Elder Colton West

Elder Colton West


Monday, November 24, 2014


Elder West (top row, 2nd from left) with his district at the Guatemala City Temple!

Yes, surprise surprise!  

I'm emailing a day early this week!  The reason for that is that tomorrow I won't be in the CCM for most of the day.  They're kicking us out to clean again, because we're getting 100-ish more Latino missionaries in for the last two weeks that I'm here.  So tomorrow morning we're going to the temple bright and early at 7:30, and as soon as we're done there we're hopping on a bus and going to downtown Guatemala City!  From what I've been told, we're going to a park that has a physical relief map of the entire country of Guatemala, then going to one of the big markets downtown.  I'll let you all know about that next week.

Things here at the CCM have been interesting this week.  I've told you about our practice "investigators," and that they can be a bit difficult.  This week they ramped up the difficulty for us, so much so that we actually lost one of our "investigators." And by lost, I mean that he decided that he doesn't want to meet with us any more.  Two hours later, we found out that we're getting the same investigator back, but with a twist.  We have to pretend that we've never met him before, and pick up where another set of missionaries left off two years ago when he stopped meeting with them.  We have our first lesson with our new old "investigator" today.  Here's hoping that all goes well.

Learning the Spanish language continues to go well, but I wouldn't go so far as to say it's easy.  There's so much to learn, and so little time to learn it in before I'm out in the real world.  The thing that has helped me most with learning Spanish is reading the scriptures in Spanish, without using the English scriptures to translate.  You might think that doing that would be a good idea, but it's not.  When you do that, you try to directly translate phrases that don't have a direct translation, and it doesn't actually teach you the language.  Translating with a Spanish-English dictionary lets me learn the language and figure out some of the more idiomatic ways of saying things.

Interesting Spanish fact of the day: Spanish has three different ways to say the scriptural phrase "and it came to pass..."

Elder Colton West
El Salvador San Salvador East Mission

(Note from mom aka blog admin: I think somehow the end of his letter got cut off. It ends rather abruptly and he always signs off with an actual ending!  I will ask and add anything that got cut off next week. The big SUPER JOY is that we got pictures this week!!!! YIPPEE!!!!)

Elder West (top row, left end) with his zone at Guatemala CCM (MTC)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Week 3: "Parangaricutirimicuaropsicologia!"

Hola from the CCM!  

Week 3 is well underway and things have been interesting here.  
We now have somewhere around 110 missionaries in total here.  
I still don't know where they put most of them, because the 
second floor dormitory hall doesn't look that big.  But apparently
it is.  We all managed to escape the rumored room changes, thank
goodness.  So I'm still roomed with 5 other Nortes (North Americans).

Since I know you're all wondering what in the world the title of this 
email means, I'll go ahead and tell you.  According to one of the 
Latino Elders, "parangaricutirimicuaropsicologia" is the Spanish 
equivalent of "supercalifragelisticexpialidocious."  I'm pretty sure
that it translates into something in English, because it ends in
-psicologia (psychology), but I have no idea what it would be.

We didn't get to go to the mercado this week.  But we did get to do
something better.  We went street contacting for a little while on
Saturday evening!  For those of you who don't know what that means, it
means that we left the CCM and talked with people out on the streets
of Guatemala City.  And by streets, I mean one side of the block that
the CCM is on.  It's maybe a third of a mile long.  But in half an
hour my district (12 missionaries in total) managed to give 11 Books
of Mormon to potential investigators, with a challenge to read the
book and pray about it.  Not too bad for a bunch of kids (and me) who
have only been in the country for three weeks and barely speak the
local language.

Our instructors really pulled out the stops with our training
"investigators."  These "investigators" are just the instructors
acting like a person that they baptized on their missions.  Our first
"investgator," Jaime, was the perfect investigator.  Always interested
in the lessons, always kept his commitments, wanted to get baptized
ASAP, etc.  Our new "investigators," "Gabriel" and "Veronica," are
something else entirely.  They are both more difficult to connect
with, and have struggles that we have to help them overcome before
they are willing to believe in the gospel.  But I'm glad that the
instructors are being hard on us in this way.  I, and the others here
with me, are going to be dealing with difficult investigators for our
entire mission.  This lets us figure out how to deal with certain
things in a more controlled environment, one where we can make
mistakes without there being lasting consequences.

Scripture for the week: Mosiah 3:19..."For the natural man is an enemy
to God, and has been from the Fall of Adam, and will be forever and
ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit; and
putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the Atonement
of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble,
patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord
seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his
father."  If I had to pick one scripture to teach the Gospel of Jesus
Christ with, I would probably pick that one. (Note: I apologize if the
grammar of that scripture is incorrect.  I'm quoting from memory.)

That's all for this week!  I can't wait to read everyone's emails next week!

Keep on being awesome!

Elder Colton West
El Salvador, San Salvador East Mission

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Week 2: No Me Gusta Haircuts!

As I'm sure you can infer from the title, I was unable to escape the clippers this week.  I managed to get away from them the first week that I was here, but one of the teachers caught me during our volleyball game today and told me that I had to get a haircut.  So now I have something like a # 4 or 5 on top, and 2 on the sides.  Yuck.
This week, we're getting a bunch of Latino missionaries.  Like 70-something of them.  I just hope that I don't have to switch rooms, having to repack and re-unpack all of my stuff doesn't sound very fun.

Now to answer a few questions.  Yes, we've gotten to leave the CCM other than to go to the temple (which is literally 200 yards away from the CCM).  This morning we all got kicked out for a couple of hours so that they could deep clean the building before the new missionaries started arriving.  We went to a shopping center that is about a 5 minute walk from here.  That was a fun little adventure.  I found out that all of the soda here uses real sugar instead of HFCS!  Thank goodness.

We do have an assigned companion here in the CCM.  My comp is Elder Wallace, of Boise, Idaho.  He was on the BYU Lacrosse team before he came here.  After the mission, he is going back to BYU to finish his degree in... Psychology, I think.  I'll find out for sure, and include that in my next email.  Which will be next Tuesday.  In fact, all of my P-days will be on Tuesday at the CCM.  Last week was the exception.

Nacimos listos (title of last weeks letter) means "I was born ready."  That's what we sometimes say to the teachers when they ask us if we are ready for something.

Before I came here, I got a phone call from some church office somewhere in Utah.  They did a quick over the phone interview, and then told me that I would be put in an intermediate Spanish class in the CCM.  And had I gone to the Provo MTC, I would have.  There is no intermediate class here.  There's the native-speaker (Latino) classes, and the non-native-speaker (everyone else) classes.  Us non-natives are here for 6 weeks.  So I will be getting out of here sometime in the first week of December.

The last two weeks have been a unique time for the Guatemala CCM.  We didn't have any Latino Elderes or Hermanas here.  Usually there are at least half a dozen.  Today, the first few of that group of 70 are coming in.  Two weeks from now, when the Latinos leave, there will just be the Americanos who got here with me (24 in total) because they're closing this CCM until next year.  So that's going to be interesting.
That's all for now.  Email me if you have any questions!  Or if you just want to talk.

Until next week!

Elder West

Add on from mom: I caught Colton in real time on email today and was able to ask a few questions about his roomies and get a reply.  So here's a little more on that:

You did in fact catch me!  Yes, I'm liking my comp.  We get along well, and we're meshing really well with teaching "investigators." The rest of my roommates are good guys, and we're all getting along for the most part.  In my room, we have me and my comp, Elders Jones and Durbin (both going to the same mission as me), and Elders Neilson and Goldberry (going to the Guatemala South Mission).

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Week 1: Nacimos Listos! ("Born Ready!")

Hola from the Guatemala Ciudad CCM! 
(Centro para Capacitacion Misional, or MTC)

Today is my first day that I'm actually able to email everyone.  
Week one here has been rather interesting.  But before I
tell you about that, two announcements.  First, I need to let you know

that there will be no pictures sent while I'm in the CCM.  We are not
allowed to have our cameras for the 6 weeks we are here (yes, it's 6

whole weeks) because there have been incidents involving cameras in
years past.  As far as I know, it's just a thing here at the Guatemala

CCM, but rules are rules, so you'll just have to wait for 5 more weeks
to get pictures from me.  Second, I'm having to use the basic HTML
layout for my email because we have 25 missionaries using the
computers at the same time and taking up all of the bandwidth.  So let
me apologize in advance if the formatting of this email isn't so

Now, the good stuff.  Week one at the CCM has been......Different.

Getting used to the schedule has been a big adjustment.  We have to
get up at 6:30 every morning.  There's an hour to shower, shave, and
get ready for the day before breakfast.  Starting at 8:00, we have an
hour of personal study time, then an hour of language study.  After
that is two hours of instruction.  The topics vary, but it's mostly
basic Spanish that I already know.  Lunch is at noon, and lasts for 45
minutes.  After that, it's another three and a half hours of class.
Each afternoon, we get an hour of workout/sports time, starting at 3:15.

Now you're probably thinking that sports means futbol (soccer for you

Americanos), or other such stuff.  And you would be wrong.  The
Guatemala CCM is tiny.  Right now, we only have 42 missionaries here.
Yes, you read that right, forty-two.  In the whole CCM.  I'm pretty
sure that this CCM can only have around 120 missionaries at a time,
because we're supposed to be getting 70 latino elderes y hermanas next
week.  And I have no idea where they're going to put those people.
Back to the point though, our workout area consists of 2 basketball
courts and a small gym.  One of those courts has a volleyball net on
it, so during deportes (sports), there are usually two games of
half-court basketball, one game of volleyball, and the hermanas doing
some sort of fitness DVD in the gym.  So far, only two hermanas have
been brave enough to play volleyball with the Elders.  The rest of
them don't play until we go back inside.

After deportes (and a much needed shower), we have dinner.  The food

here, by the way, has been rather good.  It's mostly American food,
and I like it, but I would rather try some local stuff.  They do make
all sorts of interesting juices, and I'm one of the few people here
brave enough to try them.  The others don't know what they're missing
out on.  After dinner, we have 45-ish more minutes of class, then we
teach our first investigator.  And by first investigator, I mean one
of our teachers who acts like an investigator.  They wouldn't actually
stick us in actual discussions until we know the language much better.
The real discussions come during week 4 (I think), when we'll be
teaching actual less-active or inactive members.  After teaching, we
plan for the next day, then have 45 minutes of prep time.  Back to our
rooms by 10:15, and lights out is at 10:30.  Every once in a while, we
have a devotional instead of class or teaching in the evening.  And
that's the life of a missionary in the Guatemala CCM!

I'm doing pretty well with the language.  I'm remembering a lot of

stuff from high school and college spanish classes.  We haven't gone
over a whole lot of stuff that I haven't already learned, but I'm
still learning a few new things every day (mainly vocabulary).

I don't have too much time left, so I'm going to end here.  I'll be

able to email on my next P-day, which will be Tuesday!  P-day
this week was supposed to be yesterday, but we were scheduled with the
temple for today, and temple attendance is a big part of P-day here at
the CCM.

Email me any questions you still have!  Adios for now!

Elder West

Guatemala CCM (Missionary Training Center) - Elder West's home for the next 5 weeks!