Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Rama Pedernales

Sounds like your week was super good that is warming to hear. It always worries me to hear bad stuff go on but man is it refreshing to hear such wonderful stories from you guys. 
Well this week was okay.  There were some problems. Problems that I really don't like. But I got transferred. I am now in the farthest sector of the entire mission. Its was like 10 hours in bus to get here.  Its called rama Pedernales. And the thing is, its not a barrio, or ward, its a rama (branch). I don't know what it means in English but its not big enough to be a ward so it doesn't even have a church building. They meet in a casa. Super small. I am super stoked to work with my Nuevo (new) companion. His name is Elder Sanchez, de Peru.  He is awesome.  I knew him before, he was in the office of the mission when I first got here. He know a little bit of English. We are opening a sector.  They took out the other two missionaries and put us in, we don't know anybody and the rama is so small that there aren't a lot of members to help. But the sector is pretty big. Small than my last sector but pretty big. 
BUT, the best part, the best best best, my favorite part......... wait for it.......... our sector and where we live is....... on the ....... BEACH, looking out over the ocean. Mom you are so jealous. SOOO so jealous. I will send pictures. Its such a peaceful and awesome place. We actually live on the beach.

But this sector is so weird, its so far away from anyone else. We literally take a bus for three hours just to get to our district meeting. We don't leave much because we just waist so much time. I didn't write yesterday because I was in the bus all day. I saw three movies that were playing on the bus. By the way the new Transformers was awful. My opinion. Maybe its because it was in Spanish.

The second best best best part of this is that we get to baptize in the ocean, and rivers. How freaking cool is that. I am so pumped. SO pumped for baptisms this transfer. The only bad part is that the ward is small and we are secluded from all the other missionaries. But its all good. I am so happy.

So that's it. I am so pumped. So happy. I am so happy.
Something happened, Ii was reading the book of Mormon today for my studies. I am in 2 Nephi 27. Nephi talks about the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. Its my favorite book.  El Libro De Mormon. Well I felt that I should pray today to strengthen my testimony so I can help others have a testimony of the Book of Mormon. Guess what??  I received an answer. Guess what the answer is? That the Book of Mormon is TRUE. I just feel really good. You guys should pray always and always ask to know if the Book of Mormon is true. Its a testimony that always needs to be strengthened through reading always and praying always. Why do we need a testimony of the Book of Mormon? Because its the clave o (key or) key stone of our religion. And when we find the answer we find that the Church is true and Joseph Smith was a prophet and that Christ is out savior. Its what stands us out from everyone else. No other church has this beautiful book.  When we read and pray we find the answers and testimony from God. That's when we receive the blessings. 
I testify that going to the temple is something we should always do. Once a week I would even add. Not only the work that needs to be done there but also how peaceful, how spiritual, and wonderfully beautiful the temple is.  Keep going because that's where you guys can receive such wonderful revelations for our family. 
Guys that's it for this week. Everything is wonderful. Oh it is wonderful the sector that God gave to me.
I am going to kill it this week. (translated into I'm going to be an awesome missionary this week)
I love you
Elder Luke

no caption needed for this one!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Handwritten letter to his mom

Querido Madre (dear mother),

Estoy muy agradecido por ti - I am so grateful for you.  You are the best.  You are so awesome.  You are such an example for so many people.  Lately I have been thinking about how blessed I am to have a solid family.  Its tough here sometimes because there are a lot of divorced families.  Muchos veces (many times) a girl will have a kid with a dude and the dude takes off.  I see moms raising children up solo.  The worst part is when I see a part member family, where the kids and the mom are members but not the dad.  Its very rare to find an entire family that are all members and active.  This gospel really can unify and strengthen the family.  But its so sad when people participate in the blessing and fall away.  And now their lives are a mess.  I was talking with Elder Cordova the other day about that and we just came to realize that los personas (the people) that keep the commandments and endure to the end live happier lives.  Its easier to live the gospel.  Just how people say that its easier to smile than to frown.  Its the same with the Church.  I say all of that to show what I see everyday.  But also to show how grateful I am to have been raise up in the Gospel. 

I know this carta (letter) is late but I am writing this on your anniversary (in July).  It all started 19 anos (years) ago.  I know it started differently but you and dad changed so I can say that I have been raised in the Gospel.  I am grateful that you guys always woke us up early to read scriptures and always went to church.  Those little things you and dad showed us makes a difference.  Its tough for people to always go to church.  But what you guys did was ingrained los mandamientos (the Commandments) and standards in our head to the point that we always go to church, we never buy things on Sunday, we watch our language and we are modest.  I am so grateful that you have set such an awesome example por mi (for me).   I am really grateful. 

Now I thought we were very close to being perfect in keeping the commandments but we have things to improve on.  There is siempre (always) room for improvements.  Its always such a wonderful feeling to meet a family where los padres son (the parents are) very close and they love their kids and they want to be firm in the gospel.  I just met this newly married couple in the barrio.  The husband wanted to go on visits with us and that we would know where his house is so he can help with food and his wife wanted to help on how ensenamos (we can teach). I could look in their faces.  Yes I know they had problems, but I saw true happiness in their eyes.  Its even more awesome because you and dad have the same thing.  I am so grateful to have an eternal familia.  I am grateful for your love and hard work for me.  Remember what Christ said "Come unto me, all ye that labour and our heavy laden and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28).

I know Christ lives.  I testify he is our Savior.  Now I am changing peoples lives so that they also can say "Yo se que vive mi senor" (I was living my Lord) and remember "All because two people fell in love"

I love you mom
Your son
Elder Luke

Handwritten letter to his brother Benjamin

Dear Benjamin,

You have grown up so much.  You're so tall, how high are you?  When I come back in a year and a half, you will probably be taller and way stronger than me.  We will have to arm wrestle to see who is strongest.  How is summer?  What is the coolest thing you have done and will do this summer?  Have you been working a lot?  Start working now so that you can save up money so you can be a missionary just like me.  Where do you want to serve your mission?  You only have about nine years and you will be in a white shirt and tie, walking under the sun, sweating A LOT and baptizing nuestro Hermanos (our Brothers). 

I heard that you are sleeping in Brandon's room.  That's awesome, more space for all your action figures and toys.  But remember to clean it so it be perfect.  Because el espiritu (the spirit) can't preside in a dirty place.  Are you praying every night and morning?  Are you reading your scriptures not only with the familia but personally?  I know you are super young.  You have 9 years of life but start those habits of reading the scriptures and praying now.

Have fun this summer.  Play. Run. Be a kid. Just think of all the fun we will have when I get back.  We will go biking, snowboarding, play futbol and football.  I miss you Benjamin.  Always know I love you

Elder Luke

Handwritten letter to his sister Rebecca

Dear Rebecca,

I am sorry I haven't written you sooner.  I have been so busy furthering along the Kingdom of Go.  Its crazy how much time I really don't have.  Its hard to go to bed on time when there is so much to do.  What do you suggest I do to get to bed on time?  We have this way of waking up in the morning.  Once our alarm goes off we all start screaming what ever number we were given. "Uno! Uno! Uno! Uno! Dos! Tres! Tres! When we are all up and yelling our number that's when we are allowed to turn off the alarm.  If one of us is still asleep and not yelling his number we jump on him and push him until he gets up.  What do you think about that?  Maybe you should try that for family scripture study in the morning?

How is school?  When you probably get this letter, school will be over and you'll probably just be starting Summer (well it came at the end of summer).  What do you want to do this summer?  Go to McCall? Hiking? Skiing?  (ha! Just kidding). Tal Vez (perhaps) biking? Learn an instrument?  Drawing?  You have a lot you could do, just make sure to have fun.  Mom told me that you have been drawing.  It seems like everyone in the family can draw now.  That's awesome.  Keep drawing and practicing.  Talk to Brandon and Dad because they know a lot about drawing.  They can help you learn and get better. 

Rebecca you are growing up, its crazy.  Just make sure you grow up to be a valiant young lady in the Church.  I remember when we would watch "So you Think You Can Dance." You would always announce to the family if their outfits were modest or not.  I don't know if you still do that, but its things like that that make you grow up to be a fine daughter of God.  Always remember who you are and soak up every moment you have with the family

I love you Becca
Elder Brian Luke

PS You voy esperar por mi proxima Carta :) (You'll wait for my next letter)

Handwritten letter to his brother Brandon

Dear Brandon,

What's up Brother from the same mother?  When you get this you will probably be on Trek or just getting back (well it was actually a month after Trek).  But I hope you get it rapidisimo (very quickly).  Well if its after Trek that you recibira esta carta (receive this letter).

I hope you are learning more Spanish so when I get back we can talk completely in Spanish.  Tambien (also) its really likely that you will serve a mission aqui (here) in South America.  It will be easier for you porque usted sabe los basicas de Espanol entonces usted aprendera mas raido (because you know the basic of Spanish then you will learn faster). Is it weird that you are going to be leaving for a mission soon? Mira (look), I have a year and half left in the mission.  When I get back next year you will be in your senior year.  You will turn 18 and then se ya, you're gone.  That's not a lot of time.  Una escritura exlica que tiempo es como un sueno (It is written that time is like a dream).  Really its so fast.  I am only 6 months (8 months once we received the letter) into the mission but every week is just faster and faster.  Days feel like weeks and weeks feel like a day.  Time is so fast and life is short.  I pray and hope with all my heart that you are preparing now.  Read the Scriptures. Read the Book of Mormon, its such a freaking awesome book. Pray.  Get in the habit of praying at night before you go to bed, when you wake up, every meal and when you leave the house in the morning.  Pray when you study las escrituras (the Scriptures).  Pray always.  Seek ye the kingdom of God.  Gain a testimony and keep the commandments.  I know you're awesome but think of how much more awesome you could be if you do those things.  Something I want you to try this summer is follow the missionary schedule.  If you don't know it, I will dire (tell) it to you. Pagina  (page) 14 de the white handbook.

I hope you are soaking all the Awesome experiences that you have had and will have.  But use this time to grow not only physically but que as mas importante is ser fuerte spiritual (that is most important as being strong spiritual).  Dude you got to send me more photos of you and the family.  I am really digging your hair and your style now.

This week we have 3 baptisms.  I can promise you that there is no greater joy than having someone lost, return and be baptized.  But the temple is the meta (goal).  That is what we always need to strive for.

Brother, you are so freaking awesome.  Keep biking, drawing, being stylish and working.  I am so proud of you. 

I love you Bro
Elder Luke

Friday, August 22, 2014

Handwritten letter to his Dad

Dear Dad,

I am sorry I haven't written you earlier.  I have gotten caught up in this work.  Its been really hard to find free time to write the family, draw, drum and hacer casas (make home).   I wouldn't say that I have completely lost myself in the work, but I think having no time to yourself is part of that.  My Spanish has been improving so much.  This last few semanas (weeks) went by muy rapido (very fast) and I learned a lot.  I learned more on how to explain things, especially in Spanish.  So I have been getting better but not that fast.  I feel deep down and what my Patriarchal blessing says.  I feel that I am being prepared.  Not only in the mission but in general.  Recently I have been praying that I will be pushed to megorar bastante (greatly improve). I can be the missionary that the Lord wants me to be.  I have been praying that I can meet my potential.  I can't say that my prayers have been answered YET. Just because I haven't seen anything happen yet.  But everyday I know I am getting better.  Getting better to me means that I am becoming more like Christ. 

Dad I want you to know that I love it here.  Would I live here, no, but I love being a missionary here.  I really wish that you could be here with me, learning the same things, doing the same stuff and bringing others unto baptism.  But you can be the missionary back home.  Remember that you have the same authority and Responsibility that I have.

Dad I am so grateful for you being such an example.  You change lives when you returned to church.  I am grateful to our Padre Celestial (Heavenly Father) that we have been raised in the Gospel.  It really is a blessing.  I am trying to get better.  I might be spiritually strong but I will never be stronger than you.  Your a stud!  I am filled with pride that you went to state championships for biking, STP and LotoJa and Salt to Saint (Steve's bike races this summer).  Its so awesome that you get to get stronger and stronger.  But remember the spiritual strength is what will carry you to the next life.  It is what's most important.  Remember to study your Scriptures and always Pray.  Dad as you do all these races, please be safe, safe in all things.

Dad, I know and testify that God lives that Christ lives.  I testify that Jesus Cristo restored his true church through his prophet Jose Smith.  I know and have a grand testimony because the Spirit has made it manifest unto me.  He has testified and now I testify.

I love you Dad
your son
Elder Luke

Monday, August 18, 2014

Better success and priorities in place

Well this week was very good.

On Monday we had such an awesome lesson with some less active members. The Spirit was strong and it was so easy to click with them. We spent like 2 hours in their house. We were joking, teaching, feeling the spirit, and eating. They came to church yesterday. Then Tuesday we had a lesson with an investigator who is just awesome. We put a date for her baptism for the 23rd. We talked about a plan that we had made for her. It just explains what we will teach and when we will teach her up until her baptism. Well I was filled with the Spirit and I knew she was ready for baptism for this week, or I mean this last week. She was prepared and had a testimony, had the asistencias (required attendance at church), she just needed the interview. So I told her that we think she was ready for baptism for this last week. She responded back saying that she was thinking the same thing. It was so awesome to hear that. She has already listened to so many missionaries before and every time she didn't want anything but she even told us that this time was different. She feels different. She wanted to be a member of the true church of Jesus Christ. So we change our plans a little and planned so that she could be baptized the 16th de Agosto. She had the interview and a little bit more teaching.  On Thursday night she told me over the phone that she wanted me to baptize her. There are missionaries that don't want to baptize, and then there are missionaries that don't care who baptizes, what's important is that they get baptized. Then there is me. I want to baptize baptize baptize. To me it's a privilege. And this time I wanted someone else in the ward to do it. I felt honored when she wanted me to baptize her. Saturday was the baptism. We had so many people there. Her dad, friends and a bunch of people from the ward. Even one of my converts, the older lady that we baptized. It was an awesome night. Then Sunday she was confirmed.
Also on Sunday we brought an investigator to church. Only one, but one is better than none. Especially when she felt the Spirit so strongly. That night we passed by her house and she was so happy, but her husband was drunk. He just wanted to talk and talk and I felt so sorrow. We finally got him to lay down in a hammock. Then we started teaching her and explaining that she felt the Spirit testify that the church is true. I was feeling the Spirit until the drunk man got back up and for a minute looked right in my eyes. I felt like I was battling Satan. I was thinking about Moses when he said to Satan, "get thee hence Satan". So I said that in my mind and he went back to bed. Today we are going to pass by her house again. Unfortunately she isn't married but if we can get them married she will be an awesome member.
Well that's all that has happened this week. It was actually awesome. I got to go on visits with Elder Johnson the assistant to the President. He is a powerful missionary. 
This next lunes (Monday) we have cambios (transfers). I am pretty sure that I will stay here in Bastion and train a newbie. We will see. My companion and I are doing good. This week we are going to pull out good numbers for cambios (transfers). 
(In my email I asked Brian if he was able to find time to keep up on his drawing.  This was his response.)  Mom ya know I really don't have time to draw. I do want to but there are other things that are more important. Don't worry, in my Patriarchal Blessing it talks about my love for art, I wont lose it (his talent). God will bless me. Don't worry mom. Right now I am worried about getting more spiritually strong and physically strong. I have been lifting weights, doing some abs and even running. I am actually sore a bunch but its okay. I forget about it when I am proselyting. (Sounds like a man with his priorities in the right places.  Just awesome.)

Mom I love you so much. I LOVE THIS CHURCH SO MUCH. I love my god
Hasta lunes (until Monday)

Elder Luke

Monday, August 11, 2014

The Scriptures teach that we are weak, but with God we can be strong.

Well this week was really interesting. My companion and I have been butting heads. We have been disagreeing. It really sucks. Its been really hard to feel the spirit. But Wednesday we had an interview with President. It was just the normal three month interview check up. I told him what I am struggling with and he said, "Elder, you don't need to worry. You are doing a fine job. You are growing to be an excellent missionary.  You don't need to worry. You just need to keep doing what you are doing and soon you will peak". That really boosted my spirit. He said that I was going to train and he told me what I need to do to prepare. It was such an awesome spirit booster. While we were there in the office I bought a sick tie that has the Guayaquil temple on it. Its awesome.

So we left the President and we still kept butting heads. Every Friday we plan. We do weekly planning, but we do it in the capilla (chapel). Before we do that we have a meeting as a zone and discuss about committing people to church. The AP, assistants to the president, joined us in our meeting. We broke up and started planning. And during our planning we just butted heads. It was so hard. We started arguing, but one of the APs came in and took me aside. se llama (called) Elder Johnson. He heard me out and then said the same thing that Presidente told me that I don't need to worry. That I am doing an awesome job.  That I will be training soon. Then I calmed down and received revelation that we need to put aside our natural man and our own desires and put our heart in this work. Proverbs 27:23. Click here for the link to the scripture So I calmed down and we got back to planning and it was good. That day we started losing our selves in the work. We were putting our Fe (faith) in the lord especially in prayer. The same day of planning we found a family. The spirit guided us to find them. They have problems but they are so receptive.  We came back Saturday and committed them to come to our sacrament meeting. They went to church and then we taught them. I just feel so good with them. I feel the spirit teaching them. It was a gift to find them.

Tambien (also) we have this lady, she is so awesome. She is going to get baptized this 23 de agosto (August 23rd). She is so listo (ready).  In our last lesson I felt the Spirit say that she is going to be baptized this week. We are going to put our fe (faith) in the lord and strive to do that. I know and testify that it will work. It's the only way we can do anything in this life. The Scriptures teach that we are weak, but with God we can be strong.

I am so happy for you guys. I pray and think about you so much. BE SAFE. Go to church. Read the scripture everyday, and  pray always.
Elder Luke



(reposted from the Guayaquil West Mission blog)

On July 1 we held a mission conference to celebrate the first anniversary of the new Ecuador Guayaquil West Mission.  All of our missionaries came in from outside of Guayaquil the evening before and stayed in the temple housing apartments. We started the next morning by taking a mission picture and then we began our mission conference, including several talks, a testimony meeting, a slideshow with 800 pictures from the first year, and part of video, "The Book of Mormon: How Rare a Possession" because Pres. Dennis has focused greatly on the Book of Mormon this past year. Afterwards we had a very delicious lunch and then each zone presented the skits or musical numbers they had prepared.  We finished with closing remarks and our mission hymn in the chapel. Then the zones outside of Guayaquil attended the temple that evening and the zones in Guayaquil attended the following week.  It was a wonderful conference and has been a wonderful first year. We have the best missionaries in the world!!  Ayudarles a Perseverar Hasta el Fin!!
You might spot Elder Luke on the edge on the right side
Oh... There he is.
Guayaquil Ecuador Temple

Monday, August 4, 2014

Tough week. Its been a lot of praying lately.

Well, this week has been tough. I have been so stressed. Not like you guys. I have felt tiny and weak. I feel like I have been working with my own strength. I have been having a spiritual barrier. We haven't had any success. The family of 20 didn't have any interest and aren't going to progress, so we are dropping them.  Our two chicas (girls) planned to not be baptized tampoco (neither) and no desire so we dropped them. We had nothing good.  But my companion and I have been talking a lot and we had a little heart to heart talk and we are pumped to over come challenges. Its been a lot of praying lately.

But we have been blessed with a reference, she is awesome.  Its been a little slow, but we have been trying with her because she has that desire. She lives with a member family. She is so loved, and so we are trying to bring her more happiness. She is awesome. I really want her to progress. Other than her we got nothing, but we are working hard.

This week I had a day inter cambio (transfer)with another greengo, he is awesome and super fun. we had such an awful day together because everything went bad but he kept me pumped. 

I love you guys. Keep strong.

I love you
Elder Luke