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!