26 August, 2010

First meal in Paraguay is Chinese

Well the past couple of days have been quite interesting for sure. We only get a p-day this Thursday because we are new, but they are usually on Mondays. We have been told however, that we are not supposed to chat with our parents during our time to email, but rather just send emails saying how things are going. The first day here, we met the mission president and his wife in the airport. We then took some pictures in front of the airport, and then loaded our stuff up and left. When we were in the Argentina airport, we were joined by 4 missionaries going to the same mission who were natives in the Argentina MTC. Anyway, we drove to the mission home, and on the way, every single street had people selling stuff, or trying to wash windows... all sorts of things to try and get money. There are a couple of paved roads, but most of them are cobble stones, and way bumpy. We got to the mission home, where we went to the bathroom, got some drinks, and then went to the temple. It’s right near a really busy street, and is a lot smaller than it looks, but it is beautiful nonetheless. We took some pictures there, and stayed for a little while, not on the inside unfortunately. We then went out to eat... at a Chinese restaurant.... kind of an unexpected thing there. The food was really good, it was Chinese with a Paraguayan twist to it.

After that, we went back to the mission home to get the rundown of everything in our mission. Our schedule is 30 minutes different than most peoples´ because we wake up at 6, and go to bed at 10. We also aren’t allowed to wear rings in our mission because they are a distraction to the people, so i had to take that off. We receive $750000 a month.... too bad guarani´s aren’t worth as much as an American dollar. 5000 guarani is about a dollar, so we get about the equivalent of 140 US dollars every month here.

During that we had our interviews with the mission president. He and his wife are both really cool. they are in charge of 195 missionaries, and 95 companionships. There was a total of 18 new missionaries who came in with us.

After we were finished with interviews, we got some Paraguayan style hamburgers.... which is actually a burrito, except they don’t have burritos down here. They were pretty good, the meat definitely isn’t the best of the meats that they use down here. After we were done with all that, we went to the mission president’s house, and had a testimony meeting, and got to eat some carrot cake. President Callan gave all of us a paperback book of Mormon that he told us to read, and mark every scripture that talks about Jesus.

After we were done there, we were driven to a hotel that we stayed the night at. They have the weird toilet things that you can wash yourself after you are done going to the bathroom, which i also have in my apartment... I still have yet to use one though. When we woke up in the morning, we ate breakfast there, which was orange juice, yogurt, and a sandwich. The orange juice was amazing, as was the yogurt, although here it is really watery. The sandwich was good, but a little dry because it had no sauces on it. After that we drove back to the mission home to meet our companions. We went into the chapel in the church right by the mission home, and one by one he read off who we were going to be with. My companion is Elder Escarate, from Chile. He speaks some English, but not too much. He has been an excellent trainer, and is way nice.

After that we got dropped off with our companions at the bus station, and got taken three hours out of the city of Asuncion into coronel oviedo which is right in the center of Paraguay. I had time to unpack most of my stuff, and then we went out tracting for a little while. My comp is the district leader, so he had to go and do some interviews. We went over to the house of the Zone leaders who are also in our district. They are also both native, and so I’ve been completely surrounded by Spanish for 24 hours. It sometimes gives me a headache trying to interpret everything, but i feel like it is coming pretty well still. We went by the chapel that is in there area, and there were two guys sitting outside, we talked to them, and they were there to repair the baptismal font. We talked to them for a little while about the church and other stuff which was a real good experience. After all that we went back, and went to sleep in the zone leaders apartment. We woke up this morning, did personal study, companion study, and language study. Then we went to the church to play some soccer with the district. Then we went back, and now we’re here on the computers.

Well that’s about all that has happened since I got here, it’s been nice and exciting, sometimes a little overwhelming. My companion has been here for 22 months, so he will be leaving after this next transfer.

19 August, 2010

Everything has to fit in 2 bags

We went to the travel office on Tuesday, and found out all the Elders going to Paraguay have our visas, so we are good to go there. We also found out that our carry-on can only be 11 pounds instead of the usual 40, and my bag already weighs 40 pounds, so pretty much i can only take the bag completely empty. The other two bags have to be under 50 pounds each still. Also we have a personal item, but it has to be small enough to fit underneath the chair...

We had a devotional and Walter F. Gonzales and his wife came to speak with us. It was really good, and they talked about how they got converted, and how missionaries need to teach the people rather than teaching the lessons.

Well we have American Airlines at first, which has 40 pounds, but then when we fly from Buenos Aires to Asuncion, that plane has the restriction of only 11 pounds. I'm not sure yet, but I’m definitely going to have to be sending some stuff home, because there is no way I’m going to fit everything only in those two bags....

17 August, 2010

Travel plans and following the Spirit

Well I got my travel plans on Friday. We get to travel 31 hours in total. We leave next Monday August 23, and we leave to the travel office at 4 in the morning. Our first flight is out of Salt Lake at 7:20, and arrive in Chicago at 11:10. Then we have a 3 hour layover until 2:05 there. We leave there then, and fly into Miami at 6:20 pm, and have a 2 hour layover, until 8:30 when we fly out of there. After that we fly into Buenos Aires, Argentina at 6:15 the next morning. Once again we have a 3 hour layover, until 9:40, and then we finally fly into Asuncion Paraguay at 10:20 am on August 24. We have 14 people who are all going to on the same fights and are in our mission. I think during the layovers, I can call you, but I’m not really sure how it works, so be ready during those times for a call, and I’m assuming you want me to call dad's cell phone?

So this week we had a fire side, and a bunch of musicians came to speak. All three of the guys had written one of the hymns in the current hymn book. The first one was Stephen Jones, who wrote hymn 128. The second one was Thomas Durham who wrote hymn 171, which is with humble hearts. The last guy wrote hymn number 220, which is Lord I would follow thee. It was really cool to be able to hear them speak about the hymns, and what the hymn that they wrote means to them.

Also this week, we had an investigator for our last TRC that was from Peru. He spoke really fast Spanish, but I understood most of it. I talked to him and his wife after for a little while in Spanish. They said they have lived here for 1 year now, and that they used to live in Lima Peru. I told them my brother went there, and they thought that was pretty cool.

One other thing that happened this week was a spiritual experience. I had a couple promptings during the week that i needed to ask one of my companions if he needed a blessing. I thought it was kind of weird so I put it off until this Sunday. I could tell he was struggling a little bit, so I decided to interview both of my companions, starting with Elder B. We had a good interview, and then I went and got Elder N. I asked him if he needed anything from me this week, which he said just help with Spanish. After that I told him that I had a prompting that I needed to ask if he needed a blessing, to which he said he had been wondering who to ask for a blessing, and that he did need one. He then told me that he has been struggling because he doesn't feel like he has had a spiritual witness of the Book of Mormon, and that he doesn't know if he is feeling the spirit, and then said he doesn't even know if he should be on a mission right now. I'm not sure exactly what I said to him, but i know that the Spirit directed what I said to what Elder N. needed to hear. I told him that the Lord called him out here on his mission right now, and that it is not a mistake. I also told him that he will receive an answer that he needs. Anyway, it was just really cool to be able to work through the spirit to help someone else.

Also this week I am doing a complete English Fast. I started it out yesterday, and started with a real fast to begin. One other Elder in our District is doing it with me, Elder Van Mondfrans. Anyway, I feel like doing this will help me learn the Spanish that i need to know before I leave the MTC to be able to teach the people to the best of my ability.

Lesson on the Atonement

Well everything is still going well in the MTC, we got to host the new Elders that were coming in yesterday which was really fun to be able to take them around to their dorms and stuff. While I was helping one of the elders, we were in his apartment, and just randomly the cover over the light fell off....

We did an activity with my teacher who left last week on his last day he was here. He gave us all a bunch of snickers, and then after we had eaten them, he told us that each of them had a price on them.... someone that he had chosen already had to do 10 pushups for each of the wrappers that we had. We all had to one by one go up to the Elder, and give him our wrappers and ask him to do pushups for us. It was really hard to watch him have to struggle through all of them, and I wanted to just do the pushups myself. This is just like the atonement in so many ways. We can't take back the things that we have done wrong in this life, and Christ had to suffer for all of the sins and mistakes we have committed. It really made me think a lot about the savior and the love that he has for each and everyone of us, to be willing to suffer for each of us. It really made me want to do all I can on my mission to do the best i can, and try to show the gratitude that i have for what the savior has done for me. We had a testimony meeting after, and all of us got up and shared our feelings. It was probably one of the most spiritual experiences i have had here in the MTC.

We started this new game with our class, where one person is supposed to be a native, and they aren't supposed to speak any Spanish during the day, and everyone is supposed to guess who they think the native is. It has been good, because everyone is trying to speak Spanish more.

We should get our travel plans sometime this week. We are hoping that none of us have problems that are going down to Paraguay, but none of us have heard whether or not we have our visas or not.

Is there any way that you guys can send me the address that I will have down in Paraguay? I believe it is in the mission papers somewhere, and I would like to have it before I go down there, so that I can tell people what my address is going to be when i am down there.

Sometimes I get stuck on a conjugation, but that all just comes with practice. We had one of our teachers leave this week, and before he left, he interviewed me and challenged me to speak only Spanish for the entire last week here, and I told him that I would.... so that will definitely be hard, but I think it will help me be more prepared to go out in the field

No, there usually isn't, but our teacher is getting married, and the other one has a sister getting married, and the one that left before had a sister getting married..... I think the summer is just a popular time to get married. We haven't had any general authorities for a while, including the 70, they are all on vacation, so all we get is the MTC people pretty much, and every once in a while a emeritus 70

05 August, 2010

Keeping a good attitude helps in life

Well nothing new has really happened since Tuesday..... it's been raining here for the past 2 days, which makes it seem dark all day. I became senior companion on Wednesday, since we had to rotate it with three of us. In class we finally learned the past subjunctive, so now we have learned everything there is to know in spanish, now it's just a matter of being able to use it in sentences and speaking with it. It definitely takes a lot of work, but I can tell that the gift of tongues is definitely taking effect on some of us. The people in the class that say they can't learn Spanish, or constantly complain about it have a much harder time learning it than those of us who try to keep a positive attitude about it. That's how almost everything is in life though, if you have a good attitude, and believe that something can be done, and work hard at accomplishing that thing, then more often than not, you will be able to complete it. This week in the TRC we have to teach the Plan of Salvation for the first time in Spanish. The investigator also has a problem with la Palabra de Sabuduria, so we get to try and incorporate both of those in the lesson. For the task we are giving directions of how to get to the church, which for the most part is pretty easy.

I still don't know if I’ve gotten my visa yet or not, but our departure date is supposed to be the 24 of August, so I’m hoping that it gets here before that time. Mexico and Argentina have some major problems with getting visas; some people have had their visas denied for going to Mexico. I can't believe how fast the time is already going by. It seems like just yesterday that i got dropped off here at the MTC, and now next thing i know i only have 3 weeks left of being here. (hopefully)

Well other than that nothing new has really happened since the last time that I emailed you, so unless you email back, Adios until Tuesday.

03 August, 2010

A body of flesh and eggs?

This week has been good, we have learned everything there is to know about Spanish except for past subjunctive as of right now. We are supposed to be learning that pretty soon i believe. We had our TRC appointment yesterday, and we got this lady who is from Honduras. She doesn't speak any English, and has a really thick accent, so it was kind of hard to understand her at first, but it got easier throughout the lesson. We taught to her needs really well, and covered the main points of the lesson really well. I was the only one of us that could really understand what she was saying, so I usually got to be the one that answered her questions, but overall the lesson went really well. We get to teach the Plan of Salvation this week, which should be fun. There are always some funny things that people say when they accidentally replace words in Spanish. Two Elders were teaching our companionship, and they were teaching the Plan of Salvation in Spanish. One of the elders meant to say we have a body of flesh and bones, which is: Tenemos un cuerpo de carne y huesos. He, however, said huevos instead of huesos, which changes the meaning to we have a body of flesh and eggs.... also during our lesson one of my companions, Elder Beckett, tried to say that he knows that Jesus Christ is his brother, which would be Jesucristo es mi hermano, but instead said Jesucristo es mi hombre.... meaning Jesus Christ is my man. Anyway, it's kind of funny when people say the wrong word, just because it makes the sentence sound really weird, but you can usually tell what they were meaning to say, so it's not a big deal.

We get to go to the temple again today, which will be really nice. It's amazing how much better the week goes when you get to go to the temple. We have about three weeks left as of today, which is crazy. We'll be getting our flight plans this next week, and then as long as we get our visas we'll head out. None of the Elders going to Paraguay have been told if we got our visas yet. None of us know if we do yet or not, so hopefully we have them, and they just haven't told us that they are here yet.

My companions and I have started a new game that we have been doing this week. We bet on how many letters we will get as a companionship, and how ever many we are off, we have to do 25 push ups for each letter off. One of the days I was 8 off, and so i ended up having to do 200 push ups that night.... it was nice and tiring for sure.

I caught a cold this last week for a little while. I pretty much only had it for a day, and then it went away, but the day that i had it, I was tired all day, and started getting a headache and stuff. Needless to say, i ended up going to bed at about 9:45 that night, and when i woke up i felt a ton better. I pretty much only felt really sick after I had played soccer.... yeah I know it's probably not the greatest idea to play soccer when I'm sick, but I did anyway.

I got a letter from Jessica Hanzel yesterday, and it had this bracelet from Paraguay in it. Apparently there was a dance festival thing in Springville this week, and people from a bunch of different countries came to it. Somehow, Paraguay was one of the countries that was in it, and i guess they did a dance with bottles on their heads and stuff, and she said it was really cool. They also were selling stuff from each of the countries after, which is where the bracelet thing came from.... too bad we can't wear bracelets here.... I will probably just use it as a bookmark or something like that.

Well my time is pretty much up, so I will talk to you again on Thursday. Love you all tons!

Elder Ryan Griffin