Friday, July 12, 2013

Interviews with President, Socialized Medicine, etc

Hello family and friends!!

This week was pretty odd. But pretty cool. I have to start by saying that I AM IN THE JULY LIAHONA!......But only in Central America. There is an article in the Central America local pages about new missionaries and the new training schedule in the CCM and because my group was the first to go straight to Guatemala, our CCM group is the picture for the article. I am super tiny in the picture, but hey, I'm pretty much famous. I bought a few copies and I'll send them home soon (I figured Mom would want a few...). Anyway, when they get there the article is on page P4. The work has been tough in our area lately. We went out with a member, who even had a car, and we went through 6 attempted visits in an hour. No one was home. We ended up visiting 2 member families because they WERE home. The member that we went with is named Nefi. He reminds me a lot of Jerry. He has the same personality, and he is a great guy. And he is also big like Jerry (but not as big as Jerry. No one here is that big...). Our area is a richer area. In some neighborhoods everyone has a car. In Apopa, I knew 2 or 3 members who had cars. Also, you can tell they are richer/more educated by the way they speak. For example, it is much more common here to here the -se form of the past subjunctive here than in Apopa. So something kind of crazy happened this week. We were climbing some stairs that lead up to a neighborhood called Las Brisas (there are 296 stairs, I counted...) and we ran into about 5 dogs. They weren't too happy with us, but we didn't worry too much about it. I always pull off my backpack and put it in between me and any sketchy dog when they are close to us like that, but Elder Vaughan just kept walking by. After he passed, one of the dogs bit him on the back of his thigh! He wheeled around and almost kicked it in the face, and we then had to fight them off a little bit. It is funny because there was someone there in their house and they just told us to move along because the dogs don't bite. Elder Vaughan begged to differ... Anyway, because he got bit and it punctured the skin, we have been traveling around trying to get anti-rabies treatment because it was a street dog. We went to a private hospital, but they just referred us to a local health clinic. SKETCHY. And we learned what socialized medicine is really like. Today we woke up early to go to the clinic. They told us to go wait over by the immunizations place, and we waited there for about an hour. The other departments are all along the same hallway, so in that hour, we saw that NOT A SINGLE PERSON WAS TREATED. Not one. The doctors and nurses were walking around eating and chatting and telling us 'ya los van a atender', or 'they're going to attend to you right now'. After an hour I talked to someone about it because I was beyond sick of waiting and they finally let us go in. BUT, they told us that the consult with the private hospital was not good enough and that we had to go get a consult there in the clinic. We went out to where that line was, and there were over 200 people, and no one was being attended to. So we bounced. I think that if all parents had to take their children to a socialized healthcare clinic like that, they would never even THINK about voting to socialize medicine. But I guess I just got a sneak peak at Obamacare; not impressed. This week we also had interviews with President Glazier. Usually he has a theme prepared, but this week he just let us ask questions so that he could 'minister' to us. It was really a unique opportunity, and I came away with some new goals. Also, I told him about some of the difficulties in our area (like there not being people in the street to talk to) and he chose me to do a little 'pilot project' for him. For two weeks, Elder Vaughan and I have to wake up at 6 to leave the house at 7 to contact families on the way to drop their kids off at school. That way we can get references of families while there are people in the street. After the two weeks I have to give a little report about how it went. So I am hoping it goes well. The sacrifice will hopefully bring the blessings we need in our area. That is the message for the week. I have shared it with investigators, with less active families, and now with you: Sacrifice. Living the gospel is not always the easiest thing to do. It can be tough to break out the scriptures and study a little bit every day. It can be hard to get into a routine of daily personal and family prayer. It can be hard to make good decisions every day. But when we sacrifice our own will, our own pride, our own time and effort to try to live the way Christ taught us to, and the way he expects us to live, we receive blessings beyond that which we can even imagine. As humans we tend to see a very limited scope of how things really are. I think that if we could see things the way God sees them, we would see that EVERY SINGLE sacrifice that we make brings a blessing. Every time we put off a bad thought, every time we get out of bed and go to church even though we feel tired, every time we make time to read the Book of Mormon, we receive blessings. And if we could watch from an outside perspective, we would see that as we make these sacrifices, we are literally guided and strengthened as we go about our daily activities. So lets make sacrifices. Let's be willing to do things we may not want to do. When we do that, step by step we are 'putting off the natural man'. One of the great lessons that I have learned from my Mom, and perhaps one of my favorites, is something that she sent me in a letter a few weeks ago. It is that 'I CAN DO HARD THINGS.' She can do hard things, I can do hard things, and you can too. That being said, let's do hard things. And lets start by reading 531 pages before the end of the year (hint: that is the Book of Mormon!). President Glazier has encouraged that each of us missionaries read it again before the year is over. And lets be honest, you guys are lucky, I am reading it in Spanish and it has 642 pages. I know that the influence and guidance of the Spirit that will enter your life when you begin to read daily is something that you can not afford NOT to have. I love you guys. You're the best. Let's work hard this week.


Elder Andreasen

Monday, July 8, 2013

Hello everyone!

This week was pretty crazy. We had to finalize the split of the mission, set up new financial systems here for our new mission, stuff like that. It's pretty cool because when we need money in the office, the check is written in MY NAME and I go pick it up. Super crazy. Also, we did all sorts of random stuff like reimburse the bolsas of the zone leaders, went to a mall to reconnect the ipad 3g connection to Hermana Glazier's ipad and some other stuff...literally running around like little animals. But things are starting to calm down in that sense. In the sense of the changes in missionary work, things are definitely NOT calming down, and I don't think they ever will. We have all heard about how missionaries are going to have ipads and such (there is even a rumor running around here that the church just bought ipads and iphones for missionaries in MASSIVE quantities), but we do not yet know how these changes are going to be implemented here. We had a meeting with President Glazier (just us office elders) to discuss it, and he said that there is a chance that us and the zone leaders and assistants will get smartphones in the future, and that they might send us ipads to do some testing. We can't take ipads with us around or anything like that, but President Glazier says that if we can keep the ipads safely and securely kept in the house, we might get them at some point in the future. That would be nice so that we would have the addresses and such to all of the members so that we could ask them if we can teach lessons in their homes. Right now that is our problem; we don't know where members live, and we aren't having any lessons with members present or in member homes in our area. So I am definitely very excited to see what happens with missionary work in the future. OK, now about the stuff happening in our area. Our area is dangerous, even more dangerous than Apopa. But it is gang related danger, so we don't really have any issues with it. But our ward has parts that are hugely populated by one gang, and other parts that are hugely occupied by the other rival gang. Again, not a huge problem for us. But we do have to be careful and keep track of where we are, especially as it starts to get dark at night. But it doesn't worry us too much. Right now our primary investigators are.....different. They are deaf. And one of them is mute. They are a couple, husband and wife. The wife can talk, but it is really hard to understand her. Because they can't hear, we teach them in a combination of sign language and using a whiteboard. We have classes on saturdays with them, they teach sign language at the church. So if they keep that up, I will be learning sign language while I am here. But it is super difficult because we don't know a ton of sign, and they are not super literate (for example, when we taught the plan of salvation, they didn't know what 'plan' meant, or what the word mostrar-to show- meant). They were going to be baptized tomorrow (saturday), but we learned this week that their understanding of baptism and repentance is not super solid, and so we are going to keep working with them to resolve that. Last night there was an activity in our ward. We had a meeting with the ward mission leader, so we were at the church when it was happening. None of the people we invited showed up (we would have brought them ourselves, but the ward mission leader couldn't meet with us any other time...). But we helped with a few things for the activity, and in return we got pupusas. SO GOOD. A few of the hermanas in our ward can make them really well, and they had a little setup there and they made at least a hundred pupusas. I'm going to miss pupusas after the mission. I am going to try to learn how to make them, and Mom, you can try to learn how to make them too I guess, so that you guys can try them at home. Going to the mexican market to buy stuff will help you with your Spanish! This week hasn't been all fun and games though, for two reasons. 1. Mosquitos. The mosquitos here in Los Lencas are different. They bite through stuff, and they hurt. The first few nights here I hadn't gotten out my mosquito net (because I hadn't unpacked) and I got wrecked. I woke up in the night because the bites itched so bad, and I couldn't go back to sleep because they itched! And 2. Last Friday was P-day, but we ended up having a million things to do anyway, so we didn't have time to go shopping for the week, so we haven't had food here in the office or at home (here we can order whatever we want, so it doesn't matter too much). And because we don't have a fixed hour that we come back to the area, we don't have a dinner cocinera. So most nights we don't eat dinner. Hopefully today we will go shopping and stock up on a few things so that doesn't have to keep happening. Anyway, I am going to ask that you guys write me letters, but I know many times that request falls on deaf ears. But now that we do teach to people with deaf ears, and they keep our commitments, no one has any excuse. I did get letters from the Lums and from Granny this week, so that was really nice. I will be writing reply letters today. My thought for this week is that we need to be bold. This morning, I was thinking about what we can do to increase the efficiency of the work in our area because we don't have a ton of time. My answer was that because we have different circumstances, we have to do things differently. We have to be even more bold in our in our invitations, so that we can quickly discern who is going to accept the gospel and who is not. That way we can focus our time and attention on finding and teaching those who are looking for something to fill the emptiness in their lives, perhaps the emptiness that they don't yet know is there. This applies to all of you members of the church at home because you work too, and you have little time to share the gospel. But you can be bold. You can invite. You can ALWAYS invite. Whether it is an invitation to a Family Home Evening, or to church on Sunday, you can share the gospel in the time that you have free. And when you are working or doing other things, you can be bold in the way you show your testimony through your example. These are exciting times to be missionaries and to be members of the church. So lets be bold. Have a great week everyone. See you in two!

Elder Andreasen