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.|