Monday, September 30, 2013

"Buenas" from San Lorenzo

The road here is a bridge over a dry river bed.  Unless it rains.  
The rain fills up the 3-4 feet until the bridge.  As you can see, 
the water doesn`t have far to go.  I wore my boots this day, 
for which I was very grateful.  They really are waterproof!

This week was pretty good, the big story I have is that in the huge storm we had (the one where the water is up to the bridge), part of our roof collapsed (a small part) in the other room. My clothes got wet, and a lot of my old letters, (including some cards) drowned. I am grateful now that the Lord reminded me to back up my pictures and my letters. I still have all of them on my camera.

The new camera is great. Things are pretty good. My companion told me he thinks I know more Spanish than an Hermana that has been here almost 3 months. I am grateful now for my semester of Spanish at BYU.

We had a baptism this week! Jaimie is 11 (but says 12) and was kind of nervous. I think it helped to see the baptism of some other Elders first. She really seemed to enjoy the experience. We are also working to prepare her sister and try to reactivate their parents.

Our area is good, and we are plenty busy right now. We should hopefully get a bunch of people to conference to get them excited. We might also have a Wedding in October. Which means plenty of pictures and stuff.

Our branch is small, but growing, and we usually have a baptism every week.

The missionaries are well known in this area, and we say a lot of ¨Buenas¨ which basically means anything from hello or goodbye depending on if you are coming or going. We also use it to announce we have arrived somewhere. It seems more popular than Hola in our area.

There are lot of dogs in our area, and this one was especially cute. He reminded me of a little stuffed dog I used to have called Aragorn.

My spiritual thought this week is about conference. To help myself prepare for the conference this week, I have been reading the last conference. As part of the spirit of the whole thing, I try to make sure I can be open to revelation, and it has strengthened my testimonies that the Heavens are not closed.

For some reason, my study has seemed to focus on how to teach and what kind of person I want to be. Both good topics for a missionary. I especially like how important it is that we build our testimonies slowly over time, and then they are strong.

A thought that came to me that I used a lot is from 2 Ne 31, when Nephi talks about baptism. Probably wherever you are in the world, or whoever you are talking too, they are a little taken aback when their baptism gets close. We had several investigators that were nervous when we started talking about dates. There seems to be an idea, that I even have thought, that baptism is the end of conversion.

For the missionary, we think that because that is usually when we turn the person over to the fellowship of the members. For the investigator, it is because it is the first big commitment that they need to make. It can seem so big, that they are reluctant to do it because of just how big it seems.

I shared several times this week when Nephi talks about Baptism as the gate to eternal life. It is far from the end of our conversion, it is the beginning of years of enduring to the end. We will not know everything, we may not even have a solid testimony that the church is true, but when we decide to follow the example of Jesus Christ, and make a covenant with him, he blesses us.

I think that it is important, that the first thing you do after baptism is called el don (gift) of the Holy Ghost. Because it is really a gift, something that God has given us to help us with our continued conversion. It is the gift that allows us to learn and to change, and to gain a testimony that has incredible strength.

To those of you who feel that your testimony is not as strong as you want it to be (yes, I am quoting Elder Holland a little) I urge you to start reading the scriptures. As you read them prayerfully, and write notes and thoughts as you read, you can feel the spirit testify to you that the church is true, and that God loves you. There is nothing more comforting than this knowledge, that you know who you are, and what you can become. You can become like God, living with him forever in glory.

The big house is the house of the owner of our house (the one with the person in front of it).  I believe they are a mixed member family.  The smaller cute red one is ours.
(See if you can find the error in the picture, look at the swimming pool)

Monday, September 23, 2013

A Giant Shark, Fried Oreos, and more Q & A

Q.  What are you doing for service?

A.  I don't know as we haven´t had service yet.  The day we were supposed to do it, it fell through, and because I can´t speak spanish perfectly yet, I don´t know why.  We did help clean the church though, I got to use my mad mopping skills.

Q.  What do you do for daily exercise?

A.  Walk.  To be honest, I use the time in the morning to shower, and have a great breakfast.  I also use it as a little extra study time.  However today, we are getting a disk of P90X from the Zone leaders, so I will start doing that.

I assume because of all the speed walking we do everywhere I'm probably not gaining weight, its just turning to muscle.

Q.  What is the church building like?

A.  I have some pictures for you, but the building we meet it used to be a house I think.  It is very pretty, and the architecture seems to like large open spaces.

Q.  What does the area look like?  flat? rolling hills? A lot of trees?

A.  Flat, wet, and random weeds (that isn't meant to sound depressed).  We live in an area that has a lot of houses, so although I can see mountains that are green all around us, we don't spend time in that area.  It reminds me of where we live in Lehi actually, but the houses are smaller, and the windows are all barred.  There are a lot of trees that people have, but it is more like the trees we have, they are there for looks, we aren't in the jungle.

Q.  How are you sleeping?  Do you have a pillow?  Any trouble with bed bugs?

A.  I don´t think I have trouble with bed bugs.  I have been sleeping well, because we work and walk all day, and I am pretty tired at the end of the day.  I try however to write in my journal every night, so when I come home I have a lot more details to share that are too long for a journal.

I don´t actually have a pillow, so I have taken to putting my laundry bag inside the pillow protector you had me buy, and ´putting my pillowcase over that.  Its not the most comfortable thing ever, but for me its better than nothing.

The only trouble sleeping I have had is this morning, I woke up about 3 times before 6 :15, and I didn't feel very rested.  At 6:15 I tried to get up, but when I started my morning prayers, I fell asleep again in a weird position so my neck hurts a little.

Q.  Describe one thing you have learned or thought about this week.

A.  I can´t really name a specific experience, but I lot of my week I have been thinking about how we are called to teach those that are ready.  Its interesting to look around and think about everyone how they need the gospel, but we literally can´t teach everyone.  The nice thing about this area is we don´t spend a lot of time specifically finding people.  Most of the people we teach are friends or family of members.  I can only think of really one time so far where we went tracting.  Here in this part of the mission, that consists of standing outside a house, and yelling Buenas, which people in this area seem to say more than hola.  If they have time for a message, we teach them.  We found someone our first try, so we didn't tract very much.

Anyway, sorry for the random sidetrack.  Everyday I see everyone and I think about how they could use the gospel, but we can´t teach everyone.  We find those that are ready, and teach them.

It made me think about how in the missionary work in our own area, we don´t need to call the missionaries about everyone that isn't members, instead, we give them specific names of people that we have regular contact with.  Then they automatically have a friend in the church, and the missionaries have a member that can hopefully go to lessons.

That is another thing, I appreciate more now having a normal person.  Everyone here knows the missionaries, even if they don´t all want to listen to them.  They know we are preachers, and that we do it all day.  But when we teach, and we can say ^^aqui es Hermana __________, quien es su amigo de escuela.  Ella es un miembro de la iglesia, y ella tiene un testimonio tambien^^ (Here is sister __________, who is your friend from school.  She is a member of the church, and has a testimony also).  Suddenly the gospel is more than a good message taught by the Elders, it is something real, that has helped someone they know.  It helps them realize how it can help them.

Q.  How often do you get your dear elder letters?

A. I got the ones from Sept 8 today.  So I guess they take about 2 weeks.  Also, the zone leaders have to make the 3 hour trek to Tegucigalpa and back, so it depends on if they have time.

In the spirit of backing things up, and because I don´t want to carry around all the letters you have been sending me, I have been using an extra memory card to take pictures of my letters.  That way If I need extra space in my bags, I can through them away.  Don´t be afraid, I am keeping my favorites, like Melanies missionary horse.  Also, I will keep as many as I can, this is just in case.

Q.  Are there some branch members you are getting along well with or who are helpful in your missionary work?

A.  La Family Pavon (The Pavon Family) is one of our favorite families to use.  He has been a member for close to 15 years, and his children are some of the few to have raised more in the church.  Especially his daughter Dina (about 25), is really active and has a strong testimony.  Their entire family loves to talk to the missionaries, and are willing to help any way we can.  Usually when we go over there, they offer us free bags of COLD water, which is nice.  For a while Dina cooked lunch for us, but now she is in school, studying law.

They have given us several refferals in their area, and are happy to let us use their home for a lesson or a noche de hogar.  They also have a small shop, so if we need anything small during the week, instead of going to Centro, we just buy it there.

I will admit that this week, especially today, I was a little trunky (homesick in missionary speak).  What made it better was thinking of the success we had this week.  We didn't have any baptisms, but we hopefully set up at least 2 this week.  Also, we had a lesson with the boyfriend of a member, that I could understand almost all of.  Because I could understand, I could help more in the lesson.  I felt it was one of our best lessons yet.

I guess this is my advice to new missionaries, or anyone who is homesick anywhere, look at your successes, your failures are covered by the atonement of Christ, and everything else you can enjoy.  In the CCM, we watched a talk by Neil A Anderson where he promised us the joy of the lord, like the companions of Alma felt.  I know I have felt that this week.  Parts of it were rouph, but I can see how we followed the example of the lord.  I can see how we can help his children.

Elder Henrie

Oreos, fried oreos
Not a normal food, but a good party food for a zone meeting.

As a bonus this week Graig sent his reply to his friend Whitney's letter with more Q&A about his mission.

On the rain:
It always seems to rain like the ocean is dumping on us when I forget my umbrella...ugh.  But it means I can work on being part fish.

Q. What is the time difference there?
A. Theoretically none, I think we are the same as Utah, unless daylight savings time messes stuff up.

Q. What are the people like down there? Is money tight, or are you in a richer part of the neighborhood? 
A. Honestly in my area are some that seem about like our neighborhood to poor.  We don´t have any really rich people.  It is surprising though how everyone still has electricity and cell phones (except the missionaries for some reason).

Everyone in general is a lot more friendly than people in the US.  Everyone usually says hello to everyone, even if it is quick, and if they are eating at the time, they will usually share.  Because people like to have visitors, it is not uncommon for our visits to always be about an hour.  We don´t really do quick lessons here, which is nice, because I am slow!

Q. Do you walk everywhere? are the streets packed?  If so, with people or vendors, both?
A. Yes, I walk everywhere, so I feel really buff.  The streets are pretty safe and open, but there is a definite order.  Horse drawn carts are a lot more common than here.  The order is basically:
Motos (motorcycles)
Bicycles (there are lots of these)
People walking
Dogs, and the occasional cat.

In my area the vendors are there, but most of the food is in more of a restaurant style inside someones house.

Q. How's the food? Hot? Spicy? Yummy? Questionable?
A. Its all a little questionable from the street.  The mission nurse told us to be careful.  It isn´t usually spicy, but the weirdest thing I ate was the spiciest Sardine I think ever.  My eyes burned a little, but juice is very common, so I took a long swig of that.

Because we are right next to the ocean (though I still haven´t seen it), fish is common and popular.  It reminds me of the fish from the uintas.

Monday, September 16, 2013

More Q & A with Mom

Q.  Please describe your apartment... where you eat, sleep, and study.
A.  Right now its a little cramped, with 3 people. It is a little smaller than my room at Wyview but, in general, it follows the Honduran tradition of no hallways, just one large main room, with 2 larger rooms that open of from it. In the main room we have our desks and kitchen area. This is usually where we study and eat. Just off that room are 2 rooms, the bedroom, with nothing much more than our three beds, and kind of a storage room. In there we have 2 wardrobes, (I share with Elder Amaya), and all our empty suitcases, off this room is the bathroom, which has running cold water. Its so hot here though, a cold shower is a relief. Every week we clean it, we just did today.

Q. Is it raining a lot? Are you using your umbrella?
A.  It rains, but we usually use it as an excuse to teach a slightly longer lesson. That is one thing I have noticed here, when people invite you to teach them, they save a lot of time to talk to you. In general, we don't have too many lessons per day, because each one is 1 hour to 1.5 hours long. I bring my umbrella if it looks bad at the beginning of the day, but not usually. If we have to run out in the rain, we just run, and hurry to our next appointment. Last night it was bad, and our last investigators were nice enough to lend us 2 umbrellas, we will return them tomorrow I think.

Q. How are your shoes/feet holding up?
A. The combination of my good socks and shoes has really helped. I think it helps that I am no stranger to walking. When I get home, I pull off my shoes, and put on my flip flops, and just rest for a while. By the way, that shoe dryer was worth it so far. I have used it several times when the water is up to my calves. Which has only been twice so far, but that's twice in 2 weeks.

Q. How many members would you estimate in your branch?
A. We have about 150 people in our branch, but only about 40-50 are active. Its a real problem here. People are ready to hear about God, and learn about the gospel, but it is hard to keep them active when the same network of members that exists in Utah, doesn't exist here yet. Our branch area is huge, and they don't probably see other members very often. I hope that the people I convert will stay in, but I need to show them how they can strengthen themselves daily. If you have any ideas down this road, I will gladly receive them.

Q. Are you using your music skills more now that you are in the field?
A. Mildly interesting thing about that, it seems the unspoken rule in the field that every lesson have an opening song. I like it because it invites the spirit. President Funi (Elders Quorum President) found out I play the violin, and told me he knows where I can buy one, but I'm not sure that's worth it yet. Also, the mission rules say that missionaries should not have instruments, so I don't know. Because we don't have someone to play the piano in church, we usually sing acapella, which compared to the Tabernacle Choir is off tune, but these people sing with their hearts. They sing their testimonies, and I appreciate that. It isn't uncommon to change keys a couple times during a song, and that annoys me sometimes, but it is good.

Q. How are the mosquitoes? Are you using your mosquito net?
A.  I am not sure where to hang it from yet, I usually just cover myself completely with my sheet and curl up. The mosquitoes are bad, but not so bad its awful. Usually during the prime mosquito time, we are in a lesson, and we don't have to worry. I have had a few bites, but not many. If its really bad, I use bug spray.

Q. Did you get a picture with President Hernandez when you arrived?
A. Yes, another Elder took them with his camera, because mine was dying by that time. I need to track him down...

 We have several investigators with problems right now, but our area is rich with people that want to hear the gospel. We should hopefully have several baptisms this and next week. We just need to get our people to church twice (that's the mission policy), and get a few people married.

Monday, September 9, 2013


Q & A with Mom:

Q.  Who is your companion? Where is he from?  How long has he been on his mission?  How old is he?  Is he patient with you?
A.  I actually have 2 companions.  Elder Ortiz from Mexico has been here 16 months and is very good.  He is 20 (I think).  He is very patient, and because he is trying to learn English, he is patient with my Spanish.
My other companion is Elder Amaya, who is here until he recieves a Visa for the Bogota, Columbia mission.  He only arrived a week beforeme, but went to the Guatamala MTC.  He is the first in his family to serve a mission, and is 22.  He is also patient, and taught me how to wash my clothes.  He is from Chloteca Honduras.
Q.  What is your area?  Do you have any investigators you are teaching?  How do you find new people to teach? 
A.  I am in SAN LORENZO, in the termed ´´South´´ part of my mission.
Map of Honduras

Our area is pretty rich for investigators.  We have a solid base of members in our branch and they help us find people.  We also do a little bit of tracting, but in Honduras that means more like walking up and asking when we can come over, because everyone is so friendly.  We got 1 more investigators that way.

We are also apparently quite near the ocean, though I haven´t seen it yet.  They don´t like the missionaries to proselyte there, but we can do baptisms there if it isn´t to distracting, that is way we didn´t do our baptism yesterday there.

We also have some of the biggest areas in the mission, so that means a lot of walking.
We actually had a baptism yesterday, a little 8 year old girl that Elder Amaya and Elder Ortiz have been teaching.  Her parents want to be baptized as well I think, but they need to be married first.  Her name is Marcela, and she reminds me a lot of Melanie, small, and cute.  
Because there was no water in the font, we had to baptize her in the water cistern.  We had to lower her in after Elder Amaya, who did the baptism.  She started crying, and I couldn´t blame her because it was dark and probably cold. Also the only light came from the only entrance, about 4 feet above her head.  

After she calmed down we did the baptism and pulled her back up.
Literally lowering someone into the ground and pulling them back up reminded me of the significance of Baptism, how we ´´´die´´, and arise ´´alive in Christ´´.

Q.  How are you doing with Spanish?
A.  My Spanish out of the CCM was actually pretty good thanks to the work our district did.  With 2 Spanish comps, my Spanish has improved.  In general, I can speak a lot better than I can understand, but that has gotten better as I learn the accent.

Q.  What are you eating?
A.  Rice, beans, chicken for lunch.  Cold Cereal or eggs for breakfast.  Whatever we feel like for dinner.  We sometimes skip dinner because we are busy.  

Q.  What is the ward/branch like there?
A.  The branch has a strong group of core members from missionaries over the years.  One of the first was baptized by a David Bateman, who now lives in Provo.  Hermano Pavon was excited to show me David´s Facebook  as he talks to him often.  Yes the internet is far more common here than I thought.

Q.  Are you experiencing culture shock?
A.  Mostly heat shock.  I am in the hottest area in the mission, and I can see why.  It is probably 70+80 degrees every day, with about 100% humidity because of how much it rains.  I have experienced a little cultural shock, but its all pretty much positive.

You have to get used to everyone wanting to say hello.  Everyone seems to know the Elders, and depending on the person, they are either men of God, or an inside joke.  Apparently its funny to offer us coffee, because everyone in Honduras seems to drink it with the exception of us.

My favorite moment was when we came around a corner, and a little boy (who looked about 7) yelped and said ´´Los Mormones!´´ before scampering off.

Q.  What is the weirdest thing you have to get used to?
A.  That even in our area, everyone speaks a little differently.  I guess its the same in English, but for me learning Spanish, its hard.  The Branch President for instance, seems to like to pronounce words with a "c" with a slight "th" sound, which throws me sometimes.

Q.  Will you do your own laundry?
A.  Yes and no.  I can get someone to do it for me, but I don´t really know anyone right now, so today I did my own, all by hand.  It was pretty crazy.

Q.  What is your Sunday schedule like?
A.  Church is at 9, so we wake up, and check all our investigators to see if they can come, then we go to church.  Yesterday was different because right after church we had to organize and do a baptism.  After church, we teach as normal.

In general...
I am good and my companions are great.  I love my area and I know that we can do some good work here.

Things are pretty good here.

I only have 1 hour to email, so I appreciate you sending me specific questions.  Know that I am teaching and that I love my companions and my area.  I am learning Spanish.
I will try to email everyone else I can.

My weirdest story for the week was when I got out of a shower and there was an iguana as big as my arm and a third longer hanging from our window.  

I went to catch it and it jumped off (scaring me to death), and ran under Elder Ortiz´s bed.  Luckilly, he is our resident iguana whisperer, as he has one at home, and he calmed it down so we could take pictures.  It was huge to me, but apparently small to Elder Ortiz, his is orange and much bigger

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Goodbye to the CCM

Well, tomorrow I leave the CCM!  I have to admit I´m a little sad, I learned a lot here and I had an awesome district.

It will probably take me about 12 hours to reach the mission home from the CCM, but its worth it to be where the Lord wants me to go.

We have spent a lot of the last week practicing teaching skills, and learning the last parts of the Spanish language.

We practiced teaching with another district in our branch, and I got taught twice.  One of the times they talked to me about revelation through the Book of Mormon, and obtaining spiritual gifts.  I´m pretty sure it wasn´t the message they meant to share, but I remember that it was confirmed again to me that I was meant to go to Honduras, and as long as I was righteous, and followed the spirit, I can change peoples lives.  It helped me feel a lot less nervous and excited to go.

My bigger spiritual thought this week is something similar to what I sent a few weeks ago.  That as missionaries, we need to be enthusiastic.  We have a message that is more than a good idea, it is the plan of God for his children.  Our message is so much more than just a way to live, it is way to change human nature.  I know that through the gospel we can change the very way we think to become more like God.
This is the message we are sharing, that people can be happy forever, and they can take their families with them.  That they can learn and become more like God.

I know that people will not accept this message if they do not see the happiness in us.  If they do not want what they see in us, why would they want to be baptized?  If we are not happy, we are a kind of hypocrite, we testify of happiness, and emanate boredom.  Even if people make it past the first lesson, as soon as they hear that our church is 3 hours, they will find every excuse not to go.  Who can blame them? Who wants to sit through 3 hours of boredom?

In one part of of Preach My Gospel, Elder Holland says something like ´´What's the first thing you should do when your investigators don´t read the Book of Mormon?  Be Devastated´´.  I know that people will not do anything if you look and sound like you are bored anyway.  You have to have energy, for them to feel your devastation.

I know that the Gospel is a gospel of happiness, and that we can show it through us.

We are what people will remember and judge.

Good Luck to all the leaving missionaries!  It is a marvelous work!
Elder Henrie

Look what I found in the display case at church