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


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.