February 3, 2015
Well, yet another week. It's scary how fast time is passing. Changes are tomorrow and I will only have three changes left in the field. I feel like Elizabeth in Pirates of the Caribbean 2 when the Kraken grabs her ankle with one of its tentacles and drags her "kicking and screaming" to the edge of the boat until she is rescued. Kind of a weird image, I know, but it's the one that best fits how I feel.
This week was a little bit discouraging because of some disobedience that was going on in the zone. I did get my first real experience with the gift of discernment though, as we were dealing with all these problems. I think for the first time I began to understand why being a bishop could be so difficult. It's hard to have people you love lie and try to hide their sins. It's so disappointing.
The Work is going well in our area. It's neat to see how the Lord blesses us and we still have a very large pool of investigators to teach despite the relatively little time we spend working there.
Changes are tomorrow. My companion and I will stay together. Elder Mendieta will be training though! I'll be a grandpa! Also, in the zone we have eight companionships, not counting us. Of those eight, four are sisters and of those four, there will be a sister finishing her mission in each area. In each of those areas, her companion will be training a new missionary fresh from the CCM. In all, we will have 7 newbies in the zone. It'll be a crazy change, but it'll be fun. New missionaries have a really great spirit.
Well, time's up yet again. Time to go find some lunch.
January 27, 2015
Not a lot of time today, so this'll be a quick letter. De todos modos [Anyway], there's not too much to report anyway. We had our weekly share of miracles and blessings, my favorites were a couple of days in which I felt an increased sensitivity to the Spirit, something I have been striving for quite a while. It would seem like this whole process of purification/sanctification is having some effect. For example, last Tuesday I was on divisions and went to the area of one of the district leaders, Elder Henriquez. We visited a recent convert of about a week, Jesus, and his older sister, Jessica (who has incredible desires to be baptized).
That night we had the miracle of being able to teach her boyfriend with whom she was living and already had one daughter. We taught him lesson one as normal but then started to talk about the law of chastity and why he had to marry Jessica or stop living with her. Ha, I have never had a lesson quite as cool as what happened that night. The Spirit was so strong and we started to give him chicote (reprimand him) so hard. Often when I give chicote I feel frustrated or angry but this time the Spirit was guiding us as we tore into him. It was an incredible experience. I think one thing I've come to learn on my mission is how Heavenly Father feels when men mistreat His daughters. From what I've seen in situations like this and caring for the sisters in my district or zone, I can tell that, wow, it's something serious. After the lesson my companion and I were both super pumped up and practically ran home, not just because it was so late. Then, we suddenly felt exhausted from the Spirit we had felt and forgot most of what we had said.
Well, that's all folks. See you next week.
January 20, 2015
Well, the rapidity with which the weeks fly by has ceased to surprise me. I feel like all I have to do now is close my eyes, count to ten, and then it's a new week. Time has been going by especially quickly because we've been so busy. One day last week we didn't even work in our area at all. We were running around Antigua and San Lucas all day long. Speaking of which, there are some really weird gringos in Antigua and I am really awkward contacting in English. Part of the fun of that day was getting some more medical tests done (tests of a nature that I will not include here in order to respect the dignity of my calling). Good news! I passed my kidney stone! Bad news! I've still got whatever I contracted in Patzicia. I would love to see a graph of the time I have in the mission compared with the number of times I have called the nurse. My bet would be that 90% of her calls are from the missionaries that are in their first month in the field or their last 8 months.
This area has been full of "this is the first time I've done, seen, eaten, etc. this in the last 18 months. For example, yesterday was the first time I relaxed in a massage chair in probably a couple of years. On Sunday we were waiting for a family to finish making lunch and the husband started playing around on the piano to entertain us, first time I've listened to that in 18 months. The list goes on and on. This is such a different world that Comapala or Patzy.
Hmmm, this letter hasn't been very spiritual. I will say that we have been continuing to have a bunch of miracles. We're teaching a lot of people who are really passing through some pretty intense trials. There's one man in particular named Luis. We visited him for the second time yesterday. The sisters in Antigua contacted him as he and his wife were sitting in the park crying after learning that their daughter was just thrown in jail. Luis said they appeared out of nowhere like angels. In our first visit he seemed so thirsty for all the knowledge we could give him. He so sincerely desired to know, as he asked us, how he could draw closer to God in this trial. It's always so cool to see the peace and joy the gospel brings. All we taught him was the Restoration, but when we went back yesterday he kept saying how he could feel more peace now, how he was sleeping better, and praying more. The challenge for him will be church attendance. He is dying to go, and bring all his family, but Sunday mornings are the only time they can visit their daughter and bring her food and clothing. We’ll be praying for a miracle with him.
Anyway, love you all,
The baptism of Isabel
The views from our house
The view from my window as I study every morning.
January 13, 2015
It was a great week as we were able to see the Lord work many miracles and clear the obstacles so that we can help many of God's children enter the waters of baptism. On Sunday we had the baptism of Isabel, a single mother who has passed through many hardships in her life. We met her when she contacted us, saying that she wanted to help her 5 year old son, Jefferson, to learn to andar en los caminos de Dios. She was working on Sundays, but just in time she was fired in a merciful act by God to help her to do what was really important, attend church and be baptized. This week we also had two other women attending whose husbands had just left them that week. The ward has also been an incredible blessing for us. I have never seen leaders and members work so hard and follow so exactly the guidelines found in Manual 2.
Personally, I have really been trying to purify myself and be more receptive to the Spirit. I think that has been one of the major challenges of my mission, how to follow the guide of the Spirit. I can work hard and be obedient, but the true miracles always come through the Spirit. This is one things I really admire in my companion. He has a great portion of the Spirit and is a great example to me.
The weirdest moment of this week is when the stake president asked us to go and inspect the mattresses that the sisters here in San Lucas were sleeping on. They were using the mattresses the elders had been sleeping on and apparently there were a bunch of fleas (something very common here in the mountains) and stains of a rather displeasing nature. We went and minutely inspected each mattress, smelling all of them to make sure they were adequate for the hermanas. Sure enough, there were two that we needed to replace. That moment when were smelling the first mattress is probably one of the memories of my mission that I will keep for all my life. It was priceless.
As far as pictures goes, I've included the photo of the baptism of Alicia and her daughters. They're doing really well and are continuing to progress very rapidly. It sure is a big difference in teaching her, a university professor, and teaching people who can't even read (which isn't as common in this area as it was in Comalapa or Patzy, but it does happen). Hopefully I'll be able to get you guys a pictures of the baptism of Isabel. The internet cafe we're at right now has so many viruses that I think I'm starting to get sick (ok, that was pretty bad. I will confess and forsake.).
In all, I am loving my time here in San Lucas 3 so much. This is an incredible area, my favorite that I've ever had (although I do hold a special love Patzy and Zaragoza for other reasons).
PS yes, the shirts that the Alicia and Paola are wearing are immodest. That was rather embarrassing. They said they would bring their own white shirts and that was what they would find...
January 6, 2015
Well, Happy New Year! Wow, I can't believe that it is 2015. New Year’s Eve was passed as it always is in Gmala, with an incredible amount of fireworks that are illegal in the US. It felt like we were being attacked by aliens or something. Pretty exciting.
It is unbelievable though. 2014 has just flown by. This was an excellent week and we have seen many miracles in our area and in the zone. Honestly, everyday as we work we are blessed with so many miracles that it really is a sacrifice when we have to leave our area to do some errand like baptismal interviews. Yeah, we've been running a lot of errands recently. To be honest, I'm not even sure what to write about this week because it wouldn't be very interesting to anyone else. Mostly, I'm just kicking myself for not having brought my memory card for my camera. It got a pretty tough virus and I finally found someone who would fix it. The problem is that the virus changed the name of all the pictures so now I have to go through thousands of pictures by hand and change the name of each one so that it ends in .jpg so they can be seen. The point is that I should have brought it today but I didn't know that I would have time to work of it. Now there's something interesting for you all.
Well, today we did have an excellent zone training on sanctification (i.e. justification is being clean from sin, all obedient missionaries will be clean when they come back, but sanctification is being free from sin, comes as we entregar nuestro corazon a Dios, something like yielding our heart to God. For example, of the ten lepers, all ten were justified because they obeyed, but only one was sanctified. The result of sanctification is the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost, Power in la obra misional, and being an instrument in the Lord's hands. For a long time I've seen very pilas missionaries who work hard and have success, but I've also seen other missionaries who are pilas but have something more, they seem to exude the Spirit. They just have to open their mouth and the Spirit fills the room. For so long I've wanted that but haven't know how to have the companionship of the Spirit to that extent. I've realized that a large part of that is this process of sanctification, trading our desires and thoughts or God's. I guess this shouldn't really have been put in parentheses, but asi es).
In all, I'm loving my time in San Lucas 3. I love this area, I love my companion, I love being a missionary, I love Guatemala and I love its people. I'm so happy to be able to bring them the Restored Gospel.
Christmas Eve, which we spent in the house of the stake president (the most pilas stake president I've ever met) along with the hermanas in San Lucas. Yeah, that's a giant leg of pork.
A supermarket that is in San Lucas. The only other one in all the mission is in the area of the mission secretaries and assistants. Paiz is incredible, a little slice of heaven. It has things that I haven't seen in 18 months and since it's so upscale, we're even allowed to buy things like grapes, strawberries, lettuce, pork, and fish there, foods which otherwise are banned in the mission because they're so often contaminated. I did get a little baggy when I saw that they had our classic Sunday morning breakfast.