Elder Lund's photos would not download this week. So I copied a pic from the John's Blog (the Senior Couple serving in Honduras). The Johns and the Desters (Mission President and his wife) do so much good-Elder Lund already appreciates what they do for the missionaries. This photo shows 22 new Elders and 2 new Sisters arriving in Honduras on 2.4.2014
Well, I´m finally in the mission field! Everyone in my district left early morning so I changed companions (Elder Novack going to Virginia). It was kind of a boring day without everyone in my district, but nevertheless it was still good. Elder Garrison, Jones, and I got up at and left the CCM at for the airport in Mexico City. We had about a 2 and a half hour flight to San Pedro Sula. When I printed out my boarding pass, it said there was someone sitting next to me and I was pretty excited to finally share the gospel to a real person, but no one ended up sitting next to me so I just read El Libro de Mormon and slept. It was awesome seeing San Pedro Sula from the air. We also saw a bunch of smoke from fires (trash and agricultural fires) and HUGE bananna plantations. We all felt the intense heat and humidity right when we walked off the plane onto the tarmac (spelling?) It was super hot! Fortunately, we got to change out of our suits shortly after. We got picked up at the airport by the Assistants to the President and the General Secretaries. We talked about the mission and Honduras on the van ride from the airport to the Stake Center (El Banque as it´s called) in downtown San Pedro Sula. There we had lunch and a bunch of orientation meetings. There were only 3 gringos coming in but 19 or so latinos coming in from the Guatemala CCM. We also met President Dester and his wife...they are amazing! President Dester is literally the nicest person and is always smiling. He still has 2 and a half years left so he'll be here the whole time...yes! We then went to their house to have dinner. It was on the 20th floor of some condo tower and it was really nice. After, we went to the Assistant's house to go to sleep. It was hot and we had fans all over the house.
In the morning, we went to Baleadas Express to have breakfast. Hondurans have baleadas all the time and they are very good. It's a tortilla with beans, eggs, and cream. I'm not sure how else to describe it, so just Google it. After, we had the transfers meeting and we met our trainers. My trainer is Elder Pablo. He is awesome. He's been here 14 months and is a great missionary (I know because a ton of missionaries told me). He is from Guatemala and doesn't speak ANY (well, hardly any) english. It's tough to communicate with him but it's also nice because I can't cheat with english. I am truly being immersed in the Spanish language. Spanish is his second language, actually. He knows some weird Mayan dialect that doesn't make any sense when you listen to it.
After, we went to my area: the Dolores Area in Santa Rosa de Copan. It was a 4 hour bus ride to this area and we dropped off the other missionaries along the way. I got to see the landscape and people of Honduras. It is truly beautiful, but the people are very poor. My area is supposedly one of the wealthiest in Honduras (besides some parts of San Pedro Sula like the President's home) but it would probably be considered a slum in the United States. 95% of the houses are like what you'd expect in a third world country, but there are also a couple nice suburban-like houses here and there. There is one main road which is asphalt but everywhere else there are dirt roads with trash everywhere. Despite this, it is one of the safest areas in the mission. Nothing sketchy will probably happen in my first 12 weeks here. Thankfully, it is also not as hot and humid as San Pedro Sula (and fewer mosquitos), which is particularly nice since I'll get to adjust longer. Our house is pretty decent. We live with a member. Unfortunately, we live right next to that main road and there is a downward slope. Huge industrial semis and busses use their engine brakes (even though we´re in town) and it is super super loud. I probably wake up 2-3 times a night, but whatever.
The first night we went with the Branch President and Ward Mission Leader and his sons to visit some less active families. I could hardly understand a word they were saying. They were speaking super fast and there accent is totally different from our Mexican teachers at the MTC. The past couple days I have picked it up pretty good and I can understand a lot better. I am learning everyday. Thankfully, there is a gringo elder (Elder Moes pronounced like moose) living in the same house with his companion from El Salvador Elder Carateras. We work in different areas but we have dinner together with members a lot. It´s nice to have at least one person to talk to in english every now and then.
The work has been good. Our work consists pretty much of these things right now: teach lessons to investigators, street contacting and tracting, providing service, visiting less-active or recent converts, and visiting member families for referalls and food. By the way, the food is really good here. It is tough when you can´t communicate very well, but hopefully I can have my Spanish down after these first 12 weeks of training with Elder Pablo.
We see a lot of weird things in Honduras. One example I can share, some little kid just started urinating on the sidewalk where everyone still walks. We had to avoid the runoff. It was strange. I´ve seen some other things that I probably shoudln´t share with all of you. I´ve heard other stories from missionaries on the bus ride to Santa Rosa as well. All I can say is that there are crazy things you see everyday. I´ll be more than happy to share when I get back in two years if any of you ask me.
Unfortunately, the women are super immodest here. What suprised me was that even a lot of the members were immodest at church. It can be really distracting. What´s really sad also is that a lot of the families have single mothers...the father walks out on the family a lot here. It´s sad.
We had our Zone Conference . It was great and we learned a lot regarding keeping our living quarters clean, mission rules, goal setting, and finding people to teach. There is a senior couple serving (they work in the mission office) Elder and Sister John. Sister John is from Carmel!!! It was awesome to talk to her about Carmel and the Peninsula. She is a graduate from Carmel High too. Go Padres! She moved about 30 years ago though. I´ll find her maiden name to see if anyone knows her. There are also two sisters from my mission prep class at BYU in my zone...small world. We have about 30 or so missionaries in our zone and about 8-10 in our district. Elder Pablo is the district leader.
I don´t know what else to say. I´ve just been taking it all in and working hard. It is incredibly humbling to see the conditions here. Yet, the people are still happy and super humble. It is super maciso (spelling? and it´s a word for cool orawesome and they use the word super here too). I love talking with the people, even though I can´t truly communicate everything that I want to say.
Alma 18:8-9 "¿En dónde está este hombre que tiene tan grande poder? Y le dijeron: He aquí, está dando de comer a tus caballos." Missionaries are always serving...
Santa Rosa de Copan, Honduras