Feb 17, 2015
Well, happy Valentine's Day. Here it's called el Dia de Cariño (the day of affection) but in a spiritual thought in zone training last week, one of the missionaries tried to sell it as el Dia de Caridad (the day of charity). It was a nice reminder about the pure love of Christ, which we all could use more of, and gave us a holiday that we could actually celebrate.
Wow, there have been lots of problems in the zone this week. Lots of problems. It literally is quite tiring. For three days in a row we've been getting to bed around 11:30, which is pretty unusual given that we always have to be sleeping at 10:30. Still, it’s cool how much love the Lord gives us for the missionaries under our stewardship, or in our flock, you could say. The frustrating thing is that I feel like we hardly ever have time to really work in our own area. As far as our investigators go, I feel like we have had pretty much zero progress in this last week. It's discouraging because I know that we have to give the example in baptizing every week, but we haven't baptized since January. That's not just sad for us, that's even more sad for those people who haven't been able to be cleansed from their sins as they make that essential covenant with God. Oh well, we keep working.
We have become great friends with a family that owns the best bakery in all of our area. Last week, after buoying our daily dinner of bread to eat as we walk, they gave me 1 Quetzal more than they should have in exchange for the Q10 bill I paid them with. I realized what had happened when we were a block and a half away, but we returned to give them back what is the equivalent of 13 cents. They then gave us a couple of pounds of free bread and sent us on our way with plenty of "que les vaya bien's" It was a fun experience and made them love us and us love them even more.
Anyway, I was thinking yesterday about what the Lord has taught me in each of the areas that I've had. In hindsight, it seems so easy to see the hand of the Lord in every area, in every companion, etc. As I have progressed in the mission, the Lord has taught me humility (in Escuintla), patience and charity (in Patzicia), diligence (Comalapa), and now, here in San Lucas 3, I feel like I have the opportunity to put all those lessons together and become a truly consecrated missionary who has the constant companionship of the Spirit. Obviously, I still have very far to progress in all of those virtues, but I am so grateful for the time the Lord has given me to be a missionary because I know that I wouldn't be able to have that progress if I weren't here. Throughout my time I have also learned to have so much more love. I wasn't a very loving person before, but now I feel so much love for the people, for the culture, for my investigators and converts, for the other missionaries, and of course, much more love for the Lord. But seriously, I never want to leave the mission. I could definitely hide in some backwoods aldeas and the assistants would never find me. I'm thinking about somewhere around Zaragoza...
As always, this area continues to provide me with things I haven't done or tried since I entered the mission field (e.g. Jolly Ranchers, root beer floats, etc.). My favorite this week was when I got to use President Markham's iPhone 6 to send a text message to the Stake president in Chimal. We were returning from a meeting from him but got stuck in the Sunday afternoon traffic in Antigua (best thing ever since we spent in total two hours with him just asking him questions). He handed me his phone and told me to send the message. He asked "do you know how to use it? Oh... of course you do..." The truth was though, it took a bit for me to figure out how to do it again. The experience was something of an adrenaline rush though.
Love you all,
Feb 24, 2015
Wow, this week has been one of the most tiring since my training. On Saturday we were on divisions (long story) and one of the elders asked me "Elder Cannon, are you tired?" I said that yes, I could hardly stay awake, to which he replied, "Yeah, I can see it in your eyes." That day Elder Alarcon and I spent so long traveling, contacting bus after bus. At the end of the day we had 208 contacts, 104 contacts each. I sure am getting to know Antigua well, as well as all of its surrounding cities. Speaking of which, Guatemalan geography has finally clicked for me. In all my mission I've been traveling around Guatemala, in the coast, city, and mountains, and pretty much everywhere you can see at least one, if not several, of the major volcanoes (Fuego, Agua, and Pacaya). For whatever reason though, it's always been hard for me to be able to orient everything well in my head as I've been in areas in very different position to the volcanoes. However, in our area there's a place where we went that finally helped to see how it all fits together, how if I drop down between Agua and Fuego I'll get to Escuintla, or if I drop down the mountains on the opposite side of Agua I'll get to Villa Nueva and the Capital. I'm realizing as I explain all this that it really isn't interesting at all unless you've been traveling around these places for a couple years. Let's just say that it was a pretty cool realization for me.
Moving on... Now I'm not sure what to write about because I'm afraid it will just turn out to be something else that's only significant to me... Oh well, too bad...
I realized this week that one of the things that I most love about being a leader is having more opportunities to get to serve my fellow missionaries. I often think about how much love the Lord gives us for those we serve. Even if it means that we have to sacrifice time working in our own area (and man, our time has been very limited this week), it really is a blessing to be able to have these opportunities to serve the other missionaries, opportunities which the majority of other missionaries don't have. For instance, in this week I installed a water heater for some very grateful sister missionaries who had been taking cold showers for several weeks, moved two sets of sisters and one set of elders to new houses, and had to negotiate a rent contract with a very crazy land lady. After battling with her and all of us getting angry, we left and said a prayer and then the Spirit softened her heart and I (my companion, yet again, was in divisions) found out that she was actually a BYU alumni, along with all her family, became her sincere friend and was able to please both parties in fixing the contract. It was a cool lesson in how the Lord's way is always better and how important it is to love and the power of the Spirit. We also did several baptismal interviews all over the zone, and quite a few other things.
One quick thought that our bishop gave to us on Sunday (this ward is so pilas! We sat in on a ward council and were stunned yet again. Later we asked him what he did to be able to get a ward where all members, not just the bishop and his counselors, do exactly what they should), anyway, he said that if we want the companionship of the Spirit, we have to be willing to pay the price.
March 3, 2015
I really don't know what to write about this week. I'm not sure where it all went. I feel tired though, so I assume that I was working quite a bit. This week was a tiring week. One night all I had energy to eat for dinner was a half pint of vanilla ice cream that I had left in the freezer. We've really been fighting to get the Work moving here in our area. Things have been pretty slow mainly because we haven't had much time to work. It's been disappointing and frustrating, but I've definitely come to learn that if we're doing all we can, we really don't have to worry, we can have peace and know we're doing the Lord's will.
Actually, now that I think about it, even though we're not having a lot of success with our investigators right now, we are very blessed in that our converts are doing quite well. On Sunday, in fast and testimony meeting, Marcela, the oldest daughter of Alicia Avalos (the family we baptized at the end of December), bore her testimony. She said that she had no idea why she did, she just felt something inside of her telling her to do it. Her younger sister Paula is the president of the beehives class in her ward and both are completing their Personal Progress. Alicia is listening to the BOM on tape every day as she drives to work and is participating very actively in all the welfare classes the ward is offering.
That reminds me of something. Thursday we visited them and after the lesson it became apparent that Marcela was very stressed about her math homework that was due the next day. After all was said and done, we spent two more hours there as I taught her how to factor binomials. It was a great experience for me and an excellent opportunity to serve. That is one talent that I never thought I would be able to use on my mission, but sure enough, it looks like I finally got the chance. I now know a bunch of math vocab in Spanish, which is a plus.
In other news, my childhood fear of dogs has returned. Lately my companion and I have had several pretty much near death experiences with some very aggressive dogs. There are always packs of wild dogs roaming the streets and I used to walk through them without hesitation. No longer. I think that the most dangerous part about the mountains of Guatemala isn't the crime or strange diseases, but the wild dogs and buses that are honestly very skillfully driven twice as fast as any sane person would.
Love you all,
PS I included a picture of me using a mecapal, a strap that Guatemalans use to carry heavy things. They really are pretty ingenious. Still though, after carrying just a couple of these huge 100 lbs. bags of sand up a hill, my companion and I were pretty dead.
March 10, 2015
It was a good week, even though things are still moving slowly as far as the Work is concerned in our area. However, I have continued to feel the Spirit more and more. It's really indescribable, but I feel like I'm finally starting to see some progress on that front. I've for so long wanted to have the guide of the Spirit and now as I’ve been trying to sanctify myself, I really have had results. It feels so good to have that constant companionship. I can see now why President Hinckley (at least I think it was him), said that our having the Holy Ghost is more important than almost anything else in this life. Of course, along with the Holy Ghost's presence inevitably comes spiritual chicote about things that I still need to improve, but even that feels good because it gives me hope that I'll be able to progress even more now that I know what I need to do.
For our zone P day on Monday we watched a compilation of many of the videos the Church has made about the life of Christ. It was interesting because the style was so different. The videos were very quiet and subdued, not a lot of music, movement, or dialogue. At first it was almost a little bit boring, but then I realized how much chance that gave to the Spirit to teach us. When the movie ended, I felt so full of the Spirit that I felt like I could do miracles just like the apostles in the time of Christ. It's such a great privilege to be a personal representative of Him. I know this is His work.
This week we witnessed a cool miracle. We were visiting an investigator for the third time and who had attended church last Sunday. She explained to us how she had had a dream three months ago that two gringos came to her and told her that they would come and sow because they said that the field was ready and had already been prepared. She watched as the vegetables grew and became very beautiful and delicious. She then told us that she felt that she felt that we were the meaning of that dream. The Spirit testified to us that yes, the Lord had prepared her to receive this message and that we had been guided there to plant it and in time it would bear plenty of fruit.
Well, time's about up. I'm off to do divisions with the assistants for the first time in all my mission. I'll be going to Boca del Monte with Elder Hintze. Should be super fun. Adios!
PS Here's a picture of our weekly planning. How we got into a situation so unconducive to revelation is a long story, involving having to move the hermanas yet again? We finished our weekly planning on the balcony above a super busy intersection, sitting on a of pile of tires, wrapped in a blanket and a sister's sweater. It was interesting. We're getting quite proficient at moving. My companion and I are thinking about starting a company. I also fixed yet another shower head. This time I had to take out some of the piping and put in new (with Teflon tape and everything). If the moving company doesn't work out I'll become a plumber.
I have never cut up so much fruit with a knife so small in all my life.
Only in Guatemala can you buy 20 lbs. of fruit for just a few dollars.
Everyone was in agreement that a pancake taco with Nutella, a
banana, and whipped cream was so good it was a sin.
Also the food we bought and made this morning for the zone for zone training. I have a bunch of extra money from my time in Patzy and Comalapa (since there was nowhere to spend it) and despite my best efforts, I haven't been going though it as fast as I should. We went a little overboard and made breakfast for everyone.