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 week...it 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?