Monday, December 30, 2013

3 Weeks Behind

"These are the pictures from Rodrigo´s baptism awhile ago. Good news: this week he got confirmed. His dad is in that picture, but he hasn´t been to church since. There have been lots of complications, he has problems with his neighbors, and we are trying to do all we can do bring peace on earth and goodwill to all men. Mostly we´re just thankful that Rodrigo is an official member of the church!"

"Sorry I didn´t tell you beforehand about these two Christmas activities. I have lots to think about, and we had spent so much time planning them I was sure I had mentioned them. Like I said, no one showed up for the open house, but we had a great group of missionaries there."

"The next day was our Christmas activity with all those musical numbers. I didn´t take pictures of many of those (I was singing in some of them--I really like the Spanish Primary song "Estrella de Luz"). This is the Nativity play where President took people out of the audience to participate. It was a lot of fun, especially for Delfina, who is normally pretty shy, but as the only pregnant woman in the branch had to be Mary by default. Alberto, her husband, loved every moment. He reminds me a lot of Jed."

"These next ones are all from the Christmas activity. We had half the mission there on thursday (our day), and the other half on Friday (Elder Jessop was in that one, so I didn´t get to see him. But I heard he´s training!!) We hiked the Cerro Lambaré, which was short and easy. Played some games there at the top, then we had a white elephant gift exchange (passing them in a circle) like last year. Then we played sports, had relay races--including a watermelon eating relay between the zone leaders. It was very, very fun. With all the stress of the branch and the zone,  I was so happy to have a free, fun day with other missionaries. That doesn´t ever happen, but It really did help."

"The Kellers at the activity."

"Our tug-of-war team at the top of the hill. We won! I´m in front, with my companion right behind me."

"Elder Adamson and I eating watermelons. Woohoo."

Well, I kind of have to update you on the past three weeks. I talked about some things in my other emails that you can string together to see the parts of the story that are missing. This will be more like a Daniel email--lots of quick sentences about things that happened.

I mentioned the Garcias in the photos. They have a niece who lives nearby who asked us to walk with them to church. She´s 10 and very sweet. With the support of the Garcías, she´ll be baptized soon. Silvia has pretty much disappeared, which makes me very sad. But I did what I could and her time will come. Gustavo Resquín continues to come to church, but not the classes. We´ll get him there this week and hopefully he´ll find the courage to be baptized. Cristian and Ilse are still waiting for the divorce. He´s the one telling her she needs to make time for the Book of Mormon, and he wants his family and friends to be baptized after him. Oddly enough, they didn´t come to church yesterday, so we´ll have to find out what happened.

Then we´ve got the Castro family (my other 9-year-old convert), who we are still breaking our skulls to figure out what they need to come back to church. We talked about tithes and offerings because they have financial issues (fasting can also help). They said that in their 6 years as members, no missionary has ever taught them fast offering. Moral of the story--don´t be afraid, the people need the blessings of making sacrifices so they can progress.

I´m also frustrated with the Centurión family. Lessons with members who now attend other churches are very awkward. We talked about the Atonement, and it is obvious they are trying to tell themselves what they are doing isn´t wrong. I bore one of the strongest testimonies of my life--I was close to crying--telling them that they need to believe that the Atonement IS powerful enough to help them forgive and come back to the church that THEY KNOW is true. I would have never said things like that a year and a half ago, but I´ve learned that we have to be direct, sincere, and teach what Christ would say if he himself where there. The spirit was strong, and they thanked us for the visit but they are firm in their decision to keep going to another church "for now."

Other great experience that I didn´t have time to tell you on Wednesday. We found a group of 20-22-year olds sitting around the other day who actually let us teach them. One of them showed me his tattoos and could tell I was uncomfortable. He asked why, and though I wasn´t sure they would take it seriously, I offered to sit down and answer as many questions as they had. We started with a prayer, and an hour and a half later they didn´t want us to leave. They asked about baptism, the restoration, worshipping images, chastity (we were VERY direct about that, and they also said no one has ever told them it was wrong to live together without being married), what happens after this life, how to repent, the word of wisdom, what we do as missionaries and why we chose to come here, and much, much more. It was very spiritual, and there was never more than a 3-second pause between questions. I am so grateful to have studied PMG well, and I know the Spirit gave us the answer to all of their questions. It also works to ask people questions--"Does it make sense that babies are baptized when Jesus was baptized as an adult?" Questions like that have been helping me in lots of lessons. They´re pretty busy (one of them--Jorge--is a pro soccer player), but we are excited to go back and teach them again.

I also taught a man in the bus about the restoration--in English!! He lived in Indianapolis, but is from Uruguay. He teaches English here, and he is a member of the Salvation Army--he explained that it´s a church, not just a charity like most people think. I would love to talk more about that lesson, too, but time is short!

As far as things after the mission go, feel free to ask me when you need to. I don´t love talking about it, not because I am afraid of being unfocused, but because I am actually a little worried. I have been praying a lot, and that idea of working with the Educational system has been on my mind for months. I think I'll have to sign up for my own classes when I get back and make a firm decision on what to do. As far as work goes, I have also felt the impression that EFY isn´t for me. But I really want to come back and start working. I don´t want to go from being busy all day to nothing--that would depress me a lot. But I also need a job that will let me study full time in the fall--which is most important. There is a lot to worry about, seeing as I'll have to be saving for a future family and all that. It´s not just saving up for my mission and the fun things I want. Definitely a big change, but I think it´ll be okay. For now, I´ll keep you posted on how the work of Salvation is going here in Ca´acupé, Paraguay. I am so grateful to be a part of it!!

Elder Morgan the Elder

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