Monday, December 26, 2011

December 26 Part B

We received a letter from Vance's mission president and it included this picture of all the missionaries that arrived the day Vance did.  The letter also expressed the desire of church authorities to limit the number of packages that we send to our missionaries and also the amount of money available to them from their personal accounts back home.  We need to be mindful that there are missionaries out there who rarely even get a letter from home, let alone packages on a regular basis.  I will send one package this Friday (since we sent his Christmas package to the MTC before he left) and the next package will be for his birthday in August.
Vance is in the center back row.  Can you see him?

December 26

The letter did find me well. I dont really know exactly what that means but yeah. It was so good to talk to everyone yesterday afternoon! I loved to see what everyone got even though I cant believe marly got an iPhone!!! That is still trippin me out. I am super excited to see how far technology will be when I get home. My christmas here was good, but interesting. It was definitely nothing like a christmas at home.

Christmas here starts on the 24th and the people stay up till midnight and celebrate christmas like the minute it starts. Almost like the new year. They eat dinner as a family at around 11pm and then they do fireworks (SO MANY FIREWORKS) at midnight and then they eat pan dulce (sweet bread) and stuff. Its interesting to celebrate it a different way. So we got invited to go to a recent converts house for dinner on the 24th and they wanted to help us have a good christmas since we were away from our families. So we went over there at like 730 pm and at dinner. But since they dont eat till like 11 they just served us food and watched us eat. It was awkward and they would ask us if it was good after almost every bite. The food was pretty good though. Even if it was a bit wierd. The people here dont really eat vegetables at all. On almost every plate of food you get from a native it has lots of green pepper and onion though. So its still good. So after we ate at that house, we went to our 2nd dinner appointment with the Bishop at around 9. At his house he had his whole family and then the stake president and his family with them too. And they had so much food! They had turkey that they made just for the elders. They dont like it too much but they knew that americans liked it. Then they had barbacoa and some other type of beef steak meat that was really good. A really common side dish here in Paraguay is called Sopa Paraguaya and almost everyone has it with every meal. The closest thing i can relate it to is Corn Bread but it isnt sweet and it has onions and queso paraguayo in it and I am not a big fan of it. But i eat it because it would be rude not to. So we ate with the bishop and his family and they had the best Guarana soda that i have ever had here! I didnt know what guarana was before i came to paraguay but if you find it there in america, try it! I loooooooooove it. And they had the chuchi pepsi brand. Pepsi just got brought back to Paraguay, but they dont have diet (sorry mom). 

So then after we ate there it was past 930 and we had to run home on a full stomach of 2 dinners and it was tough haha. But then Sunday morning we woke up and had a baptism! It was pretty cool to have a baptism on Christmas day. What better gift can you give to the Lord? So after that we had our 1 hour of sacrament meeting and then us elders (4 of us live in the same ward) made a christmas meal for ourselves at the other elders house because it is bigger. We made Spaghetti, Garlic Bread, Fruit Salad (paraguay style), peach cobbler and we went big and bought real sprite. Real sprite is pretty chuchi around here. But it was worth it. The whole meal came out to around 68,000 guarani. Which in American dollars is like 18 dollars hahahaha. Split between 4 people it was a pretty good meal for not too much money. We get 750,000 guarani per month for food and such. 

So that was my Christmas and it wasnt like normal but we made it fun. I hope everyone else had a great christmas and tell Derek I said happy birthday! 

Les Quiero!!!!

Christmas Day Baptism
Christmas gift to themselves, a trip to McDonalds

Must have been a rainy day

December 25

We were able to Skype with Vance for our Christmas phone call.  Everyone got to visit with him for a few minutes.  To see his face was so awesome and see that he is still the same boy we sent off back in September.  He laughed when he heard Derek repeat "I Love Vance" because when he left, Derek couldn't hardly say two words.  Oh, this Christmas call was the best part of the day for this mama.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

December 19

Hello family! I am so proud of you Mom for graduating! The picture you sent is awesome although i think Drew is wearing the ASU shirt that I bought, (subsequently would mean he got into my box. :( ) But its all good. I hope nothing else got taken out of there. I dont think I want my ukulele anymore because it is against the rules to have a musical instrument in this mission and i probably forgot how to play anyways. But i am getting a new mission president in July so maybe i will ask for it then. But i would also need a tuner so i probably wont ever ask for it. Thank you though. How is Brandon doing on his mission papers?! I hope he gets them in soon, i cant wait for him to get on the mission. He is going to be an awesome missionary! 

I got a letter from Lyndee today! I am sending one out on Wednesday so she can expect it in about 3 weeks. Thats how long it took to get to me here. 

Mother, Bo Chapman would like my emails sent to him because I cant email him directly and so if you could forward these to him at joseph.chapman(at)myldsmail.netthat would be awesome. Thank you. Maybe once i get a new mission president i will be able to write him. who knows?

So some crazy things happened this week. Every day that something wierd happens i write in my planner so that I can remember what things i want to put in my email. haha so here it goes.

1. Everyone in my area thinks its super funny to ask us Americans for 1000 dollars. Pretty much everyone thinks we are super rich and they always ask us for money. Kind of annoying. Especially when we invite investigators to church and they say they arent rich like us and have to work on sundays.

2. My very first street contact in the mission field was a guy named Julio and he lives right across the street from my area so we gave the other elders in my ward his reference and they went and visited him. he was following through with commitments and stuff all the way up to when the elders went to go pick him up for church at 8 30 in the morning and he was drinking! We cant have a guy that is drunk in the church so they said they would come back on tuesday. on tuesday he was sober (more or less) and he told them that the reason he drinks is because a doctor put a spell on him to drink! He doesnt like to drink so he went to a wizard to have the spell taken off and the wizard had him take off all his clothes except for his underwear and washed him with raw eggs but that didnt work so the wizard gave up and said the spell was too strong. So now this guy is forced to be a drunk. But its not his fault because he is under a spell. So yeah. That was my first contact. 

3. Youth give prayers in church here.

4. Last tuesday I was trying to make a street contact and a lot of times people do whatever they can to avoid us and this guy as i said hola hermano como esta jumped into the road and almost got hit by a bus and then started yelling at me! I couldnt stop laughing at him which made him even more mad. oh man paraguayans are so funny when they dont want their eternal salvation. 

So that is what was funny or interesting this week. The other elders had a baptism yesterday which was pretty cool and me and my comp have a baptism date for this sunday! Christmas baptism! What greater gift can you give to the Lord than to be baptized on christmas? This year will be great. Other than that, this week was pretty normal. 

Tomorrow me and my comp have to go into Asuncion for some new missionary training and we are going to stop at the one and only MCDONALDS! Its our christmas gifts to ourselves this year. I told him it reminded me of christmas at home. :) 

So you should call me at NOON your time. I hope that works out for everyone. . That is 4 oclock here. I will be waiting in the bishops office at exactly 4. I am not going to try and use skype. I dont want to because it is just too sketchy. The internet isnt very fast and i think we can have a higher quality conversation on the phone. That is what its about anyways, quality over quantity.

The mission is great, my life is great. The language barrier is being broken down piece by piece. Our numbers arent high but it is better to build up Gods Kingdom than to fill it. Remember that. I love you all!!!!!!! 

No idea what that is.
I love you all and hope christmas is great!
A bowl of meat?

Santa sighting very rare, even more rare, he is playing the saxaphone.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

December 12

I did not get a letter from Vance this week.  He wrote his dad and asked him a few questions that made it seem like he was having a hard time.  How could he not be?  He was going through culture shock and the reality that this will be his life for the next 21 months.  Like the sweet boy he is, he did not want to worry me (or I'm assuming that is why he didn't write to me).  I worried more about him this week as I knew the language and culture would be difficult to get used to, and I hope his letter next week will be better.

Monday, December 5, 2011

December 5 - First e-mail from Paraguay

FAMILY!!! (and friends),

Its true, I am alive and well. Paraguay is nuts! Mother, I am writing in a journal and have only missed two days of my mission so far even though they were both in the mtc and all my entries about the mtc are the same haha. But yeah its different here, a lot different. 

So starting on monday the 28th the day i left. sorry for the bad punctuation, it bugs me a lot but i cant do anything about it on this computer. so monday the 28th we left the mtc at about 10:20ish and drove in a charter bus to the airport. from there we flew to dallas tx and chilled for a little while until we got on the biggest plane i had ever been on to fly to brazil. so we fly all night long to brazil and i could not sleep at all. it wasnt nervousness or anything I just could not get comfortable. but its ok because like none of us could sleep so we all just talked. and they let us get up and walk around and sit on the ground next to our friends or whatever so we did that. So we land in Brazil on tuesday morning at around 9 am brazil time. so we get off the plane and barely anyone speaks spanish, only portuguese. So we had to figure out where to go by reading portuguese signs and stuff so that was interesting. but we made it and still had about 3 hours to spare. so we laid on benches and took naps. brazil was pretty cool looking from what i could see from the airport but mostly all i saw was the tarmac and it just looked like any other airport. and the sao paulo airport was nothing like an american airport. well kinda, but really ghetto. anyways. so we finally get on a plane to paraguay land in asuncion 3 hours later. 

The first thing i notice is how hot it is. I was missing the heat so much. Provo was so stinkin cold i hated it. so i met president Callan and his wife in the airport and then the office elders who drove us back to the mission office. we got to the mission office and then had some dinner. we had what is called Milanesa. Its this big huge piece of meat that is covered in some kinda sauce that i didnt know what it was and then some wierd mashed potatoes and then the best orange juice i had ever had. so that was interesting, its a true paraguayan meal i guess. so then we had some orientation stuff and president interviews. then we finally got to go to bed in the mission office. there is like a room with some bunk beds that we all slept on. 

The next day we had some more orientation stuff and then we met our trainers and our companions for the next twelve weeks! my comp is named Elder N. and he is from California. He is really cool and teaching me a lot. So then we got in a taxi and took off to our area.

My area is called Lucerito. We have a ward here and 4 elders in this area but each companionship lives in a different house. we have i think 3 other companionships in our zone and stake but they live in a different area so we will only see them at district meetings and stuff like that. 

So some cool stuff that happened this week. My very first day I did a contact in spanish! That was pretty cool. I was pretty comfortable with my spanish when I left the mtc so it wasnt too scary but i was a little nervous. we have to do 20 contacts a day so its not even scary anymore. we only contact men and not usually young men so its tough sometimes to find people to talk to. But yeah our lessons were pretty good. we have a recent convert named E. who we teach and she is really nice. We also found a family that the wife was baptized when she was 14 or something and she has been inactive ever since and she is now probably 35 or something. so we teach her and her husband. The two times we have been at her house she has made us peach juice that is so good! She just takes a can of peaches in the syrup and everything and puts it all in a blender and then thats the juice! its sooooooooooooooooo good. i highly recommend it. 

Church was interesting. It was fast sunday so we had testimony meeting and the guy who was conducting asked me by name to bare my testimony from the pulpit! hahaha so yeah i did that. that was funny. then there wasnt a teacher for gospel principles class so us 4 elders taught and we taught two new converts about the millenium. hahah i didnt say anything. our distict leader is from mexico so he taught because his spanish is the best. 

so yeah thats about all that happened. my area is really wierd. some people will be driving around in brand new cars like nice cars and then on the other side of the road you have a guy with his horse cart picking up plastic to recycle for money. crazy stuff. but most people are nice and when we ask if we can come visit them later they always say "no hay problema" so thats cool. but then they are never home. we walk a lot. tomorrow i am taking my first public transportation to district meeting. the streets are crazy. lots of motorcycles and now speed limits or anything. i saw 4 people on a motorcycle with the mom holding a baby in one hand and groceries in the other hand. crazy stuff.

i will attach some pictures from this week of my apartment and of me and my comp.

The church is true, even in paraguay. testimony meeting was awesome. there arent many life long members in this area but everyone that comes to church every week is very strong in the church. everything is good and i will talk to you next monday! attach píctures to emails!

First Photos from Paraguay

I have heard from good sources that in order to protect the privacy of our missionaries, we are not to post the names of the people in the pictures.  So, having said that, from here on out, I will not be naming them.  This is his kitchen in his apartment in Lucerito.
 This is his first companion in the field, Elder N.

November 25th - Last e-mail from MTC

Its all good. this week has been nuts and its tough to write people back. and yesterday was in field orientation and so i was busy all day. i'm thinking it will be even worse in the field and i'll acutally have to obey the rules and only write on p day. thats a rule here too. but its pretty grey. I did get the package! Thank you so much! hahaha i'm having fun with the tape recorder already. so do you guys have one too so that you can hear what i'm saying or what? are you going to send me tapes too?
Thats cool that thanksgiving went well. thanksgiving here in the ccm is crazy. all the meals on normal days are spread out pretty well so that everyone eats a different times and there usually isn't a huge line but here on thanksgiving everyone (almost) ate at the same time and the line for food went out the door into the hallway and that was crazy. when i finally got to the food, it was almost a let down. but it was good. the turkey made me really tired.
Drew will be fine haha. its better to be rounded in high school. just playing basketball might make him hate it eventually. but i don't ever feel that way with running and thats year round. hmmm, maybe he wouldn't. who knows. thats awesome that he is playing jv! tell him to make sure his grades stay up!
Thats too bad about Florida but football season feels like it should be over haha. it seems like is has been going forever. (I told him about his little sisters not going to Florida with the cheer squad).
anyways, yesterday was in field orientation where we sat in this big room with all the missionaries that are leaving this week and we learned about stuff that wasn't really taught in classes all day. like how to work with the members. that is a big thing that missionaries do and we never learn about how to do it till the end of your stay here. it was a long day but it wasn't all boring.
today is my final p day and then tomorrow i get released as zone leader. i don't know who is going to take over for me yet and i'm really interested.
all my friends who are on missions are doing fantastic. they are all great examples to me. i can't wait to get in the field and actually work! i don't feel like i'm on a mission yet so hopefully leaving the country will flip that switch.
Everyone is always saying "i can't wait to get back to real life" one of my teachers told me to think about real life and how trivial things outside are a mission are. The mission is real life. The mission is the only time that you know that you are doing exactly what the lord wants you to do all the time. I know the church is true. I love you all. The next email will be from PARAGUAY