Thursday, May 23, 2013

May 20, 2013

Dear Everyone!
Well, here I am, in my second area, working hard! We have been working with our investigators and with the members of the branch, trying to invite everyone to come to our church meetings. That´s probably the hardest part of helping people get baptized is that nobody ever wants to come to church. The church is even in the middle of Centro, so it´s not even hard for the people to come. But we´re still inviting everyone to come. We had 27 people come this week, but we had an investigator family that my companion was teaching before I got here. We just have to work on the marriage papers and get all of the stuff ready for a wedding. That´s also a challenge here in my mission. Anyone we want to baptize has to get married first because everyone here just lives together, even after 10 or 20 years of being together, the couples won´t get married. So in our mission, we say that our work as missionaries involves an extra step: We find, teach, marry, baptize, and retain, as part our duty as missionaries. So that´s always fun. But we´re working with this investigator to help her get baptized. We have also found a lot of new investigators this week. I really feel like we are trying harder to find by the spirit, and we have found new investigators by listening to the guide of the spirit. It´s neat to see who has been prepared to hear our message. I´ve been a little bit sick this week, I think it was probably somthing that we ate, because my companion felt sick in the stomach too. On Friday morning, I slept in the morning instead of studying and then worked in the afternoon. I´ve been working normal since then, but I still am sick, but we have too many appts to take a day off to rest. But that´s alright, I´m feeling a little better today, but it´s been hard working while being so tired. It looks like I´m the official new primary teacher... I´m not sure how I feel about that yet.. I taught a lesson yesterday with the kids about keep the sabbath day holy... After my lesson, like during church, the kids left (with the permission of their parents) and went to the pulpería (little store like a gas station store) and bought treats, and then came back to my class. Fail. They will learn little by little, as their parents learn too, and teach them to obey the rules of the church. But I colored a really nice picture of some animals on a roller coaster with our crayons and colored pencils with the kids, and helped them paint apples and noah´s ark and pictures that we have here in the coloring books. So I guess that the class wasn´t a complete waste ;p
I´m going to keep finding more activities to do with the kids and learn new ways to teach them. If anyone has good suggestions, I´m definitely open to learning how to teach them simply. We sing songs and show pictures and stuff like that, but I have to keep them entertained for 2 hours straight in the same little room... Haha, it´s fun.
We also taught seminary this week. We have a teacher for the class, but she doesn´t really prepare the lessons, and just expects that the missionaries will come to help teach the class. We´re trying to help her (and the entire branch) become more independant, so that they know how the church functions, what we believe, and how to lead it by themselves. We´re basically starting from nothing right now. It´s crazy to figure out how everything works and to teach everyone else. But I´m learning a ton more too.
 Well, that´s all for this update.. I´ll add some pictures too, but I might have to send some in separate emails. I can´t send many pics per email...
Love you all!
Elder Ward
me and my first convert.
 The other people was his family (his brother and his nephew and niece...?) 
my zone right now.
the picture of cereal is too show that I was so excited to find cereal directly imported from the states one day, that I bought a huge box of Reese´s puffs. They are super tasty, but they were a tiny bit expensive...

Monday, May 20, 2013

May 12, 2013

Notes from Elder Ward's Mother's Day call:

They have 11 investigators in his new area. Yuscarán is a small town. He lives directly across the street from a park. It is about 8 km to the edge of his area. His companion just finished training and is a convert to the church. He likes his companion, and he said they get along well.

His new “apartment” is actually a room in the church. The church used to be a hotel. I think he said it is more modern than many buildings, but is still older and falling apart. He said the bathrooms there and in the other missionaries' apartment are like in the United States. In the kitchen, they have a microwave, a 2-burner stovetop, and 2 small fridges. He and his companion put a pull-up bar in a room downstairs, under the chapel, so they can have a workout room. Most of the time they have water, but not always. He said most faucets only have one handle—and one option: cold. Most people have buckets of water to store water—like 50 gallon buckets—because the water is so unreliable.

We asked what the neighbors thought about the missionaries. He said that they think the missionaries worship Joseph Smith, and they also think the missionaries are paid for their service.

There were about 25 people at church and about 85 baptized members. He taught Primary again. There were six children at the beginning, but some left before the end. If the people live in this village, the church is close for them, but for those living in other villages it is far away, so they don't usually come.

They did a Mother's Day activity either Friday or Saturday night. They encouraged the branch members to bring an investigator with them. He said they had lots of food, and it went well.

The elders make up the branch presidency. He is the secretary. There aren't a lot of worthy priesthood holders in the branch.

They spend a lot of their time running the branch: Meetings, interviews, etc. They are also the janitors, gardeners, etc. He thinks they probably spend about 1/2 of their time running the branch and 1/2 of their time doing mission stuff.

They were getting up early in the morning to have seminary, but no one was coming, so they are going to try having it in the evening.

He said his testimony has grown on his mission. It has been a gradual process through study and teaching.

He encouraged us to put pictures of Christ over the tape on packages we send to help them to get to him. He said packages often arrive banged up a little, but not too bad. He has received every package we have sent to him. The mail is a lot slower in getting to him now because they changed the way the zone leaders pick up the mail.

It takes 45 minutes by bus to get to the weekly zone meetings. It is 1 1/2 hours to the mission office in Tegucigalpa. He had to go there last Monday to sign papers so he could sign checks for the branch. Only he and one other missionary of the four in the area have residency. There are 6 missionaries in their district, 60 in their zone, and 250 in their mission. He has interviews with the mission president and zone conferences about every 3 months.

It sounds like he can get most things down there that he needs like toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, etc. They go grocery shopping on P-days and usually go to the little stores in his area. He compared them go a store you would see in a gas station here. If they want to do serious shopping, they have to go to Tegucigalpa. On P-days, they have to dress up in their missionary clothes if they go anywhere besides to exercise (like to go play soccer).

They plan to visit different villages in their area a couple of times this week. When we asked him if they speak different dialects in different villages, he said no.

His favorite food that he has had there is a fried tortilla with salad, chicken and guacamole. He said they eat a lot of eggs, beans and tortillas. In his last area, the members fed them a lot, but the members don't feed the missionaries in this area. This affects the amount of money they have to live on, but he said he is budgeting and doing okay.

For breakfast, he usually has cold cereal and powdered milk (he said he can't get milk from the store, but it only comes in liter bottles and is expensive). They either make something or go out to eat for lunch and dinner. He said it costs about $1.25 for a meal out at a local place there, but he prefers to make something at the apartment because it is even cheaper. He said the ice cream isn't good there. They don't sell any local chocolate that he has seen, but they sell American candy bars, and those are good.

He said he has been tired a lot in this area. They walk almost everywhere. He thinks it is because it is a bigger area than the one where he served in Tegucigalpa, so they are always running around going places/exercising more.

We asked him what animals he has seen. He said turtles, chickens (which roost in the trees), frogs, dogs, cats, pigs, and parakeets. When we asked if he had seen wild parakeets, he said no, they were pets.

At the end of the call, he bore his testimony to us, and that was so neat. He testified of the Savior and the importance of reading the Book of Mormon. It was wonderful to hear his voice and see his face! We miss him a lot! It is exciting to see the changes in him and hear of the experiences he is having! We are so grateful he has this opportunity to serve the people in Honduras!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

May 6, 2013

Well folks, it happened... I left my first area Reparto! 5 changes (7 months) was a long time there, and towards the end was a little tough, but I learned a lot there and feel like I have had a good influence on some people´s lives..
On Wednesday I was reassigned to the area of Yuscarán, Honduras, about 1 1-2 hours in bus below Tegus. It´s not a very big place, and there are definitely not as many members as my other area. We have a branch here, with 4 Elders serving in the branch, and one of them is the Branch President. There has almost always been Elders as the Branch President here in the Branch, because there is hardly any worthy priesthood holders. We had 30 people come to church yesterday in our meetinghouse. The other 2 Elders had left to bring people to church in the morning, so my companion and I started the Sacrament Meeting by ourselves without the President. It was interesting, as he presided and conducted, I led the music, he blessed, and I passed the sacrament, and we had a fast and testimony meeting with everyone there. Not very many people went up to bear their testimony, so all of the missionaries went up and bore their testimonies. After that, I went to teach Primary, with five kids, 11, 10, and 6 years old, and two toddlers under 2... That was interesting. I hadn´t expected to have to do that all by myself without any instruction, but I figured that it might be better than teaching a Sunday School class to a bunch of people. It was a little difficult. I was trying to read the manual for Primary while all the kids gathered around the table to color and draw their pictures. I taught a lesson to the kids for a few minutes and asked them questions to keep them involved, but with the different age groups it was a little tough. :P After a little while I let them color and played them some music from a CD and talked to them about what they were coloring and stuff. So it was alright I guess. I still have to improve my ability to teach kids in spanish because I assume that some of the vocabulary that I have in Spanish is more sophisticated than what the kids can understand. It´s very different being in a branch instead of a ward. We have to do a lot as missionaries here in this area. We don´t have leaders really pushing us along telling us what to do. We´re just 4 missionaries out in this little city away from everything else trying to lead the church properly. You have to know a ton about the order of the church to be able to lead the branch. We are reading manuals of the leadership of the church to know how to do everything right. We also have to set up a lot of the programs and activities of the church, Like we have mutual every week that we run, we do any activities during the week, like for mothers day we are going to do a Relief Society activity for the moms. We have started to do an early morning seminary at 5 in the morning, which means that I and my companion have to get up at 4:30 to go and get ready for that. Fun fun... Nobody came this morning though, so I don´t know how successful it will be, we only have like 7 or 8 youth in our branch.
My companion and I live in the church. We have a little room in the church building where we eat, sleep, and study. At first I saw the room and thought to myself ¨man, this is tiny, one little room to ourselves...¨ But then I realized that we have to whole church to ourselves. The church building used to be a hotel, so it has like 8 rooms (4 guest rooms), each with its own bathroom, so in the morning, I can choose from using any of our 6 bathrooms. We have 8 rooms, plus the chappel. The church is all private, we have a giant double wooden front door to enter in to the yard and then to each individual room. So we have the kitchen upstairs, our room downstairs, the office, a whole bunch of empty rooms, one that is perfect for me to work out in. I´m going to breakdance, and put up a pullup bar, and I can jump and have space to do stuff without making noise to annoy the neighbors. So it´s a nice little setup we have. And the best part of our house is that we have a water heater!!!!! That was the most exciting part of moving in to the new place. I showered for the first time in 7 months, with warm water straight out of the tap. It was undescribably beautiful. I almost cried. Every day now, I have so much apreciation for a shower that I don´t have to wait half an hour to warm up water and then pour water over myself from a bucket. I was very excited about that. What comes in second place for things that I am grateful for is that the other Elders, that live less than a block away from us, have a washer and a dryer! That is absolutely unheard of in Honduras, and I don´t know how they did it. Their house is huge, and super nice. They even have a couch and a table just for eating. All of their furniture came with their house, including the washer and dryer. So I don´t have to wash clothes by hand for hours and hours each week anymore either! And for the first time in 7 months, my clothes will become reaquanted with a dryer, instead of just leaving them outside in the sun to dry. I´m excited about that.
We´ve had some weird work days here recently, well just hours that I´m not used to working, like before we hardly ever went to work in the mornings, but now, we work more in the mornings and study when we have time in the afternoon, or if the power goes off at night. The power goes out all the time here in this area. Maybe it was from a big rain storm that we just had, but for the time that I´ve been here, we´ve had the power out more than it´s been on. But my flashlights been getting some good use (thanks mom for buying me a nice one). If we do anything at night I have to bring my flashlight in case the power dies. Also, this week I saw my first firefly! That was pretty exciting actually. They´re super cool. One night, when the power was out, we were walking down this street with my flashlight. We saw a couple of fireflies in front of us, so I turned off my flashlight. In the field to our side, there were like 20-30 fireflies shining their little lights all over, it was crazy cool, I had never seen that before. On Saturday, we were going to have a baptism for the other Elders. We don´t have a baptismal font in the church, so we went out in the woods to a spot that they knew of. We went to this little stream with a shovel to dig up part of a pool that had already formed in this little stream. We started building a dam under the pool, and I went upstream to unclog some of the rocks and gunk that was clogging up each pool of water in the stream. I felt very avatarish, for those of you that get that reference. But it was super relaxing to go up and work in this stream in Pday clothes and sandals to get it ready for the baptism (we ended up not having the baptism though..)
The area is pretty good. It´s big and we walk a lot. We have some investigators right now, which is good. We haven´t even gone out just to contact yet. One day this week, we went out at like 8 in the morning to walk to this little village way out in our area with the other companionship, and we left and walked for a long time to get to this little village, like 8 km away. (I don´t know how much that is in miles, I was just told that it´s 8 km and that it takes a long long time walking there) It was a nice little nature walk and we saw frogs and turtles and lizards and cool stuff on the way, probably because it had just rained really hard. We got to this village in the morning, and talked to this really old guy, who the other elders had met earlier when he randomly showed up to church. So we went to visit him and his family. His family is HUGE, and they all live in the houses (they´re more of little huts, we´ll be honest) round about his house. So we went with one of his kids to go and introduce ourselves to all of his family and to invite them to church this sunday. We met a ton of his family. He had like 8 kids, 30 grandkids and a ton of greatgrandkids that we visited. We invited them to church, and we arranged for a bus to come to pick them up on sunday morning and to take them back after church. The bus cost WAY too much, we ended up paying over $100 for only 6 people from the family to come to church. But we´re going to keep working with them to invite them to church more.
My companion is super chill, we get along great so far, a ton better than my last companion and I. We´ve been working hard together, and we´re learning a lot together. He is from Guatemala and he has 3 months in the mission, he just finished with his training in this same area. He is a convert too, so he has a super strong testimony about the gospel. We had a super good companionship study the other day, and we´re going to work on teaching him English. He is a little more willing than my last companion to learn, so we´ll practice more with that.
Well, that´s the new update for now. I am liking the area so far, and it is super chill. It is not dangerous at all, so I am taking my camera with me for all of our adventures. I´ve taken some pretty cool pictures, I dont have my camera cord to upload, so I´ll send some later for y´all.
Hope that everyone´s doing super good. Everyone remember to be grateful for hot water to shower with! I know that I am!!
Elder Ward

Sunday, May 5, 2013

April 29, 2013 Pictures

Cooking party‏

Well, I don´t actually know if it counts as a party if I was the only one there. I offered to make chimichangas for my companion, but he refused them! I was a little bit offended, not going to lie...
But that left more for me!
Chimichanga party!!
I finally gathered all of the ingredients and made them. Here´s some pictures.

The first one is a picture of boiling cheese. I don´t think that you have seen or made boiling cheese before, but I boiled my cheese in manteca (basically just buttery goop - vegetable shortening) and then added the cheese to my bean mixture to add to the tortilla and meat. It ended up pretty good. I´m getting a lot better at cooking now. :)

 Heres a couple of photos. I don´t know if you got the one with me on the rock last week or not, the email was a little weird last week.

The other picture is when I went on divisions this last week with an Elder from Guatemala.

Food, glorious food!
I don´t know if I already sent this first picture.
I´m getting better at making food. The picture at my desk is fried rice that I made with carrots and chicken. It was delicious, but a little greasy. Most of the time I don´t cook this fancy, but occasionally...

Thursday, May 2, 2013

April 29, 2013

What Dominican Republic Mission is Michelle going to? I have a friend from my ward here that just got his call there, and I wonder if they´ll be in the same mission...
I haven´t made any of the food mixes yet. And you can´t really buy them at the stores. There are a few soup mixes here that I´ve used, but not other types of mixes. For the last couple of weeks I haven´t bought much food from the store because I´ve been trying to eat all of the food that has been collecting up in my house to get rid of it all before changes this week so that I don´t have to haul all of that food to my new area..
I do like the alfredo sauce mix though, I made that the last time you sent me them and me and my companion both liked that a lot.
We have a few investigators right now.. But not a ton.
The kid that we baptized and his dad invited us over to watch a church movie on saturday, and they ordered pizza for us, which was super tasty.  When his dad found out that I am leaving he invited us over again tonight to have donuts and a FHE. So that should be good. I like that family. I have also visited a few other member families that know that I´m going to leave, and they all are super nice and have said how much they´ve apreciated me helping them. It´s kind of interesting to see how I´ve helped some of the people in the ward, and that they´re grateful for our visits and friendships.
I´m pretty sure that I´m going to leave this wednesday, so that should be good. I´ll let you know about all of the changes next week...
I hope that all is going well there,
Elder Ward