Monday, August 13, 2012

The End

I haven't written on here much but I am going to have to say this has been a very hard, long two years. I am sure everyone else feels like it went by quickly but let me assure you that it did not! However, I am so grateful that Alex was able to go on a mission and learn the lessons he did. He is going to make a wonderful husband and father as well as church member and YM leader. Heavenly Father is preparing him for some great purpose and I feel so privileged to be his Mother. God Speed Elder Crist! See you in 1 week!!!!!!

This is my paper I sent in for my end-of-mission report. As I spent considerable time writing it, please allow it to be my email for this week.

See you on Tuesday. I love you all.

Elder A. Conrad Crist

Stewardship : Alex C. Crist
Mission Chile Santiago West, September of 2010 to August of 2012
                I’ve never really thought of myself as a spiritual person. I wasn’t sure what I would do as a missionary. I liked to think I was an intellectual – maybe even a little too intellectual to be a missionary. I supposed I’d wedge myself into the mold for the two years and come back and move on.
                There’s a scripture in 1 Corinthians that’s proven to be absolutely true for me. It says something like, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard; neither have risen up into the heart of man the things that God has prepared for them that love Him.” (Pardon me; that’s an impromptu translation from the Spanish.) I had no idea what He did have prepared for me, nor could I have – I knew nothing about how to seek after Him. I could read the Books – I could read the words, at least. In fact, I did read the Books. On some level, though, it didn’t penetrate very much. (This isn’t to say I had no testimony before, but it certainly wasn’t much of one.)
                One of the purposes of my mission that I can see now (of the great number or purposes I can’t see now) was put me in a position in which I had to rely on Him. All my previous activities were controllable by me. I am a studious person. I naturally see causes and effects. If I needed money, I could get it. If I needed to understand something, with some effort I could get it. Missionary work, though it is clear that work makes a great difference, depends on the actions of other people. Only by help from On High does a missionary have any chance of helping any person. Speaking personally, only by needing Him could I be made to seek after Him. When I finally found part of Him I began to change. My purpose here is not to try to communicate everything He’s taught me up to today’s date (as it would take several days to write), but I think I will be able to impress my most perspective-changing thoughts.
                I would lie if I said my mission was completely bright and happy. At the beginning I felt many times crushed by difficult circumstances, difficult (in my estimation) companions, and a constant cold fear of what God thought of me and my lack of performance. I was branded in many homes as the serio, or the person who never laughs or makes jokes. I am not a depressed person; I’ve never been that way. The pressure I felt was so great (multiplied by language difficulties early on) at times that I felt like I was certainly damned, for there was no other thing that could produce such restrictive weight. I don’t know how many people have prayed prostrate in fear of His judgement, but I have. Like I said, though, He had plans for me. He presented me with each new level of understanding, which appeared to me to be the top of all knowledge I could receive, but as I arrived at that level without fail He showed me something even higher. That’s been the pattern. With each discovery the weight became less as I allowed Him to carry more of it until today. And today, my “confidence has waxed strong in His presence” and I fear Him no more.
In my mission we were allowed to read Lectures on Faith, which I felt impressed strongly to read. The book was originally printed with what we know as Doctrine and Covenants, and is an exposition of faith – how we get it, why we need it, its results, etc. When I finally was able to read it, it took me about a week to finish it. But in that short time it was as if my entire understanding of life and God was being razed and rebuilt with the same bricks, only this time higher and indestructible.  Faith had always been taught to me as “believe because that’s just how it is.” I couldn’t figure out why God would want me to believe in Him without offering any reason.  The truth is this: we trust in the testimony of another until we receive a confirmation of the Holy Ghost.  The faith that the prophets have preached is made of three components, one being a belief that God exists, secondly a correct understanding of His attributes, and lastly that the course of life that one follows is according to His will. Without those things there is not not enough faith. It made sense to me for the first time. Christianity isn’t illogical. Anyone who wants to confirm God’s existence can do it. He knew we’d have doubts as to His existence, so He showed us the way. There’s a reason we dwell so much on the First Vision.
                Like Moroni  said, after faith comes, hope must follow. I started to form a real relationship with God by way of His Holy Ghost. It wasn’t a relationship of Deity and creation, at least how I’d understood it. At a General Conference I attended here a General Authority told a story about how he’d been somewhat hungry while walking home from work. He felt like he’d been good that day, and that if he could eat some fried chicken from a little drivethrough he was about to pass by.  He prayed (almost a little sheepishly) that while he knew it wasn’t a big need, he did not have any money, so he would certainly enjoy finding a quarter on the ground to be able eat. As soon as he finished praying he walked right onto the coin he needed.
                I think the hope I found in the mission is very similar. God is my dad! He’s like my dad here. He knows exactly how life’s going for me and He understands when all my skills are insufficient. He knows why He called me here. Unlike reading Lectures on Faith, it’s hard to put a line or bracket on when I started to understand this. In the daily life I had in Chile I just started seeing Him more and more – in what I read, in what I saw in people I taught, and in miracles that weren’t always that necessary – or, rather, that were just for me.
                Thinking back to Moroni 7, first is faith, next is hope, but the most important – the only one that won’t ever “pass away,” even when the very earth and universe have – charity.
                I came across a talk by the current President of the Chile Area when he was a mission president in Michigan called “The Fourth Missionary.” It speaks of four kinds of missionaries that exist – The First being one completely disobedient and sent home, the Second disobedient but more furtive, and the Third and Fourth, which are almost equal. The talk dwells little upon the disobedient ones. There’s a phenomenon in motives in the Gospel.  To condense about thirty pages of text, the central blessing of life is change. This is change, not knowing more scriptures or learning to live alone. This is change that makes a human into a God. This is change that can only occur if the person desires it to occur. A lot of times one can think that those changes are worked by working hard or being perfectly obedient, but the reality is that God desires the very inside of His children – their money or talents do not interest Him. is a resounding line in the talk that I cannot forget: “You will make out of yourself a smudge. He will make out of you a masterpiece. You will make out of yourself and ordinary man – whatever it is that society makes of you. He will make out of you a God.”
                The difference is so little – one must want to do God’s will instead of just force himself to do it. That’s the only difference. This echoing truth has changed everything for me. Since I really began to apply that principle, nothing has been the same. God has been closer to me, and I to Him. I have imitated Jesus Christ and I’ll never be the same. Jesus came not only to atone for sin – He came to show us the Way. The only Way. Making myself a missionary has only been difficult when I have been closed to it inside. There’s a line in one of my favorite songs that states the situation well: “Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty/ Though the eyes of the sinful man may not Thy glory see.”
I have thought of myself as a doctor for many years, for the idea has always appealed to me, and I am almost confident that I desire to pursue that career. Using that “instinct,” if you will, I learned to really care about people and listen to them to then be able to help them. Through various circumstances I learned that loving a person – really, actively, as a verb – is the secret to helping him, be it missionaries under one’s charge, investigators, members, or companions. I’ve seen the great help that leaders can be to people, as real conversion occurs after baptism in almost all cases. I am saddened sometimes because I know I could help much more some people as a normal member with a calling than as a missionary. I am eager for the opportunity to have those callings, especially Home Teaching and, fortune willing, Young Men’s. I remember once conversing with my trainer (an excellent missionary) about the purpose we served and he said, “I think they really send us on missions for the after-the-mission. We know who can be in trouble, and how to help – even how to be a good normal no-calling member.”
My future plans have not changed very much in the mission in a vocational sense. I still plan to work long and hard to obtain an education as a Medical Doctor in a high-level medical school, as that is the best profession I can imagine for myself. I will always seek the Lord’s will to follow it. I will always plan and work toward goals in every area of my life (I shall not bore the reader with all the details.)
I think it goes without saying that I will accept any calling from God and His Church, and magnify it as He will.
I will maintain my family as the highest priority next to God Himself. I have been convinced beyond all return that I must be married to be happy. It will have to be in the Temple. She will have to be someone who, honestly, is a very special, valiant, righteous woman. Her goals will have to be compatible with mine. I will give her myself, holding back nothing (similarly to the way I give myself to my Father)– and I will expect nothing less from her. However the family ends up working out I will defend them (both that which I already have and that which I will have) with everything I have and am and can ever teach them from our Common Enemy.
I will praise my God forever, for He is my Father. I will obey and love my Savior forever, for that it what He is. He is never in debt with me – His blessings are too many to count and too undeserved to reason. I know what I’ve done is right. I finally understand what Elder Holland is saying with, “My mission meant everything to me!” My mission meant everything to me. Every good thing that will happen to me is a result of this mission. I think it’s no coincidence that at the end of Matthew, as a triumphant Jesus ascends to heaven He gives a commandment – “Go ye and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost,” and right after, as an accompaniment to it, to all those who work in this Work – “I am with you, even to the end of the world.”
He is with me.
  1. 1.       Temple Marriage to a very special, valiant, righteous woman, whom I will court daily
  2. 2.       Raise children in a home that is safe from the World
  3. 3.       Seek to be an excellent, dependable professional, most likely Medical Doctor
  4. 4.       Avoid all debt except for education and a modest home if necessary
  5. 5.       Pursue passionately my interests in outdoorsmanship, computers, vocal performance, piano, history, and manual work
  6. 6.       Fulfill and magnify callings, not allow time to pass without callings, do all home teaching, participate actively in geneology, prepare to serve and serve a couple mission
  7. 7.       Be well-educated in the works of God, studying daily from His word
  8. 8.       Perpetually practicing exercise and diet habits with a goal in mind
  9. 9.       Love Family and Friends fiercely, defending them from spiritual and physical dangers and manifesting often my love for them
  10. 10.    Seek diligently and follow unhesitatingly the will of God

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

This is it. Second-to-last Pday in my entire mission.

 I still feel normal. This last week I did my go-to-the-temple-with-President. I had a pretty strong experience there you'll have to ask me about later. Basically it was all my old friends from the MTC - Elder Smart from the office was there. We actually ended up as "companions" for the trip up to the temple from Maipu. We talked about how we both are kind of in the same boat in terms of not-trunkyness but a little bit of "I'm too old for this." Listen to the audio for a little piece of that.

 President waited until we were alone in the Celestial Room and said, "This is not the end of your mission. This is the beginning of your mission. Think about it - you can create something that lasts beyond this life. That is your mission."

 The only thing that grabs my attention is MacBooks. Nothing else. I have been without Mountain Dew, mexican food, normal clothes, etc, but I don't care. I could go longer without them if necessary.

 I was talking with Elder Mason about this today. As a missionary you get so unattached after moving so many times that you don't even attach to things or places after a while. You don't even arrange your stuff or you room. You just think to yourself, "Why? I'll just leave in a month or whatever."

 Everything was going normal with Josefa until recently we had a little issue with modern prophets. It's not a big deal, but we put off the baptism to make sure it all goes good. It would be really bad if she were to get to the interview and have him say no. So we put it at the 19. I can still baptize her, it seems. That will be my last working day. Actually, I won't even work that day... yeah, whatever. 

This is a two part email so I can send all the pictures.

 What I mean to say with an "issue" is that she's not convinced. She asked if all the prophets have been Americans. I said yes, and that it had to do with that the Church has been there for so much longer, etc. We explained that all she had to do was confirm the Book of Mormon and it was all a chain reaction from there. She's reading and praying. I have my suspicions about the doubt - I think she heard something negative about the Church being a USA money-making venture and in some way the prophet concept confirmed it in her mind. I just hope we can get her to an answer in time.

I'm ready to "sacrifice" being here for the baptism to be sure we do it right. It certainly was the object of the fast this month. It still worries me something, but there's not much more to do until our next lesson.

 Anyway, it was a good temple outing. I think the big message I recieved (I have to tell you about a somewhat heavy experience I had there)(probably in the temple itself) is that God is actually happy with what I've done. I was walking with Elder Smart and I said to him, "You know, I sometimes feel like I've really mandar'dme la embarrada (made a lot of mistakes) in the mission. I could have done so much better than I did in ever sector. I'm recién (recently, just now) figuring out how to work a sector for reals."

 He said something I found wise: "I think God knew that iba a quedar la escoba (we'd mess up a lot) when he sent us, but he did it for something. We have to learn this stuff somehow and now we're ready for the future.

 I am definitely not very good at this still but I at least know why I'm here and basically what I`m supposed to do. I think I can follow the Spirit somewhat. I love these people, even though they are very misguided a lot of the time. I know the scriptures..ish...

 And the sector is getting somewhere. I am afraid that only Josefa can be baptized while I'm here, but everyone else is on the right track. Crazy miracles are starting to happen, something that always happens to me right as I leave a sector. We got a reference for a family that was almost baptized in another sector that only has to be baptized... to be baptized... if you understand what I mean. All these people I've mentioned to you are going good. Just slower than I'd hoped. They didn't come to church. That was the main problem - One didn't appear, the other's mom has a beef with the bishop, etc. We are looking at leveraging the trio to do some divisiones to cover more ground.

 The tension of this being my second to last email is making my my mind somewhat vapid. I'd like to at least write something interesting.


 I'm going to go do my best.

See you next week.
Elder A Conrad Crist


Remember those spice cakes with the white frosting? Kind of a gingery taste? That. Also funfetti. If you are thinking about Chilean sayings I have two: the more knightly Chilean motto, "Por la razón o la fuerza", or a fraternal "Ya, Po"

Can someone make chicken squares? I guess Mom's would be more of chicken triangles, being a less-cream-cheesed one-criossant variation of the literally squared two-criossant chicken square.

Revised: Can someone make chicken triangles?

Before I forget, the school system here is exactly backwards. They start in December and end in like october or something. They have a longish winter vacation, but it's last week-ish on June.

Anyway, this week was fast. We saw some investigators and stuff. It went good. I think I've basically told you about everything that can happen out here to I'll pass the more interesting things.

Do you remember that one time when I told you about this wierd reference we got that is untraceable? That girl (about our age) is technically not a member because they forgot to confirm her... Right. I don't know how that happened. Wierd thing is that the first time we taught her she sort of "hated on" the church for all these dumb things that had happened up until then. She also said she wasn't terribly convinced by the Book of Mormon (or the Bible). We convinced her (in a really really long lesson) that it was worth at least reading the Book of Mormon to see if it was true. She showed up at church with her family (part of which are free baptisms because they want to move here but have already recieved almost all the lessons) last Sunday and talked to the bishop about getting the confirmation done. He said they can do it without baptizing her again. We went to see her again two days ago-ish and she was completely different. Bizarrely 180 degrees different. She read some of the Book of Mormon. In the time since that first visit she decided that even if she did have to get rebaptized she'd just do it. Her mom (member recently getting active) said she walked in on her reading the Book of Mormon again. And we found a probable house for her sister and family (the free baptisms).

It seemed that she didn't even notice (her name is Emily) (seriously) that her opinions had changed so much. I suggested that it could have been the Spirit and she said, "I think so. I feel so much better now."

From wierd text messages (still unexplained, and I've talked to the office and they didn't send it) to this! It was such a precise time! Dizzying.

I'm still not even having a problem with the end coming and stuff. I'm serious. I don't even remember until someone says, "Hay, Crist... ya trunky yet?"


"You only have 21 days left."

"Really? I hadn't noticed."

"You're weird. Do you not miss your parents?"

"Yeah, but-"

"But what?"

"I tell everyone the same thing. I don't know what it's like to be normal. Ask me if I'd like to be a giraffe or live in Bolivia; I'll answer the same way."

"You're totally in denial."

"Whatever, man."

I have had that discussion like 75 times. It is second only to this one:

"What are you going to do after?"

"Med school, hopefully."

"That cool! What kind?"

"I don't know - maybe emergency room or surgery."



"Oh... gross."


"Well, someone's got to do it, right?"

Chileans tend to say the same things, I guess. Several times I have prophesied to my companions what the members would say.

It appears that we are not going to divide the sector after all. We shall be recieving one more missionary to make a trío for this next little while. President decided it's not enough time to train someone new in a sector (three weeks is very little - generally at least six is required)

This would leave Elder Fernandez (with whom I am overjoyed to be still) with our new companion to finish the change. It really would work out good. That's not entirely confirmed, but mostly. it is going to be cool.

I haven't seen Josefa (Abby girl) for three solid weeks! Finally we're going today. As far as I know it's just a straight line from here to water for her. We are still working on the mom. That's going to be my last charge.

I am attempting to do a few baptisms the 19. Wouldn't that be cool? We had four people with that date. It would be cool if you always felt like you had to get someone for a date you couldn't pass - I've never worked on someone as hard as we are. The nineteenth or death! For real.

The only real chink in my armor is Macbooks. The other day an investigator didn't have a dvd player but had a Macbook so we played in on the comptuter hooked to the tv like we did back in the day. ... I like Macbooks...

I'm good though. Nothing terribly too much, as I have been resisting the same distraction the whole time here. Whatever.

We should go camping too. And singing. I need to get my mitts on that piano.

I'm going to see if I can get my camera stuff working.

Elder A Conrad Crist

Monday, July 23, 2012

Passive Religious Culture

Reality of releases:

I am almost confident that you talk to the Stake President and he comes over that day I get home and releases me. No waiting as far as I know.

I still feel like I'm in the middle, as much as I did a year ago in La Cisterna with Elder Myres. I know what I'm doing a little more but not so much. I'm starting to freak out when I think about people that have kids and stuff (and I remember when I was a kid 21 wasn't that young - you could have kids at 21 and that was okay) are my age and younger and I kind of just sit there staring at them because I am definitely not that old. I feel like an educated large fourteen-year-old. Is that bad?

No, it's all good. I make it work.

Everyone's getting back from vacations now so I'll have more to tell you about it next week. We contacted a lot, for there was very little peopleage in the sector. We did find some pretty good new people. They were a mom and two fraternal twin girls. We only talked about some basic... nondenominational (to say it that way) christian stuff, throwing the Restoration on the end. The girls were really pretty interested. The mom too, I think, but she recited some classic no-church-necessary stuff. It's all about the Book of Mormon in those cases. It really is about the Book of Mormon in every case, but especially these people. Our area president calls it "Passive Religious Culture."

One of the things that's been on my mind lately has been our power to define ourselves. Those non-conformist people are as lost as a Turk in fog! They let society make them whatever it wants. Real non-conformity is defining one's self. Why dress in black clothes? What a product!

It's very interesting to me how much power I have in my own life to change what I am. Not personality (you can if you want, but I like my personality), mostly speaking about work habits, thoughts, vocabulary, and on a longer-term scale, attributes and tendencies.

As a result I've been thinking too about what I'm going to do with myself. (Not when I'm not supposed to or anything.) I got a paper last wednesday about my mission termination paper! I have to write an essay with ten goals for the future and what I learned in the mission and stuff. I still don't feel like I'm going anywhere. Even if I will only write home three times more - ever. I still have baptisms to do and stuff so it's not over for me. We are splitting the sector, so it's going to go super fast. I just know it. It only slows down when you resent it. If you just go out and stuff and laugh and get to know your companion and do family nights and it rips away.

Wierdly the only effect going home has on me nowdays is it makes me impatient. I can't stand waiting for people to come to the door. I can't take people saying they can't see us this week. I think, "Hey - I need someone to get out here so I can contact them." or "Hey - I can only teach you for so long, man. Let's get on this thing. What are you waiting for?" I don't even know what trunky is. It doesn't make sense to me.

Therefore I feel totally okay giving you this idea:

Priority one : Mountain Dew. I don't care in what medium. I only need there to be a decent amount and it needs to be cold.

Two: Mexican Food

Three: PF Changs

That's really all.

Four: Shasta

Five: Good Chocolate Milk make from milk and powder

Six: Peppery steak Italian Place Sandwich

Seven: Burgers

That's all.

I feel like I hear the Indiana Jones theme song. I'm going to keep going. See you next week.

Elder A Conrad Crist

Note C
I have an idea, furthermore. I think it would be cool to make a two-part journal after - one part written of my writings in journal with printed out letters put in at corresponding dates. Two - all the recording plus an interview with questions of your choice in style of interview. Maybe some sunday we could sit down and let everybody ask or say something. I think that's a good Conrad thing to do. In fifty years people will kill for that recording.

Monday, July 16, 2012

3 Nephites Text

Another really fast week. We did pretty well in terms of investigators. Josefa (Abby's age) has a baptismal date for the 29th. We'll see, though, because the mom left too and so we may have to put off the baptism until the mom's come to church a few times. Josefa is ridiculously solid - tons of friends, goes to all the activities, everything you could want. The ward loves her. Javiera, the other one, is still in the South so it'll be a little later when we get her - but her family is fairly interested, so it will probably be mid-August.

This week we started teaching a recent convert's girlfriend who is also really good. What's more, this certain convert is a little lazy to come to church, but as we've taught his girlfriend, they show up together to everything consistently. Some kind of synergy thing, I think.

We had a spiritual guiedance this week that was very interesting. We got a text (unmarked - not from the office here in Chile) for a reference (in english) that only had a name and address. The person, when we contacted her, hadn't talked to missionaries for at least a year or two. We decided to go to the reference and we found her, her mom who was just recently thinking about coming back to church (they're both members). We had a really long and spiritual lesson, part of which resulted in us finding another young girl who has wanted to be baptized but hasn't been able to yet. I am still very wierded out - texts don't send themselves, but no one sent it. At least no one here. The number was ominously 5960. Not even a telephone number. A member, upon hearing the story, said, "That must be a three Nephites text."

The scriptures that they did rob of mine were spanish. I also gave Elder Guevara my english ones. For some reason I think I will still want physical scriptures. We can look at that later.

Speaking of things like that, it would be nice to have a computer when I get there because I will want to figure it out in time to use it. Is that possible? They've made a lot of changes and I'll have to set up a lot of stuff and copy other stuff to be able to work like before. 

I am pretty serious when I say I can't remember what it's like to be normal. I watched with Elder Fernandez a talk by Elder Holland about converting one's self in the mission and I realized one very simply thing: I don't belong here anymore. I feel like my... operating system?... has been... updated?... to be a returned missionary. I feel so much older than my companion, or, for that matter, everyone in the mission! Like nothing surprises me anymore. I feel like my place is studying, working, going out with the missionaries, having a calling, going to church meetings, etc. While I was eating lunch with members the other day a brother was telling me about how he felt at the end of his mission. He said when he had a month to go he started to feel increasingly out of place daily. When they asked him if he wanted to stay on longer he said, "I am grateful for the mission and I will never be the same for it, but no." That's kind of where I am, as it happens. This week I will tip below one month. That is a terrifying thought, but more in the way a roller coaster is terrifying, if you "cachai" (feel me.)

I just do my job daily and take a few mates and the days rip past like rapids on the Colorado. See you soon, I guess.

Elder A Conrad Crist

Note A
Did someone make a recording of Jake at any point?

Scriptures were stolen!

I have decided I still dislike moving.

It ended up being a big deal because we had to take out all the duty that was already in the house. We had to disarm (that's a spanish error)(the word for take apart is desarmar)... I mean, take apart the bed and the stove and stuff to be able to move it. My stuff is pretty scant - it was all these ridiculous plates and stuff we had to mess around with. We moved for like two hours with a car and two hours after. We still are missing a table but we've just not had time to finish.

I am working dang hard. We are doing a system of reference-seeking that's started to get somewhere. If you remember Josefa, Abby age, she's doing basically perfect - but we have to have her mom at least coming to church to be able to baptize her on her original date, the 29 de July. I'm starting to worry she'll want me to baptize her - which is not the idea. The idea is that they don't support themselves on me, for I'm practically toast. We have a lot of people but it's been hard to really nail them down good. It's a matter of calling and confirming - but even that doesn't always do it.
We have a wierd situation going with one. There's a new convert guy who is pretty good but lazy as Barack. He has a girlfriend who has decided to be baptized but we make appointments and the convert guy forgets or something. We've passed like six times like that. It's bizarre. Talking to him face-to-face you'd never think he'd do that. I always think that we have to be missing some understanding of his character - otherwise he wouldn't do that.

It is cold as Barack! The floor is pain-cold! Not cool. You basically have to shower as fast as you can because there's no other way to build up the resistance to cold to be able to dress yourself or otherwise function. The house itself is entirely ceramic except for a wood floor room that we don't use because it's too big - or be it, unheatable with the tiny heater thing we have.

In the end we stuffed everything into the bedroom - study tables, beds, mate, boiler, etc - to be able to heat the room up to a human temperature. That's where we've ended up. The rest of the house is an unoccupied freezer that will be really cool in the summer.

We are doing a reference program now that looks good. This ward is a ward of "maquinas" - machines. We're finding that just about every family's got someone that was listening or could listen. Or some inactives, at least.

To answer to your doubts as to my trunkiness, I can truthfully say that I am of the exact same level of trunkiness as I was a year ago. I always tell people that I don't even remember what it's like to be normal, so it's very similar to someone asking me if I want to go to... for example... Bolivia. I have no idea what Bolivia is like, so if you ask me if I want to go to Bolivia I will say, "I don't know. I've never been there." Similarly I say to people on the subject of going home, "I don't know. I don't remember what it's like."

Quote from weekly report:

"We're all moved out. It's certainly a lot nicer, if very cold. We moved all the stuff into one room to study and sleep there - so we only have to heat that room. That works.

With reference to the girls - well, girl, because with the other one we are teaching the whole family, but it's going slow - she does everything we give her. She has not missed any Sunday or Mutual for five weeks now. We are starting to make real progress with her mom, but she's been really sick recently, so we've not been able to see her. The other girl is starting from zero with her family, which has proved elusive so far. We'll see how it goes this week.

We have a newer investigator, Luis, who is shooting up to the top of our list. It is really a product of that he really wants to change and drop a drug habit he has which drives him to keep all his commitments. He reads and understands the Book of Mormon. It'll be a quick matter to bring some good member to get him to church.

I am, unfortunately, lamenting the loss of my bag, complete with scriptures and all other teaching materials I own. Somehow it was stolen in the move. Not to mention, my studies have been... mas o menos for this week. I am actually really sad about that - and I don't know how I'll get scriptures in time to actually work, as
 takes a good long time to arrive. Well, I'll see if the office can get me some or something."

That's right. I have no scriptures. I have been walking around with an old non-church bible and a hard-cover investigator Book of Mormon. All that work and stuff! I can't believe that my scriptures are probably weed-wrapper now! That's two years of work! I read the Book of Mormon and New Testament in their entirety! I don't know what to do. I think I'll just pull some office strings and have them buy me some. There is no worse thing to happen. Whatever. I still have my journals, at least.

I need to do some Excel nonsense.

See you.
A Conrad Crist

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

4th of July...What is that?


I had actually forgotten the fourth of July thing. I basically forgot that that exists.

Honestly the only thing that makes me trunky is computers. I can wait for anything else. In the absence of having one I've realized that it wasn't just a time waster in my life. I was really good at computers. I could do just about anything. Excel, video editing, formatting drives, changing out chips and video cards, programming, etc - it all interests me. I am thinking I may do a minor in computer science after all.

In terms of missionary stuff we're doing pretty good. We have taught a lot and the people are doing good. The Abby-age girls have gone from 70% decided that the Church was true to a real and, in my opinion, lasting testimony. They like church, they like young womens, they go to everything, they read and pray - there's nothing they don't do. In addition, their parents are slowly getting interested. Their baptismal date is the 29th of July... the idea is that the parents be attending by then. If not, new rules will prevent us from baptizing them.

We have a lot of people that have big obstacles. I got somewhat angry with myself because we went with the intention of telling an investigators that he would have to stop working on Sunday, which would be somewhat of a problem from his dad who can only take days off if his son works for him. We went to teach that and the investigator started talking about how hard his studies were and how he was barely passing and how he was really disanimated... so I backed off and we didn't commit him to do it. Mistake. How are we going to teach it now? He can't get baptized if he is straight breaking the commandements.

It's made me think a lot about how I regard the commandments. I would just stop working on Sunday and look for something else because God doesn't give impossible commandments, and the faster I turned over my will the faster I would be out of it. There are some commandments that are much harder for me than others - for example, I was a first-class software pirate before the mission. Can I go back to doing that? No. I'm not sure how I'll operate exactly, but no. How could I? How could I huck all my eternal progress out the window for something I could pay for with money that doesn't even matter?

It's an easy argument to say that it doesn't hurt anyone or steal anything tangible, and that the software manufacturers charge much too much to compensate for all the pirating that goes on (which is absolutely true), but it's the same thing. What will I do when I want to mess around with Photoshop? Not pay $699.

But it can be hard to convey that to someone who's so new to the Church. We actually have two really good investigators with the same problem. I suppose before too long we're just going to have to be straight with them.

It's an interesting place to be trained for my companion. We are doing a lot better than I did with my trainer. At least we have investigators. I actually am doing better here than I have in any other place. We are getting above-average results in every factor. It would be very strange if I left here without five or six baptisms.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ABBY! Those two girls that are her age always ask about her. I try to imagine Abby at their age and I can't ever do it. They seem too grown up. I remember very well when we got her - shows how young I am. More people have seen her than you know - almost anyone with whom I am has seen her and asked, "Wait... your sister? Are you sure?"

Then I tell Mom's story about "Look at her lips!" and I tell them that it was never weird or anything. It got to the point (Jake will back me up on this) that people see you with her in the park or something and they say, "That's your sister?" and you would look at them with a "What are you talking about? Um, duh..?" Then some ten minutes later you think, "Oh... that's right."

I love you, Abby. It's gonna be demasiado (too much) fun when I get back. Happy Birthday.

I'm in for the concert thing. As long as there's good musicianship I'm in for anything.

I think my vision for how I am going to be when I get back is similar, but three times more vibrant and active. I am going to not just like backbacking - I am going to be an expert at it. I am going to learn how to build and fix stuff. I am going to learn everything I can. I am going to go to the gym and run. I am going to practice piano and even more so practice voice. I am going to learn Greek and Hebrew. (I learned Spanish on paper in a month; how much harder could it be?) I am going to be something. Somebody find me a project! I can't handle the idea of wasting time. Excel, painting, DVDs, pictures - whatever. Just something.

I think I mentioned too that I am going to change how I dress. Forget baggy cargo shorts (when I'm not hammering). I am in love with dress shoes and colored button shirts. And I'm oficially a 33 waist and a "medium tall," so I can get all that sick atheletic-fit stuff.

Sorry about that.


We've actually been limited in wierd places to go but I think next week we'll be able to. I will be going to Maipu tomorrow for my last zone conference... ever... and that'll be fun. We're moving out on thursday to our sick new house. 

We've recently been in a rut of having people not show up to our appointments. Last night we only got one lesson the whole night. Lots of midnight contacts that aren't sure if you're going to rob them or baptize them. I think it is honestly just bad luck this week. We went to Ward Council and the whole leadership was pretty surprised by our initiative. More than anything I just say napoleon "yes" with the fist pump for my companion because he's learning how to really be effective in ways that took me a year or more to discover. That and the MTC, which is much more focued in what matters than when I was there. His mission is going to be so much less confusing than mine... I suppose by the time he has his own trainee he'll have figured out new stuff on top of that. Is this what it's like to be a father?

I almost know how to be a good missionary now that I'm almost done! Fantastic.

What more can I say? I'm doing better than ever. My companion is a baller. (He is basically me except from Argentina.) We did have to make a no-Babylon-during-proselyting policy. I think that's good though, because we have something to talk about always. It is not that fun to have a companion that says nothing ever or even only talks about mission stuff.

You know what I mean.

Elder A Conrad Crist