November 18, 2014

Carrying wood Guatemalan style

This week has been fantastic, hard, but I've loved every day! It has gone by so fast, and I've been told repeatedly that the first 3 to 6 months are the slowest months of your mission...that makes me worried for what it's apparently going to be like after that time.

A few highlights from this week:

Highlight #1: So you know that wooden figurine Grandma and Grandpa Morgan have of the Guatemalan carrying a load of wood? Well, I became that Guatemalan this week...but the story begins before that experience. There is a member of our branch (local congregation) that is our "Guatemalan Grandma."  She has a washing machine, so we've been using her washing machine do some of our laundry. Well, a couple weeks ago we stopped by like usual to use the washing machine, but found out it was broken.  We asked if she would be willing to clean a few items for us and that we would pay her for the time and supplies to clean them. Well...she told us she would be more than willing to clean them for us and that she wouldn't accept any money. "Well we have to give you something (this is only one example of the many things she has done for us) for all the things you've done for us." She replied that we could cut some leña (wood) for her...well the day before in District Meeting we had found out that there was a new rule throughout the mission that missionaries could no longer cut leña. What a dagger to the heart! So we had to explain the new rule to her and offered that we could cargar (to carry) leña instead to which she accepted. This is how we found ourselves beneath a load of wood this week up in the mountains. WOW, that is some hard, HARD work! I doesn't look like it would be difficult or that the little load I have in the picture would be that heavy...but trust me, I gained some serious respect for those Guatemalans who cargar leña all day, every day. I did one load and I thought I was going to be out for the next week from how physically draining it was. THAT IS SOME HARD WORK!!

We love our Guatemalan Grandma!

These guys who carry wood are tough!

Highlight #2: I went on another division this week with another awesome gringo missionary in my district.  We were from the same CCM group, so that was great to be able to hangout with a friend from the CCM. :) We had a lot of fun, and got a lot, a lot of work done. I finally was able to get over my fear and apprehension when it came to contacting. Almost all of our appointments fell through, and we are in need of some new and progressing investigators, so we set about contacting. We went down to a part of the town off a hill that I had never visited. We were able to teach a couple unplanned lessons (and receive return appointments), make some good solid contacts, and see a part of San Bartolo I hadn't seen yet. I loved it!! :) I know that I, and I'm pretty sure my companion, learned a lot from that division.

Highlight #3: Christmas has officially begun! The giant gallo Christmas tree was lit on Sunday (gallo is an alcohol company) and we've started singing Christmas hymns in church.  At first I was feeling a little like, What the?!? this is a little early for Christmas, but then I realized that between dia de los muertos and Christmas they don't have any holidays (namely Thanksgiving) to focus on. So why wouldn't they start celebrating Christmas? :)

On the bus in our new gorras

Highlight #4: Last p-day I, and 2 other elders, purchased gorras (hats). That is one cheap investment I am glad that I made! First, I didn't realize how cold I actually was in the evenings until I now have a warm head every night. Second, it has been an awesome way to come off a little less serious when we are talking to people. Not distracting, but a fun thing that people comment on (because my companion and I are somewhat matching). :)

Our bus stop

Riding the bus in our new gorras!
I love being a missionary in this beautiful country.

I am loving every moment that I get to spend on the Lord's work. Some times are difficult and others are super enjoyable, but nonetheless I am loving the changing and refining that the many experiences I have each day are creating in me. I know that our Father in Heaven loves each of us individually and personally. He knows when we are having a hard day, when we need a little bit of encouragement, or are just a little down. I know that in these moments when we feel like nobody knows how we are feeling or what we are thinking and we possibly feel alone or abandoned, that these are the moments when we can and need to turn to our Heavenly Father. He is always there to lift us up, to help us feel his love, and to help us know what path we need to take to continue moving forward. I know, without a doubt, that our Father in Heaven knows us each personally, like earthly fathers know their children, but more completely and eternally. He knows exactly what each of us needs, wants, desires, and seeks in our lives. He is there! He loves us eternally, with more love than we can comprehend! He is literally our Father, the father of our spirits! I take confidence in my heritage as an eternal son of God, and so should you.

I love you guys so much and am excited for the day you guys all get to experience the joys of missionary service, whether it be as 18- or 19-year-old single missionaries or as senior couple missionaries! The work of the Lord is sooo amazing and I learn so much every day. Know that you are all in my thoughts and prayers siempre and that I love you guys so much. More than I ever have at any other time in my life! In a few short months I'll be back...a changed man, a man who relies on the Lord in all things, a man who has changed for the better. Thank you all for all the encouragement, thoughts, and stories each week! YOU GUYS ARE TRULY AMAZING!!! Keep up all the great work and always remember to smile! :)

With love, your missionary, brother, son, and friend,
Elder Flake

Our everyday path

A mountain home

Breakfast with my divisions companion

Brownies and pancakes...the breakfast of champions!

HUGE dogs here (they have 2 more not pictured)
This dog's name is Killer; yes, Killer. Aaaaaah!

My little Guatemalan friend

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