Monday, March 30, 2015

The Marvelous Workings of the Spirit


This week we witnessed a miracle.  There is a woman we have been visiting de vez en cuando (now and then) for the past month or so.  Her name is Myrian and she lives with her marido (husband) and her youngest two children, Luhan and David.  (Her oldest, Juan, lives with his grandparents so he can go to school and comes home for the weekends.)  

A couple weeks ago, we talked in our district meeting about certain signs you can look for to know if an investigator is progressing or not.  Some signs we mentioned were setting aside time to talk with the missionaries, even when busy; doing the things we ask them to do, like reading the Book of Mormon or praying; and making changes in their lives for the better.  That night, we had divisions.  I went with the sister training leader, Hermana Field, and we visited Myrian.  When we arrived at her house by surprise, she was busy with her little boy who was sick, but she invited us to sit and chat for a few minutes.  We talked and discovered that she continues to pray daily with her children, something we had invited her to do in one of our earliest meetings with her.  She also told us that she had stopped going to the Christian church she had been attending as she felt it was becoming too commercialized.  We taught her about the Book of Mormon and invited her to read it.  As we left, Hermana Field commented to me that she exhibited all the signs of a progressing investigator.

On Friday, Hermana Sorenson and I returned to visit her.  We were thrilled to find that she had read a few verses in the Book of Mormon!  We planned to teach her the first lesson, the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Before we began, I started to think, wouldn't it be nice to dedicate an entire lesson to the Holy Ghost and how to recognize it?  When Hermana Sorenson looked at me and whispered, "We're going to talk about the Holy Ghost," I knew we had both been inspired.

The Spirit was strong in that discussion.  We invited her to pray about the things we had talked about, to know if our message was true, and she accepted the invitation.  Then Hermana Sorenson, following the promptings of the Holy Ghost, asked, "Myrian, we have another invitation for you.  If you pray and find out that these things are true, will you be baptized by someone holding the proper authority?"

She said yes.

It is amazing to me how the Holy Ghost works in the lives of God's children.  As missionaries, we may have sparked the changes in Myrian's life, but she is not changing because of us.  She is changing because she has felt that sacred influence.  

This is truly a marvelous work.

Con amor,
Hermana Watts

Q & A 

1.  What is the funniest thing that has happened in the past few weeks?

The funniest thing.  Hmm.  A couple weeks ago we had some sisters staying in our pension for the night so they could cross to Argentina (or something like that).  Hermana Sorenson went to bed early because she wasn't feeling well, and the sisters and I stayed up and talked for a while (not too late, I promise!).  All of a sudden, Hermana Sorenson yelled to me, "¿Ustedes cerraron la capilla?" (Did you close the church?)  
The thing is, Hermana Sorenson sometimes talks in her sleep.  So I didn't know if she was asleep or not.  I asked her, "Why?"
"¡Porque la capilla no puede estar abierta!"  I waited quietly to see if she was actually awake.  Finally, with an exasperated sigh, she said, "Bueno.  Hablemos de eso en la mañana."  (Well.  We'll talk about this in the morning.)  Then she rolled over and went back to sleep.
So yeah.  My companion sleeptalks.  In Spanish.  It's super funny.

2.  What do you find most different about church in Paraguay?

Church in Paraguay is the reverse of church in the States.  We start with Relief Society and Priesthood, then Sunday School, and then Sacrament Meeting.  Other than that, it's pretty much the same.

3.  What is your favorite hymn and why is it your favorite?

Favorite hymn.  Good question.  I can't choose just one.  I really just love to sing.  The other day, for companionship study, my companion and I just sang hymns for an hour.  I love to share hymns with our investigators and less actives, I feel it really invites the Spirit.

4.  Did you get to watch the General Women's Broadcast?

Not yet, but I should be able to Saturday.

5.  Will you get to watch general conference in English or Spanish?

 I think I will be watching Conference in English.  I think it's best to hear the talks in their original language.  There are things that just don't translate.

6.  What kind of service do you do?

We've cleaned the church a couple times.  We try to wash dishes and help with household chores, but a lot of the members don't let us.  We share uplifting messages whenever we can, and visit people who need visits.  Do you have any ideas for good service projects?

7.  What kinds of crazy bugs have you seen in Paraguay?

We've had some giant cucarachas (cockroaches) in our pension.  There are a ton of mosquitos, they're terrible.  One time I saw a huge spider outside our apartment building.  That night I had a nightmare that I had to kill that spider and the only way to do it was to cut it up into tiny pieces and burn each piece.  There are some beautiful butterflies here.  When I was in Obligado for divisions, I heard about but didn't see a type of worm that is poisonous - if it touches you it leaves a severe sore.  But the bugs aren't that bad here in the city.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Aháta ha ajapóta!

¡Hola hola!  ¿Cómo están todos?

This past week was crazy!  We had divisions Monday night and Tuesday with our sister training leader Hermana Field and her companion Hermana Palacio.  On Monday, Hermana Sorenson had just gotten over a cold, and Hermana Field, Hermana Palacio, and I were all sick with mild to severe cold symptoms.  Can you imagine us - three sick little missionaries trying not to get snot in our scriptures.  Haha.  Hermana Palacio went to the doctor on Tuesday and found out that she had bronchitis.  Ouch.  They scheduled her for a check-up on Thursday, and since we had Zone Conference Friday, it didn't make sense for her to have to travel back and forth from Encarnación to her area Obligado (about an hour's bus ride out of Encarnación).  Rather than abandon the Hermanas' area completely, we decided to do emergency divisions.  After working with Hermana Field for two days in my area, I went with her to Obligado for another two days and didn't return to my area until Friday evening after Zone Conference.  So I hardly saw my companion all last week!

Working in Obligado was great.  I got to meet a ton of wonderful people, teach a few spiritual lessons, and learn from a lovely sister.  And I found a treasure in the Obligado pension: a Book of Mormon in Guaraní!!!!  (I've been asking for one since I got here.)  Also, one of the members of the Obligado branch who fed us lunch sat down with me and taught me how to pronounce the letters in Guaraní, so I can actually read it.  I memorized part of one of my favorite scriptures - ten points to the person who can identify it correctly!

Aháta ha ajapóta umi mba'e Ñandejára he'iva'ekue.

Zone Conference was great, we talked about how the Lord is really hastening His work and what that means for us.  We are working a lot more with members now to help them understand that concept.  The day of the Lord is coming soon, and we need to be prepared!

I love this work!  I love you all!

Hermana Watts 

P.S. Fun Fact: Encarnación is celebrating its 400th anniversary on Wednesday!  There are flags and banners everywhere! 

Q & A 

1.  What did you do for your district activity?  (She mentioned that they didn't email until late last week because they had a meeting in the morning to plan for a district activity for the members).
The district activity is scheduled for the 1st of April.  We're planning to do a Book-of-Mormon-themed activity to help people get excited about the words of the prophets, both anciently and in the present-day (since General Conference is that weekened).  We're going to have different stations set up with activities to teach people about different book of mormon prophets, and at the end we're all going to gather in the cultural hall and reenact the first recorded General Conference with King Benjamin.  Pray for us so that we can really invite the Spirit into our activity and help these people to become excited about the Word of God!

2.  Is your church building air-conditioned?
Ours isn't, but we have a ton of ceiling fans, so that helps.  The church building in Rama 1, where we have our district meetings, does have air conditioning.
3.  Are most of the members of your branch recent converts?  
The majority of the members, while maybe not necessarily recent converts, are first or second-generation members.

4.  Is there a common street-food that you like?  (I also mentioned to keep her eye out for Easter traditions).

There's this thing called chipa.  It's basically bread with cheese baked into it.  And apparently, since you asked about Easter traditions, during the Semana Santa the tradition is to make chipa.  I'm pretty excited!

If you're still working on translating the scripture above, this might help:

Here's a clue.  In Spanish, that part of the scripture translates to "Iré y haré lo que el Señor me ha mandado."

Monday, March 16, 2015

Shield of Faith

¡Hola mis queridos amigos y familia!​  

¿Cómo están todos?

So I just heard the tragic story of the sister missionary in Argentina (Resistencia, ¿puede ser?) who passed away from E. Coli.  My prayers go out to her family and friends.  I cannot imagine dealing with such an experience.  

Satan fights very hard against the Lord's children.  He would have us fear death.  But how fortunate we are!  We know that God has a plan for us, and that death is simply part of that plan.  Because our Savior Jesus Christ broke the bands of death, we will all be resurrected with perfect, glorified, and immortal bodies.  We will all have the opportunity to live forever with our family.  What a blessing this is!  This knowledge protects us.  With faith in Jesus Christ, we are protected from the fiery darts of the inferno.  No "shaft in the whirlwind" can have power to destroy us.

I love you all!
Hermana Watts

Q & A

1.  Do you know about how many missionaries are serving in your mission?  Are they evenly split between Argentina and Paraguay?

There are about 150 missionaries in the mission, give or take 20 or so.  I think they're pretty evenly split between Argentina and Paraguay.  Area-wise, the mission is evenly split, so I imagine the missionaries are as well, but I don't really know exact statistics.

2. How many missionaries are from the United States, and how many are native speakers?

I think it's about half and half, or maybe 3:2 (in favor of natives).  Again, I don't really know statistics.

3. How many districts are in a zone?

I don't know what the usual is.  In our zone we have 2 districts, but one district only has 2 sets of missionaries because they're super far from everyone else.

4. Have you had the opportunity to play piano since coming to Paraguay?

Yes I have.  My companion and I switch off accompanying hymns in district meeting, and I've had the opportunity to play a few special musical numbers in district and zone meetings.

5. Do you and your companion teach Gospel Principles every week, or do you trade off with the Elders?

We trade off with the Elders.  We also get asked to teach Relief Society often.  There was one Sunday when we taught Relief Society and Gospel Principles, and then I gave a talk in Sacrament meeting.  

6. What kind of building do you meet in for church?  Do more than one branch share the same building?

We meet in a small church building about the same size as the branch in Eureka (or Castaños, if you remember that building).  We have our own building for the branch.

7. Does anyone care about basketball over there? (Stephen spent the day figuring out his bracket for March Madness)

Not really, no. No basketball.

8. Do they play any other sports besides soccer over there?

They play a lot of volleyball, and this game called Piki-vole which is a cross between volleyball and soccer.  Basically it's volleyball without using your hands and arms.  It's really cool to watch, they bounce the ball off their feet, knees, chest, head...

Monday, March 9, 2015

To My Sister

Dear Chiara,

This week I had the opportunity to witness a beautiful daughter of God enter the waters of baptism and make covenants with her Heavenly Father.  In just 6 months, you will get to do the same.  I am so excited for you!

I hope you know that​ your Heavenly Father loves you.  He saved you especially for this time to come to earth and be part of our family.  I am so grateful to have you as a sister!  

Heavenly Father has a special plan for you.  When you were born, our parents named you Chiara, which means light.  Sometimes the world is dark and scary, but you never need to be afraid because you are a light!  You were sent to be a light to your brothers and sisters, to help them find their way back to their heavenly home.

When you get baptized, you promise Heavenly Father that you will follow Him.  He will show you the way to go.  He wants you to come home to Him.  

I love you so much.  I am so excited for the day when you and Stephen and Joseph and Daniel and Mom and Dad and I will be together in the presence of God! 

Hermana Watts

Q & A

1.  We've heard that people are shorter over there?  Have you found that to be true?  Do you feel tall?

Oh yes.  There are a few taller people, but for the most part people are definitely shorter.  Thank goodness my companion is a couple inches taller than me, or I would really feel out of place!

2. Tell us more about the people that you are teaching.

We are teaching a girl named Liz who is in her early twenties.  She is super great!  She's actually taken all the discussions like two or three times already, but when it came time to be baptized something always came up.  But we believe she's going to do it this time!  Her boyfriend is a super strong member who got baptized a year ago June, so that's maybe some extra incentive for her - haha.  We had a date set for this Saturday, but we're going to have to postpone it because she wants her boyfriend to be the one to baptize her and he can't this Saturday.

3. Describe a typical meal for us.  Joseph is wondering about the meat - what kinds of meat are you served and how is it typically cooked?

A typical meal consists of a lot of pasta, sometimes with vegetables, and usually served with a big chunk of meat still on the bone.  I'm not really sure what kind of meat it is...probably beef?  It's usually really good, I would just prefer not to have to cut it off the bone.

4. How many branches/wards are in Encarnación?

I don't know, I think there's at least 5.  There are two zones in Encarnación, and our zone has Rama 1 (Branch 1), Rama 3, and Rama 5, as well as a few areas outside of Encarnación.

5. Does each branch have about two sets of missionaries?

Each branch has one or two.  Actually, I think our branch is the only one in the zone with two sets of missionaries.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Transfers and Tramites


I can already see that some of you are mildly distressed that this email is a day late.  Sorry!  We have had such a busy week!  This last week was transfers, which was exciting because everyone crossing to and from Argentina has to go through Encarnación, so we got to help all the missionaries get to where they needed to be.  Hermana Sorenson and I are going to be together for at least one more transfer (yay!!) and we are super excited.  

And then I got a call on Saturday from the office.  They told me that Sunday night, I would have to cross to Posadas so that I could travel to Iguazú on Monday to play that never-ending game called tramites.  Did I tell you about that before?  Since we believe in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law, periodically throughout the mission, missionaries have to cross from one country to another to fill out papers so that we remain legal in both Argentina and Paraguay.  It's a lot of fun!  So yesterday I got to drive 4 hours to Iguazú and 4 hours back.  No, I didn't get to go to the falls.  But I did have a great time with the three other missionaries who were travelling with me.

One of my travelling companions shared a great thought with me.  He talked to me about worship.  What does it mean to you to worship?  In the Old Testament, people worshipped by making sacrifices.  They would sacrifice the very best of their animals, lambs without spot or defect.  The law of Moses was fulfilled by Jesus Christ, so we don't sacrifice animals anymore, but we are still expected to worship through sacrifice.  The sacrifice we are called upon to make is of a different nature - a broken heart and a contrite spirit.  Perhaps the best way to worship our Father in Heaven is to offer as a sacrifice the very best of our time, talents, and efforts.

Well, that's my soapbox for today.  Love you all!

Hermana Watts

Q & A:

1.  Does the song from Nacho Libre go through your mind every time you say Encarnación like it does for us? (Dad and the boys)

Funny story.  One of the elders in my MTC district could quote that movie almost word-for-word.  He and my companion would always sing that song.  I had never really heard it before I got to the MTC (I think I only watched Nacho Libre like once), but when I got to my first area, it was super funny.

2. Do you have a favorite place in Encarnación?  (Chiara)

I love all of it!  But my favorite part is when we get to visit people who live kind of outside the city, where the neighborhoods are more rural.  It's so peaceful and quiet and beautiful!  Sometimes I think I want to come back and live in one of those neighborhoods.

3. Can you understand some Guarani now? (Joseph)

Hahaha!!  No.  But I can at least recognize sometimes when people are speaking Guaraní.

4. Who is the favorite person you've taught so far? (Chiara)

I don't have favorite people, silly!  I love every person we've taught.  The best lessons are the ones where I can feel the Spirit, when I feel like suddenly Hermana Watts isn't giving the lesson, the Lord is.

Here is a link to the song Encarnacion, for those who aren't familiar with it: