Quetzaltenango Guatemala

Quetzaltenango Guatemala


December 29, 2014

First of all MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!! Wow what an amazing christmas it was, I hope that everyones holiday experience was just as awesome as mine if not more! It was such an awesome week, I was able to skype the family and see how much my family has changed and grown just in the past 3 months. They sounded great, the kids seemed like they were enjoying life, school, friends, and of course christmas!=) Since on christmas day all of the computer tiendas are closed because everyone is with family, we were lucky enough to find a member in our ward who actually has a computer with working internet and a webcam!!! She even let us use it for free and whenever we could which was such a blessing. Christmas morning in Guatemala was very different than what i am used to, no christmas breakfast, no family, and no christmas breakfast=), but it was something awesome in itself at the same time. Christmas eve night at exactly midnight, everyone in the city shot off huge, high up in the sky fireworks, like the ones you see on tv in the states!=) Hundreds all at the same time, it was crazy loud and bright outside because of all of the simultaneous fireworks, it was incredible! It lasted for about 15 minutes, and then the city went silent. Since we couldn't sleep because of the fireworks and the previous celebrations, my comp and i opened our presents at midnight according to the tradition here in Guatemala. Our 2 presents were from members in our branch, and I also opened Sister Johnson´s present that she gave to me for christmas before I left Gilbert. Sister Johnson thank you so much!!!! I love your gift, trust me when i say that everything that you gave me was exactly what i needed!=) Christmas morning when we woke up, I opened up the package from my dad and grandma, and again it was exactly what i needed!! Now I've got some church music to listen to while i study, and its even in english! thanks!=) After we skyped our families in the morning, we spent the rest of the day with members in the ward eating a ton and playing football, it was such an awesome christmas! Of course it was different from what i am used to, but what an awesome experience it was.

            This week we met with Hermana Ingrid again. We taught her the first half of the plan of salvation which she really loved. She really loves her family, everything she does is always for her family which is really cool. The great thing is that she is continuing to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it every night! I am so happy and proud of her!! She actually couldn't make it to church again this week, but next week she will come. It really is extremely hard to get people to church every week, sunday is such an important business/family day for the people here, that it is such a huge commitment to go to church for even 1 hour. What's great though is that her friend Hermana Hilda told us at church that Hermana Ingrid´s daughter who we have been teaching at the same time with Ingrid, will go to church with us next week!!! This is incredible, the daughter´s husband is very evangelical, and has been telling her that she is not allowed to go to the mormon church. But apparently this week he told her that she can come with Hermana Ingrid!!! It really is a miracle, but i pray that they will ACTUALLY come to church with us this week, it really is so tough for them to take time out of their schedules, i am going to pray for them so hard this week!!!!

              This week my comp and i have begun a new approach, instead of street contacting and door contacting all day which has been yielding zero results, we are going to utilize the members a whole lot more. This week we didn't have a ton of lessons, but we did strengthen our relationships with a bunch of different members/families. The people here don't respond well to being contacted by a complete stranger, but, if one of their best friends talks to them and tells them about how great their church is, they will be interested. This is why we are starting to contact people WITH the friend of the person that we are contacting present. This week we are going to have different family movie/dinner nights with members but with nonmember friends of the members present. And while we are all there having fun, we will be able to teach different lessons with the help of the members but at the same time make the nonmembers feel extremely comfortable and welcome. We think that this will yield better results, I pray that is does!

            So this week we went back to follow up with Hermano Armando and his reading/ praying. When we got there he was not home, but his daughter Olet finally was!!! She invited us in, she is really nice and funny and super friendly. We started off just talking about random things, life, other random things. But, eventually she began to ask questions, then more questions, then 40 minutes later we had already taught the restoration=) It turns out that a friend of hers had given her a Book of Mormon, but she had never actually sat down and read it. So, we gave her some homework, fully explained the importance and the incredible nature of that little blue book, and set a return appointment with her for this week!! She seemed really intrigued, especially since we were answering all of her questions with scriptures from both the bible and the book of mormon. She agreed to start reading the Book of Mormon that night and praying about it, I sincerely pray that she receives that answer of the spirit testifying to her of its truthfulness!!

              I apologize that there are no pictures this week, something happened to my camera and it is not working at the moment, but elder Saldana is going to take a look at it tonight to see if he can fix it. The other elders took pictures this week, but at the moment they are not here with us, so i will have to get those pictures later and send them next week.

            I love you guys, thank you for everything! I hope that you all had an awesome christmas holiday with family, and that new years is great also!! I really appreciate the letters and the emails, I love hearing from the outside world how everyone is doing!=) Have an awesome week, until next monday!
One christmas down, one to go!!!

Elder McLeod

12.15.14 Another Week in Paradise!

December 15, 2014

     Man this week was such a crazy week!! I sent off a christmas package on the 8th so i hope that it gets there before christmas, I think it will. I received 2 packages and 2 letters this week, a letter and package from people in each of the two wards that I have attended, thank you so much!! I love hearing from people back home, I miss and love everyone and I hope that everyone is doing good. I love the christmas season, everyday here the city gets more and more excited for the 24th and the 25th. This week there were multiple parades of kids and adults with whistles and lanterns at night, all were celebrating the birth of christ, and every parade had a 3D nativity scene being carried by 4 men. Everyone here is getting more and more hyped for the holiday season, and I cant help but get more and more excited everyday too!=) 
      The week started off kind of weird, we had 2 earthquakes!! But dont worry mom, they were very minor, and there was no damage whatsoever, they just woke us up=) It was kind of weird though waking up to my bed shaking, haha just part of the adventure! My comp thinks that they were somewhere in Southern Mexico, but we arent sure. I realize that my pictures didnt send last week, I will try and send them today, but I am not sure they will go through. the computers here are not too good.
        Early on in the week we had a lesson with a lady named Santa Cruz, haha ya she has an awesome name=) But, when we went to teach her she wasnt home. So we decided to wait for her for a little bit but contact near her house. We ended up contacting 4 women that we saw sitting on the corner. They were really nice, but at first wouldnt tell us their names because they knew who we were=) Haha, but eventually we got their names and where they lived (All separate families and houses), and we are going to contact them this week!!! Even though Hermana Santa never showed up to the appointment, we got 4 more appointments out of the trip!
     On Wednesday, we contacted a man named Luis whose mom is an active member. Luis lives about a 30 minute walk along the base of the mountain, a little farther away than most of our investigators. When we met with him, he told us that he had had lessons previously with the sisters that had served here almost a year ago, he also tolds us that he had accepted the baptism invitation from the hermanas!! Wow what a find!! So of course we set a date to come back later in the week to meet with him and he accepted. So we came back towards the end of the week and we taught lesson 3. The spirit was way strong as we explained how important baptism is and how only through baptism can we return and live with heavenly father. At the end I extended the baptismal invitation to him....... and he said yes!!! But not to the date that we had asked, he doesnt want to ´´rush things´´ he said. So of course we invited him to church, he accepted, but only if we would walk with him, so of course we agreed. So Sunday morning rolls around, and we hike all the way back over to his house. When we get there, his son comes out and tells us that he doesnt feel like going today. Haha we had him go back and tell his dad that he should really come with us, but the boy came back and told us the exact same thing, that he didnt feel like going today. Talk about letting all the air out of a balloon! haha we were pretty disappointed, and we ended up just walking his elderly mother and his son to church instead. We are going back this week to visit again with him and find out what happend, hopefully next Sunday he will be well rested and eager to come to church with us.=)
             My comp. and I have this agreement that whenever we pass someone and they call us Elders, we have to stop and contact them=) So this week as we were walking across the bridge back into the central market one afternoon, the same policeman that we see everyday addressed us as Elders....... so we contacted him! It turns out that his name is Fidel Castro!!=) Haha not many missionaries can say that they have a lesson scheduled with Fidel Castro this week!! It was a really cool experience, but it gets even better. As we were contacting Fidel Castro, a random man came up to us and started asking really good questions, so my comp. finished talking with Hermano Castro while I began contacting the new man. It turns out that the man had heard a little about the church and was super interested! I explained to him a little about the Restoration because his questions were practically all about the Restoration of the church, he was super optomistic and really interested=) He told us that he will give us a call when we can meet with him this week, and that he is going to try and be at church Sunday ! He didnt come to church, but we are hoping that he gives us a call any day now.
     On Wednesday, we went to go and teach Hermano Arrmando. But, he wasnt home, so we decided to wait for a little bit. Outside of his house were 4 kids probably 13 or so years old, playing soccer. They invited us to play, and so while we were waiting we decided to play a little street soccer=) The kids were way good, and we ended up playing for 30 minutes, it was so much fun!! Eventually we had to leave for our next lesson, but as we left his street, down the hill towards us came Hermano Arrmando on his bike! He apologized multiple times and said that he would not miss our next appointment. We then left for our appointment with Carmen and Carmen......... who had left town apparently is what their neighbor said. So instead of going and contacting, we back tracked to Hermano Arrmando´s house. When he answered the door we said that we were here for our 3rd appointment, and that he couldnt miss it!=) He let us in and we taught lesson 3. Again we explained the importance of baptism and the blessings because of it, at the end I was able to extend the baptism invitation to him.......... he said yes, but only if he receives an answer through prayer that our church is the true church of God. That night I prayed so hard that he would receive an answer, we have an appointment with him this Friday so I guess we will have to wait until Friday to see what happened.
          Our appointment with Gilton and his family fell through 4 times this week!!! They always end up scheduling stuff right when we are supposed to meet with them, haha I pray that this week we will actually be able to meet with them and not have to reschedule. But, even if they do cancel again, we are not going to give up! They told us that they would come to church this week again......... and again they didnt come. We even called them an hour before church and they said that they were coming. They didnt end up coming, but we saw their kids in Sunday school class. Apparently they just dropped off the kids and picked them up after, we didnt even get to see or talk to the parents! Im not sure why Hermano Gilton and his wife didnt come, but tomorrow we have lunch with them and we will find out then. My comp. and I strongly feel that they are ready for the church, and until we strongly feel that they are not ready we are going to keep trying with them.
         Recently my comp. and I have not been getting along perfectly, apparently Guatemalans really dont like people from the states. Its been a lot of laziness, and because I am so new i dont have the right to point out the laziness apparently. I´ve been praying day and night that we can get along, and I think that we can, he just has some personal things that he needs to figure out. I know I am not perfect, and I am praying that I can become better too, but the problem existed before I got here. I will keep praying and try to do little acts of service, hopefully that will help. Any prayers for my comp. and I would be greatly appreciated=) We work together well, but we are very different, and we think very differently. I know that eventually things will work out, I just pray that it is sooner than later.
        This week was a good week, we taught a lot of really good lessons, and my spanish improved. I love you all, thank you so much for everything=) Have a great week!!


Elder McLeod

12.8.2014 Another Week!

December 8, 2014

          I can´t believe it has already been another week! Honestly the weeks are starting to fly by, I dont want them to go by this fast, but time flies when you are having fun and staying busy. It sounds like everyone is doing well and preparing for the christmas holiday. I love this time of year, and so do the people of Salcaja. So far all of the catholic churches are completely covered in christmas lights, and practically every night there are huge fire works shows put on by the catholics, it is very different from Arizona. But I am loving every minute of being here!

            This week was the La Quema Del Diablo, it is a celebration, or a day of holiday. In this holiday, many of the middle aged men and older boys completely paint themselves different colors and dress in only underwear, these people then run around the streets and throw paint on people and try to rip other people´s shirts!! Everyone in the city goes to the city park right in the middle of the city for the main celebration with all of the diablos. We as missionaries are not allowed to go out of our houses for the 2nd half of the day, because the diablos will look for us and will paint us=) So, we were stuck in our houses, but we did get some good studying done and planning which was good. But, since we couldnt go see the devils and the festivities, we gave our cameras to some of the members who were going to the festivities, in the end we got to see the devils and the celebration after all!! Below I attached some photos!

              This week we went to go and contact Olet Estrada who we contacted on the bus last week. When we got there she wasnt home, but her father was. He told us to come back in an hour when she would be home. So we went and street/ door contacted for a little bit. We ended up getting 4 new investigators in the space of that one hour!!! Haha it was incredible, we were so lucky with every single person, we would knock on their door or start talking to them right in the moment that they had some time to listen to us. Usually at night everyone is busy feeding their children or working, so we were really lucky=) When we returned to Olet´s house, she still wasnt home, but instead we decided to teach her father Arrmando. He is a really funny guy, he swears A TON, but he is super outgoing and friendly and was really inviting to us. He does not go to church, and he is not catholic or evangelic, he is ready for us!! our talk with him went really well and he actually invited us back in a couple of days to teach HIM=) 

              The Gilton family didnt make any progress this week, yet again they did not show up to church. It is pretty frusterating, but we are going to keep on trying! Sunday night, we invited them to a christmas devotional by the first presidency at the chapel. The son Jimmy and Tony the employee of hermano Gilton came with us. They really liked the music, and Tony liked how the talks were all centered on christ. Besides this, the family did not make any progress this week, but I am praying that next week they will wake up and come with us!!

                This week we did divisions just between us four missionariees in our city for a couple of hours. I was able to go with Elder Saldana and teach Lacy a girl who is a house made and cook for a family in our ward. She is from momos, and that is where her family lives right now, momos is way up in the mountains an hour north. We taught her in the member´s home that she works in, and the wife was present. We taught the restoration, and because it wasnt me and my usual companion, i wast sure if we would teach as effectively. But, it went super well, and I actually understand most of the spanish that was spoken by elder Saldana and our investigator!! This is a huge blessing because usually everyone is talking so fast and that makes it a little difficult to understand, but this time I understand really well and I was able to speak what I wanted to say. She committed to pray about the church and joseph smith and the book of mormon, and to come again to church next week=) 

                 Everynight this week there have been tons of different fire works shows, some that even last for a full hour!! The people down here are already full blown celebrating christmas, and I love it! There are lights hung everywhere in the streets throughout the city, and practically everyone has their tree up in the livingroom with lights and ornaments on it already. During this season, the little El Es La Dadiva cards that we have are perfect conversation starters. Just this morning we contacted 4 people at the same time! Everyone here celebrates christ and his birth, which is exactly what is on our cards. I love seeing the looks on peoples faces when we talk about the birth and the importance of Christ. Our goal is to contact at least 10 each a day, and hopefully we will get more contacts and investigators. So far, the cards have been giving us lots of new investigators, the church really was so smart to launch the El Es La Dadiva video and cards.

                   This week went by really quickly, honestly the days go by so much faster than I remember 2 weeks ago! I cant believe it is already almost Christmas!!!! I wish you all a great week, and merry 2 weeks early christmas! Thanks for everything, for your emails, your love, and your support. Until next week!

                                           With Love,

                                         Elder McLeod

12.1.14 Week 4 in the field!!

December 1, 2014

Wow I can´t believe how fast this last week has gone! It has been a really different, interesting week. Definitely better than last week, that's for sure. This week we got our Christmas nativity video cards for mormon.orgThey are awesome and so is the video. So far people have been really receptive to them, it has been a good way to start a conversation with people on the streets. We have a goal to give out more than 10 a day, and so far we are on track. This week the other elders in Salcaja had a baptism, an 11 year old boy named Mario Ivan Menchu Divas. But, because there are no baptism clothes here for adults to wear, and since I brought my own, they invited me to baptize him!!!! So, I got to do my first baptism in Spanish this week, it was so different this time being the one actually doing the baptism instead of the 8 year old kid! IT was really awesome though, I had to rehearse his name a thousand times before the baptism cause I was afraid I would forget it because of my nerves, but all went well. It doesn't count as a convert for me, but it was still really cool actually getting to baptize someone in Spanish!!!!

This week we took the keyboard from the church building and got a cord for it. The cord didn't fit, but Elder Saldana worked for the capital in El Salvador on power lines and other electrical stuff, he cut the power cord open, switched the polarity, and sautered it all closed and back together=) Haha so now I have a working keyboard at my 2nd desk in our apartment!!!!!! This is nice to have, but it is so I can learn hymns for sacrament meeting, which I got to play in this week=) Apparently the people haven't heard a piano or music in church for quite some time, many people came up to me afterwards and thanked me over and over for bringing music into sacrament meeting. It was really cool, the spirit was a lot stronger, and I could tell that the people had more energy. Since Christmas is coming up, I had to learn 2 Christmas hymns Saturday night, but for the most part it all went well during sacrament meeting, definitely had some divine help there. After the sacrament hymn which was, How Great Thou Art, a lot of people including the branch president, were wiping away tears. Not gonna lie, the fans must have been blowing dust in my eyes or something because it became a little difficult to see=)  (  Dad=)  ) So now I guess I am playing in sacrament every Sunday, I mean I really want to, and the branch president said that he wouldn't mind. It really does bring an extra spirit into the meeting, and that is exactly what our rama needs.

I hope everyone had an amazing thanksgiving!! I know I did, and I am in a place that doesn't celebrate thanksgiving!=) Here it is called dia de gracias, but people don't have big meals or anything, its very different. But, we did actually end up eating turkey with a wealthier member who owns her own restaurant. It was really good, we even has mashed potatoes with it, but it really was nothing like moms Thanksgiving turkey or dinner. Down here just to have a turkey is EXTREMELY rare, it is so expensive. So it was cool just to have one, even though it wasn't super flavorful. It was such a blessing to have dinner with that sister, she really is such a saint. She let us help her cook the food, she fed us, and she cleaned up, all for free. Down here the people are so giving, imagine feeding four starving 19 year old boys, it would be expensive, especially to the people down here. It really amazes me how giving the people are down here. Today for P'day we got to go to Walmart in Xela and we drove within sight of the temple!!! IT is so pretty, and it looks pretty similar to the Gilbert Temple. In Walmart I actually found crunchy peanut butter, and stinkin frosted flakes=) Haha You cant find that in Salcaja, and if you can, it is super expensive. Apparently we go once a month to Walmart as a zone, but every missionaries P'day is Monday in the whole mission, and since there is only one Walmart, every missionary comes to this Walmart. I got to see Elder Lui, a missionary that I met in the Provo MTC!!! He is doing so good and he is stationed in Toto, it was really cool to get to catch up with some nortes that I knew before coming to the field. Afterwards my companion and I had permission to actually buy Pizza Hut=) Haha talk about the best meal of your life, holy cow American Restaurants really are something else! I actually think that the pizza is better down here, maybe its because of deprivation, not sure.

In the city there are some weird things that I have never seen before. Below I attached a picture of this place that looks like some kind of bathing station, it is actually where people in the city come to wash their clothes on these stone washboards!! It's free, so the women take their clothes down, in the baskets on their heads of course, and wash in this little stone washing station, pretty cool huh! There is also this little place that I found that looks like a sweatshop kind of, i attached a picture below=) It has tons of little sowing stations crammed into a little room, haha definitely a little sweatshop I think.

Speaking of baptisms, we tried to commit Azusena to baptism this week, but she still says no! But, we found out why she wont commit, she is part of the Evangelic church, and she says that she doesn't want to switch churches, so frustrating!!! But, she said she will go to church next week, so hopefully she does. She didn't come again this week because she had a commitment in Xela, but cross my fingers that she will really come next week! I know she knows that the church has something......... but she isn't sure what it is. ITS THE SPIRIT! Haha but I cant scream it to her like that, sometimes I wish I could, but I have to be patient=) 

Again this week the Gilton family couldn't come to church with us, but we taught them a lot more and they are super interested. We even started teaching Tony, a 23 year old guy who works for Hermano Gilton at his computer shop. He is going to come to church with us next week he said, he LOVES the temple and ´´eternal families´´ idea he said, he was married once but his wife left him, now he is looking for a marriage and a family that will last for ever........... he is so ready=) So what we did was we taught them all together. Hermano Gilton is opening a toy store 50 feet away from his computer store, so we came and helped him paint it for 2 hours. While we were painting, we taught temples and eternal families which they all loved. The whole family of Hermano Gilton was present, and so was Tony. This next Sunday, we are going to have the family and Tony at church, but that is if they don't commit to anything else, fingers crossed.

This week has been really awesome, we actually gained a few investigators from contacting on the buses! Our plan every time we are on the bus now is to sit separately next to one person each. By the time we reach Prado, 15 minutes, we need to have taught some points of one lesson, and gotten a phone number or address. Tomorrow, we are teaching someone that we contacted on the bus!!! I am really excited, Olet Estrada, the name of the girl, could possibly be our first baptism!! I love you all, thank you for your emails and your love. I hope that the holidays have been awesome, and I hope that the upcoming holidays will be just as great if not better. I am so excited for Christmas which is only like 3 weeks away!!!! Have an amazing Christmas, but don't forget the true meaning  of it=)

Until next week,

Elder McLeod