Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Week 55

July 28, 2014
Ishka igh. That's the closest I can get to ¨good afternoon¨ in Kaqchikel. Hmmm, let's see, what do we have this week...

We struggled yet again with attendance this Sunday. I was pretty discouraging but the Lord blessed us and a couple less active members we had been working with came to church. One is a returned sister missionary and owns a bar. Yeah that's kind of awkward...

So, I really love corte. Have I mentioned that yet? I'm starting to get pretty good at distinguishing how expensive cortes are and where they're from. It's really quite interesting. We're here in Sololá again and man, I really need to get a picture of the corte here. It might just be my favorite.

Last night I came pretty close to shaking off the dust of my feet as we taught the first lesson to a woman as we were knocking on doors. For me it's one thing when people just flat out reject us. That’s fine, they're just not prepared. Hopefully in the future. However, what really tries my patience and charity is when someone just doesn't want to understand. This lady just kept saying that we ¨trust in a man¨ aka Joseph Smith. No matter how long we spent explaining how there's no difference between him and other prophets like Moses, she just would listen. It's kind of frustrating because I really feel like I'm not improving in the charity department despite the fact that that's something that's rather crucial really. I do feel like I've developed a lot of love for many of the people we teach. It will be sad to leave this area as there are a lot of people like that here. One of those people, a grandpa named Antonio, might have just fallen back into his old addiction of drinking. Pretty disappointing. Really, alcohol is so terrible. It makes me grateful that we have modern day prophets to warn us about that stuff.

Last Wednesday we had organized an activity to have in the church with all the members and investigators. It was going to be pretty cool. We had a bunch of prophet related games to play. My favorite was a brain bowl like game where we would read progressively easier clues about a prophet and the teams would have to answer who the prophet was before the other team. I had done several similar activities in Escuintla with great success but no one really showed up to this one, just a couple of members from the most pilas families in the ward. Kind of disappointing but the good thing is that we god to take a bunch of tostadas and horchata home. I'm not sure why tostadas are so much better here than in the US. They're thicker and go quite well with black beans and cheese.

Ok, not sure why, but I ended up with a lot of extra time today and I can't really think of anything else to say, so I'll include a picture of me modeling some corte, just so that you guys can get the idea. 

Ok, well, love you all. Keep up that good missionary work. 

Elder Cannon

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Week 54

July 22, 2014

Wow, it's already late July. That’s rather frightening. Another fast month... moving on...

In the 3+ months that I've been in this area, it's been relatively free of the crazy weather phenomena that I experienced in Villa Canales during my first two changes. Actually, I take it back; the fog here can be pretty incredible. Anyway, a few days ago I was able to check another thing off my bucket list. We had just entered a house and began to teach when it began to rain. We were starting to teach about the Great Apostasy when the rain suddenly became deafening. Seriously, the roof was made of lamina (I think it's like corrugated steel in English) which only added to the effect. We lost any ability to communicate and ran to the door to see what was happening. It turns out that there was a freak hail storm, not the normal small almost snow like hail that we get in Medford, but real "this could do some damage" hail. It was pretty exciting. The pieces of hail were often larger than marbles. Literally. I wish I could have gotten a picture as proof. It looked like popcorn popping as they bounced of the lamina roofs. One hit me in the wrist and it actually hurt a fair amount. I could have gathered up some of the hail and I would have been able to use it as ice cubes. The sad part was that it damaged the corn pretty badly, but I think in the long run it should be fine. 

Ok, side note, one of the hermanas in my district just shouted out how one of her friends who is on a mission just wrote to tell her that she just baptized a conjoined twin, as in, just one of the two. The other wants nothing to do with the church.  That's a pretty great story but I'd like to see a picture before I fully believe it.

I had an interesting experience this week. My companion and I were having a first visit with a member and her nonmember husband. For various reasons it was an extra important visit and I was really trying to do all I could to teach the best I could. Halfway through the lesson I thought "wow, I'm really teaching this lesson well. I'm asking good questions, the investigator is giving me exactly the answers I want, I'm making good comparisons, etc. So why isn't this lesson going better?" Then the Spirit gave me chicote and I realized that I was being pretty prideful and that all my well-practiced rhetorical strategies really weren't helping at all. What I was lacking was the Spirit. It was pretty cool as I stopped teaching rather pridefully and instead just humbly testified. The Spirit immediately came back. A little bit later the husband asked a somewhat contentious question and I launched into the answer with all the scriptures I had learned to prove my point and the Spirit withdrew. Then I realized what I was doing, quickly repented, and started to teach more simply and it came back again. It was a very clear lesson of trusting in the Spirit and not in our own abilities.

As far as our area goes, we're still fighting with setbacks and disappointments. I really want to give a good example to my district, showing them that we can have success here and getting them excited to have that success for themselves, but it just doesn't seem to be happening. I think that the faith of our district might be a little low, at the very least our expectations are. It's hard to fight that discouragement but I trust that we're doing what the Lord wants us to even though we're not perfect,..

Friday, July 18, 2014

Week 53

July 15
Well, despite what the zone leaders told us 8 days ago, we did end up having changes. I'm really not sure what was going on with changes, but it was a fairly embarrassing change meeting for President Markham to witness. There were so many mistakes as Elder Oseguera, one of the assistants, was reading the changes during the meeting, that at the end he gave up and said ¨ok, who still doesn't have a companion?¨  Two elders stood up and he said ¨ok, you're now companions.¨ It was a little ridiculous, but hopefully everyone got where revelation said they were supposed to be. Anyway, I stayed here in Patzy and my new companion is Elder Gonzales, from  Honduras, the 4th ¨catratcho¨ (Honduran) that I've had. He's pretty cool and is actually a convert of less than 3 years. He got baptized, waited a year, and then left on a mission. 

This week we've had discouraging setbacks yet again. For the third time in two months, we've had a fecha fija (an investigator who is all set to be baptized on a specific date) fall.  Jorge, the most recent, is that super tranquilo investigator who was all ready to be baptized. He passed his interview and everything. Then, his job changed and he had to work far away every Sunday and he said that he doesn't want to be baptized and make a covenant he can't keep so he's decided to wait. I have no idea why it's been so hard lately. I've never struggled so much getting investigators to come to church, progress, and be baptized as in this area. And to top it all off, the members are requiring a lot more patience and charity than normal. Frankly, sometimes I wish I could just call down fire from heaven to burn up the city. Then I remember why I'm here and try to not want to condemn people. Ha-ha, this area really is something... Thank goodness for ice cream. When charity and patience fail, ice cream is always there to make me feel better.

Speaking of blessings and trials, I read Elder Bednar's talk on tithing from General Conference in November 2013. I really like the part where he says that sometimes instead of receiving what we ask for, the Lord blesses us with need. He uses the example of how the Stripling Warriors didn't receive more troops or weapons; they were blessed with peace, faith, and confidence. I feel like that happens a lot as missionaries. We're often praying for specific blessings (for example, that Jorge is baptized this Sunday), but the Lord blesses us with an eternal perspective, or with patience, or with the assurance that we did our best to help that person. And of course, I'd see that ice cream is a pretty solid blessing for which I will not be ungrateful. Can't forget about that.

Yesterday I became surprisingly baggy as I made some snicker doodles during some spare time we had on P-day. It really didn't matter to me that I lacked baking soda, cream of tartar, and vanilla, it was a pretty great experience. It was my first time eating cookie dough in over a year, my first time in over a year smelling cookies baking in the (toaster) oven, and my first time in over a year eating warm cookies. That's also fairly therapeutic. Wow I miss cookies.

Hmmm, not really sure what else to write... All I can really think of is food. There are lots of lime trees here. In November it'll be the time to harvest corn on the cob corn (corn to make tortillas doesn't come until later). Apparently during the month there's so much corn that everyone's making grilled corn on the cob, atoles de elote (a hot corn drink), desserts, bread, etc. Tamales here are different than in the US. They're wrapped in banana leaves and are more like pudding than the dry one in the US. What we call tamales are known here as ¨chuchitos¨ or little dogs. Tortillas are really great. Guatemalan tortillas really are superior to all others.

Ok, I think it's time for lunch now. Love you all!

Elder Cannon

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Week 52

July 8

Well, here we are, in Sololá yet again for another zone training. I really will have to find out how to get a picture of the corte that the men here wear. Anyway, well, this week was a big one, as a mission we made the change between President Brough and our new mission president, President Markham. The difference between the two is quite interesting. As far as the rules go, President Markham hasn't changed anything. He really likes our focus on obedience, diligence, and urgency (walking fast, not eating dinner, etc.) and doesn't want to interfere with any of that.

However, President Brough was very serious and President Markham is... well, different. One of my friends who entered the field with me, Elder Hintze, told me about how he called President Markham during a baptismal interview because the candidate have some sort of issue with the Law of Chastity and President Markham started to chat and joke around and Elder Hintze had a hard time not laughing which would have surely offended the investigator who was being interviewed. As different as President Markham and President Brough are, I can tell that President Markham will be just as great a mission president. He has already taught us some really great things, in his very unique way.

Also this week was the 4th of July. That was the day we had the conference with President Markham. I almost wore a rather aggressive American flag tie that I found in a paca (used clothes store), but decided that maybe that wouldn't leave a good impression with our new mission president. In retrospect, I think he would have loved it. Don't worry though; it's what I'll be sporting next 4th of July.

And of course, it was my birthday on the 5th. Wohoo! I can't believe I'm 20. The 19th year of my life seems to have flown by. Sadly, no one from Medford swung by to drop of a cake as the Parks did last year, but it was still a good day and included one pretty cool miracle.

We had a lesson with an investigator as we were knocking on doors a few days before. As we started to teach him it quickly became apparent that he didn't understand anything and wasn't paying any attention. We ended the lesson and had walked out the door, with no intention of coming back, when he ran out and said "wait, when are you coming back? My family will be here next Saturday." which was probably the only thing he could have said to convince us to return. It really was strange since he had said very little and had shown no emotion during the entire lesson. We came back on the 5th and learned that he had some brain damage from when he was a kid but on had just received some medicine so he was far more mentally able when we came back for the second visit. We had a great lesson and he seems pretty positive.

His very aged mom, not so much. She has what we like to call "selective deafness." She can have a normal conversation and all but if you ask her something like "will you come to church this Sunday?" or, "will you say the closing prayer?" she says "What?!? I can't hear you!" Even more entertaining is when people suddenly lose the ability to speak in Spanish and revert to kakchiquel whenever you try to talk to them about the church. Good times.

Anyway, thanks again for all your support. Hopefully we'll see more miracles this week!

Love, Elder Cannon

P.S. a good picture of a cow answering the door and a house made of lamina. Super common here (the house not the cow answering the door)

Week 49, 50 and 51

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Well, last Wednesday we had our last change meeting with President Brough as our mission president. They're leaving in less than a month. I spent all of Tuesday moving the stuff in the house of the Elders in Zaragoza (the area they're closing) to the house of the new hermanas here in Patzicia 1 (the area they're opening). Now I've got 3 companionships of sisters in the district, which is great, they're super pilas and everything, but it also definitely requires more work and much more tact. It's so much more difficult to give chicote [whipping?] to an hermana than to an elder. I did receive some welcome help though. President Brough wants us to have divisions every Sunday so that one of us can visit the branch in Zaragoza.  He therefore transferred one of the Elders from Zaragoza, Elder Legorreta from Mexico, to here. However, he didn't want to drop Elder Legorreta down to junior companion so he made him co district leader with me. At first I was a little dubious about how it would work out, but it's actually really nice. Every other night I can eat dinner! Wohoo! It's pretty great.

Zaragoza is super cool. We got there to work a few times a week. It's 20 minutes away from Patzy, but it's a completely different world. There's no corte there but all the men wear cowboy hats, leather boots and big cowboy belts, ride horses around town, and always carry machetes in fancy leathers sheaths. My companion says that it's a lot like Mexico. Also, while Patzicia is always rather gloomy and somber, there are always big parties going on in Zaragoza. A very different feel to the city.

One thing that's been really obvious to me lately is the difference between a returned missionary and an ex missionary. There are quite a few RM's in our ward, but many of them seem to have completely forgotten what they taught and learned for two years. All those who come back and become slackers always say ¨it's way different when you get back. Life's harder, it's not as simple, etc.¨ I'm sure that's true and all, but I've set the goal for myself to ¨let the mission get through me and not just have me get through the mission.¨ I'm confident that the difference between our RM ward mission leader who only occasionally comes to church and another RM who always is active and involved (he even buttons the top button of his collar!) is how hard they worked on their missions. Just more motivation to be diligent...

Yep, we made those roses out of construction paper and gave them to the wives of the branch presidents and bishop in our area to thank them for their support of their husbands in their callings. Just another thing that you learn on your mission that might just come in handy after...

June 10, 2014

Well, right now I'm writing you all from Sololá, since we've got zone training today. I like coming here because the view of the lake Atitlan is amazing and because the corte in Guipil is way different. It's got a black background with lots of multicolored lines and dots. The coolest part is that here there are MEN who wear corte. They have the Sololá style black pants, with a faja or blanket like skirt, and cool corte shirt, and hat. I'd send a picture but I don't know how to discretely take one. The downside about coming here is that it means getting up super early so we can make the 2 hour trip on bus that are flying around crazy turns, trying not to slide off our seats every 15 seconds. 

Moving on, this week we had a neat miracle. We've been teaching a woman named Ana Maria in Zaragoza. She's very intelligent and has gained a strong testimony of the truthfulness of this message. She knows exactly what she needs to do (i.e. be baptized) but has had to undergo some serious persecution from her family. On Wednesday we were able to teach a great lesson on sacrifices we make for the gospel. She was able to summon up the courage and commit to being baptized this Sunday. However, on Friday, when the zone leaders arrived to do her interview, she backed out because her family had been extra hard with her. We talked 
with her and when one of the zone leaders asked her what she was willing to do to follow Christ it was inspiring to see her faith as she replied while crying, "anything..." She recommitted but sadly didn't pass the interview because she had drunk coffee. We'll try again in 2 weeks. Hopefully she’ll be doing all she should during that time so that the Enemy can't take advantage of that extra time.

I am quite pleased with the progress that we have been making with the members in Zarahemla. Since our area in Patzicia is so small, we have very few people to visit every night which has helped us focus on improving our relationship with the members. They are starting to have more trust in us, and seem excited to tell us about their missionary efforts. We've been able to receive some good references and have lessons with their friends. They've also allowed us several opportunities to serve them this week. We carried firewood, cleaned a pila (the concrete reservoir of water that all Guatemalans have and use to clean their clothes, and do other chores), and degrained corn (which is a great way to quickly get blisters). In all I feel like slowly but surely the attitude in the ward toward missionary work is beginning to change.

Thanks for all your prayers,

Love, Elder Cannon


Also, the view from the chapel is Sololá. I'd bet that there are few chapels in the world that have a view so gorgeous. Literally, this is right outside the gate.

June 17, 2014

We've had some more setbacks this week, but we had one lesson this week that was truly incredible. We were teaching Hermana Ana Maria, one of our investigators from Zaragoza who didn't pass her baptismal interview a week ago only because she had drunk coffee recently. However, not long afterwards, her brother began feeding her a bunch of anti-Mormon material and she became very confused and wasn't sure that she wanted to continue with her new baptismal date. The day we went to see her I felt the Spirit guiding me several times just to be in the right place at the right time to be able to have the lesson. Then during the lesson, that feeling increased even more. I felt like truly the words I should say were given to me, the exact scriptures I needed came easily to mind, and overall I had a feeling of peace, despite the opposition. In all, I felt like I wasn't doing anything, rather that the Lord was was working perfectly through me. I felt like Satan had brought out some of his strongest weapons to dissuade hermana Ana and that in response the Lord had taken over the teaching in that lesson. It was an incredible feeling and made me realize that even though sometimes I'm frustrated because I don't feel the Spirit guiding my teaching as much as I would like, when it's really crucial that I say or do something, the Lord WILL give me that inspiration. Sadly, she made the decision a few days later to leave the Church. It made me think of how even the Elect will be decieved in these Last Days. It also made me grateful that we have the Book of Mormon, such a powerful evidence against all of these false accuastions.

Also, I had one of the most beautiful experiances of all of my mission during divisions a week ago with the zone leaders. We went to visit a recent convert who lived in an aldea (a tiny town) about half an hour away from Sololá. To get there we took a flete (a pick up with metal bars around the outside so that people can ride in the back standing up. They fit up to 20 people in the back of those crazy things) and spent that half hour driving around tiny, windy roads in the open air. We passed incredible fields perched on percipices, dark green hills, deep gorges, and stunning waterfalls. Words written 3 minutes before my time runs out can't describe it, but it's something that I'll remember forever. Even more grateful now to have been called to Gmala.

For the district P day we made food again. hot dogs and cake, good stuff.
Me grilling the cheapest hot dogs I have ever eaten. Definitely not doing that again.
Also, the best (and only) chocolate cake I've ever baked in a toaster oven.

 The back of a package of hot dog buns, where the food pyramid is featured to prove that bread like hot dog buns should be the base of our diet (a solid 24 grams of sugar per bun! I might as well eat cake!)

The view from the house of the zone leaders. They exercise in front of that window every morning.

June 24, 2014

Well, it's been a trying week up here in Patzicia. Yet again, we had another investigator, Victor Esquit, not pass his baptismal interview. Despite having told us various times that he was married, it turns out that he had "forgotten" that he had never actually had a wedding. I felt bad for the zone leaders because they had to make the 1.5-2 hour trip down from Sololá, but when we taught Victor the Law of Chastity it was during divisions and one of the zone leaders was there in my place. In other words, they can't give us too much chicote [whipping?]. Still, as President Brough has said, this is one of the areas that most tries our faith in this mission.

A rather scary announcement is that tomorrow (6/25/14) is my "one year as a missionary" mark. I can't believe how fast that year has flown by. Over this past year, I've been able to see so clearly how a mission is "the best two years for your life." I'm so grateful for every trial I've had, every lesson I've learned, and every weakness I've strengthened, little by little, in these 364 days. I wish I could have more than just a year left of the golden time to progress spiritually. However, I'm not going to lie, there's definitely some movies I want to see, so maybe two years is just perfect...

Two days from now our new mission president, President Markham, will arrive here and President Brough will leave. It's sad to see him and his wife go. They're given this mission an incredible reputation for exact obedience. The stories I hear from other mission in Gmala make me grateful for my call to serve here and for the three years that President and Sister Brough have spent making this mission the way it is.

Thanks for all the support and encouragement you've given me over the last year. I love your letters!

Love, Elder Cannon

This is a nice tienda and comedor (cafeteria) that we have in our area. The fact that it is sponsored by Alka-Seltzer isn't the greatest sign...

Also, a picture of our district after spending two hours trying to flag down a bus so that we could go to the Zone P day in Sololá. I'm pretty sure all those exhaust fumes caused us some serious damage.

This week we got to run the fun errand of going to the town hall to search through there old records to see if one of our investigators was actually married.

Also, Chapines have way cooler signatures than we do

July 1, 2014

Well, yet another incredibly fast week. we're still fighting with a bunch of challenges and setbacks in our area. Patzicia is really faith trying. Still, we have had some good advancements. We've been working a lot with a ¨macheteros¨ (I supose that in English that would be something like ¨machete-ers.¨ It´s what the people in Zaragoza are called for their affinity for machetes.) named Jorge. He's a full blown 60 year old cowboy who can't read but has been very quick to accept the gospel. It's almost how funny he takes it all. In our third visit we had a conversation that went something like this...

Me- So Hermano Jorge, as we explained, you need to pray and ask God tonight if the Book of Mormon is true
Jorge- Está bien, but I already know it's true.
Me-¡Muy bien! but if the Book of Mormon is true that means you have to be baptized. You realize that, right?
Jorge- Está bien
Me- Um, ok, then how about July 6th?
Jorge- Está bien.

Now, there are investigators like that who just aren't paying any attention, but the difference with him is that he's been fulfilling all his commitments and even showed up to church all on his own, without waiting for my companion to pass for him a few weeks ago. It's interesting how some people are just so prepared and how some people are just so not prepared (I just love how many people here are so afraid of us that the won't even shake our hands because they're so afraid that they will be smitten just for coming into close contact with heathen such as us). more proof that it's so important to follow the Spirit so that you spend your time with those who are prepared and don't waste it teaching people who have no desires to change.

In case anyone is not aware, the Wrold Cup is going on right now and it's pretty much the highlight of Guatemalan life here. Every single company from Mcdonalds to cell phone conpanies to Tortrix, the company that makes chips here has some sort of World Cup promotion. Every radio in every bus or store is always broadcasting the games. I can tell that it's a pretty big temptation for my companion to listen, but for me not only is soccer not my favorite, but I can't even understand anything the announcers are saying other than ¨gooooooooool!¨ Yesterday during P day we got trapped in the food court of the mall in Chimaltenange right as a game started. It was rather excruciating to have to listen to the couple hundred people who were there all gasp or start cheering at the same time without having any idea of what was happening.

Also, I finally was able to go to the giant market in Chimal to buy a bunch of corte. Normally, a full thing or corte can cost a couple hundred dollars, but we found that if you buy used corte you can get it super cheap. Needless to say, I went back with a backpack stuffed full of corte. I think I'll just wear it at BYU and tell everyone that it what the men in guatemala wear. If the misisonaries in Tonga can come back wearing Sulus, I want to be able to lounge around in my corte.

This Friday we'll have our first conference with our new misison president. There's a lot of speculation as to which rules he will change. I'm just hoping that we will be able to go to the temple more often and that we'll be able to play board games on P day.

Really quick, another obedience scripture that I love. D and C 59-23. I love seeing that peace in my converts as they live the Gospel of jesus Christ.

In all, I'm so very grateful for this year I've had to serve the Lord and become more like him. It can be very trying at times, but so very worth it.

Love, Elder Cannon

I celebrated turing 1 year in the mission by doing one of my favorite things, eating ice cream

Also, I thought that this was a nice visual metaphor of what we do as a missionary. In the picture I'm seperating the milpa from the monte (corn from the weeds) while as a misionary I seperate the wheat from the tares.