First and foremost, Mauricio got baptized! We had a few problems setting up the interview, but it all turned out well in the end. I also got to baptize Jesús (so yes, that makes me John the Baptist), the 8-year-old son of his girlfriend. Great experience all around! I also loved receiving your package from José. Peanut Butter M&M's and Cinnamon Roll Pop Tarts are two of my favorite things in the world.
Well, I was all excited to see what changes happened in the Zone, and there were not any. Somewhat of a surprise. Most everyone is new in the area, but there are some companionships with relationship issues. We had to do exchanges twice this week with companionships who could not work together. Both were a lot of fun for me and the missionary who I brought to work in the area. The first one was more difficult, and when we all got back together, those Elders took a couple hours of talking and planning to finally resolve to work through their differences. I really learned the importance of communication. We need to get to know our companions personally so that they can trust us, talk to them about our problems rather than letting them explode inside us, and encourage them when they need help. Apart from an unforgettable testimony of communication, I also understand why President Uchtdorf gave a talk this last Priesthood session about how Priesthood service can be one of our greatest joys. Helping people overcome the difficulties and realize their full potential can be a wonderful thing.
Also, during one of those exchanges we had an incredible lesson. We asked what they were expecting from our visit, and they just asked about what it is that we do. We explained the importance of this message, our schedule, and that we have challenges and difficulties just like everyone else. That really got them to open up. They talked about so many questions they had always had about why they could never make enough money or why God made their daughter so sick. We briefly testified of the plan of Salvation, and you could see that they felt the Spirit and power of this message. It was exactly what they needed. I look forward to teaching them again, and I hope I can continue to teach like that. I have kind of hit the 6 month wall I have heard about. You get into a way of doing things the same way every time. I still see a lot of missionaries who never got through that. That lesson reminded me that I need to keep improving how I teach, improving my Spanish, trusting the Holy Ghost, and changing what I teach to fit each investigator's needs.
Also, even though we have a small area, I am learning that there are always more people to teach! We just need the faith and diligence to find them. I thought of this when we found an alleyway that led to a lot of little apartments. We were climbing over makeshift bridges/stairs to get to them with a little boy who was showing us the way. If we go back, I will try to take a picture or two. The mission really is an adventure.
To answer your questions, as Zone Leaders we are usually transferred less often, and I have a strong feeling I will be here for a long time. We are actually going to cut our hair today at a cheap place near our house, which costs $3. I am keeping a good journal, though I am quite busy and don´t always write a lot. Heather asked about how church is here. It is pretty similar, just smaller (Primary is usually just two separate classes, for example). We use the Lorenzo Snow manual and the other materials that you do. I hear often that no one in the States uses real scriptures anymore (ipads, iphones, etc.), so we don´t have that here yet. Oh, and I get to give a talk in two weeks!
One more thing, Preach My Gospel says we need to ask for references from EVERYONE; which we definitely do (that's our one thing we actually do well every week). But I haven't asked for references from my family yet! Haha, so if you or anyone reading this know anyone who is going to be in Paraguay, let me know. It sounds ridiculous, but if a girl here knows Tyler Woolley, anything can happen. In all seriousness, I hope you are helping the missionaries by sharing the gospel. I am sure everyone reading this has someone they know who they could talk to about the gospel. The statistics for this area go from 1/2000 getting baptized if the missionaries find them on their own (ugly number), to 1/3 if members teach their friends with the missionaries (2/3 if the missionaries meet them in the house of the members). I like that number A LOT more, and I hope the members here, there, and all over the world can catch the Spirit of missionary work and share the joy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ with their fellow brothers and sisters here on earth. God loves us a lot, and we should tell everyone we can!
Elder Wesley Morgan