Life in the mission is wonderful!
Let me start this week’s email by answering a few of your questions…
Yes, the hiking boots have come in quite handy. I can’t believe hiking boots are not on the list of items to bring. And the waterproof feature is extra nice. I am the envy of all the mission. My poor companion actually found some hiking boots that a previous missionary had left in Pancá that he now uses… But they are not waterproof, so he usually air dries his shoes and feet with the fan in our pad at the end of the day.
Yes, the mission president doesn’t want us traveling all the way to Xela to buy food because Xela is so far away from our area, and it is an all-day event…albeit we do it on a P-Day. But there are some challenges of buying our monthly food supply in Momos rather than Xela…
- First, there are only tiendas (small stores) in Momos, whereas Xela has some large grocery stores. When the missionaries go to Xela to do their monthly food shopping, they would always fill their suitcases to the brim with food, so they didn’t just have to eat the same thing every week. Shopping at tiendas in Momos is like making a monthly grocery shopping trip at a 7-Eleven (but smaller).
- There are tiendas in Momos that sell chicken and meats, but there are no tienda in Pancá that sells any meats. Although we have a fridge in our pad, it is challenging to get fresh meat back to our area before is spoils. In Xela, we can find frozen meat, which we can usually keep frozen till we get back if we pack it in the middle of the suit case and pack the other groceries around it.
Sorry for scaring you last week when I cut my emails short due to a bad fever. My fever just continued to progressively get worse throughout the day, to the point that I was barely able to walk, and I had a very difficult time making it back to my area. On the positive side, the experience actually turned out to be a powerful testimony builder of my faith. I was really sick… this was right up there among the worst viruses I have ever endured… and I was a bit worried because I am so far away from any hospital. So I decided to plead with God that, through my faith in the Lord, I might be relieved of my symptoms. After I could no longer bear to be on my knees any longer, due to the extraordinary pain, I felt a prompting to remove my socks from my feet. Although at the moment I did not see how exerting my energy to take off my socks would help me feel better, I decided to act upon the impression. I removed my socks, and laid down. Slowly my symptoms began to vanish, until I did not even feel the pain any longer.
It’s funny how the Lord tests our faith with very simple gestures. Like when Naaman asked Elisha to cure him of his leprosy, and Elisha told Naaman to wash himself in the Jordan River. Naaman couldn’t understand this, and why something as simple as washing himself in a specific river would heal him, but he eventually obeyed the Lord, and was healed. I felt prompted to remove my socks after praying, so I exercised faith to act upon that prompting… even though at the time I did not understand why the simple act of removing my socks would make any difference. But it is just the Lord’s way, I guess, of testing our faith sometimes. I believed that God could take away my fever, and if all I had to do was remove my socks to demonstrate my faith, than so be it.
You know, I have to rely on faith to be healed here. I can never rely on a “Chapin” (a Guatemalan) to nurse me back to health. I would not trust the ancient remedy cures they try to give people here. It is almost as bad as bleeding with leeches from the local voodoo witch doctors. I wouldn’t trust them to administer medication from the pharmacy either, because the majority of them can’t even read the labels of what they are giving you. I still had to suffer the rest of the week with “boo” (diarrhea) unfortunately.
To give you an update on the baptism we had planned for this week… It looks like the baptism of Santiago’s son has fallen through…at least for the time being. Apparently Santiago’s wife, who I have never met, had a change of heart, and no longer wants her son baptized. It was disappointing, and somewhat frustrating because we had set an original date of last Sunday, and then she decided that it would be better to postpone the baptism till the next Sunday (yesterday). The frustrating thing was that we took the 2-hour journey to their home on Saturday to confirm that we were still on for Sunday. They confirmed that it was still a go, but when we arrived at their home on Sunday morning, exhausted from the second 2-hour hike (4-hour round trip), Santiago informed us that his wife no longer wants her son to be baptized. Pretty heartbreaking…and not just because we had to stay up until 11:30pm the night before to fill the baptismal font… and then we woke up the next morning at 4am to turn on the heater before the 2-hour hike to their home, and the 2-hour hike back to the Church for Sacrament Meeting.
To make things worse, our other investigator, Claudia, had been looking forward to seeing the baptism. Claudia had told us that she doesn’t want to get baptized until she can witness a baptismal service first. Consequently, we won’t be able to have Claudia’s baptism until we find another investigator to baptize, so she can see it apparently. Ugh!
You know, despite these struggles, there is not a day that goes by that I don’t consider how lucky I am that I got called to serve in Guatemala. I mean, seriously, this is the country where the Book of Mormon stories most likely took place! I consider myself even more lucky every time I think that I am serving in the same mission where my dad served, and that I will be able to have a special bond with you that most sons don’t ever get to experience with their fathers. It’s worth all the times I have to suffer from “boo.” And why would I not seek out to serve in the remote areas? It is said that the more character building experiences you have on your mission, the more beautiful your wife will be.
Before I forget, I just want to wish you a happy birthday and a happy father’s day, and let you know how much I look up to you as a father. I hope that I can represent your name to the degree that it deserves while I continue to serve among the people of Guatemala. I truly am honored that I have the privilege of not only representing the name of Christ, but also your name while I am on my mission. From the attributes that you have instilled in me, and that I have tried to emulate in my own life, I hope I can be as good of a missionary that I know that you were, based on how great of a dad you are to me.
Te amo Siempre, Elder Cudney