Wowwww!!... This week has ben a great week to be alive and well in Paraguay!! :)
Changes are coming this week, I really can't believe how fast the time goes sometimes. But, our District was determined to finish off this change with a bang!! :) Full of once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, beautiful people, lovely Paraguay, and a Heavenly Father who is perfect and NEVER makes mistakes!!
Lets start with the BEST part! :) We went and spent a day with the native tribe called the MAKA, they are a native group here in Mariano. They are self sufficient and they are still very strong in their culture and traditions, they understand castellano (Spanish) and some speak it, but the native lanuage they speak is Maka.
They had a big celebration this last week for Mothers Day and also to celebrate the birthday of the "Chief's" wife and they decided to invite us. We decided that if we were all to go, it should have something also to do with missionary work, because after all that is why we are here :) So the Elders spoke to the leaders asking if we could take some time to share our message with them too... and they gave us the go! :D
Above photo of Maka people taken from the Internet
We walk in and EVERYONE is decorated in feathers, head dresses, beads, belts, painted faces, with instruments of every type.. what a sight!! :) Everyone was so warm, their smiles, their spirits, it felt surreal to be there. We met up with Saqueo (he is married to one of the Leaders daughters) and he brought us in, let us drop off our stuff and then he invited us to come and dance....
There was a big pole with banners and everything all around and everyone started forming a big circle and everyone participated in this dance, all singing in Maka, (It was like a scene in Pocahantas! but, I was John Smith!! Haha... the only blonde person there!! Haha!) It was so special!! Elder Carpio, Elder Caicedo, Elder Calderon, and I decided that we had to get in on some of that... so we entered the circle and danced with them and WOW, it was so awesome, I didn't want it to end!!
Then they took a break and the woman participated in their own dance, while all the men got together in their groups and began playing their instruments... and it all came together into a beautiful rythm and vibe that was so contagious. It was so beautiful to watch these people in their element and feel part of it!
They took a break in the afternoon to eat lunch, and we took that as our cue to return the favor and share something that is dear and special to us... :) It felt like we were in another world and another time :) All 7 of us missionaries stocked our bags full of folletos, Books of Mormon, pass along cards, and mouths and hearts ready to be opened and we grabbed our bags, split up and began to share what we had.
In that moment of mutual sharing and genuine affection, I could see just how beautiful and special every single one of these people really are, I felt like my eyes were fine tuned or replaced with more spiritual ones. We found a handful of people in particular that actually received our message and wanted more than the our brief summary, these people actually wanted to really know more and were maybe prepared to act on their interest! :)
I don't think a single one of us wanted to leave that day, it was just so special and so beautiful, and so surreal!! :)
To finish out our week, as a District, we decided that we all wanted to run the Puente Remanso, a long bridge that crosses the river. So our District Mariano, woke up at 5 o'clock this morning and we all met up at 5:30 to watch the sunrise and finish the last week we all have together strong.
Photo of Lauren's Zone and District
Lauren has loved this District!!
Lauren has loved this District!!
Talk about another surreal moment.... it just felt so good to be at the highest point of that bridge, over looking the river, with the sun coming up, surrounded by awesome missionaries. It just felt like a big animo (encouragement to the soul) boost from on high. I talked with one of the Elders and we had the conversation about, what if we never came out here... we wouldn't have gotten to experience ANY of this... the Maka celebration, the beautiful Paraguayan families that we love so much, this sunrise, and we would have never learned all of these beautiful lessons we have learned here on the mission. We wouldn't have come to know our Heavenly Father like we are coming to know him here and now.
I love this work!! This work is the Fathers, the Harvest is His! :) And we have the blessed opprotunity to thrust in the sickle and help Him with the best part! This work brings joy - pure, raw, genuine, lasting JOY! :) Why? Because it is something so beyond the superficial, it is salvation we are talking about. When we can help other people come to know and taste of the sweetness of the gospel, the richness of their Savior's love... we too, will feel that celestial joy in abundance. Look for missionary moments! :) They surround you! They do not have to be big things, they can be small.... after all, its by small and simple things that great things are brought to pass!!! (also read DC 64:23-24) Let us share our testimonies, in small and simple ways. Let us serve others, let us pray for these mometns and pray tyo recognize them as they come. I promise that as you do... you will taste something sweeter than sweet, a sweetness so special that it leaves you looking for moe- continuing to do the necessary to be able to have that special sweet addition to your life!
I love you guys:)