Thursday, October 19, 2017

Mon., 10/16/2017 (Neuland/Paraiso)

We had a busy week! Well I guess it always is! Monday we had P-day as usual, then district meeting, where Elder Singer, an Elder in our district, went home. He spent over half of his mission here in the Chaco, which is admirable because let's just say it isn't for the weak-hearted. He also was one of the key workers in getting all the Nivacle natives to the temple. As a tribute we sang God Be With You Til We Meet Again and waved white napkins (like hankerchiefs). Tuesday through Thursday we were back in Neuland trying to teach and find new people to teach. Friday we went off to Paraiso (paradise in Spanish). Friday was payday and Saturday was soccer-game day in some other community, so there were very few in their houses. WE did use that time to go contacting and also look for some members that we've never seen at church, so the time wasn't too awfully spent. The bugs and such were ALL over; we found a couple black widows, a lot of other spiders, 4 wasp nests (we went to war with them), some kind of cardinal, a frog, herds of goats in the road, but thankfully, not a single mosquito. Saturday night we got a call about transfers, and WE ARE... staying together another change! It's exciting. We are glad to get back on out to work together for our 3rd change together inviting ALL to come unto Christ. Sunday we had church then came home to Neuland. In the evening we took a colectivo to Abundancia, where we are waiting for the new Elders in the Chaco to come. Elder Castañeda and I are excited to be working together for our 3rd change. This week we have really seen a lot about challenges. Some places, life is hard because of environment conditions, other areas because of the temperature, others because of social issues. In every place, there are problems. You know what we should do? Be grateful for what we have, and be grateful for the challenges we have. If we have faith to follow God's will he will give us a way to do what we need to do. Think of challenges as an opportunity to show our faith, not an obstacle!

Thanks for your prayers and emails, and have a good week! I love you all!

1 Boqueron (the Chaco) district in our last district meeting
2 With my amigos Emer and Denil (both in yellow and black) and a couple other little guys
3 we found some deadly spiders this week in Paraiso
4 Our Book of Mormons and nametags

5 We found a frog too
6 Soup for dinner
7 One of 4 wasp nests we had to remove
8 LOOOOOOOTS of spiders

9 Paraiso is beautiful!
10 Very beautiful!
11 Me with the Paraiso sign
12 Our house in Paraiso. The brick box looking things are our 2 water tanks, that each have about 3 to 5 thousand liter capacity

13 Us with the house in Paraiso
14 The bedroom
15 The kitchen
16 Goat crossing!

17 The truck kicking up dust on the way back home
18 we could not see for about 30 minutes for how much dust there was behind other vehicles
19 Service during P-day in Abundancia: Moving water from here...
20 to here
21 Elder Starks went from Loma Plata to Abundancia (both are in the Chaco)! This is him and Carlos Colman, who lives with his family right next to the missionaries of Abundancia. He brought in 1000 liters of clean drinking water, so we helped move it to a new container at their house. Pte Colman (he is in the district presidency) filled up buckets, handed them to Elder Starks who lifted them to me, and I dumped them into the other container. Elder Castañeda and Elder Salazar cooked in the meantime
22 Me dumping water into the container
23 Service projects 1 meter from the missionaries' house is pretty convenient
24 Elder Starks was a little hungry after that service!

25 Arroz chaufau, thanks to Elderes Castañeda and Salazar.
26 While making the 40 yard walk to the chapel, unlocking it and walking inside to the computers, ALL of our ice melted.. it does get hot here!
27 With some friends in Paraiso about 30 minutes before church! They always come early!
Mon., 10/9/2017 (Neuland/Paraiso)

It has been a good week, and a fast one too. We started out with Monday, and celebrated 1 year in the mission for Elder Brower, Elder Whipple and I, and 2 years for Elder Singer with Shish kabobs! This district we have had for the last 2 changes was awesome! We stilll aren't done yet, but changes are coming up next week! Tuesday Elder Castañeda and I got back to business. It has been HOT lately, and our water bottles last us about 10 minutes until we have to ask for water, but it's awesome. Friday night we got some rain in which was awesome, because it is really dusty here and the rain cakes it down. Saturday we had a big day. Nicacio and Fiorella, a couple we have been teaching, had their baptismal service planned. The assistants of the mission came to do the interviews. Nicacio ended up having to have an interview with Pte Evans, but Pte Evans also just happened to be there! Nicacio is a man that had a lot of stuff happen in his past, and was very joyful when we taught about Christ and repentance. He has had a lot of miracles happen, and has changed so much in the time we've known him. He and Fiorella wanted to get married to provide a better home for their daughters, and be closer as a family. He read Moroni 10:3-5 on his own, and did what it says. He asked God what the truth was and received an answer! We are honestly so happy for them-. Anyways, since it rained so much and we are in the middle of the Chaco, the judge was unable to come Saturday because the roads were impossible to travel for his moped. We did however have a barbecue with all the members, and postponed til the next day. Sunday we had their marriage, their baptisms, and then church. This week we have been very focused on trials. We will always have trials and problems, but it's more important to think about what we do with the trials that we have. Will we be like Nephi and Sam, or will we be like Laman and Lemuel? I personally want to be like Nephi. Life is hard, but we just have to dig in and put in work. I love you all and hope you have a great week!

1 Shish kabobs again!
2 The whole Chaco district!
3 We burned a shirt for our year mark!
4 And let me tell you it has been a FAST year! Fun one too!
5 Nicacio and Fiorella got married! Also pictured is the judge that came from 55 km away to marry them!
6 They then got baptized!
7 It was a good day!
8 Nicacio and Elder Castañeda
9 Fiorella and I
10 Hermana Evans dropped us off a bag of oranges because they are super expensive in the Chaco
11 The Elders from Loma Plata decided to bike to Filadelfia for P-day and district meeting, which is about 20 miles of dust dust dust and more dust. Their new bikes were recently taken out of Yby Yau (my old area)

Friday, October 6, 2017

Mon., 10/2/2017 (Neuland/Paraiso)

It has been a really great week! Not so busy in Neuland but everywhere else, yes. We started off ending P-day with some really good chipa in Asuncion, then we went to stay with the office elders for the night. Tuesday we had zone conference about Justice and Mercy. It really went well with the general conference topics which will be mentioned later. We took a colectivo of 43 and 44 seats back to the Chaco. That's unfortunate because Elders Stark's and Whipple's tickets were for seats 45 and 46. The bathroom occupied that space, so they stood the whole way. That's a feat, as it left at 11 pm and got in around 6 or 7 am. We got back to Neuland Wednesday afternoon (we had to take a second colectivo) and we went to all our investigators really fast since we didn't have much time for the week. Friday we got the chapel ready for general conference, and got the computer ready, because we went to Abundancia to watch conference in English. That evening we got a ride from the building maintainence guy to Abundancia. We stayed there for general conference til Sunday, when we walked 4 or 5 km to get to the closest place where the colectivos stop. We are in Filadelfia for the day today, with cinnamon rolls for the year mark of my mission! And also Elder Brower and Elder Whipple who are in the district. That's the week!

General conference was great. The speakers were all direct, and it was awesome! Really so awesome. They talked a lot about how we are all not perfect, how we all make mistakes but we need to do all we can to try to be perfect. They talked a lot about faith and how we need to have it and strengthen it. We heard about how it is IMPOSSIBLE that the Book of Mormon isn't true. It's impossible. If you don't believe me watch conference again because it was in SO many talks, especially Tad R Callister's talk. I think it is quite clear that how the church is, it is and nobody is going to change it. The doctrine is simple and pure, and people trying to change it are wasting their time. The best part, personally for me, was when Elder Hallstrom asked us if we have the faith to be healed. He then asked us IF WE HAVE FAITH TO NOT be healed. Wow that is a good question. Do we? Do I? Do you? If that answer isn't a yes, make it one! Also, another interesting point is that President Monson was not there in person. I don't know about y'all, but I heard his name and voice in Every single talk. Our prophet has counseled us to read our scriptures. Let's do it! Robert D Hales also passed away. It's sad but not, at the same time, because he was a great man and taught us a lot. Russell M. Nelson, who skipped part of conference to be there with him, is also a good example, of leaving what's important to you to serve others. Service was also brought up a lot. We need to love others and serve. This was by far the best conference I have been to, and I didn't miss a single talk! We watched it all, and I agree with everything every speaker said. The book is blue, the church is true. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen. Have a great week!

SORRY BLOGGER READERS!  I CAN'T COPY AND PASTE LIKE BEFORE!

1 Eating chipa in asuncion
2 A 6th consecutive zone conference with Elder Villacresses (assistant now)
3 Elder Hermansen and I both have name tags in german (you have to be able to bear your testimony to qualify)
4 I saw a few elders from past zones
5 My old zone leader Elder Pace is going home this change
6 My old zone leader Elder Grey
7 It got a little warm in Neuland... That's 46 degrees... Celcius
8 Elder Castañeda cutting trees down during a service project
9 And there I am up in a tree cutting them down too
10 We cut down a few trees right next to the Nivacle Catholic Chapel (the neighbors are members)
11 As we cut trees down, a small army marched past with flags made of bags and shouting (translated to English) Champions! Wee Oh Wee! Champions! Wee O Wee!
12 This tree wouldn't go down! And yes we cut them down with a machete
13 There is the Nivacle Community Monument
14 They "fixed" the chapel
15 Conference in Abundancia in English with Elder Brower, Elder Starks, and Elder Whipple
16 We had to cook out for priesthood session
17 We ate Peruvian lomitos(Mike, show this to the Romo family please)
18 The Abundancia chapel at night
19 And by day
20 It got cold for the other elders who all had blankets last night in Filadelfia, but there weren't enough blankets so Elder brower and I suffered it out with wet towels hahaha
21 We all made cinnamon rolls for p-day
22 Elder Brower wanted to roll some connamon rolls too
23 There's the cinnamon
24 Word is on the street that Elder Brower and Elder Castañeda are just going to switch when we have changes... well that's not true but it's what we all want so we can all stay in the same district more time together
25 Prepping for the oven
26 Ready to raise
27 I stir the icing, I eat it, right?
28 Elder Starks and Elder Whipple, sleeping
29 cool baptism photos from Abundancia
30 same
31same
32 The Abundancia Elders house's doorknob...
Mon., 9/25/2017 (Neuland/Paraiso)

It has been a fast-paced week, and we are out of time so here's the week.
We cooked some shish kabobs for P-day. The rest of the week was spent teaching a lot of great people. We had Elder Whipple and his companion Elder Starks come in Friday for baptismal interviews. Saturday we had the baptism of Rosilda. She is 10 years old and is a cousin of our convert, Jose Julian. We thought her parents were members, but found out this Sunday that they aren't, so hopefully they will also be progressing. Rosilda was really excited, even though the water was COLD hahaha. Saturday before the baptism we took advantage of realllllly nice weather (clouds) and got in some yard work at the chapel. Sunday we taught Primary (first time we have had it) and got ready in the evening hours and traveled all night to Asuncion. The 8 elders from the Chaco were all together with the office elders and Assistants today, and they asked us if 2 elders could help with a service project. Service projects are fun, so we volunteered (Elder Castañeda and I). It ended up taking all of P-day and we still haven't eaten all day, but it was a lot of fun. We moved boxes, fans, mattresses, and a lot of other things for hours for a dental (nonprofit?), from a military hospital to another building. Sorry I'm out of time, but I hope you all have a good week, and don't forget to look for someone to serve this week!

SORRY BLOGGER READERS.  NO CAN COPY AND PASTE PICTURES!

1 We had a cookout for P-day (the Filadelfia Elders' landlord supplied the materials)!

2 Shish-kabobs!

3 Peach pie and ice cream included!

4 President Evans asked the mission to cover up all the graffiti in our houses so we got to it with the spray pain

5 Yard work

6 We trimmed a few trees

7 Baptism of Rosilda

8 That water was COLD

9 VERY COLD but the spirit was strong

10 Our colectivo yesterday had some weird party bus lighting going on

11 Service project deep into the south mission, for "Operation Smile"

12 We got t-shirts!(with the assistants)

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!

AGAIN, NO PICTURES.  SORRY BLOGGER READERS.  ELDER OLSON SENDS THEM TO ME, BUT THEY WON'T CUT AND PASTE!  I'VE TRIED SEVERAL COMPUTERS AND NONE OF THEM WORK FOR THIS TASK!

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!

GUESS WHAT?  I STILL CAN'T FIGURE OUT WHY I CAN'T COPY PICTURES ANY MORE!! SORRY!  THE TEXT COPIES JUST FINE, BUT THE PICTURES WON'T.  SORRY!  THEY ARE PRETTY NEAT1

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!

SORRY BLOGGER READERS, I STILL CAN'T CUT AND PASTE PICTURES!
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
5 Punch, anyone? (IN BIG FIVE GALLON CONTAINER)
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.
(ELDER OLSON IS DRESSED IN WHITE IN THE LAST FIVE PICTURES AND HOLDING THE SIGN OF THE CHURCH, SINCE IT IS NOT ON THE CHURCH ANYMORE, HAVING BLOWN OFF.  I GUESS HE BAPTIZED SOME OF THE CONVERTS.)

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