August 8, 2011 - Last post

Posted on 2:07 PM by Elder Messer | 0 comments

Pues…. Me es dificil creer que ya se me acabaron los mejores dos años……It feels like yesterday I was saying goodbye to everyone in the airport and getting dropped off by Lindsey at the MTC and here I am at the other end of the spectrum about to finish my mission. It really did go by fast. I don`t think I can even began to describe how I`ve been feeling in these last couple days. I just feel straight up weird. I`m happy because I get to come home and see my family and friends but at the same time I feel like I`m leaving family and friends here in Ecuador so its hard. I love the people of Ecuador. It’s been hard to say goodbye to everyone this week.

But anyway, It was a good week. I did my best to show Elder Whitlock the area. And the most exciting news is that we have a baptism coming up this Saturday. I`m sad that I won`t be there for it but I still count him as my convert. His name is Luis Flores. He is the father of Kristina Bonilla Flores (The wife of the family that we baptized last month). He has had a drinking problem his whole life which has caused a lot of problems but hasn`t drank for over a month now and has come to church 4 weeks in a row. He says that during the week he always wants Sunday to come faster so that he can go to church. He doesn`t speak very much Spanish and has almost no formal education so we have been teaching him like we would teach a 4 year old with simple words and really basic concepts. We have been working with the bishop too so that he can translate what we say into Quichua and help Luis understand better. He doesn`t understand much but he says that he feels peace when he prays, in church, and when we teach him. He should get baptized this Saturday.

At the beginning of my mission I thought that God and Christ had done so much for me that going on a mission was the least that I could do to try and repay them but now I realize that my debt to them has grown even bigger because they have blessed me so much over these past 2 years. It really is true what King Benjamin said in Mosiah chapter 2; we will always be unprofitable servants. The more we try to pay off our debt to Christ the more he blesses us and the bigger our debt because. Going on a mission wasn`t a sacrifice. It was a privilege and a blessing. I have gained a simpler but more profound understanding of the Gospel. I feel like I gained like 50 years of life experience with all the people that I got to help and all the problems that I got to see and try and help solve. I got to see and be part of miracles. There was absolutely nothing bad about going on a mission. It was the best decision I have ever made in my life.

I`d like to close my last letter with a scripture. Its in 2 John 1:12. It reads, “Having many things to write unto you, I would not write with paper and ink: but I trust to come unto you, and speak face to face, that our joy may be full.”

God be with you till we meet again!

August 1, 2011

Posted on 6:46 PM by Elder Messer | 0 comments

Hey everyone! I`ll start with the good news… Michelle got baptized and
confirmed this week! It was basically a miracle. Last week we thought
that there was almost no way that she could get baptized this week
because of the opposition with her mom. On Sunday night Antonio and
Michelle had basically told us that if she got baptized that it would
start ridiculous legal problems and would be a very bad situation. We
basically just testified to them of the importance of baptism and told
them that if they really had faith and tried that the lord would
provide a way. Then we went back on Wednesday and they told us that
they didn`t care what the consequences were, Michelle was going to get
baptized. I don’t think her mom knows yet and hopefully when she finds
out it won`t cause to many problems. But they didn`t break any laws
and they did what the lord wanted so he is “Bound” to help them with
whatever challenges do arise. There was some opposition on the day of
the baptism because Antonio had to stay longer at work for some reason
(A work that owes him 3 weeks salary still) and his dad was really
sick and needed to be taken to the hospital. But long story short he
made it to the baptism and michelle got baptized and all is well.
At Church this week an American family showed up that just moved here
and they invited us to dinner on Tuesday. I`m pretty excited.
I got a new companion today. His name is Elder Whitlock. He`s from
Wyoming He was in my district when I was a district leader so I
already know him. He only has a week to get to know the biggest sector
in the mission so hopefully he can pick it up quick.

I finished all my souvenir shopping today and I really hope you all
like what I got you. It was kinda hard to pick stuff out for everyone
but I did the best I could.

Our zone broke the record this month for baptisms. We had 15 between 4
companionships. The old record was 13. And the mission broke its
record too. We had 288 baptisms this month which is ridiculous!!!!
When president Sloan first got here he said the goal was 70 in a month
and know one thought it was possible. And now we baptized over 4 times
that in one month. I`m pretty sure our mission is the highest
baptizing mission in the area. If its not the highest its definitely
pretty high up there. Next month we`re gonna hit 300 for sure!

Well this week is gonna be my last real week of work as a missionary
because next week we have to travel to Quito on Tuesday for zone
leader council on Wednesday and then I have interviews and meetings on
Thursday and I come home on Friday. It feels weird that my mission is
coming to an end. Its kinda surreal still. I don’t really know how to
explain it. I think it might be hard to adjust to normal life again.
Hopefully I can adjust quickly. Thank you all for all the love and
support that you have given me over the last 2 years. I`m really lucky
to have such a good family that supports me and encourages me so much.
A lot of missionaries don`t have that. So thank you! Last week will be
my last letter home from the mission. That’s all for this week. I love
you all!

July 18, 2011

Posted on 4:05 PM by Elder Messer | 0 comments

Well this week was pretty normal and seemed to go by pretty fast. On Thursday we had a special training and President and sister Ghent interviewed all the missionaries. Sister Ghent talked to me a lot about BYU and about dads work. They are from Manhattan Beach and say that they know a lot of people that work for Boeing in Huntington Beach. My interview with president Ghent was pretty laid back compared to the interviews that I had with President Sloan. President Sloan would always ask like soul searching questions and was very direct but president Ghent just asked about my family and my life and basically just how I was doing. He said that the last month of the mission in like the last quarter mile in a marathon. Your legs are tired and you are completely exhausted but you can see the finish line and you just have to make your last sprint to the end. I thought it was a good analogy.

We did a service project on Saturday where we piled up a ton of corn stock. I`ll send a picture or 2. It seems like every service we do is something different.

On Sunday we had a rather interesting experience. We were on the bus going to church and when we got off at the church there was a guy that followed us of the bus and he stopped us and started talking to us. It was obvious that he was from Colombia from his accent. He told us that he had been having some weird dreams with weird symbols that he didn`t understand and that one of his friends from Mexico was a member of the church and told him to talk to us about it and that we could help him. He just saw us on the bus and got off where we got off just to talk to us and ask for our help. It was kinda weird but it’s not every day that someone contacts us and asks for help. We invited him to come to church with us but he said that he had some stuff to do so we sent up and appointment for right after church. He said that in his dream he was an angel covered with mud walking through a forest and that in distinct parts of his dream he saw symbols and didn`t know what they meant. It was always the same dream with the same symbols that had been haunting him for years. He drew the symbols on the chalkboard. They were pretty weird. The whole situation was kinda weird. We ended up just giving him a blessing and inviting him to church next week. He probably won’t come though… he seemed kinda crazy.

Lately we`ve basically been on a desperate search for investigators because we don’t really have any good progressing investigators. We found like 8 this week but still no golden ones. My goal is to baptize again before the end of my mission. We`ll see if it happens.

So last week I started buying souvenirs for everyone. I`m already done buying everything for Jason but the rest of you are hard to shop for! I`m gonna buy some more stuff today. I hope you like what I get you all. If anyone wants anything specific please let me know. I decided I’m gonna buy another suit for myself as well. I just have to find somewhere that sells fabric to make a suit.

Well that’s all I really have for this week. I love you all and I`ll talk to you next week!

July 11, 2011

Posted on 1:14 PM by Elder Messer | 0 comments

On Monday night we traveled to quito for Zone leader council on Tuesday and leader meeting on Wednesday. It went really well. I got to met president Ghent for the first time. He`s a really good guy. The first thing that everyone noticed about him is that he is really tall which is a big difference because President Sloan was pretty short. He is a lot different in a lot of other ways as well. He is very calm and laid back which is like the complete opposite from President Sloan. He talks in such a calm humble way and doesn`t really show that much emotion. Sister Ghent is really cool as well. She is learning Spanish and was trying very hard to speak with all the latin missionaries. She is way nice and every time I said thank you to her for something she was like “no, thank YOU, for being on a mission”. They are from Manhattan beach CA which apparently is pretty close to where we use to live.

While we were at zone leader council my whole group got together and started talking about our date to go home. Some were scheduled to go home on the 12th and others on the 19th. Some of us who were scheduled to go home the 19th decided that it would be better to go home on the 12th instead so that we could have more time at home before going to school. A few of us went and talked with president Ghent and he was like “yea I completely understand. When I was stake president we had a few cases where missionaries got home on a Friday and had to leave for school on Monday and it was just not a good situation”. He decided to just send our whole group home on the 12th. Then on Friday the secretaries called me and gave me my flight info. For those of you who don’t know yet here it is: I leave quito on Aug. 12 at 6:40 am and get to Miami at 11:50 am. Then I have a 5 ½ hour layover in Miami until I leave at 5:20 pm and then I get to Denver at 7:30 pm.

Other than that this week was pretty normal. Nothing exciting really happened. My companion goes home in 3 weeks and I`m not gonna lie its kinda hard being in a companionship like this where we both go home really soon… haha. Anyway, I love you all and I`ll talk to you next week.

June 27, 2011

Posted on 10:35 AM by Elder Messer | 0 comments

It’s been a crazy week, that’s for sure! We weren`t able to get much done this week because of all the craziness that has been going on with Inty Raymi. Look up “Inty Raymi Cotacachi” on Google images or YouTube or something if you want to see what it was like. I`m sure they have some pictures or something. We tried to spend as much time out of our sector as possible but we had to run by the house a few times so we saw what it was like. Basically every village has a good of men that walk around stopping their feet on the ground in a specific pattern. They all wear chaps and weird hats with swastikas and other symbols on them. And they are all way drunk. A lot of their wives would walk behind the group to bring beer to their husbands when they wanted and to grab them and keep them from fighting with other groups when they got mad. I felt really bad for the woman. Anyway, they all carry whips and/or big whips and machetes and they go from one corner of the park to the other doing their little dance and yelling and screaming like idiots. The Ecuadorian version of the swat team was there on every corner with smoke bombs and other non-lethal weapons in case any fights broke out. They did get into a few fights but according to what I’ve heard no one has dies yet. The whole environment was just really ugly. When we walked out of the house on Friday morning and the cops were already there I could feel something heavy in the air. I don’t know how to describe it. It was like the spirit had already left that specific place altogether because it knew what was going to happen. Maybe before my mission I wouldn`t have felt it that intensely but I think being on a mission has made me more sensitive to the spirit so I really felt a difference in the atmosphere with all this. It will be the same thing this week because Inty Raymi doesn`t get over until Saturday.

Other than all that it was a great week! Why? BECAUSE WE BAPTIZED THE BONILLA FLORES FAMILY!!!!!!!!!!! Can I just tell you the baptizing a whole family is like that best feeling that a missionary can have. It was wonderful. It was like they have been waiting their whole lives for us to come teach them and baptize them. They will get confirmed next week because this week was stake conference. I`m confident that they will make it to the temple in a year.

Stake conference went really well. President Sloan came and gave 3 talks. And did a miracle…. On Saturday after the priesthood session of stake confidence he started talking with an investigator in the zone that has wanted to get baptized for 9 months but can`t because he is only 17 and his dad won`t give him permission. The missionaries have tried talking with his dad and everything else that they have been able to think of but his dad has been really hard hearted and didn`t want to give him permission. When president Sloan was talking to him he tald him that if he had faith that the lord would soften his dad`s heart. I don’t remember everything he said but I just remember that president promised him that his dad’s heart would soften. The next day he showed up at stake conference and said that his dad had given him permission. I did the baptismal interview and asked him what happened and he said that he went home and prayed really hard so that president Sloan’s promise would be fulfilled, then he went and talked to his dad about it and his dad was still hard hearted but in the middle of the night he came into his room and asked “what do you need to get baptized” and he said “just your signature” and his dad so ok I’ll do it. His dad even showed up to his baptism. It was a really neat experience though to see how president could just promise something like that and see it fulfilled. The kid asked President Sloan to baptize him so he stayed for the baptism even though he had a meeting in Ibarra right after the conference. I guess he just decided that it was an appropriate moment to focus on the one because his meeting was at 1:30 and he didn`t even leave Otavalo until 1:45 and Ibarra is like 30 minutes away. It was a really cool experience to see all that.

We did a special presentation for the conference with a giant book of mormon and we passed out referral cards to all the members as they entered. President challenged them to give referrals in his talk and we ended up getting 28 for the whole zone so that was good. Hopefully some of them will be golden.

This weekend was presidents last weekend in Ecuador. The new president gets here on Thursday, President Ghent. I think he’s from California. Its gonna be interesting to see what things will change with the new mission president.
Thanks for the package mom! I loved it!!!!
That’s all I have for this week. I love you all. Talk to you next week!

June 20, 2011

Posted on 8:33 PM by Elder Messer | 0 comments

Well first things first… Happy Fathers day dad!

This was a good week. The Bonilla Flores family seems to get more golden every day. They are seriously the most golden family that I`ve taught in my whole mission. This week they went to church and had their baptismal interviews and are getting baptized next week after stake conference. I`m really glad I didn`t get changed today because it seems to be a repeating occurrence in my mission that right when I’m about to baptize a family they change me. It happened when I left Esmeraldas and they got baptized the week after I left and they baptized a family that I had found in Ambato as well. But for once in my mission I didn`t get changed and I will finally be able to experience the joy of baptizing a family. This week we taught them about temples and eternal families and they are already way excited to go to the temple in a year. SO GOLDEN!!!

This week we had a special training with President Sloan and it was the last training that we will have with him. It was kind of sad and really “trunky”. At the end we sang “God be with you till we meet again” and then we all lined up and sister and President Sloan said goodbye to everyone one by one. Sister Sloan even gave all the elders hugs…. First time I’ve hugged a female since hugging Lindsey right before going into the MTC…kind of weird. When I was saying bye to them Sister Sloan was like “Oh you`re going to be at BYU right? We`ll see you in a couple of months then.” And president was like “yea we`re going to have mission reunions every weekend”. It was kind of weird because it was like saying goodbye but not really because they live like 20 minutes from Provo.

So this week is Inti raimi. That means “Sun god” in quichua. It’s a huge party with a bunch of crazy indigenous traditions… especially in cotacachi right where we live. There is a park right in front of our house and every year for Inti raimi all the indigenous from the different villages come to the park and play music and dance. Each village has a specific hour that they are suppose to dance. But there are 2 villages that are like enemies and they always try to dance during the other village’s time and it always turns into a big fight with rock throwing, whips, and guns. According to what everyone has told me people die every year and the police can`t do anything. They just show up and throw gas bombs and then leave and the indigenous people just stay and keep fighting each other. Our bishop used to live in the house that we live in and he said that it was like watching a war scene in really life from the window. I talked with the missionary that was here last year at this time and he said that he saw someone die and that the tear gas from the bombs got into the house. I`m not sure what we`ll do. I think we might just go work with other missionaries in their sector on Friday and Saturday because those are the worst days. This week in church the bishop gave a very direct talk about traditions and told the members that they shouldn`t go to the park this week to participate in the music or dances. He spoke in quichua but I understood like 50 % of what he said and it was a powerful talk. Anyway this week should be interesting but don`t worry there’s not really any danger for us. I would just prefer to not see people dying.
Well that’s all I have for this week. I love you all! Talk to you next week!

May and June

Posted on 8:22 AM by Elder Messer | 0 comments

June 13, 2011

Well i`ll be honest, I don`t really know what to write about this week… It was a pretty normal un-eventful week. I`ll try and make this a good letter but no promises…

The zone has been having a lot of problems lately, in the last 2 weeks we`ve only baptized 1 person and have only found 8 families between 4 companionships. We had a meeting this week with the stake presidency to try and get them to help us because we depend so much on the members here because of the difficulties with the language and with everything being so far apart. We told them about our struggles and asked for there help. Their response wasn`t really what we were hoping for. One of the councilors suggested that we stop inviting people to be baptized in the first lesson because it scares them away. Then the stake president Suggested that when we find a family we should ask them when we can come back instead of saying “can we come back on such a day?” because that scars them away too. They said that in their missions they did things differently. We tried to explain as gently as we could that things have changed a lot since their missions and we explained a little bit about the doctrine of Christ and our purpose as missionaries but I don’t think they got it very well. We told President Sloan what happened when he called us today and he said that he wants us to go teach each member of the stake presidency a special lesson in their homes with their families about the Doctrine of Christ and that the whole zone should teach the same thing to their bishops before the upcoming stake conference. Then in the stake conference in priesthood session he is going to teach the same thing to back us up. On the phone this morning President told me, ”Don`t worry Elder Messer, This won`t be the first time that humble 19 and 20 year old servants of the lord have taught bishops and stake presidents what the Doctrine of Christ really is”. Hopefully it all goes well in these upcoming 2 weeks and we can see a lot of improvements.

The half way good news for this week is that the Father of the Bonilla Flores family went to church. His wife couldn`t make it because their baby daughter got really sick with a fever for the second week in a row and she had to take her to the hospital. But the Dad went and really liked in. if the mom goes to church this week and next week they will be able to get baptized the first week in July. Keep them in your prayers! So far they are the most golden family that I have ever taught in my mission.
Other than that it was a very normal week. So that’s all I have for this week. I love you all and I`ll write again next week!

June 6, 2011

Well this week was good like almost every other week. On Tuesday we had zone leader conference which was fun as usual. It was presidents last zone leader conference before he goes home so it was kinda a tender day for everyone. President Started telling us a lot about his wife and even told us the story of when they met for the first time. It was pretty funny. Then he started talking a lot about marriage and started telling us how important it was to not delay marriage and to start looking as soon as we get back. He said we should apply what we have learned on the mission to finding a wife when we get back. We need to talk with everyone and invite girls in the first date. We should always have 9 progressing girls, but we should always be looking for new girls at the same time… haha it was pretty funny… I guess you just had to be there.

The next day we passed by the mission offices before going home and they had my “Trunky Paper” waiting for me. That’s what they send to all the missionaries who are getting ready to go home. I had to fill it out with a bunch of info like what ward and stake I will be returning to and what airport I will fly into. I filled it out as fast as I could so that I wouldn`t have to think about it too much. While I was in the office a bunch of missionaries were looking up there houses on Google earth so I told them our address so that they could look up our house and it looks like mom got her photo taken by google earth because there is a lady in front of our house that looks just like you mom. Your basically famous in the mission now. Haha

Last week the bishop gave us a referral of a family that works for him. The Bonilla Flores family. We have been teaching them and they are progressing very well. They read and pray and they were gonna go to church this week but their daughter got sick and they had to take her to the hospital on Sunday. Hopefully this upcoming week they can attend church. They have accepted a baptismal date and everything.

Our other investigator that had a baptismal date isn`t progressing quite as well. We went to visit him on Saturday and right as we got there we found him walking out of his house with a huge case of beer. We tried to stop him and ask if we could share something with him but he just said “I`m busy right now” and walked away. He went to the village party (to celebrate a catholic baptism) and got completely wasted. We`ve been trying to help him stop drinking for like 2 months now but he isn`t really showing much progress or a desire to stop so I think we might have to drop him for now.

Anyway, other that that I don’t really have much to tell you all about. I just send some pictures as well because pictures are a lot better than a letter anyway… at least that’s what I think. I love you all!

p.s. a returned missionary from 3 years ago that is back visiting with his wife just saw us and came up and asked to take a picture with us…… that might be me someday haha….

May 30, 2011

Well this week has been a rather busy one. We were only able to teach 8 lessons because we spent so much time out of our sector but I still consider it a good week. On Tuesday we had zone conference which always lasts pretty much all day. It was really good though. We learned a lot about spiritual gifts and the importance of seeking them in order to overcome our weaknesses. I had to direct the conference which was a first for me but it was pretty simple. My companion and I had to teach the rest of the missionaries as well about giving hope to people through the atonement. We taught some fairly simple stuff. We read in Moroni 10:22 and Moroni 7:41 and talked about how almost all of the investigators feel a degree of despair in their lives for the sins that they have committed or are committing. And when we show up with the spirit it only makes them feel even worse. That’s why a lot of them try and “run away” from us and aren`t there when we show up for the 2nd appointment or our busy or decided that they aren`t interested any more. They feel guilt and shame in our presence and it’s easier for them to “run away” and not have to be in our presence. It’s like when Adam and Eve tried to hide from God after they ate the fruit. They felt guilt and being in God’s presence only made it worse. That’s why it’s so important as missionaries to always testify of the Atonement which is the ultimate and only source of real hope like it explains in Moroni 7:41. We have to leave the investigator with enough hope to overcome the guilt that they feel in our presence so that they don`t run away from us and so that they keep listening to us. At the beginning of my mission I always wondered why people were so flakey with us and why they would always hide or give us excuses but know I understand a little more. And In a way I understand how we will all feel arriving to God’s presence if we haven’t repented and taken advantage of the Atonement in our lives. It really will be like Moroni describes in Mormon 9:3-6. Anyway, I always learn a ton when I have to prepare to teach something. On Wednesday we had a normal day.

On Thursday we had a mission conference in Quito. They told us that Elder Scott was going to come but something happened and he couldn`t make it so they sent Elder Gonzalez from the presidency of the 70 instead. It was a really good conference. He basically just let us ask him questions the whole time. It was amazing our much doctrine he could just pull out without having to think twice about it. He was almost as good as Brother Bott with quoting Prophets and scriptures off the top of his head. He was really funny as well. It was a really good conference and I learned a lot. I didn`t really learn that much stuff that was completely new but I guess I just understood better things that I already knew. I feel like being on a mission I have gained a simpler but deeper understanding of the gospel. It’s kinda hard to explain…. I guess it’s just the result of learning from the spirit and not with my own knowledge. Simple principles that I didn`t even think twice about before the mission now mean so much more to me… It’s kinda cool. On Friday we spent the whole day outside of our sector trying to help other missionaries in the zone. In the mission we are “playing swarm defense”…. It’s a defensive strategy in football that says that everyone on the team goes after the person that has the ball. It is different than a man on man defense or a zone defense. Basically it works like this: Whenever anyones investigator in the zone has a problem we go to try and help them even if it means leaving behind our own sector. We have to “follow the ball” and go wherever there is a challenge or opposition. So that’s what we did on Friday. My companion went with one companionship and I went with another and we tried to “rescue” investigators that were having problems.

On Saturday we had another normal day…although Saturdays are anything but normal here in Otavalo… Everyone and their Dog go to the market to sell and/or buy. It makes things hard as a missionary. Sunday was normal as well. The bishop was kind enough to drive us around in his car all day so that we didn`t have to walk hours to all the little villages. He took us to some of his friends as well so now we have a new family to teach. They look like they could have potential. Anyway, that’s about it for my week. This week should be another busy one. We are traveling to Quito tonight and will get back on Wednesday because tomorrow we have zone leaders council. I`m looking forward to it like always. It should be fun. Anyway, thanks for everything. I love you all! Until next week!

May 23, 2011
Well I guess I´ll start telling you all a little bit about last week because I didn´t really get to write last week. It was a good week. We had 5 baptisms so I can´t really complain. Lisbeth, Joselyn, Israel, Kevin, and Maribel. They were all baptized in the ward that the missionaries haven’t gone to in forever. Lisbeth and Kevin are the children of a family that just barely became active again after 8 years. The Sunday that we showed up to church in Carabueala was the first Sunday that they went to church after8 years. It was like we showed up just at the right time. Israel and Joselyn are kids that have been going to church every week for a long time that were of baptismal age but had never been baptized. All we did was show up and ask them if they wanted to be baptized and they said “yes we´ve been waiting for the missionaries to come baptize us”. Maribel is the bishops sister in law. Her husband is a member and she had been going to church for a longtime. She had listened to the missionaries before but didn´t want to get baptized before because she is latin and doesn´t understand quichua so she has no idea what’s going on in church. We showed up at her house one night and taught baptism and invited her to be baptized and 2 weeks later she got baptized. I feel like we had 5 free baptisms. But that’s alright….I like free baptisms. There was some opposition on the day of the baptism though….. The font wouldn´t fill up. We got to the church about an hour before the baptism and went and checked the font and water was coming out and going right down the drain. The person that tried to fill up the font had just but a piece of plastic and a rock over the drain but it wasn´t working…. I´m not gonna lie, I wasn´t surprised. I think probably over 80% of the baptisms that I’ve had on my mission have had problems filling the font. Anyway, we got it figured out and closed the drain so that the font would fill but at 5 when the baptism was supposed to start there wasn´t enough water so we had to delay the baptism another hour. On top of that about half of the ward had gone to tulcan and Maribel went with them so there weren´t many members there and one of the people that was supposed to get baptized wasn´t there either. So we ended up having 2 baptismal services. 1 at 6 and the other at 8. But at the end of the day everyone got baptized that was supposed to so it was a success. Maribel´s husband baptized her and it was a really special experience.
Other than that last week was pretty normal. We did find a guy bathing himself in the chapel though…. I guess he didn´t have running water in his house. It was a little bit awkward when we walked in and he had his shirt off throwing water on himself. Haha

This week was pretty good as well. It was pretty normal but I did have one experience that is worth telling. On Friday I did a baptismal interview in which the guy I was interviewing confessed that he had been unfaithful to his wife (she was already a member). I told him that in order to get baptized he needed to confess to his wife and ask for forgiveness. He said he would do it and I told him that I would be at his baptism the next day to verify that he had done it. So the next day we went early to his baptism and he walked in with his family and his wife was in tears. I took the guy into a room and asked him if he had done what I asked him to do and he began to tell me that he had but that his wife hadn´t taken it very well. We had a very emotional/good conversation and I told him that it might take some time but that he would be able to recuperate his relationship with his wife. When we walked out I noticed that his wife was in an interview with the bishop. It was way dramatic and we were all worried that his baptism wouldn´t be a good experience because of all the drama. The wife could hardly keep from crying during the opening hymn. But then my companion gave a powerful talk about the cleansing power of the atonement and then he got baptized and afterwards he gave a powerful testimony (It was in quichua but I could still feel that it was a powerful testimony). Then after the baptismal service was over we went and shook the wives hand and she started crying and saying thank you to the missionaries that had taught and baptized her husband and said that everything was gonna be ok. Elder Merrill told me today that they were holding hands at church and that they are doing great now. It was a really cool experience for me because I got to witness first hand and be a part of the healing and forgiving power of the atonement. It’s amazing the things that can be healed and made right thanks to what Christ did. That man isn´t the same person anymore. He is a new creature born through the atonement of Christ. All his sins and mistakes and behind him and someday he will be able to be sealed with his family in the temple, thanks to the miracle of forgiveness.

Well that’s all I have for now. I haven’t written this in a while but I really am very sorry to you people that still write me so consistently that I haven’t written in so long!!!!! But thank you soooo much for your letters!!! It makes my day every time I get a letter!!! Anyway, I love you all!

May 9, 2011

Well there’s not really that much to talk about this week since I just talked to you all yesterday. It was a pretty slow week here as well. On Tuesday we had zone leader’s council. It was good like always. On Wednesday we had leaders meeting and on Wednesday night we got back to cotacachi just in time to sleep. The rest of the week went pretty fast. Lisbeth didn`t get baptized this week because her mom still wont give her permission. Bummer! Shes so golden and its so frustrating that we cant baptize her but oh well…. I`m sure she´ll get baptized someday, even if i`m not here to see it. This upcoming weekend we are planning to have 4 baptisms: Estrella, Kevin, Joselyn, and Maribel. They all had their interviews on Sunday and all passed except for Maribel. She has to have an interview with president sloan so hopefully we can get that done this week. Other than that theres not really any big news. I stared buying suvoniers today. So far i have scarfs for like 15 different soccer teams and some other pretty scarfs for Mom and Desi. I already told you this but I guess I`ll say it again… Elder Scott is coming to our mission and we are having a 4 hour conference with him on the 26th of this month. I`m pretty excited. They made it very clear that members are not invited. Its only for full time missionaries. Other than that I dont really have much to tell you. Happy mothers day again mom! It was kinda wierd talking on skype yesterday knowing that the next time I see you all will be in 3 months in person. Anyway, I love you all and hope you have a wonderful week!
-Elder Brandon Messer

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May 2, 2011

Posted on 11:48 AM by Elder Messer | 0 comments

Well this will probably be a short letter because we have to travel to quito today and we need to get going to make it on time. It was a good week. We have 2 wards in our sector; Cotacachi and carabuela. They are kinda far apart and its hard to work in both wards so for a really long time the missionaries have just been working in cotacachi because that’s where we live and the ward is stronger there. But last week we decided to go see what carabuela was like and if there was any potential so we went to church last week and this week we spent some more time over there. It turns out that there is potential in cotacachi. We found 4 people that go to church every week that aren`t members. 2 of them are kids of an active family that are 9 and 11 that were never baptized when they were 8…. So its basically like 2 free baptisms… although it might not be that easy because he has a ridiculous fear of water…. We`ll see what we can do. Another one is the 9-year-old son of a family that was inactive for 8 years but is now coming back to church. And the last one is the bishops sister in law that has been coming to church for a long time and says that she wants to get baptized. So basically it was like a gold mine for baptisms!
We have an investigator named Lisbeth that comes to church every week, goes to young woman’s activities during the week and is basically a “dry member”. She is everything a member is except for being baptized. The only reason that she doesn`t get baptized is because her dad is CRAZY!!!!!!!!!! He yells at us every time he sees us and hates us and the church. But this week in church she said that she wants to get baptized before the ward goes to the temple next week so that she can go too and do baptisms for the dead. She said that she’s just gonna talk with her mom and get permission from her and do it without telling her dad. That’s what her brother did like 5 months ago and everything turned out good so she says that she wants to do the same. Hopefully it all works out and we baptized her next week.
This week we had 13 investigators at church. There were actually 14 but we didn`t know one of them and didn`t get a chance to meet her and set up an appointment because she left so quick so we didn`t count here. The Sundays when 13 people show up are the Sundays when I feel very grateful to be serving in Latin America. Hopefully all of those people can get baptized. It looks like we have a lot of potential this month.
This week we will be in Quito until Thursday for meetings so its gonna be a busy week trying to get caught up with all our investigators when we get back. But it will be fun to go to Quito. It always is. I always get to see all my friends from other zones and eat in presidents house and play kickball and whatnot.
I`m looking forward to talking to you all on mothers day!!!!!!
Is there anything specific that you guys what me to bring back from Ecuador. I`m gonna make a list now so that I have time to get it all. If you want any movies they cost a buck here so just let me know if you want me to bring back any. Jason the sells scarfs for any of the big soccer teams like Barcelona or real Madrid or whatever team that is pretty popular. Do you want any? They also have pretty scarfs for girls, beanies, llama jackets, jewelry, purses, bags… and a lot of other stuff. Maybe you can look on the internet and find more options. Just look for stuff that they sell in Otavalo, Ecuador. Anyway, if you just give me some ideas or make a list or something I can start buying when I find good prices. Its all pretty cheap and I owe everyone 2 birthday presents and 2 Christmas presents so what do you want?
Anyway that’s all I have for this week. I love you all!


April 25, 2011

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April 25, 2011

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April 18, 2011

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April 18, 2011

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Well this week was pretty normal I`d have to say. On Tuesday president Sloan came and we had a special training. He talked a lot about what it means to be working with the indigenous people and all the promises that are made to the lamanites in the Book of Mormon. Over the last few weeks I have been reading the book of Mormon highlighting all the promises given to the lamanites and its pretty cool since I go out and work with them every day. When President Sloan was a missionary he was in Bolivia and was on special assignment for his whole mission to just work with the indigenous people. He spoke quechua (almost like quichua but not quite). He told us a cool story. One day he and his companion were getting ready in the morning and an old indigenous man knocked on their door. President Sloan said that by the way he was dressed he knew that he was from a different village because the indigenous dress differently depending on the village that they live in. the first thing the guy said was, “Are you the ones that have a book about the white god that visited this people hundreds of years ago?”. President Sloan asked him who told him that they were there and he said started telling them that before his grandfather died he promised him that someday 2 white men would come that has a book about the white god that visited the Americas and that he had to find them and follow them. President Sloan and his companion taught him for 6 hours straight, answered all his questions, and then he got baptized. It was a crazy story. It’s easy to see how the prophecies about the lamanites are being completed. I think the church is stronger here in Otavalo with the indigenous than any other place that I`ve been in my mission. The people are just so happy and humble and firm. The retention rate here is like 95% which is ridiculously high for Latin America.
We went back and saw Carlos this week. He’s doing really well but he does have a pretty nasty scare on his forehead. He doesn`t speak Spanish so we had to teach through a translator and that’s always kinda hard. He said he might come to church this week but I don’t know if he went because he would have gone to the ward that we never go to. He also asked for another blessing because he is getting surgery tomorrow to fix a hernia that he has.
The Mantillas didn`t end up getting baptized this week because the dad went to work in Quito and his boss made him stay until Sunday. It’s kinda hard with them because they don’t have a phone and there is almost no way to get a hold of them besides making the epic journey up to their house in the middle of nowhere. And it makes it even harder that they don`t speak Spanish very well. But hopefully he`ll come back in time this week so that he can get baptized.
We have another family of investigators that have come to church 2 weeks in a row that live even further than the mantillas. They are the Licinchano Lambchimba family. We are hoping that they get baptized on the 30th but it’s kinda hard with them as well because they speak even less Spanish and live soooooooooooo far away. It takes like half an hour to get there in taxi but we definitely don`t have enough money to pay for a taxi every day so we can`t visit them as much as we would like. The bishop has a car and can take us sometimes but he’s pretty busy and can`t go as much as we want. But hopefully a miracle happens and somehow they can get baptized soon.
We`ve been teaching a family called the Cevallos family for about a month now. The dad used to drink and they had a ton of problems but he had stopped drinking and they have been doing pretty good lately. Yesterday night we went unexpectedly to see if we could share something short and when we got there the dad was drunk and everyone was crying and screaming. It was pretty dramatic. It’s crazy how often I have found myself in situations like that and its crazy how married adults look to 20 year old boys to help them solve their marriage problems. We helped them calm down and basically just talked to the wife about what she could do to help her husband and her family. We didn`t really talk to the dad because he was wasted and I`m pretty sure by now he doesn`t remember anything. It was cool to feel the difference in the spirit that was there when we got there and when we left. It was a complete change. When we got there everyone was yelling and screaming and when we left everyone was calm and felt a lot better.
That’s pretty sad that JoJo died☹. I`m sure she’s loving it in the spirit world though!
Anyway, I love you all! Thanks for everything! Talk to ya next week!

April 15, 2011

Posted on 1:38 PM by Elder Messer | 0 comments

Well this week was pretty good. On Tuesday morning we got a call from one of the bishops in our stake saying that the river by his first councilor’s factory had overflowed and that he needed out help to get all the water out. So we hurried and got dressed in our service close, went and rounded up the other missionaries, and went to help. Let’s just say it was the dirtiest service project that I have ever done. There was mud all over the place and in some parts it was almost up to our knees. We just started scooping it up with buckets and dumping it into wheelbarrows and talking it back out to the river. We all got mud all over us (I`ll try and send a picture next week) but luckily when we finished they had a high pressure water gun and sprayed us all off and we went home soaking wet instead of covered in mud.
We had a baptism his week. Geovani Maiwa got baptized. He’s a 17 year old indigenous guy. He was basically more than golden. The missionaries contacted him in the street about 4 months ago and then never saw him again until he came to church 4 weeks ago. We started teaching him and he got baptized on Saturday. He says that he wants to go on a mission. Hes probably the strongest convert that i`ve had on my mission so far. The indigenous people are very loyal. When they decide to join the church they don`t go inactive very easily. I guess its just part of their lamanite blood.
On Sunday night we went to visit the Mantilla family with our bishop. All are members except for the dad and one 12 year old daughter. They live WAY out in the mountains in a little village called Topo grande (Big mole). They don`t speak that much Spanish so the bishop just started talking to them in quichua. After about half an hour of not understanding anything the bishop turned to me and asked if the dad and daughter could be baptized this weekend. I said that if they passed the baptismal interview that they could and gave the baptismal interview questions to the bishop. He then proceeded to verify their knowledge in quichua and said that they knew all the questions expect for a few commandments. The problem is that the dad works in quito all week long and is only home on Saturday nights and Sundays. So this Saturday at 4 we`re gonna go with the bishop to teach the rest of the commandments and at 5 they`re gonna have his interview and on Sunday morning they`re gonna get baptized right before church and then get confirmed. The dad used to be a drunk. A few weeks ago we ran into him in the street and he was wasted off of his rocker. But apparently y hasn`t drank since then and is really repented and wants to get baptized. Hes been coming to church for over a months´. Long story short we should have 2 baptisms th¡s weekend if all goes well. We didn`t even really do anything to deserve these baptisms because we can`t really even communicate that well with these people. All we did was set up the appointment and ask the bishop to come with us and he did the rest. Our bishop is really good. He’s probably the best bishop I’ve had on my mission. Hes way rich too. I think his house is bigger than ours.
I think I forgot to mention it last week but our mission has been doing really good lately. We had 256 baptisms in March which is a new mission record. And until this point we have doubled the number of baptisms from last year. I`m pretty sure we are the best mission in the area right now which is incredible because we used to be one of the worst. Hopefully we can keep it up in the upcoming months.
Well that’s all I really have for this week. Thanks for all your support. I love you all! I`ll try and send pictures next week. This computer won`t let me do it this week.


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March 29, 2011

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Hey everyone! Well I guess i`ll start with the news from last week since I didn`t really write anything last week. It was a pretty good week. On Tuesday we went and did a service helping someone build a house. They had 2 HUGE truck loads of cinder blocks so we had to unload them all and carry them a little ways to the spot where they were gonna build the house. I don`t think my arms have ever been so tired in my entire life. They felt like they were about to fall off. Seriously all we did for like 4 house was carry cinderblocks. We didn`t even get to start building because by the time we had unloaded all the blocks we had to go because we had an appointment.
Later that day we had to do a baptismal interview for a lady that wanted to get baptized in the zone. I did the interview but it wasn`t exactly a normal interview because the lady didn`t speak Spanish. It was an old indigenous lady that only spoke quichua so her grandson had to be there to translate. It was an interesting experience trying to determine whether or not someone was ready for baptism when I didn`t understand her and had to rely on a translator. And it was kinda weird asking such personal questions about worthiness with her grandson as the translator. I guess I really had to try and depend on the spirit to tell me whether or not she should get baptized. After all was said and done I felt like she was ready and gave her the OK.
Last Sunday there was a return missionary that gave a talk in quichua so I didn`t understand anything but then he said “BYU” and about a minute later mentioned “Brigham Young University”. I didn`t understand what he said but it caught my attention that he mentioned BYU. So after the meeting I asked him what he was saying (He speaks Spanish, English, and Japanese as well) and he told me that he had stoped in Utah on his way home from Japan and his ex mission president took him to BYU and that while he was there he just thought it was the best place in the world because the temple is right there and there are a ton of beautiful mormon girls and that his life would probably be a lot easier if he went and studied there but he doesn`t go because the prophets have commanded people to build up zion in their own lands. I thought it was kinda funny…. Other missionaries and some members talk to me about BYU all the time and they always get jealous about how there are so many members there are and all the opportunities there are… especially to get married. Haha
On Saturday we were walking down the street and ran into 2 members from Oklahoma. The guy served his mission here 10 years ago and was visiting with his wife. They said that they have family in Castle rock that live by the outlet mall. Steve and Elizabeth Kramerk or chris and ann Candi… do those names sound familiar. I assume they are in the other ward…. The people that I met were the Bomans.
This week was a good week as well. We had a new family come to church for the first time on Sunday. The Cevallos Narvaez family. They were references that we received from a member about 2 weeks ago and the only way to describe them is golden. They are way open to us and always read the chapters that we leave for them to read. The wife isn`t as receptive as the husband but she is still way receptive. The husband used to be an alcoholic but hasn`t drank since we started teaching them. They have a baptismal date for this month.
Last Sunday a 17 year old guy showed up to church named Giovani, We have been teaching him this week and he came to church again yesterday and has a baptismal date as well. He says that he wants to be a missionary like us.
Basically I love this sector. We have a good program and get a lot of references and things are looking up.
This week Elder Warr and I went to do baptismal interviews for 2 little girls who are older than 8 and their parents are becoming active again. After the interview we both asked them who they wanted to baptize them and they both said us. I tried to convince the one that I interviewed that it would be better if the missionaries that taught her baptized her but she was pretty stubborn so I just ended up baptizing her. That’s why I sent home baptism pictures.
Elder Warr got changed today so now i`m with Elder Quexel. He is from Guatamala and has the same amount of time in the mission as me. I was kinda sad that elder Warr left after only 4 weeks together. He was probably my favorite companion so far. We had a ton in common. But that’s how the mission is. I`m sure i`ll have fun with Elder Quexel! Well that’s all I have for this week. Thanks grandma messer for the package!!!! I loved it!!!!! I love you all. Talk to you next week!


March 7, 2011

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Ali Chishi familiataika. Imanaisha takangichi? Na cani maki faki.This place is absolutely crazy!!!!! This has definitely been the craziest/funnest week of my whole mission. We live in a small town about 2 minutes from Otavalo called Cotacachi. So far I love it. It’s a really nice/clean town. We live right next to a really nice park and have a cool view of a huge catholic church on the other side of the park when we look out or kitchen window. Otavalo and Cotacachi are huge tourist places and there are a ton of Americans that do business down here or that come to do humanitarian aid. There is an elderly couple that lives right around the corner from us that are from Nauvoo. They are called the Howell family. They are members of the church that just came down here to help the indigenous to raise there standard of living. They are really nice and fun. They give us nice home cooked American food whenever we want it. Yesterday we had taco soup for dinner and it was delicious. They are only 2 of the American people down here though. On Saturday we went to eat in a restaurant and some guy from Ohio walked in and was like “Oh you guys are down here too”… then another American guy sitting there said, “of course they are. They don`t let them back into Utah until they have saved enough souls”. It was kinda funny. We talked to them a bit and one of them ended up giving us 5 bucks to pay for our lunch and asked us to say a prayer for his granddaughter that has a brain tumor. Just barely when we were walking to this internet café we ran into 2 professors from Utah State University that are down here on an agriculture project. They were members. Anyway, it’s basically like a crazy mix of tourism, latins, and lamanites (Indigenous people). Sometimes I get confused when I here people speaking English, Spanish, and quichua at the same time.
Our stake is a quichua stake so we only teach people that speak quichua. It’s kinda difficult because there are a lot of Spanish speakers here but we can`t teach them and baptize them because they wouldn`t understand anything at church. If we find Spanish speakers we are supposed to refer them to the sister missionaries in the Otavalo zone but my companion says that they never come to cotacachi because they have their own sector and ours is kinda far away. We are going to baptize a latin this week though because he has been attending church in a Spanish ward in Ibarra. But he has been being taught here and is friends with the Howells so he counts as our baptism.
So Monday through Wednesday we were in Quito for some meetings. I first got to Cotacachi on Wednesday night so I had my first experience with teaching here on Thursday night after district meeting. Our sector is Cotacachi and a bunch of little villages in the mountains that surround us. Most of the indigenous people live in the little villages so we have to go teach them there and it takes a long time to get to some of them. Anyway, we went to visit a family on Thursday and we couldn`t get a member to go with us so we tried to teach them in Spanish. Most of the indigenous people now at least a little bit of Spanish. They speak about as well as I spoke when I had been in Ecuador for about a month. So we tried to teach them in Spanish but it was kinda rough because they didn`t understand very well. All I could think to do was try to help them feel loved and not focus so much on teaching the doctrine. I figured that love was something that you can`t misunderstand. We`re definitely gonna try and go with a member to translate next time. There are actually quite a few indigenous people that speak Spanish so its not always that hard. But its definitely an adventure out here.
I bore my testimony yesterday in church. I started of saying “Ali punja whyki kuna y pani kuna” (Good morning brothers and sisters) in quichua and I think I got a smile out of every single person there. It must be funny/cute watching some white kid try and learn their native language… haha. Speaking of church…..I was soo lost…. 3 hours of quichua was quite an experience.
All the men here have pony tails and I`m not really sure how to describe the dress of the woman. Just look up Otavalo on Google and I’m sure you can find some good pictures of the way they dress. Its hard to tell the difference between little boys and little girls because they all have pony tails and look the same.
The food here is pretty gross. Its usually just rice and potatoes without any type of flavoring and a piece of chicken. Its hard to eat it all when its all so plain.
The people here are literal descendants of the lamanites. Its pretty cool that I am actually fulfilling book of mormon prophesy when I teach and baptize them. Check out some scriptures that my companion showed me that talk about the lamanites …. Alma 9:16-17, Helaman 15:1-16
Its carnival this week so everyone is throwing water on each other outside. Luckily we haven’t been hit yet. Its relatively calm here compared to how crazy it was in Esmeraldas last year.
Happy birthday Desi!!!!!!!!!! Are you really already 12?! Crazy!!!!! Like I say everytime someone has a birthday… I`ll bring you a present in 6 months! Love you!
I can’t think of anything else to tell you so if you have any questions just ask and I’ll try and answer them in my next letter. I love you all. Thanks for everything. Thanks for the letter and the pictures Lindsey! They were pretty gnarley…. I hope I never have to get staples in my head!!! I`ll talk to you all next week!!!!


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February 23, 2011

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Well this week was a pretty good week. We had a baptism and found 3 new families so I can`t really complain. Our baptism was a 10 year old girl named Nicole. Everyone in her family is a member but they have been inactive for a while. Over the past couple of months we have been visiting them and little by little they have been coming back to church. They have a lot of problems in their home and to be honest are very prideful and hard to help but we have been doing our best and they have been coming to church about every other week. Hopefully Nicole’s baptism will motivate them to keep coming and to keep improving. The baptismal service was good and bad at the same time… let me explain. It was good because that same day we had an open house in the stake center so there were a lot of members there but it was bad because there were only 2 members from our ward…the bishop and his wife. I guess it’s not hard to see why there was only 1 baptism in all of 2010. But hey if you look at it from a positive perspective we`ve already baptized as many people this year as all of last year and its only February! All of the missionaries in the zone were at Nicole’s baptism so we formed a small choir and I played the guitar while everyone sang “Nearer my God to Thee”. It turned out really good considering that almost no one in Ecuador has any musical talent. Here I sing well…. Can you believe that?! Haha
Anyway like I said we had a open house on Saturday. We had been planning it with the high council member in charge of missionary work for a long time and had everything planned out wonderfully…. But it didn`t turn out that great because all the members got there really late and not very many people brought friends. Each ward was assigned to a subject to talk about for 3-5 minutes. For example 1 ward was assigned to the restoration, another to the book of Mormon, another to temples, ect…. The investigators were supposed to come in and go from room to room learning a little bit about each subject. But they all got there late and weren´t organized at all. One ward got there half an hour late and started to set up their room and by the time they were finished 2 and a half hours later the open house was already over. They were supposed to come at 11 am to set up and be ready to start at 2 but apparently nobody thought it was necessary to come that early… I`m not gonna lie…. I wasn`t surprised haha. But at least we learned a lot about how to make it better for next time.
Random Story: My companion and I were walking to an appointment on Wednesday and we ran into a random member from Colombia. He recognized us and came up and started talking to us. He said that he was a member from Colombia and that he used to be the elders quorum president. We asked him where he lived now and he told us that he traveled all around Ecuador selling trash bags on buses and in the streets. I thought that was a kinda weird thing to do but then he explained his story. Apparently he worked for the government in Colombia and somehow was involved in some legal case against a rebel group in Colombia so the rebel group tried to kill him but he escaped to Ecuador but can`t just live in one spot because the rebel group can find him and kill him. He is trying to get all his documents changed and his name changed and he is trying to get a visa to Spain to escape. My companion told me that a situation like that was normal and that almost all the Columbians that come to Ecuador come for stuff like that. Apparently the Ecuadorian government helps them a lot to escape.

On Saturday my companion and I were walking home at about 8:40 pm. We passed by the Chicazia family`s house and as we passed by I had the impression to stop by and remind them about church on Sunday. We knocked on the door and they came out and let us in. It turned out that the oldest son had come home drunk and started beating his mom and the dad had stepped in to defend the mom and beat up the son and called the police and the police came and took the son to jail. We were able to calm them down a little and help them restore peace in their home. It was a cool experience because we weren`t planning on visiting them but the spirit told us that we needed to.

On Sunday My companion and I gave talks in church. The ward mission leader was supposed to give a talk as well but never showed up. I talked about a talk that elder Oaks gave in 2001 called the challenge of becoming or something like that. It talks about how the gospel isn`t just about having a testimony… It is about becoming something. It isn`t enough to just know. It isn`t enough to just know and do. We have to know and do with real intent and real desires so that we become. We can`t just go through the motions and expect to receive eternal life. The gospel isn`t just to know or do. It is to be. I have visited a lot of inactive members that have very strong testimonies. The problem is that they don’t do anything to act on their testimonies. At the same time there are a lot of active members that have testimonies and that go to church and do a lot of good things but they don’t do it with real intent so as to let themselves be molded and changed by their actions. They never become something. Its like it says in Moroni 7…. If a man makes an offering or prays without real intent it doesn`t profit him. Joseph smith waited 2 years after reading James 1:5 before he prayed and received his answer. I imagine in those 2 years he strived constantly to change his desires and to make them pure and real so that he could receive an answer. God will always grant us the desire of our hearts. If we aren`t receiving something it is because the desire hasn`t been etched onto our heart. If we go to church week after week and don’t feel like we are getting better and becoming what we need to be it is because we don’t desire it enough.

Anyway, sorry for that little doctrinal spill…, that’s all I have for this week. But before I finish I want to ask a favor of everyone at BYU that reads my blog. I have to register for classes in April and I don’t really have that much time to research things and pick classes and teachers and all that. I have to take the civilization1 credit, 4 religion credits, and I’m gonna take Spanish 321 and I’m thinking about calc and chem 105. If anyone has any suggestions about what classes to take or which teachers to take them from or which teachers to avoid PLEASE WRITE ME through dearelder and let me know!!! i would be very grateful! Ok that’s all I have for now. I love you all.

Posted on 2:31 PM by Elder Messer | 0 comments

February 7, 2011

Posted on 2:27 PM by Elder Messer | 0 comments

Hey everyone. I had another good week here in Ambato. On Monday we traveled to Quito to have dinner in presidents house and a doctrine class and we stayed the night to go to Zone leader council on Tuesday. It was good. I learned a lot from the other missionaries and we have a lot of new ideas to try here in Ambato. The mission set a new record this month: 206 baptisms. This is the first time that we`ve had more than 200 baptisms since I`ve been here. And it is especially excited considering that last year in January we had less that 80. The mission has changed a ton since I first got here. We are now one of the best missions in the area when before we were one of the worst.
Random story: one of the investigators in Pelileo had a dream about me last week. Apparently she dreamed that she was climbing up a huge mountain carrying a huge weight/burden and she dreamed that Elder Rodriguez (another missionary that used to be in Pelileo) and I came and took the burden off of her and put it on a raft and sent it down a river. I had only visited her once with Elder Rodriguez so it was kinda strange that I was in her dream but I guess that’s how dreams are right? Haha. She’s gonna get baptized this week.
The family that had problems with beating their kids is doing better. They didn`t come to church again this week but at least the mom stopped beating her kids. We went to visit them this week and the mom told us that her other daughter came home drunk this week and that she was about to start beating her but decided not to. She said “What good does it do to beat her anyway. That will just make her more rebellious. I figured it was better to just sit down and talk to her…” That’s a ton different from last week!!!! Hopefully they come to church again this week. “ of the kids have baptismal dates but we`re trying hard to get the whole family baptized together.
This week on Friday we were walking home after our last appointment when we saw a family walking towards us so we stopped and contacted them. They were in a hurry so the contact only lasted for like 30 seconds but they told us to come back the next day. When we went back the next day they let us in and as soon as we walked in we noticed that there was a spirit of contention. We talked about families and told them that if they learned and lived our message that they would be able to have a happy family. As we were walking out the husband talked to us for a little bit at the gate before letting us out and started telling us about all the problems that they have and how he wanted to change and be happier. He has a huge problem with alcohol and has gotten into a lot of fights. He has scars from knifes all over his arms and face from all the knife fights that he has been in. Talking to him reminded me of the Taipe family from Esmeraldas but a little bit worse. Anyway, they agreed to come to church on Sunday so we went to pick them up half an hour before church started. When we got there we heard yelling from outside. They were obviously fighting. We knocked and after about 5 minutes the husband came out and told us that they were fighting and told us to come in. We stepped in and immediately they started whining and yelling like little kids about how the other one was such a horrible person. It was overwhelming to have full grown adults telling us about all their marriage problems and fighting right in front of us expecting us to resolve the conflict. Luckily the spirit helped us out. We just assured them that they could both change and that if they accepted the gospel in their lives they could achieve a happy marriage (They aren`t legally married right now so that will be one obstacle to overcome in the future). Then we sang “families can be together forever” and asked them how they felt and they both said that they felt a lot calmer. We told them that at church they would continue to feel that peace and calmness. By this time it was 15 minutes until church stated so we told them that we needed to go. They came to church and afterwards they told us that they felt a lot better and that they weren`t going to fight anymore. We have another appointment with them tomorrow. They have a lot of things to change and get over but hopefully with time we can help them and see miracles in their family. They are very humble and willing to change but its going to take a lot of work. Only the gospel can save them from their miserable state and problems.
Random story 2: There was a family in church this week that I had never seen before. When we walked in I saw them and was wondering who they were. It turns out they were from my companions stake in Guayaquil. After the meeting they started calling his family so we had to run away so that my companion wouldn`t get homesick. He told me that stuff like that has happened to him his whole mission and that everywhere he goes there are people that know him.
Mom thanks a ton for the Valentines Day package! Thanks Jason and Desi for your letters!! Jason I can’t believe what’s happing in the premier league! What happened with Chelsea and Liverpool?! They are always in the top 4! Crazy! Yes I did get the letters from the high priest group. Please tell them thank you very much!
That’s all I have for this week. I love you all and I hope that all is well back in the U.S! Talk to you next week!

February 1, 2011

Posted on 12:48 PM by Elder Messer | 0 comments

This week was good but crazy but before I get to this week i`m gonna tell you a story from last week so that the pictures that I sent make sense. Last week I was on divisions with some elders in the zone and we went to visit a family that was going to get baptized that week. One of the daughters’ friends was there and he wanted to get baptized too. He had been going to church and institute for a while but just hadn`t had the opportunity to have a baptismal interview. So we decided to take advantage of the situation and I did the interview right then. When I finished the interview I asked him who he wanted to baptize him. He paused for a minute and then said that he had really enjoyed the interview and that he felt like I helped him a lot and that we have to same type of personality and that he wanted me to baptize him. It was kinda weird because the missionaries had been teaching him and that was only the 1st time that I met him. I asked him if he was sure and tried to convince him that it would be better if one of the missionaries that taught him baptized him but he was pretty set on me baptizing him so finally I just gave in and said ok. So that’s why I sent a picture of a baptism. He’s the one that’s all wet.
Next story: So for the last couple weeks we have been teaching a Columbian family. On Friday we had an appointment with them but when we showed up only the 12 year old son was there. We asked if his mom and sister would be home soon and he said that he didn`t know so we decided to just teach him instead of wasting time just waiting there. It turns out that this kid is like one of the smartest kids I`ve ever met in my mission. If you remember anything about Jordy in Esmeraldas… He was kinda like him. He understands and comprehends everything that we teach him and he had even been reading the book of Mormon by himself and he gave us a perfect summary of 3 nephi 11 and started asking about baptism. We taught him about baptism and invited him to be baptized and he accepted and was really excited. The spirit was really strong and we were just about to say the closing prayer and leave when his mom and his 2 sisters got home. As soon as they walked in we could tell that something was wrong. One of the daughters ran to the back room right when she came in. The mom shook our hands quickly and grabbed a belt that was on the table and followed her daughter into the back room. The next thing we heard was a mix between screaming, cloths ripping, and the daughter getting beat with the belt. Whatever spirit was there left within a matter of seconds. It was amazing to feel such a dramatic change so quickly. We went from feeling the spirit super strong to feeling like Satan himself was in the house within a matter of seconds. My companion looked at me and asked what we should do and I said that we should leave so we got up and left as quickly as possible. I didn`t want to spend another second in a place with that kind of horrible feeling. It turns out that the daughter lied to her mom and went to a club and was drinking and her mom found out and went and got her and brought her home. It made me really sad to know that there are parents that beat their kids like that. I feel very lucky and blessed to have been born in a functioning family with parents that use love instead of fear to influence me and help me. Anyway, we went back the next day to see if we could help them. They were relatively humble and recognized that they had to change. We talked about families and what makes a family happy. I think it helped them a little. We invited them to come to church and they came on Sunday. The gospel is the solution like always. We are going to keep teaching them and hopefully they can come unto Christ and change and be healed.
This week we had a special training and interviews with president. My interview was good. President told me about when he found out that I was coming and that the Trounce family and said good things about our family so he was excited that I was coming because at that time he was sending a lot of missionaries home for doing stupid stuff and the mission was struggling a lot. Sister Sloan also told me a story. Her daughter works in a diamond store in Provo and said that someone came in and they got talking and it turned out to be someone that knew me and they made the connection that her dad was my mission president and what not. I have no idea who it was… I thought it was funny… its one of those “it’s a small world” stories.
I have more stories but I`m pretty much out of time so hopefully I have more time next week! I love you all! Betsy I do get the letters that you send straight to Ecuador and I have written back so I hope my letters are getting to you. I sent one last week so it should get there within another week or 2.. I think.
I love you all! Talk to you next week!!!!

January 17, 2011

Posted on 9:50 AM by Elder Messer | 0 comments

This week was probably one of the more successful weeks that I`ve had since I`ve been here in Ambato. It started out kinda rough because on Tuesday and Wednesday a bunch of our appointments fell through but it ended up pretty good because the Suarez family came to church and we were finally able to teach the Nata family again. Let me tell you a little bit about our main investigators:
Suarez Family: This is the family that has a daughter with terminal cancer that the doctors say doesn’t have much time left to live. We weren’t able to teach them that much in December because they were really busy (Everyone here was really busy in December). They live out in the middle of nowhere on a farm. They aren’t very educated which is one of the hardest parts about teaching them. They don’t understand things very quickly and they don’t read very well and understand almost nothing of what they do read. They have come to church twice now and to a ward activity but they still don’t want to get baptized because they think they aren’t prepared and it’s too soon. The daughter that has cancer is surprisingly prideful for the situation that she’s in. You’d think someone like that would be really open to the gospel and the peace that it brings but she seems to find every excuse that she can to reject it. Hopefully something will click really soon with them and they will understand that the gospel is the solution to their problems.
Nata Family: The Nata family has been to church and had a baptismal date a couple months ago but something happened and they were super busy all of a sudden so we couldn’t visit them and prepare them for baptism. We visited them twice this week. They know that what we teach is true and they know that the book of Mormon is true because it changed their lives when they first started reading it. Their challenge is that they are scared to change religions because their whole family is catholic and they don’t like that they are listening to us. They say that by listening to us they are denying their religion and family traditions. It’s hard with them because they know its true but they don`t want to get baptized. I asked them this week why they still listen to us and they said that every time we come they fell something different and learn something new (IT’S THE SPIRIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!). The dad even said that every time we visit them its like Jesus himself was visiting them. They just have to forget about their family and do what they know is right.
Those are our main investigators that have the most potential. We are teaching some other families as well and hopefully they can progress as well.
This week for the first time in my mission someone really started contending with us. We knocked is door and he seemed really open to listen to us. He said that they were painting his house so we couldn`t come in but he told us that we could sit and talk in his car which was right outside. We started teaching the restoration. And after we talked about the first vision he started to contend with us. He went in his house and came back with his bible and an anti Mormon book and just started preaching to us all about how you just have to accept Christ as your personal savior and then you will be saved and how we aren`t saved by works and whatnot. Then he pulled out his anti Mormon book and started telling us all about how Joseph smith prophesied things that never happened. First he said that Joseph smith prophesied that a war would break out in South Carolina and that it would spread to the whole country and he said that it was a false prophesy because it never happened. I just chuckled a bit and told him that he should study his history a little bit more because that actually did happen. Then he mentioned about how Joseph smith and prophesied that Albany, Boston, and New York were going to be destroyed if they didn`t repent and he said that it was a false prophecy because they were never destroyed. I told him that Joseph smith never prophesied that it would happen within a certain time period and that it would happen eventually. I said I thought that it might happen at the second coming and he argued saying that if that was the case then it wasn`t a prophesy at all because Jesus prophesied as well that the wicked would be destroyed at the second coming. Then I asked him if he had a problem with someone teaching the same things that Jesus taught. He wanted to keep going but I figured that we would get nowhere so I told him that we had an appointment and that we had to go and we left. I don’t understand people waste their time trying to prove that our church is false. Especially to a missionary. Did he really hope to convince me that the church that I represent is a fraud? It’s kinda ridiculous.
Well that’s all I have for this week. I love you all! Thanks to everyone that still sends me letters and packages! I love getting them!!!

January 8, 2010

Posted on 9:57 AM by Elder Messer | 0 comments

Well this week was kinda crazy down here in Ecuador. Everyone went crazy for New Years. Apparently it’s a really big deal here. They have a lot of very strange traditions. Let me explain… all over the place there were road blocks with men dressed as woman standing in the middle of the road dancing and asking for money. They put ropes up so that cars cant pass and they don’t let anyone pass until they give money to the guy dressed as a woman. If you don’t give them money they dance all around you and touch you and act like they are your girlfriend until you either give them money are walk far enough away. It was pretty crazy. Luckily we took taxis and buses everywhere so we didn`t have to pass them on foot all day. We only had to pass one on foot right in front of our house and I just gave him super dirty look like I was way pissed off to try and scare him away. Luckily he didn`t touch us or anything. We had to be in the house at 4 so we weren`t around when they were really drunk and crazy. There was a huge party right next to our house and they had music blasting really loud until about 1:30 in the morning. I managed to fall asleep at like 9:30 but all the fireworks and explosives woke me up at about 5 minutes to midnight so I got up and looked out the window to see everything that was going on. Another tradition here is that every makes these huge wooden and cardboard dolls and they burn them at midnight so when I looked out the window it was like there was a bonfire in front of every house. I kinda felt like I was in a war zone. It was all pretty surreal since I was still kinda half asleep.
I guess the spiritual story of the week would be that we did manage to find a new family.. The Garcia Salazar family. I was on divisions on Tuesday with elder choez and our 8 o´clock appointment wasn`t there. We had been contacting and knocking doors almost all day and usually there is almost no success contacting late at night because everyone always says that they are busy and that it’s too late. Anyway, I really didn`t feel like contacting more. But the options were to visit a member or keep contacting. I thought about the story that dad always tells about that family that he found in the last house on the street and I decided that the miracles always come in the last minutes so I decided that we would just keep contacting. At about 8:30 we knocked a door and they let us in and we taught the restoration to the whole family. They were really receptive and accepted a return appointment. Anyway it was a good experience to show the importance of working hard and being diligent until the last minute.
Other than that nothing else really exciting happened this week. It was a pretty slow week because no one was working so there were a lot more drunks in the streets and a lot of people went on vacation so we couldn`t teach that much. This upcoming week is gonna be pretty slow as well because we`re going to Quito for zone leader conference and leader meeting.
The picture is definitely PG-13 but I just wanted to show you how crazy new years was. This was a sign left over from the night before at one of the road blocks by our house. Basically what it says is that if you give the guy dressed as a woman 10 cents he will kiss you with his tongue, if you give him 25 cents he will do a strip tease, if you give him 50 cents he will kiss you on the cheek, and if you give him a dollar he will just say happy new year and let you go by…. Scandalous, I know… If I had to make a bible reference to this I would probably compare it to Sodom and Gomorrah… .