Monday, August 31, 2015

Week 33: We Don't Need to be Perfect to Pray and Read the Scriptures

District and zone meetings always are great fun, just yesterday our zone had a very inspiring reunion where I felt a renewed sense of confidence in my ability to contact and teach effectively. Our last district meeting we did an activity called “Christ is the Reason”. Or I think that’s it in English, no se... But it was great. We all closed our eyes while our district leader read out load the activity. It helps you imagine and understand Christ’s love for you individually and Elder C and I have already used this very activity in several of our lessons with members.

We ran into a young man the other day who is very intuitive and a great listener (especially when it comes to my turn to share). His mother is a member of six years more or less and this is his first time listening to Elders. Just yesterday we stopped by for our next appointment to find him a little unsure if he wanted to continue listening to us. I was unsure what to do but my wise companion was persistent and refused to go without knowing why. He told us he didn’t feel worthy to read, nor pray and boy did we have an answer for that problem. Elder C shared two inspired scriptures which changed this young man’s mind. Great experience, loved being part of it.

The week has gone by with some new investigators and a lot of prayer. I have been reading a lot of talks as well as scriptures. We had a multi mission conference with Elder Nelson the doctor one and it was great, although we only got to listen over broadcast because he was in El Salvador. Our zone has a temple trip this Thursday morning.

Ha, ha, awe that’s too funny that Elizabeth Steele said that she met some Latin missionaries in her mission that were in the Guatemala Missionary Training Center with me. I am glad to hear that they all said they really liked me. Honestly, I don’t remember one of their names. How sad is that!!! I was trying to make friends with all of the Latinos during my time in the Missionary Training Center that I never did memorize one of their names. I feel so bad. I only remember Robin who I gave one of my sets of Batman & Robin socks to. He is in a neighboring mission here in Guatemala.

Love you all and thanks so much for your prayers support and emails,

Elder Perez
PS Tell Elizabeth Steele I say hi, and good luck with school this January

Monday, August 24, 2015

Week 32: Obeying the Rules and Working Hard

It was no big deal to throw a birthday party for Elder T, we all put it together, not just me. Had fun doing it too because we pulled a little prank on Elder T (we all carried him into the bathroom as if to give him a swirly. I was carrying his upper half and it was all in good fun, we didn’t actually give him a swirly though.

Thanks for the home town update, I didn’t think Oregon was getting hit with that same heat wave as CA gets from time to time, yikes it must be a little frightening being so close to those wildfires. Glad to hear the wards doing good! I just got a letter from CTR 5 it was a sweet surprise that came with three hand drawn pictures. I wrote the reply today and sent a picture of the first page of the letter to Lexi in hopes that she could forward it to Sister Rice.

My companion and I are obeying the rules and working hard. We do have a good little group of investigators we have been working with, but not many are progressing. We have found a few new people however who seem to be interested in our message, one 16 year old girl whose boyfriend is a return missionary. Can’t say I am thrilled to be teaching them since they are very much in a honey moon state of mind. We are teaching her the best we can and are trying to help her make this decision for herself and for the right reason (kind of hard when her boyfriend is holding her hand all throughout each lesson).

We started out the day late as a zone so we have less time to write you all... Stressful!!! But say hi to everyone for me and congratulate Brother Sean Hawkins on his knew calling for me.

Much love,
Elder Perez
Just got a new haircut.
We like your hair cut Elder Perez
A member from the Alameda ward that met up
with Elder Perez when he first arrived in Paraiso

Monday, August 17, 2015

Week 31: I Shared Your Conversion Story Mom

My companion and I are working hard here. Dad you mentioned that for many, modern-day science has become the "idle" that has replaced God. I ran into such a man just yesterday who has taken the lessons, read the Book of Mormon and Bible, yet just will not believe in God. He has never read a book more than once and unfortunately only sees them as biblical and religious teachings.

One story I really want to share with you is super cool. We started teaching a 17 year old less active girl whose mother is Catholic. The girl doesn’t attend church because her mom forbids it. I was able to share your conversion story with her and it seemed to touch her. She looked more confident after hearing of your bravery and the mission you later served. She wants to do likewise and be bold but loving with her mother. I also had her read 1 Nephi 1:1 and insert her own name in place of the name of the prophet Nephi’s and the word “mother” instead of father.

1 Nephi 1:1 
“1 I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father; and having seen many afflictions in the course of my days, nevertheless, having been highly favored of the Lord in all my days; yea, having had a great knowledge of the goodness and the mysteries of God, ...” 

I explained that her mother is trying her best and that she is really fortunate to have been born in her circumstances. I then had her read 1 Nephi 3:7 and asked that she do the same as before.

1 Nephi 3:7

 “7 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.” It really seemed to ring true to her."

It turns out my last companion Elder T is in my zone so I rallied the troops, and our entire zone threw him a birthday party. It was super fun and we all had a good time. I was happy he had a proper party.

I love my area here because it is next to my first area I served in! I do miss Zacapa though; I miss the people there as well as the food. The food is tasty here in zone 18 but it often makes you sick. Not to say that you wouldn’t get sick off the food in Zacapa, it’s just that the food in Zacapa was worth getting sick over.

The weather here is very cold to me, just because I became accustom to the heat of Zacapa, plus it has started raining here over the last few days. The worst part about the cold comes every morning when I have to shower!! We don’t have heated water!!! Practically everyone here does but us. I don’t know why we don’t but I hate showering now!! Before in Zacapa the heat was so intense that the cold water felt very good and enjoyable, it was a nice way to beat the heat. Here NO....

Alexis I am so very excited about your having a baby in a few months!! I talk about you every time I see a little baby. I say, “My sister is pregnant with her 3rd right now.” “Oh does she live far from here? They reply... Ha, I am actually blending in at times!!

That is all for now.
Much Love,
Elder Perez
Oregonian Elders!!!!
Happy Birthday Elder T!!!
Elder Perez is blessed to have fun missionaries in his zone.
It must be a tradition to break an egg 
on the birthday persons head in Guatemala.
Luckily most of it didn't get on his head.
Enjoying the festivities. (:
Food brings unity.
We forgot candles so we improvised 
and lit a bunch of matches. 
GOAL!!, we got the matches to light!
Good thing they didn't burn the cake and the building down.

Week 30: I Am Now Serving in Paraiso 1 Zone 18!!

I am now serving in Paraiso 1 zone 18, like a five minute walk from Alameda, the first area I served in! Elder C from Chile is my companion. He is such a good example to me and I truly feel as if we will help bring about miracles to Paraiso 1.

The Paraiso 1 ward meets in the same building as Alameda!!!! Alameda meets downstairs, we meet upstairs. It is a good size ward for here. And I have met a ton of new people this last week! Many kids have begun asking for words in English and we announced the piano class idea to the ward, many sound interested! Hopefully we will combine with the Elders of Alameda to teach ever Saturday at 10 am for one hour. It is a big project but I am confident we can be successful.

I must admit I was sad to leave La Reforma and saying goodbye to those we were teaching was a bitter sweet experience. That next morning I left for the capital feeling hopeful and on the bus ride over I had a wonderful experience. About 15 minutes into the 3 hour ride a man got on the bus and sat beside me. I greeted him and we struck up a conversation. It was casual and friendly and it wasn’t until about 7 minutes into our conversation that I brought up the gospel. It was a nice relaxing break from other rushed contacts I was used to giving due to lack of time and others busy schedules. It turns out that this man had lived in Canada for around 8 months for work and while he was there he was taught about Nephi by two faithful Elders up North. I began teaching him about the story of Nephi and briefly explained the Book of Mormon. I could really feel the spirit as we talked. His questions were sincere and my answers usually included a scripture. It was amazing how I felt so confident and at ease despite my difficulties with Spanish. By the end of our discussion which addressed at least 3 of his biggest concerns about our church, I decided to share one more scripture with him.

Mosiah 18:8-10
"8 And it came to pass that he said unto them: Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;
9 Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life—
10 Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you?"

Much thanks to Lauren who shared this scripture with me in a letter while she was serving in New Mexico, I love you sis!!! It fit in perfectly with what we had been talking about and so I explained baptism to him and what this covenant really means for each member of our faith. The spirit was strong and tears were brought to my eyes as I promised him that if he chose to be baptized in our faith that his life, his family, and all around him would be blessed beyond measure. We exchanged information and it turns out that my new found friend lives in Alameda, but often travels outside of the capital for work. Imagine my surprise when I found out that I would be serving in an area right next to where he lives. I called the missionaries in his area and gave them his contact information. I am excited to hear if they have success.

Love you all,

Elder Perez
Elder Perez saying goodbyes to Bishop
from the Zacapa ward & his family, 
his companion Elder T, and a ward member.
Elder T, Ward Member, Elder Perez up close and personal.
Elder Perez's new companion from Chile!!!
(Message to 3yr old nephew), Uncle Brenden is still taking Umi Zoomi car with him to his new areas.
Elder Perez and his companion helped
a member paint a room in their house.
Next is what came to my mind as I saw each picture.
It doesn't have to stink.
It doesn't have to be boring...
You don't have to hide from working.
When you get worn out just take a break.
Have fun!!!...
and you will end up with something to proud of!!!!
The POWER of NUTELLA!!!...
When you SHARE.
You know you are confident and happy when you can have fun on a playground and you don't worry 
what people think of you.
I bet you never thought a slide could be comfortable.
Rain on a bright summer day?
More Rain!!!
Hail! It burns us!! 
as Gollum from Lord of the Rings: Twin Towers said.
They made sure to go out prepared next time.
Elder Perez's goofy companion, ha ha ha!
It helps him focus while he's talking to the zone leaders. (:

Monday, August 3, 2015

Week 29: The Most Spiritual Experience of My Mission thus Far

Unfortunately, our area is being whitewashed. I think my companion and I are headed for different parts of the capital. I am sad that we won’t be together for another exchange. I was looking forward to celebrating his 22nd birthday with him the 14th of August. I hope that his next companion does something special for him. Anyway so today I am all packed and ready to go.

We celebrated a birthday with one of our less active families this last week. This sweet little girl turned 9 and she is our biggest fan. We even have a best friends special handshake! Her and her sisters are new members of the church so we often visit with them in review of the lessons they learned before baptism. There family is very sad to hear that both Elder T and I are leaving and so we are planning on going over there tonight. I am almost certain that more then a few tears will be shed by both these little girls, the family, as well as from Elder T and I. I recently received through mail several "For the Strength of Youth" pamphlets from church headquarters. I was happy they arrived since I asked for them awhile ago. Anyway tonight we are planning on teaching this pamphlet and saying our goodbyes. I love this message in particular because I read "For the Strength of Youth" pamphlet often as a teenager and it really pulled me through a lot of those tough times. I am hoping this will do the same for these three sisters.

As for my day to day contacts, I have a few fun stories to tell. I have really been working at talking more with others on the bus, in the street, and door to door. It is not always the easiest thing when your accent screams foreigner, but people have been courteous and gracious to me none the less. So one day in particular about a week and a half ago I was having a really bad day. One of those days that makes you doubt. Here I was, the last appointment of the evening, waiting outside the door of a member home. We had knocked several times with no answer. As I sat on a near by bench waiting for the family to come to the door, a drunk man walked up to me looking pretty trashed from what I can only assume was a few days of heavy drinking. He, trying to speak a mix of mumbled Spanish and a word or two in English, asked me if I was a missionary. I said yes and handed him a card with our number. I said call us if you need something. I then took two more steps to the door we were waiting at, hoping that he would leave. To my dismay this man continued to talk to me, and by this time our member was at the door. Whether by his persistence or perhaps due to the tears in his eyes I listened to him. He asked if I would pray for him. I said yes I will remember you in my prayers. He then, right there on the spot knelt down and with begging eyes looked up at me. I knelt down, asked his name, and offered a prayer on his behalf. At that very moment, my heart changed. I knew that there was no were else I was supposed to be at that moment than kneeling down on the sidewalk with a brother and child of God pleading for help. I can honestly say that this was the most spiritual experience of my mission thus far, and it brings tears to my eyes just thinking of it. The man left after the prayer, and all I have is his name. But I will never forget the rallying cry I felt within my soul as I realized that I am not here for myself, but for them.

A few days later in a district meeting I was censured in front of the other missionaries by one of the Elders in a embarrassing way for something I was doing. I knew that this missionary was correct in telling me I was in the wrong, but I could not get over the fact that he had done in such a demeaning way. I brooded for most of the meeting and my answers to our district leaders questions were quick and unfeeling. Wisely my district leader did not give up in trying to bring back the spirit. He was persistent with his questions to the class and asked us each to share a personal experience of contacting (which was the topic of the lesson). Each shared their story, and at last it came time for me to share. This experience of just a few days earlier came to my mind and I told it with tears in my eyes. I felt at peace after that and was no longer offended or angry. After the class, the Elder who had censured me stood in front of everyone and shared one last story about some struggles back home. After this he turned to me and said, If I offended you in anyway I am truly sorry. It was not my intention and I ask your pardon. I was stunned. This was the last thing I expected. I accepted his apology and offered mine about what I had done wrong during the meeting. I have the highest respect for him because of this. To be so humble and insightful truly touched me.

Guess that's all I can share for today. I love you so very much mom. Dad says you and him have been hard at work. I am super happy for your desire to build up the business. 

Ha,ha,ha! Lexie, I read your email and totally thought it was mom! You are a natural mother I just felt as if I had received a sweet extra email from mom! Truly I see our mother in how you write and more so in how you care, love, and serve. 

Much love and hugs for the little ones and everyone!
Elder Perez
"Birthday girl on her special day. 
We had pizza for dinner with the family"

Elder T and Elder Perez letting the pizza settle in.