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

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