Friday, April 24, 2015

Thank You!

Hey Mom!

I finally got your package on Monday! [It took 4 months!] I was soooo happy. I loved how you put "Pedro José Marriott" on the package. Everyone got a kick out of that. Thanks a ton! The homemade cookies were delicious! And I am so excited to fry up some Spam! It is so hard every general conference not having fried Spam, eggs, and hot chocolate. That was my tradition! :D I am thinking about bringing a stove into the office to make some Spam for lunch one day. It will make all of the office elders so jealous. ;) Of course I loved the Cat hat you sent me, as well as the birthday balloons! Maybe my favorite part was the poster! So cool! Tell everyone I said thank you! It really made my day! 

Yesterday we had a Multi-Zone! President and Hermana Vasquez and Elder Alonso of the Seventy came and spoke to us. I learned so much. I don´t think I have ever felt someone´s spiritual power as I did Elder Alonso´s. He was so synchronized with the Spirit and taught profound topics in the most simple way. He taught about the Book of Mormon, the Plan of Salvation, and the Atonement of Jesus Christ. So powerful! He asked so many inspired questions, and taught with so much power and authority. As he finished, he testified by declaring, "I don´t just believe in Christ, or have faith in Christ, but I have a perfect knowledge, as one of His special witnesses, that he lives! Christ lives!" He asked us how we could ever be unexcited (desanimado) when 1. Thomas S. Monson is a prophet of God, 2. Joseph Smith restored the Church of Christ, 3. The Book of Mormon is true, 4. The Church is true, and 5. Christ lives! When you put it in this perspective, it is so true. We should ALWAYS be excited and happy! 

Elder Villalobos and I are focusing a lot on our teaching skills. We have been doing a lot of practices (role plays) and setting more baptismal dates and inspired commitments for our investigators. There is always so much to improve in our lives, and that is the beautiful thing about the gospel of Jesus Christ! We can always increase our faith, increase our teaching skills, and increase our love for Christ and his Atonement. Sometimes as members I think we take things for granted because we were born in the Church and are really familiar with the gospel message. Even a something as simple as "Dios es nuestro Padre Celestial" is so meaningful and significant. As I have pondered on this eternal truth I feel the Spirit so strongly and begin to see and understand things I didn´t before. We are literally children of Heavenly Father! I can just imagine leaving his presence before we came to the earth. He likely gave us a big hug, looked into our eyes, and said, "Come back home. I love you and want you here with me. Come back, my child." Then we stepped through the veil and began our life here on earth. Our time here is only a day in the eternal perspective. We just need to live our lives so that we can return to the presence of God. We cannot imagine how much love God has for us, because he is perfect! I am so happy to have the opportunity to prove to God that I really DO want to return to his presence. I want to live with him again! My purpose as a missionary is to help others return to his presence too. Because they are all sons and daughters of God! What a privilege and a blessing! :D

I love that article from the Ensign about weaknesses and sin! What I got from it is that sometimes we get too hard on ourselves because of the human weaknesses we all have. As we exercise faith in Him and keep the commandments, he will make our weaknesses strong. I love talking about the gospel!

I love you too!

Elder Marriott




Sunday, April 19, 2015

With the Lord, Anything Is Possible!

Hey Mom!

The baptisms were so great! Like I said, I had the privilege of baptizing Jorge. Because the water was too low, and he has bad knees, we knelt down together in the water before I performed the ordinance. I thought it was really amazing. Afterwards, he shared a powerful testimony of his conversion and the Book of Mormon. What a great man! I am so thankful that the Lord led us to him and that I had the opportunity to teach and help him progress. He shared with us later that he had been looking for the truth for all of his life and that he felt he was missing something. I am so grateful for the gospel and the change it creates in our lives! :D 

I think the eye doctor just said that because he wanted to sell another pair of glasses, but I´m not sure. :) I don´t think they have gotten worse, but I will definitely wear glasses just in case! 

Here's a few more terms they use here in El Salvador. One of my favorites is ¨pisto," which means money or "dinero." On Tuesday, before the Changes meeting, I gave my presentation on finances to the new missionaries. They all laughed when I told them they could withdraw their "pisto" out of the ATM on the first day of every month. I definitely say "pisto" more than "dinero." For example, if we are about to take a bus, I will ask Elder Villalobos, "Tiene pisto?" It´s totally normal. Though "dinero" IS a little more formal. ;)

Another word we use is "chafa," which is an adjective for things that are not good enough or worse than average. For example, I also got another laugh when I told the new missionaries that every area will have a cell phone like I have, but more "chafa." If we eat something we don´t like we might say, "Esta comida es chafa!" or "Que chafa!" I think your class will love that phrase. ;) 

One of my favorites is the word "bicho," which just means "dude." "Bicha" means girl. We might ask, "Que hacen esos bichos?" or "Que pasó con la bicha?" It sounds a little bad in English, but it is totally normal and acceptable here. A lot of these words are really fun to say, just like "puchica." 

And finally, "cabal." You say it whenever you agree with something. For example, if someone asks me, "Ustedes ya comieron, va?" I can respond, "Cabal." We use it a lot here. It can also be used to emphasize specificity. For example, "Este vale ocho dolares, cabal." Exactly eight dollars. Another fun one. ;) 

Here, they celebrate what´s called "Semana Santa" where all week people will visit family and cook and eat special food. It´s kind of like how we celebrate it, but it´s a week long. In the street there are tons and tons of people buying and selling food, as preachers shout into loudspeakers about Christ and his birth. They will also paint huge pictures on the street, pictures I don´t even understand. There are lots of religious ceremonies and parades. We were one of the only c
Elder V decided not to smile ;)
hurches that didn´t have a ceremony or anything. General Conference was definitely enough, though. :D 

Hahaha! I was a funny guy, wasn´t I? And I can´t say I have changed all of my old ways yet. Every once in a while I show other Elders my "walk." They think it´s hilarious. ;) 

On Wednesday we had Changes. Elder Vasquez left for La Union, the hottest place in all of El Salvador. Elder Villalobos and I will have a lot of time together--at least two changes. We get along so well though! We both love to work hard so I know we will have a lot of success. Our goal is to have at least one baptism every week beginning on May 2, the day scheduled for Rodrigo´s baptism. Rodrigo is the son of Jorge, by the way. ;) We have made a long list of investigators who we hope will be baptized in the following weeks. We are going to make the most of our time we have in the area to contact, find, and teach new investigators. With the Lord, anything is possible! 

I hope you have an amazing week!

Love you all!

Elder Marriott

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Moises, Jorge, and Nuria

Hey Mom!

Yeah, I have been really happy about these last few weeks! We have been taking part in a lot of activities! I have definitely learned a lot. Moises is really, really great! He comes to every activity that he can and yesterday he even visited an investigator with us! Sadly, he has been working on Sunday so he can never attend the last of hour of Church. But he is looking for a new job. He speaks really good English and he wants to work in a call center. His dream job is a translator. :D He will get there, step by step! 

I am glad that Grandpa is back to his old self! 

General Conference was definitely really special! One of my favorite speakers was Robert D. Hales. He talked about our agency and religious freedom. It was a really powerful talk for me! All of the sessions were in Spanish, so it was a little different, but I loved it so much! I wish all of our investigators could have come to feel the power of the testimonies of our apostles and prophets. Their faith is so strong! They are amazing examples for us! :D 

Temple activity, Santa Tecla!
Hahaha! It is so interesting that everyone prays for "moisture" in Utah. I think in Washington we all prayed for sun and heat. ;) I am confident that if you put an extra effort into going to the temple it will rain a lot more. :) 
I loved Lizzy´s paper you sent me. So hilarious! She is definitely a country girl. Do you remember when Lizzy and I both started talking with a southern accent for a few days before I left? Or maybe it was just me...Hahaha!

Guess what? Speaking of glasses, I am getting a pair myself! Hermana Vasquez told me to take an eye test, and I went and they told me if I don´t wear glasses I will lose sight in my left eye. Crazy, huh? Astigmatism! I am not sure if they are just saying that, or if my left eye will really lose its sight if I don´t wear glasses. Either way, I think it is better this way. I already picked out a pair of glasses. We are going to pick them up the day after changes, on Thursday. Everyone says they are really awesome. ;D I will send you a picture next week if we really pick them up on Thursday. We shall see! 

Keep sending pictures of Hannah! They are so great. She is the cutest niece ever!! :D

Wow! Tell Brandon I said Congratulations! That is so great! I am glad he has finally found someone who is right for him! That is so awesome how he proposed. :)


Tomorrow we will have two more baptisms! Jorge and Nuria! I will have the privilege of baptizing Jorge. I am so excited for him! He will definitely be a powerful leader in the Church. His testimony is so strong and his knowledge of the scriptures and Church doctrine is so profound! Nuria is really great too! Yesterday she invited us to eat at her house. She cooked spaghetti and meatballs. She is a chef, and it showed! So delicious. It reminded me a lot of home. People here just don´t know how to make spaghetti. It tastes different. But she definitely knows how. ;D She has changed so much since I met her. Everyone at her work refers to her as "Chef Mormon." Hahaha! She tells everyone she is Mormon even though she will not be baptized into the Church until tomorrow. ;) President and his family are coming tomorrow too! We are trying to make it a really, really special baptism. Hopefully it turns out really nicely! 

Thanks for sending me such long and delightful emails! I really look forward to reading them every week! 

I love you, Mom! Thanks so much for your example, your love and your faith! I am still trying to live up to you and Papi. :)

Have an amazing week!

Elder Marriott

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Craziest Week So Far

Querida Madre,

This might have been the craziest week of my mission so far! At the same time, it was one of those weeks that felt like a day. Weird how that works. On Saturday, the day after I wrote you last, we had Moises's baptism! It was really wonderful, and a great start to the day. The Spirit was strong, and I just felt so happy for Moises and his desire to follow the example of Jesus Christ. He was what you call a "golden investigator." He accepted everything we taught, and quickly accepted the invitation to read the Book of Mormon and to pray to know if it was true. Sometimes it hurts my heart that not all investigators are like Moises. ;) 

On Saturday night we held the wedding of Veronica and Darich. All day Elder Vasquez and I drove around in a taxi running errands for the Hermana Nuria, who cooked and prepared the food. Everything turned out fine though! With the help of the Relief Society the decorations were perfect, the food was delicious, and the bride and bridegroom were extremely happy! It was an exhausting day. :D 

Early Sunday morning, at 7:30, we had the baptism of Veronica. It was also amazing! I am so happy for them!

Yesterday we also had a huge activity at the temple in Santa Tecla! Every zone in the entire mission had the chance to come with their investigators and recent converts to learn more about temple history work, baptism, and the gospel of Jesus Christ, as well as listen to President and Hermana V and other inspired speakers. It turned out great! More than 1,500 people came. Us secretaries ran around all day supervising the activity and fixing any problems we found. We gave little pieces of colored paper to every person that came, creating groups of 70. Then the groups walked around with a missionary "guide" from room to room where they listened to lessons taught by sets of missionaries. I was so tired last night I almost couldn't keep my eyes open during our planning session. It was all worth it though, President is really happy with the effort we put into the activity! :D

Guess what?! In the month of March we had more baptisms than we have every had in the history of our mission, 118! We have NEVER been able to break 100. One month we even had 99! The Lord is blessing us a lot! Lately as a mission we have been focused on a lot of things, including weekly planning, verification, and our teaching skills. The whole mission has been studying the 12-Week program normally designated for new missionaries and their trainers. Only two other missions have more baptisms than us in all of Central America! I am so thankful for Presidente and Hermana V and all they do for the mission. They are so amazing!

Lately we have been focusing a lot on Jorgue. He has been sharing the gospel with his mom and son, and they both said they would go to church with him on Sunday. His mom is Catholic, but 
he says she is starting to have a lot of doubts about the Catholic Church. His son already accepted a baptismal date for the 18th of April, the week after Jorgue´s. 

I am so excited for General Conference tomorrow! It is going to be so great! 

I hope you have an amazing week! 

Love you!

Elder Marriott

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Time Speeds Up

Hey Mom!

On Saturday we have Moses´ baptism! We are also planning for the wedding of Veronica and Darich on Saturday night and Veronica´s baptism before church on Sunday morning. I am super excited! It has been super stressful these last couple weeks though. The wedding is costing a little bit more than we expected and Darich doesn´t have enough money right now. It was really funny, yesterday Elder Vasquez told us that whenever we want the time to slow down, it speeds up. It has definitely felt like that for us. Tomorrow is Saturday! I can´t believe it. I still don´t feel we are prepared enough for the wedding, but everything will turn out fine. Compared to Stasia´s and Lexi´s wedding, this one is tiny! But it still requires a lot of planning. I am starting to see why you were a little stressed out. Hahaha! :) 

Oh yeah...I have definitely seen a difference in my English speaking and writing skills. It doesn´t flow as much as it used to. It is great to be with Elder Vasquez and Elder Villalobos. I am definitely all Spanish now. :D A veces yo quiero escribirte en español. Estoy olvidando las palabras de ingles. Loco, va? ;) For example, sometimes I´ll find myself replacing "with" with "con" when I am speaking English with investigators or members who want to practice with me. Kind of embarrassing. 

There are twenty-one missions in the Philippines! That´s crazy. What exactly do they eat out there? Does anyone speak Spanish? 

That is great! It was so fun to study the Constitution. Sometimes we forget how much the Forefather´s did. They were definitely inspired by God as they wrote the Constitution. I still remember memorizing the Preamble. So powerful. 

Yeah, Madeline writes me every week still! Nicole has been writing me for the last few weeks too! Also, one of my friends from Beaver, Jessica Jones, wrote and told me she just got a mission call to the Spain Bercelona mission! She is leaving in August! I am really excited for her, she will do great things! Devin only writes me every once in a while, but he is doing well too!

I want to dedicate part of this letter to our last P-day, because it was probably the craziest day of my whole mission. 

First, on Sunday night during our planning session, Elder Vasquez, Elder Villalobos, and I decided that we would be back at the house at 2:30 so we could take a little nap before we started our studies and go out to work for the day. Our plan was to go buy food for the week, go to the office, eat, and leave by 2:00. Our great evil plan turned out to be in vain. ;)
On Monday we woke up at 6:30, got ready, and left by 8:00. After buying at WalMart (I just bought some cereal and milk :D) we went to the office. Since I didn´t have any mission money in the safe, I decided to pass by President´s house so he could sign a check before I went to the bank. Elder Loosle said he could drive me in the pickup. After going to President´s house and the temple to grab some mission calls, we started driving back to the office again. Since we weren't very familiar with Santa Tecla, where the the temple is, we took a wrong turn and got really lost. We drove for more than an hour trying to find a main road. At last, we found our way back. In the parking lot, since there wasn´t a lot of room to park, Elder Loosle decided to back up into a parking spot. I got out of the truck to help him. President was already at the office and his car was next to where we wanted to park. I began helping Elder Loosle back up, taking care that he didn´t hit President´s car. Since I was paying too close attention to his car, I failed to realize that he had backed up the truck too much, since there was a pole right behind him. I yelled, "Stop!" and waved my hands, but it was too late. He barely hit the pole with the back of the windshield (there was a CarryBoy on the pickup) and it all shattered and exploded. Shards sprayed everywhere, and I got a bunch of cuts on my hands. We just stared at each for a few seconds, almost too shocked to say anything. It was the funniest thing ever! After this we went to eat at Denny´s and headed back to the house. That night we played a prank on Elder Villalobos, the one the office Elders played on me when I was called to the office. I told you about that right? We changed the caller IDs on all of the cellphones so it appeared as if the office was calling.
 We didn´t get in trouble, but he was a little confused for a while about what was going on. 

I love my mission so much. No matter what happens, the time flies by so fast! El Salvador is wonderful, and I have been learning so much every day! 

I´m so thankful to have been born into our family. You and Papi have been amazing examples for me! I couldn´t have done it without you. There is no way I can repay you. :D

Have an amazing week! Eat a slice of chocolate cake for me!

Love,

Elder Marriott

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Brotherly Counsel :)

Hey Sister Marriott!

You are going through the exact language-struggle phase that I did. Let me tell you how it goes. 

First, you don´t understand very much at all at all. You can speak, but still it is a struggle, and you are always a little afraid of saying something stupid. You really, REALLY, want to know what everyone are saying, but it´s just not coming quickly enough. You pray, and pray, and pray for the gift of tongues. But it just doesn´t come for a while. Eventually, you begin to open up more and more, and as the weeks go by you start to finally understand people. At least most people. There are always those who just talk to fast, or slur their words together in a confusing blotch of sounds. I remember there was one member Elder Leatherow and I visited who I just could not understand. It was my third change in the mission and it was so, so hard. I didn´t even want to listen, to really tune in to what he was saying, because it was so mentally exhausting. But the more you really listen, the more you rely on yourself to answer your investigator and not your trainer, the faster you will learn the language. I knew that, but I found myself zoning out so much. I would let Elder Leatherow answer most of the questions. What a mistake. My counsel is to focus, no matter what, and what your investigator is saying. Eventually with Elder Leatherow I became frustrated with myself, really hard on myself. Sometimes I was depressed, either because I didn´t feel like I was obedient enough, or I just wasn´t good enough to understand the language quickly. Now I know this is one of Satan´s traps. Always be happy! Smile! God will be bless you with the gift of tongues, he is already, but it also takes a lot of effort on your part too. 

As I was reaching the end of my third change, I could almost understand everything. It was at that point that I realized that really I COULDN´T speak the language very well. Interesting how that works. But it´s true, I felt like I was really bad at speaking Spanish. But understanding helped a ton, and little by little I have learned to speak more fluently. Still I have problems sometimes (especially when speaking in the past tense) but I am not ever worried about the language, as I was for the first two or three changes of my mission. There is light at the end of the tunnel. :D

Anyways. I hope I don´t sound too preachy. And I´m sorry if I do. I just want to help you learn as quickly as possible. The more you understand and speak your mission language, the happier you will be. :D 

Keep it up! Always tune in to your investigators, even if you only understand three words in a sentence. You won´t regret the effort you put in now, even at the beginning of your mission. 

Count your blessings! Katie would pay $100 to be in the Philippines or El Salvador for a day, and we have the chance to serve for almost 18 months longer! 

We are so blessed to be out here! You are such a great sister missionary, I am always inspired as I read your weekly emails. 

Keep up the good work! 

Love, 

Elder Marriott

Friday, March 20, 2015

Apply the Principles

Hey Mom!

I´m excited to have two new nephews! Crazy how fast time passes. I will probably be an uncle to four nephews and nieces by the time I come home. I´m missing out. :D 

This week was super great! Many of our investigators have been progressing so much! Now we have seven baptismal dates! We set three in one week. Two of them are on the 28th, next Saturday. For a while now Bishop has been asking us to visit two jovenes, D and J. They have been assisting seminary consistently, but we could never find them when we passed by. This week we found both of them! J, who is seventeen, is so positive! We talked about the restoration of the Church and he knew all about prophets, the apostasy, and Joseph Smith. He even knew that there are seven dispensations! This year in seminary they have been studying the Book of Mormon, and I know that has built his testimony a lot. Yesterday we taught him the second time with his brother L, who is nineteen years old. They both said they wanted to be baptized on the 11th of April! I am really excited for J and hope that he will serve a mission. His testimony is already strong, and he has learned so much at seminary. That was a testimony builder for me too. I am so glad that I was able to graduate from seminary. What a blessing to have teachers who woke up at 4:30 to teach us! I know the program is inspired of God. 

D is so great too! He has been assisting ['asistir' means 'to attend' in Spanish; he keeps mistranslating things ;)] seminary on-and-off for a year now. He is really excited to learn more about the gospel, and is striving to come closer to God. He still hasn´t been to Church, but he is going to ask his parents if he can come this Sunday. I really hope he does! 

This week I decided to study Preach My Gospel more thoroughly. I began filling up the "Notes" sections on both sides of every page. I have been writing down my thoughts, feelings, and experiences I have had over the course of my mission so far. It is kind of like part of my study journal now. As I read and ponder every page, I have felt the Spirit testify of gospel truths and principles.. One week Jameson wrote me and told me he had a really difficult area in his mission where it was really hard to find new investigators. He said he studied chapter nine on "Finding" and applied the ideas found in the chapter. He began having a lot more success because the Lord saw and blessed him for his efforts to follow the counsel of His living prophets. I know Preach My Gospel is inspired of God. I have been trying to apply the principles more as a missionary. We are having a lot of success here in Los Lencas, but there are always more people we can help, more people we can find and teach! 

Thanks for the pictures of Hannah! She is so beautiful. ;) 

Have a great week!

Love,

Elder Marriott