Hola querida familia mia!
How is everyone doing? Sounds like you are all doing well and that everyone is happy back "where the buffaloes roam and the deer and the antelope play." (I'm still a loyal and patriotic Kansan at heart.) Thanks for your letters and for keeping me up to date on everything.
This week has been a great week for me and I've felt really good working in Yalijux. It was nice to have the whole week to be able to work (or at least Wednesday through Sunday) and we are trying to give it our all. Our mission is focused mainly on the family and we are encouraged to look for families instead of individuals to baptize. Elder Martino, who came a couple of weeks ago for our conference, really stressed the importance of families and set goals with all of the ZL's about families. Because of that, our zone has been really focusing on finding new families and baptizing families. We had a zone meeting last week where we set goals and talked about how we can find more families. To go along with that, we just got the translation of "The Family: A Proclamation to the World" in Q'eqchi' last week. So this week Elder Xocop and I tried really hard to plead with the Lord to help us find families, and to have at least one progressing family by the end of the month and to keep stressing the importance of families. We taught a lot of people using the Proclamation and it helped us with pretty much everything we did. We used it to contact and to let people know about how God intends for the family to be eternal and asked if they want to know how theirs can be. We used it with recent converts to help begin to prepare them to enter the temple and be sealed there as a family, and we did the same with less active families who haven't been sealed yet. And finally we used it yesterday to set 2 baptismal dates with a dad and his son who are the only members of their family who aren't members. The mom and the rest of the kids were baptized a few months ago, but the dad hadn't been yet, and the son just turned 8. The dad's name is Mateo and the son is Felix. Mateo had a baptismal date but ended up having some type of problem right before and didn't end up getting baptized. But after teaching him using the proclamation, we were able to explain to him that his family needed him to go with them in the "path of the Lord" (Q'eqchi's always use path or road to talk about things like this.) He knew that he needed to get baptized for his family and was excited when we told him that he could get baptized with his son Felix. So they have a date for the 5th of March and they will be a complete family, so we're already working towards our goals and the Lord has blessed us a lot. We were also able to find about 3 or 4 new families that seem like they will progress. It was really cool with one new family because at the end of the lesson that we taught, he said "I believe everything that you said." So I'm really grateful to the Lord for helping us so much and I'm so grateful for the words and message of inspired prophets of God about the family. I encourage you all to read the Proclamation for family home evening and try to see how you can apply it's principles more as a family and just think about how important the family is. For me, there's nothing more important in the world, and when I think about how I want to be with my family forever, I want to be the absolute best I can be so that I can be with you guys forever some day. Truly the family is ordained of God and the most important social unit in the world. I'm so grateful for my family and I love you guys so much!
Other than that, nothing too unusual happened this week. We went to a place called San Antonio Las Puertas which is about a 2 and a half hour's hike (going fast) away. It was a pretty tough climb, but it was really beautiful. I didn't get the chance to take any pictures yet but I'm sure I'll go there again. There are some recent converts of about 9 months that live there and they faithfully make the hike every Sunday to be there at 9 in the morning and after church is over they walk all the way back. All of them come to church too. So it really was nothing to have to go there one time and their faith has really touched me. On Saturday we had a service project at the church where we cleaned everything and did some work on the grounds (digging a big hole for trash and cutting stuff with machetes.) Almost the entire branch was there helping out so there were a ton of kids running around. The kids kept me pretty busy trying to see if I have katz katz (if I'm ticklish) and they kept pulling my arms from both sides trying to pull me down or something like that haha. So I may have actually played with the kids more than I did work...but there were lots of people to help out. I felt a lot of love for my branch, especially for the kids. They are great people. Things are going fantastic in Yalijux and I just love being there.
On to the shoutouts:
Dad- Yeah I'm sure that it's hard to actually make a decision for yourself about seminary. I'm sure that you are such a great teacher that they don't want to release you, but you have been doing it for so long that it's kind of hard. Ok here is a little more of my daily activities/interaction with the people: Everywhere we go, and I seriously mean everywhere, as we walk down the streets and on the little paths all of the little kids come out of the houses and say "Ani laa k'ab'a?" which means "what is your name?" Seriously I think that I say my name about 50 times in one day. No one can ever say my name though, they just say "Elmer Norte" which is kind of funny. I've started saying my name Elder NorTON (with the emphasis on the last syllable since everything is on the last syllable here in q'eqchi') and it kind of helps a little bit I guess. The adults aren't much better, they always say things like "your boots are really big" or "your hair is beautiful" or "your hair is yellow" or "you're really tall". So it's kind of funny and I usually take the oportuninty when they say things to me to go and talk to them and contact them and tell them about the gospel. The people are generally nice and respectful and when they say things like that they are just being their childish selves, so I just smile and laugh and answer them all and go and talk to them. Some people don't want to talk to us, some people let us in to talk to them but they aren't really interested at all at don't listen. Some people just want to talk with a white guy and some people are actually interested in what we have to say. So we try and contact everybody and give everyone a chance to hear our message. We contact houses a lot and just go in and teach them. I think it's fun Jaja, and I'm glad you know how we say "haha" in Spanish!
Mom- Ok first I'll answer your questions: 1)Yes I got my valentines package! Sorry I forgot to tell you last week. Thank you so much! The candy was delicious and it's pretty much all gone already jaja. I loved the clever scriptures relating to the candy haha. You're the best mom. 2) Yes the members and even the people who aren't members feed us a lot. They give us avacados (in qeqchi "o" means avacado.), beans, caldo, and eggs- always with tortillas. A lot of times they just give us something to drink. But we usually get fed something every day. 3) Yes, I will try really hard to do that for you. The testimony will be a tiny bit hard since people don't really know how to write, but I'll just have someone say theirs and I'll write it down. :) 4) other than the couple of baptismal dates we have, I don't know the names of any investigators that we have, but we have a couple of families. I'll give more details later. 5) Yes I am in Zone senahu and yes Elder Larsen is in my zone. He was my ZL all three changes that I was in Tucuru and he is super funny and a great elder. I see him every Monday and Tuesday when I'm here in Senahu for pday and we always have a lot of fun. He likes to do weird stuff like impersonations like me haha, and he reminds me a little bit of Mark Johnson. I'm sure you and his mom are in cahoots with each other through your little group so that's probably why you asked. Haha I loved the story about dad and black beans and eggs. It's not actually that bad at all. I like black beans and eggs a lot actually. (p.s. It's slightly humorous that you sent me ramen noodles when that is one of the the few things that we can buy it Yalijux! haha but thank you all the same :) ) Weird about Nick Jonas being in Broadway plays. But that's cool I guess. I'm anxious to see the changes you are talking about to Les Mis. Thanks for the info about the new mission president! Looks like he'll be a great mission president. You're the best mom, Love you!
Alright, well times up, but I love you all tons and I'm thankful for all of your support. Thanks for being the best family I could ask for!