Monday, August 27, 2012

Quito, Ecuador Week 2

Another letter from Josh! He's still adjusting, but he has such a wonderful attitude. Enjoy!

Hey fam!

How are you all?


Elder Holland's talk was awesome. He spoke about why we have Preach My Gospel, and how we can never use the Book of Mormon too much in our teachings. He told a story of a missionary in the Czech Republic and how he was able to adapt a lesson to fit the need of a sister in the 1930's, and that sister and two others kept the Church alive in the Czech Republic for almost 60 through all the communist stuff and war. Very cool. He said President Hinckley told the story, then said our problem is that our missionaries don't know the Gospel, they need to be converted first, then they'll be able to teach others. So, he said, Preach My Gospel is written to convert the missionaries. Once the missionaries are converted, it's up to them to figure out how to teach everyone else. No memorization, no recitation, strictly lessons from the heart. It was a cool experience. I have notes, maybe I'll take a picture of them and send them to you next week. He spoke for about an hour and a half. He spent most of the time talking about the Book of Mormon. We went through the first 8 chapters of Nephi, roughly 20 pages, and he demonstrated how in just a few verses, anyone can know what we believe about prophets, revelation, and the unique things that only our Church has. When I shook his hand, he said, "Hey Elder, how are you today?" and gave me a pat on the shoulder after I responded. He has eyes like some kind of mist, and he looks really old. But he's awesome. He really is an Apostle of the Lord, and I am so grateful to have heard from him. His talk really got people motivated to work harder, especially me.

We have a few new families that are preparing to be baptized, which is great, but we had a ton of appointments fall through this week. It was a tough week for me. But I'll keep walking, keep working, and will be as happy as I can be... But our lessons are good, simply we didn't have a lot of them. Please pray for some help for us. I want to teach so badly, and this week we barely even got to.

Questions you guys had. My daily routine. Wake up, exercise, shower, eat cereal, read a General Conference talk, Personal Study, Companion study, Language Study, leave the apartment at 12ish, go to a mamita for lunch until about 130, then work all day, walking up hills and hills and hills, after sunset I put on a sweater, then we get home at 9. When the sun isn't out, it's cold, so I always carry a sweater. I have to new ones, hand made just for me, costing 24 dollars. Pretty good deal.


We walk almost everywhere, sometimes we take a bus. The bus system here is really good, I'm sure Steve can tell you all about it. I have no microwave oven, no toaster, no oven, just a gas stove. I don't cook too much. I have a few snacks and cereal and yogurt, and I buy bread pretty often from a store nearby. I now know where to get the stamps I need, hopefully Thursday I can send a letter off and it'll get there in two weeks. I have only recieved a few dear elder letters so far, but that's because no one went to the office last week. Since we're in Quito, on P day someone needs to go to the office to get mail and other materials we need. This week wasn't our turn, but if anything came it'll be in my hands on Thursday. Keep sending stuff, almost everything will take two weeks. I'll print off all of your emails from today so that I can read them throughout the week, I'm glad that I can do that now. 

We had a special stake conference with Elder Maynes, who came with Elder Holland, and he talked about how we can all help build up Zion. He spoke of a stake in Africa that exports funds to help others, when they really don't live all that well. They know how important it is to help other people out, and they did all they could to be charitable. There is always something that everyone can do to help build the kingdom, no matter how rich or poor. This is something we should always remember. We need to do all that we can to help others out at all times, and realize that that is a responsibility that everyone has.

Spanish is coming along well, every day gets better and better. Some people are just tough to hear and to understand, but that too gets better every day. Mom and Dad, you guys better get practicing, before you know it you'll be here! I'm gonna do a voice recording this week too for you guys, and send a letter if I can. I love you guys so much, and pray for you all the time. I'm working as hard as I can, and being as happy as I can. 



Elder Thomas

PS birthday stuff, snickers, cereal, anything practical that I could use, things that I like. Anything you send will be awesome. Also, I dropped 8 bucks on peanut butter. Worth it. Love you!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Week One in Ecuador

Josh has been in Ecuador for almost a week now! His first few days in Ecuador have been challenging for him, but he has such a great attitude about it, as you'll notice in this letter. Also, Josh will be emailing us every Monday (for now), so that's when you can expect a new post each week.

Hey all,

I'm in Quito, Chillogallo Stake, GuamanĂ­ ward. When it is sunny, it's pleasantly cool, when it's cloudy, it's super super super super super cold. At night I put on tons of clothes. Wowee, I need to buy more sweaters. I guess there's a guy in the ward who makes good sueters, so I guess I can get some from him. Now, to tell the tale of my first week.

Wednesday morning, we arise, all freezing cold, and go to a big chapel in the main part of the chapel. We learned all the rules and such together, then met our trainers. His name is Elder Richimondg, no idea how that spelling happened, and he's from Guayaquil. We eat some lunch together, then take a bus to our area after saying goodbye to all the guys who came with me. We arrive in our apartment, and it is RANK. I don't think it had been cleaned for weeks, maybe months. There was garbage (is that how you spell it?) everywhere, and the dishes and fridge and everything were filthy. We're getting tons of cleaning stuff today to work on it.

I was gonna tell this like a story, but I don't really want to anymore haha. Anyways, the first couple days, actually still every day, I've felt totally lost. Our area is gigantic, and I have no idea where we are when we walk. I'm able to communicate more or less, but I'll always have more spanish to learn. I guess Elder Richimondg's last companion wasn't very obedient, and that that is a problem in the whole mission. President Ghent had all the new guys promise that we'd teach all of our companions to be obedient and follow all the rules. President Ghent and his wife are awesome. Super awesome. They're happy and inviting, and I'm excited to get to know them better and better.

We haven't had too much success yet, we don't really have anyone to teach. I guess two months ago, the zone lead the mission in baptisms, and this month their numbers plummeted. So we're working hard to find people to teach, but so far with little success. We have a few appointments with new people in the next couple of weeks, and hopefully those lead to good things. There's one family in particular that we ran into that we're going to visit tomorrow morning that I really think is going to accept the Gospel. After talking to the mother for a little bit, I really felt that she and her family needed the Gospel. TodavĂ­a I don't know if that was hunger or the Spirit, but I'll find out tomorrow I suppose.

Our ward seems great. There aren't tons of members, but the members that attend Church are strong and faithful. I'm excited to get to know them all... One thing that's gotten me some street cred with the members though is my blue eyes. It's like I have wings or something. Almost everyone has commented on my eyes when they meet me. The mamitas in the ward are awesome, and the food is great, but I need to buy more food at the store today to eat. The food is great, but for me the servings are puny. I finish my food in like 3 minutes, and just sit there thinking about more food. The food is great, just not enough for me. The avacados are unbelievable here, and I plan on eating as many as I can every day. The bread is great too, I can just pop into a shop and get fresh bread for like 5 centavos. It's difficult, but fun to adjust to this new culture. I still feel super out of place, but with time I'll feel better.

I saw the volcanoes yesterday for the first time, and they are beautiful. Until yesterday, it has been cloudly. Yesterday was perfectly clear, and I could see 4 volcanoes, the coolest one is Cotopaxi, and I guess if we're good as a zone we'll be able to go there one P-day. Today P-day ends at one... we are doing that so that everyone in the mission can come listen to Elder Holland, even the people who live 8 hours away. I'm super excited to hear him speak. It'll be tough, but awesome.

I need to start bringing my journal when I write these letters so I can remeber everything that I've done this week, and give the letters more flow, like a poet. I studied patience and revelation this week for personal study. I need to have patience with myself as I adjust to this new life. Nothing could have prepared me for this. This has been the hardest week of my life I think. But it's worth it. I'll be more patient with myself as I learn how to teach, talk, and learn in a new culture. I've been blessed to be able to understand pretty much everything said. What I need to work on is opening my mouth and talking. Part of recieving revelation is doing stuff, and if I want to know what I need to say to investigators, I need to say stuff. Revelation is key to everything in life--to know what we need to do to grow closer to God. I love study time, and know that it'll help me to have a stronger testimony in the Church and to be able to better help people learn about the Gospel.


I should probably get going, we have a lot to do... I love you all and wish you luck and happiness in the coming week. Next week's letter will be a work of art, I promise.


Con amor,

Elder Thomas

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Josh is really in Ecuador now!

   Elder Thomas flew to Ecuador today--he even called!! It was so nice to talk to him.

   He is really happy, healthy and excited to be in Ecuador. Josh told us that Elder Holland (a member of the 12 apostles for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) is going to be in Ecuador in a few days. Josh will be able to hear Elder Holland speak! How awesome is that?!

   Also, Josh told us that in his last email, he had attached a large audio file for us to listen to, and we suspect that it was too big of a file to there's the explanation for our lack of an email last week.

  Anyways, Josh sent a quick email once he got into it is!

Hey all,
I made it and I´m safe! It´s beautiful here, so much more color and life than in Peru. The mission president and his wife are awesome, and we´re having fun just hanging around their apartment right now, having interviews and eating. Tomorrow we find out companions, and we go to our new areas. Mondays are p days, I only have 5 minutes right now to write, so I´ll send pictures and write more on Monday. I love you guys, and I´m happy and safe! President Holland comes in 11 days and the whole mission is coming to see him. I gotta get off, hopefully the last email worked now, and I´ll write more on Monday! Love you guys tons, and sorry I couldn´t talk long this morning, I did what I could. Love you!
Con amor,
Elder Thomas

Thursday, August 9, 2012


   Bad news guys--we didn't get an email from Josh yesterday, but we did get a picture from him that I'll post. We're not exactly sure what happened--either he ran out of time, thought he sent it but didn't, the power went out, he had to go save the world, or something else we didn't think of.

Josh and his companion (who's nickname is Goliath)

   Also, just an FYI, Josh will be going to Ecuador next week! I'll put his new address up when we get it.

   Sorry for the letter-less post--hopefully it won't happen again!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Josh in Peru MTC

Another email from Elder Thomas--he's been gone for 7 weeks now! Enjoy!

Hey all,
How are you all doing? Everything here is great, but I´m getting super anxious to leave. When I first got here, it was like going to Hogwarts, but now it´s more like not Hogwarts. I know I still have tons I need to learn, but I´m at the point where I feel like I could learn more in the field than I can learn here. I´m doing my best to have fun here, though, trying to have fun with everything. The Latino district is super fun, and super helpful. I can understand pretty well now when they speak full speed, and I´m able to talk faster and faster every day. The thing it´s really helping with is vocabulary. Seriously, it´s awesome, I pick up dozens of words a day. It´s nice too because Elder Stanley and I are able to help out The Latinos a lot since we´ve had six weeks to learn what they have to cover in three. Everyone is fun in the district and they are all great. There are four hermanas in the district, too, and they are all really short. Elder Stanley can be on his knees and still be taller than them. Really, really fun.

I had no idea the Olympics even started already, but today when we were at the store we "accidentally" caught a glimpse of a tennis match. From your emails, it sounds like everything is going well and they´re pretty fun to watch. How dare Kobe and LeBron make such claims, blasphemers. I hope you´re enjoying being able to watch them though, it´s so much fun to see so many good athletes compete. It was nice to finally get out of the CCM today, we didn´t get to go out on Saturday since there was a new batch of missionaries here. This Saturday it´ll be just Elder Stanley and I, maybe with a member, walking the streets and teaching. If I die, don´t be sad. Just kidding, worst case scenario is I get stabbed and hospitalized. NO worries! Going along with that, Mom, you´ve been reminding me to wear sunscreen, and I´ve come up with a good system to not need any! I call it "controlled sunburn" where I give myself a small sunburn and then wait a couple days. When the skin tans, I repeat the process. It´s working great, and I have maybe three sketchy looking moles, so nothing to worry about!
 I love your letters, keep sending them. Especially now that I don´t get them too often in Peru, it´s super exciting to get one and be able to read it. Thanks too for all of your emails, but I really don´t have enough time right now in the CCM or the stamps to respond individually. I read them all though, and thank you so much for your words of encouragement.

I miss my Captain Crunch. We´re having a peanut butter party today, but it´s just not the same without the Captain there. One day I´ll be able to enjoy the peanut enriched crunch that I´ve come to grow and love. I miss lots of other things too, like Sun Chips, but the food is good enough here to keep me satisfied. Have you ever had horse? Cause I sure have! How about guinnea pig? Guilty! Last Saturday was a national holiday here and they had a big fancy lunch with traditional Peruvian food, and it was actually really good. Horse is super, super tough meat though. You know that you´re growing to have a unique food palette when someone tells you you´re eating a horse and your consumption rate doesn´t falter for a second. I didn´t even know I had guinnea pig until after lunch, so I think it tastes like chicken, because that´s what I thought I was eating.

Nothing too out of the ordinary happened this week in the CCM. Like I said, I´m pretty bored some days in here and am super ready to get to Ecuador. It´ll come faster than I know it though, and then it´ll be full speed ahead. I´ve had some really great study sessions this week though. I´ve been reading through the Book of Mormon in Spanish, and I really love it. It´s almost like reading it for the first time since it´s in a new language. I read Mosiah 3 and 4 today, and those chapters are so good. I love reading them because it reminds me how we will always be in debt to God for the things He´s done for us. It´s also so important for us to help others out, and I´m excited that I can do that for the next two years. I love reading the scriptures. I wish I had enough time to write about the things I studied this week, but it would take up too much of the time I have (9 minutes now). In the field I´ll start writing more about that stuff. I really love it when you guys include things you´ve studied in your emails and letters--it´s really fun to read what you guys have learned and how you guys have grown. Keep it up!

Con amor,
Elder Thomas