From Outer Darkness to the Celestial Kingdom

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Above: with two priests in Pancá with whom they would go on splits.

Hola Familia,

Well, I’ve been transferred. I’m no longer in Pancá. I am now back in Xela. In fact, I am in a very wealthy part of Xela called “Las Americas.” It is the area where the temple is located.

It appears that my openness with my Mission President in expressing how much I enjoy serving in small villages has backfired. I am now serving in an area that is the polar opposite of Pancá. To demonstrate the contrast between the two areas… In Pancá, there was just a small “tienda” (store) that sold eggs, tortillas, and “super cola.” On the other hand, the biggest store in “Las Americas” is Walmart. While in Pancá the only choices we had for food was eggs. Here we can choose between McDonalds, Burger King, Pizza Hut, etc. As you can probably infer from the name “Las Americas,” almost everyone who lives in this area has a lot of “puac” (money). For that reason, there is not a day that the members don’t provide us lunch; which is why I need to start exercising daily again. I didn’t need to exercise in Pancá since we walked 20+ miles per day. Although my new area is huge, we barely even have to walk anywhere since there are cars and buses that take us everywhere we need to go. Unlike Pancá, where the only car that took people anywhere left at 6am. And sadly, I will unlikely get to use my Quiché here in Las Americas. I might not even use Spanish much here since a good portion of people here speak English. To summarize the difference between Pancá and Las Americas the way that the members do, Pancá is “outer darkness” and Las Americas is “the Celestial Kingdom.” The biggest problem with that comparison is that people from Pancá seem to be much more humble than the people from Las Americas. Pancá will definitely always hold a special place in my heart for all the unforgettable memories I had there.

About my new companion… originally, I was supposed to be teamed up with a gringo to open up an area where “las hermanas” (the sisters) had been serving prior, but because the other two elders in Las Americas did not get along very well, the President decided to split up the companionship; so I ended up serving with Elder Fris in Las Americas. The bad part of the deal is that the other two elders ended up taking the area where the sisters used to live…so they have a super nice house, since the sisters usually get better housing than the elders. Plus, sisters maintain their homes better than elders. The place where we live has just gotten thrashed over the years.

My new companion, Elder Fris, is from Argentina. Dad and I actually met him while visiting San Francisco el Alto before I went into the MTC. Although Elder Fris is kind of an awkward guy,  he is a super nice guy, who always has good intentions; even though his social skills aren’t really the best.

When Elder Fris found out that I was his new companion, he told me that when he met me and dad, he had the feeling that one day we would be companions. If you recall dad, he was pretty quiet the day we met him. I’m guessing that he was pretty quiet because that was his first change in the mission. Now he talks so much that he often turns people off. In fact, he successfully scared away all the investigators he and his companion before me had been teaching. All the progressing investigators we have now are investigators that we have found this week. Hopefully I can help Elder Fris sharpen his social skills, so that he can enjoy the fruits of our labors. Elder Fris is a good missionary, he just lacks some tools to be a successful missionary.

This last week before changes was so eventful that it was nearly impossible for me to write everything last week. First off, I had a lady who wanted to marry me because of a joke that Elder Amaya played. A lady from Xela was in Pancá visiting family. While my companion and I helped her bring her bags to Momos, after she was done visiting her family, my companion joked with her, and told her that I had plans to come back for her after my mission.  As a result of his joke, this lady began calling me up the next day, and proclaimed her love for me, and her desire to have me be the father of her current and future children. To resolve the situation, so she would stop calling during the week, Elder Amaya had to answer the phone to tell her that the President had transferred me out of Pancá, and didn’t give my forwarding number or address. The problem is, I am now serving in an area that is even closer to where she lives in Xela. Hopefully I will not end up running into her during my time here. I hope that Elder Amaya eases up on joking after what happened with me.  [Note from Dad: It is disappointing that Elder Amaya played with that poor girl’s emotions. It would be a dream come true to many girls in these small villages to find a gringo to take them back to the U.S.]

On Saturday some “bolo” (a drunk) from Pancá was tragically killed after getting hit by a car, which is a rare way to die in Pancá considering the fact that there are very few cars in Pancá. Because almost everyone from Pancá is related one way or another, nearly everyone went to the funeral on Sunday. We accepted the invitation to go with a few members, but we didn’t stay very long since it got super awkward once the Catholics began to recite their prayers to Santa Maria. The longer we stayed there, the more sadness I felt in my soul, knowing how lost these people were from the truth.

That was my exciting week. More to come next week.

Con amor, tu hijo, Jake

P.S. In answer to your question, mom…the closest I have ever come to using my epee-pen was when we were visiting with one of the priests from Pancá who threw a rock at a beehive not knowing that I was allergic to bees. Thanks to God’s protection, I was the only one that didn’t get stung that day… so don’t worry about me too much.

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