Monday, April 15, 2013

Costa Bonita, Villa Elisa

Well, a few hours after sending my last email I received some unfortunate news. I will not get to see all those plans in Amambay come to pass (but I hope to hear about them later from Elder Gayoso). I have been transferred to Zone 4, Villa Elisa (Stake: Fernando de la Mora Sur). It was sad to leave, especially because I felt like I had not done all that I set out to do. But it was good to remember Zion's Camp. What they gained in that story was not winning a battle (baptisms, members), but leadership experience. And that is exactly what I have gained. I am more patient; much more of the leader the Lord needs me to be. The other church video that helped me was that of John Rowe Moyle. When explaining why he walked to Salt Lake with his amputated leg, he simply said "It's my calling." I feel the same way. The hymn "I'll go where you want me to go" is more and more important to me.

And really, I am excited to be here. Like I said, I am more patient. The change was still hard, but unlike when I arrived at my other two areas, I am not thinking so much about perfection, just doing the Lord's will and enjoying it. Ironically, that has allowed me to do more. I am discovering that happiness is really a decision. It is not always easy, immediate, or 100% of the time. But it is a decision based on our attitudes and habits over time. My Zone is a lot bigger--22 missionaries in 3 districts. One of my District Leaders is Elder Beatty, who was my Zone Leader in Ciudad del Este (he goes home in 6 weeks). I also have Elder Ramirez, my favorite Uruguayan who was with me in Zone 1. This area is much more like CDE--more hills, streams, and dirt roads. I didn't realize how much more urban Amambay was than the rest of Paraguay. The ward is small, but I am very excited for that! I have been frustrated with being in large wards with most of the leaders in the areas of the other missionaries. We have all the members in our area, but not the chapel (3 wards share a chapel--rare for Paraguay). We had 38 people in church, but we will do all we can to change that. One miracle on the way is the Duarte family. They have 5 kids between the ages of 8 and 15, who all want to get baptized April 27th. That should really give the ward a boost in primary and young men/women. The parents cannot get baptized because the dad was married previously and has not gotten divorced (that is incredibly common in Paraguay). There are also a lot of kids of less active families who we are working with. You'd be surprised by the percentage of baptisms that come from children of less-active members. I think that is why Utah has the highest baptizing missions. But really, I am excited to strengthen this ward and see that chapel filled. I am also the ward piano player again, which is fun.

My companion is Elder Enriquez, from Oaxaca, Mexico. He was an 18-year-old missionary, but he is now 20 (he goes home in August). He is a hard worker and a good leader. As with all companionships there are a lot of adjustments to make. Zone Leaders and older missionaries are also harder to change. But like I said, I am trying to be more patient, and most of the time we get along very well. I am sure we will have a lot of success together.

One experience I wanted to tell you. I had my first baptismal interview this week where the person didn't pass. It was an old man who wanted to repent and get baptized to follow Christ, but he didn't fully believe in the Restoration and he was convinced that the law of tithing is a suggestion, not a commandment. I tried to help him with both of those, but he just needs more time to become fully converted. It was a tough decision, and I thought about all the goals we have and what other missionaries would think. But I have always been taught to do the right thing no matter what, and there is no way I could stand before God and tell him that man was ready to be baptized. We're doing important sacred things here, and whether or not it is easy or popular we need to do the will of the Lord.

Great to hear the news, as always.  I'll try to ask my mission president about my question* in the next interview we have. With all the emails he receives every week, he doesn't usually have time to answer questions. Forgot to bring my camera, but I will send my last pictures from Amambay and my first ones from Costa Bonita next week. 

One more gigantic miracle. Do you remember Reynaldo and Rocío, that couple that was going to get married and baptized but there was a problem with the documents and she decided to leave him? That was quite depressing, but Elder Dyer, who was in that ward in Ciudad del Este, went to Guarambaré, where Reynaldo moved back to live with his family. While helping him get reactivated, Rocío came back to get married and baptized!!!!!!! I can't tell you how happy I was to hear that. All things are in the hands of our Eternal Father in Heaven. He sees the end from the beginning, and we can trust that he loves us infinitely and always has a plan. 

-Elder Wesley Morgan

*Wesley had asked what to tell people who are too worried about this life to care about what happens in the next.  I didn't have an answer for him and suggested he ask his Mission President.

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