Monday, March 25, 2013

Mission Prep for Daniel

Okay, I forgot my camera cable to send the pictures of my clothes that need help. But that's okay. Next week. Really, from here on out, I will probably not ask for much more in packages than clothes/equipment replacements. But, as far as advice for Daniel goes, I have been thinking a lot. First, don't bring any ties with white or other light colors. They will get dirty very fast. Have an extra watch or two (especially if there are a lot of robberies in Madrid). My waist bag has been great for hot days, and it gives my shoulders a break. It would be good to buy a backpack and a waist or shoulder bag big enough for scriptures and a few pamphlets. Also, I don't think he will get the nice scriptures in the MTC in Madrid, so it would be a good idea to buy the ones he wants there. I love my new English scriptures...and they still appear brand new. After a few weeks in the mission, I basically only used them once a week. I don´t know if they will have any sort of cases there for scriptures, planners, and missionary handbooks. He'll have to find out there, I guess. Super glue would also be good, because no matter how good your scriptures are, they get used a lot. It´s always good to have extra shirts and garments, because those get dirty fastest. Bring lots of pens, notebooks, and paper. (The more you write the more you learn). It would also be good to bring some church videos. We can buy them at the distribution center, but it would be much easier just to bring them. There are the standard ones (The Restoration, Together Forever), but there are some other great ones for investigators like "On the Way Home" and "How Rare a Possession." (Of course, make sure the disc has the Spanish option). I also know some missionaries who have discs of Mormon Messages in Spanish. Don´t know how they got those, but they are golden! Be sure to bring your pedigree chart and line of priesthood authority, in Spanish if you can. Those are great to show people. Also, learn to cook simply (I don't have the time or resources to make things like the tortilla casserole), get used to trying new foods--even if you don't like them, and don't eat constantly. That is a problem I had. All my life, I had pretty much all the food and time I wanted. Now both of those are very limited, and I wish I would have adjusted to eating less and more consistently (not just snacking all day). Part of the problem is that my teenage metabolism stopped, but I think you´re still growing.

A few other things I thought of, that are more Spiritual. By the way, I am putting all of this in the letter that will go on the blog so that Mom can see it, along with anyone else who is preparing for a mission. I have talked about a lot of things in my letters up to this point that can help any missionary, but there are a few I would like to reiterate. Learn to accept culture and differences in habits. Everyone does things their own way, and some missionaries can't understand that their way isn't always right. You're going to a new world, and you just have to embrace it. Learn to overcome adversity. Be tough, and trust in the Lord. You are going to have to overcome your own challenges and teach people to overcome theirs, too. On that vein, always listen to people and treat them like agents, not objects. Allow them to make their own decision, and teach a lesson based on what they need, not what you want to teach them. Overall, just enjoy it. Don't expect to be perfect, ESPECIALLY not right away. The trials are to help us, and the mission really is a marvelous opportunity.

This whole week, including Palm Sunday, is a big deal here. We'll see if everyone having vacation time helps us find more people! And yes, there are bunnies and eggs.

I'm not going to lie, it is pretty sad to hear some of that news...especially about the boys who are not serving missions. It's not all surprising, but still hard to hear. I wish them the best, and I will keep praying and hoping that things turn around. I feel the same about Maria Villalva. I don't know if you remember her, she was one of my favorite investigators in CDE. In the Zone Leaders' Council today I got to talk to Elder Nielsen (loved seeing him), and he told me she pulled a total 180. She won´t even read the Book of Mormon anymore. And she was hours away from getting baptized. Very disheartening. But thankfully, I have an incredible companion who keeps me going, and in the Council we learned a lot of things that will help our Districts be more effective. I also received some inspiration about how to make sure the District Leaders do their job and follow up on everything the missionaries commit to do in the District meetings. The mission is improving, and I am trying to do my part. I know there are future members waiting for us around here, we just have to find them. One thing we are doing a lot more is talking about Family History. I have always wanted to include that more, and I am showing my pedigree chart to everyone I can. We'll see if it works. Amancio, Julio César, Lorenzo, and the Pavón family are still great, but have not come to church. But one of the Pavón family's cousins, Hector, is very excited to read the Book of Mormon, so he might be the push that gets them going. We also have Giuliano Paredes, a struggling member, helping us with them, which in turn helps him. This week he came running in the rain to help us with a lesson, which was a huge miracle. That surprised everyone! Just have to help the rest of the ward want to help us like that.

Maria also made me think of a Liahona article I read. In September 2009 there was an article about Paraguay! It explains how big of a deal traditions and family opposition are here. That is really one of the biggest challenges. There are so many people who are too scared to change religion for fear of being rejected by their family and friends. We just have to help them trust in the Lord and feel part of the ward family. 

This week I got to do exchanges with Elder Huamán, from Peru. He is incredible. I loved his conversion story, especially when he said how sad he was to have to wait until Saturday to get baptized. He prayed about the Book of Mormon right after the missionaries taught him and wanted to get baptized the next day. There are great missionaries here, and I am also always trying to improve myself, while at the same time forgetting myself and giving my will to the Lord. It is amazing how those two actually work together. Thanks for telling me you have been noticing my progress. I hope you are all progressing too. Love you all!

God be with you,
Elder Wesley Morgan

Monday, March 18, 2013

Great week of exchanges!

Elder Morgan and the assistants to the president (all of whom have served in Amambay)

The view from the top of the assistants' apartment building

Elder Gayoso on the bus on the way to do exchanges with the assistants

Okay, like you saw in the photo, we had the excellent opportunity to do exchanges with the assistants. I got to work with Elder Dyches, who is incredible. He was here in Amambay a year ago. He is always excited, shows genuine love for the people, and is very focused on baptism. That excitement for baptizing has spread to most of their members in the ward. I wish we could do that more here. He really has a miraculous opportunity. Because of the change in where the assistants are, he is finishing is mission in the area where he started, but like I said the ward is much more supportive. I really learned so much from him in that day. We also did exchanges with Republicano. I helped Elder Correa, who was pretty discouraged his first few days, but he seems a lot happier now that he is adjusting to everything. We had some really interesting experiences. One of those was with Blanca, a less-active member who is now Methodist. She did not want to accept the Book of Mormon again (the typical "the Bible is everything" mentality). I have found that Ezekiel 37:16-17, John 10:16, and Isaiah 29 are great testimony-strengtheners for people who already believe in the Book of Mormon, but they make no sense to people who don't want to accept it. What helped her most was José Olavarrieta´s personal experience and testimony. She talked a lot, but she ended up talking herself through the issue and decided to give it a shot again. I read some of 2 Nephi 29, which is a very direct way to explain why we need more. In personal study I also found a few other scriptures (the title page, 2 Nephi 33:10-15) that talk about how this Book will be used to judge us (a doubt she had) and it was written especially for this continent. It is pretty cool to know that I am preaching the gospel to the Lamanites.

Many of our investigators--Lorenzo, Amancio, and the Pavón family, are progressing slowly, but really need to make the decision to come to church. For new investigators, we found all men this week (hopefully we'll teach their wives next week and be able to count them as families). I´ll give you a quick summary of who they are for a general idea of the kind of people we teach. Luis Caballero got baptized without getting confirmed a few months ago, but he is planning on moving back! What a miracle! We´ll have a confirmation this month! Luis Cabral is an old man who wants to do everything. One of his sons is a member, but the rest of his family hates us. Hugo is a crazy-ish man who we found during a huge rainstorm this week. He doesn't believe the Bible was translated correctly, he is very smart, but he also has some weird theories. Brian is a young man who almost got baptized in Puerto Pabla, but it looks like he also has family opposition. Eleno moved here from a small, far-away city, and my companion can speak Guaraní to him. He really is great. Hope they can all progress!

I will think a lot this week about things I wish I had known, especially with clothes. (Next week I will send pictures of a few things I need replaced). We use all the same manuals as you, but because we don't always have investigators in church, we don't always have Gospel Principles class. I am really trying hard to get that going even if there is one investigator who stays after sacrament meeting. I am doing great health-wise. My toenail still looks funny, but it feels great. I am trying to send more pictures, and I would love to get more from all of you. :)

It's sad to hear about Aunt Karen and Sister Rhees, but they are both wonderful and I know that these are all just steps in God's plan for us. I know things will be great for them on the other side. Thanks for keeping me updated on everything. I know Braxton is out on his mission, and I would love to know if we sent off the rest of those young men. This is a Marvelous Work and a Wonder, and I know they would contribute great things to the Kingdom of the Lord. 

Love you all!

"This is what I wrote on the board to start our Zone training. It´s an example of everything you could possibly do in the first lesson, all of which are good things, but there isn´t time to teach all that in 30 minutes. So we practiced teaching a first lesson according to what interests the person so they open up to us and feel the Spirit (those are the other pictures)."

"Last P-Day we mopped the floors Paraguayan style--tossing water and soap all over the floor, scrubbing it with brooms, and squeegeeing it all away."

"I also made peach cobbler with your super-easy recipe."

"In one of the districts, four of the 6 elders are from Peru. (They don´t like hearing that they all look the same)."

Monday, March 11, 2013


I am so excited for Daniel!* I know he wanted to serve in Europe, and it is great that he will be speaking Spanish. How perfect! I know Europe is tough, especially for baptizing. But I am sure he will work hard and be ready for it. I am serving right next to Grandpa´s mission, and he´s next to where Dad served. I´ve heard great things about the Spain MTC: He will learn a lot there, especially with the opportunity to leave and proselyte.  Really, that is awesome.

Don´t worry, I made sure not to let José tell me until I read the email. He has helped us a lot this week. He drove us around all day Saturday. Unfortunately, we still did not have anyone in church, in spite of our efforts to teach a lot more with the members. We have some people who could come, but have doubts or conflicts that they still can´t overcome. But, we keep trying to improve how we teach. My companion is really great about being patient and willing to work harder. This week I watched the movie "On the Way Home." I really like what that shows. I wish I could have more families like that, and I realized I need to focus more on the conversion process (I also read Alma 17-22 this week). In studying that, I have discovered a lot of things to help me (especially the Book of Mormon and the Spirit), along with realizing that most of the process rests in the agency of those who we teach. They need to decide. I also learned that we were teaching a lot more in the last months because it was summer vacations. So, it looks like things are going to get tougher again. That just means there are a lot of opportunites to learn. I am really trying to focus less on comparing myself to others and expecting results when I want them. Abinadi has always been a great example to me of a missionary who suffered and testified but never saw the amazing impact he had.

We are also seeing a lot miracles, but not always the fruits. We normally invite the people to be baptized the first lesson, and we have had amazing experiences with people who were very willing. But it has been difficult to find most of them, sometimes for family opposition, or other circumstances. Maybe they weren´t sincere and hid from us later? (That happens sometimes). Or maybe I am just planting a lot of seeds for future missionaries. That is why I have been thinking about Abinadi a lot. I always try to just do the Lord´s will, and I hope he is using me to do great things, though I may not be here for the baptisms. For example, we have Juan Ramon, who still needs a lot of help. It will take a while for them to overcome the difficulties with their son, and we are just trying to give them hope, often by singing hymns. Honestly, I wish I could just sing all lesson, every lesson. Haha, but it´s not that easy.

We talked about the impact a missionary can have in our Zone training this week. There´s a church video of President Eyring talking about the waves a little pebble makes in a large pond. We really can do a lot of good (or bad) as missionaries every single day. We taught them how to teach the 1st lesson according to the needs of the investigator, which went very well. A lot of comments showed that they learned a lot. Actually, in trying to plan a simpler training this time, we opened it up for too many comments. That is the problem I had sometimes teaching Elder´s Quorum at BYU, which is better than when I taught Sunday School and there were no comments. It´s a tough balance to help people learn by the Spirit but still give them all the teaching you can. Especially all the motivational scriptures and questions (like "What would you do today if you knew you could not fail?) at the end, I feel like we inspired them and gave them things to apply to the work they do every day.

I was up late last week helping the other missionaries pack, especially in Centro where we had to clean, organize, and prepare the area book for the new missionaries. The bus terminal was an interesting situation because of all the missionaries who I may not see again, like I explained last week. There are three more transfers before the mission split, and I am pretty sure I will be in my next area in July. So on whichever of those three dates I leave this area, I will be pretty sure of which mission I will stay in. I will also try to send more pictures...but as you have seen, that often risks you not getting the email. I appreciate all the news I get from you, and I am thankful for your support. It is going to be exciting to have my brother in the mission field with me. Any questions, or anything else I can do to help with that, let me know. I love and pray for you all! Please pray for me, my companion, the missionaries in the Zone, the members in the ward, investigators, and all of Paraguay. And don´t forget that the Lord is always with you!

-Elder Wesley Morgan

*Elder Morgan's brother Daniel has been called to the Madrid Spain mission.  He leaves for the Madrid MTC on July 24th.  Hooray for missionaries!

Monday, March 4, 2013

First week with Elder Gayoso

Elder Morgan and Elder Gayoso
 Okay, we found out the rest of the changes, and I was very excited! Both of our District leaders became Zone leaders! Our two district leaders are now Elder Dominguez (Hidalgo, Mexico) and Elder Richards (Snowflake, Arizona), who were already here. They are both excellent missionaries, and I am excited to continue working with them. There were changes in almost every companionship, and it seems like we have a great group of 14 missionaries. I am now companions with Elder Gayoso (in the photo). He is Paraguayan (Santa Rosa, Misiones), but lived most of his life in Lugano, Buenos Aires, which is the same ward as my trainer! That was pretty cool. He speaks Guaraní fluently, which helps. He has been companions with several missionaries who came with me. He has never been a leader, but he is very positive and excited to do everything. Really, he is an incredible example. He has had some serious family and vision problems, and he told me how that has forced him to be a positive person. He's one of those awesome people they make movies about.

The days during the transfers were pretty crazy. I was up late several nights helping other missionaries. I spent Tuesday in Centro because my companion had already left. Wednesday in the bus terminal was an interesting experience for me. I saw a lot of missionaries from my first area who are getting ready to leave, and most of the missionaries who came with me are also leading, training, or doing something exciting. Also, Elder Speedy went to be a Zone Leader in my ward in Ciudad del Este, so I talked to him a lot about the people there. We also found out that the mission is going to divide! The work of the Lord is growing at an incredible rate, and you have probably heard that in July we will have over 400 missions. One of those is Posadas, Argentina, which will take with it Pilar, Encarnación, and Ciudad del Este from our mission. Any missionary in those zones will become part of the Posadas mission, and the rest will stay here. So the next few transfers will be like receiving a new mission call. Whatever happens, I will lose contact with this area or my first one. That, along with all of the other happenings, gave me nostalgia pretty hard. I missed my old area, and I worried about which of my friends in the mission I won't see again if they go to the other mission. I even missed Elder Knudsen a ton, which surprised me (but he still has to call us all the time, so it's all good). I relate to what you were saying about James and Ryan. I don't want time to move so fast. (Yes, let's avoid talking about the end of my mission and things I am going to do after until we absolutely have to). Things are changing, but I found that the answer is to just keep working. That helped me keep thinking ahead instead of looking behind. Wherever I serve, I am serving Jesus Christ. 

Speaking of thinking ahead, I played chess with one of our investigators, Lorenzo (I actually won one of the 3 games). He is great, but we are having a hard time helping him progress. With the theme of chess, I need to think a few days ahead as to which members we need to call to accompany us. That has always been a challenge for me in the mission. We are also working a lot with the Ayala family (Juan Ramón, Felicitana, and Gustavo). Basically Juan Ramón (about 60 years old), works a lot because his wife is sick and obese and cannot walk. His son has had drug problems and causes them a lot of anguish. He asked us to be like Simon the Cyrenean and help him with his cross. We are starting basic, with reading and praying every day, and we promised that would help them see results. The other people worth noting are Julio César and Sergio, two teenage boys who we found reading the Book of Mormon when we came for the 2nd lesson. They are very interested and definitely want to come to church and get baptized. We'll do all we can to help them overcome the challenges on the way to doing that.

Those pictures from José are of the Stefanius (the Brazilian couple that gives us lunch every Monday) and the Caballero family (recent converts). That was a family home evening we did on Elder Knudsen's last night. We have a Council at the end of the month, which the President and Assistants teach, and then a training with our Zone based on what we learned there to start the month. I am very excited for that. It is going to be a lot more simple than the last one, and I will tell you how it goes next week. I will also be ecstatic to hear where Daniel goes! Great to here about Makade, he is an incredible person. We also have local missionaries that serve here for a couple weeks when there are uneven numbers or other difficulties. It is a good opportunity for someone with less than a year in the church to start being a missionary. It is an incredible work, and every member of this church can participate. Thanks for your love and support!

Elder Wesley Morgan

"Here are a few photos from the museum we went to a few weeks ago. There have been a lot of famous singers-guitar players from Paraguay, so a lot of the museum was about that. You had said something about the Paraguayan harp...but no one here seems to know much about that. Who knows?"