Monday, March 9, 2015

Esmeraldas Chapter 2: Shoes Muddied and Stomachs Destroyed

It's been rather rainy here - practically every day. That's good, because it means it's not so deathly hot all the time. Far more refreshing. But it also means that my shoes get extremely muddy. The streets down where we live are paved, but somehow the mud makes it down here still. And of course, when we have to climb up into the hills where the people actually live...that's much worse. The other day we watched with amusement as a bunch of kids played in the mud, flinging it at each other. At least they don't do that to us. Somehow my clothes still get muddy. The other day we went to get our laundry from the person who cleans it and learned that they'd gone a good 6 hours away and didn't know when they'd be back. It was pretty funny, really, as what we were wearing was the last of what we had. Thankfully we got it back the next day.

Mostly it's awesome having people always giving us something to eat - even if it's just pancito and a little bit of soda or herbal tea. But the other day someone had bought a 2 liter bottle of soda and gave us some. Cool, that's great. I downed it with pleasure. Then I realized they'd bought THE ENTIRE BOTTLE for us. So I ended up having to down about a liter of soda solo. Thankfully I managed to find an excuse to not drink it (a much longer story which will be told some time when I get home) but still ended up having to drink most of it. I about died that day. And when we get back to the apartment my companion: "I'm hungry! What do you want to eat?"

Other than that my stomach's been doing fine. The water here is the most dangerous, so most of my money has been spent on buying bottled water. I probably drink around 2-3 liters every day. Worse if it's a hot day.

In terms of the people, and the sector...things are going well! The great thing about the coast is that there's almost always something to do. We do have an investigator with a baptismal date, but as she didn't come to church this past week and we haven't been able to find her for a while, we're at the very least going to postpone the date...we'll see how it goes. We're mostly focusing on helping our less-actives, of which we have PLENTY. For instance, a family we found the other day that moved her from Spain a good year or so ago (That happens a lot here. Lots of people go to Spain looking for work. And they come back with the most hilarious accents.). Over there the family we sealed and everything and when they came here, well...the ward was different and they had a bit of trouble adjusting to that.

It frustrates me a bit when people know what's true and that they have to act, and do nothing about it. What a waste of their agency! But hey, that's hipocritical at best. It's something I need to master, myself. The things we can do if we just master our own selves! We just need to make the decision to do it.

A thought came to my mind the other day - we only call people less-actives if they don't come to church. It's the best way the church can measure a person's commitment, the only truly concrete statistic that can help the outside observer measure someone's commitment to Christ. But going to church isn't everything. Really, when people go "less-active," the problem begins much, much earlier. It begins with being less-active in our day-to-day commitment of living the Gospel. Less activity in our scripture studies, our prayers, our family home evenings...if we're not doing those things, why bother going to church? It's nice to keep face, but sometimes it's only that - a mask.

And more than anything I've become only more grateful of the example I've had in my own family. Even though it's hard, we tried to do our scripture studies, our prayers. It's like herding cats sometimes, but if it's not done, nothing gets accomplished. Everything starts in the families, with righteous examples.

As I've visited so many people I'm starting to realize as well what a bubble I lived in before. Most people don't have security in their families. The modern family is fractured and distorted to a point where it doesn't know what it is anymore. Anything goes. The enemy truly is attacking in the most vital point, because if the basic unit of society doesn't exist, nothing does. I love a quote by Larry Niven (I believe) - Society is never more than three meals away from collapse. And many families are finding it harder and harder to provide those basic things. And the most basic - love.

I know the God cares about families. It's the divine order he's established, where we can find true peace and happiness. I know there's nothing greater, more important, than having that kind of family. And the Gospel of Christ is really the only way to achieve it. No philosophy, manual, or program can replace what it teaches. The only true path to love, respect, and service. Read the Proclamation again. I know that when we are unified in the truth of the Restored Gospel we can have the families we want! That's why I'm out here, trying to save one little piece of the world from its self-destruction.

Love you all! Have a great week! :)

Elder Scanlan

This week you'll just have to imagine how much fun I'm having in Paradise. I managed to forget my SD card adaptor in the house. Pics next week!

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