Ok, now this week was really hard... there is a holiday, well it’s actually today, the 8th of Diciembre, called “The Virgin of Ca A Cupe”. It’s this huge statue of Mary in a city, ummm, I’m not sure which direction, but I don’t think it’s too far from here. Hermana Escobar served there and loved it. When I first saw a pic of the statue I thought it was Christ, like the one in Brazil, that’s what it looks like, but it’s actually Mary. Anyway everyone leaves their homes and jobs to make a pilgrimage to Ca A Cupe every year. It’s been really hard because most people are fairly religious here but are really open to what we have to say. But this whole week when they realize that we aren’t Catholic they are like “Nope, we don’t want to talk to you. We believe in the Virgin!!!” or when we ask “Can we pass by Monday?”, “Nope, Mary will be here so you can’t come.” Each time I told Hermana Escobar it’s ok. People need to be mean to us every once in a while so we know what it’s like. But each day it seemed they got ruder and ruder the closer today got.
Wednesday we had exchanges with the sister training leaders and it was really hard in lots of ways. First off, I had to navigate us to the investigators’ homes. That in itself was a huge miracle! The other thing was that it was really hard to teach with someone I had never practiced or really ever met before. The whole day I kept thinking and realizing to appreciate Hermana Escobar and everything she does for me. At the end of the day when I finally saw her again we just hugged and I wanted to cry and never let anyone take her from me again!!! The best part was she felt the same way or at least that’s what she told me... jaja Anyway, the one thing about the sister training leader was she was good luck. Everyone that never seems to be home, was, and they received us and it was great. We had a lesson with Pedro and he recommitted to a new date.
A while back we got a referral to a part of our area that’s really, really far away. The farthest we go is Las Mercedes and I wanna die. It’s like 4 kilometers there and then in total after making our whole loop it’s like 10 or 11. But Pindty is 6 just to get there so then 6 back and also walking around so in total it was going to be like 14 kilometers. I don’t really know what that means, I just know that walking on these roads in the hot sun really takes a toll on you. But I am learning to smile even when I am soooo hot. I read a talk this week about missionary work and Elder Ballard said don’t just walk around like robots saying hi to everyone. That’s how I am. I am sooo tired and hot! So I am learning to smile and be happy, even when I am hot.
Anyway we decided that we need to go to the far-away place. We keep meaning to go and then something goes wrong, like it rains or I don’t know, we just talk each other out of it. We keep waiting for a member to take us, but he is always busy, so finally we decide to go Friday. But, like always, things start to go wrong. The zone leaders need us to submit numbers. We don’t have the numbers, we had to go home and then go to the cyber, the internet place I am at now, and then enter them. So we got off to a late start - half way there we are so tired and we don’t wanna go any farther and we start thinking maybe we won’t go today. Then Hermana Escobar is like “No we are going to always come up with a reason not to go.” So we got up and sang hymns and laughed and practiced Spanish and before we knew it we were there. It didn’t even feel like that far of a walk. We start contacting, we knew there was someone there that really needed us.
The first person is like “Ya I´m Catholic” and he was just kind of being rude. We were like thanks and left. Then we come to a lady and she says “si... esta bien passar otro dia?” (yes, come back another day) uhhhh It’s not like this is super far away from where we live. Sure, we can come back another day... Then I said we need to say a prayer because I really want to find someone here.. So we do and we haven’t even taught a lesson all day and it’s like 4 by now. My comp is like “Ok, we are teaching a lesson at the next house!”
So we walk up and it’s a lady and two kids and they are all sitting drinking mate and she just motions for us to come. We sit down all sweaty and she offers us water and things are going great. I compliment her garden and her house and then … I didn’t really know what happened. Hermana Escobar explained later that she thought we were with this group of kids that come and learn Spanish and do humanitarian work. But Hermana Escobar explains no we are missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ..... then all I see is her jumping up Mormones and spills her pitcher of water, kicks her hat under the table, almost falls over her chair, all the time saying I DON’T WANNA TALK TO YOU! I don’t want to talk to any Mormons. We believe in the virgin. Get out of my house.... soooo we awkwardly get up and I´m like buen dia. hahahaha Then we leave hahah and I just start laughing sooo hard, to keep from crying probably. hahah It was so funny. She just turned on us like that. Needless to say, the next two lessons weren’t quite that bad but you could tell they were just thinking about the virgin the whole time. One lady said “Yaaa we are all having a party Sunday for the virgin so I can’t come to church with you. I will be at my church for the virgin! ah It got so annoying. It’s like the one time of the year that everyone is super actively going to the Catholic churches. Anyway, then we planned to find our contact, but when we started that way hahah.
I don’t even know how to explain this but there was a man on a horse and Hermana Escobar is just sitting there writing in her planner and the man has a rope tied around the horns of a cow... I am learning so much about animals. I thought only bulls had horns but like every cow here has horns and they are all female. I don’t get it. Anyway his son is hitting the cow with a stick and yelling. Apparently the man on the horse is yelling “Get out of here, it’s dangerous”. Hermana Escobar is like it’s just a cow. We need to go that way. hahahah I am like ummm I think we need to move.... finally she sees that the cow is jumping everywhere crazy and running right at us. Ok so every house has a fence and the cow was running all over the road and the sides so I was scared to just stand on the side and hope it passed us. So we start running down the road away from this crazy cow and every time we would stop running and look back, it would stop. Then the man and the horse and the cow and the kid with a stick would be running again so we would have to run for our life again because there was nowhere to go but back down the road!! It was sooo embarrassing. One time I really thought we were going to die. They seemed so close and the cow was running so fast and Hermana Escobar was so slow. I was about to leave her. hahha I look over and this whole family is just watching from their porch, two girls in dresses running from this crazy cow. They don’t offer to let us in their yard. They just watch as we try and run away. It was seriously so terrifying. Anyway, needless to say, we left Pindty feeling a little discouraged, but I know that the Lord needed us there for some reason and we are going back Wednesday. I know that we will find someone waiting for the gospel there.
Ok, I hope you all have been watching and sharing He is the Gift. It is so amazing. We share it in every lesson, so I have watched it a million times. Each time I am filled with a spirt and love of Christmas! They always ask if we get to go home for Christmas and they feel so bad when we say no, we are here... but that video brings the spirit instantly to every lesson!
After a really hard week we had high hopes that Pedro and others would come to church. We had 4 with a date to be baptized so they needed to come to keep their date. The elders have been having the same problem getting people to church so we all shared our investigators’ names with each other and prayed for each one individually. Sunday came and we get to church and no one’s investigators came. Not one. The elders hunted down a boy from one of their families, but that was all. It was really hard. I was feeling really, really bad and church is always hard because they only speak Guadani so I never have a clue at all what’s going on. But in Relief Society we all had to go around and say our testimony. When it came to me I just started bawling, looking around at these 10 women in this little classroom in a church in Paraguay, speaking two languages I don’t know. I just said it was really hard for me to decide to serve a mission and be away from my family. I didn’t realize how hard it is until I was here, but I know that this church is true and that’s why I am here. (it probably didn’t really come out like that, but that’s what I tried to say). I just started crying so hard as I listened to everyone’s testimony in this psycho language because I could feel the truth even though I couldn’t understand. The woman sitting next to me, who I love a lot, was going to be sealed Saturday and when they announced it I was sooo excited! They have two little kids that are so sweet and I kept thinking of the missionaries that baptized them. One of the women I love feeds us every Friday. After Relief Society she grabbed me and hugged me and told me she knows it’s really hard but she loves me so much and I am like her daughter (she reminds me a lot of Dianna Greene). I just was filled with a love of my members. All Sunday I kept thinking of how amazing they are. They all love us missionaries so much. They feed us and accept us in their homes so much. Anyway, then I go in to sacrament meeting and they announce that our building is being expanded. They are starting in one week and I just cried and cried because I know that the Lord loves his children in Paraguay so much. We seriously have the smallest church ever. Our Relief Society room is just one of those tiny classrooms. We had 95 in attendance at church on Sunday and my whole heart was filled with love for each of them.
Sunday night we found an amazing woman, Elba. After another hard day we were just trying to get our contacts and we felt we should share the video, which turned in to sharing el Libro de Mormon. It was so cool. She accepted a date, not at first. She said she was baptized already and then we explained to her and she said that makes so much sense!!!!! and accepted a date and el libro de Mormon. In her prayer she thanked the Lord for sending us. We left feeling sooo hopeful and thinking that even though this week was really hard there are moments and lessons that go perfect. And that’s what we are here for. Each time we have someone that is mean we think we just have to work that much harder to find the one waiting for us. I truly believe Elba was waiting for us! After one really hard lesson Hermana Escobar just wanted to sit down and cry. I told her that during the lesson I always think about their conversion story. The lady’s niece was listening. I told Hermana Escobar that one day that little girl would say “I remember the first missionaries came when I was at my aunt’s house. They were really happy and gave me candy. I remember my aunt laughed at them and I felt really bad. Years later two Elders came to my house and I let them in. As they taught me, the truth filled my heart and I remembered those first sisters who bore similar testimony. I will always be grateful for them.” haha We don’t have real conversion stories yet, so we make them up. But that’s what I always think about. You never know how the gospel will come to someone.
Lastly I want to FOLLOW UP on my challenge to do the 30 day Scripture Question (see the entry in November titled “If Elle Wood Can Get In”). Are you doing it? The most important part is writing it down. This one thing has been the main faith builder for me since I have been here. Each day when I am struggling and I think maybe I don’t even have a testimony, I ask my Father in Heaven and I am always answered. It’s crazy because some days I turn to the same page as the day before and I think “ugh, I have been here before”. But I start reading and I find my new answer a few verses below the other. Or, sometimes, I ask a question and my answer has nothing to do with what I asked. It’s like the spirit is saying “That’s not really what you needed today, here is your real answer.” I know that all of your answers are found in the scriptures. I know that God listens to our prayers. I have learned that so much these past two months. I feel your prayers so strong and I hope you feel mine. I love you all and I hope you all
ACCEPT the gift Christ brings. Accept His commandments, His love, His guidance in our life.
Love, a missionary doing her best to serve the Lord in Paraguay,