Hello family and friends,
Jakob is officially on his way to Guatemala City! For those of you unfamiliar with this process, we only get to talk on the phone to our missionaries two times per year - on Mother's Day and at Christmas. They don't take cell phones on missions as they are asked to "leave behind all personal affairs." We bought a disposable phone and mailed it to him last night because often when missionaries are at the Salt Lake Airport and attempt to make calls home to their families, they are tied up by all the other missionaries. These are not quick phone calls.
Jakob called us both from Salt Lake and during his layover in Texas. He sounded good. He will be in the Guatemala City MTC by 7 or 8 tonight. I will write you some of the things he mentioned on the phone today:
First, it is worth mentioning that they made their phone calls after they went to Cafe Rio at the airport for their last meal in the US. Good choice! I am sure Jake had barbecued pork enchiladas smothered with green sauce.
He said there are 8 in his travel group going to Guatemala City and around forty total that will arrive with him today. He sat by an LDS professor at the University of Utah on the way to Texas who spoke of the book he is writing about the connection between spiritual and physical health. Jake said he took it as an opportunity to learn rather than to share. These missionaries are all on fire!
He said that at the MTC this week they switched to 'winter rules' which means you have to wear your suit coat all day long. He said, "I am so glad I am out of there!" (In actuality, he loved it there.) As far as what he will wear in Guatemala, he won't be in a suit coat everyday. He was only asked to bring one suit, 2 sweater vests, and 9 or 10 white shirts. His mission has a lot of jungle areas so they were also asked to bring a pair of polishable boots. We sent Jake with extra shoes because with 13 EE feet, there is no way he will find shoes in Guatemala. They are hard enough to find here. There is a rainy season where everything stays muddy. He heard that he should buy his umbrella down there because it needs to be big....big enough to swat the stray dogs away. Hmmm...
This is for those of you who know Jake well. He's a shopper and has been confined to the MTC for 3 weeks. He asked us to send 2 watches. He loved the ones we sent, but bought another one in the MTC. His comp said that he had a watch at home that they saw for sale there. Because everything is at cost it was only $40 for a $200 watch. He said, "I had to find something to spend my money on!"
He told us that he has gained some weight. Except for 50 minutes of basketball each day, they are sitting most of the time. He also mentioned that last night when he was packing he called down the hall to the other missionaries because he had so much food left he couldn't eat it by himself or take it with him. Thanks to everyone who sent care packages!! That weight will be drastically falling off soon. Before he left he heard from a friend serving in Central America. He had only been out a little over a month and was already down 25 lbs. We talked about the mix of native food and American food that he will have at the Guatemalan MTC. We thought it's a good idea to ease the missionaries in to a native diet and wondered if they introduce the parasites early as well. :)
He says he is struggling with the Spanish. There are a couple of guys in his district who were really good with language and were picking it up easily and he is learning how to not compare himself. So, then later I asked how his companion was doing with the language and he said that he is about at the same level as he is. With all that said, they were told that their district was performing significantly above the average. So, everything should be fine! I have heard from so many people that somewhere around the 3 or 4 month mark, it will just happen. It's apparently like a switch goes on. It will be interesting to see if he experiences that.
When I asked what one of the hardest thing was about the MTC he said not having personal time. He mentioned that he did have a rough weekend at one point where he was discouraged. Mary Schmidt, if you read this blog, thank you for your advice and sense of humor. He said, "I remember what Mary said about truck day." This is the inevitable day when you wish you could get hit by a truck so you can go home without being a quitter. Maybe he was experiencing bike day. The day you get hit by a bike and just get to rest a little. He is already benefiting from your words of wisdom, so thank you! :)
He said it was emotional saying goodbye to his trainer. Apparently, the district had a lot of respect for him. He had to come home early from his mission because of a disease of the spine where could only stand for 5 minutes at time without severe pain. He taught them on his feet for 2 weeks before telling them how difficult it was for him. He was a good example of pushing yourself beyond what you think you can do and of being committed to what you believe in.
He said that he is blown away by the hermanas (sister missionaries). He said they outperform in every way. He said, "The sisters are so much stronger. They are incredible. They are just solid!" He said that as they were busy checking in at the airport one of these zealous sisters struck up a conversation with someone in line. He said, "She was preaching mad gospel." :) While the hunters were focused on getting through security, the gatherers were scouting around and multi-tasking.
This leads me to his comment about slang. He said it is so hard to rid his vocab of certain words like "dude!" It's especially a problem when addressing the sisters. Okay, it could be a lot worse, but he is having to more formally address people and it is taking some getting used to.
I think that is all for now. He sounded well. I asked if he was nervous at all and he said he is just excited. We anticipate we'll get an email that he has arrived safely, but might not hear from him until next week.
Thanks for all of your support!
Elder Reinhold's Mom