Monday, April 29, 2013

(No Subject)

Email received April 29, 2013

Hola familia,

Como están todos! Alright so I don´t have too much time because I had to go to Asunción today and sign into the country (what a drag, but it was actually a lot of fun), and it´s a little late, but I´ll try to get a decent letter in igual. It was fun going to Asunción though and I got to see Elder Morinigo again which was super fun. He´s doing well and it was really cool getting to catch up with him and everyone that got here with me. Alright so Travis Maddox, I got your dearelder and it meant a lot to me, thanks and honestly don´t worry about the language. Being in a country where you´re forced to speak it makes you learn it. Just study during the language study time, be obedient so you have the Spirit, and love the people and you´ll do great. Also there´s an Elder in my zone from the Mendoza mission so I´ve been hounding him for information. He told me that it´s in a valley and that the members are awesome. It´s really well developed but it still has a few small villages. He said you are going to put on tons of weight because the members feed you tons of steak. I didn´t really know what you wanted me to ask him so just send me a list of questions and I´ll gladly get you all of the info I can. Get your visa stuff turned in as soon as possible because the sooner you get it turned in, the less time you´ll spend waiting for your visa in the Salt Lake mission (the two guys from my district in the MTC in your mission now had to wait a few months in Salt Lake). So also my package came this week, I haven´t opened it but it´s at my house. Elder Williamson and I are together another change and I´m happy about that. I´m the only comp that he´s been three changes with and this is the longest time he´s been in an area so that made me feel a little better that maybe I´m getting a little easier to get along with. So If you guys could tell all of my friends to feel free to email me that would be great, because I have two hours to email (unless I have to go to Asunción unexpectedly again). So Spencer there is also a kid in my zone (Elder Zilm, he´s sitting right next to me right now) and his brother is in your mission right now. I can pump him for whatever info you want and I will let you know, he´s also going to forward you some pics. So today I also ate lunch with Elder Osborne (Uncle Rick´s companion´s son). He´s a super friendly guy (and really tall too). He´s out in Luque right now. So for mother´s day I will be skyping home (that works out best for me) and I will be doing it on the Saturday before. I have to talk with Elder Williamson first (I´m currently on a division so I can´t ask him right now) about the time but I´ll let you know next week. Just plan for Saturday probably some time in the morning for you guys.
So this week was pretty dang awesome! Diego is progressing very well but he couldn´t come to church this week because his grandma got sick and couldn´t take him. Sebastiana wasn´t able to either but we´ll see why soon. I had a couple of really neat experiences this week. So one is that I realized even more how the Lord works in mysterious ways. Elder Williamson and I have been trying to work as hard as we can and be completely obedient. We also fasted for a miracle on Sunday but we didn´t have a single investigator in church. However a miracle did indeed happen on Sunday. Randomly the area president, President Giovani, decided to come and attend our sacrament meeting! He gave such a great talk and I received tons of amazing revelation about how to improve the area, but además, he went and really explained to the bishop how it´s the members job to fill our planner with meaningful activities (we´ve been having a hard time getting members excited about the work) so now I believe it will be a lot better working with the members because that´s really the key to success.
The other really cool experience happened in this contact this week. We got this reference from a member for this crazy lady that we had taught once (she was really crazy). We decided that we would contact it again anyways so that we could build the members´confidence in us. We clapped in front of the gate and this girl that we hadn´t met before came out. She looked like she had been crying and that she was having a really hard time. She told us that she didn´t have time and to go away basically. I could tell that she needed some serious spiritual help but everything we were trying to say she was just saying how busy she was and to leave. Finally I prayed to know what to say and I told her that we didn´t want to take any of her time or force her to do anything, we just are here to offer more peace. She then said that that´s exactly what she needs right now, peace. My comp asked her if she had ever prayed to ask for peace and she confessed that she hadn´t. She still wasn´t letting us in but she was at least talking with us. We offered to teach her how to pray but she wasn´t having any of it. We told her we would try to come back another time, but then I felt really impressed to ask her if we could pray right there with her. She said it would be okay and my comp asked if we could enter the gate to do it. She let us in and even said we could share a scripture! I knew exactly what scripture to share with her (the last verse in John 16 I think it was) and she opened up and told us all sorts of things in her life. She really wants to change and she said church last week would be impossible but this week she really wants to. We also set up a return appointment for tonight! It was such a cool experience because it was totally guided by the Spirit. I love when the Spirit speaks so clear to you and you just know how the Lord wants to help this person. It´s super important that we are always listening to the Spirit and worthy of it so that he can always be with us and trust us to follow his promptings. I hope you guys have an awesome week and that you work hard in all you do. I think I´ve probably sent this quote home like a hundred times but it´s one of my all time favorites "Do your duty that is best, leave unto the Lord the rest" (I don´t know if President Monson was quoting someone else when he said that, but I know that he´s said it). I love you all sooooo much and I can´t wait to talk with you in a few weeks.

Con amor,
Elder Zachary J. Hulsey (I guess I´d better start getting in the habbit of signing off like that seeing as there will be two of us Elder Hulsey´s here dentro de poco)

Monday, April 22, 2013

Email received April 22, 2013

OH man I am so pumped for these mission calls!!!!!!!!! I got called on Thursday morning and the office elder that called me was way excited for you Spencer! So I actually already knew Travis was going to Argentina. It was the weirdest thing but on Wednesday I had a dream that someone opened their call to Argentina and then I got called and they told me Spencer is going to the DR and so then I started thinking and I could so easily picture Travis in Argentina. The Mendoza mission gets pretty cold (a guy in my last ward served there and 2 guys in the Mtc with me, also two guys in the mtc and my mtc teacher served in the DR, I think one is there right now, I also met a girl from the DR in the MTC, she was really nice), and the Mendoza mission is in a really nice part of Argentina. I want you guys to send me Travis´s email because our rule for the cyber just barely changed and we can now email friends and family and we have a bit more time so do it so I want to let him know a few more things about Argentina that i've learned. Gosh I´m just so excited right now! I had such a great week last week (by an amazing miracle we had 6 investigators in church!) and these mission calls just got me so pumped and really affirmed to me that I´m in the right mission. I love my paraguayos so much and this country too. So this week was the presidencial elections here so when I found out about Spencer´s call the first thing that popped in my head was that he is going to go and bring all of those republicans to the light (just a joke though because I´m a republican myself). So Spencer´s Spanish is going to be so much better than mine because rumor has it that the best and fastest Spanish spoken is in the DR! Don´t worry about the MTC because i´ve talked to several missionaries that went straight to other MTC´s and they always make it okay and love the MTC´s. The DR mtc used to be a hotel so its super nice and it´s right by a big university so they get to go and contact the people in the university! its super cool! also Travis just so you know they normally call about a week before you´re supposed to enter in to the Provo MTC to tell you that you´re actually going to the Argentine MTC so watch out for that. So if you want a little worldly preparation for your missions the music that is really popular in the DR is obviously regatón (This will be really popular among the people that Caleb will be serving as well) and some of the really popular artists are Daddy Yankee, Wisin y yandel, ñengo flow and pitbull (at least here in Paraguay they are always playing music so loud in the streets so I´ve been exposed to a lot, But I´m not listening to this kind of music don´t worry I´m still obedient, I got these names from Elder Menchaca, he loves regatón). In Argentina they listen to something called Cumbia Argentina and I only know one really big group and its called Nene Malo. In Paraguay they listen to something called Cumbia Paraguaya. I don´t know if I should recommend to any of you to look any of these groups up because a lot of these songs (at least the ones I´ve heard in the streets) don´t talk about really great things. But that´s actually one reason that I was thinking about how my mission is perfect for me and Spencer´s for him. Regatón is a lot like the music that he used to listen to and Cumbia Paraguaya is more like what I used to listen to. I´m not going to lie, I was a little jealous because Spencer´s Spanish is going to be so good, but it was really good motivation for me to study the language even more diligently. Also that day that they told me about Spencer´s call I just got so pumped about Paraguay for some reason! The mission is so great and it really doesn´t matter where you serve because the work is all the same and it´s all super difficult and it´s all super rewarding!
So we still haven´t heard anything about changes but we´ll find out today. Elder Williamson and I are down to stay together another change, we´ll just see what happens. We´ve been working with this little 10 year old named Diego and he is so awesome! He´s been teaching the lessons to his mom and all of his family and neighbors and he knows the doctrine surprisingly well! He understands things super well and he has this brother that´s been teasing him about talking with the Mormons and Diego just tells him straight up that he really wants to be baptized a Mormon! The kid is so dang awesome! Also he got 4 of his cousins to come to church and his sister in law and they´re all preparing to get baptized too! We´ve been working really hard and it´s been a little slow but we´re having some great success right now and finding some amazing people so it´s awesome!

Mom I was thinking about what you said about the Patriarchal blessings and it´s true. Also if you want to understand it in a completely new light try translating it into Spanish! I´ve been doing that lately for part of my language study and it´s shed some really cool light on a couple of things. Tell the boys not to worry about the Spanish because it comes, I promise. Yesterday I gave a talk in Sacrament meeting for a little over 10 minutes and the only notes I had were a couple of scriptures that I wanted to use. The language comes as you´re diligent in your studies and just try to talk. It´s rare now that someone tells me something that I just have no idea what they say or that I can´t communicate what I want to say. Spanish is really cool and it´s pretty easy to learn, don´t worry.
Well I really love you guys and I guess we´ll be talking in like 3 weeks or so (I can´t believe how fast the time is passing by). So this week I learned a lot about how the Lord can do all sorts of mighty miracles. There was this lady named Sebastiana that was so close to getting baptized like a little over a year but she did not want to get married. So a few weeks ago we were walking in front of her house and her friend called us over. She wanted a blessing with oil (this friends sister is a member so she knows all about it). We gave it to her and then talked with them for a little while. Sebastiana was super closed and kinda mean. She said she decided since she wasn't ready to comply with one of the commandments that she wouldn´t comply with any. We very nicely but very directly explained the error in her way of thinking. She kinda got angry then went inside and we taught her friend. Well then a little while later we went by to teach Sebastiana´s son (he´s got baptized when Sebastiana was going to get baptized) and Sebastiana was completely different. She told us she realized that she needs to start by just keeping some commandments and then it will be easier to keep the rest of them. She had had an accident that made her think a little more seriously about the gospel. She is now preparing for baptism! There are still a couple of big obstacles that we need to overcome with her but her desires are right and now it´s just in the hands of the Lord. I know that it wasn´t us that changed her at all because not once has she mentioned that anything that we´ve said has had any impact on her, but that the Lord has been communicating with her, and that´s exactly how it should be! This work requires humility but when Elder Bednar came to my mission he told us to get out of the way and let the Spirit work. If we humbly accept that we are just here to invite and help investigators feel and recognize the Spirit than the Lord will do just that and people will be converted (not just get baptized). I love this work so much and I know that it truly is the work of the Lord. Have a great week and don´t worry about me at all, I´m on the greatest adventure of my life and I´m loving it so much! Spencer, Travis, and Caleb will soon understand what I mean. You can´t express it very easily, but you just love it. It´s so hard and it really shows you what you are really made of. You come across many experiences where it seems like you have absolutely nothing but the Lord, and that´s really when you learn how to depend on Him. It´s in the incredibly difficult moments that happen where we really see the power of the Lord kick in, and you happen to be able to participate in that process a lot in the mission and it´s such a wonderful experience! Work hard and love it all because the time goes way to fast.

Con Chorros de Amor,
Elder Hulsey
(Chorros is a bit of Mexican slang for you Caleb)

Monday, April 15, 2013

(No Subject)

Email received April 15, 2013
Hola familia, ¿que tal?
This was quite a week. It all of the sudden got pretty cold (which was pretty awesome!) It felt like Thanksgiving time, so it´s really weird to me that its only April. So I don´t personally know Elder Osborne, but I know his trainer (I replaced his trainer here in Piro´Y). I realized that it was this week a year ago that I opened my call, and so if Spencer´s call gets here on Thursday our calls will have come exactly a year apart (that´s pretty sweet!). But I hope it comes before because I know how hard the wait is. I´m pretty sure Paraguay is 2 hours ahead of Utah right now because for us General Conference started at 12:00 in the afternoon. The office elders leave to go out and work around 4:30 (so 2:30 in Utah) so you can try to call them the day he opens it but if no one answers that would be why (I don´t know if the number just goes to the secretary and he answers even when he´s out working or not). But otherwise they get into the office around 10:30 I think so if you call after then (which would be 8:30 in the morning in Utah) than there shouldn´t be any problems. So sounds like you guys had quite a week, that´s awesome! It´s always so much better if you can stay busy. We´ve been having it a bit rough with investigators lately but we realized that if we keep our attitudes up than our teaching is better and the spirit is stronger so no complaints here. I know that if we keep praying the Lord will direct us to those that are just waiting to hear the gospel. This is the last week of the change and Elder Williamson is pretty sure he´s going (he thinks he´s going because he´s never been with a companion longer than 2 changes or in an area than 3, but we´re getting along so great and working hard so I think we´ll be together another change), so we´re trying to get the teaching pool up right now so that if a new Elder comes in he´s not going to be super depressed not having anyone to teach. So last night I heard of the coolest sounding church ever! They study martial arts (specifically Jujitsu) and the word of God at the same time! I was just imagining some people in the ring wrestling on the ground but trying to read the bible at the same time, I thought it was pretty awesome sounding (maybe you guys can start doing that on fight night). Also today we went to Caácupe where the famous Virgen de Caácupe resides (the statue of her obviously). It was such a cool looking church. We went in and took tons of pictures. This one Elder was trying to get me to come take a picture of him pretending to baptize me at the little baptismal stand but I remembered what we talked about before I left and I decided that could be considered really disrespectful so I didn´t do it. Then he tried to get his district leader to come do it with him and his district leader dropped him cain for it (so I´m glad I didn´t). There have been Mosquitoes a full lately and the mosquitoes here carry a disease called Dengue. I´ve been bit a lot but luckily I haven´t got dengue and now that´s it´s getting cold there shouldn´t be as many mosquitoes.
So this week I had my 3 month interview with President Madariaga. He told me something really cool, "El aprender es cambiar" or in English that´s learning means changing. That really got me thinking a lot. Lately I´ve been comparing the sons of Mosiah in the Book of Mormon to Meshak, Shadrak, Abed-Nego and Daniel in the Bible just because I think that their stories are pretty interesting. But after talking with President I realized that I´m not really learning anything if I´m not finding ways to change and apply what I´m learning, so it´s kinda useless studying just because it´s interesting. I started really trying to apply that into my studies and it´s really helped a lot. Every time I´m about to study I pray that I will be able to find something that I can apply into my teachings or that I can get better in and I´ve had pretty great success in that. I´m still studying the exact same materials but with a different purpose and it makes it a lot more worth while. I also had a big realization of what our purpose actually is as missionaries. We´re not here to prove other people wrong, but to show people the truth. Bible bashing and pointing out flaws of others´ churches or beliefs doesn´t really serve for anything. They might understand everything that I say, but that would just be a transfer of knowledge from mind to mind. What needs to happen is that there is a transfer of testimony from heart to heart. For this we have to study and understand the doctrines, and be able to bear pure testimony of them and back everything that we say up with scripture. We teach the lessons because the lessons are the things that invite the spirit most, we teach according to the needs of the investigators so that they´ll open their hearts and be receptive to the Holy Ghost. My only job as a missionary is to be a worthy conduit that the Spirit can powerfully testify through. It´s so simple but it´s pretty hard because it takes a lot of humility. But I know that it´s the only way to move this amazing work along. I love you guys so much and hope you have fantastic weeks. Megan as far as science demo team goes, I really liked it. I thought it was a ton of fun but it sounds like you´ll be pretty busy so you´ll have a great year next year regardless. I hope Emma enjoys choir tour, Maren enjoys her Hope of America (America rocks by the way! It´s totally cool!), and Spencer hang in there, the call will be here soon.
Con Amor,
Elder Zachary J. Hulsey

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

(No Subject)

Email received April 8, 2013

Hola Familia!,
What´s good in the hood? (I taught that phrase to Elder Menchaca this week, I also taught him ¨who´s your daddy¨, I love teaching the Latins the English slang and sayings). So this week was tough because it rained like crazy! Monday, Wednesday and Thursday (I don´t remember about Tuesday) were so full of rain. I actually kinda enjoyed it because I just decided that I wasn´t going to complain about it because there is nothing I can do, so I just enjoyed it instead. I got all wet and muddy but it was pretty fun because I just didn´t stress it. The streets flood pretty bad at some parts here and at one point I had to cross a street where the water went up almost to my knees! It felt really weird because there was also a bit of a current in the little flood so it was like being in a river. But despite the rain Elder Williamson and I stayed out and worked hard and we had 2 investigators in conference. It was kind of interesting because there is this older less-active lady that's been saying she will go to church as soon as someone goes with her. We stopped visiting her for a few weeks and I think that made her a little sad so when we visited her again she was yelling at all of her grandchildren to come listen to us (so that we would come back and teach them). We told her that now she doesn´t have any excuses to not come to church because her grand kids will come with her, so sure enough she brought two of them with her to general conference (she came with them even though they´re both only 10 years old). One of them is named Diego and he´s super funny. He knows the bible pretty well and he seems to understand pretty well what we´re teaching him. This week we´re going to try and find more people to teach. So I´m pretty pumped for Spencer and Travis to get their calls. For Spencer I´m seeing Puerto Rico, and Travis I´m thinking Alaska or Australia, maybe Mexico. I talked to my mission president and he said that it´s fine if you guys call the office when Spencer gets his call and they will relay me the information as soon as possible. I like that plan, especially because I´ll be calling home in like 5 weeks for mothers day.
So conference was pretty sweet huh!? One guy talked about having only 25 words or less to write your family, I considered doing that but I felt like it would be to hard, so I´ll just stick to imagining it. It was pretty fun because we got together as a zone and us Americans (and a Haitian and Puerto Rican that prefer English to Spanish) all watched it together in a little room in the chapel. We bought tons of snacks and had a great time. I really learned a lot from the talks. A couple of them really helped me with a couple of personal problems I´ve been trying to fix lately. For some reason I just wasn´t getting excited about the work. I´ve been racking my brain trying to figure out why and I tried doing all of the things how I did them before when I was more excited, but I just wasn´t getting very motivated. I can´t really recall all of the talks that helped me figure out my problem (I remember some of them were Elder Bednar's, Elder Hollands, and Elder Christofferson's) but I realized that I have the tendency to close off my heart. I´m not really open to just loving people that quickly and I tend to kinda just close off my heart. I started thinking that I always did that I think to protect myself from the way the world defines love, which is more infatuation, and to keep myself clean. But after I believe Elder Hale´s talk in priesthood I realized that the world´s definition of love is not the Lord´s definition of love. Love is caring deeply for everyone and wanting the best for them, wanting to bless them and wanting them to succeed and have happiness. As missionaries we can help them do this by giving them the gospel. I realized that by loving the people (not just the Paraguayans but all of my comps, other missionaries, everyone!) that I will have more hope that they will progress and I will teach them with more purpose. It´s also really important to not give up hope on the investigators if at first they´re having a hard time. The Lord is used to working with imperfect people, so I can´t set my expectations at perfection for my investigators if the Lord doesn´t do that for any of us. He just expects our best and that´s all I need to do too. Love the people and have hope for their progression towards baptism and ultimately the temple. I realized that one day, someone that I teach the gospel to or maybe one of their children or grandchildren could be general authorities, that gave me a lot of hope. All of the General Authorities had to go through their own personal conversions in one way or another.

I´m sorry if this letter seems short. I love you all and I pray for you always. I know I promised pictures this week but I was in a hurry this morning and didn´t have time to look for my camera cable, I´ll do my best next week. Keep your heads up and trust in the Lord, He loves us all despite our imperfections.
con amor,
Elder Hulsey

Monday, April 1, 2013

Email received April 1, 2013

Hola familia,
Oh boy, what a great semana santa! We had chipa a full (I believe that is the translation, that´s what everyone literally says here is "a full". They use it in many sentidos, but I´m sure you guys already thought of some other translations, one thing that I say instead of a full sometimes is simply mucho or depending on the situation bien duro or something like that). So I got my Easter package last week and it was awesome! It was exactly what I needed and in the perfect time, it´s starting to cool down here so the sweaters are perfect. I haven´t lost too much weight (just about 12 pounds would be the translation into American Standard) so the sweaters should fit just fine. The package arrived in plenty of time to participate in the countdown and that was really fun. Also I´d like to thank Adam a lot for my calender, I have been looking for one and they´re kind of hard to find here so I was really glad when I got that in the package. So as far as investigators go we have a couple that are más o menos progressing but it´s been pretty tough. A lot of people travel for the semana santa but we still had some pretty great lessons. Friday was interesting because pretty much the entire nation fasts from eating meat so they were all pretty afraid to leave outside because they would be too zapped of energy. It was pretty funny. Benigno decided to go back to his Evangelica church and we happened to run into his dad I believe on Saturday it was and he´s a missionary for that church. The guy was very anti Book of Mormon (Mormons in general) and pretty much has the Bible memorized. Elder Williamson couldn´t resist a little Bible bashing but I just kept my mouth shut because I already learned that you don´t have the spirit when you Bible bash. I finally just bore testimony of the Book of Mormon to end it because things were starting to get a little heated. Elder Williamson and I talked after and we decided that nobody won that time because nobody convinced the other of their error, we also decided that Bible bashing is a pretty big waste of time. But we did teach this other girl that was super Evangelica as well but with her we were able to reason a little better and she was actually curious in the Book of Mormon a little so we were able to teach a cool lesson to her and her cousin.

So as far as the new missionary in our house, he´s doing great. We´ve all been trying to talk and help him and he´s getting feeling a lot more comfortable now. We went today and bought recuerdos (I bought you guys some super sweet stuff. You´ll be able to see it dentro de poco ¿que raro verdad?) and I think that helped him gain a bigger appreciation for Paraguay. His trainer is super awesome. His name is Elder Funk and he actually reminds me a lot of Dan Lillywhite (he even kinda looks like him). He loves working out and he and I have been waking up a half hour earlier together to do more exercises. He´s sure kicking my rear but he´s nice and patient and it´s pretty fun. We´ve got these ropes that we suspended from the ceiling and we use those to exercise (Elder Funk actually has a lot of cool exercise equipment). We´re lucky because we´re all getting along pretty well.
The temple was super awesome! I took some sweet pics (also some in my new Easter ties) but I forgot my camera, so next week I´ll have to send them home. It was cool doing a session in Spanish and it got me super motivated to get even better at Spanish. I´m at a point with the language where grammatically i´m doing okay, so now I pretty much want to focus on expanding my vocabulary. Also I talked with this Elder that has the same amount of time as me and he pointed out that in a little more than 4 months we´re hitting our year mark! Holy cow that caught me by surprise. I didn´t realize how fast the time has been passing, but I hear it passes even faster in year two! Darn! I really like the mission. It´s really nice having such a clear purpose and not having to worry about anything but helping others. Sometimes I think about school and things before the mission and I really enjoyed those too, but I just love the whole mission program and not having to worry about school, money, anything really, just testifying and doing what the Lord wants (it´s really simple but it´s got a whole set of difficulties of it´s own as well. It´s not all peaches and roses (is that even a phrase?) but it makes you feel really good when you do it so I guess the difficulties seem more worth it I guess, it´s hard to explain.)
Well I love you guys a whole lot. I´m super pumped that Spencer should be getting his call soon. I´m going to send an email to my president and see what he thinks would be best, I´m assuming he´ll either just want me to wait until Monday to read it with my emails but he might think it´s fine to just have you guys call the office and someone from there can tell me. I´ll let you guys know next week what he thinks and if the call comes this week, just call the mission office and they´ll direct you in what to do. I´ve sure been learning a lot about how this is the Lord´s work and how we need to rely on Him for our success. I started thinking about what we´re lacking in this area and I think it´s humility, to a point where you´re relying on the Lord for everything. We have fine numbers and everything, but we´ve been loosing investigators and we haven´t had any baptisms in this area. I think I let myself get a little too prideful again and I wasn´t as focused on letting the Lord do His work and I´m just the instrument in His hands. Whenever we can recognize that as missionaries, then we start to have more success. We´re nothing but instruments, and as soon as we try to be anything more, we actually become less. Funny how it works. Have a great week and good luck with Spring Break.
Con Amor,
Elder Hulsey