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.)
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 – Peace.
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?
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?
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?
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.)