Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Sister Courtnee Wood - Glamorous Life In Aparri

The Sisters in Courtnee's apartment - Sister Richards (on the left) went to Layton High and played soccer with Courtnee on the high school team and now they share an apartment in the Philippines.
Happy February 16th Everyone and 8 months for me! Haha I can’t really believe it, but that’s okay. It has been quite an eventful week it seems like. Sometimes I have to really think about what i should write home about, but then I realize there is so much.
So the update on the creatures in our apartment... For a couple of nights we would wake up to rat poo in the bathroom! It really grossed me out and made me not even want to step foot in there... more than I already didn’t want to! Thankfully that stopped and hasn’t happened for the last few days. So the sticky stuff we have been using to catch mice actually caught one of the geckos... so he has been laying on his back in the sticky stuff for the whole week and is still breathing. Not quite sure what we will do with him. But the dang mice have figured it out, so they just jump over the stuff. Yes I sit and watch them do it. There is this big one that I have to get and I need to go by more powerful stuff hahaha.
This week I randomly got super sick in the middle of the night. So I woke up at 1:44 am and had this stomach ache that was hurting SO BAD!!! I was dying. So I just layed there for a while dying and literally groaning, and then decides I should go to the bathroom. Well then I thought of the rats that could possibly be in there so I didn’t dare. I waited a while and then just though k whatever I am doing it. So I went.... there were no rats thankfully. Then I went back to my room and layed there for a long while just dying and groaning and then I fell asleep. All in all I lost about 3-4 hours of sleep. But when I woke up I was great and have been perfect since! Oh wait other than I think I am allergic to egg plant. I ate a lot of it for the first time, and the next day my throat was messed up and it was all red and it hurt way bad to swallow. I am okay now though! Just no egg plant for me haha.
I got to help some people with english this week. Because for all of them if they want to go abroad and work, they have to have an interview in english with the manager! So I just help them with the basics and pretend I am interviewing them and ask them questions. It is actually pretty fun being the one that knows how to speak the language haha. Its a fun way to do service! This week we also got to help a lady do laundry. These people never want us to help them but finally we got Sister alcantara to let us. We went and pumped water for her and carried it to her house and then we actually washed with her! Needless to say I felt pressured because I don’t know how to wash clothes by hand well, and they needed to be good of course. But no i realized i probably washed a little bit too hard, because my skin is now raw! Okay though, it was a good experience for me haha.
We have a baptism coming up this weekend for Sister Mitch May. She will be getting baptized with her cousins and it is going to be great. We will continue working with her this week and helping her gain a strong testimony.  We have some pretty good investigators right now. One of them is named Ismael and he is in his early 20’s. He has a baptismal date for April 5th and when we extended it, he asked why it was so far ahead, he wanted it sooner! I think it is a good date for him, and it will give him enough time to fully prepare! He has come to church the last two weeks. Speaking of church, we had 6 investigators at church! Such a blessing. Sister Mitch May’s mom even came with her. It would be so great if we could get her baptized as well so that mitch may not only has support from her grandma, but her mom  as well. We are hoping to extend baptism to her this week. The work is going good. I feel like i am learning just as much as we teach these people!
It has been a blast living with Sister Richards haha.  It is fun to talk to someone about BYU and all of the things back home. So between me and her, we should have the update on everything that is goin on in Layton!
And last but not least I AM SO EXCITED TO HEAR WHERE YOU ARE GOING STETSON! I was going to say just be patient with your call, but to know it has already been assigned, I mean nevermind haha. I wanted to tell you that my companion waited 1 year to get her call, and there is a kid in this ward that has been waiting 5 months! If you ask me it is a little ridiculous and they should figure something out, but hey they are faithful and really want to serve the lord, so we should be able to wait whatever amount of time! But thanks for the letter loogy! I sent off a sweet surprise for you!
Well, we have interviews with President tomorrow! I feel like we just did, but i guess it has been 3 months! He is a hoot. It will be fun to see familiar faces that we never get to see out here in Cagayan! I am happy. Though this is the hardest thing in the world. I am happy.
Sister Wood's district

Sister Wood and the local herd

Meat market in Aparri

Elder Zach Taylor - Surprise!

Well, you guys are never going to believe this. The night after I emailed home last time our district leader called us. He told us that he recieved the paper with all the transfers on it and it said that Elder Hemenway and I are staying in Obligado. Well, knowing that the transfer list has been wrong before, and because of the fact that the Assistants had just come all the way to our house the day before just to tell us we would be opening a new area, we called them to see what was going on. One of them answered, and when we asked what was up he said ¨Oh, my companion didn`t call you? Yeah.. looks like we`re having trouble getting a contract for the pension over in the new area so you guys are actually going to stay in Obligado until we can get things figured out.¨ They said they don`t know how long it`s going to take; it could be one week, two, maybe three. And THEN we`ll go open the new area.
With this being my companion`s last change in his mission he was kind of upset that he`d be ending this way, probably spending 3 weeks or less in an area where he doesn`t know anyone. It was kind of disappointing for me because I already had it in my head that I`d be leaving. But así es la misiòn. I guess that`s just how things go sometimes. 
This week wasn`t too bad though. This new lady we`re teaching, Irma, is doing awesome. She`s already been to church twice, we taught her about the restoration last week, and she`s reading the Book of Mormon. We also had 29 people at church on Sunday. Some of them came from the other city in our area, which was surprising but in a good way. 
Some of the members were really happy to find we`d be staying longer..which is good, at least they like us. It`s still really difficult to find people to teach. This one member has a ton of relatives that aren`t members of the church that she told us we could teach. But when we went back to ask her where they live she said, oh they`re not home right now, thank I don`t have to go!.. Seriously?! Sometimes I worry about the attitude of the members here. I hope this place doesn`t just crash and burn once we leave. 
So there`s my eventful week. And maybe I`ll be in a different city next time I email you. Or maybe not...
Elder Taylor

Elder Almen Thorpe - Feb 16, 2014

Hey! sounds like everybody has been having a pretty good week, keep it up I miss you all!! I haven't gotten transferred, still with the same companion, and he got a call from our mission president. He got called up to be a district leader! Really good news and proud of him.   
This week was great, my companion and I went off on a trade off with two other missionaries. I went with Elder Iadkopo in my area. Elder Idakopo is from Samoa. We met up with a girl named Eva who is 21 and in the YSA in our ward and we walked down to one of our investigators house to teach a lesson. The girl we taught is Sabrina, 19 years old. A little bit of background with Sabrina is that she has been taught by seven different missionaries. My companion, Elder Jarnagin and I have been working with her for the past three transfers.
This time going with Eva the YSA girl and Elder Iadkopo, I felt a strong feeling that the lesson we were going to teach her was gonna be really good. All four of us sat under a tree in the shade because it was a hot day. In the middle of the lesson I had a game in mind to do with Sabrina. I had her stand at one end of the  grass and Eva stand on the other end. Sabrina had her eyes closed and had to listen to Eva's voice and directions in order to go through an obstacle that Elder Iadkopo and I put in front of her. While Sabrina had to concentrate really hard on Eva's voice, Elder Iadkopo and I were telling her the to go the other way or just trying to get her confused. At the end she made it to Eva and didn't get hurt (good thing). We all sat back down and started to laugh. I told Sabrina the whole point of doing that game was to show her that when she puts her full focus on Eva she can block anything that is trying to distract her, just like we can use focusing on Jesus Christ when we are trying to block Satan's temptations and other worldly things that surround us. Telling her that when she concentrates and puts her full faith in Heavenly Father in helping her in times of need she can overcome anything that is thrown at her.
I could see that going through that game is what she needed because it showed her that she can do it and it lifted her up. It was great!!!!! Afterwards we had Eva invite her to one of our ward members son's baptism that was happening on the same day. Sabrina went to ask her mom and her mom said it was up to her!! Of course she came!!!! It was a wonderful day. She told me she felt goose bumps as she was watching the boy getting baptized. I could see she felt the spirit working on her. 
It is amazing how we can also block out other temptations in the world when we put our full focus on Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ! When we do, nothing can overcome us as long as we exercise faith and we use our Christlike attributes.
I love being out here everyday, even though time is going by fast I really don't want it to...the fun is just getting started! I miss you all and hope all is going well. Hope you have a wonderful and safe week! 

Elder Thorpe 

Elder Kaden Barlow - Feb 11, 2014

Elder Barlow and his companion, Elder Ponce

Yeah it’s crazy that I have been out five months! Time doesn't seem like it’s flying quite yet, especially when my first few weeks in the field seemed like two years on their own, but time is speeding up now. I can't believe that this transfer is almost over!!

Let’s see... I’ll start with interesting experiences... this week we ran into a Muslim! That was really interesting. So far the religions we deal with are catholic, adventista, and evangelica, so to run into a Muslim? It was really weird. He invited us in though, and spent most his time telling us about how it’s great to learn about other religions and trying to get us to learn more about his but wouldn't even let us get very far into our message.... Kinda frustrating, and I’m glad that I don't have to spend all my time preaching to people as stubborn as this guy was. Also on that note we ran into my first atheist too... who would have thought an atheist here when everyone and their dog believes in Christ. They just really don't know how to have him in their lives but that’s why we come in!
Mageline has been praying about the Book of Mormon. We went over and she said that a stranger at her school came up to her and was like, "I don't know you but two young men gave you a book and it’s true and it will really bless your life. You should pay attention to the things they are teaching you." So not sure who this random guy is (we are speculating that it was one of the three Nephites or John the beloved ;) That’s not apostasy right.... haha) so that is really awesome!! She is really thinking about baptism and she came to church and everything!! Things are going good with her :)

We received the reference from Elder Zivic this week!!!!! HOW COOL IS THAT!!!! This guy that lives in our area is the lobby dude in the building where President Hernandez and Elder Zivic live and they have been talking to him. You can trust a mission president and a member of the 70 to do their homework though. Noe (that’s his name) already has read the restoration pamphlet and a few others and already knows a ton... I’m hoping that this one turns out good because, well, there is a little pressure not to mess this one up haha :)

So two sad stories of the week... I let Elder Ponce give me a haircut, and he does know how to cut hair and it was looking really good. He had to take a phone call and Elder Palomino ran in and grabbed the machine and took a chunk out of my hair and to fix it I had to get, well, a buzz cut... I really don't like it but hopefully in three weeks I’ll look normal again haha. Moral of the story is don't let your comp cut your hair. Also I got dumped this week. We got to Jasmine's house this week to teach her and she wouldn't let us in and told us to get lost, she even tried to give us the Book of Mormon back... kinda stunk.

On the spiritual side I have really come to understand more about, well, I don't know how to explain it... I have realized more that I know how much this message can help the people here. I know it and I want to share it with them. It can help their lives so much!! It’s just frustrating how they won't accept it! I imagine that’s how Heavenly Father feels sometimes when he sees his kids disobeying.

Also I finished the Book of Mormon for the first time in Spanish!!! :) It was so cool reading the whole thing in another language. But it really strengthened my testimony! No matter how many times we read that book I’m sure there is always something that we can learn from it.


Elder Barlow


Elder Christian Tanner - What is with Sweden and people answering the door with no pants on?

Hey everybody! It's me again. I first want to start off by saying that I went to a bakery this week and ate a Semla. It was SOOO good!! It was by far my favorite part of the week. I will probably go and get another one this week. In fact, I will go get another one this week. And I will think of you, Mom! :)
So how is Trollhättan doing? That is a very good question. This week was a rather difficult week. We did not get the results that I was expecting from our Investigators. In fact, we had one investigator (Ramiza) cancel on us twice. That was a little bit frustrating. Especially since she is our most positive investigator. The first time she called us and said her mother was sick and didn't think she could have us over. So, we made another appointment on Saturday. On Saturday we went to her place and she wasn't home. The ward member who referred us to this woman was with us. This ward member is, well, different. She opened up the "Reklam" (I don't know the word in english...) slot and started shouting inside the apartment "ÄR NI HEMMA!?" It was one of the weirdest things I have seen. Well, we get a call from Ramiza later that night and she explained how one of her neighbors saw that woman that was with us shouting in the reklam slot. It scared her, obviously. Nothing bad happened just that the woman was really mad. Now we can't bring that member to our lessons anymore. So, that was one experience that was "off."
All in all, we ended up having only like 5 lessons this week. It was one of the most awful "numbers" week I have had in my mission so far. People just kept cancelling on us and nothing seemed to be going our way this week. And I was thinking about this the other night. Why were were so blessed last week to have such a fantastic week and then this week just extremely awful? I really know, but I think the answer is this. That the Lord just wants to see how we handle different situations. For example, patience. Both areas I have been in have required extreme patience. Maybe, the Lord is teaching me patience so that he can trust me with one of his children who requires a lot of patience. The Lord works in mysterious ways; ways that drive me nuts sometimes. But these experiences are for our good and will only make us better.
On the bright side of this week, we did get one new investigator. The sisters ran into him a few weeks ago and referred him to us. He owns a pizzeria in Drottingtorget (which this week I learned that "Drotting" means "Queen" so the translation of Drottingtorget is "The Queen Square"... kinda cool I thought.) So, when we visit Roger we go to his Pizzeria and talk to him while he works. If we go there in the evening nobody is there so we just sit down with him and talk. Its kinda fun. He gave us free Kebab Rulles the other day. So, it has its perks :) haha.
In order to make this email entertaining, I have to tell you two stories that happened this week. Both of which are incredibly funny. Well, they were for me anyway. One afternoon we come home to make some food for lunch. My companion decided to take the rest of the potato soup. We had no other left overs so I had to figure out what I was going to make. We had chicken, rice, carrots, frozen bags of veggies, Red Thai Chili sauce and such. Perfect. Grill the chicken in with the veggies while the rice is cooking. Then mix it all together and pour the chili sauce on it. That would be good. Well, I was doing great! I was chopping up the chicken, the veggies were starting to grill, the rice was cooking. All was going good. While it was all cooking I got out a piece of bread to butter and put cheese on to eat with my meal. Finally, the chicken and veggies were done. Then I realized that I hadn't touched the rice in a long time. I opened the lid and it was burned . Every last bit. It was all black. I ran over to the sink with it and poured cold water into the pot. Bad idea. There was so much smoke. So much that the fire alarm went off....while my companion was sleeping. HAHAHA. At first, I thought it turned on the fire alarm for all the apartments next to ours too. But then I realized it was just ours. The bottom of the pot is no longer pretty and shinny looking. It is black with little imprints of where some rice got fried to the bottom of the pot. It is a piece of art. I could hang that up in a museum and get a bunch of money probably haha. But yeah, that was kind of freaky.
The other funny story. Well, you kinda had to have been there for it to be funny. We decided one afternoon that we were going to go do some less-active swing bys in an area about 15 minutes away. When we got there, we were able to get into contact with all of them. Which was great. But one house we came to was... well... interesting. We knocked on the door and this guys daughter answers the door. We asked if her dad was home. She called him down. Now this guy comes to the door wearing no pants with a huge grin on his face. And he's eating a carrot. I think he was trying to get us to laugh because after he declined our offer to meet with him, he just stood there. We're walking away and he's munching on his carrot with the cheesiest grin. When he finally closed the door I just busted up laughing. The total number of people who answered the door with no pants on this week: 9. Why, Sweden? Why?
Well, I think that about does it for this week. Have a good week everybody!
Äldste Christian Tanner

Friday, February 7, 2014

Sister Courtnee Wood - New Area, New People and Ancient Computers

Sister Wood and her darling investigators

Wow I am typing this email on an ancient computer with slow internet, so I am of course really happy! J It has been a long week actually! I mean with the whole transfer and stuff. But really good. It has definitely been the most humbling week of my mission so far. Which is a good thing! Its been a week of a lot of learning. I was too used to things in Laoag, and thought I could do it all! Haha then that is when you are cut down and start from the ground again! The thing I have thought about this week is the Mormon message about the farmer pruning the bush. Haha that is exactly how I have felt. Right when I was growing and thought I was good at tagalog and at teaching and basically everything, I need to get cut down and grow again. I know that God has to cut us down or prune us so that we can grow up again into the person he wants us to be! It is such a humbling experience, but I know that going through it will help me become a better missionary and be the person he wants me to be! So my new companion is so great. Her name is Sister Bacalla from the southern Philippines. We get along so well, and she is helping me out so much with the language, and basically everything. Our area is Aparri, which is right along the ocean. So yeah it is pretty sweet. It is a VERY poor area. But I already love it. It definitely feels like I am in a whole new country though haha. 
My companion goes out to the beach with me in the morning and we exercise. Yes, it is awesome. Our apartment is not what I expected it to be, but it isn’t bad! It is just old. It doesn’t look nearly how it is from the outside. But I will tell you that in 10 minutes we saw two mice run across the floor, killed 1 large spider, and 1 giant cockroach. Not to mention that yesterday morning I woke up and rolled out of bed to pray, and there lays a dead  big cockroach in my bed.  Yeah I am sure you can guess my reaction. I couldn’t believe it. It had been in there when I was sleeping!!!!!!!!!! Don’t ask how, cause I don’t know. But I had even sprayed my sheets with permethrin!!! Today we are buying mouse traps and all sorts of stuff. On the flip side, we will be moving at the beginning of march! To a brand new apartment that is so cute! Basically just like the one in laoag! Has a spiral staircase too J So that is something to look forward to amongst all the grossness haha! I don’t know how I get so lucky with these brand new apartments! I will send photos of our “bathroom” next week.  The work up here is going good. It is so different, but the people are so great! SO SO GREAT. There are some great potential baptisms coming I just know it. Haha this week we worked so hard to invite as many  people to church as we could. Well as you can see in the picture that the only people who cam e to church were  children that we hadn’t even formally invited hahaha. So yeah sacrament meeting was basically babysitting! Its okay though, I love the kids here.
We have a baptism on February 22 for a young girl named mitch may. It was her that was the one that brough all of her young friends to church! She is so cute. I love talking to the kids because they are the only ones I can understand and can talk to haha! I am so grateful for all of the things I am learning in this area. With my awesome companion. We just started a new planner, so that is my 5th or 6th I think and for February I am writing in it in all red. Nothing else.  J Happy February! My almost favorite holiday is soon! I know that this church is true, I know that this is God’s work, and I am so lucky to be able to serve him. 
love sister wood!
Locals Drying Fish

Elder Christian Tanner - Blessings in Trollhättan

Hey everybody.

This past week has been incredible. We are being so blessed right now it just blows my mind. On Tuesday we were going to meet with one of our investigators whom we haven't had contact with in over a month. We finally got an appointment to meet with him, but when we went over to his place, he was sick. He could not meet. That was the only appointment we had that day. We had nothing else planned. We decided we were going to go by a less-active who lives by us. So we walked back up to the bus stop just to realize that we missed it by 2 minutes. We would have to wait half an hour for the bus to come, or we could walk. We decided to walk. About half way back to the ReseCentrum I had a thought to go see if Selim was home, as he lives close by. Selim is an investigator who works two jobs and can NEVER meet. He is always so busy. And he's not even that positive. He just likes Americans. At first, I just disregarded the thought. Then I thought it again. So, we went. Just as we were approaching the door to his apartment building we saw him carrying a bunch of groceries from his car. He was really surprised to see us. We helped him carry in his groceries and he invited us in. He had 2 hours until he had to go work his second job. So we sat there and talked for about an hour. We were able to get off the subject of "America" for about 15 minutes and teach him a little bit about the Plan of Salvation. He told us that he would like to come to church but that he's so busy every Sunday that he cant. But, if he had time one week, he would go. He is from somewhere in the middle of Europe. He has a house there and he invited us to come stay with him and he will take us around the country for free. Haha. I think its like Cosivo or something (And i have no idea how its spelled). It was just really fun to follow a prompting and have a small amount success come from it. The rest of the day something just seemed to happen and we were busy the entire day. It was cool.

Saturday was awesome! I can't tell you how awesome it was. I was almost in tears of joy at the end of the night. There is a member named Ann-Marie. A few weeks ago she approached us in church and told us about this woman she met at the Svenska Kyrkan. We attempted to find her many times, as she was interested. But we never could find her. On Thursday Ann gave us a call and said that she had her number and better directions to where she lives. She lives 2 bus stops away from our apartment so it was easy to find. So, on Saturday we go by to try and find her again. This time, we found her! And let me just tell you that she is SO prepared. Her name is Ramiza or something like that - not from Sweden but speaks very good English and Swedish. She talked about how she just wants to come closer to God. She reads scriptures every night and prays every night. She just wants the best for people and is so concerned for everybody. We gave her a Book of Mormon and she was super excited about it. We told her that if she went to the bus stop at 10:30 on Sunday morning she would see us on the bus and that she could come to church with us. (she had tried to find the church before.) Unfortunately something came up and she couldn't come on Sunday. We do, however, have a lesson with her on Thursday. Later that night after we visited Ramiza we decided we were going to get some contacts by knocking some apartment doors down the road. After only 15 minutes of tracting, we knocked on a door of a family who is a member of the Pingts Kyrkan (The Pentecostal church). We introduced the Book of Mormon to them and said we would like to talk more about it with them. It was just her and her husband who lived there with their new-born daughter. She took the book out of my hands and just started examining it.

"When can you come back?" She said. "Tomorrow at 6?"

We said that would work great! So we went on our way feeling awesome! Just a few minutes later we knocked another door of a guy who belongs to the Orthodox church. He invited us in. That was weird. After we sat down he says:

 "How long have you guys been out?" Both of us said "about six months." And then he responded "oh. so you only have a year and a half left." We were like....what? how do you know that? He wouldn't tell us much about himself. I wanted to know more. Just out of the no-where I asked him if he would be baptized when he found out that our church is true. He responded with "Oh. I already know it's true. I investigated your church 15 years ago. I read the Book of Mormon and believe it. I just can't change my religion because my family has been in the Orthodox church for generations. But, I have a daughter who is Mormon." That was most certainly NOT the answer I was expecting. It was better, obviously. He have an return appointment with him later this week. He WILL get baptized if its the last thing I do! Haha. I don't remember his name right now, though. He's from some weird place.

So now its Sunday. We had the return appointment with that family. We expected it to be just her and her husband. When we got there, we sat down on the couch and person after person kept walking into the room. Before I could blink the apartment was filled with people and I had no idea how many hands I had just shaken. I sat down and counted how many people were in the room. 13. 13 people! The most I have ever taught in one sitting that is NON member is maybe...2? At the most. I was quite scared. It was really intimidating. Apparently she had her Dad, Mom, 4 siblings, Uncle, Aunt and their 3 kids all come and listen to us. They had SO many questions about the Bible. I had no idea about some of the questions. But we talked about the Book of Mormon and how it goes hand and hand with the Bible and how it can bless the lives of everybody who reads it. We taught the lesson really well, actually, but it didn't turn out as well as we had hoped. They decided that they just wanted to stick to the Bible for now and they would call us when they are ready for a Book of Mormon. It was devastating! I had sat in that room for an hour imagining all these people dressed in white ready for baptism. All of them are so prepared and so ready for the Gospel! I truly hope one day they will realize the need of living prophets and the Book of Mormon. It was a crazy experience to teach such a big group of people all at one time. I think I prefer next time to do it in smaller groups. It's easier to address questions and have more focus with them.

 This next thing that happened was actually on Friday. Last week we received a text-referral from A guy named Turki Al-ashaab was interested. A Muslim, no doubt. We went by his apartment last week but found out it was port-coded so there was no way of getting in. We had plans to go by again, but had not done it yet. Anyway, on Friday we were on our way home to do some weekly planning after an appointment with a member. We decided we were going to swing by our Investigator Muhammad before we went home and see how he was doing with reading his Book of Mormon. When we got there, he invited us in and explained he didn't have the book because he gave it to a friend who is really interested in Mormons. We gave him a new one and he said he would continue to read it. About half way through, he just kinda stood up and said "hey, I will call my friend and have him come over and talk with us." Few minutes later he came back and said that his friend was going to come pick us up and take us to his apartment to talk. It kinda freaked me out. He showed us a picture of his friend. A huge Muslim with a gigantic beard. I thought "oh no. We are going to die. They are going to kill us." But we met his friend and he was a nice guy. As we were driving to his apartment, he said his name was Turki. Wait a second? What? The same guy we tried to find last week? It sure was. Our investigator referred us to a referral from last week. That was weird. But it was the Lord helping us. Turki is from Iraq or something like that. He is the equivalent of a bishop in the Muslim religion. He has a congregation and he is investigating our church! Haha. I guess he is also writing a book about Mormons from a Non-subjective point of view, which is pretty cool. He is really impressed with our religion because of the things that we believe in. Such as word of wisdom,etc. This is a side note but I want to write it before I forget. When we were at Turki's place, his wife gave us this lemon-milk drink that was SOOO good! It was like squeezed lemon with a creamy milk. I just had to write that. Anyway, we sat in his place for 2 hours answering all his questions. He had is friend there translating for us. Turki spoke in Arabic and his friend translated to English for us so that we could both use our native tongue. It was really neat. It was a taste of what it WOULD be like serving in the Middle East (maybe one day?).

The last thing I want to write is this: Between the sisters and us, we have 14 Investigators. It is driving the ward nuts! We had a fast yesterday for missionaries and missionary work. So many of the ward is so happy with the fact that they have missionaries who are working hard and love the work (for years Trollhättan hasn't had the best reputation with missionaries...). One lady was overwhelmed and expressed how she felt about missionary work. She has a whole new view of missionary work that she has never had before. It is the most wonderful thing to see how members can change over such a short time. Trollhättan is going t be doing a lot of baptizing over the next few months. I have so much faith and I pray everyday that we will baptize many of Gods children this month. I hope it is His will.

There is so much I could write but I just don't have time! I hope you all enjoyed this email as much as I enjoyed this week....although that is highly unlikely. I will respond to all your personal emails. Love you all and have a good week!
 Äldste Christian Tanner

Elder Zach Taylor - Week 5 in Obligado


This week was better than last. We started out the week on Tuesday with going to Encarnación again... just so the nurses of the mission could tell us some more information that could have easily just been emailed to us. But oh well, I was only low on money because of the trip for a couple days.
On Thursday I had the opportunity to go to Natalio, the area of my district leader, on splits! I was with my leader´s comp, Elder Worthington. He´s newer to the mission than I. It was actually kind of cool being the missionary with more experience for the first time. I got to help him a little bit with his Spanish and teaching and everything. We also tried teaching English to a group of young women in the branch over there. It was a lot harder than I thought... and the weirdest thing ever trying to teach your own language to someone else. I´d say, alright, I means yo, you means vos, we means nosotros, his, her, they, etc.. and they´d just stare at me. We ended up doing something apparently more simple, colors, numbers, and random vocabulary words. And we learned some more Guaraní words while we were at it. It was fun, something I´d do again in a heartbeat.
While we were there in Natalio we met this random Jehova´s Witness missionary that knows English. It was kind of fun talking to him. He didn´t want to accept one of our pamphlets when we tried giving him one, but Elder Worthington was persistent enough that he eventually took one.. I doubt he´ll want to read it, but you never know. On the bright side my comp and our district leader found 6 new people to teach in our area! The good stuff always happens on splits, I swear.
So we have this ice cream place here in Obligado that I kid you not tastes just like American ice cream. We went there when I got back after splits and got milkshakes. It was like I walked into the states for a few minutes. SO GOOD.
Something I´ve noticed this week that I actually like about this area and that may be part of the reason I was sent here: I fit in really well with the people. They´re all really relaxed, not too outgoing, and they actually appreciate my relaxedness. I feel bad because my companion´s really outgoing and he feels like the people just think he´s weird.. but at least I know now that there are people, even in Paraguay, that appreciate someone with my personality. 
In my studies this week I´ve been reading Jesus the Christ a lot. I´m on chapter 20 now.. it´s so good! You all need to read it.
Saturday was kind of a mess.. We went to Trinidad all day with this guy Justo that lives over there. He was showing us around to some of the less actives and his sister that´s not a member yet. Justo´s really weird.. he talks a LOT and kept saying puretaso!! Which is just like saying awesome... and he took us to the main road to wait for the last bus back to Obligado, which supposedly leaves at 5. But my companion and I both know that the bus schedule is messed up here and it always leaves like a half hour before that. We got to the road at about 5 exactly, and then Justo left. We soon realized that the last bus had already left... and we would have to wait for one of the big ones that runs from Encarnación. We thought that the bus wasn´t even going to come for a while and my comp tried hitch hiking. No one took us though.. and my comp´s hand got pooed on by a bird while waiting. After an hour and a half a bus finally came. We couldn´t help laughing at how bad our luck seems to be here. There´s always gotta be something like that that happens to us.
Anyway, there´s my week in a nutshell. A lot more fun and a little more successful than the last. Talk to you all later!
Elder Taylor

Elder Almen Thorpe - February 2, 2014

Elder Thorpe
Ninja Ties

Hey!! so this week went by fast! 

   This weekend on Saturday my companion and I had a service project for Danny and Bionca! It went great. About eleven or so people in our ward showed up to help out on the project. Danny and Bionca had a pretty decent pile of trash in their backyard. We decided to help them move their trash, mow their laws, clean their driveway, and pick weeds! I know this might sound weird but I miss doing weeding and mowing the lawn. It  felt really good to be back into working mode.
Brother Taula, who is the president of the Elders Quorum was there to help us with half our Elders Quorum. It was great to see them all there to help us out. I could tell that the members were there to make Danny and Bionca feel comfortable. My companion and I were able to only stay there for an hour.....(oh, by the way this service project was in the morning at eight) we were sad because we wanted to stay for awhile but in our white hand books, the rule says that we are only allowed to stay at service projects for an hour. The rules are from our mission President. He not only comes up with the rules but we have to get permission from him if we are doing a project like this.
Later on that day we went back to Danny and Bioncas house to see if the job got done, and wow, did it look great! The members did a great job at taking care of everything. The house doesn't even look like their house. It looks like a brand new house, not only did it look good but going through this experience with Danny and Bionca really got us close to them. Our ward mission leader (brother Latu) told us that Danny and Bioncas daughter Jade, during the service, came up to him and said "I want to be baptized". Wow, hearing a thirteen year old girl saying that without being shy!!!! We are going to go back and talk to Jade, Bionca and Danny to see when Jade wants to be baptized. Jade's mom, Bionca also wants to be baptized really badly but we want them to get baptized when Danny and BIonca are married. Danny is a less active in the church but we can't have them living together without being married because of the law of Chastity. I have dealt with marriage this is hard work just helping these two to realize that marriage is essential to Heavenly Fathers plan. 
We had a talk with Danny and BIonca before the service project about marriage. At first it didn't start off too well but my companion and I held in there and had faith that Heavenly Father would help us in this situation, and before you knew it Danny and BIoncas feelings towards the whole this changed fast!! We told them that having contention between the family is part of Satan's work. He wants us to feel that anger towards each other and not feel that peace at home. As soon as we told them that, their feels towards each other changed. They smiled at each other and ever since that conversation their attitudes towards each other and around the house have totally changed.
It's amazing how the Lord can help us in situations like these, Just build your faith in him and he will help us all the way. There's a scripture in Alma 32:21 that's about faith, it says that we don't have to have a perfect knowledge of faith, all we need to do is have that desire to have Heavenly Father to help us. My faith has seriously grown and being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ Of Later Saints is the best!
Love being here on my mission and helping those who are in need. This Sunday was fast and testimony meeting and I went up and bore my testimony! My heart was beating hard but I had to say what I needed to say and that was that missionaries can't do missionary work without the ward members. No one in the church is higher than anyone. We are all the same, we help each other, we enjoy being ourselves and most importantly we are happy to know that our lives are on the right path as we take everyday to improve ourselves. 
There was a lady that got baptized in our ward. She said the coolest thing. She noticed that the bishop and his counselors eat with plastic spoons and plastic cups, just like everyone else. She then cried because back in her old church, the ministers would all need special cups, special seats and such but not in the Church of Jesus Christ Of Later Saints because we are all the same we love one another. I just wish some of our investigators could see that as the she did then they would see what the truth is for them. Its been hard to get investigators to come to church, but my companion and I won't give up until they come and join us. We are going to try everything we know to bring them to church. We have about fifteen people we are teaching right now, so we have a lot of work to do before transfers, a lot of new investigators and a lot of old ones, wish us luck!!! SAVING SOULS WEEEEEEEKKLLLLY!!!
LOVE YOU ALL!! And miss you all. Hope the week is great! Elder Thorpe

Elder Christian Tanner - Hope, Hard Work and Being Tired

We have been so busy the past few weeks that it feels like the weeks are turning to days and we just take a nap for a few hours at night. I feel like my eyes weigh 100 pounds constantly. It doesn't matter how much sleep I get, I am always exhausted. I always knew it would be tiring to come on a mission, but not this bad. I remember in my interview with the stake president he said: "You are going to be so tired. It will be the most tired you will have ever been in your life. Yet somehow, you will want to keep working." And it is so true. So true.

This past Sunday was great! It felt like everybody wanted to talk to us. We have been trying to do splits with some of the ward members for a long time now. In fact, it has been a long time since anybody has gone on splits with the missionaries here. And by a long time I mean about a year. A brother came up to me after Priesthood and said "Wednesday. 6:00. Splits. Can you come?" Looked on the schedule, yep we can come. After Sunday school he came up to me again. "How about we meet earlier on Wednesday and you, me and your companion can go visit an investigator or less-active before we do splits?" (We just got offered a member-present lesson without even asking anybody!!?? What is this?) Then, after sacrament meeting he came up behind my companion and I and put his arms over us and said "Do you remember how to get to my house? How about before we even go visit a less-active member, you come to my house for lunch? Then we'll go visit people." Never before have I experienced anything like that. Its so great. There was another member who never could figure out how to get onto his account. So, we helped him out with that, now he loves us. He was just all excited to see us. Now our dinner schedules is filling up more and more. Its awesome!

Each month we, as a mission, choose a Christ-like attribute from Preach my Gospel and work on that attribute. For January I chose Hope. It was a good one for me to choose. I have really needed a lot of hope over the past month. I have had to have a lot of hope with Trollhättan. I had to hope that the Lord would help us. I have had to hope that we would find. I had to hope that we would teach. I had to hope that we gain trust with the members. And it was good! I can definelty say that I have grown from learning to hope. But, more than hoping is hard work. There is no substitute for hard work. Nothing happens with out hoping and working hard.

I have reason to suspect that this transfer I am transferring to Stockholm as District Leader. Let me tell you why. Thomas texted me this week and asked if I was still in Trollhättan. He heard that I was in Stockholm. I haven't set foot in Stockholm since my first day here. So, it could be possible. And also, we had interviews with President Newell this week. In fact, he picked us up in his car and drove us to Göteborg. We had companionship interviews in the car. It was really awesome to spend some "quality time" with President Newell. We usually see him for a few minutes at a time. This was a WHOLE 45 minute drive. I loved it. Anyway, when we got to Göteborg we had personal interviews. He told me "Make sure you're still being obedient. We need obedient District Leaders." It caught me off guard, actually. It would LOVE to go to Stockholm as a District Leader. That would be SO awesome! So I am kinda anxious to see if he calls on Saturday to see if I am getting transferred.

Also this week I went on splits with our current district leader, Elder Simmons. We ended up discussing some way deep doctrine. I love those conversations. It kinda drives me nuts but it definitely strengthens my testimony that this church is not man made. There HAS to be a God who loves us.  
So yeah. That's about what I can think about to write. I hope everyone has a very nice week. Love you all lots.

Äldste Christian Tanner


Elder Kaden Barlow - The Chapel Has Glass Windows!

Elder Barlow and Elder Rivera

Elder Barlow and Elder Shimamoto with the Perez family
Well this week has had its ups and downs like every week in the mission. After I sent the letter last week I headed out to say good bye to the special people that I had met in Santa Cruz. I never realized how much I actually was going to miss these people until I was leaving! The next day I finished packing and then got in the neighbor’s truck to head to my new area.

I live in a house with four missionaries. My comp is Elder Ponce from Taylorsville, Utah. Both his parents are Mexican so he speaks fluently. The other missionaries are Elder Palomino de Nicaragua and Elder Marin de Mexico. They are all cool missionaries and fun to be around. Elder Palomino the District Leader is really cool. He always does language study with me because he wants to learn English so we switch off every other day between English and Spanish. I have already learned a lot more Spanish being in a house with three Latinos. I can understand everything really but now I’m starting to be able to speak without thinking very much. Also Elder Marin sorta gave me the nickname: flaco or skinny. Now they all call me that and sadly I answer to it... in English or Spanish.... its kinda funny.

The house is so much better than the last... never anything loud and we have a great roof with a nice view of the stars haha. This morning I went out there to study. The house has lights and stuff so I don't use my headlamp as much... it’s weird to be in a bedroom with light and everything. We also have a doorbell... yep weird too. I haven't seen any lizards actually... just a huge! I mean huge bigger than normal cockroach that tried to eat me.... its dead now though!

Some random things I found... different... The chapel has glass windows!!! Haven’t seen that in a while and a great great air conditioning system... I’m always freezing there. The ward is awesome—full of members wanting to work, and we have already had a consejo de barrio [ward council] and a correlation meeting! Cool huh! There are six missionaries in the ward because it’s huge!

Also there is this less active family that we are visiting. Well the guy Ricardo, the dad, is less active; his wife, Vascilia, and their daughter, Alba, aren't members. But I have never seen a less active like him having so much animo![enthusiasm] We gave him a Book of Mormon because he didn't have one we came back two days later and he had read up to half way through Second Nephi! Vascilia also is reading and Alba, too!! The other night we were over there and he invited five neighbors over to listen to us!!! We almost didn't know what to do. There were lots of people! But we taught for an hour and they asked a ton of questions and we got some new investigators out of it and it was a cool experience!

So we contacted this girl Mageline about a week and a half ago. Anyway we go back to teach the first lesson and we teach her about up to Joseph Smith and then her mom walks in and she is super evangelical. Anyway she starts bible bashing saying that there wasn’t an apostasy and all this stuff but then this girl turns around and gives her mom a boche and tells her she doesn't know what she is talking about! It was so cool! Elder Ponce and I just looked at each other trying not to smile! She then came to our English class and church Sunday and we put a baptismal date last night (I got to invite her and set the date!!!! yipee!! haha) anyway if everything continues like it is the 22nd of February should be a good day.


Elder Barlow