Tuesday, March 28, 2017

New Companion

Mon., 3/27/2017 (Yyb Yau)

Hey everyone, I hope you´re having a good week! We had changes this week so I got my new companion. His name is Elder Castro, and he is from Peru; a little town on the border with Ecuador. He likes playing soccer and is very obedient. Another thing; he likes contacting (the equivalent of tracting, or knocking on doors to find new people). It sounds like we are going to get some stuff done this change. Every 6 weeks at the start of the change, we set goals for everything, including how many people we will teach and baptize. The mission´s goal for each companionship is 3 every 6 weeks. Last change with Elder Baez we had a goal of 4. This change we went up a step to 11. We´ll see how that works out!

Anyways, I'll start from the beginning of the week. Tuesday we had district meeting, and then visited church members for Elder Baez to say goodbye. The branch president came to help us get Elder Baez's stuff to the bus stop. It took a while because he has 6 suitcases worth of stuff! We took a collectivo to Asuncion arriving around 4:30 am Wednesday, and there met up with about 20 missionaries and the office elders. We stopped by the office then I got dropped off in Mariano to wait for my companion and the collectivo back home. I got to talk to a lot of other missionaries that I know, including Elder Tesucun, who went out to Concepcion. I also talked to Elder Brower, my companion from the MTC, but with him it was by telephone, letting him know that he was supposed to be in Asuncion that day to pick up a new missionary and train. He was pretty bummed because he had stayed in Concepcion... but it all worked out because they had him skype his new companion hahaha. Good old Elder Brower. Anyways, we waited a long time, and eventually got on the collectivo. We arrived during the night. Thursday we got Elder Castro settled in and got out to work. He has no experience with bikes hahaha. We had a Noche de Rama, where we had a little lesson, then had some games planned but apparently there was a Paraguay soccer game so that ended up being the activity hahaha. There´s nothing bigger than soccer here. Friday we had a pretty similar day. Saturday, we ended up going 38 or so kilometers to visit a woman who got baptized near Asuncion then moved here. She wants us to baptize 2 or 3 of her kids, so we´re looking forward to working with them. We got a ride from the branch president, but he can´t take us out there much so we will have to go on bikes. More to come in the following weeks hopefully. Sunday we had church. With Elder Baez gone, there were a few vacancies. I now teach for the first hour, we teach the class for the young men second hour, I led the music all 3 hours of church, and both of us gave talks in church. Oh, by the way, we were given notice right before\during church hahaha. Exciting stuff. After church, it was raining pretty hard. We really didn´t want to go out and get soaked, so we went through our area book and called every person who the missionaries have talked to before but that we don´t currently visit. We found a few people that said we could stop by this week, so hopefully we´ll get to meet some new people! Today we are in Pedro Juan Caballero for Pday. Since we are in Pedro Juan, the only place with computers has a problem with photos so I can´t send any this week, sorry! Ill try to send them next week!

This week we have general conference coming up (Final 4 also, go Heels!). General conference is a cool time because there´s a prophet here on the earth just like in the times of the Bible and Book of Mormon and you can watch on your TV (BYUtv) or on the computer(lds.org) in your house! Pretty convenient and easy. It´s a time when we get to learn a lot about a lot of subjects, and it´s all really useful. I encourage you to all watch conference, whether it´s in English, Spanish, German, Portuguese, Guarani(that´s what we´re watching it in), or whatever other language. Go ahead and watch; you´ll get so much out of it. I know it´s important and you can too.

FYI:  In the mission there are about 160 missionaries. I think there are 6 senior missionaries (we don't ever see them), and my zone right now has 14 elders and 4 sisters. My first zone had about 18 elders and 6 sisters. So its a ratio of about 3 or 4 to 1. There are 3 elders and 2 sisters from Paraguay here, as well as one guy in my zone who is half Argentine and doesn't like to speak guarani. There aren't very many Americans; I'd say maybe 40 of 160. In my zone there are 2 (finally!) of us American elders and 1 sister. The rest are all Latinos. A ton of the Latinos are from Peru. We can get the Liahona if we want but we have to go to the office or have someone else pick one up.

Thanks for all your emails and prayers.  Have a good week!

(I love y´all!)

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Fun Stuff in Paraguay Once Again

Mon., 3/21/2017 (Yby Yau)

We have had another busy week here in Yby yau/Pedro Juan Caballero! Monday to finish off the day we were going to make cookies with the cookie mix Hermana gave us for our house. We actually don't have a cookie sheet so we just made cookie cake instead but it was really good to have some American food. hahaha. Tuesday we left early for Pedro Juan for district meeting. After the meeting, it was one of the hermanas birthday, so we had a little cake and ice cream. I then started a division with Elder Torres in Pedro Juan, which lasted til Thursday night. The members love the elders, so when we passed by a couple of the members' houses they all had a ton of food for us. We finished off the day in a noche de rama (activity for everyone at the church), which ended up being... you guessed it... soccer! Hahaha every activity turns up being soccer here. It was a lot of fun, as they have a lot of little kids and playing soccer with 5 year olds is pretty fun. Thursday I learned how Noah felt when God sent the rains because let me tell you, it rained buckets. And when I say buckets, I mean the Carolina Tar Heels in march kind of buckets. WE went out to work nevertheless, and got a little wet. I'll send the photos I can (there was one point in the day where all the water was above our knees but we didn't risk losing a camera so we had to wait til it subsided for the photos). It was pretty crazy. We then walked a few miles to the other side of Pedro Juan to help a companionship of sisters move to a different house. Their old house was pretty nasty but the new one is great. Elder Torres and I took a colectivo home late that night, as the moving took a lot longer than expected (we also may or not have gotten lost while walking to the sisters' house hahaha). Friday Elder Baez and I, among other things, cleaned the baptismal font(tub), because we had 2 baptisms planned for Saturday. The next day we went up to where our investigator family, Fm Benitez, lived--with the zone leaders--for the baptismal interviews of Cristian and Junior. We got some stuff ready and baked a cake, then had the baptism. Cristian and Junior were super excited for their baptisms. I really don't understand anything in our lessons (because they are in Guarani), but I can always tell when people have the desire to follow Jesus Christ, and when the spirit is there. We felt the spirit so strongly during their baptismal service. Yesterday we didn't get too much done, but (for the first time ever, I think) had branch council, which is really for all the leaders of all the organizations and everything but half the people came, including half of Fm Benitez. It was good to get the insight of everyone on what the people need! Today for Pday we stayed in our area and Elders Hernandez and Torres came to climb Cerro Memby. I wasn't feeling good so Elder Torres and I stayed back, but I'm doing better now. This week I will receive a new companion, as Elder Baez's time has come, but I won't know until Wednesday, so next week I'll be able to write it! That's all from the week!

One thing I wanted to note came up in my conversation with a friend (from the MTC) serving in Uruguay right now is how missions really aren't about the numbers. Everyone before my mission said I would be able to help hundreds of people get baptised, I'd be able to tech 50 lessons a week, and so on. That's not really how it is in the mission field. It can be pretty hard sometimes, but the only number we need to focus on is how much effort we give. That effort should be 100% as much as possible. It works the same way in life. If you really want to be better, if you really want to read some scriptures every day, if you really want to get good grades in school, or whatever other situation, you will only get it after you try and after you put in work. In 2 Nephi 25:23 it says that we are saved after all we can do. After ALL WE CAN DO. My challenge this week is think about one thing you can do better this week to do all you can do to be better, and do it. Thank you all for your emails and prayers! It's really awesome to get emails from family (and friends too if anyone has time); I only skim through them during computer time but I read all the emails a few times throughout the week, and its great to get encouragement. Since some of y'all were wondering, I am allowed to receive and view photos sent in emails! Have a great week everyone! I love y'all!

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1 the spoils of a clean house
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2 jersey swap; I had found a discounted official Paraguay jersey and he had an official Cerro PorteƱo jersey(his favorite club here) and as companions we have to swap something
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3 Hermana Alexander's birthday party
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4 While waiting to take out our money, I realized I was with 4 Peruvians. Of 14 Elders in our zone, there are 5 from Peru hahaha
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5 Waiting on the other Elders, they ended up waiting on me hahah
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6 Pedro Juan Caballero sunset
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7 Noche de Rama and the ball goes up on the roof... don't worry its 100% safe
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8 We helped Hermana Gonzales and Hna Alexander move in, with this Hermano's truck and ElderSalazar, Elder Belez, Elder Torres and I
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9 We got a bit wet and a bit dirty. Turns out there was mold covering everything from the Hermanas' house hahaha
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10 Nothing like good ole Ramen until Elder Torres spilled everywhere hahaha
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11 How they wash clothes in Peru I guess
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12 Elder Torres washing his clothes
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13 Our investigators' dueno had a tractor
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14 Bailing out the font before cleaning
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15 Clean as a whistle
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16 Baptism! Me, Junior, Cristian, and Elder Baez
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17 With the whole family
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18 Cristian and Elder Baez
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19 Junior and I
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20 I have a couple old pictures that Elder Torres sent me today. Our district
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21 with one of the zone leaders too
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22 our division was a bit wet
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23 or should I say really wet
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24 The water was a little deep. It was at this level earlier before we had the camera out, so I recreated how deep it was
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25 All of the streets
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26 Elder Torres was too scared to cross. The water was too high for motorcycles and cars to go anywhere, and Elder Torres was having trouble crossing streets
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27 Apparently this weather is normal in April
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28 It was pretty strong
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29 waiting on E Torres
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30 Shelter finally... after the rain was over. All of these pictures were about an hour after the rain
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31 soaked
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32 Off to help the Hermanas move
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33 PJC moving crew
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34 Lunch as a district ft. Termites in the background
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35 Lunch. Elder Baez has worn his new Paraguay jersey every second possible
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36 A picture from a Pday lunch from my second week in Yby yau/Pedro Juan Caballero.

 That's all!

Monday, March 13, 2017

House Inspections... Oh Boy!

Mon., 3/13/2017 (Yby Yau)

It's cooling off here in Yby yau! We got down to the mid 90s (F) this week hahaha. It's turning over to fall, and it doesn't get cold enough for all of the leaves to fall, but let me tell you, the rain sure does here hahaha. This week as usual has been packed with a bunch of random stuff to do. Tuesday we had our district meeting, then a division with Elder Torres from Peru, because there weren't colectivos. We ended up visiting a bunch of members for a lot of the day, and ended up giving a couple of blessings, and receiving references of people to talk to in Yby yau! It seems like everyone in Pedro Juan Caballero has family in Yby yau hahaha. Thursday we had a really good Noche de Rama (activity for everyone in the branch) set up but only the branch president's family came, so we just sat and talked with them, and drank all the soda and cookies. They left, and we were about to leave but Fm Benitez (a family with our 2 recent converts, and about 7 other people that want to get baptized) showed up super late, so we ended up playing ping pong with them for a little while.

I have been cleaning a little bit from the house every day, and even had a division a week or 2 ago where we just cleaned my house because let me tell you, the house was nasty. If you have ever helped in a service project at a hoarder's house, this is what my house looked like. Anyways, I had been getting a little discouraged a week or 2 ago because there was just so much junk. The day we had our zone conference, I was talking to Elder Brower, my MTC companion, and Hermana Evans walked up to ask him something about his house, since she had just inspected it. Y'all might think I'm crazy, but I asked for a house inspection, because there is nothing to motivate a companionship like one of those. Anyways, one of the office Elders called Friday morning to let us know President and Hermana Evans were stopping by Saturday morning. Needless to say, we continued the cleaning process, and boy oh boy did the house need it. I've been discovering plates with old stuff on them, old books black with mold, etc. I'd like to give a shout-out to Mom, Aunt Miken, Howard Howard (Mike, please show him this), and all the guys in 12m and 13m in the MTC for teaching me how to clean, because it was a task. Motivated by Hermana Evans (as President put it) 'On the Warpath,' we got the house cleaned just in time. They came at about 9 a.m, and we had the house ready. I had warned Hermana Evans about how bad the house was, but we got it spick and span, and she was shocked at how clean it was. There are 2 fridges in the house, and 1 didn't work so I hadn't cleaned it yet, among 1 or 2 other small things, and they said they would come back after District conference to view the fridge again. The rest of the day saturday was spent getting ready everything for the coinference the next day, then we played a bit of soccer with the youth. Sunday we got up at 4:30 and went to the church, and everyone gathered there. We chartered a colectivo, so we all got in and rode to Pedro Juan Caballero. After the conference we went home in the colectivo, and Elder Baez, President Centurion (branch president) and 1 of the young men served hot dogs and soda to everyone. Pouring soda into cups on a moving colectivo is not as easy as it looks hahaha. President and Hermana Evans came back to look at the stuff and it was perfect! They were so pleased; she took a picture of us and is going to put it up in the mission office because apparently not many houses here are very clean, but she gave ours 5 stars! Today for pday we got to stay in the area, which was nice. We also have transfers coming up in the next week, so I may have a new companion the next time I write!

With all that cleaning in mind, I want to share a quote from one of my fellow workers in the MTC, Paul Cloward. He always told me a line I should live by and memorize; 'I'm all about commitment.' It's a little out of context, but it's pretty important. Missions and life are all about commitment. Here we teach people a lot of stuff about the church and Jesus Christ, but it doesn't mean anything if we don't commit them to do anything about it. We can't work if we don't set goals and commit to do them. I can't get up by myself at 6:30 everyday without committing to do it. That's all good, but it's important for y'all too! Everyone in school right now can't get a project done without committing to finish and getting it done (the night before it's due of course hahaha) Reading the scriptures EVERY DAY, praying EVER DAY, going to church EVERY WEEK and all the other stuff is impossible without committing to it. I challenge you all to find something you need to work on this week, like scriptures or prayers or whatever honestly, and commit to get it done. If you want to do it, you can do it!

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Pics 1 With Elder Brower. he's doing good, learning a lot of spanish and still proud of his Idaho Potatoes
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2 With Elder Raymond. He was in my first zone, and is in Concepcion now. He is in his last transfer, and is with Elder Brower. These pictures are from last week since I couldn't send them.
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3 With Elder Villacresses from Ecuador. I had a division with him a couple of weeks ago, and he's one of our zone leaders. Also trained Elder Tesucun.
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4 In Horqueta after zone conference, waiting for a colectivo to go home I don't know the order, but there is Elder ollero from Pero, Elders Baez and Godoy from Paraguay, and Elder Da Silva from Brazil
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5 Last week, cleaning with Elder Ollero from Peru
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6 some of the junk. I didn't think to take pictures until a while after we started cleaning, so it isn't horrible
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7 one of 20 or so...
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8 Elder Ollero putting in work
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9 Brief pause for some stroganoff
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10 Back at it. We found some termites too. Fun stuff
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11 End result; we got a couple rooms looking like this
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12 Elder Ollero and I had a division in Pedro Juan the next day. We had a family home evening with their recent converts
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13 The day in Pedro Juan was my day 100 in Paraguay, so we celebrated with some pancakes
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14 We didn't have a recipe but Elder Ollero watched someone make them one time so he whipped up the batter in about 5 seconds and I cooked them
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15 perfecto
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16 100 days so we took a Wilt Chamberlain 100 picture(Maybe only Dad will recognize
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17 I found the smoke alarm while cleaning...
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18 It... uh... doesn't quite work hahaha but I called and President Evans got us a new one. Also a new broom, because the old one wore out with all the cleaning
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19 Noche de rama. Nobody else came but the food was good
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20 Clean clean clean
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21 clean.
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22 clean. we also threw out the trash on the table so it looks nicer
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23 clean.
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24 clean. (and Mom and Aunt Miken), I make my bed every day! (Left bed)
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25 Hermana Evans told us to throw the fan out. It was a little dangerous hahaha
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26 Always look for ways to serve!
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27 Our colectivo for District conference
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28 Elder Baez was a little tired after conference
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Email from Hermana Evans:  "Thanks so much for a job well done and for your patience!"

Have a great week y'all and thanks for the emails and prayers. For those with cameras, there's nothing like getting photos with the Emails!