This week was quite the week for us! We did quite a bit of service and had a baptism! Stephany was able to be baptized! Well, we had to scramble around to make sure that everything came to pass but she did it! Annnnnnnnnnd I am exhausted!
We had the hermana leaders show up at our house to do an amonita (house check). It went really well. We passed! So that´s always good... We visited with Family Santa Cruz and they are doing good. It is like a roller coaster with them, sometimes they are up and sometimes they are down but that is life with everyone. Cristina is doing a lot better. We are doing little bits of service everytime we go to visit her and it is functioning. She is more and more comfortable with us everytime. We also prepped Stephany for her baptism this Friday.
Honestly, we focused in a lot on our less actives. We visited with the Family Santa Cruz, Cristina, and Hilda. They are all taking babysteps to coming back to church!
Today we had our monthly council of our zone. It was super fun and we are seeing a lot of miracles in the zone! After our meeting, we went to go take Hna. Rojas´s English exam (Englis has gotten very hard...). We got there early only to find out there was problems with the computers. We waited an hour then took a very interesting test. I am glad as gringos that we do not have to take tests to see how our Spanish is. Well, I guess everyday is a test to see how we are doing. Anyways, we ate lunch with Hermana Richardson then went to do visits with her. It was awesome! Afterwards, she dropped us off at the church for our weekly noche de hogar. Tonight, we reenacted the story of Nephi going to get the brass plates. It was super funny. We brought props and "Laban", Hno Samuel, had to wear a pink nightgown as his armor. It was hilarious! We got home and had to make a bunch of calls to figure out all of the clothing situation for the baptism and how they were going to get to the chapel. It was quite the night.
We got a call from Hna. Richardson about the results from Hna. Rojas´s English exam and she got Intermediate Low! That means that she can enter into BYUI Pathways program! She was super excited to find that one out! I tried calling our district leader to see if he could bring the baptismal clothing but he did not answer so we had to go all the way to San Carlos to get it. We then went and visited again Family Santa Cruz and Cristina. We helped Hno. Santa Cruz move cinder blocks for about a half hour and he was shocked when we asked what else we could do for him. Stephany´s baptism went awesome! After all the running around and organizing, she was able to enjoy her baptism and that is the most important part of all.
Saturday We helped our neighbors below move to the apartment next to us for a good hour and a half. It was quite the task and as we were getting ready to leave, their family showed up to help move the rest of it. We found out some sad news from Hna. Cecilia that she is planning on switching to live in Tumbaco because of the problems she has been having but we are hoping the scriptures we have shared have helped. When we got home, our neighbors gave us an apple crisp/pie thingy to show their gratitude for our help.
Today was a day of miracles! I wanted to cry! Hno. Santa Cruz came to church for the first time in 17 years! Stephany was confirmed a member of the church. Hna. Santa Cruz was completely reactivate and now we have hope for her husband to come back! We had several other people come to church who had not come in quite a while. After church, we went to visit Victor and had a serious talk about the word of wisdom. He said that he now understands that he has to keep the word of wisdom because it is a commandment. We had an hermana from Venezuela accompany us to make visits and she was super awesome. She told Victor straight up that what he was doing was destroying his health and that he needed to stop. He agreed to live the word of wisdom and is one step closer to baptism!
That´s pretty much it for this week! We celebrated our last Pday together by buying Colombian soda and eating soggy rice! Transfers are next week!!! Ahhh! Where has the time gone?! Tomorrow I complete 8 months!
This week was quite the week! We listened to El. Holland again (I got to shake his hand!!!). Joselyn was confirmed a member of the church. I got to dress up like a native from Otavalo. It was a good but exhausting week!
We have been working with the family Santa Cruz lately and we ended up teaching every single one of them separately because they were all coming and going at different times. We then took Hna. Cecilia and Ñusta to the church for the Relief Society activity. I am so sad that I did not take my camera because it was hilarious! We played a bunch of minute to win it games and then ate lots of food afterwards (because it is not a Relief Society activity without food).
BOOM! Jeffrey R. Holland! Poderoso! We got to listen to Jeffrey R. Holland today and it was awesome. Before that, I got to see everyone from before I went home to my family of hermanas from the Coast (I kinda miss the coast...). It was like one big happy reunion (for the first time since Misión Quito Norte was all together). El. Holland told us that when he shook our hands and had us say our names and where we were from, he was interviewing us by looking into our eyes. I can now say that I have been interviewed by an apostle. I love listening to El. Holland testify. He just has a lot of power behind him. Something interesting that he said was that we are all investigators (no matter when we were or are going to be baptized). We are permanent investigators always looking to strengthen our testimony. It is so true. The gospel is something that we have to constantly work at to keep our testimonies strong. He also said that the most important thing that we can get out of our mission is our personal conversion. Does not matter if we have 10 converts, 3 converts, or no converts. What does matter is that we have our own personal testimony of the Savior and of this gospel.
We had our weekly meeting! Just kidding! Nope, it got moved to Friday because of people renewing their visas (ya mismo I get to!). We had the interview for Stephany to be baptized and she passed!! She is going to be baptized this coming Friday!!! Woooo! She is such a cute little girl and is super excited for her baptism. We gave Hna. Cecilia a tour of the church (yeah she´s a less active but it always helps to remind them of the importance of the church) and she loved it. We had our weekly family home evening as a ward in the church and one of the guys that Hna. Rojas and I had contacted came! He lives in the other hermana´s sector but hey, it was still pretty cool!
We had our weekly meetings and talked about how we have to set goals if we are going to accomplish anything but to reach those goals, we have to exercise our faith a ton! I then went and did divisions with Hna. Pingree. She is the new hermana leader for our zone and I was the first hermana to do divisions with her (the poor thing ;) ). We had tons of fun and she got to meet Joselyn and Stephany. We taught one guy on his front porch and ended up having a few of our less actives and other investigators come join us on the porch. It was like we had a mini congregation going on the porch.
We switched back and went to the church for our weekly meeting with the ward mission leader. When we got there, the ward was having an activity of clothes swap. The Relief Society president takes very good care of us and let us pick out a few things so I got a "new" skirt, dress, and a shirt. We then went to each lunch and the hermana gave us a bunch of sweaters and somethings for our less actives. Later we went to visit the family Santa Cruz to give them the clothes and Ñusta, the daughter, was super excited to come to church that she was going to dress up in her Otavalian clothes. Hna. Rojas decided that she would to and they were all talking excitedly about getting dressed up. They asked me if I would but when I told them that I did not have any of the clothing, Hna. Cecilia started pulling out blouses, anakos, belts, and bracelets. I got to pick one and she gave it to me! She said that she is going to make me an anako that is long enough for me (sometimes being tall...). She is seriously the sweetest lady ever!
Otavalian clothes hurt... Maybe it´s just because I have been sick but ooof! My side muscles hurt so bad because you have to put it on really tightly so that the anako (the skirt part) does not fall down. I almost died it hurt so bad. Church went awesome! Joselyn was confirmed, a lady that I had contacted in the bus came to church, Ñusta really enjoyed church, and it just is always a good day when I get to go sit in the church. We ran around make quick little visits here and there all day. We were dead tired by the end of the night and super pumped to take off the skirts (you have no idea... maybe I am not from Otavalo...).
We were invited to go eat in lunch with family Egas. Hna. Rojas made some food from Colombia and I taught Kevin, the youngest son, how to make brownies. We went to the clinic for Hna. Rojas and will find out tonight from the nurse what we are going to do with her. So keep praying for her please!
As y´all can see, it was quite the week and this week is looking like it´ll be a good one too! Keep on smiling and hope to hear from ya soon!
The pictures are of us with Joselyn and then without. I included the one without to show how truly happy she was to continue in this path to return to her Heavenly Father and the peace that she had found.
Let´s just say this was an awesome week! So much happened that I was dead tired every night! I had the opportunity to listen to El. Holland and I got to see a bunch of my peeps from Yaruquí!
It always makes me sad when members (especially older women) start to cry. We were talking to our mamita after lunch and asked her if there was anything we could do for her. She, like everyone else all 9 billion times we have asked this, said no. We talked to her a little bit more about her son who is leaving for his mission in a few months and she started to cry telling us that she was in so much pain from arthritis, she was afraid that she would not be able to keep working to help him afford his mission. We decided to, without asking, start to wash the dishes and clean her kitchen for a little bit. She protested at first but then gave in. You could see tears welling up in her eyes from gratitude. It always feels good to give even a little bit of service because you never know how much it will mean to them. She was able to spend the rest of the afternoon relaxing and playing with her grandson.
It is interesting to do house contacting here in the heart of Quito because everyone is so closed and DOES NOT want to talk to us but that does not stop us. We did a little house contacting and then went to eat lunch. We had an appointment with an investigator, Victor, who has been investigating the church since last February. He keeps telling us that he just has not received his answer and that all he has to do to receive his answer is persevere to the end (you cannot really do that until after you get baptized...). He is a funny guy.
We had our regularly scheduled meetings and then went to lunch with Mama Cruz. She made us some awesome enchiladas and then we had a quick little lesson with her music teacher for her kids. Her name is Gaby and she works in the international school. She was fun to talk to because I got to teach a little bit in English (let´s just say that teaching in English is hard...). We then went to the church and had our weekly family home evening as a ward. We, as missionaries, put it on every week so that our investigators and less actives can find and make friends in the ward. It is always a blast! Tonight we watched "Finding Faith in Christ", a super good video about the life of Christ and what he did in his time on Earth (btw, you can find it on YouTube and you should watch it!).
I love when we have members agree to come make visits with us and then all of our appointments fall! We went on down to Zambiza to do final prep work for Joselyn´s baptism and prepping Stephany for her baptism but all of our other appointments fell! Oh well! It was still a good night because we were able to help Joselyn´s mom feel better. She was having a rough night and did not want to listen to us (she is less active and tells us that she is Catholic now). Little by little she has been listening to us but she said no for tonight. I have a bunch of the Mormon Messages on a flashdrive so we went and put one on about having personal challenges and how the gospel can help. I turn the volume way up so you could hear it all throughout the house. You could hear her cleaning in the other room but then stop. As we were leaving, she popped her head out and told me that she was listening. I told her that I had hoped she was because I knew it was a message for her. She said thank you with tears in her eyes. Little by little, I know we can help her come back.
We had a baptism and boy was it a crazy day! We had our weekly meeting with our ward mission leader and talked about several of the problems that we were seeing in the ward. We came up with several solutions and I have my fingers crossed that they will help. I had prepped brownie batter that morning for Joselyn´s baptism but did not bake them until later in the afternoon, so they were a complete failure! But have no fear! Mama Cruz came to the rescue and fixed us up a bunch of brownies. Everything was all set for the baptism and the rest went smoothly. Nelly, Joselyn´s older sister who is less active but we have almost completely reactivated, bore her testimony during the baptismal service and you could tell that she was ready to come back to the church fully. Joselyn could not stop smiling before and after her baptism! Also, Joselyn´s mom came to the baptism and you could tell that she could feel the spirit!
I would have to say that this has probably been the best Valentine´s Day that I have had. We got to listen to Elder Holland!! How cool is that? And I get to listen to him again on Wednesday! Before the meeting (it was a stake conference), I got to see a bunch of people from the Yaruquí branch! It was truly a tender mercy of the Lord! Yadira did not want to let go and could not stop crying. An hermana that I started to teach before I went home asked me if I recognized her. Come to find out, she got baptized!! :) Also, a less active hermano was there with his whole family! Sometimes, we do not always see the results of our labors right away. There was a slight theme to the talks about miracles and how they still exist (I can testify of that!). El. Holland shared three amazing miracles that he had seen recently and then shared Moroni 7: 29, 37. He bore a powerful testimony like always and then left a blessing on us.
We went and ate lunch with the family McOmber, a bunch of gringos from Oregon who when they return to the states will be living in Utah. We had a very gringo dinner of roast beef (makes me feel super trunky!) and homemade brownies and ice cream. We then went to visit people in Nayon. Our family of less actives, the family Santa Cruz, are doing awsome. Unfortunately only the mom was able to listen to El. Holland today but she said that that was what she needed to help her family come back to church.
This week was super exhausting but amazing. We got a comment that Joselyn´s baptism was very well organized and that was extremely very personal for her (which is how it should be every time). Now we have to start prepping Stephany´s baptism for the 26th! Busy! Busy! Busy! Hope you all have a great week and that you had a happy Valentine´s day!
Well, Carnival has been quite the exciting time! People are running around with spray foam and dumping buckets of water on each other. It has been quite the hilarious sight and we even participated a little bit today for our Pday after we did a little bit of service for a less active family that we are teaching. It was quite the adventure but was lots of fun!
Tuesday We were sent to the clinic because Hna. Rojas has been having stomach problems for the past week and a half. An hermana helped us find a cheap clinic so that she could be tested. Come to find out, she has a parasite and now has to take pills for 2 weeks! Yuck!
Wednesday We got surprised with having our weekly meeting today, so our plans went out the window. We focused in on exploding our faith in helping others find this light. For the month of February and March, we will be sacrificing something to help us focus in better on helping others. It is a tradition that the missions in Ecuador have had for years and we are going to continue it. It is called "Fe en Febrero trae Milagros en Marzo" (Faith in February brings Miracles in March). For my sacrifice, I decided that until April, I am not going to listen to music in the house and am going to start my personal study at 7:30 rather than 8am.
After our meetings, we went and visited a bunch of people with Hno. Egas who gave priesthood blessings. It was truly amazing to feel the spirit as the hermanos y hermanas recieved blessings of comfort, counsel, and health. I am so grateful to have the priesthood and worthy men to posses it in my life and the comfort that I can find in it. Heavenly Father truly does love us.
Thursday We had interviews with President Richardson! Where did the time go?? It felt like only last month we were having interviews but nope, that was all the way back in November. Both President and Hermana Richardson asked me how the house in Esmeraldas burned... President says that he is going to have someone check out the electricity in the house. Hna. Richardson and I talked about my experiences these past few months and she shared a few scriptures. We reviewed our area book and got giant chocolate chip cookies because we have been taking care of our area book! :)
Friday I went and did divisions in San Carlos with Hna. Contreras! Funny story: ALL of our appointments fell! We ended up walking the sector a ton. We climbed their mountain several times and tried talking with a bunch of people but no one wanted to talk with us. By the end of the night, my feet hurt so bad because we walked a straight 5 hours without sitting down! My head hit the pillow and I was out like a light!
Saturday We switched back! Hna. Rojas and I headed to Nayon to visit a few of our less actives. Then we headed up to the chapel so that Joselyn could have her baptismal interview. She passed and is still on track to be baptized this Saturday!! :) She is more and more excited for her baptism everyday! It is amazing to see how the gospel changes lives. She is super excited to be an example to her family and to help them come back to the gospel.
Sunday Church was awesome today! We had a bunch of less actives come to church that we were sort of doubting were going to come. One hermana said after church that that was what she was missing in her life and she loved the spirit she could feel. Nelly, another less active, is just one week away from being completely reactivated! Her daughter, Stefany, is super excited to be baptized soon! After church, we ate lunch with the family Cruz. I seriously love this family. We were all joking around while lunch was heating up and then looked at the pictures from Hna. Cruz´s mission. We passed by another member then went to Nayon to visit our less actives. More were able to receive a blessing and are super pumped to come to church next week!
This week was a fairly busy week but a good week nonetheless! Hna. Rojas is feelings tons better and we are determined to work hard this week! And! We are going to have a baptism! Oooooo I forgot to mention... Jeffrey R. Holland is coming to visit our stake/mission this week!! How awesome is that?! We get to listen to him in Stake conference and then as a mission on Wednesday! Wooohooooo! Happy week of Carnival!
Until next time,
The Strawberry Blonde Hermana
Ps. If you could pray for my companion, Hna. Rojas, that would be greatly appreciated. Not only is she sick but her grandmother passed away, so today has been a little rough.
Another week has come and gone and guess what! I am in Gringolandia! Basically that means that I am with a bunch of Americans! It is really weird! About a third of the ward I am serving in is nothing but gringos (Americans). It is kind of cool but also really weird. I have only eaten rice twice this week. The reason why there are so many americans is because we live near the American embassy (how cool is that? Exploration time? I think yes!).
I am old! Yay... Hna. Rojas made me breakfast and then we went to a member´s home for lunch. We ate chicken make with coca-cola and ice cream to celebrate my birthday with them. Later, we tried visiting a reference from a member but she went to the hospital... We ended up eating dinner with the Family Cruz, a family from the states who Hno. Cruz is an ambassador. Hna. Cruz had made banana bread and Hna. Rojas told her too that it was my birthday. Hna. Cruz told us that she was not planning on baking that day but had a feeling that she should. She said it was meant to be that we were there! After dinner, she drove us home.
A new experience for me is that we do not live in our sector... We live (minimum) 20 minutes from the edge of our sector. We take about 8 buses everyday depending on if we go to different parts of our sector. In the evening, we met with our investigator named Joselyn who is planned to be baptized on the 13th of this month! She is 17 years old and has the testimony of a someone who has been a member for years and years. Joselyn told us that she loves the gospel because it gives her peace in her life and it is so true! We can always find peace with the gospel because it gives us hope.
We had our usual meetings but here it is a little different. Usually we have our meetings in the Iñaquito chapel but since the new missionaries were there today, we ended up having our meeting in San Carlos. My zone is awesome! I am in La Zona Quito Oeste with all the leaders like the assitants, secretaries, and the nurse (don´t worry, I am in good hands). We did a little scripture chase but I was not putting forth effort. They would read the scripture and we had to find the reference. Winning team got ice cream. One of the scriptures they read was in Omni 26 and the only reason why I knew that was because Pres. Richardson had shared the scripture with me. It talks about how we need to offer ourselves as a sacrifice to become closer to our Heavenly Father and to help others to find the gospel.
Later in the evening, we had a Ward Family Home Evening in the chapel. We are using this activity to help investigators and less actives to make friends in the ward. It is so much fun. Our ward mission leader did a little activity where we thought about our favorite prophet from the scriptures and why. Then he said that the only difference between them and us was that they were acting and we are usually lacking in the acting. It was a super fun activity and of course afterwards, we had refreshments (the best part of any activity).
Seriously, being with gringos is interesting. Our mamita today, Hna. Rasmussin, gave us salad, grapes, and tortillas de papas. I am eating so healthy. You all would be so proud of me (so much freaking salad... blehhh!). Later in the evening, we went to a part of our sector, Zambiza, to visit Joselyn and a few other people. Unfortunately, Carnival is near so everyone is starting to get ready for parties and such. This means that with the huge street parties, less and less people are in the house but great for contacting! ;) We broke our healthy streak for the day by getting pizza (I had been craving pizza for weeks! It was awful!).
We had our weekly meeting with our ward mission leader. He misheard what I had said and was super confused. I had said "hermanadores" or people who become friends with our investigators/recent converts/less actives to help them feel comfortable at church. He heard "Hermana Doris" and was wondering when an Hermana Doris had moved into the ward. It was super funny.
It is always interesting to visit people and to have them open up to us by telling us their stories of their lives. We talked to one less active named Cristina who has not come to church in years because of what has happened in the past with her ex husband. This is why I am so grateful to have this gospel because it helps us move forward past the fears and worries when we understand the doctrine.
Later in the evening, we got home and while I was calling in our report for the day´s work, Hna. Rojas was making herself one of my hot chocolate packets. She did not understand how it worked, so she put the package in the microwave (it was lined with aluminum) and it started to spark. In the middle of my call, all my zone leader could hear was "Qué está haciendo?? Va a quemar la casa!!!"... It was pretty funny to think about it after the incident... (I was talking to my zone leader who had been my zone leader in Esmeraldas when the other house was burned...)
Church was fun. I had to introduce myself and bear my testimony. It was cool because I ran into one of the hermanos from the Yaruquí branch. We gave a tour of the church to Joselyn and she told us that the reason why she liked coming to church was because she felt safe and loved by Heavenly Father. That is what we should always feel when we go to church.
After church, Heavenly Father answered my prayer! I had been craving all day bread but because it was the Sabath, we could not buy bread. We went to visit an investigator named Estephania and she works in her dad´s bakery. She gave us bread! Then we went to go eat lunch with our mamita but right as we got there, she was leaving to go to the coast for several weeks and gave us a bagged lunch. We took the lunch and ate it at the Cruz´s house. They also gave us pizza and cake from the birthday of their daughter, Breanne, who celebrated her birthday 2 days after mine.
Today we got to go pay our energy bill and go to the offices so that I could get an agenda. We went to the Otavalian market to look at all the fun stuff. We have a bunch of Otavalians in our ward that are willing to sell us the same things but cheaper. They are awesome. We then ate lunch at a Colombian restaurant because Hna. Rojas is from Colombia and was missing her food. It was a simple but fun p-day!
That is pretty much it for this week. What have I learned since my last birthday? We can plan all we want but in the end, Heavenly Father puts us where we need to be and you know what, I am ok with that now. Have an awesome week and hope to hear from you all soon!