Monday, April 21, 2014

Week 39: I am (Pretty) Legend(ary)‏

Wait...where did all the people go?
This past week has been like 168 hours of the Will Smith movie, ¨I am Legend¨ (Yet another reference to a movie I`ve never seen).
You see, here in Guatemala, Easter is bigger than Christmas. Christmas is just a day where everyone stays home, drinks hot fruit punch and eats Tamales (A dish that I still don`t quite care for), but Easter lasts for 5 days, and is named ¨La Semana Santa¨ or ¨The Holy Week.¨
It`s basically spring break.
And in effect, everyone makes their yearly pilgrimages to their respective places of inheritance, places like Jutiapa, San Juan, and Antigua Guatemala. Then the people celebrate Easter, with grand and elaborate processions, with gigantic images of the crucifixion paraded down the local streets with a type of sacred gradeur. These are events in which all participate and are sights to behold.
Which brings us back to Montufar: Where absolutely nothing seems to be happening. The streets are completely empty, with all the people and the busy, scary, city traffic  just...gone. My area is incredibly commercial, and with all of the businessmen out on vacations, Elder Gil and I have pretty much had the entire city to ourselves.
It`s actually quite nice: nobody has to wait for elevators, if you order a Pizza it gets to you in ten minutes, I can take my camera out and start snapping photos without worry.
Life is good.
So how was my ¨Semana Santa¨ anyways? With all the people gone, what was I able to do?
Let`s do a play by play: 
Last Saturday: I forgot to tell you last week, but for PDay we went to ¨La Cueva Del Negro¨ or ¨Black Man`s Cave.¨ It`s a 17th century ruin, tucked behind a winding jungle path past the graveyard of Frijanes, which is in the mountains about an hour away from the offices.
Needless to say, we did a lot of traveling. It was an hour`s hike from the bus stop to the cave, and I hadn`t brought with me proper hiking I did the whole thing in a White Shirt and Tie. It was pretty rewarding, even though, by the end I was soaking wet with sweat.
The cave was breathtaking, like it had been taken out of an Indiana Jones-style adventure flick. Shaped like a cathedral, it had once been the home of a Spanish Conquestor, who`s name escapes me, when he died, a wild indiginous man came to inhabit the dwelling, and whenever someone came to reclaim the home...well, he killed them.
At least, that`s what it says on the sign that I read.
Sunday: I had my first Sacrament Meeting in Montufar! The ward has about 200 active members and they`re all really nice! Before the services, our ward mission leader helped us drive by and bring a family of investigators to church, The Morataya Family. It was really good, but they only stayed for the first hour because their daughter had a really bad cold.
Monday: In the Mission Offices, Mondays are the most stressful, and busiest days of all. Since it`s PDay for the rest of the missionaries, they all come to the offices, searching for answers to their problems, ¨My Phone doesn`t have any more minutes¨ ¨I`ve already spent all my money for the month on snack food, what do I do?¨ ¨The sister missionaries in my district just got kicked out of their house for yelling at their land lady...what should they do now?¨
...lots of stuff, you get the picture.
The good part though, is that I get to see a ton of my friends in the Mission! Elder Vieira passed by, along with about a dozen other people that I`ve gotten to know and love in here in Guatemala. Also, we have a meeting with the Mission President, the Assistants and the other Secretaries every Monday morning...and It´s always pretty sweet!
Tuesday:  I got my first taste of what the Semana Santa is like....and it wasn`t too savory. When we had been so busy the day before, the world did a 180...and things just sort of dropped. This is where my ¨I am Legend¨ philosophy starts to kick in. I felt like Moroni, who wandered the world alone, all of his people having been destroyed.
Wednesday: The drought of people continued, full steam ahead. on the bright side I got to go and explore more parts of my area! We went to Zone 10: The rich district. It felt like I was walking through the deserted streets of New York, with all the high-rises and fancy cars...with nobody there (but I DID find a Hard Rock Cafe in my area! Who knew they had that in Guatemala?). We visited a recent convert, Patrick, who has been passing through some problems recently, and explained why we have to pass through challenges in this life. We shared two scriptures that really made me think on the topic:
Ether 12, 6: ¨And now, I, Moroni, would speak somewhat concerning these things; I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.¨
2 Nephi 2, 11: ¨For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, my firstborn in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility¨ 
We must pass through trials to strengthen our testimonies in Jesus Christ, and to be able to enjoy the good things that we see even more. Imagine how magnificent heaven will be to one who suffered much in this life! The Contrast would be like night and day, and the joy would be eternal!
Thursday: Yet another very slow day. But I did teach a ¨Witch¨ ...she didn`t really care for what we had to say...but I though it was funny. People here in Guatemala are REALLY superstitious...
Friday: In the morning we had the opportunity to go to the Temple with one of Elder Gil`s converts from his first area. She was there to take out her Endowment, and we were able to accompany her! It made me reflection on how incredible the temple truly is, and how sacred things are there. It`s like a piece of heaven here on earth! It made me very motivated: Sure, having a baptism is a great experience...but taking a convert to the temple is even better!
And then, that night, I caught a really bad cold.
Which brings us to today.
So....with two days left in La Semana Santa...Ill see what I can do to occupy myself!
Happy Easter!
-Elder Monson

(Mom's thoughts:  As I've read his letters each week and seen his pictures I am thrilled and in awe at how much he is getting know himself better, his abilities, talents and gifts.  I also can't believe how much he has grown up, he looks older more sure of himself and so very handsome!)

Elder Gil and Elder Monson at Temple

mosquito netting over bed (glad to know he has some!)

Temple blessings!

Tyler at flag pole at the Temple

Tyler on city street corner


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