Missionaries are the Teachers, Only The Lord Harvests Souls


Well, here I am with three weeks down….And I’m really starting to realize how hard this teaching is. Here in Honduras, Jesus is really popular.  Almost all the people here are religious in some way or another.  There are mostly four kinds of people here:  Evangelicals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Reformists, and Catholics…. We go to teach lessons, and we always begin with prayer. Everyone says a prayer out loud to themselves while we pray, and when we teach they just sit and listen. They don’t ever have questions, and I feel as if the things we teach are just going in one ear and out the other.  Anyway, it’s just really hard to have hope that these people can and will feel the spirit in the lessons, and want to know more when they just sit there, and they say their own prayer.  We try and contact people on the street and give them pamphlets. …But we haven’t had anyone contact us back that we’ve given pamphlets to.  I’m glad for our investigators and that we have people to teach, however, I feel that some of them just aren’t accepting.  

As for our investigating family, the Familia Espinal, they were supposed to be baptized this past week.  They weren’t.  We are having problems.  They have to be married before baptism and that is really difficult here in Honduras.  Papers are hard to get, and you have to pay a lot of money, which is a problem because this area is so poor.  We are working on it and I have hope that they will be baptized.  As for Hermano Marvin, (the husband), he is making progress and he is saying prayers.  He hasn’t been reading because he comes home from work really tired. And for some reason we hadn’t thought to give him a copy of the Book of Mormon. So we took care of that.  This family is my one saving grace. I love teaching them.  They listen and I have seen the gospel change their lives.  They have the light of Christ in them and I have seen it grow.

Also this week, we met with Hermana Marta and her children.  She is probably one of the poorest people we teach.  Her kitchen area is a mud and stick hut.  She has four kids and a husband.  Her husband can’t read and he barely talks.  We’ve met with him once.  I don’t remember if I wrote about that, but I don’t think he understood a word of what we taught.  She also is about the same.  She barely talks and it’s really hard to teach.  Her kids are absolutely awesome. When Christ talked about the meek inheriting the earth, he was talking about this family.  I love them to death.  We helped them shuck corn for a half hour and I really got to talk to the kids.  Kids are really the only people I feel comfortable talking to because they are so forgiving of my Spanish. They are awesome!  We went to remind her of church on Saturday and invited her and her family.  She barely talked to us. We invited her kids then left.  Sunday rolled around and we had one investigator at church, Hermana Mercedes (the wife in the Familia Espinal), so I was really disappointed.  Then ten minutes late, but still there, every single one of Hermana Martas kids showed up. But no Hermana Marta.  It’s just amazing to me that these kids showed up even without their parents. Oh yeah and the really frustrating thing, is that Hermana Marta had a baptismal date, last year.  She’s afraid of water. So we have some major challenges with this family.  So that’s about all here.  It’s really surprising though, because there are so many people who were baptized here. And they just don’t go anymore.  Our area is full of them….we have plenty of work to do.
One of many joys I experienced this week!

…I’m really going make sure we are being exactly obedient, because as missionaries, our success isn’t measured by baptisms. It’s measured by our obedience and if we are trying our best, and living worthy of the spirit. We have some work to do there.  I feel we could work harder and be more obedient and as we do, the spirit will be there more.  I feel that as we try to do this, our area will become more successful too.  So that’s my goal for the week. Let you all know how it goes next Monday!
Elder Ollis

Excerpt from an email to his sister:
…all we can do is have faith in the Lord’s plan for everything.  Thankfully, if not in this life, we have the great plan of salvation and people can accept the gospel even after this life.  Trust the Lord knows what to do.  There’s a quote I like, I don’t remember exactly but it says “Missionaries are the teachers, only The Lord harvests souls.”  We have to rely on His power to speak to people the truth in our hearts.

I'm Not Here to be Comfortable, I'm Here to Work


Well, first off fam, I just want to say I’m sorry for sending such an email last week. Yes, the first week was hard, but I need to stop thinking about myself.  I’m not here to be comfortable, I’m here to work, and I need to stop thinking about home.  May take some time, but I’ll get there.  So this week was a bit of a continuation of some little disappointments.  

This week was the week for sickness. I got diarrhea on Monday. And let me just say, everything in Honduras is different, including diarrhea.  After we ate lunch with a member, my stomach got really weird and I sat in the bathroom a few times. Thought I was good and we left. My companion and me started walking and I discovered things were not good. My companion said we could take a moto taxi, and I’m going to talk about those a bit.  

Moto taxis are three-wheeled pieces of machinery that would in no way ever pass any safety certifications.  They have 12-inch wheels that you would see on a wheelbarrow and somehow they manage to crank the lawnmower engines they have in them to reach 60 miles an hour.  They have a seat in front for the driver with a handlebar and controls and a bench behind it with a sunshade.  Going fast in them is quite the experience.  I don’t know how they don’t tip those frequently because there are only three paved roads.  So often they drive those on dirt roads and the roads are really bumpy and rutted.  They have to weave and dodge all the time. It’s really fun.

Also we ride the bus.  The buses are either large vans, or old school buses.  The school buses are pretty crazy because they cover those in stickers; religious stickers and racing stickers like mopar and brembo and stuff.  And then they stick a nice shiny exhaust tip so it looks nice.  They also throw custom speakers in the bus, and if it’s a nice bus they will have a TV up in the front. The buses are pretty sick.  They just blast their Mexican rap and thank goodness I don’t know Spanish and don’t have to hear the words.  

So anyway, we took a moto taxi and the driver went through every dip and rock possible.  I almost became a true missionary on the ride.  So we stop at our investigators house and I have to use the bathroom. They rent a room and the bathroom has sheetrock walls that don’t quite touch the ceiling and a curtain for a door.  It was quite uncomfortable.  After that night it went away for the most part.  Then I got a cold and I’ve been battling that for the past four days.  But it’s going away.  So things are good right now.

The investigators are set for a baptism date and I’m absolutely happy about that.  It’s the Espinal familia.  Hermana Espinal is the perfect investigator.  She’s nice, she says she understands me, and whenever we come she whips out her Book of Mormon and just actively listens.  One of my concerns was that she never had any questions and I wondered if she was really taking in the gospel. We asked her some questions yesterday about what we are teaching her and she just spit answers out exactly how they should be.  She knows this stuff. I just wish all our investigators will be like this.  You can see the gospel changing her life.  She’s amazing.  

Her husband is a bit difficult because he isn’t very literate.  He has a hard time speaking and reading and I can’t understand a word he says. But we taught about prayer and asked if he would say the closing prayer.  He didn’t want to, but we prodded him and one of our companions, Elder Amazcua offered to help him. So we all knelt and Elder Amezcua told him what to say and he quietly just said it. It was such a humbling experience. But I know that Heavenly Father knows him and that he was listening to that prayer and all my prayers also.

Yesterday was Fast Sunday and we fasted for a lot of things.  Fasting here is difficult because it’s so hot and humid.  I want to drink water all the time. But I made it and as I knelt, praying alone to end my fast, I prayed that I would be able to just forget all things but missionary work. And I felt so much peace. Sundays are really hard because it’s big talks and it’s hard for me to sit and try and focus on what they are saying and so sometimes I get distracted.  And most of the time I think about home.  So Sunday I was a little down. But I said that prayer, and I felt so much better. When I stood up, I had such a feeling of strength, and I knew I could do it and that this work is so much more important.  

So this week is all good.  First week was tough, yes, but I’m over the crying about it.  I know that I can’t speak Spanish very well, but I read a copy of the Liahona that we got and it had so much stuff that helped me this week.  One of the articles was about faith. It said that we have to strive to be the best missionary and teach.  And when we do that we have to trust that what we teach will go to our investigators hearts through the spirit. I have really tried to do that this week.  The spirit is the teacher. I only say the words.  As I learned this this week, it gave me new understanding of Ether 12:27. Weak things made strong.  My weak words in Spanish will be made strong through the spirit.  

I love this gospel and I can’t believe I’ve written this much because I have so much more, but I’ll just say that I’m thankful for everything I have. I never realized how blessed I am and I’m thankful that I was able to learn that. I have so many blessings in my life, and right now I don’t have a lot of them, but I am starting to see the Lord’s hand as I look for those little blessings in everything.  This week I was able to have a shower every morning not from a bucket. And we have a set of investigators set for baptism, what more do I need? I love this gospel and the Lord and I know this is true. I love you all, and hope your lives are going well.
10/14/2013 - Geckos are everywhere!
Elder Ollis

Excerpts from a letter to his dad:

My area is pretty big I think, actually I don’t really know.  All the houses are really small, and it’s very common that they have electricity and that’s it. Running water is a blessing here. We have a big store where we buy everything. Laundry is taken care of by hand and a member washes our garments. I don’t know how to describe everything. It’s winter here but it’s still blasted hot and it has rained a few times. Yesterday our lunch was interrupted by rain ha ha. Also the food is good, lots of eggs, beans and rice, and not much fruit surprisingly. But the oranges here are green and yellow, and so good.  I love it here and I think I’m used to about everything.

10/14/2013 - The frog in our water trough.
The cockroaches are small and I’ve only had to kill two. The only annoying things are the ants. Any open food they get.  I had a whole bag of sugar and had to throw it all away because of them. They got my toothbrush too. And once they see you, they run away and are gone in like a second.  It’s crazy, but everything’s good….. We bought some Tupperware from some guy that walks around selling it so that should help…. Oh, and we had a frog in our water trough. 

Hey keep Elder Stewart Silver in your prayers please. He was in my district in the MTC and he is home now. He was in an accident last week and he was in coma.  His brain has serious trauma and he cannot speak but can respond to speaking a little. His cranium has been removed to let his brain heal and he’s on a long road for recovery. Please pray for him.

I’ll be careful and safe. Promise….. Love you and tell everyone who has written me thank you, I just don’t have time to write everyone. I have to pay to use the computers.  And tell every one that they can send letters too….Love you so much and tell mom not to worry about me. I’m completely fine here. I really have felt people’s prayers for me. Love you and everyone else, but I’ve got to get off the computer now.  It’s expensive!  Love you all!
Elder Ollis

Honduras is Pretty Much Everything I Wasn't Expecting


Well, it’s my first p day here in the field, and I’m honestly glad I made it this far.  Honduras is pretty much everything I wasn’t expecting. 

So first, I’ll start with the first day.  We got here and stepped off the plane and I felt like I just walked into the wrestling room again.  It is unbelievably hot and humid here.  Nothing is ever truly cold. So I’m really missing the ice dispenser in the fridge.  So the first day came and went and I was okay because we had dinner with President Dester and it was awesome. They had a really nice apartment and the food was good, the only thing was it was really hot that night for sleeping but I was all right. As we drove around the next day I decided I liked it.  It kind of reminded me of Hawaii.  

So the next day we go to the chapel to meet our companions and I met my companion Elder Rivera, who speaks very little English. He is 27 and has been a member for about 2 years. So that was a real stressful occurrence.  We then left the meeting to go to our area and the bus drove us out of the city, and we drove up into the mountains for a half hour. I’m looking at these houses get poorer and smaller.  So we arrive at our house and it’s all right.  It's one of the nicer houses in the area, however it only has running water every few days for some reason. So we shower in buckets. That day we went to dinner with a member, they talk so fast here in Honduras and they don’t pronounce the s in their words so it pretty much sounds like another language to me.  The food is actually pretty good here, once I get past the fact that it was cooked on top of a metal drum turned into a stove.  The bugs aren’t that bad, there’s mosquitoes, but I haven’t been eaten alive.  So it’s all good.  

The Spanish is still really difficult.  I didn’t understand anything in general conference really.  So that was disappointing. I did get to hear the priesthood session in English so that was good, and helped a lot.    And I just can’t say what I want to say.  I have to think every time I want to talk and it’s really frustrating and tiring.  The members are really nice and honestly I have no idea who is a member or not.   We have two other missionaries that live and come with us so that’s good.  The only problem is I’m the only white missionary in my zone.   The city is very poor but apparently for Honduras it’s not that bad.  There’s trash all over and there’s about three paved roads in the town.  So this week has really been an adjustment.  

I want to be a good missionary and I’m really trying to stay focused but as I sit and try and understand what is going on, right now life just feels unreal.  I have to remind myself this is life for the next two years.  So I don’t want you to worry.  I’m not coming home and I’m not crying my eyes out.  This is really hard and I was not expecting the circumstances I’m in right now.  It’s just frustrating because I don’t have much patience.  I want to be a good missionary and say things but I can’t because I don’t know how to say it.  I want to study and do everything exactly correct.  So I don’t know, maybe by next transfers I will be able to tell what’s going on.  At least the food has been good so far ha ha.  Sorry I’m not answering most of the questions, but that’s all I got for now. Just have to keep going and work work work.

Elder Ollis

(See additional pictures on his Mission Field Picture tab.)

Arrival of Your Missionary


Dear Ollis Family,

We are sorry that our original e-mail didn't reach you.  It looks like Elder Ollis gave us an incorrect e-mail address, but here is the e-mail that we sent the evening that he arrived last Tuesday.  He looked great and seemed very excited to finally be here.  He has been assigned to serve in an area called Paraiso, near Cofradia (about half an hour outside of San Pedro Sula).  His trainer is Elder Ivan Rivera, from El Salvador, who has been serving in the mission for a year and a half and who is also serving as a district leader.

You should hear from Elder Ollis himself this Monday, on his preparation day.  If you ever have questions about how he is doing or about anything else here in Honduras, please feel free to send us an e-mail at this address.  Thank you for sending such a wonderful missionary to us!  We love him already!

With warmest regards,

President and Sister Dester
Honduras San Pedro Sula West Mission

Date: Tue, 1 Oct 2013 20:16:07 -0600

Dear Parents of Missionaries,

This is just a quick note to let you know that your missionary arrived safely today in Honduras.  We are delighted to have 22 new missionaries in the mission today.  We were able to talk with them, eat dinner with them, and enjoy some very special moments with them this evening.  President Dester interviewed all of the new missionaries and is excited to have the energy that each of them brings to the mission.  Tomorrow the new missionaries will be assigned to their new areas and start working.  We are sending you a photo of your missionary in the airport.  Thank you so much for entrusting your missionary to us and for all of your support.

With kindest regards,

          Sister Dester and President Dester

10/01/2013 - Arrival in Honduras