Monday, July 25, 2016

I Can't Think of Titles

Sometimes I don't even want to write this email, or write in my journal, or do much of anything. It's a weird limbo here at the end - I want to be doing everything and nothing at the same time. But don't worry, I'm working hard.

This week we had a focus on finding people with potential. We've found plenty of investigators, but not so many with potential. And this week was hard, like last week, in the sense that we still don't have any of those "golden" investigators to work with, but thanks to the Spirit we could find a bunch more people this week. It really makes you humble and grateful for what you do have when you don't have a ton of success otherwise!

One cool experience was with a future investigator we've been hunting down for a while, now. There's this guy we'd contacted on the street like a month ago or more, and he was like, "Yeah, I've read all the triple combination and I know a bunch about Joseph Smith, we'll have to talk sometime!" And kind of kept going quickly, must have been busy. So we were like, "Ok..." I wasn't sure if we should really look for him again, because sometimes people are crazy, but every once in a while his name would come to mind. So one day I decided to actually plan to find him - he'd given us a kind of vague idea of where he lived (it's not easy to find people's houses here). That day while on divisions we managed to find his house - but he wasn't home. They said we could find him weekends. So the next weekend we passed by, and we didn't find him, but we found his wife, who told us we could find him at night. The next night we passed by and found his wife again, who told us it'd be more likely on Tuesday. Sometimes I don't like going on these wild goose chases, but this time I wanted to see it through. We came back Tuesday, at the time she told us to...and we found her again, but this future investigator wasn't there! She told us she'd expected him to be there, but he must have gotten backed up in his work, and didn't know if he'd come later...but she told us if we waited for the very last bus to pass by, in about half an hour, we might be able to catch him. Ok, so we decided to try that. We started walking down the street to contact people while waiting for the bus to come. And as we contacted a family...there came the bus! We ran all the way back up to the bus stop, but didn't get there in time, we couldn't see if he'd gotten off or not. So we took one last chance to knock on his door....and he had gotten home! And he let us in! And he's actually a pretty cool investigator. The only bad thing is that he's going on a trip and won't be home for another two weeks so we'll have to chase him down again. The point of all this is there were so many moments when we could've given up, but we didn't. The Spirit was egging us on this whole time, and although we didn't know what would happen, we decided to follow it, and miracles happened!

Another miracle was with Mayra, the non-member wife of a member that had been less-active but had been "rescued" before we got to the sector. Although she's always been happy to have us teach and help them out, she hasn't fulfilled practically any of the commitments we've left in the months we've taught her, even though she always comes to church. And I messed up - she's not his wife, because she still doesn't want to get married. But this week we had some trainings with President where we learned about how to teach repentance, and soon after we disovered that she doesn't want to get married because she's afraid her husband will go back to some of the bad things he did before...but we talked about repentance and had a very spiritual lesson. And we invited to her to say the closing prayer, and she gave a really heartfelt prayer where we all felt the Spirit. It just made me so happy. I love these scriptures in Isaiah. In Chapter 1, the Lord strongly rebukes the apostasy among the Israelites, but then says:

16 ¶Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil;

 17 Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.

 18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

I'd like to end with some thoughts from Elder Holland on hope, from a talk he gave that I recently found.

Every one of us has times when we need to know things will get better. Moroni spoke of it in the Book of Mormon as “hope for a better world.” For emotional health and spiritual stamina, everyone needs to be able to look forward to some respite, to something pleasant and renewing and hopeful,whether that blessing be near at hand or still some distance ahead. It isenough just to know we can get there, that however measured or far away, there is the promise of “good things to come.”

My declaration is that this is precisely what the gospel of Jesus Christ offersus, especially in times of need. There is help. There is happiness. There really is light at the end of the tunnel. It is the Light of the World, the Bright and Morning Star, the “light that is endless, that can never be darkened.” It is the very Son of God Himself. In loving praise far beyond Romeo’s reach, we say,“What light through yonder window breaks?” It is the return of hope, and Jesus is the Sun. To any who may be struggling to see that light and find that hope, I say: Hold on. Keep trying. God loves you. Things will improve. Christ comes to you in His “more excellent ministry” with a future of “better promises.” He is your “high priest of good things to come.”

I know the Gospel is true and I know that Christ lives. The mission has taught me a lot about what really matters, and those are some of the things that matter most to me in my life.

Oh and something cool I learned from the gospel fundamentals manual - the word of wisdom specifically names the flesh of beasts and fowl as to be used sparingly...but doesn't mention fish. Fish is way better - and scientifically proven. Too bad it's so expensive. I think I've eaten more fish here in the mission than in my whole life.

 I didn't take hardly any pictures this week. But here's a picture if what I ate for breakfast yesterday. I was pretty proud, mostly because on the left there I made colada morada, one of my favorite drinks ever here. It's super easy, too. Basically just corn starch and raspberries with cut up apples and a few other things.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Oh, Come On!

Last week one of our zone leaders finished his mission. I went on with divisions him several times throughout that last change of his, and while we worked I asked for advice on how to best finish my mission. He talked about how the last transfer is God's last change to polish us up, and He really takes advantage of that.

Well, it's true. This week practically every one of our investigators or less-actives decided to stop progressing - or just altogether disappear. It's been a week full of trials and I'm sure it will continue. We spent the last two days without teaching hardly any lessons, just walking up and down knocking on doors until I was so tired I was almost falling asleep on my feet. It's been good, though, because I've learned something about overcoming trials practically every day:

Tuesday - I was studying about how adversity is necessary in God's plan. I'd forgotten about that little fact. He wants us to progress, so it's entirely necessary for us to pass through hard times!

Wednesday - I must have still been thinking about adversity - and I added hope to that this time. It reminded me of one of my favorite passages in the scriptures, in Romans 8:

 16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:

 17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

 18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

Thursday - I was studying a bit of Elder Renlund's talk from last conference, and I really liked what it said:

The concept—“the greater the distance between the giver and the receiver,the more the receiver develops a sense of entitlement”—also has profound spiritual applications. Our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, are the ultimate Givers. The more we distance ourselves from Them, the more entitled we feel. We begin to think that we deserve grace and are owed blessings. We are more prone to look around, identify inequities, and feel aggrieved—even offended—by the unfairness we perceive. While the unfairness can range from trivial to gut-wrenching, when we are distant from God, even small inequities loom large. We feel that God has an obligation to fix things—and fix them right now!

In other words, I needed to get closer to God and better recognize His hand in all things.

Friday - I've been reading in Mosiah and the other day, I was reminded of the way Alma and his people overcame their trials in chapter 24. They prayed and the Lord said:

 13 And it came to pass that the voice of the Lord came to them in their afflictions, saying: Lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me; and I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage.

Check out how the Lord promised to deliver them according to their faithfulness to their covenants. That helped me understand a bit better baptism and the covenants I made in the temple. I suppose it's worth noting as well that those who had made covenants still had trials like everyone else.

Saturday - Later on in Mosiah 25, I was reminded who it is that actually delivers us:

 16 And he did exhort the people of Limhi and his brethren, all those that had been delivered out of bondage,that they should remember that it was the Lord that did deliver them.

Sunday - It was a rough, long day. All day I was remembering what Elder Holland had told us when he visited us a few months ago. "Don't waste one minute wondering why it's so hard," he said. He reiterated that missionary work isn't easy because salvation isn't easy.

I know YOUR salvation, dear reader, won't be easy either. But please don't give up. You can do it!

Scenery in the sector.

You might get tired but I never get tired of sending pics of me eating stuff. Here I'm with a delicious piece of fish.

                          The kids make kites out of sticks and plastic blags. Pretty impressive.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Meet The Murphys

Our new mission president and his family got to the mission something like a week and a half ago, and this Wednesday we got to know them! His name is President Murphy, and he of course seems like a great person. It must be so hard to be a mission president. I imagine it as one of the church's most demanding callings. Anyhow, President Murphy is from California and served his mission in California in the 80s. They have 6 kids, only one of which will actually stay with the parents here in Ecuador, while the others are either going to be at BYU or are married. Even though I may only have a transfer with him, I'm sure it'll be great!

This week we had a lot of miracles, but there was one that felt...misplaced. While in my sector in Ibarra I'd heard about this less-active that the missionaries had taught there before, David Conforme. Apparently he had tons of potential, but it turns out he lived a few streets over, in what was actually the other missionaries' sector (where I am now). Since I totally felt like that was cheating, while I was in Ibarra I decided not to visit him, especially considering that he lived in the very farthest-away part of the sector.

Then they gave me changes to this sector, and I remembered that he lived here. I never actually got around to visiting him though and forgot about him because we had lots of other people to visit. Until this Wednesday, when I met up with my companion who I'd been with in Ibarra (he's now in Otavalo and we both went to the meeting to meet President). He actually mentioned this same less active to me, saying that he'd gotten to know him after I'd left Ibarra and was going to visit him.

Then last Friday as we were praying, all throughout my prayers in the morning and during studies this less-active's name kept coming to my mind. David Conforme. We ended up going on divisions and I stayed in the sector with our zone leader. As we worked, I mentioned to him this guy's name and that I was maybe going to change our plans a bit to go try to find him because I'd been feeling this prompting. It turns out that my zone leader had been one of the missionaries that had taught this less-active in Ibarra, and still vaguely remembered where his house was! That's when I first decided that this wasn't coincidence.

So we set out to find his house. We ended up finding it, yes, but it turned out that he'd moved, and the people there gave us an idea of where his work was more towards the center of town - they told us he worked in a jeans place. We tried to find it - even calling the assistants to ask for permission to cross over all the way to the other zone - and after a few jeans stores we couldn't find it. I was wondering if we ever would, be suggested we say a prayer. After the prayer we both felt we should try a bit further down the street. We spotted another jean shop and...we found him! Since my companion already knew him we could talk to him no problem and of course he was happy to see us and wanted us to visit him. turns out that he moved just outside our sector. Now he actually does belong to the sector in Ibarra.

It was kind of frustrating, but I can't deny that we were led to find him. I even happened to have the phone number for the missionaries from Ibarra, so I gave it to him. I'm sure he'll be a miracle for them. It's just frustrating that he wasn't a miracle for us. I'm sure we'll have our own, though!

This week we also had a good experience with a part-member family we're teaching. They've been having marital difficulties and haven't had a ton of progress, but we visited them with some members and ended up watching this great church movie from the 80s called "Together Forever." It was great. Once again I was reminded about the importance that families have in God's plan. Well, they're kind of all-important, really. I'm so grateful for my own eternal family and I remembered that...all I really want is for other people to have that, too.

I know that families can be together forever! I can't transmit to you in words what I feel, but I know it's true.

I also had a good experience this week that reminded me of the worth of what I'm doing. It turns out that the Sanchez family, the family I'd found while working in RumiƱahui that later got baptized, found out I was going to be in Otavalo to meet President Murphy, and the mom, Blanca, and one of her sons, John, came to see me! I was super surprised but super grateful. Blanca gave me this nice sweater that I'm wearing right now. I'm just grateful that they remembered me, because of course I remember them! Missionary work does bless people's lives, and I'm grateful that I can be a part of that.
 President Murphy and his wife!

They almost never give us fish here, I was so happy.

Eating ice cream (that's the jacket/sweater Blanca gave me)


Sunday, July 10, 2016

Finding Faith in Christ‏

Here is Jeremiah's letter from earlier this week. We were out of town for vacation this past week and I didn't get it posted earlier.

You might've heard a bit in the news, but Ecuador's been having a really tough time, economically. Things got even worse after the earthquake a few months ago. The government's struggling, and so is everyone. When we visit people, members, non members, everyone talks about how hard things are. I suppose that some sifting always needs to take place - it's been a trial for lots of people, members included. But it's great being a missionary because it means I can teach them how to get out of those rough spots...keeping the commandments! As representatives of Christ we can make people very specific promises if they keep the commandments, which is always great. It's just hard when people...don't keep the commandments! But I know if we keep the Sabbath day holy and pay our tithing, everything will work out. I'm sure I'll be on the other end of the stick someday, too...

This time of year is also a bit rough for missionary work among the natives, because right now it's the "sun festival," or something like that. There are just big parties every week and everyone goes out "dancing" (they just kind of walk around in a big circle and call that dancing). It's tough on church attendance. Just...keep the Sabbath day holy, gosh!

Yesterday was of course fast Sunday. It's never been my favorite here in the mission, but I realized as I studied Saturday morning that more than anything my attitude prevented me from really enjoying fasting. I realized this as I read D&C 59:13-15 :

 13 And on this day thou shalt do none other thing, only let thy food be prepared with singleness of heart that thy fasting‍ may be perfect, or, in other words, that thy joy‍ may be full.

 14 Verily, this is fasting and prayer, or in other words, rejoicing and prayer.

 15 And inasmuch as ye do these things with thanksgiving, with cheerful hearts‍ and countenances, not with much laughter, for this is sin, but with a glad heart and a cheerful countenance—

I hadn’t really paid attention to the words used here. It’s described as something joyful! I realized that I should try my best to let it be something joyful, not something that gets me down and makes me want to sleep in sacrament meeting. I like promises in the next few verses as well:

16 Verily I say, that inasmuch as ye do this, the fulness‍ of the earth is yours, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and that which climbeth upon the trees and walketh upon the earth;

 17 Yea, and the herb, and the good‍ things which come of the earth, whether for food or for raiment, or for houses, or for barns, or for orchards, or for gardens, or for vineyards;
So this last fast Sunday I worked a bit more on my personal conversion. That Saturday, we tried to stop by a recently-rescued member and his non-member wife who were having some problems. We had planned to see the church movie "Finding Faith in Christ" with them, which has become one of my favorites out in the field. I think it's really heartfelt (even though it of course suffers from slightly-unreal acting inherent in any church movie) and I love the way it talks about finding faith when we have lots of doubts. I love the Spirit I feel as it portrays the Savior and what He did for us. It helped me renew my testimony of Him, which is one of the most precious things I have obtained in this life. Yesterday I was also reading in Mosiah 3 and I love what King Benjamin says about Christ:
 For behold, the time cometh, and is not far distant, that with power, the Lord Omnipotent‍ who reignethwho was, and is from all eternity‍ to all eternity, shall come down from heaven among the children of men, and shall dwell in a tabernacle‍ of clay, and shall go forth amongst men, working mighty miraclessuch as healing the sick, raising the dead, causing the lame to walk, the blind‍ to receive their sight, and the deaf to hear, and curing all manner of diseases.
 And he shall cast out devilsor the evil spirits‍ which dwell in the hearts of the children of men.
 And lo, he shall suffer temptationsand pain of body, hungerthirst, and fatigue, even more than man can sufferexcept it be unto death; for behold, blood‍ cometh from every pore, so great shall be his anguish‍ for the wickedness and the abominations of his people.
 And he shall be called Jesus Christthe Son of Godthe Father‍ of heaven and earth, the Creator‍ of all things from the beginning; and his mother‍ shall be called Mary.
 And lo, he cometh unto his own, that salvation‍ might come unto the children of men even through faith‍ on his name; and even after all this they shall consider him man, and say that he hath deviland shall scourge‍ him, and shall crucify‍ him.
 10 And he shall rise‍ the third‍ day from the dead; and behold, he standeth to judge‍ the world; and behold, all these things are done that righteous judgment might come upon the children of men
17 And moreover, say unto you, that there shall be no‍ other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation‍ can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord‍ Omnipotent.
When I read about Christ I feel the way King Benjamin's people did after he explained all this:
 And now, it came to pass that when king Benjamin had made an end of speaking the words which had been delivered unto him by the angel‍ of the Lord, that he cast his eyes round about on the multitude, and behold they had fallen‍ to the earth, for the fear‍ of the Lord had come upon them.
 And they had viewed‍ themselves in their own carnal‍ state, even less‍ than the dust of the earth. And they all cried aloud with one voice, saying: have mercy, andapply the atoning‍ blood of Christ that we may receive forgiveness of our sins, and our hearts may be purifiedfor we believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who created‍ heaven and earth, and all things; who shall come down among the children of men.
 And it came to pass that after they had spoken these words the Spirit of the Lord came upon them, and they were filled with joy, having received remission‍ of their sins, and having peace of consciencebecause of the exceeding faith‍ which they had in Jesus Christ who should come, according to the words‍ which king Benjamin had spoken unto them.
More than anything I'm grateful for a knowledge of my Savior. If nothing else, I can share my testimony and I hope you can achieve your own.
I know that He lives and that He really is our Savior.

As a side note I also found this great scripture this week in D&C 78:19.
 19 And he who receiveth all things with thankfulness‍ shall be made glorious; and the things of this earth shall be added unto him, even an hundred foldyea, more.
Always remember to be grateful! And you'll get more. :) Love you all lots!
There are always chickens running around here.

Doing some service.

We ate shrimp today. Delicious.

Sunday, July 3, 2016


This is Jeremiah's letter from last week. I was at Girls Camp all week and was unable to send it. Thanks for all your support and prayers for Elder Scanlan!

This week was pretty great and pretty hard. Just like practically every other week.

We started out desperately searching for new people to teach. We hadn't found hardly any new people in the last few weeks, so we were trying our best to see what we could do to find new people. We started out trying to really pray harder for it, in the first place. We took as a model Alma in Alma 31:

 34 O Lord, wilt thou grant unto us that we may havesuccess in bringing them again unto thee in Christ.

 35 Behold, O Lord, their souls are precious, and many of them are our brethren; therefore, give unto us, O Lord,power and wisdom that we may bring these, our brethren,again unto thee.

And we had some miracles! First of all, our primary president had "forwarded" a referral to us that she had received from somebody else - who, we weren't sure, but hey , it was a referral. After a few tries we managed to find them and teach them, and they turned out to be super receptive! We were ending the lesson when I suddenly remembered the circumstances and asked, "Hey, did you guys talk with a member of our church or something to have us come?" And they were like, "Well, there was this one lady talked about the missionaries, but I don't remember her name...she's from Chaltura, she sells honey..." And I knew INSTANTLY who it was. Laura Picuasi! She's this member I met who attends the branch I worked in while I was in Ibarra, and she was the same member who gave us the referral of the Pillajos, who we'd baptized in Ibarra! Wow! I was so happy. We need more members like that! I think Sister Picuasi's door-to-door honey business is really a scheme to share the Gospel sometimes. :)

Another fun experience we had: We were teaching some investigators and watching the 20 minute version of the Restoration movie...but it kept freezing up! I was kind of frustrated, and it decided to freeze up RIGHT before the first I said a prayer, but tried to be sincere, rather than just emitting an SOS like we sometimes do. I said, "If it's thy will, I know we can watch this movie." And it worked! I'm just glad it was the Lord's will and that he reminded me he can answer my prayers. :)

We also had...Pamela's baptism!! It went great. When she shared her feelings after the baptism she was very grateful, and we could feel the Spirit. I'm very grateful for the the chance to teach her. Now comes the potentially harder part...the retention! We've only won half the battle.

Apart from that, yesterday was pretty depressing, because apart from Pamela, who came for her confirmation, NOBODY came to church! I was really frustrated during a large part of the afternoon, and just really discouraged. Eventually I got over it, but it was pretty tough! Discouragement is tough! But here's something I love from Elder Holland's recent conference talk:

Only the adversary, the enemy of us all, would try toconvince us that the ideals [of the gospel] are depressing and unrealistic, that people don’t really improve, that no one really progresses. And why does Lucifer give that speech? Because he knows he can’t improve, he can’t progress, that worlds without end he will never have a bright tomorrow. He is a miserable man bound by eternal limitations, and he wants you to be miserable too. Well, don’t fall for that. With the gift of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the strength of heaven to help us, we can improve, and the great thing about the gospel is we get credit for trying, even if we don’t always succeed.

...If we give our heart to God, if welove the Lord Jesus Christ, if we do the best we can to live the gospel, then tomorrow—and every other day—is ultimately going to bemagnificent,...

I love that! I hope you can realize it, too. Love you all tons!

I finally got to try "caldo de 31," a soup made from cow intestines. I'd heard horrible things about this, but it wasn't really that bad...of course it was a lot better after squeezing like half a lime into it...

We did service for the patriarch, who attends our ward.

We were just working a bit in his field. I think they're peas.