Elder Zachary Snow

Elder Zachary Snow

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Big News...Drumroll Please...I Got Transferred! - December 30, 2010

Dear Family!

So good to hear from you all. It was really great to be able to talk to everyone on Saturday. It sounds like everyone is doing great and getting all grown up! It was definitely hard to hang up after only 40 minutes and the time passed super fast, but it was really awesome to talk to you.

Christmas here passed really well, it was nice to visit the members and relax a little bit. Here the 25th isn't that big, it's the 24th that's a really big deal. So Christmas eve everyone was going crazy with their fireworks which were pretty much just loud bomb sounding things while us missionaries were sleeping away. On Christmas eve we ate dinner with an awesome family in Ybate and it was super delicious!

This last week has been kind of crazy because... big news... drumroll please.... I got transferred! I had to bid farewell to Ybate and the awesome people there. I will miss the members and the investigators we were teaching. I took lots of pictures that I will send, I can't do it now because it's not working on this computer.

I am now serving in one of the zones in Ciudad del Este! I'm so pumped! Yesterday I took the bus ride out here, it's about 6 hours from Asuncion to Ciudad del Este and then about another hour and a half to my area, which is a little southwest of Ciudad del Este. My area is named Santa Rita and was opened only about 5 months ago so it's unlike anything else in the mission. It was opened by a couple of really good missionaries and the work took off here. It started with 2 members and since then it's just grown and grown and now there are about 35ish. It's unlike anything else because the church is unknown here, it's a little isolated so there are people who have never heard of the church and it's kind of a new thing around here. And now a drumroll for my new companion....... Elder Woodruff! He is an amazing elder. The Elder Bonilla saga continues, as Elder Woodruff was also trained by Elder Bonilla. Another crazy thing is Elder Woodruff just trained my MTC companion, Elder Durrant, so I am replacing Elder Durrant here in Santa Rita. I was able to see Elder Durrant in the Terminal and he is doing great. I love that kid! So anyways, my first companions have been Elder Bonilla, and two of his trainess, Elder Ramirez and Elder Woodruff.

Elder Woodruff is amazing. I am going to be killing him too as this is his last change. I'm really excited to work with him and to learn a lot.

The members here are really amazing. I met many of them last night and they are so welcoming and warm. It's an interesting experience here, because everyone is a recent convert. They still don't have ecclesiastical leaders and we rent a little building for meetings on Sundays. On Sundays it's only two hours, we have sacrament and a sunday school class all together. I can tell that this will be a great area and that I will grow to love it a lot. I am very grateful to have the opporunity to serve here and to progress.

I have a testimony that the Lord knows each of us individually and that I am supposed to be here. The Lord always wants to bless us, to try us, to help us. We just have to let Him.

Well I'm about out of time, but I love you all very much. I am doing great and I always love to receive your support in weekly emails.

Elder Snow

P.S. Elder Woodruff is from Heber City and he said he thinks he recognizes where Grandma and Grandpa's cabin is from the pictures you sent me. You'll have to ask them what their address is so I can tell him where it is and if he knows it. Also ask them if they know any Woodruffs.

P.P.S To answer questions from Dad:  Jake said that they only have 30 gringos as missionaries in his mission.  He asked how many gringos there were in your mission and we didn’t know the answer.  So, how many gringo missionaries are there in your mission?  Also, how many total missionaries are there in your mission?
I'd say at least a hundred, probably more than half of all the missionaries. There are about 190 in total.

P.P.P.S They speak lots of Portuguese here! Since it was founded by Brazilians. I'm so pumped to learn some Portuguese!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas, Miracles & Sharing the Gospel - December 20, 2010

What´s up family!

Happy Birthday Melanie!

Good to hear from you all. I´ve had a good week and I´m looking forward to talking to all of you on Saturday!

Well it sounds like you all have been keeping busy. Also sound like you had a pretty awesome Christmas program! Our ward had a Christmas activity here this week also on Friday night. One of the sisters put together a choir and she really wanted us 4 missionaries to help out. Elder Ramirez and one of the zone leaders, Elder Phelps, that we live with are pretty musically talented. And then we had my stellar voice in there, so of course it all turned out great. Haha just kidding, but it did go well and the members seemed to enjoy it.

I liked dad´s spiritual thought about miracles not ceasing. That is a scripture that I have also shared several times here. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever and so if miracles stop, it´s because of our lack of faith and no fault on His part. One thing Elder Ramirez and I and the zone leaders were talking about this week is about how it seems that in past times such as the scriptures people were always have accounts of amazing experiences such as the brother of Jared and why we don´t hear so much about that now a days. We need to have faith like the people in the scriptures had. Sometimes it´s easy to forget God with how fast we move now and all the technology we have. That´s why it´s essential to focus on the small and simple things like President Uchtdorf talked about. I really the scripture in Alma 37 or somewhere around there that talks about how through small and simple things are great things brought to pass. That is so true. Sometimes we just have to slow ourselves down, focus on the important things, and have faith.

Also along the line of miracles, the Stake President here issued a challenge a couple of weeks ago to each of the members to find a miracle in the weeks leading up to Christmas. To share the gospel with everyone in order to see a miracle in the life of another. The Stake President here is an amazing man. I´ve been able to hear him speak in church a couple of times and it is so apparent how much he loves the people and loves to serve. There are some really remarkable members here and they are so full of love towards others.

Yesterday Elder Ramirez and I received a great reference from a member here, and she´s only 10 years old! She is this awesome girl who was baptized about a year ago. We always see here walking to church by herself and she is so dedicated in her faith. Yesterday in church, she came up to us and said she has been talking with her aunt and now her aunt wants to get to know the church. So we went and found the aunt and she told us how Sofia, that´s the 10 year old member´s name, has been going to her house and helping take care of the aunt´s three kids. And she always shares scriptures from the Book of Mormon and her Principles of the Gospel book. And now the aunt wants to come to church and talk with Elder Ramirez and I.

I know that there are people out there who are so prepared. I know that we can have the influence in the lives of others. Sofia´s awesome example reminded me of the importance of sharing the gospel with everyone, especially those important to us.

I´m about out of time, but I love you all very much and I am very excited to talk with all of you.

Elder Snow

Friday, December 17, 2010

¡Hola Familia! - December 15, 2010

¡Hola Familia!
I really enjoyed reading your letter this week. Sounds like mom has kept nice and busy trying to get everything ready for Christmas. It´s definitely good to be busy though, life is more fulfilling that way. But, it´s nice to be lazy every once in a while too!
That´s awesome to hear that there was a convert baptism last week, was it in our ward? About how many convert baptisms are there in our ward in a year? That´s funny that you still remember what I said after I was baptized. I can still remember that pretty vividly as well. I remember Dad also mentioned it like the next day in church and I was super embarassed haha.
That´s awesome that you went to the temple with the Mejias. I do remember you writing me earlier about their sealing and how it was a very spiritual experience. There was a family that was baptized about a year and a half ago that was sealed last week. They all bore their testimonies on fast Sunday and it was very powerful. It was so apparent how much they had felt the Spirit and the gratitude they had for the opportunity to be an eternal family. They are really awesome. I didn´t realize that the Mejias were from El Salvador. You´ll have to ask them if they know Mauricio Bonilla or Mario Moreno. They´re from El Salvador also. They probs don´t know them, the church is really strong in El Salvador and while it´s a small county, there are tons of people.  
So how is the work going? 
The work is going well. We have been struggling a little bit lately to find new people. We haven´t had a baptism since Eduardo was baptized a little over a month ago, but we are talking with some really awesome people and we are really hoping to have a couple of baptisms on Christmas.
We had been talking to a 7 year old named Marcos who will turn 8 on Christmas. His sisters are members and are really awesome. His mom wanted to be baptized also, but can´t because she can´t get a divorce from her husband and is living with someone else right now. Divorces are really hard to get here, especially for the ppl who don´t have a lot of money. But Marcos is awesome and we were hopeful for him to get baptized, but now his dad is saying he wants to wait until Marcos is older so it won´t be for a while.
We have one investigator named Julio that has already come to church 3 times and has a baptismal date for the 25th. He is a great guy. We met him just doing contacts one day. He was sitting down outside and we started talking to him. He had recently been in a motorcycle accident and so he had to get a cast on his leg and his arm is kind of messed up. We talked to him about trials and how God gives us trials to help us progress. He was interested so we went back and things have been going really great since. He always reads what we leave him and understands it really well. The one catch is that he is living with his mom right now while he recuperates and his girlfriend lives in another city. Julio wants to get baptized, but they´re not married and they can´t get married if she is in another city. He wants to get married, but we don´t know how it will work out. I don´t know how he would be able to get baptized in this ward because when he gets better it seems like he will move back. But there´s a chance he´ll move here with his fam. I hope it all works out and I have the faith he will progress to baptism either way.
We are also talking to a women named Ángela. She is really awesome. 6 of her 9 kids are already members. The older 3 are realllly inactive but the younger 3 are recent converts who were baptized with Elder Bonilla. They are kind of the example for her. She is looking for more peace and love at home, and she knows baptism is a step that can help her. She didn´t want to get baptized on Christmas, so we said how about the 22 (kind of random, middle of the week) but she said yes so it all works. She is really awesome and I have faith that she will progress as well.
We have met a couple of really great people lately that are looking to make changes in their lives and so we will work hard with them.
I know that there are people out there who are prepared to receive the gospel.
Are you teaching a lot of discussions?
Yeah we have a goal to teach 40 lessons a week. We are pretty good at getting up to 40 or very close every week. It´s something that President Callan has really stressed lately. There is a big group of new missionaries coming in February (like 25 or something) and we want to set good examples for them so that when they come they also develop good habits and have good goals. 
By the way, how are the members at giving referrals?
They´re alright. Some areas are better than others. There are some really great families that will always have referrals but we always have to ask. And then they don´t really want to go talk with us, they just kind of send us over. But there are some great members here.
Well, I´m about out of time. But I love you all lots and I´m doing great here!
ps. I got the Christmas package already this friday! Super fast, I got lucky. Thanks for everything. I already opened the presents haha. I´ve been showing all the investigators the pictures of the family.
pps To answer mom´s question, I write in a place they call cybers. They have them all over the place, it´s basically just a little internet cabin where you can go and pay like 3 mil (about 60 cents) and use the internet for an hour. So it works out super well.

Elder Snow

Monday, December 6, 2010

It's Important to Taste the Cake - December 6, 2010

This is one investigator that's not getting away!

View of Asuncion from Cerro Lamabre
Dear Family! 

Great to hear from you all! Sounds like you are having a great time getting into the Christmas Spirit.
I am going to send you a couple more pictures that I just took today actually. So you can look at the current Elder Snow and just imagine what I´m up to right now. In answer to your question, the camera is working great. Everyone tells me it´s super chuchi, which is the word for like richy. Is richy even a word in english? Haha oh well. Anyway, we went and hiked up this hill that is called Cerro Lamabre, which just means Lambare hill. I live in Ybate, which is part of Lambare, which is kind of part of Asuncion. there is this big monument thing on top and lots of statue things all over it. I took a couple of funny pictures with the statues, irreverant, I know. There is also a really cool view of all around Asuncion from the top, so I have some pics of that too.

This week has been busy as usual. We got the conference edition of the Liahona this week, so we´re all pretty pumped about reviewing the conference talks and what not. I looked and found where the story was about the guy who didn´t play basketball on a Sunday that I was telling you about that one time, and it was one of President Monson´s talks, I think it was one from Sunday. 
I was reading a talk from the May 2010 conference by Elder Bradley Foster. He is in the Presidency of the South America South area so he came and spoke to us a couple weeks ago and met all the missionaries. So I decided to read his talk and it was very good. He talked about his appreciation for his mother and the importance of good mothers in the church. I was definitely able to relate to this talk because I have been blessed with very great parents and an awesome family. He shared the scripture of the 2000 stripling warriors and how they did not doubt, for their mothers knew it.
I remember from the MTC there was one story shared about a missionary who had just finished sharing the story of the 1st vision. As he finished, the woman he was teaching started to laughed and said something along the lines of "how could you believe something as ridiculous as that." The missionary's response was along the lines of, "My mother told me this was true, and she would never lie to me." Then the missionaries turned and left. This simple testimony was powerful for the woman, and the next time she saw the missionaries, she invited them in and received the discussions. I can´t remember if they said she progressed to baptism or not, but the point of the story is plain that we are very blessed to have the testimonies of family and parents. Sometimes we have to live on borrowed light for a little while and it´s hard to believe that we have our own testimonies. This is why parents are so important. 
We have struggled a little bit to get investigators to church lately because it has rained 3 Sundays in a row and Paraguayans don´t like to do anything when it rains. This has shown me the importance of getting ppl to church so that they can taste the cake, so to speak. While we are still struggling to receive our personal testimony, it is important to press forward and do the things in order to receive one. I am very grateful to you, Mom and Dad, for keeping me going to church and doing the important things while I was working to develop my own testimony. Looking back, I realize the importance of being in church and I know that I have received some of the most important answers in my life as a result of that. 
So my point is, while living on borrowed light, or while struggling to develop a personal testimony, persevere and do the things so that you can get one! But I´m sure I´m preaching to the choir, because you are all awesome.
I love you all so much.
Elder Snow

Monday, November 29, 2010

I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas - November 29, 2010

Elder Snow and Elder Ramirez

Thanksgiving in Paraguay
 Dear Family!

Thanks for the awesome letter you sent! I feel bad because my last couple letters have been kind of crappy. Sounds like you had a great thanksgiving. The 3 elders I live with and I made a thanksgiving lunch last Pday with some thanksgiving stuff that Elder Phelps parents sent him. We had stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy. It was yummy but I`m sure it didn`t come close to what you all ate. I`m sending a couple pictures of our thanksgiving meal and a picture of Elder Ramirez and I.

So continuing on what Mom said about tender mercies and what I wrote a little bit about last week, last monday after I wrote you I had another great experience that was kind of a tender mercy. Elder Ramirez and I went to talk a little bit with a less active member that Elder Bonilla and I had been working with and trying to get to church again. We were talking about his baptism several years ago and how he was later able to go to the temple with the same missionary that baptized him as that missionary had finished his mission and was going through different parts of Paraguay with his parents. I remembered what I had talked about in my letter last week and I shared with him the scripture in 1 Nephi 1 that talks about tender mercies as well as what you had written me. I bore my testimony about the tender mercies of the Lord and it just felt like everything fit into place. Only a couple hours after I had written you last week, there was a tender mercy of the Lord right in front of my face. I felt the spirit so strong and I could tell that this less active member felt it strongly as well. I was getting kind of close to tears because I could just feel that that was what I was supposed to be doing in that time and that the Spirit was working through me to help this less active brother to realize the blessings of the Lord in his life. So thank you for sharing with me last week about the tender mercy that you saw in church with President Pace`s talk.

I really like what mom wrote to me about faith as well. Faith is such a powerful thing. You should also read Persident Scott`s talk about faith from last general conference. One thing I have been learning lately is the close relationship between faith and patience. Having patience is really having the faith that the Lord will bless us in His own time. If we do not bear our difficulties with patience, we are not showing to the Lord that we are willing to submit to His will for us. Patience is something that I can most definitely work on and I am humbled every day that I lack patience with investigators. Another cool thought is how we can build attributes. We can pray to the Lord to help us develop attributes such as these, but we won`t just wake up one morning and have them. Rather, the Lord will bless us with opportunities to develop them. If we ask for patience, we might have a trial in which we need to be patient. We need to work for it, to show the Lord that we really want to change or grow.

Another random thought, there is a General Authority named C. Scott Grow. He must have had it rough as a child. His name is a sentence: see scott grow. Haha, I`m so irreverent sometimes...

This week we have been working very hard with the goal to have a white christmas with baptisms all dressed in white. We have been working very hard to find some new ppl to teach and have been blessed to find several great investigators that I really believe will progress.

We are continuing to work with Cristian and Lucia, and German and Sunilda. Yesterday we had a great lesson with Cristian and Lucia and I felt the spirit very strong. If they pray, they`ll get an answer. It`s so important to have faith as a missionary that the investigators will recieve an answer. One cool part towards the end of Ether 12 talks about how it was by the faith of Ammon and his brothers and later Nephi and Lehi that so many lamanites are converted The faith of the missionary can make all the difference so it is so important to have that faith. The thoughts mom shared about faith were very appropriate in this sense.

Well I`m about out of time. I think this letter was better than others have been. I hope so at least.

Thanks for everything! I love you all more than I can express. I want you to know how grateful I am for you. It`s always important to show gratitude for others that help us. You should read Elder Holland`s recent conf talk about that. I love you all!

Elder Snow 

Monday, November 22, 2010

Up and Down, But Good All Around - November 20, 2010

Dear Family,
As always it was really good to hear from everyone. The last couple of days have been up and down, but good all around. Juan Ramon wasn´t able to get baptized last week. He has somes doubts about needing to get baptized and also says that he doesn´t want to offend his family, which is very Catholic. We´ll continue to work with him and I know that he still has the opportunity to be baptized. I know that if he sincerely asks and really wants to receive the answer, Heavenly Father will give it to him.
Some of the pictures I sent were from members houses and I think I sent one from Cristian Silva´s baptism in front of the church a while ago. The members houses really varies greatly. In Paraguay there are lots of poor people, but lots of rich people. My area has both rich and poor ppl. There are a couple members that have really nice houses, like something normal you would see in the United States. The poorest people have basically shacks that are made out of wood and some metal sheets. One thing about the houses here is that no one has carpet. The only carpet I´ve seen since coming here was in the temple. But the members are all really great people. Most of the flooring is just like tile flooring.
The language is coming along well. Some people I can understand close to 100 percent. Others, I still struggle to understand. There are some people that speak really unclearly so sometimes it´s tough. When talking about the gospel it´s a lot easier though.
Sounds like you had a fun filled week with Harry Potter and what not. I thought it was funny when Dad said that he could take it or leave it. I guess the HP movies aren´t his fave.
I really liked the experience you shared about President Pace´s talk. It was really great to hear that you are trying to get involved in the missionary work. I´m very grateful for worthy parents that really love the Lord and want to help others. You are great examples to me. How is the Pace family doing?
Mom said that she didn´t know if it was a coincidence that Brother McArthur was in church on Sunday. You should read Elder Bednar´s talk from May of 2005. That´s the one where he talks about tender mercies and how he really believes that things happen that you could call coincidence, but really aren´t. The Lord blesses us in so many little ways, little pick me ups that help us to carry on. The Lord knows what we need and knows how to help us.
That´s awesome that Matt took the new job. It´ll be really cool to have them closer, huh? What do Tate and Addie think about the move? Are they excited? Tell them I say hi.
Everything in Paraguay is going well. It was rainy here the last couple days, sounds like it was rainy there too. But today is the hottest day I´ve had yet, I think summer is trying really hard to get started. So the rain is sometimes nice because it cools things down a bit. I´m very happy and grateful to be here. I´m learning to work hard and trust in the Lord.  I know this letter is short, but I love you all lots. Thanks for being awesome
Elder Snow

Friday, November 19, 2010

Birthday Just Like Any Other Day Here - November 18, 2010

Elder Snow, Elder Bonilla and one of the "really cool member families"

The other "really cool member family"
Elder Snow and Elder Bonilla
Dear Family! 

Long time, no talk. Sorry I forgot to mention in my last email that this week pday wouldn´t be until Thursday, but it sounds like you figured that out alright. So in the future if you don´t hear from me on a Monday and it seems like it´s about transfer time, that´s probrably what happened. 

I'm sending a couple more pictures this week. There are a couple pictures with some really cool member families, and then one last picture of Elder Bonilla and I before he left. Yes dad, I was a little bit taller than him haha. The Paraguayans are taller than I thought they would be. There are lots that are taller than me, but Eduardo is pretty tall for a Paragauyan. I´m about average height here.

Elder Bonilla left the area yesterday morning, he is flying home today. I will definitely miss him, he is a great guy and I really learned and grew from having him as my companion. He is going to email you some of the pictures he has that I´m in, I gave him the family email. My new companion´s name is Elder Ramirez. He is of Mexican descent but was born and grew up in Texas. His parents are both from Mexico so he speaks perfect Spanish and English. He has been out about 14 months and is a great elder. He really likes music. I have been very blessed with 3 great companions so far. I´m looking forward to working hard with Elder Ramirez this change.

We are working with Juan Ramón to prepare him for his baptismal date this Saturday. There are still several commandments we have to discuss so hopefully everything goes well. He is a great guy and does so much for other people. 

Another family we are talking with has a baptismal date for the 4th of December. His name is Germán, I´ll try to send a picture of their family in the future. His wife already received the answer that the church is true and she really wants the family to come to church. Hopefully they can make it this week, he works at a key copying shop and so he has to work a lot. Germán always has great questions and really likes what the church teaches.

Thanks to Grandma and Grandpa Vaccarello and Great Grandma Vac for the Birthday present!  I´m going to write them also, but Mom if you could let them know I´m writing them that would be great because it won´t get there for over a month. Just so they know it´s on its way.

Good work dad on having missionary experiences. Following the spirit is so important in everything we teach. Heavenly Father knows better than anyone what the people we teach need. We can also know exactly what it is they need if we are in tune with and following the Spirit. I´m very grateful to have worthy parents that are in tune with the Spirit. Mom and Dad, you guys are awesome.I love you lots.

My birthday went alright. I actually didn´t get a call from Sister Callan. The records say my birthday is on the 11th in stead of the 9th. I had this problem in the MTC too, so the record must be wrong. So I saw Sister Callen at the zone conference on the 10th and she said "are you excited for your birthday tomorrow" and I told her it was the day before. She felt really bad, but it wasn´t that big of a deal to me haha. She called me Thursday to make up for it haha. I actually forgot it was my birthday until about 9 that morning. It´s really just like any other day here. But it went well, so no worries. Thanks for the birthday card, I just got it a couple days ago. It made me laugh. I still haven´t gotten the birthday package, but I´m sure it will get here soon.

Well I´m running short on time, but I love you all lots. 
Elder Snow

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Best Cure is to Go to Work! - November 8, 2010

Elder Bonilla, Eduardo & Elder Snow
Dear Family!

So good to hear from you, as always. This email might be really short because I have been trying to figure out how to send you some pictures. I´m pretty sure I´ll get some through, but there might not be too many. Thanks for all the birthday wishes! Definitely weird to think that this is my last day as a teenager. Oh well, I still got a while to live haha.
We had a baptism for Eduardo this week and it was really amazing! We asked him who he wanted to baptism him and he said whichever, so Elder Bonilla volunteered me. That was definitely alright with me though. It was the first time I have baptized anyone and it was a very special experience. The spirit was very strong and I know that Eduardo has the potential to be an amazing missionary in a year. He´s already read the triple and is pretty far into the Bible now. He was really a blessing for us that the Lord had prepared. And to watch one of the Lord´s children take that step closer to Him is a remarkable thing to witness and be a part of.
Overall the week went very well! I´ve have really learned that when I´m tired the best cure is to go to work. What President Hinckley said about losing yourself in the work is 100 percent true. By being involved, positive, and helping others the Lord blesses you with strength. I feel like I have learned a lot this week about putting my confidence in the Lord when I am almost at the end of my energy. In those moments, his help is so important.
Sounds like Mason had a pretty awesome game! That's cool to hear about the panther shoot out thing. Hope that is fun and goes well. I like grandpa´s reference to Elder Uchtdorf´s talk on pride and how we can have pride in our family. If I brag about Mason´s soccer skills would that be a bad thing? Haha only kidding. But really, congrats to Mason.
Thanks Grandma and Grandpa Snow for writing! It was good to hear from you. Also thank you for the awesome ties. If you look closely at the picture of the mission president and I, I am sporting that nifty tie that you gifted me. I really like it lots!
I´ll answer a couple of your questions:
Do you walk a lot or do you take public transportation?
Nah, we walk pretty much all the time. The only time we take public transportation is when we go to the office or if we do exchanges. The other areas are a little ways away so we have to bus over there. The busses here are crazy! I fear for my life every time. just kidding, but it´s kind of funny, every time the Catholics get on the bus they do the little prayer cross things with their hand   (Don´t know what it´s called).
Also, do you eat with members a lot or do you eat on your own?
We eat with members almost every day. We have a huuuge lunch with them then I´ll just have something light for dinner, lots of times empanadas. Then cereal for breakfast. This week I tried mondongo, which is cow stomach. Yuk haha. It was super chewy and tasted like sewer. Not my fave. But the member also made this fried chicken breast called milonesa which was super good. Pdays are usually the only days I´ll have to cook.
Have you received any mail or a package yet?
Nah, todavia. We get mail today though so we´ll see. And I´m heading to the office on Wednesday (Elder Foster, a GA is coming this week so we are having zone conference with him, I´m super pumped) so I´ll check again then.  
How was your b-day?  Did you celebrate your b-day? 
Well there isn´t much I can do to celebrate, but it´s ok. The mission president´s wife calls and wishes happy birthday. And you get cookies!
I will send you a b-day card. (From Mason)
Thanks for the card, Mason! I don´t think it totally worked, but all the same, thanks!
I know this letter is super crappy, but at least you have some pictures!  

Love you all lots!
Elder Snow

Also a disclaimer, If the picture with the dead mice makes it through the internet waves, don´t worry there´s only one more, and we´ll get him soon.

Weird is Normal - November 1, 2010

Dear Family,

Good to hear from all of you. Sounds like you have had another busy, yet fun week! I´ve been working hard as usual. Mom mentioned that the weather in Newbury Park has been kind of weird lately. It´s been weird here too, but from what I gather, weird is normal. If that makes sense. It will be super hot for a long time then all of a sudden there will be like a thunderstorm for an hour, then back to super hot in the blink of an eye. Last Friday, I was in a different area called Republicano (I go to different areas on exchanges sometimes, I don´t know if I´ve told you that Elder Bonilla is our district leader) and the weather was ridiculous. It was hot and humid and we were walking around. Then these crazy clouds rolled in and there was some gnarly lightning/thunder. We went to a less active member´s house and as soon as we walked in it started hailing! The kids all ran inside yelling hielo! and granizo! I looked outside and it was hailing ice like the size of golf balls at least. It was kind of lucky timing because we had just been walking for about half an hour and as soon as we got in it started. It was raining pretty hard and the gutter systems here are bad so when it rains the streets flood super easy. At least it´s a little cooler when it rains. But I´ve heard of it flooding up to about the knees. The bummer is after the rain ends and the clouds go away, it´s twice as humid and still hot. I just spent a lot of time describing the weather, haha oh well.

We haven´t had a baptism since the one my first week, but we are hoping to have a couple in the coming weeks. We have one scheduled for this Saturday and I´m pretty confident he´ll make it. I´ve said a little about him before, his name is Eduardo and he is definitely what you´d call a golden investigator. He has read the Book of Mormon, Doctine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price in a little over a month. He is super smart and really likes to read, which is a miracle for Paraguayans. I can definitely see how the Lord prepares people to receive the gospel. He always asks super good questions and wants to know more. We are working hard to make sure all goes well and he can be baptized this week.

Another good investigator we have is named Juan Ramon. He already has 2 assistances (2 times attending church - from Spanish verb "asistir" meaning to attend), investigators need 3 to be baptized. So he just needs one more assistance at church and we´re hoping he´ll be baptized on the 13th. He is awesome as well. He told us this week that his mom doesn´t really want him to get baptized. He is 55 and his mom is like 82, but she´s super devout Catholic. We actually went and visited her a couple weeks ago, she was very very nice but very resolute in her faith. She gave me a little Catholic picture thing of Jesus. I didn´t really know what to do with it so I just said thank you haha. But I´m really hoping and praying that Juan Ramon will continue to progress so that he can get baptized.

Another investigator that already has assisted church 3 times is named Cristian. He still has to give up smoking. A couple weeks ago he was smoking 3 packs a day. Now he is down to 1 cigarette. Hopefully he can completely stop soon. Smoking is a huge problem here, especially since cigarretes are so cheap. It´s like 1 mil for 10 cigarretes, which is like 20 cents. Or 30 cents for 20 cigarettes. I think it´s a lot more expensive in the United States.

He also has to either marry or kick out his girlfriend. We´ve been teaching her too, but she hasn´t been progressing lately. She is very stubborn and is convinced that we pray to Joseph Smith and won´t give up that belief. Kind of frustrating, but we´ll keep working hard and praying for her.

I don´t have much time left, but I´ll answer a couple questions.

So how is the teaching going?  
It´s going well. I really need to improve though. I can say a lot of things, but I really need to improve on teaching with clarity. When learning a second language, sometimes you focus on just saying something that sounds kind of right. When trying to teach it very clearly and use different types of words that are more understandable, it becomes more difficult. But I´m improving.

Are you feeling comfortable teaching all of the discussions yet?
Yeah, since that´s all we did in the MTC, I feel really good with discussions. But in all honesty, it´s rare that we teach a set discussion or lesson. About 6 months ago, the Mission Department came out with these 8 lessons to become better teachers for the missionaries that focus a lot on the needs of the investigators and teaching with the spirit. So we have really changed our teaching approach to just help the people in any way we can. So that means less set lessons and more lessons by the spirit on whatever gospel topic that will help them the most. Then we teach the lessons to the ones that are progressing towards baptism and make sure that we teach everything. So to answer the question, yes, I feel comfortable with the discussions, but to be honest, we don´t teach them a whole lot. Lots of principles and commandments.

I´m about out of time. But I love you all lots. Hope Mason feels better and everyone is well. Sounds like you´ve had a good week. Love you all!

Elder Snow

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Tasted More or Less Like Sandy Chicken - October 26, 2010

Dear Family!

As always, it is great to hear from you. The temple today was awesome. We were there from about 8 til about 1, so that is why I´m writing my letter a little bit later today. To answer mom´s question, it wasn´t a special temple trip or anything. We just go twice a year and it happened to be our turn soon after I got here, that´s why I was excited to go. But it was very peaceful. It was kind of weird listening in Spanish. Wasn´t too difficult, just different. The spirit is always very strong there and I always learn something new. I´ll answer a couple more of your questions.

Do the members help a lot by providing referrals to you?  
Yeah, sometimes. We have to ask for them a lot. This is something we definitely need to do better in. We are talking with some great investigators right now, but we need to do lots of finding. This week we are going to focus more on references.

Also, how big is your ward and how many attend each Sunday?  
The ward is pretty big. There are lots of members, but the thing is sooo many are inactive or barely active. We talk a lot with less active members, trying to get them to church, trying to get references, things like that.

How many missionaries are there per ward or do you actually cover multiple wards?  
Our ward has 4 missionaries. I´m not sure but I don´t think that is super common. I live in one of the few 4 missionary apartments in the mission. So our ward is divided into our area and their area.

Do you have to play the piano during church or is there someone else that knows how to play?
Haha, I haven´t played yet. There is one member that is pretty good playing with his right hand so he just bangs it out haha. It´s funny though, the sister who conducts sings louder than the rest of the congregation combined. And most of the members aren´t the greatest singers in the world, myself included. But nobody cares, everyone just belts it out, so hymns are pretty funny/great overall.

Sounds like you all have had a busy week. Congrats to Dad on beating Eddie and Matt several times. Good to hear that you made empanadas! I eat those on the regular. A couple times a week at least. They are very delicious. I don´t know if I should eat them from the ladies who make them on the street, but I haven´t gotten too sick yet. Really the water situation isn´t too bad, we have a couple jugs of filtered water delivered every couple of weeks, and I just use my little water bottle filter for other things and it all works out. The only scary time is when the members give me juice and I have no idea what water they used to make it, and I don´t want to offend them so I just down it. Haven´t got too sick yet, I think the water quality is better here in the city than in other places.

A couple weeks back, Dad mentioned that I would need to learn the area for when Elder Bonilla left. I forgot to mention that about a week and a half ago, when I had been here for 9 days, we did divisions and so I was basically guiding the area with another missionary that had never been here. It all went well though, my area isn´t too tough to figure out and I think I´ve got it down mostly now. It´s kind of crazy to think Elder Bonilla will be gone in 3 weeks though. I hope I stay here in Ybate for a while, I think it´s a good place and I like it.

I also forgot to mention last week that I ate crocodile. It wasn´t too bad, but it wasn´t great. It tasted more or less like sandy chicken. I haven´t eaten anything too weird yet. Got offered cow stomach, turned it down, hope I didn´t offend. Bascially every meal here is some variation of meat and pasta or rice, then bread. Beef and rice every day is pretty normal. Then if you want vegetables, it´s potatoes or mandioca, which is like potato. But I like it, so all is well.

The Spanish is coming along alright. I can speak a lot more than I understand. When I do understand, and can contribute in the lesson, it is such a great feeling to now that I am helping God´s children progress. Some people I can understand close to 100 percent, others it´s more or less around 50 percent still. Some speak very clear and others very unclearly. I know all the grammar and most of the vocab, the only thing is I can´t understand what they are saying. From what I hear, most people understand everything after about 2 months. I´d like to be understanding everything by the end of my first transfer, that´s kind of the goal so I´m working hard to understand more and more.

But like I said, when I am able to understand and help investigators, it is really an amazing feeling. The best days are when we come out of spiritual lessons, or when we are able to help others come closer to Christ.

I read this awesome conference talk from Pres. Monson from I think 2008 which was talking about cherishing life and the moment you are in. At that point, I had really not been thinking about exerting myself all the time and always enjoying the moment. So that talk was something that has really helped me and I consider it a great blessing that I read that talk. It was perfect for me in the time I read it. I really have a strong testimony about the importance of the prophets. Oh! Another cool thing, last Sunday was our stake conference.  There was a satellite broadcast where Elder Ballard, Pres. Packer, and Elder Claudio Costa all spoke to some of the South American Nations. I think it was Paraguay, Argentina, and Uruguay. They were awesome. I wish I could have understood all of it, it was in Spanish, but I caught almost all of it. Very awesome. So yeah, listen to the prophets! But anyway, I read that talk by Pres Monson, and it really helped me to refocus on my mission, even though I´m still very early in and to cherish this experience because it will be such a short part of my life.

Cool to hear that BYU won, and also that Max Hall has been starting. Did he start for a couple of games then?  How´d he do? But it´s a bummer that he got knocked out.

Also good to hear that the Yankees and Phillies are out. I was getting really sick of them. Go Rangers! Tell Mason he´ll have to root extra for me.

Next week I might try to send some pictures. I keep procrastinating that. I forgot to take pictures of the Temple in Asuncion, I´ll have to do that next time. It´s a very cool temple. I haven´t taken too many pictures yet in Paraguay, maybe I´ll try to take some more this week. Anyway, I gots to go. But I love you all lots.

Elder Snow

Baptism Last Week - October 18, 2010

Dear Family,

Before I forget, my p day next week will be on Tuesday instead of Monday because we are going to the temple! I´m pretty pumped for the temple trip. I took for granted being able to go every week in the MTC and I´m super excited for it. So when you don´t get an email from me next Monday, no worries it´ll just be a day later.

I realized that in my letter last week I forgot to tell you guys about the baptism last week. We ended up only having one. His name is Cristian Silva and he is about 20. He is dating a member and he had been talking the discussions with Elder Bonilla and his past companion. The baptism was awesome and I felt the Spirit very strong. The other 3 didn´t happen. It was going to be a dad, Victor, and his two daughters, Yessica and Macarena. The mom is already a member. But the parents aren´t married and so they were going to get married before the baptism and then all would be well with the law of chastity and what not. Everything seemed fine through Thursday but then on Friday Victor was telling us that his mom is Catholic and doesn´t want him to get baptized. Then it kind of turned into, well and I´m Catholic and I don´t really want this. Since then we´ve given them a little time. We talked to them again yesterday and I think we are going to start visiting them regularly again. I really hope that all goes well there.

I´ll talk about a couple of other investigators we are talking with now also. One is kind of a cool story. When we were walking and doing street contacts almost a week ago, this teenage kid named Eduardo, I think he´s 18, came up to us and said, hey I´ve read the entire BOM and I want to get baptized. And Elder Bonilla and I kind of looked at each other and are like, alright! We´ve talked to him a couple times since and he has a baptismal date for the 6th of Nov. We might try to push it up to the 30th of October because we think he is ready. He is a pretty awesome kid, he came to church this week, and all is going well.

Another good investigator we have is named Juan Ramon. Kind of similiar, he and his friend Elena called us over to the porch one night while we were passing on the street. It started out as kind of a gossip session about Elena´s crazy sister who lives with her haha, but we turned it into a gospel discussion. The next time we met, the committed to get baptized on the 6th of November. We´ll see how everything goes. Juan Ramon is a really good guy, he helps out his mom all the time and does a good job of keeping his commitments.

There is another family we are working with. The parents are German and Sunilda and they have two kids, Victoria and Gerardo. They´ve been progressing well and were very excited to come to church this Sunday, but ended up not coming. We were a little disappointed, but that happens. He had to work because the person who was going to work for him couldn´t do it.

This week I´ve been working very hard to love the people as much as I can. The most spiritual lessons that we´ve had, have been when I´ve really focused on the needs of the investigators and how I can work through the spirit to help each one of them, as the child of God that they are.

So that´s just a couple. We are very busy. It´s nice we never have to do any tracting. The people are so interested in religion we can talk with almost anyone so we have appointments all day long. But we do need to focus a lot on finding still so that we can find the people who are prepared at this moment to hear the gospel.

All in all, we work very hard. But 10:30 each night I´m out just as soon as my head hits the pillow pretty much, haha.

This week we have one baptism commitment, but I´m pretty sure it´s not going to go down. It is this other investigator named Christian, there are a lot of Christians haha. But he has to quit smoking and still hasn´t done so, so... we´ll have to keep working with him.

Sounds like BYU got killed, sigh. But that´s alright, sounds like they´re improving, kind of. I´m with you, Mason, go Rangers! I hate all of the other teams left, hah.

Sounds like you had another busy week. Congrats to Olivia Dowd for the baptism, Baldwins on the reception, Dad for getting through the tax season, Lauren for singing awesome, and everything cool that happened.

Good to hear you sent Lyse a package. Happy Birthday Lyse! and late Happy Birthday to Kim and Dan! Love you all. I sent Lyse a letter last week, from what I hear it will take almost a month, so... that will be a while.

So this week I talked to a missionary in my district that knows Jake Adams! I guess they were in the same MTC district. A bunch of the Colombian missionaries and Paraguay missionaries were together. Also one of the office elders knows him really well. His name is Elder Dance and he is cousins with Jake´s gf/ I have no idea what the status is there.

In answer to Mom´s question, I have no idea about what I need in a birthday package. Anything would be just great. The postage is nuts. One of the other elders I live with just got a package last week, which took two months to get here, and his parents paid like 100 bucks to ship it. Yikes. So I have no idea. Maybe a couple of spiral notebooks would be nice. Some candy. There is peanut butter here, so no worries there.

I´m working hard to continually put my trust in the Lord. It is true what the missionary that just reported said, we must put our trust in the Lord because no matter how great our abilities we may or may not have, with him anything is possible.

Love you all lots!
Elder Snow

"Speaking" or Trying to Speak Spanish - October 11, 2010

Dear Family,

It was good to get a nice, long email from you guys. The last couple had been lacking. Haha just kidding, but really this one was great.

Congrats to Mom on the 194. Have you broken 200? That would be sweet if you did. In my bowling class the closest I ever got was 189 I think. It sounds to me like you are still bowling almost every week even though you aren´t in the league. That´s pretty cool.

Good to hear that you are watching all the conferences. I think the Saturday ones were the best. It´s really important to review them multiple times. I think it was President Monson in the closing talk that said he would like everyone to read each talk over again in the Ensign in November before the April conference. Also Elder Costa´s 14 points of following the prophet was great. I can´t remember who it was, but another GA (General Authourity) gave almost exactly the same talk in the next session. He even reviewed the 14 points over again. This just shows me how the Lord really knows what we need to hear and inspires the GAs on what to tell us. Elder Bednar gave an MTC devotional a while ago in which he talked about how he had to rewrite his talk at the last  minute one year because he felt impressed to do so. Then when he gave it, there were like three talks in a row on the importance of the temple, temple marriages, work for the dead, stuff like that. And he had no prior knowledge that the others would talk about that as well. Just shows how the messages really are inspired.

I am doing super well in Paraguay. Are you doing well in California? I am ¨"speaking" or trying to speak Spanish. I can speak it ok but I have a really hard time understanding the Paraguayos speak it because they speak so fast. So it is a little hard, but I am learning lots. It´s good to hear that you are doing a good job in school. Is math still your favorite then, or do you like spelling more now? I didn´t know people in Paraguay before I came but I know lots now! And I am very busy all the time. We work very hard and have lots of people that we talk to so there is never enough time in the day to do everything that we would like to do. But that´s a good thing. Keep working hard at soccer, and maybe one day you´ll be able to beat me. Haha...just kidding. I´m sure you already can.

I´m glad that you pray every morning and night. It´s something very important to do. A scripture you would like is Alma 37: 37. I love you lots!
Love, Zach

That´s crazy that you´ve already had your braces for an entire year. I remember I had mine for a little bit under two years, so there is hope for you yet! Are your teeth getting nice and straight?

Paraguay is very cool. It´s very different, but I´m getting used to it. I think the second day I was here it was very hot. But it´s still only spring time here, so it´s not even getting that hot yet. Everyone tells me that from November to February it is very hot, so I´ll let ya know. But I am definitely enjoying it!

Good to hear that you´re enjoying Mock Trial and everything. How are the contacts working out? When do you think you will get your liscence? Sounds like Mason needs to listen to Elder Uchtdorf´s talk about pride, you should share that with him. Haha just kidding. You should actually be his sport´s agent when he grows up then you can make lots of money off of him, haha. Hope you´re doing well.

So, was it pretty hard communicating with everyone to get your revised airfare worked out?  Did they only speak Spanish at the airline counters or did some of them speak English?     There were some
people in the airport that spoke English. It wasn´t the best but we were able to communicate well enough.

Did you get a chance to get to know some of the other elders that were in your group?
I got to know a couple of them, not super well, but they all seem like good guys and I think they had a pretty strong MTC district. One of them is in my district now. His name is Elder Clanton and he´s from Mesa, Arizona. His Spanish isn´t great but he works hard.

Since this is Elder Bonilla’s last transfer, I assume you will need to pay close attention so that you get to know the area for when you receive a new companion.
I actually hadn´t thought about having to learn the area. Since he´s leaving, does that mean that I´m definitely going to stay? I still haven´t found out all the intricacies of the mission, hah. The area isn´t too big and the streets do have names (unlike some other areas) so I think I could manage, but I still am kind of lost all the time so I´ll have to work on that.

Good to hear that BYU finally won. JJ tearing it up was good to hear. Sounds like the running game worked pretty well. Heaps stats weren´t bad either, lots of completions. They´ll figure it out eventually.

But it sounds like you and Dan both need some practice in the golf game haha. But Tierra is a tough course so I won´t give you a hard time.

As far as teaching about keeping the Sabbath Day holy, I think there was a conference talk about the basketball player who was in the NCAA in Europe or something whose team made it to the finals but the game was on Sunday and he had committed himself to never play on Sunday. He made the choice not to, and said for the rest of his life he was grateful for this choice because it made it easier to keep commandments later. I think this was one of Pres Monson´s talks, but I´m really not sure. And I think it was in conference, but I could have heard it somewhere else. The point is, 100 % obedience is easier than 98% or 50%. When we make up our minds to do something, do it all the way. Breaking a small commandment is the same as breaking a big one. If we break one commandment that may seem harmless, it enables us to justify breaking others.

I´m out of time, but I love you all. The week has been tough trying to learn the language, but I´m doing my best to keep a positive attitude.

Love you all lots,
Elder Snow

Just Smile Big and Nod My Head - October 7, 2010

President Callen, Elder Snow & Sister Callen
Hey Family!

It's great to hear from you all. I arrived in Paraguay safe and sound, but we did have a couple of mishaps so it took much longer than expected. It was great to be able to talk to everyone a little bit in the airport and great to hear your voices.

So I'll go ahead and tell you about the travel down here. Everything was going pretty smooth through Dallas and we boarded the plane on time and everything. But we were sitting there waiting for close to 2 hours to take off because they were doing some work on the plane and had to adjust some of the cargo around so that the weight would be balanced. So our flight took off late and we were stressing because the layover in Buenos Aires wasn´t going to be that long. The flight from Dallas to Buenos Aires was very long. Everyone around us was watching the in-flight movies but we couldn´t so it was a little bit dull. Then trying to sleep on an airplane when sitting upright and not being able to move at all was rather difficult. I was able to sleep semi ok but others (like Elder Durrant, he is too tall) only slept for an hour or two because they were pretty uncomfortable. One of the blessings of being shorter I guess. So anyway, we get to the Buenos Aires airport, and they are like sprinting us to the gate because the next plane is about to take off. Then it turns out only my boarding pass printed off in Salt  Lake (this was something we had been worrying about earlier because only my boarding pass had printed) and it turned out the airline over booked or something so only my ticket got through. But I couldn´t go by myself, so we all missed the plane. In our travel stuff, it said that if we missed our plane, it would be another 6 hours until the next one. They were wrong... it was 12 hours hah. So we called the secretary of the mission and the church travel office and they all figured it out to get us another flight but it was over 12 hours later. So we got to know the Buenos Aires airport really well, haha. But we did some good contacting and were talking to people. Rather, they were speaking Spanish and we were just smiling and nodding our heads. They speak so fast it is crazy. I think my comprehension is 20 % or less. For the most part, I know what they are talking about, but I have no idea what the details are. So we finally got a plane to Asuncion and we landed at about midnight. Then we met the Pres and his wife at the airport. They are awesome and I can tell that I am going to love them already. Then we spent the night at the mission home, by the time we got to bed it was after 1 in the morning Wednesday and we had to wake up at 6 the next morning to get started on some papers early (so that we can get a temporary residents visa). Then we interviewed with the mission Pres, they gave us a bunch of information, then we went to meet our trainers.

My companion´s name is Elder Bonilla, he is from El Salvador and this will be his last transfer. So he has lots of experience and is helping me tons. He is a great missionary and many of the office elders told me that I am very lucky to have him as a trainer. I´m the 5th elder he has trained I think, so he has lots of experience. His English is pretty good too, so even when I have no idea what anybody is saying, he can help me out haha. I can understand almost everything he says in Spanish, but the Paraguayans are much more difficult.

So then we went to our apartment, so different than the states. It´s kind of dingy but compared to a couple of the places where we´ve taught it´s like a palace.

The people of Paraguay are all very nice and very loving. The members all tell me that I need to smile more, haha. Considering that I can´t understand that much, this is probably good advice to just smile big and nod my head for the mean time.

Elder Bonilla is very good at teaching and I think he has lots of success. We have 4 baptisms scheduled for this Saturday (all committments from Elder Bonilla and his former companion). We are working very hard to keep the investigators on track to be baptized and preparing them for Saturday. 3 of them are a father and his two daughters. The mother is already a member but she has been inactive for quite some time. So we are re-teaching her the discussions and she is receiving them very well. The daughters names are Yessica and Macarena (at least that´s what I think they are, Spanish is hard hah) and the parents are Victor and Maricela. Victor and Maricela have their wedding planned for Saturday before the baptisms and I think they are both very excited so I hope all goes well. But their family is awesome, especially the girls. On is about 13 I think and the other maybe Mason´s age. They pay great attention during the lessons and love to read the little kid´s story book version of the Book of Mormon. So, hopefully all goes well there.

The other baptismal commitment for this week is Christian. There are 3 Christians that we are teaching right now, so it gets very confusing. But this Christian is very cool. He is dating a member and has several friends in the church I think. All the investigators have bapstimal interviews today or tomorrow, so that is good.

The culture shock isn´t too horrible, but I am definitely going to have to get used to it. We have to wear shoes all the time inside so we don´t get pique (this little worm thing that burrows in your foot and lays eggs, gross). We have a big bottled water jug in our aparment so I haven´t had to boil water yet. Then I just use the tap to brush my teeth and stuff, I think it´s safe (famous last words, right) and I´m feeling pretty good and not sick yet so I hope all is well. Everything I´ve eaten so far has been good. We haven´t had food with a member yet so we´ll see how that goes tomorrow.

My p days (preparation days) will be on Mondays. Just during transfer week the p days are on Thursday, I think, so the new missionaries can write their families and such.

I´m more tired now than I ever was in the MTC. We work very hard and on top of that there is a lot of walking. Plus it´s like a million degrees and then humidity (and it´s just coming out of the cool season). They tell me that November through about February are just awful, so we´ll see how that goes ha. But then it rained last night and today is actually pretty nice. The weather is rather unpredictable I think.

Already I can see that the mission will be full of challenges. Yesterday was a pretty rough day. But I am so grateful that I can turn to Heavenly Father in anything. I know that he is helping me and sustaining me. I know I´m going to turn to him a lot, especially over the next few months where I really learn Spanish.

But I´m doing well, so no worries. Hope you all are doing awesome back home. I love you all lots.

Elder Snow

Got My Travel Plans & Pumped For Conference - September 28, 2010

Hey Family!

It's always great to hear from you guys. 

Starting next week, I'll probably be the one complaining about heat. Hopefully it isn't too bad in Paraguay right now, but who knows.

Last Tuesday at the devotional, we heard from Paul Johnson. He did a great job and talked about how to understand and teach spiritual things, it must be done by the spirit. Also, in order to learn and teach by the spirit, we have to do our part and keep the commandments. I think I already talked to you guys about this, but he shared 1 Nephi 15. Where Laman and Lemuel can't understand the meaning of the natural branches of the olive tree. The first thing Nephi asks is "have you inquired of the Lord?". If we really want to learn something, we have to show Heavenly Father that we are keeping his commandments (like prayer) and trying to understand. Also, we have the prophets (like Nephi) to help us out.

On Wednesday, I don't have much in my journal. The days are really blurred together because we do the same thing almost every day and so there isn't really a way to have a reference point.

Thursday, I got my travel plans. So I leave Monday at 10:00 AM from the MTC I think my flight is at like 1. Then I'll fly to Dallas and land there at like 4 Dallas time. Then I'll have a 3 hour layover till 7 (so probs like 2-5 your time). So I'll have plenty of time to call you all. Then I fly from Dallas to Buenos Aires. I thought there would be one other layover then a flight to Paraguay, but I don't have any other flights, so I think I'll just be taking a GIANT bus ride from Buenos Aires to Asuncion. They aren't that close so that might be a nice, fun drive. But I'm still excited, all the same. 

On Thursday, we also went to the Referral Center again. We hadn't been able to go for like 3 weeks because they changed some rule  I think. But it was great to go back. I talked to one person in Sapnish for about 25 minutes and it went really well. I had to ask him to repeat himself quite a bit, but overall it was very good. I helped him get the missionary's numbers in the area where he is moving and talked to him about the gift of tongues. He is a little bit along in the discussions I think.

I talked to another guy that was like 22 years old I think. He had some family problems and he told me that his grandma died a couple years ago. So I told him all about what we know and I shared some scriptures from Alma 40. The spirit was very strong and he told me it felt like this was what God wanted him to know and that he felt lots of joy when I talked to him. It was awesome. I asked him if he wanted to talk w/ some missionaries (he lived in like Illinois I think) and he said yes. So I clicked the "send the reps!" button. Hopefully they are able to find him and talk to him b/c he was moving soon. I told him I would call him back, but I forgot to write down his #. I was bumming. So I hope all works out alright.

Friday the TRC (Teaching Resource Center) was good. We taught an "investigator" that was a student at BYU learning Spanish so E. Durrant and I both spoke better than her so it wasn't as great as usual, but the Spirit was the same.

On Sunday we had Mission Conference. The miss presidency always speaks and it is great. One thing that really stuck with me was what Pres. Clegg said that God loves all his children. He chooses to see the good, and chooses to ignore the bad. He shared a really awesome experience he had when he gave a blessing to a young women who had a drug problem and how during the blessing the love from Heavenly Father was so aparent.

I've never been so pumped for General Conference. It will be a great way to end my time in the MTC. I feel like I've been doing a good job of keeping myself focused, but it's always difficutl to avoid counting down days. I always feel so blessed when I read your e-mails and I love you all very much.

Love you all lots,
Elder Snow

P.S. Tell Aunt Karen thanks for the package. I don't have her address and this is my last week so I wouldn't be able to write her today.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Good Year to be on My Mission - September 21, 2010

Hey Family!
It's always great to hear from you guys. Yeah, I talked to Spencer Call and he told me he got reassigned. I think he is just excited to get out of the MTC. Some missionaries that go to Mexico end up staying here longer because they get their permisa but not their visa; I know one elder who is finishing up his 13th week and he still isn't sure when he will leave. 13 weeks in the MTC would be a little rough I think.
Bummer to hear about BYU. I ran into Drew and he was telling me that this is a good year to be on my mission, haha. Hopefully they'll be really good when I return home. Tell Mason good job and to keep it up. He should just play soccer in high school, hah. The gym is finally going to open tomorrow here in the MTC so my soccer days at the MTC may be coming to a close. Elder Durrant is a big basketball fan so I think we will probably switch over to that tomorrow. But I like to play anything so no biggy.
On Tuesday, we heard from H. Bryan Richards. He used to be in one of the presidencies of the 70 but I think he was released to be a mission pres or work in the mission dept or something like that. But anyway, he was great. One thing he said that I really liked was that 20 minutes of my time can change a family's life for generations. That really helps me realize the importance of my decisions and how I need to always strive to do what's right, and work hard so that I can have that positive affect on people. Another thing he touched on was the power and the blessing that missionaries are endowed with. D&C 109 is a really cool section that talks about the power we receive from the temple.
Then today for p-day I did some sealings as a proxy for a son for the first time. That was really cool
On Wednesday, we did a self-evaluation on how we feel we are doing as missionaries. The things that I'm working on the most right now is being patient with myself and more patient with others.  Wednesday, I started to feel a little bored and I felt like I'd maxed out on MTC Spanish and that I just needed to go to the field in order to learn more. But on Thursday we were talking about that a little bit in class. Hermano Milne shared some really good ideas about focusing in the MTC and trying to avoid counting down the days but rather counting up in what we are learning.  Now I''m trying more to focus on how much knowledge I can gain and things I can learn in the language before I leave for Paraguay rather than count down the days until I leave. This has really helped me focus and work harder. Thinking about how much I study here is how much I will be able to share with the people in Paraguay really helps me to stay focused and remember that I need to use my time here wisely.
We also watched this great video of Elder Bednar giving an MTC Devotional last year. I think it might have been when Jake was in the MTC, and if so, he was lucky because it was an awesome talk. He answered the question "How do we recognize if it is the Spirit talking to us or if it is just us thinking something?" His answer was a little different, "To not worry about it!" What we should focus on is being a good person, doing what we're supposed, and pressing forward. If we do these things, we will make the right decisions and not even realize it sometimes. A lot of the time the spirit directs us and we don't even know it. If we are doing what we are supposed to be doing, we'll be where we need to be.
On Friday, Elder Durrant and I had a really good talk about the positive influences that our families have had on us. I am really grateful for you guys and for everything that you have done for me. Learning the gospel better has helped me to realize the great importance of families and how I should really cherish my family. We also talked a little about how we came to make the decision to serve missions. It was a good bonding experience and helped us to grow closer together as companions. We also decided to work more as a companionship on having patience with others and always being good, nice people.
On Saturday we did an activity in our class building where we rotated thru the rooms and talked about Christ-like Attributes. Hermano Milne talked a little bit at the end about consecrating our time to the Lord. While on a mission, I am working with Heavenly Father's time and always need to remember to be doing productive things.
On Sunday at the devotional we heard a really good talk on the things we need to do to become what the speaker (can't remember his name) called a "100 Watt Light Bulb Missionary." Everything we do builds up to having and teaching with the Spirit.
Elder Snow

Better Than Sounding Like an American - September 14, 2010

Hey Family!

So, how are things with your Visa application? 
I think they are good. Elder Durrant and I went over to the travel office to see if they knew anything. they didn't have any information yet but the guy we talked to said that Visas for Paraguay are generally very good and they never had problems. There were a couple missionaries that left yesterday to go to Asuncion Norte that Elder Durrant and I have kind of become friends with. They said that they never talked to anybody in the travel office and just got their travel plans right when they were supposed to. The elders going to Argentina in our district had to meet with a consolate to make sure they weren't insane or something like that. But the elders that just left for Paraguay said they never had to do that. They also told us about this tutor here at the MTC that teaches Guarani and they had been going there a little bit. Elder Durrant and I might go check that out and take a couple of lessons, we'll see.

Do you have any idea on when you will be leaving for Paraguay? I am almost certain that it will be early morning on Monday the 4th. And I think I'll have 2-3 lay overs so I will definitely be able to call and chat a little bit.

Thanks Grandma and Grandpa Vac for the ties. They are so sweet! After 6 weeks in the MTC, I feel like I've worn every tie about 123940 times so I was way pumped to get new ties. I've never been so excited about new ties, it's a little weird maybe. But anyway, thanks!

So last Tuesday the devotional was by Lowell Snow of the 70 and his wife. Mom, I'm starting to think that you may have been right about the pedigree chart but then again I always figure that it was just some lame idea thought up by an old guy in the missionary department, so oh well. Also there is another Elder Snow here, he got here the week after me and is going to Mexico Tampico. We live on the same floor of the same building so I keep hearing people yell "Elder Nieve" then I turn around to realize that it was for someone else. But anyway, you should let me know if we're related to Lowell, I'm sure Grandpa would know. Elder Snow's talk was very good. He talked a lot about choices in our lives and how they form us. We always need to strive to make the right choices. Also, if we ever try to dodge a rule or break a commandment, asking permission from leaders won't work because in reality everything we live by is God's commandment and his rules. It is him that we need to follow. He also talked about how when we pray, we should try to shape our will to fit that of God's rather than try to conform God's will to fit ours.

On Wednesday, my new teacher Hermano Milne, was talking about how a lot of the time the gospel will have a familiar ring to people. This may be because we learned everything about the gospel in the Pre-existence and now we are just re-learning in. As a missionary I need to help people realize that.

One cool thing I was thinking about on Thursday was the need to always follow the spirit and recognize when it is giving us multiple promptings. I was reading in PME (Predicar Mi Evangelio or Preach My Gospel) about how the spirit presses things on our minds when we need to learn something. When we ignore these promptings initially, the feelings of the Spirit keep pressing and we need to follow them. It's like in 1st Nefi when Nefi kills Laban after hesistating for a little bit then the Spirit keeps prompting him. Or like Joseph Smith's experience after reading James 1:5 and the thought to pray kept finding its way into his mind.

On Friday, I was reading about how we need to study the scriptures and do everything to the Lord in prayer. I get so much more and am so much alert when I have a prayer in my heart and am making a conscious effort to learn. It was kind of a bummer on Frieday the TRC mis-scheduled us and we didn't get to teach. The TRC is usually one of the highlights of my week so that was kinda disappointing, but oh well.
But then on Friday or Saturday, Elder Durrant and I started doing a different teaching method instead of just practicing the 1st and 2nd lesson over and over (it gets boring) where we come up w/ legit questions or concerns that our future investigators might have and then the other companion has to answer it using the Scriptures, and the BOM (Book of Mormon) in particular. It always amazes me how much we have learned and how many answers to anything that we have a question about is in the BOM.

On Sunday we didn't have a devotional b.c they have been redoing the gym the whole time we've been here. It's kind of a pain. Up until this week, we have kind of worked around it and had devotional in the gym anyway, but they jsut refinished the surface so we couldn't. So we haven't been able to play basketball and Elder Durrant is kind of in pain becuase of that. So it's been lots of soccer and I'm starting to get pretty good! But anyway, no devo so I just talked with some of the native speakers on Sunday night for a while. It's always really helpful to talk to them. They told me that I don't have an American accent, which I was pretty pumped about. But they said I speak with a Portuguese accent a(nd that I put my emphasis on the last syllable so it sounds like I'm from Portugal. So Dan might be pumped because of that. But I'll take that I guess, they said it's better than sounding like an American, hah. I can tell that my Spanish is getting better though.

On Monday, I was reading in the allegory of the olive tree. In Jacob 5: 21-26 it talks about how it doesn't matter what spot we are in, but with the counsel of the Lord, we'll be alright. I know this is true. I know that if we strive to follow the commandments of the Lord and do what is right, we'll always be okay.
I forgot my camera again. I only have like 10 pics anyway so not that exciting. But maybe I'll send them your way next week.

But I love you all lots and I'll talk to you later. Have a great week! Oh and it's a bummer about BYU, but oh wells.
Elder Snow

Exactly Where I Need to Be Right Now - September 7, 2010

Hey Family!

It's always so great to get your letters. It's fun to hear all the updates from what is going on back home. 

Tuesday, we heard from Richard G. Hinckley. He did an awesome job. One thing he said that I really liked was that the part from his mission that was the most important to him, and was the best part, was being able to see the lives that he changed. I really think it is amazing how the gospel can change lives and I can't wait to see it change the lives of people in Paraguay. Elder Hinckley also talked about President Hinckley a little bit. There was a question and answer at the end for about 10 minutes and one elder asked him to tell the most important thing he learned from his dad. His response was to work hard, to be dedicated to something you love, and to live your life as an expression of your faith. His wife talked about optimism as a missionary. She was very upbeat and awesome.

On Wednesday, not too much happened. My journal enty on that day is pretty short. I haven't been taking many pictures in response to your question, but I have been writing in my journal each day so that is an accomplishment I guess. We can only take pictures on p-day and Sunday temple walks. 

On Thursday, I started getting sick. It was kind of a bummer. Our entire district has been fighting it this week. It's definitely more difficult to stay totally focused when I'm sick, and I was feeling kinda crappy, but it wasn't as bad as a couple other missionaries in our district. One had pneumonia, bronchitis, and a fever all at the same time and he had to stay in the dorm for the last week and rest up. And I'm starting to feel better now so that's good. But one cool thing is that whenever I need to focus and whenever I'm practicing a lesson, I am able to really focus and I know that the Lord is helping me.

We also watched a video of Elder Holland giving an MTC devotional about 10 years ago. It was very similar to the talk he gave 2 weeks ago, but there was a part I really liked about why things are difficult in the church. He said he thinks it is because salvation isn't cheap and it wasn't easy for the Savior. We have to work hard and struggle in order to understand what the Savior went through and so we can understand him better.

On Friday, we had a cool LGM (Large Group Meeting) about using the BOM (Book of Mormon) and the spirit to convert people. The Book of Mormon is so powerful. It has answers for our day. I learn something important everytime I read it and I love to read it as well. One thing I liked from reading this week is in Ether 12:2 I think (top of my head, hope that's right) and it talks about how Ether couldn't be restrained from speaking because of the power of the Spriit that was in him. I think that is a good goal for all of us. I want to be at the level where my testimony is so strong that I have to share it.

We had another good experience in the TRC (Teaching Resource Center). I can always feel the spirit when we teach a lesson to a fake investigator there, and my Spanish always seems so great when we are doing that.

On Saturday, yes I could hear the cheers from the stadium everytime something exciting happened. It made me miss home and BYU a lot more. I couldn't help but thinking back to last year and going to all the games with Dan and some with Lyse. But I love being here and I know this is exactly where I need to be right now.

On Sunday, we had our mission conference because it was Fast Sunday. The mission presidency and their wives all spoke. They all did a great job and were very inspirational. One thing I was thinking about while we were singing A Poor, Wayfaring Man of Grief (one of Dad's fave's I know) was that the Atonement is a two-way thing. It may seem to be difficult to give some of our time to serving Christ, but in reality he gave his literal life for us. Also, if we are mindful of the gospel, Christ is mindful of us. And if we take his name upon us, he will vouch for us by his name at judgment. I am so grateful for the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the role it has played in my life. I know that anyone can become clean throught he Atonement no matter what, and I can not wait to share that fact with the people of Paraguay.

Elder Snow

Thoroughly Humbled - August 31, 2010

Hey Family!

So, to answer your questions from last week: 

How is the new branch?
My branch is really funky because half of the districts have different schedules. What can you do? But I really like all the missionaries in it and the Branch Presidency is amazing. The native speakers in my branch help me with my Spanish and I help them with English so it's nice.

Do the elders just pick Guarani up on their own or do they receive some language training classes once they are in the mission field?
I'm not sure. I don't think they teach it. I'll have to ask Brother Bradley (the old mission pres for Paraguay).

So where are your new roommates going and how did they become fluent in Spanish? 
One is going to Guatemala and the other is going to Honduras. One of them grew up in a home that spoke both and the other just learned a lot in school, he isn't as good but still helpful for me
Are they in a different district than yours? 
They are in a different district, and in the branch I was in before mine changed

You also mentioned that you spoke to a woman in Spanish on the phone the other day.  How does that work, do you get an opportunity to man the phones for people who call in from media referrals or something?
Each monday night we go to the referral center and call on the phones. This week I had a 30 minute convo, but I didn't understand much. I was thoroughly humbled.

Last Tuesday after my e-mail was pretty amazing. Jeffrey R. Holland spoke at the devotional. What a spiritual giant, he was amazing. When he walked in was the strongest I have felt the spirit in the MTC. I think a good goal to have is that when we walk in the room, people can tell that the spirit is with us. He was very bold and frank in his comments. He said that he knows the 1st presidency asks a lot, but they do not apologize b/c this is the Lord's work. He talked about how this is Christ's church, Christ's gospel, His time, and His mission. So we should be very diligent in our efforts. He said that missionaries need to do some things better: 1) Personal and comp study 2) Plan Better 3) Teach with Power and Authority. It was very inspiring and uplifting. What a great man!

I really love the Book of Mormon and I can tell that it is true because of all the inspirations and answers to questions that I have when I read it. We have been practicing teaching the Plan of Salvation this past week, and I had been praying for some ideas of how we could improve in our teaching. The next day I was reading in 2nd Nephi 2. So perfect for the questions that I had. The Book of Mormon was written for our day and I know this to be true.

We have Large Group Meetings with special speakers on Friday. They are really great. This week the topic was on finding those who God has prepared and how we know when they are ready. A lot of it boils down to hard work and proving to Heavenly Father that when he places his children in our path, we are going to do everything we can and also that we are going to work very hard. If we do this then he will place those who have been prepared in our paths.

Saturday was pretty basic. We practiced the Plan of Salvation w/ native speakers in another district and I felt like my Spanish took a beating. They talk fast, but the hardest thing is that sometimes they mumble and talk so quiet that I have no idea what's going on. On Saturday we also taught a lesson to a tree. I feel pretty humor starved, so that was maybe one of the highlights in my week. Not really, but church jokes are 100 times funnier now than they were about a month ago.

Sundays are pretty sweet here. It's almost like a day off.. but not really. I have really come to love the new Branch Presidency, they are very uplifiting. During Priesthood, my branch President was talking about the change in Alma the younger and the Sons of Mosiah through the Atonement.

Sunday night devotionals are always nice. Then we get to watch church movies after. I have never been so excited to watch the Testaments as I am here. But anyway, back to the devotional. Richard I Heatan (never heard of him before Sunday) talked about putting away the distractions of worldly things. He proceded to put up pictures of worldly things that distract missionaries. Every one started groaning and it seemed like a pretty cruel thing to do. I was most distracted by the IPOD, I think music is what I miss the most. Maybe that is what I need to sacrifice. The t.v. and facebook and video games didn't bug me that much. But the point of the devo was that when we focus on the spirit and not on these worldly things, we can have the spirit with us all the time and I know this to be true. He also talked about how when we do this the Lord will put people in our paths, similar to the Large Group Meeting. Kind of a theme for the week.

My Spanish took another beating yesterday. I was takling to a lady in Spanish for a while. It was so tough to understand her. She spoke a little oddly so I don't feel that bad. But I did receive such a strong testimony of the Restoration when I was telling the story of Joseph Smith,

I am doing well and I am really happy in the MTC. 
Love you all,
Elder Snow 

Ether 12:6...So legit! August 24, 2010

Elder Durrant & Elder Snow
Hey Fam,

I'll answer some q's first:
You mentioned that one of your goals is to contact five people for five minutes each day.  What does that mean?  Do you make phone contacts or what?  

No, we just contact other missionaries around the MTC and give them a little message in Spanish about a topic that we are trying to get more fluent in or that we just recently discovered.

Just one more question, do you get to go to the temple once a week and are you enjoying that opportunity?Yes, we go to the temple every p-day (preparation day). It's always a nice break and I can feel the spirit so strong. The temple is a great place to get revelation. When Spencer W. Kimball received the revelation to give the Priesthood to all worthy males, he was pondering in the temple. I love the spirit there.

This has been a pretty solid week overall. I'll give the day-by-day (Tell me if you like the way I do my letters or not. I have no idea)

On Tuesday, we heard from President Walter Gonzalez of the 1st pres. of the 70 (Presidency of Seventy). He and his wife both gave awesome talks. He emphasized Christ-like teaching and talked about how we need to have the Spirit. She gave a great talk and mentioned her in conversion story how she couldn't understand much of what the missionaries were saying, but she could feel the spirit so strong and the language of the spirit is universal. It helped me realize the importance of teaching with the spirit and making sure that the investigator is able to feel the spirit during the lesson. Then let them know what it is they are feeling!

On Wednesday, E. Durrant and I got 2 new roommates. Up until this point, we had the room to ourselves and that was sweet. So now it's a little crowded, but they are both fluent in Spanish so I ask them questions all the time and they are super helpful. So all in all, I'm grateful for them.

My teacher Sis Smith gave a sweet spiritual thought about trials that we have. Earlier that same day, I had been reading in D and C 121 where Jose Smith is in Liberty Jail and he calls out "O God, where are thou?" Though it may feel like God isn't there sometimes, he is always there to help us out. we need to remember that our trials will only be for a short while, and that it will strengthen us in the long run. Ether 12:6 ! So legit.

On Thursday, I received this really strong witness about the importance of prophets in our lives. I have been continuing my close study of the BOM (Book of Mormon) as suggested by Elder Evans and it has been going awesome. It seems like every time I have a question that I would like answered, I read about it in the BOM the next day. I love that book. Anywho, I had been searching lately for reasons that we need prophets, because that is something that comes up a lot when E. Durrant and I practice lessons on fake investigators. Then I was reading in 1 Ne Chap 15, where Nephi is explaining the vision of the Tree of Life to his brothers and some of his fam. The brothers of Nephi may be able to receive a witness or feel the spirit on their own, but they need the prophet (Nephi) to help them with lots of things. Without Nephi, they would have had no idea what the meaning of Lehi's vision was. This was because Nephi was a prophet and had the keys to receive the extra revelation for his people. Bringing it back to today's terms, we need the prophet always because there are things that we don't understand and we need that extra help and info. Even though we might be able to receive a witness personally, prophets give us counsel of where to go and tell us what things mean.

Friday, E. Durrant and I taught the 1st lesson in the TRC (Teaching Resource Center) again to a volunteer actor. When we go to the TRC on Fri it is kind of a big deal because we are talking to investigators (even though they are fake) for the first time and they each have their specific special "needs" that we need to teach to. And they speak Spanish fast so it's harder. But I think we really nailed it. Our goal to teach the 1st lesson 2 times a day paid off. I think we taught it 15 times in a little more than a week. This was the best one. I am always amazed at how much easier it is to speak Spanish when I'm am talking about the gospel and when the Lord needs me to shine. Now we are moving on to the 2nd lesson, and we are working hard at that now.

On Saturday, we made the big goal to speak only in Spanish. Elder Durrant and I have been doing a pretty good job and I can feel my abilities in Spanish increasing. I've been speaking mostly Spanish for casi 3 days now. So writing this e-mail in English is messing me up, but oh well.

On Sunday, something crazy happened. Our district got moved to another branch, so I have an entirely new Branch Presidency now. The cool thing is one of the counselors in my new presidency was the most recent Mission President in Asuncion South Paraguay, my mission. So I will def have to talk to him about it. He says most of the good elders learn Guarani! So we'll see. He completed his mission presidency about a year ago and he said the current pres is great. 

The new branch is a mix between Americans trying to learn Spanish and international Spansih speakers trying to learn English. It is a little interesting b.c they want to speak Eng. all the time and we want to speak Span. all the time, so we will see how it goes. I am confident that they will be able to help me with my Span. skills.

Sunday night, we heard from Stephen B. Allen. He was great. The thing he said that I liked most was that in order to have the spirit and teach by the spriit, we need to have our ears and minds open, and our mouths shut.

Monday was great. I talked to a woman in Spanish on the phone for 10 min. She was a native speaker and went really fast. But I understood most of it. I sent her a Book of Mormona and bore my testimony like 123890 times.

I am out of time. Love you all so much
Elder Snow