Monday, August 3, 2015

Week 16 How many times can I get sent home before they won't let me go out anymore? That is the question!

Hey there my family and friends!

Yep. The title says it all. I got sent home... again... But have no fear, I'm not done yet with the mission! 

We had a little district activity. It started out with plans to go bowling then when we got there, we found out that the bowling place did not open until later, so we bought pizza instead! For not being in North America, it was actually pretty good. Later, after writing the families, we taught our recent convert how to make banana bread (actually I taught, Hrma. Molinar watched along with everyone else).

Pizza from Dominoes! It was fun to hang out as a district!
We had an appointment for Hrma. Molinar in Quito today. Her ankle has not be getting better, actually, it is the exact opposite. We totally packed a lunch since Hrma. Cheves, our mamita for Tuesdays, is still in La Costa. We kicked it back to elementary days of PBJ sandwiches, animal crackers, apples, and chocolate milk. Best. Lunch. Ever. We got to the appointment early, so he saw us early. He said that the only thing she could do was take medicine, do exercises, ice, and wear braces (all of which she has been doing). The doctor was not going to have her do anything else for her ankle but Hrma. Pemberton, the mission nurse, talked him into doing an MRI on her ankle to see if there is something else wrong. Unfortunately we could not get the appointment until next week.
Sack lunching it! PBJs and chocolate milk is the way to go when you don't have a mamita!
So, two weeks ago, I received a phone call from President Richardson. He talked to Hrma. Molinar about her ankles and then he wanted to talk to me about my knee. The doctor had apparently been hounding Presidente about my knee and saying that I really shouldn't put off surgery. I prayed, meditated, and lost quite a bit of sleep over it because I had fought so hard to come back out on the mission and I did not want to give it up for anything. The more I thought about it, the more I thought back to how I felt the first time I was sent home and how much it hurt. I was scared (and am still a little scared). Finally, last Friday when we had our specialized training in Quito, I decided to tell Pres. Richardson that I would willingly go home. He said he was glad to hear that I had finally made the decision because he knew I would be really upset if he had to make it for me. He said he would start the paperwork but that it would take some time (Yeah did not take that long and I knew it would not). I won't lie, I cried on the way home from Quito that night. Throughout the weekend and into the week, I lost even more sleep and my knee was constantly on my mind. When would I go home? Wednesday morning while in personal study, I broke down. I had been lying to the members the whole time about my knee, telling them not to worry, that I would be fine. But the stress of all this and worrying about being sent home overtook me. 
Out in El Vergel visiting Jenifer! Right afterwards, I was bit by her German Shepherd!
I had a meltdown and Hrma. Molinar did not know what to do, so she called Presidente. He said that he was planning on calling us later that night but that I would be going home tomorrow night. It was a rush of relief and a burst of sadness all at once. I would be going home tomorrow night. With this new information, Hrma. Molinar decided to rearrange our schedule so that I could say goodbye to as many people as I could without disturbing our appointments with investigators. As we went through the day, appointments were falling and we just happened to run into a bunch of the members that I really wanted to say goodbye to. Everytime I told them I was going home, they would laugh and say it was a lie. Then they would get upset because I handed them a picture with a little note on the back (all the members know this means that a missionary is leaving). 
It was a sad evening. We went to go visit our less active, Jenifer, and I got bit... Yep, I got bit by her dog. It was a pretty bad bite and I would take a picture but it is a little high up on the thigh. BUT just so you know, it was a pretty gnarly bite! Have no fear, I survived!
Isabel made us breakfast! Hot chocolate and bolos verdes! Best. Breakfast. Ever.
I had basically packed everything up the day before, so it was just last minute things that had to be taken care of. I made some banana bread for my district and some caramel popcorn for Hrma. Molinar. Marta, our recent convert, asked if she could make us breakfast before we left for Quito. It was so good! It was sad to say goodbye because she and Isabel cried. Marta walked us to the bus and sat and waited for us to get on the bus. Two buses passed before finally someone helped with my suitcases.Thankfully we waited because the elders were able to help take my suitcases to the chapel. After our meeting, the zone leaders made me bear my testimony and I had to laugh because I almost made it through the whole thing without crying but broke down at the end. One sister told me that no one expected me to make it through the whole thing without crying but was proud of me of how far I got without crying (haha). 
Marta, Abuelita, and Isabel, goodbyes are always the hardest!
I love this crazy goober! I always called her Abuelita and she would always get the biggest smile! She's 92 years old and still going strong (and she still walks really fast)!
Note: Every night that I had to call the district leader and he asked if there was anything that he could do for us, I always would tell him that we needed chocolate and he said one day he would bring it to us. I told him the night before it was his last chance but he said he couldn't. After we had closed our meeting, the district and zone leaders came in with a cake and a huge card with a bar of chocolate in it and little notes from everyone in the zone! They are seriously the best zone ever! 
Hrma. Maynez and I have to keep saying goodbye in the worse way possible: me going home!
After all the goodbyes and hugs, Hrma. Molinar and I headed to the mission offices. We grabbed lunch, she met with Presidente, and then she left with her new companion. I was to fly home with Hrma. Doxey. As I said goodbye to Presidente, I told him that I would see him in a few weeks and he chuckled. I meant it. Getting to the airport was quite the adventure because we were given a ride from a member in the ward where the secretaries of the mission are serving. Yeah... My suitcases were tied to the roof of this little car with a really small string. By some miracle, my suitcases did not fall off. We made our flights and soon found ourselves in the states again after having our suitcases search in front of us.
My suitcases were half hanging on the car. It is a miracle that they did not fall off on our way to the airport.
While waiting for our flight to Salt Lake City from Atlanta, a woman offered to buy us Jamba Juice and talked about how her daughter had been sent home after only being able to serve a couple months and severely rolling her ankle. I made it back to Meridian around 3 in the afternoon. I was released as a missionary the following afternoon because my stake president was out of town and the counselor was with the youth of the stake for an activity. 
Best. Chocolate. Milk. Ever.
I have learned quite a lot from this experience: things do not always go according to our plans. They go according to the plans of Heavenly Father. He wants us to be the best people we can be and to do so, he has a plan to make us into the Gods and Goddesses that we can become. Unfortunately, we cannot see the end of this plan. If we could see the end, then we would not be able to act in faith and thus we would not profit from this life. An hermana that I served with sent me this quote and I think this describes this situation perfectly. 

"Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself." -CS Lewis

Plans: I have a doctor's appointment with my knee surgeon this Wednesday. From what I have been told, I have slightly torn my meniscus and that I could possibly go back out to the field in as little as the next transfer! And of course, this is my goal! They can't get rid of me that easily, come dog bites or high water! I promise that I will keep you guys updated better about my knee this time.

Until next time,
The Strawberry Blonde Hermana

PS More pictures are up on the blog from all my adventures in Ecuador!
The Yaruqui Clan! I loved working in this branch with these amazing missionaries!
I only knew Hrma. Contreras this transfer but I feel like we have been best friends for forever!
Mi mejor amiga de Mexico! Hrma. Mortera is a total sweetheart!
These were the missionaries (Hrma. Diaz, Hrma. Mortera, and El. Rojo) I had the privilege of crashing their CCM group when we all got to the mission to have orientation and I have loved the privilege I have had to serve with them.

Week 15 I have spent over 12 hours in buses this week...

Hola mis queridos familia y amigos! 

Comó le va?This week was spent quite a bit in the bus... I honestly do not know why this week had to be in the buses...
Goofing off out in Pifo
We received a phone call the night before telling us that we would be having divisions again. I was not too excited. We hopped on the bus and made the switch. Hrma. Ccoycca was my companion for the day and of course, we did not have a mamita. Our mamita for Tuesdays for the past month has been in the Coast, so we have either had to eat out, have someone offer us lunch, or make due with what we had in the house. Today, I was the mamita. Hrma Ccoycca and I got quite a bit done and were still able to have fun. She is from Peru and speaks pretty good English. She had me teach her random phrases in English. The mission secretaries were trying to do the random apartment checks to see if our apartment was clean but could not get in because the owner of the home changed the gate lock! HA! It was pretty funny... But we had to make a copy of the key for them...
Hrma. Ccoycca and flowers!
I switched back to Hrma Molinar and bought some flowers for our mamita. She was so excited to get the flowers because the week before, she and I were talking about blue flowers and I saw some blue ones that I thought she would like. Her daughter was probably more excited than she was to get the flowers. We were suppose to switch investigators with the Elders that work in the branch with us. Our investigator moved to their sector and we found out that their recent convert and investigator live in our sector. They told their recent convert that they could not visit her anymore and she started crying. She told them that she did not want anyone else visiting her because she had grown accustomed to elders visiting her. It kind of hurt to know that she did not want us to visit her but it is understandable. We helped Yadira was her laundry instead.
The flowers I bought for our mamita! She loved them!
Quito... again... We had our usual meeting in Quito and Elder James talked about how to contact people more effectively (we have been doing everything he said...). We also talked about the importance of families with the zone leaders. We left Quito and had lunch. After lunch, we went contacting in the park and found 4 families that said we could visit them this week! I am pretty excited to go teach them. 
Stefy and Cesa
Quito... again... again... We had special training for the month today, which meant yet another trip to Quito. We talked about the importance of family history, using pamphlets, and having the Spirit in our lessons. It was quite the day of sitting and listening. The training ended late so we did not get home until 9pm! We did absolutely no missionary work today! I felt so lazy, even though we had the training...
Simon Says!
Our mamita for today was in Santa Domingo, so we called one of our other mamitas that said we can call whenever we lack in mamitas. She happily fed us and we had an awesome time joking with her and her husband. They are seriously the best. When we got back to Yaruquí, we ended up talking to a lady in the park who was crying about not having anyone here in Yaruquí (she was from the Oriente I think). We talked to her for a while and I think we helped, at least I hope we helped. There was a baptism for the elders of a less active family that they recently reactivated. Their son never got baptized. It was great because the dad was able to baptize him. Afterwards, we had a branch noche de hogar (family home evening night). We played "Simón Dice" (Simon Says). It was so much fun to watch everyone participate!
Teaching Lara and Evelyn how to make spaghetti
Church was really good and we had the stake president there. He came to our branch counsel that we have every Sunday. Our branch mission leader is considered a less active, so he said that we needed a new one and this is how he put it, "If you do not have a Young men´s president, that is fine as long as you have a ward mission leader. If you do not have a Elder´s Quorum president, that is fine as long as you have a ward mission leader. If you do not have a branch president, that is fine as long as you have a ward mission leader!" It was pretty funny because our Young Men and Elders Quorum presidents got up and said "Great! We do not need to be here! Let´s go!" After branch counsel, we went over to our mamita´s home to make lunch with some of the young women for their Personal Progress. I taught them how to make spaghetti. It turned out pretty good (I did not think it would turn out good...). Later in the evening, we had another noche de hogar with Mariella and her son. Her son does not like to come to church but slowly, we are getting him to sit in on the lessons. I have high hopes for him. After our lesson, I taught her and her visiting teachers how to make caramel popcorn. They have all promised me recipes if I keep teaching them treats.

Teaching how to make caramel popcorn = huge success! 
Today we had a district activity. We were suppose to go bowling but that did not work out. We got pizza instead! Even though it was not American, it was still pretty good. When we got back to Yaruquí, Hrma Molinar and I spent 45 minutes walking to find a cabina to write because the two places we go to usually, did not have any power but we finally prevailed!
Hrma Dominguez, Hrma Quilumba, Yadira, and Mariella
That is my week! And I get to go to Quito again tomorrow morning for Hrma Molinar´s ankles. Wish me luck!

Until next time, 
The Strawberry Blonde Hermana

Week 14 With diligence

Hola mis queridas familia y amigos!

This week was quite the eventful week! I had my first baptism! Maria Teresa, a woman that Hrma Narvaez and I had found as we were trying to find an inactive, was baptized this past Saturday and it was truly an amazing experience! I will talk more about her later.
Open Flower Shops in Quito
We had a girl named Abish come with us for the day to see what it will be like in the mission field for her for when she turns her papers in. Of course, all of our appointments fell. It was pretty funny because we were apologizing to her all day about our lack of appointments. Maria had her baptismal interview and passed with flying colors but we were told that she could not get baptized because her husband did not know at all that she had been taking the missionary lessons and the church does not like letting people get baptized if the could possibly be contention with the spouse. We asked our zone leaders what to do but they never got back to us. 
We work hard! Most of the time...
We had our weekly planning and then went to drop a little treat and a note off at a girl´s home that we started teaching this week. She was going through a tough breakup, so we taught her about prayer Sunday night. When we got to her house, she was looking a lot happier and told us that she felt better after praying, even though it was a little weird at first. Prayer really does help! During lunch, I spent the whole time talking about flowers and growing them with our mamita, Hrma. Quilumba (you know you are a horticulture major when...). We had a lesson with a recent convert who had not come to church since she got baptized back in January. All the other times that we had tried to visit her, she did not want to talk to us but tonight, she talked about how she felt like she really needed to come back to church, not only for her but for her daughter as well. We ended up getting a call from President Richardson to see how Hrma Molinar was doing. I decided to ask him what to do about Maria and he said that she could get baptized!
My desk!
Normally on Thursdays, we got to Quito for meetings but it was cancelled because an elder in our district needed to renew his visa. Our zone leaders called us the night before and asked if we could tell the other pair of elders in our district because they do not have a phone. We did not know where they lived but after 45 minutes of asking random people if they had seen two guys, a gringo and a Chilean with white shirts and nametags, we finally found their apartment. What a great way to spend the morning, right (hahaha)? Our mamita made me teach her how to make caramel popcorn and then told me next week, I would be teaching her how to make oreo truffles. Also, she wants to learn how to make brownies. Everyone here wants to learn and is willing to buy the stuff so that I can teach them. It is a pretty funny sight. 

We had our zone conference today and talked about the Atonement. I love when we have these types of meetings from the zone leaders because I always learn so much. For lunch, we could not go to our mamita because we would have gotten there by 4 and she cannot feed us then because she owns a shop, so we got burgers at this really good place just down the street from the chapel. We got back to Yaruquí and tried visiting all of our recent converts but none were home! We ended up teaching a member about missionary work.
Sometimes we get a little hungry during our trainings 
We had a baptism! Well, first there was a huge, crazy parade for San Pedro. These people love doing super cultural things for their holidays. There were hundreds of people dressed up in Otavalian clothing. While setting up everything for the baptism and waiting for people to show up, we talked with Maria. She said she was super excited. After she was baptized, she was invited to bear her testimony. She said that she had attended a lot of churches but this one felt different. She knew, because she felt it, that this church is the true church! It was such a beautiful day! Maria was glowing after it was all over.

Maria was confirmed a member of the church this morning. She is a completely different person now. She is so happy and there are members reaching out to her to help her find a job. During correlation with the branch, we were told the one of our recent converts, Evelyn, a super shy girl who did not really come to church all that much, was participating in class! My heart leapt with joy knowing that slowly she was becoming more comfortable in the church and that she was finding friends! 

My week was a really good week and we saw a lot of miracles! Have an amazing week and I hope to hear for y´all soon!

Until next time
The Strawberry Blonde Hermana

Week 13 Put on that armor of God!

Buenas tardes mi familia y amigos!

Another busy week down in the books! I am so exhuasted from this past week but it was a really good week, so there really is no room to complain. We were super busy because we have been preparing two people for baptism and have to visit them everyday to make sure that we answer all of their questions. 
Our little drawing from Family Home Evening
Last Monday was super fun because we had a Noche de Hogar (Family Home Evening) with a recent convert named Yadira and her family. We talked about over coming temptations, so we talked about how putting on the armor of God will help us with all of life`s challenges. It was super funny. We drew a picture and had everyone add the different parts of the armor. Everyone had a blast participating!
Yadira LOVES to feed us! Sometimes we get fed way too much!
Our mamita for the day told us that she was in the Coast, so we could not come to lunch. Thankfully, members the night before had given us so much food that we did not have to go buy food. Also, one of our other mamitas said that if she did that again, that we should just come eat lunch with her. Hrma Torres is the best! In the afternoon, we had an appointment with one of our investigators, Maria, for an hour and a half. She was venting because she was really struggling this week. Thankfully we were able to comfort her but we were super late to an appointment with a new investigator that we found on Sunday named Nancy. We were suppose to meet at the chapel and we were super worried that she had left. I said I quiet prayer to myself that she would still be there. When we got there, she was not there. Just as we were about to leave, she pulled up and said she was so grateful we had not left because she was running late too! Also, we have been out of Book of Mormons to give people and the Elders who are also serving in our sector randomly showed up at the chapel and we were able to get a Book of Mormon for Nancy! They said they had a feeling that they needed to go to the chapel and thank goodness they did! 

The Pope was in Ecuador! Cool right? NOT! It was awful, we were stuck in Yaruquí for 3 days and could not visit our investigators and less actives in Pifo and El Vergel. Also, when we were studying and preparing for the day, he was passing by on the main road to Quinche (we live very close to the main road) and they had a huge party all morning long. It was super distracting! Throughout the entire night, all of our members were giving us food, we were almost sick! One family gave us quimbolitos. Yadira gave us rice with plantain and fried eggs. Isabel gave us some lemon grass tea and French toast. It was super good but kind of ridiculous. 

We had our usual trip to Quito today. Our zone leaders decided to try a different way of practicing that I actually really liked. It scared me though after Hrma Molinar and I had done our part and a new elder in our zone asked me how many changes I had been in the mission and that I explained my part very well for having only been here a couple of months. It felt good to know that I was improving. Later, we had an appointment with a guy who lived way out in the boonies of San Carlos. During our appointment, he basically told us that he had no interest in progressing in the church. It was a little sad to hear that but good to know so that we did not keep trying to visit.
Beautiful Yaruqui!
We taught a man who has no religious background. It was very interesting having to change how we normally teach to explain everything clearly for him. Also, he did not like reading out loud. He preferred reading in his head, so everytime that we gave him a scripture to read, we would sit in silence waiting for him to finish. It was definitely a different experience with teaching.

We tried finding a family`s home out in San Vicente and it took us for forever but we finally found it! Sometimes it gets really hard to find these people`s homes. In the evening, we had an activity with the young women and talked about why we need to have a strong testimony during these times. It was super good and they really enjoyed it. They were also celebrating birthdays of the girls and we were invited to stay for cake but had to run because we were packed with appointments. It was a sad day ;) On our way home from our last appointment, a taxi driver offered us a free ride and thank goodness he did. There were A LOT of men out drinking so the taxi driver helped us out a ton!

Church was super good today. The tiny little chapel was packed and there were a bunch sitting in one of the classrooms and we had a bunch of people standing around the door too! It was awesome! Also, we had two less actives come who we did not think were going to come. After church, branch counsel, and lunch, we headed out to La Isla. Basically we climbed the side of a mountain to visit the less active man who came to church. We had a good chat with his family and him. Their family is awesome! Later in the evening, we were walking to an appointment when we were approached by a drunk man. Thankfully, one of our investigators happened to be nearby and came over to make sure we were ok. When he still would not leave, a random couple walking past calmed the drunk man down enough to get him to leave us alone. After the appointment, they walked us past him again to make sure that we were ok. The Lord truly does look out for His servants. 
The view from on top of Mount. La Isla (it felt like we climb a mountain to get there)
Whoop! Mexican tacos with the zone! (Hrma. Maynez y Hrma. Mortera)
We had a zone activity today and it was a lot of fun. Well, sort of... We made tacos, Mexican style, with Hrma Mortera. I helped make the guacamole. All the elders played volleyball while the sisters cooked. I will not lie, I really wanted to play but I did not! Progress, right?? 
The hermanas bought, prepared, and served the tacos! #hermanapower
This week is already packed with appointments, meetings, trainings, and everything else inbetween! It feels like we are always running and never have any time to breath! But hey, it is the life of a missionary and I would not have it any other way!

Until next time,
The Strawberry Blonde Hermana