¡Hola familia mia!
Well I can tell that you are all anxious to know where I'm at right now for my first area! Maybe you have a small taste of what it felt like to be me! I was going crazy when I got here. Well I'll just go ahead and tell you to relieve the suspense! My first area is Tucurú in the Polochic!!! Crazy right?? So I think you guys know that the Polochic is one of the 2 zones in our mission that is Q'eqchi' speaking so I am going to be learning Q'eqchi' here in Tucurú and picking up my 3rd language! It's really crazy that I'm here and actually starting to do the work. There were only 2 of us that got called to be Q'eqchi' speaking, me and Elder Dilworth who was an AP in the CCM. There are a couple other missionaries that will be in areas with some Q'eqchi' and will learn some as well, but Elder Dilworth and I are the only new Elders that are actually assigned to learn Q'eqchi' and we will have Q'eqchi' name badges and everything! So I'm really really excited and grateful to be able to be born (that's what it's called when you start your first area somewhere) in Tucurú!
Alright so let me try and tell you as much as I can here. My companion's name is Elder Wixom. He's finishing his mission in Tucurú so he will be released the same day as Matt actually and he is just about the same age as Matt too. He's really a great missionary. He was AP for a change (the word for transfer is cambio which means change, so everyone calls transfers changes here) and then has spent one change in Tucurú. He speaks Spanish really well and has learned a lot of Q'eqchi' for only being here one change. He can speak Q'eqchi' well enough to carry on conversations and understand what people are saying and everything. He's really nice and is really a spirit-guided Elder so I'm excited to learn from him and have him as a trainer. He's from Utah I think and he's served all over in Guate so he knows a lot. So anyways he's great and I'm really lucky to have him as my trainer.
Alright so let me back up and tell you more about my meeting with Presidente y Hermana Torres. They are awesome! They both speak perfect English and are really nice. Presidente Torres I can tell is a great mission president. So we had some training on Tuesday with the APs first while we had interviews with Presidente Torres and then later we went to the mission home to have a lunch with the Torres'. Hermana Torres talked to us about health and budgeting and finances and things like that and then Presidente Torres talked to us about a bunch of stuff and answered questions we had about the mission and everything. So they were really nice and really great. I talked to Hermana Torres a lot about her blog and about how my family followed her blog really closely for the 5 months before my mission. So she thought that was cool and we talked for a while about that. So anyways they are both really great and really nice and I had a great time with them. Then most of the missionaries went back to the CCM to spend the night but me and the 4 latino elders went to the office elders' house. I met Elder Mays there and I told him about how we had seen his blog before and everything and he was really friendly and cool so it was cool to meet him. I don't think that I took a picture with him actually (sorry mom) but I think I took one with him in it. Anyways so that was fun.
Then the next day we had change conference where I found out I was going to Polochic and learning Q'eqchi'. All of the shock and suprise made me kind of overwhelmed and I didn't really get to talk to the people I wanted to say goodbye to and everything haha but it was all good. So then we got on a bus and took a 5 hour drive up to Coban where we spent the night in the ZL's house there. There were a lot of us there so I had to sleep in a twin sized bed with another elder from the CCM (my roommate Elder Wadsworth actually haha) so that was quite an experience. Then the next day we had to take a microbus (a big van) up to Tucurú. It was about a 4 hour drive because of some blockages in the roads and everything. Then we got to right outside of Tucurú and there was a huge parade thing they were having with 7000 people blocking the road to the center or pueblo. So we had to wait from about 10:30 to 1 for the microbus to be able to get into the pueblo so we could drop off our stuff. We finally got into Tucurú and dropped off our stuff and got to work! Tucurú is really awesome. It's a pretty big pueblo and its kind of old looking and has a really cozy and safe feeling to it. Our house is a little green apartment that is really nice especially compared to what I thought I would be living in when I found out I was going to Polochic. We've got a decent sized room to sleep in, a kitchen, a little entry room that we use to work out, a bathroom and a little balcony where we can see the mountains and the pueblo and everything. We are definitely in the mountains. It's really beautiful here. It's like being in a really cool jungle but we're also in the mountains. So it's really beautiful, but our area is really big so we do a lot of walking and we walk a lot in the mountains. Be sure to look on Google Earth at Tucurú and you'll be able to see what it looks like and everything.
So a little about Q'eqchi'...They gave me a translation of the lessons in Q'eqchi', a Spanish to Q'eqchi' dictionary, a hymnbook, and a grammar book for Q'eqchi' and then I already have Lix Hu Laj Mormon. So it turns out that Q'eqchi' is really hard. I already sort of knew that but it's a lot different when you hear it and are trying to learn it. It's extremely ancient and a really figurative language. For example, to ask how someone is doing, you say "ma sa sa la cho'ol?" which translates "is there happiness in your heart?" and the response is usually either "Sa" which means happiness or "ra" which means pain or sorrow. It's really crazy and I really know just about nothing about it right now. But the good thing is that my area is a really great palce to start out because theres a pretty good mix of Spanish and Q'eqchi'. A lot of the people speak both or at least understand Spanish, especially the men, so that has helped a lot. So we've taught a few lessons and already we've got a few baptismal dates so that's exciting! For general conference we had to take a 2 hour ride up to Sacsuaha where they were going to broadcast priesthood session and all of conference. Sacsuaha is just outside of La Tinta which is a pretty big pueblo that has a lot of stuff like internet (were actually here right now for email.) You can look up La Tinta on google earth to to get a feel of where we go for pdays. So we went up Sat. morning and then we had to stay there that night because there wasn't going to be a way to get home after priesthood. It is pretty much completely dark here by about 6:45 or so, so that makes things hard sometimes. But anyways, we had to stay in the church building there. Obviously there weren't any beds or anything so we had to improvise. I slept on a row of the typical plastic church chairs and used my backpack for a pillow. I have to say it wasn't the best night of sleep I've ever had. I woke up once and had to go to the bathroom so I went down the the first floor (it sounds big but it's not too huge. The chapel is upstairs with some classes and the kitchen and restrooms downstairs) to use the bathroom. When I turned on the light, a huge spider started sprinting out of the middle of the hall. That was kind of scary cause it really was monstrously huge. It wasn't a tarantula but it was big. Anyways so then we came back last night and taught a couple of families and then came back up this morning. So anyways, I love it here and I'm really lucky and blessed to have been born here because it's a really safe and really great area. The people are amazing here so far and I'm so excited to be able to speak their language and really communicate with them. I'm really grateful or your prayers and your support and everything and I can feel your love and your support so thanks a lot.
OK I'm running out of time so I have to list off some items of business real quick:
First of all I just wanted to let everyone know that I won't get mail very much at all here and it's really likely that I'll spend a good portion of my mission here and in surrouning areas so if anyone wants to write me they should just email me and then I can write a letter back. firstname.lastname@example.org
Hey mom could you get me Mark Thomas' address? Gracias! Also Twoody's if you can find it.
Also my camera randomly broke. The screen got a big crack in it just from being in my pocket. It must have been when I was carrying suitcases or something but it never got hit all that hard and shouldn't have broken. So I can kind of still take pictures but not see them so I'll talk more about that with you later! HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD! I love you tons thanks for your advice and for being a great dad. I really love you. And I love all of you and miss you tons! Please continue to pray for me to be able to learn the language and have the Spirit here in Tucurú. I love you all tons and I can't wait to talk to you soon!