Monday, August 31, 2015

Book of Mormon Challenge‏

Hey there, 
I mentioned this a few weeks ago and I promise this is the last time, but Jeremiah is approaching his one year mark, which also means his birthday is coming up on September 13. As with all missionaries, he loves getting letters. If you would like to send him a birthday message, it would make his year!:) You can send him an email directly at, you can email me at and I will print and mail your letter to him (he loves real mail) or you can send a letter directly to him at:

Elder Jeremiah Scanlan
Ecuador Quito North Mission
Calles Robles E4-151 y. Av. Amazonas
Quito, Pichincha, Ecuador
Thank you so much for your prayers and support for Jeremiah!

Well first off we have two people now with a baptismal date! Yay! One of them is Mayra and the other Dina. They're both young women we've been working with that both had baptismal dates before but for various reasons couldn't get there. Dina is our main priority because her date is for next week, the 12th! She already has all of the requirements in terms of attendances and things like that but we need a good plan to help her to come to church because every time she's come it's because we've come to pick her up. It's a bit hard for her because she lives pretty far away from the chapel and her family doesn't do much to help her come (we're teaching some other members of the family but she's the only one who's having progress right now). She does have desires to do what's right but also needs a true testimony. We'll be praying to know what to do. We can't baptize someone to not have them stay in the church, that's for sure! But I think we can work on it. I've felt the Spirit tell me many times to keep working with her.

The sector is also doing much better! I think we've finally stabilized. We've gotten to a point where we have plenty of people to visit. Not many are progressing still and we need to plan well to get our priorities straight but the Lord's blessed us immensely with lots of people to teach!

President paid us a visit this week, which was pretty big. He comes down here very rarely, only every three months or so, mostly because it's a long ways to go just for the 12 missionaries working out here in Lago and Coca. He comes in plane accompanied by just one of the Assistants and catches us up on all the trainings he's given in the past three months and does interviews.

In fact, because of the distance we missed out on a surprise visit Elder Soares of the 70 made to the mission. They found out about it like a week before he came and since he was only going to be stopping by in Quito for two hours neither us nor the missionaries in the coast were invited to come. Oh well!

But what President focused on was important. More than anything he focused on our own personal worthiness. Something he reminded us of struck me - if we're doing our job, being obedient, we have the RIGHT to ask for miracles here. That's pretty incredible, huh? And we HAVE seen miracles, I've realized. One is the family  I mentioned last week, the Quervalu family. We started with the kids and now the dad and even talked with the mom this week! And she was really surprisingly receptive. The problems will be two-fold: getting married and not working on Sunday. But just the miracle that we have a new family has my hoping for even more!

It reminds me of something Elder Bednar has explained: we need to be absolutely pure if we want to be the Lord's instruments. It's like fiber-optic cable. Those cable need to be absolutely pure to be able to transmit the information that runs through them. If we're pure the Lord can do miracles with us. And that's what President wants for us as well.

Also, he gave us the challenge to read the Book of Mormon in 90 days, which I'm sure will be a great experience. We're going through and marking everything about Christ in red and humility in blue. This is going to be my 5th time in the mission but I haven't gotten tired of it yet! As President reminded us, Pres. Hinckley promises three things if we read the Book of Mormon once again. One, we'll feel the Spirit. Two, we'll want to be more obedient to God's commandments. And three, our testimony of Christ will be strengthened. Pretty great promises!

I actually finished the Book of Mormon at the beginning of last week and I received an answer once again that it's true. I simply had to think about the blessing it's been in my life. I love the last verses of the book where Moroni invites us to come unto Christ. How can such a book not be true? I know it's been my best friend and nothing has brought me closer to God nor taught me so much than this book. I love it! Make it a goal to read it in your own life and I know you'll be blessed! Have a great week!

A llama. I freaked out when I saw it believe me.

 Baptism for some of the other Elders this week!

President comes to town.

Typical latin spelling prowess.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Bible Bash, Birthday Blast, Boa Bake‏

First of all, HAPPY ONE YEAR MARK, COMPANION!! That's right, my companion, Elder Arango, hit his one year mark last Saturday. I bought him a cake, it was a good time. And in not very long I'll hit a year in the mission! Now everything's downhill - or so they tell us. We'll see. But now people will actually think we know something, maybe.

And in other news of eating delicious things today I ate BOA. That's right. Check that one off the list. The meat had the texture of fish, but was heavier and sweeter. But pretty tasty all in all! They just didn't serve it with rice, which was really weird for me, and getting around the bones took some work. I like how they gave us a fork, a spoon, and a knife. Just figure out how to eat it. I'm pretty sure there aren't any kind of established policies for eating boa so I just went at it with my hands. And I also ate huanta. I'm still not sure what it is, nor if I've spelt the name correctly there, but it was also good. Now I've just got to get working on the worms and the guinea pigs.

This week in the sector was a lot like last week - a lot of contacting, a lot of trying to find new people. We actually had less success this week in terms of the number of people we actually found, but we had some great experiences.

At first I was really discouraged, honestly. Long stretches of days where all the appointments fell through and I just wandered around listlessly, trying to contact but generally feeling bad. That was at the beginning. But I was able to apply some gratitude, like I talked about last week, and even see some great success!

The other day my companion and I were walking to an appointment with a contact when we saw some kids playing by their house. My companion said after we passed by them "I think I heard them talking about us. I think they recognized us. Maybe we should contact them." But I really wasn't in the mood, honestly. The appointment fell through and we were returning back that way when my companion suggested we contact them. Alright! So we did. And it turns out there was a family there that had been receiving the missionaries a good while ago. The parents didn't have any progress, it seems, because they never came to church, but the three little girls were coming all the time. And they came to church this week! We'll see how it goes with them! At the very least the husband was very receptive (he's who we ended up contacting) and so we've got the foot in the door.

We also had an experience with a guy who knew a TON about the Bible and was citing all sorts of scriptures to us. It was in turns frustrating and awesome. He was confused by the differences in religion but at the same time so stuck to the Bible I worry if he'll ever just get on his knees and ask God about his ideas. But I felt the Spirit as I could testify to him that this is the one true church.

One last story to close up that really helped me up. My zone leader was in an absolute desert of a sector a while ago. 4.5 months there with absolutely no fruits. How frustrating would that be? There was one member there and one less active. No support whatsoever.

But a week after he left one of the people he was teaching got baptized. A few weeks later, her kid. Now the whole family is baptized and preparing to go to the temple. This was about a year ago.

All thanks to the fact that even though it was 8:40 at night after a long day of no success this elder went to the store to buy some chocolate and talked to the kid. Miracles happen! But often depend on our work and faith.

Oh and I had a super weird experience this week running in to some members from my old ward in La Bota (speaking of desert-like sectors)! I can't believe that was like 7 months ago. Anyhow I was glad to hear one of the less-actives I'd worked with is still going strong. :)


Lago Agrio.


Monday, August 17, 2015

State of the Sector Address‏

I suppose I do miss a bit being connected to the political world, but I can't say I miss Hillary either.

Anyhow my new companion is Elder Arango! He's from Peru (that's my third Peruvian companion), from Huancayo. He's got almost the same time as I do in the mission - it's fun because we're both going to hit our year mark this transfer - he hits his this week actually. He likes futbol (what else is new) and eating. Probably the first time one of my companions spends more time being hungry than me. We get along pretty well - he's generally pretty animated and the best thing is that he actually likes contacting. It's been a good while since I've had a companion that doesn't mind contacting.

Which has really come in handy because, well, the sector's in pretty bad shape right now. Because we couldn't spend a lot of time in the sector with my last companion (we had to babysit another missionary while his companion, the zone leader, was in Quito for meetings) we have very few people we're teaching right now. So we've been doing a lot of contacting (I shouldn't whine at all, imagining people in the States who have to tract for hours...), with varied results. Every three or four or so someone will talk to us in the door or even let us come in the house to teach but it's just as hard to find people who actually progress. People love to listen to the word but not do much about it.

And the absolute worst was when absolutely noone came to church this week. Of all the new people we found and the investigators we already had noone came. So we have nobody with a baptismal date and there's no way we're going to hit the goals we set for this month.

It was really darn frustrating for me. I really got the case of the Sunday Blues. Sometimes Sundays are my least favorite days because I just do not like seeing everyone not coming to church. Especially people we'd relied on...any how, it really taught me once again about patience, faith, hope, and gratitude.

This morning I started the Book of Mormon (as in the book that comes after 4th Nephi). I don't really like getting to the end of the Book of Mormon because it depresses me a bit learning about the wickedness of everyone at the end...but I was thinking about what Moroni wrote in Ether 12:

 4 Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God.

I was thinking about the conditions under which Moroni wrote that scripture. He was seeing the fall of his people, their complete degeneration into filthiness, and here he is talking about hope and faith. It's true, really. The point is that Christ was perfect. We can have faith that His plan is perfect, too, and that everything will turn out fine in the end.

I was also listening to one of my very favorite talks ever, by President Monson. Listen to it from the beginning, don't just read it. He talks a lot about having the gift of gratitude and I realized it's a way of living I really want to and need to cultivate. He points out that it's actually a wonderful time to live on earth, that there is a lot of good and happiness in this world! It's just incredibly hard for us to have that perspective.

That's how I felt this week, and more than anything in church.

I just realized the many things I can be grateful for. We have an incredibly strong family of recent converts that always come to church. We found a ton of people. We've had spiritual experiences. And we have a branch here off in the middle of nowhere that after only three years has an attendance of 80 members weekly.

I'll close with Pres. Monson's thoughts:

Sixth and finally—even supremely—let us reflect gratitude for our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. His glorious gospel provides answers to life’s greatest questions: Where did we come from? Why are we here? Where does my spirit go when I die? His called missionaries bring to those who live in darkness thelight of divine truth:

Go, ye messengers of glory;
Run, ye legates of the skies.
Go and tell the pleasing story
That a glorious angel flies,
Great and mighty, great and mighty,
With a message from the skies.

He taught us how to pray. He taught us how to live. He taught us how to die. His life is a legacy of love. The sick He healed; the downtrodden He lifted; the sinner He saved.

Only He stood alone. Some Apostles doubted; one betrayed Him. The Roman soldiers pierced His side. The angry mob took His life. There yet rings from Golgotha’s hill His compassionate words, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34.)

Earlier, perhaps perceiving the culmination of His earthly mission, He spoke the lament, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.” (Luke 9:58.) “No room in the inn” was not a singular expression of rejection—just the first. Yet He invites you and me to host Him. “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if anyman hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” (Rev. 3:20.)

Who was this Man of sorrows, acquainted with grief?Who is this King of glory, this Lord of hosts? He is our Master. He is our Savior. He is the Son of God. He is the author of our salvation. He beckons, “Follow me.” (Matt.4:19.) He instructs, “Go, and do thou likewise.” (Luke10:37.) He pleads, “Keep my commandments.” (John14:15.)

Let us follow Him. Let us emulate His example. Let us obey His word. By so doing, we give to Him the divine gift of gratitude.

My sincere prayer is that we may, in our individual lives, reflect that marvelous virtue: an attitude of gratitude. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Sorry for the lack of pictures this week but my camera didn't have batteries. Next week! :)

Monday, August 10, 2015

Broken Things

Hey there, 
Jeremiah is approaching his one year mark, which also means his birthday is coming up on September 13. As with all missionaries, he loves getting letters. If you would like to send him a birthday message, it would make his year!:) You can send him an email directly at, you can email me at and I will print and mail your letter to him (he loves real mail) or you can send a letter directly to him at:

Elder Jeremiah Scanlan
Ecuador Quito North Mission
Calles Robles E4-151 y. Av. Amazonas
Quito, Pichincha, Ecuador
Thank you so much for your prayers and support for Jeremiah!

Trio Time

So we were hanging around with Elder Vargas again this week while his companion, the zone leader, was in Quito for meetings. It meant we didn't get to work a lot in our sector which was kind of a bummer but between the two sectors we used our time pretty well. It means I have a lot of work to do now with my new companion, but that's ok. There are some things I want to change anyways, work a bit more efficiently.

I guess what I learned from the experience is that the way to preach really is two by two. Trios are just awkward even if they're fun in the sense of being with other missionaries.

Diane Young

So we got a bit of a surprise on Friday when they told us that instead of leaving Sunday for Quito (since he was finishing his mission) my companion would have to leave the very next morning. It just really reminded me that our time here is so short and we need to use it really wisely. The whole experience was kind of surreal. It's just like one minute he was there, the next he wasn't. For me the work continues and I felt normal, but for him that was it. We had to rush to see the last people we wanted to see and ciao.

I think that they have us go on missions partly because it's like living. We basically do live a life here - we are born, we grow up, get old, and die in the mission. So we can learn in microcosm what we should do in the rest of our lives, have a bit of perspective. It's just so weird to be thinking it can end just like that in a moment.

But, the missionaries will keep coming. My new companion will be Elder Arango, another Peruvian (my third). I'm hoping it'll be a good change! He only has a few more months than me in the mission. Really as missionaries we don't matter at all. We just have to do what the Lord wants us to get done for him - the people won't and maybe shouldn't remember our names or anything. But they can remember what they felt. The work will continue with or without us. We just have to let the work change us so we benefit from it, too.

Progress Update!

Well we do have some people with potential, despite the fact we haven't found practically anybody new.

First we have Dina Gracia, a young woman that's 15 years old. We've been teaching her entire family (not sure if I've mentioned them - they're the ones where several can't read) but she's the only one that's really been progressing with her commitments. And actually she's really shown a lot of faith and I'm incredibly impressed by her. It's just hard for her to do anything because her family doesn't have the same dedication. I love them all but I think we'll probably put a baptismal date with just her for now. And just help her get to church.

We also have Angel Chaha, the father of a family of four. We haven't gotten the wife to listen to us but I think she's just intimidated - if we keep working with her I think we'll be able to baptism them all. But he's also progressing well, and has already received an answer that the Book of Mormon is true, which is fantastic! They're a very humble family. We just need to help him get to church, that's all! He's had a few baptismal dates but they've fallen through because we as missionaries haven't been good about helping him get to church. But that's going to change very soon...

Broken Things

We had a great meeting this week with the zone. President had sent a video of us to watch with a song by I can't remember who but it was very pretty I assure you. More than anything I loved its message. Here are some scriptures:

Isaiah 53:

3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

 4 ¶Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

3 Nephi 9:

 20 And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit. And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost, even as the Lamanites, because of their faith in me at the time of their conversion,were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and they knew it not.

Alma 36:

18 Now, as my mind caught hold upon this thought,  cried within my heart: O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness, and am encircled about by the everlasting chains of death.

 19 And now, behold, when I thought this, I could remember my pains no more; yea, I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins no more.

 20 And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain!

 21 Yea, I say unto you, my son, that there could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains. Yea, and again I say unto you, my son, that on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy.

As the song said: "Could it be that God loves broken things? ....Could it be that God loves broken me?"

Love you all lots! Happy 11 months to me! Get ready people, in a month from today I hit my one year mark! :O
The other day the other Elders had a baptism!

 It rained really hard one day and I was the only one with an umbrella. My companions had a different idea.
And another day we bought ice cream.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Possible Parasitical Perils‏

This week I've been thinking a lot about how to help families. We're teaching a few families (which has been a huge blessing here, I haven't really gotten to do much teaching to investigating families in my mission....) and I've been thinking a lot about how to help them. I know that the Gospel has blessed my family, without a doubt, and I think any faithful member of the church could say the same, but I think we have a much harder time trying to express exactly how the Gospel does that. So here are a few thoughts I've had.

The Family Proclamation says we need to establish families on several principles, some of which are: faith, repentance, prayer, forgiveness, work, love, compassion...and so I've thought about how the specific teachings of the Gospel bless the families specifically.

One of the most important elements is the Spirit. We absolutely need it in our homes. The Spirit is what teaches us, guides us, and gives us many gifts. It's what unites the hearts of family members and helps them love one another. That's what Paul teaches us in chapter 5 of Galatians:

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,

 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

I can imagine we'd like to have those things in our homes. That's what the Spirit offers us. And that's part of why we need to be reading the scriptures and praying and going to church as a family. So that we can have the Spirit with us always.

Two other principles taught by the Gospel that are important in the family are repentance and forgiveness. Everybody fights, it's hard to share toys, people make mistakes...what does the Gospel teach us about this? I like what is says in D&C 58:

 43 By this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins—behold, he will confess them and forsake them.

If someone wants to live the Gospel they will repent, and this can solve so many family disputes and mend so many mistakes! If we just live this teaching in our families things will inevitably get better. Family members need to be willing to get better and solve problems! That's what the Gospel teaches us.

On the other side we also have to forgive. I've learned in the mission a bit of just how hard it is to forgive other people - a lot harder than I thought. But there is no other way we can find happiness in such situations. Here's a scripture from Mosiah, chaper 26:

 31 And ye shall also forgive one another your trespasses; for verily I say unto you, he that forgiveth not his neighbor’s trespasses when he says that he repents, the same hath brought himself under condemnation.

And so if we do that as well, the wounds can heal even faster.

Really, all of this has to do with our commitment to follow Christ. If we follow his example, we will be the parent, child, spouse, or sibling we need to be. A thought I've always liked is that the way we can tell if someone is converted to Christ is by watching the way they treat others...that's the key indicator. If we have a sincere desire to serve the Lord we're going to have the same love He did. Christ tells us: "What manner of men ought ye to be? ....even as I am." (3 Nephi 27:27)

We don't often think about it this way, but Christ actually suffered so that families can be together forever. That was the ultimate purpose, the great Why behind it all. Christ died so that we can be happy in our families and so we can be with them forever. Nothing happens within the family, nothing is so grave that it can't be repaired through following Him and His teachings.

I realized this as we were teaching a less-active family. We watched Together Forever, a little movie by the church from the 80s (which is probably have the reason I loved it...the hair...). It's hard seeing families that are being destroyed. And that's going to be the undoing of society.

But hey, everything's going to be fine! Don't worry. :)

In other news, I had some interesting visits to the bathroom this week and totally thought I had parasites...did a test, and it turns out everything was fine. I was actually kinda disappointed but oh well!

In terms of investigators and progressing people we need to keep searching because it seems like everyone we're teaching decided to go on vacation but I'm sure at the end of this month we'll see some great success. Love you all lots!
I'd like to know why John Kerry is baptizing this gentleman.

There's monkey in this picture, running away from the pile of food on the ground, but it's a bit hard to see...darn thing saw me coming like a mile away.

Eating ice cream with the district (minus the zone leader, who's in Quito right now)