Monday, February 27, 2017

Mon., 2/27/2017 (Yby Yau wk. 3)

Its been a busy week! We are in Horqueta for a conference tomorrow and there are 12 missionaries with 1 computer... so itll be a bit quicker today. We started off monday in Pedro Juan Caballero for Pday, then Tuesday we had our district meeting. In PJC there is a large terminal where we have to wait for a colectivo to go home, and we waited for hours until one finally came. We ended up not getting out to work. Wednesday was a normal day, then thursday the Zone leaders came to do a division with us and some baptismal interviews. Elder Baez and Elder Silva(from Peru) had the bikes, so Elder Villacresses(from Ecuador; he trained my other companion, Elder Tesucun) and I had to walk. We actually had a member give us lunch that day! But they live 12-15 km away so we walked for a little while first. After lunch, we paid the branch president to take us 40 or so km to a woman named Carmen's house to visit her. She got baptized in Piquete Cue(near my old area, Juan de Salazar), and interestingly enough, Elder Villacresses was one of the 2 elders who found her originally! She was really excited to see us, especially him. She lives with all her family right now, and none of them are members of the church, so we'll have to go out there more often! The Lord works in mysterious ways. We then returned to closer to Yby Yau for the baptismal interviews. We have 5 people ready to get baptized and they all passed the interview, but 3 of them have to get married first and they don't have the right documents right now, so only 2 of the members of Family Benitez can get baptized right now. Friday we cleaned the baptismal font(it was pretty nasty) and then Saturday we had the baptisms! The 2 girls that got baptized are Nanci and Gabi Benitez. They're 19 and 12 years old, and live with all their family, who are all investigators. I got to baptize Gabi, so that was awesome. Yesterday in church we confirmed them as members, then I passed the sacrament, led the music, and gave a talk on fasting. Today we are in Horqueta for the day and night, because we have a zone conference with the Concepcion Zone tomorrow. They had to divide up our zone to be with the other zone to stay over the night. I hope you all have a good week!
Displaying DSCN1072[1].JPG
1 the kids here love our bikes
Displaying DSCN1077[1].JPG
2 our first service project here, 2 weeks ago, was cutting down trees and making a pig pen
Displaying DSCN1081[1].JPG
3 junior companion, junior bike... right?
Displaying DSCN1099[1].JPG
4 Constructing the pig pen.. And also your first look at Elder Baez!
Displaying DSCN1108[1].JPG
5 nearing completion
Displaying DSCN1083[1].JPG
6 his is Dani. He's in the family that we were serving
Displaying DSCN1086[1].JPG
7 And him with his brother Panchi
Displaying RSCN1105[1].JPG
8 Theres a tree in the way but this is cerro memby; The biggest landmark in our area. Hopefully we will have time to climb in some Pday
Displaying DSCN4891[1].JPG
9 Baptism!
Displaying DSCN4902[1].JPG
10 same
Displaying DSCN4884[1].JPG
11 the font we had to clean
Displaying DSCN4876[1].JPG
12 Elder Silvas pants couldn't hold the bike hahaha (forgot to mention, it monsooned thursday)

Los amo,

Monday, February 20, 2017

Mon., 2/20/2017 (Yby Yau wk 2.)

I think we will have to go another week without photos haha sorry, the computer wont pull up my pictures... but anyways on with the week! We have had a lot go on. Monday we took a collectivo all the way to Pedro Juan Caballero for district meeting, and got in early tuesday morning. At district meeting the zone went around the room and we all introduced ourselves. There are 14 Elders and 4 hermanas in the Pedro Juan Caballero Zone, and Im the only gringo. Fun stuff. After district meeting, we went to an all you can eat buffet, which probably lost a lot of money on us. My mission credit card went missiong so that was a little bit stressful,but last night(Sunday) one of the Elders in Pedro Juan called and said someone had found it in the street and given it to them. Later Tuesday wasthe event of the week. We were biking along, and as usual, Elder Baez was way in front of me. We were going downhill on the way to the church to meet with the branch president, and we went across a concrete pad at a gas station, which had a couple foot drop on the other side. Its been dry recently, so the ground was all sand. I noticed the drop when it was too late to stop, and I would have made it if it was ground, but the tire got stuck in the sand and went over the handlebars! It´s kind of hard to explain but oh well. The phone flew out of my pocket duing the crash, and we didnt notice until a fewe minutes later when we were in the meeting with the President of the branch. When we went back, the phone was gone, and when we tried calling, it was turned off, which means it had been stolen. We ended up being without a phone for half the week! It worked out ok though, because Wednesday we went on divisions to santa Clara. Santa Clara is a small community between us and PJC(Pedro Juan Caballero), and they used to have missionaries there but it was too dangerous so they had to close the area 3 or so years ago. When the missionaries left, the church floundered, and the members really need help. About a month ago, the closest area in PJC decided to open it back up, and when they went back there the first time, some of the church members cried because they knew that some day the missionaries would return. Elder Baez(and his guarani) and I, Elder Da Silva from Brazil, and Elder Ollero, from Peru went out there tuesday until friday morning to help the members and find people to teach. We had to take a collectivo to the closest bus stop, then walk 20 miles to Santa Clara. Luckily, on the way over, 2 men in a truck gave us a ride all the way. It was pretty hard to teach people, because many people only know guarani, but we did find this one family that the missionaries had been teaching. They didn´t remember much, so we started all over. One question we ask a lot to start is ``If you could talk to Jesus face to face and ask him one question, what would it be?`` They responded by asking why there is so much division in the world. We led the discussion into the apostacy, and how, after Jesus and the apostles left the earth, many people changed doctrine, and even though they meant the best, they didn´t have that prophetic revelation that is essential. We discussed a need for a restoration of the truth, and they agreed with what we have to say. I hope they can progress in the future. We were pretty successful in the division, and hopefully they can reopen the area soon for missionaries, because it really isn´t dangerous. The people are really nice, and like my area, a lot of them are really timid, and are sooo humble. Friday we went home, and worked on cleaning the house. Our house is really big (7 rooms) and over a long time a lot of junk has accrued. We cleaned for a couple hours, and hardly made a dent. By the end of my time here, we are going to have the house spick and span. We then went to the chapel, where President Evans and the assistants visited us, gave us our new phone, and we had interviews. We have a multi zone conference coming up soon. Saturday we put in work, and visited a lot of people. Sunday we had about 30 people in church, 8 or 9 of which weren´t members. This area is pretty successful right now, and we hope to get a lot done with our investigators. We visited a family that has 8 people who want to be baptised, but 2 of them need to get married first and they´re pretty poor. It´s a lot of money to get married, but they realise the importance of baptism and are actuallly following through on commitments. It´s not often that you have 2 people read all the way to Enos in the Book of Mormon in 1 week. We had the opportunity to give 4 blessings to members of there family, so that was awesome. Last night we took a collectivo to PJC to stay the night with the other Elders in our district, and we have Pday and district meeting tomorrow here. Today we didn´t really do anything; Ingot up and did my studies at 630 and they all slept in until 10. We had lunch with a less active family and played uno with them, then walked for a long time to another area to do our computer time. I really don´t know if I´ll be able to find a computer that works for photos, so sorry about another week without photos. Next week I hope they will work. Until then,yall have a good week! Thanks for all you do and everything!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Mon., 2/13/2017 (Transfer to Yby Yau)

Mba'e reiko?? (como estan or what's up)

This week has been packed with a lot of fun stuff. I'll start at the beginning. Monday and Tuesday I packed furiously, since we had transfers coming up and I knew I was leaving. We also visited some of the members from my area to say goodbye. I have to apologize; we weren't able to make it anywhere to a place that can hook up to USB, so no pictures this week. When I can, I'll get them online. Anyways, Wednesday really early we got up and ready, and got a ride to the chapel in Limpio, Paraguay to wait for the office elders to arrive to pick us up. To get to Limpio, Elders Tesucun, Passos, Echague and I got a ride from our landlord's husband, in a small moving truck type vehicle. We waited til the office elders came, then I said my goodbyes, and we were off. I got dropped off at the office for a little while, then was taken to the chapel in Mariano, where we waited for a few hours, then walked to the bus stop for our colectivo.
It sounds like there is a little confusion about what a collectivo is, so here's the lowdown. Colectivos are just buses. Different bus routes have different line names and different color markings to more easily tell them apart. Different roads have different lines, and there are hundreds if not thousands of different bus lines. They come in all shapes and sizes, but they can be grouped into a couple different types.
1. Chupa colectivos. They are 2 mil guaranis, and are basically like schoolbuses from the united states.
2. Chuchi colectivos. They are pretty similar to regular buses in the united states. They are normally 3.300 mil guaranis, and have air conditioning.
3. Long distance colectivos. They are the ones that you need to go a long distance, such as the chaco or my area, yby yau. For us, they are always double decker(2 levels), but some only have 1. They range in size and type, and some have air conditioning, some not. Some are only cushioned seats, and some are very nice half bed seats. They are more towards 50 or 100 mil guaranis.

Since we were going out far, we had a big colectivo. I can only describe them as being in an airplane 1st class. They had a snack or 2 and water and a bit of soda for the passengers. We basically tried to sleep the whole way. We got to Yby ya'u around 8 pm, and I got my first view of the new area. The town of yby yau is just a crossroads; there is a routa(bus route, or basically means the one road in the area because everything else is dirt) that goes from Concepcion to Pedro Juan Caballero, and there is another routa from Asuncion that dead ends into the first. The area is basically rolling hills, and the trees aren't too tall, so when you're on a hill you can see for miles. It's a really pretty area. Anyways, we called 2 of the youth from the area to come on their moto and help us by driving our suitcases to our house, then we walked to the house. Yby yau has a small town with a bank and small grocery store and 2 gas stations, and we live on a hill about a km from the cruce (intersection). WE had a lot of time that day, so Elder Baez and I got to know each other better. He is from Paraguay, and speaks guarani. He actually said that when he is thinking about whatever, he thinks in guarani, then in spanish after. He is from a little outside of Encarnacion, Paraguay, which is in the south area. He likes playing soccer, and his favorite club here is Cerro Porteño. He is a big fan. He has only been here in the mission about 4 or 5 months more than me. We got me situated for the rest of the day, then slept since we were pretty tired. The next day I got learning a lot more. If you have a map of 
Paraguay, you can look for our area. This time, you can see it pretty easily! Look for Horqueta, near Concepcion. Then look at Pedro Juan Caballero. The whole space in between, 180-200 km is our area. Fun stuff. It's one of the biggest areas here. There are 3 areas that have bikes, and the other two are in the Chaco. The bikes we have are reallllllllly nice. The reason for this is because we are mountain biking. For lessons, we normally bike 3 to 10 km along one of the roads, then go off into the dirt and sand. It's really bumpy, and let me tell you that bicycle seat had me sore for a couple days hahahaha. There are two types of days here. Some days it pours and we get soaked, and the other days we sweat so much that the sweat drips off our ties. It is so hot you can't imagine! Regardless of the heat, I love the area. The people here are so humble, and even if they don't have anything, they offer us bananas or water or whatever they do have. The biggest problem I have here is the language! This time, I don't mean spanish. Out here in the campaña, it is all guarani. About two thirds of the people can speak panish too, but guarani is first, and my companion speaks guarani, so EVERYTHING is guarani. Our lessons basically go like this: Elder Baez teaches. They talk. I speak, then he translates. Then they talk. Then he teaches...and repeat everything over and over and over. I love how the people here are so humble, and have so much faith. They realize that if something is true, you need to do something not wait around to be saved. With that in mind, they come to church. It's a lot different here for church. The chapel is a house that got converted into a church, and there's a big room in the back for sacrament meeting. The number of people that attend church varies around 30 or 35 people, as opposed to about 10 when Elder Baez came in 4 months ago. We had around 10 investigators in church this week, so it's nice to see some people that we can work with! They have a branch here, not a ward, and the Branch presidency right now is an Hermano that is about the only one who isn't less active, and Elder Baez is 1st counselor and secretary. We as missionaries have to do everything for everything, so I'm learning about a lot of new stuff like tithing slips and cleaning the chapel and conducting meetings. I had to give a talk this week, and I introduced myself and talked about Matthew 5:14-16. It's a cool scripture, you all should mark it! Anyways, on with what we have been doing. We normally get in a lesson or 2 or 3, but it's difficult when we have to bike cross country to every lesson, and also have to lead all the activities and run everything. Thursdays are a noche de rama, which is basically an activity for everyone that is social, with a bit of food and some pig pong or whatever. Fridays we play soccer with all they young men and honestly half the town. We had some really fun service projects this week. Normally service in my first area was cutting grass or cutting grass or cutting grass, but here it's a little different. The first one was great. We hiked through this one family's land, looking for trees to chop down to get wood to make a pig pen. They needed some special wood that doesn't decay very fast. We hiked through a lot of different areas, including tall grass, forest, and even a large area of swamp. We cut down a couple trees and carried and dragged them to the family's house, then built a pig pen. The other service was even better. They wanted some honey, so we went honey hunting. Once again, we went hiking, looking for bees. We found a couple eventually, and tracked them to their hive, which was in a coconut tree in a very dense forested area. We proceeded to do the whole process. We were with 2 kids who were basically pros. We got some termite mounds and piled them and got a fire going (yes it was a dense forest but it's Paraguay so it's totally fine hahaha). We used the termite mounds to create smoke, which got the bees out of the hive, then chopped down the tree. We got the hive and cut off the good parts, then booked it out of there before the bees could notice their loss. I must say the honey here is really good.
On another note, the food scene here is a bit different. Our money for buying food is given a boost, because we have to cook every day for ourselves. Elder Baez is a fantastic cook, and so that is going to be a high point of serving here.
We did have a harrowing experience Saturday night. We had a lesson pretty far out, and were coming home on the routa, and decided to have a lesson with some less active members. After that lesson, we had to zip home because it was 9:30. We were biking down the routa, and I was about 5 meters behind Elder Baez. We suddenly heard a screeching sound and saw a car whiz past us. The person driving had not seen us until he was 10 meters away from us, and tried to get over into the lane going the other way, but as a result of his speed (I'd estimate 120 mph), he was able to avoid us but crashed his car into a ditch. Unfortunately, but fortunatel for us, he was high, so didn't give us any grief about what happened to his car; he was unharmed as well as his passenger. There were no other cars in theroad, but within a minute or 2 50-100 people had already congregated, coming on foot and motos. The story gets pretty complicated from there and I'll have to relate all that happened after my mission, but we were able to go, unharmed to our house soon after the wreck. Someone had taken my bike but we got it back. The area where that had happened is a little bit sketchy, and we had problems trying to leave the scene, but the way we handled it was noticed by a less active family, who all came to church Sunday. The Lord works in mysterious ways. He is there to protect and guide us if we will just follow his lead! As I said last week, reading a bit from the scriptures and saying our prayers is so important! It may seem so small, but like screws in a ship, it's what holds everything together. Yall have a good week, thanks for the letters and prayers and everything! Pictures are always welcome too! Good to hear from yall!
Los amo,

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Mon., 2/6/2017 (Juan de Salazar)

Boy have I news for yall!
Sorry I didn't write the past week, we were in the hopsital half the week hahaha. Ill start with the week before then work to the big stuff. Around 2 weeks ago we were working with Euclides, one of the inactive members in our ward, who smokes and has various other things he has going on. Except the es is an ed because he committed to stop smoking! He has been going on 2 weeks without cigarettes, and its been awesome because he can tell theres a difference, and we can too. He used to never have energy and just lounge around, but recently he has had so much energy that one day we found him outside working during the siesta hours(siesta is after lunch til 3 or 4 and being outside, working, and being awake during this time of the day is uncommon). Its been awesome working with him as he tries to stop smoking and reunite with his family. He came to church 2 weeks ago and wants to keep coming back and put his life completely straight.
We got to have a family home eveining with a new famiuly in the ward, the Francos, and made pizza! Pizzas here are a lot different, but pizza is pizza! It was good. The food has actually been super good here lately. The Hermana that feeds us on Thursdays has always cancelled but 2 weeks running she has been able to feed us. Stroganoff and spaghetti(well close to the 2). Good stuff.
Our landlady also owns a gym, so everymorning for our exercise time(normally 30 mins but we get up early for a full hour) we go over there. Missionaries in our mission are only supposed to listen to church music, so every morning theres four of us screaming out "I need thee every hour" or "Praise to the man" or an EFY song in English Spanish or Portuguese. At the moment, the four Juan de Salazar elders are me, Elder Tesucun(from Guatemala), Elder Passos(from Brazil) and Elder Echague(from Concepcion, Paraguay, he is only here for 3 weeks while waiting to leave for Peru for his mission)
On to what you have all been wondering about, whats going on at the hospital?? Well here we go. 2 weeks ago we had a service project cutting some grass and deforesting for a 98 year old lady in the other elders' area. Elder Tesucun got 2 blisters on his hand from the machete he was using, and one of them was in a wierd are of his hand where blisters arent usual. After about a week, it developed and was pretty nasty, so we went through a lot and finally got him to the hospital Monday. We spent all day Monday and Tuesday in Hospital Bautista. and Tursday we went back again. Turns out it was a venomous spider bite, so hes on 3 or so pills right now. Yall might think this was all pretty hard for us, but the reward comes after the trial of faith and this week we saw it come in a visible form Tuesday. Elder Tesucun had been in pain for days, but he grew up boxing and is really good at holding the pain. We had multiple visits before, and were supposed to meet the doctor at 4 to have some work done on his hand, but there are always so many people waiting the appointments are always late. Turns out, the doctor wasnt even there that day til 6 or so, so we waitied 2 or 3 hours. We we eventually get out of the appointment and go outside the hospital, and decide we should call Hermana Evans to let her know what was going on. We were going to stand in the shade but moved to another side of a bush, where we were visible from the street (at this point we are 30 or so feet inside a fence). Some random guy saw us from out at the street as he was walking past,and walked over to us and started up a normal conversation. he squinted at our name tags and tried sounding out our names like all the members do, so we assumed he was a member of our church in Asuncion(in the boundaries of the other mission at this point). After a few questions, we find out he isn't a member and has never talked to missionaries before. He has seen us a lot but never spoken to us. He asked about our missions and such then asked if we would share some with him. We started explaining a lot of stuff because he was asking questions faster than we could answer them, then he asked if we could sit down and talk more. We ended up sharing a lot of stuff abut the restoration and the gospel of Jesus Christ. It was awesome because he already understood the importnace of the Book of Mormon as ANOTHER testament of Jesus Christ, speaking about the people in the Americas, even though he had never hear about the Book of Mormon before. We eventually ended, and he went on his way with a Book of Mormon, and a desire to be baptised by someone holding authority from God, and attend church. The awesome thing is, we didn't have to commit him to attend church, he said he thought he needed to. Baptism too; he had so many questions about whgat to do to be baptised. Everything about the lesson, meeting this guy and the timeing and everything definitely wasn't us. We had divine help, giving us a push to where we needed to be to help another person start their path to Christ. What a blessing to be able to see the fruits of our labor.

So Wednesday we weren't able to work much due to Elder Tesucun's hand, and Thursday was the hospital again. Friday we were back in our area, and started a division with the Zone Leaders. I was in our area with Elder grey, from Honduras. It was great til around lunch Saturday, when I started vomiting and diahrrea, among other symptoms, all through yesterday, I had to stay in bed, with a temperature of 39 celcius. Somehow I survived and am doing fine today hahaha. Sunday night was a big one. What they did 6 weeks ago for our changes-transfers(cambios) was that tuesday we met as a zone as usual and they announced who was staying and who was leaving. Then the leaving missionaries and their companions needed to be in their zones meeting chapel early wednesday, where they would be picked up and driven to their new zone or to asuncion for their long collectivo ride into the boonies. Well it was different this time. The mission conformed to the new way that we are supposed to have it, where the zone leaders call everyone sunday night with the news of each persons news; whether they are staying or leaving and where they are going. Then Wednesday we have to be at our zone's chapel and get picked up from there. Here is the news. Elder Echague has his own mission to go to. Elder passos is... Staying! And recieving a new companion; the other zone leader, Elder Gray. Elder Tesucun is... staying! And I am... leaving! Elder tesucun is recieving a local Paraguayan companion (most likely that is waiting to leave on his mission and has nothing to do). I am leaving wednesday to go to Yby yau! I can pronounce the name but can't really type the proununciation. The closest I can type is eeooh-boo yah-ooh and its kind of nasally starting off the first part. It's guarani. My area is one of the largest in the mission and is one of 2 areas that has bikes! So Ill have a bike for a little while. (Sorry mom, no helmets) Yby yau is relatively close to Pedro Juan Caballero, so that's where all my big meetings and such will be. My new companion is Elder Baez; He is from Paraguay so I will be learning a lot of guarani. Our lessons will also be in a lot more guarani than right now, since we are going to be out there. I'm excited for the new change! In other news, 2 new areas in the chaco have been opened up, so there will now be 8 Elders(as opposed to 6) and now 2 sisters in the Chaco. Today and tomorrow will consist of a lot of packing and visiting members. That's all the news from these 2 weeks, more to come soon!

I've got a challenge for everyone who reads this. Try to read your scriptures every day. If you aren't right now, start slow. Maybe read 2 or 3 verses a day, or a column, or a page, or a chapter. Start with a little and work your way up to a bit more and a bit more gradually. I know it can seem like a task sometimes, but think about your day. There are 24 hours, meaning 1440 minutes. Just use 10 of those for learning something new from the scriptures. I always learn something new. It's worth it to know Jesus Christ that much more. It's worth it to know him because knowing him is like having a fire in the winter. It's nice to have one, but if you don't put in the firewood(the scripture study), you lose the fire. Nobody wants to go without a fire while camping in the woods. I don't mean just the Book of Mormon. I don't mean just the Bible. I mean all the scriptures. I want to end this week's email with a quote from a good friend of mine here, Elder Schmidt. It's his testimony of the Book of Mormon and I completely agree with it 100%. "It is true. It is the entirety of this church. If the book were wrong, the church would be false. But it is not. The book is blue, the church is true. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen."
Displaying DSCN0836[1].JPG
1 the other 3 Elders here

Displaying DSCN0834[1].JPG
2 Baptism!I don't have a picture of the people but we set up the room. It was an 8 year old that lives in the other area, and his grandma is a member but his parents are less actives. They had to teach him so it kind of counts. Elder Echague got to baptize Jonathan.
Displaying DSCN0839[1].JPG
3 Euclides was out working during the siesta so we pitched in
Displaying DSCN0841[1].JPG
4 And also had a lesson with him in the gutter of the routa(the only paved road in out area). Fun times.

Displaying DSCN0843[1].JPG
5 the chapel in Limpio, Paraguay where our zone meets
Displaying DSCN0895[1].JPG
6 spiders bite, if you hadn't heard
Displaying DSCN0901[1].JPG
7 I promise... we have an excuse for not working
Displaying DSCN0910[1].JPG
8 Hermana Evans, tengo una pregunta... (I have a question)
He actually was told to keep his arm raised monday for less blood to flow to the bite
Displaying DSCN0908[1].JPG

9 Elder Campos from our district, with his 20's. We have to withdraw our money 2 times a month, and the ATM ran out of the bigger bills
Displaying DSCN0911[1].JPG
10 Our week in 1 picture
Displaying DSCN0906[1].JPG
11 We decided to switch areas for a week(Hospital Bautista)
Displaying DSCN0969[1].JPG
12 If you have a missionary bhat you're a missionary right? We escaped the rain by visiting a less active family. The kid on the left, Johnathan is getting baptised this week(2 Johnathans in 2 weeks getting baptised... too cool)
Displaying DSCN0983[1].JPG
13 Elder Glasgow(from my MTC group, from Arizona), me, Elder Villacresses(from Ecuador, my trainer's trainer, which neabs he is my mission grandpa), Don't know that guy, Elder Olson(from Mississippi), Elder Schmidt, from my MTC group and Utah, Elder Raffailano, from El Salvador, and Elder Tesucun. Since Elder Villacresses are going out to the Pedro Juan caballero Zone, Elder olson is going home, and Elder raffailano is going to the Chaco, we went to Paulistas, an expensive brazilian steakhouse buffet(15 or 20 dollars in american) in Asuncion. I didn't eat anything, as I am still a little sick.
Displaying DSCN0972[1].JPG
14 Elder tesucun's sleeping habits while recuperating
Displaying DSCN0971[1].JPG
15 cont.
Displaying DSCN0970[1].JPG
16 cont.
Don't worry, he is fine now.
Thanks for all your prayers and support, and especially the emails.
Los amo,