Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Week 17 - Quito, Ecuador - 28 April 2014

This week was a really great week! We were really able to meet most of our goals, except references and lessons with members. I guess there`s a correlation there. But we were able to baptize Fredy Puma and feel such a sweet spirit. It was a miracle that his mother, Yolanda could come, because she told us earlier on in the week that she had work. We asked her to do everything she could, talk with her boss, in order to make it to the baptism and the confirmation on Sunday. And she came! Just in time. After Fredy`s baptism, his Dad, Fredy Puma as well, bore his testimony, and expressed his gratitude for the support from the ward. This really touched my heart. Also that there was a row of deacons that all came to support Fredy in his baptism. I am so grateful for the leaders in our ward, that work so hard to provide support and love. The next day, on sunday, the whole family came to church and stayed all 3 hours. Fredy Puma (the Dad) had this exciting energy that we hadn`t seen before. He was asking when he could go out and do Home teaching! This is a huge improvement, because lately we haven`t seen them interacting a whole lot with the ward. I know that Fredy`s baptism was a miracle for the family. They were able to feel and remeber the covenants they made and God`s immense love for them.
Also this week, we have progressed with Jorge Espinosa, who was able to come to the baptism and a tour before. Jorge is an exciting investigator because he always has so many questions. I remember our first lesson he wanted to know everything... kolab, how we can become Gods.. galore. We are trying to help him realize that now he needs to focus on the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the little things, that will provide as a guide in his path to eternal life. Jorge is very excited for his baptism. He came to church and particiàted in the Gospel Doctrine Class on priesthood. He loved it. 
Also, we are teaching Paola, and her son, Sebastian now. I love how Paola`s face brightens and beams when her son answers the questions we give him in the lessons. He is 13, but very bright. Paola, really just wants to be a better mother. They are reading in the book of mormon and praying together every night. The challenge that we can see with them, is that Sebastian has this Catholic Semenary he has to attend for his school, Sunday mornings, and can`t come to church. We taught them about the Apostacy last night and asked Sebastian to pray if he should drop the Catholic Semenary. He said he would. We read Dsoctrine and Covenants with him, in order to know hhow he would recieve answers to his prayers. Either a warm comforting feeling in his chest, or a confusing change of thought in his head.
Wow! I just love helping people expound on the scriptures!!! Being a missioary is so much fun!
I don`t have much time to write today because we went on a road trip to Ottavallo for Hermana Hemsley`s last pday. but really quick I would like to share with you all the miracle of the week! We visited our recent convert, Francisco Yesterday and reminded him that fast sunday was coming up and if he was ready to fast. He told us, Chuta, I`m gonna fast tommorrow too becuase I really need to find work. And he called us this morning whilke we were on the bus to Ottavallo, and told us that he was offered a job! Wow! God is watching over us.. thats for sure... Also fun fact. The other day I was walking down the street, and I was starting to feel really wet for no no good reason. I began to look around, and realized that we were actually in a cloud. Its kind of hard to explain, but I guess you could say we had our heads in the clouds. Quito is pretty high up in the air. like 10,000 feet above sea level no joke. 
I love you all! have an amazing week!!

Hermana Powley

Monday, April 21, 2014

Week 16 - Quito - 21 April 2014

Mi Querida Familia 
What a great week! To start off, we found New Investigators! One of the highlights of my week, was when Hermana Madrid and I decided to go to Cochapamba to visit a family of recent converts, the family Pillajo, and we always pass by a house of an investigator we used to have, named Alexandra (recent because she dropped off the face of the planet about 3 weeks ago) We would call her and her phone was disocnneted, we would knock on her gate, and yelled "Buenos" but she never would come. Hermana Madrid would say, she doesn´t want to listen to us, but I always knew that one day we would find her again. And this week we did!!! We were walking by her house, and it just so happened that her husband was walking towards, we asked him if Alexandra was home and he said yes, and that their 3 year old son was very sick. Alexandra then came out to greet us..after 3 weeks.. and we found out that she had been out of work for awhile, that their phone line was cut, also their water, and also their lights. But she told us that she was praying for help, and that she had been reading the book of Mormon all this time.. Wow! Right? She came with us to the adult meeting for the stake,and although it was entered in missionary work she thought it was very interesting, She was even taking notes! We are going to visit her tonight to set a date for her baptism. Miracles are real!
Also we have been working with Fredy Puma, who is actually part of a less active family, and he was baptized when he was 8 but the baptism was never recorded, and so he will be baptized again next Saturday. I think its sort of a little blessing from God to this family, that they are relistening to all the missioanry discussions and re-living their testimonies. Also a little blessing for us as well, cuz we´re going to have another baptism! They were having trouble with Dia de Reposo, but we taught them a very direct, and sincere lesson on keeping the commandments to help them realize the gravity of their decisisons, especially when it comes to churh attendance. Fredy is great, and has a very good memory, our district leader was super impressed in his baptismal interview yesterday... I hope that Fredy will be able to strenghten his family and one day serve a mission! Although he is only 14 now, now is the time for him to be an example to his family and those around him and build his roots in the gospel.
We have been teaching another investigator, Dani Quiñaucho, who is 11 years old, but super interested in the gospel, because her cousin, Maria Jose just got back from the mission. Dani is so sweet,a nd very smart for an 11 year old. We asked her if she prayed to know if Joseph Smith was a prophet and she said yes. We asked her out it went, and she said that in her mind and in her heart she felt the same taht he did, like their was a big column of light pouring down on her. I am really gianing a testimony through Dani, that Christ is preparing all ages to receive the gospel. And children have the purest hearts, they can receive answers the easiest. Think about primary, how easy it was to believe in everything, to hear that Jesus loves us, and we need to be like him, and have that be enough. I want to be more like a child, forgiving, faithful, trusting, and pure.   Right now with Dani, we are praying that her Mom will give her permission to be baptized on the 10th. Maria and Johanna (Her cousins) are bringing her to church every week and she loves it so she has support. We are hoping that her Mom will be able to see the change in Dani and that her heart will be softened. 
We also were able to teach Poala, who was a reference from a couple weeks ago and who is super eager to learn about the gospel. She has a baptismal date for the 17th of May, and was facinated when we taught her about eternal families and applying Christlike attrtibutes in the home. She is golden!!
Oh! And one more investigator with a baptismal date: Jorge. We met him yesterday, he was a reference from two members of the ward, Fabian and Jarvi. Jorge, was flying to Ecuador from Canada and met missionaries on the plane, he beame interested in the church and then he met Jarvi at school. Jarvi gave him a book of mormon and invited him to institute. Jorge became infatuated with the Book of Mormon. When we asked him yesterday about why he like the book of Mormon. He gave us a golden answer: I know that the Bible doesn´t have everything.. its not that clear. That is why I like the Book of Mormon.. it has everything. Then he told us he wanted to know how he could be baptized. We asked him why he wanted to be baptized and he told us that he had investigated a lot of churches and he felt that our church was the closest to Jesus Christ. We told him that the reason he felt that way was beause this church is in realidad the Church of Christ. And that he needed to pray to receive that testimony with assurety before he could be baptized. We set him a baptismal date for the 17th of May as well. He told us that he is sure he will be ready. Jorge is a blessing! We have been waiting to have an investigator like him! Thanks to the members, Fabian and Jarvi!!
Quick tangent.. I know you are all dying to know how Easter was in Ecuador. And no.. I didn´t really treat myself to candy or treats. In all of Latin America, Easter is 3 days, Santa Viernes, Santa Sabado, y Domingo de Resurreción. Mostly no one has work.. and everyone goes to the Playa to party.. A little ironic if you ask me.En Santa Viernes, we ran into a procession... that almost broke my heart. There were men in purple robes that were carrying a cart. On top of the cart was a statue of Christ in a very Baroque looking, regal purple robe holding the cross..The cart was supported by 2 large crosses and so the men carrying the cart were literally carrying crosses. They were all chanting something in Spanish that I couldn´t really understand. But there was a different kind of spirit. And I didn´t feel comfortable. Bueno.. I guess that´s a catholic Tradition here. Also everyone in ecuador Makes a special dish called the Fanesca. Which takes like 5 hours to make but is super delicious. It is a soup made out of 12 granos to represent the 12 apostles. Also has fish, bananas, mini Empanadas de Harina y pico de gallo. May sound nasty.. but it is super rico and fills you up like none other! We had Easter dinner with some members that was really nice.. the Family Martinez.. one of my favorite families... I feel like they have become like my family. Also for Easter we had stake conference, it was televised from some of the general authorites. Elder Scott spoke to us in Spanish.. and I didn´t even know that he knew Spanish! It was beautiful... And also Elder Holland talked, he had to have a translator. But what struck me the most was when Elder Holand bore his testimony in Spanish at the end. It was very simple, and it reminded me of when I had to bear my testimony at the CCM. But the spirit was so strong. It touched my heart that all the members could hear his voice and his testimony coming directly from him. Yo se que el Señor vive. Yo se que me ama. Se que el tiene un plan para nosotros. Se que con Él vamos a vivir para eternidad. After all its the spirit that touches hearts, not people. I know that God speaks through his apostles. And when we learn from them, we are actually just learning from the spirit. 

This week was amazing. Hermana Madrid and I feel like everything is jbeginning to just fall into place. We have really learned to depend on the Lord and just do our best. I have gained so much confidence in teaching and following the spirit. This week my goal is to be more like a child. To be more pure in my thinking, and to trust in my Lord. I love this work so much!! 
Hermana Powley

Friday, April 18, 2014

Week 15 - Quito - 14 April 2014

What a great week! The highlight definitely had to be Francisco´s baptism on Saturday night. I feel so blessed that we were able to find, teach, baptize. and confirm Francisco Benalcazar. We were also so blessed to have the help from members, especially Fabian Martinez, who recently was less active, but has become one of our strongest assets here in the ward for helping us with the missionary work. Fabian took the role of creating the program for the baptism, and also was able to baptize Franisco. It was so beautiful. Also all of Francisco´s family came to the baptism to support him, and the next day as well to his confirmation. I could feel the spirit so strongly when Francisco was cofirmed and we asked him later how he felt and he said "el calor de corazon." This is his testimony beginning to grow. We also had a noche de hogar with him, his mother (who is Catholic, but interested in the Mormons) and the family Martinez. It was beautiful. We hope that his mother, Gabriella, can progress, we have a cita with her and Francisco on Miercoles. Also fun fact: Franciso wanted me to sing at his baptism, I decided to sing Acompáñme (Abide with me), but decided to change it last minute due to a late request by Francisco, He wanted me to sing Mas Cerca Dios De Ti,  of course I told him no, then surprised him and sung it anyways. I was a little bit skeptical that it wouldn´t bring the spirit because there was nothing, no piano, not instrumental back up, just boring little me singing. But I cannot describe the beauty I felt when I began to sing. It seems like finally I know why I have been given this gift. The spirit filled the room, Francisco´s eyes were filled with tears, and there was a power, tangible. It didn´t matter that there wasn´t back up because I was really just giving my testimony. I decide to sing the 1st. 3rd, and 5th verse, differentiating tempo and volume according to how I felt. For the first time, performing wasn´t about me, it was about the people I loved, Francisco and his family. The love I have been able to feel for complete strangers is overwhelming. I´m definitely not alone in this work, Christ is right along side me, and I know I am borrowing a little bit of his love everyday.  

Also, this  we were able to contact many references, one, in specific, Hermana Paola, is golden. We taught her lesson 1 and she just opened up, telling us how she didn´t agree with the Catholic religion, and how reptitious it is. She told us how when she reads the bible, she feels like God is trying to tell her something but she doesn´t know what. She just wants to have a better relationship with her 13 year old son who she feels like is drifting away from her due to the perilous high school life. We focused in the Apostacy and the importance of the Restoration, and I think she really "got it". She is facinated with the Libro de Mormon because we explained to her how the Libro de Mormon helps us grow in faith, by explaining the process and application of important principals more than the Bible does. Her only problem is she lives on the limit of the ward boundary, and wants to assist the San Carlos ward because it is closer to her house. She told us she was going to come to church on Sunday, and we even stopped by to pick her up, but she wasn´t ready, she said she was come as soon as she was ready and we never saw her at church. We are hoping she just decided to go to San Carlos, but we aren´t sure, we will visit her tonight and find out. 

 We are also working with the less active Family Puma, especially with Freddy (14 years old), who has a baptismal date on the 26th, but his papa lost his job and found a new one that tragically is on sunday, and so now he can´t come to church. I personally think its a prueba de fe, that he should keep looking for better work. But for now, he is not assisting la iglesia. And his family isn´t either. We are sort of furstrated because we have worked with them for so long, and they don´t seem to get the importance of keeping commandments. We even had a member stop by to take them to church but they were leaving for somewhere, so they couldn´t come with the member.
But they are such a sweet family, we just need to be very clear with them about the consequenses of not going to church. Literally the improtance of the Santa Cena (Sacramnet) is huge!! ITs our expression of love we have for Christ, and a demonstration of our willingness to be his people. It was one of the first things he established after baptism when he came to visit the Nephites.

 I feel like we are working really hard, and I can feel the Lord´s hand in this work, I just wish people would make better decisions. This in particular, the choices our investigators our making seems to be stressing Hermana Madrid out, and I can sense it. I´ve been trying to stay calm but sometimes I can feel doubts and I know that they don´t come from God. I like to look for the beautiful things in each day and I´m trying to help Hermana Madrid as well. We have become best friends and I always want to help her be happy. Pray for us that we won´t get stresed out that we´ll be able to put everything in the Lords hands.  I was asked to give a talk in church 5 mintutes before the meeting started yesterday, and I was kind of nervous. I mean my español is good, but not great. I quickly prayed for assistance in choosing what to talk about. And the thought suddenly came to my mind that I should talk about revelation through the Book of Mormon. I followoed this prompting, chosea couple scriptures and confidently waled up to the stand. (Confindence is always key to success.. especially when your confindece isn´t in yourself, but in the Lord). And then I gave my talk! It was great, I couldn´t have done it without the Holy Ghost. This taught me that we can´t worry about the little things, we can´t worry about our insuffiency, because in the end... We´re all pretty insufficient. We need to put our efforts in trusting the Lord and following the spirit, and then everything will fall into place. I feel peace right now. And its way more easier that being stressed. I like to think of what President Uchtdorf said in conference, that if we just link our yoke to Christ´s, everything is so much easier. And I can see that here ont he mission. So I invite you all to depend a little more on the savior to help you with your day to day problems, seek for revelation in your daily scripture reading. And enjoy this Easter weekend! Here in Ecuador,,, Easter is a week long Holiday.. its called Semana Santa. I probably won´t be able to eat any chocolate eggs which is a bummer, but I´ll try to make up for it in pan de chocalate which literally is my new addiction. Its like a cinnamon roll, but instead of cinnamon, melted chocolate... It can´t be replicated in any other country I´m pretty sorry all yall. I love you so much! Oh! And we also had Emergency changes today, Don´t worry I´m still with Hermana Madrid, But Hermana Cayama se fue.. which is really sad.. because I love her a lot too. Now we have a new Hermana se llama Hermana Aravena! She is pretty cool and she is from Chile. It's her birthday today... so sad... emergency changes on your birthday.. so we are going to make her a cake. Anyways that's the life here in Ecuador! Have a great week everyone!!

Attached is a pic of Francisco, Fabian, and us... Also another pic of a place once upon a time where I stood with Sarah and the rest of our HEFY group... The Teliferrico.    

Hermana Powley


Saturday, April 12, 2014

Week 14 - Quito - April 7, 2014

Mi querida familia,

This week has been such a blessing. I have learned so much. 

To start out, I lost our cellphone, does that sound like a surprise? I actually am almost 98% sure that someone stole it from my pocket, but they were good ladrones, so I don´t remember how or when. 

So we have been making all our phone calls from cabinas this week. Its been kind of annoying, but we have been blessed with almost all of our citas not falling through, We truly have seen God´s hands in our lives this week. 

I had the opportunity to go on exchanges with the sisters from San Carlos. All my friends are Hermana Lideres, and so I got to help the Hermanas in our neighboring district when Hermana Madrid, Hemsley, and Cayama had a meeting, which lasted just about the whole day. It was so much fun. Their sector is significantly more peaceful and we were able to have fun time and also get a lot of work done. I was able to realize while on exchanges with Hermana Deveraux and Hermana Calderón that the gospel really is simple, and we can laugh and enjoy the love that we feel from our Heavenly Father, as we are walking. Its good to smile. We shouldn´t have worries harbored in our hearts, only hope. Hermana Madrid had been pretty stressed because of the lost phone, and I was stressed as well. We were able to talk about this in our weekly planning the next day and we have a goal this week to every night recount the miracles that we experience each day. 

Also, I went on exchanges again on Friday, with the mission infermera, Hermana Barrett, and her companion, Hermana Chim. The Hermana Lideres had another meeting. The Mission infermera is actually the mission nurse, sorry, I think that I sometimes use spanish words and I hope you all can understand my cartas. She works so hard, and since the nurse form the Mission Quito South has left, she has just been so busy. She hardly ever has time to work in her own sector. When I was studying with them Friday morming we witnessed a miracle. They called one of their contacts, Carlos, and he told them that he had been trying to call them and that after they contacted him, he recieved a phone call with a job offer. This was a sign for him that the missionaries were from God, and so he came to Generla Conference the next day. Wow.. Right? The Lord is blessing and preparing people, and it really touched my heart, that even though these sisters hardly get to contact and work in their sector, the Lord is blessing them for their diligence in their other responsibilities. 

Now for the really good news. Francisco had his baptismal interview yesterday after conference, and he is ready to be baptized this weekend. My first baptism! I am so excited! I can really see the change in him form the first day we found him contacting after one of our citas fell. He has been befriended by the Elder´s Quorum in the ward, especially by a former Menos Activo, Fabian. Fabian is the reason that Francisco has gained so much confidence in the ward. We had a family home evening with Fabian´s family and Francisco, yesterday, and the spirit was so strong. Francisco was smiling and glowing as the family bore their testimony about the book of mormon and Joseph Smith. The lesson was taught by Fabian, and was basically just an inspired discussion in how the book of mormon is the key stone of our religion. My heart was filled with gratitude to this family, that we have helped return to church. My heart is filled with gratitude right now as I look at who I am and what I have been able to see here in Ecuador. The people have such strong testimonies. And even though sometimes we have stressful days, we always have the assurance that Christ is by our sides

I was extremely touched in Conference this week by all the speakers who testified of Christ´s atoning sacrifice. I think here in the mission field, I have been focusing more in Joseph Smith and the Priesthood Restoration. In my mind have undermined the reality of Christ´s pure love and that he lives. Because this is one thing that almost everyone already knows here, everyone is Catholic. But I realized that as I was listening to Elder Christofferson´s talk, many people don´t fully know the pure love of Christ, because they don´t fully know the truth. I am a disciple of Christ, and it is my responsibility to remember and study that our purpose in life is literally nothing if we do not except and realize that Christ died, so we can live. And it is so simple. Christ lives, and so will we for eternity, if we but follow the straight and narrow path that he beckons us to follow. There are never endings.. only everlasting beginnings. (I thankfully was able to view conference in english with all the other gringos in our stake) And so I guess I´m not really ending this email. I´m starting a new week. And I´m starting the groundwork for my email next week. And thus I am everlastingly beginning anew testimony to share with you all. May everyone have a fantastic week and be filled with the Love of Christ!

Con Amor,
Hermana Powley