Monday, April 10, 2017

Saying goodbye to Paraguay!

-This is Alex's last email. We are going to welcome him home in 3 short days to start a new chapter of his life and to say we are excited to see him again is the understatement of the century!  What a journey it has been for him, watching him grow and gain confidence and become a great missionary has been one of the most satisfying things his family has ever witnessed.  Thanks to family and friends for all the support and love you have shown him!!-

I would just like to express my gratitude for these 2 years I have served the Lord, when I began my mission, many things were not easy, getting used to being with someone 24/7, the food, the schedule, spanish all the time, etc. But I knew that as I would look more for the positive in things, I would learn and enjoy more. I had so many spiritual and special moments, that I can't think of one in specific, but luckily I wrote in my journal every day :) I can't thank my Heavenly Father enough for these 2 years, to be able to be a representative of Jesus Christ, and to serve the people as he would have. I was never perfect like Him, and I'm sure there are many things I could have done better, but I gave it my all, and I will never forget these 2 years. I know that the Book of Mormon is true, and that anyone that reads it with a sincere heart and asks God if it's true, they can receive a  testimony from the Holy Ghost. I know that things will be tough, but if I remember my covenants I can move forward, and I may fall at times, but through the Atonement of Christ, I will get up again.
I have a testimony of the temple, that families can be sealed to be together for the eternities, and that it really is the House of the Lord.
I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer, and it's what I have shared for these 2 years, he suffered and died for each one of us so that we can live with our Heavenly Father again. 
I know that through obedience, we really are blessed, there were many times when I questioned a rule of the mission, but living them and following them, I understood why we have commandments, and I understood in the Bible why it says "The truth will set you free" 
I love my family and I am excited to be with them again, and to now look towards the future and set more goals to progress and grow more.
I love the people of Paraguay, they are all my brothers and sisters, and I have never met people that are so nice and giving, many opened their doors to the missionaries and I know their lives have been blessed for it.
I know this church is true, I don't have any doubts, and I know Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, and that through him the true church of Jesus Christ was restored, we have a prophet and 12 apostles today that lead and guide us. It has been an honor to serve and I will always remember the best 2 years of my life serving as a missionary.

-Elder Spiro
View from the church in Centro

Alex's district

With Carlos, a member of his ward that his uncle knows

With Miguel, an investigator

Enjoying the hammock on the balcony

Monday, April 3, 2017

2 weeks left, safe and sound

Editor's note: In downtown Asuncion a few nights ago there were some  violent protests because of a decision their senate had made recently.  This decision was not received well by the constituents. As a mother of a son possibly living in that area and seeing the fires, destruction and even a death resulting in the protests and riots, I can tell you we were pretty nervous, wondering if Alex was in the same area. Here is the letter we received today. -Chris

Hey Mom,

So ya, the riots and stuff happened to be in our area, but I was on divisions with another missionary so no worries, but nothing happened to the other missionaries either, we were just told to stay inside our houses and unfortunately we were unable to watch the Priesthood Session of conference because it would have been too late to get back at night.  I really enjoyed conference anyways, I listened in Spanish but I still got a lot out of the talks, I really liked a lot of the 70`s talks, their insights are very interesting, hope you all are good, sorry to say that their won`t be any pictures this week because i forgot to bring my camera :( but next week for sure!

Our investigators are doing well, we weren`t able to visit them for a couple of days because of the problems, but Miguel was able to come to church, and he said one of the talks really touched him. We have been working hard and finding many new people,  I may not be here when they get baptized but I know I could at least plant the gospel seed in their lives.

My last interview with President Wilson went great, he asked me about some of my spiritual experiences in my mission and the hard moments too, but the lessons I have learned from those tough moments was the most important. He asked me about what my plans were after the mission and I talked about studying and going to college, and he talked to me a lot about getting married. He said the most important thing I should focus on is being sealed in the temple, and that the other things are important too, but I should have the Lord`s will before the wordly things. He told me something important, that no good job or studies can get me an eternal family, so I seem to have a lot of thinking to do.... haha

But anyways, this week should be interesting, and I have been told the Aguayo family from my previous area is planning on going to the temple to be sealed, so I will have pictures of that if we can organize things well :) Hope you have a great week, thanks for everything!!!!!!!!!!!

Elder Spiro

Monday, March 27, 2017

In the home stretch!!

Hey Mom!

Woo! Ya, I had a great week, we are seeing the progress in our area which is super awesome. 3 investigators came to church on Sunday, the branch president helped us in bringing Mirna and Alex, they are super awesome, very nice and the members were very friendly to them as well. It's tough to not be able to help someone who has cancer, there is only so much that we can do, but I try my best by sharing the Gospel and helping their family understand about the blessings that they can receive.

Another investigator named Jose Maidana came, he is the son in a family who are now coming to church again. They are sealed in the temple but have not attended church in years but they are returning and can see the blessings in their lives. Sister Maidana was crying in church during a talk that seemed to impact her a lot. I was grateful to see the fruits of our labors this week.

I also had a very special experience this week. I had a baptismal interview for an investigator of another companionship in the district to see if they were prepared to be baptized. Her name was Cynthia. She told me that she felt that she was prepared but that she wanted to wait a little longer for her baptism. I began to ask all the interview questions and she had no doubts about the doctrine or anything, so we talked about her family and her life, and she expressed that she had a lot of problems in her family. As I listened, I prayed in my heart that I could say what she needed, and that the Spirit could guide me. I don't remember everything that I said, but I know it came from the Spirit, and I felt guided as I promised her blessings. After, she sat there thinking and I asked if she would be baptized this Saturday. She smiled and said: "I will be baptized this Saturday!" I could only sit there and thank my Heavenly Father, I know that the Spirit is the real teacher, as missionaries we aren't sent to convince people, but to create an environment where the Spirit can testify of the message of the Gospel.

Today I will have my final interview with President Wilson, so I'll let you know how it goes next week, but everything is going great. I`m working hard and I can feel the Lord guiding us here in Centro, hope you have a great week, can't wait to hear from you soon!!!

Elder Spiro

Elder Spiro and his district

A service project


Monday, March 20, 2017

Loving his District

Hey Mom,

All is well here, ya I had to give a talk on Sunday. It is pretty normal to give talks now, and with being in a small branch, any Sunday we could be asked. For example, on Sunday the branch president asked me in Sunday School to give the talk because the person assigned didn`t show up so I decided to talk about obedience, and I think it went well. We only had 22 people on Sunday, but the man we met the other week that was on the bus came to church too! His name is Miguel, and I was super happy that he came, he made an effort too because the bus he took dropped him off really far from the church but he walked anyway. We also encountered a mom and her son on Sunday, the mom (Mirna), very sadly has cancer but she asked a lot of questions about our church and wants to attend with her son (Alex). She is going through chemo right now and I know it is really painful for her.
It was a good week in all, an active family moved to a different ward which is kind of sad, but we are working with what we have, and I know the Lord will provide miracles for us as we are faithful. 
Being a district leader is rewarding. To see other missionaries have success when they were struggling in previous weeks, and being able to help the district meet the goals of our mission president. It motivates me to give the example, because I can't teach anything if I'm not doing it either. I know that President Wilson gives us these assignments to help us progress, and it has helped me a lot in these past weeks.
Sorry for the short update, but hope all well at home and I will keep all of the family in my prayers, can't wait to hear from you soon!

Saying goodbye to elder Morales

Helping a family move

On top of a building in town

Monday, March 13, 2017

21st birthday, Paraguay style

Hey Mom,

Thanks for the birthday wishes, everything went well. I didn`t even remember that it was my birthday until about midday and we were going to buy something special like pizza for dinner, but it was really expensive so we decided to make hot dogs. But it was cool, I made the cake instead of cupcakes because we didn`t have a pan to make the cupcakes :) But it turned out good, and after everyone in the zone sang me happy birthday, I didn`t enjoy being sung to but I was grateful haha.

Ya, there is only 1 district leader for each district, we have 3 wards/branches in our district, so I have to make sure that they are all working hard and help with baptismal interviews and stuff like that. My area, Centro, has a ton of shops, and there aren`t many houses, so we spend most of our time looking for new investigators. Something cool happened this week, we were going to another area to have a division, and as we were heading back, a man stepped off a bus and said hi to us, and he said that his mom and other members of his family are members of the church. I asked him where he lived and it happened to be in our area! We visited him that same day and he accepted a baptismal date. It's crazy how the Lord puts people in our paths to teach, we just need to work hard and do our part, and he guides us to find the people ready to receive the gospel.

Not much else, just trying to do my best and learning more and more each day. We had a branch conference this week and I really enjoyed the talk from the Stake President. Something cool is that he was the missionary who found and baptized our mission president, President Wilson and now they are both working together here in Paraguay. He talked a lot about time and how we need to prepare now, and how we can`t make anyone change but we need to look at our own progress before we judge others.

Have a great week and can`t wait to hear from you soon!!!!!!

Elder Spiro

Birthday hot dogs :)

Monday, March 6, 2017

Alex's final area: Rama Centro with Elder Orellana

Hello Mama,

I am doing well, and it's weird to think that I will be 21 tomorrow, I think this has been the quickest year of my life and it's because I don't really find myself thinking about how old I am or what I'll be doing next year, just focusing on the task at hand.
My new area Centro is a LOT different than the rest of my areas in my mission. It is basically in the city, there are very few houses, and most of the members life in a part of the area called the Chacaritas, which is very dangerous and we can`t enter in to that part of our area without a member. The branch is very small, we had 29 people come on Sunday and most of them are from different areas. They just have callings here to help out the branch. Despite the challenges I love the area, the branch president and members are willing to help and I know we will find success. We found a less active family this week that haven't been active for 10 years, the parents and 4 of the kids are members and the youngest kid isn't a member yet. We have been teaching him and part of the family came on Sunday. I also met the member that Uncle Scott had helped serve a mission when he was younger too, that was a cool experience. 
Being a district leader basically is just helping the district out in any way possible. We have weekly district meetings that I have to plan and conduct, and during the week I have to call the members of the district to get their numbers and see if they need anything in the area. It's a little stressful on Sundays because the numbers take a while to finish and then I have to pass those numbers to the zone leaders, but I enjoy it. It's nice being able to help out in any way possible to do what the Lord has asked us to do as missionaries.
My companion is named Elder Orellana, he is from Chile and he has about 5 months in the mission. He is cool, a very chill guy and a great companion.
I am happy because the Aguayo family that I baptized has been preparing to go to the temple in March to be sealed. For the past few months the area said that we couldn't go with converts to the temple, but today we got an announcement that we can!  I will be calling the office to make sure that I can go, it will be a very spiritual experience.
Not much else new, all is well and I opened the birthday package a bit early because I wouldn't be able to take it in transfers, so thanks so much for all the stuff you sent. I will be making the cupcakes for the district meeting tomorrow, because it's the 7th. Have a great week! Can`t wait to hear from you soon!!!

Elder Spiro

Saying goodbye to all the families in Kennedy and Elder Kjar :(

Elder Spiro looks like a giant compared to these folks!

His new companion, Elder Orellana from Chile

Monday, February 27, 2017

Last transfer: Centro and 6 more weeks!

Hey Mom,

So the news came in, and my last area will be in the city, an area called Centro. And I will be the district leader. I feel a bit nervous to be the district leader, but I know that the Lord will help me. I feel a bit sad to be leaving Kennedy, I have worked hard here and I wanted to see the baptism and wedding for the Mendoza family, and Antonio´s baptism, but I know that Elder Kjar and his new companion will do well in taking care of the area.

I got the package that you guys sent! We had the conference with Elder Bragg of the 70, and that was awesome. I felt the spirit very strong and I am ready to work hard in my last transfer. It was funny bringing the package back on the bus from Asuncion, the people kept looking at the virgin Mary stickers that you guys had put all over the box haha. 

We finished Elder Kjar´s training and he is very ready to be a normal missionary haha. I know that he will be a great leader in the mission, he is very obedient and will be a great example for other missionaries. 

I don´t know what else to say, I feel very nervous, and today will be busy with packing my luggage and saying goodbye to all the members and investigators. Sorry to not write much, next week's email will be longer!!!! 

Love you!
Elder Spiro

The last English class for Elder Spiro in Kennedy

Eating Lomitos

He got his Birthday package!

The neighbor's dog seems very receptive to the teachings

A service project

Both elders obviously glad to be done with training