above: Jake with his native Qhiché speaking companion, Elder Tzoc. Jake was only with Elder Tzoc for one week before his companion was pulled out due to medical issue. He only comes up to Jake’s shoulder…and keep in mind that Jake is only 5’8″. Reminds me of my indigenous companion that was only 4’5″ (see photo in 6/23/15 post).
President Smith actually informed me in my interviews with him last Friday that he had indeed planned to keep me in Pancá for at least the rest of the year… just to see how much Quiché I was able to pick up. That would have meant staying in Pancá at least 8 months! But sadly, with Elder Tzoc having an emergency transfer after only one week here, things did not end up working out as the President had planned. President Smith told me that he is hoping that he can resend Elder Tzoc to Pancá during the winter season…so, we shall see. I did express to the Mission President how much I enjoy serving in the “aldeas.” I might have slit my own throat however since President Smith has a reputation for doing the opposite of whatever a missionary asks of him. I may never serve in an “aldea” ever again now. Actually, he was going to keep me here and teach me Quiché because he heard how excited I am to be here, and heard of my desire learn a native language. So, I guess that theory about President Smith doesn’t hold much water.
Yes, it is very trying to serve in Pancá. We have to wake up at 5:00am to catch a flete when we have meetings in the morning in Momos. Not to mention the amount of hiking we have to do each day. And preparing lessons for institute, Sunday School, and Sacrament Meeting each week adds to the stress level. Despite these challenges, I have grown so much during my time here that I definitely would not mind serving in Pancá for 8 months or longer. (photo: Jake & his companion writing a “flete.”)
As for my progress with the Quiché language…I have successfully accomplished my goal of being able to offer a simple but sincere prayer in Quiché. I can also make first contact with people on the street in Quiché…but once they begin to engage me in conversation, I’m lost. Don’t forget, I am still new to Spanish, let alone mastering a very difficult and near extinct Indian dialect. My next goal to memorize the baptismal prayer in Quiché.
Fortunately, even with Elder Tzoc gone, the families that we contacted during the one week we were together, have still been willing to receive us. I think they appreciate how hard I try to learn to communicate with them in their native tongue. We never took the time to visit Santiago and his family last week because they live so far away, and it difficult to find a member who can go with us to translate, since they speak very little Spanish. This is where Elder Tzoc would come in handy. Despite the fact that we didn’t visit them this week, Santiago and his children still ended up making the 4-hour round-trip hike to church on Sunday… and they came on their own! Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about! We are going to try a lot harder this week to find a member who can accompany us to visit them. Aren’t you glad the missionaries in your ward don’t ask you to hike 4 hours with them to visit people? Count your blessings.
The only other investigator to come church yesterday was Claudia, who is usually good about coming on her own without help from us. Oh yeah, and we were finally able to find out the real reason keeping her from committing to baptism. She wanted to see how elaborate our baptismal services are, so that she could determine whether she could afforded to get baptized. We had to explain to her that there is no financial cost to being baptized. After previous missionaries had attempted to commit her to a baptism date for over a year now, we were finally able to uncover her true objection. I guess that is a testimony to asking the write find-out questions, right? She has finally committed herself to get baptized the 18th of July. Which just goes to show that, as a missionary, we should never think we are wasting our time with someone. If anything, we are always planting seeds that future missionaries may be able to cultivate down the road.
In answer to your question: I think Santiago’s wife was baptized in the Evangelical church… which would explain why she really doesn’t want anything to do with us, or the Church; unlike Santiago, who is practically a member already! It takes a pretty dedicated person to walk so far to attend church with us; and he does it most weeks.
By the way…the headlamp you sent me is coming in quite handy. My new companion has never served in a remote “aldea” before, so he doesn’t even own a flashlight. It would have really come in handy when I was with Elder Vivas because he would always walk so fast, and leave me in the dark.
Speaking of companions… my new companion is Elder Amaya, from Honduras. It seems like most the Latino missionaries here in Guatemala are from Honduras. It’s like all the missionaries in the states are usually form Utah. I would imagine that most the missionaries in Honduras and El Salvador and Nicaragua are probably native Guatemaltecos. My companion is super good at building fast relationships with people, which is great. He also likes joking around a lot, which is nice, since I also like to have fun. The only problem is that he is kind of lazy. Hopefully, through my diligence in working with him, I can help change that.
I still teach English at the local school on Tuesdays. We are currently teaching the son of the second counselor of the branch, who told us that he wants to get baptized. Unfortunately his mom is kinda sour on the church right now. Apparently she been offended by some members of the branch. We also taught a Catholic priest this week. That was interesting! He would usually change the subject whenever we asked him a question he did not have the answer to. We pushed him for an answer on infant baptism doctrine. We also pressed him to explain baptism by sprinkling, rather than full immersion as Christ set the example. His weak response was, “if we are obligated to be baptized in the same manner that Jesus Christ was baptized, then we would all need to be baptized in the Jordan River.” When I explained that the apostles baptized people in places other than the Jordan River, he just switch the topic again. We could also never get him to look up any of the scriptures that foretold the Great Apostasy of the Church. On the bright side, we are also teaching a family of 10 who is very excited by the premise that the Church of Jesus Christ has a living Prophet, and a quorum of 12 Apostles, who receive revelation from the Lord in these latter-days. They are also very excited about the doctrine of “eternal families,” through the sealing priesthood authority in the Temple of the Lord. The challenge is that they live an hour and a half walk from the Church, while the evangelical church they have been attending is a 30 second walk. I guess this will be a trial of their faith.
Missionary work is awfully tiring. I am completely exhausted by the end of the day, and my feet are usually swollen. From the moment my head hits the pillow, I am asleep, and don’t wake up until the alarm sounds at 6:30AM. But there is nothing I’d rather be doing. I try to put all my whole heart, might, mind, and strength into the work until I run my tank on empty, and collapse into the Lord’s arms at night when I say my prayers. I then wake up the next day and have the joy of doing it all over again. Thank you for all your prayers in my behalf. I sure feel them.
Con amor, tu hijo Elder Jacob Cudney
P.S. I have officially hit my 6-month mark today! Which means that I now have the same amount of time as a sister missionary just entering the MTC.