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!