Monday, May 30, 2016

Spiritual paydays

¡Hola familia y amigos!

Another week has come and gone in a blink of an eye - it's really true when they say the days feel like weeks, but the weeks feel like seconds or however the phrase goes.

This week has been pleasantly normal and full of work for us here in Salado. We put a focus in our weekly planning to get more members to visit with us and we were able to go out with at least one, if not two members everyday this week! It was a little crazy and we had more than one occasion where Hermana Noorda and I would've put the speed-walking Olympiads to shame, but we did it and we had various members who brought or were at least assigned to bring our investigators to church. Even though it took a little more thought, phone calls and punctual planning, it was worth it and has made our job a little easier. I now have a testimony of member involvement in missionary work - it is essential! It really makes a difference when we are able to really work with the ward instead of just in the ward - it takes a little bit more effort on both sides, for members and missionaries, however in the end it's easier and brings more joy in the work. This has probably been one of the more joyful weeks of my mission, or better said one of the more fulfilling weeks.

On Friday we had a late Mother's Day activity and the youth, some of the Priesthood and even us missionaries put on skits and sang songs. We did a last minute skit with the Hermanas and Elders "swapping" roles, acting out how we thought the Elders exercised, studied, contacted and cooked and them vice versa. It was pretty funny, especially for being so spontaneous.

Saturday was a very special day. Around the beginning of May Hermana Noorda and I met three women in the street looking for water. The next day we came back, taught, invited them to be baptized and they accepted. The following visit we put a baptismal date and witnessed a miracle happen to them. A few days later they moved into the Elder's area and we, choking back the tears, passed our golden investigators into their hands. Since then we have seen Isidora and Monse at almost every church activity - including Sunday reunions - and Milagros every now and then. We've witnessed them making changes in their life and Saturday Isidora and Monse came to the waters of baptism.  They were looking when we found them, they chose to follow what we&the spirit taught and now they have entered through the door of baptism and are on the way back to the presence of our Heavenly Father. As a missionary, and friend of Isidora & family, it is a great privilege to be part of their conversion. Sometimes, as missionaries, we reward ourselves with working for good numbers, Amandau ice cream on P-day or mate dulce, but the real pay day comes when we get to see our efforts really take part in the work of the Lord.

With love sent from Paraguay,

Hermana Carr

Monday, May 23, 2016

Spiders... I hate spiders!

¡Hola familia y amigos!

This has been a great week to be 20! :D

First off, my birthday was a great day. We found a new investigator that has TONS of questions!!! (Those are my favorite kind) We also had a powerful lesson on the first vision with a menos activo that allowed the spirit to confirm to me the truth of the restored gospel. It's true and I am so grateful for it. In the evening we had Noche de Barrio and they sang me "cumpleaños feliz" and Hermana Jara (Relief society president) gave me banana bread/cake (almost as good as my mom's banana cake) and Isidora (the investigator we contacted a few weeks back) made us a pizza to take home and eat. Hermana Arrua (member and the reason for my growing panza) bought us a small cake/sweet roll as well. Needless to say, I was not hungry on my birthday.

Wednesday marked the beginning of my new snack addiction: Mate dulce. We shared with some recent converts and they offered us some and later that night we were able to successfully replicate it with sugar water instead of sugar-milk and I have been drinking it every other night since. Mate dulce is usually made with carmelized sugar mixed with warm milk drank through shredded coconut. As a snack I just use a little sugar mixed with warm water and the shredded coconut. Yum!

On Friday we had our Zone conference with interviews with President. We learned more about how to love the people, use our agendas more effectively and how to work better with the member references we receive. Member references are the best - it is a much easier transition for converts if they already know people in the church and we, as missionaries, are able to teach with their friends and/or family present to help.

Story time: On Saturday we were on our way to our last lesson passing through the dirt streets in the dark when my companion gasps and pushes me forward. Alarmed I looked back to see what happened and saw a HUGE spider crawling in the road where I had been just moments before. Ciao-cito so ran Hermana Carr. From my safe distance of half a block away I stood and watched as my ever so curious companion threw pieces of kro - a street snack we eat - and informed me it probably wasn't a tarantula because it didn't rear up on its legs. We reached our next lesson's home to find that they weren't home and my companion had lost her agenda with various phone numbers, lesson plans and other valuable information. Putting my brave pants on and calling myself Hermana Indiana Jones we went trekking back, retracing our steps (even past the sighting of the spider) looking for the agenda. After a good 30 minutes of looking in the dark we decided it was probably best to just head home and plan, just using my agenda. As we passed by a girls soccer game for the third time a contact we made two weeks ago named Rosanna called us over. She asked if we had lost something and we said yes, and then proceeded to tell us that she had found my companions agenda in the street and remembered it because it had so many pictures of Christ on it. She picked it up to give it to us later and then saw us coming back down the street.

Miracles do happen. Heavenly Father loves us so much, he is looking out for us even in the little things and is always directing everything to be for our good. (DyC 82: 8-10).

With love sent from Paraguay,

Hermana Carr

Monday, May 16, 2016

¡Feliz Dìa de las Madres!

¡Hola familia y amigos!

Even though I got to talk to my family last week, yesterday was Dìa de las Madres here in Paraguay. Even though a lot of people used it as an excuse to not come to church, we had an awesome RM in our ward bring his (non-member) mom to church before they celebrated. I can't think of a better way to honor your mother than to come closer to our Heavenly Father. I love my mom and I'm lucky that Heavenly Father sent me to her!

This week has been a week of diligence - working hard every day, coming home insanely tired at the end of every day, but feeling a unique satisfaction from our labors.

We've been working to start doing ward night more consistently and this week I taught piano for the first time! I vaguely remember trying to teach Javier the piano basics and did my best to apply that to my lesson -- I'm not sure how much information was retained, but it was fun and I think people will come again next week!

The Elders also had a baptism and asked us to make brownies. Even though they were very modified, Paraguay-version brownies it was a big hit and everyone raved over how good they were. My confidence as a pastry chef has been greatly enhanced.

On Saturday I had a blast from the past re-visiting Juan de Salazar to help with their ward "Rescate". I got to go out with a young woman named Sarita and got to visit Fatima, our old-recent convert, and a few other menos activos that we worked with during my time with Hermana Getz and Còrdova. It was SO surreal! It feels like years since I worked there - but it's really only been a few months.

This Sunday Maria was confirmed and I gave a talk on missionary work and did my best to tie it in to a tribute to mothers. If it wasn't for my mom and her example I would not be here in Paraguay sharing the gospel as a full-time missionary. Thanks Mom! <3

Funny and spiritual story of the week: Yesterday we did our Sunday study right after church. As we were leaving our apartment we saw the clouds in the distance and thought, it'll probably rain, however we did not stop to put our scriptures in the grocery bags we carry in our back-packs. The members who feed us lunch Sundays live in the middle of the Elders area and we were a little lost trying to find the right road to take when all of a sudden these HUGE deep purple clouds come over us and everything got darker. Stopping on the side of a soccer field/open area we said a little prayer/prayer in our hearts that it wouldn't start raining until we got our scriptures tucked away in bags. We took off our back packs, got our jackets out, put the scriptures and our things in the bags and, as I zipped up my back-pack, I said jokingly "Alright, bring it". Not 30 seconds later, as I started putting my arms into my rain-jacket sleeves and my companion struggled to get her umbrella open a wall of rain rolled over the trees across from the field and came pounding towards us. We yelled in surprise and pitifully tried to run a few steps before we realized the rain was coming, ready or not. Hermana Noorda struggled more fervidly to get her umbrella open as I struggled to get my jacket on and hood over my head, regretting and laughing over my poorly chosen words, "bring it".

As I pondered over us getting caught in the rain just after being able to protect our scriptures I thought about the power of prayer and how mindful our Heavenly Father is of us. In Matthew 7:7-11 it talks about how Heavenly Father will not give us a rock if we ask for bread, neither a serpent if we ask for a fish. I learned yesterday that he will hold the rain right up until we say "bring it" and, as I now know from experience, only then will it be brought. Heavenly Father loves us so much and listens to our every prayer, even the ones of the heart.

With love sent from Paraguay,

Hermana Carr

Monday, May 9, 2016

Avengers on Adventures

¡Hola familia y amigos!

So we have had another great, crazy week here in Salado.

It all started last Monday when I ran into Elder Taylor Thompson at the temple cleaning! (I accidentally just called him Taylor when I saw him.. #oops) It was cool to see him and meet his "hijo" as he is training right now.

Funny/freaky story: Later Monday night we were walking up in a part of our area called San Francisco and we walked passed (what I thought was) a rock/big leaf in the road. My comp pauses for a split second and says "I think that was a tarantula". Well, Hermana Carr was ciao-cito halfway down the road - Hermana Noorda went back and threw a rock at it. I hid behind a tree, waiting for the inevitable death of my beloved companion as the tarantula, from what Hermana Noorda said, reared up for the attack. After that she came running too.

This week we have been working very hard, putting our all into every day. Some days we were even able to do divisions with some of the members to get to more lessons. On Tuesday night I was so tired at the end of the day I asked someone "¿como se dice usted?" instead of "¿como se llama usted?". That was pretty embarrassing and I spent a good 5 minutes laughing over that one.

Thursday morning I got some good plumber-practice. Our kitchen sink doesn't directly drain outside, it first sits in a little bucket/pan thing and then, once pressurized enough, goes up and out another pipe; if we're not careful, it overflows before pressurizing. After our morning run I got back and started doing dishes when it overflowed. We ended up having to take off the lid of the bucket thing and scooping out all of the sludge build up - it smelled SO bad. WAKALA.

After going out that same morning we were blessed to help a woman learn how to pray. We contacted Estela and she welcomed us in to talk a little bit. As we finished up a little lesson we asked if she would like to pray and, after a slight attempt, she said she couldn't pray. After a little coaxing and scripture sharing we were able to walk her through a little prayer. At the end she said she felt good and that she would pray again.

Saturday we had a "Rescate" in our areas in preparation for our ward conference. I went out with Hermana Rodriguez (who is in Juan de Salazar right now!) and we had a pretty good time slipping and sliding in the mud and rain. Saturday night I caught the cold Hermana Noorda has had for a while and we made some hot kool-aid/juice packets and quoted Julian Smith - I made this for you!

On Sunday Natalia and Sedden were confirmed. Maria didn't come - we will be working with her this week to help her be confirmed. I was able to talk to my family. I love and miss them, however I am doing the best things with my time right now. Some people may ask how we as missionaries aren't trunky after Skype calls. "That's my secret - I'm always trunky".

In the parting words of a contact we made this week, "hasta la vista baby".

With love sent from Paraguay,

Hermana Carr

Monday, May 2, 2016

So much to do, so little time

Hola familia y amigos!

Ok. Time is flying and there is not time enough to do everything we do and even less time to tell you how crazy this week was and all of the miracles that passed.

To get some main events of the week down, I will go by days.

Monday: Had a normal p-day, afterwards on the way to a Noche de Hogar we met Isidora and two of her daughters, Monse and Milagros. Due to storms the electricity was out and the water was cut, so they were asking neighbors if they could fill a bucket and some water bottles they had. The daughters were a little embarrassed to ask for water so we, being no-shame, we meet everyone missionaries, asked some people for water and helped them carry the water home. We set an appointment with them for the next day. We met with Natalia, Sedden and Maria, our investigators preparing for their baptism on Sunday.

Tuesday, we helped with a birthday party for some members and it was very fun and there wasn't much cake - but we got hot chocolate. We met with Isidora and her family and found out that they have a lot of faith and told us si o si they were coming to church that next Sunday.

Wednesday, funny story: Sometimes I get really fed up with guys that just say hermosas or preciosas or rubias while we pass by. We passed an old-ish guy that said como se dice amor en ingles? and instead of ignoring him, I said No se un poco, ik spreken de Deutch. I felt bad for lying, but he didn't say anything to us after that. I think being german makes us seem more intimidating - we had a good laugh that day.

Friday we cleaned out the font again, luckily a lot less dirty than the week before, and the bishop got the drainer fixed! So we didn't have to use buckets, we just had a lot of down time in the chapel waiting for it to unload. We did weekly planning and then I got the cable for the electric piano to practice for the choir number we are helping with for Ward conference and when I went to plug the cable in I broke the piano.... I felt so bad. We told the secretario and he ended up fixing it easy, no cost. Phew.

Saturday we filled the baptismal font - no problem. It just took time, nada mas. On our way to the chapel though we ran into Isidora and her daughter looking for a new house to rent - their landlord had called and was kicking them out and they needed to find a new place pronto. We couldn't help them find a house, but we were able to give them a tour of the chapel. Natalia, Sedden and Maria - after much teaching and repassing of gospel principles - passed their baptismal interviews as well.

Sunday was a day of miracles.

First, Isidora and her daughters came of their own initiative - that NEVER happens!!! She also practically bore her testimony during gospel principles class. After church, while we were proselyting before the baptism service, I ran into the Familia Baes - the family I met in Asuncion - who were visiting some family members. Then came the baptismal service. Everything went super well. Lots of members came, we had organized it well enough where we didn't do a lot but run around and make sure everyone had their assignment. Natalia, Sedden and Maria were baptized and clean from their sins, and their mom - who works all throughout the week, including Sundays - was able to come.

Maria suffers from epilepsy and didn't have an epileptic attack until after she was baptized and in the bathroom, out of sight of the members - she just fainted on me. She said if she had to have an attack she wanted it to be after she was baptized. Elder Silva, the Elder that baptized her, knew what to do and she recovered really quickly and was able to hear the talks afterwards without anyone knowing what had happened.

After the baptism we saw that we had three missed calls from Isidora and so we booked it to their house. They told us they lacked 100mil, not much, but enough to cause them to worry and they had to come up with it by Monday, today, to cover the deposit on their rent. They told us their dad just had to come home because he had the money, but they didn't know where he was. As we promised them that they would receive blessings from coming to church and following the commandments, their dad walked in. At the end Isidora said a prayer that brought us to tears. It was a day full of miracles.

It's been a cold week, de hecho, but we've been going well with our gloves and jackets.

I gotta go, I'll send pics next week!

With love sent from Paraguay,

Hermana Carr