Monday, November 28, 2011

Email 28 November 2011

Hello Folks,
So surprise! I’m not actually in Totonicapan like expected. Elder King lied to me about that... haha. I’m actually in Xela, aka Quetzaltenango. Strange right? I sure didn’t expect it. I’m in an area called El Prado with a kid named Elder Callejas. This is his 3rd change... He has just about 5 months. I’m his second companion. At least he speaks Spanish haha. He is from El Salvador, but not really... He moved to the states when he was 12. Has lived in Draper, Utah ever since. For that, he knows English as well haha. Not bad right? My new Zone is called El Bosque, which is also the name of the stake I’m in. It has been quite different being in Xela to be honest. Pure city, and my area is one of if not the smallest areas in Xela, if not the mission.
Thus far I have enjoyed it though. The assistance yesterday was 112. Not bad compared to Cunen... We live in a legit house. It has a freaking water heater... I haven’t seen one of those in who knows how long. You can see the temple from my area. It may be a ways away, but it is still quite the sight at night :) The craziest part is the work. This past week has just about killed me. Walking so much... Doing so many things... It is ridiculous. My first day (last Tuesday) I walked 15.7 miles. Wow it killed me. Being in Xela means a lot more with the temple. We got many references everyday from people going to the temple. At night, our leaders would give us a new list and we would have to contact them the next day. We have gotten quite a few investigators from that...
The temple really has impacted the mission, especially here in Xela. For the two week open house, the goal was to have 80,000 people pass through. By the end of it all, 126,000 people had gone through. Crazy stuff. I was able to go again Thursday (Thanksgiving) and Saturday (the last day). Saturday was insane... So many people. Such long lines. It was remarkable in my mind. I even saw a kid from my CCM district that went to the Coast mission. That was really cool to see him. Elder Lechtenberg is his name... We had a nice time catching up and what not haha. Everyone I have talked to has loved it. They all think it is beautiful. They all just say "Les felcito", which I congratulate you guys haha. Random thing to say, but hey! At least people are noticing it.
So for Thanksgiving....... I did absolutely nothing. No turkey. No stuffing. No mashed potatoes. Nothing... I did get to go to the temple, so that made up for it quite a bit. A lady in our ward told me that I need to eat 2 meals next year to make up for. She lived in the states for a total of 30 years, so she not only speaks English, but also understands how things work there. I like her haha. I forgot it even was Thanksgiving until like midday. It took me by surprise. The only down fall of the day was losing my suit clip on nametag from the MTC. Oh well though... Next year's will be better :)
This past week I finished the New Testament. I love it...
The ward I’m in is really cool. I have already made pretty good friends with the people. I even went on divisions with this 16 year old in the temple Thursday. That was a lot of fun for me haha. We get lunches every day, and everyone is rather rich, so they are usually nice lunches. My companion has been telling me that even sometimes we get steaks, but we'll have to see how those actually are haha. I’m liking it for now. It really is kicking my butt though. Haven’t worked so much in some time now. So much to do for just about the first time in my mission. Maybe I’ll actually see some success in this area. You just never know...
Today I have 16 months. Another one down...just 8 more to go. Time is flying by as always. The mission is good for now. Life is good. Hope all is going well back home! I miss you guys so much. I hope Becky is hanging in there alright. I love you Becky :) Take care everyone. Love you all!
Elder db
Temple from David's area
Elder Lechtenberg

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Email 21 November 2011

Hi guys,
So I read an email from Becky today. As you can imagine, I’m a little shocked. Pretty sad too... Hopefully things work out for the best. Not going to lie, I didn’t really expect that today.
Anyways, about the week... It was actually pretty good. I’ve been really happy with it. It was my last week here in Quiche though. I have changes tomorrow morning. I’ll be going to Toto as expected. My companion will be Elder Ramirez from Peru. I’m pretty excited about the whole thing. I actually get along with Ramirez pretty well. I have heard mixed opinions on the actual area. A guy in my Zone right now actually was there a few months back so he has been giving me a lot of info on it. But yeah, I’ll be there tomorrow! I get to know another big place in the mission :) A guy from my Zone right now that was training with me is actually going to be my Zone Leader too, so we are both pretty excited about that haha.
This past week we did quite a bit of things. We went and visited this one family as we were waiting for the mom to get home; my companion and I had a dodge ball fight with the daughters haha. Except, we used flowers instead of balls. It was legit. It was the most fun I have had with a member family in a while. It was actually the same family I wrote about before. The ones that lived with no power and she told me she was happy because she was poor. You guys might remember, but maybe not... I love them though.
I went to Chichicastenango this past week to try and find some recent converts that hadn’t been ordained to the priesthood. Turned out they were busy though... Luckily Chichi is the second biggest market in Guatemala, so I bought a few things. Dropped some money, if you know what I mean. Mainly just bought things for you guys...but I did buy myself a Mayan chess set. Handmade and everything. I’m just hoping it doesn’t break in my suitcase over these next months.
So the highlight of my week was Saturday. The trip to the temple. We woke up at 4:30 to meet up with everyone in Central Park at 5. We left around 5:30 and got there a little before 8. I did the 2 hour bus ride standing up too.... Killed me basically. I was already tired because I only got 4 hours of sleep due to me preparing pictures for the Cunen members. I actually did get to see all the Cunen people :) That was really awesome. It was hard to say bye again though... They were all pretty excited to see me. They even gave Denison and me 2 breakfast meal thingies haha. It was legit. Anyways, before entering the temple they showed us a movie. We did it by groups... The movie was just about temples in general and the church growth specifically in Quetzaltenango. It was pretty cool. I want a copy of it... After the movie some kids put the little white booties on (barely fit the gringos feet), and then we entered :) It is beautiful.... Soooo beautiful. I was amazed. The baptismal font is by far the prettiest one in the church. I can’t even describe it to be honest. From the pictures I thought the Celestial room was going to be kind of ugly, but wow... That blew me away too. The paintings in the temple are amazing. Especially the two in the font. They are ginormous. It is straight ridiculous. I really just want to go back to be honest... It was an amazing place to be. I really miss temples. I haven’t been to one in some 14 months. Hopefully that changes here soon haha. Right as we were about to leave guess who showed up... Cuque! It was awesome haha. I love that guy. We ended up talking for quite some time. The temple really was amazing though. I still can’t believe how beautiful it is. That font.... Wow. We actually had a lady here in Quiche tell us that the temple was "too nice", that it needs to be more "humble because Christ was born in a manger". She made me mad... haha.
[See more Temple pictures at: Quetzaltenango Temple Open House ]
Yesterday during church there was a general broadcast throughout all of Guatemala from Salt Lake. Some special conference... Elder Clark of the Seventy spoke (he was the guy that always came and talked to our mission). Elder Holland as well. And even President Uchtdorf. Something that I didn’t expect was Holland speaking Spanish. He only started and ended in Spanish. He did his actual talk in English because he said his Spanish was horrible and terrible. Everyone laughed when he said that haha. His Spanish definitely wasn’t great, but I didn’t even know he kind of could speak. Really cool to hear him speak it. They all just talked about the blessings of the temple and such. Trying to get people to prepare themselves to enter. It was pretty neat. After church, I had a jam session with the other Elder here. He played violin and I played the piano. It was awesome... He could just listen to what I played and then just improvise something. So cool... haha.
But yeah... That was my week. It was a good one! I’ll let you guys know more about Toto next week. Hope things end up fine with Becky and hope all else continues to go well. I love you all sooo much. Take care and smile :) Have great weeks.
Elder Bitner

Monday, November 14, 2011

Email 14 November 2011

Mario Anibal Avila Cortes
So this past week has been interesting. It was a lot better than I imagined to be honest. Things are good though and life is good.
I ended up staying here in Quiche with my Zone Leader. I’m just his companion though... I’m not a ZL haha, so don’t assume that. I’ll most likely leave next week (at changes), but to be honest I really don’t want to. I love Quiche. Especially here in Santa Cruz where I am. Anyways, my companion right now is Elder Denison. He is from Dallas, Texas. Legit kid. Good missionary.
It was a good first few days here because we had a baptism. A guy I found with Elder King a while back in fact. This past week we taught him a couple times and baptized him Saturday. Mario Anibal Avila Cortes is his name. 33 years old... He has changed so much since the first time I met him. He lost his dad a few weeks ago now, which is sad, but at least he has the gospel in his life now. He was the brother of a less active lady, but now he, she, and her kids are all active again :) Pretty cool to be honest. Denison did the baptism and we both stood in the circle to confirm him. It was a really neat experience considering the fact that Cunen had almost no success. We might even have a baptism this week if things work out to our favor. We can only hope...
After the baptism Saturday, we had a big activity with the branch here (FYI, branch has an average attendance of 120). It went really well. It was "La Fería de la Vida". We just had a bunch of games for people to play basically. There were 6 "worldly" games and 2 "spiritual" ones. The worldly games consisted of Frisbee golf, freethrow shots, beer pong toss (my idea), bean bag throw, potato sack race, and a target shooting thing (a member constructed some weird thing that would spin a light bulb and person playing would have to try and shoot the light bulb with a nut and a sling shot). The spiritual ones were a reference game, where people had to give us names and info for people to visit and teach. The more info, the more tickets... The other was the art game, where we would show a picture and they would have to describe to us the story shown in the picture. At the start of the activity we gave everyone five tickets. With each ticket they could play a "worldly" game to win candy or something else. When they ran out of tickets, they would have to come play the spiritual games to win more tickets if they wanted to keep playing the games. At the end of the activity, all the lights were turned off...aka the world "ended". From there each person had to receive their "final judgment". If they had more than 25 tickets they got into the celestial kingdom. About one person got in I think... If they had more 15 they received their place in the terrestrial kingdom. Maybe about 6 people made it there. With less than 15 they entered into the telestial kingdom, where more than 20 people were at least. It worked out really well. The message was well understood, so that was good. I really liked that activity though haha. No one expected the ending like that. They just thought they were going to be playing all night... I love surprises when they aren’t for me haha.
So another benefit about being here in Quiche is that the Zonies' house is legit. Gas stove....Microwave...Blender... Biggest thing for me is the huge fridge haha. The house is really close to the grocery store, so I can buy legit-ish milk now :) Big ol' galloners haha. It is way delicious. I forgot how much I love milk. I might go kind of crazy on it this week, since I’m supposed to have changes next week and no other house has such a fridge haha. I’m really trying to enjoy it while I can though.
Well, the temple is open officially. Haven’t been able to go yet... Looks like I’ll be going this Saturday though with all the branches here in Quiche, including Cunen :) I really hope it all works out... We just have to find a bunch of nonmembers to take, which is our main focus this week...finding people to go to see the temple. I really hope I’m able to go. I’ve seen pictures of the inside, and it looks beautiful. It has a lot of Mayan stuff in it supposedly too. I can’t wait to see it.
Anyways, that was my week. All is well as always. Can’t complain about anything really. out of a suitcase it kind of annoying, but it's all good. I love life. I love all of you.
Have a great week. Smile big :)
Assume the good... Doubt the bad...
Elder Bitner
From Roof of Zonies house
Our Zone before our change 
Christmas tree! Big ol' thing in the Central Park. Reminds me of Anthem.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Email 8 November 2011

So as you realized, I didn’t get on yesterday. (Note from Mom: When I didn’t hear from him I got on the internet and searched Guatemala and saw that they were electing their President and fired off an email asking if they had been locked in because of the election - it was a close election.) They changed our P-Day to today... And yes it was because of the elections. Sunday we weren’t allowed to even leave the house. Yesterday they just didn’t want us traveling for various reasons. Mainly just in case there was protesting or something. But today I’m in Quiche and all is fine government wise.
I have some pretty big news this week... Yesterday I got a phone call from Elder Lewis, the assistant, telling me and my comp that we had changes. Nice right? They are closing Cunen for the time being... My comp will be going to Xela to be with the old assistant because Elder King (my La Viña buddy) is now the new assistant. I will be going to Totonicapan supposedly. They are supposed to put me in a trio there until changes, but my Zone Leader is in a trio right now too, so we are going to try and work something out so I can just stay with him these next 2 weeks until actual changes. Yesterday we spent the entire day saying bye to the members. I guess I never realized how much I love Cunen. Last night as this little 5 year old girl gave me a hug goodbye, I cried for the first time on my mission. I was so sad... She caught us leaving the church this morning and ran up to give me one last hug....I almost lost it again. That place will always be special to me. It was really hard to say goodbye to everyone.
Anyways, about the rest of the week... We had Dia de Los Santos. That was a pointless day. Every single person in Guatemala basically just spent the entire day in the cemetery. We didn’t get a whole lot done, then again not a whole lot was done ever in Cunen, and for that they are closing it. It did happen to be Mom's birthday though. Happy birthday again mother :) Westenskow's mom's birthday was the 31st actually, so we went and celebrated, Tuesday for lunch. We went and ate at the only restaurant in Cunen. Surprisingly it was pretty good! I was a little hesitant with the bacon bit on my chicken, but I still haven’t gotten sick so high five :) That day we did visit Alvaro the "Bible Basher". He is a lost cause... We didn’t plan on visiting him ever again for various reasons, and now we definitely won’t have to. Still can’t believe I’m not going back there... Doesn’t feel real.
Wednesday we had our Zone Meeting. On the way back to Cunen from that we ended up riding the bus with 8 white people... 3 were girls from Israel. They spoke Hebrew and English. That was rather strange... 2 were a couple of guys from England and Belgium. And the other 3 were 2 guys and a girl from Australia. It was so weird haha. I talked to the British guy and one of the Australians a lot though. They were hilarious. They just asked me a lot of questions about the life as a missionary. As you can imagine, they weren’t the biggest supporters...but we did have a nice little talk. The British guy said a lot of funny thing actually haha.
But yeah, that has been my week. Not much else to even mention because I’m not going to be in Cunen anymore. A new adventure awaits me... We'll see if I end up in Toto tomorrow. You guys won’t know till next week. I’m really hoping I can just stay here for two weeks because I don’t want to be in a Trio, but we will see.
I hope all is going well back home. I miss everyone dearly. I love you guys :) Have a great week!
Elder Bitner
PS- Otto Perez won President here. I was rooting for him... He is a very intense guy. It is going to be interesting to see what happens!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Email 31 October 2011

Hey peoples,
Things are still going well still. Today is Halloween... No one here really celebrates it for those of you that have forgotten. Tomorrow is a Holiday though... "Dia de Los Santos". It is kind of like a Memorial Day in America. Everyone just goes to the cemetery and visits deceased loved ones... Tomorrow is also Mom's Birthday. Happy Birthday mom! Hope you enjoy being 54... I’ll be home to see you become a senior citizen at least haha. That will be funny... Anyways, on to the good stuff.....
Last P-Day after internet, we managed to get our hands on the board game Clue! We played it for a good while. I almost won... Didn’t though. I forgot how much I liked that game haha. That night we actually played spoons too for a family home evening. That was a lot of fun haha. Related it to Faith, Repentance, Baptism/Gift of the Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the End. It was a fun little event haha.
I hit 15 months this past week... I’m in the single digit club now. Weird to think about. It just keeps flying by!
Wednesday I went on divisions with Elder King. That was a lot of fun... We met him and his comp in a little place between Cunen and Quiche called Sacapulas. From there King and I rode on the top of a microbus back to Cunen sitting on top of boxes, holding on to little bits of string. It was a scary at parts... Especially because we were above the clouds most of the drive. Good times... He and I did a few visits that night when we got back. I really like working with him... We are able to have a lot of fun with people because his Spanish is legit. It isn’t fair. The whole purpose of the divisions was to go contact a reference we received in this far away place that missionaries haven’t been too. It is a small little city called Chajul, and it is about 2 hours north of Cunen. It was awesome... Thursday morning we left Cunen. Traveled through Nebaj and then kept on going to Chajul. The drive was sooo beautiful... Tons of huge mountains for many miles... Just covered in trees... It was sooo green haha. Nice change from the dirt of Arizona. We got to Chajul and went to the central park. There the reference met us. His name is William and he is 16. He walked us back to his house so we could visit with him. On the way there he said that his family was preparing lunch for us haha. Pretty legit reference if you ask me. Once we got to his humble abode, we met his parents and 3 sisters. His dad began talking our ears off. Lovely man though. We found out that he was a pastor for an evangelical church for 20 years. He served missions for the church in Africa, Costa Rica, and El Salvador. He knew a lot of stuff, so that made teaching a lot easier. We taught them about the Restoration. Left them 2 Books of Mormon and some pamphlets. They were pretty positive surprisingly... They then gave us lunch and sat there and watched us eat. I have a feeling they spent most of their food money on us that day. Very kind people... As we visited with them, we found out there were ruins in Chajul and Quetzales (the National Bird, which are very rare). I’m hoping to be able to go back there before I leave Cunen so I can try to find one of them haha. The visit went really well for us... Better than we imagined it would. I’m going to call them later today to see if they were able to read anything we left them. He told us he was looking for a new church where he could be some kind of leader. If we could get him baptized...the church up there would spread like crazy. This guy was legit... We can only hope though right? On the way back to Quiche, we stopped in Nebaj. I found a Dbacks shirt in a paca. Bought it for 60 American cents. The only problem's an extra large haha. One of you guys will get it because it isn’t going to fit me...
Friday we had a big activity for our branch. We actually are going to have another this coming Saturday. Cunen is starting to do things! Miracles do happen once in a while... That Hilary Duff is a smart girl. Anyways, this activity we had was legit. A bunch of people just came to play soccer and to buy food. The branch is trying to raise some money, so they can go to the open house. Sadly, it isn’t working very effectively. At least they are trying though... That is what the activity Saturday is too. They are going to make Tacos and then have people come buy them for dinner. I’m really excited for it because the tacos in the country (Cunen specifically) are delicious. It is going to be a good day :)
I did get pouch this week. That was an exciting day. 2 packages! One from the family and one from a friend. Both were great packages... haha. My new backpack is with me right now. I like it for the most part. The pockets are semi-inconvenient, but it does the job. I’m not sure how much I like the blue factor of it. Just black would have been better, but whatever! haha. I’m happy with it. Thanks for the USB and what not. I was a little sad the memory cards didn’t have my pictures still. I was looking forward to seeing my pictures from Colo again. No biggie though... Rachel's little "surprise" was awesome haha. "Pancake Lover". I’m just glad no one understands that but me and her... The package from the friend had a bunch of candies and such. I was really happy about it too haha. You guys did forget peanut butter though... I would like that for Christmas if possible :)
Our shower broke this past week. It is only cold water now. We have to buy a new head... Hopefully we can get the mission to pay for it. We'll have to see I guess. If not, this is going to be a miserable couple weeks haha.
I gave a talk on Faith yesterday in Church. Fun stuff... haha. The Branch President called us Saturday night and asked us both to speak because he forgot to ask other people. Went alright I think... We had one of our investigators come for the first time yesterday, so that was neat for us :)
Something I forgot to mention about Halloween... Today I dressed up as President Monson. Wrote on a piece of paper and taped it over my plaque. Fun stuff haha. Missionary humor really sucks... haha.
Well, that has been my week. I think I have quite a few pìcs to send, so I better get on that. Again, I hope you have a very happy birthday mom! I love you all so much! Have great weeks.
Elder Bitner/David :)
Central Park in Chajul