Monday, February 24, 2014

Week 8 - Quito - 24 February 2014

Dear Family!! 
 First, a funny bit as we try to figure out our money cards here in the mission, which has been challenging.  We went to McDonalds today, and it was super expensive.. treasure those cheap large fries up there in the states. When people talk about the united states here they point up, like to heaven.. I think that's a little funny.. Anyways!  We had a great week!!
I have a great story to share! We came close to death last Wednesday. As you may not know.. There are so many dogs here.. and many are actually quite scary and dangerous. Hermana Madrid were looking for a contact we had made last week, Jessica Cuasputh, who had committed to baptism. We had been looking an entire week for her and couldn't find her house. No one seemed to know her either. Anyway, Wednesday morning, I prayed super hard that God would lead us to her, so Hermana Madrid and I were walking down a new sketchy road up in the  mountain hooding sticks to scare away the dogs, and we saw a green house! After knocking and knocking, we came to find it was vacant, and we were just about to give up, when I saw a little path that led down the side of the house. I dropped my stick and took a couple steps down the path, hollered "Buenas" and three huge dogs came out of the weeds and started running towards me. Baring their teeth, my heart jumped into my throat and I lunged up the path to Hermana Madrid and hid  behind here. Those dogs got super close, and I prayed that we would be OK, because literally they were going to eat us. Suddenly guess who comes up from the path? Jessica!! She called the dogs, and we were safe.. and we made an appointment with her! It was an answer to 2 prayers! Attached is a picture of  Hermana Madrid and I, and Jessica gets photo cred. Crazy Wednesday!
I feel so blessed to be here, there are challenges and there are times when it seems like everyone is Catholic and they want nothing to do with change, but when we testify of the book of mormon and invite people to pray to know if it is true to be baptized.. I can feel the spirit testify that this work is worth every second of  rejection. This week we had a lot of citas fall through, but we were able to work more with less actives. One less active named Rosa truly touched me. We began the lesson talking about the Book of Mormon, and read through the introduction with her. The introduction to the book of mormon is very clear and I don't think I´ve ever really read it. She has never really read through the Book of Mormon, and I don´t think she ever truly understood what it was, because she seemed surprised when we read that it was written here in the  Americas. When we continued to read that the Book of Mormon was the truest book in the world, and that every man should abide by its precepts, we asked her if she understood what this meant. She said that she needed to read the Book of Mormon in order to become closer to God. Right then her daughter came home from college, and Rosa had her sit down, and then Rosa summarized everything we had learned in the introduction so far to her daughter. This made me so happy, that  Rosa felt the crucial importance of the Book of Mormon enough to share with her daughter what she had learned. The spirit was so strong and I have high hopes for this family to begin attending church again once they receive a greater testimony of the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon  truly is the keystone to our religion, and I invite everyone to read it, if only for 5 minutes a night, it was written for our day and truly testifies that this church was established by Christ himself through Joseph Smith.

We also found a new investigator this week, Diego Castro, he lives above the carpenteria where Mario and Ricardo work, and we met him and hi s brother in the streets, we actually had an appointment set up with his brother, but when we came the next day, only Diego and his niece were home. Diego is quiet, but he has very intense eyes. Everyone's eyes are so dark and piercing hear.. he agreed to listen to our message and he listened very intently  to our lesson. Hermana Madrid and I were on fire.. we shared the whole restoration with him, and invited him to be baptized! He agreed, and you could see in his eyes that he truly felt the spirit. I hope all goes well with Diego. We have another appointment with him on Miercoles I do believe, and then a tour of the church with him on Friday. Mario and Ricardo are also doing great. Its very nice to have their Uncle, Hermano Flores, at every lesson, Hermano Flores is a member. He always has interesting things to say about how in our time, it is so important for young people to follow the commandments. They keep us safe, and do not restrict us. Sometimes I look at these young men, and I imagine Alma and the sons of Mosiah.. they are just beginning to gain testimonies of the Lord and his priesthood on the earth. They are at the ripe age for missions. I feel like the Lord is preparing this generation to accept the gospel and later be able to preach with  great power. We pray for Mario and Ricardo to be able to continue growing their testimonies through prayer and the book of mormon. Sadly neither Mario, Ricardo , nor Diego could come to church this Sunday because of the Ecuador City Elections. They are all from Guayacil and so they had to return to their city for the elections. Elections were yesterday, and so being American, I guess there's a law about this but I dont know, we had to be off the streets and in our houses all day. It was pretty sad.. that we didn't get to meet with those that we needed to , but it was nice to actually really have a day of just studying.. and perhaps cooking cake as well. 

Our other investigator Miguel, is having a really hard time. He was going to be baptized this Saturday, but because of the elections, he was unable to come to church. Also we found out yesterday,  that his wife has been cheating on him, and she is preparing divorce papers. Miguel is hurt. He still wants to be baptized, but I think we need to work harder with him. This is such a hard time for him, and the only person who really can help him the most is Christ. I don´t know what he is going to do, he has 3 kids, and I´m ´pretty sure his wife is planning on leaving the kids as well; and Miguel has to work. We are praying and fasting for him to receive strength. He is so humble. I admire the faith of the people here. The gospel promises happiness and peace to the family, but when you only have one small room, and that´s it.. that´s your home, I don´t know if I´d be able to have faith sufficient. That is what I am learning here. The importance of faith. With faith, we are ripe to feel the promptings of the Holy Ghost to know what to say. With faith, we are able to encourage and believe in the changes our investigators can make. For me faith helps me everyday understand what these people our trying to tell me in a language I don´t perfectly understand. With faith I can speak. With faith, I am brought to tears, because we are so blessed to have the truth. So many people don´t have it, and I´ve taken it for granted I think. This week I can feel an improvement in myself, I can understand and focus and find myself thinking in Spanish. This is what Hermana Madrid tells me is important. If I can organize precepts and thoughts in my head in the spanish language, I can teach in a much clearer way, and I can better teach with the spirit... instead of just jumping in blind.  

We had interviews with the Mission President last Friday as well, which wasn´t a huge deal for me, because I had just barely had an interview with President Richardsen the week before, but he spent an hour and talked to the whole zone about aligning our will with Gods. This really touched me because I want to get to that point so badly. Where I am never thinking about myself, but soley what God needs from me. When I am thinking in  this way, I think I will be better be able to discern the spirit as well. I think this is a key concept for everyone. When our will and purpose is aligned with God´s, who can stand in our way? Who can stand in God´s way? I encourage everyone to take a moment, and evaluate where they are concerning how actions reflect who we are and who we represent. I think God wills us to prioritize our families before other things, I think he wants us to share the gospel with those around us, I think he wants us to extend a smile to those who need it. I don´t think he wants us to be consumed in our material possessions, or our own individual agendas, so that we are unable to see when someone is in need of help. Basically in retrospect, we need to walk in the footsteps of Christ, and he has made that possible through his atonement. We take the sacrament every  week in order to remember him and take his name upon us. So  why not live that way always? We are all disciples of Christ and need to share what we know about salvation to everyone we come in contact with be it through service, a smile, or an invitation to act. I know that I am where I am supposed to be and I am so grateful that I have this opportunity!  I love you all! Have a great week!!

Hermana Powley       
After surviving the "near death" dog attack!! 
As you can see we are getting our workouts in walking these hills!!

PS  also attached is our friend.. Harry Potter the watermelon.
PSS also if you think you´ve eaten a mango in the states. you really haven´t.. it was fake. The same thing with pineapple, avocado, orange, lemon, cilantro and any other fresh food  produce you can think of.  :-)

Monday, February 17, 2014

Week 7 - Quito -- Alex's First Area with Sister Madrid - 17 February 2014

Hola mi Querida Familia!!
¿Como le va? Le amo la ciudad de Ecuador.. es muy bonito.. y sussio en algunos partes.
I just want to start with how exciting it is to finally be out on the mission. The CCM in Mexico feels like it was a dream now. The week has been going by pretty slow in mind.. we've done a lot of walking. I don't even know where to start... except that I am so grateful Hermana Madrid is my companion. She is great. She is so organized and she is such a great teacher. She definitely follows the spirit. We would be walking down a street on our way to a cita, and she says, "I feel like we need to knock on this door", and so we do.. and then the person who answers agrees to a visit! It's amazing. Hermana Richardsen told us last week that many people in Ecuador are ready to here the gospel, and that they are very receptive.. and it's true. In our area there are a lot of Catholics and Evangelists that don't want to listen to us but  this also means that everyone is religious and believes in God. We are here to let others know that there is ONE true gospel and way to return to God. Every time we teach the restoration I become more and more converted in its truth. It used to just be in passing to say that Joseph Smith was a prophet. But here I feel like it is much more than that.. It's a redeeming message that many people don't know and need to know. And the only way they can know is by reading the Book of Mormon. I've come close to tears explaining this to our investigators. Even though my Spanish is super horrible, I can feel the spirit so strong, and I know that God is on my side

Speaking of God on our side.. I have a great story. I think it was Saturday Morning when Sister Hemsley, a sister in our Casa from Utah, decided to make Brownies. They were really good, but she accidentally left the oven on. In our casa, the stove and oven both run on gas.. and so you can guess how dangerous that was. We all left to proselyte and Hermana Madrid and I were on our way to an appointment. Sadly it fell through, and we were getting ready to contact when I really had to go to the bathroom suddenly. So I told her, and Hermana Madrid said we should just go back to the casa, we bought some Pineapple on the way, and walked into a very hot house that smelled like gas.. We quickly turned off the oven and opened the windows. Just imagine what could have happened if we didn't return to the house! All our stuff would have burned and then some. It was cool for me to see how God truly is protecting his missionaries and prompting us to do what we need to.

We have 4 investigators with baptismal dates right now, and our goal is 6 by next week. Only one of them was able to come to church though which is pretty sad.. Miguel, a father of three little children, was really sick along with his wife, so they couldn't come, and two teenagers, Ricardo y Mario, were unable to come because of doubts *Slash they said their sunday clothes were dirty*. Our investigator that came we meat the day before contacting, his name is Alberto, he is divorced and he is 83 years old. He worked in the ecuador Airforce, and right now I think he is a little lonely. He really wants to become closer to God and he loved the church, he said that he felt a strong peace in his heart. When he prayed with us in our first lesson, he asked for God to forgive him for his sins, and he started to cry... I think that the spirit will be able to teach him and I am excited to teach him more in the next week about the plan of salvation and the book of mormon. With Ricardo and Mario, we had a really powerful lesson Sunday night about faith and reading the book of mormon to know if the church is true. I could see a spark in Ricardo's eyes and I really hope that he chooses to read the Book or Mormon. Their uncle, Hermano Flores is a member, and he bore his testimony in the lesson as well. The spirit was very strong and the boys recommitted to come to church. They are both 18, and we are going to try to get the Priest quorum to befriend them.

We visited a less active member, Johanna also, and really connected with her. She came to church on Sunday and she looked great. Her problem is that she really needs to study for her classes at the university and chooses to not go to church, We talked about standing in Lugares Santos (Holy Places) And it was beautiful. I talked to her about how prayer and following commandments always helped me in school and I think that really spoke to her. We hope to reactivate Johanna in the next week or so. 

This week was a little hard, because we didn't know any of the members of the Barrio... since we are both new in this area, but Hermana Madrid and I have higher hopes for next week because we were able to meet and talk with members of the ward on Sunday about coming with us to teach lessons. We also have some great recent converts that we are going to teach tonight, and hopefully get to come with us to lessons. When Dallin H Oaks came to the CCM last week that was one thing he really pressed.. Including ward members in teaching. This is so important and guarantees lasting conversion I think. When  a convert has friends in the ward, they are more stable.

I am learning so much here. There are some moments where I feel helpless, and I just want people to speak to me in Ingles. But I feel like I am improving rapidly. And when I think about Christ and how he has felt all of our pains, and send angels to be by our sides, it brings me peace. I choose to devote most of my study time to the Book of Mormon and principles in Preach my Gospel. Eder Powley (Andrew) told me to not devote all my studying to the language, so I'm balancing. I love this work so much. Sometimes it overwhelms me, but all I have to do is look to God and remember that some people don't even know how to that.. and I am here to teach others to find that happiness. Its a beautiful purpose. I already feel like I have changed so much. Ecuador is very humbling.. I've been in homes that are not even as big as my room back at home. It rains literally everyday.. staying dry is impossible, and the hills are very steep. Hopefully my calves will be huge in a year and a half so I'm not out of breath each time we visit Cuchapamba... The area of our sector that is literally on the mountain. Ecuador is beautiful. The mountains are beautiful.. and even though there's no snow, it kind of feels like home. I know this is where I'm meant to be. And I know that with the help of God, I will be able to improve each day and become better at teaching, speaking, listening, and guiding. 
Con Amor,
Hermana Powley 

Friday, February 14, 2014

Week 6 -Arrival Pictures and Letter from Mission President Richardson

Here are some pictures of Alex during her first few days at the Mission Home in Quito.  Her new companion is Sister Madrid from Honduras. 

Dear Powley Family,
We wanted to let you know that we are delighted to have met and spent the last three days with Hermana Powley.  She is already speaking Spanish, and we were delighted to have her serenade us at our welcome dinner with her beautiful piano playing and singing as we took pictures with the missionaries.  She is a sweetheart and will undoubtedly be a fabulous missionary.  We assure you that we will do everything possible to help her have a positive experience here. 
The newly formed Ecuador Quito North Mission experiences a high number of baptisms, and success in reactivation. Our boundaries include coast, jungle, a native Indian area, as well as the highly populated city of Quito so our missionaries enjoy a wide range of experiences.
The theme of our mission is translated “The Center of the World; Centered on Christ,” and we have a wonderful group of 185 missionaries which will be growing to approximately 225 in the next few months.  She is currently serving with Hermana Madrid, one of our amazing sister trainer leaders from Honduras, here in Quito.   
We know you’re already planning on it, but we want to remind you to write your Sister Powley a weekly letter.  Her preparation day will be on Mondays.
President Brian and Hermana Susan Richardson
MisiĆ³n Ecuador, Quito Norte


Thursday, February 13, 2014

Week 6 - Departing MTC & Arrival in Quito, Ecuador - 10 February 2014

Hola mi familia!

I am here! In Ecuador, our flight landed around 10. I'm so sorry I was unable to call at the airport. There was not enough time... But I love you so much! It's so great to here that Jane gets to go to Disneyland this week. I love those spontaneous decisions...they make life a little more full. I feel like I am home here in Ecuador. I feel like I'm really going to like it here. Quito is a HUGE city. I didn't realize it last time we were here, but after driving over a huge bridge over a massive ravine, climbing up a mountain, and tunnels, and finally emerging into a higher area where there were many tall buildings, the more wealthy part of Quito (On high ground) I feel like there is going to be so much to do!  I don't have much time to email but I want to let you know how this day has been

We left the CCM at 10 pm last night and drove an hour to the airport. Checking baggage took an entire hour, because a lot of people had overweight baggage.. like myself.. I had to pay 80$ on my debit card for immigrant tax and baggage. I think the church will reimburse me but I just thought I would let you know. Then we rushed to our gate and made it on the plane! It was probably 12:30 am and I felt inclined to buy a coca cola with my left over pesos to stay awake. A very man sat next to me and we conversed a little in Spanish until he told me he could speak English. This was so nice! I asked him a lot of questions, and practiced what they taught us at the CCM for expressing interest and showing love to those around us. Turns out he is Presbyterian and we were able to connect because of our love for Christ. We talked about the Atonement and he really opened up to me and told me about some really hard things that he's been through in his life. He divorced his wife and he only sees his daughters twice a year. And then he told me how Christ ahs helped him feel whole. I then began to share our beliefs about the holy ghost, and how Christ and God were separate beings but one in purpose. He was really interested in that.. and began to ask me what other things I taught. I basically taught him the entire restoration right there on the plane. The spirit was so strong. And I could feel the light of Christ in him. Anyway, towards the end of our conversation he said he wanted to ask me other questions after he got some sleep. After the flight I gave him the card to visit the Mormon website and talk to the missionaries.. He said he would! Anyways.. that's my first missionary experience. Also when we got to Ecuador.. literally someone just came up to me and asked for our phone number so he could listen to the missionaries. It made me realize that everyone is at different places in conversion and any experience be it small adds up to people becoming more and more curious about the church. this was very cool for me.

Any way here we are in Ecuador. We just had a cooking class with Hermana Andersen, the Mission President's wife, about how to cook in Ecuador!

Anyway I have to go in order to let Hermana Hill write. So I'm over and out until next Monday!!

Con Amor
Herma Powley


Friday, February 7, 2014

Week 5 - Mexico City MTC - 6 February 2014

Hey Family!!

Last P-day in Mexico.  I love love love to hear that you guys are having fun.. that Thomas is being almost as good as me in basketball, that Matthew is skiing with Rachel.  Also I miss Jane... and I did make a video but it just didn´t send... it was like 30 seconds I think. Oh well! I´m not sure if we´re supposed to send videos from the mission. Also thanks for the calling card and the chocolates! I got those on Tuesday and it literally made my day..  A girl from Uncle Ned´s Ward is here going to Ecuador as well. Also, Elsie´s good friend from Las Vegas, Elder Tingey is in my zone! We are just all connected... I love it! And one of my friends form Girls´ State was in my zone and she just headed out to Oklahoma City Spanish Speaking on Tuesday. I sent here with a big long letter and a chocolate bar for Elder Powley. I hope he´s already received them! I´m going to try to send some more letters with missionary is going back to the states this Monday so you can guys can get some real letters from me. I got a dear Elder today from Mom... or I guess its pouch mail.. I'm not sure. And that was very nice! I really hope Rachel gets her Birthday Letter I sent like a month ago.  Also I get to email again on Monday around 1:45 pm.. so if you want to send me like some emails then it would be great to have something to do! Our flight leaves at 1 am monday night so I can call you guys around 11PM ish Mexico Time. whoever wants to stay up I´d be delighted to talk to them! Now I need to share with you guys what REALLY happened this week.

We had an amazing Sunday devotional on exactly what I needed to hear: doubt. We all have doubt sometimes but the spirit cant teach through us our touch our hearts as strongly when we have doubt in our hearts. We used 2nd Nephi Chapter 4 in Relief Society as a template to solve our feelings of doubt. Even Nephi doubted himself and his potential.. he too felt guilt and anger, and insufficient. But instead of turning inward towards those feelings of doubt. Nephi lets the love of God fill up in side of him and drown out all feelings of doubt and discomfort. He rejoices in the Lord and he knows that he himself is nothing without the Christ. Literally, in the psalm of Nephi we are promised that as long as we recognize and pray and rejoice in God.. there will be no room for doubt. Sometimes I doubt my abilities as a companion, my abilities as a Spanish speaker, an my abilities as a teacher. But I know.. that when I have these doubts, when I´m thinking inwardly.. there is no place for the spirit to teach through me. I am so glad I have learned this now at the CCM, so I can access the depths of this humility as I am out on the field. 

Yesterday was probably my most important and influential day on the mission at the CCM so far. I don't know how to explain what I felt when me and my companion did horribly with one of our first lessons for a new investigator (again one of our teachers). But I wanted to cry. We made a beautiful plan... and as we went to teach him after the first couple questions I had the feeling to talk about something completely contrary to the plan. I did not follow this feeling. And I stumbled over my words entirely. We followed the plan however...because I wanted to give my companion the chance to speak more. But when it came for her to speak, she couldn't say anything either. the lesson ended fine.. we met our goals and walked home. But I felt terrible. I didn't talk at all on the way back to the casa-- for those who know me this is like basically really rare.. and it means I´m angry--I just wanted her to talk!  I couldn´t understand why I could have let myself be such a bad teacher. Later that day, I  played investigator for a set of elders in our district and I realized they had the same problem as me and my companion and their lesson was extremely boring. After the lesson I sat and mused about what I could do to change. Then our teacher Hermano Valdez came over and talked to me about what I was thinking.. I told him how hard it was that my companion couldn´t participate in the lessons. And he told me something I cant believe I never realized. She just lacks confidence. And so I need to help her make goals to gain confidence. This really spoke to me. Earlier in the morning, I was very self centered.. wondering why she couldn't help me.. but really I needed to help her more. After this we began to practice language as a class and we were sharing scriptures and answering questions in the subjunctive.. which is pretty stinking hard. But the entire time, I felt the most peaceful feeling.. And I knew it was the spirit. My companion and I were practicing together and I could tell that she was not getting it.
But I was patient and I really wanted to help her understand. We took a break for dinner and returned to continue practicing. By now, the feeling of peace inside of me was just overflowing and I kept trying to help her. This was kind of weird because she continued to struggle, as I tried to help her figure out how to ask questions in Spanish. Suddenly I noticed their were tears in her eyes. And she told me was going to ask for a priesthood blessing. I nodded and we asked our district leader, Elder Cardon. As she received her blessing, tears came to my eyes.  I asked God in my heart why she was struggling so much to learn the language. I wanted more than anything for God to bless her right then and there with the gift of tongues. And suddenly I felt a shift in my mind. A shift from thinking about myself to thinking solely of my companion. Right then during the blessing I learned what it was like to be completely selfless. I wish I could describe it.. but I can´t. We all need to seek after this faithful love I believe. The more we trust in God to help those we love.. the more we are able to love. I don´t know this made a whole lot of sense but what I felt yesterday during that Priesthood blessing for her changed me. And I want to be able to be that selfless when I serve the people of Ecuador and when I serve my companions. If I can just feel part of the love that Christ has for each of us then I know I will be able to teach through the spirit and I know that I will be able to help Christ touch hearts.

I love this gospel and I know without a doubt that it is the only way we can be saved and receive the truest form of happiness. I love where I am and I love what I am doing. I can't wait to share the gospel with the people of Ecuador in 5 days. 

Con Amor,
Hermana Powley