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Monday, August 18, 2014

Week #8 Sardines, Bucket Showers and Blessings

Let me start off by getting some of your questions out of the way. [Editor's Note: In our letters we include a numbered list of questions we would like him to answer. This week we included 6 questions, we got answers to two: Letters and Living Space]

Yes, I have received a few letters (family, Grandma, Lovells) and I did receive the package. It looks like it is taking 3-4 weeks for letters to arrive, and the package actually took just over 2 weeks. It probably helps being so close to the mission home. Remember anything that was sent to the MTC that I didn't get before I left, probably won't be forwarded on. I have sent out some letters in return through the post office so if my calculations are correct from the time you send me a letter to the time one gets returned you are looking at 6-8 weeks. I guess that means you should send me my birthday present now!

Buenos dias tardes y o noches personas quien leyendo me Cartas. The area in which I currently serve is called La Verde and I am in the District of Las Palmas. Elder Goodman and I are the only elders in my district. A fact that you might find interesting is that districts with only one companionship of elders are referred to as SoSo districts. Soso is a short way of saying relief society.

This area, I am told, is fairly large compared to other areas. I don't have anything to compare it to since it is my first. It covers everything from the Trinidad (where I am currently am writing from a netcafe and have just eaten at McDonalds) almost to the ocean. The Trinidad is the more modern part of Retalhuleu. Its were the bank grocery store and other amenities are located.

Transportation is a little different here then in the States. Everytime we travel we play a little game called sardines. We enter into a normal car and/or pickup and see just how many people can fit in before the door won't close. All 6' 4" of me isnt really good at this game. If my knees weren't going to be calised from praying - they will be from digging into seats, people and everything else that simply wasn't made for the tall person that I am. Pickups here are modified with handrails and guardrails so that people don't fall out - then people are stuffed in the bed and they pack-in what and who they can. Every Sunday one of the Hermanos in the ward goes around and picks up as many members as he can in his truck and drops them off at church. There are usually around 50 or 60 members in attendance each Sunday and about 40 or so of them are picked up by that pickup. Now that is service and getting to know and love your neighbor at one time!

Church services are pretty normal as compared to church back in Socal and The 'Fee. It is amazing just how uniform the church is in all parts of the world.

You were asking more about where we live. We live in a cinderblock house that "usually" has running water and "usually" has electricity. Sometimes the power does go out and sometimes the water doesn't work, sometimes it's both and sometimes it's for a few days. Like right now, we haven't had running water for the past couple days. I believe I have mastered the art of the bucket shower. I only have to use one bucket full.

We sadly do not have a "Mamita" at least not in the way dad describes it when he was in Chile. Hermana Alejandra is our landlady however, and she is one of the sweetest ladies ever and cooks for us all of the time, which is kinda cool. We do go over to the members houses for lunches.
My Spanish is coming along, I am at the point of when someone speaks I can understand most, if not all of it, which is nice. However the speaking part is much harder. It is interesting how I have come to recognize the Spirits hand in my understanding. We do a lot of "contacting" here and when we contact we usually end up teaching someone a lesson. I have noticed that when the spirit is present and things are going good I can understand everything that is said. But when and if the lesson or the conversations starts to head south my understanding flies out of the whole in the wall (I would say window but there aren't any). Once we hit that point I tap my comp and we know its time to end and leave.

This week we have 3 baptisms lined up and I have truly come to love each and everyone of these people. I am sure I have said before it is amazing to see the way the gospel changes the lives of these people. It is amazing to see the way they smile, when we come by and when they feel the Spirit.

Right now it is the rainy season in Guate and with that comes alot of temperature changes causing a lot of sickness to be going around. Since I have entered the mission field I have given or been apart of 15 blessings and every time I can see the effect of it on these people. I know I cant speak well and my companion, though very supportive, knows that I am the master of broken gringo spanish, but I still have the opportunity and when I give a blessing the words flow from my mouth straight from my heart. In those moments I am lucky to know even a fraction of the words that are coming from my mouth. I do know that when we open our mouths the lord will fill us with the words that will touch their hearts and give them the strength they need.

Yesterday we were going around picking up the people for stake conference - we headed down the road to pick up a sweet sweet little elderly sister. We were headed up the road back to the truck when we heard a *smack* we look back and see her lying there on the ground. She was doing all she could to keep breathing but was totally unresponsive as we tried to get her attention. At that moment, in the middle of a dirt road we gave her blessing - immediately after the blessing she regained herself slightly, then more and more within every moment. She was finally able to sit up and then when someone had suggested that she had better return home and rest. But she said, "No I'm going to church."

Every moment we are here we have the opportunity to teach, to testify, to heal the sick, to serve the children of our Heavenly Father and to change lives. There is no Place on earth I would rather be then in the service of my Lord.

1 comment:

  1. Elder Tong Dong,

    Great post/pictures. Keep up the good work!

    Secret to making more room in the vehicle more beans. Just saying.