June 6, 2016

Week 26: Xela Centro

Well, to start the update, I still have dengue...I will for a few weeks most likely. I have been able to leave and work some, but it is still causing some problems with working. I think it's making me lose weight, and I can't work out, and haven't been able to in a couple of weeks now because my joints and muscles always kill. Haha.

Well, I was very prepared to have my first Latino companion, seeing as my last companion Elder Ward has only had 2 gringo companions out of all 16 he's had. I knew my companion would finally be a latino, everyone did, like 100% chance. I got to changes in Xela (packing everything and riding a bus for hours while sick really sucks haha) where I found out my new area, and companion. I am now in Xela Centro, the center of the biggest city in the mission. (Everyone knew I'd be going there because there are hospitals and everyone who is really sick gets sent there.) And my new companion is Elder Ramos...gringo companion number 3! (4 if you count the MTC.) The same Elder Ramos that was my district leader back in Chiantla. A little about him: he is from California. I don't think he played any sports in high school, more of the quiet type. I get along with him really well, especially because we're already cuates. And he is also part of Elder Ward's group, so this is his last change in the mission, so in missionary terms, I am "killing" him.

This area is pretty cool. I have access to a lot of things. There is a McDonald's in our area, which is like gold here for the missionaries. haha.

I get a little worried that my Spanish won't be very good since I've only had gringo comps, but then I realize I can already pretty much converse like a normal person without thinking about it now. It's kinda funny, the first thing members ask me here is how long I've been in the mission, I tell them 6 months. Then they always ask if I'm from California, and I tell them no. So they say "so you must have family that speaks Spanish then. So I guess my Spanish isn't half bad if the natives here can't believe I can speak Spanish after 6 months without knowing it before the mission.

Thanks for the email, that's really all I have time for this week. Love you!

May 31, 2016

From the Mission Nurse

Sister Lee,

Your son was diagnosed this week with Dengue Fever. The Area doctor in Guatemala City is personally overseeing his treatment. If you read about Dengue, you will see that it has no vaccine or cure, but that should not scare you. It runs its course and seldom has complications. His blood is being tested regularly and is being monitored by the Area doctor. I talked with your son earlier this morning and he is acutally feeling much better today. We are treating him with acetaminophen for the pain and fever, and encouraging him to stay hydrated. Other than that there is little medically that needs to be done. My own daughter had Dengue when she served in El Salvador and was sick for a week or two but recovered quickly. I am confident that your son is getting the best care possible. He is complying with all our instructions and we are watching him closely. I hope you know that Elder Lee has the best care possible. He is in our prayers as well as yours.

Hna. Worthen

May 30, 2016

Week 25: Dengue Fever!

Well, I got to the point this week where I had to call the enfermeras, and go get some tests done, and it turns out I have dengue fever, which is just one of those mosquito spread diseases. So Elder Ward and I haven't really been able to do much this week, as I have spent most of the time with super bad fevers in bed. There's not really any cure, I just have to get my blood drawn often so they can monitor my platelets. I also have a new best friend named Tylenol, because dengue is really painful, haha. But I'm just complaining. To be honest though, I'm a little bit scared I might have to be sent home for it. It apparantly lasts for weeks, and is supposed to get worse.

I also have changes. Tomorrow my new area will be in Xela, basically the most up-to-date city in the mission. I'm pretty much going to Xela because I'm sick, so I can be monitored, and be close by a hospital at all times, haha.

That's pretty much all my week consisted of, haha.

Thank you for the email mom! I love you!

Note from mom: I think all the 'haha's in his letter were an attempt at making the situation seem less serious; it didn't really work. Dengue fever is no laughing matter. Please keep Jackson in your prayers: that he will get the medical attention he needs and his recovery will be quick. He clearly loves his mission and I know he is anxious to get back to work.

May 23, 2016

Week 24: Not Feeling Great

So Andrea didn't end up being baptized because something popped up and she couldn't work it into her schedule. She is also busy next weekend, so it will be June 4.

We had multizone conference with another zone in Huehue; it was pretty good. It was pretty much sitting and listening to President Smith talk for 7 hours... but we learned a lot.

Other than that, the week has been very uneventful. Something made Elder Ward and I sick so we were sick for the better part of the week. That's pretty much it for the week. :)

Sorry for the super short email. I just don't feel great and can't really think of much to say.

Love you guys, talk to you next week.

May 16, 2016

Week 23: Happy Birthday Elder Lee!

Hi Mom,

My birthday was pretty cool. We didn't really do anything too special but a member here invited us to lunch and bought us cake. My companion also bought cake that morning. I got a few calls from some members and other elders which was cool. My companion got me an awesome birthday present though. He had some really cool corte from an area of the mission called Toto, and took it to a tailor and got me a vest made!

Today we have some fun plans. We get to go to Pies again, which is good because I need a new backpack, a dog finished off the last of it a few days ago, haha!

Then we set up a family home evening tonight with a member here from El Salvador who cooks and vends papusas. Papusas are a traditional Salvadorian food. It's like a tortilla, but before they cook it they fill it with meat, beans, and cheese, and then serve it topped with something called curtido, which is kind of a cabbage relish. We are going to teach them how to make hamburgers, and they are going to teach us how to make papusas, I'm super excited for that.

We still haven't gotten much rain, so we still only get water every once in awhile. It's kinda funny you asked about it beacuse I'm literally staring right at a protest in front of the city building about the water right now. The ward hasn't taken any action, such as fasting, as far as the water goes. I think they all just know it will come eventually and know the city is doing what they're supposed to with it I haven't heard anything about wildfires. A lot of the mountains are clear of trees from people cutting them down for firewood, and the mountains get burned down by farmers clearing fields all the time anyway.

We are finding a lot of investigators all of the time, and having to drop them just as fast, because when we contact people they invite us in and want to hear from us, but that's all. They think we're just walking around to give people personal sermons. so when we want them to go to church, or read a little bit or something, they don't want to. So we're starting to be a little more direct about what our purpose is here, so that we don't waste too much more time with people who really don't want to progress. So yeah, we're going through people super fast. But besides that, we do have a few promising people who we stick with. Andrea, the investigator whose boyfriend is an RM will be baptized this week hopefully. We also have a few baptismal dates set for June, but I don't know if I'll still be here then. 

We are having multizone conference this Thursday, I haven't been to one yet, so I don't really know what to expect. From what I hear they are usually pretty long, and President Smith just machetes people the whole time, haha. But I'm exctied and hope I learn something from it, and I think we get lunch too, which should be cool.

That's pretty much all I've got for this week. Thanks for the email. Love you!

May 9, 2016

Week 22: Not Weird

Hi mom! I loved being able to talk to you yesterday. It wasn't as weird as I expected, haha! probably because we email every week. I don't really have much to say today, and I'll make sure I answer your questions next time. I just don't have much time on the internet today because we have a service we're going to go to. Look forward to talking next week. Happy Mother's Day! Love you!

Elder Lee

Elder Ward

May 8, 2016

Mother's Day Skype!

In addition to a wonderful Mother's Day skype call, Jackson surprised us by sending this tribute to mother's which was read by Olivia in sacrament meeting. 

The family is defined as the most important social unit in society. I have no doubt that these words are true. I testify with my whole heart of the blessing that having a well-established family brings about. While there are no roles in the family more important than the other, the role of mother is definitely key.

In Alma, the stripling warriors had sure testimonies because of the examples and teachings of their mothers. They had been taught by their mothers that, if they did not doubt, God would deliver them. They had great faith and were favored of God because of their mother's testimonies.

I am very greatful for the opportunity we all have to be so belssed to be in our families, to have mothers to grow us, teach us, and sacrifice for us. I can't give enough thanks to my Heavenly Father, and to my mom, for the great example she has been to me, everything she has done for me, and how she has blessed my life.

May 2, 2016

Week 21: The Key is Working Hard and Having Fun

Jackson's letter was mostly coordinating our Skype call and responses to my letter and questions, so it's a bit jumbled.  

So does this mean that Lydia will be getting home before me? What the freak? Sister missions, haha! I'm super excited for Matt! I'm sure he's got plenty of resources from all the RMs in the family, but if he needs anything or has any questions, I would love to help him.

I don't think many here celebrate 5 de mayo.

I really miss the Kamas weather...like really bad...I'm always hot, and right now most of the time wet, at the same time! I've always preferred the cold over the heat, and never liked being wet...haha! ahi vamos though.

About the packing list, everything I brought is pretty good. Especially shoes that will last. Besides shoes and a raincoat, you can pretty much get everything you might need down here pretty easily. The pants are great. Maybe bring lots of pictures. I don't know what else, really. BTW...the suitcoats are super cheap here. I paid the equivalent of like $20 for mine, though that is expensive here, it's a lot cheaper that getting it in the US. Then I got it tailored for 15Q...like $2. So I'm still glad I didn't bring one from home.

Nothing too crazy has happened this week. My new comp is awesome. I learn a lot from him, and I fell like he's a brother to me. I feel very lucky to have had the comps I've had so far. We are starting to see a lot of success, and the time is going by super fast. I've realized that the key to that is working hard and having fun., which is what we've been doing all week. We have been marinating beef jerky all weekend and we put it in the oven at the church at 5:30 this morning. But yeah, nothing crazy, nothing to complain about. All is well here.

Love you mom! Can't wait to talk to you! It'll all work out with skype, don't worry!

April 25, 2016

Week 20: He Kills It In Lessons

So I got my new companion on Tuesday. His name is Elder Ward. Brandon Paul Ward is his full name. He's from Centerville, and played Lacrosse in high school. He's 20, and just completed 21 months in the mission...freaking viejo! His family has a cabin up Weber Canyon, and chances are I've waited on him at the drugstore multiple times. His dad was the CEO for Mrs. Fields, and is now a lawyer for the Color Run. But yeah, since Elder Ward is so old in he the mission he knows a TON! He kills it in lessons, and also knows all sorts of tricks outside of lessons having to do with living the mission life. He taught me how to make corndogs, and he spent 6 months in an aldea called Colotenango where he learned how to make corte! I learn a ton from him every day.

Elder Ward making corte

He is one of the harder workers I know so far in the mission, but is also really firm about how you have to enjoy yourself here, so he is super fun, and really funny. I definitely have lucked out having two gringo companions in a row as my first two companions. Not that latinos are bad, but it's a lot easier to relate to and develop a friendship in your native language with someone who had a similar life to your own. I say I'm lucky because Elder Ward has also had two gringo companions his whole mission, out of 14 companions so far... Anyway he is a super cool guy, and being his companion has been really great so far, and it's making time go by really fast as well.

This week I've basically spent the time showing Elder Ward around the area, which has been really fun, introducing him to the members here that help us out a lot, and our investigators. Elder Ward's first area in the mission was Las Rosas, which is in the zone, right next to the district Chiantla, so we keep running into people who knew him two years ago, during his training, when he couldn't speak Spanish very well which has been crazy.

Sorry about the shirt, but I couldn't resist helping a member out with his car! (stupid idea)
 Also, we got a little rain this week. Haha!

April 18, 2016

Week 19: Ch Ch Ch Changes...

So not much happened during the week in the last week, we are seeing some good progress with our investigators, which is exciting. On Sunday, we had dinner with this dude we met a few weeks back named Rudy, who worked in the states for a few years (illegally haha). While he was in the states he was living a pretty bad life: drugs, gangs, that kind of stuff. He got caught by immigration and put in jail, where he almost died. He has since quit all of the toxic things in his life, and devoted himself to his family and church. He is super hard core Evangelic. He is really cool, and even though he isn't interested in changing religions, we talked about the similarities and differences between our religions and he was very curious and supported us in what we do for our church, as well as agreed with a lot of things the church teaches. For instance, he doesn't drink coffee, he says it's like a drug and compared it (backed by experiece haha) to cocaine. He also agreee with the way we handle tithing. But yeah, he worked at Cheesecake Factory in Chicago, and told us he would make us dinner the Sunday before changes. He made us fettuccini alfredo and garlic bread... super good! I haven't had that in months, and I don't expect to get it again for a year and few, haha.

So...Changes... Sunday night we were waiting to get a call from the District Leader to tell us if we had changes or not. So the phone rings, and it's President Smith! We both died! Come to find out, Elder Van has shown excellent leadership, so he's been called to be a District Leader in one of the bigger districts in the mission that "needs some help." So yeah, Elder Van is going, which means I'm staying and recieving a new companion. To add to it, long story short, some weird stuff is going on with changes, and he had to leave this morning (Monday) at 10:30, when it would usually be tomorrow (Tuesday). So he didn't really have time to say goodbye to everyone like they usually do on P-days. We were able to visit a few families, and it was really hard for the members here, I didn't expect so much crying haha. But yeah, so he left this morning and I'm now with Elder Abreu, the District Leader here until we go to pick up our new companions tomorrow. I am kind of nervous, potentially no more English for at least the next six weeks if I get a latino comp... But I'm not too worried, I'm pretty confident in my Spanish at this point. I just might have to start pulling my dictionary out every once in a while again. I am really excited about the fact that I'll be staying in Chiantla for another change. So I will be here, in my first area, for at least 4 and 1/2 months; 6 more weeks. But yeah, sad to say 'see ya' to my trainer, he was awesome!

This is the only picture he sent this week...no explanation...trying not to read to much into it!

April 11, 2016

Week 18: A Gringo in Chilinko

Hi Everyone!

So this last week, as far as work goes, went pretty well. The family that I found with Elder Diaz hasn't been home all week, so I haven't even had a second visit with them. But we've been focusing on finding families, and we've been able to find a couple. They both are really positive and we're almost sure that one will baptize. There is also a referral we received of a girl who is engaged to a returned missionary and is not a member...they want to get married in the temple...so baptism is definitely her goal. But that one doesn't really count in my eyes. I'm more excited for the families, because it makes me happy that we were able to share the gospel with them.  

There is an aldea (small farming villages in the mountains outside of cities, that have mostly indigenous people, with indigenous dialects and practices) in the mountains above Chiantla, called Chilinko. I had the opportunity to attend church in a branch up there last Sunday. The people are really friendly, and love Elders. I went with Elder Diaz, so Elder Van wasn't with me. But a lot of the kids had never seen a gringo, so I was kind of a walking circus. They just met in a small shack with a tarp roof, and used folding chairs. There was an attendance of about 20. I helped teach the priesthood class. 

So Elder Van and I have had a running joke this last week about how someone must be playing Jumanji in our apartment. We had a bit of a fruitfly investation, followed by a spider infestation. We only have water for a few hours in the morning all of the sudden. And our showerhead blew up...so cold showers, as often as we can get them until we can figure this out. We made ceviche for lunch again today, It was really good.

Changes are next Tuesday, the 19th. There's not really a way to know if we'll be moved or not, so lots of suspense for me and Elder Van this week. We find out Sunday night.

I think I'll also make a shoutout to some members here that I am very grateful for. The Mauricio families. Leonel Mauricio is the 2nd Counselor. He has a sister, Emma Mauricio, who pretty much tries to be our mom out here. And another sister Jona Mauricio who is one of our best friends. I love all of them, they all do a ton of stuff for us all the time, and we can't possibly keep up returning the favors no matter how hard we try. I've just been very grateful for the members here this past week.

Today Jackson uploaded several pictures from the past two weeks: a few more from Easter, a scary long hanging bridge, watching the Saturday session of General Conference in English, divisions with Elder Diaz, and his second P-day trip to Mirador which includes some really great pictures of the scenery, the locals, and their livestock, plus a bonus of his menu at lunch. If you missed them here, go back and check them out on the posts from weeks 16 and 17. 

April 4, 2016


Hi Everyone!

So we had interviews on Wednesday last week. They went pretty well. As I've mentioned before, President Smith is what we call a machetero, he likes to hand out machetes (chastisements) at every chance he gets. I've heard horror stories about Elder's interviews lasting an hour, and coming out crying, after being macheted for something extremely minor. But, I am proud to say, I am more than 3 months in MACHETE FREE BABY!

We also had divisions in the last week. I stayed here, and the ZL's comp, Elder Diaz, from Honduras, who only has one more change in the field than I do, came with me in my area. It was cool. I'd consider Elder Diaz one of my better friends in the mission. He's pretty buena onda. Anyway, we were actually pretty successful, we found a family outside of the town, we taught the first lesson, and they accepted baptismal dates.

Conference was awesome. I realize that I really took it for granted back home. I should've payed attention better, haha. But I am already looking forward so much to the next one. It is such an amazing thing that we can hear modern day revelation from a prophet, and his apostles. It did also make me super baggy for a little bit though, remembering watching it at home, knowing my family was watching the same thing.

Here, there are quite a few members (probably a little less than half of them) who can watch conference from their homes. They show conference on a projector at the chapel, and its kind of a thing here to come to the chapel to watch during the Sunday session, so most of the members came for the Sunday sessions. A lot of the members work Saturdays, or watched at home, so there weren't many at the chapel on Saturday. As missionaries, we are encouraged to watch the session in English, because it is more powerful not coming through translators, even latinos are encouraged to do so if they have been studying English with their companions. Elder Van and I were able to watch it in English on Saturday, on the computer in the secretaries office. On Sunday though, it wouldn't work, because there were so many people in the building, and all of their phones connect to the wifi, and the internet frankly sucks here in the first place. 

I liked President Uchtdorf's talk during priesthood a lot, and I also like the idea of family council. It didn't seem like a suggestion either, like I think it's about Family Home Evening level of importance. As always, Elder Holland's talk was great too.

Today we went to The Mirador as a zone activity. It is a kind of monument, on a mountain peak where you can see all of Huehue, and 4 different vocanoes. It's pretty cool. But it's right above Chiantla, in my area, so Elder Van and I have already been, so it was a little boring. After that though, we all went as a zone to a place caled la Escondida steak house. I ate some super good smoked chicken.

Q&A time:

Do people have tvs at home? There's a very wide range of people here, ranging from the top, most advanced, which would be considered a little ghetto in the US; to the bottom, living in a sheet metal hut, sleeping on the dirt. The people inside the city mostly have tvs, though in the aldeas they usually don't.
How much do they use technology? Those in the city yes, in the aldeas, no.
Phones? Cell phones? Same.
Are there stray cats? Yes. 

Are there problems with mice/rats? Sometimes there are some around.
Are there wild animals in the forests? I haven't seen much wildlife besides birds, this high up at least.
Do people hunt? Not really.
Do people raise livestock? In aldeas.
Are there open air markets for grocery shopping, or more like stores? Lots of both and everything in between.
How do people buy chickens to eat, whole, live, feathers, cleaned and cut? Take your pick.
Do you have an oven? We have a couple of stove burner things that plug into the wall.
Are ovens/baked goods common? There are tons of small bakeries around, one of the things people do from their homes, and sell on the streets.
Do people even eat treats/desserts? Yes, most common is pan dulce, or sweet bread.

Changes are on the 19th of April. I'm not too worried about it. You really have no idea until you get the call from the district leader the night before changes saying whether you or your companion have changes or not. There are a few rules of thumb though. If you've only been in an area for one change, you can probably count on staying, but it's not really that uncomon to only be in an area for one change. After two changes, that's where it's up in the air. If someone goes, it will most likely be the one who has more time in the area, both companions almost never go, so if your companion has more time in the area than you, you can count on staying. Elder Van and I opened this area; sometimes people stay together longer when they open areas, so there is even a chance that we will both stay here for a third change, then one of us go the next change. 

Love you! Talk to you next week.

P.S. For lack of other stuff to say, I've been baggy for food back in the US lately, like super baggy! Also, I have some photos from this last week, but the USB port on my computer isn't working so I'll have to upload them next week. Disclaimer: all the pictures he promised were added to this post a week later. :)