Monday, May 25, 2015

Called to Serve

It was not an easy decision for me to serve a mission.  I will be honest, when I started to think about a mission I really didn't want to go.  I had a great life at BYU and thought I had many opportunities to serve others around me.  I thought my desire to get a good education and to look for future spouse was a righteous desire and it definitely is.  But I started receiving more and more promptings to serve a mission as each of my friends left for their missions and as I rode on a roller coaster of relationships that never seemed 100% right.  I couldn't understand why I was receiving these promptings when I thought everything I was working towards was in line with Heavenly Father's will.  
After spending a weekend away from school and other distractions, I finally decided to follow the promptings I had to serve a mission.  Amazing peace came after I made the decision.  Things in my life that had seemed out of whack fell into place and life just seemed to make a lot more sense.  This whole experience has helped me learn that Heavenly Father knows what is truly best for us.  Those goals of furthering my education and starting a family will just be postponed and the mission will help me be better prepared for it as well.  It is all about having faith in the Lord's timing.   
This past week I received my call to serve in the Guatemala Guatemala City Central Mission, Spanish speaking.  I report to the Guatemala MTC on July 22nd (a lot sooner than I had expected).
After receiving my mission call, I wanted to learn as much as a could about Guatemala.  Lucky for me, I met two girls in my ward that just got back from Guatemala.  After talking with them for nearly 2 hours, I had a deer in the headlights moment but in a good way.  Here are a few things they taught me about Guatemala and some other things I found online (thank you google!).  

1. Guatemala and its flag:
In the Maya-Toltec language, Guatemala means 'Land of Trees.' But this little fact has not much to do with what is on the flag.  The two sky blue stripes represent the fact that Guatemala is between the Pacific and Atlantic Ocean.  The white stripe represents purity and peace.  In the center is the Guatemalan coat of arms.  It includes the Resplendent Quetzal, the national bird, which symbolizes liberty; a parchment scroll with the date of Central America's independence from Spain; two crossed rifles, showing that Guatemala will defend itself; a bay laurel crown symbolizing victory; and crossed swords, symbolizing honor.

2. National Bird: Resplendent Quetzal
Not only is the quetzal the national bird, but it is also the form of currency used.  The quetzal bird's tail feathers were actually used as the currency of the ancient Mayan culture. 

3. The People and the Culture: 
mayakidsGuatemalans are largely mestizo, which is a mixture of Spanish and Mayan blood.  The culture is highly influenced by the early Mayan civilization. The people are known for their hand-woven Indian textiles, pottery, wooden carving, and self-made instruments.  The women wear blouses called huipil and skirts called cortes.  The patterns and colors of the fabric differ depending on each region.
The cuisine also differ from region to region.  Most traditional Guatemalan foods are based on the ancient Maya cuisine, corn, chilies, and beans.  Some popular dishes in Guatemala are different types of tamales, chiles rellenos, and anything and everything is served with tortillas. 
This is just a bonus video of the traditional Guatemalan dance:

4. The Climate and Geography: 
succcotzThe climate for Guatemala is hot, humid in the lowlands and cooler in the highlands.  I talked to some girls in my ward who served in Guatemala and they said it rains pretty much everyday there.  They told me to get used to wearing wet clothes and talking over the sound of the rain on the tin roofs.  Guatemala has an average of 7ft of rain throughout the year.  Guatemala is about the size of Tennessee.  There are three main regions: cool highlands, the tropical area along the Pacific and Caribbean coasts, and the tropical jungle in the northern lowlands.  The highest point in the country is Tajumulco Volcano with an altitude of 13,845 ft. above see level.  

5. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints:  

In Guatemala, there is a total of 255,505 members, 6 missions, 421 congregations, and 2 temples.  

These are just a few of the great things I have learned about Guatemala and I can't wait to experience its beautiful culture in person.  I already love the people and the culture and can't imagine how much more love I will gain for them.  But I am most grateful for the opportunity I have to give my all to the Lord and focus on nothing else for 18 months.  I know that it will be hard but I know it will all be worth it.