Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Week 63 and 64

September 23, 2014
We've had an incredible amount of miracles this week. The biggest has been the progress of la familia Gamez, a family we've been teaching. The fact that we found them at all was a miracle (they live far out of the way in a tiny aldea), and I know that the Lord has been preparing them for quite some time. I have never enjoyed teaching someone so much. Maybe it's such a great experience to visit them because I can see how we're not just teaching them lessons, we're inviting them to come unto Christ, repent, and be baptized by someone who possesses the correct  authority. The husband was a total alcoholic but has stopped drinking. The family has grown much closer to each other and all are progressing together in the gospel. It really is a great blessing to be able to apply the power and authority of our calling to help. We've experienced many other miracles with them in the past two weeks: the family showing up on time to church despite other commitments they had which could have kept them from attending, a son who we hadn't been able to teach the Word of Wisdom being inspired to stop disobeying that commandment without any intervention on our part, the family having the papers they need to get married, etc. It has been a great experience, one of the highlights of my mission. This and other great things that have been going on in our area have made me wonder why we're being so blessed right now. The sisters in Calvario, for example, are also working very hard but are suffering quite a bit. They haven't had a single investigator attending in 3 weeks, while we have and average of more than 9 a week during this change. I have to assume that The Lord knows what He's doing when he sends us trials and when he makes things a little bit easier for us. I'll enjoy the easy times while there here and try to learn and be grateful during the trials. 

Also, it looks like the website we use to send our weekly letters to our mission president has added a weather widget that lets us see the 5 day forecast for our area. Doesn't help that much. It says that every day will have a high of 65 and most days will have a low of 55 with rain everyday... Good old Patzicia.

Hope you all are doing well. Love you all (and all your letters, as always),

Elder Cannon

September 30, 2014
 This was truly an incredible week, one of the best in my mission. The highlight was the baptism of the Gamez Hernandez family. On Saturday we had a wedding for their daughter and son in law, Isabela and Ronal (they were living together but weren't married) and the next day we had their baptismal service. All 6 members of the family were baptized and I was blessed to be able to perform the ordinance for all 6. I've completed families by baptizing the non-member husband or wife, but this was the first time I've ever baptized a complete family, including their children. It was such an incredible blessing, as well as one of my goals for the mission. However, it certainly didn't come easily. The Adversary did everything he could to stop their spiritual progression. We had problems with the papers, problems with the lawyers, and the day of the wedding, the dad, Alejandro ran out of gas twice and locked his keys in the car. Still, despite the opposition, we pulled everything off without a hitch. It's been so great to see them progress, from the time we contacted them while they were walking home to now. I loved going over the baptismal questions with the family and hearing them recount how much their lives have changed and how many blessings they've received as they have repented. The dad was a total alcoholic and the son drank and smoked as well, but the Lord had been preparing them for quite a while and when we arrived they were very willing to do the Lord's will and were remarkable receptive to the Spirit. They're definitely my favorite converts I have thus far. I love that family so much. This experience has motivated me even more to work hard, to do everything I can to find those people who is ready to accept the Gospel. I know there are more families like la familia Gamez Hernandez out there and I am excited to find them.
In all, I'm very happy, but also a little sad, because this Wednesday I've got changes and will be leaving Patzicia after 6 months of serving there. When I arrived here I certainly didn't imagine how much I would grow to love this area. Sure, It's been incredibly hard, but I’ve learned and grown a lot and was able to finish my time here with this incredible blessing.

And some photos:

The baptism...

and the wedding

At their wedding reception we were treted like kings. It felt like we were explorers visiting a tribe in the jungle. The brought us out a special table and a bunch of food, including tamalitos, which are incredible

Alejandro and Lucriecia's granddaughters

The wedding again, with us and the branch president as well (you can tell we're in Zaragoza by the way they're dressed. Just look at that mustache)

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Week 62

September 16, 2014
X-ka k'ij. I hope everyone had a most excellent 15 de Septiembre, the Independence Day here in Central America. On the 14th I was in Zaragoza, where there are always fiestas and man, they were getting ready for a pretty great celebration. Everything here in Patzicia always seems a little more gloomy and drizzly. I don't think the people threw quite a great a party (at least I didn't see anyone dancing on top of buses in motion like I did last year). However, I can't talk since we used the day (which was our P day) to defrost the freezer. It was as fun as it sounds.

Things have been going well in our area. Too well in fact. A few days ago the stake president talked to us and said that he was going to ask President Markham to put missionaries back in Zaragoza. Pretty sad because I love that city so much. We've just started teaching a big, really prepared family there in Zaragoza that came to church for the first time this Sunday. They're really prepared and it's well worth the 10 or 15 Quetzales we have to spend to travel out to their aldea (a little group of houses a ways away from the main city).

Also, a few days ago we knocked on the door of Antonio, the really great grandpa who we used to always have Family Home Evenings with but who fell back into his old addiction to alcohol. He answered to door and we found out that after 6 weeks straight of drinking he was finally sober again. He certainly looked a little the worse for wear. He had lost a lot of weight, hadn't shaved well, and was wearing dirty clothes, but I was so incredibly happy to hear his normal voice again. I think I experience a little bit of the joy our Heavenly Father feels when we repent. I was sad for all the suffering he had passed through but all that was forgotten in how overjoyed I was to have him back again. I felt the Spirit really strongly as I taught him about how it is only through the Atonement of Jesus Christ that we can overcome our weaknesses and faults. We can't do it on our own. That was something I really needed to hear myself. These things are always easier to recognize in other people. Accurate introspection is really hard. Ay yayay (not sure if that's the right spelling in English, but we'll do it.)

P.S. here's a picture of Elder Hintze and me at a meeting we had with Elder Ochoa last Thursday. He's one of the elders who entered the field with me and is probably one of the most pilas missionaries I've ever met. Yep, we finally ended up wearing the same tie we both brought from the States. Awkward...

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Week 61

September 9, 2014
This week was another great one. I rededicated myself to being as obedient and diligent as possible. As I have done so the Lord has blessed me with what I so desperately long for: the security that I've done all that I can even in the face of delays, disappointments, or setbacks. This week I was also able to see some indications that yes, I am slowly but surely developing more patience and charity. I've still got a long way to go, but at least I'm moving. (I realize that these emails must sound pretty bipolar at times, but remember that a lot can happen in one week in the mission field).

 The disappointment of the week was that this Sunday morning it was raining really hard and we only had 4 investigators attending. The rain really can be a killer here sometimes. However, I've been trying to apply what President Uchtdorf taught last General Conference to not just be grateful for the number of blessings we've received, rather, cultivate and attitude of gratitude that we'll have regardless of the circumstances. This Sunday when we only had 4 investigators attending I really tried to be just as grateful as the last two Sundays when we had 10 and 12. It paid off and I was happy and excited to be a missionary. In all, things continue to go well. I'm happier than I've been at any other point in my mission and so grateful for this chance to serve and improve myself.

Also, I had the rather disturbing and rather late realization the other day that I'm not longer a teenager. Not sure how that happened, but it makes me feel old. Hmmm, I guess like that means I have to be responsible now. It's kind of sad.


Elder Cannon

P.S. This really must be the Promised Land. The vegetables here are way bigger than any I've seen in the U.S. The broccoli and carrot that I took pictures of are normal sized here. The really big ones get shipped off. . Every day here in Patzicia trucks and trucks get stuffed full of amazing vegetables (once again, so little of the good stuff stays here in Guatemala, and even less in Patzy). The corn stalks here must get up to 15 feet or more. 

P.P.S. I took this picture on the way to zone training today. That bus would be considered "fairly full." You know that they're really stuffed when there are a half dozen people hanging on the outside of the bus and the ayudante (the guy who works on the bus but isn’t the driver) is collecting bus fares through the windows while climbing around outside of the bus. That's what I need to get a picture of.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Week 60

September 2, 2014

Wow we've had a great week, which included a baptism! Wohoo! Actually, it wasn't really that exciting. Basically, someone realized that a 9 year old girl in Zaragoza that was baptized a year ago but didn't have any records in the church. She is very active, as is her family, but somehow the records had never been submitted. "We now [had] but one choice." We had to baptize her again. Yeah... kind of awkward, but it was a nice experience anyway. We taught her all the lessons super quickly and then next Sunday she was baptized. The miracles have continued this week. In a miracle truly unheard of here in Patzicia we had 12 investigators attending this last Sunday. Not sure how that happened... 

Really, this is one of my happiest times in my entire mission. I'm healthy, having success, have a great companion, am not suffering in the heat, am surrounded by incredible plants and mountains, and can look at cool corte where ever I go (except Zaragoza, since they don't use it there). I feel like it can't last for too long, because I think the Lord wants me to grow even more and as we all know that happens most often through trials. However, I'm trying to enjoy the moment while it lasts.

Hmmm, how about a cool quote: "A mission is like a grindstone. Whether you are ground down or polished up depends on what you are made of" Very true...

Love you all,

Elder Cannon