Monday, December 28, 2015

Week 21 - Christmas. Joys and Sorrows.

Hey Guys!

I’ll be honest, this week was a little rough. We got stopped by drunk people way too often for my comfort. But I've never seen a Christmas like the way they celebrate here!

On December 24, things are quiet, except for the Mercado because everyone's out of their house buying things, and getting ready for the festival. At this time, I was really excited, because I was about to move into my new, beautiful house that actually has a sink! At about 2:00, we got a call from the bishop (the only guy in the ward who owns a truck) who told us he had time to move everything. We had packed everything up earlier that morning so we were ready. We loaded everything up and finished moving all our things at about 5 that afternoon. After that, the day was normal until nighttime. President Crapo sent out a letter the missionaries telling us we could stay up till midnight to watch the fireworks, so that's what we did. I've never seen anything like it: literally everyone in the city shooting off fireworks. The noise and the lights are incredible. The fireworks lasted a half an hour.

It was a pretty cool Christmas. There's only one thing that's better than getting a new house for Christmas, and that's talking with the family for an hour. It was a very cool, very special experience to speak with my family over Skype for an hour, and see how they've grown. I can't wait to talk to you guys again on Mother's day!

That was really fun this week, but as many times as there are good days, there are bad days.
An investigator who was very important and dear to us recently told us he wanted nothing more to do with the Church.  This statement describes really well how it feels when this happens.

There's a certain kind of pain that only a missionary feels. Watching someone turn away from the Gospel after embracing it so fully is worse than watching someone die. It's watching someone die spiritually. And honestly, I've never felt so hurt or completely crushed in my life. You visit someone, you pray with them, you pray for them, you sit next to them in church, and you listen to them say, over and over, that they know that this is the true Church of God; and then just like that, their faith is nothing but a shoot in stony ground. When the trials and tribulations come, they turn away, and deny everything they had. You do everything you possibly can for them, as a junior companion who barely speaks the language, and then they're gone. And there's nothing you can do about it.  You see thousands of people say no, you have doors closed in your face, you have people cuss you out, call you liars, call you crazy, and tell you that you're lost down here in Guatemala, but this is the first time anyone has listened so sincerely and so dearly, and later rejected you so coldly.”

What can you do?

You keep praying for them. You keep them dear to your heart, because they are just as important to God as they are to you. And you keep moving forward, keep sharing the message of eternal life. Some will receive it, and others will reject. When your heart is broken, and your investigators, some of your dearest friends, turn you away, you know how Jesus felt. You know why he was born: to bring eternal life. And you know how he felt when every time, another child of God, a fellow human, a dear friend, said no to him. He met and talked with thousands of people. Thousands listened; hundreds of thousands turned away from him. When one turns away, you know at least a piece of what he felt.

Remember why He was born for you. Don't you dare turn Him away.

Thank you guys for all of your support! I love you all, and I think about you guys every day! Keep writing, Happy New Year, and I'll see you soon!

Elder Jeffrey Reed

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Week 20 - Christmastime, and why it's Dangerous


Hey guys! Congrats on "From the Top!" That's really cool!

Guys, it does NOT feel like Chistmas. Zacapa/the mission/my life right now is timeless. I honestly can't believe that we all from the Class of 2015 in Monte Vista graduated and that we all went to our different homes and our separate ways. Or that I got on a plane one day and left everything behind for Guatemala. OR that I speak Spanish every day. New times bring new changes...

Pues, este semana es Navidad! Christmastime is a little weird around here. The presence of the national army has increased a little bit in Zacapa. The nightly fireworks and explosions have increased more than is usual. Extortion (a form of robbery/bribery/assault that's pretty hard to explain) is on the rise. Zacapa's generally pretty safe, but the people are a little rowdier, and a little more dangerous than is normal. What I've been told is that EVERYONE in Guatemala on Christmas either isn't in their house or is drunk somewhere on the streets in Zacapa, so we'll see what happens.

One of the good things that happened this week is that we found another house! It isn't in our area, but it's the closest thing that we could find. A house makes a pretty good gift for Christmas, especially when you've been living in your zone leader's garage for the past few weeks. This house is really cool because it's brand new. We're gonna have a new pila, a new shower, and a new kitchen, and basically a new everything. 

As we celebrate Christmas this season, I want you guys to really think about why we celebrate this holiday. Why do we give gifts, why do we have trees lighted and decorated with ornaments, why do we eat chicharrones con yucca, why do we make gingerbread, and everything else? 
We do this all because of Him.

Testificamos que en aquel noche, se nació nuestro Salvador. El nació para que yo pueda ser librado de todas mis cargas. El nació para que pudiéramos tener gozo, no solo en este vida, pero la vida despues. He recibido un testimonio muy fuerte de esto. Dios es diez mil veces mas interesado en nosotros que nosotros mismos. Realmente, El nos ama, y envió su Hijo, Jesucristo, para que pudieramos ser salvo. El nos mostró la via, y estoy muy agradecido, cada dia, por todo lo que me ha dado.

For all of you who are taking Spanish classes, you're all in my thoughts!
I love you all! Keep writing! I miss you, and Ill see you soon!   

Elder Jeffrey Reed

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Week 19 - Tapataz Discovered

Hey Guys!!! It's Almost Christmas!!

This has been a special time for us here in Zacapa. The works's been moving along pretty slowly, but its been rewarding. 
To start off, we STILL don't have our own house...


There's nothing worse than living in your zone leader's garage. ESPECIALLY when the zone leaders don't want you there. We've been struggling to find a house, but there's literally nothing left in our area. Right now, whenever we can, we're scouring the neighboring areas to find a house closer to our people. 

Christmas time is a special time of year for us. The elders are all excited about Skyping home. We still haven’t found anyone willing to share their computer with us, but hopefully I'll be able to give you more info on that later. I can't wait to see you guys, but I’m afraid I might feel a little baggy (missionary term for homesick) afterwards...

Also, welcome to the ward Elder Carter! We were in the CCM together, and he got transferred this zone after he finished his training. For the first three months, he was in the capital, and had plenty of adventures over there, now he's with us in Zacapa, enjoying the heat and the laid-back environment.

Yesterday, Elder Franco and I discovered a new village in our area! Out past Frutillo, one of the local villages, is another village called Tapataz, and basically no one has ever worked there since 2 years ago. People had told us that it was about 3 hours away from the main part of Zacapa, but yesterday we went from Cruz de Mayo (our area) to there in only thirty minutes. And I've never been stared atr more in my life. We barely saw part of the village, and yet there were so many people who acted like they'd never seen gringos before. Either that, or they didn't believe that gringos had the potential to walk for more than thirty minutes. Elder Franco and I are going to spend a day working out there this week.

A scripture I found this week in my studies (Psalms 139: 23-24): "Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." I love this scripture. The Gospel of Jesus Christ truly is a gospel of change. IF we honestly try to follow our Savior, we will change. There's no other option. Everything we do as followers of Christ is dedicated to improve our lives. God doesn't want us to just wait for the next life and say that we believe in Christ. It's good to have faith in Christ, but "the devils also believe, and tremble." If we follow Christ, we will ACT. We do Everything we can, and I mean absolutely everything, to help the people around us. How does this help us become better? The secret is this: When we give everything we have to other people, we feel happier than when we give things to ourselves. Our nature changes, we become happier. But most of all, we learn that we have a purpose in this life, far greater than anything we could have made up for ourselves.

I love all of you guys! Keep writing, and I’ll see you soon!


Elder Jeffrey Reed