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.