Monday, July 27, 2015

Week 28: Great Zone Conference!

Things here in Zacapa have been a little busy as of late. We had a really great zone conference with our Mission president and his wife. It was very instructive and he said things that we all needed to hear. President Crapo challenged us to sacrifice bad habits, things of the world, and to become "Men of God". Our mission is doing a fast for 40 days. Not from food, we are supposed to give up those things that keep us from being the best missionaries we can be.

My companion and I contacted a ton of people the first day of the week, like double the goal we all have in our zone. Now all we have to do is keep up with the appointments we have next week. I sat a few of the teens down that we teach and explained the plan of salvation to them with the whole picture method. Drew the cloud for pre-earth life, a world for our life now, a grave and sad face for death and sins, and the sun, moon, and stars for the degrees of glory. It helped keep them engaged. We had a good discussion about it. Elder T does a lot of good things for us and I appreciate him for that. These past two transfers we have practically shared everything from clothes down to food (just a few shirts mind you, not the whole wardrobe).

Things are certainly changing with the summer months here in Guatemala. We have a few tourist coming in every once in a while, and so everyone's in a buzz city side with selling things and offering deals. Its super awesome for me since I know what the price is normally so I don't end up paying too much. 
(Internet picture)
Guatemalan Street Vendor
(Internet picture)
Guatemalan fruit
I have come to love the changing seasons because of the fruit here. Peaches just started arriving here and so it is a sweet treat for me to eat now and then. That's one thing that is super cool here, we have just about every fruit, all at the peak of ripeness and when one fruit goes out of season a new one comes in.

As far as food goes there is always a new dish someone offers to us (and the members do feed us on occasion). Bishop today and few others every other day. This week money ran short early so the meals from members were really a blessing. But boy was I surprised when a long awaited refund from the mission office came in today. It happens to just cover our food and bus for the rest of the week. So all's well that ends well I suppose.

I am glad that you, dad and Krysten were able to visit your family in Texas mom, and that you were able to spend good quality time with all of your siblings. It sounds like it was a blast! I must say I am very impressed with the hard work and determination you three had to help out Grandma Daily fix up her house a bit. I am sure that she is oh so grateful for that as well as for the visit. 

Airport Flight board..Haha, I was not aware that all eyes were on Guatemala, I guess Id better keep my head up just in case I run into anyone I know.
We told Elder Perez that we spotted this flight board during our 3 hour lay over at the Houston airport. We were tempted to stow away and come visit him.
I too have felt a bit of the cleaning bug in the air this last week and with the hope of receiving a new refrigerator and microwave soon I have really deep cleaned the house, including the dishes, counters, appliances, and bedroom. I have not started the bathroom yet, which is the dirtiest thing I have seen in a while. Maybe I will attack it this week.

I am super glad that you, dad, Alexis and the kids made it home safely from sis’s BYU-I graduation. Wouldn’t you know it, running out of gas in Idaho, figures huh? It has happened to me like three times, so I can relate.
Your sister's BYU-Idaho graduation!
She earned her Bachelors in Public Health.
Sorry to hear about cousin’s husband having an emergency appendectomy. I will be sure to pray for them.

I will keep you up to date on everything and I hope you all will enjoy the rest of your summer together. I sure do love you all, thanks for your prayer, letters, and love.

My prayers are with you,

Elder Perez

Monday, July 13, 2015

Week 27: Talking Things Out Brings Peace

This week has been a real spiritual booster for me. My district leader and I went on divisions/splits last Friday and it did us wonders. Over these last few months we have had some misunderstandings between the two of us which had caused much unneeded stress and hurt feelings between us. Luckily this division really cleared things up. I had been sick all of last week, and had been really feeling lousy over the weekend. Elder Y and I had the chance to study together and during companionship study we discussed the friction that had built up between us. We immediately felt peace between us at the end of our talk, it turns out that we had both been making assumptions and were never confronting what was at the heart of our problem. We have come to an understanding and I have a lot of hope for our district now that we have talked things out. We are both looking forward to tomorrow’s zone conference. Love you all.

Elder Perez

Monday, July 6, 2015

Week 26: Mayan Ruins & Missionary Work on the Bus

Boy, has a lot happened this week. To start off, Monday our Zacapa zone and the Puerto Barrios zone met up and went to the Archaeological Park and Ruins of Quiriguá. It was a super fun p-day activity about an hour and a half away from Zacapa. Man it really felt as if I was walking across the old cities of the Lamanites.

Elder T and I started out strong this week with our lessons and contacting and we had some very rewarding experiences as a result. While contacting early in the afternoon we started up a conversation with a few strangers on the bus. Our conversations went very well and everyone seemed to know about missionaries in some form or another. One catholic lady reported that her daughter was Mormon but had not attended church in a while. She gave us directions on where to find her daughter and seemed excited at the thought of us reactivating her and her husband. Another conversation I had on the bus was with a less active member who lives in our area. I introduced myself as Elder Perez but either due to my accent or the noise of traffic she mistakenly heard Otto Perez. In response I jokingly said, yes I am indeed the president of Guatemala. The bus had a good laugh.

We have begun teaching a woman who is very interested in the church. She was referred to us by a member of the ward. This member has accompanied us to every lesson and the woman is making a lot of progress due to the support of her friend. It is amazing what others can do and I am very grateful for the interest in the gospel these two friends share.

One last fun experience has yet again been with some of the children we teach. Two less active children we have been working with have shown quiet some interest in my funny accent or perhaps my lack of vocabulary. At any rate, to keep these kids engaged I have attempted to be intriguing in the way I teach. This has resulted in the kids laughing at me, which I have been able to use to my advantage. I played along for some time until one of them turns to me and says, “You know something, you’re really funny.” It was a very unexpected yet kind compliment, especially seeing as how communication is always a struggle for me. And so yet another good week goes by here in Zacapa.

Love you all,
Elder Perez

Archaeological Park and Ruins of Quiriguá
Ceiba Tree
Some species of Ceiba trees can grow up to 230 ft tall.
The Maya civilization believed, Yaaxché, a concept of the central world tree which is often depicted as a Ceiba trunk.
Elder Perez standing by a Ceiba tree
 We Love our Missionary
Stela E is the largest stone shaft carved by the Mayan civilization in Mesoamerica. It was erected on 22 January, 771 AD.
North face of Stela E depicting Quiriguá’s ruler King K'ak' Tiliw Chan Yopaawearing a huge head dress and holding a "Maya maize god" scepter in his right hand.
Elder Perez & Elder P from Provo in front of Stela E. It is over 34 ft. tall and weighs over 66 ton.

Getting ready to pose..
A zoomorphic stone figure 
These figures represent mythological creatures in animal forms. Altar M above, created 15 Sep 734 AD, is said to be either the form of a cat, crocodile, or serpent. 
The Stela and Zoomorphic stone figures 
above are covered by canopies of straw to prevent their deterioration.
Missionary Selfie
Great Plaza of Quiriguá
Anciently the Mayan people of Quiriguá were a vassal state of Copán(Honduras). Copán maintained control of Quiriguá because it was located at the center of several important trade routes. K'ak' Tiliw Chan Yopaat, reigning lord of Quiriguá, ambushed and captured the powerful, but elderly 13th king of Copán, Uaxaclajuun Ub'aah K'awiil. The king of Copán was then taken to the Great Plaza of Quiriguá where he was decapitated in a public ritual. His blood was then used as a sacrificial offering, thus ending the long domination of Copán over Quiriguá.
Missionary Stela
Don't look Mom! he says...
He is going to give me a heart attack!
"I felt like old Samuel the Lamanite. Ironically, I read Helaman chapter 16 for personal scripture study this morning before the trip." 
Missionaries of the Zacapa and Puerto Barrios Zones
"What a thick Jungle, and oh so green!"
Elder V and Elder Perez