Hello family and friends again!
I hope your week has been as awesome as mine! It sounds like a lot of changes are going on with school and construction and fresh starts. It´s a great feeling to start new!
So, a few of the ward members found out I can draw decently and so now they call on me to draw illustrations on the board, which is weird cause I still do simple stick figures. But they like it :) And also I´m drawing a ward member now, as well. I normally wouldn´t but recently my district hasn´t been wanting to do very much on P-day so I went to the store today and bought a pencil and paper to start drawing on P-days.
Wish Matt and Jaden the very best for me! It´s weird that I´ve already been out here for two months now and to look back and remember how far I´ve come from the first day. Tell Matt that learning Russian will be rough especially because he didn´t study it in school like I did Spanish. Spanish is hard but learning an entirely new alphabet and phonetics has got to be way harder. I might try my hand at French or Italian when I finally have Spanish down pretty well (which probably will be after a year of Spanish in College). The Spanish down here is really fast but I´m understanding more and more each day. My Comp is really hard to understand because in Dom. Rep. they speak even faster. Everyone tells me not to be frustrated when I don´t understand him because no one understands him half the time. So, I just smile and wave sometimes... :).
This next part is for everyone but especially for James Warren and Erin Thomas:
Down here among the missionaries, they are famous because of the songs they did for the church. All the missionaries started singing along with James and Erin´s songs when I played them. I told them I knew both of them and they were taken back at first. So you're Famous Erin and James!!!
The electricity here is pretty reliable but sometimes it cuts out. Today all of the City Center (Popular Centro) was out of power which is rare because it´s in the heart of the city. But, it´s really common to lose power in the Obranch because it´s up high in the mountains. El Sitio (where our house is) has lost power too but not as many times as Qbranch.
We did divisions this week because my comp is DL as well, so he does the interviews for the baptisms (we maybe have two or three a month as a district). So Elder Mahan came with me for the day. He´s been in my exact area before so he wanted to check up on everyone. He gave us some good connections and really helped us with general relations with the people we visited. He´s a really friendly guy so everyone was just smiles when they see him.
Our Area Book is junk and should be burned. We have some good records but for the most part it´s garbage. I´ve been updating it for the past week every night and I´m still not done. That´s a problem that my comp has... he doesn´t plan for the goals he sets and just wings it every week. He never updates the Area book unless we get a baptism and then he only updates what he needs to show that we had a baptism.
Entonces, we have a baptism this week! It´s my first one. I won´t be doing anything but some planning and maybe some singing for that too. It´s the Familia Zuniga that I told you about last week and the week before. They are getting married on Saturday and then in the afternoon is their baptism. Down here they don´t have a huge ceremony. They just "sacan los papeles" and they´re married. It cost 2000 Lempiras ($87.54) for the lawyer and we have a good one so that´s all we have to pay. Normally there are some other costs too but not with Hna Yuni. She´s in our ward so she cut us a deal. 2000 Lps is about 500 US and that´s a lot of money down here. We live off of 2000 Lps or less every 15 days and that´s including our electricity and water bill. (We haven´t gotten our bill yet but I hope it´s not much. The other elders say just to make due when the time comes to pay for it and not to worry about it.) After I´ve done it once I can prepare better for the next time. :)
The other missionaries in my district are great! They could use some buffering still I think. We had a meeting last week with Pres. Bowler and he told us that we were going to change this mission into a very active mission which includes baptizing lots and retaining all our baptisms. He told us the other missionaries are great but we can be better. He said we were sent here to make this mission better. He still hasn´t interviewed me but some of the others from the CCM said they´ve been interviewed. We all agreed that our missions right now are not living up to what we call "The Escobar Standard". Hno Escobar was our teacher at night at the CCM. He really set our standards high but we know they are achievable. Everyone in my district at the CCM says that if Hno Escobar were to come to this mission, he would kick all the missionaries "bottoms" because they aren´t living up to his high standards. Some of them are, a lot of them aren´t. That´s what I think Pres. Bowler was talking about last week. Our motto in the CCM was, "Que Somos!?!" which is "What are we!?!" So that´s a big motivator for me to hold up The Escobar Standard. It´s the same standard that Captain Moroni held up on his flag, "In memory of our God, our religion, and our freedom, and our peace, our wives and our children." When I evaluate myself, I try to hold myself to this standard.
My honest opinion of my comp is that he is great in every way except in planning. For example: he wrote that our goal was to have 6 progressive investigators this week but then didn´t specify who they were going to be and how we were going to get there. It´s really dumb to compare goals and actual records when your goals look great and then your actual records are dumpy. It can be discouraging too! So, I told him this week that we were going to plan for those 6 progressive investigators and write down what exactly needs to happen. Long story short, I still have no idea how that goal is going to be accomplished. He says I need faith, but I think he needs the works to go with the faith.
Elder Head, my DL was talking to me today about all the things that I´ll find here in Honduras that are wrong. He said that I´ll find people he preach faith but then say where´s the sign/evidence in the LDS church. They want to see something to believe it´s true but then say we need to have faith in their churches. It´s just a reminder of what the Savior went through among the Jews.
For example of this: today I was sitting at the bus stop talking to an older man. He asked about Joseph smith and I told him he was a prophet. Elder Head said that he died and we have had other prophets since. The older man replied that the dead prophets don´t count for God (an expression down here that means they don´t care about God once they´re dead) and Elder Head told him, "Then who is Moses?" After that we told him to have a good day and took the next bus. Everyone is like that down here. They don´t want to listen to us, they want to argue with us. I´ve had doors closed on me and I´ve had backs turned on me but that´s not what is hard to feel. The hard thing is when someone lets us in and then turns their heart on what they are feeling. That´s much harder, when you know someone else feels the Spirit testifying to them and then they don´t want us to come back. It´s just not their time yet.
We have rain here a lot. We also have lighting and thunder. But, the coolest is the Relampago. It´s lighting that lights up the clouds and doesn´t strike downwards or make any noise. It´s silent lightning. We have that a lot here and especially when we go to the Qbranch up on the mountain, we can see it really well off in the distance!
I cleaned my shower with a strong cleaner thingy-ma-jig! I can see that it´s blue now! Before it was gray... A lot of the showers, I bet, are the same through out the mission.
Special Experience of the Week: I asked Hna Zuniga (the one who´s being baptized and married this Saturday) what she wanted most in the world and her answer impressed me with her humility. She said, "I want to hear the word of God and have good health." I was thinking more along the lines of material things because that´s where the conversation was going but she surprised me a lot. I can promise that she will receive it as much as she works for it. She is an awesome example to me of quiet humility and a hard-worker.
It´s time to be done writing. We go over our hour here because we´ve had a lot of time the past few weeks. We haven´t played sports since my first P-day, which is sad, but no one wants to cause there are too many missionaries now, so they say. So we shop and then go home. I´m trying to get my comp to want to plan to work on P-days because we have oodles of time that we waste walking around aimlessly and without purpose. He just doesn´t want to plan and I can´t speak enough Spanish to get him to want to plan better. He says to just go with the flow and that the general idea is in his head. We use our planners but don´t follow them usually because lots of lessons fall through. This is because we don´t set up appointments and plan better. Plan, Plan, Plan!!! That´s what we need.
I read Return From Tomorrow I think twice and I love that book a lot. I love his experience meeting the Savior. If I could I´d read that book again right now, but I´ll have to wait for a few more years. :)
(Brian asked him what his advice would be:)
Advice for you to Lindsay, don´t let her play until her work is done. That´s what you did for me my whole life. The difference is that I learned to manage my time with computers when I was a little younger. It´ll will be harder while she is older because she is smarter and less child-like (harder to teach). It´s not that she is stubborn, it´s just that she is trying to experiment and find her purpose right now and so she´s experimenting with cameras and editing. Those things are awesome and she could go really far with it but the Chemistry will push her much further down the road or hard-work and success than her toys will. Even if I don´t remember Chemistry much, and she will use that as an excuse that Chemistry isn´t applicable to her career, Chemistry is still hard work worth accomplishing. He´s not an easy teacher to get an A in his class, but if she works to get the A she will feel very accomplished and will have learned a lot.
Thanks for the ordering the batteries for me. The store here is really shifty. I don´t want to buy a battery that isn´t from a trusted source. It looks like a really dirty and small Ace Hardware store but it´s dark, small, has lots of bars, and shady people. So I´d rather not go back there again. I can feel when something´s not right.
That´s awesome about Education Week! I´m glad you got to go. I think Matt said he went to it once and loved it. I never went but I should´ve tried it once, if I'd had time. :) Maybe when I go to BYU when I get back I can try it.
I have not written my Thank you´s yet... pero lo hare! (I will do it!)...... when I get some paper next week. They don´t sell lined paper close to where I live so when we go out of the area next, I´ll look for some. I should´ve thought about it earlier today because I literally saw stacks of lined paper notebooks at the store I bought a folder at today. Sorry about that! I wrote one for the Sutt´s but I think I´ll rewrite it because I was in the CCM and a little rushed at that time. I´ll work at those!
The package could get here soon then... the AP´s just won´t pick it up till the next month cause it´s cheaper that way. They aren´t supposed to but they do. So I´ll pray too! :) We haven´t had problems with other missionary´s packages so far!
Enjoy high school and live with no regrets. It only comes once. I know this is dreary advice but one day you´ll look back and say, "I wish I would´ve (or woudn´t have) done that." So live with no regrets and have fun. Keep up with Chemistry! and have fun with the camera stuff. You have no idea how blessed you are to have those kinds of resources (school, good teachers, good influences, and goodly parents)... don´t waste your time becuase it keeps moving whether we want it to or not. And as always, I miss you lots and love you! All the Latino missionaries want your number hahaha ;) I´ll send the good ones your way. Hahaha! Just kidding! ;)
Grandma & Grandpa,
I love you tons! Having great grandparents like you makes a huge difference in the lives of their grandchildren. I couldn´t be surrounded by any better people in my life. Give Grandpa my love and tell him I miss him and think of him always.
Love you all! Hope life is treating you well and that you all are staying busy! You´re all in my prayers!
Monday, August 18, 2014
|Spencer with Elder D. and a family in their area.|
First to answer Mom´s questions:
I´m in Valle de Angeles. I´m about 15-20 minutes away from the Mission Office. We had an Elder go home this week because he's been robbed 9 times and couldn´t handle it anymore. No one else in the mission has been touched. He was in the most peaceful area that the President could send him and there was just something about him that made people want to target him. The weird thing is that everyone jokes about how strong and big and tall he is. I´ll be fine. No one else gets robbed or mugged or anything. His comp was Elder Jones in my District in the CCM. I got to go to the office today and see Elder Jones. I asked him what was up and he said his companion was starting to have PTSD problems. He told me that his comp couldn´t sleep for these last few days because he was so scared. The good thing was that when he got nervous or scared, he would cook a lot!!! And so Elder Jones was well fed when I saw him :)
Elder D. has 12 years in the Church. His whole family is active in the church. I really like him. He´s patient with me when I´m not understanding or I didn´t understand something, he slows his Spanish down enough for me to understand and explains words as best he can to me. He is a hard worker too. Which reminds me... all the hikes Dad and I have been on have come in handy now. We literally hike the distance up to Provo Peak every day here. Elder D. doesn´t fall too far behind ;) jajaja (I can laugh in Spanish too!!!)
My package won´t get here for a month or two after you sent it. We can pray it get´s here faster but I´m not getting bitten anymore either... It´s weird but I think it´s the Permitherin I sprayed everywhere. We don´t have cockroach problems anymore because of it. The day after I sprayed, I found about four cockroaches laying around the house dead or dying. The ants love to clean them up for use too! We can watch the ants carry the dead bodies out of the house and down to where ever they go into the ground. It´s really interesting but I won´t go into details.
The pila water is fine to shower and clean with but I´d never want to drink it... which happens sometimes I think at member´s homes in Quebrachito (not Querachito like I wrote last week). But they put Tang in it so it tastes better :) We have a water warmer rod thing now so no more cold showers!!!! That´s awesome! It´s kind of like when kyle told us that the Latinos put the iron in the water to heat it up in the morning except that it´s a lot safer and I bet a lot faster. Just got to watch my fingers from getting burned because it´s just a heating rod without any protection or anything.
Last week at church, it was just Hno and Hna Mercedes that went to church but Elder D. says they aren´t promising because they´ve been "investigators" since at least two transfers ago. We don´t know when they were contacted because the records and the Area Book here are just crap!!! No one keeps good records of what has happened or needs to happen!!! It´s really hard to open a mission here because of that (Opening a mission is just sending two new missionaries into an area and taking the other missionaries out.) That happened to one of my CCM friends, Elder Colwell. He went to Agua Caliente (Yes it´s hot there... really hot!) and they took all the other missionaries out. I feel like I´m on the clean-up crew here. I feel like the group of missionaries that came with me were sent now to finish a lot of what was started and never finished and that we have way more hope and optimism than the other missionaries here. Everyone accepts the fact that the work here is slow and that´s the way that it has to be. Once my district from the CCM and I know Spanish more comfortably, things are going to change. We all are different: some are really creative and go with the flow while others are straight-forward and direct. I really have high hopes for us. What I saw in the CCM of my district was a lot better than what I see now. It´s like the song "Press Forward Saints" & "Onward, Ever Onward! As we glory in His Name!" I hope to report much success and I´m reminded that we are only as limited as we allow ourselves to be. What this mission is now is really good, but what it could be is far more appetizing! :)
Today has been really good! We went to the Center of Tegu where all the malls and outlets are. Lindsay would die for some of the shoes down here... haha good thing she doesn´t read these or she might ask for some. (Lindsay read this email to me on my phone on the way home from Orem today. HA!) This is partly answering one of Mom´s questions as well: the stores like we have in the US are only found in the center of Tegu. Everywhere else just has little stores or pulperias (little stores with some of the stock from bigger stores) but they don´t have Walmarts that I know of. They have PriceSmart and Sears here but neither have batteries for my camera so I was wondering if you could send one for it... I looked in RadioShack and other Electronics stores but the only store that was a possibility would have to order it and the store seemed pretty sketchy. They wanted me to pay before they ordered the part but wouldn´t give me a receipt so I just would rather you send me one if you could. It´s small and says "FUJIFILM Lithium ion battery pack" on it. Below that it says, "NP-45A" and in smaller text, "3.7V" It goes in the camera that you took your pictures of books at libraries with (by the way, do you need them???)
The weather here doesn´t change. It´s always just about 75-80 degrees and we´ve had rain at least once a week so far. The sun comes up around 5 and sets around 5 here. The other day we had a teenage thug calling at us and he got up to follow us but then we just kept walking and he tried to walk with us but we didn´t pay him any attention and he left us alone. It helps to have a big black Republica Dominicano with you at night. We only stay out till 8 and the sisters are in at 7. We have an extra hour of study time at night which I love to have :)
We talked to Familia Mercedes but they are really stubborn not to make commitments. Like I said last week, we need people to be married before they can be baptized and eventually go to the temple. Along these lines, two of our other "More Promising" families committed to be married and we are this week. The one is Nau and Heidi (Heidi is a member and her family is the family in the pic I sent. I don´t think that Heidi is really strong in the church though. Nau is really optimistic about the church though.) They live in El Sitio where our house is. The other is Familia Zuniga. They are completely new to the church. They live in Quebrachito which is where the big hills are... hahaha We walk and hike everywhere. Like I said earlier, thanks for all the hikes you took me on :) The 50 Miler was a huge prep for me to come here. The mud is horrendous here when it rains. I used the boots we bought right before I left but they attract a lot of attention here and detract from lessons sometimes because they´re massive and different looking. I like them but I´ll save them for when I go to Paraiso or the South. (we have three main areas: Ciudad, where I am, then Sur (South) and East (referred to as Paraiso which means Paradise. Supposedly it´s beautiful weather and plants and everything. In essence, paradise.)
We are having a lot of Noche De Hogar (FHE) with members and investigator families. This is what helped Familia Zuniga make the choice to be married. But I´m going to try your idea to pray while contacting. I´m also going to be trying to sing. Everyone here says I have an angelic voice and I think that´s because they are tone deaf here, almost everyone is at least. We´ve made a few more contacts but Elder D. says they aren´t promising. But we´ll keep trying.
I started crying on Saturday, not because I was sad, but because of the blessings I have been given: the knowledge of the gospel in a more complete form, my Patriarchal blessing, my Setting Apart blessing, and all other things I have been promised or already have. I have been blessed so richly. I pray every night that I will have success, like you said with leaving drops of sunlight, at every door I knock. I desire so much to learn the language faster. I desire so much to be exactly in tune to every prompting I´m given during the day. I desire to live in such a way that I am always confident that the left turn I take is the will of the Father. I guess that´s what faith is though: when we make a left turn instead of the right turn and the door is shut in our face, we must go back and find our way to the right turn. It´s like a maze and the quickest way for us to get to the end is to see the dead end at the other wrong turns we make.
Hurrah por Israel!
Don´t worry about the school stuff. It´s good to be nervous and curious but it´s best to be yourself. You will meet the kind of people who will help you the most in this time of your life if you are yourself. Because the Gospel Light is within you, if you be yourself, people of that same light and people that want that light will come to you. It´s going to be a great year for you. As the scriptures say, "Oh be wise! What can I say more?" Just be wise. Sometimes I wish I chose some things a little more wisely. Love you tons! I know I´m not at home and that I´m far away but the internet makes us closer if you'd write. I´m always listening... partly cause I have nothing better to do on my P-Days but write and play.
Kyle and Jess,
Thanks for the beautiful pictures! They brightened my day even more! I love hearing about everything at home. I´ll keep you in my prayers! You´ll need more now with your baby!!! I´ll be back in a jiffy to see how big he´s grown. Love you guys!
Tom and Megan,
Thanks for your pictures too!!! It´s a blessing to see such happy, beautiful smiles. I´m thankful for your example :)
Maybe one day when I´m more experienced in my Spanish, I´ll work on P-days too! The Obra Misional is that important! Everyday is a P-day for you when you make it one, but eventually the preparation turns into experience. We can have way more influence in our spheres of friends than the missionaries. Just believe. Then we can work with our trust in our Heavenly Father.
PS give my love to Grandpa for me! Love ya Grandma! You´re in my prayers too!
Monday, August 11, 2014
|Spencer and Elder D. with the Nunez family his first week there.|
|Spencer with Elder D. (from the Dominican Republic) on their first day. (Spencer must be standing on something.)|
It´s cool here. Not like temperature but cool as in interestingly fun. It´s VERY poor but the people are all nice. Even the ones that seem sketchy are kind. We went by plane... and it was super duper different. It was a propeller plane and the engines were cut before we landed and also we had to circle all of Tegugucigalpa (Tegu) two or three times before we landed. Then we went to a really nice hotel to spend the night and the next day we met our trainers. Oh, and I never got to be interviewed by the President. I don't know why but I didn't... :) I don't think anyone was from our whole group.
My trainer´s name is Elder D. He only speaks Spanish but luckily I´m okay with my Spanish and can communicate with him for the most part. He is a really hard worker and kind too! Everyone says, "You have the nicest trainer!" And I say, "I know." haha but he´s great. He´s from The Dominican Republic so he speaks fast (not like the Hondurans fast) and he leaves off a lot of S´s so it´s hard to understand if he forgets to speak slowly for me. Even then he has to explain a few words or have me look them up. But, I´m learning fast. In Sunday School, the Hna was talking about miracles. She pointed to me and told everyone that I was one. She said that from the first day she met me until now that I have spoken and learned more Spanish than any one student of language could physically do. God really has given me the Gift of Tongues... even if I still have no idea what is going on... which is most of the time. I´ll share some experiences in this letter about that as well.
Health Check: All is well... But on Sunday I woke up with a bloody nose and my companion was freaking out about it because bloody noses is how people die from Dengue Fever. DON¨T WORRY THOUGH! It´s not Dengue Fever. I have no other flu-like symptoms so all is well. I think it´s just the clima (climate) here that is making that happen. Entonces... I do have 15 or more mosquito bites however. They love me most at night when I´m sleeping though. So I´ve asked to get a net from the office along with the bug spay that they never gave us either. I feel like my group of missionaries have been forgotten because other missionaries that came from Provo and Mexico have all this stuff that helps and we have nada! But I´m still good. No Dengue. No problem. I´ll just drink more water.
Another issue, and this is for Kyle too, we have no other choice but to eat from people vending on the streets. The market´s are worse and it costs a lot of money and time to go to a bigger supermarket like Walmart because it´s really far away. We only eat from people who we´ve eaten from before and that we haven´t gotten sick from yet. So, that´s good. My favorite thing so far is the baleadas. They are basically tortillas with beans inside. They also have Mantequia (spelling??) which is unpasturized milk and other stuff but it tastes good and I´m not sick and no one else is either so I´ll be fine. On the bright side, we eat at a member´s house once or twice every day.
This next stuff is from my journal of the past week but it´s sums everything up pretty well:
10 Agosto 14
It was a hard day! At the first it was really hard cause I felt like we weren´t doing anything and my Spanish was awful. Then, I said a prayer. I said, "Heavenly Father, this day has been rough. I´m struggling to understand why I´m here because no one wants to listen and no one who does, understands. Please help me." Then, answers came pouring in. That day, right after my prayer, we kept walking and we found 6 other missionaries at a member´s house from another area. Two spoke English and so I talked to them and expressed my frustrations. They gave me hope that everything is possible and gave me tips on how to improve; basically the said, "Listen." Not only did this mean that to learn Spanish quicker I need to listen intently but also I felt like it could mean, "Listen to the HG." So I did just that. One of our last visits that day was to an investigator family and we talked to the husband and wife. Elder D. talks the most because he knows Spanish. I didn´t know what was being said other than it was about them getting married so they could possibly be baptized. But I had the feeling to share the message of the BoM and invite them to Church. They can´t read very well so asking them to read the BoM is pointless cause they can´t. So, then I pulled out the BoM and D&C and showed them the Sacrament prayer verses in D&C 20. I talked to them about the importance of the Sacrament and why they needed to go to church. Then I showed them Moroni's promise. I promised them that if they would pray about this gospel and the BoM and if they would go to church, then they would receive an answer in church by the feelings of their hearts. I bore testimony of Joseph Smith, of the BoM, of the Atonement, and they just sat and listened intently. Truly this was a fulfillment of my Patriarchal Blessing. When I asked if they would come to church they said yes! They've said no for so long that this is a huge step. Today they came and I hope they felt the spirit and have prayed but we'll see in two days because tomorrow is P-day.
Also, later that night we went to the Nuñez home and had dinner and talked a lot. I felt like I could understand them better than other families. They are also a more educated and well-off family. They were really kind and helped me when I didn´t understand. They took time to make sure I was understanding like everyone else and actively participating in the conversation.
Anyway, to put things short, the work is so hard here (another prophecy fulfilled) and so everyday I´m seeing miracles that are happening with me and that are happening in the hearts of the people we teach. Although the work requires extreme things of me sometimes that I'm not used to, I can always smile when we serve... and we're serving everyday. The simple things are the best in life.
The hardest thing here is that no one is married yet they have kids and live together. They all dress immodestly and I don´t blame them cause it´s a difficult climate and they´re poor; however, I think the women could not feed their kids in the open and the men could cover their bums and hairy chests... sheesh!
We have cockroaches here. I've already killed three and one of them was 2 inches long, not including it's antennas. There are more than three in our house but they were too quick to kill. There are bugs of every kind in our house but we try our best to get along with them.
It's not as bad here as everyone says it is. Yeah, the Queranchitos are really poor and live in shacks but the people closer to Valle de Angeles are fine and we, as missionaries, are fine in our house too. The worst part is that we have to wash our clothes on a washboard with the pila water. A pila is a big cement bowl filled with water to use during the week. We have to change our pila water soon or the mosquitoes will lay their eggs. We also have to wash our hands with that water and we don't have a shower so we dump buckets of pila water on us and wash with soap. It´s kind of like a sponge bath :) :) :)
I´m doing great here. I´m not sunburned and no one really gets sunburned. We just sweat a lot and don´t put sunscreen on (Sorry Mom! I will some days but mostly we´re fine!) I talked to an Elder from my CCM district and he says I haven´t gotten darker in a week and I don´t look sunburned. I just need to drink more water. We buy bags of pure water here for 2 limperas (that´s about 5 cents) and suck from the side of them. It´s really like a long camp-out with no fire. And the thunder here is really loud! It´s rained but I haven´t used my jacket or boots yet because we don´t know when it will rain when we´re out contacting and visiting.
Love you all!
PS Tell Cesar, Matt, Jaden, and Austin that they are awesome and that there´s nothing like serving a mission. All I can say is they´ll find out when they get there!!! Oh! And tell them I said the CCM doesn´t prepare you for the culture as much but always work hard on the practices and with the language and everything because the time there doesn´t come back. READ PREACH MY GOSPEL!!! All the chapters, not just Chapters 1-3!!! Tell Austin good luck in the CCM (this week) but the field is better.
Love you all again!