Monday, December 15, 2014

22 & Testimony

22! Hahaha!
Hola Madre!

Wow! So many things have been happening lately! I am sooo excited to talk to you all on Christmas. I can not even believe that we only have a week and a half left! 

This week we had changes! Elder Leatherow and I are staying together! He is the new district leader too. I am so grateful to have another six weeks with him, he is such a good Elder! The only Elder who had changes in our district was Elder Flores. He took off for San Vicente where he will finish training another Elder. 

Something crazy happened this week. The other Elders in our district, Elders Brust, Rowley, and Flores, got robbed! Someone jumped over the back wall and came in through the window. He took $150 from Elder Brust as well as other electronics, including an iPod, Anyways, they are now living in our house. It is pretty hectic having four of us in one small house, but also really fun. :D 

A couple weeks ago Kim King asked me to share a short testimony about the Savior. She said they would read missionaries´ testimonies during the sacrament meeting right before Christmas. Here it is! 

I have always, as far as I can remember, had a testimony of the Savior. I was, as a lot of you know, raised by goodly parents who taught and lived the gospel of Jesus Christ. Since I was really young I had a knowledge of His birth and life here on the earth, and could feel the love He had for me. 

Every member of my family surely remembers Christmas Eve at our house, where as a tradition we read and acted out from the Bible the events leading up to the birth of Christ. I think we can only have the Christmas Spirit when we focus on Him and the perfect life he led. 

As a missionary, I now have the opportunity to learn and testify of Jesus Christ every day. Each time I do, I feel the Spirit witnessing the love and mercy He has for each one of us. And every time I feel the Spirit, my faith and love for Him grows. 

One of my favorite scriptures about Christ is Isaiah 9:6 which reads, For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulders. And his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.

I testify that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer. He gave His life for each one of us so we would have the opportunity to return to our loving Father in heaven once again. He loves us more than we can comprehend. I invite all of you this Christmas season to really ponder on the perfect life of Jesus Christ and try even harder to become more like Him. I know from experience that as we study, ponder, and pray about our Savior, our love for Him and those around us will grow.We will feel the Christmas spirit all year round as we live the restored gospel and share it with our family and friends. These things I testify of in the name of our Savior Jesus Christ, amen. 

I hope you like it! 

I am really, really excited to Skype you all for Christmas! If you want you can write down some specific questions you would like to ask me. Our time is limited. :D

Have an awesome week! Listen to lots of Christmas music for me! ;) 

I love you! 

Elder Marriott

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Birthday Cake

Hey Mom! 

I had a really good week! My favorite experience was our noche de hogar with Familia Munguia. Elder Leatherow and I bought cake mix and frosting and baked a cake! Aren´t you proud of me? It was Salomon´s (the dad´s) birthday on Tuesday so we decided to celebrate his birthday a day early. We taught a short lesson and ate steak, chicken, salsa, and tortillas for dinner then cake to top it off. It was so fun! 

That is Hermana Sandra right next to me. Our cocinera! 
Hector! A super cool joven in our ward. 
I love Familia Munguia so much. We have changes and if I stay in this area I want to see them baptized so badly! They have strong testimonies and enjoy church so much! But they have problems with coffee. Sandra, the Mom, stopped drinking coffee but Salomon is still working on it. It is a rule that investigators have to keep the Word of Wisdom for three week before they are baptized. Elder Leatherow and I fasted for them
. I know that it is just a matter of time before they are baptized. It would be so great to see it though! ;D 

Christmas is so close! I´m so excited! We have been singing Christmas songs and enjoying lots of Christmas trees and lights! Here, everyone celebrates Christmas on Christmas Eve! There is always lots and lots of ¨pan con pollo.¨ Then on Christmas everyone sleep until about four in the afternoon. On New Year´s Eve they repeat the whole process too. Elder Leatherow and I want to visit five or six families on Christmas, an hour with each member. It´s just what Elders do here, since no one wants to have lessons at their houses on Christmas Eve. ;D

I love my mission so much. This week I have been studying the attributes of Christ, and it has really helped me have the Christmas Spirit. I love our Savior so much. He loved us so much that he gave his life for us. The least we can do is dedicate our lives to Him as we live the gospel to the fullest. I am so thankful for Him and His example for us. :D

I literally have no more time, I wish I could write more!! 

Have a super awesome week! 

Love you!

Elder Marriott

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Tough Week

Hola Madre! 

We didn't have time to fix the lighting, but it´s still a picture, right? :D
One of our investigators has an iguana!! 
Sunday morning selfie. I just woke up in the morning. Hahahaha!

Everything is fine here. In fact, I always have a ton of extra money at the end of the month to spend on more cookies and pupusas. It is great! :D
Lately I have been thinking about Grandpa and how he is doing. I really hope he holds in until I get back. That is really good that he was able to receive a Priesthood blessing and feel the Spirit so strongly. That is such a good feeling. A few weeks ago we asked Bishop Vicente to give us blessings. Mine was really powerful. The Spirit is so strong. 
Can´t believe Tessa took out her endowments! I hope you all had a really amazing experience in the Temple. Is Tessa really excited about her mission? I can´t believe she is leaving in January! 
Elder Leatherow and I had a pretty tough week. Lately we have been planning really, really well, but most of our lessons have been falling through too. Right now we have a lot of hope for Familia Munguia, pues. They are really positive! They went to Church with us for the third time (meeting the church assistance [he can't speak English any more; "asistir" means "to attend" in Spanish ;) ] requirements for baptism) and they love it a lot! They just need to avoid drinking coffee and they will be ready for baptism. They are definitely addicted to coffee, but we gave them cafe de soya (which people can drink here) and have been praying for them a lot. On Fast Sunday next week we will fast for them also. 

Anyways, it was a pretty hard week, but we will definitely continue working hard and being obedient! I know that we will have more success in the future with the help of the Lord. We just need to prove to him that He can trust us no matter what. ;D
I love my mission so much though. This week I was able to lead most of our lessons. My Spanish has improved so much in three months! I truly believe that God has blessed me with the gift of tongues. Every day flies by so quickly, you wouldn´t believe! We already have changes next Wednesday! Most likely Elder Leatherow will leave and I will have a Latino companion. At least that is what I am expecting. We shall see. ;D
Hey! Could you send me a Skype username and password that I can use on Christmas? I don´t want to have any last-minute problems on Christmas when we get to use Skype. I am really excited! :D
I hope you have a super awesome week! 
Praying for you!
Love,
Elder Marriott

P.S. By the way, Elder Leatherow says Hi! ;D
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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Full, not just stuffed!

Hola mi mama preferida! :)

Every week I´m surprised how busy you all are! Hopefully (maybe) you can chill a little bit during Thanksgiving. At least for dinner. ;) 

For the activity the money just went to help out their wards. Some people just went by themselves, sold food, and collected the money for themselves. Super crazy, huh? [Referring to the stake activity he mentioned in last week's letter.]

I wrote down a ton of things to tell you about this week. Hopefully my mad typing skills will kick in so I can say everything I want to. :) 

First, I have to tell you about Monday. On Monday us five gringos went over to one of our ward families, Familia Portillo, for dinner. We each pitched in a little bit of money for a dinner of steak, chicken, and sausages. Yep. We stuffed ourselves. I ate all of my food, Elder Rowley´s, who couldn´t finish his, three tortillas, a bunch of pan, and salad. The crazy part was, Elder Leatherow and I had another dinner appointment at eight with a menos activo too. 

When we got there Rafael had prepared us pupusas. He put three on Elder Leatherow´s plate and four on mine. Elder Leatherow was so full that he could only eat two pupusas. When Rafael left the room, he quickly opened up his book bag and stuffed the pupusa inside. I was dying. He told me he could feel the pupusas at the bottom of his throat, he was that full. Hahaha! I finished my four, but I did not want to see another pupusa for the rest of my life. Of course, the next morning things had changed. But still, taking that last bite was the hardest thing I have ever done. It was, as I say, a struggle. ;) 

On Wednesday the other elders had a baptism, and called us up on the spot to sing with them for a musical number. We sang, ¨Mas Cerca Dios, de Ti¨ or ¨Nearer my God, to Thee¨ in English. It was a really cool experience. The Spirit is always so strong at baptisms. I was a little disappointed in our members though. Nobody wore shirts and ties or skirts! Nobody except the Bishop. Everyone came in shorts and tee-shirts. I feel like our ward should make baptisms more special for new converts. Make them feel welcome, like they are a new part of the ward family. 

Moving on, guess what? I finished El Libro de Mormon on Saturday! It felt so great. It took me nine and a half weeks. And it was really funny, because it was on the 22nd. :) Everytime I read the Book of Mormon my testimony of it is strengthened. When I asked Heavenly Father if it was true, the Spirit was so strong in my heart, like a burning furnace. I know it´s true. 

Lately I have been thinking a lot about obedience. I like to think of life as a test. To pass the test, we need to return to the presence of Heavenly Father. But He has provided all of the answers. They are found in the Book of Mormon and in modern revelation through his holy prophets. Isn't God so good to us? All we have to do now, is fill in the blanks, live the gospel, and we can return to our loving Father in Heaven. 

Also, I have been learning about faith and prayer. This week Elder Leatherow and I have been praying really hard that Family Munguia would go to church with us. They have already missed two weeks because of things that have popped up but we really, really wanted them to come with us this week. I have rarely prayed for something as sincerely as I prayed for them this week. Our prayers were answered. Not only did Family Munguia come, but another of our investigators, Davil Martinez, as well as sixteen menos activos! We had more people at the reunion sacramental than we have ever had. 142 people! Last week we had 115. 

This really taught me the importance of praying sincerely and with faith. If what we ask is right, and we pray with fe that we will receive, I know that God will provide. I have had so many other experiences with prayer since I have been on my mission. I will definitely make prayer a bigger part of my life when I return home. As well as reading the scriptures,. I love reading the scriptures now! I learn something new every day, and the Spirit is so strong as I read. 

I love my mission so much. Some people say the first six months of your mission are really, really hard and you will want to go home. Gracias a Dios, this is not my case. There is no other place I would rather be! 

Thanks so much for your letter, I love reading about everything that is going on back at home! Have an awesome week! I hope you get better soon! 

Happy Thanksgiving! 

Love,

Elder Marriott

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Daily Schedule Continued

Hola Mama!
Us Elders and Bishop Vicente and his family! :D

Wow! I´m always surprised how busy you all are back at home! There is so much going on! I love reading your letters every week! ;D

I guess I will finish what I started last week now. Hahaha!

We come home no later than 9:00 after proselitismo. Then we say a prayer and plan who we are going to visit the next day and call our district leader, Elder Flores, for our daily report.

Finally, we change and sit back for a cup of hot chocolate (so nice!) and talk for about half an hour before bed.

Anyways, there it is! You´re right, I am learning a lot about how to better manage my time better and just good life skills, like you said. ;)

Last week on Monday night we had a really good noche de hogar! We invited one of our investigator families, Familia Munguia, and Familia Flores, our ex-investigators who had not been making any progress. Only Familia Munguia could come though.

At the stake activity. ;D
Anyways, it was super great! One of the members, former Bishop Milo, provided an activity, a short General Conference clip, and a lesson. I felt the Spirit so strong. It was just a great example of a well planned and powerful noche de hogar. It feels so great to have noche de hogares with investigators. It really shows that the Church consists of members besides missionaries, and that we are all normal. Well, members more than missionaries. But I think you understand. ;D

On Tuesday we had divisions! I worked in our area with Elder Flores. He is a really, really good elder. It is really hard to find elders who are as focused on the Work as he is. He walks really fast, talks to everyone he can on the calle, and almost thirsts after lessons. He is a really good example for me. By the end of the day, though, I was already missing Elder Leatherow. Man, I wish you all knew him! He is the greatest trainer there ever was, and I hope I can work up to where he is now.

Wednesday, we had a really spiritual experience at our correlation meeting with our mission leader, Oscar Reyes. He asked us at the end of the meeting why we had come out on missions, if it was just because our parents wanted us to, or if it was out of love for the Lord. I just answered, ¨Nuestra voluntad,¨ and he started to cry. He told us to never stop believing in the things we are teaching as missionaries. He told us to always believe in the Book of Mormon, that Joseph Smith was a prophet, the gospel really has been restored to the earth.

I pledged again that night to stay true to what I have learned.

I know the Church is true, without any doubts. Jesus Christ atoned for our sins so that we can return to His presence again. Joseph Smith was a prophet. Through him, the Church was restored and the Book of Mormon translated. Thomas S. Monson is a prophet viviente of God. God loves us all more than we can imagine. I want to give back to Him as much I have received.

On Saturday we had a stake activity. But it was different than any activity I have been too. Pretty much all of the wards in the stake came, set up tables for themselves, and sold dinner and desserts for the members. Nothing was free or anything! Weird, huh? ;) As missionaries we had our own table. We provided missionary pamphlets, DVDs, pass-along cards, and a box for where people could place any references they had. The stuff on our table was free though. ;D It was fun!

I hope you have an awesome week!

Your favorite younger son,

Love,

Elder Marriott

Monday, November 10, 2014

My Schedule

Dear Madre,

Sounds like you all are doing great! I love reading your emails a ton! I´m sorry I barely have time to reply to what you say, just know I am reading them. ;D

Today I wanted to tell you a little bit about my schedule as a missionary, just so you could get an idea of my days out here.

In the morning Elder Leatherow and I wake up at 6:29 in the morning (with a minute to spare!) and say a morning companionship prayer. We just take turns praying, so sometimes I will pray in the morning, and sometimes he will. Trust me, since I have been here on a mission I have prayed hundreds of times in Spanish, it is going to be so weird to start praying in English when I get home. :D

Next, we workout. Lately I have just been doing pushups. My goal is to be able to do 200 in twenty minutes, something I will be working on for the duration of my mission no doubt. Hahaha! I also write in my journal if I have the time.

Breakfast is at 7:00. Usually Elder Leatherow and I eat cereal or oatmeal. Just depends on what we are craving on P-day when we buy, really.

After we eat breakfast it´s time to prepare for the day. We hop in the shower (which, like Erik told me before my mission, is cold) and change. A lot of the elders do not have running showers. They have to pour water from their sink into a bucket and dump it over their heads. Something to be thankful for. I am completely used to cold showers though, so it´s fine. In and Out. :D

Personal Study begins at 8:00. I have been studying the scriptures in English and Spanish, but I study in English during personal study. I also read Preach my Gospel, some of the Standard works, and pray for specific investigators for that day. I love personal study. I can always feel the Spirit so much during that hour. It is a great time to prepare spiritually for the day.

In companionship study at 9:00 Elder Leatherow and I tell each other what we learned during personal study, and plan for our investigators for the day. A lot of the time we prepare specific scriptures that will help our investigators progress.

At 10:00, because I am still in training, we have a program that is called 12-Weeks, which is for missionaries who are beginning their missions. We read from Preach my Gospel, discuss how we can help our investigators progress, have practices, watch the Districts, and read scriptures. It is a great time to learn and to progress as a missionary.

Idioma is at 11:00. I find that reading the Book of Mormon in Spanish helps me a lot. I am already in Helaman now. I can literally see the difference when I read El Libro de Mormon in the morning. I can speak Spanish so much better that day.

Finally, we have lunch. We go over to a member´s home, Hermana Sandra, and she makes us lunch. It only costs about $50 every month too. And the food is always good, though we do eat a lot of rice, beans, tortillas, and chicken. :D

Next is the fun part. Proselitismo! When I thought of proselitism before my mission, I thought of knocking on doors. And it is partly that. But really we just go to the specific investigators we have planned for, and try to talk to people on the street to have people to teach in the future. We never knock on doors.

The more lessons we have during the day, the happìer we are. It feels so great to have a 7-lesson day, for example. You feel so successful when you go to bed that night. Elder Leatherow and I have been working really, really hard to have lessons, but this week has been pretty hard. Most of the time nobody is home. We are always trying hard though, always doing our best. I know the Lord will bless us if we continue to work hard and put our faith in him.

My time is up though. :P Maybe I´ll finish this next week and tell you about some of the experiences we have been having!

I love my mission so much. I cannot imagine being anywhere else. I have learned so much, my testimony is growing every day, and I can definitely see the blessings I receive as I help in the Lord´s work.

Have an awesome week! Stay in there. ;)

I love you!

Elder Marriott

Monday, November 3, 2014

Super Chivo

Hola Madre!

Haha, I have been forgetting a bunch of English vocabulary. It´s a good thing in a way, but it´s just really weird. I forgot they used ¨transfers¨ and ¨splits.¨ It´s a lot different here. :D

I love the word ¨chivo.¨ And yes, I know it means goat, which is really interesting too. Hahaha! Almost like an insult then, right? :D

We had changes on Wednesday and something really surprising happened. No, Elder Leatherow and I are still companions, but we got another Gringo! 

Elder Flores and Elder Brust got a third companion, Elder Rowles. Elder Leatherow thinks this is the first time that there have been five Gringos in one ward here in Central America. It is so weird.

Anyways, so that is pretty exciting. I´m super glad that Elder Leatherow and I are staying together though. He is such an awesome companion, I´ll be sad in December when we get new companions. I am almost confident we will. 

Which reminds me, you should tell your Spanish class that your son Elder Marriott thinks they should learn Spanish. Tell them to put their heart, mind, might, and strength into learning the language. Because there aren´t many things cooler than knowing two languages really well. I wouldn´t say I am fluent yet, but I can understand nearly everything people are saying, which is so, so awesome. Tell them they will never regret their decision to learn. I love Spanish. I am improving so much every week. In El Libro De Mormon I am already halfway through Alma and I have no problems understanding any of it, though I don´t know every word. Especially within the Isaiah chapters, PHEW. :D 

This week was way awesome. On Sunday we had our first investigator family at church, Familia Mulguia. I know I told you a little bit about them in another email. They are a family of four and are super positive. The dad has already accepted a fecha del bautismo.
This was super weird. One day there were a bunch of birds
 flying together in a tunnel of wind. Way cool though.
The mom was taught by hermanas years ago, and apparently they were super good. She has been really happy to listen to us. It is important just to talk to everyone you can. Some people, or a lot of people, may not be ready for you, but they might be ready for future missionaries, in five or twenty-five years. 

Here, instead of Halloween they celebrate el Dia de los Muertos on November 2. Elder Leatherow had a really tough weekend, since so many people were out of their houses visiting families, friends, or the cemetery. On Saturday Elder Leatherow thinks we walked at least twelve miles. Familia Mulguia made up for it on Sunday though, it feels so good to have investigators at church!

There are a lot of nice views here. It´s just we are not supposed
 to take pictures when other people can see us. :D
I love my mission so much. I can´t imagine being anywhere else. Every day is so new and fresh. We are always finding new investigators to teach. 

Thanks so much for writing me a lot about home. I love your emails so much! 
Elder Leatherow taking a picture. Hahaha!
I hope you have an awesome week! Hang in there. :D

Your favorite younger son,

Elder Marriott