Sorry I am sending this a day later than usual, I had to run to Guatemala City yesterday for some visa stuff, and that took the whole day, so they are letting me use email today! Thank goodness! But I don`t even know where to start, or what to start talking about! It has been such a great week and a half, I just want to let you all experience it also! But, the best I can do is send it to you guys through email, so here we go!
I`ll start with my first Sunday! It was such a great day! First things first, we went down to the chapel at 8:00, even though our meetings start at 9:00. Because the Branch President wanted to do something special. The reason is because the day before, the 15 of September, was Independence Day here in Guatemala, and he wanted to talk about Independence and relate it back to the church. So we had a flag raising ceremony, and sang the Guatemalan National Anthem (which I was completely lost on!) We also read Articles of Faith 1:12, because it shows that we as a church still believe in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law of the land. So that was the first thing we did. Then we got to start Sacrament Meeting. There aren`t that many people there, so me and Elder Maldonado had to help as much as we could! Elder Maldonado played the piano, and I helped bless the sacrament. Helping as much as we can, that is what we do as missionaries! But I really like what Dad said in his email to me, no matter where you are in the world, you can still feel the same spirit no matter where you are, and it was so true! Even though the meeting was in Spanish and I felt like I was in the middle of nowhere, I still felt the spirit! Plus, even more, the Branch President called on us Elders to give our testimonies, which I totally expected, so I wasn`t caught that much off guard! It was such a neat experience, and while I was bearing my testimony, it finally hit me: I really am a missionary! Here I am, In the middle of the wilderness in Guatemala, probably the only Gringo around for miles, and I`m giving my testimony of the church to others in a whole other part of the world who believe the same things I do! It was such a humbling experience, and I loved it! A good thing was also, was that we had an Investigator family that we went and visited the day before come to church! So that was awesome! This was their second time coming to church, and the rule is that an investigator has to come to church three times before they can be baptized, so they are one their way! One of the best parts of the day was after the meeting though. I just hung out with all the little kids there and played with them for like 30 minutes. I bet it was so weird for them to see a white boy like me around them! They are so nice though!
Which leads me to my next part. I absolutely love my area. End of story! It is one of the poorest areas in our mission, and for that I am so grateful! You know why? Because the members here don`t have that much, that are so humble that it blows my mind! We can stop by one of the member’s houses and they will drop everything that they are doing and give all of their attention to us! They are so willing to help us find others we can teach, and they want to help us with everything they can. Plus they are more than happy to feed us whenever we stop by during a meal, which is awesome!!! I was thinking about it the other day, and I came to the realization that they are richer than most of the people here in Guatemala. The reason is because they have the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is the greatest thing we can have in this life. They will be the ones who inherit the Kingdom of God, and they will be Kings and Queens of their own children in heaven, which you can`t buy with any worldly possession. Others might have the things of the world, but the people here have the things of the heavens, which cannot be compared to or bought!
I want to tell you a little bit about our investigators. We have two main families that we are teaching as of now. The first one is called the Pu Imul family. They are the family that I told you about last week that only speak Quiche. The Dad, Santiago, and the kids are all really interested in our message. The thing is, that they are really poor and live a far way away from the chapel, that it is really hard for them to come to church. So that is the reason they aren`t coming to church. Also another hard thing is the Wife. Well, technically I can`t call them that, because they aren`t married. That is a huge problem for us, because they can`t be baptized unless they get married, and it is going to be really hard for them to do that, because they would have to travel. So as of now, we are working on getting them to come to church and really focusing on the children, because they have the chance to be baptized! So that is the deal with them.
The other family is the Pu Mejìa family. They are a part member family, which means that the Dad, Antonio, is a new member, but the rest of the family aren`t members. But! We have dates for the Mom and one of the kids! They are planning on being baptized on this Friday, so like in three days! They are ready, and they came to church this week too, so they have all the qualifications for baptism! I am so excited! But, I am a little bummed, because we had a date planned for one more kid, but he got sick and didn`t make it to church, so he has to attend one more time before he can get baptized! But we are really making progress on them! I love this family so much, and I can`t wait for them to accept the gospel fully!
Another big thing we had this week is we had like a neighborhood activity on Saturday, and it actually was a huge turnout! We had about 80 people turn up, about 25 of which weren`t members! So that is awesome! We watched the movie "Joseph Smith: The Prophet of the Restoration", and they were all interested in it! To add to it, Santiago Pu Imul and one of his kids showed up too! So that was really good news for us! All the people there really enjoyed it, and I feel like it really helped this area a lot to do that!
So yeah, these are the major points that have gone on so far! So now I`ll answer some of the questions Mom asked me, so you all can know about where I am living!
1. My house, or shack as I call it. It looked really bad at first, but I`ve grown to love it. I don`t know how you all would do in it, but I`m loving it! It is really small, but it has things we need, so Ï can`t complain!
2. Not dirt floors thank goodness! They are straight concrete, because our house is a concrete slab with bricks around it and a tin roof. So thankfully no dirt!
3. We have running water, but it is so contaminated that we cant drink it. We have a showerhead, so that’s nice, even if the water isn`t warm. We also have this thing called a pila outside, where we wash our dishes and do all of our main things with water.
4. Clothes are doing nice, we just washed them for the first time. And it was so fun, because we did it in the pila with a washboard, so a lot different from a machine! The shoes are holding up nice too. I`m airing them out for sure, but I am mainly using my boots here, because it is a lot of hiking. So I really am trying to take care of my things, because I need them for 2 years!
5. The bandanna is so useful! Now so much for the dirt, but for my sweat! It is really humid here, so I start sweating pretty easily, so I can wipe it all off with the bandanna! So grateful I brought it!
6. It is rainy season for another month still, but we don`t have to worry about it much in my area. It only rains at nights and very occasionally in the day.
7. I`m making do with the food, it is a lot of tortillas, soup, rice and beans. Crazy thing is, I actually am loving the refried beans here. I know I said I would never eat them, but now I find myself craving them! Weird! Also, there are little tiendas all over, which are little family owned shops, and there we buy pure water, which is water in a bag. So I have been drinking water out of a bag for two weeks now!
8. The Spanish is definitely coming, I can hold my own in a conversation now, although there are still a few words that I don`t know. But I still have to work hard at it, and really focus. But when I put it into perspective and see that I have only been 2 weeks out in the field, I say I am doing pretty good. That doesn`t mean I have to stop working though! Plus, I’ve learned a few words in Quiche, which is fun! I really want to learn it, but I have to focus on Spanish first, so no Quiche yet!
Sounds like you all are having a blast back at home. I`m not gonna lie, I miss you all like crazy, but whenever I start to feel homesick, I think of the families I am teaching, and I just want to devote as much time as I can to help them! I really love hearing all about home, and all you are doing back in a normal life! Thank you for continuing to send emails, I love looking forward to reading them each P-Day! Keep having a blast, and I will let you know more about my life in the coming week! Until Next Time!
P.S. I am going to start sending a scripture home each week that I really like, so here is the first one! D+C 128:22! A really good one about missionary work!