Elder Zachary Snow

Elder Zachary Snow

Monday, July 30, 2012

Just Part of the Mission - July 30, 2012

Dear Family!
Thanks for sending a great email this week. Not just this week, all of your emails are great really. :)

This week we have been busy as always. In this last change I have felt more than ever that there is not enough time in the day to do everything that we need to do. There are so many people that need to hear the Gospel message.

Elder Barrios and I are working really well together. I think we are understanding each other a lot better now. We have developed a really good friendship that helps us work hard together and enjoy the work. I have learned a lot from him really.

This week has also been a little up and down as usual. But that´s just part of the misison and part of life. Something I´ve learned in the mission is the importance of working effectively even when things don´t seem to be going your way. It´s part of perservering.

We were able to visit Nestor early in the week, on Tuesday and Wednesday we were in contact with him. We had a great lesson on Tuesday with Nestor and his cousin, Gustavo. But then on the weekend, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday morning we weren´t able to get a hold of him. As a result, he didn´t make it to church again this Sunday. I was a little disappointed because he had been progressing so well and I wasn´t sure what happened. Yesterday afternoon after church we passed by his house and were able to find him. He has been working a lot lately. He has a mentally disabled sister whose condition is really bad right now. Nestor´s mom has to go to Asunción with his little sister to get some treatment done. Since Nestor´s dad isn´t there Nestor is basically the main source of income for the family. Imagine that burden as a 19 year old. So he takes work in whatever opportunity he can find it. We need to explain better the Sabbath Day and the blessings promised from the Lord if we fulfill this commandment.

We talked with Nestor a little bit more about baptism. We were hoping to be able to baptize him this week but it won´t work out because he doesn´t have enough attendances. So we confirmed his baptismal date for the 11th of August. If he makes it to church this Sunday then maybe we can fix our schedule in order to be here for the baptism. 

So that is basically the news with Nestor. We will work hard and I will pray for miracles this week. I can´t believe that is the last week of my mission. This morning I felt so many desires to get out and work so hard for this last week. I really want to finish strong.

Some good news from this week is that Jorge and his family made it to church again. They are progressing a lot. I think that his faith is getting sparked again. Elder Barrios and I are really happy to see his progress. He can do so much good for the church. Before he became less active, Jorge served in a bishopric and on the high counsel. He really knows the doctrine and would be a great aid to the church here in Minga Guazú.

This past week we also had interviews with President Agazzani. I had my final interview. It was a little different than the interviews that I typically had with President Callan and it was kind of odd having a final interview in the first interview with President Agazzani. But he gave me great counsel. We talked about my plans after the mission. He helped me to understand the importance of always honoring my covenants and of always being willing to fulfill a calling from the Lord. He will do a great job as the mission Presidente here.

I love you all very much. I am very grateful for the temple ordinances that seal us together as a family. I am grateful for your example, Mom and Dad, of the importance of the gosepl in our lives. I hope you have a great week.

Say happy birthday to Grandpa Vacc and great Grandma Ann for me!


Elder Snow

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Focus On Missionary Work - July 23, 2012

Dear Fam,

Great to hear from you again. We are seeing more miracles like crazy here in Minga Guazú. This past week we had some challenges but we worked hard and the Lord blessed us a lot.

One really great miracle is the progress of Nestor. This past week we gave him a Book of Mormon and marked 3 Nefi 11 for him to read. A few days later we went back to verify how his reading was going. Wow! He had read all of the chapter we left and then began to read the introduction, the testimony of Joesph Smith, and started reading in 1 Nephi. He explained everything that he had read perfectly and loved it. He is really prepared and continues to progress. By the middle of the week it started getting tough to find Nestor because he started working again. This weekend we weren´t able to visit him and he couldn´t make to to church on Sunday because they were having a fund raiser for his sister with mental disabilities. I was kind of bummed that he didn´t make it to church but we will keep working with him. I think that the plan is to bump his baptismal date up to the 4th of August. We have to pass by today to see how his progress is going.

Another great miracle from this week is with the González family. It is a part-member family. The dad, Jorge, has been a member for a while but has been inactive for about a year. Jorge was married before with another woman and they were sealed in the temple. His wife died almost 3 years ago and I think that is what contributed a little bit to his inactivity. Now Jorge is living with another woman named Valentina and they aren´t married. They have a little daughter who is about 5 months old. We had been working with them for a while and Valentina had attended two times in church already. But then a couple of weeks ago Jorge had an accident downtown when he was working late at night. He and a few of his friends were stabbed really bad and Jorge was in intensive care for about a week. After he got home we started visiting them again. After he had been home for about a week Jorge decided to attend church. The entire family attended yesterday. For Jorge, it was the first time in a long time that he has been to church. It was good to see him mingle with some of the older members that were really good friends with him while he was active. I could tell that he felt really good being in church again. Jorge says that it wasn´t because of his accident that he decided to go to church. I just kind of play dumb and go along with what he is saying but in reality I think that the experience humbled him a little bit and helped him feel the need to go back to church. It´s not a bad thing. Alma says in Alma 32 that those who are compelled to be humble are blessed as well.

Yesterday in church we were expecting a lot of investigators in church but in the end only Valentina attended. The Lesme family didn´t make it yesterday. We will visit them this week and excite them to make it to church.

Another great thing that is happening here is that the branch is progressing like crazy. About a year ago the attendance was around 25. Now we are averaging 75. It has a lot to do with the new Branch President. He is a stud and things are getting done. It´s great to work in a branch with members who want to have success and have a vision to improve. The other missionaries in Minga were talking with the 1st counselor in the Stake Presidency this week and the great news is that if Minga continues to do well in attendance then they will build a chapel here. That would be so great. The Church reviews attendance on a trimestral system and this trimester ends in September. So basically if the attendance is good in September, they will begin on the chapel.

It was great to hear about the focus on missionary work in the ward. In an interview with President Callan one time I asked him what we can do to really help the unit that we are working in. He talked a lot about the importance of the unit (ward or branch) having an focus on missionary work. With a focus on missionary work, the meetings on Sunday will be better, the youth preparing for the mission will be strenthened, there will be more excitement about the gospel. I know that preparing for the mission is what really changed my life.

Anywho, I love you all very much. Thanks for the support and for everything. I appreciate your letters every week. You strengthen me a lot. I hope you have a great week!


Elder Snow

Monday, July 16, 2012

Cool Story, Huh? - July 16, 2012

Querida familia!

Great to hear from you this week. I enjoyed the updates from the ward and the comments about the Callans´ homecoming talks. Dad´s sacrament meeting comment about finding a counselor with more grey hair than him was funny. I laughed out loud here in the internet cyber. Congrats to Dad.

We have had a pretty miraculous week. Things are definitely on the upswing. After weeks of hard work we are seeing lots of fruits. The biggest miracle of this past week was that we had a baptism. Sister Petrona of the Lesme family was baptized. It´s a pretty neat story. On Friday we went to their house to share with them. They´d had some questions about President Monson as a current prophet. We felt the impression to share one of his talks from this past conference. We shared the talk that he gave in the Sunday morning Session titled ¨The Race of Life.¨ It talks a lot about the Plan of Salvation. We shared this talk with the Lesme family and discussed it. It was a really great talk just for them because they have a son who passed away about 9 months ago.

After we shared the talk by President Monson I asked Sister Lesme what she though about the talk, what her impressions where. She said that she felt that the talk was written especifically for her.  (Note from Mom:  I think Zach's Spanish is messing up his English...is he trying to say especially or specifically?) We shared testimony about how President Monson is a living prophet. Then Sister Lesme said that she had been thinking a lot about it and that she wanted to be baptized that Sunday, within two days. So we gladly made the preparations. It was kind of a scramble to get everything ready in such short time. But we were able to get the interview in, get the font all ready, get a cake prepared... all in time for Sunday morning.

Sunday morning when we woke up it was really cold outside! We were worried about the water that it would be really cold for the baptism. We went to the church early and tested the water surprisingly it was a little bit warm... another miracle. Everything went well in the baptism, Sister Lesme was really happy. It was a great testimony to me that there are people prepared. Many times there are people that are so close, they just need to show that faith in the Lord and take the step. We are continuing to work with Brother Lesme and Erika, their daughter. They also believe the church is true and want to be baptized, but want to prepare themselves a little bit more. They accepted a baptismal date for the 28th of this month so we will pray a lot and continue to work hard to prepare them for that date.
Joel Morán performed the baptism of Sister Petrona Lesme

Joel, Sister Lesme and daughter Erika

Elder Barrios, Joel, Sister Lesme, Erika and Elder Snow 

Sister Casco, Brother Casco (Branch Mission Leader), Joel Morán (the one who performed the baptism), President Espínola (Branch President who is a relative of the Lesme family), Petrona Lesme, Erika Lesme

This past week we got to know our new Mission President. President Agazzani came out to Ciudad del Este on Wednesday morning to meet the missionaries from the two zones in Ciudad del Este. He came with his wife and three of their five children. They are from Córdoba, Argentina and have a pretty solid Corobese accent. President Agazzani shared a few experiences from his mission and focused a lot on the importance of finding the chosen prepared people. He helped us build up our faith that there are people waiting specifically for us. His is a really faith filled man and will do a great job as our President.

This week we have found a lot of great new, really prepared people. Fagner has been helping us a lot with our visits and he is getting really excited about missionary work.

One new person that we found this week is Nestor. We find him on.... I think it was Wednesday. We shared a little bit with him that night, then came back on Friday. Friday we got to know him a little bit better. Nestor is a 19 year old young man. He lives with his mom, his grandparents, and his little sister. He has had some tough experiences in his life. He told us that he never met his dad, that his mom has always raised him alone. His younger sister has mental disabilities and cannot walk or talk. Nestor had some great questions about the purpose of life, what God expects of us, how to follow a good path. He really impressed me a lot with his outlook on life. For a young man he has a very mature point of view and perspective. I think that the trials that he has had to pass through early in life have really helped him to become a great person.

On Saturday we shared again with Nestor and on Sunday morning he attended church. It went really well and he loved it. He accepted a baptismal date for the 11th of August. I think we might try to bump that up a little bit. Maybe it´s a selfish desire but I would love for him to be baptized before I leave. I really believe that he can be baptized within these next few weeks.

I think it was Dad who asked how we ended up finding Fagner. We found him at the house of recent converts. There is a family here in Minga Guazu that was baptized about 4 months ago named the Alcántara family. They are really great. It turns out that The Alcántaras and Fagner have been friends for a really long time. Fagner and the Alcántara kids kind of grew up together. So Fagner had to move from Santa Rita to come out here in Minga Guazú and so he decided to move into the Alcántaras´house, not knowing that they also had just recently been baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ. So the next day we showed up to the Alcántara house and there was Fagner. He told us that he had just been baptized and that he needed to get confirmed. Cool story, huh?

Well that´s about all I got for this week. I will try to send some pics as well for you to see the baptism. I love you all very much! I am grateful for your prayers and for the blessing I have to serve. I will keep working hard for the Lord. Have a great week!


Elder Snow

Monday, July 9, 2012

Time Goes Flying By - July 9, 2110

Dear Family,
It was nice to hear the updates from the Utah trip. Sounds like you have been pretty busy all week with fun activities.

This week has been pretty crazy. The time goes flying by really fast as always.

The first few days this week we started the week really well, teaching a lot of lessons, finding new investigators, committing people to come to church. We have received a lot of help from a recent convert named Fagner.

Fagner is from Santa Rita. He was baptized in Santa Rita about a month ago but moved without ever getting confirmed. We found him here in Minga Guazú (a miracle) and helped him to get confirmed. This past week we worked with him a lot and went out teaching with him a couple of times. Yesterday he received the Aaronic Priesthood and was ordained a Priest. Fagner is 21 and has desires to serve a mission so we are helping him with that. Fagner was born in Paraguay but his parents are Brazilian so he speaks more Portuguese than Spanish. It´s fun because that gives me the opportunity to practice my Portuguese. Belleza pura! Haha
There is another really great member that helps us a lot. His name is Joel Morán. Joel is a returned missionary. He served in Uruguay about 5 years ago. His testimony always impresses me a lot. He has been through a lot of rough stuff since his mission but has stayed true to the church. Joel mentioned the other day that since the mission when he developed the habit to read the scriptures every day he has not lost that habit. Every day no matter what he reads a chapter from the Book of Mormon. I know that the small and simple things (reading the Book of Mormon every day for example) are what help us stay strong and true.
We had a couple of road blocks this week as well. My companion has had problems with several of his teeth. We are in Asunción right now actually. We had to take a midnight bus last night so that he could go to the dentist here in Asunción. We won´t get back to Minga Guazú until later tonight.

I was also a little bit sick over the weekend. Saturday I had a fever and it was kind of rough because that night it got really really cold and I couldn´t sleep very well. But now it seems like we have smooth sailing ahead. Hopefully we can just focus on the work and see lots of miracles.

Anyway, I love you all very much. I am grateful for your support and the love that you always give me. I know that this is the true church of God on Earth. I know that Jesus Christ lives and that he is our Redeemer.


Elder Snow

Monday, July 2, 2012

Determined to Finish Strong - July 2, 2012

Dear Family,
I really enjoyed hearing from you this week! Sorry I don´t have a whole lot of time to write. With the new Mission President there was a change in the website of how we write to him and I had to figure out how to use it. Apparently Elder Snow is not very computer savvy.

Haha anyway, we have had a really great week. This week we focused a lot on getting investigators in church because we have been struggling a lot with that in Minga. We worked well with the members to committ the investigators and to make arrangements for them to come to church. On Saturday we had a lot of people committed. But then on Saturday night and Sunday morning several of them called us to tell us that they weren´t going to be able to attend. At least they remembered the committment, that´s a step forward. But we still need to do better to help the investigators to put God first and make attending church a priority.

We are working with a really cool Brazilian family right now. Their last name is Folgiarini, something like that. They are Italian descendents. It´s been fun teaching them. I realize that I´ve come a long way. When they speak Portuguese I can understand most of it. If it´s a really closed Portuguese with a heavy accent I don´t understand much. But anyway, this Brazilian family is really great. They are really receptive to the Gospel. They are a few of the ones that were committed for church but then couldn´t make it. They are pretty active in the Catholic church so that is kind of a challenge. But they feel the Spirit every time we are there and they are recognizing that what we teach is true.

We continue working with the Lesme family. They are the family that lives really far away. We went to visit them this week and they are really close to being baptized. They know all of the commandments, committ to live them, have testimonies. The challenge is church. They have been twice but now it´s been two Sundays that they haven´t attended. The dad has been sick the past few weeks and that is why they haven´t gone. We need to work with them more to help their testimonies grow as well.

To answer a couple of questions:

About saying hi to President and Sister Callan: Yes, please just tell them that I love them a lot and that I appreciate them so much. Tell them that I am 100 percent determined to finish my mission strong and to be a blessing for the new Mission President.

Another question about the baptism of Pedro and Felisia: From what I can gather, I think Pedro got baptized but Felisia no. Every week there is a weekly inform that they send us with numbers from the mission and the zone leaders. According to that, it says that Elder Ramos and his new comp baptized and confirmed one. So it seems like just Pedro got baptized. I´m sure that Felisia will be soon to follow.

About the meaning of Iguazú and guazú. Guazú means grande in Guaraní. Or big in English. So the Iguazú waterfalls literally means ¨big water¨ in Guaraní. Kind of funny, huh? Minga Guazú means big something. I asked my companion what Minga means but he said it is like really closed, ancient Guaraní so he doesn´t know the meaning.

About the change in President (of Paraguay). I didn´t write anything because I didn´t want you to worry and it wasn´t too serious. We had to go home early on the day that the President was taken out of office. But there haven´t been any problems really. It´s not good for missionaries to talk about politics so I really haven´t mentioned anything to the Paraguayans. Everything seems to be just fine.

I am so grateful for my mission. I feel the growth that I have made spiritually. I am really grateful to be with a young missionary in my last change to help him have a great mission experience. I am so grateful for the constant Spirit that we can feel as missionaries. I really am grateful for this work. I love you all very much!

I hope everyone is well. Say hi to all of the family for me!


Elder Snow