Monday, March 25, 2013

Super Stressful Week

So this was a super stressful week. The worst so far, my comp and I both agreed it was the most stressful week of our mission so far, just so many things to think about and getting everyone settled in, super crazy! But I'll try to explain some of the highlights. Tuesday was the changes and obviously I didn't have changes or else I would have said something last week! But none the less we still go to the changes to help out and get the missionaries off to our zone safely and without problems. This change everyone that had changes from our zone, president replaced them with a new missionary, or in other words there are a lot of people training right now in our zone! Which is a great thing, there is a great attitude that the greenies bring to the work. But one of the areas President closed, and reopened again, so I went with Elder Earl to Oratorio to show him the area. Now if you remember back oooo like a year ago I went to Morales, I don't remember if I mentioned it then, to drop off some furniture that the assistants dropped off in our house in Teculutan. But I went to Morales and while there we ate with the missionaries there, well Elder Earl was new then, maybe had one month in the field. We had a good chat and who would have guessed that our paths would cross again. He is the new district leader down there in that district. So divisions went well, we found the house alright, (I had only been there once) found the commodore based solely on Guatemalan directions (they are the worst at giving directions...Here is a typical Guatemalan direction...Walk out and go down a ways until you get to a green house, go up the side street that's there and look for a tree, once you find the tree turn right, go until you come upon a dog that is barking, if he barks 3 times that's the house but if he only barks twice you need to go a little farther until you find the house that’s made of cinder block. (All the houses here are made of cinder block.....) Once you come upon the block house it's on this side (then they make an incomprehensible hand signal) and say "uh huh that's the house." That is a Guatemalan direction. But we found everything in Oratorio alright; we got to know the branch president, the chapel and some member houses. They are going to rock that area, the members are stoked to help out the missionaries and elder Earl is an amazing missionary, just super positive pumped and ready to go. I am excited to have him as the district leader to be able to work closely with him. So Wednesday we ended divisions in the morning and that day it decided to rain. A Guatemalan down pour. That is something that will be different once I come home... 10 things I am used to now here... 1. Guatemalan down pours, it is literally like switch, comes on and off just like it’s nothing. 2. They eat corn tortillas every meal.... But a ton! 3. Always having fleas on me. 4. Always having trash in the streets. 5. Tile... Everywhere, zero carpet. 6. No rules with transportation, anything goes. 7. Chicken every meal. 8. Cooking with wood. 9. Having to always worry about clean water, and clean fruits and veggies. 10. Having people always staring at me cause I'm white. There you have it a random thought. So we are going to marry a couple and then baptize the wife! But this has turned into a huge mess.... The thing is we aren’t good wedding planners and they want a huge wedding... But long story short we figured all the problems got everything planned and next Wednesday at four we are going to have a wedding!!! ...... If this next part sounds negative or bad don't include it in the blog..... But we made the promise to Elder Martino that we would personally baptize a family in March... That has put so much pressure on us, this week has been a nightmare trying to keep our investigators from falling, the family that we have planned to baptize want to get baptized, but just not so soon, April would be a great time for everyone, but we are pressuring them for March to complete our promise but I feel horrible that it is turning out like this... I tell my comp that every day that I don't feel good about it. They are poor a young couple starting their life together so they don't have a lot of money, and they wanted a huge wedding, so basically the branch has been amazing and are totally supporting us and helping out with the wedding literally with everything, it has been a nightmare trying to get all the problems figured out.... I feel like Preston planning a wedding, only this one we only have a week to plan and pull it off. Just little problems like where to do it, cause the mom of the bride supposedly wouldn't step foot in a Mormon chapel...Or they want to invite 70 people, and then they wanted a dinner...Just small things like that. If we hadn't made that promise to elder Martino we would not be putting so much work and effort into all this, we would have waited until April so that we could plan with more time and not do something so big. But it’s not like that so we are doing everything within our power to come through with that promise but I feel bad because the branch is basically providing everything, between the branch and the members, and we are rushing forward to do it all and pressuring to get it done.... The zone as far as baptisms and completing our goal we are going to fall short I think, at the beginning of the month we were doing great we had a ton of fechas, but they have slowly all fallen and Semana Santa has a lot to do with that, if you remember I think I explained Semana Santa last year, but basically it is a nightmare for the missionary work. 1. Because the whole country shuts down literally. 2. Everyone goes out of town. 3. Everyone turns catholic for this week. Let me put an example of what it's like, let’s pretend we are missionaries in the states, and as part of our zone we cover a party school, and we put a bunch of fechas with college students, but we put the fechas for over spring break.... That's basically what's going on here, but things will turn out great! This upcoming week we should have 9 baptisms in the zone!! Just pray everything turns out great. So Friday we had a zone meeting, to get to know everyone and to address a couple needs that the zone is facing right now. In preparing for this meeting we felt the needs of the zone is that their spirits are a little down, discouraged or just not stoked to be out here!!! So our purpose was to get their spirits up, and we also felt that obedience or doing things the Lords was another need. So what we did was we got permission to watch a video that's not by the church but it has a great message, it's called the butterfly circus, it's about how our attitude affects everything, and really how people can change their circumstances, they just need to act! (We feel that the missionaries think their areas are impossible and are waiting for a miracle to come, but really they are the miracle, they just need to realize it.) Look up that video it's really good, it's only about 20 minutes, I promise you won't regret it. So then we talked about how our attitude affects everything and we read from true to the faith....Under the subject adversity: Your success and happiness, both now and in the eternities, depend largely on your responses to the difficulties of life. An account in the Book of Mormon illustrates different responses to adversity. The prophet Lehi and his family had been traveling in the wilderness for several days, using their bows and arrows to hunt for food. The family encountered difficulties when Lehi’s sons lost the use of their bows. Laman and Lemuel’s bows lost their spring, and Nephi’s broke. Hungry and tired, Laman and Lemuel began to complain against the Lord. Even Lehi began to murmur. Nephi, on the other hand, refused to be discouraged. He went to work. He recounted: “I, Nephi, did make out of wood a bow, and out of a straight stick, an arrow; wherefore, I did arm myself with a bow and an arrow, with a sling and with stones. And I said unto my father: Whither shall I go to obtain food?” Humbled because of Nephi’s words, Lehi asked the Lord where they should go for food. The Lord answered his prayers and led Nephi to a place where he could obtain food. (See 1 Nephi 16:15–31.) When some people face adversity, they are like Laman and Lemuel. They complain and become bitter. They ask questions like “Why does this have to happen to me? Why do I have to suffer this now? What have I done to deserve this?” But these questions have the power to dominate their thoughts. Such questions can overtake their vision, absorb their energy, and deprive them of the experiences the Lord wants them to receive. Rather than responding in this way, you should follow Nephi’s example. Consider asking questions such as, “What am I to do? What am I to learn from this experience? What am I to change? Who am I to help? How can I remember my many blessings in times of trial?” After we watched a video of Elder Holland talking to missionaries in the MTC, it is very similar to his talk 2 conferences ago about when he tells about the Savior asking Pedro if he loves him, when peter response yes, you know I love you, the Savior responds then why are you fishing?! I asked you to leave your nets behind, and to feed my sheep, its super intense, there is more to it, but it is amazing and just what our zone needed, if you want to watch it the video is called "apacienta mis ovejas" it is in English with Spanish subtitles. We watched from like minute 36 to the end about 14 minutes. It was amazing after we talked about how the Lord has called us for two years, not 15 or 23 months but two years that's all he requires of us, we can't have one foot in the mission and one foot in the world. It went very well the spirit was very strong and I think it helped. Dad I got your package that you so much! Did I win the lottery? And I have a question was Forest Gump real? Those newspaper articles got me almost convinced that Forest Gump was real. So Diego we taught him last night and he would be what we call golden, he is so ready for this gospel!! We are preparing him to be baptized in April he has such a strong desire to change his life and just start all over again. So I want to explain a really cool spiritual lesson we had. We were eating dinner with members and their neighbor came over to get something and we got talking and turns out her brother just barely died unexpectedly, and she is suffering a lot so my comp asked her if she would like to know where her brother is and she said I would so we put an appointment to come back the next night “in the house of the member” (members are key). We came back the next day and she was waiting for us and so we explained where her brother was, how he is in the spirit world and how she can help him, and we explained baptisms for the dead, it's usually something we don't teach right off the bat but it's something that she needed to hear. The spirit was super strong and she said it helped her a lot and she is going to try to explain it to her mother, and try to put an appointment with her mother and us. Lately I have felt the spirit is a lot stronger in our lessons and I am starting to recognize it more and more in my life I love it! Wow I think I broke a record with this letter, by far the longest yet! Love you all have a great week!

Monday, March 18, 2013

A Semi Normal Week? Is There Such A Thing?

Finally a semi normal week without too many surprises! First let me start off with Tuesday y el templo!!! I love to see the temple I'll go inside someday. (Oh wait I entered Tuesday!) I loved it, I feel like this time was one of the best experiences I have had in the temple, it is just so peaceful. It was definitely a nice break from things. From the temple we started divisions and I went to Jalpatagua to do a baptismal interview. Now as you remember last time I was in Jalpatagua I had a run in with a dead lady ... This time it was chill and nothing out of the ordinary happened (luckily). The interview went well, she was baptized Saturday, and honestly nothing else too exciting happened... Only that they called a new pope?!! And he just so happens to be from Latin America so everyone here was super happy that day even though Argentina is far from Guatemala; they celebrated as if he was from Guatemala. I saw history happen! Not gonna lie this week was a blur and I hardly remember anything that happened. We did have a really cool lesson with a reference from Cuilapa. His name is Diego, he is super humble, but also has class, idk how else to describe him, he had some questions about the plan (why we Are here and where are we going. Etc.) so we met with him in the church and taught him, it was a super powerful lesson! He is a really cool investigator and I hope he progresses. Sunday we had our district conference; president and hma Stay came and spoke. It was in Cuilapa and boy was it hot, the chapel is right in the middle of the market where all the people pass by selling and where the busses pass picking up the people, so there is always so much noise going on, which makes it kinda hard to focus on the meeting. But we had 9 investigators come with us! It was a miracle!! One of them was Diego! After talking to him he says he has a Lot of questions which is always great! We meet with him tomorrow, pray for him! Changes are tomorrow, should be interesting to see who ends up where, also basically an one that gets sent to Zacapa or my one of my first two zones will probably be a part of the new mission. Anyone that is in those areas by July first will become a part of the new mission. Sunday before the conference we had a branch counsel, which went well we are starting to feel the support of the branch with our investigators. We are going to marry a couple and then baptize them, the plan was to do it the 30th, but here from like the 23 to the 31 is semana Santa.... Idk if you remember that holiday from last year, but. Basically the whole country (all of Central America) shuts down and goes on vacation, they go to whatever water place; the beach, river, pools, and they drink.... As missionaries it is the hardest week here because literally everyone leaves. So we have to switch our plans to marry them, we are going to try to bump it up to this weekend... But that is super soon and it's just going to be a huge mess! But we have to do it!! Remember the conference we had with elder Martino? Well he is going to Skype us in April and check up on us and see if we completed our goal of baptisms and families, so we have to baptize our family this month!!! It's do or die!!! But also it's not like we are forcing them... She has revived her answer and she wants to be baptized, (her husband is a LA we activated) so we shall see how things turn out.... Pray for us were gonna need all the help we can get. So I wanna share a really cool experience we had, really powerful. The lady that washes are clothes they are super poor and all are members. But only her and her two youngest children attend, there are like four others that are inactive, her husband died about 4 years ago, and he was the one that motivated everyone to go. So we went randomly with them idk why really, and we found ourselves with one of her sons, he's 22, he loves to work outdoors in the coffee fields or working in manual labor. But we went with him and had a super powerful lesson that made him reflect and think things over again, about where he wants his life to go, if he wants to go back and live with his dad again and if he is living up to what he dad expects of him. Made him reevaluate the things, the spirit was super strong and he was stoked, we also talked about the mission, it would be awesome if he went on the mission, he would be a great one. My comp is 23 got baptized when he was 21, left when he was 22 and now is 23, so he testified boldly of how the is the right thing for him and how it will change his life. We invited him to pray and consider it. Well we had other awesome experiences but I don't remember right now, this week was more chill and not as crazy as the other ones, it was a good breather to relax and catch our breathes and just focus on our area. But changes this week things will get real crazy real fast! I love you all and I am so grateful for the opportunity to be out here, something I mentioned a lot this week was about how I am so grateful to my parents for raising me in the gospel and teaching me since I was little about the gospel. Here there are tons of families that are dysfunctional or the kids are doing way bad things super early on, but if only the parents would teach the gospel and do the things they are supposed to be doing there would be so many less problems. Entonces I am forever grateful to you mom and dad for teaching the gospel and helping me along the way. I love you and thank you.

Monday, March 11, 2013

I've Been Everywhere Man!!!

So Johnny Cash has a song called "I've been everywhere man" and that is the story of our lives right now!! We are all over the place doing tons of things, it has been a crazy week and we definitely kept ourselves busy! Tuesday and Wednesday were normal work days and how good it felt to have a normal day where we don't have to leave our area to go do things. Thursday the assistant Elder Urmston from California came and worked with us for the day, and his comp went to a different area to work. He is a chill great guy. We grew up together in Zacapa, (I have one more change than him, and his first area was Zacapa) it was fun to reminisce about our days out there. The day went well, it was full of appointments and most of them didn't fall, and the ones that did fall we had back up plans so there was never a moment when we all stood asking... Well now what?... Honestly right now we have so many investigators that we have in our teaching pool, and it's amazing! It is so much work to always stay on top of things and to really focus in on the needs of each one and to help them progress spiritually but it's so worth it! I would rather be super busy than have hardly any investigators! I definitely can't complain right now. Remember that time I went to California spur of the moment with only like 80 dollars? And spent a different day with a different friend, without a plan or idea of what I was going to do? Ya well that is how I spent Friday and Saturday just a constant go go go!! Friday morning we had to drop Urmston off in Jutiapa... Look it up on a map... And you will see that it's not close to Barberena, we left early on a grey hound and the journey over there as crazy! Windy mountain passes and a sketchy bus driver who thinks he is in the Indy 500, but we were blessed with protection and came out alive! But really it felt like we were on a roller coaster the whole time. (oh and the bus was flea infested) well after we had to go to Chiquimula (look it up and you will see that it is far from Barberena, but even farther from Jutiapa...) but we had to do an interview out there, so long story short my comp left for there with another missionary and we followed after the meeting, basically traveling the whole day cause the missionaries forgot to mention that it was another hour away once in Chiquimula... So the plan was to return that same day, but nothing goes according to plan here in Guatemala and my comp didn't return until 520, 20 minutes after the last bus left :( so we tried hitch hiking (we did not want to stay the night in that oven!) but nothing, so we stayed the night there and helped out the missionaries there until the next day when we left on the first bus at 5. That is so early!!! 5 am. But we got back to the house only to change, fill up the stomach and we were off again. But this time to Ixbaco or something like that, in pueblo Nuevo Viñas. There was a missionary who served there but lives in the capital, and he organized a service project with his ward and asked us to come help... so we went with the other missionaries. They brought a ton of clothing and humanitarian kits and so we went to a aldea ...village... way off in the mountains, but super far, and we gave out the clothes and the kits, it was awesome, I love giving service, especially when you can see a difference in the person and see that you helped make their day, there is nothing better. Well after there is a Laguna close by... so we went up to go see it and how breathe taking! It was truly so beautiful!! It was a hot water spring at the base of a volcano and it was sulfur so it smelt bad but it was amazing!! I’m going to send a ton of photos, of our adventure that day... it was one of the funnest, worthwhile days we’ve had in a while!! So we are seeing a ton of miracles here in Barberena, tons of families, but I will tell you about 2 today.... with one she is the wife of a less active, super solid catholic, but we have been teaching her, and she hasn’t really wanted anything, she told us she didn’t want to be baptized because she loved her orando a su imagens ... praying to the images?..... something like that so we got the catholic bible and went and shared a couple scriptures where it mentions that we shouldn’t do those types of things, and she was super open and we did it in a good way so that no feelings were hurt. And then she told us she wants to be baptized!!! That she thinks she has received her answer! Miracle!! Also we visited another family that we have, a mother and her kids are old now and married, so the daughter and husband we visited... well this guy is huge! He looks like Thor or a WWF wrestler! Long hair and beard just a champ! a little intimidating, but we got talking with him and he is just super down, he has almost hit rock bottom he feels, so we talked a lot about hope in Jesus Christ and also the atonement and a whole bunch of other things, and he was crying, super strong spirit, we gave him hope and we are going to help him turn his life around and get things going again! AND he came to church the next day! Another miracle... We are working hard, ridiculously hard, like there is never enough time to do everything, we need to plan and focus our selves in the things that absolutely matter cause if not we get lost doing other things that are good but not the best thing we could be doing! Well up to bat this week we have the temple tomorrow!!!! super stoked for that, and then probably divisions with Jalpatagua, and then who know what we have to do this weekend... I’m sure something will come up as always... well family I love you all have a great week!!! Just know this church is true, it’s great!! It’s amazing! I love being out here as a missionary, I love helping other people and I love this gospel!! Take care this week be safe, read your scriptures, think of what Jesus Christ did for each and every one of us. And pray always, those are the best things we can always do!!!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Happy Birthday To Me!!!

Happy birthday to me! (and Preston) I'm 21! I can now buy alcohol!! Crazy! But it's not that cool cause they sell drugs and alcohol to anyone here :( JK but still, I am an adult now and I don’t feel like it. So we didn’t tell a lot of people that it was my birthday but somehow we ended up eating cake Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday! The members were so great, Tuesday we were just walking in the street passed by a member’s house and they shouted for us to come in, turned out it was their little girls birthday and somehow they messed up and bought two cakes and somehow we just ended up there, but it was great!! Everything worked out great! Wednesday we had a little activity that we have every Wednesday a family home evening for our investigators and members and we ate tacos (not cow brain, but normal chicken ones) which were amazing! Then other members kidnapped me and gave me a cake! Thursday the family who just barely sent their son off made a huge dinner for us! But ridiculously big and so delicious!! I love them so much they are so loving and amazing! Also on my birthday we had interviews with president! He wished me a Happy Birthday and sister stay gave me a cookie that was amazing! (She gave one to everyone) Friday we had another zone counsel with president, with just the zone leaders. We are really focusing and working towards every companionship baptizing a family in March. That is like our biggest goal and everything that we do is to support that goal, we put the goal that 8 families (18 people) are baptized here in zona Cuilapa, that's a pretty high goal for this zone but I know we can reach it! We are pretty stoked about it and we are trying to get everyone on board and stoked also! So far it is coming along great, and so we shall see how everything turns out. But during the zone counsel I was so tired! Traveling for 2 hours and then sitting for another 3 hours just kills me! Also another goal that we are focusing on is working with the members.... Lemme explain because we are so sneaky and sly that they don’t even know it. The thing is if we ask for references the members put up a wall and don’t wanna help. so what we are doing are teaching a little about the plan of salvation, then we ask 5 questions, if they know if anyone that has experienced a death, had a baby born, marriage, moved recently to the neighborhood or are having trouble with their kids.... People here are gossipers always gossiping so they always say yes, then we invite them to come with us and if they can introduce us to them, then we teach a little then we put an appointment with them and then the member asks if we could do it in their house and we end up teaching their neighbor in their house!!! It usually always works! There is more to it but like no time today! But that is what we are doing here! Saturday we had a mini branch conference in an area called Pueblo Nuevo Viñas it was the branch´s idea to have a small training meeting to help out the branch in a couple areas where they can improve on. The branch president, the missionaries that are there, the district leader and zone leaders all gave ¨tallers¨ or workshops. Ours was on how the members help in missionary work, (we basically explained what I explained up above) the others talked on the branch goals, home and visiting teaching, forgiving and having love, and improving the teaching that takes place in the church. It went very well I am impressed with that branch at the enthusiasm and willingness to change and progress! The conference was awesome and I think they came out ready to work and do things how they are supposed to be done. Saturday we had a baptism it was a little girl of a family we activated. Coming up for baptisms we have a ton of possibilities. We are focusing on families as the goal so they can we sealed in the temple. Basically couples are what we are focusing on, but obviously if they are single and they desire to be baptized we will still baptize them. But it's so much cooler when they can be sealed as a family one year later! We have 2 families we are working with to be baptized in March, pray for them it's gonna be a big battle but I’m positive we can win! We also have a ton of other possibilities but they would be individuals, pray for them all. So idk why but Barberena decided to have a cold front come through, it has been ridiculously cold and windy this weekend, to the point where I woke up shivering and had to put on sweats and a long sleeve shirt to sleep! It got to the point where a lot of our investigators didn't go to church because it was so cold :( and a lot of members also. Umm I’m sorry but I’m not taking photos! I am failing horribly! This has been such a crazy busy week, I always say that but this one was truly jammed packed. But I am exhausted it’s getting to the point where I am getting worn out! And that's not good I'm going to use p day to relax more and maybe plan better so we aren't so exhausted but it's gonna be hard. It's not that we are walking way too much it's the mental task of juggling 8 different things and just doing everything, it's stressful but I love it. I have always like being busier than not so I am happy. And I am using my talents that the lord has blessed me with to help out in missionary work I love it! And I love being so busy!!! Now that I covered all the business side I want to share a couple of spiritual experiences we had this week, we were teaching this young guy, we had taught him our purpose here in life and why we have so many challenges, and this time we were teaching the restoration. Now we are always teaching this, but this time it was different, maybe it was an increase in the spirit, or maybe it was an increase of interest on his part, but at the end I asked how he felt, (we were feeling the spirit super strong and he was too) and he said "I want to cry... but I’m not sad, I feel so peaceful inside" then we went on to explain the purpose of the spirit. We as missionaries live for those kinds of moments!! It was so powerful. Also remember how I explained that we took the members out to introduce us to their neighbors, well in one of those we had the appointment last night in their house, and her life has crossed so many times with the church, he mom was a member, she used to attend but never was baptized, and then she told us that she can’t attend a church because she has 2 babies, and that she was praying that she could attend a meeting in someone’s house, and then we came?!?! God works in mysterious ways. But it is awesome to witness God working through us. I love you guys and thank you all for the birthday wishes! I hope you all have a great week!!!!!!!!