Monday, June 27, 2016

The Best Days of my Life - Part 3 of 8 (Villa Olimpica)

Well guys....

This week has been awesome.  I get along great with Elder Hirschi and we're working our BUTTS OFF.  Except Elder Hirschi got sick a little.  But he's almost over it!  I think I'll tell you more specific things as we go, but generally, we've just had to earn the trust of the ward members.  BUT.... We're on the way.  There's very little to report on about that... As we go I'll tell more.  Onto my adventures in the city.

La Villa Olimpica - La Esperanza

My story in the city began as I made my way up to my new area.  I had seen in the change meeting that I would be staying in the city and that my companion was a Hawaiian.... And that was about it.  I met up with him, the infamous Elder Naupoto, and we got on a taxi and made our way into central Tegucigalpa.  We made our way up a SUPER huge hill to the smallest apartment in the mission, the same apartment that would come to be my home for 6 months of my life. 

General things I want you all to know about La Villa:

1.  Christina.  My old lady convert who came to be my Honduran mom.  

STORY:  We had talked to her grandson about the church in the street (WITH ELDER HIRSCHI BY THE WAY), and he made it very clear that he didn't want anything to do with us.  BUT, we left a card of Jesus with our number on the back.  We didn't think anything of it.  Then, three or four days later, we get a call.  
'Hey, Hello??? Am I talking to the Elders??  I saw a little card of Jesus with this phone number on the back.  I want you to come and teach me about Jesus.  I need more of him in my life!'
About a month later she was baptized.  I don't know HOW she does it, but she still manages to get my phone number and call me once in a while.  Possibly one of the best stories of my mission.

2.  Heydi.  My convert from Comayagua.  

STORY:  We found her by contacting.  When she opened the door, she din't even let us talk.  She just slammed the door and said NO.  We were weirded out, so we knocked again and she was like, 'HOW DID YOU FIND ME?'  We then came to realize that she had already had all of the lessons from other missionaries in the Comayaguela mission.  Se then had to move before being baptized... but the missionaries told her to not worry.... Because God would find her again.  So.... without any reference, and with straight revelation from God, we found her.  She was baptized a few weeks later in Comayagua.  We attended her baptism with SPECIAL transportation from President Bowler and Hermana Bowler.  President also confirmed her after her baptism.  

3.  Isis.  One of the most interesting converts I'll ever have.

STORY:  You'll have to ask me this one in person, if you really wanna know.  Many of the returned missionaries already know the story.  It's great, I promise.

4.  Walter.  My little buddy (not to be compared with Jakob ;)).

STORY:  His family was one of the families tat MOST loved the missionaries.  They treated us like kings, even while living in very poor circumstances.  They made their living by making cotton candy and selling it in the streets.  Walter had already come to church several times - so we just taught the lessons and boom.  In the water.  Also... they lived at the top of a HUGE staircase.  That sucked.  But it was totally worth it.

5.  Iris, Didier, Daniel and Dominic.  And also Maria. 

STORY:  I'm not entirely sure how we found them.... but they are a family of part members, and they were almost completely inactive.  By hard work, we got two of the kids in the water.  They never got totally reactivated, but that's not totally due to lack of testimony.  They were one of the families that suffered most that I knew during my mission - but they never complained.  The grandmother told us the stories, and would always finish with some kind of positive outlook.  'Well.... but you know.  God knows what He's doing.'

6.  Belkis.  Reference of Gold that then DISAPPEARED FROM OFF THE FACE OF THE EARTH.

STORY:  Well... that's exactly what happened.  She was awesome.  We taught her and her father-in-law baptized her.  She was super active and super pilas and one of my best friends in the Villa, and then... BOOM.  Never heard from her again.  No one is sure what went down there.  The family of her husband are now on a mission in Guatemala, serving in the temple.

7.  Fernando and Joselin and Yerlin and Maria's family.

STORY:  All got baptized within 3 weeks of my departure.


STORY:  Well... I'm more just gonna make a list, although I doubt I'll be able to mention them all.  Odeth and the Family Cerrato,  Family Amador, Family Peralta, Family Duran, Family Rios and Barraza, Family Galindo, Family Acevedo, Family Zepeda, Family Reyes, Family Zuniga, Family Mejia.... Freak there are so many.  I LOVE ALL YOU GUYS.

My story in the Villa was all of the friends that I made.  I later gave birth to my first son, Elder Putnam.  We worked our butts off as well.... But with little fruits.  Or...  That's what it seemed like.  I remember that at the end of my fourth change I was VERY ready to get out, despite loving it as much as I did.  And, long story short, after having made myself known in the city..... I went to changes.  And.... 

Thus began my 8 month adventure in the south. 

Talk to you guys next week. 

Elder Kristian Huff

Monday, June 20, 2016

The Best Days of my Life - Part 2 of 8 (Danli)

Hey guys!  

General update for the week, I have officially received my last changes. 

I'm SO excited.  I will be finishing in the city, Zone Guaymuras, in an area called (ready for this?) La Honduras.  But that's not even the best part - I will be finishing a mission with one of my dearest friends in the mission.  I will be finishing the mission with an Elder who shared the Villa with me for 6 months.... 

I will be finishing the mission with my dearest friend, Elder Hirschi.  Love you guys.  Now onto my first area in Honduras.... When I journeyed in the east.  Here we go.

La Concepcion - Danli

I started out helping people take out bags from the famous change buses - and I asked an Elder in Spanish where the bags should go.  The Elder, named Elder Tapia Navas, future assistant  asked me with big eyes if I was just starting out, mentioning that I spoke great Spanish (LIES.... He just wanted to make me feel good, I'm sure of it!).  I told him yes, I was just starting out, and he congratulated me and gave me a big hug.  I doubt I'll ever forget that kid!  And then... We went into the chapel of the Esperanza.... Thus began my first change meeting.

All of us were sat down watching a big screen with a bunch of faces that we didn't recognize, nor did we understand the better part of what was said.  All I knew is that I was waiting to go to the famous Danli.  While I was in the CCM, a teacher who had served in the Tegucigalpa mission predicted that I would begin there - so I was anxious to see if that prophecy would come to pass.  And... Sure enough, as the screen turned to 'El Oriente', the name of Danli showed up.  Names and pictures passed by, until came the name of 'La Concepcion'... There first came up the picture of a gruff looking Latino named Elder Roldan.... followed by the picture of a familiar little gringo.  And thus.... I scooted by other elders to jump into a huge hug with a huge Latin missionary.  I could tell he was surprised by the way I practically leaped onto him... It makes me laugh just thinking about it.  As I sat down next to him, I asked him in broken Spanish where he was from.  He answered me in English and said that he was from Guatemala.  I told him I was super ready to throw down... He said that I didn't have to worry, and that we were gonna make some miracles happen.  We then said goodbyes, got on a bus, and started towards the east - towards el Paraiso - towards Danli.

We got off by a gas station called la Puma, and then made our way in taxi to the Apaguiz, where our first house was, living on the second floor.  We soon moved to Vista Hermosa, next to our bishop, Obispo Cornejo.  Danli was magic.  It was the perfect place to begin.  It was never too stressful, so I could focus on learning spanish and how to teach.  I remember becoming friends with everybody, getting to know the pulperias and the members and not knowing how to say anything at all. I remember Elder Villanueva, and how he always called me 'amor´and 'baby' - he's heading to Amapala right now, actually!  I remember Elder Webb, and how he was kind of like an adopted gringo dad to me.  He always told me how the things really were - and he was right.  I miss him, dearly.  Crazy - he's married now!  I remember Hermana Bleak, and how we made promises to have movie sleepovers with Elder Webb and me.... I suppose it could still happen.  Maybe!  I remember Nicol, the bishop's daughter, and how I gave her English lessons, and how she really came to be my first friend in Honduras.  I remember giving the blessing to Hermano Amador after the dog bite that we thought would kill him, and how the following week he was in church, miraculously healed.  I remember Senia and Francely and Nazareth and how they were SOOOO crazy intelligent and understood the doctrine even with my broken Spanish.  I remember baptizing Marcia - my first baptism in Honduras, and how Elder Webb and I taught her and Kayla and Mia how to say 'roflcopter' and the delicious baleadas in front of their house.  I remember teaching Maria, who was baptized after like, 8 companionships of teaching.  I remember Dayani and how sassy she was - and Jorge and his sister who always went on divisions with me.  I remember taking a huge line of like, 19 kids to church on Sundays because nobody wanted to go to church, so they just sent their kids.  When Elder Tuft and I reactivated a bunch of families by straight miracles, all of which I can't even tell in email, and learning how to work with members, and always eating in Chilangos, OviSer, or that one restaurant whose name I never remember. 

So many memories....  It's kind of impossible to tell everything.  But basically.... By my third change, I came to really adore the people there.  I knew everyone, and everyone knew me.  I remember Damaris and Katherin and Celeste, and how close they were to baptism, as well as Leydi, who I'm still not sure if she actually gave her baby my name... Haha, who knows?  I remember Eduardo and Harold and Khiabeth, and how I always called her Khaibethamente, adding 'mente' to the end of every word possible and the 'I Saw You First' game.... I remember how when I told Adita that I was leaving, she jumped on top of me with a HUGE hug.... (not my fault, I wasn't expecting it haha) as well as the family Barahona who forgot to take out their papers when they went to Nicaragua - kind of got the feeling that they didn't really want to get married.  Sigh.... And those are the people I left behind when I  got moved to the city.  As of right now, La Conse is now the area of the Sister Training Leaders.  I sent off Hermana Cornejo to her mission, and she'll be excited to know she can go on visits with the Hermanas...  sigh.  My stories are probably all over the place... But I was starting out.  I had no idea what I was doing, BUT.... That's where I learned how to be a missionary.  With Elder Roldan, I learned to teach and focus on the people, as well as work as hard as you could every day.  It was a gift, being able to be his last companion in the mission.  Elder Tuft taught me how to be obedient with exactness, as well as how to be consistent - how to be the same person, no matter where you are.  It was really the perfect first area - and the perfect preparation.  And thus - my time in the east began, and finished in three short changes.  I had no idea what else was waiting for me - but I knew that I was ready.  As I got on the bus towards my next area, I remember making a promise that I would go back someday.  I knew I wasn't going to go back during the mission - so that promise lays in wait.  And thus, I made my way to city - and towards the next six months of my life.  

Talk to you guys next week.  Love you all, and hope that all is well - you already know what to do!

Elder Kristian Huff

Monday, June 13, 2016

The Best Days of My Life - Part 1 of 8 (CCM)

Hey Everybody.

So, as I'm sure you've all noticed....  I'm coming home very soon.  Too soon. But... I can't change it.  Nor would I change it - the time has been amazing, and I know it can't stay the same forever, or it wouldn't be a mission. I know it has to come to a end.  So.... I've decided to take these last few weeks to look, one more time, at the story of my mission.  Every week will be dedicated to one of the places I've served in, starting from the beginning and finishing my last Preparation Day in the mission.  

Two years in 8 messages.  Here we go.


It all began the day I said goodbye to my family.  We were in the Salt Lake Airport, and as I passed the line towards the plane, I found myself next to another future missionary.  We were both sobbing, and when we passed by security, I asked his name.  He told me his name was Elder Jolley.  Elder James Jolley - little did we know, that we would come to be each other's first companion in the mission.  After two long flights, one to L.A. and the other to Guatemala, we eventually found ourselves on the buses of Guatemala, heading towards the CCM - I remember that I gave some guy 5 dollars to shine my shoes - in my defense, I had no idea that shoe shining was a profession.  But dang - he did well.  

Then came our first day.  We met our teachers of the following 6 weeks:  Hermana Cuque, Hermana Garcia, Hermano Romero and Hermano Escobar.  Every one an amazing teacher, and each one having left their mark on our lives by their words and experiences.  A group of 10 Elders came to be known as District Lucas - a mix of missionaries heading to Honduras, El Salvador, and one towards Guatemala.  Our little family was made up of the following missionaries:

Elder Woods
Elder Clark
Elder Marriott
Elder Kimball
Elder McKell
Elder Newey
Elder Hamilton
Elder Coe
Elder Jolley
Elder Huff

And we came to be very close friends, even until now.  Many of us still write each other - and we came to depend on each other a ton.  We learned together, ate together, cried together, slept together (in a totally missionary-approved way in those bunks beds that were hot as freak), and really lived together for those 6 weeks.  All of us had different struggles, whether it was with language, testimony, teaching skills, change of climate, change of food, being far from home, feeling alone, missing girlfriends, missing best friends, missing music, missing cell phones, or maybe that one time they shaved our heads like as if we were heading into the army, when it was burning hot, when it was raining so hard you couldn't go outside, or really every other funny or hard moment, we were brothers.  Almost every night, the hallways recognized District Lucas by the tones of 'Army of Helaman' as we returned to our rooms to rest until 6:25 the following morning.  

We worked hard every day for those 6 weeks, in strict preparation.  Studying language, studying scriptures, studying Preach my Gospel and then studying the language a little more, we prepared ourselves to be servants of the Lord.  

But let's be straight - We had NO idea what we were doing, nor what we were getting into.  We tried to beat one another in vocab, knowing useless words like 'shark' and 'dried peach half.'  In other moments we pushed each other, like having the 'No Hablo Ingles' tag at the bottom of our plaques.  In some moments, we had a taste of the real field, such as going through the temple in complete spanish, and then thinking we had an idea what was being said ('OH, it's all done in VOSOTROS??').  But little by little, however hopeless our teaching skills and pitiful our spanish accent - we slowly got really sick of the CCM and REALLY ready to get into the real world.  Our last day in the CCM, I go up on the table during lunch, and in front of the whole CCM, I sung a few songs that I had promised a friend that I would sing (You raise me up, Elder Evans). I think I even made Hermana Cox cry, and Presidente Cox asked for an encore - that was a fun day.  When the night came that we had to leave, we all got on the bus at 4:00 in the morning heading towards the Guatemala City Airport, with our faithful Latin companions as well:

Elder Geronimo
Elder Quintanar
Elder Villanueva
Elder Lopez
Elder Olivares
Elder Maldonado
Hermana Gutierrez
Hermana Mamani
Hermana Arango 
Hermana Corcuera

And, arriving first in El Salvador, and then to Honduras, sitting next to Elder Clark, we began in the Honduras Tegucigalpa Mission.  We stayed the night in a hotel with a great buffet, learned how to use a pila for the first time, and spent one more night talking about all that we hoped to achieve during the next 2 years.  The came the first morning of our first changes....  And that is where the mission really began.

Love you guys.  Talk to you all soon.

Elder Kristian Huff