November 30, 2015

So Thankful

"Therefore they did watch over their people, and did nourish them with things pertaining to righteousness." --Mosiah 23:18

Highlights for 30/11/15:

Highlight #1: Thanksgiving. Well, as you all know...this week was Thanksgiving. And may I just say...a Thanksgiving we did have! A member here in the ward about a month ago asked us each to ask our families for a family Thanksgiving recipe....and then she prepared them! WHAT AN AMAZING ACT OF SERVICE!!! We had everything! Turkey! Mashed Potatoes AND GRAVY! Stuffing! Punch! AND?? PUMPKIN PIE!!!! :) It was soooooooooooo good! Now, I have to just say Grandma's Thanksgivings still have first place....but this Hermana has the first place, top rate Thanksgiving Dinner in all of Guate!! I was very THANKFUL this Thanksgiving and had/have LOTS to be thankful for!!!! :) Hope your Thanksgivings went well too :) :)

Highlight #2: Missionary Activity. This week we had a super successful activity!!! :) Between the two companionships we have about 50, yes FIFTY, potentially (as in super close) progressing investigators...and they all live pretty close together. So we planned an activity at a members house in their neighborhood to get them all together, with some members, to make some friends and to start progressing :) :) For the activity we played the movie Meet the Mormons and had some pretty great refreshments!! (What's an LDS activity without some good refreshments? ;)) And it went off as a huge success! One of our investigators that hasn't been able to come to church, or hasn't felt the need, came to the activity and then yesterday called us in the morning to make sure they knew the correct hour for church!!!! Successful missionary feelings for sure in that moment!! :) :)
fun missionary activity watching Meet the Mormons together

Highlight #3: Speaking of/(in) Church. So this week my comp and I got a call from the ward secretary...which really isn't that abnormal, until he said "Bishop asked me to call you guys for a favor"...still not too abnormal...."will you and your comp be willing to speak this Sunday in church about missionary work?, Sure." So my companion and I had the privilege of speaking in church. It went well, and many of the members told me that they learned a lot from my to see if they APPLY my talk...we'll see ;) :) But speaking in church is NO PROBLEM any more...before yeah, butterflies and all...but now it's super normal and easy :) :) And I actually enjoyed it :)

Highlight #4: Food. OBVIOUSLY this week's food highlight is super american...Thanksgiving. But just to add something else, this week we had the opportunity to try tripas. If you have now looked it up you know, yes, tripas is intestines stuffed with meat. That actually weren't that bad...honest ;) Another food to add to the list of "fun" mission foods... ;) :) haha :)

I know that God is aware of me and my needs, as well as how far he can stretch me without breaking me but to shape me. I know that He is and has protected me. This week I am soo greatful to a loving Heavenly Father for SOOO MANY THINGS. For EVERYTHING. He has literally given me everything. This week was a bit tough, but I'm better for it :) I can't believe that it has already almost been 6 weeks since I left the men in skirts for the "big" city. But, changes are coming this week...guess we'll see what He's got in store for me :) I know that this is His work. I know that He called and calls prophets today and, through His prophet Joseph Smith, He restored His church. (That means placed His church once again on existed when He lived on earth, then was lost for a LONG time, and then He placed it once again on earth because He loves you...and me). I love you all and hope you guys are getting in the Christmas spirit! LOVE YA!

With love and prayers,
Elder Flake

P.S. Watch A Savior is Born and discover why we need a Savior. I love Christmas!
"More than 2,000 years ago, God sent Jesus Christ to be our Savior. Jesus Christ was born to save us from our sins, born so we can be born again and return to live with God someday. Let us rejoice greatly this Christmas season, for unto all of us #ASaviorIsBorn."

November 23, 2015

A Hastened Work

"Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God." --Moroni 10:32

To the Highlights!

Highlights for 23/11/15:

Highlight #1: Fecha. This week we were blessed to be able to put a baptismal date with one of our new investigators. The work is picking up! We were also able to visit with many of our investigators and many are now progressing. It was a good week on that front :) I'm just looking forward to another week and seeing more of my brothers and sisters (Guatemaltecans) come closer to their/our Heavenly Father. The work is moving forward.

Highlight #2: Food. Well, this week's food highlight was the day we ate Italian food with one of the members! But, OBVIOUSLY, the highlight about food for this week is too big to just be mentioned once (next week)--we will be having a THANKSGIVING DINNER IN GUATE!!!! It is going to be such a blast!!! :) SO! FELIZ DIA DE ACTION DE GRACIAS=HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!!

Highlight #3: Miracles. This week has been a week of chance coincidences or better said, a week of miracles. First, for the first time this change somebody accepted a baptismal date....and (for the missionaries that read this, because they will understand why that's a big deal) she accepted in the first lesson. Then also throughout the week other things occurred as well. These included being able to leave for visits with a recently returned missionary. Also yesterday, we had an appointment with a new investigator that fell through, but he just happens to live next door to one of our investigators we weren't able to visit this week because he was soo busy...but just as we were leaving this other investigator walked out of his house, saw us, and called us over. I have NO idea way he happened to poke is head out just as we were passing by, but needless to say...we were able to have a GREAT appointment with him and his family. And better yet, he should be coming to church next Sunday with his entire family!!! Woohoo! The Lord deserves our best, and when we give our best (diligently) the blessings flow...I've seen it happen this week!

These experiences as well as others have caused me to really realize and recognize the hand of the Lord in His work and my life specifically. He knows exactly what I need to become the man and son of God that He knows and needs me to be. I know that He has prepared experiences during my mission exactly intended for me. Prepared people, experiences, and events that He knew would help shape and better me. This work is soo amazing! :) I love my Savior and brother Jesus Christ and know that this is His work. I know that He has a hand in my life and the lives of those I interact with (including you guys'). I know that some day I will kneel at His feet and thank him for this experience and the love and mercy He shows me. This gospel is so amazing and perfect and I know that it is only through living by its teachings with sincere hearts and real intent, following the spirit and letter of the law, that we can and will become like God. I know that this is His church and that He is at its head guiding and directing. I love you all and more importantly He loves you, eternally. Have confidence and faith in Him, I know that life will not always be easy and sometimes bad things happen, but He knows what will make you celestial and like Him. Trust in Him, Have faith in Him.

WIth love and prayers,
Elder Flake

PS. 16 months ago left the frozen north for the land of eternal spring! Was it really that long ago?!?!? WOW!

November 17, 2015

The work continues...starting with me

"And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them." --Ether 12:27

Highlights for 16/11/15:

Highlight #1: Regional Conference. This week we had the opportunity to have a special regional conference for all of Guatemala. Elder Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve presided and spoke....AND IT WAS POWERFUL! Bishop Davies, Sister Marriott, and Elder Martino spoke as well. Elder Bednar spoke about what "truly hastening the work" means. It is not more retention, more convert baptisms, and more work in the temple. This is not where the hastening should be focused. This work is the Lord's work, He does the hastening. He then asked a set of questions that I would like each of us to consider: 1) Will we as individuals and as a church keep pace with the Lord? OR 2) Will we as individuals and as a church stay comfortable with "how it's always been"? Then he said, the hastening is more focused on making and keeping sacred priesthood covenants [than all the things I previously mentioned (ie retention, baptizing, temple for others)].

He then spoke about 3 principles or concepts we must understand. They are Faith, Sacrifice, and Consecration. He then went into detail about each of these principles but I will only give some of the highlights or statements that stood out to me.
*Speaking about faith he said it is the prinicple of action in intelligent beings, a principle of action and power. Increased faith=increased spiritual POWER. He then shared a story from the bible about when Joshua was leading the Israelites and they were promised by the Lord when they came to the River Jordan that they would cross over on dry ground. Then Elder Bednar pointed out that the Israelites didn't wait for the water to part, but first entered the water (FAITH) and the soles of their feet were wet before the water parted (POWER)...the power comes after the excercise of faith.
*Then about sacrifice something he said intrigued me...he said Sacrifice pertains only to mortality. It doesn't exist in the eternities. (Mind Blown)
*Then with consecration he ended by saying (in regard to the piece of consecration being a willingness to give ourselves (not all material means, but literally us, our talents and abilities) and people saying "that's hard, to give everything." He said...) living the gospel and keeping sacred covenants is NOT hard, not living the gospel and not keeping sacred covenants IS hard! He then promised that as we develop and act on these principles we will have power to chase darkness from among us. Only our best is good enough for the Lord.

Highlight #2: Tamales. Well tamale season has begun!!!! And man am I EXCITED!! So this week to kick off the Guatemalan Christmas tamale season I had a nice potato and chicken tamale and then...I had a chocolate tamale. IT WAS SUPER GOOD! Think grandma's rice pudding with chocolate syrup and a piece of chicken in the middle! It is super duper good!!! I am definitely going to have to learn how to make them and then start THAT Christmas tradition when I get home :)

Highlight #3: District Activity. So first off, I don't know if I've let you guys know that, once again, me and Elder Roca are in the same district :) :) Fun there :) But this last week we had our district activity. We played a modified soccer game....basically everyone has a chair, you must protect your chair from the soccer ball, if the soccer ball touches your chair you're out. Goal: be the last one standing :) It was actually a lot of fun!!! :) Then we played Uno...and yes in Spanish you still say "uno" when you only have one card (ie you don't say "one" or "hun"-kiche) ;) haha :) But I love my district and I'm getting more and more used to my area each week :)

So this week I had some very rejuvenating experiences to help encourage me on! I know this is the work of God and that He knows exactly what I (and each of us) need and the correct timing to implement a little nudge or a little encouragement to keep us going but still allow us to grow :) I am soo grateful for this work and the trust and faith my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have in me. Have you ever thought about that? Heavenly Father and Christ exercise faith in us, that we will choose to use our agency to do good and follow them. God, the all-knowing and most powerful being in the universe, has faith in me and faith in each of you individually. How cool of a thought is that? Makes you want to do better and be better, right?! ;) haha :) I love you all and hope all is going well for each of you! I pray for you each every day!! Keep up all the hardwork and sharing the gospel! Love those missionaries in your ward, maybe someday they will then return to visit ;) You never know ;) Haha :)

With love and prayers,
Elder Flake

Note from Mom: Elder Flake asked us if we had any questions for him, and these are some of the questions with the answers he gave...
Do you have a washer and dryer? I do not have washer or dryer...but a member that washes our laundry.
What kitchen appliances do you have? I have an electric stove top and a microwave and a fridge.
Who's your favorite sibling? Christ :)
How's the rain? It doesn't rain much here.
Are you teaching your comp English? I'm trying to teach him English. It's hard.
Do you ever get to sing or play a guitar? I sing in the shower, at night, at church, in lessons, whenever I can...and when I find a guitar I play it :)
Are you at an internet cafe? Yes, I'm at an internet cafe
What are the streets/neighborhoods like? Think an american neighborhood and I have about 3 of those in my area...this area is one of, if not the, most affluent areas in the mission. The streets are still cobblestone...but most everybody lives in stand alone houses, but some in apartments.

November 09, 2015

Life in "America"

"And now...I speak unto you: Thou art my first-born in the days of my tribulation in the wilderness. And behold, in thy childhood thou hast suffered afflictions and much sorrow, because of the rudeness of thy brethren. first-born in the wilderness, thou knowest the greatness of God; and he shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain." --2 Nephi 2:1-2

Highlights for 9/11/15:

Highlight #1: Food. Do you all remember (one of) my favorite foods...chilicayote? Well, I guess that is the NAHUALANIAN way of making that what did I have THIS WEEK? YEP, I tried ayote, the XELA version of this dish! And man is it super good!!! :) AND, it is SUPER easy to make!!! :) A shout out to Grandpa Morgan, it is a vegetable dish with LOTS of sugar (ie regular white sugar AND brown sugar AND honey). So it's vegetables right, so you can eat it as a normal meal!! LOVE YA GRANDPA! :) HAHA

Highlight #2: Xela. Well, may I just say that I have gone from the mountains of Guatemala to the most American experience I will probably be able to find here in the mission. HONESTLY! EVERYONE HERE speaks Ingles, like literally EVERYBODY. Makes for some boring lessons for my companion because they ask me to teach in English because they understand English better than Spanish. But may I say, it takes a lot for me to teach in English. One because I need (not just want, but need) my companion to be able to teach effectively because he can testify of the things I explain. And then two, I literally feel like I am in my training once again because my English sentences are super basic and (not horrible but) jumbled. I guess that is what happens when you practice and teach these lessons and present the ideas in many of the same ways BUT IN SPANISH, and then try to translate my Spanish thoughts to English to teach. WEIRD. I am literally translating my SPANISH thoughts into my mother tongue of ENGLISH!!! What is happening?!?!?! Well, I guess I've got to start teaching and talking to my companion in English to remind me how...haha ;)

You asked me if I liked being in an area of greater affluence, and I LOVE being in an area that is more affluent...but it brings it's own of which is you have got to have ALL of your bases covered because the deep probing questions come right off the bat...but it makes it interesting and keeps you on your toes :) The ward? Well, we have a couple seventies, former mission pres, the temple missionaries, and the 2nd counselor in the mission a very pilus ward :) (honestly feels like a ward in the states)

Also, you asked about how we (2 sets of Elders) share the same area...It is different to share an area, and we don't split it we just let each other know who are our investigators and we don't visit the investigators of the other elders :) And no, the 2 sets of missionaries do not live in the same apt. but our apt is AMAZING, the stores are WAY BETTER (ie walmart and other american companies)...but i am in the CITY now :)

Highlight #3: My comp. So the update on my companion for this week. We started talking about our families, so that we could understand each other a little more. And guess what we found....He is the oldest child, has 1 sister and 2 brothers...and he and each of his siblings are 1 year younger than our family. SO yeah, that was interesting to find out :) And then we have LOTS AND LOTS of working to find each of our strengths and USE THEM :)

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! :) I know He lives AND loves each and every one of us. If it weren't for His love, He wouldn't have organized His missionary work....but He does love all of us, so He sends those who have found parts or all of the light to teach and bring this light into the lives of others. I pray for you all each day and hope you can feel and see and recognize the hand of the Lord guiding, protecting, and helping each of you! :)

With love and prayers,
Elder Flake

Here's some "goodbye" pictures with my friends in Nahuala:

November 02, 2015

There Ain't No Place Like "Home"

"But behold, I...will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance." --1 Nephi 1:20

Highlights for 2/11/2015:

Highlight #1: Members. So in my new area this week I have seen and talked to a member from each of my previous areas....and they remember me. It felt great that they remembered my name (or were able to quickly check my tag without me seeing...don't think so...). I loved being able to quickly talk to each of them and find out how the area, their families, and the work are doing. It actually encouraged me a lot to keep working! I found out that I never knew the impression I left with some of the individuals when I left my areas. Families are doing well and progressing to be ready to go to the temple! :)

Well, I had a "YOU'VE BEEN IN THE MISSION A WHILE" moment this week when I found out (because I saw one of the family members from my first area) that there is an additional member in their family. When I was in my last months there, she told me and my companion that she had found out that she was pregnant....well, this month the newest member of her family is 3 months old!!!! Yeah, soo....yeah. But when I found that out I was soo happy for them...and that they remember when I was there A YEAR AGO....Just wanted to share  :) Haha :)

Highlight #2: Food. Yep, the weekly food highlight....and this week I actually have one! :) Woohoo! It is a dish called Fiambre...and it is DELICIOUS!!! Look it up on google! It is amazing! To explain where it comes from, as the story goes (I don't know if it's true or not...but, hey), there was a nunery (as in catholic nuns)...a high-ranking dignitary was scheduled to visit, so the nuns wanted to make a special dish for when he came....but there was a problem, they didn't have much of anything (a little veggies, a little meat, a little of this or that) what did they do? They took everything they had and put it TOGETHER. Well, for the fact that it contains "EVERYTHING" it is a bit expensive to make (and needless to say makes A in I was told that one recipe of it makes enough fiambre for the days 3 meals for 15 to 20 people). SO, due to the expense the chapins (ie Guatemaltecos/Guatemalans) found a holiday that only happens once a year and needed a special tradition. What holiday did they find? 1 de Nov, Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead....they don't celebrate Halloween here, sorry, no candy when we were contacting... ;) haha) So as yesterday was 1 of Nov and Day of the Dead, we ate fiambre for lunch and dinner. I LOVED IT! My comp...not soo much. So really, to each their own :)

Highlight #3: Area. So, who wants to know where I'm at? Well, the wait continues. NOT REALLY...Some clues: I am now in Guatemala's second largest city. I have the Temple IN MY AREA. Yep, I'm back in Xela :) And I LOVE this area! My companion is from the Dominican Republic and has less than a year in the mission. In this area there are 2 companionships (so 4 elders), to say the least it is "interesting" to share an area :))

This week was definately a week of change! Not just a change of area, but due to the change of area the need to make many adjustments. Adjusting to a new area, a new companion, new members, new investigators, new challenges, and new leaders. But all in all, I'm doing well :) I guess that it was true when others have said that I take change well (usually) :) I am soo glad for that blessing! I know that this is the work of the Lord. I am truly one of his CHOSEN servants and He has (through revelation) assigned me to THIS mission, THIS area, and THIS companion in His wisdom. I hope and pray that I may be able to accomplish what He has placed me here to accomplish. I know that He lives! I know that He loves every singe one of us individually and knows us. I know that He has gone below all so that we don't have to AND so that He is able to comfort and support us in all of our challenges and difficulties in life. I am soo greatful for a loving older Brother who would do what He did FOR ME. I testify that He LIVES and that He is at the head of His church, and that through His chosen servants He is and will reveal His secrets (Amos 3:7) and instructions for us, specifically.

With Love and Prayers,
Elder Flake