Monday, June 20, 2016

The Last* Supper

President invited everyone going home in my group to a special little lunch in the mission home this Tuesday. It was most definitely a going-away thing for him and his wife (They end their mission next week!), but right off the bat, he said "We're happy to have you here, but there's just one rule: No getting trunky." It was a fun little moment with them. Sister Richardson had made lasagna, probably the first time I've had it in over a year. I almost didn't even touch the rice they'd given us, but I had about 4-5 helpings of lasagna. That was pretty great. Apart from that we saw a few videos from the mission and had a mock final testimony meeting.

It was a good meeting, and of course went on for a good while (especially when the sister missionaries all shared super long testimonies). The testimony that impacted me most was from Elder Green, an elder from my group who I haven't seen hardly at all in all the time we've been in the mission. He stood in front of us and said something along these lines, very simply: "You guys know I'm not one for words. I'm a nerd from the country of the US." Then he began to tear up. "I know Christ is our savior, and all I want to do is share that with others. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen." We could all feel the Spirit. It really ended up motivating me - I still have time to find, teach, and baptize people! It just reminded me that the main motivation I have for being here is to help others understand and get to know the Atonement.

So it was then pretty frustrating to have a rather meh week, especially because it was kind of our own doing. I feel like there were many more people to contact and talk to in the streets and more ways to exercise our faith. More than anything I don't like knowing that we've ever wasted the Lord's time. On top of that, I need to be a good example for the missionaries in my district and my trainee. But we did have some good moments.

Pamela Flores has a date for this Saturday! We were scared for a moment because her brother and sister-in-law had scheduled to baptize their kids in the Catholic church for that same day, and Pamela wanted for them to be able to come to her baptism, which was going to be pretty impossible if they were both the same day. So she wanted to change her date, but we managed to share scriptures and follow the spirit so that she'd accept for the 25th. She had her baptismal interview and everything, and she's very prepared! It's pretty incredible - her mom tells us that she never wanted to accept missionaries before, but when we came, she just all of a sudden felt like she needed to listen to us. We were her chosen companionship, I guess! What a blessing. I'm just happy their family is happy. Now to work on her other nonmember siblings... :)

Apart from that yesterday was stake conference for the Imbabura stake. The temple president from Guayaquil was there, and he gave a great talk about the importance of going to the temple. He talked about how the path to the celestial kingdom always goes through the temple, and the temple recommend is basically our passport to get there. It really made me want to go to the temple, even though we can't in this mission. An elder from my group was sitting behind me and tapped me on the shoulder. "Hey, I think we need to talk to President after this. Our recommends are about to expire." And I was like "Oh shoot, you're right."

Turns out that was probably the last time I'll see President and his wife. So as we were leaving we said some more official goodbyes, that it isn't for long, because he said, "Elder Scanlan, we'll see you in Utah!"

But I've still got plenty of time. My dream (and prayer) is to find a family to teach and baptize, still. It can be done! I'm sure I'll have lots of miracles to share with you guys next week. See ya!

The last supper.

Right now is Inty Raymi, the sun festival, and what people do is go around to the different houses with a group and they dance in a circle. The tradition is to give the dancers food. This particular group dances outside our neighbor's house like every other day.

 Today we checked out this museum in Atuntaqui that was once a textile factory. It was pretty cool.

 Outside the factory. The story is that when things got really bad in the factory in 60s, the workers lynched the factory owner and dragged him all the way down to the main plaza in Atuntaqui, where they burned him. Cool.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

And They Didn't Even Give Us Guinea Pig!

Lemme tell you, the waikis really know how to party here.

The natives have some pretty crazy traditions, and marriage has got to be one of the most stressful things ever. First of all, just for the proposal the tradition is to load up trucks full of soda, potatoes, fruit, rice, and pretty much any kind of food and caravan down to the house of the bride to present the offering. That's just the proposal. And for the actual marriage every third cousin twice removed gets invited - which basically means the entire community comes down to party. If they're not members of the church, there are normally copious amounts of alcohol as well.

One of the members of our ward is getting married, and it just so happens that it was his family's turn to give us lunch the same day they were preparing for his proposal. We got to their house and their whole family was peeling potatoes - so of course we started helping. I think we were peeling potatoes for like an hour before we finally took a break for lunch (and there were still several sacks of potatoes to be peeled). Of course, they'd only had time to make a chicken soup, so that's all we got to eat, because we of course had to go out to work since we'd already gotten behind on some appointments. I mean, it was tasty, but lunch is almost never just soup. We could see that they were skinning guinea pig to cook, which I'm assuming was going to be the next plate. But yeah, we kind of didn't have time for that. At least we could do some service.

I'm pretty grateful for my companion - newbies are the best because lots of times they have way more faith than us old geezers in the mission. We went to visit Pamela, an investigator who'd had a baptismal date a few weeks ago but hadn't gotten to her date because she didn't feel ready. We weren't really sure what to do with her - as we started the lesson I prayed to know what to do and felt we should just open the Book of Mormon and start reading. So yeah, we did...but then she opened to like Alma 46 or something, one of those war chapters that just doesn't talk about anything at all. We read the whole thing and not a drop of inspiration had come. I was starting to get depressed about it but somehow the topic turned to baptism, I don't remember how. And then my companion just...invited her to a baptismal date!

And she said yes!

So yeah, she's pretty much locked in to be baptized for the 25th. It was a really spiritual day, honestly. I'm so glad my companion could exercise his faith and show me up like that.

This week we've also been studying testimony in the 12 weeks program, and studying that I've realized that testimonies truly don't need to be flowery or have really crazy experience. I've always liked a story by Brigham Young where he talks about how he listened to the missionaries for a while but never got converted by listening to the "powerful" testimonies others shared. But when he heard a man without much confidence nor eloquence bear his simple testimony, he felt the Spirit.

I know that the Book of Mormon is true. I know that this is God's true church. I know that Christ is our savior, and I know that He lives. Those are the things that matter most to me.

Til next week!
We have to cross this canyon to get to Imantag, one of the far-away parts of the sector.

 Eating doughnuts in Ibarra today.

Imbabura for the millionth time.

We went to see this lake, called Yahuarcocha, but it was kind of lame.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Power Hour!

As district leader every week I have to think about what I'll be training on in the district meeting that week and also a plan that we can implement as a district to help us with the challenges we have as a district. We've been having a really rough time finding new investigators, so I decided to focus on that, and with the help of our zone leaders, came up with the Power Hour. Basically the idea is that we just dedicate an hour every day specifically to finding new investigators, whether by contacting, looking for future investigators, etc...It went pretty well, and at the very least in OUR sector, we had some great experiences.

One day we went out to the part of our sector that's farthest away from us, in a town called Imantag. We were looking for a person we'd contacted a while back and were asking around to see if anyone knew her. Finally there was a lady who pointed us in the right direction, so we headed out to find the house. Turns out that the lady was her mother in law, and lived right next door, so she ended up walking us the whole way down to this person's house. We found the person we were looking for, but had to arrange for another appointment. Since it was Power Hour, I was thinking, "shoot, we need to find SOMEONE to teach..." And the lady who'd taken us there was still around, so I had the courage to talk to her...and guess what, we could manage to get a lesson! A new investigator!

Last night, we were also looking for a person my companion had contacted a few days ago. Turns out they weren't home, and it was late, so we started back towards the house. We hadn't gone a block when suddenly I saw a certain door with the lights on and had to stop. "Hang on," I said, "this door calls my attention." "Me too," my companion said. So we knocked on the door and a younger guy answered - we talked a bit and got out an appointment for another day. I think it was interesting just because my companion and I both felt that spiritual impression. It's been a while since I've felt something like that.

Unfortunately, our people with a date couldn't come to church. Juan got stuck in Quito with work, and it looks like Anderson's parents might've changed their minds from what they'd said - they'd told us it didn't really matter to them if he joined a non-Catholic church, but people have told us they've changed their minds. That was pretty frustrating, but at the same time, I know we're trying. Some things we really can't control. But we have the goal to have 3 baptisms this month and I know we can do it!

This week was a fun week for food, too. There's a sister missionary who gave us recipes for brownies and banana bread that don't need an oven (because very few houses in the mission have an oven), which has been awesome. I think of the 7 days last week I ate banana bread on 5 of them. While on divisions with my zone leader our lunch appointment fell through, so what did we make in the house to eat? ...Banana bread.

There's also this thing here called Pony Malta. I'm not sure if there's an equivalent in the States. It's a drink they make from oats (I think). It's never been my favorite, but my zone leader showed me that you can whisk eggs and then throw Pony Malta in there, and it turns out really creamy and delicious. So that's my new favorite thing.

This week in the 12 weeks program (the training for new missionaries) we were studying the Book of Mormon, and there was a part from a talk by Elder Holland that I loved. Of course it's better listening to him say it, but you can imagine his delivery:

For 179 years this book has been examined and attacked, denied and deconstructed, targeted and torn apart like perhaps no other book in modern religious history—perhaps like no other book in any religious history. And still it stands. Failed theories about its origins have been born and parroted and have died—from Ethan Smith to Solomon Spaulding to deranged paranoid to cunning genius. None of these frankly pathetic answers for this book has ever withstood examination because there is no other answer than the one Joseph gave as its young unlearned translator. In this I stand with my own great-grandfather, who said simply enough, “No wicked man could write such a book as this; and no good man would write it,unless it were true and he were commanded of God to do so.”10

I testify that one cannot come to full faith in this latter-day work—and thereby find the fullest measure of peace and comfort in these, our times—until he or she embraces the divinity of the Book of Mormon and the Lord Jesus Christ, of whom it testifies. If anyone is foolish enough or misled enough to reject 531 pages of a heretofore unknown text teeming with literary and Semitic complexity without honestly attempting to account for the origin of those pages—especially without accounting for their powerful witness of Jesus Christ and the profound spiritual impact that witness has had on what is now tens of millions of readers—if that is the case, then such a person, elect or otherwise, has been deceived; and if he or she leaves this Church, it must be done by crawling over or under or around the Book of Mormon to make that exit. In that sense the book is what Christ Himself was said to be: “a stone of stumbling, … a rock of offence,”11 a barrier in the path of one who wishes not to believe in this work. Witnesses, even witnesses who were for a time hostile to Joseph, testified to their death that they had seen an angel and had handled the plates. “They have been shown unto us by the power of God, and not of man,” they declared. “Wherefore we know of a surety that the work is true.”12


Anyhow those are my thoughts for this week. Love you all lots!


Doin' service.

Today I tried out rice with shrimp and concha (not sure what that translates to...some kind of shellfish). Darn good.

I got this sweater custom made.