Monday, March 31, 2014

This week my prayers have been answered in every way.

Seriously I cry almost every week (presumably because of the emails he reads from his friends and family.)
This week my prayers have been answered in every way. 

Primero (first) we have been struggling in our area this week. It really has been tough because someone gets dropped or problems or just never there. The problem was that we weren't finding new personas. Yea we had the one family who were awesome and ready but then her in laws and land lord who are the same person, prohibited them from listening to our message. So that's a major speed bump. We are going to try and teach them in the house of a member near by. Pero they are out of town so we haven't had a chance to work with them. Pero we found dos personas quien son (people who were) prepared for us. This one house lived a menos activo (less active member) and so we talked to this lady and set up an appointment with her the next day. So we went there and she wasn't there but the mom introduced us to this 21 year old kid who said he was a member. We talked to him about getting back into church and reading scriptures, something short. Then we asked him to offer the closing prayer. He needed help started but then he poured out his heart to God. He started crying and was asking for strength to resist drugs. When we finished he told us that he has quit drugs 3 vezas and relapsed 3 vezas (times). So we gave him a priesthood blessing to give him strength to resist and follow Christ. The next day in a visit, his whole attitude changed. He was smiling and happy to see us, he was talkative, had a button on shirt and jeans too. Totally different. We just had an amazing lesson with him about sobre la palabra de sabidurĂ­a (the word of wisdom), then repentance then iglesia (church). He agreed to start the repentance process and meet with the bishop the next day on domingo. We picked him up for church at 2 and he was there till 6. He was in all the classes and he was super happy. Well we found out through the bishop that he isn't a member. That he started investigating the church but isn't baptized and confirmed. So he just turned into an investigator. He already agreed to come to conference all day Sunday. That was a cool experience with him.

Another experience this week was when we were trying to find a menos activo (less active member) again. We went to this house and this lady came out and said "oh elders are you here because of my sister?" We replied that we were looking for a menos activo after she told us where they lived my companion asked why she thought we were here for her sister. She said that her sister is in a different ward and just got baptized 2 semanas ago and the sister said she would send the missionaries to her. So we asked when we could come back and teach her. That day was Friday and we set up the next meeting for Saturday. We met her parents who and taught the restoration. She was super happy and receptive. The dad had a lot of questions and loved our presence. We extended the invitation to be baptized on 19 de abril. The lady said yes. She started crying and just said yes. The dad declined solo para aprender mas (to learn more about the church). But then they all came to church. The parents and the daughter. They stayed all three hours. They loved it and participated so much. When we met with them yesterday night the dad was asleep but the mom said that she loved the church and loved the spirit and said that she wants to be a Mormon. The spirit was so strong. Yes they have problems, but they have the desire. The daughter said that she wants us to come back every day and teach her. So amazing. Church was amazing. It felt just like home. So many people, so many investigators, so much love. The spirit was so strong. That answered that prayer of finding people.  Then hearing the story in Idaho about Dad and Jeanne´s leg pain going away was an answer to my prayers that you will be blessed for my work. I think about all of our family all the time.

I really just love this gospel.

Other than that this week has been a lot of rain and walking in the heat. It always rains when its the most sunny and hot. Last P day (preparation day - their only day "off") we went to this tour place where we got to see iguanas. Its literally just a park for them. Got to see the coast and stuff. It was pretty cool. Today I am playing soccer and probably get a hair cut. No se (I don't know). 

That's it from here. I am really missing you guys but loving it here. Its hard here but days like Sunday with the spirit so strong makes it all worth it. 
I love you mom
I love you dad
I love you family.
I think and pray for you all the time

Elder Luke.


Monday, March 24, 2014

Three months and he is already writing in Spanglish

It's always amazing and bring tears to my eyes to hear from you and the family. This week since Elder White only has a short time left we have been talking about the future and stuff. Talking a lot about what we think about after the mission. I told him today that all I think about the future is really when I get to hug my mom at the end of these best two years. I miss you mom, I miss working. It warms my heart to know that the business is being blessed. Keep my informed about things that come in the store. That if a freaking amazing bike comes in or like another polo poncho. Not like I need that here.   (Ok... not very easy for me to read at work during tax season.. Just saying.)

Well, this week... It was very good and way better than last week pero we had some interesting experiences. Entonces two sabados ago the hermanas in our distrito had a baptism. (Translated: two Saturdays ago some sister missionaries in our district had a baptism) Since my companion is leader of the distrito (district) and the hermanas (sisters) are in our barrio (area) we had the duty to clean and prepare the baptismal font. Its always really dirty. Not because of people not taking care of it but because this city is so dirty. Well we had a problem, the font was already clean pero the drain wouldn't lock so it would not hold water and the city chut (shut) off the water. So we had no water. There is this giant well that is in the ground that holds the water, but it was super low on water. There was enough water but not a lot. Well at the same time the pump to pump it into the church had broken too.  We tried using another one and fished a hose through the capilla. Well that pump was broken tampoco. So after lunch we grabbed two young men and a bunch of buckets and were transporting bucket about 30 yards into the font from the well. To add to that the water in the well was not clean. We finished right before the baptism started at 5:00. All day. My shirt was dirty as can be and the water was not even knee height. Not to mention the water was so dirty that you couldn't see the bottom of the font. It sucked, because we worked solo on that. Pero  I was able two see two young adults. a brother and sister take a paso de fe (walk of faith) and follow Christ. It was absolutely amazing. Even though everything did not go right. It was the ordinance that mattered. I asked the 17 year old kid who was going to get baptized if he was ready. He looked at me and said yes, I am not nervous. I am ready for this. The fe (faith) of this kid was amazing. It was amazing. We are preparing him for a mission by having him come on visits with us every Friday. It was so awesome. Right after the baptism we had an activity that was noche de pelicula or movie night. We got permission to watch Frozen. Yes it was in Spanish but it was actually a cool movie. I bet Becca loved that movie. Only one thing, it sort of mimics Tangled. The purpose of the activity was to find new people. We had invited mucho personas (a lot of people). But the only people who showed up were members. So Fail. But it was fun. 

This week we had been going with this menos activo (less active member) on visits. He loves it. He loves talking about the church and sharing scriptures and talking to everyone. He is an awesome missionary and exactly what this sector needed. 
Okay I got one more crazy story. During the baptismal water mess this family walked by and got our attention. They asked if we were missionaries of this church (because we were next to the capilla). They said that they missed the missionaries teaching them and want us to come by and teach them. The family consists of padres (father), 17 year old girl and a really annoying 7 year old boy. So we were super excited because they wanted the gospel. They had the desire and they wanted us to teach them. Those type of people are rare. So we were super excited. So we went over the first time and met them and taught them. They were really interesting. The kid was super annoying but it was okay because he is young. But I didn't feel very good in the lesson. I kept stuttering and couldn't form words. Everyone was happy and why did I feel so bad. Well I pushed the feelings aside and we went back for another visit. This time it was without the padre and I felt the same way. We were teaching something amazing and important but why did I feel so bad during the lessons. We left the lesson and I asked Elder White how he felt about the lesson and  the family. He said bien, then I told him how I was feeling. I told him that I felt that they were listening to our message not for Christ or the blessings but for something else. I told him we would talk about it in our planning. So we did that night. He said that when I had told how I was feeling, he recognized he was feeling the same way. We both felt that something was off with the family and we didn't know what we should do. We had an appointment with them and they were going to come to church. So we asked heavenly father what we should do. So I offered the prayer and asked if we should go back to our visit next week or not at all. We received the prompting that we should never go back to that house again. Elder White says its because they want one of us to take their daughter to the US. But I don't know. All I know and can't deny the feelings I had and we are not going back. Just made me so grateful for having the spirit. Having him constantly with me and guiding me and warning me. I don't know what I would do with out him. Crazy story but amazing that I have the holy ghost. 

That basically it. Just working hard. Unfortunately nobody came to church of our investigators. So we have no one progressing for baptism. But we found a family that looks and feels promising. 

Its super Hot here.  
Mom I love you. Its really hard here. 247 to the lord. Not a bad thing but I do miss those quiet Sundays with the family and watching sports and movies. 

But I know why I am here, because this work and this gospel is everything. Nothing matters. This is everything. I am studying alma right now. And the padre and king to king Limoni says to Aaron that we would give his entire kingdom just to have eternal life with God. This work and this gospel is literally everything. That's why I am here. 

I love you mom
I love you dad
I love you family.
I pray for you guys a lot. and miss you

Elder Luke.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Would I really be here in Ecuador if I didn't know the church was true?

I don't have too much time, only about 10 minutes. Its awesome to hear about Dawson Dayton and Hunter Dennis. (Brian's friends who each opened their mission calls last week). I wish I could see them off. Pero I will be there for their home coming that's for sure. I bet you there is so much pride in the eyes of Brother Dayton and Brother Dennis right now.

My week was hard. We went contacting with other elders and found this lady. Super awesome lady. Me and my companion went the next day to teacher her. We taught the entire family. We taught about Faith, then Repentance and then Baptism. They had a little baby there and we asked "does that baby have sin?" They said no because its a baby it can't do anything wrong. Then we taught about how baptism is supposed to be a decision of your own not your parents. Then a missionary from a different faith walked up and started bashing on us in front of this family. We really didn't say anything, we just let him bash on us. Then he turned to the family and bashed on them for listening to us. Then the mom asked him if the baby had sins. He asked if it had been baptized. They said no. He said yes it has sin. Then the mom went on to teach exactly what we had just taught them. It was so awesome. Finally he left and we apologized and then committed them to baptism. Unfortunately they didn't come to church which prolongs that date and their progression, pero we are working with them.

Another experience was with an 18 year old dude who is progressing for baptism and has been taking a lot of lessons with us. Y tambien con Angie, his friend and a lady who bashed a lot on us. Pero she had changed and she felt that what we had was true. So they asked questions about our standards and about the word of wisdom. Then it came down to why we are Mormon. They were saying that its because we followed our parents. We explained that we each have received answers to our prayers and know the Gospel to be true. I then told them that without this church do you really think I would be in Ecuador, learning Spanish in the heat? They said no. I said exactly. I told them everything I had back home and that most of all I left my family whom I miss so much. I said I am here because I know this church is true and because the Book of Mormon is the word of God. The spirit was so strong and it really changed their hearts.

I am out of time. I will try and send letters this week. I have more stories just no time.
I love you mom
I love you dad
I love you family.

Elder Luke.

Monday, March 10, 2014

"My mom, she is amazing"

My mom, she is amazing.

A little background first:  In my email to Brian I told him that I finally bore my testimony at church on Fast Sunday.  In 16 years of being a member of the Church I have never done that before.  I always rationalized excuses or something.  But with Brian on his mission encouraging us to be better followers of Christ, it's a lot harder to rationalize.  I also told him that I have a hard time determining if the Spirit is trying to tell me something or if its just my own somewhat crazy ideas.  I recently went to the Temple and was asking God for help with our family business.  I had the thought that I needed to read my scriptures more.  My next thought was "Well how is that going to bring more people into our store?"  Then I realized I was probably rationalizing things again and that sometimes simple acts of obedience will manifest blessings in other aspects of our lives.  Then I received another direct thought to listen to the profits and heed to their counsel.  So, Steve and I have started reading scriptures together before we go to bed at night.  We'll see how this works with tax season sleep depravation, but we are going to try. 
Mom, serious I am so happy for you. I promise you that reading your scriptures will bless you and Dad. I am so happy for you. Keep doing it. Keep it up. Keep following the spirit. I can tell you that what you have been feeling, those promptings, have been of the spirit. That's awesome. Literal filled my spirit. Do you say evening prayers together? Serious do it. In the CCM they said that being with a companion here is preparing me for an eternal companion and if I am supposed to study with him and prayer with him I think that aplys to you two tambien. The family will be so blessed. So excited for you.
Well carnival here is where people celebrate the end of the school year. It's just a giant pool party and they throw water balloons filled with paint and stuff and just have a huge party. Last domingo while wearing my suit, we encountered some idiots who were going to throw balloons but Elder White talked them out of it.  Then another time I watched this dude planning to throw a balloon as I passed. When we passed it hit the ground at my feet.  So either the Lord was protecting me and my suit like Samuel the Lamanite or he just sucks at throwing a balloon prque we weren't standing that far away. It was funny. Those two days were hard. Our casa has only one window so there is no air circulation. So it's so hot all the time. So I wrote a lot in my journal and slept.  We had some pizza and played some water ball soccer. Other missionaries had a blast but my companion only wanted to read. So sort of a buzz kill.

Pero Pero PERO, the next day I had a inter cambio, exchanges for a day with a greengo zone leader. At first I was nervous but once we got to work it was awesome. I learned so much from him and had super awesome leccions con nuestro investagadores. Then we worked out hard that night. I don't do it a lot because i am always so tired after every day. But it was fun. Then the next day I was with Elder White. The next day I did another cambio with another greengo, we had a leccion con the familia that I talked about last time. We watched the restoration movie and at the end she said that she believes our words to be true. It was a huge change in heart. So amazing. We have a baptism feche for the 29 de marzo and that's if everything goes well. Pray it will. Its been an awesome week.
Today is transfers or Cambios and I am with Elder White for another transfer, but I have been told that it is most likely possible that I will train a Latino after I am done with my training. We will see.

Other than that not much going on. Working hard and trying to learn a language and progress this sector along. Oh my Spanish has gotten better. So much better. The gift of tongues is in me, Makes my happy.

Mom i am so happy for you, the family everything. I hope blessings are coming.
I love you mom.
I love you dad
I love you Family
Elder Luke

Monday, March 3, 2014

Saturday email

Hey mom,
I know its early (Saturday instead of Monday) and that's not because I am breaking the rules. The reason is there is a huge Carnival coming in town which means a lot of drinking and its not worth it for the missionaries and not safe. So today I get to email and shop. I have to be back at my home at 6 for today and manana.  On Monday and Tuesday we have to stay in our casa, no leaving at all. It sucks but I think it will be good to have this rest. Especially after the last few weeks.
Basically I feel like I have been trying hard. I feel that I love the people here. Yes I can have more love but this week we had a lot of ceros for our reports. Nobody would keep commitments and nobody would meet with us, we are dropping investagadors left and right. It sucks because I feel that in the next life they are going to regret that.
We had this visit with a less active 14 year old kid and his non-member family. The lesson started well. We talked about baptism and the sister said she was baptized into another church and we explained how thats not the right way by a few drops of water on the head. In the bible it says that Jesus entered water and then after being dunked came straight way out of the water. How is that possible with a few drops on the head. If jesus is the perfect exmple then should we follow him exactly and not in a different way. So we explained it and she could not deny that the espiritu santo testifying that it was true. Then we talked about prayer. The spirit was strong and I felt good until I asked the mom if she would pray to God and ask which church is the true church. Immidiatly the spirit was gone and she just went on about her son being dissobedient and this and that and complaining so much. I felt godly sorrow because I was blessing their family.  I was bringing them the most valuable thing ever and they were not even trying to feel the spirit.  They weren't trying to let us bless them. It was just sad. We are going to keep trying in a few weeks. But thats how our weeks were, just a bunch of ceros and people not listening.
But there was this one family. At first she wasn't listenig and wasn't keeping commitments.  She was afraid that we were right and that she would have to change her life if she received a witness of the truthfulness of our messege. But her daughter said yes to baptism.  Since she is 12 we can't have a feche for her unless the mom commits to baptism as well.  The mom has been meeting with the missionaries for a long time now. But we have been trying and she said she prayed to know if our messege is true.  She said she didn't receive an answer. We told her to keeep praying and an answer will come. Next time we are teaching faith because a prayer without faith will never bring an answer. And faith is beleiving and doing. She already has been doing by meeting with the missionaries and finally praying but she needs to beleive that she can receive a an answer. In the long run she needs to want an answer. So we are trying with them. But thats it. We dont really have anyone progressing for baptism. Its hard.
Pero, my spanish has improved a lot and yes its still not to where I want it to be.  I still can't say exactly what I want but I can teach by the spirit. Thats what matter. 
This week I have been drawing a lot. I told you about the pic that I am drawing, well I finished it. Its amazing. Its the picture that you took of the Christ statue. I modified it just a little so that it's my picture. But my reasoning is not to pedict who christ is because he is perfect and I couldnt do him justice, pero to pedict what he is to you.  I hope you like it.
that's basically it. Just working hard and praying hard. I am super tired though. A lot of walking. 
Mom I want you to know that I pray for you.  I pray for dad and the business and the entire family.  I hope your receiving blessing.
Mom I love you,
Dad I love you
Family I love you all.
Elder Luke.