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!

June 14, 21, 28, and July 5, 2010

Posted on 10:57 AM by Elder Messer | 0 comments

June 14, 2010
Hey everyone. Another week and another letter. We had 2 baptisms this week and they went really well. We baptized an 8 year old boy named David and an 11 year old boy named Carlos. Their parents are members but were inactive so we`ve been working with them and they have returned to church and are now active so we baptized their 2 kids. Carlos is deaf so his mom had to translate everything to him in sign language. He`s a really smart kid. He even gave his testimony after the baptism and his mom translated it for us. Then their parents shared their testimonies and they both started crying because it was such a special moment for them. I forgot to take my camera this time so unfortunately I don’t have any pictures but I’ll try and take a picture with the family this week and send it home next week.

On Thursday I got to go to a meeting with all the district leaders in the whole mission. It was pretty cool. It went from 8am to 8 pm but that included a trip to the president’s house to eat ridiculously delicious enchiladas. It was the first taste of purely home cooked American food that I’ve had since I’ve been here. They even had root beer floats with the root beer imported from the stated because they don’t sell it here. It was heavenly. Apart from that we just talked forever about a bunch of different stuff. I think we spent like 3 hours talking about baptismal interviews and all the different situations that can come up. It was a really cool meeting and I’m glad that I got to go.

Today we got to watch the world cup. We watched Italy against Paraguay. It was way cool because it was the first time that I have watched TV in 9 months. Next week we`re gonna watch Spain against Honduras. And there`re rumors going around that president sloan is gonna let us play soccer on pdays if everything goes well with the world cup. So hopefully those rumors turn into a reality.

There’s a new sister missionary in my district that is from the Philippines. She’s the only person in the mission that is from somewhere other than latino America and the US. She speaks Cebuano and English already and now she is learning Spanish.
That’s about it for this week. I hope everything is going well back home. I love you all.

June 28, 2010

Hey everyone,
This week has gone well out here in Ecuador. We`ve been working hard trying to help people progress towards baptism and all of that good stuff that missionaries do. We have a baptism coming up this week. It’s a 30 year old lady named Jacqueline. Her sister is a member and she just recently became interested in the gospel. We met her at church like 5 weeks ago and have been teaching her ever since. She`s really excited for her baptism and she doesn`t really have any problems so that’s good. But I’m sure the opposition will come sooner or later… it always does.

This week we took Ronald (a 13 year old kid that we baptized) out with us a few times. He wanted to come with us so that he could fulfill a requirement in his duty to god book. He’s really excited about the church and everything that goes with it. His mom is investigating as well but she is a little harder. She’s been to church twice and now has a baptismal date for the end of July but she still seams kinda hesitant about it so we have our work cut out for us. Her whole family is catholic and Ronald had to face a lot of opposition from them when he got baptized so I think she’s kinda scared of what will happen if she got baptized. Almost everyone here is catholic and they have some beliefs/traditions that are very different so some times its hard for them to leave everything behind and join the church. We have one investigator that says she can’t believe that what we`re saying is true because her family has always worshiped some virgin/saint lady that lives in Loja (some city in Ecuador). Apparently this saint person has done a bunch of miracles and healed a bunch of people. It was kinda weird to hear about…. And upon further inspection we found out that this “saint” isn`t even a person at all…. It’s some doll that they keep in a huge shrine and all the people go worship her and pray to her and claim that she does miracles. It’s pretty much extreme idolatry but everyone that worships her claims that it’s not idolatry at all…… Let’s just say that Satan has confused a lot of people…

And there are a lot of people that don’t accept the gospel because of “the traditions of their fathers”. We talked to a lady one time that said, “Even if I got an answer from god that your church was true I wouldn`t leave the catholic church.” or others have said, “I was born catholic and I’m gonna dies catholic and that’s all there is to it.” It’s kinda frustrating sometimes but that’s how it is so we just learn to deal with it.

Well I can’t think of anything else so that’s it for this week! I love you all!
-Elder Messer

July 5, 2010

Things have been going well down here on the equator. It’s been a good week for the most part. We were supposed to have a baptism on Saturday but it fell through because the ladies dad died suddenly and she had to travel to the coast to be with the family and go to his funeral and everything. Depending on when she comes back we’ll either have her baptism this week or next week. Its amazing how predictable things are when someone is about to be baptized. Something ALWAYS happens. I`ve had like 20-ish baptisms so far and I’m pretty sure there wasn`t a single one that didn`t have some type of problem or opposition. We always warn the people when they accept a baptismal date that it won`t go unopposed. We`re at war here with the adversary people! He’s not gonna let you walk straight into the kingdom of God without doing everything in his power to shoot you down. Adversity has never been as real as it has been while I’ve been on my mission.

Tarjelia (Ronald`s mom) has been progressing really well lately. Shes been to church 3 times and says that her enthusiasm to get baptized has been improving. Her whole family is really catholic and that’s our biggest challenge with her so this week we decided to teach a whole lesson just about the great apostasy. We spent like 45 minutes just read scriptures and prophecies about the false churches that were gonna form and all the doctrine that was going to be changed. There’s a scripture in 2 timothy that talks about people that forbid to marry and that forbid to eat meat which seemed to really strike her hard since those are 2 things in the Catholic Church.

We saw something interesting this week. We were walking to an appointment and we saw this old lady with 3 goats walking through the middle of a very crowded street right in front of the mall. It turns out that she was selling goat milk and she was doing it with live goats to make sure it was fresh. People would walk up to her and ask for a cup and she would proceed to bend down, squeeze some milk out of the utter and give it to the person. They would then pay her 25 cents. My companion and I had a good laugh about it.

I hope everything is going well back in the states. Write me letters! I love you all!
-Elder Messer