Elder Zachary Snow

Elder Zachary 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