Monday, September 28, 2015

Signs of the Times


This week started out with a TON of heat. On Tuesday we woke up, started sweating during exercises and then didn't stop sweating for the rest of the day. Even though it was demasiado calor early in the week, by Sunday I had my sweater and leggings on. I think Paraguay has Utah beat for the bipolar weather award. The humidity magnifies whatever the heat or cold is and we have had both heat and cold this week.

Recently my compañera and I have been working on contacting. While contacting we kept hearing about a guy everyone calls the "abuelito" in the Bosque. On Wednesday we finally met him! Turns out there is a grandpa with a whole family up in the Bosque that haven't been to church in over two years. When we came to visit abuelito was so excited! He made us juice and gave us a bunch of "bananas de oro"- mini bananas. It was so cute. He came to church on Sunday and participated a lot in the Principios del Evangelio class.

Earlier this week we were walking by the bishops house when we saw this HUGE bonfire going in the field across the road. We asked people if it was ok and they said it was normal- some guy was just cleaning out his yard. That's spring cleaning in Paraguay for ya.

On Saturday we did divisions with the Hermana Leaders and I was Hermana Jones' companion for the day in Limpio. I was able to understand a lot of what was going on (even though I was out of context with the people) and that made me feel a lot more confident in my Spanish-speaking abilities. I'm still nowhere near where I need to be with Spanish, but it's coming! Poco a poco.

Last night we were able to view the "blood moon" from our patio. It was very cool to see and very cold outside. To celebrate the occasion I have been reading up on the "signs of the times" and the prophecies concerning our day in the scriptures. Scary/cool things, but what's most important is to continue to strive to live righteously and wait with hope for the second coming of our Savior!

Love you all!

Hermana Carr

When it's hot it's hot

And when it's cold it's cold

Spring cleaning in Paraguay

Thursday, September 24, 2015

First Day of Spring

Hey everybody!

It is the first day of Spring and man oh man, it is HOT.

This week has been a great week full of service. After our district meeting last Tuesday we received a call that one of our future investigators needed a priesthood blessing. We grabbed the Elders and ran over to where they were. The priesthood is very real and I am so grateful we have it today. Before the blessing our investigator, Isa, told us her situation and it broke all of our hearts. After a blessing of comfort there was almost a tangible change in the mood of everyone in the room. We all went from sad/ no hope to a feeling of peace and hope. So cool. Now she is wanting to know more about the gospel!!!

On Wednesday night we helped Isa and her son Mauricio move their things to a new place. I'm going to be coming home so buff - we carried a bed frame, chairs and other miscellaneous items over 1/4 of a mile. The next day we were sore, but we would do it again in a heartbeat.
On Thursday we had our weekly lunch with Hermana Gomez, the "mama de Paraguay". They set a bowl of something (I've stopped asking what it is) in front of me and said "do you know how to eat that?" Not wanting a further explanation both me and my companion said "yes". It was a sort of stew with rice and beans and some chunk of something in the middle that made the rice around it taste weird. Without acknowledging the island in my stew I ate all of the beans and rice and simply poked at the chunk of meat thing. After she took the plate away she explained that it was COW HOOF. Yup. I ate cow hoof, rice, bean stew.

Saturday morning we did service for a young family in our ward. We cleared out the growing weeds and grass around their trees and bushes and put dirt on their yard/land. It was hard labor in the hot sun and I don't think I've ever sweat so much in my life. Since that day it's just been hot and am I getting used to just living with sweat and a little sunburn.

Sunday night we "dropped cane" (calling to repentance with love) on one of our progressing menos activo couples. They aren't keeping the law of chastity and we've come to the topic in the missionary lessons. That was very nerve racking- we felt very awkward beforehand - but the spirit was there during the lesson and we were able to teach/call to repentance just fine.

Today is the first day of Spring and tomorrow is the end of my first change, so to celebrate we cleaned out our house! Spring cleaning woo! It was really nice to sweep out the piling dirt/dust on the floors and clean out what has been left of the dying ants from two weeks ago. Now we have a clean house to go back to!

Even though it is just barely spring, it is getting super hot. I pulled out my umbrella and will most likely be using at the sun gets stronger and stronger.

With love,

Hermana Carr

Monday, September 14, 2015

Somos Teletuvis!

Hola familia y amigos!

This week has been so crazy random and so crazy long.

Lately we have been having a hard time finding people who have time or are willing to receive us, so we've been walking a lot and doing everything and anything we can to serve and find new people.

We have an investigator named Liz who has been making a lot of changes in her life, including building/moving into a new house and working long hours at work. One night we came by to see if she had time to share, but we ended up helping her move her fridge and heavy cabinets into her new house instead. We are definitely working with our might, mind and STRENGTH hahaha.

We have been contacting a lot of people in their houses and finding all of the people in Juan de Salazar that don't want the restored gospel, so we decided to shake things up and inviting people to Noche de Barrio (ward night). This last Friday we made a sort of walk-through representation of Lehi's dream, and activity I remember participating in when I was in Primary. We had a string set up to lead people through a few rooms and past "temptations" and then a mini-Christmas tree we found in our house at the end for the tree of life. With the help of some of the youth in the ward, people passed by a game of soccer, juice (with salt in it) to tempt them and a "fiesta" right before the room with the tree of life and a small treat. It was fun for the ward members - our investigators thought it was weird - but the spiritual thought at the end was good for them. We had three potential investigators come, which is more than we've been able to meet in over a week of contacting! We are so excited to work with them!

Story time:

One day we contacted a lady and her nephew and she was FULL of questions - we felt like we were being tested - but we love people with questions because that usually means they're ready or might be ready to progress. While we were talking though she told us that in Guarani Hermana is Teletuvi (pronounced like telly-tubby). My compañera and I laughed so hard afterwards - somos Teletuvis! We are not 100% sure if that's the most common word in Guarani for Hermana, but it's still pretty funny.

On Saturday we came back to the house to use the restroom and my compañera saw Hermana Alceivia (our dueña and the Relief Society President) out in her yard with her husband killing two chickens and de-feathering them. We talked to them for a minute and were informed that those were the chickens we would be given to us for lunch the following day. Sure enough, we had a chicken, rice stew/sauce the next day. Only in Paraguay do you get food so fresh you saw it alive yesterday.

Today we went traveling a bit and went to a Ciclovia in San Lorenzo. We rented bikes for an hour and rode around the park's different areas. The bikes were super small and after a while my muscles got tired from trying to ride the bike, so I just ran next to my compañera for half the time. It was a very pretty park, great to stretch my legs and run and I may be going back there again in future changes.

Although it's been slow and going getting lessons and we've been walking and contacting a ton, I have a lot of hope for our area. The members are starting to really get into bringing friends/extended family to the gospel and our menos activos are slowly, but surely coming back to church.

The days are long, but the work is great!

Hermana Carr

P.S. Sorry about pics - the computers we're on aren't working with our cameras. Next week!

Monday, September 7, 2015

A Little About Paraguay

Hola family and friends!

Last week I was reminded that I have not been writing much about life down here in Paraguay. Me arrepiento -  this email is dedicated to sharing a little about Paraguay.

Paraguay is a third world country, but that does not mean that there are not nice things here. In the mission we call nice things "chuchi" (choo-chi). There are a lot of chuchi things/places in Asuncion and along the paved roads, but in our area there´s not a lot of chuchi. The major roads are paved, but most of them are made of rocks or just dirt.

The food here is very plain. They usually have pasta, rice or some kind of corn-based staple and then either chicken or beef with meals. There´s not many vegetables - green peppers, tomatoes and lettuce are the most commonly found - and it´s a lot of fried food and salt. So not the healthiest dining. They do have a lot of fruit though, and I hear there´s even more fruit available in the summer. They have a bagel-like food called chipa that I love (when made well) and my favorite dessert food so far is arroz con leche. Everyone is always drinking herbal-water called Terere (cold) or Mate (hot). My favorite is when members make us fresh fruit juice - it is SO good.

This week we tried making a treat called crema, but we found out we made it wrong. So now we have a pot of misionera crema. So far chocolate has been the only thing I´ve really been missing. We eat a normal breakfast with granola, fruit, eggs, whatever we have time to make. Our biggest meal of the day is lunch and it is usually served to us by members. Some days we make our own lunch and we load up on the veggies. We don´t really eat dinner - we usually just eat a snack in between lessons or just nibble on something after we come home if we are really hungry.

As missionaries we live in good housing. In this area we live in the side-house of the Relief Society president. We have a room for sleeping, a room for studies and storing food, a covered patio with kitchen and an open space where we do exercises and hang our clothes to dry and then a small bathroom as well. We have warm water in our shower, but the other faucets only have the options of on or off. To go to the mission offices or district meetings we take Collectivos - a hop on anywhere, pay, hop off anywhere bus system. But for traveling in our area we are like the pioneer children and we walk and walk and walk and walk.

Paraguayans are all about noise. We frequently hear "bombas" - fireworks without pretty colors - go off and there is music constantly blaring from someone´s yard. For a lot of Paraguayans even if they have nothing else they will have good speakers and music. Most people ride motorcycles, some people have cars, but it seems more practical to ride on motorcycles on the dirt roads.

Paraguay itself is like paradise. The trees are tropical and everything grows. Once we saw an orchid strapped to a wood pole growing onto the pole in someone´s yard. Right now the weather is perfect or a humid-chilly, but in the summer they say it gets super hot. With nice scenery and weather comes bugs though. We see a freaky-looking bug every now and then, but mostly it´s just flies, gnats, mosquitoes and small spiders. Even though I am still slightly afraid of them, I am grateful for the spiders that eat mosquitoes. There are a lot of ants as well and we´ll see giant ant hills in the middle of fields. Last week we came back from Ciber and saw that we had an ant infestation in our study/food room. We used Mata Todo to take care of them and haven´t had a problem with them since.

This week I got pique and that, according to my trainer, means I´m officially in the mission. There´s some bug that lays an egg in your skin (usually on your feet) and they call it pique. The idea of it sounds freakier than it is - I just had a little sting in one of my toes and there was a black dot, so we just got out the black dot like taking out a splinter and that was it. No big deal. My trainer said she went through 9 months in the mission without getting pique, so it´s really not that common.

Dogs, chickens, cows and cats are just kind of everywhere in our area. We have a neighbor that walks his cows every morning like people in the states walk their dogs. The people here are awesome. They have a lot of faith in Christ. Regardless of their religion, people will receive us and are usually very friendly. There are strong families in our ward, but also a lot of less actives and broken families that we work with. Something really cool here is the majority of people gain their testimonies through dreams. I´ve realized that the spirit guides us even when we´re sleeping and definitely works through dreams. The general mentality of Paraguay can usually be summarized in one frequently used word - tranquilo. If someone starts getting angry or worried/stressed someone always says "tranquilo" and I love it.

Missionary work is so cool. It is a privilege and it is very special because we get to live among these people and work with them on a very personal level as we are helping them come until Christ and strengthen their relationship with our Heavenly Father.

The work is hard, we don´t really get any breaks, but it is wonderful and fulfilling and I often feel like there is no place I´d rather be (except for maybe with family and friends).

With love,

Hermana Carr

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Flowers and a Baptism Are All an Hermana Needs

Dear familia y amigos,

Time flies when you're looking back on the week since last P-day. The days are long, but the weeks seem to be going pretty fast.

This week has been a crazy one. We started out pretty slow - my companion was a little sick so we came in early and I got to study a lot in the evenings. By Wednesday we were back on our normal schedule though and que suerte because our investigator Jose (71 years old and only speaks Guarani) started feeling better and was baptized this last Saturday! We had to plan the baptism and clean out the baptismal font during our studies Saturday morning, so that took a lot of our time, but it all worked out and we are so happy for Jose!

Last Wednesday was my first storm in Paraguay and WOW. They're not kidding when they say the streets turn to rivers. It only rained for a couple hours, but the mud stayed for a few days.

Funny story of the week: We regularly visit a less active family with one son (I think) about six years old. While we were talking and teaching with his mom he brought us a few cute little orange flowers. The flowers smelled really good and I was curious what kind of flowers they were, so I asked my companion. After smelling her flowers and thinking for a second she turned to the mom and asked, "Hermana, is this your perfume?" Sure enough the little boy, ma ena, had run inside and sprayed perfume on the small flowers he gave us. We all had a good laugh about that one.

I had a very humbling moment during Jose's baptism this week. We planned for Jose to share his testimony in Guarani after a few talks. When Jose got up to talk he seemed so nervous and he just started to pray out loud. At first I thought it was kind of awkward/funny because we must not have explained well enough and the idea of sharing testimony must have been lost in translation, but as he prayed I still felt his testimony. I couldn't understand what he's saying and I didn't know what prompted him to pray, but I felt his love for God and his willingness to follow the Savior. It was humbling and a great reminder to me that the spirit speaks in many ways and most of the time with few words. Even though I can't speak Spanish very well quite yet, I know I can still work as a missionary and help people come unto Christ as long as I have the Spirit with me.

Estoy aqui porque yo amo a toda la gente de Paraguay!

Hermana Carr