Called to serve in the Guatemala Quetzaltenango mission

Monday, December 22, 2014

Feliz Navidad a todos!

Feliz Navidad a todos!  I cant believe we are just 3 days away from Christmas.  Last Christmas was quite a bit different haha but Im excited and ready for the 25th.  

This week Elder Duncan, the area president of central america, came and spoke to the mission.  He taught us a lot of really cool and useful things.  We talked a lot of how our mission could improve and babtize more people.  One thing he taught was to only have 25 minute lessons so we can teach more people.  Ha it was so funny, right after he said this he asked an Elder if he had an appointment that night.  The elder said yes, then Elder Duncan asked how long the appointment would be.  The elder said "An hour and a half?" haha and our mission president just shook his head and Elder Duncan had to be more clear with this elder.  I really liked another thing he said: "Lo minimo o lo maximo?  El senor quiere misioneros sin limites."  The Lord wants our best!  After the meeting they gave us some honey glazed ham... that is some good stuff.

When I got here to San Mateo, there werent any investigators.  I kind of figured that the other elders werent really doing too much and, after talking to a few of them at the meeting with Elder Duncan, I figured correctly... At least now we have a few investigators, we are even teaching two families.  Work ethic is a problem in our mission and Elder Duncan made sure everybody knew it.  Nevertheless, I feel like my companion and I are doing the best we can with what we have got. Everyday we are learning more, getting better, growing, and doing our best.  

Final thing... Christmas is coming!  There have been a lot of concerts, parades, and parties all week here, its kind of crazy.  My companion tells me the 24th at midnight everyone goes into the street and lights firecrackers... yay!  Its kind of different being away from home but Im excited.  Ive been reading a lot in the New Testament this past week and challenge you all to do the same.  Remember why we have Christmas, have a good week!  

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

5 months in Guate!

Hey guys, this week I will have been here in Guatemala for 5 months.  Crazy how fast the time goes!

This was a pretty good week.  We taught quite a bit and looked for new investigators.  Mission work is, well, a lot of work!  I enjoy every day and love being here.  San Mateo is a beautiful area with amazing members.  Its tough to find investigators but there are quite a few people here and I love talking to everyone.  

This week we taught 7th Day Adventists and Jehovahs Witnesses.  These people are usuallly really nice but, whew, though!  Through being friends with them, regardless of what happens, we can plant a lot of seeds for future misisonaries and, hopefully, help some come to the Gospel. 

This Sunday was the Christmas Devotional, but the internet in the Chapel died half way through.  I feel kind of bad for the sisters because they had an investigator with them and once the interenet died he wanted to leave!  We had a less active member with us and, even though the internet went out, we still had a really good time.

Ive been reading from the New Testament a lot lately.  Its really cool to learn about the life of Christ and all the things He did.  A lot of people called Him crazy and possessed, but He only ever tried to help people.  As missionaries, some of the people make fun of us or say bad things but we are just trying to helpe the people here.  I love being here in San Mateo, the members are super awesome and always help us out.  Adios!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Hello San Mateo!!

Hey guys!  Well, this week was absolutely insane!  I had my first change this week.  We woke up at 330 to catch a bus to the changes so we got there a little tired.  Anyway, my old companion went to open an area in Huehuetenango in a super far away aldea haha poor guy...  My new area is called San Mateo and, well, lets just say its a huge improvement haha.  We are about 15 minutes from the temple, we are just a little sub urb of Xela.  

I like it here a lot!  The members here are really, really nice.  This area is one of the more wealthier areas in the mission, so we have a lunch schedule for every single day which is super awesome.  We share this area with two sisters which... well... yeah   Just kidding, they are both from Mexico and they help us a little and we help them a little.  Oh, this area is pretty much the evangalist capital of the world.  These guys, what the, only one word... duro!  They go to church 5, yes, 5 days a week.  And a lot even go 6.  That will definitely be a challenge for us here, these guys are something else I tell you what...

Nevertheless, Im doing a lot better here.  Our house is super nice and Ive been eating healthier and better food.  A lot of these guys here in Xela dont know how nice they have it.  My companion, Elder Yataco, does because he has been in 4 of the hardest, most mountainous areas in the mission!  He is 25, from Peru, and knows a TON of scriptures.  I like him a lot better than my other comp, hes a lot nicer and will actually listen to me.

The other day we were at an investigators house to show them a video.  Near the end, they handed both of us a huge cup of coffee... Oh geez haha we just put it on the floor and after the prayer quickly left.  Thats about it from here, we are working a lot more here but its going to be hard.  Im ready to get stuff done!
Attachments area

Heading out of Choqui in the back of a truck!!  This is how you travel in the moutains! 

Guatemalan Fish Fry!

My bed on the left

A map of San Mateo

My house is the pink one on the left-really nice place!

My street

The bus to ride around town

I opened my Christmas package early-love it!!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


What an interesting week!  This Wednesday we had interviews with President Smith.  It turns out they are going to close Choqui for a time, which I feel like is a really good thing for the area.  We spent most of this week strenghening all of the members before we left.

I learned a lot from Choqui.  First off, I learned how to do HARD things!  Being in this area was very difficult but it helped me toughen up and always do my best.  I learned so much about humility, which is what I gave my farewell talk on.  Funny how that has been my biggest lesson in Choqui!  The people, the members are the most humble, most kind people Ive ever met.  They will give up anything, do anything to help the missionaries.  They have taught me we don't need too much to be happy and enjoy ourselves.

One last look over my area before we leave

Saying goodbye to some of the members

I learned to be patient, something I have needed to work on in my life.  If we are patient and leave it to the Lord, we can do miracles.  Not a lot of people have the patience to endure hard things.  Being in Choqui taught me to endure and to do my best in my situation.  

Saying goodbye to everyone the other day was hard.  One elderly lady, who we visited literally everyday yet doesnt speak any spanish, was really sad that we were leaving.  She looked at me and just said, ¨Hermano, hermano, adios!¨ Then gave me a big hug.  Such nice people, Im really going to miss them.

Well, we have changes in the morning.  All of the missionaries meet at the bus terminal in Xela and head out on the buses.  Im excited for a new start and to meet new people.  The church is true and we have so many blessing.  Through faith and hard work we can do anything!  Love you all!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Semana 11!

Hey guys,

Wow, I just finished my 11 week in the field!  Crazy how fast time has gone bye.  Ive learned so much about myself, others, the Gospel, pretty much life in general.  This next week training will be done and we have changes, which I have no idea what will happen but I trust in the Lord.

This week we had a baptism interview scheduled for Rodrigo, a 9 year old boy in Paxajtup.  His dad came up to us one day and asked us to teach and prepare his son for babtism, so we worked with them for quite a while.  Our district leader and Elder Andy went to do the interview but, as it turns out, Rodrigo was only 8 so he only needed an interview from the bishop.  I felt kind of bad for our district leader but the important thing is that we helped prepare Rodrigo for baptism.

Jackson and Killer the dog

Rodrigo and his family

I spent the day of the interview in San Bartolo with Elder Flake.  We had a great time teaching some less actives, contacting, and teaching seminary.  We walked up to an aldea about 30 minutes away and found this dog, just the biggest dog ever.  Some boy came out to talk to us with a little cast on his arm, the dog bit him that morning!  Apparently they call the dog, "killer", so I stayed my distance from that thing.  We contacted a little more, met some great future investigators.  To top it all off, a member gave us some chow mein after seminary haha which was really good.  San Bartolo is such a cool place, its a tough area but Its still really cool.

The next day we hiked to Paxajtup and performed the babtism for Rodrigo.  The members in Paxajtup are pretty much all one big family of like 80 people.  The chapel over there is gigantic!  The babtism was amazing and I had the chance to confirm him a member.  Rodrigo was smiling so much and so happy to be babtized afterwards.  Great day.

Well, wish we luck on this next week.  Theres a chance I could train somewhere but I dont know if or where, but I should know this next Thursday.  Wednesday we have interviews with president which will be really great to have a one on one with him.  Thats about all from here in Guate, adios!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Utz a wach!

Utz a wach everyone!  Thats Quiche for How are You.  Ive been learning a little bit of Quiche little by little, hopefully some day I can get it down.
Well this week, statistics wise, wasn't our best. We looked for a lot of service this week, a few days ago we helped Sixto carry some wood up the mountain.  Now, Im a decent sized guy, so he gave me six good sized logs.  We put it on our backs and strap a piece of rope to the tops of our heads haha its crazy.  We did two loads and after that my companion and I were exausted.  Sixto tells me that usually he takes, get this, 15 to 20 logs every time!!!  The Guatemalans are super strong people.  Hauling wood definitely will not be my future career path.
The other day we were walking past a church and I recognized the scripture they were reading out loud.  Si alguno de vosotros tienie falta... James 1' 5!  I wanted to walk in there and tell them about the truth! 
The other day we had District Confrence.  The mission president, nurses, tons of people came up to Choqui for the first time.  They kept saying that my area looks like a work out, thats right!  President Smith talked about tithing and family home evening and gave some really great stories.  We talked to him for a while and he gave us some great advice.  After the confrence I had the opportunity to baptize two 8 year olds named German and Elmer.  Baptizing is such an amazing experience.  Most the branch was there and it was just a great experience.  This next week we have another babtism of a 9 year old boy in Paxajtup.  Good stuff! 

Thursday, October 30, 2014


Hey everyone, this was a really interesting week for me here in Choqui.  First off, our district finished up the Mes de Milagros and guess what, we did it!  6 baptisms in one month for our zone, which is just amazing.  We were honestly blessed like crazy this month and my testimony really grew.

This week something sad happened in Choqui.  One of the members in our branch had their baby pass away.  We didn't know what was going on but we were walking as usual and saw tons of people coming to this house.  I was confused but we walked in and our branch president explained what was going on.  It was realy interesting, gathered in the house was literally 95 percent of the people of Choqui.  Investigators, non members, everyone.  We had a little lunch then went as a town to the burial.  They actually had me give a priesthood blessing over the grave which was something super unique and special.  As I stood there I looked around at everyone and thought it was really cool to see the whole town together.  Certainly a day I will not forget!

On Saturday we had English classes at the church, guess who came_  Hector Torrez, remember him_  You probably dont because we contacted him nearly a month ago but he brought his family.  We showed him all around the church and taught an amazing lesson about the Gosepl of Christ.  We challenged the family to be babtized and they seemed fairly certain that they would.  The Spirit was thick in the room and I knew the could feel it.  Really awesome experiecne.

Oh, and one more thing... BAUTISMO!  We held the babtismal service for Sixto on Saturday evening.  He is a really funny dude, we still have to work with him a ton but I could tell something different about him after his babtism.  I loved the service and could feel an amazing spirit in the room.  He comes from a family where the dad wants to be babtized but only after all the kids are.  Weve got 3 more, lets go!

Well, thats about all from here in Guatemala.  Its been a lot of hard work, lots of challenging times but babtizing and helping other people whenever we can makes it all worth it.  I love serving, its awesome!  Adios!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Miracles Continue!

BAPTISM.  I´ll talk about that a little later but yes, we had our first baptism this week!  
Alright, so on Thursday we did another division with the zone leaders.  This time I went to San Francisco and Elder Telford, just an amazing missionary, went to Choqui to help push things along with our investigators.  San Franscico is insane!  They have a gigantic market in all the streets selling literally everything you could want, just tons of people, tons of clothes.  It was a lot different than Choqui but I really had a great time.  My companion tought me how to be a more effective teacher and how to really love people.  I loved the division, learned so much and had a lot of good food with the members.  I finally had Morcaf, a drink kind of like coffee but that´s alright to drink and it tasted pretty good. 
Another reason why Elder Telford was in Choqui was to do a baptismal interview with Yoselin.  She passed with flying colors and was totally ready to be baptized.  Yoselin knows a lot for her age and her parents are members, just not totally active.  Saturday we held the baptism for her in Patalup and I have to say, it went absolutely perfectly.  She wanted me to baptize her and wow, what an experience.  I´ve never baptized anyone before in my life.  As I changed in the bathroom, with ¨How Firm a Foundation¨ being sung in the backround I looked at myslef in the mirror and just thought, ¨Wow, this is real, this is literally an act of God.¨ It was really humbling and inspiring.  We entered the water, performed the baptism, then changed and had a little snack with the members there.  It was such an amazing spiritual experience, I can´t really descibe how I felt.  What a blessing.

The other day Sixtos came to church with us again.  He´s starting to make friends and likes coming to church.  Elder Telford actually set a babtism date with him for this next Saturday!  He can´t read and it´s hard for him to understand a lot of things but he is as ready as he´ll ever be.  He can feel the Spirit and knows the Church is true.  We´ll work a ton with him to retain him in the church but wow, we´re really starting to have success.  Where is this coming from?  Why is our zone, which hasn´t had a baptism in 4 months, which has only 8 missionaries, with 3 of them being new, on track to having 6 babtisms this month?  I know it´s because Heavenly Father is blessing us and opening the hearts of the people.  I love being here, I love the hard times and I love the good times.  Serving a mission has been the best decission I´ve ever made and it´s changed who I am.  I love you guys and wish you all the best!  Adios!

                                                               The view in San Francisco

                                Where I sleep in San Bartolo on Monday nights-I love this thing haha

                                     It poured the other day-this jacket is awesome-thanks mom


                                                 Yoselin and her family-she is on my left-she's 9

Me and Elder Andy at the Baptism

Monday, October 13, 2014

Mes de Milagros

Hola everyone, great week and Im excited to talk about it!  

Our zone has dubbed this month as the Month of Miracles.  Everyday we look for a miracle that happened in our area and report it to the zone leaders at night time.  Lets just say we had some pretty big miracles this week!

First off, one of our investigators named Sixtos came to church with us this week and wants to be babtized the 25th.  He needs help understanding things because he isnt too educated but he said he felt the Spirit and wants to come next week as well.  We still need to work with him but he{s a really good guy and everytime we teach him I can tell he want{s the Gospel.

We have a babtism this next week with Yoselin!  She lives in Patalup and is totally ready to be babtized.  I am just super excited to babtize someone into the Church, what an honor.  Its just such a blessing.

Que mas... OH!  Our wards attendence the other day was the highest it{s been in 6 weeks, just tons of stuff is starting to happen.  Yeah, we still have these moments everyday, companion things or whatnot but for the most part everything is going as best as possible in Choqui.  We{re running a little low on new investigators but other than that all is well.

To be honest, last week I was pretty frustrated.  Things just we{rent going right, I don{t know.  Elder Perry and I talked for quite a while about why we are here.  One blessing of being in an Aldea like Choqui is that it really strenghtens your testimony.  He told me, *I know a lot of great missionaries who{ve served in the cities but theres really nothing more powerful than a testimony of an Aldea missionary.*  Its really an honor to be where I{m at and to just do my best everyday.  I know the Church is true, goodness we are so blessed with all that we have!  I love you all so much and if any of you are going through hard times heres a scripture for you...

And not only so, but we GLORY in tribulations also[ knowing that tribulation worketh patience.   Romans 5{3

Elder Call

                                       HEre's a member named Ashley haha just like our Ashley!

                                   Here's Sixto, came to church.  Recognize the tie? haha

                         Here's me climbing up La Montana del Muerte-this is how we get to Patalup

        Here's my district and zone!  Smallest zone in all of Quetzaltenango and no girls because it's so tough but hey, I'm not complaining 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

La Semana Loca

Hey everyone!  Wow, this was a pretty crazy week.  Tuesday night we got a call from the mission secretary saying I had to go to Guatemala City in the morning!  Apparently anyone from the States or another country has to go to Guate to fill out some Visa things.  We met 8 other missionaries at the mission office in Xela and guess who my companion was?  Elder Carter!  We talked the whole bus ride and it sounds like he´s doing really well.  

Well LONG story short, after two different hotels and a lot of driving we went back to Choqui.  We have a babtism date this month with a girl named Yoselin.  She loves the Gospel and loves having us visit her.  Celixto, remember him?, is still reading the Book of Mormon and everything but we still haven´t been able to get a babtism date.  Our other investigators are doing well for the most part and I hope we can help them continue to progress.

General Confrence was this week haha and let´s just say it´s a little different in Spanish!  I was lucky enough to hear priesthood session in English but everything else was in Spanish.  I thought it was really interesting having people speak in their native tongues.  When it was anounced that people would speak in Spanish all the members around me got really excited and payed a lot more attention.  I think it´s a great thing the Church did and I hope they do that more in the future.

Every week I wish I could say more but if I could say anything it would be to know that all is well.  Honestly, things are pretty tough sometimes.  Thankfully the tough times have helped me decide who I really am.  I´ve learned that no problems, people, areas, nothing can make me discouraged, only myself.  I know who I am and every day I work my hardest because I know how important the Gospel is and how it changes lives.  I know Christ lives.  Everything happens for a reason, there´s a great plan for all of us.  I know this is true.  Heavenly Father loves us, he really, really loves us.  I love all of you and know the Church is true.  Keep your eyes on what´s most important, don´t get too distracted and realized how blessed we are, adios!

                                           We saw this iguana outside our hotel in Guatemala City


                                                Me and Elder Carter from the CCM

                                           Feels like America-crazy nice McDonalds

                                            My companions fishhead-this caused some problems...

                                           The view from our porch-it's so pretty here!

                                        This is San Francisco, a town in our area

Me and Elder Haderlie headed to Guatemala City

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Pon Tu Hombro a la Lid!

Hey everyone, hope all is well back home!  This week was pretty interesting week.  Tuesday we worked hard in Choqui and found a man named Don Santos.  He lives down a little mountain and has a pretty big family.  One of his sons is a member but no one else in the family.  He loved hearing about the word of God and we shared quite a bit with him that Tuesday.  We´ve worked with him a little more and everytime we visit there´s a great Spirit present.  Kind of a long story short, with a little more work and with the help of Heavinly Father, I truly think he´ll be ready to be babtized.  

Thursday we had a multi zone confrence down in Toto, about an hour and a half from Choqui.  It was super nice to hear from President Smith, he gave us a lot of good advice and tips about how to be more effective.  He focused a ton on helping our investigators understand the feelings they feel are from the Holy Ghost.  He also helped us understand that of about 28,000 babtisms in Central America last year, only around 3,000 are active!  We should be shooting for conversion, not just simply babtisms.  This helped me realize that we shouldn´t be teaching people lessons, we should show people how the Gospel can forever change their lives.

The hardest part about this week was one of our progressing investigators, Angelica, dropped us.  I´m not sure what happened but I think some of the Evangelists told her some stuff.  I was pretty bummed about this, but we were lucky enough to find a man named Celixto.  He´s kind of quiet but just a real solid guy.  His wife is a less active member and he´s a Catholic but only wants to know the truth.  Long story short, this week we invited him to be babtized in October.  He kind of dodged the question but we told him he could recieve and answer if we prayed together.  We all kneeled down and he gave one of the best prayers I´ve ever heard.  We asked his wife to bear her testimony and she started crying and gave an awesome testimony.  The Spirit in the room was just incredible.  Celixto is a super busy man but we challenged him to pray with his wife for a date.  We´re going to call him tonight and hopefully he has a date in mind!

Another miracle happened for us this week.  We found a girl named Jimmena in Choqui.  Our lesson with her wasn´t the best but she asked for two Book´s of Mormon, one for her and one for her sister.  I didn´t really think too much would happen with her but this week we ¨just so happened¨ to run into her all the way in Patalup!  She´s been reading the Book of Mormon, praying, and had all these questions for us.  She is super smart, she was asking all these questions about the Jews and stuff, just a great girl.  We invited her to be babtized the 25 and she said yes.  I asked her why she wanted to be babtized and she said it´s because she knows the Book of Mormon is true and feels like the Church is true.  We still have to talk to her grandma but I really think she´ll join the Church.

This October our zone has a goal to have a ¨month of miracles.¨ Our entire zone hasn´t had a babtism in like 3 months and right now it´s looking like we should have 9!  I feel so blessed to be where I´m at and to help change people´s lives.  Sure, there´s a lot of hard things that happen but everyday I feel happy and excited to share the Gospel because it has changed my life.  I know miracles will happen if we ask for them in faith and that anything is possible with the help of God.  Pray, fast, and just have the faith that Heavinly Father can do anything.  Adios! 

                         This is the church in Choqui-Jack and his companion live in an apartment in the back

                                                            This is Jackson's "kitchen"!

                                                    This is Patalup, part of Jackson's area

  This is the church in San Bartolo, the town where Jack goes every p-day to email and buy supplies.  They have to stay the night in this church every p-day because there aren't any more buses back to Choqui in the afternoon.  

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Semana de Patalup

Hola!  This has been a pretty eventful week.  After a district meeting, my companion and I headed up to Choqui, packed our bags, and made the trip to our second area called Patalup.  Haha that was fun!  Imagine hiking straight up to the Y in Provo with about 70 pounds, that´s about what it was like.  BUT we made it in good time and quickly started exploring the area.  Apparently my companions companion had health issues so he didn´t know the area too well.

This whole week has been walking and looking for those who could become investigators.  I was a little frustrated the beginning of the week because we weren´t really getting anywhere.  Thankfully my prayers were answered as we found about 5 or 6 people who have a lot of potential.  One of them is a girl named Angelica.  We showed her a video of the First Vision and right when it ended tears just started rolling down her face.  I don´t think I´ve ever felt the spirit more strongly as both my companion and I gave testimony of Joseph Smith.  I had prayed that whole day for a miracle and up until 5, nothing had happened that day.  Heavenly Father always gives to those who have faith and I consider finding and teaching Angelica a miracle.  

This week we did a lot of service.  Moving bricks, hauling corn up a mountain, teaching seminary, the whole shebang!  Serving is an awesome way to reach out to the people and make a difference. Service is great and though sometimes it´s hard, it´s helped me be a lot more humble and loving. 

I never thought I´d have very many meals in my area, but this week alone we´ve had probably 6 or 7!  The food is really simple and really good.  Eggs, beans, rice, corn tortillas.  The people don´t have very much but they are extremely generous.  You have to be a little bit careful as far as cleanliness goes haha but I haven´t been sick or had any problems so I consider that a huge blessing.

The other day in Church, with about 8 minutes until church started, Bishop pulls me aside and told me to give a talk about prayer.  Talk giver, piano player, and lesson teacher haha.  I feel really comfortable with all these things now and I´m glad to help the ward out.

There have been a few really tough days this week but I keep learning a lot of awesome things.  Patience and humility have been hard at times for me in the past, but I´ve become so much more patient and truly humbled.  Heavenly Father has a plan for everyone and he loves us more than we can imagine.  The Church is true.  The Holy Ghost can always be with us if we will let Him.  I love everyone back home, I love this country, and I love being a missionary.  Adios!

 JAckson and his companion
This is a man in the ward in Patalup where Jackson is this week.  Jack said he tried to help him with his wood but refused!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Hola everyone, this has been a crazy week!  Sometimes the days feel just really, really slow but I love sharing the Gospel.  One of our biggest challenges in Choqui has been finding investigators that want to progress.  Before I came here I don´t think there had been a progressing investigator in like a month or two, so it was such a blessing this week to find Isaiah.  Isaiah is a great kid and he´s been reading out of the Book of Mormon and keeping commitments, good good!  Earlier in the week a man named Hector came up to us and said that he wanted to change.  We´ve only been able to teach him one lesson but last night we called him and he´s really interested in learning more.  One problem though... we don´t know if he´s in our area!  We have an area called Patalup, but he lives in Patalup San Bartolo, so we´ll need to figure that out this week.
This week we did a lot of tracting in the mountain, which is really fun even though everyone is spread out.  We have to do this because the main area of Choqui is about 100 percent Evangelists.  These guys are crazy!  They do not want the Gospel at all, no matter how hard we try.  It´s funny though, you know who has the biggest, nicest houses and usually a car?  The Evangelical pastors.  They tell their members to avoid us because they want money, which has been frustrating.  Other than that, things here have been pretty good.  It´s kind of tough having a latino companion because sometimes you just need to speak English, but I´ve learned a lot more Spanish lately.  Oh, and the other day in Church I gave a talk, blessed the sacrament, and taught Priesthood!  We may not have a lot of people here in Choqui, but who do you think they send to tough areas? Tough people!  I really love something Joseph Smith once said.  He said something like, ¨Never be discouraged.  If I were sunk in the lowest pits of Nova Scotia, with the Rocky Mountains piled on top of me, I would hang on, exercise faith, and keep up good courage, and I would come out on top.¨ I´m doing my best, the best I can and I´ve learned so much about patience, Christ, and love.  The church is true and we have so many blessings.  God loves us.  Adios!

                                                       This is Jackson's view each morning

                                                      Spanish, Quiche, and English  

                                                     Jackson and his companion eating in their "kitchen"

Monday, September 8, 2014

Hola from Xela!

Hola everyone!  This week so much stuff has happened, I am just going to jump right in to it.  Last Tuesday we left the CCM for Xela.  It was about a 6 hour drive in a little bus, but we made it there alright and they took us to a chapel to meet with the President.  They gave us some Pizza Hut, a little orientation, then we had interviews.  During my interview, President Smith asked me things about myself.  Hows the Spanish, do you have any fears, all that stuff.  Then we started talking about the outdoors and he asked if I liked the wilderness.  I told him yeah and that my friends and I went to Yellowstone for our Summer trip.  He smiled a little and wrote some things down and from that moment I knew I was going somewhere remote haha.  They introduced us to our comps and we quickly headed out for the buses. 
My companion is Elder Andy.  He's from Ecuador and doesn't speak English, so I've been using a lot of Spanish lately.  We hoped on a bus from Xela to San Francisco.  Let's just say that this San Fran isn't the same as the one you're thinking of haha.  We arrived at like 7, but it gets pitch dark here at 7.  There wasn't another bus going to my area that night, so we stayed the night with the zone leaders.  That night we preached for about two hours, which is really a lot of fun.  That night the missionaries wanted me to eat street food but I said no way!  It looks pretty good but you can tell it's not clean.  Long story short, the next morning we hoped aboard another bus and headed to San Bartolo, where we have district meetings.  My district leader, Elder Perry, is from Pleasant Grove!  That{s been really nice, he's a really great guy.  After our DM we had to get on another bus for about 45 minutes to our area, Chocqui.  Theres a pretty nice chapel there with our apartment in the back.  I have to say, it's a tough area.  Everyone speaks Quiche, with a little Spanish, there are no stores, and probably only 350 people in a 20 mile radius. I love hiking, which is good because we've done a lot, lot of that!  I've learned soooooo much in this past week.  The first day we hiked about an hour to a house of some really, really poor but soo sweet people.  This little girl came and hugged onto my pant leg, dirty as can be but super cute.  I asked here what here name was and she said Ashley.  I hope my comp didn't see me but I just started crying haha.  The people here are so humble.  

I've learned a lot this past week.  Apparently not many gringos have been in Chocqui, especially not new ones.  My leaders keep telling me it's probably because I'm meant to do something special here.  I'm learning so much patience and humility here.  There are really no people there, but I will still do my best to change this area for the better.  Oh, we actually cover three areas and this next week we have to hike 3 hours to Patalup with our stuff.  That'll be interesting!  I'm hanging in there and doing my best, that's all I can do.  I love all you guys, I promise the Church is true and we are so incredibly blessed.  Adios!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

One week left in the CCM!

Hello everyone!  I'd again like to thank everyone for the great support and love from back home, I really appreciate it.  Guess what?  I leave for Quetzaltenango on Tuesday!  I can't believe how fast the time has gone here and how much I've learned.  I'm really pumped to start preaching the Gospel.

President Cox came back this week, which was a huge blessing.  President Pitcher did a pretty good job, but President Cox has so much energy and is such a great guy.  It was his birthday earlier this week, so the whole CCM met together at lunch time for a birthday party.  Chocolate cake, mariache music, and my friends here at the CCM, it was a great time!  Haha funny story for you guys.  Each day we're supposed to get up at 6 30, and as I was getting up I could hear a booming voice down the hall.  About 3 minutes later I recognized who it was... President Cox!  An elder in our room was still asleep as President came in and woke him up.  He asked the elder if he knew the time and some other stuff, the elder felt pretty embarrased but now I know that they don't mess around, 6 30 every day! 

We also got new lations in our room, Elder Lopez and Figueroa.  Two great elders.  On Sunday I had a great experience with Elder Figueroa.  He was sitting on his top bunk being pretty quite.  I asked him how his day was.  He sat straight up and we locked eyes as he said, "What happened today? Today I learned, today I learned that Joseph Smith was a prophet, and that he really did restore the church."  Tears started to roll down his face as he said this, and it took me off guard a little bit.  We chatted a little more, but I'm glad his testimony was strenghtened and he shared this with me.  

Well, this is honestly about all I've got haha.  Next week, however, things will be completely different!  I can't express how excited I am, how cool it's going to be.  There's a lot of things maybe I should fear, but I don't have any fears because I trust it God.  I know the truth.  Something Hermano Abadillo said this week really struck me.  He was talking about testimonies and what Heavenly Father wants us to know.  He said, "He likes you to believe, but He wants you to know."  Everyone know that I know the church is true.  No doubt.  I love and miss my family and friends, but for the next two years I'm going to to my best to help others.  Again, next week I'll have a lot to say, but if you learn anything from this know that God lives, Christ died for us, and we will live again.  Love you guys!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Hola! from Jackson!

Hi everyone!  Another week down at the CCM, feels like I got here yesterday and now I'm one of the old guys!  I leave not this Tuesday, but the next.  I can't believe it, I'm so excited to go and get to work.

Ugh, I wish I could talk to you guys!  It's been hard for me to express how awesome of an experience this has been over email, but I'll try my best.  This week I feel like I learned so much. My spanish is doing really well, in fact I keep wanting to type spanish words in haha but I guess that's a good thing.  My companion and I have really bonded and we are able to teach pretty darn well.  

This week there was a plague at the CCM.  I think literally half the CCM got it, which was no bueno.  The chefs made a batch of bad lasagna haha, I'll spare you the details but let's just say that a lot of people were stricken!  I didn't get too sick, but a lot of people had some, irregularities if you know what I mean haha.

Each week at the CCM we do something called CRE.  We are supposed to teach real less active members, but they never show up so we end up teaching other missionaries.  This week Elder Carter and I taught Elder Cox and his comp.  Elder Cox is from PG and though we weren't too close, it's really nice to talk to people about home for a little.  He just left yesterday, so did about 25 others.  As a going away party, we packed about 75 missionaries into one dorm room.  Yes, 75.  It was sooooo packed and about 115 degrees, but we all sang a few hymns and had a prayer.  The power in that room was incredible.  There are so many great men here and I'm very priveliged to be apart of the work here.

Well, that's about all the main things that have happened here.  I've bonded with so many and have had amazing experiences here.  Any of you deciding wheter or not to serve, I would say do it!  It's a once in a lifetime opportuniuty to bring others to Christ.  I love you all and I hope things are well at home.  Remember how blessed you are and how much we truly have.  God is generous and he loves everyone.  Peace!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Hi everyone!  Everything is going well here in Guatemala!  I had the opportunity to go through the temple today, it was truly amazing.  I had the chance to go through for someone who was from huehuetenango, which is a city in my mission.  I thought that was way cool.
Alrighty, it's been about nine days since I last wrote.  Last Monday we had the chance to go to downtown Guatemala.  Everyone from the CCM got on buses and first we headed for the Capital.  It's just so unique, a lot of European looking buildings and a huge plaza.  Haha there were a few sketchy things down there, but we quickly headed over to a market.  It was so unique, I picked up some Guatemala jerseys and a very, very unique haha jacket with Quetzal birds on it.  After looking around for about an hour, we headed to the relief map.  They had us walk in the streets for a ways, which was pretty cool.  A lot of the people seem very happy and were kind to the missionaries.  The relief map is a gigantic map of Guatemala built in like 1904 or something.  My mission area has so many mountains!  Seeing this map got me really pumped up to serve.  After the relief map, as well as seeing a really slummy part of the city, we headed to Wendy's.  This was the best, nicest, newest Wendy's I've ever been to!  It was soooo nice to sit down with an American burger, sprite, fries, and even a little American music in the backround.  I honestly felt like I was back in the states, and then I looked outside and saw the police zooming by with guys in the back of a truck holding machine guns!  Haha, it's a very different world down here, but I honestly love it so much and the people are just amazing.  
Every Sunday we have a sacrament meeting where people are randomly called on to give talks, in Spanish.  I thought I was clear since there are so many missionaries, but our zona leader got up and said, "Primero, nosotros vamos a eschucar al Elder Call."  Yay!  Haha it wasn't that bad, I feel like I did very well.  I talked about repentance and how it can help us be clean again.  Afterwards one of the branch presidents told me my Spanish was very good, so that was a nice confidence boost.

Let's see what else... oh! That Sunday we watched the 2013 MTC Christmas Devotional from elder Bednar.  Ha that might seem a little random, but I can honestly say it was the best devotional I've ever seen in my life.  They handed out 200 cellphones to missionaries and told them to text questions to elder Bednar's Ipad.  It was so inspirational and helpful for me.  One thing that he said was. "You were not called to a place.  You were called to be a full time missionary."  All missionary work is the same, we all want to bring others to Christ.

Earlier this week we got some new room mates.  I like them, one's from Idaho and the other from bountiful or something.  We also got a new DL, Elder Stott.  He does a pretty good job, but I think I liked Elder Savage a little more.  Elder Jepson, Elder Stott's comp, became our ZL.  He's 23 and had to work for 6 years to be here.  He is so enthusiastic, I really think he will do miracles. 

Things have been going great with Elder Carter.  We have been working on communication and we work a lot more effectivly now.  I love being a missionary and I know Christ lives.  The Church is true and miracles still happen.  I miss you all very much, but just know that I have been working my very hardest.  Nos vemos!

Eating at Wendy's with Elder Carter

Monday, August 4, 2014

Week 2!

Hi everyone!  I can't believe I'm almost finished with my second week here at the CCM, it's crazy!  I know I just wrote like 5 days ago, but there are some scheduling issues so they wanted us to write today.  

This week has been quite a bit better than the first week.  To be honest, the first week here wasn't the greatest.  Things have improved and I'm really starting to love my district.  For a while they didn't work hard but they have changed and now I finally have more friends!  My companion and I have started to communicate better, which has really helped us be more effective.  He's quiet, but he has a great testimony and we've started to get along really well, well, most of the time haha.  Let's just say that we had one REALLY hard day this week where we both didn't have the best sleep, but other than that it's been a lot better.  I'll tell you what though.  They always say being a missionary is good preperation for marriage and I want you all to know that's true!  We are together all day every day and if we get mad at each other or something then neither of us get much done.   I will say though, I'd much rather be with a girl all day than with a guy, but that's a few years away haha. 

Tomorrow we get to go to downtown Guatemala, which will be pretty sick.  First we're going to something called "El Mapa". It's a 3D map of Guatemala the size of a football field!  Then we're going to the market, then we get to go to Wendy's haha.  I'm really excited, especially because we get to leave the CCM for a little and have a break.   They say this old part of Guatemala is much different than where we're at, but it can't be that bad.  Even here at the gas station across the street by the temple they have a guy sitting there with a shotgun, so we'll see how Old Guatemala is like.  Should be cool! 

Hmm, let's see.  Oh, I guess I've never really told about my teachers here.  Hermano Noack is our morning teacher and he's the happiest, nicest, and funniest guy I've ever met.  He looks like a Guatemalan version of Mr. Bean and he is always smiling.  His english isn't the greatest, but he's one funny dude.  He shared with us some of his mission stories and they are incredible.  I don't think typing them would do justice, but the Priesthood is real.  Hermano Abadillo is our night teacher.  He's small, well dressed, and is just a stud.  He also told us some mission stories which were awesome, but the other day he did something mean.  We were having class when he started complaining of a headache.  He continued, but started repeating some words and started to stumble.  We told him to take a seat, then he collapsed to the floor.  I was freaking out!!! Someone ran and got a nurse for him, and she said "here's some pepto bismal."  Turns out the whole thing was a joke, but he was trying to teach us we need to apply the right medicine to our investiagtors.  I won't forget that!

Presidente Cox is still gone, so things are still pretty funny here at night time.  Some of the Latinos in my room take a flashlight and put it on peoples peepholes on their doors, which lights up the whole room.  I really love the latino people here, they are hilarious!  

Guys, God answers prayers.  I know that's true.  The church is true and I'm excited to serve in a beautiful area with beautiful people.  Adios!

Elder Call

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

First week in the CCM in Guatemala!

Hi everyone!  I just finished my first week here at the Guatemala CCM, and it has been the longest, most eventful, hardest, and best week of my life.  First I'll talk about arriving here.  Last week we arrived at LA International at around 10 and had a three hour layover.  I was still feeling nervous and stuff, so I didn't bother eating.  It was good to sit around for a little and think about what I was getting myself into!  We then boarded a plane for Guatemala.  I was in the very back of the plane, with a loud screaming kid behind me and some very raucous Guatemalan's around me haha... They gave us some declaration forms to fill out.  Did I do them right? Probably not, but I filled them out and went to sleep.

The Guatemalan airport was fairly nice, though definitely third world.  We grabbed our luggage then headed to a curb to wait for our bus, which ended up being some sketchy 1970's school buses.  Oh one note, if this letter or the punctuation seems a little weird it's because I'm using a Spanish keyboard and it's kind of weird!  Any way, all 46 of us missionaries loaded into the buses and made a ten minute drive through downtown to the ccm.  It's very similar to Mexico, but we're definitely in the nicest part of Guatemala here.  We arrived at about 8, unloaded our stuff, and got our companions.  Ah, my companion....

My companion is VERY similar to Eric Stewart. He loves video games.  He loves Golf.  He's a little taller but only weighs a buck twenty five. He's very nice, but unlike Eric his work ethic is severely lacking.  He likes to walk slow, eat slow, take a lot of time in the bathroom.  I don't want to complain too much haha but it's been a real challenge trying to learn spanish without a buddy.  Oh, and his spanish is muy muy mal, but he is improving greatly. Every day we have to teach a fake investigator in spanish, so I usually have to lead the conversation.  Hopefully I can make him want to work hard!

My district is pretty cool.  Elder Savage is our district leader.  He's a nice guy, though he falls into the problem that pretty much most people here have... they don't want to work very hard!  A lot of people waste time talking about stuff and don't want to study spanish, which is very irritating because I'm here to work hard, not be lazy.  Dad, teach your deacons how to work hard because being a missionary is hard work, we literally work for 13 hours a day.

Alright, I'm sure you guys are wondering what the CCM is like.  It's kind of like a nicer hotel where everyone is learning spanish and the gospel.  The food is fairly normal and they try giving us Guatemalan food like beans and eggs for breakfast.  The juice here comes in half liter bottles and is super tasty.  People always told me to never ever eat lettuce in Guatemala, so it made me nervous when they fed us these taco salad things the other day.  But I ate it all because whatever you do here your can't ever waste food, it's super disrespectful.  

Here at the CCM you are either a norteamericano or a latino.  There are only like 10 girls here, so I'm kind of glad I'm not a girl haha.  The latinos are super funny and always want to learn English. But some elders have been teaching them words like swag, how you doin, and ey man, wats yo problem hahaha... They are very funny people and very hard workers, they're awesome.

Presidente Cox, the CCM presidente, had a meeting with Elder Russel Nelson the other day and Elder Nelson checked out his heart.  Turns out he had some clot or something so he left to Salt Lake the other day to have it removed.  He should be back within a week, but his being gone has definitely led to more chaos here.  Before he left he would always check our floor at nights and be pretty strict with the rules.  Now that he's gone, people are getting a little more crazy, especially at night.  Some elders decided to shave an elders chest into a superman s, and they aren't going to bed on time.  But I keep the rules and it's really not that bad, just a little more crazy.  

A few things you may be wondering about.  I did have to get my head shaved, though my hair was pretty stinking short.  Today we went to the Guatemala City temple and it was very beautiful.  It's a small temple but very unique.  The weather here is very good, though pretty humid.  We have a chance to go to the market next Tuesday, so I should be able to find some really cool stuff.  Oh, they took our cameras the first day because some elders were inappropriate so no pictures for a while haha, sorry mom....  oh don't send packages here ever!  The other day I was in the shower when some guy told me I had a package and had to pay thirty dollars.  I quickly got dressed, grabbed thirty bucks, and flew downstairs.  Apparently it was for the other Elder Call here haha, but still, I don't want to have to pay that much!  I love you guys so much and want you to know I'm doing fine.  It's hard, but it's worth it.  Adios!