Hey family --
So this week was kinda super crazy and a couple super cool things happened.
So we were in Filidelphia on Monday for p-day and we stayed until Tuesday.
Tuesday when we got back to Neuland we visited Francisco Martinez. Apparently he has been saying a bunch of weird things to the people of Paraiso which are contrary to what the branch president has been telling them. What we think is that he is trying to take over Paraiso by telling the people a bunch of lies. For instance, he told the people that my companion and I were planning to come to Pariaso mid-week and sleep over there and bring them good things and work with them. Honestly, this would not be a bad idea, but it really is not in the cards right now -- we are struggling enough to get out there on Sundays. Apparently he thinks that if he tells the people we are going to do these good things, and then we don't, the people will turn on us and he will gain power over them. It is really kind crazy, and even after talking with him, we aren't exactly sure what he is doing, but it's been super interesting.
This week we taught a lot of people. One cool thing is that ever since our branch president went through the temple, he has really changed and is focused on sharing the gospel and on getting his extended family converted. Recently he said that his grandmother has been showing interest in being baptized, so who knows ... maybe we will have some baptisms coming up soon. :) That would be super cool. :)
One thing that kinda threw me off guard this week is that we went by the house of a member that Elder Burger and I had just reactivated. As we talked to them, they kind of bluntly told us that the reason there hasn't been much success with the members and why there haven't been any baptisms was because the previous branch president had been buying the new members clothes and paying them to get baptized. He said that before President McMullin came to Asuncion, and when they had their old branch president (way before I got to Neuland), they were having a lot of success -- like one or two baptisms every couple of weeks. He also said that they use to have a lot of activities where there would be food, and so the people would come in order to feed their families. He said that ever since the mission and branch presidencies changed, there hadn't been many baptisms because the people want to wear "rich clothes" when they go to church and they want to church to provide their families food. The man told us that if we start to do those things again we would start to have a lot of success. At this point I thought ... "Hmmm I can definitely have more activities, but I am not willing to buy people clothes or pay for them to get baptized". I figure if I am not getting paid to baptize people, I shouldn't pay the people to get baptized. Haha.:) It's kind of interesting because it all makes sense now. When we have talked with the inactive members, they have told us that they don't come to church because they don't like the branch president because he isn't "doing his job" ... he isn't paying the people to get baptized or to come to church. It definitely makes sense because the only people who really come to church are family of our branch president. That said, I would rather have people come to the church who understand the real reason we have the church, rather than come to eat or to receive donations. Haha. :) Just another interesting story from the Chaco.
So another interesting story from this week ... On Wednesday we had to go to Abundancia to fix the money problems that the branch has been having because apparently they won't give us a computer because they don't know where our money has been going. So I get to Abundancia and I log on to the website where we inform them of what our expenses are (Mom's Note: Jon is the Branch Secretary ... it is only him and the branch president in the branch presidency), and I'm looking at how much money they need records for and I see that we are yet to inform them about 13,000,000 Guaranies -- which is like 2,600 dollars -- and for Paraguay (and more specifically the Chaco) that is a TON!!! So I was trying to figure out what to do because these expenses are way before I got here and the branch had since had an audit and the auditors took all of the receipts and records, and I have no idea what to do and so I just kind of went with it. I informed them of everything I had done since I had been there ... and apparently it worked because our debit card is working again.
So anyway we spent all day Thursday doing that, and we aren't feeling good and we need to get home and the busses aren't running, and so we start walking to the highway to hitch hike home -- and the highway is like a mile and a half away from where we are -- and it starts to rain! So we start walking and a couple of cars go buy and no one will stop. So we keep walking and all of a sudden a van stopped and I looked at the van and was like "no way" ... it was our landlord's van. Abundancia is like 50 miles away from my house, but it just so happened that my next door neighbor (and landlord) was driving down this particular road at this particular time ... so he picked us up and took us home. It was definitely a miracle because it was Mother's Day in Paraguay and so no busses were running, and it had just started to rain and in the rain not many cars go out because of all of the potholes, and our landlord happened to pass by us right at that very moment. Our landlord told us that he usually takes a different route when he goes from Abundancia to Neuland, but that day he thought "I should take a different route today" ... our route! Really, he literally found us in the middle of nowhere! If it wouldn't have been for him, we would have been sick and stranded 50 miles from home in the rain, and that wouldn't have been good. It just goes to show you that The Lord is aware of all the things that are happening in our lives and that He is always helping us! :)
But yeah, this week was a good week. We were able to go with our branch president to visit the family of his wife, and they all agreed to listen to a lesson, and the Spirit was there. It was a little bit different than what we are use to because we went with a couple of Neviclay Indians who could interpret for us, and we were able to give the lesson and to teach them the first principles of the Gospel. So the lesson was good, and after the lesson we asked if there was anything we could do for them, and one of the women asked if I would give her a blessing. :) So my companion annointed and I gave the blessing and the Spirit was there so strongly. It really showed me that even if we don't know somebody, we can still receive revelation for them if we are worthy and doing the right things. I love the opportunity to give blessings because it really helps me think about my P. Blessing where it admonishes me to always be ready and willing to serve with my priesthood when called upon. It's always such a good feeling. :)
So now we are in Filidelphia and all is well. We receive changes tomorrow and that's gonna be interesting to see if I stay or if I go. I think I will stay but you never know. :) It has been a struggle out here as far as the work goes, but things are starting to improve and it would be a shame to have to leave now that things are looking up ... but wherever the Lord wants is where I shall go. :)
I love y'all --