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

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Letter #42 - September 2, 2014

Hey Everybody!!
I hope every ones week was stellar (yes I did just use that word), and you are all doing well!!  This week was one of ups and downs as normal but the high moments of the week were definitely some of the best!!  This week we were still running around trying to get everything ready for our Conference.  We had to get all of the food sorted out and the restaurant that was going to cater it is an hour outside of Encarnacion.  Long story short, it all went well and everyone loved the lunch that we had.  President had a tough time crossing over to Paraguay from Argentina and so he only got to share a little bit of time with him.  We talked all about what it means to be a successful missionary.  The Assistants had a list of qualities that people think makes a good missionary, then they had another list of things that the scriptures say make a good missionary.  Something I have learned in the mission that I am truly grateful for is that numbers don't mean a thing.  Elder Magdaleno and I always say that if we can lay down at night feeling like missionaries then we have done our job.  I have really been focusing on that as we find more and more opposition in Ita Paso.  It really has helped me to know that the only thing the Lord and Father in Heaven ask of us is that we give it everything we have.  Even if we don't see the results, we can always feel the fruits of our labors if we give everything.  This last Sunday it rained hard and so we only had around 20 people in church and that was after calling all the members.  We even had a member here call us and ask if church was cancelled because of the rain.  Needless to say we got a little frustrated.  Even though the Church here bares the same name as it does back home, things don't necessarily run the same.  Elder Magdaleno and I do EVERYTHING.  At times it is exhausting and we just collapse when we get home at night, but it is very rewarding as well.  Even though I feel like there is a lot on my plate I wouldn't have it any other way.   Yesterday, we headed to Argentina for our Leadership council with President and that is always a blast.  This time was different from any other though.  He talked a lot about what it means to "Edify the Church" and how we can do it.  The members here need a lot of help with everything and President talked about the importance of helping the members become more self sufficient.  Elder Magdaleno and I have been working hard to help the members better understand the covenants we make at Baptism in hopes that they will have more desires to help us when they realize the gravity of what we promise.  Waiting and praying to see results. 

That's all for this week!! Hope everyone is safe and loving home (or mission) life!! Love you all!!
Elder Ollie ;)

Monday, August 25, 2014

Letter #41 August 23, 2014

Hey Everyone
I cant think of any good jokes this week, thinking hard for next week!!  This week was nuts.  We ran all over the place trying to get things ready!  We had an awesome weekend nonetheless. This week after months of long hard work, the Barbosa couple was finally able to be married and baptized!!! We ran around like chickens with our heads cut off this week and made sure that everything was perfect for them.  We had to do paperwork, find witnesses for the wedding and on top of everything make sure that money was in order.  Here in Paraguay it is 200,000 Guarani or around $40 dollars.  That's around half a months salary here, so it was a huge sacrifice that the Barbosa family made.  Brother Barbosa has been fighting the entire 3 months we have been working with him to try and stop smoking and drinking.  This week it was make or break.  Either he was going to stop doing these things, or they weren't going to get baptized.  Monday night we decided to go buy him a big bag of candy to help take away his urges to smoke and drink.  That night we took him 6 lbs of candy.  Man did he eat a lot of candy.  We did not see him a single time this week without candy in his mouth.  He is an awesome guy and he is going to be a great Priesthood holder.  I was touched when he asked me to baptize him and I thought a lot about the change he had made going from a passed out drunk to now being a member of the Restored Church.  At the baptism we hit a couple of snags.  There was no leader there to preside, no refreshments, nothing.  We had to run all over again in order to get stuff ready.  To make things better, the water in the font hit me about mid thigh.  Super low.  I had to let Brother Barbosa down easy then shove him under the water.  He came up with a huge smile on his face!!  We have seen all 5 of these family members enter the waters of baptism, and they are now on track to becoming an eternal family.  Nothing short of a miracle!!  Don't worry,  we also had our share of funny experiences this week.  Friday night, we wanted to go stop by the Barbosa´s house just to make sure that he was staying strong and fighting the urges.  We decided to get on a different bus that we thought would drop us off closer to their house.  After about an hour on this bus, I turned to my comp and we both knew that we had passed Ita Paso over 30 minutes ago.  We just started to laugh and decided we would ride the bus to the end of the line, then swallow our pride and ask the driver where the heck we were!!  We got off at an abandoned gas station and walked in the general direction of Ita Paso, down a dirt road with only the vague lights of Encarnacion shining dimly in the night sky (man I should be a poet ;).  We hit a spot where a dirt path turned off the main road and we took it.  We walked through a bunch of weeds for around 20 minutes before somehow we ended up in the front yard of the Barbosa family!  It was a miracle!!! I didn't know whether to laugh of to cry at this tender mercy.  Not going to lie I was pretty sketched out at the thought of walking down a dark dirt road in a sketchy part of our area, but God knew my heart and blessed us.  I am so grateful for all I am learning and especially for my better understanding and love for the Gospel.  The scriptures have truly come alive and I look forward to studies everyday.  Understanding this love would of helped me in school before my mission ha. 

I love you all and you are in my prayers always!!!  Letters would be great, and photos too!!
Elder Ollerton

Monday, August 18, 2014

Letter #40 August 17, 2014

August 17, 2014

Hey Everyone!!

This week has flown by!! I feel like just yesterday I was writing all of you and now here we are again.  (That’s probably the dumbest way I have ever started an email.)  Forgive me.  But this week was good.  We saw a lot of success and a lot of progress in more areas than one.  This week started off a little hard as my companion and I were still playing the quiet game.  I remembered advice that President Lapierre had given me for my future marriage.  He said "Elder, if you ever have a fight with your wife, do the smart thing and stay home from work to fix things."  So I thought it might work for our companionship too.  I told my comp that I wasn’t going to leave the house until we talked things out like adults.  I expected him to last until lunch maybe, but lo and behold, we stayed inside all day long.  I read ALOT!!!  I actually studied around 10 chapters in Alma, and then had time to read through the entire book, "Our Search for Happiness" by M. Russell Ballard (great book btw).  The next morning even though it was difficult, I felt like I needed to apologize to my comp for giving him an ultimatum like I did.  He still didn’t want to talk, but I can be a little persistent, and we ended up having a great talk, and now, all is well in Zion, Zion Prospered!!  We are continuing our work with The Barbosa family and it is going well.  Hermano is working hard to stop smoking and drinking.  He is doing so much better. Their date to be baptized is this Saturday so we stopped by yesterday to give him some extra encouragement.  We also had a lot of success with one of the families that Elder Silva and I found in divisions.  We have been passing by every other day trying to help them better understand our message and they seem to really like it!! Maximiliana and her 3 daughters always listen, and her husband listens when he is home. This past Sunday all 5 of them came to church!! In total we had 12 investigators in church this week!  The only thing is that we are scared to bring people to church now because of the crazy stuff that always happens with members.   This week, Sacrament meeting turned into a discussion again and the final speaker (1st counselor in the District Presidency), got up and talked for 40 minutes on a variety of topics, just a few of them were.... The Abrahamic Covenant, the Millennium, Satan being bound, and how we are all descendents of Ephraim and Manasseh. He called everyone to repentance, and ended by talking about Patriarchal Blessings.  My comp and I were dying!!! Our poor investigators had no idea what he was talking about.  It was super frustrating!!  After church we went and talked with Maximiliana and her family to see what they thought.  They told us they loved it!!! We decided to teach them the Gospel of Jesus Christ using the cross.  At the end when we revealed the cross, they all freaked out and thought we had really performed a miracle!!  It was the best reaction I have ever seen.  Normally when we use this example it’s with kids.  These women were 15, 20, and 21 years old.  We had to hold back our laughs. It was such a good lesson.  Overall, this week was full of awesome experiences, but like every other story, more detail will have to wait till I am home.

Stay safe and know you are in my prayers!!
Elder Ollerton

Monday, August 11, 2014

Letter #39 August 12, 2014

August 12, 2014
Hey Everybody,
I feel like I start off every single email the same way, so this one is going to start off with a joke. 
Two jokes are walking down the street, one joke sticks his foot out and trips the other joke... what a bad joke. :)
Now that we got that out of the way, this week was definitely a battle.  We worked hard but my comp has decided to play the worlds longest version of the quiet game.  Not sure what’s going on but he has just kept to himself all week.  I have been praying hard to know what to do to help, no answers have come yet.  This last Wednesday, we also did divisions with the Assistants.  Elder Silva and I stayed in Ita Paso and Elder Murillo (other assistant) and Elder Magdaleno headed to do a baptismal interview an hour away.  We had a ton of success and I learned a lot.  In total we had 11 lessons in the day that I worked with Elder Silva.  We found a bunch of cool new people.  One of the coolest experiences that we had though came when we decided to go find an Indian Tribe.  We had heard from some people that there was an Indian Tribe that lived in Ita Paso, and we wanted to find them.  We clapped a couple of houses and then we were pointed in the right direction.  We ended up having to talk to their Chief and he gave us permission to talk to his tribe.  They are all super open to the Gospel and have accepted a baptismal date for the 6th of September.  It was an awesome experience.  They even have their own language.  It's not Spanish, not Guarani, it’s called Macá.  It sounds a little like German, kind of weird.  Definitely something I wont soon forget.  We worked a lot on street contacting, something that Elder Silva LOVES to do. We passed out so many pass along cards and talked with so many people!!  It was an AWESOME day!! 
We also have realized that we basically live in a zoo.  People have the weirdest pets here.  We went back and visited a lady that Elder Silva and I found, and her husband brought out some 20+ lbs Komodo Dragon looking thing.  No idea what it was but I am definitely taking a picture with it sometime soon.  It's like 3 ft long and the guy told us that it just eats raw fish.  Not even sure what it was, but it was sweet!! Also we found a family with a pet monkey here.  Super cool!! I may have to move here to Paraguay for the sole purpose of having an awesome pet!!
Thursday this week, we went to visit the Barbosa family and when we got there the brothers of Sister Barbosa were all there drinking Caña.  It’s a favorite past time of every alcoholic here in Paraguay.  Luckily, Hermano Barbosa wasn't drinking.  He really is fighting these addictions and I think he is winning!  The drunk brothers all pulled me aside and told me they had questions for me.  I didn't have very much patience for them but they began to ask me super stupid questions.  They started to ask me who pays us to do what we do, where does all the money come from, stuff like that.  After like 5 minutes, we just got up and left.  About an hour later, we got a call from Hermano Barbosa asking us to come back.  We went back and they told us that their 9 year old son Carlos, had totally dropped cain on all his uncles for drinking and making the Elders leave.  He totally kicked them out of his house!!  What a stud!! This week was a battle but "I’m still standing", the people here love 80´s music and it makes me smile. It reminds me of home. I had to throw that in there).
I have really found strength from the scriptures this week and It has kept me going!! Alma 26:27 really motivated me today.  Gotta Love The WORK!!!

I love and pray for you all everyday!!

Much Love!
Elder Ollerton

Monday, August 4, 2014

Letter #38 August 3, 2014

Hey Everybody,

Well this week has to have been one of the hardest of my mission.  We worked hard, and my body is absolutely wrecked.  I have been sick for the past 4 days.  It's not the normal stomach problems I have had here either.  For the past 4 days, I have had migraines, chills, a fever, and aches throughout my entire body among other things.  It has been super hard to even think without something hurting.  There has been a couple times I have almost had my companion catch me just because my body has no energy to even stand.  But on a good note, I have become more humble, thanks to my inability to move.  All is well in Zion!! This letter is going to be shorter than the others because we worked 4 days this week because I was sick.  A cool experience we had this week happened when I least expected it.  I was really struggling to increase my love for the people here.  My companion called me out on it and it made me think, because it made a tough situation even harder for me!  He told me that the best thing he has done to help increase his love, is do an act of service.  I told him that would be a great idea if people ever asked us to do service or told us yes when we offered it.  Just as we were walking to our next appointment, we saw a family of 3 carrying a washing machine and it fell apart right as we caught up with them.  We asked if we could help and before they could give us an answer, we just picked up the washing machine and started walking.  We walked a couple of blocks and ended up at their house.  Turns out this family is a family of less active members with 3 kids waiting to be baptized!!  I didn't know whether to laugh or to cry at this tender mercy of the Lord.  I was so grateful.  Something I have learned from this quick 10 months on the mission is that the Lord presents us with opportunities to improve ourselves.  He doesn't do it for us.  The Lord gave me an opportunity to strengthen my love for the people and serve them and in turn my love grew.  I'm grateful that we had that experience and now we have another family to work with! 
I hope everything is going well and that everyone is living it up :) Stay safe!!

Love,  Elder Ollerton!!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Letter #36 July 21, 2014

Hey Everyone!!
This week was crazy.  I was all over the place!!  Monday after writing we all went out to the Ruins.  They were huge and pretty cool as well.  Still not really sure what they were, as far as I can tell it was a Guarani Indian civilization before.  We all had a great time running around taking pictures and just enjoying the sites.  Tuesday, I did divisions with Elder Quesada for like 3 hours and then we headed to the terminal here in Encarnacion.  We had to go to Asuncion, along with around 14 other missionaries in order to do paper work and more visa stuff.  I swear it never ends haha. We had a 5 hour bus ride to Asuncion that started at 12:00.  I woke up at 4:00am in the morning and asked a guy where we were and he told me we were about 30 miles outside of Encarnacion.  Our bus had broken down and we had been stuck in the same spot for 3 hours!  It was awful.  A 5 hour bus ride turned into 9 long hours on a tiny bus that was not designed for American sized people.  We finally got to Asuncion and it turns out that it was transfer day in the Asuncion mission.  I actually met friends from Lone Peak High School that I didn't even know were in that mission!!  It was so cool to see old friends from before the mission!  We headed to Migrations and took care of a couple issues and then got to go and see the temple!! It had been 9 months almost without seeing a Temple.  The feelings there were so special and it is definitely something that I miss a ton!  We took pictures, walked around the temple grounds (incredibly tiny), and then got to go to the Distribution Center and it was like Christmas morning!!  I got a ton of stuff for only 50,000 Guarani (about 10 dollars).  We then headed to one of the highlights of the trip... PIZZA HUT!!! They actually had Pizza hut in Asuncion!! It was awesome!!  They did some weird stuff to the pizza though.  One of them was covered in corn, another had hot dogs on it.  Someone needs to teach them how to make a pizza ha.  Overall, Asuncion was a blast!! I loved being able to see even more of the world!
Back to reality,  we had to do a ton of contacting this week trying to find new people and it was super hard.  We work hard all day but we haven't really found anyone that will progress.  This week we clapped a guys house and he let us in to talk with him.  Right as we had started to talk, his nephew showed up and it just so happens that his nephew is a Pastor for a different church.  He sat down and actually knew quite a bit about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, and then he asked if it was ok to call us "Mormons".  We said yes and that it was just a nickname.  Then he told us he didn't want to call us Mormons because he had Googled what the word "Mormon" meant and then he told us that in Chinese , Mormon means "camino al Infierno".  For those of you that don't speak Spanish this guy tried to tell us that Mormon in Chinese meant "Pathway to Hell".  I tried not to laugh at this guy.  There are some pretty interesting characters here in Paraguay!! I still got 15 months here to meet even more of them!! Bring it on!!  I hope everything is going great at home and everyone is safe. 

Mom, Dad and fam,  I hope that you are loving Powell and I am still a little bitter that I wasn't invited!!

Love you all!! 
Elder Ollerton

P.S.  If you are looking for some killer scripture study this week,  Mosiah 3 or 24 was amazing for me!!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Letter #37 July 28, 2014

Hey Everybody!!

Wow every week I feel like P-day comes faster and faster.  This week was the last of the transfer so we worked hard so we could finish strong.  Monday, I did divisions with Elder Vindas.  It was a weird change because the last time that I did divisions with him he was my Zone Leader and now the roles were reversed.  We worked hard so that we could meet as many people as possible!  We began clapping houses and a lot of people let us in.  I want to share one experience that we had together that was especially powerful.  We walked down the street and met a woman named Jorgelina who was out on her porch smoking.  Elder Vindas asked her if she was stressed and she sad yeah.  Then we asked her if we could share a message that brought relief and she brought us some chairs.  We began to talk to her and she just wouldn't open up to us.  She gave us very short answers and didn't show much emotion.  Then out of nowhere, Elder Vindas began to tell her what he felt about her.  He began to make bold statements about why she was the way she was, and what had happened in her life.  I watched in shock as my friend, filled with the spirit of the Lord, made bold observations about her.  After a minute or two,  I looked at Jorgelina and she just said "Si".   It was an amazing experience!! I learned a valuable lesson that night, that when the spirit tells you something, DO IT.  Thanks the spirit,  we were able to get to the heart of Jorgelina and she accepted a baptismal date of August 9th.  Our divisions were focused on being bold.  I love the scripture in Doctrine and Covenants 24:12 (Look it up)  Everyone of us can be more bold in bearing testimony and sharing the gospel.  This week we really focused on the Barbosa family.  The kids all had sufficient attendance so they could be baptized the only problem was their dad.  He drinks a lot and he thinks that his kids are not prepared sufficiently to be baptized.  This Saturday, after a lot of hard work, all 3 of the Barbosa kids entered the waters of baptism.  We headed out to the Barbosa´s house (around a 20 minute walk).  We had the baptism planned for around 5 and so at 4 o'clock we got to their house.  Only Maura, the 12 year old daughter, was there.  We waited until 4:45 when finally Alfredo and Carlos showed up.  After we got to the bus stop and waited for another 20 minutes, we learned that there were not any more buses from Ita Paso at that hour.  We had to call a taxi and at around 6:30pm, an hour and a half late, we had a baptism!! It was so cool to watch the look on their parents faces as their kids took this incredible step!  Their parents are still trying to get through the marriage process so that they can be baptized, but you could see the motivation in their eyes after the baptism.  There are great things ahead for this family!! Other than that,  this week was good.  There's always a lot of stories to share, but they will have to wait another 14ish months ha.

I love you all and you are in my prayers constantly!! Keep fighting and stay cute cool crazy!!
Elder Ollerton

Monday, July 7, 2014

Letter #35 July 7, 2014

Hey Everyone!!
This week was crazy!! We were running in all directions and we were drained in every sense of the word.  Tuesday we had Leadership Council in Posadas so we hopped the border once again.  It was an awesome day full of learning.  We talked all about being yourself and not trying to be any other missionary.  That is a huge problem here.  We all see missionaries that are just awesome and we try to adapt ourselves to them.  President LaPierre talked about how we weren't called to be anyone else other than ourselves.  I was called to be Elder Ollerton.  It has been a tough week trying to find out what I have taken from other missionaries and what truly is me. 
We were Posadas until Wednesday doing Leadership Council, and then paper work through Thursday.  We only had 2 days to work this week so that was also stressful.  Trying to find time to help other missionaries, and help people progress towards baptism is hard. Finding the balance between them is even more difficult, especially when I am not even in the same country.
We got out and worked hard through the rest of the week and ended up with a huge payback on Sunday.  In total we had 40 people in church, that is the most I have seen in 7 months!!!  We also had 13 investigators!! We are being so blessed here in Ita Paso.  I love the area and on top of everything it only rained once this whole week!!!  We are focusing on 8 people that we want to baptize this month and if all goes well, it will be amazing!! We have a lot of kids that love to come to church and listen to the gospel, and we love teaching them!!  We use a lot of visual aids (not just because they are young, but also because they speak a lot of Guarani) and also games to help them understand.  They always ask us when we are going to come back and when church is.  Super cool!  I am also trying to get more comfortable with all my Zone Leader responsibilities.  We have a lot more to do now.  We received a call on Saturday at around 12:30 from some Sisters in an area around 30 minutes away from ours. They told us that they needed baptismal clothes.  Their baptism was scheduled to start in an hour!!  We grabbed the clothes that we had and headed out the door to go to the bus.  Right as we got out the door, we saw the colectivo (bus) passing on the street above ours.  Elder Magdaleno yelled, "GO CATCH IT ELDER!!"  I don't know why but I just took off on a sprint!! I must have ran over 200 yards to catch this bus and I was dead beat tired when we got on.  I realized how out of shape I have gotten in a quick 9 months!!
We have been working with a lot of less active members and most of them are coming back to church.  We set a goal to become a branch within the transfer.  We are only 1 Priesthood holder shy of becoming a branch!! Keep all of us here in Ita Paso in your prayers :)  We are working hard and doing our very best to help the church progress.  The Lords hand is evident everywhere even in places that we never would expect.  We have a less active member that lives around 3 miles from our house.  We walk home every night from their house. It is very dark with little street lights anywhere.   Every night when we are about to leave, the family prays for our safety as we walk back.  Night after night we see some sketchy guys that drive by, but we are always protected.  The Lord truly knows his children and watches over us all even if we don't know it.  As I read the scriptures, I have come to realize how often the word Diligence appears in one way or another.  I know that as we are all diligent, in everything that the Lord requires of us, he will watch over and protect us.  I hope and pray that we can do everything that we can, so that the Lord can pour out all of his blessings upon us.

I love you all and hope you are all loving life!! Stay safe!!

Elder Ollerton

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Letter #34 June 23, 2014

June 23, 2014

Hey Everyone!

Well I am sitting here in Encarnacion, Paraguay and I am not even sure if I am on the same planet as before.   Things are so very different here it’s crazy!!!  We spent Monday and Tuesday of this last week to say goodbye to the people of Puerto Esperanza and it didn't take long because there weren't many members ha.  We went to say goodbye to the Bogarin Family and while we were there a HUGE lightning/thunder storm happened. The lights went out and we had our last discussion by candlelight!! So cool!!  Wednesday we left Esperanza at around 3:00am in the morning.   When we finally arrived at the terminal in Posadas, we were met by a ton of other missionaries.  We all hung out for a little until it was time to head to the office to take care of some last minute paper work before I could cross the border.  We went to the police station and took care of everything and then we headed to Paraguay!!!  It’s crazy to think I’m not even in the same country anymore.  When I arrived Elder Magdeleno (new comp who turns out is from Idaho) was there directing the missionaries.  We waited until things calmed down and then headed to my area of Ita Paso (like 25 minutes outside of Encarnacion) to drop off my bags.  We got to Ita Paso and it’s like a farm town!! As we pulled in there was a man walking down the road with his 3 cows and chickens running around everywhere!! So different!!  Our pinch is a little tiny house that only has water between the hours of 7:00 to 11:00 in the morning so we have to fill up jugs of water to use at night.  Today a fuse popped so we don't even have light anymore.  On a positive side this will be great material for my homecoming talk!  We went back to the terminal where we got on a bus with Elder Vindas and his greenie Elder Quesadas.  We got on the crappiest bus I had ever seen and headed to San Pedro to help orient the Elders to their area.  We spent the next 3 hours crammed into a nasty bus on the way to San Pedro.  When we got there, it was already dark.  Here it gets dark around 5:30pm, so it's way different than summer daylight.   We worked hard this week!! I love my new area although it is very different!!  The people here speak majority Guarani, which means now I have to learn that language.   There are actually a lot of people here that don't even speak Spanish!!  We have a ton of investigators that speak very little Spanish so I have to think of new ways to explain Gospel Principles in really simple broken down Spanish. Kind of difficult!! 

We had a super spiritual/ funny experience this week.  When we were tracting one day, we realized that we were walking without purpose.  So we stopped on a street corner for a minute to refocus, and then a blue gate just seemed to catch my eye.  We decided to go and clap at the gate. Within seconds, out came Gutierrez.  He is a 77 year old man who gladly let us in.   We sat down and got to know him a little better and he told us that he lost his wife around 4 years ago.  We talked a little more, and then talked a little about how we can see our families again after we die. We can all be together forever.  As we were talking I looked over at Gutierrez and he began to cry.  There was a strong spirit as we bore testimony that the things we were sharing were true.  Then out of nowhere he asked us if he could as us a question so we said yes.  He asked us if it was bad that a lady came over and cleaned his house/visited him.  We told him no that it wasn't bad.  But then he went on into more detail and it turns out this almost 80 year old man breaks the law of chastity a couple times a week with his maid!!! We did not see that coming at all!!!  There are so many stories that I could share but they will have to wait a couple months. ha ha.  My experiences are endless.

Thanks for everything that you all have done and continue to do for me and all the other missionaries in the world!!

Stay safe and I love you all!!
Elder Ollerton

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Letter #33 June 16, 2014

Hey Everyone!
Wow I feel like I say this all the time but the week flew by!  We had a successful week this week and Elder Vidaurre and I worked in a new part of our area and had a lot of success.  We found a lot of great people!  We found a family that really is open to what we have to say!  They have a 20 year old son named Gabriel who has shoulder length hair and who just loves sharing with us!!  His mom only believes in the Bible and told us its the only way to get answers and basically prayer doesn't work.  She also went off on a little rant on how she knows its not ok for boys to have long hair, how she shouldn't paint her fingernails or wear pants and all this stuff.  So I pulled out my pictures and showed her how my hair used to be and told her that all of those things were ok haha.  Gabriel came to church on Sunday with his 10 year old brother Ian and they loved it!!  While I was giving my talk they both  were locked in and it was awesome!!

This week was a lot harder than normal because the World Cup started and so for the next month the only religion that anyone has is soccer.  I'm starting to believe that Satan uses this as a tool.  It's absolutely nuts here!! Everytime Argentina scores a goal, there are fireworks and lots of celebrating!!  Absolute Chaos!  Kind of frustrating as well.

This week Elder Cross and I headed to Posadas to take care of my visa problems.  So I haven't really talked about this much but my visa to Argentina expired 4 months ago, so I have been illegal here for this last 4 months haha.  So Thursday we went to Posadas and I assumed we were going to take care of my problems in Argentina but we ended up at the Paraguaytian Consolate and I got a 10 year long visa to Paraguay in a couple of hours!  The Argentine government just doesn't like Americans that much.  We ended up having to leave the country for a couple hours so I didn't get deported. ha good times.  We went to Paraguay for lunch and we had Burger King!  It was the best thing I have eaten in 8 months. Sad huh?  A little taste of home was unreal!!!
Today we went and played a game called Paddle.  It's like tennis but on a smaller court and you can use the walls it was great!! Today is also difficult because I found out that after 4 months in Puerto Esperanza, I will be transferred on Wednesday,  I am headed to an area called Ita Puro.  Its in Encarnacion (Yes its ok to sing the Nacho Libre song now), Paraguay!! I will be hopping the border again ha.  I will be a Zone Leader now and my companion is Elder Magdeleno from Mexico. I am looking forward to new adventures in another country.

Stay tuned!! Love you all!!

Elder Ollerton

Monday, May 19, 2014

Letter #32 May 19, 2014

Hey Everyone!!

Another week gone here in the Puerto Esperanza.  I want to throw a quick shout out to Justin and Amarae! Congrats on the calls!! You two are going to kill it!!
This was definitely a crazy week with a lot of success.  This last Tuesday after our Zone meeting, I did divisions with one of my Zone Leaders Elder Ortiz from El Salvador.  He seemed super quiet on the phone and so I didn't really know how he would take to my personality.  Turned out he was awesome!! We got along great!!  He was looking to learn from me as well as teach me.  We had a ton of success looking in a new part of our area that I have never been to before.  It's clear out in the jungle and so its quite a walk to get there.  My only worry about this new area is that the distance will make it so nobody will come to church.  We went out there and immediately found success. We found a new family with a ton of people!!  We talked a little about the church and what we do and we left them with a pamphlet about the Plan of Salvation.   We passed by two days later, taught it, and committed all of them to be baptized!  We went by on Saturday night so we could meet their Dad and it turns out he drinks... a TON.  He couldn't even sit still he was so drunk.  He kept trying to take us off on tangents and so we ended the lesson and decided to return the next day when he was just hungover and could listen to us.  We went back the next day and he was the same!! He drank and drank and drank.  We had plans to teach about the Book of Mormon, but I decided to just cut the problem off right then.  I started to talk about the Word of Wisdom and the first thing I said was that we can´t drink alcohol.  He immediately asked me why that was bad.  I thought,  "are you kidding me??" We explained to him why we have this commandment and then he actually tried to argue with us that even Christ drank! We cut that argument down pretty fast ha.  We have decided now it would be better to teach the family when he isn't there and then teach him separately.  Pray for them please ha.  Our divisions ended up lasting for 4 days because Elder Ortiz´s companion Elder Cross got stuck in Posadas doing his document paperwork.  I was super excited for the divisions because Elder Ortiz was super cool!  We had a ton of success and I am so grateful for all the opportunities we are having to find these people!  Other than that It was a pretty normal week.
It has been really cold here lately and so I am a little sick with a cold or something but nothing big.  If you would have told me 5 months ago that it would be cold here I would have told you that you were crazy!  But it actually happened!! I admit it, I am from Utah and I can officially say that I am cold here.  Also this week I officially completed 6 months here in Argentina! Time is flying! 

I love you all and hope you all have an amazing week!!!
Elder Ollerton

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Letter #31 05-06-2014

Hey Everyone!
What a week it has been!! We started off this week by doing divisions with the Assistants.  The best birthday gift I could have received from President and Sister Lapierre.  I learned a ton and to end the day we had a huge "sleepover" with the Zone leaders and the Assistants for my birthday.  I had a blast!! This week was my last with Elder Seethaler so we just tried to have a good time while still working.  It was not easy as he gets closer and closer to seeing his family.  We saw so many miracles and one of them was one I will never forget.  We have recently discovered a gold mine of prepared people living in the Old Folks home.  This is all thanks to our buddy Carlos.  One day he called us over and talked to us.  We ended up talking with a ton of people from the Home and we visit them frequently.  While in our divisions on Tuesday, I talked with Carlos with one of the Assistants Elder Silva.  Elder Silva is the one responsible for the opening of this area so he knew Carlos already.  We had an awesome lesson and Carlos told us that he wanted to be baptized and Elder Silva told him he could on the 31st of this month.  My comp was very mad because he wanted to see Carlos get baptized.  So we went back the next day and started to talk with him, and Carlos told us that he had attended 80 churches and he knew that this was the right one.  He also told us that he had a desire to be baptized this weekend!! So we called our leaders and asked and the next day they were in our area doing a baptismal interview.  He passed and we are so excited for him!! He is 71 years old, and can barely walk, but the faith that this man has is absolutely incredible!  We planned everything out and decided to do the baptism combined with the baptism of the Bogardins daughter Laura who turned 8 this week.  We got to the Home early so that he could get ready and we could help him to the terminal at his own pace.  We ended up just jumping in a taxi and heading off!  We finally got to El Dorado and then had to walk to another bus stop, the whole time with this little old mans hand tightly in mine so he didn't fall.  We walked slowly and eventually made it to the chapel.  We got everyone changed and had a great service!!  We ended up having to baptize Carlos 3 times because his frail little body kept floating up.  The 3rd time we had 3 people in the font to help him.  He left the font with the biggest smile and I could tell that he understood.   He knew and felt what he had just done was right.  It was such a cool experience to see someone who was barely 8 and someone who probably doesn't have that much time left here in this earthly state, enter the waters of Baptism and make the same covenants with our Heavenly Father.  We walked back to the bus stop slowly, and we waited for the bus there.  As we waited I walked over to Carlos and asked him if his feet hurt, he told me yes.  Then he said something that touched my heart so strongly.  In his soft, weak voice he said "They hurt, but I came and did what Heavenly Father wanted me to do, and it was worth the pain."  I was almost brought to tears as this little old man bore a powerful testimony to me in 1 sentence.  There were so many miracles this week and I cant wait to share them with all of you later.  I know this Gospel is true, and that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ truly are leading and guiding us today.  I hope you all have a great week and an awesome Mothers day! Thank you for all the birthday wishes this past week and for your continued prayers and support!!

Love you all!!
Elder Ollerton

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Letter #30 April 28, 2014

April 28, 2014

Hey Everyone!

Another quick week has come and gone here in good old Puerto Esperanza. This week I have truly felt the Lord helping me in everyway!! With now only 1 week left in his mission, all my comp wants to do is stay in bed.  I LITERALLY have to drag him out of bed every morning.  It takes a lot out of me to ignore his little comments and try and keep the spirit with me.  I have learned more these last 3 months with him than I did my first 2 transfers in the field.  My patience and relationship with my Heavenly Father have grown and been strengthened so much even though the experiences that have helped that happen were extremely difficult! This week we have been really focusing our efforts on the people that are going to progress.  We have found recently quite a few awesome families that I really see progressing!! It’s a weird experience but this week I have been trying to look past how people are, like their difficulties and short comings, and I have learned to see them for who they could be, or how our Heavenly Father sees them.    It really has helped me stay focused in lessons better and listen to what they are saying.  I am sad to say it took so long but I have started to realize the significance of calling everyone here Brother or Sister. They are all lost sons and daughters of Heavenly Father and I kind of feel like a shepherd.  I have started to walk a little taller in the streets as I come to truly understand what the calling of "Missionary" is all about!  This last Tuesday we had a Zone Conference, and President Lapierre was there doing interviews.  My comp and I were the last ones to go so I had a lot of time to sit and think about what needed to be said.  My comp went in to his interview first which left just Sister Lapierre and I to talk.  And the first thing she does is look at me and say, "Do you want to talk about it?" She could tell that I was being put through a rough time so we sat and talked just her and I for 45 minutes before my interview! It was awesome! Minutes later I went in and talked to President Lapierre. He told me so many awesome things.  He said "Elder, these next two weeks might be the hardest of your entire life, but they will probably earn you a place in the Celestial Kingdom." ha I love that guy!!  We then talked about my comps recent Bible bashing spree.  He told me "If he does it again, walk away. I give you my permission to leave your companion.  Go back to the Pension and call me and I will send him home a week early!"  He told me that at this point, we are basically doing damage control. He then thanked me for my work with my comp and told me how proud he is of me. Then he told me that I have done so good with him that he might just let me pick my next companion. haha.  I am so grateful to have a President like him.  
This week we worked more with Cintia and her husband (whose name we still don’t know. ha), we went on Tuesday and they told us that they had goggled "Mormons".  Immediately I was like, “Oh know what did they read?”.  They had a TON of questions about everything, especially Joseph Smith.  We taught them the first vision and when we asked them how they felt, Cintia said, "I feel peace and happy."  But her husband said something different that surprised me.  He said, "I don’t." I was like, Oh KNOW! Then he said, "I feel an emotion,  like something burning inside me." He got a little teary eyed and we just sat in silence.  We just let the moment happen.  Then after, we explained to them what the Holy Ghost is.  It was an AWESOME lesson!!  So much faith in them!

Also this week we passed by the old folks home to visit Carlos. Randomly people started coming up to us and talking about the church! They all had attended years and years before!! Turns out the Old Folks home is a Gold mine for baptisms. ha. Who would have thought!!
This week I heard a great quote from Elder Jeffery R. Holland, he says "When suffering, we may in fact be nearer to God than we’ve ever been in our entire lives. That knowledge can turn every such situation into a would-be temple. Regarding our earthly journey, the Lord has promised, “I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up” That is an everlasting declaration of God’s love and care for us, including—and perhaps especially—in times of trouble."
I have a personal testimony that the Lord lives and loves each and every one of us individually and personally, and sometimes it is only through our trials and pains that we can come to know this for ourselves.  I love you all with all of my heart, and appreciate all the birthday wishes and support!!

Stay safe!
Elder Easton Ryan

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Letter #29 - April 21, 2014

April 21, 2014

Hey Everyone!
I hope everyone had a great Easter Sunday! Easter here was pretty good and it was awesome to be able to go around and share a message about our Savior with everyone here!  Being in a small group of the church here provides the unique opportunity to give a talk and teach Sunday school every week.  We got to teach a lesson about the Atonement yesterday and it was great.   Everyone there participated and I felt the Spirit strong.  The opportunity to give Sacrament talks every week has really been helping my teaching ability.  I find myself taking initiative more in lessons and I understand everything.  I have been so blessed here.  This week I went on divisions with my Zone Leader Elder Vindas.  I went up to Puerto Iguazu and worked with him for the day.  He told me they have been worried about me because I have not been as animated as usual.  Truth be told, these past couple weeks have been difficult.  It has been hard to be upbeat and I haven’t had a ton of energy to do anything. I’m feeling better but little illnesses take my energy.  That and the companion situation was difficult.  Elder Vindas did his best to animate me, and after around 3 lessons, I felt rejuvenated for the first time in a while.  We ended up teaching 11 lessons in a little more than 8 hours.  Pretty good for the area we are in!!  It rained a ton again and so we worked all day in around 8 inches of mud!  Not my favorite thing in the world ha ha.  Elder Vindas did tell me that he thinks I speak fluently though which made me pretty happy, and I gave myself a little pat on the back.  Last night we got home from working and I don’t even remember what he said but my comp made some remark and I finally, after 10 long weeks, blew my top.  We got in an argument and I felt really bad this morning.  I prayed for help that the anger would be taken away from me and that we would be able to work past it.  After my personal study I felt a lot better and we talked things out.  
We found a lot of new families this week and they all look super promising which is super exciting!!!  I have found a new drive to work hard which although sometimes is difficult because I am so tired, has made me enjoy my mission more!! Crazy how fast time is flying by and I am so grateful for the new love to work the Lord has helped me find.  I am super excited for all the success that I know will come with hard work and obedience.  We are facing big opposition but I know with hard work and your continued support and prayers, we can do it and the work will go forth strong here!!

Thanks for everything, and I love you all!!!
Don’t forget to write!! I’d love to hear from you all.

Elder Ollerton

Monday, April 14, 2014

Letter #28 - April 15, 2014

Hey Everyone!

This past week my 6 month mark came and went!! Crazy how fast the first quarter of my mission has gone by!!  It really is true what they say that time out here starts to fly!! I have new resolve to work hard and really give these next 18 months everything that I have!  This week was probably one of the slowest in my mission!! We had a lot of opposition and it was almost like we were working in a new area.  For the first time in 2 months here, we got rejected a ton!!  We were both really confused! We had an investigator who we had been working with and she had a baptismal date for this last Saturday and all of a sudden she just didn't want to listen to us anymore! Super confusing!  We went to a part of our area that we hadn't really ever been to and found quite a few new people to teach but I´m still not sure if any of them will progress or not.  My companion and I had a few more little arguments this week but nothing big.  I have decided that I am just going to try and help him enjoy his last 3 weeks as a missionary and try to keep everything really calm and fun.  We had a lot of fun on Wednesday as it was my actual 6 month mark.  Here as a missionary, every 6 month milestone (ie. 6 months, 1 year, 18 months, 2 years), you do something fun.  For example, at 6 months you burn a tie, and eat a 1/4 kilo of Ice cream.  At a year you burn a shirt, and eat 1/2 a kilo of Ice cream.  18 months you burn a pair of slacks, and eat 3/4 of a kilo, and 2 years you burn a suit, and eat a kilo of Ice cream.  It's super fun and I finally feel like I have gotten my feet wet with the whole Mission thing.  We have our investigator with a new baptismal date for this next Saturday and she is so ready!! She just has to stay strong and stay single ha ha.  We passed by last night and had an awesome lesson with her!!  This week we had a change in our mission schedule to accommodate the change of weather! Surprisingly it is actually pretty chilly here now and I think I may have caught a cold.  But as for the schedule it is a hard adjustment!  We now study in the morning, and then work from 1:30 in the afternoon, until 9:30 at night!! The days are long but we are adjusting. It has been a long couple of nights these past 4 days.  I have been up with cold like symptoms and my comp snores like a bear.  Sometimes I throw things on the ground hoping he will wake up and think something just fell.  Or sometimes I smack my hand on the wall to try and wake him up so the snoring stops but nothing ever works!! ha ha.  That's pretty much it for this week! Hope everything is well at home and everyone is just loving life!!

I love you all!!
Elder Ollerton

Letter #27 April 07, 2014

Hello once again from this little section of the Lord´s vineyard!
I hope everyone had a great week and just loved General Conference!  My companion and I got to go to Posadas this week to watch Conference in English.  Although I´m sure I could understand it in Spanish, there is something different about listening to the actual voice of the Prophet and other General Authorities!! We left Friday afternoon and spent time there before leaving Sunday night.  I'm a little ashamed to say that it was the first time I had actually sat through and taken notes on every single talk.  It truly was a spiritual feast!!  Every talk just seemed to have something even if it was small that I needed to hear!!! It was an unbelievable weekend!!  I especially loved Elder Hollands talk (as always) about defending our faith. Being a missionary I felt like I had a different perspective on the story.  As a missionary there are always going to be people or instances that will try my patience.  But this week it hit me that I really am in a set apart servant of the Lord Jesus Christ, and I really can endure any trial with patience.  But at the same time I loved what he said when he said "Endure every trial with courage and courtesy, but Defend the Faith.¨ As members of this church we have the responsibility and it is something that I hope we can always remember!
  Anyways,  we didn't have to go to Posadas, but this week during scripture study I was especially down and I decided to give President Lapierre a call.  We talked for no more than 5 minutes and he told me to go ahead and come in to Posadas.  Saturday morning before conference I sat down with him and we had an hour long interview.  I told him about everything that I was experiencing and why I needed the interview.  I told him all about my companionship problems and he really is an inspired man.  He knew exactly what to say to put my mind at ease.  He told me how proud he was of me and that he knew that I was the Elder that Elder Seethaler needed to help him finish strong!! I felt a new drive to work hard and help the work of Salvation move forward!!  We had a pretty normal week other than our Posadas trip.  I can truly see the hand of the Lord working here in Puerto Esperanza and I am so happy to be a part of it!! 
I love you all and I will see you all in a short 18 months!!  Crazy how fast 6 months has gone!! 
Elder Ollerton

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Letter #26 - March 25, 2014

March 25, 2014

Hey Everyone!

Sorry for the delay in the letter this week, the internet in the jungle is a bit fritzy!  We had a pretty crazy week here.  Transfers came on Monday and for once I will be staying in an area for more than 6 weeks!! Super excited to keep working here in this area and help our investigators continue to progress!  This week we decided to really crack down and think about which investigators are going to progress and which ones we needed to drop.  Its never easy to drop investigators and at times I forget that its not giving up on them, it’s just realizing that maybe you aren’t the missionary for them, or maybe now isn’t the time.  We ended up dropping a lot of people who just weren’t progressing and we have really focused on those people that are moving forward!  We taught a lot with members this week, which was great!  We had one crazy experience that I want to share that I know I will never forget!  We went back to teach the family with the deaf and mute son.  His dad is a quadriplegic and he is to the point now where it is hard to move his head to.  He has almost no movement.  We went to his house and we went inside to give him a blessing.  In this blessing my companion gave this man a "commandment to walk".  When I heard him say that I immediately thought "WHAT DID HE JUST SAY??"  He finished the blessing and I was praying for the faith I knew I would need to help this man walk, who had been a quadriplegic for years.  His family put on his neck brace and we slowly lifted the man out of his chair.  We lifted him up and .... nothing.  We waited for a little and then... nothing.  We sat him back down and I immediately felt like my lack of faith had ruined this experience.  Then I realized that I am a called representative of Jesus Christ, and if it is his will that this man walk, he will walk.  The deaf mute son walked over and pointed to his dad’s legs and we all watched in amazement as this man moved his legs all around like a giant Latin version of Gene Kelly!!!!  He didn’t raise himself up out of his chair but I didn’t care.  I had witnessed a miracle from God and I couldn’t believe my eyes!!  We ended up giving 4 blessings and I gave my first blessing in Spanish!! I was pretty nervous but it was just a simple thing some one had asked me to do.  Such an awesome experience!  We did divisions yesterday with our Zone leaders and Elder Vindas (Costa Rican) and I went to El Dorado to do some baptismal interviews!  On our way back we stopped in on one of our investigators who we hadn’t been able to find for the past week or so.  We talked with her about how she felt about the church and then asked her about baptism.  She told us that she wanted to be baptized but in a couple more weeks.  I started to talk to her about how in order to receive the blessings from God, he requires us to take a step of faith.  She really seemed to understand in that moment that this was something she needs to do.  Long story short, we are having another baptismal service on Saturday!!! So excited for this area!!! There were so many great experiences this week but to many to write in 1 letter.  So excited to see what the future holds!! Crazy to think that 2 weeks from now I hit 6 months!! Time is flying!!

I love you all and I cant wait to talk to you next week!! You’re the best!! 

Elder Ollerton

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Letter #25 March 17, 2014

Hey Everyone!!
The miracles keep coming here in our little corner of the Lord´s vineyard and little miracles are very evident in our daily lives here in Argentina.  We had a very short week this week because we had a mission conference on Wednesday.  Tuesday night we set off for Posadas which normally is around a 5 hour bus ride, but it took us 6.5 hours because all over the province of Misiones, teachers are on strike for heaven knows why!!  We got stuck in an hour and a half delay in order to watch a protest pass by.  Nothing to exciting. 
We got to listen to Elder Zeballos who is the first counselor in our area presidency.  He and his wife were awesome speakers!!!  They talked about so many different things, and at the same time they tied everything back to our purpose as missionaries!! I learned so much! It was so good to see all of my old friends and just catch up a little.  We had the entire Argentina side of our mission there, around 80 missionaries!!  It was a great conference and a nice little boost to the week.  We got back late Wednesday night and only had 2 full days of work this week!! That being said, we still taught over 25 lessons and I have no idea how we pulled that off.  The Lord is blessing us so much. The church is growing super fast!! 
We had another really cool experience this week.  We had just gotten out of a lesson in a part of our area I had never been and so we were kind of lost!  We took a road that we had just hoped would cut across a field and guide us to where we needed to go.  We ended up getting lost and at the end of this dead end street we passed a house with 3 women sitting outside.  We went and asked them how to get to the main road.  Turns out they speak very little Spanish and Guarani is what they speak fluently. My companion served in Paraguay for many months and so we communicated a little bit.  The thing that they ended up noticing was our name tags.  They recognized the name Jesu Cristo on our name tags and before we knew it we were taken inside and into a small back room.  There on the bed was a man who looked like he was around 70 years old and from his head to his fingers he was as skinny a person as I had ever seen.  From his stomach down to his toes, he was very very swollen.  Something was very wrong.  He was to weak to even lift his head off the pillow.  He told us he had been like this for 10 hours and he knew that we had been sent from God to help him.  They asked us to pray and so we gave him a blessing!  The Spirit was so evident. After we finished they immediately invited us back for another visit.  I really learned how important it is for all of us to be ready to serve because we never know when the Lord will put us in someones path who needs our help.  Also this past Saturday we had 2 more baptisms.  They were the 2 kids that had the super anti-Lds family.  This last Thursday we went to their house and had a great talk about Baptism again.  Their mom agreed that we could do it, as long as we could keep it a secret so that we didn't have a ton of drama! So that's what we did. ha ha We baptized them on Saturday and it was a great service!! We have received so many blessings and it's impossible to write all of them in a letter!!!
We have a lot to talk about in 19 months. haha.

I love you all and pray for you daily!! Love you and God bless :)

Elder Ollerton