From the Parent of a Missionary
Hey everybody! Wishing you a Happy Easter and a merry Holy Week from Ipala, Guatemala! That`s right — Easter is a bit different here in Guatemala. The Catholic Church tends to turn every possible opportunity into some sort of tradition/party, and Semana Santa is the biggest example of that. For every day of the last week of Christ`s life, there was some sort of tradition. On Palm Tuesday, (I think it was tuesday?) they lined the streets with sand art (which is really cool) and did a procession through the streets. Unfortunately, the procession destroyed the sand art. Not quite sure why they do that. And of course there was lots of food, music, and partying.
My week didn`t change too much amidst all of the festivities. While everyone was chilling in their house, my companion and I got to WORK (like the missionary manual says, we`ve got to enjoy opportunities when families are on vacation!) Our week was highlighted by a couple of road trips. I guess I`ll start from the beginning:
Since my area is soooooooo extremely big, I got to travel all over the place looking for the lost members and investigators who live far away. This past week, we had a new investigator named Misael who came to church with our recent converts, Axel and Maria. Misael is Maria`s cousin and has gone to church before. Maria convinced him to come again and he absolutely loved it! He has a sincere desire to make serious changes in his life. Right now he`s 22 and had a really rough childhood and is trying to get on the right path. Luckily for us, he lives at the veeeeery top of a hill in San Luis, a rather distant city. After a good amount of travel time, we managed to get to his house and teach an amazing lesson where he committed to be baptized this next month and he committed to read the Book of Mormon to know if it is true. He`s a really curious guy, so I`m sure he`ll find an answer.
The next day, we managed to work out a visit with some of the villagers of my favorite village, Los Olivos. Since my mission president told me that it was too far away to go visit, we met halfway at a picnic spot. They fished some things out of a nearby river and fried every bit of it, including whole crabs and something that looked like sardines. I tried to eat the crab but couldn`t quite get there. Thankfully they brought some chicken and I managed to eat that. My stomach hurt a little bit after, but my intestines have become digesting champions and I didn`t get sick. YES! We had a great lesson that reminded me of the sermon on the mount because we were all sitting on rocks next to a river, sitting beneath a beautiful redrock cliff. The spirit was strong.
My final roadtrip of the week was a little interesting. We had made plans to go visit Hermano Fernando, a very faithful member who also lives in a distant village and come to church alone every week. He hasn`t come for 2 weeks straight, so we decided to give him spiritual strength. The day before the trip, we found out that there weren`t going to be buses thanks to Holy Week and vacation. We told the Vasquez family, who had planned to go with us, and the dad of the family, Silvano, told us, “That`s not a problem. We can go on foot.” We decided to have another adventure and we set out at 7:00 on what turned into be an epic hike. With Silvano, Walter (the branch president), Nelson, and Milton, we hiked through mountains, walked past rivers and lakes, and were burned by the scorching heat. What made it even better was that the path was 90% uphill. Going in a white shirt was a pretty bad idea because it got REALLY stained. mmmmm. But when we got to Hermano Fernando, he was extremely grateful for the sacrifice we had made and we feasted upon the snacks that he poured out on us. He ended up coming to church walking as well, which is an hour and a half walk. Good ole Fernando.
This week we started to put into place a plan called “Missionary Families” which has worked pretty well for us. We created some pretty folders for each family that have instructions on how to help the missionaries. We visited all the families in the branch one by one and called them to be missionaries with us. We assigned each family an investigator and a less active member, and told them that they have to visit them once a week and bring them to church. We had a couple members who rejected to call, but a lot of the members accepted and we had a lot of people in Church. It was awesome! We are working hard with the leaders to keep the plan going and to build up momentum, because as more people come to church, we will have more and more missionaries.
My prayers have really been answered this week. Like I mentioned before, I had felt that I was losing my conversion and becoming impatient. But this week I had been pouring out my soul to my father in heaven and asking him for help. I even asked the mission president for advice and help. On Thursday morning, I was dreaming that I was on a hill overlooking Ipala. It was really cloudy and dark. But then a hole opened up in the clouds and a ray of light descended on the city. I was thinking about how beautiful it was when I saw what looked like an angel with a trumpet descend through the ray of light until he landed on the ground. And right when he landed, my alarm sounded and I was wide awake. That day, the miracles really started happening. I have felt a complete change of heart because I know that God is watching over me. President Stay answered my prayers by sending the District President to animate our branch president, who is now doing much better as well. And President Stay announced that he will be coming on April 14th to do a branch conference, and we have no idea what is going to happen. The only thing I know is that I will be working hard to reach our goal of 60 people in church that day. With the entire branch helping us out, who can stop the work of God?
This is the true Church, and God has power to change our hearts and make us into the people that we need to be.
I love everyone!!!!!