Hey guys how is everything? I got my first assignment to the zone Atlantico (18 I think...) Palencia. It is just what I wanted! It is just what I envisioned Guatemala to be. Palencia is a huge, huge area in the mountains right out of the Capital. My first companion, and trainer (Dad) is Elder Ky Dennis Trupp (FB him). He is a really cool guy from Ashton, Idaho, and he is about 13 months into the mission. He is going up to BYU-I after the mission.
Palencia is one of the top 3 biggest areas in the mission to cover because it used to be 2 big areas, but they closed one and merged it into ours, and there is only us up here in the mountains. We walk everywhere, and catch chicken buses, and ride with other members. I am trimming down quick here because of all the walking. Our apartment is really humble but better good enough for what we need. I am so thankful to the Lord for letting me be able to come here. The area reminds me so much of Peacock flats except with tin roof, dirt floor, cinderblock wall houses about 50-100 yards apart. There is a lot of ranching going on up here with corn and stuff and the members are cool. The members are good, but they are kind of reluctant to help us out with missionary work. They will give you a ride, but won't go out with you to visit. The stars are amazing here, and I like it because you don't breath the fumes of cars and busses all day long.
The situations here are so humbling. Seeing people live this way was hard for me the first few days because I did not think people could have this kind of poverty and lifestyle, but what I really like and what I have come to learn is that you need to be thankful for what you have, thankful to wake up another day, thankful to have a casa (house), thankful to have your family, and thankful for work. The people here do not have much, but they find comfort in having everything in their families, and relationships with others.
Almost everyday we eat lunch at Hermana Jackie's house, she is a single mother raising 4 children. The first day in the field Elder Trupp and I hit the pavement as soon as I got there, and walking up the mountain on the road, he asked me: “are you ready to climb the steps to Mordor?,” and then we hiked. Really we hiked, up the side of the mountain in our white shirts and ties on a dirt path to see members in the forest. He tells me that this area is hard, but a good area. People are reluctant to let you into their houses, but when you do get in, many are receptive to the gospel.
So on my 4th day in the field I experienced my first crazy story! We were in the house of a man and he was sick so we gave him a blessing, and after the blessing we sat and talked with him. He started crying and said: Tengo una problema (I have a problem). Then after that I didn't understand what he said because the language they taught me in the CCM is way different than from what they speak in the field! So I sat there and the man poured out his heart and I watched my companion listen to him and Elder Trupp was stone-faced the whole time so I didn't know what was going on. I said the closing prayer and we left, and as we were walking down the dirt road away from his house Elder Trupp turned to me and said: “I don't think we are going back to that house again”. So I asked why, and he said: the man we just talked to said that last night he fired 5 shots at another man right outside of the house and hit him in the chest. Ha-ha that is Guatemala for you!
Oh, I almost forgot, but the day we left the CCM we stayed the night in another area as a CCM group and got to tract with elders in Zona 18, Alameda. I tell you that the mission really does know how to break in elders... that was one of the sketchiest nights of my life, and probably won't be my last. Ha-ha it is crazy here, not as much in Palencia, but in Guatemala in general.
The way we get our monthly allowance is through a debit card they give us, about 1850Q a month. We pay 100Q to the lunch lady, and 120Q to the lavanderia (laundry lady).
All of the gringos got to go to the stake center and watch conference in English, and I really enjoyed it. I have the regret of not paying attention better to watch the conferences in my past. Almost all the missionaries go crazy on their missions and they say that conference is what keeps them in there. We all gathered around a small TV and ate snacks. I love it here. The mission is hard, but I know that it is worth it. I love you guys and have a great week!
Some last minute things:
- Mail is so slow here so I might not get mail for a few weeks
- I don’t need anything; surprisingly they have a lot of American stores so no need packages
- Tell uncle mark and them Hi for me!