Monday, April 27, 2015

Week 16: This Week Has Been an Emotional Roller-coaster - A Death then a Baptism

What a crazy week it has been. By far this has been the top emotional roller-coaster of a week yet for us. 

Wednesday Elder S printed off a picture of sis, that mom posted on my mission blog, just to tease me. We began to wrestle for the photo. Elder S took 2nd place in wrestling for state and practically kicked my butt. But I got the picture from him, threw it out the window and held my ground keeping him locked inside. He couldn't get past me. It was really fun, super playful and chill and gave me a great feeling of brotherly bonding. I am grateful that President Crapo paired Elder S. and I together, I do not know if I would have learned as much from any other trainer my first twelve weeks.

We had to drop one of our very dear family investigators because the man would not commit to anything, nor would he attend the programs or alcoholics anonymous to overcome his drinking problem. It was super sad, my companion made me drop them and explained that if I can stop teaching a family that we are really close to then I can stop teaching anyone who isn't progressing. It was good for me, but it was super sad.

Friday came and with it some very sad news. One of our less actives who we had been working with closely had been missing for almost a month. That morning we received a call that his body had been found in a nearby water tank, most likely suicide. It was very disheartening news especially for me. We had been with him the night he went missing. He asked me for a blessing and I timidly gave him one. I had never blessed anyone before, let alone in Spanish. But the words came and I tried my best to bless him according to the Spirit. To discover that soon after he took his own life made my heart sink. We attended and spoke at the funeral and gifted his wife and family a few pictures we had taken of them just a month earlier at church. It was such an overwhelming experience, and then that to be followed by the baptism and confirmation of an convert. Really, I just don’t know how to feel exactly. 

Much more happened throughout the week, but these events are still heavy on my mind. 

Love you tons,
Elder Perez
Elder Perez, Convert, Elder S
First Baptism of Elder Perez's mission

Elder S. performed the baptism
Elder S. goes native 
Elder Perez, Guatemalans, Elder S.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Week 15: Investigator Acted Upon His Desire to Know the Truth

One of our very dear investigators is getting baptized next Saturday. He is a very righteous and curious man who has read, prayed, and truly discovered for himself that the church is true. Baptisms are rare here, and although we invite many to be baptized, it is not often that these individuals keep their commitments to be baptized. Doubt or marital problems arise, and it is sad to see some that are so close fall away.

I was reading last October’s general conference talks and read one talk in particular that really got to me. It said, casualness in spiritual matters never was happiness, make the church and the gospel your whole life, true success comes when you take responsibility for your own spiritual well-being by applying the Atonement of Jesus Christ daily. I am paraphrasing but it was good. 
(To watch or read the article Elder Perez is referring to click on the link below.):
Mom, all in all my health is fine, we manage well here and I am eating well.

Love you all a ton,
Elder Perez

Monday, April 13, 2015

Week 14: Young Woman Works Each Day to Support Her Brothers and Sisters

I recorded the conference sessions on my iPod so my companion and I have been listening to the talks almost daily.

The things our son doesn't tell us (found on Elder V's mission blog):

"Another crazy story I forgot to tell you about is that before the Saturday session of conference, in the morning we went hiking in this hill near our area, we took pictures and we decided to go down the hill a different way, so we started our descent and it is beautiful in the forest. So we get near the bottom of the hill and come out to a clearing where there is a warehouse and a house fenced in by an electric fence. Then 4 dogs came running out and start barking like crazy and want to rip us apart, but then we start circling the perimeter looking for a way out, and we see this armed guard with a shotgun come walking toward us, and as he is walking toward us he loads the shotgun and cocks it and yells "who are you!?" and we put our hands up and yell "we're missionaries!" and then he starts going off about why we are trespassing in a private property, and because of that he has the right to shoot us, etc. And we are just yelling "we are looking for a way out!" Haha it was scary and funny at the same time. Then finally the man showed us the way out. We hurried home, got ready, studied and then went to conference. I will always remember that incident when I watch conference now."

Well as far as your questions go, my investigators are doing so so depending on the day. One family is struggling health wise which is heart breaking. I gave the father a blessing, the first blessing I have ever given actually, but in it I just said that the pain and suffering he felt would be but a moment and then I talked about his family. I don't know, it was different and a little sad because of how much pain they are in.

We met with one young woman. We had contacted her maybe four weeks prior and now finally caught her when she was home. Luckily we had a member (from the congregation) with us at the time, which allowed us to enter the house. From conversations with her younger siblings in the past we had come to learn that all six of them were living together and struggling to make ends meet. Just one year prior both their mother and father had passed away due to illness. With this knowledge in mind we taught the young woman lesson two and focused on families lasting forever and what happens to us after death. I was able to address her parent’s death directly and I told her that I knew they were proud of her for working each day to support her brothers and sisters. We asked her to be baptized once she came to know our church was true and she agreed to be. We hope to set a date for her baptism next time but for now we are focusing on encouraging her to attend church.

Today for preparation day we are going to watch “Meet the Mormons" in Spanish, so that should be pretty fun. I already saw it in English in the CCM/MTC so yeah.

Thanks for your prayers,

Elder Perez
Great Missionaries
More great missionaries with Elder Perez

Monday, April 6, 2015

Week 13: General Conference!!

What powerful messages we received at conference this weekend. I really felt that my questions had been answered and that I can really focus on working on what is essential in missionary service. 
Saturday General Conference Preparation
vs Sunday General Conference preparation
Cool festival they did here Friday (to celebrate "Semana Santa" or Holy Week) where they put sawdust on the ground and dye it other colors as well as decorate it so that a procession of Christ has a path to walk on for the three days Christ was in the tomb. With this last week being Semana Santa many of our new and progressing investigators as well as members of our ward were out of town, so the week was a little slow on numbers. But we none the less had several great experiences where we felt the protecting as well as aiding hand of the Lord. One such experience was our run in with a very angry man on the street. He spoke very bitterly to us in English telling us to leave and that we were interrupting his conversation. Ironically enough we had not even approached the man nor had we attempted to talk with him at all. We were merely talking to a neighbor of his while he was across the street speaking very harshly to his family. My very wise companion spoke up saying that we would comply but that we had a message for him and his family. He gave all the women of the family a pass-along card and did not give into the intimidation this man was trying to inflict. Truly Elder S. was guided in that situation. As for appointments and lessons, we did have success throughout the week with some new people and families to teach. We shared videos about Christ, and even tracted into families who were relaxing for the week. All in all it was a rewarding Easter week and I am pleased with the progress that is happening here.

Thanks for everything,
Elder Perez
In Guatemala, there is a special emphasis on natural art, specifically sawdust rugs or alfombras. Mass amounts of sawdust is dyed into a variety of vibrant colors. Using large stencils, the sawdust is intricately arranged on city streets during Semana Santa to blanket the path of the regular processions.
Why the Scary Outfits?
The “Nazarenos” or “Penitentes” may initially catch Americans off guard, as their costumes resemble those worn by the Ku Klux Klan.The reasoning for wearing these costumes is completely different than that of the KKK. The Penitentes are seeking forgiveness for their sins, and the shape of the capirotes signify their penance and yearning to be closer to the heavens. They hide their identities as they mourn the pain and suffering of Jesus Christ on the cross. On Easter Sunday, each person removes his capirote in jubilation of Jesus's resurrection from the dead.
The Procession of Christ
Christ is represented lying in a glass box.

Women carry a float that commemorates Mary, the mother of Jesus. They willingly carry the burden of this float to symbolically share in Christ’s day of suffering.
Hey, are you OK?
It's just Elder S. taking advantage of a good photo op.
Aloe Vera Anyone!?