Monday, September 29, 2014

Two missionaries in the Luke family one in Ecuador one in Heaven

two missionaries before being set apart
Last Wednesday, Brian's cousin Spencer passed away at the age of 19.  Spencer really wanted to go on a mission but we didn't know that it would be a service mission in Heaven.

Well, I am emotionally moved. Well not as in a spiritually awesome way. I don't know what to say.  I was not expecting at all to receive notice that my cousin died.  He is such an awesome person. I remember that he was so loving. I can't remember what we talked about , but I remember how I felt when I was with him. He really had such a strong Spirit.  He really just loved everyone. EVERYONE. When I heard that he wanted to go on a mission, I wasn't expecting it because I knew that being  a missionary was hard stuff and I didn't think he would be able to handle it, but he really wanted to serve his God.  Now I know that maybe he isn't  changing lives here but that he is changing lives on the other side of the veil. Its so hard to say that  but its true. He is such an awesome person. There in the spirit world he is there without problems. He is resting of all his problems, his afflictions that he endured so well. But then again he isn't resting, he is preaching the gospel. Just imagine, the next time we see him, he wont be the same.  I am proud that he is  my cousin, that he is right a long side of me,  and you all . Wow, this week will be very interesting. I think I will be humbled even more. I will be a major prayer this week for the Moore family.  I love Spencer.  I am grateful for the pictures of him,  especially of us hugging. I guess he was called to serve but his calling came in a different form than mine.  I pray that all is well for the Luke and Moore family. God will strengthen this family. I testify of that.  We have to just  prepare now for the huge family  re union that we will have after this life. 

Well. This week was good, I  have been really trying to keep a positive  attitude. I feel that I have been helping more the people here and that I have been teaching more with the Spirit. I am not yet perfect but with the Spirit I am closer and closer every time. I really  feel like  I am improving so much. This week we have had a conference with president Dennis where I learned so much. It was a long trip (close to 10 hour bus ride) but I learned so much. My mind was so full of just new understanding and enlightenment. I have felt that my prayers were answered in that conference. I learned so much  about the atonement and how we have to endure our afflictions. The best thing that I learned is that nobody said that  salvation is easy. We can  not expect that this will be easy in this life when it was never easy for Christ. We can draw power from the atonement when we suffer from pain, agony,  death, separation, whatever we feel we experience just a little ounce of what Christ felt, we as members and as missionaries experience our own  Gethsemane. That when we endure we are shoulder to shoulder working along side with Him. We are baring his cross. I learned that I can be better.  So  this week has been such an awesome week of applying that.   We have found families prepared for us. We have found  people who actually want to learn.   I just  feel that God has blessed and answered  every single one of my prayers  so far. I am so grateful. 

With the experience that I have had and the death of Spencer I am grateful what Christ has done for us.  As missionaries we have one message for the world. That message is that Christ Lives.  I share my testimony with  you guys that I know that my savior lives and he loves me and he loves every single one of us. 

This week we are going to change the houses to a house that is really nice. I am stoked to change that.
I am so glad that the store is doing good.  That God is taking care of my family. 

I love you .
Elder Luke    
Poor lighting but so glad to see that smiling face.

Nine month celebration. PIZZA

Monday, September 22, 2014

Being a missionary is the hardest thing I have ever done

Well its awesome to hear that everything is going on okay at home. Well I will start with the serious stuff.  This week was good in the aspect of loving more and macheting less. Its been good every time I get into a lesson I focus more on the blessings that they can receive. Its really been a good change. I have been trying to have a good positive attitude this week. Not only with the investigators but also with the member.  It has paid off.  Its been better with the members. Especially Sunday I tried to be a lot more happy and helpful.  Did I see all the things that everyone was doing wrong, yes, but I didn't chew them out for it. So its better.
But this week has been spiritually hard. We have absolutely nothing. We have no program. Its so hard because nobody  in the sector wants to progress. Even our escogido (chosen) from the other semana (week) didn't go to church for reasons unknown. Its been so hard walking and having everyone reject us.  Door after door. It has been such a spiritually hard week. The same  time I have been learning in Alma 26 ( Here is a link to the scripture )about how Alma and his brothers suffered and suffered and God counseled with them saying that if they endured their afflictions with patience that God will provide for them success. That has really spoken to me. Its just that my companion and I, we have been talking with everyone, teaching in such an awesome way. I really feel like these last weeks I have been the best missionary that I have been in the last 9 months of my mission. But to be improving and not see fruits from that work is so tough. Being a missionary is the hardest thing I have ever done.  Harder than any bike ride, than working, than school.  Its been harder than everything because its physically and spiritually draining.
I am learning a lot. This mission is shaping my life. I am learning so much. I am so grateful for this knowledge and experiences that I have obtained and that I will obtain. Cumpli 9 meses (turned 9 months) but I still have a lot of time left, a lot of time to improve and learn. 
Today we are taking a trip to portuviejo to have a conference with President Dennis. Its like all day in a bus with movies.  I am ready to learn a lot. 
Time is clicking down on conference week. Its going to be awesome. For me in the mission its bigger than the super bowl.  I am so pumped. 
I love you all
Elder Luke

Monday, September 15, 2014

I want this week to focus on how AWESOME their lives will be if they do right

I am filled with joy. I just feel like everything at home is being taken care of. Remember when I told you about when some teacher from the CCM told me that if I put my all into this work here that God will provide for my family back home. Well I cant say that I am perfect.  For my strength I am nothing, I am weak, but God is blessing my family. He really is providing. 

Dillon (a friend of Brian's that we hired at our store) is a perfect fit for the store. I got a little worried when you told me that you hired someone. But when I read that it was Dillon I can say that I felt the spirit confirm to me that it will be all right. That I don't need to worry. I am so pumped for Dillon and the business to grow. To get stronger. 

(In last week's email Brian was worried about the members in his new area not following all of the rules of the Gospel.  I suggested that maybe that would be his purpose in this area.  Less focus on Baptism and finding the golden investigator but to strengthen the ward which will in turn find them people to teach.)
Mom I am really grateful for your words about this rama (branch). I felt the same way this week. That I need to worry and focus on the members and not too much on baptisms. It really hurts my heart to hear that endowed active members are buying things on Sunday, they aren't going to church because minor reasons, and falling in pecados (sins). It just hurts so much. Every Sunday I feel that I just find another disobedient member. Every time I see it I say something, but they harden their hearts and don't listen.  

Here we have a term its called machete. Machete just means to say the truth. Even if its going to be hard to take. Its like grass. Grass represents our actions and knowledge. When grass grows super tall its ugly see. The lawn is just awful. So you have to get the lawn mower to cut it. But here they don't have lawn mowers they have machetes. So when you machete that represents the scriptures you cut down all the garbage and false doctrine that are in their heads. Sometimes its necessary. But......

This week I have felt a little fed up with this ward so I feel that I have been machete machete ,machete, 24/7. My companion even said that I am the justicia (justice) and he is the humildad (humility). Its true but I have felt bad that I am like that. 

I had an inter cambio or exchanges with Elder Munoz that lives in our house. He is so loving. He loves the people so much. I learned so much from that cambio. Then I realized that I have been macheteing and focusing mas (more) in the castigo de dios (punishment of God) rather than the blessing that we receive when we are obedient to the commandants of God.  

So I want to change this week. I don't want to focus on how bad their lives will be if they don't do things right.  I want this week to focus on how AWESOME their lives will be if they do it right. SO when you said mom that I need to love the people, you are right. I haven't been loving them very much. I have felt like a drill Sargent in drum line. The main message is that the gospel of Christ blesses the families. I am so grateful that I can study and improve.  

I have been trying to focus on my blessing. Really God blesses so much his servants. I got to read Alma 26. Here is a link to this scripture Ammon talks about how bad him and his brothers were in the past. That God spared their lives and didn't judge them. And that God has been merciful unto them. That God has given him that opportunity to repent so that he could have the privilege to bring almas (souls) unto Christ.  I have felt the same way. God has been merciful unto me.  He has spared my life and given me an opportunity to repent of my sins and mistakes so that I can have the privilege to bring almas (souls) unto him. 

This week we had an awesome experience. We were walking with a member and we saw that this little kid had fallen and was crying in front of his house. His mom was on the balcony watching. SO my companion ran over to help. When he did that the husband saw us. He was watching a movie and told us that we should come in. We were like, okay. So we walked in and we started asking questions about his life to get to know him so we can better know his needs. SO he explained that he is Christian and that he loves God and that he has been searching for God for years trying to always do His will. The he finished and told us that he wants to know our stories. So our member, my companion and I told our stories on how we found the church. I really learned a lot about my companion. But then he told us to start teaching because he wants to hear. Only from his body gestures I knew he was super interested. SO we taught the restoration. Principle for principle until we got to the restoracion (restoration). We told him that we would finish the next day because we had to go. But that he needs to read the pamphlet. Then his wife reminded him about his dream. He started right off with telling us his dream. He told us that in his dream it was at night and their were a lot of stars out. He said he looked up and say a book in the sky. Huge book with letter of gold. He said he remembers that he read one word. F E R M O N E S. He asked what that meant. SO our member just thought of something super weird and said that his name is Fernando and we are Mormons. Fernando-Mormons. Fermones. To me I thought it was pushing it, or stretching it a little. But this investigator  was so happy that he had just received the answer. So I butted in and told him that we are Mormon because we believe in the Book of Mormon. I told him that we were going to teach that the next day and that he has to read for the pamphlet. He was so happy. He hugged us and almost started crying when we left. 

The next day he explained to us that he read all of the pamphlet and that he knows its true and this is what he was looking for. He said that the Book of Mormon is the book that he saw in the sky in that dream. He was so happy and it just filled me with joy because we had found someone prepared for us. (direct answers to our prayers.) He told us that we are angels and I told him no, that God is loving that is why he sent us to his house.  

The only thing that is the problem is that he has to get divorce first from his past wife and get remarried. But when he told us that he knows its all true, I had like a mini vision of him in the temple being sealed with his family. Then I saw him has an awesome bishop. God has such a future planned for him and we get to be part of his conversion. Its going to be a long super long process but something that I know is that he is chosen and that we have to do everything possible so that he can be a member. I know he wont progress fast but I know that he needs us. So we told him that we are dedicated to help him until the end. We have been praying a lot so that we can see his baptism. He cried and gave us a hug and praised God for blessing him. That's when I really learned that I have to love more of these people.  

I am so grateful for my family and for this opportunity to grow. I am grateful that I was raised in the Gospel and that my parents did the hard stuff and made the sacrifices so that i could be here serving. I am grateful for my companion Elder Sanchez.

Have an AWESOME week.
Elder Luke

Monday, September 8, 2014

My dad is awesome. awesome. awesome. awesome. Awesome

(To explain a little bit about why Elder Luke wanted to write his dad this week instead of his mom like the Stake President told him to was that his dad raced in a big bike race on Saturday (Logan Utah to Jackson Hole Wyoming).  His dad did really well in the race and Elder Luke is very proud of his dad and his bike racing). 
Hey dad,
I don't even know where to start. You are AWESOME. You are so freaking awesome. awesome awesome awesome. I was really worried this week that something bad would happen. a crash or sickness, or that you wouldn't do very well and would be bummed and then I would be bummed because I love to see that my dad is a stud and that you are progressing in racing. SO I prayed. With prayer we can have the help from God.  If we ask with faith God will provide. This week he has at least answered my prayers. I am so proud to say that you are my dad. I brag about you so much here, because here everyone's dad is old and fat and I just like well my dad is awesome. He is tuco (ripped), and a stud. I cant believe that you took 54th out of 700 people. Not to mention the huge different you had in time from last year. Taking off 40 min from your time last year. That's huge. This year you have been killing it on your bike. Just imagine how much better you'll be next year. Then someday you will race nationals and killing it there. I don't know if that's part of your future. I guess I am super prideful. Which is taught in the scriptures that is bad. But I am because my dad is a one of a kind. You are my dad and you are so freaking awesome. Okay. I am going to calm down a little. Its actually really good to hear how awesome you did because here in Ecuador its been the opposite of your race.

Its been really tuff. Really tuff. This week our numbers were awful. We have been fasting so much. Since the last time I wrote you guys I have fasted three time with my companion. We have been praying so hard to find los escogidos, THE CHOSEN, but we havent found them. We really have two probems. We aren't finding new people that are excepting enough to progress and bring them into the church and the light. The other problem is that this ward has a bunch of menos activos o less actives that really dont want to return to the church. The other part is that this rama (branch) is doing things completely wrong. Like buying the bread on Sunday or playing soccer on sunday. Not just less actives but active members also are doing that. Its been frustrating with that. I feel that we are babysitting the rama.  For me when I see something going down that is wrong I can't except it and let it go on.  I have to end it. Especial when it comes to the church.  Its a church of order and when I see that its not I get a little frustrated. This week has been hard and very tiring.

But dont get me wrong I am happy. I am with my awesome companion and we are always having fun. I love him so much. I am blessed. Mom told me about the game she came up with about gratitud, and it put me thinking.  Its hard here with this sector but I am blessed. I am so blessed. I love the song "Count Your Many Blessing". Sometimes we feel like nothing good is going on. But our eyes are just closed to the the blessing that are right in front of us. I am trying to work hard like you dad. I want to have an awesome race. I am trying. I know that not one ounce of strength is lost. That God will provide. We aren't having exito (success) but I am having exito (success) with my testimony. I am learning and growing so much. I have really been praying a lot. Siempre (always) kneeling before my maker.

Dad I love you so much and I am so proud. Guess what?  You are right. Your wife and my mom is an awesome daughter of God. She really is a pearl. She is a blessing to so many people.

I love you.
Elder Luke

Breaking the rules this week...

Okay, I am sorry to have to do this but I am going to break the rules this time, Mom.  You are awesome.  The best mom in the whole world.  I miss you so much and it warms my heart how awesome you are doing and that you love your calling in Primary. I love hearing the spiritually things you learn from primary. Primary isn't just playing with toys and eating. Its actually learning. You are awesome. But I am going to break the rules and write my awesome dad this week.
I love you mom
Elder Luke
(Well... at least I got a little note this week.)

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

First week in the new sector

Well my first week in my new sector was fun and super tough. Lets start with the biggest problem. My companion Elder Sanchez. The problem is he is freaking awesome. Naw it was a joke. He is really cool. I knew him before and we click really well. We are always goofing off and picking on each other. But we both have an eye of the tiger. We have this vision that with our help this Rama can have a capilla (chapel). We just meet in a crappy house on the side of the street. The cars move by and its so hard to feel the Spirit. There are a lot of stumbling blocks. A LOT. Since we are opening the sector its really hard because we don't know anybody and we don't have investigators. So we talk with everyone. EVERYONE. It gets tiring but its the way to do it. The biggest problem is that nobody is married here. So its hard to find people who will progress. But nobody said that this was going to be easy. Right?
We have been teaching like a boss and just really refining the way we speak and contact and teach. Its really awesome. I really feel like i am growing a lot. The only thing is that people aren't used to greengos here so they don't understand me. It doesn't mean that I am not speaking well its just they aren't focusing. Every time it happens I get a little depressed and then my companion gets frustrated with the person because they really aren't listening. But its all good. Its just time to grow. I really love my companion. This cambio (transfer) is going awesome.
This week we had an awesome experience. We showed up to the house of a menos activo (less active).  We were late and she was mad that we were late. She didn't want to listen to us. She told us that she was going to leave soon. But her brother, buen tuco (good), fuerte (strong), buff, was there. He said he wanted to listen to us. He was being a little annoying about it. But we didn't have anything better to do so we taught him. We started teaching the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We started out good, explaining about prophets, the organization of Christ, the apostacia (apostasy), then we got to the part of Jose Smith. I told him that Joseph was confused and wanted to find the truth. He interrupted and told us that he has felt the same way. So we explained the restoracion (restoration), and everything changed. He was so happy because for all this time he had been searching for the truth and he had found it. We had some members there and they testified of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and it was powerful. He really wanted to read, so we gave him a chapter to read, 3 Nephi 11. Here's the link to the scripture. We told him that he needs to pray to find out the truth from God. So we taught him how to pray and in that moment he prayed with us. We knelt down and gave such an honest prayer. I was just filled with the spirit, a gozo (joy) that this world doesn't know. We left and told him we were going to call him the next day to verify if he had read. So the next day we called and asked him if he read. He said yes. We asked if he prayed, YES. We asked if he knew that the Book of Mormon is true. He said YESSSS. It was so awesome. Then he asked to talk to me and told me that he was super grateful that we had taught him and brought this light into his life. Sunday he wasn't able to go to church because he was in a different part of town. But he looked for a church there and he just didn't find it which sucks but we are going to see him tomorrow and teach him. This week has been good and a little crapish but with with experience with that guy, I rate this week as REALLY AWESOME.
Well that about its.  Our casa all week has been trashed because we didn't have time to clean it but we finally cleaned it and now we feel the spirit a lot stronger.  I live with Elder Muñoz, Elder Quispe, and Elder Snachez. I knew elder Quispe de my first sector and Elder Muñoz is from the same group of Latinos that I arrived here with.
Oh this week my companion and I got to go running on the beach. This city is really calm, it's not a bad place so we didn't have problems with running early in the morning. Actually a lot of people go running there in the morning.
Sabe (know), I love Ecuador, I miss home, I love this work, I love that God loves me and that he loves you too, I love that God loves to test me and try my so that I can grow. Sometime through the tuff times its hard to hold a smile and love the trial, but after we are almost always grateful for that trial because we grow and learn so much; Come what may and Love it.
Elder Luke