Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Week 1 Arrival at Guatemala MTC

Week 1 Guatemala MTC 

Hey everyone! Wow, I can’t believe that it’s been a week already. Time in the MTC is weird; the days seem to take forever (usually by 2:00 I think that it should be time for dinner) but the weeks (or at least the first week) fly by. I’ve only got 47.32 minutes left to write this, so I’ll try and hit all the highlights.

My flight to Guatemala. This was less than fun. My nice and easy flight schedule took me from Medford to San Francisco to LA to Guatemala, arriving at 6:00 in the morning after 12 hours of travel. When I got to the airport, I found out, however, that my flight was delayed, forcing me to miss my connections. After an intense period of negotiations led by my Dad, I was able to get a flight from Medford to San Francisco, then to Atlanta, then to Guatemala, arriving more than 24 hours after I left. I’m not complaining though; it helped me realize how silly it was to complain about spending a whole 12 or 24 hours traveling thousands of miles. It really wasn’t too bad. I also had the chance to do some great service missionary work on my flight from Atlanta to Guatemala, but I don’t think I have time to explain it all here. That will have to go in a letter. Flying into Guatemala City was amazing. It was night and as I flew in I could see lightning jumping from cloud to cloud. I can finally check that off my bucket list (seeing a thunder storm from above was just as cool as I thought it could be). I then had the experience of flying through a thunderstorm. It was pretty intense. I have to assume that we were stuck because we weren’t grounded or something to that effect. It’s been a while since I took Physics though... after we descended below the clouds I could see all of Guatemala City. It seemed more spread out and less built up than big cities in America, but it seemed to stretch on forever. One of the coolest things was being able to see the numerous sinkholes that have spread in Guatemala City. I didn’t see any of the perfectly round, deep ones I was imagining, but I saw others that were just as cool. The best way I can describe it is by saying that it looked a lot like the scene in RotK (Ethan Editing: that’s Return of the King from Lord of the Rings) after the ring is destroyed and all the land the orcs are standing on crumbles down. Sorry about that analogy, but it really does fit.

I was immediately forced to speak Spanish as the person who picked me up barely spoke any English. It made me realize that I’m not quite as good at Spanish as I thought. Being able to read the BOM in Spanish does not mean I can speak it. It’s amazing how quickly you learn and improve at the MTC though. I doubt I’ll be fluent by the time I leave, but I should be able to hold my own.

Ok, now about the MTC. It’s much smaller than I thought, only 140 people, about 50 of whom are Hermanas and 32 of whom are Hispanicos, but they only stay for two weeks. One great thing about the Guatemalan MTC is that it is literally one Shell gas station away from the temple. Normally we go every week on our P day, which is Wednesday, but they just closed the temple for cleaning. Luckily we were able to go once before that and it was a great experience. Hopefully it will open up in not too much longer. Another thing I love about the MTC is that all their artwork is about Christ visiting the Americas or other scenes from the Book of Mormon. It’s great to think that this is where it all happened and that we will be fulfilling many of the promises in the BOM as we teaching the descendants of those people.

Now onto the food. So far it seems like they’re not being super aggressive at getting us acclimatized to Guatemalan food. For breakfast we normally have something very Guatemalan. Lots of eggs, beans, and salsa. Lunch is usually something more familiar, like lasagna, and dinner is a mix of the two. I have been able to try some Guatemalan desserts and there are definitely some major winners. One of my favorites was some type of fried or doughnuty pudding. At first we thought it was sitting in a pool of oil, but that just turned out to be fruit juice. I’ve also been able to try a lot of Guatemalan ice cream. Just the type that might be sold in vending machines in America. Things like ice cream bars, drumstick imitations, and small ice cream cups. Last night I had an ice cream bar that was labeled "sabor chicle." it wasn’t a very pleasant experience and left me smelling like almond extract for quite a while, but it’s all part of the experience I suppose. My favorite thing I’ve eaten here was some hot chocolate that they had last night. Honestly, the stuff we drink doesn’t deserve to be called by the same name. I really can’t describe it. Hopefully as I come back I’ll be able to bring some of the chocolate they used. Oh, and Mom and Dad, you will be disappointed to hear that apparently, like BYU, the Guatemalan MTC still hasn’t picked up on the "eat meat sparingly" part of the Word of Wisdom. They serve eggs for breakfast and meat at the other two meals. It really is too much. I definitely miss a Mom-cooked vegan meal every once and a while.

Speaking of food, I’ve learned that pretty much everything in Guatemala is trying to make you very, very sick. We can’t drink the tap water; we can’t even use it to brush our teeth. When we take showers we have to keep our mouths closed and wear sandals so we don’t get worms through our feet. Apparently they use very natural fertilizer on their fruit, if you know what I mean, so if you eat too much of that you’ll get sick too. Because of that, I’ve been trying to stick to fruit that you have to peel. My favorite has been the lychee. Incredibly good, and I can peel it myself, so I know that the knife used to cut it wasn’t just slicing up raw chicken. however, I think the cooks at the MTC run a relatively tight ship. I’ve only found one bug in my food so far which apparently is a pretty common occurrence down here.

My district. There are twelve people in my district, all of them elders, no hermanas for whatever reason. Most of them are going to El Salvador, which is disappointing because they’re all super cool. It reminds me a lot of my hall at BYU. Speaking of which, one of the people in my district is Elder Kione Kapisi, who apparently stayed on the other wing of the second floor in May hall but whom I had never met before this. He knew a lot of 114th warders though, which is cool. My companion is named Elder Applegate. He’s really nice and chill. We’ve been able to teach some good lessons together so far.

Ok, that brings me to my next point. We began teaching an investigator named Alvin Montes as a district (8 companionships obviously, but we each teach him every night). On our second day, suspicious as I am, I was confident that he was really a member of the church on my first lesson with him. Because of that, my teaching suffered. I thought of him more as a chance to practice teaching than an actual person I could help, and I didn’t have the spirit with me because of that. I felt really bad that night when I found out he was a real investigator but luckily I’ve had plenty more chances to teach him. The next lessons went much better. We all felt the spirit and on Saturday I issued my first baptismal challenge. He said he would if God continued to answer his prayers with respect to the church. He actually attended church last Sunday and prayed and felt the spirit. That night he said he even had a dream that angels dressed as missionaries came to him and gave him the BOM, which he read. We teach him for the last time tonight. Hopefully he’ll decide to be baptized! So exciting! Sorry to leave you all with such a cliff hanger.

Ahh! There goes my time.  Adios!

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