Beautiful Guatemala

Beautiful Guatemala
Me with a random field worker. I love the knife!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Traditions in Guatemala

Hola y Feliz Navidad!

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas! I had a great Christmas too! Thanks so much to the YSA Branch for sending such a thoughtful package and letters! Oh it just made my day! You guys are the best!! Thanks for remembering me and for all your support! I also LOVED talking to my family last night! Agh so awesome! K here's what happened this week in Mazatenango

1. Christmas traditions here in Guatemala! Christmas was pretty different here. Here are a few of the traditions:
-- Tamales and ponche -- Everyone eats tamales on Christmas, similar to Mexican tradition, but the tamales here are very different. They are a lot wetter, and they have things like chicken (with the bone), raisins, date nuts, olives, and other random things in them. They're not my favorite, but I liked them alright. Everyone also makes ponche, or "punch", which is very similar to cider, its a hot drink made with cooked fruits like pineapple, apple, coconut, etc etc. It yummy!
-- Fireworks! -- Everyone waits up until midnight on Christmas eve, and then at midnight everyone in the neighborhood shoots off fireworks, and I don't just mean little ones. There were lots of big regular-sized fireworks. It was fun because they were going off in all directions, really loud, colorful, and smoky. When I told people that in America we don't wait up til midnight and use fireworks, they all were shocked and thought that American Christmases must be really lame ha-ha.
--Pine needles -- I'm not really sure why, but part of the Christmas tradition is to spread pine needles all over the floor of their houses. Messy, right? That's something that my family tries to avoid ha-ha. 
-- New clothes -- Receiving and wearing new clothes on Christmas eve is a really big deal here. There aren't many presents for anyone because everyone is poor, but just about everyone had beautiful new clothes on Christmas eve and then Sunday morning for church. Earlier in the week we even went with Isabel, our new convert, and her granddaughters, to buy them new clothes. Luckily my comp is from here and understands the traditions, because I would have had no idea that getting new clothes is a big deal.

On Christmas eve, since we live with a family, we were able to stay up late and celebrate with them. It was really fun, it really seemed like a time of sharing and spending time together. What a nice blessing it was to spend Christmas with a family, even if it wasn't with my own.

We also had the ward party earlier in the week, where someone donated 4 pigs to be slaughtered and cooked up (sorry mom he-he). There were clowns to host a little show for the kids, good food, and some of our investigators and recent converts were able to attend. Awesome!

2. Baptism of Mario!! On Sunday a guy named Mario was baptized. Hes the boyfriend of a girl in the ward, Hermana Stevens and I taught him a few months ago but he didn't feel ready to be baptized. My comp now, Hermana Baca, had never even met him, but he was baptized and it was a beautiful baptism. He really seemed ready to make covenants with the Lord, and he wasn't just getting baptized for his girlfriend.

3. Familia Hernandez: These guys are hopefully getting baptized tomorrow!! A family! Hooray! The wife is still a little indecisive about it but were visiting her tonight and really hoping and praying that she can feel good about it like she did before. Her husband is totally awesome. It has been such a pleasure to watch his change through reading the Book of Mormon and praying, just as simple as that. Wow. So I'm really really excited and anxious about tomorrow. I know that we as missionaries have done all we can do, and now its in the hands of the Lord and the family. 

So that's what I did this week! It was a great week and I'm really glad to be here. On Sunday a girl in the ward received her mission call and read it out loud (to Chile), and me and my comp were both crying because we were remembering when we received our calls, the special feelings that we had and still have. I am so so grateful to be on a mission, its such a special blessing to be a missionary. These words don't describe very well my feelings, but I am so grateful. I love the Gospel. I know that it is true and that we have the Gospel of Jesus Christ on the earth today. How amazing is that!? I love my Savior Jesus Christ and am grateful for His sacrifice for me so that I could have the opportunity to come down to earth, experience and learn so many things. What a wonderful plan our Heavenly Father has for us. I love the Gospel and I love being a missionary! Have a great week and break from school! Thanks for your prayers and support!

Love, Hermana Gilland

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Feliz Navidad!

Feliz Navidad! I cant believe it's Christmas on Sunday! What the?! Here's how this week went:

1. Isabel got baptized!! Isabel, the woman who had to quit smoking, successfully quit and was baptized on Saturday! Yay! It was great. She seemed really happy afterwords when everyone was welcoming her into the ward. She finally has the support that she needs, the church! And she also has the gift of the Holy Ghost now to comfort her even when things seem impossible in her life.  

2. Christmas banquet! We had our mission Christmas party/lunch thing today. It was really fun to get together as the whole mission. There was a variety show where several missionaries did dances or sung, and then a fancy lunch. Its been a really long time,since before I got here, that I've eaten a fancy meal. Ive forgotten some of my table manners, and I hardly knew what to do without a tortilla in my hand ha-ha. It was a really fun event and I'm grateful to everyone who worked hard to plan for it. 

3. My comp. Hermana Baca was sick a bunch this week, so I did divisions a few times with a 15 yr old girl in the ward. Kind of sketchy, right, but that's how we do it out here. Even though I felt bad that my comp was sick, it was a really good learning opportunity because everything was up to me in the lessons we taught. The pressure was on, and things turned out alright. I still have a whole lot I need to improve on, but its coming. It was a really nice chance to prove to myself that I really can do this mission thing, with lots of help from the Lord of course.  

4. I continue to see that as missionaries, we really don't have much to do with what happens with our investigators. Of course we always have to be working  hard, but so much of the changing in the investigators happens between the lessons. That's whats happening with familia Hernandez, a family we've been working with for a few weeks. The wife has always been pretty positive, but the husband wasn't so much until recently. I don'tknow what changed in him, but when the girl and I were having a lesson with him last week, he just talked about how good he felt at church, how hes been praying a lot, and how he wants to be baptized and doesn't want to wait! And that he wants to do this with his wife, as a family! Wow!That's music to a missionary's ears! I about fell off my bench again ha-ha. He wanted to be baptized this past weekend but had to go out of town for work, bummer. Were hoping they'll be baptized this Sunday! In Central America they celebrate Christmas on the 24th for some reason, so here it doesn't count as being on Christmas, but it would be a great Christmas present to me! Oh I hope things work out with them!!!  Also, we have another guy that might get baptized on the 23rd. Hes the boyfriend of a girl in the ward, and he doesn't live here so we never get to meet with him, my comp doesn't even know him. But his girlfriend told us on Sunday that he wants to be baptized on Friday. Sweet!! We're definitely hoping that these things work out, what an awesome Christmas week it would be!

I'm so grateful for the Gospel. I know that the true Gospel is on the Earth today. I know that it can change peoples lives. I have no idea how all that works. I have no idea how the Spirit can comfort people in the face of such hard trials, how it can help me to speak Spanish, how it can help me every day to be just a little bit better. I know that Christ lives. I know that He is our Savior and that He loves each of us so very much. I love the Gospel and I love being a missionary. Have a wonderful Christmas everyone! 

Love, Hermana Gilland

Monday, December 12, 2011

Temple Dedication

Hello everyone! Hope finals are going well for everyone. Here's what I did this past week:

1. Temple Dedication! The temple dedication was yesterday! We watched from the stake center and got to see all 3 sessions. Pres. Uchtdorf dedicated it, with a translator. Elder Anderson was also there. It was beautiful to hear the words of General Authorities directly to these people. One quote they kept referring to (though I cant remember who originally said it) was that each temple that is dedicated lessens the power of Satan on the Earth. Awesome! 

2. Cultural Celebration! Saturday night was the Noche Cultural that was presented to Pres Uchtdorf and the world in celebration of the Temple. We got to watch via satellite (it showed on BYU TV international, I think you could probably find it on the BYU tv website if you re interested) It was really special. The youth from stakes all around presented different dances and presentations, wearing traditional clothes and everything. They've been practicing since Feb for the event. It was a great look into the culture here, it was beautiful, and Pres Uchtdorf and everyone kept referring to how awesome it was.

3. Funny story -- Remember how my companion fell down last week...well I fell this week! Agh! It was the same stool my companion fell off of, I don't know what the deal is with this stool.  And it was extra funny because 2 elders were there too! They'll never let me forget.

4. Lots of great things happened this week, but I just want to share one sweet little experience with a little lady named Maria. She is a reference and went to church last Sunday with a member friend. We visited her last Monday. Maria is around 50 years old. She cant read. Shes super shy. We taught her lecture 3--faith, repentance, baptism, and I know she didn't understand much of what we taught her, but in the end she said she would be baptized. The whole lesson, and even afterwords, I was so so impressed by how much Jesus Christ loves this lady. My comp said she felt it too. I don't know why it his us so hard with this sweet lady, but wow, the Lord loves her so much. She is really special. I really admire people like her. I know she didn't catch much of the lesson, and I know she didn't understand everything at church, but the woman recognized the feelings from the Holy Ghost telling her that it was good, that its what she needs, and those little feelings are enough for her. I, and many of us, need bigger answers, bigger promptings before we act. And so many of us have so many more tools available to us, like that we can read the scriptures and feel the Spirit that way. But still so many times we lack the simple faith that Maria has. I'm so grateful for Maria's example to me. I know the Savior loves her so much, that shes a special daughter of God. And I know He loves all of us so much. So much!! How wonderful that we have this time of the year to remember and celebrate Jesus Christ. I'm so grateful that he loves each of us so much. He knows each of us perfectly. He wants the best for us. He wants to bless us. I know that He is our Savior and Redeemer, that he lived his whole life perfectly for us. I love Him. I know that His gospel is here on the Earth today and that we can participate in it. I love the Gospel. I know that its true. I hope that everyone has a great week and can find some time to think about Christ and Christmas. I love you all and wish you well!

Love, Hermana Gilland

Monday, December 5, 2011

I'm a tall gringa and watch out for the Guin!!!!

Happy December everyone! 

I seriously cannot believe that it is December already! Officially today I have one year left of my mission. How weird! OK so here is what happened this past week:

1. Fasting miracles! We had 8 investigators at church on Sunday!!! Wow! It was the best ever! And all of them were little miracles. My comp and I did divisions to pass by for them Sunday morning. My comp went for familia Hernandez, I mentioned them last week. She says that when she got there the dad and kid were getting ready to go, but the mom had been called in to work at the hospital all night and hadn't returned yet. But, when they were about to pull away in the moto taxi to go to church, the mom arrived, went into the house and changed her blouse, and was out the door ready to go to church, even though she hadn't slept at all! I went to get Hermana Isabel (the lady I wrote about last week who didn't want to stop smoking, she´s back on and has a baptismal date for this Saturday ya!) and when I got there she said that all this stuff happened the night before, she was sick, and she hadn't slept at all because she was worried about the Guin (pronounced Win, some crazy devil thing, he apparently is some animal creature that kills your chickens, and he can turn into a man and snatch up young girls. I know, this place is nuts, right?) Anyways, despite all that, she was getting herself and her granddaughters ready to go! Ya! So it was a super awesome Sunday.

2. Were teaching some really great people right now. Isabel, the lady who has to quit smoking, is doing well and is excited to be baptized. Also,familia Hernandez is great! Were hoping they'll be baptized in like 2 weeks. Its great that they're a family because we can never find whole families to teach. Were teaching a few others too right now who are really positive, we are being so blessed to be able to work with them.

3. funny story -- so we were teaching family Hernandez last week, and we asked the dad, Hermano Noé, to say the closing prayer and he agreed. His prayer had a super powerful effect on my comp though, because right when he said "amen", she somehow fell off her stool and was flat on her back on the floor! It was the funniest! The stool didn't break or anything, she doesn't know what happened, but it was hilarious. So that's just a little more evidence that this family is awesome ha-ha.

4. another funny story -- so we were getting in a "bus" (giant van) one day, and I bumped my head on the top of the door opening. I do that all the time, I don't know why. Anyways, this man sitting there saw and commented, " Ay no, es que ella es bien alta" or "Oh its because shes so tall" hahahaand he was being serious! What the?! Its because I'm a gringa and everyone just thinks that all gringos are tall. We laughed pretty hard at that one.

So that's pretty much what I did this week. It was a great week, I'm super excited to see how things pan out with our investigators. I really love being a missionary, its so fun. I know that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is on the earth. I know that we have a living prophet just like in old times. I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. I'm so grateful to be serving a mission. I hope y'all all have a great week! Good luck to everyone prepping for finals. Definitely not jealous of y'all he-he. Have fun getting ready for Christmas!
Love, Hermana Gilland

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

My new companion is from Honduras

Hello everyone! As always I hope everything is going well for everyone. Here's what I did this week-

1. New companion! My new companion is Hermana Baca. Shes from Honduras. She speaks English but we never speak English unless I have to tell her a secret. This is her last change, so Ill be killing her too right after Christmas. She seems really nice and so far everything has been good with her. It was really sad for me to say goodbye to Hermana Stevens because shes my mom out here. So were in my same area that I was in before.

2. Thanksgiving - us Hermanas went to the Xela Temple again on thanksgiving, which was awesome. That was our last time to go though. The dedication is in 2 weeks. We celebrated thanksgiving as a zone on Friday by watching toy story 3, playing games, and eating taco bell. It was fun to have a little down time all together. I did miss all the delicious thanksgiving food! Ive never been a taco bell fan.

3. So as far as missionary work goes - we had a baptismal date for a day, but then it fell. We had been teaching this old grandma for a week or so. Shes raising her 3 grand kids because their parents died, and she cant read or really do anything to make money except make tortillas and this breakfast drink called atol. She was a reference from a member and was really positive. She went to stake conference last week and loved it. So we set the date for in a week. The next day we taught her the Word of Wisdom and found out that she smokes, but she said she wanted to quit, so we helped her set a goal of quitting and we thought everything would be OK. We came back the next day and found her, cigarette in hand. She then gave us a mountain of excuses about why she no longer had time for all this stuff with the church, and in the end said that she didn't want us to come back. Bummer, right? Its sad because the Lord is just waiting to bless her! She needs lots of blessings! But if she isn't willing to obey the commandments, she cant receive all those blessings. Its the same for all of us. There are so many blessings we could be getting, and we get to choose whether or not we qualify for them. I wonder how much of the time I choose to not get blessings. Probably way too much.

4. Better news - we found a good family, the wife went to the temple open house and loved it. They're really positive and I hope that they progress!

That's pretty much what went down last week. I'm excited to see how things go with my new comp. I know that this is the Lords work. I know that the scriptures are the word of God. I know that we have a prophet today. I love the Gospel! It is so wonderful!  I hope that y'all have a wonderful week and that Thanksgiving was great for everyone.  Thanks for all your prayers and support!

Love, Hermana Gilland

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Quetzaltenango Temple Open House

Familia y amigos! 
Here I am emailing y'all again! I hope y'all had great weeks and I'm sure everyone is looking forward to Thanksgiving. I can hardly believe that its thanksgiving time because its summer here always.
So here's what I did this week:
1. The biggest thing I have to talk about is our trips to serve at the Quetzaltenango Temple! We got to go to Xela twice to serve. We had to travel to Reu the night before, and then leave really early in the morning to make it to Xela at 8 am. And of course everyone gets around here via school bus crammed full of people. So that's always an adventure in and of itself ha-ha. Anyways, we got to Xela in the morning and it was SO COLD! Luckily it warmed up pretty quick.
It was such a beautiful experience at the temple. I just felt so full of emotion because it was beautiful to see the people serving and proudly getting to show their new temple to the world. We got to go through the tour, and I just felt so strongly that this is the work of the Lord on the Earth, in His temples. It was so pretty inside, I definitely think its the most beautiful temple inside. They made it so nice, but with Guatemalan influence.Guatemala is really ghetto and nasty and impoverished, right, so inviting people to come inside a building like this really is a once in a lifetime experience. This is definitely the most beautiful building in Guatemala. So it's really special. Lots and lots of people were really touched. I was just so excited when so many less actives and investigators from my ward came, because if I could feel such a powerful testimony from the Holy Ghost that the Temple is the house of God, how much more powerful was it for those people who had never felt the Holy Ghost, or who hadn't felt its influence in so long. It was such a special experience at the temple.
2. Another cool thing that happened this week was that we had a stake-area conference, I don't know exactly what its called. But we got to hear talks from Elder Clark of the 70, Sister Mary Cook, Elder Holland, and President Uchtdorf. Elder Clark gave his in Spanish, but the rest were translated from English. Elder Holland did share his testimony in Spanish though, and boy does he have a terrible accent, like the worst! He said so himself he-he. But it was really cool to hear the General Authorities give counsel especially for Guatemala and Belize.
3. We had a baptism of 3 niños on Sunday! Niños are pretty easy, but still really exciting. They're adorable. Were hoping to baptize their parents in time, wouldn't that be awesome!
That was my week! I'm so grateful to be here in the work of the Lord. I know that the church is true and that the gospel of Jesus Christ has the answers that everyone needs in their lives. I love being a missionary! Its awesome! Have a great week and thanksgiving!
Love, Hermana Gilland

Monday, November 14, 2011

No Investigators Came to Church - Pathetic!!!!

Buenos días everyone! I hope everyone is doing well. Thanksgiving is coming soon right? Crazy. 
K here's how my week went:
1. The bad: No investigators came to church! Agh! Pathetic! We do a lot to try to get people to come. A few days before everyone says that of course they're coming and God is first blah blah. We had 8 people who were maybe going to come, plus niños. But then Sunday morning comes. We call people to wake them up. We go to peoples houses to wake them up. We offer to help make breakfast and get the kids ready. We promise the teenagers prizes if they go ha-ha. But no one came. It was a huge bummer. Its like the worst to be a missionary and show up at church with no one.
2. We still might have a baptism next week though, of this really pregnant teenager. We want to hurry and baptize her because shes due next Sunday, and around here there are all kinds of superstitions about babies, for example, the 40 days after a baby is born the mom and baby can't leave the house or do anything. So we have to hurry. We'll see how it goes, I can for see a few big disasters coming with this one ha-ha...
3. I had a very interesting cultural experience yesterday (Sunday). Something awful happened - a young girl's husband died in a motor accident! It was really sad. She has 2 little kids. She found out during church. It's a tragedy. But it was really interesting to watch the ward come together. In America when something like this happens, the Relief Society organizes when dinners will be taken over, organizes who will be watching the kids. In Central America this is what they do: It was announced at church that the wake would be at 5pm and that everyone was to meet at the young woman's house (and in Guatemala, everyone lives with or right next to family, so all kinds of family live right there too). Me and my companion got there a little after 5, but people had already been there working for a few hours. The entire ward was there. All the women were in the back of the house outside cooking a HUGE meal for everyone. There aren't means to cook large meals here, so several fires were built with several huge pots on them, cooking things like a hot fruit drink, batter for tamalitos (kind of like tamales) chicken, vegetables. I was helping clean and dry about 200 giant banana leaves because here they use the banana leaves to wrap tamalitos, not corn husks like the Mexicans use. Other preparations were also made. The men set up a huge tarp tent thing with lots of chairs, I have no idea where they got that stuff. Lights had to be rigged up so the women could keep cooking (and when I say rigged, I mean there was a guy sticking a raw exposed wire into an outlet. It actually worked out. I got pics). It was basically a giant party, everyone was happy and smiling. But it was all in support of the family. Everyone felt kind of a sense of importance, of duty to be there helping. Wecouldn't stay to eat the food because it wasn't even close to being done when we had to go home. Apparently these things last late into the night. It was a really interesting experience. I got lots of pics and will try to send them next week.
So that was basically my week. Tomorrow we get to go to the Temple open house! I'm so excited! It will be awesome. I hope that y'all have a great week. I'm so grateful for the opportunity I have to serve a mission. Its a wonderful blessing and I'm learning so many things that Ill use forever. I love the gospel. Have a great week!
Love, Hermana Gilland

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

I am excited to help at the Quetzaltenango Temple open house!

Hey everyone!  My week this week was pretty good. There were some really great parts and a few bummers. Here's what happened:
1. On Sunday we had 2 great investigators come to church! Our mission really focuses on families and men who will be able to hold the priesthood, because there aren't many priesthood holders in the ward. These men are always the hardest for lots of reasons...but 2 came to church! One is the nonmember dad of a recent converts family, and the other is a dad of another positive family. We were super stoked about them, and they both stayed all three hours. Yay!
2. The bummer: We had 3 almost-dates for baptisms this week, 2 for this past weekend and one for in a few weeks...and they've all fallen through! One is Amílcar, I think Ive written about him before. We think hes scared of what people will think if he joins the church. I think all of them will eventually be baptized, but it was just a bummer to think all week that we were going to have 2 baptisms and then in the end not have any.
3. K here is the super awesome exciting news: Hopefully y'all heard about the new temple in Guatemala (Pres. Monson mentioned it at conference), the Quetzaltenango Temple. Well, all the hermanas in my mission get to go and help out at the open house!!! The temple isn't even in our mission, but its only an hour away from us, and they need more helpers, so we all get to go! (the elders don't get to go, they're super ticked) We went to a training on Sunday in Quetzaltenango, or Xela (pronounced shayla, the x makes the sh sound), and learned what all we'll be doing. In the next two weeks we go up to Xela for 3 or 4 mornings to help guide people through the temple. It is just a really awesome opportunity and we are all super excited. We got trained by Elder Martino of the 70, and we also got to watch the movie that they'll be showing to all the guests that come through. The movie talked about the history of the church in Guatemala and of course about the temple. The new temple is BEAUTIFUL. It is so amazing. I feel so blessed to be a part of this.
Interesting things about XelaXela is another mission, its north of where I am and in the mountains, and so believe it or not, its cold up there! Not super cold during the day, but at night you need a coat! I had no idea that there were places in Central America that were cold! The Xela hermanas were wearing long sleeves and cardigans and tights! I cant imagine wearing anything like that because where I'm at is usually really hot, we're always sweating our brains out and looking super nasty all the time. How crazy haha. So for the open house I have to try to get my hands on some sweaters or something hehe
Well that was my week here in Mazatenango Guatemala. Im really happy to be here. I know that this is the Lords work. I know that the Gospel of Jesus Christ can bless everyones lives. Thanks for your prayers! Have a great week!
Love, Hermana Gilland

Monday, October 31, 2011

Miracles Can Come From Fasting

Hey everyone! This week was really awesome :) I hope y'alls was too.

1. This week we saw the miracles that can come from fasting.  This is what happened:

We've been teaching this awesome lady named Brenda for a few weeks now, and pretty early on we challenged her to pray to know if the church was true with a date in mind to be baptized, Oct 29. She had been praying, and really liked what we were teaching her and what she was reading in the Book of Mormon, but she didn't feel like she had gotten a firm answer yet. We had been telling our district and zone leaders about Brenda, and because it was the end of the month, they really wanted her to go ahead and get baptized. We set monthly goals as districts and zones and they're a really big deal to the zone leaders. Anyways, so the zls really wanted to come with us to show us how its done and commit her to baptism for this past Saturday. They came with us on Tuesday, and we felt like they might have overdone it, but she committed to be baptized in 4 days so we were happy at first. But then the next 2 days we couldn't get ahold of her! We had set appointments but she had pretty much disappeared. We were really scared that she was hiding from us because she didn't want to get baptized. We had a hard time with a few other people this week so we decided to fast for some help with everything, to at least salvage the situation with Brenda. The first half of our fast, everything still seemed to be falling apart. Most of ourapts fell through and things were just crappy. But then the next day lots of awesome things happened, and one of the awesome things was that we found Brenda! We started off by apologizing for the crazy elders pressuring her and telling her that she can totally get baptized next week if she wants. But she was like "No the elders were fine. I want to be baptized tomorrow. But if you guys need more time then we can do it next week". Wow!  Heck no we don't need more time! We don't really know how that all worked out but it did, and we had her baptism on Saturday! It was a beautiful baptism. You could just tell after wards that it was really special to her. She was crying a little bit and everything. It was very sweet. It just goes to show that this is the Lords work, not mine. Me and my comp had just very little to do with her conversion. We are so grateful to get to meet and work with such special and prepared people.

2. So basically this week was awesome. The mission is really focusing on finding whole families to be baptized, and we have 2 potentially really awesome families that we hope will progress. Also Amílcar will hopefully be baptized this week! 

3. Interesting fact about Guatemala: So I'm 5'1" tall, in case y'all forgot. In the US that is really really short. In the US in a group of people, I'm pretty much always the shortest person around. In Guatemala its way different. I frequently find myself in groups where I'm the second tallest woman (my comp is always the tallest, shes a freakish 5'11" ha-ha). Women and men here are teeny tiny! And I don't just mean they're an inch or 2 shorter. Every day I see women who come up to my shoulder. Yesterday there was one who came a few inches below my shoulder! She is under 4 ft tall! Isn't that crazy! There are taller people here too, of course. I know lots of women who are a few inches taller than me. But probably about 75% of the women here are around 5'3" and shorter. Yea, Guate is crazy.

So that was this past week. My comp only has 3 more weeks left in Guate, so that's super weird. Shes pretty baggy (in this mission we say "baggy" not "trunky") but she is going to finish out strong. Thanks for your prayers! Being a missionary is really really awesome. It is so fulfilling and rewarding. I am learning so many great things. Everyone should go on a mission!! I'm grateful for the power of the Book of Mormon. I'm grateful for the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I'm so grateful that we have the Gospel on the earth today. It is so clear and comforting. I hope y'all have a great week! Feel free to email me!

Love, Hermana Gilland

Monday, October 24, 2011

Six investigators came to church!!!!

Hey everyone!!
This week was pretty good. Here's what we did:

1. We did have one big bummer -- Amílcar had to change his baptismal date because of some conflicts in his schedule, and also we think because he is nervous... He is like 5 times busier than all the other Guatemalans here and works all the time, so he can hardly find time to meet with us. He tells us though that hes reading the scriptures every day, so I'm confident that hell get baptized in the end.

2. Wedding!  We married the kid we baptized a few weeks ago, José Manuel, and his girlfriend. Hes 17 and shes 21... so that's kind of weird, right?That's like if my little bro Tyler (who hasn't written me in like 3 months by the way) got married to one of my friends! Yikes! Oh well they're married now so that's that. I learned this week that you don't really have to put all that work into wedding planning like we do in America. You just need a bunch of niños to blow up balloons and some streamers. The way things are around here, the wedding was more than the couple could have imagined, which is sad, but its also nice that they could be so pleased with their little wedding. After they were married she was baptized, so that's all taken care now. The mission is really focused on baptizing families, and they count technically as a family. So we kind of feel like were cheating by marrying some kids, but everyone seems to be OK with it ha-ha.

3. At church we had 6 investigators!! Yay!!! It was awesome! My comp and I did divisions in the morning so that we could go wake up people for church and they all ended up coming. The one that were the most excited about is the nonmember dad of a recent convert family. Hes actually one of the guys that we taught last Sunday that ended in that big mess. He was definitely the most positive out of those guys, and were hoping that his heart was touched and that little by little we can help him to gain his testimony. We were just so happy with all the investigators who came. It was great.

4. So my comp and I are working on a really awesome plan to get the ward going with missionary work. I think I already wrote that the Bishops focus for the ward right now is missionary work, but no one really has a plan for how to make that happen. We've been applying some of the things I learned in my student ward last year about organizing people and getting them focused and with a plan. Were excited to get the plan going in each of the organizations this week and really get moving. We wont see the results immediately, but in a few months things should really start moving with the help of the ward.

5. My companion Hermana Stevens officially only has one month left of her mission! I'm getting nervous about her leaving because I still have a ton to figure out about this missionary work stuff. I leave almost exactly a year after her, so I almost just have one year left. That's really weird to think about because that's really not very long and I still feel brand new, but I guess that's just how it goes.

So that pretty much was our week. I hope my emails aren't just super boring ha-ha. If y'all want to hear about something different or have questions or whatever, feel free to email me! Its great getting emails from everyone. I am really grateful to be serving a mission. It is really fun and rewarding. Its really great to be trying really hard and working totally for the Lord. I know this is His work -- there's just no way that a bunch of young kids could come teach the Gospel to all these people and find success without so much help from the Lord. I'm grateful for everything Ive been blessed with and especially for my own testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Everyone should serve a mission! And all the grownups should serve too! I hope everyone has a nice week!

Hermana Gilland


Monday, October 17, 2011

The hardest time in my mission, so far.....

Hey everyone! I hope y'all are well!
This week has been interesting and good. Ill just tell a few interesting stories from the week.
1. So remember the baptism last week, with a 17 yr old kid named Josè Manuel? Well, we found out a little interesting twist to the story. On Wednesday we found out that between his baptism on last Saturday afternoon and his confirmation on Sunday morning, his girlfriend moved into his family´s shack in the boonies. Ha-ha yea, a slight problem right? That's not allowed. So to fix it we´re marrying them this coming Saturday and baptizing them. That sounds bad, but they really want to get married. I think its crazy but oh well. They tell us they're not sleeping together and we've taught them the law of chastity like3 times, so what else can we do? Sorry if that story was a little pg 13 for the kids, but its too good not to share.
2. Also this coming Saturday we have another baptism! Its a guy named Amílcar, hes 32 yrs old and has been investigating the church for like 20 years, and hes finally getting baptized! Yay!
3. We had Ward Council on Friday and the bishop is super stoked about missionary work! So were pumped about this. The bishops goal for each organization in the ward, that's 9 organizations, is to find and baptize one family each by the end of November. We are so excited and hoping so much that the ward actually gets on this because it would be incredible for the mission!
4. Random culture fact: here in Guatemala, we eat with our hands. Its pretty normal to be served a piece of meat with like a fork or spoon, no knife, so you have to just pick up the meat and go at it. its pretty disgusting, but that's life out here. The lady that cooks us lunch doesn't even own knifes to eat with.
5. So something sad happened on Sunday. It was definitely the hardest time in my mission so far. We have a tradition of visiting some recent convertsevery Sunday and having a quick lesson with them, and every week we hope that their 3 sons-in-law will come to listen to the lessons, because their wives are members but they're not. This Sunday they finally came! We were super excited and shared lesson one (about the restoration of the gospel), and it went really well. At the end we talked to them about praying to find an answer for themselves about whether or not it was true and things just got bad. We had thought it was going really well but all the sudden there was tons of contention about polygamy (my comp said that'sonly the 2nd time in her 17 months that polygamy has come up), and then one of the guys started picking apart how my comp had described when she prayed and received the answer that it was true, and how our Spanish was just going to confuse everyone, and all this other stuff that is too confusing to explain. Anyways, there was this terrible spirit in the room and I just burst into tears because I was so sad that they were so hard in their hearts and that they thought that they were supposed to be convinced by words to know if the church is true. So that was embarrassing. But they just kept going and going and it was terrible. It was terrible to feel the spirit leave like that. We cried a lot. I don't exactly know why, were girls you know. But it was awful. But it made me want to work even harder. There are so many stories about Paul and Peter and Ammon and Alma and all those guys about how powerfully they spoke and how people couldn't deny that they spoke with the power of God. I know that not everyone will accept the Gospel, but I want to someday be in tune enough with the spirit to leave people with no doubt that what were saying is the truth. I know that that's possible because so many in the scriptures do that. I hope that I can be worthy to represent the church like that. I'm going to work really hard to do that.
Well that was pretty much my week. I hope that last story wasn't depressing, they always tell us to write mostly happy stuff home. I know that the Gospel is true. It has to be. I know that Joseph Smith saw Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and that Thru Joseph they restored the true and perfect Gospel on the earth. I know that this is true. I hope that everyone has a great week! I pray for you all often! Thanks for your prayers on my behalf.
Hermana Gilland 
That was pretty much my week. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

I am happy to bring the hope of Jesus Christ to people who need it so much

Hola todos!
As always I hope y'all are all doing great! I pray for y'all often. My week was really great. We were super busy, and I love being busy so it was awesome. Here's what I did this week:
1. We had a baptism on Saturday! Yay! It was a youth named José Manuel. His mom and younger siblings were baptized last month, but he needed some extra time to feel comfortable with the idea. All the other missionaries say that there are always a few little disasters on the day of a baptism, and my comp said that this baptism was the craziest shes had yet. For example we couldn't find the kid getting baptized or his family for a while, we couldn't find chairs, the font was really dirty, etc. But the end he was baptized and confirmed the next day! So awesome.
2. Sunday was really great because we had 8 investigators at church! My comp and I did divisions, meaning we split up and had girls from the ward to be our comps for a few hours. So basically I was by myself for the 3 hours of church with all these investigators. I was a little nervous, but it all went well.
We are working with lots of great people right now and I'm really excited to see what happens with them in the following weeks.
3. We ended up hiking through the jungle again this week ha-ha. We went with a recent convert to her moms house and went through the jungle and it was beautiful. When we got to her house though it was really sad. Some people here are just really really poor and have nothing. This lady has 7 kids and her husband is a drunk bum (pretty normal around here), so she feeds her family by finding and selling oranges. If she doesn't work one day, her 7 children have nothing to eat that day. It was very sad.
That's basically what I did this week! I hope we stay ridiculously busy next week. Also this is the end of my first change (6 weeks). I can hardly believe that! 
I'm learning a lot out here about trusting in the Lord. As I see so many people with so many huge problems in their lives who still continue to trust in the Lord, my faith is strengthened. I know that we can receive comfort and guidance through our prayers. Every night when I say my prayers I cant thank my Heavenly Father enough for the time I have to be here in Guatemala. I love it here and am so happy to be bringing the hope of Jesus Christ to people who need it so much. The gospel is true! I love it!  I hope you all have a great week!  Feel free to email me because I love hearing from the real world :)
Hermana Gilland

Monday, October 3, 2011

Conference was awesome!

 Familia y Amigos!

I hope y'all all had a great week. Mine was pretty good. We did a lot of sitting around and not working, like for conference and we also had amulti zone conference for the mission all day on Thursday, plus the normal weekly meetings that we had. But next week we'll have much more time for working. 
Conference was AWESOME! I loved it! We got to watch all 4 sessions in English (minus the first hour of the last session because we were waiting for one of our investigators to show up...she didn't...oh well). It was so great. I loved Saturday morning because they mentioned 3 places near where I've lived! Big Spring TexasProvo, and Quetzaltenango Guatemala! That temple that Pres Monson referred to is our new temple here! It's not in my mission but it's right next to us, and it's so exciting that Pres Monson is coming to dedicate it! The youth around here have been practicing their dance for the cultural celebration for a long time. That's also so awesome that Provo is getting a second temple! We need it there so badly! I don't know if any of my friends remember it, but I totally called it!   I said that is what they might do with the old tabernacle building, just say-in. Conference was really great. We watched it at the stake center with all the members. Here in Guatemala, everyone has the BYU channel (in Spanish), well I guess everyone who has a TV, which definitely isn't everyone but it's a lot. So lots of people just watch at home. But for the Sunday sessions it seems to be a tradition to watch at the church, and between to have a giant picnic all together. It was really fun! We had 5 investigators come to various sessions of conference! We were really happy about that. Our awesome family Ani y Selson didn't come though. Satan is working hard against them and Selsonis like really really sick. But They're planning on getting married and baptized on Oct 15! I'm so excited and I really hope we don't hit anymore big bumps with them. We are also hoping for at least 2 more baptisms this month, and hopefully we can even find a few more. 
We are really busy with the ton of references that we got last week (Cake activity).  We are trying to sort through them and figure out exactly where they live.  Things like that. Addresses and directions in this country are a joke. But I'm really excited and hoping that we find some prepared people in these references. 
So that's basically what happened this week. It was pretty good and I am loving just about every bit of my time here. Spanish is coming along still. Eventually I'll get it ha-ha. Thanks to those who emailed me this week! I love hearing from everyone! Thanks for everyone's prayers for the missionaries! I know this is the Lords work on the earth. I know that the Gospel is true and that the Book of Mormon is the word of God, and I know that as we read it we can get closer to him. There is a recent convert older couple who we meet with on Sundays.  We talked yesterday with them about reading the scriptures. The wife can't read at all, and the husband can read but he's slow and it's hard for him and he can't see really well. But they read the scriptures together! They struggle through a bit of the scriptures every day! They're awesome examples to me! And I can see how the Book of Mormon is blessing their lives. Its a wonderful book, and I want to be more dedicated in my study of it. I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer. I love being a missionary! Have a good week!

Hermana Gilland