Email received December 9, 2013
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