Sunday, June 29, 2014

Week 49: Elder Monson Walks into a Bank...‏

Well my friends, I had a fantastic week.
A lot of good things are happening here in Montufar, new investigators, progressing investigators and an incredibly smooth run on the Change Meeting this last week. I finally feel like I'm getting in the hang of things as a Financial Secretary (even though my math is still rubbish).
So what's new?
On Sunday the Francos, went to church! Walter AND his wife, Ingrid were both able to make it to the meetings! And the members in our ward were just all over them, ready to fellowship, to hold their baby, and answer all their questions.
You know, that's probably the biggest lesson that I've learned during the course of my mission: It's not really as much about being a better missionary (well, it is but..), its really about being a better member of my own church! Now I know what things I need to do to to improve in that aspect!
Elder Gil and I have been working really hard, and now we're are starting to see some fruits! We were able to finish off the week satisfied with the work we had done.
Monday was my birthday, and an incredibly eventful day at that. We had to prepare ourselves for the Change Meeting, so we were cooped up in the offices until around 8 o'clock at night. It was a really long day, but what made it awesome was that at the end of the day, Sister Gonzales invited the four of us to her house for a Good Bye Elder Mendez/Happy Birthday Elder Monson, where we ate Cake and KFC. It was an awesome day! And It was also great because Sister Stay and Sister Trapnell (the President's wife and the Mission Nurse) made brownies for my birthday! And we gave President and Sister Stay matching office jerseys (Everyone in the offices had one too!). It was just overall a great day.

Tuesday was the Transfer Meeting, and things went really smoothly. My good friend Elder Mendez had transfers to Milagro, so that was kind of sad to see him go. And now, we have Elder Walton and Elder Rosales as companions! Elder Rosales is a great guy from El Salvador, I met him during my time in Jutiapa, so I was glad to see him again. It was another good and surprisingly uneventful day!

And when you're handling money, uneventful is exactly how you want your days to go.
The rest of the week just sort of followed suit: Normal, but good! All the "Dead" missionaries stayed over on Tuesday and Wednesday night as they visited their past areas and told stories of all the things that they had seen and done during their missions. I learned a lot from all 12 of them, each had his own different personality, but all of them were great missionaries nonetheless. On Thursday morning at 4 o'clock they all got in their taxis and got going to the airport.
The down side was they left our house a mess. Elder Gil and I spent our Thursday morning cleaning up Pizza Boxes and Sprite Cans.
But that was okay.
On Thursday we found a new investigator, Manuela. She's the Fiancé of a member, and she is very open to listening to us. Elder Gil and Elder Delgado had taught her a few times the week before I arrived in the area, but then she went to live with her family for a few months...but now she came back! We taught her twice this week, recapping the Restoration, and challenged her to be baptized. And she accepted! I think we're going to see some awesome progress there!
And that brings us to yesterday, where we spent the whole day driving to banks all around the Capital and paying the rent for various houses in the mission. It was an adventure, that took from 2 o'clock until 7...I had a lot of fun though, so I can't complain.
Which didn't leave us with very much time to do much else.
But that was okay because I was able to taste the new Cheeserito from Taco Bell and it pretty much changed the way I saw Burritos.

-Elder Monson

Monday, June 23, 2014

Week 48: Don't Stop the Paaaarty‏

There's a secret to getting old: Just keep waking up every day.
The blessings don't stop, the progress doesn't stop, and, just like the Energizer Bunny, the life-experiences just keep going and going and going. Life really isn't that hard...all we have to do is keep existing until it's all over.
What makes the difference is how well we "Carpe Diem" (In case you've never seen Phineas and Ferb, Newsies or Dead Poet's Society, that means seize the day).
We press on, boats against the tide, unhindered and undeterred, determined to make our lives extraordinary, to do the best with the time that is given to us.
Live great, be great,  the windows are open and ambition be paid!
Okay...I'll get off my soap box now.
Life is just good though...even though there are problems and challenges and we feel sad or disappointed sometimes, it's just a passing thing! In the new testament, the Apostle Peter says, "For he that will love life and see good days...happy are ye." (1 Peter 3:10, 17). We must love life! And if we do, if we seek what's good, we find out that everything is worth it.
I said I was getting off my soap box...this time I really mean it.
How was my week?
It was pretty good (not like...spectacular or anything), but it didn't leave a sour taste in my mouth (woo hoo! That's progress!).
On Saturday, we went to eat lunch at the mall that I went to in Week 3 (Stuff Mart and the Rammiamptum) during my time in the MTC. It was pretty cool...nothing too exciting...I ate China Wok and a Frosty, so I was happy. That night we had another lesson with the Franco Family! They are really opening up to the gospel, especially the wife, Ingrid who is more and more excited to listen to us. Sadly enough, she wasn't able to go to church this week either (yet again, she had to work) but she sent her husband, Walter in her stead.

The next day it was a joy to see Brother Franco at church! He stayed for all three of the hours and participated in all the lessons (including Elder's Quorum, where he presented a summary based of the Joseph Fielding Smith manual on how fulfilling our priesthood duties helps us to qualify for exaltation...) He is such a blessing in my life and really gives me the courage to keep looking for more investigators like him. Walter has already been to church twice, and now all the members know who he is and have fellow shipped him brilliantly, he wants to be baptized but has informed us that he would like to wait for his wife so they can make this covenant together.
Floridalma also came to church and really enjoyed it....but I swear! That girl is like a riddle, who knows what it's going to take to get her baptized!
We'll figure it out.
On Monday, we were back in our torn-up office, sharing a computer between Elder Gil and I and trying to make do. It's always an adventure.
Tuesday was fairly normal as well, the construction workers finished laying the tile and that was definitely fantastic.
What made the day great was the fact that I recieved yet another package from my family, chocked full of things for my birthday, candy, hats, streamers and a Pikachu Shirt (#Winning). I am so stoked for this next Monday, because...that's when I turn 19....and get to eat all the candy and brownies that my Fantastic Familiy sent me...muahhahahah.

On Wednesday, we had a  "Specialized Training" done by President and Sister Stay, it was basically a "goodbye" for them. President gave his exit interview as a talk for all the missionaries present, he talked about Studies, Jobs, and Dating (it was halarious). Every Zone in the mission had prepared a gift to give at the end..:Zone Guatemala (my zone) had asked me to draw a picture of President and Sister Stay and everyone signed it. The picture turned out awesome! Once again, I surprise myself with my incredible skills,
Thursday was great because I got to go on Divisions with Elder Huntsman in Santa Fe. We talked a lot all day about the mission and how crazy it was that we have already made it so far in the mission...has it really already been 11 months? I hardly believe it!
Yesterday we started getting everything ready for the Change Meeting next week...who knows what's going to happen! Does Elder Gil go, does he stay? How is it going to be with the new Mission President? Are we going to see baptisms?
I sure hope so....
All I know is that I will be one year older (and wiser too).
Don't stop the paaaarty!

-Elder Monson

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Week 47: Spiritual Cockroaches‏

The offices of the Guatemala City South Mission have turned into a war zone.
In more ways then one I guess...
But principally because of a surprise-remodeling project that was ordered by our friends over at the Area Offices. On Tuesday morning, our Companionship Study hour was cut short by a call from the Maintenance Department, saying that there were 12 construction workers waiting for us outside of the mission offices, and that we should probably hurry up and let them in.
From there, the rest of the week followed suit. The workers wasted no time in starting their task, tearing out all the carpet from below our feet as we tried to work, and laying down tile in the vacant areas (we weren't too happy about that change, the offices are like the only place in the whole country of Guatemala where I've found carpet..). As the week progressed, we had to learn how to work around others as they worked around us (literally). It was especially interesting to see the number of cockroaches that had been hidden underneath the carpet as it was lifted out.
Cockroaches are the ultimate survivor...and the pest of all pests. The purpose of their existence, aside from wallowing in the world's filth, remains unknown. And yet, in spite of the fact that nobody wants them around, their Darwinistic sense of survival is inspiring, if not disgusting as well.
All I know is that they make me squeal like a little girl whenever I see one.
And this week seemed to be plagued by cockroaches of a spiritual race. Akin to the tangible type, these creatures hide themselves in the dark and dank places of your soul, dormant, until the moment when they bring themselves into the light.
Nephi warns us against pests such as these when he said, "Awake, my soul! No longer droop in sin. Rejoice, O my heart, and give place no more for the enemy of my soul."
Sometimes, the fiery darts of the adversary aren't slung by catapults, with fanfare or a cavalry as the armies of sin assemble in this spiritual War Zone...sometimes Satan destroys us from the wet and dreary places that we leave empty in our own hearts. There, we let him fill the space with a colony of Spiritual Cockroaches, ready to destroy us.
Things such as, bad attitudes, gossip, lies, or secret sin begin to eat us alive, destroying us from the inside.
But hope is found with the light of the Holy Ghost and the Light of Christ, when our transgressions are made known to us, a change must be made. Thought the atonement of Jesus Christ we are able to squash these cockroaches and become better people.
Food for thought...I'm not really sure why I have Cockroaches on the brain.
Aside from that, all the remodeling, the week was pretty normal, my companion and I have started from Zero again, finding new investigators and trying to get them to progress. We had a Zone Council on Wednesday about how to become a Consecrated missionary. It was a really interesting topic, and made me reflection a lot on what kind of a missionary I truly am... I consecrated? I would like to say so!
...yeah, I think I'm consecrated.
The highlight of the week was on Monday morning when President and Sister Stay invited us to their house to eat breakfast. The meal was incredible, Sister Stay went all out for us, making chocolate, chocolate chip waffles and french toast and...
A lot of really yummy stuff.
I’m glad that I’m starting to see some progress in my area and that I am able to see the way that the Lord is helping me to become a better version of the person I am!
The mission is great.
I sure love you all and hope that you have a great week!

And watch out for Spiritual Cockroaches.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Week 46: Just Me, Chilling with the Lamanites‏

As just about everyone prepares for the great battle that will be the 2014 World Cup, the missionaries of the Guatemala City South Mission are preparing even harder for the great battle that will be resisting the temptation of watching the whole fiasco.
At least...for everyone else, it will be.
President Stay, in his weekly letter said, "For some of you, the sacrifice of not watching the World Cup may be like unto the sacrifice that the Lord commanded Abraham to make in the Old Testament." I thought it was pretty funny...mainly because I feel absolutely no temptation whatsoever.
My companion however, is dying.
But the thing that really has surprised me is how incredibly popular the event seems to be in every country of the world (except, for some reason, The United States... where the excitement level is appallingly sub-par).
Although, if sacrifices bring forth the blessings of Heaven, I am definitely willing to bring the World Cup as an offering for a baptism or two here in Montufar.
Needless to say, the great drought of investigators continues in full force.
Saturday: A bumpy finish to a frankly, bad week. Elder Gil and I went back home to rest for an hour or so and then we went out to work. We stopped by the Franco Family again and had an incredible lesson. We talked about how families can be together forever and Ingrid, the wife, started crying. Walter, the husband, informed us that it had been three years to the day that one of their daughters had passed away. I was completely astounded by the way the Lord had prepared us and them for that message.
Sunday: We went to the CEO of the Church's Area Office here in Guatemala's house to eat lunch. His name's Brother Durran, and his wife gave us so much food that Elder Gil and I collapsed on the floor with stomach pains. I ate way too much and when it was time to go out to work it was a huge struggle.
But the food was really good!
Monday: Really stressful day today...I prefer not to think about it...
Tuesday: Another busy, stressful day. I actually don't remember much from it...
Wednesday: I went on divisions today! I got to go with Elder Mann, from Draper Utah! He was one of the first people I became friends with in my first Zone...and now he's my Zone Leader! He helped me out a lot in regard to my area. We talked a lot together and even though the Divisions Curse applied in this case, (all of the appointments fell through) I really enjoyed today!
Thrusday, I designed an awesome-looking logo for the South Mission, where our motto is "Baptize and Retain"  It's a CTR shield with our Missionary "Baptism logo" in the center. It turned out so well that the Assistants want to print it out onto a flag and give it to President Stay when he goes home in two weeks!
Friday: We were running around like crazy all day. Today was the Mission Council, where all the Zone Leaders, the Sister Missionary Trainers and the Assistants all meet and discuss what we can do to make the mission better.
As secretaries, we don't do much there besides order a ton of expensive food :).
I've noticed that we eat a lot here...It was great though because I saw a ton of my friends (Elder Bento, Elder Chavez and Elder Layton to name a few...). When we got out it was pouring rain, and I had to drive home. The drainage system in Guatemala is kind of garbage, so the roads
had turned into rivers, and upon accelerating the car would automatically start hydroplaning.
Apparently there's been an earthquake passing through Central America...who knew?
Which brings us to today. It was a great "Office PDay" with us, the other Secretaries and the Assistants, we went to the mall, Miraflores, and to a Museum on Mayan culture here in Guatemala. It was pretty interesting, I learned a lot. It was really interesting, because supposedly, Guatemala City was where the City of Nephi was stationed in the Book of Mormon. All the artifacts were completely fascinating, and really motivating...I'm totally ready to cry repentance to all of the remnants of the Lamanites here in central america!
I'm ready to baptize the whole world!

Woo Hoo!

-Elder Monson