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!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Tangible Blessings

Querida Madre,

On Saturday we held Guillermo´s baptism. It was so amazing! Afterwards he asked me, "Was I all the way submerged in the water? I feel so clean!" He was so happy after his baptism, and especially after his confirmation on Sunday. I can see a change in him and am so grateful for the opportunity I had to teach him. We taught him again on Tuesday and said he was willing to come and teach with us.

This week has been really great! Elder Villalobos and I have been trying even harder to be exactly obedient, and have already seen miracles! Yesterday the zone leaders came down for Lucas's interview. It turned out great and they said he is ready for baptism! He will be baptized tomorrow at 7:00. Lucas's friend, will perform the baptismal ordinance! The Lord has been blessing us so much lately. We have been finding a lot of new people and families lately. 

Last week we found and began teaching the L family. They all came to the Mother´s Day activity on Friday, our baptism on Saturday, and all three hours of Church on Sunday! Earlier this week they accepted a baptismal date for the 13th of June, and yesterday the dad came to another ward activity. I have found that it is so important as missionaries that we are humble and obedient. If we choose to obey the rules of the mission, we have promises of so many extra blessings! In Preach My Gospel it says that if we are obedient we will increase in faith, knowledge, wisdom, testimony, protection, and freedom. Who would choose not to be obedient? The blessings are so tangible for us now! We have not only been having a lot of baptisms lately, but I have felt my relationship with God improving so much! In every personal study I can feel His presence and love. I would never sacrifice the Spirit for anything else, not even for ten billion dollars! :D 

Lately Elder Villalobos have been focusing even more on implementing the Book of Mormon in our lessons. I have seen over and over the progress our investigators make when they study the Book of Mormon each day. If we read the Book of Mormon, even a chapter, with open and humble hearts, our faith will grow and our questions will be answered. It is such a powerful book! It hurts my heart sometimes when investigators won´t accept the Book of Mormon as the Word of God. They always ask, "Well, where does it say that in the Bible?" It is sad that some people will not open their hearts to the divinity of the Book of Mormon. What does the Bible have that the Book of Mormon doesn't? It is a testimony of Jesus Christ. It contains the fullness of His gospel! What more could you ask for? All we have to do is open it, read, and pray. 

I am so thankful I was born into our family and have a testimony of the restored Church of Jesus Christ. What a blessing! 

Thanks for everything you do, Mom! Have an amazing week! 

I love you!

Elder Marriott

Monday, May 11, 2015

Drenched

Hey Mom! 

This week was really great! I have to tell you about Rodrigo´s baptism.

On Saturday we had scheduled Rodrigo´s baptism for 6 o´clock, but when we arrived at the chapel to fill up the font at 2:30 there wasn't any water! So we told Bishop and he ordered a "pipa," or a big water truck, to fill it up. When it came, we realized we didn´t have keys to the cistern. It was around that time that it started raining, hard. There we were, drenched as we knocked doors to find someone who had a hammer so we could break the lock (Bishop gave us permission because he didn´t have keys either). We finally found a man who had a hammer, but when we returned and I started banging on the lock, the hammer broke. Thankfully, the man who offered us the hammer came by with some other tools to help us, and we were able to break it. Right after we filled the baptismal font with water, Jorge called us and said it would be better to have the baptism on Sunday morning before church. So that´s what we did! Church starts at 8:00 for us, so we held the baptism at 7:00. It was a really spiritual experience! Jorge gave a really nice talk on baptism and the Holy Ghost, and we were able to watch part of the Restoration video. 

Yesterday we went to the temple! It was so amazing. There is no better feeling than what you get in the temple. The Spirit is so strong, and you feel so peaceful and relaxed. I was thinking, wouldn´t it be great to feel like that for eternity? 

Lately Elder Villalobos and I have been talking a lot about the Plan of Salvation. It is so crazy to think that we have billions and billions of years ahead of us, but that only these hundred years or less on Earth are what really matter. Every major choice we make, everyday, determines our salvation! It makes me so sad when less actives and investigators decide not to go to Church. If only they could realize what is at stake. If we go to Church every Sunday and stay true to our baptismal covenants we will be extremely happy, not only now but forever! We will live with our Father again. I can´t even imagine just how tiny our lives are compared to eternity. Our life is like a centimeter on a tape ruler that is a million miles long! We can´t afford to break the commandments. As we say, there isn´t time for that! :D 

Running Errands
Anyways, that´s my rant for the week! 
At the Temple


Rodrigo's Baptism

Tomorrow we will have Guillermo´s baptism! He had his interview this week and is really prepared. I am excited for him! 

I just don´t have the "gana" to write a super long email. But more importantly, I don´t have any more time. I will see you on Sunday! ;)

Have an amazing week, and I will see you soon!

I love you!

Elder Marriott

Monday, May 4, 2015

Direct Questions

Hey Mom!
President put this picture of me and Elder L in his house. :D


Yeah, thanks a ton! The cookies were still delicious! The office Elders had never eaten them before. :D

That is so great that Lizzy and Katie will perform in another play! I feel like they have been having so much fun in Beaver. They have a lot of good homeschool classes, not to mention a lot of friends! 

I am glad Papi had a full week at home! Sounds like you kept him busy! ;) Can´t believe he has already lost 12 pounds! Haha! Recently we taught a lesson on the Word of Wisdom. Elder Villalobos said that we should never consume anything that can harm our bodies. I was thinking, "What about sugar and fatty foods? Are those prohibited?" I guess it just depends on perspective. Honestly, I think a pan dulce every once in a while isn´t a bad thing, but maybe it depends on your perspective. This week Pap sent me a list of foods with high "nutrition per calorie." Spinach and Kale were high up there on the list. That explains a lot. :D 

Today I want to provide you with an update on the investigators we are teaching. Lately we have been having so much success in our area. Elder Villalobos and I are buscando, buscando, and buscando some more for new investigators. Right now we have six baptismal dates just for the month of May. 

I am going to tell you about the investigators who (hopefully) will be baptized in the next four weeks. :D

The first is Rodrigo. I think I mentioned him before, but he is the son of Jorgue. After his baptism, Jorgue asked us to begin teaching him. Jorgue has been sharing the gospel with everyone he knows: his mom, his family, his friends, and everyone else he talks to. Anyways, Rodrigo progressed really quickly. He has been coming to Church every Sunday and is always excited to learn more about the gospel. His baptism will be tomorrow at 6:00. The zone leaders, Elder Becker and Elder Wade, will be coming by today for his interview. I don´t have a doubt that he will pass. :D 

Just a few weeks ago we started teaching Guillermo. He is a reference of the Bishop. After dinner one Sunday at Bishop´s house, Guillermo asked us to share the Book of Mormon with him. We taught the Restoration and the Book of Mormon, and he was really interested to learn more. This week we taught him three days in a row! He has been studying the lesson pamphlets and the Book of Mormon like crazy! Yesterday we practiced the interview, and I feel he is very prepared for baptism. His baptismal date is the 9th of May, a week from tomorrow. 

Lastly, we have been teaching Lucas who is twenty years old! He is another member reference. For the last couple months he has been coming to Church and just a few weeks ago we started teaching him at a member´s house. He will hopefully be baptized on the 16th of May. :)

On Wednesday we had a zone conference! We talked about how important it was to be direct with our investigators, to ask direct questions and teach principles clearly and simply so they can understand. A lot of the time when an investigator doesn´t keep a commitment we take it too lightly. Elder Holland tells us that if an investigator tells us they haven´t read, we should be devastated! The Book of Mormon, he says, contains the Words of Life, the fullness of the gospel. If an investigator doesn´t read, he will not be able to progress and gain a testimony of his own. Really, our purpose is to invite our investigators to repent. This week I have been reading from the New Testament. When Jesus taught, he was really, really direct! He NEVER "beat around the bush." He asked inspired questions, and taught so directly and clearly that it was impossible to misunderstand. True representatives of Jesus Christ will learn to teach like Him. Elder Villalobos and I have been trying to be more direct with everyone. Elder Alonso told us that we should always try to set a baptismal date on the very first lesson. Our purpose, he said, is to baptize unto repentance. That is the only way. 

I hope you have an awesome week! I can´t wait to Skype you all next Sunday! :D

I love you!

Elder Marriott

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