Monday, December 7, 2009

Lots of Great Information!

Week 6 Portoviejo with Mom

I got two packages this last week, the two Thanksgiving packages. They arrived all right, but the pie crust didn´t hold up too well. It was falling apart and the package was pretty hammered. I still managed to save enough to make the pie and it turned out all right. I did manage to get your disks in the mail, but like you, I forgot to put in the letter before I sealed it, so I will have to send it separate.

Phone Call
I haven´t thought much about the phone call, but I have been thinking a little bit about it. But this year they are having a special, I guess you could say. It is only going to cost ten cents a minute, so I will be able to call for forty minutes and it will cost me four dollars. That is pretty cheap, right? I thought that that would be the best option, so I think I will just go to a Cabina and call and pay the four dollars and talk to you guys again.

Your Apartment or House
We live in a four story building. We live on the top floor. We have a balcony with a hammock. There is the kitchen and with the kitchen is our desks to study, on the other side of the room. We have three bathrooms between four missionaries, so I have my own shower and Elder Felt uses my toilet, too, but he showers in the other bathroom, so it works out ok. We sleep in two rooms, me and my companion in one room, and Elder Felt and his companion in the other. And Elder Felt and Elder Merchan have their own room for their desks to study and plan.

More about your Companion
He is from Peru. He has been a member for his entire life. He likes to be annoying and a tease. Sometimes I really wonder if he really is 21 years old. This is his fourth change and I am his second companion, so that makes me his step-dad in the mission. So now, my kid, Elder Machuca, has a step-brother. He is really organized and he hates disorder. We are really complete opposites. Most of the elders tell me that I must have a lot of patience. Imagine, I have patience. I am surprised too! Don´t worry!

Your Investigators
We are teaching Juan Pablo. He is going to be baptised this Saturday. We need to set up the interview and then he will be set. We have a few others that are on their way, but we hit a few snags with them. Luis Vivas, he is sixteen, but his parents won´t give him permission to be baptised. We are working really hard with his parents right now, but it is hard, because his dad drinks. So he isn´t home much and when he is, he is drunk and he doesn´t listen too good when he is drunk. We tried to talk to him the other day, but he just kept talking and wouldn´t let us talk, but we are going to get this permission. I won´t give up. Saturday we were supposed to visit with Luis´s dad, but he wasn´t in his house. Luis said that he was at a friend’s house drinking, so we went with a member that was there with us and I tried to get him to leave and come visit with us, but his drunk friends wouldn´t let him and he didn´t want to anyways. So it is hard! I have never had to deal much with drunks, but now I am and it is really hard. I never thought that I would have the courage to go pull a drunk man out of a bar and take him to his house, but I tried. He just didn´t want to come. We are also teaching two of Luis´s friends. The problem with them is they didn´t come to church this Sunday because it was Stake Conference and they didn´t want to go to the Stake Center. So they can´t get baptised for this Saturday because they didn´t come, but they will get baptised next change for sure. We don´t have to worry about the permission of their parents either. I already have the papers signed by their parents. Then there is Ibet. She is the one that Brother Arana took us to. She has a baptism date for the 26th of December, but she hasn´t come to church yet, so I don´t know if she is going to progress. So we will see what happens, because she can´t get baptised if she doesn´t come to church.

Your Teaching Pool
We are meeting a lot of new people because we are knocking a lot of doors so we are seeing a lot of people come and go and come and go but we are meeting and teaching a lot of people and they are exercising their agency, so I am content with my work even though it is hard and there is a lot of rejection. But like you wrote in that book so long ago it is just like my pre-mission dating career, right? I am used to it.

Juan Pablo this Saturday.

Spiritual Experiences
I had a very spiritual experience this week. We were teaching Juan Pablo about tithing and he understood it, but not all of it. He kept asking what if he wanted to give more if he could. We told him that tithing is only ten percent and that he could give more in his fast offering if he wanted to. I kept talking and then I felt a quiet, but strong feeling to stop talking and when I stopped talking, Elder Carlos started talking and he bore a really powerful testimony about the blessing that he has received in his life just completing with this commandment, just paying ten percent and then giving a very generous fast offering and Juan Pablo understood and was very willing to pay his fast offering. The really cool thing is that yesterday in the conference, the sister of Juan Pablo, that is a member, came up to us and thanked us for teaching her brother the gospel. I felt like all of my hard work this change was worth it, just for the thanks that she expressed to us, how grateful she was that her brother was receiving the gospel. It was really, really cool!

Your Thanksgiving Day – What did you do and eat?
We worked hard and I didn´t even remember that it was Thanksgiving until a few days later, so it wasn´t anything special for me this year, but I can assure you that next year it will be really great! I am sure I will go huntin in the mornin and eat lots of turkey with the family and we will be missin the next missionary in line.

Your Health
I am doing good. I haven´t been having the headaches, because I have been drinking a ton of water. I found a new drink that I like a lot. I take three limes, the limes here are little about the size of a golf ball and I squeeze them into a liter sized cup and I put in about a quarter cup of sugar and then fill the cup with water and stir it up and drink it. I love this! Last week, I bought forty limes and they didn´t last the week. This time, I bought sixty limes and I hope that they last the week. I was thinking about your experience with cerviche and I was wondering what size of limes you used, because the limes in the states are a lot bigger than the ones here, so this could have been your problem in the cerviche is that one lime here is like two tablespoons of juice where there a lime could give you a quarter of a cup. I don´t know if that was the problem, but it could be some of it.

Your Branch
The branch is going good. It should soon be a ward. They said that they have to wait until the middle of January and then they can propose it as a ward and it should be accepted, so I could be the first missionary in the 12th of March, as a ward instead of a branch. I was the third missionary in Valencia as a ward and I was with the second, fourth, fifth and sixth missionaries of the ward. Just so you know.

More about your Sector
My sector is actually quite big and to answer your question about where my money has been going it has been going into a lot of taxis and buses. We are always taking taxis on almost a daily basis, like yesterday, we had the Stake Conference, so I had to take a taxi to get one of our invesitgators and then to the stake center ($2.50). Then we took one after the Stake Conference to our house ($1.00). Then we took another taxi to our lunch, which just happened to be by the Stake Center. A family invited us ($1.00). A taxi back to our house ($1.00). Then we took a taxi back to the Stake Center to practice the choir that we are going to be performing later in the month ($1.00). Then we took another taxi to go pick up investigators for the Christmas Devotional ($1.00) and back to the stake center ($1.00) and then a taxi to go home after the devotional ($1.00). So we are using a lot public transport so it is kinda hard with the money that they give us and they are telling us that we need to buy better food, so we are buying more and better products to eat. I now spend thirty to forty a week on food and when they only give us eighty every two weeks, it just isn´t enough with the food and the taxis and with the interchanges that is another story in itself.

How long did it take you to go to Chone?
It was two hours to go to Chone. It really kind of sucked. It reminded me a lot of my trips to Balzar after District Meetings. Chone is cool, but the house is horrendous. They are looking for a new one, because it is so bad.

Why is Elder Arana in your area teaching? Where is he from? Why is he back in the mission?
Brother Arana is from Guayaquil. He was here in my sector when he was here in the mission and he came back to visit his converts for a few days. He trained Elder Verastagui here in this sector, like two years ago.

I am thinking that I am going to do an interchange this week with Elder Baez from Argentina and with Elder Merrill. So I will go with Elder Merrill and Elder Baez will come here to my sector and I want to see how the things are going out there in their sector and how the missionaries in their house are getting along. From what we understand, they aren´t getting along very well, so I am going to see if I can figure out the problem and try to help them fix it.

Are you going to the temple for Christmas this year?
Yes, the letter from President said that we are going to go and that he wants us to pay our own passage and buy our own food so I am going to have to start setting aside money now so that I have if for later.

Hey Curtis. Thanks for the great letter and all the good information. I am glad all is well. I will put a bit more money in your account just in case you need it this month with the temple visit. Probably only $50 more. What do the elders who don't have any extra money do when they have to travel so much?

You are probably right about the Cerviche and the lime juice. I might try it again with just a little bit of juice.

That sounds okay on the phone call. What day will work for you? Think about it and let us know. We are having our party with Shara and Michelle on the 18th. Michelle and Jeff will be there on the 24th in the evening and on the 25th, hopefully all day, but at least in the morning. Are the Cabinas open on Christmas day?

Sorry about the pie crust. I squished it a bit to get it in the package. I need to find a square one that would fit easier. I hope you
liked it anyways.

Thanks for sending the photos. I will anxiously await their arrival.

Congratulations on the baptism coming up. I hope it all works out for you this time. Keep working on the rest of them. I knew the mission would change you in many ways. I hoped patience would be one blessing for you. I am glad to see you are developing some.

I love you lots,

The Cabinas are open on Christmas and just about any other day except New Year’s Day, so I will be able to call on the 25th or 24th, but I will see what day will be best. But it will also depend what President says. Last year, he said that we could call whatever day in December that would work best, but I don´t know for sure yet. I could ask about the 18th, but would everybody be there? I want to call when everybody is there if I can. Can Skyler be there? Can you see what day he could be there too? If he could be there the 24th or 25th? See what you can do I don´t think there will be many changes from what president said in his letter this week. Just the Zone Leader changes and those that will be training, so I don´t know. Let’s see what happens. I love you lots! Bye!

Elder Goode

I am glad you are able to love your companion. It is great preparation for marriage. There are times when you won't really like something your wife will do, but you will still love her and because you do, you will ignore the things that bug you and cherish the things you do love about her.

Thanks for sharing the spiritual experience. I am sure that was very special. I am happy to know you are listening to the spirit's promptings and allowing him to work through you. There is nothing that makes you feel better than true gratitude when you have helped someone. I know in my job there are many days that the thanks I get from others makes it worth continuing. Otherwise, I don't think I would still be doing this job. The gratitude makes all the pain and struggle worth going through.

That is cool that Elder Arana lives so close and is able to come and visit those he taught. It seems strange that they would send him to the same mission where he lives, but maybe he lives in the Guayaquil South boundaries. Was he disappointed to serve so close to home?

I am glad to hear your health is good. Has the fungus on your hand gotten any better? What about the Athlete's foot. I think those packages had the medicine in, didn't they?

Pray for help before you go on your exchange and I am sure the spirit will help you discern what the problems are and help you suggest ways to fix them.

Love you so much,

Okay. I will try to find out about Skyler this week so I can tell you next Monday. On the 18th everyone should be there after 6:00, but Skyler probably won't be. Shara won't be there on the 24th and 25th, but Skyler might be. Hard choice, I know!

Have a really great week son! Know that we love you very much and we are so very proud of you.
Love always and forever,

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