Beautiful Guatemala

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

Monday, October 29, 2012

Family Martinez Killed a Chicken for Us!!!!!

Hey guys!!

Here’s what happened this week:
1. CHANGES! Wow so I was really sad when they told us that my comp. Hna Cuzco had changes and would be leaving...but I was so excited when they announced that HNA ARGUETA was my new comp!!! Hna Argueta is awesome! We knew each other from Mazate and always talked about how cool it would be to be comps, but thought they’d never put us together because even though she has a Latina name, she’s from California, and the mission never puts gringas together ever. We were shocked and so excited!! So whew, my last change here, and hna Argueta will be killing me, as we say.  I’m not going to lie, at first it felt so weird to be back with an American. I don’t know why, it was just really weird! I think that having hna. Argueta is going to help me make the adjustment to regular life in America, and I think that will be good so I don’t come home quite as weird. All yall have to be nice to me when I come home, even when I’m weird and just want to talk about Guatemala all day long. Ha-ha agh!!!!

2. Our 2 families....... man, I wish I could say that we made some progress with our families, but we are pretty much the same. They are both so close, but we don’t know what to do with them! I don’t even want to explain all the craziness because it’s just too complicated, but basically with Fam. Martinez, Hna Paty is crazy and we just don’t even know what to do with her. We are trying everything!! With Idelia, we have their wedding planned; we just have to help her want to get baptized too, minor detail. We are so stressed about everything, and at the same time trying to find new families, trying to help all the recent converts in this ward keep going (and there are about 20 that we have to visit every week), and just trying to keep going in our rough living conditions and all. Like my dad and tennis coaches all said though, I’m "leaving it all on the court" and trying to give it my all. AGH I’m freaking out.

3. Even though fam. Martinez is crazy and stressing us out, we still love them so much, and I just wanted to share the sweet thing they did for us. We had told them last week that maybe Hna. Cuzco was going to have changes and that Tuesday might be her last day. Well, without even knowing for sure, they planned quite the special dinner for us. Let me just remind yall, they have NOTHING at all! They killed one of their chickens that morning and made chicken stew stuff. That’s something really special. I was kind of asking how often they killed chickens or when they’d kill the next one, and they said maybe at Christmas. WOW right?! I just love the people here because they give us everything they have, and I don’t even know why. This family is so special to me and we just have to figure out how we are going to help them, now. AGH!

Well I can’t think of anything else very cool...sorry...but thanks for all of y'alls support and prayers, they are needed!!! We are working our hardest here!! Hope y'all have a great week!

Hna Gilland

Monday, October 22, 2012


Hey everyone!
Before I tell about the week, right now I just had a wild experience reading my family’s emails. If my mom wants, she can cut this part out of the email, but it’s just a funny story that I think y'all will get a kick out of. So to use internet here in Guatemala, we go to public Internets with like 25 computers, and most of the missionaries use internet at the same time. I open my internet and check out who wrote me, open a few and get to my dad’s. My dad tells me that they are seriously thinking of moving to Utah, but this time really seriously. Well, all of y'all who know my family know that my dad’s been saying that since I was about 10 years old, so I was like whatever, next email. Then I open my mom’s email and she tells me "I haven’t told you anything because I didn't want to distract you, but we found a house in Utah that we really like and we are putting our house for sale on Wednesday, and if we sell in 60 days we are moving to Utah"... SURPRISE!  What?! I read the whole email a few times in shock, because that’s like the typical thing that happens to a missionary, right? Ha-ha. After halfway processing, I turn around and announce to the whole internet cafe, "My family is selling the house!" Ha-ha everyone was laughing. My family is crazy right?!   No one freak out too much, if everything works out they won’t be moving until June.  But yea what an email! (Mom you can cut this if it’s a secret or something...)
OK so back to the mission, things are moving right along here. Well, time is moving right along. Other things, not so much, but we are trying. We actually didn't have the most successful week. I was really hoping to have the wedding-baptism of Familia Martinez...but they still aren't ready. Mostly Hna Patricia isn't ready. We don’t know what to do with her! She tells us she wants to keep going to her old church. Like I've said a million times, the churches here are crazy and just yell and scream, so I have no idea why she wants to keep going to that church, by herself, while her husband and kids come with us to the beautiful chapel here in Muluá. But we are really trying to go about things as Jesus Christ would, with love and all. Whew. I just know they are going to get baptized, and you better believe that they’ll be getting baptized in the next month and a half. But we will have to work hard at it. 
We are also working with a young family where the husband, Ludwing, is an inactive member, but his wife, Idelia, isn't (I don’t remember if I already explained about them). They have a little baby girl. They are a special family and we really had some special experiences with them this past week. We've been going with them for like 3 weeks, but with little success until this past week. I really think that she’ll be getting baptized in the next few weeks. It’s a little complicated for a few reasons.  Idelia is like SUUUPER shy, super super shy. And from my judgment, she has some learning disabilities or something. She doesn't know anything about religion or God or Jesus or anything, or at least when we asked her she didn't respond at all. That’s kind of a rarity here in Guatemala. So we've got Idelia, who is the focus because we want to baptize her, and then the husband and his family who are all members, some active and some not. They all like to take over the lessons and talk a lot, and Idelia kind of goes unnoticed. When we try to focus on Idelia more, she obviously feels uncomfortable, and when we ask her a really really basic question, she doesn't answer. We are more than happy to wait patiently, to teach slowly (that’s the name of the game here in Guatemala), but the family all get really impatient, and the husband is like "just answer, just say yes or no, just say something, I can’t believe you’re not going to say anything, you just don’t understand"...etc. So as you can imagine, that definitely doesn't invite the spirit at all. And we had tried going to the house at different times, but there’s never any telling who’s going to be around. So we were really hoping and praying so much for the opportunity to have a nice, spiritual lesson with Idelia, without the whole family, just her and her husband or something like that.  The lord blessed us. We went last Wednesday, and somehow we got just Idelia and Ludwing. We sang and prayed.  I was praying hard in my heart for the right words to say. We ended up sharing what was one of the most basic lessons of my whole mission. My comp said that she was trying to imagine teaching her 5 year old nephew, but she had to be even more basic.  We just used a few pictures of Jesus Christ and talked about how much he loves us. We compared the feelings she has for her baby daughter to the feelings that Heavenly Father has for us. I guess you could say we were trying to help her to get to know Jesus. We asked some good questions, like "would you like to meet Jesus?" "Would you like to talk to Jesus?" and she said yes. I know that they say that yes-no questions are bad, and that everything we said wasn't totally doctrinally correct.  We had to teach that basic. We just simply explained about prayer, that she could talk to Jesus in prayer. Really what we said was so simple, but the spirit was SO STRONG. Oh my goodness!  And the husband, instead of negatively urging his wife to answer, was patiently listening.  He was captivated by the wonderful feelings in the room. His heart was totally softened and it was a miracle.   Not just right then - he hadn't gone to church in a really long time, and wasn't really taking anything in his life seriously.  By the spirit, the lesson gave him a hunger to go to church, to listen to us the next time, to start making small changes in his life.  The Gospel of Jesus Christ is that basic. My own testimony was strengthened a lot in the power of the love of Jesus Christ for us. This was one of the most beautiful lessons in my whole mission. Of course had nothing to do with us missionaries; we didn't say anything fancy at all. Spanish-wise I probably could have given that lesson in the MTC because we just talked really simply. But somehow the spirit was so strong. When we talk about baptism with her, it makes her really nervous.   I know that soon she will want to follow the example of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  It will be wonderful. I am just really grateful for that experience; it’s something I will always remember. I love the Gospel, and when a doubt creeps in, I just have to remember experiences like that. These things are real. God lives, His son is Jesus Christ, and He loves us so much that he suffered everything for us, to give us the chance to come to earth, learn, and to come back to Him. I know that these things are true! Have a great week!!
Hermana Gilland

Monday, October 15, 2012

I am Really Sad That This is Coming to an End!!!

Hey everyone!!

OK I’m freaking out because my flight plans came today in an email. I’m not baggy(trunky). I just want y’all to understand how I feel about everything and if I leave out big things, you won’t know how I’m feeling. Anyways, I cried a little bit (shocker right? I’m such a crybaby!) Just now,  I’m really sad that this is coming to an end. I still have a month and a half!! But yea... take a deep breath... OK. But yea, we had a great week!!! I’m excited to share what’s going on!

Familia Martinez Reyes!!!  I think everything I’m going to share has to do with this family. We are moving right along with them and had some great experiences. Where shall I begin? We pretty much have a secure baptismal date for this Saturday Oct 20. They have to get married right before, and baptized right after. It has truly been a blessing to meet these guys and teach them and everything, they’re really special and I love them so much! 

With this family I’m really learning about the importance and power of love. Very simple, right? I don’t know, I've opened my own heart up to this family so much, and the love I have for them motivates me (and my comp) to do everything we possibly can to help them. I just love them so much, and they have so many needs, economical, spiritual, etc., and I know that when they get married and baptized, obeying 2 really important commandments of the Lord, the Lord will be able to bless them so much. And I just want more than anything these blessings for this family. 

Something special that we did with them last week was that we made grilled-cheese sandwiches with them!! Ha-ha it was my idea, and it had a few flaws. People don’t eat grilled cheese sandwiches here, so I thought it would be a cool "cultural experience" for them and at the same time super easy for us. Making grilled cheese sandwiches with family Martinez first meant that Hno Hermelindo had to go chop firewood. Next we had to get the fire going. I’m going to try to describe the "stove" that lots of people who have nothing use. It’s a giant metal barrel filled almost to the top with cement, leaving about a foot of space empty. They then cut out part of the foot of metal barrel. And that’s about it. On top of the cement they have the fire. So we had to keep the fire going -- I was zero help in that (I really should have gone to boy scouts to prepare for the mission), everyone thinks I’m ridiculous because I can’t do things like kill chickens and light fires and make perfect tortillas and because I’m scared of wild dogs -- whatever.  So anyways, grilled cheese was tricky because the fire is really hot and burns the bread if you leave it on the skillet too long, but the cheese never really melted, so I don’t know ha-ha. It was quite the ordeal really.

When we had the sandwiches made, the 2 little kids (Jessica Fernanda 7 and Wilbur Fernando 8) were really hungry of course and we got right to eating. They had never eaten anything like a grilled cheese. They asked what the cheese was, what the bread was, and they ended up taking them apart and eating them all weird because they didn't know how a sandwich was eaten properly. Here in Guatemala they sell regular sandwich bread and American cheese slices at the grocery store, but they are luxuries that the 2 kids had never experienced. It made me sad to see. The kids are really skinny and small, really malnourished. They are in school, but their mom can’t read, so she can’t help them at all with their homework, and so they keep failing their classes. And here there aren't any special programs for kids who are having a hard time. If you don’t pass, you can’t move up, and eventually you just stop going. That is a huge giant reason why I want to help these guys -- because they need lots and lots of blessings!!!!

It’s been neat to teach Hno Hermelindo because he is so humble and teachable. With him it’s so "by the book", we start teaching him a principle, like baptism for example, he gives us his opinion and why he doesn't want to be baptized, we teach him with the scriptures, really simply and directly, he understands, he changes his thinking and wants to obey. I know that I need to be a little more like that, or a lot more like that better said. We just teach him principle by principle, and see changes in him. We were so happy bringing them to church on Sunday! We had to teach him well about keeping the Sabbath day holy, but in the end they understood. 

They are a wonderful family and I love them so much, and we are going to be working hard so that they can get married and baptized this coming Saturday! We've got to work hard, but I just know that it’s what they need and how they can receive lots of blessings. 

I really don’t know what else to tell y’all about this week -- We are working really hard and having wonderful experiences every day. I really love being a missionary. I just know that this is the true gospel. I know it with all my heart. I’m so glad for this chance to be fighting on the Lords team here. There is so much to do, so much we need to do better, and through the Atonement of Jesus Christ each of us can do better in whatever the Lord has given us to do. I testify that this is the true church of Jesus Christ, that he is at the head, that he directs it, and that all people need to hear about it. I love the gospel. And I love being a missionary. 

Have a fantastic week everyone! I really enjoyed receiving some special emails today and am really grateful for the time you take to write me. Thanks!!

 Hermana Gilland

Friday, October 12, 2012

I am Shocked and Excited About the Missionary Age Change

Hey everyone!

We are doing just great here and I LOVED conference! Whew!

1. Wow the age change!! I’m shocked and so happy! I just couldn't believe it, it was the last thing I expected to hear in conference. I've always said that all the girls should just go even though they have to wait, and now I’m really saying it! Now there are hardly any reasons not to go, because really no one should be getting married at 18. GO! Ha, the first thing I said to the elders watching around me was "who are y'all gonna date when you get home now?!" Ha-ha! Actually one elder here who finishes at the same time as me said that his girlfriend just told him that she’s going now. But I really think it’s just great because I have learned so many things here, I have been able to help a few people, and while my "testimony" is about the same, my "conversion" is sooo much stronger, like in Elder Bednar’s talk I think it was. I loved what I think Russell M Nelson said that the mission would shape the whole destiny of the person. I’m pretty sure just a few family members read this, but if there happens to be anyone reading who is thinking of going, just go. Just fill out your papers and get the heck out of here. It’s the best thing you could do and you will never ever regret it.

I loved all of conference and the themes of repentance, service, missionary work, and how to make it through trials. Something I thought was cool was that they talked a lot about enduring through trials and serving. If we all are about to have a lot of trials, but we are all serving each other, everyone’s trials are going to be made easier by everyone. Isn't that cool? And apart from that, we will all be able to become a little more like Christ. I love that the Gospel works like that.

2. Missionaries love conference for a few reasons. One, because it’s an 8 or 10 hour feast on scripture just for us (and us gringos got to watch in English, the best!), and Two, because is 5 chances to bring people to church in one weekend! We managed to bring 2 families and a few others. I was really happy because that’s the most people I've brought to a conference. We are excited to have 2 families progressing now. We've got a few teenage kids who came and who've been wanting to get baptized, but their parents won’t give them permission yet. We are teaching a few other families here who are kind of progressing...we will see... But this area is so awesome, like I say every week, because there is so much to do, so many people to find and teach. It’s great!!!

3. Familia Martinez Reyes. I think I mentioned them last week, they’re the really poor family who cooked us a delicious meal, are progressing really well and I think they will be getting married and baptized in a few weeks. I have come to love them so much, and I want to help them because I just love them so much. They are so poor. They live in a tiny wooden-metal sheet house and all that can fit in their house are 2 beds. They cook outside on an open fire. And you know how I was complaining about having to take bucket showers? Well I shouldn't be complaining because at least we have a bathroom and a shower - familia Martinez Reyes just bathes out where the pila is, outside. But they are wonderful and I know that the gospel of Jesus Christ is what they need to make their lives better. 

4. We had a cool little experience this past week that Id like to share, about my comp listening to the promptings of the spirit. On Friday we of course had a million things planned and were racing all over town going to appointments. I noticed that my comp packed a few copies of "The Family: A proclamation for the world" in her bag and I didn't know why because we hadn't planned to go over that with anyone. We went about our day, and our last appointment was a little meeting we had organized with a member family, familia Vasquez. We had asked them to invite some recent converts who lived a few houses away, and encouraged them to invite a friend or neighbor who wasn't a member. We were pleased to arrive and find that they had invited a friend, Rubenia, an Evangelica. One of the members of familia Vasquez was going to share a short message on, you guessed it, families. He started off by reading part of the proclamation and then we were discussing it as a group, to see what Rubenia thought about it. Most Evangelica churches around here teach that when you die, you go to heaven but you will no longer recognize your family, and you all just live as floaty spirits doing nothing, all together, but without family bonds. Isn't that sad? Why would you even preach that? Lots of people who go to Evangelica churches don’t actually believe that because it’s just ridiculous that that would be Gods big plan for us, but Rubenia is one who believes that when she and her husband die, they won’t know each other anymore. But anyways, it was a great little experience for me because the member had been prompted to talk about eternal families, my comp had brought copies of the Proc, and we were able to talk a bit about the Plan that God has for us. Unfortunately, the lady had to leave all the sudden, so we couldn't finish up what we were explaining, but we were able to send her with the proc and put another appointment. I have no idea if she’s going to progress, but I've just seen countless examples of the Lord arranging everything so that the investigator can have a spiritual experience, whether or not they accept it is up to them, but the Lord is always doing his part. 

My testimony has really been strengthened this past week by the conference. I just know with all my heart that what was spoken in conference is what we all need to hear and apply in our lives. All y'all in America are lucky that you have access already to the conference. I have to wait another month at least for the Liahona. Oh well. I know that this is the true church on the earth. It just has to be. There are so many things that prove that to me. I love the gospel. I’m grateful for the patience the Lord has for us. Have a fantastic week everyone!!

Hermana Gilland

Monday, October 1, 2012

They are Feeding Us a Ton and I am Gaining Weight!!!!!

Hello everyone! 
I can’t believe we are in October...that is crazy! I hope yall had a great week. We did, it just flew by. Here’s are a few things that happened:

1. Baptism of niños Daniela and Dilan! Yay! Ha. In this mission baptizing niños is kind of looked down upon because usually the kids can’t stay active, but hey, everyone needs baptized right? I prefer to think that they are future partial families that will be ready for missionaries in several years. Anyways, the baptism went great and problem free :)

We had an interesting experience we had teaching them last week though.  They live here with their grandparents, their mom is in the US and isn’t coming back for 7 years, and their grandma is a less active we are reactivating, and we are hoping that baptizing her grandkids motivate her to go to church and spark interest in other family members. Their great aunt Beti, who lives a few houses down, was visiting one day when we went to teach. Sometimes it’s hard for me to know how to teach and where to focus when there is a big group and variety of needs, but we went for it and tried teaching "the Gospel of Jesus Christ" (A of 4) to Beti, talking about how the kids were going to get baptized, how it’s a commandment that EVERYONE gets baptized, etc. And this lady was driving me a little nuts because she was just insisting that to be baptized you have to read the bible a ton and be really prepared, and if you don’t do that you’re going to regret getting baptized. And I ask her "is someone ever going to regret obeying a commandment of God? Is someone ever going to regret doing what God wants you to do?" Well, obviously not, but she was still being all cranky about it and insisting that you have to study for years before you get baptized. Here the Evangelicals teach that a lot, that you shouldn’t get baptized unless you’ve read the Bible a lot and studied and know a whole lot of stuff -- FALSE DOCTRINE! (And if they would just read the bible for a second and think about it, they’d realize that that’s true. Jesus was always talking about how wicked the Pharisees and Sadducees and all those guys were. Jesus’ followers were poor people, people who probably couldn’t even read or study. Duh.) Christ is always talking about how we need to become as little children -- and little children don’t know much about anything, right? We read her a few verses that talked about that and that we should repent and become as little children and be baptized. And then we went about and challenged each person to be baptized -- first cranky Beti, then the uncle, and they both of course said no, maybe after learning a whole lot, but no way. Then we asked all the little kids present, and of course all of them said yes. My comp. then made a wonderful comment that that is why Jesus loves the children and tells us adults to be more like them, because they are willing to obey His commandments. It’s true. Kids definitely break lots of rules and need lots of correction, but they are teachable and correctable. And when we teach them what Jesus wants them to do and how much He loves them, they want to do it, whatever it is. I really learned a lot in that lesson, and hope in that aspect to be more like a child. 

Beti came to Daniela and Dilan's baptism, and my comp said that she saw that she was crying a bit when they were getting baptized. So she knows what we were saying is true. We will be seeing if she is willing to work with us now, or if her pride is still in the way.

2. Something I failed to mention last week is that in this area THEY ARE FEEDING US A TON!!!!  AGH! And I’m gaining weight. I haven’t gained weight my whole mission, and here in my last 2 or 3 months I’m going to ruin everything! But listen, it’s not my fault!! The people here are SOOO NICE and give us everything they have. We just pass the whole afternoon eating and eating and eating. This is my poorest area I’ve had, lots of people here have nothing at all. But they treat us so special and give us all they have. I really don’t have words to describe it, and I feel bad that I complain about so much food because the people are just so special and kind. Like yesterday, our first dinner was with a sweet little family who lives in the boonies in a one room dirt floor shack. My comp found them during the week when we did divisions with some members, and they invited us to their 7 year olds birthday dinner. They made really special food and treated us so well, and they don’t even know us! I don’t know why they think we are so special. In this ward they pass a calendar around relief society to sign up for when to feed us lunch, and the poorest people sign up the most, and it’s because they know that the Lord is going to bless them for their service. It just absolutely breaks my heart to see. And really, I just hope I can be half as decent a person as some of these people who bend over backwards to help us and serve us. It’s really special. 

But the bad part is that I’m gaining a little bit of weight, and the worst part is that I just feel so stuffed and sick all the time. ALL THE TIME. Another example: normally here I wouldn’t eat dinner because I’m still full from lunch, but one day last week the grandma of the kids who got baptized invited us over for dinner and gave us a TRUCKLOAD of food. Here it’s custom for the host to serve the plates, and we cant say that we don’t want something or want less of something. She gave us a GIANT plate of the typical dinner of eggs, beans, cream, tortillas, hot milk-rice drink, papaya, bread. And I was just dying eating it all. But I made it. But then the whole night I couldn’t even sleep because I just felt so full. Then the whole next day I was so tired. So in that aspect, it’s kind of a hard life here. I don’t really know how I’m going to make it another 2 months of constant eating. Yesterday: 1 lunch, 2 dinners, and a snack. Saturday: 2 huge lunches back to back, the snack at the baptism, and giant dinner. Man. I seriously don’t know what we are going to do here. Ha-ha.

Well that’s about all I had to share for the week. Things are going great here, and we are working really hard and rolling right along. I know that this work is really important and I have so many things to learn -- ha, sometimes I think they’re going to have to keep me out a few more months so I can learn what I need to learn. I know that the Gospel is true. I know that everyone needs to repent and be baptized and keep repenting afterwards in order to be happy in this life. I’m grateful for my Savior Jesus Christ. Thanks for everything, and have a great week!!

Hermana Gilland