So you've been called to serve in Quetzaltenango?!
First off, you are coming to one of the best (no, THE best) missions there is. In the mission you can find just about anything you could need for a perfect climate. The Guatemalan people are amazing! Super humble, loving, and with strong beliefs in Christ (or at least most are this way). I can confidently say, these two years have been some of the best, hardest, most rewarding, and eternally-shaping years of my life. Yes, there are going to be hard times in the mission, it's inevitable, but these "hard" experiences are what seem to shape us even more into what God needs us to be and make the good experiences even better and more rewarding. I have come to know my Savior at a more intimate level, for which I am ever grateful.
So, if you are one of the lucky ones called to serve in the Guatemala Quetzaltenango Mission, here is some advice or suggestions:
1. Be obedient, exactly obedient, and the blessings will flow. This doesn't mean you have to be judgmental and angry, lead by example. If you are obedient those around you will as well.
2. Don't over-stress about the language, it comes (and faster than you think). Focus on the people and on learning a little more every day. Always, always, always take the time to do language study, every day.
3. Have fun! This is self-explanatory.
4. I always wish I had kept a tortilla count in my mission. ;)
5. Don't worry about bringing blankets, there are blankets in every apt.
6. Write in your journal EVERY DAY! or you will regret it!
7. Make sure your shoes are waterproof, comfortable, sturdy, and have soles for rough terrain. Many missionaries have black boots (like work or hiking boots) because in many areas you will be doing a lot of walking up and down rocky paths in the mountains in the wind, rain, dust, everything.
8. Don't bring toiletries for your whole mission. I know when I was coming to the mission I thought I was coming to the Guatemalan jungle, and thus wouldn't be able to find many necessary hygiene items. Don't you worry :) Bring enough toiletries to get you through the MTC (CCM) and your first 2 changes (3 months) in the field. From there you will know where to find the things you need :)
9. Don't bring a bunch of "civilian" clothes...you won't use them and they'll just take up space. I would have been fine with like 2 t-shirts and 2 shorts...and you'll find, in many apts, left behind clothes items, shoes, etc that you can use along the course of your mission.
10. I just asked my companion what more to suggest and he responded "ZAPATOS BUENOS!" So, bring good shoes! If your feet are happy, you'll be happy :) My comp suggested, boots, bring boots. To explain, I brought a pair of high-sierras (boots...as you can see in my blog) with vibram soles and after 18 months the treads are gone, the sides are torn through, and I had to get some inserts because the inside was worn gone BUT my feet have been blister-free, protected, and happy ;)
11. Don't bring a bunch of medicine. I haven't used basically anything, and when I have needed medicine I could have found it here. Once again, bring any specialty meds you need, but any "generic" stuff follow the "make it through the MTC and your first 2 changes in the field" procedure :)
12. Clothes. Some clothes suggestions: Don't bring slim fit pants, because neither they or you will make it through the rigors of the days work if you do. Bring ONE suit, DON'T bring more than one...you won't use more than one and it will only take up space. Bring thick socks...over the course of the mission they wear out, get lost, or are used for other worthy purposes...I brought 14 pairs, and they've lasted me, but I've had companions who have literally worn through socks every change or two. Thankfully you can find more socks here.
13. Make a budget and stick to it every month. You will be blessed.
14. Don't buy anything (except maybe a Xela Temple tie) from the vendors at the MTC, you'll find scripture cases, bags, and souvenirs in the mission (and many times a lot cooler and cheaper)
15. Remember, any souvenir you buy or acquire, you must pack around. The best service (I've found) for sending letters and packages and haven't had problems is the good-ol' national postal service (El Correo)...it also happens to be your cheapest option. Yeah, it may not be home overnight, but all my packages have made it to my family safely, unopened, and intact. Word of advice: don't buy the tracking number to the able to track your package home, the codes they give you don't work (then again it is the national GUATEMALAN postal service).
16. Make sure you've got LOTS of pepto your first couple changes (and always a box on hand the rest of your mission...you know...for THOSE moments). As you body acclimates to living in, yeah, Guatemala your body may have adverse (but not deadly) effects. Thus a lovely 2 chewable tablets after every trip to the royal throne will help bring things back to normal functioning order.
17. The first weeks in the field will feel like 2 years, but then your 2 years will feel like weeks! As you get to the field remember: God called you, you can have confidence in Him; Your family is and will be fine and protected, so (though it may seem harsh, it ain't) don't think about them. It will only distract you from your short, precious 2-year experience; Your trainer was called by God to train YOU, have confidence in him, ask him anything and everything, and find one way every day to serve him.
18. Come PUMPED! There is nothing that will determine more the type of experience you and your companion's missions will be than your attitude. Good attitude=good mission; Bad attitude= the mission will never end, and you nor your comp will be happy; PUMPED attitude=the best, most life-changing 2 years you've ever known! Now it's your choice :) And never let the attitude of those around you, missionary, member, or your companion, drag you down. Only allow them to lift you higher, don't change your decision and determination, nor your attitude.
Well, hope those help a little bit. You truly are embarking on one of life's sweetest journeys (both sweet as in ones dear grandma's cookies and sweet as in extremely cool!). Take it in, savor it, and don't let a day go by that you don't thank God for it (in the good AND bad days). And one day, sooner than you think, you'll be where I'm at passing the baton to yet another generation of newly called missionaries who cannot truly comprehend the joys, growing pains, celestial frustrations, hilarious stories, and eternity-changing experiences that away them.
Welcome to the ranks!