Tuesday, December 29, 2015


The amount of creativity my titles bear is about proportional to the time I have left in the mission.

This Christmas was fairly uneventful! We had to be in the house at 6:00. My companion taught me how to make papa de la huancayina (sp?), a Peruvian dish that was pretty good, and I attempted to make oreo truffles, which turned out horribly ugly but pretty darn delicious.

Thanks so much to everyone who signed the tie! Especially all the banders.

I called home on Thursday. My third call. I can't believe it. I've only got one left. Things go flying by. I mean, I've got plenty of time left, but shoot...it's almost 2016. Set goals! Goals help you become better than you are. But that's a sermon for another day.

This weekend we had a baptism! It was for a member whose records had gotten lost, so it was really just a formality, but it was nice nonetheless. She's a good member (her name's Ana, she's 15) and wants to serve a mission. She knows a ton about the gospel and is generally awesome. It was a kind of weird circumstance, but a blessing nonetheless.

Yesterday we went to teach her and her mom, and we didn't have much time because the last bus in that part of the sector was going to leave in about 20 minutes, so while my companion prayed to start the lesson I prayed to know what we could share, something to really help them, even though they are active members. Their dad, on the other hand, isn't super active and doesn't have a testimony, and a scripture came into my mind - D&C 123:17, which I had been studying just a few weeks earlier.

 17 Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed.

So, I shared it with them! And it turned out to be perfect - the mom shared with us how her son, Ana's brother, had been pretty rebelious for a time and didn't want anything to do with the church. It was very hard, but she tried everything she could to help him, the way a mother does. Absolutely everything. She even read the Book of Mormon to him while he slept, hoping that perhaps he'd listen. And she always left it there in the table for him, hoping that some day he'd pick it up. And one day, finally, he did! He read it, and slowly started back to church. And now he's on a mission!

It's a message for all of us. I was remembering that if we have faith in Christ we must neccessarily also have faith that anyone can change. And that little lesson was more a lesson for me, because it's something needed to remember. It's how we should work with our investigators.

The other day I was reading Elder Packer's final testimony that they put in the Liahona and it really struck me.

“After all the years that I have lived and taught and served, after the millions of miles I have traveled around the world, with all that I have experienced, there is one great truth that I would share. That is my witness of the Savior Jesus Christ. 

“Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon recorded the following after a sacred experience: “‘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! “‘For we saw him’ (D&C 76:22–23). 

“Their words are my words.” “How privileged I have been throughout my life to be able to bear my special witness that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. I testify in all humility, but with absolute certainty, that He is the Only Begotten of the Father. This is His Church; He presides over it and directs this work. He is our Redeemer. I know He lives, and I know Him. Of this I testify in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.”

I'd like to testify as well that Christ is our savior. I know he lives, I know he is at the head of this church. I learned this through the Book of Mormon and I know that anyone who reads it can receive that testimony as well. I know he is the son of God!

Hope you all have a good week!

My failed oreo truffles attempt.

Papa de la huancayina
Me eating it.

Gorgeous views.


Monday, December 21, 2015

Ejido 3

My new sector! It's actually been kind of frustrating working here so far. Let me explain.

The sector is HUGE. We have some parts on the outskirts of the actual city of Ibarra, plus at least 4 or 5 other small towns such as Atuntaqui, Chaltura, and Natabuela. Technically the sector has parts that reach all the way the limits of the provinces of Imbabura and Esmeraldas, which means there are towns that are actually hours and hours away. Apparently we have some members that live in a town several hours away by bus. Some of the sector extends into the fields, as well.

That means we have to travel a lot by bus, which has been frustrating, because the buses here charge at least .30 so we lose a lot of time and money by travelling. And sometimes the buses don't pass by very often to get to the parts of the sector where we want to go - we were waiting almost an hour one day doing nothing so that we could catch a specific bus to go to a specific part of the sector for an appointment that also didn't happen. And taxi is super expensive out here, even more for us because they try to rip us off thinking we're tourists. There's even the risk of getting stuck way out in the field if we miss a bus and having no way of getting back home - though that hasn't happened (yet).

And all of the members, less-actives, and the few investigators we have are spread out all over the place. We have almost nobody that's progressing and I haven't even met half of the people we're teaching yet. Well, we will have a baptism this week, a member whose records got lost so we have to baptize her again. But she's super active, so it's just a formality. Kind of weird, but whatever.

The point is that planning is a nightmare, worse for me because I don't know anything around here. And the area book hasn't been any help either because it hasn't seen a lot of action. To all current and prospective missionaries: DO THE AREA BOOK EVERY NIGHT. It's so important.

The branch is pretty cool. The work is rather strange here - there are a few branches here in Ibarra, no wards. The district has struggled, why, I'm not sure, but there's hope! We met some awesome members.

For instance, last night we visited the most recent branch president (he lives in our sector!) and he's really cool. He's an awesome example of someone who gets the gospel. He's a younger guy, married in the temple, and he told us of how he joined the church without any support at all. His whole point was: don't wait for anyone else to "save" you. Self-reliance is important spiritually, not just temporally, and it's true! He may not know as much doctrine as other people, he may be kind of comical sometimes, he might not have served a mission, but he knows what's right, what's wrong, and that keeping the commandments brings blessings. He just told us "keep the Sabbath day holy, pay your tithing. It works." And it's true!

I was reminded once again this week of WHY we're out here. The Atonement! I'll just leave you with one of my favorite scriptures in 2 Nephi 2:

6 Wherefore, redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth.

 7 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.

 8 Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth

It's true! Pres. Benson has said that the Gospel is the only thing that will save the world from its own self-destruction...so share it with others! Or check it out! I know it's the only thing that's brought me happiness.
The Imbabura volcano. I'm on the other side of it now.

Out in the fields. My camera doesn't do it justice, it's super gorgeous out here.

Everything you see is my sector. And this is like a tiny part of it.

Monday, December 14, 2015

You Never Know...

Shoot. I don't really know what to write. We were sitting in my district leader's house waiting for the changes and one of the elders, who has a bit more time than I do, said, "You think as you get older in the mission you'll get used to getting changes, but then changes come and you get all super nervous again." It's true! I was pretty nervous, with no idea what to expect. Finally, late last night a member passed by our house to let us know that I was leaving the sector...and so was my companion. The closed the sector down! Now there will be just one companionship working in RumiƱahui. It's for the best, but it was still a huge surprise. The move us around so much in this mission. I guess I like to get to know other places and people, though. I'm just sad I won't be able to keep working with the people I was working with - though I'm sure the elders that are left there will do a good job.

So, now I'm in Ibarra, a city not even an hour north of Otavalo. It seems pretty cool - it's got all the modernity of Quito (it has decent-sized mall!) without so much of the hustle and bustle. It's a district here, with I think three or four branches. It'll be interesting to work here! My sector is apparently really big, extending way out into the fields, even including another small town about 20 minutes away, Atuntaqui. My companion is Elder Flores, yet another Peruvian (you kind of have to get used to that, here). He's one of those Peruvians that talks super fast and half-mumbles everything so I'm having a bit of trouble understanding him, but whatever.

What else can I say? I'm kind of still in shock, I guess. The fact that I'm low on funds doesn't help, either, and there was almost no food in the house when I got there.

Well, this week was our Christmas lunch with President! It was fun. We had a gift exchange and other stuff in the mission home in Quito. It was a fun distraction I guess.

Gosh I'm sorry but I just don't know what to say! The mission keeps moving on. The Lord will just keep trying and testing us. That's kind of frustrating, but a reality. Maybe I should just accept it and smile about it.

I love it out here, even though it may be hard. It's definitely the best thing I've done with my life.

 My (old) companion and I at the Christmas lunch.

Hooking up with one of my trainers, once again.

With President!

With the Sanchez family! Andres, Jhon, and Blanca. I feel confident they'll get to their date the 25th, even though I won't be there!

With Victor Piedra, our awesome rescued member.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Roots And Branches

If you would like to send Jeremiah a Christmas card, that would make his day! His address in on the sidebar. Thank you for all your prayers and support for him.

I think my last like 5 or 6 e-mails have had two-word titles, so this one has three, for your enjoyment.

Well, this week started out with some sickness - it was funny, my knees got better, but then my companion got sick, and we stayed almost the entire day in the house on Tuesday. It was actually kind of good because I could kind of recharge and feel better, ready for the week. And it was a pretty good week after all!

On Thursday, we received an interesting training from President (through the zone leaders - they go to Quito every month to receive training and then bring it back to us) about how to help the church grow. He compared it to a tree, the roots being the "old" members of the church, and the branches being the new converts. The problem was that the branches were growing a bit too fast for the roots and because of that were dying off because the roots couldn't support them. The point is, we need true, dedicated converts, who go to the temple, and get sealed. There's a difficulty in the mission with finding families, especially priesthood holders, who will help families to progress. I've seen this personally quite a bit - for example, in my ward in the coast, where the active priesthood were very few. As a result, the ward had a lot of problems growing.

So they invited us to pray specifically to find families - and not just that, but to pray to the Lord how many people are in the family we're searching and then do everything we can to find that family. It's pretty cool, because I feel that we really will find this family we're looking for. For example, we're looking for a family of five. That's what my companion and I felt to look for.

I realized, too, that I've kind of been missing that in my mission. I think that's the experience that lets someone love the mission - finding a family and helping that family to find the gospel. And I realized I haven't really been focused on that! It's now my greatest desire. Help a family to not only get baptized, but go to the temple. Because, after all, that's the whole point, isn't it?

The awesome thing is that we do have one such family we're working with right now, the Sanchez family! It's the mom and her two kids - one is 15, the other 25. We found them contacting and it's incredible the progress they've had! More than anything the mom just wants the best for her kids, and it's just incredible to me how willing they are to listen to us! It's magic, I'm not sure what we did. Well, better said, it's the Spirit! They came to church yesterday, stayed all three hours, got along with everyone, left wanting to come back - and even better, Andres Sanchez found someone there who he'd known before. Things just fell into place! They've got a date for the 25th (the two kids, the mom is a less-active who got baptized when she was a kid), because the 26th is Saturday and why Christmas is just one day before, so why the heck not. What I loved most was when we were teaching them yesterday and the mom started with the prayer. While praying, she said "Thanks so much for this, I've been waiting for a long time and it's finally come..." I just wanted to cry.

We also had a cool experience finding a new investigator this week. We went to find a contact we gotten an appointment with two weeks ago or so (highly unlikely, people forget even if we tell them the day before) and as we were approaching the door, we saw an old guy sitting outside in a wheelchair. Now, old people here are almost always super Catholic and not super interested in listening so I guess we approached with some trepidation. We started talking, and he told us "yeah, people like you have already come by here, but they always say they'll come back, and they never do." I wondered if that might be because he never progressed, but I decided this time to push that thought away. Sometimes you just never know, and can't just judge people on the outside. "It's a waste of time," he said. But I decided to be persistent. What if we just need to show him that we care about him, that we will come back? It would have been so easy, like we almost do, to just have said thanks, and leave. I wouldn't blame most missionaries for doing it because he didn't seem like someone that could progress.

But I decided to be persistent.

After promising a couple times we WOULD come back if he allowed us, he let us sit down there outside his house and we got talking! And you know what, he may not understand everything and he may not have accepted baptism but I could start to love him. I think that's the most important part! He's got a great old guy laugh, he's very polite and kind, and he's fun to talk with. Oh, and his name's Raul. And we'll definitely go back to teach him!

It all reminds me of a talk I love by Pres. Monson that talks about how we must see others as who they can become. It's not easy, and I'm not at all saying I've gotten good at it, but I could feel the Spirit as we talked, and that's what's most important.

You don't normally see last names like this here. (They were Jehovah's Witnesses)
The other elders in the ward had a baptism this week! Robin is the name of the guy that got baptized and he's really awesome.
             The Cotacachi volcano on a rare sunny day.