Hey everyone! I´m serious about that question, you would think that a country comprised of solely Latinos would respect their heritage enough to make Santa a Latino as well, but all I´ve seen is white Santa Clauses. On second thought maybe it´s better this way due to the fact that white people are in short supply and if I was ever looking for work one December after my mission I could make bank down here. Now if only I could gain a little weight... Anyway, this week was really good because Jose finally attended church! We have been talking with Jose very directly this week about his goal to drop his drinking habit the 20th of December and while he still messed up this week we were very grateful for the miracles that occurred to get him to church. First off he was in his house Saturday night for our lesson that we had set with him which was very surprising. Second he only had a little bit of alcohol in him and so he could understand our lesson. Not that he has ever been drunk in a lesson before, but usually he just isn´t there, so we were grateful for that. So because he only had a little Saturday night, he was able to commit to us to go and was able to attend with his two kids.
Jose almost seemed a little bored in church but he told us that he really enjoyed his experience which is a good sign. He is continuing to read and wants to attend next week as well. He is getting more and more serious about his goal with every visit and I think we´re going to set up a baptismal date with him this week. Also his kids loved church which is another huge step for the family. We are hoping that the children as well as the progress of her husband can soften Mariela´s heart to consider that our church might contain the truth and to sincerely pray about it to find out for herself what is the truth. She says she prays but from her actions we can see that it isn´t sincere if she actually is asking if this is the truth.
So that was good and we have high hopes for Jose and his family! The kids are incredible and always remind their Dad about church and about his goal to drop drinking haha. How sad it is that some families have such a bad example of the father and just follow suit when they grow older. I hope the gospel can change that tradition in the Rivas Family. Their names are Yoselin (as in Josaline I think) and Jonathan. Yoselin is 9 years old and Jonathan is 7 years old.
Another good thing this week is that the members are starting to help us and present their friends to us. One , a recent convert who is 18 years old, named Maydi is incredible. She always is trying to set us up with her friends and was successful this week. She finally got her neighbors, a family with a child, to go to her house and hear our message. We were all around a fire and shared a message with the wife because the husband couldn´t be there but we have another lesson with them tonight so we´ll see. THere are others that are giving references and all is well!
I have to run but I love you guys and hope you are enjoying Christmas. I´m so jealous the missionaries there can have ukuleles.
(I told Ben that the missionaries in the Columbus, Ohio mission are allowed to have ukuleles to use to sing with the members in their homes...he loves playing the ukulele!)
So first off, Mom wanted me to talk about Antigua! Antigua is about an hour away from Chimaltenango and we went on a P-day. It´s a gorgeous area with an incredible view of the huge volcano here that I forget the name of. It´s a really touristy spot, and so a lot of the places feel like America, and I have to admit, I felt a little baggy for some of the luxuries we take for granted in America haha. It was a lot of fun to look around the shops and everything and I was able to buy a pretty cool shoulder bag thing they have here for 3 bucks. It was a fun trip and it´s a really beautiful cool town, one that we will be sure to visit if you guys come to pick me up.
Anyways we had changes this week and Elder Alberto left which is always hard, because you spend so much time learning and growing and making improvements with one companion, and then you are asked to start all over again with a new companion. My new companion is Elder Martinez and he is from Honduras. With the way things are going now I could have all latino companions my whole mission, which has happened before, that´s weird. Anyways, he´s an Elder that has 17 months and knows it. He´s very obediant which is good, but he doesn´t like to hear what I have to say, and usually just makes decisions without talking to me so that´s been a hard adjustment. He knows how missionary work works, which is good, and I´ll be able to learn a lot from that, but I can tell it´s going to be a struggle to get us to work as a companionship. I´ve comed to realize that with the Latin culture, Elder Tarax was extremely humble, and that this could be a struggle my entire mission, that is, getting my companions to talk openly and work as a companionship, always discussing what we´re going to do, what we´re doing well, what we could improve, etc. He´s a hard worker which is good, but I just haven´t felt very smart in the last week which has been hard. But, there´s a reason I´m here right? and there is always something to learn so I´m trying to figure out what that is. I hope we can start to communicate more and really make things happen in this area.
I´m sure you guys would love to know that Jose Osbaldo, Telma, and the entire family were baptized after I left my first area! Elder Tarax gave me a picture of their baptism at changes and I was almost brought to tears I was so happy. All I could think of was how Elder Tarax and I were having a hard day when our lessons were falling through, and on a whim I just happened to contact this man that was standing outside his house. I remembered how we struggled and worked with Telma and gained her trust and all we had to work with to get them to that point. It is an incredible feeling to see an entire family like that baptized, and Elder Tarax tells me that the testimony of Telma is incredible. They are a family that I know will go on to do great things because of how they yearned to know the truth. It´s dissappointing I couldn´t be there, but it´s all the same. Now they can progress to the temple and be an eternal family, and I can´t even describe how that makes me feel.
Speaking of which Elder Tarax is my new Zone Leader! He´s such a happy guy and I´m happy to have him in the Zone with my other awesome Zone Leader Elder Lowry. They are the bomb and are always willing to talk with me about what I can do in my area when I´m struggling to know what to do.
One more thing. With Jose Rivas I think I left it at that he wasn´t progressing. Anyways, 2 times he hasn´t attended church because he has been hungover and has been ashamed of his drinking problem and so he doesn´t show. What we decided to do was teach the Word of Wisdom directly and tell him that if he drops this habit his family will really be blessed. I have so much hope for him because he told us he has a real desire to drop this bad habit, and we set a goal with him to drop his drinking habit by the 20th of this month. He really has a desire to know the truth and to change, and because of that I know he can do it. His wife Mariela is going to be a problem because she is so ingrained in her church but as we saw with Telma that can always change with time. We´re going to do a fast for Jose this Sunday and so we´re praying that he can drop it for good and attend church with us. He always reads what we leave him and is a good person who loves his family,he just comes from a culture that is different. Please pray for him that he can change and that this can soften the heart of Mariela and bring her to the truth as well!
Anyways I´m striving as always to be better, even though the going is rough sometimes. I´m really grateful for this mission and everything it is doing for me. I had my first real sick day yesterday when I threw up and had to stay in the house and that was pretty rough, but as always this just humbles you and gives you a new desire to go out and work and do better than you were doing before. I love you all, and can´t wait to talk with you soon! Also I´m going to send a little something for Christmas today! Be excited.