Monday, April 28, 2014

Senior Companion

¡FELIZ CUMPLEAÑOS, HAYDEN!! Yaaaay! It looks like you guys had a blast, and holy cow, that cookie cake looks RIDICULOUS. Celeste sent me a picture, and it's HUGE. Also, will you guys just stop for a second and look at how much bigger Ashton has gotten since I left? Jeez Luis, I almost didn't recognize him! I am not ok with this whole growing up without me thing that you guys have going on...

¡¡CAMBIOS!! (aka, transfers) I'm not going to lie, I SUPER miss Hermana Weeks. She seriously became to be my sister during our 3 months together, and I know that she's going to work MIRACLES during the rest of her mission. She got sent to the middle of Asunción with all the fancy houses, so I teased her a lot that she'll actually have to start wearing make-up again. She was NOT happy about that part, BUT there are 3 supermarkets in her area that sometimes carry American products, so it makes up for it.

My new companion is Hermana Escobar from El Salvador. A Latina who speaks English, yaaayy! She only has 4 months in the mission, so that means I am finally senior companion O.O I know, right? I actually have to make decisions and be responsible! She is such a sweetie, though, with a super power-house testimony and a knack for knowing just what to say and how to explain the doctrine simply and sincerely. Her sense of humor and this cute little giggle that she does actually reminds me A LOT of Noelle. I know I'm going to learn a ton from Hermana Escobar, and we are going to KILL IT here in Ypacaraí!!

In other news, Miguel and Karen invited us to their son Benjamin's first birthday on Saturday. They said that it was going to be a small get together with just friends and family, but I seemed to have forgotten that they are Latinos. When we showed up, there were Ben 10 decorations everywhere, a ton of people with their kids running all around, piles of food, a huge cake, music, EVERYTHING. It. Was. Huge. When I pointed this out to Miguel, all he said was, "Well, we're just a big family is all!" Man, I seriously love this family. We had a lesson again with them last night about the gift of the Holy Ghost, and they are going to pray AGAIN about being baptized. We are praying like crazy for them to recognize their answer.

Bueno, eso es todo por esta semana. Los quiero muchísimo, y ¡espero que tengan una fantástica semana! (Well, that's it for this week. I love you very much, and hope you have a great week!)

Con cariño,
Hermana Jeppesen

Monday, April 21, 2014

A wonderful Easter week!

Hey Mama!

I'm glad to hear that you guys had such an awesome Easter! Did you guys go to the Easter Pageant? Hermana Weeks has a best friend serving in Mesa right now, so I get to hear a bit about what was going on at the visitors center. Btw, keep an eye out for a Sister Emily Brown and tell her that her best friend's companion says "hi!" 

Easter is CRAZY different here in Paraguay! Everyone here is just so darn CATHOLIC. They celebrate the entire Holy Week. On Palm Sunday there was a huge procession of seriously just about half of the population of Ypacaraí, lead by the pastor of the church. Everybody walked in two very ordered lines, carrying palm branches and solemn faces, all the way to the big catholic chapel in the center of town. Honestly, it was kind of neat to see that kind of representation of Christ's entrance into Jerusalem. On Wednesday, everybody makes a typical paraguayan food called "chipa", which is kind of like a biscuit made with mandioca and corn flour. It's SUPER delicious, but we've eaten so much this week that I don't think I'll be able to even look at it for a month or two. We still have a small pile of chipa in our kitchen that we might just throw out.... On Thursday, everyone has a great big lunch to celebrate the Last Supper, and then on Friday, EVERYTHING is shut down. Nobody plays football, listens to music, goes shopping, NOTHING. They all stay home in solemn respect for the Crucifixion of Christ. Good Friday is definately the biggest day out of the week. Honestly, I didn't notice anything special about Saturday or Sunday. The Resurrection seems to get kind skipped over in the Catholic religion, which is a shame because it's the most incredible part! Much more important than the death of Christ is his triumph over it 3 days later. It was wonderful to get to go to church that day, partake of the sacrament, and remember that glorious miracle that allows us to become like our Heavenly Father. 

In other good news, Miguel and Karen called us Saturday night to set up an appointment with us for the next day! When we met with them yesterday, they told us that this last week they realized what a difference it was making in their family life to be learning from the missionaries. They felt closer to eachother and closer to Heavenly Father as they learned more about Him. So what did we do? Had a BOMB lesson about the Atonement, using the story about the debtor and the mediator from Principles of the Gospel. Apparently the Atonement has never made so much sense before, and they learned a lot! What's more, Miguel confessed that when he and his wife pray with us they feel the Spirit so strongly, but when they try to pray on their own as a couple, they feel like they are just talking to themselves. He told us that it feels like there is something missing. Holy cow, I just about jumped up and down when he said that! I just about screamed, "IT'S BECAUSE YOU DON'T HAVE THE GIFT OF THE HOLY GHOST!! JUST PLEASE AGREE TO GET BAPTISED!!!!!!" ....but I controlled myself. Tomorrow we are going to have a lesson about prayer and the Holy Ghost. I am absolutely determined to baptise this family. IT WILL HAPPEN. 

Anyways, it was a pretty great week! Transfers are being announced tomorrow, and I am probably going to lose my best friend of a companion, Hermana Weeks. In truth, we have been hugging a lot more the last few days in anticipation for the change. The mission can be a bit cruel sometimes, putting two people together 24/7 for 3 months and letting them form an incredible relationship, and then suddenly tearing them apart and replacing them with someone new! I'm super sad, but I know it's according to the Lord's will, and we have lots to learn from other missionary companions as well. Btw, I don't think that her mom posts her letters, but you can try looking up Courtney Weeks on Facebook. Also, did you know that there is a facebook page specifically for the moms of the Paraguay Asunción missionaries? Mom, you have got to get on that!

I love you guys. Don't worry about the package, I've gotten through this far! We'll be going to the temple this next transfer and I'm going to get to call you guys pretty soon for Mother's Day, so that's really all of the care that I need..... Ok, well I MIGHT be buying some more winter gear. 

With TONS of love, 
Hermana Jeppesen

P.S. Pictures: MACARONI AND CHEESE!!!!, super cute kids from the Alfonso family, District Ypacaraí, the district with our branch mission leader.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Busy Day!!!

Hey Mom!

Sorry I'm emailing so late today! Hermana Weeks and I had to go into Asunción today for a doctor appointment and we JUST got back into town. You know how you hear those fun stories about the buses in South America literally stuffed full of people all crammed in together? Yup. I got to be in that for over an hour and a half. My knees hurt a little from standing for so long. But the good news is that nothing got stolen out of my backpack! Yay for fun adventures! Also, we took advantage of being in the big city and I finally found a good coat. You should be relieved to know that there is a slight less chance of me dying from the cold this winter.

This week was a little rough. One of our investigators, Delia, passed away from a heart-attack very suddenly. We just saw her on Wednesday to remind her to read the pamphlet we had left her about the Plan of Salvation, and when we passed by her house the very next day, we found out that she had died overnight. It was an incredible shock, but I like to think that Grandma Vicky is talking with her right now in the spirit world and giving her the lessons that we couldn't finish down here. The other bad news is that our favorite investigators, Miguel and Karen Amarilla, decided to stop taking the lessons from us. THAT was a rough lesson. They were struggling a lot with a testimony in the Book of Mormon, especially accepting anything that isn't the Bible, and eventually that's what got them. We are still good friends and we are welcome back whenever we need anything, but we are most definitely still a bit distraught about the whole thing.

Some good things did happen this week, though. Hermana Weeks and I are really trying to focus on the members and helping them go to the temple to be receive their endowments and be sealed. We are now starting to see the fruits of our labors! The Alfonso family, after a lesson about the Plan of Salvation and the importance of temple covenants to receive exaltation, have set a firm goal to go to the temple, and we are going to start teaching them the temple prep classes in their home. They are so excited, too! The branch president even made a comment to us last night that Hermano Alfonso seemed so much more motivated and enthusiastic yesterday during church. I can't wait for this family to really grow in their testimonies through the temple!!!

Yesterday we received a very special surprise from the Brazilian family that we eat lunch with every Sunday. We got to their house a little late and thought that it was interesting that two of the members that we're good friends with were there too. As we sat down and started eating, Hermana Souza, the mom, went into the kitchen and brought out a beautiful birthday cake... that was already half-eaten! Apparently she had bought the cake yesterday and then had a surprise visit from a distant friend and let them eat over half of the cake. She made sure to save the part that said "Felicidades, Hermanas," though!

So that's what's up this week. Tomorrow we have interviews with the mission president that we have every 3 months or so. We really don't see him that often, so it should be fun. 
KEEP READING PREACH MY GOSPEL!! It really is an incredible and inspired book. My recommendation is to start with Ch.3, which all about learning the doctrine, but I absolutely LOVE Ch.6. Keep pushing forward, Momma! I love you, and am so glad that YOU are my mom, and such an incredible example and friend to me.

Hermana Jeppesen

Monday, April 7, 2014

Birthday Girl!!!

Dude, cookie dough is genius! Seriously, why didn't we think of that? We just did really crappy car washes and nobody asked us to come back....

So, fun fact: Hermana Weeks told me the other day that her family has been reading my letters on the blog. I totally forgot that you were posting them online and so many people are reading these emails! I hope I haven't written anything too embarrassing...

This weekend was super amazing. I LOVE GENERAL CONFERENCE!!! It is so incredible to get to listen to a living prophet of God and his apostles. As we teach about what a miracle it is that we even have that kind of organization like the original church that Christ established, I have gained a whole new appreciation for these men and the revelation that they receive. They are how God talks to us and guides his church. Seriously, how cool is that?! Anywho, the talks themselves were absolutely fantastic. Hna Weeks and I received a lot of revelation on how we need to help our investigators, in my case a lot from Elder Scott. Also, I LOVE what Pres. Monson said that we are a temple building and temple attending people. I want to do everything I can to get all the members here to the temple and have those eternal blessings of being sealed to their families! These ordinances are such a miracle, and I want EVERYONE to know and partake! Also, did you just love the talk on what we can learn from our family history (I can't remember the speaker's name from the top of my head)? I think that as a family we have already learned and can learn so much more from the conversion stories of our ancestors. Really, I learned so much more during this conference that I could keep going on and going on. I am so stoked to get the Liahona and go back over all of the talks.

 Birthday fun time: Hna Weeks and I tried making a huge batch of snicker doodles to bring to conference and share with the missionaries to celebrate our birthdays. We had a HUGE bowl of flour, sugar, and butter, and we were getting SUPER excited for the deliciousness of our magical cookies. We started cracking the eggs into the batter one by one, happily stirring and imagining the heavenly taste of sugar and cinnamon, WHEN OUR DREAMS WERE SUDDENLY AND FATALLY SHATTERED. With the crack of one little deceivingly normal egg, a terrible smell reached our nostrils. It was rotten. We frantically tried scooping out as much of the rotten-flesh-smelling substance that we could, but it was too late! We had to throw out the ENTIRE bowl! We just about cried at the incredible waste of so many other ingredients. It wasn't until after the fact that Hna Weeks remembered the wise council of her mother to crack the eggs into a separate bowl before adding them to the rest of the mixture. We both learned a valuable lesson that night: Always listen to Hna Weeks' mom. (I'm sure there is a gospel principle somewhere in this story.)

Other than that, the week was great. We spent the night in Ca'acupe with the sister trainer leaders in their apartment to avoid a few 30-40 minute bus rides back and forth from Ypacaraí and had a great time with them. Oh, and our district had 3 baptisms in between the sessions on Sunday! It was probably one of the only ways that we could have made conference even better.

I love you guys! Thanks so much for the birthday email! My comp and I are going to go celebrate with some ice cream and peanut butter. Please keep praying not just for my comp and me, but more importantly the people here in Paraguay!

With ALL of my love,
Hermana Jeppesen