Monday, May 27, 2013

In the Jungle

Surprise transfer: after six weeks in Costa Bonita, I have been changed to Ca´aguazú 3.2 (3rd branch, 2nd area). It is pronounced with the Spanish Z, similar to "Kawasaki". And it means "Jungle" in Guaraní. It's not a jungle as if we were in the rainforest but it is a lot more removed from the city than my last two areas. I feel like I am back in Ciudad del Este. Lots of walking (thankfully the roads are more sand than rocks), humble houses, and even more Guaraní. I am excited to learn more of that language...maybe I'll even get to teach in it. I wasn't too sad to leave Costa Bonita because it was a pretty tough area and I feel like I worked my hardest and learned a lot there. I will miss some of the members and investigators.

The landscape close to Ca´aguazú.

But the members are great here! I have already met several (we have about 60 in church every week). The Branch President is very funny. His name is President De Wet. He is a blue-eyed South African. I like talking to him in English to listen to his accent, which he also has in Spanish. He also has a dog who nips at the missionaries legs, so I can also check that off the things I have experienced. It appears that the lady who washed the missionaries clothes took advantage of them, so I had to talk to her and tell her basically how things had to be or we would find someone else. we are going to be working hard to find another place to wash them. I'm sure it will turn out fine.
"Elder Portillo and Elder Leishman, who live with us. Yeah, Elder Leishman is a Colts fan! He´s from Brigham City."
I do have to explain that "we" now means four of us. We live with the Zone Leaders, Elder Portillo (who was one of my district leaders in Amambay) and Elder Leishman (who was actually living in my room--he just moved over too when he moved up to be ZL). I am no longer a Zone Leader, now a Distrit Leader. When Elder Knudsen called me, he said he knew I wanted to train and assured me I will have that opportunity in one transfer. That's one of the advantages of being friends with the assistant. My companion is Elder Pacheco from Arequipa, Peru. He is definitely my quietest companion, but this is only his fourth transfer. He is very smart (studied banking...but wants to change to study mechanical engineering!), and works hard. I am excited to be a district leader. I am going to focus a lot on commitments (chapter 11 in Preach My Gospel). Honestly, I am a little nervous. It is a new adventure. I don't feel like I was demoted at all. I have learned that different assignments are just different opportunities to serve and learn.
Elder Pacheco, the new companion
I am still getting to know the people and the area, which is huge! It actually extends to the limit with the new mission boundary with Ciudad del Este. So I am only one ward (and about 100 miles) away from my first area. I really love it here. I helped encourage Gustavo, who was baptized a week before, to come to church and get baptized. He is missing half of his skull from a car accident, but he seems to be doing fine! He says the gift of the Holy Ghost helps him with his anxiety a lot. I am sure will meet a lot of new people. Like CDE, we always have more people to teach than time in the day. I have missed that.
Elder Morgan's new house

We also have the Arnold family in our District. They are the senior couple of the mission (his brother is a Seventy). This week we helped Elder Arnold drive around trying to update the ward list with who still lives here to help this district become a stake. That is mostly what they do all day. We also helped them with a chapel open house. Pretty easy. We just dressed in white and talked about baptism in front of the font. The other missionaries had other assignments in the tours. And, though I moved, I did get to teach English this week. Lots of new experiences!
My new shoes compared with my year old shoes.
Got my package! Loved everything. The candles said they were for my cake...was there supposed to be a cake in the package too? I may just use them on the brownies. Everyone is excited for those. They all loved the mint M&M's. Praying on the knees wasn't anything too profound. Just an important way to improve our prayers, backed up by a few scriptures (Daniel and Enos, and others). Time is flying! Love you all. Keep on doing great things and remembering our eternal goals. 

-Elder Wesley Morgan

Monday, May 20, 2013

Mi Cumpleaños

It is weird to be 20 years old. But that is part of life. Guess I'm more of a man now? In response to Brittany's question about the cigarettes*, we just soaked the cigarettes and put them in the trash. The box-burning was more symbolic.

It has been a great week. I will tell you about 2 investigators I haven't mentioned. First is Jacinto, who the missionaries have visited every once in a while for a long time. He is an old man with rheumatoid arthritis and prostate cancer. He is in a lot of pain and cannot move much. He also doesn't have much support from anyone. So we go by sometimes and sing hymns to him (and he sings songs for us, too). We read the scriptures too sometimes. As we always try to do, we invited him to be baptized, but he really needs to be in a better physical state to start coming to church. Unless someone can give him a ride every week. Any volunteers? Haha.  We have given him a blessing and he has a lot of faith in God. I told him that if he is still here in this life, it is because the Lord still has a mission for him, probably to help us appreciate what we have, see his example of faith, and learn to care for those in need. Then there is Blanquita, who we found this week. She reminds me a bit of Susan Boyle. She is a little old lady who goes into dangerous parts of town in the middle of the night to drag her drunk son back home. She is not afraid of his drug-addict friends and uses a belt to beat him, her ex-husband, or anyone else who tries to hurt her. She is a lot of fun to listen to. She also jumped at the opportunity to give her son a message that will help him change. So keep them all in your prayers. 

We really need to find more people to teach, so I am going to try teaching English classes for the first time. Gema has stopped progressing a bit, for some personal problems. Not many people who we invite are coming to church, including all the less-active members who tell us they know they need to start coming back. But I have learned a lot about stewardship and authority in this area. I don't have the responsibility to reactivate all of them, though sometimes I would like to. I can encourage them to fulfill their member-missionary duties and be good examples of keeping the commandments. But I cannot receive revelation to help them overcome their problems. We also had a companionship who was worried because their bishop was authorizing someone who may or may not have been worthy to perform a baptism. I had to tell them we really don´t have any say in that. So, like I said, I am learning a lot about leadership, especially in the church. 

It was a great week that was a lot colder and rainier. On Tuesday the streets flooded and Elder Ratliff (I was on companion exchanges) and I splashed our way home with very wet socks. Things like that are actually really good--they remind us why we are here and how important is to sacrifice for this cause. Elder Holland's talk in October also motivates me a lot. 

In the phone call I didn't want to say anything in front of my companion, and I am trying to be as positive as I can. Honestly, we have argued a lot more than I have with anyone else. But thankfully, it has improved. We are learning not to get frustrated over little things and how to let hard feelings go. We get along great now. Last night we got in a bit of an argument, but we put it behind us and were able to continue with all the planning and number-reporting we needed to do. That would not have happened a few weeks ago. While reading Our Legacy, I have been wondering why there are not as many miracles now as there were in the early church. One of the many answers I have found is that miracles are not always prophecies or visions. Sometimes they are things like that experience I had last night--forgiveness, getting along. Day-to-day things that are very important in the long run. I am learning a lot that will help me be a better husband.

And as far as the food goes, it is kind of funny that I couldn´t think of a favorite food. The thing is, all the food here is pretty good. Every once in a while it is amazing, but luckily I have only had one or two things that were very weird. I love chipa and milanesa, but I wouldn't put them as my favorite foods because everyone makes them differently. They can be very good or very mediocre. Yeah, that's Paraguayan food. 

Last week there were two days off from school/work for Independence day and Mother's Day. School is the opposite of what it is in the states, they have Summer vacations in December, January, and February. I do hope to go to the temple soon, but even if there is a session in English, I will do it in Spanish. I have always wanted to see how that is. I miss the temple, but I am helping other people get there--William got his recommend and Aaronic Priesthood. Thanks for all the news and birthday wishes. Keep praying (on your knees...I studied today about why that is important) for me and the rest of the Lord's missionaries throughout the world. Love you all!

*I had been nervous that he burned the whole box of cigarettes and would die of lung cancer.  I should have known that Wesley is smarter than that.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Excellent Week

Little things that made me happy this week: We had interviews with the President. I feel like he has a lot more confidence in me. Rather than just looking at me as the surprisingly young Zone Leader, he tells me about his plans and asks my opinion on many of the missionaries in our Zone. With the extra money at the end of last month we bought extra boxes of cereal and White Chocolate Oreos. It has been too long since I ate those. And I gave my first baby blessing for Miguel & Gema´s baby in church. I was very nervous. Might be the only time I am allowed to hold a baby on my mission.

The view from Elder Morgan's apartment.  Argentina is on the other side of the river.
Big things that make me happy: the investigators. We taught Iván, a friend of the bishop´s son who is preparing to get baptized. When reminding him of the date he said "my sister is turning 15...." I was expecting another excuse because Quinceñeras are a big deal sometimes. But then he said, "and she should get baptized before that. Can she get baptized with me?" Haha, we definitely allowed it. They are great. As is the Duarte family. We could not get permission this week to baptize them, but we had them write letters to their dad so he finally lets them. It also makes me very happy to teach Miguel & Gema. They are so happy to be coming back to church and she has absolutely no problem with getting baptized. The only problem is getting them married. She doesn´t turn 18 until June 20th. So we could wait until then to do it, or try to get her famliy to come down from the Chaco. I would love to do it as soon as possible, for many reasons. One of which is that I would love to be in their sealing in a year.

The Duarte Family
I would also love to do that for William, who is getting baptized this week! Haha, he is a huge miracle who we found just Saturday. His wife is Arminda, a more or less active member. He has been taught several times, but never could quite smoking or give up his Jehovah´s Witness beliefs. He just got back form a surfing trip in Uruguay, and he says he is ready to do both. He gave us is his box of cigarrettes to burn. He smokes because he has anxiety issues--he reminds me of Dallin Carlson in the way he trembles. We are trying everything we can so he can quit completely and get baptized this week. May is going to be filled with baptisms.

The box of cigarettes they burned for William
They did not change the Zone Leader title, just the title of our "Zone Leader´s Council." I am definitely writing Corbin and Truman now. We go to internet cafes to email, and we have to be very strict on time. The focus on repentance came from our new area president, Walter F. Gonzalez. I do have my companions sign the title of liberty flag. That is a great idea, as is the mission map.

This is Elder Taborga, who happened to have a Colts shirt one of his companions gave him.
Being a missionary is a very happy thing. It´s a pure, lasting happiness that I am very grateful for. The Book of Mormon is the answer to just about any question (and we have had a LOT of people question us this week). And the Atonement of Christ is the center of our purpose in this life. I love you all so much!

-Elder Wesley Morgan