Monday, September 18, 2017

9/18/2017 (Neuland/Paraiso)

This week has been a good one. Well it always is hahaha. Tuesday we were in Filadelfia until the 11:30 colectivo, so we helped the Elder Singer and Elder Hermansen with a service project moving a bunch of dirt and leveling a backyard. We took the colectivo home, and I wasn't feeling too good as we got there, and spent the next 2 days going back and forth from the bathroom. Something that I ate on Pday didn't settle well I guess. Wednesday evening I felt good enough to walk, so we went out to visit people. Thursday we went to Paraiso, the other area that's about 70 km from Neuland where we have a lot of members. We asked the mission Cartero (librarian) to make a map for us for Paraiso, but it turns out there is NOTHING on Google maps. The finance secretary, Elder Hill, tried looking on Google maps, but there is no satellite imaging for that region aka it is in the middle of nowhere. It's honestly a testimony to me that we as missionaries get to go there because it's so out in the middle of nowhere. The Lord knows every one of his children, and is there for all of us. We timed our journey pretty bad again, because everyone got on a truck to go visit Neuland as we got there. We did find a few people to teach. Friday night got so cold that Elder Castañeda had to borrow one of my blankets. We went home to Neuland for the weekend, and brought our mini fridge from Paraiso to use, since we haven't had a working fridge in a few weeks. Sunday I had a talk in church about the Plan of Salvation,and we had a good day as usual, with the slight exception of the fire alarm. We were weekly planning and it went off. We tried EVERYTHING to stop it, turn it off, even cover up the sound. Nothing worked and we had to rip it apart. WE think all the dust in the air caused it to go off. The shut off and emergency shut off, power off switches didn't do a thing hahaha. Today we are in Filadelfia to write y'all again, since there still isn't a roof on the chapel in Neuland! We have a good number of investigators that are progressing. We have been working on reactivating families,because just one person has a lot of strength but families are even stronger. We have seen the changes in the lives of the members as they come back, and we have seen the changes in the lives of many investigators when they take up the offer from Christ to"Come unto Me". When we have faith and repent, we are blessed. Thank you all for your prayers and emails! As a side note, I take picture of all my emails to read them after, so y'all can write me emails as long as you want! It's always nice getting all the emails. Have a great week everyone!


1 Service project in Filadelfia

2 We got to the house in Paraiso and all our little friends mobbed us

3 There is no place like Paraiso

4 We got to go see the carboneria (carbon is what they use here instead of charcoal; basically burned wood) which is the business that the whole community works in

5 carboneria oven

6 from what I understand, they pack wood inside the oven, then seal it with mud, then dump gasoline in and light a fire. It burns for a couple days then they pour water in to put the fire out. They then seal it up again til the water dries up, then take the burned wood and cut it up, put it in bags and sell it to everyone

7 Sealed up oven. It has holes for the smoke and air

8 On the left, Estaban Rodriguez. He's the landlord of the house/church in Paraiso. On the right is Francisco Paclusi,the group leader and translator for us missionaries

9 Tapir tracks

10 pig skull. Everything here is dangerous, from the pigs that have big teeth to the lions, spiders and anacondas that are found in the region

11 The Chaco is one of those place where you really don't want to get lost! It's awesome

12 WE COULD NOT STOP THE ALARM and we have a lot of neighbors, so we had to... turn the sound off. The shut off button didn't do anything, nor did the emergency shut off switch on the back. We tried stuffing it under blankets, everything! Eventually we just had to let it go

13 Eating at our kitchen table... oh never mind we're in Paraiso. Don't worry Mom, we make really good food (including soups)!

14 The trees here are pretty cool

15 It is warming up a little!
9/11/2017 (Neuland/Paraiso)

We had a good week once again. To put it briefly, time flies when you're having fun. We are just working up a storm, and since I have to send in 10 baptismal forms today during my hour, I hope y'all pardon me for keeping it short (computers load pictures slowly here). We started the week off well with Pday as (now) usual in Filadelfia, immediately followed by District meeting. Our District is just a bunch of hard-working guys in the middle of a big wasteland. It's pretty cool, and we all get along together well. We also all have 6 more weeks together. Tuesday we had the baptism of Yenny Gonsalez, which didn't have the best attendance of the baptisms I've seen here in Paraguay, but it had a lot of spirit. She was really excited for her baptism, which should have been last week, but ended up this week instead. Her new husband's parents also went, and the spirit was very strong; we were really happy for her and her family. The rest of the week was filled with above-40 C degree weather and a lot of sun. Also a lot of wind. Also a lot of walking. It all was worth it because of the people. There are a lot of really great people here in Neuland. It's really a great place.

The week ends with today, Pday, in Filadelfia. We got up at 6:30 and got right to making a flagpole and putting up an American flag at half mast. Out here in the Chaco 6 of 8 of us missionaries are from the US, so we celebrated 9/11. It's a good day to reflect about the sacrifices. Many people lost their lives that day, and shouldn't be forgotten. I also like to reflect on the lives of many others from history; the founding fathers and the pioneers. There are so many people that did so much to make life for us so much easier. They made many sacrifices, and we should be grateful. Jesus Christ also made sacrifices for us. Each one of us. He made life so easy for us. Please take a moment to think about his sacrifices, as well as all of those that have passed on to give us our freedom! Have a great week everyone, I love and miss you all!


1 Another marriage and baptism this week! Our investigator, Yenny, got married to her boyfriend Avelino. They're really great people, and she was really excited to get baptized.

2 Welcome to Neuland

3 One of our less actives members here in Neuland found an American flag in a used clothes store, and he really likes USA so he bought it

4 There are a lot of Nivacle children that run up to us and hang off our arms, ask for pass along cards, etc and this little guy is one of them. He's my favorite actually, he greets us every day with this exact smile

5 service project cleaning up the church and it's yard

6 The Branch President's wife gave us some rolls hot from the oven

7 That thorn is 2 centimeters long, and went right through my sandal. EVERY plant here has thorns, and they go right through clothes, shoes, and for the Elders in Filadelfia, bike tires

8 we constructed a flag pole for pday today

9 The 6 of us that are from the US said the Pledge of Allegiance and sang the National Anthem, then filled in our 2 Latino companions as to what just happened

10 Elder Castaneda cooked food and was really excited how it turned out. He wanted me to take a photo

11 It actually turned out pretty good!

Well that's the week, I hope y'all have a good one!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Mon., 9/5/2017 (Neuland)

We had a really busy week once again. Actually, we really had the craziest week so far in my mission, We spent the first couple of days getting a new house contract and working with finances for the branch. Friday we ended up moving houses, because the old one was small, didn't have a sink, rarely had water, we didn't have a working air conditioner and President Evans said we should find a new house, so that's what we did. The new house is about 2 times as big, and it's brand new.
Saturday we had a really big day. We had to coordinate people coming in from Paraiso for a marriage and baptismal service in Neuland, and in the end we had 2 marriages and 9 baptisms take place. Elder Whipple and Elder Starks came in from Loma Plata to do the baptismal interviews, and we had a judge come in from a town 55 km away to do the marriages. In the email with the photos I'll try to add a small bio of each of our investigators that got married and/or baptized. The water tank truck showed up a few hours late, and overall it was hectic, but in the end the service was really great. About 50 people showed up, and the spirit was really strong
Sunday we had church, and it started off with the 9 confirmations. It turned out really well. The best moment of the day was during the closing hymn. We sang number 89 (Spanish, which is 150 in English) God Be With You 'Til We Meet Again. It reminded me of the movie ¨The Other Side of Heaven" when they all sing that song. This week honestly reminds me of that movie a lot. Last night we had to go to Filadelfia, and we received our changes... we are both staying 6 more weeks! It's going to be fun; we´re excited to be keeping at it together. Y'all have a good week!

1 We have some pretty cool trees here
2 Chapel cleaning
3 That other picture last week wasn't actually the chapel's roof... but we did find it. The roof took out a grove of trees..
4 Our bunk bed didn't fit out the door... or the window... so we had to buzz saw it apart. It also didn't fit in the door in the new house so we had to buzz saw it again
6 Our one young man here, Bertol, mixed the punch by hand, literally hahaha (PICTURE OF THE HAND!)
7 Serving up some ham sandwiches with Elder Castañeda and Elder Starks
8 Picture of everyone and the chapel
9 With all 9 that got baptized and also Jose, Julian's dad, who baptized him
10 Brigido and Carolina, who got married, and also their kids Denis and Berta. They're a really cool family
11 Daniela, whose husband Isabelino got baptized a few months ago, and their son Donatelio. They're really awesome, and are in church every week. They live in Paraiso
12 Marciana, got married to her boyfriend Adriano, who is a recently reactivated member

13 Norbalda is 9 years old and goes to church by herself in Paraiso. She actually goes an hour earlier than everyone else and sets up the chairs. She is awesome
14 Jose Julian is a cool guy. He actually is a very active member that goes to church with his family every week, they just didn't realize that he is 9 years old so we helped him get baptized.

That's the week! I hope you all have a good one too!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

8/28/2017 (Neuland)

Well it sounds like everyone got crazy weather! Y'all with the hurricanes and rain and us with... no rain. But we have moved into the 40s (Celcius) (100s in F) for the summer, and apparently in my area it went above 50 Celcius a few times. Fun stuff. Anyways, we had a zone conference Tuesday, and it was super good. About 70 missionaries were there, including 3 zones, and we learned a lot about using time effectively, and having a better companionship. Elder Schmidt from my MTC group is a zone leader in one of the other zones, and he and his companions taught about using better questions. After the conference, we got to talk to a lot of other elders for a few minutes, and I got to see a lot of old faces, including Elder Tesucun and Elder Villacresses. We took a colectivo home to Neuland, which took a looooooooooooooooooot longer than the other one, and we got in around 6am. We had an interesting load of work this week; we had to get the Branch's financial records straight and all that good stuff and we don't have the authority to do anything without the branch presidency and nobody has/answers their phone. It was a little hectic but it was a lot of fun. In the end we couldn't get quite everything worked out, so the branch wasn't able to attend the district conference in person, but we got it set up so they could stream it in the computer. The members in Paraiso, well we haven't been able to get in contact in about a week.. woops.. but we should be out there for a little while this week. Saturday we had a few meetings and interviews and such in Abundancia (another area that has the biggest chapel I've ever seen in Paraguay in the middle of NOWHERE with 56 church built houses) so we had to go out there. Elder Brower and his companion are really getting into exercise so we joined them for the evening. There was a lot of wind and a ton of lightning, and it even rained! For 30 seconds then it stopped hahaha. We were going to bed at 10:30 when we got a call, and the chapel in Neuland just lost the roof, the air conditioner, and a lot of other damage. Apparently there were VERY strong winds in the area, and all the power was out. The northern side of Paraguay church repairman (and Boqueron district counselor) and the schoolteacher (who the next day got sustained as district secretary) and Elder Castañeda and I piled into a truck and we sped over to Neuland to rescue the computer, documents, and everything else. The computer got a little wet, as there was no roof for a little while. We went looking for the roof and came across a couple of other roofs in the process. We went to our house as our roof is not stable, but there was no damage. 2 trees in the front of our house fell, so I am very glad they took the blow and not our house. We got home around 1 am and went right to bed. Sunday we had district conference, and the district had a LOT of changes in leadership. Apparently the new leaders are really going to be great, so we are excited to work with them. Sunday evening we had to run a few kilometers to catch the only bus that came all day. We are now in Loma Plata, another German founded city here in the Chaco. It's honestly a lot of fun here, and we are getting a lot done. We should have a couple of baptisms coming this week if we can get transportation for our investigators. We are really seeing the blessings with the people here, and their desires to come closer to Christ. That's really a good thing to do; think to yourselves, what can I do to come closer to Christ? Think on that for the week!


1 With 3 of my companions at our zone conference

2 With Elder Tesucun(my second trainer) and his trainer Elder Villacresses

3 They let our district loose in Asuncion

4 Where Elder Castaneda is from, it doesnt go above 28 Celcius, so he really wanted a photo hahaha

5 Nightly exercises in Abundancia. I don't know if you'll be able to find it, but the story of that place is really cool

6 We got the call around 10:30 Saturday that the chapel roof blew off...

7 Yeah...

8 I think there's something missing in the branch President's office... Oh wait, the roof!

9 It was pretty crazy... pretty windy too. Luckily we were able to rescue the computer, but we still don't know if it will ever work again because it also rained a bit

10 Well we did find the air conditioning unit...

11 and the lightbulb didnt break, they're pretty expensive here

12 We thought we found the roof but...(wait til 13)

13 It was actually someone elses. Here's part of the chapel's roof

14 The chaco Elders, Pte and Sister Evans, and the assistants

15 We had to run a few kilometers to catch a colectivo

16 Walking to where we are writing y'all right now, (which is about a 45 minute walk) some guy in a truck that we met a couple pdays ago in a different city gave us a ride. MVP

I love y'all, thanks for the emails and prayers!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Mon., 8/21/2017 (Neuland)

Once again a busy week! It has really been a great week once again.We had P-day Monday, and after P-day we had our district meeting in Filadelfia, and Elder Salazar and I were elected to make dinner afterwards. Tuesday we wanted to take a bus home, but it turns out nobody worked because of some obscure holiday so we had to hitchhike home. Good thing it's allowed here in the Chaco and good thing the Paraguayans are really nice people. We spent only that afternoon and Wednesday in Neuland. We had to start looking for a new house because President Evans asked us to and the water has been out for a week. Thursday we went early to Paraiso, our other area and were there 'til Sunday. There was a big soccer tournament in Neuland though, and everyone, literally EVERYONE was gone, so we contacted the whole community and found a grand total of about 3 houses occupied hahaha. A decent number of investigators were home and we finished the lessons with 4 of our investigators who should be getting baptized in a couple of weeks when we can get transportation for them to come to Neuland. For the 3 days there nobody was home so there were no lights. It worked out well though, because we watched the stars for meteorites. There are a lot more of them than you would think, and we managed to see around 30. We did a few service projects including digging an outhouse pit, cleaning another water tank and collecting firewood. The Nivacle people are really simple and humble, and I really like them a lot. Elder Castañeda and I have been working on helping them grow as a branch and group. Sunday we had a solid turnout of 23 people in Paraiso, which is good as there weren't more than 30 people even in the community at that hour. We got back for the afternoon to Neuland, but as there was a soccer tournament, nobody was home hahaha. We got prepped in the evening to go to Asuncion for our zone conference, and left at 8. That coletivo was FLYING. As the other elders told me, we passed the (normally) 2 am mark (a town called Pozo Calorado) at 11:30. When we got to Asuncion at 2:30 the office elders probably thought we were prank calling them as the colectivo should have gotten in at 4:30 or 5. Today we went to Luque and Mariano Roque Alonso for P-day, and tomorrow we will be having Zone conference. Elder Castaneda and I have been getting along really well together and hopefully we'll be sticking together for another 6 weeks. This week we have really been focused on repentance. It's real, it helps, and you feel good afterwards. When we do stuff wrong, we feel kind of bad, but Heavenly Father doesn't want us to feel bad, so he gave us repentance so we can change. It's honestly the best Christmas present, year round. Thanks for all your email and prayers and whatnot. Have a good week everyone!

Elder Olson wrote the following to his mother this week answering questions about his location:
We are in the Chaco right now which is a big desert where everything wants to eat you (including every plant here has thorns). Due to the conditions, there are no sister missionaries in the Chaco. It's really pretty awesome out here. There are 8 of us here in the Chaco, and my companion and I are over 2 proselyting areas that are 70 km apart, with 2 other areas where we technically should work also but are too far away. We are preparing the area to get bikes soon, possibly this week but there are paperwork issues. We have a lot of German descent Paraguayans but they don't actually speak German, but a dialect of it that is also part Spanish and English. In Yby Yau we were 105 km from Brazil, and I've been to the border before in Pedro Juan. I don't know how far we are here; You could probably find out on a map. Thanks for the letter hand have a good week!


PS here are 2 more pictures, one from today and one from when Elder Salazar and I cooked for the district.
1 There are about a million signs here that say welcome to Neuland
2 Really, there are a lot
3 We helped the branch president's family cut and carry firewood
4 same as 3
5 we ended up cooking
6WHEN IN PARAGUAY; TAKE NOTE OF WRITTEN IN ZEROS... the difference between 80 cents and 8 dollars
7 With the dried apricots too... hahaha
8 Barbeque sauce saves the day once again for the poor Paraiso elders
9 Out here digging outhouse pits
10 With our investigator Donatelio. He's a really cool guy, and wants to get baptized in a couple weeks. His dad translates for us because he only speaks Nivacle
11 We brought out the gumbo for study time
12 Paraiso=spanish for paradise
13 peeling some mandioca
14 We have so many people to teach we sometimes have to just meet up with a lot of them. We have had lessons with as many as 33 people at a time. These are the coolest people in Paraguay
15 There aren't many lights here so during personal time we watch meteors When were in Paraiso. We saw about 30 in 3 days
16 Ready for church
17 The trees are pretty cool here
18 This is a batata. They're like a potato but sweet. They are really good in whatever form you cook them
19 For those wondering, that's what the bathroom looks like here
20 We got to see Elder Lovelace from our mtc group today. Hes a zone leader in Luque right now. It's always nice to throw it back to the good old MTC days

Monday, August 14, 2017

Mon., 8/14/2017 (Neuland)

We had a bus break down and now have a very small amount of time, so I'll have to make it short. We had a really good week and have been really working well together. Elder Castañeda and I are really working well together, and as I've told y'all, it's kind of the hardest area in the mission, but we are having so much fun. From my time here in Paraguay I've learned that we can work super hard and talk to thousands of people, but if we don't work with the members, nothing comes of our work. Neuland is a special area where the members don't know that much, but we leave every house with a reference of someone to visit, and a lot of the time, the members go with us. We have been working on reactivating a lot of families and inviting a lot of new families to come to church, and it's a little bit slow but big things take time! We got in a lot of service projects, including cleaning a really dirty underground water tank, cutting down a tree with a machete, and cutting down a grove of small trees with a machete. It has been really busy and really just a great time. Sunday we were in Neuland and had a solid attendance of 23 people. Paraiso, our group that is about 70 km from Neuland, had a solid attendance as well, of 26. We had 13 investigators and a lot of less actives in church, so it ended up a pretty great week. Today we are finally in Filadelfia, as we went by a big Rodeo that's a little far from here and the bus broke down. Thanks for the emails and I hope you all have a good week.
We also watched "Only a Stonecutter" about 5 times this week with different members and investigators. It has a really interesting quote that I wanted to share. In this life, there are 2 kinds of people; people who act and people who are acted upon. Which would you want to be? What can you be to be that type of person. Hint: read your scriptures, say your prayers, go to church, and look for every opportunity to serve others. Have a great week all of y'all!


1 We cleaned an underground water tank/well

2 We also cut down a tree with a machete

3 Rama Neuland right after church
4 There hasn't been water half the week and we kind of ran out of clean dishes so we ate right out of the pans
well I have a minute or 2 more because the other elders are late for their time
5 4 Americans a Peruvian and an Equatoriano at a German rodeo

6 at the rodeo
7 With Fidelino (branch secretary) and Agripino Gomez, the branch president. We had the first ever branch council meeting! All 4 of us hahaha
8 EVERY house in the mission has about 15 copies of True to the Faith in Spanish and Jesus the Christ in English. I don't know why, but it always happens
9 I'm not sure if I'm in this picture but it's the only one I could get of the temple trip. We were recently getting back from my surgery when they took photos so I might not be there, but the missionary all the way to the right might be me hahaha
10 cleaning a well
11 I'm not really sure who these kids were but they wanted to take a picture
12 I did find one picture of us at the temple the other week and I'm definitely in it
Well that's it! Have a good week!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Mon., 8/7/2017 (Neuland)

WE have had a good week this week. Actually a very good week. Monday after writing we played monopoly. In the evening we had district meeting. Tuesday we took a colectivo to Neuland so I finally got to my area! It's a little German colony that also has 2 neighborhoods of Latinos and a neighborhood of Nivacle Native Americans. We spent Tuesday Wednesday and Thursday working in Neuland. We spend most of our time with the Nivacles because the Germans don't want to listen to us and the Latinos are never at home. It's kind of hard when we teach the Nivacles because only the men speak Spanish, so we have to have a translator or wait for the head of the family to be at home. It's awesome though because they all want to learn about Christ, and with the language barrier we get to teach simple lessons, and there isn't really anyone that wants to try to battle us with words. They are all so nice! The kids rush up to us when we come by and hang off our arms and they're pretty crazy. They all say in a timid voice "tarjeta?" which means card or in this case pass along cards hahaha. Thursday morning we also had to go back to Filadelfia to take out money because we had to go to part of our area for Friday until Sunday. It's a little expensive because it is far away and nobody lives there. Don't forget, we are in the Chaco, a big desert, and the area, Paraiso, is kind of far away. It's another little settlement of Nivacles, and there is a group of members that meet there for church. We have a house there where the members have church. It's an area that only has wells for water, so we have to pull up water for everything, including showering. We also have an outhouse! Cool stuff! Paraiso is the Spanish word for paradise, and if it didn't get up to the 120s (Fahrenheit) some days it would be paradise! It's a really beautiful area. Neuland is also really awesome, especially for the fact that it's the middle of a desert. Elder Castañeda and I have really just been hauling this week. We had good numbers for the fact that we are working in the hardest area in the mission, and we spend half the week traveling. We have been working on serving each other more, and we're both loving the work! We're also working really well together already, so I'm excited for what will happen in this area! Sunday in church we had 33 people come in Paraiso and in Neuland there were 22. From what I've been told, the weeks we're in Neuland everyone goes and if we're not there nobody goes. It's the same with Paraiso. The people here are so awesome! They don't really have that much but they make do with what they have! Today we had to go to Abundancia for district meeting at 6, and there weren't any colectivos so after we got back from Paraiso we had to go last night and we got in a little late. Today we got to be together as a district and played a little bit of soccer. That's the week! One thing that we had to work a lot with is callings. Many times we thing that we have a calling in the church that is more important or less important than another, such as a bishop being more important than a greeter or a Deacons' Quorum secretary, or vice versa, but that's not true. Everything we are assigned to do, is our contract with the Lord and not with anyone else. Every calling is important. We shouldn't aspire to be better than another; we should aspire to be like Jesus. Everyone please think on that, and have a good week!


1 The chapel in Neuland
2 It's all in German!
3 The kids really do just storm us!
4 We also find ourselves far from home at times

5 They wanted a picture of me with their toy gun
6 In Paraiso!
7 With Hermano Paclusi, the group leader in Paraiso. He translates for us too and visits all the members and all the members while we're gone! Great guy
8 We did service at his house Saturday
9 The Elder that I replaced here dropped the bucket down the well and we kind of need that... it took a while, cutting down 2 trees, and a broom, but we got the bucket out!
10 With the bucket
11 We always look for good spots to take nametag photos
12 The little guy on the right has some cool hair... his name's Fabian and he's going to get baptized in about a month! Also the girl in the middle, Norbalda. We're pretty excited for them! They are excited too; they come to church every week an hour before church! And set up the chairs and hymn books! That's dedication for 9 and 10 year olds!

13 Our house/church in Paraiso! They meet in the middle part for church
14 WE got kind of hungry and there aren't stores within 50 km of Paraiso... luckily we had a little bread
15 There aren't any pots in the Paraiso house, so yes we cooked rice in a frying pan!
16 We had to go to Abundancia Sunday night
17 BBQ sauce and rice really isn't that bad when you haven't eaten in about a day... we even had some chicken (even if it's just a drawing)
18 Paraiso in Paraiso