Monday, September 30, 2013


Holy cow, Mom. As much as I loved the MTC and all the advice everyone has given me over the last couple of months, NOTHING could have prepared me for life in Paraguay! I don't even know where to begin!

Ok, let's start with my trainer. Hna. Gonzalez is from Panama and is 20 years old. That's right, I am being trained by a native Spanish-speaker who knows about as much English as I know Spanish! A times there is quite a language barrier, but she is very patient with me and I know will help me learn Spanish even faster. She herself has only been in the mission for 3 months and just finished her own training. I'm her second companion! Apparently that's becoming more and more typical in every mission field. In short, I have a fantastic companion and I know that I will learn a lot from her.

Our area I THINK is kind of a suburb of Asunciòn called Ytororo. A lot of the names of places here are guarani. "Y" is more of a "uh" sound with your teeth closed..... I'm getting off track. The area is.... very humble. There are some nicer houses, but a lot of the homes are very tiny and pieced together. Most are maybe the size of our family room. Also, as it turns out, we only clap doors here! Standing outside the gate, we clap a couple of times and wait for someone to tell us to come in. It helps that everyone is always outside their houses.

The people are incredibly friendly. I wish I could understand what they are saying and talk to them more. I'm pretty sure that the whole country is conspiring to make me fat, though, including my companion. During our lunch appointments they keep giving me more and more food and I have to somehow find room in my stomach! While Hna Gonzalez says it's rude to decline food, I kind of wonder if she made it up to make me eat more. She always saying I need to get fatter.

At the same time, I need the food. I've never walked so much before in my life. If I don't have the most killer legs in the world after this year and a half I will be SHOCKED. It's exhausting! But I know it will be easier with time and I will get stronger. Right now I'm just focusing on keeping up with my speedy companion.

Paraguay is wonderful. I'm meeting amazing people and I feel so blessed. I wish I had time to write you more. Maybe I'll find time to write a more detailed letter and send it to you.

I love you so much, Mom. Thanks for all of your support. Please tell everyone how much I love them. AAAAaaaahh, I just can't contain the love!!!

Your misioñara,
Hna Jeppesen

The mission home!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Paraguay, Here I Come!

Julia is on her way! We asked her about if she could call before she left. We got her letter today.

Yup, I just checked with some other missionaries who spoke directly with Presedente Pratt. He said specifically that we are NOT to make any phone calls to our families at any time. I promise that I will be safe in the Lord's hands and in the hands of my leaders!
My travel plans (in military time) are as follows:
03:30  09/23 Leave the MTC
07:08  Flight from Mexico City to Bogota, BOG (I'm not exactly sure where this is, but I want to say it's Columbia)
21:17  Flight from Bogota to Buenos Aires, Argentina (THAT´S A 10 HOUR LAY-OVER IN COLUMBIA)
08:15  09/ 24 Flight from Buenos Aires to Asunción
Over 24 hours of travel. The rest of my district told my companion and I that we better have at least 3 converts each by the time we actually get to the mission home. Challenge accepted. We're headed to the materials office after this to pick up extra copies of the Book of Mormon to place ;)
Since this is my chance to email you I'm going to take advantage. This last week has been pretty fantastic. Classes for the most part were the same as normal, but on Friday we got to have "In-field Orientation," a FULL day of workshops on how to find investigators, working with members, building our faith and how it affects our teaching, planning and goal-setting.... all the fun stuff! The day went by so fast! Probably the funnest part was when the instructors put on a play about working with the members of the Church. Since they know that we're not quite fluent in Spanish yet and they were more worried about us understanding the message than the language, anyone who wanted to could get a headset to listen to a translator. I was one of these poor souls. It was incredibly helpful, but the teacher who was translating has quite the sense of humor. He would inject hilarious comments throughout the performance, using funny voices, translating any English back into Spanish, talking to the missionaries telling them the answers during discussions and trying to get us to raise our hands, etc. Half of the missionaries (the ones with headphones) were BUSTING up with laughter while the other half were looking around wondering what was so darn funny! Most importantly, I recieved lots of revelation and took lots of notes on how I can be a successful missionary, and I am so thrilled.
....ok, well mostly nervous.
...........and maybe a little bit terrified.
Yesterday was just as wonderful. During our first 3 hour block of classes, we went over our language lesson and then had a Q&A session with our teacher, Hermano Molinaro. For the last 4 weeks he has been playing the roll of Henry Ciau, an investigator that we had to teach the lessons to. As it turns out, Henry was an investigator that Hno. Molinaro taught on his own mission to Los Angeles. He showed us pictures of Henry, his wedding as a commitment to keep the law of chastity, his family, and their baptisms. Even though I didn't get meet this man personally, I feel like I really got to know and love him through our lessons with our teacher, and I was SO happy to see the pictures of him and his family be baptised and recieve those blessings.
We got to spend a bunch of time with both of our instructors, Hno. Molinaro and Hna. Balderas, that night and take a bunch of pictures with them. Did I tell you enough about Hna. Balderas? She was our first "investigator". She is a native of Mexico and converted to the church when she was 15. She eventually served a mission in southern Mexico, near Guatemala, I think. She teaches at the MTC, is the Young Adult Representative in her ward, and teaches institute at night. Basically, she is the ultimate Latter-Day Saint and is the sweetest woman I've ever met in my life. One day in the Celestial Kingdom I really hope to introduce you to her.
The cherry on top of my experience in the MTC is most definitely my district, and I am going to miss them all with my whole heart. For the last six weeks we have spent 12 hours a day together and have become a family. They are FANTASTIC missionaries and are going to do wonders out in the field. Today as we were having our Sunday district meeting, we wrote down a date for all of us to remember. 200 years from now, after we are long dead and have a perfect knowledge, we are going to get together on 22 Sept, 2213 for a district meeting and talk about our lives, our questions, our experiences. This date is now written on a sticky note in the cover of my scriptures. The point of this is so that when any of us are struggling or going through trials and difficulties, we can look at this date and remember what our end goal is. I look forward to meeting with this group in Paradise and seeing what we all have become.
I love you guys with all my heart and soul. I am so excited to be on my way over South America in about 16 hours and specifically Paraguay after that. There is someone waiting for me there that I promised to bring the Gospel to in the pre-mortal realm. I feel this with every fiber of my being. Now I am actually on my way to fulfill this promise to them and bring them back to their Heavenly Father. I am so proud and so honored to be a part of this work, even with all the things that I'm terrified with right now. My God is my rock and my salvation, and he will help me. I am so so thrilled to share this with God's children in Paraguay.
With all my love,
Hermana Jeppesen
District 5A  

It has been a long six weeks!

Hno Molinaro y Hna Balderas, the best teachers a missionary could ask for

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Week 5! Almost Done!

 ¡Hola Familia!

I'm so glad Dani and the baby are doing well! People keep asking me how they are doing and I just have to tell them that I have no idea, but I'll find out. And yes, I can totally imagine Dani being a worry-wort new mama, and it makes me smile!

As for the package, at least I'll have some new shirts in Paraguay?

They posted our departure dates in the reception office yesterday. Everyone leaving for the Paraguay, Asunción mission fly out at 8:08 am this next Monday morning. I believe we'll be leaving el CCM around 2 am, but I'm not sure. As for the language, I know for a fact that I'm not going to understand anyone for a while unless I ask them to talk REALLY slow. In case you didn't know, that's kind of impossible in the Spanish language! Also, there is also the chance that I'll have a native companion, so we'll just have to see how it goes!

So this last week was so much better! Thank you so much for the prayers. I have without a doubt felt the extra strength and my Heavenly Father helping me. THANK YOU!

This weekend on the 15th, as it turns out, was Mexico's Independence Day. The night before, we had Noche de Méxicano, with dancers and music, a civic ceremony that involved marching the flag around the auditorium and singing Mexico's national anthem, the whole shebang. I'll make sure to send you pictures and a video or two! It was a fiesta!

The next night we all met back at the auditorium at 10:30 (which is SUPER LATE for us missionaries) to participate in what is called the Grito. In short, at 11 pm the president of Mexico comes out on a balcony and rings a bell before reciting the words of rebellion spoken way back in 1810. As he lists off each name of the heroes of the rebellion, everyone across the entire country yells, "¡Viva!"  The president yells, "¡Viva México!" three times, with the people yelling back, "¡VIVA!" each time. It was so neat to be a part of this national cry of patriotism! These people are so PROUD of who they are as Mexicans, and I greatly admire it. Why doesn't the US do anything like that?! Now I'm even more curious to find out the traditions and holidays of Paraguay.

Other than that, most everything else has been the same here. I'm absolutely loving learning the language and more about the Gospel. I still struggle and have hard days here and there, but such is life and I doubt that will ever stop. I am very nervous and VERY excited to leave for Paraguay in less than 6 days. Please keep praying for me! I have a feeling I'll really need it!

I love you guys with all my heart, and I'm always thinking of you in the back of my mind. (Don't worry, Mom, I promise I'm not getting distracted!) Give each other a GIANT hug from me!

Lots and lots and lots of love,
Hermana Jeppesen

All the missionaries singing Called to Serve in Spanish.
Classic Elder Behning

The Élderes from México were VERY excited for the cultural night... to say the very least.

Hermana McIntyre, Elder Behing, and myself at Noche de Mexicano the day before Elder Behning left for Texas.

CUTEST little boy ever!... Besides Johnathan, of course...

Beautiful Dancers!

It was QUITE the show.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Week 4 and Baby week too!

Oh my goodness, Mother. I wish you could have seen me crying in front of my computer when I checked my email earlier today. I don't know if I have ever been so happy! Johnathan looks absolutely perfect in every way. I've been calling him little baby Joe-Joe for the last month, btw, and I couldn't be happier to finally see what he looks like. As for being worried about me being homesick, you have absolutely nothing to worry about. I was much more distracted wondering how Dani was doing and when she was going to have the baby and if everything would go alright and if the baby would be healthy and yadayadayada. It is such a relief to know that everything went perfectly fine. How is Dani doing? How much does the baby weigh? Why don't I have any pictures of YOU as a new grandma?!?! Please tell me everything! I want to know!!
As for me, I've had my ups and downs this week. My district is realizing just how bad I am at sports. Hermana Colvin taught us a game called Volleytensocpongball. Without going too much into detail, it's like playing soccer on a tennis court with volleyball rules. I will definitely have to show you guys when I get home! Anyway, it involves using soccer moves and trying to kick the ball over the net to the other team, and I am TERRIBLE at it. Can you picture me kicking around a soccer ball? Yeah, me neither, and I'm pretty sure my district can no longer imagine it either. Maybe after my time in South America I'll at least be a little bit better?
I have had a lot of spiritual experiences this week as well. On Wednesday I had taken my wallet with me to buy some supplies at the tienda (store) and just kept my wallet with me throughout the rest of the day. The next morning I realized that my wallet wasn't with me, and I became extremely worried. I had very important things in this wallet, including my passport. I wasn't sure if I had left it in our casa, our classroom, if I had dropped it, or something else. After looking around as much as I could, I finally asked my companion if we could say a prayer together. I asked Heavenly Father that I could be guided by the spirit to find my wallet, and that if it had been taken or found by someone that they would have their heart softened to do the righteous thing and return it or take it to the lost and found. We concluded and immediately went to Reception to see if anyone had turned it in. Lo and behold, there it was waiting for me! I know this story is a little silly and maybe not that much of a surprise, but it really helped me to know that my Heavenly Father was listening in that moment. We'll just say that I offered a VERY sincere prayer of gratitude.
Later that very same day I got a note that I had a package! When I went up to the post office, however, I learned that I first had to give the worker there my ID and she would pick it up from the post office in the city the next day. Somewhat disgruntled, I waited. The next day, the post office was CLOSED until 3 pm, and it closes each day at 4 pm. In that one hour window my companion and I got permission to run over there during class. As I asked for my package, the worker told me that she couldn't give it to me yet because she hadn't done the paperwork for it and she was leaving for the day. I wouldn't be able to pick up my package until the post office opened again on MONDAY. At this point I was just upset and grumpy. I didn't have my package, I wasn't understanding the grammar we were being taught, I could teach our investigator for the LIFE of me, and everything seemed to be going wrong. It seemed the rest of the district wasn't all put together that day either, because after our grammar lesson, Hermana Balderas asked us to take out our Preach My Gospel's and turn to the chapter entitle ''Christ-like Attributes''. She guided us to the sections for patience and humility, and then proceeded with what was for me a call to repentance. In that moment I felt extremely chastened for the atrocious attitude that I had been displaying. In Mosiah 24 (?) the people of Alma had been put under such extreme labor by the Lamanites who had captured them, and never once did they complain. Instead, they looked to God and praised him for making them strong enough to bear their burdens. In the book of Alma as the sons of Mosiah went about teaching the Lamanites they were subject to EXTREME persecution, but God always delivered them and they were blessed with the baptisms of many as they exercised patience. And here I was, grumpy because I had to go a few days without a package I didn't even know I was getting. Grumpy because after 4 weeks I don't speak Spanish like a native yet. I was very humbled in that short section in PMG and with those few scriptures. I very much suggest that you take the time to read it.
On that note, THANK YOU FOR THE PACKAGE! (I did apologize to the worker for my attitude when I went to pick it up.) The candy and letters are so wonderful, and I made sure to share one of the packets of beef jerky with the rest of my district.
I do ask for one favor. I have been struggling with confidence as far as speaking the language and practicing teaching the doctrine. I know I need more faith, but sometimes it's difficult when I don't feel confident in my knowledge. Would please pray for me to overcome this current trial of mine?
I love you guys so much. I pray for you every morning and night. Thank you for all the emails and the love.
Hermana Jeppesen

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Week Three-All work and no play is not how Julia rolls!

This week went super well! Our district is having a bit of fun pranking, so my companion and I went in to the computer lab one day and changed the desktop of Elder Fogg's computer to a picture I had taken of him fast asleep on the bus. It was a riot when he logged on and saw it!  In return, I was looking through my camera a few days later and noticed that he and some other elders in the district had taken some goofy pictures when I wasn't looking. 
Yesterday Hermana McIntyre and I had to take our passports up to the reception office because our mission was asking for scanned copies of them.  It took a little bit, so we were late to meet up with the rest of the district for our service activity.  By the time we got to the meeting spot, everyone was gone and we had no idea where they went!  We literally walked the ENTIRE complex looking for them, but to no avail.  The good news from this is that I stopped and talked with several workers around the CCM who only knew spanish to ask them if they had seen our group.  I'M GETTING BETTER!  Not much, but at least enough to have a very broken conversation!  We never did find them, but we later found out that they had been taken out to a building way on the other side of the complex where we had NEVER gone before and never would have found if someone didn't show us.  We'll just have to be earlier next time.
Gracias por su testimonio, Mamá.  Yo se que diezmo es muy importante y Dios nos da bendiciones al nosotros seguimos Sus mandamientos.  Yo tengo un testimonio que la Evangelio benidice nuestras vidas. La Expiación es verdadera, y estoy agradacidas por mí Salvador.  Yo se que el Libro de Mormón es las palabras de Dios y un otra testimonio de Jesucristo.  Yo se que yo soy una misionara de la Iglesia de Jesucristo de los Santo de los Últimos Días. Yo amo ustedes!  En el nombre de Jesucristo, Amén.
...sorry if that was really terrible español.  I'm still learning.
Lots and lots and lots of love from far away,
Hermana Jeppesen
They do free haircuts at el CCM!

Not only is it P-day, it's ALSO pizza day!!!
Elder Fogg, fast asleep coming home from the temple.

The elders who retaliated.

don't know how well you can see the bruise on the palm of my hand below the thumb, but that's what happens during district volleyball games!  I got and even BIGGER one 3 days later on my wrist.  Apparentley I popped a blood vessel while serving.  Unfortunately I don't have a picture, but it was a nasty bruise!!!!

We got a lecture about obedience and using our time wisely after Elder Tucker drew this during our study time.