Thursday, February 24, 2011

Hey family, friends, and friends of my mom,

This week was alright, pretty uneventful. One moment that was really incredible was with our investigator Beatriz. Last night as we were discussing some doubts about the plan of salvation, it just felt right to avoid the doubts she was having and change the topic to baptism. She has been hearing us for some time now and always has questions, not questions to fight, but she is sincerely concerned about what the true doctrine is. She´s awesome. Anyways, I told her that we could answer her questions a little later, but that I wanted to ask her something. I asked her if she believed this was the only true and living church of Christ on the earth today. She told us yes. I asked her to explain what the true church of Christ means for her. She went on to tell us that it was like she was in a neighborhood into which had moved her family, but she didn´t know in which house they lived. She said that in this neighborhood there were many good houses which had a lot of good people, but none of them were her family. She told us that it is as if she has finally found the house with her family, and she can now know how it is that she can have salvation.

Salvation is something incredibly important for her, and she reminds me that it is incredibly true that many are kept from the truth because they know not where to find it. It´s frustrating that she can´t attend church because her mom tells her she needs to watch the little store in the market because SHE is attending church at that time. We told her that we can talk with her mom, and she said she will do the same, but her parents are very opposed to their daughter being in another church. The other thing is that she and Alsidez aren´t married, but with how she reads and prays, I really don´t think any of this will be a problem. It might take a little more time, but I really believe she will be baptized sooner or later.

Something that you might find interesting, or something that I´ve been thinking about lately is the culture here in Guatemala. They are an extremely god-fearing people. Some missionaries take that and they use the extremely strong scriptures that say you will go to hell if you don´t do this, or that you´ll be cast out if you do this, etc. I´m not saying that we should never use strong scriptures, but scaring people into go to church is not the way I feel it should be done (see the verses about the sabbath in Numbers, many missionaries LOVE this scripture). I feel as if this is part of the reason retention can be a problem here. This is all my opinion mind you, maybe there has been an incredible conversion due to one of these scriptures, but from my experience I´ve seen that those who act out of their own desire to find the truth and do what is right are those who stay in the church. This goes for those who are baptized because the missionaries are their good buddies, they have a girlfriend in the church, etc. I´ve been thinking a lot lately about how important it is that these people have a desire to know, and then act because of that desire instead of coming in for social reasons. Just a thought and something that can be found often in Guatemala for anyone who is interested.

Anyway, changes are Wednesday, and they will let us know tonight. I´m trying not to guess, but we will see what happens and you will obviously know next week. I love you all! Thanks for the love and support you always give me, and I hope you got your little envelope Mom!


Monday, February 14, 2011

No time!

So.... I was preoccupied with other emails so I have almost no time but I have the best keyboard that I have had yet in Guatemala here at this internet cafe so I´m going to fly. This also means my english will be even worse then usual. You have permission to make fun of me.

So this week was a bit strange. While I´m not going to say anymore about my companion because that doesn´t help anything just know that he is trying to completely leave me out of the work at this point. Very frustrating but I´m trying to deal with it without getting frustrated or mad, because I´m really trying to do everything I can. So I´m happy and hanging in there! Changes are next week so we´ll see what happens. Anyways the reason this week was weird was because there were 3 church records that were lost from about 10 years ago so we need to teach and baptize 3 teenagers again in the ward. We have new investigators with baptismal dates, and so it looks like we are having a lot success right now but in reality we´re just doing administrative business. The truth is we have been left with very little after the baptisms but have found a lot of potential investigators this week, with a few of them being families, so I hope that some of them progress.

The family of Beatriz and Alsidez (I think I told you about them if not let me know and I will tell you how we found them) told us this whole week that they were going to attend church. We went to their house in the morning and they had ¨gone to the market¨ in the morning which means they were in the house and didn´t want to come. I don´t understand because Beatriz has said that she knows this is true and wants to be a part of the true church, but doesn´t want to go to chruch. Alsidez is already a member if I didn´t mention that and has been inactive for years, but has said he wants to return so we´ll see. I think it might have to do with the fact that they are both very logical people and she said this was true before having prayed. She has yet to pray and just tells us when we ask her about her prayers that she already knows its true and tries to avoid the question. There is such a difference between knowing the church is true logically, and really feeling it, because a deep understanding of these things only comes from a witness, and this is when behavior changes.

Anyways, it was pretty uneventful, although Jorge is so amazing. He has been going out with us and always talks about a mission. He reads every day and has shared what he thought about the Joseph Smith History and the chapter he is in at the time. He really is a special person that was prepared for this gospel and I am so grateful to have been involved with his baoptism. I have to go but I love you all and will talk to you soon!
Hello friends and family,

So this week was mas o menos as said in Spanish (the topic of combining languages in fresh on my mind as I just has a very long conversation with my friend Elder Tebbs about how we dislike the mixing of 2 languages, lets keep spanish spanish and english english) and I don´t have many notable things to write. First off I want to say that I laughed out loud at the mic-check that I heard as I passed by an evangelical church yesterday. He wasn't saying ¨check 1 2¨ or anything even close, what he was saying as he was tuning his electric guitar was ¨ Aleluya, aleluya, Dios poderoso, Dios poderoso¨ poderoso means powerful. The thing is though he was saying as casually as any other mic check in a concert. Churches here are nuts. Before singing a hymn with a new investigator the other day he asked us, ¨Oh you sing hymns sitting down?¨ As he lowered himself back down into the chair (yes he had started to get up when we said we were going to sing a hymn). People trust their pastors so much it´s crazy. Some people say, ¨I would like to read your Book but I have to ask my pastor first.¨ Generally I´m almost positive that the pastor won´t have anything good to say about it.

Anyways I promised a little of Dorian´s conversion story. He was what they call an ayudante (helper) for the buses which is the person who hangs out the bus door yelling the destination when the bus is traveling down the road at 50 miles an hour. I love to think about how many laws the buses here would break in America. Anyways in his job as an ayudante, he met his current girlfriend Ledy Gonzalez, who little by little introduced him to the church. He had always read and loved the bible but had never joined with any church, and become very interested in the church, very unusual for someone in his job and his lifestyle (the schedule of an aydante is crazy and it´s not a very good atmosphere). He started to want to go to church but couldn´t because of his job. At this time he also lived with some people very strong in their evangelical church which made it hard to be openely interested in our church. He started to pray to find a new job and be able to find a new house to live in. This is all before we started talking to him.

The grandpa of Ledy soon after offered Dorian a job, and he was able to find a better house for less money. This is where we entered and within 3 lessons he had committed to baptism. He quickly caught interest with the temple and baptisms for the dead, because as we later found out, both his parents in Nicaragua had died and he came to Guatemala just to get away from everything. He wants as soon as possible to do the work for his parents in the temple and is really becoming quickly an impressive member of the church. It really is interesting to see how he has changed from the life he had before and always reminds me of why were here. It also reminds me that most the success we have happens with people have experience with the church before they talk to the missionaries. The Lord works in incredible ways and stories like this always motivate me to keep going.

Other than that, I´m doing well. Things with my companion are still hard, he has told me he refuses to change and that he is just waiting for a new companion at this point, but I´ve really been able to get to the point of feeling a peace in all of this, knowing that I´m trying my hardest, and I obviously I can always improve, but I really feel as if I´m trying my best. He just has a hard time trusting or listening to anybody, and decides for himself what is right instead of listening to the counsel of our leaders. He´s a good kid that comes from a rough background, and so I´m trying, but I´m not seeing progress. We´ll see what happens.

I love you all and I´m trying to do my best. Thank you for all your prayers and support. It was so good to hear from the Finks and Katie. You guys rock and will be recieving letters soon.