Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Week 13 (and unsent letter from week 12)

Sorry about the lack of an email last week. I was trying to upload a bunch of pictures before my time ran out and apparently I cut it too close. That just means you get two this week. ¡Que suerte!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

¡Buenas! Another great week that's flown by. Several notable events this week. First and most importantly: another baptism last Sunday! It was of Hermano Oscar, the man we married that week. He's going to be a great leader in the church and we are working now to baptize his family. My companion baptized him and he has asked that I confirm him and give him the gift of the Holy Ghost. I'm definitely a little nervous about doing that, and it means that I have to listen perfectly to the Spirit for what to say, be able to say it in Spanish (speaking to him in the "tu" form, not the "usted" that I always use, all in front of the entire ward. However, I'm confident that the Lord will help me as I carry out His work of blessing His children. Actually, with regards to the baptism, the three companionships in our ward all baptized this Sunday, and all baptized middle age men who had been investigating the church for a year or more "eternal investigators." Each one had a challenge that was miraculously resolved so they all could be baptized that day. It was great to see them all finally take that step.

Next update: on Monday we got a call from our Zone leaders (who had themselves just received a call from President Brough, our mission president), that I will stay in Villa Canales this transfer but my companion will leave. I was glad I got to stay, but disappointed that my companion had to leave. We've really been working well together. This means that I have to know all of our area to show it to my new companion when the transfers occur, tomorrow. Also, it's made me realize how sad it is to leave an area, saying goodbye to all your investigators and converts, knowing you'll never see them again (most likely). That really is the missionary life.

This week was also included my first dia de independencia in Guatemala. All of Central America and Mexico celebrate their independence on September 15. The night before tons of youth travel to Antigua (the old capital) and light a torch there. They then run all the way back to their towns bearing the "light of liberty." It is actually a really cool tradition. The people here are so proud of their country and went crazy that night. They played loud music from huge speakers in the street, lit off fire crackers, and danced on the top of buses as they were in motion (which I think is considered slightly risky even in Guatemala, where traffic safety is unheard of). There were also several couples dancing in the streets (some marimba dance that looked a bit like Cha Cha). Seeing that definitely made me miss BYU and my social dance classes. It also made me realize that after two years of walking hunched over to increase my speed my slightly, the nice posture that I worked too hard to develop will be gone. Ha-ha." Sacrifice brings forth the blessings of Heaven" is what I have to remember.

Last P day our Zone hiked a mountain in our area, El Cerro. It was actually pretty fun; although it reminded me a lot of Oregon (there were even evergreen trees! I hadn't seen those in months). Honestly, when we returned to the camping area where the trail began, with the smell of campfire smoke in the air, pine trees all around, and nice clean dirt paths, and I kept expecting to see our family's giant tent sitting somewhere in the forest. I've included some pictures because we could see all of our area from the top.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

This week was the Reunion de los Cambios (transfer meeting). It was actually really fun to be able to go, see all my friends from my group in the CCM, and buy a bunch of ties for 5 Quetzales (62.5 cents) each. I also got to see all the new missionaries who just left the CCM. It feels like forever ago that I was in their shoes and yet I also can't believe how quickly the time has flown by. Our group of nuevos [new missionaries] was primarily elders, but this group had 17 sister missionaries (all but one are from the US) and 7 elders. 

Actually, one things my family might be interested to know is that a few days ago I was reading in Our Heritage, one of the books approved for missionaries and I learned that George Q. Cannon was the General Authority (I believe he was 1st councilor at the time, although I don't remember to which prophet) to announce that sisters were able to serve missions. I'm sure he's glad with the impressive influx of sisters in the field in the past year or so.

Anyway, in the meeting Elder Lopez was called to be a Zone Leader in Villa Nueva and I received my new companion, Elder Diaz, from Honduras. He's actually almost done with his mission and just finished serving as a secretary in the mission office. I knew we'd get along when he walked into our house the first night and was rather disgusted by how dirty it was. After 6 weeks of waiting, we finally had the all P Day long cleaning party I've been waiting for. I still don't like to let my food touch anything in the house and obviously we still wear our sandals everywhere, but it's a huge improvement. 

Ok, it's a little difficult to concentrate right now because a few computers away from me someone (not a missionary obviously,) is watching The Avengers in Spanish with the speakers at full volume. That's actually one of the things I've really missed, watching movies. In the market and in stands along the street they sell tons of pirated movies. I saw the LOTR Trilogy in one disc for just a few Quetzales. They don't even have to be good movies, I still miss them. But, as with all the other sacrifices I'm making (of which not seeing movies for two years is relatively insignificant), it's definitely worth it. This is the only chance I will have to so completely dedicate all my might, mind, and strength to the Lord. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Week 12

[There is no official blog update this week from Josh but here is an excerpt from a letter he sent to his parents.]

I'm finding ways to eat more healthy and perhaps even stay within my budget.  As far as spiritual experiences go, the main thing has just been the mantle of a missionary. It's incredible how much I have been blessed to be able to do what I am doing. To do things like shout in buses, live in such unsanitary conditions, and have absolutely no personal time. Often 15 minutes to get ready for bed, write in my journal, and eat and prepare dinner.

Also, it's incredible how often I feel the spirit, especially during personal study. I have never been so hungry to read the scriptures. I absolutely devour them.  And Jesus the Christ is incredible. I've never loved the video Finding Faith in Christ as much as I do now. Incredible.

The joy I have here in the mission is also directly related to how hard I work. On days when I'm working and teaching all day, I'm incredibly happy.  When I'm not, I miss home, feel tired, etc. The Lord blesses those who serve him. I want others to be able to enjoy the same blessing of growing up in the gospel that I have had.

The hard thing about my ward is that the lack of deep roots in the gospel is readily apparent to someone from the US.  Sacrament meeting always starts 15-20 minutes late and once we had 4 cell phones go off during the sacrament alone. One day we had so many confirmations and the meeting started so late that there was only 7 minutes left for the speakers. Our ward really is incredibly strong.

Love Elder Josh Cannon

Our appartment

Hiking "El Cerro"

To the right of my ear is the chapel.  Above my head is where we live.  Our area is from
my companions rightear all the way to the right and past the end of the picture.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Week 11

Ok, so I started out September with a pretty great week. On Saturday, I attended my first wedding in the field. We (missionaries in general) had been teaching the husband, Hermano Oscar; for almost a year. However, he wasn't married to his wife and she didn't want to have anything to do with the church  She refused to marry him just so he could be baptized.  However, we went in to teach him a week ago and she had had a miraculous change of heart and actually listened to our lesson and agreed to marry Oscar. It was a very quiet service. Just their family, the lawyer, and us in their house, but it was very rewarding. I've included (hopefully) a few pictures.

As I have already written, I have fulfilled several of my lifelong dreams already by getting to wade through a thoroughly flooded street and seeing a volcano erupt. This week I added a few more things to that list.

The first occurred a few days ago. We were walking and it began to rain pretty hard. We then began to hear thunder getting closer and closer. Before long, it was louder and closer than I have ever heard in my life. Finally, there was one clap of thunder that was so close and the rumor later that day was that it struck in the same park that we were in at the time. I couldn't believe how loud and sharp it was. Not at all like the low rumbling I normally hear. It was actually fairly terrifying at the time, although now I'm just thrilled that I could be so close to a lightning strike (don't worry mom and dad, I'm pretty sure I was quite safe.)  There was a bunch of other tall buildings and trees around and there wasn't much more we could have done anyway.

The second experience was even better. We were sitting, teaching a lesson, when I felt a few vibrations in the floor. I thought that someone was pounding on the wall next door, but a few seconds later the ground began to shake even more. I always imagined earthquakes as just shaking the ground back and forth, but actually the ground was moving in all directions. It was way cooler than I ever imagined. I can see how even a relatively small earthquake that doesn't cause much damage can make it impossible to walk. Anyway, the earthquake lasted for a solid 32 seconds but didn't do much more than cause the TV to rock back and forth and make my day.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Week 10

Buenas tardes everyone! I've had a good week. Not a lot to report though. The time really flies when you're working hard. Anyway, today I'll write a little about the weather here because it really is incredible.

 It's generally about 70 degrees or so. I always wear my short sleeve dress shirts and am almost never too hot or too cold. I love the rain and we get a ton here.  Nothing is better that hearing the rain pound on a steel roof and feeling the fresh air.

Because it's always such a comfortable temperature, I don't have to worry about the rain making me feel cold, although I do have to worry about ensuring that my scriptures, the most valuable possession I have now, stay dry. It really is perfect down here.

Everything is so incredibly lush and green. Already I'm dreading returning to the U.S. in two years where the climate isn't nearly as favorable. I guess this is one of the many blessings I've received because of my choice to serve a mission. Two years in paradise.


Elder Cannon