Hey Mom, Dad, Leilani, Auston, and Nika.
I'm really sorry that I forgot to write to you guys last week. It was SUPER hectic last week, because my companion Elder Correa got a call from the offices last week, telling him that he's most likely leaving that week because news came that the issues with his passport and him returning to Spain finally got resolved. So, we had to get his stuff ready, we had to say goodbye to some families in another part of Guayaquil that he used to know and teach, and we were just all over the place doing all sorts of stuff last week. Other than that and a couple of other changes, nothing really happened.
I'm absolutely fine, I'm not sick, and I'm now serving in another sector in our zone in Guayaquil (called Las Americas) with my new companion and good friend Elder Alfaro. He was training another elder from Idaho, Elder Brown from Rexburg, but he had some pre-mission knee issues that ended up getting the best of him, so he had to go back home early (real shame too, because he only had 2.5 months in his mission, as opposed to my 5). So, because my companion left to go home, and Elder Alfaro's companion left to go home, we're now companions. But it's fine, because Elder Alfaro (he's from Costa Rica, by the way) is SUPER awesome, he has 20 months in his mission (about a year in Peru and about a year here, due to visa issues), and while I'm helping him learn English, we talk about Halo (hahahaha, thinking about Auston).
It's a little hard not to think about home and stuff like that that's just waiting back at home, because not only is the airport in our sector, but the strip where the planes take off is literally behind our house. In other words, about every hour while we're still in our house, we get the fantastic privilege to hear the gigantic twin-turbine engines of a commercial airplane barely taking off. However, my favorite part of my new sector is the fact that IT HAS HOT WATER!!! I was SO happy when Elder Alfaro let me know about that, but it now makes it so hard not to take shorter than 10 minutes in the bathroom, hahaha!
I wish I could send you guys all of the awesome pictures that I've taken, but I still need a cord that's compatible with my camera. It's a Canon SX160 IS PowerShot with 16X Zoom Lens, Serial Number 492020000802. I think the Model Number is PC1816, but I'm not sure. Still, I've been taking TONS of pictures, and I really wish I could send them to you guys, but I don't have the means to. Sorry :/
Effective next Tuesday, I have 5 months in my mission! Only 19 months (or 580 days for those technical people out there) until my service as a full-time missionary comes to an end. However, in the words of Jeffrey R. Holland, once a missionary always a missionary. Others may not be as willing to accept this calling as others, but what I know for sure is, even though this calling has come with trials without number already, I can't say that I haven't learned from the trials and tribulations that I've had. Through each and every trial, I've become more humble, more teachable, more educated, and overall, I feel that I become more and more of a tool in the hands of God with each trial that comes my way. My favorite video from the Church that I've found concerning trials and tribulations is called The Refiner's Fire:
I'm so grateful for the blessings that I have been given, but surprisingly, I'm also grateful for the trials and tribulations that my Heavenly Father gives me, because like it says in Ether 12:6, it's not until the trial of our faith that we officially are able to gain a testimony. I know that it's been hard, and it'll only get harder, but I couldn't be happier to be here, serving on this mission. I love you guys so much, and I can't wait to write to you guys next week. Till then, take care, and may the Spirit of God be with you through each of the trials that come your way.
Elder Conner Duane Parke