Monday, December 26, 2016

Week of Christmas!!

[Hello everyone, Alex's mom here, during our conversation with Alex on Christmas he let us know that he had been emailed a date that he gets to go home from his mission: April 11. We thought it was the beginning of May, so we are pretty excited!!! Thanks to those reading his letters and sending their love and support.]

Hey Mom,
Thanks for all the letters and the gifts that were sent for Christmas, I enjoyed all of the cool stuff, I liked the temple reccomend holder and the Harry Potter shirt, and the mini basketball hoop will be used often as well haha. It was great talking to you guys, the time always goes by really fast in those calls, but it's cool to see you guys and see how much has changed. Camille seems so much bigger, her voice has changed a lot.
This week was great, lots of walking in the heat, but for good reasons :)  We have been working hard in the area, and we have been trying to work a lot with the members because there are a lot of returned missionaries and we have investigators that live close to their houses. So, with that family I told you guys about, the Fleitas family, we have visited them with a lot of different members and they have been attending church these last few weeks. They even came yesterday in the heat, walking when most of the members didn`t even come.
We have also been working with two young girls named Tatianna and Deisy, their uncle and aunt are both members that are attending church again and one of their sisters too. They live with their aunt and uncle, so they have been attending church but the aunt told us to pray a lot for their mom to be able to accept the gospel. She works for 2 weeks then comes home to visit them, but she needs to sign the permission for their baptisms so we have been praying a lot for them.
Not much else new, but we contacted another bus today. I am proud of my companion, he is talking a lot more and I would have never stood up in front of everybody in a bus and talked about the gospel in Spanish when I was in my training haha.
Hope you guys have a great new years, thanks again for everything and can`t wait to hear from you soon, Happy NEW YEAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Elder Spiro

The zone Christmas party

Christmas Eve dinner with some members

His {meager} Christmas presents from home

Skyping on Christmas Day!!

Advent calendar and ornament we sent

Monday, December 19, 2016

Week before Christmas!

Hey Mom,
Glad to hear you and the family had a good week, here in Paraguay we had a nice week too. We had 4 investigators come to church, but unfortunately none of them was Araceli, so she won`t be able to be baptized this Saturday. She had to watch her nieces at the last moment because her uncle had to go pick up his wife in the morning, and she lives with them so she had to stay to make take care of the nieces and the house. We won`t lose hope, we will keep visiting her and helping her understand more. 
The other 4 investigators all have a baptismal date goal, and they are progressing, reading, praying, and they will be going to a few activities in the church this week. So all is good, and this week should be very special with Christmas, I will most likely call on Sunday in the afternoon, so any time from 6-8 pm time here in Paraguay, I`m not sure what time it would be for you guys.
It was an idea that I have always had to "contact" a bus with a new missionary. I had done it a few times before in my mission (not in my training) but it was a cool experience for him. It's really not too effective in getting new investigators but it's a convenient way to spread the gospel. Because we take a lot of buses, we might as well make most of the time when we are riding.
The English class is going great, members and investigators are invited and there are a lot of kids and teenagers that come to learn.  It's a good way to introduce people to the church too.
We are teaching a family that is all ladies and 2 kids, the Fleitas family, they are all siblings and 2 of them came to church yesterday, 1 of them named Helen is pregnant but she still walked all the way to church, and they enjoyed the spirit they felt there.
Not much else this week, my companion is working hard to learn Spanish, and I have been trying to learn a bit more Guarani, but it is tough. It's a very cool language but almost impossible to spell and harder to pronounce, but my goal is to be able to bear my testimony in Spanish [wonder if he meant Guarani?].
Like I said, I will be calling on Sunday, so can`t wait to talk to you all then and I hope you have a great Christmas week!
Elder Spiro

Christmas lights in their apartment

Two weeks out for Elder Kjar

Monday, December 12, 2016

New Companion: Elder Kjar

Hola Mama!
Espero que tuviero una buena semana! I`m doing great! I feel excited with my new responsibility to train! My new companion is from San Antonio, Texas. His name is Elder Kjar, pronounced (Care) He is a cool guy, really chill and we are learning together. He is picking up Spanish really fast and Guarani too, I`m sure much more quickly than I had learned haha. I feel that I need to be an example as a trainer, it's really important to help him and give him opportunities to teach and talk.  Today as we came to the city to use the internet we contacted a bus, which means we stood in front and talked about the Gospel and handed out pamphlets/cards and noted down people's information to visit them. I thought it would give him a cool experience that he wouldn`t forget.
The area is going great, we had 1 investigator come to church, a girl named Tatianna. On Saturday we went to visit a less active family and we talked to a lady who was sealed in the temple but for a year she has been inactive and she kept saying thank you because she said she needed the visit from the missionaries again. She came to church with all of her nieces yesterday because she watches them while the mom is working, and Tatianna is one of the nieces who isn`t a member.
We are also working with Araceli, she wasn`t able to come to church so we passed by on Sunday and explained what the requirements for baptism and how she was feeling about everything, because she is always reading the Book of Mormon and praying and she marks down everything she reads, but she just doesn`t attend church. She said she wants to be baptized so we put a goal for the 24th of December on Christmas Eve.
There are some other investigators, for example the Fleitas family, they came to the English class we had during the week but were unable to come on Sunday for a soccer tournament for one of the kids. It will be tough if they have soccer tournaments every Sunday but they are very interested in the church and are always waiting for our visits.
Nothing much new, I will be able to call you guys on Skype on any day from 23-30 of December. Dad told me the 26th but I`ll let you guys decide and next week I`ll tell you when I`ll call, whatever hour is fine but I think in the afternoon it would be better. Hope you have a great week, thanks for the emails and pictures, tell Nicole congrats for me, and I`m always praying for you guys! Can`t wait to hear from you soon!
Elder Spiro
Meeting Elder Kjar from San Antonio

One week in the field!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Mabel's wedding and baptism

Hey Mom,

Thanks for the email and I got the other Christmas package this week, but I opened it on accident because I didn`t know that I had to wait haha, but the gifts still have their wrapping so I will wait for that. We had a good week, it was a bit warm this week but we ended it with a wedding and a baptism, so all is good. It's super stressful to plan weddings, even if they are simple but luckily a few sisters in the ward helped us decorate because I had no idea how we were going to decorate. We bought some balloons and they helped with the rest.
Mabel was really happy, and her family too. The water was super cold in the baptismal font but after the ordinance when we left the water I asked her how she felt and she said that she didn`t feel cold at all, that she felt warm and clean, something that she couldn`t describe. It was awesome to see how she has grown, she had a hard time giving up smoking but she said when she smells cigarettes now it makes her want to throw up. I am grateful to witness how the Lord works his miracles, so many experiences that I have had in my mission, and many more to come.

As I was writing this, I recived the information that I will be training a new missionary! We had transfers today, I am nervous but really excited, I hope I will be able to help the new missionary adapt to the mission. I don`t know what else to write haha, I feel shocked.

The area is going well, we are working with Araceli, she wasn`t able to come to church on Sunday but I know that she is progressing, she always reads everything we mark down, and she is always happy when we pass by and her sister who is a less active member seems to be helping her a lot too.

For the wedding and baptism, a member brought 3 of her neighbors that aren`t members, so we are finding lots of new people to teach. I am grateful that the members are willing to help us out so much.

Anyways, I hope you have a great week, thanks for the updates and I will let you guys know when I can call for Christmas, thanks again for the emails and pictures! Have a great week!

Elder Spiro

Mabel's baptism and wedding

Thanksgiving dinner!

A family that lives by the elders

Monday, November 28, 2016

Thanksgiving thoughts

Hey Mom!
First sorry to tell you that there won`t be any pictures this week because the place we usually go to for the computers was closed, and this new place has very slow computers and I can`t connect my camera. I had a great week, in church we had 3 people come and it was also the Primary Program and it was fun seeing all the little kids singing and saying scriptures haha. It makes me remember the primary programs when I was a kid.
Our Thanksgiving wasn`t too exciting, I bought some food and I made mashed potatoes and chicken nuggets haha, I will send pictures next week of our food. I was thinking a lot about why I am thankful and I realized many things, of course my family and the desicion I made to serve a mission. I don`t know what I would be doing if I wasn`t here in the mission, possibly not active in the church to be honest.  I can not be grateful enough for my missionary calling and the things I have learned, I hope that these next few months I can progress even more.
To answer your questions, we all went to a city called Fernando de la Mora, it was actually one of my old areas, to listen to Elder Rasband. The ward I am in right now has about 75-100 people every week, there were more people this last week for the Primary Program.
We have been working with Mabel, we had a pre baptismal interview last week, I talked with her and her boyfriend, and she told me that she has been getting a lot better at not smoking. She had a experience this last week where she wanted to smoke but she began to read the scriptures and she said a prayer to give her strength, and she fell asleep.  I have been praying and fasting a lot this week so she can keep strong because this Saturday is her wedding and baptism and if she smokes this week we will have to pass it for another week.
To tell you the truth, it seems much more difficult to not smoke/drink here, because almost everyone does it. 
We are also working with a teenage girl named Araceli, she lives with her sister and brother in law and she doesn`t get too much attention from her family so she is basically alone watching her nieces all day.  We have been teaching her and she came to church this week and she seemed to enjoy it, the young women were talking to her too.
We found a big family on Monday, and they were all very interested, and accepted a baptismal date but they were unable to attend church because they had to visit their Mom who was sick. This next week I`m sure they will go.
We are getting ready for the Christmas season, I put up the little Christmas tree that I have and the lights, a few houses in the streets have lights too. A lot of people have the Nativity scenes. 
I got the card from Harry Potter World that you guys sent, and I think my Christmas package arrived this week, thanks for all that you guys send! Hope you have a great week and can`t wait to hear from you soon! Always keeping you in my prayers!

Elder Spiro

Monday, November 21, 2016

Visit with Elder Rasband

Hey Mom,
All good here in Paraguay, I will start out first with the visit from Elder Rasband. It was an experience that I`ll never forget. We got there early to sit and study a bit, and they told us that Elder Rasband would be arriving soon. We were combined with the other mission of Paraguay, there were a lot of missionaries packed together. When Elder Rasband entered into the room, I felt the same feeling of when Elder Bednar visited in the MTC, I felt a sense of peace and happiness. He talked to us about how we can improve, he thanked us for our service and he answered some questions. We had the opportunity to shake his hand and when I shook his hand, I said Hola and he told me Hello haha. 
When he bore his testimony of the Savior, my testimony was even more strengthened, I understand why the Apostles are special witnesses of Jesus Christ. It was an awesome experience and I hope I will always remember it. After when we got back to the house, I was really tired and had very little energy but as we left to teach, my energy came back and I was fine throughout the whole day.
David wasn`t able to be baptized because he will be entering into the military camp but I have never seen a person more changed than him.  He dropped his drug addiction, drinking, smoking, and is a completely different person. I hope to see the picture when he is baptized, maybe I will still be here, his military camp lasts 7-8 months but he has breaks where he returns home every 8-15 days.
We have been working a lot with Mabel, we found out that she has a smoking problem, so we will see if we can help her. She has gotten better but she had never told us before, so we weren`t able to know until this week and I think it's tougher to drop a habit when you are doing it alone.
Not much else, we found a less active family that has a teenage girl that isn`t baptized, we will be teaching her this week to see how interested she is. And we are working with the members and went with the first counselor to visit less active members this week.
We won`t be doing too much for Thanksgiving this week, I will make some mashed potatoes and I think we will try to find a chicken or something haha. Make sure to eat a lot for me, and send pictures!
Thanks for everything, good luck in the new ward, I`m sure you will be getting new callings too. Have a great week!!!!
Elder Spiro

p day activity

with David

the District

Mission meeting with Elder Rasband

Monday, November 14, 2016

Week of 11/14/16

Hey Mom!
Thanks for your pictures and email, I had a good week, its a blessing to have the sombrero, it helps a lot in the heat. I heard about our new president, I was at a members house when I heard in the other room that he was announced president of the U.S. The people keep asking me what is going to happen now with people from other countries, if they can enter into the U.S., but I don`t have any idea. 

I also recieved the packages you guys sent me, thanks so much for the food and the letters. I was able to get Allan his picture book and it was good to see him one last time before he leaves. He seems very happy and I know he will change and help many lives in Peru. I can`t believe he has made it to this moment when he leaves for his mission. When I was in Thompson he hadn`t even sent his papers in yet. He isn`t a convert of mine or someone I have re-activated but I am grateful that I was able to help him prepare for his mission, I have learned a lot from him as well.
We are working hard in our area, we were going to have a baptism this week in our area, a young man named David. He had addictions to drugs and he has changed his life around. The only problem is that he will be attending a military camp where they give him coffee to drink during the day, and its not something where he can say no, it's sad that something like a cup of coffee is keeping him from being baptized. We talked with him and he understood, he told us it makes sense, because he doesn`t want to be baptized and then not keep the commandments, it was a testimony builder for me to see a young man with so much temptation around him to want to follow Christ and turn his life around. We are praying for him and thinking of what we can do to help him.
We also are talking to Mabel, who is preparing for her wedding and baptism, we talked with her this week about the plan of salvation, and she had a few doubts about the resurrection. We are going to have a family home evening with them tonight and hopefully we can help her understand more, and feel the spirit.
Not much else new, we will be having a visit form an Apostle this week, Elder Rasband. It will be the 2nd time in my life when I have seen an Apostle in person, so I am very excited and it should help me with motivation to keep working hard and finding new people to teach. I feel the need more and more each day to share the restored gospel to the Paraguayan people, it has come from study of the Atonement and better understanding of the purpose of the gospel.
Thank you again for everything! Hope you have a great week and can`t wait to hear from you soon!
Elder Spiro

Looks like some of our packages from the last few months all came together!

Monday, November 7, 2016

Rocio's baptism and other successes

Hey Mom,
Thanks for all the stuff you sent this week, and I think tomorrow I will get the packages you guys sent me :) I think I will be able to get it to Allan someway so no worries about the book.
I`m glad that you guys enjoyed your Halloween and ate a bunch of candy haha, I had a great week, they didn`t celebrate Halloween here but we had a good week, it has been super warm here but I will buy my sombrero today so that should help a lot.
We had Rocio`s baptism and it went great! Not as many members came but everything turned out great and she is very happy and excited to be a member, she has some friends in the young women, so that helps. Her and her family who were less active members are coming to church every week, they are a very nice family and are happy to be attending church again, they ask us a lot of stuff about the temple and what they can do to prepare to enter.
The mom of the 2 little girls, Mabel told us after the baptism that she decided that she wants to get married so that she can get baptized! A lot of miracles are happening in this area, and I am thankful to help the Lord complete His work here in Kennedy. We planned with her and her boyfriend to have it December 2nd, right before we have transfers, she had a few doubts about getting married, but we talked to her a lot about the reasons the family is blessed when we keep the commandments and also when the families can be sealed in the temple.
We are also teaching another man that we found this week as we were walking down the street, he yelled something at us and then we went to talk to him, and he said he wanted to change his bad habits and his life. He has problems with drinking and smoking, but we talked a lot about repentance and faith, to help him understand the Atonement, he wasn`t able to attend church on Sunday, a member passed by to walk with him but he wasn`t home.
We are also teaching a lady who is in a wheelchair, her name is Edi and she has had a very tough life, her parents abandoned her and now she has to work to be able to live with a family that basically adopted her. When she attended church for the first time she told us she felt a peace that she has never felt before and it is unlike any other place she has been. We wheeled her wheelchair on Sunday to go to church and a member gave her a ride to her house after. She is a very nice lady, it will just be tough for her to attend church.
That's about it, we are working hard and finding more people to teach, hope you have a great week and can`t wait to hear from you soon! I am doing awesome and the time is passing by way too fast!!!!!
Elder Spiro

Divisions with a new elder from Mexico

Making lomitos

Preparing for the baptism

Rocio's baptism

Monday, October 31, 2016

Kennedy and new comp: Elder Gonzalez

Hey Mom!!!!!
Thanks for the pictures and emails, I am doing great and my companion's name is Elder Gonzalez, he is from El Salvador in Central America, I realized I have had 3 companions from Central America now. He is a really cool guy, we are getting to know the area a bit more, and I remember most of the area but there is a lot that wasn`t part of my area when I was here so we did get a bit lost this week. But everything is good, the members help us a lot and we will have lots of lunches and food, so no worries. A lot of the members told me that I am more skinnier than when I was in Kennedy before haha.
The best part was seeing that some of the contacts that I started when I was here that were baptized. There was a lady named Martha that we worked with a lot, and we eventually had to stop visiting her because she wasn`t progressing.  I guess the missionaries returned after a while and she was baptized, and some other contacts I knew were baptized too, they remembered when I had visited them for the first time.
This week when we arrived we had 2 baptisms that were former contacts and we had the opportunity to teach them and they had their baptismal interviews and were baptized.  Their mom is now investigating the church too.
It's crazy to see the little gospel seeds that we plant in the lives of the people that we talk to, and sometimes we don`t see the fruits of our labors but there are many, like it says in Alma 36.
We also recieved the news that we can wear sombreros (hats) and I am very happy for that due to the heat. I haven`t gotten the packages you guys sent yet but we will have a zone training this Tuesday so maybe I will get them there. Other than that, not too much new, I am happy to be back in Kennedy and I know there is a lot of work to do, which makes me even happier. Hope you have a great week and tell Allan I say hi, and to keep going strong to leave for his mission!!!! Have a great week mom! Happy Halloween!!!!! 馃懟馃懟馃懟馃懟馃懟
Elder Spiro

Last lunch in Thompson

Saying Adios to the people of Thompson

Baptisms in Kennedy of former contacts