Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Week 68


Well, this will be a short email this week. We've got changes tomorrow. Yes, it's only been four weeks, but if we did the full 6 weeks the missionaries would be flying home on Christmas so we'll make up by having a cambio [change] of 8 weeks in two changes. Elder Fulmer is going and I’ll be receiving a new missionary straight from the CCM. That should be fun. It’s been great to see Elder Fulmer grow and improve as a missionary. It's helped me grow a lot too. The tough part is that we've really been struggling to find progressing investigators. I'm pretty sure that they're going to close this area next change (speaking of which, it turns out that my last companion, Elder Gonzales, is going to open Zaragoza again this change. I'm really happy for him).

One success that we have had here though is that we've really been working with one recent convert who was pretty distanced from the Church when I got here. We've shown her a lot of sincere love and have really won her confidence. I can imagine how successful we would be if we could develop and show that love for all the people in our area.

Yesterday we went to Antigua for P day. It was pretty incredible, as always. For lunch we went to El Mono Loco [The Crazy Monkey]. They're famous for their nachos. I've never seen so much food on one plate.  Despite the fact that I shared it, I was still stuffed. They deserve the fame. 

Also, a picture of my district. It's a lot smaller here in Compalapa than it was in Patzicia. Inexplicably though, despite the fact that I have more free time each night, I remain just as far behind in my journal as I used to be...

Anyway, I love you all, as always. I am more and more grateful and glad to be a missionary every day. This work is great and I know it's true.

Elder Cannon

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Week 67

October 21, 2014
Well, yet another week has flown by. I don't really have any big experiences, although we did have one nice miracle last Saturday. The stake was doing an activity where youth would get to experience missionary life for a day and they sent two super pilas 16 year olds to work with us for 5 hours so we decided to do divisions. I practiced a lot with Elder Fulmer before hand so that he would be prepared to take the lead. When we came back that night after the divisions, it was great to see how he was so happy and full of confidence.  As he had been forced to speak and understand more, without the help of a gringo at his side, it would seem that the gift of tongues kicked in and he was able to do everything he needed to. They even had 75 contacts with 35 families contacted during divisions. I was so happy that he had that opportunity to see how much he can really do on his own.

Speaking of the gift of tongues, I had an experience that made me feel really good yesterday. For the first time in my entire mission, a person we were talking to said that he thought I was from either Honduras or Panama because of my Spanish. That was definitely a little confidence booster for me as well as one of my minor mission goals.

Yesterday for P day we really didn't do much, although we did go to view some of the art galleries here in Comalapa. They have some of the coolest paintings of streets in Antigua. I'm totally going to get a few of those for my house someday. However, I also saw a painting of the Last Supper as if it had taken place in Sololá by Lake Atitlan. Everyone was dressed as Guatemalans and you could see the lake and the volcanoes in the background. It was cool, until I realized that, wait, Christ really did come to the Americas (probably here in Gmala) and really did call twelve Disciples and really did institute the sacrament, when I realized that the painting just became awesome.

One rather ridiculous thing that happened to us this week was that this Sunday we passed by a retirement home in order to bring and investigator/convert named Fernando to church. He was baptized several months ago but hasn't been confirmed since he started drinking again. We accompanied him to church but after sacrament meeting he somehow escaped. We caught him right as he was being handed a glass of something in a tienda close to the church. He said it was coconut water and then drank it at which point we realized that it was the hardest alcohol available. We brought him back to church and tried to disguise the heavy smell of alcohol on his breath to no avail. To make it even worse, when we dropped it off at his retirement home, all the old people were watching LOTR.

In all, I'm loving being a missionary. Reading back over my journal makes me more and more grateful for every day. I've really come to love it more than I every thought I could.


Elder Cannon

Ok, so in Comalapa there's a really long mural on the wall as you enter the city. It depicts the history of the people here in the mountains of Guatemala. I found it fascinating so I'll include some highlights here.

Creation, Mayan life, and colonization

Indigenous life

Indigenous life continued

Revolution and the great earthquake of 1976

The Guatemalan civil war. Government forces vs. guerillas. Lots of atrocities. The ¨Paz¨ was signed not too long ago, in the 80´s or maybe in 1991.  It's a pretty violent mural.

Hmmm, long story, but it would seem as if I can't access the other pictures right now. It’ll have to wait for next week

Monday, October 13, 2014

Week 66

October 13, 2014
Wow, yet another week has flown by. Today we had interviews with President Markham, so I'm writing on Monday because tomorrow will be our P-day. Anyway, things are going well here in Comalapa, even though we're still struggling to find investigators.  Six months ago, when I first came to Patzicia, the situation was similar. We were facing a lot of rejection every day without being able to see many results, however, I feel different this time. Instead of becoming depressed and discouraged, I still feel hopefully and excited to work. It's been cool to see how much I've learned and grown in these six months and in my mission.

Being with Elder Fulmer has helped me see that even more. He's the first companion I've had who's younger than me (in real life or in the mission). Like I said last letter, he left the CCM seven weeks ago and is still really struggling with Spanish. It would seem that his last companion, in an effort to be diligent, often cut the hour of language study to be able to have more time to work. As well, being with a gringo makes it harder. Regardless, I’m getting to learn more patience as I help him learn how to speak even the most basic Spanish. He's pilas though, and so it's fun to train him.

Teaching him all I've learned about Spanish, teaching strategies, the mission, etc. has helped me realize just how much I have learned. It’s so strange to think of myself as an experienced older missionary. It's gratifying and humbling at the same time (I mean, I'm not going to lie, it's pretty fun to be walking fast and having your companion run to catch up after having the opposite happen when I was in training). As much as I’ve learned, I know there's still a lot more I can do to improve, but I have the surety that I will be able to achieve it.

Hmmm, a little bit about Comalapa. It's basically like a combination of Patzicia and Zaragoza. Lots of corte (luckily). The streets are narrow and winding and sometimes I have fun imagining that I'm in 19th century London (fun, right?). Our house is great. It has a ton of natural light (in Patzicia all the light in our house came from two different colored fluorescent light bulbs). It's on the second floor right next to the ever busy central park so I feel like I'm in a skyscraper in New York.

A great experience this week. We teach an English class every Thursday and last week we taught our class the Primary song ¨Head Shoulders Knees and Toes.¨  It was pretty hilarious to see all those adults trying to do it as fast as all the primary kids in the states can.

Additionally, we had stake conference this weekend and they showed a video the church made about savoring moments with your family, or something like that. It used a bunch of high speed cameras and slow motion. They showed that and then put on the video the church made for Easter ¨because of Him¨ and they pretty much blew my mind. Man, the Church is just so pilas!

Anyway, I'm loving my mission and can't imagine being anywhere else. Thanks for all your love and support.


Elder Cannon

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Week 65

October 7, 2014
Wow, big week this week.  After writing last week Elder Gonzalez and I headed over to Zaragoza so that I could say goodbye to the people there.  I’ve included some pictures of Ricarda who we baptized back in August.  Her piglets have gotten really big and have lost some of their cuteness. 

We also visited my favorite eternal investigator, Danielito. He’s pretty crazy (and pretty tiny). He doesn't want to get baptized because he says he's already been baptized three times and that's probably enough to be safe.  Our attempts to teach him about authority have proved fruitless.  He is worried that he'll get sick by being baptized in the cold water of the font (that's actually a fair concern as it happened to Hermana Ricarda), and that he has a lot of mujeres [women].  I'm guessing that's a definite lie.  Anyway, I'll be sad to leave him.  

I also said goodbye to la familia Gamez Hernandez. That was pretty hard. I love that family so much and they were sad too, asking if they would at least be able to call.  I hope I'm able to stay in touch with them.  It’ll be hard as they don't even have email.  In the night I said goodbye to Patzicia, eating elotes [corn on the cob with the husks pulled down to form a “handle” and served with salt and lime juice] there for the last time.

Leaving the aldea of the famlia Gamez Hernandez

As far as my changes go, my fervent prayers were answered and I didn't go to the coast again, in fact, I stayed as close as I could to my last area.  I'm now in Comalapa, Chimaltenango.  To get to Comalapa you just have to get off the highway at Zaragoza, drive through it, and then keep going another half hour.  In other words, I get to see Zaragoza several times a week (every time I have to go to Chimal).  Anyway, I'm happy about it and it makes me laugh how I had to take my suitcases all the way to the capital just to take them back again.
Comalapa is very similar to Patzicia. There is lots of corte (thank goodness). My district now consists only of me and my companion (Elder Fulmer) and two sisters. I don't even know what to do with my time now that I don't have to make so many calls each night.
Elder Fulmer is in his 2nd change here (still in his training), so in missionary lingo that makes me his step dad (his second trainer). He super pilas, although he knows almost no Spanish.  Still, we're working hard.  Upon arriving in my new area, Comalapa, Elder Fulmer told me that we basically had no investigators.  The only progressing investigator we had we dropped after my first lesson in the area as she rather explicitly told us that she didn't want anything.  Still, I know that the Lord wants me to baptize this month.  Elder Fulmer has already learned very well how to be obedient and diligent, but still hasn't had a baptism in his mission.  
We immediately started looking for new investigators.  I think the Lord has prepared me for this assignment.  My last area, Patzicia and Zaragoza was quite close and very similar to Comalapa.  Through a long series of incredible miracles, I saw that area transform.  It went from having maybe 3 or 4 investigators every week to having 10 or 12.  My time there culminated with the 6 baptisms the last week, two full families.  Coming here right after that great experience has given me hope and faith that we will find families just like that here in Comalapa and we will baptize them.  Our first week here didn't go so well.  We had low datos [statistics] and no investigators attending.  However, we've kept working hard and kept on looking with faith.  At 8:40 last night the miracle happened.  In a dark, rather scary alley, we found an incredibly pilas family of 5.  It's cool to think that through faith we really can have miracles like that all the time.

Conference was incredible, as always.  I absolutely loved Elder Christofferson's talk on agency and accountability, as well as Elder Holland’s talk on poverty.  His talks are always rather spiritually exhausting since they are so powerful.  Another of the highlights was Elder Bednar's talk on why we do missionary work.  https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2014/10/come-and-see?lang=eng  I recommend it to any of my nonmember friends as it explains very nicely why anyone would be so crazy as to leave work or school for two years to go walk around all day in some faraway place.

Suitcase full of corte