Just reminding you that's where I am.
But as you probably realized from the last photos I sent it's really just any other town. It's just hot, rains, and things are more expensive. But I think I did hear some monkeys running around outside the other day.
These week's update might be a bit shorter but first we have an investigator with date, Mayra Ponce! She's a 16-year-old that they found last transfer, but she's been having good progress. She doesn't live with her parents I think because she's going to school here and they work out on a reserve or something deep in the jungle (Yes, there ARE natives that still run around with spears, but a good 4 hours away, not counting the canoe ride, so we kind of don't work there.), so we still need to get their permission and she still needs a testimony as well, so that'll be the focus. But she could get baptized this week. We'll see what happens.
In the rest of the sector we have people who can progress in the future, but need to get married, and since so many people are Colombians getting the papers arranged for that type of thing is a nightmare. But one of my favorites of these people is Juan. He's a young guy but you couldn't tell by looking at it - he's been through some Stuff. And it sounds like his voice box got thrown into a blender from its whispery rasp. But he's awesome. To illustrate, a story from the other day:
One of the other elders was bugging him about his fancy-looking watch and the nice new motorcycle he bought.
Juan explains, "They're God's blessings. Just like the song." (Singing) "'Count your many blessings...' I love that song. I sang it in jail. They'd always put that music on and I'd cry and cry..."
Oh and speaking about baptisms we got to see a baptism from one of the other companionships here last Saturday. As we're renting an apartment for the church, there's no font, and so we baptize...IN A RIVER. Needless to say it was a cool experience and really very spiritual. Like I said, it's awesome seeing the strength of some of these members here that have hardly been members for more than a few years - or months or weeks. Pics at the end of the e-mail.
This week I got to know Coca, the other city where missionaries work out here in the Oriente. Since it's two hours from here to there in bus, we alternate where we have the weekly zone meetings so that half the zone doesn't have to lose that kind of time every week. (Remember that Coca and Lago Agrio are the two branches that are covered by this zone and that there are three companionship in each branch.) So that was cool and I also took a million pics on the bus ride.
I had a cool experience this week. There's a returned missionary living here who moved here from Guayaquil and he's a great help in the branch. He also likes to sing and is one of the few latinos I've ever met who's actually had some kind of training, and so we've already hit it off good. We're always finding hymns to sing and work on the parts. I suggested "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" because I love the bass part and we sang. We sang our hearts out. Then he surprises me by pulling me into a hug and crying. "Thanks for your service," he tells me with a smile. Music helps us feel the Spirit! And it helped me remember I'm here to serve in any way possible. That's the joy of the work.
I've been thinking a bit about these verses in 2 Corinthians these past few days:
9 Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing.
10 For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.
There's an interesting and important difference between godly sorrow and worldly sorrow. I had this problem at one point. Worldly sorrow is wanting to change because of our shame or thinking about what other people think. That kind of sorrow can't help us repent. Only godly sorrow, which is what we feel when we'll do anything to make things up with God. Getting rid of our pride is often the first step to repentance.
Love you all! Have a great week!
Oh and check out lds.org! The article on the front page that talks about pioneers talks about some members from Otavalo! That's part of the mission, an area of "campo," or field. There are so many members in Otavalo it's been nicknamed "Utahvalo." One general authority once said that it's one of the purest Lamanite places on earth. I'll have to dig out that quote. Anyhow there are four parts of the mission, more or less: coast, mountain (city), field, and jungle. I've gotten three down. It's likely I'll get sent to Otavalo in the future, too.
|BAPTISM in RIVER|
To the left here is the building serving as the chapel, on the second floor.
Pomarosa - one of those fruits I'd never heard of ever before coming here. It's pretty good, I guess.