Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A Baptism

We had a baptism!!! Words cannot describe how I felt when we watched A enter the waters of baptism and make a covenant to follow Jesus Christ. It felt like all of my efforts these past months have more than paid off. We met with him again last night and his happiness has carried through the weekend, it is amazing to see how a decision to follow Christ is a decision to change your life for the better.  (KH note: This was the young 12 year old that Sara helped teach - whose mom had already been baptized. I love the grip his sister E has on Saras hand - the length of the pants on A and the look on the moms face)
This week, we had a lesson scheduled with a young man but he had left for work and wasn't home. We then asked his sister (about 17 years old) if we could share a message with her and she agreed. It was a pretty normal lesson about the Restoration and at the end, we invited her to say the closing prayer. She was hesitant at first but then agreed. When she finished her prayer, her eyes were holding back tears and when we questioned what was wrong, she said, with tears streaming down her face, "That was the first time I ever actually prayed." It's little experiences like that that help me continue on in this work.
I had another experience this week...that was very similar to my seal experience I had 11 years ago...but this time it involved a rooster. I now have a dislike for seals and roosters...
We don't have much time to write this week but I am doing super well here. We are busy teaching people and planning for the wedding (it is officially set for the 15 of June), and even though the days are long and the rain comes down hard, I am happy doing this work and I am honored to be a missionary!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

new friends, wedding planners, and baptisms

Hello! I have made two new friends this week: the lady who lives next door to us sells chocolate covered bananas (a gift from heaven) and they have become a little 12 cent present of happiness. Just like I supported Hilberto's with my steady business, I am now supporting her and after the first two times I visited with her, she now gives me two bananas for the price of one! My second friend is a pet parrot who lives with a person near us ...I haven't seen it but every morning the parrot and I whistle back and forth and it has become quite entertaining when I need a little break from studying.

I have good news! We have a baptism set for this Saturday, for a boy who is twelve years old. We have been meeting with him since I arrived in this area and his mom is a recent convert, but he didn't really have any interest in joining the church or being baptized (his parents are divorced and his father doesn't encourage church attendance.) But we keep continuing to visit with him and last week we had a very good lesson where I challenged him to finally make a decision for himself and try to find out if this is the path for him. When we returned for the next lesson, my companion started talking about the Brother of Jared and he interrupted her and said, "I want to be baptized and I'm ready. I have prayed and read and I can't stop thinking about being baptized."

Besides the gospel jargon, we have been learning vocabulary for matrimony...we are wedding planners! We have been teaching a couple with a small baby and at first they didn't want to be married...and then they said, "Maybe in December when our baby turns one"...and now they have agreed to be married on the 15 of July and baptized on the 16! We have been busy trying to contact lawyers and ward members for help but everything is now falling in place and they are ready to make a lifelong commitment to each other and to God. I am so happy for them and I am so excited to be here helping them.
I have really grown to love the people here and whenever I am missing my family and friends from home and thinking of going back, my heart starts to miss the people I have met here. I have only been out for about 3 months but Guatemala already has a strong hold on my heart. I love you guys! The church is true and every day, I can see little miracles when I try to look for them. Until next week! Oh and Happy Birthday to Michael G., Sean A., and Jen B.! :)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A week of miracles

                           Sara and the other sister missionaries in her zone.
                              A trip to the zoo on p-day (preparation day)

This last week was like Christmas! I had my interview with my mission president on Friday, and he brought the mail for my zone! I want to send a special shoutout to Tori, AJ, Adrian, Dallas, Cole, Mom, Alexa, Jen, Lexi, Paige and (a special shoutout to my cousin leaving on her mission soon) :Breann, I got your dearelders! And I got letters from Annie, Mom, Austin, President Hixson (2), the Traina Family, Aunt Val, Steve Rogers, Kaitlyn Williams, Sean and David's wedding anouncement (which my companion saw and said, "Wow! That looks like something in the Ensign"). THANK YOU GUYS SO MUCH! It really means so much to me to hear from so many people and even though I don't know when, or if, I will be able to write back, I love reading them and they continue to help me. (Sara only gets mail when they bring it to her - around every 4 to 6 weeks)
As for the past week, it was a week of miracles. We decided to start getting up at 5:15 a.m. so we can fit in more work and we are beginning to see the fruits of this decision. Here are some of the miracles we saw in the last week:
The woman with the son who found anti-Mormon stuff online: their pastor said the following to their congregation "...Have you guys seen those Mormon missionaries? It is usually a taller North American and a short Latino (they were really excited when we fit that description). They sacrifice months of their life to teach people about Christ. They are young people that work hard knocking on doors and helping the community. What other religion does that? I wish more people in the world were like them." As of now, her son has started reading the Book of Mormon and has asked to meet with us.
The other woman with the teenage daughter: We went on splits this last week, which means my companion and I split up and went with other members of the church to teach our investigators. My companion went to teach them and the mother said, "I am starting to see the real truth in all of this...and yesterday I was thinking about baptism...will you start teaching my son, too?" We met with her son on Saturday and he was really receptive.
We are also teaching a very young family who has a lot of trouble in their marriage. We are challenging them to start praying as a family ("a family that prays together, stays together"). They have been starting to pray as a family and I am starting to see more love between the two parents each lesson...it is amazing that when a couple draws nearer to god, they draw nearer to each other. And we talked about baptism yesterday and how it is a way to start a new life, forgetting all the mistakes we have made and dedicating ourselves to Christ. After we had described this, the husband said, "Alright, let's be baptized."
I am starting to see the influence our message has on people's lives, Marriages, families and individuals are becoming happier because the message of the gospel can fill a person's heart with genuine happiness and purpose that no other thing can satisfy. I know Christ lives and I am honored to be a messenger of this message here. Love you all!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Rainy Season

"Going out to hunt for my dinner . . . . . . just kidding, I had cup of noodles for dinner but here is my machete and our backyard. To the right is our sink!"

When I first heard the term "rainy season", I thought it was just a phrase which meant that it usually rains during a certain set of months. Like clock work, it started raining on May 1 (the first day of "rainy season") and has rained almost every day! And I don't mean little droplets, I'm talking about thunder lightning and thoughts of hot chocolate- I love it! The people here say it is like this until mid-October.
So I'll tell you guys a story since my mom keeps asking for stories. About two weeks ago, we met a woman and gave her the first lesson, when we returned for the second visit, she wasn't home but her sister was (I'll call her F). In only one visit, we talked about the Plan of Salvation and the Restoration! They are both big lessons but she kept wanting to know more. She had met with the missionaries before so she had some background but we were able to expand. When we returned for the second visit with F, her daughter was there also. Her daughter told us about how she knew the Book of Mormon was true and that Joseph Smith was a prophet but she couldn't be baptized without permission from her mom, F (since she's only 15 or 16). F attended church on Sunday and we are meeting with her often, if we are able to help her see the importance of baptism then her daughter can have her permission to be baptized and F can be baptized also! I have grown to love these two people and I really hope they will keep progressing because I know this can change their life in every aspect.
And unfortunately, the woman I mentioned two weeks ago decided to believe the anti-Mormon, anti-Christ information online instead of reading the scriptures and praying. We are still meeting with her and trying to help her see that she can find the truth for herself instead of other people.
Every day has disappointing parts to it but when we see people progressing, the light from them outshine the disappointing darkness.
I have another story to tell but I don't have much time since I want to attach a photo! I'll tell it next week. I love you guys, the church is true and I am a happy missionary