Monday, November 13, 2017

Mon., 11/13/2017 (Neuland/Paraiso)

As always it's been a really fast week! Here's the latest! Sunday we went to Asuncion for Zone Conference. We learned a lot about a lot of stuff, but the highlight is the Ilumina el Mundo video! The church every year has a campaign for Christmas so that people can think more about the real reason for the Christmas season. This year the theme is "Light the World" with your service! Zone conferences are always the best. I always get to see other missionaries I haven't seen in a long time. We traveled back to the Chaco in the night Tuesday, and got home Wednesday, but we had a division and I went with Elder Parker. It was a good day and allllllmost rained but never really opened up. He is a new missionary and was excited to be in Neuland. Thursday we had to end that division and start another one, this time Elder Whipple (our district leader) and I, but we were counting on 2 buses crossing and stopping so we could get off one and on the other. It's a long story, but we didn't make it and were stuck in Filadelfia, so we went contacting with the Filadelfia Elders a bit. I spent the day with Elder Hermansen. It was a lot of fun. Friday Elder Whipple and I left for Loma Plata for our division. We contacted a good amount, but also visited a lot of their investigators. They only have a group that has been open for 3 months, and they have a 1 room house/apartment with the chapel next door (another 1 room house/apartment). After the division, we went back to Filadelfia on Saturday really early, but there were no colectivos. We were saved though, because Carlos Colman (the maitenaince guy for the chapels in the Chaco) gave us a ride home, as he was in the general vicinity. Sunday we had 31 people in church, and we had 2 hours of church! (I gave a talk, led music and we taught Sunday School, and we got the opportunity to show one of our recent converts how to bless the Sacrament. Church went really well! Today for P-day we are here in Filadelfia.

Lessons learned this week:
-Always look to serve others. The new video Ilumina el Mundo shares that message, it should be coming out soon.
-Prayers are answered; I lost my wallet in a colectivo and we couldn't find it, but we said a prayer and someone else found it in about 20 seconds.
-Always look to be a missionary; the gospel is that important.
-Sunday is a day of rest for the Lord. It is NOT a day of rest for US, its a day of rest FOR THE LORD. That is because we are doing his work for a day. Our mission president, Pte Evans, made it clear with doctrine from the scriptures. If it isn't focused on the Lord, it isn't ok (i.e. using phones during Sacrament Meeting). Just being there in church isn't enough,. We have to be focused on the Lord.
-Drugs, including alcohol and smoking, are bad. They ruin lives, they ruin families, they're just bad stuff, OK?
-God loves us and wants us to be happy. It's honestly 100% true! Have a great week all of y'all!

DEAR BLOGGER READERS, I STILL CAN'T UPLOAD ELDER OLSON'S PICTURES!  SORRY!

1 Us eating watermelon thanks to our investigator Heinz Braun

2 Some of the Book or Mormon languages used here in the Chaco

3 Ilumina el Mundo part 2 with my good friend Elder Schmidt (he was in the MTC with me and is now a Zone Leader)

4 Elder Silva, my Zone Leader from when I was back in Pedro Juan. He will be heading home to Peru when he finishes his 2 years at the end of this change

5 Elder Grey who was my Zone Leader in Juan de Salazar a long time ago

6 Elder Pereza who is from Guatemala and I had to get a photo with our
German name tags. He's the Cartero (Librarian?) for the mission

7 Elder Villacresses and I have been at Zone Conference together for just short of a year now. To follow the tradition, here is a picture with him. He is still an assistant to the President

8 Elder Parker from Loma Plata came to Neuland for a division. He is really new in the mission and is from Utah. He's learning spanish and we had a fun division

9 We went contacting in Neuendorf, one of 20 German aldeas (communities) that is part of Neuland. We contacted for a little while and left when someone let out their dogs

10 I have no idea how it doesn't just rain! (It drizzled for a few minutes though!)

11 Sunset in Filadelfia

12 I had a division with Elder Hermansen in Filadelfia because Elder Whipple and I weren't able to make it to Loma Plata on time for our division

13 There weren't actually bike locks so we made it look like it and nobody stole the bikes!

14 So the cheese here isn't exactly the best, but the missionaries here have learned that a bit of salt, cumin, and other spices make it taste not too bad in a frying pan. Elder Whipple (our district leader) and I cooked up a bunch because they didn't have any more food in the house. We call them Cheese Fritters

15 This last one isn't my picture but I thought it was kind of cool. One of the other Elders from my MTC group, Elder Lovelace, is a Zone Leader in Pedro Juan Caballero. Do y'all remember that place called Santa Clara from a loooooooong time ago where they just had a little roof on poles for the church? Well they built them a tiny little chapel like some of the ones in the Chaco! It was pretty cool for me to see that. Those members are really cool!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Tues., 10/24/2017 (Neuland/Paraiso)

We had a very busy week this week. It's been kind of crazy. Sorry for writing on a Tuesday, but I can explain hahaha. Last Monday we got a call from one of the counselors in the mission presidency, asking us how the planning on the temple trip was going (at this point we hadn't heard anything about said temple trip)...... Well, needless to say, we got to work. They had a list of names for sealings and we had a list of 9 or 10 recent converts that they wanted us to take to the temple, one week later, meaning yesterday. Abundancia also had a list of names, and they have all of the District leadership in their area, so we spent the week on the phone with Pte Colman (one of the counselors in the mission presidency), on the phone with the Abundancia Elders, and on the computer. The records of marriages, names, families, kids, honestly whatever you can find on the church records for people, needed a few changes, plus the Branch President's (credit?debit?) card got blocked, and many more details. Let's just say it was crazy and we didn't teach very many investigators this week. We were told that if we could get the members from Neuland and Abundancia to the temple, we could go too and, we wouldn't have any responsibility in Asuncion other than help out a little. We'll get to that later. How it all worked out is we had 46 members in total that came on the trip. We had to send a truck to get a handful of members from Paraiso. We then fit everyone from Neuland and Paraiso into a small van and got to Abundancia Saturday night (oh and the Branch President didn't go so Elder Castañeda and I were the leaders) where the counselors in the mission presidency were there doing interviews and paperwork. They talked with all the members for a while then everyone went to the school there to sleep. Elder Castañeda and I stayed with the Abundancia Elders. Sunday we had church, and we prepared all 3 meals for the Neuland members. A lot of the members from Neuland didn't have the Priesthood, so we had 4 people sustained and ordained so that they could go to the temple. Monday around 8 a.m. we set off on the 7 hour or so ride to Asuncion. We got to the hostel (there is a place kind of like a hotel at the temple since many people have to visit from way far out) and went inside to meet the other people to let President Evans and the Office Elders know we were there, since we were told they were handling that part. Well.... nobody was waiting for us and they had space for 30 people, not 46. We were alone (Elder Castañeda and I, Elder Starks and Elder Salazar from Abundancia, and Elders Whipple and Parker from Loma Plata, who didn't have members but thankfully went along) but got right into action. It was a lot of work, but we got the members situated, fed, and we let them get rested for the later afternoon hours. We went to go eat Lomitos because we were all hungry. There was a ciber really close to the temple so we tried to go and write home, but it didn't work so we obtained President's permission to write today. We slept at the house of the Office Elders. Today we got up at 5, rushed to the temple, and got the members all ready, helped with recommends, and thankfully got all 4 families sealed and a bunch more did baptisms for the dead. We got to be there for the sealing session, and Elder Castañeda and I got to be the witnesses for 2 families: Fm Gomez from Neuland and Fm Paclusi from Paraiso. The temple was PACKED since it is closing this week, but that was cool because I got to see a bunch of missionaries from the earlier days of my mission we were all doing sessions. Due to our situation with helping out, w missed the last session, but we are going to the temple tomorrow, so we will be going home tomorrow night. It doesn't stop there! So we got everything done, and still hadn't written y'all, so we had the colectivo that took us all to Asuncion drop us off near the only ciber that we knew about BUT before that, some little kid had some kind of medical problem and wasn't breathing right so we detoured to a hospital. We waited there for a little while, then decided to have the other members go home and we write home while they're treating the baby. Hopefully he will be ok. It has honestly been a really busy week everyone, but it was fun, worth it, and we are going to the temple tomorrow.

For those who haven't been to one, temples are really cool and really important. They are where we make important promises with God, and where we receive a lot of blessings. I encourage all of y'all to think more about temples and go to them more! We spent the whole week focused on the temple, and it was a great blessing for me, especially seeing the members being sealed as families forever. Speaking of that, I love my family, and everyone else reading. Have a great week! (USB wasn't working, so no pictures.)
Mon., 11/6/2017 (Neuland/Paraiso)

I'll just have to start by saying, sorry but there aren't photos today because the computers here in Asuncion aren't the best.

This week was a fast one, but a lot less busy than previous weeks. We spent the week in the lower to mid 40's (105 to 115 celcius, approx). Monday, to end P-day, we went and bought little tiny green pumpkins to carve as a district. Tuesday we got right back at it in Neuland. We had a lot of lessons with a lot of people, including Nivacles, Latinos, Germans, and even a South African. We found this cool family in Neuland that is from South Africa and they are members but don't speak Spanish and haven't been to church in years. I hope to share more next week. We have an investigator named Heinz Braun that reminds me of Grandpa Riding. He is ahead of the Neuland Mennonite colony's archives, and has tons of stories about their pioneers and has a lot of photos too.. He even gave us a watermelon this week and we took him to the church Saturday to show him around! We kept teaching my home boy Nicacio and his family. He's really cool and actually understands when we teach about the atonement, plan of salvation, repentance, etc! We've been working with the Branch President, helping him learn about his responsibilities as Branch President. We've been talking to Feliciano , who is Nicacio's brother-in-law and wants to get baptized in a couple of weeks. We've been talking to so many people! Talking to people is important. If you see someone having a bad day, go talk to them!

We also had a couple of service projects, including moving dirt and making a garden. It's fun stuff. Also a lot of cooking since we never have people give us food (not including the occasional watermelon).

UPDATE ON THE CHAPEL ROOF: we still don't have one (but that doesn't matter, everyone still goes!)

Sunday we had fast and testimony meeting. It was really cool this week because last month we told everyone it's their chance to testify and this week there were a loooot of people that gave testimonies. The meeting went an hour and a half long! That was a long meeting but it was cool because everyone wanted to share their testimony. Sunday night we went on a colectivo back to Asuncion for Zone Conference. We left Neuland at 8, and with a stop in Filadelfia we got to Asuncion around 4:30 am. I am glad I brought a blanket because it was FREEZING.  Colectivos are always fun when you get close to Asuncion because you see all the street, house, and business lights whizzing by. Due to interviews with Pte Evans, we stayed in the office for a long part of the day, but it was awesome. I got to talk to all of my companions I've had since after I was with Elder Bridge (a year), because for one reason or another, they were all in the office. Interviews with Pte Evans are always really uplifting. He is called of God to be the President and helps us all so much. Of many topics covered, we talked about how Elder Castañeda and I were here in Neuland for 3 changes together. Pres. Evans said that raaaaaaarely happens. I am glad that Elder Castañeda and I have had this opportunity to work together so long. He's a great companion and Neuland is a great area. Tomorrow we will have our Zone Conference. As usual, we are planning for a busy week and a busy end to this change. Busy is tiring, but always awesome.

This week we have been learning about having patience and love for others and ourselves. As the scriptures say, if you don't have love/charity, you don't have anything. Try to be kinder to others this week! Have a good week! Thank you for all your prayers and emails!

Monday, October 30, 2017

Mon., 10/30/2017 (Neuland/Paraiso)

It has been another busy week. If I remember quickly, I last wrote as we were sending off the members to the Chaco right after they left from the temple. The kid that got sick in the colectivo has pneumonia, but we were blessed to have a children's hospital on the road we were on. We wrote, then that night we spent in Trinidad (close to the mission office). Wednesday morning we had small division in Trinidad, then we went to the temple. It was lunchtime, so we stopped by Pizza Hut just down the street. They have a really cheap all-you-can-eat deal, so we ate them out of house and home (just think about 6 missionaries who never get fed by members walking in the door and ordering all you can eat). We then went to the temple. We had been told to be early for our temple session (you can't reserve seats here) and had nothing to do so we decided to be sure and get there 3 hours early at 2 PM. The temple workers were all there and they asked permission from the Temple President to get us doing initiatories, so we did that for 2.5 hours or so. We then went through to do a temple session. It was great; it's been a year since I've been to the temple. After the session, there were a TON of people waiting to do baptisms for the dead and confirmations, so we were asked to help out (the temple closed this Saturday so the last week was PACKED). Elder Whipple and I did confirmations, with Elder Castañeda as recorder. We ended up doing a couple hundred (1.5 or 2 hours). As usual, the temple was a great experience. We proceeded to stop by Burger King, then the office elders dropped us off at a bus stop and we traveled all night back to the Chaco. Elder Castañeda and I then went back to visit everyone that we hadn't been able to visit for the last week and a half. We had a lot of opportunities to serve over the last few days, including burning trash, carrying water to people's houses, and so on. Sunday we had a good day at church, we had Sacrament Meeting and I had the priviledge to give a talk about the temple and it's blessings for us. Elder Castañeda and I decided that we need to start working towards having all 3 hours of church, so we taught Sunday School, and it went really well.This week really was a very good one. It can be challenging to be trying to cover 2 areas (Neuland and Parasio) and at the same time have to run everything for the church (planning activities and such), but I really like it. We are working to help the members know how to do everything on their own, which is really important for them. That and steering their vision to the temple and the blessings associated with temples. Please every one that has a temple nearby, take advantage. Not everyone has that opportunity! Try to go every week, or for those in Utah, more that 1 time a week!


Y'all have a great week! Thanks for the prayers and emails!

BLOGGERS READERS, NO SUCCESS YET WITH ADDING PICTURES!  SORRY!

1 Prep work for the temple is tiring
2 We fit 17 or so people in that van to get to Abundancia. That's the driver, his name is Friesen
3 We regularly make juice in buckets when we have to feed a lot of people
4 This dog entered the Abundancia Elders' house 3 times during the night when we were there for the temple trip. We thought it was a person at first. The house in Abundancia doesn't have the capability of being locked from the inside so dogs (and or people) sometimes just walk in.

5 We prepped some rice and such for the members from Neuland to eat while they waited Sunday in Abundancia for the colectivo to come; basically the church chartered a colectivo for the transportation.
6 Halfway through cleaning the Abundancia house
7 Eating "genuine" Arabian food
8 The sign should say "we are interested in your opinion" but the s in nos fell off and it now reads "your opinion doesn't matter"

9 With Nicacio and Fiorella (2 recent converts) in the temple! They were so excited, and even brought names!
10 We were so busy getting the people to the temple (it's harder when they don't all speak Spanish) we forgot to take pictures of the temple trip, but when we remembered and had time we tried to get one
11 A little time spent in Asuncion, featuring the scary bridge made out of 2 strips of metal and wood pallets
12 With Elder Castañeda at the temple
13 All 6 of us at the temple
14 The temple of Asuncion, Paraguay. It will be closing for a year and a half for construction to make it bigger!
15 They are always burning stuff here. Paraguay is blessed with the fact that fires DO NOT SPREAD! If you light a fire and there is a lot of flammable material nearby, it doesn't spread anyway.
16 Service for Fm Martinez cutting down a couple of trees. This is Jose Armando, their son, who is one of our investigators. He supervised the yard work!

17 We had to break the piggy banks to survive this week, in that we are waiting to get reimbursed for a lot of transportation for the temple trip and a few other things
18 We had to get creative with the food. This is ham, egg, tomato sauce, and a couple veggies. It wasn't too bad but I wouldn't recommend
19 UPDATE: there still isn't a roof on the chapel.

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!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

8/28/2017 (Neuland)

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

DEAR BLOGGER READERS
I DON'T KNOW WHY I USED TO BE ABLE TO COPY AND PASTE HIS PICTURES AND NOW I CAN'T.  NOTHING HAS CHANGED EXCEPT THAT THEY WON'T COPY AND PASTE!  SORRY! (ELDER OLSON'S MOTHER)

1 With 3 of my companions at our zone conference

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

3 They let our district loose in Asuncion

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

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

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

7 Yeah...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Mon., 8/21/2017 (Neuland)

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

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

DEAR BLOGGER READERS,
AGAIN ELDER OLSON HAS SENT SOME GREAT PICKTURES, BUT I AM UNABLE TO COPY AND PASTE.  ALAS!  SORRY!

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

Monday, August 14, 2017

Mon., 8/14/2017 (Neuland)

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

DEAR BLOGGER READERS,
AGAIN, I CAN'T FIGURE OUT HOW TO COPY AND PASTE THE PICTURES FROM ELDER OLSON'S GMAIL TO HIS BLOG.  PLEASE EMAIL ME AT paulalrolson@gmail.com AND I CAN FORWARD YOU THE EMAIL.  SORRY, 
ELDER OLSON'S MOTHER

1 We cleaned an underground water tank/well

2 We also cut down a tree with a machete

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

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

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Mon., 8/7/2017 (Neuland)

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

DEAR BLOGGER READERS,
I REALLY WISH I KNEW WHY I CAN CUT AND PASTE THE TEXT BUT NOT THE PICTURES!  SO SORRY!  (ELDER OLSON'S MOM)

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

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

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

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Mon., 7/31/2017 (Transfers from Yby Yau to Neuland)

Well I have had the busiest week of my life for sure. Monday we wrote y'all then went to Pedro Juan Caballero to print pictures for our converts of their baptisms. We had a family home evening with the zone leaders and a family in their area, using my recipe, the zone leaders materials, and Elder Cartagena's supervision. Tuesday we had a good district meeting and everyone said goodbye because we had changes. We then went home directly after, and despite our colectivo possibly breaking down (we had to stop about 10 times), we made it home in time for me to finish packing then we went to say goodbye to the members I hadn/t said goodbye to yet. We ended up getting a cookout in because we had a bit of time (the colectivo passed around 11:30 at night). We said goodbye to the branch president, who helped us get all the stuff from the house to the road where the colectivo passes. Airton and his brother Nielson waited with us til the bitter end. After, we went to Asuncion in colectivo. We got to the terminal, and I was tired because I didn't sleep the whole ride. We got off the colectivo and went to where the office elders were waiting to get stickers to put on our luggage to go to the center of our zone. I got Mariano Roque Alonso on mine, and it turns out I'm going to the Chaco! My new area is called Neuland; its a little german colony in the middle of the Chaco. The Chaco is a big famous desert that is the north side of Paraguay, with no water. It's pretty cool though; I love it already. My companion is Elder Castañeda, and he's a small indigenous guy from Ecuador. He speaks another language called Quichua! He's really nice and we get along real well. There are 2 other missionaries that also will be going to the Chaco this transfer, Elder Salazar (I did a lot with him in PJC) and Elder Starks from Utah. With that news, we weren't able to go our new areas because we had a few things to do later in the week in Asuncion. The next 2 days,Wednesday and Thursday, we were in an area in the middle of the city an the elders there just told us to contact whatever we wanted, so contact we did! Thursday,I was in the same area, Trinidad with the Elders who are assigned there, Elder Sotec from Peru and Elder Hernandez from Colombia. Friday we had to get up early, because we had to help all day with a temple trip for 150 or so Nivacle indians from the Chaco. The other Elders who have been there have been working for over 6 months to get it all to work out, so we got there right in time hahaha! It was really a great experience, working inside and outside the temple with them, but it was also really hectic because they have a different language, Nivacle, that only one missionary really knows enough to communicate, but it was really an awesome experience that I'll have to tell you all about after the mission because there just isn't time! Saturday we helped out some more with the Nivacles, then Elder Castañeda and I went to the hospital. For the pat few days I hadn't really been able to walk; we thought I had an ingrown toenail but it turned out to be a parasite and I had to get a surgery to get it removed. As such, we looked like we were running a 3 legged race the rest of the day and Sunday also. We took a bus to Abundancia, which is another area in the Chaco, and we couldn't get to our area that night so we stayed over with the Elders there. Their area includes their house, one of the biggest chapels I've ever seen, and 56 houses of members that all speak Nivacle. We stayed there until today, when we got a ride to Filadelfia, which is another area in the Chaco, and tomorrow there will be a bus that we can take to our area. Neuland is the furthest area from the office in the whole mission (520 km; Yby yau was 367 or so). It actually has 2 areas; the other one of them is called Paraiso (Paradise) and is 70 km further from Asuncion. Today we are in Filadelfia, and it's got a lot of German people! I still haven't gotten to Neuland but next week I'll try to get pictures to you! Have a good one! Remember to read the Book of Mormon this week! Also pray and go to church! The book is blue, the church is true, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen. Thanks for all the emails and prayers, and especially photos!

DEAR BLOGGER READERS:  ONCE AGAIN, I (ELDER OLSON'S MOTHER) AM HAVING DIFFICULTIES LOADING HIS PICTURES.  IF ANY OF YOU HAVE A CLUE WHY UNTIL THREE WEEKS AGO I COULD COPY AND PASTE BUT NOW CAN'T, PLEASE EMAIL ME AT paulalrolson@gmail.com . I CAN COPY AND PASTE THE WRITTEN DOCUMENT BUT WHEN I PULL UP THE PICTURES, THE RIGHT CLICK ON THE MOUSE NO LONGER SHOWS THE "COPY" LINK.  I TRIED IT ON THE LIBRARY COMPUTER AND HAD THE SAME PROBLEM.  ELDER OLSON NOTES THAT HE HAS CHANGED NOTHING ON HIS END SO IF YOU HAVE ANY IDEA WHAT TO DO, LET ME KNOW!  THANKS!

1 Zona Pedro Juan Caballero
2 Asado with Luis Diego and Leo
3 Saying goodbye to the squad
4 Airton and Nielson wanted to wait with us til I had to leave
5 saying goodbye to my man Elder Cartagena. He's a good comp and good teacher; they're going to be baptizing about every week in Yby yau this change. I'm excited for him!
6 Once again, 5 stars
7 This bridge is not safe. Its basically 2 metal strips and the wood from pallets
8 other pic of the bridge
9 Turns out there was an Elder Olson in Trinidad who just went home!
10 The new Chaco elders!
11 Elder Hernandez in front, Elder Sotec in the middle, Paraguay River in the background!
12 We took a pit stop for Pizza!
13 Working out the schedule for the temple
14 We went to the temple! (with Elder Castañeda)
15 and with Elder Hill
16 We went out to get Lomitos since we hadn't hardly eaten anything in 3 days
17 Temple trip!
18 In Abundancia with the Neuland families that went to the temple!
19 Yeah, I went to church with 1 shoe. Hermana Evans said it's the first case of pique that shes seen in her time here in Paraguay
20 With Elder Castañeda and Elder... Brower! He's in Abundancia right now
21 some of the Nivacles had to ride for 8 hours on a tractor through the desert to get to the road to start the journey. They're from a place called Mistolar that's further out than everything but there aren't missionaries there.
22 In the middle of the chaco is the biggest church I think Ive ever seen
23 The chaco is a whole other level and so is my companion. Elder Castañeda is awesome!
24 we got a ride to Filadelfia

Have a good week! Auf Wiedersehen!

Monday, July 24, 2017

Mon., 7/17/2017 (Yby Yau)

What a week! About 2 days ago it was sunny and about 90 or so F, but its now in the 30s or so F with the first rain that we've had in a month or so. That's what the weather is like here in a nutshell. The week was a really good one; we didn't spend all day every day contacting, and had a lot of investigators progress. I don`t have too much time, and I wrote a lot with the pictures, so I'll have to go quickly. Most of the week was pretty normal. Tuesday we had district meeting, and Airton was there because we have to have a member. Thursday I had a division with Elder Passos in his area, including a couple of colectivos early and late at night, resulting in a slight lack of sleep. We visited one of his cousins, Luichi, who along with his son Diego really wants to get baptized. We also met a couple other people that want to get baptized, and Fernando is getting ready to get baptized this week! Saturday we went out into the middle of nowhere to visit the Familia Caceres, an older couple who are really strong members but live really far from the church. About 10 or 15 years ago they had church meetings in their house, but now all their neighbors who were members moved so they come to Yby yau every once in a while for church. Sundays we normally have about 20 or 25 people in church, but we got up early to go bring people to church. Together with the hermanas we had about 9 investigators in church, which is a TON. They were also all really cool investigators. The difference between good investigators and normal people, is that they ACT! They ACT by READING scriptures, PRAYING and going to CHURCH. We, as members of the church, should probably set the example and do those things, don't you think? Try to do all 3, all week! Have a good week everyone!

[DEAR BLOGGER READERS:  I--ELDER OLSON'S MOTHER--AM SUDDENLY HAVING DIFFICULTY COPYING AND PASTING HIS PICTURES INTO HIS BLOG.  WHEN I FIGURE OUT THAT I'M DOING WRONG, I'LL ADD THE PICTURES.  SORRY!]

1 With all the kids in Fm Fernandez. Dario, the little guy in the middle (10 years old), wants to get baptized in about a month, so stay tuned!

2 Fernando (also 10 years old) is planning to get baptized this week so also stay tuned! His mom is a member but hadn't been to church in 8 years or so until the Branch President asked us to visit her! The power of giving references to the missionaries!

3 Elder Passos discovered hamburgers with BACON in Pedro Juan and we had to check it out to finish off our division.

4 In the colectivo on the way home to Yby yau

5 the inside of a nice colectivo looks like this

6 we went out a few kilometers to visit a reference from the branch President's son, Robert

7 the bridge wasn't big enough for my bike and I at the same time

8 Since we were out there we decided to so see a pretty cool stream

9 Yby yau is at km 109. As a side note, my bike helmet is one of the original helmets that the missionaries used when they first opened up the area in the year 2000(17 years) and if the bikes were in another area before, my helmet might be older than me. Airton's bike is also one of the bikes they had here in 2000. I'm not exactly sure how it still works, but it does and we aren't going to ask questions hahaha

10 Whenever I talk about empedrado, this is what it looks like.

11 Airton's bike doesn't actually work going uphill

12 We went to visit Brother an Sister Caceres, who really want to go to church but live a little far from church, and he's 83 and she's 76. They do come about once every other month. That's what I call dedication

13 A little far as in 30 km away!

14 We made it (sadly that's a little out of range on the bikes as it would take half the day). Good thing Pte Cristino got a car!

15 We have had a lot of sand in the wind recently. If you look close, you should be able to see it.

16 We ate out at a restaurant the other day. As you may be thinking right now, Airton is with us every day all day!


Mon., 7/24/2017 (Yby Yau w/transfers tomorrow!)

Well it has been a jam packed week and we had changes. I will be leaving Yby Yau which is hard but I know the Lord will put me where I need to be. There isn't an abundance of time so I'll get right to it. This last pday we cooked marinera (kind of like fried chicken) with Airton, then did nothing until 6. It was freezing cold, and in the night went below freezing for the first time in years here.

Tuesday we spent all day helping the Fm Fernandez move. They lived in a pretty rough area so they moved to the other side of the neighborhood, about a half km away. They have the heaviest bed frames I've ever lifted! hahaha. That night we had a cookout with our investigator Luis. His wife doesn't like the church or something so she didn't want him to get baptized. He almost got baptized 5 years ago or so, but never got permission. We saw his record in the area book and decided to visit him. He's awesome, honestly the nicest person I know. He really wants to get baptized, but his wife who lives in Spain right now said no and he didn't know what to do because she was pretty set against him getting baptized. We felt prompted to teach about fasting in the first lesson, and explained that it's normally the first Sunday of the month but whichever Sunday works. Well turns out, he wanted to fast Tuesday until Wednesday so he cooked up some pork and some chicken sausage (which is actually really good) and we went over to eat then start our fast together with him (and Airton). Wednesday we went back to finish the fast with more sausage (they really like their meat here). We taught Luis that fasting is one of the most powerful forces that we can have because it's calling down help from God. Friday we went by to have a lesson, and Luis was super excited. He told us that he got a call from his wife at 4 in the morning asking directly if he wanted to be baptized. He said yes because he really does and she said he had her permission! He hadn't even told her yet that we stopped by to visit him or anything. This experience strengthened my testimony of fasting. I rarely fasted before my mission, but now I've got a lot of faith in the fact that it works. Friday we cleaned the baptismal font, and got it all filled up. We had a few complications with the water, but it all worked out in the end. Fernando got baptized and it was awesome; To Mom's joy, I did end up singing a musical number with the Hermana missionaries (When I am Baptized form the Children's Songbook) and Elder Cartagena got to baptize Fernando. It was a great moment. S

Sunday we had attendance of 46 PEOPLE at church!!! That's a little bit higher than the 11 or 12 we used to have! That night we did receive the news that I will be leaving Yby Yau. I didn't even start packing my bags because I didn't want to leave, Elder Cartagena didn't want me to leave, and honestly nobody did! In Yby yau they're used to having missionaries for a long time, and after 6 months it's hard to say goodbye! Especially with Pt Cristino and Airton. It has been an awesome and humbling experience to be in Yby yau with the people here, and they're honestly like a family to me here. Thank you all for the emails and have a great week! I'll be writing from a new area next week, so watch out for that!

[DEAR BLOGGER READERS:  I--ELDER OLSON'S MOTHER--AM SUDDENLY HAVING DIFFICULTY COPYING AND PASTING HIS PICTURES INTO HIS BLOG.  WHEN I FIGURE OUT THAT I'M DOING WRONG, I'LL ADD THE PICTURES.  SORRY!]

1 WE didn't do anything for Pday last week; just relaxed. This is Nielson, the younger brother of Airton
2 Airton's mom has started cooking for us every couple of days! It's nice to not have to cook everything once in a while. Imagine hush puppies that are sweet: pretty good stuff.
3 Back at it in the cold
4 We helped our investogator/lessactive family build and move their house


5 Moving Fm Fernandez. By the way, there is no such thing as a moving truck here. We moved everything manually about a half km up a hill to the new house
6 It was so cold we had our cookout with our investogator Luis inside
7 Luis is on the left, his friend Leo on the right. Paraguayan cookouts include meat, other type of meat, other type of meat, and a little bit of bread and mandioca on the side.
8 Cleaning the pila bautismal(baptismal font/pool)


9 Daniel gave a talk for the baptism, and did a great job!
10 Fernando's baptism!
11 With his mom, Lucia, and his sister Miriam
12 Happy as can be
13 with everyone that came early for the baptism
14 With my amigo Derlis
15 Empanadas are a big thing here so we tried making them
16 Not gonna lie, Elder Cartagena and I make some pretty good empanadas


17 y 18 the empanadas in process
19 Airton got a flat tire and we didn't have time so we had to leave the bikes at home
20 With Airton and his mom. They're an awesome family. Airton is our translator, Nielson is one of the hermanas translators, and their mom, Elva cleans our clothes (and now feeds us a ton)



Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Mon., 7/10/2017 (Yby Yau)

Once again a busy week! I started the week in Asuncion for a big district leader training. After Pday, Elder Vasquez, Elder Behrens and I all went out and visited a recent convert and less active family in Elder Behrens' old area, since we didn't have anything to do. The Asuncion Paraguay Temple is going to close soon for 2 years, and we shared a small message with them about how important it is to take advantage of the blessings of the temple. We then got taken over to the bus terminal, where we had to wait for a while. There were 2 massage chairs sitting in the middle of the terminal and I don't think anyone knew how to use them, so we tried them out. We took a colectivo all night to Pedro Juan Caballero, where the next day we had district meeting. Before the meeting, Elder Vasquez and I had to go to his house to switch companions. While there, Elder Entze and I celebrated the 4th of July for a couple of minutes. During the meeting, Elder Vasquez and I ended up having our meetings combined, and we gave an overview of what we learned from the district leader training. After the meeting, I went with Elder Pace, our zone leader, for the day in a division. As is normal for this mission, we spent the day contacting, contacting, and more contacting. I'm getting a lot of practice in contacting; its actually pretty fun! In the evening we concluded the division with some good 1 mil (20 cent) hot dogs. Good stuff. 
Wednesday and Thursday we got back to working in our area, and since we had limited time, tried passing every investigator's house that we could get to. Friday the branch president's wife fed us lunch! Then we had interviews with Pres. Evans and went to Pedro Juan with him and Hna Evans for zone conference. I did a division that night with Elder Vasquez and Elder Passos again to do a baptismal interview. We ended up walking around 15-20 km to gt there and back, which took up the whole afternoon and evening, but it was worth it. It sounds like for this month, our zone will have 9 baptisms! That's a lot better than where we were at before. That night, we stayed with Elders Enteze and Vasquez, and grilled some steaks. The next day during zone conference, we learned a lot, and it was focused on teaching repentance and baptizing converts, a talk from Elder Neil L Anderson. Repentance is so important! If you don't know what it is, find out now! There are so many people in the world with a weight on their shoulders that Jesus is waiting to take; let Him take it! Make the change; I know y'all can do it! In other news, Fernando couldn't make it to church, but he is honestly so excited to get baptized, and will definitely make it this week. For Pday, we beat the sun and biked the 11 or so km to Cerro Memby to see the sunrise with Airton. At a more human friendly hour, the Hermana Leaders also joined us for our district activity.That's pretty much all; have a great week! I love you all!
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1 Elder Entze and I celebrated the 4th of July
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2 and later again with the Americans in the zone
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3 On Saturday we had zone conference so we had to go to Pedro Juan on Friday. We decided to cook out to celebrate the 4th of July again
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4 Merica
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5 We discovered massage chairs in the bus terminal. Nobody knew what they were apparently because the other people in the terminal all looked at us weird  hahaha
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6 I mashed potatoes with a cup. Its actually very effective.
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7 You can't forget the salad!
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8 Finished product: T-bone steaks, garlic mashed potatoes, and salad
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9 Yet again I got to see my grandpa, Elder Villacresses
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10 Our first and probably last time taking a picture at a normal LDS chapel
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11 We got up early to watch the sunrise from Cerro Memby for Pday
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12 Cerro Memby is about 11 km from our house. Airton also came
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13 Cerro Memby
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14 We had to hide the bikes in the grass for the day... good thing even the trail is difficult to see
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15 We made it!
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16 We beat the sun
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17 sunrise
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18 12 meters of climbing required to take the fastest route to the top. As you may have thought, we avoided it
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19 The sun!
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20 Well there you have it!
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21 We showed the Hermana Leaders how to get up there too
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22 District Yby Yau
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23 see 22
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24 The best(and only hahaha) trio in the mission, hands down

Y'all have a good week!

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Mon., 7/3/2017 (Yby Yau)
We have had a busy week as usual! Last Monday we ended up spending in Yby yau. so we got to have our Tuesday district meeting in the chapel, and as the district is just Elder Cartagena, the Hermanas and I, we had to have a member, Hno Paiva come. I taught my lesson on the need for charity and love, and setting an example. Tuesday in the evening Airton came home from visiting family and buying his mission clothes, and Wednesday Morning we took his bike (around 5 years ago when the bikes got replaced, those that the missionaries would have thrown away they gave one to him) to the shop to get an overhaul NOTE If you are from Paraguay they charge you considerably less in places like bike shops. We literally replaced half of his bike for the price of about 5 dollars. With 3 bikes to use, we got out to work. Most of the rest of the week was about the same, but we got so much more done being on bikes AND with Airton. We have started moving out to working farther away, in a direction where we have to bike up a 2-km hill just to get to the closest people (NOT recommended directly after lunch hahahaha). Elder Cartagena started out really struggling on the bikes, but he has made considerable improvement, and he made it up both km for the first time Saturday! He´s really learning fast. Sunday during church I only taught one hour, and due to fast and testimony meeting, didn't give a talk either. Sunday in the afternoon Elder Cartagena and I went to Pedro Juan Caballero, so that he could stay with an elder there and I went with Elder Vasquez (from Ecuador) and Elder Behrens to Asuncion for a district leader meeting with President and Hermana Evans, and the Assistants. We learned a lot! We talked a lot about a lot of themes that work as a leader, but also apply to parents, spouses, teachers, or in whatever situation. We need to lead by example, with love for those we lead. That means to never get mad, never bajar la cana (I think it translates to ´´dropping the cane´´), and think about others first. Hermana Evans also brought in 2 sheep skins and showed that maybe the color is he same but the wool was very different, and explained that as leaders (or parents spouses teachers etc) we need to think of each person differently, by their needs,because everyone is different. She also used the example of twins, because a stranger can't tell them apart but to their mom they're very different from each other. This entails getting to know those whom you serve personally. As a missionary, that´s why I'm here, and as people, sons and daughters of God, that's why y'all are here. Look out for how you too can serve others. Any service, big or small, is big in God's eyes. Thanks for all the emails and prayers, have a good week!
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1This is Fernando. He is the 10 year old son of an Hermana that hasn't been to church in 7 years that we just helped reactivate. We are working towards a baptismal date in a couple weeks with him. He´s awesome- understands about 300 times better everything we teach than I do! He prayed to ask if he should be baptized, and got an answer in the affirmative!
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2 Helping Fernando's mom make Empanadas with Airton
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3 Elder Cartagena found out from hard experience that paraguayan rolling pins can be dangerous hahaha
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4 Empanada shells are fun to make
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5 Airton's mom made us Paraguayan tortillas! They're about half oil but taste really good!
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6 Paraguayan bus stop
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7 biking up 2 km hills right after lunch, in 35 celcuis weather is not the best idea
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8 Cleaning crew
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9 on the way to district leader meeting
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10 Got to see Elder Brower again
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We went to get Chinese food in Asuncion today after the meeting with the 2 elders who are serving in Juan de Salazar, my first area. As a side note, Elder Vasquez has special permision from President Monson to have a ponytail because he´s indigenous from Ecuador! Pretty cool if you ask me!
Y'all have a good week!