September 23, 2014

Tomales de Lote and more...

This week has been great! And I'm excited to tell you guys some things that happened, but FIRST! To answer your questions:

Yes, my companion is funny. I love just having conversations with him! (more detail in the stories, possibly, if I have time).

It is DEFINITELY still the rainy has rained EVERY DAY since I arrived here! With ONE exception, there was one day this week that it was clear and beautiful all day...and it happened to be our laundry day so our clothes were able to finally dry completely before having to be brought into the apartment (because of rain every other week) :) I take this as a little blessing :)

Clarification from past emails: MorCafe does not actually stand for Mormon Coffee like I had been told. It is just a type of drink here :) Haha :)

I know and can testify from recent experiences that prayer is DEFINATELY a tangible thing! I have received so many blessings from sincere prayer. I know it's cleche, but I still like the analogy that prayer is like two cups attached by a string. When the string is taut (i.e. prayer is sincere and heartfelt and righteous) the conversation is understood completely and totally. But if the string is loose, or taut when you talk but loose for the response, (i.e. not with real intent, not expecting answers, not sincere) the return answer is lost among the empty space between. Always remember to keep the connection tight and personal, and remember that the Lord will NEVER be the one to loosen the string, it will only be us.

So the setup for our apartment is pretty cool. We have 2 bathrooms that my companion and I use (ours in our room he was told by his previous comp not to use because the toilet has problems, but we can use the shower). Then outside around the next corner is the entrance to the one-room capilla (chapel) and classrooms. In the back of the capilla is a oven and stove and a that's where we cook :)

Yes, I am basically living off of peanut butter, tortillas, granola (which is now gone), and oatmeal. Thats it! Because the food is too expensive here where I'm living, so I'm living off of what I was able to get at Walmart in Xela, and it's just not enough...but the Lord has been providing and I haven't gone hungry yet :)

I have a bar to hang some clothes on and the rest of my clothes are in my bags organized and folded. They are in the larger duffle--think of it kind of like a dresser drawer with a zip top :)

For Effective Scripture Study: Set aside time (I've found it's best in the morning) to sit and read your scriptures for 30 min each day. What I've done that has helped a lot is I ask questions based on what I read in an issue of the Liahona magazine. Then I research on one topic. FYI, the Biblia Dictionario es amazing!!! This week I was focusing on (and probably will continue this coming week) studying the first and second resurrections, the second coming, and the millenium. Another tip, and I don't know why this works for me, but if you play spiritual instrumental music as you study it's amazing. Also have a study journal to write impressions, cool things you learn, and your response to what you read that day. :) Just a few suggestions.  If you would like more just ask :)

I've improved just overall spiritually and it came from completely relying on the Lord and following with exactness his promptings. But this week spiritually I improved in my testimony of the divinity of patriarchal blessings! :)

All right, so I'm running out of time for this week...but I have time to tell you guys a little bit.

So this week I found a food that I just LOVE!! They are called Tomales de Lote!! A side note: I know they were prepared safely :) But the tomale story begins earlier that morning...So this member family had asked us to come help them harvest their corn, to which we agreed and told them that we would be by at 2 pm on Thu. So Thu came and we were stuck with a potential investigator and finally made it to the members home at about 4 pm...ahhhh. But it all turned out. It turns out they had started earlier than planned and had finished by 1 instead of harvesting we helped them de-kernel their corn. OH, WHAT A PROCESS!! So you de-kernel by hand, each individual, single, solo kernel on an ear of corn. And I was instructed by the members to use my thumbnail to do so...well, that maiz got super shoved under my thumbnail, separating the nail a very small bit from the skin. OH, it was painful!! but its better now :)

Well, I know this church is true! I KNOW that Joseph Smith had the vision he said he had! I KNOW that we are living in the last days and I have the privilage to take part in the final gathering of the Lord's people!! Missionary work is amazing!! Sorry this email wasn't as in depth...had some technical difficulties and had to take care of some mission stuff...

I LOVE YOU GUYS!! Keep smiling and keep up the good work!! oh, and keep the dearelders and letters coming!!! :)

Love your brother, son, friend, and missionary,

Elder Flake
Pics from my area

September 18, 2014

...the power of God brings to pass His purposes

Dearest peeps at home ;)

This week has been fantastic!! :) Lots of fun stories and experiences and things to tell!! :) BUT, first to answer your questions...then we´ll see if I have to time for more :)

I´m doing great! :) Um, the food here is very simple...the food is water-based and the main staples are maz, potatoes, celantro (coming to like it...very slowly), and corn tortillas (my favorite!!). But the corn tortillas here are made fresh from the corn so I actually really LOVE them!! Not goin' back to that American subsitute fake stuff when I get back...also if we are lucky there may possibly be a little meat in the soup :) Living very simply!! BUT LOVING IT!! not having a worry in the world!! haha :) Also, just a fun fact about the food too...the members here have a drink that they ALWAYS have called mor caf ("mormon coffee"), so my first mug of "coffee" of my life was the first night after arriving in the field!! But to know that I´m still temple worthy!! haha :) It´s more of an herbal tea. I actually don´t know what they make it from...just that it´s safe always!! :)

We literally live IN the same building we have church and baptisms in...just a little room around back :)

Today we got together for p-day with the entire zone of missionaries and played indoor futbol on an outdoor/indoor court and then played futbol americana afterwards! :) Then went to a chinese restaurant for lunch!! :)

In the rama (local congregation) there are on average about 5 primary kids, we have a young man, and dos young woman, 3 endowned members (important in one of my stories)...

Alright so I´ll just write as many stories as I can before I have to get off...

My area is if we were to walk to some of the aldeas (small outlying villages around a larger, still tiny, main city) it would take all day walking and we wouldn´t be able to teach....story (or two ;) ) to follow.

So a cool experience from this week...There is a deaf youth in my rama here whose birthday it was on Fri. He lives in a very poor family and was baptized last month at age 12.  Because they are poor my companion and I knew that they wouldn´t really celebrate his birthday, SO we decided to make a lime pie for him and surprise him for his birthday! So we made the pie, which had to be frozen, then carried it the 45 min walk literally ¨over the river and through the woods¨ then over the other mountain we go! haha :) But it was all worth it. He LOVED IT!! And it really just showed me what a little bit of tender care for an individual can do for you but more importantly for them and bringing them to feel close to Christ!! :) Loved it!!

Also this week as you always hear in the stories, my companion and I were out contacting a couple of days and just kept getting rejection after rejection, some more rude than others, and then you find the gem! We have 2 brand-new investigators!!! One, we ran into as we were looking for a previous contact my companion had worked with. Right off the bat he told us straight up that he wasn´t looking for, or going to join, another church...but we taught was THE BEST, MOST spiritual lesson I have taught thus far on my mission (and that my companion has taught his entire mission he told me)...we´ve talked with him since and he is reading the libro de mormon and the pamphlet we left for him...we´re hoping this week to have a sit down lesson with him and his family...I´m soooo excited!! As we were walking away from his casa, I realized that we had literally taught for an hour and 15 min and I had understood EVERY word of Spanish used and had been able to start the restoration lesson and be a major participant in teaching him, and it had ALL been in Espanol!! The gift of tongues and the Spirit are real!! I wrote in my journal that ¨the Spirit was so strong that it was literally tangible!!¨ Great experience! The other experience with a new investigator--it was late and we were just getting ready to head back home for the night...when we ran into this gentleman at a street corner, he was walking down one street and we were walking down another.  We started talking to him and he told us he was waiting for a friend at the corner, so we started teaching him the restoration lesson right there on the street corner!! We talked for probably about 5-8 min and then we went our separate ways...the curious thing is the man´s friend never came and there were no other people on the streets, yet he walked back the way he had come...just a postulation, but I kind of feel like WE were the ¨friend¨ he was to meet at the street corner. Since then we´ve been able to talk to him again and will be teaching him and his family on Tue!! So a request from these stories: will you pray for our investigators? that they´ll feel the spirit as they read the BoM and as we teach? that would be greatly appreciated!! :)

I was able to participate in another priesthood blessing this week with an individual my companion and I are working with, who is the father of our young man and one of the young woman...he has had some issues in the past month with the word of wisdom...but we are working with him! In the blessing he was blessed to be able to rely on the Lord and quit his bad habits! We go and visit him everyday and share a small message to give our support! His family is going to go to the temple before I leave this area, I can feel it...they are all completely ready, except for the small issue with the father...but that will be dealt with promptly and soon and all will be well :)

This Sunday I was asked to give a talk in church! Oh, great!! But I accepted and prepared...and a miracle (I feel) happened! I gave a 25-30 min talk all in Spanish on the importance of tithing!!! I suprised my companion and the rama and Presidente Ayala and MYSELF! But it happened!! I´m so grateful for the blessing to be able to, at times, speak so perfectly!! :) I was also asked to bless the sacrament as well! First time ever doing the prayers in Espanol!! But thankfully I was able to read them!! :) And it went great!!!!! :) :)

I will conclude with one of my quotes of the week for this past week (I choose one or two quotes to put on our whiteboard for the week):  Presidente Thomas S Monson (I believe it is from May conference last year, but not sure) said: "When faith replaces doubt, when selfless service eliminates selfish striving, the power of God brings to pass HIS purposes." (all caps added by me)

I´m loving the opportunity to serve the Lord and especially to serve His prepared children in this area!! Thank you for all of you thoughts and prayers!! I´d love to receive more pictures from you guys!! :) Hopefully all is well for you guys and everyone is now healthy, strong, and still smiling!! :)

Love your missionary,
Elder Flake
Here I am in my apartment...
Once an Aggie, always an Aggie!

September 10, 2014

First Email from the Field

(Note of explanation for those who are not familiar with LDS missions...  Elder Flake finished his language/missionary training in the CCM and is now paired with another missionary and assigned an area to serve in.  He will be with his first missionary companion for the next 3 months.  This companion is his "trainer" because he teaches Elder Flake all about missionary service in this mission.  Other Mission vocab explanations:  Missions are sometimes referred to as "the mission field" or "the field."  Also, "p-day" is "preparation day"--one day each week the missionaries use to prepare for the week ahead (i.e. shopping, laundry, writing home, cleaning the apartment, etc.)  And finally, "a branch" is a small congregation.)  :)  Enjoy...


So I made it to the mission!!! Sorry I couldn't write last week...we arrived the day after p-day in the field and the day before p-day in the CCM so we didn't get to write. :)  PERO, it's great to be in the field!! I love it!!

Alright, so to answer some questions:
The trip was great, longer than it should have been because the road from GUA to Xela (3 hour drive) was closed so we had to go along the coast through Ratalueu and then up to Xela (ended up being 6 hours)!! Yeah, it was 6 hours on a small "tourist" bus with 23 of us...but we all made it safely and all the bags (in another bus) made it too!! :) When we arrived we didn't even go to the mission home. We were just dropped off at a stake center and met with President, his wife, and staff there. :) Then we had to condense the welcome-training meeting that usually takes all morning and most the afternoon into 3 hours before we were shipped out and on our ways to our different areas!! Crazy huh?!?

So, my trainer is from South Dakota and I don't know how long he's been out--he's made it a thing to not have me know...whatever :) Ultimately it doesn't matter... :) BUT, he is a fantastic trainer and wonder guy to learn from and be with to start out! He's exactly what I was hoping and praying my trainer would be!! :)  We don't have an apartment...we just live in the church building :) Fun huh?? Also, it's only a branch up there--average attendance to church is 20 total...but Elder X and I are going to change that!! :)

Yes, if the latinos speak slowly and enunciate their words I can get the gist of what they are saying :)

So an update on my Book of Mormon/Libro De Mormon goals...I read it again in English completely before leaving the CCM, but was only able to make it a fourth of the way through in Spanish...the last week in the CCM was hectic so I didn't get to read as much...oh well.... :) So my new ultimate goal is to finish the Libro De Mormon by the time I call home for Christmas--it is definitely and achievable goal...maybe you guys could set a goal to do the same :) just a thought, you don't have to :) now that I've answered the questions you guys asked, here's a little update for this week because I have to get off soon, but here's an update...

So my area is HUGE like we had to walk 40 min one way a couple days ago to visit some members and investigators and then it was POURING POURING POURING rain on the way back. We literally went down into the valley (because we live on the mountain), up the other side and then OVER the mountain to get to the village!! haha :) and then everything in reverse in the rain on the way home...

I learned that there is a member of the ward who will come and do our laundry each week so YES I don't have to worry about that for the next 3 months :)

So TOTALLY unexpected but since I've been here we have had 1, sometimes 2, meals with members and their food is VERY simple but FANTASTIC!!! and filling. This was a blessing in disguise because there is no way to access our monthly money here and I had NO food AT we are here in Xela to go to Walmart to get food for the month...yep for THE MONTH!!  :)

Also, on the third day here we were visiting a member to teach her less active children and at the end of the lesson she asked us for a I did the anointing ENTIRELY in was nerve wracking but I did it!!! :) and then Elder X offered the Sealing of the Anointing and the Blessing :) :) Good news, the next day she was COMPLETELY better! Completely! The power and authority of the priesthood is FABULOUS!!! (just a reference--check out Elder Bednar's talk from April 2012 priesthood session at  ...thanks) :)

SO some super cool experiences this week, but I'll have to include them next week because I've got to head out...

PERO! I pray for you guys every night that the blessings promised to missionaries for their service will be poured out upon you all...if you haven't seen them yet, I know that they will come!!

I love you guys soooo much! Keep staying positive!!

September 04, 2014

Missionary Arrival

The following is an e-mail we received from President and Sister Smith:

September 03, 2014

Dear Flake Family,

Your missionary has arrived safely.  We love him already and are anxious to work together. Attached is a photo of your missionary on the day he arrived in Quetzaltenango.

This mission has eight stakes and three districts along with six dependent branches.  We hope over the next 2 years that at least one or two of these districts will become a stake.  Your missionary will have the opportunity to work in many of the seventy different areas of service.  Some will work in small villages while others in larger cities like Quetzaltenango and Huehuetenango. Your son’s first assigned area is San Francisco.  Even though Guatemala is small, it has over 250,000 members, six missions and two temples, a truly blessed place with many of the descendants of father Lehi living within its borders.  

We are very excited to work with your son.  Thank you for supporting him.  It will be one of the greatest spiritual experiences of his life.


Rick L. Smith          Sister Lynda Smith
Guatemala Quetzaltenango Mission
President and Sister Smith with Elder Flake

September 02, 2014

Lots of teaching in Spanish

August 27, 2014

Wow, this week has been soo spiritual, difficult, rewarding, and has stretched me soo much!

So, just a couple happenings from this week:

I did my first yoga workout the other day, it's more difficult than I thought.

I'm learning sooo much and the food is to love beans for every meal and cilantro...woohoo!!

A thought: Look up Magi in the Bible Dictionary...I thought it was interesting that it says "They were able to see the star when others could not..." What do you guys think this means? I have some thoughts but would love to hear yours :)

Also this week I was finally caught by the branch presidency and had to give a talk in Church, ALL in espanol. It actually wasn't as hard as I thought it was going to was on faith if you were wondering...So that was fun, but then that means that I won't have to give one this coming sunday!!! Woohoo! :) Also, I taught district class (sunday school) all in spanish before going to Sacrament meeting and having to speak there...So lots of teaching!! But that's what I'm going to be doing for the next 23 months, so I guess I might as well practice :) haha :)

This coming week my distict is singing "Come Thou Fount" in Sacrament Meeting! Super excitied!!! :)

Next week I leave the CCM and go to my first area.  I feel like I'm stepping out of a plane with no parachute and lookin down at the earth comin at me's crazy, and scary...haha :) stayin positive though :)

I will most likely be writing next Tue.  We leave the CCM in the morning on Tue for Xela.  :)

Love you guys lots!!!
My District in the CCM

Last Group Photo from the CCM!!!  Can you find me?