¿Ma sa laa cho'ol? I hope there is happiness in all of your hearts!
First of all I just want to say thanks for all of your support! I'm really grateful for all of the emails that people have sent me, they really mean a lot and help me out a lot. So thanks to everyone that has written me. Unfortunately I didn't have time to read a lot of emails and I had to print them out so I will read them a bit later and then hopefully respond a bit to some of them in my next email. Thanks mom and dad for your love and support each week. I can't tell you how much I love and appreciate you. I know that you are sacrificing a lot for me to be here and I can't tell you enough how much I love getting emails from you with your love and support. In all honesty I have the best parents in the world. I love you guys and pray for you all the time. Thanks for your prayers in my behalf and for your encouragement. :)
Ok so let me give you a quick run down of things I want to tell you and things that happened this week and then I'll answer some questions a little bit.
In all honesty it has been a hard week this week. So far I hadn't really experienced real problems with language. I'd always been able to at least understand some things and be able to say a lot of what I wanted even in the beginning with Spanish. With Q'eqchi', it's completely different. It's been really hard for me to understand and is hard to learn with only a few resources to use. A lot of the time I feel very useless in lessons and talking with the people and it has been one of the most difficult things I've ever had to do. But in this I have come to understand something extremely important. First of all I've really come to understand that without the Lord's help, I truly am completely useless. Without his help and the guidance and help of his Holy Spirit, I would spend 2 years down here wasting my time and not doing any good. I've really come to realize more fully what the Lord meant when he said to "Suffer the little children to come unto me, for of such is the kingdom of God" because I've felt like a little child more than ever this past week. I can't even speak or really do anything, and because of that I have to rely on the Lord more than I've ever had to in my life. I know that the Lord is teaching me to rely on Him and I know that He is humbling me so that I can truly feel his intimate love for me, and then share that love with his children here. The other thing that I have really been thinking about has to do with the talk about being the 4th missionary by Lawrence E. Corbrige (I think that's his name..) He talks about how I can be a good missionary and help a lot of people and do a lot of good, but if I don't give my heart completely to the Lord I won't benefit from this work. I read his description of the 3rd missionary who does what the Lord wants to do, but really wants to do what he wants to do. This week I've realized that I have been a 3rd kind of missionary. I've been doing what the Lord wants me to do, but I don't think that my whole heart has been in it. So I've focused a lot on trying to give my whole heart to the Lord; to give up all of my dreams and hopes and aspirations of life after my mission as well as my thoughts of what life would be like back at home or things I could be doing or places back home that I miss or wish I could go to. I'm sacrificing all of that for now and packing those things all away for the next 2 years because I want to give the Lord the most that I can give Him. The only thing that He doesn't already have that I can give to Him is my will. So I have been trying really hard to truly sacrifice my will for the Lord's will and I know that I have been blessed because of that. I have felt a lot of love and have felt so much happier once I started to do that. So I just wanted to let you know that. That even though this will be the hardest thing I've ever done in my life that I'm surrendering myself completely to the Lord and I know that if I do that, that this will be one of the best and most memorable times of my entire life.
Ok! So now that I got that all out let me share with you some things I did this week! :)
Tuesday we went up to a place called Vinaroz which is WAY up in the mountains of our area. Its about 45 minutes in a microbus and then we have to walk another hour to get to the top. It's a purely Q'eqchi area and they don't speak any Spanish at all. When we got there, there was some kind of activity going on so there were a TON of people outside. So when we walked up to the entrance of the little aldea, about 60 or 70 kids came running up to greet us and they all surrounded us and everything and it was really cool! We got some good pictures with all of the little kids, so that will be cool to see. (By the way I'm glad you liked the pictures!!) Ok, so anyways it was really funny because all of these kids were really easily amused and loved us. So Elder Wixom would spin his big book of mormon on his fingers and I would make a snake with my hands and they laughed and thought it was funny. They would all give me high fives and I would pretend that it hurt and they thought that was hilarious. Then they started to arm wrestle me in mid air and I let them all win and they loved it haha, so it was really great. So we have a member that lives up there named Josè who is super faithful and comes to church every week. We went to go teach him and about 40 of the kids followed us to his house! Jose let them all in and then Jose and Elder Wixom taught them all a lesson and it was really, really cool! I got a little bit emotional thinking about how these children were probably a lot like the children that Jesus Christ appeared to in the Book of Mormon and I just thought about how much he loved them and what he did for them. I could really feel His love for them and was just very touched by how special they are. The Q'eqchi people there are so amazing. Jose fed us some lunch while we were there and gave us tortillas with some sardines I think in some kind of sauce. It smelled pretty much exactly like a fresh can of cat food, but it actually didn't taste too bad with the chile and the tortillas. It was just so neat because these people don't have hardly anything at all and can barely provide for their families, and yet they gave us their very best and gave us everything they had. They are such a special people.
Something funny that happened recently was Elder Wixom and I went up to this one house to teach and there were 3 Q'eqchi women that we were trying to teach. Well, all of them kept giggling and looking at me and smiling and pointing at my hair and face and then talking to each other. Well apparently they were all talking about how beautiful my face was and my hair and everything haha so that was pretty funny. Also, I have been given the Q'eqchi name "Kaqi wink" (kahkey kweenk)
We had one family feed us and they gave us a roasted jalapeño to eat. I (being stupid) didn't know that a roasted jalapeño was probably about a billion times more hot than a regular one, so I ate the whole thing. My mouth and throat felt like they had 3rd degree burns for about 10 minutes and that was extremely painful. That night was much worse though. I woke up with really bad stomach cramps. It was pretty bad haha.
And! I'm going to have my first baptism this Saturday! Theres an old guy that has been coming to church forever and has had all of the lessons, but he couldn't get baptized because he wasn't married to his wife. Well just a couple of days ago his wife died, so now he can get baptized! So I guess that's kind of the Lord's way of comforting his loss. We are seriosuly a little worried about him dying soon too. He's ancient! But he's great, so we're looking forward to that.
I copied them but it won't let me paste them, so I'll try and base the answers off my memory real quick
I have no idea what the building with the blue roof is. but our apartment is a little green house next to a big church building. It's nice but we have to take cold showers! Yikes!
Elder Wixom is great. He was AP 2 changes ago and speaks Q'eqchi really well for only having 1 change with it. He is Elder Rasband's nephew so that's kind of cool. He's also pretty much the same age as Matt (Sept 15) and entered and will be released the same day as Matt. So that's kind of cool.
Worst food was probably the sardines and that wasn't even that bad. Stil pretty lucky, but I'm sure I'll get some nasties soon.
We take a truck usually to La Tinta and hitchike to get there.
We walk A LOT in our area because it's a pretty big area. Elder Wixom told me that there are only about 6 other missionaries in the mission that walk more than us or something crazy like that. We are planning to go up to an area that's really far away where no missionaries have gone before where we would have to spend the night there because it's so far away. Woo! Haha that will be fun i think.
We have about 50 people in our branch that are regulars, but last Sunday we had 63 people and we're trying to get 100 people to come by next Sunday. It's a pretty good branch I think. We have a good branch president that is pretty helpful. We ended up teaching primary and relief society yesterday though haha. That was pretty funny.
Lastly we have about 10 people that we are going to try to get baptized this change so we'll see how that goes!
Also just fyi, the Elder that was here before me that was born in Tucuru as well was here for 4 changes (6 months) and the Elder before that was here for 10 months. So that should give you an idea of about how long I'll be here for. We'll see I guess!
Well my time is just about up. I love you all so much. I love it here a lot, and the people are really friendly and nice for the most part. Thanks for all of your advice mom and dad, I will definitely be listening to a lot of Q'eqchi to be able to learn it and everything.
I know that this is the Lord's work and that the things that I am teaching are true. That is what keeps me motivated and keeps me going is my testimony that this church is true and that it is the only way for people to be able to live with their families and with God again. I love you all so much. Thanks for your love and support. I will write to you again in a week! Love you!
Elder Jace Norton