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Monday, April 27, 2015

Week #44: Do you keep track of the weeks?

Do you keep track of the weeks? No, not until I have to put week 44 or whatever it is for the email.  I really don't keep track of time at all in the mission. I was just writing to someone about what happened this morning when I went to the despensa to grab a bit of milk for cereal. I was there I had it in my hand looking at the expiration date and thought wow this stuff doesn't expire until June 15th is this real milk? This stuff will last forever?  Then Elder Saxton had to burst my bubble and say "...thats only next month." Times like these really kinda blow my mind, to think that I have nearly been living here in Guatemala for a year. Guess I will start to pick out which of my shirts will be burned in just a short while. But enough of the baggy-talk -- let's talk about Rio Blanco!
         So as I think I mentioned last week Elder Amundson hade changes and Elder Merrill is our new Zone Leader. He was actually in Maclen (my area) about a year ago. So given that he Is lleno de referencias we decided to bring him up to show us all of the people he was teaching.  After two days of walking around hitting up old investigators and all the great walking we were dead. Elder Merrill fell ill and my head was spinning with all of the new references that we have to talk to.
        So in the mission we live in houses that have usually been rented by missionaries for years upon years upon years. This means that the messes of the missionaries build up years upon years as well. when I got to Rio Blanco it was simply... well... "not a 5 star hotel and maybe in the negative stars" and so I made it my personal goal to clean this house and at least put some stars on the board. As of this Friday we finally have some stars on the board...only 2 starts, but those 2 stars are very nice and shiny and with a little more work we might be able to get a few more stars soon.
     President Ruiz actually payed a visit up to our nice little cold corner of the mission which was kinda a surprise. We knew he would be coming up soon but didn't really know when. This Saturday as we were going to go and do contacting in the farmers market kinda ordeal that is there every Saturday, President just happened to be driving down the road and called us over to him.  After talking to him for a bit he went over to the church to do a few interviews and then over to Caprican. Yes it is finally for sure, the city in the middle of nowhere, will finally be opened! Super excited about that.
    Friday, was a pretty sweet day as well, a less active member asked to go out and do visits with us. I personally didn't think she was being serious but when the moment came she was ready and we were scrambling to find some others to come with us so that we could actually go. After a moments we were on our way to San Lorenzo. Neither of them thought we were serious about heading over there. But we were and poof soon at members house with some sweet references.  After another quick moment we had this same member leaving with us as well.  We had one of the best lessons I have had in a while with a 17 year old kid  named Angel.  He actually had questions and good ones and even understood the whole there is only one true church thing I think he will progress pretty great in the next little while.   It is fantastic when missionaries can have members present in lessons!
     This week has been a little different, everyone in the house or who comes to Rio Blanco seems to be getting sick, but I think for some odd reason I am like immune to sicknesses now (prob just jinxed that).  The baptisms that we had planned fell through, it's sad and even worse when we are trying to pull people out of the bad cycle that they are in...some things just kinda suck but theres nothing we can do on that end all we can do is continue to work with them. It is a very sad thing when people are so used to the dark that they don't want to try and to let the light in, even when they know where to find it and when they know that it is good.  It is so sad sometimes, that people are so used to being where they are that they don't want to leave their small little comfort zone even if it will change their life forever for the better. I think that is probably one of the hardest things to see here in the mission. Anyways another week comes lets see if we can do some good. Talk to you next week love you all.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Week #43: Transfers come and go - happy still in Rio Blanco

Like every other week in the mission changes are fun interesting crazy and just a little bit hectic at times.
So as most of you know we live out in the boon docks. in my area and so for us transfers are usually a little bit more chaotic than the other areas in the mission.  As last Monday ended we still hadn't received word on the transfers, but I was told to pack anyways given my likelihood of having changes.  I was told to do the "just in case packing" as they say and so I did.  Then Tuesday morning rolled around and we called for what seemed like the 20th time to find out about the changes.....and they still didn't know but they were sure to give me some more just in cases instructions.  These instructions included getting the last of my stuff together and heading down to San Pedro just in case we had changes. Being so far out in the mission for our zone and the other two that are close by means that when transfers come around we charter a bus at 4:00am in the morning to go by every one of the zones and pick up those that have changes so that we can make it to the transfer meeting in Reu in time. Finally at about 7:00pm we received the changes, amazingly enough after all of the waiting and packing and craziness, I did not end up having changes!  We got a good laugh out of all of it, and then started to go around all of the members in San Pedro so that Elder Amundson could say goodbye to everyone.
             Out of everyone in the zone only three Elders had changes; Elders Amundson, Quiroz and Mecham.  But we don't really count Mecham as having changes, after seven and a half months in his first area he took a fun little bus trip down to Reu for the change meeting and then came right back up to leave San Antonio San pedro and go right next door to Chamac San Pedro. What a trooper! I dont know what his mission call said but there must have been some kinda smudge on the call that said he was called to the Guatemala Retalhuleu Mission San Pedro zone.
             So all and all the zone didn't really change to much and once the changes were over Thursday came around and we got right back to work. Which involved an amazing planning session that would make any mission president proud, followed by a noche de hermanamiento in Chuicaval with some odd 10-15 investigators alone.
             The next day we set out with a plan. But ended up not following it in the slightest as lesson after lesson called out to us.  Literally there was a point in the day after we had just helped one of the members mark some eggs, mate some chickens, and were heading off down a path to try and start on the day we had planned when all of a sudden we heard someone yelling out elders to once again send our plans out the window. Days like this just kinda remind us that we are not here to do our work but rather the Lord's work, and by the days end we had found some really amazing new families to teach, had several references to contact and another less active youth to help go on the mission.
             As the next day rolled around, again our plans went out the window and God's plan went into action. In the morning we taught the grandmother of several of the youth that we are teaching and the sweetest spirit settled over the lesson as she poured out her heart to us. Crying over all that was happening in her life and the life of her family and then the sweet comfort of the spirit as we testified of the ability the true Gospel of Christ has to change the lives of every person that receives it.  As we closed the lesson with a prayer we could see that the things we had said had brought a little peace to her soul. I hope in the next little while she will be able to come to church with her grandkids.
          Then the best day of the week rolled around. A day that used to be filled with naps procrastinated homework and Church has really changed here in the mission. I think I even finally understand the torment I put the majority of my teachers through during my CTR years in the church. Right now we have five joven investigators ages 10-14 that are all about as rowdy and restless as I was when I was their age.  They want to do just about everything but go to class. However being as they were I totally knew how to handle it. Takes one to know one right?! After a quick call to the house I had some candy brought over to bribe their obedience and some videos to teach them with. I rallied them all up with the candy and then brought them into a classroom where we taught them using the bible videos and mormon messages that Mom and Dad just sent me. By the end of class we had them all ready to be interviewed for their baptisms which we are planning for this next week.
    The amazingness didn't even end there. Here members are super pilas on Sundays and just about every sunday they go pair off and teach the less actives that are in the branch. This week we had the pleasure of going and teaching with President Vasquez. He brought us to one of the first members of Rio Blanco and we sat and visited with him for a while and then he brought us over to a non members house. As we got to the house we didn't think that anyone was there. It was raining outside, all of the doors were closed and it was nice and cold. but as we started to talk a door opened and a little kid invited us inside. We talked with him and his family for a while, taught them a bit but more so just really got to know them. After a little while they invited us into the kitchen for a little bit of Cafe (here cafe no es cafe. they have something called morCaf which is actually like a hot chocolate make out of corn and other stuff - not sure what the other stuff consists of) as we were in the kitchen talking to the family the same kid that had initially invited us into the house had changed his clothes and walked into the kitchen in his Sunday best, excited about what we had said and kinda wanting to be like us. He didn't have a tie on though so I called him over to me and took my own tie off and put it on him. The smile on his face said it all and after all that we had been talking about with his mother, she was super happy about the example and love that we were giving her son. I have now doubt that she will a super fiel member of the church soon and her kids as well.
       Well I'm still up here in the altaplano  for the next six weeks - I will not be leaving and I have to say I am very happy I am not leaving.!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Week #42: Two Giants and the Misty Mountains

Where's Waldo?

It has been a great week, a little hectic and long in travel but I'm just starting to accept that as a norm of the mission. This week holds changes and everyone at the moment is a little antsy to see what lies in store.  As a zone our thoughts on the matter is that Elder Amundson, our zone leader Elder Mecham who has 5 changes in his area and I will be leaving the zone. This however is simply guesstimates, and we won't know what will actually happen for a few days. However I will be packing my bags tonight just in case. In the mission we learn to prepare for the worst and to hope and pray for the best.
          In other news things are on fire up in Rio Blanco. We are having more success at the moment then that the area has seen in quite some time. Even the members and investigators that we have are putting some additional fuel on the fire. This Sunday we had 13 inv. in church and between us and our tag team comps Rio Blanco we have put seven fechas with the people we are teaching and there are many others following this same path. We can really feel the blessings coming in from the lord and know that the success we are having is coming through him and the inspiration he put in the hearts of the people as they were there in General Conference broadcast.
        This week we weren't in our area for 3 days. :(  As we started our district meeting on Wednesday morning we received a call from the office notifying us that we (Elder Murillo and I) had to be down in Reu by 7:00pm that same day in order to take a bus at 4am in the morning the next day to go to Guate for Elder Murillos visa papers.  Long story short 20 hours of travel later we made it two Guatemala City and back up to Rio Blanco.  I will be fine if I never step foot in a bus again...but yeah thats not going to happen. The best part about it all is that we pranked Elder Saxton during this time telling him that I had emergency changes and that President would be sending another Latino up there for him.
         When we got back, we got back to work, visiting everyone. Elder Amundson even came up to do some interviews that we have in Maclen, Rio Blanco and Chuicaval, and in order to do them Elder Amundson went over with Elder Murillo to Chuicaval and I with Elder Saxton to Caprican. After walking over in Caprican we had a little service opportunity though I wouldn't really refer to it as small.  The service involved moving 5 giant wardrobes (like the entertainment center size one that we have back home) up a tiny staircase that is barely wide enough to fit a chair through I wish I had taken pictures it must have looked pretty crazy.  I guess this is training for the Elder's Quorum when I get back home and the EQ Moving Company.   After we finished there we went over to teach a family, this lesson started out with us teaching two people and by the end we finished with more that 25 people in attendance.   It was a cool moment and they even offered to have us sleep over knowing that we had a 2hr walk in front of us to get back to Rio Blanco, but we had to get back so we took a picture with them turned down some coffee, drank some hot water and then made the 8.3 km walk back to Rio Blanco. It was a beautiful night!
        As Sunday came around we went to church and found eight investigators in the building. Now that is something better than any christmas present I can remember.  We had so many people visiting that we had a class of pure invs and a few members to help teach with us. It was a pretty cool lesson and moments like those make all the walking and bus riding we do worth it.
        I don't know what this week will hold for me. I dont know if I will have changes, but I do know that life in the mission is awesome and that if I do leave I will leave with amazing memories, a new family and the knowledge that I have worked my butt off to help every person that I have had the pleasure of getting to know in my time here.  Signing off! See you later, or at least write to you next week!

The Misty Mountains

A couple of giants in the misty mountains

Monday, April 6, 2015

Week #41: Inviting all to come to General Conference

Alrighty the whole call Rio Blanco to conference initiative worked rather well. After many invitations and a lot of work through the members we ended up bringing the most Inv in all of the zone and are probably up there in the running for the most in all of the mission. Needless to say its been a pretty good week.
    We started this week off nice and early. Like 4:00 oclock in the freezing early morning, walking 40 mins to our first cita of the day, kinda early.  Yeah know I think I really understand the farmers plight a little better after one day in their boots. On Sunday we were talking with one of our investigator families that we have and asked them if they had planted their corn crop yet. (its just about that time so its a good conversation starter) they replied that they had not and being the optimistic and naive missionaries that we are, we offered to help, thinking it would be some pretty easy work. The next Tuesday just getting out of bed a pleasant 2 and a half hours early for the second day and a role, proved to be pretty hard and we hadn't even started on the real work yet. As we sleep-walked our way over to their house in the cold dark morning I started to get the feeling that we had no idea what we had just signed up to do. This thought could not have been more accurate as the next few hours unfolded. I don't know how many of you have ever had the lovely experience of working with a little piece of advanced machinery called a hoe all morning long, but after a few short mins you start to really feel the sweat on your brow beginning to gather. After 8 Hours of this arduous work you can only imagine the delight our bodies were feeling as we finally finished and made our way back up the mountain to celebrate with a well needed lunch. As we finished I thought it feels kinda nice to do a good days work (like work manual labor work work) but I don't know If I ever want to do it again. However now that a few days have past, we can already start to see the fruits of our labors. Everyone in this family attended conference and even some of the other workers we were with came along with them. +5 for service efforts!
     As Wednesday came along we went along the long main road stopping from house to house reminding every one of the members to invite people to conference and inviting those of the roadside until it was time for lunch. As we finished lunch we helped out our district presidents family with some of the Semana santa food they were preparing.   However along the way found out that with it being semana Santa and all that there would be no buses going down to San Pedro from Rio Blanco. We had a Multi Zone Conference with President Ruiz that next day so... no buses was kinda a problem. After about a good 20 or so calls between us, the zone leaders and the many members in the area we found a ride down to San the house we were giving service to. But at least we got down there nice and quick unlike the other elders in Rio Blanco who were over in Caprican (hrs away from us walking) who ended up taking a 2hr bus to Xela and from Xela a 2hr Bus to San Pedro. Lucky them. The next day the Conference went amazing and we were all pretty motivated for some goals we had set for General conference that month and the next month.
         Once we got back to Rio Blanco it was full on crazy mode to invite everyone to conference. But for some reason Rio Blanco didn't know this, and everyone decided to leave and go to the beach. But we did what we could with who was there, and still managed to hand out every one of the invitations that we had printed out.  We also set up announcements at the local Radio Station for General Conference. As Conference began the next day we started to see a few people trickle in until we hit the sunday morning season were the floodgates opened and 20 inv flowed on in. All and all conference was a success and amazing as always and now we have a lot of work on our hands with all of the new people who came to conference.