I really liked the last part you wrote about Dad. With how little I knew him, I always appreciate everything I can learn about him. That one especially, because, well, I have written that same sentence* in my journal several times on the mission. I´m normally happy on Mondays, so you may not see that quite so much, but I have had some very, very tough days out here. I have been thinking about that this week, as I have mixed emotions. Really, my feelings about being a missionary are so complicated, and often contradicting. It`s so frustrating, and yet so hopeful. We have days where I work so hard, get home, and think I need to rest for a couple months before I can keep working. Then I get up the next morning, somehow with the strength to work hard once again. I love how much I am learning, and I love the people I get to work with, but those are blessings that only come after lots and lots of trials. I am definitely going to cry a lot in my homecoming testimony. I find myself tearing up at stupid moments throughout the day when I think about how far I´ve come and what a privilege this is--like when we went to do studies with a new missionary, Elder Castañeda, (which I always enjoy) or reading in the missionary handbook about how the Lord will convert us into defenders and messengers of truth if we strive to be obedient.
But don`t worry, I´m hanging in there. I have a new companion! His name is Shared Rodriguez (Book of Mormon name) and he is from Tijuana, Mexico. I had met him before, and I knew his city is very close to the border, so until the Tijuana temple is finished they have been going to the San Diego temple. He was in Ca`acupé when the mission limits changed, so he is my first companion from the North mission. He didn`t fall quite in love with Ca´cupé like I did, but we enjoy talking about funny things there. He speaks very slow, and with somewhat of a California accent. Before the mission, I thought Mexicans talked fast. South Americans talk WAY faster, and as you´ve noticed, I picked that up. This is his first time as a Zone Leader, and he is a kind, calm person (those words don`t have quite the same meaning as in Spanish, but oh well. I might revert to writing everything in Spanish soon, (ha, ha). So yeah, we are doing well.
Our baptism streak did end. But it is starting back up again. First we have Mercedes Baez, who comes with us to teach young women and has been to the temple to do baptisms....but yesterday told us that she was never confirmed. Yeah, this ward needs to improve their record-keeping a lot. More on that in coming weeks, if there`s progress. So, she`s definitely ready to be baptized. She`s 13, and of her large family, only one other brother is active, but we`re hoping this will have an impact.
Tomasita, Nila´s niece continues attending and seems willing to accept everything. We are working hard with Emilia Saldivar, who appreciated your letter. She said it makes her cry a lot (she cries just about every time she thinks about her son), and it was very nice. She has also been coming to church 2 weeks in a row, so we might be close to finally convincing her.
We aren`t having much luck convincing Carlos Acosta, who looks like Abe Lincoln without the beard. His wife and kids are all members, and he is nice but stubborn. One of his sons has football....also known as soccer in the EEUU...on Sundays, and he goes to that. They are adding on to their house, so our new battle plan is to help them build that, and build his trust with us at the same time. Also, Liz and Alejandra Vera, who seemed to be progressing so well, failed us for the 3rd Sunday in a row. We heard that Alejandra is getting baptized in the Catholic church this week or the next, but she has pretty much told us that it`s what her mom wants, not what she wants. We´ve done all we can, so we´ll stop by today and invite them to keep reading and praying, and when they come to church we´ll keep visiting them.
This week we found 17 new investigators, which is a record for my time in this area, so we have lots of possibilities for the future. They come from all different types of religious backgrounds. Well, most are Catholic, but most of them have investigated other religions. I`ll let you know about those who keep progressing.
Our Zone is having a lot of success. We have new district leaders, one of whom is Elder Velasquez. He was in my very first District in Ciudad del Este--this is his last transfer. We are trying very hard to work on retention, and there are a few members who are helping us. Hope that keeps improving.
Thanks for all the other news about vacations and family. I actually don`t feel much skinnier, though I am definitely not in shape like I was for football. Do you know if Makade Claypool was affected by what happened in Ukraine? I don`t know if you have heard anything about him. Let me know. Love you all!
Elder Morgan the Older
* Note from Elder Morgan's mom: I told the boys that one of the times their dad was in the hospital, every day they made him say his name and the date and write a sentence to make sure his brain was not affected by the medications. He always wrote: "Tomorrow will be a better day."