Monday, November 29, 2010

Missionary life!

Hey everybody!

To answer my dear mother´s questions that are probably of interest to everybody, or maybe not who knows, I´m going to talk a Little about the ward. Wards here in Guatemala are different. The church is Young so even the faithful members need a lot of help to get involved in the missionary work and their callings. I have a ward here in Chimaltenango and it is a really good ward for Guatemala, but of course that is relative haha. The hardest thing is lack of families that have been throught the temple together, this makes it hard to have people filling key roles in the church. For example we don´t have a second counsler to our bishop, a ward mission leader, ward missionaries, and a few other key callings. This puts a lot of the responsibilty on the Elders. I know at this point a few returned missionaries are hating me because they only had branches and they literally had to do everything, so for that I´m sorry, but I´m trying to explain my situation here haha. I really do have it good in some aspects, because many of the members enjoy helping the missionaries and for that I´m grateful. While I´m on this topic, I want to comment on how important establishing the church is. If the mission work is going as planned, after the people are baptized and confirmed generally the responsiblity is passed on to the ward missionaries, to teach and complete everything else. Here it can be hard, because we need to balance teaching all the recent converts of the past year, making sure they have the priesthood, are going inactive, etc. while tracting and finding with our own efforts.

Something we have been trying to do in the past week is to reactivate many of the less actives (many of which are recent converts in the past year) reawaken their desire to progress in this góspel and then try to work with their family and friends, because these are the people that usually have non member friends, not the faithful members that have been in the church their entire lives, because here that usually means your social life is the church. Of course this is what I´ve seen in my ward here, maybe that is an over generalization for Guatemala, who knows. We were very happy this week because an incredible amount of less actives showed up to church, and so now ¨phase 2¨of the plan is about to be put into action. Just kidding. But seriously. We now want to work with them and have their help in talking with their friends and family. We were again disappointed with 0 investigators after trying so hard and having 8 people committed to going, but we have to be happy for the number of less actives right? I also saw one of the less active families paying their tithing yesterday which is incredible, and I´m not saying that to give credit to myself, because I don´t feel like we did anything amazing or fantastic with them, we just showed up and shared some thoughts with them. Also in another less active family, one of the daughters wants to serve a mission out of nowhere. I don´t know what is going on, but I´m not complaining.

I´m learning a lot about what missionary work is. I´m learning that going out and tracting for 3 hours (at least in my mission) probably isn´t the best use of time. There is so much establishing of wards and branches here in Guatemala that is a huge part of the work that many miss. If we just baptize a lot of people that fall away because the core ward isn´t strong the work isn´t going anywhere. I´ve been thinking about this a lot lately, and it gets overwhelming sometimes because it is such a large task. Thanks Dad for your advice, because it really helped my concerns with just that. Taking it day by day is what I need to do and not beat myself up for the things that aren´t going perfect or how we want them to.

Anyways Mom, no I have almost no interaction witht he Assistants and the President because our mission is so big and also because of some of the changes made in the structures of missions everywhere. My Zone Leaders are awesome if not a Little too ambitious sometimes (they often ask us to things slightly eccentric, haha but it´s okay, probably because one of them is ending his mission tomorrow and wants to end strong) and my district leader is a latino. I took another video of the apartment and will be sending that for Christmas along with pictures and letters! I was going to buy stuff in Antigua for people but it just was going to be very expensive and stressful so I´m sorry. And the weather has been warmer, but yes I bought some thin gloves for under a dollar and found a fleece in my apartment that was an old missionaries. But thank you anyways Mom!

And yes changes are tomorrow, I´m sure I´ll be staying but Elder Alberto will probably be leaving. We´ve made a lot of progress together, and honestly I´ll be sad to see him go. He´s a really funny person and knows how to work hard but still to keep it a good time. Anyways sorry that there again isn´t anyone really progressing, Jose Rivas who we had high hopes for has a lot of problems with drinking and is ashamed of it and because of that has stopped wanting to meet with us. If anything happens I´ll let you know! I love you all and sorry if I can´t tell you everything I want to!


This is an eyeball his companion ate! Yuch!
Ben in Antigua
Beware of machete man!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Hello my unseen audience of readers whom of which I miss dearly,

I´m sitting in an internet café currently listening to classic Spanish music with a lot of feeling and cheesiness infused into it, and I have to say, I´m glad America has the music it does. Anyways, to answer the family questions this week, I have no idea if I´m going to be able to celebrate Thanksgiving, I kind of forgot about it. I would think not because they don´t have it here in Central America, and half the missionaries are latinos so… I don´t know I´ll let you know. I would think not. Speaking of Latino missionaries, Mom was wondering where Elder Alberto is from, he is from San Salvador in El Salvador, and I think he is pretty rich because he had a car (extremely rare for a teenager in Central America, not necesarily because they are more por, but because cars are more expensive here) and his family sends him a huge package every change. Also my spanish… Always I feel as if it isn´t sufficient, which I think will last till the end of my mission (wow I need to lighten up huh?) but I really feel blessed with the language. I can converse normally with pretty much anyone, it just depends on the context and if I know the vocabulary for that subject. Like if they start talking about their job as a mechanic and start using mechanic words I´m probably going to struggle until they explain the verbs and objects and what not haha. I have a long way to go, but I really feel like I have had a lot of help in the way of spanish. A lot of kids didn´t do anything in the MTC and CCM and they are really regretting now because they are basically learning all of spanish without a knowledge of the grammar rules. I feel bad for them, because a lot of kids are really struggling. Also another note, I´m officially overwhelmed with letters, which I´m very grateful for, so please keep writing! But don´t be too mad if it takes me awhile to respond. Could someome send me the Walton´s address?

Anyways this week was another result of the ups and downs of a mission. We had so many investigators committed to church this week, including Carlos Dany and Mabele, and Jose Rivas. We worked harder than we ever have before to make sure that every one of them and more could attend this week. We had about ten by the time Saturday morning came around. Within 24 hours, every single one fell. We had members call them, oass by their house to pick them up, we passed by a lot of their houses, but despite all of our efforts every single one fell through. It was pretty rough sitting there and feeling like I had done something wrong.

During the sacrament though, I had a reassuring feeling that no matter what we do, we can not change the fact that people have their free will. Of course we need to look at what we did and what we could do differently, but that moment told me that we need to do everything we can and after that it is between them and the Lord. Sometimes I get so overwhelmed with the things we need and are supposed to be doing as missionaries. Working with the ward, finding through our own efforts, doing service, finding friends for investigators, planning activities, and the list goes on. I get hard on myself because I tend to blame myself, but what I´m trying to do is to look at what I´m doing right as well as what I´m doing wrong. Missionary work is hard, no one has ever said that it is easy, and of course I´m learning that haha. I´m learning a lot about myself out here and it´s a real growing experience, I just hope that all my efforts will result in a few people having a complete change of heart and taking this gospel into their lives and becoming completely different people. If after two years I can look back and see that, I will be happy. It´s hard work, but it´s rewarding and I´m enjoying the ups and learning from the downs. I miss you all and love you a lot. I hope you don´t forget this Young chap here in Guatemala. Enjoy your thanksgiving break everyone!


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Great Week!

Hey Everybody!

It´s me again, Ben Pearson, I don´t know if you forgot about me, but if you did I happen to be in Guatemala where I am the only white person within miles, and the only one who has experienced carpet under my toes in my life. I also happen to be in Chimaltenango, Guatemala where things are going great.

First off I want to apologize for my letter last week, I was in no way comparing my sacrifice to that of Joseph Smith or the Savior, I just wanted to express that when the going gets hard on a mission the thing that helps most is just to remember your purpose and why you´re here in a foreign country. That´s all, I hope it didn´t come off as sounding self righteous.

Anyways after one of the hardest weeks of my mission I´ve had one of the best weeks of my mission and I will hurry to explain why. First off Elder Alberto and I are teaching so much better together and he is rarely attacking people with our message now, which is such a relief in our lessons and allows us to teach better. I think he is really starting to understand that we can´t convince anyone of this gospel, we can only present it, and if they want to, they can make changes that will be the best thing they ever did for themselves. So that´s been going better. Also we´ve just been working a lot better together in general. He really is a good missionary, he and we just had to figure some things out, and things are going a lot better, of course 2 weeks before he is transferred (proabbly, he has been here for almost 7 months) and I get to head up the area with a new companion. It´s not for sure but we´ll see.

Anyways the reason things are going so well is because aside from Dany and Mabele, this week we made huge strides with one investigator (unexpectedly) and we found a new investigator that is progressing incredibly fast. The first investigator is Jose Rivas. His wife doesn´t want anything to do with the gospel but she listens. At the end of the first lesson with them (not the first time visitng just the actual content of the first lesson) we asked them to really pray about Joseph Smith to know for themselves if he was a prophet. I say guiltily that this was probably more out of routine than sincerety, but to our surprise, when we returned, Jose had actually prayed sincerely. The way we found this out was at the beginning of our lesson we asked if they had any doubts or questions about anything, maybe from the pamphlet they had read or something they want to know about the church. He paused, and usually this means a dificult question, but he thought and asked I want to know more about your church meetings. We were shocked and asked why. We came to find that he had prayed, and the reason he wanted to attend church was because he felt something that he wanted to experience again. This is something that never happens this fast. This is ideally what happens in a Preach My Gospel situation, but this kind of genuity rarely occurs, and I hadn´t seen until then. He´s going to attend church with us and we´re planning to have a Family Home Evening to try to get to his wife because she is incredibly strong in her church and doesn´t want to change, and because of that she is scared to recieve an answer.

The other experience I had (quickly I want to write Brad and Michelle still) was with a man named Carlos and I can´t remember his last name because it´s weird for spanish. When I say that I mean spanish last names are weird enough without being weird for their own language, but I digress. Carlos is a reference of the Sister missionaries here, that we went to contact because a lesson fell through. What we found was that this was a man we had knocked the door of 4 or so days before that didn´t want anything to do with us, so it was kind of awkward and we we´re proabbly a bit apprehensive to ask to enter again. But we did and he allowed us to. To sum things up, we found that he really is someone just searching for the truth. He thinks it is bad that only people who go to schools can lead churches and is asking all the right questions. Within two lessons he attending church and Reading. He is someone who loves the Bible and studies with more intensity than most of the members of our church, but the thing is he is completely open to our message. He said that nothing he had Heard was contrary to what he read in the Bible and that he wants to know for himself the truth. He is big about having respect for the sacred things and loved the reverent way in which we hold our meetings as compared to the yelling and screaming of other churches around here.

I really feel like our hard work is paying off. I really hope things go will with everyone and that we can bring these families closer to the true gospel of Jesus Christ. I´m loving this work, and while it´s the hardest thing I´ve ever done, the times of success make it all worth it. I´m sorry I didn´t talk about Zone Conference Mom maybe next week!

I love you all so much that it is almost weird.


Monday, November 8, 2010

Fleas in my Bed!

Ben didn't mention what type of food is on the plate...
it looks like brain to me! I hope
he didn't have to eat it!

Service project of some sort!

Ben drinking out of his favorite cup from his
favorite brother...his mustache cup!

Hey All,

First off to answer Mom´s questions that everyone might want to know. I have a cook in my new area and the food is pretty good but she doesn´t make us that much. We didn´t have a cook for the first week, and we didn´t have gas so I was eating all my lunches by a microwave. I´m glad we have a cook to say the least. I don´t get too hungry because I always just buy a banana at night or something and have a snack when I get home at night. My new Ward is good but as always wards struggle here and more families that pay tithing are always needed. The meeting house is only about a 10 min walk, but our investigators live far away usually and no one has cars, or almost nobody so it makes it very hard to get people to church, or expensive because we have to pay for a tuk tuk or a bus for them. I have to ask President about that.

Anyways this week was difficult. I´m feeling happy go lucky right now, but last week was very difficult. First off I discovered fleas in my bed, so I´ve been having to spray my bed with prometherin which doesn´t seem to be working, but that wasn´t too bad because it´s just a few bites. That day I lost my White bible(this is something every missionary carries with them at all times and it has all of the rules of a mission in it) with my money and credit card in it. This was also the day that it first bécame very cold, and was raining which is very rare for November. This or something I ate caused me to become sick the next day and I was exhausted and did not feel like working. It was a hard 2 or 3 days. But in those times of course we always learn something. The whole time I was walking and working and wanted to stop because I didn´t feel well, I thought of all the times the Savior probably wanted to stop, but he kept going. I thought of Joseph Smith and how almost all of his life was given to this work, and a lot of it wasn´t enjoyable. I then thought of D and C 121: 7- 8 I think it is where it says that our trials are but a small moment and that if we endure them well, we will be blessed for our efforts. That scripture has helped me a couple times in my mission and I know that our hard times will always lead to good times

Anyways I recieved a blessing from my companion, was better the next morning, found my credit card and White bible (it was returned to me by a man who wants a reward and keeps asking for money when the money that was in there is gone, it was only 2 dollars don´t worry) and my fleas are gone I think. So everything is good and I definitely am much more appreciative of my health in this moment. So the lesson I learned I guess is that sometimes it seems like something is never going to pass and it seems awful, but if we hang in there we´ll be blessed to get through it. Not my deepest insight but it was significant to me at the time haha.

Other than that I´m getting to know the area more which is good. Our main investigator right now is young family, family Cinfuegos. They're a young couple with a child. Their names are Dany and Mabelle and their mom's brother and sister are recent converts. They really want to know the truth but they are struggling to find an answer for themselves. They have a few doubts about the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith because she comes from strong roots of Evangelical. But anyways keep them in your prayers and I'll tell you more next week!

Sorry for the pretty lame letter this week, I´m kind of ashamed, I hope it didn´t depress you. I´m happy right now so that´s all that matters, and we´re going to work hard this week to make things happen in our area! I love you all!


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Giant in Guatemala

Hey Everybody
I'm stressing right now because I don't have much time because I recieved a lot of email this week but first off I want to answer Mom's questions. Also sorry about no pictures this cafe is awful, but you have a DVD coming in the mail that I checked if it worked so maybe we can just do it that way. First Mom I have hot water! Finally, it was awful in the mornings and I think my voice increased 3 octaves. Well okay maybe it was worth it because I now am the only man in the world that can sing that high. Also, yes I'm a giant here in Guatemala, everyone is short haha. A lot of things such as the showers, bus seats etc, are built for Guatemalans so lets just say I'm grateful that I'm not any taller. Also I often do feel very spoiled in America. Especially when people aske me what I like to do and I tell them skiing, boating, etc. It's just a different world but it helps that they expect all white people to be rich. When I say I'm rich it's compared to the lifestyle here.
Speaking of the lifestyle here I talked a lot about that to a guy from Ireland for half an hour on the bus here. He's a guy who just travels the world one month out of every year. He's nuts. He doesn't know spanish, and is traveling by himself. What courage eh? Anyways something we both noticed when we first got here is there isn't poverty here like in Africa. Everyone eats which says something. For some it's only rice and beans, but they're living compared to poverty in other countries. I actually have a lot of neighborhoods here with some money. It's a really weird mixture of middle class and poor, with the definitions of middle class and poor being extremely skewed compared to America. Anyways the guy was traveling and we talked a lot about the church and I gave him the website to because that's all I could do. I hope he checks it out, because he was really interested and was a good person.

Okay so an update on this week quickly. I'm getting to know the area better which allows me to contribute more with my companion which feels good. I can give ideas and not just follow along because I don't know anyone or where anything is. Elder Alberto and I are working much better now too. He has seen that we need to work hard and isn't giving me anymore trouble for the most part. He doesn't let me have a say in some things but I'm working to contribute however I can and hope that it's my best. The problems with Chimaltenango is the influence of the mountains. THe people are a little more closed to our message, so we just need to work all that much hard to have people listen.
Anyways I just want to tell you that I had a man stand and yell an evangelical prayer at me the other day and it was terrifying. I don't know know if I already told you about that but it was scary. SOrry I don't have any solid investigators to tell you about right now but we're working our hardest and making progress. I love you all and miss you! Hopefully pictures next week!