Wednesday, December 25, 2013

¡Feliz Navidad!

Oh man...Christmas Guatemala style has already been quite the experience. It honestly feels more like 4th of July than Christmas. The weather is perfect still and everyone has been lighting off fireworks for the last month. It does not feel real at all that it's Christmas Eve.

 So last Wednesday we had our Christmas Activity for the mission. We wore up at 3 am to go to the temple. We sat in the back of a truck part of the way and it felt like I was dreaming. I was so tired! But it was really fun! We got to the temple and it was amazing as always! It was fun to see missionaries from a few other zones too! I've been here long enough that I know quite a few of the other Sisters. It's fun to be around other missionaries. After the temple we had free time to play basketball or watch movies (church movies...don't worry. It wasn't TOO crazy.) Then we had lunch catered by the CCM. SOO good. Those lucky little missionaries in the CCM. Then we had a devotional with the mission President of President Brough. It was really cool to hear from him and see where he gets all of his obedience from. President Brough focused on the mission of Christ, which was a cool take on a Christmas talk. The birth of Christ is so marvalous, but His Atonement is what makes it so important! It was just a really awesome day to see other missionaries and President Brough. We also got packages! Shout out to the Andrews family for being so awesome and sending me that fun package! That was so exciting. They sent me a super fancy pedometer (i think thats what it's called. I can't really tell the difference anymore between real words in English and words that I just think are real). Yesterday I took 21,077 steps, burned 456.6 calories walking, and walked 7.98 miles. Incase anyone was wondering.

 Last night our branch had their Christmas activity. We could only stay an hour and it started late so we missed basically all of it. They started at 7ish and it didn't end until like midnight. They are serious about these Christmas festivities. They had tamales, and ponche (which is fruit punch but made out of real fruit, not koolaid mix.), a testimony meeting, watched a movie, had 2 pinatas of Mr. and Mrs. Claus, gave gifts, had a nativity by the primary and who knows what else! Man. It was a party. The big day here is today, the 24th. I cannot imagine what's going to happen. We can stay out until 12:30 (I have no idea how I'll be able to stay awake that long. But I'm determined). We're going to the Relief Society President's house and having a Christmas lesson then helping her decorate her tree. Apparently right at midnight there are a ridiculous amount of fireworks. It's going to be insane!

 I'm so thankful for the people here. They are so loving and good to us! It's weird not to be at home for Christmas but I love these people so much!

This week was kinda rocky for us. We don't have any progressing investigators and we are just trying so hard and trying to find every little way to be obedient and diligent. Before my mission I thought I had faith and patience. I thought that I had some charity and humility, I thought I had a good start of the attributes of Christ. But Heavenly Father has shown me this last week that there is always so much more to develop, especially with faith. We have 5 potential baptisms for this weekend. And our investigators weren't pregressing as strongly as we had hoped, so we focused so hard on having faith. We prayed and fasted so hard, not knowing how the Lord was going to help us reach our goal. We just turned it all over to Him with a perfect knowledge that it would all work out if we worked our hardest. We were heart broken on Sunday when none of them came to church. I learned a lot from this. Mainly, I was able to excercise and develop faith like never before. We haven't seen the miracles we expected, but we see lots of little miracles every day. I know that it's all according to our faith. I'm so thankful to have Hermana G here to experience this all with me. We know we did all we could in our power. We dont know why these 5 people aren't ready to take this step, but Heavenly Father does. It was hard, but I'm thankful for the chance I had to draw a little closer to my Savior as I brought myself to a whole new level of faith.
I hope everyone has an amazing Christmas! Thank you so much for all your support and prayers. I need every little blessing I can get. The mission is hard, but there's never time to be down. There's always another miracle around the corner. Love you all!
Package from the Andrews family

Their Christmas tree.
 (one of the Hermana's families sent this cute tree to her)

Making Tortillas

Mr. & Mrs. Claus piƱatas after the Branch Christmas party
(we thought it was funny they beat Santa and Mrs. Claus like this)

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

We're Orphans!

Yep.  Hermana G and I are all alone now without our mom.  Hermana H left last week.  We were expecting a new comp but it's just us two.  We are so so excited to be together still.  I love her to death.  There were a few days last week where things weren't going as planned.  But we were working our hardest and we knew they were out of our control.  It was hard not to get down on myself and think that we can't do this because we're new.  But that's not true.  We're working hard and being obedient with exactness so we know the Lord won't let us fail.

Tomorrow we have our Christmas activity with some other Zones!  We get to go to the temple (at 3 am...but still SO exciting).  Then we're going to hang out and eat lunch.  And we're having a devotional from the mission president of President Brough!  That will be really really cool!  And we get mail.  Woo!  It will be a good day.

So Hna G and I have been in the field long enough now that we've noticed a trend in the excuses people have not to talk to us.  Here are some of our favorites.  'Fijase que...
-we work.'  Hm...this is really a unique situation.  No one in the church has a job, so we're going to let you off the hook.
-we're Catholic.' So are the rest of our investigators.  This message is for everyone!
-I have to burn my trash and take a bath.' Hands down our favorite excuse so far.
I love talking to people all the time.  They make me smile.

So this week in our little pueblo there have been a lot of festivities.  I don't know exactly why, but this weekend was insane.  There was a huge festival with a concert and a lot of little stands.  And one night we were trying to get home because it was like 8:55.  Then in the distance I see a giant cloud of smoke.  Then little flickery candle lights.  Then a giant herd of people in really scary masks walking towards us (kinda like the Burger King guy).  A procession of people with incense and costumes and chanty thing was right in front of our house!  We were just laughing so hard!  Of course this would happen to us.  It was so terrifying and so funny at the same time.  We couldn't stop saying 'Oh no..OH NO!' as the mob got closer.  The emergency hand book says to go straight home and call your district leader if there's a public unrest.  We joke that we should have done that.

There were one or two more processions this weekend.  As creepy as it was at moments, the town looked cool. Everyone washed the street outside their house and decorated it with flower petals and balloons and lots of cool stuff!  It was hard to find people to teach in their houses because everyone was out, but it was an interesting sight.  

Things are a little rocky right now as far as having investigators that are progressing.  But we are working so hard.  We've been working on getting our faith up.  We set a goal of 3 baptisms at the beginning of the month and sometimes I think, well it's okay if Heavenly Father has plans for us besides getting these 3 people converted.  But no!  It's not like that.  That goal of 3 new converts is revelation from Heavenly Father and we just have to have the faith that He will help us meet our goals.  I'm excited to see all the miracles we'll have these next few weeks.

And since it's almost Christmas, just don't forget to make Christ part of your life.  Center your family around Him.  Center your life around him.  It's so incredible to see the impact that a spark of faith in Christ has on people.  My favorite thing to do as a missionary is to tell people that they have a Heavenly Father who loves them.  The feeling I get when I look someone in the eye and say that is indescribable.  If you don't believe that, let yourself believe it and feel it this Christmas.  Give yourselves for Christmas.  Find your testimony.  Bear your testimony. I love you all so much and hope everyone has a good week!

You have a Heavenly Father who loves you so much more than you can imagine.  Believe it and let it change you.

Thank you to the nice sister visiting Alexis' area who emailed me (Jenn)this
picture of Alexis and the other Hermanas when they past them on the street. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Done With Training!

Ah!  I'm done with training!  I really can't believe I've been in the field for 3 months already.  And Saturday was my 4 month mark from when I left.  It has gone by so fast.  I can't even explain!

Twelve Days of Christmas is going so good! So far our song goes like this...

10 little nice things
9 silly pictures
8 lessons with members
7 new investigators
6 references received
5 Dominoes (pieces of pizza)
4 Quetz for English
3 Choco dips (ice cream cones from McDonalds or choco muffins...we had both)
2 singing contacts
and a testimony in sacrament meeting!

And everyone should be so proud because I have really really big stickers now in my book for completing my training.

This week, as always, was filled with adventures (aka inconveniences and trials that we turn into fun things).  On the top of the adventure list this week would be getting lice.  SO GROSS!  I know.  We found out that all of us 5 sisters in our house had it!  It was horrible!  The nurse and mission president's wife were freaking out.  We were freaking out.  It was bad!  But it's okay.   I'd be way more grossed out and upset about it if I wasn't living in Guatemala.  Things happen.  There's even a special shampoo here called Adios Piojos (goodbye lice), we thought that was hilarious.  But we have made so many jokes making fun of our lice problem.  It's really lightened the issue.  We've really gotten a kick out of yelling 'We have lice!' in English to the weirdo men who flirt with us on the streets.  So that's the adventure of the week.  No one worry. 2 bottles of adios piojos and way too many jokes later, we are lice free!

I found out Monday that I'm staying in this area with Hermana G.  I'm soo glad I'm staying!  I love the people here and we have found some really awesome investigators this week.  I know that Heavenly Father is keeping us here for a reason. I am so excited to spend Christmas here and to stay in an area that I love.  But I'm even more excited to find the people who need my testimony specifically these next 6 weeks.  I cannot explain how thankful I am to be a missionary.  I have never been happier.  I'm sure hard times are right around the corner, but I'm so excited to see how they'll help me grow.

Thanks for everything!  And Love you all!
   Here is Alexis with her zone.  So many Hermanas!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Things We Do For Stickers

Hello everyone!  Sorry I was all stressy last week.  It was a crazy day!  So my companions had to go to the capital so I was in our area with the other companionship.  Everything that could go wrong, went wrong.  We were walking to the buses to get back to our area for lunch and our appointments.  And this week they raised the bus price and apparently people we're not willing to pay so the buses JUST TO OUR AREA were shut down.  Someone said there was a little bus coming in 5 mins.  So we waited 5 mins, then 10 mins, then 30.  So we finally decide to take a little taxi, which is a lot more expensive but we couldn't waste any more time!  We go and eat lunch and I try to call some of our planned appointments to tell them we couldn't make it, but their phones weren't working.  And we called the member that was going to be my companion for the day and of course, her phone wasn't working either!  Finally we meet up with her and pass by our house and see a note from my companions.  They had come back from the capital but couldn't get a hold of us.  We had just missed them!  So I'm panicking not knowing where my comps are.  All the little kids are telling me 'Oh!  The other Hermanas are looking for you!  They just passed by!'  Ah!  It was so frustrating knowing I was so close and yet so far.  But I finally found them.  It wasn't that bad now that I write it all out and think back on it.  But there were just sooo many unplanned things that were out of my control.  And I missed my companions.  But it's okay!

Thanksgiving was great!  We went to lunch at a member's house in our neighborhood. She's from Canada so she knows more about Thanksgiving than anyone else here.  She made all kinds of good Thanksgiving food like green beans and potatoes and rolls and AMAZING chocolate cake for dessert.  It was sooo good!  We had to explain some things to our roommate from Honduras.  She didn't know what things like gravy were.  How weird, huh! And it was super funny because there's a Guatemalan lady who works in the house we were eating.  And she sat down to eat with us then jumped up and said, 'Oh wait!  I brought tortillas!'  She ran and heated them up for us.  Because what's Thanksgiving without tortillas!  We had cute little papers to write down what we're thankful for.  It was like something we'd do at home.  But I realized that I'm thankful for a lot of different things this year since I've been able to live here.  Some of them are kinda funny because I never would have thought I'd be extra thankful for these things.  But a few of the things I'm thankful for this year are...
-paved roads
-not sleeping on the top bunk
-peanut butter
-the fact that there aren't dogs everywhere in the states (side note:  I have decided that if Guatemala was a book it would easily be Go Dogs Go.  There are literally dogs of alllll kinds everywhere.  There are dogs on the roofs and at church and following us around.)
-being able to get out of bed in the mornings
-arroz con leche

and of course I'm so grateful for my family and friends.  And most importantly the Gospel.  Hands down the biggest blessing in my life!

So this last 6 week change has gone by soo fast!  I only have one week left of my in field training!  How crazy is that!  It really have been a very magical 12 weeks thanks to my amazing trainer.  So in the first 12 weeks of your mission you get a little booklet with goals you have to complete each week.  And Hna H gives us stickers in our book for each goal!!  And since this is the last week of our training we kinda ran out of goals.  But we still wanted stickers of course.  So Hna H made more goals for us.  Really awesome goals.  She made some secret goals that she only told us we got after we completed them (like getting more contacts than her in one day), bonus goals (like contacting 5 couples making out with the Law of Chastity pamphlet), and these last few days of training we're doing '12 days of Christmas' goals.  Hna H even made up a song to the tune of 12 days of Christmas that she sings every morning so we find out our goal for the day. We started Dec 1st, so this is what we know of the song so far...

'On the third day of Christmas, my trainer made me do...
3 chocolate muffins (we always buy muffins on the way to district meeting)
2 Singing Contacts (This was a blast.  We had to contact a bus singing and it was awesome.)
and 1 testimony in sacrament.'

Yep.  My trainer is the best ever.  So the lyrics of our contacting song were so great!  It's to the tune of that primary song 'I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Days Saints.'  It rhymes in Spanish but will only make sense in English so I'll write both...  

Soy de la Iglesia de Jesus Cristo De los Santos de Los Ultimos Dias
Yo se quien soy yo, Un hijo de Dios.  Ustedes tambien.
Compartimos un mensaje de Cristo, y un profeta viviente.
Este evanglio cambia vidas, y vamos a pasar sus sillas

I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
I know who I am, a child of God.  You all are too.
We share a message of Christ and a living prophet.
This Gospel changes lives, and we're going to come by your seats (to write down their addresses and teach them.)

It was a huge hit.  We got lots of smiles. Oh...The things we do for stickers.

We don't have a ton of investigators who are progressing right now which could by frustrating but we are trying our hardest and still seeing miracles.  We had a really cool experience with a lady Sunday night.  It was late and we were already done with all our plans so we knocked a door we taught once.  A lady answered and  said she didn't have time but I talked her into a 5 minute lesson.  We just explained prophets really quickly, it wasn't anything too special during the lesson just all the normal principles we go over.  But after the closing prayer we looked up and she was just bawling.  We felt like we shouldn't say anything, so we just stood there for a few minutes with the Spirit so strong. She said she felt good and we bore testimony of how we don't know her problems but Heavenly Father does and He loves her.  I challenged her to be baptized and she accepted.  We didn't say much and neither did she.  All she could say was gracias.  We have no idea what happened, but we know it wasn't us that touched her.  We didn't do anything special.  The Spirit just works through us and leads us to people in the moment they need us.  We're going back to visit her tomorrow.  It was such a cool experience because we could feel Heavenly Fathers love for her so strongly.  Our message is so powerful because it's true.  I love how faith in Christ and His restored Gospel touches people and changes their lives.  I'm so thankful to be a missionary!

Thanks for all you guys do for me!
Love you all!

Hermana Haymond