Monday, March 28, 2016

¡Feliz Pascua! Happy Easter!!

¡Feliz Pascua! Happy Easter!!

One thing I love about Paraguay is that their Easter celebration lasts the entire week. Everyone gets time off work and school to spend time with their families and make chipa (traditional Paraguayan cheese bread). We ate a ton of chipa! Everyone invited us to try their chipa. Some chipa is good, and some chipa is not so good. Chipa is always better when it is hot. If it is cold, it gets hard as a rock and is not very fun. I think we tried a total of 10 different chipas over the course of two days.

On Thursday we ate a huge lunch with some members who explained to us that their tradition is to eat a large meal with the family on Thursday to remember the Last Supper.

Friday, everyone remembers the crucifixion by not eating meat. It's a pretty solemn day, a lot of people don't leave their houses. The streets were eerily empty.

Saturday, everyone gets drunk. (That was kind of scary - we were grateful to be on bicycles so we could get home quickly that night).

And Sunday is the glorious day of the Resurrection of our Savior! We had two family home evenings planned Sunday night. We dyed Easter eggs and filled them with candies. We searched for scriptures about the Savior and His Atonement and Resurrection, wrote down the references on slips of paper, and stuck those inside the eggs with the candies. Then we read the scriptures with the families we visited and invited them to share their testimonies of the Savior. There was a powerful spirit in the room as we listened to each of these members share their experiences and feelings about the Atonement.

The best part of Semana Santa (the Holy Week) was a visit we had with our progressing investigator, David, and his mother Irma. David is 9 years old, and Irma is one of the pioneers of Hernandarias - but she has become less active during the past few years. We have been working with them for a few weeks now, and last week we talked with Irma about getting David baptized. She said, "Yes, he needs to get baptized. I was thinking about it, and I think the best thing would be to teach him for a little while longer, get him prepared, and then he can get baptized in May."

We were thrilled! But after we left that night, we talked about it, and we both felt that David could be ready sooner than May. We looked at the calendar, and saw that the earliest David could be baptized was the week of April 11-17. We planned to invite Irma to consider moving the date to April 16, a Saturday.

A few days later, we went back, praying that the Lord would help Irma to know that David needed to be baptized sooner rather than later. To our surprise, before we could say anything, Irma said, "So I was thinking about baptizing David on April 4, which was my father's birthday, but that's a Monday and I don't know if people would be able to come. So I was thinking a Wednesday, because that's when the branch has their weekly activities, so everyone will be there. How about April 6?"

And we, who had been preparing to try to get her to move the date a little earlier, had to explain to her that for David to fulfill the baptismal requirements set by our leaders, the earliet he could be baptized was the following week, on April 13. And she was happy with that.

She shared with us an experience she had with David when she went to school with him. David has autism and he goes to a special school for students with similar needs. His teacher is Catholic and always teaches the students to pray and sing Catholic songs. When Irma visited, the teacher was singing a Catholic song with the students. Then she looked at David and said, "David, why aren't you singing?"

David said, "I'm a Mormon, and I want to sing one of the songs I learn in my church."

The teacher said, "All right, go ahead and sing."

And in a quiet little voice, he began to sing, "I am a child of God, and He has sent me here, has given me an earthly home with parents kind and dear. Lead me, guide me, walk beside me, help me find the way, teach me all that I must do, to live with Him someday."

Irma told us that the whole class watched in silence as David sang his song. When he finished, the teacher said, "Thank you, David, that was a very nice song." He is such a special little boy and I have learned so much from him!

I know that the Savior lives! He is Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Redeemer of all mankind. This is His church, and I am so grateful for the privilege of representing it.

Hermana Watts

p.s. attached find pictures of our easter eggs (and the process of making them) as well as our P-day dessert - a "tapioca" (kind of like a crepe but made with mandioca) with strawberries and chocolate inside and ice cream on the side. We were sad when it was gone. :(

Monday, March 21, 2016

New Area!

Q&A  (I sent these questions to Hermana Watts last week, before seeing pictures of her bicycle and helmet and cute companion, but she didn't have time to answer until this week).

1. What are the bicycles like that you ride? Do you have baskets? Can you send a picture?

​We ride Milano bicycles - they're kind of old. We do not have baskets.​ 

2. Are there other areas in your mission with bicycles? What determines which areas get bicycles? Distance that the area covers? 

​The only other sisters' area is Ayolas, near Pilar, in Paraguay. I think there are a few sets of elders who have bicycles. I'm not sure what determines which area gets bicycles - I don't think it's necessarily distance, I think it has a lot to do also with the conditions of the roads and possibly bus coverage. Some areas have a lot of cobblestone/dirt roads that are not good for bikes, or a lot of hills, or whatever. Our area has a lot of cobblestone, but enough asphalt to make it slightly less miserable. (cobblestone kills!)​ 

3. Do you wear helmets?

Yes, of course! No concussions here :)​

4. Tell us about your new companion: Where she's from, her interests, talents, favorite hymn, funniest mission moment, etc.

​She is from just outside Spanish Fork. She likes piano, basketball, music, BYU Football, egg farming, wakeboarding, coloring, and eating ice cream. She is an excellent piano player, and she has a talent for making people happy. Her favorite hymn is "Lord, I Would Follow Thee." Her funniest mission moment is this transfer when she got stuck with me. Haha, jk, one time she got punched by a Paraguayan woman. . . who happens to be the relief society president. You will have to ask her for the details.​

5. Tell us about Hernandarias. It's close to Ciudad Del Este. Is it a suburb or does it feel more like the country or a small town or what?
Hernandarias is a small town but it's really not quite that small. It's maybe like Carson City to Reno. It's pretty tranquilo here.

6. Are you in a branch or ward?
I am in a branch.​

7. Are there other missionaries in Hernandarias? And if so, are they in the same ward/branch or are there more than one branch there?

There are three sets of missionaries in Hernandarias. Hernandarias has one ward and two branches. The ward has a set of elders and each branch has a set of sisters.​

8. Did you have to travel to Posadas for transfers, just to head back to Hernandarias, or were you able to go directly there?

I went to the terminal in Ciudad del Este to meet up with Hna Rigtrup and then we came straight to Hernandarias. Due to some confusion in planning, we didn't get home until around 1:00 a.m.​ 

9. Are you happy that you're staying in Paraguay or are you starting to miss Argentina?

Are you kidding? I was over the moon when I found out I was staying in Paraguay - better yet that I'm still close to Minga and I'll get to see the members at General Conference and stake conference! :)​

10. What's your apartment like in Hernandarias?

​Our apartment is pretty nice, we have a covered garage to park our bicycles and we live three stories up. It's not too big, not too small . . . can't complain :)​

​. . .

Happy Easter! Please take some time this week to watch this easter video and reflect on what the Savior's sacrifice means to you. I testify that He lives! He is the Messiah, the Savior and Redeemer of the world, Jesus Christ.

Hermana Watts​

Monday, March 14, 2016

My Red Racing Bike

"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven." -Ecclesiastes 3:1

My time in Minga Guazú came to its end last week, which was really sad. Saying goodbye is hard. Here are some pictures of my last two days in Minga:

Woody Wu, our landlord/neighbor
 Lunch and photoshoot in Jesuitas, the super fancy shopping center near our area:

Hey Mom, this one's for you!  My last day I met this really sweet girl from Japan!  Her name is Yugi (I think).  (Mom served her mission in Japan).

The Delvalle family, who gave us lunch every Thursday

Sixto, a recent convert

The branch presidency in Minga - Pte Adriano Espinola, Hector Sanabria (1st counselor) and Elvio Delvalle (2nd counselor)

Nelson Sanabria, our high councilor

David Legal, our mission leader

Marta, Nefi (9), and Santiago (1.5) Delvalle

Liz, our neighbor, and Raquel, our landlady/neighbor, with Raquel and Woody's sons, Pablo (8) and Francisco (5).  I love them!

Now I'm in Hernanadarias!  (Just a little northeast of Minga) with Hermana Rigtup!  And we have bicycles!
(The red one is mine.)

Don't worry, Mom, we do wear helmets - we just took them off for the picture.  :)

Monday, March 7, 2016

Travels and such

​My companion and I did a lot of traveling this past week.  Hermana Martinez goes home next transfer, so she got to visit Iguazú with all of the missionaries going home this transfer and next.  I got to do something even more fun . . . TRÁMITES!  yay.  Iguazú is just across the river from from Ciudad del Este, but we got to go the long way around.  We took a 6-hour bus ride to Encarnación, crossed the river, ate a delicious home-cooked meal in the mission home with Presidente y Hermana LaPierre, slept not a wink, and left at 2 in the morning to take the 6-hour bus ride up to Iguazú.  We dropped my companion off at the park with the rest of the honorables, and then two elders, Hermana Cannon, and I, all went off to the migrations office to do the trámites.  The good news is I am now an Argentine citizen with an ID card and everything!  The less-good news is that I am only an Argentine citizen until June 3.  But that's okay, I'll just stay in Paraguay forever :)

The best part of the trip, besides Hermana L's cooking, was staying the night in Encarnación Rama 3, my very first area (my "birthplace," as we missionaries say).  That was a very special treat for me.

In other news, Norma finally came to church!!!!  With her two sons!!!  Now that her anti-mormon husband left to go work in Argentina, she is free to come to church whenever she wants.  The members were quick to take her under their wings and fellowship her.  She offered a prayer in our Gospel Principles class and thanked God for guiding her back to the "only true church." (if you aren't sure who Norma is, here's the blogpost where they meet her:

I testify that this really is the only true church upon the earth.  It is the Lord's church, and He leads it through His prophets.  The Book of Mormon is true.  God lives.  We are His children and He loves us.  

Hermana Watts

Hna Martinez reunited with her hija who is currently in Rama 3

Crossing into Argentina . . . They're super protective of their Malvinas Islands (which they lost to England a few years ago but still claim as theirs).

Rosi, one of my investigators in Rama 3

Chini, one of the less-active members of the branch here, and Natty, one of our investigators, both gave birth yesterday!  We went to visit them in the hospital.  I didn't get a picture with Natty, but both mothers are doing very well, and the babies are healthy and beautiful.

Hermana Martinez
P.S. Transfers - I'm going to Hernandarias!  With Hermana Rigtrup! And bicycles!  Ouch.  But I'm going to be super fit :)  Hna Martinez stays here and Hna Ehlert is coming and they're both going to be Sister Training Leaders.  Fun!