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!


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!


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!


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!


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!


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!