Monday, December 25, 2017

A missionary's Christmas call home

The best part of a missionary's Christmas is being able to call home and talk to family

Elder Roberts' testimony in Spanish.  He has been on his mission just 2 days shy of 1 year. 
(who's counting? This Momma!)

The goodbyes are always so hard. It was so wonderful to talk to him and see him smiling.
He is so happy! So happy, that he doesn't mind not having a hot shower.  He hasn't had hot water for the past nine months! He told us that where he is living now at least has a shower head and that he is grateful that he doesn't have to use a bowl and get water from the pila.  

It was wonderful to hear his stories, some funny, some scary.  We take comfort and know that he is in the Lord's hands. He is serving the Lord, we pray that he will be watched over and protected.

We love him and miss him so much.  We are very proud of him and look forward to next Christmas when he will be back with us all.

Merry Christmas! love all us Roberts'
We can't wait for next Christmas when both Christian and Alyssa will be home and our traditional Christmas morning stair picture won't feel so empty. 

Week 52: Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone!
I´ll tell you a little about what happened in my week leading up to the day we commemorate the Saviors birth. 
It went by super quick, we had a a lot of work to do for the zone. The zone Juticalpa has been struggling a bit, but it´s nothing a little diligence and obedience can´t fix. 
Elder Banda and I had found some cousins a couple weeks back. We have been working with them and they have been progressing. They are called Jary (pronounce Hary) and Luiz Miguel. The two of them are very positive and want to come unto Christ; it´s just a busy schedule that is stopping them with the Christmas season. 
Our days just before Christmas were jam packed with visits with investigators before they either headed out of town or had family come and visit. 
Elder Banda and I worked hard and have been looking for more people to teach. The Lord works in mysterious ways... we had almost no luck. We found some people but we were no where near reaching our goal for the week. On Sunday the 24th, it´s the day we celebrate in Latin America as Christmas or the Good Night. We leave our lunch visit with the Soleno Family and we get looking, knocking on doors and contacting in the street, looking for some new people. We had a bit of time just before we had to be at a members home to celebrate the holiday. It starts pouring rain. Banda and I began knocking a little bit more to get out of the rain and find someone with an open heart, someone to open their door to two soaked missionaries... but nothing, it seemed that no one would open. We finally got lucky. Well, they just put us on their porch to wait out the rain while they finished cooking their Christmas dinner. Then the rain stopped for a bit, and with heads down, Elder Banda and I headed out again to keep looking. We knocked a couple more doors, and nothing. At 4:30, thirty minutes before we had to basically turn out for the day because people will be celebrating Christmas. And I´m exhausted, and wet and cold, and more than a little grumpy and Banda says to me, ´´lets knock one more door.´´ I give in, and while we are walking to the next door Banda is talking and saying with his faithful imagination... ´´we´re going to go in and it´ll just be the parents, but it´ll be a family of 8... and the parents, they´ll have 6 kids all over the age of 8. They´ll let us in and give us a drink and we´ll be able to teach them and they´ll like it, but we have to be on it.´´  I laughed a little bit at his overly perfect situation and I knocked on the door. Well, A man answered and asked what we wanted. We gave him our regular spiel-- that we are missionaries and we want to share a message of Jesus Christ. The guy said SURE and let us in! The moment started to click the man had let us in pretty quick. We sat down and his wife came in and saw us and gave us a drink. I was thinking in my head that this was all just them being nice and having true Christmas Spirit. Well, we began to talk and we quickly found out that it was a family of eight! All of their children are over the age of eight. (the only thing is that their children are grown and have families of their own and live in the States.)  But I won´t lie-- I almost fainted! We left the lesson finding out that Guiermon isn´t assisting a church, but that his wife is less active but loves the church. 
I felt blessed and humbled by this Christmas miracle. 

I´m very happy to have talked to my family today and I wish you all the Merriest of Christmases and I hope you all can have a Happy New Year! 

keep truckin´

A missionary Christmas dinner at the church.
Elder Roberts, Hermana Latimer, Elder Valadez, Elder Banda, Hermana Gamez, Hermana Bravo, (Hermana Da Silva is in the bathroom), and Elder Garcia (Elder Garcia is Valdez's companion and is going home in January with Banda)
Banda helping with the set-up
Hermano Leo from the Belen Branch made our dinner.
Thursday was a good day. We went to Oh Crepas. I ordered a waffle. It was 90 limps
Merry Christmas! It's Christmas Eve or The Good Night... the day that latin America celebrates Christmas.
Taking a Santa pic... and this Santa is trying to tell you that fireworks are super loud. 4 limps buys a packet of fire crackers. The kids here light them off all year. They have been going off all day.
We did a secret santa gift exchange with the Hermana's from the Belen Branch and Hermana Melba.
Hermana Latimer got Elder Banda a gift. Hermana Gamez got Latimer a gift. Elder Banda got Hermana Gamez a gift, and Hermana Melba and I drew each other. 
Hermana Melba got me a red tie.
Christmas gifts from home for Elder Roberts. Mom was on it when she sent the package so early. ( With all this political stuff going on I won't get my other Christmas and Hump day stuff until January 9th or so.
Elder Banda with his Christmas present
Elder Banda seriously loves Sour Patch!
Best part of Christmas--- Talking with my family! (blog post of call home)
20 Years Old!!
Banda's 1st time shaving!
Shaving ad!!

Monday, December 18, 2017

Week 51: Christmas miracles in Juticalpa

This week was a week of miracles! Last week we had the trouble with dates, so Elder Banda and I took a minute and we made plans for what we could do. We really felt like we should focus on Family Home Evenings and references, so we went and looked them up. The success we had was incredible. We have found some good people who are ready for the message we bring. I hope to be able to give good news next week about them. 

We had a branch Christmas activity. I bought a Santa costume the kids and the families loved it! I had a lot of pictures taken with everybody as it was me that was chosen to be Santa. The kids came up, stood beside me and asked for gifts. We enjoyed the Christmas dinner and took pictures with signs and a Light the World backdrop. We shared a good message and Santa spoke to the branch. (I thought that was weird.) The branch president wanted me to speak, so I got to talk about the importance of the birth of the Saviour standing there in my Santa costume. In the end all the families and the kids thought it was good. I plan to leave the costume here for future use. The parties here don’t really do Santa stuff. I kinda hope they do because it’s one of the things that I always remember doing at ward Christmas parties-- the Santa photos that mom always wanted. 

I had a cool experience with the Book of Mormon this week. We had a Family Home Evening at the familia Medina's and a non member was there. She was very shy, and didn’t want to really speak too much. Well, at the end Elder Banda and I were asked to give a message. We talked about the importance of the Christmas season and about Christ’s birth. We spoke a little about the Book of Mormon and of Joseph Smith, but after the message was shared the lady came up and asked, ''what is the Book of Mormon?''  I looked to my companion - who looked back to me to answer her. I bore my solemn testimony of it, that it is a true work, that the prophecies of the Bible have been completed and that we can now hold the stick of Judah and the stick of Ephraim as one in our hand. I felt prompted to testify of Joseph Smith and I did. I testified of him as one of the Lord’s chosen servants in our latter days, and then my companion bore an even stronger testimony of the restored gospel. It was amazing, I can say I have never felt the spirit so strong! The lady sat back and then said, ''I think I'll look into you mormons''. Banda and I weren't surprised... well we were kind of.  We invited her to the branch Christmas party. She came and she loved it! She has accepted to be baptized on the 30th of this month along with two of her grandchildren. 
The Lord works miracles in Juticalpa!!!
keep truckin'

Our Light the World backdrop. Santa with the Primary Children. (I don't remember their names)

The little girl on the right was super cute! At one point she came up to me and said ''Señor Santa gracias por venir a nosotros y dar regalos a los niños pero espero que sabe que es bueno también a andar en las cosas de Cristo.'' (Santa, Thank you for coming to us and giving gifts to the children, but I hope you know that it is good also to walk in the things of Christ.)
The missionaries of Juticalpa with a lady in our Branch, Hermana Melba. There were about 140 that showed up to the branch Christmas party. That is huge!
Me with Hermana Melba. She helped us decorate. She has seven year old twin daughters and really likes Christmas.
Banda's sign says, Let the children come unto me. Mine says, Blessed are the Merciful -Matthew 5:7
We were told that we are technically in another lockdown so I drew a sad face on a balloon.
I have time to write today. We don't know what our schedule will be like this week.  It is bad. They announced the winner of the election yesterday and the people went nuts! (from what I hear, they are leveling Tegucigalpa at night.) In our Juticalpa zone we have to be inside our homes by 5 & 6 the rest of the week. 

I am thankful for faithful ward members. Every branch needs a familia Medina.  They are a really good family. They have a pick up truck and they say they will give rides to church to investigators. It is a huge blessing!  They live really far away. It is a 40 minute walk to them for Elder Banda and I.  

Next monday is Christmas! If nothing bad happens I will Skype you guys around 2 or 3.  Our zone will be having it's Christmas party the first week of January because we are on lockdown. It was supposed to be today but nobody could come. It will be a New Years Party instead. 

I will get my Christmas packages that were delivered to the mission office when everything is safe too. Don't worry, it should be maybe by the first week of January.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Week 50: ¿All is calm in Juticalpa

So there isn´ t much time to write this week. I want to let you guys know that I am back in Juticalpa and for the time being working a normal schedule. 
We got back on Tuesday. The ride back went pretty smooth. We did get stopped at one point for a search, but they didn’t find anything so it was all good. 
The country is still in civil unrest. When they really announce who won the election everything is going to go nuts! Our Mission President is doing good keeping us informed about what he is planning and how we can help the plan go into action. He has mentioned that we should be ready when everything picks back up. It´s been really worrisome out here because well, nothing is happening, but everyone says Tegucigalpa is still in the same shape. 

Juticalpa is is calm and still hot here in December. I am coming up on my 1 year mark. It will be just one more year before the return of ´´Mister Twister´´, as Aunt Cassie calls me! I don´t want to think on that too much, just focusing on the work.  

This week was sad. All, and I mean literally ALL of our fechas fell through! All of our investigators lost interest and confidence by the lockdown. It has put more pressure on Elder Banda and I. SO Elder Banda and I have been out  ´´snapping necks and cashing checks´´! That’s a Will Ferrel movie quote... just meaning we have been working extra hard this week, working so hard that it is hard to recall everything. Heck I don´t even have photos! (mom is going to kill me!) Don´t worry, I have a sister from the ward that is going to send me some photos of a ´´service´´ activity we did in a retirement center. We sang carols and we had lots of fun smashing a santa piñata. It was fun, and my camera was dead and I didn´t know. Well, no photos until next week! 

Elder Banda and I have been talking with some good people this last week. We found some old investigators that hopefully with a little bit of time will have sprouted from the planted seed and want the gospel and really seek it. We hope to have a better week because of them. 
I don´t know how to explain what it is I felt when everyone who had been so positive fell through. It has been a literal heart break! I care so much about these people and it´s hard to see it go like this. I just hope that in the future I can or another missionary can go and bring back these lost sheep of the Lord. 
I´m proud to announce the rest of the zone is prospering though, we are finding a lot of people who are ready for the gospel and we hope to have baptisms for the end of this month, and the beginning of next. 

Hope all goes well! 

Keep Trucking´

Monday, December 4, 2017

Week 49: Political Turmoil

Hey- so we were given permission to write, and buy food and stuff for the next couple of days. But from what I have gathered, you guys think I’m in Juticalpa. I’m not. We had a meeting with a Seventy (Elder Cordón) on the 30th. Elder Banda and I have been in Tegucigalpa since then. On the 1st of December we had a leadership meeting, so Elder Banda and I waited in Tegucigalpa with Elder Valdetano and his companion, Elder Divett. And then just a day later everything got to the way it is now. Political turmoil! We missionaries have been told to stay in our apartments until things settle down. It has been five days and I only have with me the necessities for one day.  It’s been super stressful.   

I don’t have my English scriptures with me. It is in them that I like to study from, so it’s been hard to find anything that stands out. For the last 4 days we missionaries have been on lockdown. Elder Banda and I are staying in the zone leaders house in Torocagua. We have been making the most of Presidents orders to keep us safe. It has been fun staying here with four other elders along with my comp. There are also some elders from the Torocagua area here. Their house is almost right on the main street in Tegucigalpa where all the riots and protests are happening so we brought them here, it is in a safer area called San Rafael. We have been keeping our spirits up by sharing spiritual thoughts and jokes. (...a lot of tu jefa, which is kind of a bad phrase in Spanish, but in English it’s just your good old ‘Yo Momma’ jokes.) 

Elder Banda and I have been stressed for our area and the others in the zone.  I don’t think we will finish the month meeting our goals.  With faith we will have some success. 

One of the things we got to do yesterday was have a small meeting in the place of Sacrament meeting. We didn’t have the sacrament, but we all gave little talks and thoughts for about an hour. I decided to talk about peace. I had originally planned on sharing Alma 31 where Alma gives his mission pep talk, but then my thoughts changed and I wanted to share Luke 2:14, Philippians 4:6-8, and Alma 40:12. It was just a cool spiritual experience I had thinking about the peace that Jesus Christ offers all of us. ‘Tis the season right? I exhort you all to think a little about the peace you guys have because of him. I know that He can change who ever let’s him in their life. I know all of our problems whether spiritual, physical or political can be helped and solved through Jesus Christ. I hope this year we can think of Him more. Think of Him instead of ourselves and what’s going on around us. It has helped me a lot just in these last couple days. I have felt the peace. A lot of what has been going around is rumors and some of them break my heart. But in the end I know the Lord will bring me the peace I need. All of us, as missionaries need to go and give it all we have. 

I love you guys! I hope all is well back wherever you are! 


Keeping our spirits up on lock down. We are really in the dark about what is going on. President gave us permission until 3 O'clock today to go out and get necessities. We can go to a pupleria. We aren't allowed to go near large commercial spots. After that we will go back home and study, pray, and exercise.
Me with Elder Gomez. I have no idea how long we will be here. It looks like we could be here a few more days. 
Elder Divett. There are six missionaries in this house in San Rafael. Elder Valdetano, Elder Divett, Elder Banda, Elder Gomez, Elder Clavijo and me. 
Banda and Valdetano.We had to travel to Tegucigalpa for our multi zone meeting with Elder Cordón. Banda and I left at 2 in the morning because of expected traffic delays getting in to Tegucigalpa.
Elder Divett and Gomez playing Chess.  Elder Gomez and I are looking to go at it when we get back. We have been the best so far.
Me with Elder Clavijo.  I am wearing Elder Valdetano's shirt. I only have the pair of garments I am wearing, the church clothes I brought, and some basketball shorts.  
Elder Banda chillin'. Today will be 5 days that we have been here. The rest of our zone is safe in Olancho with the exception of Hermana Latimer and Gamez. They are with the sister training leaders in the country and are safe. We talk to them each night to make sure everything is okay. 
He is not always sleeping, but this guy can sleep anywhere. His sleep today is justified. He had 2 hours of sleep because we had to leave so early in the morning to get to our meeting in Tegucigalpa. (Elder Divett looking on)
Lockdown with a bunch of guys can get crazy. They shaved my legs while I was sleeping and we took a sharpie to Elder Banda. I still have my eyebrows XD

Monday, November 27, 2017

Week 48: a witness

This week we had a baptism that was really exciting. It was a really cool experience. We talked to the ward council about the upcoming baptism in last weeks ward council meeting. A lot of the members said that they would be coming, so we didn’t worry about having enough people there to help with the ordinance. When we got to the chapel on Saturday we started to fill up the font and clean a little bit. With all that done we then went to type up the agenda/program. Well, not shortly after that Javier, our baptism shows up. Elder Banda and I got up to show him around, we showed him the font and where to get changed and ready. When we got into the room where the font was we see that the font hadn’t filled all the way. We started looking to see what stopped the water from filling and we found no answer. So we went out to the cistern, I think in english it is where all the water is. We looked inside and there is a bunch of water! We couldn’t figure out what had happened or how to fix it, so with the help of the sister missionaries we all took bucket after bucket of water, and filled the font. After that it was time to start the baptism. We look around and there is no one there to be the witnesses. I was already dressed in my whites ready to perform the baptism. (you can see in the photos since we took them before the baptism) Elder Banda and I thought only elders could be the witnesses. We found out later that priests can witness them as well. It was too late. Well, the Lord blessed us with a priest in attendance.  Javier Reyes, a newly ordained priest and recent convert of the sister missionaries here in Juticalpa comes walking in in his white shirt.  We asked him if he wants to perform a baptism and he says sure.  We called his Branch President to ask for permission and we got it. We then got Javier dressed in my whites and he was ready. We started the service and it was super cool, really spiritual. It was a great experience to be able to be a part of and witness. The sisters were super excited to have had the chance to see one of their converts exercise the priesthood and it was cool for me to see the change that had passed in our recent convert Javier Lopez.

The guy has been an investigator for about three years. He knew a Hermana Moore and a Hermana Portillo. They visited him often and tried to get he and his wife married, but they never had the means. Javier has two kids and was living happily until the pastor in his “girlfriends” church came and started telling her all the sins that she had with the biggest being fornication. She took it hard and then a day later separated with Javier. Javier for a while was heart broken, but he understood that he needed to obey the commandments. He looked forward to the visit of the missionaries and the day he had decided to talk to us we passed by his little shop without knowing. He came out and called to us, we turned around and began talking to him. He had planned to be baptized the next year, but we exhorted him to do it as soon as possible.  He prayed about it and the Lord told him that the 25th of November was the day he was to be baptized. That’s it for my week.

I hope you all had a good week and a wonderful Thanksgiving. I hope you all can give thanks for all that the Lord has given and provided you with. 

I love you guys and hope you have a great week! Keep Truckin’ 

Hector Javier Lopez Navas was baptized on November 25.
 Javier Reyes arrived just in time to baptize Javier Lopez.  Elder Banda and I were the witnesses.
Hermana's Gamez and Latimer with our convert and theirs.
Hermana Gamez, Da Silva, Laz, and Elder Banda.  We ate lunch after our district meeting at a members restaurant in the Hermana's area, Belen (another area of Juticalpa). I don't know the members name or the name of the restaurant. The food was okay. Elder Valadez, Sullivan, and Hermana Latimer aren't in the picture, but were there too.
This is the backside of Elder Valadez. 
Elder Gonzalez and Valadez are the district leaders right now in our zone. There is 2 districts in my zone right now.  As far as the number of missionaries in a district and zone, there isn't a set number (there can be 20 in a zone or there can be 10, it doesn't matter, the minimum can be 4:2 companionships) its whatever the Lord directs to the mission president. When I was in the Bulevar zone there were 8 missionaries in my district. My district right now has 8 missionaries as well. There are 2 companionships in Juti and 2 in Catacamas. Transfers are tomorrow. I am still the zone leader.  The new missionaries in my zone will be Hermana Bravo, Elder Tun, Elder Garcia and Elder Gonzalez.
This is where Elder Banda and I study in our apartment in Juticalpa.
This is our kitchen. We have a fridge, stove, and oven here. Most of the time we eat with members. They give us little take home dinners and lunches in tin foil.  We are cleaning out the fridge in this picture.
This is our closet area. The apartment has those little washing machines that you have to add water to, but we take our clothes to a lady in the sisters area once a week, she cleans them better.  She charges about 104 lempira for 5 pounds of clothes. She is funny, she is catholic and says that she is born catholic, raised catholic and is going to die CATHOLIC!
Where I sleep in Juticalpa.
The bathroom with a shower. 
Elder Banda in his street clothes.  He changed into them because he was waiting for his clothes to dry.
I was teasing him and took this picture because I think he looks like a Jehovah Witness.
Transfers are tomorrow: Elder Banda and I are going to stay together as well as Hermana Gamez and Latimer, but other than that the rest of the zone has changes.