I'll be serving as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for 18 months in the Ecuador Quito Mission. I'm leaving my family, friends, and familiar surroundings behind to teach the message I have to share to bring others closer to Christ and help families be together for eternity.
Funny thing about Ecuador, did you know that a motorcycle is actually a family car? Here in Ecuador a motorcycle can fit an entire family, a mom, a dad, and 2 kids. Unless they have a baby then 3 kids. It takes a lot of talent to manage that and it definitely is one of the most interesting things that I see here. Can you just imagine 4 or 5 people piled on a motorcyle that is just speeding along the street? Its quite the sight.
I hope everyone had a great thanksgiving and ate a lot of food!! Me and my companion decided to have a thanksgiving dinner, because we don`t have a pensionista for dinner so we usually just buy bread or make a sandwhich to eat later. But, this day we bought a chicken dinner for our thanksgiving meal! Definitely not the same, but a nice little celebration for us to have a little fun!
This week we had the baptism for Nelly!! She has been such a great investigator to learn how to help someone understand that not only is this the true church, but its the ONLY true church. She was someone super interested in a lot of religions and when we started teaching her, she looked at it as just all the other ones and something good. With time and with a lot of prayers with her, she gained a strong a firm testimony and she knows that this is the only true church of God and she is going to be a strong member! We had fast sunday this sunday, because we have stake conference next week, and she had remembered without us reminding her and she payed her fast offering and everything! She is such an amazing person! It was such a great baptism too, very spiritual.
Well, I am now with Hna Maldonado and she is from Chile, she seems like an awesome missionary and I am excited for the opportunity to be with her. We are going to work hard and help the people here in Conocoto!
I hope everyone has a great week and enjoy the beginnings of Christmas!!!
First off.. I have a new companion! :) Her name is Hermana McGill, she has about 10 months in the mission, and she is also from Utah. She is a lot of fun, and we work great together! I am excited for this time to be learning from her and having different experiences.
This week our investigators taught me a lot about how much power a tiny bit of faith can have. Every one of our investigators right now are progressing and have dates for baptism in the next couple of weeks, and so when they are at this stage we are looking for any problem they could have about the church to solve all of their doubts and to make sure nothing will prevent them from being active after they are baptized. Every single one of them we came up with one or two commandments that could possibly be a bit of a struggle for them to accept immediately. And so we taught them all these commandments this week, and every single one of them accepted all of these commandments without a hesitation, because they have faith in this gospel. The basis of why each of them accepted all of these commandments without hesitation is because each of them have recieved an answer and know that this church is true, and if this church is true each of these commandments is something that we need to follow for our benefit. They all have such amazing faith and I always walk out of the lessons repenting and realizing how I need to keep working on growing my faith and being stronger every day.
One cool experience this week was with our investigator Nelly. She is someone super interested in religions, but thought that all religions are great and from God. So last week we told her that she needs to read the BOM and to pray to know that only one church is true and that it is this church. Then when we went by monday, she hadn´t prayed so we asked if we could pray with her, because we knew that would solve all of her doubts if she would just recieve an answer in that moment. So we knelt down and she prayed and asked if this church was true. And when she paused and listened after about a minute she said "It´s true. He said it`s true." We then talked about it and she said that never in her life has she recieved such a firm and direct answer from God and that she knows that this is His path. It was such a remarkable experience for me and the spirit was so strong. I know that if we pray with a sincere heart and have faith that He will answer us we will recieve an answer and know how to follow God even more. I am truly grateful for that testimony builder.
This morning I read in Alma 60 and 61 where Moroni is accusing Pahoran of a bunch of stuff and how Pahoran responds to the unjust and untrue accusations. I am not sure the exact words he uses in english, but in spanish it says that he responds and says that these things aren´t true but I am not annoyed, because he understands his intentions. Its a great lesson on how we need to learn how to put ourselves in the other persons shoes and understand why they are saying something and not take offence. Pahoran was truly remarkable and christlike at how quick he was forgive and to avoid offence.
I love Conocoto and I am truly grateful for the experiences I am having here and the people I know and are helping bring to the gospel.
Sé que la iglesia de Jesucristo de Los Santos de Los Ultimos Dias es la iglesia verdadera en todo el mundo. Sé que Jesucristo es mi salvador y redentor y Dios es nuestro Padre Celestial y el nos conoce y nos ama mucho.
I have decided that I will explain a little bit about the food here. So lunch usually consists of soup, rice, meat of some type, a fruit juice, and a salad. It is always a ton of food, but I have adjusted and I am satisfied after every meal, luckily with all the walking and my good metabolism I have lost weight and not gained weight :) But, sometimes because I am tall they think that means I need a ton of food and they pile it on. In these moments I suffer a little bit.. haha one funny story is when we were at a recent converts house and she gave us some bread and said to me "here is a fat one for you, because you´re fat" That´s an endearing term here :) haha it was quite funny especially cause I am not fat, only tall :) The fruit juices are really good, and its so weird to have it at every meal. My favorite is with the fruit Maracuya, I have no idea if its in the states, but its delicious. And all the do to make the fruit drinks is peel the fruit and blend it and pour in some water and a lot of sugar. Its not healthy in the slightest, but I enjoy it. But I do not like the fruit tomate de arbol (tomato from a tree) its a tomatoe that grows on a tree, and it really isn´t good. I am happy we don´t have this one in the states. Also here when they have fish. They eat a fish. Its the complete fish with bones and eyes and all, it´s quite interesting having this fish staring at you trying to eat it. I never ate fish before my mission because I didn´t like it, but I am learning to love it here, and its an interesting way to learn to eat it. The next time my pensionista makes fish she is going to tell us so I will bring my camera and I will take a picture for you all :) And still the bread is DELICIOUS! I have a slight addiction to hot bread, so whenever we pass a bakery and they have hot bread I always buy one. And it doesn´t help that a roll is only $0.10.
I learned this week what power the spirit can have with a person. We had a lesson with this investigator and she was really closed off and wasn´t really wanting to hear what we had said. So we left her with the commitment to read and pray and we set up a return appointment just to see what happens. In the second lesson we didn´t go in with high hopes, but it was a lesson completely different. She was completely open to the idea of praying and I could see the spirit in her life. She had completely changed her idea. For me it was a testimony to me that the spirit can change anybodys heart and I cannot be quick to assume that someone won´t accept this gospel, because the spirit can help anyone to accept. Yes, everyone has their agency, but we have to make sure to bring the spirit to them so they can accept or reject.
Love you all and I hope you are all having a great week!
Time is really flying by here in Ecuador and the fact that it`s monday again really gets to me every week, because it always feels like yesterday the last time I wrote. And the fact that I can say I have 6 months in the mission is so crazy, it feels like yesterday that I stepped off the plane here, but yet not at the same time. I have had so many experiences and have met so many people these last 6 months and I am excited for the next year to keep growing and learning and meeting even more people to share this gospel with! Make the most of every second, because before you know the seconds will have passed and you haven`t changed. Make sure you are always changing and growing!
My thoughts on the policy change: I know that we have a prophet called of God guiding this church, and I know that we will never go astray if we follow and trust President Monson. Don`t doubt your testimony of this amazing church, because it`s not the popular opinion according to the world.
This week was an interesting week, but great!! Here is an interesting story for all of you: This week 2 different investigator families told us that after the first visit with us that had an interesting experience with evil spirits. This family that I have been talking about, Flia Medina, had one of these experiences. They said that in the middle of the night something threw 4 pens really hard from one end of the house to the other end of the house. And they said that they knew it wasn`t from God, and that they weren`t scared. I am so happy that they weren`t scared and that they recognized immediately that it wasn`t from God. Satan is really trying and the people here in Ecuador are so perceptive to spiritual things both good and bad, that they have these experiences so insane with evil spirits. But, we were able to bring an Hermano from the church with us so that he could bless their house so that they can have protection from these spirits at all time. I am thankful for the power of the priesthood and the knowledge that the evil spirits can`t do anything if we don`t let them.
Also something really cool, Flia Medina and Flia Aguiler, (our 4 progressing investigators) all have really old BOM that they recieved from someone a long time ago. That is just evidence to me that the Lord has been preparing these people for some time so that they would be receptive and open to this gospel at this time with me and Hna Molina. And these BOM are really cool the 1980 and 1960 versions of the BOM :)
Ecuador is very predictable in the weather here. It is always really nice and sunny in the morning and then really rainy and windy in the afternoons. Every day. And the rainy season here is their winter. Everyone is saying how this is winter and it`s so cold, yet I am always perfectly comfortable with a light cardigan. They just don`t understand what a true winter is here in Ecuador. haha :)
I love you all and I hope you all have an amazing week!
Today for pday we had a zone activity to play some group games; dodgeball and ultimate frisbee! It was so nice to just be able to run around and spend time with the missionaries! I love the activities where I get to wear pants :) The little things such a pants on the mission make me so happy! And the pictures are me and the other hermanas in my zone. In the photo with everyone on piggybacks is the companionships, and on bottom is the gringas (hermanas from the US) and on top is the Latinas. Each companionship is a latina and a gringa it´s pretty cool :)
This gospel is simple and we should be so quick to just follow the commandments and know that the commandments are not hard to follow and nor should they be. Yesterday we had a lesson with the family that we found last week, and they weren´t able to go to church because of their jobs. So we decided to have a lesson about the sabbath day and how we need to keep it holy. And in the lesson we always start with explaining the commandment and then we tell them the blessings and the blessings are always to comfort the people that they won´t suffer if they follow this commandment, but yesterday was a completely new experience for me. When we explained the commandment, before we even mentioned the blessings, the father said "I need to follow this commandment, so I need to find a new job so that I can go to church every sunday and not work on sundays." Hearing that made me so happy! It really should be that simple! We shouldn´t even have to hesitate to be obedient to the Lord´s commandments and his desires!
This week the Lord has really blessed us with putting a lot of new people in our paths who want to listen and are open to following God in a different path than they are currently on. I had many opportunities to share my testimony with a lot of new people this week and I love being able to share my testimony and helping others know how to come closer to Christ. It truly is a blessing to me that everytime I share or listen to my companion share the first vision, the Spirit that I feel everytime confirms to me that this gospel is true. I know that this church is true, I know it without a doubt. I know it´s true, because EVERYTIME I hear the first vision the Spirit is so strong and I cannot deny the feeling that is testifying to me every single time. Joseph Smith was a prophet called of God, and he restored the gospel of Jesus Christ. He didn´t create a new church with his own opinion on the things of God, but he was a humble boy who sought the will of the Lord and recieved an answer that has affected my entire life. Because I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints I have been guided in every moment of my life. I am who I am today, because of this gospel. I am a missionary here in Ecuador, because I know that this is the true church of God on the earth and I have a divine mission to share my testimony and let others know about this gospel and give them the opportunity to accept this gospel in their lives. And that´s the wonderful thing about God, we have our agency. And with our agency we CHOOSE to live with God again or we CHOOSE our own path with our own desires. God doesn´t have different opinions and with that we know that their is only one way to follow God the way God wants us to follow Him. And I know that this is the way and their is no other way that can bring the true happiness that everyone is looking for! With this gospel we can have never-ending happiness! (Mosiah 2:41) I know these things are true and I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.