Mom wrote to Curtis Mon, 29 Dec 2008 01:47:57 -0700
He wrote back that day.
Tell us about your Christmas Eve? You said you got your packages, so you must have had a District Meeting, then you had a Festival (I am not sure that was the word you used) in each of your two branches and a Christmas Eve Dinner. Tell us all about that day, please.
We went to our district meeting. I received the three packages and then we went back to Balzar. In the house, I opened the packages. Then we ate a little, not much though, and then we took a bus to Relicario. We visited in Relicario for about two and a half hours because the members in Relicario invited a family that is not members, so we visited with them and made sure that they were invited to church Sunday. After we took another bus to Balzar and went to the church for the Fiesta. It was good. We had a little program. Elder Bejar and I sang a duet and then we watched Joy to the World and then we ate chicken with rice and a salad of onions and tomatoes and peppers. It is actually pretty good. After we ate, Elder Bejar and I left for a Cyber Cabina so he could talk to his parents. While he talked, I memorized more of the proclamacion for the world, and then we went to our house.
Tell us what you did on Christmas Day please. Lots of details please.
See above this is Christmas Day.
Did you like the packages?
Yes they were great. Elder Bejar really likes pistachios he had never eaten them before now. The pens are awesome. Elder Bejar was surprised that you knew what his first name started with.
Was there anything that did not arrive okay?
No, everything arrived just fine. No problems at all.
What did you like best?
The notes from everybody that was way cool to be able to hear from everybody in the family.
Did you take photos of the Christmas tree after you hung it and decorated it?
Yes I have pictures of the tree on the wall don´t worry.
The little puzzles were for you to share with kids you meet down there. Do you want me to send some candy or anything else that you can give to the kids? Is that something that is okay to do?
Yeah it is ok, but you don´t need to. There is plenty of candy here to share with the kids. I can buy the huge bags of assorted candy for a dollar or two.
Did your companion like his Christmas stocking and gifts?
Yeah, he did. He says thank you very much. (He said this in English.)
Has he ever had a Christmas stocking like that before?
I don´t think he has, but he knows what they are for and the tradition.
What did Elder Bejar's parents send him for Christmas?
He hasn´t received a package from his parents while he has been here.
Did you have your baptisms on Saturday? How did that go?
Yeah, we baptized three people, Ricardo, Maria and their oldest son Carlos.
Did you take more photos at the baptisms? Did you take photos of Allison's baptism?
Yes I have photos of both baptisms. I just need to make another cd and get it sent.
Do you have any more investigators that are progressing or that you have challenged for baptism?
We have a few. Irina, she is 9, but her mom won´t give her permission to be baptized, but she has lived with her grandmother for over a year so legally her grandmother is her guardian and can give her permission to be baptized, so we are planning on this Saturday.
Is there anyone that we can pray for? What specific needs or challenges do they have?
We need help to find more people to teach right now. We don´t have many investigators that are progressing. We need to find more.
How many investigators came out to church this week? Did you teach a Sunday School class to them?
In Balzar, we had two investigators and they have been investigators for a long time, for about 4 or 5 years. They know Elder Ika, the one that emailed you. In Relicario, the family that came to our Fiesta came to church also and brought more of the family with them, so we had 7 investigators in Relicario.
Did you do anything special for your members or investigators for Christmas? Elder Walke's blog said they had a cool activity in the park in Babahoyo, where a member dressed up as Santa and they took photos with the children and Santa. They got the addresses of the kids so they could deliver the photos and give a short message to the families about Christ. It sounded fun, though it was a lot of hard work. Did you do anything like that?
No, we didn´t do anything like that in Balzar, but on the 24th below our house Santa was there for the people to take pictures with. He was below our house, because we live next to the city hall of Balzar.
What plans do you have for this week with New Year's Eve? Do you have to stay inside because of all the partying?
No, we don´t have to stay inside the whole time and the only thing that we have planned is another dinner with the Ruiz family, that is all.
Is there anything you need or want me to send to you?
No, I am good, no problems and I don´t need anything.
Is there anything you would like to have, but can't find in the store?
Just a pocket knife, but that is not a necessity right now.
I will transfer some money into your account for the packages and the $50 that the Gailey's gave to you. I will try to do it this week. Dad said you mentioned buying a belt. That would be a fun souvenir. Are you still looking for a knife?
Yes I am looking, but have not found one yet. Here in Balzar, they don´t sell much in the way of knives. Elder Bejar says that when the people want to buy a knife, they go to Manavi to buy it.
One of the missionary blogs mentioned that you are supposed to be getting the Liahona every month. Are you getting it? If not, should I sign up for a subscription for you?
We don´t receive it every month, but our Branch President does and we borrow his copy and read it during lunch.
Are you happy and healthy?
Yes, I am happy and healthy.
Has it started raining a lot yet? Is it getting hotter?
Yeah, it is getting hotter, but it hasn´t started raining yet.
Will you please share your testimony with us.
I love you so very much. You are such a fine example for your brothers, cousins and for many others who are reading your blog and sharing in your mission. I talked to Daniel Greenwell and his mother, Rita today at church. Daniel has his call to Calgary, Canada. They have been reading your blog and he is so excited to get out there and start serving his mission. They want to create a blog to share his mission experiences also.
I am so happy for Skyler. I am so excited for him to get to go and serve. I know he will be a great missionary, too. I have felt all along that things would work out for the best for him if we just had enough patience. I hope he will go and serve with all his heart, mind and soul like you are doing.
At the Parkinson Christmas party on Friday, we didn't do gifts like we have in the past. Instead we put together some kits for the humanitarian center. We did newborn kits, hygiene kits and school kits. The kids got to help assemble the kits. It was good to give instead of getting because we are all so blessed and we reallly didn't need more gifts. I took my laptop and a projector up and showed the photos and videos you have sent home. It was good for everyone to get to see what you are up to. I put it on a slideshow so it just kept playing over and over while we did the kits and tied a couple of quilts and other activities. I also took some paper and markers and many of the family wrote you letters or drew pictures for you. I will mail them soon for a Valentine surprise. They may get there a few weeks before that. You will love the drawings. They are really cute.
I love you son. I am so very proud of you. You are the BEST!!!
Love always and forever,
You didn't type your testimony. I know you have one. Will you either type it or write it and mail it to us?
I´ll mail my testimony to you, and I meant that while I have been with Elder Bejar he hasn´t received a package.
I thought you had said on the phone that the district meeting, the two fiestas and the turkey dinner were all going to be on Christmas Eve. Did you do all of that on Christmas day? What did you do on Christmas Eve?
No, I mixed the two days sorry. District Meeting was the 24th. We visited some investigators after lunch and then went to dinner and I called again. The 25th we studied and then had our weekly planning session and then after a little lunch we went to Relicario and then Balzar for the Fiestas.
In the photos you sent, there is a map with arrow sticky notes on it. You have written on them. We think we have figured out some of the places. Is this right?
You live at the red arrow.
The church is at the blue arrow.
The green arrows are your mamita's homes.
The single one is the place you eat on Wednesdays. What is the name of that sister?The two green arrows are where the Ruiz family live and where Sister Valdez lives.
We can't tell what the yellow one is.
We can't tell what the purple one is.
The single green arrow is the Ruiz family. The other two are the other mamitas. The top one is the mamita Alvarado that cooks for us on Wednesdays and the bottom one is the mamita Valdez. The purple one is the store where we buy all of our things. It is called the Tia and the yellow is the Clinica where they rehab drug addicts and alcoholics. We help there when our ward mission leader is here, but he has been in Guayaquil the whole time I have been here, so we don´t go to the clinic. But our Ward Mission Leader was at church Sunday so maybe he will start helping us out now.
Ok. Thanks. I wasn't sure how you were going to fit all of that into one day, after we talked on the phone.
You said you are needing to find more investigators. What are you doing to find more? Do you go tracting or talk to people in the streets? Do you give out Books of Mormon? That book I sent you has a lot of ideas for things you can do to find more people. It talks a lot about just making more contacts. The more people you talk to each day, the better chance you will have of finding someone who is willing to listen.
We knock a lot of doors, but the best way for us to find people to teach is through members, but they haven´t been helping us out much lately. But in Relicario the members are doing great. We have lots of new investigators there. We just don´t have the time to visit in Relicario every day.
Great. So it is not as far to the Ruiz family as I thought. It is a ways to Sister Valdez with the laundry. How do you carry your laundry there and back? I noticed in the photos you have some containers holding some of your laundry. Do you carry those containers there to put the clean clothes in and your dirty clothes in your laundry bags?
No we drop our dirty laundry off on Mondays in our bags and then we pick it up clean on Friday or Saturdays and then we drop the dirties off again the next Monday.
It will be good if you can teach all of the people that came to church this week in Relicario. Tell us more about that Branch. You said you meet in a member's home. Do you have the meeting inside? Where do you all sit? Is it crowded? Do you have regular sacrament trays? What do you use for a Sacrament table and table cloths?
How big does the branch have to get before they will get a meeting house? When will they get a Branch President called who is not a missionary? What do you do with the tithes and offerings that are gathered? Do you have to enter it into the computer in Balzar or do you take it to Balzar for the other branch to take care of it?
We have Sacrament trays and a white table cloth that we put on the table. Everybody sits in chairs or stands or sits on the floor. We meet inside the home of one of the families. It is good. This next Sunday is Fast and Testimony Meeting, so the members in Relicario come to Balzar for church, so we don´t have to go to Relicario next Sunday.
Oh. I thought you said earlier that you dropped it off and then went proselyting in the area while she did your laundry, then you picked it up and took it back home. Is it awkward to carry it all the way through town? There doesn't appear to be a straight path to get from your home to hers. I guess it makes sense that you have so many clothes now if the mamita has half of them all the time.
It is time to go I love you all lots Thanks for the packages and all the notes they were good. Bye.
Okay. We love you lots. Braxton is almost done typing an email for you. I hope you can wait long enough to read it. Have a great week. Send us a paper letter if you have time.
I always have way more questions than he has time to answer. Oh well. We love to hear from our missionary and we are grateful for all he does tell us.