Monday, December 21, 2009

Sweet Visit to the Temple & Forgiveness

What time will you call, our time, which is two hours later than your time?

I can call whenever you want me to, except from eleven to twelve because that is lunch here. What time can Skyler be there? I think it would be better to call in the morning so that everybody is still there in the house before Michelle and Jeff leave to go home, if they come down. Talk to Skyler quickly and tell me what time. I could call at ten. I don´t know if that would be good with you, but ten would work out for me.

Which packages have you received?

I got three packages in our zone conference when we went to the temple. They had the zone stockings and the two big stockings in them. Elder Garcia fixed the name tag so it now says Elder Garcia and the card. He just put his last name after Carlos since that is his first name, so now it says, Dear Elder Carlos Garcia. So that worked out ok.

Have you given the small Christmas stockings to the missionaries in your Zone yet?

No, I will do that Wednesday in the District Meeting.

Have you received any cards or postcards?

I received five post cards now, one from Clain, one from Braxton, one from Dad, one from Shara and one from Grandma Parkinson.

Is Elder Felt still living in the same house as you? That wasn’t clear from your last email.

Yes, he is still here.

Tell us more about your new companion, Elder Carlos Garcia.

He is from Panama. He has one brother and six sisters. His mom is from Colombia and his dad from Spain. He likes to fish. We have been talking a lot about hunting and fishing, so that is kinda cool. We get along good, so things are going great.

What does he like to do?

Fishing. He lives by the ocean, so he goes spear hunting and collects sea food by hand and stuff like that. I thought that it is pretty cool.

Tell us about his family and how long he has been a member.

He was born in the church. His dad served his mission in the Central America Mission, like almost thirty years ago and he baptised his wife on his mission.

Where did Elder Carlos get transferred to?

Elder Carlos is now in Perdro Carbo. It is between here and Guayaquil.

How was your trip to the temple?

It was so good! I have forgotten so much. I can´t believe how much I had forgotten in a year. I can see now why it is so important that you go to the temple regularly, so that you can remember everything and learn more.

Where and what did you eat?

We ate in the temple in the cafeteria. It was rice with shrimp in a corn sauce thing and with a beet salad it wasn´t the best food I have ever eaten, but oh well. That is ok.

What special things happened that day?

We got presents from some of the temple workers. There was a pair of North American temple workers and a few here from Ecuador that went in together and bought all of the missionaries presents. They gave the gringos a pair of socks and a tie and a cool cover for a little hymn book. They gave the latins a shirt and a pair of socks and a tie. I thought that it was really awesome, so this Wednesday I am going to do an activity with the zone. We are all going to write as a zone, thank you notes and we are going to send them to the office to give to the temple workers. I thought that it was the least that we could do for them after the gifts that they gave us.

Did you have any baptisms this week?

No, we didn´t have any baptisms this week, but for next week we have a few planned.

How are your investigators progressing?

They are coming along. I hope we can get the permission of Luis´s parents, so that he can get baptised.

Who came to church?

We only had three investigators in the church. There is a pair of women that come just about every week, but they don´t want to get baptised yet. And we had a husband that came with his wife to church, the first time that they have come to church while I have been here. We are teaching him. She is a member, but they aren´t married and she was married before so we have a sister from Elder Felt’s ward that is a lawyer that is helping us with the divorce, so they can get married and then he can get baptised. So that is pretty cool. He is a police officer so we have a buddy in high places if we ever have problems.

Did you have a special Christmas program in church?

We had our program of carols in the church, last Saturday. That was pretty cool. We came up with a three scene play that we incorporated the carols into. The basic plot was that there was a single father that is a thief that wants to give his three sons a good Christmas, so he robs a pair of North American missionaries to sell their stuff to get money to buy his kids a good Christmas. So that is the first scene, that he robs the missionaries. (I was one of his accomplices that helped him rob the missionaries.) It starts out that a group of missionaries are singing in a park and that they sing a song and then they all start to leave and two missionaries stay to clean up. They had a little display with pamphlets and there is a pause and an old guy starts talking. The people keep moving, but without talking. He says that the guy sitting on the bench over there is him sixty years ago and that he didn´t have anything to give to his kids for Christmas and that he only wanted to give his kids a good Christmas. And that is where the action starts again and he robs the missionaries. He tries, but he was a lot smaller than the two missionaries, so he calls for help and that is where we, (me and another missionary), run out and help him to rob the missionaries. And then we run off stage and the missionaries are all sad and depressed and that ends the first scene.

The second scene is that he goes to a friend to sell the stuff and that is when he finds out that there is just books and pamphlets and nothing of "real value" so he says that he is going to burn the books and that is when the spirit or the audience prompted by script cards says Nooooooo and he pauses and says that he better find out what the book says. And that is when he opens the book and reads that Jesus will be born of Mary in Bethlehem and then all of the missionaries come out on the stage singing “The First Noel.” And then when we finish, he reads that angels speak to men and then we sang “Angels We Have Heard on High.” And then the choir left and he said that he was going to go show his kids the books, that they could change their lives. that is the end of the second act.

The third scene is in the house. The three kids are sitting on a couch in the house and the dad enters and the kids all have a negative attitude, that he just remembers that he has kids, that they don´t want to listen to him. He says that he has something that will change their lives and one says that they are thieves, that there isn´t change and that Christmas is just a material thing. The father then leaves and the kids go back to sitting and playing and then there is a knock on the door and one of the kids goes and answers the door and the missionaries enter without being asked and shake hands with the two other kids and sit down and start to teach the kids. The kids in shocked silence listen and then after about a minute of teaching, the father enters again and sees the missionaries and they all get quiet. And the father says that he wants to buy the book, because it is so good. They tell him that he can keep the book. He says thanks, but then asks them to explain more and he sits down and tells his kids that he told them that it could change their lives. That is where the play ends and the old version of the father stands up and says that that is how it all started, that he changed his life through The Book of Mormon and that everybody there could change their lives, too.

When and where did you sing the song you have been practicing? What song? Who else sang with you?

We practiced in District Meetings before and after, for three weeks and then a little bit before the activity on Saturday.

What plans do you have for Christmas day?

There is an activity in the church on Christmas, so we will go to the activity and hopefully someone will invite us to eat a Christmas dinner. If not, we will keep visiting people on Christmas.

Do you have any District or Zone activities planned this week?

No, we don´t.

Who is your new Zone Leader or Zone Leaders?

Elder Rojas and Elder Fonseca. He is from Bolivia and has a little more time in the mission than I do.

Tell us a spiritual experience you have had recently.

We are teaching a lady that is a widow. Her husband died four or five months ago. She is doing really good right now. She said at first she was depressed, but the missionaries helped her out a lot. Well the other day, one of the neighbors did something that she didn´t like, to her kid. I won´t go into details about what, it isn´t that important, but she was really mad and angry for what had happened and she doesn´t want to forgive her neighbor. Well I told her about what happened between you and (your friend) and that she still doesn´t want to accept all of the apologies and treats and things that you have tried to do to reestablish the friendship that had existed for so long. I started to cry telling her all of this. I told her how you were my hero, that all of the things that you did to repair what had happened and how even though you may have felt like you were right, you put that aside and tried to make things better. I cried. I could feel the spirit really strongly. I challenged her to try to forgive her neighbor for what had happened, that it really didn´t matter. A little incident like that shouldn´t be more important than the friendship that they had had before. She said that she would try, but she seemed to really accept what I had explained to her. I hope you aren´t mad that I used you as an example.

Has the fungus and athlete’s foot cleared up?

Yeah, it is clearing up and I am doing a lot better.

Are you healthy and happy?

Yep, I am doing great.

Do you need anything?

More jerky!

Hey Curtis. Great to hear from you. We are all home now. I will have dad get on and talk to you, too, while I am typing a reply to your email. It was great. Thanks. I am crying right now. It is fine that you used me for an example.

Will ten be ok to call on Friday?

Skyler said he could be here at 10:00, so that will work for us. We will anxiously await your call.

I am glad the name thing worked out with the Christmas stocking. I thought it was neat that your new companion's name was Elder Carlos Garcia. Is your old companion expecting to get the Christmas stocking? Hopefully he will not be too disappointed. He will be getting the set of scriptures when they arrive. You didn't open all the gifts yet, did you?

I think you are going to be short two of the little stockings for the Zone, so you and Elder Garcia will just have to go without. Sorry. It is a pain to keep the packages under four pounds.

If I planned things right, you should get a whole bunch more postcards this week in the pouch. Then a bunch more will probably trickle in over the next few weeks. I hope you enjoy them.

In the photo that Hermana Gamboa sent, where is Elder Felt's companion? Is he right below him or below him to the left?

I am glad you and your companion are getting along great.

It is really cool that your companion likes hunting and fishing like you do. I am sure that makes it more interesting. You have something fun to talk about occasionally. I know Elder Carlos liked Chemistry, like you do, but that is not as exciting of a subject to talk about like hunting and fishing. Spear hunting sounds like something you would absolutely love. Maybe someday you can go visit him and get a chance to try it.

That is neat that Elder Garcia's dad met and baptized his mom while on his mission. It is interesting that he found someone in the Central America area that was from Colombia. How strange is that? It has been almost 30 years since dad was on his mission. Wow!!!

It is really cool that you got to go to the temple on Thursday. I thought about you being there, all day long. It is important to go often. We have got to do better this year. I am setting a goal to go at least once a month. I am finally past the point of remembering what I have to say at the veil, but occasionally I still mess up. I am now learning new things almost every time I go, so it is very important to us. I hope you will always have a desire to go to the temple. I have only eaten in the temple cafeteria a few times. The food has always been great. Yours sounds interesting.

That is really cool that the temple workers did something so very special for the missionaries. What a really neat service. I think it is awesome that you are going to write thank you letters to them. I think you should all write thank you cards to President and Hermana Gamboa also and maybe some to the office elders who do so much for the missionaries. Gratitude is something that everyone can work on more in their lives.

I hope your baptisms work out for this week. It would be really cool to be baptized on December 26th, a really cool Christmas gift. I am glad you are finding some new investigators. I hope you can get the divorce worked out while you are there, but those seem to take months from what I have read in other missionaries’ letters.

Your Christmas program sounds wonderful. I am glad you were able to do that. It is a fun story. I bet you will remember it all of your life. Hopefully it had an effect on someone that was there to see it.

I hope you will get a dinner invitation for Christmas. If not, find some way to serve others that day to make it special.

Thanks for sharing this very special experience with me. That is a wonderful gift to me. I hope it will help this sister to forgive her neighbor.

I am glad you are doing great. There should be a bit of jerky in your Christmas packages. Hopefully that will keep you happy for a little while.

We love you so much! Take care and talk to you soon. I love you.

P.S. When did you mail my photos?

That will work out then. Well, I love you all very much and I hope all is going well. I will talk to you all this Friday. I love you lots bye. Elder Goode

Elder Felt’s companion is the one right below him in the picture that is titled Portoviejo, Rios, Orquidias, Bobahoyo.

The elder that is all the way right and above a sister missionary from the states, is my step- brother in the mission or Elder Alcocers kid, Elder Ruiz from Costa Rica. If you look, Elder Carlos is below me in the picture. Not the one right below me, but the one below him.

Awesome Curtis. Thanks so much. I love you! Have a terrific week. Merry Christmas!

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