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


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


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.