Email received July 22, 2013
Boy what a week down here in the Paraguay. Sounds like you guys lived my and Jeff´s dream with the sacrament. We used to always beg Ben Platt to let us use waffles and orange juice for the Sacrament, but he never let us. Hermana Cristaldo´s baptism was a success and one of the most Spiritual experiences of my life. As we were sitting there all dressed in white waiting for things to get started and listening to the hymns being played on the piano I honestly felt like that´s whats heaven is going to feel like. Being there all dressed in white with those you love and just feeling super good. Afterward she was telling me that it was the weirdest thing because she said as she came up out of the water that something entered her heart and she couldn´t explain it. She asked me if I could hear it. I said no but that she can take confidence that it was the Holy Ghost confirming that she made the right choice and that she should write those feelings down so that she can always remember them. The baptism was also a great way for me to say goodbye to all of my friends from the ward piroy because I got transferred. I´m now in Trinidad B. It´s right in the heart of Asunción (the mission office and the temple are in my district). The assistants to the president just got moved to Trinidad A so it´s cool getting to work with them. My area is about 1/4 super rich and fancy people and 3/4 super poor. I hear that it´s actually one of the poorest areas in the mission. I love it here a lot! The atmosphere and the way it all looks is just incredible. It´s situated right on this river so it´s just incredible. I definitely think I´m in the best area in the entire mission with the best companion too. My new companion´s name is Elder Valladares from Lima, Perú. He´s got about 4 months in the mission and he´s a great missionary. He´s super excited to work and he´s nice and obedient, which is awesome. The poor kid unfortunately this week was really feeling sick. He´s been in a lot of pain but he´s kept up a great attitude and a smile and he´s still going out and working so it´s great. This branch is full of less-actives and it needs a lot of help in the organization of everything but I´m really excited to try and help them here get it all figured out. I definitely think that the Lord calls us then qualifies us, but I feel good about things and surprisingly not too stressed. I´m just going to keep trying to work hard and do my best, nothing else I can really do. My new zone leaders are awesome. I know them both pretty well (I actually lived with one of them when I first got to piroy) so I´m excited to get to work more with them. We have some cool investigators and recent converts here. Ones named Johanna and she´s come to church twice now, I´m pushing that she can get baptized on my birthday.
I can´t believe Spencer only has one more full week at home. The mission is the best experience ever, but if you're like me you´ll be wondering for the first little while when it become so great. I felt really good and I liked it since the beginning, but it took me a little bit to really see just how great it really is, so give it time and don´t get too discouraged. Also don´t worry too much about what you think other people think the mission is or what you've heard the mission should be like. Your mission is your mission and it´s different than anybody else´s. I wouldn´t recommend comparing yourself too much to others either. Some people go up really quickly as leaders in the mission and some people never go up. It doesn´t necessarily mean that they´re awful or great missionaries, that's just how their mission is. As long as you´re obedient and working as smart and as hard as you can and know how to do, then the results aren´t as important. We´re not in charge of our results, just our efforts. Also something that my zone leader told me once that has helped me a lot is, "don´t let anyone bring you down from where you stand". You can´t control how obedient anyone else is but you can make sure that you are waking up on time and studying and doing all the things you´re supposed to be doing. Also it´s not just rainbows and daisies all of the time, it´s a lot of work, but it´s rewarding. I often picture myself as a silver ball with lots of little knocks in it and that I have to get them all burnt off and filed down so I can be perfectly smooth. I often feel like I'm passing through the painful burning and filing down part, but the joy comes after when you experience little successes here and there and you can see yourself growing. For me measuring my self growth is kinda hard to do because I don´t feel like I´ve really changed very much, but when you get with a new companion or in a new area it´s pretty easy to see what used to be hard for you that isn´t anymore. The mission is so great, you´re going to love it. Just to warn you it goes pretty fast. As far as the one shoulder strap rule goes that was the rule in my mission when I first got here and they gave us these one strap backpacks when we got here but they were pretty miserable and they were actually causing a lot of missionaries back problems because they made you walk funny, so President Madariaga got permission from the area 70 to allow us to use regular backpacks about 4 months ago. I don´t know if that rule will change again but found a one strap bag in one of my old houses and I actually really like it and sometimes I use it so if it changes I´ll probably just go to that. It´s kind of like a giant fanny pack with a shoulder strap. Also before I left someone recommended to me the Timbuktu bag from REI because I guess it´s completely water proof. I kinda like using the one strap sometimes because it makes me feel like a messenger, which is really what I am. Well I hope you all have a fantastic week and that all goes well with the farewell and such.
Con muchísimo amor,
Elder Zachary J. Hulsey