August 25, 2014

This Week...

This week was an exciting week of animals!

1) We visited with a woman who has a ton of huge trees in her backyard, and there are a ton of little monkeys that love to play around up there. While we were talking with her, one even came down and started playing around in the dog house at the foot of the tree!

2) There are parrots everywhere here! I got to hold one. It was fantastic.

3) There is a lizard that lives in our apartment building (not actually inside our apartment, but out in the hallway). He only comes out at night. I'm not sure why I felt like this was an important point to clarify, but I have already typed it out and it's not worth erasing.

Also, we often have to ride public buses to get from one of our areas to another. These buses want to make as much money as possible, so they always let as many people on the bus as will physically fit. This week my companion and I got on the bus (not realizing how full it was), and had to stay standing up front, on the stairs that lead up to the bus. Then more people wanted to get on. Rather than telling them no, the bus driver and his assistant asked my companion and I to take a seat- on the dashboard! It was awesome. So for about 25 minutes Hna Garci­a and I had a front row view of the road because we got to sit up front right next to the driver.

Sometimes I feel like I get into a routine of just doing things without real purpose behind them. I have been working a lot lately on trying to put a real sincerity behind all that I do. Faith without works is dead, but I think works without faith is empty. Mosiah 4:10"And again, believe that ye must repent of your sins and forsake them, and humble yourselves before God; and ask in sincerity of heart that he would forgive you; and now, if you believe all these things see that ye do them."

I love you all!
Hermana Simmons


Alayna has been filling me in from time to time with updates about "pre-mission" people. it's interesting to see what everyone decides to do with their life once they´re "grown up". my companion turns 21 this upcoming week and we both think it is the weirdest thing that we are both (well, i'm almost) in our 20s. we both still feel 17 or 18. and it's weird to think that taylia is 14! and in high school! and going to stake dances! you'll definitely have to keep an eye on her and keep her out of trouble. i'm pretty dang sure that the boys are going to be all over her because she is so dang cute and funny. so make sure you and mom keep her on a short leash (haha don't tell her i said that)
love you all!

ummmm.... yeah. my mosquito bites have mosquito bites. (i totally wish that was just an exaggeration, but unfortunately it's not).  And yeah, that was basically my first "official" sight-seeing trip. but honestly, all of paraguay is so gorgeous that everyday just out tracting is awesome.

Our investigator Malena has pet parrots. They are stinking cute.

It is very green here. Also, i have no idea why everything is so crooked in this picture- my head, my nametag, etc... haha

August 18, 2014


Wow this week flew by!
On Saturday Paraguay celebrated Dia del Niño. Apparently, in Paraguay's past they were fighting a war with Brazil. Paraguay's troops had been depleted substantially, but instead of giving in to Brazil, the Paraguay king armed a lot of the country's children (between 6 and 8 years old) with armor and weapons and sent them out to fight. That day hundreds of children died, so now they hold Dia del Niño to honor all the children who fought. We ate a lot of cakes and snacks at the Church in the Primary activity. It was lots of fun, but at the end of the day the story behind the holiday is still upsetting.
The great thing about being here is that nobody uses recipes or measuring cups or anything exact in the kitchen. I'm learning how to cook from all my companions and the members. Hopefully when I get home I'll be able to survive on more than just the quesadillas and PBJ sandwiches I used to eat all the time at BYU!
Today we went to the Ruins in here in Trinidad. All of our Mission Zone (about 10 companionships) went together. It was super interesting and amazing. The ruins are from an old church and colony of Guaranis-Jesuits or something like that. It was hard to keep all the facts and stories straight considering everything here is in Spanish, and my vocabulary is mostly limited to Gospel-related topics haha. But it was still a very fun afternoon!
Lately I have been taking a lot of comfort in the scripture Isaiah 52:7 "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth." We walk a lot here. A LOT. And with all the walking come some pretty fantastic blisters and callouses. But the message we carry is a lot more important than some unsightly feet!
Love you all! Hope you have a great week!

Hermana Simmons

My companion (Hermana Garcia) and me!

my "mom" and "grandma" haha 3 generations! (my trainer Hna Tapia and her trainer Hna Crump)

the old chapel (it´s huge)

just me!

August 11, 2014

Another Week

Not much to write about this week. Hermana Garci­a and I have just been working, walking, and teaching. a lot.  (She is my second Latin companion. She's way nice.)
The fantastic part about being in Paraguay is all the fruit. Also, our apartment came with a blender. Every morning I drink a smoothie with fresh mango, coconut, or banana. 
Also, I got to ride in a car the other day! A real car! Not a smelly, nasty city bus, or a run-down taxi, but an actual car! I had forgotten that they existed. It's strange to realize now how incredibly convenient my life has been. And still is. I have grown a lot more accustomed to how most people here live, and it has only been 3 months. I’m a little nervous that after 18 months I am going to come back to the U.S. feeling completely out of place. My whole life I kind of laughed at the idea of the "awkward returned missionary," but now I can tell that that is going to be me!

The only thing that has been a bit of an inconvenience is that our power went out the other day and we haven't been able to get it turned back on. That means no refrigeration, no hot water, no lights when it gets dark, etc... Whenever I start to feel frustrated I just remind myself that this is all part of one big adventure. When else in my life will I ever get to say that I took a freezing cold shower in Paraguay? Or walked over an hour to tell someone that I know we have a prophet on the earth today? Or learned an entirely new language basically by just speaking and listening and lots and lots of prayer? Never! I am learning a lot and growing a lot and hopefully I will be able to become a better person by the end of it all.
Wow, sorry my letter is kind of all over the place! But I hope everybody is doing well! When do they break ground for the Meridian temple? Are they going to do any kind of celebration? Also, how long do they think it will take to build?
Found this scripture the other day, and I absolutely love it. Thought I’d share it. "Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh: is there anything too hard for me?" Jeremiah 32:27

Love you all!
Hermana Simmons

I always love your letters!
I love you and hope you are enjoying work! Eat a couple of s'mores for me! (marshmallows don't actually exist here)
Hermana Simmons


Here I am with Mariela and Fernando and their family! When I left Santo Tome we had taught Fiorela (the older daughter) and Macarena (the younger sister). The two of them had baptismal dates. We also had started to work more with Sebastian. They are awesome!!!!

Here I am with my Paraguayan Zone. We went out for pizza after a zone meeting. The Hermana sitting next to me is Hna Garcia, my companion!

i have been trying to send this picture FOREVER. i took it back in June.

Hna Tapia and I found this grafitti back in Santo Tome. If missionaries did grafitti, it would look like this.

In argentina, overlooking paraguay

August 05, 2014

I finally made it to Paraguay!!!

Okay, a lot has happened this past week. I will try to be brief and answer all the questions I have been getting this week.
I am currently in Paraguay, near the Parana River. My area covers a couple of cities (Hohenau, Obligado, Trinidad, Bella Victoria, Los Colonos). We live in Hohenau, but the church is in Obligado, so technically the name of this area is "Obligado Paraguay".

Something unique about Paraguay is that it is the birthplace of chipa. Chipa is a cheesy breadstick that is about one of the most delicious things that a person can eat. And the Paraguayans eat it about every day haha. In the collectivo terminal there are dozens of vendors just walking around with baskets full of chipa, or other homebaked products, trying to sell their items.

Also, the Paraguayans have a very distinct accent. Imagine a person speaking Spanish with a perfect "Spanish" accent, but with a very American "R" sound. Most Spanish speakers do not emphasize the "r" (they pronounce it almost as a "d" sound), but here in Paraguay, yes they do emphasize the r. It's hard to explain, but it is one of the most unique sounding accents that I have ever heard. I had to restrain myself from bursting out in laughter the first time I heard the people around me speaking.

Yes, they speak Guarani here. Probably about 80 or 90 percent of the population knows Guarani, but everyone speaks Spanish as well, so it is not as if I actually have to learn Guarani. But my companion and I have been learning a few words and phrases for fun. 

My new companion is Hermana Garci­a. She is from Mexico and started her mission the exact same day I did! But she has more time in the field since she only stayed in the MTC 12 days because she already speaks Spanish. She is very good with the people and super nice. We have been focusing on improving my spanish and trying to teach her some basic english.

This area is basically a dream for me. Santo Tome wasn´t awful or anything, but Obligado is amazing. Our apartment actually has a microwave and a blender!!!!!!! And nobody lives below us so we can actually do some real excersizing in the mornings! Plus, my area is so big I get a little bit of everything- Obligado is like a really nice city, Trinidad is very calm and similar to Santo Tome, Los Colonos definitely feels like I am in South America. But everything is beautiful and the people here are super friendly. 

Something that lots of missionaries here talk about is the "humble hammer." Meaning, that basically for a year and a half or two years being a missionary, God is constantly reminding us how much we depend and rely on Him. There is absolutely now way I (or any missionary) can survive and enjoy the mission if we are not wholly devoted to Him. Jacob 4:7 "No obstante, el Senor Dios nos manifiesta nuestra debilidad para que sepamos que es por su gracia y sus grandes condescendencias para con los hijos de los hombres por las que tenemos poder para hacer estas cosas."

Love you all! Have a fantastic week :)

Hermana Simmons

ps- haha sorry i dont have my english scriptures with me and i don't have time to look up the scripture online. can you just erase the spanish verse and replace it with the english one?