Elder West's Favorite Scripture

And now, my son, I have told you this that ye may learn wisdom, that ye may learn of me that there is no other way or means whereby man can be saved, only in and through Christ. Behold, he is the life and the light of the world. Behold, he is the work of truth and righteousness (Alma 38:9)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Haha, Success! - 9/27/2010

Haha, Success!

I had my first two baptisms on saturday! I was able to personally baptize Hermana Iriz Lizbet Fernadez Alonzo. It was an amazing experience. Our branch showed great support and alot of them showed up. I was a little bit nervous because I had to say the baptismal words in spanish. It was all good though. I took pictures of us all dressed up in white, I was going to email you guys them but I forgot my camera cord again! haha, next week I promise I will send some pictures. In the month of october we have 5 baptisms set up which is really amazing, I hope that I can find more.

This week was really hard but also really rewarding. I think that I lost about 15 pounds this past week, en serio! haha. Me and my comp both learned that we have ameobas or something like that in our system that is causing us to be sick and stuff. So they are going to give us special medicine. We are all blaming it on the hamburgers me and my comp. ate last week. THis week should be better because we have some medicine. Me and my comp need to make up for last week and find even more people to baptize. I am really excited for this week.

It was really interesting to hear that there was a tropical storm going by central america because it has been raining for like 3 days straight and it has also been really windy. Oh and by the way Mom, I LOVE those boots that I got. sometimes the water will be rushing down the street so fast it will go right into my shoes, the boots are awesome. It has been really kind of cold were I am to. fortunately my comp had an extra blanket that he let me use.

I learned a new word this week! Canche! I noticed that everyone would yell this at me, especially if I did something really stupid. Apparently it translates to white boy. Well, I guess I couldnt hide it forever. haha. Oh and another thing I learned this week, if I am standing in line for something like the bus, or the line at the store, if I step like one step backwards there will be like 50 million latinos that magically cut in front of me. IT is actually really starting to annoy me, so it is necessary to be more pushy here I have learned.

I have now been in the mission field almost 3 weeks and it has been amazing. I remember yesterday I walked into a house that was made out of barbed wire and cinder blocks and thinking that is was actually pretty nice. It is really interesting how much my excpectations and perceptions on life have changed so fast. There are some people here that are super dooper poor. Some people dont have electricity or any kind of running water and they literally live in a tine box. Alot of the people cant read either which makes it really hard to teach about the the book of mormon. HOwever despite the fact that these people are living in poverty, they are still just as happy as any millionare family back in the States.

It is really cool to hear all the stuff that is going on at home. Especially with all the new baptisms in the ward. Tell Megan not to worry about A.P euro, 45% on a test really isnt that bad haha. Next week i Promise I will send some pictures, I am writing it in my planner right now. Thanks for all the updates and support!

Elder West

Thursday, September 23, 2010

1st Baptism - Santa Ellena 9/22/10

This has been a week to remember I dont even know where to begin.

This past week we found 11 new investigadores! We had alot of success this week. And This saturday we have 2 baptisms! Hermana Iris fernandez Alonzo and Marco Antonio Guzmo. I am so excited. I can count hermana Iris as my first investigador that I baptized because I tought her from the beggining. Marco antonio had already comited to baptism before I got there so. Two days ago we were walking past the house of Hermana Iris when she rushed out, chased us down and told as that she wanted to be baptized this saturday, it as incredible. we didnt expect that at all but thats alright with me. She even quite her job so that she could come to church on sundays. I feel so good right now I cant even describe it. In october I should have like 6 baptisms as well. We are teaching the family of hermana Iris, and they are really progressing fast as well. There is another Guy named Carlos Roberto who has a baptism date on the 10 de october love Carlos he is hilarious, plus he looks just like Mario, hahaha. We have a lot of other investigadors as well but they need more work. A big problem here is that the majority of the families have parents that ahve never been married and so that is something that we have to focus on alot.

On the flip side the week has been a real challenge as well. First of all it has rained super dooper hard. within like 2 minutes the rain can fill like a 3 inch pot whole in the ground, its nuts! I finally gave in and bought an umbrella. On tuesday we learned that one of our investigadors was killed by a drunk driver while he was riding his bike! His name was Louis and he was progressing well. IT was really sad and we had to do a little damage control with members who were his close friends. Unfortunately I was in a different area during his funeral because I was on divisions with another elder. and thats the other thing about this week is that I went on divisions 3 times, haha. Me and my companion both got food poisening twice and spent alot of time throwing up this week.

HOwever, despite all of those challenges this week turned out to be really good and succesful because me and my companion to depend on our faith alot. On they days that were most difficult, we had the most success. THe lord has been testing us, and despite these tests me and my companion have pushed through and had a very succesful week. I learned this week that the Elders who have the most success are the ones who dont get discouraged and never stop working.

I get alot of compliments on my spanish from the people her. THey are shocked to learn that I have only been in the mission field for 2 weeks. I still really cannot say everything I want to say but i can get the point across. I went on divisions for a day with another Elder named Elder Clifton from Canada. He is so funny but he sucks ant spanish. I have no Idea why they paired us up togather. Both of us figured out that if we play the innocent fresh off the boat white boy card, we can get alot of appointments set, hahaha. FOr example in our contacts, we would say something like excuse me we are new in town and our spanish isnt very good, but we are looking for people who would like to listen to our message about jesus christ... Wfound alot of success that way, haha. Buy seriously like if I start a lesson, it is really good to ask the investigador to correct and help me with my spanish. Because then they will pay really close attention to everything that I say and in the end they will understand the lesson better. I ve got it all figured out. But yah my spanish is improving.

Other things I learned this week:

  • I hate dogs
  • buses are really fun because I have to hang out the door with one hand while its flying down the mountain at like 40 mph
  • People here stink and cooking spaghetti
  • dont eat fruit fresh off the tree
  • if you ask for agua you will get coca cola
  • dont sit at the front or the back of the bus because you are most likely to get shot there
  • Dont even try to teach someone if they are drunk
  • Dont order a hamburgers that come with egg bacon onions and barbaque sauce
  • Work Hard!

THis week was also really cool because it was guatemalas version of the 4th of july so naturally people have been lighting firecrackers off everyday for the past week at 6 am in the morning. There was some really cool parades we got to watch and overall it was pretty cool.

anyways I gotta go, thanks for the family updates it sounds like kevin and megan are doing awesome at life and things are goin good. I will talk to you all next week


Elder West

Monday, September 13, 2010

Yes, There are spiders here.


Greetings family,

I felt like a real misisonary this week! I tought a whole bunch of people. This is what a normal day would generally look like:

  • 6:30 wake up exercise
  • 7:00shower eat breakfast get dressed one hour
  • 8:00 personal study
  • 9:00 companion study
  • 10:00-10:30 language study
  • 10:30-9:00pm prosolyte
WE have been teaching lots of people. the cool thing about my area is that almost everyone is related in some way. If we teach one person they will give us there reference for their family. WE always have someone to teach. We have two people that for sure want to be baptized so far, there names are Carlos Roberto Rodrigues, and Marco Antonio. Alot of out time is spent walking and riding buses because our area is really big. There is this one area called Los Llanos that I really dont like, which is out in the forest. There are spiders everywhere! We were walking down this tiny pathway trying to get to a members house (hut) and my companion said ¨hey look up¨. I just about peed my pants because there were atleast 500 spiders over head who had built a giant spider web. These spiders were all about the size of kevins palm if not bigger. They had built webs all along this trail, so i was basically walking though a tunnel of spiders. When I am in this area i cannot look up. I have been in houses that are about the size of kevins room and are made only out of tin. It is really annoying when it rains here because everyone has a tin roof, and it is impossible to hear when it is raining. When it rains it rains hard! In the space of about 10 minutes it could rain several inches.

I have eaten some pretty cool things as well. As we speak I am eating a choclate covered frozen banana (those are really popular here), I eat a ton of tortillas, chicken, beans and rice, as well as all kinds of different soups. The tortillas here are about the size of a large sand dollar and are really thick, I have grown to love them. My companion told me that I ate cow intestine but I dont believe him. We rarely eat dinner here, which is kind of strange. we have a small bite to eat when we get home at like 9:00. Usually I will have like a top ramen or PB and J sandwich. i am going to loose weight for sure. We have a lady that cooks us lunch and thats about it.

On saturday we did service for about 3 hours helping a member of our branch rip out his driveway. That was hard! we had one sledge hammer, some gloves, and a pick axe and we just had at it. Needless to say i got really really sunburnt and I look like a cherry. my red face has been the center of conversation in almost every lesson I have tought. I am going to start wearing sunscreen i have decided. The rain is starting to die down now and it is really starting to be beautiful. The scenery is amazing, I think I might actually be able to email photos. I will try to do so next week.

My spanish has improved alot this week, I am really good at exlpaining the restoration. my companion says that my spanish is really good for my first week. I had a good experience on sunday when i attended church in out tiny branch. There are like 40 people that were there las sunday. We had one investigador attend which was really cool. We dont have a piano, which is a relief for me because they would definitly make me play. I never thought I would say this but I wish I took piano lessons more. everysingle member in my branch is tone deaf i swear, hahaha. The hymns we sing are are hardly recognizable.

Can youguys send me Kristens email adress so that I can email her to, thanks. I will write next week!

Elder West

Friday, September 10, 2010

Mission President e-mail

September 10, 2010

Family of Elder Barry Michael West

Dear Family:

Please enjoy this photograph of Elder West, whom we had the joy of welcoming into our mission on September 07. We truly appreciate your efforts in preparing him according to the standards of the Lord now that the bar has been raised for missionaries entering the field of labor in Guatemala and everywhere in the world.

We require our elders and sisters to write home weekly. We would encourage you to do the same, as evidence of your support for his labors in this part of the Lord´s vineyard. It is important to encourage continuous spiritual progress, as we guide Elder West to become a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ, so that he will know his doctrine and delight in teaching it.

If you need to contact me directly, my cellular phone number is (502) 5205-3294, and Sister Baldwin´s is (502) 5704-9525. We will gladly receive your call as the need arises.

Along with your missionary, we pray for your family´s safety and protection. Again, we will strive to teach and protect Elder West, so that he can have a wonderful mission serving the Lord Jesus Christ in Guatemala.

Yours Faithfully,

Richard A. Baldwin, Jr.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

1st Area - Santa Ellena 9/8/10

Ok so this is what happened

For breakfast they gave us mCdonalds. Our mission president sent taxis to pick us up and bring us to the mission home. The mission home is like 30 minutes away from the CCM. We had orientation meetings for a few hours and interviews with the president. At around 3 recieved my assignment to the Santa Ellena area. My new Companion is Elder Misini. They told us that they would be sending us to the easiest areas for training first off. me and My companion then had to travel by bus for like 1 hour and a half! with all of my luggage on buses that were crammed like sardines. The first bus we got on cost 1 quetzal wich is super cheap. AS I was trying to get off this bus the driver started to drive away really fast so I had to jump off of it while it was moving, while carrying my 70 pound suitcase. My companion was laughing really hard. The next bus we got on was 5 quetzales, this time they let me put my stuff on top of the bus which was an adventure in itself. An yet again the bus started driving away with out me so me and my companion had to jump on the back of the bus (while it was moving) and climb through the back door. hahaha, oh my gosh. and then I had to stand there squished against like 5 other people for the remainder of the journey. I was able to talk to somone on the bus which was nice. My area turned out to be up in the mountains. It is really foggy and there is like tons of trees every where.

My apartment is one of the most disgusting places I have been in for a while. It is two stories, everything is made out of cement with wires and metal sticking out everywhere. we have a tiny stove and a tiny fridge. In order to use the water we have to go to the switch board and turn it on that way. The shower has hot water if you use it right. We also have no food. My beds alright though. As I look out of our balcony I can see a bunch of little tin roofs, and like 4 volcanos. It smells like campfire here as well because no one can afford a gas stove. our stove runs on a l little propane tank. We were able to share two small messages with people before we ahd to go back to our apartment. My companion has 6 weeks left in his mission and he can speak spanish really good. He really doesnt care for the rules anymore which really annoys me but thats what companions are for. Today is our P-day and I am sitting in a little internet cafe downtown. We had a district meeting today in what looks like a stake center of sorts. The church building that we met in is actually really nice, especially in comparison to the other buidlings surrounding it.

Overall I really have no Idea where I am, what is going on, and what i should do. I guess thats to be expected on your first day in the mission. As I walk down the street people point to me and say Gringo! haha I just give them a thumbs up and keep walking. Apparently my district had 7 baptisms last week which is really good. and me and my companion might actually have a baptism this weekend because one of them didnt show up to there baptism last week. Oh man there is so much I could say. I might actually be able to send you some pictures next week, these computers are actually pretty good. I hope you guys where able to send kristen off to the MTC smoothly, that is really exciting.

Adios Familia!

Elder West

Final CCM e-mail 9/6

Hola! Today is my last day en la CCM. It has been a really nice day, they have been giving us the easiest day ever. Tonight we are supposed to have our "last supper". They hired caterers so it should be pretty good. They have been telling us alot of practical knowledge and stuff that we can all apply to our specific missions. For example, I learned that lots of ladies here, and some men, like to plant kisses on the cheek upon greeting. They told us Elders not to kiss them back for obvious reasons. I think that its really cool that my first full day in the mission field is the same day as kristens first day in the MTC. Kristen can expect to gain about 10 pounds there, I know that I did. I was able to loose it all here in guatemala though. i forgot to tell you guys that this past week I got sick twice, along with about 30 other elders. I sleep on the top bunk. My companion sleeps on the bottom. He says that he really likes it when he wakes up to the sound of a waterfall landing right next to him. Needless to say I threw up alot and I somehow was able to throw up on all of my companions stuff, hahaha. The mission office is like 3 minutes away from the CCM but my area could be as far as 2 hours away from here. They said that we should expect to baptize about 3-4 people a month. My mission has one of the best baptism rates in guatemala. With me in the mission the average should increase to about 5. I very well could have a baptism within 2 weeks. I am super excited. My next letter should be very interesting. Hope all is well at home, tell kristen that the MTC is really fun. i am more than ready to leave the MTC for good however. The best trick I have learned as far as learning spanish is concernced is that whenever I hear someone speaking spanish i repeat everysingle word they say in my head. It helps. Hopefully Kristens teachers can speak spanish good. Thanks for all of the support. I will report my experience my next p-day.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

6th CCM e-mail 9/1/2010

Subject: I can speak spanish!

BOy oh Boy! you could not believe how much I luaghed when you told me that kristens report date got bumped up six weeks. That was the biggest suprise ever! Something that might help you is that the MTC had alot of stuff that you can by there. Plus at the MTC bookstore you missionaries get like a 40% off discount. They have alot of practical stuff like shampoo, all the church literature you will ever need, scripture cases, stamps, food, watches, alarm clocks and stuff. So dont worry if you dont have time to get all the little stuff. There is a sister in my district whose old stake president is now the mission president for Kristens missions Im pretty sure. She said her family is really good freinds with them. Kristen can tell her mission president that her brother is serving with Hermana Curtis, he might recognize the name. Ok so I had the most amazing experience this week. They let us go out into the city a second time to get references and do contacts and stuff. Except this time I didnt have the aid of a latino companion to help me with my spanish. It was me and my two other companions. Elder Sagoe, and Elder Tebbs. I wanna share two experiences in particular that really stood out to me. The first one nearly made me cry. My companions and I walked by this area where a ton of homeless people were laying down and sleeping. one of them was sitting up and my companion had the prompting to go talk to him. He looked really quite young, very dirty, and was quite obviously mentally handicapped. We aske him ¨how was your day¨ he asnwered ¨malo (bad)¨, he tried to tell us something else but we ahd no Idea what he was saying so we gave him a pamphlet about the restoration and began to teach to his needs the best we could. As soon as we handed him the pamphlet another homeless mentally challenged man came over and we gave him one to and began to teach both of them. i was talking about how god and Jesus christ love all of us when one of them just began to cry. We tought him that there is a prophet here on the earth today that guides us, and that through the teachings of the prophet we can gain knowledge that can help us onvercome any challenge. In the end I dont know excactly why he was crying but i think that I may have been the only person in a long time to have shown any kind of love for him in a long time. It was really humbling. I wish that I could have done more to help these to men but there was really nothing i could have done at that time. i wish I could talk about my other story but Im out of time and the other missionaries are getting grumpy. The next email you get I might be in the mission field! Love you guys! Good luck Kristen!