Sunday, July 31, 2011

Antonio's baptism

Chopping a tree with a Machete...

Waterline after the rain... (before you gasp too much,... Shaun is on his knees)

Testimony of the Savior

This weeks adventures, slept in a hammok, cleaned the refridgerator (ewwwwww.....) and went on exchanges with a new Elder from Idaho. It was interessting, The dayI spent with him didn't feel like work, passed by way fast, pure enjoying, and we had sooo much success/felt real good. Changes next week and yeah we'll see how it goes.

Spiritually this week was pretty fantazzy. The people that open up and tell you straight up "I normally don't do this, butI know its right"... Unfortunately it wasn't in our area, but fortunately that it happened :) Zone conference this week was also super great, great to see president Walker and his wife, and great to hear on what we can do better. It was a super meeting and I'm exited for things to come. Another.. and I would say most spiritual thing that happened this week was with an investigator, Antonio. 22 yrs old single, and cuts hair for a living. Two months ago we were contacting houses, and we stopped at his house. It was realy interesting to see his desires to listen, every lesson that we had with him was always special. He was open minded, in part because his uncle just died in an accident in Oaxaca Mexico, he was a return missionary of just months, and Antonio was praying, and asking questioning to find out more about what his uncle was doing, why he was serving a mission, and realy just wanted to know more about the church. He was really open minded to everything and is currently reading in Mosiah. After two months of teaching him, he felt like he needed to be baptised, and yesterday we were able to realize that. It's a great feeling as a missionary to have someone genuinely tell you thanks. What a privilege it is to be here, for all of me that wants to be relaxing on the beach eating taco salad enjoying the family "I normally dont do this, but I know that it's right" I think the most interesting and crucial part of my testimony that I have gained on the mission is that of our Savior. We testify evey day of tithing, Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith...etc. but sometimes we don't focus on who really is our Savior. I had the opportunity to finish Jesus The Christ a few weeks ago and I got thinking of what that really means to me, what the expiacion (atonement) really means. Although growing up (and I mean till I left on the mission) The Jesus thing is good, cute story, baby born in a super humble place and yeah does some miracles and died for us... but I didn't understand. I know my Savior lives, I count my blessings each day and know of his love for each and every one of us.

I invite you to read the discurso de Bruce R Mconkie of April 2011 written 14ish days before his death. Shaun Rhodes

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Habanero peppers & Much Rain

This week was super fun, Started out with just a bunch of rain. With the rain comes humidity, so not a single thing dries. :) The water level in front of our house raised higher than the last time. And to resolve your question. In the last photo that I sent you, I am a missionary and I cant lie, but I was on my knees so everyone else is right. But the truth is, in other parts of the city it wouldve been more than that height. Dads right. We were riding bikes, and the water level was up to the butt. but with these pictures you cant see the back tires of the truck so it was a little above knee level. This week what was adventurous is that I ate habanero chile. usually it is blended in with the salsa, but in this house, they were just eating chunks, so Ii had to try it, they told me not to chew, butI started chewing and didnt feel a thing. And fifteen seconds laterI was sniffing and burning. It was fun.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Going along through flooded streets

Monday, July 25, 2011

Hello to all!
This week there isn't too much to report about. We had a good solid week of work, and nothing too "out of the ordinary". We had a capacitaciĆ³n in Luque on Wednesday, where President Madariaga and his wife came, along with the Assistants. The mission is really focusing on the 8 Fundamental Principles of Preach My Gospel, and we seem to always have these trainings on them. When I heard we were having another one, I was kinda confused because we almost always have them, but this one was really awesome. They focused on being able to apply instead of knowing them. I left the training really excited to get going and working. And once we walked outside of the chapel, the Paraguayan rain came stronger than ever. We were so excited to work, the rain didn't stop us. We were trucking on through the rain and trying to work, all the people thought we were crazy. We went to an investigators house that we had an appointment with, and the water was flooded up to the front steps. I thought it would be pretty awesome to not only clap at the house, but to tread through the ankle deep, flooded front yard and knock on the door. Even though they didn't answer, I felt pretty manly standing on their tiny front porch with nothing but a lake in between the street and front door. haha.
I have really enjoyed speaking Spanish in the mission. Paraguayans speak really badly in comparison to the Spanish world because of the heavy influence of guarani. Therefore, most of the missionaries here only learn "Paraguayan Spanish". I have been trying to get better and better every day through daily studies and talking a lot, and I can honestly see the difference. We did a visit at night with an inactive member, and since he doesn't pay his light bills we were sitting there in the dark. It was funny because he thought I was Chilean from how I was talking. I am enjoying the language a lot, and even though I don't speak perfect like President Madariaga, its something I find pleasure in.
Keep me and the people of Paraguay in your prayers, we really need it.
Until next week,
Elder Babcock

Thursday, July 21, 2011

6 Month Mark

I will hit my 6 month mark tomorrow. Isn’t that strange? This has been the longest/shortest 6 months of my life.... The mission is like being in the Twilight Zone. Its your life, but slightly different, and the clock will slowly tick by, but then a week will pass.... I cant explain it but it is wild. I’m trying not to think about time though, because the fact is, I’m still here for quite a while. Thanks for writing me everyone (especially Andrew, 2 weeks in a row!!! I cant believe it, I almost feel like its mom and dad switching off and writing me but putting Andrews name so I dont feel bad... haha.) Thanks for writing me, I love the weekly updates. It’s great to get all your emails and whatnots

This next week we have a double header baptism. It will be crazy to organize but I am excited because they both really want to be baptized. They are both girls. One is named Isla, she is 17 and her mom is a less active, but Isla went to EFY and bore a way strong testimony, and then she came back and we taught her and she is completely ready to go to baptism. She has been really golden. And the others name is Kirsi, she is about 28. She has slight mental problems but has been working really hard to follow the gospel. She has quit smoking and moved out of her boyfriend’s apartment. Her only problem is remembering the lessons, but I am pretty sure she will do great and be baptized.

It has been really crazy this week. We have been running all over town and teaching a lot. It is very tiring, but pretty cool. I have noticed that almost everyday I have been hitting a wall. Either I am frustrated at my Finnish, tired of missionary work, just absolutely bored, or annoyed of my doubts. But it hits me and then it goes away after about an hour... haha. It is really hard to stay positive and happy 100 percent of the time. What are some things that you all have learned about how to avoid this wall? I am trying to scheme up an antidote... so let me know.

Vanhin Gamblin and I are working hard. I have learned a lot from him. Patience for one. Companions are a great way to learn a lot about yourself. But we have sort of found our groove and we are working together a lot better. Next change comes in a few weeks and I have a feeling I will be moved... We will see what happens.

Love you all. Have a good week. Keep holding down the fort.

Vanhin Mergley

Monday, July 18, 2011

Rainy Sundays...​.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Hello to all!
I had a great week, I can't wait to be able to share a little of it with you guys. After writing the family last week, we showed up at our house to see some members in our ward cleaning out all the huge bushes in our yard... It was so awesome to see the love of the members here for their missionaries, we didn't even ask them, nor did we know, but they showed up and cleaned out the entire yard. And next week they said they are going to come help with the inside. They are great, I am so thankful for the members.
This week we had lunch at a members house, and we had this delicious milanesa looking thing that I loved. Little did I know, it was Alligator meat...I know it sounds lame, but it really did taste like chicken.
Another random fun fact, as a mission we have a monthly newsletter, where there is a message from the mission president and his wife, nurse, assistants, and other news from the mission. Also, 4 or 5 letters that missionaries write to the president get published on there, and one of my letters from last change went on there, which was kinda funny because I always joked that it was my mission goal, to make it on the "Stripling Warrior", and that day surprisingly came. I just found it really funny.
Well I completed 8 months in the mission yesterday...6 here in Paraguay...I know I always say it, but times surely does fly by here.
This letter is filled with random fun facts. A primary teacher in our ward was looking at the Liahona (Ensign) magazine, and said how she always notices that the primary kids from the USA all seemed perfect, with their suits on, smiling, well behaved, and how the kids here are crazy. She asked me for the explanation, and I told her "photo shop", and I couldn't believe her reaction. She laughed so hard for at least 5 minutes, and called all her family in to hear the joke, and they all were dying laughing. It was a funny/awkward moment from the week.
I officially hate the rain on Sundays here. 2 straight Sundays, it rained, and therefore made it really hard for even the super active members to come, let alone the investigators. Right when we said the closing prayer, this thunderous boom came and the fastest hardest rain storm came, and made it so that not even the members could walk outside or leave. We live right behind the chapel, and the whole street flooded, so I had to run out in the rain, climb our fence in my church clothes (because of the flooded ground), and go into our house to but on my big boots and bring back all my stuff from the church. In addition to that, Paraguay played Brazil last night in the Copa America, and that made the streets absolutely dead. We would try to make visits, but of course everyone was busy, even the members. We finally found a really old lady in our ward that let us in, because she doesn't like soccer. I knew that the game went into penalty kicks, just by reading the peoples reactions while looking in houses walking down the street. Paraguay won, which was cool because the country was happy, but kinda lame because now we still have to try to battle through the work with the big tournament. But the work goes on.
This week I wanted to testify on work. I love the quote by Pres. Benson, which says "I love this work...and it is work." That perfectly describes my feelings with the mission...yes its hard, and yes its hard, but I honestly do love it more than anything. I hope all is well back at home, remember me and the people here in your prayers.
FUERZA PARAGUAY! hasta luego,
-Elder Babcock

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Adios Bella Vista, Hola Laurelty ...

Monday, July 11, 2011

Hello to all!
Well, we got changes last Monday night, and I received the news that...I am leaving (or better said, left) to another area, called Laurelty (pronounced Laow-Rell-Too). Its located not too far from my old area. My companion is Elder Hatch from Magna, UT. So, on Tuesday, I started my farewell run through my home for the last 6 months. I said goodbye to many great members and converts that I am going to miss so much. It was sad when a bunch of them cried, I did not expect that. I gave away a lot of things to them as well, and they were really grateful. It was a really really sad day, but I knew I had to leave, and it was the right thing. I don't know if another area will be able to beat Bella Vista.
I went to changes on Tuesday night in San Lorenzo, and ran into Elder Olson my trainer. It was great to see him. After waiting for a while without my new companion showing up, we called their number and they didn't know they were supposed to come pick me we made some calls and I ended up having to sleep over at Elder Olson's house with his comp. We were able to catch up a little bit and talk about the last change, he is such an awesome comp., and on Wednesday morning we said goodbye for probably the last time because he is going home in a few weeks. I'm going to miss him and his friendship.
On Wednesday morning at the office I ran into Elder Colligan, who is heading out really far by Brazil. I met my new comp, said my goodbyes, and headed out to Laurelty. I showed up to the dirtiest house I have ever seen, it wasn't the nicest welcome haha but its alright. We had a pretty good week working and getting to know the area. He is also pretty new in the area, but he has 1 year 6 months in the mission. Its been a good learning experience already, because he is a really nice, shy, timid guy, so I have been able to take the lead more and talk in lessons. We don't have really any investigators, so we are starting practically from scratch and trying to find people to teach.
Yesterday morning it was raining...and Paraguayans do not leave when it we had a solid 35-40 people at church, which was a big change from the usually 150 in Bella Vista. When they were starting sacrament meeting, the bishop on the spot asked me to give a full talk, so I went up and talked in church for 15 minutes. I also had to play the piano. It has been cool to have more responsibility and be able to do more than I have done in the past.
Its been a wild week, but I wanted to bear my testimony on the importance of companionships. Last change was a fairly difficult change, but I was able to learn more than I could have ever imagined in the short 6 weeks I was with Elder Soto. I have learned the importance of patience, of kindness, and of charity. I remember reading in preach my gospel and the mission manual, and all the times it talks about the importance of getting along with your companion, and I always skimmed by that before because it wasn't applying to me. But I understand that to be able to preach the gospel, you need to be unified, and if you aren't, the investigators are going to see that, and the Spirit can't dwell in contention. It was an incredible change, we had a lot of success in terms of baptisms. But even more, we had success in terms of fixing a damaged companionship and finding ways to together solve problems. I am eternally grateful for being able to serve a mission. Its been the best, almost 8 months, of my life. Keep me and the people of Paraguay in your prayers. Love you guys.
Until next week,
Elder Babcock

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The moving men

July 4, 2011

This week I felt more like a professional mover than a missionary. We helped people move almost every day this week. One house we showed up and he said well, here it is... and his whole house was a mess and filled with junk and on top of that he had a huge garage filled with crap (when I say crap, I don’t mean literal crap. But I do mean crap in the sense that it was completely useless stuff. I swear I carried 5 boxes of old useless computer cords.) We just smiled and said: so... who else is coming... and of course no one else. So, we got to work.

They were some sort of water treatment scientists and so the water they gave us was filled with minerals and tasted a lot like pond... But they were really nice and it was not to bad. The rest of the moves were pretty normal.

We also had a lot of dropped teaches this week. Its so ironic that we plan for so long and care so much, but about half the time, the plan falls through.... haha. We call them and ask: Where are you? And they reply: Oh. I forgot.

It comes in the job description though I guess... But. Let me just say to everyone back home: Be good to your local missionary. Give them leeway when they are late, and try not to blow them off. They have families too....

But. This week has been pretty normal. It has been really hot, which gave me a lot of respect for my friends down south. I could not survive in the heat. It was only mid 70´s and I thought I was going to have a heat stroke. Haha. It gets really hot being in church clothes all the time. And in Finland they rarely have air conditioning, because it would be pretty useless for the other 9 months of the year. So some of the buildings and buses feel like saunas.

The days will start getting colder and colder now, so it should not be a problem for much longer. I am excited to see how well I like the winter here. I do not think it will be to bad because I like the dark and the cold, but katsotan ( we will see--probably spelled way wrong.)

Thats all from me. Thanks for the love

Vanhin Merkleyyyyyyy

Cristian and Nelida's Wedding and Baptism! change 4, complete...

Monday, July 4, 2011

Hello to all-
What a week. First of all, happy 4th of July! It would be fun to eat some burgers and hot dogs and watch some fireworks in hot summer Utah, but I'd still rather be here in Paraguay.
This Saturday we had the wedding of Cristian and his wife Nelida. We ordered a huge, handmade, fancy, expensive cake for it, and it turned out great. After the wedding Cristian was baptized by his older brother. Then on Sunday, he received the Holy Ghost and was confirmed a member of the church, along with being sustained and receiving the Aaronic Priesthood. Then after all the reunions, Cristian baptized his wife Nelida, and completed the family as members. It was such an incredible weekend. Cristian's parents are endowed members, and his mom was crying and kept thanking us for helping complete her family as members. They are such an incredible family, and is another testimony that God is always preparing people, and families, to accept the gospel. They are really special to me, and I can't wait to help them keep preparing, so that I can go with them to the temple in a year from now.
Also, Elder Gaylord left in a special change from Bella Vista, and Elder Sorensen came here. I did a division with him my first night here in Paraguay, about 6 months ago. He is so cool. He is from Holladay Utah, and knows my cousin Collin. He is fluent in guarani, probably the only missionary in our mission, and he goes home in less than a week. He went up and bore his testimony on Sunday, his final Sunday here, in 100 guarani. It was a great spiritual experience. It was cool to see the love that all the people instantly had for him, for being so humble and sharing his thoughts in guarani. People after he was done were going up and bearing there testimony about how cool Elder Sorensen's testimony was. I went up after him, and said, "good morning brothers and sisters, I can testify to you that I am not going to be able to share my testimony in guarani" and everyone liked that haha. It was sad for me to share my testimony too, because it was quite possibly my last Sunday in this area. We are going to receive changes tonight, so we will see what happens.
it has been a great learning change. Thanks for all the support, especially the letters. I have learned more than I can imagine, nor put to words in these last 6 weeks. I love my companion, even though its been a struggle at times. I have a testimony of the power of the gospel, that families can be together forever. I love you guys at home and miss you, but there's nowhere else on earth I'd rather be than Paraguay serving a mission. Keep me, my comp, and the people here in your prayers. Love you all.
Until next week,
-Elder Babcock

Friday, July 1, 2011

¡Moto Chorro!

Monday, June 27, 2011

hello to all!
Well, I had a great week (mostly), and a lot of information to share. To start things off, after sending last weeks email on Monday, we went to the "Confederation de Futbul de Sudamerica". It was sooo awesome. We saw all the trophies and information about all of soccer in south America. there were tons of sweet presentations on all the countries. of course, Brazil and Argentina dominated practically the whole museum, but Paraguay had some good moments as well. The highlight was when we entered into the big "soccer ball" part, which had a 360 degree screen that showed a video of the history of soccer in south America. Supposedly, soccer started here in Paraguay with the guarani indians...I think that the people in charge just wanted to throw some Paraguayan pride in there haha. It was an awesome pday.
We kinda had a scary moment this week. We were walking down the street at about 6 at night and it was already dark and cold. There is a big problem in this country with what is called "moto chorro", which is when people go out 2 by 2 on their motorcycles. one drives, and the other gets off the back and robs people. Its really dangerous, and I have always heard about it, but never thought it would be a problem with us. Well, we were walking and heard a moto behind us. There are a billion motos here, so it was just a normal noise. we heard it kind of slow down, and then it came next to us and tried to grab my companions bag. he hit off the robbers hand, did a cool spin move, and started yelling "moto chorro!" and ran toward a nearby house. It all happened soo fast, but while he started running I started backing up too and noticed the robber guy had a knife in his hand. The robber starting running at me, so I turned and ran too. by this point the people in the nearby house came out, and so they got back on the moto and drove off. We could hear the moto at the corner of the street waiting for us, so the house owner grabbed this huge sweet machete thing and told us he would accompany us to the street. While we were leaving, we hear the moto drive away. all is well, we didn't lose anything. It was a great testimony builder of the celestial protection that missionaries have, and I am just happy we left safely. It was really crazy...
We went out doing visits this week with a member, Hna. Vera, and were passing by a house, when hna. Vera said that there was a member living in that house. Supposedly, there was a big misunderstanding in the past, and that hna. Vera and the member got in a big fight and hadn't talked to each other for a long time. At first, hna. Vera wouldn't go into the house, and said she would just wait outside. We convinced her to come in, and we shared Moroni 7 about charity. It was so cool because after the lesson and prayer, they were hugging and doing the south American lady kisses thing, and complimenting each other on their hair, looks, etc. It was literally something you would see in a cheezy movie, it really made me smile. It was cool to be able to be apart of that cool moment.
The update on the investigators and converts... Christian, the one that already got baptized, blessed the sacrament the past 2 Sundays, and last night he went to a big fireside really far away on his own, about missionary work. He got the papers for serving a mission, and is really excited about that. He is such a great kid. Christian and Nelida, the family that we have been working with for a long time, are getting married this Saturday, the 2nd, and christian is getting baptized by his brother (who is a branch president in another ward.) Then on Sunday, christian is going to receive the Holy Ghost, receive the Aaronic Priesthood, and then baptize his wife Nelida that Sunday night. We had some great lessons with them this week. It was really cool when they were talking about how excited they are for the whole baptism and marriage, and are already looking ahead and wanting to prepare to go to the temple a year from now to be sealed...they were really excited when I told them that if they want me to, i could go with them to the temple in a year from now. It has been such a blessing to be in this area, in this companionship, at this time, in this country serving the Lord. You cant find more happiness on earth that serving the Lord and helping others come unto Him. I love the mission. Next week we have changes, I will be sure to let you know if I am staying or going...Until next week,
Elder Babcock

7 Months...t​he power of service/co​mp. study ...

Monday, June 20, 2011

hello to all!
This week, I completed 7 months now in the mission including the MTC, and 5 (more or less) out here in Paraguay. It is crazy to think in all that time, I am still in my first area, and only know a tiny portion of the country, but I like it that way because of the strong relationships I have been able to build with the members and people here. My District Leader and good friend Elder Morgan received a special change to go out to Limpio this week, so he is no longer in Bella Vista. He is awesome. I have been with him my entire mission, living with him for my first 3 changes, being in the same ward, and being my District Leader for this 4th change. He is a great guy, and I will miss having him around. This week we were able to find the first kid I baptized, Sebastian. We knew he moved into the other mission in Paraguay, but we passed by his house, and he was there! I guess there was some miscommunication, because we thought the whole family moved, but it was just him, his mom still lives in our ward boundaries. But I guess he visits a lot over the weekends, so we are going to try to get him back in church and also his family!
Well, this week my companion and I had another good talk...I wouldn't call it a talk, more of an attack, but we had another good little talk. In the morning he was just not in the best mood and things started out rough...I had a great conversation with my Zone Leader and just asked for advice on what I can do better to help our companionship. He told me to pray really hard, be humble, stand up when you need to, and "if you endure it well, God will exalt you on high" (D&C 121.7-8). In our next lesson, we visited a member who had a son that was really rebellious and was treating her badly for no reason, and that she did not know what do to. I felt spiritually prompted to share with her the same advice and scripture, and it brought her (and me) into tears. It has been a really difficult little while for me, and it was awesome to share that with her.
I now have an even stronger testimony of companionship study. It has been hard to get my companion to do it with me, but after the fight we had, the next day we were able to study together. We both shared some good thoughts with each other and finished our planning for the day. Then what followed was incredible. We had the best day of the change working wise. Practically none of our appointments fell, we taught a bunch of lessons and found many new people to teach. It was a great evidence of the power of a companionship working together.
I also had another cool experience of giving service. We have an investigator Alberto, who went to church 2 weeks ago and because of that, his wife left him for 4 days because she doesn't want anything to do with the church. We found him again this week, and on Saturday morning we went to his house and did service on his yard. Who knows if it softened the heart of his wife, but the next day he was able to go to church and loved it. I know that if we go around doing good, incredible things will follow.
Christian and Nelida went to church again. They are really progressing, and it has been cool to see them changing. They are planning on getting baptized and married on the 2nd of July. It would be soo incredible if they are able to make that date, it would be right before changes. It would mean that I could possibly go to the temple with them in a year and also with Christian (who we baptized) when he gets ready to serve a mission. This area is truly a blessed one, and I have been beyond blessed to be able to start here. I love the mission, my companion, my trainer, my mission president and the leaders of the mission, and my Savior Jesus Christ. Even when the trials come, I know that I am a Son of God, and that "if you endure it well, God will exalt you on high". Thanks for the prayers and support, keep praying for us here! Until next week!
-Elder Babcock