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 √Āngela. 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