Tuesday, April 21, 2009

2009_04_20 Week 3 Valencia Mom

Hey! How is it going. Sorry we didn´t get to the cyber in the morning. We went to some waterfalls with Elder Bartolomei and his companion, Elder Gabino. The waterfalls are in my sector. There are seven waterfalls that are one after another. It is really cool. We took a lot of pictures and had a lot of fun.

That is neat. I saw some photos of some waterfalls on Google Earth. I wondered if you would get to go see them. I am glad you did. How has your week been? Did your baptism work out?

Yeah. My baptisms didn’t work out this week, but we are working on it. Here are some pictures.

What is the name of the place where the waterfalls are?

Mountain Mana. The waterfalls are called the Chorreras of the Mana. I gotta go. I love you very much.

Curtis only managed to send us one photo of the waterfalls.

This is a map of the Sector where Curtis is serving. La Mana is actually in the Quito mission, but La Mana is isolated by the mountains, so Curtis's sector crosses into the Quito Mission to pick up this area.

Google Maps had this map of the terrain in the area. There are photos placed on the map of some of the waterfalls that Curtis talked about. I would assume the water is flowing from South to North on this map or down out of the mountains towards La Mana.

These links have additional photos of the waterfalls taken by a visitor who posts as spektrumkry on Panoramio.




2009_04_20 Week 3 Valencia Dad

Dear Curtis How is everything going? Did you have any baptisms this week? How many investigaters do you have? What are your plans for the rest of your P-day?

Kavin brought Grandma and Grandpa back from Arizona late Saturday night, so I took them to Smithfield yesterday. I have got therapy on my back tonight at 6:00, so I will have to hurry when I get home taking care of the birds. Clain went paint balling Saturday with Skyler up Farmington Canyon where you and Skyler used to go. There were six that went. He had fun.

What time are you going to be back on later? Write me back and I will send another reply. I Love You,
Love Dad

Hey! How is it going. Sorry that I didn´t write earlier. We went today to a set of waterfalls that are in our sector. There are seven waterfalls that are in a row. We hiked up above the waterfalls and then we hiked down the waterfalls. It was really cool. We went with Elder Bartolomei and his companion, Elder Gabino. (He is also our District Leader.) It was awesome! After we got done, we missed the bus to go back to Valencia, so we had to walk and hitchhike back to the main road and then we took the bus. It was pretty amazing. I´ll try to send some pictures before I get off.

That sounds like fun. I have got to go to therapy so I will check back later.

Monday, April 13, 2009

2009_04_13 Week 2 Valencia

Do you need more 1 GB SD cards?

I have two sd memory cards that are one gig and one that is two gigs that I bought with my other camera. I sold my other camera to Elder Nayra for $140 with one of my one gig cards so that leaves me with only one card that is one gig.

Is there anything special you want or need in this next package?

This is Elder Alocer with Curtis's flags in Balzar.

Not that I can think of. Elder Bartolomei wants an american flag but he says that he wants to pay for it. He says that he know you will buy one and give it to him, but he says that he wants to pay.

Duct tape? (Another elder keeps asking his parents for more duct tape. Useful I guess.)

(No answer.)

Please explain why you are withdrawing money all the time?

Because in Balzar we were using a lot of money in travel expenses and I wasn’t having enough money with just my giro to cover everything, so I had to withdraw money.

Have you heard anything about trouble with mail or money down in Ecuador?

They aren’t letting our materials into the country. President Correa wants to close Ecuador to imports so that the people will start producing their own goods here in Ecuador, but it is hurting us because we don’t have enough pamphlets and other materials to teach.

Are you buying souveniers, paying for the people to get married or just running out of money each week?

A little of everything. We pay for the marriages. We pay for everything here. I haven’t bought a lot of souveniers, just things that I need.

What did you do on Easter yesterday? Tell us something that made the day special for you. How do they celebrate Easter in Ecuador? Are there any holidays coming up?

This is a photo of a cake made with Platanos.

I went to the ward here in Valencia, fasted, had a great lunch of rice with marinated and fried chicken with manestras or beans and after we had a slice of cake that was made from ripe platano or maduro, as they call it here. It is similar to a banana, but it isn’t. After, we visited the people that went to church, our investigators and the members that are a little inactive.

We had dinner in the house of one of the members and taught a little bit about Christ. Here they don’t celebrate Easter. It is called Semana Santa or the Holy Week, so we explained that we celebrate this every week in the church when we partake of the sacrament and that we don’t need to wait for just one time in the year to remember Jesus Christ, so it was good, but very different. One of the traditions of Semana Santa is that last Friday, they don’t eat meat, beef or chicken or pork, but they do eat fish. It is a little weird, but o well.

The other missionaries wrote a lot about Carnival, but you didn’t. Did they celebrate it much in Balzar? Did you get wet and hit by balloons very often?

In Balzar, they did celebrate Carnival, but I didn’t get wet at all. They tried to hit me a few times, but no one here played baseball like I did, so their aim isn’t very good, so I didn’t get wet at all.

Tell us all about your new companion. What is his full name?

I don’t know.

Where is he from?

Lima, Peru. Who would have guessed my third companion and my third companion from Peru.

Tell us about his family.

He comes from a family of 11 kids. He has family that live in New York.

What does he like?

He likes to play guitar.

How long has he been a member?

He joined the church when he was nine. I think he is now 26.

How long has he been out serving on his mission?

He is in the same group as Elder Bejar. He will complete 16 months in May and he will go home in November.

How long has he been serving in Valencia?

This is his fifth change in Valencia. He was here 4 changes with the same Elder.

Can you please attach a photo of him to an email and send it today?

Are you getting along well?

Yeah we are getting along fine. We cook food from Peru, so we don’t have any problems.

How old is he?


Do you like Valencia?

Yeah, it is littler than Balzar, more quiet and less people, but our sector is big here, too. We are the only sector that enters into the mountains. We have a part of our sector that is called La Mana. It is in the mission Quito, but it is very far from where the missionaries are in the mission Quito, so we pass into the mission Quito to teach in this part. It is really cool. The climate here is better. It is cooler and more fresh here. Sometimes you can see the mountains when the smog clears up a little bit, but so far that hasn’t happened yet.

Have you met many of the members yet?

I have met a lot of members, but there are a lot of members that are inactive, a lot like Balzar.

How big is the church there?

There is about 300 members and about 75 active members.

Do they have a branch or a ward? How large?

It is a ward, but a ward for two weeks. They changed just before I got here.

Do you cover any of the surrounding towns or cities?

Yeah the Mana and some other places that are a ways away, about an hour or an hour and a half.

Can you see the mountains to the east of you now?

(He answered it above.)

Are you enjoying the fruit in Valencia? What kinds have you found there?

This is a Zapote. I searched on the internet and it looks like they come in different varieties or colors.

I am eating a lot of bananas and oranges, but here the oranges aren’t orange, they are green. There is a fruit here that is called zapote and one called achote they are really good. There is pineapple and apples, grapes, pears. There is a pear here that is a reddish purple. I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m sure I will.

What are those little round orange and red fruits that were in your earlier photos?

I think those were mangos.

It appears you are playing a game in many of the photos and a couple of the videos. It appears that you are doing this at Family Home Evening Activities. Was the game part of your lesson? Explain please. It looks like hot potato with a stuffed animal. Then the person who ends up with the item is "it" and gets their face painted with marker or pink lipstick. Is that right? What is the purpose?

Yeah, that is the purpose of the game. It is to have fun, so that the investigators know that the church is more than just what is in the church.

Another game seems to be to have people put your body parts in positions and you have to stand and hold it that way while they move you.

This is a form of punishment, if the person doesn’t want their face painted. It is called the statue.
They each take a turn putting you into different positions around. Is that right? What is its purpose? What did the horns on everyone’s head mean in the one set of pictures with the hot potato game?

I am not for sure why they did the horns, but o well.

Elder Alcocer seems like quite a funny guy. It looks like you had lots of fun with him. Are you enjoying your new companion as much? Are you working hard?

Yeah, we are working hard and having fun.

Do you have any baptisms lined up?

We had one baptism this last Saturday and we are planning on another one this Friday, too.

Did you have any more baptisms before your transfer?

No, but I left a family of 8 for Elder Alcocer and his new companion. They will be able to baptize 4 of this family this Saturday.

Explain all of the hand gestures please. What do they mean in Ecuador?
Thumb up -
The same as in the US.
Two thumbs up -
The same, too.
Thumb and pinky finger up -
For the missionaries, this means aposticia.
Thumb, index and pinky finger up - I don’t know this one.
Index and pinky finger up, thumb holding middle and ring finger down -
I don’t know.
Index and middle fingers up –
Both hands up in the air, fingers outstretched –
(No answer.)
Any others I missed?

Have you given more talks in church?

No, not lately.

Do you bear your testimony on Fast Sundays?

No, but if no one was bearing theirs, I would, but there are always people, so it isn’t a problem.

The church house in Balzar is small. They use the chapel for a cultural hall as well. How many other rooms does the church have in it?

It had a room for the Relief Society and four classrooms, the office of the Presidente and the secratary office.

How big is the church house in Valencia ?

It is a bit bigger, about the same design as Balzar, but everything is bigger.

Do they have a regular meeting schedule like we do? Do they have the three hour block?

Yeah, they meet at nine in the morning for three hours.

Do they have Young Men and Young Women activities each week?
In Balzar, no, but here they have seminary and institute every week.

Do they have Relief Society activities each month?


Who is your Zone Leader now?

Elder Contreras. I replaced him in Balzar, when I first arrived.

Who is your District Leader now?

Elder Gabino and Elder Janampa.

How many districts are in your zone?


Where is Elder Bartolomei serving? You told me the name, but I can’t find it anywhere on Google Earth. I can see a map with the cities, but no satellite view of the area.

The Republica. It is a sector of Quevedo. It isn’t a city, just a part of Quevedo.

There is a video of a lady washing clothes. Was that your Mamita de Ropa? What are the boys names. They are cute?

Yeah, that was our mamita in Balzar and the kids were Rambo and Cocoa.

Do you have a mamita de ropa in Valencia?


Tell us about your apartment. What is it like? Better or worse than Balzar?

It is good. It is smaller than Balzar, but we have air conditioning in our bedroom. We only have one bathroom, so we have to share, but we have hot water that works.

Are you and your companion that only missionaries in Valencia? Do you share your apartment with any other elders?

No, it is just us here in Valencia.

Does the city seem level or is it on a hill. The elevation makes it look like it would be on a hill with a gradual incline. Do you notice that you are going up and down?

No, I haven’t noticed anything.

Do you have to walk as much as before?

Yeah, we are walking still.

Do they have busses within the city?

Here in Valencia there isn’t much businesses, but in Quevedo there are a lot, so if we need something we can go to Quevedo.

One of the videos is on a bus and appears to be mostly members on the bus. Were you going to or from church? Elder Alcocer is doing a video of the trip. Was that with your camera? Did he have a camera? Did you make him copies of all of the photos and videos?

It was with my camera. Yeah, we copied all of the pictures and videos for him. This was a trip to a district conference in Vinces. It is like our Stake Conferences.

Please try to attach some photos each week to your letters. Resize the photos and save them with a new name, so you keep the originals. Then attach the smaller files.

You sent money in your package. Did you know it is illegal to send money into or out of the country? Why did you send a torn 20 dollar bill? Does that mean it is no longer legal currency? The money and package arrived just fine.

We use American money here. These were sucres. They aren’t in service any more.

Your note to the pouch monkey said it had y 20 moneras antiguias. Does that mean the money was antique or no longer useable because it was torn?

No, it just means that the money isn’t usable any more. They don’t use sucres here anymore, so it is ok to send them.

Did you buy the banana stickers or have you saved that many of them?
The people that work in the bananeras, where they grow the bananas, give the stickers to the missionaries.

Was Elder Alcocer working hard or was he getting a little trunky?

Elder Alcocer was working hard.

Did you buy the machete?

No, this machete we borrowed to cut weeds it was President Ruiz’s machete.

Did you buy the hats?

(The guy on the left is a member who went with them to lots of their appointments. Curtis said he was 15 or 16 years old.)

I bought one hat. Elder Alcocer bought the other two. They cost two dollars each.

Is there a Quevedo soccer team that the shirts represent or do the shirts just advertise the city?

(No answer.)

The cemetery you showed, is it in Balzar?


How many funeral processions did you see while living in Balzar?
I saw about twenty different processions.
(The Catholic Church was just down the street from Curtis's apartment in Balzar. The funeral processions would walk right past his apartment to get to the cemetery.)

Did you do service for the members by cutting their grass with the machete or were you just playing around that day?

We were providing service that day.

What kinds of service do you do for the people each week?

Cut grass and weeds. Just about whatever they want us to do.

The blue boat was interesting. Were the photos on the same day, wet and dry or on the same trip across the river or different trips? Were you crossing the river that day? Do you have to hold on to the rope as you cross the river?
One was when we crossed the first time and the other was the return trip. Elder Alcocer took the pictures of me when we crossed the first time and I took them of him the second time when it was raining.

You really didn’t do hand over hand on that rope to cross the river did you?

We didn’t, but the guy that was behind us, who owns the boat, did. He crossed hand over hand the whole way about forty times every day.

Do they raise the pigs for food or just for pets?
For food.

How did Moroni Ruiz break his arm?

He fell down some stairs.

Are you healthy and happy?
Yeah, I am fine.

(He is sunburned, but he looks happy. I don't think he will ever turn brown. Just a bright red or pink.)

That is probably more questions than you will take time to answer this week. I will save some for next week.

I love you so very much. Take care.



Thanks Curtis. It is great to hear from you. Thanks for all the great answers. Tell me more about what you have been doing this week and try to send me a photo of your companion if you have your camera with you.

Do they have a cyber cafe for you to email from?
Did you get the packages yet?

I got two packages Wednesday from you. Thank you for the root beer extract and the jerkey. I sent some pictures but I don’t know if they will come fast or not through email.

You are welcome. I am glad the packages arrived sooner this time. Sorry about the St. Patrick's day one. I bought the card and forgot to put it in the package with the sharpeners like I had planned to.
I got an email with two photos. One has a fuzzy fruit and one has you praying and I am assuming your new companion reading on the end of the bed.

What does aposticia mean? The translation site won't translate it.
Cool photos. What kind of fruit is that? What does it taste like?

Is that your new companion in the photo? It is cool. Thanks. You should send a copy of it to your mission president. Are you writing him a longer letter this week?

Have you had any problems with fleas. One mom recommended flipping the mattress over whenever you got to a new area. Also, putting the mattress outside in the sun to bake the yucky stuff out of it. She suggested studying outside so you could keep an eye on it. Another suggestion was to buy a dog flea collar and put it in your bed during the day while you are out. If no fleas now, maybe it will be good information for some later situation you will encounter.

It is really funny that all of your companions have been from Lima, Peru. Did any of them know each other before they came on their missions?
I loved the photo at McDonalds. That was a great shot of you. I will print that one out and put it up on the wall. Don't worry about the money. I will put your tax refunds in your account and try to keep at least a couple hundred in there for you.

Aposticia is anything that is against the teachings of the church for example wearing the cross, praying to santos or idols they do that here, and many other things and when we are teaching if one of us teaches something wrong the other does this symbol the thumb and pinky up and the rest down and touches their forhead the other knows that he has taught something wrong and needs to teach it over again.

The fruit in the picture is achote. It is fuzzy on the outside, but on the inside it is like gel. You put the gel in your mouth and suck on it and when it doesn´t have any flavor left you spit it out and get another one. There is a seed in the center that you don´t eat, but it reminds me of a nut.

Cool. The fruit sounds very interesting. Did you lose your internet connection earlier? Are you at a cyber cafe?

Yeah, I am at a cyber café. Where else would I use internet? My companion does things a little differently. We write a little in the mornings and then in the evening before we leave to teach we go back to the cyber so that we can read what the people have written us and we can reply again.

Well that is awesome. I can deal with that. I thought maybe you had just lost your connection because you disappeared without saying goodbye.

The photo of the two of you is cool. Do you have more photos of your companion and apartment?

Which fruit do you like the best that you have eaten down there?

Do they eat very many vegetables. You have shown us corn and talked about beans and rice. Do they eat any other vegetables?

What else have you done today on your p-day?

Is there anything fun to go and see on p-days in your new area?

So why are you making that hand gesture in some of the photos that you sent?

Please explain the "corn live forever" thing from the video where Elder Alcocer is husking the corn.

Do they use the husks in their cooking? Is that why he his husking it one layer at a time?

(No answer to these questions. Maybe next week.)

Monday, April 6, 2009

2009_04_06 Transfer to Valencia Mom

Hey! How are things in Utah? I am doing good here in Ecuador. I am now in the zone Quevedo North and in the sector Valencia. It is a city about ten minutes outside of Quevedo. My companion is Elder Neyra. He is from Peru. Elder Alcocer is with an elder from Mexico now. Elder Alcocer will leave for his house this change on the 8th of May. I saw Elder Bejar in the terminal and we had a good chat and I met my brother in the mission, the second elder that Elder Bejar trained here in the mission. He is named Elder Lopez. Elder Bartolomei is in my zone now. He is in the sector, the Republica. Elder Alcocer was in the same sector about a year ago. He trained a missionary in this sector too. Elder Williams and Elder Felt are in the other zone still and Elder Smith is in Duran, in his first sector still. Elder Fewkes is back on the mission. He is serving in a mission in Idaho right now, speaking Spanish. He will be there for one change and then he will receive a call to see if he can come back to Ecuador or go to a different mission or stay in the one he is at. He went home for medical reasons, but he tried really hard to stay in the mission. I talked today with one of his companions that told me all of this.

The conference was good. Elder Alcocer was sick with a fever of 104, so he couldn´t leave the house, but we did go to Quevedo to the doctor for him and then to the first session of conference on Saturday. On Sunday, I left a member with Elder Alcocer and went with another member to pick up some investigators and we took them to Vinces and watched conference, the first session and then we went back to Balzar. So I didn´t get to see the afternoon sessions or the Priesthood session. I watched the first session in English and the second session in Spanish.

Here in Valencia, there is a lot of farms. They call them fincas in Spanish, that have bananas or platanas or pineapples or mangos or other fruit. Elder Nayra says that the members here all have their fincas, so they like to give the elders fruit. So I am going to be eating a lot of fruit for the next six months, it looks like. Tell me if you can find Valencia in Google Earth. If you can´t, I will see what I can do to help you find it. Oh, the fruit in the pictures I sent you in December was a mango and the pictures that you have posted as the moon is the sun on a cloudy day.

Mango in Balzar

Sun on a Cloudy Day in Balzar

I sent you a package Wednesday so you should receive it in about four weeks. It has a DVD with just about all of the pictures of my mission on it. I also sent some letters and a bunch of gifts for dad. I think he will like them. Well it is getting late and I gotta go, but I love you very much.

Elder Goode

Thanks Curtis. It is awesome to hear from you. I am sorry you missed so much of conference. It was really awesome. I will get the Ensign and the Liahona and send them to you in a package. I am glad you are going to get a change of scenery. Work really hard. Take time to set some wonderful goals with your new companion. Tell us more about him next week in your letter.

Google Map Image of Ecuador

I can't see Quevedo much. It is in that stupid white area that goes up through the middle of Ecuador. It is frustrating. I want to just wipe it all away so I can see what is hiding underneath there. I wish so much they would update their Google Maps and clear this area. It is like they are hiding some national secret under that area or something. Take lots of photos of the area because that is the only way we will know what it is supposed to look like.

I love you lots! Take care.
Love always and forever,


Note: I have placed a new map at the bottom of the blog page that shows where Curtis is now compared to where he was before the transfer. Up to the right, there is a Volcano that has filled up with water to make a lake. You can see it on the map. It is not in Curtis's mission. I pulled out the Mission Map to compare. The dividing line looks like it runs almost along the base of that mountain range.

Curtis should at least be able to see the mountains now. His last area was just completely flat with no mountains in view in any direction. It might seem a bit more like home with mountains to the east like we have in Utah along the Wasatch Front. They are high mountains, but probably a different sort of mountain than the Wasatch Mountains.

Our home in West Point is at an elevation of 4,231 feet above sea level. The highest point on the mountains to the east is 9,051 feet above sea level, a difference of 5,820 feet.

Valencia is at an elevation of 443 feet above sea level. The highest point on the mountains to the east is 12,700 feet above sea level, a difference of 12,300 feet.

Our home in West Point is fourteen miles from the highest point on the mountain range due east. Valencia is 39 miles from the highest point on the mountain range due east, a distance almost three times as far as at home. That would be like looking at the mountains on the north east side of Morgan. I don't know if he will be able to see them that far away.

The terrain is quite different. Where we live, the land is relatively flat till right at the base of the mountains, then it rises quickly up to the full elevation in only a distance of about three miles. In Ecuador, the elevation increases at a fairly steady rate from Valencia right to the top of the highest peak. I suspect Curtis will be doing a bit more climbing up and down in his new sector, up as he goes to the east and down when he goes to the west, but it will be a gradual change both directions. I wonder if he will notice. He is about 300 feet above sea level higher than he was in Balzar.

2009_04_06 Transfer to Valencia Clain

Hi Curtis,

Nitro is doing great we play with her lots. I am going to take her to Ogden Bay this week. I saved some ducks to train the dogs this summer.

We have new Elder missionaries in our area. They come to mission prep every week. They taught a lesson a couple of weeks ago.

I have been working a lot. I am going to work tomorrow for 8 to 10 hours because we don't have school this week.

Did you like general conference?
Did you see the Priesthood session?
Have you killed any more mice?
What was your favorite talk?
Have you had any good experiences?
Do you want any more deer jerky?
How was the deer jerky I sent you?



Hey buddy,

Elder Robert D. Hales

How are you doing? The conference was great we had two investigators come to the conference with us. I didn´t get to see the afternoon sessions or the Priesthood session. My favorite talk was by Elder Hales, Provident Living. This talk would really help the people of Ecuador if they would practice this in their lives, because sometimes we see things that we think we need when we really don´t need them and when we buy on impulse we aren´t living prudently.

Today I changed zone and sector. Now I am in Quevedo North in the sector called Valencia. My companion is Elder Neyra. He is from Peru, like my other companions have been.

If you could, send me more jerky, I would like that very much. The jerky was very good. I guess I taught you well how to make jerky.

Well buddy, I have to go, but I love you lots. Keep going to Mission Prep. It will help you a lot. Tell them you want to learn more from Preach My Gospel, because the manual is for us to learn how to be missionaries.

I love you.

Elder Goode

2009_04_06 Pokemon in Ecuador

Braxton wrote to Curtis on Sun, 05 Apr 2009 19:51:41 -0600
Subject: Hi

How has Ecuador been for you so far? I can't believe that it's been almost eight months since you went to the MTC. I hope that you are still doing good and that you are feeling good and doing the work that you have been sent to do. I hope that you are having fun.

I finally got past the part on Pokemon Colleseum and I beat the entire game, but I still have to battle about 60 trainers in the Mt. Battle before Ho-oh will join my team and I have two Suicune and two Raikou and one Entei. I have the three starters from Gold and Silver over on Saphire and have hatched the eggs of Chickorita and Totodile, but not Cyndyquil yet. But I am getting a lot farther on it and I am just sending Zigzagoons, Poocheyenas, and Wurples over to Colleseum for all of the Pokemon that I had to purify. I need to get the new pokemon game Platinum, but Mom won't let me buy it yet, even though I have 55.19 dollars. I also want to get Pokemon XD, Gale of Darkness. It has a Shadow Lugia and it has Zapdos, Moltres, and Articuno. I also want to get Pokemon Ranger, because there is supposedly a special mission after you beat the main story line that has a Manaphy which can be bred with Ditto to get Phione, which is a totally different species that doesn't even evolve into Manaphy. I doubt that I will have enough money to buy all three so I will probably get Platinum and then XD Gale of Darkness and then Pokemon Ranger.

I love you lots and miss you a ton. I miss having to run away from you and bugging Clain together, but I know that you are doing the right thing and setting a really good example for Clain and me. I hope that the people's minds and hearts will be open to the gospel.

Your little buddy (Braxton)

Hey little buddy,

Guess what? Today I am in a different city, in a different part of Ecuador. I am now in Valencia, in the zone Quevedo North. Things are going good. I am busy learning a new sector now. It is another huge sector like Balzar.

Hey that’s cool about finally beating the Pokemon Colleseum. Did you know that they have Pokemon here in Ecuador too?! They do! It is on TV and some kids, mostly the kids with rich parents, have Gameboys with Pokemon. Consider yourself lucky that you have the oportunidad to have Gameboys and games because some kids don´t. I love you buddy!

Love your Favorite Elder,

Elder Goode

Note from Mom:

Braxton at age 4

Braxton grew up loving Pokemon. Curtis had a Gameboy and a Pokemon game when Braxton was little and Braxton wanted one so badly. We finally gave in and got him his own Gameboy and Pokemon game, when he was four, because he was always messing with Curtis's Gameboy. We never thought he would be able to really play it, but he could. He learned to read by reading the words on that Gameboy screen. He could read very well before he ever started school. I thought at first that he was just identifying things by the pictures, but when I would write the words on a paper, he could read them, every single one and if I combined them into sentences, he could read those, too. He could even read to me out of the Guidebooks.

Braxton at age 2 on his bed

Curtis had a Pokemon poster of the very first 100 Pokemon. It hung on the wall right next to Braxton's bed. Braxton memorized every one of those Pokemon by name and number. He has always had a mind for math and an amazing memory. He could recite all 100 Pokemon when he was 2 years old. It was so cute. We could not believe it. I wish so much that we would have had a video camera back then to record those amazing moments. He could do it for several years. We laughed and laughed at the way he would rattle them off. If he got stuck, his eyes would roll up and to the left as his brain worked to retrieve the next Pokemon name. He was so very adorable with his two dimples.

Braxton has an amazing memory for details like his dad. He knows so much about Pokemon and luckily he has a couple of good friends who are also interested in Pokemon. They talk Pokemon all the time, even though it is not technically "cool" to be in love with Pokemon when you are in seventh grade. I think his love for Pokemon will last a lifetime.

Craig uses his amazing memory to keep all the details about his pigeons organized in his head. He can go back generation after generation and recite details of their race records. It is truly amazing. Craig can recite anything that has to do with numbers, like every phone number we have ever had. What a gift! Curtis seems to possess this same gift. We hope it is helping him to memorize all the scriptures that he has to have passed off by May 11th to his zone leader.

Each year, we try to ask the kids what things they want to do during the summer for fun. One summer, I think about 2001, the kids said they just wanted to have time to play during the summer. I promised them if they would work really hard all morning doing their chores, we would play all afternoon. We all got Gameboys, Pokemon games (red, blue and yellow versions), Legend of Zelda, Oracle of Ages Games and Oracle of Seasons Games, and Guidebooks. We had a blast that summer, Mom playing with the kids all afternoon. It was awesome. Braxton played all the hard parts for mom because I am just not that coordinated at video games. I think he beat all of my bosses in Zelda. It has had an interesting effect because now I know enough about both games that I can have an intelligent conversation with Braxton or the other boys about the games they are playing and I generally understand most of what they are saying. It has given us a common frame of reference. I think we will all remember it as one of our most favorite summers ever. I have always felt bad that Craig and Shara missed out. They were both gone to work all day.

I have been wondering all afternoon if I got Braxton a Pokemon game in Spanish if he would be able to learn to read Spanish. I think it might just work. The hard part would be learning to pronounce the words in Spanish the right way. Maybe a few Pokemon videos in Spanish would do the trick. :)