|President Callen, Elder Snow & Sister Callen|
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.