyone works as hard or obeys as well as we did! I miss that a lot! He's doing great though! What I've learned is that i really was trained by him to love to work and obey, and there are a ton of people not like that here.
Elder A. and I are settling in. He's a really good teacher! And a good missionary! It's still an adjustment though. I know that with faith and love and hope I can do it! I know we'll ahve a good 3 more weeks (possibly more) together, so we have a lot to do. I plan on doing everything I can do make it a good 3 weeks, and I know the Lord will consecrate my effort! I realize that me and Elder P. were living a higher standard of work and obedience than most missionaries.
I've grown a ton this week from a ton of different reasons, some of them are challenges. I have a lot more responsibility now that I know the sector and members better. Everyone tells me you grow a ton in your 3rd transfer in the field and I believe it! My teaching, Spanish, and everything has just skyrocketed this week! I feel way better equipped! Of course I'm nothing without the Lord's help too. What I've noticed is that my Spanish is 100x better in a lesson, mostly because I think the spirit is there helping me stronger. Pretty cool to see how through surrendering our will, we see our weaknesses become our strengths. I know that's true! Even Christ is an example of that when He enters Jerusalem the week before His death, and He asks the Father if He will be able to do what's necessary, and a voice descends from heavan telling Him that His efforts will always be consecrated and perfected by the Father's will. Pretty cool. Ive seen that work for me this week as I've asked for help and for confidence. Pretty special.
We've found a miracle too! We found a family! They're like unbelievably good and receptive! It's hard to believe sometimes! We've taught them lesson 1 and the Book of Mormon, and they came to church! A, P, M, and F, who's 6. They are so awesome and nice! They love every single soletary sentance we say -- it's crazy! They are just the best. The only problem is that P's work schedule is crazy and she might not be able to come to church every week! If they come every week from here out, I could baptize them the 12th! They all accepted baptismal dates and are really excited to do it! It's really totally unreal after 12 weeks of doors in our faces! It's crazy! M made a homemade missionary tag that said "Elder M"! It's absolutely unreal! They are so amazing! I think this might be the miracle finally!
Cool to hear from you guys! Love your letters! Cant believe Bev opened Laja -- how cool is that! I so want to go to Lebu it's crazy. I love the pics too!
We are going to have a giant mission wide Christmas conference in a few weeks! That should be fun! Excited for that and to teach this family more. We are kind of changing our strategy of finding because I think it's clear that just hitting doors all day wasn't working. We printed out a list of all the members in the ward and plan on passing by every one! The hard part is finding the line between asking for references and reeactivating, and wasting time with members to get out of knocking doors. Still working on that.
I'm doing good and just learning a ton. A lot about how to rely on the Lord for everything. Loving Chile and the people here a ton! Going to end now sorry if it's a little short! Have a ton of pics to send! I love you all and am loving my time here! Keep writing! I love you all so much!
Wow this letter marks the beginning of my trainerless time on the mission (see title)! To break the news right away I'm staying here in Via OHiggins LA Norte but Elder P is going way to the south, below Temuco! Like the end of the world! He's going to be a district leader and kill it! I'm going to have Elder A as my comp!!!! He's Argententinian and I've heard a lot of really good things and I'm really excited to be with him! My Spanish will improve by leaps and bounds I'm sure! I'm so excited for that! I've heard he's just the friendliest guy ever and really funny to boot! This means that I'm staying here for this transfer for sure, but for whatever reason, this cambio is only 4 weeks long and the one after is 8 weeks long. That means that I could be here 4 weeks with him or 12! 12 would mean a whole 6 months in my tiny little sector hahaha! I'm way excited!
I'm sad to see Elder P go though! I feel like we have become such good friends and he's taught me so much! I think the biggest thing I learned from him was just how to work and never stop ever hahahaah! This last week we said goodbye to a few of our favorite people here in the awesome ward so it ended up being like "the best of Via OHiggins" hahaha including Hna F, Jon S y familia, and a bunch of other awesome people we love! I'm sad to see him go but I think maybe some fresh South American blood here might kick start things and maybe I'll get to see someone get baptized here! (big maybe) New teaching and strategies could maybe give M or P or Z the push they need to start progressing more (or just get in the dang water in Z´s case wow). I'm just really ready for some change mostly because these last 3 weeks have been preeettty dry and comfortable, so some change will be good. We didnt really find anyone this week either but more on that in a sec. I still have high hopes and expectations for my time here and won't waste a day!
So as far as things that happened this week that were significant I can think of like 2. The first was that one day we were contacting and hit a door and someone yelled "come in" in english and we were way surprised! We went in and this lady asked us to practise english with her daughter and the both of them talked in almost perfect english! So the mom is older (60 or something) and the daugther is 20 something. The mom is an english professor so the whole family speaks really well! We practised with the both of them and talked for a while. So weird to do that! The daughter is going to be a teacher as well, so the two of them were like the smartest people ive met here! Way smart! It was so fun to talk to them! We eventually found out they were both members, but stopped going to church after a few months because the mom worked at a Catholic school the daughter went too, and there wasn't a lot of support in that context. We talked to them about the Book of Mormon and answered questions and it was really weird to teach in a mix of English and Spanish! It was really cool and I think with a little time we could get them back to church. They're really cool though! So smart! They're the only people we found though hahaha and they're already members!
The other thing that happened this week was the Galvarino ward missionary activity! Galvarino is our roommates' ward whom with we were originally planning to do a joined activity. We couldn't invite people from our ward but we invited our investigators and the Elders in our house kind of as a last hurrah of our house being together. We spent a few hours on Saturday setting up a movie theatre in the cultural hall of the church and popping GIANT bags of kettlecorn by hand. Way fun! We got about half the room full too so like 30 people, members and nonmembers alike! We watched "Meet the Mormons" which is really good and spiritual, and Z came to see it! I think it could of helped her maybe! It is really good, and after we all bore short testimony of the church and why we do missionary work. It was really cool! Big success, and it felt good to help our friends elder Y and S before Elder S and P leave!
Today was kind of our last pday together as the 4 companionships in LA norte in the city! We are all really good friends and have spent almost every pday together as "el ocho de LAN" and we are sad to see each other go! We are going to give each other all pictures of these last 2 cambios so I'll have a ton to send of us next week! I have a few today though. I love all those guys and they've been great examples to me! I'm also really excited to meet a ton of new people in the zone though!
That was kind of it for this week besides transfers and everything! I was sitting in church and praying during the sacrament and thinking about my mission so far, kind of sad about my lack of success, and my heart was totally filled with feelings of love that I know had to have come from the Holy Ghost. Living the Gospel does not mean all our dreams will come true or that we will always be happy all the time, but I can testify of the feelings of peace that it brings. I know the Lord is pleased with my work. I'm trying to change my attitude from working because I want a baptism, or people to teach because it would make me happy and get me out of the street, but instead because I want to help people and love them, and see the changes in their lives and hearts. It's a long and hard process, but it's a long term goal. I want to change my goal from getting "success" to loving people, and helping them out of the charity I have. I feel like during my training I nailed the work and sacrifice part of the mission, but that I'm still doing it like a robot. I think I lack the heart part sometimes, or at least more than I'd like. I just know how happy I am when I serve people.
That's kind of it! Hopefully it isn't too short! I'm loving my time here, and am always really happy! Keep writing and asking me questions so I have more to write! I love Chile and Los Angeles!
Ok this one is from Laja, not my sector (i wish hahaha). Talked about it a little last week.
Transfer photo courtesy of John Sanhuesa.
This week was kind of dry hahahah I'll try to stretch it out which I am pretty good at hahahahha.
Wow so this coming week is the 12th and last of my training! Next Monday we will know for sure what is happening with transfers but the expected results is that Elder P will go and I'll stay and have a new comp, but it's possible that something else happens. We will see.
So the biggest event of the week was that I did an intercambio to Laja again this week! The last time was like my first week and my comp was sick so I really only got to see the Laja house more than anything hahahah but this time we worked all day! Best part about Laja is that you need to take an hour long bus ride to get there from LA so that means an hour long nap there and back hahaha jk that's not the best part. Kind of. Anyway Laja is a little pueblo where two really big rivers here meet, and it's right in the fork of them both. It's so beautiful! There is also a lake right there too! It looks a lot like California actually, with rolling green hills with tons of flowers and oak trees and there were some pretty awesome views! It was so nice to get out of the city and take a vacation from my sector for a day. It really is so pretty! Hills were a new chalange because our sector is really flat but it was a nice change. I was there with Elder S from Peru for the day but a guy who got here the same time lives in the house too and it was fun to talk and catch up with him that night. I couldn't take a ton of pics because we aren't really supposed to take a ton in order to not look like tourists. Elder S is really good at teaching, really really directly and simply which is something that I totally learned from. We taught some good lessons that day including to one girl who is getting baptized this week! Way fun to talk to her.
After that it was back to the usual grind in Vlla Ohiggins hahahah. This week was pretty much pure street time with pretty few results. Not sure why this week was worse than usual with that but it's ok. Just have to keep chugging and try to enjoy it as much as you can hahaha. We knocked a lot of doors and it was really really hot this week wow. It's ok though. We had a ton of fun most days and tried to enjoy our second to last week together. It's crazy how well you get to know people after 12 weeks 24 hours a day hahaha. We still have a ton of fun. Days on the street are all about attitude and making the most of it. I wish I could tell you about some awesome new people we found buuuuut we didn't really find anyone oops hahaha.
We had some good lessons with M. and P. though! It's sometimes hard to keep the lesson focused but we did pretty well this week. They are starting to actually progress, but still have problems sometimes doing their homework. They're awesome though. P is going to cut my hair today for free hahahah. They came to church again! It was awesome! They brought a friend WHAT that never happens! Also Z's daughter came because she quit her job last week! We had 4 investigators in the church and that is totally a record for us and maybe even the sector! Some of it was luck but I'd like to believe that was our fruits for a long hard week of hitting doors hahahaha! It was so cool and miraculous!
Other than that stuff not a ton happened. We found a really awesome less active lady with a super hilarious precocious daughter who we are sure we can get back to church. She was just totally under the radar and hiding out but we found her hahaha! We gave her daughter a blessing of health too which is pretty cool considering how we had just met her. She is like the nicest ever and got super excited when we told her we would like to do an FHE with her this week! Also she said she would totally come to church this coming Sunday! If we reactivate her this week I think we will feel awesome and like we totally did our part here. It's easy to get down on yourself when youre about to leave a sector without baptizing, but when I got here we had nothing and we really have helped the ward progress as a whole and found some people. We've put our time, work, and faith in so we will see blessings eventually, and the next people here will be blessed too.
I love Elder P and it's been awesome these 12 weeks but I'm also ready for some changes and new responsibilities Even though I'll be the junior comp again I will know the sector and the people better and because of that I'll kind of be in charge. I'm just ready for some changes mostly hahaha especially after a boring week. I'm excited to meet my new comp and see some changes in the zone as sad as I'll be too see some of my best friends leave here. I really do love some of these guys here. I think I've changed a lot already on my mission and am ready for some new challenges to kick start some more development on my part. Still always looking with an eternal perspective!
Dad so one of the sisters I know met Domi Alarcon a while ago! Also Domi is going to Elder Sotomayor's home mission. Do they still live in lebu? It's weird to hear about how it's possible I could walk in a house and see you skyping with your Chilean buddies hahaha not really. Loved the interfaith prayer story about your work buddy. That stuff happens a lot here, including when Elder S gave a blessing to a lady with different traditions and who was kind of yelling amen and "si Señor" during the prayer hahahaha pretty sweet and funny at the same time.
Ok Macy you had some questions here it goes really fast!!!
It gets cooler at night but not for long. Still way hot during the day.
I wake up at 7am and go to bed at 11pm
We eat a lot of soup and chicken and rice
I cook cereal haha and ham and cheese sandwhiches
best cereal is like a combo of coco puffs and frosted flakes but not as delicious as either of those.
Ether 12:4 is probably the best scrip for me.
I'm doing great! Sorry if this email is so so! I love you all a ton and keep writing of course! I love questions too!
My goal i set when i left the MTC was to never waste a day of my mission, and it is still so true! I never want to waste one day.
Love you all!
Photo credit: Thanks to Elder P!
This week was kind of uneventful,so I'll try to stretch it out, but I think we all know I never have a problem talking a lot hahahahahah. All of you guys sound so great! Please keep writing me a ton. I love it! More the better!
MACY THE SNOW QUEEN what the heck right when I leave -- not fair hahahah. I wish I could see it! Also girls camp sounds way fun! Mom, it sounds horrible for Jake. Wow that's super rough! its good your class is getting better slowly hahahaha. Wish I could have heard all the farewell talks too. That sounds way fun. I love thinking about how we are all serving together at the same time. It's such a cool thought. When you think of all the missionaries in the world, you realize you have a really cool team. Dad work sounds hard! I told Elder B. you read his emails and he was flattered hahahaha. He and Elder A. are some of my best friends and examples here on the mission. It actually wasn't that hot this week because there was a lot of wind which was really nice. Now it's hot again hahahaha but I think it's supposed to rain this week again.
So this week started off kind of rough because we pretty much only had J. as a hope of someone who really was going to progress this week, and then she canceled on us last minute! She was the only cita we had that day and we had been contacting for 3 hours and because when she bailed we had 3 hours more to go! She told us she wouldn't have time all week! She really is busy with work so I dont blame her, but still we were really discouraged. I felt pretty sick of my sector at that moment and pretty dang tired, but we kept on chugging and knocking doors like we always do. I remembered what I've learned and been taught that the last little bit we can do is the most important. I can really testify of that now because of my mission. Every time I've been at my very lowest the Lord has sent me a really big miracle. When J. canceled, I was wondering if I was really giving it my all and doing my part and if I was making a difference in the lives of people here and was kind of bummed. Then we decided to go over to a less active member's house and she let us in right away. She was super sad because her boyfriend of 5 years and father of her 2 year old broke up with her that day. She said she was just barely thinking about how she didnt have the will to keep going when we showed up. We shared something short with her about our testimonies and told her that we are always there for her. Then after I gave her a blessing of comfort. It was so special, and made me remember that just because I don't see it or because we don't have as much "success" as other sectors, we are still being rewarded and blessed for our work, our obedience, and our faith. That blessing for me was almost as special as I imagine a baptism would be.
The very next day we had absolutely nothing, as often happens here hahahaha so it was looking like a full on day of only contacting. We started and the first street we knocked a 21 year old girl who lives with her parents, husband (shes actually married wooo!!!), and son let us in! We only talked with her but she is so awesome! She understood really well which doesnt happen very often and was really receptive and interested! We challenged her to baptism and she accepted willingly! The best part is that we found her again later this week and answered a bunch of her questions and got to know her better. She is way cool! She was out of town for day of the dead so couldn't come to church but is coming this week! We have a lesson with her tomorrow but I'm going to miss it for an intercambio booooo. We picked out some really good fellowship for her too. I really think she could be the miracle baptism of my time here. She's kind of my last hopeish. Who knows! She's really great though.
We had interviews with the president which was fun! He and Hma Bluth are really dang awesome! I was able to tell him about how much I'm loving it here and about how much ive learned. I think he knows this sector is pretty rough so he was sympethetic about it. He asked me how many lessons a week we have and i said "5" and he told me the goal church wide for every comanionship is 20! I had no idea hahaha I said I would love to have that every week hahahah. It was really cool and spiritual though. Hma Bluth made chocolate chip cookies wow they were good. It was good but the whole process kind of killed our whole day which was a bummer. This week went dang fast though.
Our mission is really focused on numbers. It's kind of sad. There are a ton of wards here that have like less then 30 percent of their baptized members active. [It's really 12-15%.] It's really a big bummer becasue the leadership of the mission pushes numbers really hard. That's one reason I love Elder Boyer and A is because while they are leaders here they are still so Christlike and loving, and really don't push numbers at us. I love those guys.
Ok one more miracle. We were kind of losing hope for M and P but this week on last Friday they told us they were totally coming to church for sure out of nowhere! Thanks for your prayers I think that did it! M told us about a ton of blessings theyve seen since weve started teaching them. Way cool. I still worry that they do stuff just because they like us. Hopefully not. Important thing is that they came to church woooo! Another not so good thing is that the gospel principles lesson was on the gathering of Israel which I barely understand -- what the heck. They didn't make it to sacrament but next week hopefully! They stil have a way to go.
I'm really trying to increase in my love for the people here because I've noticed a lot of missionaries here lack that. It's just hard when you don't have a lot of people to love and the vast majority are less than nice to you. I'm really interested in learning how to have more charity in general. Send me some tips. That was my fast too.
We kind of had a let down this Sunday with our ward leadership because we've been planning this awesome activity to invite everyone to come and meet, including members and non-members with the missionaries in our house, so kind of like a double ward missionary night. We had everything figured out before Sunday including posters and flyers printed out and when we changed one detail, it got shut down. It was really really frustrating because we were told we were the ones that had to do everything to organize it, which we were happy to do, but then our idea got killed. We still don't have a ward mission leader to work with us either. It's frustrating when all we have to show in our form of progressing investigators is like one name on it every week. I love our bishop and sustain him, but this week was rough. I guess what I would say is that never ever assume that the missionaries in your ward aren't working or something. I dunno. Just help them out they need it. They literally are working full time walking a ton everyday to help your ward.
Sorry to whine a little bit. I don't know if I have a ton more. WE made chorizo sandwhiches for halloween it was fun! We went to salta de laja again which was awesome again! It was a really fast but good week! Only have two more with elder p most likely! Im doing good and loving it! Love you guys.
Love from chile,
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.