Friday, February 27, 2015

First Jew

Hey Mom! 

Thanks! My birthday was awesome! Bishop made me dinner and an ice cream cake for dessert. So delicious! Elder Leatherow, my mission dad, gave me a tie too! It was perfect because the assistants passed through his area a few days before my birthday and he gave it to them. Elder Leatherow is so awesome! Sadly, I haven´t gotten your package yet. Hopefully on Monday! One of the elders in the mission just got a Halloween package, so it might take a while. ;) I guess it all depends. 

That is way cool that you all were able to go to the Capitol State Building! 

Poor Grandpa. He has definitely lived a good life and I am so thankful for his example for me. Grandma must be really stressed right now. I will definitely keep praying for them both. 

Katie and Lizzy are so good at reciting poems! That is awesome that Katie got to compete! I think it is a really good idea to memorize poems and scriptures. Katie told me that she has been memorizing all of the seminary scriptures for D&C. She would definitely take 1st place if they had a scripture mastery competition in Beaver.

What! Lexi got to see Tessa? I didn't even know you could do that! I guess this was just a small exception. Tessa is inspiring me a lot every week, she has already learned so much at the MTC! She is memorizing tons of words in What-Cha-Ma-Call-It. I´m really curious how she will like the culture in the Philippines. And I´m dying to hear her talk to me in her mission language! She sent me a few example sentences and it looks so strange to me. Spanish is so much easier to understand. :D Hiligaynon just doesn´t make sense to me!

I have been thinking a lot about the Atonement lately. On Tuesday I had an interview with President Vasquez and he told me that if we learn and truly understand the Atonement we will want to share the Gospel with other, naturally. This week I was reading in Alma about his conversion story. It was so powerful the change that came over him after he felt a little of the pain Jesus Christ felt as he atoned for our sins. He said that after he repented he felt as much joy as pain. It is so true what he said! Every time we repent there is a weight taken off our shoulders, and we feel so much peace and joy. It is just natural that we will want to share the gospel message with others! 

A couple weeks ago we began teaching our first Jew! He is literally a descendant of Judah. He can also read and talk Hebrew. It is really, really cool to be able to teach him, but at the same time kind of sad. 99% of the people I have taught here believe in God and Jesus Christ, but he only believes he was a prophet. I was so confused for a while. I asked him, ¨Wait, so you believe he was a great prophet of God but that everything he said about Him being the Son of God and the Savior of the world were lies?¨ In essence, he affirmed this. He said he believed in the Old Testament, just not the New Testament. Sooo...apparently he believes in Isaiah too? How does that make sense? Anyways. All we could do was testify of Jesus Christ and His purpose as Savior of the world. Over and over again. I am so thankful to be a member of the Church, and this time I have to dedicate myself even more in the Work of the Lord. There is nothing more I could ask for. 

You wouldn't believe how busy us Office Elders are right now! We have changes on Wednesday and it is crazy around here! There is so much we have to do before change meetings. On Tuesday I will give my first presentation for the new Elders. Pretty sure it will be in Spanish too. Pretty cool! In just a week I will be flying solo without Elder L. Crazy how fast time flies by. 

This week I have been trying really hard to be more grateful for all of the blessings I have. President Vasquez told us that we should try not to have up and down moments. In every moment, no matter what is happening, we should be happy and be thankful. He told me that ¨gratitud es felicidad.¨ That is so true! When we are thankful, we are happy. We can say the same about charity. When we serve and love others, we will be happy about ourselves. Like President Hinckley's dad said, ¨Forget yourself, and go to work!¨ That´s what every missionary should put in practice. ;) 

I love my mission, and I´m so thankful for your example for me! I couldn't have done it without you and Pop. :D

Love you!

Elder Marriott


 


Sunday, February 22, 2015

Baptisms!

Hey Mom!

Poor Grandpa. I hope that he gets better soon. Update me next week how his doctor´s visit goes. Everything will be fine, though. 

You went to the family history library! How was that? Lately I have been thinking a lot about family history work. There is always so much we can do to serve those beyond the vale! It is interesting, family history work is just as important as sharing the gospel with others. Isn't it awesome that we can help people receive the gospel even after they have passed on? Thanks to our wonderful God of Mercy it'
s possible! Too cool. I should've done more history work before my mission. I barely did anything! I think indexing 600 names this year is a worthy goal! ;D 

The baptism for L and T was so great on Saturday! The Spirit was so strong. I am so, so thankful that I could get to know them. Such a great family! We pass by their house every day to say hi and talk to them for a few minutes. I love how excited they are about the Church! They go to every activity during the week, and are always excited when we teach them. I can definitely see a difference in them since their baptism. There is a new light in their eyes. I hope and pray that they will stay strong in the Church and endure to the end.

Lately I have been thinking a lot, like Tessa, about the importance of studying the scriptures. This week I have been trying even hard to really ponder as I read the Book of Mormon every morning. It´s true that the only way we can know if the Book of Mormon is true is if we ponder on the message it contains, if we really apply the scriptures to our own lives. Only then will the Spirit witness of its truthfulness. As I really search search and ponder the scriptures, I have felt my testimony growing. One of my favorite scriptures is one in Nefi, where he says, Behold, my soul delighteth in the things of the Lord; and my heart pondereth continually upon the things which I have seen and heard (2 Nephi 4:16). So powerful! Nephi is such a great example. Love that guy. ;) 

This week I was reading a talk given by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland at the Provo MTC. He said that a lot of mission presidents have told him that many Elders in the mission field wonder why it is so hard to have baptisms, why it is so hard for people to understand and accept the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. I think this is a question every missionary has sometimes, it is definitely a question I have had. I always ask myself, Why will people not ask God if the Book of Mormon is true? Why will people not come to church? Why will people not keep their commitments when I know, I KNOW, they felt the Spirit in our lessons? Elder Holland said that he believed that missionary work is not easy because..."Salvation is not a cheap experience! Why should missionary work be easy for us when it was never, ever easy for Jesus Christ?...It seems to me that missionaries and mission leaders have to spend at least a few moments in Gethsemane. Missionaries and mission leaders have to take at least a step or two toward the summit of Calvary." We have to feel, at least a little bit, what Jesus Christ felt on the last day of his life. It is the only way we can at least understand partly what Christ went through for all of us. That talk hit me so hard. I am thankful that I can help Jesus Christ in his Work. There is nowhere in the world I would rather be than here in El Salvador, right now. :D

One last thing. For the last couple weeks we have been teaching a new investigator, whose name is J. He is a really, really smart man. He has a ton of knowledge of the Bible and always asks a lot of deep, profound questions. We told him, over and over, that all of the questions he asks have already been answered in the Book of Mormon. Finally he began reading it this week. His whole attitude has changed about the church. He told us that he knows that the Book of Mormon is true, that our church is different. He asked us how many members we have in the Church and then asked why we don´t have more? Why doesn't anyone know about the Book of Mormon? Everything I have read makes sense!

He told us that now he can see that, like we told him later, there is only one line between the Bible and the Book of Mormon. They support each other perfectly. That was another testimony-builder for me. I know the Book of Mormon is true! 

Guess what? We have another baptism tomorrow! It is for Elsa, a girl who has attended church since she was five years old. She´s nine now, and this week her dad gave us permission to baptize her! Really excited! 

Have an awesome week! 

Love you!
Elder Marriott

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Obedience Quest

Hey Mom!


Here in the office we don´t have an hour to write, we just have to write ten minutes here, ten minutes there to get our time in. Thanks to phone calls. :)


I´m really sorry. :P You have been doing so much! Make sure not to "run faster than ye are able" and everything should be fine. ;) Sometimes here on the mission I have moments like that, when I want to throw something at the wall. I find it always helps to ask for the Lord´s help. We cannot be truly happy without His divine succor. :D Good pleasure books always help too though! Remember the quote on the fridge that said "There is nothing that prayer and chocolate can´t handle.¨? It´s so true! Hahaha!


Quick selfie! I really need to take more pictures... :D I guess
this is just proof that I am still alive (in case you worried) ;) 
Devin wrote me too! He said he didn´t know that Tessa was going on a mission. Maybe I should update him on things like that. He is doing great though! He says that he is getting really fat though. I kind of expected that though. How could you not as a missionary in Nebraska? It´s hard enough here in El Salvador! :)


Guess what?! L and T are getting baptized! I am so excited! They are really, really excited. Elder L and Elder V found and taught them first, but I was still able to see a lot of their progress in three weeks! They dropped coffee, began reading the Book of Mormon daily, and go to church every Sunday and activities during the week! I am so thankful for the opportunity I had to get to know and share the gospel with them.


This week we have been focusing a lot on our mission area books and weekly and daily planning. One of the chapters in Preach my Gospel tells us exactly how we should do our daily and weekly planning and utilize our area books to better help our investigators receive the gospel of Jesus Christ. Since I have started working in the office I have begun to understand how much order there is in the Church! A mission is not just a large group of missionaries who preach the gospel. We have agendas, an hourly schedule, area books, daily and weekly planning, baptismal records, progress reports, records of everything we have taught each investigator, house contracts, daily reports to our district leaders, numbers every week in regards to how many lessons we taught, how many new investigators we have found, how many baptismal fechas we have, and a lot more! I have come to appreciate that God desires that we do His Work in His way, and if we do he will bless us even more. As a missionary it is crucial, for example, that we follow our daily schedule. We CANNOT wake up at 7:00every morning and expect God to bless us. This week I have been focusing a lot on obedience. I am trying to, as Jameson spoke about in his homecoming talk, make obedience my quest. There are many rules in the White Bible and specific mission rules, but I know that every one is inspired of God for our benefit. When we make obedience our quest God will see that we sincerely want to help him, that we are really trying our hardest to fulfill our purpose as missionaries in His vineyard. And if we are doing everything we can to be obedient, we will be happy and have a lot more success! :D


I know that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior. I know that through Him we can return to our Heavenly Father. Heavenly Father loves us more than we can imagine. He is always there for us. There is no better feeling than the Holy Ghost, which I have felt every day as I pray sincerely and search the scriptures. I love seeing change in others, especially that moment when an investigator has a change of heart and accepts everything you are teaching him or her. This morning I read Alma 5. Alma the Younger is preaching to the people of Zarahemla, and asks them if they have been spiritually born of God, if they have received his imagine in their countenances, if they have received this mighty change in their hearts. My favorite part is when he asks, "And if you have received this change in your hearts, and if ye have felt to sing the redeeming song of love, I would ask, do ye feel so now?." I think that is something everyone can ask themselves every day. When we keep the commandments of God, when live the gospel of Jesus Christ, we will always retain this change in our hearts and our faith will grow. :)


I am so, so thankful to be a missionary. I love it here! I love being an instrument in the hands of the Lord!


I love you!

Elder Marriott

Sunday, February 8, 2015

More Inspired Questions

Hey Mom!

How have your classes been going? That is a very humbling story you told them, I hope you get a good reaction. I read an article in the Liahona (I LOVE Liahonas, I have read all of them that we have in the office and at home!) about the importance of learning. Our education is so vital to our future. I wish kids would realize that, because later in their lives it will become much harder to find time to study. Like you told me before when I was in high school, ¨The best time to study and learn is NOW.¨ Very true! On Tuesday we office elders had the opportunity to teach a seminary class. I never thought teaching a group of kids could be so hard. We asked many questions, but more than anything they answered by staring blankly at us. Man, it´s not like it was morning seminary either! It was at six in the evening! :D To make a good teacher, we should follow the Spirit as we implement inspired scriptures, ask inspired questions, and teach with clarity, inviting our audience to change their lives to become more like Jesus Christ. There is a lot to think about! It says in Preach my Gospel that teaching requires a great amount of concentration. It´s true. ;) 

How are Grandma and Grandpa doing now? I wish Grandma would just relax and take it easy. She deserves it! She has done so much for the Hall family. There is nothing more we could ask from her. :D And as for Grandpa, I really, really hope he holds out until I get home.

Mystery books are so great! Remember before my mission I started to read random mystery books that I checked out from the library? One of my favorites was the one Elder Smith (remember him?) recommended. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christy. Such a good book! It was kind of like, actually very similar, to the play we watched in Beaver! Can´t remember what that one was called. Super good though. 

Hahaha! Ohh, I remember green smoothies. I remember I mentioned them to Elder L once and he was so grossed out. Green smoothies? And green soup? What is that? I have to admit, they are pretty good. I would even be fine with some green soup. They don´t eat things like that here. In Soyapango we ate smoothies all the time though. They sold them on the street. You could buy a bag of smoothie for a dollar! So cheap, and so delicious. It´s just not the same at the Marriott house without their delicious green smoothies! ;) 

Mom! Guess what? This week we were on the family history website (the first time I have done it so far in my mission) and I was able to trace a line all the way back to Adam and Eve! Not even kidding. It took a little bit of time, a lot of the lines stop after a while, but eventually I made it back to our first fathers! Coolest thing ever! I am definitely going to do more family history when I get back from my mission. When I have time! :D

I was thinking, I should probably tell you a little more about the investigators we are teaching! I was reading in the White Bible and it says specifically to tell your family about spiritual experiences you have had during the week. I need to do more of that! 

Right now, our most positive investigators are L and T! L is T´s mom. They are so nice! They have been coming to church and the activities we have every Thursday in our ward. I only met them two weeks ago, but I have grown to love them so much! It is really cool, because T is learning English at school right now and we have been able to help her out with some of her assignments. 

Our focus in the mission right now is improving our teaching abilities. We have been focusing most on inspired questions! The ideal way to teach is to ask an inspired question, listen with the Spirit, and ask another one to follow up on their response. After that, we should testify of a principle of the gospel based on their answers. As I teach in this way, as I really strive to ask inspired questions and really teach in accordance to the needs of our investigators, the Spirit is so much stronger. For example, last week I had the opportunity to teach R, a menos activo, and her two sons. I tried even harder to ask inspired questions and to really feel the love that Heavenly Father has for her and her family. The Spirit was so powerful! And I know she could feel that I really cared about her, that I was there to help her, not just to teach a lesson. People can feel the love you have for them, and you will teach better if you teach with God's love. Like I said before, there is nothing I love more about my mission than feeling the Spirit. ;) 

Well, I have to go!

I love you! 

Elder Marriott

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Where the Lord Wants

View out of Mission Office Window
 Hey Mom!

I´m glad you got my card! I was a little worried it wouldn´t get to you! No, you are definitely the greatest mom in the world! Don´t even worry about it. :D About my handwriting, when I began writing in my journal at the MTC, my handwriting was HORRIBLE. I honestly didn´t care though, I was tired and just wanted to sleep. Buuut, then I realized I really needed to improve my penmanship. It looks a lot better now. Of course I tried really hard in your card. If I have faults, it´s because I hold the pen really weird. (If you don´t remember) Hahaha! 

Yep, I love the office so far! We work about five hours every day in the office, and then four hours in our area. Our area is so awesome though! The bishop and members are so helpful and excited about missionary work. We´ll just be walking in the street and a member will give us a reference on the spot! That would have been a miracle, a miracle, in my first area, Paleca. I had to practically beg for references from members. ;) Porfa! 

It is awesome to learn about finances! I also get to answer phone calls and help Elders with any problems they have. My Spanish is indeed improving a lot! It is essencial that I understand Spanish and speak it fluently here in the office. In March I will be on my own (because Elder L is leaving). Elder L is a gringo but yes, Elder V is from Honduras! There are four of us gringos in the office. The other two are Elder L, who is charge of migrations, and Elder C, who is the General Secretary. Elder V is in charge of mission records (de Registros). 

Yes, I know this is where the Lord wants me to be! That is most important to remember. I know it is going to be really hard, but if I have sufficient faith I can do it! :) Either way, I will learn and progress a lot here in the office. And we will still have lots of baptisms too!

Ohhh, yes. I remember that too. I would pretend like I was a financial counselor and give her advice on how to save money. Hahaha! Bien chistoso. :D
Another angle from the office window


You know, I really hope you receive twice as many blessings now that both Tessa and I are out on missions! So awesome.

Yep, I will always write on Friday (at least for a very long time, and I will give you a heads-up when I leave the office!) It is different for us Office Elders. Even the assistants write on Monday! We are an exception. :D

Wow! Last week must have been crazy busy for you! I can´t believe Katie already has her license! She just needs to be a safe driver like her big brother so she doesn´t get a ticket anytime soon. :) Hahaha! Ohhh. Scouting. I was so frustrated with all of the paper-work I had to fill out. Remember? I told you when I was older I would have my own personal secretary to do that stuff for me. Ironic that I am a secretary now. Anyways. :D Yep, I remember that FHE we had! That was a long time ago. I definitely did not understand how Papi was able to know which hymn book we had chosen. ;) I kind of get it now! Oh man, pack meetings. That was a while ago. I remember having den meetings at Sister Campbell´s house. Do you remember that? They were always so fun. 

I hope you have an awesome week!! 

I love you! 

Elder Marriott

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Transfer to the Office

Hey Mom! 

This has been a crazy, crazy week! I have a long story to tell you today, since I hardly received any emails (obviously, since I usually writeon Monday). But everything has changed, and I´ll tell you why. ;D

For the last week or so Elder L and I were thinking a lot about the next change. We knew we would have changes (since we had been together three changes already) but we just weren´t exactly sure who would be leaving the area. I felt that I was leaving, and he did too. I even prayed about it on Monday to finish off our P-Day. I felt that I would leave, I just didn´t know exactly where. Would I serve in Oriente, where it is blazing hot? Or stay in the Capital? Would I have a Gringo companion, or finally a Latino? Anyways, we talked a lot about it, but we didn´t know for sure until Tuesday night. Zone leaders called Elder Leatherow to say that I was, in fact, leaving! Confirmation. :) 

It was kind of hard to sleep that night. Lots of thoughts were going through my head, and I was really excited! 

Finally, we left for changes on Wednesday morning. It was really hard to have my last real talk with Elder L. I have enjoyed my time with him so much. I have to admit, I shed some tears as we left the house for the last time. :) Elder L has taught me everything I know. He taught me to be diligent, to be obedient, to have faith that the Lord will bless us if we do our part, and a whole lot more! Really, he has been a really good friend to me. 

Finally, changes! 

For a very long time my name did not pop up on the screen with my companion. Zone after zone flew by, but nothing. Elder L got his companion, a Latino (his prayers were answered) and every time a new missionary popped up on the screen my heart skipped a beat. Yeah, changes are pretty exciting. Hahaha! :) Finally, my picture popped up! 
I was called to...the office! :) 

I have been called to serve as the Financial Secretary for the mission! My new companions are Elder Vasquez and my trainer, Elder Lucero. You can´t imagine how surprised I was to be called here. I did not think for a second I´d ever be an office elder! But here I am. :D 

I love my job so far! I have only had two days here in the office, but I have learned so much! 

Elder Vasquez and Elder Lucero are great! It is definitely a little strange being in a trio, but really rewarding too! 

It is definitely a huge responsibility I have now, but I know that I will do fine with the Lord´s help! More than anything I am a little nervous about my Spanish. Elders call us a lot about problems they have with money and my Spanish has to be really good to answer all of their questions and resolve their concerns. ;) A lot of the work I do here is on the computer. I have tons of emails to answer and I have to confirm if bills have been paid for electricity and water for every area in the mission. I also give permission for reimbursements, which requires good judgment. Well, there is a ton I do here. Elder Lucero told me it is a very stressful job. So far I haven´t felt a whole lot of stress, but I know I will once he leaves and I am working by myself with six weeks of experience. But I will keep learning a lot every day! Hopefully I will be ready. :) 

Sadly, I might not have as much time to write you every week. We barely have any time to do anything! They tell me we don´t even have P-days really, we just write on Friday. So just to keep that mind, my schedule to write from now on is Friday! 

I have no clue how long I will be Financial Secretary, it could be two changes or it could be six or more. I am new in the mission so I could have a lot of time here. We shall see! :D 

To tell you a little about my schedule, every day we try to leave for the office at 10, we work until 4 or 5, and then begin working in our area! The elders have told us that the ward is really, really good, and that they baptize every month, so I´m really excited!

Anyways, this was a crazy ¨transfer¨! But I´m really, really excited to work here! ;D 

I hope you have an awesome week! 

I love you!

Elder Marriott

Friday, January 23, 2015

New Year's Eve

Hola Madre!

Estoy fantástico, gracias! Y tu

Man! So soon, huh? How does it feel to have three of your kids away from home at the same time? Maybe you can take a few deep breaths at least. :) My camera is really nice! She should get one just like it. 

Yeah, that was a pretty quick read wasn´t it? [He read the Book of Mormon in 3 days before he left] It was definitely worth it though. If she reads it in two weeks it will be perfect! She should read it in her mission language though...whatever it is. I don´t even think I can pronounce it. Tell her to study it as much as she can though, she definitely, definitely won´t regret it! She will be scrambling to learn really quickly like I did when I got here. It is so sad to watch people talk and not have a clue what they are saying. You should know. ;) 

I´ll definitely help you a ton when I come home, don´t worry! What are returned missionaries for anyways? We can work a lot harder than the average 20 year old kid. Haha! :) This week Elder L and I went over to Bishop O´s house and helped him paint one of his rooms. We painted the walls green and the ceiling blue. It reminded me of old times. Bishop was a lot less picky about it than you are though. :D 

New Year´s Eve was crazy here! We visited five members who invited us to eat dinner, and all day the people were setting off firecrackers in the street. We got home at about 9:00 and planned as we listened to our next-door neighbor´s loud music. Everyone woke up at 12:00, it was so loud! The next morning there was mountains of newspaper on the streets. They have an interesting way of making firecrackers and fireworks here. Wish I had taken a picture of one. It´s like a cylinder of newspaper with a fuse at the end. Hahaha! :D

Highlights of the week? On Monday we watched Frozen as a zone! The zone leaders got special permisison from Presidente V to watch a Disney movie. It was pretty fun. It is a lot different in Spanish, but the songs were still really good! I didn´t understand everything, but since I had watched it a few times before my mission I always knew what the characters were saying. :) 

Tuesday I had intercambios with Elder B! It was a good day, we worked really hard and contacted lots of people! Elder B´s Spanish isn´t the greatest, but he is never afraid to open his mouth! He is a really friendly guy. :D 

This month we fasted as a district that every area can baptize in this change. Elder L and I also fasted for Familia M, that they would receive an answer that the Church is true and have the desire to be baptized. We are teaching them tonight, and I really hope the lesson goes well. We will ask questions to discover their doubts that they have. Every day I have been praying so hard for their baptism. We are also really hoping to baptize D M. Also, we have another ¨investigator,¨ R C, who was baptized but supposedly wasn´t confirmed. We will hopefully baptize him again this change. 

Also, yesterday we had the opportunity to give three blessings. The Spirit was so, so strong in each one of them. I really love giving blessings. I am thankful that I am worthy to have the Melchezidek Priesthood. I never feel the Spirit as powerfully as when I give blessings. 

It was a great week! I have been learning so much and my testimony is growing every day of the Savior and His Atonement. There is nothing I like more about my mission than testifying of gospel truths and feeling the Spirit during our lessons.

Looking forward to another great week! I can´t believe three are only two more weeks left until changes. ;D

Have a fantastic week! 

I love you! 

Elder Marriott

P.S. Thanks for the picture of Tessa! Made my day.... :)