Monday, September 28, 2015

Week 8

¡Hola Familia y Amigos!

This week was pretty weird. Yesterday the power went out, so when we got home, it was pitch black inside our house. Elder Franco somehow had a candle, but no fosforos, or matches (I think that’s how it’s spelled.) Luckily, we were able to get a match from a church member and light the candle. 

This week I had to sign a couple things to finish legalizing my passport, so we had to travel three hours back to the capital to get it signed, which was kind of annoying, because it threw off our plans for two days. When we got to the capital, it was FREEZING. I didn’t realize how much I’ve acclimated to the warm weather here. We stayed with the secretaries that night, and I could not sleep because of how cold it was. The next morning, a group of people went by the apartment with a bunch of drums and brass instruments, and bombas (anything explosive, like a firecracker) at 5AM. At 7AM, we went to the mission office, where I met up with 3 other people from my group at the CCM. Apparently they all have sinks (remember that I have a pila instead of a sink in my apartment in Zacapa), so I don’t know how we managed to miss out on that. The passport affirmation, which should have taken maybe an hour at most, took 4 hours because Elder Busker and his companion came super late from Puerto Barrio, which is on the east coast of Guatemala. 

It rained really hard for 2 days, and then stopped. It made the river impossible to cross and we had to go 20 minutes around to visit Mario and Eva instead of 2 minutes across.

Also, we have 2 more investigators who want to get baptized! Guillermo Ramos is about 50 years old and spends his time either out with his cows by the river, or in one of his two houses. We haven’t found his second house yet. He gave us directions, but the directions here are more like descriptions. An example of detailed directions would be: "I live in that part (point) of the city, in the grey house, seven houses down."

Rafael's wife also accepted the baptismal invitation. She lives out in Frutillo in one big house. Kevin, Danilo, and Rafael's family all live together, so it’s really noisy all the time. While we were teaching them yesterday, two dogs started fighting outside, so Maria grabs a bucket of water and chucks it on them. It worked, but it was kind of strange to witness.

Elder Franco is a fairly quiet fellow. He’s learning English pretty slowly, and I’m teaching him as much as I can.  From my group in the CCM, I’m alone here in Zacapa. The language is slowly coming, too. I’m learning to pick individual words and the general concept out of a sentence, but I still don’t understand specific meanings. I’m able to get across what I’m trying to say, though.  A good set of scriptures describes the way it is right now: Jeremiah 1:6-8. This has given me a bit of comfort as I’ve been working.

I love you guys! Thank you for all the support you give me! I promise I’ll have pictures for you next time!

Elder Jeffrey Reed

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Week 7

Hey guys!

I’m in my first area right now- ZACAPA! It’s a small city a couple hours east of the capital. It’s SO HOT here- literally like Arizona every day. 

My new companion is named Elder Franco. He’s a small little guy from Panama who doesn’t speak a word of English, and I can only communicate with him through my broken Spanish. Also, people here don’t talk very fast, but they have a pretty strong accent. They drop their S's left and right, and combine their words all day long.

I live in a small cement building with no air conditioning (no one has air conditioning here; it’s too expensive) and barely enough for electricity. On the first day I was here, the bus lost my luggage, so I had to go without supplies for a day. That was fun...

It’s beautiful here! We get basically no rain during the day, but at night, there are storm clouds covering every part of the horizon, and the lightning will light up random spots of the horizon everywhere you look. It’s really cool.

There are about as many dogs here as people, or 'chuchos' as the natives call them. They're all wild. I haven’t been bitten yet, but I figure the reason that Zacapa doesn’t have crime is because everyone’s too scared of upsetting a dog to do anything stupid. They roam the cobblestone streets everywhere, and all have personalities. Some are quiet, and some are loud, some are nice, and some are mean. I’m more scared of being mugged by a dog than a human here.

OK, so my area I’m serving in isn’t only the city; it goes to the outskirts of town by a river, where it’s basically like a sparse forest. It also extends past the outskirts to a little village called Frutillo, in the middle of the desert. People here live in cement houses or worse, usually a room is outdoors, like our house. They done have sinks; they have three-basin tubs with a hose spouting water in called pilas. Typically, a pila lets the dirty water run directly out of the basin onto the ground. 

OK- let me introduce you to the crew. There’s Elder Franco, my trainer. He can’t really communicate with me that well, but we make it work. He’s being very patient with me as I learn how to speak to people, and he works hard. He’s been out here for 8 months now, and I’m the first person he has trained. I’m currently teaching him how to pray in English. We have 6 investigators who want to get baptized- Flor De Dalia, Danilo, Rafael, Mario, Eva, and Kevin. Mario and Eva are progressing pretty slowly, as is Flor, but the other three are learning rapidly. They haven’t been to church yet, so were gonna invite them to church next. The work is great here, and there's almost no danger from people. 

I miss you guys! Keep working hard and learning to see the hand of the Lord in your life! 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Week 6

This week Jeff left the missionary training center and entered the Guatemala City East mission.  We will not receive an email from Jeff this week, but here are a couple pictures and brief message from the mission president.

"We are very happy to inform you that Elder Reed has arrived safely in the Guatemala East Mission. It is a great blessing to have him with us and we look forward to serving with him.

Monday is the preparation day in our mission and each missionary is encouraged to write his or her family each Monday. If possible, e-mail is the best way to communicate. Missionaries are only authorized to use their church e-mail account and should not use other web sites or services such as Facebook. It is also important for our missionaries to receive word from home. It seems that the most happy and productive missionaries are those who receive active support from their family, friends and priesthood leaders with regular and positive letters."
Thank you to everyone for your support of Jeff while he's on his mission.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Week 5

¡Hola Amigos y Familia!

So in 5 days, I am going to be out and about among the people of Guatemala, and I’ll be able to send pictures soon! Everyone´s getting really, really tired of the CCM.  [Jeff leaves on the training center for the mission home next Tuesday morning, so this will likely be his last email from the CCM] 

So... Interesting things that happened this week...

On the last P-Day, after I sent you an e-mail, I was exploring what was in the ceiling above our room after deportes [sports], and I found a book full of the other testimonies of elders who had gone through the CCM. That was really neat, and over the past 9 days we´ve been able to read through the words that other elders left behind for us. We also found a small sculpture of a sheep made of corn husks and wood with the book, too. 

It rained for 5 days straight, and since then, it’s been pretty dry. We have orientation tomorrow, and I think the thing I’m most worried about is this tropical disease called Chikingunya. Apparently it freezes up all your joints and hurts really bad. I don’t know if Jodi wrote you about it, but apparently her companion [Sister Logan] got it before they were transferred together. We´ll see, though.

Overall, it’s been just another week of studying and preparing. I promise I’ll have more exciting things to write about next week when I’m in the field. 

I had a pretty nice spiritual experience this week. One of the other elders was having a rough time learning the language and was pretty frustrated with the work in general, so I shared a scripture in Ether 12 about how the Lord makes weak things strong. Apparently this scripture was an answer to his prayer, and he shared with me a scripture afterward: "As iron sharpeneth iron, so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend." [Proverbs 27:17] I know that I haven’t been able to work with any of the Guatemaltecos yet, but I’ve been able to make a difference to the people around me, and that has made all the difference in how successful my time has been at the CCM. 

I love you all! And I’ll talk to you later, when I’m attempting to speak Spanish and working my hardest!


Elder Jeffrey Reed

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Week 4

¡Hola Familia!

Guess what happened this week?

Nothing at all that was really significant...

Right now, Guatemala is in the middle of their rainy season from May to October. The amount of rain we´ve had this week could have solved the California drought. It's really nice when it rains, because when you don’t feel like playing volleyball while taking a shower, you can go into the gym, which has a wonderful tin roof. There is nothing like the sound of rain beating down on a tin roof. It rained all day yesterday, and the P-Day before that. The clouds hang really low in the sky, too, so when lightning strikes, sometimes, it’s as loud as a gunshot. There is nothing more energizing than hearing thunder up close. I love it here.

Scorpion, when was the last time you had fried plantains? They’re a staple down here. I’m open to basically any food, and they're not bad! I have a new favorite fruit, too. They're called lychee and they look like tiny little dragon fruits. They're really good.

CCM humor is really really really really really really really really really stupid. The funniest things at the CCM are the word "clean" and smacking things out of people´s hands. Whenever we´re not studying, we´re back in Deacon´s Quorum...

I’ve been focusing my study on the Atonement for the past week, and you know how in every picture of Jesus, he´s always straight-faced? I don´t remember the last time I saw a picture of Jesus smiling. Kind of random, but it was something I was thinking about as I was studying this week. Christ may have lived a perfect life, but he was still just as human as you or I. How else could he know the needs of the people he worked with?  He smiled with them, laughed with them, cried with them, and did everything in his power (which was a lot) to bless their lives. He was subject to the same pains, the same trials, the same temptations, and the same sufrimientos (suffering) that life has to offer. What made him perfect, what made him our Savior and Redeemer was not that his perfection made him beyond the pains of the world; what made Jesus our Savior was that his perfection made him constantly subject to the tortures of sorrow; Jesus was the Son of God, but he was born into this world in imperfection, that he would better know how to succor his people. I am so grateful that he knows who I am, and that he knows exactly what my life is like. 


Elder Jeffrey Reed