Tuesday, August 25, 2009

2009_07_17 Quevedo North Zone

Curtis corrected my guesses this week.
Below are the correct names for this photo.
Missionaries from Left to Right:

1 Elder E Coj – New Greenie – Guatamala
2 Elder Francisco Castañeda - Ecuador
3 Elder J Esselman - New Jersey
4 Elder R Peralta - Peru
5 Elder A Verastegui - Peru
6 Elder Blake Bartolomei - California/Virginia
7 Elder Donaldo Batista - Panama
8 Elder Curtis Goode - Utah (Our Awesome Son!)
9 Elder Jimenes – New Greenie – Argentina
10 Elder Amilcar Vargas - Guatamala
11 Elder Junior Lopez - Peru
12 Elder Mark Frye - California


Verastegui and Coj – Elder Verastagui is zone leader
Goode and Castañeda
Bartolomei and Esselman –Elder bartolomei is district leader
Frye and Lopez
Peralta and Batista
Vargas and Jiminez - Elder Vargas is district leader

Who are the District Leaders?
Elder Bartolomei and Elder Vargas

Which missionaries are in each district?

Elder Frye and Elder Lopez and my companion and I are in the district of Elder Vargas and his companion, Elder Jiminez.

Elder Verestegui and Elder Coj and Elder Peralta and Elder Batista are in the district of Elder Bartolomei and his companion, Elder Esselman.

Dexy's Baptism

Week 21 Valencia Emails with Mom

Dear Curtis,

I am so excited to hear about Dexy’s baptism. Please tell us all about it. Who attended? Did her family and friends all come?

No she didn´t want her family to come to the baptism and we haven´t yet had a chance to meet her family but we are going to try and set up an appointment this week.

You said you were teaching some of her siblings, how are they progressing?

We aren´t teaching any of her family yet.

What about her parents?

We aren´t teaching yet this week we are going to try and set up an appointment.

Are they willing to listen? Are you teaching her friends and their families?

Right now we are teaching the family of one of her friends but the problem is they don´t want to come to church because it is a ways away.

You said you were going to baptize her, did you?


Who did the confirmation?

The bishop

Was she confirmed in church on Sunday?


How is Isabel doing?

Isabel is doing good she is excited for her baptism this Saturday so things are going really good.

Did she attend church?

Yep she did!

Is she ready to be baptized this week?

Yep! She will have her interview this Wednesday and then Saturday she will be baptized.

Do you have any other investigators who are ready to be baptized?

Right now we don´t, but we are working on it we have a family of five that we are getting ready for baptism, but they are a few weeks out right now.

How is Esther doing?

Esther is doing good she hasn´t been coming to church so we are working on that so that she will come and then when she has been coming to church for three or four weeks she can be baptized without problems so we are just waiting and exorting her to come to church.

Shirley is the one that is going to go to school in Guayaquil and she went last week and she is there right now.

When does she leave to go to Guayaquil for school?

Last week.

What is she going to study there?

She is going to be studying computers and design I think or something like that.

You said you would send us a photo of her.

I took a picture last Sunday, but the problem is I left the camera in the house so I can't send you a picture right now.

How is Mosche doing?

He is doing good he is back with his wife or his girlfriend so we have to help them get married but I don’t know if they want to get married so we will see what happens.

Is he still listening to you on Saturdays and Sundays?

Ya, he still is, but his wife won´t let him come to church. So it is hard for him to progress, so we will see what happens.

You said you have an inactive family that gave you a reference. Are you still teaching them? Tell us more about them, please.

Yep they are the Arias family, a family that consists of the mom and four daughters that are eight or older and three kids one girl and two boys that are younger than eight. They are progressing the mom wants to be baptized so we are working on it. We still need to teach them a lot more before they can be baptized so that is where we are right now.

Tell us more about your companion. What city in Guatemala is he from?

He is from Guatemala city or the capital.

How many are in his family?

There is his mom and dad and then he has his older brother and an older sister and then him and he is the baby in the family.

How long has he been a member?

He has been a member all of his life.

Where did he serve prior to coming to you?

He was in Babahyo for six months and then he came here like I did.

This is Elder Dan Mitton with Elder Mauricio R Hernandez.
Elder Mitton was his trainer in Babahoyo.

Who were his other companions? There was a Mauricio R Hernandez who was companions with Dan Mitton in Babahoyo. I wrote down that Dan was his trainer. Is he your new companion? I am attaching a photo. Is this him? Send us a photo of him if you can.

Yes, he is my companion now. He was with an Elder Mittton, Elder Donoso and an Elder Rodriguez and now with me.

Please take a look at the other photo and my guesses about who each missionary is. Correct it and send it back please.

Please send photos soon. It has been a very long time since you sent us any. We only have a couple of photos since you have been in Valencia. We want to see the people and the places you visit and your apartment and your companions. Please.

Have you received any more packages, letters or cards?

Tell us about the people you are teaching.

I love you so much.
Love always and forever,

It sounds like you have been very busy. Congratulations on the baptism. I am glad it worked out. Next week, pictures, for sure! Promise me!

What special experiences have you had this week?

I am actually planning on bringing my camera to the cyber and leaving it there and having them put all of the pictures that I have on my cards on a dvd so that I can send it to you, so I think I will drop my camera off a little later today and pick it up tomorrow with the dvd all ready to go. But next week I will have all of the photos in one disk to send you some, ok?

Okay. It has been a very long time since you sent us any. We want to see all the places and people. Thanks.

Are you getting along well with your new companion? What does he like to do? I sent a photo of a missionary I think is him. Is it?

Yes that is him. He likes the computer and stuff like that. I gotta ask him more. He doesn´t like to talk very much, so I don´t know much yet.

You are together all week long. I know you are supposed to focus on the work, but you could ask him a little bit about himself. :)

What spiritual experiences have you had this week? Anything funny?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Excited for Dexy's Baptism

Week 20 Valencia to family

Hi everybody. How are things going? I am doing good. Sorry that I haven´t written in a while. This week we are planning on a baptism Friday night, so we are way excited. Dexy llaqueline (it is said Jacalin) Paez is going to be baptised and she is way excited. Well I hope all is going well with you let me know what is up, ok?

Elder Goode

Monday, August 17, 2009

Dr. Scholl's and Beto's

2009_08_17 Week 20 in Valencia - Email to Mom

Hey! How are things going? I am doing good. Today we are in La Mana having our pday. We came to La Mana because there is a place here that sells pizza that is really good. Today we split a meat lover’s pizza. It cost us four dollars each. That is really pretty good here when normally pizza is really expensive.

Well things are going pretty good. Dexy passed her interview Sunday and she will be getting baptised this Friday. She asked me to baptise her, so that is pretty cool. The really cool thing is that yesterday we were teaching our class in church and Dexy and Isabell were both there. We told everybody that was in our class that Dexy was going to be baptised and Dexy stood and bore her testimony that she was going to make a covenant with God and that it was something really sacred for her and do you know what happened? Isabell heard and she got excited and now she too wants to be baptised the week after Dexy, so now we have two baptisms. That is going to be so cool when it all works out.

So besides that we are working really hard trying to activate the less active members which is really working out good because we are finding lots of investigators through them and that gives us more reasons to visit the less active families and get them active again. So that is really cool. Today we have three Family Home Evenings. We are going on splits. Elder Hernandez will do one and I am going to see if I can combine the other two into one. If not, I will have to do two short ones, but let’s see what happens. It is really cool. The bishop here is really pushing to visit the people and it is paying off. We are seeing more and more people here in the church each week. This change is going to be a good one. I can feel it! I have a really good companion and we are working really hard. We are going to have lots of success. Well, if there is something else you want to know let me know. Ok?

I thought of a few other things that I want. Could you send me a pair of Doctor Scholl's insoles? Mine are about dead and here in Ecuador you just cut a piece of cardboard and put in your shoes when the insole dies, so if you could send me a pair my feet would really appreciate it.

Oh, ya, if you could send me Carne Asada Fries I would really appreciate it, too. Just put them on dry ice and send them and they will get here ok. I’m sure of it.

If not, send me a breakfast burrito. There is enough grease to preserve it, so don´t worry it will still be good when it gets here.

Things are really looking good now, so don´t worry. I haven´t gotten the pictures ready to send, so I´m sorry. Maybe next week.

One of Curtis's favorite places to eat is Beto's Mexican Restaurant. Their Breakfast Burritos are huge and the boys all love them. I was not so impressed because of all the grease, but all three of my boys love to eat there. They get so excited over a box of Carne Asada Fries! They are tasty, but I can only eat just a few. I wish I could send him some as a treat, but it is one sacrifice he will have to make. It will make him appreciate them more when he gets back home.
I wonder if he is getting tired of his diet of healthy rice and fruit?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

2009_08_10 Week 19 Valencia Mom

Do they have programs like Girl's Camp, Helaman's Camp, and Youth Conference down there?

They don´t do anything like Girl’s Camp or Helaman’s Camp here but they did have a Young Single Adult Conference in Manta this weekend so that is pretty cool.

Is there anything you need or want?

Right now there isn´t anything else that I need, but I will definitely let you know.

Do the people down there do any canning or preserving?

Here there really isn´t any canning or preserving but that is something that the leaders in the church are stressing right now, that the people start keeping a supply of food and money in their house. Here it isn´t hard to buy a sack of rice or beans and keep it in the house, but the people just aren´t doing it. The people normally buy every day here or buy every other day, but they are always buying so they can cook. The people that have fridges usually buy every two or three days, but the thing is to buy you leave the house and go to the corner and there is a store.

Do they garden all year long?

No Answer

Do they just replant stuff when it quits producing?

Here they have planting seasons, too. When it is raining, they can plant different plants than when it is dry, so they plant and then they harvest.

Do any of the plants go through a winter dormant stage?

No, here the trees produce fruit and then they wait about three months and they produce again and they keep doing this all year long, but there are a few trees that are always producing fruit like oranges.

How has the weather been down there?

The weather has been pretty good here. It has been a little cooler and drier, but this is summer in Ecuador in winter it rains and is hotter.

The changes are different. This time they called Saturday and told us that I would be staying in Valencia and that Elder Castaneda would be leaving, but they didn´t tell us where. Sunday, we went to the Zone Leaders house and they called again, but they didn´t tell us the changes. They just said that the people that had changes would go to Guayaquil and when they got to Guayaquil they would give them an envelope and the envelope would tell them where they would be going and who their companion would be. So I still don´t know who my companion is, but I need to go right now and wait in the bus terminal until he gets here. Right now I am with another Elder that is waiting for his companion. His name is Elder Peralta. He started his mission in Valencia and his second sector was Balzar, so we have lots to talk about, but he is from Peru. I seem to get stuck with the Paraguanos. Let’s hope that I get a different country this time, maybe Mexico or Bolivia or Guatamala. Lets hope!!! Well, I gotta go, but when I get to Valencia with my companion we will get back on and let you know what is up with the changes. Well, I gotta go. Bye.

Hi Curtis,
I am glad you are getting to stay one more change in Valencia. I hope you can get those baptisms you are working on to work out in the next six weeks. Please write and tell us about you investigators this week and what is happening with them. Did they go to church? Is anyone ready for baptism this coming week? What great experiences did you have?

Who is your new companion? Give us as many details as you can.

Love you lots,
Mom and Braxton

Hey, I am back here in Valencia. My companion is Elder Hernandez. He is from Guatemala. He is starting his fifth change here in Valencia with me. He was in Babahoyo before in the same house as Elder Frye and Elder Elwood. His trainer is Elder Mitton who is now Zone Leader with Elder Cachari in Quevedo South. Elder Cachari is the trainer of Elder Bartolomei.

Well this week, Dexy came to church on her own. That was really cool. Dexy, I found out is a day older than I am. She turned 20 on the 24th of July, but the really cool thing is that the teens and the young adults invited her to a party that they are having for one of the teens in the ward that just turned 18, so they are going swimming to the swimming pool. I thought that that was really cool, because she has been telling us that she wants to make more friends in the church and now they are getting her involved in their activities. She will be a great convert for us. She has a baptismal date for the 22nd of August. Elder Castaneda helped us out with that before he left. Sunday, when we were in the church, he told Dexy that he was leaving, but that he wanted her to keep listening to the elders and to be baptised and he put the date for the 22nd and she acepted it. That was really cool!

We have been working with a less active family and they gave us a reference and we have been visiting with this family and they came to church Sunday and to the activity that we had last Friday. That was really cool! We have a few more people that are working on progressing, so we are working with them. We have a couple that we are working with to help them get married. We also have Shirley that is still coming to church and my English classes and is progressing good. We just have to keep waiting for her birthday in November, so that she can be baptised. But you know what, she is a really cute girl. I gotta take some pictures to send you, but I am definitely going to have to keep in touch with her. Other than that, we don´t have much else, but we are working good and planning on a big change for baptisms so let’s see what happens.

That is neat. I am glad they are involving Dexy in their activities. It is always easier to come when you have made a few friends. Do you know where Elder Castaneda ended up? Can you tell us more about your new companion? You said he is on his fifth change, so he has been out for 24 weeks or about 6 months. Who are your district leader and zone leader now? What other missionaries are in your district and which ones are in your zone?

Elder Castañeda is in Jipijapa (you say it Hippy Hoppa) in Manta with Elder Ruiz. He is from Costa Rica.

I still don´t know a whole lot yet, give me a week and I will let you know more. I promise! Ya, he has been out four changes and this is the beginning of his fifth so he has six months. His name is Elder Hernandes, but I am pretty sure that it is spelled wrong, but I´ll figure it out this week.

My Zone Leader is the same and I think that my district leader will be, too, but we will see. Maybe they will change us. I don´t know. The zone stayed about the same. I received Elder Hernandes and Elder Peralta received another one and that is the only changes that there were in the zone.

When are you going to send us some pictures? A photo CD? Soon please!

I got the photo that the APs took at Zone Conference, but I don't think you ever told me who everyone is. I think I sent you an email asking, but it was one of the weeks that you didn't send us email. So who are your Zone leader and District leader?

There was a Mauricio R Hernandez who was companions with Dan Mitton in Babahoyo. I wrote down that Dan was his trainer. Is that the one? I am attaching a photo. Is this your new companion? I put down that he is from Guatemala and entered the MTC about 1/21/2009.

Can you correct my bad guesses on this photo from the Zone Conference in July?

Missionaries from Left to Right: (My Best Guesses)
1 Elder E Coj – New Greenie - guess
2 Elder Francisco Castañeda - fact
3 Elder R Peralta - guess (probably wrong)
4 Elder J Esselman - guess
5 Elder A Verastegui - fact
6 Elder Blake Bartolomei - fact
7 Elder Donaldo Batista - guess
8 Elder Curtis Goode - fact
9 Elder Amilcar Vargas - guess
10 Elder Junior Lopez - guess
11 Elder C Garcia – New Greenie - guess
12 Elder Mark Frye - fact

Companionships (My best guesses)
Verastegui and Coj – Zone Leader - guess
Goode and Castañeda - fact
Bartolomei and Esselman -fact
Frye and Lopez - fact
Peralta and Batista - fact
Vargas and Jiminez (You said his new companion was Jiminez, but he’s not in the photo – was there a transfer or is the name wrong? Is his companion Garcia?) – guess
Who are the District Leaders?
Which missionaries are in each district?
Who is your District Leader?

Curtis didn’t respond back. We will have to wait and see if he answers my questions about this photo next week.

Monday, August 3, 2009

2009_08_03 Week 18 Valencia Mom

Hey! How is it going? Things are going good here. We are working hard and doing good. I have been a little bit down lately. I think more than anything else is that Skyler got married and now I am getting that feeling fall is coming. I can feel it and fall brings hunting. I think that is one of the things that I am missing most right now. I am trying to stay focused in the work, but sometimes it gets hard.

We have two people that have baptism dates. We have Isabel Cuello and we have another investigator, Dexy. She is 21. She just turned 21 the day before I did and she wants to be baptized. So we are working with her and she has given us lots of references. In the past two weeks she introduced us to her friend and her family (a family with 12 kids). We are teaching them. There are five or six of the kids that have been listening to us, but they are all older 21, 19, 16, 15, so it is a little bit harder to teach because they all have different schedules and you know how young people are. Sometimes they just don´t want to listen. But it is cool. We had a Family Home Evening in the church Friday and she came and brought one of her friends. He is really cool. He has read all of the Book of Mormon, but from a scholar point of view, not as a religious point of view. So it is cool. We need to go visit him in his house. The thing is our Bishop wants us to work in Valencia, but we are getting a ton of references from Dexy for people that live in The Mana, so we are trying to work with the people that we have while trying to expand our teaching pool to include the people in The Mana.

Yesterday we went and taught Dexy in The Mana. There is a park in the middle of the town. We have been meeting her in the park and teaching her there. We had a really cool experience yesterday. We were teaching her about baptism. She wanted to know what she needed to do to be baptized, so we told her she needed to come to church and that before the baptism she needed to have an interview. And she asked us what they would ask her in the interview, so I pulled out my agenda and turned to the page that has the baptism questions on it and gave it to her to read. And she started reading it question for question and answering as she went. It was cool, but the cool part was when we got to the part about tithing. Elder Castañeda was explaining and I noticed that there was a man listening to what we were teaching. After about a minute of explaining, Elder Castañeda was explaining that we pay ten percent, but Dexy didn´t understand it very well. In this moment, the man that had been listening bursted into the lesson and started to teach about tithing. He taught her what ten percent was so that she could understand. After that he started to "machetear" (This is a word that we use in Spanish. Imagine that he had a machete in his hand and he was using it on her.) He started to say that women that dress inappropriately are sinning and that when men have inappropriate thoughts it is their sin and a bunch of things. So we quickly changed the subject, asked him where he was from, if he knew anyone Mormon and a bunch of other things. And then we gave him a pamphlet and luckily the bus pulled up and he left to take the bus. But the thing is that what he taught, we had been teaching her earlier about modesty. She wasn´t dressed immodestly or anything, but he was pretty harsh. But, we continued with the lesson as if nothing had happened, but the good thing was that Dexy understood what tithing is. But when we got there, Dexy introduced us to another friend, but she had to leave before we could teach. But we did invite her to the actividad that we are going to have this week. They are doing a talent show and each group has to present something. It should be cool.

We are working really hard and we are starting to have success. It seems like we always seem to find people that want to be baptised right before the change. Well, I will let you know next week what is happening with the changes, if I´m going or if I get to stay here to have some baptisms, but we will see.

Hi Curtis,

It is good to hear from you. Dexy sounds like a golden prospect. I hope it works out for you well and that you are able to continue to teach her friends and family. I hope for that reason that you are not transferred, but the Lord will decide. Maybe it will help that we fasted for you. I am glad there is nothing seriously the matter. Tell Satan to get lost and don't worry about Skyler. Things will work out for you when you get home. Right now, you need to be hunting for converts rather than ducks, elk and deer. That will be more important for your salvation in the long run.

I wish Skyler were off in Japan teaching the gospel like you, but we don't know why things happen as they do. I hope someday he is able to serve a mission. It seems strange that his Patriarchal Blessing would talk about a mission, and then he would be unable to go, but maybe that means it will be a blessing for a later time. I am glad he is not sitting home sulking or wasting his time. He is doing great things with this insurance business and if that makes him happy, I guess it is good.

What happened with the Jewish guy you were teaching?

With Moshe, he works a lot. We can’t leave the house until ten in the morning, right? Well he starts working in Quevedo at nine, his first job. Then he goes to his second job after that at three. Then he comes here to Valencia and starts his third job at six thirty and leaves the third job at ten. We have to be in the house at 9 or 9 thirty, the latest, so we can’t teach him during the week.

On the weekend, Saturday, that is his Domingo, so we can visit him Saturdays, but I don´t think he is very faithful to his holy day, because he goes out and about and that is not what he said that he should do. But I give him the benefit of the doubt that maybe he is going for a walk or to visit someone. I don´t know, but Saturday, we were doing service in the church, Elder Castañeda and me. I had my machete and we were trimming the plants in the flowerbeds. It is a ground cover plant and it was sticking out into the side walk and didn´t look very good, so I was going along with my machete cutting the plant so that it was even and Elder Castañeda was behind pulling all of the plant that I had cut out and putting it in a trash bag.

While we were working on this, Moshe passed and the first thing he asked us if we could work. I told him that we could, that it is Saturday, but then I laughingly told him that since our day of rest is Sunday that we could work on Saturday. I kept working, but he stayed there with me and was asking me a bunch of questions. It was really cool. The Lord really does help you when you need it. I haven’t studied the scriptures in English in just about ten months, so I couldn´t remember the scriptures very well, but the thing was, he asked me several questions and I, while working without stopping to think, was able to quote scriptures that I am pretty sure that I have never memorized in English, but I quoted them in English. It was really cool.

He had a few doubts, but I was able to help him understand what we believe and how he can know that the church is the correct church. It really was cool to be able to talk with him like that. I spent about an hour and a half teaching while I was working. It was so cool. The Lord really will give us the words we need in the right moment. I don´t think that Moshe is ready to be baptized, but he wants to keep learning, so I am going to keep teaching until I leave and hopefully what I have taught will one day have effect and he will be baptised.

I got another package last week. that makes three for my birthday and four for my Hump Day. Thankyou so much, but so you know, I now have four bottles of Maple Syrup Extract and I have used about half of a bottle, so I don´t need any more for a while, ok. But thank you for sending me more jerkey. I will tell you that I haven´t been eating much jerkey, because there isn´t much in the house. Because I open the package right and put the jerkey in the fridge and then when I go to get a piece there isn´t any in the fridge and my companion doesn´t know what happened to it or so he says, but that is all right. He really loves jerkey, so he has been eating just about all that I have received.

Could you do me a favor though? Can you send me a few temple recommend holders that have the picture of different temples in the states??? Elder Castañeda wants some, so if you can send them that would be really cool. And if I am not here when I get them I can send them through the pouch so he can have them.

Thank you for everything and thank you for your prayers and your fasting. I have felt the help in the work and in my excitement for the work, but I gotta go. It is late and we have appointments, so I will talk to you next week and let you know what happens with the transfers. And tell the family and the friends hi and sorry that I haven´t written them. Next week, I will, Ok? Bye.

Thanks Curtis. Wonderful letters today and thanks for saying thank you. It means a lot. We will keep praying for you as always. Any specific temples he wants?

Love always,

I just asked him and he said that whatever ones that I think are cool. So see if you can find the Salt Lake Temple, Ogden, and Logan. There is one in Washington that is really cool, one in California, I think the San Diego, but I could be wrong and the Washington DC temple and if there are a few other cool ones that you feel that would be cool. Thank you so much! I love you! Bye.