Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year, New Goals

Well, I am here in "Shopping del Sol," which looks just like an American mall, except the words are mostly in Spanish. There is even American music playing. It is weirding me out quite a bit. Asunción is definitely not Ciudad del Este. It was great to hear from you all, and see you when the video was working. That time flew by, but I am sure that is how it always goes. It won´t be long before we call again in May. I will probably still be here in Amambay. I have the feeling I will be here for a long time. President Agazzani really wants me to help turn around this ward and this zone.

This week I have gotten to work with both District Leaders in our Zone, doing exchanges and studies with them. Elder Portillo (from Argentina) is a great worker, and we found some miracles together. Elder Speedy (from Logan) is also an incredible missionary, but he has a tough branch to work with. There have been serious problems with the leadership and past missionaries, so he is trying to fix all that.

We are working hard to help our zone, especially through the district leaders, and I have discovered the importance of having other people in mind when you study. It really helps you learn more, especially when studying the lessons in chapter 3 of Preach My Gospel. The missionary handbook says we need to focus our study on that chapter, something I haven´t really done because I kinda felt like I already know it all. But there is really always much more to learn, study, be reminded of, and ponder. There are also many more good scriptures to use in the lessons that the ones that are in the lesson.

It has been another challenging week of finding new investigators (just one). We have run into a couple more atheists, who are so hard to help. For all their talk about science and truth, they close their minds and hearts to everything we testify of. I know there is only so much we can do, but do you have any ideas on how to help someone who has chosen to deny the existence of God?

I love getting emails from you all. Daniel makes me laugh a lot, and I am very happy for his success in the ACT. I hope you all fun this New Year´s Eve and that you remember daily how much the Lord has given us.

I am very excited for 2013. This entire year of my life will be devoted to the Lord and his work. I am grateful for the opportunity to serve other missionaries, and I feel great about the help I have given other missionaries in the first 6 months of my mission, even if I have not seen the success I have wanted with members and investigators. I love (most of) the people here, I love my savior Jesus Christ, and I will keep testifying of him as long as he lets me.

Con Amor*,
Elder Morgan

*With love

Monday, December 24, 2012

I'll Be Home for Christmas... if only by way of Skype

Sorry I did not explain everything last week. As I said, I was pretty sick. But I miraculously felt better the next day! I am here in Asunción, Barrio Amambay (one of the oldest in Paraguay). There are two sister missionaries who share the ward with us. The name is one of the few that is not based on the location. If you want to look up it on a map, look for Mercado 4. That is the big market with a lot of shops, poor people, and streets to avoid. We are right on the border between the two missions.

I was just thinking about Brother Buss when this ward was doing tithing settlements (fudge!). He was such a nice man. I can´t believe Danny had never seen It´s a Wonderful Life. I guess he will be even jollier now. If that´s possible.

We´ll talk tomorrow, so I won´t write too much. We have been busy this week with a zone conference, travelling to three other areas to study or teach with other missionaries, and just knocking on a lot of doors trying to find people (that is not something I ever had to do much of before). I just want to share one experience I had while on a companion exchange with Elder Speedy in Centro (one of the only areas in the mission more urban than ours). On the street we started talking to a Dutch man whose accent and blond hair made him seem very much like an Indiana Jones villain. I have never had someone attack my testimony like that (and in my own language). He basically said, "I am much older than you and I have investigated every religion there is. You don´t know that your religion is true, neither can you convince me. Religion just causes wars, I have my own relationship with God. Your religion does not accept people the way they are. People cannot change." Wow, that must be what missionaries in Europe have to deal with all the time (I worry about Elder Claypool often--he has it a lot harder than I do in many ways). I have only ever had to fight against corrupt tradicions with weak logic. Never have I had someone here say things like that so aggressively, but also very logically. It startled me, but I testified to him that I know what I have felt is an answer from God, and this much good could not come from a false religion. I tried to teach that the Atonement of Christ means that people CAN change, but he would not let us say much at all. Though it may not have helped him, it strengthened me. I felt like Jacob agains Sherem, or one of the other Book of Mormon prophets. I now know that our faith needs to be tried and tested if it is to become "unshakable."

-Elder Wesley Morgan

Monday, December 17, 2012

In the big city

Well, there you have a picture of my new companion, Elder Knudsen, and I. He is 24 and Argenitnian (very familiar). He was a Zone Leader in the neighboring zone back in Ciudad del Este, so I had met him once or twice. He is very laid-back and a great leader. He is patient with me as I learn, especially since he was also made a leader quite young in the mission. I really have been so lucky with companions. I was honestly expecting 8 of the 12 (average number of companions for a mission) to be full of trouble. I believe both of my past companions will soon be Zone Leaders and all of my future companions for the next space of time will have to be. What a blessing the Lord has given me.

That being said, I am sure I will have plenty of excitement with those I lead. We have already had to send one Elder out to an area in the middle of no where for his last few weeks of the mission for touching and threatening members. His companion. Elder Bravo--my friend from the last district, will have to be in a trio for this transfer. This week we also did studies with Elder Pavon, who just came from Mexico. It still seems like last week that the Zone Leader´s did that with me my first week. I think that helped me relate to him and give him the encouragment and advice he needed.

This city [Asunción] is huge, though my area is smaller than the last. There are lot of people who have pretty much nothing, a large market, and some very rich people. We also happen to have a lot of Koreans in our area, most of whom speak only Korean and the missionares have had zero success with them. Could you send me a few Korean phrases, like how to say hello a few differnt ways and "We are Missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints"? It may not convert them right away, but is a start. Maybe I will be able to communicate with Liz Hilton when she gets back. :)

We do a lot of walking, it is very hot, and I am fairly sick today (let´s hope it goes away soon). But hey, I know without a doubt that we are blessed for hard work. We only have one investigator I´ll mention this week. Her name is Vanina, and after a few lessons she says she has prayed and know the church is true. We just have to overcome family opposition and get her to church (it is like Maria again but 10 years younger). The members are a great support, so we will do our best to work with them as much as possible. I am definitely overomcing one of my last challenges--learning their names and the streets here--a lot faster than my last area. There are actually street names and numbers! Woohoo!

I don´t know how to say Merry Christmas in Guaraní...probably Navidad Porá! Haha you probably didn´t laugh at that as much as I did.

Rohayhu (I love you)
-Elder Morgan

Pictures from last week:

One of the pictures of Elder Morgan's hand signals from a lesson on prayer

Elder Morgan's newest investigator... just kidding!  His face is awesome in this picture.

Elder Morgan's new companion... just kidding again!

The last of the red dirt roads we'll be seeing for awhile now that Elder Morgan is in the city

Elder Nielsen and Elder Morgan at a ward activity

"And we have Lidia, her son, and Hermano Brisuela (Alma 13:24). He is pretty much my hero. Elder Nielsen thinks he is one of the 3 Nephites..."

Monday, December 10, 2012

What a week!

So, I had quite a few pictures to send you, none of which are working right now. I will try to send them next week. Grrr. I did take pictures of a Family Home Evening doing the hand signals lesson, me with a monkey, and a beautiful part of our area we went to for our ward party on Saturday. That was the infamous 8th of December, when many people travel (including walking) to visit the monument to the Virgin of Ca´acupé. It is a pretty big holiday, so members usually have an activity since the pilgrimage is obviously only for Catholics. Really though, we went out to that amazing part of our area twice this week, and it is gorgeous. This area is very big, and I do not think missionaries have been out there in a while. I am sure that field is white and ready to harvest. The one person we have been teaching out there is named Lidia. She is amazing. I wish I could tell you how many miralces and coincidences it took just to get to our first lesson, but I do not have time. In the words of Inigo Montoya, "I will sum up." She has come to church three weeks in a row now, and last Friday when we could not find anyone to teach we decided to go try to find the house of Hermano Brisuela, who told us about her. He is living here temporarily, but he is a returned missionary and has already taught her a lot of the lessons. She studied to be a nun but left because she realized it was not true. She has searched for the true church all her life and when we taught the first lesson she knew that the Bible supports everything we do. She has to come to this man´s house at nights so she can read the Book of Mormon and get answers to her questions because the people she lives with hit her children and have threatened to destroy any Book of Mormon they see. So even the situation at the beginning of that lesson was just a powerful testament that this is the true church. The Spirit got more powerful as we shared the story of Joseph Smith, and she easily accepted the invitation to be baptized THIS SATURDAY.

Unfortunately, Maria did not get baptized. We had an awesome lesson with her and the bishop where she said she would skip her meetings and come back to church...and then the night before her family said they would disown her. She said she will try to work with them. It was so disappointing. This has happened to me a few times in the mission, and it happened to two other missionaries in our district the same night. I still have hope for her, she has an incredible testimony. Unfortunately, she really wants me to baptize her, but that will not happen. We got a phone call yesterday from President Agazzani. Apparently I am going to be a Zone Leader*. I was shocked. I am the youngest missionary to be a Zone Leader as long as anyone can remember. I am thankful to the Lord for the experiences and abilities (like Spanish, which I did not have before the mission) he has given to me to prepare for this. I know that it does not make me any better than any other missionary. I am still very nervous to have so much responsibility, but a member we visited happened to give me exactly the scripture I needed--1 Kings 3:5-15. I also have Joshua 1:5-9, which helped me in the CCM as a District Leader. I don´t know where or with whom, but I am sure this will be quite the ride!

I have been reading those Christmas stories, which are quite nice. I definitely have a lot more of Christmas here than in many other countries: we still see the occasional tree, lights, or Santa Claus. I always love hearing about how the family is doing, and I was very excited to see that Jackie Clark is going to Indianapolis! That is so cool. I hope she gets sent to our Indy 2nd ward at some point.  Both of my companions have been great, but Elder Nielsen did work harder and was a little more obedient. I feel good about how I am leaving this area. He will be training a new missionary who gets to start off with an awesome baptism. There is also Alfredo and Fabiola, a great couple who has come to church a couple times. We will see what the future holds. Please keep praying for me, I am going to need it!

Elder Wesley Morgan

*In a mission, each companionship is part of a district, which is usually made of 4 to 8 missionaries.  (Remember when Elder Morgan was called to be a district leader in the CCM?)  A zone is made up of several districts, and Elder Morgan has been called to be in charge of one of the zones in his mission!  As he said, it is very rare for an elder this young to be called to this position.  But we all know Elder Morgan is awesome, so I don't think anyone is surprised.  :)

Monday, December 3, 2012

December has already arrived!

Time sure flies! It still seems like a few weeks ago that I was saying goodbye to you at the airport. Now I might be in the last week of of my first area. We´ll talk about that in a minute. First as always, the children of God that we are teaching. Maria is amazing to teach. We reviewed the baptismal interview and she will definitely pass it. She just has to find a way to get out of those meetings to get a house...or just not go to them. I don´t want to tell her to do that, because she has been going to them all year and it seems like she is close to getting one. But they seem like a scam to me and I know that obeying the Lord and being baptized (2 Nephi 31:11-12) will do her more good than anything else. We´ll see what we can do. We had FOUR people in church this week, two of which were actually in church last week, we just didn´t know! It is a lady who lives way out in the edge of our area, and a less-active member we did not even know has been bringing her.

There is also Alfredo and Fabiola Caceres who came to church. They are very intelligent, open people. I really enjoy teaching them. We just answer their questions and testify of what we know. It is awesome when people just understand. Pedro and Olga Caceres (they are not related so far as we know) are pretty similar. He always has a lot of questions about things like Polygamy and the Fall, but if we give him a scripture to read and a few days to think about it, he always feels the Spirit and gets to the right conclusion. He now understands the principle of obedience and revelation (how the Lord can change the laws of the church such as polygamy) better than a lot of members. We have one other couple, Ever and Perla, who could also progress. Our goal is to teach all of them with at least one member this week. We did not get our goal of 20 lessons with a member present, but that is okay. We are always learning better ways to work in this area.

Oh, I forgot to tell you about Vincent last week! He was my first lesson in English here in Paraguay. He was a Brazilian American who just travels around the world on his bike. He is pretty much a hobo, but he is pretty smart and loves nature. It was such an interesting lesson. I did enjoy testifying in English. I never realized that missionaries probably have to explain the language of prayer (thee/thou).

One thing we did to work more with the members was have a fun family home evening with the Portillo family (picture attached). I made snickerdoodles, which they and my companion loved (I gave him the recipe and he just made them again today). We had forgotten about Thanksgiving, so at dinner with them we all talked about things we were thankful for. It was a bit more comical than at home, but it is good to laugh with the members. I have been a bit disappointed with the lack of success so far with Elder Nielsen. I think I expected that when I got a missionary who was so obedient and experienced we would just baptize the whole world. But I have come to realize we may have been put together not so that we could have a lot of success now, but so that we could learn things to bring more success to the Lord´s work later. I do not know if I am staying this change, but I have decided to have the attitude that I will be here so I can keep wanting to help these people who are progressing. At the same time, I am trying to make sure everything is ready so that Elder Nielsen could stay if he has to.

We really have learned so much together, and I will sure miss him if he leaves. He sends a random request...could you send me that picture of me wrapping myself up for Rian that homecoming date? She was in a church music video, and he is just amazed that I know her AND have even gone on a date with her. It was really funny. He has been pretty sick, and we could not even go out to work yesterday (I did not enjoy that). Hopefully we will be raring to go tomorrow!

I still don´t believe the wrist-chip thing anymore than I believe the many people who are talking about the end of the wolrd (Matthew 24:36). Christmas does seem pretty big commerically here, though the people are not as wealthy. The 8th of December is an important day for a lot of Catholics who focus on Mary, but we will have to see how the rest of the season goes.

Now, the most exciting thing, MY PACKAGE!! I was so happy to get that. I only had to pay 15,000 Guaranies (3 or 4 dollars). I did decide it would be better to open it all because it would be hard to handle that if I leave next week (transfers are the 12th). I promise I will wait with the other one! I really did love it, even just getting a package was way exciting. I loved getting the things I had asked for: hymns, pedometer, and Peanut Butter, and you sent me some things I had been thinking about buying but did not ask for like scripture pencils and post-its. The mini-Predicad Mi Evangelio will be very useful for district meetings and Zone Conferences. There is a picture of how I translated the Plan of Salvation. Elder Nielsen also thanks you for the stocking. I love the decorations (except that crystal tree that did not survive), and I think out of the whole package my favorite thing may have been the motivational poster from the talk by Elder Uchtdorf. It means a lot to me that you remember that. We are handing out those pictures of the Nativity, listening to the Hamilton Singers, and loving this season. I would suggest you send a letter to any store that says Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas and read the December Liahona (Ensign). There are some great stories in there about Prophets and Missionaries at Christmas. Love you so much!

-Elder Wesley Morgan

P.S. You should know that one of the most common comments I get when I show people pictures is "Tu mamá es muy linda." :) *

*Your mom is very pretty.  :)

Monday, November 26, 2012

Every Member a Missionary!

Well, to overcome a tough week last week, we have tried to work a lot more with the members (one of the most important things you can do as a missionary). We decided to make it a goal in weekly planning, which we do on Thursdays, to try to have 20 lessons with a member present next week, which is the "Standard of Excellence. (Side note: at the beginning of my mission I was given the mistaken idea that those standards were expected of us every week...that gave me some pretty unrealistic expectations and was part of the reason the beginning of my mission was so difficult). Due to an explosion of lessons, we almost hit 20 THIS week--we were one short! So we will keep working hard and hope to reach our goal next week. Unfortunately we still did not have anyone in church or with a baptismal date...but there may be other ways to improve those things. That is the fun part about missionary work: there is alway something else to improve and half the battle is just finding out what it is.

Our two biggest hopes right now are Maria Villalva (still waiting for a miracle with her meetings) and Mariela, who we just started teaching this week. She has come to church with the members who live nearby a few times, and she seemed excited to get baptized this next week. But she did not want to tell us that she is living with her boyfriend, and I think that may have been why she did not come to church. We will see what we can do to resolve those problems and help her prepare to be baptized and confirmed the following week.

One other thing we are doing right now is teaching the members how they can do missionary work on their own. Preach My Gospel chapter 9 teaches 5 things they can do, and we added scriptures and hand signals to make it a fun lesson that they can remember. We have:
1. Pray and follow the Spirit (Mormon 9:21)
2. Give Service (Mosiah 2:17)
3. Make friends (Helaman 6:3)
4. Open Your Mouth (Doctrine and Covenants 33:8-10)
5. Invite others to strengthen their faith in Christ (Moroni 7:13)
That last part includes inviting people to come to church, talk to the missionaries, come to FHE, etc. I hope you all do those things, too! God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power. Just have faith. :)

The other thing we are focusing on is helping people feel more comfortable in lessons so they can learn by the Spirit. We had a lesson this week where that happened and the people just asked everything they had been worrying about. Elder Bednar did a great job of that in the conference we had--he made us feel like we could ask anything. He also taught us a few things we can do to help people feel comfortable. We do not want them to just say what they think we expect, because they will not progress. Really, I am learning that it is always worth it to obey, study, and everything else that helps us have the Spirit. There is just no way to help people change without it.

I really do not miss much food from home. My companion showed me how to make french toast sticks and maple syrup, and it was nice to have that again. We are trying to learn a lot of new things to make. Unfortunately, most of the things I made in college needed a crock pot or George Foreman grill, and a lot of the recipes you sent me with require many things I also do not have access to. But we are trying to make other simple things like pizza. I am teaching Elder Nielsen singing techniques, which is interesting. He is a super fun missionary. Side note for the blog: he is not really receiving any letters and he gets back in July, so if any girl wants to write an awesome future RM, his first name is Matthew and they can send letters the same way they would to me.

President Agazzani does not come out here that often (about every 3 months), so we were pretty lucky. And we are about a 5 or 6 hour drive from Asunción. I do pray for everyone in the family--especially Karen--and I will be sure to pray for Grandma more too. Glad to hear you all enjoyed Thanksgiving...I did not even remember it. But I am trying to be more thankful in my prayers! Thank you for all you do and have done for me. Love you lots!

-Elder Wesley Morgan

Monday, November 19, 2012

Visit from President Agazzani!

I love hearing about my fellow-laborers in gather Israel! Haha, I am sure Trevor is an awesome trainer, and I do feel bad for Makade being in such a tough mission. That is pretty crazy how similar Corbin´s mission is. The difference is that we do not get rejected very often. The people here are too nice to reject us directly. They just make up excuses or don´t do anything we ask them to....honestly it would just save us time sometimes if they just told us they were not interested. Every mission has its challenges and blessings. And we really do not have much to update about investigators, because we dropped even more of them after no one at all came to church. This was the first time in my mission that happened, but only because I have had a lot of miracles on Sundays. Ismael and Patricia, despite our best efforts, have lost interest. The Gamarra family is awesome and I would love to baptize 15 people, but they need to start coming to church. They have started to read the Book of Mormon, so we will decide when we stop by if we will really drop them. Our one hope is Maria Villalva, who is awesome! She always tells us about times she has shared her testimony or overcome tempation to drink coffee or alcohol. She has so much faith. Unfortunately she has to go to a meeting every Sunday for a few more weeks so she can get a house. We are praying often with and for her so she can be baptized, confirmed, and stay active in the church as soon as possible.

Elder Morgan, President Agazzani, and Elder Nielsen
Other than that, we are doing all we can to find new investigators. We had a day where we found 10 new people! It was awesome. We met with a juvenile delinquent center and the local army barracks (which Elder Nielsen loved) to see if we can start teaching classes there. We do need approval from President Agazzani for that. Speaking of that, you can see that he came to visit us! He and his wife came to our Zone training, which was amazing as usual. Then they stopped by our house the morning to do studies with us, which was quite enjoyable. That picture of the three of us would be great to put somewhere on the blog in a permanent place. Also, we talked a lot about rules and I have to ask you to inform people that I am absolutely not allowed to read or send emails to anyone who is not a parent, grandparent, or sibling. So please ask everyone else not to email me (I have to delete it), but to send it to me by Dear Elder (which would be more exciting for me anyway!).

"My shoulders have been getting pretty orange and dirty from my backpack, sweat, and this hot, dusty climate. So, to look more like a representative of the Lord, I bought a shoulder bag. I also cut and resewed the strap to make it into a waist-bag. (I still use my backpack occasionally). It would be a good idea for any missionary going to a similar climate to bring a large waist pack. :)"

I am always learning a lot as we study and put new things in practice. We came up with a great example to explain why people need to come to church to receive an answer. We love it because it forces the investigators to think and come up with the answer themselves, which we are trying to do a lot more. Here it goes: There is a blind and deaf man sitting in his house, and he wants to know if it is raining outside. What can he do? (Go outside). But how will he know if it is raining? (He has to FEEL it). I also have learned that it is so important to teach in a place where there is not a lot of loud music nearby (which happens often here), because if the Spirit is not there to teach we are wasting our time and breath.

Pretty landscape photo of Paraguay
A few more cultural things. There are always guys on motorcycles who ride around and sell chipa. I enjoy the Chipa, but they have these recordings of an announcer talking about how good the chipa is that you sure get sick of hearing. Also, Paraguayans think you will die if you eat milk and watermelon together. We have a lot of good laughs about that. Really though, I am learning to like/tolerate a lot of foods that I always hated: coconut, mayo, egg salad, fish. The mission sure does change you. I am sending this late because we have been helping Elder Martinez, who has been very sick with bronchitis. Please remember him in your prayers. And maybe me, too. ;)

Elder Wesley Morgan

Monday, November 5, 2012

"Jorgelina. Miembro de la Iglesia. Bautizada."

Well, I am still here in Ciudad del Este 2.2. Elder Izurieta left for Coronel Oviedo, where he will be companions with Elder Adamson! I love my new companion, Elder Matthew Nielsen! The picture attached is of him. He is a hard worker who walks fast, talks to everyone, and knows how to work with members. That is one thing we are trying to do more of. The more I think about it, the less it makes sense to work in an area where there are no members. People need the support and the friendship of members if they are going to come to church, commit to make changes in their life including baptism, and stay active in the church. Elder Nielsen has also already taught me a lot about setting achievable goals. I love doing that! I don´t know how long I will get to work with him, but I am sure we will have a lot of success and fun together while it lasts. Elder Nielsen has lived a lot of places, including Brazil (he speaks Portuguese), and most recently was in New York attending West Point. He was the mission secretary, and it is interesting you should mention the office because he says I am the type of missionary who will probably be in the office soon. I think I would like that! We´ll see.

Elder Morgan says, "My favorite part about these pictures is Hermano Benitez. He is wearing Sergio`s blue shirt because he and Elio Martinez, the ward mission leader, lent their clothes to Sergio at the last minute for the wedding."

More exciting news, as you saw from the picture in the emails with the pictures, Sergio and Blásida finally got married and baptized! It was very stressful because they were very late, even though we did a lot to get them there early. We also had to run and make copies of our passports so we could be witnesses, and then the font started to flood (for once we actually had too much water). Once that all settled down, it all went well and it was a spiritual experience for all. This was the first time I got to do the baptism...which is amazing. I cannot wait to do that again. It could happen soon with Ismael and Patricia, who are still waiting to receive an answer that the church is true. We talked about that in our district meeting and someone suggested that they might need to repent to receive that revelation. Sure enough, we talked to them about their situation and he admitted he feels really bad that he did not get married before moving in together. So they agreed to get married this Saturday! More weddings! They need to attend church at least once more before getting baptized, so hopefully that will be next week. The other people we are working a lot with is the Gamarra family, another huge family of mostly adults (the other one, the Villalva family, is looking grim right now. Their dad does not want us to come by, but Maria still tries to come to church). They always ask very interesting questions, and they are a little set in their religion, but I really have hope for them. If we can help them all, that would be over 15 baptisms! That would probably be the happiest day of my life.

Two more interesting experiences. First, I got to help the primary practice for their program by playing piano. Difficult, but a lot of fun. We also got to visit Jorgelina, a lady in our ward who is very close to dying of cancer. She has wanted the sacrament and a blessing from the missionaries for a while but her family has not let us come by until now. The title [of this email], which means "Member of the church, baptized," is about all she could say. It was such a touching experience. She is great. I read Alma 46:39-41 this morning and thought of her.

Now, to answer your questions. I never thought to compare alfajors to moon pies. They are usually a little crunchier and more delicious. Haha, and I was just saying that I got used to keeping my distance from girls, not that the girls in Utah are as bad as the ones here. Paraguayans do not play baseball, but I have seen them play something that looks like cricket, but two on two. It is suprising how well I can already communicate a lot of basic things in Guaraní. I can teach you a bit. Remember that in Guaraní, the ch makes a sh sound. "Mba´e" means how or what. So the three common ways to say hi to people (how are you) are "Mba'eichapa," "Mba'eitecopio," and "Mba'elaporte." I can kind of explain what each of those words mean...but it`s not worth it. What is your name is "Mba'aicha nde rera?." And "my name is" would be "Che rera..."

Great to hear about the cars, Steelers Game, Star Wars, etc. I keep praying for you, and I hope all is well. Let me know if there is anything else I can do for you or tell you about. Love you all!

-Elder Wesley Morgan

Missionaries waiting outside the church at 4 AM to go to the missionary conference Wesley mentioned in his last post.

The "beautiful landscape of Paraguay"

Elder Morgan and Elder Izurieta with the Baez family

Monday, October 29, 2012

"Seek Learning By Faith"

Before everything, I have to say that the conference was amazing. It was pretty fun riding on a bus with 40 missionaries and waiting outside the church at 4:00 in the morning. Not something you see every day. It was great to see missionaries I know from this mission, but I also got to see all the missionaries from the North mission that were in my group in the MTC, including my pal Elder Bayles. I also saw Elder Joshua Thomson from Orem High who is 2 weeks from going home. He is happy, spiritual, and seems almost Paraguayan now. I am sure he has been an excellent missionary.

Well, Elder Bednar really is an inspired man. He started off telling us we would not follow two stupid traditions people in the church have. 1. We should not write down every single thing he says ("Large Plates") because no one ever uses those notes. We should write down the inspiration we recieve ("Small Plates") so that we will want to apply what we learn. 2. He said he would not play the "Guess what´s in my head" game that teachers in the church, including us as missionaries, often do. He is right, we really should never ask questions like "What are the three things Moroni says we need to do..." because that is trying to get them to learn how we want them to. We need to ask questions to see their progress and then help them continue to learn by the Spirit. Most of the day was focused on treating people like agents who can learn for themselves, not objects who just receive lessons. He demonstrated that during the conference itself, as it was mostly a question and answer session about the talks he had given us to read: "Seek Learning by Faith" (given at a CES conference in Jordan in 2006) and "Ask in Faith" (given in conference, I think). Those are both about teaching people to teach themselves, and I encourage you to find and read them if you can.

The best part about it? We are already putting it in practice. We went to the Villalva family on Sunday for lunch and watched "Together Forever." That really touched their hearts. Maria said she does not care what her dad thinks, she will come to church and hopes that someday her whole family will get baptized. Her mom does not mind--she reads about 10 chapters a day in the Guarani Book of Mormon we gave them! Her sister Silvina said that she will come to church and support her. They also talked about their nephew who recently died, and we testifed of how you can find hope in Christ. We really did not have to do much more in that lesson than ask questions and testify. We let the Spirit do the teaching, which is a great feeling. I feel like I have gone up to a whole new level of missionary work.

As far as our other investigators, Sergio did not finish his paperwork, despite his wife and us reminding him often. That was really frustrating. He has a testimony, but I don´t know if he has truly been converted yet (putting what he knows in practice). We´ll see what happens with them. Ismael and Patricia did not attend church so it will be at least another week before their baptism. They believe it is all true, but he explained to me that he just does not have a testimony yet that this is the ONE true church. Nora, however, could be baptized this week. She is an investigator to whom we taught the first lesson, but then she moved into another part of our ward. The missionaries there taught the rest of the lessons (without knowing we had taught her), and then she moved back into our area. All she needs to do know is quit smoking. She is a funny one. And Reynaldo, our recent convert, is still going strong.

A few more things about Paraguay culture: We do have to watch out for "snakes" (women with bad intentions). Luckily I had a couple years of practice before my mission trying to keep my distance from girls. Now I am really glad I did that. Also, everyone talks to us. Even if they hate us, if we come up to them and ask for directions or something, it is almost like they are obligated to help us. It is just part of their culture to talk to anyone. Pretty funny. They are poor, but it is surprising how happy they are with what they have. We often ask them what they want in life, and they really don´t feel like they lack much. All they need is a job so they can feed their family, a roof and a few walls, and maybe a Bible or a TV to watch fútbol. Also, whatever they have, they are always willing to share. Great people.

I am so happy to get emails from all my siblings and hear about all the exciting things in your life! And the 4000 missionaries every week! Wow! (great to here that Eve, Maggie, and Bubba got mission calls!). I got the absentee ballot but I don´t think there is time to send it. I am sure you will vote for Romney for me anyway. Elder Hinton is doing great--he really knows how to teach well and his area is baptizing more than the rest of our district combined. It`s called Minga Guazú and thanks to their great branch president, it is growing very fast. Elder Brown, Elder Smith, and Elder Adamson are all doing well in their areas, and we will have officially been trained THIS wednesday. Who knows what will happen with transfers? If I don´t send an email next is because I have been sent to a place where there is no internet access. Haha, that is very unlikely. Please pray for me in this time of changes, and know that I continue to pray for everyone in the family with their individual challenges. Love you all!

-Elder Wesley Morgan

P.S. I can sometimes understand Portuguese! How cool is that?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Bittersweet Baptism

First, to explain the pictures and the title. Remember Reynaldo and Rocío? Well, she finally decided that she was not sure about getting married and left to go live with her mom in Asunción. That was really depressing. We tried so hard, and she had changed so much. But she gave it all up. (Kinda like the Aguínaga famliy, who we visited again but still want to go to the Iglesia Belén instead of ours). Well, she says she still wants to get baptized...but she left her husband and her oldest son (he is the little guy in the picture, she took the two baby girls with her). This Gospel is about Forever Families. The Baez family, Reynaldo´s brother and family who he lives with, had more drama. Dariel, their oldest son (they have 7 kids, most of which could not come to the baptism), ran away from home and did drugs with his friends for a few days. But he came back and they are all doing much better (he is the one in the red jacket). I am sure having a lot of grown-up experiences for being 19. But I guess you have to enter the real world at some point. Well, in spite of it all, Reynaldo showed a lot of faith wanting to continue with the baptism and now preparing for the Priesthood. He is a champ! And maybe next week you will be seeing me in white...if Sergio finally gets his Cedula done. We really want them to get baptized before the end of the transfer and one of us leaves. Ismael and Patricia did not attend church, so it will be at least another week or so for them. We also have a new awesome family, the Villalvas. José and Aniana are very old but a lot of fun to talk to. He does not want to be baptized again, but they are both reading the Book of Mormon and loving it. Aniana recently had surgery and can´t come to church, but their daughter Maria is going to come to church this week with her kids. She will probably be the first in that family to be baptized. There are 12 kids in total, and apparently they all get together every Sunday for a big lunch. We are going this Sunday, and should be a lot of fun! (and maybe in a year we´ll be sealing them all together in a year ;)).

Now to answer your questions from this week and last. We do not hear much about the North mission, but surely we will this Saturday! Did Truman list any of the same girls I did as suggestions for missions? Glad to hear all about Daniel and Orem football. I did know about Ty and Shayne´s dad. He was the one who took all those pictures. Pretty sad to hear. Many people have wood or tile floors, but there also plenty with just dirt. Not many people have cars or bikes, they usually just walk or take the bus. I have no idea about gas prices. Milk would be about $3 a gallon, about $4 a pound for ground beef (it is hard to do the kilogram and guarani conversions in my head) $2 for a loaf of bread (but we usually buy a lot of rolls, which are cheaper and easier). We shop at the Gran Vía supermarket, but I actually think it would be more fun to be in a place where we bought food at street stalls.

This week I have gotten to do interchanges THREE times because of baptismal interviews and my companion´s emergency trip to Asunción to do with Elder Hinton, the Orem-ite, we studied and then really tried to apply focusing on the people, not the lessons. That really worked, such as when we taught a man who did not want to change religion, but loved the Book of Mormon. We read Mormon 7 with his family, and they asked US when we could come back! I still need to improve my listening and question-asking skills. I also learned to avoid contention while working with Elder Escoffre. At times people want to argue about doctrine, but I learned it is best to say, We understand what you are saying, but we just want to explain that what we believe is a little different. Then they will allow us to express our beliefs, and maybe something will ring true to them. Elder Escoffre is from France, and I spoke to him with what little French I remember. He taught me a bit, and was impressed with my accent. Guess it is in my blood. It has been a great week. Last P-Day we tried to play Piki as a district. It is like volleyball but without hands. So hard. Paraguayans are so much more coordinated than us. I also learned to make Reviro, which is pretty much fried flour. Cheap, good food. Loving life down here, and this week, with the baptisms (we hope) and conference with Elder Bednar should be awesome. Love you!

-Elder Wesley Morgan

Monday, October 15, 2012

We are in the Lord's hands

First and foremost, investigator update. Rocío was having a lot of doubts about if she could stay faithful after being baptized. We had a really powerful lesson last Monday where we read Ether 12:27 with her and assured her she was important to God. She and Reynaldo accepted the baptismal date, but unfortunately it did not go through because she does not have a Cedula (ID). Supposedly she can get a Contraseña (temporary ID) this week, but now she is doubting their marriage again. With the Lord´s help, I am sure we will be able to help her overcome her doubts and be baptized this Saturday. Sergio is finally working on getting his Cedula, so he and Blásida should also finally be baptized this week! Daisy is still a great example for them. She is about to turn 10. Unfortunately, Freddy and Antonia decided they want to join the Iglesia Belén (Bethlehem Church). That was pretty tough, and we are going to try to teach them one more time to see what we can do. We also finally talked to Aníbal for the first time in a while, and he is working on his divorce. With all these issues, it would be easy to say that I had been robbed a of a few baptisms, but that is not the attitude to have. They aren´t my baptisms, they are the Lord´s. I can do very little, but he lets me be an instrument in his hands. When they are ready, he will let us bring them into his church.

Conference was amazing! Yes, I do wear my sandals, pretty much everywhere. Any missionary coming to Paraguay should buy really good sandals. Also, my glasses are getting pretty scratched up. It is almost to the point where I can see better without them. What do you think I should do?

Great to hear about all the rest of the news of the family.  I did get Tony's email just barely.  Hopefully I will have time to respond to you all next week.  Also, Brittany may want to know that there was a time change here.  (Our little blog clock updated automatically!  So we're all set.)  We are now 3 hours ahead instead of two.  One more question, just out of curiosity.  How many people did Dad baptize in France?  On the topic, I guess I'd be interested to hear how many from Tony and from your dad if you remember.

I love you all. Stay strong the faith. Thank you for your support!

'Elder Wesley Morgan

Elder Morgan's favorite treat - alfajors!
Elder Morgan's handy skills - fixing his own tie.  He was proud enough to send this picture, so it's going on the blog.  :)

One of Elder Morgan's favorite quotes from General Conference.  This is taped on his desk.

Empanadas that Elder Morgan's companion taught him to make

Visual aid from a lesson Elder Morgan taught this week (click on the pictures for bigger pictures): This was a lesson about the law of tithing and fast offerings.  This list shows the requirements we are given to follow.  Not very long.

This other side shows the list of blessings we get if we follow that short list of requirements...

...and the blessing list just keeps going and going and going!  We only are asked to do so little, and we are blessed so much.  Elder Morgan said you can do this with any principle of the gospel.  (Also, isn't he cute?!  He's so excited to share the gospel message.)

Monday, October 8, 2012

Amazing General Conference!

Sorry again about the email from last week not sending. Hope that doesn´t happen again. Or maybe I´ll get sent to an area with no internet access someday...haha, we will see. Before I talk about the awesome conference, I am going to send you the recap of our 5 main families that I sent to President Agazzani to keep you updated on our investigators, and so you don´t feel like I am not writing enough in Spanish. ;)
*En nuestro planeamiento semenal, tuvimos 5 familias (11 personas) que podían bautizarse ésta semana (el 13). La mayoría no asistieron, entonces no todos van a bautizar esta semana, pero todo de ellos deberían ser bautizados este mes.
Sergio y Blásida Herrera: Bautizar Daisy fue una decisión inspirada. Ella es un buen ejemplo por ellos. Lee y ora cada día, y siempre ora para que puedan ser bautizados. Todavía están esperando su plata para conseguir sus papeles, pero el otro desafía ahora es la Palabra de Sabiduría. Sergio toma a veces y Blásida fuma uno o dos cigarrillos cada día. Ellos saben que la iglesia es verdadera, pero no sabemos como ayudarles el próximo paso para seguir el Señor.
Reynaldo y Rocío Baez: Asistieron la Conferencia! Y vieron el bautismo después! Ellos quieren bautizarse, pero la cosa es que su fecha era para el 20, y están listos ahora. Hoy vamos a intentar otra vez convencerles a hacerlo una semana antes, porque nunca es demasiado pronto para vivir la ley de Castidad, tener una familia mejor, recibir la remisión de pecados, y empezar una vida nueva como un discípulo de Cristo.
Ismael y Patricia Sanchez: No asistieron a la Conferencia porque la Familia Ramos, que les debían haber buscado, no se fue. El tiene mucho interés, pero todavía no ha recibido una respuesta que debe ser bautizado. Ella no ha recibido muchas de las lecciones, y estamos tratando a ayudarles a leer juntos para que ella pueda tener un testimonio también.
Carlos y Angelica Ramirez (todo de estos apellidos son de los hombres ahora; ninguna pareja está casada) : Él es el hombre que caminó a la iglesia la otra semana. Además dijo que ha sabido todo su vida que esta es la iglesia verdadera! Hay problemas en su relación, entonces éso va a ser un desafío.
Freddy y Antonia Aguínaga (y su hermana Selva): Ellos debían haber sido bautizados hace mucho tiempo. Me dio cuenta que somos los primeros misioneros que han sido serios sobre compromisos con ellos. Antes, pensaron que estabámos allí para cantar himnos y charlar un poco. Tienen testimonios de la iglesia, pero no quieren hacer las cosas pequeñas para progresar. Les amo mucho, pero sí no empiezan a cambiar, vamos a tener que dejarles.
Well, that was a lot! We are also finding a lot of new people all the time. On the street of the Baez family we found two other less active families. It is funny and sad that there were three member families on the same street who did not know that the others were members of the Church. This week we finally got to do service! I loved that. We helped the Portillo family rebuild their house. All we did was move bricks and boards, but it was fun. It has also been reeeally hot. It is 43 degrees Celsius right now, but it´s not all that bad. I got to do companion exchanges twice this week, which was a lot of fun. With Elder Gary Nielson, I was listening to "El Yivneh Hagalil" and he said he remembered the BYU Men´s Chorus coming to sing that at the MTC. After talking for a bit, we realized that was when I gave my talk there, which he remembered. Pretty cool!
So, NOW I understand why missionaries are so excited for Conference. I learned a lot and felt the Spirit strongly, as always, but this conference is going to change my life. My favorite talk by far was by President Uchtdorf about enjoying the moment. That is a problem I have had all my life, and it has gotten worse on the mission. I am always worrying about the time rather than the people we are with. I loved his analogy about music--we don´t just listen for the last note. I have to be happy with who I am and what I am doing, and I am definitely working on that now. I also loved the talks by Elder Ballard, Elder Bednar, Elder Bowen, President Eyring (Sunday Morning), Sister Burton, and everyone else. :) I was impressed with how up-to-date this conference was, speaking about important issues like abortion and same-gender attraction. I love the unequivocable way Elders Anderson and Oaks talked about our position on those issues. I can also testify, like Elder Whiting, the high standards of temple construction after touring the Buenos Aires temple. The amount of money spent on temples is insane. I loved Thomas S. Monson´s talk in Priesthood, especially when he said we need to picture the people we meet as they will be when they get baptized. That is something we already do and will try to improve. All the music was amazing, and my favorite was Shane Warby singing "Does the Journey Seem Long" after President Packer used it in his talk. Elder Gonzalez repeated the invitation to be baptized that he gave to everyone in Paraguay and Uruguay at our recent regional conference (including his mother). When Elder Cook mentioned those huts in the amazon with Satellite dishes--yeah, that is definitely Paraguay, too. I wish I could comment on everything, but suffice it to say that if you were listening to something and thought, "Wesley probably really liked that," then yes, I did.
And how about that announcement about the mission ages changing?! WOOOOW! That was incredible. I cannot even begin to fathom what that is going to mean. The best way to state the significance of that would be to quote Elder Dyer, who was sitting next to me at the time, "These truly are the last days." I would love to hear what Daniel´s plans are now. I know that this should all be considered prayerfully. Ah! I am still so excited! I wish you could have been in the room when we found out. (The picture I sent is the missionaries in the English room in the Stake Center. That was when we were singing Called to Serve). Also, knowing that this will be posted on the blog, I would like to suggest that the following sisters prayerfully consider preparing to serve: Stevie Carr, Mariah Kerr, Missy Marsden, Jackie Clark, Liz Hilton, Sophie Siebach, ShaNae Foster, ReyLynn Reid, Jasmine Jones, Maddie McCann, Haley Wilson, Sheri Millard, and Maryn Abunuwara. Those are just a few suggestions, of course, and for all I know they are all married by now. Now more than ever, I would love to hear updates on mission calls and marriages.

One last thought from conference. Elder Bowen´s talk made me think about Dad, but his and Elder Perry´s talks also made me think about my relationship with you, Mom. I love and miss you a lot, and I realized that besides taking care of me, you were also my best friend. You talked to me and helped me with so much. Like Elder Perry, I am appreciating the little things you did for me. I hope you´re proud of the good work I am doing, and I will try to keep doing it better ever day.
Elder Wesley Morgan
*In our weekly planning, we had 5 families (11 people) that could be baptized this week (on the 13th).  The majority didn't come to church, so they will not be baptized this week, but all of them should be baptized this month.
Sergio and Blásida Herrera: To baptize Daisy was an inspired decision.  She is a great example for them.  She reads and prays every day, and always prays that they will be baptized. Still they are waiting for money to get their marriage papers, but the other challenge now is the Word of Wisdom.  Sergio drinks sometimes and Blásida smokes one or two cigarettes a day.  They know that the church is true, but we don't know how to help them to take the next step to follow the Lord.
Reynaldo and Rocío Baez: They attended Conference!  And they saw the baptism after!  They want to be baptized, but the thing is that the date was going to be the 20th, and they are ready now.  Today we are going to try once again to convince them to do it the week before, because it's never too soon to live the law of chastity, have a better family, receive a remission of sins, and begin a new life as a disciple of Christ.
Ismael and Patricia Sanchez: They didn't attend Conference because the Ramos family, who should have picked them up, didn't go.  He's very interested, but he still hasn't received an answer that he should be baptized.  She hasn't had many of the lessons, and we are trying to help them read together so that she can have a testimony also.
Carlos and Angelica Ramirez (all of these last names are of the men now; neither couple is married): He is the man who walked to church the other week.  He also said that he has known all his life that this is the true church!  There are problems in their relationship, so this is going to be a challenge.
Freddy and Antonia Aguínaga (and his sister Selva): They should have been baptized a long time ago.  I realized that we are the first missionaries that have been serious about commitments with them.  Before, they thought that we would be there to sing hymns and chat a bit.  They have testiomonies of the church, but they don't want to do the small things to progress.  I love them a lot, but if they don't begin to change, we will have to leave them.

Monday, October 1, 2012

¡¡Primer Bautismo!!*

As you can see from the pictures, we had our first baptism this week! It all started with the interviews on Thursday we had with President Agazzani. I was a little nervous because some of the missionaries were telling me about some of the harsh things past Mission Presidents here have done, but it turned out to be good old, laid-back President Agazzani like I expected. He gave us a lot of great advice, including the fact that we can baptize Daisy Herrera! We have been waiting so long for Sergio and Blásida, we did not realize she did not need to wait. It was quite the adventure getting everything ready, including emptying the font with buckets & rags so we could clean it. And due to the late notice, pretty much no one else showed up. But it was a great experience for everyone. I got to give a short talk about the Holy Ghost, one of your classic, basic talks for a primary child who is being baptized. But, most importantly, this motivated Sergio to work extra and do all the paperwork he needs to so they can be married and baptized this week! Also, Rosillo came up to us after church and said she definitely wants to be baptized on the 20th! And, after weeks of saying he would come, Ismael & Patricia showed up at the last minute to sacrament meeting. It was truly a Sunday of miracles.

I also have to give a shout-out to our ward mission leader Elio Martinez. He is a convert less than a year, but if he didn´t tell you, you would never know. He is a big guy who rides a motrocycle (reminds me of Hagrid, but he is bald and has glasses), and he has such a powerful testimony. Last Monday we had FHE with him, the Vargas Family, and the Herrera Family. We watched Finding Faith in Christ, and spent most of the lesson eating pizza while the members shared their testimonies. It was a great night. Hermano Martinez also helped us with Freddy and Antonia Aguínaga, who were having marital problems again. Though it was hard to even get them to talk to us, by the end of his powerful pep talk, they were crying and holding each other. It was another powerful lesson with him.

This week I did exchanges with Elder Beatty, one of the Zone Leaders. I love doing exchanges, I always learn so much. He taught me how to focus more on teaching principle by principle, and not moving on until they understand. For example, if they don´t get why a prophet is important, the Restoration will not be that significant to them.

I am very excited for General Conference (we do get to hear it live), but I do not feel like some of the other Elders who say they are so much more excited than before their mission. Maybe that is because I have always loved it. More exciting news, Elder David A. Bednar and Elder Mervyn B. Arnold are comig on the 27th to do a conference for all the missionaries in Paraguay! Also, our mission had 115 baptisms this last month. It is the first time we broke 100 in a while, but our goal is to stay above that from here on out.

Hmm....more on the culture here? Have I told you about mate or tereré? It is an herbal drink that everyone drinks through those metal straws. Missionaries are not allowed to drink it, which may be because of past missionaries who did not know how to drink it, or because everyone uses the same straw. They share everything here; their hygiene sure is different. But seriously, they are always drinking tereré. Always. And their cups or wampas, usually have the one of the logos of Cerro Porteño or Olimpia, the two biggest soccer teams. There is a HUGE rivalry between them, and I have chosen not to take sides.

I am pretty happy, and I really love working with Elder Izurieta. We are hoping that this month will be full of more baptisms and confirmations, so get ready to post a lot of pcitures!

I love you all,
Elder Wesley Morgan

*First Baptism!

Monday, September 24, 2012

There is Power in the Book of Mormon

This week, we have focused so much more in teaching from the Book of Mormon. That book really is the key to gaining a testimony of this church. Our investigators are starting to realize that we are going to ask about their reading and assign them chapters to read EVERY visit. But we also need to remember that our job is more than just that. As I learned from the Da Silva family, that´s what preachers from other religions do with the Bible when they come to houses. We are here to love, support, pray for, encourage, and serve these people. I found a comparison, or maybe even a parable, this week that helps describe how we should use the Book of Mormon. Often we find people whose motorcycles or cars need help (like our investigator Carlos Ramirez, who arrived at church 20 minutes before it ended because he had to walk half the way after his motorcycle died :D what a guy). In those moments I have wished that I knew enough about engines to fix all their problems, and then they would say "Wow, these missionaries are great! We should listen to them and attend their church." But that is not the case. All we can do is help them push their car up the hill, or other similar service. And, if they want to listen to our message after, they will listen. It is the same with the Book of Mormon. At times people will tell us about their problems, and I freak out trying to think of the chapter that will solve that exact problem. But that is not what we do. Preach My Gospel chapter 5 explains a lot about how we should use the Book of Mormon. We testify and invite people to read it, focusing on the parts that will help them understand the doctrine and gain a testimony. Then, if they are willing to do that, the Spirit will help them find the answers to their own problems, and they will resolve their own concerns.

The difference when people read or not is usually pretty obvious. For example, Sergio and Blásida Herrera were pretty depressed last Sunday because he still isn´t receiving his salary, so they are not even sure how long they will have enough to eat. We promised them if they read and prayed every day, they would be blessed with the money they need. The first half of the week, they read every day, and they were so much happier. (Side note: They also loved my brownies...which were tough to make. I discovered that a stick of butter here is a lot bigger than in the US, so I had to remake the batter. Also, all we have to measure is half a cup, so I really don´t know how to measure tablespoons or teaspoons). However, by the end of the week they had gotten casual with reading and Sergio chose the faster way to deal with problems--drinking. We talked to them a while, and they realized that drinking will not help. We went and got them Sunday morning, and it was fun to bring them and all three little girls to church! Hopefully this week things will change for them.
Reinaldo and Rosillo, the investigators from Stake Conference, are very diligent about reading, but they did not attend church. I think they will next week, because their testimonies are making progress. José, the husband of Paola, a recent convert, is another tough situation. He reads the Book of Mormon with her, but he is very Catholic and refuses to come to church. We´ll see what we can do. Freddy and Antonia, on the other hand, did not read at all. They chose to attend another church with their uncle. They are so close to being baptized, and I really love them, but they have to make the decisions to keep progressing. I really am learning a lot of patience here. One more update: Aníbal has a strong testimony and is very ready to be baptized....except that he is living with a woman who is not his spouse. He has a wife who he left but never divorced because it is expensive and takes a long time. It looks like now he will have to do that, or maybe move out so he can be baptized. We really don´t know what to do. But Lucio Vargas, the newly reactivated member who has helped us teach him said something that really struck me: "If these Elders baptize you while you are not keeping the commandments of God, it means that this is not his true church." Wow.
Now, to answer a few of your questions. There are not sisters in this district. We see the other four elders in our ward often, because every monday we go to the same part of town to do our grocery shopping. We do have sufficient to eat, but we have to be smart about how we spend our money. That is about the only thing we do in the city, and every once in a while we get everyone together to play soccer. The gold tie was the one I gave away. Those white handkerchiefs you gave me have been awesome to help deal with the heat and sweat. On P-Day we do our shopping, clean, write letters, and..that´s about it. There never seems to be enough time to do everything. I´ll leave you with something a little more light-hearted, a Spanish conversation I hear sometimes that makes no sense in English.
"¿Y después?" (literally: And after? meaning: How´s it going?)
"¡Al pelo!" (literally: to the hair! meaing: So good!)
I love and pray for you all! Keep reading the Book of Mormon and praying to the Lord for help. If you do what He asks, he really will help you at all times and in all things.
-Elder Wesley Morgan

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

No Subject

*Editor's note: I always use the subject of Wesley's email as the blog post title, but he didn't include one and I didn't know what to put instead.

Well, I was all excited to start off this email by saying, "Surprise! We had a baptism!" We have been trying to get Chilo baptized for a few weeks now, because he has attended church the required 3 times. He works and travels a lot, so it is difficult to find him. But on Friday we met with him and went over the baptismal interview questions. He didn´t understand everything perfectly, but it sounded like he was willing to follow Christ however he could. Unfortunately, when we brought the Zone Leaders to his house for the interview, he was not there. We had lunch with his mom Ursula, a recent convert. She called him and found out he had been drinking the night before. No go on the baptism. I guess it will be good to have more time to explain the doctrine better to him.

One more piece of sad news. Junior and Perla (yes, he is the often drunk Brazilian), have decided they don´t want to visit us anymore. That happens a lot; we are often changing who we visit depending on who is progressing and how much time we have. One of our biggest challenges is teaching and planning so we can meet with as many people as possible. But Junior and Perla were possibly my favorite people to visit with. They were really fun and very smart. The thing is, they didn´t do their part to read and attend church in order to receive an answer to their prayers. He gave us a 20 minute talk about why he thinks all churches have the same doctrine but different customs, and that Joseph Smith could not be a prophet. Pretty sad, but we are not going to give up completely on them. I really feel like they will get baptized, it is just a matter of time.

Now to answer some of your questions. A bit about my companion. He is 24, and he has a girlfriend who is serving in the mission in Argentina right next to ours. He loves video games, so we talk about things like that a lot. He also loves singing bass. He is pretty-laid back, but he is a good missionary. He has not always been completely active--he read the Book of Mormon cover to cover for the first time on his mission--but he knows a lot about the gospel. He hasn´t gotten to baptize anyone yet, but we will change that soon! Transfers are every six weeks, so that will be this Tuesday. (That is why I have the picture of the new, fresh planner). But it is almost certain that he will stay with me to finish my training.

I have not gotten to do much more cooking than what I have told you about, just basic pasta, rice, etc. But with the members and those basic meals, we definitely get by. I did buy some peanut butter, but it is more like peanut frosting. I am going to try to make some brownies with it today to bring to FHE with the Herrera family, Sergio and Blasida. They have three little girls who are almost exactly like the daughters in Full House.

The cards in the picture are what we made to help prepare Daisy, the oldest, for the baptismal interview. They know the church is true, but they have had some job issues recently--he hasn´t received his pay in about a month, and they were not very well off in the first place. For that reason, they have not come to church, and he drinks sometimes. We are really trying to work them a lot this week to strengthen their faith that if they sacrifice the Lord will bless them. We might even baptize them this Saturday if they are ready. We have so many people who I know could be baptized with just a little more time and effort on their part to read, pray, and attend church.

One miracle this Sunday--2 investigators unexpectedly attended the Stake Conference! We sat in the hall (because it was so packed) and listened to a broadcast from Salt Lake of several General Authorities, including Neil L. Anderson, who did not use a translator because he served in France and lived in Brazil (which was obvious in his accent). President Monson also spoke. The investigators were Reinaldo and Rosillo, the niece of a less-active family that lives about 40 minutes away from us. Right now most of the people we are teaching live in two groups, each 30 or 40 minutes walking from the main highway, where we live. Last Monday, we walked 40 minutes in the mud, and you can see in the picture what that did to my shoe.

I also must have eaten something bad, because I threw up before, during, and after the one lesson we had time for. Not a fun day.

I´ll do a quick clothes inventory, so you know how things are holding up. I gave away one tie to the Vargas (less-active) family, but I got two from the Baez family, the family of Reinaldo and Rosillo! (As you can see from the of them is really weird).

I opened up all the short-sleeve shirts, because it has gotten so hot that long-sleeves are not bearable. (It´s about 97 and huuuumid right now). My shoes and suit are doing very well, though they are getting a bit dirty. I´ll work on that today during P-Day. Pants are also doing fine, and I have no choice but to wash the dry-clean ones. Those are actually much more comfortable than the black ones from Missionary Mall, which are thicker and a bit too small (but, as you may have discerned from the pictures...I am losing quite a bit of weight). I don´t like the Missionary Mall mesh socks, and I don´t know if the belts will hold up for two years. I do use the jacket without the liner when it rains, along with the boots. I don´t know if I will ever use the liner. It is so hot down here. But I love it!

I don´t have time to write that much, but I sure am receiving a lot of letters. Glad to know people are thinking about me, and know that I pray for you all often, too. Love you, Mom!

-Elder Wesley Morgan

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Weirdest Experience of My Life

This week´s Paraguayan culture lesson: never complain about how early you have to get up for school. Many of the schools here start at 6 am! Just about everything here is earlier. Church is at 8:00, but sacrament meeting is last. We meet in a regular chapel, and there are about 100-150 active members in the ward, though with the rain not many people came to church. It has rained a lot today and yesterday. Anyway, to answer your other questions, I only spoke once to introduce myself to the ward, but I play the piano every other week (which is sometimes rather interesting). I have not dreamed in Spanish yet. There are 10 missionaries in our district, making it one of the largest. In my apartment, the only rooms we have are the ones I showed you, but that was about half of each. We share a bedroom (as is required by the Missionary Handbook). We have a stove, oven, pots, pans, and some measuring cups in metric and English measurements. 

Well, as I said, with the rain, not many people came to church. We have also been doing a lot of baptismal interviews (that is what the District Leader does), so there has not been much time to teach our own investigators. Aníbal finally came back to church, so it looks like he is well on his way to baptism. We are hoping to see more progress this week, especially with Chilo, the Herrera Family, the Aguinaga family, and Junior and Perla. We also have found a lot of new investigators, some with a lot of potential, like Zunilda, whose husband is very inactive. Then there is Francisco. He is the reason for the title of this email. He was a reference from a member, and the lesson started off great because he had already read a bit of the Book of Mormon. Unfortunately, we could not get him to understand that this book means that we are the only true church of Jesus Christ; he was stuck in the mindset that all you need is Jesus. We testified and taught the best we could, but we had to get to an interview, so we asked him if he would offer a prayer before we left. Lesson learned: even if you are in a hurry, take the time to teach your investigators to´s worth it. He stood up and went back and forth between recited prayers (which his family would say with him), and dramatic prayers, which were not all just to God the Father. This lasted for about 15 minutes. It was so hard not to laugh when he started to SING to the Holy Ghost in a weird melody he made up as he went. I still laugh when I tell other missionaries about it, and now every time they see us they sing "Espiiiiiiiritu, Espiritu Saaantoooo." Yeah, the mission is an adventure.

To close, I want to share an experience in Spanish I had during companion exchanges that meant so much to me. *Estábamos enseñando la Familia Da Silva, nuevos investigadores. Intentábamos a enseñar la primera lección, pero ellos estaban hablando sobre lo que ellos creyeron en su iglesia. Éso es un problema que he tenido varias veces en la misión, pero sabemos que hemos sido llamado para enseñar, no para ser enseñado (DyC 43:15). Finalmente, cuando la madre dijo que pensó que solo estábamos allá para decirles cuales partes de la Biblia ellos deben leer, yo dijo,"No, estamos aquí para mucho mas de éso. Estamos aquí porque hemos sido llamado por un profeta de Dios." Expliqué mas de nuestro propósito, y testifiqué la historia de José Smith. Ella preguntó como podía saber si es la verdad, y leímos Moroni 10:4-5. Ella lloró un poco, y sabíamos que, finalmente, el Espíritu ha testificado de este mensaje de la Restauración. 

Little by little, I am becoming the missionary I know I can be. I love you all and thank you for your support. It means so much to me. :) 

Elder Wesley Morgan 

*We were teaching the Silva Family, new investigators.  We had planned to teach the first lesson, but they had been talking about what they believe in their church.  That is a problem that I have had several times on the mission, but we know that we have been called to teach, not to be taught.  (D&C 43:15).  Finally, when the mother said that she thought that we were only there to tell them which parts of the Bible they should read, I said, "No, we are here for much more than that.  We are here because we have been called by a prophet of God."  I explained more about our purpose, and I testified of the story of Joseph Smith.  She asked how she could know if it is true, and I read Moroni 10:4-5.  She cried a little, and we knew that, finally, the Spirit had testified of the message of the restoration.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Beautiful Paraguay

Well, here are some pictures. There is one of our kitchen, which is a million times better now than it was when I got here.

Our shelves of food and pamphlets.

My bedroom--Ken Kenworthy will be happy to know everyone thinks his map is awesome.

My desk, along with our chart of investigators and how they are progressing towards baptism.

There are also two of the view from our apartment.

Unfortunately we cannot take pictures while proselyting, so that may be the best you get for now. Just know that this country is beautiful. The ground is red and full of hills. The trees are green, and there are hundreds of different kinds. That street you see in the picture is the biggest highway in Paraguay--it goes from here to Asunción. And that is about the only named street in our area. Other addresses are just general distances and landmarks, which has made it a little hard to learn the area. We are doing a lot of searching for less-active members in our ward right now. There are about 600 on record. We are trying to work with ward leaders to get home teaching and other programs going to help that. One great family is the Vargas family. Lucio, the dad, is pretty much a younger John Lisonbee. They were less-active when we got here, but they love having us over to teach investigators, and they attend almost every week.

People in Paraguay are so inviting, which is a contrast from Buenos Aires. Sometimes we will just say hi and they will pull out chairs so we can teach a lesson. Part of that may be because there are missionaries of other religions who often stop by and share scriptures. These people are very religious. Sometimes we ask if they believe in Jesus Christ and they look at us like we asked if they drink water. They have a lot of faith, and many people have vivid dreams, some of which have helped them be converted. One thing we have been working on is helping people say real prayers. They are so used to reciting prayers that they don´t understand the concept. This is part of the 8 Fundamentals, which we studied in the CCM and now during our training program. Those fundamentals are great ways to apply the principles of Preach My Gospel to make our teaching effective. They are:
  • The Doctrine of Christ--The Missionary Purpose (More simply: love them and baptize them)
  • The Role of the Holy Ghost in Converstion
  • Revelation through Prayer
  • Revelation through the Book of Mormon
  • Revelation through Church Attendance
  • Teach People, Not Lessons
  • We Invite, They Commit, We Follow Up
  • How to Begin Teaching
Well, I am going to do a bit in Spanish again. Maybe I will do this every week. *El principio de ésta semana fue muy bien. Estamos trabajando MUCHO con los miembros, y es obvio que hay una diferencia en las lecciones. Junior Ramos, un joven en nuestro barrio, nos acompaña mucho. El va a ser un buen misionero. Tambien, estamos intentando a trabajar más con el líder misional de barrio, Elio Martinez, y los otros lideres. Hno Martinez es un converso reciente, pero tieno demasiado energia y testimonio.

Unfortunately, the end of the week was not as successful as we had hoped. We had one investigator at church, Chilo. That was a miracle. He is the son of Ursula, a recent convert (she is pretty much Grandmother Willow). He may even be ready to be baptized this week! We´ll see. The Aguinaga family, Freddy, Antonia, and Selva, did not attend, which is frustrating because they are so close to being ready. They know it is true, they just have to accept it. We have made progress with Junior and Perla, and he has been drinking less after we taught the word of wisdom**. He also told us he turned down a $50,000 offer to deliver drugs to Brazil because of our lessons. That´s exciting. Anibal missed church again. We really have to find out why. We also could not meet with Alejandra this week. I am going to try to keep you updated on these people, especially those who I think will be baptized, but if I ever forget to tell you about anything, feel free to ask. (Like Miguel, who has succumbed to pressure from his neighbors and does not want to visit with us anymore).

Utah is called the factory because that is where all the missionaries come from. Guarani is hard to learn, but I am picking it up little by little. Glad to hear about Romney, BYU football, and Daniel´s internship. I am so excited for him! Things are going well, overall. Last P-Day I tried to make Sopa Paraguaya. I have a lot to learn about cooking. But it was surprisingly edible. I also made no-bake cookies with some Peanut Butter that the last missionary left. Everyone in our district loved those. (Luckily those are hard to ruin). The fondo is pretty far away. I would guess about a mile. We do a lot of walking, which I enjoy. Fasting made it tough, as did the heat, which is back. But, to paraphrase a slogan from some sports company that I cannot remember, Pain is temporary but Conversion is forever. Yeah, that didn´t sound as cool as I was expecting. Pretty much we are doing all we can to help these people come to Jesus Christ, and that is what is most important. I love you all!

-Elder Wesley Morgan

*The beginning of this week was very good.  We are working A LOT with the members, and it's obvious that there is a difference in the lessons.  Junior Ramos, a young man in our ward, is accompanying us a lot.  He will be a good missionary.  Also, we are planning to work more with the ward mission leader, Elio Martinez, and the other leaders.  Brother Martinez is a recent convert, but he has a lot of energy and testimony.

**The Word of Wisdom is a law of health that was revealed to Joseph Smith by the Lord that Latter-day Saints live by.  We are promised physical and spiritual strength if we follow it.  To learn more about it, visit here.