Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Hello to all!
Another week has come and passed, how time flies. This week was the biggest weekend in all of the year here in Paraguay. La Semana Santa. Everyone looks forward to this weekend all year, its huge. The whole country shuts down for the entire weekend, and practically everybody leaves the city and goes out to the campaña. Unfortunately, we live near the city, and so it was tough to find people to visit, but all turned out well, and we actually had one of the best turn outs Ive had so far in the mission at church! The big tradition here is to get together with the extended family, relax and drink tererè, and make chipa. Before this week I was a big fan of chipa, i would always buy it when the chipa ladies would get on the buses, and when members would give it to us I was always really excited. However, after this week, I am not too big of a chipa fan. Its this weird hard bread thing that, when eaten soon after being made and when its prepared correctly, is delicious. Every house we went to wanted us to try their chipa, and to take a bunch of it home. By the end of the week, it was like eating wood. The outside shell was rock hard, and after working for a few minutes to break the outside, the inside tasted like sawdust. Long story short, the chipa got old, and will be taking a brake from it for a while.
I have a good funny story to share this week. Last P-day we went to Asunciòn and got to eat at Burger King. It was delicious. We live with 4 elders in our house, and the other two got locked out of the house, and had to wait for us to come all the way home to unlock the door, which would take a few hours. While we were walking out of BK, while holding my big bag of burger and fries in one hand, and the ice cream and drink with drink holder in the other, I decided to crack a joke and said "oh how the tides have turned." Right after finishing the word turned, My drink holder ripped, and the drink and ice cream fell and spilled all over my shoes...I dont think that happened by chance, and after a few laughs, I learned a lesson and sure was humbled.
Another funny story was when during a lesson, a little tiny 3 year old kid in our ward went behind us to use the restroom ("water the weeds"). Soon after, I heard a slap and looked over at my companion, and saw the little kid hit my companions arm. We looked at his arm and it was soaking wet. I then asked him, "did he just hit you with his pee hands?", and he simply responded with a yes. It was really funny, he is always a good sport with the kids.
On a more serious note, we have been visiting a great old man named Carlos. He has sincere desires to follow Christ and be baptized, but he is living with another lady. They are both very old and weak, and she was previously married to another man, but never got a divorce. After talking to our President and explaining to Carlos the law of chastity, we weren't able to baptize him. They couldn't be married because of the divorce issue, and because of their health it was impossible for them to separate. However, he is a great guy and we still plan on visiting, teaching, and helping his testimony grow. It was a really sad visit, but he has a great heart and desires to better himself, and I know it will all work out.
We are teaching a really awesome 20 year old kid named Cristian. We found him as a reference from our ward mission leader, and have been visiting him almost daily. We went with a recently returned missionary in our ward to visit him, and taught about baptism, and he accepted to be baptized in mid May. It was a very spiritual lesson, what many missionaries call a "Preach My Gospel lesson". I feel really good about him and hope everything goes well. His only problem is that he is super busy, and had to travel this last weekend, so he couldn´t attend church, but hopefully soon he will be able to go. I will make sure to keep you updated.
Easter Sunday was really special for me. We had ward conference, and the stake president gave an incredible talk on the atonement. It has been an incredible journey already here for me in the mission, and I am so thankful to be here. I love the work, and I know that He suffered, died, and resurrected for ME, so that one day I can be with Him again. Its overwhelming to try to describe my feelings about the Savior, so for now I will just leave with my simple testimony that I know that my Redeemer lives. I love Him, and I know that He loves me. Thanks for the messages and support. Keep me and the people here in your prayers. Until next week!
Monday, April 25, 2011
The flight was long but fun because we traveled with my whole district. the jet lag was killing me but im about over it now. it was strange to not be able to listen to music or watch the movie... you can probably all imagine the devasted look on my face when i saw that they were playing - the tourist-. haha. how can i not watch angelina jolie and johnny depp while on the same screen at the same time! In Venice! thats near impossible! haha. i swear i glanced up and saw the same scene on a wild boat ride at least 10 times....
My area is in downtown helsinki and my trainer is elder hamner. He is a great guy. he knows this place super well and is great with the language. He loves reading from preach my gospel and he told me this week that we are going to have our weekly planning session- which should last about 3 hours. i just raised my eyebrows and said- really...? ok then. 3 hours it is. in my head i was thinking- what on earth could we possibly plan about for three hours. but then he showed me. he likes to talk about every investigator and make a plan for how to reach them and what we need to study and all that. so im learning a lot from him. he definitely knows how to plan. My companion is super obedient but not in an annoying way. he is nice about all of it... ha it makes me laugh sometimes. He knows the area and missionary work really well. He is also very helpful with the language... im really happy he is my trainer. hes a good guy.
Its crazy trying to speak finnish. i say something to a finn and they answer with the smallest phrase but i have absolutely no idea what it means... so its pretty tough. im learning a lot every single day though, so i just need to stay positive. My companion is a really helpful and positive guy and is helping me a lot with the language.
Finland is really pretty. We are on the coast so we can see the sea. it still has ice. There are tons of sweet boats and just good vibes all around. we dont have a car or bikes so we take the bus and tram around. The sun is staying out longer these days. it is weird to be heading home at 8 and the sun is still fully blazin.
Finland has some very beautiful people. Many blonde haired and blue eyes. The little kids are also really cute. I dont think i saw one kid at church who did not have blonde hair. I think it is so cute, until i hear them speaking finnish way better than me..... then theyre just annoying. haha jk.
This week has been a lot better than the first... Im not as tired as I was (even though im still tired. Im always tired. But with jetlag i was ridiculously tired instead of just tired) and I have gotten the schedule down. It is very intense in the field, but on the other hand we have a lot of down time (people bail often) Its ironic how hard we try to plan our lives to every last detail but then one little thing comes along and throws it all off. Like in Batman the dark night, there are a lot of schemers in missionary work. They want everything to go according to the plan. Im more of a go with the flow guy. But its good for me to learn how to plan.
It is very interesting here. We talk to many people, but it is very rare where an actual finn is interested in the gospel... most the time it is the immigrants who we get numbers from. It is fun to talk to so many different kinds of people and hear what their beliefs are. We were talking to a lady yesterday who told us that a cool breeze comes out of her head when she meditates. She was into some sort of relaxation/religious group. But it was interesting. It has opened my eyes to a lot of things and I am really coming to a more solid realization of what i believe about life and people.
We are teaching a guy who has a baptismal date, and it is awesome cuz he actually is a finn. he is a super good person and i really hope he pulls thru with it.... the teaches are way hard to pay attention too because i dont understand anything. My job right now is to sit and say things like "hmm....", "hyvää (good)" and then i bear my testimony about how the book of mormon is good. haha.
Learning a language is hard. This work is also hard. I feel like im being purified in a strainer, getting all the bad out of me. Thats what i like to think when im hating it
Love you all and whatnot. OK thats all from up north.
Sunday, April 24, 2011
Almost done with Jesus the Christ, on my second round of ldm (Libro de Mormon) in end of Alma, and have read Search for Happiness, True to the Faith, and Our Heritage :) I have a lot of free time cause I don’t have to iron my shirts. If you take care of them right after you wash them, never need to iron them and I haven’t yet. Oh yeah and there are some awesome members here, I told a couple, that feeds me every week or so that our house is their house, cause they are hopefully planning on going to Utah for April conference next year, I hope that’s okay to offer, I figure it is. I have been thinking of how you made lunch for the missionaries twice and they didn’t show. Well we called a member- didn’t answer, and we decided we would go anyways to make sure they weren’t offended that we didn’t show when it was their turn to make food for us, yeah weren’t there. I guess it goes both ways right? It’s happened a few times here, so now we’ve started calling our food appointment in the morning to make sure they are good to go. :) today’s fell through again ... but hey it’s all good.
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Hello to all!
First things first, I wanted to officially apologize for not being able to write a letter last week. Things were beyond crazy. We had to go out to a different area during the middle of P-day to do a baptismal interview and help set up everything for their baptism, which took a long time. Then after traveling all the way back to our area late, we realized that my companion left his phone back in their area, so we had to ask a bunch of random people here to use their phone to call the AP´s, to figure out our number, to call it, so that we could arrange how to get the phone back. Then we tried to do Internet and the cyber here did not work. Long story short, we were not able to write last week, we did not even write President Madariaga. So, I hope you can forgive me, and let it be known that I will write every single week that it is possible haha.
Big news is that we got changes this week, and I am staying for my 3rd change here in Bella Vista A, and am still with my trainer, Elder Olson. Double luck right there. I love the area and my companion, so I am really excited. Another bonus is that Colligan is staying in Aregua still, which is in the same zone, so the luck still continues!
On the contrary, I got pretty sick these last 2 weeks and threw up a few times. I think it was from the meat we ate from our lunch appointment, I am not sure. I also sprained my ankle really badly playing basketball at the church for our morning exercises. And to top things off, yesterday after putting on my new clean sheets for my bed, i opened up the blanket and about 25 dead ants came out...not positive about how that happened, but I have had a bunch of weird bites on my hands that I get in the night, so I bought a bunch of stuff to cure the problem, and hope it works. And there is tons of mosquitoes here, and Dengue has been a big problem. I sure hope I don't get it.
Elder Foster of the Second Quorum of the Seventy came to our mission this last week. Everyone was really scared because last month Elder Foster of the First Quorum came and made some great changes to the mission, along with scaring everyone (in a good way haha). Elder Foster talked only to the DL´s and ZL´s, and so my companion went and told me that Elder Foster talked about the importance of working with members, and Ward Council to improve our wards and the people we teach. Its true, its the members responsibility to help the missionaries find and teach the people that are ready to change and improve their lives, so as members of the Church, lets help the missionaries find those who are ready!
Speaking of members, I know I´ve said it many times, but I am in the coolest ward ever here. We had 179 people in church, which was average attendance for the ward, but I am almost positive is the highest in our entire mission. I love the members here and the people I have been blessed to work with. I know that it has been a tender mercy of the Lord to be in this area, with a great companion, great members and people to teach, and to be in the best mission in the world. Its overwhelming at times, because of how great it is to be here, and so I am trying my best to enjoy every moment of it and help others come unto Christ.
We have an awesome investigator named Carlos. Last week, he found the other Bella Vista elders randomly and said "I know that the Book of Mormon is true. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet. I want to be baptized." hmm... What great news it was to get that phone call from the others (because he lives in our area, so we are teaching him). So, we go there practically every day. He knows a lot about the church, and we have had a lot of "big lessons" about the earlier days and history of the church, which has been a new experience, but good at the same time. He has gone to church many times in the past, went the last two weeks, and is planning on getting baptized this Saturday. There is still a few things we have to figure out and help him with to meet this goal, it is not set and stone yet, but our President is supposed to come tomorrow to meet with him. He is 75 years old, and I don't think he has much more in the tank. He has a great heart, and always tells us that he wants to be baptized so he can receive the Holy Ghost, and feel its guidance in his life. Its been a great couple weeks teaching him, I will make sure to let you know how everything works out!
Like my mom said in her letter to me, "It's a great day to be alive. It's a great time to live on the earth. It's a great time to serve. It's a great time to share the gospel." I am beyond grateful to be here in Paraguay and to be on a mission. Its been an incredible 5 months (yes how time flies), and I can`t wait to see what the future brings. Thanks for all the prayers, keep me and the people here in them. I love you guys, and hope you all have a great week.
Sunday, April 17, 2011
Thursday, April 14, 2011
Love you all,
Sunday, April 10, 2011
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Monday, April 4, 2011
Hello to all!
This week was incredible to say the least. I have had so many spiritual opportunities that I dont know where to begin, but I guess I will try! As many of you probably saw, General Conference came around this weekend, and it was spectacular to say the least. We went into nearby Luque to the stake center to watch all 5 sessions, it was what we like to called the missionaries "spring break". I saw all of the sessions (in English, which was a blessing), except for Sunday Morning, because there were complications with the connection and so everyone watched a re-run of Sat. Morning. I guess I will just have to wait for the Liahona to come out to read those. However, what an incredible conference weekend it was. I particularly enjoyed all the messages of the First Presidency (President Monson's talk in Priesthood Session especially), Elders Holland, Christofferson, Anderson, Grow, and Nelson, just to name a few. Some of the main themes I noticed (even though Elder Holland powerfully expressed that they are not given topics, but however are guided by the Spirit) was the importance of families and temple marriages, and living up to our personal spiritual potential. Conference Weekend is such an incredible opportunity each of us have to improve our lives: to understand our strengths, weaknesses, and reflect on what we can do to better ourselves and our families. I know that President Monson is the living prophet of God, and that in this very day God speaks to his children (also Elder Holland talked about, what a great talk, I cant stop referring to it). I had a great experience learning many new things, and my desire to improve my own life and the lives of others has been improved as well. The bad news is now we have to wait another 6 months!
Also this week, we made our semi-annual mission trip to the Asunción Temple. It was a very spiritual experience for me personally. I love temples, and the true importance of them. The work done in temples is sacred, and provides to us the necessary saving ordinances of life. I really enjoyed the experience, but at the same time am sad that I have to wait another 6 months (for the temple too) to go again.
My comp is zone leader and shared a cool thing to our zone, which was 3 things to do to be happy on the mission: 1st- look for a reason to smile. 2nd- look for blessings. 3rd- remember the vision. I have been trying to incorporate these things into my mission, and have already seen the blessings and happiness I have felt because of doing those things. Also, he said to look at your plaque often, and who you are representing. I love that suggestion, and always try to remember that.
We taught many lessons this week, two of which I wanted to share: first, we taught a 17 year old kid named Emelio. His parents left him at a young age, and has been through many hard times with depression and suicide. He attends the local Catholic church and enjoys it, but has an LDS friend that is a great example to him, and wanted to talk to the missionaries. He lives with his Aunt, and she wouldn't let us meet at his house, so we went to the nearby plaza in the Villa Policia and taught one of the most powerful lessons of the restoration with him. Even in the middle of a busy park, we were able to testify and teach with the Spirit, and he accepted a baptismal date, and I feel really good about him. He has the desires to better his life, and I know that if he puts in the sincere effort, he will receive his answer and know what to do. Second, we have been working with a 12 year old girl named Soledad, who lives with all members and goes to church every sunday, yet hasn't been baptized and hasn't yet understood its importance. We went in and read Alma 34:30-33 (if you have time read these) and genuinely taught to her needs. The Spirit was so strong, and she committed to baptism at the end of this week, right before changes. I hope she too puts in the work to know for herself, and prepares herself for that special day.
I love the mission, I have never been so happy in my life. I love my companion, he is a great friend and example for me. It is already as if we have been friends for a lifetime, yet its only been a couple months. I have been blessed to have such an incredible companion, and love him so much. I love my area in Bella Vista. I love the language, and the work. I love my family, I know that we can be together forever. I love my friends, and the examples in my life. Thanks for all that you do, I wish I could spend an hour and talk to each one of you and thank you for what you do, but since that is impossible, I wanted to publicly thank all of you for the love, compassion, service, and support. Keep me and the people here in your prayers. Lets all remember the vision, and the plan that God has for each one of us. Lets live up to our potentials and do what we know to be right and true.
Until next week,