Can you believe I am in Ecuador!! I sometimes have a hard time believing it myself! I made it here alive and in one piece!
So last time I flew by myself, I missed my flights and had all those airport problems, right? Well this time things went a little bit differently. I made my flight from Boise to Salt Lake by myself. I sat in the airport for my 4 hour layover by myself because I did not want to risk one bit on missing my flights. There were a bunch of missionaries going to Argentina and one to Brazil. I thought I was the only missionary going to Ecuador. We landed in Atlanta and I only had one hour layover. The Atlanta airport is huge and I prayed that my plane would be delayed a little bit so that I did not miss my flight. Well, Heavenly Father answered my prayer but in a different way than I expected... Our flight first was delayed 20 minutes because the flight before got in late and they were still cleaning the plane... Then an hour because of a crazy rain storm... Then another hour and a half because the intercom system broke and they can not fly with out it... But I made it to Quito! With my luggage! At about 1 in the morning! And it turns out that there were two other hermanas that were flying to my mission as well but we did not figure that out until customs. President Richardson and the Assistants picked us up from the airport and took us to the nurse's apartment where we stayed for a couple of days.
President told us that we could sleep in since we got in so late and all the plane issues. Myself and the two other hermanas, Hermana Diaz and Hermana Cardenas, got ready and the nurse hermanas took us to the mission home. It was fun to see all of Quito from a taxi. We got to the mission home and met some of the other missionaries who came from the Colombian CCM, my home! During the day, we had an interview with President Richardson, gave information to another hermana for probably our next visa, and had little health lessons with Hermana Richardson. I also had my first green smoothie today, not too bad. Oh and I finally got my mail and Easter package my mom had sent me... Just a little late, right?
Today was more orientation stuff. I got a water bottle. We are not allowed to drink the water here, so we have a water bottle with a filter and cook with filtered water that we have to buy. We were taken to another customs place so that we could finalize that we were in the country and that we were still ok to be there. We did a lot of practices and went over all the mission rules. After all that craziness, we went back to the mission home and had a really nice dinner and a testimony meeting. It was super cool. Oh, I do not know if this is normal in most missions but we have a mission song and chant. It was kinda funny but cool.
Last day of orientation. We met all of the trainers and went over financial stuff. Then we got our trainer! My trainer is named Hermana Molinar. She is from Colorado and goes to BYUI! Small world! After we got our companions, we went straight to work! We got all my stuff and headed to Yaruquí! We got to our little apartment and started right away with planning. After, we went to visit some of our recent converts and then to Presidente Domingues home, he is the president of our branch. He is super energetic and really nice. He fed us dinner even though they do not normally do that here. We got home and I got to unpack my stuff.
We had to run to the store early in the morning because we did not have any food in the apartment. Hermana Molinar had not been in the apartment all week and I did not get the until Thursday. We went to our district meeting in Quito. Hermana Maynez is in my district!! I thought that was pretty cool. I also learned that your trainer is your mom and your first district leader is your dad, so Hermana Molinar is my mom and Elder James is my dad. We did our little training meeting and met the new zone leaders. My zone is Quito Este and my area is Yaruquí 1. Oh, we take the bus to Quito every week for meetings and almost every day to Pifo, another part of my area. To Quito, it is an hour bus ride and to Pifo, it is a half hour bus ride. I met more of our investigators and inactives.
I am starting to get into the swing of things little by little. So here in Ecuador and in most Latin countries, their big meal of the day is lunch, not dinner. We get fed lunch everyday by someone in the branch and usually do not get dinner unless someone gives us some, like Presidente Domingues. We went to Hermana Delgados for lunch. We get to eat a lot of rice here and soup. They love soup! It was so much fun to meet with the family. She has 3 little boys and they are crazy energetic. After lunch, we went to Pifo to visit one of our investigators, Ana. We challenged her to baptism and she accepted! Now we just have to make sure she is ready to go in a month. When we finished with visiting her, it started raining like crazy and she was so sweet! She let us borrow to ponchos. We went back to Yaruquí and met with Evelyn, a recent convert who is only 13 years old! Late in the evening, we went to visit a lady by the name of Marta, who was baptized last week. We have been teaching her, her daughter, and her niece. Her daughter made us soup since she knew we did not have much food in the apartment.
This was a very exhausting day and I do not know why. Church was awesome. The branch is super friendly and very welcoming. Everyone calls us hermanitas! It is super cute. They had me get up and introduce myself and let me just say that I was terrified but Hermana Molinar said I did great. Our mamita told us that she could not feed us today because she would be out of town and we could not get a hold of our replacement. We ended up going home and making a little mac and cheese. We went back to Pifo to drop off a Book of Mormon and to return the ponchos that Ana let us borrow. Later, we stopped by another family. At this point, I was starving because we did not really have much food all day. I got another answer to my prayers! The mom made us eat before we left! It was so good. Heavenly Father always looks out for His children, even if it is the simplest thing like someone giving us food when we are in need. I have truly been blessed this week.
So today is our Pday and this is the day we have to get all of our personal stuff done. We cleaned the apartment and washed some of our clothes with some water and a scrub brush! Does not sound like fun but it was actually really fun! The rest of our laundry, like shirts, skirts, and socks, we take to another hermana in the branch who kindly washes them for us. We went to Cumbayá for lunch and grocery shopping. And now we have time to write!
As you guys can see, all is well and I am learning lots! I am having a blast but at the end of the day, nothing beats a little popcorn and sleep! I am so tired with all the walking we do. Yaruquí is on a steep hill that we walk up and down probably 15 times a week says Hermana Molinar. I was told that hermanas have problems with getting fat but I do not see how with all the walking that we do... I love you all! And hope you have a fantastic week!
Hey guys, I made it to Ecuador finally! We have orientation for the next few days, and then, I'm heading to the field!! Les quiero muchisimo! I don't know when I'll run into Hermana Hull anytime soon in answering my Mom's question... I got my Easter package! Wait on writing letters until I figure out where I am.
PS I tried my first green smoothie today!
PS You are welcome to use "DearElder.com", and the pouch mail available, from Mom.
"Don't get discouraged. Things will work out." President Gordon B. Hinckley
Family and Friends!
I am horrible at keeping people updated with this whole knee issue... I left off with the mystery of to get surgery or to not get surgery.
I saw my doctor/knee surgeon, Dr. Waters, on Thursday, April 9, a week after I had been home. After an hour of poking, prodding, and x-rays, Dr. Waters determined that I would not need surgery! All my ligaments checked out just fine. Both knees were creaking and cracking the same way. From what he could see on my Colombian MRI, x-rays, and series of tests, he determined that I had caused a huge bone contusion (bone bruise) and tendons were irritated, causing my knee to swell. He also said that all I really need to do was get the swelling out and restrengthen my weakened leg muscles, aka physical therapy. Dr. Waters also said that if I worked hard in physical therapy, my knee could be good to go in 6-8 weeks (the church doctors said 8-12 weeks of rest and even longer if surgery were required)
All that was going through my mind was "I told them so! I told them I didn't need surgery! I so could have stayed out there.". I started physical therapy the next day. I got there and told my physical therapist I had 6-8 weeks to heal but I wanted to push for even less time than that, in hopes of making next transfers. My physical therapist and I already had a close relationship because I had gone to him before. At the beginning of my first appointment, I could not bend my knee past 110 degrees (really bad) and could not straighten it completely. By the end of my appointment, my knee greatly improved. I could bend almost to where my good knee could bend and I could straighten my knee, not perfectly but a lot more than before.
I talked to the church doctors on a weekly basis. They made sure that I was getting checked out and making sure that I still wanted to return to the field and if I wanted to return to my mission or get reassigned.
For the first week, I got rid of the crutches completely and relied heavily on the knee brace. After week two, I stopped using the brace except for when I went for walks. I was walking a quarter of a mile a day. Week three there was great improvement. I could ride a bike and walk longer distances without my knee fatiguing. My physical therapist was pushing me farther and farther. Week four I was cleared from physical therapy by Dr. Waters. Words could not describe my happiness. One step closer to going back. The second I got home from the appointment, I texted the stake secretary to set up an appointment to go back.
I met with my stake president that Sunday, May 3. He was shocked that I had only been home a month and was ready to go back. I had to write a letter describing what had happened and my desire to return to my mission. My stake president sent that with his own recommendation and all the notes from Dr. Waters to the missionary headquarters in Salt Lake. Wednesday, my stake president called my mom to let her know that I was going to be going back to my mission! My mission! My same Ecuador Quito North mission! I was to fly down 18th of May. I get to go back!
I will not say going home was the easiest thing in the world. It was difficult to accept the fact that I was needed to come home. I knew in my heart that there must be a reason why I had to come home for this short amount of time but in my mind, I was ashamed. I felt like maybe I did not have enough faith or maybe I did not try hard enough. Why would I get sent home? Why did this have to happen to my knee? Why did I have so many problems in the CCM? Why the rough start to my mission? Why? I thought I was doing the right thing. I thought it was a righteous desire to serve a mission. I thought a mission was suppose to be hard but not this hard. I thought. I thought. I thought.
"Heavenly Father has a mission and plan for each of us but He also has His own time table." Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson
He has a plan. Heavenly Father has a plan for everyone. Heavenly Father has a plan for me. He knows my struggles and the desires of my heart. He knows what I have done and what I can do. He knows that I am strong and that everything every trial I have received so far, I can handle. He knows how terrified I am. He knows me.
I am so excited to be returning to the mission field and to my mission. Though I may never know why I came home, whether it was my mission area was not quite ready to have me there, to meet my first niece, to spend Mother's Day with my mom, to talk to friends, or to go to the temple with my grandma, I know it was for a reason. I will be getting set apart again on the 17th and fly to Quito on the 18th. I have been truly blessed with a quick recovery.
"Can you see the hand of God in your own life?" Elder Neil L. Andersen