Wednesday, September 25, 2013

2013, September 25, Just Can't Wait to Get Into the Field

Hey guys, I CAN¨T BELIEVE YOU MET ELDER JEFFERY HOLLAND! I’m so jealous, we watch his devotionals all the time here at the CCM and he has a spiritual presence that is like no other.  Look up the devotional about checking your religion at the door at Dixie college.  [Elder Holland's Talk he is referring to is here:].  What did it feel like to meet him?

I can’t wait to leave this spiritual prison!  haha we call it that because we grow so much but we can’t leave this gated community!

My Spanish is coming along and it is going well because I can kind of express myself okay through it, but I just need to improve my vocabulary.  In less than a week, I will be in the field.  I am kind of nervous for the field because I don’t want a trainer companion that is lazy or impatient, or is hard to get along with because I will be stuck with the guy for 3 months!  It’s okay though, because the Lord knows all of us and if that is his will, then so be it, because He knows I have to learn something from it. 

My experience has been great at the CCM and I am glad I was sent here rather than Provo because here you are forced to speak the language whereas Provo probably only speaks it in the classroom because everyone is American there.  I just got the letters Monday, they were great!  The newsletter thing was really nifty and I enjoyed receiving the copy of my blessings.  Mail is like gold here, we only get to hear from families once a week. 

We had a devotional about courage this week and it was really pumping all the missionaries up because it was really great.  Courage is fragile, but is a strong thing.  Fragile in the way that even one small thing can break it, but strong in the way that courage can break barriers and bring many good things to come to pass.  For example one of the great examples of courage in the Libro De Mormon is Abinadi.  Abinadi in the face of death from King Noah would not renounce his religion and his teaching even until he was burned alive.  Job in the face of devastation and oppression would not renounce his faith.  Mormon the only Nephite left from a once great nation, fled from the Lamanites and survived holding and keeping the faith that one day the church of Jesucristo would once again be revived on the earth. Joseph Smith through trials and tribulations would not give up on the faith he had in the Lord.  All of these examples make me realize: would we be as courageous as these great people in the face of the same oppression?  Would we have the courage to say I believe in Lord Jesus Christ while they are lighting piles of wood on fire at your bound feet? Would you have the courage to believe: One day someone will have the faith necessary to bring this church back to the face of the earth, after seeing the nation that you once fought for, and were so righteous, be devastated and fall into wickedness? Those are some kind of far out thoughts, but today many people do not have the courage to even talk about their religion with others.  I can say that I lacked courage and had fear many times in my life, and I regret myself for having those feelings.

The mission is so great.  I love it here being able to serve others. I pray as I enter the mission field next week, that I will have courage enough to work and preach the gospel to the best of my abilities and give it my all.  I am on the Lord’s errand and on the Lord’s time so I have no desire to throw his efforts away.  President Nickolaysen told us "you are here for only 2 years, I want you to go home and be exhausted because you gave all of your heart, might, mind, body, and soul, in the service of the Lord.  I want you to go home with not a single drop of regret in your heart..." and what he said is true. 

I am glad things back home are going really well. Keep working hard in school Elijah!  I want you to do better than me!  My biggest regret from school is not doing better than I should have.  I realize now (kind of too late...) that time only passes you once, you can’t relive a moment, and you can’t go back and fix your grades from freshman year. So start early and stay ahead of the game.  I will miss my friends that I made here, but I know that I will see them again.  Most of them are going East with me anyways, and we figure some of us will probably be companions along the way.

Friday, September 20, 2013

2013, September 19 Learning to fit in

Hey guys I can’t believe it has been about a month already.  It seems like yesterday that I just left Hawaii for Guatemala.  Time goes by so fast on the mission and I can testify that when people say that it goes by real quick, they are telling the truth.  All of the missionaries here run into the same problem after the third week of not having anything to tell family because the routine is meticulous every single day. 

On Tuesday, the whole CCM got to leave to go to the center of the city and go to a park with a relief map of Guatemala.  It is a pretty amazing sight because it is a park with a 99% accurate scale map of Guatemala.  [See:]  The man that did it, went around the country on a donkey surveying with primitive equipment, and happened to get it 99% accurate.  While we were there president talked to us about how there are many theories of where the Libro de Mormon took place, but the one that most support, and that sounds and matches the best in my opinion is that it happened where we are now at this moment.  At the relief map he showed us where possible locations of cities in the Libro de Mormon could have been, such as the city of Nephi, and Zarahemla.  It is really interesting.  Speaking of Libro de Mormon, I am almost done with it, I started when I got here and I am just finishing Alma.  I feel so blessed to be able to serve and walk among the descendents of the Lamanites.

After the relief map, we went to the Mercado de central Guatemala.  The mercado is a 3 floor parking structure that is converted to a market.  The bottom floor is Guatemalan crafts etc. , the second floor is food with meat hanging in the open and fruits galore, and the third floor is things tourists would want to buy like bags, clothes, accessories, etc.  It was fun, and we got to see a lot of things.  There were people preaching on the second floor so we tried to avoid that, but it was fun seeing all the flies buzzing around the meat and blood stains in the back.  We are told that we are not allowed to drink water, or eat food here unless it is packaged or from a trusted source such as fast food.  But the church pays someone that is trusted to clean and cook food well and in the field we go to that person’s house and eat our meals there.  The mercado was kind of a letdown for me because I thought that they would have some cooler stuff.   All the other missionaries blew their cash there.  I only bought a huge, huge Guatemala flag (about 6 feet across) for about 55 quetzals. [$6.94 US]  It originally was about 80 but I bargained, and that was fun because we would go around bargaining for things.  The elders had to stick with the sister missionaries for security reasons.  It kind of worries me for the sisters because what are they going to do when they get out in the field and they don’t have the protection.  There are some pretty sketchy people here, and they all notice us as Norte Americanos because of our light skin.  I don’t think I stand out as much, but my white shirt does.  After that we went to Wendy’s and ate lunch.

After lunch was the highlight of my day.  We got to walk around a big square with a fountain in the middle (Parque Central []) and talk to people.  So me and two other elders: Elder Riley and Elder Shiffler had a Book of Mormon and we placed it!  We walked up to a family and introduced ourselves and talked to them saying the topic: Nuestro mensaje es sobre las families, y el evangelio de Jesucristo puede bendice las familias.  They accepted the message and the book.  It is common for people here to ask how much the book costs and be hesitant because they think we want and work for money.  It is great being able to serve the people here.  I felt true happiness when we were able to share our message and place el Libro de Mormon.

My Spanish is coming along, and I have come out of that slump I had a little while ago.  I can generally say what I want to say in a lesson, but the key is just to improve my vocabulary.  Our teacher seeing that I was struggling pulled me aside and asked what was wrong and stuff and I just said I feel inadequate because my Spanish is behind those that took classes before.  So she showed me a video of a returned missionary giving advice to people like me with no experience and he served in Guatemala.  He said that the language is just a vehicle for the Holy Ghost.  The language is a tool for the missionary, but the most important and only tool you need is the spirit.  If you live constantly to be worthy of the presence of the spirit, no matter how gringo your Spanish may be, you can touch and influence investigators and inspire yourself.

Yo se que la iglesia de Jesucristo es verdadero, Yo se Jesucristo vive y Dios es nuestro amoroso padre celestial. Yo se que El Libro de Mormon es verdadero y la profeta Jose Smith tradujo el libro por medio de la poder de dios.  Yo se el espiritu santo es nuestro companero siempre! Yo se que el evangelio es una bendicion por todas personajes. En el nobre de Jesucristo Amen.

Below is the translation of his Spanish:

Mercado - Market

Nuestro mensaje es sobre las families, y el evangelio de Jesucristo puede bendice las familias.
- Our message is on the families, and the gospel of Jesus Christ can bless families.

Yo se que la iglesia de Jesucristo es verdadero, Yo se Jesucristo vive y Dios es nuestro amoroso padre celestial. Yo se que El Libro de Mormon es verdadero y la profeta Jose Smith tradujo el libro por medio de la poder de dios.  Yo se el espiritu santo es nuestro companero siempre! Yo se que el evangelio es una bendicion por todas personajes. En el nobre de Jesucristo, Amen.

I know that the church of Jesus Christ is true, I know Jesus Christ lives and God is our loving heavenly Father. I know that the Book of Mormon is true and the prophet Joseph Smith translated the book through the power of God. I know the Holy Spirit is our partner always! I know that the gospel is a blessing for all characters. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

2013, September 10, Doing great and learning a lot

Hey guys, how is everything? They had an earthquake here! It was pretty awesome, everything started swaying and after a while I realized I wasn’t going to faint, but it was an earthquake.  Nothing was damaged, but we had to evacuate the CCM.

The CCM routine is getting to be a little continuous, the days blur together and I don’t really know what day of the week it is unless it is Pday or Sunday.

A member of the 70 is coming to speak with us today. I don’t know his name but I will let you know later.  My Spanish is coming along slowly, but speaking to the natives is what is helping me the most. We are teaching them various lessons one to one everyday, and sometimes I get a native that speaks fast, and they say they are speaking Spanish, but it does not sound like it at all! It will get better with time I guess... I blessed the sacrament for the first time in Spanish this past Sunday, and I constantly say prayers at meetings in front of the whole CCM because my roommates are the zone leaders. 

It is funny to see what power does to a person though... when one get power, some use it to better and help the people around them.  There was a zone leader that just left last week, Elder Barlow, and I really looked up to that guy because he was in a position of power, but he was humble enough to put others before him, and push the work.  Every 2 weeks or so the Latinos get new district leaders, and we get new zone leaders, and some rise to the challenge, but others rise to the challenge of expending their power negatively.  Others don’t rise at all but complain and shirk their duties.  It has been a great learning experience for me being here in the CCM.  I get to learn how to support other leaders, and learn from the mistakes of the leaders in front of me.  Analyzing all the missionaries here, I can see and take attributes and work ethic patterns that I like from them and apply them to my life.  I guess the Lord wants everyone here to learn how to do something, and for some it might be to lead, and others to learn certain things to better their missionary work. 

I bought a shoulder bag here, completely waterproof, textile covered and holds all my books.  I also got a really nice set of leather scripture covers here that is personalized for me, and I will send a picture.  It has captain Moroni holding the title of liberty on the front, and the Hawaii Laie temple on the back with my name and mission on the front.  Really nice! 

I got my second baptism commitment from another fake investigator, but we get to teach random people off the street once a week.  Those are really fun to do because we get to see how it really is like contacting people on the street. 

The Wal-Mart trip was good, really refreshing to get out of the CCM.  We went to an old church and had deportes(sports) for a couple hours, then we went to Wal-Mart.  I bought some sticky tabs for the Spanish scriptures so I know where to turn to for  each lesson, 2  tide-to-go pens that I use whenever there is a fresh stain from food or something, and that’s it. 

After that we went to a mall and ate lunch.  The boys in the district ate so much! Everything is so cheap here, I only spent about 10 US dollars and I had a whopper with fries, 2 mcdoubles, and a frosty, baconator, and fries from Wendy’s.  Hey don’t judge me! They don’t feed us lots here in the CCM! I lost about 10 pounds and I am trimming down.  I went down 2 notches on my belt.  They have weights here to work out and such and I am working my legs.

I am glad that I am here. It was a shock at first having to do everything myself such as laundry and keeping track of my stuff, but I am doing really great here.  The laundry room equipment sucks here, but it gets the job done.  The dryers don’t work good, so I have to air dry my clothes in my room. I heard that we pay an endowed temple member to do our laundry in the field because it saves time, and gives them a source of income.  I wash my neck till it is raw because I don’t want dirty necks on my white shirts, but sometimes it shows up so I dunno how to cure that.  Some of the guys here have bleach and use it on the neck before throwing it in the wash, but I try to scrub it out because it isn’t really that bad. I am learning how to budget here.  I haven’t spent much of my American money and I still have about 130 of the 200 you sent me with.  I can’t wait for the market, everyone has some cool stuff from there.

The gospel blesses all those who come unto it and hear it! I love teaching the gospel, even though sometimes I don’t know what they or I am saying.  There is a reason I am here, I don’t know it yet, but there is a reason.  To be honest and I don’t think that this is a bad thing, but my days here are so packed and we do something from the time we wake up to the time we go to sleep, so I don’t really have time to worry about anything else. I like it that way because time flies and I really enjoy what I do.  It is inspiring because when they say to lose yourself in the work, it really is worth it. Almost all the Hispanic missionaries, and teachers here are converts and it is so inspiring when they share their story about how a gringo like me come into their home and even though they don’t speak good English, through the spirit they were able to convert lives.  The Holy Ghost is my best friend, and I would not know what I would do without it.

2013, September 10, My district and others at the CCM

Here is my district and group photos of the missionaries here.

Back Row, L-R:  Hermana Robertson, Hermana Holloway, Hermana Windsor, Hermana Allen (nurse for coban), Hermana Potrie, Hermana Call, Hermana Bruno (Nuestro Maestra), Hermana Wilcoxen, and Hermana Cadwell

Front Row: Elder Tupou, me, Elder Callaway, and Elder John aaron Gutierrez

2013 September 3, Life at the CCM

Hey guys glad to hear that you guys are doing good! I am doing well here too, but like dad said, things are starting to get a little rougher.  The greenie effect is wearing off and I am getting used to the fact that I am here for four more weeks, but two days ago I just hit a wall with the Spanish.  haha I know it is going to be hard but I was doubting myself that night... questions like why am I here, I am so unqualified in Spanish to do this, or I’m never going to learn the language, but I thought about it as I went to sleep that night, and I just remembered what Jason said about you will have days that are good and days that will treat you like hell, but you need to work through it and man up.  So I am really hitting the books in Spanish language and study as well as the Libro De Mormon.  My roommate is the district leader so my companion and me pray at a lot of the meetings either opening or closing.  I guess I am doing okay, because before this week I didn’t know a lick of Spanish, but I just have to keep working. 
You know how I told you about that investigator we placed the book of Mormon with? Well he committed to baptism on the 15th! Too bad at the CCM they find it funny to pair you up with a so called real investigator and make you think the whole time that you are potentially saving a soul.  Noel Rivera is my new teacher.  We taught him for a full week and got him to commit to baptism, and we were so happy and elated that we found someone to baptize!   But when he came in the room one night, we asked what he was doing and he said that we were teaching him and that let him get to know us for the rest of the time at the CCM.  So don’t tell Elijah this because they might do this when he goes on his mission.  You don’t want to know if he was fake because everything you feel when teaching him is real.  I felt true genuine love for him as we taught, all the times we were teaching and felt the spirit, the feelings we got from teaching were all so real.  I was so happy and excited that I would be feeling like that and teaching with that kind of conviction, that when they broke the news that our investigator wasn’t real, I wasn’t mad or confused at all because that exercise was one of the greatest they could have done for me.  That solidified my thoughts on the kind of work I am doing, and how I will feel when doing the actual thing. 
The food here is great.  The gringos kinda are hesitant to eat some things but I just gobble it up!  They give you the option of ice cream after every meal, and the food is good.  The juice is the real culprit in the cafeteria though.  It is pure juice from mangoes etc. and it is only the juice and water.  The first few days was good drinking the juice because it’s tasty, but all at once everyone except the hispanos gets niagra falls coming out of their anus!  I would sit in class and end up running to the bathroom, and sit down just in time for a tsunami of diarrhea to come out..  My poop is starting to solidify now though.
It feels a little like I am in jail here.  We stay in the CCM all day and never leave except for field trips, temple, and email.  The people here are friendly and good though.  That is funny that you found her {Sister Robertson] blog.  She sits right across from me in class. I feel so inadequate to be here right now, but I know that in time I will get the language.  We go to Wal-mart tomorrow so I will buy the stuff. 
The days are starting to melt together.  I don’t know how to explain how time goes on a mission.  Sometimes you sit in class and feel like time is going slow, and then at the end of the day you can’t remember what you did that morning because it went so fast.  Or another way to say it is the days go fast but the weeks go slow.  It feels like ages since I left Hawaii and it has only been 2 weeks. You wake up and it feels like you just went to sleep.  The hardest part of my day is 3-6 pm because I hit a wall of tiredness.
I look at everything with a different perspective now... I don’t know if it is all of this spirituality, but I am just really happy all the time.  No matter how tired I am or what I am doing, I am happy.  I love it here, there is nothing else I would rather do now than to be here.  I can’t wait to get out into the field and serve the people of Guatemala. 
I gave my first blessing yesterday.  A sister in our district needed comfort and asked me for a blessing.  I was nervous but I managed to say the right thing in the beginning, but what happened after was such a powerful experience.  After I said the opening it was like I went on autopilot.  I don’t know how to describe it, but I said things that I never expected to say, and said things that I never planned or even thought I could come up with.  After I closed,  I was so amazed because I never had that kind of thing happen to me before.  I feel honored to have the priesthood because it is there to help and serve others.
It is really interesting that you would bring the topic up about how I will be working among the descendants of the people of the Libro De Mormon.  We watched a video about Central America and all of the proof and evidence that they have that proves that the Libro De Mormon took place here.  They talked about the possible locations of different cities from the Libro De Mormon, the river Sidon, the narrow neck of land etc. and it is really interesting.  I feel so blessed to be able to preach and walk among the people and on the land that the Libro De Mormon took place. 
I love You guys and I know that I am doing the Lords work!  haha find something to do on Saturdays!  Don’t worry about me, I am learning and growing in ways that no other experience on earth could teach me!  Tell everyone that I said Hi.  Like I said: start preparing now. I wish I could go back and change so many things in my life.
 I never realized this until now, but I know for a fact that daily scripture study, and prayer, will effect your day in no other way.  To have the Holy Ghost with you all the time is a great blessing. When I am teaching, it is so much easier to talk with the guidance of the spirit because things just come to you. I challenge you to read the Libro De Mormon all the way through, and to build your testimony. You will feel great happiness in the gospel.  I Love You Guys!

2013, August 27, We have landed

Guatemala is great! I love it here! all of the missionaries are cool, and loving.  The hispanos are great too! it is funny because the norte americanos don't know sometimes what they are saying.  The first day here was so hard.  Not in a bad way, but because it went so slow.  I guess the plane ride and traveling all day did the damage.  [They picked us up at the airport in a chicken bus.  We put all of our junk in the back and we piled in a school bus.]  The CCM is really good, and it hasn't really sunk in that we are Guatemala because of the zone that we are in.  All around the CCM they have big buildings and the city is modernized, however once we leave the CCM everything else outside is ghetto.  I feel like a prisoner here too! For safety reasons etc.  we are not allowed to leave the CCM unless we are going to the email lab, or to the temple.  The CCM is surrounded by armed guards, tall fences and walls, and cameras everywhere. 
My first companion is from Alaska.  His name is Elder Joshua Tupou, and he is tongan.  I feel like we were meant to be together because i am familiar with his culture and we both are gringos when it comes to the Idioma. 
What is funny is that everyone here at the CCM has had at least a year of Spanish background.  I have asked everyone and they all have some kind of language background.  I feel so inadequate when it comes to the language, but what is happening in the CCM is a miracle.  I am able to carry on a basic conversation in Spanish now, pray, and testify in Spanish! 6 days before this I would not have thought that this would be possible! There are so many phrases and ways to use words, but I have been picking up quickly and can kind of make out what the Hispanos are saying. The trick is responding though! 
I HAVE PRAYED MORE THAN I HAVE EVER HAD IN MY LIFE! everything I do I seem to be praying, whether it be to start a meeting, eating, before sleeping, companionship study, or even praying constantly in my mind to have the right words brought to me, I always am praying here. 
The flight here had about 27 elders & hermanas.  They split our flight into 2 districts and I am in the Daniel district.  There are 2 elders here from SOAR.  Elder Gutierrez & Elder Harris.  I am glad I know at least some people here.  The first day here we received the placa or nametag.  When receiving the placa I almost started to cry because I felt so overwhelmed.  Here I am in a foreign country, speaking a different language, and I finally get the placa: something that I have been wanting, and preparing for my whole life.  I am now a representative of Jesucristo, and I needed to shape up and act like it.  I find it weird, but every elder and hermana I ask say the same thing, and they say that when it comes time to work, from the start of personal study in the morning, until time to wind down, at 930 at night, we don't really worry about outside things.  I think it is because we are so overloaded here with el idioma y el evangelio, but i know that this is the work that i have to focus on.
My daily habits are changing so rapidly! I wake up at 630 right on the dime... I don't know how, but I do.  No matter how tired I am the night before, I wake up right at 630.  My study habits are improving because they HAVE TO! I wouldn't be progressing if I didn't change. The studying of the materials they give you help you out a ton, but then again I feel like it comes down to prayer always. 
 My roommates are the zone leader and his companion, and a pair of hispanic elders.  The hispanos are on a 2 week CCM program so we get new ones every 2 weeks.  The dormitories are good, and spacious, but i can testify that all missionaries are crazy! We don't have an outlet to put our energy so we end up going crazy at night, it is like a party on the 2 nivel from 930 to 1015.  It is hard being a gringo here, but it is universal to have fun.  The Hispanos know me and my companion as elders Hawaii & Tonga.  They go Hawaii! in the hallways. 
 I have fallen in love with el evangelio! I don't know why, but no matter what is going on whether I am stressing about the language or how we are going to teach, I always feel happy beyond belief.  I have never been this happy in a while.  I love the things we do here. We are here to change lives! The second day here we received an investigator to teach. His name is Noel Rivera.  He is a intern here at the CCM for engineering, because the whole building is going through renovations.  He is a cool guy, and knows a little English.  He is from a catholic background, and just wants to know more of the church because he thinks anything of Dios es Bien.  So the first lesson we talked with him, and got to know him, and we taught him about the apostasy, and how the catholic church fits in the history pertaining to the apostasy etc.  We are basically answering questions, and reacting to his thoughts.  Many people here stress having a set plan for teaching. but my companero and I have found that we should prepare a lesson, but go in there with flexibility because we are there to teach people, not lessons.  So with hermano Rivera we just go in there and react to him, and integrate our plans while doing that.  The second lesson with him, the spirit was so strong! We went in there and talked about the restoration, and how the el libro de Mormon was translated by Jose Smith. And then I placed my first El Libro De Mormon! It was a very good experience. The Third day and I placed a book of Mormon without leaving the CCM haha that was funny for my companion and I.  We are working with him, and I he is contemplating baptism.  The weird thing is, that we have to turn him over to his area missionaries for baptism. 
All in all everything here is great, the food, the people, and the place. [The advice from the senior missionaries here is good, and i am getting the hang of things!]  it was hard to leave but I'm doing GREAT! Don't worry about me, I am in God's hands! 
Yo se que El Libro De Mormon es verdadero. Yo se que mi padre celestial es amoroso y Jesucristo es el salvador de el mundo. Yo se que el evangelio es verdadero! En el nombre de Jesucristo Amen!