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