Friday, March 13:
On Friday the 13th, the only memorable thing that happened was that I was involved in my first traffic accident on a “camioneta” (Chicken Bus). Mom, before you worry, please know that I’m fine. Guatemalan bus drivers are so crazy that it was actually difficult to even tell we had crashed. The only sign that the bus had wrecked was that we had stopped.
Saturday, March 14:
On Saturday I decided to do my daily scripture study outside so I could soak up the sun. While out front, some Jehovah’s Witnesses happened by. Since my Spanish is not yet at a level to engage the JW’s in conversation, I decided to invite Elder Lopez to come out as back-up. It was difficult to listen to them without getting sucked into a Bible-bashing contest. However, they did ask us some pretty entertaining questions like “why do Mormons not believe that we live in the Latter days, when the Bible clearly reveals that we are?” Umm, if only I was wearing a tag on my shirt that would demonstrate that Latter-day Saints actually do believe we live in the latter days. Wait, I was! They also tried to tell us that the main purpose of the Bible is not to testify of Christ…this was in response to our claim that both the Bible and the Book of Mormon work together as testaments of Jesus Christ.
Later that day, my companion and I had the opportunity to teach the Santos family. They are a family that was referred to us by the missionaries who served in this area prior to us. This family is super sarcastic, and very fun. When we extended the invitation to pick them up for church, they responded, “we will go, if you throw in a complementary breakfast.” Since no other missionaries have ever been able to get this family to attend church, it was time to think outside the box. My companion and I have been dying to cook a meal for a family anyway, so we actually ended up taking them up on their offer.
Sunday, March 15:
Although we ended up having to wake up a half hour earlier to go cook breakfast on Sunday morning, it was so worth the loss of sleep! The Santos family loved the breakfast! They also really loved the emphasis the Church places on families. In fact they loved it so much, that there is a real good chance they could end up getting baptized. Then they can enter the door that leads to the Temple, which in turn leads to eternal families. Their son even expressed an interest in going on a mission.
The only other memorable moment that happened on Sunday was me falling asleep in the chapel after Church while we waited for the bishop to finish up. We were going to his house for lunch. All the other missionaries thought it was hilarious that I fell asleep… I just told them that I was praying. I don’t think they believed me though.
Monday, March 16:
On Monday during Zone Conference we had an object lesson about the Atonement, which involved pushups and banana bread. A missionary was asked to represent the Atonement by offering 10 pushups for each member of the Zone to be able to receive a slice of banana bread. And since I am the only missionary still fit enough to be able to do over 200 pushups, the privilege fell upon me. The exercise put into perspective, in a simplistic way, how much love Jesus Christ has for each of us. The part of this object lesson that struck me the most was when I still had to do 10 pushups even when some missionaries tried to take compassion on me by declining to take a piece of banana bread. You know, sometimes we might think there is no point in repenting. We may think we are not going to be forgiven, but we have to remember that God’s grace is sufficient for everyone. It is important to also understand that Christ still paid the price for those sins, whether or not we decide to seek forgiveness. If we take advantage of the free gift we have been given by repenting, His sacrifice will not be in vain; and we will be able to take part in the goodness of the Celestial Kingdom, represented by the banana bread.
Tuesday, March 17:
Tuesday was a very good day. We taught Marion about the Restoration with such amazing power, that we feel confident that he will commit to baptism when we meet him again this Saturday. Marion also gained a testimony of the priesthood after he was healed from his sickness when he received a priesthood blessing from us. It was a great opportunity for us to talk to him about how we hold the same priesthood that the Apostles of old held. Marion identified this simple truth, that if Christ gave this sacred priesthood power to his Apostles through the laying on of hands, and those Apostles in turn gave that power to others in the same manner, than one cannot assume this authority without receiving it from one who has the authority; and that authority must be traced back directly to the Apostles. Only one church can hold the same power that Christ held, and to officiate in sacred ordinances. It’s either us or the Catholics. No one else can claim that.
Thursday, March 19:
Thursday started off with a lot of excitement. Thursday was the day my companion and I would challenge the Santos family to be baptized. My companion has been dying to finally baptize someone in Las Flores before he gets transferred. Consequently, we ended up spending the majority of the afternoon perfecting how the night would play out. Since my companion is kind of in touch with his feminine side, he thought it would be clever to invite them in a clever way; kind of how one might ask a girl to prom, or something. He began asking me for ideas on how I might ask a girl to a dance back home. At first I thought he was totally joking, so I suggested buying a cake and putting a note inside of it which would say “will you go to the Celestial Kingdom with me?” Then it occurred to me that my companion was actually serious about going through with this idea. I had to have Elder Darrow convince him that asking a family to be baptized in this manner would be a terrible idea. By the end of the day, we ended up coming up with a workable idea that would lead the family to think about how Christ might feel if He died so that our family could live together forever, yet we did not to take advantage of His gift.
Friday, March 20:
Friday was a very eventful day. We went over to the Suchi’s home for lunch. They are recent converts whom we have been helping prepare to go to the Temple this October. While we were there, we had a competition to see who could eat the most chili peppers in 2minutes. Although it was a pretty entertaining competition, I am pretty sure that my taste buds are now shot. Everything now tastes the same. I also had my first opportunity to try “chicharrones,” which I later found out are fried pig skins. I was pleasantly surprised that they did not taste that bad…which either means my taste buds are destroyed, or I am starting to forget how much better meat taste in the States. We ended the day by having a memorable night of fun and games with the Santos family. We were able to tie the fun games in with a spiritual message that allowed us to set up a baptismal date for the April 11! All eight members of the family committed to being baptized!
Saturday, March 21:
Since my companion is really good at building relationships with investigators, which makes them much more receptive to listening to our messages, and also since Guatemalan women love to cook, my companion decided to go make Oreo balls with Marta and her two adult children. They ended up setting up a date for us to come back over to their home to teach them.
Later, we had another appointment with Marion. Although he says that he feels that the Church is true, he still hesitated to accept our invitation to be baptized. He is concerned about what other people might think about him joining another church after he has played such a big role in his church. Hopefully, during our next meeting, we can get him to realize that doing what God wants him to do is more important than doing what others want him to do.
We ended the day attending the birthday party of another of the Suchi’s cousins, Karen, who is being taught by Elder Lopez and Elder Darrow. She is being baptized tomorrow. Her mother is Hermana Flores, whom we are teaching.
We had a pretty depressing morning on Sunday because the Santos family did not even come to church today. At least I had a lot of fun experiences today which distracted me from thinking about it too much. We played a game at the Suchi’s home while we waited to leave for Karen’s baptism. The game involved balancing a basket on our heads. If the basket fell, we would have to eat 20 chili peppers. Luckily I was able to complete the obstacle course without the basket falling. Thank goodness… I don’t think my taste buds could take another beating.
That afternoon we attended Karen’s baptism. The service was wonderful, and the Spirit was very strong. I hope Karen’s mom could feel the Spirit as well. They served dinner at the baptismal service. Then later we had an appointment with a family, who offered us a second dinner. Then, to end the night, we visited another member, who is a professional cook, so you guessed it; we ended up having to eat a third dinner. I felt I was living a Hobbit lifestyle because, not only was I able to eat third dinner, I walk hundreds of miles a day with a bunch guys who are short like me. I have never eaten as much in my life. I totally felt like I was going to upchuck.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot… we met some guy in the street on Sunday who thought the movie “Johnny Lingo” was Mormon doctrine. LOL
Con amor, tu hijo, Jake