Sunday, July 5, 2015

Another Really Successful Week

The Office

Denny's on P-day
Hey Mom!

This has been another really great week!

On Wednesday we will have another change meeting (or in your case, transfer meeting)! :) We have all been working really, really hard in getting everything ready. My good friend Elder L is leaving the office at last. He has been here almost nine months! When I came to the office he was the youngest, with only two changes. Now, more than five months later, he´s leaving and I´ll be taking his place with the most time here.

One of the wonderful blessings of my mission is that I get to meet so many great elders who have dedicated their lives to the Lord. It is sad to see them leave the mission. My mission "dad" is going home on Wednesday! If you didn´t know, all the missionaries who are leaving come to our house on their last night, so I will get to talk to him for a while and ask him more questions about his mission. He is such a great guy!

We have had another really successful week in our area too! Lately we have been focusing a lot on finding new investigators. A lot of our investigators have not been progressing, and so we decided to put more emphasis on finding. I was telling Katie in the email I sent her that as a missionary you literally have to talk to everyone! A missionary who comes to the mission shy and fearful needs to change. He has to quickly make the decision to open his mouth, at every opportunity. That´s what we´ve been doing this week. We stop every single person on the street and share a short message with them, inviting them to listen to our message in their homes. Some say yes, and some say no, but the important part is that we keep searching and inviting, over and over again!


Also, Elder Villalobos and I have discussed with each other a lot about how we can make our lessons more powerful. There are three things we should to in every lesson: testify, invite, and promise blessings. Every investigator we teach needs to repent to receive the promises blessings of the Lord, and they can only receive them if they fulfill their commitments. Some of the commitments are, as you know, assist church on Sunday, read the Book of Mormon, and pray to know if our message is true. I have come to realize that one of our goals is that our investigators teach themselves everything we cannot teach them. If they go to church every Sunday, for example, they can come to know that the Church is true and that it is presided by divine authority. An investigator cannot be converted if he does not feel the Spirit witnessing of the truth.

I have been trying really hard to improve my relationship with Heavenly Father. I know that He is there and loves me and I want to feel His presence even more in my life. Through prayer He has spoken to me over and over again, and will help me throughout my entire life.

I love being a missionary, and I hope I can help hundreds and thousands of people "come to Christ, and be perfected in Him."

Have an amazing week!

Te amo!!

Elder Marriott

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Wonderful Week!

Hey Mom!

It is so great that you have been making a lot of friends in town. I have come to realize that there are so many great people all around us that we don´t even know. We just have to get to know them all and sometimes that is the challenge. :) 

I can´t believe the family reunion was this week. Summers are so short, right? We are already almost in July! That is so awesome that you all could go to the cabin in Hidden Springs again. It is amazing out there! I think my favorite part was volleyball, frisbee, and swimming. It´s nice to kick back and relax every once in a while! I bet Papi could have used a few good games of chess, huh? ;)
Zone Service Project

Yeah, Richard emailed me and said he got his mission call. Florida! I´m so excited for him; he will do great! Devin, Richard, Ben, and I will all be out at the same time. Just imagine, we hadn´t had missionaries in the Lincoln ward since who knows when. Our super cool group changed things. ;D I know Devin and Ben are such powerful missionaries. Devin wrote me a while back and said he was training! I´m so glad he made the choice to go on a mission. It is so worth it! :) 

This week has been wonderful! On Saturday the ward held a Church activity and we watched "Conozca los Mormones" or Meet the Mormons. You guys have probably seen it, right? I think it was published quite a long time ago in the United States but just recently here. Anyways, one of our investigators, Aleida, a 17-year-old whose mom is a member, came and watched with us. Afterwards we had another lesson with her and she opened up a lot to us. She said she would love to serve a mission too in a year or two. Her mom told her, "But you need to be baptized first though!" but she kind of just shrugged the comment aside. Two days later, on Monday, she called me at 9:30 p.m. and told me she wanted to be baptized on Saturday! The next day we went and visited her and practiced the baptismal interview questions. She did really well, and she even remembered the name of our modern day prophet, Thomas S. Monson. That´s rare, by the way. :) Yesterday the zone leaders came down and gave her the interview, and she is ready to be baptized! We will hold her baptism tomorrow at three in the afternoon. 

Lately I have been thoroughly studying chapter 6 of Preach my Gospel, about attributes of Christ. My attention was called to a part that says that "obedience is the first law of heaven," and then lists the many blessings we receive when we are obedient, such as more faith, protection, and guidance of the Spirit. I remember that an Apostle said that when we understand and live the commandments we will even look for more commandments to keep, to obtain these precious blessings. I think, like you said in the last email, sometimes we only "go through the motions" rather than actively seeking for new ways to serve others and the Lord. We don´t listen to the gospel music, but we do dance. As missionaries we try really hard to tune in to the gospel music. I have never been more obedient than I am now, and I have never been happier in my entire life! God blesses me in so many ways. I know God literally has a plan for us and smiles when we make the right decisions. He is always watching and guiding us. 

Thank you again for being such a great example for me. I will never forget the countless times that you sat on the couch with me and read Book of Mormon stories, the Friend, New Era, and Ensign, and talked to me about God´s plan for all of us. I wouldn't be here without you and Papi, and will forever be grateful! 

Well, I need to go now! I hope you have an amazing week! 

I love you!
Elder Marriott
P.S.  This week we started waking up at 5:30 to go running every day! Afterwards I do 150 curls with our homemade weights. Life is good!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Best Two Years!

Happy Father's Day, Papi!
Hey Mom!

Today I wrote another letter to President Vasquez, and I decided to look at the very first letter I sent him. I laughed as I noticed how horrible my Spanish was just nine months ago! Heavenly Father has blessed me so much with the gift of tongues! I thought you might be interested to see the letter.
 
Hola Presidente Vasquez!

Esta semana fue fantástico! Estoy en Delgado. Mi área esta excelente! Hay mucho bueno personas aquí, y los miembros son amable y amigable. Mi compañero, Elder Leatherow, es fantástico también! Esta semana nosotros tuvimos trabajaron duro. Elder Leatherow esta también obediente en todo caminos. El es el mejor entrenador. Esta semana yo tuve aprendí mucho y mas! Mi español esta mejor, pero las personas hablan muy rápido! Cada dia esta mas fácil a entender. Me gusta caminando y ensenando. Tuve sentí El Espíritu mucho, especialmente cuando nosotros ensenamos familias. En las escrituras yo tuve aprendí sobre Ammon y los hijos de Mosiah, y también de El Predicad Mi Evangelio.

Aprendí acerca la importancia de preguntando preguntas inspirados, y escuchando y sentando la Espiritu como las personas hablan.

Hay no otro país yo podría ser mas para El Salvador! Me gusta mi área, mi compañero Elder Leatherow, las personas aquí, y las cosas aprendí cada día! Mi testimonia esta creciendo

Gracias mucho por enviando mi aquí con mi compañero! :)

Elder Marriott

Horrible, huh? And I thought I was all right! ;) "mucho bueno personas." I cringed as I read it. Hahaha!
Here is the letter from last week:

Hola Presidente Vasquez!

Esta semana fue, como siempre, fantástica! Tuvimos una experiencia bien espiritual ayer en una lección. Ensenamos, por primera vez, un investigador se llama Rigoberto. Preguntamos si el tenia una pregunta por nosotros, y nos dijo que hace poco tiempo su hermano murió. El dijo que esa experiencia lo ayudo tener una mejor relación con Dios. Ensenamos el Plan de Salvación, y sentimos que debemos introducir el Libro de Mormon. Lo hicimos, y sacamos escrituras inspiradas (en el capitulo 40 de Alma) para ayudarle entender el Plan de Salvación. Al final de la lección, el acepto nuestra invitación a leer el Libro de Mormon para aprender mas acerca del plan que Dios tiene para el y para su hermano. El sonrió con todo cuando lo dimos su propio Libro de Mormon, y estamos animados a ver su progreso.

Hoy leí en Predicad Mi Evangelio acerca del Libro de Mormon. El Espíritu estaba tan fuerte, como un testimonio mas de las verdades que se encuentran en este libro.

Se que Dios nos ama, y por eso nos dio el Libro de Mormon, para que podamos hallar la paz y felicidad al aprender mas de Su hijo Jesucristo. Me encanta ser misionero, y me encanta enseñar acerca de Jesucristo, Su Evangelio, y el Libro de Mormón.

Gracias por todo, Presidente!

Elder Marriott
A little bit better, huh? I know you will find a few faults, but I am glad to say I have improved a little bit. I am so thankful that I could learn this beautiful language! Spanish is so great. Sometimes Elder Villalobos asks me questions about English, and I realize how unlogical it is compared to Spanish. Of course, they are both great though. ;)

This week was so great! I think I have been happier now than I have ever been before in my mission. The more I learn and teach the gospel, the happier I am.

On Saturday we had our zone conference. Elder Brinkerhoff and Elder Wade taught us a lot about the importance of achieving the "standards of excellence." Elder Brinkerhoff explained that the "normas" which, as you know, means standards, should be "normal." He promised us that if we earned the standards of excellence every week, we we have even more success as missionaries. The standards of excellence focus on new investigators,  investigators who are progressing, who have a baptismal date, and who go to church, This week we have been striving even harder to find new people to teach and invite everyone, EVERYONE, go to the Church on Sunday.

Preach my Gospel explains how as a companionship we have the opportunity to literally take care and help all the people in our small area. I know there are people who are prepared and waiting, searching for the restored gospel. Our purpose is to find, teach, and help them come unto Christ through faith, repentance, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring the end.
Like my mission packet said, "Que grandioso es [mi] llamamiento!"

Wish I had more time to write, but my time is short this week!

I hope you have a wonderful week!

I love you!

Elder Marriott

P.S. By the way, feel free to ask me whatever questions you have about my mission or El Salvador! :)

Friday, June 12, 2015

Another Awesome Week!

Hey Mom!

This week was so, so amazing. Lately I have been even more grateful for what the Lord has done for me. As time has passed I have plunged deeper and deeper into my mission, and now I feel I am completely lost in the Lord´s work! I am so blessed to be out here. I just read Katie´s email where she mentions how she has not had very many problems or challenges in her life, and I can say the same thing of myself! All I have received in my life are wonderful blessings from heaven. You and Papi, my wonderful siblings, the Gospel, my friends, the mission, and the opportunity to live in a time when the gospel has been restored for the last time on the earth! What more could I ask for? I am always reminded of Mosiah 2, where we read that even when we keep the commandments and love and serve others, we are eternally indebted to God and to His son Jesus Christ. That is so true! 

Yesterday Elder Villalobos, Elder Rowley, and I had a powerful lesson with a new investigator. After we opened with a prayer, we asked him how he has attained his relationship with Heavenly Father. He told us that recently his brother died, and that that has helped him feel closer to God and His love. We took the opportunity to testify of the Plan of Salvation, that it is possible for him to return to his brother again. We told him where his brother is right now, and introduced the Book of Mormon to him, reading from Alma 40 about the resurrection of the dead and judgment. As we finished the lesson, we offered him his own Book of Mormon, and he told us fervently and confidently that he would read it to learn more. The Spirit was so strong, and I was so happy to be a part of that lesson. There are so many people who need answers to their questions, and the gospel contains all of the answers we need to have peace and happiness in our lives. 

I never cease to be amazed that Jesus Christ came down from heaven to teach us the way to return to our Heavenly Father. He was central in God´s plan because he atoned for each one of us, whoever we are! 

On Saturday we were able to sing as a zone (zona San Salvador) at the priesthood session of stake conference!

Also, on Monday we had interview with President Vasquez! He taught us about three types of missionaries. There is the "social missionary" who has two feet still in the world and is not focused on the mission, there is the "honorable missionary" who has one foot in the mission and one in the world, and who sometimes gets distracted by thoughts unfocused on the Lord´s work, and there is the "consecrated missionary" who is completely focused on the mission and sacrifices everything to serve the Lord. That is the missionary I want to be, and I know the Lord will bless me even more for my efforts to work hard and be completely obedient. 

Well, I´m almost out of time! I hope you have another amazing week!! :) 

I love you! 

Elder Marriott
P.S. By the way, Peanut sent off his mission papers! He will receive his call soon!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Spam and Eggs

Hey Mom!

Yeah, there have been a lot of changes! I love changes though. It is good to see some new faces every once in a while! Elder Rowley is really, really funny, and Elder Villalobos is serious as ever. So they balance each other out. :) No, we are all pretty good at typing. Of course no one types 130 wpm like me, but they keep trying. ;) Haha! Kidding. 
 
That saddens me. They haven´t even eaten a single can of Spam? Not even Spam tacos? Hahaha! This week I finally fried up some Spam and eggs (pictures to follow) and I was telling everyone about my General Conference tradition. They thought it was weird that I put it in my tacos. So good though! :)

Wow, I can´t wait to see Anson and Charlie! They are the cutest babies ever, and like I said before, I´m a proud uncle! 

Can´t believe it is already summer out there! Lots of good things have been happening! 

Isn´t that so interesting? Joseph Smith lived through so many persecutions directed at him and his family, and people still haven´t stopped. There are a lot of examples of prophets in the Bible who go through really rough times. It is good to know that if we push through the hard times, our faith will be strengthened. As President Eyring says, trials are blessings! An interesting point of view. 

This week I have a really great story to tell. Here we go! 

As you know, we scheduled Dennis´s baptism for Saturday night. Anyways, since the family really wanted to be at the baptism and don´t arrive home until 8:00, we decided (I actually didn´t know until Elder Villalobos told me) to hold the baptism at 8:30. When I heard we were having the baptism at 8:30 I was a little nervous. In the mission we have to be in the house at 9:00 every night, even if we start a lesson at 8:50. Anyways, Elder Villalobos assured me we would be home on time (I doubted it highly) and we didn´t change anything. 

Bishop wanted us to invite President to the baptism, so we did. He said he might be able to come with his family, but he had a meeting at 7:00 so it would be pushing it. We told him that was fine. 

Saturday came along, and we prepared for the baptism and went out on divisions to work. I didn´t get back to the house until 8:00. Anyways, I grabbed everything we needed for the baptism and headed over to the chapel. Elder Villalobos and Elder Rowley (I was on divisions with Moses, our recent convert) were already there. We realized we didn´t have all of the baptismal clothes, so we headed back to the house again. By the time everything was ready, we began the baptism service at 8:55. Yeah, it was late. After a couple members gave talks and the youth sang a hymn for us. At 9:15 we were about to begin the actual baptismal ordinance and President arrived with his family! Everything went great and President even bore his testimony. It was such a powerful baptismal service! Afterwards we ate refreshments and by the time we left (right after President) it was already 10:15

Right as we left it started pouring, hard! Elder Villalobos took off running, with Elder Rowley right behind him and me in back. 

There is a gate right in front of Bishop´s house, which is on the same street as the chapel. It is really low, and is bent downwards. When I came to the area, I hit my head on it. It hurt really bad. It is really hard to see, so it is important that we tell all of the visiting Elders, or new Elders, where it is. We had already passed under it earlier in the week and day, but Elder Rowley forgot. So as we were running frantically in the rain, Elder Villalobos ducked under the gate and Elder Rowley hit it hard, dead on the forehead. Blood started streaming down his face, and he yelled at us over the pouring rain, "Don´t worry, I´m fine!" Of course we didn´t believe him, and we started walking with him slowly, one on each side. He was in shock, and we got home and sat him in a chair. We wrapped his head up and put on some medicine. 

What a memory! I didn´t think it was a good idea to run, let alone up stairs like we did. Imagine one of us slipping and falling down the stairs! Anyways. It was another crazy memory to write in my journal. 

I had another crazy experience this morning. Today we had the zone leader conference in President´s house, and the assistants picked us up at 6:45 to pick up some chairs and drop us off at the office so I could print off a check. We passed by and grabbed the keys from Bishop´s wife, and arrived at the chapel. Then, as I turned the key to unlock the door, the key snapped in half! I called Bishop and he said that the same thing had happened to all the other keys, but I still felt embarrassed. We went back to our house to grab extra chairs we have. :D 

It has been a wonderful week though. I love my mission so, so much. I am thankful for the testimony I have grown out here in El Salvador. I am thankful for all of the wonderful people I have met, especially for President Vasquez and his family. I can´t believe how much the Lord has blessed me, and sometimes I feel I do not deserve everything He does for me. I am always so happy! :) 

I know without a doubt the Church is true. There is no greater joy we can receive than when we share the gospel with our friends and family. I hope I can be a great missionary for all my life! 

I hope you have an amazing week! 

I love you!

Elder Marriott
 

Friday, May 29, 2015

Rejoice!

Dear Madre,

Lucas's baptism! Manuel (on my left) performed the ordinance! 
Wow! I can´t believe it! Just a week after Charlie! I think they should totally name him Steven, after his dad! I just now told Elder Loosle that I had prophesied Lexi´s husband´s name even before he met him, and he thought it was pretty funny. You know, at the time I didn't know it was a prophecy, funny as that sounds... Remember how I used to tease Lexi and say that she would ask her future husband, "What shall we eat for lunch, husband?" and he would respond, "Spam as usual, my sweet wife!" I was so hilarious, wasn't I? I doubt they have had a can of Spam since they got married. Which reminds me, I still need to eat mine! I decided to eat fried Spam and eggs for lunch here in the office. We will just bring a stove from home to use. :) Back to the baby, I wouldn't be surprised if he is almost as tall as me! Both Erik and Lexi are really tall, so it would make sense. Veremos.

We ate at a restaurant called Chinawok. It was super delicious! 


How often do you all go down to the cabin? I literally haven´t had a delicious pie in more than 10 months, can you believe it? Or a delicious cake. ;) I keep getting jealous when you sent me pictures of the desserts you have been making! Here we just eat ice cream for dessert sometimes. That or Chokis, which are a little like Chips Ahoy in the States.

I have to say, it´s pretty hard to write a report on your mission. I feel I could tell anyone for hours about any investigator, and how they felt as they were converted to the gospel. So far, all I can say is my mission has been great! Time flies! Like Pap asked me to do, I am working hard and having fun!

This week we had another change meeting! Elder Villalobos and I now have another companion, Elder Rowley! Do you remember him from when I was in Paleca? He was in my district. Neither Elder Villalobos or I are training, but Elder Rowley will be here for at least a change in the office. Elder Loosle, who is the Migration Secretary, is now training Elder Barwick! It is so cool, because Elder Loosle was Elder Barwick´s trainer when he came to the mission too! He will train him again, but as a new secretary! It will be sad to see Elder Loose leave in six weeks. He is one of my really good friends here in the mission. But Elder Barwick is really great too! He is so nice and humble, and I know we will get along really well! This is already my fourth change in the office! Crazy, huh? When Elder Loosle leaves I will have more time here than anyone else! Though I do have less time in the mission than anyone else. ;D

Tomorrow we will have Dennis's baptism! The zone leaders, Elder Brinkerhoff (who just came down from boiling hot La Union) and Elder Wade came down to interview him. Dennis is really excited for his baptism! Denning, one of his friends from Church, will perform the baptismal ordinance. This is our fourth baptism for this month! The Lord has been blessing us so much.

Lately I have been so happy about everything: our area, our investigators, my companions, the office, everything! I remember one time I asked Elder Caldwell (who sadly left the office on Wednesday), "How can we be happy all the time, no matter what?" His response was direct and to the point, "We just have to choose to be happy." It´s so true! I remember President told me that as missionaries we don´t have to have "up and down moments" but that every moment should be an "up moment." Lately I have been trying even harder to maintain positive thoughts and be happy, no matter what! So far it has been pretty easy. ;) I remember the story of Alma, where the angel visits him and tells him, "Lift up thy head and rejoice, for thou hast great cause to rejoice. For thou hast been faithful in keeping the commandments of God..." I love that verse! If we keep the commandments, how is it possible not to rejoice, not to be positive and happy? Because if we continue faithful, someday we will live with Heavenly Father again! I think sometimes, due to our human weaknesses, we forget that sometimes. ;D

I am so glad that I have a testimony of the Church, and that I have the Spirit to be with me always. I can never deny the many, many times when I have felt the Spirit bear witness of the Book of Mormon, of Joseph Smith, of Thomas S. Monson, of the Church. As James 1:5 says, if we ever need answers, we can ask God! He wants to help us. :)

Well, I´m out of time! I hope you have an amazing week!

I love you!

Elder Marriott

Sunday, May 24, 2015

There's Always Hope!

Hola Madre!

I was so surprised when I got on and saw about ten emails from you, all pictures! Charlie!! I was thinking before I started writing, "I wonder if Jess had her baby yet? Probably!" I don´t know about you, but I think he already looks like Jameson! We shall see! He is the cutest nephew ever though, and I can´t wait to see him with my own eyes!

Sounds like you have all been really busy this week! I guess that´s how it is at the end of the school year. I can´t believe there are only two or three weeks left of school! Doesn´t time just fly? I know I say it almost every week, but wow! It´s almost June!

You heard right about El Salvador. It has been a little dangerous lately. ;D I have faith that if I am obedient and obey the rules of the mission that everything will turn out fine though. As missionaries, the Spirit is like our bulletproof jacket. ;)

It is always sad to hear about people that do not have money, have health problems, and sometimes can´t even work. You asked me for more pearls of wisdom, and I will give you this: When we live the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, there is ALWAYS hope. Hope for blessings, hope for a better life, hope for peace and joy.

I will always remember a talk given by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland about a man, newly wed, whose car breaks down as his family is moving to another State. The man walks to the nearest town, in search of someone, anyone, who can help his family in their situation. Eventually he gets to a carshop and the man there inspects the car and tells him he cannot find a problem. They start off again, and the car breaks down in the same spot, the exact same spot as before. The man leaves his family behind, and begins walking to the same town to look for help. Elder Holland imagines driving down the same highway as this family, and seeing the dad walking, his family waiting anxiously on the side of the road. He imagines telling the man, "Keep walking! Don´t you quit! There is hope ahead, you have a bright future!"

Sometimes life is hard. We will all have challenges, financial problems, health problems, and lost trust in some of our best friends. But if we live the gospel to the fullest, none of it will really matter in the long run, because we are following the path that Heavenly Father has provided for us. One day we can live with God again, in an eternal state of happiness. But this life is a time to prepare to meet Him. There is no time to lose, the time is now!

It is sad, but sometimes the adversary attacks us really, really hard. Sometimes we begin to fall, spiritually. We need to heed the advice of President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, to "doubt our doubts before we doubt our faith."

This Church is true! Joseph Smith restored the Church that was lost after the death of Christ and his apostles. The Book of Mormon is the Word of God, and contains the fullness of the gospel of Christ. Thomas S. Monson is God´s prophet.

I love my mission so much! I love helping people come to Christ, because I know that He is our hope. Only through Him can we reach our potential! He wants to strengthen us and guide us to eternal life. We only need to reach out to Him, as He reaches out to us.

This week Elder Villalobos and I taught a member couple, Ricardo and Esmiralda. We read Alma 50:1-4 about how Moroni prepared to defend his people against the Lamanites. We compared Moroni to parents and the people as their children. These times are really hard, but if we stay faithful to God and his commandments, we can overcome our common enemy, Satan, and have a happy family. This is definitely something that you and Pap and put into practice with us. There could not be a happier family, and it is because you taught us the gospel of our Savior, every day of our lives. Thanks for that, Mom. You´re amazing. :D

I hope you have an amazing week!!

Love,

Elder Marriott

P.S. I´m sorry I don´t have pictures this week. Next time!