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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 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 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..... (

Shower'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...