Monday, October 25, 2010

Luke and Elder Ulises Villalba (from Benjamine Aceval, Paraguay)

Luke and Elder McKee (from Vernon, Utah)

October 25, 2010

Hola Familia,
Well I was reading your letter. Thanks. I could really tell that I had to be With Élder McKee. I think I was put with him for a reason. I did all I could to help him and to support him. I'm sure the wording that I am using and the tenses that I am using sound a little weird but Élder McKee left on Wednesday, and on Friday I left Mburucuya. That area is now the area for the Assistants. I left right after my time with him. I learned so much in those 2 weeks there. He became a real good friend. The doctors don't know what is wrong so they sent him to the States. But one night we finished companionship prayer and we just started talking and came to the conclusion that the Lord needs him somewhere else and it’s true the way of thinking for the Lord is a lot different than the way of our thinking. During the time that I was helping him I was on the phone a whole bunch with President and Hermana Madariaga during those 2 weeks and one time President Madariaga was thanking me for what I was doing and he was really sincere in what he said. Then the night that we got changes I called Hermana Madariaga thanking her and talking about the fact that I was put in Mburucuya for a reason that we could really understand. My testimony has really been growing lately from the experiences that I have been having.
But like I did say I am no longer in Mburucuya and you probably want to know where I went, right? Well it was nice to be close to the office. One time you mentioned something, while I was in Emboscada, like ¨Its so nice that you are so close to Asuncion, but I guess one change could change that right?¨ Now I am here to say Yup! It was really nice to be close to Asuncion. Right now I am in a city called Concepción. If you can find it on the map, it is a little further away than all my other areas. I got here Friday night after an 8- hour bus ride!!!! So looks like I will be experiencing a different part of Paraguay. The Paraguay River is in my area, the big river that runs through Paraguay. But something cool is that Élder Jolley, my MTC comp., is in another area here too so I have been seeing him around here. I am in Concepción 1, Élder Jolley is in 2 and the district leader is in 3. My new companion is Élder Arzate from California. I haven’t been here for too long but I have already had a cool experience. During my last week in Kennedy, the other 2 elders that were in our ward had a baptism of a family- a baptisim and a wedding. It was a really cool family and I was at church for their confirmation. Well I left for Emboscada and went on my way then my first day here Élder Arzate was telling me about this awesome family that lives here, his favorite family It was the last visit we had for the night. We walked in the house and it was the same family!!!, a family I knew in Kennedy! Wow I was so awestruck, it was amazing!
The two elders in the photo -one is Élder McKee and the other is Élder Ulises Villalba a member from Benjamine Aceval who I worked with in Mburucuya.
Mom, Dad thanks for everything you do for me. I love you guy so much. You two are such examples in my life. I have been growing a stronger testimony of Jesus Christ during this time and I am going to start “Jesus the Christ” which will boost my testimony, I know.
I have I love for the Paraguayan people. There is a special place for them in my heart. I was talking with Élder McKee one night and we were talking about divine mission calls and I mentioned that how, when I received my call that said I was going to Paraguay, I had an instant witness that that was the right place for me to go and there is a reason that I had to go here.
I am sincerely thankful for everything. This time is special for me- this time that I get to wear a plaque that has our last name and the name of our Savior. Thank you.
Love, Élder Lucas Rodgers

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The local missionary diet

October 18, 2010

Hola Familia,
Well, we had an interesting week. We have been running back and forth between our house and the hospital. We are coming down to the final days of what we are going to do with my comp. I have only worked with him for one morning when he felt good but then he felt the pain again and couldn't continue. President said that if something doesn't change we may have “changes”. The thing is, if he goes home for surgery he will not come back to Paraguay. He is in so much pain and does not get too much sleep. President was fasting for him yesterday. I hope we don't get another special change this week. I want to stay and work with him. Keep him in your prayers.
But the good thing about this area is that if we were in the house and were hungry we would order Pizza Hut, haha!
This has been a hard week because we have not been able to find anybody to teach. It’s a lot different than my other areas. It’s really hard to find people. I really want to find a cool family during the time I have here. I always have this desire that I can find a family here that I can really help. I am learning more and more about following the spirit precisely. I am learning a lot but I still have a little ways to go. I have been having some really cool spiritual experiences that I can see did not come from me. The Lord has been guiding me to the people who need the most help. This Sunday we have been working with a less active family from about 2 years because they have a 9 year old daughter that has not been baptized yet. They said they would come to church. I have to be honest, I really didn't believe them. I have heard that line so many times, that they would come to church, but they came!! It was really cool. We have a baptismal date with the daughter for November 6th.
But the thing here is that the ward is really strong and there are some very strong members so if you guys have any ideas of member missionary work they would be appreciated haha. I have been making some plans with the ward to do another activity like we did in Emboscada about the Plan of Salvation. I think it would work great here.
I haven't given the address of Sister Neitz to Machucas because I have not seen them since. And about the Health plan, that is a lot of information. I was looking for something a little simpler but maybe I will print it out and read it. That picture of Grandma and the pumpkin pie is awesome. I laughed, but it looks SO good!!!
Wow those pictures were awesome, thanks. It’s good to see that everyone is alright, That's way awesome to hear about Jake! That's really cool.
I was thinking if it would be possible to look around now to see if there is a job in Calgary that they want people that speak Spanish. I understand it is still a long time away but keep it in mind when you are out and about. I love this language. It’s really cool. I still have troubles once and a while but I can really get my point across to just about anyone. I can see the Lord has been helping me A LOT. I don't think I could have done this all by myself. I think it would have been impossible. Thanks for all your help with everything! I love you guys so much. Good job on singing in church. I’m sure it was awesome! I will be sending some letters home to Grandma and Grandpa and Ustedes.
Con mucho amor,
Elder Lucas Rodgers

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

October 11, 2010

Hola Familia!
Well where do I begin... Elder Jesus David Jaime is the name of Elder Jaime. He is from Cartagena. His last day is Oct 27. Shirt size is probably 17. I am wearing a 17 ½ right now and it is a little big but I don’t know if getting it any smaller than 17 would be uncomfortable - maybe 16½ .
There was something that I forgot to talk about in my last letter. When the family of Nimia Gonzalez went to conference she was touched by the talk of President Monson. There were things in his talk to which she could relate. It was really inspiring to see her excitement when she was recounting her experience.
But about 2 days later on Tuesday I was finishing a letter I was writing to Spencer W. and cleaning my desk when all of a sudden my comp said "OH-NO" "Elder Royers ejeumi!!!" (Elder Rodgers, come here). He was talking on the phone. I said, "What happened???" He gave me the phone. It was the zone leaders. They told me that I was changing areas and I had to be in the office the next morning at 8!!!!!!! I said “ARE YOU SERIOUS!!!! NO!" They told me that I was going to an area called Benjamin Aceval, an area that is more or less in the Chaco, and I would be going with an Elder Wightford who also was going home with elder Jaime. So that day we told everyone bye. There was no notice -24 hours, no more. So the next morning we were in a taxi with all my things. We got to the office and there were about 2 other companionships there waiting. They called President (who wasn’t there yet). He said “No, because there are some more changes that I have made!” So we had to wait to see if we got changed to another area. There were about 7-8 companionships that were affected by this change so we had our changes but President told us he made some more changes. haha,
So after a while President gets to the office and he says to 8 elders to come into a room, and I was one of them. So I was not going to be going to Benjamin (In Spanish it is said Ben-ha-meen (J in Spanish is like the H). An Elder Jones went there. I got sent to.....are you ready......a ward in Asuncion, that’s right, a area in the heart of Asuncion, called....Mburucuya! (mbu-ru-cu-ja)! I think it was an old area of Sister Neitz. She mentioned it in one of her letters. But I really like it. The chapel that I meet in every Sunday is the same chapel that the mission office is in! So I am right in the middle of Asuncion....and...there is a Burger King right across the street! haha and a really nice supermarket too, and we can order pizza from Pizza Hut! (But it’s really expensive…).
My new companion is Elder McKee from Vernon Utah. This is his second change in the mission. That is one thing that President told me, that I was going up as senior companion. So that’s interesting eh? My companion is having problems with his kidneys and can barely walk. There is a young man here from Benjamin Aceval so my companion stays with members across the street and the young man works with me. We don’t know the area so we have been getting to know everyone. Today we are going to talk to President about what will happen with my companion, keep him in your prayers!! We are thinking that he will have to have surgery. The doctors here don’t know anything.
It kind of sucked because this Sunday they dedicated the chapel in Emboscada, but the Lord wants me here so I am now here. But my companion has been talking to Dr. Hollingsworth. Last Monday he took a trip to Buenos Aires but the doctor really didn’t do anything.
I have a question that a lot of people have asked me and to tell the truth I really don’t know. What is the health plan of Canada, or Alberta - what is the Health dealio? I really don’t know so if you could tell me there are a lot of people curious here.
I TOTALLY forgot about Thanksgiving. Good thing Elder Jolley called me and wished me a Happy Thanksgiving, haha. His comp is Elder Wendorff from Raymond, Alberta. So maybe I’ll go to Burger King or something. I KNOW I won’t be able to find Grandma’s Pumpkin Pie there :’(. Tell her to send me some!!!!!  …Well let’s see that’s not a good idea …well…Just put it in the freezer for now, haha. Paraguay is starting to get hotter..... Dun...Dun....DUN!!!!!!
So as I was saying I am actually writing this letter from the computer of Sister Madariaga in the office so anything that you send I will get right away. I just got the letter with the bookmark that is in Spanish. But thank you for everything!! I love you guys so much and if the family is there eating Thanksgiving dinner, all I know is they are all together. HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!!!!! I LOVE YOU GUYS!! I am thankful for this wonderful experience that I have to be here serving in Paraguay, It‘s an experience that is one of a kind. I am thankful for the restored gospel and for my Savior, Jesus Christ, and my wonderful Family!!! Save a plate for me! Well, try too. Thanks for everything. Hope you guys have a great week/day.
Con muchisimo amor,
Elder Lucas Rodgers

Monday, October 4, 2010

Pillar of light in Paraguay

Cutting Trees and Bringing Firewood with Nery

Worn-out Shoes (Eccos)

"Big Bug"

Guarani-Language Nametag (plaque)

"Filigrana" map of Paraguay

Bus to General Conference

October 4, 2010

Hola Familia!
Well, I just want to start off by saying Wow, General Conference was AMAZING! I listened to a few of the sessions in Spanish Sunday morning and half of Priesthood. Wow, one talk that I loved was by Claudio R.M. Costa. (He came to the MTC when I was there) and what he said about prophets, the 14 points. He was so strong in his voice. A cool thing is that there are some apostles who pre- record their talk in Spanish and when they go to give their talk the people hear the voice to the actual apostle- Elder Anderson, Christofferson, Scott. I never really thought about it before but what a BLESSING to listen to the prophet’s voice, not to have someone translate it, but to hear the words from his own lips. What a blessing! Most of the world listens to the prophet through someone else. Which, don't get me wrong, it’s awesome to hear what he is saying, but it’s something else to hear the prophets actual voice.
Wow what a week. It was so hard to invite people General Conference, well the invitation was easy but picking them up was hard because there are a lot of people who forgot about changing the hour. We moved forward an hour.
I was really hoping they would say something about the Calgary Temple, Oh well there is always next session, haha.
Well there are pictures of when we went with a new member to go cut down a tree and bring firewood. I had a very strong spiritual experience. I saw a pillar of light....... (You will understand when you see the picture haha). The bus picture was when we took a bus to general conference and the bug was a big bug we found on the sidewalk. The new convert's name is Nery.
I didn't get my old plaque but I got a cool new one. It’s not in Spanish, but in another language in Paraguay, that’s right, GUARANI! Whoo! and a cool thing of fhiligrana ,a little map of Paraguay, I will try to send it home. It’s a little fragile. My comp. has been buying some last minute Paraguay things so I ordered a few Paraguay ties. Next Monday I will be taking pictures that they will put on and next Monday I will send the pictures.
This month has been hard because my comp came here with 10 mil so I had to pay for everything until the beginning of this month when we get more money. We get 850 mil every month and the day we got the money he spent 750ish mil on cool Paraguayan clothing.... so now he is planning on selling his camera so that he has money for the rest of the month.
No news yet about the ring, but I still have faith! Thanks for the pictures. That’s really cool. I was thinking of the new elder from Canada and I really wish I had his time over. It is really going too fast.
Just to let you know the white shirts that I like the most are the George mark from Wal-mart. How long do you think it will take to receive the shoes? My nice Eccos are no longer waterproof and today we had a lot of rain.
Thanks for everything.
Con Amor,
Élder Lucas Rodgers