Wednesday, December 30, 2009

New Responsibilities for the New Year

I hope you are all okay, but yes, they got married and I had changes. I had an interview too. I am writing so late [Tuesday night at 5:30] because I can because I am the new mission secretary. I was blindsided by that one. I am now in the office with Elder Jacobs and Elder Cesena who I entered the field with. And my comp is my brother in the mission, Elder Long.

But I have been running on five hours of sleep in two days because we had to take care of the missionaries leaving and then today the ones coming in. I thought teaching in Spanish has hard, but now I am doing business in Spanish so please pray for me. Sorry, I am super tired.
Love you all,
Elder Musick

Friday, December 25, 2009

Cultural Observation of the Week:

The traditional food for Guatemalans at Christmas is tamales. They are basically corn "maza" stuffed with chicken, wrapped in a banana leaf and boiled. They are rather tasteless compared to the tamales we eat in the states. They are made much differently in Honduras and have more flavor - according to a Honduran Missionary.

The traditional drink is Ponche. Basically it includes cut up pieces of almost every fruit available, including pineapple, papaya, melon, and prunes. It also has orange juice, cinnamon, and more. All of it is boiled together, and it remains as a liquid with chunks of fruit in it. You can drink it warm or cold." Hmmmm, interesting!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Cultural Observation of the Week

The Guatemalans stay up until midnight on the 24th of December and set off fireworks. At midnight they open presents and dance and celebrate (at least those who have extra money to buy them - Sam said in his area it is basically a regular day, no gifts, no special meals, nothing). As a result, on the 25th all are exhausted and everyone sleeps. In their nativity scenes they also hide the baby Jesus until midnight. When they welcome in the 25th at this hour, the baby is born and they put him in the manger.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Now, he's a wedding planner!

Okay, thank you all for your love and support and packages. I got one from grandma and you guys and really enjoyed them - thank you. But I loved the tree it was pretty cool, I must say.

Last week we were in a lesson with a family (the wife is an active member and is at church every Sunday, but the husband was a hit man) and we have been working hard with him and working towards marriage. So last week we had a lesson and we have taught him twice before this and I said we want to get you married and I want to see it. So I said, "[Let’s do it] the 26th of this month because on the 28th is changes and I didn't want to miss this." They said "yes" and so for tomorrow’s pday we have to get up at four am to pull some papers out. And then we scheduled some lessons in the afternoon so we won't get pday tomorrow.

But also the husband gave us four referrals and they have all worked together so we have a lot of work and have been teaching repentance like crazy. But I have seen harden criminals break down and cry just wanting to change their lives. I have seen the Lord's hand blessing us and these men to change and come unto Him. The members are very fond of us and we have such help from them right now. The Lord has really blessed us and especially my companion in this time because he found out that his grandpa killed himself and that was super hard for him to take. But he talked to his family Tuesday night and he wanted me to talk to his mom so I talked for a second to them and saw the comfort of the spirit and the plan of salvation blessing them.

But mom I am letting you know I am going to have to use the card from home for a gift exchange with family Rodriguez and to help out with the Wedding a little bit. Just plates and glasses stuff like that. But I am tired because the Lord has given us a great amount of work and we feel so blessed.

I will call you guys on the 25th at 8:00 or 9:00 and so I think that is like 11:00 or 12:00 for you guys, if that is okay. But I love you all so much and pray you are all safe. [Actually, he figured this backward which means he will be calling at 6:00-7:00 - Merry Christmas!]

Love, Elder Musick

Monday, December 14, 2009

Temple Blessings

The temple was truly amazing. I was a witness for the baptisms and ran into my old comp's brothers at the temple. I have photos and will try to get some to you. The temple trip was pretty much all day and it was amazing. They all loved it, even the little ones. But this week we have been super busy. We had to wake up at 5 one day to have a lesson at 6 in the morning. The Lord has truly blessed us here in this area.

Yesterday we had divisions pretty much all day after church and I went with Hermano Rodriguez and he absolutely loved it and he said whenever we need him he will help out. Later that night I went with Oscar Mendoza who has been a member a month or so. He had investigated the church for three years, got married and needed an interview with President Baldwin. He had served in the military and had killed a lot of people. Well, we had a lesson with a new investigator who was a hit man - the people he used to hunt down. But it was one of the most powerful lessons I have ever been in. Oscar spoke with such power and the whole time was lead by the spirit. He offered such support and comfort and has such a testimony of repentence; it blew my mind. But mom, don't worry I am protected by the Lord and we are safe.

I just found out my companion’s grandfather just passed away so that will be another hard challenge to face this week. So I please ask for your prayers to help him out.

I would love to see pictures from the Jorgensen/Vlach wedding because that really is a happy day. Aubrey chose a better life because it includes the gospel and a worthy Priesthood holder.

I really am blessed for all that you have been doing for me and how you have all blessed and helped me to be who I am today. To be honest, I have seen the hand of the Lord almost every day here. But really as I try to help people get married or divorced or counsel them about repentence of some heavy things, I know that the Lord has qualified me and that in this past month I realize as a senior comp that I am more like my father then I know and how blessed I am to have that great blessing to be similar to such a great man.

I love you all so much and pray all is well. Know that my families here are taking great care of me. The families Garcia, Rodriguez and Mendoza are always blessing me.

And mom, I know nothing about calls but tomorrow or the next week I will.

Elder Musick

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

This Year for Christmas (a poem)

I skipped the sales after Thanksgiving. The thrill just wasn't there.
No pictures taken with Santa Clause, my decorating has no flair.
His presents are shoes, shirts, and ties, two suits and socks...no fun.
I've bought him all white clothes because...this year I'm giving Christ my son.

I've spent more time in the temple, felt strength come from His words.
I've reread November's Ensign,and my testimony stirred.
Our family prays more frequently, my tears are quick to run.
Abraham seems closer because, this year I'm giving Christ my son.

I wonder how those Lamanite mothers, gave their sons to war?
Or how the pioneers chose Zion, their sacrifice was so much more.
My loss will be his presence, I'll miss his smile a ton
For two years we will pray for him, I'm giving Christ my son.

I stare at his face when he's not looking. I memorize his eyes, their shine.
He's always hungered for the part of him, that makes his soul divine.
The stories and lessons he always heard, his choice and mine are one.
I'll put my faith in God's hand, this year, I'm giving Him my son.

Past gifts have lost their glitter, I think I finally understand
Christ's birth should be celebrated by giving Him a hand.
It's because I know Christ lives and reigns that all his packing’s done.
My gift has taken years to make, this year... I'm giving Christ my son

Monday, December 7, 2009

December "miracle" and wonderful converts

Okay, so I got your packages and a package from the Smith family so please thank them for me. I loved my packages and I got them when we had house inspections. And all the missionaries were mad I got three packages in one day. So thank you.

And I know I shouldn't boast but I performed a miracle this week. I cleaned our two-story house that has a giant roof top. And right now it is safra and so we have ash everywhere because they just burn the sugar cane. But we got a great review because Hermana Baldwin said in two years it is the cleanest she has ever seen it.

But in other news we had two baptisms this weekend of the mother and sister to Marco Vinico Rodriguez. So we completed the family except to two little ones who are two and four. And I had the honor to do the confirmation. But then that night we took the Family Garcia and the Family Rodriguez to the Christmas Devotional where we saw the family Mendoza. They are recent converts and they had been investigating the church for three years and need the interview with President Baldwin. So it was really cool but the kids all sat by me so I couldn't focus really well. But I enjoyed it all.

So this Friday we are planning to go to the temple with the family Rodriguez and so that will be our p-day for the week. But we are really looking forward to it. And we finally have a cook - it is Irma Rodriguez who was baptized two weeks ago. But right now we have been truly blessed by the Lord and are so truly grateful. But still have a lot to work on.

About the Christmas call - I have no idea what you mean or want but when I know something I will let you know. But this Friday I will need to probably use some money at the temple for some investigators just to let you know.

And I need a huge favor. The two year old in the family Rodriguez can't speak and has some problems and so we want to teach him some sign language to help Irma and him because it is real difficult at times. Could you find a sign language book in Spanish as soon as possible because changes are the 28 of this month and need to get it before that just in case. I would really, really be indebted to you for this. Love you, mom, and thanks for the packages.

And what do you mean special delivery?

Cultural Observation - December 7th

There is a tradition on December 7th in Guatemala: la quema del diablo, the burning of the devil. You know it is coming when you can see big, red, horned pinatas hanging in storefronts. Across the country, people light bonfires and burn images of Satan as a way to symbolically cleanse their houses.

On December 7th Guatemalans clean house and gather up discarded boxes, old newspapers, ... even dust from underneath the beds ... and build a huge, highly-combustible mound in front of their homes. Popular tradition holds that throughout the year, the devil hides in the corners and dark places of a house, weaseling his way into old papers and garbage and dust ... thereby bringing bad luck to the home. By 6pm the piles are set alight. An optional paper-mache Satan is added to the pile and, at exactly 6pm, the whole unholy heap is set on fire.

Guatemalans strongly believe that by burning the rubbish they are purging their homes and towns of evil. With this tradition, the season of Christmas begins.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Cultural observation

In Guatemala, Thanksgiving is not a holiday, so the Christmas celebrations start early. In early November, Christmas trees started springing up in all the homes (the plastic kind of course, real Christmas trees don´t exist there). Another sign that Christmas is approaching is that all of the young people have fireworks, and every night in all parts of the city, you can hear miniature explosions. There are sparklers and other small fireworks that we all used as children on the Fourth of July.