Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year from Costa Rica!

Spencer said he really enjoyed several delicious Christmas dinners with members =)

With Elder Guirola

Temple Trip just before Christmas

Skype with the family on Christmas Eve =D
His English is quickly going away! He spoke Spanglish and couldn't remember some English words haha

​We invited his best friend over too.  Coby will be serving in Texas beginning in March, Spanish speaking!

In 2 days, I have the opportunity to dedicate every single day of a whole year to the Lord.
I've been reflecting a lot lately. And learning a lot.
I thought this week was really rough, but then I realized 2 of the days were Christmas (24th is super celebrated here) so I guess it was just Thursday that I was really down. But I was really, really down. Our numbers were low, we weren't seeing miracles, it was tough.

Friday, that changed. We saw miracles as I was willing to do things against my nature, and against 'my way'.
Saturday followed with miracles. Sunday as well. Yesterday too.

I want to focus on Thursday, and Friday. I was feeling so down, just unworthy to be training Elder Guirola and I felt like I had too much responsibility. I felt burdened down.
The Lord has made my burden light. Actually, it's a scriptural promise that as we follow his will, he will make our burdens like and our backs strong enough to carry them.

In Mosiah 24, there is a people who Followed Alma into the waters of baptism. They had been living in peace for a little while, when the Lamanites came and took overpowered them. The man who was, specifically, in charge of the People of Alma outlawed prayer, with the penalty of death.

This people, who had left their lives behind to follow the Lord, were now being constricting in their ability to praise that very same Lord. I can not imagine a burden harder to carry. In verse 12, it says:

And Alma and his people did not raise their voices to the Lord their God, but did pour out their hearts to him; and he did know the thoughts of their hearts.
They did all they could. All though they couldn't raise their voices to the Lord, they did pour out their hearts and asked, begged him for help. They shared their worries with the Lord, and asked for him to come and relieve their burdens.
In the following verses, it says:

And it came to pass that the voice of the Lord came to them in their afflictions, saying: Lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me; and I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage.
And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.

God does not forget his promises! He never leaves us alone. In whatever circumstance we might find ourselves in, we have his promises through obedience to his commandments. Later in the chapter, they were indeed delivered out of bondage through a miracle. But look at what the Lord says, look how he always gives us more than we expect, and look at why he gave them so much more. Verse 16 says:

And it came to pass that so great was their faith and their patience that the voice of the Lord came unto them again, saying: Be of good comfort, for on the morrow I will deliver you out of bondage.

Because the people were satisfied with what the Lord gave them, and willing to endure faithfully until he fulfilled this promise of deliverance, their day of deliverance was move forward. Because they were willing to sacrifice, they were blessed. this is a principle that we see many times throughout the scriptures. For example, Abraham. He didn't have to sacrifice anything (besides some time walking up a mountain), but it was his willing heart that qualified him for the blessings of the Lord. The Lord knows the intents of our hearts, and when we have learned what we should have learned from our challenges he will complete them.
They continued to prepare faithfully, and then were delivered. Once they safely arrived in their land, look at their response! They did not say "Finally, I can rest for a bit!" Or "Man, that sure was a hard trial!" Instead, they immediately gave thanks. Verse 22 says:

And they gave thanks to God, yea, all their men and all their women and all their children that could speak lifted their voices in the praises of their God.
They gave thanks. All their men. All Their women. All that could speak lifted their voices.
This scriptures is far more easy to apply in our individual lives then it seemed when I first read it. Even though we are only one person, we can give thanks to God for our blessing with all.
We can thank God with all of our thoughts, all of our actions, and all of our words.
Most of all, we can thank God by repenting of all of our sins. Small, Big, Serious, or Trifle, they are sins.

As we start a new year this week, we have the opportunity to set goals. Each of these goals (generally) is an action plan for repentance. Maybe it's to start reading the scriptures every day. That's repentance. Maybe it's befriending somebody we've insulted. That's repentance, for sure. Or maybe it's returning to what we know is true, but have long left. That's repentance.
Let us repent. Let us change. Let us follow through with our Commitments, our promises, to God this year. Let 2015 be the best year of your life, by giving your life to the Lord completely. By dedicating Every single day to the Lord.
I love you all so much. Have a wonderful new years. Remember that you are children of a loving God, and he's there to deliver you from your tribulations!!!
-Elder Henry

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

I'm forgetting everything!

Elder Guirola got to meet his Grandpa!

We have matching suits! (what are the chances?!?!) (just different colors, both same plaid print haha)

Sorry there's not been many pictures this week, I have not had time to think to take pictures with getting used to being a trainer haha.
Oh man, I LOVE being a trainer. But it is really hard on my brain haha I feel so scatter brained. If I don't write it down then it's lost for eternity hahaha.
My companion, Elder Guirola, is AWESOME! it feels like he came pre-trained! hahahaa. Yeah he doesn't speak any English and already my Spanish has gotten soooooo much better. A lot more confident just conversing now and understanding is way easier! :) it's great. He's great. He's seriously the bomb. We went on divisions his first day haha because somebody needed a blessing. I was freaking out the whole time hahahaha. Also, don't know if you can tell in the picture, but we have matching suitjackets. WHAT!!! Hahaha. Just that his is brown but the design is the same.
Elder Guirola is amazing. He was baptized 3 years ago even though his family didn't want him to be (they were very catholic). He decided to go on a mission even though he was the only member in his family. Then, about 2 weeks before he left, his mom was baptized :) His (only) older brother is receiving the missionaries along with his dad. He's amazing and is out here on a mission for all the right reasons! :)

We have just been seeing a ton of miracles here in San Ramon. One that sticks out is an investigator. A friend of hers, Saida, who's a member, invited her to the Christmas devotional. While she was there, Saida took her on a tour of the Church building. When they walked into the baptismal font room, the friend felt a strong impression from the spirit. Even though she was catholic, she felt that she needs to be baptized. Then, after that, the Christmas devotional really touched her heart. The words spoken there rang true to her, until she was in tears. We're meeting with her to help her prepare and everything, but she has a baptismal date of the 3rd of January. Also, we're going to start teaching her family (3 daughter and one son in law). It's amazing that she's going to be baptized all because a friend invited her to a church activity.

A new video was published last week, called He is the Gift (I think, that's translating from Spanish). It's a beautiful video all about how our Jesus Christ the real gift and how we need to accept him into our lives, and that that's what Christmas is really about.
There is the link to the video. As I've watched it over and over again I've realized how precious it really is. There's a spirit about Christmas and it's one of the sweetest things I've found in my life.
This Christmas, I'm not going be to spending with my family. At first, I though that that I was going to be pretty sad on Christmas. Now, I know that's not true. As I've accepted Christ more and more into my life, as says the video, I've come to understand what Christmas is about. I'm going to spend my Christmas serving, just how Christmas should be used. It's not about receiving the gifts, rather about serving other, just like how Christ has served all of us, and given all of us the opportunity to live with our Heavenly Father again.
Families can be together forever. As we accept Christ in our lives, our families will become more unified on this earth and we will have the opportunity to be unified through the eternities.
I love you all. Have a great week! Enjoy your Christmas breaks :)
-Elder Henry
Meeting Elder Guirola

A couple more goodbye pics

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

I'm having a baby!!!!!

I'm Pregnant! I'm having a baby!  Hahaha. In mission culture, whoever is the first companion of a new missionary is called his trainer but also normally called his "dad". So, I'm having a baby! It's a boy! Hahaha. I will get to know him tomorrow :) I'm super excited but super nervous. It's a lot of responsibility.
     So, these last few days have been basically purely goodbye parties with Elder Ritchie haha. It's been pretty wild, I don't think I'll realize that I've lost one of my best friends until Thursday or Friday.

Elder Ritchie's Goodbye dinner with one of the families they love :)

Last picture of our district before changes!

Andres had a nice goodbye surprise for Elder Johnson and Elder Ritchie haha (flour)

He didn't get away with it free, though!

 Goodbye dinner with one of our awesome families

One of our recent converts! 
     I've had a pretty crazy last 24 hours. Yesterday we went to one of our investigators, who has 2 sons. We got there at about 5 PM and they were getting ready to leave with a taxi waiting. Turns out that one of the boys got in an accident and was in the hospital. They operated on him yesterday, but the mom told me that it looks like he'll be fine.
     Then, at about midnight, another of our friends texted us saying that her Father, who's been in a care facility, had a heart attack and was in the hospital. She asked us if we could go give him a blessing of health.
As a missionary, we have the opportunity to feel Charity, The pure love of Christ, toward a lot of people. I spend my days looking at people thinking of what they could become, what God wants them to become. I have a profound love for both of these people, and can not begin to explain how worried I am. And I am so grateful to be a servant of the lord and have these opportunities to love, and help others.
     These last 24 hours have put me to think a lot about the Truth that families can be together forever.
Mosiah 16:8 reads:
But there is a resurrection, therefore the grave hath no victory,and the sting of death is swallowed up in Christ.
     I love this scripture so much. As these family tragedies have been passing all around me, I've realized how precious the gospel really is to me. Death has no sting. The grave has no victory. It's really true.
     Today, I say goodbye to my companion Elder Ritchie. We've been companions for almost 4 months now. I spend more time with this man than I did with my siblings, than most married couples do actually. All day every day, we have walked, talked, and taught together. We've lifted each other up, we've made mistakes, we've supported each other. I love him so much. Words can't explain the connection we have!
And today he leaves me. He goes back to his home, his family, his friends, his loved ones. It's wonderful! But for me, it's a little rough. I'm not going to be able to see him for some 20 months still.
     Saying goodbye to somebody for a long time is difficult. It hurts. In Spanish, we would use the word "costar." It means to cost, like in the way a hill costs you a lot of energy to climb. Saying goodbye to Elder Ritchie for this time is going to cost me so much emotionally, it feels like I'll be losing a piece of me.
     But I'll see him again. We'll see each other again! And our joy will be so great in that day.
     Because I know the truth that all of us will be resurrected one day, I can say the same thing about my loved ones who have passed on. It's tough, it hurts, it truly costs me to think of how long it will be before I get to meet them or see them again, but one day my joy will be full as I see them. That is what the scripture means when it says that the Grave has no victory. It may hurt, and it may cost us to even go on, but I know without a doubt in my mind that we will see each other again after this life. That there is hope to change in this life, to become perfected in Christ, and to be able to live with our Loving heavenly Father and our Family, the fundamental social unit of our human experience, forever.
     Death has no sting. There is always a hope waiting for us to discover. As we get on our knees and talk with our Eternal Father, we will discover that hope. That's a promise from me, but more importantly, from an all powerful and all knowing God.
     Please pray for our friends who are in the hospital, that they can get better. Also if you can pray that I can find new investigators. Our pool is pretty small right now :(
     I love you all. Have a great week!
-Elder Henry
His Christmas tree ;) 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Invite others to Come Unto Christ

Photo courtesy of Elder Ritchie!

I don't think there will be any photos this week :( This lame-o computer I'm using (I think the monitor is older than I am by the way) doesn't have a working USB slot.
     We had 3 baptisms this week! I., C (who are brothers) and D.  They're all the bomb :) I got to confirm C, which was my first time confirming anybody as a member, which was awesome.
     One of the biggest challenges for one of our investigators was the fact that he couldn't attend this church as well as the Evangelical church he was going to before. He had friends in that church, and really didn't want to leave it. Along with that, he didn't like feeling pressured to have to wear ´Sunday dress'. But as I explained to him about sacrifices and blessings, he's found that desire within himself to change. This week he came in a nice, colored shirt (instead of a big puffy hoody) and next week he told us that he's going in a white shirt and tie.
     Far too often we try and shove commandments down peoples throat. But as we bear testimony of principles that we've learned, we instill the desire to change in others. It's a lesson that I'd never learned before the mission. Really, as a missionary, my purpose isn't to shove anything into the face of anyone. The missionary purpose says: Invite others to come unto Christ ...
     It's by the light of our testimony that this invitation becomes something that people want to follow. And in the end, how one dresses doesn't really matter. But it's so wonderful to have seen his heart change from wanting the gospel and it's blessings to adapt to his life, to willingly adapting his life to the gospel and finding those blessings. 
I hope you all have a great week this week! Enjoy Thanksgiving!
-Elder Henry
Haha that's awesome dad. Nothing like watching basketball with family to make you happy :-) haha. I don't know if I ever told you, but even though we've only had 8 baptisms which isn't a super boat load, they're all such strong converts (except one who is because I think he has Asberger's or something like that, but his family is going to support him a lot) and it makes me feel great. I just feel like with the people we baptize we're actually helping the church progress. Not just getting fancy numbers that then go inactive. :)

Wisconsin sounds pretty fun! I could sure do with some pie here right now haha actually we ate cake Sunday OH MY GOSH yesterday J(I think we might be poor because it appears that we've been let in to the food BANK) invited us to have a cup of coca cola. Ok, cool, that's nice! Then he made us grilled cheeses on a Mexican George Foreman too! Sick! but not just 1, he made us 3 each! And then guess what. We were about ready to thank him, say a prayer, and head on out and he asks if we want ICE CREAM! Ice cream is pretty expensive here. We say yes and can barely keep ourselves from giggling as he scoops out some delicious ice cream (i think it might have been pistachio with strawberry or something like that).
So that was like an early Thanksgiving food present I suppose :-)
He talked a bit about his companion who comes home a week after Sister Henry "There are so many things I hear some of my buddies from the MTC doing that I'm like' Oh man, I'm so glad Elder Ritchie showed me why that's silly to do that.'" "The mission has taught me a lot about learning from others, instead of comparing myself with others."

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Serve somebody!

Henry and Henry =)  They start Christmas early in Costa Rica, yeah!
We were doing service at a members house this Saturday and afterwards she gave us some spaghetti (Have I mentioned I get happy when I see spaghetti now?).

I hope you are all doing well! Of course, I could know that for a surety via E-mail (that means that I love mail and you guys are the bomb if you send me some ;)

This week was great. I could leave the letter with that if I wanted, but I guess I'll explain a little bit.

We had had a pretty poor last 2 weeks, so it was obvious we needed to change something or other. About last Thursday or Friday (as in like 12 days ago) I started focusing on seeing a miracle every day (specifically, one caused by our efforts to help somebody else, like a really spiritual lesson). It worked! We didn't see the fruits that Sunday (which I kind of assumed) But this week we took a lot of people to church and every day has just been bomb. This week is going to be cer-azy though because on Wednesday we have to go to Grecia (1.5 hours of bus) to do baptismal interviews and then on Thursday almost all day we'll be in a multi-zone conference and THEN on Saturday is stake conference which will take up all Saturday and a lot of Sunday. So we got little time to see a lot of miracles!

So we were walking to our chapel today to play some ball (I'm a ballin goalie by the way) and some gringos pulled up! They were on vacation. We chatted with them for a bit and it was so wonderful to see members go out of there way just to take to us! It really made me feel appreciated and energized me a lot. Then they gave us some Haribo gummy bears which Elder Ritchie and Johnson haven't seen in 23 months hahaha.

I want to tell a quick little story about a man named J. J can't walk. He can get around, but it's not actually walking. He has severe arthritis to the point of deformation. We visit that family a lot even though there's not really much vision for him to start coming to church, because they want the gospel and so we support them with our visits. Guess what? He's come to church. A man that basically can't walk, and I'm sure it hurts for him, comes to church! He's come 2 of the last 3 times I think. But that's not it. He went on visits! He asked somebody to come with a car and pick him up and he went and invited other people to church. That is service. It's not about how much we do necessarily, but doing as much as we can. They also set a goal to get to the temple, and it's so wonderful to see the light of the Gospel in the eyes of a man who's trapped in an imperfect body.

I love you all! I'm sorry for the short letter this week. I hope you all have a great week! Remember to go out and serve somebody this week, just like J. :-)

With Love,

-Elder Henry

Monday, November 10, 2014

Sweater Weather

Look what we (mostly Elder Ritchie) made last week! It was a cutout from a box of Christmas cookies he bought hahaha it's super sick. We're more artsy and craftsy than most hermanas I think

Sweater Weather! If I calculated off Celsius right, it's been about 65 degrees (outside of mid afternoon). Really, REALLY cold! haha its great.
I didn't get any good pictures of us painting, but we went and painted for service. Everybody ended up with paint on them... Both from painting the walls and each other. My watch is now a cool, speckled, black and white (it was originally black).
One thing E. Ritchie is teaching me a lot about is swag

 BRRRRR. It has been COLD! I've worn my sweater out proselyting like 3 or 4 times this week I think. Also found a nice (red) big (soft) blanket (Sounds like I found my mission garm garm blanket) to use because I was just using a sheet before.

Apparently years ago (that sounds weird because it Spanish you say hace años which means makes years) San Ramon was this cold basically all summer. Word on the street is that it's even snowed here before, but that was like 35 years ago. I don't know if I buy that, but it sure has been cold. In fact, one day I was cold WITH my sweater on! I LOVE IT. It is seriously the best! I think that proselyting in a sweater is one of the best feelings I've ever had in my life. I'm all comfy and cozy and at the same time my soul's warmed by the words we're sharing :-)

I'm seriously in the best place in the world right now.

We are currently in the process of lining up dinners and free food to celebrate the event of Elder Ritchie and Johnson dying (going home). We've already got every Pday lined up except the last one (to pack and clean). Now we've just got to start organizing one like every day for the last week haha.

Elder Ritchie and I are doing awesome. We are so tight. We've always clicked and worked well, but even the tiny little things that we had at start have been worked out I feel like. We really edify and support each other, and keep a super open relationship. It's great :-) 

I have a nice sunburn from an activity we had on Saturday and a beautiful tan line from my watch. #missionaryproblems.

I think that Andrés said that tomorrow or Thanksgiving or something like that we're going to make egg nog. Yum!

Alright, I think that's all the ordinary day to day stuff.

Oh, and we got a ping pong table in the church (whaaaat).
Yup, that's all.

I want to talk today about A. She got baptized about a month ago now, and I had the opportunity to baptize her. She's really the bomb. I'm pretty sure I actually met her like my first week here in the mission, so it's pretty cool. But what I really want to talk about is her family.

We've been teaching her daughter and granddaughter and they might get baptized this month, but it's far from sure. But ever since A's gotten a testimony that this church is true, she's immediately turned outwards and wanted her family to know it too. Mosiah 28:3 says: 

Now they were desirous that salvation should be declared to every creature, for they could not bear that any human soul should perish; yea, even the very thoughts that any soul should endure endless torment did cause them to quake and tremble.

I love this scripture. As A's gained an understanding of to where she should look for her salvation, she's immediately begun to worry about her loved ones. She has truly turned outwards, as Christ would and did, in love to those she knows to help them have what she's already found. Every time we ask her what we can do for her she asks us to pray for her family. They're always on her mind. She leads by example, showing how much the church has brought her peace! She's already read through nearly all the Book of Mormon (she's in Moroni) while studying the Gospel Principles book and reading the bible as well. The thought of her family perishing in unbelief pricks her heart in such a way that she acts to fortify her own testimony and does what she can to help them as well. She's an example to me of how to do missionary work. As we strive for this same brotherly love, for this same concern over the welfare of souls, we'll feel the same joy that's described in Luke 15:10:

Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.

I love you all! I hope you're all doing great. Have a great week, and keep in mind what's truly important!

-Elder Henry

We made a nice little surprise for Elder Johnson who is dying (going home) with Elder Ritchie this transfer, today (they had to leave early in the morning to go do fingerprints) I'll tell you the results of that next week if I remember haha. We're so craftsy.

Foggy and cold :-) I love it!!!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014


A nice view from an investigator's house :-)
same spot, but with a me in there

Haha Andres had this sitting out front of his house so we had some fun taking pictures with it :-) you spin it around in parades apparently and the hands punch people haha... weird..

mismo (yeah thats me in the cow head)

I just decided to take a selfie...
I was too focused on enjoying the lovely hamburger which had luckily fallen into my life on Monday to take a picture, but we went to the S Family's (our recent converts) house to eat hamburgers on Monday! Ismael really talked Ivania's hamburger cooking up, so I was expecting something great, but there are not words enough in this world to talk up what Ivania made. I don't think it's even fair to call what she made the same thing you eat at McDonald's for a buck. I might, honestly, need to repent for that. It was love. It was the best hamburger I've ever had! Better than any I've had in the states (sorry dad, I still love you and you're cooking). It had 2 (that's right, two) patties, along with ham, cheddar cheese (which is scarce down here), and a whole mountain of other things on it. It ended up being thick (tall? wide? what's the appropriate word to use here?) enough that the actual mechanical function of eating it was hard, but there was no challenge of the soul to eat that baby. MMmm hmm. I've fallen unbelievably in love with food now that we walk so much haha.

This week we had a ton of meetings. Tuesday we had to go to a zone-wide district leader meeting where they went over numbers and set monthly goals, so I didn't really do anything there, then Wednesday President had a special meeting with almost all the district and zone leaders in the mission there, which I was kindly informed 5 minutes before it started that I wasn't even able to attend. So, I got to sit in the office for 3.5 hours while they met. Ugh.

The week was actually pretty meh in general. What it ended up being is that we got more focused on the numbers than the people we're teaching. We're looking forward to going back and cleaning up our mess this week, studying how to teach people and not lessons a lot. But, we're feeling good and ready to go now that we know what to fix.

Oh, Halloween was a blast. It's not really celebrated here (think of one of the really minor holidays in the states). But, Andres brought us mcflurry's for breakfast and then at lunch July (our cocinera (cook)) bought coke for us to drink with lunch. Then I bought Elder Ritchie and I ice cream cones during the middle of the day, and then Our bishop (we have a bishop finally!!! After 5 months! It's Hermano Pipo) bought us ice creams and THEN bought us tacos (which are taquitos) with french fries for dinner. So it wasn't celebrated, but a lot of wonderful food lined up for us and it fell on Halloween :-)

So this week we went to J,. We decided to bring G with us. That family has been members for about 2 years but the father never comes to church, because he can barely walk. He has some sort of super bad arthritis. But G came with us, who I barely know (we visit the family a lot, but G's been working for a lot of the visits) so that J could have a friend. J's felt the spirit and we've had some really good lessons, but she's scared of going to church. Anyways, We go in and Gina doesn't really talk much. She's a bit of a shy disposition so it wasn't a surprise, but just when we introduced her to J, J said "Yay! A friend!". Then, during the lesson, we turned to G and asked her to bear her testimony.

G's never served a mission, and had never met J. She's never been trained on the different ways of breaking down what people say to discern their needs, or any of that. But the spirit touched her heart and the testimony that came out was so powerful, and matched up to every one of the needs that J has. It was amazing, and the spirit in that room was so strong!

But the best part is that it doesn't even end there. We went to visit the father's home yesterday and there was just a different spirit in that house! For one thing, he  went to church! HE WENT TO CHURCH! He's been feeling better (just a little bit, of course)! And then, they said that their goal right now is to go get sealed in the temple! AND, they practically begged us to come back on Monday to have a family home evening with them. And guess who's coming to that? J!

Everything works out as we let the spirit touch our hearts and we follow God's plan. I hadn't been doing that this week, but the one time that we did we saw miracles.

Trust in God, and he'll deliver you. And along the way, you'll experience miracles!

I love you all. Have a great week!

-Elder Henry

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Exact obedience brings blessings!

Elder Ritchie & Elder Henry in a beautiful backyard in LaPaz
281: Elder Velasquez had a birthday! One of the traditions is to make them eat the cake... by smashing their face in it. We also covered him in flour and eggs, but I stayed in another room for that one to avoid any flak haha.

Fetch. Way to crank up the pressure! Haha no but I am seriously loving the mission so much.

I've been thinking in this example a lot the last few days, and I'm still not sure on an image that really brings up the point, but I like this one.

To me, there are really three different courses in life. That's disobedience, or negative action, neutrality, when you don't make negative actions, and obedience, which is positive action.

Disobedience basically makes life feel like a pair of silverback gorillas are dragging you down a volcano. It's not a very comfortable place.

Some obedience is a whole lot easier than being dragged down a volcano by two silverback gorillas. It's a lot more like hiking. A little tough, but really pretty easy and you get to see some nifty things. It's basically trudging through some of the basic things that we have to do, and staying away from any 'silverback gorillas' we see nearby. Honestly, this is where I felt before my mission. I remember talking alot about the blessing of the Gospel, and how it made life so much easier. And that's not a bad thing! But that was kind of the crowning event of obedience for me; the fact that it was easier.

Full obedience is not exactly easier than 'neutrality'. In the eternal perspective and when we're reflecting on lifetimes, I think it probably does pan out to be easier, but in the time scale of weeks, months, and years, it really isn't easier. It requires stretching ourselves day by day, pushing farther than we think we can. This is like what climbing Mt. Adams was like for me.

I actually wrote an 8 page essay on this hike once, but I don't have that handy to copy and paste from. If Mom could do some googling and find the elevation gain in the Mt. Adam hike that would be great, but I think it's something like a mile of elev. gain. Something like from 7,000 ft. to 12,500 ft. (It was 5570 ft. to 12276, so about 6700 feet or 1.25 miles total) We did the hike in two days, so we were carrying 50 or something pound packs on our back. Climbing this mountain was, physically, the hardest thing I've done in my life. It's clear as day for me to see that. I hurt all over and I felt completely wiped out, like I couldn't take another step. The only thing that kept me going was that I had to get up before I got down, and than after that wasn't enough anymore only the encouragement of my leaders kept me pushing through. I started out counting in hills, then in sets of 10 steps, then in 5, then I just had to take 1 more step before I took a break.

I cannot explain how glad I am that I climbed Mount Adams. It's one of my most cherished memories!

Being completely obedient, devoting our lives to improving ourselves as disciples of Christ, isn't easy. Sometimes, we're going to have to get down to just getting through one more month, one more week, one more hour! before we take a break. But then, at the end of the day, it's the most rewarding experience we'll have gone through - the best path we'll have walked in our lives. 

The world says that we should be as water -- taking the path of least resistance. I have never been happy living like that. I remember feeling deprived -- deprived of experience, deprived of friends, deprived of joy, but I wasn't willing to put in the effort to see the results.

Staying away from the negative just isn't enough. We have to seek out our spiritual mountains to climb. It might be tough, I can actually guarantee it will be tough, and we might not feel capable, but after '2 short days' of suffering we'll have gained our most cherished memories.

A. The language is coming. It's so hard to figure out where I am but I'm comfortable saying i'm 'fluent' (dictionary definition -- basically that I can get around but have no mastery of the language) -- for everything I need. Conversation can get tricky and if I'm lazy/in a bad mood I can't do it so well, but for the most part I can say what I want.

B. I've been eating... A lot of cereal. :) We buy pancakes and cereal and milk basically haha and then to supplement that some bananas, cookies, and I love peanuts and yogurt. From other people we normally get some sort of bread or cookie and a fresco (like kool-aid mix or something liek that) or agua dulce (sweet water (the best thing in the world that doesn't exist in the states), so nothing really weird. We ate rice and beans with pickles yesterday at Jorge Lopez's house, that was weird but actually really good hahaha.

C. Yeah I can find my way around to all our regulars pretty normally, as far as finding new peoples houses you just have to have them on the phone since there's no addresses and streets aren't named haha...

E, J, I, and C
This family is awesome. They are just awesome. The biggest problem in our lessons is that they have too many good questions to answer! E and J aren't married but have been together for 9 years (happens a lot here). The problem with getting them married is that it will cost them some 400 dollars because E needs to take out his papers to get married. He's legal, it's just a matter of having the paperwork. He was actually unemployed for a long time and just got a job (the day after Elder Ritchie gave him a blessing of comfort in which he said that E wouldn't need to worry about work anymore -- super cool) but E said yesterday that he's actually willing to move out of the house temporarily while they got baptized so that it was all okie dokie. That's how bad he wants to get baptized! We're looking to baptize them the 8th of November :) The rest of the family is awesome too.  I is really nice as well and C, the younger brother, is great as well. He said "I haven't been reading too much Book of Mormon, I'm only on to chapter 4 of 1st Nephi (ah ok well that's a bit of a bummer but not terrible) But I really like this Gospels Principles book, I've read through pg. 55 of it!" Holy Cow! Haha. J is awesome too, A member asked me on Sunday if she was a member because she already seems like one in how she dresses and acts and everything haha she has a heart of gold. You'd get along wonderfully with her mom :-)

J and D
J is the Daughter of A, who got baptized last week, and D is the granddaughter. They have dates for the 23rd of next month, and they are really great. I think that J already has her confirmation that this church is true, we had a really good lesson about prayer and feeling the spirit where she was in a bad mood at the start of the lesson and by the end she was just beaming and then we pointed that out to her. Their biggest problem is not coming to church. We're bringing a sister from the ward tomorrow because I think that it's J feeling shy and nervous about it, and I know D will follow if her grandma AND mom come. They've both come once before, so it's just a matter of helping them feel the spirit and want to go. They're really great though. J said she's naming her kids Spencer and Gavin (my companion's name) haha plus they make us agua dulce or hot chocolate like all the time so just one more reason to absolutely love that house :-)
279 & 280: Isn't that a cool looking bug? I haven't seen any cool bugs really, but there are just a TON around the new chapel! I don't know why but all the cool bugs are there haha. Actually we were playing futbol one night at a missionary activity and the court is lit with little stadium light dealios and it was wild because all these different bugs were just flying around lit up by the lights. These big huge green grasshopper things especially, they're like the size of my hand but a little wider when their wings are out. And then just a ton of different moths and stuff.

Speaking of which, 2 butterfly stories! We went to La Paz to visit the Soto family (the family we baptized last week) and we got to go check out their back yard area thing. We've gone once before but it was raining, and it was just GORGEOUS this time. There were a lot of really pretty butterflies flying around, but especially there was a huge, bright shining blue one about the size of both my hands put together that we saw and a HUGE black one, even bigger than that blue one. 

Then, in Elder's Quorum on Sunday, somehow a butterfly got into the room! So there was this big (not huge but big) all black butterfly flying around during announcements and stuff haha.
282: One day Jorge Lopez called and said we needed to be at his house ASAP. He had to leave at 1, and it was like 12:20. Well Elder Ritchie had to go to Grecia to do a baptismal interview and he was going with Elder Johnson, so we had Elder Velasquez and I go to Jorge Lopez. Turns out, he just wanted to feed us hot dogs hahaha! Mustard, pickles, and crumbled up potato chips on top with canada dry to drink. Yummmmm. Elder Ritchie was a bit upset to have missed it haha.

290 & 291: A couple more views from that same back yard (La Paz is GORGEOUS).
296: I suddenly realized how unusual to me these huge leaves would have been a few months ago haha. They just seem normal now! That's a banana tree I think (Andres took the photo). Speaking of bananas, do you know what Platanos (plataines?) are? They're like sour bananas. I don't like them. But, you can fry green ones and they make DELICIOUS platacones (platano chip fried things...)

286 Elder Ritchie and I in La Paz (where those butterflies were)
288: Andres and I, same spot