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 espaƱol. 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 

Monday, March 16, 2015

Another Great Week!

Hey Mom!

What a week! Lately, Elder Vi, Elder Va, and I have had a lot of time in the area. At least it feels like that, since the week before and after changes is so crazy in the office. This week I think I should tell you about some of the investigators we are teaching. :D

Last change we visited one of our members, D, and his girlfriend E almost every week. Our main focus was helping them make the decision to get married, since they had already lived together for more than eight months. Apparently they had set a date for their wedding - the 14th of December, 2017. In our last lesson with E three weeks ago D told us that he was willing to marry her without waiting, but that she was still hesitant. 

Kenneth's Baptism
When Elder Vi came, we visited them again and he was with a different woman. Her name is V. They had met each other a week ago and had already decided to be married! V has already taken all of the mission lessons and was reading the Book of Mormon. Her only problem was that she had never been to Church before. We set a baptismal date for her on the 28th, the same day as her wedding. Lately we have been teaching her the commandments to prepare her for baptism. She is really positive! She and D have been attending Church, she is reading the Book of Mormon, and she already feels that the Church is true and is excited to make this covenant with Heavenly Father. I am really excited for D and V. When I first met D with Elder L, he didn´t seem very happy at all to me, even a little angry. His countenance has changed so much. He is always smiling and laughing. I am so excited for them both. Though I don´t think they should marry each other so quickly after meeting, there isn´t much I can do. :D 

Sister V's Birthday
JP is another of our investigators. Elder L, Elder Va, and I contacted him on the street. We discussed with him the nature of God, mercy, and justice. He had a ton of questions for us and his knowledge of the Bible was profound. He gave us his address and said we could come over whenever we had time. Over the next couple weeks we taught him lesson one, the Restoration, and the Book of Mormon. Every time we met with him he had a lot of questions to ask us. We kept telling him that the answers to all of his questions were found in the Book of Mormon. He always replied, "I know, I know. I need to read it," but didn´t open it for a few weeks. He began reading the Book of Mormon and loved it! He couldn´t believe that he didn´t know that Jesus Christ came to the Americas. That is his favorite part of the Book of Mormon. He is already sharing the gospel with his family and friends. His first question he asks is, "Did you know that Christ came here to the Americas?" And then begins teaching about the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith. He is really, really positive. He has been attending Church, reading the Book of Mormon, and praying. He has strengthened my testimony of the Book of Mormon. We are so lucky to have a knowledge that Christ DID come here as a resurrected being. I feel like as members we sometimes take that for granted. Everyday we can learn something from this sacred book. 

I am so happy to be companions with Elder Vi and Elder Va. I have learned so much from them, and am excited for the time I will have with Elder Vis (probably at least six months). :D This is literally the best area of the mission. The members are so supportive, and Bishop is "pilas"! It reminds me of the Lincoln ward. We were so great...

Thanks for sending my license! President says we can have the car a lot more now. Hopefully I will be able to get my license and drive around to do errands and stuff. :D You wouldn't believe how crazy traffic is here. Crazy, crazy, crazy. And the only way you can stay safe is if you´re aggressive like all of the other drivers. ;)

Hope you have an awesome week! 

I love you!

Elder Marriott

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Busy Time at Transfer

Buenos dias, Madre!
Breakfast in the office

I am glad to hear that Grandpa is doing all right now! Thanks for the pictures, it really brought him to life again! It WAS a miracle! I am so grateful that everything is all right again! God does answer prayers! 

This week is Spring Fling! I can´t believe how fast time flies by! It is probably nice to have a break from everything for a week! 

That is so cool that Tessa was able to call you! I´m so excited to hear more stories about her and her mission! She is going to be such a good sister missionary in the field. 

Glad Brandon has a a great girlfriend! What´s even more awesome is that you ate some real meat. REEEEAL meat! Hahahaha! And some delicious salad on the side. :D 

Mom, you wouldn´t believe how busy this week has been for me. So, so crazy! I don´t think I have ever been so stressed in my life. I think I am finally taking a bite of your life. :D 

Changes, or transfers, were and Elder L finally left. Elder Vasquez and I have a new companion though, Elder Villalobos! He is from Mexico and is now being trained as the Secretario de Registros by Elder Vasquez. He is a really, really good elder! He is always really happy and excited, and his testimony is really strong. A very humble missionary! I have already learned a lot from him. It is great to have two Latino missionaries now, my Spanish will definitely improve a lot this change! It was really sad to see Elder L go, partly because he is now a really good friend, but also because if I had any questions or anything I need help with here in the office, he was always there to help. But now I´m by myself! :D These last two days have been so hard. I have been getting hundreds of phone calls from Elders who need reimbursements or are changing houses and need my help shutting old houses down and opening new ones. Plus, today we had the conference for zone leaders and I needed more money to reimburse them for gastos. We have barely been able to work in our area because of all of the things we have to do here in the office. But, on the bright side, in just a week it will be a whole lot better! It´s just that the week before and after transfers are really, really busy for us! Here in the office I am definitely learning to be more self-sufficient, more able to make decisions by myself. I am so thankful for this opportunity the Lord has given me to progress. I know this is where I need to be. 
With a boa constrictor!
At the temple

On Saturday we were able to attend the temple. It was so nice to just relax, learn, and feel the Spirit! I love the temple so much. Now, if an area has two or more baptisms in a month they can attend the temple. Thankfully, we already had two baptisms for the month of March (for Christopher and Elsa, who were confirmed on the first) and so we can go again! 

Tomorrow I am going to baptize Kenneth, an eight year-old in the ward. Because his dad does not live with them, he chose me to do the honors! I am really excited!

This week I read an article in the Liahona by Elder Holland that explained the mercy and justice of God. A lot of the time we think that God is more merciful than He is just, but it´s not true. If you think about it, there is no way we could be saved if God wasn´t just. Due to justice, if we do what´s right here on earth and keep the commandments, we will be saved. He is perfect. He always keeps his promises. If we do our part, He will do His. Elder Holland says that sometimes we think our consequences for sins are unfair. However, thanks to consequences to sin, we can learn and progress even after we make wrong decisions. God will only let challenges be put in our path to help us, not to degrade us or make us unhappy. If we do His will, we will always progress and be happy.

Sorry that I wasn´t able to write a whole lot this week either. Hopefully next week will be better! ;D 

Have an awesome week! 

I love you!

Elder Marriott

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