Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Mba'e'ichapa! (Hola or hello)

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 PorteƱo. 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 campaƱa, 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,

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