Sunday, August 16, 2015

Rain and Pupusas

Hey Mom!

I´m really sorry, but I don´t have much time to write today (tonight). I have been really busy with financial stuff in the office. A church official from Guatemala called and asked that Elder K and I make a report of all of the "gastos" we have made in the mission. We have been looking for checks, filling out information, and making calls to verify our spending habits. If I had a wife I would tell her, "It was a rough day at the office!" Hahaha! :D 

Which reminds me, this is my last week in the office! Transfers are on Wednesday. I will finally be leaving! I am really excited to work all day, every day in a new area. :) It has been a short, yet stressful seven months. Every day has been amazing though, and I have learned so much! 

The rain has arrived! Every day it just pours out here in El Salvador. Maybe you don´t remember, but when I entered the mission field in September it was like this too. Elder Kearsley says that in Washington it does rain a lot, but it is nothing like here! Now I know why people say, "It rained cats and dogs"! Crazy! Sometimes we will be walking in the street all nice and dry and literally ten seconds later we are soaked! I love it! ;D I am glad I packed an umbrella! 

Okay, I will tell you a few of the things we see as we walk down the street! First, there are always lots and lots of people. People are always selling things. From cell phones and air fresheners to bananas and pan dulce, vendors will sell whatever they can put their hands on. Then there are a lot of buses. Sometimes it seems like there are more buses than cars and bikes. Honestly, I still don´t like riding them a whole lot either. When you´re unlucky they are so full that you feel like a domino. There is a person in front of you and a person behind, and if one of you falls, you all fall. One time I saw a bus with a man sitting on the windowsill because it was so full. Some people were hanging onto the bars by the door, half inside the bus and half outside. Besides buses and people, there are so many dogs! Dogs are so common here. They rule the streets, and every once you will see one in a large garbage bin, scrounging for food.

Hmm. What do we eat here? The first thing that comes to my mind are pupusas. There are "pupusarias" everywhere! They make pupusas of rice or corn, and generally they are at least filled with cheese or beans or both. My favorite kind is the ones filled with cheese and jalapeño. So, so delicious. They pour a delicious "salsa" over them, like a brothy tomato sauce. The best part, normally pupusas are three for a dollar. Every once in a while you will find expensive ones for $0.60, but that´s really rare. Imagine if we had pupusarias in the United States. I would probably go every day for lunch. :D 

It has been a wonderful week, and I have had lots of spiritual experiences. I love my mission so, so much! It is an experience I will never forget. The people are generally very nice and humble, and I look forward to meeting new people. The Lord has blessed me so much! 

Well, I need to go now! 

Te quiero! Que tengas una buena semana! 

Elder Marriott

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Companions

Hey Lizzy and Mom!
 
Okay, I´ll try to tell more stories and experiences this time! Sometimes it is so hard to think of things to say, I don´t know why!

This week I will tell you a few things about my companions. I´ll start with Elder Villalobos.

Elder Villalobos is probably the funniest, randomest (I don´t think that's a word, but oh well), and most humble companion I have ever had. When he first came to the office he was very quiet. He barely spoke and I always got the feeling that he was sad for at last half the time. After awhile he started opening up a lot. He started telling of jokes and smiling. He still does not laugh very much (I love it when he does!) but a lot of the time he will only have a funny grin on his face.

He speaks English too, just not really fluently. Sometimes on the street we will speak English, but he gets tired of speaking it after an hour or two.

One thing I love about him is that he really, really dislikes silence. The other day we had a temple activity at the temple, and afterwards President and his wife invited us to pizza. After a long day, all of us were really tired and no one said anything as we munched our pizza. Elder Villalobos looked like he was in pain. He looked up at said, "Why doesn´t anyone say anything?! Someone sing a song, or tell a joke, or something!" He always has something to say, and sometimes talks a little too much in our lessons. He says it is hard NOT to talk. :D

It´s hilarious, almost everyday in the office he will be working and suddenly start singing a song or shout out one of our names. Often, for example, he says, "Elder Marrrrriott" four times in a row. One time I ran errands for a couple hours and he told me, "Elder Marriott, I miss your smile. Don´t leave the office ever again!" He then went on to say that the rest of the "office elders" were all way too "callados" (quiet) and boring.

He is a really, really powerful missionary. His lessons are great, and he is always happy and excited. I have learned so much from his example! I´m going to miss him when I leave the office in less than two weeks!

Elder Kearsley is also a really great elder. He is calm and doesn´t talk very much. He loves playing football and eating. He learns very quickly and is smart. He will make a great financial secretary!

Yesterday, like I said before, we held another temple activity. More than 1,800 people (new investigators, less-actives, and recent converts) came to learn more about the restoration of the gospel. For most of the time I was an usher at the front door with Elder Villalobos. For about an hour I collected "tickets" and passed out the refreshments. It's amazing just how much people will do for cookies and juice.:D

Well, I´m just about out of time. I hope I was a little more "chatty" this time. I´ll try to do better :)

I hope you have a wonderful week!

I love you all!!

Elder Marriott

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Charity and Love

Dear Mom,

I´m really glad you wrote on Wednesday because today I am really busy with the Consejo de Lideres meeting (leader council?) at President´s house. Today I am going to teach Elder Kearsley how to fill up the zone leader money bags. Elder Kearsley has just about learned everything he needs to know before I leave the office. I have to say, I am excited for a new area! Here we only have about four or five hours to work, but in a normal area I will work for nine hours every day, from 12:00 to 9:00. I am going to push myself to the limits. Can you believe next week I will have a year in the mission? It´s truly sad how fast time goes by! :)

This week I learned a lot about charity and love. The other day I was reading in Alma 19, about Ammon, Lamoni, and his father Lamoni who was the king of the Lamanites. It says that King Lamoni, after his little skirmish with Ammon, desired that the sons of Mosiah come to visit him (that the missionaries come and teach him), because he felt the love that Ammon had for his son Lamoni. It is extremely important that we increase our love for everyone we see. As missionaries, if we don´t teach with love, our investigators will not feel the love God has for them as strongly. My companion Elder Villalobos is an example for me. He loves and wants to help everyone, including me.  

It´s kind of funny. I have never before been so concerned when the people tell me "I am Catholic," or "I do not attend any Church." as I am now. Before my mission I would have thought, "Oh, how interesting. That´s cool," but now I feel a little sad. Sad because  you can´t stay home and watch TV every Sunday and expect to live with God again. It´s not possible! Only those who accept the ordinances of the restored gospel and keep the commandments will have this sacred opportunity. It´s even sadder that a lot of people completely understand this and yet choose not to repent, not to wake up a little earlier on Sunday morning. Elder Villalobos and I calculated that we only need to be in Church for approximately 1.8% of the week. Just a tiny portion of time to dedicate to our Heavenly Father. Of course our whole Sunday should be dedicated to God, but only three hours are spent at Church. 

We are extremely blessed to live at a time when the gospel has been restored. I have never asked myself, "Should I really be here?" or "Does God really love me?" because I already know and have felt the answers to both of these questions. All we have to do now is endure, "seguir adelante," no matter what happens. ;)

Sorry, I am already out of time! 

Have a wonderful week! 

I love you!! 

Tu hijo menor, 

Elder Marriott

Friday, July 24, 2015

Listen

Hey Mom! 

I am glad you have been making a lot of visits this summer!I

Grandka is such an example for us. She is so spiritually strong! I am pretty sure God will answer every one of her sincere prayers. Hopefully everything turns out all right with Pap! 

Aww, noo! Hannah fell off a horse? That must hurt so, so badly. I will pray that she gets better quickly! 

I am glad Bradley will be going on a mission soon! Tell me where he gets called as soon as possible afterwards. Hopefully he will go to a Spanish-speaking mission too! 

This week I pondered a lot about how I can improve my teaching skills. I read chapter 10 in Preach My Gospel, which is about specific ways to make a lesson powerful and uplifting. One section really called my attention, the section, "Escuchar" or Listen. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland teaches us that we should never think about what we want to say next, but rather listen sincerely to our investigators as they comment and answer questions. He says that listening is just as, if not more, important than actually teaching.


Sometimes in a lesson I find myself thinking, "Hmm, what is a good question to ask?" or "How can I change the direction of the lesson to fit the needs of this investigator?" when I should be paying attention and completely putting my trust in the Spirit and the impressions that I receive. Elder Holland proclaimed that there will always, always be something we can teach if we earnestly seek the Spirit and His guidance. As the scripture says, God will give us in the very hour the portion of His word that we need. Yesterday I put Elder Holland´s advice to practice. I tried even harder to understand my investigator´s points of view, my investigator´s needs. I could feel the Spirit so much stronger as I completely taught according to the Lord´s will, and not my own. He is the Teacher, and I am just his mouthpiece in my area.


This week I have been also thinking a lot about God´s plan for us, and that each one of us are literally spirit brothers and sisters. Here in El Salvador, we call each other "Hermano" o "Hermana," Brother or Sister. Isn´t that so fitting? We are all sons and daughters of God, who loves us all and wants to help us return to Him. The more I ponder on this, the more love I feel for everyone I see. Only through the restored gospel of Jesus Christ can I help my brothers and sisters return to our Heavenly Father in heaven. There is no other way. I am so happy to be an instrument in my Father´s hands! I have such a wonderful responsibility and duty!


I´m sorry, I am almost out of time!


Have a wonderful week!


Te quiero también! Hasta que hablemos de nuevo! :)

Elder Marriott

Friday, July 17, 2015

Just Like Job

Hey Mom!

This week was fantastic!

On Tuesday we had a multi-zona! President and the assistants taught us about the importance of setting baptismal dates and helping all our investigators go to Church on Sunday. Lately Elder Villalobos, Elder Kearsley, and I have really been focusing on invitations: to read the Book of Mormon and the lesson pamphlets, to pray to ask God if the Church is true, and to attend Church on Sunday.

Something I have learned on the mission is that we should always, always be direct when I invite others to repent. You cannot tell someone, "I invite you to maybe, if you have enough time and want to know if our message is true, to read the pamphlet sometime and ask if it´s true. If you want to, of course." Rather, you have to look an investigator in the eyes and ask, "Will you read the pamphlet tonight and pray to know if it is true?" There is power in a direct invitation.

Jesus Christ is a perfect example. He did not let an opportunity pass by when he could have taught a gospel principle and invited someone, or a group of people, to repent. I love reading his parables and pondering on the lessons they teach.

Yesterday we had a very spiritual lesson with the Marinero Family. Elder Villalobos shared his feelings about his family. He told us that as he grew up he always asked his dad questions like "Why don´t I have a phone?" or "Why don´t I have a car?" His dad would always answer, "We don´t have enough money, son. I´m sorry." He started to cry as he told us that his dad even collected garbage to provide for the needs of his family. He bore a powerful testimony that the gospel really does bless families. There was always food on his table, even if it was only tortillas and chile. His family was united and happy, even though they never had very much money.

I remembered the scripture that says, Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.


We read about Job, who was blessed so much by the Lord. With time, everything was taken from him. His children downed, and all his possessions were burned by fire. But he did not cease to thank God for the blessings he had received. In essence he said, "God gave me everything I had, and now he took it away. I will give thanks to Him forever." 

I´m so thankful to be a missionary. It is wonderful to be guided by the Spirit as I teach with courageous men who have dedicated their lives in the service of God. I will not teach the gospel just for two years, but for all my life and afterwards.

I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to be raised in a wonderfully faithful family. I´m so blessed, just like Job.

I hope you have an amazing week!!

I love you!

Elder Marriott

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

New Companion

Hey Mom! 
Todo bien! Wow, it has been stormy out there too? Here it has been pouring like crazy, and there is also a lot of thunder and lightning. Winter started really late this year, but we are technically almost in the middle of it! Yesterday was hilarious. It started pouring before we left the house to work, and I had accidentally left my beloved umbrella in Dennis´s house. Anyways, I had to bring a tiny, cheap umbrella we had found earlier. It barely covered the width of my shoulders. Hahaha! Whatever works.

Interesting. It is definitely true that sometimes we don´t understand who we really are and what our purpose is. President Vasquez told me there are two reasons people do not want to repent. They either don´t understand the doctrine of the gospel or they don´t want to repent. You are so right, it is extremely important that we read the scriptures everyday. As Alma 37 says, by small and simple things are great things brought to pass. 

On Wednesday we had another transfers meeting, and I am excited to say that I have new companion! His name is Elder K! He is the new financial secretary. I will be leaving the office on the 19th of August, and also be left with another eleven months out in the field. Voy a echar fuego! :) 

Elder K is great! I only saw him once, and that was at WalMart on my and Elder L's last P-Day together. He was just finishing up his training. He is from Oregon and is 20 years old. His trainer was Elder Soza, who is my office grandpa. He has already learned a ton in two days, and teaches really well too! He will hopefully be a better financial secretary than I was. ;) 

This week I learned a lot about hope. I find that a lot of time we focus too much on the past. We remember things we did, things we could have done better, and friends we had. After changes I felt a little sad. All the returning missionaries came and slept at our house for the last time. Elder Hazelgren, Elder Flores (my best Costa Rican friend ever), Elder Leatherow, and Elder Caldwell, not to mention a lot of other good friends, went home. I kept remembering all of the good times I had with them, and reminding myself that I would probably not be seeing most of them ever again. So sad! I realized that I should always, always look forward to the future with hope and patience. Elder Villalobos has taught me that the best day of your life is today, and should always be today. Not yesterday, not tomorrow, but today! We just have to keep smiling, whatever happens! It´s definitely a hard lesson to learn, and I´m still in the process. I can´t imagine how sad I will be to leave the mission in just over a year! :D

Yesterday we had a really great lesson with our new recent convert. We decided to each read out loud our favorite scripture. She read to us Doctrine and Covenants 81:5. It says:

 Wherefore, be faithful; stand in the office which I have appointed unto you; succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees.
 
She then bore a powerful testimony and shared her feelings about mission work. She wants to serve a mission in a year, after she turns 19. A returned missionary from our ward said she told him that sometimes she reads the scriptures really late at night, after finishing her schoolwork. That is dedication! I am so happy to have had the opportunity to help her receive the blessings of the gospel, and I hope she can serve a mission soon! 

Well, I´m almost out of time! 

I hope you have a wonderful week! 

Love you! 

Tu hijo menor favorito,

Elder Marriott
 

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Another Really Successful Week

The Office

Denny's on P-day
Hey Mom!

This has been another really great week!

On Wednesday we will have another change meeting (or in your case, transfer meeting)! :) We have all been working really, really hard in getting everything ready. My good friend Elder L is leaving the office at last. He has been here almost nine months! When I came to the office he was the youngest, with only two changes. Now, more than five months later, he´s leaving and I´ll be taking his place with the most time here.

One of the wonderful blessings of my mission is that I get to meet so many great elders who have dedicated their lives to the Lord. It is sad to see them leave the mission. My mission "dad" is going home on Wednesday! If you didn´t know, all the missionaries who are leaving come to our house on their last night, so I will get to talk to him for a while and ask him more questions about his mission. He is such a great guy!

We have had another really successful week in our area too! Lately we have been focusing a lot on finding new investigators. A lot of our investigators have not been progressing, and so we decided to put more emphasis on finding. I was telling Katie in the email I sent her that as a missionary you literally have to talk to everyone! A missionary who comes to the mission shy and fearful needs to change. He has to quickly make the decision to open his mouth, at every opportunity. That´s what we´ve been doing this week. We stop every single person on the street and share a short message with them, inviting them to listen to our message in their homes. Some say yes, and some say no, but the important part is that we keep searching and inviting, over and over again!


Also, Elder Villalobos and I have discussed with each other a lot about how we can make our lessons more powerful. There are three things we should to in every lesson: testify, invite, and promise blessings. Every investigator we teach needs to repent to receive the promises blessings of the Lord, and they can only receive them if they fulfill their commitments. Some of the commitments are, as you know, assist church on Sunday, read the Book of Mormon, and pray to know if our message is true. I have come to realize that one of our goals is that our investigators teach themselves everything we cannot teach them. If they go to church every Sunday, for example, they can come to know that the Church is true and that it is presided by divine authority. An investigator cannot be converted if he does not feel the Spirit witnessing of the truth.

I have been trying really hard to improve my relationship with Heavenly Father. I know that He is there and loves me and I want to feel His presence even more in my life. Through prayer He has spoken to me over and over again, and will help me throughout my entire life.

I love being a missionary, and I hope I can help hundreds and thousands of people "come to Christ, and be perfected in Him."

Have an amazing week!

Te amo!!

Elder Marriott