Monday, June 24, 2013

Pray for the members!

"Genara, the baptism I performed last week even though she wasn´t my investigator"

Pictures from Leticia's baptism

Here are the pictures of the baptism last Saturday. I don't know how much I have told you about that family. Leticia is the oldest (12) of four kids that were in a very bad family situation. Two member families in our ward found out (those kids used to live nearby) and for the past few months have been going through a court and adoption process. Each family adopted two of the kids, and one of the pictures has all of the families together. The baptism went well, except that the water was VERY cold and poor Leticia was pretty startled coming out of the water. Wish there was a better way to heat it up. It has been very cold recently (almost freezing). It doesn't bother me too much, but my companion is from a hot part of Peru and it's an adjustment for him.

As far as other people go, we have stopped visiting Bryan for now because he doesn't seem to have time or interest. Paola is doing great, thanks to a strong group of young adults and institute program. Marcos...seems to have a few drug issues. We'll do what we can to help him repent, feel the spirit, and decide to get baptized. We found a lot of new people this week, but as always, finding them again is a herculean struggle. We almost always invite them to be baptized in the first visit, which helps us see who really wants to find the truth. One young man who responded well was Moisés. He asked great questions--how to be saved, what our church does, etc. When we explained that no one in our church receives a salary he said, "But the Bible says if we don't pay tithing we are robbing God!" We laughed and explained that yes, that is absolutely correct, but we use it for other programs like church construction and humanitarian work. I am excited to visit him again. He could be a great missionary.

Pictures from the temple visit

The temple was also a great experience. We got to do baptisms and confirmations while waiting, which took me back to the good ol' days. I can't even count how many times I did baptisms at the Provo temple with Heather & Daniel, Kate Schroeder, Corbin, and others. The temple will always be a special place for me. It reminds me of how sacred our commitment is to keep the commandments and how much we need to be willing to sacrifice for this gospel. Afterwards, I was able to go to the distribution center and buy a few church movies and Gospel Principles in Guaraní! That has hymns at the back, so I will able to keep singing (and learning) in Guaranì

Loved the conference yesterday. We didn't get to hear all of it, but it got me excited to work with the members. So, like I said last week, please keep praying for our members, including the leaders and active members. We need all of their help to get this work going at the pace it should be. We are having some issues with trying to involve the  members in missionary work. I will have to be patient with the progress, but I am going to work hard to encourage all the missionaries in this district to involve the members even more. I hope you all follow the impressions you received yesterday to help "hasten the work" and bring salvation to our brothers and sisters around us.

I would love to get more photos, especially of what Daniel's doing before leaving. My old pants got pretty hammered, but that may be in large part because of the poor laundry job. Not everyone is Sister Paredes in Amambay--she was the best missionary mom I have met here, and she helped us a lot in keeping our clothes clean. Thanks for all the news about Trevor, Rian, Grandpa, and the rest. I can't explain how great it is to have all of your support. Love you so much!

-Elder Wesley Morgan

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

¡In Asunción!

Haha, I hope the title doesn´t make you think I got transferred. We are in the bus terminal in Asunción waiting to go to the temple. I am pretty tired, so please forgive me if something I say isn´t coherent or is very mixed with Spanish (I have a feeling I do that more often than I realize...I also doubt if I will be able to speak English in a year). Last week the internet place was closing so I had to stop writing pretty fast. I don´t know if that was apparent.

Well I have been all over the place as a District leader. Due to this temple trip I have had two district meetings since the last email. It is always a challenge thinking of what will best suit the needs of everyone, because sometimes their needs are opposite--some focus too much on the people and not teaching doctrine, some focus too much on the lessons and not the investigators. But yesterday I did an activity that I thought would help everyone. We wrote lists of what Paraguayans need (peace, direction, etc.), what Gospel principle can help them, and what specific blessings we can promise them. Along with a teaching practice (we always do one or two), I think it really helped.

It is really good to live with the Zone Leaders and my companion. All three of them give me good ideas about how we can help the missionaries. That is one challenge of being a District Leader. As a Zone Leader you share the responsibility and pressure. Not so now. But I also have more freedom as to what I can do.

One miracle this week is a man named Marcos. My companion and Elder Moya found him while I was doing exchanges in another area. When we went back to visit him, he had read 60 pages in the Book of Mormon and remembered all of it! He thinks it´s one of the lost books from the Bible. His two problems are (1) He doesn´t want to pray to ask if it´s true until he finishes it. That is a common doubt, but he might actually do it in a reasonable amount of time. (2) He travels every weekend. So we haven´t seen him since that lesson and it will be tough to get him to church. But if he finds out this church is true, that won´t be a problem.

Leticia, the adopted daughter of the Lopez family will get baptized this week. Bryan seems to be giving in to what his apostate dad´s problems are with the Book of Mormon. We testified and told him that if he comes to church he´ll be able to feel if it´s true or not. And we did get to visit Amós again, who also wants to be baptized. There is a lot of work to be done here, including with the less active members. No country needs Home Teaching more than Paraguay. 

Oh, one more thing I almost forgot. I did the baptismal interview for a lady named Genara this week in the 4th Branch. (I´ve had to use a LOT of Guaraní this week, and I don´t know very much) Afterward, she said she wanted ME to baptize her. That has happened before, and normally I can convince the person to pick one of the missionaries in their branch, but she was pretty insistent. So it was a little odd, but nice to participate in that baptism.

All is well. I love being a missionary. This area is beautiful. The more I learn, the more I see how much I need to improve. That makes me grateful for the Atonement and the Plan of Salvation. Keep reviewing the good things you already know and focusing on the basics. Love you all!

-Elder Wesley Morgan

Monday, June 10, 2013

Come so far, still so far to go

"I put the two brownie batches together and made this cake."

"Elder Leishman and Elder Portillo enjoying the brownie cake"

Well, as you saw from my pictures, I can now admit I hit the year mark. I really have come a long way. That day in the airport no longer seems like just yesterday. I am excited for the next year, though I have no idea what is in store. I also loved the other little package. That Indiana Jones Card made my week.

The other thing that made my week was a small moment. Like I said, I have been trying to have more faith to find miracles and people who are ready to hear us, and it is working! One of those moments was with a man named Amòs. He is an old man who lives a few blocks from the chapel in a small wooden house on a big field. By talking and asking good questions, we found out his children are members of the church and he is unhappy with the leadership in his current church. We briefly taught a bit about how Christ can help us be born again and erase our pasts so we can have hope for the future-basically repentance and baptism. On our way out he said ''I usually keep my door closed. Don't know why I left it open today. I guess God must have told you to come by.'' We work hard, and it is rare that investigators express sincere appreciation for what we do. So that meant a lot to me.

It was also great that everything went well for Paola's baptism. We had to review a couple commandments right before the interview and baptism, but she is willing to do everything, including help us teach. We have a great group of young single adults here. I'll be going to the temple next Tuesday, so the day you get the email next week might be different. Thanks for letting me know about Grandpa.* Not easy to hear, but I will keep everyone in my prayers. I am glad I got write him. And I am thankful for the time I spent with him right before the mission talking about family history. Now he is part of that legacy. And I, like George Albert Smith, have the task of bringing honor to his name.

Unfortunately, like the rest of the world, there are definitely problems sometimes with people getting offended. One of these was an experience yesterday with a member named Pedro. He complained about President Agazzani and several members. This was an interesting experience because first I wanted to get defensive and remind him that he can't let others keep him from his salvation. But then I remembered that Christ is our mediator, he always takes our side. So I tried to do that and express sympathy. I hope you don't mind, but I shared some experiences you've told me about during Dad's sickness and how you commented that the most important thing was keeping your testimony. I think that helped them, and I hope to continue to be able to mend some of the breaches here in Ca'aguazù. 

I am learning a lot of Guaranì, which is fun. I did my first baptismal interview with someone who spoke only Guaranì, but understood most of my Spanish. I kind of just had to nod and get the general idea of what she said. I am also trying to learn to pray in Guaranì.

Little things you might be interested in. Preach My Gospel in the small Spanish version is now available down here, so just about everyone has one now. I also bought new belts (the other ones were getting old) and boots (the ones from missionary mall were very uncomfortable) for very cheap. Also, I have had to learn a lot about clothing care. I knew how to sew and how to polish shoes, but washing clothes was pretty new. That first week I had to wash the garments by hand. And I learned that when pants say Dry Clean Only, it's the truth. I probably should have bought and used more washable dress slacks. Live and learn. 

One other challenge I am having is learning the area. It is big, and I am a visual learner. In Amambay, where we had maps and street names, I had the area memorized quickly. But it seems I am slower than most missionaries in learning an area just by walking and remembering. That is okay, again, it is an opportunity to learn. It is just a little thing, and in everything that is important, I am doing well. Being a district leader is a lot of responsibility, but I have a great district (you can tell by the number of baptismal interviews I mention). I decided to try looking for scriptures to cross-reference to phrases and topics in my Patriarchal Blessing. That is a great activity (though it can take a long time) that I recommend to anyone. It has helped me understand my role in serving others and how many scriptures applied specifically to ME.

Only one missionary from my group, Elder Smith, went to the other mission, as far as I know. The rest are still here with me.


Elder Wesley Morgan

*Our Grandpa Morgan died on June 9th.  :(

Monday, June 3, 2013

Conference with Richard J. Maynes

I just sent an email to Grandpa. I hope he is doing well. I feel bad for not writing him more often. He has always been a great example.

The best part of this week was traveling to Asunción for an incredible conference Elder Maynes, from the Presidency of the 70. We did it in Moroni, the chapel next to the temple, which I got to see for the first time (our trip there is in two weeks). It is always great to see my friends from the mission, including those from the north mission. Elder Maynes served in the Paraguay-Uruguay mission, so he started off with a few words in Guaraní that he said he has been waiting 40 years to say. He was a great speaker and shared some incredible things that are changing the way we teach. He talked about using the Book of Mormon more and expressing love for the people right away. In Paraguay, people often refer to each other as ¨Hermano¨, so we often skip the part of ¨How to Begin teaching¨ that explains that we are all children of God. But I am trying to do that more with Romans 8:16-17. He also talked about teaching clearly when inviting people to repent so we can find those who are really interested. He told us to stop wasting time trying to convince people to be interested, something I have done many times. So that is something else I am trying to improve. It is a little frustrating, because I am realizing how many people her don't want to change. But scriptures like D&C 42:6-8, 123:12 help me not get discouraged and have faith to find those the Lord has prepared.

And an answer to that prayer---Paola. She is a friend of the young single adults in the ward who has attended church activities for years, but never church itself. She knows it's all true but has always been afraid of something. Missionaries have been trying to get her baptized for a looong time, but she does not like to feel pressured. With the baptism in our branch on Saturday, she decided to come to church. We had taught her the day before and invited her to read and pray. She hadn't prayed yet, but we talked about how she liked what she had read (3 Nephi 11) and how she felt at church. My companion had the insight to help her recognize her feelings at church as an answer, and after listening and asking questions I pretty much said, Paola (it's important to put the stress on the O...she likes that we are the first missionaries to pronounce her name right, haha), you know it's all true, and we are not going to pressure you, when do YOU want to get baptized? And, what do you know, we have a baptism this Saturday!!

She is a friend of Laura Lopez, who has a 12-year-old sister that her family is trying to adopt. That will probably be a baptism for the week after. Miracles all around! The other person we are teaching often is Brian Naumann, whose dad speaks English and is a less-active, anti-Book of Mormon member. We have had some interesting lessons with him. I´ll try to share more another week. The branch president's wife is awesome and offered to wash our garments. We found a laundromat that will wash the rest for very cheap, which is great. Just a lot of work to haul it there, but I am happy with what we found. 

So, we are working hard with the people we have and always trying to find new people. I enjoy being district leader and being able to focus more on the individual missionaries. I did 5 baptismal interviews this weekend, which was great. I am not sure how big this city is, you'll have to google that. The downtown part is fairly small, and that is where the sister missionaries work. Our area is huge, but we work in the part within a mile or two of the chapel, where there are more houses.

My companion is great to work with. He is new, so he is willing to try anything. His name is John, but everyone calls him by his middle name, Crosby (like Bing Crosby). Crosby Pacheco--how cool is that name? Before the mission he liked salsa dancing, football, and video games. Oh, when we were in Asunción we found a place that makes Seviche. He LOVED that, and I got to try a bit. Very good. I like living with four. We cook together, usually the missionary norms of rice or pasta with eggs, meat or other sauces. Love the suit, thanks for everything!

Love and prayers,
-Elder Wesley Morgan