Elder Zachary Snow

Elder Zachary Snow

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Day 7 in Paraguay - August 15, 2012

On Wednesday, our last full day in Paraguay, Dave and Zach let me sleep in while they went golfing.  There was free golfing for guests, so there was no way they were going to pass that up!  They bought golf balls, rented clubs and wore their tennis shoes.  I guess it wasn’t quite the same as golfing at home but they had a good time.

While Dave and Zach were golfing, I braved breakfast on my own.  The hotel had a great breakfast buffet, however the scrambled eggs that had been served the morning before were less cooked than I like them.  I attempted to order eggs that were more done by asking “¿Puede preparar mucho?” hoping they would understand.  A few minutes later I realized instead of meaning “Can you prepare them a lot?” it probably meant “Can you prepare a lot?”  Sure enough they brought me a bunch of undercooked scrambled eggs.  I finally got them to cook the eggs longer and they tasted fine.

Once the golfers returned we went to Cerro Lambaré, a hill in the city near Zach’s first area.  Ever since he had sent a picture when he first arrived in Asunción, I wanted to go there.  Although the day was overcast, the view was still beautiful.
View from Cerro Lambaré
Monument on Cerro Lambaré

Monument to Indian chief from 1550's on Cerro Lambaré

Dave & Carrie hanging out with the chief

Next was lunch at Paulista’s, a Brazilian restaurant where you are served all the grilled meat you can eat.  Waiters keep bringing big skewers of all types of meat to the table and cutting off slices for us.  We ate until we couldn’t eat another bite.  This is the restaurant that the mission president and his wife take the departing missionaries to before they return home so this was Zach’s second visit in a week.
Dave & Zach enjoyed all the meat they could eat!

One of the waiters bringing yet another skewer of meat.
Elder Snow & Dave in front of the Paulista Grill.
After lunch was a quick stop at the mission office to pick up one of Zach’s suitcase that we left there while we traveled around.  While there, Zach picked up a special gift that he had ordered for us and had been delivered.  One of the members there makes leather scripture covers and other items and so Zach had him make a leather wall decoration of the Salt Lake temple for us which says “Families Can Be Together Forever” and our wedding date.
Leather and ink artwork made by local member
That evening we went to the stake center in Costa Bonita, Zach’s fourth area (and the third of the areas in Asunción).  On Wednesday nights the members have a noche de barrio (ward night) where they can visit or have an activity.  That night some of them were outside playing soccer until it started to rain.  Once again the members were very friendly.

As we left the church building, it really started to rain and there was loud thunder and intense lightning.  As soon as we got into the car, we saw a lightning strike less than a block away from us and all of the power went out.  We drove back to the hotel to a spectacular lightning and thunder show...maybe it was a little frightening as well.  We were relieved to find the power on at the hotel because we knew we had some serious packing ahead to prepare to leave the next morning.

Here are some ramdom pictures of some typical sights in Paraguay:

Many Paraguayans carry an insulated water container, guampa and bombilla
so that they can drink tereré all day!

View of street in Asunción

Close-up of the empedrado. 
This is how how many of the roads in Paraguay are paved.

Trash baskets like these are in front of homes in Paraguay.

A colectivo - common transportaion.
 It has been wonderful to be in Paraguay...to experience the sights, sounds and smells of where Zach has been serving these past two years.  I have enjoyed visiting the areas he has lived in and some of the sights he saw.  I have enjoyed the food we have eaten.  It has been humbling at times to see how the people here live.  It has been sometimes frustrating but always a good challenge to see how much Spanish I can understand.  It has been interesting to learn new customs and look for similarities and differences.  But, the best part of Paraguay for me has been the people themselves.  The people of Paraguay have been without exception very welcoming and always willing to help us.  They have been generous.  They have great love for their family and friends.  They are proud of their towns and their country.  In our short visit, I have developed a love for the people in Paraguay.  Paraguay is called the "Heart of America" and the people are truly the "heart" of Paraguay!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Day 6 in Paraguay - August 14, 2012

On Tuesday morning we went to the temple in Asunción.  It is not one of the larger temples but just as beautiful and peaceful.  It is always so amazing to drive though the hustle and bustle of city traffic and then enter the doors of a temple and feel the peace and spirit there.  What a blessing that temple is for the people of Paraguay.
Asunción, Paraguay Temple

Dave wasn't sure why I was taking this picture considering
 we had been to Iguazú Falls.

Flowers on temple grounds
The flag of Paraguay flying on the temple grounds.

Happy to be at the temple in Asunción!

We ate lunch across the street from the temple and we all had a lomito Árabe.  A lomito Árabe is a burrito that is filled with beef and chicken that has been cooked on a rotisserie, cabbage, tomatoes, and a garlic sauce, and then warmed on a grill press.  Very delicious!
Elder Snow enjoying his lomito Árabe.

Rotisserie where beef and chicken is cooked for the lomito Árabe.

Press where the lomito Árabe is warmed and browned on grill.

After lunch we had several unsuccessful attempts to sightsee in Asunción: some botanical gardens and natural history museum (power was out in museum), the Museo de Barro, or as Zach called it the mud museum (closed for the day) and a church there called La Iglesia Santísima Trinidad (also closed). 
La Iglesia Santísima Trinidad

We finally had success at the Panteón de los Héroes, a memorial to some of the heroes of Paraguay.
Panteón de los Héroes

 Inside of Panteón de los Héroes

  Inside of the Panteón de los Héroes

Nearby was an open market, so we did a little more souvenir shopping.  I had hoped to find a nativity set for my souvenir and I was very excited to find one carved out of wood which is native to the Chaco region in the north part of Paraguay.
My nativity carved from wood that comes from the Chaco region.

Zach wanted to get a soccer jersey from the Paraguay team and a Paraguayan flag that were a little more official than what the street vendors were selling, so we went to a mall.  The mall was perhaps not as big as a mall in the states but very similar with many of the same stores.

That evening we visited with Eduardo, a young man who was baptized in the first area Zach served in called Ybaté.   Eduardo has a very cheerful personality and has learned to speak English.  He is strong in the church and he baptized his sister.  He will be a great missionary.  Eduardo has been following The Elder Zach Files blog for a long time and it was so great to meet him and his mother!
Snows with Eduardo
Before we returned to the hotel we stopped at the home of Betty and Luis.  Betty is another of the faithful and sweet sisters in Paraguay who regularly feeds the missionaries.
Visiting with Betty and Luis
What a good day we had!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Day 5 in Paraguay - August 13, 2012

We packed our suitcases once again to travel back to Asunción.  Before we left, though, Zach wanted to see the inside of the basilica in Pilar that he had passed many times while in Pilar.  There were some beautiful stained glass windows and on the entrance doors there were wood carvings depicting the life of Christ.
Basilica in Pilar
Basilica in Pilar
Main altar in basilica

Beautiful stained glass window above entrance doors

One of stained glass windows on side of basilica

Some of the wood carvings on
main entrace doors to basilica in Pilar
A quick stop and photo op at the Rio Paraguay and we were on our way.  We planned to stop at a Jesuit museum in San Ignacio, but arrived during el medio día (middle of the day).  Many businesses close then because that is when many families have their large meal.
Standing on shore of Rio Paraguay.
Argentina in on the other side of the river.

We passed through the town of Yaguarón and stopped to see the oldest church building in Paraguay.  It was started in 1640 by Franciscan monks and took 40 years to complete.
Oldest church in Paraguay in city of  Yaguarón

We arrived in Asunción during the evening traffic and checked in at the Hotel Yacht y Golf Club.  Does anyone want to guess why we picked this hotel?  The hotel was very nice with a view of the Rio Paraguay.
Hotel we stayed at in Asunción
View from hotel room window

View from hotel room window

Checking out the sand
After we dropped our luggage off in our room, we went to visit with some people from the third area that Zach served in, a suburb of Asunción, called Puerto Pabla.  First we met with Jorge and Betty, long time investigators who are looking forward to being baptized next month and being sealed in the temple next year.  Their seven year old son, Moises, loves watching church movies and could sing all of the words to “How Great Thou Art” at a very young age.  Betty kept bringing out gift after gift for us and then fed us hot dogs and Pulp, a Paraguayan soda.  Betty showed us all around her yard and the trees and flowers she had planted.  They had a chicken coop behind their house and their very large chickens were sleeping in a tree…wish I had my camera for that one!
Betty, Jorge, Moises and Betty's nephew with Elder Snow,
Carrie & Dave
We also made a visit to Nelson who was baptized while Zach served in Puerto Pabla.  While there the elders now serving in the area arrived to visit with Nelson.
Carrie, Dave and Elder Snow with Nelson
Another great day in Paraguay!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Day 4 in Paraguay - August 12, 2012

We slept in a little on Sunday because we had arrived in Pilar quite late the night before (actually it was early Sunday morning!).  The breakfast was very simple at the hotel we stayed at: bread, biscotti, juice or coffee.  The juice here in Paraguay is very delicious and the bread and biscotti were flavored with anise.

When Zach served in Pilar, he spent a lot of time with the Suarez family.  The Suarez family was a huge help to the missionaries. They fed the missionaries at least once a week and Sister Maria did their laundry.  The family was also great at fellowshipping investigators. 
The Suarez family & extended family members
Brother & Sister Suarez are closest to Zach
Nelson is in front of Carrie & Dave
While Zach was still serving in Pilar, they had invited us to help celebrate their son, Nelson’s 9th birthday.  When we arrived, there was a typical Paraguayan asado prepared.  Asado is barbeque meats and the Suarez family served beef, pork and two kinds of chorizo (sausage).  The meal also included sopa Paraguaya (corn bread), mandioca (starchy root) and rice salad with mayonnaise and vegetables in it.  All of the food was delicious.
Rice salad and asado (beef and chorizo)

Sopa Paraguaya


The Suarez, Servín & Snow families with
Elders Holmgren & Calvert
The family was happy to have us there and we felt honored to be part of the celebration. Zach found out that Nelson wanted missionary items for his birthday, so he gave him a pair of “Elder Snow’s missionary pants and a missionary tie” which Nelson was very happy to receive.  Also in attendance at the party was the Servín family, who were baptized while Zach was in Pilar.  They are a very sweet and humble family.

After our meal at the Suarez home, we still had time before church started at 3:00, so we visited with a recent convert, Pedro, and his wife, Felicia, before church started. Zach taught Pedro while he was in Pilar, but Pedro wasn’t baptized until Zach had transferred. He was very happy to learn that Pedro had been baptized. Felicia is still not committed to join the church, however, she welcomed us and picked some mburucuya (Guaraní for passion fruit) for us to take. Everyone here has been so generous, wanting to feed us and give us gifts, even though they live in very humble homes and circumstances. Pedro is very enthusiastic about the gospel and wanted Dave to mark his favorite scripture in his Book of Mormon so that he could study it later.  I am so touched by these people!
Pedro, Elder Snow & Felicia
We still had time so we went to visit another recent convert, Jorge, where he works for a few minutes.  Jorge works at a hotel and has to work every other Sunday afternoon.  On the Sundays that he works, he attends the other Pilar branch which meets in the morning, so that he can attend church every week.  I admire his commitment to attend.
Dave, Carrie, Elder Snow & Jorge
We arrived at church and were greeted warmly by the members.  Dave and Zach went to the Priesthood meeting and left me to fend for myself in Relief Society.  There were just a few of us there and they could not speak English and I have extremely limited Spanish.  We waited and waited and I was beginning to wonder if there would be a meeting.  Each time a new sister came in they greeted each other and me with besitos (little kisses) given on each cheek, which is how the Paraguayan women greet and part with each other.   Finally, 15 or 20 minutes after the hour, the teacher arrived and greeted each sister before beginning the lesson.  Even after the lesson began, when other sisters arrived they all greeted each other during the lesson…no sneaking into the back row for them!  I could not understand the lesson, but I could tell the sister teaching was a good teacher as she encouraged the participation of all the class members.  In Sacrament Meeting, Elder Snow was put to work playing the prelude music and then leading the hymns to taped accompaniment and one hymn a cappella.  He was also asked to bear his testimony.  I enjoyed being in the meeting where I could feel the love the members have for the gospel and each other, especially knowing how much Zach loves the people in Pilar.
Dave, Carrie, Elder Snow & the Servín family

Pereira family with the Snows

After church we visited more members in Pilar.  Our first stop was at the home of Martina and Gabriela.  Gabriela was another convert baptism while Zach was in Pilar.  She is only eleven years old and very dedicated.  Many times she goes to church on her own and gets there by a 20-25 minute bicycle ride. 
Elder Snow, Martina & Gabriela
Next we visited another convert, Alan, and his sister, Lilian, who is also a member. 
Lilian, Alan, Elder Snow, Carrie & Dave
We also visited la familia Valenzuela (as Zach calls them), a young family with two daughters and a baby son.  The wife was baptized last September and the family is hoping to be sealed in the temple in the future.
Elder Snow with the Valenzuela family
We were invited to eat with the district president’s family, the Mendozas.  They also very warmly welcomed us.  They have been members for 14 years and have been a strength to the church in Pilar.  They showed us family photos and Presidente Mendoza played the guitar for us.  Hermana Mendoza served spaghetti with beef and a really delicious dessert.  The missionaries also eat regularly at the Mendoza home.  I really enjoyed our visit. 
The Mendoza family

Marcos & Mario Mendoza arrived later
It was a day filled with visits, good food and church meetings.  The love of the gospel that we all share binds us together and I felt love for these people in Pilar.