Monday, November 24, 2014

Contacts, Investigators, & Baptisms

Hola hola hola! 
Congratulations to Ruth and Tommy on their wedding.  And Happy Thanksgiving this week everyone.  I'm so grateful for such great friends and family.
We found out today who will be changing tomorrow. Elder Pinchi (zone leader) is the only change in our area. I guess Elder Galbraith is changing but he's coming here to Santa Cruz del Quiché to be one of the new zone leaders. Two zone leaders will be coming to take the place of Elder Pinchi and Elder Jerez. Elder Jerez finishes his mission the 16th of December so he and the two new missionaries will be a trio until he leaves. Another 6 weeks together with Elder Golledge!
These was a great week! We found a new investigator by knocking doors. His name is Marco-Antonio. He is about 55 years old, works at the terminal, lives alone and has a strong Christian background. He's always excited when we come over. The first time we knocked his door we were headed to another appointment so we just set up a time we could come back. When we showed up he was waiting. Elder Golledge and I walked into the one room house and were shocked to see some pretty graphic pictures on all walls. But we sat down and kept focused on Marco-Antonio's face. It didn't smell too good either with beer cans all over the place but his willingness to listen to our message made the smell go away. I'm excited to help him.
Elder Golledge, Jesus-Antonio and I stopped by Odelia's house and gave her a short lesson. We came to find out very quickly that her niece, whose parents have been less-actives for 4 years, had the desire to be baptized. We talked to her niece about baptism and asked her to be baptized. She said she would and so we made a goal for her to be baptized the 20th of December. All we need is permission from her parents. It was a miracle. 
To finish the week, Walter and Santiaga were baptized! One of the zone leaders investigators, Oscar, also was to be baptized on the same day so we did all three at the same time. 

To set up for the baptismal service, Elder Golledge and I, as well as the other elders, got to the chapel early. We cleaned then decorated with the snowflakes, balloons and other Christmas supplies mom sent me. THANK YOU mom! 

Elder Jerez, a really good cook, baked and frosted more than 80 cupcakes for after the service. They were so good! We had made invitations to invite the ward members and investigators to the baptismal service.  We were happy to see a lot show up when the actual service came around. 

Walter, Santiaga and Oscar got there early then changed into their white clothes. I had the privilege to bapitze Santiaga and Walter. An hermano in the ward who had worked really close with Oscar baptized him. 

As part of the program, the elders and I performed a short musical number, "When I am Baptized". The Spirit was very strong. After, we performed the actual baptism ordinance. Before the service, Santiaga had told me she was a little nervous about the water. I tried my best to comfort her and to make her feel calm. She went first to be baptized. She was shaking but I could feel she wanted to be baptized. I had to baptize her twice cuz the first time I said her name wrong. I felt bad cuz I knew how scared she had been about the water. I was comforted afterwards when she was laughing and smiling and told me she loved it. Same with Walter, her son. I'm so happy for their decisions to be baptized. This is their first big step on their path to following our Heavenly Father.
Thanks for all the support. A few other random happenings of the week: we celebrated Dulce's birthday with chocolate frosted muffins, we ran out of saldo (minutes) so we've been walking A LOT lately cuz that's all we can do, found a family of the parents and their 3 kids who are interested in the gospel. 
I've loved hearing all the personal stories of those with whom your sharing the gospel and how it's blessing their lives. Never give up! Keep pushing forward. Adios!
Elder Hicken

Monday, November 17, 2014

Hola A Todo!

Mucho gusto saludarles. Otra vez era una semana maravillosa. [Gladly I greet you.  Again, it's been another marvelous week].
Walter and Santi are getting baptized this Saturday, the 22nd of November at 4 PM! You're all invited of course. Their attitudes have been one of "Why wait? I'm ready." We are meeting with them everyday this week to prepare them for their baptismal interviews on Thursday. Jesus and Abraham have been amazing as well. They've answered all the questions from Santi and Walter. Sometimes I'm a little sad cuz we get to an appointment expecting them to have questions and Jesus and Abraham have already answered them all! haha -- but seriously I'm very grateful for them and their help.
Jesus-Antonio has such a strong desire to serve a mission. He came teaching with us everyday this week. He studies his scriptures and Preach My Gospel. He has come to love our investigators and is always asking for us to visit various families. One woman whom Jesus-Antonio came to visit with us was Mercedes. She lives with her husband and her 5 kids. She has been having a lot of financial problems as well as problems within her family. We have visited her for a while and have really built a strong relationship with her and her family. She hasn't gone to church in many years. This last Saturday, I was able to call Mercedes and ask her to come to church. She said she had the desire to come and when she came even brought along her grand-son. His name is Wili. He is 7 years old but turns 8 in April. When I showed him the baptismal font on Sunday, he said he wanted to be baptized. I'm so grateful for Jesus-Antonio and for his help. He interviewed with President Wilder and has to finish institute as well as half of the Book of Mormon before he can go. He was so excited! 
Also, as Elder Golledge and I were heading to visit a less active member, Jesus-Antonio, as well as another member, Hermano Fermin, tagged along to help. As we were walking, Hermano Fermin told me his amazing conversion story. Before he was baptized, he drank, smoked and lived in a cardboard shack. He provided little to nothing for his family. One day, a dramatic experience occurred where he cut 2 of his fingers hospitalizing himself. While in the hospital, he had time to think about his life. Eventually he got released and started working in a tienda [store]. That's when the missionaries came along. They started teaching Hermano Fermin about the gospel of Jesus Christ. Poco a poco [little by little], Hermano Fermin began to change. Using the cleansing power of the Atonement he quit drinking, smoking and got baptized. He started going back to school. Next year he will attend a university in the capital to become a lawyer. His story, as well as the change I have seen in Jeus-Antonio and Jesus & Abraham have strengthened my testimony bastantemente [significantly]. The changing power through the infinite sacrifice of Jesus Christ is real. He lives. I know that we can change from whatever has happened in our past through his grace and mercy. Use the Atonement in your lives.
We had a great lesson of the Plan of Salvation with Silvia and Lisbeth. They came to a baptism this last Saturday. This is the second baptism they have come to. They continue to read the Book of Mormon and ask God if they should be baptized. I have come to love them so much.
Anyways, that's it for this week. Quick happenings of the week: Elder Gollege is directing and I'm playing piano to help the kids for the primary program in 2 weeks. Last Saturday, it seemed like the entire city congregated at la Parque Central for the lighting of the Christmas tree. It was amazing! They had fireworks, a concert and lots and lots of food. 

We celebrated Jesus-Antonio's birthday with a frosted muffin and sang to him. I guess that's all! Gracias! Trust in the Lord!
 Just a picture

 After a baptism (not theirs)

 Hermana Eva and Me

 The boys after soccer
Elder Hicken

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Elder Hicken and Elder Gollege

Hola mis amigos!
Cómo les va? Este semana pasaba bien rápido. Siento como yo estaba escribiendo esta carta semenal ayer. Sin embargo fue chilera!
[How's it going?  This week went by so fast.  I feel like I just wrote this email yesterday.  But it's all good!]
Sorry about no letter last week. I sent one but I guess i must've forgotten to press send. Puchika!  THANK YOU SO MUCH for sending homemade goodies!!! All the packages got here. Elder Gollege and I went crazy for everything!!  So good!  And thanks for the peanut butter. Yum! Tell the Pattersons thank you so much! And yes, I feel tall everywhere I go -- haha.
In my personal study this week, I've focused on studying the Plan of Salvation. We've used that a lot lately. For example, we had a lesson with Mercedes where she asked the question if there's hope for her father who died without being baptized. It was exciting to see her reaction as we taught about the Plan of Salvation, specifically about life after death and baptisms for the dead through temples and the priesthood. I've also specifically praying for the Spirit to guide me to find new investigators who will progress. It's been amazing to see the people the Lord has put in our path who are willing to listen. Pray for what you need then do all you can to make it happen and the Lord will make up the rest.
Jesus-Antonio is a less active member we bumped into about 2 weeks ago. Since then, he has attended church both times and come teaching with us many times. What's more is that he knows where everything is! Less-actives, members, friends, references, etc. It's great! His desire to serve a mission has grown as well as he's come teaching with us. He told us a ton of reasons he wants to serve, one of which was so that his kids have an example to follow. He also told us he might have to get baptized again because the church can't find his papers. Whatever happens I'm so happy he is making this change in his life.
We passed by Lisbeth and Silvia's house many times this week. Remember how we missionaries can buy corte and then make it into ties? Well when we last passed by, Elder Gollege and I were wearing our ties.  She REALLY liked them. To help her financially we came up with a business plan, that she could learn to make these corte ties here and then send them to the States for us to sell after we got home from our missions. Genius! Sunday night we invited them to the chapel for dinner with the ward mission leader. We were there for 2 hours eating and talking about a commitment to baptism. The only doubt they had was that they'd already been baptized in another church. We explained about the need for authority. We set a date for the 6th of December. So excited!
For pday we played soccer today, Elder Gollege and I and 6 other elders from our area. We invited a few of our investigators as well. Walter ended up coming. He had an awesome time! After we bought him lunch at a Chinese restaurant we planned for the next time we'd come over. Just 3 days before, we had visited with Walter, his mom and his two family members (Jesus and Abraham) who were baptized less than 2 months ago. We taught about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and at the end asked both to be baptized. They said they would and we set a date for the 29th of November. Anyways, earlier today when we were talking with Walter he asked if he could be baptized earlier. I smiled so big! Yeah of course! He was thinking more the 20th or 22nd. We'll talk more about in our next visit. Can't wait!
Well that's all for this week. Changes are on the 25th so we'll see what ends up happening. Also a couple in the ward is getting married in 2 weeks. Not sure if I'll be here to see it pero vamos a ver [but we'll see...]! So grateful for such great ward members and people willing to come teaching with us. 
Odd experience: Elder Gollege and I carried a metal pole half way across town to have it cut and welded for an investigator. We got some great looks from the locals!
Also forgot my sweater twice so I was really cold. It gets chilly at night.
Thank you again for the packages and letters! Tan exquisito! [So exciting] For all those who made that happen ustedes son los mejores [you're the best]! Gracias! Hasta el próximo semana [until next week]!
Elder Hicken
My Dad (my trainer) and GrandDad (his trainer)


Our typical Breakfast

"Popel Woj"