Monday, December 17, 2012

(no subject)

HOla familia!

HOw´s everything going? (I have no idea why the o keeps capitalizing itself). This week was pretty grand, a really great week. First off, last Monday right after I sent the email we ran into some other Elders that had just come back from the office in Asunción and they had my package! So don´t worry mom, I have things to open for Christmas (I even resisted unwrapping most of the gifts when I got the package, but I did open the ones that had chocolate in them so I could put them in the freezer). Tuesday was pretty much the only regular work day we had this week because on Wednesday we had to get a couple of things ready for our big Zone Christmas party on Thursday. It was a way fun party. President, his wife, the assistants, my zone and one other zone all got together in my church. We first sang some Christmas hymns, then we put together some little candies to give to children in the hospital. Then we all went to the hospital and caroled and gave away these packages we made. It was the second hospital I´ve been in here in Paraguay. The first one was in Asunción during my division with Elder Vance because we were asked to give a little baby a blessing (I did the anointing). That hospital I´m pretty sure was the free health care one and it was honestly one of the most heartbreaking places I´ve ever been. It looked like whatever we had left from world war 2 we just sent down to Paraguay and they are still using it. It was a little dirty too. But this hospital that we caroled at was much better. Hermana Madariaga really loved it when we sang we wish you a merry Christmas in English, so we sang it so much. It was funny because the Spanish elders had no idea what to do and the English elders only knew the first verse. Then we watched some of last years Christmas devotional and a video that President made of his mission. Pretty fun. Then I had a division with my zone leader named Elder Roberts. It was a way fun division. He is a lot like me so we got along really well and taught really well together. He´s going home first week of January so he´s got a lot of experience and since we´re so similar he was able to help me with a lot of the things that are hard for me because they were also really hard for him.
So people have started decorating even more. Everybody puts up Christmas lights, even if it´s just one strand hung across the middle of the wall. They also have a lot of nativities. They´re really cool because they use these coconut leaves to make them. Also there are a ton of Christmas trees. They´re all fake and they´re not nearly as big as the one in the states, but it´s cool still. Also a lot of people raise pigs all year then kill them for Christmas and new years, so guess what we did for service this week? Oh yeah we helped slaughter a pig! On Saturday this lady called us and wanted us to come help her kill her pig so we ran right over. They had a rope tied to its back leg, then they dragged it out of its pen and tied a rope to its other back leg. Then we dragged it over to a tree and had to hoist it up on the tree so it was hanging upside down (and it was still alive at this point). Then it got a little gory, but the pig was dead. They caught all of the blood in a big blue bucket and they´re keeping it for later, gross. But it was an opportunity of a lifetime. Then that day I also gave my first blessing in Spanish, it was cool. All of the words were just coming to me. I gave it to Nidia, she needed a lot of comfort. Sergio hasn´t been doing too well lately. Then on Sunday the bishopric asked me to give a talk next Sunday about Christmas, I think I´m going to try to focus mostly on Christ and his life and the Atonement. I´m just glad they´re giving me time to prepare. Also before I forget I still don´t know anything about how it´s going to work calling home on Christmas, but I´m sure they´ll tell me in district meeting tomorrow. But for right now I´m planning on trying to call home around 3 o'clock Paraguay time, I think that's about noon Utah time but you´re going to want to verify that. I´ll let you know more on Monday.

Well my time is drawing to an end. We didn´t have any investigators in church this week. Antonia had an emergency out lejos in the Chaco so she coulddn´t come, but we´ve still got some people we´re working with. We get a lot of first visits but not as many second or thirds, but they´ll come. We just have to keep looking for the people that are prepared. On my division with Elder Roberts he taught me a lot about setting good goals for my mission. He set some and he says because he´s always served with these goals he has no regrets from his mission. I took one of his goals and set it for myself. I decided that I´m always going to do the things that I´m afraid of doing but that I need to do, like contacting for example. I´m always super afraid to just go up to random strangers and start talking to them. Elder Roberts had the same problem so we did some practices and he helped me a lot. It´s kinda sad how the mission works because you get to know people and you get close to them, then they go home. But I realized this week how short my time on the mission actually is, so I´m glad I was able to set some good goals now. I love you guys so much and I can´t wait to talk to you next week! Think of some good questions to ask me because I have no idea what to say. I believe I have 40 minutes to talk so we won´t have too much time but it will still be great. Keep on the straight and narrow and be exactly obedient like the 2000 stripling warriors (I read about them this week and theirs is sí o sí my favorite scripture story).

Con Amor,
Elder Hulsey


Monday, December 10, 2012

(No Subject)

Email received December 10, 2012

Hola familia
How is everyone today( curse that blasted question mark that I can never find). So sorry if this email has a lot of errors, the keyboard I´m using is awful. Man this week was pretty crazy, but first off I can´t believe Jeff and Boo are already training! In my mission it´s almost unheard of to be training at your 6 month mark, most Elders start training after their year mark. I´m also glad to hear that Sam is putting on weight, I pray for those guys every night. So first off this week was la Virgen de Caucupé. I guess a long time ago a man was trying to escape some murderers and he stopped and prayed to the virgin that she would protect him, and she covered the murderers and he was protected. He gave the virgin his ca, which is an herb to sacrifice for her protecting him. So now every year on December 8th Catholics come from all over the country, and Argentina and Brazil I think, and walk to caukupe which is a city like 30 mins to an hour away I think, to show their sacrifice to the virgin for the blessings they received that year (that´s not the way we understand how faith works). A lot of people cheat and take a colectivo most of the way there, but there are some die-hards that walk the whole way on their knees or carry crosses all the way there. It was funny on Friday night because a lot of people were walking through Luque to get there by Saturday morning to start the big long prayer and we passed a ton of them and they tried to get us to walk with them. I wanted to have them walk with us to the church but Elder Morinigo wouldn´t let me. As far as the Nativity in the Catholic churches go I haven´t seen too many. There are a ton of little churches in our area but they´re super small, I´ll start looking for the nativities. There is also a giant Catholic church down the road from our house, I´m going to see if I can find a nativity there too. The thing that Paraguayans do to prepare for Christmas is kinda like our Spring cleaning. They clean up their yards a bit and paint everything ( I mean everything. They paint their houses, their fences, their trees, everything).

We finally had an investigator in church! Her name is Antonia and the way we found her was kinda cool. We were walking down a street and this girl started walking towards us so we stopped and went to talk with her. She asked us what we wanted and we were a little surprised because she approached us. Then she told us that that lady (pointing to a lady in her backyard) told her that we were looking for her. So we said uh, yeah we are and started telling her about how we´re missionaries. She stopped us and told us she´s been a member for about 10 years, just in-active for the last 2. She invited us to come talk with her boyfriend´s family, because that´s where she lives. It was the boyfriend´s mom that told her we were looking for her so we started talking to her. Antonia is the boyfriend´s mom and it turns out she had just visited an LDS church the night before for a birthday party or something and talked to the missionaries and was really interested! So yesterday we went and picked her up and brought her to church. In this mission and I would imagine in most missions it´s harder to get people to church than to get them into the waters of baptism so it was great that we had an investigator in church.
This week I also got a little sick. I made this juice out of a mango and some oranges. I had an upset stomach for a few days but it wasn´t bad so I still went out and worked. But on Saturday it was pretty bad and I felt like every weird thing I´ve eaten here was moving around in my stomach trying to come out through one end or the other. I went to our lunch appointment so my companion could eat but I didn´t eat a thing. The members were telling me that you´re never supposed to mix mangoes with other fruits, it will always make you sick. Lesson learned.
Well my times pretty much up, I´m glad Ryly is thinking about naming a horse after me, it really does mean a lot. I had a pretty cool experience this week. I´ve been struggling a lot with thinking about why I can´t be perfect. If the Savior said we need to be perfect like His father, than why do the prophets say that we just have to do our best and that our best isn´t perfect. Why can´t I be perfect. This has really been bringing me down and It makes me sick to my stomach whenever I make any little mistake. So I was reading in a book called our search for happiness by Elder Ballard and I was reading about when his grandfather was praying to receive help and he did and then the Joseph Smith story and I realized that I´m just as entitled to heavenly help as they were. So I took my problem to the Lord and I had complete confidence that I would receive an answer and I did. I received so much understanding about why I´m here on the earth and about why I´m not perfect but what I need to do and worry about instead. I realized that no matter what the problem is I can take it to the Lord and He answers me according to my faith. Take your problems to the Lord and expect an answer and you´ll receive one. I love you guys and I pray for you. I hope you have a great week and if it´s cold, just remember that I´m out here in the jungle where supposedly it´s like 113 degrees Fahrenheit. Live how the Lord wants you to and don´t get discouraged when you make mistakes because that´s why we´re here, to learn and grow so that we can become like God.

Con Amor,
Elder Hulsey
P.s. congratulations Emma on getting your young womanhood medallion! I´m super proud of you, you´re a great woman.

Monday, December 3, 2012

(No Subject)

Email received December 3, 2012

Hola Familia!
Hey everyone how´s life in the good ol' US of A? I always see people with American flag shirts and such and it always makes me laugh. A lot of people wear shirts that are in English and they have no idea what they say, it´s pretty funny. This week was way good. We had our zone conference on Wednesday and it was amazing! I was so pumped up to go and tell everyone that they need to repent and be baptized or they´ll never be able to live with Heavenly Father again. I got a package on Wednesday, it was a dear elder package with tons of candy in it, Thanks! There was a note in it but i think the people at dearelder made a mistake because the note was for an elder named Ricky Pierce, i think he´s still in the MTC because it sounded like he hadn´t been out very long. But it was a good package regardless. I put together a package with these things called Alfajors, they´re super delicious and very popular here but when I was going to send it I realized that it would cost some money. I decided that it would be better to buy some cool souvenirs for you guys instead of waste all of the money I have on sending a couple of alfajors, so be patient and I´ll hook you up when I come home, I already know what I want to get people. On Thursday it rained sooooooooo much! Holy cow our whole house started to get wet. We got pretty creative and started to catch the water that was dripping in the house with whatever we could find. We were stuck in the house until the evening because all of the streets were totally flooded, but we did some good planning and it was still a pretty good day. We found a great family that day that seems pretty promising. We went and visited some people and their backyards had water up to at least my knees. It´s totally worth all of the rain and things though because Paraguay is sooooo beautiful. I don´t mean to get all sappy or anything but one of my favorite parts of the day is when we´re walking through the jungle the day after a rainstorm (so it´s super green and there´s tons of little streams) and the sun is setting. It really is so beautiful. It´s kinda funny because when i first got here everything was so new, the sights the smells, the language the culture, everything. It was never that i didn´t like it, it was just new and different. but the more time I´m here the more I just love it. I love the new things. The other day we were walking and i smelled something that just smells like Paraguay and I started to smile. I´m starting to really love the people also. Paraguayans are super funny and they do and believe some really funny things (like you´ll die if you eat watermelon with milk). But I watched this video on the life of President Hinckley and one thing that I learned is that life is miserable without a sense of humor. You just have to look at the stuff and laugh a lot of times. It would be super easy to just get mad and frustrated at a lot of these things, but I´ve just decided that I´m going to laugh and be happy about it and whatever situation I find myself in. This has helped me so much to just be happy and love the people and the work. If you can´t find anything funny to laugh about, find something that´s hard or frustrating and laugh about that. President Hinckley had to do some pretty hard things that he didn´t like doing, like traveling for example, but he was always such a happy man. A nice sense of humor goes a long way.
So Christmas in Paraguay is a little different. I´ve been asking my companion all sorts of things about the history and the holidays and such. Just a couple of random side notes, Their summer vacation started last Friday so Adam you´re birthday would be a summer birthday here! (happy birthday this week big guy). Also they were in a war against Bolivia and they only won because they dug underground tunnels and snuck up on them in their sleep, pretty cool. But anyways Christmas, so obviously they celebrate Christmas because everyone celebrates Christmas, but it´s not a real big deal. They normally have a dance at night and party (because they´re always looking for a chance to party) but they don´t do gifts or anything really. But they decorate the city with lights (it´s pretty funny because these little shacks just have these funny Christmas lights) but that´s more just tradition they´ve adopted I think. There equivalent to Christmas though is called Los Reyes (the kings). It´s on January 8th and what happens is that each individual person puts out a plate of Pasto y agua (grass and water) and if you behaved well that year then I believe it´s these three kings that come to your house while you´re sleeping and leave you gifts. It´s pretty much like our Christmas, a day to spend with your family and everything.
Well It´s about time for me to go but I love you guys so much! I can´t believe I´ll be celebrating my 4th month mark this week! I didn´t even realize it was December until I wrote the date down in my journal, holy cow the time flies! My companion keeps telling me that it doesn´t feel like Christmas to him because he´s not with his family or drinking terere (it´s a drink like Mate but with cold water). I just laugh because it´s like a million degrees so I reallllllllllly don´t feel like it´s Christmas. But I guess that´s good because I won´t get trunky. I have gained such a strong testimony of this gospel and of all of its organization. Out here it´s not organized quite as strictly as it is back home and you can see the difference. Keep doing the things that will keep you on the straight and narrow, I´ll see you guys in 20 months (that really doesn´t seem that long, weird).

con amor,
Elder Hulsey
P.S. Megan I got your dearelder, i want you to read Joshua 1 verse 9 and then read Ether 12 verses 6 and 27. Keep your head up, things will get better.