Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Week 17

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

This week has been pretty up and down. The highlight was definitely our zone conference on Friday. The meeting itself was great. We learned a ton from Presidente Brough and left incredibly inspired to improve. We also got fed a nice, "almost like in the US" lunch and then were given all the letters that had arrived for us over the past 6 or so weeks. I was very pleased to see that I got a nice stack, but more on that later. 

As they were distributing the letters, it began to rain, at first just like normal Guatemalan rain, but then it began to rain like I've never seen before. In a matter of minutes the parking lot was beginning to fill with water. We left pretty quickly and, after wading through a small river, we able to catch a bus going back to Villa Canales. As we were driving, we noticed that the streets were filling up with water. Before too long, there was a foot and a half of water flowing through the street; however, at that point the river that flows next to the street had filled to the point that it burst its banks and completely flooded the street. It was pretty intense. It looked exactly like what I had seen on TV so many times but never thought I'd see in real life. Our bus was safe, but the car ahead of us began to be carried away by the force of the water. The family couldn't open the doors, but luckily they were able to climb out their windows onto the roof of their car, where they waited for help. We eventually were able to make our way to higher ground as well, and from there take another bus to VC. I was dying that I didn't have my camera and wasn't able to take any pictures, but just Google "flood" and you'll have a pretty accurate picture. As interesting as the flood was though, I do feel really bad for all the people whose houses of car were damaged. Luckily, houses here are very flood and fire resistant.

Sunday was a hard day. We had very few investigators attending church. I was incredibly disappointed as all of our investigators who had been progressing didn't attend, and because of this we had at least two baptismal dates fall through. However, as discouraged as I was that morning, it made me think about how my Heavenly Father has felt the same way about me when I haven't done what He wants me too. As missionaries we can see how easily our investigators can improve their lives and receive a ton of blessings, just by doing these simple things. Likewise, I'm sure Heavenly Father can see the relative ease with which we could improve ourselves but often we fail to obtain those blessings. I'm sure if we could truly have an eternal perspective, things would be very different.

Ok, to close I'd like to send a couple of quick responses to some of the letters I received and so thoroughly enjoyed. I really do love hearing from all of you. It’s one of the highlights of every transfer. Anyway, first off, a special shout out to Brother Minor, who has been one of my most faithful letter writers and who's letters are so beautiful that I almost don't want to open them for fear of ruining them.  Missy, if you liked the Odyssey you have to read the Iliad. It's one of my favorite books of all time but you don't read it in that class. Also, just wait until you read Hamlet. It’s incredible also. Grandma, thanks so much for your encouragement and support! You and Grandpa have been great examples of faithful service. Christine, ok, now that I know that your family has read my posts for Family Home Evening I feel super self-conscious. Yikes, these emails have a lot to live up to.

Dad, yes, I have heard that explanation that you only have 186,000 mi/sec to spend traveling spatially or through time. I once saw a graph where the X and Y axis are spatial directions and the Z axis is time. Where are right now is a point, and extending up in the Z direction is a cone. I forget how they explained the angle of the side of the cone, but it showed both the minimum time it would take information to reach you from a certain distance away and how, if you began to move through space, you would begin to slow down you're progress in the time direction. I'm realizing that I'm not explaining it very well, but if you come across it, tell me.

Aunt Nicole, I must say, I'm incredibly jealous that you got to go to that New York apple festival. There's not a lot of that going on down here in Guatemala. I'm sorry Ethan, but I can't look up "How General Authorities Eat Reese Peanut Butter Cups," as much as I'd like to, and Seth, I can't download the BYU sports app either. Also, way to go with learning Spanish. Pilas usted! Aunt Carolyn, I hope the move went well. Thanks for taking the time to write me. I love hearing how you all are doing! Mom, I'm glad to hear that you've all started to read Jesus the Christ; that is definitely an amazing book. Adam, I'm glad you loved HP and the Goblet of Fire. Have you started the others? And Carmen, you win the prize of being the only person who recognized that I definitely needed to hear about something as earth shakingly groundbreaking (wow, that's a weird phrase) as Texas Instruments updating their calculators with color graphics. I can't even imagine what that's like. Wi-Fi capabilities are up next. Also, from all the letters I received it seems like you guys are doing some great missionary work. Keep it up!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Week 16

Tuesday October 15, 2013

Another baptism this week! Yet another case of reactivating a family and baptizing their non-member son, in this case a 9 year old boy named Diego. It was great seeing the family come back to church, especially when Diego's grandma bore her testimony and said how her Patriarchal Blessing says that she will see her family strong in the gospel, and now it's finally coming true.

In all, I am loving my mission more and more each day. yes, it's hard, but I've received so many blessings and have grown so much.

Ok, now I'd like to define a bit of Guatemalan and missionary specific vocabulary. It'd be much easier for me if I was able to use it in my emails, since many of the words don't have a translation that fits quite as well in English.

Saber- unconjugated it means "who knows?"
          Ex. "saber que voy a hacer?" -Who knows what I'm going to do?

Pilas- smart, prepared, good, etc. (it doesn't really translate into English)
          Ex. He is a pilas missionary and taught 18 lessons today.

Snakes- girls who try to flirt with missionaries.
          Ex. A couple of snakes asked where we lived yesterday.

De repente- When Guatemalans say this it means they are saying yes but have no intention of ever doing what they just promised.
          Ex. "Si, de repente voy a asistir a la iglesia." -Yes, de repente I will attend                      church.
Canche- a white person
          Ex. "Canche, what are you doing here in Guatemala?"

Ok, that will have to do for now. My mini spiritual thought of the week: "Put aside the natural man. Become who you were born to be."-Elrond

This is a picture of us making weights out of concrete.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Week 15

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Ha, what a great week. This week I have two highlights.

1) The baptism of Steven Garcia.  He’s younger brother of Hermano Luis, who had been inactive since age 11 until we baptized his wife Alejandra. I love their family so much and it was so neat to see Hermano. Luis baptize his younger brother. They both are so completely converted.

2) General Conference. I can't even begin to describe how much I loved General Conference this year. I've always enjoyed it, but this conference, my first in the mission field, was way beyond anything I have experienced before. I eagerly devoured every talk and hung on every word. Each time a session ended I was incredibly distraught, knowing that it meant I had one session less left to watch. I still despair every time I think that I will have to wait for 6 more months to listen to conference again.

It was also neat that I was able to watch it in English, with the other 9 gringos in my zone, knowing that many of my friends and family were listening to the exact same thing at the exact same time. However, this, as well as seeing so many white people and hearing so much English made me feel pretty baggy (missionary slang for sentimental/thinking of home). And man, when the world report came on and they showed clips of the Marriott Center and of BYU, I was definitely freaking out a little. Still, it was an incredible experience to receive guidance from our living prophet.

Speaking of which, did you all get the bit about the importance of members in missionary work? I'm pretty sure it was M. Russell Ballard who talked all about that. You really do have a responsibility in the work (the baptism we had on Sunday is proof of the efficacy of member missionary work). The missionaries are full time teachers. You are full time finders. That also means you too can partake of the joy that comes when you spread the gospel and see it bless people's lives. If any of you didn't watch that talk (or any other for that matter), you should do it ASAP.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Week 14

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Not too much to report this week, just a lot of hard work. I really am surprised at how quickly we are able to adapt to the missionary life. It's so different from anything I've done before. If all goes well, we should have another baptism this Sunday, but more on that next week.

Speaking of which, who's excited for General Conference?!?  I know I am. More excited than I ever have been before. The rumor is that they even have a room in the stake center where they show conference in English for all the gringo missionaries. It would definitely be hard to watch conference but not hear the voices we love so much (President Monson, President Uchtdorf, Elder Holland, Elder Bednar, etc.). Interestingly, a few of them can speak Spanish and apparently do their own translations.

Anyway, yesterday, for our P Day we went to Metro Centro, a really nice mall near the capital. Elder Ward, the other gringo in Villa Canales said it was like "returning to the United States." It's probably a good thing that I'm not assigned to work in that area, because it definitely was a little hard to stay focused when I was eating Little Caesar’s pizza, trying to ignore the American Music in the background and the football games that were playing on the TV.

In the mall there was a store that I know that my family, at least, would have loved. It was a bakery (a relatively clean one even) where all the bread was placed in large baskets around the store with the price of each loaf, scone, muffin, etc. on the basket. Upon entering you receive a wicker basket and a set of tongs and then can pick out all the bread or pastries you want. Pretty ridiculously delicious. Unless I'm mistaken they were also pumping the smells from their ovens into the store as well. Basically, it was a starchy paradise.

After that we went to a MegaPaca, one of the giant second-hand stores that dot Guatemala. Apparently that's the place where the majority of Guatemalans buy their clothing. Because of this, during visits I'm occasionally asked to translate what their shirts say, because almost all the clothing is imported from the US. There were definitely some gems there though, far more than would be found in DI, for example, because the people don't understand what the clothing says or means. I was able to find a nice BYU shirt, which I bought for less than a dollar.

We then went to a nice grocery store, where they played "Normal" by Ximena Sarinana. I freaked out a little because that is my favorite Spanish song of all time and we studied it in Spanish class a few years ago. Good times...