Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Two Months in Chile

The past week has been good! It all started with probably the most rain I’ve ever been in before, for the first couple of days. We contacted in it every day with little success, but I tried to look at the good in it and remember it as a fun experience. I don’t know why but all the houses that we got into this week, the people had babies and the babies just loved me! Wanted me to play with them the entire time haha either babies or freaking dogs that wanted me to play with them. So many dogs always... One of the things I missed a ton this week because of the rain was driving my car in the mountains after it rained, and it made me remember the experience where I thought that I had flooded my engine because we had been mudding in pouring rain and my car had shut off in the middle of a huge puddle. For 30 minutes it wouldn’t start. I remember praying after that 30 minutes because I couldn’t think of anything else to do. It started a minute after that, I know it was something small but that was a cool experience to have. I was so scared my parents were going to kill me haha.

This week we got the new kids in our zone! 4 new kids who, as I remember so well, are scared out of their mind and know no Spanish haha, but I told them it gets better and gave them some more comforting words. There is one of them in our district, Elder Parking, which is funny because I know and hung out with a girl who is his cousin! He went to East and plays lacrosse so that’s pretty cool too! We are definitely going to be good homies.

This week we had the baptism of Vicky!! I am so grateful I had the opportunity to baptize her, even though the water in the font was ice cold... As soon as we got in and until we got out we were shivering like crazy haha my voice when I was saying the prayer was shaky because I was so cold and I feel bad for Vicky because she had to get her whole body in it. But she was very happy after along with her whole family. Another amazing experience of how the gospel blesses lives. But after that I had an intercambio with Elder Yson! It was insane.  We had the greatest success I have ever had before contacting! In the hour that we were contacting we taught like 2 short lessons and found 3 other really good "news". That’s really good haha. But we are both relatively new in the mission so it was sketchy but the Lord blessed us and we killed it!

One experience that we had this week that was pretty cool: we were contacting for a while with no success so we decided to visit a member that lived in the area we were contacting. She had a friend there who was Evangelical but we decided to share a scripture. It was just a simple scripture but as we were sharing, she started crying. She thanked us after. We taught about how God gives us trials so we can learn and grow. Apparently she had been having a really hard time in her life and that had helped. It was cool to see that the spirit had touched her even though she wanted nothing to do with us. Also another investigating family that I want to talk about, they are an amazing family! It’s the parents and their two sons, their girlfriends, and two brand new babies of the sons. One of the sons is 17 and already has a baby, kind of crazy stuff but they are really smart and very good in lessons! A couple of days ago we had the opportunity to teach the dad for the first time. They are all very receptive but they have a hard time leaving their Catholic background. I know the Lord will prepare them when it is the right time.

I am starting to share more and more in lessons and try every day to say more things and improve in my Spanish. I am to the point where I can understand almost everything, but it’s hard for me to formulate sentences on the spot. But I have been practicing with Charlotte, the recent convert, teaching whole lessons to her by myself for practice! It’s been good and I’m improving. Missionary life is an amazing experience and I experience something new every day. It’s also an amazing opportunity to grow and strengthen a testimony. I have grown to love reading the scriptures and my testimony is strengthened every time I read them.

I’m going to wrap things up by saying how much I love all of you, friends and family, and I invite you, and all of you to invite others you know who aren’t having the easiest time in their life right now, to turn to the scriptures. Because I testify that they bring comfort. That is one things I know for a fact. Also General Conference is this upcoming Saturday and Sunday. Take the amazing opportunity we have to watch that. I never fully appreciated it before the mission but now I am looking forward to it so much! Also watch with questions already in your head, and they will be answered by the end. It’s a promise. 

Elder Clay

Monday, September 22, 2014

Cleaning, Baptisms and Gaining Weight!

This week  was one of the best weeks of the mission for many reasons! It all started with a deep cleaning of our house, I love cleaning. We cleaned a ton of black mold, thought I found a dead rat, and did some reorganizing and threw out SO much stuff. I had to say good bye to the first missionary who I’ve seen leave to go home, Elder Farias, it was sad to say good bye because I looked up to him, he was an amazing missionary, and he was way supportive and encouraging to me always. He always challenged me to be better. I almost cried, such a baby haha.

Okay now for the story of the week. We were having a lesson with Diego and Vicky teaching the Word of Wisdom and the Law of Chastity, touchy lesson I know, but it went really well. After everything, Vicky said "Elders I have something to tell you. Last Saturday I prayed, and Sunday at the program.... I felt something strong." What came next is still ringing in my head. "Me voy a bautizar"!!!! Which means I’m going to be baptized! It was amazing. I was so happy. She will be the first investigator that I get to see from the start when we began to teach her and watch her progress all the way to her baptism! It’s going to be this next Friday and she requested that I baptize her. I’m excited! This past Saturday Elder Casperson got to baptize our investigator Diego on his birthday! It’s starting to be so clear and apparent the joy that this Gospel brings. This past week with Diego and Vicky has just been incredible. After the baptism the whole family was crying together as they congratulated Diego. Vicky is his sister, they have one more sister who is 14, she is next:) but it’s cool to see all of this because their parents aren’t members but they are doing these things because they can feel that this Gospel is true. It is such a testimony strengthener for me. I know that God gives answers to people who seek it with a sincere heart and true intention. Amazing experience and I know that there are more to come.

The 18th of September (because of the Carnival holiday) the mission got off as a Pday because NOBODY would listen to us if we tried to teach. So we hiked a smaller mountain with a bunch of missionaries, had an amazing lunch, WE HAVE HAD AMAZING LUNCHES LATELY, so many barbecue like lunches. So much meat. I love it. Heard some more music from the states in the house where we had lunch, Made In The USA by Demi Lovato killed me. I swear the members are just trying to tempt me. After that we went back to our house by 6 pm for safety reasons, so we played Uno, talked, and cleaned. It was a pretty chill day, but kind of a letdown because it  wasn’t even that different of a day or week in Chile. The craziest thing I saw was a hanging skinned pig with some crazy Chilean sawing it in half with some rusty hand saw with a pan full of blood underneath it.

Things are going really good here! We have 2 people that are for sure going to get baptized this next cambio. A cambio is 6 weeks and today marks the start of the second cambio. Four baptisms in my training... I got pretty lucky. Elder Casperson told me about some missionaries who go their entire mission without baptizing. But yeah I was born very well. Mission birth. The 20th was my dad’s birthday! Elder Casperson is now 20 and said that it was his best day of his mission. I’m glad I got to be a part of it. We had a feast for a lunch, he got to baptize Diego, then we had a mini party at Diego’s house after  Diego’s family gave him a bunch of gifts, including probably the sickest soccer jersey I’ve ever seen, it’s a throwback team Chile jersey, absolutely ridiculous, he got spoiled but I’m happy for him:) super jealous. 

Yesterday I had to give my first talk in church, everyone said I did really well and that they could understand the whole thing so I’m pretty pleased. My Spanish has been getting better, Elder Casperson says that he has seen a jump these past 2 weeks. It’s been good. Still get hit with homesickness waves sometimes, but I overcome it with the mission work. Haha also.... next to the Holy Ghost, Elder Miller is the second best Comforter. Alway telling me how good of a missionary I am and how good I’m doing haha. The start of the mission was really hard for him so he knows how to help me out. I think that I have hit all the big points of this week.

Charlotte made me a sick dream catcher, and Vicky gave me some souvenirs of Temuco. I played some more futbol with some flightes (chilean gangsters) and ran some more. I have gained 15 pounds since I got here haha. At this rate I’m going be breaking 300 by the end of the mission.. so yeah, prepare yourself for that. 

We found out cambios today. Elder Williams is leaving our zone and going to be a zone leader somewhere else. Kind of sad to see him go. We somehow lost all of our district leaders in one cambio, but guess what... Elder Casperson is going to be a district leader! He’s excited but kind of nervous. I know he´ll do a good job, he’s smart. But our house is staying the same, still living with the zone leaders Elder Miller and Elder Rivera. Four new missionaries are coming tomorrow! I and Elder Lowe aren’t going to be the newest any more. Six missionaries are going to be training in our zone.. Crazy stuff but I’m excited. Well that wraps up my week in Chile.

Always, hope everything is well back home. All are in my prayers. Take advantage of the time you have and read the scriptures! That is one thing I have learned to love here. Ciao until next week.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Fleas, Carnival, & More Bucket Showers

This one will be short because I don’t have a lot of time:( But this week went really well!! I hit the two month mark! It’s crazy to think it’s already been this long! This week flew by! I’m kind of disappointed! The time I want to go slower flies by and the time I want to fly by goes too slow! Haha I want to be in this training period as long as I can so I can learn as much as I can from such a good trainer as I have now! I grow to love and appreciate Elder Casperson more and more every day! Also I grow to love and appreciate the scriptures! That’s one thing that before the mission I never really took advantage of.  I regret it every day. I should have studied more, but by the end of this mission I will be a master :)

Some crazy things that happened this week... I got destroyed by fleas. Haha like literally my back and everywhere is covered by flea bites. They’re kind of like mosquito bites and they are impossible to avoid here, but they are healing slowly. Just waiting for the next round haha.

One night we were walking home for the night and this drunk lady approached us screaming ELDERS, ELDERS. Well she talked to us for a while, nothing I could understand, but the whole time she was just staring at me like rubbing my hands and arms haha. She had a real thing for me. And she was amazed by my hair, calling my cabeza de choclo, which translates to corn head. hahaha the elders in my casa think that’s about the funniest thing that has happened. But yeah, it ended with her giving me an even bigger kiss than last week, except this one was right on the cheek. She was going for the mouth but I dodged last minute. My comp thought it was hilarious.

Nights in Temuco Catrihula I will never forget. Talking with Elder Miller and Casperson about things and life after and before our missions is one of the greatest and funniest things I have done. Elder Casperson says that I need to appreciate being born in the same house as Elder Miller because I will never have another experience that like ever again. I am grateful.

Teaching has been going very well! We have two baptisms that should be golden for the 20th and the 27th. Two amazing people. One kid who’s seventeen and is a professional soccer player and then his sister. But other than that we have amazing investigators who just need to receive an answer! I know that they will at the right time. I am learning more and more Spanish every day and trying to improve in my qualities of a missionary every day!

I had my first sacrament fast Sunday in Chile yesterday and really it was one of my most favorite testimony meetings I’ve ever been too. The people here have the most amazing testimony’s. I am so grateful for the opportunity to be here. The grace of God is amazing. I know that if we will do our part, the Lord will make up for the rest. But we have to do our best!

We talked about three things on our mission that we are grateful for and have loved the most. For Chile in general I said the scenic aspect, it is so beautiful here. I will return with my family. For the spiritual aspect I said for the opportunity to grow and change into the person I’ve always wanted to be in the gospel, also the people I’ve met. The last thing was a random, and I said the people I have gotten to know, missionaries and people of Chile. I can’t express how grateful I am for everything. I am doing well here. It is very hard but I continue to receive help from the Lord. Love and Miss you all. You all are in my prayers!

Elder Clay

This week in Chile has included a bunch of things that I haven’t experienced yet so it was a good week! I can’t remember if I talked about Return and Report last week but just a little more about that. It was so fun to see all my friends from the CCM again and hear the experiences that they have been having. I was the only one who had baptized someone, what’s up...:)  They all thought and said it wouldn’t have been anyone else but me to be the one to baptize the 16 year old girl model the first cambio haha. But yeah it was good to see them all again and I hope that I somehow get to be companions with one of them down the road.

This week I started running with Elder Miller, it is incredible! Waking up and running down a kind of mini highway, idk it is just perfect. I get to think about stuff, perfect temperature and it is beautiful out at that time! We had to start running because here in Chile it is kind of impossible to not get a little bit of chub and I refuse to let it happen to me. Weight gain is a constant danger and worry for a missionary. That and balding.  I bought some hair clippers so this week me and my comp took turns cutting each other’s hair. We saved some money and we look dang good. We’re professional. We’ve done some more planning of our future lives, we take turns telling what is going to happen to the other after the mish. Elder Millers is always the funniest. He’s set on proposing to his ex GF the week he gets back and marrying a month later haha.

Still been taking bucket showers, but I think we are getting it fixed soon. Oh haha our adventure of trying to fix our vacuum cleaner. Four missionaries arguing on what piece goes where after we took it all apart to clean it. Pretty funny stuff. But we did get it working! Missionaries can do anything:)!

Diego is going to be baptized this Saturday, then his sister either the next Saturday or the one after! We also have this amazing woman named Maria who is honestly DE ORO. Of gold. We met her a while ago but she went out of town for a while. She is so into everything of the church and I’m sure she will get baptized this month, She came to church for the second time yesterday and was answering all the questions in the class already! She is 70ish and is the most happy, outgoing, loving person you will ever meet.

Also this week we had the ward party for the 18th of September, (Carnival)that day for them is like our 4th of July except for they go hard core, all out. It is a week-long of partying, so I should have some crazy stories to write about next week! But the party was crazy enough! There was so much food, meat cooked by the bucket load! They have this tradition Chilean dance called the Quaka danced by a bunch of people, as missionaries we aren’t allowed to dance:(  We then sang the Chilean national anthem, I and two other gringos just smiled and mumbled along during that part. They have this traditional Chilean game which is essentially horseshoes but instead you have these like brick things and you throw them in mud. It’s called Tejo or something like that. There are also these top things that you wrap up with a string and then throw it. It’s an intense top, it’s called trompo. There are also a bunch of other games. I and Elder Casperson dominated the three-legged race. I dominated the sack race, and there was a bunch of other crazy games. All way fun and funny. Oh my, I forgot about the tug of war. There were a bunch of tug of wars but the last one was between some of the guys and ALL the girls. I have never seen such determination on faces such as those of the Chilean women, kind of scary. They wrecked us. But they had soooo many haha, Hermana Cofre on the end... what were we supposed to do??? It was an impossible task for us. Yeah it was a good party and I’m sure I’ll have some more this week because we heard that nobody wants to listen to our message during this week. I can’t wait to hear "No no no, estamos muuuuuy ocupado ahora" a million times.

Contacting is pretty fun! Especially the people who say they already know our church well enough. Some things I have learned from the people of Chile about our church: Joseph Smith is our God, Joseph Smith lived in the times of Jesus Christ, the Book of Mormon is a story of Joseph Smith meeting and talking to God!  

It’s been great. Other than that I continue to grow in my knowledge of the gospel and language. I’ve been focusing on trying to change myself to the person I want to be which includes all the Christ like attributes. Trying to have love for everyone around me is pretty difficult at times, different missionaries with different personalities.

And this has been my report for the week. Love you guys, thank you for the support.

Elder Clay's address:
 Make sure to write Connor because there are 2 Elder Clays

Elder Connor Clay
Mission Chile Concepcion Sur
Castellon 1063, Of. Sur
Casilla 3560
Concepcion, Bio Bio

Monday, September 1, 2014

Completo's and Bucket Showers!

This week has been really eventful but at the same time we spent a lot of time on buses or waiting for something, so naturally my thoughts and feelings turned to home. I thought about all of you, family and friends, and things I wish I would have done and said to you all. I am forever grateful for you all, and if I never said it to you personally just know that I am, because really I am grateful for every single one of you in some way.

This week has been crazy. I’ve been having to take bucket showers every morning, which includes mixing boiling water with freezing water in a huge bucket, the ones they use for mopping and stuff, then standing over it splashing water on myself until I get wet enough to put all the soap on, then rinsing myself over it so I can reuse that water. Boy what a sight it is to see!

Elder Miller, one of the missionaries I live with, has been in and out of the hospital all week because he got a stomach infection or something but one of the nights he was trying to sleep at our house, he was having terrible pains and it was pretty scary. It was hard to go to sleep that night. But he is good now. He has a ton of meds, so he just walks around our house high, so funny.

I ate my first completo this week during an Almuerzo at a members house. A completo is a hot dog, but the bun is huge and they fill the rest of the bun up with tomatoes and guacamole.  Completos are really popular here.  I somehow choked down the THREE that they gave to each one of us. So hard.

Last Sunday I had to get up in front of the ward and introduce myself. That was really nerve wracking. But after when I was walking back to my seat, a man with special needs stood up, grabbed my forehead, and gave me the biggest kiss on the forehead you have ever seen. Pretty shocking but funny.

                                              Check out the matching ties!

Sometime in buses or at members houses there will be popular music from the United States playing, it sounds so good to hear them again. My comp calls them tender mercies, so true. I miss music so much, I literally have dreams of listening to music and I wake up homesick, such a joke. Lots and lots of walking. I am dead tired by the time we get home at nights.

We were angels in a play of the Plan of Salvation dressed up in our baptismal clothes for a stake activity. That was pretty fun. There is  a word that describes how Chileans act, Chamuyento, it’s like dramatic and exaggerated in everything they do and say. So you guys must know now... that I was supposed to be called here!! Haha exactly like me. but yeah, I have to learn the language first before I can act like me.

The language.. I don’t know what to say. It’s incredibly difficult, very frustrating, and discouraging at times. I try to have a good attitude about it but I feel like it is an impossible task. I turn to the Lord for help constantly and I know he strengthens me. I just want the Chileans to open their mouths and enunciate their words for once. Not some big glob of sounds haha. But I don’t know... Elder Casperson says I’m improving, I don’t really see it but I’m just going to continue to do my best.

 If there is anything that will change about me on this mission and I will learn these two years, it will be humility and gratitude. Two things I thought I had back home, but I have found out now that I lacked. It’s funny, me and my friends would make fun of people who would say on twitter and other social media "blessed".  I don’t know it was just the typical thing everyone would say. But really on this mission I have realized how blessed I was in my life. Be grateful for what you do have, and make sure that you show and express your thankfulness. 

Last Sunday after church we went to Charlotte’s house for lunch. It was pretty good, but they had music playing that I knew. It was making me really homesick haha The Scientist by Coldplay killed me. But yeah tender mercy.  I ate my first artichoke, it wasn’t bad. Keep eating different stuff, some good, most bad. In all, the experiences I am having are helping me grow and learn so that I can be a better person.

I’ve been talking a lot to Elder Casperson about changing on the mission and both of us said that one of the biggest reasons why we both decided to serve a mission was because we could see things in our lives that needed a change and we knew that the mission would be the best thing for us. The mission is an amazing experience. It is incredibly difficult at times but Ether 12:27 and D&C 122:7 come to mind. We are given hardships for our benefits. Remember that. I listened to a talk this week and the message from it hit me hard because I had been thinking about that same thing since I started my mission. The message was that there is one things that even Jesus Christ and his amazing Atonement can’t give us back. and that is time. Don’t waste your time doing stupid things and don’t procrastinate the day of your repentance. Even if it’s something small. I don’t want to sound like some preacher telling you that you should do something but just think about your life and the things that might need a change. Don’t waste time like I did doing things because at the moment they seemed like they would be fun. I know that your life will be a lot more happy. Well that’s more than enough for this week. Hopefully everything is going well at home. Miss all of you so much. Until next week.

Elder Clay