Monday, September 30, 2013

New Area; Old Friend

Well, we´ll start off by talking about how my time in Ca´aguazú ended with a bang. After having two decent, but average days, we went to our last lesson with María, who lives with the less-active members. She hadn´t been reading the Book of Mormon much and had some doubts about baptism. The members sort of took control of the lesson, and we didn´t get to talk much. But the most important part was the end when we invited her to pray. She said a very long prayer, thanking the Lord in detail for the blessings of the Restoration. Everyone felt the Spirit very strong, and while they all got up, I kept kneeling, and she did too. I asked her how she felt, what she believed about the church, and when she wanted to get baptized. She said "this month." We were so happy! She is an incredible person, and that was a great last lesson to have with her. In the leadership council today, I was able to find out that she will get baptized in two weeks, and Marta (who I mentioned last week), did get baptized on Saturday--Elder Jessop performed his first baptism.
"I happened to have my camera, and there wasn´t anyone around, so I took a picture of what Ca´aguazú looks like on my last day."
Now for the crazy part. I am in Ca´acupe with a familiar friend--Elder Leishman! I am so excited to work with him. I am still getting caught up on sleep from the travelling, and we work so hard we are always exhausted. The area is gorgeous. We live in the state right next to Asunción, which is called "Cordillera" (mountain range), and it´s true--there are actually small mountains (part of why we walk a lot). We live in the center of town, which is very, very touristic due to the famous "Virgen de Ca´acupe," which is housed in a HUGE Cathedral close to our apartment. I hear that December is going to be crazy here.
"My 'new' companion, who is shining my shoe for the Leadership council."
We also have a lot of rural parts in our area and in the zone. It is a very large zone, with 24 missionaries, two of whom are the other senior couple in the mission, The Kellers from South Carolina. Of the 11 normal companionships, FIVE are sisters (up until now I haven´t met that many sister missionaries) and SEVEN are trainer&new missionary. It´s a young zone, and it used to be part of the North mission. Some of the missionaries are serving in groups, which are even smaller than branches. It´s the biggest zone in the mission, so we travel a lot, but it will probably be divided next change. So there is a lot of work to do!
"My new, small apartment. We live right on a busy street, very close to Burger King and the Basilica."
Other exciting news--there are a lot of new and young leaders in the mission (2/3 of the missionaries in our mission have been out less than a year), so President decided to invite all of the district leaders to the Leadership Council, not just the zone leaders. So that was quite the adventure, coordinating travels with Elders Valle, Farroñay, and Bravo. They are all great, and I will talk more about them as time goes on. It was great to see old friends at the council, including Elder Brown and Elder Cuases, two of my best friends in the mission, who came with me and are the two assistants!! As always, we learned a lot in the council and are going to keep improving the way we work.
"Elder Herrera, an El Salvadoreño who was with me in Ca´aguazú and is now a Zone Leader."

I am also VERY excited to here that things seem to be going well back home--Tony getting a job, Brittany´s comical letter, and Daniel seems more upbeat and experiencing a lot of the missionary life I am used to. As for Pumpkin...I am not surprised.*

 I feel like I have sent a lot today, but I have bit more of fun things. On Saturday the missionaries from Tobatí baptized a lady in a wheelchair. They used a metal chair in the font and two people. It was complicated, but very spiritual because you could see how much patience and faith she had the in the missionaries. Then Bishop Jorge Gomez from my first area randomly showed up to sacrament meeting here (he was baptized here), so I got to find out how everyone is there. Talking to missionaries at the council I also got up to date on just about everything in my old areas. Amancio, whose brother I baptized in Amambay, is finally getting baptized. And that family of 5 kids in Costa Bonita who broke my heart because their dad wouldn´t give them permission? He left, and now the mom is going to get baptized with her kids! 

Life is great! Love you all!

*Our 18-year-old cat had to be put to sleep.  :(

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