Beautiful Guatemala

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

Monday, January 30, 2012

A Mini Miracle Involving Men's Underwear!!!!

Hey Everyone!

This week flew by and I'm back at Internet! It was an alright week, lots of work without lots of results. But that's how it goes sometimes. At least this week I don't have any gross stories. Here's what we did...

1. Multi-Zone Conference with Elder Amado! So this was pretty cool. Elder Amado is in the Area Presidency of Central America and came to speak to us...for about 5 hours straight...about basically every gospel topic!  He talked a whole lot about marriage. Yikes. At one point while he was talking and pacing, he paced over to where us 10 hermanas were sitting together and said to us "Some of you are never going to get married. And others of you are going to wait a long time before you get married", Agh! and he said this in a really knowing, penetrating way. I mean, hes a General Authority, he knows extra stuff, right? So me and my comp are stressed that were never getting married. He was only talking to us 10 hermanas, the odds aren'tvery good. He-he I'm just joking (mostly) but it probably wasn't my favorite thing he said. The rest of the conference was really good and I got a lot out of it. Its awesome to get instruction from General Authorities from time to time. 

So my next 2 stories are separate but they meet in the middle, So I hope y'all can make sense of it all.

2. "Noche Blanca" or "White Night"!! First the happier story.  Because the Zone has done really awesome this month, President wanted to do something special for the baptisms of this last weekend, and we had a "Noche Blanca", where all the baptisms in the zone for this weekend happened together, and called White Night for everyone in their white baptism clothes. It turned out really nice. HnaHidalgo and I were pretty bummed because our baptism ended up falling through last minute (my next story), but we were still really happy for all the other missionaries with baptisms. And we got to help out in a little mini miracle. The other hermanas had 4 baptisms, one of them being a guy who forgot to bring extra underwear. He was apparently being super stubborn and refusing to get baptized. Well guess who happened to have an extra new pair of men's underwear? We did!! With a stroke of what must have been revelation, HnaHidalgo suggested that we buy men's underwear just in case our investigator forgot his. Well, our investigator didn't end up needing it because hes a flake, but someone else did! Its not every day that we've got a spare pair of underwear in our backpacks, but on Saturday we did and it ended up helping a whole lot! About 16 people were baptized on Saturday, bringing our totals for January in the Zone to 57 baptisms, with 8 families. Awesome work Zona de Mazate!

3. No.Show investigator... So our flake out baptism, Josè Luis, is this super old guy, 81 years old. We've been teaching him for FOREVER! Since when my trainer was here. Ugh. Hes so crazy! Here's the thing..he loves the Book of Mormon, he loves Joseph Smith. He likes going to church. But he will not get baptized! If that sounds illogical, welcome to Guatemala. We've about pulled out our hair with this guy. He's got lots of excuses, but mainly hes just being a wuss. He is scared. He has said multiple times that he knows he has to get baptized, but he "wants God to tough his heart" so that he knows it. What's he supposed to do. Hello? If you know you're supposed to get baptized, you don't need God to tell you so. Plus he already did 100 times in the scriptures. Geez. I could go on with this rant, but I wont. But this past week we finally set his date for Saturday, and everything was going to be great! We were so excited! And we were pumped to have a baptism at the Noche Blanca, and really happy for him that he finally decided to get baptized. But then it all fell apart and suddenly he had to go out of town and didn't know if he'd make it back in time, and then he wouldn't answer our (50) phone calls. We decided to be ready just in case he got back really late and we had all his stuff ready, including new underwear and a snack. Nope, didn't show. And our bishop later said that he saw him walking around town that evening. So we don't even know if he actually left town!! Hna Hidalgo and I were so sad. We felt like we let down our team, our Zone. We did everything we could and it still didn't happen. We went on Sunday to Josè Luis' house mostly just to make him feel guilty and drop him. He kind of explained to us what happened, but none of it added up. Liar! We really wanted to yell at him but we decided that wasn't what Jesus would do. I'm really sad because he is a really really nice old guy, and I know that he really needs to be baptized, and he knows it too. But we can't do anything else for him. Ugh. Sad. Its the saddest to watch people progress but not be willing to take a step of faith, or not be willing to accept the answer that the Lord gives. But that's how it goes sometimes. He's got his agency.

So that was our week! Hna Hidalgo and I are planning on working really hard this next week to find some awesome investigators and bring them to church Sunday! Were excited to work hard! Even though there are lots of discouraging moments, there are always little miracles and blessings. I'm really grateful for my comp, HnaHidalgo. Shes super awesome and willing to do whatever it takes to make something happen. The poor thing has parasites again, and her stomach aches all the time, but it doesn't stop her at all! She's awesome! I'm so grateful for the Gospel. The Gospel is what motivates us to work so hard. We know that it's true and we want to help people find the truth too. We aren't just out here because we like the Mormon Church or the rules or the prophet or our friends at church or anything like that. We're here because the true Gospel of Jesus Christ is here on the earth, available to everyone! We want to help people find the truth, to understand why we're here and how we can return to live with our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ after this life. I'm so grateful for my mission. I know that this is the Lords work. 

Have a great week everyone! Talk to y'all next week!

Hermana Gilland

Monday, January 23, 2012

Baptism of Julio Perez / Foot Soup Anyone?

Hey family and friends! Hope y'all had a great week! Mine was alright, here's what happened:
1. Baptism of Julio Perez!! We had such a nice baptismal service for the guy I mentioned last week, Julio. Everything went really well -- no disasters!  One of Julio's daughters and her family are members of the church in our ward, and she was so excited that her dad was getting baptized, and her husband baptized him. It was really sweet to watch them hug after he was baptized. Julio's wife and other daughter were there too, and we're hoping that they're interested in the church, even though they aren't in our area. The day of his baptism was also his birthday! So the relief society made some refreshments and we got to help, and I got to practice my tortilla-making skills. All in all, it was a very beautiful and successful baptism, definitely the smoothest so far.
2. So with all that success at the baptism, something had to go wrong later, right? After the baptism, all of our appointments fell. Then Sunday morning we were going around to wake people up/pick them up for church. We were really hopeful that some would go to church, but not a single investigator was at church! Agh!!! What a shame. We both just felt like crying because we've been working so hard all week and no one showed. In the daily  stats. that we take, an investigator only counts as "progressing" if they went to church the week before. Ugh so no one is progressing right now. Sad!
3. I don't know what's been the deal lately with weird gross food, but on Saturday I ate my new worst food yet, worse than the pork stomach. "Caldode pato" or "foot soup", cow foot, to be exact. AGH how horrible was this soup! Its literally a cow hoof and lower leg, cooked and chopped up into chunks. So you get lots of weird and different textures, like skin, nerves, ligaments, cartilage, bone, UGH! Mostly really squishy and rubbery. Awful! I just swallowed the pieces whole mostly. Our lunch lady gave us this, and almost everything she gives us is really good. Agh. And she almost made us eat it again on Sunday! But then she asked if wed rather have some frijolitos, and we were saved. I hope I can stop writing y'all about the "worst food" Ive eaten, hopefull that soup is as bad as it will get.
Oh and something else gross this week is that we went to the house of a member who is a young mom with lots of health problems, and offered to wash her laundry. This, of course, is by hand, and what was gross was that there were little maggots in it! Gross! Everything in this country is dirty and gross, but this was extra. When I get back to America, I'm going to be able to handle anything!
So that's basically what we were up to this week. Were working really hard and trying to find families that are ready for the gospel. I know that this is Gods work on earth. I know that Christ lives and loves each of us so much. I'm so grateful to be here and to see miracles all the time. I'm learning so much, I can't imagine what my life would be like without my mission. Thanks for all your support! Have an awesome week!!

Hermana Gilland

Monday, January 16, 2012

I Have Parasites!!!!!

Hey family and anyone else reading!  I hope y'all are doing great and surviving winter and snow, even in Texas! Here's what happened this week:
1. I have parasites!!! Agh! So last weekend I really didn't feel like eating and I was feeling sick, so I finally went to the doctor on Tuesday and found out that I have "lombrisis", for your googling pleasure. The nurse researched it and its apparently a GIANT white worm, by GIANT I mean  a FOOT LONG! And fat like a snake. Agh!!! Gross!!!! Inside me!!! Its apparently very harmless and just likes living in my stomach eating my food. Oh, and you get it from ingesting human feces. Yikes. I'm not at all surprised though. So yea, but I took the pills and I think it died because now I have a huge appetite. I haven't had much appetite since shortly after I started here in Mazatenego, and all the sudden I want to eat everything in sight, so hopefully I dont gain lots of weight. All the hermanas gain weight. Ive lost like 3 pounds with my parasite. Maybe I should try to get it back??
2. So were teaching this crazy guy named Julio. He's like 60 years old and is someone in the wards dad.  His whole life he was an alcoholic and involved in bad things but now is searching for Jesus and wanting to change his life. Hes one of those people that we missionaries have nothing to do with his conversion. Hes been to church 3 times, started reading the Book of Mormon by himself, wants to be baptized, carries around a bag full of his church books - BOM, Bible, Liahona, Gospel Principles, hymnbook, etc., and when we got to church on Sunday he was outside by himself cleaning the sidewalk around the church.  He says he wants to be an Apostle, he-he. Hes crazy because he always acts a little drunk, a little loopy (he's not really drunk, that's just how he acts), and also he didn't know the rules that us girl missionaries aren't supposed to hug men, and he hugs us all the time, kissed our hands a few days ago, and yesterday at church kissed my companion on the forehead. Lovely. Yuck! His son-in-law finally told him he's not supposed to do that but he just laughed. He's getting baptized on Thurs, so who knows what the occasion will merit (maybe another kiss on the forehead). I'm a little nervous he-he, y'all know I don't like people touchin me ha-ha.
That's basically what we did this week. We taught lots of people, dropped lots of people, killed our parasites, and are working hard. We have some other positive people but they went out of town Sunday, bummer. I'm really grateful to be here and am learning so much. Thanks so much for your support and prayers and emails. I know that this is the Lords work. There are so many people who are ready for the gospel, or who just need a little help recognizing the gospel. I'm grateful for this time I have to be here in Guatemala. I know that our Heavenly Father loves us so much and has a wonderful plan for each of us here. Have a wonderful week!!!
Love, Hermana Gilland

Monday, January 9, 2012

Nastiest Thing I've Eaten

Hey everyone!!!  I hope everyone started school alright! My week was good, here's what I did:
1. New comp! So I'm staying for now in my area, and my new comp is Hermana Jency Hidalgo! She might be the sweetest little dear Ive ever met. She's from El Salvador and has 10 months in the mission and has been in this zone with me my whole time, just a different area. So we already knew each other pretty well and I was super excited to be her comp.  Things are a little crazy in the mission right now because there is a group of Mexican missionaries who have had trouble getting their visas, and are going to come in a few weeks in the middle of the change. My comp is going to train one of them, so Ill probably leave in a few weeks. Until then, Hna Hidalgo and I are going to work really hard!
2. This week we've been doing lots of contacting (tracting) because we hardly have anyone that we were teaching.  I haven'tcontacted very much until now because we usually have references from the ward, so its been really good practice. My trainer would be very pleased to see that I've improved a lot in contacting -- I even kind of like it. It's kind of fun because you get to talk to lots of crazies, sometimes you find people that are interested, and if nothing else, you have a painfully awkward experience and get to watch Guatemalans try to lie to get out of having to talk to us  (they're terrible liars).  I just laugh to myself the whole time. So we're really hoping that through our hard work contacting and with some good references thatwe've received, we can start seeing some results in a few weeks.  We've been working really hard. Its the most satisfying thing in the world to work hard all day long.
3. So this week we ate a few really weird/disgusting things that I know my mom would love to hear about. The first was when I was in trio for a few days with hna hidalgo and her old comp hna Alston. We went so that hna hidalgo could say goodbye to some of their converts who lived out in the boonies. They very generously brought out 3 plates of pork stomach...EW!!! Ay no. They were pretty large pieces, rubbery, chewy, and slippery, with a weird layer of fat or something. And of course no one has knives to cut the pieces smaller. And it smelled like PIG! I think if we had put our pieces together we could have pit the stomach back together. We tried various strategies to eat it, like wrapping a piece in tortilla, trying to cut it with a spoon. The best strategy was just swallowing them whole. Nastiest thing I've eaten yet, I think. And it's sad because these people have nothing but they so kindly share the little that they do have, and we about died eating it. Of course all the time we acted like we loved it. Oh man...
The other nasty thing was last night, one of the recent converts served us some juice. We were drinking and I thought at first it was my cup that smelled really bad, like moldy. But then the lady started explaining how she made the juice. Oh dear. She said it was juice of vinegar with bugs -- I definitely thought I heard/understood that wrong -- vinegar and bugs?! Nope, that's what it was. Apparently you let the vinegar go rancid until there are larvaes growing in it. Then you drain out the worms and add sugar and water. That's what we drank!! I'm quite sure she didn't get all the worms out. Aah how gross is that!? Where the heck did she even get that idea!?
So yea that was my week! I surely have parasites now if I didn't already ha-ha. Even despite completely disgusting foods like that, I really enjoy being here! I know that this is the Lords work. I'm learning so much. Thanks for all your support and prayers! Have a wonderful week!!!
Love, Hermana Gilland

Monday, January 2, 2012

My Companion Went Home!

Hey family and friends! 
I hope y'all had a great new years! I don’t have much time today but this week was full of obstacles like the holidays, my comp not wanting to do anything, extra meetings, etc.  So this week wasn't very eventful but here is what we did:

1.  Baptism last Tuesday of Noé and his son! This was really bitter sweet because it was a miracle that Noé was baptized, but so sad that his wifeConcepción wasn't baptized too.  We went with her on Monday to sure everything up, but she told us that she just wasn’t sure and had all these doubts. I about started crying, ugh, something just died in my chest when she told us that. I really hope that in the future shell be baptized so that they can do this as a family. I'm so grateful to have watched the change in Noé, he is really special and I hope he sticks with it!

2.  So I was going to write, “I have changes!”, but now I don’t even know. President told me last week that it was for sure that I have changes. Because my comps family came today (Monday) to pick her up, I had to be all packed and had to say all my goodbyes yesterday. So yesterday I got everything ready, but when we showed up at the office in Reu and one AP said that I didn't have changes, the other said that I did  but that I'm staying in the zone, who knows??? Agh I'm about to kill these elders. I swear, it’s another testimony to me that the church is true that even despite all the dumb things the APs do (and don’t do/forget to do), the mission still functions and baptizes. It is a miracle, let me tell you. So I'm in limbo right now, in trio. And there are so many wild rumors about what will happen and changes on Wednesday that I just have no idea. Oh well…

So yesterday I said my goodbyes to everyone. I have 4.5 months here, so I was really sad. I went out in my usual fashion, bawling. Ha-ha.  
Goodbyes are so hard for me! I have learned so much and grown so much here, and I will never forget these people. Oh I won't forget. But I'm also excited for a change, to meet new people, to get back to work (I just wanna work!!) I have no idea what will happen in the next few days but I'mexcited! I had some time (lots of time) to do some reflecting on things out here, and I'm just so grateful for these experiences and the things that I'mlearning. I'm excited that I still have so many adventures to come out here in Guatemala I love it!

I know that this is the Lords work. I know that the Gospel is true. I know that it changes lives. My faith in the gospel has grown so much as Ive watched it change people. I love it. I love my Savior Jesus Christ and am so grateful for His sacrifice for me. I hope you all have a great week! Good luck getting back into the swing of school! Love you all!

Hermana Gilland