Ok hi all,
Ok this week was kind of uneventful sorry! It was very average but good.
I'ts mostly getting very warm here. The wind is constant and pretty nice so it's not that bad. Summer is nice in Chile when youre by the coast so thats good. Our house stays pretty cool too and the clothes dry really fast with so much sun so thats a nice little blessing.
Well this week was mostly trying to hunt down our investigators who where kind of randomly hard to find this week. We kind of had a hard time bringing members to meet them too but it all turned out ok. Our coolest investigator thats really progressing right now is MC. She is like 60 and really funny and smart. She loves church but doesn't like all the rowdy kids. It's kind of hard to know what to say to her about that because honestly they bother us too hahaha jk. It's been cool to see how fast she has been progressing from just keeping her committments and having a real desire to learn. She is already recognizing the presence of the spirit in her life bigtime too so thats been really cool. She says a lot that she wants to change for the better and that her biggest vice is having a sailor mouth hahaha a problem thats not that hard to repent for I think hahaha. She loves how our church has a focus on learning and not just giant rock concerts, and has already felt that she leaves church feeling more full than she was before and not empty like She has in other contexts. Pretty cool stuff. We are working with her daughter too but she hasn't come to church yet and progresses a little slow but we will get her.
We are also teaching J who I think I mentioned before. She really likes to listen and shows a ton of interest but it's been hard for her to keep her invitations so the difference between her progress and M's has been stark. We had a lesson on Alma 32 and ithink it helped. She has a 9 year old son with downs syndrome who is really awesome and funny so we really want to be able to help them more. We will see what happens this week. I hope she can find the time and will to read and stuff.
One really cool thing that happened last week was an activity in the church for the mission work. The crazy thing about it was that this super cool priest age kid in the ward planned it and did everything for his duty to god award and we did like almost nothing! He just asked us to share a message and a game witht the other Elders and thats it. We invited M and J and they totally surprised us and both came! I think they liked it and the members did a great job of saying hi and talking to them. The absolutely insane thing is that like 60 people in the ward came to the activity!!! to put that in perspective thats 3 times as many people than in a sacrament meeting in Puren on a good day hahaha. It was absolutely full!
It was really cool to see and a couple of families even brought friends so we got a couple good references too! It was crazy. I think a lot of it has to do with how we have been really striving to forge a relationship with the members here and I think that's why it had such a great turnout. We just need to focus in now on setting up family home evenings with there nonmember friends and stuff. It's been kind of a new planning struggle for us with this member stuff because theyre all very busy here and we don't want to be a burden for them. We are still refining the system. One kind of funny thing is that we talked to the assistants to the president about what we have been doing and they pretty much adopted it all for our leadership meeting in Conce tomorrow with all the zone leaders in the mission so I'll be interested to see how they apply it all to the whole mission etc. It's going to be way cool.
Finding people this week was kind of rough again which is mind boggling to me because i feel like there has been like no pattern here about our success in that field. We were getting pretty frustrated with the people here towards the end of the week. I think God wants me to learn patience and to trust Him better with what happens to me and not just to think that my success only depends on factors I can control. I think I'm supposed to be learning to trust that He can perform miracles if I can believe in Him more. I think a lot of times I'm my worst enemy with that kind of stuff. Faith is a really complicated subject for me and I feel like I still don't fully understand it at this point on my mission and I need to study it more.
I can't believe that this cambio is coming to an end this week. It went by so fast it's crazy. I really really really hope that for once in my mission nothing will happen to us this cambio and that we will both stay here in the same sector like nothing ever happened because I've had a new comp every cambio now except for elder parkin. I will be sad to see a lot of zone friends here leave for other parts after being with them so long. It's crazy how much one can grow to love people from serving them. It will be especially sad to see elder cheney go even though he's got a great rest of the mission ahead of him.
Ok I'm sorry if this letter is boring. I feel like the days now go by in the blink of an eye they're so fast. I think I'm so deep into this now that it just feels like this has always been my life. This cambio has been just kind of bliss so I'm trying to push myself to grow.
Skype call is coming. How crazy is that. Christmas is a crazy time in the mission with lots of conferences and activities etc. I guess a Seventy is coming to our mission too so that will be cool. The new Christmas video is awesome if you haven't seen it yet! mormon.org It's so cool we show it to everyone we talk to.
Ok I love you and it sounds like you are all very happy and having tons of fun. Thursday we actually forgot it was Thanksgiving until nighttime and it was kind of too late to do anything oops whatever.
Elder Trevor Smith
Ok this week was a lot better and honestly I have no idea why it was such a dramatic change. We found tons of people for no reason at all and taught a ton of lessons too. It was awesome. I think part of it was that we started to try new ways of finding people like I mentioned last week and the weird part was that we didn't even find our new investigators in those ways but just kind of stumbled into them.
We started with our member plan and it's been working well although we still haven't harvested a bunch of fruits but they will come with time. It's been cool to see how we have been guided to a bunch of members in need right in time. The members here are so numerous and so good too it's awesome. We have seen a lot of service opportunities for them open up to out of nowhere. We have some good references cooking up for sure too. I think the ward is starting to trust us a lot more too as we visit them and it's awesome to do during the less effective hours of the day just for a half hour at a time.
We also started an English class up becasue there is a lot of students living here in this area so we are hoping to see a good turn out with that. We made and put up a good amount of posters too so that has been cool and fun. We will see how it goes!
We did an intercambio with the APs this week which was fun. I worked with Elder Rasmussen in their sector and we had some really cool lessons and a good time. Him and his comp are from my zone too so I try and make the effort to minister to and serve them because I do not covet their job at all and its hard. I think he really appreciated it and I let him know I wasn't just trying to kiss up either hahaha. I hope I could help him there. The next day we did an intercambio with our housemates to meet their investigators and help out with some that werent progressing and that was really fun too. They are teaching some awesome people and I think having a new face in the lessons too helped them start progressing a little more and the two main ones I talked to came to church this week too! It was awesome. It got me really stoked to know that there are such cool people in my sector that we haven't found yet. I really love Elder Cheney and Meiling! Elder Cheney is a very talented singer too as you heard.
It has been getting very very hot here. The good thing is that unlike last summer in LA there is a really good coastal breeze here that is pretty constant. That keeps it very bareable.
We helped a lady make pan amasado (homemade bread) and it was really fun! We had walked by here little stand on the road a bunch of times and said hi but this time we stopped and talked to her and she invited us the next day to do a service project there and help here make the bread! It was really fun! The bummer is that she did like every step of the process kind of by touch and feel after like 40 years of experience so I don't feel like I could replicate the process at all. It was very delicious though. We took pictures but I'm tired of losing all of my pictures by plugging my card in and getting viruses so I'm working on a way around that problem so you will just have to wait sorry.
One cool investigator we have right now is Marta. We had a short lesson with her early on in the week and she said she wanted to come to church without us even really giving her a hard invite. We were like hahaha ya right and then she totally surprised us and showed up Sunday morning! It was so cool! She kind of opened up in the principles of the gospel class and told everyone she really wants to change so I think she is pretty interested! She is a really funny kind of loud old lady but really really smart. I'm excited to teach her.
The other notable person we have been teaching is Kiara. While Elder Oxb. was on intercambio with Elder Meiling they found her and her friend (her dad was there too don't worry) and shared a short message but the funny part was that Kiara and her friend are like freshman in highschool and kind of punk types so I was pretty doubtfull that night when they told me about it and I made fun of them telling them they probably weren't interested in the message and only in their blondness but I totally ate my words the next lesson we had with her her friend and a priest age highschooler from our ward. K. said she was coming to church and she walked like an hour walk to come and showed up for the third hour. She wears kind of dark clothes and has some serious piercings so we were kind of worried that the young women weren't going to recieve her well but we told them she was coming and when she got there they just buzzed right over and sheparded her over to their class hahahaah. She looked pretty overwhelmed and nervouse like "what where are they taking me who are these bubbly people" but by the end she looked like totally a part of the group! It was so cool. I learned that every soul is great in the eyes of God!
I've been thinking a lot this week about what pure intent and a pure heart is. This whole cambia I've been studying how to teach "people not lessons" as it says in Preach My Gospel and it really has changed the way I teach and see the mission. A lot of it is about doing things with sincerity and a true intention to help the people, not just getting them to do what we want them to through indoctrination or argument or whatever. It's been cool because to be able to explain to a stranger how any one of the principles we teach is important to them, we need to first understand why it is important to us and how it has blessed us first. To be able to do that we need to apply that principle to our own lives to have a true testimony of it. Christ explains it by saying that if we try his words the fruits in our lives will be a testimony of their truthfulness. As I've been really really focusing on the people I've been teaching and not what I'm saying I've seen a lot of awesome changes in our lessons. First and formost as the people see why this can bless them the lessons become much more spiritually powerful. The lessons have become more of conversations now too and less of a school class like borefest. I've noticed that people pay more attention to what we say as we listen to them, and tend to understand the message more as we try our best to understand them and their situations. I feel like im a much more effective teacher now as I focus on them and not as much on me. I want to keep studying it and keep practising.
If we do not have pure intentions as missionaries our position has no power. I try my best with every person I talk to to be able to think and talk about how our message can bless them specifically. I think a lot of misisonaries think our job is to prove that we are right or something but the right angle is to really try and change peoples lives for the better. As I focus on that I like my job more and feel more honest. I guess in one word what I'm trying to explain is charity. I need to study charity more.
Ok I'm doing great and loving it here as crazy hot as it is! I dont want this cambio to end in two weeks! Hopefully all stays the same. We had a zone activity today to celebrate Thanksgiving (although I'm not sure you've all already celebrated it or if it comes this week) and had a turkey bowl and ate turkey sandwhiches hahaaha it was fun. I love you all a ton and we will be talking soon for Chrimbus.
Elder Trevor Smith
Problem is it was kind of a boring week. Thinking about just sending voice recordings let me know what you think about that.
Ok so the eventful things about this week was that we had just a normal zone training day that me and Elder Oxy Clean put on with the help with the hermana trainers and a district leader and that went well. We planned it really well ahead of time and kept it short and sweet so it was cool. The hermanas really killed it with a lesson on teaching the sabbath day holy (there's some sweet new Mormon messages out about that check em out). We planned together with our roommates a skit about how a missionary planning session is similar to the experience of the brother of Jared and the rocks and it was funny and different and I think we got our point across well too. President and Hna May surprised us and came too but I think they liked it all. It was cool and there was a really good spirit there too. We are improving a ton as a zone and we are going to have some baptisms soon here and pretty well spread across the zone.
The funny thing was that Friday we had a zone conference put on by the mission office including president and hna may again but this time it was done together with the zones from Lebu and Coronel. It was really fun to see some old friends from those zones, especially Lebu. Elder Molina from Puren was there so it was great to see him. Pres May must have liked our skit becuase he asked us to do it again for the other two zones that Friday but I guess our zone just had to sit through it again. It was fun and really spiritual. It was all really focused on Christ and choosing the right because of being converted to Christ, not for glory or whatever dumb reason a missionary might have. We read and talked about Helaman chapter 5 which is a killer missionary scripture. Then we ate a super delicious lunch all together -- it was way fun.
As far as our sector goes both companionships here in Lagonillas have kind of hit a total wall and we don't know why. It's really weird because we feel like we are working better and harder than before but we ended up with a kind of crappy week with very few lessons and new investigators and we are not sure why. I think it could be a lot of things but some of my ideas are the following: 1) The Lord is trying our patience 2) the Lord wants us to change how we work 3) it was just a bad week for no reason specifically.
I kind of believe in reason 2 the most because honestly contacting so much this week was super lame. The whole thing made me and Elder Oxenfree think about how we find new people to teach in this mission and we talked about it a lot as we knocked tons and tons of empty doors. We studied the Preach My Gospel chapter about it too and we realized that our mission has a pretty dumb culture of thinking that door knocking is the only honorable way to find hahaah. The interesting thing is that PMG pretty much only mentions tracting like that as like a last resort side note. I think that in our mission it works just BARELY enough to be considered not a waste of time and I think thats the problem we have. Thinking about the biggest problems I and others have had in our mission about getting baptisms and edifying the church has been simply that we don't have anyone to teach and have a really hard time finding them. I think it's because we dont follow PMG very well on that.
So after coming to that kind of awakening and eye opening conclusion as a house we put together a crazy good plan on how to get references from the awesome and numerous members here. It will be a few weeks before we see the results but we have faith that it will turn out. A big part of the plan is avoiding just showing up and asking these people we barely know to give us people to teach, but instead getting to know them and then serving them and THEN training them on how to do missionary work. The idea is that after all of that "buttering-up" (or "chaomullo" for all the Chileans out there) the members will want to work with us and trust us enough to allow us to teach their family and friends. I really hope it works. If it does we will implement it to the whole zone and if that works it might get extended out as a common practice in the whole misison. I would love that to be my legacy here. The end of door knocking.
Honestly other than that, the week was just a lot of walking around. It wasn't that bad though mostly due to Elder Oxbirdie being like the best comp ever. He is so killer. He has really pushed me harder than i was already going. I love it. We are always on the same page. My only fear is that they will have to call a new AP in our mission this cambio almost for sure and I'm fairly certain it might be my comp which would be a total bummer. We had a great time this week.
We did another asado today with the left over charcoal we had as well and it was awesome. Surprisingly cheap too. I think next week we are giong to try and do a Thanksgiving themed zone activity too so I'll let you know how that goes.
Saturday we helped one sector here out because their ward mission leader had planned this caroling activity with the whole zone but the whole thing lacked a bit of organization and it was really crazy hot there. O well. It was fun to sing for a while.
We did have a cool miracle on Sunday and this random couple we had never seen or heard of walked into sacrament meeting! Turns out the husband is a member but the wife no ($$$) so we will be teaching them hopefully this week. That was a nice tender mercy.
Ok this week was good even though we didnt achieve much honestly. I love the mission on even the most boring days. Thinking about it me and Elder Oxbunny decided that we really really dont want to go home. Speaking of that everyone keeps reminding me how much time I've been here and everyone has been saying a different wrong and too big number so let's just clear it up now: tomorrow I iwill complete 16 months here meaning that I barely fininshed the two-thirds mark so I have TOOOOONNNNS of time left ok?!?! hahahah
Ok i think this is kind of it. Love hearing from you all. Stay healthy and safe. I'll do better on pics this week but heres a recording of me and Elder Cheney singing a song in Spanish for this week.
Elder Trevor Smith
Ok so I'm way short on time sorry!
This week was honestly pretty uneventful compared to the last but some interesting things happened I guess.
We are still teaching the people we have found and finding some more but the main problem we have is that people here tend to work a TON so they are really hard to find again. That's been our main struggle. I think this week we will be able to get a steady schedule of lessons hopefully.
J.E. and his girlfriend V. read 18 chapters of the Book of Mormon in 5 days -- it was fantastic. They are very very cool and are very interested but are busy and will have to get married. All is posible though., They seem like they are pretty sure all of this is true now.
I'm healthy dont worry!
We had a council of liders here in Conce with thte whole mission again and it was cool. We are going to have a new focus as a mission to find families which is really cool and will help a lot here. It will strengthen the church in a real and sustainable way instead of us just picking up single people here and there. It was kind of cool too because me and Elder Oxborrow shared some of our ideas for our zone w the aps and then in consejo they pretty much just applied our ideas to the entire mission hahaha so that was cool to see. They gave us some credit which was nice , but honestly the stuff we do with the zone all comes from revelation anyway so at the end they aren't even our ideas.
I went back to Boca Sur for and intercambio which was fun! I felt at home there in the ghetto hahaha jk. It was a good day and a fun change, although I'm really glad I'm where I am now here in Lagonillas.
We had stake conference Sunday which was honestly kind of a bummer because the stake center is like an hour away in bus. We weren't able to get any investigators there in part for that reason. Time is ticking and we really want to help someone get baptized this cambio! Conference was very good and all about families which was really cool.
I'm doing great and sorry I can't share more details this time! I promise I'll do better next week! I love you all and love the mission.
As far as spiritual thinking I've been learning a lot this week about the power of prayer. I think a lot of time as people we get kind of obsessive compulsive about our prayers and think we have to include everything we have to say but in the end the prayers just kind of lose their spirituality when we pray like that. The Lord's Prayer is a great example Christ gives us and the most notable thing about it is that its very short weridly enough. I'm trying to make my prayers more spiritually focussed.
Ok this is kind of it for this week but I'm really excited for this coming week we have a lot of stuff going on! It's getting really really warm here now and I will get tan (I put on sunscreen no worries).
ok love you all thanks for the letters!
Elder Trevor Smith
Ok so it was an eventful week here in Lagonillas but first congrats Christian and Daniela I'm bummed I couldn't be there! Send more pics please!
Ok first off my comp Elder Oxborrow is totally awesome! He definitely is challenging me to do better in like every way and we are just absolutely loving our time together here in Lagonillas and we are totally killing it! I love that guy. It's like we are on the same page always with all the same things. It's crazy that only after a week we are teaching in union already and having a great time. I hope we stay like we are for a buen rato haahahah. He is awesome and loves motorcross and hunting (hick). He came from 6 months in a totally crappy sector so we are way excited now to be in miracleland (Lagonillas)
Ok so we did whitewash this week! Totally an adventure. I think our sector is the biggest one in the mission but its surprisingly easy to get around so we haven't gotten lost really. The cool thing about whitewash is that planning and working is pretty simple. It's been cool to have to learn to rely on revelation even more than normal and we have seen fruits from that too.
We did start out the week with a little opposition though. So I forgot to mention that like 3 weeks ago I noticed a weird mark on my leg that I just left alone but starting like a week an a half ago it started to get all red and hurty but I put it off thinking that I was just being a hypochondriac. I was passing through the mission office and Ithought heck whatever so I showed it to the mission nurse and she told me I had to go to the doctor right away whoops hahaha. Turns out it was some kind of spider that bit me and the bite got infected so I had to be on a ton of antibiotics etc blah blah the whole thing was dumb and in the end I didn't even get super powers. I think the antibiotics lowered my defenses though because by last Monday I started to feel really gross and by Tuesday I was in full on flu symptoms with a lot of "baño" consequences so to speak. For that reason for the first two days we couldn't work quite as effectively as we would have wanted too but despite that we still discovered how special our sector is!
Lagonillas is miracleland. Everyone is so nice here and so smart and they all have families. The ward is fantastic too with tons of support. We are still contacting a lot because of the whole whitewash thing but we are absolutely loving the results we are seeing. We have found a cool group of newer investigators of all types and its been great.
Like I said we have been trying really hard to follow revelation and have had a few cool experiences with that. On Wednesday we found a guy in his house who had recently lost his job and he told us that that morning he had prayed for the first time in years and had asked for help and we showed up a few hours later. Classic. We will see where that goes.
The craziest miracle we had was friday I think. We chose a kind of rich neigborhood that's really far away to contact and went for it but at first it was totally fruitless. About an hour in we see this lady in the street signal us to come over and we were like oh no she is going to be angry at us for some reason. We went over and she told us that she and her husband are members from valdivia visiting family and that they had two family references for us! WHAT. It was absolutely crazy that we just "happened" to cross paths. We have taught both of the families with that same couple (angels) and they are both awesome. ONe of the familes was about to be baptized but moved and the missionaries never found there house!!!! WHAT?!?! they pretty much already just want to get baptized. THe dad is a little bit of a hueso duro so to speak but he will soften up with more teaching and with reading assignments from BoM so we are so jazzed about that! ITs been crazy over here. The dad is named christian (haha) and the mom is named Ruth so pray for them please!
OUr house is awesome too i live with elder meiling and cheney who are two of my best friends in the mission by now. Cheney is from vancouver washington and i was wondering if that was in christians mission or not let me know. we have had just way too much fun in the house though and they have been a great help to us during all this whitewash buisness.
We have been focusing a ton on BoM this week and it is so key. It has helped us really sharpen our teaching and making it really powerful nd simple so its been really cool. It is such a powerful book!
Some spiritual revelation ive had this week has been about that spiritual things should be spiritual things for us. That sounds profound i know hahaha. Point im trying to make is that i think that we as members missionaries and investigators take things out of a spiritual focus and put them in other focuses. For example maybe ive been trying to make my spripture study too intelectual instead of spiritual or a member will make church attendance a social thing instead of a spiritual thing. When we do that we lose the spiritual blessings that are at our dispense. I want to get better at that this week.
Ok sorry i couldnt write too much because i was checking out those pictures. Im loving it here and hope i stay here for a long time!!! I will send pics.
For haloween we did what we called "trick or meat" where we ate a half kilo of barbacued meet each and it was a success :].
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.