Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Week 44

Dear family,

Well, this week was pretty boss. Pretttyyyy boss. Lots of sick Christmas stuff went down, and even though it was like well over 100 degrees (and don´t forget humidity...), it still felt like Christmas :´) 

I´ll hit up a hecka brief summary:

Christmas Zone Conf: So this Christmas party gone zone conference actually ended up being a bit more like a Christmas party in the end after all. We got together with all the northern parts of the mission, on account of we´re all way spread out up here and don´t really see other missionaries outside of our zone... like, ever. So it was actually way exciting and we had a cool testimony meeting/Christmas Bible video presentation thing, and it was nice and spirit´chal. Then we had a group lunch thing and just chatted it up and it was V nice. 8/10 would recommend. 

Christmas Eve: Gosh, that day was the bomb. We got together as a district with the elders and the Cranneys and went and sang Christmas carols to like every member family in Horqueta as well as quite a few investigators. And I´ve been rill blessed to be in some pretty musically talented districts the past few changes. Like I´m just singing melody in soprano (on account of that´s about the best I can offer) and then everyone else just busts out like different harmonies going higher and lower and it sounds sick. Like, we could start an a capella group or something. So we did that for like 5+ hours and it was actually a really spirit-bringing activity and I feel like everyone could feel it. So after that it´s getting to be nighttime-ish, but we don´t have any Christmas Eve plans, and we have permission from presidente to stay out until like 11/11:30ish. So the Cranneys just invite us to their house and we watch all the LDS Christmas videos for like two hours and eat fudge and cookies and peanuts and other random delicious things that are like straight up gold here. It was for sure one of the best nights I´ve had on the mission. So good so good. 

Christmas Day: So Christmas day was also V good. Everyone says that holidays are the best time to contact, but I kinda beg to differ on account of everyone is super busy and not really too dispuesto to invite you into their house... But it was all good in the end, because I got to skype w/ the fam!! #Rossisboss. It was way too nice to talk to you all again and remember what it´s like to have a family *single tear.* Ok, but really, it was super good and also I kinda received random spiritual revelation about this coming fall. So it was nice to see you all again and also pass that huge landmark in the mish. Las familias pueden ser eternas! #eternalfamnation

Actividad de los Jovenes: Then on Saturday we had this youth activity all afternoon and Elder Simao led us all out in these intense self-defense-esque exercises that I couldn´t even keep up with for like 10 minutes. So then I went and played volleyball and almost died of heat stroke (not literally), and then we finished up and my comp and I went out and finished our day.

Okayyy, well, those are the most exciting events of the week. Sorry that was pretty full of details in stream of consciousness. Whatcanyado? We are also still working with Claudiane, the Estigarribia, and she is still really sweet.

So things are good here and I would say the year 2k15 finished out strong. I can´t believe this year is pretty much over over. And that I´ve spent the great majority of it as a missionary. Crayzee. It´s been a year of intense lessons, HUGE growth, and about a bajillion blessings. I´m so grateful for trials. Not in the way that I´m about to ask for them, but just in the way that they really help turn you to God and help you progress. I´m grateful to have a Heavenly Father who sees the whole picture, and who will help guide me through life´s ever-constant surprises and changes. Cause let´s be real, I´m just not equipped to handle it on my own. 

"Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me... for when I am weak, then am I strong." (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)

Hope you guys have a killer New Year. Pics or it didn´t happen.

Hearts and stars,
Hermana Ross

p.s. "I know He understands. And He loves me as I am. Even through the storms and trials, He is there. And lifts to bring me home, and that´s all I need to know."

p.p.s. Look at this presh note that Sara Diana (the girl that I taught and helped baptize) left in my agenda on Sunday <3 She says I´m the best missionary she knows and that I´m her best friend :´) 

lol at how dirty the Cranney´s car was after we got in and out so many times

setting up for Christmas... finally found time on Christmas Eve mismo

                               Our district leader´s skype pic ended up being with the whole district haha

#worthit (our Skype call was cut off at least 25 x!)

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Week 43


Well, I heard you already know, BUT igual, I will let you officially know that changes happened, but not for me! I´m staying in Horqueta with Hna Lundberg for another change!! Crayzee! I´m coming up on six months here by the time this change is over. That´s a pretty long time. Also, I will now OFFICIALLY be in the hottest place on planet earth through the hottest month of the year. Although TBH the hottest month so far has been October #almostdiedaphysicalandemotionaldeath.

But anyway, I was really excited to stay. The crazy thing that did happen though is that like everyone and their mother in our zone had changes. And our new ZL and comp of our DL is the ex AP (#mishlingo). But yeah, they brought in two new zone leaders to "revamp Concí" on account of apparently the numbers in our zone have been suffering. So yeah, E´Payne had changes to make room for E´Simao, the new intense, ex-Brazilian military zone leader, who we are now going to be working with on like a tri-weekly basis. So intense RN. 

So yeah, this last week was good, but also a bit overwhelming on account of all the changes. But this week should be sick! Today we had our zone activity and we went Christmas caroling at the SAME hospital I went to w/ Hna Aguilar that scared me sooo bad. Like, we went to the maternity area, and I kid you not, it is half-way outdoors with cats and dogs walking around and a set up worse than girls camp. Real sketch. Like, rust on everything sketch.

Anyway, but tomorrow we WERE going to be having a zone Christmas party, but then we come to find out they were just trying to hype up what will be a zone conference. Bummer... But it´ll still be a good time, cause all the northern lejos areas are getting together. And then on Friday is CHRISTMAS! And I will see your beautiful faces and we will get to talk in Spanish por fin (I´m looking at you, Mom-dawg.) So yeah, should be a good week. 

Ok, well I am in Concepción still right now and we have some errands to run before heading back to Horqueta. But I´ll talk to you rill soon <3 Can´t believe it´s been like 7 1/2 months since the Mother´s Day call. THAT´S SO LONG. But the wait is almost over ;) Get hyped!

Hearts and stars,
Hermana Holly Ross 

chocolate wasted (E´Mendoza got FOUR huge Christmas packages, and we were the lucky recipients of a bag of crunch bars)

Our former DREAM TEAM

E´Simao, our Brazilian ex-military zone leader

Classic Paraguay

Walter and Federico

Horqueta sign featuring our district

Horqueta District before the most recent changes

Monday, December 14, 2015

Week 42

Palm Trees
4 year old model

w/ Gloria and her son Luis (he had his 1st birthday this past week!) 

Center of  Horqueta
district post-meeting lunch (/with one of our zone leaders who is finishing his mission this change #RIP, and The Cranney's who are one of only 2 senior couples in the mission)

W/ the Estigarribias

when your desk explodes (also, you´ll be proud to know this is my comp´s desk, not mine. I´ve actually gotten a decent amount more organized this past change.)
From last week's outing and one of the elder's cameras
Hermana Lundgren and Hermana Ross 
From the top of last week's hike

Dearest family,

It´s been a good week. Kinda "uneventful," but pretty productive overall. This week has been a typically-unfortunate mix of burning sun and pouring rain #dathumiditylyfe, and I have been legit soaked at the end of every day as a result of one of those two weather occurrences. I´m 105% never living in any type of super heated climate ever ever again after the mission. Alright, sorry for how straight up stream-of-consciousness this is getting. 

This week my comp and I set some pretty dang high contacting goals on account of we both really just wanted to have at least a week in our mission where we really did try to talk to pretty much everybody we saw. Technically that´s always the goal as a missionary, but turns out it´s actually V hard to do because sometimes we actually do have scheduled things to do... But anyway, we talked to so many people this week and ended up breaking all previously standing records for the area #winning
 #butit´snotaboutthenumbers. It was a good time though.

Things are 2 good with my comp. We are livin it up and having a great time. I actually had one of the best conversations with her in my whole mission this past week one day. We were out contacting after lunch, but legit NO ONE was out on account of that siesta life and also cause it was so hot. So we are walking around futilely and are just not having it. So we walk past the plaza area in the center of Horqueta and are like, "yeah, we´re just gonna sit here for a minute." So we sit on this wall thing in the shade and talk about interpersonal vs group social dynamics in relation to leadership. It got real deep and the spirit actually helped me internalize some psychological concepts that I´d only understood on a more surface level before. V interesting. I wish I knew how to make a career out of having conversations like that lolz.

In other news we have a new investigator who is actually a family member of the Estigarribias! She was living up by Brazil before, but just moved down to live with her family. So that´s looking V promising and is yet one of 1000 reasons more why I don´t want transfers. Gosh, that´s actually happening tomorrow, btdubs. I´m so nervous about it that I almost can´t really think about it. Well, nervous isn´t the right word, but just like slightly anxious? Are those synonyms? The point is just that if I get changed it´s gonna be a hard adjustment #thewillofGod

Other funny thing that´s gone down this week is that we had two different grilled-cheese parties (well, they were actually just lunches, but on the mission normal events get called "parties," cause we don´t have the real kind.) And anyway, both times I got put as the official cook because of how experienced I am with my grilled cheese skillz. And I kid you not, everyone was talking up my sandwiches so hard and I actually felt really proud. Turns out I don´t have absolutely no mothering skills after all ;) #wifeskillz #lyfeskillz

ALSO, I´ve been eating up the conference Liahona, so obvs I´d like to share one of my favorite parts of one of my favorite talks. I would really recommend reading the whole thing. (https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2015/10/remembering-in-whom-we-have-trusted?lang=eng) But for now, here´s a semi-lengthy quote I really like:

"Although avoidance of sin is the preferred pattern in life, as far as the efficacy of the Atonement of Jesus Christ is concerned, it matters not what sins we have committed or how deep we have sunk into that proverbial pit. It matters not that we are ashamed or embarrassed because of the sins that, as the prophet Nephi said, “so easily beset” us. It matters not that once upon a time we traded our birthright for a mess of pottage.

What does matter is that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, suffered “pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind” so “that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people.” What does matter is that He was willing to condescend, to come to this earth and descend “below all things” and suffer “more powerful contradictions than any man” ever could. What does matter is that Christ is pleading our case before the Father, “saying: Father, behold the sufferings and death of him who did no sin, in whom thou wast well pleased; … wherefore, Father, spare these my brethren that believe on my name, that they may come unto me and have everlasting life.” That is what really matters and what should give all of us renewed hope and a determination to try one more time, because He has not forgotten us.

I testify that the Savior will never turn away from us when we humbly seek Him in order to repent; will never consider us to be a lost cause; will never say, “Oh no, not you again”; will never reject us because of a failure to understand how hard it is to avoid sin. He understands it all perfectly, including the sense of sorrow, shame, and frustration that is the inevitable consequence of sin.

Repentance is real and it works. It is not a fictional experience or the product “of a frenzied mind.” It has the power to lift burdens and replace them with hope. It can lead to a mighty change of heart that results in our having “no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually.” Repentance, of necessity, is not easy. Things of eternal significance rarely are. But the result is worth it. As President Boyd K. Packer testified in his last address to the Seventy of the Church: “The thought is this: the Atonement leaves no tracks, no traces. What it fixes is fixed. … The Atonement leaves no traces, no tracks. It just heals, and what it heals stays healed.”"

Honestly I´ve learned a freaking ton about repentance on the mission. Which is funny, because technically I´m living life on the highest plane I ever have. But even still, I am so far from perfect. Like I have weaknesses as a person and even more as a missionary, but repentance is so real. And it´s for everyone in every circumstance. And Heavenly Father just takes you where you are and works with you from there. You don´t have to repent in order to be worthy to repent. God always listens to our prayers and always wants to help us. And to me, that´s pretty much the definition of hope. God is in the details of our lives!

Ight, love you dearly!!! Have a gr8 pre-Christmas week and bake extra Christmas cookies in honor of me *single tear*

Hermana Ross

Monday, December 7, 2015

Week 41

Note:  These pictures are a bit out of order but hopefully you'll get the idea of a super fun yet difficult P- day hike with the whole district of Horqueta, with ice cream as the reward at the end.  The pictures at the bottom are from last week's Pday also in a neighboring town of Yby Yau, her companion's former area.  It looks like they are really enjoying each other in this rare all -English -speaking district.

What missionaries bring on hikes

The elders have bikes!

Dear Family!!!

Ok, well again, I´m high key stressed on account of I spent like plus half of my cyber time sending freaking pictures and now am way short on writing time. noooooo. The good news is I´ll just copy and paste what my comp wrote... again... to help you guys get the low down and to save myself time. Also she said some nice stuff about me, so that´s cute. But I´ll try to hit a few details before we get to her supes cheery-spiritual filters of the week. Lolz.

Zone conf: So this week we had zone conference up in Concepción, and it was interviews with Presidente this time. So, as usual, I was a teensy bit apprehensive on account of that fear of authority life (don´t worry, it´s gotten better.) But anyway, it ended up being way chill! Like the whole conference was really good and pretty relaxed and we just kinda had a few stations with the APs no mas and talked about contacting and obedience and such #theusual. But then my interview with President was pretty chill and we just talked about how I´ve been doing and I actually felt like he cared about me and stuff, which was a nice feeling. I actually do really have a lot of respect for President McMullin because he´s just very consistent and focuses on doctrine and is very by-the-book with a lot of things (which goes back to the consistency.) So anyway it was nice to have a teeny bit more of an emotional connection forge por medio de this experience. Then afterwards we had a post-conference pizza lunch with our district and the Cranney´s and it was real chill. V fun .

Divisiones: So this week we all had exchanges with the hermana leaders, and I again went with Hna Fardos. It was a pretty good time and actually pretty chill. True story though is that between the two companionships we were able to visit with every single member (active, less active, and recent converts) in our entire area. So that´s how small Horqueta is for ya. But we did some solid work and it was nice to feel like we caught up/even jumped ahead. 

Cerro Memby: So today we ended up coming back to Yby Yau to go on a "chill" hike my comp went on when she was here. Turns out this hike is legit just scaling up a mountain and was actually pretty dang hard. The Cranneys were going to come with us, but it´s a DANG good thing they didn´t, cause they would NOT have made it. I legit fell twice and am lucky I didn´t legitimately fall down the side of the mountain. Dad, you actually would have been V scared of the ledge we were on and I had your voice in my head telling me to get down from there. Anyway, it was pretty intense and super, super Paraguayan. Like, walking through straight up jungle and bugs and huge spider webs. It was finsane. And it was pretty dang burning hot up at the top/pretty small and crowded. But looking back it was a cool experience, although at the time I really wondered if it was worth it or not. I would say all in all 5/10 would maybe recommend. But today was actually still a way good day and afterwards we all got ice cream and played card games and walked around the city a little bit. It´s nice to get out of Horqueta and do something *exciting.*

Sunday: So yesterday´s Sacrament meeting was actually so so boss. Our asistencia was wayy better this week (like 30 status) and it was fast and testimony meeting. And a ton of members bore their testimonies and they were actually really sweet and spiritual and it was just an awesome experience. Maybe one of my favorite Sacrament meetings ever. Really good. And then somehow later in the day my comp and I ended up hypothesizing about changes and I just realized I would be very, very sad to leave Horqueta. I have learned and grown sooo much here. And I have really learned to love the people and to love the rama. Honestly I was straight up scared to come so far out into kinda the middle of nothing, but it´s turned out to be such a blessing. I´m so grateful for the time I´ve had here and for everything I´ve experienced. But let´s not jump to conclusions, cause I´m still praying that I´ll get to spend Christmas here with Hermana Lundberg. Time will tell.

Ok, well those are the main highlights of the week. It was pretty good and pretty chill overall, I would say. My comp and I are setting tons of contacting goals, and we´ve improved our numbers every single week we´ve been together. Which is actually pretty great, tbh. So we´re still working on finding the people truly prepared to receive the gospel, and in the meantime we´re having tons of good experiences and living up dat mission dream lyfe. God answers prayers.

Love you tons!! Hope you enjoy like three weeks worth of pictures... hopefully it will partially compensate for this not-that-detailed letter. 

xoxoxoxo Hermana Ross

Here´s my comp´s weekly letter as well:

Hola Hola Coca-Cola!

This weather though... it's actually been pretty fresquito the past couple of weeks thanks to the rain and God being super merciful to my white skin. Oh and get this! The past 2 weeks for P-day my lovely companion and I were able to visit my old area in Yby Yau because get this: it's less than an hour away from Horqueta. Woot Woot! So we may or may not be doing cyber in Yby Yau right now! Haha #roadtrips

Oh! Funny Story: so I am in an all English District right? And normally we all sing together and can harmonize when we sing. Anyway, this one Sunday the missionaries were scattered throughout the capilla. I wasn't sitting next to anyone "note"'-worthy nor did I pay attention when the teacher said we would just sing the 1st and 4th verse of the hymn. So, as everyone went to sing the last verse of "Sunshine in the Soul" I went into the 2nd verse and sang SO loudly that literally everyone changed from singing the 4th verse to singing the 2nd. I am still not sure if that was a good or a bad thing...

On a more spiritual "note" (I'm sorry it's just so funny now! Okay but really...) this last couple weeks we have been studying Repentance and Baptism. It was a fantastic thing to study right before the holidays. #ChristmasSpirit I however would like to focus more on the repentance aspect. 

As you know I am with a FANTASTIC companion in a FANTASTIC area during a FANTASTIC time of the year. Basically the recipe for Hakunah Matata right? Don't let the meercat fool you. Life is not perfect and we definitely are not. Yes, I have been doing SO much better this change. Heck! I have been doing probably the best I've been doing my whole mission. Yet, I was becoming overwhelmed by my countless weaknesses. I know you all probs NEVER experince that. Am I right?
Anyway, Hermana Ross lovingly listened to all my drama. Then she, with the Spirit of Elder Holland, said to me, "Hermana Lundberg, today is the day of our Repentance NOT the day of our Perfection." #futureGeneralReliefSocietyPresident 

That is my message to you all: Today is the day of our Repentance NOT the day of our Perfection. It's a cold hard truth but try as we might (and should) we aren't going to be perfect in a day, nor in a week, nor in a month, nor in a year, nor in this lifetime. But we can repent all day everyday. We can constantly prove to God that we have not given up. It's a pain sometimes but it prevents us from experiencing greater pain. Kinda like taking vitamins. Okay actually not at all like taking vitamins but you get the picture. 

I am so eternally grateful for the Atonement, the infinite and eternal sacrifice that allows us to become infinite and eternal. I hope you all remember the reason for the season. 

And now I am sounding cheesy so I hope you enjoy this picture my companion took of an owl.
Love you all!

Amor de Paraguay,
Hermana Lundberg