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

Monday, September 7, 2015

Isaias and Floridalma's Wedding

Great to hear things are going well back home. Wow, Joseph tried out for the BYU Rugby team. Cool. Sounds like a fun experience.

Well, it’s been raining a lot here. In the morning, the sky is gorgeous, no clouds and sunny. I love that we have a perfect view of the temple and volcano. But it’s so deceiving. One second it's sunny and the next it's pouring rain. If I`ve learned anything from Guatemalan weather its ALWAYS bring a rain jacket or umbrella.

National voting day was yesterday. Kind of a crazy experience. There were a ton of people bright and early standing in line to vote. Depending on your residency, there is a certain area assigned for each individual to vote. Some of the people we knew, hadn`t updated there address, so they had to travel hours away to be able to vote. Anyway, President Smith sent out a message that all missionaries had to be in their homes at 4:30PM so as not to have any problems with the riots. He also had us buy a months worth of beans, eggs and water in case any of us needed to stay indoors. Yummy! Be prepared. During the few extra hours of time we had, Elder Flores and I were able to get a head start on a new book we recently bought from the distribution center. It’s called, ¨A History of the Church.¨ Super cool! I already have learned a lot of things I didn`t know before about the Smith family and the prophet himself. We also ate pizza we had ordered the night before jaja.

We met with René this past week and our ward mission leader came too. René had read the intro, Joseph Smith`s testimony, and up to the fourth chapter in 1 Nephi. Awesome! He`s really smart! When we asked about it, he gave us a whole run down of the Restoration. We watched the video of the First Vision and encouraged him to keep reading and praying to prepare for his baptismal date. His progress is very exciting.

The wedding was great, a really neat spiritual experience for me! My companion and I got there a little early to help set things up, balloons, chairs, tables to move, food to prepare, etc. Couldn’t believe how many people came. The bride and groom had invited A LOT of family and friends and when the actual ceremony started, there wasn’t even enough room for everybody to fit, so a lot of people had to stand outside! But it was o.k. Then for the ceremony, the members of the church had a special musical number. Time was also given for family and friends to say a few words. Then the lawyer got to do his thing. He sure read a lot, seemed like a thousand pages. Finally Isaias and Floridalma were pronounced husband and wife. My comp. and I got to be witnesses jaja But my favorite part of the wedding was after all the people had congratulated the new couple, Floridalma said with tears in her eyes the gratitude she felt for the message we had taught her and for helping them get married. Really special.

I know marriage is ordained of God. He loves his children. I know He sent His son to die for us. I know that Jesus is the Christ and that He guides His true church in these latter days. I know the Book of Mormon is the word of God. I know the church and the priesthood were restored through the prophet Joseph Smith. What an honor and privileged to be a part of this glorious work!

Have a great week! All the best!

Elder Hicken
 the ward mission leader
 elderes de garibaldi