Guatemala City North Mission

Guatemala City North Mission

Elder Jack Lauck Winn

Elder Winn back in Peten

Elder Winn back in Peten

Elder Winn in Llano Largo

Elder Winn in Llano Largo

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

My future is bright. I know who I am, what my purpose is, and where I am going.

I should be packing
or cleaning
but instead I am doing a lot of reflecting.
This envelope came towards the end of May bearing the name
Elder Jack Lauck Winn
and it sat on the mantle for what seemed like forever,
waiting for family and friends to assemble.
Opening this envelope began the 2 year 4 month adventure that is about to come
to it's conclusion.
There are no words to describe what I am feeling.
This last email from Elder Winn will always be one that I will treasure.
In it he bore a testimony gained through sacrifice, prayer and service.
It expresses beautifully what is in my heart as well.
Amen my son, amen.

this is a sad and a happy moment. 

Hey everyone!
            Well, this is the moment that we have been waiting for. With excitement, yet a little bit of sadness, i can tell you guys that this will be my very last email i send home as a missionary. =0 As you guys can imagine, i have many mixed emotions about ending my mission. I truly have loved these two years serving the Lord. I have learned so much about the Gospel, and about life in general.
            Well, this email is going to be different, because i am going to do Question Time first. Then, seeing how this is my last email, i will take a little bit of time to write my testimony.
So. Question time! Last one!
1.      The hotels we booked all have free internet. I really want to bring my laptop but I am just so afraid of everyone's warnings.I would leave it in the room which I would think would be fairly safe. Do you think that it is a bad idea?
Well, it would be safe in the hotel. I imagine it would be safe. I have never been robbed here. But then again, this country is dangerous. So i dunno. If you bring it, make sure it doesn't have any bank information, or files that you don't want to lose. I doubt someone will rob us though.

2. If you answered yes to that question then are there places that I can go to use the internet that we could stop at everyday so that I can keep in touch and download pictures?
Yes. There are Internet places everywhere.

3. You said that the family you are staying with in Peten has 5 children? Are there really two 15 year old boys or was that a typo?
NO, one of them is adopted.

4. What could I bring 15 year old boys? Would it be stupid to bring a tie or a white shirt? Is the family pretty poor or do they have the basic necessities?
I think that would be a good idea. The family isn't poor, but everyone likes a shirt and tie.
5. Do you have the number of a Mormon taxi driver that can drive us around on Thursday to the mission office and anywhere else you want to go that day?
Yes, i have a few numbers.

6. We get in at like 11:30 so we could go somewhere to visit that afternoon. Do you have an idea where you would like to go that day?
Yes. There are some people we can visit that day.

7. So are you going to the airport with your group when they fly out? Do  you have to wait around for us? Will you be alone?
Yeah, i will probably be there. I will probably go to the office, and wait until 11, and then go to the airport. It shouldn't be a problem.

8. Since it is conference weekend do you think that I might see Elder Smith to give him his box. Do the elders from the more outlying parts of the zone come in to Flores for conference. Will we be able to go listen somewhere and will it be in Spanish? (dumb question huh? lol)
Yes, you will see him. I think we will get to watch it in English too. That would be good for you guys. =)

9. Best/worst thing week we can answer that in person to each other. Why am I worried that there will be more worst things than best? Lol
The best thing i have eaten was pizza! We go together last Friday, because we were hitting 2 years that day. It was pretty fun. The worst thing i ate was a tamale. It was again, very gross.

10. Have you been practicing tell people that your awesome mother who is the best mother in the world is allergic pretty much to ALL type of food?
Lolol good luck when you come up here. =)

11. Any last requests on what to bring with us?
No, just pop-tarts. And a chicken biscuit
Well, now i would like to share a little bit of my testimony that i have acquired here on the mission. I am reminded of how Alma gained his testimony. Even though he saw an angel, the way he describes his testimony gaining process was by fasting and prayer. That is how i have gained my testimony as well. I have been able to see miracles, and great wonders here on my mission, but the real way i was able to gain my testimony was through simple and fervent fasting and prayer.
            I know through personal revelation that God lives, and that He loves us. I know that He has a plan for each and every one of us, because we are His children. We have great potential, and I know that God is actively helping us become who we need to become. I know that He sent His Son Jesus Christ to this earth, to atone and suffer for the sins of the world. I know that only through Him can we ever have the hope of coming back to live with our Heavenly Father. His Atonement made repentance possible, something we all need to be cleansed from our sins. I know that through repentance we can have the pains that we carry healed. That thought makes me very happy.
            I also know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the only true church on the face of the earth. It is true, because the priesthood authority was restored almost 200 years ago by the Prophet Joseph Smith. I know that he, at a young age, saw the Father and the Son, and that through him, the true Church of Christ was restored. That is something very important for me.
            I also know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. I have been able to study it very well for the last two years. I have found many answers to my prayers through that book. I know that it has come unto us through the power of God, and that if we read it throughout our lives, the Lord will bless us, and we will be able to better understand the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
            I know that through the power of the priesthood, my family is sealed together for all eternity. What a reassuring and comforting truth. I know that only through the restored Gospel can we enjoy these blessings.
            Leaving my mission will be sad for me, but i know that there are great things that lie ahead of me. I have developed a great love for the people i have served here in Guatemala.  
My future is bright. I know who I am, what my purpose is, and where I am going.
            I love my Savior. I know that He lives, and loves me.
            I love my family. I know that they know that. I know that they love me as well.
And this, my last testimony as a missionary, i seal up, knowing full well that by it, at the last day, i will be judged. I have thrust my sickle with my might.
I say these things in the name of our Savior Jesus Christ.
Elder Winn

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Two years ago to the day

This is two years ago.
The last picture taken of Jack and I together.
We look happy and we are..
but there is fear too.
Fear of the unknown.
uncharted territories.
New lands.
A week from today.
I will take another picture with my son.
The first picture in two years.
I wonder what our eyes will look like then.
I think I know.
Reunion eyes.
No fear...just joy.
I can't wait.

Hey guys!
So, pretty much this will be my last email. I guess i will be writing next Monday, but i will be seeing you guys very soon afterward. I am getting really excited to see you guys. Leaving the mission will be hard though. I have learned so much here, and i have barely felt the time. What a strange experience it will be to be home again. To be honest, i feel in many ways, that this country is my home. I have lived here for two years, as the people do, and i have grown to love it. I have gone through so many character building experiences. Some of my saddest and happiest moments have happened here on the mission.
            Well, this week has been pretty good. This Tuesday Elder Dunkley, Pierce, and I wrote our final goals and experiences packet. That was an interesting experience. I have always watched my companions who were ending their missions write it, and it always felt like i would never be doing that. Then we had some tasty breakfast at Burger King.
            We were not able to teach Gabriel this week, because he was out of town working. We did talk to his family though. They invited us over to eat tamales, and even though i hate tamales, it was great to have the invitation. This week, being my last week, i am going to be eating with the members almost every day. There’s a lot of people who are going to give us cake too. That will be fun.
            Yesterday was an interesting day. It was very hot, as usual, and we had an extra meeting at the Church, which added a good 4 miles to the walking count. Anyways, almost all of our teaching appointments fell, which was a little discouraging. My companion and i sat on a rock to try and figure out what to do. I said a silent prayer, asking for the Spirit so that i could know where to go, and that the day could be a productive day. We got up and decided to go knocking doors. It didn't take more than two houses to find a man sitting on his porch. We contacted him and he let us in. We taught him about the purpose of live and then invited him to baptism. He accepted and seemed interested to learn more. After that visit we were prompted to visit a member in San Jose. Hours previously she had prayed to God, asking Him to help her know that she and her family were not alone. We were able to be the answer to her prayer.
            Experiences like that are many in my mission. I know that this is the work of the Lord, because not only have i received specific answers to my own prayers, but i have been able to see other have their sincere prayers answered. Learning about prayer has been a great experience for me on my mission.
            This Wednesday will be my last district meeting. I have really enjoyed the opportunity this last change to be a district leader. In a lot of ways i like it better than being zone leader. I feel like i have a more in depth influence on the missionaries in my district. I love preparing district meetings, because i find that i learn so much from it.
            Well, I think it is time for Question time. There’s a lot of them this week.
Lets start with Dad’s

You said you thought you would meet us at the airport.  Is that for certain?  I guess I was expecting that we would need to take a taxi to your mission office and pick you up there.  Will you please find out from President Torres where we should meet you?  And what time?
Yeah, that is pretty for certain. The mission office is very close to the airport. I can get there in like 5 minutes. I just think it would be pretty difficult for you guys to get a taxi and explain where the mission office is when you cant speak Spanish. Lol
I’ll get the details planned out.

If we need to take a cab to your mission office, what is the best way to pay the cab driver?  Will we need to get some U.S. dollars exchanged for Quets at the airport?  I assume so.  I doubt taxis are going to want to take U.S. dollars, right?  Do any stores take U.S. currency?
You guys will need quets. In the taxis, you don't pay until after, so i could pay him myself when i meet you there. The only thing is that he will probably charge you guys more than double. I am pretty sure i will be able to meet you guys there.

1. That would be great if you met us at the airport but when will you know for sure?
Um, this week. Basically it’s for sure.

2. Can we still go to the mission office so that I can bring a package to Elder Mays and take some pictures for his mother?
Yes. I imagine you guys are going to want to meet president Torres as well.

3. When you said "hallmark candles" does it matter what brand of candle? Does it need to be a Yankee Candle?
It just needs to be one of those candles that come in the glass thing. It definitely doesn't need to be fancy. Lol

4. Should I bring a couple of them for anyone else?
That would be a pretty good idea.

5. What are the ages of the children in the place you are living right now? Boys or girls?
Girl Year and a half
Girl 7
Girl 12
Boy 15
Boy 15

7. Do you have some taxi drivers that are LDS lined up and their phone numbers?
Kind of. There’s always the bus too. Lol
No don't worry about it, i will get some people.
 8. Are you going to buy a cell phone or two for us to use while we are there? How much money should I put in your account for that? Or do you want to wait until we get there?
There is a member that will let us borrow one for the week, so that’s taken care of.
10. Isn't your mom really prepared for this adventure and pretty awesome to boot?
Yes. So nerent to her
 11. Best thing/worst thing eaten?? yeah I will keep asking this to the bitter end.
Best would be the burger king cini minis. And the chocolate pie.
The worst would be tamales. Those are constantly gross.


13. Are you sure you don't need me to bring any clothes for you or anything?
No. Just a chick fil a chicken biscuit and pop tarts!

14. NERENT??

Well, this has been a great week, and i know that next week will also be a great week. It will be my last week, but i will continue to work hard to help these people that i love so dearly.
Thanks for all the emails and you love.

Elder Winn
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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Life in the eye of the storm

I have written before that exactly two years ago we were cleaning up from a hurricane.
Hurricane Ike.
I really couldn't believe that something so devastating to our community was happening
right as I was preparing to send my son away for two years.
Everything had to be changed, rescheduled, or done a different way.
I worried and fretted about it,
but in the end it all worked out.
The irony is not lost on me that while I prepare for the trip to pick up my son
There is another storm approaching.
Tropical Storm least for now
is heading for Guatemala and should make landfall by
tomorrow night.
Possible flash floods...
mostly in North Guatemala.
right where he is.
and after it finishes there it is headed my way...
of course.
But I am trying to remember the lessons learned
two years ago
in the eye of the storm.
Just have faith...
believe that it will all work out
and just
See you soon son. :)
(Jack and his Dad cleaning up and surveying the damage from Hurricane Ike.)

Hey guys!
            Thanks for all the emails. It’s good to know that you guys are doing well.
            Today i am writing a little bit late because we went to Tikal a little bit last minute. It was fun, but i mostly spent the time talking with Elder Dunkley about our plans for after the mission. I didn't really take too much time to look around, because i figured that we would be seeing it in two weeks. I am very excited.
            This week has been pretty good as always. We had our training conference, which once again inspired me to become a better missionary. We had a lot of great lessons this week. One of the items that we focused on was using the Spirit to know how to begin teaching a lesson.
            We had two interesting lessons with two new investigators that we found. We were planning on teaching them both the same lesson, but the results turned out very differently. The first lesson we taught was to a man who was fairly skeptical about the Book of Mormon. At first his questions seemed like a sign of real interest and desire to learn, but we quickly learned otherwise. He began to attack the Book of Mormon and the prophet Joseph Smith. His argument, of course, had no validity, but his obstinacy impeded him from really knowing the truth. We tried to explain for awhile, but then we noticed that he was blind, not wanting to see, and deaf, not wanting to hear.
            The other lesson we has was very different. We got to the house of a humble father with a true desire to be able to help his family find happiness. It was a very spiritual lesson, because he listened with an open heart, and we were all edified. He expressed the concerns of his heart, and we as missionaries followed the Spirit to be able to understand how best to address his needs through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. All of us left the lesson happy.
            Those were two very different lessons that we had, and i thought a lot about the different outcomes. I think it is crucial for us to find the people who are really willing to open their hearts. I know that there are a lot of people out there for us to find.
            Well, on a different note, i think a flea bit me in the eye a week and a half ago, and its been bothering me somewhat. I’ll be glad to get away from all these fleas. IT gets old really quickly. Anyways, i talked to Hermana Torres and she told me to buy some antibiotic eye drops to put in my eyes for 5 days. Ive been doing so, but the horrible news is that i cant wear my contacts. I have been wearing glasses for 3 days now, and it drives me insane!! I hate glasses! I guess its a good thing that i have them though.
            Lets see, what else happened. We are having some trouble getting people to come to church. We are trying really hard, but it is far to walk, and the bus costs 3 quets. I am trying to get the people to have sufficient faith to pay the bus fare. I guess i could have members come with their cars to pic them up, but that's what i did last time i was here, and the members stopped doing it when i left, which caused inactivation. This new approach is more difficult, but i think it will be worth it.
            Oh, and that cool lesson we had, the mans name is Gabriel, and he is family of the lady we helped chop wood. That was the primary reason we were able to teach them. Service is great, and i love doing it. This week we went to clean a corn field, and to chop wood again. I always feel good when i serve. I want to have the opportunity to be able to serve when i get home as well.
            Well i think it is question time!!!

2. Are you good with flying? 0=
Yes! =)
3. Do the dates sound like it gives you enough time in Peten?
yes, that World be plenty of time
4. Do you know if you are going to meet us at the mission office or the airport?
  I'mprobably just going to take a taxi to the airport at 11 30 to meet you guys

5. Is there enough time in the capital to do all the visiting that you want?
I think. Theres alot to buy and see in the capital though.

6. Does you awesome mother sound both excited and scared? lol NERENT!
yes! Lol

7. Best thing/worst thing eaten this week....cmon only two more times to answer that one.
Best was definitely the burritos again, the worst was an egg that i cooked in a microwave. OH! You guys wont believe this one! The misiĆ³n just got microwaves for everyone 2 weeks befote i leave!! Thats great.

8. Does President Torres have any directions or advice to give us about traveling with our missionary?
Not that i know of, i think we’re on our own. We will do just fine though =)

Well, i think that is all for today. It has been a great week, and i am still 100 percent dedicated to the service of the Lord. My time is running out, but i will serve these last two weeks with all the strength that i posses. Thanks for all the emails of encouragement and support. I love you guys very much, and pray for you daily.
Have a great week!
Elder Winn

Oh Question Nine!
I would like a cheesecake. That is for sure
And i would like just a classic roast with mashed potatoes.
And a fancy fruit salad!
Or anything else is good too, because grandma is a good cook. =)
Thanks Grandma!

Thursday, September 9, 2010



of, pertaining to, or characteristic of surrealism; surrealistic.
having the disorienting, hallucinatory quality of a dream; unreal; fantastic. FROM THIS:
In three weeks from TODAY.
I will be sitting with my son.
That is if I can stop hugging him long enough to sit.
It still seems like a dream, unreal, fantastic.

Hey Family!
Thanks for the emails. As always I love hearing from you guys. This week has been a great week in the mission. As always I love being a missionary, and serving the Lord.
            Today we just got done with a training conference. It was the same that I went to last change, but I was able to learn more that will  help me with some of my investigators. The conference will continue until Wednesday. Of course, the food is also a great reason to be there, likewise the air conditioning, but being able to feel the Spirit with the some of the other missionaries in the zone is a great opportunity.
            This week we did a lot of service. Actually, all the weeks we are here we do a lot of service. There seems to be more service opportunities here in Peten. They do a lot of work with machete here, and my now 2 year old machete had served me well. It’s been well used, and it will be a really cool memory to take home with. I can now mow an entire lawn with a machete. It is a lot harder than using a lawnmower, but in some respects it’s more fun. This week we did a lot of chopping grass, and cutting wood, since many of the people here cook with firewood. We were walking down the street one day in the heat of the day, and we saw an old lady gathering some giant pieces of wood for her wood storage. It was a little impressive that she could carry that much wood, but we quickly went to help her. We managed to get a lot of wood, and then spent the next hour chopping it up. At first she was very reluctant, but after time she became very grateful. I always feel good helping people, and it helps them to be more receptive to listen to the Gospel. Before we served her she refused to hear anything from the missionaries, but after having helped her she is receptive.
            I continue to work with my converts. It is a hard task, and I have to fight the temptation to get discouraged. I had a really good lesson with Luki, who was originally unreceptive to our messages. We taught her about the importance of having an open heart. There’s a scripture that I really like in Ezequiel that talks about having a heart of flesh rather than a heart of stone. We talked a lot about that. At first she wasn’t paying much attention, but later I shared a personal experience, and it seemed to open her up a lot. At the end she shared that she had felt the Spirit, and that is had been awhile since she had felt that.
            The Ax family will be hard. I am finding that one of their main problems is the language barrier. They speak Spanish a little bit, but their native language is Kekchi, and sometimes I feel that they don’t understand us. Ive been thinking about that a lot lately. Many times the people we teach don’t seem to understand what we are telling them, not so much for the language barrier, but it seems that there are many people who refuse to see, and who refuse to hear. It make me think of 2 Nephi 9 31 and 32. There are a lot of people in this work who refuse to see, even when the truth is presented to them in a mast simple way. I think one of the greatest tasks of a missionary is to look for those people who really are willing to open their eyes, and listen with their heart.
            Then I started thinking about how that scripture applies to us as members. I think a lot of times we think that some of the scriptures like that only apply to people to who completely reject the Gospel. I think that’s one of the temptations that Satan gives us, so that we don’t try and become better people. I think that we are all in some way needful of opening our eyes and our hearts a little more. I have been thinking a lot about that scripture.
            I have been thinking a lot about the importance of meditating over the scriptures. I have learned that the scriptures are there to help us feel the Spirit, and we can more fully feel the Spirit when we dedicate a little bit of time to meditation. I have found that I have been specifically guided in time of meditation, and have receive personal revelation that would not have come if I didn’t take the time to really ponder over the scriptures. I have received many answers to prayer in my mission, and I have really learned how the Spirit is felt. This was something that I didn’t really understand so fully before my mission. I have learned a countless number of lessons on my mission, all of which will help my immensely when I get home, but when I really think of it, learning how to understand the Spirit has been one of the most important things I have learned. If I were to go home after having served the Lord two years, and only have learned how to recognize the Spirit, these two dedicated years would have been well worth it. And to think of all the other great lessons that I have learned, it makes me happy. I am so grateful for my mission.
            Well, I think it is time for….
  1. Mud slides....ELABORATE!!  Are they happening where you are? Are they a possibility there?
I haven’t heard much about these mudslides, but they happened in the south mission. There are no mountains where I live, and no risk of mudslides.

2. What were the drunks saying about you or your religion? Are they still harassing you?
I don’t really remember. I didn’t listen to them, but it was pretty pathetic. I haven’t seen them recently, but we need to deal with them to get the Ramirez family married. We’ll see how that goes.

  1. Did you figure out the name of the hotel in Peten?
Ummmmm, next week….=)

4. I bought a bum load of gems and church stuff to give as gifts. Any other requests?
Just temple recommend holders. I cant really think of anything else. There are two of my cooks that are particularly special for me, so something for them.

5. Elder Smiths mom gave me some packages to take to her son. Is he too far away from Peten for us to take them to him? Are we allowed to do that?
He is about 3 hours away from us, but we can drop the stuff off at the mission home, or at the ZL house here in Peten. It will get to him easily.

6. Aren't you glad your awesome mother landed safely in Houston?
Yes! What an exciting plane ride.

7. Any luck activating any of your converts?
  I'm working on it. It’s a hard task, but I think I am making some progress.

8. Best thing eaten?/worst?
Best would be the burritos in my area. The worst would be some mushroom stuff that someone gave us that they found it on a tree. It was pretty grossss.

Well, we have been working with the Ramirez family. Hugo has a lot of desires to be baptized, but his wife is a little less enthusiastic. She has small children and she doesn’t like bringing them to church. Keep them in your prayers, as well as Luki and Clara, so they can go to church again.
      Well, there isn't much time to write today, but it has been a great week, and I have really enjoyed my time here in San Jose.
Thanks for all of your love and support and prayers. I love you guys and hope you have a great week!

Elder Winn