Hermana Sarah Gunderson

Retalhuleu, Guatemala Mission, September 2015-March 2017


November 2015

Lots of water adventures

We had a zone meeting and then the assistants brought us down turkey lunch with mashed potatoes, rolls, and pumpkin pie. It was wonderful. It was so fun to celebrate Thanksgiving and to explain our traditions to Hermana Acosta and the two latina hermanas in my zone! They liked it! It wasn’t a bacon wrapped turkey, but it was a great thanksgiving!
This week we visited one of our investigators, Azucena to teach her and see if she had talked to her ‘esposo’ about marriage. Marriage is the only thing keeping her from being baptized. Here a lot of people live together and call each other esposos but they arent actually married. We always have to ask if they are married. Anyways, we got to her house and Azucena needed help bringing water from the river up to the house. So Hna Acosta and I got to help her! They use a towel and wrap it in a circle and put it on their heads and then place the giant thing of water on their heads to carry it back. It was pretty cool. The hardest part for me is not falling because I am very clumsy and I have a jug of water on my head which makes walking a bit difficult. After we brought the water back, we taught Azucena, her sister Brenda, and Azucena´s two kids the restoration. It was a good lesson. We told Azucena our story about how last monday we did laundry and our clothes were on the line on the roof drying when we went to lunch. During lunch it starts pouring and we were super far from our house. So all of our clothes got soaked and we had to leave them out there longer to dry. Azucena thought that that was the funniest thing ever.
This week we baptized Yessenia. I’ve only taught her a couple lessons, but she was investigating the church before I got here. Saturday night was here, baptism at 7. At about 6;10 all the lights in the city went off. i still have no idea why the lights were out, but for a while we thought we were going to have to baptize Yessenia by candlelight. We had the candles bought and everything. It was actually pretty funny. it was like an attempt by Satan to stop the baptism. As we were helping Yessenia get ready by the light of the flashlight, we leave the bathroom and there is light in the Church!!! It was a small miracle! We had the baptism and it was amazing. The spirit was really strong. You could see the light in Yessenias eyes, just full of joy! She is going through a lot of trials right now, but she has the gospel to help her face these trials. The joy of the gospel is real.
On friday we had a ward activity called Noche de Felicidad. It was super fun with different games and fun things to do. we had a ton of investigators show up. Which was amazing. We even had four teenagers come that we had contacted and taught that week. We really did not expect them to come but four of them came. it was amazing! Saturday there was a stake christmas activity that we made an appearance at to help the relief society. All the different wards prepared a little segment of the christmas story and had little vending booths in the parking lot. Our ward had the actual birth of Jesus. our mary´s husband couldnt make it to be joseph so they called the elders of Coatepeque, the neighboring ward and Elder preciado was Joseph. It was pretty funny.
This week we worked a ton with members which was amazing. but we struggled to find new investigators to teach. We were working so hard and talking to people but no one wanted to hear us. its definitely a trial, but hna acosta and i are are pressing forward with faith and trying new ways to contact people. Its definitely teaching me to rely on the savior and that its His work and His timing. We are in the process of planning an invitation sunday (thank you Sterling ward for the idea) which im really excited about. I think it will help build the excitement and animation of the ward and help us in our teaching and finding efforts.
Fun other things this week
1) I had my first critter in our apartment. A little gecko. he was cute but ran our the window when i looked closely at him
2) yesterday we tracted into this family and were serving them and washing dishes for them. As we were talking to them, the wife said that she thought that I was from brazil because i sounded brazilian. i laughed. It was a great compliment.
3) From the mouth of babes. It’s always the kids who say things like ´’ i can’t understand anything you are saying´’ this week that happened twice. its pretty funny.
I’m sweating buckets here but enjoying every minute- the hard times and the miracles. i know that the church is true and that jesus is my Savior.
Hna Gunderson


Selfie featuring lurking Elder


Christmas Activity



Bus Adventures

This week we had a meeting for new missionaries in Retalhuleu and so I  got to see all my friends from the CCM! They are doing great. As the elders were telling me stories of rat hunts that they have already had im so grateful for our nice apartment where the biggest critter i have to deal with are ants. And I have warm showers. So that’s amazing. The training we recieved in Reu was amazing. The biggest story from the meeting was the trip back to the apartment.There were about 8 missionaries going back to or through the same city on the way to their area. We rode this bus and we get on and about every seat is full. I don’t think that they have capacity limits here. So we squish onto the bus and then continue to let people on the bus the entire hour ride back. I don’t think there was a part of me that wasn’t touching another person. It was so hot and sweaty. and then this guy gets up and starts preaching for at least 10 minutes in the front of the bus. I’m 90 percent sure he started preaching because he saw the missionaries and wanted to save our souls. It was pretty funny. Quite the guatemalan bus ride adventure.
The baptism we had was amazing. A miracle happened and we baptized two people on saturday. Daniel is 15 and has been investigating the church for about 2 months. He wanted to get baptized before i got here but his mom would not give him permission. Daniel was ready for baptism excepting thet fact that his mom said no. So this week we went to talk to his mom with our district leaders. She basically wanted him to be perfect before baptism. We taught her and testified of the importance of baptism and how we dont need to be perfect to be baptized. She continued to resist for a while. Finally she asked Daniel how he felt about it and he testified that he feels peace and tranquility in the church and he wants so badly to get baptized and to change. This really softened her heart. The entire lesson I was praying for a miracle and for her heart to be softened and it was. She gave Daniel permission to be baptized. Saturday was a happy happy day.
It has been raining so much here. One day we were out tracting and the heavens opened and our umbrellas were insufficient. We were completely soaked. Thankfully some members saw us and we took refuge in their house until it let up and then we went and changed into dry warm clothes. Literally everything was wet. I now carry my rain jacket with me ALWAYS.
We tracted into a house with a well and I learned how to draw water from the well so that was pretty cool! I also learned how to make a dish from peru today for lunch. It was so good!
I love you all and the mission here in Guatemala. I see so many miracles everyday. This gospel is true and we can do all things through the Lord!
Hermana Gunderson


More Pictures!

Apartment Selfie
More selfies


Saturday’s baptism


Week 1

There is so much to tell you! I’m finally in the field!!! I feel like I’ve basically started over in spanish but I know I’m learning and I just have to be patient!! Im in a little town;It’s beautiful. It’s layed out like Galena or Nauvoo. My new companion is Hermana Acosta and she has 6 months in the mission field. She speaks no english so I’m definitely learning how to communicate in spanish. She is a great trainer. And spanish is her second language! she grew up speaking Kechwa (i dont know how to spell it) but its the language of the Incas.
It is so hot, and I sweat so much during the day. But it almost always rains every day. And by rains I mean it compeltely pours. Ive come home with soaking wet shoes and skirt several times. The ward here is really small, but the members are amazing. They are really nice and loving. Latin people in general are super nice. I also have never been so conspicuous. I mean haviung the missionary badge makes me pretty conspicuous, but add the fact that I’m a gringa and basically sometimes I feel like a walking circus attraction.

So much has happened, but i want to share two highlights. One day we tracted into this lady and she told us that she was really busy and didnt have time to talk to us. We offered to help her and she accepted our help! So we spent about an hour helping her make lunch, which is the big meal here. I learned how to make tamales with frijoles (beans) and I made about 30 of them. it was super fun!
This whole month the mission is doing 40 days of fasting for miracles. Each day a different area is fasting and we take turns throughout the 40 days. It was our turn to fast on friday and I can testify that fasting brings miracles. Wednesday and Thurday barely anyone wanted to talk to us. We were tracting and tracting but no one that we talked to was a positive new investigator. But during and after the fast, we found so many people that are new and willing to receive lessons from us. But the biggest miracle is that I HAVE A BAPTISM ON SATURDAY!!!! This Hermano and his family came to the Activity friday night. His wife is a member but he isnt. He has been taught by the missionaries before, but Sunday night was our first lesson with him. We invited him to be baptized this saturday and he accepted!! He said that he wants to completely change his life and strengthen his family and is excited to be baptized. There is a temple trip on decemeber 5 and he wants to go to that! As we were teaching him i could see the spirit in his eyes and how the knowledge of this gospel is already changing his life. He is someone that the Lord prepared and put in our path. This is truly the Lord´s work!
We are teaching a little boy  who is in a part member family. He is so sweet and loves to sing hymns and has a desire to learn more about Jesus. He said that he couldnt understand me the first time we taught him, but the next day he said he understood me. And he even asked in his prayer that I could learn spanish. It was so nice.
A big finding opportunity that we have is our English classes featuring yours truly!!! Im excited to teach english but as im learning spanish im realizing how difficult english really is. yesterday in our lesson with the little boy that were teaching,  they wanted me to pray in English so i did. But im so used to praying in spanish that I kept accidentally slipping into spanish.
I know that the Church is true and that the Book of Mormon is true and that this gospel changes peoples lives!!!
Love and miss you all!
Hermana Gunderson
At the Governor’s palace
Photobomb (at the Gov’s palace)
Sarah and her companion, Hermana Bernal
Statue representing peace (they call it the Ammon statue:))


New companions Hermana Gunderson and Hermana Acosta

Last week in the CCM!

Hola! I’m leaving on Tuesday! I can’t believe it! The time has gone by so fast!

As I’ve looked back on these weeks in the CCM, I’ve realized how real the Gift of tongues is. I started out with little to no spanish and now I can teach with confidence and express myself decently in conversations. I think sometimes its hard to see gifts of the spirit like the gift of tongues working in your life because we have this idea of what it will be and we havent reached that point yet. But its in Gods way and time not ours. I see how much I still have to go but when I step back and look at how far I’ve come, I know that there is no other way that it could have happened except through the atonement of Christ.
We are using spanish much more throughout the day now. We are speaking only spanish in our class and when we speak in English, we get a point and when we get 5 points we have to recite the missionary objective or sing a song in spanish by ourselves in front of a latino district. So basically I’m speaking spanish all the time. And with my calling as Hermana leader, I have to help the Hermanas who speak spanish as well. We had four latina hermanas move into the room next door and we share a bathroom with them and living with them has also improved my spanish. This sunday I bore my testimony in spanish. I was also reminded of how grateful I am that I’m learning spanish and not Quiche, the mayan language. The elders that are learning Quiche all gave their testimonies in Quiche and it is a very tribal language and it sounds really hard. it sounds super cool, but Im so grateful for spanish.
Hermana Bernal and I have been working finding the need of our investigators better. We are asking questions and trying to follow the spirit, but sometimes we are told the need of our investigator in one of their answers, but we dont listen and we teach something that really doesnt help them. We are so focused on trying to teach well and understand spanish and do this in 15 min that we dont listen very well. But we are working on it because it is so important to listen to our investigators. We teach people not lessons. We want to help them and love them and we do that by listening.
I dont think I have communicated to you guys how much I love Hermana Bernal. She is amazing. She is going to Honduras (But not where Jaden is). She is such an exmaple to me. She works so hard, A couple weeks ago she was sick and even when she was not feeling well at all, she wanted to be in class and working and learning. We work so well together too. Sometimes we are so in tune that we say the same things at the same time. She is funny and fun and she laughs at my jokes so thats a plus. I’m really going to miss her.
Yesterday a member of the seventy Adrian Ochoa came to speak to us and give a devotional. Me, Hermana McBee, Jessop, and Bernal sang As Sisters in Zion and Called to Serve for the special musical number. We sounded so good. We love singing together. the devotional was really good as well. He talked about 7 things that help missionaries become the best missionaries.
The CCM cooks put on a special halloween dinner for us on saturday. It was amazing. There were so many amazing desserts and sweeets and we basically ate so much food. It was a nice little change to the scenery of the ccm and eating great food is always fun,
A funny story from this week was Saturday morning at 2:30 in the morning the fire alarm went off. It wasnt real, but its a funny story. All of the second floor elders evacuated, but none of the Hermanas did. All of us in the room were awake but we made a silent agreement not to go out. We were like “I dont hear anyone in the hall and we had a drill earlier this morning so its probably not real.” So we stayed in bed and went back to sleep. What makes me feel bettter is that Pres. and Hermana Cox also stayed in bed for a while. Though at leadership meeting he was like your trusted Hermana leaders failed to evacuate and all the hermanas would have died had it been real. I was like woops. My bad, sorry about that, terrible Hermana Leader right here. We definitely need to be better and actually evacuate but it was one of those times where your sleepy mind makes the decision and its not a great one but you follow it anyway.
Thats about all for this week! And next time you hear from me I will be IN THE FIELD!!! I also dont know if my president will let me email this week so it may be two weeks before i email again.
I love you all and I know that this work is true!
Hermana Gunderson

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