Tuesday, August 28, 2012

It's Cold?!

As it says in the subject line, it is actually cold, and has been for a couple days. It's about 50-60 degrees F, which is about what it got down to in Buenos Aires. At least I can wear my suit coat and enjoy it (we are required to wear it to church and other important meetings). I also have to make sure I mention intersting cultural things about Paraguay as they come, because in a year this will all seem normal. Clapping at the gate rather than knocking on doors is no longer strange. One thing that I can count on here, without fail, is that every time I tell a member I am from Utah they say, "Ah, la fabrica," which means "the factory." Also everyone, and I mean everyone, has this certain type of chair that I will try to explain. It has a metal frame like a lawn chair, but the part you sit on is all brightly colored plastic cords (like jump ropes) weaved together. Some salesman made a lot of money off of those.

People in Paraguay are very simple, and I have had to understand that they do not think the same way as me. They are all laborers or store-keepers; there are very few intellectual jobs, except lawyers (which a lot of people want to become). They are not stupid, because 90% of them can speak two languages. But we definitely have to keep the concepts and questions in our lessons very basic. So many times we will ask people questions and they will not understand that it was a question or answer yes when it was not a yes/no question. Sometimes that is because they just weren't listening, but I think it may also be due to the different structure of Guaraní. I am actually learning a little of that every day. I can greet people, say I'm hungry, ask who is going to say the prayer, and a few other basic phrases.

I heard that David Mella got his mission call to Uruguay and is going to the Buenos Aire MTC!! That is awesome! I am so excited for him. Now, to answer your questions. A man in our ward does our laundry; we just have to leave our clothes in the church on Mondays. We do usually eat a snack at 9:30 when we get back to the apartment, but that is pretty much it unless someone feeds us while we are out. I speak only Spanish with my companion, and I try to do the same with other missionaries. I feel like my comprehension is improving, but I still have a long way to go. The people here often speak Jopará, which means they will go in and out of Guaraní and Spanish, so it is sometimes hard to follow.

*Brittany quiere que yo escriba una porción en Español, entonces, aquí está. Esta jueves tuvimos una Conferencia de Zona con Elder Jorge F. Zeballos y su esposa. Eso fue muy purete (esa es una palabra que se use acá para decir "muy bien." Nadie sabe si es Español o Guaraní). Aprendimos mucho sobre nuestro propósito como misioneros y como podemos trabajar con los miembros--muy importante para conversión. También es muy importante que ame a su compañero. Necesita enseñar con unidad y disfrutar cada momento, entonces yo necesito ser amigos mejores con cada una, aunque sea difícil. En la conferencia, vi a Elder Brown, Elder Adamson, y Elder Villar, porque incluyó todos los misioneres en Ciudad del Este y Caaguazú. Me encantó verlos, y ellos están teniendo éxito también.

Well, none of the 8 or 9 people we committed to come ot church with us actually attended. That´s including Anibal, our awesome investigator. Hopefully we´ll find out why. It may have something to do with his mother-in-law, who tells us to leave him to his own religion every time we come by. He hates that. He came with us to a lesson with Alejandra, a girl we met this week. She was awesome. She is about 15, and she says she feels a lot like Joseph Smith. She also really wants to read the Book of Mormon--apparently she had one before but her aunt took it away. Unfortunately, we can't visit her until Saturday, so we have to hope things go well until then. We also have to make sure a man over 18 is there, which is a rule for every lesson. We are finding more and more investigators and giving them baptismal dates, which is important for helping people progress. This week we met Junior, a happy young Brazilian guy who actually talked to us first. Unfortunately, he is often drunk, so we have not been able to teach him a real lesson. When he is drunk he starts going off in Portuguese (it is amazing how many people here speak that AND the other two native languages) about how much he knows about the Bible (he has studied Theology for 9 years). The Aguinaga family, Freddy, Antonia, y Selva, are doing well. They did not attend church, but they are reading and praying about baptism. They really like us and the gospel. We have been going out to the "fondo"** where they live quite often, which takes a lot of time. In "el fondo," most of the houses are just wooden boards, but they have an oven, a TV, and sometimes a sink.

Our ward mission leader gave us the idea to have a family home evenings with our investigators and members so they feel like they have friends. So, to end my letter, I´d love to hear some ideas for FHE activities. Right now all we have is videos like The Testaments, and most of the games I remember playing require English or a certain board. So if anyone has any ideas for other games to play with families, I would love to hear them. Thank you for your prayers, and know that I am praying for you too.

Con mucho amor,***
Elder Wesley Morgan

*Spanish translation (with zero help from Danny, thank you very much):

Brittany wanted me to write part in Spanish, so, here it is.  This Thursday we had a zone conference with Elder Jorge F. Zeballos and his wife.  This was very "purete" (this is a word that they use here to say "very good."  Nobody knows if it's Spanish or Guaraní).  We learned a lot about our purpose as missionaries and how we should work with the members--very important for conversion.  It's also very important that you love your companion.  You need to teach with unity and enjoy every moment, so I need to be better friends with each one, although it may be difficult.  In the conference, I saw Elder Brown, Elder Adamson, and Elder Villar, because it included all the missionaries in Ciudad del Este and Caaguazú.  I love seeing them, and they were also excited.

**I had to ask Danny this one.  It basically means the boondocks.

***With much love

Monday, August 20, 2012

Feelin' Stronger Every Day

Mom, I hope you got the Chicago reference*. It was great to hear your encouraging words and the news about Truman. Sorry that last week's letter was so short, and I forgot to mention a lot of things. My companion's name is Leonardo Izurieta, and I attached a picture of him. He is 24 and lives in Buenos Aires. He has only been out here 3 transfers (3 months being trained in Obrero, Asuncion and 6 weeks here as Junior Companion), but he is now District Leader and my trainer. He is a little worried about handling all that responsibility, but he does it well. It is just the two of us in the apartment, which is even dirtier than the Taj at Mack's Inn. But I am working very hard on cleaning it up. Our goal is to one day be able to walk around the rooms without flip flops. As I explained last week, this city has red dirt everywhere, so pretty much every floor in every building gets the bottom of your feet orange. I have also killed quite a few roaches, which makes me think of that Missionary Impossible game. I will have to play that when I get back. I am sure I will laugh a lot.

Elder Izurieta and Elder Morgan

Also, I think Paraguay is just always hot. It gets down to 70 degrees and these people put on jackets. I think winter just means it rains a little more often, but that has only happened twice while I have been here, and it was not very much. As far as food goes, we eat cereal or oatmeal every morning, and then we cook lunch or eat with a member. We do not eat dinner, which was hard for me at first, but I have adjusted to that (as has my belt). The food is great! I have already tried mandioca, a potato-like vegetable that they eat a lot, and and nísperos, some yellow sour grapes, among other things. Also, I feel like an important part of every mission is the street snacks. Have I already mentioned Alfajors? They had them in BA, and they are here, too. I love them so much. There is also Chipa, which is a cheesy bread you can get pretty much anywhere. I love it all.


Life in Paraguay is always an adventure. So far as I can tell, the word crosswalk does not exist in Spanish. We run across highways, hike across cobblestone roads, hitchike with crazy people, and ride packed buses. We really have run into a lot of weird people. Some other religions, who I will not mention specifically, have some messed-up ideas. This guy yesterday was sure that we were American spies, even though he has attended our church and seen that everyone in the ward is native. At the same time, we have also run into a lot of people who have definitely been prepared by the Lord, such as people who were baptized a long time ago or have read the Book of Mormon. I know that if you have faith and pray for guidance, the Lord will lead you to those who are ready to hear your message. Just don't be afraid to talk to them!

Welcome to the Paraguay Asuncion Mission!
Now, the most important part: investigators. Right now we only have one investigator who is truly progressing. His name is Anibal, and he is golden. He wants to come early to help clean the chapel, and he just loves everything about the church. He is married, and he might have some opposition from his family. Other than that, he accepts every lesson and is always feeling the spirit. We are lucky to have people like that. Joel and Dolly, our great family from last week could not attend church because they were moving, but they are building a house in our area. We would love to keep teaching them once they move back. There is also Sergio and Blásida, who did not attend church yesterday, even though they were sure they would. We will find out why and decide if we need to push their baptismal date. They have three little girls, so the church would be great for them, but it is hard for all of them to get there. We have a lot of people who could be ready for baptism in the next few weeks, so hopefully September will be full of baptisms! I attended my first on Saturday, done by Elder Dyer and Elder Bravo in our ward. They are really great missionaries. And that made me really want to help people get baptized! We are studying and working hard, so we hope to see some miracles. I love you all!

-Elder Wesley Morgan

P.S. Elder Hinton, who Daniel and several of my friends know, is in my district! He has been pretty sick, so please pray for him, as I hope you do for everyone I mention in these letters. :)

*The subject of Wesley's email/title of this blog post is the title of a song by the group Chicago.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Pictures from Buenos Aires!

The MTC!  In Buenos Aires, it is on the temple grounds.

Elder Morgan's District in the MTC

All the District Leaders

The Buenos Aires Temple at night

Elder Morgan at the Buenos Aires Temple
Newly renovated Buenos Aires Temple.  Elder Morgan and his district got to go in a few times to help get it cleaned up and ready for the open house.

A classroom in the MTC

One of the bunk beds in the missionary dorm rooms

Elder Morgan with Elder Amodio - the crazy elder from Italy

Elder Cuases (a favorite missionary) and Elder Morgan

Elder Morgan and Elder Paredes (another favorite)

Elder Sorensen and Elder Morgan - nice ties!  Somebody also went to Missionary Mall before leaving Utah.

Elder Morgan with Elder Viana from Uruguay.  It is Elder Viana's dream to go to BYU in Provo after his mission, so Wesley gave him his BYU Men's Chorus t-shirt.  Awww!

"The Tres Leches" - Elder Brown, Elder Cutler, and Elder Morgan, threesome companionship in the MTC
Elder Mendoza, MTC companion for the last two weeks.  This was Elder Morgan's first Latino companion!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Short Email

So with the pictures*, I do not have time to write much more. I have an hour every week to email family and Presidente Agazzani. Next week I should be able to write to the other people I love. Suffice it to say that it has been a tough first week. I am pretty stressed about all I have to do and become. I know I did a lot to prepare, but I still feel pretty inadequate, especially in Spanish. (if any missionary ever thinks he can wait until the mission to learn a language, gain testimony or read the Book of Mormon/Preach My Gospel, he is in for a smack in the face). I know that there are a lot of people praying for me, and with the Lord, all things are possible. Also, as many people have advised me to do, I am not going to write much in these letters about me. My mission is not about me, it is about the people I am serving. I will tell you a bit about how I am doing and what the place is like, of course. Speaking of which, my area is Ciudad del Este 2.2. It is the second largest city in Paraguay and there are a lot of missionaries here ("2.2¨ means 2nd companionship in the 2nd ward). The ground is red/orange and rocky, and we walk a lot. It is like one big hiking trip in southern Utah. Thank my awesome scout leaders for preparing me. The people are wonderful. They have so little, but they are always feeding us. I feel like Elijah (1 Kings 17). I am getting to know all our investigators, members, and inactives. We have seen a few small miracles, and I hope to see more. Joel and Dolly are our golden family. We happened to find him walking on the same road as us, and they are so receptive. We have another young family, Cristian and Mariela, who we just met. They are a little tougher, because they are solid in what they already believe. But I am sure when they recognize the truth they will change. There is also Miguel, a teenager our age who moved from Buenos Aires to get away from a bad group of friends. We just challenged him to quit smoking, so please pray for him. I will also pray for Aunt Karen, and the others who need help back home. It is great to hear how people are doing ESPECIALLY mission calls. Love hearing about those. This truly is the Lord´s work.

With love as always,
Elder Wesley Morgan

*Elder Morgan also emailed a bunch of pictures, which is what took up most of his email time.  We will be posting those on the blog soon, so keep an eye out!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Finally Where I Belong

Just sending you a quick email to assure you that I have arrived safely in Asuncion Paraguay. It`s the middle of winter and it is hot and humid. I cannot express to you how happy I am to finally be here. It was also great to have a few letters waiting for me here. President Agazzani seems awesome. Travel was safe, and a lot shorter than last time. And Elder Cuases, one of my good friends from the CCM, and I handed out pamphlets at the airport. Trying to hit the ground running. Love ya!

-Elder Morgan

Grande Eres Tu

Here is a video of Elder Morgan and some of the elders in his district singing "Grande Eres Tu" ("How Great Thou Art").

Monday, August 6, 2012

Quick Email, and I'm Off!

Looks like I need to make a couple corrections. Yes, that picture was all mud, just a small red sore, which is already gone. And apparently those standards of excellence I looked at were just examples. Most missions don´t have that many. Guess that was a little prideful of me to assume I could just go out there and do that. Interestingly enough, I have heard people say that it is a very hard mission to baptize, and some say the people are humble and I will baptize a lot. But that´s how it´s been for everything about Paraguay--difficulty of language, weather, etc. I am so excited to finally be going! It has been a wonderful experience. I did my companions and my first district (who I got really close to) sign my flag. Also, I think you might be able to find our video on YouTube if you search "Moroni District Grande Eres Tu." (We were actually the Mormon district, but the teacher who posted it wrote it wrong). If the sound is bad...forget I said anything. But I hope you like it. I just got to read my emails from Brittany and Daniel, both of which make me happy. My brother is a funny kid. Hopefully I will get to email them back when I am in Paraguay. AH! I just said that! I am so excited to go out there. We had a great week of Proselyting, walking as fast as we could and teaching everyone we could talk to. One quick experience: I talked to a Jehovah´s Witness for a while, and we had a very interesting discussion. Now I know what I should have said when he accused the Book of Mormon of being a "different Gospel" (see Gal. 1:8-9). The Book of Mormon is not our gospel, neither is the Bible. They are testaments of our gospel, which is the Atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ, and that is what matters most. I love and pray for you all, especially those with difficult job situations.

-Elder Wesley Morgan

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Last Full Email From Rainy Argentina

Due to all the construction (we haven´t had carpet or electricity several times in the past week), we have a lot of internet problems, which is why I have decided not to try to send all my pictures. I have taken about 30 with each group and the last picture day is this Sunday. But I have to send this one that happened today. I really love playing soccer with these Latinos when I get a chance, but I think you probably know that my hand-eye coordination is lacking. My eye saw the ball, and my hands didn´t, so you can guess which one took the hit. :) Hey, at least I saved the goal. And it´s pretty funny that Corbin had a similar experience recently.

Well, that is just one of many memories I am going to take with me as I leave. This has been an awesome experience that I will never forget. Very different from what I expected, but I have learned an incredible amount. I think my favorite part has been the friendships I have made. Spending this much time with the same missionaries sure makes you grow pretty close. The seven North Americans who are leaving got to do sort of a farewell at the Devotional on Monday. We sang an A Capella version of "Grande Eres Tu" (How Great Thou Art). I don´t know if I have mentioned this, but we lucked out getting a district where everyone can sing well, and a couple of us--Elder Brown and Elder Suprise specifically--are very good at harmonizing. If I do so say so myself, the musical number turned out really well. Elder Smith recorded it, so hopefully I´ll get that sent out to you soon. I don´t think the people in Orem ever thought they´d see Brennan Adamson and Wesley Morgan singing in an A Capella group together, but hey, miracles happen out here. Really, I love those Elders so much, and I am going to miss every one here.

Another amazing experience: we got to to go inside the temple! Twice! Last week a few of us helped clean up the temple grounds. Right outside the gate there were a ton of cigarettes...it sure is different down here. They gave us a short tour then, and then on Monday the entire CCM went through the preliminary Open House tour. It was beautiful. The Celestial room, the Sealing room...all gorgeous. There sure is a special spirit in the temples, and it reminds us of why we are here and where we are going. Elder Mendoza has been a great companion. I am adjusting to his fast Spanish, surprisingly. He is a really good teacher, and he always surprises me with the experiences he has to help investigators because he was only baptized four years ago. The rest of my district has been a little difficult. All my life I have been used to being looked at as the "perfect" kid, but this has been ridiculous. I don´t know quite how to explain it, but they are always trying to get distracted or bend the rules, and I get teased for being the leader. It was hard at first, but I have gotten used to it. I have tried to talk to them, and things are getting better. Definitely fulfills part of my patriarchal blessing, right? They really are good missionaries, they just have to learn to adjust to the rules. Also, proselyting this week was tough. We were in a much nicer area, but NO one wanted to listen. Excuse after excuse. Not much we can do but keep trying. We do have a couple appointments next week, one with a Jehovah´s witness. It´s sad that I am excited about that. Hopefully I´ll have good news next time I email you about how it goes. I will get to send a short email on Monday before we fly out, and then P-Days will be on Mondays. It was great to get those summaries of my fellow missionaries, and I got you letter in the mail! That made me really happy. I don´t have much time left, I will try to answer a few of your questions. My Spanish has improved a lot recently, having to speak it all day. For the first time, conversation comes naturally. There are Sister Missionaries here, one from the US. All the North Americans got to Paraguay or Uruguay. We are at full capacity right now with about 80 Elders. The devotionals we watch are from a couple years ago; we do not get the new ones.

Last thought: I have been looking at the Standards of Excellence for our mission, and it looks like they expect 2 baptisms a week! 6 months I was gearing up to get sent somewhere where I was lucky to get one, and now....that could be a lot. I am going to need a bigger journal. :)

With love, as always,
Elder Wesley Morgan