Elder Zachary Snow

Elder Zachary Snow

Monday, May 30, 2011

Zone & Stake Conferences / "Experimenting" a Change of Heart - May 30, 2011

Dear Family!

It´s been a really great week here in good ole´ Santa Rita. I really enjoyed your letter from this week. Although I was bummed to hear that Mason broke his tooth. Did you take a picture? Did he look anything like Lloyd from Dumb and Dumber? Cause if so, he could make a mean Jim Carey for Halloween. I´m sorry, I´m probably not helping. I hope Mason is doing well.

This past week has been really great! I saw Elder Merrill a couple of times actually. We had our zone conference on Thursday and I met him there. We ate lunch next to each other and talked a little bit. He´s a great elder. Then we had a stake conference on Sunday also so I saw him there too.

Speaking of zone conference, it was so great! On Thursday we woke up nice and early to head on out to Ciudad Del Este for the conference. For me, I think it was the best zone conference yet. The spirit was super strong and I really felt like the Lord was instructing me personally and helping me to know what I can do better. There was a theme of "Me amas más que éstos?" I think in English it´s "Lovest thou me more than these?" We watched a talk that Elder Holland gave in the MTC from January where he talks about the experience of Peter and Jesus after Jesus had resurrected and came to the Apostles while they were fishing. Jesus asked Peter 3 times if he loved him. When Peter said "yes," Jesus said, "feed my sheep." Elder Holland talked about what it takes to serve a mission, the focus we must have, we must love the Lord more than the wordly things that we leave behind.

Elder Holland also talked about the importance of becoming converted ourselves first before hoping for others to be converted. He talked about how Preach My Gospel was brought about because there were many returned missionaries that were falling away from the church and it was designed to help missionaries become further converted themselves.

President Callan talked about the importance of experimenting a change of heart and ensuring that the message really converts us so that it can convert others. At the end of the conference, President Callan asked the missionaries what they would remember from the Conference. I mentioned that I would remember the importance of becoming converted ourselves so that we can convert others. President Callan then shared an experience from his mission while he was serving with a companion that hadn´t quite yet gained a testimony of the Atonement. This missionary worked hard to gain a testimony and one day while teaching a lesson, it was his turn to teach the Atonement. This missionary started to teach the Atonement and an awesome Spirit filled the room. In that moment, both the missionary that was lacking a testimony of the Atonement and the investigator they were teaching received witnesses from the Spirit of the reality of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. From that moment onward, this missionary loved teaching the Atonement and sharing of it with all that he could. When President Callan shared this experience, the Spirit was very strong. It helped me personally gain a stronger testimony of the Atonement and how it blesses us. I too felt the urge to share it with everyone that I could. All in all, it was a great zone conference.

Sunday we had a stake conference in Ciudad Del Este. Once again, we had the joy/hassle of getting the bus all set up and the members there. I was a little worried that not too many people would go because we had to leave at 7:45. But the members here are so great and we had a good attendance. At the stake conference was Elder Bradley Foster of the 2nd quorum of the 70. The theme of the conference was families. It really was so great. The talks were all very awesome. Izaías, Mirta, Rosa, and Gunter were all there and it was really great for them. They really enjoyed the messages.

Another awesome highlight from the stake conference was that Brother Ugarte received the Melchizedek Priesthood! He has been preparing for a while and had a final interview before the conference and all went well. He was ordained as an elder after, so we are all very excited here in Santa Rita.

Brother Ugarte and Wagner keep working hard to help out the other members and the missionaries here. Wagner went out with us on Friday night to teach a few lessons. We are very grateful for their help.

I really liked Dad´s comment when he said that I should always remember to take a moment to listen to the spirit. That is so true, and is great advice. Earlier this week, we were working really hard one day trying to find new investigators to teach. We had been talking with everyone, asking references, really working hard. But all day we were striking out and couldn´t get anything going. It was kind of a moment of frustration because I was thinking, "what more can we do, Lord? We´re trying everything." That´s when I finally got the lesson that I think the Lord was trying to teach me. In getting caught up in finding people and trying to work hard, I really hadn´t been seeking the guide of the Spirit. Finally towards the end of the day I was trying to think back to the impressions that I´d felt. So we went and clapped a house that I had felt like we should clap but later ignored. So the people come out, they were nice, but not the ones we needed to find. Then someone from the house to the left yells "Hey, you´re looking for me!" So we walked over and it was a person that we had contacted and had been looking for, but couldn´t find. So we taught him and the lesson went really great. It turns out he has to move soon though, kind of a bummer. But I feel like I learned the lesson I needed to learn, to confide more in the Spirit.

Anywho, I love you all lots and lots! I hope you´re all doing very well. I know that this church is true. I´m very grateful for the work here and the opportunity that it is to share the gospel every day. I hope that you all strive to follow the Spirit always. Thanks for being so great!

Elder Snow

Monday, May 23, 2011

Great Results With Help of Members - May 23, 2011

Elder Snow and Elder Bazan with La Expo float.

In deep thought on a Santa Rita road.
 Dear Fam,

I really enjoyed the letter from you this week. It was full of fun updates and what not.

Wow, that´s crazy to think that Dad´s rounding out the big 5-0. I was thinking about that the other day, whew, you´re old, Dad? Haha just kidding. Someone asked me the other day, how old are your parents? I told them "my dad is almost 50, but he still runs faster than me." And it´s true, haha. I´m very impressed with Mom´s 6.3 mile run. Whew, I would die. Thanks for the update on Tyler, I´m positive that he is a phenomenal missionary. I´m excited to talk with him in Spanish when we get back. He´ll probably talk his Peruvian Spanish, "chévere."

I´m glad that Mom is tearing it up reading her conference talks. I still haven´t gotten my edition of the conference talks yet. I´m dying, I want to read it so bad. I´ve read the one from Oct 2010 like 5 times now. It´s still great though.

I was pumped to hear that Aidan got his mission call. What a champ! You´ll have to tell him hi for me.

This week for me has passed really fast! I think it´s because the expo is over, haha. It was a lot easier to find people at home to teach this week, and we were very blessed to find some awesome people. One new investigator that we are working with is named Cristian. He is really awesome. We contacted him a little more than a week ago.  I remember it was my 11th contact. Here in our mission, we have a goal to do 10 contacts each missionary every day. I can´t remember who, but someone told me one time, that the 11th contact is always golden. I think the expression is more an inspiration to go beyond the goals, because I´ve done a couple of 11th contacts that aren´t so friendly, but in the case with Cristian, it held true. We passed by his house, and found out that his wife is actually a member. It´s always a great miracle to find a member here, because there aren´t too many. Her name is Mercedez, she was baptized about 7 years ago in a city near Ciudad del Este called Hernandarias but since has become pretty inactive. So we started visiting them, and they are really super great. They are progressing very well. They went to the church on Wednesday night for the noche de Santa Rita. We watched The Testaments and it went super great. They really liked it. They also made it to church yesterday, so that was awesome. I know that the Lord is really preparing a lot of people here. We had a class yesterday in church about the gathering of the house of Israel, which has a lot to do with missionary work. I felt very strongly the impression that the Lord is always preparing his children. What a blessing to be able to work for Him and help His children to find the truth.

Yesterday in church was also great because we had a really good attendance. The last month or two we´ve been going down a little bit, and some of the recent converts haven´t been attending too much. But us, the missionaries, and 2 of the more active brothers had a great meeting this week on how we can turn things around and really progress towards a branch here. It doesn´t matter how great of a vision a missionary has, if it doesn´t reach the hearts of the members, nothing is going to happen. Brother Wagner from Brazil is looking for a house here and is staying here in Santa Rita to work, so he´s been helping us a ton lately. Brother Ugarte has also been so great. I really love them both. Brother Ugarte is preparing to receive the Melchezidek Priesthood and he and his wife want to go to the temple. Brother Ugarte really has a great vision for Santa Rita. We had a really great experience with him this week. We went to the house of the Delvalles to talk with Brother Delvalle, who hasn´t been attending church too much. Brother Ugarte really bore a great testimony. I was kind of fumbling for words, not exactly sure what to say. Brother Ugarte just chimes in, "Te necesitamos, cherah," whih is basically, "We need you, pal."  It was a very great, spiritual visit. Then in church, we really saw some great results from the help of the members.

In church, Brother Ugarte gave an awesome talk about eternal families, and how he desires to go to the temple with his family. He talked about how before, he didn´t really have the desires to have a family, but then he settled down, started a family and is so much happier now.

Diego Delvalle, such a champ. He´s 10 years old but gives talks in church all the time. He talked about 1 Nephi 1 and how he is grateful to have been born to goodly parents. I felt the Spirit very strong and felt a great appreciation towards the Lord for also having given me goodly parents. I´m grateful for your example mom and dad, I love you lots. I´m very grateful to have grown up in a home with the Priesthood, what a blessing.

I´m about out of time, but I love you all so much. It´s been a great week here. I know that this is the work of the Lord. Have a great week!

Elder Snow

Monday, May 16, 2011

Rain On My Parade - May 16, 2011

Dear Family!

It was really great to talk to you all yesterday. You all sounds pretty much the same. Except Mason actually did sound a little bit older. We won´t talk again for 7 months so I´m sure the next time you will all sound super old. Sorry if I kept saying "What?" like a million times. I couldn´t hear very well during some parts. But no worries, it was good to hear your voices. I think my English is starting to get kind of bad, it was hard to explain a few things haha.

So Grandma and Grandpa are in town! That sounds fun. Tell them hi for me.

So mom asked what "La Expo" is. Haha. The expo is this big fair type thing that is in Santa Rita every year. It´s famous throughout all of Paraguay and people come from really far away to attend. It has like some roller coaster ride type things and a bunch of booths from companies and food and what not. It´s been a little rough this week in Santa Rita because of the expo. Most of our members and investigators have been working there like non stop so it´s been a little bit tough to teach lessons and what not, but this week should be better.

Another fun thing from this week! Saturday, el 14 de Mayo, was Independence day here in Paraguay. It was the bicentennial, the 200th year anniversary of the independence of Paraguay. So it was a big party. Saturday morning we planned to walk out to Rosa, Gunter, and Jorge´s house to visit them a little bit. So we headed out that morning and there was a big parade going down the freeway with kids from all the schools marching and what not. It was cool. We just saw like 2 minutes worth on the way to Rosa´s.  They had this big giant stuffed lion on a giant float. The big lion is still there in centro so I´m going to take a picture with it today haha. But then it started raining and the parade ended. I laughed super hard at the irony "rain on my parade." Hahaha... I chuckle still.

But apart from difficulties with the Expo it really has been a great week. We´ve been working hard and working a lot with the members.

Dad asked about Hernán and Sandra. We tried to visit them last night after the call but couldn´t find them. It´s a little up and down with them but I know that they´ll be baptized one day. They are super prepared but there is just something that is holding them back. They just a need a little boost of faith to take that step to be baptized.

This week I´ve been focusing a lot on the Spirit and how I can follow it better. The Spirit is so important in this work. I love the theme of the Spirit. It´s such a wonderful thing. I love receiving the confirming truth after following the Spirit. It´s always such a testimony builder and those are the moments most special in the mission when I follow a prompting and feel the Spirit confirm to me after that I did the right thing. It´s a blessing that is so prevalent in the mission, one that I really love.

Other news this week. I´ve started reading Jesus the Christ. I´ve got quite the project ahead. Before my mission I couldn´t imagine why anyone would read a book that long that wasn´t Harry Potter. But I started reading it and I know why now. It´s really incredible. I´ve been reading a little less than a week but I can already feel my testimony of the Savior growing so much.

That´s awesome that Elder Merrill is in President Franco! I´ve heard of that area and know some elders that were there.

From what I hear, that´s the area that has some really cool water falls. Haha I´ve also heard that about Ciudad del Este. I hear it´s the biggest black market in South America and 2nd biggest in the world or something like that. It´s a fun place.
Don´t worry though mom, Santa Rita is nice and safe.

I love you all so much and love hearing from you! Thanks for all your support and love!

Elder Snow

Note from Carrie:  Here are some pictues of Mariela's baptism that Zach just sent.  For a few more pics, go to the March 28, 2011 letter from Zach.
Mariela, Elder Bazán & Elder Snow
March 26, 2011

Mariela, Emerson & Mirta

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mother's Day Mix-Up - May 9, 2011

Dear Family,

Hey sorry again about the mishap yesterday. Mother´s Day in Paraguay is on the 15th, I guess I just assumed it would be the same day in the United States, hah.  So we can do the call this Sunday, the 15th, at 6:30 my time, 3:30 your time.

Sounds like you had a good Mother´s Day get together even if we didn´t get to talk. Definitely made me a little trunky with the mentioning of the tri tip. Spinach quiche, not so much, you can write about Spinach quiche all you want.

Sorry I don´t have too much to write about again. I was trying to figure out how to fix the call thing, so I don´t have much time. But it´s been a good weekend here in Paraguay also. Yesterday in church was kind of a roller coaster. Right now in Santa Rita there is this big event going on called La Expo. It´s kind of like a big fair type deal. Everyone is working a ton with overtime for the expo and many of the members couldn´t make it to church. We had some talks lined up for people that couldn´t make it, so Elder Snow was called in to sub. The mission is definitely an adventure sometimes, I had like 10 minutes to talk and 1 minute to prepare. But I think it turned out alright. Elder Gleason was also a champ and gave a great talk with little time to prepare. But the best part of sacrament meeting was this awesome testimony that Reinaldo gave. Reinaldo is the young man that was baptized with Jorge last week. Elder Stewart and Elder Gleason have been teaching him. He gave an awesome testimony about prayer and the Book of Mormon. His mother is a member from a while ago, but his dad is super devout Catholic. Reinaldo and his mom went to church for a while before they moved to Santa Rita, but moved here whent the church still hadn´t started in this area. So after the church started up in Santa Rita, Reinaldo started coming. He didn´t have a lot of support because his dad isn´t a big fan of the church and doesn´t want them to go. But Reinaldo´s a stud and started coming to church by himself. He shared in his testimony about how he prayed and started reading the Book of Mormon because he was confused about what to do and wanted to know the truth (basically like the Joseph Smith story). He talked about how he started to change a lot when he began reading the Book of Mormon and praying more, so he made the decision to get baptized. The spirit was very strong and I was so impressed with his maturity.

I really love serving in Santa Rita because I get to see all the time the fire of recent converts. It´s incredible that it´s practically an entire church unit with people that have recently gained testimonies from God about the truth of this work, I love it.

We had another great miracle that was on.. I think it was Saturday.  Elder Bazán and I were walking down the street and there was a man walking towards us. I went to contact him, but he basically contacted us. He asked us where the church was, it turns out he is a member from Brazil. His name is Wager. He was kind of in a hurry so we got his number, explained where the church was and at what time. I didn´t think too much of it because I figured he was just there for work, because he said he was in town for the expo, because his business had a stand there (again with the expo, this time it helped us). But lo and behold, the next day he was there like 15 minutes early for church. I started talking to him and it turns out he served a mission and is a high priest. He´s also a temple worker and served on a Stake High Council. Who knew? And it turns out that he might move to Santa Rita with his family because he will be working here more permanently. I know that the Lord has so many people prepared for the work here.

I want you all to know that I have a testimony of this work. I know that the Lord is blessing us. It is great to feel the Lord´s love towards his children as I try to lose myself in this work. I remember in the MTC, there was a talk that a member of the MTC presidency gave. He referred to an experience where he talked with... I want to say it was a stake patriarch, and he asked him, "What is the most apparent thing in a patriarchal blessing?" Without hesitation, the stake patriarch said, "The love of God towards his children." I have felt so strongly God´s love towards me and towards others. I am so grateful for you, my family. Thanks for being so great!

So, for the final decision, call at 3:30 your time.

Elder Snow

Thursday, May 5, 2011

It Was Really Safe Mom, Don't Worry - May 5, 2011

Dear Family!

It was so great to hear from you all! It feels like it´s been a while since I´ve written, change week is always a little bit longer.

So I´ll start with the news of the changes. Drum roll...... Elder Snow will be serving in............ Santa Rita! All four of the missionaries in Santa Rita are staying for another change. Elder Bazán and I will have our third change together as companions. This will be my 4th change here in Santa Rita. It´s crazy the time really flies. Santa Rita is a smaller city so I feel like I know just about everyone in the entire town. I really love this place and the people here, so I am very glad to be here for another change.

Elder Snow, Gunter, Rosa, Jorge & Elder Bazán

Elder Gleason, Reinaldo, Jorge & Elder Stewart
The other big news of the week is that we had the baptism of Jorge. It all turned out really well. I´m trying to attach some fotos but this computer is kind of spazzy so I hope it works. I also snagged some pictures from Elder Bazan of the baptism of Mariela so I´ll try to send those some time as well. We had the baptism on Saturday. Jorge and another young man, Reinaldo, were both baptized. Elder Stewart baptized Jorge and Elder Gleason baptized Reinaldo. During Jorge´s baptismal interview, the elder asked Jorge who he wanted to baptize him. Jorge responded "Elder Stewart, he´s stronger." Haha Rosa, Gunter, and Jorge are all very funny and make me laugh. Rosa gave a talk about baptism at Jorge´s baptism and it was very special. She is so grateful to Heavenly Father for having brought them the gospel and for children that are happy and willing to make covenants with the Lord.

Before I forget, I´m still not positive with all the details of the Mother´s Day call. You will finish church at 5 my time. I think it would be best to do it a little later than that. Would it be possible to do it at about 3:00 your time, 6:00 my time? I think we will be able to do it at the house of a member. There are few people that have land lines. We talked a little bit with one member and they will be there Sunday afternoon so that would work just fine. 

Sorry, I´m about out of time because I was trying to figure out all the stuff for the phone call.

I love you all lots and lots. I promise a nice, long letter on Monday. I know that the Savior lives. I´m very grateful for his church and for the blessing that it is to be here in the mission.

Before I go, a quick funny story. Last Saturday, we were scrambling to find out how we were going to do the baptism, because we are still having problems with the owner about the font. We didn´t want to do it in the kiddy pool again because it would be difficult for Jorge to bend all the way backwards. So we decided to take the giant font to a member's house not too far away. But we didn´t really have a way to do it. So we asked the help of the lady in charge of the building where we have church, she works for the owner. She has this little motorcycle with like a carriage hooked on back. So we threw the font on and were holding it on all sides. The members live close, but it´s straight up hill. So the 4 missionaries were running on the side of the moto, holding the font on (it was really safe mom, don´t worry) up hill as fast as we could. Sounds like something dad would say " up hill, both ways, in the snow, wet hair on my neck."
Anyway, I love you all. Have a great week!

Elder Snow

P.S. I got the Easter package, so delicious, thanks so much.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Wow, I Feel Like a Ganso! - April 25, 2011

Dear Family,

Wow it was really great to hear from you all this week.  Sounds like it has been a week full of fun up there in Utah.  It´s been a great Easter down here too.  Don´t worry Mom, I didn´t get too homesick for Easter, except when I was thinking back to Easter egg chases on Sunday mornings haha. Elder Bazán and I were eating at Rosa and Gunter´s house a couple of days ago and were sharing some of our Easter memories. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the Easter Bunny exists in Paraguay also and that Rosa´s kids used to have presents from the Easter Bunny and all that haha. We ate with Jorge also, he is so great. Jorge and Rosa made it to church again yesterday (Gunter is out of town) and really enjoyed the meeting. Jorge continues to progress really well. Right now we are teaching him the Commandments and he is understanding everything very well. I love his spirit and his want to learn more. Jorge accepted a baptismal date for this Saturday. He is preparing himself very well. Whether he is baptized or not will depend on his interview. I´ve explained a little bit before that he has some learning disabilities and so are trying to find out if he needs to be baptized or not. But he understands well the difference between right and wrong and has lots of desires to get baptized (except for a little fear and dunking his head in the water!).

Yesterday in church Izaías also gave a talk! It was so awesome. Mariela, Gunter, and Rosa have all given talks as well. It´s so neat to see recent converts share their testimonies and the Spirit is always very strong. Izaías talked about Christ and the Resurrection (not sure how to spell that in English sorry). He used a couple of really good scriptures that talked about Christ´s resurection and bore his testimony. It was a very sweet experience.

We´ve continued talking with Hernán and Sandra also. Last night we asked Sister Delvalle to meet us at the house there to teach a little bit with them. The lesson turned out really awesome. Sister Delvalle shared this awesome story about how her family was baptized. They were attending a couple of churches, but were really confused. Her family prayed to ask God what they should do. Her mom had a dream of a couple of missionaries coming to there house, but had no idea who they were or how to talk to them. But then a couple of days later the missionaries showed up at their house, which was in the middle of nowhere in a mountain. They had talked with her brother in Ciudad Del Este and he told them that they should go by. After that the entire family was baptized. Sister Delvalle shared her testimony of prayer. All in all, it was so great for Hernán and Sandra to hear. Lessons are so much more powerful with the help of members. I´m really excited to see the progress of the friendship between Sandra and Sister Delvalle

One funny story from this week, I tried to make cookies.... Needless to say, they didn´t turn out quite like Mom´s. Mom, if you could send me your chocolate chip cookie recipe, with some hints, that would be much appreciated. Anyway, about the cookies, I don´t know if we were lacking flour or what (p.s. i almost wrote flower there) but the batter was super thin. So I just plopped it on the tray anyway. Then threw it in the oven, that´s another problem. The gas switches on our stove don´t have temperature, so it´s just a guess as to how far on the knob might possibly be 325 or whatever it is. So they turned out like flat, spongy, chocolate chip pancakes. I ate them anyway...

Before I forget again, Happy Birthday, Steph! Wow I feel like a ganso (goose, as Elder Woodruff would say) for forgetting like 3 weeks in a row. The big 23, I hope you are doing well, Steph, I love you lots!

To answer your question, I did meet Elder Merrill! I had forgotten that Dad told me he was in this mission. After your email last week, I went home and looked on the calendar with the pictures of all the missionaries and looked up Elder Merrill. I recognized him from the leadership conference in Asunción! I think he´s a district leader somewhere in Asunción right now. When I met him at the time, I didn´t recongize he was Rodney´s son. But it was a pleasant surprise. I remember he is short also, about my height. It reminded me of Dad´s story about him and Rodney fighting on the first day of school or something like that. I remember I was surprised to hear that Dad was in a fight haha. The next time I run into Elder Merrill, I´ll give him a big hug!

To answer another question, I haven´t received the Easter package yet, I´m sure it will get here soon. And about Skype, I would like to do it.  It will be hard to find a place to do it. I think missionaries usually do it at member´s houses, but none of the members here have a computer, so we´ll see.

All in all, it´s been a great Easter! Here, they celebrate all week. Everyone makes chipa, I don´t know if I´ve ever mentioned chipa. It´s like a little bread type thing, it´s really hard to describe. It´s different, but once you´re used to it it´s really good. During semana santa, everyone makes chipa and hands it out. It´s pretty fun.

I tried hard to write a nice, long email this week. Hopefully I´ve succeeded at least a little. The most special part of the week, however, has been the blessing I´ve had to think more about the Savior. This week has been very special to reflect a lot about Him, about everything that He has done and does for us. I was reviewing a conference talk from President Monson in April of 2010. He spoke on Easter Morning and spoke of the Resurection. It is such na incredible talk and  I love to reflect on the words of the angel to Mary Magdalene, “He is not here, for He is risen.” I know that Christ lives. I was reflecting a little on my patriarchal blessing this morning, and realized that I am so blessed to have this testimony of the Savior. I hope you all know that I love you so much. Have a great week!

Elder Snow