Monday, August 26, 2013

Hace Frio, Che ra´a

"A few weeks ago when we made pancakes, eggs, and bacon together."
"The day the Assistants came to do exchanges a couple of weeks ago."

"Elder Jessop´s package that cost much much more to send ($90) than the value of the contents. He was pretty excited for everything."
"Me on a typical P-day trying to take care of a lot of things at once."

Okay, the pictures tell some of the stories of things that have happened in the past weeks. It is once again cold and rainy, which means that few people want to come to church or let us in. It does make for some fun experiences in the mud when we sink in past our ankles and our shoes get stuck. We did find some great new people--Cristian and Norma, who live close to our house, are very open and friendly, know lots of members, read their assigned chapter in the Book of Mormon!, and are willing to help their cousin (our investigator) come to church. We also found three young girls (The Rivas family) who are former investigators and believe in everything. They used to come to church a lot, but they have some family opposition. Reynold Aguilar, the recently RM, is helping us with them.

And, one other person from the past appeared again--Carlos Molinas, the man who was very emphatic about reading the Book of Mormon to find out if it was true or false. He had read a little, but not enough to make a sure judgement. It was a pretty intense lesson. I explained the Apostasy with just about every detail I know, and my companion told him pretty directly that he hasn´t read, prayed, and come to church enough to say that the Book of Mormon is false. He was speechless after all that, but I don´t know if he has a sincere desire to change. It is always hard to know how forward to be with people, especially with seeing the bold examples in the scriptures of prophets inviting people to repent. But we were as loving as we could be--the only part that offended him was when we explained that until he receives the gift of the Holy Ghost, he can´t have it with him 100% of the time. He was certain that he is always feeling the Spirit...I am grateful that Elder Maynes told us to just teach the truth and not worry about losing investigators.

We had a district activity, playing soccer together on an indoor court. That, along with the cold weather, got me a little sick. But we keep working! The district meeting was interesting. I told the missionaries about learning experiences and regrets I have had so that they can avoid making the same mistakes, and invited them to do the same. We are having a lot of difficulties, and it was sad to see that some of them don´t realize how much more obedient and diligent they could be. But, I'll be patient with all of the wonderful people here in Paraguay whom I have been called to serve.

I am grateful for all the interesting news from everyone. Life is a time of tests and challenges, but the rewards are eternal and infinite. I have seen the added emphasis on missionary work, and realized that it was not just something I am noticing more because I am a part of it. This is a great time to be a missionary, and like it says in Preach My Gospel, EVERY missionary (and member missionary) has an important role in bringing to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. I love you all!

Elder Morgan the Older

Monday, August 19, 2013

Life is Good

It is great to hear how everyone is doing, even if it appears small. I enjoy hearing what you are doing so I can pray for you and feel like I know what is going in your lives--especially Daniel in Madrid.

As for me, I am doing very well. We finally had someone in church!! Jimmy, a recent convert, brought his brother Madi. We have been working a long time to get him to come, and we are hoping his other brother comes soon. Maybe they´ll come to the "Game Night" we are planning this wednesday. Two people on my happy list are Luis and Gregoria. Luís is a 13-year-old kid who lives next to his cousin, one of our investigators. He reads the Book of Mormon and is always waiting with Blas (his cousin) anytime there is an appointment. Gregoria is similar. We are teaching her dad, Angel, who told us he lives alone (he's friendly...but a little senile). She came and listened to us, and we found out she used to come to church. Hope to get them in church and in the baptismal font soon.

Angel lives out in San Pedro, a small neighborhood we are going to for the first time. We also found a man named Gregorio, who was very interesting. He has been praying for a companion so he can preach the gospel (he is Protestant), and we tried to show him that we were sent by God to help him. His problem is his wife. She hates the Book of Mormon and us, and she never lets him really think about accepting the fulness of the gospel. This week, as always, we have found a lot of people like her who don´t want to change, but it is hard when one of them wants to and the other one doesn´t.

The District meeting this week was a little disastrous. The Elders spent WAY too much time talking about their investigators and we couldn´t get much done. Luckily, we had a meeting with the Zone Leaders, and I was able to set more definite goals and plans for how I can help my district improve. Elder Ballard in Preach My Gospel says that if we don´t learn to set goals we will never achieve our potential, and with all my personal and companionship goal-setting, I have neglected setting goals for how I want to help the district. Lots to do, but I am really excited for the future. I really like living with Elder Johnson and Elder Moffet. They are great Zone Leaders, and they focus more on the people than the numbers, which makes me feel like I can do the same. I don´t like pressuring missionaries to baptize or things like that, and it really isn´t the way to do things. Those two are very supportive, and the four of us are always talking and laughing in the apartment. Definitely a fun group to live with.

The members are also great. They are so generous to always give us lunch. Even people with almost nothing are willing to share what they have. This week Reynold, a member here, came back from his mission. I was excited to start working with him that day, and I was a little let down when he had other things to do the whole weekend. He´s a good guy, and he might be called as our new ward mission leader, so I am sure he will be able to help us as soon as he settles in. But it was an eye-opener about how things will change in the blink of an eye as soon as I leave this country. It made me pretty sad to realize that I´ll be going back to Utah, where there aren´t many missionary opportunities. I am sure that the Lord will give me chances to serve his children as long as I am faithful with the responsibilities he gives me. I want to be a missionary all my life, whether it´s for investigators, members, or my own family.

I love this work. I don´t know if you´ve noticed, but the past few months have been tough. Okay, the whole mission is tough, haha, and that is what makes it so worthwhile. But this week I have started to stop worrying so much about the external results and just be happy to be a missionary. It is an incredible opportunity that only comes once. It may not go how I expect, but it will all be worth it. I love teaching and testifying and everything we do. It´s like Elder Wirthlin says "Come what may, and love it."

-Elder Morgan the older...(you´re welcome Daniel)*

*Elder Morgan's  brother, Daniel, is also on a mission and suggested Wesley sign his letters "Elder Morgan the older" since they are both Elder Morgan at the moment.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Seguir el Espíritu

Dear Mom (and family),

Selva, who I mentioned last week, is progressing. Elder Jessop was sick, so Elder Moffett worked with him that day, and they were able to work for a few hours. One of the lessons was with Selva, who realized she needs to be an example for her son, not wait 3 months to get baptized with him. The other good news is that we taught Paola´s mom (Paola is a convert of mine here, not sure if you remember). She attended church for THREE years as a teenager and never got baptized because she almost drowned as a child and is afraid of water. She really likes our church, and we just need to help her recognize that there can only be one true church.

We also had a miracle with the parents of a former branch president here. They were very nice, but talked a lot. I was able to squeeze in Moroni 8:10 (I use that chapter A LOT) when they mentioned the responsibility of parents to baptize their babies, and then something amazing happened. The next time I tried to say something, the old lady said, "Wait, that makes sense. It should be the child´s own decision to get baptized. Christ said ´suffer the chilrden to come unto me´, so they are already saved. I think God just told that to me. Now I see why our son always wanted to us to be a part of his religion." I was shocked. She received an answer in the middle of a lesson just by talking herself through it! The husband also realized they need to get baptized again, but he says he´ll do it in their own church. So we have a little work, but we are going to visit them today.

Once again, I don´t have much more to say about other people we have visited. I don´t know why people are never in their houses. It is frustrating because I don´t like taking the members with us when all of our plans fall. And we still haven´t had anyone in church. I was assigned to give a talk, and as I was thinking about how to react to this, I realized that the most important part of my testimony is that I am a child of God. No challenge or earthly power can change that, or destroy God´s eternal plan for me. I had prepared a talk about the Book of Mormon, which I was so excited to give, but the Spirit prompted me to talk about that inspiration I had received. So I read Romans 8:16-18, 35-38 and winged it. 

I really am learning to follow the Spirit a lot in this area. I don´t know if there are just more bad people in this area or I am more Spiritually sensitive, but I have had several promptings not to go down certain roads or talk to certain people. I am grateful for the Lord´s protection. As always, I have had occasions when I was prompted to teach something or visit someone and ignored it, which never goes well. The mission is a great learning process.

In the Zone training we focused on inviting people to be baptized, read and pray about the Book of Mormon, and come to church, in every first lesson. It is more direct and simpler--I don´t have to worry about deciding which lesson to teach. Still, as always, I try to teach to the needs of the person. I avoid extending an invitation or teaching a principle that I feel they are not ready for (like inviting people to be baptized in contacts--only when we feel prompted to). Tomorrow in my district meeting I will try to help my district focus on applying what we learned in the training to the needs of the investigators.

My district is improving a lot, including the obedience. I did exchanges twice this week. Like I said, one was because Elder Jessop was sick. He stayed in the area both times, so I feel like I didn´t work as much, but it is good to know he is learning the area well.

We are eating well. We have appointments with members almost every day this week, most of whom are people we have never eaten with. Like yesterday, we ate with a less active member who hadn´t received visits from the missionaries in a year. They won a drawing for a large quantity of steak and sausage, which they say was a blessing for offering us lunch. It was sooo good. We are also buying new foods (like bacon!) and eating well the few times we cook at home. Sometimes the members´ food doesn´t agree with our digestive system, but it´s a necessary sacrifice.

The weather is crazy. Freezing one day, hot the next. That´s kind of how I am emotionally sometimes, haha. Luckily today I am feeling very happy to be a missionary. I know I am creating unforgettable memories. I am always trying to enjoy the moment, while looking for even more ways to improve. We´ll see what the Lord has in store for me this week. Please keep praying for me, as I always do for you. 

Elder Wesley Morgan

Monday, August 5, 2013

Faith, Hope, and Charity

Well, there is a lot to write this week. We´ll see if I can write more than Daniel. Haha, I do love hearing how he is doing. Proselyting in the MTC is a crazy but awesome experience. To answer your questions--Elder Lopez is in my district, but not my apartment. Did you ask Kate if she knows him? No...I won´t be seeing that temple video for a very long time. Maybe a little early if one of my converts goes to the temple! It is hard to find the people we contact sometimes because there are no directions (and sometimes they lie--the people here are very kind and don´t like rejecting us directly, but false directions are even worse). But with those people we have taught...I don´t know. It seems to be a common problem in Paraguay. People just aren´t always at home when they say they will be. Apart from work, they don´t have many fixed things in their schedule. But sometimes, it is fairly inexplicable.

The answer to my other question came to me a few days later. People are often afraid to be wrong. Someone here told me that he has found people who don´t like learning because they know it means more responsibility. I believe that, deep down, the people who "believe so much" in God but won´t even listen to us are afraid that they will find out that something they believe is wrong or that they will have to change. Easier just to say no. And, like you said, that is Satan´s influence.

And yes, I am learning SO MUCH every week. Every day. We went to Asunción to do a training exam--to see if we are following the training study program and being obedient. We were separate from our companions, and President Agazzani was disturbed by how many new missionaries expressed serious concerns about obedience or lack of participation. Glad my companion and I are obedient and hard-working. One thing I did realize while watching videos there is that I don´t love the people as much as I used to. I was so excited at the beginning of my mission to change everyone´s lives, and not everything turned out how I expected it. I still work hard, but I think because of all the people who disappear, turn us down, or just don´t care enough to keep progressing, I have stopped getting my hopes up as high. But that needs to change. I am studying a lot about charity to make sure that I love these people and see their potential, even if they don´t. 

I also learned that I need to have more faith that people will feel the spirit and accept the baptismal invitation. The assistants came to our zone and did a lot of exchanges: I got to work with one of them, Elder Cuases, for a few hours so I could do a baptismal interview. He is a good friend of mine from the MTC, and he just finds a way to get everyone to accept a baptismal date. I was talking to my companion about it afterwards, kind of doubting that we could do the same. But Elder Jessop, with his huge faith, basically said, Why not? And right after that conversation we found two young adult men, José and Monche, who understood very well why they need to get baptized to be saved and do it in the way Jesus did (immersion, not as a baby--the Book of Mormon is awesome!). Monche wants to pray more to be sure, but they both accepted the date. And Monche is actually using internet right next to us...what a miracle!

That is also why we invite people to be baptized in street contacts. I have always enjoyed talking to people in the street, but it is new to invite them to be baptized. Again, I just need to have faith and remember that we are "Hastening the Work" like they said in the recent conference.

I learned that I need to be firmer with my district in their planning and obedience. I don´t like correcting people because I don´t like being reprimanded, but I have to realize that making sure they are exact in the planning and obedience will help them in the end. I´m too nice to sound angry even if I try...but I think more constant reminders will help them. Man, I am going to be a lot better father than I would have been without a mission.

The mission is wonderful, and I wouldn´t want to be anywhere else. But it is the first time in my life where I can work my hardest and still not see the results I want. Still no one in church. But we are improving in so many ways, and we have hope for the future. Especially because we found Celva Britos, who is married to the son of the first members in Ca´aguazú. She has been to church several times and wants to get married in the temple, but her inactive husband just wants to take his time to come back to church in October when his 8-year-old son gets baptized. She is great, as is her mother-in-law, who we just met. We have a family night with them tonight. 

Another part-member family is Jorge Amarilla. He is 35 and his parents are members. He has talked to a lot of missionaries and does not like to be pressured, but for some reason I feel like he is close to making a decision. He is reading and praying and knows he needs to get baptized, we just need to teach him lovingly and help him recognize the spirit. His dad is very inactive, and he has pretty much said he just doesn´t want to end up like that. And we are always finding other people who could also be baptized soon. It is a marvelous work! 

Two more things. My companion is learning Spanish very fast, but still can´t make the rr sound. Do you or the girls know how to teach someone that? Also--hope this doesn´t worry you too much--after a few days I realized that a blister on my foot was in a place that does not rub, and actually wasn´t a blister. It was pike, a little worm. Luckily you showed me how to take things out with a sterilized needle, and it only hurt the day after when I was walking around with small hole in my foot. But things are great now! New experiences, wonderful people, and I have almost been in Paraguay for a whole year. Wow!

Love you so much,
Elder Wesley Morgan