Monday, July 21, 2014


San Francisco el Alto.  What an amazing place.

Playing with some little kids!

Market Day in San Francisco.  Guys, this place goes crazy on Fridays.  It´s ridiculous.

Not only do they sell clothes, food, and the normal stuff in the market.. They have a special place reserved for animals!  Cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys, rabbits, everything!  It´s crazy!

Little pigs!  Man were they noisy!

Walking through the market.

Going to a member´s house, we have to cross a bridge with a beautiful view.  And this is the view we get from up high!

The difference between my shoes and the shoes of Elder Jerez...

San Francisco on Sunday mornings...  It´s a ghost town, seriously.  What people do here is Monday and Tuesday, they prepare everything to sell.  On Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, they work hard, sell a lot of stuff, and get money.  And then on Saturday and Sunday, everyone either travels, or just stays in their houses.  Que dichoso!

Eating dinner with some members!

The Beginning of a New Mission

     Hello Family!  Well, here we are...  I really can´t believe that I´m already done.  Time has gone by way too fast.  I don´t even know where to start.  I have so many emotions going through my mind right now, I couldn´t even try to explain everything over email.  I will tell you all one thing though, ending the mission is really hard.  After being so close to the Spirit, having so many spiritual experiences, having the chance to share the Gospel every moment of every day, getting to know the great people here in Guatemala...  It´s hard.  But it happens to every one of us, así que I´ve got to do it.

    Don´t get me wrong, I´m really excited to see everyone of you guys again!  But after being two years straight as a missionary, if I take a while to get a little readjusted to real life, you´ll probably realize why.   

     The mission overall has been amazing.  It wasn´t exactly like I expected, but it was so much better.  I have learned so much about how to be a better man in life, and that is experience that is invaluable for me.  Humility, knowledge, love, and so much more.  All these things I have learned in the mission, and I am ready to put it all into practice when I get home.

     One thing that I will really miss about this place are the people here.  I would have never guessed how much these people would have affected me before the mission.  But they have.  I love them so much, and have learned so much from them.  These people that sacrifice so much will always hold a place in my heart, and if I ever have the chance, I will do everything I can to make their lives better!  I feel great that I have been doing it for the last two years, and I hope that the people that have touched my life will always remember that. 

    There are so many habits that I have gained in the mission that I want to take home with me, especially my time in the morning.  Preparation, study, exercise, and all that I hope to keep up after the mission.  Things just go so much better when you start off your day on the right foot, and from what I´ve seen here, that is the way to do it.

     Also, just doing the little things while going about my business is something that I want to keep up.  Stuff like helping a man collect wood on the side of the road, washing dishes after eating, giving a helping hand, just stuff like that.  Little acts of service, little acts of love is what I´m getting at.  If we can all just follow the example of Christ, where He didn´t mind getting held back a little bit just to help someone, we will be better people.  Love the world, and the world will love you back.

     But more than everything, the thing I´ve most gained from the mission is my personal relationship with my Savior, Jesus Christ.  It is something that I really can´t explain with words, but I know with all my soul.  He is my Redeemer, and has made everything that I ever have done, everything that I am doing, and everything that I ever will do possible.  I will be forever grateful for His sacrifice.  It only makes sense in my mind to give everything that I have in order to thank Him for everything.

     I had my final interview with President Smith on Thursday, and man was that great.  We talked a lot about my goals after my mission, and what I should do to get going as soon as possible.  But at the end, we started talking about knowing for sure in the Lord has accepted our sacrifice.  And in a way only the Spirit can work, and with the help of President Smith, I knew that the Lord accepted my work.  And I am so grateful for that confirmation.  Of course, I wasn´t perfect, but I know that I gave it my all, and better yet, I know that the Lord is pleased.  That final interview has been one of the highlights of my mission.

     Whew...  I really don´t know what to think right now.  My thoughts have just been going crazy, so if this email seems really jumbled, that´s why.

     Being here in Guatemala, sharing my testimonio daily, has strengthened my testimony is ways that I can´t even explain.  I´ve always had a testimony about this church, but now I know without a doubt that what I have been doing the last two years is in the Lord´s hands.  This is His church.  There is no doubt in my mind whatsoever.  It just makes sense to me.  Jesus is the Christ, and He is at the head of this church.  Now, that´s not everything I need.  I need to act on the knowledge I´ve gained.  It means nothing to me to know all this, and do nothing about it.  Now is the time in my life to act, and I´m ready to do it.  

     I can´t thank all of you enough for all the support you have all given me throughout my mission.  It really has meant so much to me.  Thank you all so much.  For those of you out on the mission, don´t worry, I´ll write.  I promise, because I know how it is.  Thank you all for getting me here to where I am now.  I love you all so much.  

    "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:  Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day:  and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing."  2 Timothy 4:7-8.  Until next time!  (On Thursday!)

     - Elder Stuart

Sunday, July 20, 2014


On Monday we locked ourselves out of our house...  And this is a picture of me after climbing over a gate, and making my way to a second story window to get the keys...

I went on divisions to an area called Tierra Blanca, and the view there is absolutely amazing.  Just a pure view of the mountains of Guatemala.

The chapel in Tierra Blanca.

A view of a classic traveling bus in Guatemala.  (Although this one was kind of empty...)

The group of us that are going home at the temple!

A photo of our area.  See those houses on the other side of the valley?  That´s where we were going!

Another view of Guatemala.  I will never get over the beauty of this country.

These are most of the ties I currently have in my possesion.  And just remember that I started the mission with 6 ties...

The cookies that we made for the baptism!

Paloma at her baptism!  

Paloma with the family that helped us out a ton!

2 Years Out!

     Hello Family!  Man, what an amazing week this week.  I´m so blessed to be finishing my mission like this, feeling like one of the happiest missionaries in the world!  I was kind of scared about getting so close to the end, but then one of my friends gave me the advice to just continue on like any other week in the mission, and it would be great.  And it has!  I love the mission so much, and I`m going to take advantage of the little time that I have left.

     Well, the best part of the week:  Paloma was baptized on Saturday!  And man, what a special baptismal service we had.  We put a lot of effort in making it really memorable, and although we were really tired Saturday night, it was all worth it.  She is going to be one of the best members here in San Francisco, and I won`t be surprised if she goes on a mission as soon as she turns 19.  (Which is in about a year and a half)  She was so happy in the baptism, and that means that we all were too. :)

     To make the baptism something really special, we spent all week getting everything ready, and setting everything up on Saturday.  I can dare say that this was one of the best prepared baptisms I`ve had.  We filled and heated up the water, baked cookies in the morning, cleaned the chapel, bought everything necesary, and just basically got everything ready.  And all the members loved it.  We had about 50 people in the baptism, which was a lot more than we expected!  And at the moment of the actual ordinance, the spirit was so strong.  Amazing.  After everything, we just felt so good and spiritual.  This probably will be my last baptism in the mission, and I couldn`t have asked for anything better.

     We found some really special investigators this week.  Cata and her daughter, Santa.  They`ve had some problems lately, with a divorce, financial problems, health, anything you can think of.  But I can`t imagine a happier little family.  They have so little of what the world regards as important, but they don`t let it bother them.  It breaks my heart to see them struggling so much, yet they always find a way to make some food for us, or give us something to remember them by.  But that`s just how they are.  I hope that I can be so loving like they are.  They are also progressing really nicely!  They came to the baptism on Saturday, and are looking forward to our cita with them on Tuesday!  

     We went to the temple again. :)  The temple closed down this week for maintenence, and will be closed until after I leave, so my group went to the temple for the last time!  And while inside, I just felt such a confirmation that what I have given the Lord these last two years have been worth it.  I know He has accepted my sacrifice.  And I will be forever grateful to Him for the opportunity He gave me to serve a mission, especially here in Guatemala.  The temple is such an amazing place, and I can`t wait to be able to go whenever I want!

      Last Friday I hit two years in the mission.  Can you all just think of how long that is?  That is two amazing years of straight up missionary work.  Non-stop.  It`s been amazing, but surprising that it`s all coming to a close so quickly.   I find myself thinking about past experiences in the mission, and realize that it`s true:  These really are "The Best Two Years" as everyone says.  I couldn`t trade this time for anything, and I keep thinking what a privilage it has been to be a missionary.

     Well, as of now my last full week in the mission is about to begin, and I´m set to be one of those missionaries that works until the very end.  It´s the least I can do with all the blessings that I have received while being here, right?  Right.  So here´s to an amazing last week in the mission!  Until next time!

     - Elder Stuart

     P.S. Alma 29:9

Sunday, July 13, 2014


Just you´re classic view in San Francisco el Alto.  Someone working on the mountain side taking care of their corn fields, with a waterfall in the mountain on the other side of the valley.  So beautiful.

We helped Luis and Marleni make a drawing of some ruins for their kids.  So Elder Jerez and I drew this up in about 20 minutes.  And I really like how it turned out!

This is what happens when the World Cup is going on.  Almost everyone inside their houses watching soccer, and the people that are in the street watching it as they pass by.  I´m going to make a collage of pictures that I have of "Things people do because of the World Cup."

Cooking dinner on a fire stove (what do you call these things?  It´s plancha in spanish...  But I don´t know what it is in english...)  while repping my american flag tie.

As we were cooking dinner, this bugger just crawls out of the stove.  No big deal.

Walking home at night.  That´s what I love about this place, is you can have roads in the middle of a bunch of trees, basically in the middle of nowhere!

Working in the corn fields with a less active member!

 If I ever decide to live in San Francisco el Alto, this will be the place where I put my house.

 After church with some members.  Luis is the one right next to me. (Man, I look really fat in this picutre... nevermind that...)

Just some more of the beauty of Guatemala.

Happy Independence Day!!!

     Hello Family!  And Happy Birthday America!  What a beautiful place we have to live!  After being in Guatemala for just about 2 years (I love the place, don´t get me wrong...), I´ve really come to appreciate how much I love the good old United States of America.  There really is no other place like it.  We have so much to be grateful for, all the rights that we have, and we really need to realize how much that really affects us.  ´Murica.

     Alright, things are going smoothly in San Francisco el Alto.  First things first, with Paloma.  Man she is just so great.  We were thinking of the best way to put a fecha with her.  Now, it´s some scary business to just let an investigator choose their baptismal date, but when we thought about doing it, we felt the confirmation that it was the right thing to do.  So we went with her, and she had told us a little bit about being baptized on the 12th.  When we asked her to choose a date, she said, "I know that the 12th is the date for me!"  Wow, we were so relieved that she didn´t put a fecha for like months in the future!  She is so ready, so we are going to make the 12th a really special day for her.

     I want to tell you guys a little bit about an investigator named Luis.  He is the husband of a less active member in the ward.  He has visited with the missionaries for so long now, no one even knows when they started to go with him.  But, we´ve lograred some really good progress with him!  We´ve got a different kind of confidence with him.  With all the other missionaries, they told us they were really good friends, but just that.  But I feel like we´ve established a relationship with them that shows that although we are really good friends with the family, we are there because we want to help them progress spiritually.  And it´s working!  They came to church this week in who knows how long!  It really was a miracle.  All the members were excited to see Marleni (The less active wife), and even more stunned to see Luis come to church!

     And that´s not all!  Wow, I still really can´t believe it!  In Gospel Principles class, we were learning about the scriptures.  (We were teaching the class)  So we divided the class into groups, and had them explain about the scriptures.  Luis, Marleni, and another member we assigned to teach about the BoM.  When it was their turn to talk, Marleni gave a powerful testimony about the BoM, regardless of not having gone to church in years.  And then Luis stood up, and invited the whole class to read the BoM, because it is really important for all of us.  Elder Jerez and I were just sitting there with our jaws on the floor listening to him.  We are progressing with them really well. :)

     This week we had a Multi-Zone conference in Momos; basically the get-to-know-you for President Smith and the missionaries.  But it was a great conference.  In the mission, Momos and San Francisco are generally accepted as the hardest zones in the mission.  But when President Smith talked to us, he said something really awesome.  Something along the lines of: "When we are in the most dificult moments of our lives, that is the time where we really learn to grow and depend on the Lord.  Don´t ever lose hope, even when everything looks to be going wrong.  That will happen, especially here in these Zones.  But if you always look to the Lord, and search for ways to grow, you will leave these areas as better, more mature, and more confident missionaries.  I guarentee it."  And I know that it is true, because I´ve seen it in my mission.

     I´ve decided to really deep study PMG before I get back, and I´m learning so much, even with almost 2 years in the mission.  Which just reminds me always that there is never a point where we are going to know everything, where we are going to be perfect in something.  There will ALWAYS be something to better.  There will always be room for some improvement.  But if we just think, "I doing it good enough, I´m good,"  we´re done.  But if we always think that there is something better we can do, we will do it.  There is always room for improvement.

     Something that I´ve realized as of late.  Dad has been talking about this recently, but I like it a lot.  We never have to feel like we don´t belong, or that people around us are better than us. Each one of us has something special, and we can always do something the Lord has called us to do.  Dad shared with me this quote from Tiger Woods: "There may be a lot of players out there that are more talented than I, but none will out work me."  And it´s true.  In a missionary´s eyes, maybe there are other missionaries that are better than teaching, or better at making people love them, or better at organizing things, etc.  But if we work our hardest, and give it our all, we are the best in the Lord´s eyes.  We have to give it our all.  Omni 1:26 (our whole souls).

     If you have made it this far, I commend you.  I just have a lot to write recently... ;)

     Guys, I´m learning so much.  This last change has taught me so much, I can´t even believe it.  The decision to bring me here to San Francisco was really an inspired one.  I could have ended my mission in Huehue fine, probably with more baptisms, but the Lord wanted me to come here to San Fran to learn so much about how to be a man, and advance in life.

     On Friday, I walked around with an american flag tie.  Without shame or anything.  I love my country.  All the people were looking at my tie, and some even commented on it!  Wearing those stripes and bars with pride!

     We came down to Xela today, so I aprovechared my tiempo buying some souveniers for home!  The best part of buying stuff here for me is definitely bartering to lower the price.  I just find it as a game, to see who can best sweet talk the other.  It´s so much fun, and I´m super bummed that I won´t be able to do that in the States... Could you imagine?  Going to Costco or something, and when I go to the cashier, I start saying, "Can I get this for 3 dollars instead of 5?"  I just thought about it, and it made me laugh!  

     Wow, I think I´m done.  I hit two years this week on Friday.  July 11th, 2014.  That date seemed so far away when I started, and now we are here.  It´s crazy how fast the time crept up on us.  But that life I guess.  We´ve got a limited amount of time to do what we need to do, and when the time is up, we´ve got to be happy with what we did.  If we gave it our all, there will be no regrets...

     I love you all so much.  Thank you for always writing me, supporting me, loving me, and all that jazz.  I know I couldn´t have gotten here without all of you.  I love each and every one of you so much.  But, even more than that, I love this Gospel.  It has brought a wonderful change in my life, and I hope that it will never go away.  Jesus Christ is my Savior, and He loves me so much.  He is always there for me, and for everyone who looks for him.  Until next time!

     - Elder Stuart

     P.S. DyC 20:31

Sunday, July 6, 2014


This is a way the people here grind up corn.  Just crushing it on a good old rock.  So of course I had to try it out!

A cake we made for some investigators!  It turned out really well!

We went to the temple this week!  We reached our goal as a Zone to go, and it was so great.  So needed.  I can´t wait to go to the temple as often as I want!

The little baby of Margarita when we went to go make dinner for them.  So cute!  

Some of the cutest Guatemalan kids ever.  Seriously.  I want my kids to be just like them!

We made hamburgers for the 1st counselor in the Stake, and he loved it!  He was so happy, and it was really special for us to see him like that.

Just more of Guatemala!  Man I love this country so much!

The family of Becker and Alvin!

Oh my goodness, this was so funny.  So it was a less actives birthday on Sunday, so we made a cake for her.  Well, the tradition here is that after they blow out the candles, the take a bite, and someone shoves their face into the cake.  Not too much, just to cover up the mouth.  The thing is, this member was being dificult, and didn´t want us to push her into the cake!  So we all tried shoving her head in, me using my both hands, and this is what happened....  JAJAJAJAJA!  We were all laughing so hard!

This Week in San Francisco el Alto!

     Hello Family!  And here we are, yet another wonderful week having passed by.  I hope that you all enjoyed your week!  Recently I´ve just been realizing that we really need to pay attention to all the blessings that we have daily.  Even when times are hard, God is still there blessing us always.  We just need to open our eyes and know that He is there.  Go look for Him if you guys are feeling down! :)

     Things are going good here in San Francisco.  We are still working with Paloma, and now my goal is just to make sure that she gets baptized before I leave.  She´s amazing, probably more pilas than some of the members here.  It´s just hard for her to take a decision, and that´s why we are here.  She´s been thinking about being baptized on the 12th, so we are going to work with that, and make sure that it happens.  But the good is that when she does get baptized, she will stay strong in the Gospel, which is exactly what this ward needs.

     Alejandrina is still going strong too.  She couldn´t come to church this week because of work issues, but she´s still positive, and we are planning to put a fecha with her.  She´s accepting the Gospel very well, so that´s really good.  We just need to have a really spiritual lesson with her, and we should be good.

    Something really cool about Alejandrina is that she lives in a little village outside of San Fran called Tierra Colorada.  Well, the first counselor of the Relief Society lives out there, named Margarita.  Without us even knowing, she went to go look for Alejandrina to take her to church!  How awesome is that?  She is just so willing to help us out, and she did it without us needing to tell her! I love the humble people of Guatemala, because they are just so personable, and love everyone!

     We have been visiting a family for a while, and they have had some problems recently..  But, on Saturday, we felt really impressed to go with them, even though we didn´t have it planned.  So we went, and as soon as we got there, the husband came to the door with a backpack on.  He basically said that he wasn´t going to be home, and then left.  So then Margarita, the wife, came to the door.  We asked her what happened, and if there was something we could do.  She just started to cry and said, "Come in."  Turns out that they got in a fight, and he left her now.  We don´t know how long, but he´s still not back...  But they had a really big need, because they had no food.  So we went to our house, got some beans and eggs, and cooked dinner for her and her two little boys.  But imagine what would have happened if we didn´t get there right at that time.  She needed some help, and we were there for her.  Many times while we were there, she kept saying, "You both are just angels."  It was really special.

     Also on Saturday, I got to go back to Colonia, my last area!  Remember Becker and Alvin?  We had put fechas with them right before I left the area.  But on Saturday they were baptized, and Becker wanted me to go and baptize him!  I really didn´t expect that, until the assistants called me on Friday and let me know!  Man it was really special.  I just loved going back to good old Colonia, and seeing everyone there.  But more important, I just was so touched that a 15-year-old boy in Guatemala wanted me to do something so special for him.  Wow, it was pretty amazing.

     Guys, the Spirit is so important in this work.  I´ve realized that so much recently.  Now that I have a lot of time in the mission, I know how to teach with good examples and all that.  But sometimes that makes me fall into the trap of trying to rely too much on my own abilities.  But we cannot do that!  The Spirit is the real teacher in this work, and if we impede that, we are lost.  At all points in our lives, we need to rely on the Spirit.

     We just got a new mission president this week!  President Smith is my new mission president.  We just had a leaders meeting with him today, and he is really cool.  Really spiritual too.  Too bad that I won´t be here to see some of his new ideas come into play, but I know that he will be a great addition to the mission.  

    I learned a lot from President Bautista too, and I can´t thank him enough for everything that he did for me.  He really helped me in the mission to get to where I am right now.  I´m so grateful for the opportunity that I had to serve with him!

    I´m doing everything that I can to finish strong!  I´m so close, so that just means I just need to work that much harder!  Let´s to this!  Until next time!

     - Elder Stuart

     P.S. 2 Nefi 2:21


We found some shoes in a paca one day.  My shoe is the black on next to them.  Yeah, I´m pretty sure that not one chapín is going to buy these shoes...

We made cupcakes with a part-member family for Father´s Day, which is on the 17th of June.  Liz, you would be so proud!  Jaja

I did divisions in Santa Ana, an aldea in Momos this week.  And I just love the little kids here in Guatemala!  I take out my camera, and they all say, "Take a picture!  Take a picture!"  Jaja I love them.

A view of Santa Ana.  The whole area looks like this, and I love it!

We had a ward activity on Saturday, and this was everyone eating afterwards.  The Ward here is pretty small, but they are really united, which is really a miracle!  I love these people so much!

Just another beautiful Guatemalan Sunset.  I don´t know why, but I think the corn stalks make the scenery, or is it just me?  

We went to go visit an aldea named Chuichaj where some menos activos live.  It´s pretty far away.  To give you all an idea, we had been walking for about 45 minutes when we took this picture.  The city that is in my hand?  That´s San Francisco.  And we needed to walk there...  Yeah, that´s how this part of Guatemala is!

Man, I totally forgot to tell you guys what happened today!  There was a strike here in San Francisco!  Apparently the government is planning to tear down some of the forest here to build a mine.  And the people are upset, so they striked today.  They didn´t let any transportation go by, and incluso they robbed a pepsi truck by force!  So it was advised that we not leave the house... But we got hungry.  So we went to a tienda (a mini store) that a member owns, but we shut the door so no one would know we were inside!  Jaja it was kind of scary, because people were walking down the street with machetes and such.  But it sure was interesting!