Monday, November 3, 2014

Letter #49 - November 3, 2014

Hey everyone!!
This week flew by and it is incredible to think that the time now only goes faster!! I am writing you all from Posadas because we have our leadership counsel.  We had a long 12 hours of travel yesterday that has left me tired, sore, and with a beard.  We left Salto del Guaira last night at around 7 pm and we arrived here in Posadas today at 5:30.  Most of the time that we come to Leadership counsel we end up sleeping in other missionaries apartments,  this time however, Elder Worthington and I get to stay in a nice hotel basically because all that travel time has destroyed us.  We get a little act of mercy from President LaPierre today.  This last week was one full of crazy experiences and frustrating setbacks.  As a zone leader there are always extra things that we have to do and so its not often we have a normal work schedule.  We had something come up every single day this week and it was frustrating to have all these obstacles in our path.  We did however have success this week in many ways.  We have been trying hard to take advantage of the excitement that all the members here have to work.  It is not a common thing to find here in this part of the world.  The way of life here is super Hakuna Matata and as I come to understand more what that actually means,  I begin to have slight grudges against Timon and Pumba.  The members in my area however are awesome.  One day in particular, we headed out to a part of our area called Barrio 29 de Septiembre.  Its a very long ways from our pinch so we dont go that often.  In this barrio lives the Zaracho family, and they are ALWAYS willing to help us out with lessons or give us references.  We headed out there this week and asked them to come visit some people with us and they agreed.  First, we sat and talked with a group of people at their house and we taught them the Gospel of Jesus Christ using the activity "The Cross".  I cant wait to show you all this example because its awesome!!!!  They all were very helpful and they bring a special spirit with them when they come.  Next, we visited a man we had found a couple days earlier in the week.  Without even asking for help these 3 kids taught this man and his HUGE family all about the church and how it works, why we believe what we believe and how he can know for himself if its true. And they did so completely in Guarani.  Elder Worthington and I understood very little of the details of what was being said but we just stayed quiet and had complete confidence in the kids.  The man ended up telling them that when we had our lesson with him it was difficult for him to communicate with us in Spanish.  We had no idea.  Just another one of the blessings of having members with you!!  We had awesome success with this family.  Also we had a miracle this week that was amazing. Every night we have to be home by 10:00 at the LATEST.  9:30 came around and we were still in 29 de Septiembre, a solid 7 miles from the house.  We began to walk and try and hitch hike our way to the apartment.  Hitch hiking here normally works within the first 15 minutes, but that night it was already late and so nobody picked us up.  We had walked around 4 km and nobody was even slowing down as they passed us.  We began to feel as if we were never going to make it home.  We were already out past curfew and nowhere near the house.  All of a sudden a SUPER fancy car pulls over to give us a ride (this NEVER NEVER happens).  We hurried and jumped in and it was a Brazilian man named Adel and his wife.  He was speaking in Portuguese but surprisingly I understood him!! He asked us "Mormons right?" We answered yes.  He then proceeded to tell us all about how his daughter was a member in Brazil and that she was going to serve a mission to!! Then his wife told us that she had been baptized at age 10 but then fell away.  They gave us their address and we have plans to visit them this week!  Overall this week was amazing although trying as well, but I am so grateful for these experiences.  I love you all and continue to pray for you daily!! Stay strong and please don't forget us down here in your prayers!! Thanks for everything!!

Giving it my all,
Elder Ollerton

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Letter #48 - October 20, 2014

October 20, 2014

          Hey Everyone,
          Another week down here on my side of the world.  Crazy sometimes to think that you all really are on the other side of the world!!  This week was slow for a lot of reasons, the main one being it was a FETCHING FURNACE!!!!!!!!!  Summer came on this week and it came on hard!! Wednesday we had divisions and it got up to 110 degrees.  I was dying!!! We stopped every hour, sat in the shade and chugged a liter of water.  It was amazing how fast the heat came on.  Needless to say the heat has made working a little less comfortable, but not less satisfying.  We have continued to have awesome lessons with Lilian and Ivan and the spirit is always unreal!!  This week we stopped by to explain more in depth the Plan of Salvation because we didn't have an opportunity to do it last week.  We wanted to wait until Lilian AND Ivan were both there to listen.  We got there and just kind of casually started to talk.  After like 15 minutes,  Lilian went inside and came out with the Plan of Salvation pamphlet and told us she was anxious to  talk about it.  We were both immediately excited.  We began to explain in depth the Plan that God has for each of us and they stopped us every so often to ask questions and have us explain certain parts again.  The lesson went so well that when I felt prompted to invite them to be baptized I was almost a little afraid because I didn't want to scare them away.  Elder Hawk had the same impression and he followed it. They sat and listened to Elder Hawk and when he asked them if they would be baptized, Ivan said yes, but Lilian started talking about how her catholic family wouldn't like it if they got baptized.  We asked her if she believed God wanted her to be baptized and she said she could feel it!!! (At this point I was doing a little TOUCHDOWN dance in my head!!)  Then we decided to end with a prayer which Lilian offered.  She prayed that we would be patient with them as they make this decision.  Then she prayed that her family would be okay with their decision.  It was very obvious that they had already recognized that Baptism is something that is super important.  I KNOW they will be baptized.  I wont be here to see it but their progress is incredible!!  Other big news, this morning we received the transfer list.  After 4 incredibly fast months in Ita Paso, I am moving on!!  I have received a new assignment as the new Zone leader of a zone called La Paloma.  Just so you know, La Paloma is so far from everything else that people joke it is part of a different mission.  it’s about a 2 day trip by bus to get there from my current area.  It’s like the Yuma, Arizona of the mission.  My new companion is Elder Worthington!!! Elder Merrill trained him and I together in Villa Cabello almost 1 year ago!! Its going to be fun!! My new area is called Saltos de Guaira. It is right on the border of Brazil so there is a TON of Portugese!!  Looks like the Lord really wants me to grow to appreciate the gift of tongues!!  I'm super excited for new experiences and challenges this change will bring!!

           Love you all!!! Stay strong and "True to the truth for which martyrs have perished" ;)
           Elder Ollerton

Monday, October 6, 2014

Letter #47 - October 6, 2014

Hey Guys,
This week was amazing!! Ya ok a lot of it had to do with the fact that it was General Conference and the spirit about lifted me off the ground, but still what a week!!!  We worked super hard this week because we knew that we weren't going to work basically at all when the weekend came!! We gave it anything we had and ended up with 30 lessons in 3 days!! We received so much help from the Lord this week!!  We had more amazing lessons with Romina who is now on page 50 of the Book of Mormon.  She even marks scriptures she likes or underlines words she doesn't understand, its AWESOME!!  We were praying super hard to be able to have a good week so that the spirit could carry us strong into Conference and boy was that prayer answered!!!  Conference was something that I have never anticipated more!!  Something about being on the mission has made simple truths so much more meaningful to me, like the fact that we have a living Prophet today.  We get the chance to listen to a man that talks with God and Jesus Christ.  As M. Russell Ballard stated, The leaders of the church will not, and cannot lead us astray.  As I sat and listened to these men, I wondered if the investigators or even members really understood what it means to have a living Prophet.  Then it dawned on me.  That's MY job.  As a missionary, it is my job to help others understand the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and living Prophets are a part of this Gospel.  I left Conference so uplifted and spiritually fed it was amazing!!  This letter isn't very long but i want all of you to know that I have a testimony of this Gospel, and conference was an awesome strengthening force to that testimony.  I encourage each of you to read and reread all of the talks from Conference and apply what we learn.  By doing so i promise you as a set apart representative of Jesus Christ, your testimony and relationship with God the Father and his son Jesus Christ will grow more than you can imagine.  I want to leave you with one of my favorite quotes from General Conference, "The Lord will never make anything out of us that we do not CHOOSE to become."  I hope and pray that each of us can choose this day to serve the Lord and he will truly help us become who he wants us to be!! (Reading back I think I just gave my own conference talk.) I love you all so much and pray for you always!!!

Stay safe!
Elder Ollerton

Monday, September 29, 2014

Letter #46 - September 29, 2014

Hello Everyone from your best friend down here in Paraguay!

This week was nuts!! We worked so hard, saw a ton a ton of success but also quite a few hard trials! We started out this week with P-day going to the beach and playing some football.  It felt great to get out there and do something American for the first time in a year!!  After P-day we went back and tried to clean our apartment which has become impossible.  The apartment is just determined to be an old run down, fall apart piece of poop!!  It's all good though.  Tuesday came around and we found a less active member who had recently moved to Ita Paso, and had been praying to have the church put back into her life!! The first door of the week that we clapped was an answer to a prayer!!  We also found a ton of new people this week, and a lot of them were super cool!! The best part is a lot of them were guys which means potential Priesthood!!  We had especially powerful experiences that I want to share with our progressing investigator Romina.  We passed by on Tuesday with a member who is awesome.  Hermana Cabrera is the perfect person to help us out with Romina.  We decided to teach Romina about the Law of Chasity.  She is 19 years old, not married, with a 3 month old daughter and she lives with her Boyfriend.  As you can see, we were a little nervous as to how the talk would go.  We began to talk, and it was such an awesome discussion!!!! The Spirit was strong and testified of the truth of what we were saying.  It was vital to teach with the Spirit especially on a touchy subject.  Romina accepted everything and agreed that these principles were something she wanted to see her daughter live when she grows up and something that she is going to talk to her boyfriend about.  We were excited and relieved!!  What a first day of the week!! Then the very next day decided to walk to an outlying neighborhood and contact. We contacted a house and there we met Cecilia.  She is 84 years old and can barely move she has had so many operations on her body. She is probably about 4`11 and is just the most awesome little lady!!  She talked about how hard her life has been since her husband died and about all the pain she is in.  It was super sad, but at the same time it's an awesome feeling to know that we have just the thing to help her!  We explained what the Priesthood is and how we have the power to give people blessings, then we explained a little about blessings.  We asked her if she would like one and ever so slowly we made our way back in side her tiny house.  She sat down and asked me to give the blessing.  One of the blessings I am seeing a lot of now is that as I become more and more in tune with the Spirit, God gives me more chances to exercise my Priesthood.  We gave her a blessing, and as bad as I wanted to tell her that her body would feel better the only thing the Spirit prompted me to tell her was to be patient in trials and have faith that the Lord knew her.  It was a very sobering lesson on doing the Lords will and not my own.  After the blessing,  I felt spiritually exhausted, I was even sweating.  I think the blessing actually took a lot out of me!  Cecilia looked up at me and with the most sincere look in her eyes said Gracias.  I almost cried (ya ya i know laugh it up).  This week was one full of the Spirit!! What a blessing!! Also something (pretty sure it was a spider) bit me and my whole hand swelled up.  Then the next day I didn't get out of bed, I felt so sick. It was nice to relax and just let my hand heal. I am fine now.
Well all is well in Zion!! I am loving my mission and realizing that I have less than a year left is a huge motivator!

Please continue to pray for us down here we need it!! Love you all and thanks for everything!!

Elder Ollerton

Monday, September 22, 2014

Letter #45 - September 22, 2014

Hau-pe chera´a!!
That's some good ol Guarani for ya :)  Just stoppin' in for the weekly letter from your favorite missionary down here in a country nobody knows.  Just kidding :)  I hope every one had a great week, we sure did!! This week was the fastest of my mission.  We did divisions with the Elders in San Pedro (a village about 3 hours outside of Encarnacion) on Tuesday and it went well.  It is a super small town and so we ran into each other a lot.  We decided to have all 4 of us work there for a day in an effort to help the Elders a little more.  I went out with Elder Arevalo, a brand new 18 year old missionary from Lindon, UT.  It was fun to be able to work with someone brand new and super young!! Made me remember when I couldn't understand or talk to anyone ha.  Good times.  We got back to Ita Paso on Wednesday afternoon and so we didn't have a ton of time to work this week.  We really only worked 20 hours this week out of the 50 or so we normally have.  We had some really cool experiences with the Morel Family this week.  They are a family of less active members whose mom is coming back, but whose dad´s work prevents him from coming.  We passed by and began to challenge the Dad to look for a new job.  He told us that the job he had now paid a lot of money and it would be impossible to find another job as good as it.  He said even if he did find another job he would have to work more and it would pay less.  We told him "Hermano, you may feel like that, but we promise you that you will actually work less, and gain more!"  The spirit filled the room and the couple told us they would kneel together and pray about what to do.  It was an awesome lesson.  We went back 3 days later to follow up and the Hermano told us that they had decided that he couldn't do it.  He couldn't bring himself to quit his job.  We had decided to share the story of the Young, Rich, Ruler and how he followed everything the Lord asked, but couldn't give the Lord Everything.  We talked about how the Lord requires sacrifice from those he loves to try them.  Then I felt prompted to share Alma 20:23.  King Lamoni´s father says he will give up half of his kingdom to have his life spared.  Then I read in Alma 22:15.  The king says he will give up everything he has in order to know God and have eternal life.  We talked about how the Gospel is like a Pearl of Great Price that once found, is worth whatever sacrifice necessary to obtain (Matthew 13:45-46).  We then asked him "Hermano, what would you give to have eternal life?"  The answer shocked us both, he said " I will quit my job."  We were so happy!!! He really understood what we were saying to him and the importance of church attendance!!  We had so many awesome (and crazy) experiences this week but as always, they will have to wait another year to tell them all.  Crazy to think that I come home a year from today!! Starting to hit me how fast the mission really is.  Gotta make every second count!!

Jaji-tupata (Talk to you later)
Elder Ollerton ;)

Monday, September 15, 2014

Letter #44 - September 15, 2014

Hey Everyone!!
Hope everyone is safe and sound at home.  This week was a pretty good.  We worked hard!  Elder Magdaleno and I parted ways on Wednesday and Elder Hawk and I went to work.  We have started to realize that the only way Ita Paso is going to grow is if we start to work out in the other neighborhoods.  Ita Paso is just to small for us to see some crazy growth in and of itself.  We started to work in a part of our area called Arrabales (basically Guarani for undesirables) and it we have quickly discovered some weird events happening.  Elder Hawk and I were just doing some normal contacting when we heard a voice yell "Hello" out of a window.  Normally it's just kids who think its funny to try and talk to us in English.  We like to turn around and contact them and maybe throw a little English in our sentences just to tease them.  A lot of the time when I speak English to people its about things that don't make any sense to them at that moment.  I try to make it fun!  I say things like "I have a hole in my sock and my big toe is cold" stupid stuff like that makes working more fun!!! This time however it was an older woman who was wearing the vail that's typical of a couple religions here.  She came out and I called her sister and asked her what her name was.  She started asking me why I called her sister before telling us her name was Pastora.  She told us that she wore the vail on her head because whenever people saw her scalp it made her feel like bugs were biting her or something.  I just thought she was crazy until I felt the spirit leave.  We got a really dark heavy feeling and we both got really uncomfortable.  We gave her a pass along card and as we started to leave she looked me straight in the eyes and I felt I heavy darkness that was the scariest thing ever.  I just felt like she was honestly looking inside of me.  Not sure how else to describe it.  Down here witch craft and black magic type stuff are common so now I am convinced that she is some crazy witch lady!! HA HA HA We started to head to a members house to introduce Elder Hawk and we passed another woman with the same vail on, and the same thing happened.  She looked at us all creepy and we got empty feelings inside.  I think they were undercover dementors from Harry Potter. Some one call J.K. Rowling for me and tell her jokes over.  Sorry I think I am getting weird out here.
Hard to believe that I have completed 11 months in the mission.  Time really does fly by!! I am so grateful for all of your continued love and support!! I love you all and hope that you all are staying safe and enjoying all life has to offer.

Elder Ollerton
PS.  Please continue to pray for the Barboza family!! They sure need it!!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Letter #43 September 8, 2014

Hola Familia y mis Amigos!!
Que tal a todos?? Espero que todo esta bien donde esten.  Ahora tengo amigos por todos lados del mundo y seria dificil a nombrar todos.  Well I am running out of original ways to start these emails so I figured maybe I should just do one in Spanish haha.
This week was fast!! It was the last week of the transfer so we were pretty worn down.  We just barely got changes and I am staying in Ita Paso again but with an Elder named Elder Hawk.  We had a problem this week with the Barboza family.  As Elder Magdaleno and I were riding on a colectivo, we looked out the window and saw Hermano Barboza at work... with a cigarette in his mouth!!  We were both just devastated.  He had worked so hard to leave these things behind and he fell again.  We passed by their house a couple days later and they werent home, but that same night we passed got a phone call from a VERY VERY drunk Hermano Barboza.  He began to talk about crazy topics and I just passed the phone to my comp because I couldnt understand a thing.  We were super confused at what had happened.  We passed by the very next day and again, they werent there.  On our walk back we passed by the 3 kids of the Barboza family and asked if their dad had been drinking and smoking.  They all covered up for him.  Then we told them we would give them stickers if they told the truth.  Then they all told us the truth haha.  We went by a couple days later and the Hermano told us that it was his work that was difficult.  All of his work buddies are alcoholics and so he told us he was going to go find a different place to work.  It was awesome to see him taking the iniciative and looking for a solution.  We also had alot of cool experiences with members this past week.  I think sometimes we as missionaries take them for granted.  We tend to see the work load and then wonder why the members dont help us more.  This week we decided to make rounds to the members and just thank them for all that they have done and continue to do for us!!  We had 2 of the families cry on us and it felt great to be able to just thank someone and love them instead of focusing more on the things that stress us out.   We have alot to do here in Ita Paso and at times it is hard to stay animated because I have been in an area that is probably the size of Lone Peak High School as far as area goes.  At times I feel like I have clapped every house in Ita Paso, but then I remember a talk given by Edward Dube of the Seventy in October 2013 general conference (no im not going to tell you what it says, im going to make you go read it).  It is a great reminder to me constantly.  I love you all and pray for you always!! Please keep us in your prayers down here ;)

Elder Ollerton