Monday, June 18, 2018

Out of time

Mon., 6/18/2018 (Luque)

Sorry! I'll have to write more next week as it's late and we're out of time! It was a fast week and we'll have a baptism this week! Thanks for the prayers, emails and Birthday wishes! [Elder Olson turns 21 on June 20!]

 I love you all!

[Elder Olson answered questions from his Mom]:

Q: What does Paz del Chaco mean?  Celebrating something?

A: Paz del Chaco means Peace of the Chaco; it marked the end of a bloody war.

Q: Are you in Bella Vista or Luque?

A: Bella Vista is the name of the ward and an area of the city. The city is Luque.

Q: Are you the District Leader now?

A:  As we're in a whitewash, I am not a District Leader anymore.

Q: Why did you teach in District Meeting?

A: Our District Leader didn't want to teach so we did instead. (It's weird as people think I'm District Leader, not him.)

Q:  What do the members feed you?

A:  The food we commonly eat for lunch is noodles with a little bit of meat, and if we're lucky fruits and veggies. Sometimes rice too. If it's a holiday-like Sunday was-then they serve Dio an asado (bbq consisting of basically 90 percent meat). Food here is eaten with a fork in the right hand and a piece of bread in the left. Sometimes they give us hot chocolate and a bread called mbeju when we are in lessons. We walk normally but sometimes take colectivos. Occasionally members give us rides but that's not common. Most people live in houses here, which are almost always 1 floor. Many have cars, many have motos and some people get by with just colectivos.

Q: Do you wash your clothes or does someone else do it?

A:  We have our landlady--who is a member--do the clothes. 

Q:  Are you playing the piano in your Sunday meetings?

A: I normally play piano, but this week I was in the choir.  Elder Sotec and I--he is from the other Bella Vista area--rescued them because it was 4 ladies.  Honestly they needed help so we went up there to help for Ward Conference.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Another week in Bella Vista!

Mon., 6/11/2018 (Luque)

Here we are once again on P-day. Today is Paz del Chaco day in Paraguay, so everything's closed everywhere. Good thing that there are despensas (a little room in front of peoples houses where they sell food) everywhere, so we won't starve this week! Also the fact that there are lunches with members every day! NOTE: If y'all have any questions or anything you'd like me to write about, let me know so I can make it interesting! This week was a bit of a slow one, with little noteworthy activities, but here are a couple of things that happened this week:

1 We got caught outside in the evening during a power outage and it was crazy dark! We could see the stars pretty well.
2 We have multiple members that asked us for copies of the Book of Mormon to give to their friends.
3 Shouting the words "tu primo" (your cousin) just became super popular in Bella Vista.
4 Elder Aguilar and I taught the lesson in District Meeting.
5 We helped a family move this week! It reminded me of the service projects helping people move with the missionaries in the states!
6 We went to the church for correlation Sunday afternoon and the choir was practicing. Well,there were only 3 ladies singing. Elder Sotec and I and Richard Britez (a Returned MIssionary that jjjjjjjjjjjjjust got home) went up to help and they sounded better.
7 There's an elderly man named Thomas that we've been teaching recently, and he came to church! We're not sure how much he understands, but he was beaming to just be there at church!
8 Members actually feed us here! Like real food! It still amazes me! hahaha. They are awesome here!

In my study of the scriptures, Liahona magazines, and so forth, I learned a lot about a 3-word phrase this week, which is "strive to magnify." We need to work and do our best to keep the commandments, work, and such but sometimes we don't do the best job, or by the choices of others or extenuated circumstances we aren't able to work to our potential! But God doesn't care as much in WHAT we do, but more in HOW and WHY we do it! For example if we keep the commandments so that others can see, we are like the Pharisees! But if we aren't perfect, recognize that, and try to get better, just like the publicans in Christ's parables! I also read a lot in 2nd Nephi and there were a ton of things I learned, but to sum it all up, Nephi was inspired of God, so were all the other prophets, and so is our prophet today. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is literally (as the name says) the church of Jesus Christ (that's why it's called that), and let me tell you, following the commandments is the best option if you want to be happy! I hope y'all have a good week! Thanks for the prayers and emails!

My camera won't upload the photos, so there won't be photos this week, sorry! Hopefully next week!

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Che ro´y, koi hum, Its cold

Mon., 6/4/2018 (Luque)

Well, as the title says, it's a little cold here, well that means 40s or 50s, but that's a lot colder than a month ago! We had a busy week this week. As I may have mentioned, our mission is working on being more effective, and that has brought us to work more with the members. We have gotten to know many of them a lot better than before! It works better for us because, honestly, it's more successful for us and the members like being visited! We had a couple days with rain and a little cold, but the work goes on! 

Saturday we had a baptism of a girl named Zaira! She's 14 and goes to church by herself (not including when she brings her friends!). Her mom is a member but recently has been working on Sundays. Zaira understands all that we have taught her and is one of the most converted people I've seen in my mission! We've only been here a couple of weeks, but we have already seen the Lord's hand in the work. Other than the Baptism, the Bishop now knows I play the piano (honestly not really at all but they're all happy) so I played in Sacrament Meeting. 

One day this week we visited a family that really doesn't have a lot, and they have been passing [missing church?] a lot recently. We as missionaries were there to help them. During the lesson the daughter in the family that is 12 years old was cooking their dinner, and even though they had NOTHING, she was insistent that we eat with them. To refuse would be impolite. I have really come to see this week the importance of Christ's teaching that we need to be like little children, just like this one girl. How many of us (everyone) maybe think about ourselves first and others after? It's common. But really people with nothing still trying to give to others first, that's what Jesus Christ teaches us. Maybe giving time to visit someone sick when we have no time, maybe congratulating someone else for winning when we lose, maybe even turning the cheek instead of fighting when others bother us!

This has been a good week, and I am getting to like Bella Vista more and more. It's a night and day difference, working alone and working with members! Thank you all for your emails and prayers! We see miracles daily, and they only come as a result of our (and your) faith! I hope y'all have a good week!

Pictures:




1+2+3 Zaira Blanco's Baptism!

4 Last P-day with Elder Johnson, Elder Skelton and Elder Aguilar.

5 Our chapel, it's hard to get a good picture.

6 A cow. Oops.  Well I guess the cow didn't show up in number 6 (it's behind the pole) but that's my companion Elder Aguilar!

7 same as 6

8 I'm not sure which came first, the tree or the road...

9 Elder Aguilar with our new favorite tree.

For some reason I can't send more photos than this, the computer has some kind of problem!

Monday, May 28, 2018

Mon., 5/28/2018 (Luque)

Wow! Well I feel like I fell asleep and woke up and it's P-day again! As they say, whitewashes are the fastest changes! Well I don't have too much time so let's get down to business!

I'm in Luque (pronounced looooo-kay) so the pictures don't work. Sorry.

Tuesday through Thursday we just put in work as usual. Friday we had a meeting with the Zone, and boy was it a big one. My whole mission, I feel like a common perception is if you want new investigators, you should go contact (go up to random houses and clap outside and talk to random people you don't know), and if you try to visit members and get references of who to visit, that's not as effective. Well the numbers and experience of missionaries says otherwise. So basically the new focus of the mission is to work with the members, and thus getting more work done. Well don't worry, that's what we plan on doing! We just got a new Ward Mission Leader, who has helped a lot! The other Elders had a baptism of a kid named Angel on Saturday which was nice! After the baptism we had an activity playing soccer, and got a toooooon of less active young men to come and play! Sadly none of them came to church, but we gotta start somewhere!

Church was great as usual, we did show up an hour late because the member that said he could give our elderly investigator Tomas a ride had to go somewhere else.  Apparently a chapel somewhere caught on fire? not sure what happened there... so we had to help him get there on foot, but he liked it so no big deal. We taught Gospel Principles but we also got notified to give talks in Sacrament Meeting, so Elder Aguilar had to prep one and I taught most of the lesson. We got to Sacrament Meeting and Elder Aguilar never had to give his talk because I guess the person he was going to fill in for showed up or something, but I ended up giving a talk on the blessings of the church and temples, and our need to be a missionaries using the rough statistics of how many people are in the world, how many members of Christ's church are in the world and how many missionaries are in the world. It's impossible for just the missionaries to do it all! The members should all be looking to share the gospel also! As David O McKay taught, Every member a missionary! That means you and me! So go out this week and find someone to share the gospel with! Or at least shine your light and hold a door open for someone in need!

I hope y'all have a good week! Thanks for the prayers and email, it means a lot!

Monday, May 21, 2018

White Wash Week 1

Mon., May 21, 2018 (Luque)

Wow! Well it has been a crazy week! Monday night we left the Chaco; Elders Messa, McEwan, and I were all transferred out.

Tuesday morning we got to the terminal at 3:30 and we had a lot of waiting to do, a couple of taxis, and such, but I finally ended up in Luque, where I met my companion, Elder Aguilar, from Cancun, Mexico! Well he didn't show me to the area since it's a whitewash! That means that Pte Evans took out the 2 previous missionaries and put us 2 in together. The other missionaries were Sister Training Leaders and from what we have heard we were put here instead because it was a little dangerous for the Hermanas to be here. There shouldn't be any problem now.

As for the area, wow! There are tons of members! There are 4 missionaries in total in Bella Vista, the other 2 are Elders Sotec and Torres from Peru. Our area here is huge! It used to be 3 proselyting areas, but we have to cover 2 of them. The ward had 151 people in church Sunday, and has at least 50 returned missionaries! The former missionaries in our area hadn't had any baptisms in 8 months, but the members are anxious to help us, so we are excited. They give us lunches, snacks, water, support, are willing to go visit people, help investigators go to church, and I am just here with my jaw dropped, I haven't had an area like it! And I mean they aren't just giving us rice and empanadas, like they are really exited to have Elders again!

We've spent the last week just visiting and getting to know the references. Here in the city where there are members, the method of working depends on the missionaries, and is generally grouped in 2 categories: street contacting and references. Well let me tell you references are 748369587629387465837465834653874 more likely to be successful so we are establishing a good relationship with the members, and they've already started helping us so much! Elder Aguilar and I were given time to introduce ourselves in Sacrament Meeting, and I could hardly speak there were so many people! I'm used to giving talks to Elder Castellaw, an investigator or 2 and a half dead light bulb! It's a huge testimony builder to see these members and their willingness to serve. Really it shows the importance of members. I'd like y'all at home to think about your friends or family or anyone that doesn't know of the true gospel, and figure out with the missionaries the best way to help your loved ones in their lives. Sometimes it's a visit, sometimes an activity, but as soon as they let the missionaries in, they'll be way happier, not just with temporary pleasure, but the happiness that only comes through Christ. Thanks for the prayers and emails!

A couple of cool members:

Fernando--nicknamed Pechuga (it means chicken breast, a nickname from his childhood that stuck)-- Chamorro: almost 17 years old and helps us missionaries a lot.

Stake Pt. Hermosilla: well we got here and the second day the Stake President wanted to show us around. He actually lives down the street and gave us lunch on Saturday also! It's always nice having the Stake President on your side! hahaha

Martin Gonzalez: he returned from his mission 10 months ago and was sustained as the new Ward Mission Leader yesterday. He's pretty hype too.

So basically to sum it all up:

1 There are members! (They know how to cook too!)
2 The members love us!
3 We have room to expand in the investigator numbers and members that want to help us do it!

Pictures:

1 Saying goodbye to Elder Robinson and Elder Messa.

2 Goodbye Elder Falcon.

3 Goodbye Elder Brunson.  Elder McEwan as Donald Duck.

4Goodbye Elder Trejo.

5 Goodbye Elder McEwan!

6 The Luque welcoming party: Elders Hermansen and CastaƱeda are my new Zone Leaders!

7 Our new house.

8 Our house key...

9 My new companion, Elder Aguilar from (close to Cancun) Mexico!

10 There's a huge soccer museum and an international airport in our area!

11 Elder Aguilar!

12 Elder Castellaw and I never took a despedida photo so heres a throwback to Christmas!

13 Out here with my boy Fernando "Pechuga" Chamorro! He showed us half of our area this week!

14 Here's a photo from one of the member families: Familia Chamorro. In regards to the bottles, there's a company here that takes used bottles and puts Koolaid-like punch in them. hahaha As you may have noticed, that includes beer bottles... but no worries, its just pina flavored punch.

Have a good week!

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

End of an Era

Mon., 5/14/2018 (Loma Plata)

Wow! Well it has been a really fast-paced, emotional week. I'll start on Monday. I got to do the interview for the baptism of a girl named Milagro in Filadelfia! She was baptized this past Friday. We then had District Meeting, highlighted by Hermana Adakais' final testimony. After District Meeting, we cotinued the longtime tradition of breaking eggs on her head, with the ploy of taking photos outside. She was prepared though, so no worries.

Tuesday we wet to Neuland for their investigator's baptismal interview. It was nice seeing all the people I got to know there! I also got to spend the day on a division with Elder McEwan, my old comp there. Atilano passed his interview and was baptized this Saturday! We then got to Loma Plata to work for a couple days, before taking a Friday night colectivo to Abundancia.

Saturday, the Hermanas there had a baptismal service and [because I am the District Leader, I]  had to do a few interviews for those over 8 years old. I had the opportunity to baptize 2 of them, a boy named Artilio and a girl named Lidiana. I also directed the service. Later, there was a missionary farewell for a sister missionary leaving for Argentina! After that I had the opportunity to talk to my dear mom and family! It was a great hour, as I haven't seen y'all in forever! I also got to meet Elder Castellaw's family! We caught a ride on a late colectivo home, then had church on Sunday, with 10 people! I sent photos with all of them since it was my last week.

We received our changes on Saturday morning, as we had to buy colectivo tickets. Elder Castellaw will be staying, but I'll be leaving Loma Plata and the Chaco. I've been here for 10 months, so it wasn't a surprise for anyone. I was given the unique experience to work here in an area that I have loved. When I arrived in Neuland, I was told we'd never have anyone get baptized, that it's too hard, that the Chaco is too hot, there aren't members, and many other things that are potential excuses. My companions and I decided that we wouldn't be tempted to make excuses, but that we'd put in the grind, and do some good. Well it's been a long road and it has been difficult, but I wouldn't want it any other way. I've learned countless life lessons, met countless amazing people, and had the opportunity to help in the Lord's purpose of changing the lives of others here in the Chaco. I've been given amazing companions, worked outside in temperatures up to 58 Celcius, and helped many people. I'd like to thank God for all He's given me but especially for one gift that nobody else has been given. That's my mom. Yesterday was Mother's Day in the US and tomorrow is Mother's Day in Paraguay. It's a time to remember someone who made a difference in our lives, and my mom gave me an example. Even without requirement, she and my dad served missions for the Church of Jesus Christ. She continues to serve her community, neighbors, and most importantly, my brothers and me. I won't lie, I haven't always been the most grateful for that in the past, but if my mission has taught me anything, it's that we aren't defined by what we've done in the past, it's defined by what decisions we are making now and how we're improving. Every day is a new day to change and do it right. Thank you mom for all you've done for me and your continuing example. Happy Mothers day!

I love you all, thanks for the emails and prayers!

Pictures:
[Blogger wouldn't let Elder Olson's mother down-load pictures.  Check back and maybe she can another time!]

1 Hna Adakais' last District Meeting called for a tradition: cracking eggs on her head.

2 Elder Castellaw in a colectivo to Neuland!

3 The progress on the chapel in Neuland!

4 Visiting some recent converts, Arnildo and Fredalia!

5 The famous C.O.C sign.

6 Some of my old friends were SUPER glad to see me! I was glad to see them!

7 Some more friends!

8 Atilano (with a Book of Mormon) had his baptismal interview! Nicacio went with us to visit him! Nicacio is now in the Branch Presidency!

9 With Pte Agripino and his family!

10 'You can call me Elder Cook'

11 Abundancia sunset.

12 Saying goodbye to our District President, Professor Cuenca and his family!

13 Church on Sunday!

14 Lucia and Ladi came to church! There are about 10 other people that wanted to come from their family, but they only had 1 moto. Hopefully next week!

15 Esteban came this week so si o si he'll get baptized this week!

16 Familia Colman came in clutch once again, visiting from Abundancia!

17 Saying goodbye to Santiago.

18 Saying goodbye to Ricardo and Estefania.

19 Long story short: we invited Lucia, Ladi and their family to Estebans baptism this week in Abundancia, and showed a picture of the chapel from Elder Castellaws camera. One of them scrolled a couple pictures and saw the picture of us cracking eggson Hna Adakais' head, and since I said I'm leaving Loma Plata, they took that as an open invitation to do the same! hahaha

20 The Hermanas from Abundancia had a few baptisms, and since we had to do interviews, we got to participate!

21 East Coast boys out here in the Chaco.

22 The Hermanas put in a lot of work for these kids to get baptized.

23 We got invited to a cookout with Fm Aveiro! Ricardo is preparing to be baptized hopefully soon!

24 So many kids!

25 Not sure when this is from... a few weeks back on Pday.

26 I've also received questions about if we have smartphones in my mission. Here is the latest in Paraguay mission technology. In some areas they can text now!

Monday, May 7, 2018

Another week in Lovely Loma

Mon., 5/7/2018 (Loma Plata)
We had a super busy week again! Monday we didn't have District Meeting, but we did get a new bike for Elder Castellaw and a pulpit for the church in Loma Plata. Elder Robinson then came with me for a division in Loma Plata, as he had to do our investigator Jose's baptismal interview. Well Jose forgot and his phone was off and he went to Filadelfia, so Elder Robinsonm had to stay an extra day to get the interview in. Good news is, Jose passed and was ready for his baptism! So Thursday Elder Castellaw and Elder Messa came to switch back so while waiting for their colectivo Elder Messa and I had a small division. We ended up doing an on-the-spot service project, crushing up cans for 2 hours.

Thursday Elder Castellaw and I got to work together, but then that night Elder Falcon and Elder Trejo came to start a division. I stayed in Loma Plata again with Elder Falcon this time.

Saturday we had a baptism! Let me tell you, it was a long day. We had 3 lessons set in the morning but it had rained all night so it was too muddy for bikes. We walked out to the lessons, which were 5-6 km from our house, then came back. We were supposed to leave on a 2 pm bus to Abundancia to have the baptism there, where the other missionaries had invited dozens of people and had them waiting for a baptismal service at 4 pm. Well, Jose had gotten 40 minutes late to work that day and his boss got mad so she made him work til 2 (2 hours after his shift should have ended), and the bus left early at 1:45, so we were shot. He also turned his phone off and wasn't answering his door, and we thought he wasn't going to be able to get baptized. After searching for hours for him in his work, home, etc he finally answered the phone. We found out then that as he was rushing to finish work, he had fallen down the stairs and had a big box land on his neck! So he had gone home to sleep the pain off. He still wanted to get baptized that day though, so we found a way to Abundancia and he got baptized. So apparently at 4 there were at least around 50 people there for his baptism, but they ended up eating refreshments and then leaving, so there weren't as many there to see his baptism but, oh well! He was happy to be baptized, and us too! Yesterday we had his confirmation and it went well! Elder Castellaw borrowed the game Jenga from Elder Trejo when we went to their house, and we played it to teach a couple lessons. With our investigator Ricardo, I've never seen an adult so happy!

I learned this week a lot about determination. If we have a purpose in what were doing in this life, we will get a lot done. If we're not determined and we let the devil distract us, he will have power over us. However if we don't give him anything he has nothing and we can continue on in the way of the Lord. When we keep the commandments and always do our best to follow them, we will be blessed (See John 14:15 and Mosiah 2:22,41). Thanks for the emails and prayers, I love you all!

Pictures:

1 How you buy ice here in Paraguay.

2 I had a division with Elder Robinson!

3 Elder Castellaw's new bike.

4 Classic Paraguayan food- some chipa and yogurt.

5 We did a service project- take off caps and crush up beer bottles.

6 I got in a little work with Elder Messa (from Brasil)!

7 The bananas we've bought the last couple of weeks have been HUGE.

8 Division with Elder Falcon (from Argentina)!

9 Huge beetle in Abundancia.

10 Jose's baptism!

11 pt 2

12 A pic of our fan...not sure what happened to the base but we have it on a broomstick.

13 Ricardo loved the Jenga.

14 In our colectivo today.

15 From the baptism.

16 same

Pictures courtesy of a friend: