Monday, May 31, 2010

Volcanic Eruption AND Tropical Storm!

Hey! Yo, family!

How did I know that you guys were going to have heard ‘bout the storm and volcano?!?! LOL! You guys sure love me (smiley face). And, thank you for the birthday shout out! Yea . . . It’s weird . . . I’m not a teenager. I’m still just a li’l kid . . . I don’t wanna be all grown up yet. I really don’t . .. LOL . . . But I’m okay with it. I didn’t get to do anything for my birthday . . . LOL . . . I’ll explain why and all that stufffff.

Thanks for all of your updates and especially the Aaliyah updates, of course. I did teach her well if she’s being that random! And, wow! The family is really doing well on missionary work! I congratulate and thank all of you!

Oh! And it sounds like the Celtics and Lakers series should be pretty dog on good.

And, as for me . . . One year in the Mission . . . Holler! It’s weird how time has kinda flown by like a hawk on the wayside. Ummm . . . I can remember everything that was happening exactly a year ago. It’s weird . . . LOL . . . But it means I’m getting’ closer to seeing you guys again!

Well, I’ll start with the boring answering of questions first . . . LOL . . . Ummmm. . . Yes, Church was canceled this week so Manuel did not come to Church. Neither did a bunch of other investigators that were committed to come! It was really a bummer that the story happened, but all of them re-committed to come this week, so I guess it’s all good. Right now, we have four baptismal dates and they are all looking strong! We’ll see if we can come through on these baptisms. I’m sure hoping we can! I really think we can, too.

Okay . . . My new Companion is Elder Martinez from El Salvador. He is 22 and is a convert of three years. He is a very, very quiet guy and is very fresh out of the CCM, so he is very uptight sometimes and tends to stress a lot . . . LOL . . . I have really seen improvement in him in the one week we have had together. He is contacting better, teaching better, talking to more people, speaking up and doing the right things on his own without me telling him to do so! Right now, he can’t sign on to his e-mail ‘cause he can’t remember his password and login. I think he’s starting to talk to the computer . .. LOL . . . But, yea, my Companion is obedient and that’s all I can really ask for. He will be a good companion and we will have success together.

I have realized a change in myself from my Mission. I have learned soooo much patience and have learned not to get mad. I’m just always chill and happy . . . LOL . . . It’s kinda cool. A car drove by a huge puddle the other day and purposely soaked us and I didn’t care! LOL! I just laughed! I definitely wouldn’t have had that reaction before the Mission! LOL!

Okay! Exciting info now! LOL! Volcano eruption! We were in a lesson and all of a sudden, we heard what we thought was rain, but we couldn’t see anything because it was pretty late. So, we walked outside after the lesson and realized it was raining black sand! The investigators gave us towels to hold over our heads while we walked home. Then, when we woke up, the streets were pureeeeeee black. It was honestly like a beach of black sand. You couldn’t see streets or sidewalks. I think we are like twenty miles from the volcano, but the ash got where we are and it got it goooooood! I guess the volcano caused like 40 deaths, but the deaths weren’t anywhere near where we live. They were all up by the volcano. The people who died weren’t being smart . . . They decided not to leave the area even though they had warnings. It was the Volcano de Pacaya. This volcano is always active throwin’ out like smoke and dust. Before this big eruption, there were earthquakes in the area that warned the people that the volcano was going to erupt, but some people chose not to leave. Pretty sad. It was a cool experience to be living here while that happened. We weren’t in danger at all . . . We just got showered by sand.

Now . . . The tropical storm . . . It was raining at 6:30am when we woke up and, when we went to bed at 10:30pm, it was still raining! It didn’t pause for even one itty bitty second! It rained aaaaaallll day and, yes, we got soaked! A huge bus splashed us and soaked us some more! LOL . . . It was, ummmmmm, fun? We got in two houses all day and they were members’ homes. People didn’t wanna let us in, I think, ‘cause of how soaked we were. I had bubbles shooting out of my shoes because they were full of water. We finally entered the house at 6:30pm (which is early) and, there, we received notice that a hurricane was on its way! We also found out that Church was canceled and that we could not leave the house at all. So, I was a li’l nervoussssss! We had to have our emergency bags ready (food, clothes, matches, etc . . . LOL). They said the hurricane was gonna hit at 5:00am, but when we got up at 6:30am, it hadn’t hit. I guess the course changed. All of your prayers and faith were answered. We were all very protected and, after the storm of Saturday, Sunday was chill and we received the okay to go to work at 3:00pm in the afternoon. It was soooooo boring to be in the house ‘til then. We went to Zusi’s house because one of her rooms was destroyed. So, we did service for her all day and did one visit more. I guess the flooding left close to 500 people dead. So sad . . . Luckily, no one from my area was killed. We are all safe and good, so don’t worry.

So, yea . . . It was a very exciting week . . . LOL . . . But not because of missionary work! LOL! It was exciting because of the weather! We were all good . . . A li’l wet, but the house is all dry so we are good! The Lord protects His missionaries! This next week will be much better with the missionary work. It was really beaten down by this weather.

Thank you for all of your prayers! Hit me up! Love you all! Sorry . . . I’m very unfocused because I’m trying to help out my Companion with his e-mail . . . LOL . . . If you have questions, let me know!

Love you all!

Monday, May 24, 2010

The coolest story of my mission so far!

Heyyyyy . . . Yo, family!

I very much appreciated your e-mail yet again this week! Sounds like you had quite the week! LOL! I’m hoping that mine topped yours, though! I can’t top the Aaliyah story, though. I love that girl . . . A lot . . .

Oh! Question . . . In the video you sent me of “Christmas Past”, did it only have up until around five years ago? I don’t have all the years . . . Whuuuuud up with that? LOL . . . Just wondering . . .

Aaaight . . . I’ll save my best story for last . . .

So . . . I’ll start with what’s going on and what’s gone on so far today. Well, this morning, I had a couple of interviews before our Change Conference. And then, when they announced changes, I was made a District Leader again and I was also called to be a Trainer yet again. I will be the only Trainer in the capital . . . LOL . . . Kinda a bummer that everyone else (eight others) get to train in Coban and Peten. It’s all good, though. I’m excited to be able to have another child. I’m NOT excited about the fact that I gotta get up at 4am tomorrow morning to go to the CCM. Buuuuuuut . . . I do get to go to the Temple again which I look forward to very, very much. Well, it’s not the Temple I look forward to, it’s the learning and Celestial Room that I look forward to. And, since I don’t have a companion right now, I am with two others Elders that will be training as well. We are just waiting together until we receive our children tomorrow. So, right now, I’m with Elder Meza from Honduras and Elder Tombriz from here in Guatemala.

Other notes from the Change Conference . . . A young man named Elder Peterson came to my District and will be Elder Barrientos’ companion. It’s pretty cool ‘cause I really like the kid and he already knows a lot of signs from before the mission.

My District is a li’l crazy . . . LOL . . . But I look forward to the challenge, of course! I really look forward to training, though, ‘cause I really feel like I can be a much better trainer because of all that I’ve learned from the first time I trained. So, yea . . . We will see, yo!

Can you please tell Brother Heath that I love the letters he sends me about how the Ward back home is doing? Soooo . . . Please keep sending them to me! Thanks a billion!!!!!

I wanted to say “Happy Birthday” to Dylan! Can you guys believe he’s 17!!!!!!!!! That’s soooooo weird to me! Dude . . . He’s only two years away from his Mission! Isn’t that weird??? Well, anyway . . . I love you li’l guy . . . I hope you had a great birthday!

Well, recap on Elder Maradiaga . . . I learned a lot from Elder Maradiaga and I consider him to be a very good friend. Every single day with him was fun and we had the most amazing lessons together. I really can’t imagine that I will have lessons like what we had together ever again. The special thing was that we had a pretty good amount of knowledge (for missionaries . . . LOL) that were just goin’ full strength in the lessons. It was really cool . . . And then, in Change Conference, he gave his going home testimony and he did an amazing job! He gave it in Spanish, English and K’echi. His English was really good, though! I knew he could speak well, but he gave his testimony like perfectly! Soooo . . . yea . . . I hope I see him after the mission. He said he will be comin’ to the States, so we will see . . .

Okay . . . My cool, cool, cool story. Well, there is a guy in this area whose name is Manual. He is a doctor and a Priest. A really, really smart dude in the Bible and in medicine . .. LOL . . . I had contacted him a long time ago and he had only told us to come back, but I could feel he was sincere so we put an appointment with him for another day. Well, on the day of our appointment, we couldn’t go because we were too busy. So, we went by the next day and he still invited us in. Well, he was home alone. When we started, he asked us, “What is this book, Nephi, that you guys have?” So, we told him we would get to that answer and we started teaching the Restoration. We taught up to the point in Jesus Christ’s ministry on earth and then a bunch of people came home and started yelling and the Spirit kinda got lost in all the sounds. My Companion and I could feel that the Spirit wasn’t suuuuuper strong, but we kept teaching the lesson anyway. The cool thing, though, is how focused he was on what we were saying. We shared the apostasy and then we go to the beautiful message of Joseph Smith and the Restoration. Right after we shared the First Vision and how Joseph Smith found and translated the plates, how he received the authority and what the Book of Mormon is, he got up out of his chair and walked over to the tv. He grabbed a big roll of tape and a piece of paper. He then started to trace the roll of tape. Once he had the nice circle drawn out, he drew a li’l pizza slice in it. Then he showed us his drawing and said, “I had a dream . . . I had all of this part (the big part of the circle, minus the pizza slice) figured out, but I couldn’t connect it all until you guys gave me this part (the li’l pizza slice) to complete it and connect it all” . . . Wow!!!!!!!!! How cool, huh????? Then he asked without delay . . . “Where is your Church? What is the address?” My companion and I looked at him like complete dorks with our mouths wide open. I know I looked like a dork because I felt exactly like my companion looked . . . LOL . . . What Manuel told us honestly took my breath away! It was amazing! Then, on Sunday, he came to Church! We talked about the gospel for a while and he kept referring to himself as a Mormon and a Latter-Day Saint! I then asked him, “Do you know that this it he true Church?” He then said, “Of course this is the true Church and it gives me a tingly feeling from my toes to my head!” HHHOOOOOOOWWWWWWW COOL!!!!!!!!! We then put a baptismal date with him and it’s for the 12th of June. Cool, huh? That’s probably the coolest story of my mission so far!

This is the work of the Lord! I sure love you all! Be good and safe! Loveeeeee you!!!!!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

It has been an amazing change!

Oooooookay! Here I am again!

Well, as for plans for today . . . I’m kind just being a good sport and letting my companion take me where he wants to say good-bye to everyone ‘cause this is his last P-Day!!!!!!!!! Aghhhh! Weird! So, yea . . . This morning we went to this place in the middle of nowhere were Maradiaga started his mission and he said “bye” to everyone there. After we use the internet, we will probably go say good-bye to more people in some places where Maradiaga was before . . .

Elder Maradiaga’s last day of work is on Sunday . .. Then he will give his last testimony in Change Conference a week from today. Then he stays a day or two with the Assistants, I believe to do classes and activities. Then I think he is back in his house on Wednesday . . . Crazy, huh? I dunno for sure on anything, but I think that’s the way it works . . .

Good to hear that your talk went well yesterday. I was reading yesterday and I was thinking ‘bout you and your talk. I was lookin’ through my old notes on the topic of Charity. I realized that my favorite scripture on Charity is 1 Corinthians 13. Send me the talk you gave, Mom. If you took good notes . . .

You are a champ for many reasons, mother . . . And one of them is your sewing ability! LOL! And for doing all that sewing and, I’m sure, for free! I’m sure hoping the best for Dylan in his play. I’m sure he will do amazing. Wish him good luck for me, though! And tell him to hit me up on DearElder asap, yo!

I think your Lakers should handle the Suns pretty easily . . . But the Suns must be playing really, really well right now, so anything can happen! I still take you guys to be the Champs again this year, though. And yea . . The Celtics look real good, huh? That’ll be a fun series, I think.
I wrote Dad about how much better I’m eating . .. LOL . . . Ask him how I’m doing on that. Don’t stress on me, though . . . I’m doing better now!

We taught 33 lessons this past week which is pretty dog on good. I’m happy to say that people are really listening to us. It’s really been an amazing change, Mother. Every week has been good.

More questions? Comments? LOL . . . I’m sure a missionary . . .

Well, we only have four baptismal dates right now. Technically, we have six, but two can’t get married yet, so we don’t count them. We look forward to putting lots in this week and the week to come. Our area is still looking very strong. My companion really is leaving me a better than I was before he arrived. It has been an amazing change.

This week we got to go to the Temple. We always go really early in the morning so sometimes it’s hard to really learn. But, this week, I was very attentive in there and I feel like I really learned a lot. Well, I realized a lot of things . . . LOL . . . I have a lot of questions that I gotta study up on. Even if I study really hard, though, I’m sure I won’t find all or even many of the answers. It’s all good, though . . . LOL . . . When we got into the Celestial Room, I read my whole Patriarchial Blessing and I feel like I really took a lot from that opportunity as well. I learn something new every time I read it. It’s really, really cool. After I read the whole blessing and pondered on it for a while, I started saying one of those great Celestial Room prayers (just complete peace and clearness of mind). When I finished my prayer, I realized that I was the only person left in the Celestial Room!!!!!! Wow! How peaceful and calm! It was amazing.

Thanks for all the support and love! Oh! And have you sent a package to me or not yet? Just wondering . . . No rush or worries . . . Just curious . . .Thanks! Love you sooooooooo much!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The family is impossible to take out of the heart

Heyyyyyy, yo!

Thanks for still writing me a good letter even though we talked so much yesterday! It was really so, so, so special to be able to hear all of your voices again. I sure love and miss you all. The family is impossible to take out of the heart, huh? Tell Stacie again that I love her and I’m so sorry that we didn’t get to talk for a very long time.

Ummmmmm . . . With your talk on Charity, I can’t think of much to say. If I were talking ‘bout Charity, I would always talk about you and Aunt Skye . . . LOL . . . So you can take that idea if you like! Maybe something different you could do is to talk about how Charity is not just loving, but acting upon that love. You can also talk about how to grow in Charity. Yes . . . Charity is a God-given gift, but He desires that we all receive that gift. I’ll let you figure out how . . . Part of giving talks is learning from what you study to give the talk, so I can’t give you all the ideas! Haha! You’ll do a great job, though! Good luck and lemme know how you do!

Well, I really don’t have much to say because everything was basically said yesterday. I think I will take some time today to write to some people who I haven’t been able to respond to because of time. I sure love you guys, though! And I really appreciate all you do for me and for each other. Nothing makes me happier than knowing that you guys are happy. Be safe and good!

Monday, May 3, 2010

We could help make another eternal family!!!!!

Hello, family!

Thanks for all of the updates! I was very excited to hear about everyone! Thank you!

Ummmm . . . To be honest, I hadn’t made up my mind on how I was gonna handle this “calling on Mother’s Day” situation. I just decided right now, though, that I will be calling you at like 2:00pm (my Guatemala time). I think that should suffice for that info . . . (When I let Derek know that we have Church from 1:00pm to 4:00pm and asked if he could call either before or after that, he wrote, “Okay, then! Have it your way! You’re sooooo selfish! LOL . . . No . . . I’m just playin’ mother. I love you, Mom . . . LOL . . . Ummmm . . . Yea, I’ll call at like 6:00pm. Is that okay? Well, 6:00pm my time, that is . . .”)

I’m sorry I haven’t sent you any pictures lately . . . I will try to get them off to you . . .

I think my letter to you guys today is gonna be a li’l shorter than usual but don’t worry! I’ll talk to you on Sunday! Hollerrrrrrrrrrrr!

My chest hair is growin’ like Dylan’s! Kind cool, huh? Kinda . . .

Congrats to Stacie for the graduation! This is pretty dog on amazing! I never thought she was gonna make it! LOL . . . Just playin’, sis . . . Kinda . . . Sometimes . . . But congrats to you, Mom and Dad, too! All three of your big kids have graduated from College! Pretty cool stuff! Good job, Mom and Dad!

Well, I’ll try to hit y’all with my updates real quick . . . It was a pretty dog on good week, too!

We had Zone Conference this week. Aaaaannnnddddd . . . It was especially cool ‘cause President Falabella was the person who spoke basically the whole time! I love General Authorities! They explain everything sooooooo easily so that everyone understands and they even include all the “harder to explain” doctrine, too! It’s pretty dog on cool. So, yea . . . I got to meet him and all and take notes on his amazing talks.

Think you can send me my genealogy? All of a sudden, I have an interest in seeing that!

So, yea . . . The baptism on Wednesday went great! The Second Counselor in our Ward baptized her. The thing about Lucy is that she has gone to Church like an amazing member for over a year, but she was just married so that she could be baptized! It was pretty cool ‘cause when she shared her testimony, you could feel how much she had been waiting for the day of her baptism to come. The other cool part was that her husband came to the baptism and I finally got to meet him. Before this, he would never talk to me. The best part ‘bout him being there is that he must have felt the special spirit that is only brought during a baptism, because after the baptism he set an appointment with us for this Wednesday!!!!!!!! I’m so excited for what could happen with him! We could help make another eternal family!!!!!!!

Gloria was baptized this Saturday! I got to perform her baptism and it was also very special because of all she went through to get to that point. To get it all together with her and have her baptized was pretty dog on coooooolyyy wooooollyyy. It was also cool because her husband died over a year ago and he had been investigating the Church at the time of his death. I have no doubt that he is accepting the gospel in heaven and that, one day, they will be sealed as an eternal family.

On Sunday, both Lucy and Gloria were confirmed!

With Sunday being Fast and Testimony Meeting, Luis and Paolo (the children we baptized last month ago) got up and shared their testimonies. Both of them shared their conversion stories and about what they could feel in their hearts when they asked Heavenly Father if this is the true church. They were both so nervous to share their testimonies for the first time! They did amazing, though!!!!! And, it made me soooooooooooo, soooooooooooo proud. It was a really, really cool feeling.

One other notable testimony was given by a li’l 9-year old. Her dad was supposed to baptize Gloria but he fell into a drinking problem three days before the baptism. It was really, really sad because he couldn’t baptize Gloria but also very sad because he and his family were going to be sealed in the Temple as a family on May 29th. Now they have to wait a while longer. Sad, huh? His daughter went up and said, “I was sad because my dad drank but he said he repented and he will always stay in Church.” LOL . . . Needless to say, the dad was very embarrassed. LOL . . . I love little kids. It was a great li’l shot at her dad that he probably needed . . . Maybe . . . LOL . . . I don’t think he will be drinking again anytime soon . . .

Happy Birthday to Grandpa and Uncle Ed!

Well, that’s all for me! I sure love you all and can’t wait to talk to you! Holler!