Monday, February 1, 2016

Week 7 - Milagros En San Ignacio #MilagrosEnSanIgnacio

Hola Amigos!

This is the last shot of our MTC dorm room before we parted ways
I made it to my first p-day here in the mission field! The story of how long it took to get here has been posted on my Blog, I think, but i´m not sure it mentions that we flew to Posadas. After I arrived on Wednesday I was introduced a little to the Posadas Area. It`s very beautiful here. It´s much more humid, but because of that, everything is greener here than anything i´ve seen in any part of the US. Again, a few of the pictures will be up on my blog. I got my first taste of missionary work that night, as I went out with one of the APs to do some street contacting. I don´t understand a word of what´s being said, but I did manage to tell people who we are, and give them a pass along card. The AP took care of everything else.

Sam's Trainer Elder Thorpe
Thursday morning I got to meet my trainer! His name is Elder Thorpe, from Orem, Utah.

He´s been on his mission for a year and four, and the last year of it has been in Paraguay. We get along well, mostly because he´s pretty laid back, and he´s a musician. He and I are currently serving in the San Ignacio mission in the greater Encarnación area. The people here are fantastic, as are the view and the food.
Food first, So far, I´ve tried Empanadas, Bon-o-Bons, and the sausage. I don´t think I´ve had a sausage so flavorful in all my life. The empanadas were really good as well, and they´re basically shredded meat, wrapped in tortilla and deep fried. Much of the food here is cooked similarly. I´m told to expect a lot of deep fried food down here. The downside to the food is that i´m likely to gain a lot of weight down here. The plus side is that it is all so cheap. The conversion rate is approximately 6,000 Guaranias to a dollar. Our 4 empanadas cost us 9,500, and my groceries for the week ran about 100,000, or about $17. I´m given appx, 800,000 for every month, and that doesn´t include what i´m given for rent, water, or lights. So the cost of living down here is pretty cheap.
Posadas, Argentina from the Rio Parana
Encarnacion, Paraguay from the Rio Parana
View is fantastic. Its also red. The look reminds me of Southern California, but the ground reminds me of Southern Utah.

It´s absolutely beautiful down here. However it´s very hot. Not scorching Arizona hot, But a comfortable 25 cel. with almost 100% humidity everyday kind of hot. You start sweating after being outside for about 10 seconds. I have actually gotten used to it.  and it doesn´t bother me so much anymore. I just have come to expect that certain parts of my clothing are always going to feel wet.

People! Paraguay has a rather interesting culture. When I said there was a chance that I might learn Guarani and teach the natives, I didn't understand what that meant. Everybody in Paraguay is a native. Even if they aren't, they speak Guarani. In fact the most common thing is for people to learn to read in Castillano, and be able to listen to it, and possibly even speak in it, but to always speak to natives and family in Guarani. I've now had 2 appointments where the investigators spoke only in Guarani, and we needed a translator. This means that so long as I´m serving in Paraguay, I´m going to be trying to learn Guarani.

However I need to learn to understand their accent first. In Paraguay, the don´t have the Castillano J sound. They say the s sound like Utahns say T´s. ¿vamo´a la igle´ia? "are we going to the church?" Also their words blend together as if they were drunk. This makes it very difficult to understand the drunk people... haha.

Paraguay definitely does things very different. For example, you don´t ever go to people´s doors. You clap at the gate to their property, and ask for permision to enter. Usually you would need to give them a card or a pamphlet first, but in San Ignacio the people are so kind that almost everyone invites you in if you ask to greet them. We almost never have to knock at more than 1 house. They´re also very trusting people. Like people park their Motos and leave the keys in while they eat. They don´t lock cars, and almost always the gates are open. We´ve had so much success getting new investigators because of how trusting people are. Greetings go something like this: Women greet others by "kissing" them on the cheeks, and the men greet each other with a handshake, then grabbing the thumb knuckle, and then embracing. Missionaries settle for a simple handshake with the opposite gender.

As far as investigators go, I haven´t had sufficient time to get to know them. However I have gotten to know the familia Cuenca! As of right now they are the strongest family in the branch, and our branch missionaries. Adelio and his wife Julia are the grandparents, our typical go to home, and our translators into Guaraní. Oscar and Celeste Cuenca live on their own with their one child, (as to which of the many children at the Cuenca house is theirs, I have no clue). Celeste is the Relief Society president of our branch, and Oscar teaches the youth class, however he´s in line to be Branch President whenever that change happens. All of the missionaries and the current BP are in agreement on this fact. Oscar´s brother Gregorio is getting married on the 3rd of February! His novia isn´t a member, but is almost ready to be baptised. Our biggest issue with them has been keeping them from living together. Apparently they´ve had 4-5 different lessons in which they promised to live apart, and then moved back in together. However we just taught them a lesson on having faith that God´s plan for us is better than our plan for us. We think this had the disired effect. There is also a plethera of young children at the casa de Cuenca, but I think a few of them belong to one of the part-member families. Not entirely sure though.
We Tried to make frosting for the Wedding of Gregorio and Natalia, But when elder Thorpe said "Tercero vasa de leche" I heard a third cup. As in I have two, I need another... So we had to try and triple the recepie because I messed up. Now we have 4-5 Kilos of Frosting. 0.o
I just wanted to end with my testimony about this work. 1 Nephi 3:7 says that the Lord gives no commandment save he prepares a way for it to be completed. I can testifiy that it´s 105% accurate. Since I've been here I have been blessed with the gift of tongues more than I ever could have imagined. The first contact I did along the river in Posadas had my companion congratulating me on my accent. Several of our contacts said I sounded like a Brasillian, or even an Argentinian. My trainer says I speak much better than he did when he arrived, and that I can say more as well. And on top of all of this, Julia Cuenca says I´m easier to understand than Elder Thorpe! I haven´t even been here a week and I can understand enough to follow a conversation, and even the accents of 2-3 people. I don´t always know what their words mean, but I know enough to follow the conversation, and often repeat the words that were used. All of this in 3 days in my mission area.

God has prepared a way for his children to hear his words. We have had so much success in our lessons, and so many contacts, It´s hard to imagine what can happen when I understand people enough to ask the right questions, and to understand what they´re really going through. I love this work and this Gospel. Best of luck to all of you, And thank you all so much for your support.

I love you guys so much! Stay strong, and trust in God´s plan!

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