Monday, January 26, 2015

Allegory of the Cave

Saludos a todos!

Since arriving in Paraguay, I`ve had a lot of adventures.  I got pegged squarely in the back of the head with a water balloon (nice shot, kid!).  My companion and I joked that a water balloon is at least better than half chewed mashed potatoes.  My neck is now a vibrant shade of red, thanks to the lovely Paraguayan sun.  And my self esteem is on a record high, since every man I pass feels the need to compliment my beauty.  Thanks, guys!  Haha, the mission is great!

I was thinking this week about Plato's Allegory of the Cave.  He talks about men held prisoners in a dark cave, where the only world they know consists of distorted shadows and echoes.  Imagine taking a prisoner out of the cave and exposing him immediately to the brilliant midday sun.  The light would blind him!  He would cry out in pain and beg to return to the dark cave that is his home.  But eventually, he would adjust to the light.  He would begin to see the beautiful world.  And he would realize that the world is so much more than distorted echoes and shadows.  He would be so excited that he would run back to the cave to tell his friends.  But they would not be able to comprehend him, because to them, he would appear to be just one more of many distorted shadows and echoes.

That's how the gospel is.  So often we talk with people here in Paraguay, and they feel the Spirit, or in other words, they are exposed to the light.  It seems the automatic response here is oh, I already have my church.  I'm Catholic.  They cringe away from the light because at first it is frightening and uncomfortable to them.  But if they would just stay long enough to adjust to the light and see the beauty that the light brings, they would be so happy!

Absolute truth exists.  And it is glorious and beautiful and brilliant.

Hermana Watts

Short Video of Plato's Allegory of the Cave:

Monday, January 19, 2015


¡Saludos de Paraguay!

I had quite the adventure travelling to Posadas, but I am finally in my mission!  (YAY!!)  My first area is a city called Encarnación, which is right across the river from Posadas.  It's the closest a missionary can be to Posadas without actually being in Posadas.  Which means I'm not in Argentina anymore, I'm in Paraguay!  And everyone here speaks Guaraní.  Actually, being so close to the border of Argentina, everyone speaks Castellano, with a few Guaraní words thrown in here and there.  The language is crazy!  My first day proselyting I had no idea what anyone was saying.  Everyone speaks so quickly and the accent takes some getting used to.  But after a few days, I've become somewhat accustomed.  I can now understand people about 62% of the time.

My trainer is darling!  Her name is Hermana Sorenson and she is from Springville, Utah (la fábrica).  She is so cute.  Every time she introduces me to someone, she tells me, "____ is one of my favorite people ever!"  We get along great, and she really knows what she's doing.  She's been in the mission a little over a year.

I love this city!  (But it is super HOT!! Fortunately we have air conditioning in our pension.)  There are so many flowers and trees and green things here!  And the people are wonderful.  Everyone is so friendly and warm and welcoming.  In a lot of ways, Paraguay reminds me of Mexico.  But it's its own city.  I can't wait to show you pictures (once I figure out how to work these computers haha).
Shout-out to my father, who will be celebrating his birthday on Wednesday!
I want to end with my new favorite scripture, Mormon 5:23 - "¿No sabéis que estáis en las manos de Dios? (Know ye not that ye are in the hands of God?"  With God on our side, we can do anything!

Love you all!

Hermana Watts

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Travel Adventure

I am safely in Posadas.  I left Provo with a group of some 15-20 missionaries all going to Argentina.  A lot were actually going to Neuquén, where Sam served.  (Speaking of, did you know Neuquén is a palindrome?  I just realized that the other day!)  But only the four of us, Elder Russell (de Idaho), Hermana Marvian (de Vegas), Hermana Woolf (de Arizona), y yo, were going to Posadas.  We had quite the adventure getting here.  We lost our companion in Atlanta and our luggage in Buenos Aires.  But everything is working out.  We got our luggage back this morning, and the mission president just this second is leaving to collect our companion. 

So here's the story:  As we were boarding the plane in Salt Lake City, the flight attendants practically begged the passengers to check their larger carry-on bags.  Hermana Marvian and I both had heavy bags that were just full of books, so we were eager to get rid of them.  At the last second, Elder Russell decided to check his bag also.  When we arrived in Atlanta, we went to check in for our flight to Buenos Aires.  That's when Elder Russell realized that he didn't have his passport - it was in the bag he had checked at the last second.  He explained the problem to the people at the check-in desk, and they agreed to go look for it.  But they couldn't find his bag in time, so they couldn't let him on the plane.  Per instruction, we had to leave him behind.  The whole situation didn't make sense to me, because we had to wait for them to pull his checked bags off the plane anyway, so why couldn't they just let him on once they found the bags?  It was so bizarre.  I guess God must have needed him to stay behind in Atlanta for some reason, because there should not have been any problem in finding his passport and getting him on the plane.  I'm excited to talk to him once he returns with President LaPierre and see what happened after we parted ways.
The rest of us made it to Buenos Aires in one piece, but then we had to wait four hours for our luggage.  A little voice kept announcing on the loudspeaker, "Debida a las condiciones meteorologicas..." Due to the weather, there will be a delay in baggage.  It was raining.  I don't know why they aren't equipped to handle rain.  Anyway, because we had to wait so long for our bags, we were late to our flight to Posadas.  An hour late, to be precise.  Somehow the airplane still had not left.  We checked our bags and practically ran through security to catch the flight.  We made it onto the plane, but our luggage did not.  So we arrived in Posadas with just our carry-on luggage.  Fortunately I had thought to pack an extra dress in my carry-on in case of just such an event.  But our luggage came in on the next flight, and the elders picked it up for us this morning.  Thank goodness.
Posadas is quite possibly the most beautiful city I have ever seen.  But it is HOT!  Fortunately we're staying at the mission home, which is air-conditioned, but that won't last much longer.  President and Sister LaPierre are lovely.  They picked us up from the airport with all the office elders and a large banner that said "Welcome to Argentina Posadas, the best mission in the world!"  Or something like that.  Then we went straight from the airport to a baptism.  What a great way to start the mission!
I still don't know who my companion will be, or the name of my first area, but my president told me I will be just across the river in Paraguay.  How exciting!
I love being here!  I can't wait to get to work!
Hermana Watts

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Here I Go!

Fresh air can do wonders for the confined soul.  Our visit to the temple last Monday was exactly the medicine I needed to overcome my claustrophobia.  After that, the MTC didn't seem so horrible.  I've finally started to get the hang of things here.  Figures.  Just when I've decided the MTC isn't so bad after all, I have to leave.

But it's okay, because on Monday, I get to fly to Argentina!  It's better than Disneyland!  Haha.

One of the members in my branch presidency, Hermano Nilsson (who, by the way, served the first six months of his mission in Posadas), gave me an inspired challenge this week.  He challenged me to write down my thoughts every time I thought I felt the Spirit.  At first it was frustrating, like trying to learn a new language.  But as the week progressed, I started to recognize and understand the whisperings of the Spirit in ways that I never thought I would be able to do.  I have had some beautiful and sacred experiences here in this institution.  The MTC may be a prison, but never let it be said that it is not spiritual.

I invite anyone who reads this to begin their own "spirit journal."  Every time you feel something that might be the spirit, write whatever thought is going through your mind at the time.  I promise that if you do this, you will truly learn the language of the Spirit.

I love you all!
Hermana Watts

Monday, January 5, 2015

Spirit Prison

Hello all!

I've been in the MTC now for five full days.  It's crazy!  I think I have a love-hate relationship with the MTC.  I love my companion, I love my district, I love my teachers and leaders, I love the things I'm learning, but I hate feeling so confined.  All the walkways are covered and we're in the classroom all the time, so we really don't get to see anything besides brick walls and black tags.  And snow.  My companion loves the snow!  My companion is Hermana Cross (or Cross Gomez, if you prefer), and she is from Guatemala.  She had never seen snow before she came to the MTC!  She is darling.  I couldn't have picked a more perfect companion.  She speaks native Spanish and nearly fluent English, and I speak native English and nearly fluent Spanish, so between the two of us, we understand each other perfectly.

My district is awesome.  We have Hermana Disner from Anaheim, CA; Hermana Fermoso from el DF, Mexico; Hermana Del Bosque from Washington state; Hermana Helmick from Fairfax, VA; Elder Humble from Portland, OR; Elder Marquez from Sacramento, CA; and Elder Roberts from Minnesota.  And everyone is going somewhere different!  Hermana Disner and Hermana Fermoso are both going to Pocatello, Idaho, speaking Spanish; Elder Roberts and Elder Humble are both going to Ecuador (but serving in different missions); Elder Marquez and Hermana Cross (my companion!) are both going to Houston, Texas; Hermana Helmick is going to Puerto Rico; and Hermana Del Bosque is going to Washington, D.C. where she'll get to work in the visitor's center.  And then there's me.  I still have yet to meet a missionary going to Posadas.

Oh!  Guess who I ran into?  The lovely Sister Allison Duffin, my roommate from BYU!

I'm learning a ton!  One of the members of my branch presidency served for 6 months in Posadas, Argentina, long before it was its own mission.  He has a lot to tell me about my mission!  (Funny story, his wife is actually from Fallon, NV, and I think she has family in Ely, so they know Eureka really well.)  It's crazy, though, the things I'm learning are not really things.  They're more like habits and behaviors and mindsets.  I'm learning to recognize the Spirit, to focus on my studies, to give myself up to the Lord.  I'm amazed to look back and see how much I've learned in just five short days.

I love you all.  I love this gospel.  God lives and He loves you.  

Hermana Watts

BYU Roommate - Sister Allison Duffin

Hermana Cross and Hermana Watts

My district minus Sisters Helmick and Del Bosque

Friday, January 2, 2015

Entering the MTC

Selfie of the whole family
Lunch at La Carreta
Saying goodbye to the family

And Mom and Dad

And finally she's at the MTC

Excited for this new adventure!

and ready to serve!