January 26, 2015

6 Month Mark

Love this family
This gringo is a bit taller than the locals...I feel like "Buddy the Elf" in the shower!!  Haha
Wow, another week come and gone here on the mission...crazy!

So to the Highlights:

Highlight #1: English Class. This week we began teaching English, which has been pretty fun!! :) Our branch president asked us, somewhat jokingly, if we would make time to come by and teach his kids English. So we accepted the service and are loving it! It has presented its own fun challenges, but we love working with them and being able to be in presidente´s home and feel the spirit there.

Highlight #2: I had a division this week with my District Leader in his area. So after district meeting we headed over there. Turns out to get to that area you have to get off the bus, then walk 30 min into the mountains. It was soo beautiful and fantastic (and honestly, a little refreshing to be in a new area). We worked super hard, founds some positive new investigators and potentials. And then as tradition dictates, we had a fantastic meal for dinner when we got back :) We had tacos, mashed potatoes, and brownies!! :)
Fixin's for fantastic District Meal together

(Comment from mom:  you know he's been away from home for a while when a
"fantastic meal" consists of tacos, mashed potatoes, and brownies!  I love it!!)
Highlight #3: 6 MONTHS!!! Ahhhhh!! A fourth of the way already gone!! I can't believe it! Wow, it has gone fast! Well, it was also a member friend's birthday, so my companion and I went and visited her to wish her a happy birthday. Turns out we were the only ones who remembered...But then we celebrated a little bit for my 6 month mark. I made hootnannies for lunch, which by the way were FANTASTIC!!! (It has been over 6 months since I've had me some hootnannies) Then we were invited to have dinner with the branch president and his wife and had these cheesy tortillas that his wife learned to make on her mission in El Salvador. They were fantasticly delicious!! Then highlight #4 happened. :) :)
Happy 6-month mark!  Celebrating with Hootnannies!

Can you see the "6" in syrup?  I know, cheesy, but it's a landmark!

Highlight #4: 6-Month Tradition. So as tradition dictates when you hit your 6 month mark you must burn a tie. So without further ado, I burned a tie! :) It was actually a lot of fun!! :) You can all now rest in peace knowing that 1) I am keeping missionary traditions alive and 2)I handle fire in my spare time ;) Haha :)
My "6 month tie"

Keeping missionary tradition...burning my 6 month tie!
The last embers of the tie
Well, that´s my week in review and only the highlights. Soooo much more happened! We have some new and very pilus investigators, started officially the new year of seminary, attended a training meeting for the wonderful seminary teachers, gave blessings, preached the gospel, and walked A LOT!!! But I'm not complaining, I know that this is the work of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I know that He called me personally to serve Him and to serve here specifically. I know that only by and through Him may we all return to live with Him and our Heavenly Father. I am soo greatful for the love, hope, and vision the Lord has given me and that I get to witness enter the lives of those I teach. If you are now pondering if or when you should serve a mission, turn to the Lord. He knows when, where, and who He needs. He will guide your life specifically, but first we must ask and be living in such a way to invite that guidance. I love you all and pray for you each individually every night. I pray you feel and see the Lord´s hand in your lives every day, feel His protection and guidance, and feel the peace and joy of being a member of this marvelous church at this time in the world´s history.

With Love and Well Wishes,
Your missionary, friend, and brother,
Elder Flake
My awesome companions at Christmas
The chickens for our Christmas tomales

Tomales are awesome!

January 19, 2015

Things I KNOW...

This week has been pretty good :) I've enjoyed it!! :)  Loving my comp!  So the highlights for this week (and that's just what they are, highlights of the best parts)....

Highlights for 1/19/15:

Highlight #1: There was a baptism this week!!!! :) :) :) Too bad it wasn't for my area...We were asked to be witnesses for this baptism because they didn't have enough priesthood holders. Also they were coming here to use the Banos here for the baptism because they wanted to be baptized in warm water :) So we got to be there :) So, I've now been to the Banos, and it was....interesting. To explain what they are I will describe them this way...they are the town baths. Think Roman Empire public baths...you get the picture. It was an...interesting....environment to have a baptism in, but it worked :) Also while there we talked to a teenage kid who asked us when he could be baptized and wants to know more about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. So that was fun too :)

Highlight #2: Food. Yep, I do love my food :) Had a fun experience with it this week :) I remembered a conversation I had where someone mentioned that we had a metal plate for building fires. So my comp and I decided to try it out....by making s'mores!! :) Yep, we had s'mores this week!! They were delicious and brought a little bit of the good times from the states back for a little bit! :)

Highlight #3: Food, Again. Still loving my food!! :) So for p-day my comp and I decided to have some fun for lunch. We purchased (this was my first time ever in Guatemala) some ground beef and made some hamburger paddies that were pretty good (if I can say so myself). Then we fried them up and topped 'em with the works :) Enjoy the pictures :) Yep, that's a one of kind, third-pound, Guatemalan-style hamburger! We had to use normal white bread, like the chapins we are becoming, because we couldn't find any hamburger buns...but it worked :)

Sorry, no crazy dog stories or surprises...I guess I could talk about all the contacting and doorshutting in our face we had this week. Or maybe about the lesson I learned about what happens when boiling oil touches your skin. Or helping strengthen families here who are struggling with new stages of life (a dad who is overcoming an addiction, a mom expecting another child, a daughter moving out on her own, a son at a deciding point in his life, etc) :) But even with all these things, it keeps the work interesting and keeps you on your toes :) I have also learned a lot this week and grown a lot in my testimony of Christ. I KNOW that we knew Him personally before we came to earth. I KNOW that He came to earth to lead a life of example and ultimately suffer and die for each and every one of us. But, I KNOW that He has risen and that because of this we will all rise again some day. I KNOW that He is there for each of us individually, in our times of trial and struggle as well as in times of plenty and tranquility. I KNOW that only through Him we are able to repent, become better, and ultimately return to live with our Heavenly Father and families forever. I KNOW that this is the Lord's work and that He personally is directing and participating in it every day. I KNOW that there is power in prayer and fasting, personally and as families. There are few better ways to unite families than having family scripture study and family prayer every day (and Family Home Evening once a week). I promise that if we will each make the effort to study and pray individually and as families every day, we will see the windows of heaven open and bounteous blessings come into our lives and the lives of those we love. I love this work and the blessing of being a part of it at this time. I am soo grateful for all of you, your thoughts, prayers, letters, emails, and everything. Thank you. Keep up all the great work! Keep being the great examples of followers of Christ that I know (and you guys know) you are.

With Love,
Elder Flake

PS Guess what?!?! This Friday is my 6 month mark!!! AHHHHHH, this is going way to fast! Fourth done already?!?!

A Guatemalan girl who wanted a picture with the tall, white missionary!  haha

January 12, 2015

Starting the year off right

This week has been pretty unique :) :) So I´ll just jump to the highlights!! :)

This week in highlight reviews:

Highlight #1: The pigs have arrived!! :) This week we were finally able to go out and visit our friend's farm. This is very difficult for us because he lives in Xela and here and jumps quickly and frequently between the two. But, we were able to make it out there to see him again! While there we were introduced to the new piglets from the day after Christmas. I loved it!!! :) :) Then we had a great lesson with him, I just wish he lived solely here and we didn't have to try and figure out his schedule here. But, things can't always be easy now can they? ;) :)

Highlight #2: So my comp and I got out contacting up the mountain a couple days this week. Got a lot of rejection...and a lot of very confused people. The number one thing we were told was "don't waste your time on us, we´ve already found Jesus." Then usually they would add something like, "But you should go visit such and such neighbor who attends such and such other iglesia than me, because they need some help finding Jesus." I just found it a little funny :) Then when we got to literally the very, very, VERY top of the mountain and started down into a valley I didn't even knew existed...the dogs came. Or more accurately, A dog came. So we turned around and started to leave, and usually this will cause the dog to go away because we are leaving its territory. But not this dog, he was right on our heels for about a half mile up the mountain and then down the other side a little ways...haha :) Got to keep things interesting, right? ;) :)

Highlight #3: Well, I found out (at least my best guess) that Chilé y my stomach don´t do to well together. So have to back off of that...this is one of those missionary stories you laugh about after the mission but hate while it's happening.

Highlight #4: So...one day this week was kind of slow, nobody was home, and those that were didn't have time to talk. So we still needed to meet our daily goals, so we did the next best thing we could think of...we taught those that couldn't run away :) Included is a picture of me teaching one of these lessons. Yes, I was teaching a cow....out of the hymn book. Desparate times call for desparate measures ;) (Disclaimer: we really didn't count them as lessons, but we thought it would make a pretty good photo op :) Enjoy!)

Highlight #5: So there is a local belief that the first 12 days of the year represent the 12 months of the coming year...so everyone gets a little taste of what to expect in their year...haha :) And from what ive been able to gather, its pretty dang accurate... :)

Highlight #6: Also included is a picture of a fruit that I have seen nowhere else in the world. It´s called a Granadia, but I just refer to it as the spider egg sack fruit. If you ever have the opportunity to try one, take it! It´s something everyone should experience at least once in their life....the guates love them, I haven't decided yet if I do...haha :) So the back story, we were out contacting (the same day as the dog) and contacted this house. All the kids told us their mom wasn't home, but then low and behold, out walked the mom. So we started to talk to her. She made it very obvious, very quickly that she was good in the church she was in and that we should use our time elsewhere. But then, as we were turning to leave, she was like "wait elders. Do you guys want some fruit?"...umm, sure :) So we ended up with like 8 of the granadias and then some HUGE limóns :) So, I guess that was our blessing in disguise from contacting that house...haha :)

I know that this is the work of our Savior and Redemer and loving older brother Jesucristo. I know that only through Him and the Expiación de El we can return to live with our Heavenly Father once again, as well as have the way prepared through which we can be with our families forever in a state of never-ending happiness. That's a lot of happiness don't you think :) I promise that if we will turn our lives to Him and follow His instructions, we can't and won't go wrong.

I love you all and pray for you each individually every night. Hopefully you guys feel the thoughts, prayers, and love sent to each of you from Guatemala! :)

Love you all,
Elder Flaké
My Zone at the conference where I sang

January 05, 2015

Out With the Old, In With the New

This week has been tough, very tough.  But had some great experiences to highlight!!! :)

Highlights for the week of 12/29/14-1/5/15:

Hightlight #1: This week was New Years!! :) That was a party! We were invited to spend the evening with some wonderful members here. We had MORE tomales and lots of snack foods. Then at midnight we all went to the roof to watch the show....and that was QUITE a show. We could see a lot of our aldeas and beyond.  And exactly at 12 all things let loose...all types of fireworks varying from the expensive aerials that cities buy in the states to the small pop-its. But everything goes off for about 30 min nonstop. It was quite an experience :) :) Also, the family we were with was shooting off fireworks off the roof, so those were fun (a little dangerous, but not too bad).
New Year's Eve fireworks...

Highlight #2: New Tradition! New Years Day here in Guatemala is referred to as Dia de Campo (Field Day). Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, goes to the mountains with their family for the day. Whilest in the mountains they barbeque and play games. So we were invited to go with some members for part of the day. I really enjoyed it!! :) We had steak, yes steak, pasta, tortillas, agua (pop), etc. Then played soccer, ultimate, and football. It was a blast!! :) We also made some great contacts, new investigators, and menos activos (so we did get some work done ;)...). So I'm bringing this home with me, the day of New Years, head to the hills and have some fun :)
Dia de Campo!  Fun in the mountains on New Year's Day!

New Year's Day with awesome families!
Highlight #3: The extended family of some members here have been visiting. This was a blessing (and depressing). They live in Xela, but have been visiting for about 2 weeks, so we have been able to talk to them.  Only the mother is a member and she is less active. So this was a blessing because we were able to teach and work with them for the past couple weeks. It was envigorating because we haven't had any super prepared and pilus investigators here...they all only visit for a little while before heading back to their homes in Xela. So the same thing happened with this family...we've been able to teach them, but now they are back in Xela and waiting for the missionaries there to come visit. I loved the opportunity and the privilege to work with them for the short 2 weeks, and know that at some point they will all accept the gospel.

Highlight #4: We found out last night who is leaving tomorrow for changes...drum roll....I am staying here!!!! This will make 4 changes in the same area, meaning I will have spent 6 months here by the next change in February. Apparently there is still work for me to do here...now to get out and find it :) :)  Also, my comp is staying here too. :)

I know that this is truly the work of God. I know that at times it will be difficult (like it was this week and in this area), but that these difficulties are meant specifically for me and He has assigned me here specifically to learn from those difficulties. I know that if I and if you face these challenges with faith and perseverance we will receive the help and blessings of heaven specifically for our lives and our circumstances. I love you all and am loving being one of the Lord's chosen representatives to the world.

With love and prayers,
Elder Flake

Riding in the back of a flete truck!  All kinds of new experiences...