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!!