Monday, April 16, 2018

Mon., 4/16/2018 (Loma Plata)

Well we had a good week once again! I'll just get right to it. We started off with District Meeting, which is always a good learning experience. We had a good lesson on diligence. One of the scriptures used was one of my favorites: Doctrine and Covenants 107: 99-100.

Tuesday the Elders from Neuland both came to Loma Plata,and we had a division. I went with Elder Brunson for the day. He has about 6 months here in Paraguay, speaks good Spanish, and is from Idaho. The rest of the week Elder Castellaw and I just continued with the work. We were able to set a few new baptismal dates and were in double digits for new investigators again! Here are a couple things that happened this week:

(1) We had a service project cleaning up a yard and had to fend off the scorpions. We ended up killing 18!

(2) We walked to a community where everyone says our bike thief probably lives, which is an estimated 7 or so km. We didn't find a bike, but the community's police are looking for it and it got announced on the radio. A blessing came and we got a ride back to town

(3) Summer is ending! We had a couple days where we almost had to use sweaters!

(4) We found out that your day goes a lot better when you cook breakfast. We've been eating pancakes every day, with fruit (and carrot and cucumber) smoothies. They taste surprisingly well and honestly eating healthy food just makes you feel... healthier! hahaha

(5) We have Zone Conference this week, so we had to take a colectivo yesterday that left from Filadelfia. As such, we were supposed to take a colectivo from Loma to get to Filadelfia, but our bus came and left an hour early... so we had to take a different one and wait in Abundancia instead. Elder Castellaw is getting to know the whole Chaco really fast!

(6) Elder Castellaw had the idea to make a calendar with the attributes of Christ (you can find them in Preach my Gospel chapter 6) for the change,and we have been focusing on 1 attribute every day. Today's attribute is patience. That has been a theme I've seen come up time and time again on my mission. We all need to remember, that the Lord does what He wants on His own time, and He knows what's best for us! As missionaries we sometimes want success and to see the fruits of our labors right now, but God will do what He wants when He wants. We are currently working our hardest, and having fun. as one Mission President said, we should be tired, happy missionaries. And we are!

Today we are in Asuncion, for a Zone Conference tomorrow.  It's always awesome seeing all the missionaries from my old areas, and learning about what new wisdom Pte Evans is going to give us this week! Thank you all for the prayers, emails, and again, pictures! 1 picture is worth 1000 words!


1 With Fm Colman, our member family: they don't even live here... but they always come from Abundancia for church!

2 Our cheap cherry punch looks just like the hand sanitizer.

3 We're always visiting.

4 And with Elder Castellaw.

5 At service for Esteban's family! His mom is a member, and he wants to get baptized soon!

6 We cleaned up the yard in the back.

7 It got a little chilly.

8 Kitchen creations: fruit smoothies and coconut syrup.

9 At the airport.

10 We went looking for the bike.

11 Hitching a ride home.

12 Sign pointing to a store......

13 ... but there never was a store there.

14 Filadelfia sunrise.

15 Dream team.

16 Welcome to the Chaco!

17 We found a lake in our area! It's called a taja mar; they make them to store water, like a reservoir.

18 Broken luggage wheels (it's like a rite of passage into the Chaco).

19 We found a door in our house, so we just use it as a table since we don't have one.

20 Go look at my email from last Christmas's Zone Conference!

21 Walking to Abundancia late last week during changes.

22 Throwback to Christmas conference... who would have known!

23 When someone gave us a ride.

24 Running for exercise at 6:30 a.m.

25 I promise I didn't drink all that! hahhaa

Well that's it. The ciber we went to had lightning fast internet! I hope y'all like the pictures! Have a great week, I love you all!

Monday, April 9, 2018

Mon., 4/9/2018 (Loma Plata)

Wow has it been a good week! I'll just get right to it! We started off with some changes. Elder Trejo and I had to take a bus at 10 p.m. from Filadelfia to Abundancia Tuesday night, getting to bed at 12 midnight.

We got up at 3:15 to walk the 2 km back to the street, where around 4 a.m. or so the colectivo with the missionaries for changes passed. The new missionary in Abundancia is an Elder Falcon, who is from Argentina. My new companion is Elder... Castellaw! From... Oakton, VIRGINIA! Man let me tell you, it's been an awesome week! We get along really well and it's great just getting out to work! Elder Castellaw has 9 months in the mission and we met last Christmas when he won my white elephant gift- rubber ducky goggles! Elder Castellaw and I decided we just want to put in work for the next six weeks, and so that's what we did! Here are a couple experiences:

- while we were walking home from the terminal during the siesta (2pm, the hottest part of the day) with Elder Castellaw's stuff, we stopped for a moment in a tiny bit of shade, and said a quick prayer that God would send someone to help us, since we don't know anyone with a car and with a bunch of bags and around a km ahead of us, we were tired. Moments later, a car passed, went a block further, then circled back and offered us a ride right to our house!

-while we were walking along a busy street, a man in a car waved us over and asked us a question; "so is there a branch here now?" We told him no but we do have a group. He said he was visiting from Luque (Asuncion area), then pulled out 2 brand new hats and gave them to us! Nice guy!

-we were contacting and felt that we should go down a street that looked like houses from the states, even though normally we don't work in that area as much. We kept going until we found out the reason for going there: a member of the church was doing fencing outside and said he would be able to come to church and that he had just gotten here!

-Sunday night we were coming home after dark and it was really dusty. We hadn't done all of our studies yet, so we decided to get some studies in. We felt bad though because we were 1 short on our goal for new investigators for the week. We had the thought to look for someone the missionaries had met a few months ago and weren't able to find again, so we stopped by her house, and she was home! That really strengthened my testimony that if we want to work towards a goal for the Lord, he will always help us. That doesn't mean it'll be easy though. We will always have to clap at one more house, knock on one more door, or make one more call.

We have been blessed here in Loma Plata with a lot of new investigators, 4 investigators with new baptismal dates and 2 investigators in church (with us, that makes 4 people in church). We are hoping to have another great week on the grind out here in Loma Plata. Thanks for all of your prayers, emails, and especially photos!

Also on a random note, apparently Pte Matthew Harding [newly released Raleigh Stake President and new Area Authority] and Rocky Quiller [My parents Bishop when I was born and now a High Councilman in my home Stake] both sent letters (Pte Harding's was from 15 December 2018 hahaha) and I received them today. It's always nice getting stuff like that, even if it takes a while to get here!

Ya so my pictures aren't working but Elder Castellaws did so here are a couple of the week; hopefully they work out next week!

[Elder Olson forwarded his new companion's letter and pictures, so here they are:]

Whats gucciiii!!!

So crazy stuff went down this week and we had changes and I ended up in the Chaco! This area is the further most area in the Northern part of Paraguay. I had to take a 7 hour bus ride up to this area and it was wild, like super bumpy and dirt road only in the middle of the night. But I was met by my new comp Elder Olson and it was destiny or something because he is from North Carolina and we are the only 2 missionaries in our mission from the East Coast; and now were comps!!! So it was extremely hype and this whole week that's like all we've been talking about and just boolin out working up a storm here. And he is super motivated and hard working so we feana do big things this change.

A little about the Chaco, my area is called Loma Plata and the thing about the Chaco is that here is where all these Germans fled from Germany for religious freedom a long time ago. And so they rolled up here in Paraguay and made their own colonies and everything. And that grew to about 20,000 people now. And then we have the normal Paraguayans up here that move here to work for the Germans cause they run like everything. And then on top of that we have the Indigenous which are like indians that are like straight up Natives from old time Paraguay. And this group of natives are called Lenguas.

So the Germans are like impossible to do anything with cause they are all part of this religion called Mennonite. And they are very strong and want nothing to do with the Mormon missionaries. So we geek out sometimes and clap at their houses just to hear their rejections in Dutch. So we are working with the Paraguayans and a lil with the natives but they super don't speak Spanish but their other native language.

There are 4 areas here in the Chaco where there are missionaries. Filidefilia, Neuland, Loma Plata, and Abudancia. And there are only 8 elders here, one companionship in each area. And what's kinda cool about Loma Plata is missionaries legit just opened this area to missionary work and the church about 8 months ago. So there´s no ward or branch but we are a group and our job is to literally build the church here. Church on Sunday we had 4 people there: Me, my comp, and our 2 investigators Jose and Angel. And our church building is just the house right next to our house as seen in the picture. We have no members or really anything in our area and its hype to just be like yooo we are starting this and its our responsibility to get this going. And hopefully that's what we can do!

This first week was awesome in that it was my first week here but also that we went to work and put in that grind. We saw a lot of miracles and found a lot of great people. And blessed to have 2 of them come to church on Sunday. I know it's not gonna be easy and will be discouraging at times but I know that this is the work of the Lord and I am here for a reason. To spread and share his gospel and the special message we have for the people.

I love you all and thank you for the support and emails!

Elder Castellaw

[Welcome to the Chaco!]

[The baptismal font in front of the apartment & "church."]

[Elder Olson and Elder Castellaw]

[Countryside is flat and with dirt roads.]


[4 church attendees]

[Lots of interesting critters.]

Monday, April 2, 2018

Mon., 4/2/2018 (Loma Plata)

Well I'll get right to it. We have changes this week! I'll be ... Staying in Loma Plata! Crazy huh? I've been here a while in the Chaco (this will be my 7th change) and I'll be here for at least a little longer! Elder Garrett will be leaving for some other place. Also with him will be Elder Salazar, who came with me to the Chaco when I got here! It's kind of crazy, the fact that all the faces here are different from when I came!

The highlight by far of this week was General Conference! It was a rare opportunity to sustain the new President of the church, Russell M. Nelson, and also 2 new apostles! Some quick take-aways I got out of conference: LOVE AND SERVE OTHERS! It's so important. We literally have the church for that reason! There are so many problems in the world, and we can wait to watch more happen, or fight back and stop the problems! Everyone needs a helping hand. We shouldn't wait and say "some day, " because as Pte Eyring has told us, that just means "not this day!"  We also need to watch our mouths and attitudes, and do our service meekly. Service means a lot when we do it when we want, but even more when we do it when the Lord wants! For those who don't remember, we serve in a group here in Loma Plata, which means in a tiny concrete-floored, brick-walled room, so we don't have a computer. We had to go to Filadelfia (where our Branch is) to watch the Conference, and were unable to bring others with us. It rained again this week, and with the road conditions, we almost missed the Conference. But as always, where there's a will, there's a way, and we got to see it all! Even a couple of sessions in English! The changes from Home Teaching and Visiting Teaching to the more simple, ministering is an inspired change that is similar to recent changes in missionary work, with the numbers required being taken away and replaced by the more important need of actually getting something done. Many people did their required monthly visits, but didn't understand the need to really be there for their families when needed, but now members are required to live the higher law and not just check off the monthly visit but really be a strength for those who need it. I testify that Russell M Nelson is a prophet of God, and that he is preparing us for the time when Jesus will come again (scriptures, also Gospel Principles ch. 43-44). I also testify that we need to repent because Jesus Christ wants to help us, but He only can help those that help themselves. He's knocking at the door, so let Him in! I love you all!

This week by the numbers:

1 bike stolen (Elder Garrett's; but we are hot on the trail of the thief).
[And also the number of Elder Olson's Stake Former Stake Presidents who was called as an Area Authority:  Matthew Scott Harding.]
2 New apostles.
7 New temples announced--including one in Elder Garrett's home city (Layton, UT; he fell out of his chair at that announcement), one in Richmond, Va! Also in the Philipines, Nicaragua, India, Russia, and Salta, Argentina! The temple in Salta is actually super close; just a little further from me than the Paraguay temple!
93: the  number of pancakes we cooked for General Conference in Filadelfia


1 Elder Garrett photography part 1

2 part 2 ft me making phone calls.

3 Kitchen creations featring Vienna sausage and Serrano rice.

4 With our friends Jose and Santiago. They're both super dope and Jose is progressing towards baptism. He has learned so much about repentance and the need of it; also understanding the importance of prophets. He will hopefully be batized soon!

5 We made a few pancakes for the Filadelfia members!

6 The Filidelfia chapel after conference!

7 Playing some Phase 10 waiting to write y'all.

8 We don't even have a table to cook on or store the food so here's what our pantry looks like. hahaha

Monday, March 26, 2018

Mon., 3/26/2018 (Loma Plata)

Well as usual it's been a really fast week!

 Tuesday to Wednesday we had a division, and I went with Elder Trejo, from Arizona to Abundancia to work. I've been here in the Chaco for 8 months and it was my first time working there. They have an interesting area, which consists of a 500 person community of Nivacle indigenous members. Only a small portion aren't members of the church. Due to the rates of church attendance, there are currently 2 sister missionaries working there, with the Elders now free to leave the community and preach the gospel in the surrounding communities. Abundancia's area where they work is reallllllllly big. We ended up having to walk that day, and the weather actually felt like winter weather! That probably means it's 60 degrees outside, but compared to the weather we normally have, it was a nice break from the 100 plus we normally have.

After that it was back to Loma Plata. Once again we had rain Sunday, which makes it hard for people to come to church, but we had a good meeting anyways. As usual, Elder Garrett and I do everything in church. We missed our bus (Paraguayan version... the bus never showed up hahaha) so we biked to Filadelfia instead. We had to do it during the daylight because it gets super dark and nobody drives defensively here hahaha. Due to the winter weather, the sun was out but it felt really nice outside. We also got good news this week in that our investigator, Perla who has had all the lessons, has to get married to her husband, and he had to get a divorce first, but all that should be taken care of in the next week or 2, so we may have a baptism coming up! We have been working with a few more people who have good prospects of getting baptized too.

With changes coming up, Elder Garrett and I think I'll be leaving, as he is about to end his mission here and I've been in the Chaco a looooooooooooong time. But we really don't know, so we just have to keep working! The next change whoever stays will have a good amount of success!

 It hasn't been so long here in Loma Plata, but so far I have learned a lot. Elder Garrett is really good at helping me realize what I need to work on, and so I think of all my time in the mission, I've improved as a person here in Loma Plata. We've really focused on serving others. I've always held service up to be an important aspect, but to be honest, I haven't always served without complaining. Recently I've learned a lot about serving and never saying anything negative; just giving a smile and saying  'I'm on it.'

 Well that's about all except for one more announcement: GENERAL CONFERENCE IS COMING UP! It's a big event, so make sure to take this opportunity to listen to our prophet and the other church leaders. For more enlightenment, look up 1 Nephi 19:23. Have a good week; I love you all!


1 Biking a little.

2 A couple of ostriches, no big deal.

3 Vegetables all day (when it's Sunday and you have to use whatever's left in the fridge).

4 Anthill under Elder Garrett's bed.

5 and 6 Elder Garrett and I at the only restaurant here in Loma Plata that's actually a restaurant.

7 Our house.

8 Elder Garrett's astounding photography skills... getting the lighting just right.

9 Division in Abundancia with Elder Trejo! We played basketball for exercise time! It was my first time playing in ages.

10 Abundancia.

11 same

12 Some goats.

13 Some pigs .

14 We found a hill in Abu.

15 Last week after district meeting.

16 When the Zone Leaders came up a couple weeks ago. Elder Staheli was also trained by my trainer, Elder Bridge, so he's my 'brother' in the mission!