Sunday, December 29, 2013

December 16

this week was a bit crazy. on wednesday i had to go to the dentist again, and again for the last time on friday. i've felt a bit sick all week, but it was worst on thursday, so i just rested all day thursday until we had to go out to do the baptismal interviews. rodrigo and tamara did fine, but ernan wasnt home, even though we had had a set hour with him, and he's always waiting for us when we have set appointments. on saturday, when we finally thought we'd be able to get some work done before the baptisms, our ceiling fan fell while we were studying and cut elder muñoz' head open, so we had to go to the hospital, and afterwards, didnt get anything done til the baptism. we rarely used the fan, because it made weird noises, and we had always said it was going to kill someone, we just never knew who or when until saturday. he started bleeding, we put some salt on the wound to stop the blood, and went to the hospital where he got three stitches (the wound was like 2 inches long and should've had a lot more than three stitches, but we're in paraguay). he was actually really lucky, cus we had just recently moved the table a foot or two, and if we hadnt it probably wouldve hit him in the temple or the face, and really screwed him up. and even afterwards, saturday only continued to hold problems for us. tamara called and said she didnt want to get baptized on saturday, cus she had done her makeup all fancy and stuff. we decided to just baptize rodrigo on saturday, and baptize tamara sunday morning before church, which was kind of a pain. the wedding was scheduled for 630, and the secretary of the mission called us earlier and said that the judge (the mission has a judge that does weddings in asuncion) had another wedding right after ours so everyone needed to be early, so everybody showed up around 6, and the judge didnt show up til like 6 45. everything went fine in the wedding, but afterwards we went to the font and it was locked, and the other missionaries had left to look for one of their investigators that was also set to get baptized. we called them and they ran back to unlock the font. we also had a bit of trouble getting the baptismal clothes we had in the chapel to fit rodrigo, but everything ended up working out. the next morning we went to the church right away after waking up, and just had a small thing with literally 5 people in total. everything ended up going pretty well in the end. theyre super cool.

we met with hernan a couple times this week, to keep preparing him to get baptized, but he had started expressing some doubts about whether he was ready or not. we explained that their would be an interview to determine that and he didnt need to worry. we set a time for the interview, but when he went to get him and take him to the church with us, he wasnt home. we went to the church to meet up with the zone leaders and elder muñoz and one of the zone leaders went to do the interviews of rodrigo and tamara. afterwards they went to try and find hernan again but he still wasnt there, and wasnt answering his phone. we ended up finding him home the next day, and he told us that he didnt feel ready, and that he hadnt felt anything at church but he had just felt obligated to go by us. he still says he thinks we're good people and sent from God and he's gonna keep reading the book of mormon to keep preparing himself for baptism, but i'm not really sure that he's gonna progress anymore.

miguel is super cool. we went to his house this week to talk with him, and he had read the two pamphlets we had left him and had started to read the book of mormon. he understands everything super well and is super excited to keep learning and to get baptized. based on the current plans, i think he's gonna get baptized this weekend. 

i cant really think of anything else to write, cus we could barely do anything this week, but i do have a ton of pictures to send

Sunday, December 15, 2013

December 9

hola!

this week was both super lame and super cool. lame because on tuesday i got a really bad fever and had to get a root canal and there's an infection in my gums so i may have to get more root canals.

super cool for various reasons. the two packages got here on monday, and are pretty swell. i already dont have any problems with blisters, so a lot of stuff was sent needlessly, but great packages nonetheless.

we also had 5 investigators in church, and we have 3 baptisms set for this saturday. rodrigo and tamara are still solid, and tamara's mom said she would give permission for tamara to get married, cus tamara explained that she legitimately wanted to get married and she wasnt joking around, and her mom agreed. in church on sunday, elder muñoz took off his suit jacket at some point, and rodrigo put it on and said to me ''i'm you're new companion, let's go to the house of ms. tamara and preach to her (cus tamara didnt go to church cus she was visiting her mom).'' he's basically a super awesome guy.

Hernan is set to be baptized this saturday too. at times he doesnt understand very well, but what's cool is that when people dont understand things very well and they recognize that, they're more humble so they can feel the spirit and accept our teachings that much more easily, and thats what's going on with him. he always mentions how great it feels to be in the chapel, and after church ends, it's harder to get him to leave than it was to get him here in the first place (that can also be attributed in part to that we think that he likes one of the girls in the ward). hopefully his mom will be able to see his example and testimony and follow in his steps. his mom is cool and has noticed a change in hernan and sometimes gives us food and listens in when we teach hernan, but she hasnt been able to come to church yet.

nelly didnt come to church, and she also hasnt been able to stop smoking yet. its sad cus she seems to like everything that we teach and have a testimony but she's just not willing to make the effort necessary. it's also hard to teach her, cus theres a good chance that when we go to her house there will also be 5 other people who are gonna have questions and distract us.

we also got a new investigator named miguel who seems super solid (and rich). we were walking one day to a members house, and greeted some people sitting outside their house drinking tereré (when paraguayans are relaxing, they sit outside and drink tereré or mate, which are herbal drinks) and just kept walking. when we were like 20 feet away, we heard someone shouting 'elderes!' so we went back, and it turns out one of the guys is a member, and was visiting his brother. he said ''this is my brother, i want you guys to baptize him.'' we set a date to come back and teach him, and taught him on saturday. we invited him to go to church and he said yeah and went, and we didnt even need to stop by to remind him or anything. turns out he had listened to the lessons 20 years ago when his brother was baptized, but never went to church.

we found one more new investigator who also seems super solid. we had often greeted a group of boys that hang out around a certain point in the area but never paid any more attention to them than that. one had asked us on various occasions to visit his house, but always ignored him. we finally went on friday and taught his dad. we taught him faith, (which we usually teach in conjunction with the rest of the gospel) and after we finished elder muñoz started to close the lesson, which confused me a bit, but i went along with it. we taught him to pray and invited him to offer the closing prayer, and he said he would do it. we closed our eyes and waited a while, but nothing. we weren't sure why he wasnt praying, so we explained again how to pray. after a few more attempts, he told us that he couldnt, that he felt a pain in his throat and chest when he tried. he then explained to us that he drinks, and he wants to stop. we taught him about the first vision and joseph smith's experience with being overcome by satan, and finally got him to pray. we asked when we could come back, and he said ''tomorrow'', like he really wants to learn. he doesnt understand very well, but he is showing real desires to learn and to be able to change. it was really a cool experience, because it helped me understand better why jesus would say in the bible that people are blind or sick or something to be able to show his power. i originally didnt understand it, and considered it unfair, that God would make people sick to show off, but now i see that really He just lets satan work among men so that men have opportunities to practice their faith, and that if they practice their faith, God will show that He is stronger than the devil.

cant think of anything else so there you go

December 2

this week was pretty swell. it rained a ton, but i was smart this time and put all my stuff in plastic bags, so nothing got wet. i also ended up wearing my rain coat, but my shirt got soaked anyways. when it's raining there's almost nothing to do, cus most of paraguay is sleeping. we still had a pretty good week though, and had 5 investigators in church, 4 of whom have their baptismal date for next saturday!

Hernan finally went to church, also we find out that his name is spelt with an 'h'. we visited him last tuesday with robert and raquel, 2 teenagers from the ward who both got baptized about 7 months ago. they both shared their testimonies and we invited him to go to church with us on sunday, and he said yes. the spirit was super strong when raquel and robert shared their testimonies, and you could tell that he felt it. after church yesterday, we talked to him a bit and he said he really felt the spirit, and he conceded that we had been right all those times that we had told him just to come and see. he said he's gonna come to church every sunday now, and he's set to be baptized on the 14th. we visited him on thursday too, and invited him to invite his girlfriend (who we had never met) to church as well. when we said her name, he asked 'who?' and he then confessed that he had never really had a girlfriend, which was a bit funny, and shows that he's really changed in the time that we've been visiting him.

Rodrigo and Tamara are still solid, but are having a bit of difficulties. tamara's mom doesn't want her to marry rodrigo, and since she's only 17, her mom's signature is 100% necessary for both the wedding and the baptism. they have their date set for the 14th, since rodrigo's mom is going to be in town, but without the signature of tamara's mom, there's no way anythings gonna happen. they come to church every sunday, and they've learned a ton and want to be baptized, but they have this roadblock. in gospel principles we were talking about the signs of the second coming and an investigator of the other missionaries asked if the terrorists in the middle east would be saved (or something like that, i dont remember exactly) and rodrigo said 'if they repent.' it was pretty funny, and also shows how well he already understands the things we've been teaching them.

Nelly also went, when she had previously said she wouldnt be able to, because she was planning on going to some special catholic site in caacupe. her mom ended up getting sick saturday night, so nelly had to stay home and care for her mom, and then was able to go to church here. she understands everything well and is progressing well, her only problem is that she cant stop smoking. we taught word of wisdom weeks ago, but never followed up and emphasized it's importance until last week, so she may start doing better, but we'll see. she has a date for the 14th, but wont be able to get baptized unless she stops smoking by the 7th. her brother elvis and her sister natalia also said they were going to go to church, but were sleeping when sunday morning came around. they're cool too, they just need to develop a bit more spiritual strength to be able to dominate their flesh and go to church.

we also tried to bring another investigator, miguel. we have never taught him in his house, as he's usually hanging out in a different house where we've taught him a few times. he tried to explain to us where he lived, but we couldnt make much sense of it. we tried visiting him on saturday, and found what we thought was his house. we passed by on sunday, knocked, and somebody woke up and opened the window a bit to talk to us, but the voice seemed unfamiliar. we asked 'are you miguel?', to which he replied yes. we asked 'miguel sarata?' and he said no, to which we apologized and left. it was pretty funny.

the branch here is awesome, every day my appreciation and love for this branch and this area grows. today they started a 40 day fast to help the missionary work in this area, and to be able to convert into a ward, and we've already seen the blessings from this fast in the 4 baptisms we should have on the 14th.

please pray that rodrigo, tamara, nelly, and hernan can get baptized on the 14th! if anything happens and they can't, there's a chance i'll leave before they get baptized cus the 14th is the last saturday in this transfer :(

November 25

this week didnt have any days that were really super hot, which was cool. we had interviews with the mission president on tuesday, which lasted most of the day, and by the time we were done it was raining harder than i've ever seen it rain in my life. we still had two hours of study to do, so elder munoz and i went back to the house. when we got to the street that separated us from a house, it was a river probably about 3 inches deep, at least. we crossed it and got inside, and everything that i had had with me was wet. my spanish preach my gospel is in horrible shape, and my scriptures aren't in super great shape either. it was pretty crazy.
rodrigo and tamara didnt get baptized last weekend, cus they wanted to be able to plan their wedding well, and as of tuesday, hadnt done any of the necessary plans. it's now set for this saturday, but thats not sure either, cus this sundays fast sunday and in south america you start fasting after lunch the day before instead of after dinner, so we're going to see if we can change it to either be in the morning on saturday or on friday. hopefully it works out.
the only investigator we had at church was rodrigo, cus this week was stake conference so it's a bit harder to get people to go. tamara didnt go cus she was visiting family. nelly had said she would go, and her brother elvis as well, and we said we would pass by to go with them, but when we got to their house nobody was awake. we taught them as a family this week (along with another sister and their mother) and it was a crazy lesson. nelly and elvis have good potential, and their mom and sister could follow their example maybe, but every one of them has different doubts and different questions, and it's impossible to help them all in one lesson. if we focus on teaching nelly and answering her questions, it's just going to go over the heads of lorena and their mom. if we focus on motivating elvis, it's not gonna help nelly, and lorena is going to be telling elvis to just tell us that he doesnt want to, when he does want to, he's just lazy. if we focus on the doubts of lorena and answering her questions, we're wasting time going over things 5 times that we've already gone over with the rest, and which the rest already understand and accept.
we made an awesome contact this week too. we were looking for a reference, and asked an older man on the street if he knew where she lived, and he replied that he didnt but afterwards said 'teach me about mormonism'. elder munoz and i were just like sure thing, and started teaching lesson one. almost right away, he interrupted us and started asking questions about the gold plates, so we taught him about the book of mormon a bit. he took one and said he would read it. we saw him again the next day, and talked with him a bit more, and he's just super prepared to hear the gospel. he commented to us that nothing that we had taught conflicted with the bible, and that nowhere in the bible does it say that God cant talk to people other than the israelites, which was super awesome, cause it's usually a battle to get people to realize that. i testified to him that the church was the church of Jesus Christ, and that it had been established on the earth by a prophet called of God, to which he responded 'i believe you'. that moment was amazing; i felt like ammon when he was teaching king lamoni. he's brazilian and has a weird accent, and sometimes he throws in portuguese words that i dont understand, but i can get the general meaning just the same. i didnt even realize that at times he wasnt speaking spanish until elder muñoz told me afterwards. also we're not sure if he even lives in our area, cus both times we've talked to him at his place of work, so hopefully he does, cus he's super awesome.
elder muñoz made me eat chicken foot this week. we bought an entire chicken last monday, and by saturday we had run out of all our food except the last parts of the chicken and some noodles. it really wasnt that bad, it's just that when i was in china i didnt know how to eat it, but now i do.

November 18

another hot week in paraguay. the heat here is really just ridiculous. on friday, it got up to 100 before lunch. around 3 it rained for half an hour or so then stopped, which just made it worse cus it didnt rain long enough to make it cool down, and the rain evaporated and made it super humid. a bit later though it started raining again and didnt stop, so it cooled down a bit. from what i've noticed, the weather has a cycle that lasts about a week. it'll rain, and be relatively cool for a few days, and gradually get hotter until it's super duper blazing hot, and then it rains again. if this continues throughout the summer, i might manage to actually survive.

but anyways. we have rodrigo and tamara set to be married and baptized this saturday, but we've been running into some problems. they didnt go to church yesterday, cus the member that they live with is travelling, and we havent seen them since friday, so we havent been able to set the details of everything very well yet. also we have stake conference this week, so they cant get married/baptized saturday afternoon, which is kind of a pain. also, because we havent been able to see them as much as we had planned, i'm not sure that we'll be able to get them completely ready by this weekend. they definitely do have real desires and real testimonies, but i'm just not sure that we'll be able to do everything we need to do in the short time we have. they asked us a bit about the rules of missionaries and stuff, so we explained a bit about how we dedicate basically every moment in the two years to missionary work. rodrigo asked if we had girlfriends back home, and after i replied no, he told me to visit him in paraguay when i'm done with my mission and he'd be happy to introduce me to someone, which was funny.

we had one investigator in church yesterday, which is a bit sad after having 5 last week, but its still pretty cool. this investigator, nelly, is super spiritually hungry, like every time we talk to her she has a ton of questions and just wants more knowledge every time. i think her parents are members, and she used to go to church with her family 16 years ago, but she was never baptized. shes awesome, we invited her to church, and she said she would go, but that she was gonna go a bit later, so we didnt bother passing by on sunday morning. she showed up after the first hour, and told us that her friends had invited her to go party last night but she denied cus she wanted to be able to wake up on time to get to church. her only problem is that she smokes and drinks, but she should be able to stop without too much trouble after she goes to church a few times and is reading the scriptures.

we also had an inactive member come too, which was awesome. he's actually the elders quorum president, but hadnt been to church in two years or so. we had visited him once before, a month or so ago, and visited him again on saturday. he showed up to church on sunday, and came to ward council and everything too. the branch president had an interview with him, and said he's excited to be back and to be helping again, which is awesome.

we visited ernan again too, and had two awesome lessons. we watched the 20 minute video about joseph smith with him and he related with him super well, like he's confused and wants to learn more about God, and we committed him to go to church with us and he agreed. we went by sunday morning and he said the same thing he had said every other time, that he had commitments to go to his church, and that he couldnt come with us. he's always awesome when we're teaching him, and he shows desires to learn and understand and stuff, and he reads the assignments we give him in the book of mormon, but he just wont ask in prayer if the church is true, and he wont come to church with us.

elder Christofferson was cool. both paraguay missions went, asuncion and asuncion north. i got to see all the people from my mtc group, which was cool. he wanted to greet every person individually, so all the missionaries made a line to shake his hand. that was cool too. for a lot of the time, he just answered various questions that the missionaries had, which was awesome. he's a really humble guy, like he opened up saying that sometimes when he studies the scriptures with his wife, she asks him questions that he doesnt know how to answer, and said that he doesnt know everything, but then when we were asking him questions, he would pull out scriptures that answered the questions perfectly, it was inspiring how well he knew the scriptures.

Elder barahona, the new elder in our apartment, is a cool guy. we went on splits on wednesday and we get along super well, we have a similar sense of humor and everything.

this week's been a bit difficult in that robert, one of the members who would accompany us like every day, cant accompany us anymore, cus he has school and had been helping us as an excuse to not go to school. the branch president reprimanded us and told us that we cant use him anymore, so we had only a fraction of the number of lessons that we usually have with members present.

First Marriage Proposal

one more story that i forgot to include. yesterday after church we were visiting an inactive woman, who's family is all inactive or nonmember. i'm not sure how the subject came up, but she said that her daughters dont like mormons because mormons all have a girlfriend waiting for them in the US (speaking about the missionaries). she asked my companion if he had a girlfriend waiting and he said yes, she asked me and i said no, and she replied oh good i need to introduce you to my daughter. so there you go, my first marriage proposal.

November 11

this week was sweet. we had four investigators at church yesterday (really six, but two dont count cus one only stayed for the first hour, when we have sacrament meeting the third hour, and the other is only eight), and we didnt bring any of them. every sunday before church, we walk around to a bunch of our investigators and invite them to church, but often they're sleeping or dont want to go or something, and that was the case this week, but members in our area brought 6 people. the couple that came last week came again, they're super solid. we've been teaching them a lot and they're set to be baptized on the 23rd, they just need to get married. that shouldnt be a problem though as the mission has a lawyer to do marriages and pays half the cost; the only possible problem is that tamara's only 17, so she would need to get permission from her parents. elder muñoz calls them 'dry members' (members who havent gotten baptized yet)
Santiago, the cousin of the girl who got baptized on the 26th, came with his cousin and grandma. he's cool, and has told his grandma that he wants to listen to us and get baptized, but his mom doesnt like us at all. he lives in the same house as talia and her grandma, but cant join us unless his mom isnt home, so its kinda tough to teach him and its very unlikely that he'll get baptized, since the parents have to give permission.
The ward mission leader brought three people, his wife, his granddaughter (i think) and a friend. he got baptized a year or two ago, and his wife took the lessons too, but she didnt want to get baptized, and this was her first time coming to church since i've been here. we go to his house on thursdays for correlation meeting and his wifes always super nice and stuff, so she seems cool. he also gave a talk, and i didnt understand all of it, but he was talking about how happy he was that his wife came to church and it mustve been touching cus he was crying, so hopefully she'll keep coming, and want to get baptized. there's another recent convert who's wife is super catholic who we've been considering trying to teach, and he was crying during the talk so hopefully it helped motivate him to do a bit more too.
also, we had transfers this week, and the old district leader (elder cabrera from peru) left and we got a new district leader (elder barahona from ecuador). he seems like a pretty cool guy, but he's also a bit more reserved so i havent got to know him very well yet.
also tomorrow Elder Christofferson is coming to paraguay and we're going to listen to him! i'm super stoked.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Pictures!



baptism

view from our apartment



view of our apartment (we live on the second floor, our bedroom is the lift window, the doors to the balcony is the general area, where we study, and the right window is the bedroom of the other elders. we enter by the barred door garage thingy on the bottom right, behind the truck theres a little shop, and the owner lives behind the shop and garage)

Busy Week!

this week has been incredibly busy, i feel like we didnt even have any time to work. monday was pday, tuesday was district meeting (and even when we have district meeting we still have to do the four hours of study a day), wednesday there was a meeting in the mission office, we got back around 4 or 5, proselyted for a couple hours, and went back to the apartment at 7 to study, on thursday, we had daily planning, so didn't leave until around 3, and friday we had zone training, so the only full day we had was saturday.

nevertheless, it was still a pretty cool week. we found multiple people this week who have already had experiences with the church, but arent members, and have started teaching them. one, esteban, was about to be baptized in argentina, but then he moved to paraguay. he's pretty chill, and seems like a solid guy. his older brother smokes and drinks and does drugs and stuff, and it seems as though his brothers bad example has kept him away from those things. he said he was gonna go to church yesterday, but when we stopped by, he was either not there, or not awake.

another, elvis, used to go to church when he was a kid with his mom. i'm not sure if his moms a member or not, but they havent been in a long time. we contacted him and his friend, eligio, and gave them a lesson 1 booklet. we taught them a few days later, and eligio had read it and had questions about joseph smith and stuff, which was super cool, cus it's usually a battle to get people to read all the time, and people almost never act just from a contact. they said they were going to go to church, but that it was a bit early, so they'd come a bit later, but they didnt show up either, which was a shame.

the third, liz, has gone to church twice, but said that the missionaries just wanted her to get baptized (apparently there was a transfer coming up and they wanted her to get baptized before the change), and she told us that she just felt a ton of pressure to get baptized when she really just wanted to learn more first. she was busy this sunday, but she's cool, and hopefully she'll keep progressing.

Maria and jorge didnt come either, even though she promised us they would go with talia and her grandma when we passed by in the morning. she's still reading, but jorge's almost never there and hasn't been doing anything. she shows some desire, but if she never goes to church she's never going to get anywhere.

Glorias similar, she said she read, but when we ask her what she learned, she just says 'muchas cosas' which is the typical paraguayan response. I think my companion put it pretty well when he said 'if you can get a paraguayan to go to church, you can get anyone to go to church. people here often love listening to our message and stuff, but when it comes down to it, they dont want to make any more effort than that.

on to good news though, theres an older woman in our area who had previously lived alone, but is now renting out a room to a young couple, and she brought them to church yesterday, and they stayed for all 3 hours. theyre not married, but they said they'd like to get married, and we're gonna go visit and teach them today.


Sunday, November 3, 2013

First Baptism!

1st baptism! The Lord is truly working miracles in Paraguay. this girl, Talia, had been taught by the missionaries a year or two ago, and her grandma got baptized, but she ''didnt want anything to do with baptism.'' Elder muñoz and i had passed by a couple times to say hi and invite them to church, but nothing more. one day, she just showed up at church and that week she told us she wanted to get baptized. i honestly feel like i didnt do anything in this, it was all the Lord. of course, we visited almost every day in the past couple weeks and shared messages, but our efforts wouldn't have amounted to anything if she hadn't been prepared.

we've had some other pretty cool experiences too, in finding people. we started teaching a family who lives near Talia, who is friends with her, and they're practically ready to get baptized. the mom is a member, but inactive, and her son and his girlfriend are awesome. after our first lesson, we invited them to read the scriptures and pray together that night (to the guy and his girlfriend (who also lives there)) and the next day we visited them to ask them if they had read, the girl, maria, said that they had, and that she had felt something really special, and had felt closer as a family. on top of that, the guy, jorge, had found a job the next day, when he had previously not had work. its amazing to actually see the power this gospel has. 

we also found a girl named gloria, who, when we taught her about the book of mormon, said she already had one. some missionaries had given it to her years ago, but never followed up. she had never read it, but still had it, and she said she already knew it was scripture from God, because three times, she had tried to throw it away when she was tidying up, but each time, had just instantly gotten a headache, that went away when she decided to not throw it away. we havent been able to follow up with her yet, but its just incredible how when we follow the Spirit, we can find people that have truly been prepared to hear us. there's a ton more cool stories, but i don't have a ton of time, and hopefully they'll be more relevant later.

sorry i havent been sending a ton of pictures, it's just that a lot of the computers arent in very good shape, and the usb ports dont work. ill try to send some next week.

i got the package from grandma on tuesday, which was awesome. i've been studying Jesus the Christ a ton, it's a super awesome book. i read it in all of my spare time, and i can barely bring myself to put it down. 

i also went on splits this week with one of the zone leaders, elder asay. from what we can tell, his dad is cousins with brother asay's dad. he's a super chill guy and an awesome missionary. i also realized that i'm incredibly blessed to have the area that i have, because both times that i've gone on splits, the areas have had more fields and stuff and there's been a ton more mosquitos, whereas my area is nearly all just streets and buildings, and theres not many mosquitos.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Miracles & Disappointments

this week has been full of miracles and disappointments. on tuesday, we visited the sort-of investigator who went to church on sunday, and she said she wanted to get baptized so we set a date for the 19th (last saturday). Everything was going solid and she wanted to get baptized up until friday night, when she had a fight with her grandma over a pair of shoes, and she said she didnt want to get baptized anymore and the grandma said the baptism was not going to happen, at least not that week. we were able to reawaken Talia´s desire to get baptized pretty easily, but the grandma would not budge, no matter what we did. at one point we were talking to her and she called her son in to support her (who's probably about 30) and after he heard the story he sided with us, and tried to get her to budge, but even then, she would not change her mind. nevertheless, we went to prepare the baptismal font just in case, and while we were prepping it, we got a call from marcelo. he asked 'today's my baptism, isnt it?' we said yes and told him to be there at 5:30 for an interview and then he could get baptized with talia at 6. we were at talia's house until around 5:15 trying to change the grandmas mind before we gave up and rushed to the chapel to hope to meet marcelo. we caught a ride most of the way to the chapel in the back of a police truck, which was pretty cool, and made it there just after 5:30, but marcelo wasn't there. we waited for about an hour, and tried calling him a couple times, but he never showed up and he never answered. we passed by his house sunday morning to invite him to church, and he's just not getting anywhere. he's read quite a bit of the book of mormon (when we were talking with him he started talking about alma and his sons, which we had never assigned him to read) but he just doesnt want to go forward without constant assurance from God, he doesnt realize he just needs to act on faith and the knowledge that he's already received. afterwards, we called talia, and she and her grandma said they werent going to be able to make it to church, which was just another huge blow, but they ended up going anyways. we also saw ernan walking and invited him, but he said he was on his way to his church, and that he'd go with us next week (which he said last week too). he's awesome, and wants to be good and learn and stuff, but he just doesnt want to go to church. we taught him the law of chastity, and that same day he took down a bunch of porn he had on his wall and stuff, but we cant get him to realize that reading the scriptures and praying and going to church is right up there with the rest of the commandments.
anyways, it's super hot here, and i think i'm not going to be able to survive the summer. i sat down to study this morning and was already dripping sweat, at 8 in the morning, and it's only gonna get worse. the blisters are fun too. i've honestly lost count of how many i've had. i'm literally getting blisters on my blisters. they're not too bad though, you get kinda used to it after a while.
cant think of anything else, so here you go

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Teaching

twas a long week. the weathers been a bit weird here this week, on tuesday it was as hot as blazes, and then it was raining on and off for the rest of the week. the rain is super nice, just because it means i wont be sweating very much. unless we're in somebody's house, cus then it's still hot. the stone roads are actually kinda nice when it's raining, cus you walk on the stones and your shoes are generally kept away from the mud and water.
we had zone conference this week, which was pretty cool, except for the fact that it was on the hottest day of the week, we had to wear our suits, and it was at the stake center, so it took a long walk and a bus ride to get there.
my companion felt that we could have more success if we started using the area book and visiting old investigators, so we pulled out a few that we felt we should visit. the first one we visited, marcelo, was awesome, he invited us in right away and asked if he should grab his book of mormon, which looked pretty well used. from what i could tell, he was basically ready to be baptized, so we set a date for this saturday, the 19th, and invited him to go to the english class we have every thursday at the church and also to attend church on sunday, and he agreed to go to both. we planned to call him before the class to remind him, but when the class rolled around, i realized we had forgotten. i was on splits with elder lambert for the class, since his companion needed to do a baptismal interview in a different district, so either i had to call him and remind him or i just had to hope he came. i decided i would call him and try my best to understand and communicate my message, but when i pulled out the phone to find his number, there were two marcelo's, and no way to distinguish between them except by the numbers. i decided to try my luck and call one, and i ended up calling the right one. he was busy, but he showed up for the last ten minutes or so and for the spiritual thought which i gave at the end. afterwards he asked to talk to me about the scriptures and stuff, and he told me he knew he needed to get baptized and that the church was true, and it was just awesome. when we went to get him to bring him to church on sunday though, he said he had talked to his friends from his church and they talked him out of it, and he didnt come, and i just felt so discouraged walking to church, and now have no idea what's gonna happen with him. either way, he can't get baptized this saturday anymore.
another solid investigator we had been teaching, ernan, seems to be faltering as well. we stopped by to bring him to church (he had said he´d be waiting for us) and he was asleep. his mom woke him up, and he said that something else had come up, and that he wasn't sure about all this anymore. one of his excuses was that he's catholic, which just about made me cry, cus we hear that from street contacts all the time, but he's been so solid and has wanted to learn and grow closer to God this whole time, but now he pulls that out.
so the two investigators that i was sure were gonna come to church didnt come, but we were able to get someone else to come, and when we got there, there was another, who's only sort of an investigator, and whom we didn't even visit this week. she lives with her grandma, who's an inactive member, and they always want us to stop by their house, but never show up to church. when we saw them in sacrament meeting it was just like 'woah!' a recent convert in the branch, francisca, who's super awesome told her she needs to get baptized, and she said that she's been baptized in a different church but francisca was just straight up and told her you need to get baptized in the church of Jesus Christ. francisca has a super strong testimony and is always super direct with people about it; she just tells 'em how it is.
in a sense, it's sometimes kinda hard to teach effectively here, cus people are generally a bit timid and can't express their feelings or thoughts very well, so it's hard to tell whether they're understanding what you're teaching or not, and to find out what their difficulties are. we've been teaching a family who seems pretty solid, and they always let us in if they're home, but it's hard to get them to talk a lot, so it's hard to find out exactly where they are in their understanding and progression. on the other hand, there's also people who just talk a ton and don't give you any time to teach. we're teaching an old guy, who seems pretty receptive, but he'll just go on and on, about his knowledge of the bible, about his sins, about anything really. he's always willing to hear our message and read whatever we give him, because he says if he rejects us he's rejecting God, which is cool, but we don't even get to speak until like 10 minutes in. he says he used to be a preacher or something of the sort, and he'll talk about the bible forever; i think he's just trying to show off a bit, and show us that he's intelligent and understand. it's funny though cus sometimes he just gets things completely wrong, but has no idea and just goes on and on about it. he's cool though, and seems willing to learn. it's gonna be interesting trying to fix all the misinformation though

Conference Week

i dont even know where to start. conference was awesome, but we had to go to the stake center to watch it, which is about 20 minutes away by bus. on saturday we took the wrong bus, and had to walk up the street for 10 minutes or so to get to it, and were about 15 minutes late. we were at the stake center til 10 pm saturday night cus of the priesthood session, and by the time it was done, all the buses had stopped running. the four of us that live together ended up catching a ride most of the way back in the back of some random guys pickup truck. on sunday, we ended up taking a different wrong bus, but managed to make it on time by taking a taxi from the bus stop to the stake center.

the rest of the week was pretty much the standard stuff. wake up, exercise, eat frosted flakes, shower, study for four hours, go eat lunch, then proselyte til 9 or 9:30, at which point we plan and have dinner if we didnt eat during the day. the food is still generally pretty awesome, and the soda is super good too, they have a bunch of flavors of fruits that dont even exist in the states. on saturday, between sessions, we had these things called lomitos (i think) which are basically like burritos, except with flat bread instead of a tortilla, and filled with meat.

i went on splits this week with the other elder that lives with us, who's only been in the field for 7 weeks. that was certainly interesting; two white guys who still can't understand paraguayans very well. it was cool though. 

a lot of the members here are awesome. on thursday, we only taught one lesson without a member, and we were straight teaching lessons for most of the day. it can be a bit of a hassle to get members to go with us though, as there are two pairs of elders in the branch, and only so many people that can go out with us. its awesome though how willing they are to accompany us and how happy they are to support the work.

we had one investigator come to one session of conference, which was cool. Elder muñoz found him on wednesday though, when we were doing splits, so i dont know him very well. he seems bright, but doesnt really seem to understand our purpose, or that if he wants change in his life he's going to have to enact it. the rest of our investigators all seemed to have some excuse, or weren't there when we dropped by to invite them. one of the hardest things here is getting people to actually do stuff. they're happy to have us come by and teach them a lesson, but they almost never read or pray or do the stuff we ask them. we had one investigator who we visited this week, we asked him if he had read and he replied that he had, and i was just like ''wait what?'' it was an awesome feeling though

Pictures

my companion and i

flags at the airport
my district with the branch president and his wife in the mtc


First Week in Paraguay

this week has been crazy. we met our companions on wednesday. my companion, elder muñoz, is from ecuador, and it's his third time training. he speaks a bit of english, and i think he can understand it pretty well. another one of the elders training was brandon's last companion, and he took a picture with me and said he was gonna send it to brandon, so brandon should have a picture of me. there's two other elders that we live with as well, one is from peru, and the other is from north carolina, and has only been out six weeks longer than me. they're pretty cool dudes. our area is called san isidro i think

right when we got to our area, we just went out and started proselyting. most of the roads here are just rocks and dirt, which is kind of a pain to walk on. we have a few investigators, but time does not mean the same thing here as it does in the US. we can make appointments, but then we go and the people aren't home, so we just drop by whenever we have time, and see if they're available for a lesson. sometimes they are, and sometimes they aren't. it ends up being a heck of a lot of walking every day. there's one investigator who we had visited a few times, but had never been able to meet with us until saturday cus he was always busy or something. elder muñoz had taught him once before i came, and when we got there on saturday and he let us in, we saw that he had been reading a Jehovah´s witness magazine, which right away worried me a bit. he said he was confused about why the book of mormon was necessary if we had the bible, and how the whole thing just doesn't make sense. he asked why wouldn't the bible talk about the book of mormon at all if they really are both books of God, and we showed him ezekiel 37 and john 10, and explained how the bible does talk about the book of mormon.  i bore testimony of the book of mormon and it was just an awesome lesson. until then i had been questioning the mission and what i'm doing here, but that helped me realize that sometimes it's gonna seem hard, but all the walking, and clapping, and uninterested people are a necessary part of the process of finding the people who really want to learn and change; it's a package deal.

the other elders that live with us had a baptism this week, and the couple got married before the baptism. one of the people who was supposed to be a witness at the wedding didn't show up, so they asked me to do it, so i've been a witness at a wedding. i suppose that's pretty notable.

the paraguayan accent can be super hard to understand, especially the older people. some people i can understand just fine, but others talk super fast, or mumble all the time, or throw in a ton of guarani, and i get absolutely nothing of what they're saying. most of the time i can just let my companion answer, but when they're talking directly to me, that doesn't work.

for the most part, the food has been pretty good. they have awesome empanadas here. the fruit is awesome too, as well as the juice. their apple juice is thick and white, and tastes like it was just taken straight from the fruit, it's amazing. someone feeds us lunch every day, but we almost never eat dinner until we've gotten home at 9:30 and make something for ourselves. i haven't eaten anything super weird, but the first day for lunch, we had tortillas (the paraguayan kind, not the mexican kind) with just straight beans and some weird fruit or vegetable. the tortillas were good, but the bean salad thing tasted really earthy, and wasn't that great. i haven't had any taquitos, as far as i can tell they don't use mexican style tortillas at all.

the first night here, our power was out (it had been out for a few days at that point) so i had to unpack by candlelight, and take a cold shower the next morning. it was quite the experience. they don't have water heaters here, they just use shower heads that have wires and heat up the water as it passes through, which is interesting. also, the drain in our kitchen sink doesn't work, so one half is always just full of gross water and the other half, we disconnected the drain and we have a bucket under it to catch the water. nobody ever wants to empty the bucket, so there's almost always water on our kitchen floor, which is kind of a pain.

my 20s worked fine at the airport, and while we were waiting for our visas, i was holding all the money (3000 something dollars). president Agazzani saw that and joked that I may be the next finance person in the office.

the branch here only has about 30 people, and the majority of them are woman. there's no pianist, so after general conference, i'm going to be the branch pianist. the branch president doesn't live in the branch, cus there's so few males in the branch. all the people seem friendly. both us and the other companionship that lives with us are in the same branch. all the people in paraguay in general are way nice and friendly. something weird though is that they use adios for both hello and goodbye, so people will just say adios to us on the street, and i still haven't gotten used to it,

this computer doesn't have a usb port, so i'll send some pictures in another email.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

In Paraguay!

made it to paraguay! 32 hours of traveling killed me though. we've just been doing training and stuff today, and i meet my companion tomorrow. i was able to talk to a few people in the airports, and on the planes and stuff, in both english and spanish, which was cool. don't have much time, but just wanted to say hi.

Last Week in the MTC

 me and elders petrungaro, halverson, and galke. they left on monday, but before they left, i'd often work out with them.



me and elders tate and bowman at the temple, cus the three of us are gonna be companions for about an hour on monday morning, after elder davis leaves but before i leave.
the guys from my district and some of the guys from 11D


Only 4 more days! My plane leaves at 8:08 on monday morning, so I'll probably be leaving the MTC at around 4 am. I'm so stoked to get out of here, and actually do stuff. We went to the temple today, and afterwards, we walked out and saw some missionaries we didn't recognize, which was odd, as all the missionaries that went today were in my zone, and I can at least recognize all of them. After a few seconds of thought, we realized that they weren't in the MTC, and were just missionaries assigned to Mexico City. After we realized that, somebody said, 'Oh, they're real missionaries.' While I think it's a bit funny that we make a distinction, it does feel as though it is legitimate, and I can't wait to be a real missionary.
 
This week was pretty sweet. On Monday was the Mexican independence day, so on Saturday we all went to the auditorium for an hour or two and watched a bunch of Mexican dances and then on Sunday night, we watched the 'grito', which is where the Mexican president goes out on the balcony in the main square in Mexico City and yells '¡Viva Mexico!' and a ton of other stuff and then everybody watching yells '¡Viva!' and its broadcasted on tv and stuff. It was a pretty cool experience. After the grito, they told us to go right back to our dorms so that we didn't die, cus apparently a ton of people shoot guns in the air, and the bullets gotta come back down eventually.
 
We taught Pamela again this week, and had an awesome lesson. We brought her a pack of cookies, and basically taught Alma 32 except comparing the word to cookies instead of a seed. I feel like we really got to her, and she understood what we were trying to teach, which at the beginning seemed like it would be quite difficult, but it went awesomely. We're done teaching Luis, since everyone had committed him to baptism, and now we're teaching Julio. I haven't actually taught him yet, but from what the people who have taught him said, he's pretty tough.
 
I spoke twice on sunday. I was initially told I was speaking in district meeting, and then also ended up speaking in sacrament meeting. The clock is wrong in the room where we had district meeting, so the other speakers took longer than they were supposed to on accident, so all I had time to do was share the story at the end of Acts 8, about the eunech, and bore my testimony. When sacrament meeting came around, President Jewell realized he had made a mistake, and that Elder Bowman was supposed to speak when he had not been informed earlier. Because he hadn't been informed earlier, he had not brought his talk to sacrament meeting, and wasn't prepared to speak. I volunteered to take his place, as I still had at least five minutes of material I could speak on, and it went pretty well, I think. In sacrament meeting I talked about Alma 32 and also shared the story in Mark 9:23-24. It was actually pretty funny that it happened that way, cus as we were walking to priesthood meeting (which is first) President Jewell was joking about having me speak twice, and giving two completely different talks. When it actually happened that way, I thought it was humorous.
 
On tuesday, we had a devotional from Elder de Hoyos, who is in the area presidency. I had a hard time paying attention, but the district devotional review we had was awesome. District leader Davis had me lead the discussion, cus I was in his chair, and he said he couldn't lead without his chair, so I did. I always prefer the district reviews over the actual devotionals, cus I often don't pay attention very well, but then in the review, I can pay attention fine cus I'm participating, and everyone brings up all the best points, so it's like I didn't miss anything. I probably shared around half of Matthew 10 at various points during the review. It's the chapter where Christ is instructing his apostles, and it's awesome cus it's amazingly applicable to missionary work.
 
trivia question of the week: where is Joseph Smith mentioned in the bible?
 


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Little Mermaid

 the MTC installed a swimming pool!
getting in touch with my artistic side
missionary haircut

sign on campus that i thought was funny
 
the food here just keeps getting better and better; we've had those taquitos a few times in the past week, and everything else is improving too. on topmof that, Mexican independence day is this weekend, so the comedor's been really festive all week, and there's been mexican candy out every day. i feel like everything's just now picking up, as the MTC has only been in service for a couple months. some guys that were leaving last week told us that the food had been consistently horrible when they got here, and now it's only horrible about once a week or so, so i'm definitely glad i got here when i did. i still can't wait to leave though. one day when i was showering i wrote a parody of part of that world from little mermaid in my head. here's what i got so far:
 
I want to be where the investigators are,
I want to see, want to see them learning.
Walking around in those -what do you call them?- street clothes!
up where they learn,
up where we teach,
up where we invite others to come unto Christ (you gotta sing that part really fast)
I want to be,
out of the MTC,
part of that woooooorld
 
but really, the next two weeks could not go fast enough. two of the elders in my district, Elder Peñate and Elder Loertscher, got three extra days tacked onto the end of their time at the mtc, cus there's a GA touring their mission, and their mission president wants to be there when they arrive, so they leave three days late. i guess i'm better off than them, but i still can't wait til i'm out of here. We're done teaching 'Esmerelda', one of our 'investigators', and we've started teaching a new one, 'Pamela'. it was all i could do to not bust up laughing during the lesson, cus of some of the things she said, like how she had met with the elders before but only because she thought they were cute, and then she was embarrassed and never let them in again. all she cares about are friends and money, so it's a bit tough to teach her. i suppose it'll be a good experience though.
 
every sunday, we watch an old mtc devotional, and some mormon movie. it's funny watching movies in an auditorium full of missionaries, cus whenever somebody kisses or anything romantic happens or is said, everyone makes a huge deal about it. the devotional we watched this week was awesome too, it was one that elder holland gave in January. after the video we said our goodbyes to district 11D, cus they left this week. their class was across the hall from ours, and they were mostly super cool. i'll send a pic of them in a different email, cus this one doesn't have anymore room.
 
one day in the past week, i don't remember which one, hermana haws was sick so she had her boss come teach us. his name is hermano brodegard (no idea if that's spelt right or not) and he's super chill. he told us about cortez who conquered the new world, and how he burnt his boats when he arrived to motivate his men. he was generally a horrible man, but we can learn a lesson in determination from him. we decided to 'burn our english boats' and speak only spanish. it sorta fizzled after the first day, but we have as a district been speaking spanish more than we had been before, so it was good. another day hermano flores was out of town, and he had hermano silva come teach us. we had teacher led TALL (technology assisted language learning) and the first thing he did was take Elder Peñate's name badge as a disguise and walk through every single tall lab to make sure that everyone was doing tall, and not other stuff. it was pretty funny.
 


the devotional yesterday was given by the area seventy, who spoke in spanish and then was translated by my branch president. he said that he had realized he needed to go on his mission when he was 23, but was leaving behind a girlfriend. she decided to go on a mission too, and got called to the same mission he did. they ended up not seeing each other once during their whole missions. they did, however, return home on the same day, and on the same plane. he continued with more coincidences. they were married in the same temple, had the same children, and even lived in the same house. it was pretty funny. he then mentioned that we all must have the gift of tongues, because everyone was laughing when he spoke, and before it was translated.

Immersed in missionary life

this week has been pretty sweet. we're done teaching our first 'investigator' and now he's one of our teachers, and he's awesome. we're now teaching both of our teachers as 'investigators' and it's an awesome experience. you'd think it'd be boring or not really effective because they're just pretending, but that's not the case at all, when i was teaching 'esmerelda' on monday i felt the spirit and God's love for her so strongly. i think it helps that they pretend to be actual people, either one of their friends or someone they taught on their mission, cus it just makes it a bit more real. we teach 'luis' for the first time today, and i'm a bit worried, cus the two companionships that taught him on monday said that he was super tough this time around. after the first two groups tried to teach him, we had class with him, and he taught us how to connect with the investigators better, and that we need to make sure that they feel our love and the spirit before we teach them anything, so hopefully we'll be able to utilize that knowledge to get through to him. our district was in charge of a musical number during sacrament meeting, and we did a quartet of 'Soy un hijo de Dios', and i sang the bass. when we were practicing, i could never find my note when i came in, so when we actually did it, i was super nervous and sang really weakly the whole time, even though i had been in tune for most of the song. it's a pretty awesome experience being here though; if i ever have any doubts or any struggles, they've always been addressed within a day or two by a devotional or something, which has been building my testimony immensely. it's like, i was worried about becoming somebody else on the mission, and not really being the me that i loved to be before when i got back, and then we happen to watch a devotional by elder holland from two years ago that addresses it directly. i also wish that i had known more about everything before i came out here, that i had spent more time studying and learning, cus now that i'm immersed in missionary life, all i want to do is learn all the cool stuff in d&c and pearl of great price and the bible and other auxiliary works, but i can't, cus i have to devote my study time to learning the lessons, and learning how to teach the investigators better and stuff, and it's kinda hard. i still love it here, but i'm also getting a bit tired of it, and just want to be in paraguay already. if i was fluent, i would already be out in the field, but i still have 4 weeks left. i feel like people who are already at an intermediate level when they come in should just be here for 4 weeks, instead of 6, cus then i'd at least be halfway done here. but oh well, i guess this is just the way that it is. i can't send any pictures right now, cus i forgot to bring my cord with me, but i may send some later today.

View from his dorm

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Pictures!


Mexico City Temple



Corey and his companion

Corey's District

Corey and Elder Penate

View from the CMM