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 “NiƱo 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!