Monday, September 30, 2013

Weeek 10: Much to learn, You have, Young Skywalker

Before we begin, to me a favor and read the title of this week´s blog post in your best Yoda voice....go ahead, make my day.
That´s right, LEARNING is the name of the game this week, and by ¨game¨ I mean my life....The Lord has so much to teach us every day if we have an open mind (unfortunately, most people these days lack that trait).
So lessons did I get to learn this week....well, they just happen to be the lessons I´ve been taught my entire life:
1. Don´t Judge a Book by it´s Cover
It was Thursday afternoon, the sun was high over the colorful city of San Pedro as Elder Hernandez and I had gone out to do some contacting. A good way to get people to open up to you is by following Ammon´s example, offering service to them! We found an elderly woman who was balancing a big basket on her head and offered to help her out and she readily agreed. The moment I got that basket in my arms, I could tell why: it was the single most-heavy thing I have ever had the displeasure of taking into my hands. I found myself relating to the Titian Lord (insert name here) who was punished with the burden of carrying the sky on his shoulders. How on earth had she been carrying this basket on her head all this way? Questions flooded my mind as I staggered behind the woman. My companion and I were taking turns carrying the load all too frequently and when we reached her car we were both gasping for breath. We did a quick contact with her and she politely declined the opportunity to hear the good word of the gospel and sent us on our way...but not before she had given us of what we had carried...which was CORN...Corn on the cob, actually steaming, freshly cooked.
2. Trust No One
Especially not Big Businesses and Seriously skilled corn-carrying ladies. Why you ask? I got a nice bout of food poisoning TWICE this week (The Bano was my best friend for a while). 1st time was from a local fast-food joint a ¨Pollo Campero¨ a KFC-esque joint that, to me is like LDS churches in Utah, in the sense that, if you have can probably see one of them no matter where you are. The second time was from the Corn that I was all-too eager to accept as my award for lifting another one´s burden that it may be made light.
So this week was fun.
3. When it Rains, You Put On a Coat
I have, but one silk tie in all my wares. It was the prize of my CCM Tie-Trading Excursions....and it´s really classy. But every time I wear it, without fail, it rains cats and dogs.
Yesterday was no exception. I saw more rain than I ever have in my entire mortal existence...and I was wearing all the wrong clothes....meaning, my suit, silk tie and non-water-proof shoes.
Be prepared...because even if there´s no rain on the´re wearing your silk tie.
4. Be a Fisher of Men
Every day I feel like I´m relating more and more to Peter when Christ told him to ¨Come, and I will make you fishers of men.¨ Street contacting is so much like fishing it´s not even funny....every day it´s a testament to how great and how accurate scriptural metaphors really are. Your pond is the city, And there´s lots of bait to choose from, from Pamphlets to copies of the Book of Mormon. You cast your line and walk up to the family, sitting together on a bench enjoying their lunch of  ¨Pollo Campero¨ the spirit prompts you to USE THE PAMPHLET ON THE PLAN OF SALVATION. And before you know it you´ve got a bite, you set them up for an appointment for another day and write down their address to seal the deal.
Fish is on the menu...and everyone´s going to be spiritually fed.

That´s what I´ve got for you today! Love all you guys and for the wonderful people that send me letters and I don´t respond you´re fantastic and I love to hear from you!

(sorry no pictures or a cartoon! the computer was not working, AAAHHHH!!!)

Monday, September 23, 2013

Week 9: Chicken Soup for the Salvation of Souls

Sickness is in the air down here in San Juan and every moment of health that I have is another blessing I am able to count. Everybody and their dog is getting sick (the Dogs especially, you can count the tumors that dangle off their´s pretty gross), from my companion to the other companionship in San Juan (They´re a pair of Hermanas and I spent a good 6 hours in the Hospital because one of them had a pretty hardcore asthma attack and had to go now Elder Hernandez and I are the only Missionaries this side of the mountain for a good...25 The world could do with some recuperation and a nice bowl of Chicken Soup is just what the doctor ordered...or if you´re here it´s Chicken FOOT Soup and it leaves a weird, metallic aftertaste in your mouth.
So here´s my custom brew, Chicken Soup for the Salvation of Souls: A Guide on how to get happy and stay that way.
1. Appreciate More, Quibble Less.
My first ride on the Buses here in Guatemala was a testament to how different this country is from the United States. The best way to describe it is the cheapest roller coaster that money can buy. You get packed into a painted up School Bus, three to a seat and no room to breathe, as you careen down the mountain face, whipping past the greenery and neighborhoods at speeds that defy explanation. All the while, people walk up and down the aisles asking for your money, selling peanuts and other goods as the speakers blare songs in your ear that...aren´t exactly ¨Mission Appropriate¨
...sounds fun, right?
But if we´re going to appreciate more and quibble less, we focus more on the people, do some contacting and say a prayer of thanks for the chance to sit down for a while.
The world could do with more appreciation!
2. Memorize a Hymn...and sing it to yourself
In Doctrine and Covenants Section 25 we read that ¨The song of the righteous is a prayer unto me and shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads.¨ Every song in the Hymn book is both spiritually and emotionally uplifting, ponder the poetry of their lyrics!
Whenever you feel sad remind yourself that you ¨are a child of God¨ and that ¨Families can be together forever!¨ A good suggestion for a ¨Pick me up Hymn¨is ¨There is Sunshine in my Soul Today,¨ or ¨Count Your Blessings¨
3. Get Outta the Past and Attach to Today
When Christ comes to the Americas in 3rd Nephi, he tells them that ¨Old Things are done away and all things have become new¨ (3Nephi 12: 47). Memories are great, in a way they´re the heart of your brain, if that makes any sense....but if we attach ourselves to the past too much we forget to live in the TODAY.
A wise turtle in a Dreamworks movie once said, ¨Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery but today is a gift, that´s why it´s called the present!¨
4. Look forward to something
Always have a way point, a dream or a goal to anticipate. Whenever you feel down you can always know that something great is on the horizon and feel rejuvenated.
Langston Huges puts it best when he said: 
¨Hold fast to dreams, for when dreams die
Life is a broken winged-bird that cannot fly
Hold fast to dreams for when dreams go
Life is a barren field, frozen with snow¨
If your way point is the next PDay or that hour you have before you go to sleep at night to do whatever you be it.

And that´s my philosophy for the week! Haha, hope all is well, I´m doing great!
-Elder Monson


Monday, September 16, 2013

Week 8: Be a Phineas, not a Ferb

Things weren´t exactly picture perfect this week. For the first few days I felt like Bilbo Baggins, who all he could think about was his hobbit hole and how far away he was from the Shire. Mr. Baggins felt tired, useless and scared and was ready to turn back...when things started happening.
For the first few days of the week I was left to my thoughts. I can´t really contribute much to the lessons because I frankly, have no idea what´s going on. So I spend a lot of time with my thoughts, smiling and looking intently at the investigators on the outside, but in my head I´m coming up with the premise of a T.V. show and plotting yet another book I probably won´t ever write. It leaves a lot of time to hold a pity party with my thoughts and finally on Wednesday it came to a head. I got sick, my stomach was nauseous and all I really wanted was to throw in the towel and give up.
It was then that I got down on my knees and prayed harder than I ever have in my life.
And I kept that prayer in my heart as the week progressed, every time I felt discouraged, words of motivation would pop up in my mind, the most prominent of which is from the hymn ¨Come, Come ye Saints.¨
¨Girt up your loins, fresh courage take, our God will never us forsake, and soon we´ll have this tale to tell, All is well, All is well.¨
¨Forget yourself and go to work!¨ I told myself, ¨Stop dwelling on your feelings and focus on others! Be a Phineas, not a Ferb, start talking!¨
That´s been one of the biggest trials this week. I would gather up the courage to go out and start contacting everyone and when I did....they would just sort of nod and smile at me, their faces blank and their spirits unmoved....they didn´t understand a word I said.
But I wasn´t about to be discouraged, not when I had come so far to teach this message! But yet, doubts began to flood my mind and began to slip back into sorrow...It was Friday night and I was getting really discouraged. Tired and without understanding anything anyone was telling me, I prayed to my God again, ¨Heavenly Father, I need to understand this language...I need to speak it! Please fill my mouth with words!¨ And he did. The next lesson we taught, Elder Hernandez took a back seat and had me teach the entire lesson...on the spot. It was with a member family, so it was less terrifying than it might have been....but the words came to my mouth, and I was able to teach about how we need to have both hands on the Iron Rod and feast upon the words of Christ.
To cap it all off, I had my first baptism yesterday.
His name is Esau and he´s 11 years old. His mom is a convert and his dad isn´t a member but he was really excited to be baptized! I had the opportunity to baptize him and Elder Hernandez was able to baptize his 8 year old brother.
So this week is a testament that you receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.
It may be hard sometimes...but the best thing about this Church is that it´s WORTH IT!

-Elder Monson
drawings and my planner

Guatemala Independence Day parade September 15, 2013

Monday, September 9, 2013

Week 6 and 7- Out of the Frying Pan...

Leaving the CCM was almost as hard as leaving the United States.

It didn't help that I had absolutely no idea what to expect after the moment I crossed out of the gates and into the mission field. I know enough Spanish and have a testimony of the restored what else matters?

It was a rainy Tuesday morning when I met my first companion, Elder Hernandez, got into a taxi and drove off into the great unknown. I gripped my scriptures with white knuckles as we weaved in and out of the city traffic, each mile we put behind us was one mile closer to where I needed to be. Only, I had no idea where I needed to be...

The name of my area? San Juan, Guatemala. It's outside of the Capital, as far away from the mission home as you can get (words like, "banishment" come to mind) The city is built at the top of a mountain where the air is thin and there's nothing but tin roofs and green hilltops as far as the eye can see. It's a city where the days are burning hot and the nights are a thick, humid kind of cold, every hour is filled with music, it's pouring from all of the shops and buses....and I mean this in a very literal sense, the other day an entire Maraichi band got on our bus and gave us a performance as we jetted down the road at break-neck speeds.

One thing is for sure: I don't think I'm in Kansas anymore.

My companion, Elder Hernandez has been out in the field for 9 months and doesn't know any English....whatsoever. He's a really nice guy and a hard worker, but as far as conversations go....they're about as limited as my skills are in the language. He's been waiting for a VERY long time to have his visa be cleared to go to Lima, Peru...but for the time being, he's in San Juan training Elder Monson on how to be a missionary.

Elder Monson and Elder Hernandez
Speaking of Visas, mine came in two weeks ago and my district at the CCM got to go and pick them up! that was fun.

The members here are great and people on the streets are always willing to talk to you for a few minutes as they make their way back to their houses, balancing big baskets of whatnot on their heads. Most of the time it's bread or dough for tortillas.
Which brings me to the FOOD! Haha, I though I'd have problems with my picky eater nature but...pretty much all the stuff I've eaten so far has been stuff I would eat anyways at home! ...namely Rice, Potatoes and Chicken.

Now that I've had a week out here in the field, the world doesn't feel so confining anymore and the culture isn't as much of a shock (because it was). We've taught quite a few lessons and contacted a TON of people! The work moves forward!

Stay Classy America!
-Elder Monson

"Culture Shock!!"

inside my first apartment

looking out my apartment window
scripture case I had made, my drawings

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The first area is....?

No word from Tyler or where his first area is or who his companion is.  I'm sure he is either pulling his hair out with all the changes and challenges or he is just smiling and enjoying the ride.  I sure hope its the later of the two.  I did post on facebook this comment:

So I haven't heard where Elder Tyler Monson has been shipped off to and I sure would love to hear. But I have to think he is in the right place and doing just what he should. Oh but a quick email would help me feel so much better.

This was the reply from his amazing MTC/CCM teacher Hermana Alvarado:

ÄnDrëäa Älvärädöo Hi I saw him yesterday before they left, I'm not sure if they are going to be able to write you this week or until Monday, that is their P-day, he was really excited about going to the field. It depends their mission president if he gives permission to write this week but I'm pretty sure he is really happy, the activity that they told me yesterday were going to have was trackting and then assignment with their trainers something like that. I miss them and I'm so happy for him and the rest of the district they all were awesome and a light to my days every day 

She is such a sweet lady!  I can't wait to hear... I may be the one pulling my hair out :)  

Love you Tyler!

PS We don't know how works now that he is in the mission field.  I'll let you know what he prefers. :)
Tyler drew this for his CCM teacher.  Love it!