We are at an internet cafe here in Xela. This is where we have to go to use a computer to send emails on P-Days. It cost 5 Quetzales for every hour we spend on the internet. I can upload photos from here, but I have only taken one photo so far. Sorry.
My first area is a barrio right outside of Xela central called Las Flores, and my trainer is Elder Castillo from Mexico. At first I was very nervous about getting a Latino for my first companion, but it has actually really helped me with Spanish. I guess I’m doing fairly well with the language for someone so new in the field. My companion tells me that he normally has to take a dictionary every where he goes when he is training a new gringo missionary, because he usually can’t understand anything they say; and vice versa. For the most part, given my limited vocabulary, I can pretty much understand most of what the people are trying to say to me.
The reddish square area is the barrio “Las Flores”
Elder Castillo is a pretty decent worker, but he does say “calidad” like every tenth word, which occasionally gets annoying (Note from Dad: “calidad” literally means “quality.” It more loosely means “cool” or “awesome.” It is an annoying slang used by missionaries in Guatemala. I hope Jake doesn’t pick up that habit. The fact that he thinks it is annoying is a good sign).
Anytime anyone one here asks me where I am from, I tell them Seattle, WA, but they always think that I am from WASHINGTON DC. So far the members and investigators in my area seem to really like my personality and humor, and hopefully they can tell how hard of a worker I am trying to be, and can feel how much effort I put into speaking Spanish at every opportunity I get. I really hope that through my work ethic, I can inspire members to help the missionaries find people to teach in Las Flores. Our Mission President wants us to work with the members as much as possible, since statistics show we will have more success that way.
Dad, you said that I have a way with children, and that I will probably have a lot of success connecting with people through their children. You will be pleased to know that, after 4 days in the field, I finally found a family with little kids who totally adore me. Hopefully it will be our ticket as you predict.
Probably the most spiritual experience I have had so far was yesterday. I had the opportunity to go up with some members to visit some of their extended family who live in a small shack near the base of a volcano. The family only speaks Quiche (Note from dad: Quiche is one of the native Indian dialects in Guatemala). Not only was it a very humbling experience to see how they lived, it was also a very spiritual experience. I was able to give my very first priesthood blessing in Spanish to a woman who could not even sit up in her bed. After I finished giving the bless, guess what? She sat up! It was pretty miraculous! I realized that we do actually hold the same priesthood power that Christ held when he lived on the earth, that he gave to his apostles. Although this woman was Catholic, she said that she believed we had been given authority from God to act in his name. It just goes to show that, with faith, priesthood holders can really perform any miracle that Christ performed during His ministry.
Oh, I almost forgot to tell you that just two nights ago my companion and I were tracking I got chased down by a bull which led us to the house of a man who ended being really touched by our message. He wants us to continue teaching him and his family.
We are about to leave the internet cafe, but I just want to tell you guys that I am really loving the man I am becoming on this mission. Don’t worry too much about me. I have my Father in Heaven looking after me 24-7 here. Even though I ate rabbit for the first time yesterday, I am still eating plenty, so don’t worry about that either. I love you guys.
Con amor, tu hjio, Elder Cudney
All the missionaries here still call people “jiote,” but I guess Momos is no longer considered the punishment area anymore… notwithstanding most missionaries do not like serving there because it is hard to baptize there.
I’m glad you you bought me two pairs of hiking boots. All the other missionaries in the MTC were so jealous that I knew to bring hiking boots with me. Most of them did not know how beneficial it would be to bring hiking boots instead of just wearing regular church shoes. And the sleeping bag was a great idea too. It actually gets pretty cold at night, and since there is no central heat, the sleeping bag comes in very handy. I haven’t used the camping shower yet. We have an electric shower, which doesn’t work all that well, but it does the job. It’s nice to know that if the power goes out, I can heat up some water on the stove and fill up my camping shower. Good call dad!
Thanks for sending me a small photo album with family photos inside. Hopefully I will not cry too much when I see it. One of the missionaries from my District in the MTC told me that his dad set up a blog were he could post videos and pictures for his son to see. So that probably would not be a bad idea. Could mom send me a recipe book of simple meals I can cook since I did not really take the time to learn how to cook. I had hoped I would have someone here to cook for me like Dad had, but apparently they don’t have people cook for the missionaries anymore in Guatemala. We are responsible to cook all our own meals. Athough we do have someone that does our laundry. So, that’s good. We have a stove, but no oven. We also have a fridge and a microwave.