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.

Monday, November 10, 2014


Somos maquinas! We're machines! That's what we were, a couple days ago. Tracting! Our District Leader came to help us with tracting and every time we got a contact he would say "somos maquinas!" Contacting is one of my more least favorite things, of course...but I'm trying to learn!

Small Miracles

Have I mentioned that they happen every day? It's absolutely crazy how many there are! And I get a front row seat to seeing them! For instance:

-We like to contact taxistas (taxi drivers), probably because of the story in Preach My Gospel of a - well, you can look it up yourself. But anyhow, it's great, because they can't escape, and neither can we. May as well contact! (Well, my companion does. I'm still working on the courage and the Spanish. But it's getting much better!) So we contacted one and left him a pamphlet. A few days later we were late to a cita (appointment) and had to catch a taxi. At least three or four passed by and for some reason wouldn't stop for us. Then, finally, one did. We climbed in, and it took me a second but then I realized...IT WAS THE SAME GUY. This time we left him a Book of Mormon! Who knows what'll happen next?

-Our very first contact that day with the District Leader just let us in and was like, yeah, yeah this is awesome! as we taught him Lesson One! What??

-And more!

The Ward

Some quick notes about how things work here in the Church in Ecuador:

-So many people are converts, it's not even funny. I don't know if I've met a member yet (a parent, at least) that was born in the church. It's a bit daunting for me, but also exciting. That's the impact I can have.

-Not many people can play the piano, if any. We just use a little electric keyboard (I really need to offer my services, actually.). And so nobody REALLY knows how to sing the hymns, and so sometimes they just make it up. It's kind of fun, some of their interpretations. It just throws me off. And I'm the only one harmonizing. Sooo sometimes I don't sing much heheh.

-Our ward we're in, Moran, is pretty great. The hard part, like so much of Latin America, is that there are tons of inactives. That, and as missionaries we have to work hard to keep recent converts involved, etcetera. For instance, we have to teach all the lessons to a less-active and they have to have an interview with the Obispo (bishop) to be considered active again. Oh, and tithing is it's own separate lesson. But it's great! I'm really coming to love the members here, even if I can't speak to them all the time.

This week I've been thinking about weaknesses, a bit. It's incredible the promises extended to us in Ether 12:27 ("And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them"). It's a verse I'd always kind of looked over, but now it's come to have a new meaning for me. It's something I NEED to learn as a missionary. There is always that hope, that I can get better, that things WILL get better. It begins with a faith in Christ, and the changing power of his Atonement. The Gospel is all about change. That's the central message. That none of us are static, that we can only get better and better. I also found this verse today that I love in Alma 31:31 ("O Lord, my heart is exceedingly sorrowful; wilt thou comfort my soul in Christ. O Lord, wilt thou grant unto me that I may have strength, that I may suffer with patience these afflictions which shall come upon me"). Our souls can be comforted in Christ, no matter how sorry they are. That is what I love. Ciao, for now!

Hey, any of you that have questions about Ecuador or missions or whatever, preguntame! And spread the blog! (Mr. Lucot, Mr. Wagner, Mrs. Schuster, are you reading this?)

Tuesday, November 4, 2014


Lamentably I have no pictures. Somehow I keep forgetting my cord. Satan is after me, for sure.

ANYHOW we're going to talk about FOOD today! One of my more favorite topics, right? I'm really coming to LOVE the food here in Ecuador and for many reasons. Let's begin with...


Now I knew I would love the fruit here, and that it was the capital of the fruit world in many ways, but I didn't exactly understand how much I would! First of all, there are all sorts of cool things I've never seen before that I just love. For instance, tamarindos (tamarinds?), which kind look like big brown peas - you crack them open and there's a great citrus-y fruity part inside that you suck off the seed. Also, there are so many types of bananas here I still can't get them all straight! My FAVORITE, so far, has been Verde (Green, literally. The ripe version is called Maduro, or mature.). Well, Verde itself is no good - it's a really big banana, but it's starchy, rather than sweet. BUT what you can do is cut it up, cook it in oil, smash it, cook it in oil AGAIN and it makes the best, thickest, most delicious chips I've ever had.

I'm already missing it. Hey, keep a tally of things like this that exist in the states so I can know what I can make when I get back.


Everybody says the food in the coast is the best, and that seems to be true! All of my favorite dishes I've eaten at members' houses included a coastal element. One of which includes fish. It turns out I like fish eyes! They're kindy chewy and for some reason taste kind like an egg. Really, it's not gross at all.

And the King of Kings is encebollada, a coastal fish soup, essentially. I've only had it once, and I've heard that it's only better in the coast. Soup is a big part of every meal, and this is the best kind. They also like to put banana chips, popcorn, all sorts of things in their soup to add a crunch to it, too.

The Samoan side of me is so happy.


There are so many bakeries here it's not even funny. It's the way that Ecuadorians do it, really, they just set up shop outside their house, and so there are many who specialize in bread. It was absolutely horrible yesterday as we were fasting (fast Sunday!) walking past all the open bakeries with the sweet smells wafting out.

One thing they have here that's seasonal is called "guaguas de pan." "Guagua" (wahwah) is the word in the indigenous language here for "baby." So, bread babies. They're shaped like little wrapped-up babies with frosting on top with a face and everything, and jam or caramel or the like inside. So good!! I'm planning to get a bunch today before they're gone.

Hey everybody, keep sending me things you want to hear about Ecuador! I'll have to respond to them slowly, I only have so much time to e-mail, after all. But don't you agree this was an important topic to start off with?

The Lord Works In Many Ways

I was reading Hna. Wahlstrom's letter (I read all of yours, by the way, Nick, Sidney, Richard, Zach, and the rest! They really help me!) and she mentioned how she was reading in the chapters where the Anti-Nephi-Lehies believed so strongly they willingly gave up their lives and thus many Lamanites were converted. And how the scriptures say, essentially, "and thus we see that the Lord worketh in many diverse ways for the salvation of his people."

It's something I've been thinking about. There are so many ways that we can help, and we never know what action of ours can change the life of another. We simply can't have fear to share the Gospel (Something I'm still learning! I don't like to contact much.). For instance, just this morning we were on the trolley and a guy got on - he looked right at me and I quickly looked away. It was uncomfortable. And over the next five minutes as people got on and off he got closer and closer to us until he was right there - and my companion could tell he was looking at us, and so made contact. And it turns out he'd heard of the church before, in Madrid (he was white, which is becoming really peculiar to me) and even willingly gave us his business card so we could have some missionaries contact him! (He lives outside our sector, in Quito proper.) Wow! And here I was, afraid. I shouldn't have been!

I'm trying to learn to walk by faith. I know the Lord has prepared a way for each and every one of us. We just need to rely on Him, solely on Him, praying and searching the scriptures. I'll figure this out. I will, because the Lord has given me all I need and knows how much I can handle!

Ciao! (Is that how it's spelled?) Les amo!

Elder Scanlan