Monday, March 28, 2011

Baptism of Nilsa with sister missionaries, Pres. and Sr. Madariaga, and Luke

Emboscada (previous area)

March 28, 2011

Well, how’s it going family?
We didn't have any baptisms this week but we are planning on it this week (we are going to be praying for them). We have been having a tough time because as of right now our house is really only a room, nothing else, and now there are two other elders living with us so we live 4 elders in a room...... and sleep on 3 beds that are put together... at least we have air conditioning.
Something cool that happened. We had a training meeting from Presidente Madariaga and all the elders from Pedro Juan Caballero, Yby Yau and Horqueta. It was a 2 day thing. We were taught about something that the first presidency has come out with -¨Fundamental Principles¨. There are 8 of them:

1) The doctrine of Christ, The missionary purpose
2) The role of the Holy Ghost in conversion
3) Revelation through the Book of Mormon
4) Revelation through prayer
5) Revelation through assistance at church
6) Teach people not lessons
7) We invite, they commit, we verify
8) How to begin teaching

So we had a seminar of 2 days, 8-12 in the morning to teach us these. After the first section the elders from P.J.C. did divisions with us. I got to do a division with Elder Shirk who came with me and was in my district. One thing that they teach us is that we need to kneel down in EVERY lesson. One day later I did a division with Elder Anderson and we visited a family, doing contacts that were catholic. The husband kept telling us that he wasn't baptized in the way Jesus Christ was baptized because that is impossible nowadays and that he wants to follow Christ but he can only do it 75% of the way. It was a little awkward but after the lesson we asked to do a prayer kneeling down and he became very offended, saying ¨Jesus Christ would NEVER kneel¨ and he said that in Matthew (somewhere) that we must NEVER kneel. So Elder Anderson shared the scripture when Christ was performing the Atonement and he threw himself on the ground to pray. But this man would not accept that Christ would kneel. His defense was that when Christ was on the cross he prayed with arms open. We told him that in that situation it was impossible to kneel but he could not accept our opinion. That next morning I read Psalms 95:6 and knew that our teaching was true.
Well it is true about the temple. If I go these changes I will have to find a special way to get permission to go to the temple. Like I said before I will have 6 months and I don't want to leave yet. The other elders have been going to the temple. Elder Arzate went to the temple on Thursday.
OHHH we had the baptism of Nilsa. I had the privilege of performing her baptism. President Madariaga was there and gave a talk. It was really special to hear. During the baptism we were in the water and I couldn't get the right words out of my mouth. I don't know what happened. I know those words inside and out in Spanish but in the end it was very beautiful - the baptism. She gave her testimony in Guarani after and I could understand almost everything. It was a good day (the same day as the divisions, so I was with Elder Shirk).
I have been reading “Jesus the Christ”, and trying to do it every day. It is a hard task but it helps you understand SOO much, and so much clearer and helps you build your faith that Jesus is the Christ. That is really helping my testimony get stronger and stronger. I am looking forward to this weekend when we get to listen to our leaders and receive their counsel.
Last Monday when we were coming back from Asunción we passed though Emboscada and I took pictures. I stayed awake long enough to pass through.
Well, I love you all so much and always pray for you.
Love Elder Lucas Rodgers

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

March 22, 2011

March 22, 2011

Hola familia!

What an adventure! Let’s start at the beginning!

Last Tuesday we got back from Asuncion and my companion had just lost a wisdom tooth and so his mouth was hurting. Elder Anderson of Rama 3 was really sick too so I went with Elder McKeon (his companion) to do some visits in rama 2 and rama 3 (rama = branch). We got back after that to find that Elder Anderson doesn't have dengue fever, everyone was thinking that he had it. A sister and an elder have already gone home from that. After the second time you have it they send you home because the 3rd time you could possibly die. There are about 2-3 elders that have it right now so it is something that the mission is aware of. That night Elder Anderson was talking with Hermana Madariaga and a sister that is serving in our mission as a financial aid who happens to be a nurse. So he got a notice that he would have to go to Asuncion Wednesday in the morning with Elder and Hermana Benitez so Elder McKeon came to stay with us. We were in a trio. Later Wednesday we found a local youth from rama 1 to work with him. Wednesday we got 2 boxes with our A/C so we were happy with that but we had no idea how to install it. We had to get someone to do it because you need to know what you are doing so were working without elder McKeon at this moment. But to make a long story short, a member came over with someone to hook it up. The member didn't charge us but the other guy did - Gs 250 mil - so we paid that and Gs 78 mil for supplies (which we got paid back for). But he charged us for nothing. He had to put a gas in the A/C unit but he didn't do that and the member hunted him down to get our money back and came back about 2 days later to fix it. (I don't have time to write all the details but it will be written in my journal.) It was a disaster!!! but now we have A/C and we sleep in the cold :) THEN Thursday in the morning it was raining and our new house has a back room outside where you can hang clothes to dry but the drain was clogged and all the water started creeping in our house until it was almost all flooded! Then some rain started coming in through the roof! :( so we had a disaster week).

Friday at night after branch night we were doing contacts at night close to our new house because we didn't know anyone around there. We were talking to a lady and I started feeling something, tingling, then PAIN! I didn't know what in the world it was. My feet and my hands started getting really itchy. I took out the phone that has a little flashlight in it and shone it on the ground and there were thousands of ants crawling all over the place!!! Also on the fence post where I had put my hand. I looked at my feet and there were SOOOOO MANY!!! I stuck my feet in a puddle to get most of them off and to drown them but there were still more so we went under a light post to look. I lifted up my pant legs and there were a few still crawling around. The next day on my hands and my feet I could see all the ant bites! My leg and foot were all bumpy. Later that day my hand (mainly my left hand) was all puffed up. I had 2 bites on my left hand and 5 on the other. I didn't know it before but I think I am allergic to ant bites!

That day Elder Walker (ZL) and his companion Elder Packard had baptisms, so we talked to a family in our area and arranged that the 8 year old girl could be baptized too. They accepted and my companion baptized her that same day. I will send pictures next week. So Saturday after the 3 baptisms we went to visit a less active lady who was a reference of a less active family. (If you can't tell we have been working with a lot of less active people.) We went to her house and she said that she will be going to church ¨sí o sí¨ this Sunday, We had lost a lot of time on Saturday because of the sudden baptism. We were thinking that we would have less people in the church because 55 was amazing. But we felt like Alma and his brethren when they said ¨we were astonished beyond all measure¨ when during sacrament meeting we had 69 people in total! We don't know how it happened but it truly was a miracle.

Don't worry about the shirts for right now. They are still usable. I think most of it has to do with my area because it is happening to my companion too so I think they will be usable a little longer. That is awesome that Tanner is a priest and Tim is a teacher. That is awesome! Tell Tanner to write me. I'm still waiting for his letter ha ha. So we have a date to go to the Temple the 5th of May, but I don't know if I’ll still be in Concepción for the trip because the 13th of April are changes and at that time I will have 6 months here. I would love to stay and really don't want to leave but the odds are small. So we’ll see.

President Madariaga is coming Thursday and Friday to Concepción to give us a capacitacion (training). The elders from Pedro Juan Caballero will be coming here. Elder Buchannan and Elder Shirk from the MTC will be coming from there. The Hermanas have a baptism for tomorrow but since President is coming Thursday they moved it to when he will be able to attend. It is a lady about 40ish years old. Her name is Nilsa Colman. Her son Alex got baptized about 4-5 weeks earlier. I mentioned that I did his interview and it was special. I sent a couple of pictures with him. His mom is a lady that I started teaching when I was in rama 1 with Elder Arzate and now she will be getting baptized! I was so happy to hear her name when about 3 weeks ago they told me that they were going to invite her to baptism. We (Elder Meneses and I) went with the Hermanas to do a visit with her. I didn't know it before hand but they were planning on inviting here then. So I got the privilege of being there for that. Today the hermana told me that the interview was for 8:00 PM which I was not really happy for because we would loose so much time walking there. It is far away from our area, and so today after district meeting we left to go send these emails. We were walking with the Hermanas and this family lives one block from the church and so we passed by to see if , by chance, she was home. Yes, she was, so we got to do the interview this morning. That was something very special. So Thursday with President Madariaga she will be getting baptized. She mentioned to me that she would like me to perform the baptism. It was a moment very special for me. So we'll see what happens. I told her I would be overjoyed to do it. SO this week we are starting off on a great start and we are planning 3-4 baptisms for this Saturday, so keep your prayers on our investigators - especially Hector, Ariel, Gloria, and Sara.

I love you all! Thanks for everything that you do for me!

Con mucho amor y cariño,

Élder Lucas Rodgers

Monday, March 14, 2011

Family that owns the house where they were living

Reece's Pieces picture

March 14, 2011

Hola quierida familia mia!

Let me answer your questions here first. We are going to be going to General Conference this change - meaning unless there is a special change (which is VERRRRY unlikely) I will be watching General Conference with Elder Meneses in Concepcion. That is great to hear that you guys will be heading out (to Utah) to watch it!!!! That is so exciting you will have to get on the camera so I can see you guys from here haha, just kidding. The Reece's Pieces were not all for us. The elders in Horqueta asked us to get some for them - 10 bags for them. There are 4 elders. So don't be worried. I did not eat all that haha. I just wanted to take a fun picture souvenir. An elder called us the day of the Japan problem but you mentioned things in your letter that I didn't hear so that was interesting that I didn't hear before. That is awesome that you guys got to go to Banff. I really miss the mountains. There is not one close thing to mountains here! And snow, well you know about that. I hope you guys had a good time.

This month marks 6 months that we went to the temple so we should have the opportunity to assist this month which is really special. We BROKE A RECORD IN CHURCH YESTERDAY!!!! When I first got here there were about 30-35 people weekly and the Relief Society and priesthood were always together and the president of the Relief Society never has given a lesson before. Yesterday we had 57 people in church. The classes were separated and the president gave her lesson. It was a great meeting and the 4 elders of rama 2 gave talks. I talked about tithing and the importance of it and the blessings that we receive when we keep it.

But a notice that right now I am writing you guys from Asuncion because my companion had to go to the dentist and he got one of his wisdom teeth out! Yikes!!! We are heading back this night. We may have to come back next week to get a follow up! We'll see.

We Moved!! I will send pictures next week of our new house or should I say room. It is a little room with a divider. We are getting AC put in tomorrow HALLELUJAH!!!! It is a nice place. I don't have any complaints because before, we had to leave our area to go home. So we wasted a lot of time walking. Now we can do everything in our area! I think this will help a lot plus there is a less active family that lives on our same block and when we left to go walk to church we ran into her (she had a stroke and half of her body she can barely move). She has a cane. But we passed her on our way and I don't know how but she came to church!!! It was awesome and her daughter hasn’t been for 2 years so it was great to see them there. It must be a blessing to live there close to these members.

My shirts have stopped being white, and now have a slight brown texture :-(.

Well thanks for everything. I am grateful for all your help and everything that you guys do for me. The church is slowly growing. It is like a stone cut out of the mountains without hands. It will never stop and nothing can stop it. Thank you for everything!

Love Elder Lucas Rodgers

P.S. The pictures with the family are the family who owns the house where we were living. They are great people. The elders lived with them for 6 years before and we lived for about 3 months haha.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Luke's zone Feb. 2011

Luke in Concepcion - February 28, 2011

Missionaries at Concepcion Bridge February 28, 2011

"Sooo much rain" photos

Luke's Ecco shoes

March 7, 2011

Hola Familia!
You guys don't have to worry (about tetanus). I talked to a lady serving in this mission, Sister Lucas. She looked at my health record and told me that there were no problems and that I will be fine so after limping all over the place for about 3 days it is all better!
Get ready because I am sending photos!
Last Tuesday we had SOOOOOOOO MUCH RAIN!!!!!!!! You will notice! It was up to our knees. It was crazy!
Well the changes! We got a new Zone Leader. His name is Élder Walker from Argentina and a new sister missionary, Hermana Rodrigez, and a new elder in Rama 3, Élder Mckeon.
I was looking at our schedule this week and was excited to see that we will be going to general conference this change!! EXCITED!!! I am still district leader of the Hermanas. Last change we had to report every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. Now this change only Sunday. I have to give a class every week for district meeting and once and a while there is a meeting for the leaders of the zone and I have to go to that. Also if the hermanas have a baptism this change I have to do the interview.
Last Monday Elder Mervyn B. Arnold came and changed a lot of things - new things that we have to report and things we are going to be doing differently. One of them is that every missionary has to live in their area! So that means that I WILL HAVE TO MOVE AGAIN!!!! :- This is the 3rd time changing houses in Concepción. I am sick of it..... well it has to be done. We are going to move Wednesday. Élder Arzate and I moved into this house while we were still in Rama 1 and now I am in Rama 2 and I have to move.....
I got the letters from Grandma and Grandpa Rodgers and Spackman. Thank you so much for the update on the family. I love hearing their testimonies!
There is a picture of the Ecco shoes that I had when I left, just so you can see what state they’re in right now... and like I said last week photos when we went to the Concepción bridge.
One thing that has been a topic for our mission is consecrating our lives. We have had quite a few topics but one of the topics that has been there for a long time is this one. I was listening to the general conference talks and listening to D. Todd Christofferson - ¨Reflections on a Consecrated Life¨ ¨To consecrate is to set apart or dedicate something as sacred, devoted to holy purposes. True success in this life (or mission) comes in consecrating our lives—that is, our time and choices—to God’s purposes. In so doing, we permit Him to raise us to our highest destiny.¨ That really sounds like he is talking to missionaries. I really like the whole talk and the examples that he gives there are three great laws of heaven: obedience, sacrifice, and consecration. One is concern for ones self, the next for the welfare of others and the last is an act of love for our Lord Jesus Christ. It’s not something that I have learned completely but it is something that I am trying to learn. I hope that at the end of my mission I will have learned the true meaning of consecration.
We have about 5 people who are progressing to baptism this month so we are working hard trying to help them grow a testimony I know the church is true. I love you guys so much! I am enjoying so much this time I have to be here in Paraguay sharing the restored gospel. I have seen miracles here that I can not explain. I know the Book of Mormon is true! It’s amazing. No one can prove to me that it isn't. It can bless lives and answer the most profound questions that we have in our souls and our hearts. It was written for us!
Thanks for everything that you all do for me. I am sincerely grateful for everything.
Con muchisimo cariño y amor. Que siempre reciban los bendicones que nuestro Padre Celestial tiene para ustedes
Élder Lucas Rodgers