So, I am about to start my last week in the mission. I can't believe it. I am filled with mixed emotions, sleeping this week will be tough. Nahhhhhh sleeping hs never been tough for me ha But I am excited to go home and see the family! Today we are going to travel to another city, and do a little shopping, andtonight I head out to Asuncion to visit the temple for the lst time tomorrow! I can't believe it, I really can't. Like I can't even remember what it was like to not be a missionary.
This week will be filled with a lot of lasts. I plan on enjoying it, and doing everything in my power to keep helping the people. We had 5 investigators attend church on Sunday, one of them being a couple that we found just this last week contacting! They are super awesome, and I hope to hear about their baptism here in a few weeks.
Well, that's about it. Thanks for reading my emails. If anybody actually reads them. haha
So after a week of rest, boy was I ready to leave the apartment Friday morning to start working again ha It's hard getting all the energy and flow back after being out for a whole week with the flu, but we've been giving it our all! The investigators that are progressing the most right now is Luis and Sandra, the brother of the branch president and his wife. They recently moved in with him, and live with their 4 kids. I had actually known and taught the Brother (Luis) a year and a half ago on exchanges I did with other elders, which is quite the coincidence! But anyways, we have seen the most amazing change in him and his family. Before, they lived in Sandra's house (Of her family), but once her family heard that she was planning on getting baptized, kicked her out her family out of her house, and stopped communicating with her. She took it very hard... as anyone would! But has found a strength and peace that comes from living the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is just one of the may miracels I witness daily being a full time missionary in the coolest country ever ha
And yesterday was my birthdayyyy!! WOOHOOO I passed it very well. A few families invited us over for lunch and dinner with cake to top things off! A few converts from one of my earlier areas came and brought me a delicious cake, and a Sister, also from another ward, hunted me down and surprised me with Empanadas (Yum!) and a white tie made from Ao Poi, a style of Paraguayan art. It's super sweet, and I am super grateful to be a part of this work, this people love the missionaries so much, and I love them right back :) Ahhh man, all the little things just start making me all emotional, knowing that I will soon be leaving all of this behind... But that love and gratitude that the poeple here have shown me is something I will never forget. Next Monday, I take my final trip to the temple with all the other elders and sisters that I am going home with, and the following Tuesday I have my last interview with me Mission president. I honestly don't know how to feel or think about all of this. a few months ago I longed to be where I am now, but now that I'm here, wrapping things up, I long to be where I was 3 months ago! But, I guess I just will have to enjoy it while it lasts :)
This week has been so boring... So it started off just fine, I went on divisiones to a city SUPER far away. Everybody there is very poor, and everybody had the flu... They don't even have a hospital in their city to make things worse ha.Needless to say, by the time I returned to my area in Ita, I was down with the flu... And I have spent the past 4 days in the house. I am now feeling 90 percent, a lot better! But my comp last night got hit super hard... and had a fever of 103. So we rushed to the hospital and he also has the flu. Dang. So 5 more days in the apartment! Doing... who knows what ha This is like the worst time this could happen too... So close to me going home, I can't believe it ha OH WELL It has given me lots of time to study the scriptures so I guess that's cool.
What a whirlwind this last week was... But that's jsut how it is when you've got to organize 2 baptisms, baptismal interviews, have a Zone Training and are doing a bunch of excercizes because you are 23 months in the mission and realize that you are still a little on the shrimpy side ha (Skinny guy probs) Pero bueno..
So it's 5 o clock, 2 hours before the baptism, and we are feeling good. We've got our suit coats on, and head out the door with the Brownies and Lemon Bars that we've made for the after baptism refreshment. We get to the church, open the door to the Baptismal Font that we spent all day filling and..... The water is YELLOW!! We turned into a panic, and started bailing out the water by hand, knowing that the pump takes a solid hour and a half to take the water out. An hour later, it was empty, and we were tired (and not to mention sweaty). The font just barely filled up in time for the baptism, but it was quite the close call! haha (And my back and legs still kill btw)
The kid who got baptized (Tobias, age 15) I found out this week that he is the son of a guy who got baptized when I was here a year and a half ago. The dad was a reference that we got from his friend (Member) in a lunch we had with him... a year and a half ago later, and him, his wife, and now his son are members of the church. They are planning on getting sealed this october! I can hardly believe the progress the Hermano Gamarra has made
Well, to celebrate the 4th today, we have taken the decision to make Hot Dogs and drink Coca Cola. I'm pretty stoked to say the least
Love you guys, light some fireworks off for me! Just know that fireworks here don't cost an arm and a leg... It's about 25 cents for a pack of 20 firecrackers
So this week has been too insane... I can't believe I really am back where I started it all! Ita is a beautiful city, and I am so glad that the Lord has called me back here. I have seen an amazing growth here in the branch since I left it more than a year and a half ago. Not necesarily in numbers, but more so in the maturity of the leaders, and quality of the meetings. They have gotten so much better! I had my first Branch Cousel Meeting in like 5 months, and the classes where way fun. We got to the Aaronic priesthood class this Sunday, and it was so great. They are the life of the branch here. There are 3 missionaries that have left since I was first here, and many more are preparing everything to leave on the mission within the next year (5 or 6 more) which is incredible. It has been so much fun visiting all the members here... the majority surprisingly still remember me!! ha Which is funny, because when I was first here, I hardly spoke spanish... and now as I finish my mission, I could converse with everyone in Guarani! ha
This week, we will be having 2 baptisms, one called Ñaisendy (Light of the moon), and Tobias, 2 youth who ware super prepared and excited to get baptised. In both cases, their parents are recent converts, so it will be great having them there to help them keep attending church for after they get baptized
Soooo my comp is Columbian, from Bogota! He is such a stud, but has a very different personality. It's like a dry sarcastic humor, it's hilarious! Him and a few other members pulled a prank on me when I got to the area on Tuesday. We went to go visit a new convert, and when we got there, and entered her house, she was sitting down on the table fake crying holding a needle and a bottle of liquid! I was so shocked!! My comp started getting mad at her for relapsing, and starting to use drugs again, and I was suuuuuper confused. My comp looked at me, like telling me to share something with her to help her, but nothing came to mind! I just stood there stuttering haha I gave the cheesiest testimony that God loves her, and that she is his daughter, when they all started laughing at me, and that's when I caught on that it was all a joke! How awful is that, right?? hahaha
So that's pretty much it. Our zone is here honestly struggling for the moment, we hope to go visit a few areas this week to help out some of the branches that are having difficulties. I lvoe being a missionary, it's been too much fun :)
So teaching a blind guy in guarani was a lot more dificult than we thought it would be! But it's all good, we just pretty much have been resorting to having a few members come and help us out with the visits. Sadly Steven coudln't make it to church yesterday.. hardly anybody could! It was extremely cold yesterday morning, and nobody has hot water showers... or really showers! They just resort to a bucket of faucet water and a bar of soap! Burrrr!
Other than that, we had a unique experience to document the 'Chipa' making process, which I will now explain. So Chipa is a paraguayan cheasebread made with the following ingredientes: Eggs. Fat, (Usually pig fat). Parguayan cheese (Doesn't taste good at all... unless cooked), salt, and Mandioca flour, mixed with water. It's a very famous paraguayan food, it can be bought by multiple street venders that sell it on the busses, in street markets, and even with door to door motorycycle service. It costs about 5,000 guarani's (a little less then a dollar) for a big piece. We have a few recent converts and investigators that are featured below in the pictures that are Chipa sellsman. They make about on average 30 bucks a day (Minimum wage is about 12 USD $ a day) , which is extremely good for Paraguayan standards, and are self employed. The best is that they always share their fresh out of the 'Tatakua' (translation Tata - fire, kua - hole) or paraguayn brick oven (as shown below). It is not the most hygenic process, due to the fact of mixing and roling the dough with your bare hands, but I feel as if the extremely hot 'Tatakua' should burn off all dangerous diseases.
Well, the work continues here in Caacupe. It's been such a joy working with these wonderful people. They aren't perfect, but I guess I'm not either so we get along just fine. I also was able to dish out a lot of trash due to the U.S. beating Paraguay in soccer for the Copa Americana, so that's been qutie nice :) haha