Tuesday, June 28, 2011

At the Beach!

Hello best family in the world,
To answer Mom´s questions, father´s day is a different day, I think it was 2 days before, but I´m not sure. Also that´s crazy that Jaden will be there so long, but I feel like they are changing a lot of things in the mission program so maybe that is a result of that change. Yes I was only there for 9 weeks. Also Elder Lydiken is here for 3 months with me to make a total of 6 months in the office (2 changes) and then he leaves and I will be here for 2 changes with the other secretary making 6 months as well. So needless to say I have a while to be here.
Another one of Mom´s questions/part of the letter is concerning my new companion. My new companion is a really good guy that I entered with. I didn´t really know him in the CCM or the MTC so it´s been cool to get to know him. On a non-gospel level we don´t really connect (he is kind of a jock that is slightly competitive), but the cool thing about the church is that due to the fact that we are both focused on the same thing, we get along really and are becoming pretty good friends. It´s interesting that as much as hobbies and interests matter so much in high school (to most people) it really has no effect on what kind of person you are. It´s cool because there isn´t a "senior companion" in the office, we just kind of work together making everything work out the best we can. He wants to work hard and is always willing to listen to new ideas, so I´m happy. I do miss Elder Sarita, but I have 0 complaints.
Okay so I have to explain what I put as the subject. We went to the beach this last P-day and it was a good time. We were standing on the rocks that enter into the water (I´m not sure what the things are called that break waves) and having a great time taking pictures, talking about how awesome the beach is, and how awesome Guatemala is. Every few moments a little wave would come up and splash off of the rocks and make a cool effect that we all thoroughly enjoyed. Everytime one came everyone became instantly happy. So as this was all happening we all looked out and saw that a giant wave was coming, making us as happy as children in a candy shop. A chandy shop with free candy. We giddily awaited the wave. Someone yelled, "here comes a big one!" and we all expected a big splash that would be the icing on the day that was making a delicious chocolate cake. Metaphorically speaking. Anyways the wave hit and with grins on our faces, BOOOOM!!!!!!!!! the wave came over the rocks and completely and utterly leveled us. We looked up bewildered and shaken, completely oblivious to what had just hit us. The after math was this: That wave owned us. It flipped one of the elders completely over onto his back (a full flip mind you), took the other elders out with minor cuts and scrapes, and it stole my sandal, cut my foot and broke the small toe next to my pinky toe on my left foot. It was nuts, but a really good story.
Other than that everything is going well. Felix and his wife told us that they want to get married and that she wants to get baptized! We are really grateful for the improvement that they have made and we have high hopes for their near future. I will talk more about this next week because I spent a lot of time writing about that wave. Sorry. I love you guys and hope all is well!
-Benjamin James Pearson

June 13, 2011

Hey everybody,
Well here I am again emailing you and starting off with the answers to my mommy´s questions. Yes I went with the office elders and the quesadilla explosion salad was delicious here as it is there. I actually can´t remember too well how it tasted in the states. Also yes I run with the Executive Secretary Elder Pearson 3 times a week. We just go and run up a huge hill (bigger than the loveland castle hill) and then go back to the house. It feels really good to be running again, because while I loved the jump roping, it just didn´t satisfy me.
This week was really good. I have a new thing that I do with drunk people which has amused me. Whenever they start talking to me I just start talking to them in english. They always get confused because they know the missionaries can speak english, and then they respond in the little english that they know such as good morning or, " eey! he´s a speaking english!" It´s been fun. Also it was a great week because of an experience my companion and I had with an investigator named Felix. We have been teaching Felix since I arrived here in Boca del Monte. When we started he was just another investigator that I described last week and actually caused me to write about how if the investigator isn´t willing to change his behavior, he isn´t going to accept our message at all. All Felix did was interrupt us to tell us all the good things he does for the community and how well he knows God. He would just go on and on telling us things of no substance. There was just no sincerity or desire to change. We didn´t drop him though because he had been going to church and we just wanted to wait and see what happened.
2 Sundays ago something amazing happened. He came to church and didn´t say much at church like he had the other time. At the end of church we set up another teaching appointment, said goodbye, and we were honestly expecting the same thing in the next lesson. What we saw shocked us. We got there and from the beginning of the lesson we could tell that something was different. He was going off on tangents, he was listening, actually listening, to what we had to say. We asked him about how church was. He said with sincerity that he had felt something different, something that made him want to cry, because it made him want to change his character, how he was managing things in his home (they had talked about respect in the home between parents and children). We asked him if he felt this was an answer to what he was praying about, meaning Jospeh Smith and the Book of Mormon. He said yes and that he really wants to get baptized. Ever since then he has told us how he wants to learn more. Instead of looking for what is wrong in the talks in church and what he thinks, he has been telling us about what he learned in the church and what he wants to change. He has talked with his kids that he wants to change and he is trying to do it. It has taught me a lot about how God can touch people and cause them to be humble in ways that we can´t force, sometimes we just need to wait. He still isn´t married and this is a problem because hiw "wife" (they call everyone their wife even if they aren´t married) doesn´t want to marry him because she is much younger than him. We will see what happens in the next few weeks.
Also yes Mom the transition of Presidents is going to happen soon (about 2 weeks) and we are all very excited to meet the new president. The AP´s talked to him the other day and they said he sounds very on top of things and very down to earth which will be great. I love and respect President Baldwin but he is very rigid and slightly intimidating and it will be interesting to see how the change of personality changes things. We are going to have an office meeting this Friday about the transition and everything that will happen in the next little bit. I just hope it doesn´t mean a lot of time in the office as soon as the new President comes in.
Anyways I have to go but I love you guys and I hope everyone is enjoying their summer. Good luck with Youth Conference Mom I know you will do a great job.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Ben's last six letters! May 2, May 9, May 16, May 23, May 30 and June 8 ! Sorry for the delay!

June 8, 2011

Dear Family,

I put the subject that I did because that is how people greet you in the street here. God and religious things are so common here it has become super casual. It´s funny becuase people just throw it out there to publicly show that they are really religious when generally they don´t study the scriptures or do much .
Anyway, thank you for my incredible birthday package! It was everything I dreamed it was and more. I loved the 2 shirts, all the snacks, the socks, etc. My birthday was fun because I was able to open that and we also went to Chili´s at a mall around here. It was really weird becuase I felt like I was in the States again, except for the fact that the waiter didn´t speak english. All the menu items are english though, and I refused to say the menu item with a bad latin accent, so I said "Me gustaria tener una (this part in my normal spanish accent) Quesidilla Explosion Salad (that part in my normal english voice) por favor (with a return to spanish)." It´s funny because you usually have to say things such as Big Mac or Mcflurry or the things that are in english in a terrible accent so they understand you. I will single handedly change that with my stubbornness. But it was really fun to go with the office staff and enjoy the day. Anyways thank you for all the nice cards and presents, I really felt appreciated.
Also Mom don´t worry about a journal I bought an extra in the MTC and we sell them here in the office so I´m good. It is really good that Michelle gave me that little journal with the questions because I´ve been good about answering the questions given in the journal so that has helped to go back and started summarizing everything that has happened since the beginning of my mission. It has been cool to see everything that has happened in the last year and to write about it. But it is a big project and who knows when I will get done haha. Also I only lost my spanish scriptures which I now have more of.
This week has been pretty good. We´ve really been trying to focus on doing good job in the office but getting out on time so that we can focus on the work in the area. It is hard because we don´t have time for companionship study, personal study (1/2 an hour), or weekly planning, but we are trying to do our best and we have been lucky to find some families in this week that actually look pretty positive. We have only taught one or two times though so I don´t know enough to be able to tell you if they are going to progress or not.
I do quickly want to write about how I´ve been thinking a lot about humility lately. Obviously as missionaries the only way we are going to improve and get better is if we are humble, but what I have seen in this week is how investigators are the same way. It is so common here in Guatemala for people to have "religious pride" where they just want to spit out a lot of scriptrues (even if they aren´t bible bashing) to show you how religious they are and how much they trust in God, when what they really are saying is, "I don´t want to change where I am, look, I already know how to follow God." All my converts that I have seen progress have been looking for something more, have been looking for a way to better follow God instead of just being content with where they are, and as a result they find the truth which changes them. We are hoping that we see this humility in some of these families as we start to extend commitments with some of them and see how willing they are to act.
Anyway that is all I have time for today, I hope everyone is doing well and that Will stops growing, because I am missing it. I actually don´t want to rob him of a year of growth because then he might get pick on in school for being small for his age. I take it back.
I love you all,

May 30, 2011

Hey family,
First off to everyone who is wondering I prefer Ben to those who are my friends and family. I don´t know it is just weird to have my Mom calling me Elder Pearson. Judge me if you will but I don´t feel like that is a bad thing. I guess it´s cool if other missionaries want to do it, but my name is just fine.
Anyway, this was good week making an adjustment in the office, but this morning something awful happened. We had our district meeting in the office in a room to the side. I left my back pack in the office thinking nothing of it. When I got back it was gone. We went to adminstration of the building and looked at the cameras outside of our office and during our district meeting a man just walked in, took my bag and left. It is really too bad because the photo book that you gave me for Christmas and my journal were in there. Other than that there was just my scriptures, but I´m pretty devastated about my journal. I have been really good about writing about every 1 or 2 days, and it makes me really sad just to think I lost all that. There is no use worrying about it though, I can´t change. We´re hoping he might find it and somehow feel bad to the point where he returns at least the journal but I doubt it. I just don´t know why people have to be so dishonest. I guess I learned my lesson about being careful in Guatemala.
But, enough about the depressing things, this week was all about adjusting and finding my balance of keeping myself busy and focused in the office while not losing focus of my purpose as a missionary, becuase although it may not seem like it, it is a hard balance that many missionaries struggle with. I´m trying to remember what my main purpose is and try to do that in the best way while still keeping up with the office duties.
To answer Mom´s questions, I´m just a normal secretary which deals a lot with the baptismal records, getting mail and items requested from the equivalent of Costco to the missionaries, and running errands for Sister Baldwin. It has been fun to work closely with her because she is a funny lady and always keeps things interesting. Last week we did house checks with her, so that´s an example of some of the random things that we do. My first day we took the missionaries going home to the airport at 5 in the morning, and I´m sure we are a big part of picking up new missionaries as well, but I´m still learning so we´ll see. Also, my companion and I (the normal secretaries) live with the financial and executive secretary in a house, in the same colony as the assistants. Elder Moore (one of the assistants) is a good friend so that has been fun to live close.
I am still enjoying my mission very much even though things are different. I´m trying to make time for personal study because there is obviously less time to think and reflect, so that I don´t lose the growth that a mission gives you. It is easy to feel like that is happening sometimes. Anyways, I love you all, and I ask that you pray for the area that we are working in right now becuase there is a definate lack of investigators, but we are working hard to change that. I love this gospel and know it is true.

May 25, 2011

Hey Pearson Family,

First to answer Mom´s question I HAVE recieved your package and I AM waiting. I probably would have recieved it about the right time if I hadn´t have come here to the office, but now it is just sitting there calling me with it´s evil glare that it gives me when I walk by. It´s taken a lot of self control. Also, Anne´s package is doing the same making it two against one, but I feel that I can hold out.
So anyways as you all know I did have transfers and I am now a secretary here in the offices of the mission. I was pretty bummed when I found out I was leaving the area becase as you know I was loving my time there in that area with Elder Sarita. I trust that he will do a good job with the area, I just hope that his new companion has a good head on his shoulders and will be able to know how to best make sure the baptisms of the investigators for whom I gave so much. It was especially sad saying goodbye to Walter and Isabel (who have 2 kids that are a younger, 11 and 8 years old). Isabel couldn´t stop crying which surprised me. Sometimes we really don´t understand the diffrence that we are bringing into the lives of these people until we look back and realize where they are coming from. I hope and pray that they will be able to progress and be able to get baptized in the near future.
Anyway, the office life is very strange and a definate adjustment. After becoming accustomed (spelling?) the life of buses,walking, visting people, and working in a very hands on manner, it has been interesting spending a large portion of the day typing in baptismal records, sorting out who wants peanut butter or brownie mix from Pricesmart (owned by Costco, yes being able to go there is a perk of the office), driving around Guatemala to drop off copies of the Book of Mormon, etc. We do things that are very necessary but things that are sometimes pretty detached from the direct work which has been a little hard I´m not going to lie. Being with the office staff has been really fun though because they are all really cool and we get along really well. My companion (first gringo) is Elder Lydiksen who is a cool guy. Elder Sarita and I were really unified, so it is weird getting used to a new companion but I feel like we will be able to do a good job here.
The area is pretty good, but we only work from about 4 o clock in the afternoon and on. We don't have much time for weekly planning and what not, so this experience has been teaching me to be flexible and use every moment wisely. My favorite part of the area is a man who is always, always drunk sittng on the sidewalk that without fail always asks us in a think Latino accent, "what time is it?" It never stops being funny. It doesn't matter what you say he just says "okay!" My friend Elder Tebbs the other day told him it was watermelon and he was just as content as he is hearing the real time. The investigators are alright, but we have a lot of finding and working to do.
I don't know why I'm wanted or needed here but I´m going to try and do my best and hope that I can do it. This church is true. I love you guys!

May 23, 2011
Hey everybody,
Just a heads up so you don´t think I´m dead, I was called to the office as a mission secretary so my email time will be a little more random, but the earliest I will be emailing is by Monday, so that would be great if you emailed me by that day. I will usually email by Wednesday. I love you guys!

May 16, 2011

Hola Pearson Family,
Even though I didn´t get to hear from my mommy this week was still really good. As always it has been a blast working here in this area with Elder Sarita, and we are seeing progress in the investigators that we have. We have changes which we find out tonight so we will see if this period of my mission will come to a close. I think we´ll stay here together, but it´s better just not to guess and take it as it comes.
Anyways one of the families that is coming along really well is the Castillanos Family. The dad´s name is Walter and the mom´s name is Isabel. We have been teaching them for about 3 or 4 weeks and they have come to church 3 time and have expressed a desire to get baptized. The problem is that Walter has a lot of vices which he has been trying to overcome for years, mainly smoking and drinking. We had a lesson where we taught to the Word of Wisdom that was very powerful. He told us that he would drop these vices that he has had but that he thought it would be very difficult to do it all at once. We offered to give him a blessing and he accepted saying that it would help. We gave him a blessing and left.
2 miraculous things happened in just 2 days before church. Walter told us that the very night that we gave him a blessing his friends that usually are the cause of the drinking problem asked him to go out and have a beer. He told them no, that he had made a promise with God that he wasn´t going to do that anymore. His friends started to make fun of him. The most amazing thing that he told us was that to him this didn´t matter. He said it didn´t matter to him what his friends think but what God thinks. The spirit was strong related this story to us and we can see it has really given him confidence in himself.
The next day after work, Walter couldn´t take the cravings to smoke anymore. He went to the store and bought a cigarette, because he was suffering. He told us that the instant he lit the cigarette something came over him. He felt all bad inside and his throat started to burn. Almost immediately after he lit the cigarette he had thrown it in the street. This brings to mind that faith is a principle of power. He has shown an incredible amount of faith this week, by reading, accepting a blessing, and having the determination to give up these vices that have torn his family apart for years. His wife is in shock that he is still going without doing either of these things. This has strengthened my testimony about the power of the preisthood. This when combined with faith and sincerity, makes a real physical change in the lives of people. Walter physically felt the blessings of this priesthood and said that this has really made an impact on him.
This gospel is something real as I have said. The priesthood of God, his power, has been restored to the earth, and I´ve seen that. I´ve been thinking a lot about the power of the priesthood and the responsiblity we have to respect and magnify that priesthood. It´s a steep responsibility but a privilege that brings incredible changes into the lives of the person who has that priesthood and the lives of those around him.
I miss you all and will be looking forward to letting you know what happens with changes. I love you!

Hey family,
Well first off, I am extremely jealous of Mom and Dad and hope that they are enjoying themselves. I would love to go to Europe one day, maybe when I´m married for 25 years I can do it too. With respect to public prayers it is so crazy here in Guatemala. The people end their songs with their guitars and their drums and immediately begin to pray screaming in the microphone so that everyone with 2 or 3 blocks can here the prayer. It is interesting how basic that is in the teachings of Chirst and it just isn´t accepted. Also there are a couple Catholic churches that I have seen in Antigua that are cool and I´m sure there are more that I haven´t seen.

Anyways this week was very very good. This area has so much potential and we have been able to see many results of our hard work in this week. We have been working with a lot of families that we haven´t been very sure about due to different differences. 2 of them came to church. We were ecstatic and they said that they want to come back to church. It was insane basically herding (I am in no way dehumanizing these people, but just to give you an idea) 12 people to classes and whatnot. The families have a few problems, one of them being that they aren´t married, but they have good intentions and have felt and seen differences in their homes from our lessons so I feel as if they will progress.

We also are teaching a family that wasn´t able to come to church that I am very excited about. It´s the Vasquez Family and the dad´s name is Alejandro who I am most excited about. He understands and agrees with our message and asked to borrow the Restoration (the 20 minute one) to put it onto his computer. He has expressed to us the discrimination and the things that he has seen that are wrong with his church and pastor and that everything we told him is what he had been waiting for. We had a spirit filled lesson where we were able to testify that this is the true gospel and that this is the gospel that has changed our lives, the gospel that Christ taught when he was on the earth. He has expressed to us that he recognizes the change that he will have to make if he starts on this path and says he wants to do it, but he wants to take it a little slow right now. He told us that there is no way this message couldn´t be true. I feel as if all this potencial in our area will be realized right after I leave haha.

It is so gratifying to be able to see the results of hard work. We need to be careful though and not rush people to baptism, because there have been many areas in my zone that have done that for awhile now and their retention is horrible. That is my biggest fear, that I will help someone arrive at baptism and make one of the best decisions of their life and then due to a flismy testimony, they fall away. Obviously they have their agency, but what we need to avoid is pressuring or scaring people to baptism, something that is possible at times because of the culture here in Guatemala.

I love missionary work. It´s hard sometimes, but it is so fun when we are working hard and are able to see the results of that work. This gospel is true, that´s why I´m here right?



Hello my family,
I just wanted to start off saying that it was so good to talk you and almost the hardest thing I´ve ever done hanging up. But, when I get back, I´ll live in a world of cellular phones and family phone plans, so not to worry. It was really good to hear from everyone and I hope I didn´t disappoint you with my end of the call. Not that this is a performance or anything, but if you did have to judge that 40 minutes how would you rate it?

Anyway to answer Mom´s questions Elder Patterson has 15 months (or around there) and yes Elder Morgan is in my zone so we see each pretty frequently. It´s weird though because he is with a gringo companion and it feels as if he is conforming his personality to his companion or something and so we don´t get along like we used to... strange. Also I just wanted to comment that all my sisters (and brother) are gorgeous. Thank you for all the pictures. I didn´t have time to send any pictures today but I should be sending a CD off soon.

Anyways aside from talking with my family this week was alright. We have been working very hard but have run into a lot of disappointments. We feel as if we are running into a wall. We have found and are finding a lot of families but all of them progress to the Book of Mormon and say they want to know if it is true, but will not read it unless we read it with them. They always say they will read and pray but they don´t. We are praying that someone will take that initiative to know for themselves. I was thinking about this and I read a quote by Boyd K. Packer (I think) that said you cannot a force or pressure the spirit. You can set up an environment where the Spirit can testify, and they need to do their part from there. So, I´ve been learning a lot of patience knowing that we´ll see some progress here soon.

I already told my family this but this week we also did a contacting activity where we all went and shined shoes for free. I can now say that I have a lot of respect for those little insistent children who run around actually ASKING to shine shoes. I don´t know what demon has posessed them to ask for that work. Just kidding (to a certain extent) it was a fun activity and pretty effective. It is fun to mix things up and get your hands dirty (quite literally). I apologize for making that terrible pun. Anyways we were able to talk to a lot of people and I hope in this week we can go talk to them.

I just want to write thank you guys (my family) for all your support. It means so much to me and is such a boost getting letters, emails and packages, when I really need them. I know that there is reason we are in our family together, and I´m happy to say that my best friends mostly consist of my family members. I love you guys and while I miss you a lot, I know this time is and will be worth it. When I get back we´re definitely going to take a cute family picture or something like that to capture our cute little faces together. I´ll talk to you next week!