Sunday, December 18, 2016

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 ( ) 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

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