This week has been so great, and also really fast... its been pouring rain all day, and I must say I am a little stressed out. Nothing is open because of the carnivals here in Ecuador, and so we spent 2 hours trying to find a bank to take out money, and an extra 30 minutes trying to find an internet cafe to write. So I don't have very much time, but I don´t want my mood right now to get in the way of conveying to you guys all the great things that have happened this week.
On the plus side today I was able to go running with Hermana Hemsely and that was so great, there are some huge overpasses here, and some intense stairs which we did as well. It felt great in the drizzle of rain!! Running always makes me feel better. For exercise I´ve measured the distance from my bed to the sink in the kitchen, and if I run there and back, 100 times, its a mile. So you could probably imagine my excitement to finally run outside. I´ve been doing a lot of yoga as well.. I´m going to be super pro by the end of my mission. If you can find any instructions for some cool moves please send me some!! Also.. I GOT YOUR PACKAGE!! Thankyou thankyou thankyou so much! It made my day! Those chocolates are delcecios.. and I was just thinking the other day about how much I needed some Hi chews. Its great to see everyone's handwriting, I received the package on Saturday March 1st.. so you can do the math! But keep em coming! The minnie mouse watch, sadly is close to death... I don't think its very water proof, but I love it so much. I probably will buy a new one next pday. One more thing.. Mom... thank you so much for that insight on Christ in your last email, and about Peter walking on water. I shared that with an inactive family and the spirit was so strong. One of the members of the family had to return home from his mission early, and I think it was exactly what he needed to here. We saw the fruits of this lesson later in the week, when we had a family home evening with this family, Martinez, and our investigators Mario and Ricardo. Faubian (the missionary) shared a beautiful thought on faith and I think it really hit home for Mario and Ricardo. Both of them came to church on Sunday, and that was really nice. We need to check up on them, on Wednesday, and Faubian is going to come with us!
Here in Ecuador there is a tradition. I don't know how it started but it consists of Saturday, Sunday. Monday. Tuesday. Wednesday.. where everyone closes down and parties. People go on vacation to the beach, and there is NO ONE on the streets. Its so weird. They call this the Carnival. And when there are people on the streets, these people have eggs, shaving cream, water balloons, and flour. And its a full on fight throughout the city. We were walking to lunch on Sunday, and some kids rolled down their windows and sprayed Hermana Hemsley, and Hermana Gomez with Shaving cream.. It was actually pretty funny. Almost like snow.. haha. Also, Hermana MAdrid and I thought it would be funny to by some party cream and attack Hermana Gomez and Hermana Hemsley as they arrived home last night. We got em... We got em good.. It was so fun. Then we let them spray us and we have pictures to prove. I´ll attach them!
Remember those dogs? The ones that almost killed us.. Ya well they are three German Shepherds.. and they are still there in front of Jessica´s House.. And they still want to kill us. Everytime we pass her house I feel like I am Daniel in the Lion´s Den. The other day, one of them tried to bite Hermana Gomez and only got her skirt, but there is not a single rip in her skirt. Pretty amazing. We haven´t been able to teach Jessica because I think she´s been on vacations for the carnival. But hopefully next week! I don´t think I mentioned that my companion is sister training leader, and so on Tuesdays and Fridays each week she leaves me, and I´m companions with Hermana Gomez. Hermana Gomez is great and I have learned a lot form her.. but its a little hard to only be able to work in half of my sector for two days each week. It sometimes has really tested my patience.. because Hermana Gomez really likes to talk to the members. There have been a couple days where we have literally spent a whole hour at members houses when we really should have only been there for 20 minutes to share a short message.
On the plus side, we have a lot of members join us to teach investigators and this has been a great blessing, the members here are so strong and have such great testimonies.. almost all of them being converts. I have learned so much form Hermana Gomez as well. She is great with the people. She knows how to really relate with the people and ask heartfelt questions. Also, she knows how to make the doctrine so easy to understand, and she is charismatic. She has such passion for this work, and I love her so much. I have learned to take the lead in teaching all of the lessons in my sector, and I have learned to depend so much on the promptings of my heart in these lessons. This week we had divisions for 3 days and so I really learned how to be more responsible with planning and calling to set appointments. All of this in Spanish. I really feel like I am experiencing the gift of tongues. Sometimes I will be trying to say something, and the words will just come to my mind. I´m starting to think ,ore in Spanish, and although I am not perfect, I can almost understand everything when I focus. God performs miracles when we are obedient and eager to do his will. I know this as a fact!! We cannot doubt. We must be strong, and believe in what our minds tell us is not possible.
I was reading in The Book of Mormon this week, and I came across a phrase, "Exercise your Faith" What exactly does that mean? Like a sort of conditioning, where if you exercise it each day, it gets stronger and stronger. But how can I exercise my faith more? How can I exercise my faith, until it is tired, like when I run, and cant run any further because I am weak. I think with our faith we need to hope more to receive answers, literally believe, until we realize how weak we really are without the power and help of God and Jesus Christ. For me I am going to make more specific prayers, ask for miracles, and have more patience this week. How can we all exercise our faith a little bit more?
Think on this.. study the Book of Mormon.. and pray above all to have a closer relationship with God. I know through prayer and a broken heart and contrite spirit, we can come to know more about ourselves and God´s love for us than through anything else. The Book of Mormon was written for our day. I was reading in Mormon 9, and I finally internalized the words he writes in the last verses of his book, that all the people in his land, the prophets of old in the Book of Mormon prayed for the day that their brothers would know the truth. And they prayed, watching their brethren fall deeper and deeper into sin. Mormon for example, prayed for his brothers to know the truth of the gospel, even as he saw day by day, thousands of his brethren die in war. But the Lord keeps his promises.
And here I am, in Ecuador, literally working to save the very same brethren that those prophets in the Book of Mormon prayed to God to save. God is working through me to answer the prayers of thousands. This is amazing. It makes me feel sort of small, but also very large at the same time. I can´t explain the feeling. When people reject us on the streets, and at their doors, I just think of Alma 26, when Ammon states all the pain and tribulation he had experienced with his brothers by the hands of many Lamanites, all in hope that they could save some soul. And look what they did. For all the rejection they experienced, they continued to hope to be the means through God´s hands to save "someone"... and they saved many. I know God has a grand plan for me here in Ecuador. And I will continue to exercise my faith each day in every lesson, as I strive to speak Spanish. I know that through small and simple things are great things brought to pass. So I will continue to have this prayer in my heart this week. And I encourage you all to do the same!!
Buenos Suertes!! Les Amo!! Tenga una buena semana!