Sunday, May 31, 2015

Sunday, May 31, 2015 -- Week #15 - Day #104 - San Pedro Sula

May 31, 2015

Hi! Me again :)
10:04 pm
6 investigators came to church! And 3 less-actives were visiting!  Yay!  Today was pretty awesome, since it was 5th Sunday we watched parts of the presentation from 12 Apostles in relation to the training for General Conference and the importance of keeping the Sabbath Day holy, so that was really interesting. Like the messages we heard in General Conference in April, the themes of the family and the church were heavily stressed in regards as to how we should prepare for and approach the Day of the Lord and the Sacrament.

On a secular side note, Dr. Cragun and his wife, Sister Cragun finished their mission earlier this month, so we´re in limbo as we wait for the new doctor to start in early June, I think. We can still contact Dr. Cragun, but it´s a little more hit'and'miss than it was before. So that´s pretty fun, Hna Robles and Hna Dester are taking the brunt of the impact on this one. Gotta love changes, right?

And we were teaching a lady today who has a grandson who reminded me so much of Stryker, made me miss home and playing with kiddos for just a moment. His name is Axel, and he´s about 3 years old, he has the same facial expressions-structure and questioning voice and enthusiastic mannerisms as little Stryker, and is a little cutie. He was really interested in finding sticks to whack together and was also trying to figure out how to kick the soccer ball in the goal like his dad was doing, he actually was really close a few times. They definitely start the soccer thing early, that´s for sure.

So that was a fun day, and tomorrow's Pday!  Laundry, cleaning, shopping, writing to families, we have 2 NDH planned for tomorrow night, hopefully those go well.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Saturday, May 30, 2015 -- Week #15 - Day #103 - San Pedro Sula

May 30, 2015

10:18 pm
Saturday!  Or Sabado, in Spanish.  Lunes, martes, miercoles, jueves, viernes, sabado, domingo are the days of the week, starting with Monday, and the names of the days aren't capitalized, nor the months of the year, either: enero, febrero, marzo, abril, mayo, junio, julio, agosto, septiembre, octubre, noviembre, diciembre.  Kinda neat, huh?

Today we helped that family move that we cleaned the house for on Tuesday, so that was fun, had lots of memories of all our moves as a family, and of my apartment hopping at BYU... good times! This style of moving was more of a pick-up-something-and-put-it-in-the-truck-bed type of activity, so that was also an adventure, had to take a few trips to get everything in the new house. But afterwards we had lunch with them, and it was delicious, we had spaghetti and rice and a giant, half liter mug of passion fruit juice with a chunk of ice as big as my fist, no kidding. I happen to like passion fruit juice, so that was a wonderful treat. And as a side note, we eat a lot of rice here, like, half your plate is rice. We tend to have a carb-heavy diet when we eat with people, so at home we eat lighter, more proteins, and more fruits and veggies, helps balance everything. Everyone's amazed I haven't gained 10 lbs even though I eat a lot, I hope to continue the trend!  Hna thinks the secret is to eat slowly, since I normally eat at the pace of a turtle... slow and steady wins the race, right?

Also, fun fact, we tend to teach a majority of our lessons outside the houses of the people, whether on the porch or standing outside the gate or sitting on the ground in the dusty dirt (which is really fun in a skirt), so we can see all around us and have the cars pass us and kids running around and yelling, and the soccer games, and hear the birds singing, and wind blowing our hair around and the sun shining down (really hard) on us. Also we don't knock on the doors, we call "buenas!" and whatever name of the person we're looking for, and sometimes rattle the lock on the gate. And then wait, and yell again, and wait, and if after about 10 mins of yelling and rattling and waiting they don't come out, we call their cell phone, and then if they don't answer after 2 calls we go visit the back up plan person. That happens a lot, but the yelling of "buenas!" is kinda fun, the waiting part, not so much.

So, cool experience of the day, we were starting to contact a less-active family whose house had burned down some time ago, so they lived in another little house in the same property, just towards the back of it, and the portón (the wrought iron, chain-link and concrete fence-gate thing that every house has... not my favorite thing in the world, but it's to help protect their homes and families, so it's a good thing, I guess, also why we don't knock doors, we yell... in Brazil you clap your hands, according to Angie) was so damaged it didn't exist, so we did the whole yelling thing and out came Carol and she invited us "in" the property, so we started talking with her, and I felt the phone buzz in my backpack pouch (since I'm in charge of the area phone) and it was Danny, one of the youths that usually comes on visits with us, but since we were talking I didn't answer. And then, not 2 minutes later, lo and behold he came around the corner of the street we were in and joined the lesson and shared his wonderful testimony. Afterwards he told us he was coming from the church from a meeting and felt like he should be in the lessons we would have today, so he tried calling us to meet up, and then he felt that he should turn down the street where we ended up being, even though he had never gone down that way before. So that was pretty neat, he's a good guy. I think he's sending in his mission papers next week, and Tesla (who also comes with us a lot) should receive her call next week, too, yay!  There's a lot of good youth in this ward.

Friday, May 29, 2015 -- Week #15 - Day #102 - San Pedro Sula

May 29, 2015

10:05 pm
Today was good, went to the office and Pres was there! So we got to talk to him for a little bit. He served his mission over in the Quetzaltenango areas in Guatemala, and learned a few words in Kekchi (The Q'eqchi' language, also spelled Kekchi, is one of the Mayan languages, natively spoken within Q'eqchi' communities in Guatemala and Belize).  And in July him and Hna Dester will have 2 years as mission president here, so my last 6 weeks here I'll have a new mission president, as they serve for 3 years.  So that will be interesting, already excited to see who it will be.

And we walked around all over creation and taught some lessons, it's interesting to see that the children are a lot more receptive than most adults... we're currently teaching 2 kiddos and it's pretty neat, almost feels like I'm teaching in Primary again, ha!  Using lots of object examples and pictures. And really, that's how we're supposed to teach, simply and comfortable. With adults we can get caught up in semantics and obscure points of doctrine, but it is so much easier to teach children. Maybe that's why we should become humble and meek like a child, so we can actually learn what our Heavenly Father is teaching us, and not get hung up on all the little stuff that really doesn't matter to your testimony. Good to think about.

And news from Honduras, we got our pila repainted!  Yay!  So now it's a lovely blue color and the old paint isn't flaking off onto our clothes... kinda a downer to have to pick off paint all the time. Count your blessings!

This is our soap and stuff for laundry, mine's the big green cylinder, pretty neat huh?  It's a big round cylinder because we roll it on our wet clothes and then scrub them, about 3 inches in diameter and 5 in length when it's brand new (as mine is).

Repainted pila, it's BLUE! 

Thursday, May 28, 2015 -- Week #15 - Day #101 - San Pedro Sula

May 28, 2015

10:20 pm
Today was good, although most of our lessons fell through. But we didn't have any hospital visits, so that's nice, and I finished up my paperwork, which is also awesome. I love giving stuff to Pres to sign!

So yup, just did our thing today, held weekly planning, had some lunch, went out and walked around and shared the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. Good times.

Funny story of the day: our last visit tonight was with Karina, and so we went down the street and turned the corner to go to her house, and found los Testigos de Jehovah (Jehovah's Witnesses) out in force in her street, as Thursday seems to be the chosen proselyting night. We made our way over to Karina's house, and there was a pair of ladies talking to her, as well as another pair talking to a member family next door. So we said hi to Karina, and she went and got the keys and let us in the gate, and then we kinda chilled on the porch and talked to the grandma, and then the grandma wanted to go inside, so we all went in the house, all while the ladies were still talking with Karina. Hna Robles felt so awkward, but it was actually quite funny. So they finished up outside and then Karina came in and we had our lesson about the Plan of Salvation. Fun stuff!

Also got myself some Zambos, they're kinda like potato chips, but they're plantain, sliced and fried up and seasoned, this kind is of the chile and lime variety, quite tasty.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015 -- Week #15 - Day #100 - San Pedro Sula

May 27, 2015

10:12 pm
Whoo today was an adventure. Lots of crazy stuff happened... it never ceases to amaze the amount of diversity each day has. Incredible.

Today I learned how to clean a house, Honduran style. (Context: a family is moving into an empty, new house this weekend and the son wanted to clean it out before they moved all their stuff in, so our district went over to help give service, with us and Elderes Lyon, Comin, Martinez, and Wight in attendance.  (So first, you (literally) hose down everything, walls, floors, cabinets, doors, everything, and then you scrub everything with your scrubbie and detergent powder, and then hose it down again and sweep out the water with brooms.  Pretty neat, huh?  So that is what we did this morning, right after running over to Hna Ivin's house and back (they live by the church) to bring the baptismal dress that an investigator in E Martinez and Wight's area is gonna use this weekend to them.  So that was a fun morning, I'm really good at the water sweeping, and it was super nice to splash the water on my feet and play with the bubbles.  Like Mary Poppins, cleaning is a game!

And then we ran to some hospital stuff and then went officing, and taught some lessons, and then a whole nother adventure started.

So, we needed to fill out the baptism record of Pamela, because the original got lost before it could be entered into the Church system properly, so we went to the church building to pick up one of the forms and take it to her house to get the information again. So we walked all the way to the church, and it turns out they don't have the forms there. So we run back to the house to get one from our binder, but we don't have any either. So we call los elderes de Israel (E Lyon and Comin) and ask if they have a form, and turns out that E Comin had one on him (how awesome is that?!) so they hiked over to our area and we met up and exchanged papers and granola bars, and then we took back off to the church again as they rested for a minute on the curb (they ran all the way over to the meeting spot) and then we met up with Hno Levi at the church (ward secretary) and then we all went over to Pamela's house, and filled everything out. And then we finally got home, and discovered we left the house keys at the church, so we called Hno Zavala and Hno Levi had already left (he went back to the church to drop off the forms) but Danny was still there from Institute, so then Danny dropped off our keys on his way home, so we finally got into our house, and then we planned and had a sandwich and got to bed.

Crazy day, I tell you.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015 -- Week #15 - Day #99 - San Pedro Sula

May 26, 2015

9:56 pm
Today was good, Angie came with us on our lessons (which most of them fell through) so that was pretty neat. She just got back from her mission in Brazil and still speaks mostly Portuguese, but it's similar enough to Spanish that I could still understand her, Portuguese is to Spanish what my first few weeks here of Spanish is to English... weird comparison, but basically listening to her talk was like listening to Honduran Spanish for the first time again since it sounded different than what I was accustomed to hearing. Weird. Made me think of Julie, can't wait to meet up with her again.  She's coming home pretty soon, too, right?

And some quotes from our Relief Society lesson this Sunday that I failed to mention:
"No hay precio demasiado alto...Ninguna lucha demasiada severa, ni sacrificio grande, si como con secuencia de todo ello, recibimos y disfrutamos el don del Espíritu Santo" - Elder Bruce R McConkie

"El Espíritu Santo permanecerá con nosotros conforme honremos, respetemos y obedezcamos los leyes de Dios."

"Si somos humildes y sensibles, el Senor nos inspirara mediante nuestros sentimientos.¨

And in English! (I know there´s some errors in translation....sometimes the ideas make more sense in spanish)
"There is no price too high, fight too hard, no sacrifice too great, if because of all of this, we receive and enjoy the gift of the Holy Spirit" - Elder Bruce R. McConkie

"The Holy Spirit will be with us according to our honoring, respecting and obeying the laws of God."

"If we are humble and sensitive, the Lord will inspire us through our feelings."

So that was a pretty neat Relief Society lesson, I seem to enjoy the ones here a lot, perhaps because Hna Diosa teaches faitly often, and she´s awesome. Very animated lady that says a lot of good things, wish you guys could meet her.
I got myself probably the most delicious mango I've ever eaten!
I enjoyed over 2 lunches and was extremely pleased with myself!

Monday, May 25, 2015 -- Week #14 - Day #98 - San Pedro Sula

May 25, 2015

10:17 pm
Pday! Finally defrosted our fridge! We've had a lovely block of ice about 4 inches thick in the top of our little freezer compartment since I got here, so hopefully our "refri" will work better now. Gotta love the laws of physics!

Also, we always haggle with the taxi drivers over prices, so that's fun. Usually we bid 10 or 20 lemps below what they say, and we can meet in the middle. And if they don't want to take us we always find another one, as taxis are in plentitude here.

Also, a lot of people burn their trash, so it's common to see patches black ashes mixed in with the dirt, and little smoldering piles of stuff in the street as well as full on flames sometimes as we're walking around. Pretty interesting.

And it's pretty rare to see PDA here, the craziest I've seen is an older (actually) married couple sitting together and holding hands. Kinda different in the States where everyone's kissing and holding hands and walking around together. But yeah, PDA is definitely not a thing over here, I guess that's a good thing, I suppose?

And we have foods named after weapons and stuff, kinda funny, baleadas and macheteadas.....baleadas because bullets are balas, and there was a story (different versions) about this old lady that sold tortillas with frijoles and queso and huevos, but there was a fight and she got shot, and survived and kept selling her tortillas. So they called her Senora Baleada (because she was "bulleted" or shot), and her type of tortillas are called baleadas after her. More or less the story behind those. And macheteadas are called that because it's a flat circle pastry that's fried and covered in mantequilla or honey, and it has 3 or 4 slits in the middle, like the cuts from a machete. We have a violent history of food here.

But yeah, cleaned house, did laundry, bought groceries, did our Pday stuff, and had a NDH (Noche de Hogar, or Family Home Evening) with Alonso and discussed the Plan of Salvation and eternal marriage, as he and Iris are not married, and they need to get married so he can be baptized. The marriage thing down here is also not big, if I haven't said that already. Most of our problems are because of that.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Sunday, May 24, 2015 -- Week #14 - Day #97 - San Pedro Sula

May 24, 2015

10:15 pm
Today was Sunday! Whoohoo! I like Sundays. Except when none of our investigators will come to church. They want to be baptized and meet with us and everything, but the church part is the sinker. Darn it. But we enjoyed the meetings, at least, so that's that.

The oldest daughter of the Guzman family, Angie, just returned from her mission in Brazil this week, so she gave her testimony in Sacrament Meeting, except she has a very hard time remembering Spanish, so most of what she said was in Portuguese. Everyone was so shocked that she had forgotten her native language, but it is actually pretty normal to have that sort of experience if you learn another language, they just have a lot of the missionaries from here serve in Spanish-speaking countries, so it's usually not normal to have someone like that. I have a little bit of trouble with English words sometimes, mostly the spelling, actually, which makes me sad because I was so good at spelling stuff before. But I doubt I'll forget English entirely, as I still use it on a fairly regular basis with Pres and Hna Dester, and the emailing, of course, but sometimes it's easier to slip into Spanish, and sometimes I think a little bit in Spanish, usually when we're planning. Interesting stuff. But I've found out that I can read Portuguese and actually understand it fairly well, similar with Spanish, I have an almost perfect understanding of texts. The listening part is getting a lot better, and of course I can still understand Hna Robles perfectly. So we're making progress! Yay!

Side note on the religious background of my area: there are a lot of Evangelicals. And I mean A LOT. And then Jehovah's Witnesses and then Catholics. But those are the big three, there's not many other Christian formations that I've come into contact over here. All good people, but the Evangelicals are probably some of the most energetic and interesting people I've ever met. We have some really interesting lessons and prayers.

And also, general climate update: it's really, really, really hot. Like the week after Semana Santa when I first got here. Definitely drinking my water. And sweet Hna Robles has gotten worse, and this morning my tonsils were bothering me, so I took some Ibuprofen and vitamins etc at every meal and drank a lot of water, and we seem to be back on track. Prevention is key here!  It's too hot to get sick, but I think Hna Robles will be okay in another day or two, hopefully.

Also, in Spanish, Sunday is called domingo, but it should really be "dormingo" as in sleeping, because everyone is asleep in the morning before church, the afternoon after church, and not home in the evenings after church. Makes it a little tricky to have lessons and visit people, but somehow it all works out in the end, mostly we have to have back up plans to the back up plans to the normal plans, and do a lot of street contacting. I love Sundays!

Saturday, May 23, 2015 -- Week #14 - Day #96 - San Pedro Sula

May 23, 2015

9:05 pm
Tomorrow's Sunday! Whoo! Today was a working area day, and it rained at about 4:00 pm in the afternoon, and most of our lessons fell through, and it was fabulous. I like it when it rains during the raining part, because before and after it is super hot. This morning and early afternoon was way hot, and then it rained and was a little cooler, and then it was super humid and hot again, but then the sun went down, and it was still hot and humid. But the actually raining part was a lot nicer to walk around in. Vive San Pedro Sula!

And Hna Robles is getting kinda sick, her throat is really bothering her and she doesn't feel so good. So I hope she doesn't get full-blown sick (me neither, please!) since being sick is the worst. Our poor little bodies are trying so hard.

But yeah, today was good, we had these giant baleadas for dinner, about 11 inches across and cost 13 lemps, about 65-70 cents, I think, Elder Markus was telling us the other day when we were in the office that he has to go change all his algorithms and presentation stuff because the exchange rate from lemps to dollars has changed a little bit since we re-updated the prices for everything in the mission (he's the Secretary of Finances... and it turns out that there's requirements (not really, but it's funny to see the same kind of person be the Secretary of Finances): tall, thin, soft-spoken, wears glasses, fair skin, plays musical instrument, preferably the piano, has large family back home, and of course can use Excel and a copy machine proficiently... I think so far we've been on a streak of 3 Secretary's that meet the above guidelines for the selection process, quite funny, actually, as I met the previous Secretary right before he finished his mission, and I can confirm at least these 2 follow the status quo.

So yup, today was fun, hopefully tomorrow's better, and then there's only 1 more week of May! And then it's June, and at the end of June I finish my 2nd change.  And I'll have 4 months!  Crazy, I tell ya.

So I'm gonna go get ready for bed, and then sleep for a blessed 8 hours. Apparently, according to scientists (I love and don't love some things about science) 8 hours is sufficient for people, but I would ideally have 9 or 10. Or at least a nap. But it's all good, we're supposed to finish the day exhausted (and I assure you that we do) but it's a little annoying when you're tired during the day part, even when you're walking around. La mision!

Friday, May 22, 2015 -- Week #14 - Day #95 - San Pedro Sula

May 22, 2015

10:27 pm
Today, today, today... fun times. Went a-hospitaling and a-officing and then again went a-hospitaling, and taught 2 lessons... today was wonderful.

It really is fun on the more administrative side of things, and I enjoy being Hna Robles's companion with all my being (she really is superb, I wish all of you could meet her!)... it just cracks me up how the nurse is "the nurse", but then is also supposed to be a full-time proselyting missionary... I think we manage to accomplish the same ends, just with different means and timetables. It just makes me laugh everyday. Poor little sick missionaries, still need someone to help take care of them.  Two of the newbies (E Pieper and Hna Velasquez) were having trouble with their feet and ankles being swollen, so Pres is a little concerned about that.  It's a little hard for the gringos because we can walk and walk and walk all we want before our missions to help our bodies get used to it, but then we're gonna sit in a classroom for the next 6 weeks for like, 12 hours a day, so there's not much walking involved. Hna Robles thought that was sad and that we should be able to walk more.  But, notwithstanding, our little newbies are quite the troopers with wonderful trainers, so I'm actually quite happy for them. E Pieper is just so darn good at rebounding from setbacks and is always smiling (even when he has no idea what's happening -- which is most of the time), and Hna Velasquez is a darling sweetheart, I love her! This is a really good group, I look forward to serving with them.

Thursday, May 21, 2015 -- Week #14 - Day #94 - San Pedro Sula

May 21, 2015

9:56 pm
Enlightenment of the Day: when we are acting in accordance with what Heavenly Father has taught us, our lives are so much better... our chances of happiness are like the chances of survival as so eloquently explained in the movie "Knight and Day": "With me, without me, with me, without me... " with the appropriate hand signals.  Don't know what I'm talking about, check out the movie or watch a YouTube clip or something, good stuff.

Today we had a bunch of hospitaling, and we also helped clean the church building, and we taught 2 lessons. Whoo!

Hey, big news of the day, in our lesson with Karina (sister of Halsey, she wants to be baptized soon! Yay! I guess that's pretty big news, too, whoops, anyways...) we had milk to drink for the first time when teaching lessons, instead of Coke or Pepsi, miracle of miracles! So that was transcendentally delicious, and much appreciated. And she also shared with us a cool story about this cup of milk that I will always remember whenever I drink milk now:

In a little pueblo, there was a wandering orphan boy who went from house to house for food. Eventually he had to go to a different pueblo, and the people there didn't give him anything.  He went from house to house and went away hungrier and hungrier.  He started to think about stealing something so he could eat, and so decided to knock on one more door, and if they didn't give him anything he would come back in the nighttime and take some bread. He decided on the house at the end of the road, and when he knocked, an older lady answered the door. Losing his nerve at the thought he had of robbing this older lady, he only asked for some water. She went back inside, and then brought him a big glass of milk. He thanked her, drank the milk, and then went on his way, determined to never steal from someone. He eventually was able to go to school, get an education, and became one of the best doctors in the country. Meanwhile, the old lady got very, very sick, and went to receive treatment from this great doctor. She was very poor, and didn't have enough money to pay all of the medical costs. But the doctor recognized her from all those years ago, and decided that he would return the great favor that she did for him when he was a starving orphan boy, so he paid for all her medical costs, without telling her. Later when she received the bills for everything, there was written: "Paid with a glass of milk".
So I thought that was a sweet story, I'm sorry that it's kinda choppy in the telling of it, basically the moral of it all is to help everyone out, no matter your circumstances. There are little things we can do everyday that we might not ever find out how much influence they had for good in the lives of those around us, kinda like the Butterfly Effect (also check that out).  Just pretty neat to think about the power we have for good... makes me happy inside.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015 -- Week #14 - Day #93 - San Pedro Sula

May 20, 2015

9:54 pm
Today we had la Conferencia Multi-Zona! Yay! So that was pretty neat, went from 9:00 am - 3:00 pm at the Benque [Stake Center], ate lunch there.  Had some opening messages from Hna Dester about health stuff, and Pres Dester about the Holy Ghost, and then some workshops with the zone leaders about different things we can do to be better missionaries, then lunch, and then a message from the AP's [Assistants to the President], and then Pres Dester shared a video of a talk from Pres Uchtdorf and shared his closing thoughts. I enjoyed the experience a lot.
And then we went and taught a whole bunch of lessons! Yay! So that was awesome, I got asked the truly important question of whether God sleeps or not from one of our dear investigators, so I told him that we have to eat and sleep because our bodies are mortal and have physical needs. But since God had a glorified and perfected body, He doesn't have to be subject to the frailties of mortality. And so no, God doesn't need to sleep. He thought that was a sufficient answer and made sense. So that was fun.  There's always some interesting thing that happens every day, I'm not kidding.

Also, the equivalent to "head in the clouds" or "my mind was wandering" etc, is "su mente esta en la luna!" or "your mind is on the moon".  I love Spanish!

And also, there's always some fruit or household object or poor little animal that is absolutely smashed flat in the streets from the blessed cars that speed around all over the place. Lots of rats, pigeons, mangos, nani fruit (nasty stuff... it's good for you, but it is not delicious in any sense of the word), shoe soles, plastic forks, bottle caps, random papers, plastic bags of all sorts out the whazoo.... haven't seen any frogs here but we have quite a few little gecko lizards that run around and sometimes get pegged too. Poor little guys.
Our oil that we use for cooking... a lot of stuff is in bags

Also, random fact about Honduras, the people here usually don't sing above a "B" in the treble clef, and the concept of harmony or parts doesn't really exist, so when we sing hymns in our lessons or in church meetings, we tend to transpose keys during multiple passages of the melody to avoid anything higher than a "B".  So I've learned to be a little quieter in the true melody when a "B" is coming up, so I can figure out and pick up whatever key Hna Robles happens to be singing in next. Add that to the fact that I'm trying to decently memorize the words in Spanish, and it makes for quite the exciting adventure every time we sing.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015 -- Month #3 - Week #14 - Day #92 - San Pedro Sula

May 19, 2015

10:24 pm
Today was good, only had 1 hospital visit, got to visit more people today.

Also, there was a horse just chilling in the median between the sides of traffic in the Avenida Juan Pablo... we were walking back from District Meeting and met up with him. Not quite sure why he was sitting in the sun and not the shade, but he seemed to be a younger horse, and was fairly good-looking, a warm chestnut brown with brown tail and cropped mane. Just kinda looked at us as we walked by, not a foot from him. So that was a typically random experience from Honduras... there's something different everyday.

Also, I failed to mention that I painted my toes a beautiful fuchsia again yesterday, Hna Robles really likes that color. So I get to walk around with my little pink toes hidden in my shoes. I have a pretty righteous tan-line on my feet now, looks like I dipped the bottom part of my foot in white paint... yay for gringo-ness!  And a watch tan, ring tan, fuzzy line for a skirt tan, and a prominent neck tan, the back of my neck from my backpack, as it comes up higher than my shirts. So I look pretty interesting, that's for sure.

It seemed to be a little cooler the past few days than when I first got here, so that's been nice, it's still quite warm, if I may say so, but at least I'm not quite as hot and sweaty as before.  So that's very nice. Still manage to get quite dirty and dusty everyday, so that's just kinda a given in any situation here.  But it's all good.

Been sleeping better, haven't woken up the past few days, although I'm still tired during the day and stuff.  But that's kinda normal since elementary school, so we just keep pushing on!  Hna Robles says everything will get better in a few more months.

And the taxis are still crazy as ever, it's fun to meet different kinds of drivers and get to know a little of their life as we're driving around to all our places. Good times.

Monday, May 18, 2015 -- Week #13 - Day #91 - San Pedro Sula

May 18, 2015

9:36 pm
Today was Pday! And my 3 month mission birthday.  Yay! We're already halfway through May... that's pretty crazy.

So we cleaned and did laundry and I cleaned out our sink and shower drains so we aren't always dealing with backed up water... not my favorite thing, especially when the whole purpose of the exercise is to get clean. Yay for not having building codes and standardized plumbing!  We're actually just grateful to have running water, period, so any little improvement in how things work is a miracle. Makes you grateful for the little things, huh?

View from the upper apartment in our house, everyone has corrugated metal roofs, and the people next door to us make and sell pinatas.
 Today we went out to lunch with the Hermanas Lideres Entrenadoras, and since Hna Lopez finished, Hna Archila has a new companion, Hna Virula, who's actually more quiet than I am sometimes.  I think she's from Guatemala?  Nice girl, she's been in Copan this whole time, has about 10 months there, so SPS [San Pedro Sula] is a little bit of a new experience... I can relate with the feeling lost part here, but I'm sure she'll get her feet under her quickly.  Hna Archila is wonderful, I like her a lot, she's from Guatemala as well. Anyway, we had lunch together at the Plaza Tipica over in "downtown" SPS, it's in the big market place thing called Maeco.  And I got pastelitos and chimol, dang those are good. Pastelitos are an empanada filled with rice and meat, not fruit. So it's a little, thick, yellow corn tortilla dealio folded over in half, filled with rice and meat, and the edges are sealed and then it's fried. And you eat it with thinly sliced cabbage and chimol on top. Chimol is sort of like a raw salsa type thing, it has diced cucumbers, tomatoes, onion, green bell pepper, cilantro, salt, pepper/chile (depending on how spicy you want it, usually it's not spicy), white vinegar and lime juice (some just use lime juice). Amazing stuff, chimol.  There's a lot of really neat food here, I'll have to make some for you guys, I think you'll like it.

And we finally helped an investigator tonight learn how to pray, his prayer went something like this: "Father, blessed and holy, thank you for everything. Amen." But it was so good to have him pray, finally. And we then explained that because we pray from the heart, we should avoid repetitious prayers. Hna Robles gave a good example of how he would feel if his wife only said "Hello, Alonso" once or twice a day and that was it, for a week or so. He probably wouldn't feel very happy or loved or appreciated for all the hard work he does for his family and her. So it is with our prayers. One of the things the Holy Ghost helps us with is knowing what we should pray for, as often times that is a stumbling block for a lot people. You might even have a little prayer beforehand to ask for the Spirit to help you. Enjoy your time talking to Heavenly Father, He sincerely is happy when you talk to Him, and really wants to help you in all things, if you let Him. And then we need to learn how to recognize that help as well, whatever form it comes in. So prayer is something we have to learn to do, and the way we learn is through practice. As an exercise of faith, we go forth and work, so that we may gain our answer. It's really an amazing form of communication, if you think about it. Prayer is awesome. (And I can say that because I have a lot of opportunities to pray during the day, as the majority of lessons the people decide that they want me to pray... so at the very least I can offer a decent prayer in Spanish!)

So yeah, things are good here, tomorrow should be interesting, as things always are, but Tuesdays especially are a little on the crazy side.  La mision es tan bonita!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Sunday, May 17, 2015 -- Week #13 - Day #90 - San Pedro Sula

May 17, 2015

9:34 pm
Today was crazy! As always. But good, so that was nice. Church was good, we brought 4 people with us! Whoohoo! Karina and Axel came, and Alonso and Iris, so that was wonderful. Hope to keep them progressing, it's so good to have people come to church. Yay!
Axel, Karina, Hna Robles, Me! (Axel is the oldest son of Hno Halsey, and Karina is Halsey's younger sister)

In news from Honduras, they really do the whole:
"GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" thing when someone scores a point in the soccer game, whether on TV or in the street, so that's kinda funny.

And it is simply astounding that there are so many almond and mango trees there are here, literally almost every house has at least one or two of each kind. And everything is green...great big trees with great big leaves. And there's almost no flowers planted in the ground, all the flowers are in the trees. Perhaps mostly because a lot of the trees here are flower bushy things that have kinda gone wild and grown into tree things. So that's interesting.
Also I've seen some posters for the third Divergent movie and the next Avengers movie I think (I honestly can't remember if we're on number 2 or 3 with that) so I hope you guys can go and enjoy them and don't tell me any spoilers. Gonna have a lot of catching up when I get home... whoo! But yeah, that's kinda funny to see a picture of Thor being all serious and Norse-god-mode with his hammer while walking around the streets of Honduras, kicking around almond fruit and evading piles of leaves and rocks. Living here is seriously like experiencing constant juxtapositions all day long. Kinda weird.
We were (literally) running a little late from a meeting to a dinner appointment tonight, so we ran/walked with our backpacks and everything from the church to our house (a good 10 mins or so) and decided to drop all the heavy stuff from our backpacks and just run with our copies of the Book of Mormon and our missionary handbooks and the cell phone and house keys to the person's house to get there in a decently timely manner (as they lived another good 10 mins from our house) with the food items we had promised to bring, so that was fun to run around our neighborhood, I'm sure everyone thought we were nuts. Whoops. But can I just say, that it felt so incredibly good to actually run for once, man that was awesome. I think walking around with a heavy backpack some odd hours a day for 3 months might help a little with increased muscle strength or whatever, because I enjoyed running much more than usual. Hna Robles had a little bit harder of a time with the enjoying part, I think, but we got to where we were going and everything worked out well. So there. That was my fun story for the day.
Oh! And good news! I forgot to mention that we were finally able to buy 2 light bulbs the other day, so we now have light in both our bathroom and our main living space. We no longer live in darkness! So that's been a big moral booster. Hurrah for electricity!

Saturday, May 16, 2015 -- Week #13 - Day #89 - San Pedro Sula

May 16, 2015

9:32 pm
Today we actually had a lot of lessons! Whoohoo!  Hna Robles has been praying to have new people to teach, and today we met 2 couples that are recently married and just moved to the area since about 4 months ago and the other since 2 weeks ago. Blessings! So that's pretty neat. And besides that we taught most of our lessons about keeping the Sabbath Day holy (tomorrow's Sunday!) and some more how to pray, and read the introduction of the Book of Mormon and 1 Nephi 1. Fun lesson day.
And some more Liahona messages I liked:
December 2014
Lessons from the Sacred Grove - Elder Marlin K. Jensen
The Reality of Christmas - Bishop Gary E. Stevenson
Where Am I? - E Mervyn B. Arnold
How to Prepare for the Second Coming - Elder Dallin H. Oaks
January 2014
Inside cover quote: "Some of you may feel that you can't rise above the polluted pond, that your circumstances are too difficult, your trials too hard, your temptations too great... Remember the stalk of the water lily grows in adversity, and as the stalk lifts the water lily, your faith will support and lift you." - Mary N. Cook
The Best Time to Plant a Tree - President Dieter F. Uchtdorf
The Divine Godhead - President Gordon B. Hinckley
Enduring Well - Elder J. Christopher Lansing
Lovely Landscape!
So yeah, good day, lots of walking around, and it was hot, but then we got some clouds later in the day, so that really nice. And ate a lot of rice today, my stomach feels like a clump in my thorax. It's funny, we go a little bit having to make our own food, and then we get a few days where we get fed 3 or 4 times in the day. Same thing with the taxis... whenever you don't want them they're all trying to get you, and when you actually need one there's none around. Funny how the world works.

Friday, May 15, 2015 -- Week #13 - Day #88 - San Pedro Sula

May 15, 2015

10:20 pm

Pretty much exhausted today, lots of walking around, Happy Birthday to Hna Robles! Hospital visit, taught some lessons, all about the importance of prayer and how to pray, helped out at a stake marriage workshop (put stickers on nonmembers and welcomed everyone), and had mac and cheese for dinner. Good day, going to bed.
We have a gecko living in our house with us,
it's actually just a little lizard that likes to chill
on our bathroom floor or in our blinds. Funny little guy.

Thursday, May 14, 2015 -- Week #13 - Day #87 - San Pedro Sula

May 14, 2015

10:18 pm
So, I'm pretty much exhausted, my poor body. But today was good, lots of walking around and such, weekly planning as a zone, finally were able to buy that brace for the poor elder that fell, and did some officing, and talked again with Pres. Dester for a little bit (sometimes he's talking to the AP's when we're at the office, so we get to say hi every so often), and had some lessons. Lots of stuff today.
E Santiago -- Going Home!
Since E Santiago finished his mission, we have a new district leader, E Lyons, I believe he's called, so that's fun. Our district is all gringos except for Hna Robles and E Comin, but he's from Canada, so he at least counts as an English speaker (he's very sensitive about being identified as gringo... but he's white so everyone calls him that anyway, kinda like the whole thing about me being from Utah... in the end it doesn't really matter where people think you're from), so poor Hna Robles feels a tiny bit left out, I think, but we all speak Spanish with her, so I think she'll be ok.
We also discovered how fun it is to say "bubble"... I think it's one of my favorite English words now. Hna Robles really likes it too, she thinks it's happy and exciting, the Spanish word is "burbuja" and is quite not so happy-sounding.
And also, we ended up singing all 7 verses to "How Firm a Foundation" in our last lesson tonight, so that was interesting. Our investigator was wondering why there were more paragraphs under the hymn, so ended up singing all of them. So that was kinda neat.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015 -- Week #13 - Day #86 - San Pedro Sula

May 13, 2015

10:12 pm
Some talks from Personal Study today in the October 2014 Liahona:
The Prayer of Faith - Elder Henry B. Eyring
Upon the Top of the Waters - Jon Warner
He Loves You - Alice Victoria Weston-Sherwood
Today's topic seemed to be the prayer in faith for an answer during a hard time in your life. It's always fun to figure out the connection between what stood out to you every day in your studies. I figure there's a lot of people who are going through some sort of thing in their lives that requires whatever degree of faith and reliance on the knowledge of the Lord, might as well give some reference material that stood out to me today.

And also, Hno Halsey passed away last night, we got the news early this morning. He's the dear person that was baptized and confirmed about 2 weeks ago. He had a lot of challenges with his health, and in spite of them he made the decision to become a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and was faithful in all things until the end of his time on earth. He died of a health complication after being hospitalized Monday night. So today we went and visited his family, and will go tomorrow morning to the church to have the eulogy part, and then we'll leave the family to have the burial.
Hno Halsey at his baptism

So, sorry to toss that on you guys, but I thought it would help illustrate that the people in Honduras as just as real as the people in the States, and in fact everyone is a child of God that has trials and families and happiness and sadness and everything that we experience ourselves. And you know what? The Gospel of Jesus Christ is also the same wherever you go. Whether we teach the "Plan of Salvation" in Spanish or English, it is the same. And I know without a doubt that there is a perfect plan from our loving Heavenly Father for His children for our benefit and comfort to know about, and that death is not the end of all things. Our spirits live. We will again receive a body, glorified and in its perfect form, and we will never suffer physical death again, in all eternity. And we will live with our families and friends and loved ones.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015 -- Week #13 - Day #85 - San Pedro Sula

May 12, 2015
District El Carmen!!!

10:14 pm
Today was crazy! Had our last District Meeting all together, and took a bunch of pics with everyone, and went to eat at Subway with Hnas Miller and Joaquin, as they're leaving on Thursday on their home flights, and went to the Benque [Stake Center] to give the nursing overview to the newbies, and then walked for an hour all over creation to find a place that sells this special kind of back brace for the elder that fell down the stairs, so we didn't have time to go the office, and then we taught a lesson, and then the other 2 fell through, and all our backup plans fell through, so we walked around and did street contacting for over an hour. And both Hna Robles and I were just exhausted and sleepy the whole time, so that was a really interesting day.
But the newbies seem like a good little bunch, there were something like 10, I think, that came, 4 hnas, 6 elderes, including 1 gringo, Elder Pieper. But they were a lot more awake and active than my group was (I fell asleep 2 or 3 times during the training day when we weren't actively doing something), and Elder Pieper is funny. Said he can teach the Gospel in Spanish, and that's about it for his language knowledge right now, but that's totally ok, and that's exactly where I was just a little bit ago (and still am, sometimes). So there's light at the end of the tunnel! But he's pretty easy going and eager, so I think he'll be just fine. Told him to change his socks often and not put the thermometer in his mouth and he nodded and said that was a good idea, he'll make sure to do that, so I have great hopes for this one, gonna be a great missionary. And, at the least, a healthy one, so I'm all for that, too.

Monday, May 11, 2015 -- Week #12 - Day #84 - San Pedro Sula

May 11, 2015

10:15 pm
Today was Pday! Whoo! Started the day off bright and early with a hospital appointment at 9:00 am, usually we don't have citas [appointments] on Pdays, but we needed to get the results from some lab work and discuss our treatment options. So that was fun.
And we also woke up this morning to Pink Floyd "Another Brick in the Wall" playing at the neighbor's house, so that was a fun little reminder of Daddy... Pink Floyd is good stuff. I actually hear a lot of American music while we're walking around or on the taxi radios, so as we're going around I'm always like "Hna Robles! Yo conozco esta cancion!", and tell Hna Robles that I know this song. And then when a song comes on that she knows she gets all excited and tells me how beautiful it is. We have lots of fun with the music selections.
Also, note from Honduras, there's a ton of street vending, like directly in the street. People just walk among the cars, asking for money or selling stuff for money or performing tricks and juggling for money... it's a little different than in the States when it's usually just homeless people, here it's a viable career to get money in the street. And of course there's the homeless people too, but normally whenever you're at a red a light, you get swarmed by people all walking among the cars. Pretty interesting.
And we went to lunch at Tacotento again, this time with Hnas Archila and Lopez, and I got myself some delicious burritos, with avocado and chicken, they were so good. And some fried red beans, gotta eat them with some crunchy tortilla chips. And had the best horchata I've had so far. I've figured out that when the horchata is more brown, it tastes kinda like the rice was burnt somehow and there's less cinnamon taste, but when it's lighter, almost white, it's more sweet and cinnamony. So I quite enjoyed lunch, Guatemalan food is kinda similar to Mexican, as I recognize most of the options on the menu and can actually order my own food. That's a fun experience.
And the other day I remembered the "Reflections of Christ" project from Mark Mabry, so you can check that out sometime, really neat to look at these beautiful images of the Savior's life.

And in news from the mission itself, today was the day of reassignment calls, as we have changes on Wednesday. I get another change with Hna Robles!  Yay!  Although one day I want her to be able to go to Copan, she wants to get out of SPS [San Pedro Sula] so bad. So I wish her the best of luck with that.
Together for another 6 weeks!  Yay!!
And washed a lot of clothes. I'm getting to be a very good clothes-washer!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Sunday, May 10, 2015 -- Week #12 - Day #83 - San Pedro Sula

May 10, 2015
I got to skype with my family
from the mission office today!
9:06 pm
Happy Mother's Day!!!  To all the moms, but especially to mine; she is wonderful, and strong, and beautiful, and smart, and loving, and concerned, and involved, and spiritually powerful, and capable, and charitable, and a very hard worker, and above all she is my beloved mother.  And she loves me too, so that's amazing in and of itself.  Pretty darn awesome, if you ask me.
My wonderful Madre!

Happy Mother's Day!  I LOVE you!!
Today after our meetings the Primary children came into the Relief Society room and gathered around all the mothers and sang "Mother I Love You" and gave them these little candy and flower basket things they had made, very sweet. Made me feel all happy inside, and I could feel the sincere love these little tiny children had for their beautiful mothers.

And we got to Skype our families today!  That was pretty awesome. Our next opportunity is at Christmas. So today was pretty wonderful because of that, it was really good to see my family again after almost 3 months, I think Samuel's gotten bigger. And his voice keeps changing.  But Lyndsey is getting more and more beautiful and grown up, and Daddy is his wonderfully happy self, and I was very happy to see Momma again and hear her laugh and see her smile.  And it was fun to get all the latest news of what's happening with them and tell some more stuff about my mission here in Honduras.  It's a blessing we can email each week, but it's always more fun to be able to converse in real-time.  I love you, family!

And, lately, as I've been reading through some of the Liahona issues, I came across some talks that I really liked:

April 2015
President Monson Calls for Courage
The Power of Faith - Amber Barlow Dalal
The Spiritual Influence of Women - Starla Awerkamp Butler
It Isn't a Sin to be Weak - Wendy Ulrich
Pure Religion - W. Christopher Waddel
I Need Thee Every Hour - Jonathan H. Westover
The Savior's Selfless and Sacred Sacrifice - Boyd K. Packer
Go Forth in Faith - Anthony D. Perkins (used this in a lot of lessons)

March 2015
Satan's Rebellion - Mark A Matthews
Hold on to the Rod - Elder Ulisses Soares
When Doubts and Questions Arise - Adam Kotter
Strength Beyond Our Own - Elder David A. Bednar
Built Upon the Rock - Elder Orson F. Whitney

February 2015
Grateful for Temple Covenants - Cari Florence

I know that's a lot, and I'll probably just start including a few in my daily entries, but hopefully that should bring you up to speed.  I know all the published entries in the Liahona are very good, these are just the ones that stuck out to me. Gained some new understanding from reading them.

And I also translated some more of my favorite hymns, while waiting for Hna Robles to finish Skyping her wonderful family.

#89 Para Siempre Dios este con Vos
God will always be with you;
With His voice He bears you up;
With His people He keeps you.
God will always be with you.

Until that time, until that time, until we see each other with the King, until that time, until that time, God will always be with you.

God will always be with you;
With His arms He holds you;
With His love He finds you.
God will always be with you.

Until that time, until that time, until we see each other with the King, until that time, until that time, God will always be with you.

God will always be with you;
When you become fearful,
He has you in His embrace.
God will always be with you.

Until that time, until that time, until we see each other with the King, until that time, until that time, God will always be with you.

God will always be with you;
His banner guides you;
Death does not hurt you.
God will always be with you.

Until that time, until that time, until we see each other with the King, until that time, until that time, God will always be with you.

#98 Conmigo quedate, Senor
Stay with me, Lord; the day is ending.
The night is falling and covers all.
You give dwelling to my traveling heart.
Oh, stay, Savior; the night comes.
Oh, stay, Savior; the night comes.

Stay with me, Lord; my heart burns
To walk with You today, the two in harmony,
And Your Spirit of peace will always stay with me.
Oh, stay, Savior; the night comes.
Oh, stay, Savior; the night comes.

Stay with me, Lord; and I can rest.
I entreat you to move aside the wickedness, darkness, and fear.
Give to my soul the Light that will always shine.
Oh, stay, Savior; the night comes.
Oh, stay, Savior; the night comes.

#99 Acompañame
Come, oh Savior; the night comes.
All is dark, and I am afraid.
There is no shelter; there is wrongdoing all around.
In the darkness, be my companion.

Swiftly life goes with hard work.
Your glory, your dreams will come to pass.
Great decadence wherever You go.
Come, oh Savior, and be my companion.

I want to always have Your grace.
Who else can conquer Satan?
Only in You will I find my Guide.
In sun and shadow, be my companion.

And a really happy one! 

#122 Cristo ha resucitado
Christ has been resurrected; Allelujah!
Today, happily hear the song: Allelujah!
With trumpets proclaim: Allelujah!
Heaven and earth sing: Allelujah!

Our King has life today; Allelujah!
And death was conquered; Allelujah!
He died to save, Allelujah!
And to conquer the tomb; Allelujah!

His love has been won; Allelujah!
He has given us redemption; Allelujah!
His agony has ended; Allelujah!
In brilliant radiance He has risen; Allelujah!

So that's my spiritual learning's from today, thought I'd share them with ya.  All the Secretaries were quite interested in my translations today, they're convinced it's helping me learn Spanish faster than normal. I don't quite know what's normal, but I'm at least fairly pleased with my progress.  And it is kinda neat, I could further translate them into how we would actually phrase things in English, but it takes away the "artistic poemy-ness", they have in a more raw state of translation, I think. But if they don't make sense I can refine them further.

And lastly, there's a wonderful little quote on our wall, right above our desk:
"Many times, we think "I'm going through something" is bad news, but if we view it properly, we realize "going through" is good; it means we're not stuck!  Isaiah 43:2 says, "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, and through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned or scorched, nor will the flame kindle upon you".  God's Word here is clear: we will go through things. Let me repeat: we will go through things in life, but the things we go through are the very circumstances, challenges, and situations that make us people who know how to overcome adversity. We do not grow or become strong during life's good times; we grow when we press through difficulties without giving up. Growth is not an automatic result of difficulty. Hardships do not necessarily produce growth or strength in us:  it's not that simple. We must choose the right attitude toward our challenges and refuse to quit or give up.  Once we get through the adversity and challenges we face, we emerge as better people than we were when we went into them."

Thought that was a pretty neat way of looking at "going through something"...means we're moving forward and not getting stuck. Good outlook to have, I think.

So yeah, really good day today, and tomorrow's Pday!  Yay!  And then it's District Meeting, and Changes, and people go home, and then we've started another 6 weeks. Crazy!