March 30, 2015

Some News

Welp, it looks like the doctors here have done every possible test and procedure to try to help my companion, but nothing is working. She will be going home this transfer (luckily it's only one transfer early for her). She is such an amazing missionary and a great person, I know that the Lord must have other plans for her!

We spent a lot of this week traveling again. We went to Encarnacion and I went on divisions with Hna Moreno while Hna Dance crossed over to Argentina with the mission nurse. Then we came home and basically stayed inside all weekend. And yep. That was my week.

Something that I have really noticed while here on my mission is that people are complicated beings. Obviously. I guess I always "knew" that, but being out here has forced me to truly understand that idea. We meet thousands of people, and somehow we have to try to help them all. The interesting thing is that no matter what the problem is, or what the background is, or what plans this person has for the future, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the solution, is the way, is the only hope. When we live God`s commandments, we are happy. Period. No other explanation needed. Everyone can find lasting happiness through Jesus Christ`s atonement. And I`m not just saying that. I am grateful to my Father in Heaven that He has given me this opportunity as a missionary to see this in action. The Gospel of Jesus Christ truly can change a person, can fix problems, can make ANYONE happy.

That`s why the prophet Alma said he was commanded to "preach unto my beloved brethren, yea, and every one that dwelleth in the land; yea, to preach unto all, both old and young, both bond and free; yea, I say unto you the aged, and also the middle aged, and the rising generation; yea, to cry unto them that they must repent and be born again."

We can never judge who will and will not accept the Gospel- God knows His children. He knows that the Gospel of Jesus Christ will benefit every single one. And I know that too. I love you all!

Have a good week and LISTEN TO GENERAL CONFERENCE!!! Woohoo!
Hermana Simmons

P.S. Yeah, there are tons of Catholics here. So the entire week before Easter is called "Semana Santa" or "Holy Week." I`m not super familiar with all the traditions since this is my first year here, but I`ll be sure to let you know next week after we`ve passed through it all! What I do know is that everybody makes bucketloads of chipa (it`s a cheesy bread made with mandioca flour) because it doesn't require leavening, just like the passover.  (Click here to see another definition of chipa)

my companion Hermana Dance and I. We were at the multi-zone conference this past wednesday. 
We even got to dye easter eggs!

we went and visited the itaipu dam (see also here) as a zone today. the colectivo we were riding in crossed the parana river and i was in brazil! woohoo! i have been in four countries so far while set apart as a missionary (the U.S., Argentina, Paraguay, and Brazil!)

March 24, 2015


This week has been a little crazy.

So, my companion has been sick. We decided to go to Posadas in Argentina to see if the doctors there knew any better what was going on. We got to Encarnacion (a 6 hour colectivo ride, yuck), and found out that Hna Dance`s passport was in Asuncion. Long story short, we ended up staying with the Sisters in Encarnacion from Wednesday to Friday, and never were able to cross the border. So we got back on a bus and came home.

Even though we weren`t able to work much in our area this week, we had some fantastic lessons! We met again with the woman named Liz. We talked to her about how Heavenly Father called Joseph Smith as a prophet, and we still have a prophet today to lead and guide us and speak to God. She told us that she had always wondered why God would call prophets in the past but then not for us. My companion explained Joseph Smith`s first vision, and the Spirit was so strong that she started to cry, and we all started tearing up. After Hna Dance shared her testimony, Liz looked at us and told us "I believe it." Then she asked us to pray so that the next time we go to visit her husband will want to sit in and listen as well.

Okay, that was amazing lesson number one. Here comes lesson number two. We`ve been going to the doctor a lot here in Ciudad del Este, in centro. Today was going to be one of the last doctor visits, so Hna Dance decided to take a Book of Mormon and give it to the doctor as a gift. At the end of the consultation, she pulled out the book and gave it to him, explaining that it was a gift and is the reason we both left to serve missions here in Paraguay. He looked a little surprised, then (to our surprise) opened the book immediately and began asking questions "So what is mormon? Who is Josè Smit? Do you believe in Jesus Christ? Do you think he will come again?" We were still in his doctor`s office, so we hadn`t been planning on teaching him a lesson or sharing a spiritual thought, but we did our best to answer the questions he had. We even told him that the church has two websites ( and and he pulled out his laptop and asked us to show them to him. We couldn`t stay much longer, so we just decided to show him the video "Because of Him." We felt the Spirit testifying of Jesus Christ SO STRONGLY. He still had more questions, but we realized it had been 1 hour and 45 minutes!!! A very long time. So we explained how he could contact the missionaries close to his house or chat with them online and then we left. It was amazing to see how someone we hadn`t really even considered sharing with had so much interest in the church.

This is why I am on a mission:
"And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children(and the people of Paraguay and Argentina!!!) may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins." 2 Nephi 25:26

I love you all! I know Christ lives and that the Book of Mormon testifies of Him! 
Hermana Simmons

ps-Happy Birthday to my adorable niece Tinley!!! Woohoo! We both turn one year old this week!

March 16, 2015

Happy Monday!

Well, Hna Dance had her surgery on Friday and it all went well! So hopefully this week we`ll be able to hear the results and see what has been going on. Due to the surgery we were stuck inside the pension basically all day Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. It is so nice to be able to breathe fresh air and not be stuck inside anymore!

For those of you who remember, when I was in Pdte Franco we were meeting a lot with a woman named Laura and her son Arn. I was just informed that both of them were baptized on Saturday! So thank you for all your prayers and support from home.

One of the things about being in the pension a lot this week is that we have been able to notice what works well and is nice, and what we should probably get fixed. For example, the air conditioning is a life saver. However, our kitchen smells like there is a dead animal somewhere in the piping. And yeah, that`s not actually an exaggeration. Walking around in Ciudad we know what dead animal smells like, and that`s the smell coming from our kitchen sink.

The other day right before leaving to work I felt like I should grab a few copies of The Family: A Proclamation to the World. We don`t normally carry those with us, but for some reason the thought kept coming into my head, so I packed one. While we were out walking, Hna Dance and I didn`t want to just start clapping at doors. So we decided to try and think if any specific person or house came to mind. Hna Dance said that we could try talking to a family that we had seen sitting outside before. So we went, and the woman let us in right away! Her name is Liz and she told us that she and her boyfriend are both Catholic, but can`t get remarried in the Catholic church because he is divorced from a previous marriage (yeah, I don`t really get it either). Anyway, they are both experiencing a lot of criticism and rudeness from people at their church. They both have lots of faith in Christ and want to have a strong, united family. She told us that they have considered looking for another church, but if they change religions they want to make sure that it is the true church of God, because if not they might as well keep going to their Catholic church she said. I was able to pull out the Family pamphlet and we shared our testimonies with her about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and how it can help her family. We definitely felt the Spirit, and we will be going back to see them this week!

3 Nephi 9:14 Yea, verily I say unto you, if ye will come unto me ye shall have eternal life. Behold, mine arm of mercy is extended towards you, and whosoever will come, him will I receive; and blessed are those who come unto me.

I know Christ is always waiting for us. Always. We just have to make the decision to turn to Him for support and help. As soon as we begin to obey and follow His example, He can begin to bless and guide us. I love my Savior Jesus Christ! Through Him I know I can return to live with my Heavenly Father.

Love you all!
Hermana Simmons

March 09, 2015

Happy Monday!

My companion, Hermana Dance, has been feeling pretty sick lately. She has an allergy to gluten, so she can´t eat any of the bread or wheat products that people give us. I, trying to be a supportive companion, have also decided to give up noodles, empanadas, rolls, pizza, tortillas, facturas, cookies, etc... Not too fun, but we are eating a lot more vegetables and fruits at lunches now to help make up those lost calories. Woohoo, health. She has to go in for a surgery this week, so if you could keep her in your prayers that would be great.

Sunday nobody was home, so we walked a lot in search of a discussion. We decided to arrive about an hour early to our one scheduled appointment of the night, in the hopes that she would be home. She was (miracle!) and we were able to talk about the blessings of the temple. She was really interested. Right now she is living with her boyfriend, but lately they have been talking more and more about marriage and baptism, whereas before they were just kind of, well, living together without any commitments. It was beautiful to feel the Spirit testify of eternal families and temple blessings.

We also met a lady this week named Gladys. She told us that a few months ago she found out that her husband has been cheating on her, and he brought his pregnant girlfriend home. Gladys told us that she is no one to judge and knows that holding grudges is not something that Heavenly Father wants us to do. She felt really sad about her husband, but wanted to overcome these feelings of betrayal and anger. So she let her husband AND her husband´s girlfriend AND their new baby live in their house for quite a few months! She says she is really sad about her husbands choices, but now she gets along well with them and she just hopes that one day her husband will come back to her and her kids and repent. So the next time you are angry at someone, just remember there is absolutely no situation that we can´t overcome if we put our mind to it! We never have an excuse to hold grudges or hate other people.

I have been playing the piano for the ward choir the past few weeks, and that has been fun to see everyone learn new songs and hear their progress.

Fun random Paraguayan facts? People will play volleyball or soccer, and the winning team gets a pig or a cow. Lots of times we´ll see a cow tied up next to a soccer field as we are out walking.

Also, there is a game here called pikivoli. It´s volleyball, but you aren´t allowed to use your arms. Mostly just the men play this sport. They use their head, chest, knees, and feet to keep the ball going. it´s super weird to see and looks kind of painful (okay, it looks really painful).

Just thought I´d share this scripture!
Romans 8:28: And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Have a wonderful week!
Sister Simmons

ps- I ordered a name tag in Guarani! I´ll send you pictures when I can, but it says

March 08, 2015

Ciudad del Este

Alright, I am officially working here in Ciudad del Este with Hermana Dance. It has been a pretty exciting first few days. CdE is right on the border of Argentina and Brazil, so the downtown center is HUGE (see web photos here). Also, apparently it is a more dangerous area, so on the weekends we are supposed to get home an hour early. At first I didn’t really think it was necessary, and then we got to my first Sunday night here and I was pretty happy to be going inside at 8:30 haha.

Our pension here is on the FOURTH FLOOR. We have to climb up so many stairs. So. many. stairs. Plus, all of the heat and humidity from the rooms below us rise up and stay in our pension. and the sun is right above us. So it gets a little hot in the apartment. Luckily we have an air conditioning unit in our bedroom that we turn on during studies and while we sleep. Just so you get an idea, we have the AC unit set to 70. But after walking around in the kitchen and bathroom, our bedroom feels like a freezer! It seriously feels so cold, and I sometimes want to put on a sweater during studies because my body is used to walking around in 95° weather all day, and then our apartment is (due to the trapped heat) probably around 100°.

The ward here is HUGE! There are about 150 to 200 people who come every Sunday. It caught me way off guard. I’ve been working in branches of about 10-30 people my whole mission. Even though Presidente Franco was a ward technically, only about 45-50 people showed up. It will be a weird adjustment.

We have been walking and contacting a lot of people these past few days. I just love Paraguayans!  Everyone is so friendly and lots of people here have shown interest in our message. The other night we went to visit a pair of sisters that Hna Dance and her old companion had been teaching for a while. We read from the Book of Mormon together, and then they invited us to some of their homemade empanadas! That was a good lesson, spiritually and temporally :) Someday I will make you all empanadas.

These past few months I have had a question and been really praying and fasting a lot to have it answered. I had been thinking about this question for such a long time, I was worried that I would never receive an answer. But then I remembered how Heavenly Father has answered my prayers in the past, and even though it might take some time, He ALWAYS listens and responds. And finally this last Sunday, after praying and asking and consulting with God, I decided to open my Book of Mormon and just continue reading where I had left off from my studies. It was exactly the answer to my question! I was so happy! I know God hears and answers prayers, and He will always provide us with what we need as we pray diligently and with sincerity!

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: for every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
Matthew 7:7-8

Have a great week!

Hermana Simmons