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 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.
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
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