Monday, March 30, 2015

Week 88: Expect the Unexpected‏

Pablo was the very last person I ever expected to see walk through the doors of the chapel.
In fact, I was left dumbfounded upon the fact that he didn't burst into flames upon doing so.
The day before, we had made a list of people that we were expecting to have show up he didn't even make the "maybe category." If he had made it into a category at all it would be under the list of people who's work would be done during the end of the millennium.
He is the husband/boyfriend of a strong canadate for baptism, Ivette, they have 2 children, his wife/girlfriend has already recieved an answer that the church (and the book of mormon) is true. And ever since she has received her answer she has been having many....I guess you could call them visions? Where she sees herself in many scenes of the bible and also her ancestors telling her to be baptized for herself and for them as well too and....
You get the idea.
The only problem is that she is not married to her husband (we are in the process of that right now) and also because her husband is a little bit anti-Mormon. The phrase "a little bit" used in this sentence means, "very much so, but we are giving him the benefit of the doubt." He's the type of person that, when we told him to pray to find out that Joseph Smith is a prophet he told us that he wasn't willing to do it because he "didn't even believe that he could be." And then afterwards he started to bombard us with a bunch of questions that were obviously internet-born
So, that Sunday, upon going to the chapel we were watching all of the people file in and we saw that Ivette came alone with her two sons. She has been putting forth her best effort in spite of her circumstances.
The church service was great, Carlos and Sylvia came to the services (They had a few questions about if they could be baptized again and wanted to talk to the bishop....they did and he told them that it was absolutely allowed! So the bishop set up a baptismal date for the on the 12th of April), and a member brought their friend Dina (who we are planning to invite to baptism today). There was a future missionary who leaves on Wednesday who talked about the story of Ammon and the sons of Mosiah, he shared a great scripture, "Now these sons of Mosiah were with Alma at the time the angel first appeared unto him; therefore Alma did rejoice exceedingly to see his brethren; and what added more to his joy, they were still his brethren in the Lord; yea, and they had waxed strong in the knowledge of the truth; for they were men of a sound understanding and they had searched the scriptures diligently, that they might know the word of God. But this is not all; they had given themselves to much prayer, and fasting; therefore they had the spirit of prophecy, and the spirit of revelation, and when they taught, they taught with power and authority of God.
Afterwards we held the Gospel Principles class where we were talking about the offices of the Priesthood....and half way through, Ivette looked out the window, stood up and walked outside. A couple of minutes later she walked in hand-in-hand with her husband, Pablo. Elder Hughes and I just turned to each other and said "No way!"
There were so many miracles that I could tell you that happened this week....but I would never have enough time in the world to finish writing it just know that the Lord is pouring out blessings upon us here in Zona Utatlan and as the South Mission...and that April will be a great month.
Cool missionaries in my Zone

Happy Easter!
Apple Store

outside my apartment

outside my apartment

Monday, March 23, 2015

Week 87: Apostles and Miracles...‏

The weeks just seem to be going by faster and faster....I can't even start to believe that this week has already ended....and yet, here we are! The good news is that I recovered quickly from my previously mentioned illness. It was nothing a good nap and some Cup Noodles couldn’t fix. By the next day I was back into action and ready to go and conquer the world. a way, we did just that.
On Tuesday we had a companionship study with the assistants, which was very interesting. We talked about the state of the zone and what we were going to do to make sure that everyone stayed excited and happy...because of everyone in our zone 3 people go home this change and 2 next change. 
So...that's fun. After that we went out to the district meetings that we had in the Stake Center. I stuck with "Distrito Utatlan" and we talked about retention, and what we would do to strengthen the recent converts that hadn't been coming to church in every area. We were actually able to see a lot of good feedback to that, as the retention in the Zone jumped up 30%. This last week they baptized 4 in that district, Hermana Rosio and her two children in Utatlan, and Amarillis in Monte Verde...which was two families!
We are seeing some great miracles in our zone.
Another highlight was that on Wednesday we had a conference with Elder Neil L. Anderson of the Quorum of the 12 apostles. It was truly a blessing to be able to hear his voice and be able to know what his revelation was for the missionary work here in Guatemala. He talked a lot about how the majority of people here have faith in Jesus Christ already...but they don’t understand the importance of the Atonement, and the key points in the doctrine of Christ's earthly ministry. How the people here need to know that they are descendants of the house of Israel and the literal seed of Joseph, Ephriam and Manasses. He expressed to us the importance of memorizing 10 scriptures in the Book of Mormon and 10 in the New Testament in Spanish to be able to quote in lessons. How the Book of Mormon  teaches about the atonement of Christ better than any other book.

I felt so much power when he, himself started to quote scriptures and the very words of Christ, "I am the resurrection and the life," and how studied he truly was in the scriptures.
It was a fantastic multi-mission conference, and I really felt the effect during the whole week. On divisions with Elder Warth and Elder Vijil I also saw a lot of miracles in my area and also in theirs. We have been focusing a lot more on trying to testify as much as we can.... explaining doctrinal topics with as much clarity as possible.
In doing so I have just felt liberated....I love to testify to everyone that I know that this is the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth. I feel that the more that I say it to people the better I feel and the more progress I have seen personally.
So that was fun. Things are great here I love you all and hope you have a great week!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Week 86: Meet the (future) Mormons‏

Another week brought with it, new stories and new adventures. Everything went smoothly and gently until the weekend where everything got turned on its head. Tuesday and Wednesday were relatively calm, everything went according to plan, Elder Hughes and I just worked our heads off until we were both completely exhausted. We visited Katty quite a few times, Elder Hughes and his last companion visited her a lot during the last change. She has been very well prepared, but as of late she started to feel afraid to be baptized. When I came to Castillo Lara, she had a baptismal date for the 14th...but now she was feeling second thoughts. On Monday, we visited her with the YM's and the YW's presidencies to see what we could do. After an hour-long lesson we came to the conclusion that she should just pray to decide what day to be baptized.
Tuesday and Wednesday passed by and we still had no answer.
On Thursday we went on divisions with the Assistants of the mission. So I packed up my toothbrush and headed over to Guajitos II (arguably the most blessed area of the whole mission) with Elder Pugmire. After stopping for foot-long subs at Subway, he told me that the goal for the day was to do 100 door contacts and to talk to talk to every family that we saw during the whole day. It was really hard to reach, but we wasted no time in starting to try to get to it. After a good 5 hours of knocking on doors, we had found 4 new investigators and had 3 lessons. We only got to 82 door contacts but we saw a lot of miracles during the day that it made up for everything. We found 2 families that both looked incredibly receptive!
So, all in all it was a success.

The next day we headed off to my stake center in Utatlan, driving in the truck that I used to drive during my time in the office (nostalgia to a T) for our Zone Conference. There, Elder Hughes told me that he and Elder Wilcock had an incredible lesson with Katty, who made the decision to be day. So we had a lot on our plate for the day and it was only 8 in the morning. The conference we had was awesome, we learned a lot about faith and how we could change the world one area at a time. It was great. At the end we watched the movie Meet the Mormons which was great. It was interesting to see how far the church has progressed and the way how people all around the world practice their faith.
Afterwards, I went on divisions AGAIN in my area with Elder Ogden, so that we could get the baptismal interview done.
And then...that night I got really...deathly ill.
Turns out that the food that they gave me in the zone conference gave me food poisioning...(I think??) and Saturday and Sunday were both spent in my bed, trying to heal from really bad stomach pains...and vomiting.
That's never fun.
This morning I felt better but....
On the bright side, Katty Martinez got baptized on Saturday! It was fantastic, after her baptism she participated in the ward missionary activity that we had on Sunday and then tomorrow she has plans to go to seminary....

Cool beans. is good, aside from food poisoning.
Have a great week!
-Elder Monson
P:S. we just got told that on Wednesday we will have a conference with Elder Neil L. Anderson of the quorum of the 12 in Montufar!!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Week 85: 200 or Bust!‏

Monday only seemed to consist of saying goodbye to all of the people of Panorama and trying not to get baggy because of it. I was able to pass by the houses of a couple members and tried my best to just make the whole ordeal as quick a possible....but everyone just wanted to give us food and wanted to sit and chat for a it went all the way until 9:30. Once we got back home I started packing...a project that lasted until a little bit past midnight, and after I felt floored, I retired to my bed and awaited the change meeting of the next day.

Even though our taxi came incredibly late, we were able to make it to the meeting just before the opening prayer. I sat down next to Elder Chunga and Elder Prestwich and awaited my fate. The meeting as a whole was very positive and uplifting, I enjoyed it a lot. President Caffaro talked about the improvements that we saw in the mission during the past change (which were many) We are closer than we have ever been since September to reaching our overall goal of 200 baptisms. It was a spiritual meeting and a great sendoff to a lot of great missionaries that have helped me a lot since the beginning of my mission, especially Elder Potter, who's testimony that he bore at the very end truly left an impact on my heart and the hearts of those present.
Then, just as always, one by one they named off the changes, area by area, zone by zone, familiar and unfamiliar faces all filed out to their new areas with their new companions.
And so, that was when they sent me to Castillo Lara in Zona Utatlan with my new companion Elder Hughes. I was so excited to hear the change that I jumped out of my seat, all ready and willing to go off to a new area and have a new adventure. There were only two changes in our whole zone, myself and that in Kaminal Juyu, Hermana Campbell (from my last district) went to be in a trio with two other Sister Missionaries (Hermana Pantoja and Hermana Mansell).
We then went to my new area. My new comp, Elder Hughes, is from Mesa Arizona, he has been in the mission for 21 months and is a really great missionary. I am learning a lot from his great example of faith and diligence.

From there the week just sort of went by with a blur, going on divisions with my new District Leader, Elder Refuerzo from Alaska. In the area of Centroamerica. And on Friday we had a big meeting with President Caffaro and the AP's, they talked a lot about the faith and the statistics to be able to achieve our overall goal of 2 baptisms in every area every month and 200 baptisms as a mission. It really helped me to put things in perspective and gave me the energy and the faith to be able to go and try to help the mission to achieve our overall goal!
My area is very different than any of my other areas, the people are very humble and very ready to listen to the gospel, there is just a very different feel about this area. In church yesterday I could sense the love that the members all felt for each other and for the people who are investigating the church.
We brought a family to church and the members were all over them! It was great. is good, and I am just ready to go out and give it all I got this week!

Have a great week!