June 29, 2015

New Area: Men in rodilleras and Quiche

Highlights for 29/6/15:

Highlight #1: Changes. I am LOVING my new area! I'm out of the city and back to an aldea. I didn't realize how much I missed being in an aldea! And it also helps A LOT that I have a fantastic companion! He completes 6 months this Sat, and he is from Guatemala City :) :) I'm pumped for this change :) :)
Missionary "changes" to new areas...

Gonna miss this awesome companion!

Great new companion!!!

Highlight #2: So a little bit about my new city :) The first language is an indiginous language called Quiche. Really the only people who speak Spanish are the youth, some adults know a little bit...so do you know what that means???? I get to learn Quiche!!! haha :) Also, this city is known for their men in kilts, but they're not called kilts they are called rodilleras, but to me they're kilts ;) haha :) But I am LOVING being here...already felt my first terremoto night before last :) So that added some fun adventure to the night :) Nothing big (nothing was damaged and some people didn't even recognize it, but that could have been because it was at like 3 in the morning), but big enough that it woke me up :) Haha :)  Also, it has been a HUGE change in the weather! Think Bear Lake Beach heat and sun and NO RAIN! And that is my new area :) But the members here assure me it's rainy season ;)
My new area...

Highlight #3: Church. So, since the first language here is Quiche the means that all official meetings are in Quiche, which means that church is held....in Quiche. So it made for an interesting experience yesterday, I really learned what it means to be taught through the spirit because I didn't understand a thing that was said (minus the few Spanish words that were thrown in every once and a while because there isn't a Quiche word so they use the Spanish word), but I still learned from each of the speakers, through the spirit! :) It was a super cool experience! :)

Highlight #4: Translation. Had my first translator-taught lesson. Now you may be asking what that even means...haha :) What that means is that we had a lesson with a family who knows no, none, zero, Spanish and we, the missionaries, basically know the same amount of Quiche, so we were able to take a member with us who knows both Spanish and Quiche to go and teach this family. It was very....different....to say the least, but I know with time (and as I learn more Quiche) it will get more normal. The cool thing, the family invited us to come back :) :) So now we just have to find somebody who will go with us again... ;) haha :)

So there you guys go...a little look into my new surroundings and experiences :) :) I am LOVING being here in this area and all the wonderful opportunities and experiences I know that will come in the future!! :) I know that this is the work of the Lord and that he has a plan and purpose for me being here right now. I know that He directed President Smith, through revelation, to have me change areas and companions. I am so greatful for all the experiences and miracles I see every day! Keep up the great work and positivity! The Lord loves each and every one of you personally and individually.

With love and prayers,
Elder Flake

I love my new area!!!

June 22, 2015

Drum roll please...

My District and a few missionaries from the zone too!
Well, lifes goin´...umm...yeah....it's going :) But to get to the reason you checked the internet today...the highlights :)

Highlights for 22/6/15:

Highlight #1: Miracle 1. So you know that video and pictures I sent of the rain a couple weeks ago? Well, it got harder this week...yeah, A LOT harder rain! So we were out in the street (THIS IS FOR REAL, NOT A JOKE) talking to people and visiting, when out of literally NOWHERE it began to down pour....HARD! Well, I had the cell phone in my pocket and in the course of getting to the chapel me and my comp got SOAKED to the bone...there wasn't a dry part of us (except maybe my toes, WAY DOWN DEEP in my shoes). That is when somebody tried to call us and we found that the phone worked but the audio speaker wasn't working. Not good. So we had to stick to texting for the rest of the evening and then put the phone in rice and prayed really hard. The next morning, low and behold, the phone worked like nothing had happened. Definitely a miracle in my eyes. :)

Highlight #2: Cambios. Well another 6 weeks have passed and tomorrow is changes. So last night we got the phone call telling us who in the zone had changes. Any guesses?? Maybe? YEP! My days in this area are over...I've got to pack my bags and early tomorrow I'm on my way to my brand new area :) I've definitely got a very mixed bag of feelings right now...I love the members in this area, but it is very small...I've been here for a while, but (other than my training) I have had a new companion for EVERY change in my mission :) So all in all I'm feeling pretty neutral as everything cancels out everything else...(so this is why I'm in a bit of a time crunch, because I still need to finish packing and saying bye to members. So, SORRY, but hopefully next week will be better :))
Early birthday celebration because I'm leaving this area before my birthday.
I have wonderful friends here, especially my newest Guate grandma! :)

Could be last McDonalds for a while depending on where I'm being assigned next!!!
Highlight #3: MIRACLE OF THIS WEEK'S MIRACLES-BAPTISM!!!! So one of our most pilus investigators was baptized on Sat. And through a personal mini miracle I was able to perform that baptism. But the story starts a couple weeks ago....So about a month ago after Sacrament Meeting a gentalman walked up to me and asked me when we could get together for him to receive the lessons (WOW, A MISSIONARY'S DREAM COME TRUE). So we set up an appointment with him...when the appointment came he didn't show...but to make a long story short we were able in the end to still meet with him that week. To start the appointment we asked if he had any questions for us, and he replied no, only what do I need to do to be baptized (ANOTHER MISSIONARY'S DREAM COME TRUE). So we taught him and placed a baptismal date for this last Sat. Then the worst nightmare of any missionary happened, for about 2.5 weeks we could not get in contact with him, and he didn't come to any ward activities...we thought we were going to have to postpone the baptism so that we could get in contact with him and teach him the lessons. Well, the Lord had other plans :) Thankfully! Last Sunday he came to church and told us he still wanted to be baptized on Sat and was willing to do what it took to make it happen. So through a very special set of miracles we were able to be in contact with him every day this last week, Su-Church, M-Lesson 1, Tu-Lesson 2, W-Elders Quorom Activity, Th-Phone Call to fijar the cita for his interview, F-Lesson 3 and Baptismal Interview, Sa-Dressed in White-Baptism, Su-Church-Confirmation-Ordination (received the Aaronic Priesthood and will be passing the sacrament next week). It was one of my mission miracles. And to make it even greater, in one year he and his family will be able to go to the temple and be sealed for time and for all eternity and I WILL STILL BE IN THE MISSION and yesterday he told me he would like me to be there!!!! So now to stay in contact with him, continue to encourage him, and in a year's time see him and his family in the temple! :)

Well, I've got to get (QUICKLY) to the other emails. But know that I love you all and pray for your safety and success every night! :) Keep those smiles on your faces! Keep sharing the gospel through word, work and example! Keep having a BOMB summer! ;)

With love, thoughts, prayers, and a lot of mixed feelings about this change,
Elder Flake

PS Guess what? I complete 11 months TODAY since leaving home and 11 months TOMORROW of being in the mission.... :) Times flies :)

PPS But for real...this next change I complete a YEAR in the mission and I will be with my 8th companion in my 3rd area...haha :)
P-DAY:  Winning District from the Zone competitions!!  Wahoo! ;)
Fun missionaries, fun p-day...

June 15, 2015

Seeing more of Guate

Querido Familia y Amigos,

Solo quiero decir hola y ¿que honda? :) OH, sorry...I didnt realize I was writing in Spanish. My bad....haha ;) :) But for real, just wanted to say hi and ¿what's happenin? Not really, I do have highlights to share....so here we go :) :)

Highlights for 15/6/15:

Highlight #1: Divisions. So this week we had divisions with our District Leader. But this time was different from the other two because I didn't stay in my area :) I went to Salcaja with my District Leader's companion :) What a blast it was!!! Their area is A LOT bigger than my area, but I guess that's not too hard to do...haha :) It was soo much fun to be somewhere different and get to meet even more of the amazing members here in Guate! :)  OH!!! Fun experience from the division...I saw a bus from San Bar on its way to Xela and the attendant and bus driver recognized me and honked at me as they passed :) I know they weren't just honking because the attendant waved at me with a big smile as they went by :) Cool huh? :)
Beautiful Saljaca...

Highlight #2: License Plates. Yes, that says license plates! :) So one day we contacted a father and son. Their front door was open and out of the corner of my eye I saw what looked to be license plates on their wall. HOW WEIRD!?! And they actually turned out to be license plates!! How crazy is that?!? Coming across license plates from the states?!? So I had to take some pictures....enjoy :)

Highlight #3: Food. So for the weekly food highlight I have a shout-out to my Dad!!! He loves his barbecue sauce, but not just ANY barbecue sauce, only the best, Sweet Baby Ray's. Well, while on the division I happened to glance into one of the cupboards and guess what I saw for the first time EVER in Guate....YEP, a FULL bottle of Sweet Baby Ray's sauce. You betcha I pulled my camera out pretty quick (and with permission) took a picture of sauce. Love ya Dad! :) :)

Well, there's a little taste of my week :) Other things that happened were: a lot of the same from every week; we began teaching the family of a recent convert (from May); one of our most pilus investigators came to church yesterday with his family-in-law and wants to be baptized this Sat!! So we are doing pretty well here in the meadow...dare I say it, flowers are blooming here in the meadow ;) Okay, sorry, cheesy...haha :) I love this work! Yeah, it's trying at times, but also very rewarding :) I love my Savior Jesus Christ and am so grateful for this opportunity to represent Him here, now. I know that this is the work of Him and that He directs us every day. I know that this church is truly the church of Jesus Christ, that He personally established through modern prophets and apostles. And I KNOW that we still have prophets and apostles today, who, under the direction of Christ himself, guide and direct us, warn and protect us today. Like it says from this week's lesson from Teachings of the Prophets: Ezra Taft Benson: "The most important prophet, so far as we are concerned, is the one who is living in our day and age. This is the prophet who has today’s instructions from God to us. God’s revelation to Adam did not instruct Noah how to build the ark. Every generation has need of the ancient scripture, plus the current scripture from the living prophet. Therefore, the most crucial reading and pondering that you should do is of the latest inspired words from the Lord’s mouthpiece. That is why it is essential that you have access to and carefully read his words."

I love you all and hope life is treating you all well!! :) Keep on serving and smiling every day!

With love and prayers, from a less rainy week in Guate,
Elder Flake

June 08, 2015

Guate Direct to You

Sup Yall?!? :) So another week has come and gone...and man has the weather changed here....but I'll get to that in a minute :) :) Okay, I'll get to that right now...to the highlights! :)

Highlights for 8/6/15:

Highlight #1: Weather. Well...the rain has begun. And not only begun, but it all came at once! I've been hearing about "the hard rains" that come during the rainy season...but man did I underestimate when they said that one day it all comes at once. They meant it! One day right after lunch it started to sprinkle, then get a little harder, then harder, and then HARDER. It was raining so hard we could only see about a block and half away...HAHA. HOW CRAZY IS THAT?!?!?! Welcome to the rainy season Elder Flake! ;) Haha :)
Highlight #2: Xela. So since I've been here in the big city I have run into a member (that I didn't know) almost every day. I commented this to a member here in the ward. They chuckled and then informed me that the call center he works in is made up of about 80% members of the church...how crazy is that?!?! Then he said that a lot more are now members (compared to when he was a kid, and a convert). We have 4 zones (Stakes) just in Xela and a temple...I guess that would mean there are quite a few members. But that is not to say we don't have work to do :) There is still plenty to go :) :) Love the work here!

Highlight #3: Multi-Zone Conference. So this week we had our Multi-Zone Conference with President and his wife :) WOW! That's all I can say. It was definately a spiritual feast! We learned about the importance of teaching by the spirit (because if we don't teach by the spirit we aren't actually teaching...just talking). I wanted to share an interesting thought I had from a comment President Smith made. He was telling us about something the tour guide told him and his wife when they visited Jerusalem. The tour guide said something like "If you want to find Jesus here, you must bring Him with you." President then explained how truly if they wanted to find Christ in Jerusalem they had to bring Him with them in their hearts. The thought I had was truly that if I want the people I interact with every day to feel the God's love and the spirit's direction for them, I have to bring those things to the lessons with me. This brought a whole new view to the studies in the morning. The studies in the morning are my chance to prepare, invite, and learn to teach by the spirit. It has made an amazing change these last couple days that I've changed my studies, it really has made a difference :)

I know that what I am doing isn't anything BIG, but it is making a difference through the little things that me and my comp, along with the spirit, do every day. I know that this is the work of Christ. He truly is the one inviting each of us to come to Him, learn of Him, and become like Him. I am so greatful for the opportunity I have every day to bring the wonderful message of God's love, direction, and plan to those around me. Yeah, sometimes (many times) it's hard because they don't know what they are turning down or rejecting. But those that do allow us to bring the Lord's spirit into their homes and explain God's plan for them never regret it! When you see two guys (sometimes it's 3) in white shirts, ties, slacks, and black plaques; or two (or 3) sisters with plaques; talk to them, get to know them, allow them to visit your families. I promise you that you will not regret it! Also they will be surprised for a change to have somebody talking to them and inviting them instead of the other way around ;) haha :) Being a missionary is awesome!! :) Not going to say it's easy, but it is truly rewarding :)

With love and prayers,
Elder Flake
Lunch in the apartment with my companion :)

June 01, 2015

The happenins en el Campo

Highlights for 1/6/15:

Highlight #1: So, fun update on the young man that was baptized at the beginning of May: Last Sunday I was able to participate in his ordination when he received the Aaronic Priesthood and was ordained to the office of a Deacon!! HOW COOL IS THAT?!?!?!?! :) It was one of those moments you realize "this is why I'm on a mission." It was so special for me, and I know for him as well! BUT IT GET'S BETTER! :) (Can you believe that?? ;)) Then this Sunday he was the first Deacon at church, seated and waiting for church to start. Then he passed the sacrament! Just to think that a month ago (about) he wasn't attending any church, and then to think that now he has placed his feet firmly on the path back to his Heavenly Father. It was a very special set of experiences :) :)

Highlight #2: Baptism. Another very cool experience this week...a less-active member brought her husband (who is not a member) to church last week. So we talked to them after church and set up an appointment for this last week. The husband expressed he wanted to learn more about the church, so we were pretty excited. But then every appointment we had with him fell...until...we got a call on Friday night from our Relief Society President...(I'M GOING TO PAUSE HERE TO EXPLAIN)...So the RS did a Baby Shower on Fri for, as it turned out, this less-active member...(OKAY BACK TO EXPLAINING)...So th husband was at the baby shower, but got uncomfortable with being the only guy...haha...so he had the Relief Society President call us to see if we were free to come talk to him. (MIRACLE 1) So we found the time and went and talked to him!! :) We started like we normally do, by asking if he had any questions or doubts to start out. This is when he surprised us BIG TIME, he replied, No not really, just what do I have to do to be baptized, I want to be baptized. Umm, hmmm, what, WHAT? Me and my comp looked at each other to comfirm the other had heard the same thing. Then into the explanation we went :) It was awesome, very unexpected (I don't know why because we are on the Lord's errand and He can do anything...nothing should be "unexpected") and we are all VERY happy :) :)

Highlight #3: Food. Yep, the highlight you all wait for every week ;) haha :) But for real! :) So this week's highlight isn't something new I tried, just something I haven't commented on before :) It is called a Torta Mexicana...think a meat lovers pizza stuffed into a toasted hogi roll! Now I thought that might not sound all that appealing, but it is! :) So, I learned how to make them, somewhat/one style, so that I can make them when I get home :) :) You don't know what is coming, or what you've been missing in your life ;) haha :)
Another experience from this week, me and my comp for companionship study did what is called a role playing activity. We role played teaching about the events of the Restoration. Now, it seemed like any other practice (ie a little weird, etc) but it turned out to be something I really needed. Now to start, I have a testimony that Joseph Smith had the vision he claimed he had, he truly saw Jesus Christ standing on the right hand of our Heavenly Father and was truly called by Christ to be His chosen servant (prophet) in helping Him restore the chruch He organized when He lived here on earth. Now with this testimony I went into teaching my companion...and it went off without a hitch :) Then he began teaching, when he got to the part of the lesson where he explained the First Vision the spirit was SOOOO strong and I had truly been prepared and my heart ready to listen to the spirit's promptings and direction. In this moment everything else, worries, concerns, other thoughts, etc, fell away and the spirit entered in. In this moment I received, once again, the testimony of the Holy Ghost, testifying to my soul, that what my comp was explaning and teaching was true. I knew and now KNOW that Joseph Smith was Christ's chosen servant to be the first prophet of this dispensation. I know it so deep and sure that all I want now is for all those I talk with to feel the same witness of the Spirit of what we are teaching and to find the happiness and solice that can only come in the Church of Jesus Christ (or in other words the church Christ organized). You can receive this witness for yourselves, but you must prepare your heart to let the promptings and testimony of the Spirit in. I know you can and will receive this testimony and know for a surety that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and that this church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, was organized under the direction of Heaven and is the same church Christ organized when He lived here on earth. I bear this testimony and make these promises as a representative set apart and authorized to testify of Christ.

I love you all and pray that you are all well, healthy, and happy :)

With love and prayers,
Elder Flake
The men of the congregation celebrating the return of one of their missionaries!