Guatemala City North Mission

...let us labor diligently: for if we should cease to labor, we should be brought under condemnation for we have a labor to perform whilst in this tabernacle of clay, that we may conquer the enemy of all righteousness, and rest our souls in the kingdom of God. Moroni 9:6

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Trip to Salama

Yesterday we traveled to Salama. The roads are beautiful in that there are trees lining them and the hill sides are green and occasionally you see the beautiful women dressed in their beautifully colored cloths. I always think about the Book of Mormon and the descriptions of "the land Bountiful." Surly this land with its many flowers, waterfalls, rivers, trees, plants, birds and wild life could be called such.

We arrived in Salama, a little town with a Catholic Cathedral that has an alter inplated with 18K gold. Green and lush, up high in the mountains. It has a small chapel that has quite a bit a land around it, where you can see that the church is thinking ahead to build on to the existing building to fit more people. We spoke with the caretakers and they told us that the building is already too small, that the priesthood have to hold their meetings outside. We had a short meeting with the Elders and one pair of Sisters. I spoke to them about companionships and The President spoke to them about having the Spirit to be with them and their purpose. The Assistants Elder Hatch and Elder Burnham also spoke as well as their Zone leader Elder Cozzins. We then interviewed each missionary. I did it in the chapel, just pulling one missionary aside and the President was in one of the classrooms for his interviews. I am trying to learn something personal about each missionary so I can call them by name and truly say that "I know them". We have been so impressed with out missionaries. They work so hard each and every day. We pray for our missionaries and ask you to do likewise.
After our interviews I went to visit the living quarters of the missionaries in Salama. It is interesting to see the faces of the Elders when they hear me say, "Lets go see where you live Elder." I have really been impressed. I am not saying that the rooms would make it to the cover of Better Homes and Gardens, but they do not have cloths on the floor and everything is in the right place. I check for food and bath facilities. Their beds are made and they have a clean study area.

We drove the Hermanas to their village which was about 1/2 hour away from Salama in a city called Jeronimo. It was even smaller than Salama, but we have a chapel there. The President had a meeting with the priesthood there so I went out to do proselytizing with the hermanas. We went to visit one of the families they were working with.

We returned to Guatemala at midnight. This weeks commemoration of Pioneer Day reminds us that we are not the only ones who have had to sacrifice for the kingdom. Many have, and many more will. Today we have a stake conference and a missionary activity in another stake that we will attend, so I must hurry and go, but I wanted you to know how my heart swells with humility and gratitude for the experience of being here and most of all for the confidence the Lord has placed in both of us, that we are capable of doing this great work. Pray for us, for we truly need your prayers every minute of every day.

First Change Day

Tuesday June 22 at 3pm we finished our first series of changes. Yesterday we said goodbye to 10 of our best missionariew two hermanas and 8 Elders one of them, Elder Mertlick from Utah was one of my APs in whom we had grown very close to. Our day started at 7 A.M. with a meeting in one of the Stake Centers where 25 interviews were done after which we had all of the leaving missionaries to the mission home for an enchilada dinner which your Mom prepared. It was great! Unfortunately while I was interviewing Hermana Torres was, as she puts it,"On play ground duty for 4 hours."

But she did a good job and no one was out of countrol or misbehaving. After dinner we had a testimony meeting and shared experiences. We didn't finish until close to 7:30 p.m After all that we went shopping for more food. Funny how the Elders depleat the food supply. Then at 9:15pm off to the airport to pick up Hermana Lott from St. George who we were able to meet before we left the MTC. This morning at 6am it was off to the CCM to pick up the remaining 8 missionaries.

While there one of the Sisters who was going home asked the Hermano taking her to the bus station to stop so that she could see me one more time. She told me she didn't want to go home, which reminded me of someone, so I gave her a fatherly hug and said goodbye.

This morning we had training at the mission office where I also interviewed each of our new missionaries. At 1:00 we came to the Mission Home for a wonderful lunch of BBQ pork sandwiches , carrot sticks, salsa & chips, salad, pina, watermelon, cake and ice cream and of course everyone loved it. Then we sent our missionaries off after a short testimony meeting. For that dinner she fed 27. It is amazing how the Lord is helping us in doing this work there is no doubt that He leads and guides us.
This week end we will be speaking in two sessions of Stake Conference, having a stake missionary training with ward leaders as well as going to Salama to see how things are going there with some struggling Branches . But I just got word that Dolores where we went to on our 2nd weekend in Guate reported attendance of 34 (they had been getting only 12 or 6 there) and the District President wants me to consider a young man who I will be releasing as a full time missionary tomorrow as the new Branch President. That is why I've told our missionaries to teach their Latino companion English because this missionaries will certainly move right into leadership positions.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Joy of Missionaries

We hadn’t been here long before we set out on a whirlwind tour of the Mission. It was our blessing to visit with the missionaries here in the Capital and then journey to Coban, Polochic, and the Petén and then Hermana Torres and I went to Poptún and Dolores. In each and every area we felt the love and concern of our missionaries and more particularly your love for the Lord and this wonderful work.In several of the areas that we visited I noticed that when we entered the chapel where the missionaries were waiting for us a hush fell over the room. Everyone stood up as a sign of respect for our office. This brought to mind the love which Hermana Torres and I developed for our own Mission Presidents and Mission Moms. But then I thought of how each of you has been blessed to have had President and Sister Coleman be your President and mission Mom. What a wonderful work they did for us but this only compliments the work which you are each doing. You serve day and night which reminds me that “when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.” (Mosiah 2:17) Our hearts have been touched; thank you Elders and Hermanas for the memory.Upon our arrival in Coban I was stuck by the unique make up of the people of the city. Here we have a Stake of Zion which was created on the 29th of October of 1995 this taking place almost forty years since the first baptism in the area. While there we visited the great family Patriarch of the Ovalle family. He had decided that he no longer wanted to go the hospital and only wished to remain at home. In that home we knew that we were in the presence of greatness. Here was a man who was a pioneer one of first members in this area. On the wall of the home was a picture of Hermano Ovalle in his white shirt and tie. The uniform of a Priesthood holder of the Lord Jesus Christ.I was reminded of our missionary purpose as found in Preach My Gospel which at the end declares in all solemnity inviting all to come unto Christ and “endure to the end.” Another way of saying it is to have our “garments spotless, in the kingdom of heaven to go no more out.” (Alma 7: 25) What joy two missionaries are having as they realize one of their baptisms has endured to the end and is now “in the kingdom of heaven no more to go out.”While on our tour we visited 5 apartments of our missionaries. Each and every one of the rooms was neat and clean and we could see that in those apartments the Spirit of the Lord resides. What a wonderful thing it is when a missionary has learned to be submissive to the Lord in even this thing. Can there be any doubt but that the Lord will bless those missionaries who have shown faithfulness in these areas with the blessing of receiving new converts who are so precious in His sight.What marvelous joy comes to us as a result of faithful service in His work. There can be no doubt in our minds that our task is much like the Master Himself suggested, “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matt: 11: 30) He loves His lost sheep here in Guatemala so much that He has sent us to find them and with His help nothing is impossible.