Sunday, June 28, 2015

Villa Elisa: May 8, 2000

Um… hi…

Well, this is gonna be pretty hefty.  I've got my week to talk about and also I got two letters from you this week!  Finally!  Er.  Well, with that said, I'll talk about your letters.  I'll go in chronological order 'cause it's always good to start at the beginning.  The first was written on April 9, 2000 and the other I'm assuming was written on the 12th (of April).

… to see what Paraguay is like …
Um.  Well.  Er…  I've done a lot of talking already, so I think I've already answered this one (in previous letters). :P

… what kind of living arrangements you have.
Ahem.  I live in the top floor of a two-story building.  This means that sometimes there isn't enough water pressure to take a shower in the morning.  Our pension (no idea why it's called that (it makes a lot more sense to call it an apartment)) consists of three rooms and a bathroom.  We converted one room into a kitchen.  It is a mess, but not my fault.  'Twas terrible before I arrived.  The next room is the one we sleep in.  It's gunky, too.  Also, we've got a big window, which is bad because there's a street light right outside.  We've covered the window with a sheet.  This room has an air conditioner/heater.  Poor me.  The third room is where our… um… whatever they're called are.  You know.  Those things you put clothes in, but they aren't dressers.  [ed: I believe they're called armoires.]  Anyway.  The bathroom has a sink, a shower, a toilet, and… a bidet!  Yes, really!  All three rooms leak when it rains, so I'm probably going to move out in the beginning of June when our contract here expires.  We'll see.

It was wonderful to see you, if even for a very short time.
I know.  I mean, er, it was wonderful to see you, too. :)

Um, well, the rest of the letter is about weird stuff, so I'll just jump to the other letter now.

[Big picture of Smokey kitty]
Aww…  look at the cute kitty.  Aww…

I do not know if this is legal or not.  [ed: referring to sending the photo of the cat via pouch mail, which is supposed to be for just letters]
Neither do I.  I don't think it is bad.  If it is, though, you can just send neat-o pictures directly to the mission office (see return address on envelope).  That's also the address to use to send PACKAGES.  Just a little note on the side.  Nothing is required, of course.  But, if you want to send me, oh, a little bit of good, old-fashioned American candy, I wouldn't complain.  No, not at all.  :D

I do not have a lot to say this time…
No, no, no.  That's not the way it works.  I get to say that.  Me.  No one else.  You guys have to write lots and lots.  The great Joe has decreed it.  So let it be written; so let it be done.

… I am sending you copies of the letters that Heather Ferguson sent me on April and Eldon.  [ed: April and Eldon are friends of mine who were also serving missions at the time.  Heather is their mom.]
Thanks, but it's unnecessary, because Mom Ferguson sends them to me, too.

Yes, that's really how the letter ends.  No name.  Sheesh.

Okay, that's taken care of.  Now I get to blab about nothing in particular.  Actually, it'll be about my week, but, as you will see, my week and "nothing in particular" are one and the same.

Anywhen, Monday was kinda just there.  Oh, that's May 1st.  P-Day [ed: preparation day], but we really didn't do anything.  We were in the house all day long.  All I did was some reading.  Well, a lot of reading.  About six hours of it.

It rained Tuesday.  All day.  What fun.  It started when we were in the panadería (bread store--basically a bakery).  We go there every morning to get breakfast.  Anyway, back to the story.  We sat down under the canopy and waited for it to calm down a bit.  Neither of us had a jacket or umbrella or anything like that.  We got a little wet.  Just a little.  Okay, we were soaked from head to toe.  We got to zone meeting, with nothing special there expect the fact that I got six letters.  The rest of the day was blah because the people would stick their heads out the door and say "Go away, it's raining.  Come back some other day."  I was very certain it was raining.  It was for this reason that I wanted in!  Oh, by the way, we went back to the house after zone meeting and got our jackets.  Don't worry, Mom.

Wednesday was more of the same.  Rain all day long, and no one wanted to talk to us because of it.  We did manage to give two charla [tr: discussion] twos, but I can only remember one of them.  Wait, no.  The other was a review for a family has already had all six charlas.  Anyway, we set a baptismal goal date thingy for four people.  Hopefully, we'll actually be able to baptize them.

Thursday was not a good day.  Cold and wet.  Our numbers for charlas total a big fat zero.  No charla cortas [tr: short discussions], no actual charlas, nothing with present or new members.  Also, Noche de Rama [tr: Branch Night] was packed.  Oh, yeah.  Not counting the four missionaries, there were four people there.  We had a good hour of reactivation, though, with an inactive member.

Friday started off very interesting.  I met a member from Buenos Aires.  She was visiting her cousin here in Villa Elisa.  That's not that strange.  I thought it was odd that she had no problems pronouncing my name, until she said that there's an Elder Simper in her ward.  She knows Dallan!  [ed: my cousin who was serving a mission in Argentina at the time]  Isn't that weird?  She took a picture of me so she could prove to her friends that she met the other Elder Simper.  Then, from there, the day sluffed off into nothing.  We had half a dozen charla cortas, but they didn't amount to anything.

Saturday was probably the best day, workwise.  The rain quit (finally), so people were willing to talk to us.  Ten charla cortas with two charla ones.  Then, we went to help the other missionaries with baptismal interview.  The investigator didn't show.  Again.  Blarg.

I really don't want to talk about Sunday, but I'd better or Mom will go postal.  We had one investigator come to church.  That was the highlight.  We had three people on Saturday tell us that we could come on Sunday.  "We'll be here all day."  None of them were.  Not one.  And then we visited on of Saturday's charla ones.  Her husband gave us the Book of Mormon back and told us to bug off.  Not nice at all.  He didn't want to hear anything.  As we left, I said, "Well, kiss your soul goodbye."  [ed: not proud of that…]  We had someone scheduled for every hour, on the hour.  We left the house at 2:30p, and by 3:15 our schedule was ripped open to 7pm.  It was not a nice day.  We had a nice chat with Jorgelina, though.  We're going back on Wednesday.  Hopefully, we can talk…  We had also set up an appointment to watch a few church videos with some investigators at a member's house.  No go.  I got to watch a bit of Home Alone 2 in Spanish.  That was interesting.

So as you can see, this week was a lot of work, without a lot of fruit, or even seeds.  It was hard.  But I knew it would be before I filled out the mission papers.  I'm very happy to be here, so don't worry your heads about that.

One final note:  last week I talked about the difficulties I'm having with my companion.  Well, I've spent all this week praying and trying my hardest.  I'm not yet to the point where I can honestly say I love him.  I can, however, say I like him as a person.  As a missionary, that's a different story.  To me, it seems he's decided to slack a bit now that his mission is nearly over.  I could whine and cry, but I won't.  I'll just grit my teeth and bear it for another three weeks.  Yes, of course, I'll be praying for help.  I know that I can't do anything without the Lord's help, especially not this.

Anyway, love y'all!


Villa Elisa: May 1, 2000

To my family:

Hi!  Um… now what.  Uh… well, this week hasn't been all that great.  A lot of walking and talking, but not a lot of charlas [tr: discussions] given.  There was this one pretty cool thing that happened, but I'll talk about that in due time.  There's other stuff to talk about first.

Last Monday, the 24th.  I passed off charla one to Elder Handy.  This entails memorizing it and reciting it to him.  Other than that, Monday was pretty blah.

Tuesday was okay.  We had zone meeting, which was just sort of there.  Nothing spectacular to talk about.  Later that afternoon, we visited a lot of our investigators, with really nothing to show for it.  We did give one charla one to a lady and her daughter.  Both agreed to read and pray.

The cool part happened Wednesday.  We went on splits with the zone leaders.  This was originally a tough thing for me because I didn't know my way around very well.  Elder Handy told me he would show me on the map.  We had a map this whole time and he never told me.  I'd been lost for three weeks, and we had a map!  (Yeah, I'm a little bitter about that).  Anyway, I was able to guide Elder Kump around in the end.  We had no less than seventeen charla cortas [tr: short discussions], three of which I gave.  For comparison, Elder Handy and I have had maybe twelve for the other six days of the week, none of which I gave.  Anyway, we had three charla ones result from the charla cortas.  Unfortunately, this day affirmed my fears about Elder Handy being flojo [tr: lazy].

Thursday was not nice at all.  We didn't do hardy anything.  We were hosed out of three appointments that Elder Kump and I made.  That wasn't the worst part.  We went to talk to Jorgelina, and she told us that her husband was getting upset with her because she wasn't helping him do whatever it was he was doing.  We were told not to return.  This from the coolest investigator yet!  But, there's nothing we can do.  We left a Family: a Proclamation to the World pamphlet, and said our goodbyes.  If I wasn't sure before, I am certain now.  Satan does not like this work.  Jerk.

Let's see.  On Friday, we were hosed by five people.  Joy of joys.  We gave charla two to that lady and her daughter (Magdelena and Luisa).  Both accepted baptism.  That was good, of course.  Highlight of the day, obviously.

Saturday wasn't too bad.  We had a charla one with a snake (a girl about our age who tries to flirt with us).  She was so bad that we didn't set a second appointment.  She told me that I talk like a little angel.  Blarg.  If she goes to church, then we'll talk.  That night we had an awesome charla with Carmen, a lady who might as well be a member for her beliefs.  She recognized the hypocrisy in the leaders of other churches, she doesn't smoke or drink, and reads the Bible.  In fact, she was able to recite John 3:16.  Impressive.  She wasn't able to go to church this week (her idea; we never invited her), because her daughter in Buenos Aires was going to call Sunday some time, but she said that she'll definitely go next week.

Sunday was tough.  None of our investigators came to church; we had four who said "I'll be there, no matter what."  Plus, it seemed like no one was home.  We reviewed charla one with a guy, and that's all we did.

Tough week.  Going on splits with Elder Kump was the best part of the week.  It showed me why we weren't having any success to speak of.  I still haven't participated in a baptism.  It really opened my eyes.  I discovered, when I looked deep inside myself, that I don't love Elder Handy.  I know that I should, but I don't.  I try my hardest, but I just can't do it.  I've been praying my heart out these past few days to overcome this problem.  I can't do it alone.  I can't find an aspect of him to love.

For an example: last night, we were at a house of an investigator family who was slipping away.  Instead of offering to help them, he reads scriptures that aren't exactly nice.  I asked him if slamming the investigators will really do any good.  He said, and I quote, "No, but I want to do it anyway."  Plus he hasn't helped me learn anything.  In a month, we've done a total of an hour and a half of comp study [ed: companionship study.  Missionary companionships were supposed to study together for at least an hour every day.]  It's really difficult.  I haven't learned anything new since I got here, except for a little bit of stuff that I did on my own, but, once again, I can't do it alone.  This is not a good thought, but I think it's a blessing to both me and the people of Paraguay that Elder Handy leaves next month.  I feel really bad about this, but it's really how I feel.

As I said earlier, this has been a tough week for me.  I know this work is the Lord's and I'm doing his will by serving this mission in Paraguay, so I'm not getting discouraged at all.  I'm here to learn and grow, and, in order to overcome this problem I have with Elder Handy, I will have to.  Don't worry about me, though.  I'll be fine.  I've got divine support and help.

I love you all!


Villa Elisa: April 24, 2000

Greetings and salutations!

How goes everything?  Well, I hope it's good.  It gosh darn better be!  Or else I'll have to… uh… never mind.  There's nothing I can do about it from here.  Come on!  Gimme a break!  I'm halfway across the world, for cryin' out loud!

Um.  Yeah.  I'm going to talk about my week now.  Don't hold your breath for anything spectacular, though.

Okay, Tuesday the 18th.  I attended my first zone meeting.  This was different than Zone Conference.  Zone Conference is with all five zones in Asunción.  Zone meeting is just my zone.  We did a bit of talking about various things, none of which struck me as awesome, then the Zone Leader, Elder Kump, passed out mail.  I got a letter!  Wee!  It was really nice.  And, no, it wasn't from you.  :D  Other than that, Tuesday wasn't that great.  We gave a charla [tr: discussion] about the plan of salvation to an inactive family.  That's about it.

Wednesday wasn't much better.  We gave nine charla cortas [tr: short discussions] (basically, just an invitation to listen to the first discussion) to various people who live near the branch president's house.  A few people even agreed to listen, but later.  We gave a charla to another inactive family, and got to ride in their clunker.  This car is a piece of junk.  There's no other way to describe it.  The front seat is basically broken in half.  Often, the car has trouble making it up hills.  Plus, there's a hole in the floor.  Not a little one, either.  There was a piece dragging on the ground that caught on a rock as he was backing up and stopped the car from going any more.  Pretty pathetic, eh?

Thursday was more of the same.  It seemed that our lunch appointment (lunch being the primary meal here, rather than dinner) forgot we were coming.  This wasn't nice of them.  We walked literally forty-five minutes to get there, and no one was home.  Arg.  The whole day was like that.  It was only 6:30p and we had exhausted our resources and had no idea what to do.  So we went to a member's house to bum some food, which, by the way, we didn't get.  We went to Branch Night (kinda like Mutual, but everybody shows up (well, that's the theory anyway)).  That was okay.  Elder Handy taught some English, and I sat in the back singing hymns to myself.  He had planned a big ol' lesson, and I wasn't part of it.  Okay…

Friday was… interesting.  I'm assuming it was Good Friday, 'cause everybody was closed.  We had a charla with a woman who's son was annoying beyond description.  He's two and not yet potty-trained, and doesn't wear diapers or anything like that.  Yum.  Plus, she didn't seem to understand quite right.  We asked her if it would be important to be baptized like Christ was and she agreed.  We asked if she had been baptized this way and she said yes.  "Like this?"  "No, not like that, but I was baptized in the Catholic church."  Gr…  It was just a little trying.  Also, we had our interviews with President Cheney on Friday.  Remember when I said everybody was closed?  Well, this includes the bus lines.  We waited for an hour for the bus that would take us directly to the mission office.  No good.  We ended up taking two buses.  Oh, and neither of us had small change.  It costs a mil (1000 guaraníes [ed: the guaraní is the currency of Paraguay]) to ride the bus.  Both of us had 50000 bills, and nothing else.  We had to borrow a five mil from the other elders in the area.  We didn't get back to Villa Elisa (my area) until 8:30p.  We started waiting for the first bus at 1:30p.  We only spent about three hours at the mission office.  Yuck.

Saturday: We had four charlas set due to the charla cortas on Wednesday.  Three of them were no-shows and the fourth said "My husband doesn't want to talk to you.  Blah, blah, blah, Catholic, blah, blah."  Too bad.  We did manage to give a charla one to three children of this one lady.  I'd be willing to bet a few mil that she didn't care about the message.  Oh, no.  The oldest daughter is nineteen.  Ya get what I'm sayin'?  She didn't try anything funny, though.  The charla went well.  It seemed that all three understood and they all agreed to read the Book of Mormon.  This was the highlight of the week.

Sunday was back to the same blah as before.  We went to church in the morning.  It would have been great if I could only understand what was going on…  We gave Jorgelina the third charla about the Restoration, which went really well.  It seems that she's been looking for the truth, and we're the ones who brought it to her.  We don't have a definite baptismal date yet, because she wants to learn more, but I'm pretty sure she'll get baptized.

And that's my week.  Pretty slow.  The reason is because this week was the Semana Santa (Holy Week) and a lot of our regular investigators had traveled elsewhere.  So we had to do a lot of tracting, without much success.  There were moments when I felt a little discouraged, but I told that meanie Satan to go away and leave me alone.  I felt better immediately after.  Gee.  Is this work and this church really from God?  I wonder.

Anywhen, love you lots and lots!


PS  Don't know if I've already shared this one or not, but... 3 Ne 5:13.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Villa Elisa: April 17, 2000

¿Que tal, familia? [tr: What's up, family?]

Well, I've been here for a week and a half and I am just lovin' it.  This week has been great.  Well, as I look at my numbers for the week, maybe it hasn't, from a missionary point of view.  To me, however, it was great.

Let's see… Monday.  We spent all day in the mission office, messing with the computers.  Then, we went to the mission home, where President Cheney and his family live, and messed with their computers there.  I'm not pleased to say that we failed, but we got an amazing chicken salad.  Yum!

We had a district meeting Tuesday.  Nothing really big there, except I met the other missionaries in the district.  Two elders and two hermanas [tr: sister missionaries].  We talked about stuff.  I think I might even have understood some of it!

The highlight of the week was Wednesday.  I don't remember if I told you about Jorgelina, so I will.  This next little bit happened last week.  Sunday, I believe (not last night, the 11th).  Anyway, we had made an appointment with her neighbor, but when we clapped his house (it's rude to enter the yard without an invite, so instead of knocking on their doors, we clap outside the fence), he wasn't there.  His neighbor, Jorgelina, came out and told us he went to play some game or another.  We were kinda bummed, but introduced ourselves to her.  She let us in and we started teaching.  She was accepting everything really well.  Then, we got to my part.  Joseph Smith and the First Vision.  When I started, "Vi una columna de luz…" (I saw a pillar of light…), her eyes got really big and it was obvious to me that she was paying attention even more than before.  She was literally crying by the time I was done.  Such is the power of the Spirit of our Heavenly Father.

She agreed to read the Book of Mormon, which she did.  Well, not all of it, just Moroni 10:3-5--La Promesa (The Promise) and 3 Nephi 11--La Visita de Jesucristo (The Visit of Jesus Christ).  She also started reading from the beginning.  She related a story to us about it.  I'm not certain about the details because my Castellano (they don't call it Spanish down here) isn't good enough yet, but I got the main part.  She knows the Book of Mormon is true.  She was reading, turned the page, and was staring into the face of the Savior.  That night (this is Wednesday, the 12th), we taught both Jorgelina and her husband, Andres, who hadn't received Charla 1 [tr: Discussion 1].  Both of them agreed to be baptized.  My joy at that very instant is indescribable.  As we left, I said to Elder Handy, "And that is why I am here."  I'm certain you remember my other letter.  The one you shared with everyone, where I said that I want to share this with all my Paraguayan brothers and sisters.  I have done it once, and how great was my joy.  "And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me!"  (D&C 18:16).

Thursday was Zone Conference.  The five zones in the Asunción area met together and we had an awesome meeting.  Hermana Cheney [tr: Sister Cheney] talked about ten things to take home.  They weren't gifts or things like that, but they were Gospel stuffs, like a greater knowledge of God and Jesus Christ.  It was pretty amazing.  Another one was a greater love and appreciation for your family.  I've already felt that, and I've only been gone for two and a [ed: yes, I forgot to write "half" here] months.  She added a scripture that I'd like to modify a bit and share the first couple of lines with you:

"I, Joe Simper, having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father…" (1 Nephi 1:1)

And I thank you for that.

President Cheney talked a little about temples.  He said that, at the end of this year, there will be 121 temples in operation, under construction, or announced.  He also mentioned that, only two and a half years ago, there were fifty in operation.  We've doubled the number of operating temples in that short amount of time.  The coolest thing he said was a story about a Paraguayan family who sold everything they had (yes, everything) to attend the temple in Buenos Aires.  Talk about faith.  He also gave all of us a picture of the planned temple here in Asunción.  I'm not sure exactly where he got it, but it was from the Internet somewhere.  I snagged one for you, but I posted it in our chapel instead.  The people here have more need of it than you do.  :P

Nothing spectacular happened on Friday, but Saturday…  Elder Handy got sick.  He's got some weird thing called dengae fever.  It seems to be pretty common around here.  It's transmitted by (surprise) mosquitoes.  He had a burning fever, diarrhea, and said his entire body ached, even his eyes.  Needless to say, we didn't go out.  I spent all day reading or studying something.

Sunday rolled around, and he wasn't feeling much better.  We stayed home again.  I've read 57 Sections of the Doctrine and Covenants, an entire book for missionaries, started Jesus the Christ, and spent about four hours with the Spanish Book of Mormon, looking up words I don't know and writing them down.  I got to 1 Nefi 3 [tr: 1 Nephi 3].  Anyway, I'd like to share this scripture with you that I found, altered a little bit, of course.

"Verily, verily, I say unto you, Elder Simper, even as you desire of me so shall it be unto you; and if you desire, you shall be the means of doing much good in this generation.

"Say nothing but repentance unto this generation; keep my commandments, and assist to bring forth my work, according to my commandments, and you shall be blessed." (D&C 6:8-9, red added).

Incredible, ¿no?  This passage really touched me (obviously).  I do desire to be the means of doing much good in this generation.

Elder Handy seems to be doing better this morning.  That's good.  Maybe we'll go out tonight.  I hope so… ¡Oh!  Guess what!  Nope!  I got my first Paraguayan thunderstorm this morning!  It was cool.  It was going on at 6:30 when I woke up, and was still going at 8:30 when I woke up again, but when I woke up the last time at 9:30, it had run it's course.  It was nice, though.  I haven't heard a thunderstorm since leaving the house so long ago.

Well, that's my report for the week.  Hurry up and get letters to me so I can write more stuff!

Love you!


PS Feel free to email me, and definitely spread my address around!  It's [ed: email address removed to fight against spam bots] with Elder Joseph D. Simper as the subject.  Have them include their mailing address, too, so I can write back.

Villa Elisa: April 10, 2000

Hola mi familia, [tr: Hello, my family]

How's every little thing?  It's going pretty good here on the other side of the world.  My new companion's name is Elder Handy.  I'm in an area called Villa Elisa.  It's a city duct-taped to Asunción, just like Mesa, Tempe, and all those other cities are duct-taped to Phoenix.

Anyway, as I said before, stuffs are doing fine.  I learned that I can speak Spanish okay, but not near enough to carry a conversation, especially since I can't understand what they're saying half the time.  Elder Handy does all the talking.  Well, not all of it, but a heck of a lot more than I say.  During a first discussion, I talk about Joseph Smith and the First Vision and that's it.  Oh, well.

The people here are just awesome.  Since most of them don't have air conditioning, they sit outside in the shade (not that it's much better, but we can pick up a breeze outside).  This makes it really easy to go tracting, since we can just talk to them over the fence.  I don't think we do it enough, personally.  Sometimes I get the feeling that Elder Handy is a bit flojo [tr: lazy] (ask Dad, he'll definitely know what it means).  Oh, well.  What can ya do?

Let's see… um… we taught five charla ones (that would be a first discussion) since Thursday.  We did a little bit of reactivation.  One of the semi-actives went to church yesterday because we committed her to go.

Sacrament meeting was… interesting.  I directed the music, which was quite the experience because we don't have a pianist, and it seems the Paraguayans don't know how to read music or sing on the beat.  This was compounded by the fact that, of four hymns, I knew one of them (Dios da valor/God Speed the Right).  And we didn't even sing it.

Also, we had psycho kids running around, screaming their heads off, even during the sacrament and the four confirmations.  ¡Ay!  It was a bit difficult at times.

And then to top it all off, I was asked to bear my testimony in front of everybody.  Welcome to Paraguay, Elder Simper.  Good thing I can do that…

Ooo, guess what!  I get to walk everywhere!  It only took us about half an hour to go from our apartment to the chapel (which is actually a house) yesterday.  It took us about forty minutes to walk home from the house we were at last night.  We were walking pretty fast, too.  It's pretty tough, especially with the sun beating down…

Okay, enough whining.  The truth is I love it here.  It's hard work, but it it wasn't, then I'd be failing the Lord.  I'm very happy to be here.  Plus, I haven't gotten any weird parasites!  Yet…

Um.  Love ya!


Saturday, June 13, 2015

Mission Home: April 5, 2000

Dear Brother and Sister Simper,

How thrilled we are to receive your son in Paraguay today!  The arrival of new missionaries is always a highlight of our month.  Sister Cheney and I look forward to that first moment when our new Elders and Sisters step off the plane and into our hearts.

The purpose of this letter is simply to let you know that your son has arrived safely, as evidenced by the enclosed photograph taken at the mission home.  We bring the new missionaries there for lunch and a few hours of orientation before sending them to witness a baptismal service.  After a good night's sleep, they are assigned to their first companion and sent to work.  The enclosed map will give you some indication of where your son has been assigned to labor for these first few months.

We are so appreciative of the parents who do so much to contribute toward their son's preparation for his mission, and to their success during this important time in their lives.  We hope that you will be faithful in letter-writing, constantly encouraging your son to greater effort and dedication as a full-time missionary.  We promise that we will do all within our power to help and protect and sustain your son as he serves the Lord among the chosen people of Paraguay.

May the Lord bless you and your family.


Craig S. Cheney
Paraguay Asuncion Mission

Mission Home: April 5, 2000

To the Simper family:

Here I am, sitting in the mission home, writing to you.  We've spent the last… wow.  Six hours in orientation.  It didn't seem like it at all.  Anyway, the flight was great.  The two sisters gave out two Books of Mormon on the plan.  I didn't, 'cause I never got an English one.  I got a whole four hours of sleep, broken up in four one-hour sections.  Not good.  I'm totally exhausted, but I don't really feel tired.  Ya know what I'm saying?  We're about to go to a baptismal service.  No, I'm not doing anything but starting my mission here in Paraguay.  Well, I've only got one more thing to say.  As we were flying over Asunción, about to land, I felt like I was coming home.  I know this is where I'm supposed to be, and I am so happy to be here.  Oh, one more thing, my mission president, President Cheney, and his wife are awesome.  I love all of you.


Okay.  I have more to talk about.  My address here is:

Elder Joseph D. Simper
Casilla de Correos 818
Asunción, Paraguay 1209

Letters generally take ½ to 3 weeks to get home.  Packages cannot be over 4 pounds.  Packages that are overweight go through customs will be kept and opened.  It'll cost a bundle in both time and money to get them.  Make sure you put the green internation slip on all packages, describing what the package contains.  It doesn't have to be exactly what it is, because Paraguayans can't read English anyway.  They just want the green slip.  You can get that at the post office.  And finally, my email address is:

[ed: email address removed to fight against spam bots]

with Elder Joseph D. Simper as the subject.  I can't send, but I can receive.  P-day is Monday, so I'll write more then.  Love ya!


PS Remind me to tell you about the car ride to the baptism!  ¡Ay!

Provo MTC: April 2, 2000

[ed: Some context.  This letter was written shortly after President Hinckley announced that new temples would be built in Asunción, Paraguay, where I would be serving as a missionary, and in Snowflake, Arizona, which is about thirty miles from my home.]


Wee!  Temples in Asunción and Snowflake!  I am so excited!  And, and, and!  I'll be in Paraguay in THREE days!  Wahoo!  Oh, and I'll be seeing all y'all on Tuesday.  That's groovy, too.

Here's responses to stuff in the letter that accompanied the package (by the way, the jerky was great!):

I saw Brother Jones last night… [ed: my seminary teacher in high school]
No letter… :(  He might be too late.

I bought a coin map...
Neat-o!  That's cool.  I managed to acquire a 1999 Susan B. Anthony dollar, uh... a while ago.

Who do you know from Australia?
Heh, heh, heh.

I made an executive decision here about an hour ago.  Since I will probably have returned home when the Asuncion temple is dedicated, I am going to fly there.  What better excuse to visit my mission than a temple dedication?  Plus, it would be awesome to attend the temple with some of the people that I will baptize.

Just a quick note of my thoughts for today.  See all of you on Tuesday!


Provo MTC: March 26, 2000

¡Familia! [tr: Family!]

¿Cómo está?  Estoy bien, pienso.  Es posible que esté equivocado, pero no pienso que sí.  De todos modos…  ¿Quieren una traducción ahora?  ¡Claro! [tr below]

How are you?  I'm good, I think.  It's possible that I'm mistaken, but I don't think so.  Anyway…  Do you want a translation now?  Sure!

Alrighty.  I'm gonna attack this monster letter now.  Here I go!

… Dad had an abdomen pain attack…
Oh, no!  That can't be good… [continue reading]

… he will be just fine!
Yay!  That's good!

So I wrote a speech and resigned from the board for health reasons…
I'm glad you got out of that, Mom.  There's been too much garbage going on with the school board lately.  I'm relieved that you don't have to be in the middle of it any more.

… Sarah has been called to be a counselor in the Beehive's!
Awesome!  ¡Felicitaciones, hermanita! [tr: Congratulations, little sister!]  I know you'll do a great job, Sarah.  Just remember that, as a leader, you are an example to the others.  Continue to lead a good life.  Something we hear a lot here is this: "Live so that those who know you, but don't know Jesus Christ will want to know him because they know you."  And one more thing: you go girl!  I am proud of you!

… Renaissance Festival.
Wee!  What fun!  That place is sooo cool!  Didja get the jester cap?

So, about the Guaraní scriptures&emdash;can you read them?
Heh.  Um.  No?  Let me share a scripture from it.

Ha che, Nefi, ha'e kuri che rúpe: Aháta ha ajapóta Ñandejára ojeruréva chéve, aikuaágui ha'e no me'êiha mba'eve tembiapoukapy omoîporã mboyve tape ojejapo haguã upe mba'e ojeruréva'ekue.

That was 1 Nephi 3:7.  Tough, no?  I hope to be able to read and speak Guaraní before I get home, but it won't be easy.

Oops.  Just dumped my water botter on my notebook.  That was smooth.  Oh, well.

My district is going to sing "We'll Bring the World His Truth" in sacrament meeting today.  We'll be doing it with another district.  They speak Mandarin Chinese.  It's gonna be so cool!  We'll sing the first verse in Spanish, then they'll sing the first verse in Mandarin, then we'll all sing the last two in English.  By the way, I bought a children's songbook in Spanish.  It didn't even cost me $4!

Hey, Dad.  Remember what you told me before I went to Canada?  "Honor your name" and be good and stuff like that?  Well, here's a little excerpt from a letter from Sara [ed: a friend that I met over the Internet.  I flew to Canada to visit her about a month before I entered the MTC.].  "Oh, my mom said to tell you that any letters you write here will be shared with the family… This is because she has pretty much adopted you now…"  Sounds like I did something right, ¿no?

Oh!  I guess I should talk a bit about my little enclosures.  I wanted to send something cool home to the fam, and I couldn't think of anything cooler than my nametag.  So I ordered one special for you guys.  Also, don't miss the HLJ ring for Sarah.  HLJ stands for "Haz lo justo", which is, of course, Spanish for "choose the right."  In addition, I've included pictures of each of the elders in my room, along with some others.  I especially like the prison picture.  Don't miss the Far Side cartoon!  It's about cows!

Okay, my pouch address will be as follows:

Elder Joseph D. Simper
Paraguay Asunción Mission
PO Box 30150
Salt Lake City, UT 84130-0150

Don't forget that only letters can be sent via pouch mail.  I don't wanna get in trouble.  I'll send my other address when I get it, in case you wanna send me pictures or cards or something.

Well, I need to go write a talk on love in case I get called on to speak in sacrament meeting.  I've got about an hour left.  Oops?  I think I'll be okay.

I love all you guys.  See you in NINE days!


PS Oh, no!  It starts at 1:30, not 2:30!  !Ay!  Sure hope they don't call on me…

Provo MTC: March 20, 2000

Hey Fam!

Sorry for the delay and for the shortness of this letter. I'll write a better one soon.  I've just got a few important things to discuss.

First off, please find the included FLIGHT PLANS!!!  Woohoo!  Please note that I've got a slight lay-over in Dallas.  Could you see if Aunt Darcy and Uncle Brian can meet me at the airport?

Second, and nearly as important, I finished the Book of Mormon yesterday.  Awesome, no?  When I finished it, I moved my bookmark from the back of the book to the front.  Today, I'll start again.

Love to chat more, but I gotta go work now.  ¡Hasta pronto!  [tr: See you soon!]


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Provo MTC: March 11, 2000

To the family:

Woohoo!  A package full of nummies and a letter in the same week!  Yay!  Um... uh... yeah.  I'll get to the letters now.  First, the one on the AWESOME cow stationary: retirement disability had been approved!
That's great news!  I finally got a at-home mommy!  But... I'm not at home to enjoy the at-home mommy... :(  Oh, well.  I'll survive!

If I were to go back to work, I'd lose money.  Pretty neat, huh?
That's all?  "Pretty neat"?  That is wonderful, spectacular, and flat-out groovy, baby!

Okay, now from the letter in the package: should be buried up to your "hoo-hoo" by now.
This is interesting here 'cause I read it on... uh... Wednesday, I think.  Wednesday was as sunny as can be.  We didn't get snow 'til Thursday or Friday.

Do you get to go outside and play in the snow?
Well, we haven't left class for that purpose, but we can at other times (not now, though, 'cause it's all gone).  I got a (hopefully) nice picture of Elder Miller and I outside my building with the snow making a nice backdrop.  I'll send a copy when I get it developed.

Ouch?  I haven't got any blisters, yet, but a couple of the other elders... wait, yes, I have.  I got one little one on day two, but it didn't hurt or even last more than a day.  Elder Pribyl got a couple monsters, though.  I'm talkin' an inch across easy.

...enjoy the goodies...  I hope you like them...
Plain M&M's.  Peanuts.  Aunt Edwina's ginger cookies.  TEXAS SHEET CAKE.  How on earth could I NOT like them?

This week has been pretty routine, with the exception of one thing.  Well, two actually.  The first one is sad.  My favorite teacher, Hermana [tr: Sister] Hopkin has been whisked away from us.  A new district came in, and there aren't enough teachers. :(

The other one is happy.  Last night we were doing a lesson on helping others feel and recognize the Spirit.  I was sharing experiences back and forth and then I was struck, like lightning.  I had been praying for quite some time to know that the Book of Mormon is true.  I felt like I hadn't received an answer.  Last night I realized that the Holy Ghost has been testifying to truth to me every single time I read.  I now know that the Book of Mormon is true.  I'd also like to add that, if you really want an answer to your prayers, listen for it.

I love all of you.


PS Like my sticker?

Provo MTC: March 9, 2000