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Monday, December 30, 2013

(No Subject)

Email received December 30, 2013

Hola familia,

I know I say this every week but this week really was wow! So many things. First off it was super nice talking to you all. I feel bad like I should´ve thought of better things to say but I was just so happy to see all of you guys (even though you all look like strangers haha). Then Christmas eve we had permission to be out until 11:30 if we were eating the traditional GIANT Christmas eve feast with members or investigators and a family had invited us over so we went with them. Then I got home and made my companion cinnamon rolls from scratch (because there is nothing pre-packaged here) and they actually turned out! I mean they weren´t Sister Allphin quality but I enjoyed them. Then Christmas day we got some cool visits in, lots of work with the less-actives. Then the next day we had the branch Christmas party. I decided to take your advice mom and invite our investigators, one of them showed up and they actually gave him a part in the live nativity, it was super fun. We brought pancakes that I also made from scratch, I´m learning how to make breakfast! Anyways when I called home I told you that I thought I would be finishing up the misision here in Mariano but it turns out I was wrong. So tommorrow I´m going back to Trinidad, but this time Trinidad A instead of B and it will be as the assistant to the President! I didn’t sleep at all because I was so nervous. So Elder Ellefson is getting a new companion to finish up his training, someone that has about the same amount of time as Spencer. I´m super excited to go back to Trinidad because Elder Beus is still there and he´s with my MTC comp, and my companion will be Elder Dickson and we lived in the same house in my second area so that will be pretty fun being his comp. President said that he wants to put a big focus on obedience with exactness, espeially since our mission is so young. It´ll be interesting to see what kind of adventures and challenges await me. Like I said I was super nervous but I started studying my patriarchal blessing and I found a lot of peace and confidence. I´m kinda bummed in some ways because we´ve been finding some super awesome people lately and we had our highest church attendance since I´ve been here yesterday, and we had a super cool investigator come to church and some super cool less-actives too but the Lord calls us to do things for His purposes even if it doesn´t necessarily make sense to us.

So this week I also had some super cool Spiritual experiences. So on Saturday we were doing our best to be able to visit everybody we could to get them to come to church the next day and we were pretty much running from appointment to appointment, but I felt inspired to go visit this girl that we hadn´t actually met yet, we just knew where her house was. I tried ignoring it but the thought was pretty persistant so I decided to just go. On the way down we crossed paths with this less active lady and we talked to her for a second and I felt like that was why the Lord wanted us to walk that way and I felt good about following the original plans again that we had put. Well the next day I was walking away from a visit from some american baptists (that was an interesting experience and it was something else teaching in english) and I saw this lady sitting in front of her house. She kinda looked at me funny so I waved and kept walking but then I felt like I needed to go and talk with her, so I did and before we even introduced ourselves she had us sitting down. She said that she has a son that is in deep with drugs and vices and she has a hit a point where she just doesn´t know anymore what to do to help him. She said she was talking to someone and they said to talk to the guys that always walk around. She said that a few days ago she was sitting down and some walked in front of her and didn´t talk with her and she thought they must not be the ones to help her. So she was praying a ton for something to help her son and when she saw us she thought that we were the answer but it looked like we were going to keep walking too, but then when we turned back and came to talk with her she knew we were the ones that could help. Then later that night we were walking home and I saw a girl with a baby just sit down on the side walk. I waved and was just going to keep walking because I usually try to avoid talking with girls but I felt like I should go and talk with her. So as I approached her I realized that she was crying. I presented my companion and me and I told her Jesus loves her. I asked her why she was crying and she just broke down. She was only 17 years old and she lives with her mom but in awful conditions and her and her mom don`t have a great relationship to say the least. She had gone to her baby´s dad´s house to ask him for some money to buy the baby some stuff and he started hitting her. She was so sad and I felt so sorry for her. She said she had to go because her mom would yell at her if she got home late but she gave us her address and said to come by and share with her, she has been to church before because the lady that lives behind her is a member and invited her once. I feel like had I not have followed the spiritual promptings the first time I might not have been as receptive to them the next times, where I was able to be the hands of the Lord in helping people that really needed it. I´m so happy to be a part of this incredible work and I know it´s what the Lord wants me to do. It´s hard to be trunky when there is so much to do so don´t worry about that, I´m fine. There are lots of people that the Lord is preparing and all I have to do is follow the Spirit and talk with everyone so I can find them. I´m not here to convince anyone or force our message on anyone either. I´m here to help people by inviting them to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel. The Spirit does the convincing and the preparing, I am just a messenger in the Lord´s hands (that´s not an excuse to not be persistent or diligent by the way). I think if we can really understand what is our role than we will do all we can to work hard and talk with everyone and have the Spirit (which comes by our preparation and obedience) and we will not get down-hearted. We will be sad when people don´t except the message or the blessings offered them but we never have to feel discouraged. I love this work and I love the Lord. New Years will be spent in Trinidad and I have until 11:30 at night again to be out and luckily I´m getting changed to an area where I already know the members and my comp so I won´t have to pass new years with strangers. I hope you have a prospero año!

Con muchísimo amor,
Elder Zachary J. Hulsey

Monday, December 23, 2013

(No Subject)

Email received December 16, 2013

Hola familia, hows it going? Como van con las preparaciones para la navidad? We`re preparing a full down here for la navidad. Sounds like you guys had a busy week, I had an interesting one but a pretty great one. So I finally got really sick! It was funny because last Monday or Tuesday I was telling Elder Ellefson that I`m made of steel and that I`ve never gotten hit by the double headed dragon, and that at this point I probably won´t get sick because I´m totally used to everything... boy was I wrong, haha. On Thursday night I was having a hard time sleeping because every time I moved I thought I was going to throw up, but I also thought that was all in my head. Finally around 4 am I just decided to go to the bathroom and see if that would help me feel a little better and as soon as I stood up I realized that was a good idea. I barely made it to the bathroom on time. Then for the next hour my insides were coming out of both ends of me! It was the first time I had thrown up in years! Then I cleaned everything up and took a shower and went back to bed around 5:30 and slept another hour. Then the day of Friday I had a fever. The fever went away though but I still don´t really feel like eating anything. Don´t worry though I´ve been talking with the nurse and I`M FINE, I´ve still been able to go out and work so I´m doing a lot better. Anyways the other super funny part of the story was then on Saturday for lunch some members made us the exact same rice with chicken and tomato sauce that I had thrown up the day before, yummy! Haha it was quite a weekend. Haha when I was explaining to Elder Ellefson how I had thrown up and such but not to worry because I cleaned it super well and sterilized the whole room super well he told me, "I guess that´s how you know you´re really a grown up, when you have to clean up your own vomit" haha it was so true. Luckily it´s super easy to clean up here because it´s all tile floors and the shower just sticks out of the wall so I just had to turn it on and rinse all of the vomit down the drain then just sterilize the floors really well. Sorry for all of the nasty details I was just super pumped that I finally got sick! I was expecting this months ago. Don`t worry about the mosquitoes because I`m actually really good about putting on bug repellent and as far as sunscreen goes... yeah we`re not going to talk about that. It`s better that I don`t use it because the smell of it makes me think of the pool I lived at, I mean worked at, before and fun happy summer time memories. But don`t worry because I invested in a nice sombrero that keeps me safe from the sun and I wear that all the time so I`m fine. Elder Ellefson has the exact same skin as Dad so he´s really good about putting on sunscreen everyday. He´s doing a lot better, doesn´t seem to be missing home as bad anymore which is great. His language is coming along. I got really blessed because I had a Latin trainer and the Lord blessed me so much to be able to just remember what I had studied about the language. At this point I´m focusing a lot on getting my accent really good (it´s hard because Paraguayans have a pretty funny accent that I don`t necessarily want, I this point I`ve kinda developed a half Mexican half Paraguayan accent, we´ll see where we go from here) and learning new words and phrases. The people love if I can say little idioms in Spanish like "it´s a piece of cake" or "be careful, he´ll talk your ear off" and fun little things like that. Also I don`t study guaraní but I´ve learned enough just from talking to people to be able to trick people for a little while that I speak it (I understand probably like 12 percent of what they say in guaraní but it´s enough to where I can just kinda guess at some way to respond and it´s a lot of times an acceptable response). I didn´t get the package that President Harris brought yet but I´m planning on going to the office as soon as I finish writing then I will go to the office and look for it. That`s cool that you guys got to see a pic of Elder Hulsey in the DR, I still haven`t seen one yet. He really is a great guy and I know he´s doing an awesome job in the spreading of the gospel out there in la República Dominicana. Also last week I told Megan the wrong day about los reyes, it´s actually January 6th.

So we had some super cool experiences this week with that family we´ve been working with. David, Rosa´s boyfriend, has really opened up a lot more to us and seems like he really wants to progress. Rosa came to church on Sunday! But David didn`t because he had a little too much beer on saturday night... but this week we´re going to talk to him about the word of wisdom and rosa says she´s si o si bringing him for next week so that should be really cool. They´re a super awesome family and I`m super excited to see them continue to progress in the gospel. The gospel truly does bless families. Something that Elder Ellefson has really helped me to recognize are the blessings of church attendance. I`ve had a pretty solid testimony for a while now about the blessings of the Sacrament which is the biggest and most important reason we need to attend church each week, but Elder Ellefson always points out just how good it feels being in church on Sunday. I never really appreciated just the calm and peaceful feelings you can have in church if you go in with the right attitude and if you look at it as a blessing to be able to attend the Lord´s true church on the earth every sunday. There´s always craziness happening around you with children and you get busy trying to prepare and teach classes and talks, but regardless of all of that we have to opportunity each week to completely set apart 3 hours or our time to worshiping the Lord and we can be 100% confident that there is absolutely no better use of those three hours at that time. We can go in and feel the Spirit and just feel peaceful. A lot of people use the excuse that Sunday is their only day off so they want to rest, well what better place to go and relax than the church! Others say that they want to spend that time with their family, but there is nothing that will bring more family unity than worshiping the Lord together, and that includes going to church. Elder Ellefson also always points out to me that the church is the same everywhere and that he loves that. That you can feel the exact same Spirit in the USA and in Paraguay and in Argentina and wherever you are. It´s a cool way that binds each member of the church throughout the world. We can all know that we all feel the exact same way as we happily attend our church meetings every sunday. I´ve really come to view it as the blessing it is rather than the chore that I thought it was. I´m super grateful for all of my leaders who worked so hard to help me have positive experiences growing up in the church, it´s different being on the planning end now. There are some amazing leaders down here that have taught me so much, but you also find others that it´s like pulling teeth to get them to fulfill their calling and I was always super blessed to have leaders and teachers that I felt like weren´t there for obligation but rather out of love. I invite you all to really try and focus on the blessings of being able to attend the true and restored church every single week and to invite someone else to be able to participate in the same blessings with you, you´ll notice that you enjoy it even more. I hope you all have a wonderful week and we will talk next week so prepare yourselves... Haha.

Con amor,
Elder Zachary J. Hulsey

P.S. so we´re doing our branch Christmas party next Friday (a little after Christmas) and they want us to prepare some kind of traditional american dish. If you could send me some recipes for next monday of some traditional american dishes that would be easy to make that would be great. Maybe things such as mountain man breakfast or some of my favorite casseroles that I used to like or maybe home made mac and cheese or spaghetti or tacos or stir fry (I know those things aren`t necessarily american but that's fine) that would be great thanks.


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

(No Subject)

Email received December 9, 2013

Hola che gentekuera,

How´s everything going up there? That´s so funny to me how cold it is up there, it´s super nice and hot down here, just the way I like it. Sounds like you had a good week. I really liked dad´s coaching video story, teaching is hard I know it. So the weather wasn´t as bad this week but it was still stormy. In fact the same thing that happened to us last week happened to us again this week where the power shut off in the cyber so we had to come back, but this week we anticipated it so we have a bit more time. Last week was pretty fun. We did a division and the areas in this zone are all super spread out so I had to travel an hour away and the buses were taking forever so when we finally got to the house of the missionaries to pick up one and bring him back to my area for the division it was super late so I just slept on the floor at their house and left in the morning. It was a fun little sleep over and the division was super fun too. The weather was nice on Sunday but sunday was also December 8th and down here in Paraguay that is the day of the virgin of caacupe where everyone goes to make promises with her in caacupe and that took its toll on some of the members we have that aren`t too strong yet. But we now know one thing to help them understand a little better so it`s all good. So anyways last week thanksgiving was a fine day, I also got your package and those little pies were perfect. This week we had some super cool experiences with some super cool investigators. So we`ve been working with some families that we found contacting and it we had a super cool lesson on Saturday. We were talking and they are two sisters, Rosa and Carolina, and their husbands and one of the sisters, Rosa, prayed last time and started reading in the Book of Mormon and loves it all and she and her husband really want to come to church. The other sister, Carolina, had a lot of questions but she had heard a lot of stuff about demons coming to you as you read in the Book of Mormon and pray and such so she hadn`t kept any of her commitments. We shared a couple of scriptures with her and I knew that this girl had a mighty prayer in her heart that she needed to express but she was so afraid. So then her sister Rosa shared her testimony about how she was afraid the first time and how it was super hard but that she felt so good after and she loves it now. She also helped her sister think of some reasons she has to pray for and finally we all knelt down and she offered a prayer. The prayer was so simple and direct but the Spirit was so strong. Carolina stood up and started crying and said she never imagined it would feel that good. She then shared with us some very personal stuff about her past and we just sat and listened. She said that she hasn`t felt comfortable sharing that stuff with anyone but that she just trusts us. We told her we`re here to listen and show her how she can start a whole new life in Christ. It was one of the most powerful moments of my life and me and my companion afterwords were just so happy. We were talking about how those moments make all of the tough ones completely worth it and more. We`ve found some other really cool people that seem super prepared. There was this one guy and everytime we talk with him we just notice how prepared he seems. So he`s got like 4 college degrees (so he`s super educated) and knows a lot of stuff. Our first visit we asked him what a prophet was and he told us a man called of God to represent him on the earth and teach his children. He also told us that not just anyone can be a prophet, they have to be called of God (first person I`ve taught that understands that). Then he started telling us about how Christ taught us about something called the plan of Salvation, which is God`s plan for us to be able to live with him again. He also told us that a very important part of this plan is something called free-agency, or the ability to choose between lo bueno y lo malo (yeah, he explained this to us and this is the first time he`s ever talked to missionaries from our church). We explained about the apostasy and he already knew what it meant and everything. We then explained to him the restoration and how Joseph Smith was a prophet called of God and given Priesthood authority to act in God`s name in things such as baptism. He then commented to us how interesting that is because it lines up just right with what Jesus Christ taught through his example of being baptized by John the Baptist who was an authorized servant at that time to baptize. We then told him it was that same John that gave Joseph Smith the authority to baptize. Anyways this guy is super cool, the only hard part is getting him to pray about the truthfullnes. He wants to know and understand it all first so that he can be more qualified to ask God if these things come from Him or not. But he keeps reading the Book of Mormon and he`s really interested in the history aspect of it so he and I get along pretty well. Anyways yesterday we had another lesson with him and he told us how he thinks that most of the world`s problems today are here because good family values are under attack and the family is being destroyed (prepared or what!). So we talked a bit about that and he told me something that he uses to raise his kids that really caught my attention. He said "No busco la perfección pero si busco la excelencia" meaning I don`t look for perfection but I do look for excelence. That really caught my attention and I realized I think that`s really similar to what our Heavenly Father expects from us. He knows we won`t be perfect in this life but He can expect excelence. I looked up what the word excellence means and a sinonim was superb, and the definition of superb I think describes it pretty well. The definition is of unusually high quality. The Lord expects his children to be of unusually high quality, and I think we can achieve that here in this life. I also decided to add my own little expectation and it`s that of excelence and constant progression. I believe that if we are excelent children who are constantly progressing that the Lord through His grace will make us perfect one day and we will be able to live with Him and our families forever.

So about calling home for Christmas, we are allowed to call home December 23, 24, and 25th before 6 pm Paraguay time for 40 minutes. My companion would prefer not coming to the cyber on Monday the 23rd to skype so if it`s possible the 24th or 25th would be great. I don`t know who to skype because in the past I always skyped to Spencer`s account but he won`t be there this time so if you want to figure that out then let me know or add me on skype and I`ll confirm it that would be great. I would love to talk with Spencer too but I think that might be a little difficult and he`ll probably want to be able to share all about his mission too and 40 minutes isn`t a lot of time for 2 missionaries to both share all about it so it might be wiser to do it at different times. I write to him every week that I can so we get to talk and next Christmas I`ll make sure I`m home to talk with him. I`m trying to help my companion not feel so homesick but it`s kinda tough especially during the holiday season, but I don`t think that should affect too much when I can or can`t talk with you guys because we live pretty close to some cybers so worse come to worst we just do it on different days. So if Monday is better for you guys I don`t mind at all. I`m pretty excited for Christmas this year because I`ve really been able to make some really cool connections with some members here so I`m hoping to be able to pass it with them. The members here are so awesome and I love them so much. This is a really interesting area because some things work really well and others not so much. We finally had a ward council on Sunday and the branch president put us in charge of coming up with the ward mission plan to present to the ward mission leader then he would present it to the branch presidency on Saturday. ¡Crazy! A little while ago I didn`t even know what a ward mission plan was but after studying Preach my Gospel and lots of praying I feel like I`ve come up with a half decent plan. The branch president just wanted our ideas and he`s going to try and see which ones he likes to make the final plan. I also asked him what we were planning as far as the ward Christmas party and he told me absolutely nothing and that we would talk about it in a few weeks. I pointed out that Christmas was in a few weeks and se asustò un poco and put us in charge of planning the ward Christmas party as well. So I`m thinking about doing a live nativity scene type thing where we have the youth and primary children present the story of Christ`s birth to their parents. I was thinking this could be a good way to get less-active families involved and recent converts along with active members so hopefully everything goes well. I also am planning my zones Christmas party for the missionaries, the last zone leaders forgot to do it I guess. So I think we`re going to go to an old person home and read to them Christ`s birth in Jerusalem and in America and eat some candy and pan dulce with them (one of my favorite parts of christmas here that I forgot to tell megan about. They all eat this really good bread with fruit in it called pan dulce around Christmas time and their big dinner is always a super fancy bbq). I`ve learned so much about being able to manage seemingly hard situations with the help of the Lord and managing my stress too. Can you imagine that I haven`t even stressed about this stuff yet and it`s basically all planned out now, yeah me not stressing, crazy huh? Well I`ve got to go now, I`ve got a birthday party to go to for this recent convert and I was in charge of making the cake, I sure hope they like brownies. ¡Que tengan semanas divertidas!

Con mucho amor y un abrozo,
Elder Zachary J. Hulsey

Monday, December 2, 2013

(No Subject)

Email received December 2, 2013

Hola familia! Como están todos? This week was pretty fun and pretty great. It rained so hard for pretty much the whole week except for a few hours Sunday morning so that people could easily make it to church, it was quite the miracle. It was actually pretty funny because all of the electricity went out and it`s pretty much been out since. We got half of our electricity back in our house but actually right as I was typing this email the power cut out again. I`m finishing this email now about 4 hours later. We`ve been doing tons of service trying to clean everything up because the storms have been pretty big. We`ve been cleaning up trees that have fallen over and everything. We actually were on our way over to the cyber when we found a guy trying to cut up a huge tree (with a hatchet and machete) so we helped him clean up his yard for about an hour and a half. It was pretty cool though because it really helped soften their hearts and the family was asking us tons of questions about the church and they committed to read and pray about the Book of Mormon so tranquilo. I`m super glad hermana cristaldo wrote you mom, that makes me super happy. I`m also pretty glad Brother Harris is coming down this week because justamente I have to go to the mission office this Thursday so maybe I`ll be able to find him there. We have Elder Zeballos from the area presidency I believe coming to talk with us so that should be super fun. The area is great and I am incredibly safe and happy. It`s definitely been tough trying to get everything figured out but I like hard things because they help me learn to rely more on the Lord. We had some really tough days this week but the Lord blessed us so much that it was all worth it. On Saturday we didn`t get in to anything all day and all of our appointments fell but I knew that if I prayed and kept at it that at some point the things would turn around and they totally did! We finally got into a lesson and they were liking it so much that they said they really want to come to church and learn more because they love what we were teaching. They also presented us to some more of their famlies so it was a great experience. Then I ran into a family from my last area and they were visiting some non-member family members in my new area and it they presented us to them and we had a miraculous visit. The Lord is continuing to soften the hearts of the people here in Mariano Roque Alonso as well and I`m super glad about it. I`m sorry but I have no time to write so I`ll try to write more next week.

Con muchísimo amor,
Elder Zachary J. Hulsey

Monday, November 25, 2013

(No Subject)

Email received November 25, 2013

Hola familia!

This was a pretty crazy week. So it turns out I wasn´t white washing the area but I´m opening my new area! That was a big surprise that I wasn´t told. So we had a brand new house with no area book, no cell phone, and pure strangers all around us. But then we got our cell phone working and it turns out that some hermanas had been working the area a few months ago and we were able to find their old area book. I´m still not sure why the area got closed down before but what I do know is that I´m loving it. This is probably the nicest area I´ve been in my entire mission. Also the members here are fantastic! Our house is this super goofy apartment that I actually really like (it has a real hotel feel to it) and right in front of us live 2 member families. One of them has a son that just got his mission call to Columbia and he has left with us all day everyday since I´ve been here. It´s like we´re in a trio. It´s made it super nice. We´ve been trying to work a lot with the members and that has turned out to be successful. We have been able to set up lunch appointments everyday and we received a ton of references from members this week. One of them was for this super cool kid named Santiago. he´s about 15 and I´m pretty sure he just lives with his dad but his dad drinks a lot. Santiago lives next door to an active (except for the dad) member family and they are his friends. They gave us the reference then invited him over to be taught and we taught him the restoration with the rest of the family (including the less-active dad). Then he went to church with them and now he´s preparing to be baptized. The less active dad didn´t come to church but I asked the wife about it and she said that it´s been years and normally he won´t even accept the visits from the missionaries so the mere fact that we were able to visit him was a huge miracle asi que I´m already seeing awesome miracles here in Mariano Roque Alonso. Mariano is a branch that could easily be a ward but it´s part of a district and not a stake so it can´t become a ward. The district is the district that has chaco paraguay (like filadelfia and all of the indian tribes) in it so that´s pretty sweet. The hard part about that is that the missionaries in the chaco are part of my zone and they area about a 6-8 hour bus ride away so zone unity is really hard. But we´re organizing some divisions to go out there and see how we can help. It´s wierd being in this zone because I´m going from being the youngest senior comp in my last zone to the oldest one in this zone. Most of the senior comps in the zone have about the same amount of time as Spencer and they´re training and finishing up training of other missionaries. Then there are a few that have about nine months then a few of us that have a little over a year. It´s really different because people now look to me to help them and I still feel super new myself, but the Lord is helping a ton. My new companion´s name is Elder Ellefson. He´s from Joplin Missouri which is part of the Oklahoma Tulsa mission. He got baptized about 2 and a half years ago and is super pumped to be here in the mission. He reminds me a little of Alec Olson from next door and Dad a little bit too. But he actually more than anything reminds me a lot of myself at the beginning of my mission and it´s super cool to see because I feel like I know exactly what he´s going through and I can see the huge progress I´ve made. He´s a really fun guy and likes to work. I feel bad because I´ve been trying to do a million things this week helping all of the new missionaries in my zone and trying to get to know my area and a handful of other things so my companion is probably super confused about what the mission is, but things should calm down a lot this week and we should be able to work hard. He´s got a super great testimony that he just loves sharing with everyone. Dad I´m actually super glad you check people´s blogs because I always tell people to put pictures up in hope that you guys some how can find them. It probably was me in the picture because we did go mountain biking last week. Well I can´t think of too much more that happened (even though there was a lot to start would be very difficult to end. It´s kinda like this song I heard the other day called the never ending story. Haha it was playing on the streets and I remember Mom and Dad used to sing that and this was the first time I had actually heard it).

I have been studying in the book of Mormon a lot lately and I was in 3 Nefi right before the signs of Christ´s birth and I noticed some things that were super important. When the people were united they prospered in the land and had continual peace (and I don´t think the peace referred to here means sitting around at ease all of the time). But then they would loose their unity because Satan would puff up their hearts and then they would loose all that peace. I was thinking a lot about the importance of unity in the success of missionary work. Missionaries have to be united with the members and the members with them. Then together they need to be united with the Lord through prayer, fasting and studying the scriptures and obviously receiving revelation through church attendance to know the will of the Lord so that all three are united. As soon as one of these three is no longer united with the rest the growth and "prosperity in the land" starts to end. I´ve got such a strong testimony of unity. The lema of the mission, and least when Presidente Madariaga was in office, was United in Purpose. I think it is super important to make sure we are united within our families, within our companionships and most importantly with the Lord. The Lord has said if you are not one you are not mine. He also has said that he called his people Zion because they were of one heart and of one mind and they dwelt in righteousness and there was no poor among them. I´ve got a super strong testimony of the power of unity. That doesn´t mean that everyone is equal, in fact it´s kinda the opposite. Each person has their unique talents and abilities that they bring to the table that others don´t have and that has become very apparent to me on the mission, but I believe unity is being to take all of the individuals with their strengths and weaknesses and looking forward to the bigger picture or the main objective and overcoming and looking past weaknesses and harvesting and using strengths. I have never had a companion that was perfect, and I know for a fact that I am not a perfect companion, but when we can look past each others weaknesses and work together with each others strengths than we have success. So I invite all of you to try and be a little more patient with one another and really focus on seeing people with eyes of charity and find and focus on the strengths of others and not their weaknesses and figure out how to work together better in unity to achieve goals such as happiness. ¿Lo harán? Les prometo que al hacer eso van a ver un cambio en sus vidas que les va a conducir más cerca a nuestro Padre Celestial y Salvador y Redentor Jesucristo. Yo sé que esta es su iglesia verdadera y que Él la dirige por medio de profetas vivientes. Tell David Rapier congratulations and that I´m proud of him. Have a wonderful thanksgiving and eat a nice big slice of pie for me.

Con amor,
Elder Zachary J. Hulsey

For some reason the compute won´t recognize my camera but here are some pictures that were emailed to me

Monday, November 18, 2013

(No Subject)

Email received November 18, 2013

Hola Querida familia!

Boy what a week, the meeting with Elder Christofferson was super cool. His Spanish is incredible and I learned a lot. His conference was so much different than Elder Bednar´s. Elder Bednar last year talked a lot about doctrine and dropped us some cane but Elder Christofferson was super nice and happy and hilarious. He was saying so many funny things that I wouldn´t have expected from an apostle and it was really reassuring to see because it let me know it is okay to laugh and joke and be having a great time as you are doing the work. He didn´t really have a specific theme for his talk, he pretty much just asked questions and used the panel of guests that he had (the mission presidents from the 2 missions because it was a double mission conference, 2 members of the 70 and all of their wives) to help him answer them. It was cool because I noticed that the way he did his conference is the way we should be teaching a first lesson. Getting to know the people´s needs by asking them questions and helping them see how they can use the pure and simple gospel doctrines to solve their lives problems. I learned a lot and it was super fun because I got to see all of my old comps, even the ones that got switched to south mission. Speaking of switching... I got a call today from the asistentes and I´m being switched areas. I´m going to a new area called Mariano Roque Alonzo A and I´m going to train again and be the zone leader out there. I´m super excited to get to train again and we´ll be doing a white wash so it will be super fun to just start from scratch but I´m super sad to leave Trinidad and Elder Beus. Yesterday we had a church attendance of 117 people, that´s triple the amount that were coming my first couple of weeks! We also had a whole less-active family come back (we didn´t even really have to do much to help them) and we had 8 investigators in church! We have a baptism tomorrow and another 2 on Saturday with another one the next Saturday and two more the Saturday after that! I´m super bummed to be leaving because I´ve learned so much about relying on the Lord since I´ve been here, but I honestly feel like I´ve been able to be the instrument that the Lord wanted me to be here. I really hope that the same miracles that I´ve been seeing here in the past couple of months continue over to the people in Marano because I´ve just been at the highlight of my life lately. There was going to be a kid coming in from the Dominican Republic and I was really hoping to train him but rumor has it that he´s not actually coming in until the next change, but I´ll find out on Wednesday who I get to train. Training is super fun so I´m way excited to do that again and like I said I love white-washing an area and getting to establish your relation with the members and everything. I didn´t want to leave but I kinda knew I would and this was how I wanted it, white-washing and training. My new zone will be super interesting because It´s the chaco zone. My area is real close to Asunción but there are areas in the zone that are 9 hour bus rides away so it´ll be interesting to see how we work out divisions and such. The other zone leader is in one of those areas but it´ll be a super fun adventure and I´m super excited to get to know my new area.

So today I got to go mountain biking and it was sooooooooo much fun! I´m going to try to send some pics that I snapped because it was so beautiful. I now have to goal to mountain bike on every continent. Mom how was your birthday? Soy lo peor de tus hijos por no haberte felicitado en el día de tu cumpleaños, pero felicidades ahora! Also un gran felicidades to Duba doo (that´s caleb in case you´ve forgotten). I think it was a picture of him that you sent me but I didn´t recognize anything. Not Emma´s date (that was weird seeing dance stuff again, brought me back), not Maren not the couch not Caleb, it´s like I don´t know you! Haha but thanks for the pictures, I loved seeing them. Well I´ve got to go and pack up to go to my next area and prepare for my baptism tomorrow so wish me luck. I hope you all have a fantastic week.

Con amor,
Elder Zachary J. Hulsey

Elder Beus and I rockin our cerro porteño (my favorite soccer team out here) get up and me riding my bike through the jungle.


Monday, November 11, 2013

(No Subject)

Email received November 11, 2013

Hola familia,

Man what a great week. I´ve been so incredibly busy but it´s been super nice being busy because there is always something to do and you never have to stand around trying to figure something out to do. We have been blessed with so many awesome investigators. We had the primary program on sunday and it was a big success (and I still can´t get through that blasted program without shedding at least a tear or two, it always brings out my allergies). It was super cool because the Primary has been helping us with some kids of re-activating members and the kids had parts in the Primary program. It was super cool and we´ve been having a lot of really nice success in the area. It´s been super cool here because like I said we´re busy and a lot of the stuff that we have to do takes place in places outside of our area but the Lord can see that we´re just doing our best and then He really takes care of the rest. I had a lot of really cool experiences this week, Im just going to share a couple of them though because we don´t have too much time. So on Friday I had an interview with President Mcmullin and it was pretty sweet. So he´s notorious for scheduling 15 minute interviews then having them end after a half hour. So everyone before me had been interviewed for quite a while so I was expecting that he´d have a lot to tell me once I got in there, but it was actually kinda just a Shiblon experience. I got in and said the prayer and he asked me how I was doing and really before I could answer he told me he already knew how I was doing. He said I´ve got that twinkle in my eye that I have found my nitch and am just loving the mission. He said I just look like I´m super happy and having the time of my life. I told him he got that about right. Then he talked for about a minute just how it feels super good knowing that you´re doing all you can and being able to see the results from it because that doesn´t always happen. Then he said if there´s nothing else we´ll end with a prayer. All in all it lasted about 3 minutes max but coming out of that interview I felt so good. I felt like Shiblon and before I always imagined that he felt bad that his dad didn´t take too much time talking to him and counseling him but then I realized that it actually feels really good knowing that people don´t have to worry about you and that they can trust you to just work hard. One other kinda funny story that happened just today actually was I was waiting for a bus and I had a 2000 guaraní bill in my hand (that´s how much bus fare is) and this guy came up to me and he was obviously pretty fried and he was just saying "money money money" and getting in everyones faces. I told him I didn´t have any to give him so he grabbed the bill that was in my hand and tried taking it from me but I was still holding it and I was asking him to let go because I needed my bus-fare. Well we continued playing tug-a-war for a little when finally with his other hand he pulled out a little card with the virgin mary on it and flashed it to me. Inside it made me chuckle but I held it in. You´ve got to understand that this guy was really out of it and didn´t actually cause any threat so that ´s why I wasn´t afraid to try and keep my money, plus I really needed my bus fare. So finally I just told him that I would give him some coins and he let go of my money. But as I handed him the coins I thought it would also be a good idea to teach him the greater life lesson so I told him that that wasn´t the most effective way to ask for money. Then he took my coins and ran off. haha it was pretty funny. The many things that happen down here that just make you laugh. So this week I also feel like I´ve received pretty clear revelation that I should go to Utah State when I get home, so I´m pretty much decided on that now. It´s kinda like the same way I felt about Snow the year before i left home. I still have no idea what I want to study but those are just details that work themselves out. but as far as the support goes out here mom I´m actually not allowed to chat back and forth so it´s fine. I don´t like receiving too many packages because I can actually find most things here that I really need so it´s fine. One thing I would like just a little more of are pictures that you guys could send to me. I really like seeing pictures and you can just send those through email if you´d like. If you don´t have any start taking them. But life is good out here for your little paraguayíto. We´ve got Elder Christofferson coming tomorrow so that should be super fun and I´m way pumped. Pray for me and my investigators, I think I´ve really been under-utilizing the power of prayer these last few months of my mission. I hope you have a great week.


Con amor,
Elder Hulsey

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

(No Subject)

Email received November 4, 2013

Hola apreciada familia,

That´s great that halloween was a smashing success. Elder Beus and I successfully pulled off dressing as each other, he has the pictures on his camera and we´re actually on division right now so I´ll try to get those to you next week. This week was tough because due to a handful of things we had like no time to work in our area, but the time we did have you used the best we could and the Lord helped us a ton. We had 6 investigators in church! We were super scared because it was super rainy all day Saturday but by the time Sunday rolled around it was the most perfect weather. Elder Beus is 19 but he came out straight from of high school. I really like the 18 year old missionaries. A lot of them are pretty shy but they have amazing testimonies and they`ve brought such a cool spirit into the mission that it´s just incredible. We have so many hermanas in the mission and continue getting more but The Lord loves Paraguay because He´s been sending the best hermanas. I had always heard bad things about the hermana misisonaries before the mission and before I had any in my district or zone but so far all of the hermanas that I´ve been able to work with are amazing missionaries and do amazing work each week so I´ve got no complaints about them. We´re planning a big baptism for the 19th of November where we´re going to need some serious miracles happening so that everything goes through, but I`ve got faith that it all can. In jopara (that´s guaraní for "mixed" which they use to describe their language here because hardly anyone can actually speak pure guaraní so they mix it with a ton of spanish) what we´re planning is a bautismo guazú. It should be pretty fun. So this week we had tons of service opportunities which was super fun. One of them we got to do on Halloween so that was super nice, getting to shake things up a little bit. Then at the end of the night on halloween we went over to this house and started talking to a lady that we had been fore-warned about was super into her church and wouldn´t like to share with us. Since Elder Beus and I were wearing each others plaques we had a great conversation starter in explaining why, how it was a holiday in the states and this was a tradition kinda thing. She loved that and invited us in to talk a little about some of our other traditions and holidays and then she started explaining some of the ones they have here in Paraguay. Eventually she started talking about some of the bad traditions of Paraguay like drinking and smoking and how no body goes to church anymore or reads the scriptures. That was a great lead-in for us to start talking about the gospel and we ended up having a really spiritual lesson and the lady even accepted the baptismal invitation and an invitation to come to church (except in the end she didn´t actually come, but I suppose that´s why we have next week right). So then to finish the night off we came home and as we prepared for bed we had juice and dulce de leche on bread rolls and watched the scariest church movie we have (the one where Martin Harris loses the 116 pages of the Book of Mormon). It was a pretty fun night. yeah so as far as package stuff goes maybe thrown in some beef jerky, I kinda miss it, but other than that just whatever you want, I´m not hurting too bad for anything but pens. Well I´m pretty much out of things to say. I´m sorry if my letters are super boring, my life here is actually quite the opposite of boring there just is so much going on that I don´t even have time to process it all then put it in an email home. Just know that I´m super safe and super happy. Oh I just remembered one of the coolest things. So this less-active young man named alejandro that re-activated after one tiny visit from us and tons of sweet fellow-shipping from the ward went up and bore his testimony yesterday in sacrament meeting! He talked about the day before he went and did baptisms for the dead for the first time in his life and how it was super special. He talked about how he knows that this church is true. Since he´s been back he´s brought with him a less-active aunt and mom and siblings that still need to be baptized and he continues inviting all of his friends to come to church and talk with the missionaries. He had dropped out of school but he started his studies again so that when he turns 18 in three years he can leave on his mission! He was also just called as the teachers quorum president! When I first got here there was 1 active young man and last Sunday there were two benches full of them all in white shirts and ties. It is super powerful and the spirit radiating from them was indescribably strong. They´re all still crazy paraguayan teenage boys but they´re different because they hold the priesthood of God and they are part of a quorum, that´s a super special thing that I feel like I didn´t really understand just how special and powerful that was before. I love this work and I know it´s true and the Lord´s. I hope this week passes well for all of you!

Con amor,

Elder Zachary J. Hulsey

P.S. Mom your spanglish went right past me the first time I read through the email then as I re-read it I totally noticed it and felt super embarrassed that I didn´t catch it the first time.

(No Subject)

Email received October 28, 2013

Hola familia!

How´s everyone doing with their halloween preparations? I´m thinking this year I´m going around as Elder Beus. I´m going to wear his plaque and his tie and be him, it´ll be a great time. I really have no idea if they´ll celebrate it a little better here in Asunción than in Luque. It´s called día de las brujas (witches day) or they just say halloween (which I suppose they probably assume it´s spelled jalouín).We were thinking about going to this place called God´s Pan (that means God´s bread) with the asistentes for lunch but we´ll see how that turns out. It has been doing a lot of heat down here but I love it. Everyone is always sitting outside and since it´s so hot they don´t have enough energy to run and hide from you when you come up so you can get into a lot more lessons. The bugs are everywhere but I learned a long time ago to always carry around bug spray with me so when I start to see them I lather up. It always makes me feel like I´m camping. The other day we were sharing a lesson and this giant mosquito just plopped itself down on my scriptures. I´m not even kidding it was at least the size of a 50 cent piece! It was so massive but it didn´t get me don´t worry. Our teaching pool is doing well. We received some super awesome referencias from some recent converts this week which was super cool. Also since we´ve been working so much with the less actives it turns out a lot of them have children that never ended up getting baptized but our now more than old enough to be baptized. It´s a great way to reactivate the family by helping them help their children prepare for baptism. We´ve been seeing tons of success working with the less-actives. yesterday we had 19 of them return from our side and about the same from the other elders´ side too (including their children and babies)! It´s really been a huge blessing seeing so many of them return because the branch is getting super excited about it so they´re working even better with us now because they´re seeing real growth and success. I feel like our job as missionaries has been made so much easier because we pretty much just have to go and teach them and they all pretty much want to hear it. The Lord has been doing a lot of work here in Trinidad because the hearts of many have been pretty softened and humbled and they are feeling the need to come back to church to make things better and all we have to do is help them realize that´s what they need. I´m really excited to find out what Elder Christofferson has to say about all that to help us when he comes on the 13th! As far as interesting people that I´ve found there have been some strange ones but mostly just normal paraguayans. They are really cool people that are so generous and really over all friendly. They definitely have some big time quirks about them but so do I so we get along pretty well. For example the cyber we´re using right now the lady just brought us out sopa paraguaya (it´s kinda like corn bread but different, I´ll have to make it for you guys some day) and a giant glass of sprite each to me and my companion. They are super good sharers which I definately think was something that I had to learn how to do better from them. They are always greeting you with a friendly yell of something in guaraní and they always seem to be pretty happy even though they don´t really have much of anything. I imagine in some ways their lives are pretty stressful because they completely rely on their health, the weather, and everybody else for money (the majority of the people either sell stuff, recycle plastic bottles from the street, or work construction) and if they don´t have work one day there is a great chance they don´t eat, but they don´t worry about that too much. They´re kinda just in the moment kinda people. I don´t think that always being like that to the degree that most of them are is right, but I definitely think they have something with not stressing so many things all of the time. Tranquilo no más. I can´t really remember anything super specific last week that happened so I´ll just try to make something super sweet happen this week and let you guys know how that went. I love you all and Feliz día de brujas.

Con amor,
Elder Zachary J. Hulsey

I hope this photo comes through. It´s of me and this other elder in my zone named Elder Gunther and this kid named Ruben. We met him at the operation smile thing and he was hilarious.

Email received October 21, 2013

Hola apreciada familia,

I sure love you guys and hope your day is going awesome! I´ve had a pretty nice week. We had a super cool baptism on Saturday for this 20 year old guy named Wilson. He was so prepared and we didn´t really have to do anything. He was also a reference from our branch president and we got to teach him with some youth from the branch and one of them even baptized him so it was just a super nice service. Probably the most successful one in my mission. I was so scared the whole day because nothing was going wrong and something always goes wrong but in the end nothing did. He showed up the next day and was confirmed without any problems, Success! I´ve really had to refine my planning abilities and time management because there are a lot of things to do each day but I feel like that´s one of the reasons I´m at where I´m at right now because the Lord knew I really needed to learn these things. But as I manage my time well there´s plenty of time to work hard and have a great time doing it. In some ways I feel like I haven´t changed at all on my mission and that I´m still just the same zack (that´s weird typing my first name like that. The only time I ever use my first name is on official things where I have to write out Zachary) but at the same time I feel like I´ve learned so much better how to work hard, be obedient, and also be a human that makes mistakes. I struggled a lot with that before the mission and I feel like that´s why I was always so stressed and couldn´t make decisions but lately I´ve had to make a lot of decisions and I´ve learned how to do that a lot easier without all of the unnecessary stress. Right now in my mission I feel super blessed because I feel like I´ve got a handle on things and that I don´t really have to many problems weighing me down. I´ve been able to focus a lot better and the language hasn´t been an issue and I really haven´t felt homesick my entire misión I feel like so I´m super blessed. I feel like the Lord is blessing me without any big problems right now so that I can better help others without having to worry about myself so much. Elder Beus is such an amazing missionary and he´s got so much on his plate so I´m super glad that I´ve been able to learn better how to minister with him. I´ve still got so much to learn but I feel like I´ve learned so much about that. A new theme of mine that has been causing me to think a lot lately is when the Savior says, "He that will be mighty among you let him be your servant". That has really stuck out to me and I feel like I didn´t really understand that before. Just what is the point of a leader. I´m learning so much and if nothing else it´s really been motivating me to work super hard. I´m super pumped because they told us today that Elder D. Todd Christofferson from the quorum of the doce apóstoles is coming down here to Paraguay for a dual mission conference here in Moroni (that´s the area right above mine so super close) in a few weeks! I get to see another apostle and I don´t even have to travel that far to do it!

So as far as operation smile goes we just got to move all of their equipment into a truck to bring it to the south mission, but I think they´re still going to give us T-shirts for doing that because we get to do it again in a week so totally worth it to me(you know me, I love free t-shirts). Today we did a way cool zone activity in the temple. We got to go in and clean it and it was super cool because we got to go see all of the innerworkings of temple. Some of us almost made it all the way up to the Angel Moroni (the guy giving us the special tour got an emergency phone call right when we got to the ladder that leads up to it so we had to go) but it was super sweet. I got to clean the baptismal font and it felt really weird hanging out in water for that long but it was a blast. The spirit is still so strong in the temple even when your cleaning it, I really enjoyed the experience. We have a super cool family home evening planned for tonight with a recent convert family that has invited another family over to hear the gospel, I love missionary work! We also contacted the family that owns the cyber we usually use and they totally denied us but this morning when we went in so I could send some things to the office via email and after the lady asked when we were coming back because she wants to share with us ya. Miracle are happening all of the time, it´s super cool to be a part of them. I hope you have a rockin week.

Un abrazo
Elder Zachary J. Hulsey

Monday, October 14, 2013

(No Subject)‏

Email received October 14, 2013

Hola familia! Boy what a week, I feel like there´s hardly time to breath but I really like being busy and not having any time to waste. There is less-time to the actual missionary work but not doing it as much makes me work even harder when I can do it. This week had some really cool things, one of them being one of the highlights of my entire mission. So as far as the giant baptism goes 5 people ended up being baptized so that was super cool. Our baptisms fell through and half of the other side´s baptisms did too, but I still feel like it was a success. So I think I´ve said this before but we share the area with the asistentes and last week we got a new one named Elder Shumway. The best way to describe Elder Shumway is Russell Allphin, super funny and an awesome attitude. I love getting to work with them. So anyways this week I had to go to a meeting for operation smile because they want the missionaries to participate in the program, so the asistentes asked me to go to the meeting for them with the other zone leader in my zone, Elder Yauney. So we went and they told us it was going to be a super official meeting with doctors from the States so we had to be super professional. So we arrived 15 minutes early and had put on our nicer shirts and ties and polished the shoes and the works. When we got there we arrived at the same time as a group of highschool girls but we just assumed that they were there to hang out with the doctors children or something. So we walked in and they told us to go sign in and as we signed in the sign in paper asked us for our highschool's name. We looked around and realized that everybody there looked about high school age and they were pretty much all girls. We talked to the person who looked in charge and she said we were in the right place. So we called the asistentes and they told us to stick around and see if we could get some information out of it. We tried to see if we could just get the information we needed straight from the source and then leave but she told us we just needed to stay in the meeting and we´d learn what we need to. So we sat in the very back corner as all of the highschoolers looked at us and it was super awkward. We sat through the entire meeting at didn´t get any of the information that we needed so we talked to the lady again after and they all of the sudden she had all of the information we needed ready. Haha we ended up being there in total about 2 and a half hours with a group of like 20 highschool girls and 5 highschool guys. It was pretty funny the whole situation but we might get to participate in operation smile next week so it was totally worth it. It was actually really cool and i learned a lot about operation smile and I really like the program. Anyways that was not the thing that was the highlight of my mission That happened just yesterday. There is a less-active family that I´ve been working with since before Elder Beus got here and The wife and children have been coming to church. Two of the daughters aren´t baptized yet but are over 8 so we´ve been working on them about that, but the husband/father would never talk with us and actually threw me out of the house multiple times and didn´t treat me very respectfully, but I kept feeling like I needed to return and try with him. Well yesterday I saw him standing in front of his house so I went up to say hi to him and talk about the baptism of his daughters when all of the sudden he just invited us in and gave us some water and started talking to us. He started out by saying that his family has said good things about us and that is really important to him. He also sincerely apologized for the way he treated me. I talked to him about things and in the end he gave us permission to baptize his daughters and he said he wants to come back to church and see them progress in the gospel! I have been praying and working so hard for this family for so long now and it was one of the highligts of my mission as he invited us in and accepted what we had to say. He said he wants us to continue to stop by and teach his family too. I know that this is a culmination of our work, the work that the branch president has put in with this family, and more than anything the Lord´s hand in this. I felt like Ammon in Alma 26 and I feel like I had a taste of real joy. I love this work and I love this gospel. I feel like the Lord really wants us helping these less-active families come back to the gospel. I also talked to the Elders of my last area today and they told me that the familia Cristaldo is still active. I can´t describe to you how amazing it feels to see people you love so much and work so hard with and spend so much time on your knees praying on their behalf accept the gospel because it truly is the most important thing they could ever do. Like I said about Alma 26, v. 27-31 pretty much sum up the way that I feel. So much of missionary work is so hard and you are frustrated and disappointed and questioning what it could possibly be that you are doing wrong, but in these moments you learn just whose work it is and you grow so much closer to the Savior. But one of the greatest feelings for me in missionary work and honestly that I´ve ever really felt is seeing real growth, because to me that´s what success is. Success to me isn't necessarily baptizing a thousand people, but seeing the church grow down here and seeing souls come unto Christ. These souls are investigators, less-active members, ward leaders that faithfully come every week even if they have no idea how to properly perform their calling. I love so much being able to strengthen everyone and in the end I feel like I´m more strengthened than anybody else. One of the greatest feelings on earth is getting word that a less-active person or family, or a recent convert that you baptized is still going to church and active after you´ve left. I´m tearing up here in the cyber just trying to write how I feel about this work. I love the Savior so much. I´ve been realizing a lot lately just what it means that he did a perfect Atonement. That means that it doesn´t matter what our sins our because He suffered for them all. I think a lot of times instead of having faith that the Atonement is actually perfect we doubt and think that there´s no way that He could actually have paid for this sin or there´s no way that He could actually forgive me this many times. The truth is if it wasn´t a perfect Atonement than that would be completely true, but it was and is perfect! Repentance is not a plan B but rather the plan of happiness! I love my Savior so much and i love being on His team in teaching others about this plan. I´m working hard and keeping all of the rules the very best I can because I´m representing no one less than Jesus Christ and I love Him and love His work. I hope you guys have an awesome week!

Un abrazo y mucho amor,
Elder Zachary J. Hulsey

These are a few guys that got baptized last year and are leaving on their missions The one in the white leaves tomorrow to Mexico and the one in the blue leaves next week to Argentina. They are from Luque but I met them in Capiata and they invited me to their going away party. They are pretty sweet youth. Also before I forget, in the next package you send if you could send some pens, preferable black because they are really expensive and kinda a pain to buy here, that would be super nice. Love you



Friday, October 11, 2013

Email received October 7, 2013

Hola familia,

So this week was pretty fun and pretty crazy. First off we got changes today and me and Elder Beus are staying together here in Trinidad, but I have been called as zone leader now. So today I had a big meeting with President and all of the zone leaders in the mission and it was super amazing. The problem is that due to that meeting I have like no more time in the cyber, so once again this weeks letter is not going to be that great. But I really loved general conference, it was cool watching it in Spanish but you don´t get to hear all of the funny jokes they always tell. We`ll download it in English. My favorite talk I think was Elder Russell M. Nelson´s at the end and President Dieter F. Uchtdorf´s when he talked about how our church requires a lot of time. I really liked that because I realized that true religion should require consecration and that being a member of this church isn´t just being a member of something that you do once a week but rather a way of life. It´s a way to direct your life and live the right way. I also really liked Elder Nelson´s because I like how he talked about controlling our bodies. It´s really hard to eat healthy here in Paraguay but it is important so I will do my best. I really am loving my mission. I´m currently with my MTC comp who also went up as Zone Leader too and he gets to hang out here for a few days so it´s been super fun. I will write you better next week (I hope) and have a great week.

Con amor,
Elder Zachary J. Hulsey


Email received September 30, 2013

Hola familia,

Espero que todo esté bien con ustedes. We had a really fun P-day today just full of fun activities. I went with one of my zone leaders, the one whose going home next week, and we made the hermanas in my district breakfast at the church. It was fun and we all had a really fun time. Then today I also found a quiznos sub so Elder Beus and I jumped all over that. Elder Beus is still the best missionary ever, I´m still sooooooo glad that he is my companion. We´ve been working super hard and we finally broke 100 asistencia in church on Sunday! The other missionaries have been working incredibly hard too on the otro lado so it´s just a magical time here. We need a lot of prayers and miracles for this general conference because if we can get people to come and watch then we´re looking at a super sweet baptismal service a week from tomorrow (Tuesday). The other Elders have a ton of investigators and we have some too that could all potentially be ready for baptism on that date and that would be super cool because there´s a new group of missionaries coming in that day and the assistants wanted to show them a giant baptismal service for their first day so we´re just hoping that all goes well there. Last week I had some of the coolest experiences of my mission. We were teaching one of our super cool investigators and she told us she was convinced that what we were teaching was true because when she saw Mayra´s baptism she felt something that she had been looking for. It was sweet but it got even cooler because then I started explaining a story from the Book of Mormon and her mom came out and decided to listen because the story sounded interesting. The mom then told us all of these problems that she´s going through and that she´s had with her religion. She started talking about how she doesn´t like going to her church anymore because she feels like there´s something more she needs to learn that they can´t teach her. Then she told us how she feels like the memorized prayer she always gives seems kinda worthless and with out power. We taught her how to pray and after a bit of hesitation she agreed to pray with us. It was one of the most sincere and powerful prayers I had ever heard in my life. I could just tell that she knew she was talking with God and that He was listening. She broke down into tears in the middle of her prayer and afterwords told us that this is what she´s been looking for. She´s got a lot of difficulties to over-come like her job she has to work on Sunday mornings, but I know that as she develops more faith in Christ and takes more confidence in the feelings she had as she prayed with us that she will be able to overcome all of these things. I´m super pumped for General conference. It looks like unless we travel to a different chapel we won´t be able to watch it in English, and it´d be hard to travel because we need to look for our investigators and help them attend conference, but we´ll see how everything works out. They always give us the conference liahona in English anyways, just a few months late is all. Well I´ve got to go and get some groceries then get out to work so I love you all and hope you have an excellent week. Good luck in school all of you and pórtense bien.

Con amor,
Elder Zachary J. Hulsey

Monday, September 23, 2013

Email received September 23, 2013

Hola familia!
How was your week last week? Our week was super hard but super awesome! We had a baptism on Saturday, this girl named Mayra got baptized and it was a super awesome experience, we also had three super awesome investigators attend that baptismal service so that was awesome, the only sad part is that it turns out that one of those investigators actually lives in the assistants´ area she just is always visiting her sister who lives in our area, but it´s fine because the hermanas in the area next door had to pass us a set of triplets that´s been going to church for the same reasons so it´s all fair in the end I suppose. Mayra is cool because she is doing all of this to try and help her little son have a better life. She´s passed through a lot of hard trials so it was cool being able to see her progress in the gospel to baptism. I got really nervous on Sunday because it started to rain and I was afraid that Mayra wouldn´t go to her confirmation but when I called in the morning to tell her to not be afraid of the rain she was already up and on her way to the church and she got there before me and my companion. Even though we had rain there was actually a lot of people in church. It was one of the first Sundays where we as missionaries didn´t have to do anything during the sacrament and it was way cool because I realized of the 4 kids passing the sacrament 2 of them were these previously less-actives that me and my comp have been working with to reactivate and one of them was this kid that the assistants had baptized a few weeks ago! I thought that was super cool! There was also an entire family, mom dad and 3 kids that we´ve been working with for so long and they all came back to church (one of them passed the sacrament on Sunday). I´ve been thinking a lot lately about all of the people that I´ve been able to teach in my mission and I was thinking about my converts. I´ve been feeling a big need to be praying for them and I had a great tender mercy today that has to do with that. I went over with my companion to the mission office so he could sign into the country and there were a ton of other missionaries there. I found the elders where I heard one of my very first converts had moved to, Nidia, and I asked them if they even knew who she was. I was very disappointed when they said no, but then I wanted to make sure so I showed them a picture and he lit up and said you baptized her, I thought she had been a member for years! She still comes to church and is active! I was soooooooooooo excited to hear that because I love their little family. I felt at such great peace knowing that she was still active and that her husband has been making some positive changes as well. I just felt literally like a shepherd who had found his sheep. I imagine that´s how the Savior feels about us, sometimes we get lost but when we come back and do what He asks then he rejoices greatly. It really helped me realize that I haven´t been working this last year in vain. I´m really happy with how my mission has been up to this point and I´m super happy that I still have a really long time to keep working out here. I love my area so much. We got a reference from our branch president, I´m noticing a change in him, he seems like he wants to be more involved in the work now so I´m super pumped. He gave us the reference to someone he´s been talking to at work so we contacted him the next day and he´s super awesome. He´s been to church a lot and was going to be baptized but got a call to go down to Argentina to work for a few months so never ended up being baptized. But he brought his Book of Mormon with him and read a ton and now he´s back and wants to learn more and get baptized. He even came to Mayra´s baptismal service. I also really love Elder Beus. He understands my sense of humor so well and we're working so well together. He´s a big example to me and I feel so blessed that the Lord put us together. He has sacrificed so much and is always smiling and never complains and is just such a solid guy and a real role-model for me. I really love my district and zone. I`m super bummed because my zone leader is going home in just a few weeks and I love him so much, he was actually in my first zone with me, he was training another missionary. That`s the part I hate more than anything in the mission is saying good-bye. But other than that I love my mission so much. I even have grown to love sweating through my shirts because I feel good about having walked under the hot sun all day and put in a good days work. I also really love the scriptures, especially the Book of Mormon. I love reading it and as a missionary I feel like everything I read in there applies directly to me and to the work, it´s super sweet. Most of all I love the Lord. I love that He´s perfect and knows how to love imperfect people and use them too to help progress His work. I have absolutely no doubt that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the only true and living church on the earth. I can´t tell you how convinced I am of that. I love you guys so much and I hope you have an awesome week. I hope all goes well with Maren´s big party this week too.
Con mucho amor,
Elder Zachary J. Hulsey

Monday, September 16, 2013

Email received September 16, 2013

Hola familia,

Como están todos? This week was pretty great. Elder Beus is a spiritual giant and I really love and respect him and he´s super funny so we´ve been getting along pretty well. He´s actually a lot like Spencer in a lot of ways so it´s been really fun. Our investigators are doing really well. We have one that has been investigating the church for the past like 6 years but she is scheduled to be baptized on Saturday and she is super pumped. She´s been inviting people and everything so that should be a really cool experience. She already knows tons of people in church so the fellowshipping should be great. I´m glad Travis made it safely to Argentina without any visa problems. I had heard that they weren´t even going to be sending Americans there anymore just for the visa problems so I´m really happy about that, he´ll love it so much. South America is such an amazing place, I love it. Haha today we were on a bus and two Americans walked on and I instantly recognized them as Americans because they stood out so much with the light hair and blue eyes. I started chuckling to myself but then realized that if they stick out that much wearing regular clothes how much more do I stick out wearing missionary clothes and being American, haha it was a funny realization that took me a whole year to realize. The big city is pretty awesome. I love being so close to all the action and the missionaries in this zone are the best because they work really hard but play really hard too. We´ve been waking up early and playing basketball in the mornings because the assistants and us both live within like two blocks of the church and the 4 elders that are in the office have a car so they´ve been coming down to play and it´s been super fun. It seems like President Mcmullin doesn't like to take missionaries out of their area very quickly so I´m glad I got placed in such a great area. My apartment is pretty bad. It´s one of two apartments in this mission that has carpet (and the carpet is super gross) so the mission doesn´t have vacuum cleaners in the office to give us and our vacuum cleaner blew up a few weeks ago so it´s kinda hard to keep it clean. But I actually kinda like it because it´s small and close to everything and we don´t spend a lot of time there anyways. I tried sending pictures but this computer won´t let me so hopefully next week. Elder Beus is really funny because he´s afraid of all of the little bugs and germs and everything. I think you all would be very proud of me because I have officially gotten over all of my germ fears, you can´t really have those down here.

I did a division with a chileno this week and that was cool because I´ve been afraid that my Spanish is getting worse with Elder Beus but he told me I speak really well and even have a decent accent. Also today we were playing soccer and I went up against this same chileno and he tried to do some fancy trick but I got in his way and shut him down (I can´t actually say it was with any skill but it looked cool) then took the ball down and scored a goal. haha it was pretty funny and then they made me an honorary Latin. Haha I love Latin people but I'm way too American to be Latin and everyone knows it but it was fun anyways.

So Elder Beus and I had a super cool experience this week. We were teaching this family and it was the first time they had let us in to teach them. We went in and started teaching and I did most of the teaching. I was trying to teach to their needs but I was having a really hard time of getting them to open up. They accepted what we had taught but I felt like they didn´t really understand the importance or anything of it. So then we were finishing up and I looked to Elder Beus so that he would have one last chance to share his testimony before we left. He decided to try and ask them a question and he got it out in the most broken up Spanish you´ve ever heard. I was going to try and re-state his question for him but I felt like I should just let the people try and figure it out. The husband started to try to rephrase the question as he understood it and as he did so he completely opened up. He expressed that they had recently moved in and all of their family lived far away and that they felt really alone and that they didn´t have anybody to help them. We shared with them about how they can always rely on the Lord for help and how in the church we are a giant family and we all help one another. They seemed to really like that and we have another appointment tonight in about an hour to go back and share with them some more. Afterwords I asked Elder Beus what he thought he had asked them and it was not the question that the man had heard. That was a super humbling moment for me because I realized even more how it´s the Holy Ghost that is the teacher and that what we say isn´t nearly as important as what the people feel. I studied a lot more about how to invite the Holy Ghost in my lessons and I realized just whose work this really is. What Dad wrote me is true, we get to a point where we think we can easily categorize people and know exactly how they´ll respond but being here in Trinidad has completely changed my view on that because the people here are different. I feel like there are a lot of people that are prepared to hear and accept the gospel right now. El campo blanco está ya, we don´t have to wait around for it. We have been working with this family that had been throwing the missionaries out of their house for years (they´ve even thrown me out a couple of times) but they are finally coming back to church after years and are allowing us to come by and visit them. They have two daughters that still need to be baptized and then they can enter the temple! The seeds have been planted in many people here and now is the harvest. We are still doing plenty of seed planting don´t get me wrong. We are still having plenty of rejections and not everything is just peaches and roses (I don´t know if that´s a saying but I use it a lot) but I feel like now more than any other time in my mission we´re finding tons of people, less-active members and investigators, that are prepared to accept and live the gospel to receive the incredible blessings awaiting them. As I get to see people come back and receive the blessings it strengthens my testimony so much. Revelation is available to us in the very moment we need it through the Book of Mormon, I know this from personal experience. The gospel blesses families. By small and simple things such as daily personal and family prayer and scripture study and weekly church attendance great things are brought to pass. I know that this is the only true church that has God´s holy priesthood authority, the authority to act in the name of Christ. ¡Que Cosa! I love you all so much and pray for you every night. I hope this week treats you well and that you´re all happy and safe.

con mucho amor,
Elder Zachary J. Hulsey

Monday, September 9, 2013

(no subject)

Email received September 9, 2013

Hola familia,

Hows it going? Life down here is fantastic. Elder Beus and I are getting along great and having a blast! We always joke around and talk about things like, " Well back in the guay" instead of back in Nam, we have really similar senses of humor. We had a baptism last Saturday and let me tell you what, Satan did not want that baptism happening! Friday night somebody had broken into the church and turned on at least one of the sinks and left it like that all night so Saturday morning we went over and everything was flooded and a lot of the tiles in the floor and baptismal font were destroyed. So we spent all morning Saturday trying to get all of that situated, then at the actual baptismal service not one single member from our branch showed up! Luckily the hermanas had come with their little investigator and her grandpa who is an active priesthood holder so my companion and him were the witnesses and I baptized her. In the end it`s all good because it was the baptism of an hermana from the ward that has been reactivating and she was happy to see her daughter get confirmed and baptized. Also there were plenty of people in church on Sunday. I was a little bummed that that´s how Elder Beus´s first baptism went down but I just explained to him how important baptism is so Satan works extra hard to make sure it doesn`t happen. But aside from that we had such an awesome week. We were able to find tons of really cool people to teach and we had some of the most spiritual and powerful lessons that I`ve had my entire mission. We found this one lady whose 5 year old daughter died 2 months ago and two years ago her dad and new-born of just a few weeks if I remember right died as well. Her husband lives apart from them because I think his family takes care of him because he had an accident a few years ago and can`t walk anymore. Anyways as we were sharing the Plan of Salvation with her you could just see the hope coming back that the pain doesn`t have to stay and that she can see her children again as long as she does her part. It was really cool and we had multiple lessons this week that were just so powerful, tanto with less active members como with investigators. There is this part member family that we`ve been trying to work with because one of their kids, this youth of like 15 years, has completely re-activated and now his mom has been coming back too. We`ve been trying to get in and teach them but the dad, who also is a less-active member, always gives us lame excuses and doesn`t let us in. But I`ve been feeling like we should still stop by and just let them know that we`re thinking about them. So on Sunday the wife finally set up an appointment with us and said that her husband mentioned that if she could find him a pair of used church pants that he would like to come back! I told her I have plenty of pants and would love to give her a pair, I don`t think they`ll fit him very well but i`m going to try. This is a family that can enter into the temple here in a few months and will be a great help to the branch so it makes me super happy to be able to help them. I love being a missionary so much because you really get to help people in such a unique way. Well I love you all and hope you have an excellent week. I`m going to send you some pictures of some recent adventures (like today we went to a museum of chairs, it was actually pretty cool and it turns out the tour-guide lives in my area, is the cousin of a recent convert, used to go to our church but never got baptized, and is willing to listen to us again (he even took a picture on his cell-phone with us haha)).

Rohayhu (that means I love you in Guaraní)

Elder Zachary J. Hulsey






Monday, September 2, 2013

(No Subject)‏

Email received September 2, 2013

Hola familia,

Hey sorry that I sounded down in my last letter, I was actually kinda feeling the opposite. I´ve realized so many things that took me a while to realize and that took coming out on the mission to realize, but now I can fix them so I´m really glad. That´s one thing I´ve learned out here, it´s not bad to realize that we don't do certain things right as long as we´re willing to fix them and let the Lord make weak things become strong. So I´m super happy, don´t worry. So we did get changes and my companion left. I got a new companion from Utah and he´s BRAND NEW (I´m training him). His name is Elder Beus and I believe I forwarded you an email from him that has our pictures. Training has been pretty fun so far, I like remembering how crazy and new it all is at the beginning. It´s been weird because I still feel brand new but now being with Elder Beus I realize even more how much I´ve learned in the last year. It was pretty cool because after the training meeting last Wednesday President talked to me and told me that when he was trying to figure out who should train who that he saw my name on the list and had no doubts that me and Elder Beus should be together, he said it was one of the ones that was super clear and that he didn´t have to even think about it. I can already see why because I´ve learned so much from him already. He´s sacrificed a lot to be here and has gone through some incredibly difficult things in the last couple of weeks so I´m doing my best to not be one more difficult thing that he has to deal with. He´s super respectful and brave (he talks to anyone I tell him to talk to even though he can barely form a sentence), but he´s also super green so it´s been pretty funny. Sometimes I feel like we´re in the best two years because we´ll sit down and talk with people and they´ll tell him something and he just gets a super worried look on his face and looks at me and asks me "what did they just say"? Haha I can only laugh because a few months ago I was in the same boat and I can now look back and laugh at myself for all of my silly fears and not understanding. But this kid brings the Spirit with him! We had an attendance of 97 people in church on Sunday (that´s double than the attendance when I first got here)! The weather has warmed up so that has played a big part in it, but he´s also got a powerful testimony. We have had really powerful lessons with people and people are changing their lives. There´s this one girl that about a year ago got in a big motorcycle accident while her and her boyfriend got drunk and drove away and she is now paralyzed and her boyfriend walked away unharmed. She has a lot of built up rage and such as is expected and she doesn´t like visitors, but we went over with this less-active guy that´s her friend and he told us to walk on in with him and she said she would listen. I told her a little bit about my brother because he was born kinda sick, she recently told me that when i told her that for some reason she just trusted me because she felt like I wouldn´t be weirded out by that kind of stuff. She also likes my companion because he doesn´t say much but what he says is always really nice (I think it also helps that hes super blonde with blue eyes). So as we´ve been working with her her heart has been softening a lot and she says she can´t explain it but she always feels really good when we share together (and this less-active guy has been getting super excited about the gospel again too because we always share with him there too). She has changed from saying that she will never leave the house in her wheel chair to now she´s promised that she will come to church (she hasn´t said when but we´re making progress). She also got up the courage and called her ex-boyfriend to tell him she forgives him, he wasn´t home the first time so she tried back two more times! She said she had just thought about what we had taught her about forgiving and how Christ could help her and it seemed like the right thing to do! In the short time I´ve been with Elder Beus we have had multiple experiences like that with many different people and it´s been incredible and super rewarding. There´s a part in Preach My Gospel that says the best way to help someone is by teaching them the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I know that that´s true. It´s not necessarily all about baptizing thousands of souls but you can make a difference in the lives of many just by teaching them true doctrine. Well I´m loving it out here and I´m having a great time. It´s kinda tough because we now do an extra hour of companionship study as part of the training process and I still have to do some things that pull my time out of my area, but it's all good because it´s the Lord´s work and it´s what he wants me to do. I´m trying to do my best to train Elder Beus because I know it´s completely un-related but I really want Spencer to have the best trainer so I feel like if I do my best with Elder Beus than maybe Spencer will for some reason get an even better trainer (if nothing else its helping me be a better trainer so it´s not a bad thing). I hope you all enjoy this week of school.

Con amor,
Elder Zachary J. Hulsey