Monday, December 28, 2009

Happy New Year!

Querida familia,
Hello hello! IT was so much fun to talk to you all this week! I had all your voices stuck in my head and can still hear them a little. How fun that was for me. Since we spoke on Friday, not a ton has happened. We found some really great new people to teach and are trying to help them progress. I was really excited about an investigator that we found. He is the friend of a member and was excited to come to church Sunday, but didn’t show up. We were going to have a family home evening with them last night too but he didn’t make it there either. He is awesome though and I hope he will be able to progress and change his life. We’ll have to see. Our church meeting yesterday was great. Hermano Roig from the temple presidency spoke to us and it was so great. I learned a lot. He told us of a cool experience that he had the other day. He was in the temple at the front desk when a man suddenly walked in. He had been walking around the temple grounds and had felt the Spirit so strongly so he walked in. He told Hno. Roig that he wanted to go in and walk around. Hno. Roig asked for his recommend. He didn’t know what that was, so Hno. Roig took him into the waiting room and explained to
him what we do in the temple and why there is such a strong Spirit there, that it really is God´s house. The man loved what he heard and Hno. Roig sent the missionaries to his house. I don’t know what happened after, since it was only a few days ago, but I do know
how lucky we are to be able to enter the temple. It is such an incredible service that we do for those who have died.
There’s a quote from President Hinckley that talks about how temple work is the work on earth most similar to the Atonement because we are doing for someone else what they cannot possibly do for themselves for their salvation. We don’t receive recompense; we only do so for love. I hope that as we all make our New Years goals, we will put temple attendance on the very top of the list. Help those that haven’t entered the temple, to make worthiness to enter the temple their goal, whatever it takes. I hope that we can all love God enough to love His children and desire their salvation too. We could even make it a family goal to go once a week or twice month or something. There is nothing more worthwhile. The only problem is that I won’t be able to participate until February, but I would go if I could. I hope you’ll take the challenge.

Speaking of challenges, I am so excited for this New Year. Today, being P-day I’m going to make my goals for 2010. First though, I’m going to review the things I’ve done this year in 2009. I don’t remember making goals this past New Year and if I did, I didn’t write them down...unfortunately. 2009 has been a great year though and I have learned A TON! Some of the landmark events though were going to the temple, and serving as missionary. Can you believe that I have lived in Paraguay for almost 5 months! Wow, what a cool year for me. I hope that you will all do the same before this Friday. That we will review and write down in our journals the things that we accomplished this past year, the things that were memorable, the attributes we developed, the successes and failures, and then make new goals for what we want in the year 2010 and how we are going to achieve them. I hope we will be able to figure out our weaknesses and write down specific goals to help us to improve. I love what the Lord says to Moroni in Ether 12:27. "And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them." Family, have a happy new year and keep being so great! I miss you, love you, and pray for you always. Please tell all my friends, family, and ward members how much I love and appreciate them! Love love love,

Rae

Monday, December 21, 2009

Miracles in Paraguay

I love you all so much! Thank you so much for your prayers for the couple we were teaching. I’m glad to report that they were married, baptized, and confirmed this weekend!!!! We were so happy that Heavenly Father answered our fasting and prayers! The story was really a miracle. I will tell you about it on Friday. It
was a BATTLE though. Like a spiritual Helms Deep of sorts.
Yesterday I spoke in Sacrament meeting ("Our gift for Jesus Christ") and thankfully it turned out pretty well. I hope we can all remember that its Jesus birthday this Christmas, not ours, and we will be able to give Him our time, love, and sacrifice this Christmas season and upcoming year. I hope that you will all write down and pray for specific goals that you want to accomplish this upcoming year. I can’t believe it’s almost 2010! Wow! And how excited are we all to use the new Principles of the Gospel manual this year. We got our copies yesterday and it is beautiful.
Mom, thank you for all the news! I LOVE Hearing how all the people in the ward are doing. Thank you for the virtual hugs from friends!
Well, I gotta go. For a Christmas activity pday we’re going to eat as a zone, singing at a hospital, and going to play futbol (que aburrido). Boys are so not creative. Talk to you FRIDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Cariosamente,
Tu Hija, Rachel

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Feliz Navidad!

"Feliz Navidad, prospero año y felicidad."My companion and I were singing that song together and it was way funny because I didn’t know what the Spanish part said before and had always just made up my own. Same with my companion and the English part. We had a good laugh. Well, I am here on my 4th change in Amabay with Hermana Jara. We are both excited to be here another change together and grateful for the opportunity to have Christmas with such a great ward, but above all, to keep working with our investigators. I don’t want to jinx anything, because as we know, anything can happen, but I am so excited to say that we have a baptism of a family this Saturday!! Its a couple named Justina and Andres. She is a woman that we talked to a few months ago when she was sweeping outside. They have a little boy who is almost 2 and they are great. They’re not married, so we are going to have the wedding and the baptism the same day. Thankfully we have a lot of support and help from the members. Without them, I don’t know how we would do it. I wont be relaxed until Sunday though when they have been confirmed and everything. Please pray for them that they will be able to overcome the opposition that ALWAYS comes before baptism, marriage, or anything else good in life. I get to speak in Sacrament meeting this week. The topic: "Regalos para Jesucristo." I’ve been thinking a lot about this theme and how we can show our love for God. I was reading Elder Uchdorfs talk from conference about love for God and how He doesn’t need us to love Him but more that we need the blessing and direction of loving God. When we love God, our actions lead us more to Him, allow us to become more like Him, and therefore be happier and peaceful in life. Not to mention all of the promised blessings that God gives us as we keep His commandments. That we will have all that He has. I hope and pray that I will be able to help the ward with what they need. Honestly, every day here in the mission field is a miracle. I can communicate and understand in Spanish and a few words in Guaraní; I get to live with girls from Peru and Argentina; I get to work with incredible leaders of the church here in Paraguay (ones of the sisters here was RS secretary at age 12!); my testimony of the Book of Mormon, the Bible, the temple, Joseph Smith, President Monson, and the overall Restoration of the gospel have grown exponentially; I eat tomatoes, olives, pig, crocodile, cow, mondongo (cow stomach), oysters, squid, etc without problem; I learned how to cook; I clean better (I can almost remove the hair from a drain without gagging); I know how to wash my clothes in a bucket; I know how to take care of my skin with Guava leaves and aloe plants; I can make hair conditioner out of rose petals, bananas, and avocado; I get to see incredible sunsets every day; I kill spiders now; I’m fatter now but OK with it, etc....I really am growing up :). There is no better gift that you could have given me than that of being able to serve a mission. I am so happy to be here and love being a missionary. The Christmas call will be a lot of fun! I get to write to you again on Monday so I will try to get the number to you then. I know there’s a code you have to dial to enter but I will get it all ready for you. We are going to call in the church so we won’t have to bug any of the members that day. Are you all going to be there Christmas morning? I’m sure we could figure out how to call over email, but everyone calls to set up the call. It is kind of cheating but I’m sure I will do it too. I don’t know when, but I will get it to you before so that you can practice dad. The bishop might answer though so just hang up or something. jaja. I love you I love you I love you all. I will write more on Monday and let you know how everything went! I hope my siblings will write me letters for Christmas!! Even if they arrive after. And pictures!...if you can. Love love love, Rae

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

"Let it Snow?"

Greetings from Summer in Paraguay!
Hello hello my dearest family!
Sorry for not being able to write
yesterday. We had zone conference
so today is our P-day. The conference
was spectacular as always and we got some
great advice as to what we need as a mission.
It is starting to dawn on me that my time
here as a missionary is WAY too short.
It makes me panic a little to think about how
quickly this time as a missionary is passing.
I am starting to wish that girls could have 2 years also.
Don't
worry though, I´m not going to extend 6 months, but really I just
feel so blessed to be here as a missionary! This is the best
experience I have ever had in my life. Never again in my life will
I have this calling, blessing, and opportunity. I hope and pray that
I am noticing and taking every opportunity possible to share the gospel.
I honestly didn't love this place at first, but I can tell you right now
how much I love Paraguay. I love the
people here so much!! I love my mission so much! I love to bare my
testimony
about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. I love telling
the people here that
Christ came to visit their descendats and that
He lives today. I love to tell
people about President Monson and the
Quorum of the 12. It fascinates me and
I know without a doubt that
what I tell these people is true. The past couple
of weeks, we have had
some miracles. I've seen old investigators come
back and want to be
baptized. They remembered how they felt when we taught
them,
they've seen the Book of Mormon make changes in their lives and in
the
lives of their husbands and children. It really gave me hope that
my efforts
haven´t been wasted and that they felt the Spirit and knew
what they needed to
do through me and my companion. The sad
thing is when they deny what they've
felt and choose not to continue,
but the more I read the Book of Mormon and the
New Testament,
the more realize that rejection, sadness, and disappointment are
not new experiences. For example, I am reading in Alma again about
when Alma gives up the judgment seat to go and preach the gospel.
I'm sure
this wasn't easy. In fact, Alma was el juez superior, but he
gave up his
position because he saw no other way to rescue his people
except with the strength
of pure testimony against them (Alma 5:19).
He faced those who had kept the
commandments, but many more who
had forgotten and chosen poorly. I love chapter 8
when Alma is leaving
the land of Ammoniah after having suffered many
afflictions, being
kicked out of the city, smitten, all of his words resisted,
when an angel
appears to him and tells him to lift up his head and rejoice.
The angel
doesn't tell him to rejoice because he baptized literally thousands of
people before or because he had a high position of both government
and church.
No. The angel tells him to rejoice because he has been faithful
in keeping
the commandments of God from the first day that he heard
the words of Abinadi
the prophet (Alma 8:15). To me this was really
noteworthy.We have much reason
to lift up our heads and rejoice as we
keep the commandments faithfully and listen
to the words of the prophets,
both ancient and modern day. This wasn't all though.
The angel tells him to
go back and we know that he went speedily. What a great
example of
faithfulness and diligence through trials. I have no doubt that the
Book of Mormon was written for our day and age. It has helped me
immensely this
week. I´m so glad that you all got your packages and
were able to visit Elder
Earl! That was really nice of him to do that for our
family. Speaking of
packages..I got my Christmas one this Saturday!
(THANKS AUNT SHERI)
I was so
excited! But it is sitting in my room
tempting me every day. I know it will be worth it
to wait to open it on
Christmas. You are so wonderful to have sent me something.
Serioulsy,
thank you so much! I got your letter about Christmas in the field Dad.
Thank you so much. I really loved your advice and am excited to pass
a Christmas
here with the people in Paraguay. The only downside is that
we have transfers
15 December, so I might be in a new area, but still, it
will be fun for me to
serve other people on this day and help them grow
closer to their Savior Jesus
Christ. Its the only time of year where
almost everyone (at least in this part
of the world) is thinking about
Jesus Christ.What a great opportunity!
Honestly, Christmas here is a
lot different. Some people have lights and a
few decorations up. There
was a snowman yard art the other day that said
"Let it Snow" which
made me laugh. Really though, I feel so blessed.
Sometimes it makes me
sick to think of all the "things" that I've received in my
life that I didn't
need or that someone else could have used. For some reason,
I was thinking about when you first got married mom and dad, and how
I thought
we were poor because mom made our clothes and our house
was smaller.
Coming here has really opened my eyes and made me
appreciate how truly blessed
we are. The people here that offer us their
best food, that
buy us a soda (which is a huge luxury) that often offer us their
chair and
table to eat first because they only own 2 chairs in total or their
kids wait
for us to eat first and then eat whats left. It has truly humbled me.
I know that they are blessed when they help us, but still, it breaks my
heart and fills me with joy to see their smiles when they give to us. It makes
them so happy. Christmas here will truly be one that I will never forget.
Dad, I really understand why you don't like to receive gifts. Still though,
I hope the giving will continue in our family, but more with service, advice,
counsel, time, and love. That's great to hear about Corey and Katie!
Send them my best! Corey and I are going to be neighbors down here for a bit.
That will be so much fun. What part of Brasil is he in again? I can't remember
the mission name. Also if you could send me his address, I would appreciate it.

I love you tons!
- Hermana Rae

Monday, November 16, 2009

Beautiful!

Wow wow wow, what a week! This was honestly the best week of my
mission so far! We seriously saw so many miracles. I don't
even know where to start. Yesterday, 6 investigators came
to church (12 if you count all of their babies and kids).
It was the biggest storm I've seen so far here in Paraguay.
The streets were literally rivers. But igual, la gente
vinieron. We are working with 6 families
right now that I just love but are tough. Mostly, were
trying to complete families, where the mom and children are
members, but the majority of the time the husband isn't.
We did a special fast for them Saturday to Sunday and
I seriously testify of the power of the fast. It was amazing.
The most difficult thing for us has been to find the
WHOLE family together so we prayed specifically for the
OPPORTUNITY to teach them. Heavenly Father answered our
prayers. We went Sunday in the morning to pick up a
family for church. The missionaries have taught them a
lot before and the elders gave them to us as a reference.
The mom cuts the strings off of jeans all day for her work.
The little kids too. There are tons of Korean jean factories
and everyone in that area works for them. They live in
pretty humble circumstances but work really hard and many
many hours. We started going to their house to help them
and relieve at least the little kids so that they could go
play. They told us that they have a testimony of Joseph Smith
of the Book of Mormon, they really are a great family, but
we could tell something was up since it had been such a long
time and they still hadn't been baptized after such a long
time. We felt prompted to talk with them about the word of
wisdom again. They told us that they had no problem with
it and were keeping the word of wisdom. The next morning
when we went though, we found him really drunk and drinking
with his friend outside of the apartment. The kids were
watching. We dropped the cane pretty hard. He kept
saying "forgive me, forgive me please." We went inside
the apartment and his sweet wife was there getting the
kids ready for church. She seemed really embarrassed.
It hurt my heart so much to see how sad she was.
After many words with the husband, we asked him to say the
prayer. We all knelt down and I have never heard anyone ask
more times for God to forgive him. I started to cry as he
said the prayer. It hurt really bad to see him make a poor
decision for his family. He watched as his whole family left
with us for church. As we walked, the rain started and
we gave the little kids and mom our umbrellas. I will never
forget the contrast of those little kids in their home,
sadly watching their dad and them being in the church happy
with the members and their mom. The best joy and the
greatest sorrow. Were went to their house again after
church and are going again tonight. Were not giving up on
them just yet.
There were like a thousand other cool things that
happened this week. I seriously love being a missionary.
I know that God answers prayers and fasts. I know that God
lives, that Jesus Christ is my Savior and that through the
prophet Joseph Smith, God restored the same church that
Jesus Christ previously put on the earth. I love the
covenants I have made in the temple. I thought about them
a lot this week and realized how much protection I have
a missionary and endowed member of the church.
Anyway, please have a wonderful week.
I looovee yooouuuuu!!!!
Love, Rae

Monday, November 9, 2009

Wonderful Fruit

I don't know if I told you, but there are Plumerias here right now
(white and yellow, deep purple, pink, yellow, and white)and there are
also poinsettias everywhere.
Hermana Jara and I are both still here in Amambay. We didn't end up
having changes yet. I really REALLY love this ward though and the
people here so I am ok with not changing for now :).
The heat was killer again. The other morning I drank 2 liters of water
by like 9:00 and kept drinking throughout the day. The heat is still
miserable but I am getting more used to it. I guess.
We found a really cool family this week! I was so excited.
We were walking and decided to knock on a random door. An older
single lady greeted us, let us in, gave us water, and told us that she
was Catholic but that her brother who had died 3 years earlier was
Mormon and had served a mission many years earlier in Uruguay.
She told us that the people from the church were really nice but
took us into a room where she had a shrine of Saints, Jesus,
incense and things like that and told us that she wasn't interested in
changing religions. It was really important to her and she was
so sweet to us. We taught her about the Restoration of the Gospel
though and visited for a little bit. She gaves us a little bag
of cookies and a piece of candy as we left. It was adorable. She
then told us that her niece, the daughter of her brother who passed
away lives close and that we could visit her. We went to visit her
and her family and they are great! They were kind of busy when
we came but were going on Tuesday to visit with them. We stopped
by yesterday too and visited with the members son and granddaughter
and they were really receptive. I really think they are going to progress.
As it turns out, the man who died was inactive towards the end of his
life. But i truly believe that things dont happen because of coincidence,
and that perhaps there is a concerned father on the other side
trying to help his family. Once again, our Heavenly Father really
is in the details.
This morning was fun. For our P-day we went to the city center with
one of the girls in the ward Vanessa Alvarez. We eat with her family
on Sundays and they are the best. Her dad is an artisan and does those
really cool scripture covers made out of leather. They're amazing.
Anyway, we took some fun pictures and went to a museum. We ate
the BEST empanadas that I've ever tasted. It was weird though. I felt
like a tourist kind of. It reminded me of being in London or Paris...all
big cities have the same kind of feel. It was fun though. Ill send you
pictures.

Guess what? My mouth and dry skin are cured. A sister in the ward told
me to boil guava leaves and put the juice on my skin and it cured me!
I couldn't believe it. A modern day miracle. There are natural remedies
here for everything. It seems like that principle of there being an
opposition in all things really is true. Where the sun burns your skin,
there grows aloe or guava leaves to cure them. Go figure.
MY testimony is growing so much and I never want to forget the
experiences that I am having here.

Sometimes, many times, fulfilling our callings takes a lot of hard work.
I have seen many of the sacrifices that people here in Amabay have
made to fulfill their callings. I hope our ward and stake are doing well.
We really have such wonderful people in our ward and I love
them better and help the 27th ward in whatever way possible once I return.
Please send my love to the family. I hope Aunt Lauren is feeling
better! I am continuing to pray for her and for all of you every day.
I can't believe Ive been out 5 months. It has passed by so quickly
but I feel like I have been here forever. I really love it here.

Anyway, I'm out of time! love you love you love you!! BTW(by the way)
it's fruit season and I ate like half a watermelon the other day.
RRRIquisimo!!
All my love,
Rae

Sunday, November 1, 2009

...Small and Simple Things

Wow,  what a week! So much has happened!It really has been a
lot of fun and incredible. We had Zone conference and interviews
with President Callan this week which was so great and very much
needed. Our leaders are so inspired. President Callan focused a
lot on effective planning (PME ch 8) and following the Spirit
(PME ch 4). He also talked about obedience with exactness.
Well, I have to admit that I learned so much and figured out
that there are many things to improve. We focused on changing
some of the simple things....by small and simple things, great
things WILL come to pass. We went to pick up some investigators
with a member (a young girl and her sister who speak mainly
Guarani­)but we couldn't get a hold of any of the other
investigators so we figured they wouldn't come.
When we got to church, we had
5 investigators that we hadnt even planned on being there!
One was a young guard who we always pass by on our way
home. We invited him to church twice when passing by and
he came with his girlfriend! It was so great! This
week also, We taught Virgina´s daughter. We thought she
wasn't going to make it to church but she came yesterday
anyway! It was such a blessing to us. Yesterday after church
we found 18 new investigators and were able to teach 6
lessons with members there as well as 2 other lessons and
1 to a less active. We had a wonderful lesson Saturday night
with the husband of a member here and it was so
special. I feel so blessed that my Heavenly Father gave me
the opportunity to see other people come unto Christ
and change their lives. That is the gift and how happy we have
been to see it.
The members have been so great too! I really love working
with them. Sometimes it is difficult for them to open up and
talk to investigators but it makes such a difference.
I am learning so much and have SO MANY things I want to
read and learn.
I am doing great and am finding ways to adapt.
By The Way... I got my packages!! And it came so fast!
Thank you so much! Well, I am out of time.
I love you all and have a wonderful week!
Love, Rae

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The fruits of Paraguay

This week was a busy one. Honestly, some days were pretty
tough and I was feeling kaigue (lazy in Guaran­). But we
had such a cool experience on Sat that I want to share
real quick.
My companion and I were following up on a reference that
we got from a little girl who is always playing with the little
girl of a less active family with whom we are working.
She comes to church and told us we could visit her mom .
Her moms name is Graciela. We went to find her like 3
times but her house is confusing because it is behind
these apartments...hard to describe. Anyway, we clapped
one of the doors and a lady answered . We said, ¿Graciela?
and she looked confused but said, ¿sí? soy yo. We asked
if she was the mother of the little girl. She said no, but we
asked if we could come in anyway. She looked hesitant ,
as most do, but let us in. We talked about her family
and her husband who had passed away 3 years earlier
and her daughter who had recently gotten married and
moved away. She was very sweet.
We shared a very short message about the Restoration with
her because she had to go to work but she told us we
could come back the next day (sat). When we came back
Saturday she was just getting home from work so we came
in and she sat down with us. She was excited to see us and
began to tell us what had happened the night before.
Turns out, she has a new fiance and they're getting
married next month (VERY rare in Paraguay).
They were talking on the phone and she told him about
our visit with her and how weird it was that we called her by
name. She said also that she never lets people in but that
she felt like if she would not have let us in,
that she would be denying the Lord.
Wow. Anyway , her fiance asked her what we were
like and what the pamphlet looked like that w e gave her.
Turns out, he just barely started to receive the missionary
discussions also and that the had met with them 3 times
already. The both of them had gone to the Catholic church
last week but Graciela kept telling us that "it just doesn't
fill me" and "there are things that just don't make sense.
They don't really explain." This being the case, Graciela and her
fiance prayed to the Lord to send them the way and promised
that if they found it, they would follow. She said that
she was sure this isn't coincidence .
Family, our Heavenly Father LOVES His children.
This had nothing to do with me and i know it. But wow,
He really loves them. She also told us about many times
that she had prayed, especially after her husband died,
for comfort and direction. She described how she felt
afterward...like she was covered with piel de gallina
(chicken skin or goosebumps). We had a wonderful lesson
with her, and are going to have a family home evening with
her and her fiance tomorrow night. They went to his ward
yesterday so I am so excited to hear how everything went.
It was so cool and such a blessing to me. I wish I had time
to tell you all the miracles that I am seeing but there
just isn't time. I love these experiences though.
Things are going well here with the work. We found a lot
of people this week to teach. Besides Graciela , none of
them came to church, but I really have faith that they will
progress. This whole "respecting others agency" thing
is really hard sometimes.

Paraguay is beautiful , no? Its really great here. Sometimes
I am shallow though and miss my car and carpet and washing
machine. Sorry for being materialistic, but its true.

I was thinking as I was writing this that there are some fun
novelty things about Paraguay that I forget to tell you.
I know Grandma Dixie really liked hearing about all the
greenery and gorgeous flowers. There are so many! It is beautiful.
It has been really weird weather
my whole time here. Either way cold or miserably hot.
I arrived in the end of winter here. As summer begins though,
were starting to see more fruit.
There is this little orange one called nisporo
that its really good and we always clap peoples doors to see if
we can have some. There are mangoes like crazy here. They're all
over the floor. One of my favorite trees is the mora
(or blackberry/mulberry) trees. Delicious. We also see cool
animals sometimes. Tons of cats and dogs with missing limbs,
but also monkeys, and bats swoop down near our heads at night.
Sometimes I pick of frogs to scare my comp. ha ha. and there are
lizards too. I love it. Nothing dangerous. No worries.
Love,
Hermana Edwards

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Remember the storm in the 'Testaments' movie?

I lived it yesterday . Haha, Really the storms here are wild. But today is a
beautiful gorgeous day in Paraguay. Love my comp, I love this work,
I love these people. Really this has been a great week and I have learned a lot.
A great week in the sense that I am a missionary...I love that part.
Really though, it was kind of difficult. Virginia was going to be baptized
this Friday. We had everything well-planned and ready to go.
We were so excited for her! But Thursday night she called us and told
us that she wasnt going to be baptized. It seriously broke my
heart. Sometimes the sacrifices people have to make to be baptized are great,
but I know that it is so infinitely worth it. It is their personal salvation in fact.
Sometimes that is hard for others to grasp. Virginia is great though.
We are still working with her and she came to church yesterday!
It was great. Speaking of church yesterday, it was wonderful.
It was the primary presentation and it was incredible. It made me think of
that conference talk (maybe Elder Christofferson ?) that said we should have an
eagerness and willingness to learn as children do. We can really learn so much from
children. We ve been working with a less active family with a little 4 year old girl
named Cami. She is incredible. I think I mentioned her in my last e-mail but I just love
her and am learning a ton from her example of being above all loving, eager, and willing
to learn.
We had 12 investigators who were going to come to church yesterday. We did
divisions with ward members to go and pick them up but only one of them
came. (heavy sigh). But I am learning more and more not to get down.
To keep trying to work hard. It s funny because the times that I would
usually be upset, annoyed , frustrated, sad, etc at home , I would be in
my room or eating ice cream or something . But here, I dont get that
time to lay on the couch and sulk. I have to keep working and learning to be positive
despite how I am feeling. I am not saying that I always suceed at being positive, but
really, it is a lesson I am being forced to learn. Forced. Haha. But I am trying to do
better and be happy despite the circumstances.
It has been sweltering hot here. My shirts are always wet and have lines from my
backpack. ¡Que vergüenza! I have never sweat so much in my life.
And everyone keeps telling me that this is nothing . That the heat is inexplicable.
I am really in for it. I wish I could share Paraguay with you. I cant thank you enough for this
experience. I wouldnt trade this for anything.
I know Paraguay seems a world away but people really arent that
different from each other. I am learning that still more and more.
I really love the mmembers of this ward here in Amambay.
They are honestly incredible. They work so hard
and love this gospel so much. It has been such a pleasure to
work with these ward leaders. I am also appreciating more and more
the members back at home there in West
Jordan. PLease tell the ward hi for me. I love the service they render. It really takes
some sacrifice at times, but I know this is the Lords work and they will be blessed. I was
wondering how Grant is. He is such a great example. We really have such a great
ward.
Tell all my friends that I love them!
Today we are going to Mercado 4 and I am so excited.
Grandmas and Grandpas, I hope are doing well. I LOVE your letters. It seriously
means so much and I love to hear about the family. Im sorry I never write. P days are
wild here. I hope no one is mad at me because I never write anyone back. I m sorry.
Well, I gotta run! I still have to write to President Callan (who is great! )
Love you all and have a great week!
-Hermana Rachel Edwards

Sunday, October 11, 2009

We Thank Thee Oh God for a Prophet...

This  week really was a lot better than the last one.  The funny thing
is that I am learning, I am happy, and I lived through it. Amazing
how that happens right ? In Matthew 10, the Lord tells the apostles
to shake the dust off their feet after others don't receive them.
That's exactly what we need to learn to do. The worst thing that
dust can do is be a little uncomfortable, irritating, or annoying, but
its not going to kill me. A little dust never killed anyone...
I think. Don't quote me on that. Everything turned out fine.
Lorenzo got baptized on Wednesday and nothing went according
to plan. But he got baptized. He just wept afterward.
It was an experience I´ll never forget. It was so special.
I am learning so much and I am being forced to learn to
just go with the flow . To do my best but to adapt when changes
come. Virginia is getting baptized this Saturday and I am so
happy! She is so wonderful! She asked us our names and so
now she always calls us Ana Belen and Raquel. haha.
We've tried to explain that we´re referred to as Hermana
and Elders, but she always calls us by name. We are
working on kindly breaking the habit. Conference yesterday
was incredible! I loved every second of it. The member
were so faithful. It can be really expensive to take a
whole family to the stake center (in Centro) so the church
hired a collectivo ( a bus) to take them. We took some
less active members with us and it was a great experience.
One of the little girls in our ward ¨Cami¨ is seriously an angel.
She is 4 years old and has such incredible love and Spirit.
I thought about her a lot yesterday during the conference
when they mentioned loving like little children, and having
a willingness and eagerness to learn. I realized how selfish
and self centered I've been and how much more I need
to love others. There is a test at the end of Preach My
Gospel in chapter 6 about Christlike attributes that I love!
I take it every change but I went through this morning to
find what I can do specifically to have more love and charity
for others. Here is an idea for a FHE activity = make copies
of the little test and have each person fill it out.
I learn so much every time. Another idea...we
were meeting with our ward mission leader this week
and talking about PMG. 1st that every leader should have
a copy and 2nd, he told us that their family has gone through
the FHE manual like a thousnad times and that families could
use PMG for FHE lessons. I loved the idea.
Start with the families. Can you imagine if everyone lived
and shared the gospel the way preach my gospel says ?! how
wonderful it would be . We didn't get to see the Saturday
sessions of conference but they are going to give us a
Liahona next month when it comes out. I am so excited!
I loved Elder Hollands testimony of the Book of Mormon.
My love for that book has grown exponentially here on my
mission. I'm embarassed that it was right there in front of
me all this time and I didn't appreciate it. I think it was in
Elder Christoffersons talk about stewardship where he talked
about parents who allow children to make their own religious
decisions is denying God...or something like that. And that
quote he read from Elder Eyring. Wow. Basically I just want to
say thank you mom and dad. Thank you for encouraging me to go to
activities, church, seminary, sit down and watch conference ,
practice being reverent... All these memories of little life
lessons that come flooding back. I am so grateful.
You taught and still teach with love. I can honestly say now
that I go to those meetings, sit reverently, etc, because
I love God, not because I am obligated to do so. I hope
I can be half the parents that you have been to
me. I hope I can remember. Don't let me forget Ok?
Mom, I got my package! I cried. A lot. Right after
I finished writing my email last week, the Elders called
and brought my package over. It was the best thing in the
world and I really felt your love so strong. You are so
dang thoughtful! It was everything I could have asked
for and more. Thanks for being my parents.
Hey, guess what I just realized?
I have almost been on a mission for 4 months!
Wow, I cant believe it. Have the best week ever.
I love you all so much!
Love , Rae

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Needing HUGS

Hi hi hi family,
It has been a really hard week. I need an email hug right now. I am seriously stressed and anxious this week. We have a baptism this Wednesday for Lorenzo and I am so excited but part of me feels like it is unreal! I just hope and pray that everything will go well. Please pray for me. Please know that i really wanted a hug from mom and dad yesterday. I am learning more and more that yes, the church is run by our Heavenly Father, but he has to use i am learning a lot.
It is wonderful to see people who are sincerely changing their lives and coming unto Christ We have another baptism next week too and I am so excited. Her name is Virginia. We had a FHE with her and a family in the ward and it was so special. She came with her husband and daughter and it really opened doors for them to receive the gospel too.
I am happy that the work is moving forward. I love this work and i know that it is the Lords. I know that my Heavenly Father knows and loves me, that He knows my heart, my intentions, my desires. He also knows these people perfectly so I am learning to rely on Him more for help with them. I am so weak without that knowledge and without him. Really, I feel very humbled.
They changed basically everything in the mission, incuding mail. They are kind of discouraging family from sending big packages because I guess it costs more money for the church becuase they have to pay delivery people to bring it to the offices, etc. So...I will recieve packages every six weeks. We just had changes last week so I have no idea when ill get it, but its just in the offices and in safe hands.
Welll, i love you and hope to hear from you monday! Tell the friends and family hi!
Love,
Rachel

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Happy Spring

Hello ,
Happy Spring! Which started yesterday. Here I am in a cyber
where the keyboard is sticky, the question mark key doesn't
work, and the guy at the front desk is blasting music
by THE CURE. I love Paraguay. My companion left yesterday.
It was so sad to see her go. She has been amazing!
I'm so grateful that I had the chance to be with her.My
new companion is named Hermana Jara from Lima, Peru.
She is a doll and I am excited to work with her. She has
been in the mission 10 months. I have been really
stressed with our investigators the past couple of
days because only one came to church this week.
I know it will work out because the Lord needs it to.
we brought a member to the house of someone
we had just contacted in the street. The member bore her
testimony so strong and the lady ended up coming to the
RS activity that night and loved it. We're going to
visit with her again this week.
She wasn't at her house last night but were going to
try again. We had the conference with Elder
Aidukaitis this week. It was so great! He taught
with so much love and power. It really motivated me
to change some things that I haven't been doing
well and improve the work here
overall. It was well needed and i feel well fed.
I got some fun letters yesterday from Grandma D, Jessy,
and Dodi Weiler. They were so great and I was so happy to
hear from them! I hope everyone is doing great!
We were supposed to have 2 baptisms this weekend but
only one of our investigators came to church. I know
it will be ok. We are working with some people right
now who are progressing so much! We brought one of
our investigators to a baptism of another
chico in our ward and she absolutely loved it.
The power of the members is awesome.
I hope all is well with everyone! Sorry for now
writing Monday.
During the weeks of changes were going to have
p day on Wednesdays. we'll have p-day again
this Monday as usual.
Thats all for now! I am happy, relatively healthy, and
working my
hardest to be a good girl! I hope you know that.
Thank you for all your prayers!
Love love love,
Rae

Monday, September 14, 2009

Paraguay is beautiful

I don't know if I ever told you, but Paraguay is gorgeous!
It is green with palm trees, pine trees, millions of orchids,
hibiscus, and everything else. it is beautiful and the
sunsets and sunrises (crazy that I'm awake that time of
day) are so incredible. The roads are made of piedra which
is like cobblestone. It's beautiful right up until the
moment that you step on them because they're way uneven
and difficult to walk on, but pretty nonetheless. People
sell fruit from horse drawn carts in the streets and walk
around selling chipa (basically butter, flour, and cheese).
It is beautiful to look at.
First news, we had 5 people with baptisms planned
for the 26th of September. they are so great and we
had the best experience with Raquel this week. Her brother
is pentecostal and she has faced a lot of oppositition
with her family, but she has been faithful and
great. We watched the restoration with her and her
brother and he told us that he almost cried. it was
so great. All of our investigators did great all
throughout the week and were progressing, etc.
This is a really fragile time for them so we really
worked hard this week to try to protect them.
BUT, only one came to church yesterday. it seriously
broke my heart. sometimes its hard to understand why
people make poor decisions when they have the knowledge
they need and have received spiritual witness. We are
just going to work harder with them. We are going to
try and prepare them for Oct 3 now which means
that we have only 3 for the 26th now. It will work out.
I know it will. I constantly feel responsible for
these people. I worry about them, think about them,
pray for them. It is almost overwhelming sometimes.
I want them to have a firm testimony, to not only be
baptized but to be strong members of the church
who will continue on to the temple and be firm
the rest of their lives. It is a lot of responsibility.
We work with some inactive families too and it just breaks
my heart. (sigh).
Our apartment is small with windows, and a tile floor.
It was quite dirty when we got here, but we did some cleaning
and it is either better or I am just used to it.
Either way, I am fine. We have a fridge and a gas stove
and oven, so that is great. Washer and dryer? haha. no.
We have a granite basin. basically, this is how it works:
I put water in a bucket with soap., put my clothes in there,
let them soak, scrub them with a brush and hang them to dry.
I already ruined a shirt. Pretty independent though huh? haha.
they always smell weird too. I don't feel like I'll be clean
until i get home. oh well. I am adjusting. The shower is a
spiquet in the wall. We have to heat up the water for at
least 30 minutes before if we want to shower.
Food: well...it is really hard to eat well here.
I have been learning some paraguayan and latin foods
which has been pretty fun. Basically i eat cereal with bananas in the
mornings. They use yogurt like milk here and it is liquidy.
I usually put that in my cereal. During the lunch time, we eat
with members or investigators. We eat a lot of noodles,
rice, potatoes, meat, mandioca, bread...stuff like that.
Lots of starch and carbs. I have been courteously
eating meat. It has been really hard at times but I really
don't want to offend and can usually just swallow
it with a bite of something else so it has been ok.
Yesterday was ROUGH though because there was sangre on it.
I almost couldn't breathe but luckily i got the small piece.
Really the members take good care of us. They are wonderful.
For dinner we usually eat like salads with lime, advacados, pineapple,
oranges. rRndom things because we are way too tired to cook.
Basically, my body doesn't love me, but today i am turning
over another new leaf and going to try to control what I
eat here. It is really hard though because I am always
hungry. We walk like 15 kilometers at least every day.
I don't know how many miles that is but we are walking a lot
in the sun and it can be quite draining.
Bugs: roaches, spiders, mosquitoes, but nothing too crazy
which is such a blessing.
Dogs...still gross, but they have been leaving us alone.
Sis Roig family is so great. I love them. I gave them the
copy of that picture.

Got dear elder letters from Jessy, and Sister Thrasher.
I also got grandma Dixie's as well as mom, dad, and Aunt Pam.
I pray that grandpa is doing better! I'm so glad that
grandma is taking such good care of him. my prayers are
also with grandma and grandpa Goedde! Please tell them I
love them and am sorry for Grandpa's loss. I hope he
is doing ok. I am going to try and get some letters
in the mail today but the days seriously fly by.
voy a procurar.
Today my companion and i did an activity with our zone.
We kind of dropped the cane, but all went well. They
were pretty sweet and receptive. We talked about unity
and being caballeros, and worthy holders of the priesthood.
We also told them all that Pres Callan and Elder Aiudukaitis
were coming so they would all dress their best, behave well.
At the end, we told them that Pres Callan never was going
to come and that we need to act appropriately at all times,
not just when we´re trying to impress our leaders. It was
effective and we are hoping that we´ll see some changes
for the better in our zone. Speaking of Elder Aidukaitis,
our conference is tomorrow. I'm excited.

That is so great that you got to go to martins cove!
I am really interested in all these church things now.
Like family history, church history. I really want to go
to Jerusalem, cook, play the piano, raise children...it is weird.
haha. I am learning so much. We have changes next week!
I'll be in the same area but with a new companion.
I don't want my companion to leave! I"m sure I will learn a lot from
my new companion also, but Hermana Soria will be hard to top.
I am way excited for conference. It's coming up here quick!
We are going to centro ( a different ward) to watch it.
Tell my friends I love them too! That is so fun that you got
to have dinner with them. Do't bother them about writing me.
I cant expect that because i never wrote people on their
missions. Not ever my own brothers! Letters are always nice
though if they have time. it helps a ton. Also, i want to
see pictures from Ashtons wedding, Jessy had a birthday
(sorry for not sending you anything!!!!). i cant remember
what else i forgot, but i will try to repent and make it
up to my friends.
I have to go! Love you all! Still waiting for the
package but should get here next week! Don't worry.
I am so excited!!!
love, Rae
Dad, have fun in HK! I love China.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Thank you so much for the emails! I got 3 letters today 
and I was so happy! I also got one from Sister Bloomfield
from the Missionary Training Center. It was great.
This week has been a little heart wrenching to be honest.
People really need this gospel because wow, this world is
just cruel. Some of the things
that happen to children and especially women. I just feel
helpless and it is really hard. Dad, brothers, thank you
for being kind to women. Thank you for being clean. I know
Heavenly Father loves his daughters. This country really
doesn't make me love men. The other day, we saw a guy
hitting his girlfriend in the street. There wasn't
anything we could do. It just made me sick.
My companion said that type of thing is really
common here. I just hate it.
The only thing that gives me comfort is that God is just
and that Jesus Christ suffered these pains for these
people. I believe that. I have to believe that. Sometimes
it is just unreal. Seriously, just evil. Sick. Weird.
My point in telling you this is just so that you
realize 1. How blessed we are to have the gospel
of Jesus Christ and to belong to the same church
that he established when he was on the earth 2.How
blessed we are to live where we live with such comforts
and protection, especially in Utah 3. The second
coming is near. As good as things are in some places,
the opposition is real and Satan is hard at work. Stand
tall. Please, don't give him the slightest chance to
bring you down. It is not happiness. Here's a specific
way that you can protect yourself this week. We have been
teaching about the Sabbath day to our investigators,
especially on Saturdays so they will come to church.
Wow, it is so important that we keep this day holy.
In our music, our dress, our movies. It really is a
day to sanctify God. It's the longest of the 10
commandments apart from love the Lord thy God...
I don't think the Lord would take more time to explain
this commandment if it wasn't so important. I really
just didn't appreciate this before my mission.
I hope that this week you will do all you can to keep
the Sabbath day holy. Really take time to talk as a
family about the things you learned in Sunday school.
Talk about the gospel. I know you will.

Enough preaching and complaining from me. The good
news...we have 4 investigators with baptismal dates!
Mariana, Raquel, Miriam, Virginia. They have to come
to church at least two times before they're baptized
though and we only had Mariana yesterday so we have
to push back the dates of the others. They are
progressing though and it makes me so happy!
Raquel isn't married (which is a baptismal requirement
if you´re living with someone) but she is going to talk
to her companion and she seemed so happy. She was
basically teaching US about the law of chastity. I really
think that the Lord has been preparing her. Physically,
well....i am trying to take good care of myself. I
sprained my ankle last week playing futbol, just barely
got over a chest cold that I've had since the beginning,
and have never walked more in my life. I'm sure you can
imagine the state of my feet...BUT, my companion is
a nurse, all my injuries have healed, I played futbol
again today no problem, and drinking tons of water and
wearing sunscreen. i am being a good girl :). Honestly,
I am not worried. I am doing great. It is incredibly
hot and I am always sweaty. It is gross, but alas,
this is south America. Well, i love you all!
Thank you so much for emailing me! It helps a ton.
Really, I look forward to it so much! Keep praying
for these people! I will do my best to find them.
By-The-Way, Elder Aidukaitis is coming this week.
Rumor has it
that we have interviews with him. YIKES! I´ll let you know how it goes.
All my love!!!
Hermana Rae.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Not sure about those 'dogs'????

Some new found enemies...Can I just say that the dogs here are NOT dogs! They are
wolves, tigers, bears, and are so sick! There are these 2 dogs that always chase us
and on one street, there are these 13 BIG dogs who fight and chased us yesterday. I
am not exactly the animal lover I once was. There is this one dog that is
incredible. I took a picture and will send it to you.
I laugh every time i think about it.

Anyway...how are you my dearest family? I hope that all is well with you.
Thank you so much for you emails. It is so good to hear from you. Week 2 was a
little bit harder. The more I understand, the more responsibility I have.
I am really trying hard not to rely as much on my companion and ask a lot of
questions because she leaves the 24 of September and i will have to know
the ward, area, etc, to show a new companion. I am sure it will all be fine
though. Did I tell you my companion is not only a nurse but was a surgeons asistant
before this? She took cooking classes and is an amazing cook. I am in good hands.
I love her so much and am learning so much from her. We are having a ton of fun and
I don't want her to go!!! Alas, I know there will be plenty to learn from other
companions as well. I saw Hermana Plessl this week. Things have been really hard for
her with the culture shock, etc. Her area is half campo, half city and is pretty
rural. I feel so spoiled to be in such a nice ward, with a great companion, and area.
I am just thankful for this area right now. That is not to say I haven´t had
struggles here. This week was really hard at times. Sometimes i feel like I am not
studying as effectively as I could be, or I can´t express things the way I want to
in Spanish during lessons, but it has been good for me to grow and get to know
my Heavenly Father better. He and I talk A LOT these days.

We had a miracle happen yesterday. We are teaching a woman and her daughter. The
woman's name is Raqule Soria, the same name as my companion! How funny! We fasted for
her and some other investigators and she and her daughter came to church yesterday!
They loved it and said they are going to come every week! I was so excited.
The problem is that she is not married to her boyfriend (even after 10 years) so
we are going to have to pray a lot to help her prepare to be baptized but I
really hope so! She is so great.
We are visiting another family in the ward who are all members except for the
father and 16yr old daughter. We have been trying to activate them and get them
to come to church. The dad is always working though and is a car mechanic from
his home. He is always really nice to us and we set up a time to come and teach him.
It took a while and he finally agreed. As we were leaving their house, we noticed
some pornographic pictures in his workshop. We talked about and practiced what we
should do and say because we really felt that we should address it. We took some
pictures of the savior out of the Ensign magazine to give to him instead. Yesterday,
we were on our way to another appointment (we were going to visit them about an hour
and a half later) and we ran into the mom and the little girls. We asked them if we
could still visit with the dad and the mom said that he had just started drinking
and there was no way. We insisted and went to talk to him. He agreed to be ready in
an hour and a half. When we came back for the visit, he took forever to come. He
showered, etc, and finally we got to visit with the whole family for the first time!
We read a scripture in Romans 10:8 (i think...) that talks about thoughts and how we
can have a family more unified if thoughts are pure. Anyway, we asked him to take
down the pictures and he was a a little resistant but agreed. We are going too pass
by his house tonight and give him some scotch tape to hang up the new ones. I always
made him hold hands with his wife and promise to do so whenever they were sitting
or walking, etc (something I learned from Hno Arredondo). I was kind of nervous
but they listened. God knows people´s hearts and this is HIs work. Nothing is
impossible.
Something gracioso from this week...we stopped to help a man cleaning up leaves
in the street and invited him to church after. At this point, he started to tell us
that he had had a vision where Jesus, Fidel Castro, and some guy from the Republic
of Paraguay came down and gave him a blessing. People here are crazy sometimes.
It was really funnny.
Antoher thing that I have noticed A LOT here is that Satan is hard at work with
these people too. Distractions are sometimes the biggest problems during our lessons.
We were teaching a lady named Ylinda and her daughter Fatima. They have ahd 8/12
people in their family die, only 2 weeks ago an uncle who paid their bills. They were
so sad. We taught them about the plan of salvation the first time and they were so
interested. The spirit was so strong. we went back and only the mother was there.
She is a little crazy but nice. It´s funny too because they have all these chickens
that run to the gate whenever we clap. I love it. ANYWAY...back to Satan and his
distractions...we were visiting her and were interrupted 3 times, twice by friends
passing by another by a huge gust of wind. Guess when? the first time in the middle
of the first vision, and the other 2 right when we were in the middle of inviting
her to be baptized. it was a lucha for sure, but sometimes the opposition is
reassuring that this is GOd´s work and Satan is really trying to stop it.
WE just have to remember to push through the opposition.
We met a lady the other day and she let us in. She is caring for her mother who
is 100 years old! She is the tiniest thing and is basically just laying in her bed
to die. There were pictures of the virgin Mary, the pope, and Jesus everywhere. We
said a prayer with them there. Can i just tell you how much I love prayer. Wow, it
is so powerful.
This week we also went to the temple. It is tiny but it is so beautiful!
It was really special. It was such a cool experience and I really learned a lot!
It was the first clean, familiar place I had been, since coming here. What
a blessing. We also had zone conference this week and it was great. I really love
president Callan and his wife.
Please tell everyone hi for me and that I love them so much! I am so grateful to
be here. Thank you so much for being so faithful in writing me! It means so much!
I didn't send a letter last week but I will try to today with pictures. I´ll let
you know when i receive yours. Send candy!
Times up!! cant wait to hear from you next week!!

Much love,

Hermana Rae

Monday, August 17, 2009

Rachel Correspondence Information

To send a letter to Rachel, the easiest and quickest way is to send it 'pouch' through Salt Lake.
To do this, it must be a single sheet of paper, written with your letter, folded into three sections and taped. This way takes 1-2 weeks. Put a .44 cent stamp on it with this address:
Hermana Rachel Edwards
Paraguay Asuncion Mission
PO Box 30150
Salt Lake City, Utah 84130

If you want to send letters straight to her/or a package, here is the address: (This takes 4-5 weeks)
Hermana Rachel Edwards
Del Maestro 2881
C/Caballero Barrio Herrara
Paraguay, Asuncion

I don't know how much it cost, but it must be mailed at the US Post Office.

First week in Paraguay

This is attempt 2 as my email was just erased halfway through. PERO, estoy feliz estar aqui! Todo esta muy muy bien. Paraguay is beatuiful....the foliage, sunsets, and people that is. Other than that is is very dirty and a lot like Mexico accept I think Mexico is nicer. I really am loving it though! WE are in the most "chuci" (ritzy) area of the mission called Amabay. BY this I mean that some of them maybe have a car. Mostly though people have dirt, wood, or tile floors, not really doors or windows, and a lot of the houses are garages. we also don't knock on doors. we clap in front of houses for people to come out. the people are so gracious and a lot of them listen and will let us in. they think all churches are just great. Amambay is also the most organized ward in the mission. The people here are great! They are so wonderful! We almuerzamos with fam Roig my second day here! That is the family of the sister we met at temple square.(See picture at bottom of blog) I am serving in their ward and they were the ones on the temple committee. Dios es en los detalles. Can you send me the picture with her? Her family wants to see it. Speaking of the temple, we get to go tomorrow! I am so excited! The food is good. Nothing too crazy yet. I fear that I am going to return looking like Madame Maxine from Harry Potter when I return because all we eat are noodles, rice, bread, and chicken. Carbs and protein with all that walking makes for one tall, solid person. I hope I don´t look like a viking but alas, all is well and I will try my best to stay in shape. No promises about what you´re going to get when I walk off the plane next Christmas. haha. Things are similar to the United States in ways. All of the little convenience stores remind me of China in their setup, how they´re on all the corners, etc but they aren´t nice like the China ones. Now, some of the most important things. The work here is great! We are opening an area right now. Nothing too crazy because there were missionaries here one transfer ago, but neither of us know the area, people, and the contacts are kind of older, so it has been a bit of challenge. The bishop and the members are amazing though and that really makes things a lot easier. Mostly, we have been trying to get to know the members, the bishop, the area, and old contacts from the area book. Since Tues night, we found 14 new investigators! It has been amazing and the Lord really has answered our prayers. By the way, the Spanish here is kind of wild. I am still struggling to understand it all because they speak VERY quickly, throw in some Guarani words, speak softly, and slur their words all together. It´s getting better though and I am starting to understand more. I can´t wait until I´ll be able to understand it all. I will do better to work towards it. The more I am learning, the more I realize that people are so similar all over the world. They are funny, have the same worries, and most of all, they are children of our Heavenly Father and He loves them. My Companion is the best thing that ever happened to me! I am so sad because I am her "executioner" in that I will be her last companion before she leaves. She goes at the end of September. Her name is Raquel Soria from Northern Argentina (Santiago de Estero) and I absolutely love her. She joined the church 3 years ago and is now 28 years old but is so chiquita and cute. She is a saint. I have learned SO MUCH from her and thankfully, I can understand her Spanish very well. She is so much fun and such a hard worker. When we took the taxi to our apartment the first day, she told me that she had a dream about me 3 months ago so when she saw me walk in, she knew she was going to be my trainer. It´s funny how I just barely started praying for my trainer like a month ago, but Heavenly Father already knew. He is always way ahead of us. (and to think that was the time when I almost did'nt go!) so weird, but awesome. I am so glad to hear you are all doing well! Mail here is going to be a pain, but here is what I´ve gathered from the other elders. Send letters in envelopes and packages through the regular post office mail (not UPS or anything) with stickers of Jesus and the Virgin Mary on them (so they don't get opened) to this address - Del Maestro 2881 c/Caballero Barrio Herrera Paraguay, Asuncion. That takes about 4 or 5 weeks.Dear Elder and pouch take only a week and a half or so. I have an hour for email to you and my mission president so feel free to send me something quick on p-day and I will respond. Other than that, who knows. But the others haven't had any problems with packages or
anything so send me goodies!! haha. I was thinking about RMCF (Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory) last night. Miss it. We have just enough money for the month which is great, but I like to but juice and water bottles a lot with my own money so I hope that is ok. Other than that, I am being frugal.
My mission president and his wife are amazing. I love them and am so happy. Don't
worry, they smile, the picture does'nt do them justice. they are great. I have a sec so I will tell you a couple of weird bug things that I learned. There are these black butterflies that fly around at night and lay eggs from the sky into your skin. They live on the trees. When the eggs get into your skin, this worm-snake-like thing grows and you can see it wiggling around (like on the mummy) and then it pops out of your skin....SICK! So we have to be careful about those. haha. Also, Hna Soria told me that in some of the rooms in the houses in other areas there are "reinos de araas." Dad will know what that means. Anyway, all I can do is laugh. It will all be fine I´m sure. I am not too worried. It rained today and the street flooded. This really is a world away, but I am so happy to be here. More tired than I´ve even been in my life but loving it nonetheless. In the airports and plane alone I had many opportunities to share the gospel. It was great! Pray for missionary opportunities and I know you will receive them. That's your challenge for this week. Love you all so much! Sorry again that I didn't get to talk to jordan and kris.
Much love. Rae

Monday, July 27, 2009

Familia!
John Groberg and Gerald Lund (Ameritus Seventies) spoke the last 2 weeks at devotional. I think I forgot to mention that but it is such a blessing to have such wonderful experienced people speak to us. I am still loving the MTC, but more and more ready every day to leave. The RS speaker yesterday had served with her husband in Paraguay as mission presidents. MY teacher also brought in pictures of Paraguay this week too. I am so excited!!!! except for the pig heads that they eat with the teeth, nose hairs and all, I can't wait!
We've been continuing to go to the call center. I always pray to have good experiences there and I am always amazed at how fully the Lord answers my prayers. I talked to a woman named Cindy on sat. She was a hispanic woman who had just moved, was looking for work, had a 6 mo. old baby whose father had just left and gone back to Mexico and she was living with her mom, grandmother, and 2 younger brothers. Things were hard in her life. She had been looking for a church to go to though and was very interested. I looked up the church nearest to her, gave her the bishop's name/number and gave her the 1st lesson. We also talked about the plan of salvation. She's going to read the Book of Mormon and have the missionaries over. She also was going to go to church yesterday with her whole family. It was SO cool! I was so grateful and i hope that she made it to church. I have been praying for her. I hope that you will pray for Cindy too.

I can't believe I'm leaving so soon! I should be getting my flight plans this week so I'll let you know when I'll be calling you. Hopefully not at 3 in the AM! Also, I'm going to buy a filtering water bottle from the bookstore. the lady from RS said it was the only other thing she wished she would have had. IT filters any water you have. going to try it.
I saw Chase this week! It was so fun and I got to talk to him for a little bit. IT was great to see him. I've also gotten to see Kris a few times this week which is always fun.
Glad you like the hair. It was free so I thought I might as well. Tell Lauren that these locks are still hers for when I get home.
Thank you SO SO much for the letters, packages, Dear Elders, etc this week!! They meant so much. We didn't get mail on Fri because of Pioneer Day and we only get mail once on Saturdays so I saved my letters and read one each night. Kris, mom, Dad, grandma Dixie, Grandma Goedde, Aunt Pam, Aunt Lynette, Anna, thank you! It means the world to me. Mom and Dad, I cried. The journal, bread, rice cakes, gummies...you know all my favorites. And the luggae tags :).Thank you so much. you are amazing. That meant a lot to me. Kris, your words helped a ton. IT has been such a blessing to have you so close and knowing exactly what I;m going through. Some of these missionaries really are a miracle. Thank you for helping me to see them more as such. I love the teachers here so much. They are so great! I had interviews with both of my teachers this week and they said some really kind things. I loved it.
Spanish is coming along great. It is such a fun language! Our teacher has been helping us learn some Guarani phrases and they are so fun! I can't wait to learn in. If you log onto LDS.org - General Conference- you can listen to talks in Guarani. It is so cool. You should listen to how it sounds. IT is VERY Lamanitish. I love listening to the talks in Spanish. Our church leaders teach some simply and give such wonderful perspectives. IT has really helped my Spanish to listen to them.
We went to the temple this morning and it was great. It was REALLY hard to stay awake. I hate that about myself. But I learned a lot and loved it.
A challenge for all of you this week...Alma 40-42. it is wonderdul.
Time's up!
LOVe you!!
-Rae

Monday, July 20, 2009

Hi Family!

thank you for your e-mails! It was so good to hear from you! It sounds like you are all doing great! Mom and Dad, thank you for working so hard to provide for our family. YOu are both amazing.
Mom, thank you so much for praying for my trainer. That means so much to me! I know that God answers prayers. I have a quick example from this week. On saturdays, we go to the Referral Center and make phone calls to people who other members have referred or we confirm that they've received copies of the Book of Mormon, etc. and have the opportunity to bear our testimonies and see if they would like to visit with missionaries. I prayed all day on Saturday to be able to have a good missionary experience and find someone who would receive our message about Jesus Christ. First, the system was down. When it came online, I tried some calls and got tons of answering machines. I switched over to try some Spanish calls. No one answeredf and the list ran out. I tried non-member referals and the first person answered in Spanish, even though they were English calls. I taught her about the Book of Mormon in Spanish. She had been given a copy by a friend and committed to read a chapter that I gave her and pray about it that night. She also agreed to have the missionaries come visit her. She was a young mother with 2 little kids and
seemed excited about the gospel. IT was so cool!! The next 2 calls I made, the people "coincidentally" spoke only Spanish again. Another wanted a copy of the Book of Mormon and the missionaries. She lived in CA but had never heard of Mormons or our church. She seemed so excited too. IT was so amazing. I know God answered my prayer. It wasn't a coincidence that I called Spainsh-speaking people. It was a little miracle for me and it touched my heart. A tender mercy.

I was thinking about why I am here. There are many reasons, but I keep coming back
to that first time that we went to China, saw ALL of those people and you told me to look at their faces and know that God knows them all and loves them. That even though I have always been on the other side of the world from them and didn't even really understand how many other people there are, God knows them all individually. You could see them for who they were and who God knew they could become. I've been able to see that potential in God's children in other times in my life. At college, at home, during high school, over and over again in Mexico, walking out of Versailles and seeing those Haitian vendors, etc. etc. I have certainly seen it here at the MTC and can;t wait to teach the people of Paraguay who they really are and who God wants them to become. I did initiatories this morning at the temple and heard those beautiful blessings again. I really want those for everyone. It is a miracle.
My e-mail time is almost up, so I will write the rest in a letter.
I love you all so much!!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Hi Familia!
How are you all?!! Thank you for the letters and e-mails. Jord, your e-mail helped a lot. It's going to be a huge shock when I get to Paraguay and don't know Guarani and there are no familiar faces...BUT, hopefully I will manage. The Lord will provide a way.

This week has been great and has FLOWN by! The weeks are so fast. Yesterday was my
half-way mark in the MTC. Exactly 4 1/2 Weeks. I can't beleive it. I saw my room mate Lauren and Natty, my sweet friend in the TRC this week and it was so fun! They are so great and I miss my friends and family, but all is well.

Yesterday in RS Margaret D. Nadauld spoke! It was amazing! Mom, you would have loved it! And I got to go and meet and talk to her after. IT was so much fun. She is a solid lady. She talked about how all of us are temples. She pointed out the differences between the Pioneer temples, the Hong Kong temple, Vernal, etc and how of them are so beautiful to look at but so different from each other. People come from all over the world to look at them. Only the finest materials are put inside. Likewise, we need to take care of our bodies on the outside and and put only the finest knowledge, food, spiritual experiences, etc. inside. We may not look like out sister's San Diego temple, but we are all beautiful and need to make our temple the best it can be.

My meeting with Richard Heaton was great. He had my companions come in also and sat down with us for about 15 minutes just getting to know us and talking to us. He told me about how much he loved you Dad and how grateful he was for you and what a winner mom is. I fully agree on all counts. He is a great man and SO busy!! I know that it was a sacrifice for him to meet with us but I am so grateful that he did. He says hello.


I'm starting to feel guilty because I LOVE receiving letters and packages but hardly have any time to write back. We have the temple on Mondays again and we have been scheduling appointments during letter writing time because I really feel like we need to make the best use of our time while we have these resources in the MTC. I need all the practice I can get!! We have study at 1:30 today and we are teaching lesson 1 in Spanish for the first time today at 2:00! I'm nervous but so excited! This work is amazing and I am learning a ton every day.


Love you all so much! Sorry I have to run. LOVE LOVE LOVE you!!!

Hermana Edwards

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Dear Family!

The 4th was a little tough here at the MTC. Great, but definitely a hard holiday to miss. Richard Heaton organized a program for the 4th called "the Standard of Truth" about all the people who facilitated the Restoration. Each of the perspectives was told by the historical figure i.e Paul (Saul), Martin Luther, John Wycliffe, John Calvin, George Washington, Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and of course Joseph Smith. Some of the costumes were a little funny, but I thought the message was so beautiful and gave me such a great perspective of the grand plan in heaven for those who were called and chosen by God to facilitate the Restoration of the gospel.

On Sat. night we got to stay out until 11:00 (!) which is way late for missionaries. We watched the fireworks from Stadium of Fire. It was a lot of fun and one of the sisters in our room gave us all glowsticks to play with. After a package of gummies and Gushers, my glowstick soon became a lightsaber and wand which I had a lot of fun with, especially while pretending to cast spells that ensued fireworks. Simple pleasures. Basilisks in the shower, everyone in suits, and a boy that looks like Draco Malfoy...I really am at Hogwarts. Don't worry, I am behaving myself.

Have you read "Jesus the Christ"? It is a amazing! I haven't gotten to read all
of it but I occasionally read sections for my personal study and I love it. So
interesting. I really feel like I am getting to know my Savior better by learning about his life and ministry.

I am also obsessed with "Preach My Gospel". It is incredible! Please use it in
Family Home Evening or Scripture Study or whenever you can. It is amazing! Also, Dad and Mom, have you read the ensign this month yet? they are some great talks about adversity and trials that reminded me of the discussion we had before I left. And Dad's talk. They are great. You should read them.

I love you all I haven;t gotten mail since Thurs though because of the holiday though so I will write more later. Anyway, love you love you love you!

-Sister Edwards

Monday, June 29, 2009

Week 3
























Hello dearest ones!! I am so glad to
hear that you are all well!
I miss you all and feel like I have
been here forever!!
It's a similar feeling to midterms...
just trying to plow through right now and
then I'm sure I'll be wanting more time when
it's time to leave. The panic of finals.
I am so excited for the field though. Spanish
is going well. I really like the language and
it is coming along well. Oh my word, Kris was
an amazing teacher! I loved having him and my
class did too. They all mentioned how much his
activities helped and my companions want to date him.
Story of my life :). Things were great with
companions later on this week. .I had been
praying for humility...the Lord answers prayers
in unexpected ways. I certainly feel
humbled and so happy for kind companions.

I am WAY over the food. Like WAY over it.
Which sounds so ungrateful since it is provided
for me, but really, it is sick.
Sometimes they have salmon and Papa Johns which is great.
Mom, I am ready for the homemade bread and butter whenever
you are. It does take a long time to eat all of it,
But I was able to finish most and it was so delicious!

This week with the general authorities was so great!
The spirit here was incredible. I didn't meet anyone,
but we were ushers at the devotional and had amazing
seats. There were so many apostles on the stand!
Elder Bednar, Holland, Oaks, Cook, Christoffeson,
Andersen, Perry, Steven R. Snow, Costa, and I think
that's all, but wow, it was so cool!
Elder Holland spoke to us about letting the Spirit
teaching the lesson for us. He certainly has a way
of making things clear and applicable.
I learned so much!

Yesterday in RS, Sister Wendy Watson Nelson
(Russell M. Nelson's wife)spoke to us.
If you don;t know her story, you should read about it.
She is amaing. She married Elder Nelson in 2006,
her first marriage. Talk about the Lord's timing...
and what a worthwhile wait!

I hope I can answer some questions. I haven't run a
whole lot here, but we work out every morning
at 5:50 AM (believe it!)and then we also have
gym time during the day. I usually do some
kind of cardio and toning, etc. My teacher told me that
in Paraguay, skinny people get fat and fat people
lose weight.You can interpret that however you want.
I am way into 4-square here and it is really
competitive, so I make sure to finish my
workout in the morning so I can focus on 4-square
during the gym time :). Some of my other favorite
missionaries left this week. I get my heart
broken every week by these missionaries. I
have such hope for the children of this generation
of people. They are amazing.

I had this vision of myself getting off the plane
from Paraguay in a year 1/2 looking haggard
(either really fat or really frail...I can't decide),
with really long hair, and really worn clothes
and shoes. I go to bed feeling so worn every night,
but I feel like I am really trying my hardest not
to waste time and to be the best missionary I can be.
There is great work to be done.

Have the best week ever! Write me letters
and dear elders! I love them!

Love always,

Hermana Rachel

Monday, June 22, 2009

Kris' District before they left.


Mi Querido Familia,

Hi! Another great
week here at the MTC.
On Sundays they let
us take pictures at the
temple and I got one
with my cousin Aaron.
I will send it hopefully next
week when I get it developed. We get to watch films every
Sunday night, and I also got to sit next him. We watched
the "Testaments" and I just kept thinking,
"these are my people." Well, I might be a little off on
the geography, but I am convinced
that they were speaking Guarani in some of the parts :).
I heard some spider/tapeworm/parasite/cows-getting-
hit-by-a-bus-and-people-hacking-at-them-with-machetes
Paraguay horror stories this week...I think
I have no idea what I'm getting myself into,
but I am so excited! What an adventure! Our teacher
served in Paraguay and taught us some Guarani phrases.
He told us about these older ladies that garden with
hardly any clothes on with cigars in their mouths.
hahaha. I already love it. He taught us how to say
"how are you, my mother?" to them in Guarani and said
that they will love you forever if you say that to them.
He told us that first lessons are
taught on the front lawn, which is made of mud and that
there will usually be more than one family. I am honestly
so excited! I have a feeling that my clothes, self, etc.
won't ever really be clean until I get home.
Heber Valley Girls camp is REALLY going to seem like a
luxury resort after this, mom :).

The MTC has been great this week. On Tuesday,
Bishop Richard C. Edgely was our devotional speaker.
I am blessed, no? He was great.This week (starting Wed)
is the new mission president's seimnar....
meaning Sundance, MTC style. Spanish is coming along well.
The more I find out about the language, the more I realize
I don't know. Most of our Spanish is focused around
teaching lessons or specific scenarios, so it's hard
to focus on grammar, but I am managing.

Most importantly, I am learning so much about the gospel.
I feel like I've always been pretty outgoing, but it is a
new challenge to walk up to someone and bear your
soul to them. I am growing and learning so much from
this experience though and can't wait to get to Paraguay.

Love you,
Hna. Edwards

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Dear familia,

Hola! I am here and I am loving it! The MTC is a
wonderful place and I am having such a great experience.

My companion(s): Hna. Plessl is from Allentown, PA. She
speaks Spanish at about the same level that I do and is
so happy to be here. She has a great enthusiasm for the work
and can't wait to go to Paraguay.
She is very sweet and has a wonderful testimony.
Hna Wyatt. (yes I am in a companionship of 3 sisters.)
sis. Wyatt is from Laverkin, UT just outside of St. George.
She graduated from SUU and has been a teacher for the
past 2 years.

Missions are hard!!! No matter how prepared I thought
I was before this, nothing can really prepare you adequately.
I just need to remember "humility, not discouragement."

P-day's are Mondays. We went to the 7:20 am session and it
was really great. I love the temple and am so glad we get
that opportunity while here. I get only 30 minutes to
e-mail and hardly ANY time to write, think, etc. so
hopefully these e-mails will be sufficient.
As every other missionary has told me, letters
really count! Even if you want to
send me a quick little note on dearelder.com throughout
the week, I would love it! I get those letters the
same day if you send them before noon. Other than
e-mail, temple, laundry,
bookstore, etc., we study a lot on P-day. I am so
grateful for the opportunity to do so.
I have already learned so much about the gospel
and my Savior Jesus Christ. What an incredible thing
he did for us!!!

My teachers are Hno. Petersen and Arrendondo and they
are amazing! He actually served in our mission and is
going to teach us some Guarani phrases! What a
cool tender mercy. Hno. Arredondo is from Guatemala
and is an angel. He is a great teacher.



Sister Dibb spoke in relief society yesterday? !!!!!!
It was amazing! She spoke about the new value virtue
and guess what character she referenced as her main
example of virtue?
Jane Eyre. It was sooooo good! Then she opened questions
about Pres. Monson after. What an amazing privilege I have here.
Also, my companionship is in the MTC choir. It must be the
Spirit because everything we sang yesterday sounded incredible!
I sat next to Sis. Roper, a girl I knew from high school
choir who is going to Taiwan. We sat in the
very front row and I tripped (really slowly, haha)
in front of the
whole choir. It was pretty bad but funny. i have
a nice raspberry on my knee.

Anyway, times up! i hope all is well at home! I love you
all so much and thank you for this opportunity!!
Much love,

Hermana Edwards

Saturday, June 13, 2009



This was a great day. Rachel had spent Monday and half of Tuesday with me at Girl's camp. She was a tremendous help, and shared her beautiful testimony with the young women of our stake. The 'drop off' was really nice and organized. I felt very peaceful as she was escorted by two missionaries that helped her with her luggage and showed her where to go. Her brother, Kris, has reported that she looks genuinely happy and does have a third sister in their companionship whose comp did not end up coming. We are anxious to get our first letter.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

On My Way to Paraguay


Dear friends and family,

Today is my 21st birthday and I am overwhelmed with gratitude. I leave for the Missionary Training Center this Wednesday and am so excited for the opportunities that await.

Many of you were able to attend my BBQ last night and I couldn't believe how much love I felt from all of you. In the final scene of my favorite movie, "Big Fish," the main character, Edward Bloom, who is dying, is taken to the river (a very significant place for him). As Bloom is carried down to the edge of the water (symbolic of his death), he encounters all of the people that have meant so much to him and have blessed his life. Even though he is about to leave these people, they are all cheering, laughing, and celebrating his life.

So I know it may sound a little dramatic (since I'm not dying after all), but I think I probably felt like Edward Bloom did. I looked around and saw so many people that I loved and cared about (not to mention all of the cards, e-mails, phone calls, text messages, visits, etc.) and felt so happy before I had to leave them all.

I am so excited to serve my mission. I know that it will be one of the greatest blessings of my life and I hope that in a few short words every week or so that I will be able to share some of my greatest joys with any of you who are willing to listen. I also hope I didn't ruin the ending of "Big Fish" for any of you who haven't seen it.

My mom, Kathy (or Katrene :)) will be managing my blog for me while I am gone. I hope to hear from some of you and am excited to return next Christmas to see how you are all doing.

Thank you for your love and support!!!

-Sister Rachel Edwards

For those of you who would like to learn more about the church and what I will be doing for the next year and a half, here are the links to some great resources. Share them with your friends and family!!!

Mormon.org
LDS.org
Paraguay.com
Missionary Program
The MTC (Missionary Training Center)