¿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.