Monday, January 19, 2015

January 19, 2015

Family --

So this week's email is going to be fun. Haha! 

So basically as you all know I was transferred last week.  So I went into Asuncion on Tuesday of last week and learned I was being transferred to Neuland in the Chaco.  I knew some missionaries who were serving in the Chaco, and knew two things about it, 1) it is rare to serve there -- only six missionaries at a time, and 2) when missionaries are sent there, they usually stay for 6-9 months.  I had a feeling I might be transferred to an outlying area, but had no idea it would be the Chaco.  One thing President McMullin said to me at changes is that he is putting me in the Chaco because he knows that he can trust me, which was super cool to hear.        

So far, my whole life in the mission has been super fun and super close to the city and other missionaries ... But not anymore.. I am now about eight hours outside Asuncion in a City called Neuland.  It is a German town with a bunch of Nivacle Indians. It has been super interesting because up until now, I have pretty much become accustomed to communicating in Spanish and Guarani.  Now it is super different. The people here all speak Spanish, but it is not their first language. Like the Indians, they speak Nivacle, which is pretty much like an African clicking language. I don't know how better to explain it. It's very different.

But yeah, so basically when we got off the bus they took us to a little city called Abundancia (Bountiful in English) where we held an EFY (Especially for Youth) for the Members.  It was pretty cool, we missionaries were called on to be the Camp Counselors, and that was pretty interesting -- do you know how hard it is to speak to people that can't speak the same language? :)  It was super hard.  I was teaching them like 
lessons about prayer and how to bare a testimony, and I would ask questions, and the kids just sat there and looked at me like  they didn't understand me or like I was stupid. Eventually the kids started to talk and answer maybe one or two questions, but it was definitely a struggle. Haha! 

But yeah, so we went to Abundancia and then my first night we went back to our house because we had to go pick up some people from Paraiso (Paradise), and it is fairly close to where we live.  Paraiso is a small town that is pretty much an Indian Tribe.  They all live in the same style of house because that's what their government made for them. It kind of reminded me of something that National Geographic would put in their magazine.  I saw like three ladies there without shirts on, just walking around and stuff. It was crazy -- and don't worry, it wasn't something I was interested in -- it was just like a little weird when I saw it.

So we get all of the people into a bus at Paraiso and then we start to go back to Abundancia, which is like 100 miles away.  Unfortunately,  about midway we ended up stopping because the bus broke down. So yeah, we were like stuck in the middle of nowhere for a long time while trying to get someone to come get us.  Eventually we got someone to come pick us up from the side of the road, and then we continued on to Neuland ... but ... we were still like 50 miles out of Abundancia still, and so we had to wait out in the sun for two hours until we could get on a bus that would take us out to Abundancia again. It was quite an experience.

Anyway, so we did get there and we had EFY. We just taught the people the basics because that's what they really need out here.  Everyone lives so far away from everyone else, and the missionaries don't visit their houses very often, so they need the missionaries and need to learn the basics of the Gospel.

So we had EFY on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday and it was really pretty cool. Other than teaching the kids about the Gospel, one thing that they loved was that I brought my Rubiks Cube. The kids loved it, they think that I am like a wizard because I can do a Rubiks Cube.  Even the adults were like "no way, that is super cool." Haha! It was funny because everyone wanted me to teach them. I taught another Elder, but I don't know if he will remember it.

So yeah, President came up during EFY and talked to us ... And GUESS WHAT ... I am the new secretary of my branch.  So basically I have to be trained again to know how to do for that, so that is going to be super, super interesting ... but I believe there is a reason for everything, maybe when I get home from my mission I am going to be called to be ward secretary or something. :)  But yeah, on an even crazier note, there could be a chance that I could end up being the Branch President out here.. I don't really think that would happen, but apparently president has been asking if the missionaries should just be in charge of everything out here. Pretty crazy right. I may not be an AP,  but I could be a branch president. Haha!! So it will be interesting to see if that happens. (Mom's note -- two things:  Jon mentions that he might not be an "AP".  Jon's older brother was an AP in his mission, and so Jon's siblings always tease him about whether or not he will be an AP. I just wanted to clarify that Jon is not aspiring to be an AP, his comment was a family joke between Jon and his siblings whom he loves very much.  :) Second thing: When our Bishop interviewed Jon for his mission, he mentioned to Jon that he had a feeling Jon would serve as a Branch President during his mission, which was totally random, so it will be interesting to see what happens). 

Today was a very interesting p-day.  What I have learned is that out here in the Chaco p- days like every other day.  Usually on P-days we would meet up with other Elders and play sports and go to lunch, but out here there are no restaurants or Elders. Haha. I think that will be the hardest thing about this transfer -- I really miss my friends.  For a whole year I could look to p-day as a kind of release to have fun and to get all of my energy out, now I can't do that because I am so far out here that there is nothing to do, but  it will be all good ... I will just have to get used to it -- either that or just die -- Haha Just kidding!!!

So the bottom line of being in the Chaco is that there is just a ton of work out here. We are going to be opening up the Paraiso area, and so every Sunday we have to go out there after our church to direct their church, and to make sure they are doing all they can do to make the church grow in their area.  It will be super to be able to help so many people come to the Gospel.  We have at least ten baptisms of children coming up soon here in Neuland and then there are the people in Paraiso who are super interested, so it is going to be a hard area and a lot of work, but we believe there will be a lot of success too.

It has definitely been a crazy week with transfer and a crazy four days in the Chaco, but it's going to be super interesting. There is a good chance I will be here for 7-8 months or so,  this actually could be my last area, which is super crazy to think about.  I kind of hope to go back to the city for a transfer or two before I am finished with my mission, but I will do whatever the Lord wants me to do.

I sure love y'all, and hope you are all doing well.
 Elder Turley

Note from Jon's Mom:  When I learned that Jon had been transferred to the Cacho, I immediately asked all my Paraguay Missionary Mom friends all about it, I wanted to know everything. What I learned is that it is quite an honor to be sent to serve in the Chaco.  It is so far away from the mission, that President McMullin needs to trust the missionaries he sends there because the mission's contact with them is one call once a week. Only six Elders serve there at one time, and once called there the Elders typically spend 6-9 months there so the people can get to know the Elders.

Then I heard some not so wonderful things, like the lack of food and water, and so I had a million questions for Jon.  I wanted to hear from his mouth what his exact area is like and how he is doing and handling things.  Below are my many questions!!!

So apparently dehydration is a problem in the Chaco. One mom said her son was dehydrated at Christmas time.

Do you have enough water? Yes we have enough water, we just need to buy it.

Do you have enough food? I have eaten enough every day so I will be fine.  I don't eat much as it is so don's worry.

2.  One of the moms mentioned you have to buy water and food and and carry them in.  She also said you guys aren't given enough money for water and food and so some of the Elders go without water.  Don't do that!!! Please use whatever money you need, from your personal account, to make sure you and your comp have plenty of water and plenty of food. 

Do you have to carry the water you buy very far? We bought it from a place that was like a couple blocks away from our house .. it isn't too far..

Is it a hard process of getting the water and food from the store to your apartment? No it is just walking with like a 3 gallon jug or something like that.

3.  I was also told the water in the Chaco is not only scarce, but not clean.

What is the water situation actually like? I won't drink the regular water because it is yellow and looks like urine, but the people drink it and they are seem to be fine.

Do you filter the water you are drinking? We just drink the water that we buy, but when I get the water bottle and filter, I will filter it, so for the most part  I will be drinking clean water.

4.  Did you get our package from the Distribution Center before your transfer, or have you received it since? I will probably recieve it this week for zone meeting. We go to asuncion for our zone meeting

5.  The package has mesh garments and apparently those work better with the extreme heat -- I think I was inspired to order them, as we ordered them before we knew where you would be going.

If you received the package, have you tried the garments? I have not yet

If you haven't received them, how often do you get packages out there? I believe I will get packages and mail from the office once a month when we go to Asuncion for zone meetings.

Also the shirt sleeves were long, they don't have short sleeves at the distribution center, so you need to be cut and hemmed.

Is there someone who does your laundry? No, we have a washing machine and will do it ourselves

Will she be able to make your shirts short sleeved, or can you find someone else to do it? I can just roll the sleeves up, don't worry.

Dad and I sent two more packages on Friday.  They are mostly filled with candy and drink mixes -- we got you lots of MIO.

Was it MIO Energy Black Cherry that you liked because that's what we sent? Yeahs, the MIO Energy  is what I wanted. I love the stuff with energy, it helps me a lot.

6.  I also ordered you a water bottle and filters, please use them. We will be ordering you an indoor filtration from the distribution as soon as I know if you have indoor water. I don't have a kitchen sink, so don't worry about indoor filtration.

Do you have indoor plumbing? Yes we have a toliet, a bathroom sink, and a heated shower.

Where do you shower? In my bathroom

Do you have an outhouse or a bathroom? Bathroom

What is your living situation? We live in a house, it is super small but we are just fine.

Do you live in an apartment or house? apartment kinda

7.  From what I have been told, it is quite an honor to be called to serve in the Chaco.  Here is what I have been told.  There are only six Elders who serve there.  No one really checks on you, you are basically your own little district.  You rarely see Zone Leaders or the President.  The President has a lot of faith and confidence in the Elders he sends there -- he only sends Elders he knows will obey the rules and love the people.  Once they call you to the Chaco, they keep you there for six-nine months so you can develop a relationship with the people.  I heard it's a difficult area to serve in, but also an amazing area.  So here are my questions ...

Are you in Neuland, Filladelfia, or Abundancia? Neuland

Who is your companion? Elder Burger. He is from Paraguay but is German.

Who are the other Elders in the Chaco? Elders Bristol, Kincheloe, Aquino, and Luke
Do you see the others very often? Every once in a while, but from what I have been told, not even every week

How far away are you from the other Elders in the Chaco? We are about 50 miles from each set.

How far are you away from a grocery store (do they even have grocery stores)? We have a little one by my house, I haven't  been to the big one yet.

I heard you will be using bicycles, do they have them in the area for you or do you have to buy one? They are in the area, but we only have one right now because the other one got stolen.

What is your main form of transportation? Walking or biking, busses don't pass by here.

How often will you go into Asuncion? I have been told we got about every month or so.

Do you give daily reports to the mission via the Internet? No, just weekly

What is your communication like from the Chaco to President McMullin and the people in Asuncion? President McMullin calls us like every week to see how everything is.

8.  I understand the language can be very difficult, given the people speak German don't speak Spanish.  I understand that it's pretty much a Monnonite (Amish) area.

What are the people like? They are nice.

Are they nice? yes :)

Are they friendly? Yes :)

Can you communicate alright with them? Kind of, most speak Spanish,  but they are really quiet

Are there many LDS people there? I have been told that only like ten people come to church.  I haven't been to our branch yet because we had District Conference yesterday.

Is the leadership pretty new to the faith, or do they know a lot about the Gospel? I'm pretty sure they are converts

Have you had any member dinners? I ate with the members in Abundancia every day last weeek for EFY and  they were super nice

9.  We will be sending you a birthday package soon and so we can send more.

Do you have any requests for your birthday package, especially since you are so far from civilization?

10.  What else can you tell me about your area? I don't  really know it yet.  It kind of reminds me of Idaho,  just like in the middle of nowhere

Has it been a hard adjustment? Ehhh it's been alright.

Is it dangerous in the Chaco? Not that I know of

Crime? people steal bikes. Haha

Wild animals? I've seen a tarantula and poison frogs

What has been the biggest challenge? Being far away from my friends

What has been your happiest moment this week? Just being with the people at EFY, it was super cool

Do you have any investigators?  If so names please. I have no idea because we haven't really been in our area much because of EFY, but I have been told we have at least ten baptisms coming up. :)

Who is your favorite person the week? Not a person -- a dog I met named Tony.  He was like my best friend haha, and he would follow me around everywhere

Are you having any health challenges? I am having super bad stomach issues, but everyone has it so I am hoping it goes away soon.

What kind of foods are you eating? We will be cooking for ourselves everyday, so we will be able to cook stuff we like.

What have you learned about yourself and your mission this week? That there is a lot about this place (the Chaco) that I didn't really understand or know.

What can we pray about for you? That I won't die, haha!

Last Day in Luque with Elder Garner

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