Beautiful Guatemala

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

Monday, August 27, 2012

Visiting a Famous Theme Park - Xetulul

Hey everyone!!

Another week has flown by. Here are a few highlights:

1. XETULUL!  (that’s she too lool) On Friday we got to go to Xetulul, a famous theme park here in Central America. Going was a prize for having baptized a family - Daniel and Nereyda. It was fun to have "a day off". For those of y’all who know me, I don’t ride any of those rides because I don’t like heights or falling...that’s kind of lame of me right? So me and some other elder were the bag holders most of the time. But it was fun to watch. I did go on the bumper cars a lot, the kiddie roller coaster, and the merry-go-round he. We also ate a delicious lunch. So for me it was a day well spent.

2. Sunday -- As I’ve kind of explained before, a missionary usually measures his success all week by how many investigators go to church on Sunday. Going to church is critical for the investigators. This past Sunday we were only expecting 2 investigators. Because Josué (the blind guy) went out of town, and some other complications. We were also really concerned about the church attendance because it’s been dropping a lot and last week hit a record low. So we also spent a lot of time this week visiting less-actives. 

On Sunday morning, as always, we went around waking people up, both investigators and less-actives. Unfortunately our 2 investigators were nowhere to be found. Another blow was that on the way walking to church, our recent converts say they’re not going either. It’s sad to walk to church alone on Sunday, without even your recent converts. You can really feel like you’re failing, like you haven’t done the job that Heavenly Father has assigned to you. Sigh.  Well, even though it’s always a crushing blow to not have investigators. at church, during the Sacrament I looked around and saw a few of the less actives who we had visited during the week, partaking of the sacrament and renewing their covenants, and I just felt like Heavenly Father was really happy about that. He was happy to see a few of his children who hadn’t been in a while. It really was a special sacrament moment. And after the sacrament had been passed, lots more less-actives came in, and bummer that they missed the sacrament, but at least they came, right? There were even some less actives we hadn’t visited that showed up. And one of the less-active ladies brought her niece, who’s not a member, so we are excited to meet with her soon. So, moral of the story is, even though on paper it’s wasn’t the best Sunday, it really was a special Sunday for me. 

The area I’m in right now has been really hard, the hardest yet for me. It’s really hard here to find investigators, the ward can hardly function, and lots of other challenges. But in this area I am learning so many things and am grateful for the challenges. It has been a battle to stay positive, to keep going, but it is worth it. I love the Gospel and know that it is true. I’m learning a lot about the power of faith and patience, the principle of working hard even without seeing results, and trusting in the Lord. I know that if we put our confidence in him His purposes will be realized, and little by little he will shape us into better people, and use us to do his work. I testify that Christ lives and loves us so much that he sacrificed so much more than we can imagine in order to give us this time here on earth, to grow, to obey, to change, to learn, and in the end to return to live in their presence, if we have done everything he has asked us to do. I love the gospel. It is perfect. This is my testimony.

I hope that y’all can have another great week and can get back into the swing of things with school and everything!!  Thanks for your support and prayers!

Hermana Gilland

Monday, August 20, 2012

What Guatemalans Think About Americans

Hey guys!!

It’s hot. Ha we are still here fighting. We had an alright week.......

1. Josué (the blind guy) is progressing!  We only had one investigator at church, which was kind of a bummer. But Hermano Josué is progressing and happy. It has been a really cool experience teaching him. Every time we teach him, he says or explains something in a way that teaches me something new, cool right? He came to church for the second time and liked it, and we’ve been talking a lot with him about baptism, hopefully in September he'll be getting baptized! We know that there are still lots of obstacles before this point, but we are hopeful. I can’t remember if I explained, but Josué has less than a year of being blind. Here in Guatemala, lots of people have diabetes and no one gets it treated, and so lots of bad things happen, and one thing that diabetes can cause is blindness. So it’s a new thing for him and it must be really really sad for him. But he is a guy full of faith and always so grateful for the blessings that he has. You know how usually people with handicaps are more sensitive in other senses? Well even though Josué can’t see at church and doesn’t know what’s going on in that respect, he can feel that it’s the right place to be. He loves being at church and feeling the good feelings there are at church. So cool.

2. I can’t think of anything else to tell y’all, so I’m going to take a sec to explain what people in Guatemala think of Americans, because I bet that’s something that y’all have wondered.  Everyone in Guatemala (including my comp) thinks that America is this magical land where we all just sit on the couch all day and watch TV and don’t ever do anything productive. We eat instant soup and hamburgers every day, and we all have servants that do all the cleaning. We’ve never worked; the church pays us to go on missions and pays all our expenses. Oh and mom, they think we can’t cook anything -- how do you feel about that? Ha, it gets a little annoying sometimes because, seriously? I’m a productive person, working and studying and very very busy. On Sunday we were eating lunch with a partial member family, and they were shocked when I said I liked cooking and insisted over and over that all the food we eat in America is bought ready-made. FALSE! I explain that my mom loves cooking and cooks every single day, and that I like cooking too, and they like kind of believe me. They’re also shocked to find out that we don’t have servants, that for the past 4 years I lived away from my family paying my own food and rent, that I’ve had some sort of job for years. Ugh. And it’s even more annoying when my comp is like agreeing with them about all that. Ha. But yea, that’s what everyone thinks about me here in Guatemala. Awesome!

Well that’s pretty much all I got for today. We had kind of a slow week and were a little bummed, but we are just going to have to do everything a little better. I know that the church is true and I am so grateful for the Gospel of Jesus Christ that lets us repent and try again. Thanks for all your support and have a great week!!

Hermana Gilland

Monday, August 13, 2012

Guatemalan Babies Go Through 20 Diapers a Day!!!!

Hi guys!!

We had a normal week and are doing well! Here is what we did:

1. We had 4 investigators at church yesterday!!! Yay!!  A nice lady we’ve been teaching for a few weeks named Rut and 2 of her kids, and a 12 year old kid named Diego who, even though he’s 12, is interested and reading and understanding -- his dad is inactive but the bishop told us about him. Rut is a really cool mom -- she is super patient with her kids and keeps the house really clean and is super chill. They go to an Evangelica church kind of, but she’s really interested in finding out if our message is true. We are excited to work with these guys and prepare them to be baptized!

We were sad though because the family we brought last week to church didn’t come. Usually when people go to church, they’re a bit easier to teach and they’re more receptive, but with these guys, not at all. We’ve had the hardest time getting a hold of them and finding them, and they’re just lying to us and hiding :( So we are sad but we are going to keep working to see what we can do.

2. Wendy!  I just wanted to share a nice experience we had with our recent convert, Wendy, who was baptized about 2 months ago.  We were visiting her and as part of the lesson we asked her how she’d been blessed by going to church. She answered with such a nice response, telling us that at first it had seemed like a lot to her to go to church for 3 hours on Sundays, but that with time she’s seen great changes in herself that have affected her whole family (who aren’t members). She says that since she’s been going to church she’s been much more chill and slow to get angry with her family, and as she has reacted to them more calmly lately, they’ve been reacting more calmly too, and now everyone is chill and happy :) They eat together more and spend more time together. Isn’t that awesome?! She was a perfect investigator, we seriously had nothing to do with her being so awesome, but it’s great to hear that we had a part in helping her and her whole family to be happier.

3. Another sad story:  I feel like lately I’ve been writing a lot of stories about poverty and things like that, and here’s another. This past week we went with our investigator Rut to visit her friend who had just given birth the day before. It was very sad :( There are different levels of poverty here, and you learn to recognize the signs, but when you walk into a dark, one roomed home that is completely empty, you know that they are the poorest, that they go to bed hungry almost every night. This home of the mom, her 3 kids and brand new baby girl, had a large bed, one small piece of furniture where you can put clothes, and one chair. And that’s all. We get there and the kids are of course crowding around the mom and baby. The oldest goes off to prepare the bottle (because the mom wasn’t producing much milk yet for some reason), and was preparing just sugar water because they couldn’t afford any milk right then. Can y’all imagine? 2nd day of the baby’s life and you have nothing to feed it. Just sugar water. And they don’t even have a little electric stove to heat the water -- they only have fire. This poor baby, apparently the 7 year old sister has been doing chores for the neighbors the past few days to earn Q15 ($2.00) to go buy the baby a few items of clothing. And they didn’t have any diapers. And I’m not talking disposable diapers -- that’s a grand luxury that no one can afford here. People here still mainly use cloth diapers! Quick diaper tangent: I asked once and most babies here go through about 20 diapers per day. And remember, we wash clothes and everything by hand. I’m going to get a little graphic here -- in America babies have feeding schedules and only eat certain things and are extremely regulated, so they go to the bathroom les and have more normal poop, stuff like that. Well here, there is no schedule and babies get fed all kinds of things and as a result have constant diarrhea. So that’s 20 nasty cloth diapers to clean every day. So, as much as we’ve all complained about having to change diapers, we should all just count our blessings (remind me of this when I have a kid, please). But anyways, it was very sad to see this poor baby in such rough conditions on day 2, with nothing to eat. I know I say it a lot, but America is so wonderful and so incredibly blessed.

Well, that’s pretty much all for this past week. I know that the Gospel is true and that Christ is our Savior. Being a missionary is a life-changing experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything. I’m grateful for my testimony and for all of the blessings that the Lord has given me. 

Have a great week!!
Hermana Gilland

Monday, August 6, 2012

Hey guys!!

I hope you are all doing ok. We have been having a great time here and seeing lots of miracles! We are also DYING of the heat. Here is what’s going on:

1. NEW FAMILY!!!  We had a miracle this week and found a positive family. On Thursday, our new zone leaders promised us that if we looked hard, we would find a family to bring to church that Sunday. I try to take promises from our leaders seriously, because, if they’re for real, and we do our part, what they promise has to happen, right? I wrote the promise in my agenda and everything, and boom! Later that day we found a husband and wife and they promised to come to church on Sunday...and they did!!! We found them in this apartment complex where we are working, and we are excited about them. The mission really focuses on families. They definitely have a ways to go to prepare for baptism. The hermano has to stop drinking; they have to get married, etc...But we’ve seen bigger miracles here in Las Palmas!! The family's names are Roberto y Norma. Also we had two other guys at church-- Hermano Juan, he’s a crazy guy, and a guy named Josué, he’s blind. It was kind of cool when at the end of our first lesson we invited him to church. We invited him and he started to explain to us that he didn’t really like to leave because he’s recently gone blind this past year and is really embarrassed because he needs lots of help and stuff. I was about to tell him, "Oh that’s fine, we understand" ha, but my comp is super great and talks to him a little rough, saying "well look, if you’re not willing to put in your part, how are you expecting God to bless you?" Ha, kind of rough on a blind guy, right? But it worked! He got it and immediately changed his mind and said he wanted to come. Way to listen to the spirit, Hermana Rosas! 

2. Well that’s pretty much the excitement of this week. I just wanted to share a sad little experience we had, to make everyone appreciate their lives and jobs in America. We went late to buy bread at the little bread shop (because I love bread!!) and started talking to the sweet lady who worked there. Her life is really hard. She works at the bread shop from 5 am until 9pm ish, without a break to eat or anything. She hardly makes any money. She gets one day off every 15 days. Her home is really far away so during the 15 days she stays with a family member nearby, and only goes home and sees her family every 15 days. If I was working in a panederia all day long, every day, I would definitely be super cranky, guaranteed. I think most people would be. But she was really nice to us, and after we had chatted for a bit she gave us drinks, paid for by the money she makes. So many people here are just like that. No matter how hard their lives are, they look for what they can share, and immediately share it. I really hope that I can be more like these people, and that I don’t forget about things like this when I leave. When we left the panederia I felt really sad for this sweet lady, because her life is really hard and there is no escaping or changing it. But she taught me a great lesson.

I just want to share my testimony to finish. I know that the Gospel is true. I know that Christ lives and loves us. I know that He is our perfect example. I love the Gospel. I was thinking this morning that the words that I say in my testimony haven’t changed since being on the mission. And I had a testimony before of these things. But now I feel like I’m starting to understand why these things are so important, and what they can mean for the whole world. I know that the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ is here on the Earth and that everyone needs it. 

Thanks for everything!!! And have a great week!

Hermana Gilland