Monday, December 29, 2014

Post-Christmas Ecuador

I really don't have a ton to write about, seeing as it's only been a few days since I last in Ecuador everything is pretty quiet. The work is a bit harder because everybody is off on vacation and whatnot. We've stepped up our contacting and we end up contacting lots of people that are just visiting so...we dropped off a bunch of references at the offices today. But we have been blessed to find a bunch of new investigators. Hopefully we can continue to find the people we need to.

My Christmas was great! Thanks again, everyone, for all the letters. And a special thank-you to the activity days girls for the package! That was super awesome. Almost all the candy is gone and a sticker of Captain America now graces the cover of my missionary handbook. Because Captain America would be obedient to ALL the rules.

Some members gave us food (we had to stay in our house as I explained in the last letter), which was great. Turkey, rice (of course), mashed potatoes, and salad. Well, the salad here is usually just a mix of veggies, principally onions and tomatoes, with lime juice or mustard or something. I think I could count the number of times I've eaten lettuce here on one hand. But it's delicious, nonetheless! My companion and I also made a mountain of crepes which we slathered with dulce de leche (caramel, basically) and jam. Good times.

I also finished the Book of Mormon and began the New Testament! The New Testament is a bit slower going because I'm trying to take time to look up the historical context, etc., so I can understand it better. And occassionally I'm daring enough to use Jesus the Christ as a reference as well. It's actually kind of funny to me - sometime it's way easier to read the Spanish rather than English, because Talmage uses so many words that just don't exist in Spanish, or are much simpler in Spanish.

And I also had the opportunity to once again kneel and ask in prayer if the Book of Mormon is true. I've been driving towards this point since the CCM, because I've wanted to gain a greater testimony of the Book of Mormon in order to be able to really testify of it to the people I teach. I know it's true! It's something I realized I'd already known with all my heart. I gained a testimony, I think, bit by bit, because I can't remember a specific moment in which I realized "bam, it's true." As I've read it, and applied the things it teaches, I've come closer to God and found true happiness in this life. I know that any honest seeker of the truth can read this book, ponder its contents, and pray, and that there they will find an answer. It can change lives and has more power to do so than any other method in the world. So I'd like to invite you to follow this invitation whether it be for the first time or the umpteenth.

Love you all! I'll e-mail year! What??
 Christmas dinner!! We have only this sad little table whereupon to put our food. It gets awfully crowded sometimes. Most Elders have the opposite problem.
Da da da daaaaaa! I got the Ocarina! Probably the best Christmas present ever. And yes, I acted that all out.

The view from the top of our sector. 

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas In Ecuador

Everybody thank you so much for the Christmas well-wishes and cards!! I'm going to try to send all of you cards back...hopefully they don't get lost in the mail.
I don't remember if I've already talked about this or not, but a little about Ecuadorian Christmas Traditions, as I understand them:
-Actually, a lot of it is very similar to the US. They have trees, for instance, and put all the presents underneath them, dress them with ornaments...the only big difference I've seen is that they are ALWAYS fake. If Mr. Armstrong did his fake tree vs. real tree question, there wouldn't be a single hand raised for the real trees. It's a travesty.
-Also, Santa Claus, or Papa Noel, is pretty much the same, too. I even heard some kids singing Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer in Spanish the other day. I don't know what I was expecting, but not so much of the same! But it feels comfortable, and that's good.
-The one big difference I know of is that everything happens the night before, the 24th. The custom, as I know it, is to have a big dinner at midnight, complete with turkey. (I'm remembering a funny experience I had when in my last sector we brought a recent convert family to help teach some investigator relatives. Their goal was to go to the temple in a year, which is awesome, and the one recent convert was like, "Yeah, get baptized, and we'll all get sealed and be eating turkey in the temple next Christmas!" I don't think it quite works like that but if it helps them with their goal, hey.) I believe they open their presents that night as well. And so the 25th is pretty much a normal day.
For us, as missionaries, we have a lot of rules for these two days. First of all, our p-day was changed to today (that's why I'm writing today). And we have to be in our house at 6:00 PM, and can't leave. That unfortunately means we can't go eat with any members or anything, but there are some members who are going to drop us off some food, which is FANTASTIC. We can stay in our house and study and whatnot. Actually, my companion and I were probably the only people excited to hear that. My plan is to finish the Book of Mormon again and start the New Testament. Likewise, tomorrow, we have to be in the house at 5:00. Between that, the fact that we have a district meeting in the morning, and the calls we get to make to our families, we're not doing anything these two days. But we ARE studying. So, I guess that's something.
He Sent His Son
And so I'd like to share a bit with all of you about Christmas. First, check out this awesome video if you haven't seen it yet: (And it's a good thing I didn't accidentally send you the Spanish link.)
Our whole mission was a little late to the party on this initiative, but for the few days when I can do it, I'm going to. It's an awesome video that reminds us of the real meaning of Christmas.
The other day I listened to the song "He Sent His Son" on my iPod. Here it is for you, as well:

It's absolutely beautiful, to me. As I listened to it, the words really struck me. How COULD the Father show the world how much he loves us? How CAN we know what path we need to take, the people we need to be, the purpose of this life? How can we find true peace and joy?
The Lord didn't work in a great cataclysm, cause the Earth to shake in fear, send forth torments and plagues to show us the way. He gave us a child, the simplest and most beautiful of all creations.
 Alma 37:6: Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise.
And so it is that in John 3, it says:
 16 ¶For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
God loves us. He knows each and every one of you individually and wants to help you, and always will. He gave us His Son to show us the way, because He loves us so.
Christ was the only perfect being to have walked the Earth. He showed us the way to walk, the way of love for God and for one's neighbor. He founded a church to guide us and give us a place to learn more of Him and how we can be like Him. What does the Father ask? Be like His son.
I know that by following Christ we can find true joy in our lives. He is my brother and my Savior. I know that He suffered and died for our sins so that we could all live again. I know that only through accepting Him and His sacrifice can we find the peace that we seek, the gift of love for others, the relief from all the sorrow and sadness we feel in this life. I want to add my voice to what the prophet Joseph Smith said so simply and powerfully in D&C 76:
 22 And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him:
That he lives!
I know that He lives. The way the Father has showed us His love is through His son. And so, I hope that whoever you are in whatever situation you find yourself you can take a momento to think about this. That you can take a moment to Discover this gift, and Accept it.
In particular I'd like to challenge you to read 3 Nephi 11. This is one of the most powerful chapters of the Book of Mormon. Also, I'd like to really fast link you to a talk by Elder Holland I found on the front page of the Church website. It's an awesome talk.

So, have a Merry Christmas! Remember, in the midst of all the gifts and Christmas Specials that you can find joy by loving someone else and serving them. As a missionary I get to do it every day and I've never found such exquisite joy. As Lehi in 2 Nephi 2, I feel:
 Wherefore, redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth.
 Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered.
 Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth...
I love you all! Until next week!
Our Christmas pile. Sadly, my companion's Christmas package is STILL locked up in customs...we decided not to go today down to Quito to get it because the traffice would've been horrific, but hopefully next Monday...

The Zone!

From left to right, my current trainer (step-dad), me, some guy, a guy who's being trained by my old trainer (step-brother), and my old trainer (dad). We have a happy little "family" here in the mission. 

A pic of me with our awesome mission president and his wife!

We do "tours" to show investigators and less-actives the chapel so they can get a feel of what it's like before attending on Sundays. This time we had fun and did an end-of-tour pic with a frame we found. This is one of my favorite families...they gave us some candies for Christmas. Awesome! I'm going to get their kids personal mini-hymnbooks because they always fight over mine and Elder McPhie's in Sacrament Meeting.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Things I Find Chistoso About Ecuador‏

The Lost Generation

In this week's addition of Things I Find Chistoso About Ecuador (We're still working on a theme song but yes it's in the works.) we explore the amazingly legally-illegal DVD and Video Game Market.

So I had a sneaking suspicion as I walked past all the DVD shops here. Why are the cases so funky here? They all look like those super-thin ones that you buy from Wal-mart to replace the ones you lose for Wii Sports. And none of the images seem to fit exactly - did somebody just print off a picture of the cover of the Avengers on plain old printer paper and stick it in there? And how can they be so cheap?

Well, ladies and gentlemen, I finally got it confirmed that YES, it's perfectly fine for people here to just make copies of whatever the heck they want and sell them. You just need to have had the original first.

So pretty much all the DVDs are sold for a buck each and are nothing less than boot-legged copies of everything under the sun. Reasons to move to Ecuador. I'm half tempted to buy a cart-load before I leave but I don't know if I'd make it past customs. It's just so tempting to buy entire series of anime here for a few bucks.

It's also funny how anime has penetrated here. And it's pretty big, too. Like about as big as it is in the States, if not bigger. There are anime mascots in every other cabina and I've seen more than one cosplayer in plain daylight. We think that America is the cultural hegemon of the world, but Japan is sneaking in behind us. Be careful. They're coming.

And even funnier to me is the fact that the entire country is stuck in the generation of the PS2. Actually, that's all ANYONE plays. I don't think I've seen a single Gamecube here. Which is surprising, because as we all know, Gamecube won THAT generational fight hands down (We will discuss the others at another, undetermined point in the future.). They actually have PS2s that you can sit there and rent to play. Pay-to-play means something entirely different here. Everyone's favorite games are Resident Evil 4 and GTA: San Andreas. It's hilarious.

And what's MORE...I think that there's actually money to be made here in hacking and making NEW PS2 GAMES. Because that's all anyone has, it seems to me that they just hack together new PS2 games to sell. Or are they actually still making FIFA for the PS2? Because I don't think FIFA 2015 should exist for the PS2. Or is that just me?

Who Are You Here to Find?

On a more serious note, I've been thinking about this. You know, each of us is put here, in the specific place we are, for a reason.  From D&C 100:

 Therefore, I, the Lord, have suffered you to come unto this place; for thus it was expedient in me for the salvation of souls.

Maybe there's something that only you can say to only this specific person here. Maybe that one thing will change their lives. I think I may have found some of mine. I just hope I can say what I need to. I want to help. Thankfully, there's a promise to each of us:

 Therefore, verily I say unto you, lift up your voices unto this people; speak the thoughts that I shall put into your hearts, and you shall not be confounded before men;
 For it shall be given you in the very hour, yea, in the very moment, what ye shall say.

I've been learning to rely on this a lot. I can't worry about what I'm going to say; I have to rely on a greater power to know. But I'll know. It'll be given to me! And it can to you, too. Maybe you might now know who it is who you need to touch, but just lift up your voice and proclaim the good news. Really, that's all we're asked to do. If you've felt as it says in Alma 5:26 to sing the song of redeeming love...I hope you can feel so now. And I hope you're studying the scriptures and praying daily. It will bring peace and comfort into your life you can't imagine.

I'll try to be a bit more spiritual next time. I love you all and hope you have a great week!

1. So we bought a cake for our English class...but nobody showed up. I ate it in about two days. An excellent waste of $6.

2. See that ridge over there? That's my old sector. I see it all the time. Kinda funny.

3. While waiting for lunch one day it started to rain. Then it started to hail. I took a picture. Then it started to do it REALLY HARD. We never ate lunch. Also I think I forgot my coat in my old sector. (WHAT! Do you like how he just casually mentions this in a photo caption? Oh my goodness. It was his only coat too. Guess he will be wet and cold. AUGH.)

Monday, December 8, 2014

Chapter 2: La Bota - In Which Our Hero Gets Sick, Hi-Fives the Local Drug Lord, and Incites His First Wedding Proposal‏

Not necessarily in that order, of course.
La Bota
So La Bota! I think I mentioned this already, but our sector is one of the smallest in the mission, I think. I haven't had to take a bus once, and I've only tried to take a taxi a few times, when I thought my bladder was going to explode...but we'll get to that. It's called La Bota because, if you can do a quick google search, yes, it looks like a boot. And so that's that! There are two main streets, one of which is La Bota, the other being Wladimir Lenin, which I think is appropriately misspelled. From the street "La Bota" I can actually see my old sector - I'll send pics next week, once I finally get my Christmas package opened (yay!). (His Christmas package arrived, but his Zone Leader picked it up and he won't get it until Thursday. I'm not sure what's in the package that will help him post pictures?)
The people here are a bit quieter, and a bit more cautious, because apparently this place has a reputation for being one of the most dangerous parts of Quito. I'm not sure where that comes from because although maybe I've seen one more drunk than usual, nothing has scared me yet. In fact, for me, I feel more comfortable here than in my old sector.
Also apparently it might have something to do with the fact that the guy who handles most of the local drug traffic (so I've been told) apparently really likes missionaries. If he sees us in the street he'll cross over and give us hi-fives, calling us his "guaguas" (babies). I haven't progressed into the him hugging us phase, but apparently that happens to. So, yeah. It's pretty great here.
And what's funnier is that there are FOUR gringos here. Me, my companion, and the district leader and his companion. Of course, only one of us actually looks gringo, but it's loads of fun. I'm seriously already dreading changes.
The ward is teensy, too, and there aren't a TON of baptisms, but the work continues, the same, and it'll be great.
Oh and I DID get sick from something but I'm better now. I think it was some milk an investigator serves us. She serves us food literally every time we come and talks our ears off but it's great. It was pretty rough in the middle of last week because being sick I just couldn't eat anything and of course it is a crime punishable by death here to not finish your plate was a struggle. But my appetite is back, so todo esta bien.
Incites His First Wedding Proposal
This will forever be one of my favorite things I've experienced on my mission.
We have a couple who are less-actives and of course for them to be "rescued" (receiving all the lessons again, attending church, and an interview with the bishop) they have to get married. And so my first night in La Bota we tried to help make that happen. We got the husband to agree to do it, and even think about a date, but the wife insisted he propose officially. After much tomfoolery (I spent most of this time getting distracted by their kid who kept piling all of his toys on me), he finally got down on his knees and did it. My first, maybe last, experience as being a witness to a wedding proposal in Spanish.
Can you tell why I love this sector, yet?
The Book of Mormon
This week of my training has been focused on Revelation Through the Book of Mormon, and that's been a great experience. I've been able to reevaluate and rediscover what the Book of Mormon means to me and should mean to my investigators. What should it mean to you? Let me share with you the second to last paragraph of the Introduction:
"We invite all men everywhere to read the Book of Mormon, to ponder in their hearts the message it contains, and then to ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ if the book is true. Those who pursue this course and ask in faith will gain a testimony of its truth and divinity by the power of the Holy Ghost. (See Moroni 10:3–5.)"
Whether you are a member, an investigator, or somebody who's never even heard of our church before, the invitation is the same. All men are invited to first: read it. See what it has to say. Second: ponder about it. Think about what it teaches, why it teaches it. Put in practice what you've learned. And then finally: pray about it. Ask SPECIFICALLY to God that you will receive an answer, that you can know if this book is true.
I've done this test. I've had questions, I've hungered, painfully, to know what is truth, who I am, if God is real, what my purpose is here in this life. I read this book and began to discover that EVERY answer to EVERY question we could have is in here. I started putting the principles of faith, repentance, love of thy neighbor, service, and more in my life, and saw the change and happiness I felt. I knelt down and prayed about it, I asked God if it's true. I know that it is. I know that this book has more power to change your heart and your mind than any other. All you need is that desire to search, the desire to find, and to put your faith, even if it may be little, in something you haven't tried before.
"Those who gain this divine witness from the Holy Spirit will also come to know by the same power that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world, that Joseph Smith is His revelator and prophet in these last days, and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord’s kingdom once again established on the earth, preparatory to the Second Coming of the Messiah."
I know that promise is true. I know you can find happiness that you've never felt before by doing this, no matter who you are or in what circumstance. Test it out! :)
Hmm I think that's all for this week. I had a great one and I hope you did and will, too! Love you all!
Elder Scanlan

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Cambios What

Thank you so much for all your kind words and support for Jeremiah. I know he really appreciates it. If you would like to send him a Christmas card or a letter, that would make his day! His address is:
Elder Jeremiah Scanlan
Ecuador Quito North Mission
Calles Robles E4-151 y. Av. Amazonas
Quito, Pichincha, Ecuador

That seems to happen very frequently in this mission. Yes, I already have my second companion (in the field) and he's going to finish my training. Elder McPhie is the name and he seems pretty great. And I went from one of the biggest sectors in Moran to one of the smallest in what's called La Bota. Everything is within walking distance. I don't know much, but I'm excited to work here and with this companion. Of course I was sad to leave Moran...we had plenty of work. But I'm sure the work here will be no different and I will find the people I need to find.
Sorry if this letter is short - it's partly because of the shell-shocked-ness of the sudden-ness of all of this. That and we tried to retrieve my companion's Christmas package from customs down in Quito and of course that took absolute loads of time. It had better be worth it when we get it next week.
Speaking of, Christmas here seems to be more or less the same in a lot of ways. Everybody has trees and lights (though fake trees) and there's a big Christmas dinner with turkey and everything - though apparently at midnight. Since they don't have Thanksgiving everybody's had trees up since mid-November at the latest so...I'm very much in the Christmas spirit, thank you. I wish we could decorate our apartment a bit but it's way more important for me to have food to eat. We're only missing Christmas music - because that doesn't exist here so much and I have none on my ipod.
I've had to learn a lot this week and will have to learn, probably for the rest of my life, about patience. Patience with myself, patience with investigators, with's truly a divine attribute. I find it interesting, as well, that it is so closely linked to faith and hope. We have to have faith that we can be blessed, hope that it will happen, and the patience to wait it out until the end.
I was hoping to be a bit more spiritual this week but I just can't think of much to say. Instead, I'll refer you to an incredible talk by Brad Wilcox that completely changed my thought process regarding Grace:  Please take a minute to read it.
I love you all! I'm excited to work in a new sector and tell you guys all about it. The work is the same everywhere, and I just want to make sure I'm doing my part in it. Until next week!
Elder Scanlan

Monday, November 24, 2014

Week ?: In Which Investigators Fall Out of the Sky Onto Our Hero‏

It's probably a very good thing I have no idea what week it is. All I know is that next week there are cambios, and I hope I get to stay here with my companion! We're really getting the ball rolling here and I want to see a lot of success.

New Investigators

So at one point last week there were a few days were practically nothing happened. Between meetings, all of our appointments falling through, and various other things, we basically didn't get to do anything. It was kind of rough, but those days happen. And we were really blessed this week with a bunch of new investigators that more or less yes, appeared out of nowhere.

For instance, a family just showed up at church yesterday, and so of course we grabbed them and ducked into a classroom to teach them and get to know them before they could get away. The wife had heard of the church from a co-worker, and they wanted to go somewhere. The husband explained that there are things he wants to change in his life and that's why they chose to came here. "Well," I thought, "you've come to the right place!" How cool is that?

With investigators like that sometimes I feel like I'm holding a piece of fine China. I must be careful, because I don't dare drop them. I couldn't bear watching that happen. Being so close to the truth, to the change they want, and - no! But at the same time, I don't worry unduly. I know I'm working hard. I know the Lord is on my side. If I'm teaching with the Spirit, maybe they might not choose to listen, but I did my best. What's great is that this family really does seem to want to change. We gave them their reading assignment from the Book of Mormon and in the next hour in church I saw that the husband was already flipping through it. Great!

One of the real joys of missionary work is watching people change. It's truly incredible.

My First Baptism!!

For instance, this investigator I got to baptize. Last e-mail was my first baptism where I had helped teach the person, but this one was the first one I got to actually baptize myself and it was great! Really, the whole family is awesome. The husband was already a member of several months, but the wife...well, the first time we met with them, she didn't seem to want much. Kinda "eh, yeah, whatever."

But you know what? Not only has the husband made incredible strides, but he helped her to do so as well. And as my companion explained to me (this happened while we were on divisions) he showed the family the movie Prophet of the Restauration. At the end they asked "so, how do you feel?" And she said, "I feel like I need to get baptized."

And there we are! This gospel, and the Book of Mormon, have more power to change than anything in the world. If you don't believe it, try it for yourself.


Or, pride. I've learned a bit about that this week and learned some very interesting things.

First, I'd like to refer you this talk by Pres. Uchtdorf, which has quickly become one of my favorites and something I should try to apply every day:

I learned in a district meeting a very interesting interpretation of a passage of scriptures I'd never thought of before. Here we see pride of the righteous in Alma 4: 12: 

Yea, he saw great inequality among the people, some lifting themselves up with their pride, despising others, turning their backs upon the needy and the naked and those who were hungry, and those who were athirst, and those who were sick and afflicted.

And then we turn to Amos 8: 11-12:

 11 ¶Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord:
 12 And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of theLord, and shall not find it.
These verses here are talking about the Great Apostasy. The people were hungering and thirsting for the truth, but could not find it. So, what do we learn?
If we aren't sharing the Gospel we are, after a fashion, being prideful.
Pride really, truly is the root of all sin. When we say "I'm better than this, I'm better than man, I'm better than God." That's when we fall. I noticed this was a problem for myself! I was comparing myself a lot to other missionaries regarding Spanish, wondering why I couldn't be better at it, and realized - wait, that's pride! I shouldn't worry about that! I will do the bestI can and not worry about others.
I'd love to talk more about this but have no time. One last point: it is PRIDE that will be the great downfall of civilization. That's what Lehi saw, in his vision. 1 Nephi 11:36:
 36 And it came to pass that I saw and bear record, that the great and spacious building was the pride of the world; and it fell, and the fall thereof was exceedingly great. And the angel of the Lord spake unto me again, saying: Thus shall be the destruction of all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, that shall fight against the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
So, yeah. Let's be humble! :)
Most of the types of bananas here. Those are pink, yes, on the right. They're a little less sweet and kinda...mushy. The big yellow ones are the normal U.S. type. I bought that bunch for $1. Yes. And plaintain and minibanana whose name I don't know.


I also got to baptize this little girl who turned eight. Her two names are Maria Fernanda but every shortens it to "Mafer" which is hilarious and adorable.

 This, my poor, deprived, American friends is encebollada. An amazing fish soup. Here they love to stick popcorn and banana chips in their soup and it's great!

Passion fruit, viewed through Hunger Games shaky-cam. It's really acidic, actually, which you'd never guess from the juice, but still great. With a little bit of sugar sprinkled on it's even better.

Monday, November 17, 2014

This Week in Pictures

Well, more like the last month or so. Because I figured out I can, now.

Work for the Dead and Missionary Work

I learned something very interesting this week, primarily from this article, which I hope you can all read:

Wow! Isn't that cool? For me, it really got me excited to do temple ordinances for the dead! Sadly most of the Ord side of the family has already been taken care of, but there's lot's of work to do on the Scanlan side! I was particularly impressed by how Bednar describes the effect that the Spirit of Elijah can have in retaining members. It's pretty amazing, and how true it is! One of the statistics we as missionaries keep track of is how often we can get our recent converts to do work for the dead - and for good reason. When people have a chance to serve others, they are converted. The best way to serve others is through missionary work. And work for the dead IS missionary work.

Again, wow! Get involved, people!

And on that note, I'd like to mention how impressed I've been with the members here. There's are particular family here we've been able to go out with a couple times to teach investigators - the husband himself is a recent convert of only 6 months or so. But seeing them getting the chance to share the gospel has been incredible. They have strong testimonies that only grow stronger as they get to share the gospel. Do the same! And for those of you not from our church, find ways to serve! And maybe hear what we have to say. :) (On that note, I'd also like to quickly refer you non-members to this talk, also by David A. Bednar:

A quick funny thing about Ecuador. Maybe I'll make this a running thing: things I find chistoso about Ecuador. Well, this one's mostly about me. Every time I introduce myself, I have to explain, "I'm actually from the U.S." And then explain that my dad is from Samoa. It's good fun. Eventually, once my Spanish is better, it'll be even more fun seeing their surprise.

I'm loving it here! I hope you're loving it where you are!

 I tried to take this so many times. It's a good thing there were a bunch of signs that said "Quito" for me. 

 In Quito proper.

A view from our sector. That's Quito out there. We're kinda in the "suburbs," more or less.

A guagua de pan! (Refer to a couple e-mails back to learn what the heck that is!)

A typically dusty day in the outskirts of our sector. I think there's a horse or a donkey in that picture. Can you find it?

This reminds me of a Lucot powerpoint. "Parrillada," or essentially a mix of barbecued meats, veggies, and bananas.

Crushed it!

THAT my dear friends, is a chocobanana. It may look like a various number of things but it is actually delicious, and only 25 cents.

 A couple days ago the skies were miraculously clear, which doesn't happen often here, and we could see ALL of the volcanoes that ring Quito. I have no idea what their names are, but here's one of them.

My first baptism this past week! Wooh! It was great! (We all had a good laugh at Jeremiah in this picture...apparently he is yawning? Pretty normal Jeremiah behavior-that's our boy.:))

 I love the graffiti here and I have the pleasure of looking at this work of art every day, as it's right by our apartment. There's not much of a law here against it and so people battle over the same wall. If it's a good piece of art, it stays there for a while. This one's been here for a looong time.

An example of the buses here. On this one I had to crouch a bit because people here are short and not everything is accomodated to Americanos. I've already hit my head several times trying to get off the bus.

Well, this is the actual middle of the world, as calculated by GPS. Not big monument, but pretty cool. I have a video of a demonstration the tour guide did - you know that thing about the coriolis affect and water spiraling in different directions? We stood on that line and emptied a water basin and it went straight down. A couple feet to the right and it went one way, a few feet to the left and it went the other. Yes. IT HAPPENED.

 I am at the middle of the world. Yes. I am.

Pink bananas. Yes, I do take a picture of practically everything I eat. And record it in my journal.