Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Weeks 30 and 31

January 28, 2014

Well, I've had a good week. It almost rained yesterday, which made me very happy (the rainy season stopped in October and it hasn't rained a drop since. Apparently we're gearing up for summer right now). Yesterday, for P day, we went to the central market of Escuintal which was quite an experience. Sadly, the color of my skin makes haggling much harder since they equate gringo with pisto (money). 

In the market I also bought a pair of glasses that don't have any correction. The dirt roads here are normally really dusty and when it's windy it can be pretty difficult to see. Twice I've gotten big pieces of dirt lodged in one of my eyes for more than two hours. After the second time I promised myself that I would start wearing glasses to prevent that from happening again. It's not like anyone here knows that I don't actually wear glasses, so it shouldn't be a problem. 
I really like the culture of missionary ingenuity here in our mission. I've seen some pretty cool inventions or modifications designed to make missionary work easier. The coolest is a heads up time display that my district leader made by cleverly attaching a watch to a backpack. I hope to have come up with a couple of good ones myself before I go home.

Our mission right now is preparing for our goal to have 400 baptisms in March. It's more than we've ever achieved so far and we're working hard and strengthening our faith that we will be able to do it. I’m getting pretty excited to see just how crazy that month is. We're starting to look for new investigators right now so they can be prepared by March.
Anyway, things are going well down here in Jacarandas 2, Escuintla. I've got to go now. Hope you all are doing well.

Elder Cannon

This picture is of my growing collection of church movies (and my incredibly messy desk). Sadly, no one here in the coast has a DVD player so I'm not able to use them very often.

January 23 

Well, it's been a full week. The highlight was the baptism of Hermano Marco Tulio Alvizures! I am amazed every time we visit them by how much the gospel has changed their family. The blessings have so clearly followed each good decision they've taken. In fact, just two days after his baptism, a friend out of the blue offered Hermano Marco a job! He'd been out of work for months (one day we helped them crack open motors to remove the copper wiring in the electromagnets and strip electrical cables of their sheathing so he could sell the metal for a bit of money). 

The baptisms (the woman on the right is a member who lives across the street)

As I mentioned, we went to a park in Amatitlan (not to be confused with Atitlan) for our zone P Day. It was pretty cool because they had a bunch of mini replicas of famous Guatemalan attractions as well as a this-couldn't-be-legal-in-the-USA obstacle course which made me almost feel like I was rock climbing again.

Yesterday we also got to go to a multi-mission (Gmala City South, East, and Central) meeting with Elder Cook and some other General Authorities. It was cool to see the clear differences between the missions. Before the meeting began all the other missionaries in the other missions were talking with friends and walking around while all of our mission was sitting in our seats (and had been for an hour), reading the Book of Mormon and studying D&C 107 to learn about apostles and members of the Quorum of the Seventy. I don't know how President Brough does it, but he really is an incredible leader. Speaking of which, the stats are in and last year our mission had 2266 baptisms! Anyway, Elder Cook said some great things about how we need to love the people we serve, love our companion, love our mission president and his wife, and love the Lord.

Transfers were this week and for the first time in my mission I didn't get to go to the change meeting my companion and I stayed together. I was pretty sad to not be able to go as the change meetings are SO. My dad (as in, my trainer), Elder Lopez, is yet again my zone leader as he just got transferred here to Escuintla. Pretty cool.

Speaking of cool, our zone got put on volcano eruption alert this week. Pacai was pouring lava and smoking, but we didn't get a good eruption. Too bad

Pacai smoking a little bit

Anyway, I hope you are all doing well. I know that the Lord will bless each one of you just as surely as He blessed the Alvizures family as you strive to keep His commandments.

Love, Elder Cannon


the city of amatitlan

a weird bug

A cool tree

The following pictures were, unfortunately, not posted with the previous weeks letter that described them.  Josh's comments about them were:

I've included a couple of rather poor quality pictures (I took them while riding on the bus back from the Christmas Activity several weeks ago). Sadly, it's impossible to grasp the size of that volcano from the pictures. I have never, ever seen anything so big, anything that takes up such a huge chunk of the sky. It's like something out of a movie (if Mount Doom was that big I'm pretty sure that Sam would never have been able to carry Frodo to the top and the Sauron would have reclaimed the Ring.) Anyway, I really am sorry that there's no way I can send you guys an accurate picture of that volcano. Honestly, I'm sure that it's so big it's throwing off the orbit of the earth (not really).

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Week 29

January 13, 2014

Well, I get to write a day early today (normally we have P day on Monday and have our district meeting and time to check our email on Tuesday). The reason is that we're having a Zone P Day and all going to some park that's only open on Tuesday. Sadly, we barely missed out on being able to go to Antigua, which is like the coolest place in all of Central America. Anyway, I'll tell you all how that goes next week. Speaking of which, next week we won't have our time to write emails until Thursday because we have transfers on Tuesday and then a multi-mission conference on Wednesday in which we'll here from Elder Cook! Woo-hoo! All the missionaries are pretty excited.

Not too much has happened this week. we're working hard and miraculously I'm getting somewhat used to the heat here. I've included a couple of rather poor quality pictures (I took them while riding on the bus back from the Christmas Activity several weeks ago). Sadly, it's impossible to grasp the size of that volcano from the pictures. I have never, ever seen anything so big, anything that takes up such a huge chunk of the sky. It's like something out of a movie (if Mount Doom was that big I'm pretty sure that Sam would never have been able to carry Frodo to the top and the Sauron would have reclaimed the Ring.) Anyway, I really am sorry that there's no way I can send you guys an accurate picture of that volcano. Honestly, I'm sure that it's so big it's throwing off the orbit of the earth (not really).

Right now we're teaching an investigator named Daniel. He is a very stereotypical electrical engineer and as much as I relate to him, I've had to exercise a lot of patience with him as he always asks a bunch of questions and makes a bunch of comments, all of which are only barely related to the subject of our lesson. One day we watched the video of John Tanner and he made us pause the movie every minute or so that he could ask questions such as "how did the Kirtland Bank fail." Still, we're working with him and are praying that he can translate his desires to be baptized into action.

Well, that's all for today. Love you all!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Week 28

January 7 2014

Well, this week was pretty tough. I had a raging fever for 5 days, which is kind of cool because it made me feel like some stereotypical explorer who traveled to the jungle and got some weird disease. There is definitely some pretty crazy stuff down here. A few transfers ago, my companion got a fungus which ate the flesh off of the soles of his feet. Pretty intense.
Ok, not much happened this week, but I didn't have time to write a bunch from last week, so here it goes...
Baptism! We baptized a young man named Francisco. He's pilas. We really didn't have to do too much and so there's really not too much to say. It's a great blessing to see another person start on that path to eternal life. I hope he gets sent on a mission to Oregon.
As great as his baptismal service was, it wasn't my favorite experience of the week. Before I describe what happened, I'll start out with some background.

We have a recent convert family who is super, super poor. The husband, Mauricio, is pretty old and just had a major operation. They have several young kids and no fresh water and little food. He just sits in pain all day long in his swelteringly hot casa de lamina with blood oozing from the giant slice in his stomach (which I'm sure will soon be infected). The problem is that they don't really want anything with the church. He only listens to us to ask for money from the church. Anyway, on Sunday my companion and I were talking about what to do with them.  We really had no idea. We couldn't give up and drop the like we would if they were investigators, but when had yet to see any progress from our lessons. 
Anyway, we left to work not knowing what we would do. Later that day we visited another family in our area, the Alvisures Family. The wife is a recent convert and the husband is a non-member and they have 4 young children. They are also super poor. Right now they make and sell tortillas, earning less than 4 dollars each day. With that money, they can buy food for the next day. Basically, their entire family is living hand to mouth every day. I love this family so much. Their lives have been transformed by the gospel beyond anything I have ever seen on my mission. When we first started visiting them, they were having serious marital problems. The husband drank and was abusive. The wife was always crying. One lesson she asked us if it was a sin for her to ask for God to kill her. However, as they have begun to read the Book of Mormon and keep the commandments, they have become so much happier. I've never seen a change so dramatic. They are always so happy now. The husband and wife are like newlyweds. They're always holding hands and joking. They want to learn everything they can about the gospel. Sister Alvisures paid her tithing for the first time this Sunday.

When we arrived that day, the wife told us when we began the lesson that she had something to tell us. She said that she had a dream last night in which an old man, who refused to show her his face, told her that we (the missionaries) would come that day. He told her that near her house lived a family that was suffering a lot. They also were poor and didn't know what to do. He said they didn't want to listen to the missionaries anymore, but needed to hear her testimony and hear how she has been able to keep going despite her challenges. She asked us who this family was because she had never met them. I had goose bumps because she so perfectly described them and where they lived. Needless to say, we took her right away to visit Mauricio and his wife, despite the fact that they live in La Linea (the most dangerous part of our area) and it was night. We just left everything in their house except 10 quetzales and a Book of Mormon and left. Sister Alvisures shared an incredibly powerful testimony which I would say helped her even more than Mauricio. We haven't visited him since, so we don't know what the outcome will be, but it was a great testimony builder for me, that this really is God's work and that he knows me individually, as well as my investigators and converts and that He will help us move His work along.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Week 27

Note:  Sorry about the delay in posting Josh's letters.  Be sure to see weeks 25 and 26 below.

December 31, 2013

Ha, quite a week, not sure if I'll be able to fit it all in, so I'll keep it brief. Anyway, I had a great Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Christmas Eve we kept working until 8:30. The last two hours were pretty hard. No one wanted to listen to us and all of our planned visits fell through. We ended up walking around for a really long time visiting every person imaginable. I definitely missed our normal Christmas traditions at that point (especially the dessert party, since I was pretty hungry).

After that we went with a family in the ward to eat dinner at their house. As is the tradition here, we ate a bunch of incredible delicious tamales wrapped in plantain leaves and drank ponche, a cider made out of pineapple, sugar cane, coconut, papaya, and a bunch of other dried, canned, and fresh fruits. I must say, this is one Christmas tradition I might have to pick up. After that we just hung out for a couple of hours or so. I had no idea that saying up past 10:30 was so difficult. It was almost embarrassing. Anyway, we then went over to the house of the President of the Ward (the Escuintla District was just made a Stake and they haven't called a bishop yet). There we watched all the fireworks at 12:00. For weeks people had been selling a ton of fireworks on the street and in the tiendas. Fireworks and firecrackers are used pretty much 24/7, during the entire year, but I couldn't believe how crazy it was at midnight between Christmas Eve and Day. It was like a war zone. So much smoke, explosions, machine-gun noises, rockets, etc. They aren't many laws about firework safety here. I saw the 5 year only son of a member here who had the biggest burn I have ever seen. A firework exploded right in his chest. His burn was multi colored, with a very thick, bumpy scab. My stomach dropped when I saw him. It was so sad.

Christmas day we spent in our house. I loved my phone call home. Those 40 minutes went by so quickly, but it was great to be able to talk to them again. You don't realize just how much you love your family until you can't be with them. Then, at 5:00, we went out to work like normal. In all, a very good Christmas. It made me rededicate myself to work as hard as I can to bring souls unto Christ and unite families for the eternities so that they can experience the same joy and peace that I have.

Opening the Christmas box.

New shoe inserts along side old inserts

Week 26

December 24, 2013

¡FelĂ­z Navidad! Ok, so, I was in the middle of writing my email, navigated away, and found out that somehow it got erased. In other words, it'll be a short email this week.

Ha, I can't believe that it's Christmas Eve already. Tonight, after a normal day of proselyting, we get to go and stay out late in the house of a member and eat a ton of tamales. Then, tomorrow we get to have
our P day and call home! I'm super excited. Last Wednesday we got up at 1:00 A.M. to go to the temple. It was pretty crazy to be so near the CCM again. I can't believe that tomorrow (Christmas Day), I will
have been a missionary for 6 months! Ha! The time is flying by.

I can tell why it's so important that we do all us can now, and not wait to improve or give our all. The time that we have to give 100% of our time to the Lord is actually quite short (although it might not seem that way when I think about how many movies will come out while I'm gone). What better way to celebrate the birth of Christ though?

Anyway, in this time of the year I'm especially grateful for all the blessings that I have been given. It's rather frightening sometimes.  I'm so grateful that I was called to Guatemala Central (which really
is the best mission in the world). I'm grateful I was born into such a great family that is so strong in the gospel. I'm grateful for all my friends and all the great examples of faithful service I have in my life. I'm especially grateful for my Savior and Redeemer and the chance He has given me to serve Him.

Love, Elder Cannon

Week 25

December 17, 2013

Well, I thought I was safe, that I would be a city boy for a good chunk of my mission.  But alas, it was not to be. This transfer meeting I was assigned to serve in Jacarandas, Escuintla, or, in other words, the coast. Everything was going well on the bus ride to my new area, it was a beautiful trip actually, until I saw that the road ahead on us seemed to run off a cliff. The highway quickly plunged down fun the cool heights of Guatemala City into the blistering heat and humidity of the coast.
As some of you know, I really don't like the heat, and if it's humid too... However, about an hour after arriving in Escuintla I made a decision. I decided that if I was going to suffer (and already I was. I had never sweated so much in my entire life), that I was really going to suffer and would push myself harder than I ever thought possible, and dedicate that increased suffering to Christ as a Christmas gift. A rather good present I think. However, as that one scripture in Mosiah says, we will always be unprofitable servants. As I have tried to work even harder, absolutely flying up all the hills in our area, regardless of the heat and humidity, I have found that heavenly Father has made it so that it is far easier than I ever would have imagined. (Speaking of which, I challenge anyone to a long distance speed walking competition).
Anyway, my Christmas this year will be a little different that it would be in Medford. Instead of Christmas trees we have palm trees. Instead of snow we have ash (the ash is from the safra, when everyone burns their sugar cane fields to prepare them for next season. The ash gets blown by the wind and covers everything in the house). Instead of eating a ton of cookies and desserts, I'm back to eating cold rice and beans and old tortillas.  (The past two transfers I have been spoiled by the relative quality of our cooks.) Instead of spending Christmas with my family I will be spending it with my companion, Elder Carcamo, from Panama, and a house full of GIANT cockroaches, lizards, and rats. However, this Christmas I will be celebrating in a far purer way by serving and thinking about others rather than myself.
Anyway, I hope all of you have a great Christmas and remember to look for opportunities to serve on that day (well, especially that day).
Love you all,

Elder Cannon

P.S. Tomorrow we have a mission wide Christmas activity in El Frutal. We get to go to the temple (!!!).  But we have to get up at 1:00 so we can walk an hour and a half (and that's at missionary speed) to catch a bus to the capital. In other words, 2.5 hours of sleep. Oh yeah...