Hey, Mom. So, I got the gigantic letter from Leilani, and it's really surprising to hear that so much has happened recently. Here's a picture of my Gringo companion, Elder Finch. He's from Utah, but grew up in Alaska! He's really cool, and it's so far been a lot of fun helping him get to know my sector, and all that it has to offer (good and bad, hahahahaha). He's a really great missionary, and has even helped me been able to help some of our investigators that were progressing at a snail's pace to have Baptismal Dates set, to be committed to attend Church, and even find new people to teach! I miss you guys a lot, but I'm so glad to hear a lot of good news! I just want to take a little time to apologize, and say that I could've been a better person and example for those around me... Especially the kids. You have no idea how happy it makes me to hear that the kids are doing great, and are ready to go back to school again. I have faith that Nika's going to do great in her first year of school (whoa!!!) and Leilani will do wonders in her first year of college. (Double whoa!!!) Here, I'm just doing anything and everything I can to help Elder Finch come to know everything as I've come to know. It's been a bit tricky for him, because before coming here, he served 8 months in El Truinfo, which is basically the opposite of here (rural, not urban; fields, not buildings, etc. etc). He's not as accustomed as I've become to waking to the sonic booms from the turbines of airplanes every 5 minutes early in the mornings, hahahahaha!!! It's even funnier, because I still sleep like a rock through them, but wake up to his alarm clock going off O_o Anyway, it's been awesome, because he's the very first American companion that I have had the grand blessing of having in my mission. But, he prefers to speak in Spanish, because after all, we are teaching and preaching in the country of Ecuador :P I love the e-mails that you guys have sent me this week, because it really motivated me to continue to give it my all while I'm still here. I love you guys so much, keep praying (because I can't work as hard as I've been without your guys's prayers and support), and say hi to that adorable little girl Jordyn Taylor for me!!!
Hi, Mom. First of all, something really hit me recently, and it was something that Dad told me before I left. "You're only happy in the mission if you want to be." I've noticed that I've been doing an unusual amount of complaining - in my journal, with my companions, with some of our members... And I just realized that I don't like it. Because if I truly wanted to enjoy my mission (like both Elder Alcantara and Elder Finch have told me), then why complain? Why not just smile, and move on? Finally, I told Elder Finch that he's absolutely right. Because to be perfectly honest, I really don't want to be one of those missionaries that look back at their Mission Journals, and pictures, and stuff, and based on what they wrote and kept, they think: "Wow, my mission sucked." I'd much rather do anything and everything I can possible right now to enjoy the 2 measly years (almost only one) that I've been given to invite as much people as I humanly can to Come Unto Christ by receiving His Restored Gospel. It's going to be hard, I won't doubt it. But I'd rather end the day here, soaked in sweat, feet hurting, and extremely exhausted from working, than not do anything. I love my mission, I love my companions, and I couldn't be happier just to be here. I know that I'm only going to be with Elder Finch for a short time before I get transferred to (considering that I now have 7 whole months in this sector alone), but I'm going to do my hardest to make the absolute most of it, no matter what! I love you guys so much, and always remember (this is especially for Nika. Starting school, and all)... If and when times get hard, just think of a small and simple way to turn it positive. For example, even though this has been the hardest year of my life, I'm just happy to even be able to be here. And more importantly, that God and Jesus Christ called me to be here. Stay positive, keep praying often, and never forget that I love each of you guys!!! Say hi to the Taylors, the Lindbergs, and the Hunts for me!!!
Hi, Mom. I can't lie, it's been pretty hard, especially this past week. So, what happened is for whatsoever reason, the stepdad of the family that would let us use their washing machine for our clothes not only let us not wash there anymore, but he took away the keys that they had given us. And, just when it couldn't get any more tougher, we received the Magic Phone Call that same Sunday night last night from the Assistants to the President, saying that my companion Elder Alcantara had been transferred to El Triunfo (outside of Guayaquil). He couldn't fit a bunch of his stuff back into his bags, so he gave me some of his stuff... Including a Chess Set that he had been given as a gift that we would always play against each other with.
It's been ferociously stressful lately, with a ton of changes, a ton of stuff going on, and all because my companion and I had interviews with President Riggins. If you guys haven't been counting, I've been in my sector and ward of Las Americas for nearly 7 months now, and just now they're transferring (and basically separating) my companion and I. I can now understand a little more clearer why it's not such an extremely good idea to have companions or be in the same sector for more than 5 months in the mission. It's was honestly moderately hard to finally say farewell to my companion Elder Alcantara, and to thank him for any and all that he's done to help me become the better missionary that I now am. Let me just now say that thanks to Elder Alcantara, it's now a habit of mine to eat 2 hard-boiled eggs for breakfast, I can talk more easily to people (members and strangers alike), and my faith and testimony has grown a TON. I'm now with Elder Finch (a gringo from Alaska who has 5 months more than me in the Mission), but according to President Riggins, I'll only be with him in this sector for maybe 1 more month. After that, I'll most likely be taking my leave from Good Ol' Las Americas, as well. I gave it all I could to help the members, investigators, and less active members try to come to know that Jesus and Heavenly Father love them enough to send us here, and not only invite them, but help them through any and all means necessary to Come Unto Christ by accepting His restored Gospel, and His restored Church. In the end, I feel kinda bummed that even though I tried everything (praying, fasting, reading the Scriptures, seeking guidance from our DL, ZL, and even APs and President), it still wasn't quite enough. Regardless, I'll still make an effort to come back some day, and visit anyone and everyone that I possibly could. I love this sector (and the people and members in it) more than anything, even though the Work's been a bit slow lately. Before I conclude, I obviously can't forget to give a shout-out to my awesome uncle Wayne for his birthday, and I couldn't thank him and his wife Sherri for all their love and support that they've been able to give me as I continue to serve dilligently and faithfully on my mission here in Ecuador. I love you guys so much, and thank you so much for the love, support, and prayers that I've been given. Until next week, keep praying often, and NEVER stop pressing onward!!!