Monday, April 25, 2011

Luke in Concepcion - April 2011

April 25, 2011

Hola familia!

Wow, we had a miracle in church. We broke our record!!!!! which was 69! We had 74!!!!! Part of it was that one of our members went to the temple on Saturday and got sealed to his wife and so he had some family there, including his brother who is living in the States with an American. They came down to Paraguay for Semana Santa (holy week) (they come down every 4 years) and so there was a family from Salt Lake City there and their daughter spoke in English and it was so fun talking to someone in English that understood us! I have lost soooo much English and how to say things in English.

Wow those are cool photos! It looks like you guys had a great time. Looks like it was a little hot out!

In Paraguay one of the major fruits is grapefruit, but not pink grapefruit. It looks like green on the outside and almost yellow when it is ripe and yellow inside. The way that the people drink the juice is peel the outer layer off so just the white stuff is left, but you can't get to the juice yet. Then they make a hole the size of a bottle cap or a coin, then use a knife to stab the fruit on the inside to loosen it, then squeeze the juice and drink it. IT is SOOO ADDICTING!

Mothers' Day is coming up and we have been talking a little about where we are going to be calling from. I talked to Elder Benitez about using his computer and using Skype and he said that was okay. So for right now I think that is the way we will be going. If you have any questions or concerns tell me. But if you guys could figure out how to use it that would be great, because personally I have never used that program before and I would hate to waste time figuring it out when the time comes. I'm sure that Elder Benitez is aware of how it works because, as senior missionaries they can talk to the family through that, so we'll see. Let me know. If that doesn’t work for some reason, here is our cell phone number - 0972104697 (that is without area codes), just so you guys can have a backup plan.

I have been thinking a lot about our purpose here as missionaries. A lot of the time we feel that the success of a missionary is when they return after baptizing 100 people but as Preach My Gospel says under the heading “ A Successful Missionary”:

“Avoid comparing yourself to other missionaries and measuring the outward results of your efforts against theirs. Remember that people have agency to choose whether to accept your message. Your responsibility is to teach clearly and powerfully so they can make a correct choice. Some may not accept your message even when they have received a spiritual witness that it is true. You will be saddened because you love them and desire their salvation.”

“You can know you have been a successful missionary when you:

• Feel the Spirit testify to people through you.

• Love people and desire their salvation.

• Obey with exactness.

• Live so that you can receive and know how to follow the Spirit, who will show you

where to go, what to do, and what to say.

• Develop Christlike attributes.

• Work effectively every day, do your very best to bring souls to Christ, and seek

earnestly to learn and improve.

• Help build up the Church (the ward) wherever you are assigned to work.

• Warn people of the consequences of sin. Invite them to make and keep commitments.

• Teach and serve other missionaries.

• Go about doing good and serving people at every opportunity, whether or not they accept your message.”

“When you have done your very best, you may still experience disappointments, but you will not be disappointed in yourself. You can feel certain that the Lord is pleased when you feel the Spirit working through you.”

We may not be baptizing. In fact it is not only here all our mission is having trouble. That is why Elder Foster has come 2 times and Elder Arnold came to talk to the leaders (Well the first time elder Foster came it was for everyone). The other two times was only for DL's and ZL's the only reason that I didn't go was because I am far away and we would loose some working time if I had to travel like that. Our zone leader has baptized 3 times in these two changes and they have all been 9 - 12 year old kids. So it is not just us. Elder Walker did have a baptism and a wedding planned, but at the last moment the bride got cold feet and canceled all of it. We keep saying that if Concepcion will be a stake there will be a time when the elders will be baptizing every week. But maybe it is our responsibility to find the people that are lost to strengthen the church. It’s like Helaman 5:12. If the foundation of this stake is not founded in Jesus Christ it will fall. I think I mentioned this in an earlier letter. So we are working to strengthen the rama. There are some people that have made a commitment to go to church every Sunday that we have been working with and the miracle is that they are doing it. Sometimes it’s hard for me to remember our purpose is "Invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end." That is "invite others to come unto Christ", not invite only non-members. It is for everyone, even our own companion. I desire to baptize, but all people need to come unto Christ, even the less-active. I always like explaining that the doctrine of Christ is just that: Faith, Repentance, Baptism, The gift of the Holy Spirit, and Enduring to the end. But that is not all. You have to start over and keep on with your journey. You have to always show you have faith, by renewing your testimony in the Book of Mormon and in the Church. When we know the Book of Mormon is true we know everything else is. Always repent EVERY DAY. Take the sacrament (holy supper) (in Spanish-Santa Cena). Be obedient to our covenants, keep your covenants and live the commandments. When we get discouraged we just have to look at our manual (the scriptures) and see where we are in life and what we need to do to improve.

On Sunday the couple that went to the temple were asked to come to the front and bear their testimony. They did, in a way that the spirit entered the room. I felt heavenly messengers in the room testifying that what they were saying was true. My testimony in the family has been growing daily. I KNOW our family will be forever and I don't have doubts! I know the church is true, sin dudas. Yeah, maybe we have not been having baptisms, but as Preach My Gospel says, that is not a key indicator of success. As a mission we have been reading Preach my Gospel daily. We have a schedule of what we have to read every day. It is really helping me understand the importance of many things. I have been changing many things in my teaching to try and improve it.

Thanks for your letters. They are dearly appreciated. Look forward to talking to you guys too. Lots of love from the south to all the family.

Con amor y cariño,

Élder Lucas Rodgers

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Goodbye Elder Meneses

Luke and his new companion, Elder Salvatierra, from Arika, Chile

April 18, 2011

Hola Familia! Wow sounds like you guys are having a great time. It looks like you are in a hotter climate.
We thought that we were slowly entering into winter but this week was pretty hot.

We had a good week, figuring that on Wednesday Elder Meneses called me telling me that we got a special change and now I am with Elder Salvatierra, which if you know Spanish is kind of a funny name: Salvar = Save, Tierra = Earth. So everyone is laughing and saying that we are going to save the earth! So I hope we can. He is from Chile (so you are going to have to let Elder Bishop's parents know so they can tell him) from a city called Arika, and he knows HOW TO COOK delicious food!!!!!!!! and is a great teacher of the gospel.

I had to travel to Asuncion Thursday night alone to take Elder Meneses' stuff to him and to meet my new companion. So that was interesting. I will send pictures of when I had to say good bye to Elder Meneses. The funny thing is that his new companion is his trainer, that’s as if I went back to Elder Hanchett, but he went with Elder Villalon (who also is from Chile).

So to start this week I had been working with the elders from rama 3 and the other elders from rama 2. Elder Walker (ZL) had to go to Asuncion last Monday night to go to a meeting. Elder Bradley R. Foster came and had a meeting with all the mission leaders, the district leaders and the zone leaders, I couldn't go just because they didn't want all the far-away district Elders to have to travel in to Asuncion so I was a little disappointed in not having that opportunity. But it was okay. I am not the biggest fan of traveling in buses like that.
Well we have been working really hard and sometimes it is hard to see the results. Our main investigator, Sara Pintos, left to go to the Chaco with her husband and so we lost her. We have been out in the heat all day long and trying to keep on going. There are people who use their agency to reject this message, a message that brings happiness and joy. I don't know of any other thing that could be more important. We have been having trouble with members who have been members for such a long time and they don't want their children to be baptized!!!!! That is something I don't understand. If Jesus said everyone has to be baptized why wouldn't they want that for their very own children? Everyone is different, and others see different things as important. I have probably mentioned this too much and you guys already know, but President Madariaga wants Concepción to be a stake so we have been trying to focus on the families and on completing families. We have a Family Home Evening tonight with a family. President is always talking about 3 things - reactivation, retention, baptizing.
We are going to be having success here. We have been praying for it. I love Concepción and know there are people here ready to hear about the message of the restored gospel. Thank you for everything. I will be sending out some cards this week. I love you guys and have a safe trip. You guys are probably going to be paying for your time in the cruise to be using Internet, so thanks for taking the time to write! :)
Yo sé que la iglesia de Jesucristo es verdadera, y que las familias pueden ser eternas. Its a truth hold on to.
Love Elder Lucas Rodgers

P.S. We totally have to go on a cruise after, in a couple of years, and we can communicate with the people in Spanish :-)

Monday, April 11, 2011

April 11, 2011

Hola Familia!!!!
Well how are you guys doing!? Swell?
SO we got some news! We had changes and what’s going on is................................. are you in suspense???? I would be too..............I'm staying! With Elder Meneses. But we have a little problem... that Meneses is sick and in Asuncion. He left Friday morning and was thinking he would come back Saturday or Sunday. What happened is that he had a hernia a long time ago and they stitched it up, a long time ago, and just barely he was feeling a little ball under the scar. We didn't know what it was. We were telling him that he had to call someone, Sister Lucas or Sister Madariaga. He was very reluctant to do so, so one day after district meeting he called Sister Lucas and she told him something like ¨good thing that you told us now because if you would have waited it might have gotten worse¨. She said that he had to go to Asuncion that week to see the doctor and see if he needed surgery or an operation. So he left Thursday (we started talking to Sister Lucas on Tuesday) and on Saturday the doctor said they would have the results on Monday so we are going to be waiting for them to see what is happening with my companion. But I really hope that Elder Meneses can come back. It would be really weird having someone else. (It’s interesting that I am thinking that way because it will be our 3rd change together and that is a little weird, especially because it is the 3rd time it has happened to me.) The last thing that we heard is that Elder Meneses has to stay in Asuncion for 10 more days at least and has to take pills to see if goes away so during that time. I don't know what will happen with us. There may be another little special change but I will be here and finishing my 5th change in Concepcion!!
Some things that you can put in the package to send: Tide to go, Macaroni and cheese sauce, ties. I will be sending a memory card soon. You guys should send the memory card to me but put some pictures on it first. Another notice - I never got that Guarani-English Dictionary. I have a couple Guarani-Spanish ones but I'm kinda worried that it will never come... :( That letter from Elder Bishop I just got this week, so it's good to know it takes an eternity to get to me. But whatcha gonna do.
I know about the Referral Center. Elder Jolley and I had a great experience in there. There was a lady that we invited to go to church in New York and she went about 2 times and started talking to the missionaries there. I still have her number and so I will try calling her when I am able to do that after my mission to see if she was baptized. But this experience was truly amazing and one I can never forget.
I'm not sure if it says on the thermometer but it is cooling down a lot here and we are slowly entering into winter. We were playing volleyball with the zone today thinking about the old times when during mid summer we were out in the scorching sun during the siesta, about 11-12-1 in the afternoon, playing sports and how that was SO HOT. I have never experienced heat like this before when you think you could black out and it hurts your head. But it will all be better now that heat is not coming back (hopefully...)
Mom, Dad, the miracles and blessings that we are receiving these days are amazing. The blessings of the Lord always come when we keep the commandments so let’s keep them and stay safe. It is a really easy decision but the follow-through requires faith, which is an action. So let us ¨cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed.¨

I know the gospel is true. Every time I have the chance to testify it strengthens my own testimony. Our testimonies are the things that if we give it, we get more. There are very few things that have that same equation. Another equation is Fo=M. F=Faith, O= Obedience, M= Miracles. The more obedient, the more faith we have and the more miracles will come.
I love you all and I am continuing praying for you. May the Lord bless you all.
Love, Elder Lucas Rodgers
P.S. Good Luck on your Cancun visit. I was talking with some of the other elders and I really want to go on a cruise to one of these places because I can speak to the people in Spanish and understand what they are saying. Take pictures for me and take care.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

"When we went to eat today"


Flames cup bought in Paraguay

April 4, 2011

Hola familia!

What a great way to have a week, finishing with General Conference, and wow I was moved by some of the talks! I really can't wait to get the Ensign and to be able to study the talks. They were amazing talks. I was so happy to be in Concepcion during this time because I was able to listen to the priesthood session and the Priesthood session was AMAZING!!!! Wow it was one of my favorite sessions, and a few other talks. I really enjoyed the talk from Elder Dallin H. Oaks. It’s really funny because before my mission it was always really hard for me to listen to 10 hours of talks but now I have to wait 6 months to listen to them again. I'm not sure if you guys noticed but Terry Lee Wade was called into the Area 70s. He’s my old Mission president so it looks like being a mission president was just the start of his church service. It was really cool to hear his name being called! I'm not sure which session, I think Sunday in the morning, but there was an amazing version of “The Spirit of God” that was sung! We decided it was the three Nephites singing and John on the organ! Just kidding! But it was a very powerful experience. It made me remember the time we sang that song in Priesthood conference, one session when dad and I went, and I could feel the spirit SOO strong that today I can still feel that. That song for me is something powerful.

There was a topic that relates to Lauren and Aaron, that people have to marry! So no pressure or anything but... keep me updated. I know that you can’t read the talks yet but when you can, read what President Monson said in the priesthood session.

We had an interesting encounter with a man this week. He belongs to a church where they believe that they don't have any more sins and that they can't sin more. Needless to say it really was interesting. We read with him the last part of James 2 and 1 John 1:8 (I think 8) but he was very hard in his heart and didn't want to accept it and said that those scriptures didn't apply to him. Then we read 2 Nephi 28: 1-9, well my companion was reading it, and I was talking to someone that was fulfilling that prophecy. It was incredible. My testimony in the words of the prophets in the scriptures was increased immensely and I understood a few more things than usual.

Mom, the thing with our house was that we 2 were living here. Then the other elders had to move because they had problems with their landlord. The closest house that they could live was our house because only in certain places are there houses to rent. So the district president is building a house for them in his back yard and for now we have to live here. We also thought that we would have to move too because the roof leaks in the rain, and she wasn't planning on fixing it so when President was here he talked to our landlady and saw our house with 4 elders (there is a new rule that you have to live in your area and can't live in 4) so President knows our situation and told our landlady too that if she doesn’t fix it within 30 days we would not pay our rent so we will see what happens. So far nothing has been done. The house is too small to fit another bed in, and Mom, let me assure you that if there was a better house around We would be living in IT! The only good thing is that there are a lot of less actives around and it is in the middle of our area. It is a really poor area and I think we are blessed to have a little room.

I just want to say what a great opportunity Tanner and Bradley had to go to Priesthood Conference. I truly believe that if the youth of the church go to general conference, they will be blessed. It is a wonderful opportunity for them to be in the same room as a prophet of God and they will be blessed! And Seth and Will are soooooo grown up wow!

Well you will never guess what I found here in Concepcion - a glass Flames cup! So I sent a picture and I thought.....when will I ever get the chance to buy one of these in Paraguay and bought it. There is a photo here with a lot of money- the monthly money for 3 missionaries and a picture of when we went to eat today.

Thanks for everything!

Love you all soo much,

Elder Lucas Rodgers