Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Those cool Santa Barbara nights

Hello Family and Friends,
It has been cooling down more and more here in Santa Barbara and each night I get to use the blanket that grandma made for me, I like the cold much better than the heat. I have had many experiences this week that have helped give me a greater perspective on missionary work, service, and life in general. 
I am very thankful for the experiences that I am having and for the help and support of those who have pushed and encouraged me, I know that these experiences and learning doesn't just happen for no reason.  I know Heavenly Father gives each one of us what we need and even the people that we need too. 

This week we spent an entire day helping the branch president, President Lopez, paint his house. It hurt our weekly stats a little bit, but we talked with him about the history of Santa Barbara and how far it has come in the church. Presidnet Lopez has been the branch prez for 3 years and when he arrived the church only had an asistance of 41 members, and they were basically teaching apostasy from what he tells us. Now we have around 120 attendance and will probably be a ward soon. 
This week, starting on the 4th, the fair came to Santa Barbara! Tons of people set up shop in el Centro ( our area) and sell stuff! food, souveniers, etc. It has been packed every single night and we have been handing out pass along cards to many people, although many of the people are not from here, we run into many people that do live in our area too. It is one of the many little culture things that I love about Santa Barbara. Some stuff I still dont like but it has grown on me alot. 
This week I have also been saying goodbye to many of the members because I will be changing areas tomorrow. I am very sad to leave Santa Barbara, but I know that change can help us grow. I have made some great friends here and I am very thankful for the relationships that I have made here. I hope that I have made as much an impact on them as they have on me. I am very thankful for the many relationships that I have had in my life. I didnt realize how important relationships with others are, but it is one of the most important things in this life. Jesus was a perfect example of making great relationships, although many rejected, he was the best friend anyone could ever ask for. I am so thankful for all of those who have been great friends to me, many of you have! and I will send some pictures of the friends I have made in my time here.

Mom and Dad asked me a few questions so I will conclude with a few answers.

How is Chandler doing?
You know me, I am doing fine. I worry all the time (like mom) but I think that is what it is. I am enjoying being in Honduras, more than I did before anyways. I hope that the ¨Chandler¨that you know is being changed. I often feel like I dont like the Chandler that you guys know, because he has many faults. So I am trying ( and usually failing) to improve the old Chandler so that I can be an improved version of myself.

Is he getting more comfortable with Spanish?
Yes. I found myself getting frustrated with spanish, but my companion Elder Markus reminded me that if I went back to get a job in the states, I would be able to do everything that I need to do. It is true. I make my way around, teach the lessons, buy what I need to buy, tell people what I need to tell them. I will continue to learn, but I am more comfortable than before.

What is the difference between learning to teach in the MTC and actually teaching?
Everything. If I had to pick to learn spanish in the street or in a book I would have never gone to the MTC. Teaching comes from practicing with real people. If I sit in the classroom and practice with my companion I will gain very little experience. For missionaries to learn the rules and get a few good meals the MTC is fine, but learning to teach comes from talking to the lady thats telling me that I am worshipping satan if I celebrate Christmas.

Are the people where you are poor?  How does that affect you?
Yes they are poor. Almost everyone makes money buy going up in the mountains and cutting coffee. they take the coffee plant and they pick the coffee beans off of it one by one. If its in season they can get about 9 bags. each bag they pick they get paid 30 limpiras for 9 bags thats about 13 bucks a day.  Right now it is not the season and they get about 3 bags a day which is about 4.50. They use that to buy food for their family. There is not much in the budget for much else. How does this effect me? everything is super cheap and I am gaining weight because I can buy a lot more food than I normally could. But it also helps me to be more willing to buy someone a baleada or give them a few limps.

Since you have learned the church in Honduras, what does it make you think about the Church here in America?
Although the culture is different, this is something that Elder Markus and I were discussing. My testimony has grown in part because the church is the same here and in the US. The people, no. But the same rules, handbooks, 3 hours of church, sacrament every week, president and his councilors, etc. The other churches may have some type of structure in the states but I dare you to come here and tell me that the catholic church teaches the same things in the US as they do here in Honduras, its just not the same. The church is true, no matter where you are!

What is the biggest difference(s) between Cedar City and San Pedro Sula?
Alot more drunk people in the street, and people are much more comfortable with confrontations here. It is alot more dirty here too. It is basically a giant trash can. But in San Pedro there are buildings and roads and normal things like that so maybe not too different. haha

I love you all and I hope you have a great week! I am thankful for all of you and for the relationship that we have!

Elder Dowell