December 20, 2010

Posted on 4:44 PM by Elder Messer | 0 comments

Feliz Navidad!(if you don`t know what that means then shame on you). I can`t believe its Christmas time again. I feel like I was just talking to you all from Esmeraldas like a month ago and its already a year later. Christmas season in Ambato is definitely better that Christmas season in Esmeraldas. But everyone says that its not as good as it is in Quito. But hey I’m just glad that I’m not in Esmeraldas this year. Anyway, let me tell you a little bit about my week. I think there were 2 main themes for me this week: Talk with everyone and reprove at times with sharpness. Those might seem like 2 random themes but let me explain….
This week I`ve talked with more people than any other week in my mission. Taxi drivers, knocking doors, helping people in the streets, talking to people in the streets. We have been on a frantic search for new investigators. Let me tell you some of our success stories:
1) Rodrigo Garcia: on Tuesday we were hungry so we stopped at a little store (everyone sells stuff out of their house here) to but some snacks. While we were buying we started talking to the guy that owns the store and long story short we set an appointment to come back on Saturday and share our message with him. When we went back on Saturday we started teaching and about 5 minutes into the lesson inside his store he said “let’s go upstairs so my wife can hear too”. So he took us upstairs to his living room and we kept teaching there. His wife wasn`t feeling good so she didn`t come out. Rodrigo told us that she was pregnant but that the doctors said that there was a good chance that the baby was going to die. We started teaching a little bit about prayer and said a prayer with him to bless his wife and their baby. He told us to come back this week to keep learning more. It was interesting that we arrived right in the moment when their family was going through a big trial like that. The lord prepares people in different ways I guess.
2) Marcelo and Carolina: on Saturday we were late to an appointment so we were walking as fast as we could to get there. We walked by a couple that was sitting on a street curb and after we had walked about 50 yards past my companion stopped and said “I think we should go back and talk to that couple”. I said “I think we should too” so we turned around and went back. We felt kinda weird since we had just passed them and didn`t say anything. When we got to them we presented ourselves and asked if we could share a quick message about families with them. You should have seen how Carolina´s eyes lit up. It was like she had been waiting for us. She turned to Marcelo and said “yes we need to listen” and Marcelo agreed. It turns out that they are getting married in January so we talked about how a family established on the gospel of Jesus Christ is more likely to likely to be happy and have success in such a crazy world. They agreed with everything we taught them and we excited to set up an appointment to teach them in Carolinas house. We have an appointment with them tomorrow.
3) One night this week we left our last appointment at like 9:20 and had to take a taxi to get home on time. We started talking to the taxi driver and long story short he gave us his information to visit him at home (He lives in pelileo so it was a reference for the missionaries there) and when we got home he wouldn’t let us pay him and ended up giving us a free ride.
It was cool to see what could happen when we just opened our mouths. The lord really does but people in our paths. We just have to open our mouths and talk to them.
The zone hasn’t had much success this month so my companion and I were talking about what we could do to help the zone and we decided that we needed to perfect the technique of reproving with love like it says in D&C 121. On Friday in the leader meeting that we have every week with the district leaders we talked about how to reprove with love and did some practices. President Sloan is really good at reproving us with love when he calls us every Monday to see how many baptisms the zone had and how many new families we found. When we don’t have a lot of baptisms all he does is ask us questions like “What happened” or make comments like “maybe your missionaries don’t want to baptize every week” and just by the tone of his voice we feel bad and are motivated to help the zone do better. So we have been trying to apply what he does with us with the missionaries in the zone and our investigators. I tried it with the Suarez family and I think it made an impact. We taught about the Sabbath day and they told us that they couldn`t come to church because they were in charge of organizing a new year’s party in their little town and that Sunday was the only day that they could do it. I thought it was a ridiculous excuse considering their daughter has cancer and they want god to do a miracle for them but they aren`t really to make a small sacrifice for him. I said something like this, “that’s fine with us if you don`t want to come to church but I just want you to think… What are your priorities?... Is God one of them?... what do you want god to do for you in your lives?... and what do you think you have to do so that he can do it?...” Then I assured them that god loved them and wanted to help but he can only help us if we help ourselves. I think it made them think. Theres a lot of people in missionary work the frankly just give stupid excuses and they themselves know that their excuses are stupid. In a way, being a missionary is like parenting. I remember when I use to give stupid excuses and dad would talk sharply to me and then come in a few minutes later and reassure me that he loved me. It was effective on me and it is effective on investigators as well.
My new companion, Elder Pincay, is really cool. His dad is a counselor in the stake presidency in his stake in Guayaquil so he comes from a really solid family. It’s interesting to see the difference in companions when they come from a strong family and when they don`t. It really makes a huge difference. He is the first Ecuadorian companion that I have had so I’ve been learning a ton just from watching how he deals with people since he knows perfectly the culture and everything. It’s definitely an advantage to have a native companion.
Random note: There have been crazy parades all over the place since its Christmas time. It’s a catholic tradition that they have here. They worship the “Niño Divino” (divine child). Its totally idolatry. They walk around carrying a doll of baby Jesus with a band playing music behind. The catholic traditions here are pretty crazy sometimes. And it’s a huge obstacle with some investigators. They don’t understand why they can’t worship a doll in remembrance of Christ’s birth
Well that’s all I have for this week. Merry Christmas to all. I look forward to talking with you guys on Saturday!!!! I love you all!

December 13, 2010

Posted on 9:15 PM by Elder Messer | 0 comments

This week has been good. We were busy like always but it was a lot of fun. On Monday we traveled to Quito and were there until Wednesday night. On Tuesday we had zone leader council. Our zone finished 1st this month in baptisms so they asked us to present what we did to have success. It was weird because I didn’t feel like we did that much at all. We just had a few miracle families that just showed up out of nowhere and got baptized. President Sloan seemed to give us a lot of credit which I didn’t really feel worthy of but oh well. We just told everyone that the key to our success was to focus on the families that the lord had prepared for us. We really didn’t do that much. We just were in the right place at the right time and the missionaries took advantage of what the lord gave them. I think the highlight of zone leader council was singing Christmas songs and eating dinner at president’s house.
On Tuesday we had a special training were my companion and I had to teach about the doctrine of Christ and the missionary purpose. We talked about how if we love our investigators we have to teach them the gospel and invite them to be baptized. Later president Sloan talked about the same thing so all together the missionaries got like 2 hours of training just on that subject. I think its probably the most important subject to understand as a missionary. Later we went to a huge park in Quito to practice talking with everyone. Elder Law and I talked with a few families that were really open to here the gospel and took down their names and addresses so that the missionaries in Quito can visit them. After the park we went to presidents house to eat so I got 2 nights in a row of sister Sloans delicious food. It was quite a treat. Them we sang more Christmas songs and one of the APs even dressed up like Santa and came in with presents for everyone. We all got Bone Ice (ecuadors version of otter pops) and study journals.
The rest of the week was normal work in our sector except for Saturday because we went to pelileo to do divisions with the missionaries their.
Nothing that exciting really happened the rest of the week. Elder Law left yesterday and my new companion should be on his way. His name is Elder Pincay. He’s from Guayaquil. He will be my first native companion. I haven’t met him yet but I’ll tell you a little but more about him next week. That’s all I have for this week. Sorry that my letters have been kinda lame lately. I’m always really rushed because I have to send a bunch of stuff to the offices and president. I love you all!

Posted on 10:18 PM by Elder Messer | 0 comments

November 29, 2010

Posted on 10:08 PM by Elder Messer | 0 comments

Well I guess I´ll start with the most exciting news of this week…. The volcano right next to Ambato decided to get active this week and has been puffing out smoke all week. Don’t worry, I’ll send a picture. I´m not really sure if it’s dangerous. Everyone here seems pretty calm. Apparently it puffs smoke every year at this time. The volcano is called Tungurahua. Look it up if you want.
Other than that this week has been pretty normal. On Thursday we had specialized training where my companion and I had to teach 3 zones-Ambato, Riobamba, El Oriente- about how to plan adequately and how to talk to everyone without fear to find the people that are prepared to receive the restored gospel. It went well I guess. I didn’t even remember it was thanksgiving until the mission nurse mentioned it to me. She came to give flu shots to everyone. We didn’t really do anything to celebrate. We had the zone leaders from the orient and the APs sleeping in our house that night so we just ordered pizza. It was a good thanksgiving I guess…. Even though we didn’t do anything to celebrate it.
Last week we found a family called the Vargas family and we had an appointment to visit them this week. When we showed up one of the daughters came out and told us that her mom was sick and couldn’t attend us. We told her that we would come back another day and left and started knocking doors around the corner. When we were in the middle of a contact the daughter came running around the corner to tell us that her mom did want to see us so we went back. When we walked in we saw here there lying on her bead with bloody toilet paper stuffed up her nose. Apparently she had just started bleeding out of her nose and mouth randomly and the doctor’s didn´t know what to tell her. We taught her about the priesthood and she asked us to give her a blessing so we did. We went back later in the week and she was still having problems but we’ve been praying for her so hopefully she’ll get better soon. It seems like her family and her are really interested in the gospel.
Changes were last week but my companion got changed today for some reason. My new companion is coming from a place in the middle of the Amazon jungle named Tena. His name is Elder Law. He only has 2 weeks left on his mission so I’ll be getting another companion pretty soon. Elder Law is really cool though so I’m excited that he’s gonna be my companion for 2 weeks. He was the mission secretary for 6 months and was studying at BYU before his mission.
On Sunday there was a national Census in Ecuador and no one was allowed to leave their house until 5 PM. All the church meetings in the country were canceled so we didn’t get to take any investigators to church. It was interesting because they had to put military guys with huge guns on all the street corners to make sure that no one left their house. I took a picture of one of them because it was an interesting sight… I had never seen a guy with a big gun on a normal street corner before. It looked like a war zone. Meanwhile all the high school kids went around making everyone do a survey. They asked us a bunch of questions like if we had a private bathroom and if we had a stove and if we could read and where we were from and what languages we spoke and a bunch of other stuff like that. In the states they do a census every 10 years but I think they just do it all through the mail instead of going door to door. They can’t really do that here because a lot of people don’t have addresses and there is no house to house mail system. If you want to send something you have to send it to the bus station and then the person that you are sending it to has to go pick it up. Anyway it was nice to have a break and to be able to take a nap and get caught up on sleep.
Hey mom I have a request for the next package that you send. Could you see if you can find a book with guitar tabs for hymns or other church music? That would be wonderful. Thanks for the package and the pictures that you sent!
I love you all! Until next week!

November 15, 2010

Posted on 9:30 PM by Elder Messer | 0 comments

Hey everyone how’s it going? This week has been pretty good for me. I had a few interesting experiences. Yesterday we were contacting and we ran into a guy that at first seemed golden until we started teaching him a little bit. He knew a ton about the bible and had studied it in Hebrew and was telling us all the interesting stuff that is different when you read the bible in its original language. It was interesting because he was telling me stuff that I had been taught at BYU. He knew a lot of deeper doctrine and at first everything he said agreed with what we believe. But then we started teaching him about the restoration and I told him about the first vision and that we can know if Joseph smith was a prophet by reading the book of Mormon which was his fruit(he had quoted early the scripture that says that false prophets will come but by their fruits we shall know them). After I got down explaining things just started going downhill. He started saying that it wasn`t possible that there could be another book other than the bible and that Joseph smith was obviously not a prophet because no one can see god and not die instantly from his glory (apparently he doesn`t understand the doctrine of transfiguration). Then he started bearing his testimony to us about how his church was church and he had had “real experiences with god”. Then he was like “If you ever want to learn the truth I suggest that you come to my church”. It was interesting because people don’t usually bear there testimonies to us and invite us to “learn the truth”. That’s what WE do. It made me think a lot about how many people there are that are trying really hard but for some reason don’t accept the true gospel. He seemed like he was being sincere and I’m sure that he had really had experiences with god and he had studying a ton and had a lot of truth. He was someone that was convinced of what he was doing and that was trying really hard. He didn`t know what he was rejecting. Of all the people walking through the streets we are the only ones that really have the truth and gods authority but almost nobody realizes it.
This week was kinda rough with the Nata family and Alejandra. We went to their houses everyday but could never teach them and they didn`t come to church this week. Satan is starting to work pretty hard with them… Hopefully we can find them this week and help them to overcome all the opposition so that they can get baptized.
Even without them coming to church this week we had 4 investigators there. It was the Suarez family. They are the reference that we got that lives way out in the middle of nowhere. They came to church this week and afterwards we all went to a member’s house to eat lunch and teach them some more. It turned out to be an interesting experience. We asked them if they had any questions about church and one of the daughters said that she did. In the gospel principles class one of the members had mentioned that god knew that Adam and eve were going to eat the fruit and that everything bad was going to enter into the world. She didn`t understand why god would let so many bad things enter into the world. We tried to explain it but we weren`t getting anywhere. She just didn`t seem to accept any of our answers. She didn`t understand why there was so much suffering in the world. After a while she asked a rather strange question (at least that’s what I thought at the moment). She asked why god would allow that people would have terminal illnesses that made it so they had to live knowing that they were going to die. We ended up finding out that she has cancer and the doctors told her that she won’t live much longer. The whole family was suffering for it and that’s what made them start listening to us because they wanted some time of help and hope. We taught them a little bit about the plan of salvation and the secure feeling that accepting the gospel gives us and about how families can live together forever if they make and keep covenants in the temple. The spirit was there. I testified about how I had lost 2 brothers but that I knew that they were in a better place and that some die I would see them again. We gave hope to a family that had none. The impression that I got during the lesson was that they are a miracle in the making. We have another appointment with them on Tuesday night.
A few weeks ago we asked the Stake President if we could have some sort of special meeting with all the leaders to talk about how to improve missionary work within the stake. He invited us to come to the meeting that he has once a month with all the bishops and branch presidents. So on Sunday night we went and gave a training type thing to all the bishops and stake presidents. I never imagined that as a missionary I would be in a meeting like that teaching bishops and branch presidents. I`m not gonna lie it was a little intimidating. We talked about “The Doctrine of Christ”, Watched a small movie from the preach my gospel dvds, and then talked about the knew families that we have been finding in the zone and how they can help them come unto Christ. We talked about how they can make their executive committee meetings and ward councils more effective and how they should always talk about and make plans and assignments to do 4 things- Finding, teaching, fellowshipping, and reactivating. After we got done talking the stake president got up and supported everything that we had just said. Hopefully it will make an impact. There were some bishops that weren`t even having ward council or executive committee so hopefully they will start,
Today I got a letter that brother McCready sent to me. It was a letter that I had written in primary to myself that was to be sent to me on my mission. It was pretty funny. I gave myself some pretty good advice. I`ll quote some of it for you… “Dear Elder Messer, Congratulations on being called on a mission. I hope you are going somewhere in the USA” (HAHA when I was younger I used to be scared to leave the country) “You are the most handsome guy I have ever seen” (haha....)….. “My Testimony: I believe the church is true. I love my family and I know that they love me too. I know that Gordon B Hinckly is a true prophet.”….”Love, you younger self…….. P.S. If you have a girlfriend then dump her” (haha good thing I don’t have a girlfriend).
Anyway that’s all I`ve got for now. I love you all. Talk to you next week.
P.S. Happy birthday Jason!!!! Like I said last year… I`ll bring you a present from Ecuador in 10 months!

November8, 2010

Posted on 12:00 PM by Elder Messer | 0 comments

Hey everyone. How’s it going. My week was pretty crazy. It was definitely one of the busiest weeks that i`ve had. Last Monday night we traveled to Quito for zone leader council on Tuesday. It was way fun. We analyzed the progress of the mission and all that good stuff. This month we had 184 baptisms which is really good. We were one of the best missions in the area. We got to play soccer as well so that was really fun and they gave us delicious American food. We also had a doctrine class that was really good were we talked about faith with works. On Tuesday night we stayed in quito because on Wednesday we had “leader meeting”. That was good too and they gave us more delicious food. Then we had to stay another night in quito because on Thursday I had to go renew my Censo(Its like my ID while i`m here). We did that in the morning and then traveled back to Ambato in the afternoon. We got here and had to leave right away to go do baptismal interviews in a little town called chiquicha… and let me tell you that was an adventure. Chiquicha is a TINY farming community in the middle of nowhere. Just getting there was an adventure. First we took a 40 minute bus ride to Pelileo. There are no buses or any public transportation that go to chiquicha so we had to hitch a ride in the back of a truck for 50 cents each. The road up to chiquicha is super narrow and sketchy (We ran over a dog at full speed on the way back L)but the scenery was amazing. We could see like 2 volcanoes and were looking down into the valley where pelileo and baños are. The family that we went to interview is a miracle family. They are straight up indigenous people. The speak quichua but luckily that speak Spanish as well so we were able to do the interview. They gave us fried chicken feet while we were there too. It was surprisingly good. Anyway, about a month ago their son died and they weren`t satisfied with the answers that the catholic church gave so they talked to some people that they knew that are members and showed up at church. They family has like 20 people and the branch in pelileo is super small so when they showed up to church the first time the size of the branch almost doubled. The missionaries started teaching them and they found the answers that they were looking for. 6 of them got baptized this week and the rest are planning to get baptized in the upcoming weeks. And everyone in chiquicha knows their story because it’s such a small town and everyone wants the missionaries to teach them. When I was up there doing interviews a bunch of people just contacted us and asked us to visit them and teach them. The family that had their son die is like the founding family up there so everyone knows them and respects them. It’s basically a golden town of indigenous people in the middle of nowhere in the Andes mountains. One of the kids asked me to baptize him so I got to be part of the baptism.
As far as my sector goes… we’re making progress. We had 3 people in church this week. The Nata family came again and they have a baptismal goal for the 20th. They still have a lot of doubts and obstacles with their friends and family but hopefully we can overcome it all so that they can get baptized. It would be a miracle to baptize a family after this sector has had so many problems in the last year.
On Sunday night a member told us that they had a reference for us so they took us out to their friends that live in the middle of nowhere on a farm and we taught them and have another appointment with them on Tuesday. I`m not gonna lie… I really enjoy going to all these places that are in the middle of nowhere. It always feels like an adventure and the scenery is always amazing. That’s probably my favorite part about this zone. Anyway that’s all I have for this week. I love you all! Lindsey I hope you enjoyed your first week in the field. Tell us all about it!!!! Oh and random story. Yesterday in the bus I was talking with an elder that likes football and he randomly mentioned that the coach of the eagles is mormon and I was like “I know. His daughter was my sisters companion in the mtc” haha.
P.S. its indigenous culture to not smile in pictures. i promise they were happy haha.

November 1, 2010

Posted on 3:59 PM by Elder Messer | 0 comments

Hey everyone. Let me tell you a Little bit about my week. On Monday and Tuesday I was in a little town called pelileo. I was on divisions with on of the district leaders- Elder Caskey. He’s a stud. He is from Arizona and was a forest fire fighter before his mission. It was an adventure to be in his sector because he`s only been there for like 3 weeks and his companion only 2 weeks and it’s a huge sector so its easy to get lost and really hard to find where your going. It includes a bunch of small villages with a bunch of farms. And its right next to baños so its really pretty as well. He had some references that he needed to contact in a little village called Patate. But no one out there has phones or addresses so all we had were names and that they lived in patate. We found the bus that went to patate but when we got there we didn`t have any luck. No body knew any of the names we had. So we just decided to contact. It turns out that Patate is like ridiculously catholic so we ran into some people that weren’t very happy to see us. One lady literally started screaming at us and after screaming just walked away and left the door open. I just said “It was nice to meet you” and we walked away. The best part about my division with elder caskey was that he has an oven in his house so we made peach cobbler before we went to bed. We didn`t have a recipe so we just kinda winged it but it actually turned out pretty good. On Thursday and Friday I was on divisions with Elder Garcia. He’s from Nicaragua. His sector is downtown Ambato so it was a lot different that pelileo. I did a couple of baptismal interviews while I was there as well.
This weekend and today and tomorrow are holidays in Ecuador. Its “Day of the dead”. To celebrate everyone makes this weird drink that they call “colada morada” . It’s this thick purple drink with pineapple and leafs inside. I don’t really like it but I’ve had to drink it a ton. Everyone is like “oh your not from here so you have to try colada morada” no one realizes that we visit like 8 families every day and that everyone else has said the same thing and given us the same drink. It’s been pretty rough to have to drink nasty purple goop so much but I guess that’s part of the sacrifice I have to make as a missionary to not offend people.
This week we broke a record since I’ve been here. We had 4 people at church, a family of 3 and another person. Its not really that big of an accomplishment but considering that the last 2 weeks we had nobody I feel like we accomplished something.
This week we wont be in our sector at all. We’re leaving for Quito right now because we have zone leader council and leaders meeting on Monday and Tuesday and then on Thursday I have to renew my censo to be in Ecuador and then when we get back we`re going straight to pelileo to get started with doing baptismal interviews for a family of 13. This month in Ambato we broke a record with 16 baptisms. The old record was 12. So if this family of 13 gets baptized and a few other people we could break our record again.
Anyway that’s all I have for this week. Thanks for everything! I love you!

October 26, 2010

Posted on 9:55 PM by Elder Messer | 0 comments

Hey everyone. I dont have much time so this might be kinda short but here it goes. This week went alright. On Tuesday we went to quito and spent the night there because on Monday morning I had to be in the mission offices bright and early to renew my visa. I have to go back to quito again really soon to renew my censo. Its basically my ID while i`m here and it expires on November 2nd so I have to renew it. The work was pretty slow this week just like last week. WE didn`t have any investigators in church for the 2nd week in a row so that was kinda rough. The longer i`m here the more I find out about the sector and the ward and all the challenges that we have. We definitely need to work as hard as we can to get things up and going good. Its kinda hard though because we have to do so much stuff to help the zone and we`re in meetings a lot so we don’t have much time to spend in our sector. But I figure that if I could have success in my ward in Esmeraldas then I can do the same here.
On Sunday we had ward council and it was an interesting experience to say the least. In the opening prayer the relief society president asked for help to avoid contention. I didn`t understand why she would ask for something like that at first but in about 15 minutes I understood. The primary president was complaining about having too many kids and ordering the bishop to do something about it and the elders quorum president said that he was no good for the job and asked the bishop to find someone else. The poor bishop is only 23 and has only been a member for like 6 years. Hes a great guy but I feel bad for him because he has a huge load on his shoulders. This poor ward has a ton of problems.
On Saturday we had a ward talent show to try and build ward unity and so that people could invite their friends. It turned out pretty good. The missionaries ended up doing like 5 acts. We just did a bunch of skits. It
actually turned out pretty good.
Today we went to baños and rented bikes and rod them to a huge waterfall. It was pretty fun. We rode downhill the whole way on the highway so we got going pretty fast. It was the first time I had ridden a bike in a while so it felt good. The waterfall was really cool. It had a cave that you could climb through to go behind the waterfall. I got some pretty good pictures. I don’t have time to send them right no so i`ll just send them next week.
Lindsey`s letter totally fooled me. On Thursday we went to send some stuff to the offices and when I opened my email I saw that I had a letter from her. I didn`t have much time so I just opened it real quick and only managed to read the first paragraph and then I closed it and the whole week I was thinking that she was going Spanish speaking. I was kinda excited but then I found out it was a joke haha.
Anyway, that’s all i`ve got for now. I hope you all have a good week! I love you all.

October 19, 2010

Posted on 8:25 PM by Elder Messer | 0 comments

Well this week has gone by rather slow. My new sector is probably the hardest sector that I’ve had so far. I thought it couldn’t get worse than Esmeraldas but I think I might have been wrong. Let me explain the situation. About a year ago the ward was strong and flourishing. There were over 100 people that went to church every Sunday. Everything was going good until they caught the bishop stealing tithing money. The bishop got ex communicated or dis-fellowshiped or something but over half the ward went inactive. At church on Sunday we filled up about 4 rows of people. I counted 39 people. The bishop is only 22 because there is no one else to be bishop so he has a huge load on his shoulders. He didn’t go on a mission so he doesn’t have all that much experience in the church but he’s learning fast. I admire him for it. This Sunday he set apart a girl as a young woman. I’ve never seen that done before but that’s the kind of stuff that happens when you have an inexperienced bishop. We’re definitely going to try and help him a lot! As far as missionary work goes…. There has been one baptism in the last year which is almost unheard of in this part of the world. That’s mostly because of what happened with the missionaries that used to be here. Shortly after everything happened with the bishop the 2 missionaries that were here got sent home for doing some pretty serious things. I’ve heard stories but I won’t tell you the rumors that I’ve heard. But anyway, I’m pretty sure that the members that were still active lost all trust in the missionaries. I imagine that the missionaries since then have been trying to do things on their own and have probably had some success but that the investigators that do manage to progress get scared away when they hear about the bishop robbing tithing money. We have a few investigators but only one that has been to church. This Sunday was the first time in my whole mission that there were no investigators at church. I didn’t think that was possible here. Anyway, it’s a pretty rough situation. But I’m looking forward to the challenge. The rest of the zone is doing great. We already broke the old record for baptisms in a month and a planning to have like 6 more this week, which would bring us to a total of 19, which is phenomenal. The soccer here is a lot better as well. In my last zone almost nobody knew how to play but here almost everyone knows how to play. There is a new missionary that just got to Ecuador that played on the BYU Hawaii team before is mission so now I’m not the only gringo that knows how to play.

The government changed the visa requirements in Ecuador so I have to go to Quito this week to take a new picture and get it all worked out. I don’t think there will be a problem getting my visa renewed but it has crossed my mind that something could happen and I could get set to the states to finish my mission. I’m pretty sure that’s super unlikely though. But I am excited to go back to Quito this week and eat pap johns again.

Next Monday we’re planning a trip to banes. We’re going to rent bikes and take a trail that takes us to a sweet waterfall. My companion has already been and showed me some pictures and it looks way cool! Last week I went to baños but it was already dark so I didn’t get to see any of the pretty scenery but I’ve seen pictures and it’s gorgeous. Look it up on the Internet. Just go to Google and type in “Banes Ecuador” and you can see for yourselves. I’ll make sure and send some pictures next week though. Well that’s all I have for this week. Once again, I’m sorry for not writing back to people very quickly. Please be patient with me. Or write me more to make me feel bad for not writing back. That works. Seriously. I’ll do my best though. Anyway, I love you all. Thanks for all your support and letters!!!

October 11, 2010

Posted on 1:57 PM by Elder Messer | 0 comments

Hey everyone. I don’t have much time to write so this might be kinda short. This week was crazy busy and we almost didn`t get anything done. There were emergency changes on Monday so we had to organize it all and go pick missionaries up and whatnot. Then on Tuesday it was zone leader councel so we were at that all day. It was way sweet though. We analyzed our progress as a mission and basically we have been seeing miracles in the mission lately. We used to be one of the worst missions in the area and no we are one of the bests. My zone finished 4th out of 15 zones with respect to baptisms so that was good. The we had papa johns for lunch which was amazing and then we went back and analyzed some more and talked about the things that we can do to improve as a mission. Then we had a break to play soccer which was really fun. Its cool to be in a south American country where everyone actually plays decently. We formed a dream team and beat everyone. It was a needed break since we had been sitting in a meeting for like 7 hours. Then we went to presidents house and had a home cooked American dinner made by sister Sloan. She made funeral potatoes and bbq chicken. It was like a little piece of the states. Then we had a doctrine class by president sloan where he talked about our missionary purpose. It was a really good day. On Wednesday I was on divisions with Elder Anderson from Utah. It went well and we actually got a full days work in. on Thursday we had special training and interviews with president. My companion and I had to teach the missionaries about talking with everyone and how to start teaching someone for the first time. Then I had an interesting interview with president. The first things he said was “well elder your not gonna be in your zone for much longer. Have you every heard of Chimborazo”…. “no I haven`t president”…. “well you`ll have a chance to go there pretty soon”. It went something like that. He basically told me that I was gonna be changed on Monday.

On Saturday we had a baptism. His name is Patricio. Hes 15. His mom was already a member that just go reactivated. We`ve been teaching Patricio ever since I got there. The baptism went well so we were excited about that. The asistente called on Sunday and gave me my official change. I`m now in Ambato and my new companion is elder Coc. Hes from Guatemala and seems really cool. He was telling me a little bit about our sector. Our ward had its first baptism in a year on Saturday. Its been struggling a lot! He said that only like 40 people go every week. Ambato is a cool place. It’s a lot smaller than quito so it doesn`t have as many restaurants or American things. Its just has kfc. It feels like a “small town life style here” even though its not that small. Its really pretty. I have to go right now because we have to go to a place called baños to help some new sister missionaries find their house. Apparently baños is like the prettiest place on earth and is full of waterfalls and natural wonders. I`m excited to go see what its like. Its like an hour away. My new zone is huge so I think i`ll be traveling a lot here. It includes baños, latacunga, pelileo, and Ambato. Anyway i`ve got to go. I`ll tell you all more next week! Love you all!

October 4 2010

Posted on 7:25 PM by Elder Messer | 0 comments

This week was pretty crazy and full of surprises. Tuesday was normal. I did divisions so I got to go to another sector and work with another elder named elder Hilden. Wednesday was normal as well. But starting Thursday things started to get crazy. On Thursday morning we did our weekly planning and then when to the mall to eat since we don’t have a mamita on Thursday and the mall is right next to where we have district meeting. When we walked in the mall we noticed that there was only one entrance open in the whole place and that probably around half of the stores were closed. We went into Rusty’s(our favorite restaurant) and noticed that it was empty and that instead of showing espn on the tv it was showing the news. We didn’t think much of it and started eating our food like we always do. Then the APs called us and told us that we had to go to district meeting and tell everyone that they had to go home and spend the day in there house and that they had to call us Friday in the morning for further instructions. Later we found out what was going on. It turns out that there’s an ex president named lucio that got forcibly taken out of his presidency by the people a few years back who is really bitter and hates the new president that Ecuador has. He used to be in a very high position in the army so he has a lot of connection with them and knows how the whole public defense system works. Recently the government passed a few laws, one of which will affect the way in that the police are paid. Lucio used it to his advantage and got the army and the police all riled up against the government. The president just had surgery on his leg so he was in the hospital. The police rebelled against the government and broke in through the roof of the hospital and took the president hostage and were threatening to kill him if he didn’t resign or change the law that he had passed or something like that. The army was on the rebel side as well but apparently someone from the government went and promised them certain things if they would help save the president and fight off the police. So after a while the army showed up at the hospital were the president was being held captive and they got in a huge gun fight with the police. The news was there so all of Ecuador was basically watching a live civil war on tv. Like they would see people die and everything. Everyone that we’ve talked to was watching it. At first the police were winning because they had better weapons and the high ground because they were in the huge hospital shooting out the windows and everything and the army was just trying to enter in and didn’t really have any cover.

Meanwhile, there were no police in the whole country because they were all on rebellion so the country went into a state of chaos and the thieves went crazy. 4 banks got robbed Thursday morning and a bunch of other stores. Needless to say it wasn’t safe to be outside so that’s why they told us all to go home until further notice.

Eventually the army broke in a saved the president and then the president declared himself dictator for 5 days to get everything cleared up. He started making a bunch of weird rules like people aren’t allowed to be in big groups. The police are back to work now but have lost a lot of the publics trust and everyone thinks that they are planning something bigger and will try again
As a result of all this… our baptism that we had planned for this week fell through because we weren’t allowed out of the house on Friday when he was gonna get baptized, we didn’t get to see priesthood session of conference because we weren’t allowed to stay out after 6, and we haven’t been able to visit most of our investigators because they are all home at night time. I think we’ll be playing catch up this week so hopefully all goes well and we can get back to a normal schedule. Oh and our pday activity to go to Cotopaxi (one of the biggest volcanoes in the world) got canceled.

If you want to know more about what happened you can look it up. I’m not sure if everything I said is 100% correct. Its just what I’ve heard from all the people. Luckily I’m in a richer suburb area of Quito so it was pretty calm here. Some of the elders that were closer to the action in Quito called us and told us it was crazy. They said that people were starting fires all over the place and that ambulances were driving by at full speed every second. Anyway, that’s all I have for this week. I hope everyone enjoyed conference! I love you! I’ll talk to you next week!

September 27, 2010

Posted on 6:34 PM by Elder Messer | 0 comments

Hey everyone. This week has gone well. Our zone finished the month with 15 baptisms which is pretty good. The record is 17 so we`re hoping to break it in October. The mission set a new record this weekend with 83 baptisms in one weekend so that was exiting. We had 8 of them in our zone.

Elder Archundia and I had some interesting experiences this week. Last week we called a reference that we had received from some other missionaries. They told us that the guy came up to them on a bus and asked for a book of mormon so they gave him one and took down his address and phone number. So last week we called him and set up an appointment. The appointment was this Tuesday and 10 am so we left early to get there on time and everything. He had just told us that he lives in an apartment complex called “puerta del sol” but when we got to where we thought it was we realized that there are like 10 apartment complexes called “puerta del sol” all right next to each other. We were kinda lost but at about 10:10 Marcelo(that’s the guys name) came out and found us because apparently he had been waiting for us and figured that we must have got lost. He took us to his house. The first thing I noticed when we walked in was that he had a huge book shelf full of all sorts of books and some astronomy posters on his wall with pictures of galaxies and universes. And his book of mormon was sitting right there on his table. It turns out that this guy is super smart and reads all sorts of history books and has even written one. Anyway, we sat down and started talking and he told us that he had already started reading the book of mormon and had read the introduction and the first 18 chapters of 1st nephi. Then he started asking us a whole bunch of questions about the historical context of the book of mormon and about somethings that he had read. He even started talking about 1st nephi chapter 13 when nephi talks about “the great and abominable church” and started going of about how he thinks it must be the catholic church because of all the stuff that happened in the dark ages. I don`t think i`ve ever had an investigator that understood what they read from the book of mormon as well as he did. He told us that he thought the Book of Mormon was true and that it made sense that Christ would come to the Americas. We asked him what made him so interested in the Book of mormon when he first saw the missionaries and he started telling us his life story. It was kinda long so I’ll paraphrase it. When he was younger(hes like 53 now) he lived a crazy life and did a lot of stupid things and eventually ended up in the hospital. He never believed in Christ but after all the he had been through he started having desires to believe in Christ. He had desires to fix his life and basically to apply the atonement in his life. But he said it was a really hard concept for him to accept because he had never believed in Christ and just couldn`t bring himself so believe. Someone had given him a book of mormon and so he started reading a little bit. One night when he was sleeping he had the same dream that Lehi had about the tree of life and he said that half way through his dream he woke up but his dream didn`t stop. After that he started believing in Christ. He lent his book of mormon to a friend and never got it back. Years later he was walking through a huge park here in quito and heard someone playing a guitar. He turned around and saw someone on a tree stump playing guitar and said that it was the most beautiful music that he has ever heard so he went to listen to him. When he finished playing Marcelo applauded him and asked him what his name was but the guitarist replied that he couldn`t tell him his name because he wouldn`t understand it. Anyway, long story short… He ended up running into this mysterious guitarist guy in various occasions and every time he saw him it was like something surreal was happening. The last time that he ran into him he asked him again who he was and he said that he couldn`t tell him but told him the he needed to read a book called “The book of Urantia”. Marcelo asked who wrote it and he said that it was written by angels. At this point in the story Marcelo proceeded to stand up and pull and book down from his massive book shelf. It was “the book of urantia” and told us to read the first page. It was kinda weird and said that the book caontained things that couldn`t be explained in any human laungauge but that they had tried to write them in the most understandable way possible. In the table of context I saw that it had a lot of things that talked about melquisedek and Abraham and Jesus. I`m still not exactly sure how everything fits together but something about his dream, the mysterious guitarist guy, and the “book of urantia” is what made him interested in the book of mormon . It was kinda weird because the whole situation was pretty bizarre but he seamed like a really intelligent person. Normally if someone started telling me this I would think that they were crazy but he seamed like a normal person. Anyway, He came to church with his son this Sunday and we have an appointment with him on Thursday so it will be interesting to see what happens. He already believes in the book of mormon so all we have to do now is help him see that if the book of mormon is true then everything is true and he needs to be baptized. I bet he`ll have a ton of questions though so we`ll have to explain things really well and in depth. Stay tuned until next time to see what happens… haha. If you have a few minutes maybe someone can look up “the book of uratia”. I`m kinda interested to see what is in that book that has anything to do with him being so open to the church and the book of mormom…. Or maybe it has nothing to do with it and he is just really crazy… haha…. It was an interesting experience to say the least.

Another interesting thing that happened to us this week was that on Saturday morning some jehovas witnesses rang our doorbell. We have like an intercom thing in our house so when someone rings the doorbell we just answer the phone and talk to them through the intercom. The started contacting us and asked if we could come down so that they could give us a magazine. We said yes and grabbed a liahona to give to them and went down. When we opened the door it was pretty funny to see how fast their expression changed when they saw that we were mormon missionaries. We traded magazines with them and both agreed to read.

Well i`m running out of time so i`ll have to finish here. I love you guys! I`ll talk to you next week.

September 20, 2010

Posted on 6:06 PM by Elder Messer | 0 comments

Let me tell you a little but about my week. Last money we were playing soccer at one of the churches because the have a grass field and we accidentally kicked the ball over the fence into some guys yard. It landed in his tree and did no damage whatsoever but for some reason he got super pissed off and wouldn’t give us the ball back. We went over and we super nice and offered to wash his dogs or do some type of service as a form to say that we were sorry but he didn’t want any of it and refused to give our ball back. It was my companions ball and it costs like 50 bucks which is a ton here so my companion really wanted it back. We called the police and asked for help and they came and talked to the guy and told him to give the ball back and that we weren`t gonna play there anymore but he still didn’t want to give it back. He finally agreed to give it back to us on Wednesday so we had to go back on Wednesday night and get it. He was still really mad but at least he gave it to us. Long story short, we have to find somewhere else to play soccer on pday

This week Elder Archundia and I did divisions with 2 companionships. On Tuesday I was with a new elder named Elder Anderson. He just got to Ecuador 3 weeks ago so he is brand new and doesn`t speak much Spanish. On Wednesday I went to a place called San Golqui with Elder Vasquez(one of the district leaders. His sector is really big and has a lot of areas that are out in the middle of nowhere. We went to a few places with some farms and got lost a few times walking through big forests/rivers/fields. The scenery was really pretty though so that was good. We went to one appointment with a new investigator and taught about the restoration and gave him a baptismal challenge for the 9th of October. When we asked him if he wanted to be baptized he said that he did and couldn’t wait because he new everything that we had taught him was true because he had felt the spirit. It was a cool experience and proof that there are some people out there that are just prepared. We just have to find them.

I met a returned missionary this week that just got back from Guayaquil south that served for 8 months on the Galapagos Islands. He gave us a reference of his sister and her family so we are going to contact them this week and see what happens. He said they were really interested.

This week we had a “capacitacion especializada”(special training) with president and it was really good. He told us a story about how when his kids were younger he had a weed garden in his yard just so that his kids could pick weeds and learn how to work. It reminded me about how dad always use to tell me that when I mowed the lawn that he didn’t care as much about the grass being short as he did that I learned to work. Being in Ecuador has really opened my eyes about the difference that good parents can make in the lives of their kids. I’ve realized that there is a reason that Ecuador is poorer that the United States. It’s because not many people teach their kids good principles and manners or how to work and as a result the culture us really rude and Lazy which makes it hard for people to make money and be successful.

This week we had a new family come to church. We met them last Sunday and only taught them 2 principles: God is our loving heavenly father and baptism, and we gave them a baptismal challenge for the 9th of October and they accepted and came to church this week and are really excited. It’s a pretty young couple with 2 kids. A 6 year old boy and a 5 year old girl. Their kids are really cute and are always really excited when we go to teach them. The only problem is that they aren’t married. We are gonna teach the law of chastity this week and take a the 2nd councilor of the bishop ric and his wife because they weren’t married before they got baptized so they have really strong testimonies of the blessings of being married. If all goes well they will accept a date to get married and will be on track to be baptized the 9th of October.

We might have a baptism or 2 this week. We have a couple people with dates for this Saturday so were gonna set an appointment for their baptismal interviews and hopefully they accept. I’m pretty sure they will try and say that its too soon or something like that but we’re gonna do all that we can and we’ll see what happens.

That’s it for this week. Thanks for everything. I love you all!

September 13, 2010

Posted on 1:22 PM by Elder Messer | 0 comments

This week was definitely one of the better weeks of my mission. On Tuesday we had a meeting called “consejo de lideres de zona”(zone leader council) and it was really good. All the zone leaders came to quito from all parts of the mission. The zone leaders from Ambato and Esmeraldas came and slept in our house. It was fun to talk about Esmeraldas and all the crazy things that happen there. And there were 6 of us so we ordered pizza. Papa johns delivers to our house here. Its pretty sweet. The meeting was really cool as well. We all decided that it was time to raise the goals in the mission. The old goal was 4 baptisms a month for every companionship and now we set a new goal of 2 baptisms every week. Its gonna be really hard but I think its important to set high goals. When the goal was 2 per month the average companionship baptized 1 a month. 10 months after it got raised to 4 a month the average companionship was baptizing 2 a month and now its at 2 a week so I think in a while the average companionship will be baptizing 3 or 4 a month. After the meeting president took us all to a bowling ally that they had rented out just for us and we got to go bowling and play ping pong and pool for like 3 hours. They also brought us really good food from a really fancy restaurant here. It was our reward for getting 200 baptisms in august. I felt kind of bad because everyone else in the zone was hard at work but I definitely don’t have any complaints. It was the most fun i`ve had since i`ve been on my mission. There are 3 other elders from my mtc district that are zone leaders so It was way fun to get to catch up with them and just hang out for 3 hours. Hopefully we get a lot of baptisms this month so we can have another reward like that haha. I think it also helped that president sloans son chad got home from his mission in spain that same day so president was in a good mood to let us have fun like that. The next day was the “Reunion de lideres” (Leader meeting) with all the leaders in the mission (District leaders as well).

Chad was at that meeting with us cool but kinda weird at the same time. Hes my age. He left when he was 18 because his dad is a mission president so it was kinda weird to see someone that was my age that was already done with their mission. Hes starting a BYU this week as well so that made my kinda jealous. I was talking to him for a bit afterwards while we were waiting for everyone to go home. He met one of my friends from byu (Gabby) while he was in spain. She was doing a study abroad thing and ending up in the ward while he was serving and would go to the English classes that he taught. And apparently she ended up dating his companion when he got home or something like that. The mormon world is really small. After all the meetings we went on divisions with the Elders that were staying in our house so that we could cover more ground and visit more people. I went with Elder Mata. He was one of my first zone leaders in Esmeraldas and one of my good friends in the mission. Hes from costa rica and speaks perfect English. But anyways, we went to visit the Itaz family and left at like 9 :15 to get back to the house at 9:30. I`m still new here so I didn`t know that buses stop coming at 9. We were like 5+ miles from the house and there were no buses coming and we didn`t know what to do. But apparently the lord was looking after us because after about 10 minutes of standing on the side of the freeway waiting for a bus a car whizzed by and slammed on the breaks and proceeded to back up (on the freeway). At first I was kinda scared because I didn`t know who it was but it turned out to be a bishop from Taylorsville Utah that was visiting family in Ecuador and he offered to take us home. It was a really random experience that couldn`t have happened at a better time.

On Thursday morning at about 10 am the 1st counselor in the bishop ric called me at told me that I had to give a 20 minute talk on Sunday about humility. It was kinda last minute and its not like I have a ton of time to sit down and prepare a talk. I only had personal study on Friday and Saturday. And on Friday I had to prepare to give a lesson to the zone on how to use the book of Mormon in the conversion of their investigators so I basically only had an hour on Saturday to prepare. An hour definitely wasn`t sufficient so I basically just ended up winging it on Sunday. But its cool being a missionary because the spirit always helps us out so everything went smoothly and I ended up having to cut myself off because I had too much to say and 20 minutes wasn`t enough. Its cool to think that I can just get up and give a 20 minute talk in another language without any problem. The spirit is awesome.

On Saturday the Itaz family got baptized. It went pretty smooth and there wasn`t really any huge opposition other than the fact that It was raining super hard and the family almost started sliding and almost crashed on the way to the baptism. The commented to us that they were having a lot of doubts on Saturday morning and almost didn`t get baptized but were able to overcome there doubts and decided to go through with it. They were really happy afterwards and already gave us a reference of their neighbors. We taught them once and they already accepted a baptismal date so all is well.

Well that’s all I have for this week. Until next week! I love you all!

September 6, 2010

Posted on 12:22 PM by Elder Messer | 0 comments

Alright let me tell you a Little bit about my week and my new sector. I’m in “los Chillos”. Its kinda like a suburb of Quito. There are a lot of people here that have more money than most of the people in my old sector. There are a lot of really big houses and things aren’t as crowded and packed together. There are some houses that look like they would fit in perfectly in The US. My sector runs along the main freeway so all day every day we are walking on the side of the freeway with cars speeding by. We definitely walk a lot more here than in my old sector. This week it rained everyday so we got splashed all day as the cars drove by. I used my umbrella to try and block the water that got thrown at me but it didn’t always work that well and my umbrella got pretty trashed. There is a mall here that is way better than the mall in my old sector. They have a couple of good restaurants. Today we ate at a place called rustys. They sell huge burgers there and it is the only place in Ecuador that sells curly fries and root beer. But the root beet is super expensive. Its like 2,50 per cup. I also so a TGIFridays in the mall so i`m pretty sure that i`ll end up spending a lot of money there in the future. The ward I’m in is really solid. It just got made into a ward from a branch like a couple of months ago and the stake is new as well. It used to be a district. The bishop in my ward is way cool. He served his mission in Quito 6 years ago and was AP for 6 months. We eat lunch at his house on Saturday and Sunday and his wife washing our cloths for free. I took her my cloths and when she gave them back to me she told me that a few of my socks were missing because they had holes and she was going to saw them. They take really good care of the missionaries here.

This sector is probably the best sector that I’ve come to so far in in terms of the work. We’re teaching a family named the Itas family and they are going to get baptized this Saturday. They already passed their interviews and everything. I’m sure that opposition will come full force this week but we’re ready for it. Stay tuned to see what happens this time. We also have another baptism in 2 weeks. It’s a lady named sister llumiquinga. He 2 daughters got baptized last months and now she is progressing and wants to get baptized. She also had her interview this week but had a problem with question 4 so she has to have an interview with president Sloan or one of his counselors. So hopefully everything works out and she can get baptized in 2 weeks. We are also teaching a lot of other families and people. There are tons of investigators in this sector. Enough to last us for at least 3 months. We’re also teaching a young guy named Howard from Colombia as well. He has been to church twice already so this week I think we’re gonna give him a baptismal challenge. His girlfriend is a member that lives on the coast and Howard is a reference from her.
There’s a new elder that just got her that is in our zone named elder Cedeño. He got baptized 5 years ago and is the only member in his family. He’s 25 and was studying to be a doctor and has one year left but left it to come on a mission. He also speaks perfect English. He gives me a lot of hope that someday my converts will turn into something great and become future missionaries and/leaders in the church her in Ecuador.

At church on Sunday the priests challenged us to a soccer game so we played against them today. We won of course. I’m really happy that president Sloan gave us permission to play. It makes pdays a lot funner. Well that’s all I have for this week. If you have any questions for me let me know in your emails but highlight them in red or something so that I remember to answer them. I love you all. Until next week!

August 23 & 30, 2010

Posted on 1:19 PM by Elder Messer | 0 comments

August 30, 2010

Hey everyone. Let me tell you a little bit about my week. I guess i`ll start with the biggest news…. I got changed. I`m still in quito but more to the northeast than where I was at before. My zone is called “Los Chillos”. I`m a zone leader now. My companion is named Elder Archundia and he his also from mexico which is good because that means I will get to keep eating a lot of Mexican food. Elder Archundia was my zone leader for like a month in Esmeraldas and has 5 months left in his mission. Hes a cool guy so i`m excited that hes my companion. This change was kinda interesting because I knew that where I was going 2 days early. On Friday, one of the elders from my MTC district called me and said “Hey elder messer, I have some news for you” and proceeded to tell me that he new what the changes were gonna be and that I was coming to his zone. Then on Sunday it was stake conference so president sloan came and spoke. Afterwards he came up to shake my hand and said “Elder messer, I hate to take you out of the zone but I need your leadership. I`ve got a special calling for you. You`ll find out later tonight.” So that basically confirmed all the rumors that I had heard. I`m glad that i`m still in quito so that I can keep enjoying all the wonderful food and whatnot. Apparently theres a restaurant in my new zone called Rustys that is super good. Rumor has it that they sell curly fries there….. I have a feeling that i`ll be eating there a lot.

The bad news of this week was that I got super sick. I think I ate something that gave me some type of bacterial infection in my stomach or something like that. The nurse has me on antibiotics and i`m feeling a lot better now. But I haven`t eaten anything but Gatorade and ritz crackers in the last 4 days so i`m still kinda hungry and week. Anything I would eat would just come back out. I did manage to eat a chicken sandwich from mcdonalds today and and still doing pretty good so that’s a good sign.

So we went to the offices today and a sister was there that was about to go home that was in my old sector in Esmeraldas. She gave me some good news and some bad news. Apparently the ulloa taipe family is having some big problems. Their daughter ran away from the house with her boyfriend again and the husband and wife are fighting because they both think it’s the other persons fault and apparently the husband moved out. I`m kinda worried about them but this happened before and they were able to solve their differences so I still have hope. I`m gonna give them a call later and see if I can help them a bit. The good news is that Harlington(one of my converts) and his neighbor (who I also taught) are the ones that bless the sacrament every week which is huge because when I was there there wasn`t anyone to bless the sacrament so the missionaries had to do it every week. And apparently they have formed there own little missionary group and go knock doors and try and share the gospel with everyone. Also, jordy is still active even though he has no support from his family and apparently he brings his friend to church every week. Rocio Martinez is active as well which was really good to hear because had gone inactive when I left but apparently she came back and goes to church every week now. Speaking of converts….. 2 weeks ago Ronald went to the temple and did baptisms for the dead. He`s only 13 but hes one of the strongest converts that I have. He has no support from his family but he is in church every week passing the sacrament and is at every young mens activity. And all the young women want him… Hes basically a stud!

I don’t know anything about my new sector but apparently we have a golden family that is gonna get baptized this month and a few other golden investigaters. I`m looking forward to meeting everyone this week and seeing what I have to work with.

Well that’s all I have for this week. Hasta luego!

August 23, 2010
This week has gone well for Elder Resendiz and I. We`ve been working hard all week to find new investigators to teach and were able to come up with 8 new people. I think thats the most that i`ve gotten in one week since i`ve been in Quito. Before I think my record was 4. In esmeraldas we got 18 one week but that really isn`t that hard in Esmeraldas. We knocked a lot of doors and talked with all sorts of people. Some were rather strange. We were teaching a lesson at a door one day because there was no man there so we couldn`t go in and all of a sudden in the middle of our lesson we heard someone from down the street Yell “Chicos… Chicos” so we turned and saw some guy sticking his head out the door. He asked us to go to his house after we finished our lesson. So we finished and were thinking that it would be an golden investigator but when we got there it turned out to be a half crazy guy that was building a church in his house and that was gonna be a pastor. He gave us some juice and bread (the “bread of life” as he called it) and started talking to us. He wanted to know what we did to find people to teach and was asking all sorts of advice . Then he started preaching to us and Reading to us from the bible and after every verse that he liked he would say “amen, thank you Lord”. Then he started telling us about how he used to do all sorts of stupid stuff like drink and do drugs but how the lord sent angels to protect him because the lord new that he was gonna use him to help other people. Then he showed us his guitar and asked if i knew how to play and I told him yes so he asked me to teach him so that he could play songs in his church services. All in all he was kinda crazy and it was a rather interesting experience. He was from columbia which explains alot because everyone that i`ve met so far from Columbia has been kinda different. We also ran into a 20 year old lady that is already a member but just moved to quito and didn`t know where the church was so she hadn`t been going. We took her to church on Sunday along with her husband who isn`t a member so hopefully we can work with them.

My birthday was on Friday. It was pretty much just like any other day. No one knew that it was my birthday. One person did know and gave me a card and some chocolates. All in all it was a good day. Thanks again to everyone who sent me a letter or package for my birthday!

Next week are changes so I have a chance of getting chaged but I dont think it will happen. I bet i`ll be here for at least 6 months like I was in esmeraldas but we`ll see what happens. 27 new missionaries are coming this change which is a lot (last change there were 8) so there are gonna be a lot of changes. 27 people are gonna be training so thats 27 changes garrenteed and like 7 zone leaders are going home so thats another 7 changes and those are just the changes that have to happen. There will likely be more so we`ll see what happens. Well thats all I have for this week. Thanks for everything. I love you all!

August 23 & 30, 2010

Posted on 1:19 PM by Elder Messer | 0 comments

This week has gone well for Elder Resendiz and I. We`ve been working hard all week to find new investigators to teach and were able to come up with 8 new people. I think thats the most that i`ve gotten in one week since i`ve been in Quito. Before I think my record was 4. In esmeraldas we got 18 one week but that really isn`t that hard in Esmeraldas. We knocked a lot of doors and talked with all sorts of people. Some were rather strange. We were teaching a lesson at a door one day because there was no man there so we couldn`t go in and all of a sudden in the middle of our lesson we heard someone from down the street Yell “Chicos… Chicos” so we turned and saw some guy sticking his head out the door. He asked us to go to his house after we finished our lesson. So we finished and were thinking that it would be an golden investigator but when we got there it turned out to be a half crazy guy that was building a church in his house and that was gonna be a pastor. He gave us some juice and bread (the “bread of life” as he called it) and started talking to us. He wanted to know what we did to find people to teach and was asking all sorts of advice . Then he started preaching to us and Reading to us from the bible and after every verse that he liked he would say “amen, thank you Lord”. Then he started telling us about how he used to do all sorts of stupid stuff like drink and do drugs but how the lord sent angels to protect him because the lord new that he was gonna use him to help other people. Then he showed us his guitar and asked if i knew how to play and I told him yes so he asked me to teach him so that he could play songs in his church services. All in all he was kinda crazy and it was a rather interesting experience. He was from columbia which explains alot because everyone that i`ve met so far from Columbia has been kinda different. We also ran into a 20 year old lady that is already a member but just moved to quito and didn`t know where the church was so she hadn`t been going. We took her to church on Sunday along with her husband who isn`t a member so hopefully we can work with them.

My birthday was on Friday. It was pretty much just like any other day. No one knew that it was my birthday. One person did know and gave me a card and some chocolates. All in all it was a good day. Thanks again to everyone who sent me a letter or package for my birthday!

Next week are changes so I have a chance of getting chaged but I dont think it will happen. I bet i`ll be here for at least 6 months like I was in esmeraldas but we`ll see what happens. 27 new missionaries are coming this change which is a lot (last change there were 8) so there are gonna be a lot of changes. 27 people are gonna be training so thats 27 changes garrenteed and like 7 zone leaders are going home so thats another 7 changes and those are just the changes that have to happen. There will likely be more so we`ll see what happens. Well thats all I have for this week. Thanks for everything. I love you all!

August 16, 2010

Posted on 12:49 PM by Elder Messer | 0 comments

This week has been pretty normal and uneventful. I don’t even know where to start because nothing exciting really happened this week. We’ve kind of hit a rough spot in our sector. All the investigators that we had have either been baptized or we’ve dropped them because they weren’t progressing. So basically our biggest problem right now is that we don’t have anyone to teach. We’ve been knocking doors and contacting people like crazy all week but we haven’t had much success yet. We met a lady that has 2 nephews on missions and her whole family lives in Utah and her brother is a bishop but she doesn’t want anything to do with the church. We also met a family of Jehovah witnesses that only wanted to debate with us. I didn’t understand them at all….. Their doctrine is really strange and doesn’t really make sense to me. We’ve met a lot of people that “Were born catholic and that are going to die catholic no matter what” and a lot of other types of people. Knocking doors in Quito is a lot different than knocking doors in Esmeraldas. In Esmeraldas it was easy to get in a house and teach. Like every 10th house would let us in. In Quito it’s a lot harder. I think I’ve only gotten in 1 house since I’ve been here and it was someone from Esmeraldas. The people are a lot more closed here. But the good thing is that when we do find someone to teach they are serious about it. In Esmeraldas nobody was serious about anything. Life is a lot different here in Quito.
I’m not gonna lie. Things have been kinda rough lately. My companion is having a really hard time. He’s been here for 4 weeks and he is super homesick. He talks about going home a lot and is really frustrated with everything. He says that he hasn’t been able to sleep since he got here and that he just wants to go home but that something inside of him tells him that he should stay. Its been kinda hard because I already have all the weight of my sector and district on my shoulders and now I have the weight of my companion as well. But I guess that’s what the mission is all about… going through rough experiences and learning how to depend on the Lord to overcome them all.

A new mall just opened up in my zone. It’s the biggest mall in Ecuador. It’s pretty cool. I felt like I was in the states when I was there. It has a bunch of good American food. I even got some baskin robins. It was pretty tasty.
Well sorry that my letter is so short this week but that’s all I’ve got. I can’t think of anything else that would be interesting. Until next week….

August 9, 2010

Posted on 9:38 PM by Elder Messer | 0 comments

Hey sorry that I couldn’t write much last week. I’ll get you all caught up right now. Last week was pretty crazy I was in meetings everyday and hardly got any work done. Monday was pday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday there were meeting for all the leaders in the mission that lasted all day, Friday was weekly planning and district meeting, Saturday we had a mini conference with the zone, a service , and a baptism, and Sunday we had church executive committee and ward counsel. I think we only got to teach like 12 lessons last week. But we did manage to have a baptism so that was good. We baptized a 12 year old kid named Kevin. Is dad and brother were already members but for some reason he has been really hard to get through to. I’ve been teaching him since I got here and the missionaries before me were teaching him as well. Usually it’s not that hard to get younger kids baptized. Usually they can’t wait to get baptized but for some reason it was really difficult with him. Luckily we have a really good young men’s president that helped us out a lot. He talked to Kevin and managed to overcome all the doubts that he had and all the things that were stopping him from getting baptized. His biggest doubt was that he was afraid that his parents were going to pressure him too much and that they were going to get angry with him if he didn’t want to go to an activity for some reason. That’s what he had seen with his brother who was already a member so he didn`t want the same thing to happen to him. But anyways, he finally got over it and got baptized. Now his mom is the only member in the family that isn’t a member and we’ve been working with her a lot. This week we managed to uncover one of her biggest doubts. Everyone has always talked to her about getting married in the temple so that she can be with her family forever. This week she told us that the reason that she doesn’t want to get baptized is because she still doesn’t want to get married in the temple. She has passed through a lot of struggles with her husband and says that she doesn’t believe that true love really exists. Basically she doesn’t love her husband enough to be married to him for time and all eternity. We talked about it with her and are going to continue to visit her and work with her. We’re thinking about taking some members that have happy marriages to their house. We’re gonna do everything we can so we’ll see what happens. She has always been a pretty tough investigator.

Alright I don’t really want to explain all the stuff that happened in the 3 day conference last week so I’m just gonna make a list

-Normally we have interviews with the president and zone conference every 6 weeks but now we’re just going to have in every 3 months

-Now we have a new meeting with the president and the APs every month that is called “capacitacion especializada” (I’m not sure how to translate that)

-There is a new meeting for all the leaders in the mission that will happen every 2 months

-They also taught us a lot of teaching skills that we have to teach to all the missionaries in our zones and districts…. For example: we no longer plan what we are going to teach in every teaching visit. Now we just show up and start talking to the people and let the spirit guide us. There’s a scripture in D&C 84:85 that says “take no thought beforehand for what you shall say, but treasure up the word continually and it will be given to you in that very moment the portion that will be meted to every man” (or something like that…. I have it memorized in Spanish so that’s a translation)

Those are the biggest changes that they are making. We’ve already started to put it all into practice and its working very well.

Last Monday our whole zone went on an excursion to a huge waterfall in the middle of the jungle. We hired a bus to take us as deep into the jungle as he could and then we walked for like a hour before we got there. It was really pretty. The whole time we were walking next to a huge river and through trees. We even had to cross a wooden plank bridge like the ones you see in the movies and one of the zone leaders got bitten by a crazy dog. It was quite the adventure. I sent pictures so enjoy.
This week has gone good as well. We had “Capacitacion especializada” and zone conference so I learned a lot. In zone conference President Sloan taught us about how having a testimony and be converted are 2 completely different things. Having a testimony is knowing that the things are true but being converted is a process of becoming something. We read a talk that was called “the challenge to become” (I can’t remember who it was by). It was a good talk though. When someone is truly converted they literally become charity since charity is a condition. President told us that if we don’t feel the desire to share the gospel everyday its because we haven’t experienced the atonement in our lives and haven’t really been converted. The Sons of Mosiah were such powerful missionaries because they experienced the atonement in their lives. They experienced the love of God and wanted to share it with everyone else. They used to be vile sinners but repented and felt the joy of the atonement and wanted everyone else to feel it as well.

President Sloan came to our ward this week as well and spoke in sacrament meeting and said the same thing. He told all the members that if they were scared to talk with their friends about the gospel it was because they weren’t converted and hadn’t experienced the atonement in their lives and that they needed to repent…. He spoke very boldly and he even made one lady cry (the most prideful lady in the ward) but it was good and hopefully we’ll see some results and start to get some more references.

Anyway that’s all I have for now. Thanks to everyone that keeps sending me letters even though I’m really slow at writing back. You know who you are. I love you all! Until next week.

July 26, 2010

Posted on 9:16 PM by Elder Messer | 0 comments

So everything is going good here in South America. I got my new companion this week on Wednesday. His name is Elder Resendiz. He’s from Mexico. It’s been really nice because he knows how to make Mexican food and it’s really good. He’s teaching me so hopefully by the time I get back I’ll be a master chef. He’s brand new so he still has his full Mexican accent and it’s a lot different from the way people talk here in Ecuador. Every once in a while he says a word that I don’t understand because it’s a word they only use in Mexico. And every once in a while I say a word that is normal here but is a really bad word in Mexico. Its interesting how all the Latino countries speak the same language but there are so many things that are different. For example, the word coger means to catch or grab here so I always say “vamos a coger bus” (we’re gonna catch a bus) but in Mexico it is like the worst word that you can say and its super offensive. If I ever travel to other countries after my mission I’ll have to watch what I say haha.

We have a baptism coming up this Saturday. It’s a 12 year old kid named Kevin. His dad and older brother are both members but for some reason he has been a pretty hard investigator. We’ve been teaching him and his mom ever since we got here and they’ve always been pretty hard. His mom is catholic and I think she has been influencing him a lot to not get baptized. We didn’t know what to do so we asked the young men’s president for help and he talked with him and now he wants to get baptized. I wish all members were like that. You all should be like that. So he’s getting baptized this week. The opposition will come like it always does but we’re ready for it and are gonna do everything possible to make sure that he gets baptized.

This week there is a 3 day conference for all the zone leaders and district leaders in the whole mission. Apparently the first presidency has decided to make a few changes to the way the mission will work. And they must be some pretty big changes because it’s a 3 day conference. I’ve never been to a conference that lasted for more than a day so it will be interesting to see what all is going to happen. Unfortunately that means I won’t be in my sector for 3 days so when I get back I’m gonna have a lot of work to do. I’m excited for the conference because I’m gonna get to see all the elders from my mtc district that I haven’t seen in a long time
There are some elders in my district that are having some difficulties with their bishop. Apparently he wants to do the baptismal interviews for all the people that get baptized which is something that he doesn’t have stewardship over. I might have to go talk to him this week about it so that should be pretty interesting. There are a lot of things that happen like that in Ecuador because the church is still pretty young here and there are a lot of leaders that don’t have a lot of experience. In Esmeraldas there was a bishop that wanted the missionaries to pay tithing.

Mom I got your package. Thanks a ton!!!!!!!!!!! That’s all I have for this week. Take care! Talk to you next week!

July 19, 2010

Posted on 9:24 PM by Elder Messer | 0 comments

This week has been pretty crazy down here in Ecuador. My district hadn’t had any baptisms this months so the zone leaders started getting on my case about it. It was kinda frustrating but after sulking in my pride for a while I finally humbled myself and decided that they were right and that if I was the district leader that I needed to set an example for everyone and start baptizing more. I didn’t know how I was gonna do it but on Wednesday I got the idea in my head that I was gonna baptize at least 2 people this week so I asked the zone leaders if we could do divisions so that they could help me resolve some problems with a few investigators. We were only in divisions for like 3 hours but we managed to give 2 baptismal challenges to 2 people for this Saturday and they both accepted. It was Celeste and Jacqueline. They both were going through some problems. Celeste had a ton of opposition from her family and Jacqueline was still depressed because her dad died but we managed to overcome their problems and got them to agree to be baptized on Saturday. Saturday came and all was looking good but then at 8 in the morning Celeste sent us a message that said that she couldn’t get baptized so we went straight to her house and after talking with her for a bit we managed to convince her that she needed to be baptized. Her problem was that her whole family was pressuring her to travel back to Guayaquil that day and they told her that her baptism wasn’t that important and that she could do it another day. After resolving her problem for the first time we went back to work but about an hour later she sent us another message saying the same thing. She said she wanted to get baptized but her family was forcing her to leave that day. The same thing repeated all day long… she would send us a message and tell us that she couldn’t get baptized and we would run over and convince her that she had to. I think we repeated the process and least 5 times. We finally settled everything once and for all by asking the bishop if she could be confirmed on Saturday so that she could go to Guayaquil so that her family wouldn’t get mad at her. It was a crazy day and it was definitely a miracle that we got everything worked out and that she got baptized. We almost forgot about Jacqueline but luckily she didn’t face much opposition that day. Satan was focusing all his efforts on Jacqueline. So anyway we ended up having 2 baptisms this week thanks to a lot of hard work and a lot of divine help.

One day this week we were walking to an appointment when we saw a little old lady that was going crazy because she had locked herself out of her house. We asked her if she was alright and she told us her situation and asked us if we could climb up a telephone pole onto her porch, break in her back door, and go open the front door and let her in. how could we say no to such a request? My companion climbed up and when he was about to break in he realized that there was an angry dog inside that didn’t like strangers. The lady was like “there’s a shovel up there that you can use to defend yourself so he grabbed the shovel and broke in. luckily the dog didn’t attack him and he was able to get the door opened.

This week I did an interview for a 20 year old guy that was deaf so that he could get baptized. The plan was that his sister was going to translate for me so the 3 of us went in the room and started the interview. It wasn’t long before I realized that the deaf guy didn’t even know sign language. I would ask a question and his sister would open a picture book, find a picture about whatever the question was, point to it, and then point to him… then with a very confused and nervous look he would nod his head and his sister would tell me, “yes he believes” or “yes he understands”. It was clear to me that he didn’t understand because he couldn’t communicate. I didn’t know what to do because I had never had a situation like that. I asked for a few minutes to be alone so that I could pray and ask the lord if he should be baptized. They left the room and I got on my knees and started praying and asking what I should do. Everyone in his family wanted him to get baptized and the missionaries wanted him to get baptized…. Even I wanted him to get baptized because my district hadn’t had any baptism yet this month… but after praying for about 10 minutes I just didn’t feel right about it so I asked them to come back in. I talked to his sister a little more and eventually explained that I didn’t feel like he was ready to get baptized. I’m not gonna lie, it was pretty hard to say know but I had to do it because I knew that it was pretty to offend man than to offend God. The next day I called president Sloan and told him about what had happened and he told me that I had done the right thing and that made me feel better. Its pretty hard to tell someone that they can’t get baptized. I wonder what it would be like to be a bishop and tell someone that they couldn’t go to the temple or something like that. Hopefully I’m never a bishop haha.

We had changes today. My companion elder Brailsford got sent to Otavalo and I’m training again for the 3rd time. I still don’t know who my companion is. The new missionaries get here tonight or tomorrow and we’ll get paired up on Wednesday. I’ll let you know next week who my companion is.

Anyway that’s all for this week. I got a package from grandma and grandma Messer. Thanks a ton! Talk to you next week! I love you!

July 12, 2010

Posted on 6:02 PM by Elder Messer | 0 comments

Yes Jacqueline got back from her dads funeral but hasn’t felt like talking to us yet and told her sister that she’s not going to get baptized this week. She’s super depressed because her dad died and everything and just lays in bed all day and doesn’t talk to anyone. I think she still has desires to be baptized but just doesn’t feel like doing anything at the moment. Its kinda a tough situation. At ward counsel yesterday we asked everyone to pray for her so hopefully everyone’s prayers will make a difference. Maybe you guys could pray as well? I remember when I was in Esmeraldas we had a few investigators that had really tough situations and couldn’t get baptized but when we started praying for the everyday multiple times during the day they started to make progress towards overcoming their problems. Then I left so I don’t know what happened to them. But at least I learned the power of prayer.

Other that Jacqueline, We have a couple other investigators with baptismal dates. One is Tarjelia Bravo. She’s Ronalds mom and had a date for the 31 of July but we moved it up this week to the 24th. She has her interview this Saturday so hopefully everything turns out good. Another is Rocio. She prayed to ask which church is true and had a dream that the true church had temples like it describes in exodus when its talking about the tabernacle. We talked a little bit about temples and she agreed to be baptized the first week in august. Her biggest challenge is going to church and keeping the Sabbath day holy because she plays on a soccer team that always plays on Sundays and she really doesn’t want to just stop playing. She came to church 2 weeks ago but didn’t come this week so we’re gonna work really hard with her to get her to go this upcoming Sunday.

We have one investigator-Hermano Mina- that wants to get baptized but has a really big problem with drinking. He has had it for almost his whole life and wants to stop but its really hard for him. He was driving drunk one time and drove off a cliff and almost died and he has a lot of health problems from drinking but he still does it because he’s addicted. This week we talk with him about the power that the book of Mormon has and how it can help him overcome his problem if he reads it everyday. We read a scripture with him (the last verse in ether 8… it think) that says that the book of Mormon was written to take the wickedness out of the hearts of men and persuade them to do good continually and we promised him that if he would read the book of Mormon regularly that the desires to drink would diminish and that he would be able to be freed from his problem. He said he was gonna do it so lets hope he keeps his word.

This week we had zone conference and a bunch of other meetings so we didn’t get as much work done as usually. We had interviews on Thursday, zone conference Friday, mini conference Saturday, and church and ward council(3 hours) on Sunday. Zone conference was really good. They are always good and I always learn a lot but this time was like extra good. President Sloan blew me away with his doctrine class. It was like 2 hours long and it was the most in depth stuff I’ve ever heard about the fall, the atonement, and repentance. It was like a doctrinal feast. The scriptures have a new meaning to me now. He explained things that I had read many times but apparently had never really understood. I wanted to go straight to the temple afterwards because I’m sure I would understand things way better now…. But I couldn’t so hopefully I won’t forget everything I learned in the next 14 months. Its weird that I’m less than 2 months away from completing a year. Time flies.

Special thanks to Torie for sending me all of tanners emails! It definitely made my day to read all about what my best friend has been up to. Thanks!!!

If anyone is waiting for a letter, I’m super sorry that I’m taking so long to write. Ever since I got switched to Quito it seams like I’ve been busier than a worker ant. But I’m working on it I promise! Please be patient with me.

Random story: on Wednesday we were walking into the gate in front of our ward mission leaders house and their neighbors dag came up and started barking at us like crazy like it was gonna bite us or something. It’s a little tiny dog so long story short…. My companion kicked it and sent it flying. Then in ran in the house with its tail between its legs and never bothered us again. It was pretty funny. We were laughing for a while.

President gave us permission to play soccer so today I played for the first time in over 10 months. It was pretty fun even though I am ridiculously tired right now. Its pretty hard to play when your at an altitude 10,000 feet. But it was definitely worth it. Anyway, that’s all I have for this week. I love you all! ¡Que tengan una Buena semana!