Friday, March 18, 2016

Villa Elisa: July 17, 2000

Che familia [tr: My family],

This week's been really different.  There were a lot of different stuffs we did this week that we normally don't do.  For example, this week would have been Zone Conference week, but Elder Allred of the Second Quorum of the Seventy came and we held a special conference thingy with him, instead.  We also had a fireside.  I took notes, so I'll tell you about them in a little bit.  I've got a letter to respond to first.  Yeah.  It was dated, um… hold on a second… June 30.

Yesterday we went to Phoenix to the airport and met Dallan [ed: my cousin who was serving a mission in Argentinacoming off the plane!
Whoa.  Dallan's home.  That is so weird.  Has he really been gone two whole years?  No lo creo. [tr: I don't believe it.]  I mean, I don't believe it.  Of course, I also can't believe that bump day is in only two weeks (bump day is the six-month mark).  Time flies.

He says there is very little hot food… in Argentina.
Same here.  I don't think I've ever had anything spicy hot here.

He said there is quite a difference in dialects between Paraguay and Argentina.  In Paraguay, you guys clip your words in a way they don't in Argentina or Chili.
First off, "chili" is a food.  "Chile" is the country.  [ed: always a wise guy…  never did grow out of that…]  And yeah, there are differences.  I have noticed that we Paraguayans clip words.  I say "we Paraguayans" because I've picked it up.  Another difference is the letter "y".  In Argentina, it has a "sh" sound, but here is a "j" sound.  I don't have that yet, but I will.  Also, over there the "ll" is a "sh" sound, whereas it's a "y" sound here.  Ask Dallan how to say "Villa Elisa."  He'll probably tell you "Visha Elisa."  I'll tell you "Viya Elisa."

They want to party tonight!  Dallan wants "empanadas."
Party!  Party!  Oh, wait.  I'm a missionary.  No party for me.  Nuts. :S  Empanadas are big here, too.  Yum, yum.  I have eaten them with beef, chicken, and ham and cheese.  They don't do apple pie filling around here.  At least, I've never had it.  Maybe in Encarnación.  That's right across the river from Argentina.  Who knows?  Not me.

He has a whole recipe book!
That's a good idea!  I'll have to start asking for recipes.  Apparently, I don't need to get empanadas, eh?  Let's see... there's guiso con arroz [tr: stew with rice] or con fideos [tr: with noodles].  There's chicken… ooo… chicken… Oh, yeah.  "Guiso" is stew, "arroz" is rice, and "fideos" are noodles.  I'm definitely going to look into it.

…beautiful tooled leather cover for his Spanish hymnal.
Yeah, a lot of missionaries here have things like that.  I'm going to look into getting covers for my Spanish scriptures.  Elder Martin just got a pair of really, really nice… uh, leather things.  They have the Oakland temple on them.  Very nice.  And they were only 100 mil [tr: thousand (as in, guaranies, the Paraguayan currency], which is about $35.  I'll get at least one of those, too, but with the Mesa temple.

Dallan has lots of ideas of how to get inside a house.
I've got a good one that never fails.  "Hi!  How ya doin'?  We were just going by to drink some tereré [tr: traditional herbal drink, preferably consumed in company] with you!  Would you like to?"  I've always been let in.  Plus, they use their yerba [tr: herb], their guampa [tr: tereré cup], their bombilla [tr: metal straw for drinking tereré].  All I do is drink.  It's really, really sneaky.

Do Paraguayans use hand signs to convey things?
A couple.  Thumbs-up is for anything good–good job, I'm feeling good, it works fine.  Waving only the index finger means no, or "I don't think so."  There's a different sign for "come here" here than in the States, but ask Dallan to show you, because I don't know how to describe it.  As for others, I haven't found any yet.  Or, at least, I can't think of any.

Boil angel hair pasta and add beef bullion for the soup.
Good idea, but I don't know if I can find beef bullion or not.  That's okay, though.  Noodles are big here, so that's not a problem.  Plus, I can go to the store and get little boxes of tomato sauce.  Also there are packages of cream soups that work great over pasta.  Ever tried pasta with ham and pea sauce?  It's pretty good.  I also added a bit of really ham and some peas, too.  I found a sauce the other day that, with a little bit of cheese, is just like alfredo sauce.  Yum!

PS-Re: your nickname, "short rooster."
No comment. :S

All righty.  I also got some notes from weird people who I think are related to me, but I don't have anything to say to them. :D  I'm going to talk about my week now.

Tuesday wasn't very nice to me.  It rained, but it wasn't a nice, friendly rain.  It was a freezing rain.  I ate my lunch outside, too.  Brr…  Other than that, Tuesday wasn't very special.

Wednesday wasn't either, until 7:30pm.  That was the fireside with Elder Allred.  Here's some of the neat-o stuff I learned:

First off, the fireside was geared toward investigators.  Sister Allred told us that the most important thing in this life is to come closer to the Lord.  She also said that the church leaders are always happy.  Why?  Because they know who we are, where we came from, why we're here, and where we're going (the plan of salvation).  Also, because they are dedicated to service, both of other people and of the Lord.  When we serve others, we are following the example of Christ (great though, eh?).

Elder Allred spoke about the Book of Mormon.  He started off by relating the story of the First Vision.  Then, he pointed out the three things that Joseph Smith learned: that the Lord knows each of us by name, that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have tangible bodies, and that none of the existing churches were true.  Then, he talked about the fact that the Book of Mormon contains the fulness of the gospel, and that he also had to find out for himself that it is true.  He said that the Book of Mormon is the only book that testifies of itself (Moroni 10:3-5).  He tried it (it = the promise in Moroni–read, ponder, pray) and heard a voice saying, "Richard, the Book of Mormon is true."  Wow.  Then, he mentioned sharing this knowledge.  He said that he wants to share it with everyone.  As do I.  And then came the absolute best part of the whole fireside.  He said, "Ustedes tendran un templo adentro de un ano."  That's "You will have a temple within a year."  Yes!  That was very awesome good to hear.  I got of of these when he said that: :))).  Yeah, really.  It was quite incredible to hear.

Thursday was our special conference with Elder Allred.  It replaced our regular monthly Zone Conference.  Here's some of the neat-o things I learned.  Thing #1: the subject of the conference was "The Spirit of Missionary Work."

Hermana Cheney [tr: Sister Cheney] was first.  I only wrote down two lines of stuff.  A scripture reference and the name of a sheet.  Why is that?  Because I was too busy translating for a Paraguayan stake missionary.  That was hard.  I did okay, but there was a lot of things I missed.

President Cheney was next.  He stressed prayer.  He asked us what was the blessing we all want.  Baptisms, of course.  Then, we need to pray for them.  If we want a blessing, we pray for it.  In his own (translated) words, "How can we have this blessing without asking the Lord for it?"  Good question.  The last thing I wrote is this: "How can we have more baptisms?" "I'm going to answer your question with one word: prayer."

Sister Allred spoke about our examples to the others.  She also talked about D&C 16:6 (go look it up).  Got it?  Okay.  Read it.  Her point here was also the families of these souls.  Their descendents.  She pulled out Alma 24:14.  Read it, too.  Then, she asked this question: Who are the angels?  And answered it: The missionaries.  It still brings tears to my eyes.  She closed with "Although it is difficult at times, keep going because it is worth it."

Elder Allred talked for about an hour and a half.  And it was incredible.  He didn't have any notes whatsoever-not even for his scripture references.  I took two full pages of notes.  I'll try to do him justice.  Wish me luck.

He said that Adam taught his children in the same way we teach.  Cool thought.  Then, he said that everything the Lord does is with a purpose to bring everyone back to him, and also that the purpose of the church is the same.  Later on, he said something that was incredibly powerful: Until they pay their tithing, the Paraguayan people are condemned to poverty.  Wow.  We have the authority and the responsibility to teach the people.  And we must do it, because the Lord will never bless a lazy missionary.  Never.  By exercising faith and keeping the commandments, I have the right (not the privilege–the right) to be guided by the Spirit.  Along the same lines, if I want blessings, I have to obey all the rules.  Every one of them.  I have this next part written down: I have consecrated my time to the Lord.  It is not my time.  Yes.  I really feel that way.

Wipe your eyes, Mom. :P  Okay.  All better?  Good.

Elder Allred then commented that the mission is not a sacrifice.  It is a blessing.  Once again, he spoke my thoughts.  I have not lost anything.  I'm gaining everything.  he then said that we have to be willing to anything and everything to build the kingdom of God, and to testify of Christ wherever we are.  Another rather interesting point he made was regarding the book of Moroni.  That book was written after the destruction of the Nephites.  They never saw it.  It was written for us.  Doodley doodley doo.  Then, he asked what the point of everything in the conference was.  And answered thusly: to have the Spirit with us.

We closed singing hymn #84, "Dulce Tu obra es" or "Sweet is the Work."  I wouldn't bring this up except for the first line of the third verse, which reads, "Mi corazón es tuyo hoy."  That means "My heart is yours today."  It was quite touching.

I don't remember doing anything else on Thursday.  But on Friday… two big things happened.  First, I completed my charlas [tr: discussions].  That's the weird paper enclosed.  Second, I had my interview with President Cheney.  That guy is so awesome.  I love him.

Saturday was just sort of there.  Nothing really neat-o happened.  In fact, I don't remember anything.  Oh, well.

Sunday had some neat stuff.  We got three members to start working on their friends and relatives to help us out with references.  We also had a charla two with a guy named Pablo.  He accepted baptism!  That was just so awesome!  I haven't had anybody do that in a while.  Then, later, we gave the first new member charla to the family I baptized last month.

Okay.  So that's my week.  I'm getting bored of writing to you now.  I've been going at it since about noon.  It's 2:30pm now.  I'm going now.  Bye bye!

Love you!


PS  Oops.  Almost forgot.  Paraguayan Peek: Talking and hand gestures.  See spot I already wrote.  (Yeah, I'm lazy :D )

Okay. The dates in green were the goals that I set when I committed myself. The dates in black are the actual dates that I completed the charlas. I'm not too happy with Charla Five, but I'm pleased with how I did with Charla Six. I've decided to do this three more times during the mission–each six month mark. So, expect getting more of these records.

Villa Elisa: July 11, 2000

My Simper Family,

Well, this letter is probably going to be a little short.  It's Tuesday morning, and I have to leave in twenty to thirty minutes.  I know.  I'm a bad boy.  Somebody should spank me.  It's too bad everyone around here is too little to do it! :D

I received an email this week dated June 19.  Hmm…  That's a little late, isn't it?  Oh, well.  Anyway…

Have you gotten any of the packages I've sent you?
I've gotten two.  I heard tell that you sent three.  Hopefully, I'll get that one today.

Your new companion sounds great--another answered prayer!!
Yeah, he was.  So great that President Cheney took him away from me.  Elder Erickson is the new mission secretary.  Oh, well.  I'm doing just fine with Elder Martin.  Everything is just fine.

No one picks on me any more.
Sarah said this one.  I have just one piece of advice.  Get over it and go out and find some boys to pick on. :)  It's much more enjoyable to do the picking-on than to be the one picked on.  So… go out and get 'em!

Okay.  That's that.  Quick change.  This week was really slow.  It rained pretty hard, plus Elder Martin was sick.  As a result, we didn't get much done.  I'll see what I can do, though.

Tuesday: Nothing special happened.

Wednesday: We bought a map of Villa Elisa.  It's a nice map, too.

Thursday: Nothing again.

Friday: Surprise.  Nothing.

Saturday: We didn't do anything.  Elder Martin was in bed all day long.  I got quite a bit of personal study in, though.  I can't remember what I studied, though.  Is that a bad thing?

Sunday: We had a family all lined up to go to church.  A big family.  Two parents and ten kids.  Yes.  I said ten kids.  The oldest is only thirteen.  Anyway, they didn't go to church because the mom had a stomach ache.  Sigh.  Other than that, nothing.

Monday: Okay. This is it.  Monday.  I got a haircut.  Then we went grocery shopping.  We we got back, we started cleaning.  That stove was disgusting.  It's a lot better now.  It's amazing what a ball of steel wire, some elbow grease, and no respect for the paint can do.  Anyway, cleaning took a lot of time.  We had to go out soon after that, even though all we did was drop our laundry off.  We were actually out 'til 8:30, but we didn't do anything.  That's why I'm writing today.

Anyway, I've got to get going.  Sorry for the letter.  It's really true, though.  We did a lot of nothing this week.  We tried to do stuff, but no one would let us.  Hopefully, this week will be better.  We'll see.

Love you!


Friday, September 25, 2015

Villa Elisa: July 3, 2000

¡Hola, familia!

I have some interesting news.  I escaped transfers, but my comp didn't.  Yup.  Elder Erickson is gone.  Why?  It seems that President Cheney felt that he needed Elder Erickson more than poor, little me.  Elder Erickson is the new mission secretary.  My new comp is Elder Martin.  He's from Fremont, California.  He's going to die here in Villa Elisa [ed: Meaning that he will finish his mission in Villa Elisa, not that he will actually die].  He's got three months left.

Other than that, I don't really have any special news.  I didn't get a letter—no, not one—this week, so I don't think this letter will be very long.  There really isn't much to say.  I'll say it anyway.  Here goes:

Tuesday.  Zone Meeting.  They didn't have the transfers yet.  Arg.  The zone leaders told us to call them that night.  We did and they still didn't have them.  Arg again.  I spent all day with butterflies in my tummy.  Not fun at all.  I've decided that I don't like transfer day.  Too much worrying.

We got our surprise Wednesday morning.  We were actually expecting a change, but me, not him.  This is my greenie area, and I've been here three months already (wow…).  Elder Miller was transferred out of his greenie area after only two months.  Anyway, the surprise was compounded by the instructions, "Call President Cheney."  Hmm…  We were certain he [ed: Elder Erickson] was going to be asked to be a district leader.  We didn't find out until after lunch.  Secretary.  Told ya he's a good missionary.

Thursday wasn't special except for the change.  We spent all morning getting Elder Erickson packed up.  That afternoon, during the transfer meeting, we had another surprise, but this one was a good one.  It seems that there was only one missionary leaving (an hermana [tr: sister missionary]), so President Cheney was able to be in the meeting.  Normally, he's too busy with the dying missionaries.  Anyway, he talked for about ten, fifteen minutes.  It was incredible.  He didn't have any kind of notes or plans, and I was absolutely riveted.  This guy is amazing.

I took Elder Martin around to the members on Friday to get to know them.  That's about all there is to that.  Really.  And Saturday was more of the same.  Nothing.  Absolutely nothing.  Well, not exactly.  We were initiating a program to help the members help us.  It tells them exactly what they need to do to fulfill their member-missionary responsibilities.  Pretty cool program.  I'd send you a copy, but it's all in Spanish.  Sorry.

It rained Sunday morning.  That really doesn't mean too much to us, but I think it alters the Paraguayan mind.  Apparently, they don't think that we have meetings when it rains.  There were a whole 32 people in sacrament meeting.  Pathetic.  Oh, well.  Afterward, we came home, I made some spaghetti, and then both of us fell asleep.  I woke up first and did some personal study.  When Elder Martin woke up, he sounded terrible, so I made him stay home.

So.  This week's been kind of hectic.  A lot of nothing.  Oh, well.  I think I'll get along with Elder Martin.  I wouldn't say that he's as incredibly awesome as Elder Erickson, but he's a heck of a lot better than Elder Handy.  An interesting point: my Castellano is better than his.  He has 21 months as a missionary; I have five.  I don't know.  Oh, I'm not saying it to brag.  I'm just stating a simple fact.  Anyway, enough of that.

Paraguayan Peek: Schools.  Most of the schools around here are private Catholic schools.  There's one right across the street from my house.  It's called María Auxiliadora.  Anyway, most of them require uniforms, which is expected of a private school.  There are diverse uniforms, though.  Some require a tie for everyone, slacks for boys, skirts for girls.  Others have basically a jumpsuit with the school name on it.

I'm not quite sure how the kids are divided up, but I'll see what I can do.  They're in grades until fourth grade.  It seems that fourth grade is divided into nine courses, then followed by fifth grade.  I think fifth grade is split into three parts, too, but I'm not sure.  The students attend for four hours a day, six days a week, with Sunday being the day off.  Some students begin at around 7am, and others end around 9pm.  Elder Martin told me once, though, that he calculated the number of hours of schooling here and compared it with that of the States.  A student here who just completed all his schooling would have studied the same amount of time as a fifth-grader in America.  Hmm…

Well, that's all my head wants to do.  Plus, my feet are cold.  I'm going away now.  Bye bye.

¡Les quiero!


PS  That's a "Love you guys!" up there.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Villa Elisa: June 26, 2000

A la famila, (To the family,)

Well, nothing much new this week except for one small thing.  I had a baptism yesterday.  Nothing major.  Ahhh!  I HAD A BAPTISM!!! :)  Their names are Wilfrido and Lilian.  They've been waiting for at least six months.  They needed to get married and couldn't because Lilian didn't have a necessary document.  Turns out that it's not necessary.  They got married yesterday and then baptized.  I baptized Wilfrido and Elder Erickson baptized Lilian.

Okay.  I received two letters this week.  The first is dated June 6.

I hope you are getting your packages.  I have sent three so far.
Three?  Woo hoo!  I've gotten two.  I got the one with the bug spray and the one with the Fizzies.  I hope the third gets here soon, and that it has PICTURES.

Cassidy Trimble got his mission call.  He's going to Chicago, Ill!!
Wow.  That's… indescribable.  Wow.  I have no response to that.  I am utterly speechless.  [ed: I have no idea what I was talking about here.  Cassidy was a good guy and was called to serve the Lord in a good place.  *shrug*]

Sarah was extremely excited to get your letter.
Well, every time she writes me, I'll write her back.  She'll get a letter of her very own.  But she's gotta write first!

She said she wished it was six weeks instead of four days!  (Sounds like jealousy over her brother's summers, doesn't it?)
:P  [ed: I think she was going to a camp or something.  My summers were usually spent at boy scout camp.]

The second letter was actually an email, written on June 12.

Last Sunday, there was a fund raiser dinner to help Esmeralda Rodriguez with her medical expenses.
Great!  It's always nice to see the members joining together to help someone else.  I'm assuming it was at the church, anyway.  I have only one question, though.  Who is Esmeralda Rodriguez?

Only the roses aren't doing all that great.  But then I have a "black" thumb instead of a green one.
Maybe you and Dad should switch.  Let him take care of the roses, and you take care of the crimson orbs of corruption [tr: tomatoes]. :D

It is not about baptisms, it is about planting seeds.
That's right.  Do me a favor and keep your black thumb away from my seeds, okay? :D

That's done.  Now I'm going to bore you with my week.  I hope you don't fall asleep.  I'll start with Monday evening, because that's the beginning of the week.  We taught a charla [tr: discussion] one.  It went very well.  Very well.  The husband was so totally into it that it was incredible.  We were able to share things that are kind of side notes that clarify better.  Normally, we don't because the people don't seem to care enough.  These people were so cool!

Tuesday was a finding day.  We did a lot of clapping.  Well, not really.  Only ten charla cortas [tr: short discussions], but we did teach three charla ones.  It went quite well.

Elder Erickson and I did splits with the district leader on Wednesday.  Elder Napoleon (not the district leader) came to my side of Villa Elisa to work with me.  We had a tough time, because he didn't know my area, and I don't know how to guide other missionaries around.  I'm just a three-month-old!

Thursday wasn't very special.  We did some service for an inactive member.  It was pretty fun.  We packed sugar in little packages to sell to the despensas [tr: corner stores] (see below).  We didn't say much about the church, though.  Just "See you Sunday; if not then, Tuesday."  We made arrangements to go back again Tuesday.

We had a battle Friday night.  We had a charla one with a Pentecostal lady who knows the Bible really well.  I shot her down on one part, though.  She threw Revelation 22:18 at us.  I was ready.  I fired back with Deuteronomy 4:2.  She had no response.  Ha ha.  That charla lasted three hours.  No joke.  Three hours.

Saturday, we taught a charla one in the morning, then cleaned the baptismal font.  After that, Elder Erickson made some brownies (yum!) and I swept up a bit.  Then, we had a charla four.  That's really all we did.  For real.

Sunday was action-packed.  We went to church, and stayed after to do a bit of preparation.  Then, we went home to eat lunch.  I prepared some noodle shell thingys with peas and ham.  It would have been good if we could have eaten it.  We took off to go to the baptismal service right as I finished cooking it.  Then, we had the baptism of which I've already spoke.  After that, we, as in Elder Erickson and I and the two newest members of the church, went to see the prophet's birthday party.

Paraguayan Peek: despensas.  Despensas are basically little supermarkets.  You can usually find one within three blocks of wherever you are.  Some carry large amounts of stuff, or rather, a large selection, while others don't.  They all generally have basics, like milk, flour, sugar, and stuff like that.  Some have veggies, meat, and cheese.  What I find rather interesting is that, in the areas with more despensas, the owners usually complain that they don't sell much.  Well, duh.  Plus, a lot of them close for the siesta (between 1pm and 3pm).  They lose money there, too.  Especially when two missionaries want some cookies to finish off their lunch.  However, in areas less populated with despensas, there's quite a bit of business.  Once again, duh.  There's an area on the, uh, thatway-end of Villa Elisa with two despensas, but they are far enough apart so as to prevent competition.  I go to one of them all the time.  It's run by a member (the stake primary president, in fact).  She doesn't sell alcohol or cigarettes, and doesn't open on Sundays.  That wins my respect.  Plus, she sells PEANUT BUTTER.  There aren't many places in Paraguay that carry peanut butter that tastes good and is reasonably priced.  I live above a fairly good-sized despensa.  If they keep their cookies in stock, we'll keep them in business. :)

Okay, I'm gonna go now.  Elder Erickson and I are going to pick up our new mail.  Wee!  Mail!  Bye bye for now!

Love ya!

Villa Elisa: June 19, 2000

Hey guys!

Wow!  Not, one, but two packages!  Woo hoo!  Ahem.  I mean, thank you for sending me the candy and the bug spray.  It is greatly appreciated.  I… candy, candy, candy, candy!  :)  Heh.  So much for dignity.  Hey, you can't expect too much from me!  I just got candy!  Okay, I got it a week ago, but that's not important.  Oh, by the way, the pictures I requested?  That's what I wanted more than anything else.  ¡Y no hay!  ¿Que pasó?  (And there aren't any!  What happened?)

Well, I also received two letters included in the packages.  The first is dated May 26.  First, I want to say this: Very funny, Mom.  This one is the one you cut up.  You're a scream.

Last night, we went and saw Kay graduate.
Wow.  Graduation.  Wow.  Wasn't it February just yesterday?  What happened to the time?  Hey, wait… Whoa…  I've been a missionary for almost five months.  That's almost half a year!  Wow.  Time flies.  Oh, I guess I better get to my point.  Tell Kay I said congratulations!

Aunt Ellen said we should all hold our arms straight out with palms facing the podium—that way we could receive the Braille version.
Uh.  Okay.  Aunt Ellen is officially weird now.

We got more tomatoes—so we ended up with 70 quarts!
Mom!  These letters are supposed to be uplifting!  Arg!  Excuse me while I go and puke my guts out.

April Dawn got home from California yesterday.
Te voy a creer al recibir una carta de ella.  Pasale el mensaje.  (I'll believe you when I get a letter from her.  Pass her the message.)

Okay, that blabbing is done.  Now I get to blab about the other letter.  'Twas dated May 31.  On cool blue paper!  :D

It's hard to believe—two more days and you will have been gone four months!
Two weeks and it'll be five months!  I can't believe it either!  I'm probably going to be transferred this month.  I hope not, but four months in the greenie area is rare.  We'll see…

The big reunion has officially been cancelled.
Bummer.  I wanted pictures!  Boo hoo!  Well, I guess I can ask for pictures from you people.  I doubt I'll have to twist your arm too much to get you to go to the Homestead. :)

We went to the Homestead last weekend…
I rest my case.

…until I put the OFF on…
Only in English…

Keep up the good work!

I get to talk now.
Oh.  Great.  Siesta time!  Wake me up when she's done, okay?

…on September 2, 2000, the United Nations will declare a One World Government.
Why September 2?  Why not an important date?  Like December 24?  :D  Actually, I'd like to know what this so-called "One World Government" thinks it's going to do, and how it's going to work.  If it's really what it's name implies, then it won't work.  Don't call me pessimistic, though I'm no pessimist.  I'm a realist.  If the Saints weren't able to do it, the whole world won't, either.  Good idea, but I think it's doomed to failure.  That's politics according to Joe.  If I'm wrong, tell me.  I'd like to know what's going on.

Christopher won't eat tomatoes!  He says they are EVIL!!
Good boy!  Tomatoes are the bane of my existence!  We must avoid them at all costs!  Unless, of course, we're chucking them at a comedian.

I wonder where that came from!?!  Hmmm?
No clue.  Maybe a little birdie told him?  Oh, hey, by the way, I have a nickname in Guaraní.  It's Kokoro'o karape.  That means "short rooster."  Elder Erickson gave it to me.  Don't understand why.  (Hope you caught the correlation between "Kokoro'o karape" and "a little birdie.") :P

Okay, that's what I got this week.  Now I'm going to blab more!  This time about my week, beginning with Tuesday.  The biggest thing was Zone Conference!  Yay!  It seemed, to me, that the theme this month was the Holy Ghost.  Anyway, let me pull out my notes…

Hermana [tr: Sister] Cheney said, several times, that "it is the Spirit that teaches."  Very true.  She also said that conversion doesn't come until the person has been touched by the Spirit of the Lord.  However, in order to have the Spirit with us, we must seek it and, upon finding it, we must hoard it.  She presented four steps to have the Spirit with us.  I'll talk about nothing for a bit so I can get to the next page because I don't want to break up the steps.

Okay, here we go:

  1. Cultivate a desire or will
  2. Study and search the scriptures
  3. Engage in humble and sincere prayer
  4. Work, work, and work

She then impressed this important point (is that how you say it?): After doing these four steps, LIVE BY IT.

After Hermana Cheney was done, we had a special musical number.  A group of missionaries sang "The Spirit of God."  They sang in English.  None of them were American.  It was very cool.

President Cheney got up next and told us that there is nothing more important than what we do every day.  But, if the mission is the hardest thing I've ever done in my life, I'm doing it wrong.  I hope I'm doing it right, then, because I've never done anything harder.  He also told us that the number of baptisms (88 in May) is not sufficient.  Ouch.

Then the assistants of the president proceeded to tell us how to use our most powerful finding tool: the members.  They took an example from Lehi's dream (1 Nephi 8).  Lehi got to the tree of life and ate the fruit (the gospel), then he had the desire to share it.  Hint, hint.

After nearly all was done, we had the testimonies of the new missionaries and the ones leaving.  One greenie hermana started off in the fresh-out-of-the-MTC Spanish that I remember so well, but then slipped into English.  There was a Paraguayan stake missionary sitting next to me.  I translated for him.  Then, there was a Latin hermana who bore her testimony in English.  The Spirit was so strong right then that I almost cried.  After the meeting, I thanked her for it.

Wednesday was a lot of nothing.  We went to the house of a member to have a charla [tr: discussion] one.  No good.  She never let us talk!  Plus, she said that her husband is inactive because he drinks and smokes.  That's nothing something an investigator needs to hear.  To make matters worse, she tried to tell us how to do her job.  Right in front of the investigator.  And then Elder Erickson asked the investigator when we could visit her in her house and the member said, "She'll talk to her husband."  Arg!  It was just a disaster.

I had my interview with President Cheney on Thursday.  Way cool.  He told me there was a glow about me that wasn't there before.  I guess I had lost that "fire in my eyes" that Mom wrote about, and I seem to have found it again.

Friday and Saturday both were a heck of a lot of nothing.  We gave three charla ones in these two days, but only one of them will amount to anything.  One of them didn't even want to take a Book of Mormon!

Sunday was the pits.  There was a huge attendance at church.  Forty.  Yup.  Forty.  The stake president was there, raised us from branch to ward, and there was forty people there.  That night, we went to Jorgelina's house.  She told us to go away.  We've lost her.  She went from "I want to be baptized" to "I don't want to talk to you any more."  It wasn't very fun.  As I said, Sunday was the pits.

This week was tough.  It's getting to winter, which means it's cold and rainy.  And Paraguayans like to sleep when it's cold and rainy.  Not good for missionaries trying their hardest to share the gospel.  Oh, well.  Nothing we can do except for what we're already doing.

Paraguayan Peek: tereré and mate.  These are typical drinks.  They are identical except for one thing: tereré is cold and mate is hot.  They involve filling a cup with green stuff called yerba, pouring water in, and drinking the water through a straw.  There's more to it, of course, but that's the important part.

Paraguayans love drinking tereré and love sharing it, too.  Just the other day, we got in to a house by saying, "Ah, you're drinking tereré.  You want some company?"  The more people in the circle, the more they like it.

Okay, Mom, don't flip out.  Everyone uses the same straw.  After you've slurped down your bit of water, you pass the cup (called a guampa) back to the person serving, who refills the water, and passes the guampa to the next person.  Not very sanitary, but it's good.

All righty.  I've blabbed enough for one day.  My hand is getting tired.  I'm going away now.

Love ya!

PS Send pictures!

PPS Plus, I'd like an ink refill thingy.  I don't know if I can find them here or not.  I need a Sheaffer ballpoint refill.  It says "Medium" on it.  I hope that's enough information...  Thanks!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Villa Elisa: June 12, 2000

To my Simper family:

There's more than one, ya know.  I have good news.  I really enjoyed this week.  I was merely happy before, but this week was really good.  Actually, number-wise, it wasn't, but I had fun.  Why?  I'll tell ya in a minute.  I want to keep you in suspense a little while longer.  :D

Now that I've said that, I'll blab a bit about the letter I got.  By the way, cool blue paper.

… so Dad made me stay down and is feeding me Smack Ramen and Kool Aid.
Aww, poor baby.  Am I supposed to feel sorry for you?

… if W.C. refuses to replace the knee, we plan to have it done under our regular insurance…
That would be "Workman's Compensation", not "water closet", right? :)  Anyway, it's good to hear that Dad's (finally) going to get better.  You've been down almost a whole year, haven't you?  Yikes.  What happened to the time?  Oh!  There it goes!  Right out the window!  Catch it!  Too late…

It was good to see that you guys are talking to Jorgelina again.
Um.  Yeah.  Well, we'll see how that goes.  She found a book.  Yeah.  One of those.  I think it's title translates to "God Makers."  Anti-LDS garbage.  Blarg.  Hopefully, we can take care of this little problem.

Aunt Edwina… called to tell me she got "a sweet-sweet letter from your dear missionary."
Um.  Cool.  Did she happen to mention what I said?  I don't remember.  I've written too much and it's been too long; probably about a month and a half.  Something like that, anyway.  I guess whatever I said struck a chord, eh?

One of your letters said, "We got hosed out of three appointments that Elder Kump and I made."  Then you said, "On Friday, we were hosed by five people.  Joy of joys."  What is this "hosed"?
Well, actually, I assumed you people would already understand.  Just goes to show what happens when you assume.  It's actually something I never say.  What we say here is "fallared."  The verb "fallar" means "to miss" or "to fail."  And, being Americans, we made it past tense with the -ed.  Remember that.  I'll use it from here on out.  By the way, it has nothing to do with water, unless it's raining.

A simple, but firm, "No thank you" would be sufficient.
One would think so.  However, Paraguayans are too nice to say, "No, go away and leave me alone."  They always say things like "Otro día" (other day), "Puede ser" (could be), or "Estoy ocupado" (I'm busy).  Arg.  All of those mean, literally, "I can't right now, but come back later."  No Paraguayan really means that when they say it.  They mean, "Go away."  But they don't say it!  I like getting the "otro día," because we can fire back with "¿cuál?" (which?) ;)

Sarah thinks cookies would stay good if we vacuum-pack them.
Watch out for that one!  She's getting' too smart for her britches! :P

Hopefully, by the time you get this, you will have a new companion.
I do.  Elder Erickson.  I talked a bit about him last week.  He is really cool.

I am praying that he will be just the right match for you.
To put it simply: Mom, I would wager that your prayers have been answered.  And I would never gamble unless I was 100% sure of victory.  Thank you.

God bless you daily, son.
He does.  I can see it.  Not only is my command of the language improving, I can understand the people most of the time.  Plus, reading the Book of Mormon every morning is a little thing that brings great blessings.  I suggest you try it.  Each of you.  And to top it off, I have your prayers and support.  What more could I ask for?

What is—

Okay, we'll give Mom a little time to wipe her eyes… :P  All better now?  Okay.  Here we go.

What is "going on splits"?
Splits would be where two companionships swap companions for a day.  That day, with Elder Kump, he came here to Villa Elisa, and Elder Handy went to La Floresta with Elder Christenson.  Simple as that.  No bananas involved.

Oh, by the way, the smiley faces are a scream!  We all get a big kick out of them!
I'm glad you like them.  I like them, too.  A heck of a lot easier than drawing a little goofy face.  They should last a while, too.  The original package had… uh… 320 little faces, twenty different ones.  I've used, in two months, only thirty-five.  I'll beg some more if I start getting low.  I doubt it, though.

What is "Noche de Rama"?
"Rama" is "branch," and "noche" is "night."  So.  Branch night.  Think Mutual night with more than just the young folks there.  It's pretty fun.  I like it.

Bandit [ed: my dog] says, "Ahowwllll."
Um.  Okay.  So, Mom, how long did it take you to figure out how to spell that?

I hope vociferious rambling is acceptable for letters.
Well, that depends.  What the heck does "vociferious" mean?  Rambling is good.  News from home, spiritual stuff, and good other stuff (like Bandit talking) are what I like to get.  And anything else you can think up.  Like nummies.  :D

Hey, love the Arizona temple stickers!  They're really cool!  Um.  Gonna blab about this week now.  Yeah, really.  No, there's nothing you can do abo—hey!  Quit folding this up!  I'm not finished!

Ahem.  Let's see.  Monday.  I did absolutely nothing of note.  I spent all my free time writing letters.  Our landlord fixed our electricity, which was pretty durned friendly of him.  Before, the shower would go out, so we wouldn't have hot water.  He fixed it, though.  Yay!

Tuesday was zone meeting as usual.  Afterwards, our day just crumbled.  We planned six charlas [tr: discussions].  None of them were there.  Well, some were there, but couldn't talk to us.  We also planned to do our contract.  We went to the notary person's office and waited for about twenty minutes.  We got in.  We left.  We needed the title for the house.  Grrr.

We went back the next day and got it all cleared up.  Yes, that would be Wednesday.  One noteworthy… uh, note: our landlords invited a friend to hear the first charla with them.  Her name is Celeste.  She showed up wearing practically nothing.  We set a time to come back (oh, by the way, this was a while ago, not on Wednesday).  On Wednesday, we went back and had an awesome charla one with her mom.  Her name is Cornelia.  She's one of those who likes to talk.  And talk.  And talk.  The charla lasted an hour and a half, about twice as long as usual.  That's okay, though.  They're cool.  Oh, and Celeste wasn't all snakey this time.  Snakey is a missionary term for females who try to attract us North Americans.  The name comes from the hissing sound they make to try to get our attention.  Snakes have many methods, of which the most frequent is small clothing, and flirting.  Well, a one-sided flirt, anyway.  They're quite annoying.  Hmm… that'll be this week's Paraguayan Peek because I'm too tired to think of another one.

Thursday, we did a lot of clapping.  We had some good contacts, too.  The best part was, during the correlation meeting that night with members, the branch president told us that Rama Villa Elisa is now Barrio Villa Elisa.  "Barrio" means "ward."  Yay!

More of the same on Friday.  A lot of running around like chickens with their heads cut off, without a lot of visible results.  Elder Erickson made some good pasta, though.  Highlight of the day.

Saturday we went by a lot of the people with whom we talked.  Not charlas, but charla cortas [tr: short discussions].  They said to come back Saturday.  Some did.  They said come back Saturday or something along those lines.  One lady, who we had given a charla one to, told her son to tell us that she went on a trip.  We caught him in the lie, and he 'fessed up.  We commended him for his honesty and continued on our way.  The cool thing about Saturday was I received a nickname in Guaraní.  I am kokoro'o karape, which means short rooster.  Don't ask me.  Elder Erickson gave it to me.  His means bald monkey.  He's a little thin on top.  Just a little. :)

Sunday was cool.  Celeste and Cornelia went to church, as did our landlords.  Also, Juan's brother, Lorenzo went.  That was a surprise.  I haven't talked to him in like a month.  He was there for charla two, and he accepted baptism.  After church, we proceeded to get fallared.  How lovely.  We went to a member's house, and planned a really, really cool thing.  She doesn't ready very well, so we are going to go by her house once or twice a week to read the Book of Mormon with her.  It's going to be very cool.

Today was very crazy.  We left the house and dropped our less-than-clean clothes off, then went to San Isidro.  That's the barrio next to Villa Elisa.  The hermanas (sister missionaries (get used to it)) there are part of my district and invited us to the ward activity.  It was cool.  I played volleyball and ping pong, and ate food, too.  Mmm… food…  As we left, we were going to buy food, but the supermarket was closed!  Arg!  So we came home.  I borrowed a Guaraní-Castellano dictionary from a member.  That'll be helpful.  It says how to pronounce the letters, so I'll be able to ready my Book of Mormon in Guaraní.

And that was my week.  A lot of nothing.  But why am I so happy?  Because Elder Erickson is AWESOME.  Last night, for instance, we talked 'til midnight about some cool doctrinal points, and we shared scriptures.  It was really cool.  Elder Handy and I never talked about anything.  What little I know about him, I picked up from him telling investigators and members.  Elder Erickson and I talk about all sorts of stuff, all the time.  Plus, I feel that my talents are actually being used.  I feel like I'm actually learning.  I consider Elder Erickson my trainer.  Anyone can be called to be a district leader (as Elder Handy was).  Anyone can be called to work in the mission office (as Elder Handy was).  Anyone can be assigned a new missionary as a companion (as Elder Handy was).  However, to be a trainer, you have to actually train.  I feel that I'm learning, and my boundaries are being stretched.  Just the other day, I gave half of a charla three.  I haven't even studied charla three yet.  That's the sort of thing a trainer is supposed to do.  Elder Erickson does it.  And so, Elder Erickson is my trainer.  He is a great guy.  I'm really happy and extremely blessed to be his companion.

Okay, well, it's rolling onto 11pm, and I'm exhausted.  I can't go to bed, though, 'cause I still have to write President Cheney and answer another letter.  I'm going away now.

Love you!


PS I'm gonna have a book by the time I get home!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Villa Elisa: June 5, 2000

Hey whole family,

This last week has been pretty darn hectic.  We moved to a different apartment, Elder Handy left, and I have to guide my new senior companion around.  His name is Elder Erickson.  He's from Phoenix.  Cool guy.  But before I get into that, I have a few words to say about your letters.  The first was from Dad.  No date was specified.

I was sorry to hear about your week you wrote about in your letter of April 24.
Thanks, but what did I write?  It's been too long.  I don't even remember what I wrote last week.

Work hard and love the people you are teaching.
I do.  I love these people.  Even the ones who reject me.  If I didn't love them, their rejections wouldn't hurt so much.

Our prayers are with you.
And mine with you.

Okay, this one's from Mom, dated May 5.

I am going to send this by regular mail to see if you get it sooner than pouch mail.
Doesn't look like it.  It took about a month both ways.

…the Catholic church is crumbling.
I probably shouldn't be happy about that, but I am.  Now all we have to do is get the Paraguayans to realize it.  I feel that a lot of them use "soy católico" (I'm Catholic) as a shield.  They are afraid of change, and that's what I bring.  It frustrates me when the people reject us without even hearing what we have to say.

And although we have kids who run wild also, the vast majority do not, or if they do, it only lasts a short period of time.
Maybe in the United States it's that way.  Here we have kids who run wild from 8am when church starts to 11am when it's over.  We missionaries usually have to herd the little br… I mean, darlings into their classes.  I haven't beat any of them yet, but I have taken my belt off.  Yes, really.  The parents think it's funny when we do stuff like that.  I miss the tranquility of church in Holbrook 1st Ward.  Now watch.  When I get back, the bishop is going to call me to teach seven-year-olds [ed: I'm currently teaching children who are between six and eight years old—and I love it.].  So much for tranquility.

I also thought you might like a copy of the picture we had made in Silverton, Colorado.
Yeah!  That was cool.  Now all I have to do is find a place to put it… hmm…

The photo you sent with your first letter—is that your mission president and Sister Cheney?
Nope.  It's a picture of a typical Paraguayan tree.  It would have been really nice if those darn Mormons hadn't gotten in the way!

Now I'm going to talk about my week.  I don't remember what happened last Sunday.  Sorry.  Monday we moved from our old apartment.  This one is nicer in most aspects.  The other wasn't too bad, just always dirty dirty.  There's a few things we lack, though.  We need a sink in both the bathroom and in the kitchen.  Also, we're going to get hot water installed next month (rare in Paraguay) and in four months, a bidet.  This place will be awesome when it's all finished up.  It's too bad I'll be gone by then.  I won't be here in my greenie area for six months.

Tuesday, during the zone meeting, we found out that Elder Miller would be transfered to Encarnación.  This is about as far as Phoenix.  I won't get to see him any more until we're both in the Asunción area again.  After that, Elder Handy had to go to the office for his final interview.  Then, the branch had a good-bye thingy for him.

Elder Handy slept in until noon on Wednesday (he was sick; it's okay).  Then, we spent the day doing about nothing.  He went around to say bye bye to everyone.  I had to go along.  Quite boring, I must say.

Thursday, we went back to the office to send Elder Handy away.  We took a picture of the two of us together (the only picture he took in two months with me in it), then I killed him.  No, not really.  He went home and so died.  I was his companion at the time and so I killed him.  My new comp is Elder Erickson.  He's from Phoenix.  Cool guy.  I said it twice, so you know it's true.  I really think things will look up from now on.  Not only does he have the same desires to work as I do, we work together to do it.  I don't feel unimportant any more.

We had to go back to the old house to clean it on Friday.  As I said earlier, it was horrible.  But now it's all nice and clean.  The landlord only pulled out 100 mil [tr: thousand] [ed: guaranies, the Paraguayan currency] of the deposit.  We were certain he was going to try to take it all.  We did some real missionary work after that, but I don't recall anything cool.

Saturday was actually the day we met with the landlord.  When I gave him the keys, he said there were three more.  I didn't know what to do.  I had given him all that Elder Handy gave me.  Then an idea popped into my head: maybe the keys are in the doors.  The three doors were the interior doors, and I didn't even know they had keys.  We looked, and lo and behold, they were there!  Guess what.  The idea didn't pop into my head.  It was put there.  I've noticed little things like that all week.  I was on the bus Tuesday reading the Ensign, and the bus driver turned the interior lights on.  About a minute after I had put it away, he turned them off.  Wednesday morning.  I opened my study guide for the first time in Paraguay.  I chose (did I choose?) to study the Restoration, or more specifically, the prophecies concerning the Restoration.  That night, someone had questions about… what?  Yup.  Prophecies concerning the Restoration.

We gave a charla [tr: discussion] two to our new landlords on Sunday.  It didn't go too well.  Visitors came in the middle of it, then he had to leave for a bit.  Neither of them accepted baptism, but said they'd pray about it.  We'll see.  We dropped by Jorgelina's house, and found out that she's been reading an anti-LDS book.  Grr.  She said she's going to pray, also.

Oh, by the way.  I should have a baptism this week or the week to come.  Finally!  Their names are Wifrido and Lilian.  They had all six charlas before I got here, and we found out that they were found by the elder that Elder Handy replaced.  Elder Handy was here for six months.  Long time.  They have to get married before they can be baptized, and that's why it's taken so long.  She needs identification.  However, Elder Erickson told us that they could be married with a birth certificate.  Yay!

This week's Paraguayan Peek is going to be short.  This is my last page in this notebook.  The topic: newspapers.  It appears that there are no regulations on printed material.  Elder Handy told me that sometimes they show pictures of people who have been brutally murdered.  One newspaper line always has a picture of a woman who is, shall we say, scantily clad on the front page.  I guess they need something to get people to buy.  Plus, a lot of the stories aren't true.  Hmm.  Worth buying?  Nope.  Worth reading?  Nope.

Um.  Yeah.  Bye?  Love ya!