Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Email 29 August 2011

Dear Beloved Family,
This week, a lot has happened... Changes. Adventures. Experiences. Wow. The mission just brings all kinds of interesting events in my life.
Anyways, we'll get to the main point. Last Tuesday I found out changes... In our Zone Meeting we were talking about all the new things in the mission, for example Area Books are now part of the work. I have never used one up to this point, so that is weird haha. While talking about it, the Zonies said to me and two other Elders in Quiche that we were going to be training and that our comps had changes. It was not very shocking because President had mentioned it to me in an email, but I just didn’t really expect it to happen... Right now I’m in Xela though. Had a "How to be a trainer" conference thing with President this morning, and for that reason I’m here. There are 16 people training in total. I will meet my kid [new companion] at some point tomorrow afternoon. We'll see how everything works out though. I’m kind of worried about it to be honest haha. Nervous would be a better word. Not a lot of time though, so I’ll move on quickly...
This past week I went on two little adventures. We had our favorite member family invite us on a little "hike", so we went with them knowing it was Swapp's last week there. The hike was not a small one. It was straight up... Very steep and very tall. Once we eventually made it to the top, we were above the clouds. It was beautiful. We got so high that the water was actually pure enough to drink (didn’t try it though considering my condition....). We also got to parts where we had to use a machete to cut down plants because people hadn’t been there in so long. It was a beautiful, amazing feeling though. Really helps me appreciate the process of the creation. The world is lovely.
The other adventure was with the son of the same family. Swapp and I helped his family move houses and such, which by the way....Granddaddy would have had a heart attack if he saw how people loaded and moved things here. We had our lunch with them like usual, but while eating they were like, "You guys need to go to the 'Grutas' to see what they are like before Swapp goes." So we went. The kid, Alex, showed us the way... It took us a little bit to get there, but we made it and it was beautiful like the mountain view. The "Grutas" is a little waterfall/cave place. It is hard to explain, but I’ll do my best to send some pictures and then you'll see what it is like. I loved it though.
Other news... I remember telling you guys about the drunk guy in Cunen that always bothers us and would just pop up out of nowhere. Good news with him. He has been sober the last couple weeks. Don’t know what happened in his life, but he looks happier and acts a lot more normal. I’ll have to try and talk with him soon, to see what he is like now. Maybe something positive will come out of him.
The parasite thing may still be an issue. I don’t want anyone to worry though because I’m going to be getting it checked out soon. Maybe tomorrow if we can manage to have a bit of spare time. Who knows? I don’t feel sick... But seriously, I don’t want anyone to be stressing over it. I’ll manage it fine.
Sunday we had our "District Conference". All the branches in Quiche met together in the main part of Quiche. 425 people showed up, which is supposedly a record. Our branch lacked a lot of people though... We were planning for around 60 people... Only 35 came. There was a huge rain storm, Saturday night, which supposedly caused a landslide on the road between Utspantan and Cunen, so no one could pass through from there. We lost quite a few people with that. We were sad about it, but that is the life in sketchy places. Swapp took all of his bags with us, so we just stayed in Quiche all day yesterday. We actually did an appointment for the Zone Leaders because they didn’t have time. The lady fed us fish, which I was quite nervous about. It ended up being delicious though :) She cooked Marlin for us. It was amazing... Never thought I would like any fish, but I liked this one! haha.
That was my week though. Got my hair cut, so I’m back to very clean cut haha. I’ve been saying bye to quite a few people going home... Two are from Arizona actually (Glendale and Queen Creek). It has been sad. Has made me kind of homesick. I’ll be home someday though, so nothing to be sad about really.
I’m excited for this new experience I’m about to have. It is about to happen.... Just hopefully I’m going to be able to manage it well!
I love you all soooo much and miss you guys as well! Have great weeks. Smile :)
Love, Elder Bitner


August 14, 2011

I’m writing this during the third hour of church because we don’t have a Priesthood class. It has been like that for more than a year now. I don’t understand it, but we all know I’m not one to question things I’ll let things be until someone with more authority comes and decides to change things up a bit haha. The women stay and have Relief Society and all the men just leave. Shows the dedication, right?
It has been a fun week though. I swear I say that same thing every week… I was on changes with Elder King – I love that kid and we painted a room in a house. I visited this one family with him in his branch. They live without power…without light…While we were there, one of the girls was doing her homework while holding a small little candle that was almost, if not, burning her fingers. They had nothing… I just remember the mom saying, “I’m poor, but I’m always happy.” People like them are what really put life in perspective for me. Helps me realize and remember that God does live and that only through him can we truly be happy. He can bless our lives in ways that we don’t ever think of, He, for example, blessed this lady to be poor so she might have a greater appreciation for everything around her, especially her family. It really brought my soul down to its knees. It humbled me. Those experiences are the best ones on the mission. They show the true beauties and riches of life. I stand all amazed at things I witness and am able to grow from. Oh how lucky I am. How great is my joy that all is well in both the good and the bad.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Email 22 August 2011

Hi buddies...
So I’m kind of out of it right now. Getting here to Quiche from Cunen was an absolute nightmare. We waited an hour and a half for a bus... We had 4 pass us, but none would stop for us because they were already way too full. One eventually came and let everyone pack in. I was smashed in the back seat with 4 other grown men. It was not at all pleasant... I have a major headache and am just very confused on all kinds of things haha. I did make it though, and here I am.
So last week's P-Day was kind of complicated as some might have noticed because I wasn’t able to read or respond to quite a few emails from friends and such... It was ridiculous. I feel bad, but hopefully I’ll be able to write nice big emails to everyone today...
Last week I forgot to mention what we did for P-Day. We went to a place called Chichicastenango, which is a little city here in Quiche. It has the second biggest market in all of Guatemala, so it is pretty popular... We met at the church there and played some soccer. First time I’ve played that in quite some time... After sports, we went and ate at a pretty nice restaurant (the menus are in English too). I just got a steak type thing. It was good, but not nearly what it is in the states... As we were leaving the restaurant a bunch of girls came up to us and asked for pictures with us. They were from LA. They are Guatemalan but have lived in LA a long time, and they are supposedly good friends with the missionaries in LA... It was just weird. We did take a picture with them though. 10 Missionaries and a few 20 year old girls haha. Then I came back to Quiche with King and that is when I used the internet. We had to leave quickly though to make some scone dough for a family home evening we were going to. Complicated day...
So I have developed a new love for the corte here. I’m starting to buy pieces of it to have ties made. Each piece of corte is like 40 quetz [US $5.15], and you can get 3 ties from each piece. Each tie to make costs 38 quetz, so it adds up. I sent a piece of corte in to get some made, so I should get them this week. I’m pretty excited about the whole thing...
Once we got back to Cunen on Tuesday we had our weekly activity...This time we had it in a family's house though. We were put in charge of the games like always... haha. We played charades. Everyone was really confused at first, but eventually they figured it out. They had a lot of fun with it actually... For the last round they decided Swapp and I had to do it to see which team would win. Swapp had to act out a jellyfish.... His team couldn’t guess it. I had to act out a peacock.... My team guessed it :) haha. I was wearing my sweater, so I took it and got on my knees and crawled around periodically throwing my sweater up behind me like feathers. I don’t know how they understood what I was doing, but it was quite awesome haha.
Anyways... Guess what program I got to use this week ;) Photoshop! haha. We went to the house of the lady we eat lunch with to help her a little bit. Her son ended up being on the computer trying to make business cards for his dad using Photoshop. I saw it, and I just got so excited... haha. I sat down next to him and began to help him figure out how to do things because he was just learning how to do it.
Now to more talk about ties :) We went to a few different cities this week to do some visits. Utspantan like normal, but also a place called Nebaj. We searched a few pacas there and found some legit ties... I was so excited. Found a bunch of nice Canali brand ties with tags still attached and everything. It was awesome... haha. It is my goal to come home with as many ties as Derek did haha. We'll see if that is actually possible though.
Amidst all this goodish news....there is some bad news. I have been having problems with my backpack... The pocket made for a cd player or just electronics in general has come to an end. The zipper on it just disappeared! Don’t even know where it went, but now that pocket doesn’t serve so it just stays open all day, which isn’t a good thing when it starts to rain. Now I have two zippers broken... Told you guys we should have just gotten a cheaper one.
Back to some fun stuff though - I have been getting a lot of kisses lately. Don’t go raising assumptions now... They are the branch Presidents daughters haha. One is 5 and the other is 6, I think. They always tell me they have something to say to me, so I bend down and they kiss my cheek haha. It is pretty adorable in all honesty... Just hopefully I don’t get sent home for it ;)
Remember how in Colo I would ride on the back bumper of the trucks? Well if you thought that was bad.... I rode on top of a bus Saturday haha. It was a lot of fun. Something I have been wanting to do for a while in fact haha. I’ll be safe though ;)
Well, that is my week... Hopefully all is going well back home. Happy birthday to Grandpa Bitner! Good luck to Granddaddy on his knee replacement. Welcome home Tyler. I don’t know what else to address haha. Hang in there though. I miss you all and love you all very much :) You guys are the best! Smile :) and be happy...
David! aka Elder Bitner

Monday, August 15, 2011

Email 15 August 2011

Luis David Rivera Villatoro
To All My Beautiful People Back Home :)
What's happening? So I have become the Elder that spends the most time on internet, so I’m going to try and live up to that name haha. Kidding of course. I get to hear from sooo many people back home though, so it takes up a lot of my time. Can’t complain though! I love hearing from everyone :)
First off, I’ll address the whole "parasite" thing. I think I’m fine now. I haven’t asked anyone about it though. I haven’t seen anything too crazy I don’t think for a while, so I’m not going to complain about it right now. I am sick right now though. Started yesterday when I woke up. Just like a cold though. Runny nose, itchy throat, and coughing a lot... I still have some Halls from the last time you sent them, so that is making it all the better too haha. It did keep me in the house practically all day yesterday though. The rain and cool air was not something that would have helped me out a lot. I’m feeling somewhat better today though, so don’t worry about me!
Anyways... We did have our baptism Saturday. Went through and everything. We baptized the little boy, Luis David Rivera Villatoro. Swapp did the baptism. I gave a talk... I hate talks. Everything went well though. Quite a few people showed up in fact, so that was nice. He had quite a bit of support :) He was a little scared to get in the water, but he eventually got in, which means the deed was done. My talk was about the Holy Ghost. Went pretty bad to be honest... I wasn’t very ready for it, but whatever I guess. After the baptism though, we had a little refreshment that the Grandmother made. Then all the Relief Society had a cooking class on how to make cookies, so we just stayed in the church with all the members for a long time. While the women were cooking, I was out back with the men and kids playing soccer and volleyball haha. That is how it should be ;) right? Kidding... I know that men should help cook once in a while. It was a very fun day though. I really like Cunen and the people there. Really have come to love the area.
So instead of traveling back to Cunen after our Zone Meeting last week, I stayed here in Quiche with Elder King :) My good old buddy haha. His comp went back with Swapp, so they could do the baptismal interview. I really enjoyed my time with King though. Felt like our days back in Cerrito and La Viña. Miss those days in fact... With him though, we did a lot of visits that first Tuesday afternoon. Wednesday we woke up and fixed some ties we bought in pacas Monday (beautiful ties in fact....found one that everyone says is the most beautiful one found in a paca :) We just ironed them with a cooking pan, trying to get all the wrinkles out. After that we went and did some service. We painted a room. Reminded me of when we painted everything back home... It was a lot of fun being and working with King :)
We have been preparing for a District Conference that is coming up here soon. For those that don’t know, a District Conference is the same thing as a Stake Conference... Just a name change because there are only branches here in the Department of Quiche. No wards whatsoever. Swapp and I went and made some invitations though for it. That was pretty fun. Cunen is supposed to bring 75 people, so we have been having to do a lot of inactive visiting... Funny thing is, no one in the branch even knows the people listed as inactives, so that kind of complicates things.
I finally started up Spanish study again... haha. Hadn’t done it for a long time. Just never had time because of the schedule in Colo. Now I am able to though :) The Spanish is good though. I can understand basically everything. I can get my point across too, I just wish I knew a lot more vocabulary. That is by far the most boring thing to study though. I’m getting better though :)
So yesterday at church... We didn’t think anyone was going to come. There was some big Political thing going on in Cunen that all the teenagers and teachers (lots of people in the branch are teachers) had to go to for school. Turned out to be our biggest church meeting yet though haha. 46 people in total. There were 7 inactives :), 2 recent converts, and 3 investigators. We were pretty amazed on how it all turned out. Things really are picking up. Cunen is a great place :)
Before I end, I’ll just mention the Cunen Drunk guy. I have not seen him once sober...and that is pretty impressive because I see him everyday haha. He always comes up and tries to talk to me. He has a pretty good English accent. Just lacks in the grammar. He always tells me how much his heart hurts... I just tell him, "Well duh! You drink all day, every day! What do you expect?" He kind of laughs and then asks for money and that is where I leave him. Drunks are in all parts of Guatemala. Not just Colo haha. It is ridiculous...
That was my week though. Nice to have a baptism again. Last one was in March... Quite a while ago. Hopefully I continue to find success. I started the New Testament this past week. Almost done with Matthew. I’m actually starting to like the Bible now. Take that back... The Old Testament still is rough - big time haha. Matthew 10:34 is my favorite thus far. Jesus is the man.
Well, hang in there everyone! I love you all so very much :) Have good weeks and be happy! Smile :) Miss you.
David!-Elder Bitner
Font underneath Stage

Monday, August 8, 2011

Email 8 August 2011

Hey everybody :)
I got the most emails ever this week... 30. So this might be a short-ish one haha. Hope everything is going great though. Sounds like lots of things are happening out of nowhere, so that is a little interesting. I just pray everything works out well! The purchases and knee replacements and other stuff like that... Can’t believe a bunch of my friends are coming home already though. My day will come. As for now though, I’ll just keep pressing forward...
We'll start off with Monday... After Internet, we went back to our Zone Leader's house and ordered Dominos to celebrate an Elder's birthday...
Something a little more interesting/gross would be I might be sick...and by sick I mean.... sick haha. The other day I had a little bathroom trip, and when I flushed there was one little thing left. It was this weird substance with weird, worm-like creatures coming out of it haha. I don’t know what that means exactly, so who knows if I have something or not... I’m sending the picture to Derek so he can give me his official Doctor's opinion. I’m feeling better now though. Last week I did have some problems... That is for sure haha. [ Note from Mom – I got a hold of Dr. Bitner who said that he emailed David back (after receiving his emailed picture) that he needed some anti-parasite medicine and to not email him pictures like that.]
We were finally able to start a weekly activity. We did the first one Tuesday night, and now they will happen every Tuesday night. It is called "Noche de Hermanomiento", which is just Fellowship Night... Swapp and I were in charge of this first one just so we could get everyone back into it, but now the members are going to be switching off having it in their homes. For ours we just shared a short message together and then we played some fun little games. For refreshments, we paid this poor, single mother that is a member, to make some tostada things, and then we made a drink called Atol, which is just rice, milk, sugar, and cinnamon all mixed together haha. Better than it sounds... I love it a lot :)
This past week we woke up early one morning to go play some Frisbee in the back of the church. Just a little random thing we did. It was fun though... Got us warmed up for this morning haha. We played ultimate Frisbee at the church this morning with the Zone. Lots of fun...
Something I haven’t done since the first week of my mission is divisions with members. We were able to do it this past week though. I went with Eulogio Gomez, a guy that just got back from the states a few months ago (doesn’t speak English though), and my comp with Jacinto Rodriguez, who is the only guy in our branch with a vehicle haha. With Eulogio, we just went to one house to try and talk with the family of a recent 10 year old convert. Only her and her little siblings were there though, so we just set up another appointment to go back when the mom would be there (which fell through as well...still haven’t been able to talk to the mom.). It took us about 5 minutes haha. We got back about 2 minutes after my comp and the other guy left, so I just chilled with his family. The divisions were fun though. It feels weird to be away from another missionary haha.
On Thursday we had out Zone meeting... Lots of things happened there. President Bautista has officially taken over the mission. All of Lorenzana's rules are gone. Everything is new now. We basically just have to abide by what the "White Bible" says. We have a little more freedom now haha. Money is going to be a lot tighter though. He is very strict on that...
I went to Utspantán again this week. The guy with the vehicle in our branch drove us out there to do some inactive visits. We did 3 visits, and they were all pretty good so that was good. We have a district conference (because there are only branches in Quiche), so each branch is supposed to bring a certain amount of people. Cunén has to bring 80 people or something. With an average attendance of 35, that is going to be really hard. We are trying to visit and commit a lot of people to coming. Hopefully we will be able to meet the branch's goal.
We officially have a lady that makes lunches for us now. We pay her 15 Quetzales a meal and go Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday to eat with her. They are good meals too. She can cook :) And it happens to be the mom of my favorite family in the branch, so that just makes it all the better.
Finished all the Conference talks from last session. I love reading them...
That is about it though. I’m glad to hear all is well, as it always should be. Hang in there everybody. I’ll keep enjoying my time here. I love you all and miss you all sooo very much! Take care. Smile :)
The good old Elder David Bitner
Top:  Slug by my bed, Bottom:  Sketchy bug in Shower

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Email 1 August 2011

Note from MOM - Dad wants everyone who might not know that you can click on the picture to make it full size.

Another week down... About 51 more to go.
So I have officially hit that year mark as everyone seems to be aware of. No one has forgot about me yet, so that is good... haha. It is still hard to imagine I have been here this long. Next month, I’ll only have 11 months left. I’ll have more time than I have left, or something like that. Not sure how to describe it haha. Pretty cool though :) So far it has been a fun adventure. Couldn’t ask for anything better. Well, to the week...
So now that we live 2 hours away, we stay the night at the Zonies house. Last Monday I got to go on Divisions with Elder King, my buddy that was with me for Christmas and New Years :) We were able to have some fun with a recent convert family of his, so it was a nice night. On Tuesdays we have our District Meetings, which really is just a Zone meeting here because there are no Districts haha. 12 people in total, with every single one of them being from the states :) Therefore, we get to have our meetings in ENGLISH! haha. A definite plus on things... We aren’t staying the night tonight though because our meeting was changed to another day this week, so we'll see what happens. I’m not excited to travel another 2 hours tonight because the trip from and to Cunen isn’t all that fun. I feel sick and such, every time we get out. It is miserable. This morning we turned the trip into an hour and a half though. Somehow the driver knocked off the other half hour. Still confused on how that happened exactly haha.
We finally got pillows :) Now sleeping is better. I’m not having to use two towels folded up in a pillow case! Nice change...
On Wednesday we decided to take another adventure to the waterfall. And by we decided, I mean I convinced my comp to go haha. We called it a part of my year celebration, even though that was Thursday. After quite a bit of walking and such on some rather sketchy paths and bridges made of trees at points, we found it. We actually got stuck at one part by the river. We ended up having to jump, and I mean jump....rock to rock to get across to the other path. It was awesome haha. When we finally made it to the main part, I was just amazed. We had to cross two tree bridges across some pretty fast flowing parts, so that was kind of scary for me. But I got over it after a few times across it. We actually were able to use that tripod you sent me! That little thing is so legit haha. I had it around a tree at one point... On very unlevel surfaces. I can’t believe it... Allowed for some really good pictures in fact! I loved it sooo much. So much in fact that I ended up taking 199 pictures on the adventure haha. I still like taking pictures as you can see :) Just can’t wait to use Photoshop again someday. But honestly, I was so amazed by the whole experience. Waterfalls are awesome. Way better when they are just in the middle of a mountain, with all kinds of jungle like around it. Have to find some more now...
As for my year mark day or "Hump day", as some call it. It felt really good. Woke up thinking, "Halfway done...Wow that went fast." Anyways, in the morning... We had our weekly planning session. Boring... It does help at least though. We also got ice cream in the morning to celebrate :) That was pretty awesome haha. We got what are called Bombas from a place called Sarita. A Bomba consists of a scoop of ice cream (I got strawberry), then banana chopped up, followed by some topping (I got caramel), then 2 more scoops of ice cream (chocolate and vanilla is what I got), then some peaches, topped off with chocolate syrup, whipped cream, a cherry, and a wafer. It was awesome... I think I’m addicted to them now in fact haha. In the afternoon, we went and had lunch with a member family. Then the dad/husband of that family took us out to get to know some of the houses of some of the members that live far away. We traveled pretty far in fact. Went to La Barranka to meet a lady... Then to La Hacienda to meet another lady... And finally to Utspantán to meet another family. It was there in Utspantán that it began to rain very very hard haha. The guy we were with didn’t have anything, so I let him use my rain jacket... My comp used his... and I used.... Well, I used nothing haha. I was soaking wet by the time we got to the family we were going to visit. The lady there was nice enough to give me a towel to dry myself off a bit though, so that was cool. At that house we put a fecha (baptismal date) with a kid that hadn’t been baptized... He is only 9. He is scared of water though, so that will be fun to overcome. It was a fun little trip with the guy though. He is really nice. He just got back from the state’s 3 months ago. Speaks no English however. Such a nice guy. His wife is the lady that washes our clothes in fact and now we are going to pay her for lunches certain days of the week. Familia Gomez Gonzalez is their name. Great people :) At night, I celebrated by having what I called "Baggy Night", or some would say "Trunky Night". I ate Macaroni and Cheese with a Coke, while watching my videos from home haha. It was awesome... didn’t get too homesick though ;)
Friday morning we did some service. I was able to cut some grass with a machete again. It was fun haha. Almost something I want to do at home, but it is just pointless in the end. Just the thought of you holding a machete cutting grass is cool haha. I got a big blister on my thumb though. Not so cool.
I have been able to become good friends with all the little kids in the branch. They love me haha. I have some girls teaching me some of their little girl hand games in fact! I’m learning a lot of fun things right now. It is awesome... Not going to lie, I love my area.
So today for P-day, we had some fun. This morning we visited some ruins here in the main part of Quiche. They are just now starting to uncover them. Only one is uncovered though. The rest have grass and plants all over them. It is like the Book of Mormon! When the cities were taken by the earth. Pretty neat :) There are some caves at the place too. We walked through them. Felt really good until you get to the very back and you have the sketchy old people lighting candles everywhere. There were a ton of people doing rituals there in fact. Kinda scary to be honest haha. We went for a hike to try and find some arrowheads and such. We found some pieces of pottery... So that is kind of cool haha. We also had a football and frisbee, so we threw those around for a while. Squeezed 10 of us into a bus already full... It was a mess. Good day thus far though...
Life is good. Cunen may not be Huehue, but it is still awesome. All kinds of neat stuff and neat people. We have found a few people to teach... So far the only baptism looks to be that 9 year old boy. I love you all sooo very much! Have great weeks and smile at life because it is nothing but beautiful :)
David-Elder Bitner