I received my new indigenous-speaking companion! To answer your question, Elder Tzoc (pronounced “sock”) is a full-time missionary; not a Stake Missionary…even though he is from Totonicapán, which is only a few miles away. He was originally serving his mission in Honduras when he had to come home after only 2 months in the mission field due to some medical issues. Apparently he gets severe headaches when he spends a lot of time in the heat of the sun. So he ended up returning to Guatemala. After a year, he decided to resubmit his papers… and because of his medical condition, they decided to call him to serve in the Xela mission, even though his home town of Totonicapán is in the Xela Mission boundaries.
It has been very beneficial having a companion who speaks Quiché. Being able to speak the native language of the people opens up a lot of doors. The people here are much more inclined to listen to our message once they discover we speak “Quiché. Although there are various changes in the Quiché language from village to village. Elder Tzoc is from Toto, which is only 20 miles from Paná, as the crow flies… but apparently there are enough changes that my companion often doesn’t recognize certain words used in Pancá, and sometimes they don’t understand certain words he uses.
Unfortunately our companionship has been short-lived. After only one week together, they are pulling Elder Tzoc out of Pancá and sending him to Xela. It is warmer and sunnier in Pancá then it is in Xela, and headaches started up again during his first week here. I’m very disappointed because we were having some great success just in the week we were together. People were much more receptive to us. Plus I was really looking forward to learning Quiché. I can only trust in the Lord that Elder Tzoc completed the work the Lord had sent him here to do in Pancá. I just hope I will be able to realize what the Lord sent him here to accomplish. We don’t always understand the will of the Lord. I do know that through our great unity as a companionship, Elder Tzoc and I were able to set a baptismal date with the oldest son of the 2nd Counselor in our Branch, to whom Elder Vivas never wanted to extend the challenge. Elder Tzoc and I were also able to set a baptismal date with a family of eight! At first, the family told us that they did not have time to listen to your message. When Elder Tzoc came to town, I felt prompted to return and invite the family again to study with us. And they accepted! Not only did they accept the invitation to study with us, they accepted our invitation to be baptized during our first lesson! I just hope, with Elder Tzoc leaving, that my new companion and I will be able to keep the momentum going.
Just to give you a quick update on Santiago and his son Ceferino… It is not that Santiago’s wife doesn’t want to get married to him, she just doesn’t want to have her matrimonial service done through the Church. Like you, I am also curious to know why she let all the rest of her kids get baptized, expect Ceferino. We have never met Santiago’s wife because every time we come by, she hides from us, and we only visit with Santiago. Who knows if she will ever come out from hiding? My new companion and I went to visit them again this week, and I was really hoping we’d finally meet her, since my companion could impress her with his Quiché. Sadly when we arrived, “no cotah a nun o a tat” [translations: they weren’t home]. Too bad we can’t call ahead before we make a 2-hour trek to visit people. No one has phones or electricity here, so we end up getting a lot of exercise. Not very productive, however. Now my companion knows why the missionaries in Pancá are always complaining about how far they always have to walk.