|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