Monday, January 31, 2011

Vanhin Merkley's first week at the MTC

hey everyone. The mtc is crazy. Wed to Sat was torturous. I hated it. Everyone kept saying if you make it to sunday it gets way better, but I was like there is no way i will ever like this. But by sunday you kind of figure out your funk and it really has gotten so much better. It is still way hard but so much better than before. a lot of that has to do with my district. I luckily have a super awesome group and we all get along pretty well and have tons of fun. Its good that we have fun because the language is very strenuous and if I didnt have people i liked around me, it would never allow me to unwind and relax. The Finnish is coming very slowly, but coming. I have 11 more weeks in this place and everyday we learn so much. I am working hard to learn and remember all I can.

The food is just like regular cafeteria food. Good sometimes but pretty nasty other times, and always pretty unhealthy. But i eat a lot of fruit so its all good.

My district has nine people in all. 1 companionship has been here longer so in class there are only 7 of us. 1 sisar companionship. 1 other vanhin (elder) companionship. and then I am in a tri companionship. My companions are vanhin lemoine and haws. They are both nice dudes. Haws is a surfer from california and just an all around great guy. He is just the best missionary you could ever think of... He works hard but is also fun and knows how to not be stressed all the time. I really like him. Lemoine is alright to. It is great that it is a tri cuz when i get annoyed of lemoine i can just chill more with haws. I never really get sick of haws. The other two are way awesome. We all laugh so much. Their names are Vanhin Carr and Pope. I really get along with pope. He is probably the one most like me... he loves movies and music and is way funny.

The gospel side of things here is sort of overwhelming. It is constant, which is not unusual cuz i am at the MTC but it is tiring at times. Its good for me though i guess. Gym is way fun. I am playing a lot of basketball which is great. I have pretty much adjusted and am enjoying myself pretty well these days. But I am definitely missing everyone and everything. I have thought individually about every single family member and friend. It is hard when you want to talk to somebody about things and be real with what you are thinking, but there is no body to talk to.

Overall. Pretty good stuff. way hard, but pretty good. It seems like everyday just keeps getting a little better and a little better. Thanks for the dear elders. They are so great to get.

Thanks love you all Vanhin Merkley

Semana Seis

So this week is about the easiest week in the MTC so far, my mind just goes blank and all of a sudden i find its time for another p-day, time flies. Had another Hasta Ver when a district left, in all seriousness, the parts of my district i didn't grow to like so much left on Tuesday so all is well. New district came in on Wednesday, i thought my district had some big kids like my companion who is 6' 3" and about 245, the new kid in our zone 6' 6" 305 lbs. and turned 19 yesterday. crazy. Reinforce the bed??? i don't think he fits.
John Merkley is doing good now, the first few days are always super stressful and crazy. Everyone in the MTC says, "Just make it 'til Sunday and you'll be OK". And that's the way it was for John. I saw him on Wednesday and asked him how he's doing, if the MTC is getting better and he said he actually really liked it.
I'm good now - time flies and I don't mind the MTC. Travel plans could come next week, although I've never heard of them coming that soon (even though that's when they are 'meant' to come) for people going to Mexico. I'll let you know. Probably be here an extra few weeks or get reassigned to the U.S. for a few months.
Breakfast is so good in the temple! I only wish I could cook the food in the MTC, homemade waffles, eggs, and Costco bacon! DON'T TAKE THEM FOR GRANTED!
Anyway that really is it have fun thanks for the shout-outs.

Elder Rhodes

Some pictures for you ...

January 31, 2011
I was able to be the host for my good friend Elder Gygi when he entered the MTC in December 2010.
We have grown up playing club and high school soccer together.
Here I am with my good friend Elder Rhodes @ the MTC. He's been my good friend for many years.
Elder Colligan and I at the temple in Paraguay!

My new companion in Paraguay- Elder Olson, Sebastian, and me.

At McDonald's in Paraguay. The food is really good- I don't know if that's because I was really hungry, or I haven't had American food for a little, or if it is indeed better. But, it was delicious.

oh esta todo bien ...

Hello to all!

Another crazy week has come and go, and I find myself here to report to everyone at home.

First things first, I had my first baptism (of the mission, dont worry jake i still remember your baptism as well) this week, Sebastian Vera Gaona, 10 years old. It was an unforgettable experience, it was great to get here and be involved quickly in the sacred ordinance of baptism.

Last week I failed to mention that Elder Colligan and I are still continuing our luck by being in the same zone, Luque Norte B Zona: Zona Más Purete (cool zone, half Spanish half
Guarani). So we get to see each other once a week at district meetings and also most P Days as well.

We have stayed busy this week teaching many lessons, visiting with ward members, and contacting so that we can find even more to teach. The people in Paraguay are very open, and at practically any time (besides siesta when they nap and during meals) we clap a house (yes clap), they will let us enter and sit under the big mango trees and share our message about Jesus Christ. I love the people here already, and love working with them and helping them in every way possible.

The language is coming along pretty well. The Paraguayans have an interesting way of communication... they dont speak relatively fast compared to other countries (yet its still way too fast when you're learning), however they are always mumbling, dont say "s" (instead of saying "mas o menos" they say "maomeno" all slurred), speak in castellano vos instead of Tu form, and use tons of Guarani mixed with Spanish. So....its been a difficult process trying to understand everything and be able to communicate my best, but i know it will come, and im working hard to figure it all out. Please continue to pray for me so that i can share the message of the restored gospel with the people here effectively.

I cant complain about anything at all here. Yes its hot and humid, but we recently got AC in our house (yet it broke after day 1 and we are in the process of fixing it). The food has been surprisingly not bad. Ive only had one meal where i was a little hesitant, which was when we were eating with a member and he cooked us steaks, yet what he brought out to me had no meat on it, only undercooked fat. So that one was somewhat difficult, but overall the food, lifestyle, culture, everything has been awesome.

Today is P Day, and we went fishing again near Limpio with the whole zone. Also, we went to Asunción because my companion is zone leader, so we had to drop off some fitas at the mission office. So after we made a quick stop at the McDonald's to eat and to do emailing because it is free. So i am in McDonald's right now actually. (PS the food here is really good, I dont know if thats because I was hungry, haven't had American food for a little, or if it is indeed better, but it was delicious).

Anyways, since I am on the topic of fishing, I have been studying the Attributes of Christ Section in PMG, and right at the beginning it talks about "Fishers of Men". Though I do love spending P Day morning fishing the Rio Paraguay, it is the other 6 days that I love fishing the most: being a missionary, and doing the same as the apostles in the time when Christ was on the earth, which was to be fishermen OF men. I have a testimony of missionary work, and I am SO thankful that I am able to serve a mission. It is such an incredible opportunity to represent Jesus Christ, and to help others to come unto Him, and follow Him. I am thankful that I made the decision to serve a mission because I know I can be an instrument in the hands of God, and to help all of His children come and return to live with him again, through faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. Though at times it is difficult to be a missionary, it is ALWAYS worth it.

Well, thats all the time for this week. I love you all and miss you so much. Please pray for me and the people here. Keep in touch! Thanks for all the support, it means so much.

Con Amor,
Elder Babcock

Thursday, January 27, 2011

First news from Vanhin Merkley

Terve! That means hello and stuff.
I am not sure that this is going to reach you guys because I forgot everyones email address... oops.
The MTC is long and boring at times but I got really lucky and got some really cool companions named Vanhin Haws (surfer dude from California. He is awesome) and Vanhin Lemione (really nice kid from phoenix arizona). We are in a threesome and there are two more elders and sisters. So seven in my district in all, we are all getting along and seem pretty awesome. The language is way fun to learn but frustrating to remember. This is not my P day so this will be short. Everything is good here, I am doing well, do not worry about me. Love you alllll.
Goodbye.
Vanhin Merkley

Monday, January 24, 2011

I Am Here in Paraguay...

Monday, January 24, 2011

Hello!

It´s been loco here, I´ll try my best to fit as much in as possible!
Well, after a few long plane rides, I am here in Paraguay. We landed and were picked up by the office Elders and the President and his wife. Once we hit outside, I could not believe the heat wave, it is incredible that a place on Earth could be this humid! After a few days in the office and sleeping with a few nearby elders, we found out our companions and our area. My trainer is Elder Olson from New Mexico. He is an awesome guy, we have been getting along perfectly. We are in Bella Vista A, pretty close to a pretty big city called Luque, and only 20 to 30 minutes from Asunción. I love the area so far. I've been giving a lot of prayers, testimonies, and getting to know the people. Last night I gave a lesson on the importance of assisting the church every Sunday, and that same investigator we gave a blessing to as well.

In Bella Vista we live with 2 other elders, De Voe and Morgan, and they are really awesome as well. I spoke in church on Sunday...I thought it went pretty well, and the other elders said that my Spanish sounded well, which was a nice confidence boost, given that its practically impossible to understand anyone here. I can speak fine, but whenever someone asks me a question, I can rarely figure out what they are saying. Paraguayans speak pretty slow, (not slow enough) but they have interesting accents and always mumble so it has been an interesting week here.
I love Paraguay though, the weather is really hot, every single person besides the missionaries drink tereré, which is pretty much just grass called yerba and water. I am always thirsty and never hungry, yet all our meals we have they bring out a tiny glass of water and a mountain of rice, chipa, bread, mandoica, really tough meat. But the food hasn't been bad yet, I cannot complain. Our house is not bad at all, except there is no AC, and when there´s no AC every missionary is supposed to have a fan, yet for the 4 of us there is only 1. Elder De Voe bought a sweet classical guitar here, so i´ve been able to play a little guitar. I guess our area is famous for making great guitars, so it is definitely possible that i´ll be making a purchase in the near future. I´ll let ya know. There are animals everywhere, I've gotten a lot of sun and been rained on badly too. It has been the craziest week of my entire life, but I have loved every second of it.
Today is P Day and so we woke up early and took a bus near Limpio and went fishing in Rio Paraguay. It was scorching hot, but still great. While I was fishing, I thought back about a year ago... Who would have guessed a year from then (right now) I would be fishing in the Rio Paraguay...No one. It was an awesome morning.
We have 5 baptismal dates, and I am baptizing a 10 year old kid named Sebastian tomorrow. I am really excited, he´s an awesome little kid. The mission here is really strong and we have tons of investigators to teach. The members are incredible, and help us so much. My companion pointed out that with other religions, the churches are really different in their other countries. However, our ward in Bella Vista operates exactly the same as my home word. I´m thankful to be in the Bella Vista ward (Mora Cue is the name I guess of the town.)
Anyway, all is well here. Continue to pray for me and the people here. There´s still a long way to go, but I can honestly say I love Paraguay. It´s going to be hard at first trying to figure everything out, but I´m working hard and trying my best.
I think the best way to communicate with me is either through emails or letters. I only have an hour to email every week so I´ll try my best to read them. Letters may take longer but they are fine as well. The address for the letters is the mission office address for our mission. I´d love to hear from all of you at home!
Thanks for everything, love you all!
Con Amor,
Elder Babcock

Friday, January 21, 2011

"I'm on a Mission..."

So this week has definitely been the fastest week in the MTC. I found myself eating temple breakfast, something dear to my heart that I look forward to every week, and thought about what had happened over the last week, and here are a few of those things:

On Sunday I spent some time with Carter after watching a movie, and we talked for a little bit. I'm real blessed to have such great friends, we took some pictures and said our goodbyes. Love the man and know he's going to do great on the mish. Saw him Monday morning about twenty minutes before he left and gave him a hug and I'm sure he is already full of work in Paraguay... It would be fun to hear his e-mails and how he's doing. Wednesday, I was hosting, and knew Elder Merkley was coming in and sure enough it happened. It was super great to see the family, reminded me of home a lot, great to see Johneee here. It was funny i said to him... so how ya doin? and his first comment, and i think the first thought or comment of every missionary was "I'm on a mission" looked kinda shocked then he said..."look what i snuck in... fruit snacks" of course, only Johnee. funny to see how i was the exact same way only five weeks ago. Time has flown, talked with john and he said that he liked his companions, still really hectic, the first three days always are, hopefully that honeymoon stage doesn't ware off with his companions. Got another hair cut, my hair grows super fast, and look forward to hopefully getting my travel plans in a few weeks and hopefully sent off to Mexico a short while after. Hows everyone at home? Jared... call yet? Hows lil Lily doin? I'm sure shes said my name already. thanks for everything.

-Elder Rhodes

Buenos Dias

So there really wasn't too much to talk about this week, not much that is going on. Elder Holland came on Tuesday and spoke, HES THE MAN really good speaker, like really scary cause he can yell at us for a minute and within seconds he can bring the spirit right back into the meeting (not yell at us just really powerful statements) We learned a lot and it was super good. Carter is leaving on Monday so that's kinda sad, we had a nice chat on service day, he came and did service at my building and we talked and then i went to his building and did service and we talked for a while. Sad to see him go but really exited for him. Much to my surprise, it was a normal Wednesday, and just as i was leaving a computer lab where i was studying, I heard "oh wassup man?" coming from a dear friend. Steve, i mean elder Gasik is back in the MTC, soo stoked for him, so glad they kept his call and all is well with his family. that made my Wednesday. I'm exited for Johnny to come next Wednesday, maybe I'll see ya. Really not much else going on this week, really normal, nice to get into a steady routine. Anyway have fun and thanks for everything!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Elder Merkley goes to MTC

Today was the day. Elder Merkley went off to become a for-real Servant of the Lord. I am REALLY looking forward to his letters full of his adventures... assuming we get any... which I really hope we do.
And with that news, here's a bit of a recap of his departure.
WARNING: This little video might make you cry.

I didn't shed a single tear during his drop-off, but making this video made the emotion catch up with me a bit, just watching it.
Enjoy. Reflect. Remember. And for some of you, know this is what you have to look forward to in just a few months time.
video

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

I Arrived Safely...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Hello Family and All!

I don't have much time but I have the opportunity to say shortly that I arrived safely in Paraguay. I am doing great. It is really hot and humid, but I am doing very well and excited to be here. My pday will be on Monday so I will be able to write again then but thanks for everything, I love it here already. Keep me in your prayers!

Elder Babcock

Monday, January 10, 2011

Semana 8...

Monday, January 10, 2011

Hello Family and Friends!

All lot of big news and changes this week and in the weeks to come. Don't know where to start but I'll try!

We received our travel plans on Thursday which was the maybe best news I've received yet in the MTC. They go as follows:
Monday January 17th, 2011
SLC to Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX
Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX to Buenos Aires, Argentina
Tuesday, January 18th, 2011
Buenos Aires, Argentina to Asuncion, Paraguay

I cannot wait to get into the field and change lives. And with the long layover in Buenos Aires, I'm hoping to try out my Spanish and communicate with the people there. Also, I've been called as the Travel Leader, so it's my job to make sure everyone makes it there safe. Once again, I cannot stress how excited I am to leave and get to Paraguay. It's going to be the greatest adventure of my life so far, and I cannot wait to experience it first hand!

On the same day, last Thursday, I also received news that Elder Miner and I have been selected, out of all the missionaries in the MTC, to demonstrate "How to Begin Teaching" next Wednesday in front of all the new Elders and Sisters entering the MTC that day. I have never taught a lesson in English, so I don't know what to expect. I'll be honest, I wasn't too excited to receive that news, but I know it will all work out and I can learn a lot from it, if I have a good attitude and rely on the Lord. I'll make sure to let you know how it goes.

Life is great at the MTC. I've made great friendships with many different people, and we've only known each other less than 2 months. I am thankful for my district, zone, and the people I've met, they've made a big impact on my life. On lighter note, we are having a lot of fun back at the rooms with back sack (our hackey sack game) and napkin poetry (which i was chosen as the next "king", which was fun). It's awesome to have such great people, the MTC is a one of a kind place, there's nothing like it anywhere else in the world. I've enjoyed my stay here, but I'm more than ready to get into the field.

TRC this last week was one of the highlights of the MTC experience, maybe even the best. Our teaching scenario was to teach 3 college roommates that all wanted to be baptized, had received all the lessons, and had a testimony of the Book of Mormon/Joseph Smith, but hadn't yet received a testimony of the Law of Tithing. It was the strongest I've felt the Spirit since being here. It went absolutely perfect, we taught our best lesson yet, and even though they were all return missionaries in real life, they realized the blessings of Tithing, and committed to live the commandment post baptism (and one of them knew Ashley).

I've discovered here that I really love teaching the gospel, and seeing the joy that it can bring to every person, every family, in every circumstance. It's helped my people skills, language, and teaching ability in general. I'm so thankful I had the opportunity to be in the new Pilot Program and teach so many times. I'm by no means a great teacher, but I know that I've grown a ton, and will continue to grow in the field and help people. I'm thankful that we "Teach People, Not Lessons' now with the Preach My Gospel system, because I love being able to adapt lessons to the needs of the investigator, and teach them of all the blessings they can have, if they take that leap of faith and have a desire to know the truth.

This will be my last week/email from the MTC and for 2 weeks (because of travel next Monday), so I'd love to hear from everyone one last time before I leave. I'll make sure next email to include my new address in Paraguay and the information there. Thanks for the letters, if you have time I'd love to hear how life is back at home with all of you! Even the smallest notes mean a lot, so thanks for all the love and support that I've felt so far, and continue to feel through prayers. I'm so thankful for my family and friends, I love you all, and miss all of you so much! I wouldn't be here if I didn't know that what I'm doing is right. Please, pray for me and the people of Paraguay.

GRACIAS POR TODAS LAS COSAS QUE USTEDES HACEN! LES AMO!

Con mucho amor,
-Elder Babcock

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Feliz Ano Nuevo

So I'll start out with the beginning of my week, with the new year, I decided to try and keep things fresh. It was definitely a quieter new years than I’ve ever had, but a bottle of Martinellis, and someone lighting off fireworks about a block from our fourth floor window, it was still pretty decent. One of my new year’s resolutions was to keep things fresh. So here comes the story of the week. Saturday night I saw one of my church shirts, hung up mom... and the tag said it was a wrinkle free shirt, of course I’ve got to put this to the test. As a missionary not quite accustomed to the six thirty wake up, I’m always scheming of what I can do to make the morning smoother. Saturday night this meant sleeping with my white, wrinkle free shirt on, a tie, and my socks. Don’t worry mom, my pants were hung up, and it worked perfectly. woke up five minutes before I had to leave and I got out on time. slip the pants and suit coat on, it only took a few seconds. Wrinkle free shirts are the best. The second day of my new years was Sunday, we went on a temple walk and to keep it fresh with the spirit of the new year, I had an interest of how cold it was, my tongue stuck to a pole, and after dipping my head in some water, icicles began to form on my hair. Definitely the coldest experience I have had here at the MTC. The week has gone by really fast, and I got to host some of the new missionaries that came in on Wednesday which was pretty cool. Maybe I’ll be there when john comes in too. Today was my first day that I was able to go to the temple, the past few weeks have been closed for cleaning or holiday, and it was super great. Especially the food in the basement cafeteria. It was like Belgium waffle, except like ten dollars cheaper, super worth it. Last Sunday I did my first 24 hour fast, which was surprisingly easy, and we had testimony meeting, it was pretty funny cause I’ve never been in a meeting where, and I’ve heard it compared to girls camp, but the girls start balling, and going into a really high pitch broken Spanish falsetto. Definitely a new experience. We had our first district leave on Tuesday, they were pretty fun and I’m going to miss them for volleyball. But a new district came in on Wednesday and they are pretty sweet. I don’t know if any of you know who he is, but elder Daniel Rasmussen, from Brighton high school, is in my zone now. He’s pretty sweet, we had a few classes together at Brighton. Anyway pretty much a normal week, Thanks for the packages and letters again its super great. Have fun and keep things fresh, and pray for my visa in a few weeks, I heard yesterday of an elder that was called to Tijuana and was in the MTC for 3 months, and has been in SLC for another 3 months so hopefully I can get to Mexico a little more smoothly, or maybe I’ll get a new call to serve in the SLC south mission!

-Elder Rhodes

Semana Tres

Hey so the MTC is going great! A new batch of missionaries came in on Wednesday and it made me realize I’m working on my third week. It’s funny cause the hours seem to go by slow, but the days are going so fast, I find myself asking what I even did during the day sometimes. Spanish is going pretty good, I’m starting to make sentences and I think there almost correct. It seems like just as you are starting to get the hang of things, you are humbled by how hard it really is...Christmas was pretty good, I always heard it will be your best ever... it’s just not the same as when you’re a kid and Santa comes and you wait at the top of the stairs to come down to see what he brought you. But it was good, Elder Nelson came and spoke for Christmas devotional, and spoke for priesthood meeting the following morning. He’s the man. Christmas day we opened presents in the morning with a few of the companionships, thanks for the presents, and had a pretty normal day. Sack lunch for dinner, I will never take Christmas/thanksgiving for granted again. My schedule is still pretty messed up with Christmas and new years, and I’ve only met my real teachers once. But it’s still going ok. I really like my zone and my district, there are a lot of really cool people. I am definitely missing the snow, I like that it snows, but it reminds me of skiing and how much fun friends are having at home cruising. My comment last week about missionaries gain weight because of their grandmothers food they send... true... but it doesn’t help when your mom sends four pounds of your favorite cake. Shared it, but the leftovers just stared at me every night until it was finished. Soo much food. It’s good to see carter and Cameron here, and there are a bunch of people from our school, I’m stoked to have john come in a few weeks. Let me know what Jared’s call is when anyone finds out I’m super exited for the kid.

I haven’t really done anything spiritual in my e-mails, or shared my testimony, but I had some cool stuff happen to me this week. Before my mission I prayed to be able to have a good companion in the MTC that could make the experience do able. I haven’t really told many people, but my companion and I didn’t really get along the greatest. We were definitely having troubles... people say the "honeymoon stage" wares off in a week. It took us a day. Anyway I so that our situation would work out. I got a feeling on Sunday that I should do little things for him that he struggles with like packing his bag and making his bed so we can be on time, and everything would work out. I did this for a day, it didn’t do the trick, but I felt a little better. The next day I started out doing the same things, and trying to help him out, later in the day, he moved into a higher Spanish class and left our district. I was left with being a trio with my roommates and companions Elder Davis... The BFG and Elder Sorenson our district leader. I really enjoy both of them. Not only were my prayers answered about my companionship with elder Hansen answered, but also the prayers before my mission to have a companion that would make the MTC experience enjoyable. God works in mysterious ways and I know that if we have faith in him and follow the prompting we receive, it may not work out how we expect, it may work out better. I’m really enjoying the MTC and your letters and packages make it all that better.

-Elder Rhodes

Monday, January 3, 2011

Semana 7...

Monday, January 3, 2011

Hello to all!
Another week has come and gone...time really does fly. Last week I focused more on the Christmas theme, and I didn't have the opportunity to share some awesome events from the previous week.
Hermana Whitlock, our teacher, is on vacation from the 23rd until the 4th of January, so we've had numerous substitute teachers. One of which was Hermano Douglas. He served his mission in Paraguay, and was the translator of the Preach My Gospel lessons into Guarani. He is AWESOME! He shared with us numerous fantastic stories about the culture, people, city, customs, food, etc. (By the way, he said that the worst part of Paraguay BY FAR is the food, so I've decided to appreciate the MTC Cafeteria food more.) He told stories of eating lizards, getting shot at, living in some crazy conditions, and also taught us some basic phrases in Guarani. It sounds funny because with every vowel there is also a naval sound, which is interesting. He says that how fluent you become in Guarani depends on your desire and work ethic with it, so I'm going to work really hard to be able to speak both Spanish and Guarani. Supposedly, Paraguayans have a pretty funny, bouncy Spanish accent, and talk fairly slow. I couldn't have dreamed for a better mission, and I can't wait to get there!
Speaking of getting there, our district is supposed to receive our travel plans this week, which is really exciting. Along with that, I had the idea of speaking only Spanish until we leave, starting January 1st, so our district, as of now, is only speaking Spanish except in the housing. It's already helping so much! We call it: Somos Nativos (We are Natives). We have learned practically all the basic tenses, how to construct sentences and structure them, and the gospel lessons, so I feel prepared to leave and to teach. By no means am I fluent, but I am so thankful for taking Spanish in High School and touching up on it before I came. I had no idea how much it would indeed help me.
This week, since I'm an old guy around the MTC, I was able to host the new missionaries into the MTC...I only knew of 2 missionaries coming in last Wednesday, and being able to even see one of them was a long shot. However, defying all odds, I was able to host both of them, Elder TJ Hartman, and Elder Aaron Gygi. It was a great moment to see the Gygi family, and I hope that sending him off may have been a little easier for them, given that he was able to be welcomed by a friend. It was one of the best moments of the MTC so far.
I have acquired a new talent: 4 square. In gym I have emerged as one of the leaders there, and I absolutely love it. You wouldn't believe how intense and serious it gets. Yes this is kind of a joke, but I have grown to love the game and it is a great way to exercise and to maintain balance physically and mentally as a missionary.
My companion and I have made a goal to finish Jesus the Christ by James E. Talmage by the time we leave here, starting last P-Day. I can't put it down. It is already one of my very favorite books, and highly recommend it to anyone. I'm glad that I have gained more of a desire to read as a missionary, instead of being lazy at home. It is a big goal and challenge to read it all, because its teachings and meanings are deep, and it's a fairly long book, but I'm still on pace to finish, and I'm loving it.
This weeks more spiritual thought comes from Preach My Gospel. We have been teaching our investigator Julio and its been very difficult because he is pretty stubborn and doesn't really have a desire to read/pray, etc. We had a lesson during class, and our teacher had us open to pg. 187 (in English). It says that basically every problem investigators will have hinges on whether they have received a spiritual confirmation of the Book of Mormon/Restoration. It finally struck me that Julio did not have that confirmation yet, because he didn't have a desire to know. So, the next lesson we decided to return to the basics, and reteach the end of the 1st Lesson. We were able to pray with him, at the end of the lesson, and asked him to ask God if the Book of Mormon was the Word of God, and if Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God. It was an incredible spiritual experience for everyone there. Since then, he has been reading everyday, praying, and has more of a desire to keep commitments.
I know that Julio isn't a real investigator, but I know that when the Spirit dwells in our lessons, there will be no doubt whether or not our message is true. And that alone is a confirmation that this church in reality is true,that the Holy Ghost can be with us. It's a great comfort to me that if I am worthy, faithful, and obedient as a representative of Christ, I can always have that constant "3rd Companion'.
Thanks for everything. It means a lot to have so much support from my family and friends. I love you and miss you so much. Keep me and the people of Paraguay in your prayers. Stay in touch, I love hearing from everyone!
Con Amor,
Elder Babcock