Friday, February 27, 2015

February 23, 2015

Hey Family --

How are y'all doing?  So I am writing super early because we have a lot of missionaries who have to write and you know, it is my time to write. :)  

So we did not have a lot of spiritual things happen this week, but we had a lot of crazy things happen.

Monday ... We went out and did our p-day stuff  -- so basically nothing. Haha.  That night we had a family home evening with the Hermano Fransisco Martinez and his family and that was super cool because his sisters said that they really want to work in the church, and that is rare so it's cool that they want to. 

Tuesday ...  I "dropped fat Cain" (missionary language for spoke strongly) on a Mennonite because I read with him about what the true church of Christ should be like and then I read with him about prophets.  After we read these things, he told me that in his church prophets don't exist and I told him that is because his church isn't the true church of Christ.  I basically told him he was living in apostacy, and he didn't really like that. :) 

Then we visited "M" and again I had to "drop fat Cain" because she was speaking badly about all of the members. I basically told her that she needed to stop gossiping about and talking badly about the other members and told her that she won't get in to heaven if she keeps doing this. We have tried to tell her this before, but she doesn't listen to us and so we have had to "speak more strongly" with her.

I don't really like "dropping Cain" on the members, that is definitely not my personality.  Unfortunately, it has to be done a lot out here in the Chaco and I am probably going to have to do it a lot this next change as I am guessing my companion is going back to Asuncion and I will be getting a new companion and will need to lead the way and show him how things work out here.

Wednesday ...  We visited a couple of families and then traveled to Abundacia to be there for the zone meeting on Thursday.

Thursday ...  We woke up at 2 a.m. to go pick up the A.P.'s (Elder Gummersall and Elder Calderon), but they weren't there and so we went back to the apartment and went to sleep until 4:00 a.m.  Right as we were getting ready to leave to pick them up again, it started to rain, and rain, and rain.  The roads turned in to pure mud and it felt impossible to walk and we had two kilometers to go.  It was super cold and super difficult, but I knew I needed to keep going because along with the A.P.s, I had four packages waiting for me. :)  So we picked up the A.P.'s (and my packages), and then walked back to the apartment -- another two kilometers in the mud and rain and cold ... oh and we were just in t-shirts.  When we got back to the apartment, we all went to sleep for a couple of hours.  Funny thing, we had zone meeting in our flip flops because our shoes were too muddy and too wet to wear.  Haha! :)  Zone Meeting was really great and it was really nice to see Elder Gummersall again. 

Friday ...  We had just a normal day doing normal visits and things. 

Saturday ... We went back to Abundancia for a meeting with all of the ward counsels, and since I am the Secretary of our Branch I had to be there.  The meeting was really good, but we had to leave early because it started to rain and we were in a little Toyota that wouldn't do very well in the mud.  So it starts to rain super hard, and the Hermana driving the car started to yell about how she couldn't see anything, but she kept driving really fast ... so here we are in the middle of a storm, the driver can't see anything, and she is hauling down the road ... not a good combination.  Everyone else in the car kept telling the Hermana to "slow down" and she kept saying "No it's good," and she just kept hauling.   Luckily that little car had two missionaries, the Branch President, The Relief Society President, and the Sunday School President ... and we were protected. :) 

Sunday ... We get to church, and two families who were inactive had come and so that was super cool. We always get to church early so that we can help clean the church and get everything ready, so we did all that and everything was going great.  

So we have the Sacrament ... and then we had the sustaining of a new Relief Society President ... and then the fight started.  One of the Hermanas got mad because the new Relief Society President was Paraguayan and not Neviclay, and so she stood up in the meeting and yelled at Elder Burger and myself because we are white and we only call white people to callings.  She said we were racist and that the church wasn't going to function because the white people were trying to steal all of the power from the brown people.  It got really, really bad and it was just horrible. 

After church we calmed all the people down, and then Elder Burger and I did our studies and left to go to Paraiso for the church meetings there.  For some reason our driver took a different path to Paraiso and after we had been driving for about an hour, the car's steering broke and the car veered off the road and we veered into a muddy ditch ... and got stuck ... for three hours.   We tried really hard to push the car out of the ditch, but it was so deep it was obvious we weren't going to be able to do it and we weren't going anywhere until a tractor came and pulled us out.  

So, we asked our guide how close we were to Paraiso and he told us we were about a mile away and so Elder Burger and I started to walk because we wanted to get to Paraiso for the meetings and we didn't know how long it would be before a tractor showed up.  Well, we walked, and walked, and walked, and two hours later, we still hadn't arrived in Paraiso and so we turned around and walked back to the car.  Right as we arrived, the tractor showed up and pulled the car out and then we were on our way -- and it's a really good thing we went back to the car because we were really 15 miles away from the entrance to Paraiso ... our driver had flat out lied to us. 

So, we get to the entrance of the city and right before we got in, we got stuck again.  This time it was a 30 minute wait for the tractor, and we ended up actually getting in to the city at 10:00 p.m., we had left Neuland at 3:00 p.m.  We were obviously too late to go to the meetings, so the driver got the steering fixed and then we left Paraiso to return to Neuland.  Luckily on the way home, the roads weren't quite as muddy, but there was one bad part where there were five trucks and three semis that were stuck, and we didn't think we were going to be able to go any farther until the morning, but fortunately there were a bunch of drunk people who were really nice and who were able to push us through.   After a very long day, we arrived back in Neuland at 1:00 a.m. -- it was quite a long and crazy trip for no purpose. Haha.  :) 

So, yeah, this week wasn't a really spiritual week, but we definitely had a lot of crazy things happen that only happen out in the Chaco. Haha. :)  Even though we had a crazy week, I am doing good.  I have a lot of work to do out here in the Chaco, but you know what, I am sure that I can do it. :)

Well, I sure love y'all and I hope y'all have a wonderful week. :)
Elder Turley

 Scenes from the Chaco 

Zone Meeting in Flip Flops
(Can you tell Jon is wearing a new white shirt he got in one of his packages?  It almost glows it is so white).  :)

This car isn't going anywhere soon!!!

On the way home from our crazy trip to Paraiso!

Monday, February 16, 2015

February 16, 2015

Hey y'all --

I hope that all is going well over there in the Newport. Not gonna lie, it was looking like a great week this week -- we have kinda been without rain and so everyone has been like "Y'all are from God, pray with us so that we can have rain," and so we have been praying with them and we received rain, and it has been raining the last couple days so that's good, right? So yeah, we went out this week and we were having a lot of success ... me and Elder Burger are killing it ... we have raised the attendance in our branch a ton since I have been here, and we are just overall doing really well. 

We have a guy out here named F.M. He has been having trouble with the church because the last misson presdent released him from his calling.  So for the last two years F.M. has just been kind of trying to find fault with the branch president and with the missionaries, and so Elder Burger and I have felt that we need to focus on being more like Christ and how to develop the attributes of Christ with him.  Our lessons have been super good and we were finally getting progress with him ... he has made a lot of progress ...  and we thought that maybe this week he would come to church, and other less actives we have been working with would come as well ... we felt that we had finally gotten to them which is an amazing feeling because as missionaries that is what we pray for! 

So Sunday comes and we are stoked (excited) to go to church.  We woke up and got ourselves ready and we went to the chapel.  It was raining super hard and and the lights didn't work and the water was out -- we actually had to fill the Sacrament cups up with the rain water.  Elder Burger and I prepared everything for church and then we sat there and waited ... and waited ... and waited ... NOBODY came -- not ONE person came to church.  It was fetching ridiculous! President McMullin has given Elder Burger and I the authority to direct the meetings if the Branch President doesn't show up, and so Elder Burger and I had Sacrament Meeting! Elder Burger directed and I said the prayer, and then we blessed and passed the Sacrament, and then we both gave talks. After the talks, we sang a hymn and ended with a prayer.  So it was pretty interesting ... no members showed up, but we still got to have Sacrament, so that was cool. 

So after the Sacrament Meeting in Neuland, we were supposed to go out to Paraiso with the Stake President in the afternoon to have church with those members.  So we called the Stake President and asked him when we were going to go, and he said "I postponed my branch this morning because of the rain, so I have to go to my church this afternoon."  So we were kind of confused because we had never really heard of church meetings being cancelled because of a little bit of rain, and so we decided to call President McMullin, and he gave us the permission to go to Paraiso and hold their Sacrament Meeting.  

So Elder Burger and I went to Paraiso and we went to everyone's house and told them we were holding church at 5:00 and asked them to come.  We thought the people would be excited about having church, especially since they thought it had been cancelled, and we really thought we would have a great attendance, but NO, about half of the people we talked to told us "It's raining and we really don't want to go to church today, we will come next week."  Elder Burger and I were super bugged about that because since the members didn't think they were having church, they decided to use the day to gamble and do sports.  They chose to do those things over what they needed to be doing on the Sabbath.  So Elder Burger and I were kind of upset, but we went ahead and prepared the Sacrament and got things all ready.  

So 5:00 rolls around and one of our investigators, E.V., showed up ... and he was the only one!  Then about 20 minutes later, F.M. shows up ... then at 6:00, two more families show up.  At 6:00 we were still waiting for the Branch President to come and preside and we didn't know what was going on and so we called him and told him we were waiting at the church to have Sacrament Meeting.  So we call the Branch President and ask him when he will be there because there were people at church waiting to have Sacrament Meeting, and Branch President says "You know, I am just not feeling church today, so let's just cancel if and have it next week."  At that point, Elder Burger and I tried to explain to the Branch President what his responsibilities were and that he needed to come to the church and preside.  His response was "Yeah, but I am a little tired today and I just want to enjoy my Sunday."  So once again, we called our Mission President, and after he had a good laugh about the whole thing, he gave Elder Burger and I permission direct the meeting, which we did. 

So here, this week, we had done such good work with the members and were so excited to see what our attendance would be, and we had a total attendance of 13.  Elder Burger and I were a bit frustrated, but we got over it -- however, we will definitely be having some intense conversations with the members this week.  

So all in all we had a good week and made a lot of progress, but it all got forgotten because of the rain. I was thinking about how ridiculous this all was because the people have been praying for rain because they need it so badly, but as soon as they got the rain they were like "Yeah, we can't go to church because it's raining."  The people really should have been thanking God for the blessing of rain, but instead they just decided to forgot Him.   I have been reading a lot in Helaman and Third Nephi, and it really is crazy how exact our situation on Sunday was with the people in those chapters.  The "pride cycle" is real, and our Lamanites are in a state of wickedness right now.  One thing I know for sure though from reading the scriptures is that they can and will change.  I just need to keep working super hard with them. :)

Anyway, I hope you all are doing well. I sure love y'all!!!

Love --

Elder Turley 

Filling the Sacrament cups with rain water!!!

Friday, February 13, 2015

February 9, 2015

Hello parents ;) 

So this week was super interesting.  Backing up to last p-day, we were in Abundancia and it was so amazing because I got chips and salsa ... like legit chips and salsa ... it was amazing ... like the Totinos chips and salsa ...  I was so happy ...  it has been way too long since I have had chips and salsa ... I loved it! (Mom's note: I think he really liked having chips and salsa. Haha). Anyway, we stayed in Abundancia until Tuesday then we returned to Neuland.  So the week started out good.  We had a bunch of good lessons, and we were very blessed -- we met a man named Philip -- but more about that in a minute.  

So on Wednesday the day started out a little bit rough, but we went out and did our visits and everything and kept moving forward. At one point, we went over to an investigator's house, but he wasn't home and so we talked to his dad for a little bit. Then we were just walking around and we happened upon a home where apparently the people don't like the missionaries, so the missionaries have typically not visited, but I felt like we should visit and we did talk to the owner for a few minutes and then we went on our way. 

So nothing really out of the ordinary was going on.  But then, we passed by a home and I remembered that I had wanted to purchase a "pen drive" (USB drive) -- it's a third generation and so it will copy things to it and so the missionaries are all trying to get one to hold our music and talks, and right then we were passing by the home where the pen drives were sold.  Last week we had gone by this home, but the guy selling them didn't have any and so he told us to come back this week.  Anyway, so as we walked by this house, I saw that there were lights on and a different guy had just gotten off of the phone, and so I went over to him to ask him if he knew anything about the pen drives.  Well the new guy is actually from Australia and speaks English and does not speak Spanish, so I was like "this isn't a problem ... I speak English," and so I went over and asked him about the pen drives.  He told me his brother was the one selling them and he wasn't home and so we would need to come back another time.

Then out of the blue, the guy said "You all are missionaries, right," and I said "Yes, we are from The Church of Jesus Christ of Later-Day Saints."  Then he invited us into his house.  He name was Philip and he was very friendly and we had a good contact with him.  We talked about the Priesthood and other things, and this guy is super cool -- we ended up talking to him for three hours.  He is 21 and divorced and has a child.  He has had a lot of the same problems that I kind of went through, and so it was super cool to talk to him.  At one point he said "honestly, I have been trying to quit smoking and live a better life, and you guys are the answers to my prayers."  He said that like five times!  It really was a super good lesson ... he is a super cool guy!  And the crazy part about all of it is that it was in English.  It was one of those lessons you have that you know you will never forget.   It really was a miracle that we ended up talking to him, and that I noticed he was home.  And the timing was perfect ... we were going to try to go by there earlier, and his brother might have been home then, but he wouldn't have been.  So we just happened to be there at the exact time he needed us.  There were so many little things that all went "right" that day that led us to meeting him ... like the fact that I spoke English because he didn't speak Spanish, or the fact that we stopped by the man's home who typically didn't like the missionaries and that delayed us a few minutes so we would just happened to pass by this home at the exact time the guy was getting off the phone.  There were just a ton of crazy things that happened so that we would be able to meet this Philip -- really, it was pretty crazy, I'm not going to lie, and I definitely thanked the Lord for the blessing he gave to us to meet him.

So this week, other than meeting Philip, a good thing was that we had a combined total of 85 people in church -- that's Paraiso and Neuland together. We are getting a lot of people to church and that's really good.   The attendance in Neuland has jumped up from 10 people to about 40 people every week.  We are definitely doing work out here. ;) 

Also, mom, I just wanted to tell you that we have been recieving a lot of clothes from Hermana McMullin. The help that you and the moms have been, and the clothes and things you all sent, are really lightening a burden for the Nivacle people." 

So all in all, it was a super good week. ;)

Highlights of the week:

We had 5 investigators in church
I got my hair cut 
I almost killed a kid on a moto, not really "almost"
I ate mac and cheese. 
I ate chips and salsa
We are doing good work with the people out here

I have a feeling that Elder Burger is leaving this next change, and that's going to be hard because it is a little hard to speak German, but I know that it will all work out.  ;)

I love y'all, and now I'll answer the questions.

Elder Turley 


1.  Who are you investigators and how are they progressing?
 We have five investigators -- three of them are ...
Elida -- She came to church on Sunday
Viviana -- She came to church as well
Mirna -- She didn't come to church, but we have a really good feeling about her.

 2.  Who is your favorite person this week? 

3.  What is your happiest moment from this week? 
Chips and Salsa -- all the way 

4.  What was your most spiritual moment from this week? 
Running into Philip 

5.  What was your toughest moment this week? 
There really weren't any hard moments.  In one lesson, the investigators tried to blame everything on the fact that they are different than us and we just don't understand their lifestyle.  That was kind of frustrating. 

6.  What can we pray about for you? 
 That we can keep working with and help Philip

7.  Any special requests in your birthday package? 
Beef jerky ... I don't know ... A full package of 5 Gum

8.  Are you eating well? Getting enough food and water? 
Yes, I eat well enough we cook for ourselves.

9.  How is your health?  Any specific concerns?
I am good for right now ;) 

10.  Have you received any packages from us? 
I have four from you that are sitting in Asuncion, hopefully I will get them soon. 

It's Raining in Paraguay

The only ride way we could get from Neuland to Paraiso for Sacrament Meeting was sitting on chairs on a bed on the back of a motorcycle -- the ride was three hours long and just a little dangerous, but we were protected.   It was so dusty that we covered our heads with t-shirts.

On our way to Paraiso

How we get around ...

Getting my hair cut!

Jon having fun!

Holding an Armadillo

Everyone is fascinated by my Rubick's Cube
With the Children of the Chaco

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

February 2, 2015

Hello parents, how are y'all doing? 

This week was pretty cool, I did some work and stuff -- you know the normal missionary work -- we went out and taught a lot of people. ;)

So this last week we wanted to make sure that we can get the same amount of people to church that we had last week, so we went out and tried to teach all the people that showed up last Sunday, but at the same time worked hard with our investigators. 

It was a pretty good week, we had a couple of really good lessons.  One of the lessons that I will tell you about is the lesson that we had with the Hermano G.   He is a guy who is inactive at the moment, and who we are trying to get a call to in the Elders Quorum.  Unfortunately he can't have a call if he's inactive, so we are trying really hard to activate him. Anyway, we went over to his house with the plan to talk about forgiveness, and the lesson started and Elder Burger started talking to him about that, but then it came to my turn and I really felt like he needed to hear about obedience -- like there was just something that came to me, and so I followed my prompting and started talking about that.  But the cool thing is that when I switched the subject, Elder Burger opened his scriptures and the page he opened to had a really good scripture about obedience, and how sometimes we get mad at God for not giving us blessings, but really it's our disobedience that is making us lose the blessings.  It was a really cool moment because obedience was not what we had really planned, but that's what the Lord wanted us to say and so that's what we did.

But yeah, the week was good. There was a lot of revelation that we needed to get for our Ward.  We are trying to get the ward to grow, and so we prayed and thought about the callings that we can give to members, and it was crazy because both my companion and I would pray and think, and we came up with a lot of the same names for the same spots which was super cool.  It's kind of hard right in our Ward right now because the Branch President doesn't really wanna be Branch President and so we are kind of taking it upon ourselves to go out and make the ward function. It is super hard but we know it is going to all work out in the end.

So Elder Burger and I went to Paraiso this week. It was a long ride. So basically it was a six and a half hour round trip ride out there in a moto carga which is kinda like a motorcycle but with a bed you can sit in. It wasn't comfortable. ;)  But we made it and we didn't have to pay as much as we should have.  It was cool because were praying for a way to make it out there ... and we were given a way ... maybe it wasn't the best or safest way, but  just like Nephi, "I will go and do the thing the Lord commands,"  the Lord commanded and we went and all was well.  It really was a blessing to be able to bless the Sacrament for these people. They are amazing ... It had been a very long time since they had taken the Sacrament because they live out in the middle of nowhere. 

Overall this week was super good. We did work and we got to be the answer to a lot of people's prayers. I have been really trying to get on the good side of the "guy upstairs" because out here we really need to work with His approval and with His spirit. 

But yeah, I was looking at my family history and we are related to everyone, it is freaking crazy how well connected that we are -- it's actually kind of amazing and super humbling.  Sometimes it gets hard out here, but then I remember all the good examples that I have like Hyrum Smith and Theodore Turley (both great grandfathers) and all those people that we are related to, and all of them have given up a ton -- they have even given up there lives for this gospel.  Thinking about them makes me realize that I can give up another year so that I can continue the legacy that my family had the privilege of being such a big part of.

Anyway, y'all are the greatest.  I love every single one of you, even Chantelle although it took me a little while to forgive her for that electricity tragedy --  but you know what I love her anyway (inside family joke).  Thank you all for being such good examples to me.   Like really, y'all are amazing.  I know that whenever I  need anything y'all are there.  I have such a good family -- I know that I chose y'all for a reason.. :) Haha. 

I love y'all :) 

Elder Jonathan Holladay Turley, Jr.

P.S.  I thought dad would enjoy this picture.  We were playing soccer on Monday night, and I looked down and saw this "huge" tarantula.  That's my name tag behind it -- which helps show how big it was -- yes "was", I won!