Monday, February 3, 2014

Hit the ground baptizing--Pa´i Ñu

"Here is the last picture I took before leaving Ca´acupé, with my home away from home--the Sostoa and Melgarejo families, half of whom are my converts. I hope you´ll be able to recognize everyone from the other photos and emails I´ve sent. Brother and Sister Sostoa are the elderly couple on the end."
 I am very excited to be here in Pa´i Ñu. Things ended pretty well in Ca´acupé. We didn't have quite as many people to teach and baptize soon as I would have hoped, but I'm sure Elder Godoy and his new companion, Elder Zenteno (who arrived here with me) will do great.

My new companion is Elder Cabrera, from Arequipa Peru. He was trained by Elder Leishman, so I had already heard a lot about him. He comes from a very active family and is a very hard worker. He looks black because his mom is from Ecuador. I am actually learning more from him than I think he is learning from me. He has a stronger personality than I do, and is a lot more controlling in his leadership style, but he's also very loving and obedient. Like I said, he has a strong testimony and is definitely here for the right reasons, so I'm sure we´ll get along.

I am in Pa´i Ñu, which is a small "suburb" in Ñemby, a "city" on the South side of Asunción. It´s just like classic Paraguay--lots of small or medium sized houses and huge trees in a labyrinth of small dirt or cobblestone roads. Made me realize how open and "wild" my last two areas were.

The members here are incredible! I have ward missionaries to work with for the first time! It's a young ward--primary, youth, and YSA ages--but there are also a few people who have been in the church for a long time. The missionaries here sometimes complain about the members not helping them, but they have no idea how blessed they are. I have never had this much support from the members. One sister, Sebastiana Silvero, came up to me crying after church because the young man who played piano left on his mission two weeks ago and she had been praying for someone to come who could bring music back to the ward.

Interestingly enough, I have already been here. When I was a Zone Leader in Costa Bonita, we had a huge zone which they divided shortly thereafter. I am in the half of that zone where I almost never worked, but I do see things from time to time that I remember. It's also easier to stay in contact with the members and converts from Costa Bonita, and maybe I'll see them if there's some sort of conference or activity soon (it's the same Stake).

The apartment needs some help. I had visited it once, but it has gotten worse. I'll send some pictures. We live above a Despensa (small supermarket), so we get some interesting smells. What's cool is that someone gave us a bench press made out of cement and rebar, so I might not come home quite as "flaco" as I thought.

I have so much to talk about, but I'll just mention a few things. This is definitely the first time I have gotten to an area and had baptisms that week. First was Perla, who has been trying to get married. Her husband is drinking less alcohol, which is why she finally agreed to marry him (the other option would be separating, because she really wanted to be baptized). He could definitely get baptized in a couple weeks.

Then there's Alma, who comes from a less-active family with some problems. She was going to get baptized when she turned 8 but...there were problems. Basically, she just turned nine, and she normally comes to her church with her sister. Her grandma wasn´t sure, but gave her permission. Then Saturday came. I ran into a barbed wire gate, but luckily I have enough hair that I didn´t bleed too much (I was fine for the pictures, and it wasn't too deep--don't worry). I tell you that because it's funny and shows one of the many crazy things that have been happening. When we got to Alma's house, her mom and grandma had been fighting, and didn't want the baptism to happen. Alma came with us to watch Perla's baptism. Right before the ordinance, her grandma showed up and said we could baptize her. Alma was sure she wanted me to baptize her, so I changed quickly, we took pictures in the hall, and had quite the miraculous evening.

Wish I could tell you more about the other people we are teaching. The kid on my shoulder in the picture is another 10 year old who wants to be baptized, but the permission there will be a little tougher. I'm so grateful for the support of the members. We do run into people who are a little more aggressive, but I've learned how to handle that. For example, the other day we taught some protestants (not sure which denomination) who attacked Joseph Smith and talked about 7th day worship. My companion whipped out the Bible and was ready to defend the truth, but I just calmly explained, "This message could change your life, but you'll need to read the Book of Mormon and pray to know if it's true, are you willing to do that?" When they said no, we just left. 

Things are great, love you all!

-Elder Wesley Morgan

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