Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Fleas, Extreme downhill walking, and P-day carrot farming

First of all, I got a large amount of email this week since my birthday was last Saturday, but I still have the same amount of time to write, so if I don´t write you back, or only write a little lame response, don´t worry, it probably doesn´t mean I don´t love you!

I forgot to mention last week the best part about my new area. The flea infested bed! Whoop! These fleas die harder than Bruce Willis! I sprayed a whole bunch of stuff that supposedly kills any insect for 6 weeks... and still got bit by a ton of fleas during the night... Oh well...Este copa... No la he de beber? The house we live in is super tiny, but we cleaned it up really good on P-day and it´s fairly comfortable now, despite being the size of a large playhouse.

One part of our area is up on a mountain that is near the main town. We usually try to hitchhike up to the top, but a couple of times we have had to walk. The footpath is just a straight shot from top to bottom, with a few minor curves, and a few major drops (like 1 meter). It is a serious drag walking up. But coming down is super awesome! It´s like a 15 minute downhill extreme mountain biking trail.... But on foot! We just tighten up our shoe laces and our backpacks and bomb all the way down the huge hill... It´s super fun!

We have pretty much decided to almost exclusively work just in the center town and the little towns nearby, because even though the people farther away are a lot more friendly and receptive, it’s super difficult for them to come to church. And they learn REALLY slow because of the Spanish to Quiche language barrier, and  the lack of education and ability to read- Some of the nicest people though! And they seriously know how to get along with pretty much nothing.

Yesterday for P-day we bought some seeds for an activity that we wanted to do to help people understand better, but they only sold seeds by the ounce. Carrot seeds are super tiny, so we had WAY more than we needed. So we did the obvious and planted carrots in the tiny strip of dirt that we have by our house. What can I say, farming is in my blood.

With the cooler weather here I can finally use that sweet jacket that has just taken up space up to this point J It probably is from being in the heat for the past 6 months, but the cold here is killing me! It’s going to be even crazier coming home to the super cold!

I didn´t really do anything too special for my birthday.. I had a mini panic phase when I realized that I was 20 years old, but I got over it. JWe did buy some massive calzones from some restaurant here.They were seriously massive!
Gigantic 20th birthday calzone
 I saw a cool folder type thing, with hard covers, a notepad inside, a place to put papers and stuff, and various cool features, with a Guatemalan fabric and style the other day that I thought about getting for my birthday-but I have turned into somewhat of a cheap skate and couldn´t bring myself to pay 30 dollars for it-but I may end up getting it.

I don’t have any info on the Mother’s day call. Mothers day call via skype.- Thats all I have… sorry! I´ll let you know as soon as they tell me, just make sure you know how to use it. My laptop has it all set up and all.
Love, Collin



Tuesday, April 22, 2014

I´m going to the Mountains of Solola to dwell baby!

 Changes! I went from one of the hottest zones in the mission, to one of the coldest! I am in San Andres Semetabaj, Solola. It´s a small mountain town super far away from everything. We left the change meeting at about noon, and got to our house at about 7:30pm. Our area is Gigantic! We have our little town where we live, and then all of the small mountain communities nearby, some as far as an hour away hitchhiking.... It is AWESOME! At night there are tons of fireflies that dot the nearby mountainside which is super sweet! It is way cold though! After being in the hot humid coast for 6 months I am having a hard time adjusting to the cold again. The climate is about like Oregon in the spring. The town we live in is built right on the mountain, so the hills on the roads here are just insane. There are hills the cars can´t even get up without a running start.
The road in the background goes to a small town that is part of our area.

 The other real challenge here is that the people don´t all speak Spanish. And many that do speak Spanish, don´t speak it very well. The social structure is kinda like a family clan type thing, so usually somebody in the family that speaks good Spanish and good Quiche’ (K’iche’) lives next door to translate if we need it. It’s super safe here too. They don´t even put bars on the windows of the stores. This is due to the fact that if someone is seen robbing a house or a person, everyone shouts really loud and comes out of their houses with torches and pitchforks... It doesn't really happen often, because they burn the accused.... Anyways, keeps it nice and tranquil here. J
Normal roads. The trees are really similar to what is in eastern Oregon

We have one family way out in the hills that we are teaching. We have to get up ridiculously early to get there at a reasonable hour and still find a pickup back home, usually like 4am. So the pickups drop us off at the entrance of this huge canyon, which is 7km from the town we want to go. So far we have always had a ride in and out, but my companion says that every once in a while we´ll have to walk it. The last time we went there, the pickup we were riding back broke down in the middle of the canyon and we were just stuck there for half an hour while he fixed the super corroded battery connections.

Elder Flores and the view of the valley where we live, from a small town up on an insanely huge hill!
 My new companion issss..... Elder Flores! It has been pretty sweet working with him again. He is from Peru! I was already his companion, in my first change when I was in a trio with Elder Vallejos. Pretty crazy eh? It doesn´t happen very often that you have a repeat companion.

The area I am in has only had 9 converts in the last year. And all except one are like 12 years old. A normal area here has about 20 or 30 converts from the year, sometimes way more.... They haven’t had an adult man baptized here in like 5 years.

 Wow, I totally forgot about that poetic birthday rap that Andrea wrote. Super sweet of her. Sadly, I doubt I will be getting a cake this year, but maybe I´ll just buy one J The place here has a giant tourist trap one hitchhike away, so they sell a ton of American food. Food won´t be a problem here.
Thanks for your concern, but I’m feeling much better this week. I know you think I should have stayed home when I was sick- but there is no rest in the mission! Being deathly sick like that means you don´t have to walk so fast, but that’s about it. It was just a 2 day punishment for eating insanely spicy food prepared in less than ideal conditions. Haha, my companion and I can´t believe the missionaries didn´t have any visits so they just came to hang out with you guys and  color Easter eggs.J I guess the mission culture is different here.

Anyways, that´s all for now,
Elder Rice
When moving to a new area, be sure to properly secure your garden tools in your suitcase for transport in crazy buses






Tuesday, April 15, 2014


Yesterday I felt kinda sick all P-day while I was packing up my bags for changes. Then we went out to work at 5:00pm like normal, and we made it to a lesson inside of a really skinny alley. While my companion was talking to the people we were going to teach... Boom! Vomiting! All the little kids nearby came up to see the super sick gringo while I was throwing up!  I wiped my face off and we taught the lesson. Then we went to go pick up a member in their house and I threw up all my lunch into their pila L So then we went and taught another lesson with a family that is getting ready to get baptized, and right after...Again!

Finally we had a sweet family home evening with a ton of nonmember people where we watched the video “Finding Faith in Christ”. I had to leave and go out to the street to go throw up again, and when I came back I stood up on a cement block and gave a sweet testimony and everyone was like: “Wow -this guy is crazy!” Then we went home and it was all good. I´ve got a nasty fever now though.... Our mission president always says, ´´I like it when my Elders suffer!´´ Anyways, thats how my week starts!

We have several people preparing to get baptized this month, and I am pretty sad to be leaving tomorrow. Also, I got my package last week on Tuesday! Thanks mom! It is great! I tried to resist until my birthday, but I only made it one day.  Thanks to all who wrote me letters in the package my mom sent! They are very much appreciated!
Elder Rice

Monday, April 7, 2014

Same email, different day


So this week we were just doing one of my favorite activities, knocking doors in the pouring rain, and we met some guy named Byron. I talked to him through the window for a bit and he let us in. I immediately noticed that... Surprise! He´s a pastor, and he´s there with his buddies! So we started to teach him anyways, and when we got to the part where we teach that we are all children of the same God (aka, the first thing that I said) he stated his opposition to the principle and began to teach me what he deemed to be ´´The Truth´´. So I let him talk for a minute and then realizing he was in for the long run cut him off and whipped out my two edged sword! (El Libro de Mormon). I told him what it was and taught him that if he wants to know if it is true, he can ask of God. He refused my offer so I told him about the consequences of doing so, invited him again and had him read 2 Nephi 33:10,11, and 14, and then we got up out of there. It was pretty cool J It´s not the first time that I have taught a pastor of another religion, but it was the first time that I have taught one that didn´t listen to us before going off.
You will all be sad to know that the planned iguana hunt to not come to pass. We weren´t able to get permission to leave our area to go hunt iguanas, apparently it´s not a good reason to leave our area J  Mom, you shouldn’t  be too impressed with my brave new culinary choices-I still prefer the bland food, but I have learned to eat other stuff without making faces. In lieu of our hunt, we may be going to the beach on Wednesday as a zone.

 Not too much new. Changes are next week on Wednesday, but who knows if I will be going or not. All is going pretty good here.

 Wow, your Hawaii cruise sounds like an incredible trip! The farmers market there was probably similar, but much cleaner, then the ones here. There are few things I will eat that come from the market here. J That picture of the waterfall you sent me is incredible! I wouldn´t mind going to Hawaii with my mom someday when I get back J I was talking with one of my member friends here (It’s so weird how all my friends are adults, in their late 20’s or in their 30’s) anyways, he was telling me about some cool lakes and rivers near where we are now where there are some crazy fish that come in from the ocean! This would be a cool place to come someday too on vacation.

May 11! Phone call through Skype! Sooo.. Learn how to use it and standby for more intel!

Love, Elder Rice

I wanna iguana


Soooo... Nothing too exciting this week. I had one of the members here who is a carpenter make me a sling shot so we could go hunt iguanas. Maybe next P-day we are going to go into the jungle and find something delicious to eat. The iguanas here grow to be almost 1 meter in length, and supposedly are very delicious. The local method of hunting iguanas is to shoot them in the head with a slingshot, which makes them fall out of the tree, and then run up and decapitate them with a machete before they get away. We´ll see how that works out for us I guess J
So this week, instead of buying a ton of groceries like I normally do to eat a comfortable North American college diet, we bought 5 pounds of rice, 2 pounds of beans, 2 dozen eggs, a bag of flour and a bag of sugar. Rice, beans, pancakes, and atol. Going all heathy and stuff. I bought like 5 pounds of potatoes too.... Crap, I just realized we didn´t buy syrup for the pancakes... All is well down here, our goal for this month is between 10 and 12 baptisms. We had 323 baptisms as a mission in the month of March.

Elder Rice


Livin' off the land


We ran a little short on money this last week due to a few extra costs that we had. So we didn´t buy much at the store for our weeks groceries and developed a plan to survive. We still had enough for our lunch that we buy every day, and there was still food left over from last week, and weeks past. Every time we passed by a mango tree we would eat one or two green mangos. Then we would just go around and anytime we saw a chance to take out water from a well, or chop wood we did it, because the people almost always give you some water and either some bread or some crackers or something.

 Everything was going awesome, and even though I was usually a little hungry, it´s good, because I need to drop down a couple pounds anyways. Then Sunday rolled around and we both pushed the limit just a little too much. I don´t know how many mangos my companion ate, but I ate like 5 really big, really green mangos. The next day... phew! Qué dolor! By the end of the night I was just doubling over from the stomach cramps I was getting. People kept asking me why I was sweating so much after sitting down for 30 minutes. Like our mission president says: Qué bendición elderes, me gusta cuando mis elderes sufren. Haha! Well, with sacrifices come blessings I guess.

This week I contacted a guy that had lived in Aloha, OR a while. I didn´t believe it at first, but after he mentioned that huge rabbit on TV HWY I had to accept the homesickening truth. Pretty cool though seeing a guy that had been in my hood. He was drinking though and didn´t really want to go to church, but still pretty cool.

Baptism number 20! Cristian Pozueloz.

Also, Antigua......Again

Love, Collin