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