Monday, January 31, 2011

2 Baptisms!

Hey everyone! First off I got Brad and Michelle's package. Thank you so much you two, I loved all of it. Thank you Dan and the Bomb Squad as well. I'm sorry that I speak the english of an 8 year old, but don't worry I'm sure it will only get worse. So Mom, quickly yes the meeting was in Guatemala City and we always travel in buses, it's about an hour and a half to the city. Also that is nuts that Kory is in your ward! Tell him I say hi. He wasn't a good friend but he's a good kid, but has a hard time getting out of his shell, he told us he didn't have very many friends growing up. Just talk to him and he'll open up a little. Also I'm fine on everything, except the next time you send anything (it isn't urgent at all) I would love a bleach pen.
Okay so I'm going to fly, and once again sorry for no pictures I'm burning a disc right now to send. So yes! Dorian and Jorge were baptized and it was incredible but I'm going to start with Saturday. Saturday we had the two interviews with our district leader, and Dorian and Jorge were SO nervous. They both did great though and said that while they were both nervous they both felt ready. Jorge requested that I baptize him and Dorian wanted the member that introduced us to him, Hermano Carlos, to baptize him. So, anyways after that, we went to fill up the font, and of course (why would everything go right? that would make too much sense) there was no water because a pipe was being fixes and maitenance had used all the water to clean the chapel the day before. So, we called the bishop and asked him what we could do. He told us he would make some calls and see if he could get someone to bring water from another place in a truck. We waited a few hours and called him back. The driver of the company that could have brought it had already left for his house because he got off early. We had no idea what to do. We went and talked to the two people that were fixing the pipe on a hill above the church and they said that there would be water at 5 in the morning Sunday, so we thought everything was good and went on with our day.
We arrived at 7 in the morning on Sunday to see if there was water, and there was none. Now we really had no idea what to do. I was praying so hard that we could find a solution to this problem that seemed so stupid, but actually was very significant. The bishop made a bunch of calls to see fi there was any other options. Time kept going and we finally had to start church. I was feeling pretty bummed but 15 minutes into Sacrement Meeting my prayer was answered. The bishops wife came into sacrament meeting and told her husband the firemen had agreed to fill the tank of the church and that they would come in half an hour. And so, with two hours to go, everything was resolved, we were able to fill the font and have the baptisms according to plan. Oh except for one thing. Hermano Carlos told us that he couldn't do the baptism because he had to watch his mentally handicapped son and there was no one else to do it, so my companion was going to do it. The thing is during sacrament meeting a kid took his baptismal clothes that were in the bathroom and threw them in the toilet filled number 2 as Mom would say. So it ended up that I had to baptize the both of them.
It is always an incredible humbling experience to be the person performing an ordinance as important as baptism. The spirit was so strong, as they entered and left the water, and while they left a little colder than they entered, they were competely happy and content. Jorge has now expressed a desire to serve a mission and the both of them were asking Sunday if they needed to pay their tithing the day of their baptism. They are awesome. I was glad to hear a burning testimony of Dorian, because we were never really able to have a good discussion with him about what he felt, because of the rushed date. But, he really has a cool story that you need to remind me to write next week. They both have potential to be great leaders in the church, and the drive and desire they have to do what's right really is an example to me. They have incredible faith and I can't wait to see what happens in their future. I have a goal to keep contact with them for all of their progress in the church.
It just reaffirmed to me that this Gospel changes lives. It takes people and makes them better. It challenges them to be something more. I know it's true. I love this Gospel, and want to share it with more people. I have to go bye!

Monday, January 24, 2011

A visit from Elder Ballard!

Hello family. Guess what. Elder Ballard came to our mission and we were able to have a conference with him this week. It was incredible. I will talk about that later in the email but first, Mom´s questions as always. First off we rarely eat with members but we refaccionar with them a lot. That means we ¨snack¨ with them. Just go with it. This means eggs and beans, rolls with beans in it (I know that sounds weird but it´s pretty good), a sandwich which is a piece of ham with mayonaise and ketchup on it with another piece of bread (gross but bearable), and a lot of morcaf (a cereal coffee as it is called which is completely natural and void of caffiene, approved by President Baldwin) with sweet bread. I think it would be called sweet bread I´m not sure. Also the members are mixed. THe members of generations have many sad situations, because since the church wasn´t that strong as they we´re growing up most of them have a small part or more that are inactive, but those that are active are incredible, such as the Gonzalez family. Other than that there are a lot of converts which are really helping the ward grow in our area. THe ward is making a lot of changes that are exciting and the attendance is increasing a lot lately, I have a lot hope for the future of this ward.

Anyways, about Elder Ballard! He was amazing of course and I want to write about a few of his thoughts. He said that in our missions and in our lives, we need to CONSTANTLY have the thought in the back of our mind about how precious one soul is. This just made so much sense to me and would solve so many problems of missionaries who don´t use their time effectively. THis is a constant reminder of what are purpose is, and he told us to be thinking this in member lessons, while tracting, and after our missions while in our daily routines. I think it´s a good reminder of the missionaries we all need to be. He also shared an incredible story of the firm testimony and faithfulness of Hyrum Smith who is a direct ancestor of Elder Ballard. When Joseph and Hyrum were going to a dangerous situation I can´t remember what, Joseph told Hyrum to stay back because he knew that the mob was going to try and kill them. Hyrum responded quite frankly, ¨Joseph, I will not leave you.¨ I don´t really remember the point of the story for Elder Ballard but it reminded me of the close relationships that the gospel provides and made me extremely grateful for the family I have that I know would do the same.

Other than that he gave some incredible advice on how we need to be master teachers and always prepared, and if we´re not ready, then fix that! If the ward is working right, fix it! If something in the area is wrong, fix it! I left that meeting feeling an incredible spirit that I really had heard an apostle of the Lord. THey are so humble yet so smart and down to earth.

So with Jorge and now Dorian (yes he is going to be baptized as well) they are now going to be baptized this Sunday. I feel as if it´s a little fast considering the material we have to cover with both of them, but I can´t really do much about that. We are flying through the teaching and it feels a little uninspired to me, but they understand everything. I just hope they have firm enough testimonies to always be progressing in this gospel. Jorge I´m not worried about but as good as Dorian is he has his girlfriend in the church, so we still have to have a frank discussion with him about the hypothetical situation of if his girlfriend broke up with him, would he still have a desire to stay true to his covenants that he made at baptism. Nevertheless I´m extremely excited for what is going to happen in the end of this week. To answer your question Mom, the dad of Jorge is going to be out of town this Sunday unfortunately, but I really don´t have much control over the date of the baptism as I said because everyone (my companion, district leader, zone leaders) are pushing that they get baptized in this month. I feel as if another week of preparation would be good but I think everything will work out just fine. The gospel is incredible and I hope I am able to see Jorge serve a mission and Dorian still in the church in 3 or 4 years.

Also could someone please send me Ryan Bogg´s address at school? I would love to write that man. I say man because calling him a boy would just be an insult to the true level of his manliness.

Sorry I´m not very funny anymore. I have a hilarious story to tell you from the funniest kid in the world, Elder Richards, but I don´t have time, and the other things are probably more important. It´s hard to be funny with a smug faced companion that doesn´t like to talk. I´m just kidding he´s a good kid, but it´s just hard to laugh about things haha. I love you all and thank for your support always!

-Ben

PS Brad I should get your package this Wednesday at Zone Conference. Also sorry about no pictures, someone borrowed my cable and lost it but I´m going to be sending another CD soon.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Still in Chimaltenango!

Hola mi familia amado,
I think I just wrote hello my beloved family because in that part of the first vision it says amado for beloved, but if it doesn't translate directly it means something like that. To answer Mom and Dad's questions... Jorge has become a part of the ward group and that is why he is prorgessing so fast. There is a girl who gave him a Book of Mormon before we even taught it and by the time we got to that lesson this week he was in Alma 42. This teenager is incredible. We also taught the Word of Wisdom and he hasn't drank coffee for 2 months. I can't tell you how excited I am about the future of this kid. The best part is he has committed to baptism for the 29th and his Dad (who is a pastor) has agreed to sign his papers. He turns 18 next month but doesn't want to wait. His desire and actions speak more than his words because he has the lessons with his friend there so that's always a little harder when expressing yourself, but we can really feel that he really truly wants to know the truth and is doing everything to find it (he's already found what am I thinking?). It is so gratifying to start with someone like that and see them progress. I don't really feel like we've done much except speed the process along thank you to the members haha, but that's the way missionary work should be right? Also for Dad, the average tempeature here is around 55 or 60? I don't know that is a complete guess, but usually it is pretty hot in the day (only in the sun) and pretty cold at night, so we have to carry our fleeces in the day to wear them at night. Not as crazy as the weather in Utah, but it changes, especially in this month.

So Dad, thank you for what you have told me about my companion. As you said the change is still gradual and he still continues to get extemely mad over simple things. As many people have described to me about my companion he likes to show how he knows everything and then fight it as much as possible even when you show from a higher source why it is this way. I try to have these discussions with patience and always refer back to Preach My Gospel, but he doesn{t like to listen. He has told me in his rare moments of real communication that he likes to make small things a huge deal, and that he\'s just an angry person. It makes things hard but we're learning. I'm trying to do my best in how I handle the situations and get out of it with as little anger as possible without compromising what we should be doing. It is extemely difficult to say the least. I was reading the talk about parenting today from the last conference and the story about the Mom who didn't want her kid playing video games and the husband who went completely against what she said. I could relate to this and it was a great reminder that although after awhile it becomes easier just to give in as the Mom had said, we can't do that, we need to say what's right and work towards that, obviously in a way that isn't self righteous or demeaning. It is an extemely hard balance and I'm trying to do my best. I've heard from others that he has fought with every single one of his companions and it had been much worse with some. Not that I'm talking about him to everyone else because that doesn't help anything, but people present this information to me freely. All this brought to mind advice that Dad has always given us kids about marriage. He said we should look for someone who has the same values as you do, or as Brother Marsh taught us in Personal Finance someone that is committed to Christ. If someone is not committed to the same goals as you, it makes finding a solution extemely difficult, but if you are both committed to the same goal or committed to Christ, it makes finding solutions to differences all that much easier, although differences still exist. I'm writing all my thoughts right now and I'm sorry if this has turned into a diary type email.

Anyways the Gonzalez family who intoduced us to Jorge now has us teaching the boyfriend of one of their grandaughters. He is also extremely positive and is progressing along quickly with a goal of baptism. This family is incredible and I have really developed a testimony of the members in missionary work. It always seems easy when the members are helping you.

In light of all these good things and difficult things I just want to comment on the talk that was given by the seventy from Sweden, I can't remember his name. Anyway he said that the rest in God which is talked about in the scriptures comes about with a faith and hope in Christ in light of any situation. This advice has helped me so much. We just need to have a little perspective and know that as we do what we are supposed to, everything will work out. This is a promise and as we have faith in this promise, we will feel hope in the hardest of situations. I love this gospel and how it has changed me and many people I've seen around me. It is hard to have this hope sometimes but necessary if we want to have this rest that the scriptues talk about.

Oh yeah, I stayed in my area. Things are going well, and the bishop is making some needed changes in the ward. I'm very excited about what is happening and am trying to do all I can to make sure everything run smoothly this month. Chimaltenango is great, I love this place. I love how seeing cows herded in the street by a 10 year old with an english shirt with profanities on it (which he has yet to realize because he just bought it at the equivalent of a Goodwill) is normal. I love when people yell out Gringo and I ask them where and they look confused. I love teaching people who want to hear us, and I love doing what I'm doing. It gets hard sometimes, but I wouldn't give up this experience for anything. I love you guys and thank for all your support!

-Ben

Monday, January 10, 2011

Working hard!

Hey everyone!
The title of this email has absolutely no significance whatsoever, but it´s true. Look it up if you don´t believe me. First off, BRAD AND MICHELLE I¨M SO HAPPY FOR YOU TWO AND WILL!!!! I HOPE YOU CAN TELL BY MY ALL CAPPED LETTERS!!!! I am seriously so stoked to hear that you placed a job Brad and better yet you are in Salt Lake for when I return and keeping Grandpa company. I´m so happy. You guys rock and you are going to administrate like no one has administrated before. If you don´t... not even a possibility so I´m not going to finish this sentance.

Mom´s questions- Yes I have changes, we´ll find out tonight. I have no idea if I´ll be going anywhere, but all the Latinos think I´m going to the office because they tell that to everyone who has glasses, so I don´t think their opinion is of any value. In that matter at least, that wasn´t a racist comment. I love Latinos. Especially their mustaches. I could go to Solola (I have no idea how it is spelled because I have only heard it) which is higher in the mountains and more cold. I personally think I´ll stay here with my companion, but it´s better not to expect and just go with what happens.

This week my companion broke down and told me why he was giving me such a hard time. He told me he was having family problems and that was affecting him a lot. He also told me he was sorry for being so difficult and that he will try to do better. He also told me he wanted to hit me at one point for making a simple suggestion and that he was sorry for that haha. But he really has been trying harder in this week and we´ve beeen working so much more effectively. We still have our differences in opinion but the differences is that we can discuss it, and arrive at a decision together. I´ve learned a lot about patience this change and how to handle certain situations, and I´m glad he´s a lot happier now. He really has had a hard life and I hope his future will be brighter.

Anyways, in terms of investigators, I just have to say that our youth here in the ward are awesome. Jorge, the friend of a member who is 17 years old named Esau, is progressing quickly. What happend though is that we went to teach the Book of Mormon and found out that another youth, one of the young women, had already given him a Book of Mormon and that within 2 weeks he was within Alma. He is still young (17 as well) and doesn´t like to talk much about what he feels, especially in front of his friend in the lesson, but with reading half the Book of Mormon in 2 weeks, he obviously has a strong desire to know the truth. He is a real part of the group of friends in the church and I hope that he is baptized. Oh another thing, his Dad is a pastor. This could prove to be a problem but the fact that he doesn´t care that Jorge is attending church says a lot. He has never attended church with his Dad, so maybe he just doesn´t care much about what his kid does.

Also we have another family that we´re teaching. THe Chan family. No we are not in Japan, we are still in Guatemala. I don´t know why his name is Chan but it is. Carlos is someone who has searched for the truth a lot and is extremely intelligent. He and his wife had some problems with the Catholic church and left it because of soem doctrinal differences in their belief. They joined with and are very active in an evangelical church. This is hard, because they could be an incredible addition to the chruch because they are incredibly nice people and want to do what´s right, but they are very ingrained in the culture of their church. Carlos has some weird ideas about where authority comes from, but really what he needs to do is just sincerely pray to know what´s true. He wants to understand it logically and while it can be done, a logical testimony will never result in a lasting conversion. We also found another investigator through the members but have only taught him once named Dorian, but he has already attended and is very interested so we´ll see what happens (if I don´t have changes).

This ward is great, and I really love this little pueblo of Chimaltenango. I don´t want to leave, but we´ll see. I love you all and always thank you so much for your support (Michelle I´m a gonna write you next week). I´m hoping for some success soon, and am trying to work to make some baptisms happen. One of my goals is just to be able to have some lasting conversions which will result in generations of members. This would be so incredible and while maybe it is a little bit prideful, this is how the church will be established and I hope that we can find people to make it happen for. I love you all and will talk to next week!

-Ben

P.s we had a party on pday in antigua that was at a house that was mini america, it was nuts. i loved it.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Machete Man!

video

Here's Ben showing us the manly way to cut grass...Guatemalan style!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!


Hey Family!
It is a new year and that fact is crazy. As Dad said I´m already a fourth of the way done with my mission and that is crazy (a side note Dad thank you for making me worry about how I´ve served the first fourth of my mission haha just kidding). The mission is going fast, and I´m just trying to make the best of it. Mom´s questions- Tamales are very hard to explain... Ask Brother Benson? My companion comes from a member family but they are all inactive except for him, he worked at a club before his mission and I would say it´s a miracle he is here. Thanks to some good friends he made it on his mission and has 17 months. I asked President Baldwin for help and he sent me some good advice, but if nothing changes I have to give him a call. Also my 31st was weird and pretty normal just spent in the house. I asked my companion to wake me up to see the fireworks at 12 for a little bit and he did but after a minute of thinking about getting up I was already asleep haha.
Anyways this week was pretty good but difficult as well. We´ve pretty much all but dropped Jose because he has stopped showing up to lessons that we set. I really think Mariela is the real problem because she is says bad things about the church after we leave and now he is drinking just as much if not more than before. This devastates me mostly for the children. One day we passed by and Josselyn said her Dad wasn´t there. We said okay maybe we´ll pass by in another day, because we we´re done wasting time showing up with him. She asked in a sad voice what about tomorrow? We said maybe we´ll see, and she said in a very sad voice okay... I hope I see you tomorrow. She and her brother are incredible young kids that love to learn and love the church and I´m so sad the the decisions of their parents are going to affect their futures.
Other than that the struggle to find families has been incredibly difficult. We have contacted like crazy this week with a focus on families and no one is accepting anything. We have close to none lessons in the next few days, but we have hope that things will pick up. One bright ray of light in our week was Jorge, a teenager that has been attending church for 4 or 5 weeks now. He is good friends with all the Young Men and started coming in jeans and a t shirt but now wears a white shirt and dress pants. He´s busy so we have only had a few lessons, but he really understands well, and wants to do what is right. I really do think he´ll get baptized and since is is turning 18 next month I hope he can serve a mission. Friends of members really are the best way to find people to teach. It´s hard though because our friends sincerely don´t want to hear our message sometimes, but as long as we aren´t afraid to talk about it and try our best, we´ll see results eventually. I really have regrets about how I didn´t present the gospel to my friends more as I was younger, so to whoever is reading this never be scared to talk about the true church of Christ! That´s a lot coming from a full time missionary huh? haha.
Anyways, we´re working hard and I really hope that we will be able to find some families to teach in this week. We actually did find an inactive member and we are going to start teaching his wife and they have a kid, but again they are busy so we will see what happens. I´m trying to do my best and have faith has Dad told me, but as everyone knows the going gets rough when you don´t see results sometimes. I´m trying to have a little perspective and have been thinking a lot about how 15 years ago this Ward wasn´t a Ward and while things don´t operate perfectly what is in place is a miracle when you consider we are in Guatemala miles away from when Joseph Smith established the church. I love this Gospel and am happy to be a part of the work of bringing others to it. I love you all and enjoy the year of 2011

Love,
-Ben

P.S. That is nuts Robbie is home. Tell him I say hi!



Sunday, January 2, 2011

Hey Family!
I can´t tell you how good it was to talk to everyone, even though it was one of the hardest things I´ve ever had to do to hang up. I feel like we barely talked about anything, but I hope you liked what we did talk about. Also, sorry if I talked too much, I wanted to answer more questions but that time just flew by. Also I don´t think I said thank you for the packages! Thank you so much for everything, they we´re incredible, and a reminder that my Mom knows me all too well (as well as the rest of the family). One thing though that was a surprise to me as well, they have spicy ramen in the markets here, the exact same thing that we buy. It´s actually more common. Thank you none the less haha. I´ve already enojoyed my jump rope, peanut butter, and much of the candy, and my stomach in turn is not doing too well, but that´s what I get.
Mom, my companion was in the other room when we were talking, but he can´t understand english except for very few words, and the word companion is extremely similar in spanish, so all latinos can understand that. He apparently asked his family not to send anything, and yes was able to talk to a few of them. His whole family is seperated and lives in different places. He lived by himself for 2 years before his mission. He was sad because his Dad was drunk when he called him, but was happy to talk to his Mom. I felt a little uncomfortable opening the packages and am trying to share with him but he doesn´t like to recieve ¨sympathy¨ as he sees it, so he just takes it sometimes without saying anything and other times no.
Anyways Christmas was really fun here! We we´re able to eat tamales at the houses of pretty much everyone we visited so I was stuffed the entire day. We visited Jose and played Don´t eat pete with his family and shared something with them before we ate something with their family. He went all of Christmas Eve and Christmas without drinking which is a miracle, but then drank the next 2 days. We don´t know what do because hs progress is slowing, but we´will see. Anyways we also visited a lot of members and ate at their houses and tried to bring some Christmas cheer into their homes with our cute missionary faces. I looked in the mirror and I think it´s safe to say with assurety that we did just that. We we´re also able to find a few new people to teach and we are hoping that they can progress. The area here is for sure a little harder, because people are set in there ways, but we are working hard to make something happen. I hope and pray that as we work hard that we´re going to see some success in January. Merry Christmas to all, I love you, and I hope you enjoy your break.
Love,
-Ben
Hey Everybody!
This week was really good but hard at the same time just because of the shift in everyone´s schedules with Christmas festivities. Almost all say that they will have time in January to meet but this week they are busy. So that´s been hard because so many of our lessons have fallen. Also Jose wasn´t able to make it to church this week because when we passed by his house Sunday, he was extremely drunk. He was really honest with us when he was drunk and said two things that we´re very interesting (I´m glad he´s not an angry drunk). He said first htat he had a lot of respect for me because I continued to return, I don´t know why he said that specifically but he tried to point at me when he said it and almost got his finger pointed in my direction. Second he told us that his wfie does not like the things we teach. I honestly think she is a big part of the problem right now, because she talks him down and always talks about his drinking problem instead of supporting him and telling him he can overcome it. I think we´re going to have a serious talk with her and ask her what she believes our intentions are coming to their house and teaching them. She just has to open up a little bit, but I don´t know what will do it. The good thing this week with him was that we were able to have a family home evening with his family and make rice krispy treats whcih they really enjoyed. They have a great family, just a lot of problems to overcome. It´s been a good lesson for me in agency, and I hope that Jose can trust the Lord to help him overcome this. Please pray for them as we will be doing.

One thing that was an incredible success this week was the activity of our Gospel Principles teacher, Anna Lucia. She is a convert that is married to the first counseler of the bishopric and is incredible. The topic for the class 2 weeks ago was service, so she set up a whole activity with us, our recent converts of a year, and our investigators to go to a resting home in Antigua and give them something small and sing songs. It was really incredible to sit there and talk with these old Guatemalans that really have nothing, most of their family is dead or has basically abandoned them, and all they have is the resting home. It was funny to hear their excitement about their room that they had and hear them tell me about it because that´s really all they have to talk about. I love just visiting with people who just need to talk to someone, because you know they are incredibly lonely. But of course because it was a resting home for old people, all of them weren´t quite there. One of them called me Elder José Smith (I´m sure he had past experiences with the church) and another old lady couldn´t stop talking about how I was good looking for a Gringito (literal translation, little gringo or little white kid from the States). She said that I need to leave my wife (?) and make a night visit to her. Assuming she meant that in the worst way possible, I just awkwardly laughed and left the room, knowing that she probably didn´t have the most moral past if she was saying stuff like that in her crazed state.

Ana, one of our investigators and the girlfriend of a member who was inactive, was able to attend the activity and we can tell it really impacted her. The sad part with them (the husband´s name is Pedro) is that they live together and really want to get married. Pedro has a desire to come back to the chruch but with Ana. He has even started paying his tithing which is incredible. The problem is that she is already married to someone who lives in the States. This complicates things but we think it´s possible to divorce without the permission of her husband here in Guatemala because they´ve been seperated for so long, but it will still be a long process. We´re still teaching them though, and Ana is awesome. She has such a desire to know everything (she brings a notebook to church to write down her questions and what is being taught, an example to the rest of the members in the church right? haha) and I really hope that the Lord will prepare the way for them to be an eternal family because they really are incredible people, with pure intentions. She is now more active than many of the active members. She attends all the activities and everything, she´s awesome.

Anyways things will pick up for sure in January, I know it. I love Christmas time and being on a mission really brings the importance of it into perspective. The importance of the Savior´s life that he willingly gave in his perfect obediance to the Father. Enjoy it everyone! I love you all and hope that you are doing well. Sorry that letters are still slow in coming, I´m slowly getting through them, but thank you for the support everyone. The church is true, and this gospel changes lives. I love sharing it and while it´s hard, I wouldn´t be doing anything else right now. Please keep me in your prayers!

-Ben