May 25, 2015

Another week with a Poly...

Xela at night

The temple in the distance
Sorry, today may be short...I wasn't able to take the time last night or this morning to sit down and go through my journal to write myself notes of highlights...sorry.

Highlights for 25/5/15:

Highlight #1: Rain. Well, the rain has begun! But from what some friends here have told me, I haven't gotten a glimps yet of the great! :( But it should be fun!! :) They say that sometimes when it rains hard enough it floods the streets to the point that cars float down the street...that should be fun to see ;) haha :)

Highlight #2: My Comp. My companion is a BOSS! Every day is an adventure with him and there is always some sort of memory or algo for me to write about in my journal. One of this week's examples/highlights happened a couple days ago. We were coming back to the apartment to drop off some stuff after doing some service...the house we live in has 3 of the exact same doors next to each other (kind the point that you can confuse them). Well, one of the doors (not ours) was slightly open. My comp thinking that it was our apartment with determination and confidence swung open the door, looked up, paused, then turned around and started laughing!! :) haha :) Apparently there was a meeting or something happening because there were a lot of people just milling about with different snacks...and they of course gave my comp a pretty confused look! :) Gotta love him! ;)

Highlight #3: Food...of course ;) So this week I learned how to make authentic Guatemalan horchata! :) It is so good!!! I am definitely bringing the recipe/knowledge home with me and am going to make it semi-a lot!! ;) Haha :)

Highlight #4: District P-Day. So today was our one district p-day for the change. We all got together and every missionary/or group of missionaries from a unique pais (country) represented in our district provided a customary food item unique to their country. We had papusas (from El Salvador), Bean Burritos (Honduras), Otai (Tonga/Somoa), Tortrix (Guate), and Cookie Brownies (US of A). It was a lot of fun...but I'm definately feeling...unique, to say the least...haha :) But it should pass :)
Cookie Brownies!!!  Representing the USA, of course!

Other country's foods

Well, we've got an early appointment so gotta move on to some of the other emails! But hope these highlights suffice for this week at least. I love you all and hope all is going well in the various parts of the world you are all in! Keep up the great work! Find a small act of service (or I guess it could be big) to perform for somebody EVERY DAY this week. If you will, you will see the hand of the Lord guiding your life to those that need your special talents! Until next week!

With thoughts and prayers, and best wishes, from Guate!
Elder Flake
The 83rd Birthday Party for a member of our congregation...


Happy Birthday! :)

May 18, 2015

The Week of the Family

Highlights for 18/5/15:

Highlight #1: New Comp. The long awaited announcement has finally arrived! :) So I am staying in my same area but with a new comp (obviously because my last comp went home last week...). My new comp is....from SAMOA!! NOT REALLY! He's from Hawaii, but has Samoan blood :) He is AWESOME!!! I am soo excited to be able to work with him! He has been a missionary for 20 months (so he goes home in Sept).

My new companion and I on our roof porch.
My comp and I saying goodbye to a young man from the congregation
who is leaving to serve a mission.
Highlight #2: Semana de la Familia. So this week was an area-wide Week of the Family. This means that there was an activity every night ending on Sat with a Cultural Night as a stake and a broadcast devotional with the Area Presidency yesterday! :) It was sick!!!! :) We were able to participate in everything except the devotional and had some investigators and less actives come with us :) :) :) It was sooooo much fun!!! Also really just got me going and pumped to keep working!!! :) :)
Activities for Semana de la Familia, or Week of the Family...

Highlight #3: Pilus Family. So this week we were able to get ahold of a reference we had received :) :) And man is this family prepared!!! The mom is a friend of an ex-member and needed a house to move into. So this member helped her friend come in contact with the member's husband's sister to live with her. Then when this friend moved in she commented to the ex-member that she would like the missionaries to visit again. So that is how we got the reference! :) Two of her children were baptized 3 years ago, but her youngest daughter was too young at the time and the mom didn't want to make that commitment at the time. But she had some things change in her life and some scary experiences that caused her to want to change her life, thus she wanted us to visit again, and her and her daughter both have dates for baptism right now :) :) The Lord really does prepare people to hear and accept the message of Him that we bring! This message really does change hearts, it truly changes lives! :)

I love you all and hope all is well at home!! :) Keep up the missionary work and being amazing friends!! :) The Lord really is right along side us, guiding us, carrying us, cheering us on. He knows what experiences we need to have in our lives to help us become better and more like our Father in Heaven. One of my favorite stories now in the Book of Mormon....sorry if it's cliche, but it really is an enlightening account...3 Nephi 11...(if you do not have a copy of the Book of Mormon, feel free to ask for a copy from any missionary...they would love to talk to you about how the Book of Mormon: Another Testimant of Jesus Christ has changed their lives and can change yours.)

With love and prayers, and joyful salutations, from Guatemala to you,
Elder Flake

PS I hit 10 months this crazy is that?!?!?! :) I'm getting OLD!
My fellow missionaries and friends at changes...the Elder on the left was my trainer.

A package from home!!!!

I had fun sharing too!!!

May 17, 2015

God's great Plan of Salvation

To begin let us turn to Ecclesiastes this scripture we find out our nature and where we came from. We are literal sons and daughters of God. We lived with Him in heaven, learning, growing, and having experiences with the ultimate goal of becoming like our Heavenly Father. But there was a major difference between us and our Heavenly Father. He has a body of flesh and bones (Philip. 3:21 and Doctrine and Covenants 130:22) and we did not; due to this fact without obtaining our own bodies we could never reach our full potential, or in other words become like God. So God created a plan (normally referred to as the Plan of Salvation or Plan of Happiness). In this plan God presented to us that he would provide a world for us to live on and a way for us to obtain mortal bodies. He also explained that part of this mortal experience was to allow us to exercise free agency or make our own decisions for ourselves. Because of this we would pass through a veil of forgetfulness and not be able to remember our life before our time here on earth. In this way our choices, and agency to choose, wouldn't be forfeit by the knowledge we previously had but we could all choose for ourselves if we would follow God or not. But he also made some very significant promises. First, He would provide a Savior, one who would live a perfect life, give us an example to follow, and ultimately who would suffer and atone for the sins of all mankind so that we all, through Him, could have the opportunity to repent of our mortal shortcomings and be able to return to live with our Heavenly Father (Ephesians 5:5 and 1 Nephi 10:21). Second, he promised to give us guidance and direction through revelation, prophets, the scriptures, and the Holy Ghost. Thus the roles of the three, separate, distinct, and unique members of the godhead (or Trinity) were defined. Heavenly Father is the father of our spirits, Christ committed to be our Savior and example, and the Holy Ghost is our link between heaven and ourselves through thoughts and feelings of guidance. But in this council there was also another son of God, Lucifer, who volunteered to be our Savior, but he promised to bring ALL of us back to God through force (forfeiting our agency) and said that if he did this he wanted the glory for himself (Abraham 3:22-26). Thus God chose Christ to be our Savior. As a result, Lucifer decided to rebel against God and was thus cast out of Heaven along with all his followers, without bodies and without any means of returning. Thus the origins of temptation and opposition to God's will were on earth. Each of us who have received bodies were among those in this premortal council who chose to follow and accept God's plan, challenges and all. As a result, we have received mortal bodies and been placed on earth to gain experience, knowledge, and ultimately through our decisions be able to return to live with God. To accomplish these goals, God, as we were promised, has provided us with prophets in times past whose teachings we find in the scriptures as well as prophets today in our time who speak and give us guidance and direction specifically for the unique challenges of our day. But fundamentally there are 5 simple steps we must accept and follow to return to our heavenly home. They have been taught by every prophet in every era of time, including today. First, faith in Jesus Christ. Second, repentance (made possible through the atonement of Christ). Third, baptism (by immersion for the remission of sins). Fourth, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost (through the laying on of hands and as our constant companion as we are faithful). Fifth, enduring to the end (including all the covenants and promises in the temple, receiving the priesthood for men, and living faithfully, following all of God's commandments). Through it all we are always given the opportunity (and responsibility) to choose for ourselves. Ultimately, we all must die both physically (separation of body from the spirit as a result of the fall of Adam and Eve) and spiritually (separation of us from God because we are not perfect). But through Christ's atonement we can gain victory over both. Now with this foreknowledge, to attempt to shed some light and understanding on the question at hand of what happens or where we go after this life, between this life and living with God in heaven. In "True to the Faith" when discussing the Plan of Salvation and life after death it states, "When you die, your spirit will enter the spirit world and await the resurrection." So the simple answer is we will all go to the spirit world to wait, but what does this really mean? In the spirit world there are are two parts, Spirit Paradise and spirit prison. Spirit Paradise is a place of peace and happiness reserved for those who have been baptized by proper authority and who have remained faithful (Alma 40:12). Those in spirit prison have the opportunity to learn the gospel of Jesus Christ, repent of their sins, and receive the ordincances of baptism and confirmation through the work we do in temples (Doctrine and Covenants 138:30-35). Those that follow this course will then be able to enter spirit paradise. Thus all of God's children, living and dead, who have lived on earth will have the opportunity to choose to accept the gospel of Christ. One significant comment to make because you're probably thinking, "Who wouldn't accept the gospel of Christ when they're dead and find themselves in heaven?" There is a fundamental fact that is crucial to us keeping our free agency, and that is nothing can be forced upon us (this doesn't mean that natural consequences for our decisions won't happen, but that we will never be forced to make one decision over another against our will). Death, thus, does not change our personality nor our desires to do good or evil. Thus if we chose (or would have chosen) the follow Christ in this life, we will accept and follow Christ in the life to come. Next, comes the resurrection and final judgement. Through the atonement of Christ we will all be resurrected (our spirit and our physical mortal bodies (in its perfect form) will be reunited never to be separated again). After we are resurrected we will all stand before the Lord to be judged (Revelations 20:21). We will each be assigned to an eternal dwelling place in a specific kingdom of glory. There are three kingdoms of glory. First, is the celestial kingdom. This kingdom is the highest of the three kingdoms. Those who live in this kingdom live forever in the presence of God the Father, Jesus Christ, and together with their families. (To explain WHO receives this kingdom of glory refer to Doctrine and Covenants 76:50-70, 92-96 and Doctrine and Covenants 137:7-9, 10) (Basically all those who received, honored, and kept all the necessary saving ordinances and lived lives in the manner God directed). Second, is the terrestrial kingdom. Those in this kingdom are those individuals, honorable people, "who were blinded by the craftiness of men" (Doctrine and Covenants 76:75). They were those who did not enter into all the necessary covenants, accepted some but not all as well as not being true to the testimony of Christ. Those who received this degree of glory are also defined as those people who accepted the Gospel of Christ, but did not live lives honorable of receiving a place in celestial glory. (Doctrine and Covenants 76:71-80, 91, 97) Third, is the telestial kingdom. This degree of glory is reserved for those that continued in their sins and who did not repent. In the Doctrine and Covenants it defines these individuals as those who "received not the gospel of Christ, neither the testimony of Jesus" (DC 76:82). (DC 76: 81-90, 98-106, 109-112) Thus instructed and presented there are two crucial questions to be asked...First, which kingdom of glory is YOUR goal and with that goal what choices must you make in this life to achieve this goal? (Hopefully your goal is the same as mine, the Celestial Kingdom, which means that I (and you) must follow the 5 essential steps I have outlined) Second, how can YOU know, for yourselves personally, that what I have explained and presented is true? That this truly is the plan God presented and has given? It is quite simple, ASK HIM. The Savior has commanded us to pray always (Doctrine and Covenants 10:5), and who better to ask than the all-knowing, all-powerful, and your eternally-loving Heavenly Father. I promise if you will humbly approach your Heavenly Father in prayer, with a sincere heart and real intent (truly wanting to know and follow whatever answer you receive), you will receive a witness (personally and specifically for you) through the promptings and feelings of the Holy Ghost (because that is one of his duties, to testify of truth). I am so grateful for the knowledge I have received personally that I have a loving, living Heavenly Father, who created a marvelous plan, a plan of happiness and salvation, that allows for me to come to earth, receive a body, and gain experience. I know that only through the example, teachings, and atonement of Christ can I, and you, be forgiven of our sins and shortcomings and return to live with God and our families. I know these this are true! And I know that you can come to know these things are true for yourself, if you will ask. I know He will answer and give you the knowledge and understanding you desire. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

May 13, 2015

Happy Mother's Day!

Getting ready for the Dia de Madre fiesta!
You are all beautiful! Just so you know ;) haha :)

So the highlights this week:

Highlights for 5/11/15:

Highlight #1: OBVIOUSLY....the call home. Well, half way done with all my calls home for the mission. How crazy is that?!?!?! Well, 230 days till Christmas, and Christmas is basically half way between now and when I get home...just a little baggy statement :) :) Haha :)
Skyping with my family...our newest and greatest family photo!

What I saw in Guatemala!  Loved it!

Highlight #2: Baptism. So, this week I was able to attend the baptism of one of my investigators. One of those moments of my mission I will NEVER be able to forget! Sorry I didn't tell you guys about it bad..haha :) But it was sooooooo amazing!! :) His next goal is to receive the priesthood and ultimately to serve a mission!!! How cool is that?!?!?!?! I am hoping to stay in contact with him to know where he goes in his life! Haha :)

Well, really those are the highlights other than the stuff I talked to you all about yesterday!! :) Haha :) Oh, the family's house where we were calling asked if the boys were twins....thought you'd find that funny :) :)

Well, here comes another change and another comp. Pray for me! :) I'm excited for the new and fun experiences that are coming this next change!!!! :) I love you all and hope all is well and you are all safe and happy :) :) Keep on smiling and the next thing you know the kids will be half way done with their next year of school and I'll be on the iPad again ;) haha :) Till next week!

With love and hope for a great coming week here and for all of you,
Elder Flake
My parting gift to my comp who is heading home this week.  Adios!



Grateful for members who feed us!

Missionaries in my zone!

May 04, 2015

May the Fourth be with you! Ha!

A "little" hairy friend we discovered (along with about a dozen smaller ones) as we were doing service!
Everyone scattered except the missionaries...we wanted photos first! haha!
Guess what? I get to see you all this week!! :) I hope you are as excited as I am!!!! :) :) Well, to get to a couple highlights from this week...

Highlights for 4/5/15:

Highlight #1: Devotional. Well, a sister in our ward invited us to visit and watch the CES Devotional yesterday....and who would you guess were the participating choir. YEP, Utah State Univestity Insitute Choir!!!!!!! So that was fun, being able to see some friends and Brother Salmon! :) Haha :) Lots of the same people from last year's choir participated again! Now, this is not to diminish the AWESOME devotional by Elder Robbins about the ladder to truly knowing God. :) :)

Highlight #2: Culture. They take Mother's Day SERIOUSLY here! I dont think I've seen so many fiestas announced for an occasion since being in Xela! I've seen flyers for probably 3 or 4 concerts, 3 or 4 events, and then the elders quorum is doing a ward activity and cooking for the women of the ward! It's a PARTY!!! :) :)

Highlight #3: Food 1: Guatemalan. So this week me and my comp helped prepare a traditional Guatemalan fiesta food called paches. Look it up on Google and begin salivating. They are AWESOME!!! :) (or maybe it's just because it's not rice and beans and tortillas ;) haha, jk) So this family that we were helping has been preparing and selling their paches for generations (i.e. the mom of the mother of the mother of the mother of the sister in my ward...haha. I jokingly asked the husband if it possibly was a recipe that was in the Book of Lehi that Sariah made her husband and was included in his records...haha :)) I didn't get any pictures, but to give you a picture in your mind imagine a room with 3 huge (and I mean HUGE, like I could bathe in huge) pots. One full of cooked potatoes, one full of cooked rice and the other for the paches to be cooked in. Then take and mash the potatoes and rice and these consitute the "base" for the pache. The pache also includes a chile, a piece of carne, and a veces uvas :) They are super good! And usually only made for special holidays (ie Dia de Madre).

Highlight #4: Dia de Madre. So unlike the States, Mother's Day is a specific date in May not the second Sunday regardless of date. In Guatemala la Dia de Madre is always the 10th of May...and do you know what?...that happens to fall on the second Sunday of May this year!! How cool is that?!?! I get to celebrate Mother's Day the same day as all of you guys!! :) But next year it is going to fall on a Tuesday (I think, because of leap year)...

Highlight #5: Food 2: My Food. So this week I made some BOMB lasagna for an investigator because she didn't believe me when she asked if I knew how to cook and I answered "Yes!". So she wanted me to prove I could cook, so first we made the brownies of a couple weeks ago (and they turned out mas or menos because of some things that went wrong with some of the equipment (i.e. oven)) to redeem myself she invited us to make lunch with her today and make lasagna. Well, needless to say, she now has acknowledged I can cook! :) Mission accomplished!

Well, there you guys go! Some (SOME) of the fun highlights of this week! :) One more week till changes...and another comp...and the start of another new experience! :) Wish me luck sending off another comp ;) Haha :) Love you lots! :) Keep up the great work at home!! :) See ya'll soon!

With love and prayers and ganas to talk to my family,
Elder Flake
Typical store

Do you like my mask?