Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Tues., 11/22/2016
(Sent from a kind stranger while Missionaries were finally en route to Paraguay)
To the parents/family of Elders Armstrong, Lovelace, Olson, Glasgow, Whipple, Brower, and Schmidt
A few hours ago I was on a layover in the Mexico City airport and I found this group of spiritual studs on their way to Paraguay. They said to tell you all that they're ready, prepared and that they love you. As a return missionary from Ecuador, I know my family was the biggest influence on my preparation to serve, and I want to thank you for all that you have done to help prepare them to preach the gospel.

Éxitos en todo!

Tues., 11/29/2016

(Letter from Paraguay Asuncion Mission President)

Dear Family of Elder Olson,

We are so happy that your son has joined us here in the Paraguay Asuncion North mission. I am a little tardy getting this off to you. We know that as he commits to work hard and be obedient to mission rules, and continues to study and seek the guidance of the Holy Ghost, he will have a great experience on his mission. He will grow to love the people, he will be willing to pass through difficulties, and he will come to know and love his Savior in a more profound way than he has ever known. His first day here, we were able to give all the incoming missionaries some training on staying healthy, finances, mail, etc. We were able to share some of the history of the Church here in Paraguay, go to the temple grounds, and participate in a wonderful testimony meeting at our home with all the new missionaries arriving that day. Your son was interviewed and met his trainer, Elder Bridge who was specially chosen for him. He has been trained to help your son in all the skills he will need to be a good missionary. We hope you will enjoy these pictures that we are attaching. We already love your son! Thank you for raising such a fine young man who is so willing to serve his Father in Heaven and be a blessing to the people here and to his fellow missionaries. We truly pray for them every day and are committed to working diligently to help them in whatever they need to be happy and successful. May the Lord bless you and your son for the sacrifices, the faith, and the love that you are extending to the people here. Thank you for all of your support.

With much love, 

President and Sister Evans
Mon., 12/26/2016
Picts. 1

1 with Elders Passos Hale and Robalino and the familia Benitez; we painted their house
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2 with Elder Hale painting. A lot of pictures there is a bad one and a good one, so sorry if I send non photogenic pictures
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3 painting
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4 painting more
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Mon., 12/26/2016
And more...

1 Shangri La for our last P dayDisplaying DSCN0486[1].JPG
2 Asuncion
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3 Our sink, thats baically a pipe with a stopper on the end
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4 pan dulce, we get this at least every week from a member
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Ok I have to go now, have a good wek!
Mon., 12/26/2016
Mooore picts.

1 the milk liter boxes we get
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2 the milk bags we also get
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3 our sammich (sandwich) toaster. We have this and a stove to cook stuff, so it gets use a lot
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4 the keyboards here...

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Mon., 12/26/2016
More pics.
1 Elder Passos and I and Hermana and Hermano Gomez. She is a convert, and is strong in the church. She feeds us every week and the other Elders every week, and she heard we were sick so she made us a 5 gallon bucket of fruit salad, Paraguay style. He is inactive, never has a shirt on and is always partially drunk, but he is really nice and always says tranquilo. He always tells us he has read from the Book of Mormon, but the one he has is in guarani and he can't read it, but we pull it out and read to him in guarani sometimes. They say that they are our Paraguayan Parents, because whenever we stop by they give us ice cream, and they feed us all the time. Great couple.
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2 since y'all asked for random pictures of what is around the house, here is some. The shower head.
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3 the bathroom
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4 the other side of the bathroom
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Mon., 12/26/2017
Pics 2
1 carried that lawnmower halfway across Paraguay
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2 same as 1
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3 Christmas in Paraguay! I forgot to tell, we traded ties and shirts and stuff like that for Christmas.
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4 As a parting gift, Elder Passos gave Elder Bridge a matching... Simpsons shirt hahaha
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Mon., 12/26/2016
It has been a busy week as usual. I had to work with Elder Robalino 2 days this week, but its the end of the transfer so we won't have to do that anymore. President found out and he wasn't approving of how us 2 were together 2 times a week. The second day we were together, we had a service project, with Elders Passos and Hale, and scraped the walls of and repainted a house for a less active family. Then on Thursday we had another service project where we had to carry a lawn mower around 4 or 5 km to, and we cut her grass and weeds and other such tasks. The other Elders joined us, and we had 2 machetes and a lawn mower going. The yard had an old septic tank or pit or something in it that we weren't notified of beforehand, and that made it a lot harder because the yard was all wet and swampy. It was a scorcher that day, and no clouds. We worked for a few hours, and couldn't finish, so we told the Hermana(our recent convert who is getting surgery soon) that we had to leave. She was super mad, and it was knid of sad because we had done what we could and it wasn't good enough. Then we still ahd to carry that lawnmower to its owner, then walk a couple more km home. By the time we got home, Elder Robalino and Passos were home from a couple things they had to do after the project, and Elder Robalino was vomiting and such. He soon was taken to then hopsital. That night, I started vomiting and such too, and all friday I couyldn't get off my bed or I would throw up from having to stand. Fun stuff. Saturday was Christmas Eve, and I had to stay in with Elder Robalino who was just out of the hospital and finally ok after 2 days with an IV, but Elder Passos was fine from his diarrhea the previous day and Elder Bridge was fine so they went out and got stuff by members. Christmas eve here is christmas, because they are all drunk and eat tons. Theyall have different music in each house but it is all blasted and every house is different. Plus around midnight EVERYONE EVERYWHERE sets off fire works. Imagine Germany or London getting bombed in WW2. It was crazy. Sunday was Christmas. Elder Bruidge had to take a pill series called the bomb on friday that kills everything bad in your system since he is laving this week, so he finally felty it on sunday. He was super sick. We all had to give talks in church about Christmas, except for Elder Robalino. We gave Elder Bridge a blessing right at the beginning of church, and he was healed and had no pain til after his talk. Then he felt bad again. He stayed behind with Elder Robalino, and Elder Passos and I went out to go to lunch and other appointments. One lady is giving us a % gallon bucket of fruit salad... We can't even fit that in the fridge. They love the Elder here. We also taught a lesson in Portuguese, and I gave out my first portuguese O Livro De Mórmon. Elder Passos is from Rio, and the 3 people we taught are from Brazil too. They have a brother who is a less active in our ward. Then after that we skyped. Y'all know what happened for mine, but before there was an hermana in Argentina whose family and friends had to skype from the church and they started way late. After me was the 2 latinos then Elder Bridge. He isn't even emailing today because He is going to be home this week. Today we went to Asuncion, and had time so we went to Shangri La, which is like a chinese Golden Corral. It was really good, they had all kinds of good food but the best was some honey glazed fried chicken stuff. Then we went to the office and waited for Elder Bridges interview. Then we came here, and that's the week! I'll send pictures, but I don'ty have too much time. Ciao!

Los amo,

Elder Olson
Paraguay Asuncion North Mission

Monday, December 19, 2016

Mon., 12/19/2016

Its been a busy 6 weeks! Most of the time has been just working a lot. Weve had a good dealof rain, and its been raining all day. 2 Saturdays ago we had a baptism! It was this nice lady whos around 60 years old, and she was excited to get baptised. That day we went to the church at 6:30 and cleaned the baptismal font, then started filling it with water. We went home and got ready for the day, then came back and turned the water off. Then we made brownies and a coconut cake for the baptism. We had the baptism around 4 that day, and then had our food and some sandwiches and soda. then last monday we went  to San Lorenzo, Del Maestro and Mboi'y for Elder Bridges despedidas(visiting old areas is allowed for 2 mondays in you last change in the mission.) Mboi'y was last, and we were a bit behind schedule when we got on a collectivo to Limpio(were right outside of Limpio). Well the bus went back to San lorenzo. Then Asuncion, and then Limpio. It took us a loooot longer to get home. So thats why I didn't email much last week. The next day, Tuesday, we went to Asuncion for a 2 zone conference. It was pretty good and we learned a lot. After, we had a few things to get, and oredered my Guarani nametags. They should be here before my training is over! To answer dads question, yes we use the Light the World video and pass along cards, but for us its Illuminar el Mundo. Wednesday and Thursday were really hard, because I had to work with Elder Robalino 2 days straight and he is just as new as me, and we had to walk super slow because he has an ankle problem or something like that. But I was back with Elder Bridge for the rest of the week. Saturday we had a cool service project; the 4 of us elders helped Hermano Flor tear down half of his house. That took al morning, then later that day was another baptism, this time for Elders Passos and Robalino, but Elder Bridge and I ended up cooking the brownies and this time made a marble cake, because the other Elders can't cook. We also went tothe store because the bishop gave us 50 mil to spend on soda and cookies and such. Yesterday after church we had lunch with Hermana Gomez; she feeds us every Sunday and its always a ton. She stuffed us full of empanadas, rice, milanesa, and fruit salad, among other stuff, (and by the way we have to eat everything we can stuff into our faces because its rude to not eat everything you're given) then after we couldn't finish she brought out ice cream. We were slowed down all day, but didn't even need to eat dinner hahaha. Today was Elder Bridges last Pday for despididas. We went to an area called Piquete Cue, which doesn't have many trees. A minute or 2 after we got off the collectivo, the rain started. It was really hard rain. Since then it has been raining all day. We are in Luque for emailing. This is my last week with Elder Bridge, since he is leaving in a week for home, and I'll have a new companion. I will probably stay here for the next 6 weeks, but it is possible that they will send me to another area, who knows? Thats all for this week, but I hope you all have a good one!

Elder Olson
Paraguay Asuncion North Mission

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Mon., 12/12/2016

So we had to go on a couple trips to san lorenzo, del maestro, and mboiy uh(no idea how to spell) and a bus we took home detoured an hour into asuncion unexpectedly... the buses here are confusing! So I dont have much time, because its 6 and thats our time to be done with Pday but Ill fill you in next week. Basically Im still working hard, sweating buckets, and we had a baptism saturdsay! Its a nice lady whos in her 60s. Christmas is coming up! If you could, please find a time and let me know who youll be with and their skype info, and let me know what times you will be available. We will have some stuff on but we can do it on  Christmas or Christmas eve but Ill need to know all times when will be open for you, if you could let me know in your and paraguay time. All times both days is what I need because we have to coordinate with my companions family too. By the way I get a full hour!

 Also, I have recieved a complaint that the blog hasnt been updated in a while? If yall could itd be nice to have that up because I guess people really are reading it! Sorry for being demanding today, my email next week will be a lot more informative and have pictures from the baptism and such. Yall have a good week!


Elder Olson
Paraguay Asuncion North Mission

Yes, his mother apologizes profusely and will do better!

Mon., 12/5/2016

Well its been a busy week! Everything is so difficult because its in Español, but thats fine, because Im learning faster. Monday about 20 minutes after I emailed, we got a call from the assistants to the president(APs), and they told us that the next day we needed to go help in their area. as a result, we got up early on Tuesday and rode a few busses to their area, Mariano. Its a little closer to Asuncion, and is a chuchi(guarani for rich) area. For the day, I went with Elder Bickley, and Elder bridge went with Elder Crofts. Elder Bickley is the one I sent a picture of last week where he took a selfie. We worked all day, then slept overnight. Wednesday Elder Bridge and I walked to a bridge thats at least a half mile long that extends over  the Rio Paraguay, and took pictures on top. After that, we headed home. We went out and taught that day and thursday as normal. Thursday, Elder Bridge and Elder Passos had to do exchanges as they are zone leaders. So I worked with Elder Robalino that day. Hes as new as me, just knows spanish already. We worked for a while, but it was suuuper hot, and he got sick, mos liekly dehydrated. we stayed at home for a few hours in their casa(which is about a block from ours), and I studied for a while. Thy have a relatively new air conditioner, so it was great for while I studied. When he was better we went out to contact some more. Friday we were back to normal companions, and it was the hottest day Ive ever had. We were drinking probably 2 or 3 liters of water an hour, and had to stop in shade whenever we could. We were in a neighborhood with no shade for a while, and it was brutal. the good thing is its so hot here you cant feel sunburns if you have them hahaha. I have made sure to drink enough water, because its the only way to survive down here. Asking random people for water is a good conversation starter, and so we just ask random poeple if we can have a bit of water. Theyre all so friendly here that anyone will give us water. weve even had people give us water while were passing them. Saturday was also hot, but we stayed out most of the day. There was a baptism at our chapel, because the elders from Limpio had a baptism and their water didnt work. One of the Elders was Elder Armstrong from my MTC group, so it was nice to see him. He was in the hospital this week for a few days, but hes recovered and doing well. Sunday we had church, and the air conditioning worked! It was so much better than last week, and everyone(well most people) was able to stay awake. It was fast sunday, and here everyone fasts from lunch saturday to lunch sunday. We went out and contacted most of the rest of the day, then went to the ward counsel meeting. Today for Pday we are in Luque, and got to get some pizzas for lunch.Â

The food this week has been a little more iffy than last week. We have meals with members most lunches, and they have rice with every meal. Not just rice though. Its rice with either a smothering of cheese, mayo, or both. I'm going to go ahead and say I really don't like it. But it's bearable. The fruit salad here is awesome. its basically a bunch of cut up fruit like in america, but they put fruit juice on it. The fruit juice here is also awesome, its got a lot more flavor. Im pretty sure juice in the states is just watered down because its so much better here. Random people sell Ice cream and have signs of ice cream in their yards. there is nothing like some good dulce de leche ice cream(dulce de leche is like caramel).

One of the people we are teaching, G, (were not supposed to include names in our emails), isa getting baptised this saturday! Its my first baptism so Im excited. Theres also another one that is probably happening in another week or 2. Its amazing all the people we talk to, and how everyone has their own different story. Its hard to teach people with my limited spanish, but theyre willing to listen because theyre all nice and know how much it means that were from the US and came this far to talk to them. It does help that Elder Bridge has nearly perfect español. Its fun stuff down here, even if it is really hard. Thats all for the week besides pictures, Ciao!

Los amo,

Elder Olson
Paraguay Asuncion North Mission
Mon., 11/28/2016

Hola como estan?!

Well needless to say I have had a busy week and a half! I cant remember what Ive already sent so Ill just start from the beginning of last week. So they told us we were in latino diistricts in  the ccm, and I was in a district with 6 or so Elders and 4 Hermanas. They had us staying in casas(houses) instead of the dorms sinc new elders were coming in, and that was great. We fasted Sunday for the purpose that we would be able to fly to Paraguay soon ,and the answer was soon in coming! Monday around 10pm we got a call at our casa that we needed to pack because our transport was leaving the next morning at 8:30 AM. So we did, then in the morning we weighed our bags and left for the airport. We were there at 11 or so, and after getting through security had time to wait. The plane was also delayed til 1:30, so we had a lot of time. There was a Chilis in Mexico City, so we decided to all get real hamburgers one last time. The food was really good, as there werent really hamburgers in Mexico. Then we got on our flight. They did something really unexpected on the way to Panama(our layover); they fed us! We got a meal with chicken and rice, salad, oreos, and a roll. It was fresh and hot, which was really unexpected. We landed in Panama and had a while there. Then we got on the flight to Paraguay around 8 or 9 pm. Wew flew all night, and around 1 am they fed us again. This time it was beef and rice. It was also really good. Then we landed at 5:30 in Paraguay, and President Evans was there with his wife to meet us. Most people just went though security and got 3 month visas, but we had to get full visas. that was a huge headache. We had to pay them 160 dollars in american FRESH CLEAN bills. When I say fresh and clean I mean no creases, no folds, no marks or bits of pen marks or dirt specks, nothing. I went first of the 7 of us missionaries, and gave them the 160 the church had given me. All 8 of my bills were good except for one 20, which had previously been crumpled. They didnt accept it. then we tried using another 20 from Elder Armstrong. It had a blue pen mark in the corner, so no bueno. He handed me another bill, and it worked. It took the other Elders 2 hours to get through. For the bills that didnt work, which was 2/3 of them or so, Presidente Evans had to go to a money exchange past security and switch them out. It was crazy. When we got past all of that, we loaded all the bags in a coiuple vansd and went to the mission office. Its part of a 2 story church building in Asuncion. We got to have a meal of juice(all the juice here is realllly good) fruit, and chipa. Chipa is a kind of bread made out of mandioca(like a potato) flour, and either cheese, spicy seeds, or both. Its really good. Then we did some paperwork and such, orientation, and some interviews with Presidente Evans. We also had to go and get booked by interpol at their headquarters, which is across mission boundaries into the Paraguay Asuncion Mission. Eventually in the afternoon we got to go out and be missionaries on the street in the area for a bit. That was fun, then we had a testimony meeting and pizza at the mission presidents home. After that we went to the house where the 4-8 office elders live. There are 6 of them at the moment. There were all 7 of us from the Mexico CCM, and 4 latino Elders from the Argentina CCM. There was a stack of mattresses there, so enough for all of us. The next day was our transfers! We had a meeting about mission rules and schedules, then another one about being a missionary with the trainers(missionaries who are assigned to new missionaries for 12 weeks to train them). Then we got our companions. My new companion is Elder Bridge! He is a gringo from California(Modesto area I think), and hen is 21. He has 5 weeks left in his mission, so that means he will leave this next transfer and Ill have a new comañero then. The problems with the visa office and interpol changed a lot of plans here. Elder Bridge and Elder Passos were the zone leaders in our area, but they are both training Elders now. Our area is about 30 or 40 minutes away from asuncion, near the cities of Limpio and Luque. Im currently in Luque because its where the closest cyber was (cybers (pronounced like cedar but with a b) are bqasically a place with computers that we can email home from) Asuncion is has a lot of paved roads and some are just cobblestone, but where we are, in our area, there are only 2 paved roads and a ton of cobblestone. Also a ton of straight dirt roads and pathways.. Most people have motorcycles or mopeds here, and there are always motorcycles and mopeds zipping by. We walk everywhere most of the time, but sometimes have to riide collectivos when we dont have time or have to go far. A collectivo is basically a brightly colored bus like a schoolbus that drives up and down whichever route is its route, and you just hail it like a taxi for it to stop, and tell the driver when you want to get off or some of them have a bell that you ring. There are 2 kinds, the expensive ones which are 3.300 guarani and the cheap ones which are 2.000. The only difference is the expensive ones have air conditioning. We never go on the expensive ones cause theres no point. The currency here is guaranis, and the bills are in mil (thousand) guarani amounts. So we have ones that are 2, 5, 10, 20, and 100 mil guarani, and coins that are 1 mil, 500, 100, and 50. For groceries, we go to a supermarket in Limpio, about 10 mins or so on a collectivo, and we go once a week. If theres anything else we need, we go to dispenses. A dispensa is basically peoples houses that have the door open, and sometimes music playing. Theyre kind of like a tiny store, but theres not really any regulations, its basically just if you want you can open it up and if people wasnt to but something they can but theres no refunding, no taxes, nothing. Theyre good for most stuff but are a little more expensive, and we have to be careful that the food we get hasnt gone bad. Theres dispensas everywhere. So anyways, about my house. We live in a house on the side of a bigger house, owned by a bautista(baptist) lady who is really nice and has a dispensa. Our house has 2 rooms, one is smaller and has our bunkbed and 2 desks, and the other room has a fridge, stove(its on an oven but that doesnt work), a littler shelf, a tiny table, and 2 dressers. Theres also a sink for the dishes. In the corner of that room, we have a small bathroom which is walled off, which has a toilet sink and shower, all in 8 or 9 square feet. Were lucky though; our little casa is 3 times the size of some of the casas we have visited. Theres only 1 small leak in the ceiling, and we have a small air conditioning unit in the bedroom that makes sleeping possible. Were currently going into summer, and its HOT! Paraguay is a very humid place, and coupled with heat its crazy. The one good thing about summer here is mangos. They grow everywhere, and I mena every yard has at least one. They grow all over, and the first ones are starting to get ripe. Also the juice here is good. So far Ive had orange, peach, pear, and even cantaloupe juice, as well as guarana soda and many more. For hydration, we have to drink water, but since we are americans, we havew to drink from filters because they water here isnt safe. We have filter water bottles, but sometimes to not offend people who we are visiting, we have to drink a bit of water or some juice. I dont even recognise some of the juices that Ive had here hahaha. The food here that weve had is decent so far, breakfast and dinner we normally have at home is quick stuff like cereal. For dinner we have ham and cheese sandwiches; the cheese at the store is similar to american cheese, but the ham may or may not be pig. Its a lot different. Thursday was thanksgiving, and we just had sandwiches and got some apple soda to celebrate. The bread here is actually basically just rolls, and theres a wide variety. Its good, and the kind we get is about 4 mil per kilo. Everything here is metric, so its kilos, liters, centigrade, meters etc. Its really awesome to see everything new. Now on to whjat we do every day. In the mornings we study scriptures alone and together, practice teachign and practice spanish. Apparently Im really good at understanding spanish when I hear it, but my ability to speak it isnt so good. We work on training and language, then its aboiut time for lunch. Lunch is the meal that members feed missionaries during, not dinner.Friday, we ate at a familys house, adn had a meal that was dumplings and apparently chicken(the bones in the dish tell you what the food is from), and on the side was a cabage salad kind of like moms. It was a good meal. they prepared a ton, and we ate until we were bursting. I gues they eat then serve the missionaries, because only the dad was eating with us(and Ill tell yall about our meal yesterday later). All afternoon thursday and all day friday and saturday, and the afternoon Sunday we went out and preached. We basically go wherever unless we have a lesson. When we are finding people to teach, we just go down the street and instead of knock on doors, we clap at gates. Most places the people have a fence made of literally anything, but Id say most commonly barbed wire attached to sticks, then a yard of varying size, then a small casa in the back of the property. We stand at the gate and clap a few times, and the peole just know when its their house or another persons being clapped at. A lot of the time they pretend they arent home, or send the kids out to tewll us nobody is home, but a lot of times theyre really friendly and receptive. Its christmas season coming up, so we have a pass along card we give people that has a link ( mormon.org ) to the churches christmas video. Its a good one this year, it shows Jesus Christ serving and his miracles, then shows people in our day doing a similar action (ie Christ feeding the 5000, a person helping an elderly person eat). Its a good video. When people are receptive, we teach them, or set up a time to teach them about Christs gospel, and many people have talked to the missionaries before. Its hard because its not english. Its alos not all spanis. They speak mostly spanish here, but also some guarani, an indian language only in Paraguay. The spanish here is different than in Mexico; its a loooot faster and they dont pronounce stuff very well. The first day here I thought the people were speaking japanese. Cause thats what it sounds like. They also use the vos form of you, which isnt in my grammar books or in Mexico. Fun stuff. Im learning so much my head might split hahaha. Its hot and summer is here, but there is also rain. Yesterday it rained buckets. We were fortunate to have 2 families let us in to teach during the most of it, but it was 2 or so hours of straight rain. Pouring buckets. Everywhre was muddy after that hahaha. Church yesterday was alos interesting. It was 8:30-11:30, and its really similar to ours, just less people. Theres about 95 or so people in the ward where we(Elder Bridge and I are, as well as brazilian Elder Passos and ecuadorian Elder Robalina. Elder Robalina is also brand new. They live about 100 yards away from us in a casa like ours. We have half a ward and they have half. The ac broke in church, so they opened up windows everywhere. Theres only a keyboard piano, and nobody playes, so the hymns were a capella. I might see if the office has simplified hymn books, because the only regular hymns I can play are God be With You Until We Meet Again, and Sweet Hour of Prayer and 1 or 2 more, but I can play all the ones in the simplified piano version. They had me get up and bear my testimony and introduce myself, and Elder Robalina too. They yout program is small, theres about 6 young men, but theyre all really nice. They like the missionaries, but not even close to as much as soccer. As far as I can tell ,there are 2 games in Paraguay;  soccer, and a version of volleyball(but its like socer because they play with a soccer ball and you can only touch it with your feet. Sunday we had lunch with an Hermanas that has a dispensa, and she served us, what appeared to be beef steaks, with a cheesy rice dish, a cheesy cornbread, and some good cantaloupe juice. Ive had chipa a couple times, we are given money to use every couple weeks and theres a portion of that money thats specifically for street snacks, which means chipa. Its good stuff. Today was my first Pday, and so we cleaned the casa, and had a zonwe activity. Basically we played capture the flag with water balloons on a basketball court(the churches here have a smaller cultural hall, and outside of each building is a paved basketball/soccer court. Its got basketball goals with soccer goals underneath. Right now we are in Luque emailing, and after we will get groceries and such, then get back to the usual proselyting after dinner. Elder  Bridge has really good spanish, and he has the acent down, so most people think he is native to Paraguay. I on the other hand look like a Norteamericano, so they asume I dont know any spanish. Also the mexican spanish I learned isnt the same as the spanish here, its a lot slower. Overall, everything is great, and Im doing really well ith the heat and such! I hope you all are doing well, have a great week!

Los amo
(I love yall in español)

Elder Olson
Paraguay Asuncion North Mission

Wed., 11/23/2016

I cant tell yall much because i dont have time, but Ill email this Monday with all the details. I am fine and despite having not slept in 2 days literally, I am fine and were here. Im safe, getting a companion tomorrow, and Chipa is actually quite good, tell Ms Normark I agree with her. President Evans already knows I know aleman/german, so who knows what possibility thatll open up! I mayu need you(Mom) to send me some important gospel words in german! All is well in Paraguay, adios!

Los amo,

Elder Olson
Paraguay Asuncion North Mission

Tues., 11/22/2016

Last night we got a phone call in our casa and... IM GOING TO PARAGUAY TODAY! Dont know the plans yet but they told us we will find out soon. Were leaving the CCM at 8:30 AM, so probably a flight at around noon. No idea where the layover will be. This past sunday the 7 of us and our teacher, Hermano Santiago, fasted specifically for this problem, and wow how fasting works! We were set to be here at least 2 more weeks, but now we don't have to! Im so excited to be going to Paraguay finally, you should have seen Elder Brower and I last night in the casa! We got the phone call around 10, and we had to pack and do laundry, and since the laundry took forever, we also cleaned out some of the other empty rooms. Today we got up and said goodbye to hermano santiago, who got up early top see us off, then were busy with stuff to do til its time to go. Well thats all, have a great thanksgiving, and HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAVY!

Los amo(I love yall),


Elder Olson
Paraguay Asuncion North Mission
Fri., 11/18/2016
So we have a little info, I and the other 6 elders here have to stay indefinitely because of visa problems. It is not our visas, its the visas of some Elders currently in Paraguay, and when they have their problems fixed we can enter Paraguay. I donnj't know how long the wait times will be, but hopefully only a week or 2 more. I'll keep you posted if I learn more, but thats all we have been able to find out. I hope you are all still doing well, have a good one!

Elder Olson
Paraguay Asuncion North Mission

Thurs., 11/17/2016

Hola como estan?
Its been a busy week! Last thursday or friday after bedtime, one of the workers here knocked on our door and told us that we are going to be here for a 7th week! Theres some problem, and NOBODY in the CCM knows, so all 7 elders going to Paraguay are delayed. They split us up into companionships, and Elder Whipple is with Elders Armstrong and Schmidt. We are all in 3 different classes, and they put us in with latinos! In my new class, we have missionaries from at least Mexico, Ecuador, Panama, and the Dominican Republic! Everything is in español, and Im picking up a lot of it really quickly. Monday we saw all of the Elders and Hermanas that we have been doing everything with leave. It was bittersweet, because we have  made so many friends here. We had to move to casas(houses), and Elder Brower and I haver a room to ourselves with a bathroom and shower, and 2 bunkbeds. The houses arent as nice as the dormitorios, but the rooms are bigger. Hopefully we can get on to Paraguay this week. Every day we have checked at the recepción desk, and  no new news. Theres just a sign on the bulletin board that says "one more week or when have new news" from last week, so nobody knows. Apparently this hasnt happened before, and were famous around here, lots of the other Elders know us as the  7 week Elders. Another perk is that there arent as many missionaries here, so theres always food when its our time to eat(they used to run out sometimes). Elder Brower and I have been in class with the latinos all week and its been great. We are learning a lot. The one hitch this week was the beef for lunch one of the days, that and another meal last friday have caused diarrhea across the CCM. I missed the first outbreak, but I got it tuesday. I slept all day yesterday, and Im on the upswwing now I think. Its nice to have the Enfermeria, where we can just walk in and get treatment. There hasnt been too much new news besides what Ive told yall, but this week is heavy with the pictures since so many people are leaving.

have a great week all of yall!

hasta luego,

Elder Olson
Paraguay Asuncion North Mission

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Sat., 11/12/2016

They wanted me to take a couple minutes and write yall an email because there has been a travel change. The mission president requested that we stay here an extra week; we are assuming he wants to change the transfer schedule and so we will be staying an extra week. We are going to be in latino districts! Elder Brower and I are in one district, 2 elders in another, and a trio in another district of latinos. That means EVERYTHING is in spanish. I am excited but slightly bummed we have to wait a week. Because of this, my next Pday is going to be on JUEVES(THURSDAY), so itd be nice to get emails by then. Thank you Dad for sending me an email this past week, I didnt get it on time but since I didnt get emails from anyone last week its nice to have something to read today, and I got special permission to read it today. Yall have a good week ,and Ill try to update yall when I get info! Have a great week!
Thurs., 11/10/2016

Hola, como estan?!
Its my last full week in Ciudad de Mexico! We fly out monday to Paraguay, with a stop in Panama City. Its a long travel time, but Im excited to finally get to Paraguay. The CCM has been a lot of fun, and I have made a ton of friends here.Â
The computers are back online, which is good because last week everyone was going crazy. It all worked out. Friday night they had burgers and fries in the comedor, and they were really good. The food here is awesome, but it is nice to have american food once in a while. Saturday we had a TRC, which is basically high school kids coming in and we have to teach them 15 minute lessons. We taught 2 high schoolers, and one of them, Luis, is prepping to come out on a mission. I got to drop by Elder Nicolas Clements classroom and talk to him for a few minutes. Sunday was fast sunday, where our church goes 24 hours without food and water(on missions it is only food because of the climates and the fact that Paraguay doesnt have air conditioning and such). For movie night, we watched a short film about a man named John Tanner, who in the 1830s donated everything he had to the church, amounting to 50,000 dollars(which was worth a whole lot back then). Then we watched a film that was probably made in the 80's about the atonement of Jesus Christ. At the end of the day I picked up a small package from Elder Clemnts with a card and some candy, thanks for that! Tuesday I was in the choir, and we sang Oracion de un Niño(A childs prayer). Yesterday Hermano Santiago was showing us pictures from some of his previous classes, and apparently a couple months ago he taught Hermana Abigail Whitt; Were the only missionaries he has taught from North Carolina. We aso got our flight information and other documents. Im excited to get to Parguay! Today is pday, and we had to star packing our bags last night. We did more packing today, and had to weigh our bags. We also played some soccer and frisbee. Today is Elder Glasgow's (Ill send a picture) birthday, so we had a small party, and everyone wrote him a card and we all got stuff like pringles and takis from the tienda for him. We are still playing soccer every day, and I have personally improved a lot. Thats pretty much all from this week; most of the day every day is class class class. I will send a good number of pictures this week. Not sure when my p day will be though, so Have a good week til then everyone!

Fri., 11/4/2016
Another busy week in Mexico City! I started off for a couple days of sleeping and lounging around because of my wisdom teeth, and so different elders from my district stayed with me for an hour or 2 or 3 at a time. Monday I went to the Dentista, and since it was Dia de los Muertos for the kids, it was a fun experience. I got my stitches taken out, then had to wait for the CCM doctor and a latino Hermana to get some dental work done. The dentista where I went(the bigger one) is right across from a complex which I think was some kind of training or medical facility for Club America (pro soccer team) because it had the logo of Club America. Its also close to an elementary school, because I saw a lot of little kids walking home with their parents. The 31st in Mexico is basically like Halloween in the states; but the kids all dress up when they go to school. I got to see lots of costumes, and I would say about half of them have black and white face paint like in the newest James Bond movie at the beginning. That evening Elder Eves, the secretary in the presidency of the CCM(before his mission he was a 3 or 4 star general in the US air force), who lives on the floor below us, had a lot of candy and we got to trick or treat. Who woulda known I would get to trick or treat in Ciudad de Mexico hahaha. Tuesday we were studying outside, and our class building is right near the entrance of the CCM, so we saw the buses rolling up every now and then from the airport. On one of the buses was... Elder Nicolas Clements! Now there are 4 people here from North Carolina. A little later while we had a break from class, I got to go by the building where the new elders were, and talked to Elder Clements for a couple minutes. Its nice knowing people here; I feel a bit like one of the elders from utah or Idaho or arizona because they all know a lot of people here. I think I have shared this before but the fireworks are a daily thing in Ciudad de Mexico. They basically shoot them straight up in the air and the firework explodes, just a really loud bang and 1 light, not an explosion of light. Well Tuesday was also the day of the dead, and there were more fireworks than usual. There was a lot a good amount of loud music, so it was kind of hard to go to sleep. I have been busy with classes all the days this week. Today we had Pday, and we played some ultimate frisbee then soccer. We tried to go to the dentist but she wasnt there. We played some volleyball then tried emailing. The internet on every computer here is blocked. I have the only computer in all approx. 300 computers in the ccm thats working at the moment and i will be lucky not to be shut down. No idea what the problem is. I cant upload pictures but there is only one more to send that is of me with my new haircut. Theres not really much to tell about since its classes 24/7 here, but in 2 weeks when I get to Paraguay Im sure the content will get more interesting. Have a great week!Displaying 100_0114.JPG

Fri., 11/4/2016

Just got this picture from an elder who couldnt play today cause he was injured so he took pictures on someones really nice camera. I am the corner kick taker when my team has one when we play soccer.

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Fri., 10/28/2016

[Regarding last weeks photos and lost email.] Did you not get my email! I sent an email that had a toooooooon of stuff in it. If yall didnt get it it is because the internet here is terrible. We are right in the middle of the city, in the pictures you can see houses in the backround on the hills. there are hill like mountains all around where we are. its really pretty in the ccm, its 90 acres and most of that is just grass or trees, but outside the walls its a verrrrry crowded area. Theres tons of noise all night long, as well as fireworks constantly going off.

This week's:

what a busy week! saturday started off the fun, with a good service activity. We cleaned the kitchen in the comedor(cafeteria). I got talking to one of the main cooks, named Estaban, and was able to converse with him that I worked at the Provo Missionary training center, but I told him the food is better here. He told my district that were really hard workeds, and now im friends with the cook! Our practice lesson was great that day too( we teach practice lessons about the gospel to our teachers).

Sunday was also good; one of the members of the mission presidency came and had church with us. One of the elders in my district, elder chudleigh, is the pianist for the mtc choir which performs at tuesday devotionals. He needed a page turner, so I volunteered. Before dinner he needed to practice the song, Praise to the Lord God the Almighty(which he hadnt seen the music for before and requires all 10 fingers at 1 time, and his music was for an organ not a piano.). After dinner we practiced more, and i sang while he played so he could get a feel for the piece. That evening during "movie night" we watched a video about Jospeh smith and the restoration that I think came out about 5 years ago. It was good. Tuesday at the devotional, the musical number went well. We also got front row seats as the pianist and temporary compañero/page turner.Â

We are still playing soccer every day in gym time, and Its a lot of fun.Â

Now the story you've all been waiting for: The wisdom teeth. So Ive been to the dentista here a few times because i had a problem with one of my teeth, but during x rays it was determined my wisdom teeth need to come out also, despite my dentist waving them off as good. So yesterday, thursday, I went to the dentista at 10. Since Elder Brower has missed a couple classes because of my troubles, I had Elder Chudleigh, the pianist come wth me instead. The dentistas here only numb the mouth for wisdom teeth, so i was awake for the whole process. The first(of 2, the top teeth arent a problem) tooth, the bottom right, was no big deal. She finished it in about 30 minutes, and no big deal. The second tooth wastrickier. Apparently it was impacted or something like that, and she worked on it for around 3 hours with no avail. Eventually the top of the tooth was broken off and out, but the roots would not come out.She sewed me up and I got transferred to another dentist. The first dentist office was just one dentist and 1 chair, but the second dentist office, which was about 20-30 mins away, was 6 chairs and a handful of doctors;theyre also members of our church. and even though it was kinda cramped it was very similar to the offices in the US; much better than the first. By that time, because of my first dentist taking a while, I was pretty tired and had lost a good amount of blood, They had to give me an iv. Then they numbed me up and got my second tooths roots out in like 15 mins. At the end of the time, It was 7 hours and I was ready to go to bed. They gave me 2 kinds of pain pills im supposed to use at the same time, but i dont have horrific pain so I decided to not use them so i dont have to deal with side effects like throwing up. I am however using antiboitics. last night and today Ive had around 20 or so people visit my dorm; today we had about 12 people in my room hahaha it was crowded but great to feel the love from the other missionaries. With my head covering Ive been compared to many things, most prominently a leper. Ive been turning heads all day, because Ive been rolling around the ccm with a ace wrap and ice packs. I had a piece of bread for breakfast becvause i was having trouble with my food. I went to the doctor for antibiotics, and had a sit down meeting for a few minutes. He called the mission president and got permission for me to talk to dad and tell him about the surgery, which was great to talk to him. It was P day all day so i have been sitting around all day. For lunch my new friend Estaban, the cook, noticed I had my bandage and all on, so he decided to whip up an smoothie for me. Dont worry Mom, I did what cousin Josh did and made friends with the cook. That gave immediate results let me tell you. Well thats the week!

Best food this week: pt1 thew smoothie from Estaban for lunch

pt 2 the corn chowder they had for lunch today. Maybe its cause I was so hungry, but it was really good.

Thanks for all your support and prayers!

PS here is me right now (the picture)
Fri., 10/21/2016

The spanish is coming; We have been working so hard! Every day we spend around 13 or 14 hours in the classroom going over endless words and grammar in spanish. Its hard but a lot of fun. We also learn a lot of spanish walking up to random latino elders and trying to talk in spanish. Its really funny because we dont know hardly any spanish and they dont know much english. I have made some friends with some of them though, so thats good. I got a picture with a district of them that are leaving monday. starting next week we arent allowed to talk in english, so it is going to be difficult but thats whats so important about it. I know about as much spanish now as probably 1 or 2 spanish classes in high school would have given me. Last week I think i forgot to email about my teachers. In the mornings we have hermano tapia. Hes really cool and knows a lot of english. He served his mission in mexico. He likes having us go outside to have part of class because the weather here is really nice. I dont have any pictures with him, but ill try to get one fopr next week. In the afternoon and evening we have hermano santiago. He is a really good teacher, and served his mission in honduras. He is 23 and is applying to go to byui, but has to take an english proficiency test. He is one of the nicest people I know; he has the energy and happiness of a little kid but he is really smart. He also teaches english to 5th graders. Most days are the basically the same, study then breakfast then more study then lunch and gym then study then dinner then study. Every morning and afternoon we teach a lesson about the gospel in spanish, whuch is hard due to our level of spanish and the fact that religious words are often long and hard to memorize and say. There are a lot of little moments that help relieve the stress, like every time fireworks go off. there is not a half hour that goes by without at least 1 firework being shot off. That includes the night. Sometimes they are really funny because its endless, but sometimes we are trying to sleep and its very noisy. apparently rthe fireworks are for catholic holidays and saints days and whatever, but thats every day hahaha. Sunday for church i didnt have to give a talk, but i m ight one of these upcoming weeks. Every sunday there is a movie night where we watch a church movie; this weeks was the video about parley p pratt and then about the guy from Italy that was a preacher then moved to the US and found a book of mormon in an alley then joined the church. Tuesday was a good day. For gym time we played soccer(We always play soccer). It was our district vs another district. They were all good at soccer.One of them played for BYU last year and a couple others had played in high school. We have one elder who played in high school. They were really cocky and had terrible attitudes; they wanted to keep score and such, and kept getting mad during the game. We put a stop to it and routed them, around 8 goals to one(we arent allowed to keep score). They didnt play as a team, and had bad attitudes, but wee played as a team and were nice to them. Soccer is a lot of fun, especially playing with latinos since thats all they play too(except its different because they are really good). Bonnie Oscarson, the young womens general president, came and visited and gave the devotional on tuesday. It was really good; she talked about missionary work and the process of how missionaries are called. It was pretty interesting. During/after the devotional an elder named elder ortega who was sitting a row back and a couple seats over offered me some candy during the devotional then after he wanted to talk for a minute. apparently i had talked to hi at lunch or something and he remembered me and Im his friend. I like all the mexican and other latino elders because they are all really nice and love making friends with the gringo elders like me. Wednesday morning in one of our practice lessons, elder brower accidentaly read deuteronomy 3:7 instead of 6:7 like he meant to. We didnt notice it til after but when we noticed it was really funny because it isnt close. later that day we had another good experience, i gave hermano santiago a blessing of comfort because he is stressed with teaching us and 5th graders and applying to byui all at the same time. His english exam is really soon so thats been weighing on him. Also that day we got to take a trip to the dentista; mexican dentistry isnt that bad, and we got to leave the ccm campus for a little while, which is always fun. Mexico city is a really busy place. I like how many of the big roads have medians that are so wide they make parkis and gardens and sidewalks and stuff on them. Its really cool. We are in the middle of a very busy crowded area of town. Today we got to go to the temple again, which is an hour of driving away. The roads here are scary with everyone cutting off everyone, but the drivers are all so much better than in the us that there are rarely accidents; probablly a lot less that in the us. In class we play a game called find the latino to help our spanish. Basically one person is the latino and can use absolutely NO english, only español. The teacher has to guess who is the latino, so the rest of us speak all spanish too. If the teacher guesses wrong, we get to watch a mormon message, which is basically a 2-5 minute video put out by the church. We watched a really good one thursday called abide by me about a newswoman whos intern is acting really lazy one day even though theres been a tragedy thats a good news story, and she gets mad at him, but... you need to go watch it to see what happenes. Its probably the best mormon message ive seen so far.

best food this week: carne asada. Its my favorite food and we had it yesterday at lunch!

wierdest food this week: well a lot of foods are wierd to me here but one of them was carrot enchiladas. Yes, they were enchiladas that were filled with only mashed carrots. not too bad, but really wierd.

I hope yall have a good week!

Fri., 10/14/2016 [Do to Hurricane Matthew, the long email never arrived.]

Elders chudleigh packard, me, brower, armstrong, black, schmidt, marchant, glasgow, and lovelace by the mexican flag, and elders brower, chudleigh, me, and packard by the main sign for the ccm, enjoy!Inline image 2
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Tues., 10/4/2016

I have arrived in Mexico! Not lots of time but i am safe, the flights were good. my atlanta to cuidad mexico flight had a sister missionary, 2 other elders from nc, elder smith from virginia, and 2 more elders. the weather isnt too hot so far and the campus is really pretty! Im pretty sure ill be hungry all day because the streets around the CCM are all filled with carnitas and taco vendor hahaha. my companeros name is elder brower but we havent met yet. Friday is my p day here in the ccm.


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

This inaugural post is about my mission. For many of you reading this, you already know about missions and a lot about them, as you are either a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints or I've told you a ton about my mission already. For those of you who don't know what's going on, here's a brief explanation. 

I have applied to serve a mission for my church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints, also sometimes referred to as Mormons) for a length of  2 years. On this mission I will be spending my time mainly serving others by preaching the gospel of our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, and also providing many kinds of service, including manual labor and teaching english classes. I sent an application to the church, and was assigned to serve in PARAGUAY!

Among other things, I will not be able to call people, text, or (someone is gasping reading this) use social media for 2 years, but I can write letters and email. As a result, I will be emailing my family and they will post my emails to this blog so all of y'all can stay in the loop. I will have access to email once a week, so feel free to send emails and I will do my best to respond. The email I will be using for the length of my mission is matthew.olson@myldsmail.net

I will be leaving Raleigh to begin my mission on October 4th, 2016, which is 47 days from now. I am super excited!!!

For those unfamiliar with missions, here are a couple terms I'll probably use a lot:

companion- missionaries go in pairs, and I will have a companion with me 24/7. We will work, eat, serve, teach, and do everything together. Every once in a while, I will switch companions.

mtc/ccm- this is a place kind of like a school where I will begin my mission for 6 weeks learning a LOT of spanish and also how to teach

p-day- short for preparation day,  a p-day is a day each week set aside to do tasks like laundry, emailing, shopping etc

Thank you for your support and everything you do!

Elder Olson
Paraguay Asuncion North Mission