Monday, October 26, 2015

Week 35


Well, super bad news is that the internet in the church is down! Soooo, the Cranneys are letting us use their laptop to email, BUT all the missionaries have to use it and also we don't have a lot of time, so I'm hecka short on email time today. Legit bummer. 

Super quick summary of stuff:

Contacting: gosh, we've just been contacting a ton lately. It's really good, but also it honestly kind of stresses me out a little bit. Not the contacting itself, but the follow up! The goal is to have 20 contacts a day, but do you know how impossible it is to follow up with (theoretically) 140 people every week? And then the number just multiplies every week. And of course we have all of the conversos recientes, menos activos, etc. So REALLY the focus has been on trying to have the spirit to discern who really has interest and for whom we should really pass by again. It's kind of a stressful-ish process. But the fruits are real, on account of we have a ton of investigators we are working with now. And everyone in Horqueta is way open, EVERYONE is way religious, and it's not even hard to get lessons. That's the great/hard thing about South America missions, I think. It's easy to have lessons/investigators, but the number of people who are truly going to progress is actually quite small. We spend a lot of time following up with people just aren't keeping their commitments. A LOT of time. But anyway, it's been mostly good. It's really changed my whole style as a missionary. Before I was more about lessons with contacting in between, but now I'm more about contacting with lessons in between. But true story is that now almost every night I have dreams that I'm contacting, trying to talk with people, give them pass along cards, etc. It's actually V stressful and I wake up tired and feel like I didn't really get adequate rest haha. It's kind of unfortunate, but also pretty funny to me. 

Zone conf: So we had our monthly zone conference this past week. It was ight. It was the annual zone conference about emergency plans and cleaning the houses, so it was pretty tranquilo. Not the best, not the worst. Then as part of a mission goal thing, all the missionaries had to go on divisions with members. It was kinda trippy, cause it was the first time I haven't been with a missionary in 5ever. I went with the young women's president of the rama, Daisy, who is actually 24 and preparing for a mission right now. It was a good time, but also I had to teach pretty much all by myself, which was low key stressful. But good to know I can do it, ya know?

Idalina: Ok, just gotta take a quick second to describe what was one of the most surreal experiences of my life. So last Monday we contact this lady walking on the street, and turns out she's heading out of town, but asks in a pretty urgent voice if we can pass by the next day. So we spend a while trying to find her house (have I mentioned Paraguay doesn't have directions? There LITERALLY aren't street names, house numbers, ANYTHING. The directions are literally, literally "walk two blocks in that direction, then turn right, then left, then walk for three more blocks in an S shape and then turn slightly left and the blue house with a mango tree in front is mine." Nuts.) So anyway, we eventually find her house, and it's out on the outskirts of nothing. And we walk up and there are legit like 20 kids under the age of 13 outside just chilling out and running around and stuff. And their house was smaller than small and the kids literally sleep all in a pile together and it was so trippy. I can't even describe it. I've seen a lot of poverty on the mish, but this topped it all, I think. And all the kids looked like they hadn't been bathed in weeks, and few had obvious illnesses and infections, etc. So it turns out she lives in the house with her six kids, her mom (who has 10 kids), her sister who has a bunch of kids, and then a few neighbors. Anyway, we had a really good lesson and she said she wants to be baptized. We set up an appointment to go back on Friday. But then, on Thursday night, there was a hecka rainstorm. Like, it POURED all night, lightning, thunder, etc. Just crazy. So we head back on Friday, and their house got legitimately destroyed in the storm the night before. They didn't have a roof, EVERYTHING they owned was soaked completely through, and literally they were left with nothing. It was really sad. And we taught a lesson to all of them, and there are just like 15 kids sitting there looking at us and I seriously didn't even know what to say to them. But the spirit is always with us, and I know that God has a plan for their family. Really.

Tiendas: Ok, so I also just want to mention one last thing that I noted in my personal study this past week. Firstly, I have to say that it's been HOTTER THAN HOT here. Really and truly. Like, you take one step outside and you're already dripping sweat and you just want to be anywhere in the world doing anything else than walking the streets in the Horquetian sun. And it's still fetching Spring... (aka, it will get significantly worse before it gets any better). But the point is that the physical conditions I am in are literally impossible to forget. It's just extremely, EXTREMELY uncomfortable every minute of every day. But anyway, it's fine, and I probably won't literally die. And if I do, it's part of God's plan, so that's fine too. BUT, the point I noted was in 1st Nephi, when Nephi says the famous line "and my father dwelt in a tent." I'd for sure noted before that Nefi mentioned the humble situation of his family, and that during all these experiences were taking place while his family lived in the desert in tents. What I DIDN'T notice before was just how much Nephi mentions this. I only read from chapter 1 to 16, but he mentions it quite a few times (see 2:15, 9:1, 10:16, 14:1, 15:5, 16:10, 16:12, 16:13, 16:17, 16:32). Like, in one chapter alone he mentions it five times. And I don't think he was doing it to complain. I literally think that their circumstances were probably so uncomfortable that he just couldn't forget it. All these things are happening... while they're living in tents in the wilderness. There are many times that he says, "blah blah happened... while we dwelt in tents." And I just really appreciate this fact on account of that's kind of how I feel sometimes. My journal entries are like, "blah blah happened... and it was burning hot today." So yeah, the point is that I've found a new scriptural insight and application, and I'm learning so much empathy in every way possible. Really though. Rachel wrote me and said something way true about the atonement, which is that when we pass through really hard things, we understand the atonement much more because we grow in empathy #truerthantrue #doubletrue

Ok, well I love you tons!! I used way too much of my limited time to write this email, so sorry if I can't write too much more  individually. I love you the most and I'm so grateful for all of your bomb personalities. I was thinking about it the other day and was just overcome with gratitude that I have such great relationships with everyone in my immediate family. I would probably take that blessing over pretty much every other one, so I'm doing just fine. 

Hermana Ross


with the #wildlyfe again. 2 real. (also, toucans bite and are actually kinda scary)

Ok, legit, I don't think you can tell, but the sun was BURNING this day. So hot so hot. And seriously, it's not possible to look good when it's that hot. You're just literally soaked with sweat and your face melts and you feel like you're suffocating #realtalk
Cute baby animals
Sebastiana and our investigator Sara (notice too the 2 cute baby animals in my arms)
Still 2 cute kittens in my arms

Snake #typical (p.s. our house is OVERRUN with bugs of all kinds. The heat just attracts them inside like nothing else. There were three scorpions this past week and I don't even know how many cockroaches. And don't forget maggots, endless supplies of flies, mosquitos, centipedes, ANTS, etc. #7plaguesstatus)

The sky was looking sickk last night

              Walter (so presh. Notice the dimples)

Noche de Rama

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Week 34

Dear family,

First-off, just gotta say I´m so mad jealous about the Mexico trip thing! You guys weren´t supposed to do anything cool without me, remember? REMEMBER?! Haha but I guess it´s ight, because now you guys are more amped for the cruise we´re gonna go on when I get back. That´s a thing, right? Legit when I was with Hna Valenzuela she told me all about the cruises she´s been on and sold me pretty hard on the whole package. So let´s just say I´m down.

Ok, in terms of stuff in Horqueta this week, things were pretty good. I feel like for the first time in my mission thus far I´m really working efficiently, and that´s a good feeling. I mean it´s hard to be completely efficient (actually, it´s impossible and it´s a myth), BUT I do enjoy using time wisely. My comp continues to be super chill and things with her are just pretty normal. I could probably be content to be her companion for a while without having any issues, so that´s a huge blessing. We´ve also been trying to work a ton more with members, which has helped a lot in many aspects of the work. The rama here is honestly so small and has so few truly active members, so really any time we can involve them it helps strengthen both the person we´re visiting and the person helping us do the visits. We´ve also been working on contacting a lot more, which has been my personal goal for a while. TBH it´s just not something that´s been easy for me to do. I couldn´t really even tell you why, and I´ve logic-ed myself through it in a million ways. But anyway, this week we just really worked on having at least 20 contacts (e.g. religious conversations) every day, and there were several days that we hit our goal. So yeah, that´s also helped move the work along.

Also, this week I started reading Jesus the Christ, and it´s been a good time. 10/10 recommend. I´ve been studying so much the past few months about the atonement and Jesus Christ´s sacrifice for us, and I got a lot of good insight from Jesus the Christ. I just started reading at that part and today or tomorrow I think I´ll be finishing the resurrection. I just really feel like I understand and appreciate the atonement so much more than I ever have before. I know the mission isn´t (nor should it be) my personal atonement, but I really do have to confess that it´s been extremely hard for me. But I find so much strength through the example of Christ and how he always put the Father´s will above his own. I could probably/maybe will write a talk or something about this subject, cause I just have a lot of thoughts/a really strong testimony of it. Anyway, sorry I can´t really express myself very clearly because honestly when I talk about the gospel these days it´s significantly easier to do so in Spanish. I prayed out loud in English the other day and honestly it was V hard. I´m pretty sure I´m just going to want to speak in Spanglish for the rest of my life. 

Well, I love you tons! Glad you had a fun vacation and are looking SO FINE. But really. 

Love 5ever, 
Hermana Ross

p.s. "Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whoseoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel´s, the same shall save it." (Mark 8:34-35)

Toucan #typical. But really, there´s a TON of wild birds here. Tons and tons. The things I see in a typical day are some of those things that I just can´t even express the 1/100th part of. 

making a cake! #tortatortatorta
                 we ate half of the cake in like .2 seconds
Walter drew a picture of Hna Aguilar haha

A picture of the temple Denice drew
                                                                Hermana Eugenia

                                                        Noche de Hogar con las Estigiribias

                           With Hna Eugenia preparing her lunch

noche de rama

With a baby kitten! #redundant. Ok, but really, it was like 5 days old

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Week 33

Dear Family,

Heyyyy! Well, I feel like I have lots of stuff to say this week. This week was pretty long, but not even in a bad way. It just feels like tons and tons of stuff has gone down. Nothing crazy, but just lots of stuff. Also, there was like a crazy weather switch from Lunes-Thursday and then from Friday-today. It was SO HOT in the middle of the week. I think it was Wednesday that was like literally the worst. But then it turned itself around and this weekend was way rainy and relatively cold. TBH, I´m so so so scared for the onset of summer. It´s coming up fast and I really don´t think there´s a way I can adequately prepare myself. I actually think I have S.A.D., but instead of for cold weather, for hot weather. That´s a real thing (well, techinially it´s not a real thing, but emotionally it is). When it´s hot I just don´t have ganas to do anything and I feel more sad and discouraged. Gonna have to work on a solution for that on account of it´s my  imminent future. Ok, well onto the deets:

Conci: So this week started out meh on account of I was still feeling pretty sick and I seriously just wanted to sleep SO BAD. But then on Tuesday my comp had a doctor´s appointment in Concepcion on account of she needed some exams done for an accident she had with her ankle from a few changes ago. So we went to Concepcion and let me tell you, the hospital there is LITERALLY like the sketchy images I had in my head of what a hospital in South America would be like. SO SKETCH SO SKETCH. Gosh, I was freaking scared and I wasn´t even the one who had to talk to a doctor. Literally, the whole thing was outdoors, there was rust EVERYWHERE, there were DOGS walking through, people everywhere, etc. So so so unsanitary, really. We walked through and there were people people pulled in on stretchers, curtains instead of doors, etc. I saw wayyyy more than I ever ever would have liked to. Anyway, then my comp had to get her blood drawn and seriously I was so nervous it felt like I was the one who had to get blood drawn. And then we had to wait for the results for a few hours, so we ended up going to the Hermanas´ apartment there and I crashed on Hermana Varas´s bed. Lolz. Seriously couldn´t keep it together on account of that I was sick. Anyway, but it was an interesting experience overall. But throughout the past two weeks we´ve had to go to Concepcion three times for my comp´s doctor stuff. It would all just be chill except for the fact that it cost 10 mil guaranis every time! There´s 60 mil I´ll never see again #pray4Holly

 Familia E: Ok, so there´s this family of recent converts in the ward here, and honestly they´re super inactive. Like since I got to Horqueta, they haven´t attended church once. And of our recent converts, they are four out of nine, so our retention is always super low (not that I´m really that into "numbers," but it really does make it hard). But anyway, they are all jovenes and two of them are teen moms and their family just has a lot a lot of problems. And with Hna. Valdivia last change we kept trying to teach them the importance of church attendance and the sacrament, etc. But honestly, it wasn´t working at all, and they just have a ton of doctrinal gaps of knowledge. So this change with Hna. Aguilar we decided to just start from scratch and teach them the super, super basics. Like what´s the Godhead, the Restauracion, etc. And then we have been trying to work more with them so that they can go out with us for lessons with investigators and stuff as well. Anyway, it´s really been working so much better! Yesterday they ALL attended church for the first time since I´ve been here! And I can see the difference in the two younger teenage girls. Really, they seem more animated, more excited about church and missionary work, etc. It´s been a cool testimony builder of working with members not only as a way to find and help investigators, but as a way to strengthen the members themselves. 

Fam. C: So last week we were contacting and contacted this house of a super nice lady named Anna who has four young sons and was really open and friendly and seemed like she could have interest. So we set up an appointment to come back, but she ended up being busy, so we just helped her do some laundry and then set up an appointment for the following day. So TBH sometimes it´s pretty hard to tell who genuinely has interest and who doesn´t, so I wasn´t really sure how things would go with her. But we stopped by again on Wednesday, and turns out she had invited her two sisters and her mom to come listen too, because they all wanted to know more about who we are and what we do. Crazy! So we had a lesson with their family, and honestly the spirit was so strong! It was the first time I had an experience like that on the mission, honestly. They were all attentive, they were understanding, they were asking tons of questions, etc. And I honestly really enjoy teaching with my companion. She´s way solid. She just is really clear, easy to understand, builds upon what I say and adds more, etc. I feel really comfortable teaching with her on account of how consistent she is. But anyway, we left them with the commitment to pray about our message (we don´t have any more copies of The Book of Mormon right now, which TBH is kind of devastating because we want to give them to investigators!) So we went back on Saturday and ended up having another way good lesson with Anna, her sister Emy (who is a nurse), and their mom. And when we were walking into the lesson, I was telling my comp how hasta ahora on the mission, I´ve never had an experience with an investigator telling me they´ve prayed and received an answer that it was true. But we walk into this lesson and ask them if they´ve had a chance to pray, and Emy and her mom said not yet. But then we asked Anna and she said she prayed and feels like it´s true! It was seriously a really good experience. And we ended up beginning the Elders to give us one Book of Mormon so we could give it to them. So I´m seriously hoping that they´ll read it and pray about it! They all said they would be baptized if they got their answer, and I know they will if they pray!! I would legit be sooo stoked if they progressed. They really have familia de oro potential. 

So all in all this weekend was great, seriously. I started to feel not sick on Thursday, and then the weather got colder, my inverse season affective disorder lessened, we had tons of good lessons, and I just feel like I´m recovering emotionally. I´m still not back to normal, but I feel a lot better. My comp is chill as heck, and now that I´m starting to be myself again we´ve gotten closer. She´s really great and actually pretty funny, you just have to bring it out of her. And honestly we are pretty spiritually in sync, and it´s been really cool to see. Like literally in lessons, we´re just always on the same page. And with putting baptismal fechas, we ALWAYS feel the same. It´s cool to see how the spirit works on different personalities to bring them to the same conclusions. I remember a quote from conference a few sessions ago where one of the apostles was talking about how the quorum of the twelve makes decisions together. And he said something to the effect of, "can you imagine how much the spirit has to work to bring 12 different men with different professional and personal experiences and opinions to come to the same conclusion?" Anyway, I didn´t really do his quote justice from my memory, but you get the idea. The spirit is way powerful!!

Ok, well I love you a ton! Thanks for being so faithful and supportive <3

Hermana Ross

p.s. "Our task is not insurmountable. It is the Lord´s work, and when we are on the Lord´s errand, we are entitled to His help." -Thomas S. Monson. The Lord will fulfill all the promises He has made to us. If He says all these experiences will be for our good, THEY WILL BE! 

this cat has the same eyes as me, and our investigator kept trying to get a picture to show it, but it just wasn´t working out. this was the best we got...

sweet sunset. this picture doesn´t do it justice. (p.s. when it´s 110 degrees, sunset is the best part of the day for MANY reasons)

Me with Denice (pronounced Denise-ay) Estigiribia. She´s so presh and I love her. She wanted to practice being a missionary with my name tag and backpack <3

Me with Liz Sandra Estigiribia and our investigator Luz Bella

w/ my comp in front of the ice cream i i i ice cream paint job


In front of the house. Presidente Duarte gave the house a sweet paint job, so we thought we´d document

Us with Hermana De Los Santas (that´s her first name) and her sobrino Evert 

giant centipede also found in our house (lolz, we actually found more than one this week, but I only have a picture of this one) *cue Knife Party music*

scorpion found in our house #paraguayprobz

Monday, October 5, 2015

Week 32

Dear family,

Well, it´s been a good week. Lots of stuff has happened. But, I gotta make a disclaimer, which is that I´m kinda sick right now, so I can´t think super well. I´m not like deathly sick or anything, but my mind is supes fuzzy and both my ability to talk in Spanish and to think in English have gone downhill fast. So yeah, hopefully I can remember stuff and explain it kind of. BUT OMGosh, first I also gotta shout out to my main boi Colin for making it onto homecoming court. OMGOSH, WHY ARE YOU SO COOL? I´m actually pretty proud of how popular you are. It´s been an interesting playout of the Ross siblingtrifecta that you´ve really blossomed into the peak of the high school scene, cause let´s be honest, we all know that wasn´t my thing #highschooldropout #kinda

Mas observacions w/ the comp: So Hna Aguilar really is incredibly chill and mas o menos quiet. She has opinions and stuff, but she also is just really normal about them and thinks normally. TBH, I sort of forget how to live with someone that´s really emotionally healthy, so it´s been kind of a weird adjustment. I still feel like I´m readjusting to what my personality even is. But yeah, there´s a lot of silence when we walk/when we´re in the house and stuff. It´s mostly fine with me, on account of I´m really chill with silence, but also sometimes it´s practically demasiado quiet. Also, she has just a really interesting personality. It´s different from anyone I´ve ever spent a lot of time with. Like, she told me this past week, dead serious, "Hermana, I don´t understand jokes. Like, in all situations. My whole life I´ve been this way. If I´m in a group and someone says a joke, everyone will be laughing and I´ll just be sitting there. I just don´t get it." And that´s actually the real truth. So the sacrifice has been more maturity and stability for less humor. Which is fine with me in a companionship, really. Not in friendship/family relationships/dating relationships, but in a missionary companionship, it´s really fine. Things could be a lot worse.

Divisions: So this past Wednesday we had divisions with the hermana leaders. I went out with Hermana Fardos, who went to BYU before the mish and was also companions with Hermana Valenzuela for two changes, so that was chill. She´s hecka outgoing and likes to talk a lot about feelings, which was literally just what I needed. Honestly, this was the first time in months that I had the opportunity to express my feelings in English, and it felt so dang good. And she offered me lots of helpful advice, and I just felt better afterwards. Really. She told me I just need to take everything I´m feeling (and have felt in the past few months), put it at the feet of the Savior, and leave it there. Which is the truth. I don´t know, the mission has just really been a refiner´s fire for me. Like, a lot harder than I ever would have predicted or hoped. And for different reasons than I ever thought. I´ve been really humbled. Like, seriously, I´ve been brought to my knees more times than I can count, and at times I feel like I´ve practically begged God, "Is there no other way?" #Evestatus. But I know that there isn´t, and I will partake. And I´m happy to do it because I know it´s God´s plan for me. I´m not always happy to sacrifice, per se, but I´m obviously willing, and I´m really doing the best I know how. And I know God knows and I know He loves me. 

#ldsconf: Let me tell you, I was stoked for conference. Really, really stoked. Conference is gonna be such a party for the rest of my life. I´ve really gained a deep appreciation of it on the mish. But anyway, we spent practically all week teaching everyone lessons on Prophets, the Restauracion, how to recognize the Holy Ghost, etc. And TBH, I was pretty disappointed with attendance. It coulda been a lot better. Especially with lots of the conversos recientes we´ve been working with, like almost none of them came. Sadz. But on a personal note, it was really good. Not gonna lie, listening in Spanish was kinda hard at times, cause I could hear them talking in English faintly behind, and I was distracting listening to the way they were translating and stuff. Fun fact that´s actually really devestating about learning a new language (for all you who don´t know...), THERE ARE NO DIRECT TRANSLATIONS for like 1,000,000 things! And it´s a real bummer. Because you can´t really say what you want, so you just say the next best thing. Which can get unsatisfying a lot. But yeah, that was reaffirmed to me in conference. The translations just aren´t the same. But it was a good time and I enjoyed it thoroughly. I´ve never had a conference pass by so quickly. It felt like I blinked my eyes and Sunday afternoon session was ending. 

#thecommoncold: So the bad news is that I got pretty sick on around Saturday afternoon, and TBH it limited part of my enjoyment of conference on account of I felt like death. Ok, it wasn´t actually that bad, but seriously my throat hurt SO BAD, and also I just got all the cold symptoms where you can´t think/breathe/are hecka tired, and it was a little rough. I´m still suffering from the same symptoms right now, so yeah, but hopefully it´ll get better in the next day or two. I haven´t really gotten sick at all on the mish though, so I´ve been really blessed. And I don´t really even count this, on account of we´re still working normally and haven´t taken a break or anything. TBH a nap would be really nice, but I never know when it´s merited enough to go in early and not work. The mission´s turned me into a teeeeennnyyy bit of a martyr. Just a littleeeeeee (on account of it´s SO HARD sometimes). But during the break of the two sessions on Sunday I did end up just going outside on the grass with my comp and falling asleep. It was way nice. 

Well, unfortunately it took me like all of my cyber time to write this cause I had to think about it for so long on account of I can´t think. It reminds me of that semester at BYU like two years ago when I got hit way hard with the flu during my midterm week and I took my US history midterm and I LITERALLY COULDN´T THINK and it was all essay responses, and it was so freaking hard to focus. Good times in retrospect. 

Other stuff is that there´s been TONS of watermelon in Horqueta the past week. It´s been sweet. Also, we´ve been trying to do more service projects for people. And guess what the #1 requested service is. That´s right: raking and picking up leaves #thedevil´sownchore. Really though, it makes me laugh every time. 

Also, shout out to the new apostles! I´m stoked!!! Elder Rasband gave one of my favorite talks of all time (The Divine Call of a Missionary, if you´ll remember. I read it literally every day leading up to when I got my mission call.) And also Elder Renlund gave a bomb talk last conference with one of my favorite quotes, which is "One of God´s greatest gifts to us is the joy of trying again, for no failure ever need be final. Even if we´ve been a conscious, deliberate sinner or have repeatedly faced failure and disappointment, the moment we decide to try again, the Atonement of Christ can help us. And we need to remember that it is not the HolyGhost that tells us we´re so far gone that we might as well give up." #eternaltruths

Ok, love you tons and tons!
Hermana Ross

p.s. My notes for conference were in HECKA Spanglish. Exibit A) "The gracias of El SeƱor is suficiente a llevar a cabo su obra though medio de our leaders (y their debilidades)"

p.p.s. Hermana Valdivia calls me like two times a day just to talk. That´s real. So turns out operation "be best friends with my comp" was a smashing success. It´s been interesting. But it´s cool to see how now all I really feel for that situation is love and gratitude. (ALL THESE THINGS WILL BE FOR THY GOOD (my theme for the cambio))

Filtering water like it´s my part-time job

                              Doing service for Pastora! #cleaningupleaves #thedevil´sownchore

                       In the terminal waiting for a collectivo to Conception #bored #whatcanyado?
             My comp was thirsty and she wanted milk really bad, so she bought this whole thing lolz

                              me in all the WATER. Rain 4 dayz. 

          Us with a menos activa who came to church for the first time in more than two years! #ldsconf

me yesterday during the break in the two sessions of conf when I was feeling so sick I could not even and we just went outside and slept on the grass

Me cooking stuffz