Monday, October 28, 2013

More baptisms! Woohoo!

This truly is the Lord´s work. Once again, we spent a lot of time looking for houses, and the week ended with baptisms and confirmations. I don´t have pictures (My camera battery is officially dead...I¨ll let you know what kind it is next week if it would be possible to send a new one), but we had six people in white! Liza and her twin daughters, Analía (who I baptized) and Anayeli are now members of the church. They have such strong testmonies, and the YW President (President Burger´s wife) surprised us by giving them full scripture sets and Personal Progress manuals. She also gave all that to their sister Silvia, who is going to need a little more time before getting baptized. Delfina keeps coming to church, so we just need to get the marriage plans ready! Also, our Zone pulled some miracles and we had nine confirmations yesterday--that was also great!

But after that...we don´t have absolutely anyone. ALL of our extra time has been house-shopping. It isn´t easy here in Paraguay, where directions, contact information, and business negotataions are pretty informal. One cultural thing I don´t know if I mentioned: They always wear flip-flops. Even when doing construction or moving jobs. It´s pretty funny. And the only interesting news about the house is that we found some "hippies", for lack of a better word, (one is from Minnesota) who showed us their house where they do Reiki Therapy. Seems like pseudoscience mixed with religion and massages. Interesting experience to lighten up a day of non-spiritual work. We just have to remember that what we are doing is important. Just glad I am not in the office where they do things like this every day, haha.

The Kellers (the senior couple) are amazing. They are working with the District President to reignite the home teaching program. Most people give a lot of excuses as to things that have already been tried and don´t work, but we still have to keep trying! District conference is this weekend, so I am excited to see how things start to change.

We sang "Teach me to walk in the Light" and "Love one another" (there is an incredible EFY type CD that has two singers, one of whom I think is Freddy Ashby singing those two songs, which is why we chose them). And I just got out of choir practice. Elder Brown put together a 30-person mission choir for a conference we will have next month with ELDER CHRISTOFFERSON! I´m pretty excited. The practice went very very well. Right before that was the Leadership council, which was also great, as always. We have to do the training THIS Friday because next week is transfers (that´s when Elder Leishman goes home), so I'll let you know the details about what we are teaching and how it goes. President Agazzani was pretty direct about how what we teach should be exactly what we heard today or we´re like the people who created the Great Apostasy, haha.  So I´ll talk more about how both went next week.

We did also have our primary program...not quite as organized, but still spiritual. Elder Leishman is very focused for having so little time left. He always talks about how happy he for the experiences he has had, and how all the challenges were worth it. My two suit pants are the hot ones, and I have one left that I brought (the washable ones) and two that I have found. (You can find ANYTHING in old apartments--books, clothes, personal care supplies...) So I´ll be fine. I did hear about that missionary movie, and I will be interested to see it. It´s great to be a missionary, and every member can participate!
-Elder Morgan the Older

My mom found this picture on a Missionary Mom Facebook page... Elder Morgan's zone, taken sometime this summer

Monday, October 21, 2013

Wonderfully exhausted

Well, this week was insane. It started Monday night when the assistants called us to do exchanges the next day, and I finally got to work with Elder Brown! We had planned to go do house inspections, a new assignment from the mission which is a huge workload in this Zone. So we had to move those to Wednesday and Thursday. We also had to help the sisters in our ward move, and I learned that it is not a good idea to do that in church clothes. Elder Brown and I were already tired. We went out to visit the Castro family, who had given us some unclear doubts about why they didn´t want to come back to church and baptize their 9-year-old daughter. But when we arrived, they didn´t put up any fight at all. It was great! The service was very nice, and two other nine year old girls (one from the sisters, and one from another branch nearby called Eusebio Ayala) were baptized. It shows that the parents need to take a bit more responsibility, but salvation is salvation. I was also very impressed by the fact that all three mothers (none of the inactive fathers came) mentioned that their daughters had made their own decision. The best part might be that the one we baptized is named Milagros--miracles in Spanish. And it truly was.

Elder Brown tried to do the same thing with Emilio, but he is as stubborn as ever. We also ran to look at that big house, but no go. We have had to spend most of our time looking, and we have a deadline of THIS Thursday now! The two missionaries who are coming are going to be Zone Leaders in when the zone splits. 4 Zone Leaders, 2 Sisters, and 1 Couple in the same branch will be crazy. Luckily, we have been able to keep visiting the Melgarejos, who keep progressing, but aren´t sure if they are ready to take the step of faith and get baptized this Saturday. We´ll see what we can to do help them tonight.
Apart from that, my only other news is that Elder Leishman and I sang two primary hymns in Spanish, Guaraní, and English yesterday. He never sang before the mission, but it actually went well. There are also some Russians and Germans in our ward who sing all the hymns in german, so we just have quite the mess of languages. Last week we went to the Basilica and saw the Virgin statue. Interesting. We also got to go in the dome above and see the city. Unfortunately, I had camera problems, as I have been having all my mission, so I will have to find another chance to go back and take pictures, though I have to admit that everything Daniel sent surpasses it by far. I also loved getting pictures from everyone!

It is ridiculously hot and humid, but I have been able to find some old pants that missionaries have left, so I don´t have to wear my suit pants except on Sundays (they are pretty thick and itchy in the humidity). I did use my thermals a lot in the winter month(s), because it got very very cold. But now...I don´t know what to do with it. I do have everything I need, and I am thankful for the blessings the Lord gives us, even when we haven´t had much time to work in our area. One other thing we had to do was make the arrangements for a new missionary we sent home today. He was not prepared for the mission in several ways, but I do feel bad for him. Please pray for him, for me, for the house, for the new converts, for the Melgarejos, for us to find other people to teach, and all the other normal things. I love you all and I am so thankful for your support!

Monday, October 14, 2013

House Shopping

First and foremost--the investigators. Of the miracle Melgarejo family, on the 12-year-old twins Analía and Anayeli came to church, and they had to leave early. But they really liked the Young Women´s classes. But we had a great lesson with the family the night before. They had asked about why only we have the authority to baptize and who the Nephites are. Reading 3 Nephi 11 was a great way to answer both questions. They are still getting ready to be baptized on the 26th, as is Delfina, who we are also teaching with the Sostoa family. She is the oldest son´s girlfriend, and they just moved to Ca´acupe. She seemed really quiet in the lesson, but she also loved church. She is pregnant with her second child, so I think she really likes the emphasis on families.

Then the story continues with Emilio. We devised a plan to have him come teaching with us. He got to see how much work it is to find people to teach, and we intentionally visited a lot of less-active families who asked him "Why aren´t you a member yet?!" Some of them are people with testimonies who just don´t want to keep the commandments, which we are trying to use to show him that he just needs to act on what he knows is true. He loves practicing English, though he is fairly slow at learning. Yesterday when we were talking about what he would need to be baptized, and he said he needs to learn more, I said "YOU KNOW EVERYTHING!" That he understood, haha. He´s really fun to have around, but we are just praying so hard that he will get his answer from the Lord and make up his mind to get baptized, maybe even this Saturday.

Not much else to talk about. We did do the Zone training, which was interesting to be doing again. I feel like everything we did helped the missionaries, but we could have explained to the District leaders a bit more of what their role was (they spent a lot of time talking when we wanted more demonstrations and practices). But overall, I enjoyed it.

It will be easier when the Zone splits next transfer, which is now official. President visited a few branches to approve some new houses. We are going to be receiving new missionaries in three of the branches, including ours. So we have to dedicate a lot of time to house shopping. Luckily, we found a great one nearby, which might even be big enough for the four of us. Besides finding a house for the new Elders that will come, we need to move out because there is a single lady living in the beauty salon downstairs. So please pray for us to be able to do that.

There are 13 Zones in the mission, with two or three districts in each. I heard Corbin is a ZL over 40 missionaries which is insane. Here 8 missionaries in a district is the maximum, with no more than 3 districts in a zone. And it is sad to hear what happened in Truman´s mission. I´ll have to write to him and see how everyone is handling it.

As far as your talk goes, I think the best thing I could say is that missionary work is truly guided by the Lord. He will never abandon us if we believe in him. That guidance only comes through preparation and participation. Like Elder Maynes said, you can´t learn how to play basketball by watching the NBA. You have to go out and do it! It´s the same with missionary work. I have learned most everything by making mistakes and trusting in God to help me improve. The other day we had a meeting with our district leaders. They were letting us know what challenges they are facing, and I found the counsel to help them just coming out of my mouth naturally. When we are focused on helping others, not our own desires, the Lord can work through us, and it is the same for every member or missionary who wants to participate.

Well, I wish you luck with your great new temple calling, along with Tony & Jed in their new jobs, Danny with his grad school applications, and Brittany, Heather and Daniel. Thanks for keeping me posted, even with the sad things. I´ve heard that something is happening in that important for me to know about? In any case, I hope all is well. Love you all!
-Elder Wesley Morgan

Monday, October 7, 2013

Rededicate Myself

The English room at General Conference
Well, I loved Conference as always. We only have one investigator who came, Emilio. He is awesome. He comes to the English classes we started (Wednesdays, like Daniel), because he loves learning English. He has been investigating and coming to church off and on for a year and a half. Even the members ask him when he'll finally get baptized, but he doesn't want to commit. We're just trying what worked with Paola--let him know that we aren't going to pressure him, it's his decision, and we'll work hard to help him feel comfortable with it. He came to Priesthood and both Sunday sessions, and he watched them with us in the English broadcast room. I don't think he understood much, but like the story in India (?), I believe he felt the Spirit of it.

Apart from him, we have one other investigator who we were really hoping would come, Cheli. She has also been investigating for a while (a couple months), and knows it's true, but doesn't want to commit for lack of time. We also found a miracle family--The Melgarejos--who just happened to be doing a family night with the Sostoa (members) one evening. They told us they wouldn't have time for conference, but they really want to know more. We're watching "On the Way Home" with them tonight.

Back to the Conference. Like the subject line says, I feel like the theme of the conference was rededicating ourselves to be better. I loved Elder Maynes' talk about treating trials like a Spiritual workout. I felt the Spirit in so many talks I can't even remember, but I do like seeing the recurring themes between conferences. Many apostles speak about the same things they always do, but it's important! Les Miserables was mentioned again, and in the priesthood session someone said the phrase from last priesthood session that I loved--Don´t die with your music in you. It's so true. All that people will remember here--missionaries and investigators--are what I taught them to do. I will leave this country at some point, but if I lift and inspire others my legacy will stay here.

Elder Dube's talk was incredible--exactly what the branches in this city need. Never look back; we still have work to do! It is a branch we are in, and it's actually pretty big. That picture was a group in the Elders' house in Tobatí. There are a couple areas like that--very far away with small branches or groups. Yes, we are Zone Leaders, so we have a lot of work to do. The city itself is very nice near the Basilica (more urban and less Guaraní than Ca´aguazú), but there are some rural parts, too. With Elder Leishman going home, I can also be sure that I will be here for the infamous 8 de Diciembre.
Other little things: Two of the Sisters here are from Nicaragua (Diriomo and Ciudad Sandino), but only one has heard of Juan Sacasa. We got chased by a large, angry turkey. That's a first. The Arnold's came up to visit the Kellers for conference, so it was good to see them again. Our Branch president is President Burger from Germany. He speaks English and Spanish, and all the missionaries go to his house on Tuesdays to eat and talk about progress.

I am excited for the Zone training. This time it will involve a lot of help from the District Leaders, and one interesting thing we will teach is President Agazzani's new way to ask questions. Rather than ask if someone wants to do something, it is often more effective to ask them when or how they will. That was easy while asking which session of conference people would go to or when they will read the Book of Mormon chapter we assigned. It also works with members. Rather than tell the bishop it is his duty to send someone to preside at every baptism, you can say "Bishop, we are planning the baptismal service and we want to know who is going to preside. Will it be you or one of your counselors?" Pretty indirect way to give people a push in the right direction, which they often need.

We have a lot to worry about. But, as always, I love hearing how everyone is doing. I hope you can all apply what you learned in Conference. It really is a great time to be a member of the church and participate in missionary work. There's not much more you can ask for than inviting people unto Christ. Love you all!

-Elder Morgan the Older