Monday, March 31, 2014

week 36: a completely normal week...

There is almost nothing to report this week.
Nothing at all.
Not really anything happened.
It was a completely regular week. Except for a few important details:
1. I lost my voice.
It was an incredibly humbling experience, I related to Alma when he said, "O that I were an angel, and could have the wish of mine heart, that I might go forth and speak with the trump of God, with a voice to shake the earth, and cry repentance unto every people! Yea, I would declare unto every soul, as with the voice of thunder, repentance and the plan of redemption, that they should repent and come unto our God, that there might not be more sorrow upon all the face of the earth" Whenever I opened up my mouth it sounded like the black plauge....and when I tried to sing a hymn.... sounded like a frog who had the flu, then the black plauge, died, became a zombie frog with leprosy and did a duet with his banshee girlfriend.
All I wanted to do was to talk! but whenever I said something....nothing was said! But I learned a lot about how actions really speak louder than words. We can talk all day but unless we live the things we preach and show kindness to everyone, everything has been done in vain.
2. We found an incredible investigator family
On tuesday, all of our appointments fell through and we got pretty discouraged....but whenever that happens, it's always a sign that the Lord wants you somewhere else. So we started knocking on doors...and we stumbled across the Tzul Family. We taught a breif lesson on the Plan of Salvation and set up another appointment. When we returned, the father, was incredilbly excited to listen to us and we taught about more things and answered his questions. He told us that he really didn't have that much knowledge about Jesus Crist, that he was raised believing in ancient Mayan gods, (the god of the sun, the moon, etc.) but he knew that Heavenly Father existed.
We had a few incredible lessons with this man and his family, and this sunday he came to church with his daughter! He wasn't there for the first hour, but during Gospel Principles class, the Stake President greeted him and guided him to Sunday School, and as he walked in he said "The missionaries invited me!" and sat down.
He and his daughter loved church, and said they learned a lot of things!
And I was so excited to teach them until....
3. I'm getting transferred out of the area.
Yes my good friends, I am leaving Jutiapa.
For good.
Last night the Zone Leaders called and announced my misfortune. Tomorrow I get on a bus and go.
After only 6 weeks of being here! I mean...what? So that was sad.
My companion, Elder Vieira gets to stay here. and I'm really going to miss him....I was just barely starting to understand Portuguese. He's a really great missionary and....
What....What happens next?

Only time will tell....

Monday, March 24, 2014

Week 35: On and Off

What a handsome Elder!
How...who...where...what? How on earth did this week just end? How is it that I'm back here again? I swear, time just...flies...
And so, the weekly report: what.happened? The truth? Not much. I mean sure, every day is an adventure and everything but this week.... *checks agenda* oh yeaaaaahhhh....
A lot DID happen, I just sort of...forgot.
First of all, I went to the Brazillian embassy last monday...but I think I already told you was fun, I heard my companion talk in Portugeese and used a Brazillian toilet!
And on tuesday, we had a pretty normal day, teaching a lot of people.
Which was good because Wednesday was a doozie. We went on divisions with the Elders in Monjas (which I discovered is actually outside of the State!) was pretty fun but...really slow. We just sort of contacted people for a good 8 hours under record-breaking heat.
I know I've said it before area is HOT, any day now the soles of my shoes are just going to melt down into the cracks on the pavement.
It was a pretty slow day on wednesday.
But thursday was a really good day, so Im not really sure what's up...and then friday followed suit as a pretty BAD day....with saturday as a good day....and sunday as...
It's an ABABAB pattern here, if you went to 5th grade you can guess correctly.
Friday was hard because I went on divisions with the Zone Leaders, stayed in my area and....everything fell through.
Every single appointment.
That's always frusterating, but it just means that the Lord is preparing people for  you to teach and talk to, and he needs you free of any more commitments.
That seems to happen a lot lately.
But it's always good to learn more patience, it makes us more humble and receptive to promptings of the spirit.
I guess you could say that this wasnt the best week ever...which is pretty accurate, but that's okay...
Because following the ABAB pattern....this next week will be awesome
-Elder Monson
8th month out!
"really another day?"
The wall of encouragement and inspiration

Monday, March 17, 2014

Week 34: "Catching Fire"

Welcome, Ladies and Gentlemen, to what has been easily the craziest week of my entire mission. Which is saying a lot, after Smurfs, Llamas, Drunk Guys, Good Comps, less-good Comps, Construction and Combustion, and the unforgettable investigator who prayed to Barack Obama.
Yes my dear friends, even crazier than that.
Which is interesting; because it started out relatively plain, last P-Day....
In the sense that we didn´t do much besides go home and sleep for 2 hours and have a Family Home Evening with the Bishop. It was fun!
Tuesday we had Zone Council in the morning about a half an hour away in Progresso. We learned about a lot of ways we can improve the search for ¨New Investigators¨ Mainly by...Contacting.
I won´t lie, my love for the keen game of Cat and Mouse that is Street Contacting has waxed a little cold. But in the Zone Council I learned a lot about how we can make it more interesting by using the many different recourses we have in the church.
Have you ever tried to get someone interested in the Gospel by using the Hymnbook? Go ahead! Try it! You might be surprised...

We then went on divisions, my companion was sent an hour away to Monjas while I stayed in Jutiapa to hold down the fort with Elder Antonio. He´s from Mexico and he´s been in the mission for a month, and we ran around the city all day working like dogs...and it really paid off! We taught Marian, (Who will be baptized this coming week) and the Lopez Family (who still are GOLDEN!). When the day was over, it was not hard to sink into the pillow and go to sleep.
And it was a good thing that I slept well, because Wednesday just about killed me.
Scroll up and take a glance at the title of this week: ¨Catching Fire.¨ This is not just a reference to the heat of Jutiapa, it is indeed a reference to Suzanne Collin´s Contemporary Fiction novel.
A ¨revolution¨ of sorts broke out in Jutiapa.
You see, there are two parts of this area, city and mountain. The more densely populated area is the former, and the rural, more humble, would be the latter. The ¨Mountain People¨ came down on Wednesday morning with all the intention of being heard by the Well-to-Do´s of Guatemala.
First, they blocked off the Highway from Jutiapa to Progresso, with Buses, and vans interlocked in two different areas, as to prohibit all motor-powered passage.
This posed a problem, as Elder Antonio and I needed to get through the barricade and out to Monjas. There simply was no other option, we needed to walk.
From Jutiapa to Progresso we went, under the midday sun, and it was a killer! All the cars on both sides of the barricade were in a hiatus, and all the passengers had resorted to the same scapegoat as us. We crossed both sides of the blockade, walking right past the Police and the Mob, with their AK-47´s and machetes...
When we reached Progresso we were able to take a bus to Monjas and meet up with our companions an hour late.
Elder Vieira and I wasted no time getting back on the bus and heading down to Jutiapa....where we walked the length of the barricade again. Only this time the heat had risen, the tensions between the ¨pacifistic protesting¨ and the enforcement of the law had risen...but once again, my companion and I walked right past them and to the house of the Stake President, whose wife had arranged to make us lunch.
It was a huge plate of spaghetti and a tall glass of Coca Cola (I find it interesting, I drink more Coca Cola in my Mission than I have in my entire life....).
When we got back home, we began calling people to confirm our scheduled appointments.
¨Don´t leave the house Elders!¨ was the first thing we heard from Brother Mendez, ¨The police just threw tear gas in the park (next to our house)¨
The protest sparked in the City´s central, and a good many people were in the hospital, men women and children.
So we stayed home.
But we couldn´t have timed it better. The rebellion didn´t amount to anything and by the next day it was all cleaned up...
For the rest of the week, the work went relatively slowly...Many appointments fell through and it’s getting increasingly harder to find Investigators who will progress...
But that´s how it goes! The week had its other moments of craziness (including a drunk-nudist running behind us in the street) but nothing else quite matched to the rebellion.
The Lord takes care of his missionaries!
And what a great calling it is to be one!

-Elder Monson

Baptism of Esau whom Tyler taught in San Juan.  Tyler was so excited!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Week 33: Keep the Baptisimal Font Full...

Last night, I was getting ready for bed, and when I turned on the light to the bedroom, a ginormous lizard darted out of view and underneath my bed.
I didn't sleep too well...
And I don't exactly know why but, there are about a million lizards all over the place...and they're freaking me out! But that's okay...I'll survive! Because...this week, in spite of the reptillian life, was awesome. 
We had three baptisms! Sister Cruz and her two sons, Giovanni and Daniel! It was really a great blessing because we were only planning on having two, the mother and her 10 year-old son...but at the last minute (literally the VERY last), half an hour before the baptism, Giovanni was talking to the Bishop.
"And why aren't you getting baptised today?"
"I dunno, I didn't really want to before...but now I feel like I do..."
Bishop Valdez wasted no time, called the Zone Leaders to our area to do an interview for Giovanni and get white clothes for him. We started the service an hour late, but with one more person dressed in white.
Saturday was a good day.

See Elder Monson back row, biggest smile
In was just a really good week. Tuesday we had a Zone Conference with the Mission President, Wednesday we worked hard, Thursday I went on divisions with the Zone Leaders...and learned a ton...Friday was normal...Saturday we had baptisms, and Sunday my companion got his Patriarical Blessing!
And it doesn't look like things are going to slow down any time soon.
Which is makes time go by faster...
Love you all, and I am so stoked to be out here in Guatemala!
-Elder Monson

My mom said I should write more....soooo.....
What else happened?
During Zone Conference President Stay talked to us about the Atonement of Chirst. It made me think very hard on what that sacrifice really was and how my mission has brought me even closer to the Lord. Jesus Christ had to humble himself to every affiliction and every pain that anyone and everyone would ever suffer so that he could truly understand what we feel. I thought about trials that we all go through, physical, mental, emotional, and how they help us to relate to other people even better.
And I am simply amazed at how infinite the Atonement really was. It was the greatest act of selflessness that has ever come to pass throughout all time and eternity. The price of our sins, required the sacrifice of a God...and part of our mortal purpose here on earth is to come to comprehend exactly how magnificent and key Jesus Christ is to the Plan of Salvation.
We also learned that we need to invite people to be baptized on the very first visit and then commit them to a date on the second. That way we can know, for sure, who are the chosen and prepared people...and who isn't.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Week 32: Milk and Honey‏

Holy Cannoli....This was a crazy-awesome week. As the temperature slowly climbs, the excitement levels seem to skyrocket. I mean, I`m not exactly sure where to start!
First things first I guess: The Lord is blessing Jutiapa as if it were the Promised Land...even though the milk here tastes horrible and I haven´t had any honey for like...a year...(old testament joke/reference, it was funnier in my head). We have investigators! We have people getting ready for baptism! And every time we invite someone/challenge them, they accept! This week we challenged 11 people to be baptized and all of them said that they would!
I think I already said it last week but....I am absolutely in love with Jutiapa the people are super nice, the area big and incredible. Elder Vieira was talking to me yesterday, saying that he never ever wants to leave here for the rest of his mission.
And even though I`ve only been here for 2 weeks....I totally agree.
It`s the Promised land, I`m telling you.
In other awesome news, yesterday my branch united with the other branch in Jutiapa and we became the biggest ward in the entire stake. After 50 years of the church existing here, progress was made! Bishop Valdez was called during sacrament meeting with 200 in attendance.
That`s a lot of people.
The spirit is strong here in Jutiapa.
I am so excited to keep going this week!

Love you all! -Elder Monson