July 27, 2015


Well, I just want to start by explaining this email will definately NOT cover all the highlights of this week...or go in depth of even the highlights of the highlights for this week. But, ENJOY! :) (Also these highlights are not in any particular order of importance)

Highlights for 27/7/15:

Highlight #1: Food. Well, I hit my year mark since leaving home so we had to celebrate, OBVIOUSLY! So what did we do?? We made hamburgers!! :) Yep, a good, juicy, 1/4 lb of delicious meat! :) It was a great celebration! :) And now I've passed my first year...AHHH!
Hamburgers to celebrate my HALFWAY mark!!!

Highlight #2: My Year. So I hit my year mark this week...it was really a very mixed bag of emotions to realize that...to realize that I have already spent half (actually more than half) of my mission experience. BUT, then instead of being sad I thought about all the great experiences that are still on their way this coming year. And also thinking about all the WONDERFUL experiences and opportunities I have had and experienced this past year!!!

Highlight #3: Washing. Soo, we had everything ready and set for our baptisms this week...we had their clothes ready and just waiting...but then! We were gone one day and our home owner needed to paint the molding in our apt, so what did he do...he just used his keys and went in...well, turns out (somehow) he spattered oil based paints on some of the baptismal clothes. So now what do we do?  The baptism was a couple days away and the clothes were NOT completely white...so we tried about everything to get the stains out, but to no avail (ultimately we had to have our Zone Leaders bring us some other clothes). But one of the methods we tried was to use TONS of soap and hot water. Well the only way we have to heat water is to boil it on our electric double burner...that is until we got creative and used our shower heater to heat water to clean the clothes...Just imagine an elder in a midget-sized bathroom passing bucket-loads of hot water from the shower to his companion outside to pour in the basin we were using to wash the clothes...HAHA :)

Preface: We had 3 baptisms and confirmations this past weekend, the following 2 highlights will be about these experiences.

Highlight #4: Baptisms: Part 1. So on Saturday morning we had the first baptism in 9 months in this ward. A young woman whose entire family are members was finally baptized and the baptism registered. It was a great experience! My companion was privilaged to baptize her (marking his first baptism that he has performed). So she is now a member with the rest of her family and can partake in the bounteous blessings of this gospel! :)
Sweet family!
Highlight #5: Baptisms: Part 2. Then Saturday afternoon we had a MARRIAGE and baptisms of 2 of my favorite and very special investigators. They are now an official couple (I can now describe them as husband and wife...finally ;)) and baptized members. It was a very special experience for both myself and my companion, and obviously for the new couple :) This is the first time the wife has been married and she is SOOOO happy! :) :) Other than my family, they are some of the most special people to me in this world! But they are not just sitting in the present, they have already started asking about when they can go to the temple to enter into a marriage that spans the eternities!
LOVE these 2 amazing people!  Congrats on their wedding and baptism!!!

Highlight #6: Story. We had organized to pick up and bring our friends to their wedding and baptism. So at the appointed hour we head to their house (a little early just to make sure they were ready on time). When we got there she was basically jumping for joy and so happy....and her soon-to-be-husband? He was completely ready, laying on his bed staring at his watch waiting for the appointed hour to come...haha!! :) As soon as we entered he more or less jumped out of bed and walked out the door! This is just one of MANY stories and experiences with them! :) :)

Well, there you go...a little...VERY LITTLE, taste of my week this week. I am loving life, loving the mission, and loving the changes that are happening in me. This is truly the work of God! We are all His children and all chose to follow him in the Pre-Earth Life. We elected His plan, which included coming to a world to obtain bodies, passing through a veil of forgetfulness to allow us to be tried and tested and permit us to show by our actions if we would follow our Heavenly Father, keep His commandments, and follow the direction He has given. I love this gospel with all my heart, I know that what I am teaching every day isn't just right, but can and will change our lives (including my own) for the better. Thank you all for the support and encouragement and the many prayers. Keep on smiling! Keep up the positivity! And help somebody in need TODAY! :)

With love and prayers,
Elder Flake
Birthday celebration for a child in our congregation :)
Look what I found in my apt!
(The cover is a family from my grandparents' ward)

July 20, 2015

Fog and Patterns of Light

Highlight #1: Food. I'm just going to start with my food highlight so I don't forget...So today we had our district activity (I'll comment on that in a second) and for lunch there is a less active member who has a food truck (think like taco stand, or ice cream truck but with tables in side). So we chilled and ate lunch there :) And can I just say the atmosphere was rockin' and the food was pretty awesome! :)
Yes, we are inside a Guate Food Truck!
Highlight #2: District Activity. So we had our once a change district activity today! It was pretty fun! :) We got together and played volleyball (more info to follow) and basketball...then we went to the above mentioned truck for lunch!! So about volleyball, there are two "types" of missionaries, gringos and latinos...that explained...we were playing volleyball with one companion from each companionship on each team and it was going alright. Then one of the sisters had the idea to play gringos vs latinos. Well, there were 2 gringos and 4 latinos (our comps and the companionship of sisters). Needless to say, well, ya know, the (oh, I don't know if I should say who won) won! Suffice it to say the latinos want a rematch ;)
Bus ride with the Sisters to the District Activity :)
Highlight #3: Fog. We were out teaching and talking to people when we looked out and saw a mist coming our way...about 3 minutes later we were completely engulfed in fog, not rain, just fog :) It was pretty cool to look out and know there was a valley below but not be able to see it. (Made me think of "Patterns of Light" by Elder Bednar. You can watch it here). So we couldn't pass up the opportunity to take some pictures ;) :)
There is a valley down there, I promise...

Highlight #4: The Work. Oh, and we did work this week ;) We have been working with a couple for their marriage and baptism this weekend. We have been waiting for Sunday (yesterday) to see how truly committed soon-to-be husband is to what he is learning and if he is ready to change some of his Sunday habits (namely to sell in the market on Sundays). So we went to their house to bring them to church with us yesterday and they weren't home (Sundays past he has sent his soon-to-be wife by herself to church and then he goes to sell), so we went to his spot in the market to talk to him, but he wasn't there either. Guess where they were? Yep, they were the first ones to have gotten to the church building for Sunday services and were waiting for us to invite them into the chapel. So we invited them in and he did the cutest thing (sorry, mushy? maybe), he chose a row and then stood aside for her to sit down, she then patted the seat next to her for him to sit on...just to say, I LOVE THEM SO MUCH! :)

Well, the district meeting put us a little behind for writing...sorry. I tried to give you guys a quick view of my week this week and tried to be as descriptive as I could. Hope you guys could feel, at least for a second, as if you were here :) :) I love you all! And pray for your safety and direction and success every night in my prayers.

With love and well wishes,
Elder Flake

P.S. A year ago today was my farewell talk...ahhhh! And I was remembering the cute little boy from my ward who brought over a loaf of bread he made--to start learning how to cook to begin preparing for his mission. And then the AMAZING bean brownies from a sister in our ward were pretty good (if you haven't tried them you cant knock 'em and definetly need to ask her for the recipe!) :) Just for a minute thought about my ward family back home in MN and all their support and encouragement to me! :) Thank you all!

July 13, 2015

The summit...

First pic as a 20-year-old...the morning of my birthday!
What a week we've had this week! Many blessings and miracles of the Lord coming to pass this week. But I will get to those in a minute :)

To answer a couple of your questions:
You asked about how the people here read the scriptures/learn the gospel if their language is not written. I asked the same question...but apparently the pastors here read the Bible in Spanish and then translate it over the pulpit...crazy huh!?!

K'iche' is one of the few indigenous languages all Liahonas and Conferences are translated into...COOL HUH!! :) But the problem is that K'iche' isn't a written language so most K'iche' speakers cant read...k'iche' or Spanish....or English ;) All church manuals are in Spanish, and the teachers translate into K'iche' :)

You also asked how my feet are doing with all the walking in this area.  To be honest, I have 2 half blisters, one on each heal...haha :)

Yes, we have to go outside to get to our bathroom. So, funny story about that...I was on my way to the shower this week (thus I was in my towel, shirtless, and wearing basketball shorts) when there was a squeal behind me (remember this is like 6:30 in the morning, in the rain). I turned around to find one of our investigators standing there...she thought it was so funny she caught me in just my towel and shorts. She was out for her morning walk with her soon-to-be husband and happened across me. Well, they don't speak Spanish and I don't speak K'iche' but from the hand signs they made they were super excited for their marriage the following day (but it's really on the 25th). They had thought our next appointment was to marry them...we had to end up calling a member to explain to them that it was just a visit, but that the 25th they can be married! :) THEY ARE SOOO CUTE!! I just thought it was funny that they happened to happen upon me in the rain on my way to the shower...haha :)

Fun Fact: I found out that the men's skirts are pure wool and cost about 800 quetz (the typical earnings in a day are about 100-150 quetz with alright work...)

On to the highlights for my week!
Highlights for 13/7/15 (first email as a twenty year old...ah):

Highlight #1: My Cumpleanos! Yep that's right, this guy had a birthday...Do you know what that meant for me yesterday? Work like normal :) But I LOVE IT so it was alright :) What made it even better was that one of our new investigators came to church! But I will get to that in a second :) The other things that happened is a couple of my friends from my previous ward called me and wished me a happy birthday which was pretty sweet! :) And then last night we were planning for today when the phone rang, "PTE.SMITH" (President Smith). He was calling to wish me a happy birthday. I felt very loved :)
Balloons and a treat for my birthday...


Highlight #2: Marriage. "Mawige, Mawige is what bwings us togetor today"-From I don't remember what movie..haha :) But seriously! We are going to have a wedding not this Sat but the following...but the even COOLER part is that at the same meeting we are going to be baptizing! :) So to give the back story....We have been teaching an elderly woman the last 3 weeks (other missionaries have been teachering her before that) and this woman's husband (soon to be) never wanted to listen to the lessons. They are not married, but the hna wants to get baptized and the boyfriend/husband did not want to get married because he said he was already married (to somebody else) and it was thus a sin to get married again. We worked with him and invited returned missionaries in the ward as well and finally found out that his previous "marriage" was in an evangelical church and was never civilized, thus leaving him single and able to be married. So with that hurdle passed we found out from him that he then wanted to hear the lessons and be baptized with his (soon to be) wife! What a miracle! So we have been making lots of preparations and getting all the paperwork finalized so that we can have the wedding/baptisms on the 25th. Please pray for them to continue to progress, learning more, and can be married and baptized next week :) (side comment: They are a super cute couple...he is 85 and she is 70 and this is her first time being married and she is SO excited!)

Highlight #3: Negocios. So one of the requirements to be baptized is one must attend a certain number of Sunday meetings. So in order for the husband-to-be of our investigator to be baptized with her he needed to attend church yesterday and next week and show the desire to continue to attend for the rest of his life. BUT, there is a problem...their only source of income is to sell bananas in the markets on Thu and SUNDAYS. So he had told us he would attend the later ward after he had sold his products. Well, the later ward was about to start and he had not shown up...so we went looking for him. Well, we found him at his spot in the market still selling. We asked if he was going to make it to church, and he said he would come as soon as he sold the rest of his bananas...so what do we do? If he doesn't attend he cant be baptized with his wife-to-be...so with the member who was tranlating we were able to convince him to take his remaining bananas home (2 cenas or 2 dozen). Something I realized last night was that he was willing to compromise his spiritual progression and making a better relationship with God (but he didn't understand that compromise) for 10 quetz worth of product. But, ultimately he decided to make the compromise and made it to church with us and told us next week he will be in our ward and not sell. HOW COOL IS THAT!!! :)

I am soo greatful for this gospel and being able to participate in seeing how it changes lives, every day! The Lord truly is working right along side us in this His work! I love being able to see Him at work among his brothers and sisters, each and every one of us, every day! Keep up all the great work at home and in whatever place you may be in! :)

With love and many prayers,
Elder Flake

P.S. Tomorrow at midnight is when I have completed exactly HALF of my mission...almost to the summit...AHHHHH
In the internet cafe writing to you all!

July 06, 2015

Another new area!

Happy Me riding in the Tuk Tuk!!!

Highlight#1: Interviews. So this week was interviews for the zone (every 6-week change we either have a multi-zone conference or interviews with President Smith). It was fantastic! :) So there are 2 districts in my zone so while one district was have their interviews the other district was having their district meeting with the assistants to the president. Our reunion was AWESOME! I learned a lot and got re-energized for the work. Then we had lunch...food is important. Then my district had our interviews :) My interview was amazing! Like I have commented every time I've had interviews, President Smith is so in-tune with the Spirit. Our conversation was very enjoyable for me. I received some great counsel, encouragement, and learned a little bit more about some of the experiences President Smith has had in his life. I love my mission president and am LOVING my mission.

Highlight #2: Food. So here in Guate pollo (chicken) is a BIG DEAL! Chicken is the main staple meat in almost everything! Fried chicken, roasted chicken, boiled chicken, shredded chicken, etc. But what is an ever BIGGER DEAL are tortillas. I think that they would go to the extreme of possibly eating tortillas with their tortillas. I have lost count on my tortilla consumption but I have way surpassed my 1,000th tortilla, maybe even my 1,500th tortilla. A fun fact: The members here measure if they gave you enough food by the number of tortillas you eat with your meal (something I learned in my second area). The scale goes more or less like this: 0-5 normal meal, plenty of food; 5-8 not quite enough other food; 8-? "you didn't give me anything to eat..." Thankfully I have been in the no more than 5 range...usually :) :)

Highlight #3: Area. Alright the highlight you have all been waiting for...yes, I have a new area...BUT I didn't move. You are probably now thinking, how does that work? Well it's simple, the elders for an adjoining area had emergency changes from their area. Rather than just leave the ward without elders, my companion and I have been assigned that area. So my area now consists of just over 20 km end to end, minus a couple km in the middle for the area of the sisters :) It has made for a lot of walking this week!! And I mean A LOT of walking. In the last 3 days we have walked just under 25 miles...haha :) But I am LOVING it! One advantage to the other ward is they have a ward mission leader who can help us :) :) So that's the craziest, uniquest change that happened this week :) :)

I love you all and hope life is going well! Keep on smiling every day and recognize the blessings of the Lord in your lives. I promise that the blessings are there. Remember to stay positive, even when things are tough, and to always, ALWAYS take a moment every day to laugh and relax! :)

With love and prayers from the mountain tops of Guatemala,
Elder Flake

PS An aldea in my "new area" has the nickname of Alaska due to how cold it constantly is there...just a fun fact :)
Celebrating my birthday, July 4th, and life!
(Mom says: I hope they didn't eat that all in one sitting!!!)