26 April, 2011

Semana Santa

Well the tradition in Paraguay for Easter is a little bit different than in the US. They celebrate it in a week called "Semana Santa," it's a catholic tradition so unfortunately it is what they all celebrate here in all parts. They pretty much just eat the food they call Chipa. It in the shape of a donut, but is just the flour from mandioca, with Paraguayan cheese. It is actually pretty good, but they’re a little too obsessed with it here. On Tuesday after our district meeting, my companion started feeling sick. We stayed in the house pretty much the entire week. Unfortunately our phone stopped working at the same time, and so we were completely out of contact with everyone. We were in the house Tuesday until Saturday. 5 days of staying inside. It was kind of a frustrating experience, but if my companion isn’t feeling good enough to go outside, I can’t really tell him that we need to go out and work. Needless to say, I got a good amount of studying done. I read the entire April ensign that had arrived that Tuesday. I also am about to finish the new testament…. I’m in Revelations…. And I started the Book of Mormon again, and I’m in 2nd Nephi 20 or so. I also reviewed two chapters in Preach My Gospel. So pretty much it was good to study, but I didn’t have the attention span to be studying the whole time, so I also felt like we just wasted a lot of time. This week was the least lessons that I have taught in the mission, 10 lessons in the whole week… not so great. Well about the lessons that we did teach this week… We were teaching two younger guys that are members of the seventh day Adventists. We had some pretty good lessons with them on last Sunday and on Tuesday as well. On Tuesday we got to their house, and they said that they had read and prayed, and that they didn’t feel anything. We explained the importance of praying with faith, and that we have to have a sincere heart. My companion invited them to do a prayer on their knees, and they accepted. I felt kind of awkward, and was kind of wondering why my companion was doing that since they had already prayed. I was feeling anxious when we started to pray. Then when they prayed, I just felt a feeling of peace come over me, and the thought popped into my head: “¿porqúe no confias en mi?” (why don’t you trust in me?) It was something that kind of surprised me, and I was thinking about it a lot afterwards. I had not put my trust in the promise of the Book of Mormon that anybody can receive a testimony of the book. I had a lack of confidence, and it had been replaced with anxiousness and fear. It really helped me to realize that I have to trust more in the lord. That I have to have a better confidence in the Book of Mormon, if I want others to come to know that it is true. Yesterday we passed again, and they had their brother come out to “listen” as well. They just wanted to argue with us and try to prove us wrong, and of course with both of us having good time in the mission, and both knowing the Bible pretty well just retorted their scriptures with other scriptures in the Bible. We weren’t getting anywhere more than just defending against what they were saying with the scriptures, and so we both started just sharing our testimony, the only thing that they can’t argue with. They still didn’t want to understand, and just couldn’t understand the fact that they can only know if they ask God. I felt such a strong desire to help them understand what we understand of the gospel, but the hardened their hearts and didn’t want to listen to what the spirit wanted. Well changes are coming up again in a week and a half or so. Meaning that I will not be writing again until Thursday. I’m not sure on the whole calling yet, but I’ll let you know when we find out. Love you guys tons, and hope that you have a fantastic week. I’ll talk to you later. Love, Elder Griffin

19 April, 2011

My First baptism

Well, this has been a good week here in Acahay. We had the baptism of Mirta, and it was the first time I have performed a baptism. It was pretty cool to be able to have my first time baptizing in a little river here. She was baptized and confirmed this week. She is the one that doesn’t talk, or hear, or read. I’m sure you can imagine how hard it was to try and teach her and interview her. Anyway, she left her boyfriend, and drinking so that she could be baptized, and has been coming to church every Sunday. It is amazing to see the faith of somebody like that. She can’t hear anything, but most important is that she can feel the spirit. It really was uplifting to me to learn that sometimes we don’t have to hear to be able to feel the spirit, and be edified as a person. Also this week, we had our priesthood and relief society class for the first time in this ward. We had to new people ordained to the priesthood. One being José that we recently baptized, and the other was a young man that is 16 years old. We now have 4 others in the priesthood, so it is really awesome seeing the improvement in the branch here were we are serving. On Monday my companion and I got our hair cut. It was a one dollar haircut (5 mil guarani), and quite possibly one of the worst haircuts I’ve had. Although, I think my companion got even worse. Luckily my hair doesn’t look all the bad when I put gel in it, but his is like a bowl cut. I got a package from Dana and Court. Tell them thanks for me! I’ll try to write them a letter, but it will take a couple weeks, so if you can tell them thanks for me it would be faster. On Sunday, we had a really good day. We found 8 new investigators, and taught 10 lessons. We found a lot of people that were really prepared by the lord, and we are really excited to be able to keep teaching them more, and see their progress in the gospel. I sent you some pictures of them, but as you can see, we found a lot of spider in this week. One night when we were opening up the door, I found that tarantula that you can see on the ground. The other tarantula was in our house, my companion threw some poison on it, but it ran behind a thing in our house that we can’t move, so we’re not sure if it actually died. Our house has a lot of little holes that bugs can come into, so we have a lot of crickets. Just about every night one of us wakes up and has to go cricket hunting so that we can actually sleep. Oh and don't worry, it's not our pet monkey. I am now feeling a lot better with my health. It’s really nice to get better from a sickness and all the sudden feel like I have a ton more energy. It makes it a lot easier to work the whole day, and not get so tired. Well, I love you guys tons. Thanks for all your support and advice, and love. I hope everything goes well with you guys, and that you always have the protection from the lord. My prayers are always with you. Love, Elder Griffin

12 April, 2011

Weeding Paraguayan style

Hola familia, Well this has been an interesting week here in Acahay. Well on Tuesday, my birthday, our cell phone stopped working in our district meeting. We had divisions, and the district leader came to our area with me. On the way to our area in the bus, an American started talking to me. It is a guy named Cameron, who is from Las Angeles. He is in the Peace Corps, and has been here for 6 months. He also is a member of the church, but hasn’t been able to attend church very well. He lives in our area, but about 2 or 3 hours from the chapel. Later, we had the interview of José and it went well. We had to make some calls, so we had to go to a cabin to make some calls and figure out everything with the matrimony on Friday. Later we finally got all that figured out and I went back with my companion. On Thursday, the day before the marriage, we went and did service with José. We went and weeded…. Paraguayan style. We used machetes to cut down the weeds and stuff, it was pretty tough in the heat, but pretty fun. After that we figured out that they had to renew their stuff to get married, so we went to make a call and then returned. When we returned, Liliana, the member was crying. She tried to tell us what happened, but we couldn’t understand her. We took José aside and found out that he had been cutting more, and was tired, so he laid down in some shade. Then she came to look for him, and thought that he was waiting for someone. Anyway, they got in a big argument, and neither one wanted to get married. We talked to José, and had him do a prayer to see if he felt like he needed to get married. He did the prayer, and said that he felt like he did. We then talked to Liliana, and did the same, and she said the same. We then talked to the both of them, and we had them do a “companionship inventory” like what we do here in the mission. It worked really well, and they decided that they would get married. On Friday, at 12 we had the marriage, and then on Saturday José was baptized in the little river in our area. It was quite the stressful baptism, but it went all well in the end. On Sunday, he was confirmed a member of the church. Also on Sunday, I got fevered, and when we went to our house to eat afterwards, I collapsed on the bed and fell asleep. I felt bad the whole day, so we couldn’t go out and work or anything the whole day. After sleeping so much, I feel a ton better now.

05 April, 2011

Are there any good men in Paraguay?

Well this has been a good week, a little interesting, but pretty good. To explain to you about the meat.... well pretty much all the good meat in paraguay, they export, and then sell the crap for a higher price. So in other words, there is no possible way to get really good meat here in Paraguay, and since my area is in the middle of nowhere, it is even worse. First off, we got a real map of our whole area, instead of just the city of Acahay. It is about 90 kilometers from side to side, in other words we have to take a bus just to get to another part of our area. The area is doing well, we have found a lot of future elders, and familes that we are now teaching. On Wednesday night, we got a call from our district leader telling us that we had interviews in Asunción the next morning at 8. We live a little bit outside of Asunción, so we had to wake up at 3 in the morning, get ready and take the first bus at 4. We got to the office at 8, and had our interviews. The president talked to me about my old companion, and understood everything that had happened there. It was a really good interview, and he helped me a lot with what he said to me about opening our area and everything. We have a lot of work to do with making it so that the ward actually has some families and preisthood holders instead of just women and children. Then on Saturday we went to a city called Paraguarí for the conference. I watched the first two in English and then the last 3 in Spanish. I learned a ton from all the talks. There seemed to be a couple themes that they focused on a little bit more. I feel like I got everything out of it that I was needing. I saw that it had snowed when they showed outside the conference center. On Saturday we went to pull out our money, usually 750.000, and could only pull out 700.000 because apparently the dollar dropped a bunch. The last time I looked it was 4200 guarani to a dollar, when I got here it was 5000 to a dollar. How is the economy over there? It seems like Barack Obama is doing quite well as president.... We had one investigator that came on Sunday to the conference. It was José, the one that is going to be married this Friday, and then baptized Saturday. If they both stay fatihful in the church, I'll be able to enter into the temple with them in a year or so. We have one member in our ward that has 5 children.... all from different fathers. A couple days ago we passed by her house the day after her now x-boyfriend abused her. He had punched her and beat up on her pretty badly, and almost killed her. We were guided there the next day, and talked with her for a while while she told us all the happened. I felt impressed to turn to Doctine and Covenants 121 and explained to her that sometimes we ask god: where art thou? that sometimes we feel alone and lost like Joseph Smith did. She said that she had asked that same exact question the night before, and so I asked her can you read your response from god then? I gave her the book, and slowly and sobbingly she read the two verses that I firmly believe in that time were a direct response to her prayers. We talked a little bit more with her, and helped her feel a lot better, and have more hope. She went to the conference, and seemed to be doing a lot better. After conference, a man stopped us and started talking to us about her. I asked him his name, and it was the same man (if you can call him that) that had beat on the sister. It was hard trying to talk to someone like that when I knew what he had done some nights before. It's really just a sad situation here, the women here in Paraguay just have such a hard time actually finding a decent man that doesn't have problems. Well, anyway, I'm doing well. I'm learning a lot more guarani now, I will probably be able to speak it by the end of my mission. We are having good success in our area, and everything is going well. We fixed our oven, and bought some things to be able to use the microwave. We are eating a lot better than we did the first week here. Well i hope everything is going well with you all. I love you tons. I'll talk to you next week! -Elder Ryan Griffin