May 3, 2016 (Week 99) Last One

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

My companion and I were pruning a hedge for a member. Needless to say, lots of twigs and leaves were thrown at poor Elder Alcantara.

We had a good week.  We found some new people to teach and had several lessons, and had good participation with members.  We have been passing around in the different priesthood groups a schedule of the week with hourly slots for members to book their own time to go out with us.  Last week, they had all of our nights booked out, but this week they didn’t do so well.  Oh well. Something is better than nothing.

Rina is progressing really well.  Sometimes, people are just ready to be baptized.  She has almost completely quit smoking (admittedly due to health problems, but hey, the effect is the same), and she doesn’t seem to have any challenge that would impede her from baptism.  We have taught her the majority of the mission lessons and have brought a different member to almost every lesson that we have had with her.  We have a long time until she will reach her baptismal date, so we are taking our time and helping her have a good, profound progression.  She knows almost all of the members of the ward council that she would need to know, and she is doing well on her reading of the Book of Mormon.  Our goal is that, before getting baptized on the 4th of June, that she can basically be acting as though she were already a member of the church.

For my last district meeting, I taught about the sacrament.  In our zone council meeting that we had a week ago, we agreed as district leaders to teach our districts how to apply the missionary vision of the church, which is called “preach repentance and baptize converts”, to the individual in our goal to endure to the end.  In my class, I went over our need to keep our convenant with the district, and then I taught them something that president had taught me a while ago:

When the Saviour comes again, he will present himself, as he did with the Nephites, with the marks of his crucifixion, especially his hands.  His hands are a way for us to have a connection with him and feel what he did for us.  When we take the sacrament, we can have a similar experience looking at our own hands.  When we look at our hands while taking the sacrament, we can imagine the Saviour’s pierced and mangled hands, and think about how we used our hands during the week.  Did we do good?  Bad?  With these same hands, we are going to reach out and take the sacrament bread and water.  Are they clean and ready to do this?  Or are they still dirty and we need to repent before we participate?

I have been doing this exercise for 3 months, and it has completely changed the way that I take the sacrament.  I thought it would be appropriate to share with them.

To finish, I thought it fitting to share my testimony.  I don’t think that I have done this my whole mission.  I know that I am a son of a God.  We all are.  I know that this God loves me, and wants the best for me.  I know that Jesus Christ lives.  I know that he is my Saviour and Redeemer, and that he willingly and literally lowered himself from his throne to save me from all of the wrong of this word, including myself.  I know that He made it possible that we someday might return to our Father and be exalted, as He has been exalted.  I know that he has re-established on the Earth a church which, thanks to Prophets and Apostles, Priesthood and Revelation, opens the way for us to participate in what the Lord did for us.  I know that what I have been doing for the last 2 years was the best use of my time that I could have done at this time, and I will never regret going.

Love you all.  See you soon.

Elder Connor Mathewson

Advertisements

April 26, 2016 (Week 98)

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Got to Cataldo once more (the guy who does the suits). He said that I have gotten fatter. Drat. Too many meals late at night, I think.

I have a ghost story to tell.  We were eating at the house of some members late one night, and when we finished, they asked us to do them the favour of blessing the house.  I don’t know if the husband did not feel worthy, but they asked me to do it.  As I was saying the prayer, I felt prompted to pray specifically that the house would be protected from any source of evil, seen or un-seen.  I also felt prompted to specifically mention that the blessing was being done under the authority of the Melchizedek priesthood, which I hold.  After making this proclamation, all 4 of us felt something change in the atmosphere of the room.  We stood up and left the house to leave, and suddenly the alarm that the family has outside of their house started making a squelching groan that lasted a few minutes and then went off like normal.  As we got in the members car to go home, I jokingly mentioned that I had either done the blessing too well or not well enough.  My companion asked the man why he had asked for the blessing, and he told us that recently, they have been hearing footsteps and voices in their house, which had been making their wife very nervous.  I noticed as we drove away that they live within 200 meters of one of the two prominent cemeteries that are in our ward.

Other than that, nothing too memorable has happened.  We found a less active family that has a son that is the age of baptism through some members.  The mother and her two oldest children should be going to mutual this Thursday, and the son expressed a great deal of enthusiasm to be baptized.  We also did some splits with members, also in great part planned by the members.  We are very happy that this aspect of the missionary work here in this ward is improving.  It makes everything so much more possible.

Love you all.  I hope that you have a good week.

Elder Mathewson

April 19 (Week 97)

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

We went up to one of the highest points in our area looking for a referral from the general offices of the church. I have been having knee problems which have only recently cleared up a little, and that raise sure hurt. I was still pretty happy to get my head above the smog.

This week was incredibly rainy.  Ironically, that meant that the city shut off the water for 2 days.  What happened was that the rain fell heavily at a high altitude, causing the water that came off the mountain to be full of mud and debris.  It left the main river here is Santiago, named the Mapocho, very dirty, and the water treatment plants couldn’t handle it.  They cut the water in 27 communities in Santiago.  We were luckily in the house at the time, so we gathered up as many old soda bottles as we could and filled them up.  What made matters worse was that the day before, we also ran out of gas.  I had to buy it (that seems to happen a lot), but when the guy came with his big noisy truck, he gave us our 45 L tank and didn’t plug it in.  Over the next few days, we tried to call the company and tell them to get back to our house and plug it in, but they never came.  In the meantime, we did the best that we could to live out of our bottles and our water boiler (one of those kitchen appliances that can boil about 1.5 L of water at a time).  For the second time in my mission, I had to give myself a sponge bath.  Right before church, too.  Luckily (if I can call it that), church only lasted 1 hour due to the streets flooding and the lack of water in the chapel, and nobody had to suffer the smell of dirty Elder Mathewson too long.  We finally got a member to come over and fix out gas line for us, and yesterday early in the morning they turned the water back on.  We are back to normal again now.

Other than that, it has been pretty uneventful lately.  We have been struggling to find new people to teach, in part due to the weather change.  We have some other ideas of how we are going to do it.  We hope to focus more on working with members, especially with referrals and the Ward Action list.  Referrals are the leading cause of baptisms, so we are trying to improve how we go about doing them.

When we ask for a referrals from members, we now explain that we are not necesarily looking for their friend or relative (althought that would be ideal) but whoever the Lord has prepared.  We then do a prayer with them, asking them to focus on whatever face or name that comes into their head.  We then take out our daily planners and set a time and a day to go by with the members to that person so that they can introduce us to them.  Until now, it has been a very successful approach to missionary work, although generally they give us a referral to their less active friend.  When that happens, we go with them to their less active friend and ask for a referral from them!

When we ask referrals from less-actives, we treat them as though they were new investigators.  Or in other words, we focus on the most basic that we have, which is the restoration of the gospel, specifically the first vision.  So, we teach them that.  The goal is to remind them how they felt when they heard those things for the first time and help them feel the spirit, so that, just when they are feeling the spirit, we ask them who they know that we can visit.  It is almost humorous how a careless, or at times angry, less active suddenly becomes a chest-pounding defender of the faith when we teach them this, and commits themselves not only to come with us on a visit, but to also read the scriptures, say their prayers and go to church.

These ideas are not mine.  They came from a world-wide transmitted training meeting that we had a new months ago with Elder Bednar and various seventies and general authorities.

I have been very focused on getting my companion ready to be some kind of leader.  I have no idea if he will ever be anything more than senior comp, but I am treating him like he is the future assistant to the president.  To achieve this, I am trying to make him grow up to the responsibility, so I am giving him little tasks every once in a while and am focusing on helping him learn the teaching tools that he needs to be a good leader, especially being an example.  For example, the other day, I got him to call the district to give a few announcements.  And yesterday, I asked him to direct my district meeting for me.  The other missionaries have commented that they have noticed a positive difference in him this transfer cycle.  I think that I have also noticed that he is growing.

Love you all.

Elder Mathewson

April 12, 2016 (Week 96)

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

I drew this for the missionaries from my group in the MTC. The idea originally was to do a shirt together before going home, but we decided to take the image and do our own when we get home. I’ll probably put it on a hoodie or something.

Nothing happened this week.  We walked a ton, but there wasn’t anybody that received us.  This might have been due, in part, to the change of weather, as we are starting into fall.  The days are starting to get colder, and the people, grumpier.  Also, I think that we could have worked harder.  We noticed at the end of the week that we hadn’t done any lessons in the street, which is something that is normally done to be able to do something.

The focus this transfer cycle is simplifying, in every sense of the word.  We missionaries complicate things.  We say strange words that nobody, not even we, know the meaning of; we add expectations onto our already long to-do list; we try to teach something more than what is in PmG, thinking that it is to the person’s “need”.  So, we are going to work on cutting all of that out are focus on the basics, just as the master did.  We did our planning for the district, as I like to do, and then we worked on thinking of simpler ways of saying words like “Gospel”, “Sin” and “Apostasy”, with practices where we focussed on not saying the normal word.

We had stake conference last Sunday, and we were visited by a seventy from Argentina.  I do not know his name, because he was of Italian descent and I didn’t know how to spell it, but I thoroughly enjoyed what he taught.  The adult session was almost entirely aimed at self-sufficiency, which left me with the question, “Why do they keep saying that going to church and the temple is necessary to be temporally self-sufficient?” and almost immediately, the seventy stood up and satisfied my doubt.  He explained that one can not be temporally self-sufficient without being first spiritually self-sufficient because one can not take good economic decisions without being guided by the spirit.  How can we know when to buy, when to sell, and when to save?  When God tells us to, obviously.  The general session was about preparedness, and I learned about the parable of the 10 virgins.  I do not know if my interpretation is correct, but what I felt that I learned taught an interesting lesson.  In the parable, the seventy said the the 10 virgins are members.  All of them have lamps, which are testimonies, but only 5 of them have been putting in, drop by drop, converting oil by keeping the covenants that they have made and diligently living the gospel.  Comes the night, and the “virgins” die, until they are “awakened” in the resurrection and the coming of the “groom”.  The 5 that are converted have what is required to walk through the doors, but the other 5 have not kept their covenants and can not participate.  What would the doors be, then?  The doors of the temple.  Interesting, how the virgins were awakened for the wedding of the groom.  Like, I said, I may or may not be teaching true doctrine, but I was taught why it is important to not procrastinate in making and keeping covenants, especially those that are done in the temple.

Love you all.

Elder Mathewson

April 5, 2016 (Week 95)

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Me, Elder Arrua, Elder Young and Elder Hulet, with whom I lived, back when I was in Puente Alto.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Today, we did a little bar-b-que and played futbol to say goodbye to some of the friends that we have made during our missions. Unfortunately, it rained for the first time in forever, and much meat was lost. The first one is Elder Turner (can’t believe how much weight he was lost…)

It was a somewhat slow week.  I am surprised by the amount of work that it takes to put together two proselyting areas.  Cleaning up the area book has been a big task, as we had to put them together and, in doing so, found a lot of stuff that needed to be thrown away.  We have been purging the area of all the “investigators” that the missionaries have been visiting since the dawn of man and have never progressed.  “We found them street contacting.  Jehovah Witness, work a lot and are never home, very friendly.  THEY ARE GOLD.” “They went on vacations.  They should be back around June… 2084.”  “They have gone to church… once.  4 years ago.”

Conference was interesting.  I watched it in Spanish.  I didn’t really want to.  Watching conference with the voice over just isn’t the same.  You lose all the -isms of the speakers.  The truth is that I didn’t really have a choice.  A while ago, President Morgan said that if investigators come to conference, the missionaries have to sit with them.  Our stake president took that to mean that all missionaries have to watch it in Spanish.  That is not what he wanted to say, but our president made up his mind.  He did set up a TV with the English conference, but it was just for the newest of new missionaries, which I am not a part of (actually, I am the oldest in the zone, again).  I still enjoyed conference, although I think that this was the conference that I was least prepared for.  It kind of snuck up on me.  It felt really short, and less like a holiday than the last ones.  We worked between sessions like it was a normal day.

There is one funny story that I have for conference.  A few days before conference, our zone leaders were asked by an old lady to cross the street.  Being good boyscouts, they complied, and found that she was a little drunk, and perhaps high.  She complained to them about the way that she had been treated by the world, and they explained how baptism could help her.  She liked what they told her, so they invited her to the conference, not thinking that she would come.  But she did.  Drunk.  In fact, with a beer.  Elder Christofferson was speaking when she started yelling at the screen as thought she was watch sports.  “¿What sins have I done? ¡You are the sinner! ¿And what about the sins that the world has done to me? ¡Sí, amén!”  It was kind of funny, kind of scary, and perhaps a little insulting.  She got pretty loud, and the other people around her started shushing her.  I think that there was fear that she would start speaking in tongues, because a couple of sister missionaries finally stood up and took her out.

We had one investigator come to church, from the other area.  Her name is Rina.  She liked the conference.  Earlier in the week, she accepted a baptismal date for the beginnings of June.  I won’t get to see her be baptized more than likely, but that isn’t too important to me.  As long as she does it.

Yesterday, we went to an investigator named Yessenia, who is an immigrant from San Diego, California.  She speaks Spanish well, but English better.  She has a husband named Ariel, who had a friend over.  This friend is an ex-missionary of the protestant church, and is currently studying to be a criminal lawyer.  Oh, nelly.  He absolutely destroyed us.  We sat there for an hour straight while he tore at the Book of Mormon, the prophet Joseph Smith, and temples.  Neither one of us said anything, knowing the answers to his doubts, but knowing that if we answered him, it would turn into an argument.  We ended up saying, “We don’t know all of the answers to your questions.  There is only one way that you can know if what we are saying is true.  And that is by asking God.  We know that these things are true.”  He wasn’t too convinced.  We left feeling a little defeated, but we had nothing to worry about.  It isn’t about winning or losing: it is about saving a life.  There were no winners there: only lost souls.  We both felt that we had done perfectly the right thing, and that is enough for us.

Love you all.

Elder Mathewson

March 29, 2016 (Week 94)

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Elder Call and I on our last night together, eating s’mores over a roaring stove-top. We made promises to hang out together after our missions, which is the only person with whom I have done that. I have found a ski buddy!

IMG_0150

Our pension. In the Selfie, Elder Alcantara, my new companion, is taking the photo.

IMG_0143

A picture of the Zone

I am writing so early today because today is called “Youth Combatants Day”, which is a day of rioting here in Chile, similar to the 11th of September.  We have to be back in the house at 6:00 for our own safety.  Where I am is in no way dangerous, but even in supposedly safe places here in Santiago, crazy things happen.  And I don’t particularly want to die on my mission.

Changes came.  I am on my last one.  Elder Tintaya left (Tinter, as we called him), as well as Elder Call.  Elder Tintaya is in the Cordillera stake, which is in the very farthest south end of the mission, with Elder Henriquez, my old companion.  Elder Call is in Gabriela stake in El Molino ward, which is right next to El Castillo, my old ward, and about as dangerous.  He had told me the other day that he wanted to go to a dangerous area, so when I told him that he had wished a little too hard, he got really happy.  I am going to miss both of them.

My new companion is Elder Alcantara.  My 7th companion.  He was Elder Call’s companion, and worked in the other area.  Also Peruvian, but unfortunately he does not know how to cook 😥.  The ward now only has 2 missionaries to cover it, which I really like.  The idea from the beginning was to have only 1 companionship here in this ward, which is why at the beginning of last change I was almost in a threesome.  I personally think that the ward is too small for 2 companionships.  Besides, the ward wasn’t working, and President already said that he is going to send missionaries where they are needed.  Now they need to work.  If they want to have success, they are going to have to start doing splits with us so that we can get more done and contact more people and do more finding.

I am still District Leader.  It has to be some kind of record.  I am on my 7th transfer as a DL!  That is, like, 9 months!

Also, for the first time in my mission, I am living in our housing with just my companion.  This should be interesting.  Generally, missionary housing in this mission has 2 companionships.  That allows for a little bit of liberty in who you hang out with, as when you get sick of one missionary, you can go to another.  That shall no be anymore!  President’s idea is to have one companionship per housing.  Perhaps he wants to better prepare us for after our missions (a.k.a. living alone as a young married couple).  As of today, I have really liked it.  I am a reserved, introverted person, so I liked that is was quiet.  Also, it should be easier to keep the house clean.

I am finally done being sick, but I was still suffering this last week.  We got very little work done.  Not too much more to say, except that I love you all.  Let’s start thinking about how we are going to do the phone call.

Elder Mathewson

March 22, 2016 (Week 93)

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

I was sick in this photo. My companion took one just like it. We are pretty close to the mountains from where we work, and our sector technically extends to Argentina.

IMG_0115

We made hamburgers, which was reason enough to take group photos I suppose. Elder Alcantara, then my companion Elder Tintaya, then Elder Call, then me.

Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 6.35.38 PM

From Elder Call’s mom.

Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 6.36.00 PM

This week was a sick week for me.  Actually, it was a sick week for a lot of missionaries.  I was not able to work at full power every day, and in fact one day I needed to stay inside.  I was suffering from the common cold, which left me feeling weak and tired.  I’m at about 90% right now, with just a lot of noses being blown and coughs being… coughed.  It is just that time of the year, I think.

Not too much to say.  We are still contacting away.  Nobody is progressing, but there is a family that we have almost started working with.  My companion already knew two of the adult sons of the family, one of which is a less active convert from a couple of weeks ago, but this week it seemed that every time that we passed by the house, we contacted a different person, with a different need, and every time it was amazing.  We spoke with the son-in-law first (technically, he is co-habiting 🙁 [Wow.  I had no idea that gmail had so many emoticons]) who was very receptive.  Then, based on an impression from my companion, we went by again another day, and found the father, who was unbelievably receptive.  He was almost giving himself invitations, and when we spoke to him about the temple and I showed him a picture of you guys as an example of an eternal family, he wanted a specific date to be able to go.  Then, another day, we went by and spoke with another son, who initially was just friendly, but by the end of the contact opened up completely to us, telling us about is drug/alcohol addiction and accepting a blessing from us.  We hope to finally be able to be with all of them this Saturday.

I think that our perfecting of the missionary contact helped us a lot with that family.  The challenge with finding an awesome family like that is not screwing it up.  When you are in the habit of speaking with everything that moves and it’s pet, and you are so well practiced at knowing what to say thanks to the spontaneous nature of a contact, a missionary gets into a situation like that and it just kind of flows together.  I am a firm believer that a missionary can do nothing to make missionary work go either fast or slower, however I do think that there are ways to make ourselves a better tool in the Lord’s hands, and contacting is certainly one of them.  Find when you teach, teach when you find.

I’ve got a few pictures to send to make up for the lame email.  Love you all!

Elder Mathewson