From the Parent of a Missionary
Wow. What a crazy week!
First of all, I had a good Christmas. Maybe a little mediocre compared to Christmas in Utah, but I enjoyed it. We had three different dinner appointments, and boy was I stuffed. And here in Guatemala the tradition is to kill a chicken (since almost everyone has chickens) and make tamales. So we ate a lot of chicken and tamales, along with the typical corn tortillas and black beans. The other tradition here in Guatemala is that after people stuff themselves, they go out into the streets until midnight on Christmas Eve to set off fireworks and firecrackers (like it was New Year’s or something). For a lot of people that is accompanied by a visit to a bar or a club, but we tried to avoid that. Instead we hung out with the Alvarez family until midnight, watched the fireworks, and headed home.
Christmas Day tends to be a day of sleeping in and being lazy here, but not for us! I woke up at 6:30 without a wink of sleepiness (4 1/2 hours of sleep) because I wanted to open up my presents. But the rule in my house is that we can’t wake anyone up, and everyone has to be present to open presents. So I did some exercise, read my scriptures, etc until Elder Jimenez woke up. As soon as he stepped out of the bedroom I was ready with my camera and two stockings full of goodies. I got some cologne and a little turtle from some members, as well as some candy. I managed to save some of the candy from my Christmas package as well and I gave it to myself. And I gave myself some of my own money to be some sweet waterproof scripture cases. It was a happy little morning!
At 10:00 we headed out to go do some work. The branch had planned a service activity to go and sweep the main street of the town, since Guatemalans never pick up their trash, and all of the streets were filled to the brim with trash from fireworks. We had talked to the mayor of the town and everything. But then only 2 other people showed up to the service activity, and we had to finish it all because we had already promised the mayor that we would be cleaning. The four of us spent 7 HOURS sweeping the streets, and we filled 48 bags full of trash. And I cleaned out a public trash can that was overflowing with garbage, and I think it was the most disgusting thing I have done in my life. It was filled to the brim with maggots and rotting fruit. So that was my Christmas. How was yours?
I did have a really nice time talking to the fam. It was so good to hear your voices! I think those were the fastest 40 minutes of my life.
A couple other exciting things happened this week as well. We decided we would go the extra mile on service this week and went to help a less active family build an add-on kitchen to their house, Guatemalan style. We pickaxed some clay from a nearby hill and chopped some branches from a nearby forest with machetes. Then we nailed the branches together to form a frame and put a hose to the clay to make it nice and wet. And then we squished the clay with our feet to make it soft, threw in some grass, rolled it into little balls and slapped it onto the wooden frame to make the walls of the kitchen. Pure native style! We have already spent around 6 hours building it and we’re only halfway done. It’s tiring work, but I’m already planning a business with the member so that he can ship me some clay and I will build houses in the US when I get back.
We also had a baptism this week! The Alvarez family are actually recent converts, and their oldest son, Kevin, is 10 and didn’t get baptized because he’s a bit rebellious. But since we got here, I have become really good friends with him and he always want to go to appointments with us. We talked with his parents and then decided that he could get baptized. That was Thursday night. Friday morning we did the baptismal interview, and Saturday we did the baptism. And since our little meetinghouse doesn’t have a baptismal font, we pulled out a plastic set up font and filled it up with a hose. Kevin surprised me right before the baptism when he asked me to baptize him (I thought his Dad was going to do it, but apparently his dad didn’t want to.) And right before it started, we realized that the baptismal clothes for kids were missing. We frantically ran to the nearest thrift store, and lo and behold, they were selling an all white suit that was just his size, and it only cost 25 quetzals (about 3 dollars.) Hallelujah! So we ran back to the chapel, changed quick, and had a great baptismal service. The water was a bit cold, but I felt a powerful spirit and sense of peace. And afterwards, Kevin bore his testimony and said that he had felt something hot go through his entire body. The spirit was there so strongly. And even though Kevin was a bit rebellious, I have noticed a real change in him.
I Church I got to give a talk and teach Sunday school again, on top of confirming Kevin. Things never seem to get boring here, and there is never a moment to relax, either.
Well, I’ve said a ton already. I hope you all have a Happy New Year! I’ve got 6 dinner appointments to go to!