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. :)