Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Grandma's Love is Never Ending

It's been another great week!  Tomorrow I will be done with my first change (my first 6 weeks) out in the field.  Which means I've been gone 3 months!  Which means I'm halfway done with my in field training!  I don't know about you guys but this has FLOWN by for me.  Ah!  Crazy.  I'm still loving it!  I am really really blessed because there haven't been any days that I don't enjoy.
So I think I need to have a segment of my letter each week for funny tee shirts here.  Everyone buys their clothes from this place with a ton of donated clothes from the states.  And because of this a lot of people have English sayings or American things on their shirts.  And they have no clue what it means.  I've seen quite a few 'Seniors!' shirts from people's last year in high school.  Which wouldn't be as weird if it wasn't on an old man in Guatemala!  And one teenage member always wears a shirt that says 'Come at me bro!'  And finally...my favorite so far.  We were talking to a youngish mom aged woman and it was so hard to keep a straight face because she had a sweater with hearts that said 'Grandma's Love is Never Ending'.  It always gives us a good laugh to see all these random shirts.  I should start collecting them.

We found a lot of really pilas people this week! (Pilas in spanish means battery, or hard worker, or baptism font.  So when we find someone who is 'tan pilas' it means we found some one who is SO ready to learn about the gospel. And if a missionary is pilas they're hard workers.  Fun fact.) But we found a few people who came to church this Sunday and are really excited to learn the gospel.  
We also started teaching this woman in English!  It's the weirdest thing ever.  My Spanish is still terrible, but I'm to the point where I have to think about how to put sentences together in English, especially when I talk about church stuff.  I contacted someone in English once and it went like this... 'Hola..Hello..Hi.  How are you?  I'm Hermana Haymond.  We're......missionaries.....from....The Church of...Jesucristo..de los..of Latter Day Saints.  We...compart...we share a message....of Jesus Christ and how....God has called un profeta...a prophet.  Can we pass by your house...to share con....with you?'  I really cant speak anything at this point.  I can notice a huge difference in my Spanish though.  I can understand almost everything people say to me if I'm expecting them to talk to me.  If a random person comes up to me and starts talking when my brain isn't quite ready it's a little rough.  But I can almost always get the gist of it.  And I can express myself a lot better now.  It's not just the same kind of sentences over and over.  It's getting closer to what I'd actually want to say in English.  So that's kinda cool! I love Spanish!
I feel bad because there isn't anything super eventful to write about.  I'll try to write interesting things down as I go this week.  But thanks for all the support.  It's always fun to hear about home and see pictures and stuff!  I just want to bring everyone back here someday because pictures and letters just don't do anything justice!  At least once a day I have a moment when I think, whoa I'm living in Guatemala.  It's really awesome.  It's so so different in so many ways.  But I really am happy!  It's such a privilege to have this calling.  I love where I am.  I love what I do.  I love the people.  And I love this Gospel more than anything.  It's indescribable seeing how it clicks with people and how it blesses people lives and lights up their personality.  Ah.  I'm so blessed.  I will never live up to the calling I have as a representative of Jesus Christ, but I am trying to get closer every day.  I know this Church is the only true church on the earth.  There is nothing else that could bring me so much joy when we're walking miles everyday in the rain, teaching stubborn people, waking up at 5:30, being sick all the time.  It's all worth the message we share.

Love you all!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Operation Wedding...Complete

This week was so stressful and so great all in one.

First of all we had divisions last week.  Which was good!  I think Hna G and I did a good job of knowing what to do and such.  We had 2 important things to get done.  1, get the birth certificate from the lady getting married to give to the lawyer (weddings are really complicated here.  you have to get lawyers involved and its just chaos.) and 2, set a firm for sure baptism date with one of our investigators.  So we called this investigator to confirm our appointment.  He answered and said no no, the next week (which in Spanish usually means never).  It was sooo unlike him!  Usually he wears his nicest clothes to our appointments and is always on time with our plans.  But no!  He wasn't even in his house or anything.  So we were like great, one thing on the to do list FAILED.  Later we went to pick up the birth certificate and she didn't have it!  The lawyer needed it as soon as possible and she hadn't even picked it up from this legalish place in the city.  To do list task number two...FAILED.  It was awful.  And of course all this happened when our trainer was gone and we were on division with the training sister.  It all turned out okay.  We finally got a hold of our investigator and he's still interested, and we got the birth certificate.  But it was just stressful in the moment.

We also had zone conference on Thursday.  It was really good!  It was our zone and one other meeting together in the Capital for training with the president.  It's always really inspiring to see how other missionaries approach things.  And President and his wife always have so much love for us.  They always have great things to say to motivate us and help us better ourselves.

Saturday was insane.  The morning was packed with studies, primary program practice, and lunch.  At 1 we went to set up for the wedding.  It was outside of our chapel where there are really pretty flowers and a grassy area.  It's the perfect spot!  So we set up chairs for 70 people, tied flowers to decorate all over, got little tables ready for food and such.  The ceremony was supposed to start at 2.  1:59 we had everything ready looking beautiful.  At 2 on the dot (the bells from the church down the street were ringing right when this happened.  It was literally on the dot)  it poured rain.  Good ol' hard, pouring Guatemala rain.  So we spent another 30 mins moving everything into the chapel, which was not nearly as pretty!  Luckily Guatemalans have a totally different sense of time and no one (no even the bride and groom) showed up until 2:45 or so. Finally we got started around 3:30.  It was so nice to see them get married!  Their family is so cute!  I have some cute pictures that I need to figure out a way to send.  But it was sooo stressful.  Oh and don't worry.  Their dog followed them to the wedding too.  So there's my dog story for the week.

Sunday was also a little stressful, but also really amazing.  They had the primary program.  All the little kids sang and shared their little parts and scriptures.  It was just as cute and hilarious and incredible as the ones back home.  Ah!  The kids here are so cute!

Then we had the baptism and confirmation of the couple who got married.  It was so amazing.  The wife has such a strong testimony!  She knows so much and was so happy to be taking this step.  She really understands the importance of it and has sacrificed so much to get to that point.  They were confirmed the same day because their 2 year old daughter broke her elbow and has to get surgery.  They'll be in the hospital for 2 weeks, which is really sad.  They're really scared.  It sounds like the same thing I did to my elbow.  But it's so sweet because they put off the operation until Monday so they could get baptized.  Ah!  the faith of the people here is amazing.

I'm still doing awesome!  I probably had hard days or moment this week, but I really can never remember them because I love what I'm doing.  Heavenly Father knows and loves each of His children.  I see how He blesses and prepares everyone that we come across.  It's so incredible.  And the feeling I get when I see people get baptized is seriously indescribable.   For a few moments I get to feel just a particle of Heavenly Father's love for us, and it is so powerful.  All the contacts that don't want our message, all the doors that don't let us in, all the people who run away from us (yes, it happens), it's all worth it when I see that one person get baptized and confirmed.  After hours and hours and hours of harvesting, the fruits of our labors are sooo worth every second.

Love you all.  thanks for everything!

I have a little more time so here's more.

on Monday for pday we went to this 5 star hotel as a district activity.  It was so cool!  Its basically the ruins of an old chapel that they turned into a hotel.  There are museumy parts and a Guatemalan chocolate shop and cool ruins.  So that was fun.  It was crazy because walking outside in the courtyard it didn't feel like we were in the city anymore.  It was just ruins and green mountains and volcanoes.  It was cool.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Only in Guatemala!

This week was really good!  First of all, I had my first baptism!  Woo!!!  She had been learning about the Church for months now and a lot of her family has recently been baptized.  It was a hard week for her leading up to her baptism.  But she was all smiles right after.  It was so exciting!  It was so amazing to see her doing something so important.  I haven't even known her for that long and I love her so much!  The Spirit was just so strong for me, knowing how precious she is to Heavenly Father.  I'm so excited to help more people feel that same happiness that comes from baptism.
On Sunday, we split up to go gather people to come to church.  So Hna G and Hna H went one way.  And in the mean time I was on divisions with this recent convert.  She's this hilarious old lady and part of her family is investigators and recent converts.  So my job was to stay with her as my companion and help her family get ready for church.  She was so excited and took her job as my companion very seriously.  So everyone was finally ready for church and we were walking to the chapel.  And they quickly realized that their dog (yes, another dog story.  they're everrrrrywhere) is following us to church.  So they yell at it to go home and it starts to turn back.  Then we're sitting in Sacrament meeting and I look under the seat in front of me and there's their dog!  And the stake president is at church this day and there aren't very many people in our branch so there is no sneaky way to fix the situation.  After 3 or 4 times of trying to send this dog home, he finally left.  It was just a funny 'only in Guatemala' moment.

Saturday we're having a wedding for the couple we've been teaching!  We are so excited!  There's a really pretty grassy area at the chapel so we're having it there.  And we're getting tons of flowers and having someone make a cake and everything!  It's going to be great!  It's fun to plan, and even more exciting because this couple is so awesome and has been working for a long time to get married and baptized.

On Wednesday we were asked to help with a practice for the primary program.  Oh my gosh.  It was so so funny!  First of all everyone was super late, like an hour late.   Then this huge swarm of kids come and are running around everywhere!  We finally got to practicing and it was so cute!  They just sing those songs as loud as they can, whether or not they're getting the right notes.  And they all have their little talks and parts to say.  It's adorable!  It was just a funny sight with all these crazy kids and little Guatemalan ladies trying to get everything put together.

Today we have real divisions for the first time.  Each zone has 2 training sisters who go on divisions with each sister companionship and help us be better.  Hna G and I are staying in our area, and the training sister is coming here.  Hna G and I are both new so we're a little nervous.  I don't know the streets and such as well as I should.  And of course there's always the huge obstacle of not knowing Spanish.  But I'm also really excited.  I have a lot to learn and I know the training sister can help me.  I'm also excited to see how she works with the people.  Each missionary has different strong points and explains things a little differently.  So it will be fun to see other approaches to everything.

This week we really saw how the Lord puts people in our path who really need us.  Last Monday we met a lady on the bus and she wanted us to teach her as soon as possible.  So we taught her like 3 times last week.  And she came to church on Sunday and loved it!  We talked with her last night and she and 2 of her kids are preparing to be baptized the 26th.  It's so amazing to think that just over a week ago she didn't know anything about the Church.  And now she knows that it's true!  We also knocked a door of a family that we met on the street.  They were excited to have us.  We started talking and the father just started bawling.  He told us he just felt awful and needed to feel free of all his bad feelings.  We explained how our message could help them.  We've taught them 2 lessons and they are always excited to learn more.  They're really understanding a lot and have been prepared too!  Heavenly Father needs His children back and He is sure helping us help Him accomplish that.

This has been an interesting week with less active members of the Church too.  We had one day where we found a long lost member of the Church in the house of one of our investigators.  We were excited about that and tried to help him want to come back.  Then we knocked on a door of what we thought was a contact from the street.  A teenage boy opened the door and we asked his name.  He said 'Nefi Moroni.'  We were like what the heck.  We found out that he and his mom are members and moved here from the capital a while ago.  They hadn't been to church in years!  But since we met them last week they've come to church, an activity, the baptism, and she's coming with us today to teach some lessons.  She is so so excited to feel wanted in the Church again.  It's so incredible how things come together.  I'm so grateful for miracles we see every day.  I know it's never by chance that we find these people.

Sometimes I have hard moments, but they pass really quickly.  This is just such an amazing experience.  I wish I was so much better at being a missionary, but I know that Heavenly Father is helping us a lot.  I love everything we do.  The Gospel is my favorite part of life and now I get to be surrounded by it all the time and share it with others.  What a privilege!!  Thanks for all your support!
 Love you all!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Third week in the field

I feel like this was a really eventful week but I really can't remember many details.  I'm hoping I'll think of more as I write.  So here it goes...
Sunday was one of our roommates birthdays.  It was so fun!  We had bought a piƱata and candy and cute little girl dress up jewelry.  She loved it!  I'm sure it's hard to have your birthday on your mission. It was so fun to see her so happy!  

It's really hard to tell where I'm at with my Spanish.  I can understand some people more than others.  I can usually get the gist of what they're saying.  Speaking is the same way.  Some people stare at me and can clearly not understand me.  Some people just pretend to understand me.  And some people are like, Wow you've only lived here for a few weeks?  Your Spanish is amazing.  So who knows.  I just know Heavenly Father helps people understand me when He really needs them to.

This week we had an interesting experience.  Most of the white people here are interesting.  This is kinda like Boulder but in Guatemala.  It's weird.  But one day we were walking around and I hear this guy yell at us in English asking us what Church we were from.  It always throws me off when I hear English.  So my companions started talking to him a little.  He was a very interesting guy and he explained all his beliefs.  And we tried to explain a little of our message.  He kept insisting that we were wrong.  He said that he had done his research and that Joseph Smith did not fit into his "truth box". He looked at me and was like "I can tell she really wants to say something.  Your parents must really think this is true."  I started crying and he said he felt bad for making me sad.  I just looked at him and told him I wasn't crying because I was sad.  I was crying because I knew our message was true.  I told him that I was so happy he had such strong faith in Christ, but this is the truth.  I told him that I prayed to know Joseph Smith was a prophet and I received a very clear answer from God that I cannot deny.  He still insisted we were wrong.  I didn't expect him to change his mind right in that moment, but I know he will never forget what I said.  I just wish so bad he could taste for a moment how happy this message could make him.  The things he believes are so good and so close to the truth.  But the few things he couldn't accept are where some really awesome blessings are found.  It broke my heart to walk away from him knowing he didn't want to know the truth.

General Conference was so awesome!  We got to watch it in English!  It was kinda funny because most the time the only place we could watch it in English was the tiny clerks office.  But it was fun!  We bought some snacks and it was a really awesome weekend.  I learned so much!  Maybe it's just because I'm here on my mission, but I felt like there were a lot of good thoughts about missionary work.  It really makes me wish that I had been better at sharing the Gospel back home.  You'd be surprised at how many people are prepared to hear this message and how much people can change!  There are some really awesome scriptures about how our testimonies are prepared to share with others.  So share your testimonies!  It's not as hard as you think.  The second you get scared just imagine trying to yell your testimony to a bus in Spanish.  See!  Missionary work is easy when you're not a missionary!

General Conference was great for every one, including our investigators.  We have a couple who is waiting to get married this month and will get baptized the day after.  The wife has a strong testimony and is trying so hard to do what is right and get baptized.  We went to their house Saturday night and something was wrong.  We pulled her aside and she said she didn't know if she should get married or not.  They have 5 kids and she wants them to have a father but they just weren't getting along.  So we promised her that she'd get an answer in conference.  Sunday night we went back and had family home evening with them and asked how they felt about their wedding and baptism.  She said conference helped her know that Satan is attacking her family and she wants to return to Heavenly Father with her kids and married to her husband.  It was so powerful and awesome to see her finally know what to do. We asked him what he thought and he said that when he heard President Monson talk about how much he loves his wife, he knew marriage was the right thing.  It doesn't sound like a cool experience in this email but it really was amazing.  It was cool to feel how strong their testimonies were and how strongly they desired to do what's right.  Families are so important and I'm glad they realize that.  We're so excited for them!  Their family is beautiful!

I feel like this email wasn't as exciting as usual. I wish so bad I could put all this into words.  But I really can't even come close to describing anything.  This is so amazing.  I'm always learning.  I'm always happy.  You can't not be happy when you get to share this message for hours every day.  
Thanks for everything!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Second week in the field

Okay.  I never know how to describe all this because everyday is such an adventure!

First of all a few things about our house that I forgot to mention last week.  We live with another companionship.  So there are 5 hermanas in our house in total.  It's fun!  4 of us are gringas. And for the first time in 10 plus years I sleep on the top bunk.  And this top bunk doesn't have a ladder or anything to keep you from falling.  So I sleep really really close to the wall because I'm afraid I'll roll off and die one night.  The first few nights I'd even wake up in the middle of the night and stick my arm towards the edge to make sure I had enough room.  I literally pray every night that I won't fall off.  I've been okay so far but it's still scary!

I've had a few health adventures this week.  So Friday morning I wake up and I cannot open my left eye.  I was like ohhhh great, this is not good, I know this feeling.  So I go into the bathroom and it's swollen shut!  Sooo gross! I can't even explain how disgusting I looked.  You know in the movie Hitch when he eats that stuff and his whole face puffs up?  Yeah imagine that happening to one of my eyes.  Yep...pink eye.  So I just looked ridiculous all day!  It almost looks normal now which is a miracle!  But it was so bad the other day.  I was just like, if anyone shows interest in our message today, they will really really need the Gospel or something because I look ridiculous. I felt fine but it was just a funny little surprise.

Friday morning we also went to help this family we're teaching get their firewood (or lena).  We always see people carrying huge bundles of wood on their heads so we wanted to go help!  It was....an adventure (there really are no words to describe these things besides adventure).  They take us to this barbwire fence in these bushes with a hole in it.  And we asked them "Is this illegal?" They said no, people just judge you.  So we went on our merry way through this little hole in barb wire fence in our skirts.  I made it through okay...or so I thought.  All of a sudden I feel my elbow burning so bad!  And the family is like "Oh did it get you? did it get you?"  Apparently I rubbed up against the bush and it happened to be poisonous.  So I was like shoot, okay.  I didn't think much of it.  But then they were looking at my elbow and asked "Does it hurt right here yet?" pointing to their chest where your heart is.  Then I was like What. The. Heck.  I am going to DIE! They said I wouldn't die but I was still skeptical.  A few mins later my armpit started hurting like the pain had traveled up my arm.  Thankfully after 30 mins it all went away.  But I was convinced that I was going to die.  Anyway...to get the lena you basically sneak into a finca (a coffee farm) and take all the fallen sticks.  It was the craziest place.  Every little bug they were like" ooo dont touch that it'll kill you"   It was so weird because outside of the finca there's nothing like that!  There were like animal bones and all kinds of weird stuff.  So they got all the wood and bundled it together and carried it on their heads like no big deal.  We tried it and it was sooo surprisingly heavy.  Our neck muscles are not used to that kind of stuff.  It was so fun to try though.  Anyway, that's my lena adventure.

There are a TON of dogs here.  It's insane. We were walking down this little street and there was this crazy dog that ALMOST bit me.  It's crazy that he missed my leg.  I have a hole in my skirt and you can tell it would have been bad!  But it's okay.  It's almost like a war wound on my skirt.  Dogs here are crazy.  We came out of Sunday School at church and there was a dog just sitting outside of the room we do sacrament meeting in.  It was the weirdest thing.  We have no idea where it came from but it just sat there and no one did anything about it.

Our companionship is the greatest!  My trainer is amazing.  We've had some fun practices lately.  For example.  Yesterday she made us stand like 30 yards away and we had to practice contacting a bus while she yelled distractions at us.  It was a really realistic practice because when you're contacting a bus there is a lot going on and you have to yell over all of it.  And this morning we practiced writing people's information while one the bus.  Because the buses are really shaky and crowded.  So we sat on our seats and wrote down addresses while she shook us vigorously and bumped into us.  It's hilarious!  But very practical skills at the same time.

I'm so excited for General Conference!  It gives our investigators and recent converts 5 different chances to "go to church".  And of course I'm so so excited to listen to the talks!  We get to listen in English.  Woo!  Its so so crazy to think that one year ago I couldn't have gone on a mission now.  Conference marks 1 year since everything changed! And now here I am in Guatemala!  Soo crazy!

Well I think that's all I have time for.  I'm having fun and working hard.  Its not easy at all.  But I'm happy.  Every little trial that comes up is just another part of the adventure.  I'm always learning a lot from my challenges.  But I am so blessed to be here!  I know that people here have been prepared for this message.  They are so wonderful. I wish I was more adequate to help them come unto Christ.  But I know that I'm trying and I can feel Heavenly Father making up for my weaknesses.  Thanks so much for all your support and prayers.  I need it!  
Love you all!

Jenn writing now- Alexis is unable to send us pictures off her camera but her trainer has some pictures on her blog and her mom let me have a copy for Alexis' blog!
 Gathering lena

Walking to district meeting in Antigua