Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas in Guatemala

I hope everyone could enjoy a good Christmas. It was awesome talking to the fam who happens to be in the Dominican Republic. How cool is that? We laughed a lot. I love my family.

Christmas was great! Christmas Eve is a big deal here. Everyone celebrates Christmas on Christmas Eve. The family gets togther at night, has dinner, eats tamales and shoots off fireworks at midnight. We spent time with some kind member families who had invited us over. All of them gave us food! By the end of the day, my companion and I were stuffed. It was great. On Christmas day, we opened up the gifts mom had sent. 

I especially liked the bad tasting jelly beans. It was fun trying them with my comp. We also made a gingerbread ¨church¨. See if you can spot the church logo in the picture! 

Apart from the gifts and time with members, the best part was that we were able to teach a lot of people. We found a lot of new investigators using the Christmas initiative. I think that`s why it was such a great Christmas. Serving others and sharing the gospel sure brings the Christmas spirit!

One Christmas miracle happened on Christmas Eve. My companion and I had just finished eating lunch and were about to head out to the aldea San Lorenzo. But the bus never came. We decided to knock some doors as we waited. We arrived at a house where the lady who answered didn`t want anything. As she shut the door, another man opened the side door and rode off in his motorcycle. It wasn`t more than 20 seconds before this same man comes riding by and stops in front of us on his motorcycle. He asked who we were and said he would be willing to meet with us. He told us he had prayed that very morning, asking God to send someone to help him with something going on in his life. We set up an appointment for later today. The small, everyday miracles perhaps don`t seem like much at times but to this man, it was exactly what he needed. I know God answers prayers and uses those ready and worthy to help those in need.

Before Christmas, we went to an appointment but the investigator wasn`t home. We decided to get to know the neighbors. Nobody was home so we decided to contact the person working at a small store. She said she was Catholic but allowed us to enter and share a short message. The truth is she really didn`t want anything. But she did give us a reference to some of her friends that lived a few blocks away. We went to contact them and soon realized that it was the same house of a family that had recently been baptized, however the mom and one daughter weren`t. We taught the Restoration and they both accepted a baptismal date for the month of January. It was amazing to see how the Lord lead my companion and I to these two family members.

Anyways, hope everyone has a great week! Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! I know Jesus is the Christ.

Elder Hicken

Tuesday, December 22, 2015


Sorry for not writing yesterday. An elder in the zone had his appendix taken out so we did divisions with his comp. and went back to his area and got his stuff. He’s fine. (more later)  Anyways, love hearing about what’s going on at home. So great everyone was able to make gingerbread houses. Thanks for sending me a simple one to make mom. Hope it turns out ok. There will be pictures. Congrats to Taryn on her baptism! That`s such an important step in her life and I know God is so proud of her. I really liked how y`all could go caroling and play instruments together. Music and Christmas just go together! Can’t believe it`s already Christmas! The year`s gone by so fast!

To answer your questions mom:
1.      How is Huehuetenango going? (fun name!)
Huehue is awesome!
2.      What are your living conditions like? 
We`re living in a small apartment. Today there wasn`t water in the house. Apparently it happens pretty often. But nothing that I`m not used to. After being in Xela for so long, it was weird going back to showering with a bucket but I`m gettin` the hang of it again jaja. So blessed to even live in a house. Also, there`s a supermarket called Paiz, which is kinda like a Guatemalan Costco. There are a lot of clothing stores as well. I guess fashion is a big deal here.
3.      How do you like the ward? 
The ward is great. The attendance right now is about 115. Before it used to be a lot more, but there was a change in the bishop and many stopped coming. The bishop is great! He prefers to have 100 faithful, obedient members than 250 inicous [wicked] members.
4.      What is the most different?  Anything the same?
We have a small part of the city as our area, so that’s different.  We shop in a supermarket. It`s kinda like Cub Foods back home. There are so many clothing stores! It`s insane...
Everybody has motorcycles here! I think for every man, woman and child there is at least a moto or mopad.
The people are the same.

This week was great! The Lord helped us to find Robert. We had received the reference from the elders in Zaculeu, another zone in Huehue, and went to find him. Eventually we found him as he was getting out of his car and entering his house. He said he would wait for us Saturday morning. When we stopped by again, he was there, ready to hear us and our message! He had looked up a few things on the Internet and so had some weird questions but we focused on our message, the Restoration of the gospel. As we invited him to be baptized, he said he was willing! We invited him to church and he came! We`ll be visiting him later tonight so we’ll be sure to let y’all know how it goes.

Yamilet got baptized! She is the girlfriend of Fernando who was baptized last week. And Fernando had the honor to baptize her! It was great. 
There were a lot more members who came this week to the baptismal service. The only thing is that Fernando will not be living here anymore. He`ll be moving back to Guatemala City. We`ll sure miss him.

Unfortuantely, We`ve lost contact with Edgar and his wife because they went back to Honduras for the holidays. But the good news is they should be coming back in January.

The Christmas devotional was today! Sister Smith put me in charge of assigning all the special musical numbers. Everything was just fine and dandy until Elder Silva, an elder in the zone, went down with appendicitis. He had to get his appendix removed and so was unable to play. That`s when Sister Smith asked me Monday night to play for the devotional. Of course I had nothing planned and I felt so unprepared. But I prayed, pulled together some music, and tried my best. It was great. The devotional really was a spiritual experience for me. We got to here from Pte. Smith and Sist. Smith. We also got to watch Ephraim`s Rescue. It was great to see it again. Been a while. And in the end we had lunch and got to take home a bag of goodies. It was nice.

¨Fear not, for I bring you good tidings of great joy, for unto you, in the city of David, is born a Savior, who is Christ the Lord¨ What greater message than to hear that the Savior of the world had been born! It really is ¨good tidings of great joy¨. I know that Christ lives, that he is the Savior and the Redeemer of the world. He lead an exemplary life, a service oriented life, a perfect life. I know that he performed the Atonement, allowing each of us the opportunity to live in His and God`s presence again. Merry Christmas! Feliz Navidad!

Hope all is well back home! Nos vemos!

Elder Hicken

p.s. We were seeing Santa everywhere so for fun we decided to try and pull it off be the judge

Monday, December 14, 2015

Sharing Christ in Christmas

Thank you mom for sending not one but two packages to celebrate this jolly time of the year.
Elder Cevallos and I with our stockings - Thanks, Mom!

Christmas is such a special time to share the gospel with everyone in a variety of ways. I was really impressed to hear that everyone in 3rd hour at church went to visit someone and invite them to church this Sunday. So cool to hear about the youth orchestra as well. I will say, when I first got to the new area, my companion said I had a good voice. Next thing I know, I`m programmed to sing in Sacrament meeting on Sunday.  I ended up singing Hark the Harold Angels Sing with a member.

I had changes! After being in Xela for 9 months, I was sent to Huehuetenango.

I`m in the center of the city, and my comp. and I share the area with sister missionaries. Even though we live in the city, we mostly work on the outskirts in a small town about 15 mins. away in bus. It`s called San Lorenzo. We definitely walk a lot but I`m gettin` the hang of it.

My companion`s name is Elder Cevallos. He is from Ecuador. He`s been out in the mission now 1 year and 3 months. He has 2 younger siblings, and they`re twins. He is a very hard worker, funny and a strong leader.

We already had a baptism! His name is Fernando.

He was baptized last Saturday and confirmed Sunday at church. Not a lot of people came to the actual baptismal service but there was a nice spirit there. I`m so grateful for the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ, for the priesthood and for all the people who sacrificed so much so as to build the kingdom of God.
Me, Fernando, Yamilet his girlfriend, and Elder Cevallos

Sunday night, my comp. and I were contacting really far away, hoping for a miracle. We wanted to find a new family to teach. At about 8:30pm we find a woman named Ilda. She lives with her husband and daughter. As we were talking to her, her brother-in-law and his wife came walking down the street. We began talking with all three of them and in the end they allowed us to share a short message. We showed the video from the Christmas initiative and they were really touched.  
 They accepted another visit and committed to read the Restoration pamphlet! An answer to our prayers.

Hope everyone has a great week! Chao!

Elder Hicken

Monday, December 7, 2015

Have faith in Christ - Share the gospel

Thanksgiving sounds like it was great! The turkey cheeseball was an awesome idea. Way to go Jonathan for being a star at the Saturday tourney.

The mission was very fortunate to have Elder Ochoa, a member of the second quorum of the seventy, come to speak with us. 

It was an amazing experience, almost impossible to describe! The general theme was faith. We need to have faith in Jesus Christ, that this is His work and that He will lead us to the prepared families. We need to lose the fear to talk to everyone.

One of the many miracles, that happened in that very meeting, was when Elder Ochoa got up out of his seat and left. He came back 30 mins. later and told us what had happened. He had gone outside, taken one of the maintenance workers (a returned missionary) with him and they went to find someone prepared. He had sensed by the Spirit that someone nearby was in need. So Elder Ochoa and his companion knocked on the first door but the people said they didn’t want anything. The person said to knock on the door across the street. Elder Ochoa and the maintenance worker knocked the door and an old lady answered. She said she was very ill, that she wasn´t to be out of bed but had felt the need to answer the door. She let Elder Ochoa and his companion in. They gave her a blessing and she was healed! She said that that very morning she had prayed for God to send her help. She accepted an invitation to listen to the missionaries, even though many times before she had told them no. What a miracle!

I hope we can all be close to the Spirit and share the gospel.  If you haven’t already done so, go check out! Share the video and website with others. Share your testimony with others. Christ will help us.
[Happiness is born]

Anyways, we´ve been visiting a family that we found a really long time ago,  (they had recently moved to Xela from the coast) They were already members of the church., but we were trying to help them come to church here in Xela. They weren´t able to go to church, but they did go to the Christmas devotional with us. 
It was awesome! Btw the devotional was great! I especially liked Elder Bednar´s talk about the first Christmas in America. Christ IS the light of the world.

We´ve also been teaching the Miranda family. It is a dad and mom with their two little kids. They continue to read the Book of Mormon and they came to church this past Sunday! They are excited every time we come because they know our message is important. A funny side note--Church here is at 8am. It was funny to see the poor, little kids, so early for them, sleeping during the whole sacrament meeting.

A few other random things:
1.      Shout out to Elder Grant Doty for being one of the greats! He goes home this Thursday. Sure going to miss that guy. He gave the Lord his all, and I know the Lord will bless Him.

2.      Thanksgiving week was a pretty normal week. But my comp. and I were really happy because we reached almost all the goals we set for ourselves. There was no turkey, mashed potatoes or stuffing. But there was lots of gratitude! -plus pizza and apple pie! jaja

3.      Changes are tomorrow and I´m going! After nine months here in the city life, it’s time to go. I feel so blessed to have been here, -for all the people that impacted my life, to see so many people change, and to have come closer to Christ. Gonna miss it. And Elder Flores. He´s made a huge impact in my life and I´ll be forever grateful. Who knows where the Lord will send me next!

Feliz Navidad. Hope y´all have a great week!

Elder Hicken

Monday, November 23, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!


Glad to hear dad had a very happy birthday! Jonathan’s bball tournament sounds awesome. Can´t wait to play some bball and tennis with him. That’s great that you served food to the homeless with the Fairbournes. Jaime, the mission´s taxi driver, is really good friends with them. Maybe you´ve heard them talk about him? It seems like everytime I talk to Jaime he tells me all these great things about the Fairbournes and all the good they are doing back home. Shout out to Brother Arbuckle for his willingness to dress up in your class mom. Almost confused him for the real Moses. Jaja  It’s neat that we have temples just like Moses and the portable tabernacle.

Happy Thanksgiving Day to all! As you would expect, it’s not a real common thing here but there are some who celebrate it. We´re hoping to make it a big deal because we feel so grateful!

I love the mission! The Lord has blessed us so much. The Miranda family is really special! They are super receptive to our message and such a great family. We had the opportunity to go with them again this last week. They are excited about their baptismal date and are reading and praying about the book of Mormon every day. It’s neat to see their lives changing. Funny detail-since the first day we visited them, they offered us orange soda. Every time since, they´ve served us orange soda and bread. I guess it´s a tradicion. jaja

Elder Flores and I are also working with another awesome family, the family Sapón. The wife was able to come to church yesterday. The husband is really interested in theology and is confident in telling us how he feels. They are also reading and praying about the book of Mormon every day. And the ward members have been great in helping us out with this family. In every visit, there´s been a member present. Really helps a lot when the members get involved with our investigators and testify of the things that they know are true.

And then, there’s the Sanchez family. They’ve also been great! They were a reference from a member family. Shout out to members who give the missionaries referrals. It’s so helpful! Anyway, when we first met the Sanchez family we could only speak to the mom and the son. But as we gained more confidence, the mom allowed us to meet her husband. Now we visit the whole family regularly. It’s awesome! The dad and son have been coming to church! Unfortunately the mom can´t come right now because of work but I know the Lord knows she is trying. They are also trying to read and pray every day but it´s been hard for them because of the long work hours. What a blessing to have time to read the scriptures and pray.

Today, the whole zone got flu shots! When we showed up, I thought it was only going to be our zone. Little did I know half the mission was there. It was awesome to see elder Hohman and other guys from my group that I hadn´t seen in a while. After getting the flu shot, as a zone we played volleyball! It was super fun. Then we went to lunch at Portal.

In my Book of Mormon study, I´m currently reading in Jacob chapter 5. I love the Book of Mormon! The resounding message seems to be the love our Heavenly Father has for all of his children. Many are called but few are chosen. As we are called to work in the Lord´s vineyard, may we work with all our heart, might, mind and strength.

Have a great week! Be´naj

Elder Hicken
Pics--I saw a cat that looked like Sally so I picked it up. I don´t think it´s ever been held in it´s life cuz it sure wanted to get away. The picture is kinda of deceiving...

Monday, November 16, 2015

Miracles teaching families

The stake fast day sounds awesome. Fasting is such a powerful tool. I hope everyone in the stake will find someone to teach! Elder Ochoa, a member of the Seventy, will be coming to Guatemala in a few weeks. We also will be having a unifying fast as a mission to be spiritually prepared for the conference. Can’t wait. It´ll be great! Sounds like you had a good time with the Moores. Anytime with the Moore family is time well spent. Glad Jonathan got to go camping. Camping trips are the best! And that’s so cool Jonathan found tennis playin´ time outside this late in the season.

So, it was a great week here. After trying out some new techniques to find families to teach, Elder Flores and I have really seen progress. It´s been a miracle to see how the Lord has put so many opportunities in our path to find His prepared families. On one occasion, my companion and I went to an appointment we had planned. Finding them not home, we felt impressed to contact around the home. The second door we knocked, a man answered the door and was really interested in what we had to say. He said we could come back Sunday. Yesterday, we found him, his wife and two little kids all waiting for us. Wow! He had already read the better part of the pamphlet we had left. And after we had finished teaching he said he really liked our emphasis on families and was touched to hear our invitation to pray to know if our message was true. He, as well as his wife, accepted a baptismal date and were really excited to have us come another day! I know the Lord is preparing families.

The family we were able to find last week while trying to find Lucero was really receptive too. Emerson, one of the friends of the member family accepted a baptismal date and committed to read the Book of Mormon and pray. Awesome! The difficulty will be Sabbath Day observance because of his work schedule, but I know the Lord will help Emerson.

There was a big, multi-stake conference this past weekend. Bishop Davies, Sister Marriott, Elder Martino and Elder David A. Bednar all came! It was amazing!  Each talked about the new training, which is what has been the focus for the whole year, Sabbath Day observance. They also talked about tithing, self-sufficiency, sacrifice, and the law of consecration. Elder Bednar said, ¨The best that we have is sufficiently good for the Lord.¨ I’m feeling so blessed to be out here. I feel as though I progress everyday, I learn something new, or receive a new impression to be better all the time. It’s great. I´m so grateful for this gospel and for our Savior Jesus Christ.

Hope everyone has a great week! Nos wachamos

Elder Hicken

Shout out to Elder Flores officially with time in the mish! Ordered some pizza and the next day a member gave us an entire cake! (not for the one year mark but it worked)

Monday, November 9, 2015


Shout out to mom and dad. Your date at the new Sherlock Holmes exhibit in the science museum sounds pretty interesting. I was excited to hear that the bball season is starting once again for Jonathan. Send updates. And even though I´ve never met Steve, I´m so happy he went to the temple. It is such an uplifting and spiritual experience, something I´m sure he´ll never forget.

Guess what? Lucero got baptized! 

A little scary that when we went to pick her up and bring her and her mom to the chapel for her baptismal interview, she wasn´t there. We said a prayer. She doesn’t have a phone so we tried walking around to find her for about 20 mins. Then, when we came back to knock on her door she was there! Thank you Heavenly Father for answering our prayer, and in more than one way. She had gone to get her identification but the line was super long and so she got back late. It all worked out though and at last she was interviewed and baptized. The baptismal service was really special. There were a lot of people who came. One sister in the ward was able to play her violin as a special number. (I thought of you mom) The most important thing was that there was a great spirit of love there, from the members and from our Heavenly Father.

I have to mention another miracle. As we were looking for Lucero, we met a family who seemed really positive. We went back on Sunday to visit them and figured out pretty quick that one lady was a member of the church. She had followed her husband with their two kids and two of her friends here to Xela for her husband’s job. They’re all living together, but only she is a member. She fell away for a time and wasn´t able to locate the church when she got here in Xela. She is really excited to have us continue to visit and to teach her two friends who seem interested as well. The Lord is sure in charge of this work.

It was a week of divisions. First, I stayed in the area with Elder Cudney, while my comp went to a different area. One of the greatest moments with Elder Cudney was that we were able to find and teach a whole family, who all accepted a baptismal date! Miracle! Then, later this past week, Elder Chavez, an assistant, came with me here in Garibaldi. I learned so much from him. I really wanna work on the way I teach, focusing in more on the investigator and teaching in a way that they can better understand. It was great that Elder Chavez and I had a lesson for every hour of the day and everyone was home! Miracle! Elder Chavez was able to help out a lot of our investigators. He had great insights and commitments. I really learned a lot from him. I know it’s so important to work with the members!

Leader´s counsel was also this week. The assistants focused a lot on remembering what we had talked about in the last counsel, that of finding and teaching families. Then Pte. Smith talked about the doctrine of repentance. He talked about five crucial steps. First, we need to recognize the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Second, we need to be born again. Third, true repentance requires change. Fourth, Godly sorrow. Fifth, allowing Christ into our lives. He finished by talking about a scripture, Galatians 5:25. If we live by the Spirit, we must walk by the spirit. Are we living beneath our privileges? He said if we don´t listen to the spirit as we live worthy, then we are. Pte. Smith also added if there was one thing we could learn in the mission it would be to receive revelation, recognize it and act on the promptings we receive. I’m trying to do that.

Anyways, I love being on a mission! I know this gospel is true. 
Hope everyone has a fantastic week! Todo chequeleque

Elder Hicken

P.S. I forgot to mention last week that we got a new Elder in the area.  Elder Peinado. He’s not only new to the area, but also new to the mission. He´s been with his trainer, Elder Thorne, this week. It´s awesome sharin´ the area!

Monday, November 2, 2015

More Baptisms

Glad to hear everyone had a fun Halloween going to Valley Scare and other parties. Wooh! 2 Book of Mormons given away in one week. Way to go, Dad! Sharing the gospel can be hard when it´s forced, but it seems to become a lot easier when the topic is brought up and questions are asked. We just need to act. Super happy you took the chance to share when the opportunity arrived.

Happy Halloween! Although it was a normal work day, we made it a fun time. In a bakery shop we found pumpkin pie! Of course we bought it. For everyone who doesn´t know, Halloween is not a national holiday here. The actual day everyone celebrates is the 1st of November. It´s called the day of the dead, or the day of the saints. It´s a day of celebration and remembrance, not so much a day of mourning and sadness. The typical food is fiambre, a mixture of just about every meat and vegetable ever heard of. As long as there´s not too much vinagre [vinegar], it´s pretty good. A traditional desert is sweetened squash. And very common are kite festivals.  Another elder was with us for a few days. In that time we ended up going to the mission office for some interviews he had. While he was with Pte. Smith, sister Smith took the time to show us a few of the kite festivals they had been to years before. I was impressed! The kites are about 8 meters high, made of this thin Chinese paper and bamboo backing. Each is decorated with an ornate design and then judged later on in the day. None of the big kites actually fly. The biggest kite sister Smith had seen fly was about 2 meters high.

Kite Festival - (Google) - Just for an idea!

 My comp and I with the elder who stayed with us a couple of days, Elder Herrera!
Guess what? Lucero wants to be baptized! She is the daughter of an already member. The mom was baptized when she was a little girl with her parents, but when her dad left and her mom started to drink she never went back to church. It wasn´t until now that we found her and her now 19 year old daughter, Lucero, which is about 20 years later!  The Lord sometimes takes His time.  They´ve already been to church a number of times and they love it. They don´t have running water. They don´t have electricity. They cook over a wood burning fire. The mom works making tortillas and washing clothes whereas Lucero makes and sells handcrafted baskets in the market. They are such a sweet, humble family. I really love them. It is a testimony to me that even in hard conditions, one can find peace through the gospel and Atonement of Jesus Christ.

The recently baptized Monteroso family has been super pumped lately to share the gospel. It’s awesome! One night this past week, we were over talking to them about a plan to practice how to share the gospel with family and friends who are not members of the church. After only about 30 seconds into the lesson, Isaias and Fredy said they were already working with someone who wants to be Mormon! Then Floridalma pipes up and says that a neighbor had recently asked about us, seeing that we had always come to visit them, and that she was interested to hear our message. Then the other kids listed off about 5 other names of friends and neighbors who they wanted us to meet. It was a great moment to see the desires of everyone to share what they knew to be true.

Some thoughts on my mind. The Savior has asked us to be perfect, even as He is perfect. I know we must follow His example and His teachings. We must become like Him in our thoughts, desires, words and actions. Asking questions such as, ¨How would Christ think?¨ or ¨What would Jesus say?¨ has helped me a lot in this past week.

Have a great week! Adiós!

Elder Hicken

Also shout out to Aunt Diana for sending a bday package! The shirt is awesome! I use it almost everyday! THANK YOU!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Callings and Baptisms

Way to go Jonathan- the oncoming official organist! What a champ! Happy to hear the ward was able to get into the spirit of missionary work by giving away a pass along cards. Way to go mom!

The zone had interviews with Pte. Smith this week. My companion and I didn´t have to stay in the chapel ALL day! Wooh! We were able to go out and work and then come back. We showed up in the morning got everything set up and then left when Pte. got there. We went back in the afternoon for our interviews. I learned so much! Pte. Smith allowed me the better part of the interview for any questions I had. I was really grateful cuz I did have some thoughts on my mind, all of which was made clear.

Guess what? René already has a calling! After church last Sunday, we overheard that he was to be interviewed by the bishop. We just assumed it was to receive his temple recommend. When my comp. and I heard he was called to be as the 2nd counselor in the new young men´s presidency, we were super surprised but really happy!

Another recent convert, Freddy, whom we´ve worked with a lot, was called as first counselor in the young men´s presidency. It’s neat to see these recent converts helping in the ward so much.

Imanol was baptized!

 Imanol Cristian's Bapitsm

His family was super supportive. I felt like we didn´t do anything to prepare for the baptismal service. It was pretty much,
Q:¨Brother Cristian, how can we help out?¨
R:¨Don´t worry about it elders! We already have the baptismal clothes, the refreshment, all the invites to our family, the video to be shown, and my mom to share a short message.¨
They´re so awesome! The best part is that Elder Thorne got to baptize him! He´s the elder here in Garibaldi sharing the area. He was kinda nervous being his first baptism and all, but he did a great job. The Paniagua family were so happy! They told us they were so grateful for everything we had done. They said they were preparing to enter the temple and be sealed as a family. Exciting!

My companion and I have been trying to focus our efforts more on the family. As we see a family walking in the street, we make a conscious effort to contact them and share the gospel. We´ve also continued to work with the family plans. A couple times we´ve offered to show how to do a family home evening. As we teach, we´re trying to ask more inspired questions and use the scriptures in every aspect. More than anything, we´ve been praying and asking God to help us find families, and to teach them with the goal of baptizing 2 families before the end of the year.

All the best this week!

Elder Hicken
Changes are tomorrow! Elder Chirinos here in Garibaldi is the only one going. We celebrated by going to a restaurant with an American style. 
 Found the MN license plate! 
Thanks again, Midgleys, for the Signed D-Day shirt!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Rene's Baptism

I guess it was MEA weekend at home. Sorry you were sick dad. In case you want to know, hot water, with a little lemon and honey mixed in goes a long way. It´s the cure to EVERYTHING here. Maybe you might want to try it out to help with the cough...

Great week here! So René got baptized! He was so excited! At the end of the service he bore his testimony. He shared his life story, how he grew up in the church. His mom and dad were both active members. However, when René was 4 years old, his mom began to work on Sundays and gradually they fell away. A short time after, someone offended his grandmother, who at the time was an active member as well. She stopped going as well and so did many of his other family members. Over the years, his dad would go every once in a while but his mom became a member of the Evengelico church. René wanted to be baptized when he was 8, but his mom wouldn´t let him. Again he wanted to be baptized when he was 12, but again he was denied the opportunity. Gradually over time, it was little experiences like going to other churches but never feeling that it was 'right', that prepared René when he found us in the street. It’s exciting that he’s made this desicion with his new family to be a part of the Lord´s church.
Me, Rene, Elder Flores

Side note-His baptism had to be performed twice. I guess his forehead didn´t go under the first time. When he got out of the water, he was smiling and just said that all his sins weren´t washed off the first time, hence the second baptism jaja.
Me, Rene, his wife, daughter, and Elder Flores

And still more miracles-my companion and I found a new family! She is a single mom with 3 daughters. We visited them last Saturday and when we invited them to church they accepted! I love inviting people to church. All of them came and had a wonderful experience. We challenged them to be baptized and all of them accepted to be baptized in November! They are a great family who wants to do what´s right. The mom is really struggling right now, but she knows our message can help her and her family. I really want to help this family.

Then there is Christina, who is super pilas. She reads everything we leave her, sometimes more. She shares her most spiritual experiences with us. She has a boyfriend who is already a member of the church but she wants to make the decision to become a member for herself. We invited a family to come with us to teach her, and they all hit it off together right away. So much so that Christina went over to their house to make a cake. I guess that´s what friends do. Thank you for members who joint teach with us!

Right now I´m studying chapter 8 in Preach my Gospel. At the end comes a part where it talks about accountability. It talks about how we as missionaries are accountable for everything we do, first to the mission president and also to the Lord. How do we report our dealings with God? Through prayer. At the end of each day, we can kneel down and tell our Heavenly Father about our day. What did we do? Did we push ourselves to work hard? Did we help someone in need? Did we stand for what´s right? What direction were we going that day, towards Christ? These are just a few questions we can ask ourselves at the end of the day. I´m so grateful for repentance. When I ask myself these questions and more, it´s through the Atonement that I can be forgiven and continue to progress.

I know Heavenly Father loves each and every one of His children. I know that he sent His son to pay the price of our sins. I know the Atonement is real. We can be cleansed from our wrongs and sins. I know that God has called a living day prophet to guide us in these latter days. I know the Book of Mormon to be the word of God. What a blessing to be a part of this work!

Have a fantastic week! Bendiciones

Elder Hicken 

Monday, October 12, 2015

Importance of the Family

The youth, 3 week mini-mission activity sounds like it was a fun and edifying experience for everyone. Thanks for ALL the birthday wishes! It made my day.

Well why don´t we start there. The birthday. It all happened way back when a child was born...his name was Nathan Hicken. “Ok I won´t go THAT far back.” jaja  My comp. and other elders in the area bought a small cupcake. That was fun. Thanks again mom for the package. It was fun to open the gifts and share the candy. It was a great birthday. We worked hard, got a lot done, and ate A LOT of cake.

Isaías got baptized! Best birthday present ever! He was super excited, as was his family. We had a lot of support from the members as well at the bapismal sevice. That’s so good when members support investigators. I know this is only the beginning for him and his family. It makes me happy to know that the whole family is on the same path, with the goal to be an eternal family. We plan to help the ward keep working with them.

He was super excited, as was his family.  

René is awesome! He is really excited for his baptism this Saturday. The members have really taken him and his family under their wing as well. He has become a lot more involved in the activities of the ward. He came to play basketball this morning with us. He´s really good.

In counsel meeting this week, Pte. Smith talked about the importance of the FAMILY. Between the sessions of conference a world report talked about the growth of the church in Mozambique, Africa. They have created 2 new STAKES there in the last 3 months. How? Well, 600 families were converted to the gospel. I know the family is the key to reaching the highest degree of glory. Pte. Smith also talked about the importance of good, well thought out planning, especially when setting goals. It was great! Got me pumped to pray and look for families to teach.
Our Mission Consejo

This is the Lord´s work! He loves His children and He wants us to get back to live with Him as complete families.

All the best!

Elder HIcken

Monday, October 5, 2015

General Confernece

Well hey there!

Sorry bout´ not writing last week. Being in Guatemala, of course the power went out due to a fierce thunderstorm, soooooooo I wasn´t able to write.

And unfortunately I don´t have too much time today, but General Conference was really great, every single session! I mentioned to my comp, after the first day that I didn´t want it to end. I could just feel the power of the words of all the speakers and know they are called of God. It was interesting to see as well the interview with the three new apostles after the Saturday afternoon session.

Here´s a few General Conference quotes that stood out to me...
       ¨Our desicions will determine our destiny.¨
       ¨Be not afraid. Only believe.¨
       ¨Fear not. The future is as bright as your faith.¨
       ¨Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He shall lift you up.¨
       ¨If there be no rightouesness, there be no happiness.¨
       ¨One in complete submissvness with God´s will is sanctified.¨
       ¨It will all work out!¨
       ¨Exaltation is our goal, discipleship is our journey.¨
       ¨Do not be too critical of the barrier.¨
       ¨When you cannot do what you´ve always done, you do what matters most.¨

We had a wonderful miracle this week! Isaias´s son, Fredy, called us and said it was an emergency. We got to their house as fast as possible and saw the whole family huddled together crying. Isaias was feeling really down and said he wanted a blessing. We gave him a blessing and  his wife a blessing as well. He calmed down. Then he told us he wanted to be baptized! We all smiled, grateful for the Priesthood.

René also wants to be baptized! He put his own baptism date for later this month. This was after he took time to think about it and to read and pray. We were so excited when we got to his house this last week, and he told us he was going to be baptized! I love sharing this gospel.

Hope everyone has a great week! Hasta luego

Elder Hicken

Monday, September 21, 2015

French Toast Cook Off

Awesome to hear Jonathan had a very merry birthday.

The Guatemala Independence day parades and festivities continued pretty much all week long. My comp. and I really didn´t see too much, even though we are in the city. Parades passed by twice in front of our apartment, and the rest were out of the area close to the demo and parque central.

Stake conference was amazing! It was a great way to end the week! It was inspiring to hear from a servant of the Lord, Elder Valladares, a member of the seventy. In the first session he talked about self-sufficiency. This concept isn´t just for people who are struggling financially, perhaps without employment, proper clothing or lacking basic needs. It applies to all of us. Being self-sufficient means eternal progress and constant improvement. In the second session, Elder Valladares talked about the vision for central-America. Basically the vision is for every family to pray and read scriptures daily, pay a full tithe and a generous fast offering, and find family names to take to the temple. He projected on the screen a list of about 10 indicadors, or things to help every family fulfill this vision. It made me happy to hear him finish by talking about the importance of members working with the missionaries. Pte. Smith has reinforced this point many times to us as missionaries. In the last Sunday session, Elder Valladares finished by expanding upon the plan of salvationa and our purpose on earth. Christ is the central part to the entire plan. May we never forget that.

Turns out René will be staying! My comp. and I were so happy when we heard the good news. He and his family attended for the second time at church this past Sunday and they are excited to get baptized! Also, René really likes to cook. This week we have planned to have a cook-off. Not knowing too many recipes, I have planned to make French toast. Should be fun!

My companion and I have been teaching this guy named Fernando. At first, he told us he wasn´t too interested. However, my comp. and I felt the Spirit and we challenged him to be baptized in the first lesson. He said he would have to think about it. He confessed he was learning about the Jehovah´s Witnesses church but he hadn’t been baptized yet.  And he was actually looking for the truth. As we´ve visited him now for the past two weeks, he has been drawn to our teachings of Jesus Christ as Jehovah, and not as God the Father. After reading to him many scriptures, he decided to come to church and see for himself. He really liked the service and is excited to have us keep teaching him. He´s praying and reading the Book of Mormon.

I know this church has been restored and that it is the true church of Christ. It has been so interesting reading about the history of the church in the fullness of times. The early Saints went through hardships almost impossible to believe. Satan worked so hard to stop God´s work. However, through it all, the work moved forward and still does today. What a blessing to be a part of it!

 Washing the bishop's car

Have a great week! Adiós

Elder Hicken

Monday, September 14, 2015

Floridalma's Baptism

Hi everyone,
I can’t believe Carter´s playing the string bass. That´s so awesome! Fun to see the video of the zip line. Madura family rocks.

Things around here have been pretty crazy(crazy meaning fireworks, parades, flags), due to the upcoming holidays. Even in sacrament meeting, everyone sang the Guatemalan national anthem for our opening song. I had never sung it before but I did my best to follow along. The lyrics are really nice. All this has made me feel like everyone is celebrating the 4th of July, except Guatemalan style. The actual independence day in Guatemala is the 15th of September, so the best has yet to come.

Last Wednesday, my comp. and I went to an awesome leader’s meeting with Pte. Smith. It was great to see how we can improve as a mission and what the Lord expects and wants us to do. More than anything, Pte. Smith talked about working in the manner of God. He asked some great questions. How do we know what God wants us to do? It’s through his prophet. Do we believe this, that Thomas S. Monson is truly a prophet? By believing he is a prophet, we must show our faith through our actions and follow his guidance. Are we doing that, stretching ourselves to do what the Lord has asked? Or perhaps are we doing what we feel most comfortable doing?  WORKING WITH MEMBERS was emphasized! Pte. Smith read many parts from a talk given by Elder Ballard about the importance of the missionaries working with the members. He also read from the Bible the story of Naaman when he is healed from leprosy. Then, he asked, “Are we swimming in the river of Damascus? Or following the prophet by swimming the river Jordan? All in all it was a great council!

Exciting news. Floridalma was baptized! She was very happy even though the pictures don´t show it. (I don´t understand why nobody smiles in pictures here).

Floridalma's Family

There was a great spirit during the baptismal service. There were two nice, short messages, and then as missionaries we sung a special number. We had practiced with the piano but then realized there was no piano in the baptismal room. We just sang a capella. It turned out great, or so everyone said. The most special part of course was the ordinance itself. Floridalma gave a great testimony afterwards and exhorted her husband to follow her footsteps and be baptized as well. It was so awesome. I´m really grateful for the opportunity God has given me to be a part of the family Monteroso´s lives.

Sad news. Rene is moving jaja only after a few short weeks of teaching him and having him come to church, he will be moving to another pueblecito close by. His family´s awesome! Sure gonna miss them a lot.

It´s so great being a missionary! I know this is the Lord´s work. I know the gospel is true.

Tengan una semana fabulosa! Paz y amor [Have a fabulous week!  Peace and love]
 Elder Hicken