Here are the happenings from last week:
- Last Sunday: After 14 days of being out in the field, I finally had the privilege of eating a traditional Guatemalan meal of rice, beans, and tortillas! Which just goes to show how over- exaggerated Dad is about how Guatemaltecos eat the same meal everyday (note from Dad: When I served in Xela, we didn’t cook our own meals, and we had Tortillas, Beans, and rice or eggs with every meal. Since missionaries in Xela now cook their own meals, they no doubt eat more American food, and less tortillas). After dinner my companion and I taught a family he calls the “Calidad family.” I call them the “Brinker family of my mission” because of how much they love us. They like to keep us well fed, like the Brinkers did with Dad. They actually brought us over a pizza one day last week. Although they are pretty strong Catholics, they were very receptive to the idea of the Book of Mormon, as another testament of Jesus Christ, and as a companion to the Bible. One thing that makes me nervous is that they have a daughter who is my age who I am pretty sure has the hots for me. Don’t worry, I will be careful.
- Monday: P-Days are usually pretty chill days, and not much happened worth writing about. I was talking to one of the other gringo missionaries in my zone, and we came up with the “job requirements” one would have to meet in order to work as a “caller” on a microbus in Guatemala (note from Dad: Guatemalan buses have a driver and a caller. The caller stands at the door of the bus and collects money from passengers. The caller will yell out to people on the street to announce where they are going, to see if anyone wants to get on the bus. Microbuses are the small buses that just take you around the city. The larger “chicken buses” will take you from city to city).
- Prerequisites for the Job:
- 1.) First, you have to be able to say “parque” three times consecutively without running out of breath. And you need to be able to repeat it every 20-30 seconds.
- 2.) You have to able to put a little less emphasize on the “par,” and slightly more emphasize on the “que” when you say “parque.” You have to be able to pronounce “parque” in the same over-exaggerated accent as everyone else that works on a microbus.
- 3.) You cannot be one of those American hippies who lives in Xela Central because if you were an American guy yelling “park, park, park” on a microbus, people would just be wondering why some gringo is trying to impersonate a dog. As you know, they call dogs “chuchos” here in Guatemala.
- Photo of Jake on a Guatemalan MicroBus
- Wednesday: While Elder Lopez and I were on splits, I felt inspired to contact a home that sat on top of a hill. When we arrived at the home, to our anguish, a pack of about 15 “chuchos” who had been nestling behind the side of the house, greeted us, and surround us as we approached the home. Just as we were about to pelt the chuchos with rocks, and book it out of there, the owner of the home came out, and all the dogs walked away to go back to lay down on the side of the hill. It was as if this guy was some kind of dog whisper. At first I was regretting ever thinking that the Spirit was wanting us to contact this home, but we ended up setting up another appointment to meet with Eric.
- Thursday: Usually, after every lesson, I will ask the family we are teaching if they need us to help them with anything. On Thursday, someone finally accepted our invitation! After how many blisters I got on my hands from helping this lady de-cob corn for tortillas, I don’t think I will be asking anyone soon if they need our assistance with anything again. Just kidding, it was an awesome experience, and I am thankful for the opportunity. I need to toughen up my little gringo hands. (note from Dad: Jake wasn’t taking the green husks off corn, he was breaking dried/hard corn off the cob with his thumbs. It is extremely rough on the hands. Guatemalan women build up calluses on their hands over the years).
- Photo of Jake with blisters on his thumbs
- Friday: I was blessed with another opportunity to give a blessing to a mother of a family who was really sick, which allowed the family to feel the Spirit very strongly during our visit. If I had been lazy, and hadn’t listened to the promptings of the Spirit to climb up the side of a mountain to get to this house, this family would have missed out on the opportunity to feel the Spirit that we were able to bring into their home that day.
- Saturday: I would not be surprised if I get “boo” for the first time in the next few days! (Note from Dad: “Boo” is a Guatemalan missionary term for “diarrhea” because it sneaks up on you when you least expect it). A new family that we found last week served us jello that I am pretty sure was made with contaminated water. The jello had all these floaties in it. Well, if getting “boo” is the price to allow families to receive the blessings of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, than I guess I’ll have “boo” for all two years. You know, the funny thing about boiling water here is that, out of the 4 missionaries that stay in the same house as me, I am the only one who is extremely cautious about not using contaminated water. I guess after a certain point during the mission, you just become “a honey banger,” and you just accept the fact that you are going to get “boo” eventually. As they say in the mission, “what happens in Guatemala, stays in your ‘G´s.’”
- Sunday: Yesterday was probably one of the happiest moments of my mission so far! What happened you ask? Well, a Church member who I’ve named “piss-drunk David” came to Church yesterday! The reason I call him “piss-drunk David” is because he is always so drunk every time we try to visit him, that he literally has piss stains on the front of his pants. Who would have thought? Out of all the people we invited to come to Church, David was the one I least expected to actually come! Especially considering the fact that Saturday was the only day this week that we visited David when he wasn’t piss drunk. Hopefully attending Church is just what he needed to lead him to have a desire to make a change to his life. It is so hard to see him so drunk all the time. It’s quite sad.
By the way thanks for the goodies you sent! Now you definitely do not have to worry about me loosing weight! Ironically, I was actually just complaining to the other gringo missionary who lives in my apartment, that I really wished they sold PopTarts here in Guatemala; and then the next thing I know, I was eating a PopTart for breakfast from my care package. I just wish there was a way you could send milk here!
That is awesome to hear that Reagan is doing better in school! Although I am curious to know what she is learning in school after reading all the crumpled homework assignments of hers that you used as bubble-wrap filling in my care package.
Before I finish off this email, I just wanted to let you know that I must have been pretty righteous in the pre-earth life to be blessed with such a loving mother! Although it will be difficult sometimes to be away from you for two years, I am grateful that I have a mother who has blessed me with the knowledge of the gospel in my life. And now I have the opportunity to comfort others with the knowledge that through God’s plan families never have to be separated again after this life.
That’s all for this week. I love you.
Con amor, tu hijo, Jake (Elder Cudney)
P.S. I have plenty of clothes to keep me warm, so do not worry about me freezing too much. I know you are just concerned about my health because you love me soo much. I actually do not think it is that cold here. The temperature, at least near Xela, is a lot like Washington. I might need to buy a new suit a year into the mission, but right now it is still in pretty good condition since I only wear it for church. I was wondering if there is a way to sow the metal clip back onto my suits pants. Right now I am just using the inner button on the pants, and a belt to keep them up. Actually, the thing that is not in good condition are my church shoes. I have only worn them for 2 full Sundays, and the innersoles of them are already getting trashed. So I will probably just wear my boots from now on for church.
P.S.S. Thanks for sending photos of Leah’s Special Olympics Award Banquet. Soooo sweeet! I love getting photos of Leah. It just makes me feel happy every time I get down on myself knowing that I will get so see a photos of little “gookers” on Mondays.