Thursday, April 28, 2011

So happy to be a missionary!

Hello Pearson Family,
I don´t have a whole lot of time, but I would just like to say that I am very excited to talk to you guys on Sunday and I´m going to try to talk less so we can have more questions back and forth. Let´s make it a good call. The next one, it´ll be Christmas, how nuts is that?

Anyway, as I wrote in the subject, my companion is by far my favorite that I have had yet. We can always joke around, but we work very hard, and have the same intentions which makes things so much easier. We don´t have very many people progressing amazingly right now, but we have a few potentials that just need to take initiative to know and they will be ready.

We had our Zone Conference this week and that is always really good. I have a friend in my district that is has become one of my best friends here. His name is Elder Patterson and is a hard worker but has my same sense of humor so we get along really well. It´s good to be able to talk to him, because there is really a lack of drive or motivation in our district. It just feels kind of blah, but what makes me happy is that it´s not like that in my companionship. Anyways apart from being able to talk and hang out with Elder Patterson, the conference is always a good booster. We were able to watch a devotional by Elder Holland that he gave in the MTC in January that was very powerful. Did he work with words in his career before? Because he is just a wordsmith. Anyway, he talked about the importance of giving ourselves to this work, of really seeing these investigators as people, seeing them as people and thinking about how this message and help them in their specific situation and then apply that message to them.

He also talked about how we have come on our mission, but that doesn´t mean that we just go home and have done our part. He gave the example of Peter, when after the death of Jesus he didn´t know what to do, so he told the disciples, ¨Let´s go fish.¨ After they had been fishing they saw the Savior now resurrected (? it looks different in spanish) Peter jumped out of the boat and swam to the shore to greet Jesus. When he got there, the Savior asked him ¨Peter, do you love me?¨ He responded yes. Jesus asked him again if he loved him, he said yes. Jesus then told him ¨Then feed my sheep.¨ Elder Holland related this to how we need to give up our ¨old life of fishing¨ and never leave this truth that we are teaching. He said we need to convert ourselves so thoroughly that we will be able to convert others here in our mission, and after stay converted for the rest of our lives.

While he did that much more eloquently than I did, it was a very good talk that really made me think. I´m grateful for living prophets and apostles of God who direct this church. I can´t imagine how people have comfort in the fact that just the Bible is the word of God (something I here everyday) because I for one would be completely lost with just the text of the Bible. God loves us enough to give us people to guide us in everything we do if we are willing to listen. This is another testimony to me of how true this is.

Anyways, I´m loving life, working hard, and trying to make you proud. Congrats Brad and Anne on graduating!


Hey everybody,

First off Mom, Elder Sarita comes from a family that is half active. His mom is very active and a temple worker, but both of his sisters have fallen away from the church and one of them is a single mother with a child. His dad died 6 months before he came on his mission. It was actually pretty sad because he was the one to find his Dad when he died. Anyway it´s easy to see that his mom was always a good example and a big reason that he came back into the church.

Okay this week was very good. I recieved the letters from the Stanburys , and Timothy, no there is not a dictator in Guatemala, but it is very corrupt. Solid question though, we always have to look out for the dictators in the world... I´ll keep my eye out for you alright? Also I have gotten to know Elder Sarita al lot better. He is a very driven Elder who really worries about making sure he is doing what is right. It really is so nice not to have to worry about obedience or getting along with your companion and being able to focus on working. It really makes such a difference. The first few days were a little weird because he is opinionated about some things and would just do things without consulting me at all haha, but we´ve talked a lot about talking about things and we´re both really happy working together.

We were able to find 3 families this week which we are very excited about and we will see if it goes anywhere with them. I was so happy to see that of the 3 people who we went to visit less active members in the Relief Society this Sunday (other than the presidency) 2 of them were Alba Lopez and Blanca Olivares. This actually is really sad because everyone was invited to go, and in general here in Guatemala, very very few people visit other members, whether it be for visiting or home teaching or just to support people. It made me happy and sad to see that the 2 recent converts were being an example to the rest of the members in the ward. We have a strong ward here, but I think I´ve forgotten what I really strong ward is like.

Also this week we´ve been working with the Alba´s daughter Evelyn. She has become very interested in the church after seeing the change that the baptism has made in her mom. We have taught her a couple times and she herself has changed a lot in only a week. She is someone that is very bitter about somethings and very negative, but we have seen almost none of that side of her in this week and reminds me that those who are willing to change, can. She has so many questions including, ¨when can I get baptized?¨ so I think she will be getting baptized the 15th of May. She really hasn´t had any big doubts about the church but her hardest thing will be keeping the commitments and keeping some of the commandments. She said she´ll prepare for that date though so we are very happy with that.

I just want to write real quick about how gratfying this work can be. I´ve never seen people change so fast, as I have here in my mission. Those who are seeking truth can find it, and it can change them if they let it. I have a very strong testimony of that which grows everytime I have an experience with a new investigator. I love this gospel. Especially for my easter letter I want to write that I´m very grateful for Jesus Christ and what he has done for me. I love you all and everything is going great!


Catch Up on letters!

Hello my dear parents, brothers and sisters,

First off I just want to let you know that Elder Cruz left and that I´m here in Linda Vista still with my new companion Elder Sarita from the Dominican Republic. He´s a good guy, and contrary to what the other missionaries thought, I did not become financial secretary. Take that other missionaries.

To answer your questions, yes the 9 year old GIRL was baptized and is doing well. Also Alba is the only member in her church and she was referral from some of the members that live on her street. She is extremely happy and said she has never felt so good before. It was so good to hear her say that she told her old pastor that she is now in the true church. With people like her sometimes we worry that they don´t understand certain things, but this shows that she has a strong testimony of what she is now a part of. Our ward mission leader is almost inactive himself. When he asks us who were going to work with to activate we are almost tempted to say ¨you¨, but we have decided that this wouldn´t help his activity in the church, what do you guys think? Yes the members help us when they can, but people are ALWAYS working here so it can be hard. I really respect the people that have callings here and serve faithfully because it would be really difficult. Our bishop works until 8 o clock every night Mon-Sat and still serves as a faithful bishop. Of course it makes somethings difficult but he does it as well as he can.

Anyway so I´m here in the area with Elder Sarita and I think we are going to have a really good 1 or 2 changes together. He has a really cool story of how he was inactive in the church for years, but then after a night of just thinking about where his life was at, he prayed to God to see what it was that he wanted him to do. He said he felt something very powerful that brought him to tears. 2 days later, the bishop and one of his counselors happened to pass by. They invited him to church and he said no. After he thought that this might be an answer to his prayers and showed up at church that Sunday. He explains that after that day he hasn´t missed a day of church.

Due to the experiences he has had he has a strong testimony and is willing to work. He only has 3 months time in his mission, but is doing well. He is a lot more confident than Elder Cruz so it will be an adjustment because he likes to talk a LOT more than my old companion, but we can work on that… haha. He is someone who likes to do things very well, but is very thoughtful, so sometimes he moves and thinks very slow. This will be good for me because sometimes I rush to get things done. I´m very excited to work with him in this change and I think we´ll have success.

As for the work, we are back to finding, which we will be doing a lot of in this week. I love you guys and hope all is well.


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Last two wonderful letters

Wow that's a lot of Pizza!

Ben and Elder Cruz

Ben, Alba and Elder Cruz

Hey family,

Mom´s questions... Yes there are tall Guatemalan people but it is very rare. It´s about the equivalent of seeing a good looking do without rabies here, so you can know that it almost never happens. Yes I am a giant which means that I´m incredibly good looking to the girls here, once they see that you are tall and white the rest doesn´t matter. It´s been a good self confidence booster for me. One of the children in the picture was the daughter of Blanca Olivares´s son (doesn´t come from Marcos), and the other is their daughter Carla which they had together. He had a rough past, but the important thing is that they are now all together right? And yes Carla was already baptized. My companion has been in the area for 6 months and I think we´ll stay together, or I hope. Changes (as they are called in spanish so for that I apologize) are this Wednesday.

Okay so that is that. This was a great week of course because as a missionary, conference is like summer vacation. I didin´t mean that we don´t work but that we are as excited for conference as an 8 year old kid is for christmas. It´s a big deal. I just want to write about a few thoughts that I had during conference and what I liked. First off, Elder Bednar´s talk about revelation confirmed exactly what I had concluded in the weeks before as I had a lot of questions about the spirit, and if the occurences of strong impressions are rare. He confirmed everything for me and made my testimony grow about how these talks are extremely personal at times. Also I loved the story from Elder Christopherson (quickly becoming one of my favorite speakers) about the gardner and how it related to trials in our life. I liked when he said ¨Thank you for loving me enough, to cut me down.¨ Sometimes we have such limited perspective in things, and this always helps me to remember to think past what´s going on when things are rough. Finally, as Mom wrote about, I loved the talk about to be and to do, and how he talked about what we do is only a symptom of who we are. His comparison of to do and to be is so applicable for missionaries as there are some in both extremes and many good missionaries with the right balance who are the best missionaries. It was a good reminder of how we need both always.

Anyway it is always a great boost to hear the conference talks in your mission and it always makes me think of how lucky we are to have living prophets and apostles that literally guide us through divine inspiration. How many people can claim that?

After conference we had the baptism of Alba, which really reminded me of the situation of Josie Hoalcraft. She´s a widow and is alone. We have seen a complete change in her attitude and how she carries herself with everything that we have taught her and with her baptism yesterday. She always talks about how happy the church makes her. She has really sad stories about how a pastor took advantage of her by ripping her off to buy pieces of land that she owned, knowing that what he was doing was completely wrong and that she had very limited knowledge of the situation. It makes us happy to see the complete change in her, and how happy she is right now. She is such a nice lady and loves the fact that she will be able to see her husband again after this life.

Anyway, I have to go, I love you all and hope all is well. I will let you know what happens with changes obviously but I hope Elder Cruz stays.


Ben, Elder Cruz, and the Olivares family after Brother Olivares' baptism

Marcos happy after his baptism!

March 28

Hey family!

Sorry to the brothers and sisters that I didn´t have any time to write to you guys this week, this computer has something to send pictures and I thought you would like to see some pictures from the baptism instead. But, I will write you guys another week mkay? Brad and Michelle did you ever receive my SD card and letters? I will be so sad if that got lost in the mail. Also Brad, I really do feel super fortunate to able to be serving with a people that is so trusting in God. I really have respect for those who serve in a country where people have trouble believing in him. We don´t have to deal with that struggle we just have to deal with the fight of helping them to know what it is that God really has revealed and what it is that he really wants for them. I would imagine it is at least 23% harder when they don´t even believe in God.

Also Brad, I don´t why, but I was thinking this morning about how that one time at Chic-Fil-A (I´ve forgotten how to spell that sorry) we had on Michelle´s Glee CD blasting in front of the 20 year old girl that was serving us our food. I then started to think about how shocked she must have been to see two 20 or so year old boys listening to that music. I laughed, and then I got excited that today was email.

Anyways, I don´t think Mom had any questions, and if you did Mom I´m sorry but I have to get going. So yesterday we had the baptism of Marcos and we were able to complete the family, something that is amazing. He showed up smiling and joking around as usual 10 minutes before the baptism and everything went according to plan. So I don´t have to type it all again I´m going to copy and paste what I wrote in my weekly letter to President Baldwin. He has started to ask for reports on baptismal services so this is what I wrote, ¨I was extremely content with how the baptismal service went. We were able to call the assigned speakers, members of the bishopric, etc. a week or so before the baptismal service and to our relief they all showed up very well prepared. We went around the whole week committing members to go, but yet again we were disappointed with the attendance of members. Any advice on how we could get members to support us more in our baptismal services? Anyways, we were not able to have the first part in the chapel as you have counseled because they were cleaning it. We were able to however start on time and have everything run very smoothly making it one of the most powerful services I have been to. I give the credit to the members who told us they would do what we assigned them and then followed through. I had the honor to baptize him and there was a powerful spirit present after the baptism as I saw the impact that this saving ordinance had on him. I asked him as we were changing afterwards what he felt and he told me (as he was very choked up) that he was felt good and didn´t have words to describe what he was feeling. We asked him to give his testimony at the end, but with tears in his eyes he told us that he wanted to but he couldn´t find the words to say his testimony at that moment. This simple statement had the same impact on those who were present as anything else that could have been said. We had the Bishop say a few words and were able to end an extremely powerful service.¨

In other words, something in Marcos changed after he came out of the water. He was very thoughtful and overcome by something for the rest of the baptismal service, something very unusual for someone who likes to joke around and laugh a lot. He really felt the power of what had just happened. My district leader Elder Mckell told me that it was one of the best baptismal services that he had been to yet in his mission, and I agree, it was a really great service. It also helped that his wife was able to bear testimony before the baptism of the truthfulness of the church and the ordinance that he was about to take place. I hope that we can work very closely with them in the next weeks to make sure that they can be on a sure path to always be progressing in this gospel.

Anyways this weekend we have two more baptisms, one with Hermana Alba who has come to church all by herself for the last month which is impressive considering she is probably about 65 years old and has to walk, and one with a 9 year old who is part of a less active family that is now not so less active because their son just got back from their mission. I´m also extremely excited for conference.

I´m getting sad that this change is going to end. It is very probably that Elder Cruz is going to leave and that I´ll get a new companion. I´ve really enjoyed my time here and working this hard is extremely gratifying. Having these experiences just reminds me that this work may not be easy, but it is worth it. What we have is true, and that truth changes lives, what else matters? I love this Gospel and am so happy to be here sharing it. But I have to go, I love you guys!