Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Week 7

[Editor's note: Josh missed writing last week.  In the MTC he wrote on Wednesday and in the field they write on Tuesday.  As he transferred on Wednesday, he missed both opportunities.]

Ok, things just got real. One week ago today I left the comfort, luxury, and safety of the CCM for the real mission field. Those first two days were probably the hardest of my life.  My mission president, President Brough, is awesome. His two main points of emphasis are that missionaries in the Gmala City Central mission are exactly obedient and work HARD. I was worried that I would find that my mission wasn´t this way, but he quickly put those fears to rest. Clearly, his policies are working. My mission is the currently the highest baptizing in Central America and in the top five in the world.  In June we had 344 baptisms. 

 Anyway, as I was saying, the first two days were incredibly difficult. One of our mottos is "there is urgency in the work." Because of this, we always speed walk everywhere we go, so that we don’t waste any time. Also, we almost always get back at 920 in the night because we schedule an appointment just before 9 so we can work for longer. We also normally get up at 530 (actually, the second day we got up at 500) so we can begin working earlier in the morning. The first day, after all our orientation meetings in the mission home, all the new missionaries went out to work. We were all paired up with a missionary who has been in the field for some time. I was with one of the Assistants to the President who only had one day left in the field. We practically ran up and down hills all day. Our efforts paid off though; even though we were only out for half a day, we taught 12 lessons and made a bunch of contacts. Still, by the time we went back to the place we were staying for the night I was absolutely wiped. It was nice to see that the other new missionaries were just as red faced and completely soaked in sweat.

The next morning we were off to transfer meeting where I was assigned my first area and companion, Villa Canales (a small town a ways outside of Gmala city) and Elder Lopez respectively.  He´s a great missionary and works equally hard.  Life here in Villa Canales is so different. The poverty is absolutely unbelievable. We go tracting everyday through shanty towns made of corrugated steel.  The streets are full of garbage. There are dogs everywhere here. Not nice dogs like in the US, but disease ridden ones that have to eat whatever scraps they can find. Apparently one of the reasons why were not allowed to eat any street food is because often the dogs in the street are killed and used as a cheap substitute for chicken or beef. Needless to say, I am totally ok with that rule.  One of the most revealing moments for me was when we left the poorer part of our area and went to teach in what is literally a gated community. Everything seemed so clean and nice, then I realized that it was still far poorer that the poorest part of Medford. I never fully realized just how blessed I was (and still am). Ethan, Seth, and Adam, I hope you guys never complain to mom about anything, because we´ve got nothing to complain about. 

One of my ongoing adventures is my war against the cockroaches in the house I’m staying in. There is a huge nest in my bed. The first night when I flipped my mattress over, there were so many cockroaches that there were cockroaches climbing on top of other cockroaches. 

Even though it´s hard here, I´m so grateful that I have the chance to serve a mission in the Gmala central mission. I love spending all day teaching about the gospel. The spirit is so strong. It really is incredible. Hopefully I didn't sound like I was complaining, because I really do love it here. Just know that we are all more blessed than we realize.

Josh with President and Sister Brough

Three generations:  My trainer on my right, and his trainer on my left.

These are some pictures of my district right before we went to the temple for the last time and right before our teacher Hermano Cuque left for BYU.  You can see that another elder is in the process of stealing my name tag. I must say, i got pretty good at snagging both the pocket and suit name tags of other elders. Sadly, in the field that game probably isn´t appropriate anymore. I still instinctively reach for my tag whenever anyone walks behind me so that they don't steal it.  Probably not the best habit.

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