Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.
The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Psalms 46:10-11

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Merry Christmas!! 12/26/11

This email is mostly for all you faithful readers out there because I TALKED TO MY FAMILY YESTERDAY!!!  INCLUDING NICOLE!!! (for those of you that don't know, Andrew's sister is also serving a mission in Guatemala)

So here was my week. The biggest event is Walter.  He's really progressing really well.  He's reading and praying with his family.  He's asking good questions, he's learning and applying what he learns, it's spectacular!  Plus, He came to church yesterday!!!!  That was probably the best present I could have gotten for Christmas!  It was so legit to see him sitting there with his family and everything all his kids dressed up and all that good stuff!  One cool thing, last lesson we explained the baptismal covenant and the sacrament and then at church he wouldn't take the sacrament nor let any of his kids do it haha HE'S LEARNING AND APPLYING!!! LOVE IT!  We also found a guy named Geronimo, he was supposed to come to church on Sunday but he was sick so he couldn't but he's already reading and stuff and we've only taught him once so he's very legit!  We're teaching him again this week and he's committed to go to church the next week, he's really, really interested!  Other exciting news, our house flooded this week based on something stupid that we did but we got it all cleaned up and good stuff like that, all around not a big deal :) 

This week was also Christmas parties.  We had the mission Christmas conference where Elder Ronfeldt was the elf.  I also got to see my whole group. 

We also had a zone party which was a lot of fun, we went to a Chinese buffet... as dad pointed out, A Chinese buffet, on Christmas, in Guatemala... a bit strange I know haha.  We also got to play some sports which was a ton of fun as always :) 

On Christmas we had Christmas Breakfast (french toast, eggs, and bacon!!!)  So all deliciousness there!  Then we went to church which was just a small program put on by the bishopric where we sang a lot of songs and listened to them talk about the Christmas season :)  THEN THE PHONE CALL!!!  GOOD STUFF THERE!!!  And that was Christmas, passed without too much hoopla (except for the hours of fireworks starting at midnight on Christmas Eve haha.  )  But yeah, everything is good. We're having a good time and getting excited to get back to work after a pretty chill week.   

LOVE YOU ALL!! Sorry this is so short, enjoy seeing Nicole soon :) (Nicole will be home on January 5,2012)
-Elder Westenskow

Monday, December 19, 2011

Quetzaltenango Temple Dedication 12/12/11

Hey there!

First off, I think this email might be a bit short, we had a kinda rough week but no worries :)  Life is good.  First, I'm glad to hear that the Christmas party went well! And mom, sweet job on Battle of the Bands, I'm sure it was rad!  And the Haycock party sounds fun too!  I'm feeling good and healthy and fine inside, no worries on health.   

This week was alright.  We did divisions and I went with Elder W's trainer for a day which was fun, he's a fun guy and we had a good day :)  We've also been developing this week a really good plan for the area.  President in January is going to give us a pair of senior, working missionaries just to work with less actives to increase attendance!  It'll be really rad I think, and it'll help a lot!  The two main events this week were a lesson with W and the temple dedication.  W is really the only investigator who is going anywhere, everyone else seemed really positive at first and is now avoiding us haha.  So yeah.  But W is really really progressing.  He's committed to go to church with us.  He's really trying to develop faith and understand all of the things we teach.  I'm not sure I've ever felt the spirit as strong in a lesson, it was amazing.  He's just such a legit guy, really trying his hardest to develop the faith he's looking for and follow Christ, I love this guy!

The biggest event was the temple dedication.  We got to attend all 3 sessions which was awesome!  Elder Anderson and President Uchtdorf came and talked in all 3 and they were just really amazing!  It was such a blessing to be able to go!  I gave a really good rundown in the letter that I sent this week so I won't spoil too much here but it was just amazing!  Really a blessing to be able to attend all 3 and feel the spirit and listen to the prayer that many times.  Really just very grateful for that opportunity.  I'm really just so glad to be here, we've had a rough couple weeks but were staying strong and keeping faith that things will work out :)  Love you guys!
Have a great week, the church is true!
-Elder Westenskow

I Had My First Baptism!! 12/5/11

Hey there!  This email may be a bit disorganized but... well... you'll all be okay for it :) 

So, Dad, I'm glad you liked the talk.  The method isn't perfect but it works well enough :)  And I'm glad you're still enjoying the letters (silly names and all).  I LOVED the story about the cardboard cutout in the shower.  And speaking of the rat, has anyone seen it for a while? haha.  And about getting along with my comp, it's going great!  There's always the little ticks about anyone that'll bug you if you spend 24/7 with them but overall everything is going great! He's a great elder, a hard worker, and I'm really enjoying my time and not looking forward to when it ends.  We don't really share any interests, in fact, were pretty much complete opposites but it leads to some fun conversations haha. 

I'll get to the teaching people later haha.  The weather here, COLD!  We went to church yesterday and I'm not joking when I say it was Idaho winter semester weather.  There was frost on the ground and we were DYING from the cold haha.  My clothes and shoes are holding up really well!  Everything is serving perfectly.  Also I'm glad to know I'm still the rock band master, in 19 months I'll probably have to take some time to get back into the groove but it'll be good :)  And I was really glad to hear about moms health :)  

I loved hearing about Dads family history work too, sounds like a lot of fun and a really useful work to be doing! 

This week was a little rough, we didn't get as much done as we wanted to but we still worked hard, trying to contact all the temple references.  We had a super good lesson with W this week, he's really progressing.  From last week saying he wouldn't tell us that he would go to church he's now telling us that he'll do everything possible to get to church next week haha so he's looking good :)   and Y are becoming less positive but we're going to try to meet them a few more times before we give up :)  

Also, we moved this week.  After dividing the area we lived really far from where we work so we found a new house this week and moved in.  It's a really nice house and I'll get pictures next week :)  On Saturday we had a really special event.  K, the investigator that we inherited from the sisters, was married and baptized.  I HAD MY FIRST BAPTISM!  I attended one of the sisters but it was amazing to see someone I've gotten to know and love get into the water, my first baptism!!!!!  Good stuff :)  Next week we'll for sure have a good week, we've got some good plans to find new people and get teaching more and more, should be getting some January baptisms as well :) 

-Elder Westenskow

Monday, November 28, 2011

Word of the Day - Legit! 11/28/11

Hey there everyone!
So first, about my comp.  Hes legit, we get along really well!  That's pretty much it, we get along really well were working really hard and having a good time.  Also, you asked how I'm feeling.  I was sick for about 3 weeks but I'm all better now.  Things are good.  About letters, they're tougher in this area because there's no Correo in our area but I'm just going to be sending them in bulk now, 2 or 3 at a time.  Christmas letter is in the mail though :)  About calls, I think you guys will have to call me, I can maybe call you and then just have y'all call me back. Maybe we can get set at the same time and just conference in Nicole so it'll cost a ton but maybe we can have all the family together.  Just a thought. 

About the package, I got both of them from y'all and grandma and everything was perfect.  The soap survived and the PB and everything!  Very much welcomed.  Keep em coming ;)  Am I still printing reading and outlining? Yes.  Dad asked about the house, its pretty big not HUGE but a good size, I  don't really know if the pictures were deceiving lol.  About the temple, we've been through a few times and were going to watch a broadcast for the dedication. About W, LEGIT!  English speaking I'm guessing.  NICE.  I'll throw a letter for him one of these days.  About Christmas package, is it all Christmas or is there other stuff? Meaning, do I need to wait til Christmas to open the box or is stuff wrapped?  About the ipod and the book dad LEGIT!  That actually made me even more stoked to read the book!  And the wedding video... I got really excited when I saw it and read the letter after we had already watched it (on mute, thanks for the music haha). 

Now, investigators.  We have a few legit ones.  G and Y were temple references and they're pretty legit.  They are pretty big in their church but they are willing to see if ours is true :)  So yay.  A guy named M, he turned out to be really legit, he went to the temple 3 times. We're going to put a fecha with him this week.  W is another temple reference, his wife is menos activo and he's super interested, just wants to make sure its true.  And we have a baptism this Saturday!  So good stuff happening.  We went to the temple twice this week with the ward.  On Friday, over 100 people came from our ward...about 10 members.  LEGIT:  So there's work to be done!  We found out that 126,000 people went to the temple and on top of all of this our attendance yesterday was 334!  Things are going well!.  Also, at the temple we met an anti Mormon that was taking people to the temple.... good luck buddy.  Also, a lady gave us pumpkin pie one day!  It was so gooooood! 

We also had a Guatemalan Thanksgiving yesterday with chicken, rice etc.  All darn good stuff!  So they did something for the American missionaries, I'm running really low on time this week, sorry..... But the pictures are a sunset, the temple, and our Christmas tree (we have a pine tree in our back yard and we chopped off a branch).
I think that's all, LOVE YOU ALL HAVE A GREAT WEEK!
-Elder Westenskow

This Area is Insane!! 11/21/11

This area is INSANE!!! In such a good way it's not even funny.  We found 22 news this week and have 9 possible fechas... we've been here a week.  This place  is insane and the temple doesn't hurt either!  Speaking of the temple, we went!  On Tuesday our ward got a bus and we all went with our friends and investigators and holy goodness this place is ridiculous!  So flipping nice, so beautiful.  I'm not going to lie to you when I say that on the inside its the most beautiful temple I've ever seen, maybe not on the outside but inside YES.  We've been spending a lot of our time contacting references from the temple (when people fill out those little cards at the end) and we don't get as many as some other areas but ours have been pretty positive.  I also saw my first every baptismal service, it wasn't ours but one of the sisters, we went for support.  Funny story, we were walking down the road one day and this lady literally flagged us down and asked us to move some furniture for her.  So we did and she gave us Pepsi and then we tried to teach her and she wouldn't let us, she just wanted the two big white boys help!  haha  Oh right, we also went to the temple on Friday in a ward bus and we just invited like crazy, there were over 25 investigators in this bus, it was amazing!  We're all coming to this temple as a family, I've already decided it! 

The thing with this area is that stuff just happens.  We work really really hard and things still fall and people are still sketchy and unreliable but then things just fall out of the sky for us and they ROCK.  Also, we had a stake conference yesterday with Elders Uchtdorf and Holland it was pretty rad!  They talked a lot about home and family so not a whole lot to apply right now but yeah, cool to hear Elder Holland try to speak Spanish lol. 

Questions.  My comp is great, he was in the office for 7 months so he's just stoked to be out in the field again and were just killing each other.  We're working our butts off every day and every day we come in dead and satisfied with the work we've done.  His name is Elder R and hes from Rosemond California.  Also mom, no worries on the microbus, it was totally safe, there were guard rails and stuff :)  I'm also sitting next to a very nice box that I happen to have already opened and YEAHHHHHHHHHHHHH GOOD STUFF IN THAT BOX! 

As for the tree thing, new family tradition.  Every year, no matter what, kids spouses notwithstanding, we three kids will come to mom and dads house and set up the tree like we've always done.  That's how it will be, end of story.  Mom played Rock Band!  What songs did y'all do?  Also, there's a modifier to make the track speeds better so no worries there ;)  Also, who sings now? Dad?  And mom, hows the health going?  Still improving? 

Oh well, I think that's all, love you all!
-Elder Westenskow

New Area - Esperanza!! 11/14/11

Hey Fam!
So, in the letter, the time that I was sick was indeed from the oranges haha.  I would answer the questions about my investigators, but well.... yeah haha.  We never did get to go sing at A's church, if we did go we were going to do Nearer My God to Thee in Spanish and Joseph Smith's first prayer in English lol  But he never came  to church again so we never went to his again lol.  Also, Vegas sounds awesome!  Looking at pictures of things going on at home and hearing stuff like that makes me realize I'm gong to have major culture shock when I get back to the states haha.  The shows sound legit though!  I've always wanted to go to the Beatles one.  Also, dad, I addressed the letters fun because it was fun, not because of delirium, I'll probably keep doing it, something different every week just to keep it interesting ;) 
Okay, so on to my new area.  My area is HUGE!!!  There were 7 sisters sharing it but now we're just sharing it with 2 sisters so a lot of work to do.  The ward is HUGE  and church yesterday felt just like being back in the states haha.  It was crazy!  People here have callings, we have a bishop (he's an ex-mission president) a ward mission leader an attendance of about 300.... it's amazing.  And the people love us.  They haven't seen Elders in over a year so they're pretty stoked to have us back!  We've been here like 4 days and we've received a TON of references.  People are just throwing their friends at us haha.  Plus, having the temple 10 minutes away doesn't hurt.  We weren't able to go this last week but we should be going twice this week so yay!  We're really just trying hard to work with the members and they're working hard with us!  They are just so stoked about everything!  I love it, it's refreshing after fighting to get anything out of the Cunén members for 10 weeks we come here and they just love us!  It's a change but a good one.  I still miss Cunén a lot and the people, I really fell in love with that place but I'll just have to take you all back to visit one day! 
About my comp, Elder R is from Rosemond, California.  He JUST got done being AP and he's really stoked to be out of the office. He's a really hard worker which is GOOD!  We're really killing ourselves just getting as much done as possible!  This area is on fire.  Our goal is 18 baptisms in 3 months and with the temple, the other sisters leaving, and the members it's definitely possible here.  We're still not focusing on numbers more than people but it's just a thing we're doing :) 
A really cool experience I had this week, we went to visit a less active with a member and the member asked the less active to offer the prayer, it was really amazing.  He was just talking to his Father in Heaven.  He said something like "Father, we've lost the path, we've lost the way.  But we haven't lost the hope that we can come back.  Please bless us with a way to come back to the church that we know is true"  That was the gist of it and it was really really cool!  I LOVE THIS PLACE!!  I'm still adjusting to living in a city but it's all good, we still walk a ton, maybe more than in Cunén, just because our area is so big haha.  But yeah, I love it here and I'm stoked!  GOING TO SEE THE TEMPLE THIS WEEK!!!! AHHHHHHH!!!!!!
Love you all, have a great week!
-Elder Westenskow

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Big Changes! - 11/8/11

So no email yesterday because elections were Sunday and we didn't know if travel would be safe Monday morning so that's the reason for that :)  Also, I got changes haha.  Yep, they closed Cunén in the middle of the change and they're splitting up Elder B and I.  One of our APs got changed and so I'm going with the old AP in Xela and we're still not exactly sure where Elder B is going but that's the exciting things that happened this week haha.  We got called yesterday morning and they were like, "you both have changes, pack everything be in Quiche tomorrow for Pday and then come to Xela on Wednesday"  So I'm out of Cunén, kinda sucked, I really didn't want to go, I wasn't expecting it at all either.  But saying goodbye to everyone was pretty hard, I didn't enjoy that part.  But that's the way that life is, you don't always get what you want.  Plus, I'm going to be in Xela super close to the temple and I can't think of a better time to be where I'm going :)
A request first if I may, Dad, while you're loading up the iPod, if you still have all the hymns on your itunes, please throw them on there for good measure :)  Mom, I'm glad you liked your gift, let me know when it all comes together and happens and what not, I want to hear how it works :)  The primary program sounds AWESOME!  I can't promise I'll be there next year like Nicole but if you're still doing it in fall of 2013 I'll sit front row!  Meagan, well done on the decorations, they look great!  (Now write me! haha)  Also, about your birthday party, the last time everyone slid on their socks I got busted because it was too loud, what gives!  In response to your question, the microbus was moving super duper fast and the wind was blowing so that's the face haha.   Also, I echo dad's words, mom is AWESOME!  And my head is fine, I don't have pictures because they wouldn't have shown up, I didn't even know it was cracked til a couple kids were like "hay sangre en su cabello" ahah
But as for my week, it was pretty good haha.  A little slow but good.  We had a birthday celebration for mom and  Elder B's mom at the only restaurant in Cunén, it was really good!  We had an... interesting meeting with Alvaro.  I explained more fully in the letter but suffice to say he told us that he was already converted, that the Book of Mormon wasn't true and we should get rid of it and that he didn't want to meet with us again so.... yeah lol... he's dropped.  Also, Anna was dropped because she too told us she didn't want to meet with us.  We actually had a really good cita with Rodriguez family though, we read 3 Nephi 11 with them and talked about it and when we asked if they were baptized they said they had all been baptized as babies but Andres was like "That whole thing doesn't really make sense to me, why do they baptize babies, it seems pointless if baptism is so important and a decision" so we asked them to pray if they should be baptized in our church.  We had another cita with them that fell which sucks especially now since we're gone... just when they were starting to turn positive.  We also met a really cool guy contacting, he wasn't interested in the church but we ended up walking with him for about an hour and just chatting, we went down this road looking for houses and there weren't a ton... hardly any and we didn't really realize how far we'd gone with him but it was a good talk :)  We also spent some time in Uspantan with less actives but yeah.  Sunday was election day and we had to stay in the house all day which was really really boring haha.  But we made due watching church movies haha.  I already explained about yesterday so yeah that's the week :) 
Hope everyone has a good week and I love you all!
-Elder Westenskow

Happy Birthday Mom! - 10/31/11

The garden!  I will admit I got a little excited looking at that pile of veggies, I'm stoked to eat some one day! (probably from a different harvest but you get the idea!)  And I'm also stoked to mow the lawn, I actually kinda liked doing it haha.  And that party with all the people sounded legit!  How's Chase doing in his assignment as Andrew 2.0? haha  I realize it's a tall order to fill but I believe in him!  ALSO, THAT COSTUME WAS FREAKING LEGIT!!!  Some Guatemalans standing behind me started cracking up when I popped it open.  But yeah, funny stuff there! 
As for the question about the oranges and why they're bad, they're out of season apparently and when that happens they're bad.  I don't really know, all I know is I'm staying away from oranges for awhile haha.  Everyone in the branch knows what happened so they've been offering us oranges for the past week haha. 
As for my week, it was pretty good!  Our investigators are all... well, our investigators.  We didn't get to meet with Alvaro this week and we were on divisions with the zonies for part of the week so I haven't visited with Andrés but apparently they had a pretty good visit with him.  As for Anna, she came to church yesterday so that's something!   We'll see what happens there though, I don't really know how to read her.  We had a super legit zone meeting this week, our zonie did this thing about Ether 12:27 and helping us recognize our weaknesses so that we could make them strengths but not in a "you have bad things about you!" kinda way, it was way freaking cool.  But yeah, on divisions we met twice with this super legit member/menos activo/investigator family and they were just awesome!  Also, I got a legit package from Grandma Healey!  Full of American food! YEAH!  We had a super cool branch activity on Friday and a ton of people came! We played volleyball (Elder B and I made a net out of rope) basketball and soccer and all the women made food to sell, it was super legit.  We just need to work on getting as many people to church as we do to these activities haha.  And on Sunday I talked in church, well actually we both did.  Our branch president forgot to assign talks so he called us Saturday at 9pm lol.  It went pretty well.  So overall, a normal week, nothing too exciting.  EXCEPT FOR THAT IT'S MOM'S BIRTHDAY!!! YEAH HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO THE BEST MOM IN THE WORLD!!! I was actually really excited that it fell on a Monday so I could write you ON your birthday, have fun celebrating, the decorations look SICK!  LOVE YOU ALL!!!!!
-Elder Westenskow

October 24, 2011

This week, not much happened, I'm not sure why.  We taught some good lessons, had a really good one with Familia Rodriguez, they're really cool, they just need to get married.  We went in knowing what we were going to teach and really followed the spirit which was cool.   We were just going to try to commit them to come to church but by the end of the lesson they committed to read 3 Nephi 11 and have family prayer!  So we'll see if they do it, they didn't show up to church but neither did the members that were supposed to bring them so it's all good.  We got some new people in the zone which is always fun, really legit guys.  One guy is from The Colony in Texas and he knows exactly where Flower Mound is so random.  But yeah, also exciting, there was a guy who was robbing graves so they whipped him in the town square, that's how the law works. 
Mom, you'll be so proud of me, I sewed this week, I had to repair a button on a pair of pants so the sewing kit came in handy!  We also went to Xela this week for a meeting with our group, it was way good to see everyone again, I love my group, they're really good guys.  I hope to be comps with some of them at some point. Also, dad, I did LOVE Hollands talk, he's always a boss though, before he got up the elders were putting bets on what he would talk on, it was pretty funny.  About the temple, we have to bring 10 investigators to the open house to be able to go through, which didn't seem that hard until we found out that the mission isn't actually paying for transportation which majorly screws us over because it's a hundred quetz trip to Xela and it'll be nearly impossible for the members to pull that kind of money together, let alone investigators.  But we'll see, I hope we can go but.... yeah, I hope we can go.  And we'll be able to watch the dedication in Quiche but we can't go. 
Also, Mom, I would love for y'all to have the experience of riding in a microbus but we'll have to see haha, they're pretty crazy.  Also, I realized that my letters are starting to get shorter, sorry about that, I don't know if I'm writing less or if just less is happening but I'll try to work on it haha.  Love you all!!!  Hope you have a great week!
-Elder Westenskow

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Don't Eat the Oranges!

Hey there y'all!  How's it going?
So this week was kinda weird.     

Also, dad, as far as tender mercies, Pepsi is not one.  Sodas that are EASY and cheap to find here are Pepsi, Orange Crush, Grapette, Creme Soda, 7up, Coke, and a few others.  But I've become a Pepsi guy, the Sodermans would be proud.  I'm also going to take  a little time to explain better what exactly the Noche De Hermanamiento is.  It's just an activity the ward does, we didn't organize it haha (but I can't promise it happens when we're not there)  It's just a little thing where a member shared a fireside-esque thing and then we play a game (which we're always in charge of) and eat some food, it's really simple but it gets the branch together. 
So let's start with the good.  We met with Alvaro on Tuesday and actually had a really good lesson.  We exchanged questions about churches and we learned a bit about his church.  We taught about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon AGAIN.  But he actually seemed kinda positive about it this time!  :)  He promised he would pray about it and admitted that it was possible, that everything we were teaching was possible!  So that's progress.  We also met with Andrés and Anna on Tuesday.  We lost our fecha with Andrés :(  He un-set his baptismal date.  And we found out he's not married.  So he went from being our most positive to our least positive. 
The reason we did all of this work on one day is because we thought we were going to be out of our area from Wednesday to Saturday (because, ya know, they told us we would.  We were supposed to go to Xela)  But we didn't.  Apparently a hurricane rolled in and made traveling super dangerous.  On Wednesday we received seven different calls telling us what to do, 3 different times they told us we weren't allowed to go work and then finally it ended up being a work day.  So with crappy weather and no appointments we just.... did service haha. That's what we do. 
On Thursday we went to visit a less active lady and she gave us oranges.... BAD IDEA TO EAT THEM!!!!!!  We spent Friday and Saturday in the house, Friday because I couldn't stay out of the bathroom for more than 10 minutes and Saturday because Elder B couldn't get out of bed his stomach hurt so bad.  So that was two days of doing nothing haha  which is always weird. 
Saturday though we had our Noche (it was with a family from Nebaj so they can't come but on Saturdays) and the attendance kinda made us mad.  40 people, 6 investigators came INCLUDING Alvaro haha.  That's SOOOOO much better than church.  Then none of them showed up to church, we had a totally normal day yesterday haha  We did have 9 less actives come to church so I guess we're getting SOME work done in the great North haha
So now things, first off, how have I never known about the Vernal temple? That thing is so rad!  The week I get home, Nicole, Meagan, and I are road tripping out to Vernal to go to that.  Don't care what they say :)  Also, at some point I want to go up to Cardston Alberta temple so whoever wants to go to Canada is welcome!  Also, we got a reference from a guy in another area, a guy named William.  He lives about 2 hours away but every time we talk to him on the phone he's super stoked to talk with us so we're probably going to make the trek out there this week haha... something to do :) 
Ensign articles you should look up: From the February 2005 issue "7 Lessons on Sharing the Gospel" by Elder Clayton M Christensen.  Super good stuff about helping members to share the gospel!  Also DAD LOOK UP IN THE AUGUST 1999 "Paul: An Untiring Witness of Christ" with your love and appreciation for New Testament apostles I think you'll like it a lot :) 
Well, I think that's all, love you all!
-Elder Westenskow

Good Week!

SO!  We had a good week, things are looking up in Cunén
First news, we are no longer teaching Andrés but we are teaching the family Rodriguez!  We stopped by to visit with him and asked if the family could be with us and they all came!  Even the wife who doesn't like us!  We wanted to do something not controversial so we read The Family: A Proclamation to the World with them and they were really interested in Temples so we said that they could go to the open house when it happened to see it!  We didn't get to read the whole proclamation with them but we left if with them and they said they'd read it together!  We had another appointment with them on Saturday but they called to cancel it.  You may think this is a bad sign but remember I said they CALLED to cancel it!  So that means that they remembered about it and realized they couldn't do it and actually cared enough to call us! yay.

So this week we were out of our area a lot, we had a conference in Xela on Tuesday and PDay was Monday so we didn't get to our area until Wednesday afternoon because we had zone meeting on Wednesday morning
But on Saturday we had a good day!  A girl that works for one of our branch members and lives with them as well finally let us teach her.  She goes to family home evening with them and does all that stuff.  She studies on Sundays but she finished yesterday.  We have a cita with her tomorrow though so we're going to get a firm commitment to come to church.  A bunch of stuff in the afternoon fell so we had some extra time and we were really really tired from service we did so we decided to go get our shoes shined.  You'll never guess who showed up.... ALVARO!  He just strolled up and started talking to us, obviously we talked to him about church and tried to commit him to come the next day.  His response "I'll go to yours if you come to mine" seemed only fair.  So we got the permission and we went to an evangelical church yesterday. But  first, he came to sacrament meeting.  I think he had a good experience, sacrament went really long and so we told him he could leave when it was over but he decided to stay for sunday school haha.  He even bore his "testimony" (and he didn't mention false prophets (which he several times has accused us of being) and didn't speak too much apostasy!) and he joined in the Sunday School lesson, he said his favorite part was the hymns. 
Then we went to his church.That was one of the strangest/scariest experiences of my life. Pure, straight, apostasy.  Not good stuff. Lots of nasty prayers, weird singing, asking for money, just not a good feeling all around. If you want to know what it feels like to feel the opposite of the spirit, go to an evangelical church. It was a good experience (well, not a good experience but something I can now say that I've done) but I wouldn't jump to do it again.                                                                                
We also had a dinner appointment!  With our branch president!  We thought he didn't really like us haha.  But they invited us over for dinner. We don't really know if it was just because we invited them but either way it was cool, you just DON'T get dinner appointments in CunénHaha. The work in our area is hard, as we would say la obra cuesta mucho, but I love Cunén, Nicole was absolutely right.  I didn't really like it when I first got there, but I love the people, I love the beautiful area, it's all great (except the work) but yeah.  We're supporting the branch, serving the members, trying to work with less actives, as well  as teaching some people.  We may not do as much as other areas but we try and we love it, I'm definitely going to be sad to leave.
Have a great week family! Love you!
-Elder Westenskow

Friday, October 7, 2011

Conference Was SOOOO Amazing!

Hey there family!  So I have notes for this week's email so it might seem disorganized because I just kinda wrote them as they came to me haha.  First, we had a cool activity this week.  Every Tuesday we have a Noche De Hermanamiento with our ward which roughly translates to brotherhood night.  We ended up doing it this week and it was a lot of fun to do.  Elder B gave a really cool thing on trials and difficulties that we have in our life and why we have them and how we can learn from them.  It was really cool, we played a game after that which was fun :)  Question that nobody will answer me on:  I wrote Meagan a letter my last week in the CCM and I don't know if she didn't get it or what, but in all of the wedding pictures I only saw Stevie once.  How's he doing?  Was he able to attend most of the festivities?  Just wondering how he's doing.

We did have something exciting!  We have a buddy named Mario and he wants to meet with us! He seems pretty positive!  I'm excited to see what happens with him, he's a really cool guy. We're still doing lots of service which is how we spend most of our time.  You'll have to forgive me, I took zero pictures this week haha. 

I'm also teaching myself piano haha.  We have a little electronic keyboard in the church and I can almost kinda sight read the right hand on most of the hymns, it's kinda coming back to me.  My goal is to be able to play well enough for people to sing by the time I leave Cunén (probably 3 months).

As far as Alvaro goes, I think we'll probably end up dropping him.  He's out of town working right now but we're going to try to work with him again but he's not too eager to meet with us.  Things look kinda grim but I'm trying not to lose hope. 

Questions about the bus rides.  I think the buses themselves are more civilized than Brad's. We don't have goats hanging out the window (although it's not unusual to see a basket of chickens on the roof haha)  but the drivers can be pretty crazy, it's definitely an experience.  Just google image Guatemala Micro bus and you should be able to find something.  Oh, dad, due to the reference you made, I'll assume you found the Fourth Missionary talk? How did you like it?
Oh, and mom was talking about some meeting she was in where they were trying to get the members involved.  PLEASE work with the missionaries.  I know it can be tough where everyone is a Mormon but do what you can please.  The work goes forward a million and a half times smoother with the help of the members, it's really the only way to get it done, contacting pretty much does squat haha.

Finally, how are things with Andrés you ask.  Alright.  We haven't been able to meet with him in a little over a week. We have an appointment with him on Wednesday so we'll see then if things are still looking good for baptism
It was so good.  A weird experience I had, I looked at my watch as Elder Oaks opened the Sunday Afternoon session and was like "Holy cow we're already 15 minutes in!" Then I realized that I'm 15 minutes in to the conference session of my mission, I hope that metaphor made sense.  But yeah, conference was SO AMAZING!! Holy cow how prayers are answered.  I've really been trying to think lately about how to recognize and follow the Holy Ghost and that was pretty much the topic of the entire first session haha.  Oh man was it good!  Love it!  Yeah, everything was soooooo good, the fried chicken story was amazing!  Love conference, Love you all Love the gospel!

 -Elder Westenskow

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Answers to Your Burning Questions-Part 2!

So lets see... more questions
1. Hot water, food prep etc:  We have hot water, a stove, a lady in our ward does our laundry and we have a bathroom shower.  It's actually all pretty nice (by Guatemalan standards haha)  we're pretty hooked up.
2. Travel.  So our zone is based in Quiché which is 3 hours from Xela.  Cunén is another 2 hours from Quiché so we're 5 bus hours from Xela.
3. We don't contact a whole ton just because it doesn't do a lot of good haha.
4. The branch really likes us, we have a good relationship with all of them it's just tough to get them excited about missionary work
5. We dropped Eliseo and his family, we might go visit them later but they're VERY evangelical lol
6. Uspantan is an hour by bus from Cunén, not a lot of people have cars, everyone takes micro buses
7. There's 2 members of my CCM group in my zone.
8. We see our zone once a week.
9. Glad that mom is feeling better :)

This week, this week was kinda rough, EVERY single appointment we had for the entire week fell through, every single one.  We didn't meet with any of our investigators :(  We also didn't find anyone new even though we tried really hard.  We met a lot with members and menos activos just trying to do what we can. There's not a lot of work to do in Cunén, the people there just aren't very interested in the church.  It kinda blows but we're trying and I'm going to be here til like January so I better pick it up haha figure out how to work in this area, we just need to talk to more people I think.  We did a lot of service this week, hence the pictures.  There's one of me chopping wood which is actually a lot of fun, I quite enjoy it!  
Also washing dishes for the same lady. 
We also had to strip corn from the cob to use for tortillas and the like and that's where those randy blisters came from (don't worry about them,they'll be gone by the next time you hear from me haha)  
What do I eat?  Cereal, spaghetti, eggs, ham, cheese all that kind of stuff, the same as in college haha.  The members don't cook for us so we don't eat a lot of weird stuff lol.  It was a good week, a really fast week but nothing really happened, sorry.  Oh, yesterday was kinda cool though, I spoke in sacrament meeting for the first time in Spanish so that was actually a lot of fun :)  And then we had our branch president's family over for dinner yesterday, we made them breakfast burritos and they had never seen flour tortillas before!  haha it was really fun. I love you all!  Glad to hear everyone is doing well still, stay safe and Keep praying for me haha!
Elder Westenskow

Answers to Your Burning Questions!!

Alright, so I knew that you all would be getting upset because I keep forgetting to answer questions so here we go.
Q: Was everything in the package okay? A: Yes, the chocolate even survived great :)
Q: My health A: I'm fine lol.  Don't worry about it, I had a cold and felt like crap in the CCM, no worries.  I'm in a third world country, I'm going to get sick, no worries :)
Q: The question of money A: We get 1900 Quetzales every month (I'm not sure what that is in dollars) but we have to pay rent (well, we don't so we actually get a bit less than the rest) pay for travel, food, personal expenses, basically everything.
Q: I'm not sure what the question was.  A: We have a lady in our branch who cooks us lunch Thursday through Sunday and does our laundry, we pay her 400 Quetz a month
Q: Where do we buy food A: There's a dispensa here in Quiche that we buy food at and then take to Cunén on the bus.  There are little tiendas in Cunén all over though (the comparable thing would be like a gas station store except they sell a lot more than gas station stores do)
Q: How do I print? A: The place we use Internet at has a printer.
Q:How's my comp and I? A: We're great!  Working hard and having a good time, he's a really good guy
Q: Quality of life A: Great!  We live in a church so even though it's small we're pretty hooked up.  We have hot water, a toilet, a stove, a sink so life is good!
Q: The branch A: I swear I've said this before we have a branch of about 40 active members, for example 38 people attended church yesterday
Q: Are you learning Quiche?  A: No, I'm sticking with the Spanish thing, everyone we talk to on a regular basis speaks Spanish so I'm really just trying to get the one language down.
This week was good :)  We started off the week with a zone conference in Xela in which president talked more about working with members and getting more referrals.  It was good because he gave us some different techniques to apply to our work so that we can advance the work more here in Cunén.  We took the list and looked at which ones we were already doing and which ones we could begin applying.  It looks like it'll work out well :)  We also got pizza so that's always great!  We spent Tuesday night playing Bancopoly at the zonies because we got back too late to catch a bus to Cunén (Bancopoly is the Guatemalan version of Monopoly).  We've just been meeting a lot with members this week, a lot of people don't know a lot about the church so we've just been helping them to learn more about it as well as ask for references.  We're really building some good relationships with the members and that helps the work A LOT.  That was probably my biggest misconception about missionary work is how much you work with the members, you work with them a lot.  At least in our area, you have to.  Thursday was Independence day so it was really really tough to come up with stuff to do, nobody was  home, and I mean NOBODY.  And everybody was celebrating so they didn't particularly want to listen to us at the time.  However, we randomly decided to stop by Andrés' house and he was actually there!  (A guy that we taught my first week that was super positive) we visited with him for almost 2 hours and he's just really really positive about everything we tell him.  He's trying to improve and change his life and he sees us as helpers to help him do that.  We met with him on Saturday as well and put a baptismal date, my first!  It's pretty far off, 5 November but we have to wait until he can attend church.  All it means is that we have to keep working with him and get him better acquainted with the branch.  We're trying not to get too excited because a lot of baptismal dates fall through but I have a really good feeling about it :)
We also had a second meeting with our Bible basher friend, Alvaro.  He really just won't accept the Book of Mormon and we just keep telling him to pray about it.  It's tough.  I felt really good about him after our first visit but it looks pretty grim right now. Oh well, just keep both of them in your prayers and we'll see what happens :)
Much love to all, have a good week everyone!
-Elder Westenskow

Friday, September 16, 2011

Hey Family!

This was a good week, really really really really fast.  I can't believe that I'm already emailing again lol.  Let's see.  We were in Xela until Wednesday of last week because we had interviews with president so that kinda knocked out half of the week.  But they were good.  He's trying to "change the mission DNA" as he says.  We're trying to focus more on less actives and working with the members to get referrals more than contacting.  It's a really great idea and we're trying our best to implement it but it's tough just because in our area there's only 40 members in the branch and there's no addresses anywhere in our area so it's really tough to contact old investigators or less actives because on the address bar it says something like "up the mountain, by the river" because that's the best description that can be given.  It's a really tough area but we're trying our best.  I guess in Cunén there have been 4 baptisms in the last 4 years so the odds aren't exactly stacked in our favor but we're doing our best.  We've implemented a plan to try and go with president's new vision.  We're meeting with every family in the ward and giving them a Book of Mormon with Moroni 10:3-5 premarked and our information written in and a space for the member to write their testimony so we're asking them to pray about finding someone to give it to so that the person can call us.  We think it's a good plan and we'll see if it brings results, we're really praying to be able to find people to teach so we'll see how it goes :).  

Another reason the area is really tough is nobody is ever home.  I had my first fallen through appointment this week.  This lady that lives up the mountain (probably a 25 minute hike) just wasn't home for our appointment.  That kind of stuff is hard to deal with but it's not a huge deal.  It just gave us an empty hour which is never good so we ended up contacting all afternoon (which is a very very long time when literally NOBODY will let you in haha)  So that day was kind of a wash.  But whatever, our family that we're teaching in Utspantan, Eliseo and his kids, invited us to this weird evangelical service thing and even invited us to stay the night at their house, how nice of them!  But yeah, we're not going to go to that, we're just going to keep trying to teach them and praying for them and hope that something happens.  It's just tough because Utspantan is an hour from Cunén so it's really hard to get people to come to church (because the only meeting house is in Cunén)  But like I said, we're trying :).  

Also, elections were this week so everybody was pretty focused on that.  They take over this country like something I've never seen before.  We actually weren't allowed to go out proselyting yesterday because it was voting day haha.  It was actually a pretty fun day though and then now today is pday so it's kinda like 2 days off lol.  Kinda sucks because days always go slower when you're not working but it's still a lot of fun.  Plus, we've got to go down to Xela again this week for a conference so we're staying the night in Quiche and heading down tomorrow and we probably won't get back til Wednesday afternoon.  It's all good though :)  Time flies though, it really does.  I can't believe I've been here almost 2 weeks, it feels like a day and a half lol.  But I love it, we're in a tough area but I know that it's prepping me for the rest of my mission in a good way.  Plus, we have the greatest zone.  There's only 12 people in Quiche and they're all gringos (They don't send Latinos here for some reason) so we have gringo zone and it's a whole ton of fun, I love it :) 
Well, I think that's it, Love you all, the gospel is true, keep it up everyone :)
-Elder Westenskow

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

First Week!!!

SO!  First, MOM, I got the package!  It was postmarked August 19th so I guess thats when it got here.  THANK YOU!!!  There was SO much food but it's so appreciated! We pretty much just have it sitting open in the room and eat it at night. The chapstick was amazing as well!  Make sure to give Russ Johnson a big thanks for me, that was a really cool thing that he sent and I look forward to using it!

 So first off, my week was awesome!  Very hard, pretty long, but I think that the time will pick up as I go.  My zone is called Quiche and my area is Cunen.  It's the biggest zone in the mission and it's the furthest area from the mission home.  It was just opened 6 weeks ago by my comp and his old comp.

We live in the church in this tiny little room off the chapel (the only other room in the building) and we have a branch of about 40 people.  The members that come are pretty strong but we have a lot of nonmembers.  The area is HUGE!  I'ts the biggest in the mission, we can travel 11 hours and still be in our area.  We have a couple bigger cities around Cunén but they're like an hour or so away by bus.  We're really in the middle of nowhere, one of the pictures that I sent was taken just from where we were contacting. 

It's sometimes tough to find things to do but we're really trying hard to find people.  We work a lot with the members and less actives to try to increase church attendance.  Like I said our branch is pretty small and our branch president has been in for like 15 years so he's kind of lost the fire a bit.  But we're working hard, contacting quite a bit.  We have a few potentials, one guy named Andrés seems really positive.  There's also a bunch of languages in our area, we've been contacting out in the mountains and half the people we run into don't speak Spanish.  But its fun.  Like I said the days are kind of long right now but I think it'll be like the CCM/MTC and pick up as we go.  There's also a whole freaking ton of wild dogs, everywhere you turn there's wild dogs!  But its cool, I like the area I'm just scared because I'm probably going to be there for like 6 months, as time goes on I could see it becoming hard to find things to do but we're taking it one day at a time and just doing all that we can.  We're about 5 hours from Xela by the way and about 2 hours from all the other Elders in our zone (we dont have a district, just a zone). 
My comp is Elder Bitner, hes from Glendale, Arizona and he's really cool.  He's been out about 13 months.  (seeing that makes me feel like I'll never get to that point, I'm kind of feeling like 2 years is a really long time again but I'm having fun and I'm working hard and that's what counts, I know the time will go faster as long as I do that.  I really just wanna go to a city where its easier to find people to talk to but we're doing alright right now.  Plus, I think everyone's first area is tough so I'm just praying a LOT! haha).  Speaking of my comp though, yeah, he's really good, he knows the area really well so he knows the places that we can go to see people and talk to people.  People are pretty welcoming but after a first visit I think it gets a little rough.  Especially since the chapel that we live in is the only chapel for the entire area (meaning that we can go contacting an hour away but it's not super likely that people are going to come to church (we have members in these surrounding cities that don't even come very often, they're really good members too, it's just really tough to get them to church).  Yeah, ít's a tough area for sure, President said that they don't send just anybody to Cunén so that made me feel good.  I am having fun, I am enjoying myself, always remember that :).  I'm not sure what else to write, I'm doing the same thing and printing my emails and then writing and then I'll answer the emails from this week next week so yeah!  I love you all!  Have a really really great week and I'll talk to you next week!

-Elder Westenskow

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Last Week Before The Field!!!

Hey Family!

So the upside of all of this is that I get to write you all today.  The downside is I really don't have a whole ton to say.  The last few days at the CCM have been pretty standard, class, studying, the normal.  WE DID HAVE ONE REALLY COOL EXPERIENCE!!!  We taught in CRE for the last time (mom, for you, CRE is an off campus house that the church owns that has several living rooms set up and we go in and teach people (sometimes teachers, sometimes volunteers) and they're in street clothes and we just teach in a home setting rather than in a classroom setting).  ANYWAY, we were teaching "less active members" which means people acting as less active members and before we went in, Hmno Vasquez told us that for realzies the people we were teaching (a girl and her boyfriend) that the girl was a return missionary and active but would be pretending to be less active but that he wasn't a member at all.  We figured he was just telling us this as they always do so we didn't thing much of it and we taught and it was really good.  Bore lots of testimony, invited them to attend church and they said they would.  Wimmer committed Erick to read Moroni 10 and pray about it and he prayed and we left.  AFTER: In the classroom, Hmno Vasquez told us "everyone that you all taught were real, active members except for one, and that was yours (then he pointed at Me and Wimmer)" So we taught our first real sit down lesson without even knowing it!  IT was SOOO COOL!!! There was a definite difference and when we came out of there I was actively trying to convince myself that he was a member but I didn't really believe it.  It just felt so cool 1)To teach a real investigator (he had never met with the missionaries but we got his reference [also Hmno Vasquez told us "he's never met with the missionaries before and now he wants to because of you" which felt AMAZING]) and 2)That they trusted Wimmer and Me with that responsibility, it was SOOOOO COOL!!!!  I don't know what else to say about it, it was just amazing. 

Basically, I'm just so incredibly psyched to get out to the field and do this for realzies, teach real people, help real people, show real people this amazing thing that we have.  Tomorrow I meet my mission president and my trainer and I could not be more excited.  I'm going to miss the CCM I've realized that I really like it here, its comfortable, its fun, my district is AMAZING.  Were going to party it up when we get home in St. George (like RIGHT after we get home) and its going to be soooo sick.  However, they've told us that the only thing constant on the mission is change so I guess getting comfortable isn't part of the gig.  I'm going to do my absolute best to dive in completely head first and immerse myself in all of it.  This work is amazing and it will change people (including me).  One of the things we've talked about the last few days a lot is having vision, seeing into the future, planning the person we want to become and then doing the things that are necessary to achieve that. 

I love Guatemala, I love Spanish, I love the gospel and I love all of you.  I greatly appreciate all of the people who continue to write to me and I ask for their patience as I know I'll have very little time to write out in the field, I will still always try to get a note to those who get notes to me.  I love you all, I'm probably not as prepared as I could be for this next step but I am so beyond ready to make it.  Faith and prayer are my new best friends.  I love you all, I can't wait to see you again, but I do not want to be anywhere but here right now.  Take no offense to this, but the last place I want to be right now is home.  I am soooooooo flippin happy all the time and I know it's because I'm doing the things that I'm supposed to.  I have a testimony of that and it grows every day and I know it will continue to grow out in the field.  This is what Ive been waiting for, I feel like I'm actually leaving on my mission tomorrow, I've waited a long time for this moment and now its here, I'm not going to screw it up.  You all rock and I'll talk to you next week :)

-Elder Westenskow

Saturday, August 27, 2011

6 Days!!!

FIRST!  Meagan, about the short tie, we were having short tie Tuesday on Monday and we actually got yelled at for it hahaha.  Yes, I know the tie is supposed to go past my nipples ;).  Next, no more Dearelders to the CCM please for anyone!  I won't get them, they'll get thrown away.  Just start sending them to Quetzaltenango and I'll get them eventually!  haha

Next, Nicole, I got your comps scripture cases, they're not exact but I tried to get the closest cutest ones and I had to fight a sister in my district for them so savor them.  I'll be sending them with Hermana Parker so keep a look out. 

NOW ON TO THIS WEEK IT WAS SO GOOD OH MY GOSH!!!!!  First, we had a practice with some real members to practice understanding and teaching people we didn't know.  We taught a guy named Antonio, he was probably late 70s and talked super clear so that was pretty rad.  He was converted in the late 80s and his testimony was so crazy strong.  I know I was able to understand everything he said because of the spirit which was crazy just in our little space!  It gave me a lot of hope about missionary work, about the fact that people will change.  We have this message and people are waiting for it and they'll accept it and change for it, and that's amazing!  We didn't really teach what we had prepared but just kinda talked and shared testimony and experiences it was so flippidy dang cool!  NEXT, we were able to go contacting again for a second time!  We weren't going to be able to because of the new schedule but the night before president made some calls and made it so we could go again and it was sooooooo good.  We met a guy in a meat shop that was hanging out and we just kinda waved but he spat some English at us so we went back and started talking to him (in Spanish) and talked about the restoration a bit and we were like "well we can see that you're working so..." and he cut us off and was like "nah, I'm not busy I can talk now!" so we ended up talking a good 15 minutes with him and when we were like "so would you like to learn more?" he was like "how about tomorrow afternoon?!"  we told him we couldn't make an appointment with him but we got his reference stuff so the other missionaries can contact him, it was so freaking cool. 

ALSO! Yesterday I got a thing from Lisa that had a bunch of pictures of the wedding!  MAKE SURE SHE KNOWS THAT I SAID A BIGGGGG HUGEEE THANK YOU!!!!  IT all looks sooooooo good!!!!  Not much else happened this week, mostly just finishing up, teaching a lot of our teachers, studying a lot, getting ready to get out there.  Going tracting got me soooo ready (PS Wimmer and I went, not with a Latin comp) and I'm just so psyched to get out there and so ready.  ALSO, We'll either be writing on Monday or Tuesday next week because were leaving Tuesday so probably Monday so write me before then please!  LOVE YOU ALL!  I'm so excited to read the emails that I got and Meagan and Dad can expect snail mail in the near future. But yeah, that was my week, love you all, the gospel is true and have a good one!

-Elder Westenskow

Saturday, August 20, 2011

17 Days Left!!!

 Okay so nothing much happened this week except for that I SAW NICOLE!!!!! AHHHHHH it was so great!  Not anything special to anyone but us probably, we just hung out for an hour.  Nothings changed between us.  She got a bunch of pictures which I'm sure you'll appreciate.  I'm so glad that it could happen, its been far too long since Ive seen my best friend.  I wish there was more to report but we really just chatted for an hour, it was so legit.  I'm sure she'll give you more details than me hahah shes always like that.

Anyway, apart from that, we've just been working hard, the last few days have gone really slow but the first half of the week is always slower than the second.  I'm just SO READY to get out of here!! Total cabin fever lol. Just ready to get out in the field and actually feel like I'm on my mission.  17days away!!  I'm sure it'll be here before I know it and when I get out there I'm going to get thrown down on my butt but I couldn't be more excited for it. 

The Spanish is coming good, I'm pretty much just solidifying everything by talking to Latinos and teaching the grammar to other missionaries in my class.  I'm going to miss this district when I'm done here, they're so awesome!!!  We watched a crazy Jeffery R Holland talk last night that did a lot of things to me one of which was PUMP. ME. UP.  To get out there!  I wish there was more to report on here but there really isn't.  Things are good with Wimmer and me, things are good in my classes, the spirit is REALLY GOOD.  We went to the temple this morning which is always rad!  We still just pretty much do the same thing every day, we haven't been teaching so there's nothing to report on there, just studying a lot and getting ready to get out there in the field for real!

Hard to believe I've been out almost 2 months already but yeah.  I have a feeling my mission is going to whiz by so I'm really trying my hardest just to focus on serving others and helping other people out as much as I possibly can.  Trying to forget myself and everything back at home.  Its tough but the spirit helps a LOT.  I'm so excited to read through the emails that you guys sent and Dearelders tomorrow will be good too I'm sure!  I love you all and thanks to everyone who writes me!  It means more than you all know.  I have the absolute best family and friends that anyone could ask for.  I pray for all of you every day as I know you pray for me.  You're all spectacular and I can't wait to have actual stories to tell all of you.
Keep up the good work family, friends, and everyone in between. 
-Elder Westenskow.
PS I think there's a new photo up on if ya'll wanna check that out, if not it'll be there in a few days.  LOVE YOU ALL!!!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

I Can't Believe I've Been Here Three Weeks!!!

So we are emailing today, I have no idea why but I hope that well be able to just check tomorrow for emails and print them so please still send one.

Lets see, cool experiences from this week.  We went to talk to people on the temple grounds on Saturday to practice Spanish and of course, the first guy that we talk to isn't a member lol.  So we just talked to him a bit and bore our testimonies, gave him a BOM (well, Wimmer gave him his triple because we didn't have a BOM, silly kid) and committed him to read 3 Nephi 11 and then meet with the missionaries (we got his info so they can find him).  His name was Marco and it was IMPOSSIBLE to understand him.  But it was really cool.  Also, just going to the temple is super rad, I love it so much, going on Wednesdays is like the best part of my week. 

I CANT BELIEVE I'VE BEEN HERE 3 WEEKS!!!  Nicole was crazy, the time here flies by!  I've only got 21 days til I get to the field and I couldn't be more excited.  It's going to be so stellar.  The group that came before us and the Latinos left today and I wanted to go with them.  But this place is like empty now, its kind of crazy.  I'm so stoked to get new missionaries tomorrow though!   I can't wait to see their faces when they get off the bus, it's going to be stellar!  ALSO I SEE NICOLE IN LESS THAN A WEEK!!!!!!  I cannot wait even a little bit I'm so excited! 

We went to the market and the mall today.  The market was so awesome, I took a video of us just walking through to hopefully give a little bit of an impression of what its like.  I dunno when you're going to see it but I'm excited for you to nonetheless.  I've been taking a few videos while I still can actually so I might need a new memory card soon.  Idk if you've sent that package but if you haven't I have a request if you can make it happen.  More music please, movie scores are best (LOTR, Home Alone, whatever works really)    Back to the mall/market.  We walked around and bought some stuff, I bought a bag that's really cool, a poncho hoodie thing, and a soccer jersey (no I don't like soccer all of the sudden, they were just mega cheap and cool looking).  Then we went to the mall, I had McDonalds and Dominos and a coke (they had no MTN Dew.)  It was really really fun but it also felt kinda wrong, I knew that we were allowed to since we were there with leaders and whatnot but it felt weird being around a bunch of people and not talking to them.  I felt like a tourist a little and that was really really weird.  But it really was a lot of fun, I spent like 50 dollars all together but it was cool, I'm not going to have a whole ton of opportunities to just go shopping like that so I kinda went all out. 

I'm kinda running out of time, I don't know what happened, the schedule is really messed up and we got hardly any time for emailing so I'll have to cut this one off now, sorry about that.  I love you all and I love getting all of the Dearelders, tell Meagan to write me, I need to hear from her!  Dad, I don't know if you got my letter yet but there's one in the mail for you and another will be coming this week.  I love you all and cant wait to get mail on Thursday!  LOVE YOU ALL!!!!!!
-Elder Westenskow

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Two Weeks in the CCM Already?!?!?!?

Sup family?  It's tough to talk too much about the things that we do because every day is pretty much the same.  We get up, play sports, study, food, class, food, class, bed.  It's fairly repetitive but time goes so fast!!  I cant believe Ive already been a missionary a month and been here 2 weeks, its absolutely crazy!! 

One thing that was awesome, we got to go tracting/contacting on Monday which was pretty sick.  I'm not as ready as I thought I was.   I can speak alright but understanding is a whole new thing, everyone talks so dang fast!!!  I also need to learn to be more bold, I had a really hard time walking up to people or knocking on doors.  We weren't very successful but we managed to place some BOMs and get a few (5) referrals for the missionaries in the Sur mission so that was good.  I'm excited to go out in 2.5 more weeks and try to redeem myself.  I want to just be able to talk to everybody!!  We did only get one flat out rejection which was actually pretty funny.  We knocked the door "hola!  Somos representantes de Jesucristo"  "de quien?!"  "somos misioneros con la iglesia de Jesucristo de los santos de los ultimos dias"  "NO LES QUIERO CONOCER, SOY CATOLICA!!"  and she slammed the door.  You can have somebody translate.  I'm sure that was pretty rough Spanish but whatever.  I told you I can't understand anything.  I am still so stoked to get out in the field though, I LOVE teaching, it's so much fun!  I can't wait to teach real people and not just teachers acting as investigators.

I can't believe I've got less than a month til I'll actually be out in the field, if time here goes this fast and it's supposed to go slow in the MTC I can only imagine how fast it will go out in the field.  I LOVE MY MISSION!!!  I can't wait to actually be doing real missionary work.   I am very very nervous but I know that I will be blessed with strength and with courage. 

Oh for mom, to picture.  It's beautiful here.  The city is not too nice but that's to be expected.  The temple (which we get to go to later today!!!!)  is just right in the middle of the city, there's a trashy gas station across the street from it.  But its so amazing!!  OH CRE!!!!!  CRE is the coolest thing ever.  We walk to this house down the street from the CCM and we go and knock on the door and a teacher dressed in street clothes answers (Not your teacher and not a teacher that you see very often so its so real) and you go in and teach them.  They've got this whole living room setup that's so rad.  I love it and its the best part of the week.  Right now we've got her committed to baptism and she's excited about reading the BOM, shes having trouble praying but a lot of people here do.     

Hit me up with more pictures from the wedding, send them in a package if you can (remember it takes about 2 weeks to get here so determine if its better to send it here or to the mission home, I'll get you that address next week hopefully).  Apparently I get to see Nicole on the 15th but I guess that's subject to change, I'm so psyched!!!!  Basically, I love it here and I can't wait to get out in the field.  With how fast this month has gone, 24 months doesn't seem like all that long, I'm trying to make every moment count.  I love you all and thanks to everyone who writes me, its much appreciated!!!!!  I don't know what else I'm forgetting but I think this letter is a bit less scattered than the last one.  Tell Meagan and Brad that I'm so freakin excited for them and I sent a letter to Meagan Soderman last week and that was pretty weird.  I love all of you so much!!!  Have a good week and I'm out of time!!

-Elder Westenskow

One Week in the CCM Down, 33 Days To Go!

 This place rules, its so much better than the MTC.  Its a lot more laid back and intimate.  Its smaller but there's a lot less people and it actually feels less claustrophobic.  My comp is Elder Wimmer, he's awesome, we work so well together. I'm having a great time.  I'm so psyched to get out in the field (I THINK my date is 8/30 because that was the date for all my peeps back in Provo but I dunno).  I'm psyched to see Nicole but I haven't yet.  We also have Latin comps during meal times and gym and mine is Elder Torres, he's from Nicaragua and he speaks alright English but they're doing an ESL program here where once a day we help our Latin comps learn English because they help us every day learn Spanish.  It's a lot of fun.  I'll make sure to get some pictures with him.  HE GOES THROUGH THE TEMPLE TODAY FOR THE FIRST TIME!!!! It's so exciting AND MEAGAN WENT YESTERDAY AND IS MARRIED ON FRIDAY!!!!! I'm so psyched for her, I wish I could be there but I expect lots of pictures (Yard looks great by the way!). 

We're working hard here every day, we teach almost every day and every time we teach I just get more excited to be out in the field and actually teaching people.  I hope the next 33 days go fast.  I'm not sure how my Spanish is, I'll wait til I see Nicole and then I'll let her tell you in an email and then you can tell me, I think its coming well though.  Sometimes I'll just start saying things and not really know whats happening, gift of tongues fo sho. 

I love it here.  Teachers are great, President is great (had an opportunity to meet with him, he's amazing).  My comps are great (Latin and English) and things are going great (aside from occasional cabin fever but what can you do).  Nicole lied, we actually get out of the CCM quite a bit.  We clean up temple grounds on Saturdays, in a couple weeks we get to go to a mall, and a week after that we get to go contacting with out Latin comps, I'm so psyched!!! 

This place is actually nicer than the MTC I think, its smaller and more humble but the rooms and bathrooms are so much nicer (in Provo the showers were cold a lot and infested with flies) but here I haven't had a cold shower and haven't really seen any bugs either.  The food is super good, they try to do a lot of different things (yesterday we had hamburgers for lunch and Chinese for dinner and it actually wasn't bad at all). My stomach has been handling it well too which is great!!!  To everyone reading this that sent me emails I'm sorry I cant respond individually but its so tough when they time you so exactly.  I printed off the picture of Meagan at the temple too, everyone looks so happy and I was so stoked to see Abby and Meagan standing together again, I MISS THAT GIRL!!!  One thing that's bad is that I'm tired all the time and sometimes its hard to study but I'm trying really hard.  I really do just want to get out there!  But I'm having a good time right now and 33 days really isn't all that long.  Its weird to thing that its been almost 10 days since we left the states.  I don't really know what else to write but I know that I'm forgetting things.

The church is true and its an amazing thing and such a blessing in my life.  I can't wait so share it with people who have never heard it before.      

Apparently you can go to and see a picture of everyone here right now.  So check that out, I can't wait to get all of the dearelders that y'all have sent and read what's going on.  I'm also excited to read these emails from everyone.  I don't know what I'm forgetting.  OH Family, you probably won't be getting print letters from me this week, we just don't have as much time to write but I'll try next week.  Dad, I'm especially excited to get your dearelder, rumor has it that they'll come in tomorrow, I hope so.  Have a good week everyone and I'll tell you all of my adventures next week.  (Dad, you wanted me to share from my journal but the truth is that its pretty lame, we pretty much do the same thing everyday here so when I get out in the field and have different things happening I'll share but its pretty much just class, work, teach, and eat here.  LOVE YOU ALL SO MUCH GUATEMALA RULESSSSS!!!!!

-Elder Westenskow