Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Week 1: Message for the Blog


I live in the CCM, the Spanish acronym for Missionary Training Center. It is a three story L-shaped building in Guatemala City, on a busy road, a thoroughfare named Vista Hermosa. Members of the church here joke the road is named so because the temple is on the street. It’s a gas station and an optometrist shop away from us, and oh, is it beautiful. We get to go in a couple weeks, when it gets done being closed for cleaning. 

Because there are a record number of missionaries in the CCM right now, the thirteen American girls who are here for 6 weeks to learn the language (instead of 2 weeks like the native speakers) live a couple blocks away in temple visitor housing. We say good morning to the security guards along the way when we walk to the CCM in the mornings, and it’s totally fine, so Grandma and Grandma types, please dear goodness don’t worry. It has vaulted ceilings and Spanish gates and is beautiful. We get to walk to the CCM in the morning and are driven back (all of us giggling in one big van) at night for safety.


Every day we get up at 6:30, come to the CCM for deportes (exercise time - they have a bunch of exercise machines and two half-court basketball courts behind the building), go back to our casa and shower, come to class for a personal scripture study, have breakfast, study some more, study Spanish for a while, do Spanish computer programs to help us learn, have lunch, have lessons from our fantastic and amazing teacher, attend various meetings and trainings and do activities, have dinner, and prepare for and practice teaching our fake investigator, who is pretending to be real but we're pretty sure actually works at the CCM. He drives a red Mustang and his name is Erick.


I go to class with five other people, all from the United States. That was kind of a disappointment, because I thought I’d be forced to be speaking Spanish with natives right away, but it’s good to be able to help the people in my class who are learning. There are four girls and two boys, and almost everyone who is American here is from Utah, though I have found people from Virginia and Michigan. They are such sweet spirits, with colorful life stories, and are really good examples to me. One knows Spanish as well or better than me, so we have fun. On Sundays, we do companion exchanges, where all of us from the US are companions with someone from Central America. I was in a trio with two girls from Guatemala on Sunday and LOVED it.


The food is delicious. We have traditional dishes as well as things like chicken parmesan and Salisbury steak. We can basically have ice cream whenever we want. (So much for getting skinny here!) Also I have tried a kind of cake called magdelana and it is my new peanut butter and jelly. But the best part is the cooks. They’re not Mormon and they’re all super nice and funny. One carves a different food sculpture every few days! The last one was a swan made out of a watermelon - so cool.

I am working on rolling my r's, (practicing for six minutes every night!), finding it weird to go by my last name, in love with Latin America and Spanish, and very, very happy. The first full day, I taught a few Latina girls how to do Indian runs, and we had quite the time of it.

I would LOVEEEEE some letters! Apparently the print Dear Elders out here, so you should do that -lots. Gracias. :)

Ah, there is so much to say, but so little time! I love you guys, I love this place, and I hope you all are doing well. Prayers and abrazos, from me to you.


Sometimes I think we need to package the gospel up into this nice little package with a bow and cute wrapping and wait for just the right day to present it to people.

As missionaries, we do learn how to teach in the best way possible and practice being diplomatic and tactful when we share this message of great importance. But that doesn’t make the gospel anymore true. Does that make sense?

Sometimes, I've wondered, if the church is as true as I know it is, how come everybody doesn't see that? If the church is so true, why aren't people flocking to it? Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles, addressed that question in a video we watched this week about the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

Holland said: “This work has to be hard. It has to be hard because it was hard for Jesus Christ. Because salvation is not a cheap experience, nor a cheap reward.”

There are so many distractions in the world - so many. It’s only been since I’ve been in the MTC that I've really understood how misuse of cell phones and TV and internet time and things can really distract us from seeing what’s right in front of our faces. From watching the sunset. From feeling centered. From being happy where we are. I’m not saying AT ALL that these things are bad - just that there is some benefit to living the missionary lifestyle for a little bit, and I’m seeing it now.

But I've strayed from my point. Sometimes people have so much going on in their lives that it’s hard for them to see the value in the gospel. But people trying to be missionaries shouldn’t ever try to mold the gospel to fit in people’s lives. We can be delicate when we teach, but we should never diminish the gospel or try to package it in some form that we think will make it more appetizing. It is the gospel of Jesus Christ.

It is what it is. And we are lucky to know it.

There is so much truth in that scripture “stand still and know that I am God.” He is. And he loves us so much.

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