Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas with Fireworks

Dear Family,

It was great to talk to you all!  I AM NOT TRUNKY!  I just have noticed that I only have one more phone call left until we talk for reals.  

We celebrated Christmas with the Lovera family, and we ate pig with potatoes, and fruit salad!  I love me some fruit salad.  They cut up a ton of fruit into little tiny squares and then make some juice and mix the two.  So it is like a fruit juice with fruit in it.  

We are working a lot with the less active families in the ward and it has been a little different than what I have done in the past.  The situations these families are in, and the reasons why they left is a big barrel of angry monkeys, and it will be a miracle to see them become active again.... Good thing God is good at those. (laugh with old lady shoulder shrugs)  Ask Aaron to show you what it is.

I don't know if you remember my letter last year, but Christmas in Paraguay is different.  Everyone drinks and lights off fireworks.  Its like the 4th of July.  I didn't sleep due to the neighbors and neither did my companion.  Plus the fact that we don't have A/C didn't help either.  I don't use anything to cover me while I sleep.  The fan is right by my face all night.  Its as hot as satan's womb.  The A/C will be coming this week though I think.

We painted a neighbors house this morning and come to find out her mom and sister are members! She wasn't too excited to talk to us though, for some reason, but we will see how the cookie crumbles.
We are still working hard looking for those people ready to accept the gospel who are willing to make and keep commitments.  

Some people you can pray for, if you want, are the 

Aquino Family, Pereira Family, and the Rojas Family.

Thanks for all being there for the Skype call!  I Found Elder Boyer and we reminisced about his and my grandparents being buds.  It was funny.  

I hope all is well at home!  

Elder Neifert

Christmas Package

I got the Christmas Package!!!!!!!!!!!  THANK YOU!  I was in need of some sunflower seeds.  I liked all of the notes as well...they made my day.  My companion was super happy as well and he says thanks.  I didn't know how much I missed the smell of the United States until I opened that box.  It was good.  

You guys have great testimonies! Thank you for sharing them!  I am very proud to have a family who love the gospel and know where they are going!

I am going to skype you guys on Christmas day at 5 o clock Paraguayan time.  But the thing is that I know that every other missionary is going to be wanting to skype their families, and it will be crazy, so just be aware around 5 o clock my time... if we have trouble I will email.  

I do want to transfer to Provo.  Pass me that paperwork and I will do it.  I might as well apply right?

I don't need anything. My comp is fine as well.  He buys chocolate bars everyday.

Thanks for the debit card stuff...its not that I need it to eat or anything, but I just wanted it just in case.  THANK YOU!  And I will keep my eyes and nose out for a package from Grandma.

This week was a good one.  Its always a lot easier to get into houses when we say we want to share a Christmas message!  Funny, though, that not too many people showed up at church.  It just made me think about that scripture in James that says "Thou hast faith, and I have works, show me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works."  BAAHUMMBUG.  It was a little bit of a downer.  But talking with you guys will be happy.  We found a lot more less active families to teach, and I think we are settling in and gaining more confidence with the members!  Did you guys have the ward Christmas party? 

I had a cool experience with a family we talked with.  They said that religion was just a big mess and to choose a church is asking for trouble.  The daughter in particular, who studies medicine, was all against organized religion and said that baptism has no real significance.  She felt that living a good life and being kind to others was enough. So I was in a little bit of a stuper...thinking about whether to teach the doctrine of repentance and baptism first, or the restoration.  So I chose the doctrine first, and I shared a few scriptures about why we need repentance and baptism to be clean and ready to enter into God's kingdom. It's all thanks to Christ. The daughter was still doubtful, and so I thought more and then it hit me.  'Hey, baptism is like marriage!'  You might like someone a lot and change the way you live for them, but they aren't yours forever until you make a promise. It's the promise that adds in the trust and confidence that brings the fruits of peace of mind and a security that no other thing can do.  That's why baptism is required and why it is important. Well a part of why.  And she understood a little better.  We testified of the restoration and left commitments to come to church and read and pray. They didn't we'll go back Thursday.  That is when I know the spirit is in a lesson.  When I or my companion say something that teaches not only the investigator but me as well.

I cant wait to talk on Christmas at 5 o clock Paraguay time!

Here is a pic of Elder Haworth and I.

Elder Neifert

Monday, December 16, 2013

Faithfulness and a New Hat

Dear Family!,

This week was a good one!  Elder Haworth (Hayworth) and I are working hard trying to find people to teach who are willing to keep commitments.  We did a lot of exploring this week and we found a few cool people.  We were walking on a jungle path in the middle of nowhere and an old guy popped out of the forest.  He had one eye and was a drunk. We tried talking to him, but he couldn't hear very well and was convinced that all men have seven spirits within.  The monkey spirit, cat spirit, parrot spirit..... and I cant remember the rest.  So we weren't able to get very far with him, but I noticed he had a really old cool hat.  So I traded him my normal straw hat, for a sweet gray old hat that is made up more of stitching and repairs than the original hat material.  I will send a pic.  

We did finally get a less active family at church, and it was great to finally see them taking the sacrament.  Also, I am pretty sure I gave the worst talk of my life.  The guy asked me 3 min. before I needed to speak and gave me the topic of ¨laws of the land¨.  I don't know to much about that topic I found out and I rambled about the need for good leaders and a smart law knowing people to protect agency and freedom.  And then I told them the story about how you (mom) called the police on dad to pay the fine for killing a deer without the tag.  They thought that was funny.  People here don't know what deer are, even if I say the word deer (alce), they don't know it.  So I said, "It's the animal that pulls Santa Clause" and they understood!  Any way I got a big slice of humble pie and I felt betrayed and embarrassed that I didn't speak too well.  But its just a friendly reminder that I'm not a perfect teacher and that there is a lot of room for improvement.

A spiritual experience we had was....,

We taught a guy who had been inactive for a while and had his reasons all in a line ready to use for excuses to bash on the church/ leaders.  He also has a 9 year old daughter who needs to be baptized.  He is a lot bigger than I am, and his personality is pretty strong and stubborn.  So we got into the lesson, and we wanted to teach about the importance of the Book of Mormon in our conversion to Christ and in knowing eternal truths.   2 minutes in, he started in about his reasons for leaving and talked for about 15 min, negatively about the church.  I am a pretty easygoing guy I think, and it is tough for me to tell people they are flat out wrong.  So I prayed asking for the right words so that we wouldn't get into a brouhaha and that he would feel the spirit.  So when he was done, I felt inspired to talk about love, and ways to express it.  So I asked him, what is the best way to express our love to the Savior.  And it came down to Faithfulness.  That is when we began talking about his baptismal covenants when he promised to be faithful in obeying the commandments.   And then came the question, "if you were to die and stand in front of Christ in this very moment, could you tell him, i have been faithful in keeping all of your commandments?" ( and then the spirit was there and I got chills)  He thought about that for a few seconds, and then came the reply. "No, I cant say that I have." We set, and he accepted, goals for him to begin keeping the commandments and to talk to the Branch President so that he can take the sacrament and, from there, be worthy to baptize his daughter.

It was pretty intense and I know that the spirit was there to help a child of God get pointed in the right direction.  I am super happy as well that he didn't try to chew us out or ramble the whole night on problems of the past.  That kind of thing where the spirit just brings just the right words has happened time and time again, and I am humbled and blessed to be one of the many lucky instruments in the hands of the Lord.   There is not a more safe and happy feeling in the world.

To the Maryland heights ward... I guess you could share that message I just wrote. And that I love them.

I haven't got a package yet.  And the card still won't work.  Is it an international visa?  I talked with a few banks and they don't know anything.  They said if it doesn't work,  it doesn't work. ( hey that solved everything! )  

We are planning to skype on Christmas day at about 5 o clock Paraguay time.  Is that okay?  I will still write next Mon,  so let me know.  Who will be there?  I don't know if you guys want to try the skype with everyone?  

I love you guys and cant wait to skype!

Elder Neifert 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Virgin's Birthday

This week was an interesting one. It was the birthday of the virgin of Caucupe yesterday!  Right now we are living on the back half of a big house.  In the front lives an extremely catholic family.  We came home from church to study and found a ginormous blow up bouncy house/slide in front of our house with about 80 people standing or sitting around, so forgetting it was the virgin day, I thought it must be someones birthday!  So I shook some hands and we went into the house to study.  Then the children laughing and yelling stopped. The music stopped. And we started hearing a preacher preaching from a microphone about how lovely and important the virgin is and was.  And then it hit me... we were trapped.  For about 3 hours they stood outside our house and worshiped the virgin statue situated by our front door.  We didn't know what to do!  So we studied about how to respond to someone who wants to pray to the virgin. 

Also we found an awesome guy that works with leather.  Crocodile and capybara (large rodent) and anaconda skins.  So if you guys want some anaconda shoes or a crocodile vest, I can hook you guys up.  I asked him about the vest and he said it would take at least 7 crocodiles.  But really, he does have cool belts and wallets for about 15 bucks if you would like. 

We are still exploring around and finding more and more people to teach.  It was tough this week because all of our catholic investigators got roped in by the virgin's birthday and forgot about us... but well go back in a week or two. 

We had some great lessons with in-actives and I am sure we will see them at church next Sunday.  Elder Haworth is doing well and his Spanish is getting better!  He is a fun companion. 
To answer the question,  "what do we eat?"  We a lot of times have to cook for ourselves because we don't have active members in the area.  Paraguayan food is a lot of rice, noodles, cooking oil and meat.
I think we will be skyping on Christmas eve, but the computer place is only open on Christmas eve until 12 in the afternoon.  So it will be early in the morning for you guys.  But I will look around this week and ask to figure out computer times and locations and stuff and write next week! 
Elder Neifert

Lots of Pictures!!

Looks like you guys had a good little hikey-poo up that mountain. (His mom, dad and younger siblings went to Colorado to visit one of his older sisters. While there, they went to Pikes Peak.) I bet it was fun to see all of the wilderness and tame her with the Tahoe.
This week has been a crazy one. It rained a lot and we moved out of our area into a house with 2 other elders and so we have been doing a lot of walking as well. It takes about 40 min to walk into and 40 more min to walk out of our area every day. Elder Haworth has got some gnarly blisters on his feet and we have been living out of our suitcases waiting for the word to go back to our house in our area. We've just been exploring around our area looking for people to teach and old less actives. It is a really fun search. We often pretend like we are hunting people, because they just live in the middle of the jungle, so we stop and look for people tracks trying to decipher which way people live.
There was a crazy storm that passed through that wiped out the power and water for about a day, but it came back on.
Elder Haworth is working on the Spanish and I am doing my best to help. He has a lot of stories about stuff, and I wish I could record them to let you guys hear.
to explain a few pictures that I sent earlier...
the dog is "the devil".  He hates us.

 The horse is just a random horse.
Just about every day for lunch we would go to a place called Yasy (yaaaasoooooo) �and these ladies would give me banana cake that made me go bananas. hmhmmhmhm. I would talk to them everyday and I invited them to church about 4 times. They said for my birthday they will buy me a banana cake.
I forgot about the other pics, but if you guys have questions let me know.

We have a few families that I think might progress, and I am really hoping to baptize with Elder Haworth.
I hope all is well with the Neifert clan!
Elder Neifert

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Leaving Concepciòn

Dear Famalama,

Well I took my last long collectivo (bus) ride from Concepciòn, and I did not sleep that well because I was soaking wet.

The night we had to be at the terminal it poured a ton and I helped the sisters with their luggage, and I got soaked.

It was super sad to say goodbye to the Valdez family.  I showed up at their house Monday to do a Family Home Evening and the Dad taught about diversity and seeing others how God sees them.  At the end I told them I was going to leave the next day, and they started to cry..... I didn't think that I could ever love someone as much as my own family (you guys) but this family showed me what charity and love really are.  I bawled like a baby and so did my companion,  I bore my testimony about the Temple and the importance of family prayer and scripture study in making it there.  I was really sad.  I am still going to stay in contact with that family for the rest of my life. 

My companion is Elder Haworth from a small town near Las Vegas.  He is super funny.  The first thing he tells me is that he has an allergic reaction to metal and it makes his skin break out, while he shows me where his glasses touch his skin.  He worked for the government and knows everything to know about trucks and trains.  And anime. 

We are still just exploring (because we are white washing) around Cañada Gaday and it is pretty jungly.  Come to find out... we have 0 active members in our area!  Wooo... so the only way to go is up.  There is no way we can hurt the branch.  Our area is ginormous as well. We could walk around for about 4 hours in one direction and not get to the end of the boundaries. 

I hope all is well at home and I will send pics next time!

Love, Elder Neifert

Elder Christofferson and Transfers

Well old father Neifert who has become another historical site in Concepción is moving away!

I have been in sweet Concepcion for over 7 months now and I have been called to walk another path.  I am still going to be a Zone Leader but in Cañada Gady, Luque.  Which is right next door to Yukury!  It will be cool to go back and visit old converts and stomp the old stomping grounds.  I am also training again,  so I will let you guys know how my new companion is next week.  

Elder Hatfield is staying and he is going to be an awesome missionary.  We'll be making some pumpkin cookies his mom sent as a goodbye father and son moment, and then I will take my last 7 and a half hour bus ride to Asuncion!  

Elder Christofferson was amazing!  He told jokes for about half the time he talked.  We also got to shake his hand, and guess what??  He said our last name wrong......And so I corrected him!  He said, "elder neefert."  and I said, " no, its Neifert." and he said, "It's good to meet you, Elder Neifert" and I said, "Igualmente." 

I came really close to not saying anything and letting it slide.  But I would have regreted not defending the Neifert clan, and so I did it.  I am sure old Neiferts from all ages cheered.  

He talked a lot about justice and mercy using Alma 42: 22-25.  It was sweet, because I had been studying that the week before!  There was no question that he is a true prophet of God, from the spirit and power that was felt as he talked.  He also talked about the need for a consistent study of the scriptures, which would bless our mission experience and investigators more than we thought possible.

Elder Hatfield bought a buzzer to cut hair.  So we buzzed our heads together.  

What I did not take into account was that the normal number 5 that I used at home... is not the same in the Paraguayan metric system.  So right now my head is being sunburned by the sun.  You can probably tell in the pics.  It was pretty funny because I started with a lot of excitement and then i put the buzzer up the side of my head and it turned to humility.  so we highfived it out and elder hatfield being the nice guy he is made the same mistake.

Also here are a few pics that i got from a few people and families i taught! i got sarounded by ladies in a few and being a missionary I had no place to put my hands.  

I love You guys, GO cougars, may they give their flesh to the fowls of the air and the beasts of the field, so that all may know wickedness never was happiness.  

Elder Neifert

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Fourth Missionary

Hola Familia Neifert,

HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD!!! I hope you had some good pie!  

It is really weird when I think about home, its super cold and the leaves are almost gone and then here its getting hotter and hotter.   

This week I read a really awesome talk called "The Fourth Missionary"  and it really changed the way I taught and looked at my purpose as a missionary.  I don't know if you guys can find it but that would be an awesome talk to read for anyone going on a mission.  I think the main thing I took from it is that the only way that we can reap the fruits of being a missionary is if your heart is in it completely.  You can't learn anything if you don't give your heart into the work because otherwise everything you do will be biting a bullet because you would rather be somewhere else.  If we give our heart over to God, he gives us new desires, a new purpose, a new driving force that over time changes us into a completely new person whose will becomes alined with the fathers.

So I tried focusing on giving all I had to the Lord and his work and placing my will to the side and taking up His will.
Elder Cristofferson is coming tommorow!!!!!!!!!!  I am super excited to see what he will talk about!  I will for sure write about it next week!
Our investigators are slowly progressing... mainly because some cannot read, but we are getting some cd´s of the Book of Mormon, that I think will help a ton.
We found some great people to teach and I am excited to see what kind of questions or doubts they have for the next lesson! 
The zone conference went well,  Elder McSwain and I found some Paraguayan kids to do a demonstration of how to teach the apostasy and dispensations.  They both had about 11 years (11 years old), so being in front of about 36 elders and the mission president, they were scared and shocked to the core.  It was super tough to teach them, but it turned out well I think. 
The branch here in Concepcion is growing, and we will be planing out a Christmas activity to bring the spirit especially for all of the menos activos (less actives)

After that ward blitz in Nuevo Asuncion, we had a lot of people who wanted to hear more and so we spent a ton of time out there this week.  Nuevo Asuncion is in the middle of nowhere and a lot of the people don't speak Catellano (Espanol) only Guarani.  There isn't anything there but really poorly made houses and farm animals + waste canals.  We met a ton of people who wanted to know more about our church and a couple who just wanted to be baptized on the spot without knowing why or what role baptism even plays in salvation.  We did a lot of explaining and inviting and invited about 30 people to church!  Its amazing how many people had been prepared for us and wanted to hear and learn more about the gospel.  We also have a ton of in-actives out there and we spent a lot of time trying to get them to church.  

We also found a couple of people who are super prepared to receive the gospel and we had some incredible lessons with both of them.  One guys name is Hugo and he is really curious about the Bible and the Book of Mormon and had some really deep questions about God and His plan for us.  We talked for a while and he expressed how the only people that he would trust to really guide him to know Gods will is a prophet of God!   I almost jumped the gun I was so excited I was going to just yell out "THERE IS A PROPHET AND HE IS CALLED OF GOD TO DO THAT!!!",  but I held it in and started talking about prophets of old and who a prophet is and does shared scriptures like Amos 3:7 and others from the Book of Mormon. We shared about the first vision and he said he would read and pray to ask God if it was true.  

We also found a whole family who all really want to know more and we taught them on Saturday about what the restored gospel of Jesus Christ means for us and left her a Plan of Salvation pamphlet.  She read the whole thing and came to church the next day with her son Alejandro.  She came with a ton of questions and we answered some and then taught her more about how she can receive answers for herself through the scriptures and prayer. She can receive a testimony of whats true through the guidance of the Holy Ghost.  We went to sacrament meeting expecting some sweet talks and surprise surprise.  It was the primary program that day.  It was nuts and kids were running around and crying all over the place.  She said she had a good experience though.  Hopefully we can have a great lesson this week and she'll come to church.

We were helping a member move some bricks around in here back yard when a big storm hit and her house was completely under the water.  So I dug a canal in her back yard with an old guy who came to help.

There was a cool tortoise that a lady found in the street, so we took pics with it.

we contacted a house while they were cutting the dogs hair, and ELder hatfield took some pics,  it was a funny lesson.

That family is a family I have been working with for about 5 or 6 months and finally came to church!

I love you guys!!!! 

Elder Neifert