December 10, 2014

Singing and snakes and Christmas traditions

December 8, 2014

Well, one week closer to Christmas...and still no snow...BUT this week has been fantastic!! :) We walked A LOT this week, to and from aldeas, out contacting in the streets (and the mountains), and just walking a lot. Also, I've got a sweet companion! He loves to work, loves to have fun, loves the gospel, and has the Spirit with him always!

Training a new missionary is going GREAT! I'm loving it every day!! :) The Spanish is coming along more and more every day...especially with the help of an awesome latino companion. I do use English in the room with him sometimes to explain things. There are a couple of reasons for this 1) he is to learn English on his mission, 2) he knows a good amount of English already (and is learning more every day), 3) it is never because I'm frustrated, but I do use it to explain things sometimes that I can't explain in Spanish (then afterwards he will teach me how to say those things in Spanish) :)

Well, alright, the highlights for this week...

Highlight #1: I have the opportunity to be a part of a trio to start the Multi-zone conference we have next week with Elder Duncan (Area President and Seventy). Ain't that nerve-wracking!!! The other two missionaries are the Zone Leader and his companion. So they came to my area this week to have our first practice...I'M PUMPED to sing with these guys!! :) :) It sounded amazing! We are singing "I'll Go Where You Want Me To Go," acapella, we each have a solo, and we made up our own parts! I love it! So now to practice enough that I won't be nervous anymore ;) haha :) OH, also worth mentioning...we found out that we are the ones that start off the entire conference. We just start singing, and the conference has begun. Haha :) I am soo greatful for the opportunity to use and share one of the talents God has given me. I am so excited to be singing again, in parts, with a group! (in the rama and in people's homes we only sing melody)

Highlight #2: I faced a fear this week, twice! I realized this week just how afraid of snakes I really am! My companion and I were out contacting and contacted into this woman on her way to sell some things at the local hot springs (the banos, yes bano means bathroom but in this case it's different...). We offered to help her carry her wares there and took the opportunity to teach her the first lesson. We (all three) arrived safely at the Banos, dropped off her things, and my comp and I continued up the road to continue contacting. This is when things got interesting...about 600 mts up the road we were both deep in conversation and out of nowhere there was a serpienta in our path! AHHHHHHHHH!!! Thankfully after about 20 seconds and some prodding (by my comp because I wouldn't go near it) we determined that it was dead. But still! I made 2 realizations 1) I REALLY hate snakes, and 2) with the weather getting colder the snakes of the mountains are going to be decending closer to the city. Both of these thoughts were no bueno. But, being the young men we are we couldn't pass up the perfect opportunity to take some pictures. THEN, the next day we were out contacting again and decided to stop by a less active member of the rama's house...and we encountered yet another serpent. Thankfully this one was also dead, but it gave me yet another reminder of my realizations from the day before. We'll see when the next encounter happens...

Highlight #3: Yesterday my companion and I decided to go contacting in an area I have never been to see if we could find anybody who was ready for the news of their life. So off we went down the road, contacting every house we passed. Eventually we came to a fork in the road, and one of the coolest views I've seen since being here. We were on the top of a mountain (that neither of us knew existed) looking into a valley of farms. Unfortunately I did not have my camera with me :( But I will be sure to go back and take a picture for you guys :) We then continued down one of the forks...the road went from a wide dirt road, to a dirt path, then to a path of trampled folage. We could see a house up the trail so we continued on, but there wasn't anybody home in the on up the trail we went! Eventually, out of nowhere, the forest broke and we were standing right in front of an Evangelica the middle of the mountains, up a dirt and folage trail. They were just starting their service, so we left pretty quickly. On our way back we couldn't remember which fork we took, and yes! we got lost. But the trail we did take led us to a house of somebody that wants us to come back and teach more later this week! So getting lost was a blessing in disguise ;) We eventually did make it back to the city, so no worries ;)

Highlight #4: We taught a man who is a pig farmer...yes he raises and breeds pigs. He actually has a degree in Animal Sciences and Veterinary Medicine...something I wasn't expecting to find in the middle of a small aldea in the middle of the mountains of Guatemala. Haha :) So he showed us around his farm, he grows veggies and fruit as well as the pigs. Then afterwards my companion and I were able to teach a super powerful Restoration lesson with him, and...he committed to follow Christ and be baptized!! :) Yippie!! :) We then found out that he doesn't actually live there on the farm (he lives in Xela) and that because of this he is on and off at the farm...but we will continue working with him and figure out a specific date for his baptism. But still, such a pilus guy, and committed to be baptized in the first lesson! :)

Highlight #5: I have been really missing the different traditions of Christmas that I know are happening at home, especially this week as people are putting up their lights and trees. But a miracle happened yesterday, or at least I'm counting it as a tender mercy of the Lord and a miracle for me. I found out that last night was the First Presidency Christmas Devotional, and that it was being broadcast live on BYUtv internationally. But we had an appointment to talk with some of our youth about their experiences at SOY last week. When we got there we told the Hermana that the Christmas Devotional was happening, and she invited us in to watch it with her and the youth. How crazy is that?!? I'm miles away from home, wanting to experience some of the Christmas traditions of home, and get invited to watch the Christmas Devotional (for some of them, their first time) and afterwards share a message about this season of Christmas and focusing on the birth of Christ. It was truly amazing and a tender mercy of the Lord for me! Hopefully you guys had the opportunity to watch it as well, I loved the music, the spirit, and the messages. I liked how Elder Maynes broke down the feelings of each of the characters in the Christmas story (Mary, Joseph, christ). Then both the talks from Sister Oscarson and Elder Christofferson I would like copies of if it is at all possible. Then Presidente Eyring's talk was amazing!! Focusing on the joy and happiness of this season, about allowing Christ into our hearts and minds, and bearing a SUPER stong testimony of Christ!! LOVED it! :) Also to note, two of the adult church members here were convinced that dad was part of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. I don't know why or where they got that idea, because I sure didn't say anything that would lead to that conclusion. But all the same, they're convinced. HAHA :)

NOTE: This coming Sunday at 9:30 MST is the Christmas Concert Broadcast. It is being live streamed at and on BYUtv. If at all possible I would invite you to take the half hour from 9:30 till 10 to sit and listen to the music and the program and allow the spirit of this season into your heart and mind.

I am so glad for this opportunity to be a messenger of the Lord, going about the Lord's work, and sharing the Lord's restored gospel with all those I come in contact with. I am thankful for this season of the year and for the opportunity it gives us each year to refocus on what really is important: Christ, our families, and showing love for our fellow men. I am thankful for the opportunity to be about His work during the time of year we remember His birth and ministry. Yeah, it's hard at times missing home and the traditions there. But I know that by focusing on the now and the people here, I will learn of new and fantastic Guatemalan traditions for the Christmas Season. Thank you all for your support, thoughts, and prayers in my behalf and in the behalf of all the missionaries throughout the world during this Christmas Season. Feliz Navidad y Año Nuevo!!

With Love and Well Wishes this Christmas Season,
Elder Flake

P.S. I am now the 2nd counselor in the branch presidency here...add that to my list of titles (with seminary teacher, primary teacher, trainer, Elders Quorum president, etc) ;) Haha :)
The fruit I'm holding is a granadia :)  It's mas o menos

Love wearing this tag!

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