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Monday, August 25, 2014

Week #9: Murphy's Law, S'mores and Philippians 4:13



Let me start off by answering your questions:
1. How do you wash your clothes?
Answer: We pay a sister in the ward to do our laundry, if we need something done quick, we use the sink/bathtub/bucket combo that I sent you a picture of to do it.
2. What kind of animals do you see in your daily adventures? Dad wants to know specifically if you have seen any monkeys but he always asks everyone that.  
Answer: No no monkeys, there are an abundance of stray dogs, and chicken/turkey/roosters everywhere.  I will include a picture of some peculiar birds I see up a tree near our house.
3. What about creepy, crawly insect life? 
Answer: More to mention here, maybe I will dedicate a week to just insect tales and pictures.
4. Where is your companion from?
Answer: Junction City, Oregon

This week has been a jam packed week in the service our the lord in Retalhuleu. I honestly don't even know where to begin. There is so much that goes on here and my head is spinning trying to keep up with it all.  I feel so much love for the people of Guatemala and am so happy to be here serving them.

As of this week I can finally talk, and I think most people understand, at least the expression on their face looks a little less confused and just in time as I was asked to give a talk this last sunday. I dont know if anyone understood me but I gave them my best shot at a talk in spanish.

There have been a lot of ups and downs this week.  We were doing baptismal interviews for the majority of the week. My companion, Elder Goodman, as district leader, is in charge of doing the interviews for the Hermanas in our district as well as for the zone leaders. These interviews took up a large portion of the week and more often than not when we crossed the city to an appointment that we did have schedule it had fallen through. Kinda funny just how often this happened and we simply learned to laugh it all off.

The electricity been off in our area for a large portion of the week (hence the request for more solar lights) making things interesting.   Some days when we hit a rough spot, we make s'mores using candles.  Nothing lifts one spirits better than a prayer seeking strength (Alma 37:36-37), and breaking out the s'mores in the middle of Guatemala.

There was a lot to bring us down this week.  Friday morning the son of hermano Hugo passed away.  He was only 4 months old.  It was hard waking up friday morning and my comp telling me that he had passed. We had a meeting that morning in the Concepcion area - after we went back home, and as we got ready to leave to go and tell the ward about the funeral service,  a storm started and it was the worst storm I have seen yet.  We needed to tell the members so we grabbed our rain gear and boots and headed out.  We told all those in the general area and then started to head up the road to the other members. After about the first kilometer the downpour of rain had soaked my pants and through my pants it soaked into my boots. I started to squish all the way down the road.  Eventually we were able to hitch a ride up to the next city. After we had told everyone we went to the service it was sad to see all of these people crying. Death is kinda  weird thing to experience as a member of the church, and with the faith and knowledge that we have. Through the gospel we know that we will be able to see and live with our families again and it gives us the comfort we need to push on in moments like those.

At the end of the night Hugo asked my companion if he would dedicate the grave the following morning and so we did. There is a tradition here in Guatemala that when someone dies, the family and friends of the person all walk with the casket through the city to the cemetery. I can only imagine how it looked to see Elder Goodman and I, a couple of fairly tall white guys walking with a group of Guatemalans through the streets.  When we got to the cemetery Elder Goodman and I carried the casket to the grave and after all of the prayers were said we put him into the ground.  It was a sad day to witness and I hope that I won't have anymore of these on the mission.

Later this same day we had three baptisms; Jeremy, Hilder and Cynthia.  This is when Murphy's Law or the power of the adversary took effect, in making things much more difficult than they should have been. We had had a full schedule all week long and didn't have time to give the members too big of a notice about the baptism.  As we ran around to let the members of the ward know (sure is a lot easier when you can call, text and put a notice on the ward facebook page - which of course we can't, we use our feet and our mouths), we were chastised by some for the short notice. When it came time to load up the pickup truck, the member who normally does it was out working. We scrambled to find another person for transport, and ended up turning to one of our investigators who thankfully could do it.  Once he was ready we made our rounds picking up everyone and started to head over to the Las Palmas building for the baptism. Eli was running out of gas so we had to go and fill up.  We were waiting at the gas station behind a truck who had brought multiple 55 gallon barrels to fill up and we had to wait quite a while for him to finish.   As we got to the building to set everything up, we come to find that the font doors were locked and no one had the keys. At this point we loaded everyone up again and headed over to the Concepcion building, where the  zone leaders were doing a baptism - so everything was open and they had the baptismal clothes that we needed. But wait there is still more.  We start the program and when it comes time to go down into the font for the baptisms, the door somehow got locked.  Nobody had the keys here either so Elder Goodman ends up jumping over the glass into the font from the front side in front of members investigators and the President of the Branch, slicing his toe open in the process.  (He is not hurt bad, just a sliced toe in case any of those missionary mom's are reading this, we don't tell you the real scary things...).

Jeremy's baptism with me went fine. I headed out and got changed. When I came back out there was chaos as apparently Cynthia was scared of the water and started crying.   After using Hilder as an example we finally got her to calm down and she was baptized.

I guess there are many things to be learned from this week... anything that could have gone wrong seemed to go wrong, isn't that Murphy's Law?  Maybe it was a lesson about "not to sweat the small stuff" or maybe it is that old Indian saying, "Everything will be all right in the end...if it's not all right then it's not the end!"   In the end the baptisms were completed and all was well.  But I believe, or better said, I know that it is really that "with God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26) and "I [we] can do all things in Christ which strengthens me." (Philippians 4:13)

Peculiar avian wildlife that inhabits near-by trees.

If only California had some of this thing which we call rain...this is a daily occurrence.


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