HOPE. You crack me up so much. I am so glad I printed your email, albeit long, because I got some great laughs. My comp kept telling me, ¨Companera, tranquila! (Calm down, companion)¨ Can`t wait to catch up on your blog. Good luck starting your job. Be a good example and I bet you can have some missionary experiences at work before you leave on your mission! Your tithing story will be PERFECT for teaching diezmo (tithing) on your mission.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TWINS! I hope on Sunday you have a great time turning 7, Matthew and Katherine!! Wow I can`t believe you are so grown up! I am so proud of you both and miss you so much! You are two very bright, shining 7 year olds who bring a lot of joy to so many people, including me. Thank you for always praying for me. I know your prayers help. I am a very lucky aunt.
Along with finding some great new investigators this week, we had some very um......interesting lessons. A couple weeks ago we met a man named Fransisco and his two sons and taught them a couple times. They have a lot of interest, but their mom, Augustina, doesn`t want to listen to us because she is very catholic. Fransisco doesn`t want to go to Church without his wife. We really wanted to just talk to Augustina one time, but knew she wouldn`t answer the door if we were to just show up. On Friday we decided to pass by their house and if Augustina was outside we would casually chat with her. We walked by and what do you know, she was just walking out of her house on the way to the store! It was heavensent! A minute earlier or later and we would not have run into her. We asked if we could just share a quick message with her and she actually agreed! She postponed her shopping trip for us, which is a miracle. We got the whole family together and taught the restoration briefly. She seemed to understand and be very grateful for our visit. We arranged an appointment for the next night and left with dreams of baptizing a family in December (ALL I want for Christmas!!!!) dancing in our heads.
The next night we visited them with our District President, Pres Velazquez,who comes from a very catholic family. Augustina was apparently already sleeping and wouldn`t come out to join in the lesson. We had a great lesson with the others until we invited them to church, and Fransisco explained he doesn`t want to go without his wife, and how she is super catholic and won`t listen to him. Augustina, from the other room, starting kind of yelling at him from the other room. Little did we know she was actually listening. After quite the interchange, she came out and yelled at all of us. The only thing is it was in pure guarani and we understood nothing of it except something about San Blas and the Virgen, to whom she is apparently very devoted. The Spirit fled. It was terribly sad but we ended in a very respectful manner and left. Such is life in Paraguay as a missonary. People who we contact say, ¨Yes thank you for visiting, but your religion only believes in God, and I believe in the Virgen and San Blas.¨ Oh how I want to read Exodus 20 with them, but I just smile and ask them if they know anyone with whom we can visit.
I am reading the four Gospels right now in between Thanksgiving and Christmas (Prof. Chadwick would be so proud) which is about 6 pages a day, even though I could read so many more. I'm taking the challenge of Elder Bednar that he gave in a talk at the MTC last Christmas to look for the character of Christ. I find so many examples of how Christ ALWAYS looked outward, He NEVER thought of Himself. For instance, after the death of his cousin John the Baptist, he went into the desert to be alone. But the people followed him. Instead of saying, ¨Give me a break, can I be alone for a while?¨ He taught them and blessed them and even fed them. His love is never ending. No matter the circumstance, He made time for others. Oh how I want to develop that type of charity. It is so powerful to me to read of Him in the Bible and Book of Mormon. It makes me remember Jerusalem and the Spirit I felt so much there.
Everyone thinks the end of the world is going to be at the end of December. In the U.S., too? It`s sad that some people are legitimately terrified and think everyone is going to die. We are teaching a lot about the second coming, that we don`t know when it will be. I personally wouldn`t mind if it was in a few weeks if I didn`t have plans to complete and dreams to live, like having 12 kids and making them arroz con leche and telling them ¨I love You¨ in guarani, which is rohayhu (row hi who).
The zone conference was SO motivating and inspiring! We all shook hands with Elder Zaballos and his wife and I received so many answers to my questions, and we had a great lunch together. Such a refreshing day. Wish I had more time to explain what I learned. One little fact of the day is that if you know Spanish and English you can communicate with 80% of the Church.
Oh I LOVE THE GOSPEL! I LOVE THE SCRIPTURES! I LOVE MY LIFE. I LOVE BEING A MISSIONARY. And I LOVE the people of Paraguay, even if they do love the Virgen.
Your Sister Missionary with wicked tan lines,
P.S. Do you all know how great beets are? I had no idea. I bought one today, peeled it, and ate it like an apple. I learn new things every day.