October 26, 2015

It's That Time Again

On a path we take every day. Here is a chilacayote. It is a squash, not a melon. Mmmm...
Time flies like an arrow...who made up that statement? Because what happens when the velocity of the arrow begins to slow? Time will slow? ;) Alright, enough rambling...TO THE HIGHLIGHTS! :)

Highlights for 26/10/15:

Highlight #1: Food. Well, my food highlight for the week ain't much of a highlight...but have to include my highlight about food to continue the tradition, or no? Well, this week I ate A LOT of chicken, beans, rice, and TORTILLAS. Oh, fun story...so last Sunday (not yesterday, the one before) we were leaving a cita when a VERY drunk member started talking to us. So we talked to him, trying to get him to go home....Well to make a long story short, he did finally let us take him back to his house...well, while there he started talking about the States (like EVERY bolo (bolo=drunk person in Guate)) and telling us about how he knows how to cook really good chicken dishes. So we talked about that for a little bit (5 min) and then started for the door...and THIS is when he invited us to lunch this past week. So SWEET, we have a lunch cita with a bolo...HAHA. So the morning of the "cita" we called his wife to see if the invitation was still valid or not, and/or if her husband had told her that he had invited us to lunch. Long story short, we got lunch and had a great conversation with the wife and her sober husband :) So all ended well :)

Highlight #2: Families. Well, I will be leaving this area A LOT better than I found it :) So I'm glad that I can do that :) We have been working really hard with the members here the last couple weeks and have seen many miracles and blessings from our efforts. This week we were able to visit some AMAZING families and friends of members. NEVER, EVER underestimate the power of the guidance of the Spirit. Almost every single one of the members we visited at first kept telling us that none of their friends, family, or neighbors want visits from the missionaries...but after some explaning and encouragement they consented to accompany us to visit someone, and every single one of the people we visited this week let us in, listened, and accepted a return appointment. NEVER underestimate the power of YOUR testimony and NEVER underestimate the impressions of the spirit. If the spirit indicates you need to talk to someone about the church, or visit one of your friends to give support, or any other impression...FOLLOW IT! You won't regret it! :) It is amazing to see just how much more EFFECTIVE missionary work becomes when members and missionaries work together to move the Lord's work along. He is accelerating His work, are you keeping up or falling behind? We have all been blessed with talents and strengths, but we were not given them to just sit around and waste them, they have been given to us to use in His service, to lift, to encourage, to invite, and to progress.

Highlight #3: Cambios. Well, as the title indicated, IT'S THAT TIME ONCE AGAIN! Yep, CAMBIOS! And drum roll please.....I'VE GOT CHANGES!!! So early tomorrow morning with all my things I'm leaving this area for (who knows where...). Am I sad? A little. Am I excited? Yeah. Am I nervous? A little. But hey! I'm on the Lord's errand and He needs me somewhere else :) :) So to recap: Areas: 3, Companions: 9, Months in the Mission: 15....So here we go for area #4 and companion #10 (unless I am assigned with one of my previous companions...very rare, but possible :) Well, there ya have it! The life of a missionary, one day in one area, the next day to never return...but what a life! :) Think about it, what other time in my life is my housing, work, food, and friends going to be pre-organized for me? I can't think of ANY OTHER time! So I'd better enjoy it while I can, right? ;) :)
Two of my favorite people in the world! Goodbye for now...I will miss them!
(They make me look like a GIANT!! haha)

Well, once again another week of learning and growing has come and gone...and I'm writing yet another email home...I only have a very limited number of these left...AHH! I know that this is the work of the Lord. He directs and protects us in this His work. He is working right along side us each and every day! There is really nothing in this world that could replace the experiences and lessons that are had on a mission for the Lord. I love and pray for you each, I hope you can feel the love and the prayers :) Peace out till next week when I will write yet again from ????! Ain't it exciting?!?! ;) :)

With love and prayers,
Elder Flake
We were invited to eat with a marriage party at the church.
Here we are eating a typical plate of food here in Guate:
chicken, rice, a tomato sauce, and a fruit drink.

October 19, 2015

Testimony: Story of My Life

Wassup?!?!? Well, I gotta write fast (like every week) so I'll get to the highlights...

Highlights for 19/10/15:

Highlight #1: Mile Marker Reached. This week my companion completed 7 months in the mission. So what did we do? We made a cake :) :) It was delicious! I remember when he first got here he had less than 6 months in the mission...wow, times flies! And now we are looking at changes next week!!!!! AHHHH! I will know next p-day where I'll be the next change....maybe here, maybe not....

Highlight #2: Noche de Hogar. We had a great FHE with a member family and one of their friend's family. It was awesome! :) We taught about the restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ...I am soo thankful for the knowledge we have as members of Christ's Latter-Day church. The confusion we avoid and the peace we find in the knowledge we have. But we cant stop there! We have the desires to share this fruit we have found, a fruit that fills our souls with exceedingly great joy (1 Nephi 8:11-18). But as you have read in this verse that doesn't mean that the person we invite will accept, everyone still has their agency, but we can be satisified that we have done our part and that they know where to find answers when they are looking for them. Because everyone at some point in their life will wonder about or search for truth. We are agents of light.

Highlight #3: Testimony. There is power that comes when members and missionaries unite to build the kingdom of God. Missionaries without members can teach lessons and maybe baptize someone, but this individual has the odds against them to remain active...Members without missionaries can teach lessons and baptize and retain recent converts and activate less active members, but it will take A LOT longer because you aren't dedicated and set apart to this work FULL-TIME....so what is the solution? Members AND missionaries together can teach lessons, baptize, active, and retain EVERYBODY! This is what the Lord, His servants, and statistics show and have taught! SO, are you trying to find another path to success in the Lord's Kingdom (because that path doesn't exist) or are you living by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God, ie His servants (D&C 84:44). I have found that only through uniting in this work can it move forward. The Lord is hastening His work, it's a fact! Are you working with Him or against Him, or are you falling blindly behind? I invite all the evaluate your life and apply the instructions from the conference talk by Elder Larry R Lawrence and ask your Heavenly Father in prayer "what lack I yet?" and "how can I become more like thee and what part would thou have me play in your plan today?" I promise that when you apply these steps and in fervent prayer with real intent, He WILL answer, and the answer may not be what you thought it would be or it may be to leave your comfort zone a little, but I promise that He will always invite you to become better. So take these promptings you receive to show His confidence in YOU to become better :) We can all be a little better every day, and one day we will come face to face with our Heavenly Father and find that we have truly come to be like Him. I love you all and He loves you too (which is MORE important) but maybe even MORE importantly He loves your family members, friends and neighbors who are still looking for the truth. We have the call to become and be Saviors on Mount Zion. And this is to say nothing of the millions upon millions of our ancestors who are waiting on the other side of the veil for US to do for them what they cannot do for themselves, the physical ordinances of the temple...but that's a "discourse" for another time ;) haha :)

Highlight #5: IT IS SUPER COLD THIS WEEK, AND RAINY, SO EVEN COLDER!!! I know, if you look at our temperatures you will roll your eyes...but when you're used to sweating every day these temperatures are frigid! I know, I am going to have to acclaimate again to MN (IF I am going to visit during the winter ;)). But the rain is STILL coming...we have gone from "it will end at the end of Sept" to "It will end the 10th of Oct" to "...the end of Oct" to "MAYBE in Nov???" to ???? Haha :) But hey, that's life! :)

I love you all and am so greatful for the amazing things you are all doing through your examples and lives. Keep up the great work! The Lord has promised His presence along side His servants who are living worthy lives. I pray for your success and health and happiness! We live in the most anticipated era in the history of the world, we live in the Dispensation of the FULLNESS of Times! Live it, Love it, Share it! :)

With Love and Prayers,
Elder Flake

October 12, 2015

chickens, seafood, and testimony

Apparently here they paint baby chicks because at first I thought this was a Quetzal chick...and then was informed it is a chicken...but cool pic right :) OH, and I was able to show this family how to hypnotize their chickens...they were a little unsettled by my ability, until the chick jumped up and ran off, to which they laughed :)
Hay tres clases de personas: las que saben contar y las que no. Thought I'd start with a joke, then realized the only ones that came to mind were in Spanish...so oh well ;) :) But to get to the things most important (WOW, sorry, Spanish sentence structure. I am literally translating my Spanish thoughts into English to write them...haha)....the highlights!

Highlights for 12/10/15:

Highlight #1: Interview. This week we had our periodical interviews with Pres Smith. As always, MINE WAS GREAT!!! I always learn sooo much in my interviews and feel the spirit testify of the things that happen there. I have been thinking about many questions I had to ask and had them written to ask Pres Smith if there was time after the "normal" part of the interview. (ie Usually I have entered the interview and he has questions and things to discuss and then if there is time remaining he asks if we have anything else to discuss or ask...) But this time right as I entered he asked how I was doing, to which I replied "well." He then paused for a second and then asked that I explain "well." I then explained and then he asked about my spiritual progression in the mission. (This was one of the questions I had prepared to ask) So I responded that this was one of my questions I had brought if there was time at the end, or if then was a good time to ask. To which he indicated to go ahead and ask. Needless to say, 30 min later and with MANY notes and new insights and instructions received I left the interview feeling empowered to do and be better. I love having interviews with Pres Smith (a major reason for this tranquilidad is because I am obedient, so the interviews are uplifting instead of a time of reproof) :) I am soo grateful to have a mission president who truly understands his calling and responsibilities and has been prepared throughout his life to help me specifically at this time. I know that Pres Smith was called of God to preside and direct this mission under the direction of Christ through revelation.

Highlight #2: Division. This week I had the opportunity to go on a division to San Cristobal. It went really well, I learned a lot. And LOVED being in a different area for a day, just a change a scenery is refreshing every once in a while, right? :) One (of MANY) experiences I had while there really impressed itself in my mind and gave me courage and strength. We were teaching a gentleman about the Restoration: we explained about families, prophets, Christ's ministry, and the great apostasy, and explained how Christ called a modern prophet (Joseph Smith) and restored His church once again on the earth. The gentleman then stopped us and said, "I have one question: In the Bible we read that Christ gave power and authority to his Apostles and the Seventies and anyone else He sent to preach the gospel. Do you both have some type of this authority, or by what authority were you sent to preach?" WOW! Can I just say, the light of Christ truly can illuminate the mind and heart of anyone who will listen! This gentleman has studied, prayed, and received a particle of the light (or truth) of the gospel and this particle sparked a question. But the part that has impressed itself in me is that immediately my companion and I were able to say, without doubt or hesitation, "YES! We have been sent forth with power and authority from God...." and then explained how after Christ called Joseph Smith to be His representative on earth, Christ sent first John the Baptist (Priesthood of Aaron) and later Peter, James, and John (Melchizedek Priesthood) to restore the priesthood and priesthood keys to the earth. This experience truly was a testimony builder for me! :)

Highlight #3: Actividad de Distrito. Today we were able to have our District Activity. (A district is a group of areas and companionships, in my district there are 5 companionships....then a zone is a group of districts, in my zone there are 3 districts...then all the zones together make a mission. Basically from smallest to largest it goes: area (proselyting), district, zone, mission, area (geographical, in the case here we are part of the Central American Area), Church as a whole). We gathered here in Nahuala and played volleyball, futbol, and cooked lasagna. It was a lot of fun and the lasagna was super good :) :) It is always fun to get together with the district or zone and to have a little bit of time to better connect and relax together.
Missionaries in my Zone of the mission

Pizza Hut!!! :)

Highlight #4: Food. Well, for this week's food highlight I will have to go with the above mentioned lasagna :) Nothing really to explain, it was just a normal lasagna...ie cheese, meat, pasta, tomatoe sauce, etc....now I am realizing that if you don't know what lasagna is 1) I feel sorry for what you have been missing out on in your life and 2) I will leave you to googling "lasagna" to find out what it looks like, at least, and maybe print off a recipe to begin enjoying your culinary options more fully in your life ;) :)
Lunch one day....DAD'S Favorite, Fish and Shrimp Soup! :) It was actually pretty good :)

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. Keep on smiling! Keep on spreading this wonderful gospel message, a message really everyone on earth already knows and has accepted, just have forgotten.

With love and prayers,
Elder Flake

**If you have had any questions about any of the things mentioned above, please do not hesitate to ask a local missionary or member to better explain....they would be THRILLED to help you understand these concepts and doctrines of the gospel.**

PS Life's good! Enjoy it! :)

PPS I have less than 9 months left...(no suprise extra siblings before i get home ;) jk haha)

My area at night...

October 05, 2015

Modern Scripture, Modern Prophets

Bryson's Guate b-day cake! Mmmm!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY BRYSON!!!!!! Just so you know, I made you cake! Yep, a CAKE! And ate it in your honor! :) (FYI: In Guatemala, Oct 1st is a National Holiday! It is the Day of the Child (Dia de Niño)!) So not only did I celebrate your birthday, but ALL OF GUATEMALA did too!!

Highlights for 5/10/15:

Highlight #1: Egg Fried Cauliflower. This week we made dinner with a member and her family here. About a month ago, my comp and I had eaten dinner with her and she had prepared Egg Fried Cauliflower for us, and we wanted to learn how to do it. (for the record, and in total humility, I knew how to do it and explained the process to my companion....but he didn't believe me...) So we asked this sister if she could teach us how to make it. So we placed an appointment with her for the day she was going to give us dinner, to go and learn this simple, SIMPLE, entree. I have included pictures of us preparing it. It was super good, and EASY! :)
Making Egg-Fried Cauliflower...yum!

Highlight #2: Food. This week we had the wonderful experience of eating with some members. They prepared the most typical guatemalan food that I can think of and something that I have had many a time. (honestly, I can even prepare it!) Do you want to know what this week's food highlight was? Huegos con Frijoles y Morcaf. Yep, Eggs and Beans with Morcaf. And I love it, even if we eat it for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner. Nothing extraño to report this week. But what did you think I was going to put here? ;) Pansa? Higalo? ;) HAHA!

Highlight #3: that is REALLY #1!!! Conferencia General. (You can check out what I'm about to talk about here) For those who are reading this who are not members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or were members a while back, General Conference is a biannual global two-day broadcast of talks and instruction from the Prophet, members of the Quorum of the Twelve, and other General Authorities and Auxiliaries of the church. This past weekend, what an edifying experience we were given. I can testify that each of the individuals who spoke were guided by the spirit in preparing their individual talks. (They are not assigned their topics when they are assigned to speak) I know that I was surely edified by the spirit and received not only the words and instructions of the speakers but also of the Spirit. And honestly, the instructions from the spirit are a LOT more important. I would invite all who did not have the opportunity to watch all or some of this general conference to go to the above site and watch and learn at the feet of our modern apostles and prophets...to honestly receive a form of modern day scripture. If you were able to see some of conference, I invite you to go to the above site and watch the rest...every talk offers unique instruction for you! Now, if you were able to watch every one of the sessions I invite you to go to the above site and pick one or two talks to review and study in depth...this will bring the spirit stronger in yours and your families lives, and allow you to come closer to your Heavenly Father. Do it! It's easy! May I suggest: Remember the story of the brass serpent in the wilderness that Moses raised up to save the Israelites that would "look and live"? Remember how some did not "look and live" because of the simplicity of the act? This, tal vez, is one of those brass serpents, but for modern times...the instruction, direction, guidance, and love of God is there. But is it too easy that we will not "look, [listen], and live"?

Comment 2 about general conference: as you all know (or may not know), since the past conference, 3 of the apostles passed on to the other side of the veil. This meant that this past conference 3 new apostles and special witnesses of the Lord Jesus Christ were called and sustained by the church membership as a whole. I know that the three men who were called to fill the 3 vacancies in the Quorum of the Twelve were and are called of God. He has been preparing them since before they were born for this call and responsibility. I sustain each of the members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as prophets, seers, and revelators along with the members of the First Presidency. My love and prayers have gone in behalf of the newly called apostles and their families, that they may feel my sustaining of them (in what meager way I can). Just as Christ's church contained, when He organized it in the meridian of time, apostles and prophets who followed the guidance of Christ (Ephesians 2:20), we today (yes, today) have modern apostles and prophets who have been and are called by Christ to be His chosen representatives on the earth today (Amos 3:7), for you and for me.

I know that this is the church of Jesus Christ upon the earth. I know that in the pre-existance we, each and every one, chose the plan of God (if you don't believe me, talk to your nearest Mormon friend or the missionaries, they can help explain and show how and why YOU DID choose God's plan and why you don't remember doing so :)). 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 it 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 who He needs when and where. 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 (or begin learning about the peace and joy being a member of Christ's restored church will bring to your life).

With Love and Prayers,
Elder Flake
I am keeping up our "let's get ice cream for Priesthood Session" tradition!!

My General Conference squad :)