Monday, January 27, 2014

A Happy Ending (perhaps) to Ca´acupé

"BAPTISM PHOTOS!! We have Silvia, who FINALLY GOT BAPTIZED! I have been working on convincing that girl for almost four months. Haha, well we weren´t teaching her that whole time, but it´s been quite the wait. She was even a little unsure right before entering the font, but it all turned out well. We also baptized her ex-boyfriend-who-she-wasn´t-
talking-to-but-are-friends-again-and might-possibly-starting-dating-again (teenagers...), Alex!! He is great."

Email from Sister Keller, senior missionary in Elder Morgan's mission: "We had a great weekend here in Caacupe.  Your son is such a gentleman:-)  The missionaries sang Donde Hay Amor= Where Love Is:-)  and it was lovely.  I wanted to do that song in case Elder Morgan gets transferred.  He looked at me today and said, 'How's my Mom?'  I thought that was so funny.  I told him though that I thought I would send you the pics.  Enjoy :-)"
"Here are a few of the photos I took at our district activity last week. We went to 'El Mirador,' a small scenic hill in Tobatí. It takes about a minute and a half to hike, and then you can walk around on top to see the city. So we played a few group games--Zip Bong (makes me think of Aaron Densley) and Signs (don´t know if you know that). Fun stuff!"

I am sure you got my other letter about the baptisms. I am so so so happy. In this last month we have found a lot of wonderful people who have let us down, and my one plea to Heavenly Father was to help Silvia get baptized and complete the Melgarejo family before I left. We still don´t know if I´m leaving, but....we are pretty sure. It´s now the norm to be in an area for 3 transfers. I have been here for 3, and there are 3 left in my mission--makes sense. I have already started to conditionally say good bye ("If this is the last time I see you, thanks for everything"), which could make for funny moments if I stay here. We´ll see!

We actually just had a great Leadership Council where President Agazzani encouraged us to focus on how we serve, not where (including leadership positions), using Alma 13 and D&C 121:34-46. Very spiritual. There are a lot of changes in the mission, and this month wasn´t quite as fruitful as were hoping, though the last week we had 58 confirmations (6 in our Zone!), a record for President Agazzani´s time in one week. Also, to clarify, the numbers of 1400 baptisms were just for this mission, and there are two and a half (Posadas Argentina takes half) missions in Paraguay. So each missionary (200) baptized about 7 last year, but that´s actually 14 per companionship. Now, with about 250 missionaries, if we baptize 8 each (16 per companionship), we´ll reach 2000 baptisms. That´s pretty much how President Agazzani thinks--he´s a business man. But, combined with the gospel, it works! Like I said, this mission is growing incredibly fast.

Speaking of President, he finally read my letter and gave me permission to do the ecclesiastical endorsement for BYU. Still waiting for it to load. He also, for the first time, sends his greetings specifically to all of you (the family).

And, most of our attention was focused on the baptisms in our area and the other areas. Oh, the missionaries who came to split my area finally had their first two baptisms, too! Like I said, we are finding great families or groups of young adult men --they are usually willing to chat--but no one came to church apart from those you saw in the pictures. We are having trouble with reactivation--the Castro family, whose daughter we baptized a couple months ago, told us they don´t want to come back to church :( --but with a fully armed Elders Quorum, the branch councils are now going to implement the 5-5-5 plan that all wards here are supposed to use to focus on reactivating 15 families.

I do love the chapters about the sons of Mosiah. There are many, many things there that led to their success. Some are their spiritual preparation, their love for the people, their simple form of teaching according to the needs of those they taught, and their focus on important doctrines like the Atonement. They also taught people who were willing to be converted and sacrifice anything to accept the Gospel. Those are great chapters to analyze again and again.

As always, I enjoy hearing how everyone is doing so I can pray for all of their individual challenges. I, too wish I knew the transfers. I´ll let you know next week!

-Elder Wesley Morgan

Monday, January 20, 2014

No Subject

I´m trying not to explode at the internet man. I just spent an hour writing emails to everyone on another computer as I waited for the website to load. When it didn´t load and I switched computers, everything was erased. It´s a good thing my favorite Avenger is Captain America and not the Hulk.

There actually wasn´t much news this week, but I had written a lot of details. Unfortunately, I don´t have the time or patience to write all of that. Basically, we found a lot of great people this week, in part due to our ward mission leader, who is sacrificing a day of work each week to visit investigators and less actives, and his son, Daniel, who is finally helping us. We sure have great members here. Unfortunately, none of the new people we found came to church. Cristian came, and his girlfriend, Ilse, realized that if he died tomorrow, it would be her fault that he wasn´t baptized. Somber, but true, and we reviewed the option of separating until her divorce is finished and they can live together as a married couple.

Cristian´s cousin Alex came to church again. He is no longer dating Siliva (teenagers...), but they both want to be baptized this week!

I have had to testify a lot about the Restoration this week. So many people think we are just another church, but if that were the case, I wouldn´t be here. This is the only Church that Christ directs personally, and we have all the other truth that is found in other religions. We try to explain that to people, but many of them tell us that they would rather stay with their religion than ask God what they should do. Alas. We do what we can.

Haven´t heard of the parasite pill or travel plans, but I'll let you know. Thanks for all the news. Be patient, and don´t lose your temper. Even when they erase all your hard work. Haha, maybe I´ll be over it by next week. In any case, I love and keep praying for all of you.

-Elder Morgan the Older

Monday, January 13, 2014


We are seeing some excellent progress in the branch. I am excited to hear that you have a new Elders´ Quorum Presidency. We do too!! When I got here there was no one in the presidency. Yesterday Alberto Sostoa was sustained as president, with two counselors (one is his dad who he is helping reactivate) and a secretary. I don´t know if you remember that Alberto is Delfina´s husband who was inactive before he moved back here and we helped baptize her. He is a natural leader, and I am so excited to see progress here! Our ward mission leader is helping us reactivate recent converts, one of whom--Juan Martinez--received the Aaronic Priesthood.

We only had three investigators in church (saying "only three" is also a sign of progress). Cristian, who is still waiting for the divorce papers came with his cousin Alex, who we have been teaching. Best part: Alex randomly showed up with Silvia to one of our lessons with the Melgarejos. He´s dating Silvia and he is very excited to be baptized on the 25th. Though she still acts very unsure, I am pretty positive they´ll get baptized together. What a miracle! They also want to go to EFY the week after (they´re both 17).

Luján did not come to church and her mom is gone so much we couldn´t teach her at all this week. Though she likes coming to church with us, we´ve decided to postpone the baptism until her mom or her uncles (The Garcías--those recent converts who have also been facing some work and social difficulties) are reactivated and can take her to church. I just realized that you can´t say uncles in English to refer to an aunt and uncle. I´ll leave it that way just for fun.

The Meza family is also a disappointment. We were pretty gung-ho about their baptism (they seemed to be, too), and we talked about the law of chastity to explain why they´d need to get married before their baptism. Now they don´t want to talk to us...Lesson learned. I´ll be sure to teach a few more of the doctrinal lessons to strengthen the faith of the investigators before teaching a commandment that could try their faith.

I´ve realized that I talk a lot about what these people do, but not much about what they are like. That may be for lack of time, but I do wish you could get to know all of them. My best way is just to compare them to people you know. Like my companion, who--musically, religiously, politically, and in many other ways--keeps reminding me of Tony. He´s a lot of fun, and we have been very good about communicating openly and being patient with small differences. For example, there´s Sister Guerra, the Uruguayan Relief Society President who is SO crazy I can´t even explain it. There´s Rubén Ledesma, the young (20) man who came to live with his active grandma. He was born in the church but never really developed a testimony. He knows he should come to church and do the right things but seems to have a lot of bad influence from his friends and his personal feelings. It´s really interesting to help people like that. Perhaps someday we´ll have enough time to talk about all of the great people I´ve met and who they really are.

As far as Elder Morgan goes, I do wish there were faster progress in the Zone and with the investigators, but we are working hard. I have been sick this week (cold), but I´m finally recovered. Only the 2nd time I needed to ask for a health blessing on the mission. I don´t even want to talk about how skinny I´m getting. New favorite fruit--Mburucuyá (passion fruit in English). It´s hard to describe. Sort of like sweet lemon, but all the seeds are mushed together in a goo that´s inside of a very hard shell. Reminds me of an alien egg. There´s fruit everywhere in Paraguay, and that´s the latest one that falls so much people just give it away.

I do also wish I could explain more about the culture. Part of the problem is that I don´t want to say anything negative, so you only hear the positive things. In this city, there are a few many asphalt roads. The rest are cobblestone, and there are quite a few dirt roads. It´s interesting here, because there is a lot of urban influence from Asunción and tourism, but there is quite a bit of rural culture, too. We have 70-80 in church every week, but the other two companionships are finally starting to bring people to church, so that should go up as we continue baptizing and retaining.

Also, we are in the South America South area, which is Paraguay, Argentina, Uruguay, and Chile. I can write anyone in those missions for free, which is nice. Our mission baptized just under 1,400 last year, and President Agazzani´s goal is 2,000 this year. He likes it when people tell him he´s crazy.

Thanks for all the other news from everyone. Not all the news is good, but it gives me things to pray for. I know the Lord is with us, no matter what happens. Just trust in him! Love you all!

-Elder Morgan the Older

Monday, January 6, 2014

La Orientación Familiar (Home Teaching)

Last week, I didn´t even have time to write everything I´d planned. I also wanted to mention the Leadership council, which went very well. We talked a lot about working more with members and being obedient and formal. Supposedly, we are one of the most formal missions in the area (dress and conversation), but we have to keep improving, as with everything. President Agazzani also explained why numbers are very important to him and to the Lord--they represent our work efficiency and the amount of people receiving their salvation. He showed us that this mission baptized 500 more in 2013 than in 2012! Definitely the fastest growing mission in the area. I am very grateful to be here in Paraguay at this time, and the goal is to keep growing at an accelerated pace.

This week we had a lot of success with church attendance. I don´t know if I mentioned that we called group leaders (like a branch president) in Atyrá and Tobatí? That was a big step, and they are both doing well. The group leader in Tobatí has a sister (Teodora Meza) here who we have been trying to teach for a while, and he finally brought her daughters to church. We helped them move on Saturday, and their stepdad also seems interested in the church. The only complication is that he hand his soon-to-be-wife are never home at the same time. But we´ll see what happens.

Luján also came to church again, but her mom and the Garcías (her cousins) continue to fight so neither one comes to church. We need the support of all of them to help her get baptized and stay active. In that same neighborhood (Buena Vista), we are also teaching the Kiese family again. I think I´ve mentioned them--they are young adults who were baptized but never confirmed. They just need to quit smoking and come to church so they can get baptized again--which should happen soon.

We still have Gustavo Resquín and Emilio Portillo coming to church, but neither wants to be baptized. So weird. And Cristian is waiting for Ilse´s divorce so they can get married and baptized. We´ve got lots of miracles on the way.

We also called Delfina as Relief Society secretary. She is very timid and was scared the first time we mentioned giving her a calling. But she seems to have changed a lot and wants to contribute to the progress of the church. That made me so happy!

We´re giving out a lot of callings, but what we need now is Home Teaching. I cannot express how important that is. We have converts who fall through the cracks because no one knows who they are or helps them feel welcome. Elder Keller has the vision of assigning everyone a Home teacher, and we need that. For example, in that same neighborhood where we are teaching a lot of people, we found a young couple who'd been living in Barcelona for a few years. They seemed to know a lot about the church, and we taught the whole Restoration to them. When we invited them to be baptized, they admitted that they are already members. If they had a home teacher assigned, we would have already known that. President Thomas S. Monson, the most inspired man living on the earth today, chose to speak about the principle of Home Teaching instead of many other topics he could have mentioned in General Conference. It´s simple, but it is eternally important.

My favorite gifts are the belt--I really needed one--and the flashlight. It´s pretty awesome. That reminds me, President Agazzani said that the church is trying to get missionaries to change from backpacks to shoulder or waistbags, so having a little, but powerful light really helps. Yes, the next transfers are the last Wednesday in January, and I´m almost positive I´ll be leaving to do my last three transfers in one area. And Go Colts! Haha, and thanks for letting me know about the job opportunities. Maybe I'll end up just teaching at the MTC, like many people have suggested. I love you all! Don´t worry, be happy!

-Elder Morgan the Older

P.S. Along with doing your home teaching, read the Book of Mormon! It´s so important! (Moses 7:62)