Another transfer just ended and my old companion (Elder Lopez) is on his way home. I`m getting a new companion named Elder Chavez. So far I don’t know much about him. Hes from Guatemala and has been out for 3 ½ months less than me. Hopefully hes a hard worker! These last few weeks have been a little difficult because I had a companion that was going home. It made me a little homesick thinking about him going home. But hopefully all of that will wear off as we get back out to work this week. Oh and I got sick this week so that was kinda lame too. I`m not sure what it was from. I think I must have eaten something weird or maybe someone gave me water that wasn`t purified or something like that. I wasn`t able to work Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday. But i`m pretty much better now so all is well.
We were going to have a baptism this week but the guy had problems with question 4 in his interview so now he has to wait and get interviewed by president sloan to see if he can get baptized. We`re keeping our fingers crossed.
I don’t really have much to tell about this week since I was sick in bed for half the week…. We did a service project on Wednesday where we helped a lady start to build a new house. We dug a couple of house and put some pieces of wood in them. It was a rather easy service compared to some of the others that we`ve done.
Yesterday there were 3 small earthquakes here. Elder Lopez and I were in our house and it started shaking. The fist thing I did was run outside because I didn`t want to be inside if it collapsed. Luckily the earthquakes were really small and really quick so there was no damage. Hopefully they don’t come back. Our house is only made of cinder blocks and cement… its not all the sturdy... hopefully if there is a big earthquake it will be during the day when we`re not at home.
Anyway, that’s about all that happened this week. I hope everything is going well for everyone back home! Until next week!
Posted on 2:02 PM by Elder Messer | 1 comments
Hey everyone! So this week has gone really well… better than most weeks I would say. We have found a few new families that we are teaching that we`re excited about. It’s always a big deal when we find a family that will listen because there are hardly any families here and if we do manage to find a family they usually don`t want to listen. But we have found 3 in the last 2 weeks so we`re excited about that. Also, we had a baptism on Saturday. We baptized a young man named Jordy. We met jordy about 4 months again when I was with the other Elder Lopez (the one that I trained). We were just walking down a street and I had a book of mormon in my hand and jordy saw it and came up and started asking me about it. I showed him the pictures in the front of the book and explained about how Nephi and his family came to the Americas from Jerusalem and how the book of mormon tells the story of their family and of the ancient inhabitants of the American continent. He had tons of questions so we set up an appointment to come back. We started teaching his brother and sister and his mom as well but they weren`t as interested as he was. His mom is really hard to deal with. Her heart is super hard and she gets offended really easily. She has been the biggest opposition to the progression of Jordy. He was going to get baptized a few weeks ago but his mom wouldn`t give permission. Jordy begged and begged her and she finally said yes. On Saturday we passed by jordy`s house to remind make sure that he was going to show up to his baptism on time (here it is very normal to show up 30 minutes to 1 hour late) and we found him crying. Some of his aunts and uncles had come by his house and invited his family to go to the beach. When he told them that he couldn`t go because he was getting baptized they started giving him a hard time and telling him that he had been brainwashed and stuff like that. And he really wanted his mom and his brothers and sisters to come to his baptism but they had decided to go to the beach instead. We gave him some encouraging words and explained that whenever we get closer to God there is always a greater opposition. Its becoming predictable to me. For almost every baptism that we`ve had so far something has happened either right before or right after. Anyway, he got baptized despite the opposition from his family and was confirmed on Sunday. His mom ended up feeling bad for not coming to his baptism so she came on Sunday and watched him receive the Aaronic priesthood.
We have another baptism scheduled for this Saturday. Its for a man named Harlington. He has been to several different churches and has studied the Bible a lot. He has been coming to church for like 6 weeks now and went to all of the sessions of general conference. He is very motivated when it comes to religion. There are still a lot of things that he doesn`t understand perfectly because he has been to so many churches and has so many different ideas mixed up in his head but he has a testimony and believes the book of mormon is true and the joseph smith was a prophet so we`re gonna baptize him next week. His interview is scheduled for tonight.
Random thing that I ate this week: Cow utter……. Surprisingly it wasn`t that bad. They didn`t tell me what it was till after I ate it which is good because if I would have known it might have tasted a lot worse… haha
This is the last week of the change so that means my companion goes home in a week and i`ll get a new one. I`ll let you know what happens next week.
We just found out that the 1st councilor in our bishopric (one of the 4 priesthood holders that we have and one of the strongest members in the ward) is moving this week so that might take its toll on the ward. We`ll see what happens.
Anyway, that’s all for this week! Thanks to everyone who has sent me letters! I`m in the process of writing back right now. I love you all!
Posted on 6:04 PM by Elder Messer | 0 comments
I'll put pictures on facebook soon! I promise! There's not very many...only like 4...but coming soon!
April 5, 2010
Hey everyone! I hope all is well back home. This week has been good for me. It was full of meetings and conferences. We almost didn`t get to work at all this week. Monday was pday, Tuesday we worked until 3 and then had interviews and meeting for the rest of the day, Wednesday was zone conference, Thursday is weekly planning and district meeting, Friday was a normal day of work, Saturday was 3 sessions of general conference, and Sunday was another 2 sessions. Needless to say we didn`t get much work done this week. We spent a lot of time getting taught and not as much time teaching others. But it was a nice change of pace. It’s the closest thing to a vacation that i`ve had since i`ve been on my mission. But its over now and this week will be full of hard work. Conference was good though. I liked elder oaks talk in priesthood meeting about giving priesthood blessings and I liked elder hollands talk too… like always. I just like how he speaks. I especial liked his joke about tea. It was pretty funny I thought.
In zone conference we studied alma 32. President sloan spent a lot of time talking about “the poor in heart”. He said that the poor in heart have no dreams or goals and have the philosophy “I was born this way so that’s how ui`m gonna stay forever” faith doesn`t exist for them because they don’t think change or better things are possible and they have no hope. Then on Thursday (the day after zone conference I met someone exactly like that. I was waiting at line in the ATM and some guy came up and started talking to me. He told me all about how poor he was and how jesus taught that we should give to the poor and that obviously if I was a representative of jesus that meant that I should give him money. Then he went on about how he doesn`t have a house and how he sleeps on the beach and gets wet by the waves everynight. I wanted to say, “That’s sucks, if I was you I wouldn`t sleep on the beach.” He didn`t understand that he could change his situation. He thought that since he was born sleeping on the beach and getting wet that that is how he had to stay forever. We told him that if he wanted our help that he should come to church Sunday and we would teach him there how HE could change his life.
Were taching a lesson this week in a little store of one of our investigaters when all of a sudden someguy walking by got tackled and taken away by the police. The police were really rough with him and had their guns out an everything and all the nieghbors left there houses and surrounded to watch. Then he got taken away in the back of a police truck. Apparently he had robbed someone earlier so they took him to jail. I wonder what the jail is like here. I`m pretty sure that jail in the US is nicer that how a lot of people live here so I wonder what the jail conditions are like her. Probably not very good.
We were knocking doors on Friday and ran into the uncle of Antonio valencia (a soccer player that plays for manchester united). It turns out that he is a member but inactive. He said that he used to be the elders quorum president and we was a ward mission leader. He said that when he went to church there was 150 people every week. I am curious to no what happened between then and now because now we are lucky to have 60 and there is no elders quorum president or ward mission leader. But anyway, I thought it was cool that I ran into the uncle of a soccer player that plays for my favorite team. Apparently antonio valencia is from esmeraldas. Hes a person that has done something with his life. To go from esmeraldas to professional soccer player for one of the best teams in the world is quite an accomplishment I think.
Anyway, that’s all for this week. I Love you all! Until next week!
March 29, 2010
Let me tell you about this week in Esmeraldas. I think I told you last week about Jordy.. He`s 12 years old, really smart, has been reading the book of mormon everyday from the beginning, and really wants to get baptized but his mom didn`t want him to. The good news is that this week we managed to get his mom to sign the baptismal form so now he can get baptized. The semi-bad news is that they went out of town this weekend so he couldn`t get baptized this week end and next weekend is general conference so now he has to wait to more weeks. But that’s not that big of a deal. But it’s kinda frustrating for him because he wants to get baptized right away. You should have seen him when his mom signed the form. He was super excited and started hugging and kissing his mom and telling her thank you like 100 times. It was also a really big victory for us because we`ve been trying to win the confidence of his mom for a really long time. She got super offended a while ago because she offered us tea and we told her that we couldn`t drink it. Its taken a lot of work and diligent kindness to win her confidence.
We did a service project this week where we had to hike to the top of a huge mountain and then clear out a huge spot to grow crops. The grass was like 4 feet tall so we used machetes. It was kinda fun but really hot and it was hard work swinging a machete for an hour straight.
Random: Have you seen the picture at the beginning of chapter 14 of the new gospel principles book? Everyone here thinks that the guy on the right is me. Like they seriously think its me and ask me how I got in that picture. And for all of you from BYU last year; the guy kneeling down in the middle kinda looks like spencer cleg…. At least I think so.
The only other exciting thing that happened this week was that I ate cuy (guinea pig) for the first time. I got to see the whole process from it being killed to eating it. It was quite the cultural experience and I took lots of pictures. There were 3 of them and it was kinda sad because 2 of them were pregnant(we found out when they were pulling the guts out and found babies) and one of them had twins that were about to be born in 2 weeks. It actually didn`t taste that bad. Its not like chicken or beef. Its unique. I don’t really now how to describe it. Maybe i`ll make some for everyone to try when I get back…kidding(unless you really want to try it)
I`m really looking forward to this week because its zone conference Tuesday and Wednesday and general conference on Saturday and Sunday. I`m praying that i`ll be able to watch conference in English. For the Christmas devotional they had an English room for the American missionaries so i`m hoping it will be the same. If not….. at least the music is in English. I should be able to understand the talks in Spanish, its just a lot easier and more comfortable in English.
My companion goes home in 3 weeks so hes starting to get a little trunky… haha. I`m not gonna lie; him being trunky is making me a little trunky. Sometimes I catch myself thinking about the day a land back in the states and I have to stop myself and get refocused.
Well that’s about it for this week. I hope all is going well for everyone back home! Write me letters and keep me updated on everything!
-Elder Brandon Messer
March 22, 2010
This week has gone well for Elder Lopez and I. It was filled with challanges but we also had some succeses. The biggest challange lately has been with the members. We havn`t had a ward mission leader in a while so this week we asked the bishop if he could call one. He told us that he didn`t know who to call and asked us for suggestions. We started naming people but every person that we named isn`t allowed to have a calling right now. Other than the bishop ric there is only one other melquesidek priesthood holder that can have a calling and we all agreed that it would be better if he wasn`t called as ward mission leader because he tends to cause a lot of controversy. So for now we`re just going to keep doing the best we can without a ward mission leaders. We`ve also had some problems with some recent converts that don`t want to go to church because they feel like they are being judged constantly by the members. For example, 2 of them have told us specifically that they don`t like being bothered for not wearing a skirt and they dont like how some of the members make comments about it. Elder Lopez and I are trying to work things out the best we can. We asked the bishop if we could have a few minutes in the next ward council to teach a little bit about “hermanamiento”(befriending people) and we asked the Zone leaders to come this Saturday to talk with all the ward leaders as well. We`ve also been concerned lately because our investigaters aren`t feeling the spirit very much at church. Sacrament meeting is good but the gospel doctrine class and priesthood aren`t exactly going so well. For example, this Sunday in priesthood there was an argument on weather or not cain and able were the first children of adam and eve that completely destroyed any spirit that was there. They asked us for the answer so we turned to moses and read with them where it says that adam and eve had many children before cain and able… but that only caused a bigger controversy. One of the counelors in the bishop ric said something like this, “well it says here (in moses) that they had other children first and I respect the scriptures …but the bible makes it very clear that cain and able were the first children of adam and eve.” Meanwhile in my head I was screaming “the bible was translated by men and has errors . Thats why we have the Book of mormon and the pearl of grand price. If the bible was perfect we wouldn`t need any more scripture.” It was frustrating because now we are going to have to try and explain to our investigaters that the guy from the bishop ric was wrong and that the pearl of grand price really is a true book. Also. This week the 1st councelor in the bishop ric (the same guy the started the adam and eve controversy) told us this week that he doesn`t understand why he isn`t bishop yet. He told us all about how the bishop is a bad leader and how he thinks that he should be called as bishop. FULL APOSTASY!!!!!! Haha.
This week has been difficult with a few investigaters as well. We`re teaching a family (the taipes) and this week there 16 year old daughter ran away with her 22 year old boyfriend. Later that week we read the proclamation with them and the dad broke down and started crying because he was failing at being a good husband and father. They told us that they have been living together unhappily for 16 years and that they didn`t think there was any hope to save they`re family. We taught them that through the gospel of Jesus Christ all families can be happy even when they have problems and that there was hope and that we are going to be there for them to help them become a happy family. I feel bad for the kids. They have an 8 year old daughter and a 13 year old son that have to watch all the problems. Their parents aren`t married and the dad was a drunk. Hes better now since we`ve been working with him but the mom doesn`t want to forgive him and she has lost all hope and just wants to separate. They made it to church this week which was good and we`ve seen a lot of progress since we`ve been teaching them but they still have a long ways to go.
I saw a 9 year old buying beer this week and drinking it on the way back to his house to give his to his dad. I`m not gonna lie, this is the most wicked city i`ve ever seen.
Other than all that the week was well. We have one baptism scheduled this Saturday. He was going to get baptised last week but his mom said she wanted to wait another week before she would sign the ficha. We`ve also been trying to work a lot with the people on our baptismal goals for next month and we`re excited to see them keep progressing. I`m looking forward to general conference as well. It will be a good oppurtunity for some of our investigaters to listen to the prophet and apostels and a good oppurtunity for me personally to refill spiritually.
I love you guys! Thanks for all your support! Until next week.
March 15, 2010
Hey everyone! I hope all is going well. This week has gone good for me. Its been pretty normal with no huge surprises or big events. First things first, HAPPY BIRTHDAY DESI!!!!!!!!!!!! 11 years old?!?! Its gonna be crazy when I get back in 18 months and you will be 12 and like 2 feet taller than you were when I left. And don’t worry, i`ll bring you a birthday present from Ecuador when I get back in 18 months!
I ate cow feet this week. It was gross. I didn`t know it was possible to eat cow feet but apparently it is. The lady that made it for us was taking to us the whole time while we ate it telling us how good it was. I didn`t agree at all. It was hard to keep a happy face and I had to lie to her and tell her I liked it because she asked me like 3 times…. The things I do to not offend people haha. At least it wasn`t fish eggs this time and at least it didn`t make me sick. One of the people that I baptized in January said that they were gonna make cuy(guinea pig) for me next week…. Wish me luck.
Everyone here is paranoid that an earthquake and/or tsunami is going to hit Esmeraldas. Apparently and earthquake here like the one in Chile would cause devastating results because the buildings here aren`t that strong. The beach was even closed the other day because they were so convinced that a tsunami was coming. One lady was talking to me about the earthquake in chile and asked me if the U.S. shared a border with chile haha.
We might have a baptism this week. We`ve been teaching a 12 year old named Jordy and he wants to get baptized but we just need permission from his mom. Jordy is one of the smarted kids I`ve ever met. He understands and remembers pretty much every word that comes out of our mouths and he reads the book of mormon and the Bible everyday. If he gets baptized and stays active he has a lot of potential in the church. My biggest concern right now is that he will get baptized but then go inactive since hes only 12 and theres not very many deacons in the ward right now. The ward isn`t exactly the strongest ward you`ve ever seen. Only 60 people show up on a good Sunday, theres now elders quorum presidency, no ward mission leader, and no young mens program. On a normal Sunday we bless the sacrament, lead the music, sometimes give a talk, teach the gospel doctrine class, and teach elders quorum unless someone from the stake shows up. Needless to say there are lots of opportunities to serve. And that’s what we`re here for so its all good.
Thanks again to everyone that has sent me letters and/or packages! I love getting updates on everyone from back home! I love you guys!