12.9.2017: Small Talk with a Seventy

Note from Becky:  Seventies are a position of leadership in our church, referenced in Luke 1:10:   “After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come.”
Hey everyone!
Week two here in the office was better than week one.  We were actually able to get out and work a little bit!  We were able to work a lot with the members in family home evenings for the Light the World program.  The church members here are incredible, they love the missionaries and they are so willing to support us!  The key to our success here in our area will be the members
This week was slightly interesting, there was a missionary that went home early that we had to go pick up from his area.  But, that area was Ixhuatán!!  We got to drive all the way out to Ixhuatán with my companion, Elder Woll who is now in Ixhuatán, and the Sisters from Cuilapa (an area kind of close to Ixhuatán)  It was a fun little road trip, but man did it take a while hahaha! I love Ixhuatán so much, and it was great to find a few people I know in the street there.
Funny story:  Last Sunday, we went to go contact as a zone in this giant local park center thing in the middle of the capital called Obelisco.  It is very central, its basically the center of Guatemala City.  We go there every Sunday as a zone to contact families that we see there, and then we send the referrals to the area where that family lives.  Anyways, as soon as we got there we found 2 other elders from the zone and started talking to them to see where we would go. Then out of nowhere this family came up on the side of us and said, “Hey, you guys are Mormons, right?”  So Elder Woll and I stepped away from our conversation with the other Elders and started chatting with this interested family.  They had SOOOOO many good questions!  They were asking about where we were from and why we go on missions and why we are called the “Mormons”  and about prophets, it was incredible!  When they had already asked several questions, Elder Woll pulled out a pamphlet of the Restoration to give to them.  He went to give it to them and the father of the family said,  “We already have that, we don’t need another one.”  He then paused for about 5 seconds, and unzipping his sweater to reveal a shirt and tie, he said, “Elders, you passed the test.  I am the Branch President in the Las Lomas Branch, and this is my family.  VERY well done.”  Elder Woll and I both turned very red, and we all laughed. The rest of the zone already knew who it was and a few of them were watching us contacting them, laughing at us, haha.  It was a good practice to go contact a bunch of other families afterwards!
I’m guessing at this point you might be wondering a little bit about the title of the email.  On Sunday before Sacrament meeting started, I went and was introducing myself to a sister in the ward.  I looked up, and right in front of me was Elder Valeri V. Cordon, General Authority 70 and member of the Central America Area Presidency.  Turns out, he and Elder Ochoa and Elder Zeballos (also General Authority 70’s and the other 2 members of the Area Presidency) all live within our area limits, and every now and again they come to the Sunday meetings here in the Montufar ward!  Needless to say, I got slightly nervous when I saw him. He came up to Elder Cañada and me and then proceed to invite us to a family home evening that very same afternoon in his home!  The appointment ended up falling through, but that’s okay because later that night we got to the chapel to watch the Christmas Devotional.  We arrived pretty early, and we walked in and the only person there was Elder Cordon!  We were able to talk to him for a good half an hour and ask him different questions.  Afterwards, he invited us to 3 different family home evenings there in his house in the month of December.  We are very excited to be able to teach referrals from Elder Cordon in his home in this month of December.  I am also excited to just get to learn from him and see his style of teaching, it will be incredible!
Miracle of the week: On Sunday we didn’t bring any investigators ourselves, and Sacrament meeting ended, and we thought that we hadn’t had any investigators there.  Turns out, the members brought two investigators, and it was the first time for both of them to come to church!  They are both VERY receptive, their names are Shalom and Reyna, and we are super excited to see their progress.
Spiritual Thought of the Week:  This week I was reading in Mark and I found some verses that I really like.  They are in Mark 11:25-26 and they say, “And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.  But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.”  These verses might sound kind of strong, but they are so important.  If we want Heavenly Father to forgive us of our transgressions, we need to forgive others first!  My invitation for each one of you today is to forgive someone this week who has offended you, or someone you are holding a grudge against.  I promise that you will feel so much better when you do it!  Forgiveness is really for our benefit, not the other person.
This week I had two new Spanish errors which were pretty funny. In Spanish, the verb “meter” is similar to put or to place.  I wanted to tell Elder Woll to “put that water bottle there” but I said, “Met that water bottle there.”  And the second one…In Spanish, the verb “planchar” is to iron (like shirts and other clothing).  To say a shirt is ironed you used the word “planchado.”  Yesterday, I wanted to say that the shirt looked like it had been ironed and I said.  “The shirt looks planched.” Gotta love my English, it is so awful right now!
Well, the time is flying by! The office is great, I really do love it.  I love getting to work so closely with President Shumway and learning from him.  Please keep the emails coming, I would love to hear how you are doing.  Have a great week!
Elder Semus
Misión Guatemala Sur
1. Bowling with the APs today.  Bowled a personal high 156
2. Driving the other day all the say to a part called San Raymundo!
3. The 4 Elders from our MTC district!
4. The sign we passed to go to Cobán Guatemala
5. “El Mirador”

12.2.2017: Office, Week 1

*Note from Becky:  Notice the storm trooper mug on his desk in the photo…he picked it up at a thrift store in his first area, haha.  And please pray for safety as he drives.  🙂
Hello friends and family!
I feel really weird writing you all right now, since it is a Saturday.  But, I guess I will get used to it.
This week was fantastic!  But, suuuuuuuuuuuper long and tiring.  On Tuesday, we finished doing all the changes and went straight to the office to start getting all of the systems updated with where the new missionaries are and who they are with and whatnot.  The truth is, I never realized how much the secretaries did until I got here, and its a lot, haha. On Tuesday we left the office at 10 pm and then woke up at 2 am to take missionaries to the airport to go home.  I am the designated driver which is fun!  My companions licence was robbed in his first area, so he isn’t allowed to drive.  But I like it, and we drive our pickup truck and Sister Shumway’s Rav4.   Anyways, Tuesday we did that and then Wednesday we were in the office from 9 am to 9 pm and woke up on Thursday morning at 3 am to take more missionaries to the airport. Needless to say, I have been somewhat short on sleep this week.
My new companion is Elder Cañada from El Salvador, my first comp from there.  He has just this change and one more to end the mission, so I will be his last companion.  We are actually in a temporary trio for another 4 or 5 days, and the other elder is Elder Woll, my MTC companion!  He is waiting for a few things to get worked out with the health of some other missionaries before he gets out working this change, so he is in the office with us doing some special projects for President Shumway.
To be honest, last Sunday when we got the transfer calls and they assistants told me I was going to be a secretary, I was pretty surprised and somewhat confused.  I am in a good stride right now in the mission, in the last 7 months, and it wasn’t expected at all.  Anyways, we were on the way to the office after changes with President and he told me something interesting.  He said “Elder Semus, I honestly don’t know why you are in the office.  But what I do know is that that is exactly where the Lord told me He needs you.”  That really impacted me a lot, I am so grateful for President Shumway and the special spirit that he has.
The zone is also really great, we have the zoo and the airport and most importantly, the temple.  The zone is great and we are excited to get done what the Lord expects of us this change.
Miracles of the week:  So this week its a miracle that I haven’t gotten in a car crash yet!  It’s crazy on the roads.  The motorcycles drive in between all the cars, the police don’t enforce any traffic laws, and the traffic is horrible.  Sometimes driving here is the most stressful part of my day, haha, but really, in all seriousness I have felt the hand of the Lord this week.  He truly protects us and helps us in all we need, whether it is to know who to talk to in the street or what to do on an office project, the influence of the Spirit is the same.
Spiritual thought of the week: So its already December!  Its hard to believe how fast the time has gone this year, I haven’t even felt it.  December is such a special time of year, and we feel the spirit of Christmas when we give.  Its great to receive, but it is better to give.  We need to love our neighbor as ourselves and look out to find the people that need our help in this Christmas season.  So go out and do it!  #LightTheWorld
Well, I’m off until next Saturday!  Well, kind of… we are in charge of sending some template emails on behalf of President Shumway, and from the mission email I sent an email to my own mom and dad telling them that I had been assigned to be a new Executive Secretary, and emailing them felt pretty weird.  But what was even funnier was then receiving a response from my own mom, because she had no clue I was the one that sent her that email… funny stuff.
Remember to write me on Friday, not on Sunday anymore!  Have a great week!


Elder Semus
Misión Guatemala Sur
1. The district!
2. My office desk
3. The office
4. How many turtles are in this picture?  If you say 4, you are wrong
5. Me and my new comps at the zoo

11.27.2017: Off to the Office

What a crazy week it was, but it was fantastic as always. First of all, I want to wish all of you a very Happy Thanksgiving, I am so grateful for all that I have! Thank you for all of your emails of gratitude, you are all incredible.

So this week was insanely tiring because we were waking up early basically every day of the week  (regular wake up time is 6:30 am.) On Tuesday we woke up early to go to go with the Assistants to the Multi-zone Conference and help set up, and then on WednesdayThursday, and Friday, we woke up for doctors appointments. I am going to start going to the same therapy place that my comp has been going to for his back, but I am going to go for my shoulder. They are going to help me strengthen my shoulder in these last 7 months of the mission so that I can reduce the probability of it dislocating again before I can get home for the surgery.

Well, we have changes, and they are very unexpected! My companion is going to stay here and recieve a new companion that has just 1 change more than him in the field (has only been out 6 weeks longer), so it will be a very green companionship. But I know they will do well. I have trained my son well, haha!  Anyways, I am going to an area called Montufar to be companions with Elder Canada (note from Becky: pronounced with the accent on the middle syllable, and the a’s sound like “ah.”  So it looks like the country to our north, but sounds different.), and together we will be the executive secretaries of the mission! First, about my area. The Montufar chapel is actually really, really special because it was the first Stake Center build in all of Central America! How cool is that?? My new area is actually pretty close to my area right now, and other than that, I don’t know too much about it. (Another note from Becky: the airport is in his new area, so if you are inclined to look it up on Google maps, that is the general area where he will be.)  Anyways, I will have LOTS to do as an executive secretary. First off, I’m going to get to drive! We are the ones that take the missionaries to the airport when they are finishing their missions. Our house is the mission home, so every change, the missionaries who are ending their missions will stay with us. Tomorrow night that will happen,  and it should be fun. We are in charge of making sure everybody has the pamphlets and Books of Mormon and other materials that they need, we handle everything that has to do with the cell phones, we do everything with baptismal registros. We also handle everything with referrals, passports, medical insurance cards, data of the mission, etc. I will be in the office all morning until about 4pm every day, and then we will leave to do normal missionary work from 4 until 9. So we are going to have shorter days, but we are going to baptize lots, I know it. One of the other big changes is that my p-day will now be on Saturdays. I repeat, MY P-DAY IS NOW ON SATURDAY. I do that so that all y’all can make sure to write me on Friday nights instead of Sunday nights. That will begin this weekend.  Due to all the info and whatnot that is sent on Mondays, I will be in the office working like normal on Monday, and the whole office all has their p-days on Saturday. So when you write me, please write me on Fridays and I will now be responding on Saturdays!!

Miracle of the Week: This week, we were able to have our Stake Conference, which was fantastic. On Saturday, we sang a special musical number as a zone in the adult session of Stake Conference on Saturday evening, and then we all sang in the stake choir Sunday morning. It was wonderful getting to participate so much!  Anyways, Donna and Mynor were able to come to the stake conference. Even though I won’t be here for their baptism, I am okay with that because we found them and have taught them everything they need to know, and they will be baptized very soon. Anyways, the talks were all fantastic, and a lot of them were centered around marriage and the blessings that come from it. I didn’t get the chance to talk to them about it, but I know that Donna and Mynor both really benefited from the conference, and I am grateful for stake leaders who are willing to act on promptings of the Spirit of what to speak on.

Spiritual Thought of the Week: This week, we were able to go to the temple with the stake, which was awesome. On the way home, we started singing Christmas hymns in the jam packed bus. There weren’t any more seats left, so we were standing up in the middle, which gave me a great opportunity to see everyone around me. It was so special to see everyone singing along. There was a mom singing along with her 3 daughters, to young women singing together, an 80 year old man singing next to a little 7 year old girl, there were lots of different people singing. Everyone singing! In that moment, observing everyone around me, I felt such a special spirit. It was incredible to see what Christmas does to all of us, how much it brings us all together. There is a quote from Bonnie L. Oscarson which reads, “The spirit of Christmas is Christlike love.” It is so incredible the special spirit that each and every one of us can experience during this Christmas season. I want to invite each and every one of you to reach out this week and help someone else feel the spirit of Christmas, which is Christlike love.  Check out mormon.org for ideas on ways to serve others every day of the Christmas season. #LightTheWorld

This week, I tried fish in a way that I had never tried before! We went on Friday with the Diaz Family, which is Robin and his grandparents. They wanted to give us a nice big last lunch since we knew that one of us was going to leave. So we got there and lunch was fish. But, it was a fish with scales and the head and eyes and tail and everything that had been put in the frier. Just the entire fish. I had no clue how to eat it, hahaha! Needless to say, I was very careful as I was eating so that I didn’t get any bones stuck in my throat.

Thank you for all of your emails, and remember that this week, you’ve gotta write me on Friday night and I will be responding on Saturdays!


Elder Semus
Misión Guatemala Sur
1.  At a birthday party
2.  The temple!
3. Temple pics (this was a candid)
3.  Hermana Zapata her “daughter” Hermana Mendez, me, and my “son” Elder Cribas
4.  With Hermana Guevara
5.  Same
6.   Elder Hernandez and I decided to twin for Stake Conference
7. We went to someones house for a small birthday celebration
8.  The zone with President and Hermana Shumway after Stake Conference
9.  The Yupe Family came and visited me in Stake Conference yesterday!

11.20.2017: Thanksgiving

Hello friends and family!
How are you all doing?  As always, it was another great week here in Guatemala with lots of miracles as always.
It was a crazy week because we didn’t have one normal day just to work!  Monday was p-day, Tuesday I had my MRI (more on that later), Wednesday my comp had back therapy, Thursday I had my appointment with the doctor about my shoulder, Friday my comp had another back therapy session, Saturday we had to do our weekly planning session, and Sunday we had church and choir practice for Stake conference. Needless to say, we didn’t have much time to work, but we were able to make the most of it.
On Tuesday, I got my MRI, and it was pretty interesting. I had never had one before, so I was pretty curious about it. I got there and I had to change into a hospital robe (selfie included below), and then I went into the MRI room.  I laid down on the table, they strapped me down, and then moved the table into the round tube thing.  I got kinda nervous at first, being strapped down in such a small space not being allowed to move the slightest centimeter, but it went away in like a minute.  I was there for a good half an hour, and then I left.  On Thursday, I took the results to the shoulder doctor, and he said I need surgery, but that he wouldn’t recommend it here in the mission just because of the length of the recovery and the need for physical therapy and whatnot.  Mom, start looking for good shoulder doctors for when I get home!
Last Monday we went and visited the Yupe Family in La Brigada, it was so great getting to see them again!  They gave us a suuuuuuper good lunch!  It was awesome. They are going to come to our Stake Conference this weekend, which should be good.  As a zone, we are going to sing “Nearer My God to Thee (Mas Cerca Dios de Ti) in our multi-zone conference this Tuesday, and Amazing Grace with the Stake Presidency in stake conference on Saturday, and we are all singing in the stake choir on Sunday.  Lots of singing this week!
Miracle of the Week: Well, I will be happy and sad if I have changes next week.  This week, we were able to find another person to get baptized, it is the daughter of a less active sister who wasnt coming just because she didnt know where the church was.  She will get baptized in December.  Also, Donna and Mynor are going to get married!  Mynor said he wants to wait until January, but I think we are going to push it up to December.  So, I will be happy if I stay because we will keep baptizing, we are hoping to have about 5 baptisms here in December!  But, if I go, I can be satisfed with my work here, and that I am leaving the area better than I found it.  When I got here, they had just baptized 2 days before, but there was nobody else!  Elder Rodriguez worked our butts off, and me and Elder Cribas have done the same, and the Lord has blessed us so much.
Spiritual Thought of the Week:  So this week is Thanksgiving, wooo!  There are so many things to be grateful for.  One habit that I have developed here in the mission is saying at least one prayer of only giving thanks every day.  It is incredible all of the things that the Lord has blessed us with, and when we kneel down and thank Heavenly Father for everything that we have, and when we recognize that everything we have comes from Him, He will continue blessing us with even more.  So this week, make a special effort to be more grateful!
So, as I did last year, I would love to get an email from each and every one of you of what you are grateful for!  Even if its just a simple letter like,  “Hello Elder Semus, I am grateful for ___”.  I would love to hear that from everyone!  My email is joseph.semus@myldsmail.net and I will do my absolute best to respond to all of you.
I am so grateful for the opportunity that I have to be serving my Guatemalan brothers and sisters, I have come to love them so much.  I am grateful for all of the miracles that see every day, even when it might not be the best day.  I am grateful for my parents, my siblings, my aunts and uncles and grandparents and cousins, my friends, President and Sister Caffaro, President and Sister Shumway, all of my companions, I could go on and on and on, but then this email would be really long.  The point is, I am so very grateful for everything the Lord has blessed me with in my life.
As I mentioned above, next week we have changes!  This upcoming Sunday, they will tell us.  To be honest I kind of want to go, I like having changes and getting to know and learn from new members and new places, but we will have to see what happens.  I have really enjoyed my time here in Castillo Lara, especically with my hijo Elder Cribas.  But, we will see what happens!
Have a fantastic week, I love you all!


Elder Semus
Misión Guatemala Sur
1. Lunch with the Yupes!!
2.  Same
3. Me in my hospital robe before my MRI
4. This week we made a Honduran food with a Sister from Honduras in our ward, they are called pastellitos.  They have potatoes and rice inside and are served with red sauce and they are super good
5. Me and my MTC teacher at the temple, we found him leaving my comps back appointment.
6. The Palacios Family.  They are super awesome, they just moved to our ward a week and a half ago
7.  We went to a wedding.  It was fun!

11.13.2017: #LighttheWorld

Dear Friends and Family,

What another fantastic week here in Castillo Lara.  The week before last was a bit tough on us, but this week was a TON better.  We were able to find lots of new investigators who were willing to accept baptismal dates and everything.  It was fantastic.
This week was NUTS with divisions, it was almost too much, hahaha.  On Tuesday I went to Utatlán with Elder McClellan so that his companion could do the baptismal interview we needed here in our area.  Then on Wednesday, I went in divisions in Centro America (another area in our zone) with Elder Cruz so that I could interview one of their investigators for baptism.  Then on Thursday, my companion and I went to do divisions in the Assistant’s area, so we didn’t work too much this week in our own area.
Wedneday in divisions with Elder Cruz, we went to the doctor together.  He broke his toe, and I partially dislocated my shoulder again about 2 weeks ago, so we went to the same doctor.  The doctor said that my shoulder joint is very loose and that I will need surgery.  We will see if it happens in the mission or when I’m home.  He ordered me to get an MRI done on my shoulder, which I am getting tomorrow and to be honest, I’m kind of interested to get it because it always looks so cool on TV.  Anyways, please pray for me so everything will go well with my shoulder!
It was pretty funny this week, when we were in divisions with the assistants, I got to work with Elder Lyons, one of my best friends in the whole mission, he is from my group (we started our mission at the same time.)  Anyways, we were contacting in a somewhat rural part of their area, and wayyyyyy down below on the other side of this hilly canyon thing (in Spanish its called a barranco) we saw this guy working on his field that is on the side of a hill.  We felt like we should go contact him, so we started the trek to get down there and to the other side of the barranco.  We walked through chest high grass and thorns and whatnot, so needless to say, we felt pretty on top of the world when we finally got to him.  We thought for sure he was going to be awesome.  Anyways, we walk over, introduce ourselves, and he wanted absolutely nothing, hahaha.  We sang him a hymn there on the hillside in the sun, gave him a pamphlet, and left.  But on the way up, me and Elder Lyons were talking about how the Lord really does bless us for our efforts even if it’s not how we think He will, and that we would be blessed for having gone such a long distance just to talk to that one man.  Later that night, we had an appointment fall, but the next door neighbor let us in and he  accepted a baptismal date in the first lesson!  Pretty cool how the Lord works.
Miracle of the Week:  Robin got baptized!!  We have been working with Robin for a little over a month now, and he got baptized on Saturday by his grandpa, who he lives with.  Robin is 15 and is so humble!  He is incredible, he wants to serve a mission, and is very involved already in the church.
Spiritual Thought of the Week:  I’m guessing that most of you that are members of the church have heard already about the program for this Christmas, Light the World.  I love this so much!  I shared about a month ago about the difference between light and dark in the gospel, so I wont explain all that again.  But, it all applies here! I love some verses in the Book of Matthew that say,”Ye are the light of the world.  A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.  Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick, and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” I love these verses, because there Jesus is teaching just how we teach.  He taught a concept, extended an invitation for each one of us, and then a promise if we do it! The concept is in verse 14 when he teaches us that we are all the light of the world.  Each and every one of us can be a light to those who are around us, always remember that!  Later, in verse 16, he invites us to do something.  The invitation is to let our light shine before men.  That means that we just need to let the happiness of the gospel radiate from us!  Then, he promises something to us if we do it.  We have been promised that if we do that, that others will see our good works and we will be able to glorify our Heavenly Father.  So, check out this program on mormon.org and lds.org, and go out and light the world!
So, today is going to be pretty awesome.  Do you all remember the Yupe Family, that family that my dad knew back when he was here, and that I found when I was in Belen?  They live in an area called La Brigada, right next to Belen.  Anyways, President Shumway gave me permission to go visit them, as well as some of my converts, today!  We are actually pretty close to Belen and La Brigada, one of the areas in my zone touches Belen.  So, next Monday, I should have some pretty awesome pictures to send along!
The time is flying by, yesterday I hit 16 months!  Hard to believe.  Have a fantastic week!


Elder Semus
Misión Guatemala Sur
1. Robins baptism!
2. Pupusas from El Salvador in divisions with the Assistants (to the mission president)
3. Hermana Guevara! Shes really short hahaha
4. Us with the Relief Society Presidency
5. Me and my comp

11.6.2017: Tour de Guatemala

Hello Friends and Family,

It’s been a good week, even though we had a few different trails of our faith.  We were able to keep a good attitude every day and we are looking forward to a new week!  This Saturday, Robin is going to get baptized!  He is super excited to be able to get baptized and we are so grateful for the progress that we have had with him.
November 1st is the Day of the Dead here in Latin America, which was this last Wednesday.  What a lot of people do is they go to the cemeteries and they decorate the graves with flowers and whatnot.  A tradition that only exists here in Guatemala is to make a food called fiambre.  I may have wrote about it a bit last year, but to be honest, I didn’t know much about Guatemala last November, hahaha. Fiambre is a mix of lots of different sausages and veggies and vinegar and a few different other things.  I don’t have any pictures of it from this year, so I will send pictures from last year when I ate it. It’s pretty good!  Not the best, but it was a good.
We had something really neat happen on Wednesday.  We were walking out to one of the main roads on divisions in the morning, and it was closed off and there were a bunch of people on the sides of the road.  To be honest, I thought maybe someone died or something like that, but what it was was a bicycle race!  I’m not sure if its like a Latin version of the Tour de France or something, but it was something like that where there is a race for a bunch of days in a row.  We got out to the street as the leaders were passing, and we saw the whole peleton pass by as well.  Cool stuff.  I’m pretty sure a Guatemalan won the whole thing. (note from Becky:  I was curious, so I looked it up.  Here’s a link about this race, which is called the Vuelta a Guatemala.  That’s Spanish for Tour de Guatemala.  It’s interesting reading.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vuelta_a_Guatemala)
This week I was in divisions with Elder Chappell, and we were talking in the house in English.  In the middle of a normal English sentence, I said, “Mis parents,” (note from Becky:  Mis is the Spanis form of my, which distinguishes between singular and plural.)  I didn’t even realize it until Elder Chappell told me, hahaha.  It’s pretty funny how bad my English is getting.  I am starting to roll almost any “r” in almost any word; its really weird.
Miracle of the Week:  We were able to find 2 future baptisms this week!  They are 2 kids of a less active family who have been coming to church recently.  They want to get baptized soon!  They are almost ready, but it might have to wait until January for a few different reasons.  The thing is is that they are going to get baptized, whether or not I am here!  The Lord is so incredible with the people that he puts in our path
Spiritual Thought of the Week:  This week I was able to study a little bit about repentance in a few talks that President Shuwmay gave to use in interviews.  Repentance is such an important concept for all of us to apply!  Elder D. Todd Christofferson said, “Any pain entailed in repentance will always be far less than the suffering required to satisfy justice for unresolved transgression… Whatever the cost of repentance, it is swallowed up in the joy of forgiveness.”  One of my favorite things here in the mission is getting to see people repent and change their lives, and the change that is brought about in their lives is incredible.  Elder Christofferson ended his talk with a story that I would like to share with you, and he is quoting the words of President Boyd K. Packer.  He says, “In April of 1847, Brigham Young led the first company of pioneers out of Winter Quarters.  At that same time, 1,600 miles to the  west, the pathetic survivors of the Donner Party straggled down the slopes of the Sierra Nevada Mountains into the Sacramento Valley.  They had spend the ferocious winter trapped in the snowdrifts below the summit.  That any survived the days and weeks and months of starvation and indescribable suffering is almost beyond belief.  Among them was fifteen year old John Breen.  On the night of April 24th, he walked into the Johnsons Ranch.  Years later, John wrote, “It was long after dark when we got to the Johnsons Ranch, so the first time I saw it was early in the morning.  The weather was fine, the ground was covered with green grass, the birds were singing from the tops of the trees, and the journey was over.  I could scarcely believe that I was alive.  The scene that I saw that morning seems to be photographed on my mind.  Most of the incidents are gone from memory, but I can always see the camp near Johnsons Ranch.”  Said President Packer, “At first, I was very puzzled by his statement that most of the incidents are gone from memory.  How could long months of incredible suffering and sorrow ever be gone from his mind?  How could that brutal dark winter be replaced with one brilliant morning?  On further reflection I decided it was not puzzling at all.  I have seen something similar happen to people I have known.  I have seen some who have spent a long winter of guilt and spiritual starvation emerge into the morning of forgiveness.  When morning came, they learned this:  “Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more.” Doctrine and Covenants 58:42′”  I know that through the repentance process, we can come to know and love our Savior even more and He will lift us up!  To be continued next week…
Anyways, thank you all so much for your support, I really do appreciate you all.  Have a fantastic week! 


Elder Semus
Misión Guatemala Sur
1. Me cutting the bananas for the tajadas  (Note from Becky:  This picture makes me laugh, because he has always hated bananas.  I guess he’s over that.)
2.  Tajadas with my comp!
3.  Some sweet volcanoes from the Doctors office this morning
4.  Fiambre, picture from last year

2017 1026 Tajadas w Cribas (2)

2017 1026 Tajadas w Cribas (3)

2017 1106

2016 1101 Fiambre

10.30.2017: Shucos and Tajadas

It was an incredible week for us here in Castillo Lara with my hijo, Elder Cribas.  He is all better from the chicken pox and was able to work every day this week, woo hoo!  Very busy as always, but we were able to make the most of it.
Short cultural note:  My companion taught me how to make a typical food from Honduras its called tajadas.  What it is is green banana cut into little slices, and then fried.  We ate it with a red sauce and rice, it was really good!  Pictures included below.  (He actually forgot to attach that photo.  Will include it next week.)
We were pretty short on time this week to work, but we were able to see SO many miracles.  On Tuesday, we took Marcos to the temple, and he was able to enter for the first time.  It was so incredible seeing him there, and it motivated me and my companion to work even harder so that we can see more people enter the temple as well.  The young men also brought an investigator to the temple out of nowhere!  His name is Saul, and he went to a camp with the young men last weekend.  He used to be listening to the discussions, but then for some reason the missionaries stopped visiting him.  He told the young men at the camp that he wants to get baptized!  He came to church yesterday and we are going to visit him this week, and hopefully you will receive pictures of his baptism in about 2 or 3 weeks.
Wednesday I had a doctors appointment, so we only had about half a day to work, and on Thursday, my companion had two doctors appointments, one for his chicken pox and the other for his back. We left the house at 11am and got back at 7:30 pm.  Needless to say, from Monday to Thursday, we were not able to have very much time to work, but we made the most of it.
This week, we had a lunch with the stake presidency and the zone, they invited us to eat a food that is from here in Guatemala called Shucos!  A shuco is toasted bread with guacamole, a hot dog, ground beef, cabbage, mayo and ketchup.  It might not sound too good, but man, is it good!  I ate a ton of them, hahaha!
Miracle of the week:  As I have already said, we have seen so many miracles this week, in being able to take Marcos to the temple and finding Saul, but there was an even bigger one.  Two weeks ago, we had a lesson with Robin, a 15 year old young man who has been coming to church with his grandparents, who are church members.  He lives with them and they take care of him.  In that lesson, we decided we were going to talk about the importance of prayer, since every time we went we would invite him to pray at the end of the lesson and would never say it.  That day, we explained to him that he was basically ready for baptism, other than the fact that he hadn’t recieved an answer to a prayer, since he wasn’t praying to ask Heavenly Father what he should do in the first place.  So, we invited him to start saying personal prayers, and he did.  We walked in yesterday and before we even had the chance to sit down, he said to us, “Yeah, so about the baptism.  I want to get baptized not this weekend, but the next weekend.”  Wooooo!  It was so incredible hearing him tell us about how he received an answer through prayer, and afterwards we had a very spiritual lesson with him, in the which we all (his grandparents, me, my companion, and our ward mission leader, who is 18 years old and was a referral from the grandpa of Robin and is going to go on a mission soon) were able to share our testimonies with him.  So, next Saturday, November 11th, Robin will be baptized!
Spiritual Thought:  I would like to talk a little bit about prayer!  The fact that we have the ability to pray is so amazing.  The creator of the entire universe, our Heavenly Father, has given us a way to be able to talk with Him where ever we are, whatever time of day, and whatever the circumstance.  I have gained such a strong testimony of prayer in the mission!  We pray SO much.  As we wake up, to bless our breakfast, to start our personal study, to start companion study, to start language study, to leave the house, to bless our lunch, to bless our dinner, as we get back to the house, as we go to bed, and lots of other times in between in all the lessons, etc.  I know that Heavenly Father answers our prayers, but we just have to be willing to pray.  I invite each and every one of you to start developing a more frequent habit of prayer! As you do, I promise that you will feel closer to your Heavenly Father and He will answer you.
This week, please pray for Robin so that he will keep preparing himself for November 11th, for Saul so that he will keep progressing, and for Donna and Mynor so that they will make a decision about a specific date that they want to get married.
Thank you for all of your emails and for all of your support, I love you all!


Elder Semus
Misión Guatemala Sur
1.  Pday last Monday
2.  The temple with Marcos and Madelin
3.   Eating Shucos