Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Week 5:The gift of tongues is real and the Church is true!

I would be lying if I said that this week was as uneventful as the last. I would also be lying if I told you that I can`t speak a lick of Spanish.
...or at least, the spirit can... This week I gained a testimony of the power of the gift of tongues. Let me set the stage for you: It`s Saturday evening and my district is doing an exercise on finding the investigator`s needs and helping them to work through their problems. It was missionary teaching missionary and I was up to bat first. As I spoke, the words came naturally albeit the elementary knowledge I have of the language as a whole. When I knew I was on the right track to discovering my investigator (Elder Barlow, a football player from Sandy Utah)`s needs I could spout off Spanish like a fire-hose...but when I started to go off on irrelevant tangents it was like I wasn`t physically able to say the words. The lesson went awesome and I was able to decipher that his problem was around the topic of us having Latter Day Prophets.
So that`s a thing! The gift of tongues is real and the Church is true!

What else...oh!
Every Sunday during sacrament meeting at the CCM they choose people at random to give talks during the meeting. Everyone prepares a talk on the same topic but only a handful actually have to give it...it`s like Russian Roulette for Missionaries. So there I was, sitting in my seat trying to act as invisible as humanly possible. In the 20 minutes before church started I had scraped together a fairly bare-bones talk on Repentance with a few scriptures and some jokes in Spanish sprinkled in. I had been successful in evading any opportunity to speak in the meetings previously but this time....alas...after we sang the intermediate Hymn the Branch President stood up and announced that we would be pleased to hear from Elder Monson.
Once again, my testimony of the gift of tongues was strengthened tenfold!

And last but not least, I got to see the City this week. And not just to Wal-Mart and back again, last Tuesday all the nortemericanos in the CCM trekked to the heart of the city, to Zone 1. Before anything we were privileged to see a 99% accurate topographical (I think that`s the word for it....) map of the entire country and President Nicoliason explained to us the speculative significance of each part of the country according to Book of Mormon history. The most accepted theory is that Guatemala is the setting for which the events of the Book of Mormon take place. Later on in the week I went through my Book of Mormon and highlighted every time it said that the Gospel would be taken to the Lamanites...because that`s what I get to do!

After the map we were taken to a market full of touristy things, it was a place where you could get anything you wanted for...pretty much any price you want if you know how to barter correctly. it felt like a Labrynth with shops at every possible outlet and a food market down stairs (going down there was the single strangest experience of my life...it was like I was in a dream...but with a lot of food I wasn´t allowed to eat)...And when it came time to return to the bus I really felt like I had gotten a taste of the culture...but sadly, not a taste of the fantastic looking food.

And that´s about it for today! I´m not sure when I`m going to be able to write next week because I leave the CCM Tuesday morning!

....so that´s both terrifying and exciting...

Elder Tyler Monson


Monday, August 19, 2013

Week 4: Construction and Combustion

To say this week was slow would be...
...well, it would be an understatement.

I mean, not much happened besides having my room flooded, hearing a bomb go off and running from the temple during a flash flood.

Yeah, I owe an explanation after that.

The CCM of Guatemala has been under construction since December of last year, it´s a 9-month long complete overhaul of the entire interior. In due time the rooms will be nicer, the classrooms updated and the bathrooms....will in working condition. But our group of missionaries are the ones that get to suffer through all the construction and reap none of the benefits. Case in point: Elder Long and I walk into our room on Wednesday afternoon and see a thin sheen of water glazing the tile floor. During the process of remodeling the third floor the construction workers accidentally took out one of the pipes, unfortunately, this pipe was directly above my top-bunk bed. My brand new mattress had to be traded for a...less brand-new one, but other than that, the extent of the damage was less-devastating than it could have been.
That being said, here´s the bombshell for the week...in a very literal sense. There´s not enough room at the CCM for our district to have classes with all the construction going on. So we walk a good quarter mile to a nearby chapel every day, it sounds bad but its actually quite nice! Anyways, we were studying the Book of Mormon outside just before lunch, (2nd Nephi Chapter 33, it´s a great one) and we hear a loud *crack*. Everyone is intrigued by this noise, ¨was that a gunshot?¨ one of the hermanas ask. Our teacher´s response was, oh no, it was just a bomb...¨
I dont know if that´s a normal thing around here but....
Finally, there has been a great deal of rain this week! Almost every day there´s a flash flood smack dab in the middle of our deportees (exercise/sports) time...keeping us underneath the tin roof using the machines to get our daily fix of physical exertion....elliptical machines are only so fun for so long. When it´s actually nice weather outside, the fan-favorite game is Volleyball, although our group is so good at the game, we have lost 4 balls over the 30-foot tall chain link fence...and I guess the locals think we´re too loud or something because nobody has given us the ball back...
That´s the week in review for all of you!
Tune in next week, same time, same channel!

Elder Tyler Monson

In a letter to his family he shared this:

As far as tie trading goes? I am the master at it! I have so many great ties now and only had to give up two of the ones I came here with (Schauber´s and the Green tie) The Tie trade is a huge deal here, every Friday night the hallway turns into a market and people start trading it up!

The language is COMING! The lord is blessing me with the gift of tongues! The days feel long in the moment, but when I blink its Sunday again...weird. We had worldwide MTC devotional on Tuesday  night with Elder Scott...it was really cool! We watched it live and his message was incredible! He talked about the power of meaningful prayer and even though he was 3000 miles away you could feel the spirit that he brought!
2nd Nephi 31 is FANTASTIC! Love those scriptures. Right now I´m reading in Alma and just read about Ammon and the sons of mosiah. But what really stuck out to me this time around was the example Abish sets! She was already a believer before Ammon came and when she saw everyone had fallen to the ground she didn´t hesitate to tell everyone about the sweet word of the gospel! Such a great example for us missionaries!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Week 3: Stuff Mart and the Rammiamptum

CCM District- Can you find Elder Monson?

CCM District

I can honestly say that I´ve never seen a city quite like the one here in Guatemala.
The air is thick with pollution and humidity and the streets are dense with cars. There are no traffic lights and all of the stop signs say "alto" which I´m pretty sure means tall....so I have no Idea what´s going on. I got to experience the city firsthand this week as my district and all of the other Nortes trekked to the nearest Wal-Mart by tour bus...which wasn´t a bad deal at all. The city is exotic and immense at every corner is a splash of north-american commercialism in a rustic, tropical setting.
The Wal-Mart here is no different. It´s akin to the "stuff-mart" in the Madame Blueberry episode of Veggie Tales (If you get that reference, you are my hero). The building is massive and cluttered, everything is thrown together with no rhyme or reason (why are the frozen foods next to the deodorant? How does that make any sense? And why is there a Catfish the size of a toddler in the middle of the dairy section?? I need to have a word with the sales manager...) After we got all the things we needed from the store (for me it was survival snacks...mainly Rice Krispies and Vanilla Tootsie Rolls) we headed over to the mall to eat from the food court. I feel like the Cashier at the Wendy´s took pity on me because he started using his broken English to help me order my frosty.
And I wish I could say that my experience at Taco Bell was much better....I was highly disappointed due to the fact that they wouldn´t allow me to buy 13 crunchy tacos and had to settle for a Steak Quesadilla and two "X-Treme" burritos. (I may have to have a conversation with the sales manager there as well)
As far as life at the CCM goes....it goes.
It feels like the movie "Groundhog Day" in the sense that every day feels like the exact same day: I wake up, go to breakfast, eat half of it because I´m getting really sick of eggs. We study language for 4 hours, eat lunch, teach fake investigators until dinner and then I humiliate myself once more as the skinniest guy in the gym.
...yeah. That sounds about right.
Speaking of fake investigators, ours has gotten really snarky as of late. We´ve reached the point where we aren´t allowed any English in the lesson and rely on the Spirit to guide the lesson...
Which is great and everything but when your investigator starts asking questions that you don´t even know the answer to in ENGLISH...it´s a problem. But I´ve gotten really good at saying I don´t know the answer at the moment and will ponder about it for our next visit.
But at the end of the lesson was the kicker....we asked our investigator ¨Hermano Miguel Vallencia¨ to give the closing prayer. So he kneels down, puts both of his hands in the air like he´s on top of the Rammiamptum and starts his prayer with ¨Nuestro Barack Obama.¨
I, like unto Alma was Astonished Beyond all Measure¨ and broke my Spanish only to say ¨We taught you how to pray two days ago!¨
My district got a kick out of that.
And that´s all I´ve got for today!
Until next time!
,,,or ....
....yeah,,,,I really have no idea how to end a letter.
May the force be with you,
-Elder Monson

Monday, August 5, 2013

Week 2: In which Charlie Brown goes to Hogwarts

You know in the book of Alma, where Moroni smites off the scalp of the Lamanite Captain?
That´s pretty much how my week went.
Not to say that my week was bad or anything but....
The first order of business: hair and haircuts. On Thursday during dinner, the CCM barber stops me and a few other elders, saying that our hair is too long and that the day of reckoning has fallen upon us. So I begrudgingly followed him to the gym where he proceed to give me the worst haircut of my entire mortal existence. Not only was the experience traumatic (the guy used a razor blade to trim my sideburns! I mean, who does that?) but the results were even less-rewarding. Because I still don´t have my camera, the best way I could describe it to you is in two words: Charlie Brown.
Think about it.
Now that I look like the round headed kid, my luck with the language has followed accordingly. Every time I feel like I am taking a step forward in my studies, I take two steps back. For example, Saturday night, my district was doing a role-playing simulation with the Hispanos. I was an investigator struggling with the Law of Chastity and an Hermana from the other district was teaching me why we should follow God´s commandments. But there was just one problem: I had no idea what she was saying! She was speaking so fast that the best I could do was provide the occasional "....what? Oh, si si si...." So my mind was wandering to say the least and I was getting really discouraged at my language-learning skills. Finally the hermana asked me something under the lines of, "¿cuantos aƱos tiene?" All I knew to say after that was how old I was.
Unbeknownst to me, I had told her that I had been struggling with the Law of Chastity for 18 years.
Needless to say, I have been studying infinitely harder at learning spanish since then.
On another note, our investigator, Jose agreed to be baptized! He´s scheduled for August 17th! ....which is all fine and dandy...until he revealed that he had been converted 10 years ago and is now our instructor for nighttime classes. But while he wasn´t a real investigator, the spirit that was felt in our discussions with him was definitely real. So now, our district has graduated to teaching 2 fake investigators and a less-active member entirely in Spanish!
The food here is actually getting increasingly more....American. On Saturday, we had hamburgers and Chinese food (which I´m told are the USA´s greatest contributions to modern society). But with each day I´m discovering more and more how the CCM is like Hogwarts for Mormons. Every day I´m drawing more comparisons and they always seem to make my day...it took me 18 years but I finally made it into what feels like a Harry Potter book.
...too bad my haircut makes me look 7 years younger than I really am. But even though some weeks may be rough, the salvation of souls was never meant to be easy work! While there may be some tough moments the work goes forth undeterred!
-Elder Monson

He also mentioned he would love a Dear Elder letter so he can read it when he is off the computer.  So if you'd like to write him that way every once in awhile go to... dearelder.com and choose Guatemala MTC.   Thanks for your support and love, I know he feels it!