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!