So yeah this week was a little bit hectic.
As you all know I have been 21 for a week, and as a newly turned 21 year old I thought to myself ... "Hmm what would be a funny picture to send to the family," and then I thought "Hmmm I am going to go to a gas station and take a picture with a beer can as a joke (because now I am legal to drink beer in the United States)". Right after I thought that though, I quickly realized that holding a beer can as a joke wouldn't be the best idea because as you know, I have a name tag that says "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints," and I don't think it would be very good press for the Church to get a picture of me holding a beer can for my 21st birthday. So instead of a joke picture for my birthday, you get the responsible action of a more mature son. :) I figured y'all would like it if I was more responsible. Haha. :) (Mom's note: It's so exciting to me that he has grown to know that it is important to think before you act -- hooray)!!!!
But yeah, so this week was a little bit stressful. It turns out the community thinks that we, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, aren't hard working because we don't give them donations of food or clothes like the Mennonite church, and so they are mad at us. We have been working with the people on this and trying to help them understand that they need to do all they can and obey the Lord's commandments and the Lord will provide for them.
Also, as you know we have been having a lot of problems with the people out here and getting them to church, and when they do come to church they tend to fight with each other. So this week we have been trying to reach out to the people and help them have a change of heart and to start loving one another. It's frustrating because between our two areas (Neuland and Paraiso) we have about 130 members. Out of the 130, we have like 20 people who come to church regularly. What is amazing though is that the 20 who come to church are really solid and are paying tithing and doing all they can. Unfortunately, the other 110 are very difficult. I love them, I am just not sure what I can do to help them at the moment.
For instance, we have a Primary President who is a recent convert, and it was so exciting to call her to this position because she was going to learn a lot about the church through her service to the people and to the children. We thought that would be a great call for her because she would be teaching the basics of the gospel and at the same time, learning more about the basics. But it turns out that one of the families in our branch doesn't like her and they are mad that she is the Primary President. The other day, they actually called her a prostitute to her face. The Primary President is really the coolest person, she is a single mom who is doing her best, but because she is a single mom, the members don't like her. Anyway, now she is all flustered about the church and didn't come this week because she is scared that when she goes to church the people are going to yell at her and call her names.
So I got thinking about how we could help the Primary President do the things that she needs to be doing, and I thought that if she had a friend at church it might make her feel more comfortable coming to church. So my companion and I went to visit a woman who was similar in age to the Primary President, but who is inactive. We figured this would not only help the Primary President, but also help the woman come back to church. Well, while visiting this woman, we were shocked to hear that she can't be friends with the Primary President because she heard a rumor that the Primary President is a lesbian and all the women in the area are scared of the Primary President hitting on them.
I have honestly been so shocked about all the things that have been going down in the ward, and it really bugs me, but I know that I am here for a reason and that I need to be patient and the answers will come. Luckily for me, I have a lot of patience, right? Haha. :) (Mom's note: I am so thankful that Jon has a patient, loving, kind personality, I have no doubt that he will figure out exactly what to do to unify these people.)
So yeah, we are trying to work with a couple of people on their baptisms, but don't really have anyone that is really progressing right now. I would have to say that my focus right now is a lot on the members and helping them learn to love one another -- we will see how that works out. :)
But yeah, so the funny story of the week ... So yesterday, Sunday, we went out to Paraiso to hold Sacrament Meeting there. It took us an hour to get out there, and as soon as I got there I realized that we had forgotten to bring the bread for the Sacrament. So I went around to all the members to see if any of them had bread, and no one did. About then, it started to rain hard, and I realized that if I were to try to go somewhere to get bread, I wouldn't be there for Sacrament Meeting, so I was trying to figure out what to do. All of a sudden it came to me that I have candy!!! So I look up the scripture D&C 27:2 about the Sacrament and it says that it doesn't matter what you use for the Sacrament, as long as you bless it in the name of Christ and do so in the right mindset.
For, behold, I say unto you, that it mattereth not what ye shall eat or what ye shall drink when ye partake of the sacrament, if it so be that ye do it with an eye single to my glory—remembering unto the Father my body which was laid down for you, and my blood which was shed for the remission of your sins.
Well the Stake President happened to be at the meeting, and so I went up to him and told him that I didn't have bread and there wasn't any way to get any, but that I did have candy. I then showed D&C 27:2 to him and asked him if it would be okay to use my candy as the bread, and he said it would be just fine. So yeah, I blessed candy for the sacrament. The sacrament prayer went like this "Oh God the Eternal Father, we ask Thee in the name of Thy son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this candy for the souls of all those who partake of it ..." It is interesting to be in the Chaco, and the things we have had to do to improvise -- rain water for the sacrament water, candy for the sacrament bread, but what's interesting is the Spirit is always there and it is the same. I have definitely had experiences out here that I don't think I will ever forget. :)
But yeah, I sure love y'all. I am very happy to be here. It is a little difficult, but I know that with faith and patience I will be able to help these people. No igual no mas!!!
Jon loves dogs and has expressed frustration over how poorly the dogs are treated in Paraguay, and how most of them have fleas and seem to be so miserable.
Jon is always so happy and has the best attitude!
Jon's name tag in German. He now has one in Spanish, Guarani, and German. Funny thing, he tried to get one made in English, but was told he couldn't get one because they don't speak English in his mission. :)