The Gringo Odd Couple and My First Easter in Guatemala

Las Flores - The Odd Couple

I have a new companion! His name is Elder Dickson, from Utah. He is a gringo who is 6’5” tall. I am not going to lie that it is a little weird walking the streets together…both of us being gringos, and me only being 5’8”while the other one is a giant. People seem a bit confused when two “canches” show up on their door step (Note from Dad: “canche” is what Guatemalatecos call Americans – it means “light hair”). Elder Dickson is a super sweet companion. He is not only super easy going, but he is also a very hard worker…which is good, considering the fact that he only has 3 months left on his mission. And since he has 21 months in the mission field, he is pretty much a pro at missionary work. I am learning a lot from him. The only problem is that because he is 6’5” a brisk walk to him, is like a jog for me.

Las Flores - Digging a trench 2Now, when I say my companion is a hard worker, it apparently only applies to missionary work. On Wednesday he pulled a fast one on me. The new greeny (Elder Castillo’s companion) and I got stuck doing back-breaking labor, digging a water-way for 4 hours so that Hermana Flores and her neighbors would have access to water. Las Flores - blistersMeanwhile, Elder Castillo and my companion got out of it by conveniently booking an appointment to look at a house to rent at the same time we were digging the trench. We are looking to rent a new house because our current house is infested with fleas. Those “jiotes” avoided getting their hands covered in blisters this week, unlike me. That’s what happens when you are the junior companion.

My first Easter in Guatemala: They have big Easter parades here in Guatemala. Every town will form a precession behind an actor portraying Jesus, carrying a cross over his shoulder. We saw a bit of the Easter Parade while we were walking home, and I took a photo of one of the floats. Las Flores - Easter FloatBut that was about the extent of what we saw. Later that night, they take a dummy, representing Judas, and they lug him around the town asking for “pan para Judas” (bread for Judas). I don’t know why they ask for bread. They actually make a bread here called “Pan de Yema,” which I am pretty sure we ate more of this week than lessons we taught. Giving away loaves of sweet bread is a big part of Easter here. They literally make so much of this bread, that almost everyone gave us a loaf to take home. We had so much bread piled up in our house, that I could have made a bead out of it. I was actually considering giving a free loaf of bread out to every new investigator we found this week, and telling them that we made it special for them.

To be honest, I actually had a pretty awesome Easter. How often do you get to celebrate the resurrection of Christ by watching General Conference? It is actually really surprising how much the mission has changed my view of Conference. Before my mission, it seemed like Conference never ended; especially Priesthood session. Now that I have finally started viewing Conference as if it is a time when God communicates with us, I find that Conference goes by so quickly. The disappointment I feel when Conference ends, is like the same disappoint I feel when I run out of time while writing to you guys each week. I have come to love Conference so much during my mission. I suspect that the night before next General Conference in October, it will feel like Christmas Eve to me. Imagine if everyone treated General Conference as if it was the time of year when we get to hear our Heavenly Father speak to us directly. If everyone saw Conference that way, there is no doubt that everyone would come to listen to Him speak. Listening to his living prophets and apostles speak is the same thing. (Note from Dad: When I served my mission in Guatemala 24 years ago, they did not broadcast General Conference live with instantaneous translation into Spanish. We had to wait a month for a video cassette to arrive with all the Spanish translations, and then the Stake Presidents would hold a Conference and play the cassettes).

Sadly, Elder Castillo took Carmolina from me. Carmolina is the lady I was really hoping to continue teaching. She loves the spirit we bring to her home so much that she actually told us that she was really disappointed when we missed a recent appointment with her due to other obligations. However, I do get to continue teaching Carlos and Estephanie, who are still on track with reading the Book of Mormon; and both said that if they continue feel the fruits of the spirit while reading, they will get baptized. My companion and I have an a Family Home Evening lesson we have to prepare for tonight. We plan and set a baptism date with the mom of the girl that was just baptized two Sundays ago. So I have to get going. Remind me to tell you guys of about our Chambone of a mission leader next week. I cannot wait to talk with you on Mother´s Day next month.

Te amo, Elder Cudney

P.S. Could you please send me the recipe for banana bars? I have found that cooking with investigators usually seems to be an effective way to gain confidence with members; and bananas are super cheap here.

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