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.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Week 47: watch out for motorcycles

Hey everybody this week was a little normal en cuanto de que nothing happened.  We did experience some little miracles. Elder Banda and I were out contacting... we found a young woman that was out on the second story of a Cuarteria, a very small apartment building. We called out to her, and it’s funny, she asks us, “you guys here to beg for money?” We answered up, no, and said that we are representatives of Jesus Christ. She then asked us what church we represent, and we replied, la iglesia de jesucristo de los santos de los ultimos dias. She screamed at us, AH! She literally screamed and said, “esto si explica... son falsos!” At that time I was thinking that we should run away, but we stayed strong, and then she said that she was coming down. She answered the door and invited us to share our message right there on the first floor. I was thinking, based on her screaming that I would not go up anywhere near this lady´s house. Well, we talked for a little bit and we found out that she’s married and is pregnant and is very emotional right now. She says she says whatever thoughts come into her head. She asked quite a few questions about the prophet Joseph Smith which my companion and I were happy to answer. It was a surprisingly good visit, she invited us to come back. We left her house and I kid you not, some lady almost ran me over with a motor cycle! I was really shaken up and totally surprised to be in yet another gospel discussion. My companion and I, right there, were able to talk to the lady that almost killed me, and teach her a principle of the gospel. She was very confused on our beliefs apologizing saying, “Casi le envié a su dios Jose Smith!” We responded to her with, “si casi me envió a mi Dios pero mi dios no es Jose Smith.” This opened our conversation once more, we were able to tell her about the restoration, we testified of it and while we were sharing our message another family came out to see who was talking or teaching and they stayed to hear our message and invitation. We invited all of them to pray and ask which of all the churches on the Earth were true. They accepted and the day we set to come back I was on interchanges in Guaimaca with Elder Bahena (my travel companion from Guatemala to the field). From what Elder Banda reported to me is that the churches they visit did not get a yes answer. They answered him saying that they would visit our church with us this next Sunday! They also, based on their feelings, accepted the invitation to be baptized on the 16th of December! I’m so grateful to my God that I could be used as a tool, along with my companion to help these people learn of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Today we are going back to teach them some more. I hope and pray that the Spirit accompanies us like the last time. 

Keep truckin’ and wish my companion and I luck!     

Our zone at a good restaurant, Oh Crepa. My order is normally about 134 lempira. I ordered a crepe with Nutella and whipped cream, with Strawberries and bananas inside.
Elder Sullivan and I at Oh Crepa!
This house isn't where we live. Passing by it I thought it looked pretty cool. It's one of the more expensive ones here. There are richer areas here in Juti. These are places that are definitely different than some of the other areas I've been in. It's kind of cool contacting in these areas, even though we get a lot of rejections... but every once in a while a ready person will find ya.
A sword at the house of our recent converts Claudia and Fransisco. We found it and thought we'd take some pictures with it.
Me wearing Claudia and Fransisco's moms hat with a very old sword!
I thought it was cool, I'm still that little boy when it comes to swords and stuff.

Our recent investigators: Ashley ( pregnant) 24 years old, recently married.
Daniela 22 years old, motorcycle driver. And Johana (31), Alejandra (13), Nixon (18) and Marcos the family. 

Monday, November 13, 2017

Week 46: uno n zero

So it’s crazy to me that it is almost half way through November! This week passed by super fast, I can barely remember what went on. 
On Monday after our cave adventure we went to a Family Home Evening night with a family Soleno. My camera had died so I wasn’t able to capture any photos.We had fun playing some games and sharing some spiritual thoughts. 
On Tuesday Elder Banda and I found some good people to teach. 
On Wednesday we visited the Soleno family again and it was another fun night. Thursday came, and I got some “good old” Olanchano food poisoning! Seriously, just like the old days when I was in Campamento. It sucks. 
Friday we had our district meeting. I ended up giving a talk about the role of the Holy Ghost in conversion. I don’t want to sound prideful, but I put a lot of time and effort on preparing it and it felt so good to get feedback from people, about how much they enjoyed it. 
Elder Valadez and Sullivan were in Juticalpa for district meeting, and baptismal interviews with the Hermanas... they missed the last bus that night and had to stay over night. We had a "sleep over". It was a lot of fun. We messed around and played Uno. The guys are really funny.   
On Saturday Elder Banda was super tired and kept dozing off. I had some fun with him.  I guess staying up until 11:30 takes it out of the guy. He was falling asleep in our morning lessons, I couldn’t help but laugh at him. He got a kick out of it too. 
Sunday was a super sad day. We were expecting to have a lot of people in church. Well, to our surprise and heartache no one showed up! We are going to re-plan and go at attendance a different way this next week. So that’s my week--a little stressful, but I have hope that this next week will be better. 

Spiritual thought of the week: 
When was the last time we bore our testimony? I thought about this as we were asked at the last minute to give an Elders quorum lesson on Sunday. tWe ended up speaking about the Book of Mormon and the importance of our testimony in the latter days. Elder Banda did a great job. He has a way of teaching that I absolutely love! He always gets the questions out that help you grow and to do a personal interview. So he asked the question, “When was the last time you bore your testimony?” I had to think, and gladly being a missionary I share my testimony daily. Elder Banda’s question got me thinking about before my mission too and I really had to think, and I’m sad to say, I barely ever did. I hope we can all be better and strive to answer that question the way I can now. The prophet has asked us to bear our testimonies often, because I know if we don’t we will lose it, and for me every testimony is worth more than anything. A testimony is something that grows from our experiences and study time where we have felt close to God. Things we cherish and love, how sad it would be to lose something so precious. I know I need to be better in bearing my testimony, and I hope all of us can do it more often in our day to day activities. It’s not just for fast Sunday’s like I used to think. It is for sharing in life moments of learning and conversation in our time. I love you guys and hope we can all be better in this.

keep truckin'
The other Companionship missed the last bus to Catacamas. They had to spend the night. We talked about our areas and played a little Uno.  (Thanks mom, it comes in handy.)
Roberts and Valadez
Banda and Sullivan
This is not summer camp! 

Monday, November 6, 2017

Week 45: glowing skulls?

The Caves of Talunga ~ Glowing Skulls
So this week was super busy!  On Tuesday we had our leadership meeting. We had to stay the night in the Divino (by my last area), sooo I got to see Elder Navarro and his new companion Elder Caal. Elder Caal is really cool and Elder Navarro is doing good. He seems different now that we aren’t companions anymore. He has grown a lot. I don’t know how to explain it. 

We visited Elder Navarro and his new companion Elder Caal in el divino. We spent the night at my old zone leaders place, Elder Sanchez and Elder Obando
They don’t celebrate Halloween here so I spent halloween contacting for new investigators after the leadership meeting. I look at it like a “backwards” halloween... instead of me knocking and asking for a trick or a treat I gave them something. I gave them pamphlets, not candy but it was something.  Something even more sweet!

Interchanges were on Wednesday. I went to Catacamas to work with Elder Valadez and we had a lot of fun. We ended up finding two people who were really positive and receptive. On their next visit they accepted a baptismal date for the 25th of this month! I'm super happy for Guayape because they have been kind of down in the dumps. They haven't been doing so hot, so these new investigators bring happiness. I'm happy for them and pray for their success. 
I am also hopeful for my area as well.  This week it was a little down because of our being gone to the leadership meeting, and then the interchanges too. So I look forward to this next week and what we can do. 

But other than that we had a lot of fun this week. Elder Banda and I were traveling as well. It’s fun to see and check-in on other missionaries who are new and are pretty cool. 
We also had a presentation in our multi zone meeting about improving our teaching skills. It was really good. I mean, I feel good about it and I learned a lot more about the teaching skills. 

This week we found a couple of good new investigators.  It was interesting... so we found this guy here in Honduras who has never been “baptized”... which is like 1 in 50,000 people who aren't baptized here, I swear. Well, his name is Aomner, and I hope that he progresses. He is 27 but honestly looks my age, it’s kind of crazy. But he's pretty responsive and I hope he progresses. 

Today for P-day activity we went as a zone to some caves here in Olancho. The photo’s explain our adventures. That’s all I have for this week! I didn't take my camera around too much, but I hope you like the photos ...because I really enjoyed seeing the caves.
Keep truckin'

A spiritual thought for this week: I want to center the thoughts I have on a scripture in Deuteronomy 18:20-21 about how if a man is a prophet and speaks and prophecies in the name of Jesus Christ (jehovah) and it comes to pass, that that man is a prophet, and chosen by God. I received a USB from my dad with a talk by Truman G Madsen about the prophet Joseph and I love it! It explains a lot about Joseph Smith’s life and it made me want to study in the Doctrine and Covenants. I came across section 87 where Joseph Smith prophesies of the civil war and closes saying "says the Lord amen". He prophesied of the civil war and it happened. Many other prophesies have come to pass, such as the prophesy in section 111 which talks about his journey to find "gold" in Salem. He didn't find literal gold, but he did find spiritual gold. There in Salem he finds many people prepared for the gospel and they accept it and become saints who later make the journey to Salt Lake to establish what is now a prosperous city. My point is the prophet Joseph in the perspective of Deut. 18:20-21 is a prophet of the Lord. He has proclaimed and testified in HIS name and it has come to pass. My testimony of the Restoration has been strengthened greatly by the talks of Truman G. Madsen as well as these passages of scripture. I know Joseph Smith was and is a prophet of the most high God chosen in the pre-mortal life before the world was. I sustain him with all my heart as well as one of his successors (our current prophet today), Thomas S. Monson. He is once again, a man chosen of the Lord, the man chosen to lead the Church of Jesus Christ in our time. Listen to his words as well as the quorum of the twelve, and the first presidency as it too is the word of the Lord. We have his voice in these men, chosen instruments to guide us, his children, to His eternal presence. I love the prophet and the Lord for restoring this church, the only true and living church of God. I love my family, as well as my 2 cousins for making the decision to go and serve a mission after their schooling. I know their choice has been guided by the Spirit and they will grow in this time in preparation for their service. I love my family and each of you! I hope and pray this message may help some of you in your trials-- I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, amen. 

We ate lunch at a members house, Hermana Sauceda's this week. 
Elder Banda reading Jesus the Christ... 
The youth at Hermana Sauceda's house wanted photos after lunch. 
Juan Lisandro, Juan Manuel, and Alejandra and Nelsy.  Nelly is a recent convert. 
The nieces of Hermana Sauceda
We met some cute monkeys that were leashed to a tree.
2  monkeys. They were really friendly. I'm thinking they were tied up so they wouldn't leave or be stolen. 
straight out of animal planet eh? we just chillin'
truckin' to the caves...
We had to hike from Catacamas to the caves which took about an hour.
the entrance of  Cueva del Rio Talgua
Elder Sullivan and I talked most of the way to the caves about movies and sports we like... etc. 
Single file the whole time. We had a guide but it was a rip off. She charged us 200 Limps --to hold a flashlight.

single file...

These might be the glowing skulls! nope.  We were told later that the sites where the bones were discovered are still under investigation. They do say that they aren't as old as Mayan. It's interesting though that all of the skeletal remains in the cave have been cemented to the ground by the calcite. The public cannot tour the part where the skeletal remains are.  bummer...
Missionaries: Valadez, Sullivan, Banda, Roberts, Da Silva, Laz, Latimer, and Gaez
t-rex in there?  Estalactitas or estalactitas?

glowing skeletal remains this way!
and we are through - we had fun after -  went to lunch - then we all went back to our areas

A side note this week: A lot was taught in our multi zone meeting about sacrifice and obedience from president. For me and for a lot of missionaries it helped. I know more than a few who have been little by little changing or tweaking the rules a bit. Even me, I’ve been using google Hangouts to converse with my parents almost every week during the last little bit of my email time on pdays. I've used it to explain photos and the like as well as have a little bit of a talk with my family. Well, this past week President exhorted us to not use it and to wait until he had it confirmed with the mission offices. I would be shocked if we can. I sincerely believe the answer will come back as a no. In the mission handbook it explains a lot about it. For this I'm in a repentance process as well as a lot of other missionaries in our mission.  I do believe that obedience to the rules brings safety, blessings, and success.