Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Week 42

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Well, who would have thought? It's time for changes again. I'm going to be leaving and Elder Huish will be receiving a nuevo missionary straight from the CCM. I've really come to love this area and am pretty sad to finally have to leave. When I first got here I was dying in the heat and humidity and thought that the sooner I could get back to the capital, the better. However, as I've done my best to serve diligently, the Lord has really blessed me. This last change especially has been good. I've learned a lot and had a lot of fun with Elder Huish but we haven't had as many baptisms as I was expecting. Nevertheless, we've done all we can and the area is well prepared for next change.
I'm leaving 3 people to be baptized this Sunday and quite a few more who will be baptized in the coming weeks. I'm sad that I won't be here, but the important part is that they start progressing towards eternal life. Despite the challenges we've had with investigators disappearing, having personal problems, not having the desire to follow the answer they've received, we were able to have very good church attendance. In the change (6 weeks), we had a total of 53 investigators attending church. I hope that those who might not have been completely ready to participate in the gospel at this moment in their lives will remember what we've taught them, the spirit they've felt at church and while fulfilling their commitments, and the love we had for them and that someday that seed will bring them back. In all, it was a successful change because we were exactly obedient, diligent, and we did the Lord's will, which was for us to have those three baptisms.
I've included a bunch of pictures of what we did yesterday for P day. We've been wanting to make pan (bread) forever. There are bakeries all over the place and the bread they make is all very standard (i.e. a piece of pan dulce is exactly same wherever you go in Guatemala). We eat lunch with Juan and Gladis. They’re super nice and I really love them. Gladis is a pilas recent convert and Juan has been a member for much longer. He suffered a stroke a few years ago and half of him is paralyzed. He is especially fond of us because we've talked and (mostly) listened to him as we've eaten lunch. It really means a lot to him to feel valued. Anyway, they used to make bread and they have an oven and so they invited us and one of their friends who also knows how to make bread over and it was awesome. Now we just need to spend a P day making tortillas. That'd be even more useful after the mission.

Finally, there's been a firefly invasion here. Maybe it's just firefly season or something, but it's so cool! At night, I can look out from out porch and the field is lit up with hundreds of bright fireflies. The effect they all have together is weird, kind of disco...

A picture of a mango the Alvizures family gave me. I used it to break my fast and it was probably one of the best things I've ever eaten. So fresh and so perfectly ripe. That's a blessing of being in the coast.

The Garcia family and then a noche de hogar [family night] that we had yesterday.

Love, Elder Cannon

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Week 41

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Wooo!  General Conference!  Those 6 months flew by. Sadly, for the first day, we were only able to listen to it in English, the video didn't work.  We even missed the talk by Elder Holland! Elder Holland of all people!  We also missed the talk by Elder Ochoa who is totally from Guatemala and is the area president.  Yep.  I've heard him speak on multiple occasions.  Anyway, the next day was better. We got the video feed working and we even got to watch the first session with President Brough, just to amp up the spiritual power in the room.

I felt like all the talks were incredible.  They made it really clear what families have to do to avoid the growing evil in the world: have daily scripture study, family prayer, family home evening.  I specifically loved the talk by Elder Utchdorf of gratitude, the talk by Elder Oaks on the Priesthood and Elder Bednar's talk, as well as many others.  Wow, what a great 5 sessions.  Now I'm rather distraught that once again we have to wait another 6 months.  Why can't these things be more often?  In all, I'm very grateful that we have living prophets and apostles to guide us in these days. That's such a great blessing.

Something weird is happening with my accent in Spanish. I've now had multiple people tell me I sound like a Brazilian. Not sure how that happened, but I'll take it I guess. Still got a ways to go though...

We had a rather frightening adventure this week.  We got a suspicious call from an unknown number who told us that her sister was in the hospital in our area (the caller was from the United States and who knows how she got our number) and that she wanted us to go and give her a priesthood blessing.  We took a member with us and, sure enough, the person really did exist.  After talking with the receptionist, we were allowed to enter.

It was unlike anything I'd seen before.  There were flickering lights dangling from the ceiling, flaking paint, and large rooms full of dirty beds with no dividers between patients.  We went to the gynecology section of the hospital (which made it even scarier) and found the woman.  When we began talking to her, I was incredibly glad we came.  She was pregnant and her baby died.  She was far from home and didn't have anyone to visit her.  I was grateful for the service we were able to perform by comforting her and giving her a blessing.  I was grateful to be used as an instrument to bless someone else.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Week 40

Tuesday, April 2, 2014
OK.  Well, yet again we’re having internet troubles.  Hopefully my parents are able to get the capitalization and punctuation of my letter cleaned up.  It’s a long story - and wow, that’s a pretty inappropriate song that they just started playing.  It’d be pretty easy to tune out, but it’s in English - so it’s more difficult. 
Moving on, since last I wrote… well, yep, I ended up getting pretty sick after eating in that comedor [restaurant].  I’d say it was just my head, but I was really sick.  Let’s just say I became very familiar with the bathroom of one of our investigators that was so terrible I don't think I could have imagined it before coming here to Guatemala.  Anyway, I’m feeling much better now.
We had three baptisms this week!  Two were Marco and Josue Alvizures, the sons of Aidee and Marco Tulio.  Apparently no records of them exist anywhere in the Church.  Being unable to recreate the baptismal records for various reasons, we had to baptize them again so they would be considered members.  The baptismal font was extra full this Sunday and after I baptized Josue, he swam back to the stairs.  As in, 100% swam, head under and doing breaststroke.  It was hilarious.  Their family is kind of like that - not super educated.  I really love them. 
Anyway, the third baptism was Catherine Garcia.  She’s super pilas.  Her dad is an excommunicated ex-missionary and her mom is inactive.  We started visiting the family a month ago and, man, since the first day, the dad decided that he’s coming back to church.  He’s got a super strong testimony and knows a ton.   (He even showed me some cool scriptures I hadn't seen before.)  He’s been coming with Catherine and his younger son to all the church activities and services.  For whatever reason, the mom has been the problem.  She’s been super resistant and getting her signature for the baptismal form was pretty hard.  She didn't even show up to the service - talk about totally lame. Anyway, Catherine is doing great and wow; she and her dad are really pilas. I really enjoyed that baptism.  The other kid in the picture is a baptism of the other elders
Yesterday we had our p-day and Elder Huish and I went and picked up the hammocks we had ordered a week before.  In a part of our area there’s a ton of people who make hammocks. It’s super cool and they only cost fifty quets aka six dollars.  Best purchase ever. I set it up last night using every bit of my engineering skills and it was rather revolutionary.

The first picture is of my companions hammock, as they were attaching the end parts. 
Mine is the same color as the hammocks in the background.

My two favorite trees in Guatemala the highly efficient, solar panel like tree and the giant ceiba.

A cool morning in Escuintla.

A picture taken shortly before my personal battle with Shelob [Lord of the Rings reference].  
My respect for Sam has greatly increased.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Week 38 and 39

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Well, another week has flown by. We had a great week from last Tuesday to Sunday. We had more progressing investigators than we were able to visit every other day (which I think is the optimum amount of time between appointments with pilas investigators). Our days were therefore always full of incredible lessons and we had a very achievable goal of having 16 investigators attending church. We were excited and full of faith that our goal of 8 baptisms this month would be almost easily achievable. However, on Sunday even the most firmly committed investigators were unable to attend, causing their baptismal dates to be bumped back to April 6th. 

This was a discouraging development to say the least. I think that God wants to try our faith though. I very much feel that our goal of 8 baptisms was made by the Spirit, therefore we can achieve it. I know we are doing all we can and are being obedient, therefore I know we will achieve it. Now, instead of being able to easily baptize 8 this month, it will require a miracle. I feel like this situation is similar to when the Lord lessened Gideon's army to be sure that everyone knew their victory was due to Him and not to their own strength. Our number of possible baptisms for this month has been greatly reduced, but I'm trying to keep from doubting so that we can be blessed with the miracle we need. It is scary to not know how we will achieve the goal, but, I assume that Nephi felt similarly when he was commanded to build the ship. I love what the Lord says to him in 1 Ne 17:13. Sorry, you'll have to go look that up. I've only got it in Spanish. 

"Y también seré vuestra luz en el desierto; y prepararé el camino delante de vosotros, si es que guardáis mis mandamientos.  Por lo tanto, al grado que guardéis mis mandamientos, seréis conducidos hacia la tierra prometida; y sabréis que yo soy el que os conduce." 

[And I will also be your light in the wilderness; and I will prepare the way before you, if it so be that ye shall keep my commandments; wherefore, inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments ye shall be led towards the promised land; and ye shall know that it is by me that ye are led.] 

Anyway, we're proceeding with faith despite the opposition.

Also, it seems like are area seems to be more full of slightly crazy people than usual, which is actually really fun. This week we had an encounter with a man who, on the first visit wanted to give us food so we could eat with him as he finished his dinner. We refused as delicately as possible as he wanted to buy us tamales (aka street food, which we're not allowed to eat). However, he flat out refused to accept any of our excuses, saying "how can you expect to be able to invite me to church if I can't even invite you to eat?!?" We managed to extricate ourselves from the situation by convincing him to buy us some bread instead. We also talked to an old guy who was sitting outside of his corrugated steel house and told us he "only believes in science" (yes, exactly like in Nacho Libre - Link) and then tried to stump me by asking me what the biggest tree in the world was. Despite having gone to Stewart State park at least 32 times, I'll admit that I was only able to come up with Redwoods, not Sequoia. That was embarrassing. Also, a woman who said she was dead for 7 days and one of our investigators who (with his wife) was supposed to be baptized this Sunday but who, on Wednesday, backed out because he didn't want to give up the little bar he had in his garage. In our last lesson he even got up when a drunk guy staggered over to give him a bottle of vodka. A great example of how true faith is more than just a testimony that the BOM is true.

Anyway, I'm doing great and hope that you all are as well.

Love, Elder Cannon

P.S. here's my random picture for the week. This is how we get water. We buy big bags of pure water for 5 Quets (62.5 cents) and then can use the small bags whenever we want. You just tear a corner off with your teeth and drink the water inside. When we're out of the house we can buy a small bag for .50 Quets whenever we feel thirsty.

P.P.S. The "I'll go where you want me to go" member missionary video that was shown during the worldwide conference on June 23, 2013 really is incredible. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Well, not a ton to say this week. Sunday was hard as not a single one of the people we were going to baptize on the 30th attended church, which is tough because they have to have at least three attendances before baptism. We're still working hard though, and having a good time. Speaking of having a good time, I've got a new favorite Gmalan dish, tocón. Mom, you have to look up a recipe and make it. My old favorite was pepián, a great tomato and chicken soup thing, tocón is similar, but made out of green vegetables, instead of red, it has green peppers, tomatoes, etc. It must be eaten with real Guatemalan tortillas though. Elder Huish and I are going to learn how to make tortillas before this change is over. Wow, I'm really hungry now.

In other news, my companion and I were struck with the dreaded "bu" this week. "Bu" is pretty much an integral part of serving a mission here in Guatemala. Let's just say that I came closer to throwing up during a lesson than I have ever done before and my companion was also pretty close to having some major problems in another way. We're feeling better though, and I'm fine with suffering if it means I get more blessings. Wohoo! Blessings!

Yesterday I was a little baggy; Elder Huish got permission to go to the BYU website to enable President Brough to renew his ecclesiastical endorsement. It's definitely easier to stay completely focused down here in Guatemala, but then there are always those little distractions that pop up. As he's only got one full change left, it's made me think about how much I love Guatemala. It really must be so hard to have to leave after coming to love every little detail here. I've come to love the people, the culture, the food, the language, the houses, the bakeries, the tiendas, the buses, even the metal doors that everyone has (I'll have to get a picture of one of those, they're kind of a big part of my life).

Ok, our internet went out so we went to eat as a district while we waited for it to come back. We went to the only place available, a super scary comedor (cafeteria) near here. That was one of the diciest eating situations I've ever experienced. However, we did eat with a really drunk guy who didn't want to leave us alone and we taught him how to say "fried chicken" in English. Anyway, I'll probably be super sick tomorrow. That food was definitely not clean... Oh well...

Talk to you all in a week... (if that food wasn't too dangerous)

Love, Elder Cannon