You can find out more about missionary work and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints here: www.mormon.org/values/missionary-work

Monday, December 14, 2015

Week #77: Birthday, Christmas Videos and True Love = Beef Jerky


   



 Anxious is the life, but good is this the life of the anxiously engaged. This week has been a week of being all over the place and data and experiences that cant be expressed in paper or virtual paper as is the case.

     It's Christmas time which always means extra work especially when we have to teach everyone why they are celebrating Christmas. Last year I didn't really notice just how few people understand why we celebrate Navidad but now it is so obvious that I don't understand how I could not have seen it before.  Maybe this shows my own state of mind, where my head, hearth and spirit are in this Christmas season.
      As the assistants of the mission have instructed we have been doing activities in every area sharing the new Christmas videos. The first activity was in Pedregal. Here we decided to go to the maxi despensar which is kinda like a Walmart here in Guate or at least as close as it gets.  There with the equipment from the office we set up a projector and the laptop with some nice big speakers and then became missionaries and brought family by family to see the videos and share quick little messages with them. We did an activity like this in every area in the districts of every zone of every mission. Everyone of this activities went well for the most part. then came ours....just like always anything that can go wrong will go wrong. so ours was actually quite a bit more complicated than any other activitys. For one it was in a finca that doesn't have any real roads to it. 2) has absolutely no electrical power. 3) it is out of the way and to bring everyone together out there when no one has a phone is something very very hard. After much work we arranged for a truck to take us there. A generator to be borrowed from a member in the stake and as normal all of the the office equipment with us.  After what seemed like the slowest truck ride of my life we made it to the finca and just as we get all of the bugs worked out with the equipment and sound and generator on queue it starts to rain.....however after all was said and done, the activity was still a success and everything went moderately well.   After the activity was over we were walking back to Asintal with some of the people who had come from another finca....Turns out this other finca is in just about the same situation that is, Bunch of people no church and they all are more or less feeling like something is missing in their lives.
    There really are not any holidays in the mission.  That is one thing I have come to accept or maybe its not that there are not holidays, but that holidays just don't feel the same here in the mission.  Sin embargo, this was a special birthday I was able to celebrate here.   There is a family here in the branch that really is our family here. Like we go over here whenever we don't have food to eat, if we need to go and teach with someone or if we need to set up skype calls with our parents for the Christmas. I like this family so much I share my beef jerkey with them (and that is true, eternal love when you share your beef jerky) they are our family and its awesome being around them. As normal Friday night we didn't really have any food so we went over to their house ate and then they broke out a nice ice cream cake...(which is the first ice cream cake I have seen here is Guatemala). it was amazing!

Thanks to all for the special birthday wishes, and for keeping me in your thoughts and prayers!







We always ask how his shoes are holding up...looks like they are starting to show their wear and tear...but rocking the socks.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Week #76: Ha nacido un Salvador

 



    Well another week come and gone. Time only goes faster and faster the older you get. But there are some hints of technological progress in the mission. I guess with the all of the new videos coming out in the last two years someone thought it might be a good idea to have some way to share these beautiful videos that the church is letting out.  You are probably thinking, 'The Missionary Department's iPad program has finally made it's way to Guatemala?!'...no that is not quite the case...
       Wednesday we had yet another meeting to get us ready for the Christmas season and the new videos that the church has launched....speaking of that I have to change the homepage of all the computers in this Internet cafe.....one sec....alright. So https://www.mormon.org/spa/navidad?cid=HP_SU_11-29-2015_dMIS_fSPC_xLIDyL1-A_ is being put into every Internet cafe that every missionary goes to throughout this month.  This didn't come down by any formal direction, it just seems like a little something we can do "outside of the box".    This is in part as always to get the church better known and Christ in the minds of all as they go throughout this great season were we focus on him and his life. In addition every district leader has been given a DvD player to use to share these new videos and to use during district meetings so that we can better inspire the missionaries in the mission to work and work and work.  It kind of feels like cheating to use videos to teach. But I guess that is the way the world is moving and pretty soon missionaries that can teach are going to be replaced with missionaries that can push buttons.
     This week has been a beautiful week. I don't really understand why it is so easy to forget where I am and the incredible simple beauty that this country has, that I am actually here in Guatemala. But there there are weeks like this one were we go and find an area so beautiful and its just like wow....I cant believe we are actually here. It is something so....I don't know somethings just cant be expressed.
     Friday we made a little trek out to the finca [ranch] with a good chunk of the zone.  It was kinda funny because none of us knew where this finca is so we had to rely on a 11 year old member to be our guide and take us to where we needed to go. By some miracle we made it and as we walked down the path we split off in twos to go and teach each of the houses. When Sunday came around 28 of them came to church and stayed until the block was over.   They are some good people.
    I have learned some knew life skills here on the mission.  I will let the pictures tell you the thousands words about such life skills.
    Well things are weird this change.   Wednesday we have changes and then starts a full two month change. There was some kinda problem sending people home and bringing them into the mission so close to Christmas time.   I don't think I or my comp will be having changes [transfers], which is great as we still have much work to do and  for crying out loud we just finally got moved out of the old moldy house and into the new one house!
    Anyways its my birthday this week and I thought I would celebrate Guatemalan style! Tamales and Fireworks! just need to find someone to make some tamales!   Thank you all so much for your birthday wishes!

The life skills one learns in Guate!
Watch out Colonel Sanders..we are coming for you!



Monday, November 30, 2015

Week #75: Turkey Day, Temple Trip and Christmas Lights

Things are always fun around the Holidays - it makes one a little bit baggy, but none the less very fun.

About a month ago Pres. Ruiz decided that all of us in the mission should learn to celebrate the american tradition of Turkeyday and decided every zone should have turkey, pies and some canned cranberry stuff. He also made it an official commandment that we must have mashed potatos. So we had an official turkey day. All of us headed over to the office of the mission and started on our Thanksgiving meal prep at about 10am in the morning.   By 1pm we had finally finished with the mashed potatos,  Luckily,  the turkey and everything else had come pre-made....if not we would have been there for a long long time.  We ate together as a zone and had our little, 'what are you thankful for' part of the meal and it was all very nice. Definitely not like the ones back home, but it was nice, created memories that I will have and cherish forever.

Before we had turkey day we kinda jumped out of order and went Christmas caroling at the old folks nursing home.  It was a very interesting experience considering after we had finished our second song one of the old men there suddenly fell out of his chair, hit the floor as hard as a rock and remained there on the ground. We were all thinking did we really just kill an old man with Christmas carols?  He ended up being fine but we were are a little bit anxious to get out of there after that.

On Friday we had a great baptism....In  Guate there isn't always (rarely even) warm water to fill up the baptismal font with so we had to improvise...this meant using our "state of the art" electric stoves to head up bucket after bucket of water until the font was a mild lukewarm. With all of the work we were doing with that we didn't notice that the water wasn't really very...clear... until we had quite a bit of it in there.  This wasn't the first time that had such a problem, so we quickly ran over to the tienda and grabbed some blue water coloring powder (all that they had) and proceeded to pour that into the water until it was more blue than brown. It made things interesting but our branch president was awesome and was helping us the entire way!

Saturday we had a rather rare experience so far as things go in the mission. I dont know if President Ruiz is being a little more open to letting people go to the temple or he has just kinda gotten sick of me asking but he gave us permission to go to the temple with our branch. We went and did baptisms for the dead which was very special since we were the ones baptizing and confirming the people. It was kinda like doing practicas of teaching but rather something a little more special and real.

Last night we put up the Christmas tree. It wasn't in our house but rather in a super pilas family´s. Either way I was just kinda excited to think that I probably put up the Christmas lights before you guys did back home.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Week #74: Tuc Tuc strike, rain and more rain.


   

     There has always been a little saying in the mission. Those who start in Las Palmas will end in Las Palmas. This just might be true. After a little more than a year I am back here in Las Palmas, in an Area/Branch called Asintal.   It is just a short ride from my first area in the mission. It honestly is a really weird experience to be back here where I started the mission. I see all of these places that I knew so long ago and all a still the same but wow.... Days like today going around and seeing all of these things just takes me back to the time I was here I feel almost like some of the people that were here in the mission will pass by us at any moment but everything is different...or maybe I just am.

     My new companion is Elder Fairbanks, who is relatively new to the mission. He just finished his training and the mission has already thrown various challenges at the poor fella between the horrible ingrown toenails and a bike ride gone bad he has already had quite the adventure. Just last change he crashed on his bike and broke his arm in 3 places...Ouch...but he wants to be a physical therapist when he grows up so I guess this is on the job training in many ways.
   
    Things have been insane this week, insanely busy and wonderful.  From Guate trips to visiting La Verde to having a Mission leaders meeting to getting soaked day after day this week.
    It kind of sets in just how old someone is in the mission when you can go out in the rain and keep your socks dry. Its honestly pretty funny. The days when my feet are still somewhat dry and few and far between. that and every one of my shirts seems to have a little bit of character to them.
   This week we had so much going on and miracles passing in the area. Though as normal, many problems came our way as well but these things were nothing compared to the great things.
   Monday last week was a little weird. One of the main ways that we travel here in Reu is using Tuc Tucs. However things have become a little dangerous for them. There has been a group of people extorting the tuc tuc companies and causing harm to those who do not comply.   Subsequently, all of the tucs went on strike for 5 days until the govt decided to take serious action for these men. This also meant a lot of walking for us and everyone else as the problem settled down.
   Just about every day this week it has rained none stop from 3pm until 7pm at night. This whole walking on water trick kinda gets old after a while, but at least everyone knows we bathe at least once a day in the rain. One of my cheesy jokes of the moments; people always ask us, 'How have you guys been?' as they see us soaking wet at their door-step.   We then respond,  "Wet! But that is OK because we brought a little shampoo with us and saved some time by bathing in the rain."   It is kinda my go to ice breaker at the moment and from there its pretty easy to get into the house and have a nice lesson. It even works on those who don't really want to let us in.

   Food is something very important and apparently not just to me. (Btw Mom I miss you and have always loved your cooking!) We have some golden investigators that really love food. You see last week we had a conference broadcast to all of central america. We brought quite a few investigators to this.  However, two of them after the conference seemed to just be avoiding us. The conference took place at 1-3pm which means we had to take a bus at 12 to get to the church building.   For almost the entire week we just couldn't get in contact with these guys. But finally on a rainy day we managed to get into their house and talk to them. Turns out they were kinda ticked there wasn't any food at the conference and didn't appreciate the impromptu fast......We told the we were sorry and invited them to go to the temple with the branch on Saturday. I think we fixed up the bridge we might have burned....I knew we should have brought some snack for them....I just thought it was my stomach talking (because we were fasting) turns out it was the spirit.
    There is a moment in the Best Two Years movie were Elder Calhoon gives a Book of Mormon to a man with his phone number and the guy says he is going to call him....We kinda had one of these exact moments...It was an awesome, once in a mission moment, that was more than incredible and I could not of been happier with its timing.  More on that later.

Well that is all for now!  I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Week #72: Have you seen any monkeys? Yes! Why yes I have!



Well changes are at the door and although one never knows for sure until you are at the change meeting, I think I will be having changes.  Normally at about this time I start to feel a little antsy for what the changes and challenges will be but this is just a part of the life we live in these 2 years.

Miracles continue to come forth. After nearly 72 weeks in the mission there has been only one thing more constant than the the missionary work or the tortillas at lunch. This constant comes weekly and just about as constant as the sun rises. It is the question as posed by my family , ¨have you seen any monkeys yet?¨ well I can finally answer yes!  His name is Paco and he likes tortillas and tamales!

Really though,  a lot of miracles are coming in the area of Magnolia  lately. Magnolia is known as that shady spot in town that everyone just kinda avoids. I don't really think you could blame them though, a shady spot in Guate is awfully.... active.   Finding a family is a very hard task in a place like this. In my entire time here we have only found 4 families (that is to say complete with a father and a mother who want to receive us and do not have another family)  three of them were found in this last two weeks. (This is one of the reasons I think I might have changes.  When you find success...you seem to end of up getting transferred.)
 
This week was Stake Conference and the stake went all out to invite people this year,  including giving each unidad a good 50 invitations to pass out and invite others to come to the meetings. We were inviting for hours upon hours throughout the week. We had so many people committed to coming; less actives and investigators alike. But when the day came and we went passing around to bring some of them to the meeting all of them had bailed. But as we went around trying to bring people we invited, a son of one of our investigators, who had never really showed any interest before came to Stake Conference.   We were in the meeting and about 30 mins before the meeting ends that same lad shows up and sits down listening to the conference. He had come all by himself 30 mins in bus and was there!
   
A day in the life of a Guate missionary:

Last thing I ate....well that was actually a banana liquado that I made in the house....Before that was some Fried chicken bought straight from the lnock off pollo campero...it made me sick...

Favorite Guate Foods...My time here has made me a lot less picky and I will probably add tostados with frijoles rollados as a normal college meal along with eggs and tasteless oatmeal and of course ramen noodles.  Simple and yet some of my favorite.

My least favorite meal...
Fiambre.....It is a nasty mesh of weird veggies and deli meats...mixed with a lot and I mean a lot of beets..... (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiambre)

Shower situation...it's not all bucket showers, my last shower was in a waterfall...


That is about all folks, it's a shame I won't be able to play the see if you can guess where Elder Wilcox was transferred by the charge on his debit card game these transfers...but I guess it will give you, and me something to look forward to next Monday.

Lots of Love to all!





A nice little waterfall...

Perspective of how BIG this little waterfall is...


Don't show this to Sandy, she might get jealous!


We travel like this so we can use the carpool lanes!




Monday, November 2, 2015

Week #71: ...the joys one will feel throughout a lifetime...

Thanks for the spontaneous package of goodness!  Peanut Butter and Free Hugs for the win!

     The mission truly is something so very beautiful. I have often felt of it as life in fast forward. Something filled with the joys one will feel throughout a lifetime packed so abundantly into a time so short and powerful in two seemingly small years. Holidays always seem to be a time of reflection here in the mission. Thinking back a year ago I remember being in La Verde my first area. On Halloween night, as we sat down to eat dinner with Hermana Alejandra eating a plate of eggs I thought of on that humid Friday night  about what was going on back home. About the Menifee Bowl going on probably, as the thoughts were crossing my mind.  Life has changed so much in such a short time...
      This week has been a pretty hard week but in the same a week filled with miracles and changes of heart that we normally only hear of in the story of scrooge in the  Christmas Carroll on those Christmas nights. About a week after I arrived here in the zone Elder Murrillo and Elder Roney began to talk to one of the many candy tienda ladys that we so commonly see here on nearly every corner of the main cities streets. However this lady Itzy has become a pretty good friend to the some odd 26 missionaries that pass through that part on a weekly basis as they go to and from meetings. She came to church for her first time when I was on divisions with the Elders in Dalmacia. The moment she came in a sat by us at church I could see that she was someone that was eagerly hungry for the truth. They had given her a pholleto of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. she not only had read it but annotated it as though she would be using it to form a thesis for her literary exam. She more than anyone I had seen before her had feasted upon the words of Christ. Now when Dalmacias area was closed we took over teaching her. But as you can imagine with her working from 9 to 9 every day of the week at a stand that actually requires some of her attention teaching was not always the easiest thing but by far was not the hardest of problems. She came from a very devout 7th day Adventist family and they were not happy when they found out that she was listening to us. For many weeks she wrestled to know the truth inside of a world of confusion and opposition.  Through it all she never lost her desire to know the truth, and after a while she knew and then only had to get through one little problem. Through she is 28 she still wanted the blessing of her father to be baptized and after many talks with him it seemed as though he would never change. Then came Friday morning and a quick trip over to pias to grab a little something before heading down to Magnolia. When we passed by her she told us she had talked to her father again and lo and behold he had a change of heart and allowed her to follow her heart. But that didn't mean the amazing thing ended there. She had to go to work early Saturday with Halloween being Saturday and everything. But she didn't want to wait any longer so she decided to be baptized at 5am in the morning and thus the first treat of Halloween was given early Saturday morning.
   Now we had another miracle happen just a little bit later on as well. As we went throughout the day we went to visit hermana Elida. A sweet lady who is part of that family that had asked us about baptism. Now I thought they were going to be golden after that first visit....well lets just say I wasn't right about that. However we visited elida with a member of the ward and she accepted to be baptized on Saturday. But then opposition hit hard. like really hard. Her entire family started to go against her and us we ended up being kicked out of the house by the family who had been in love with us. We ended up having that same member who was with us when she accepted to be baptized go and talk to her.  It turns out her family threatened to kick her out of the house and take away her child if she gets baptized......There truly is an opposition in all things, but I know just as Itsy's father changed his heart, there will be a way prepared for her.
  Now it is a common theme that good and bad tends to come in threes.  There is a family of less-actives that we are teaching that have some children who haven't been baptized, but haven't wanted to be baptized.   We took over a video of Christ's baptism and now they want to be.  All we have to do is wait for her mom to get back from Mexico.
   I love Christmas time! I know that Thanksgiving hasn't passed yet but who cares! We don't have Thanksgiving here in Guate so we are going straight into Christmas mode!


Put a group of Elder's in a photo and say act serious and this is what you get.

Our Fan Club...and how they see Elder Keck and I...


Monday, October 19, 2015

Week #69: Singe my eyebrows and "Ponderize" this!

Turtle Soup??

Another week that has come and gone, and things are going good over here. Life with Elder Keck is pretty awesome and living in a house of four missionaries always seems to make things even better.   Yesterday we committed ourselves to only speaking in an English accent the entire time we are in the house.   This tends to make everything a little bit more entertaining, and allow us to feel more posh and cultured.
   We have been all over the place this week, from a special meeting with President Ruiz, Tuesday, to having surprise baptisms at 8pm and a temple trip in between it all. Things have been simply great...well apart from the whole loosing my wallet part of the adventure....that wasn't cool but with everything else that has happened all is good, and you learn to just roll with it.
    On Tuesday we had a meeting with the mission president and he decided to have interviews as well. His messages are always something special. He reminds me of Elder Holland a little, speaking with just enough fire to singe our eyebrows, but full of power and inspiration at the same time. After the meeting was over and he started on the interviews, he began with the missionaries residing in the areas furthest away and going through the list to those that were the closest.  Our area is pretty close and with that we were last to be interviewed.   Elder Keck had fallen sick the night before and was struggling during the meeting. By the time interviews had started he had already been on the phone with the nurses and told that he needs to go to take some tests to see what is is up with "the sick" he is experiencing.  As we waited for our turn in the interviews, Elder Keck had a temperature so hot I was tempted to crack an egg over his head just to see if it would cook.  Sadly enough, there were not any eggs nearby, and I was hungry, but at least he got to remain resting peacefully.   When it was our turn for the interview Elder Keck entered  first only to come out a few minutes later. When it was my turn President Ruiz and I started to talk and it was funny because President didn't even realize that Elder Keck and I are from the same group.  He got a good laugh at that after he realized it.
    Wednesday really kinda put into perspective just how far we have come in the mission. Though we never went into the temple and did a session in Spanish just the mere fact the the last time I went through the temple I didn't know Spanish is just a weird thought. Reflecting back on just how far we have come makes me feel kinda old in the mission. I know that our group is one of the oldest now but it never really hits you until something else passes. I remember back to when we first came here to Guatemala It took a good 3 to 4 months before I really hit me that I am actually living in Guatemala and speaking Spanish....I guess by the time we realize just how old we are in the mission we won't even be here. But to put it all short,  "I love to see the temple! Ill be going back some day. to feel the holy spirit, to listen and to pray and a short while after to be married in one..."
    Thursday we had another meeting followed by a super cool cita over in our area. We started to talk to this family and had just began explaining the plan of salvation to them when the old little abuelita de la familia asks us, hey whats this whole baptism thing....I want to know about that. they are going to need a little bit of work and everything but at some point I think that little old lady and her daughter will start walking on a good path.
    Saturday we had a huge stake activity called dancing around the work. Every ward and branch¨s youth prepared a dance from a country around the world and then preformed it in a local theater over by the stake center. There were dances from Tonga to Spain to Russia and Arabia. It was a super cool activity and that theater filled up thanks in a large party to the army of missionaries outside stopping cars and bringing in everyone who happened to be walking by at that moment.  Just as the activity was coming to a close the zone leaders waved us down to come over to them. Turns out some of their investigators who had said they didn't want to get baptized that day had a change of heart and so we ran across town to throw together a baptismal service.  It was something really special and I think the mom of the two kids will shortly be following her kids. She loved the whole thing.
    A lot is going on these days but that is great! Right now my #PONDERIZE is El Cristo Vivente, we have copies of it on the fridge in front of both toilets and on the walls of both showers. I figure with the amount of time we spend in those bathrooms we will have it memorized in no time.I already have the first 4 paragraphs down.











Monday, October 5, 2015

Week #67: Getting the band back together!

    The life in the mission is filled with surprises and well as far as these last changes/transfers are concerned. Each transfer, only those who have changes and the zone leaders go to the change meetings.   For those of us, that remain behind, this means we have no idea who is coming our way until they are at our door.  This transfer Elder Tufuga had changes and I was left behind in Magnolia to see who would become my new companion.   In the morning, another missionary and I went out contacting and then headed over to the market to grab a quick snack and then head over to the church. The moment we sit down to enjoy the chips and salsa we bought the bus arrived and all of us watched attentively (and tentatively) as everyone got off the bus.   We were just thinking, well not him, not him, not her of course.  Oddly enough, I got through all of the people and was thinking to myself...who is my companion. Then Elder Hala jumps out with his new greeny and says,  "Elder Wilcox!  Elder Kecks your comp!"  I was like no way!!  We are from the same CCM group and I thought it was a joke.  Now I know it's not a joke and we are having a great time, working hard, real hard, but having a great time finding much joy in the journey!  I guess we are getting the CCM band back together.
    We have been doing a lot this week; including changing houses after two guys were murdered outside of our house and are even going to the gym and eating healthy and...just being your average everyday superheros errr  missionaries... woops could have sworn I put missionaries....
    The other day we went back down to that part in our area called Silencio.  This time we went with a member, and we went on a search for the man with the goats.   Thats not his name or anything but she couldn't remember it, so that is how we began our quest looking for "the man with the goats".   We did end up finding him, but he told us to talk to another man, the man with the red truck. Yes, the man with the goats took us to the fireman.  This fireman is actually a member and has been for a long while.  He has just been very very less active.  However he has quite the family and none of them are members of the church.   Although they didn't show up to conference I think we still might have just found a golden family.
     Conference was absolutely amazing!  We set the record as a zone for investigadores entro de la conferencia.  But that wasn't really why it was amazing.  Something seemed so different this time. I dont know if I am just getting older and understand more of it now or if I am better prepared, with questions in my heart that need answering, but what but it was super cool this time and I can't wait to study and ponder (even ponderize) the words of the prophets and apostles.
    Life is good, the mission is wonderful, the gospel brings joy and the church is true!  Sorry I don't have pictures I left my camera in my other bag.  There will be some good ones next week.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Week #66: Silencio, Faith and Gertrude Specht

     The other day we decided to go and visit a part in out area called Silencio. Though we hear a lot more about the area than the name would imply. We have heard countless stories, from the bishop to the primary president, from the torta tienda lady to even the drunkest of the drunks of countless people who have been robbed and attacked on the road to this part of our area.   We have tried to head down there a few times but circumstances have not permitted it. This week on a whim, after lunch one day, we started to walk down the street away from our house and looked at each other with one of those....so where do you want to contact today kinda looks, and Tufuga said you want to go to Silencio? Yeah, why not.... we headed back to the house tossed off everything that is of value and left the house armed with only a few pholletos, the clothes on our back and The Spirit of the Lord as our guide and protection.   As we started down the path we were both kinda thinking this is kinda iffy taking a long little trek on a dangerous road.  I can only imagine how the bandits would be thinking as we passed by, ¨dude look gringos! Yeah man lets get em! nah bro those are like pastors or something thats bad juju.¨ 
      Anyways, we got down there just fine and started to look around to see what this little part of the area is like. It doesn't matter how many areas I have visited, everyone of them are just a little different and unique.   After about 10 minutes or so of looking around this little area we started to wade down one of these muddy streets to get back to the main road.  Out of no where we found the tiniest little old lady and asked her if she knew where any Mormons lived. Lucky enough (actually luck probably had nothing to do with it, because remember we left with The Spirit), this sweet little lady was a member and led us to her house.
    This house turned out to be the one we had started the quest looking to find, and as we looked into the house, I assumed there was no one there, but after taking a quick glance around, I saw a sad sight indeed. On the bed, so small and suffering, was the tiniest skinniest man I have ever seen in my life. I felt so bad to see him like that. As he spoke still completely conscious of everything going on but trapped in so much pain.  I saw something special in him something that most people won't ever have.  He had complete faith in our Saviour Jesus Christ, and the knowledge that he was a son of our Heavenly Father and that He knew him and loved him.   I knew that if he had anyway to go to church in this moment he would do it....but he can't. He made me think of just how sad and pathetic all of us can be at times as we think to ourselves we can't go to church because we are sick or because of work or because of this or that. But this man with all his sickness, pain and suffering would in a instance do all he could to do the Lord's will.
    Last week we passed by a man who is passing through alot of problems a man we have taught a few times. As we passed by,  we immediately began to teach him about how if we love The Lord and want to receive his blessings we need to do our part...we need to keep his commandments, and then the blessings of the heavens will rain down upon us. It was so sad as he ¨heard¨ us, ignored us, and began to ask for money.  We taught him the principle again and told him that God will provide a way to do the things you need to do and to follow in his path. We told him that he needs to pray to find the way, to find his path. but he only scoffed at us.  We asked him if we could say a prayer with him but he only asked yet again so your not going to give me money?  No, but we would like to say a prayer for you.  He scoffed at us again and then kicked us out of the house.
    The path is there and prepared we only need to walk it. We don't really know what we have, people are dying for it. some would do anything to be apart of it again and some just cant see what it is yet.

This is a story that I read this week with Elder Tufuga. It is pretty cool...

The following account, which claims to be from the mission journal of Elder Scott Anderson, has been making the rounds by email for several years.

Do We Really Know What We Have?
As written by Scott Anderson in his journal.

We had an unexpected moment in the mission field. We knocked on a door and a lady said something to us we had never heard, "Come in". Now remember, I was a German missionary. This never happened to us, not even the members would say that to us. At this point suddenly this dear lady invited us in. My companion said, "Do you know who we are?" "You want to talk religion, don't you?" she said. "Yes we do" explained my companion.

"Oh, come in. I've watching you walk around the neighbourhood. I'm so excited to have you here. Please come into my study." We went in and seated ourselves and she sat down behind the desk.

She looked at us with a smile, then pointed to three PhD's hanging over her head. one in theology, the study of religion, one in Philosophy, the study of ideas, and one in European History specializing in Christianity. She then kind of rubbed her hands together and said, "Do you see this row of books here?" We looked at a well arranged row of books. She then said, "I wrote them all. I’m the Theology professor at the University of Munich. I’ve been doing this for 41 years. I love to talk about religion. What would you like to discuss?" My inspired companion said, " we'd like to talk about the Book of Mormon." She said,  "I don't know anything about the Book of Mormon." He said, "I know". Twenty minutes later we walked out of the room. We had handed her a Book of Mormon and this trade off that we had been on was over. I didn't see this lady for another 8 1/2 weeks.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Week #65: The Trainers are leaving and the work at an Internet Cafe


   
All out - object lesson - costumes,  props and smiles  included

     Well it has been a rather interesting little week, with all meetings and activities to get everyone motivated and excited about the work the week has flown by.   It was great seeing old friends, companions and brothers. It has been a time a breaking records and a time of many days spent in other areas.  Overall we are working hard and feel the joy and happiness of serving The Lord.
       It is interesting to look at the missionaries in the mission.  After this next changes the group that I arrived with will be one of the oldest "gringo" groups in the mission.  Most of the missionaries like Elders Dial, Green, Goodman, Parrack, who trained each of us in our group, will be returning home. Hard to describe the feelings surrounding this, sad to see these all knowing Elders leave, but at the same time thinking wait, maybe that is what we are supposed to be now to others.
      I think we had one of the coolest district meetings in the history of the mission this week.   As I am sure you guys are aware we do not have computers on the mission so we are always writing at Internet cafes. Over the last while we have all become very good friends with the owners of an Internet Cafe called Clic.  All of us go there and they having been taking the missionary discussions for quite some time.   They have finally decided to be baptised, but they needed to be married first. So, thursday in the morning we scheduled a wedding and a baptism for them,  all taking place during the time we normally have our district meeting. It was probably one of the sweetest moments with all twenty-six missionaries there radiating in joy with our good friends.
     
Quote of the week. "The lord will Prepare the way we only need to walk the path."

Love you all - keep the faith - pray for missionary activities and ask yourself if you have done any good in the world today!

Elder's and Hermanas' taking over the Internet Cafe


Even I am not happy about eating this worm...but hey it's protein.


Getting the CCM band back together!





Monday, September 7, 2015

Week #63: Potatoes and the Small and Simple Things

   
Every time he sends pictures he has a different tie and umbrella...and they never match.

     So how goes the work of the Lord? Well we are starting from the bottom and working up. That is to say that when I got here there was nothing and more or less still is.  Right now we are first trying to find people to help and to teach.  The people here are few and far between that actually want to talk to us....which is really weird for the coastal areas but that has a lot to do with the many evangelical churches here that preach the live long day against us.  Not to worry though Elder Tufuga and I get a kick out of all of the new rumors we hear about Mormons, and work daily to dispel them all by our work, our service and our example.
     The area of Magnolia, Coatepeque is a small little sub division of the county that has been largely forgotten by the big city or at least that is what the people say as they talk about how bad the roads are.   Coatepeque is a fairly large city but not as developed as Mazate which is probably the most developed city in the mission.   The people here have a wide range of jobs and lifestyle from farm work to cubicle jobs!  Like everywhere all work to better their lives, and provide for their family. Our hope is that we will be able to assist with this by bringing The Gospel of Jesus Christ into their lives.

     This week has been a little...rainy to say the least. I think I can connect a little bit more with the mission of my mom after this week.
      I don't remember much of if any of the stories that my mom told me of her mission but I do remember one.  She once said that in her mission she pealed a lot of potatoes. This week I played tribute to that memory. We had been working under the rain for a long while visiting less active members of the church with some of the members. When the night was just about over we began to walk back to the house. Since the two of us are always hungry, as we passed by a street shop selling Papas Fritas,  I couldn't  resist.  But they were taking forever to dish out the fries. So... I went to work peeling potatoes as we waited for our fries. We ended up being there for about half an hour and in that time I ran out of potatoes. I'm sure everyone thought I was crazy peeling all of the potatoes right there by the side of her tienda but I did and I did them all.
   I imagine that this area here is actually a lot like Spain. Europe is renown for the straight up rejection you face on a daily basis as a missionary. Though in this last week I didn't know If I was in Guate or en Spain. I don't think I have ever been rejected this much in my life. Everyone from the oldest of what seem to be the sweet little old ladies to the youngest of kids were running from us and slamming doors in our faces all week long.  There were some times where I began to greet the people only to be cut of mid Buenas Tardes. I was like wow....

   This week I have been thinking alot about the members of the church and just how different we really are from many others.  You can see so easily how differently we are. I think the truth in this difference lies in the small and simple things. We can see countless examples of how small and simple things bring great things to pass and really we are built on our foundations of small and simple things.
    Before coming to the mission my testimony of the church was based on these small and simple things that I could see in the the stuff the church teaches and the programs that it has. I am grateful to say that my testimony has definitely grown since then but none the less I love these small and simple things. Now having grown a little bit more and having seen a little more of the world I can see this difference ever greater. I can see the blessings of the talks we give in church, the primary, simply reading the scriptures, and so many other programs. If you dissect any of them you can see the good habits and skills that help each and every person. These programs instill good habits. Take the idea of reading the Scriptures daily. Just from this habit we learn: the value of books, we understand that we should be continually learning, we learn to read daily, we even learn to apply what we read to our own lives. Most important we learn to incorporate daily moments of spiritual thought, reflection and devotion into our lives.  Think of all of these things and the many more that we learn from this one principle, we are taught from birth in the church.
    Now take any other you can think of and do the same.  Given the chance to think of any of these things in the same light we can see the many small habits we develop. All of these small things compound to form who we are. There are many sayings like you are what you eat, you are who your friends are and they are all true in a way but the principle behind them is the greater truth. Our habits form us. Small things build up a couple of pages read a day. a small act of service everyday. The small things we do really do add up over time and have the biggest impact on our lives.
   Habits are like The Juggernaut (pop-culture reference here, why not spiritually and super heroes). All we have to do is start and they will drive us and be our driving momentum and once started and in motion they become thoughtless even easy to do. The only thing we have to do is start and let the momentum carry us to be a new better person the first time is hard but every time after is easier until it becomes hard to stop. Though I guess their is a word of caution, I mean after all the Juggernaut is a bad guy in the movie, so it only holds to reason that this same thing holds true for the bad habits as well. Though in all ways we are our foundations. Our habits good or bad will take us to places good or bad.

I love your all!  I will write next week!

Monday, August 31, 2015

Week #62 "You Shall Not Pass"




I dont know if any of you follow the Guatemalan politics or the daily news down here but things have not been at their best in these last days. There has been a lot of political protests. The protests that we see here are a bit different from those you might see back in the States. The typical method here is to block one of the main roads so that no truck, nor car, nor tuc-tuc may pass. You might even say that even Gandolf doesn't quite have the concept of ¨you shall not pass¨ in comparison to the roadblocks here.   These protests makes things just a tad bit....well more interesting.  It means no meetings and many other things, and it also means that food trucks and water trucks cannot get through.  This causes a risk of looting and all of the good stuff that goes with panic. It hasn't gotten to that point yet nor do we think it will, but we are now instructed to start practicing something I never thought I would have to do on my mission. Food Storage! We will now have food in our house that we are not allowed to eat - this will be quite the temptation for a couple hungry Elders!
        So we have had a mixed week of contacting this last week. We have had some golden moments but we have also had some that were well dung contacts.  I guess we will start with the bad news first and then work our way up.
    So we have been working with members just about everyday trying to find people that are positive and this week we went to do a little follow up on one of the friends of a member who invited a few of her friends to church with us this last week. One of them came so we decided to go and see if we could teach her. Things didn't go to well. As we walked up over to the door of her house and started to knock no one came. We decided to wait for a bit and then knock again. As we began to knock again we looked down the street waiting for someone to answer the door. There we saw her friend with her father returning to the house. We started to light up a bit at that, but the moment it registered in their faces who we were they did a quick about face and ran for it. I am kind of used to being rejected by now and my comp as well, but we knew that it had crushed the heart of member as her friend just kinda straight out rejected us. She was super worried after that her friend wouldnt want to be her friend but all is well now though I imagine that it still kinda hurts.
     Now for a better day.  We were contacting one of these days all day long trying to find anyone remotely positive to teach but the only people we could find treated us more like we wanted to stick them with a needle than lay the steps to salvation at their feet.  House to house we went and from house to house we left just a little less animated after every step.  We began to walk down the street again when I felt something I could only describe as a righteous hunch.  As we walked past a little red gate that seemed to lead to nothing I looked back to walk to the gate seeing Elder Tufuga already a step in front of me walking to a little lad just barely sticking through it. We told him to go and call his mom over to us. When he returned he waved us in and told us to pass through.  We continued down and we found a little house and began to teach a sweet little old lady. As we got to know her she told us about everything that had been happening lately.  Her granddaughters cancer to her now near death experience just a week past. All in all she was talking about how abandoned she has felt in the last while and how she is looking for peace in her life.  I think we were sent to her.  I think we were sent to tell her and assure her that she has a loving Heavenly Father and she will never be abandoned!

That's all for this week!   Here are some pictures where those we meet always want to be as tall as me!

Elder Tufuga looking everywhere for people to teach!




Monday, August 24, 2015

Week #61: Coatepeque, rocks and hot water

    So the next chapter begins in the Magnolia Coatepeque area of the Guatemala Retalhuleu Mission. As expected I had changes and I am  now over here in the very rocky area of Magnolia. This area is very different from any other I have been in. For one, I don't think there is a moment from when we leave the house to when we return that we are not walking atop rocks.  These rocks are going to eat by shoes super fast, and it is way to hot to wear boots.  I feel like I am at a rocky beach although without a cool ocean breeze or the sounds of the waves.
    The living conditions here are a bit different.  It is a bigger house, but less water and more mosquitos.  We have no water during the day and none whatsoever in the house.  We have a pila outside to get water from and we shower by bucket.  We bring buckets of water into the house as every time we have to go to the bathroom you use the bucket to flush the toilet.
    My new companion is Elder Tufuga who has about 9 months in the mission and is from long beach CA. He is a convert to the church and is also an olympian volleyball player.  What can I say I have had some good luck having some great companions on the mission.
    We received some bad news a little while back,  President Nelson isnt really in to good of health and as such isn't really able to travel for our multi-mission conference.  This being said our devotional was canceled and was replaced with a video transmission of him talking to those in the Honduras missions. It was kinda a bummer that he couldn't come but I guess the message was what was really important and it was great to watch and see so many of the missionaries that we knew in the CCM there. We learned a lot in the devotional.  There were more than a few things were stuff that I didn't really expect to hear, but those are the best messages and some of the things that we will remember most are the things we never expected to hear.
    Working here this week has been fantastic!   I don't know too much of the area and it seems like I came in at a perfect time when everyone in the branch wants to help in the work.    I am very excited to see what happens in the future, because in the four days I have been here, we have left with members three out of those four days, and one person came to church for each of these visits. I think Im going to like it here, we are just going to need to see what we can do about getting some new beds and an actual fridge in our house. When I was in Rio Blanco I could leave a bag of water out and it would be cold when I went to drink it. Here I do the same thing, but it turns hotter and hotter  I swear one of these days I actually burnt my tongue!

Sorry for the shorter letter - it's been a crazy week, having problems uploading any pictures as well.  But will get that all figured out for next week, and will send some pictures of the new area.

Lots of love to all - and my parting quote to think about for the week, this from Elder Neal A. Maxwell, "We should certainly count our blessings, but she should also make our blessings count."

Monday, August 17, 2015

Week #60: Coming and going...changes and Multi-Mission Conference




It is kinda weird to see people come and go in the mission to see people starting and to see people ending. I see the people ending and can only imagine how they must be feeling. This is one of the last few days that Elder Ramirez will have here in the mission. On Wednesday his final change is over and as we speak his family is here visiting they have been in church and kinda everywhere for the last little while. It is a little weird for me but I can only imagine how much weirder it is for him. If I were to suddenly start seeing you guys here......Saber I don't quite know how I would feel but I don't think I would feel like I am in the mission anymore maybe some weird kind of vacation or something like that.
     Found out something pretty cool this week.  One of these nights as I was taking datos I was talking to Elder Ramirez and we are going to be making jerseys as a zone and so we started to talk a little about futbol. He asked me what team I support and I told him Madrid because my mom served her mission in Madrid Spain. He said...hmm I swear I heard someone say that the other day....Oh Hna Barnum. Sure enough when I talked to her next, I asked about it she told me her mom served in Spain just around the same time as my mom and on top of that her dad served in Chile. Crazy small world we live in maybe our moms were in the same zone or something at one point.
    Right now for the first time in the history of our mission we will be having a multi Mission Conferencia with none other than Elder Russell M Nelson President of the Quorum of the Twelve. It is going to be awesome and I everyone is looking forward to it.
    A few weeks ago the hermanas in Oriente Baptised baptized a special little girl who is super bright. This is that same little girl who started to teach me about the pre earth life during her Interview to be baptised. Well she has been an amazing influence over her family. She has been teaching her family everything that she has been learning and they have all been inspired in some way or another. This week her father Luis was baptised and in this next week Bowdillio her grandfather will be getting baptised. She is only 9 years old but already one powerful missionary. I cant wait to see what she does later down the road.
     Anyways changes are here and I guess we will see what comes of them. Love you guys back home and hope you are all well and
enjoying the heat.



Monday, August 3, 2015

Week #58: Too Legit to Quit

Another week has come and gone and as Hermana Tebbs said to me today, only 45 p-days left. It is kinda of a weird little thought but not nearly as much as the thought of just two p-days left like Elder Ramirez has.
      This week was a very interesting week, full of just about all of the joys and defeats one can have in the mission. We had baptismal dates confirmed, papers signed, people who didn't show up, people who we called 50+ times the day of their baptism and didn't pick up and just went mia. We had just a little bit of everything happening but we shall press forward, have a positive attitude and continue working hard.
      This week we had a test on the Book of Mormon and a multi-zone conference. We went over a lot of stuff and as always left the meeting a little bit humbled, a little more focused and oh so ready to work.
      I have never been a person that likes to be doing the same thing over and over again. I love change, I thrive in change and die in repetition. I have decided that right now it is time for a change. Throughout this week I have been going to the members, but for a different purpose that receiving references. I thought back a to one of the pre-game pump up talks Coach Telo would always give us right before our games. In that particular night we were to fight to as he said, to keep our cleats. This moment at this time is a time that everyone wants to be in. Everyone one who is a little kid playing in little league football wants to be here in this moment right now. Everyone who has been where you are wishes that they can go back to where you are now and do the things that you are doing. This kinda got me thinking how can we play this to our advantage. These are the best two years of our lives this is the time that every primary kid is looking forward to and what every Elder, High Priest wishes they could be doing once again.  With this in mind we decided to go out to some of the returned missionaries and asked them if they would like to come and teach us during one of our district meetings about all of the stuff that worked on their missions and all of the stuff they have learned over the years and wished they could have used in the mission. We will see how this turns out this week. they all seemed pretty excited.
         Using the same 'this is the best time in your life perspective' we also went and talked to some of the youth in the wards in the district. We talked with them for a while and then asked them if they would like to learn to be missionaries, if they would like come to the meetings, plan with us and even leave with us. In some ways they thought of the chance as one of those super cool kinda things. Like maybe the way a little league player would see going out and playing with a pro player would be like. Overall some of these people are super excited to go and leave with us,  but it's a shame that many of them are young women and will really only be able to work with the sister missionaries. But hey I am not complaining - some amazing stuff will start happening in the sisters areas.
      To keep you guys up to date on our little primary. Nine of them came to church yet again this Sunday. Six of them are baptismal age and all of them are super pilas. In the states there is the joke of mormon standard time right? Well let me be the first to tell you that is nothing compared to "la hora chapina". To put some mental food in your hands the Oriente ward meets at 2:00 in the afternoon,  but we are lucky if it starts at 2:30 most  days.  This week we passed by the families and told them we are going to pass by in the morning at 9:30 so be ready by then. We came down a little bit earlier maybe around 9:10 to go and get the pickup truck ready to take them to church and when we passed by,  not only were all of them ready and dressed early, but they were also sitting there on the curb waiting for us to come by. These kids are "to legit to quit" as the saying goes.
    I had the chance to get to know Elder Mattson just a little bit more this week. Turns out we were both born in Sandy, Utah...typical small world mormon life. "wait your from utah to?!"

Lots of love to everyone!  Glad you had fun in Jackson Hole and Chase and Brooke had a great time at EFY.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Week #56: Make the most of now, tamales and waterfalls



It was a great week! I am blessed and I am able to bless the lives of those around me each and every day!

So Tuesday we had a normal day. District meeting, lunch and the whole deal. But then a little twist popped into the picture. I got a call at around 4:30, 5 from Elder Merrill (AP) asking me if I would like to go and work in the office of the mission. I answered honestly that I would rather not but If you guys feel like it is what needs to happen I will do it. When I got the call I was in the house of some investigators and recent converts that are kind of like family here. We are so much like family that on Sunday mornings when they are still sleeping in the mornings and not ready for church, we wake them just like I would with mom on Christmas mornings or those early seminary mornings with my sister. They knew some thing was up right away and then we all got kinda worried that I would be having changes.  However we used it as an opportunity to teach a great lesson.  About 30 mins later in the middle of the lesson I get a call from President Ruiz. He begins asking about my experience with computers, if I can drive, if I have my license and a few other questions by the end of the call I was like...well looks like I am leaving time to say goodbye. Pres. said he would call me back in a bit to tell me if I would have changes or not. Three hours later right before taking datos in the district,  I got a call saying we will start your training in the office tomorrow, pack your bags and bring them to the district leaders meeting tomorrow. At that point my heart just kinda sank I love San Ber. Its an awesome area, there is simply a little bit of everything there. After getting the call I started to take the datos thinking, well I am still a DL for a few more hours might as well do my job.  Shortly after I get done taking datos and saying goodbye to the District I get  call telling me umm change of plans, we wont be needing you to come to the office.  With that call I let out a triumphant yell, waking my comp Elder Damas out of his sleep!  Change is good, and I am willing to go and do what the Lord has planned for me, but change is hard at times too and I am glad I have some additional time here in the San Bernadino area.  If nothing else this provided a jolt that our time is always short and we must make the most of now, of today, for tomorrow there may be changes!

     This week has honestly been an awesome week. Between the cool people we have found the investigators that are progressing and just the things that happened from day to day, the obra misional is progressing very well.
     For instance on Saturday we were walking in a street when we stumbled upon a 15-year party in the making. Elder Damas and I looked at each other nodded and sat down with a group of corte women and began making tamales with them. Making atole and just prepping for the party. It was so funny just seeing the peoples faces as they walked by seeing a us doing what is usually only done by the women in this culture. I don't know what will come of that service but I think that at least we earned ourselves some major brownie points there, and all will greet us with a smile the next time we pass by and who knows maybe invite us in.
   
   Then there was another time when I was talking to Hna Jimenez and Barnium who are over in Oriente. They were in a little part of their area just a little in the middle of nowhere when all of a sudden a little old lady calls them over saying I know your church is the true church. Now if that isnt a miracle I dont know what is. But that's not the coolest part. This little old ladys name is Milagro (that means Miracle).
     Elder Ramirez and I were in divisions one day this week and were thinking what it would be like to have a lesson with someone from the states. little did we know that that same night we would have one over Skype and are now forever grateful that we are not teaching people from the US. No offence but que orgullosos son los personas alli.
   
    P-Day was fun today. We found another waterfall. I fell a good four times at least for the sake of the photos.
     I heard that there has been a little bit of rain over in Cali these last few days...That's cute. Just think off all of the flooding over there for a few seconds and then imagine tracking through it every day.  Needless to say we are always wet.






Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Week #55: Changes, Elder Damas, Rock Music, Blind Men and the Elephant

     Well another week come and gone. Changes have come and passed and I now have a knew companion! His name is Elder Damas and he as well is from Honduras. I have a pretty good feeling we are going to get along. He and I are both nerdy kids at heart and nerds typically tend to get along. Though I will miss Elder Cano as there was never a dull moment with him.
    This week we decided to start anew in the area and just go to work. It was a cool first day if I do say so myself. We started to go down a long street not really knowing where we were going... contacting along the way.   We had some good lessons and then came to the end of the road. We heard some rock music in the distance and started to walk towards it.  Elder Damas was saying "lets go there, anyone listening to rock will be positive about our message!". As we came up to the house we started to call out for someone as is normal for here, but no one came out and I started to think that no one wanted to talk to us.  There was an old man at the far end of the house collecting some tortillas he left in the sun to dry, but he didn't have any intention of coming over to us. We called out again...still no one came out. Just as we turned away about to leave a joven comes running out of the house, sees us and runs back in.   At that point we were thinking alright lets bail, they don't want anything to do with us.  After a moment though, the music dimmed a bit, and we found out he had only ran back into the house to turn it down. He came back out and after talking for a bit we found that they are actually a family of old investigators that had been lost in the various changes of missionaries over a years time and had already come to church four times.  The moral of the story is as my companion put it "Anyone listening to rock just has a different kind of mindset and will just about all always be positive".
   
     I was listening to a good talk this week by Deter F. Uchtdorf called What is Truth?. There was one part in the talk were he explains a poem about 6 blind men and an elephant.

The Blind Men and the Elephant
Well over one hundred years ago, an American poet put to rhyme an ancient parable. The first verse of the poem speaks about:

Six men of Indostan
To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the Elephant
(Though all of them were blind),
That each by observation
Might satisfy his mind.

In the poem each of the six travelers takes hold of a different part of the elephant and then describes to the others what he has discovered.

One of the men finds the elephant’s leg and describes it as being round and rough like a tree. Another feels the tusk and describes the elephant as a spear. A third grabs the tail and insists that an elephant is like a rope. A fourth discovers the trunk and insists that the elephant is like a large snake.

Each is describing truth.
And because his truth comes from personal experience, each insists that he knows what he knows.
The poem concludes:

And so these men of Indostan
Disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
Exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right,
And all were in the wrong!

We look at this story from a distance and smile. After all, we know what an elephant looks like. We have read about them and watched them on film, and many of us have even seen one with our own eyes. We believe we know the truth of what an elephant is. That someone could make a judgment based on one aspect of truth and apply it to the whole seems absurd or even unbelievable. On the other hand, can’t we recognize ourselves in these six blind men? Have we ever been guilty of the same pattern of thought?

I suppose the reason this story has remained so popular in so many cultures and over so many years is because of its universal application. The Apostle Paul said that in this world the light is dim and we see only part of the truth as though we are looking “through a glass, darkly.” And yet it seems to be part of our nature as human beings to make assumptions about people, politics, and piety based on our incomplete and often misleading experience.

This would be the best or I would say the most honest way that I can present to you as to why it is so hard for people to come unto the gospel. Here in the mission in every lesson we have to help people to overcome the partial truths they are apart of and help them to see what is really there. All of us as humans are guilty of this kind of thinking but here we see just how bad and destructive this kind of thinking is. Really more than anything it is just a sad part of us that we need to overcome.
     
On another  note I finally found a steak! At least I think it was beef..in any case it was was good!

I love you all, miss you all!  Tell everyone I am doing find and working hard in the obra misional!!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Week #54: It's all about the Caldo...

Authentic Guatemalan Caldo

Well I am happy to report that I am still alive and finally living in a semi healthy state. All has been going pretty well. I have no idea what to write about anymore. I feel as though every time I write I start saying the same stuff over and over again. But at any rate I figure I will go ahead and say it all again.
     This week we made caldo a mission "favorite" I don't know if I talked to much about caldo before but if I have or haven't you are going to here about it now. [Guatemalan Caldo] So my comp Elder Cano will most likely have changes this week. This in mind we decided to have a sort of farewell with a family of recent converts/investigators. Elder cano as the guest of honor got to decide what food we were to eat. I personally thought that we were going to have like some pizza or fried chicken or idk something other than caldo but the decision was made with caldo and so caldo is what we had. We put together a nice big list of everything that we would need and then split the cost. When Sunday night came around we came over to the house our jaws dropped as they started to serve out our plates.....In the bowl alone I think there was more water than I had drunken in the last 3 days and a huge mountain of rice, yuca green beans, carrots, mean chunks corn and more stuff I dont even know the name of in spanish or english. In Guatemala one does not simply say "i'm full" and push the plate away. Here we eat every last bit and we do it with tortilla in hand. That was the longest nights of my life...and one of the hardest things I have done. I can probably live the rest of my life without eating another bowl of soup but I know that is what is on the menu every other night this week.
   If anyone would like a little idea of what life is like here at lunch. stick a table out in the sun today at lunch with a super hot soup like the one in the photo and then eat it. (you still won't have the whole experience without tortillas but you'll come pretty close.)
   So there has been some really cool stuff happening this week. We as a zone are getting back on top leading the mission in baptisms for the moment. I pretty much don't have just one area anymore. This is actually something cool because once something good starts to happen in one area my job is to go in, get to know the people, and get them ready for their baptisms and wow this can be hectic sometimes. Jumping from area to area and city to city. I dont know just how much I will like traveling when I get back at this rate, but I love getting to know all of these knew people and I have truly began to see the more I do my job the more blessings I will receive. I at times feel like as I go and leave my area to go and do divisions in others, I am abandoning my area. but I know now for sure that this is not the case and that we really do receive blessings for it.
   On another note we still haven't killed the rat in the house. but I think we have it in a chokehold now as we haven't bought food for the house in the last two weeks.
   Changes are here I will probably have a new comp and we will see what kind of changes are coming into the district/zone.


Breaking bread...tortillas rather and caldo

1 Year mark burning of the shirt...w/ caldo stains




Monday, June 29, 2015

Week #53: Say it with me...Chikungunya it's more fun to say than experience

   

     Well I must say I don't really think I like being sick. but I guess If I started my first year in Guatemala being sick it is only logical that I would start the second year in the same way. On the plate this week was the lovely plague of chikungunya, it is all the rage here and very trendy... but I can at least count my blessings knowing that I don't have pillory or amebas like some of the other missionaries in the Zone.
        This week was filled with alot of overcoming of the sickness kind of stories. I remember the days back home when I didn't want to go to school or to whatever activity that it was, I would just "be sick". Being sick kinda has a whole knew meaning to it now and that whole "staying home" part really doesn't interest me nor apply here.  The show must go on. Being sick now is something that just makes the normal activities hard and the hard activities all the harder. Being sick means having to lose time to get back to normal. There have been days this week were I was in the shower for a good 20-30 mins just sitting under the water to drop my temperature. (fyi back home a 20-30min shower is normal because there is that whole warm water luxury here we bath in freezing cold water so 5-10 mins is a long shower 20-30 well you can do the math)
       But at the same time all of this was happening we had one of my favorite lessons in the mission. We went over to visit one of the recent converts of the ward who had fallen pretty ill herself. Once over there I would not have know that this little girl was even sick. She was climbing the trees like a monkey swinging and jumping from tree to tree throwing us down rambutan and other fruits as she went.  When she finally came down so we could talk to her we had a full meal in front of us of pure fruit from the trees. When we finished eating we went over to talk to a neighbor with a member named Jose. At this lesson we we started teaching a lady and two of her little kids. But we started the lesson with a hymn and slowly but surely a family of nine scrambled out of their little nooks and crannies in the house and made their way over to listen to what we had to say. All of them except the father of the family. Though as we began to teach, he started to hover around within earshot ever so slowly he come closer and closer to us, until finally by the end of the lesson, as we began to teach the first vision he was there sitting in on the lesson and beaming at us like the rest of his family. As we finished the lesson he began to speak saying that the things we said are good and are of God but that we cannot really think that there is a true church of God here on the earth today. He began to say that there are so many churches and all of them do good in teaching people of God but that all of them were flawed and that none of them could be the true church. At that moment feeling one of the strongest impressions of the spirit we simply bore our testimonies of what we knew to be true feeling completely guided in what we needed to say and by the end of our testimonies no one could say anything. It was one of those moments where nothing really can be said. I dont know what is going to happen with them but I do know that I am excited to see.
       This week has been good and as always we are looking forward to what the next week will bring. Changes are coming and with school ending back in the states I would assume that a lot of new gringos will be coming into the mission soon. At anyrate I feel better now and hope that this time it will actually be true. Being sick used to be fun but now it just kind of sucks.

Anyways love you all and see yall next week.