Wow... too many things have happened in the past week and a half. Christmas was NUTS! Everyone celebrates Christmas Eve instead of Christmas, and they stay up until midnight with their barbecues and family, lighting off fireworks like there is no tomorrow. And there are some LOUD fireworks... a family invited us to spend the night to eat and have a place to be, but before the barbecue was fully finished, we had to go. We still ate some pretty good chicken though! :). I am glad to hear that the surgery went well with Michelle. She’ll be up and about in no time! She’s a tough cookie like that. I received a letter from Spencer Brown, who is now in the MTC so I’ll have to get him a letter... along with everybody else! I am so slow! SORRY!!!! And I got one from Annie too... with a cool picture! It was awesome. Hahaha. But I will be working on that. I’ll be sending pictures home soon... my computer isn’t working very well so I will have to use another one on Monday. But that is alright! :).
Christmas Saturday was awesome; I got to talk with the family! And see them. That was pretty cool. This week was changes... I was told on Monday (by our District Leader) that I was going to be training. Elder Lamb, my old companion, didn’t believe him because our District Leader had pulled a little trick a long time ago and said fake changes. I was a little unsure because he told us that I was training. But... nope! They were real! So I headed out to Asunción at midnight, December 29, our bus broke down twice, got there at 7 in the morning, studied a little, talked with the other trainers, got trained by President Callan, and then met the new missionaries. 9 came, 5 Elders and 4 Hermanas. 6 Americans and 3 Latins. I was assigned to train Elder Hatch, from Idaho Falls, who could possibly know a friend of mine from BYU (Chelsie Cook). Now that would be funny! So we rushed over to the terminal, and we missed the bus. So we waited at the terminal until 5 to take another one, got to Encarnación at midnight, and then got home! That was my birthday! Hahaha. But I celebrated it on Monday because I didn’t know if I was going to have a change, and the family LOVED LOVED LOVED the German Chocolate Cake. I told you it was the best. :). They wanted to know if I knew the recipe for the cream or the cake. I showed them the box and the can and said I cheated. Haha. But they really did love it. It was fun see their little girl go crazy with the balloons.
Tuesday we said goodbye to people, Wednesday you already know, and Thursday is today! We helped Elder Curtis pack his stuff and took him to the terminal, went back to the apartment of Elder Rodriguez, the District Leader, and we had fun talking a mix of Spanish and English. Luckily Elder Rodriguez already knows English really well, so it was more of helping the new Elders (Elder Bowns, Utah is also training, he has about 6 more months than I do) use Spanish and telling stories from the mission. That was pretty fun. And now I am here.
I am so excited to be here in Paraguay and to be teaching the people and being a representative of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I can’t believe it has been a year; that I am not a teenager anymore; and that I am finally starting to understand how to become who the Lord wants me to be. It’s pretty darn cool! :) I am still amazed at how real the Book of Mormon is. It really is a true book that brings us closer to Christ. It really is another testament of Jesus Christ. Joseph Smith was a prophet, and because of him, we have the true Church of Jesus Christ. Like I have said a million times, if you don’t know what I said is true, you can ask God. He won’t lie. I like being able to trust in Him and receive the help and answers I need. It is plain in the scriptures: The Bible and Book of Mormon, that if we have a need, or have a lack of knowledge, or have questions, we can ask God with faith, and He will respond. I can say this because I have done it. I cannot and I will not deny what I have felt to be true. Maybe some people won’t believe, or don’t want to, but I know what I am doing is the Lord’s work. I know that there is one true church that teaches the true doctrine of Jesus Christ. I know there is a prophet of God here on the Earth, who is Thomas Monson. Every single person can know this is true, and all they have to do is… do their part and ask our Heavenly Father. Ya está! :)
Well, that’s time. I love you all! Take care of yourselves! I love you! Have a great New Year and I hope that you had a great Christmas!
Wow... the time keeps flying by. I can’t believe that it is almost Christmas already. It certainly doesn’t feel like it... hahaha. We have been getting a LOT of rain lately too, which is really unusual for December in Paraguay. It NEVER rains, but we had had 3 weekends of rain, rain, rain, and this past weekend was the first without rain. That is pretty awesome that you are getting rain... it hardly ever rains back home. Haha. But I am sure the plants are loving it at least. Hehe. Really? Was President Murri before President Udall? That would be pretty awesome to chat with him if I got the chance afterward. :) (The Mission President in Ventura used to be the Temple President in Asuncion, Paraguay).
Well, this week. We had a special Christmas Meeting, but it was really like just another Zone Conference. With lots of Christmas touches... haha. I’m not complaining because I love the chance to listen and learn from my mission president. We really focused on setting goals and how our goals help us to achieve what the Lord wants. We talked about ... rendir cuentas... ummm, reporting back?... on our missionary work and how it helps us to grow and do more of what the Lord wants for us and for all of His children. We talked about making inspired goals and plans, all that starts with a prayer. Prayer, really, is so important! It’s a wonderful chance to talk with our Heavenly Father and receive inspiration. We have to make the efforts to make specific plans and then confirm them with our Heavenly Father. He wants us to be agents for ourselves, instead of waiting for an answer and sitting on our heels, He wants us to act, use our thinking, and then ask him if what we are thinking of doing is right. By showing our faith and our willingness to act, we can receive an answer from our Heavenly Father. On another note, I was reading in the Book of Mormon this morning in Alma. He was writing a letter to one of his sons and talking about the commandments of God. Many times we think there is a grey area in between what is good and what is a sin. He tells us that the commandments of God are strict, not flexible, and a little later he commands his son to keep the commandments AS they are written. If I translated that in my head right. Alma 37:13 and 20. For example, Jesus taught that before a man who committed adultery was punished, but in reality a man who even looks to lust, or looks at women with the wrong intentions, or the intentions of committing sins, he is sinning all the same. I can’t express that right in English but I hope that comes across alright. That doesn’t mean we can sit there and think about bad things we can do, be it stealing, killing, whatever it is, it’s not just the 10 commandments but what Christ has taught us also. James 4:17 says that if someone knows what is right, but doesn’t do it, it is a sin. The bible really tells us the things that we should do, along with the Book of Mormon. Like a prophet says, the words of Christ will guide us in all things. We just gotta do it! It ain’t that hard! It’s right there in front of us. We don’t have to be perfect right away, but please make a commitment to do something better every day. You’d be surprised how something is a little better every day, for one month, is 30 things better. One year? 365 things better. It could be something simple as a smile to someone in the street, to reading a verse out of the scriptures, to say one more prayer, to say thanks to somebody... there are thousands of things. You’ll know what to do. :)
Well I am out of time. I really love you all! Remember the true meaning of Christmas. We worship our Savior’s birth. Take the time to read a little bit out of Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John about our Lord and Savior’s birth and life. Take the time to put yourself in the shoes of a bystander there, one of the Savior’s disciples. Take the time to think, to study and to apply it to your life. The scriptures really come to life. You’ll be surprised. Be happy! This is the time of year to help other people, as it is with every day of our lives. Take care of yourselves! LES AMO!!!
Wow... time flies and then it’s gone. It’s hard to believe that the year is almost gone. I am so excited to hear that life is going great for y’all! Life is great if you are busy! :D
This week was interesting! Monday was Pday... we wandered around the zoological park that we live in... There aren’t any signs and its a little weird following the paths deeper and deeper into the jungle. We did find a few animals; even saw an iguana about 3 feet long before it disappeared in the foliage. The pictures I have are alright, but maybe we will go back so I can take some new pictures. Oh the white headed turkey things are everywhere here... nobody knows their name either. They just call them gallinetas, or a form of gallina, chicken. I don’t know! Haha.
Tuesday was pretty awesome, we had a district meeting with the zone leaders and we talked about our potential as missionaries and what the Lord expects of us. I really like a phrase from it... Desde ahora – or from right now. The Lord doesn’t expect us to be perfect, but he does want us to repent and change. For example, if we aren’t living the law of tithing, He doesn’t expect us to pay everything that we gained in our lives, but from the moment we realize the importance and decide to start living the law. From when were obedient? When did we start going to church? When did we start reading the scriptures? When did we start doing family home evening? From now on. We can have a determination to make a change in our lives and the Lord will help us do it. I promise. :). The rest of the day was divisions, where I was with Elder Rodriguez from Arequipa Peru (He knows Hermano Clarke, my other MTC teacher) and we did WORK! He still doesn’t know his area really well, but that didn’t stop us from finding the family we were looking for and teaching! The cousin of the husband was visiting, and visits a lot, so we taught her about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We asked her, if you knew this was true, when would you be baptized? The soonest I could. PURETE! How awesome! We visited later with another family, only the husband was there, who they teach, and we taught the Word of Wisdom, and taught about Desde Ahora, or from now on, and how he can be the example in his family. Yeah! We also invited him to be baptized the 1 of January. How about this for a baptismal date? 1/1/2011. The start of a brand new year with a brand new life. LOVE IT! :D. Anyway, divisions carried over to Wednesday where I went back to my area and we taught some recent converts.
Thursday we decided to explore a part of our area that we don’t know, Conavi, found a couple of families there to teach. Awesome! A recent convert family left to go teach with us... but nobody was home............................................... MURPHY’S LAW! Ughh. Just my luck. Hahaha. We found some less actives who were baptized about a year and a half ago and invited them to church. Friday we taught a family that is getting ready to be baptized, the husband told us he’d be ready the 2011... Saturday was good, we stumbled over the house of a member that we had no idea who lived there. We always passed his house and never knew it. Oops! Sunday was good, but again hardly anyone was home. But it has been a really weird December here... storms that begin every Friday and last until Monday... it’s happened for the past 3 weeks. Usually it never rains in December and it’s HOT HOT HOT! It’s quite an experience to be in a storm here... :)… We’ll just leave it at that. Haha.
Anyway, I am out of time. I love you all! Take care of yourselves! CHAUCITO!
How are you all? Doing great? I hope so!! It’s so great to hear from you! Gospel Doctrine teacher! (Gina is now our Gospel Doctrine Instructor in church) Woo hoo! What an opportunity to learn! I am sure that you will love it and learn a ton!
Well... what’s new? Today we went exploring in the Zoo Park where we live... it wasn’t very well marked and we almost got lost in the back of the park because it’s all woods and dirt tracks that leads off to who knows where. There are a lot of pathways like that here in Paraguay. I’ve no idea where they lead to... we’ve even taken the chance to explore and check them out, but we only found small little fields in the middle of the jungle. What can I say? We tried! Hahaha. Eventually we found the road leading to the area we wanted to go. That’s what counts.
The work is coming along just fine. We have a family that is preparing to be baptized on the 18th, but right now we are helping them to find the answers to their questions and doubts, so that they know what the Lord wants them to do. We were going to have a baptism this week of a couple, but the girlfriend still hasn’t been able to get her birth certificate from the State. Her parents never had her recognized by the State so it’s like she doesn’t exist. We all know how the government works, but we are helping them to know how to find the way to be baptized and how to get the help from the Lord that they need. Something we have really been working hard to do is teach our investigators how to find answers for themselves through prayer and the scriptures. It’s one thing to believe what we say as missionaries, but it’s entirely different when they know they can receive an answer for themselves from our Heavenly Father. It helps them have the confidence that they can get the help they need from their own efforts. It is something that I have learned a lot about here in the mission field and about the purpose of life. We shouldn’t be little blind mice running through the maze trying to find the cheese. We shouldn’t be the donkey that has to be led by the rope. We need to learn how to make choices for ourselves. We need to learn how to get the help we need by the efforts we make. We don’t know everything, we never will, but our Heavenly Father wants to help us. But He also knows what is best for us. Sometimes He lets us struggle until we are humble enough to ask for His help. Sometimes He doesn’t answer a prayer in the way we want because it won’t help us in the long run. Sometimes He waits for us to make a decision and ask if the decision we have made is right. We will never learn if we never try. It’s impossible. It’s like a child. We can give them the answers to all of their homework, but when it comes to the test, what do they know? We might know the answers, but we know that they need to learn for themselves. They need to find the way to have success. Our Heavenly Father won’t rob us of the chance to learn and grow. That is our purpose. To learn, grow, and prepare for the day when we will appear before Him and account for what we have done. If we want to be stress free, tranquil and happy in that day that undoubtedly will come, the answers are there. What we need to do is make the effort. We need to read the scriptures. We need to know if they are true. We need to know if the Church of Jesus Christ was lost after His death and resurrection. We need to know if Joseph Smith was a prophet, and that through him, the Church of Jesus Christ was brought again to the Earth. We need to know if Thomas Monson indeed is a prophet of God. Why do we need to know this? Why are there so many churches? Why are there so many ways of interpreting the Bible? Why are there hard times in our lives? The answers are there. We just need to make the effort to find them. We need to have the faith in a loving Heavenly Father that He will guide us to the truth. That is how we will find the peace and happiness in life. It isn’t money. It isn’t fame. It is living the commandments of God and knowing that He is blessing us because we are doing what He has asked us to do. As missionaries we always invite people to pray and ask God, our Eternal Father, in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, that what we teach is true. It isn’t just for people who aren’t Mormon. It is to everyone. Everyone can get an answer for themselves. I promise that if we make the effort, we will learn, grow, and know for ourselves really what God wants us to do.
Well, I am out of time. I love you all! Take care of yourselves! CHAUCITO!!!