Called to Serve

Called to Serve

Monday, March 23, 2015

Week 7 - Elder "Holk" in Alajuelita

Hey family friends! Hope everything is good back in the States!

So a lot has happened this week!

Me and my new companion, Elder Mejia
First, I have a new companion! I'll be with him for 3 months. He's from El Salvador and his name is Elder Mejia. He's kinda short about 5'2 or 3 or something. When we had the meeting for all of the new companions, everyone just laughed and laughed with us and President said now he can go anywhere he wants because he has a bodyguard. He knows a little English like "what's your problem man?" and other funny phrases so that's awesome haha

My first area is Alajuelita. It's in San Jose but its like an hour bus ride from the mission home. It's a little better-off than my the other area I was in for a little while but not by much. The people here are still very humble and they don't have very much. It's super humbling when they feed us before their kids and it was hard to eat the food while they were watching, but President says they need those blessings. The climate is pretty cool and windy which I LOVE but it's kinda hot in the afternoon. There aren't a lot of hills which really is a blessing also haha. It's kinda sad because there's a lot of garbage in the street because people just litter. But the surrounding mountains and jungles are beautiful.

The buses here drive super fast and the streets are pretty scary so each bus ride is kind-of an adventure.

The food here is kinda plain but it's good. One of my first meals made by another missionary's cocinierra (cook) was - rice, pasta salad, potatoes, and pringles. HOLY STARCH hahaha. Other meals have plantains that taste like potatoes, salad with lime juice as the dressing, some sort of meat haha and of course rice and beans. Yesterday I had my first Gallo Pinto dish here which is black beans, rice, and peppers and spices. It was muy rico (very good). 

Our apartment is pretty nice considering what most people have here. The water is lukewarm which I REALLY appreciate. My last shower was freezing so it's nice haha. The spout has this heater that the water goes through before it hits you. Kinda dangerous mixing electricity and water but hey, pura vida! haha

Introducing myself at the mission conference
The ward was awesome on Sunday. There was about 100 members that came which apparently is a lot here. The bishop had me come up and bear my testimony (uh-oh) but it went pretty well! I joked that I was Nica - or from Nicaragua, and the people died. I apologized for my spanish but I was able to convey the message I wanted so I was grateful for that. I'm also the ward Pianist and was called as soon as they heard I could play piano. All the kids loved it. There was this little girl who came up during the hymn and sat right next to me just watching me haha.

The people here are amazing and I love them already! The culture is a little different but not something I can't handle. One of the kids calls me Captain Kirk from Star Trek because I'm white and apparently look a little like him haha. I call him Spock because he has pointy-ish ears and he hates it haha. All the people pronounce my name like "eh-stott" because there isn't an "S" sound in Spanish by itself. Some of the members call me Elder "Holk" (Hulk) haha.

My Spanish is coming along pretty nicely so I'm enjoying that. It's hard to understand people sometimes, but that will come with time. I can always communicate what I want to say so that's great.

There was a little kid who was trying to tune his guitar in the street and I helped him tune it. I played it after and a group of like 20 kids came out of nowhere to listen. They went nuts when I tried to play the "titanic" song that everybody here seems to know and love. The kids here love to play soccer with me being the goalie (because I'm terrible at anything else haha) but it's really fun.

We have a new investigator and he's what we would call a straight-up gangster. He's super cool with us and he can really see that he needs the gospel in his life. He's 26 and has a little kid who is about 3 and likes to punch me, but I always love going to visit them.

We have a lot of new investigators and it's really cool to see the Gospel of Jesus Christ change their lives. I know that it truly changes lives and I'm so happy everyday to share the happiness it brings me with others. If we are willing to humble ourselves, we will be blessed beyond measure.

Hope all is well and know that all is well here in Costa Rica! Hasta el promxima semana!

The Costa Rica, San Jose Mission - 240 of us!

Elder Stott (Holk)

Friday, March 20, 2015

Week 6 Welcome to Costa Rica! Volcanos, cold showers and awkward questions...

The Turrabilda volcano
So...a little excitement from Costa Rica!  The Turrabilda volcano, just outside San Jose, erupted last Thursday and Friday temporarily closing down the airport due to the heavy ash.  But Elder Stott landed safely Monday night!  He was even able to call during a layover in Atlanta, GA.  The airport payphones there didn't end up working, but a VERY nice lady let him use her cell phone to call home.  It was SO good to talk with him.  He sounded happy and excited.  

I did hear from his Mission President's wife, Sister Wilkinson, on Facebook :) She let me know he'd landed, had already interviewed with the President, and had his first Costa Rican meal.  He didn't immediately get assigned and sent to an area (which is typical) because all of the missionaries in Costa Rica were going to be coming to San Jose for a special conference today.  So we will find out which town he'll be serving in - in his next email!!

Here's his email from March 18:

Hey everyone! 

I have a little bit to write today so thought I would send y'all an email! Sorry if it's kinda scatter-brained.. there's a lot of stuff going on haha. Next P-day (Monday) I'll have a better email but this will have to do for now.

Pretending like these phones work...
Costa Rica is amazing! Really humid here (its about 80) The landscape around San Jose is gorgeous. Very green!

I'm with two Zone leaders for yesterday and today. They're awesome and I'll get my Trainer tomorrow. 

I arrived with all of my luggage which is such a blessing haha. 

Guess what my first meal was? You guessed it! Beans and Rice (with pasta and HOT chilies) 

The people here are amazing! They're all so kind and friendly! We went to a couple appointments but mostly tracted (knocking on random doors) which was really fun, kinda haha. You tract by yelling "Upe buenas!" outside the door and they usually come out or ask who's there. They all seem very interested in the gospel so I think it might be a challenge to see who is really interested.

The city is very "hilly" and the houses are super small with concrete walls and tin roofs. I was playing with a kid yesterday who had a baby chicken. Haha he jumped up and grabbed my neck and was yelling "mae!" which means dude. He also said a really bad word too and it was kinda funny.

The water we use to shower is colder than the water that people give us to drink so that's great haha. I was the only gringo in a group of about 15 to show up this week. Whenever we go teaching or tracting, my companions always talk about my muscles and people just laugh and laugh. The people here all pretty small (like smaller than mom) haha. There's stray dogs everywhere too.

I was pumped because I heard the song "Hotel Funk" by Bruno Mars while we were teaching yesterday. All the people can't really pronounce my name. They call me "Elder Eh-Stott" but that's fine with me. 

People in the street always yell "ay gringo gringo" at me and I yell "ay tico tico" back (that's what Costa Rican's call themselves)

Even though I can only understand about 50 percent of what people are saying (they speak fast and slur their words, que bueno no?) I'm still able to feel the spirit and bear my testimony which I think is the most important part. They all say that they can understand what I'm saying so that's good. 

Yesterday I thought a man asked me if I like women so I answered "of course" but it turns out he asked if I have multiple wives or girlfriends. It's okay though because he turned out to be a little punk (I say this lovingly) who just wanted to argue with us. Another lesson, a lady asked if I had showered and if I wanted to take a shower with her... my companions quickly answered no before I could even figure out what she had asked. So that was pretty interesting. 

These next few weeks will probably be super long but some of the most memorable. I'm trying my best to learn and to serve as Christ did.

Hope everybody is doing well! Todo bien & pura vida!

- Elder Stott

Friday, March 13, 2015

Week 5 - Last letter from the MTC

Hola everyone! Hope everyone's doing well!

Well I made it to my last day in the MTC. Kinda weird because although I'm excited to get to Costa Rica, I'm pretty comfortable here. BUT I'm more than ready to leave and go serve the Ticos! 

A couple of things happened this week...

One of my buddies from my home ward - E. Tidwell
Elder Quintin L. Cook (an apostle of the church) came for my last Tuesday-night devotional so I was pretty stoked for that. He talked about how every single missionary call was prayerfully considered and the call itself was inspired. I know that Costa Rica is where I'm supposed to go. I'm not totally sure yet what exactly my purpose is there, but I know that I'll figure out sometime :) 

Spanish is still going great - got an evaluation and the guy in charge said I was "more than ready" to go out and speak but I disagree.. I think I sound like a Spanish-caveman but all is well I guess!

My companions - E. Smith and E. Holmes
I got my flight plans this week: I have my Visa so I'm leaving at 3 am this coming Monday morning and will be in Costa Rica that evening around 7 p.m Costa Rica time (6 p.m. OR) and there is one sister missionary who is also flying with me - and she only speaks Spanish which will be great practice for me haha. I'll fly to Atlanta and then head down to paradise.

We had an elder go home from our Zone and although it kind-of broke my heart, I'm so proud of him. Missionaries who decide to go home to fix things are so strong and courageous. It totally changed my view of missionaries who go home. If you ever come across a missionary who comes home to fix something, please love them. Tell them you're glad to see them. They're courageous people!

Last P-day (after I had emailed) my companion Elder Smith had to go to the Mexican Consulate for his Visa. He came back with a big box and had a big smile on his face. Next thing we knew, he pulled out 9 In-N-Out burgers. I pretty much cried. It was an amazing experience. Real food is so good. haha

Next email I will be in Costa Rica - I'm about to swan dive into a new & amazing culture. Thank you for everyone's prayers and support!

Pura Vida, 

- Elder Stott

Friday, March 6, 2015

Week 4 - Wrestling rugburns and Life cereal

Hey everybody, hope everyone is having a great week so far!

A couple of little things happened this week but nothing too big.

First, I got to be a host so I got to welcome and guide a couple of new shell-shocked missionaries through the MTC. One sister got out of her car and brought out 4 huge suitcases. I swear she packed rocks and dumbbells because her bags were all freaking heavy - so I got a really good workout haha.

I still have yet to meet ANYONE going to Costa Rica so I think I'll be a solo traveler. I have met just a couple people headed to Panama or Nicaragua.

My dad, brother and I all wear the same tie on Fast Sunday
This week we had the chance to Skype members of the church who are native Spanish speakers and we had a sister who is our age from Costa Rica! Her name was Isabella but she didn't answer our call. So we left a video message and hopefully we can connect with her this coming Monday.

I figured out that there were workout machines above the gym that I had been using so I'm super stoked to use those now. They're pretty descent machines but they're nothing special BUT I'm still grateful to have them.

I'm living on a diet of bananas, milk, and life cereal because I'm pretty tired of the food. Think of the best school cafeteria food you've had (so not all the great), dump a bunch of salt on it, and then boom: you have MTC food! So milk, bananas, and cereal (with the occasional bagel) will be my food and staple for the next 2 weeks as well!

My Tongan buddy - E. Vahakali
Earlier this week, I had an "impromptu" wrestling match with a state champ wrestler from Washington. It was a fierce battle with no clear winner. It ended up being a tie and we both had rug burns on our elbows and knees and face. Our Branch President asked where the marks were from and we said we had wrestled with God in mighty prayer. He about died haha and said he had wished he saw this great and might battle.

I keep bumping into people I know from home and BYU. 3 different people this week stopped me and asked if I worked out at the BYU gym and were surprised that I hadn't been on a mission yet. I'll be hosting again this week and I have a few friends coming in so hopefully I get to see them.

All the Elders still think that it's super cool that I shave with a straight-edge. I have only nicked myself once! It's an art and I am becoming a better artist.

Oh this week, we had were asking an investigator if we could come back and teach him another lesson. One of my poor companions had asked if we could come back on "Juevos" which translates to "eggs" or is slang (but not a bad word) for the male anatomy. I completely lost it and so did our investigator, it was SO funny. My companion once started speaking italian randomly and another time he told an investigator that we baptize dead people (bodies). I quickly explained that we don't use "cuerpos mortes" and that it was a symbolical ordinance. I love my companions, they really keep me on my toes and truly are great :)
Looking GQ in the snow

Here in the MTC I have learned that everyone just wants to be loved - that's what it all comes down to. So I'd encourage everyone to make sure you tell the people you care about that you love them. It really changes lives.

I'm so grateful to be a missionary. It's the hardest thing I have ever done but I have never been happier. It's truly a blessing in my life.

Hope everyone has a great week!

Voy a hablar con todos ustedes la próxima semana! Sé fuerte y valiente.

Pura Vida

- Elder Stott