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