Monday, March 29, 2010

It's almost April!


Woo hoo! I am excited! Today´s e-mail won´t be so long. I took too much time reading!! Haha. But it was really really nice to read both of your emails combined. Makes it easier for me to read and reply.

First off, I want to thank Aunt Wendy Gifford, Wendy Bentley, Amy McGreevey, and Michelle Olson (yes, I got your DE and your letter!) for sending me letters. They were fun to read! I will work on writing back... letters take a long time to write and send! Probably I will finish by next Monday, and send them off with a letter to you to forward. Much easier. And I like the pouch service idea, but I need to ask my Mission President how to use it… Or one of the assistants. But it sounds much better.

I´d also like to share a part of my testimony. Lately, I´ve really been developing charity, especially for everyone who has helped me! I tried giving a prayer of thanks for everyone, but after half an hour, I don´t think I covered half of the people I could think of, and as the week moved on I realized more people I could be grateful for. It really is amazing how people can influence your life, even in the smallest of ways. So, I want you to know that I truly do love you all, and I really wish I could tell each one of you personally. At BYU, Piru, Fillmore, Illinois, Washington, Utah, Cali, Hawaii... Even back in the good ol´ days of Burbank! That would be a good life goal to make. :). But as to my testimony... I know that Jesus is the Christ. That as we share the Gospel as restored through Joseph Smith and his translation of The Book of Mormon: ANOTHER TESTAMENT OF JESUS CHRIST, we really can become more Christ like in love, charity, patience, hope, diligence. In everything we do. The Book of Mormon really can answer questions of the soul. I have watched our investigators either listen to parts of the Book of Mormon, if they couldn´t read, or read it themselves, come to know how much the Book of Mormon can help them. We have living prophets on the Earth who testify of Jesus Christ - just like the prophets of the Old Testament and the Apostles of the New. Through the Book of Mormon, we can gain a fuller understanding of the Bible! The Bible and the Book of Mormon both are words and teachings of Jesus Christ - just written in different parts of the world. Joseph Smith did see God the Father and Jesus Christ - as two distinct and separate beings. I would add my testimony to Nephi´s of the Book of Mormon, believe that we need to repent. Believe in Jesus Christ. Have faith in Christ. Act on that faith. Show that faith through a change of your heart. Show that faith through your daily actions. Show that faith through repentance. Repentance gives us the chance to become more like our Savior. Repentance is possible through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Through that, we can be cleansed from sin. Through Baptism, by the proper authority and power, we can be cleansed of our sins. Follow the example of Jesus. He was baptized to fulfill all righteousness. He was perfect, we are not. How much more do we need to be baptized, being unholy!! He fulfilled all of the commandments of His Father, just like we need to. When we are baptized, we qualify for the gift of the Holy Ghost. Through His influence, we can avoid wrong and choose right - we can know the truth of all things. I know that prayer is a two way communication with God. He wants to listen - and He does! He will answer! Through the power of the Holy Ghost, we can feel His love for us. We can feel ´peace as a river´, comfort, love, just to name a few. With the gift of the Holy Ghost, we can have that all of time!! We can have guidance in our life, in everything we do. And that is not all - we must persevere until the end!! Read 1 Nephi 31:19-20. After that gate of baptism, we must press forward with a steadfastness of Christ. I know this to be true. I testify that God loves us. He is there. He is happy when we are righteous, and disappointed when we make mistakes, just like any father in this life would be with his children, only with a more perfect love and knowledge of what and how our actions affect our life. Affect the lives of others. I testify that Jesus is His Son, the Only Begotten of God the Father. That is how Jesus could be perfect and perform the Atonement in order to take upon Himself our sins, pains, sicknesses. That is why repentance helps! Jesus knows our every pain! He knows perfectly how, what, and why to help us. We just need to faith! We just need to act on that faith. James, the apostle, tells us that faith without works is dead. Believe that. Believe that we have hope to become better in this life. Hope for a better tomorrow - and then do whatever you can to have a better tomorrow! He will make up the rest of what we cannot accomplish on our own. Man in himself is nothing, with Christ he is everything. That is why this is important. Families are ordained of God. Through families, we learn. We grow. We understand right and wrong. We have a support system. Develop the love of your family. Family is everything. What´s the saying? Family, God, Country? No... Duty, God, Country. Something like that. But part of duty is to have a loving family. Through families, children can grow with love and happiness in their life. I know these things to be true. You can too. Pray to the Father, in the name of Jesus Christ. Pray with a sincere heart. Be willing to act on an answer. He may not answer right away, but He will. Through a small feeling or thought - one that we must search for. I promise you that this is true.

Whew! That was a lot. But I really do mean each and every word! Seriously.

Now – to answer some questions: Any store I would buy something from would be the Supermarket. And it probably has everything. I just need to find it. Except Peanut Butter. They don´t have that in Paraguay. Only on the black market in Ciudad del Este.  I miss it already! Oh!!! Please send photos with the next item from the states. The people here LOVE pictures. Any pictures - family, landscape, friends! I miss having pictures, so that´ll help me too! :) Thanks!

My companion, Elder Beramendi is from Jujuy, Argentina. It´s by Chile and Bolivia.

Two more minutes. I love you guys. Please share my love and appreciation! I may miss my family, and my really good friends from home and the Y, but I have been blessed in so many ways! I hope to be able to share my blessings with them when I come home and through these letters! I hope everything is going great! Take care of yourself! I can´t wait for the treats!!

Con amor!

Elder David Watson

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Three Pirus and One Santa Paula

Hola Familia,

People live their life here so differently - even the poor people have TV´s… It seems like it´s one of their first priorities so they can watch futbol. But it´s really common for them to be sitting in conversation, relaxing with some yerba mate or tereré. Almost anyone will let you in to talk about the gospel, but aren´t always willing to do anything about what we teach. Understandable, and that´s why we have our agency. My literal area is almost completely rural. Some parts are like Piru, except the roads are cobblestone like, but with just random rocks. There aren´t any sidewalks... so you just have to watch out for the Motos, horse and ox carts. Hahaha...

I am in Branch 2 in Caáguazú. There are, technically, about 800 members, but at church on Sunday, we had 50. So... ya... lots of work to do. We had 8 investigators at church, so that was a really good thing. Really good. If Google Earth has the local names, I have Ciudad Nueva out past Primero Mayo, and way far off to the north. Ours is the second biggest area, just slightly smaller than Branch 3. Just slightly. Mostly we work with Constitution and Ciudad Nueva. Sometimes we head out to Triunfo. All the rest of the areas are difficult to get the investigators to come to church, or to even teach, so we use our time as best we can in Constitución or Ciudad Nueva. And yeah... these red dirt roads become a mess when it rains. Really bad. One of the reasons our work is really hampered when it rains. And whoever told me to keep a white shirt in a bag my whole mission was so right.... I don´t know if I´ll be coming home with too many white shirts... they´ll probably be red.

My feet are doing great. Surprisingly, your shoes [Dave took a pair of Cliff’s old uniform shoes that had thick rubber soles on them] are doing much better than the Rockport’s, as in handling the work load. Not as comfortable, but they are some pretty good shoes. The boots are doing the best so far though. Imagine that. You should be getting an official picture from President Callan. He might be sending it snail mail, but I´m not sure.

My Church Building is tiny. It could almost fit in our Chapel... I´m pretty sure. We do have a baptismal font though, so that is nice. The whole floor is tiled... makes it easier to clean. My area itself is rural, small townish. Not rural to the point of fields in between. Think 3 Piru´s. One for Ciudad Nueva, one for Constitution, one for Triunfo. Triunfo is the smallest. Another area that we work in is Familia Unidas, which is the poorest part, and that is more rural. But it´s great working with the people. Lots and lots and lots of trees, as hopefully you´ll be able to see in the pictures. Not too many hills, but there are a few mountains, if you can see through all of the trees. I´m sleeping alright. Lately I´ve been waking up about 5ish for some reason, but I don´t know why. It´s alright though. The food is good. The best has been Sopa Paraguayo, and the weirdest, hot dogs made of horse and donkey meat. There is this stuff called manioca, which is a type of plant, and that is interesting too. Breakfast is cereal, and lunch is usually pasta with some meat. It´s good. My apartment is alright. It´s small, and kind of hard to keep clean. Our landlady is an inactive member, and two other elders live across from us. We don´t do any proselyting anywhere near our house, mostly because it´s not our area and we are walking quickly to one of our appointments. I´ve never seen any neighbors, but pretty much anyone will say ´adios´ if you say it to them. Pretty friendly. The mission office is a 3 hour bus ride from our apt. There are 8 in our district, 3 from Cali (Diamond Bar, Sacramento, y yo), 3 from Argentina, 1 from Peru, 1 from the US, not sure where though. Zone conference is every 6 weeks, I think, and the next is in April. We have that in Ciudad del Este. P day is personal, companion and language study, grocery shopping, emails. This morning we cleaned, which was good too. Other than that, we write letters or try to relax and stop sweating. We haven´t done any service yet... so I don´t know. Still trying to learn.

Thank you for all the information. I love you guys so much. Thanks for all of your hard work, love, and support. I could never have gotten here if it wasn’t for my parents. I want to make sure I can sneak a reply back to Mike´s e-mail. Love you tons. Take care of yourself.

Con amor,

Elder David Watson

Monday, March 15, 2010

Update 3/15/2010 - Soaked to the Bone! (hint - read Mike's first)

Hey Mom!

Yeah - me too! I´m glad to be out here. The language isn´t daunting - it´s just learning to understand how the Paraguayos speak Spanish. All of the Latino missionaries keep telling me not to worry about it. They mix in Guarani here and there. They can understand because they´ve been listening to Spanish their whole lives, so all they have to do is figure out the Guarani parts. ¡Qué suerte! I´m starting to be able to understand more and more... just real slowly. I´ve been told it´ll probably take another week or 2 to start understanding more... and a few months to understand everything. It´s good that I can catch the theme of what´s going on, but my companion is really good at leading me on so I know what to talk about when it´s my turn. He had an American newbie for his last companion, so he´s done this before. I keep writing Guarani phrases in my little blue notebook. One of our investigator families asked me what Guarani I knew, so I rattled of a few phrases out of the notebook and they just started laughing and laughing. My companion says that´s a good thing because it builds a little bit of trust. I´m excited to just be here and going!

Good luck finding a Paraguayan restaurant... I don´t think you´ll be able to find too many. Almost all of the Paraguayans are poor... and it doesn´t help that the economy is all out of whack. I bought food for a week and it was only like 9 American dollars. Pretty insane. Oh man... when it rains here, it pours. We got caught walking to one of our areas called Constitution, which is about a 45/60 minute walk depending on what part. Elder Beramundi and I got soaked to the bone. I think I still might have water in me... haha. We got lucky yesterday, when it started to rain we were near a recent convert´s house and she let us in. When it rains, almost no one will let you in - even if they are members. That´s just how they are. Anyway, when it rains, it kinda messes everything up for us. We can´t teach any of our investigators, and if it rains Saturday night or Sunday morning, nobody comes to church. Nobody. Normally we have about 60 or 70 members come, but only like 25 or so showed up. All the roads in our official area are dirt, so it makes sense to not come to church when your road is a river. We actually live outside our area, about a half an hour walk to actually get there. It makes things interesting... and a lot of walking. I already have a few blisters, but they don´t hurt much so it´s easy to ignore. The heat actually isn´t really hard to work in, it´s just that I have to have my water bottle with me and always be drinking. December and February are the worst months here, so it´ll be hard then. But I´ll have been here for almost a year, so I´ll be ready to handle it. I hope. But it looks like I will be here in Ca´aguazu for at least 4.5 months, 3 as a newbie, and 1.5 to get another missionary known to the area. Lots of walking!! :).

We kind of have to restart our work that we did last week, so we need to work hard in order to catch up. The rain really put us back. But we´ll get to work and start having fun!

Hope things are going great! Take care!!

Con amor

Elder David Watson

Thursday, March 11, 2010

David's First Area & Companion - Ca´aguazu / Elder Beramendi


I am trying to get used to using a Spanish Keyboard... it´s not working out so well. Ha. But anyways, I love it here in Paraguay. I am learning a lot. I got to my area around fourish yesterday, Wednesday. Elder Beramundi is my trainer, and he is from Northern Argentina. He only speaks Spanish, but he is learning English. It makes me have to use Spanish, which is REALLY good. I need to. I am still trying to get used to the Paraguayan´s Spanish down here. It is very different than the Spanish back home. I´m not used to listening to Spanish all day long. My area is Ca´aguazu, which is mostly made up of Guarani speakers who know Spanish and is a 3 hour bus ride from Asunción. We taught 5 or 6 lessons yesterday, 3 were with progressing investigators, who Elder Beramundi committed to baptismal dates and the rest were members, but Elder Beramundi taught for most of the time and handed it to me to testify or to teach a small part of the lesson. Very understandable since I am the local Gringo, and probably the tallest for miles. It´s hard to believe. We had a lunch appointment with one of the members today, the food was good. Paraguayans hardly ever talk while eating and the women don´t normally eat with the men, unless it is Saturday or Sunday; at least that´s what I picked up so far. I´ll have to make more sense of it later.

Today we only have one lesson to teach since it´s an off p day and really odd schedule, but I am excited to go. We are going to see if she is ready to set up a baptismal date. I can´t wait to start understanding more so I can help out my companion and get to know the people better. There´s definitely a language block, but I am working really hard on understanding and practicing. Sunday should be fun too, since their meetings will be in Guarani. I´m excited for that. Oh. I handed out my Guarani Book of Mormon on the flight to Asunción. It was so cool to give it to him. I´m excited. I love the people down here. They are so nice and awesome. I can´t wait to be able to get to know the people better.

So, like I said, I love it here. It´s so cool. Hot, really, and humid, but so cool. There are so many trees and jungle areas. It´s actually kinda fun to walk on the cobblestone streets and red dirt roads. It´s definitely the other side of the world, I can guarantee that. I can only send emails to family, so if I get any letters, it might take a while to get them back.

Traffic here is pretty crazy. Think LA traffic with no rules, except for stop lights. It´s a pretty wild ride. There are a lot of motorcycles here... lots. Out here in the country, it´s the main way people get around. To school, work, everything. Asunción reminded me of parts of Downtown LA, except brighter and a lot more green. Trees are everywhere. Pretty much anything you stick in the ground will grow. And the orange juice here is AMAZING. I´d have to do a side by side test to see if Cali OJ or Paraguay OJ is better. All of the other fruits are amazing that I´ve tried so far. Can´t wait to try more.

Well, I don´t know what else to say but that I love you guys. My exclamation point isn´t working, so it might seem like I am a little unanimated. I love you guys and I want the best for y´all. I hope everything is going great. Take care of yourselves.

Con mucho amor,

Elder David Watson

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Elder David Watson is in Paraguay!

We were able to speak with Elder Watson yesterday while he had his layover at the Miami, FL airport. It was wonderful to hear his voice and how excited he is to enter the mission field and start teaching. In addition, I was able to speak with him for a short while (5 mins or so) from the Salt Lake City airport so we could discuss his plans for calling home while his mother was home.

As part of his trip, a couple of things we noticed were, that he left the Salt Lake City airport about 4 hours before Mike and left Dallas about 15 minutes before Mike arrived in Miami. They both called us at the same time, so we had to shuffle the calls around so we had one on each phone (I called back the payphone in the Miami airport). In addition, they both left about the same time for Argentina but Dave arrived about an hour earlier than Mike. We don't know if they were able to greet each other in Buenos Aires because Dave said he had to get to another terminal right away or he would miss his flight (even though his layover was about two hours).

This afternoon we received an email from Elder Watson that he arrived safely and that he was on his way out to start contacting and teaching. We are very excited for him. We will post his first letter home when he writes us on his P-Day.