Two years ago to this month I was spending my last few weeks with the family. I was able to make use of every last second before my mission by fishing in Alaska, spending a few days in the Utah House, and best of all spending precious days with the family. Many of my friends already had a few months of their mission experience under their belts and all I wanted to do was follow in their steps. I still remember the anxious feelings that I had as the countdown began winding down. Then without even realizing it, the night arrived of when I would be set apart by a worthy Stake President. I spent the last few moments of that night trying to imagine how the next two years would be. The date of the next morning was the 22nd of August 2012, my assigned day to enter into the MTC. I finished packing the suitcases and then waited with the family. We left the house and shortly arrived to the MTC. The fact that this would be the last time that I would be with most of my family for 2 years began to dawn on me as the last photos were taken, but the excitement to begin my long awaited mission over powered the other feelings. I was dropped off at the curb of the MTC and, after saying a quick goodbye, walked away while fighting off the desire to look back. I didn´t need to see them in order to know that they were there supporting me in every step that I was going to take.
After spending 2 months in the MTC, I realized that, as I arrived to Chile, my time spent there was meant to easily make the life change. I thought that I had a pretty good grasp on Spanish but once I began talking with the Chileans, I realized two things: 1. There is a Chilean Spanish and 2. They talk SO fast that it seems like they don´t take time to breath! The first area where the Lord needed me to work was in Limarí, Ovalle. My amazing first trainer, Elder King, helped me straight off the bat put my heart into the work. Instead of giving me time to unpack on my first day, we hit the streets and immediately began talking with people. That first experience with my trainer set off the focus of my mission: Spend every minute of the day fulfilling my purpose as missionary. After six weeks, Elder King was sent to Valparaiso and Elder Crist, a missionary who immediately can gain the confidence of anyone, became my second ¨papa¨. We spent the following 3 months underneath the scorching summer sun in Ovalle and it was there where I learned never to complain as Laman and Lemuel always did. There are miracles each and everyday and we decide whether or not to look for them. The Lord then decided that my time was finished in Ovalle and I was sent to Con Con, where Elder Rivera taught me many things about Chile. I was truly blessing to have a Chilean companion because in those 6 weeks I gained a never-ending love for the country of Chile. Through Elder Rivera, I was able to gain a deep understanding of the Chilean culture and understood that the best way to serve these people was by loving them with they same love that they always had for me. I was then able to share all that I had learned with Elder Farnsworth as we spent quite a bit of time in the house as he recovered from the operation he had been given. He also taught me the importance to always put the Lord´s Will before anything else. As he told me all about his life and mission, I seriously thought that Parley P Pratt was sent to be my companion. A converted missionary. The short 3 months in Con Con came to a close as I was called to serve with Elder Yorgason in Parte Alta, Coquimbo. Upon arriving to our sector, I began to realize that I was about to have my first experience with the challenging hills of Chile. I soon learned from my companion that the hills are only challenging if we allow them to discourage us because everyday he would leave with a huge smile and everyone could see how happy he was by the way he walked and talked. I great teaching was left by Elder Yorgason to never let the discouragement dampen my spirits on the mission. Every single door can be shut in our faces or the streets can seem like water slides due to the rain, but if we have a uplifting attitude, we will always be happy. I was able to transmit the same spirit to my next companion Elder Dawson, who was arriving straight from the MTC. We enjoyed our short month together, where he taught me more about repentance than I had learned in my whole life. In that moment I was able to witness the example of a humbled son of God who put the blessing of repentance before his own pride and desires. Elder Morales then replaced my companion and, in the 2 quick weeks together, showed me how one must apply their faith in every single prayer that they offer. I would have loved to have spent 6 more weeks with him, but the Lord had different plans for the second half my mission.
Quillota, the land of the avocados, was calling my name as I arrived to the change meeting. Elder Sosa, a dear friend of mine, and I spent 4 months together and as I think back on the experiences we had together, I begin to understand why I miss that place so much. The members, our converts, the missionaries, and even the sudden trips to other sectors in the zone help me realize how I was changed by focusing on the needs of others. Elder Sosa and I were able to help many people as we truly consecrated ourselves to the work. Elder Brown then replaced him and, through his way of teaching, I saw how the Gospel is the only thing in this world that can truly bring us joy from heaven. My 6 months in Quillota came to a close as I was called to work in my dream area, Valparaiso. Elder Baird introduced me to the amazing city and also left me always looking for the Lord´s Hand in the work. With him we were able to follow the Spirit to God´s children who were waiting for us. Then Elder Bojorquez and I experienced a handful of events that truly changed our perspective on life. Together we were able to help others conquer (sp?) the unexpected trials of this earthly life. Elder Bojorquez also taught me about the importance to deeply think about teachings of Christ so that I can always apply the blessings that come from His sacrifice. Now I find myself in Quilpue and have tried to teach my companion Elder Swindler, all that I have learned in these past 2 years. I don´t think that we were given enough time together but that doesn´t stop me from trying. I don´t feel that I deserve all the blessings that I have received but I know that I must share what I have learned with others.
The truth is that my two years of the mission will shortly end, but my eternal dedication to consecrate myself to the Lord´s work has just begun. I thank you all for the support and prayers made in my behalf. Soon we will see each other and I will try my hardest to tell about the experiences I´ve had on the mission but I believe that only Jesus Christ will be able to truly understand the full change that I have made. I love you all!
Elder Cory Weidman