Okay, now to the part that everyone is curious about. I spent all day Monday in meetings and packing up for the flights. Tuesday morning we all woke up at 4am and loaded up into buses to travel to the airport. The flight was fine with no issues.
Upon arriving in Asuncion, I made my way through customs and met president Wells in the airport. When we left the airport, we went and saw the temple, went to a botanical garden, and then had meetings all day. After the meetings, we went over to the house of the assistants and all 25 or so of the new missionaries stayed in their tiny house.
The next morning we hiked back to the office and spent the morning in personal study and had a class on managing stress, which was good because all of us were anxious to meet our new companions! It took what felt like forever, but we finally went downstairs into the cultural hall, and after another orientation meeting we (all the new Elders) lined up on one side, all the trainers on the other, and then had a power point which showed the picture of the trainer followed by the new companion. It was sooooo crazy to realize that after years of waiting I was finally on the mission and was about to meet my trainer who, according to everyone, is the most important companion you will have.... I was trying to figure out who mt trainer would be and I was pretty much set on this one tall white guy thinking he must be my companion, but up on the screen came a picture of a native Paraguayan named Elder Parades. Then, the next name up was mine!! I got a Latino companion!!! Not just a Latino, but a native Paraguayan! He barely speaks any English, but he does know Guarani. (The next time any of you feel like complaining about something, remember that if you can complain in your native language you are already in a better situation than Elder DuFort) Its fun though, I am learning Spanish much faster than I would have if I was given an English speaking tranadore :)
After a brief introduction, we got into a taxi with all of our luggage and went off to our new area. It took me a while to figure it out, but apparently Elder Parades was not familiar with the area either! We actually are opening a new area! It is called Salado C and is a little town inside of limpio... it is roughly a 35 minute taxi ride and an hour in collectivo(bus) from the main office in Asuncion
I hadn’t showered in a day or so, so I went to go turn on the water and nothing came out!! I later learned that the water here is not reliable because the farmers use it all up. There are different parts of the day where we have NO running water in our house. Its ok, because I am on my mission and that is what counts.
I love the area that I am in, it is like Fiji all over again! We walk down the street (which isn't even a street, it is cobblestones and dirt) and see cows on the side of the road. The animals here roam free all the time! I woke up one morning and found a hen with her chicks wandering around in my front yard. Oh, and we have a cat too. I haven’t told my comp, but I named it Coran, because it did the same thing Coran did! I saw it wandering around one day, and the next day I found it in the kitchen!! I don’t know why but I have terrible luck with stray cats deciding that they want me as their new owner haha :)
My first day out in the field, we woke up and found our entire front room and the patio and kitchen flooded! Apparently when we were checking for running water, we forgot to turn off the kitchen sink, so it overflowed… haha :).
We went out and met some of the ward members later that day. We had lunch with this really nice family with 9 kids (with the majority of them under 12, so needless to say i felt right at home except for the fact that the little kiddos were blabbering on in Spanish and I didn’t understand a word they were saying). It has been super fun learning Spanish by immersion. I learn roughly 25-30 new Spanish words daily using mi mejor amigo (aka my Spanish-English dictionary).
We have spent most of our time just getting settled into the home, because it is new and the area is new too. We didn’t have any kitchen stuff at all, not even a stove. So we had to waste one day just waiting for the kitchen stuff to be delivered which was painful because this place is HOT! It is even worse inside of the house during the daytime. Almost every time I have gotten home at night my shirt has been soaked with sweat. But it is what it is, and I better get used to it because this is the cold season. The only other really fun thing to report is that on Saturday night we had lunch in the capilla (chapel) and found out that there would be a quincinerra that night with tons of food. Rule number one as a missionary, if an opportunity comes up for food, you take it. So, after we visited a less active family, we went back to the capilla for dinner and it was super good! Hamburgers and empanadas! Although I am missing the food from home a bit. We have very little greens out here. The most common vegetables are bell peppers, onions, and carrots. When we went shopping the other day I saw some fresh produce in the back, and I instantly felt my mouth start to water. I love it out here though!
So, this past week I have learned three things: one, be happy no matter what, because it is what it is, and nine times out of 10 the only thing you can control is your attitude; two, necessity is the mother of invention. I don’t have running water, so to take a shower, I did a little bath thing with a bucket of water and cup. Whatever works, right?; third and final thing is, trust in God, pray every day, and with this and faith, everything will be ok. I got a bloody nose from the heat this morning, and because we are out of drinking water I just prayed that the Lord would help it stop, and it did! Usually it takes a long time for it to dry up for me, but it was done almost instantly. Then, through some miracle my Argentina soccer jersey didn’t stain from the blood! I simply rinsed it out in the bucket out front and the blood came out :) The Lord is watching over us.
I love the work, I love the challenge the language barrier is, and I love the heat! You may ask why I love it and the simple answer is this: why hate what you cant change? "come what may, and love it." That is my motto, and will be for the next two years here in Paraguay, and for the rest of my life. Why cry when you can laugh? Why frown when you can smile? Why be a grump when you can rejoice in all the Lord has blessed us with? That is my goal here, and I hope it will become yours as well.