Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Finally a Real Missionary!

Hello Family!!!  I am writing you my first letter as an actual missionary!  It is so exciting!  I am so excited that I am finally in the field now, I can`t even describe it!  Well first things first, we had to get to Quetzaltenango, or Xela as they all call it here. So all of us going to Quetzaltenango got on a shuttle bus at around 8 in the morning, and said goodbye to the CCM in Guatemala City!  
We took a 4 1/2 hour bus drive to Quetzaltenango, and it was such a beautiful drive!  While going down the roads, I kept thinking of the Nepali Coast in Italy, except without the water.  It was a bunch of winding roads, and straight countryside.  It was so beautiful, and it really showed me the beauty of the Guatemalan countryside.  Well, we finally got to Xela, and it was awesome!  It looked a lot like Guatemala City, but it was a little smaller and had a little more of a country feel to it.  Unfortunately, we didn`t get to drive past the brand new temple here, that would have been cool, but you can`t have everything, right?  
We got to the mission home pretty quickly.  Little did I know that I was saying goodbye to what I knew as transportation, you`ll see in a little bit.  Waiting out front were President and Sister Bautista, and they are some of the nicest people I have ever met!  They took our luggage and everything, and took us into their little fenced off area.  The house was really nice!  They had a lawn, which is really rare here, a nice basketball hoop, and just a really clean looking house.  It was a nice break from the dirtiness and the filthiness from the rest of the city.  They sat us down on some picnic tables out front, and they ordered us pizza from pizza hut, so it turns out that my first meal in Quetzaltenango was Pizza Hut.  Go figure, right?  And another strange thing about the meal, we had to drink water out of a bag, so that we knew it was pure.  They said to get used to it, because that is what we are going to be drinking out of for the next two years!!  
So while we ate, they gave their little welcome speech, and all that jazz.  They really just made us feel really comfortable here, and really said how great this mission really is.  And I believe them!!  It is awesome here!  After they were done introducing themselves and making us feel welcome, they put on a slideshow video showing all of the areas of the mission.  During it, they did the President`s interviews, which didn`t take that long.  I was really grateful for it though, because it really made me feel like they want to know each and every one of us and want us all to succeed.  
When we were all done with that, all of our trainers arrived!  We talked with them for a little bit, but then President Bautista sat us down and started to give us our trainers.  My trainer and first companion in the mission field is Elder Maldonado.  He is from Mexico, and is a really funny and talkative guy.  He really knows what he is doing, and we are doing great!  
So after all that, they sent us out on our way.  We are assigned to the Pancà area in the Momostenango area.  I am fairly certain that Pancà will not appear on Google Maps, but the City of Momostenango will.  So me and my companion started walking in the city of Quetzaltenango to a place they call the "Terminal."  I was a little confused at first, but when I got there, I could completely see why.  It was a little square just packed full of buses going every which way.  So we, or I should say my companion, found a bus headed to Momos, and we got on with our luggage and everything.  
Now this is the bus that Dad was talking to me about in his letter to me.  Lucky for us, we got on fairly early, so we got window seats.  But as we went along we kept picking up people, and before I knew it, the bus was full.  Now when I say full, I don`t mean two to a seat full, I mean three to a seat, with people as squished as they could get in the aisle.  I felt like I was riding a fire hazard all the way from Xela to Momos.  And to add to it all, it was a three hour bus ride.  Best I get used to it as soon as I can!  
When we got to Momos, it was about 8 at night, so it was too dark to get exactly to our area, so we stayed the night at our Zone Leader`s house in the city.  So on Wednesday morning, we got up at 6 and took all of our luggage to a truck, like a regular Toyota truck.  We put all of our stuff in the back, jumped in the back, and prepared for an hour and a half drive to our area of Pancà.  It was probably one of the best ways I could think of to get to my first area in the mission.  So we drove through the middle of nowhere for about an hour, and then all of a sudden, we saw a LDS chapel, pretty much in the middle of nowhere.  They stopped, and we got off there.  And when I say the middle of nowhere, I really mean it.  
We had to haul our luggage up a hill, and we happened upon a little shack that I have now learned to call my home.  It is about as little and as dirty as you can call a home, but I have learned to do just that.  After we got inside and done unpacking and everything, we met with the branch president and he showed us around the chapel, and then we walked to his house and talked for a while.  We got a couple of references and names of people that we could go visit, so we did just that.  We went around the first day, just trying to find members and references that we could get.  Here, it really feels like I am out on a camping trip, because all the roads are dirt, and we have to take little paths to get to other houses.  We did that for most of the day, and little did we know that it gets dark here really fast, and to add to it, there are no street lights in Pancà, so the first night, we had to travel through dirt roads and paths in pitch black darkness.  It took us a while, but we finally got back to our house.  It was a really tiring first day!  
Little did I know the next day was going to be even harder!  We woke up and everything, got all prepared for the day, and headed out.  We decided to go visit this family that the branch president had told us about first thing.  Good thing we did it first thing, because it took about the whole day!  It was a good hour and a half hike (yes hike, not walk) to get to the house.  Luckily we had a member show us the way to get there.  And it turns out that we needed him a lot more than we thought. When we got to the house, much to our surprise, not one of the 8 family members spoke Spanish, they all spoke Quiche!  The member that we brought with us could speak both Spanish and Quiche, so we had to use him as a translator.  Needless to say, it was a very interesting first lesson that I got to teach!  It was so cool, because I could bear my testimony about the church in Spanish, and I could feel them understand me, not because of the words I was saying, but because of the spirit. I was so grateful for the experience!  
I am going to have to stop my email here, because we have to go get ready for our multi-zone conference tomorrow, but I will finish up the rest of my week in my next email.  I wasn`t too prepared for this P day, because I forgot to bring my camera cords, so no pictures this week.  But next week I will be sure to send all the pictures that I can!  I love each and every one of you, and I hope that you are doing all that you guys can to have the time of your lives!  Sounds like all of you are busy living your lives, just like I am.  I love what I am doing right now, and I can`t wait to do it for the next two years!  I have a great testimony of this church, and I know that this work is so important to everyone.  Thank you all for your support, and I will talk to you all next week!  
Until Next Time!!!  
Elder Stuart.  

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