Outside the capital city of Guatemala, there are a large number of animals who inhabit the roads almost more than the people do. I've seen a LOT of cows (they kind of just go strolling through the street a few times a day), goats, dogs, frogs, toads, GIANT ants and spiders, and many other delightful creatures that really make me appreciate the beauty of God's creation, in a non-sarcastic way (but really, that's not sarcasm!)
El Progreso is at about three and a half hours from the city, and I got to make the trip three times this week! On Tuesday, I came to the area with a group of five elders. They were my companions for the entire trip, and it felt very strange to be without another sister...but they were very protective of me, which was cute. On Friday, we went into the cap for a meeting of all the leaders in the mission. The meeting started at 8, so we got up at 3 and were in the bus by 4. One benefit was getting to see the Guatemalan sunrise, which oddly I've hardly seen in my whole mission. The sun rose over the rolling hills and mountains (volcanoes?) that constitute the landscape of Guate. It was pretty cool.
We're visiting an elderly gentleman named Virgilio, who lives adjacent to a small river that runs through part of the area. He was baptized into the Catholic church, then into an Evangelical church, and now that we're teaching him, he wants to be sure that it's really true before he goes through the whole baptism process again. He's funny, but he's one of the few people I've met in my mission that actually reads the pamphlets and has questions about them. Hermana Tapusoa was trying to remember his name, and when she couldn't, she referred to him as 'the man down by the river,' which made me think of the Chris Farley motivational speaker SNL sketch, and now we almost only refer to him as 'the man down by the river' (in a very reverent way).
Maybe some of you have heard about the mudslide in Santa Catarina Pinula. Many people I knew were killed, and I would appreciate it if you could please keep them in your prayers.
Conference was real good! I hope you all got the chance to see it. I think it was Elder Redlund who talked about how our callings really aren't about us, but rather what Heavenly Father wants to do through us for other people. As a misisonary, it's easy to get caught up in your own problems and trials, but the best way to ignore disappointment, fatigue, and homesickness is thinking about other people and their needs. That's what Christ did, and our life here on the earth is really jsut our time to try to become more like him. One of my favorite scriptures I read this week is in Alma:
14 And now behold, I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have y ereceived his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?
We should try to receive the image of Christ in our countenances through good works on behalf of others. That's my challenge to you this week, and I hope (paraphrasing President Moncito) we can have a resolve in our hearts to be a little better than we have in the past.
ps. here is a foto of what the area is like. that day it was raining a little bit, but normally, it's SUPER HOT.