March 28, 2016

Week 16: Easter All Week

This week had kind of a slow start. I had a stomach illness on Tuesday, and was starting to get better by Wednesday morning, then by lunch that same day Elder Van was sick with the same thing. He didn't start feeling well until like Friday morning. So we didn't leave the apartment much besides for important visits we had, for short times.

It did give us a good opportunity to clean up a little bit for apartment inspections which we had on Thursday, and we passed, though we didn't have to do much because we are both pretty organized. I did get a lot of time to study, which I enjoyed, and I learned a lot. But no one can study all day straight. Staying home is pretty overrated, there's nothing to do but study. It's kind of hard not to feel a little baggy when you're left to your thoughts for too long. Haha! But, thankfully, we were able to get out of the house and work by Friday.

Here they celebrate Easter all week. The celebration is called semana santa. They decorate the whole town in religious posters and colorful banners and streamers and stuff. Most of the celebrating happens on Friday. They have parades and food all week. One cool thing they do is make cool designs on the streets from colored sawdust called alfumbras, which literally translates to rugs. Here in Chiantla, they also do a really famous reenactment of the crucifixion that people from all over come to see. Elder Van and I were going to steer clear of it, but every member here said we should go see it. So we just stopped by for a second and watched a part of it from the back of the crowd. It's a little crazy, the guy that plays Christ actually has to carry his cross, and gets whipped, and has a real thorn crown and stuff.

We have interviews with President Smith coming up this week to "look forward to." I will also be going on divisions with the district leader sometime soon. Other than that, everything else is pretty much normal. Still hot, still working hard, still eating some variation of chicken and rice almost every day, and I'm still enjoying my time here no matter what.

Thanks for everything! Love you! Talk to you next week!

March 21, 2016

Week 15: ...and I think we know who that someone is!

Hi Mom. Sorry I haven't taken any pictures in the last week, but I'll make sure to this week.

You asked about where I had to buy a suitcoat for my 6-week meeting. There are stores here called 'paccas.' Basically what happens is the clothes donated to Goodwill get sent here and given to warehouses that sell clothing by the pound in giant bundles, almost like hay bales. Paccas buy them and sell the clothes super, super cheap. There's always nice clothes for the gringos because no one else is big enough to fit in them. I couldn't go to a very big pacca to look for a suitcoat, just a small streetside one with like one room full of clothes, so it wasn't as cheap as most, but it still only cost me like 200Q (30$ I think?) I haven't had an opportunity or need to find an umbrella yet, but there are some members who will pick a good one up for me if they see one.

I don't really feel adjusted at all to this climate. It's super hot, but this is the hottest place in the mission. Yes, its really in the 70s and 80s every day. Most people in other areas of the mission leave with sweaters on in the morning...I'm looking forward to that! I haven't really noticed the humidity, and it has rained a few days in the last couple of weeks, but it's not really the season for that yet.

This area is pretty much all mountain, hiking all day, but usually paved with concrete or something. The stuff you see in the pictures is pretty much our everyday proselyting area. So people here in town build their houses out of concrete and rebar, and when they have kids or whatever, they just build another one on the side or on top. That's pretty much what makes up all of the buildings. Eventually the bottom floor front room gets turned into some sort of store that whoever is home watches, whether they sell tortillas, or work leather, or are tailors, or just like chips and soda or something. The streets are lined with them. Our apartment is like that, on the second floor. Here in Chiantla 3 floors is starting to become not too uncommon.

The soda... There are pretty much all of the same drinks down here, but they're expensive, and there's tons of off-brand alternatives. We're not allowed to drink caffeinated drinks anyway, and I can't find any diet sodas that aren't caffeinated, so I don't really drink soda. Mostly water, sometimes milk. Everybody here has those water dispensers with the giant jugs that go on top for drinking water, and they sell the jugs at most stores for like 15Q. That's how we drink our water.

I feel pretty comfortable teaching now. Sometimes I forget or don't know a word or two, but I can get my messages across and I'm told my grammar's good, I'm just still building vocab. So as far as teaching goes, I have pretty much all of the vocab I need. I haven't had to teach or talk or anything in the ward here. It's pretty big and well established, but my companion does play the piano for sacrament. Before he was here they played cds.

I've been hearing about the celebrations this coming week for awhile now. It's huuuuuuge here. Semana Santa. I'll have to send you pictures. They decorate the entire city, booths set up, all sorts of stuff all week. From what I've heard they eat pan (literally translates to bread, but they don't really have loaf bread here so they are usually referring to pan dulce, sweet bread, which is almost more toward cake.) They also call it torta. We have already been invited to 5 different houses to eat pan in the next week.

So we usually eat lunch with members every day, and take care of ourselves for the rest. And usually a couple of lunches don't happen per week. But one cool thing that has happened this week is every lunch happened, and Elder Van and I got dinner given to us 5 days in a row, not one of them planned. Like Wednesday night was ward council, and they decided to cater it with Pizza. And Thursday night we had a lesson scheduled with an investigator, and we showed up and they had dinner for us. On Friday night, one of the members here told us to come check out their restaurant that they just opened, and they gave us a bunch of food for free. (We did try to pay them.) But my point is, due to a few unforseen events, and poor planning, Elder Van and I are pretty much out of money, and I think someone knows that, and I think we know who that someone is! We definitely witness miracles, we just need to look for them.

Love you guys; hearing from you is also the highlight of my week. Can't wait until the next one.
Elder Lee

March 14, 2016

Week 14: Students of the Bible

So my companion and I have pretty much done most of what there is to do around here, so nothing new as far as pday adventures. We just played basketball and soccer with some other Elders, and ate lunch at a small place up the street.

The work is going pretty well, but we're still having a hard time finding people that are serious about listening to us. We have tons and tons of friends who love to hear what we have to say, and talk to us, and sometimes give us food, which is nice, but they don't really seem interested in acting on anything we tell them. So we're going to focus harder on finding other people who are more serious.

We did have a wave of people this week out of nowhere just stopping us on the street because they wanted to hear from us, and had questions. One dude was delivering newspapers on his bike, saw us, stopped and turned around. He asked us if we were "students of the Bible," so we said "Yeah, pretty much." He asked us if there was a God, so we talked to him for a minute and set up a visit for the next time he is available, which is in the next week.

I did have the 6 week meeting for new guys this week. I was kind of nervous for it, because our mission president is what they call around here a 'machetero', which means he likes to hand out chastisements, or 'machetes' for nothing, all the time. My zone leader made me go buy a suit, even though it's not a requirement for Central American Missions, President Smith still wants us to wear them to meetings. We had to get up at 4 in the morning to get to the meeting at 9. A 5 hour chicken bus ride is never fun, super cramped, bumpy, windy roads, crazy, fast drivers, in a hot bus... yeah. I can never escape without bruises on my knees from being smashed in the seat in front of me, but I usually can't feel it while its happening, because your legs are usually asleep for the entire way. But I'm just compaining, haha.

The meeting went well, we just discussed a whole bunch of topics out of Preach My Gospel, and I actuallly did very well. People said they were impressed with me, but I do know I still always have lots of room for improvement. I did make it out of the meeting without a 'machete,' a lot of people don't make it this far into the mission without getting one.

We then had lunch in Xela (local's nickname for Quetzaltenango), cooked by Hermana Suli. It was the usual chicken, rice, beans, the difference was rolls instead of tortillas. People were super excited that she was cooking. I guess she always cooks really great food, which she did.

So I do have a lot of crazy weeks behind me. I expect them to be for the most part a lot more tame from here on out, so any questions are welcome, and they always help me have something to talk about. :)

Always glad to hear from you, looking forward to it next week. Love You!

P.S. Almost 100 days!
Corte Shopping
In the Corte Shop
Elder Ramos' Selfie
P-day Lunch
Not P-day lunch
Elder Langsmith, Elder Lee, Elder Mailo, reunited at 6 week meeting.

Chicken Bus

Chicken Bus

And more Chicken Bus

Back to Chiantla

Auto Zone?

Packed on the Chicken Bus

Elder Van Selfie

He'll be sporting new corte ties soon!

March 7, 2016

Week 13: Thankful for that trial

Hi Everyone!

I am feeling better! The double dragon lasted into Tuesday. I think it's the sickest I've been in my life. I'm glad it didn't last too long. I'm pretty thankful for that trial, I found out that not having to leave the apratment for a couple of days isn't all it's cracked up to be...I was wishing could go out and work the entire time.

Nothing much new this week. It is the end of the change (every six weeks). Everyone in our district is staying besides the district leader, Elder Ramos. We're sad to see him go, he was super tranquilo (chill). Lots of Elders like to ask me questions about working out (I don't mind, I love talking about it.)

Elder Van is from a very active family. His older brother got back from his mission in the Dominican Republic while Elder Van was in the MTC. He's from San Diego if I remember right. He was a basketball star in highschool, had tons of colleges looking at him, but he got acceped to BYU, so he's not going to play basketball in college. By the way...His grandpa lives in Provo, and went to the drugstore sometime last week, got the Gonburger, as advised by me throught Elder Van... He loved it. But the server there didn't know who I was!!! What THE FREAK!!! So no one knew that my comps grandpa came in last week I guess. He said that the ice cream counter was spectacular.

There's a hand woven traditional fabric they make here called corte. Every aldea, (small farm/village) and city has their own varieties/patterns. I bought my first Corte today. (It is pretty expensive.) I bought enough to make a couple of ties, which is what most elders do with it.

This week we have our six week meeting so I'm going back to Xela again, not really looking forward to the hours on a chicken bus again, to be honest. But all in all, everything is still going pretty well.

As far as missionary work goes, this is actually not really much of a baptising area. People love to let us in, and hear from us, but for them, it's like their own personal sermon in their house and that's pretty much it. No one seems to be interested in going to church, converting, or those who do seem interested, won't ever keep their commitments (simple things like read the introduction to the Book of Mormon.) But anyway, the members here think Elder Van and I are super Pilas (kind of means skilled) because we actually get investigators to come to church sometimes, which is nearly unheard of. But my comp and I are starting to make progress towards a couple of baptisms, which is pretty exciting.

No photos from this week, but he sent a picture of mailing instructions to pass along. :)
Packages are very expensive, and we were encouraged by the mission president to keep them to a minimum, so let us know if you want to include something in the next package we send. 
But I'm sure letters would be welcome. Address instructions are the same either way.
Or, as always, you can easily email him.
If you read on a computer, these instructions are always on the sidebar of the blog. :)