Monday, June 8, 2009

2009_06_08 Week 10 Mom

Dear Curtis,

I am asking lots of questions this week. I want lots of answers please. You have been in your new area for nine weeks now and I still don’t know much about it.

Where is your apartment in Valencia? You said it was about ten blocks from the police station. Is it in the middle of town, nice section, poor section, or what?

My house is four blocks from the main road that goes from Quevedo to the Mana. We live in the same street as the park that is in the middle of Valencia. The house is two floors. We live up stairs in half and another family, other members (the mom is one of our mamitas), lives next to us in the other half. Below in the first floor is the owners of the house. They aren´t members, but part of their family is members. The mom and sister of the wife are members. The mom is also one of our mamitas.

Describe your apartment. Main floor, upper floor?

We live in the upper floor.

How many rooms are there? What rooms?

We have three rooms or four. It depends how you count it. You will understand when I send the video of the apartment home. We have our bedroom, the bathroom, the kitchen, but the kitchen has a counter that separates it and the main room where we study, so three rooms, I guess.

Do you have a microwave? Toaster?

Yeah, we have a microwave, a toaster and a waffle iron, too.

Is it clean? Are you keeping it sanitary? Are you cleaning regularly?

Yeah, the house is very clean. We clean every pday. In the morning we get up the same time on pdays, but we have time in the morning, before ten, when we can leave to clean, so we clean everything every week.

What is Valencia like? How big? Compare to local cities near us.

Valencia is a little bit like West Yellowstone. If you remember, it has like one main road and then the rest is just houses. It is really quiet and peaceful here.

You said there are lots of fruit farms. Are they in town or all out of town?

All of the fruit farms are out of town. The people still have their banana tree in their house, but they all have their property in other places where they harvest all of their crops.

That news article said that there were 18 police officers hurt. Do all of those officers work in Valencia or were some from other areas?

I think that there are 8 police officers that work here in Valencia and then there were others from Quevedo and others from the Mana that came here to help out.

Has there been any more trouble in your sector because of the lynching?

No, there hasn´t been any more trouble. It has been really quiet and there haven’t been any more thieves or robberies either. I think the thieves are scared. I guess that is a good thing.

Do you still eat lots of chicken and rice or has your diet changed?

I am still eating a lot of chicken, but I am eating more beef now. The other day we ate lazania (lasagna) here. It was so cool. We are planning on Thursday to eat guine pig, so I will let you know next week how that goes. Elder Bartolomei was talking about eating iguana in his sector so I will ask him how that tastes, too.

Valencia seems to be much wetter than Balzar was. Are the streets always muddy? Do the storms come mostly at night?

Yeah, it rains mostly at night and we can only tell because the road is a little bit wet in the morning, but when the sun comes out it dries up quickly and you can’t tell that it rained.

Are your shoes and clothes holding up okay? Do you wear your boots now?

I haven’t had to wear my boots for quite a while now. Here in Valencia, the streets are just about all paved or they put little cement blocks together to make the roads a little bit like modern cobble stone roads, but they are just about level. My shoes and clothes are doing fine. I need to sew a few shirts and pants where the seams are coming undone, but nothing major.

Are there mosquitos and bugs?

Yeah, there are a few mosquitos and bugs, but they don’t bug me much, my companion they bug, but me, no.

Tell us more about your companion. You said he comes from a large family. Is he youngest, oldest, middle?

He is from Otavalo. He has a pony tail.

How many of his family still live in Otovalo? What do they do for a living?

They sell clothes that they make. That is why they travel, because they sell the clothes better in other parts than in Otavalo.

Why do they wear their hair in a pony tail? What is the significance?

It is their tradition. It is how they show respect to their parents. It is a disgrace to their parents if they cut their hair. It is like if I wanted to be rebellious and I grew my hair out and dyed it pink. I am showing that I am being rebellious. If they want to be rebellious, they cut their hair.

Why do they dress differently at Zone Conferences, all in white with slippers for shoes?

That is the customary fancy dress of the Otavalanios, so they are allowed to wear it here in the mission.

Who did he live with when he was in the United States?

I don´t know for sure.

How old is he?

He is 21.

What is his full name?

Francisco (I don´t know the other name and he won´t tell me either) Castañeda Arias

Are you getting along well? Are you working hard together?

For the most part, yes, we are getting along great, but he isn´t very excited to work, so I have been fighting the dilemma. Do I push him to work or do we work a little bit slower. I am worried that if I push him too much he will want to go back to his house again and not come back.

Tell us about the people you are teaching. How many? How are they progressing? Are any of them ready for baptism? Did you have any baptisms this week?

We are planning all of our baptisms this month for the twentieth of June. We have six people, but I think that the family of four that we are teaching won´t be ready. So we may have to postpone them for later, but we will see how it turns out this week and the next.

How are you coming on your goal to have five families who hold the priesthood and pay their tithing in La Mana?

Yeah, things aren´t going so good, but it takes time to find people that want to learn and want to go to church so we are working on it.

Have you contacted all of the people from your Day as a Missionary Activity?

Yeah, we are planning on doing it again July 11th to get more references.

Are you enjoying being a Senior Companion? Are you up to the challenge?

Yeah I think I am ready and the Lord knows that I am ready because if I wasn´t ready I would still be junior companion.

How are you coming on the Maestro?

I am working on it. I am going to take the written part this week during the interviews, so we will see how that goes.

Tell us about the members that help you the most with missionary work.

(No answer.)

What is the best thing that happened to you this week?

(No answer.)

What is the worst thing that happened to you this week?

(No answer.)

What is the funniest thing that happened to you this week?

(No answer.)

Have you had a Zone Conference lately? What did you learn?

Zone Conference is this Friday and interviews are on Thursday, so yeah I will tell you next week.

Did you get all three of the packages we sent? Was everything in good condition?

I received four packages last Wednesday and everything was in good shape. Thank you so much.

Is your testimony growing?

I am pretty sure that it is!

Are you happy and healthy?

Yeah. I now weigh 220 pounds. I am doing great!

Have you been to the bat cave yet? Tell us about it.

No. We haven’t been. Today we went to the seven waterfalls again.

Have you see anything else that is interesting?

(No answer.)

Well it is late again. Have a really great day. I hope to get a chance to talk to you, but that will probably only work later in the day. I love you forever.


Hey Curtis,

Thanks for the answers. It is nice to hear more from you. Did your companion leave once and go back to Otavalo? What other problems has he had? What are you doing to try to motivate him to work? Are you writing compliments about him to your mission president? That might help. If you tell the mission president that he is doing well, then hopefully the mission president will mention something to him in his emails that will make a difference. I am sure you were chosen for this challenge because the mission president thought you were up to it. He has given you a great compliment to believe that you have the power to turn this missionary around and help him to be successful. Keep trying and pray for inspiration to know what you should do to help him.

Are the mamitas that live near you the ones that feed you or the ones that do your laundry? It would be nice not to have to carry your laundry a mile across town.

Let us know how the guinea pig are. I would not be brave enough to eat them that way, but you have never been afraid of anything, so go for it and enjoy!!!

When Elder Castañeda started his mission, he started in Quevedo, but after three weeks he wanted to go home, so he told President Ridd that he wanted to go and President Ridd tried to talk him out of it, but he still wanted to go home. So he went. He was in his house for a month or more. I´m not for sure exactly how much time, but Elder Castañeda said it was more than a month. He wasn’t doing much in his house, sitting there watching TV and eating. After a while, I don´t know how much time, he wanted to come back to the mission. So he called President Ridd and asked him if he could come back and President Ridd told him to come. So President Ridd sent him back to the same sector with the same elder and he finished the second change in his mission and then he went to another sector for four changes with two different elders. And then to another sector for five changes with two different elders and then came here with me. So yeah, he isn´t very excited to serve. So I am trying to help him, but not push him.

The mamitas are for food. We changed our laundry mamita and now it is three blocks to the mamita, so not a lot to take our laundry.

Keep praying. When you pray together, pray for the incentive to work hard. If he hears you pray for him out loud, he will know you care about him and that he is not doing this alone. Be a good example for him. Push a little harder each day and a little harder each week. When you are back in the apartment, make sure you are still focusing on missionary minded things and not just idle chit chat or messing around. Let him know that you have a strong testimony of the gospel. We love you lots. We will pray for you both each time we pray. Maybe you could fast together for him to have a desire to work harder.

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