Monday, February 23, 2009

2009_02_23 Week 18 Balzar Mom

Hey, how are things going in Utah? I am doing good. I am in Balzar still for another six weeks. I am pretty sure that this will be my last transfer here in Balzar because if I stay one more Elder Alcocer finishes his mission, so I will get to stay one more after that to teach another Elder this sector.

You liked the letter I sent last week? It was cool to see the power of the Priesthood in action. Rony and Ginger are doing good. They are now at the point where they are wondering if they really want to be baptised or not. Their marriage will be this week. We had trouble getting all of the papers that we need to have them get married. Here in Ecuador, it is illegal to not vote. Every person is supposed to vote. When you vote you receive a paper that says you voted. In Spanish this is la papel de votacion. Ginger didn´t vote, so she needs to appear before the tribunal to pay a fine, then she can receive her papel. Rony doesn´t have this paper, but he is only 16, so he doesn´t need this paper until he is 18, the legal age to vote. So anyways, this Wednesday we are going to Quevedo with Ginger to help her get this paper, then Thursday or Friday they will be married and Saturday baptised.

We have another marriage Friday for another investigator. His name is Kilo Sambrano (Sambrano means to plant). He will be baptised on the 7th of March. We have three families that are progressing good in Palestina now. We think that they will get baptized, too, but in two of the families they aren´t married, so we need to teach the law of chastity and then commit them to live it.

We had an inter chambio two weeks ago. I was in Balzar with Elder Verastagui and Elder Alcocer in Empalme with Elder Moran. With Elder Verastagui I taught the Macias family the law of chastity and committed them to be married, but the father doesn´t want to get married, so we have a problem, but we are working on it a little bit at a time. The other two families, we are working with them to receive an answer to their prayers and to come to church, but this is difficult. The people don´t want to come to church. It is tough, but we are working on changing this a little at a time.

Bye. I love you!

2009_02_23 Week 18 Balzar Dad

Dad wrote on Mon, 23 Feb 2009 08:50:13 -0700

Dear Curtis,

How is everything going? Mom mailed you two packages out this week. One has your camera and the other one has your sharpening stones. I had her send both of them.

That was an interesting experience you had last week. How is Ginger doing? Have you had any other experiences teaching? We would love to hear them.

I have got to go mail out some pigeons after 1st period in 10 minutes, so I will check back when I get back.

I Love You!


Things are going good. Thanks for sending me my things. Here are a few more things that you could send me in the next package: Root beer extract, maple syrup concentrate, Elder Alcocer wants all of the music that I have in my ipod, so I don´t know if mom can make DVDs with the music on it and send them.

I have another person that mom can contact to talk about the mission with, Randall and Tamina Ridd (Mission president before president Gamboa) 5042 Memory Ln. SLC, UT 84117 (801) 278-4046

Thanks. Oh tell Skyler that I mailed him a letter, but I want to hear from him next week.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

2009_02_16 Very Special Experience

Mom wrote on Monday, February 16th.

Here are a few more questions. Just answer them in your letter to us. Do the missionaries down there have cell phones?

We have a cell phone in the house. It is big and bulky, basically a phone for the house, but it has an antenna like a cell phone. Some missionaries have land lines, others have a phone like us. Only the assistants and the enfermeras (nurses) have their own cell phone.

How was your Zone Conference?

Zone conference was good I learned a lot about how to be a successful missionary. It was good.

Did you have an interview with the Mission President?

Yeah, I had my interview after the zone conference.

Did you get a photo of your Zone?

No, but we will take one this week in the district meeting.

Can you send it to us?

No, because I don´t have it.

When are you going to send us some more photos?

When I make more CDs but that takes time that is sacred here in the mission.

Have you gotten any more packages?

Yes, I got the Valentine’s Day package a few days before Valentine’s Day and I still haven´t had my bump day yet, so you are fine.

I have a really interesting story to tell you.

We have a pair of investigators. One is the 16 year old son, Rony, of a family that is recent converts of 6 months. The other is his 18 year old pregnant girlfriend. They both live with his family behind our house toward the river. We had taught them a few leccions (lessons) and I had invited them to be baptized, but they didn´t accept. But that is ok. The date I tried to commit them to was the 28th of February.

Well this Saturday, (February 14, 2009), we received a call from the dad, who said that the girl, her name is Ginger, was not well. They said that she was possessed by a devil. We got ready quickly and then we called President Gamboa and asked for advice on what to do. He said that we should give her a blessing.

We went to their house and when we entered the house there was a bad spirit; It wasn´t good. When we entered, Ginger was on the floor and Rony was next to her restraining her. We sat down and started like we normally do, with a hymn and a prayer. During the hymn, Ginger kept saying, “Shut up. Shut up.” After, we said the prayer and then we started reading the scriptures. We read Enos first, and then we gave Ginger a blessing. Elder Alcocer annointed and the dad gave the blessing, his first ever.

After, Elder Alcocer tried to talk to Ginger. He said, “Ginger, can you hear me?” and she responded, “I am not Ginger.” Elder Alcocer asked who she was then, but didn´t receive an answer. At this point, I was convinced that she was possessed by a devil. She kept laughing, too, whenever we read or sang. It was a little creepy.

After we read 3 Nephi 11, then sang more hymns waiting for President Ruiz, the Branch President, to come. When he showed up, he gave her another blessing, but the whole time she was laughing and the devil didn´t leave with this blessing either.

After President Ruiz took Elder Alcocer aside with me and explained that one of the Area Authorities had given them instruction on this.

President Ruiz taught Curtis and Elder Alcocer how to cast out devils. Then he asked Curtis to do this. I have omitted this part. Curtis asked me to because it is sacred.

President Ruiz said that we had done all that we could and that it was up to Ginger now to do her part. We left, but promised to visit in the evening.

We already had a lunch appointment scheduled with some members, so after our lunch, we started a fast to help Ginger, because in the scriptures it says that with devils sometimes they will only leave through fasting and prayer. When we went back in the evening, they said that Ginger had gotten better during the day, eaten a little, and said a prayer, but she couldn´t close the prayer in the name of Jesus Christ. She couldn´t say his name. After, she had gotten worse again. She was lying on the floor and she kept moving around, but she didn´t open her eyes or say anything.

We taught Rony the Plan of Salvation and then the law of chastity and committed him to live the law of chastity. We then read in Alma about when the angel appeared to Alma the younger and he was in a state of torment in his mind and that he called upon the name of Christ to save him. We read this to help Ginger, to give her the answer she needed to be free of the devil that held her bound. Then we left.

Yesterday, we had a conference in Vinces and then after the conference we went to visit Rony and Ginger. Ginger was up and walking about a little, but she was very tired. We ate lunch with them in their house. (We are now eating in the houses of the members.) We then taught about baptism and confirmation, because the dad had told us in the conference that Ginger and Rony wanted to be baptised as soon as possible, for the date that I had tried to commit them to, the 28th of February. So we taught baptism and then committed them to baptism. We then taught them the law of chastity again and committed them to be married, so now we have a marriage this Friday, February 20, 2009, and two baptisms for the 28th.

Cool huh? Ask dad if he had any experiences like this during his mission, please.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

2009_02_16 Week 17 Balzar Shara

Shara wrote on, 16 Feb 2009 11:01:30 a.m.


Hi how are you doing? Mom said that you are on your email right now. I hope you get this before you get off. Taylor is getting really big. She loves to be tickled and she loves to tickle others. She is getting 3 teeth right now, so she has 8 total. She is walking (running) really well. She is almost always happy.How is the mission?

Things are going good I just sent mom an interesting story ask her to share it with you.

Are you teaching anyone right now?

We are teaching several people, but we are having a hard time committing people to be baptised right now.

Do you have any baptisms lined up?

We have two for the 28th of February, but I don´t know if I will be here in Balzar for these baptisms or in a new sector because next Monday is transfers.

I hope to hear back from you, but if not. Know that we love you and are wishing you the best of luck.

Love Shara, Rob and Taylor

That is cool. Do you think that you will be transferred?

If not this transfer, it will be the next transfer, because if I stay for two more transfers in Balzar then I get to stay three, because in two more transfers my companion finishes his mission, so I would have to stay one more transfer to teach my sector to a new missionary. So I think that I will be transferred this change or the next.

I bet you are off by now. I had to feed Taylor her lunch. Well I hope that you are enjoying your mission and aren't getting into too much trouble. Just know that we love you and are thinking about you.


2009_02_16 Week 17 Balzar Dad

Dad wrote on Mon, 16 Feb 2009 09:23:23 a.m.

Hi Curtis,

Skyler is taking care of the pigeons for me while we are down in St. George. He is doing great. He is working at an insurance agency selling insurance. He had a bunch of dinner meetings in Cache Valley this week. He is working on getting a license to sell insurance. He has to dress up in a suit every day. I guess that is a good use of his missionary suits. He has a girlfriend again. She wants to get married. He wants to wait. Same old Skyler.

I need to put in for hunts this week. Not much going on that way right now.School is okay.How has your week been?

I love you lots.Dad

Wow time sure flies it is time to put in for the hunts already. Tell Skyler to write me a letter it was Christmas when I last heard from him. I will write him a letter today but it will take three or four weeks to get to him so tell him to write me. It sounds like you are having the same old fun that we usually do on trips; parts breaking and the little problems, but just remember what Elder Wirthlin talked about in conference, come what may and enjoy it. Laugh when things go wrong.

We did laugh. No tempers this time. Good humor.

2009_02_16 Week 17 Balzar Clain

Clain wrote on Mon, 16 Feb 2009 08:30 a.m.

Elder Goode,

Hi curtis how are you doing?

I am doing good buddy! Don´t worry about me.

Have you killed any more mice yet?

No. Last Monday I killed two, but there haven´t been any more in our house, so i haven´t had any to kill.

Have you seen any lizards?

Just the geckos that sometimes enter the house and a few iguanas, one about three feet long.

What is the weirdest food you have ate so far?

Cow udder

What do I need to do to get ready for my mission?

Study preach my gospel, especially chapter three, the sections. They are extremely important and learn how to cook.

Have you eaten Iguana?

No, I haven´t yet, but my companion has and he says that it tastes like pollo (Chicken).

Monday, February 9, 2009

2009_02_09 Week 16 Balzar Mom

Mom wrote on Sunday, 08 Feb 2009
Curtis replied on Monday February 9, 2009

Dear Curtis,

It is Monday again. I don’t know if they seem to be coming around fast for you or not, but they do for me. I can’t believe you are almost at your six month mark. It is just two more weeks till transfers again. I hope you and Elder Alcocer are having great success together.

You talked last week of a possible baptism of Mariella in Relicario. I hope she went through with the baptism and that her daughters and niece are progressing towards baptism as well. I think it is really funny that the young girls are all in love with the handsome gringo missionary. It is really quite cute. I know, not from your standpoint! Where did you come up with the word Fetch? Is that your replacement for swear words? Or some Ecuadorian slang?

(no answer)

Please tell us about Mariella and her family and what is happening with them.

We have been teaching them a lot. We committed Mariella to be baptized on the 21st and we are fairly sure that she will be baptized that day. We haven´t had a chance to teach her daughters again, but we will try more when Mariella is baptized.

How are Ricardo and Maria doing and their family? You said that one of the other children would turn eight soon. When does that happen? Are they attending regularly?

One of the daughters will turn eight in March. We need to start preparing Ricardo so he can baptize her. Ricardo and Maria were supposed to give talks Sunday in church, kind of fast, but o well, they didn´t come to church. So Elder Alcocer and I gave talks in their place. We have given talks in three of the four Sacrament meetings that Elder Alcocer has been here. The one we didn´t give talks in was Fast and Testimony meeting.

I got a call last week from Inkleys. They replaced your baptized camera with a brand new Nikon Coolpix L18, which is a newer model than your camera was. Your model was no longer available. We haven’t done much with it yet. Clain wants to have it, but we will see. Maybe we will give it to him for his birthday. The new camera is covered by the same warranty as the old one was.

Sweet! So now you can send me my camera, so I can use it. The one I have now takes videos, but not sound with the video.

I have to go to a funeral tomorrow. My mom’s older brother Lee passed away this week. He was suffering from prostate cancer. He has been sick for a few months now. He waited too long to go and have things checked out when he started having problems. The cancer was too far advanced to do much with by the time he got to a doctor. The funeral is in Brigham at 11:00 a.m. My mom has to talk at the funeral, so I am going to support her. I think I will take the new camera and take a few photos with it to see how it works. I want to make sure it is functional, and then if I set it aside till Clain’s birthday, I will at least know it works.

How is your new camera working? Have you taken lots of photos with it? Does it focus better than your last one did or have you learned to focus better?

It has a feature that compensates for hand movement when you take photos.

Have you taken any videos with it?

Yeah, but there isn´t any sound.

I would have loved to see video of “The Mouse Hunt”. You at least looked like you were having fun. When you sent those photos last week, you resized one of them down to a smaller size, but not the second one. I didn’t get the second one until the next day for some reason, probably because it was too big, then it sent my mailbox to 125% of capacity. I had to save the photo and delete the email before I could do anything else with my email. That’s okay, though. It was a great photo.

Did you find boots in size 12 to fit your giant feet? Where did you find them? Tell us about it.

Yeah, I found a pair of boots. There is a place here in Balzar that is called the Baillia or the black market, but this one is small. But they sell all sorts of things there. I bought my boots there for 8 dollars.

How is the weather? Are you getting wet every day? Are you walking in lots of mud?

No, we aren´t getting wet much at all now.

How is your umbrella working? Was it a good one? Some of the other elders have said their umbrellas are not so great.

My umbrella works great. I haven´t had any problems yet.

Have you given any Priesthood Blessings while you have been on your mission? Tell us about them, please.

Yeah I have given a lot. They are starting to get easier to give in Spanish and I am sure that they are easier in English, also.

I am mailing you a package tomorrow morning, Monday. It will be package number 6. It has a furry friend in it with a treasure hidden inside. Unpick the seam on the back side of the dog right under the tail. Pull out your prize and all the extra tissue paper. Then you can sew the seam back up using needle and thread in your sewing kit. Keep it or give it away to someone in need. I know it won’t be your dog of choice, but I couldn’t find much the day I was looking and I didn’t have time for a trip to Cabella’s. Besides you should love this little creature that will have transported your awaited prize safely to you over so many miles. I know you can hardly wait and I am sure you could never guess what the prize will be. You will also find in the package, some photos, cards and three packages of your favorite snacks. Please let us know when you get this package and its condition upon arrival.

Have you received packages four and five yet? What condition were they in?

I got the fourth package with the honey and the peanut butter. It was a little squashed, but not opened, so no problems. I haven´t gotten the fifth package yet. Maybe this week.

Do you have another Zone Conference soon?

Yeah, this week, on Wednesday.

How is your Zone doing? Have you met all of the other new missionaries in the zone and district? Are there any new gringos?

Yeah, we have a new zone leader, Elder Ronnow and also an Elder Smith, the one that was in Pasquales for 6 transfers.

Have you been on any splits lately?

No, but we have one scheduled for this Thursday. I think I will be in Balzar with Elder Verastegui and Elder Alcocer in Empalme with Elder Moran.

How is your branch in Relicario coming?

It is coming. We are spending more time in Relicario and Palestina to help this sector grow.

Do you have many investigators who are progressing?

No, we don´t have many, but we are working on it a lot.

Have they been coming out to church?

(no answer)

Have you spent any time at that drug and alcohol rehabilitation clinic? Tell us about it.

No our leader Missional that is the director of the clinica has been in Pedro Carbo for four weeks now and before that in Guayaquil for 3 months, so we haven´t been working there much at all.

Tell us more about Elder Alcocer. Is he a good missionary? Does he work hard? Are you getting along well? What are his talents and interests?

(no answer - he answered this in the other email.)

Are you healthy and happy?

Yeah. I am healthy and happy!

Do you need or want anything?

Send me my sharpening stone for my knife, please.

What can we do to help you?

More jerky please.

Can we pray for anyone?

(no answer)

What is the very best experience you had this week?

(no answer)

What is the worst experience you have had in Ecuador so far?

Yesterday, it was rough. We had an appointment in Palestina and I taught for five or ten minutes after which the investigator said that he didn´t understand anything that I said. It is hard. Sometimes the people don´t open their mind and listen so they don´t understand anything that I say.

What is the funniest thing that has happened to you so far?

(no answer)

This week I had planned a night when we could go to the Logan temple with Shara, Rob, Michelle and Jeff to do initiatory work. After work on Friday, we headed on our way, then had to turn around and go back home to get the name cards. I forgot to grab them. We headed off again and planned to meet them at the temple and have Clain and Braxton take their vehicle back to Grandma’s in Smithfield to tend Taylor. Shara didn’t get all of my text messages. I should have called her, so when we got to Logan, she was still in Lewiston. About that time, Jeff looked at the temple card he had gotten and it said that they stop doing initiatory work at 6:30. It was already after 7:00. Shara had called to check on it the day before, but the lady must have misunderstood her and thought she meant in the morning or something. Anyway, we ended up not being able to go.

We all met at Grandma’s house and then decided to still go out to dinner like we had planned. We went to a place called, Suboras. It is in the old train station in Logan. I noticed that they had a dish called Arroz con pollo. I remembered that your favorite dish was similar to that, so I thought I would try it. I don’t think it was quite the same as what you described. It had chicken pieces that had been marinated in a tomato sauce, then rice that also had been cooked in a tomato sauce and lots and lots and lots of onions and green peppers. It also had a few slices of avocado to adorn it. It was really quite bland. I didn’t eat a lot of it there that night because we had eaten a whole bunch of chips and salsa while we waited for our food to come. However, I ate some of it on Saturday and the rest on Sunday and it was actually a lot better the second and third times. I think the flavors had blended and mellowed a bit. Plus warming it in the microwave cooked the peppers and onions some more so they were not so strong. I don’t think it compares to the Arroz con menestra y con pollo orno that you described. I do think I get a pat on the back for being brave enough to try something new and different. What do you think?

I think it is different, but the food is a bit bland here. But I like it! The momita Ruiz says that I am the first gringo that will eat anything that she serves and she has been the momita for five or six years now so she has served a few gringos in her time.

Jeff says that most of the food down there is rather bland. They don’t use a lot of salt and pepper or spices in it. Is that true?

It is a bit bland, but it is ok.

Braxton has a soccer tournament in St. George on Saturday, February 14th and Monday, February 16th. We are taking Grandma and Grandpa Goode to Arizona on the same trip. We will drive down on Friday, go to the games on Saturday, take them to Dolan Springs on Sunday then drive back to St. George and stay in a hotel. Then he will have games again on Monday and then we will drive home. We won’t leave St. George till about 5:00 pm on Monday, so we will get back home about 10:00 p.m. or so. It will make for a tired Tuesday, but we should have fun. We are going to try to go to the St. George temple while we are there between games on Saturday. I hope we can do the rest of the initiatories for the 22 males that I have left. Then we can get their endowments finished up.

We are going to go with Shara, Rob, Michelle and Jeff again on February 19th to do endowments in the Salt Lake Temple. Then we will try to setup a time to go and do sealings for all of these names. I think the endowments are all done except for these last 22 male names. I just need to get all of the cards back from everyone.

That means that next Monday, we will have a harder time writing to you. I will still have my blackberry phone so I should be able to email you a little bit on it. I will try to send you a letter before we leave so you have something to read on that Monday.

Are you still having problems with the internet dropping you, because last week you just seemed to disappear again? You didn’t say goodbye to any of us. What happened?

You didn´t write me back and we had other things that we needed to do so I logged off.

Are you wearing your sunscreen? You looked sunburned in the photos?

No, I am not.

Are you protecting your ears and nose?


Have you had to talk in church anymore? What topics? Tell us about them.

Yeah, just about every week I have given a talk and every week in Relicario I give a talk.

What goals have you set for yourself? Are you making progress on them?

(no answer)

We had Stake Conference today and yesterday. It was really good. Elder Spencer J. Condie of the Quorum of the Seventy came and spoke. He was pretty down to earth. I really liked his talks. He spoke today on the theme of “Getting our Families to Higher Ground”. He started with some jokes. His beautiful German wife had spoken before him. He said, “That is the blessing I get for tracting many days in the rain on my mission”. Then he said sometimes we get blessings we don’t deserve. He said President Faust once said, “I have many blessing I don’t deserve, but I have arthritis and I don’t deserve that either.”

He had the children stand to stretch and told them this story while they were standing. I found it on the internet. I think he has used it many times before.
Last summer, (1989) we took our family to the San Diego Zoo, the largest zoo in the world. Our twelve-year-old son, Craig, had never been there, and he was delighted with the variety of birds and reptiles and other animals. But the part of the zoo that especially interested Craig was the area where the lions and the tigers were kept.

It was a sunny day, and the big cats were all fast asleep. My son thought that they should be up growling and stalking around. All the people there seemed to think so too. They were clapping their hands, shouting, and whistling. But their noise didn’t wake up the animals at all. So my son nudged me in the ribs and said, “Dad, give them your whistle.” I have a very, very shrill whistle, and, to please my son, I whistled as loudly as I could. But the lions still didn’t move.

Then I said, “Craig, listen to this.” I imitated the quiet growl of a tiger. Grrrrr!

Those lions perked up their ears and started moving about. The yelling and whistling hadn’t even disturbed them, but the quiet growl of the tiger reached through all the noise of the crowd. I put my arm on Craig’s shoulder and said, “Now you can see why Heavenly Father speaks to us in a still, small voice in such a noisy world.” We’ve referred back to that experience at the zoo a number of times.

It was a very interesting story and he made it more so because he really did whistle his shrill whistle right there in our meeting, twice, two very long, loud blasts. It was as shrill as your dad’s whistle. If anyone was sleeping at that point, they weren’t after he got through whistling.

He concluded this story by telling the children that they need to listen carefully to the Spirit and to reverently reduce the noise in our lives, as Elijah did: “And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: “And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.” (See 1 Kgs. 19:11–12.)

Be aware that our Father in Heaven speaks to us more through feelings than through sounds. Be attuned to the Spirit. Allow times during the day, every day, when the Spirit can speak to us. We need to use Sundays to gain new spiritual strength. Sunday is a good day for listening to the Spirit so that we can recognize the still, small voice, just as the lions recognized the quiet voice of the tiger.

Next he told of how the church often has a difficult time translating the name of our church into other languages. Many don’t have a word for Saint in their vocabulary or a word for Latter-Day. He said in Hungarian, they had to settle for the church of the last 24 hours. In Thailand, there was no word for Saints so the closest they could come was the church of Jesus Christ for the privileged people in the day last. He said the church was not very happy with that translation and has continued to look for a better one. They have recently come upon the name of the Church of Jesus Christ for the Holy People of the Day Last.

He then talked about whether we see ourselves as privileged people or are we ready to become holy people.

He said that 90% of the members of the church can reach a temple within 3 hours now. We should go more often. We have temples so close to us.

He said the New Zealand Saints go to the temple once a year. Each member brings a two foot slab of salami, a five pound block of cheese and a couple of rounds of bread for their food for that trip. They come and go to 5 sessions per day for 2 days. They come as privileged people and leave as Holy People. Temple attendance will make us into Holy People.

Next he talked about a story told by Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin.

“On December 26, 2004, a powerful earthquake struck off the coast of Indonesia, creating a deadly tsunami that killed more than 200,000 people. It was a terrible tragedy. In one day, millions of lives were forever changed.

But there was one group of people who, although their village was destroyed, did not suffer a single casualty.

The reason?

They knew a tsunami was coming.

The Moken people live in villages on islands off the coast of Thailand and Burma (Myanmar). A society of fishermen, their lives depend on the sea. For hundreds and perhaps thousands of years, their ancestors have studied the ocean, and they have passed their knowledge down from father to son.

One thing in particular they were careful to teach was what to do when the ocean receded. According to their traditions, when that happened, the “Laboon”—a wave that eats people—would arrive soon after.

When the elders of the village saw the dreaded signs, they shouted to everyone to run to high ground.

Not everyone listened.

One elderly fisherman said, “None of the kids believed me.” In fact, his own daughter called him a liar. But the old fisherman would not relent until all had left the village and climbed to higher ground.

The Moken people were fortunate in that they had someone with conviction who warned them of what would follow. The villagers were fortunate because they listened. Had they not, they may have perished.”

Then he told us that we needed to make sure to get our families to higher ground.
He said we should commit to pay our tithing. And he told a story about that.

He said we should commit to pay a generous fast offering. He said that fasting and prayer will help us to loose the bands of wickedness. He used the scripture Isaiah 58:6 He challenged any that were struggling with sins like pornography, and word of wisdom issues to take this challenge and overcome that wickedness. Fast and pray, then go to your bishop and make it right.

He told a funny story about milking cows when he was a boy on his grandfather’s farm. The cow kicked him and his grandfather seeing it, took a whip out and whipped the cow and swore at her. Then he said to young Spencer, “The Lord don’t hold it against you if you swear at critters.” But he said he noticed that the farmer down the road was a critter when he stole the irrigation water when it wasn’t his turn, and the democrats was critters. He said we must not let our bad habits keep us down. Overcome them and get to higher ground.

He counseled us to have Family Home Evening, Family Scripture Study and Family Prayer as these will lead our families to higher ground.

He told of one of his favorite scriptures, Luke 24:32. It tells of Jesus talking to the disciples on the road to Emmaus. “And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?”

He challenged us to have gospel discussions in our homes about the scriptures as we read them. Daily scripture study puts us on higher ground.

He next talked of the many scriptures that talk of the Savior’s Song of Redeeming Love. He mentioned many of them, scriptures about the atonement.

Then he told a story of going to Oregon to reorganize two stakes into three. He said he interviewed a man that came in with this beautiful shock of pure white hair. He said the man was so happy he was radiant. When he asked him why, he said, “Because I know you are here to call new stake leaders and I know you are not going to choose me.”

That night, he met this man again and his beautiful wife was with him. He said she too, had this incredibly pure white hair and was radiant as her husband was. He asked her to tell him why she was so happy. She told her story to him. He asked her to tell that story in their Stake Conference Meeting the next day. She did.

She said that when her son was 12, he started to do drugs. A friend gave him one pill one day. He liked the roller coaster ride. The next day, his friend gave him another pill. This continued for some time, and then the friend told him that these pills cost money and he would have to start paying to have them. Well that was the time when money started to disappear in their home. It would go missing out of her purse and out of his father’s dresser drawer. Well things got worse. The son made it almost impossible to have family prayer, family home evening, and family scripture study. They took him to a doctor, but the doctor dismissed it saying all 12 year old boys are strange. This stuff continued till he turned 17, making their lives a living hell, then one night, he didn’t come home.

They were sad, but the sweet, spirit of the Lord returned to their home and they could now have family prayer and family scripture study and family home evening. Over time, they would say, “If Steve is still alive he would be 19 years old. Or if Steve is still alive, he would be 25 years old. Or if Steve is still alive, he would be 30 years old.”

One night they received an unexpected call. It was Steve. He said he was living in the gutter in California and he was considering taking his own life. He asked them if they would take him in. They said of course they would and wired him money for a plane ticket.

They waited at the airport for him to arrive. 13 years of worry had changed them, they were older and the hair of each had gone a pure white color. 13 years of living on the street with no vegetables and healthy food had changed Steve, also. They waited for him to exit the plane and kept asking, “Do you think that is him?” Finally, an emaciated, skinny, dirty fellow got off the plane. “Steve?” They called. “Mom? Dad?”
He called. They embraced and they took him home. They bathed him, and shaved him and fed him and his father gave him a Priesthood Blessing. They enrolled him in a drug rehabilitation program.

Why was she so happy now? Because that very week, they were going to meet Steve in Salt Lake to go through the temple with him to receive his endowments. After the meeting, they invited Elder Condie to accompany them to the temple for this special occasion in their lives. He arranged to be able to go. He said that he entered the Celestial Room first, and then came mother, dad and then Steve. Elder Condie said that he had read the Words of the Savior’s Song of Redeeming Love before, but that day, he saw and felt the Song of Redeeming Love. When that which was lost has been returned, it is a glorious thing.

Then he taught, “When you have been sealed to your family, it stays stuck, like a stamp stays stuck to an envelope.” He said that what we do at the veil is much more than a test. Great blessings are pronounced at the veil and he challenged us to listen for those blessings. He quoted this quote from Elder Orson F. Whitney of the Twelve. Elder Whitney said in April 1929 in General Conference:

“The Prophet Joseph Smith declared – and he never taught more comforting doctrine – that the eternal sealings of faithful parents and the divine promises made to them for valiant service in the Cause of Truth, would save not only themselves, but likewise their posterity. Though some of the sheep may wander, the eye of the Shepherd is upon them, and sooner or later they will feel the tentacles of Divine Providence reaching out after them and drawing them back to the fold. Either in this life or the life to come, they will return. They will have to pay their debt to justice; they will suffer for their sins; and may tread a thorny path; but if it leads them at last, like the penitent Prodigal, to a loving and forgiving father’s heart and home, the painful experience will not have been in vain. Pray for your careless and disobedient children; hold on to them with your faith. Hope on, trust on, till you see the salvation of God.”

He told another story about hearing a couple talk in an airport. They had been on a vacation to see 30 cities in 30 days. As they exited the plane in their very first city, the wife saw some Dutch Porcelain dishes that she just had to have. They bought them. They carried the heavy box everywhere with them for the rest of the trip. It was a great pain to get on and off buses and planes and became a great burden to them.

Now they were here waiting in their last airport for the plane to take them home and discussing these dishes. The husband wished they hadn’t bought them. The wife thanked him for lugging them around for her. Then after some silence, the wife wondered out loud where they were going to put them when they got home. They already had melmac plates in the cupboard and china and stoneware in the hutch. There was no place to put the Dutch Porcelain dishes. The husband said he hoped they got broke on the way home so they wouldn’t have to worry about it.

He then likened this to us and all the stuff that we place great value on in our lives. We need to get rid of these burdens and place our efforts on the important things that will get us to higher ground. We need to go from being a privileged people to being a holy people. He challenged us to go to the temple often. Then he bore his testimony. As he did, he said that President Hinckley never referred to the Prophet Joseph Smith in the past tense. He always said, “He is a prophet of God.” He said that even though he is not here with us, he has a great interest in what is going on here on the earth.

He ended by pronouncing a blessing on the congregation. He said, “I give you a blessing that you will have peace in your lives as you draw near to Christ through scripture study, Family Home Evening, family prayer, and temple attendance. You will be on high ground and be protected.”

The meeting ended with the Primary Choir singing the song, “If the Savior Stood Beside Me.”

If the Savior stood beside me, would I do the things I do?
Would I think of His commandments and try harder to be true?
Would I follow His example? Would I live more righteously,
If I could see the Savior standing nigh, watching over me?

If the Savior stood beside me, would I say the things I say?
Would my words be true and kind if He were never far away?
Would I try to share the gospel? Would I speak more reverently
If I could see the Savior standing nigh, watching over me?

If the Savior stood beside me, would my thoughts be clean and pure?
Would His presence give me strength and hope, and courage to endure?
Would His counsel guide my actions? Would I choose more worthily
If I could see the Savior standing nigh, watching over me?

He is always near me, though I do not see Him there
And because He loves me dearly, I am in His watchful care
So I'll be the kind of person that I know I'd like to be
If I could see the Savior standing nigh, watching over me.

It was a really good meeting. I am so glad I was able to attend and to feel the spirit there. I should tell you of the other great talks, but not tonight. It is getting late. It is 11:30 and I have been really trying to get to bed earlier, so I will quit for now. I did write you several very long letters this week on Wednesday. I sent them by Dear Elder, so you will have some to watch for in the next couple of weeks. I will try to send you some more that way this week.

I also wrote a bunch of letters to other missionaries this week who are serving in your mission. I wrote to those that have blogs that I have been reading thanking them for the opportunity to learn more about your mission. I also wrote to Elder Bartolomei and to Elder Bejar thanking them for being such great companions to you. I got a really nice e-mail from Lisa Bartolomei. She said you had written to thank her for the Lemon Bars she sent to you and Blake in the MTC. Thanks for being the kind of son I always wanted you to be. Thanks for being considerate enough to write and thank those who help you along the way.

I love you dearly and I am so very, proud of you. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to be your mother. It is a great blessing to me. I know you are doing your very best to act the part of a dedicated missionary and to bring the spirit into the lives of those you teach. You bring great joy into my heart. Be happy and joyous! Enjoy each and every day! You are loved and appreciated by us and by your Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Keep the Holy Ghost with you always.

Love always and forever,


2009_02_09 Questions

While reading last week's email again in the afternoon, I thought of a bunch of questions I wanted to ask Curtis, so I wrote him an email with them and sent it that day. When I wrote on Sunday, I had forgotten that I had sent the earlier email, so I ended up asking him a lot of the same questions again. He patiently answered most of them twice.

Mom Wrote on Mon, 02 Feb 2009 15:19:02 -0700

Hi Curtis,

I enjoyed your email. I just wish it was longer and you would tell us a whole lot more. We love to hear everything about what you are doing. Your first photo arrived fine. Your second one did not. I was glad I could login to your email or I wouldn't have gotten it. It was a cute photo. "The Mighty Mouse Hunters!"

We will pray that Mariella and her daughters and niece will come to church and keep progressing so that you can baptize them. There is not much you can do about the girls who are in love with you. It is just one of those things. I am sure you are a giant compared to these little teenage girls. It is comical to think about.

Did you find any boots in a giant size 12?

Yeah, but it isn´t raining much, so I haven´t had much opportunity to use them yet.

Are your feet staying dry?

Yeah. They are fine.

How is the rainy season?

It is actually quite dry. We haven´t gotten a whole lot of rain yet.

Do you get wet every day now or is it still raining mostly at night?

It rains mostly at nights, so we aren´t getting really wet.

In the first photo, you look like you are either sweating a lot or just come in out of the rain. Which is it?

We just came in out of the rain. In the photo, we are soaked.

You don't look like you are using your sunscreen. You are pretty red. Are you?

No, I am not.

Do you need more?

No. I have three tubes.

Does it help or do you just sweat it all off?

I just sweat it off.

Are you at least protecting those tender ears and your nose?


I don't want you to have skin cancer later in life, you know.

Yeah, I know.

Where did you get the tie you are wearing in the first photo? It is a thinner black tie. I don't remember sending one like that with you.

I think it is blue, but because it is wet it looks black and Elder Bartolomei gave it to me.

You do look like you have lost some weight. You look really good and healthy and happy. I am glad. It brings me peace to know you are looking so fine. Please tell us more about your companion. Is he a good hard worker? Is he a good missionary?

Yeah, he is great. We are working hard.

Are you working hard and being effective as missionaries together?

Yeah, we don´t have any problems.

Are you getting along well?


He looks like he has a sense of humor like Elder Bejar. Do you enjoy him as much or more than Elder Bejar?

Yeah, he does. He is different than Elder Bejar.

What things has he taught you?

We are working on my teaching, making it better.

How did you catch the mouse? Did you just beat it to death with the brooms?

I beat it to death with a broom and today I killed two more in the house.

Do you have a lot of mice in your apartment or is this the first one you have noticed?

This is the first, but I killed two more today and Elder Bejar with Elder Contreras killed two.

Don't they have mousetraps down there?

I don´t know. We just kill the ones that we see.

Do you burn the incense to help it smell better in the apartment?

Yeah, it helps a lot.

Has Elder Alcocer been able to repair the fans that Elder Bejar broke? Are you keeping cool in your apartment?

No, we threw the fans away, but we should be getting new ones this week. But it is ok. We have one fan that works and we know how to share, so we are fine.

What black t-shirt is that that you are wearing in your photo of the mouse hunt? I don't remember sending you one like that.

It is a shirt that our zone had made. In the front, it says un missionaro de exito or a missionary of success or a successful missionary. In the back, it has a photo of a stick figure baptizing another stick figure and it says Elder Goode above the photo.

More questions later. I have to go take Braxton to soccer practice?I love you lots.


Monday, February 2, 2009

2009_02_02 Week 15 Balzar Mom

I didn't send Curtis a list of questions this week, just a few in my regular email to him which he didn't answer in his email. Thus his email is short. I guess I will go back to the questions next week again. It seems we get more information that way. He did include two photos with his email this week. This is Curtis with his new companion, Elder Christian Alcocer. Notice that he has lost some weight. He looks really good, except for the sunburn. It doesn't look like he is using the sunscreen he took with him. I will have to ask him about it next week. He is either sweating a lot in this photo or just come in from the rain. I don't remember sending that tie with him, so I am not sure where it came from. Another question for next week. He does look good and healthy and happy and that is comforting for his mother to see.

Hey! How is everything? Things in Ecuador are good. We have been working hard here in Balzar. We have found people to teach, but we are still having trouble finding people that will progress in the gospel. We only have one person right now that is progressing towards baptism. Her name is Mariella. She lives in Relicario. Her sister is a member and lives in the Casa Capilla or house church that we meet in in Relicario. She wants to be baptized, but she is having some doubts, but we are helping her to overcome those. After she is baptized, we are pretty sure that her two daughters will be baptized, too. One is 13 and the other is 11 and there is a niece that is 12 that we have met, too, that seems interested in the gospel or I guess I should say the gringo that preaches the gospel. Fetch! The girls here, especially the young girls 12 or 13 years old are all in love with me, I swear.

Things are good. I killed my first mouse in Ecuador the other day. It was in our house.

Notice that Curtis is holding the dead mouse and seems pretty happy about it. I guess this is as close to hunting and killing animals as he is going to get for a while. I am sure they made a good time of it as evidenced by the funky atire. Brooms would not be his weapon of choice, but I guess you must make do with what you have. We have the movie "Mouse Hunt" on DVD and I remember watching him as he watched that movie. He was laughing so hard at the antics of that sly little mouse in the movie. I am sure he would never want one of those creatures to get the best of him. Poor little creature! He was probably frightened to death by such a giant pursuing him.

I do notice that his pants are muddy at the bottom which is probably what they are looking like most of the time now with the rainy season upon them. He is wearing his shower shoes. I imagine he wears them around the apartment a lot. He didn't tell us if he found boots in his size or not. Maybe next week.

I made a cool thing to hold incense while it burns the other day out of a piece of bamboo. It is pretty cool.

We have been working in Palestina a lot the past two weeks to help the members there. They want to form their own branch, so we have been working to find more families so they can form a branch with their own missionaries.

2009_02_02 Week 15 Balzar Clain

Clain wrote to Curtis on Sun, 01 Feb 2009 19:11:31 -0700
Curtis replied back on February 2, 2009

Hi Curtis

What does your companion like to do for fun?

I am not sure. He likes to fix things. We do that a lot.

We can't remember Elder Bejar's first name. Could you tell us again?


I am making deer jerky this week. Would you like me to send you some?

Yes. Please!

Do you use the plan of salvation puzzle to teach anyone?

Yes I use it about 4 or 5 times a week to teach. It is a great way for the people to understand the plan of salvation.

Have you used Alma and Samuel the Lamanite to teach? Would you like us to send you any more things like that?

No I haven´t used Alma yet. He is the only one that I have. I don´t have Samuel the Lamanite.

When Clain was writing this last night, I told him it was Samuel the Lamanite that I had sent, but when I tried to find photos of them today, I realized it was the Stripling Warrior that I had put in his last package. I will have to get the Samuel the Lamanite figure for the next package.

I bought a Stripling Warrior figure and sent it to him in the fifth package we sent to Ecuador. It is the one that has all the letters from his cousins that were written at the Christmas party. He should have received that package by now. It was sort of a Valentine's Package so we hope it arrives there before Valentine's Day. Maybe he will get it this week.

Alma was a figure mom hid in his suitcase when we sent him off to the MTC. Alma was a great missionary, so we hoped the small figurine would help encourage him to be like Alma.

"O that I were an angel, and could have the wish of mine heart, that I might go forth and speak with the trump of God, with a voice to shake the earth, and cry repentance unto every people!

Yea, I would declare unto every soul, as with the voice of thunder, repentance and the plan of redemption, that they should repent and come unto our God, that there might not be more sorrow upon all the face of the earth.

I know that which the Lord hath commanded me, and I glory in it. I do not glory of myself, but I glory in that which the Lord hath commanded me; yea, and this is my glory, that perhaps I may be an instrument in the hands of God to bring some soul to repentance; and this is my joy."

Alma 29:1-2, 9

The Stripling Warriors are great heroes for missionaries. They were strong, valiant, courageous, true and faithful.

"And they were all young men, and they were exceedingly valiant for courage, and also for strength and activity; but behold, this was not all - they were men who were true at all times in whatsoever thing they were entrusted.

Yea, they were men of truth and soberness, for they had been taught to keep the commandments of God and to walk uprightly before him."

Alma 53: 20-21

"Now they never had fought, yet they did not fear death; and they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their lives; yea, they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them.

And they rehearsed unto me the words of their mothers, saying: We do not doubt our mothers knew it."

Alma 56:47-48

"Yea, and they did obey and observe to perform every word of command with exactness; yea, and even according to their faith it was done unto them; and I did remember the words which they said unto me that their mothers had taught them.

And it came to pass that there were two hundred, out of my two thousand and sixty, who had fainted because of the loss of blood; nevertheless, according to the goodness of God, and to our great astonishment, and also the joy of our whole army, there was not one soul of them who did perish; yea, and neither was there one soul among them who had not received many wounds.

And now , their preservation was astonishing to our whole army, yea, that they should be spared while there was a thousand of our brethren who were slain. And we do justly ascribe it to the miraculous power of God, because of their exceeding faith in that which they had been taught to believe - that there was a just God, and whosoever did not doubt, that they should be preserved by his marvelous power.

Now this was the faith of these of whom I have spoken; they are young, and their minds are firm, and they do put their trust in God continually."

Alma 57:21, 25-27

2009_02_02 Week 15 Balzar Dad

Dad wrote on 02/02/09.
Curtis replied that same day.

Dear Curtis,

How is everything going? The first thing, did you get your fourth package that was sent right before Christmas and have you received the fifth package that has all the letters from your cousins?

What kind of knife do you want? old timer, swiss army, or one like we have. Have these last packages with the green labels been opened before you got them. I will get you a knife and send it to you.

I have got to go to class.

I Love You!



I received the fourth package that had peanut butter and honey in it with some cards. I haven´t received the fifth package yet. A pocket knife like the one I had, a Kershaw 1660 will be fine. The packages that I have received haven´t been opened, but if you are worried about it being a problem my companion has a solution. You can buy a stuffed animal, a duck or deer or something like that. You can unstitch part of it and put the knife in the stuffed animal and re-sew it back together and then when I receive the animal in the package I can un-sew the animal and retrieve the knife.