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