Monday, October 29, 2012

Hola! For anyone interested, Josh's email this week was titled with a quote from The's from Dwight, of course: " My father's name was Dwight Schrute. His father's name was Dwight Schrute. His father's name? Dwide Schrude. Amish." There are some pictures again, and I'll try my best to get them on here, but I make no guarantees! Enjoy!

Hey all,

Not a lot of time to write today because we have stuff to do still, so here I go...

I have a list of things to write, and I'm gonna try to do it in 10 mintues.

Dad, wasn't it cool that you're uncle had an article in the Liahona? Very good article, I enjoyed it.

People came to church! We had six investigators come this week!

I finished Captain Crunch this morning, went to the offices, package waiting for me. The one with the Plan of Salvation thing. Very awesome, muchas gracias...

Changes next week, I'll probably stay here and Elder Richimondg will most likely leave. He has six months here, and I only have three, so it's most likely that he'll be leaving and not me, but we'll see. Next monday I'll know who my new companion is!

I had like 8 Batman dreams this week.

I finished the Book of Mormon in Spanish this week. That was a really cool experience for me and I learned a lot, plus with all my markings now I feel well armed with scriptures. I'm trying to finish the New Testament in Spanish antes de Christmas.

I've been 20 for a month! Veteran...

Steve-o, got you're letter about your last three weeks. Awesome, much needed advice, and a very good example of working boldly. I think about your letter every time I do a contact now. Crepes and Waffles is close to the mission office, but today I don't think we'll have time to go. One day, I will have crepes, and I will have waffles, and they will be eaten under one roof.

I had a cool experience this week. There was this really nice guard who worked at a pharmacy right by our house. He always smiled and waved at him, and one day we wanted to go talk to him and get to know him, but he was nowhere to be found. He changed jobs, it turns out. Anyways, we saw him walking around near our house one day, and figured he must live nearby. I've prayed for two weeks to find him, and this week it happened. He is really excited to learn from us, and we have a cita with him this Wednesday, we hope. I'll keep you posted. His name is Cristobal, which is awesome.

I can't wait for Christmas, the stores have stuff in them now for Christmas...

While my Spanish is nowhere near perfect, I feel pretty comfortable talking with anyone now. I need to work on opening my mouth more. In English, we don't really need to, in Spanish, we do. So that's what I'm working on mejoraring right now with Spanish...

Steve-o, any news on your trip to Quito yet?...Thanks to everyone who has sent me letters. Someone else from our zone got to the offices before us, so I don't have letters today, I'll get them Thursday, but I do have the package. Captain Crunch was with me way up high in the Basillica.

I was told I'd have 30 minutes to write, and right now I'm at 30, but no one is stopping me, so I'll keep going.

People who are married, be really good and really faithful to your wife/husband, and don't do dumb things. I've seen a lot of couple recently going through really tough times. One family wasn't married, the Dad said he wanted to, then ran away the next day and left his family. Just crushed the family, they're still really sad, but they came to church Sunday and that helped them a lot. Another husband was inactive for awhile, and it sounds like he was very unfaithful to his wife and broke about every commandment you can. He said he wanted to change time and time again, and now his desires to change are sincere, but the wife just can't believe him anymore. He is doing all the right things to get back on the path, and it's so sad to see his wife not believing in him. So be good to your spouse, and never get drunk. Dads here get drunk, beat their kids or wife, and it causes so many troubles. If you've found someone you love, love them! It's that simple, and with my years of marriage experience, you all should listen to me. Mom and Dad, you're great examples of really loving your spouse... So love your spouse, do something every day to make sure they know you love them, and that you'll never do anything to hurt them. That would solve so many problems here...

What I've found out here is that there are three things that can always brighten your spirits: music, scriptures, and general conference talks. I try to do/read/listen to these things every day, and it makes such a difference. If I can start the day with really peaceful, spiritual experience, I find myself smiling more, being happier as I walk and talk. If you could listen to one song, read one scripture, and read one general conference talk every day, and then think about it thorughout the day, everyone in the whole world would be happier, without any day. Another good thing is to just go out and serve. Help an old woman carry a sack of weird corn, walk a drunk man home as he's vomiting. Smile at an old man when you have no idea what he's saying. Eat food when there is literally no space for it. Things like that make all the difference. It's so true that little things can make a big difference. Also, if you watch Batman daily, that probably wouldn't hurt.

People have started feeding us more now that it's cold outside, so I'm doing harder exercises in the morning to counteract their attacks. Fruit is getting really good. I bought 55 mandarinas and 25 oranges for $2.50, and in a month, vienen los mangos. Boo-yah! There are two drinks here I really like, colada morada, and máchica, and I really want to drink it every day.

Time to go, love you all tons! Write to me and pray for me! Thanks for all you do, and always be willing to help the missionaries.

Con amor,

Elder Thomas

Monday, October 22, 2012

Another email from the J-man! Unfortunately, there was not a witty email title this week, but never fear, because Josh happened to insert a part of Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas Is You" in his email..I think that makes up for it :) Also, I still can't get the picture files to copy over..I'll keep working on it..Enjoy!

Hey all,
We went to Old Quito today, and did a tour of one church, San Francisco. 800 years old, really cool. Could only take pictures in the courtyard, but that's okay. Really cool. I have a few more pictures but the internet is slow where we are (in nice Quito right now)...

First off, some things that I haven't remembered to write for a couple of weeks. Writing a week's worth of stuff in an hour is hard. The birthday card I got with the Avengers is easily the coolest thing I've ever seen... Excellent, now to the week...

I had splits with Elder Pande this week, and we created a mega cereal. I still have (had, well still have some) a box of Captain Crunch, and he found a chocolate cereal with strawberry something in the middle. We mixed the two, and magic happened. This chocolate, peanut butter, strawberry goodness, couple with hot apple cider, for the perfect cereal based breakfast I have had in Ecuador so far. Of the food from the first three packages, I have some apple cider, hot chocolate, and a bit of the Captian left. Someone went to the offices today with money, so if there is a package I'll have it Thursday.

I got letters this week from home, including a from the Cheneys, Fillmores, and Bawdens. Cheneys, thanks so much for the music, this next p-day an Elder is bringing his electric piano and we're going to try them out. Really awesome, and I promise that I write in my journal every day. Brother Fillmore, you're awesome, and I really loved that quote by C.S. Lewis, although I think that it was really a quote from you and you just didn't want to bring fame to your name, understandable. Bawdens, you guys look great with cousin Paul, I hope you enjoyed the open house, and thanks so much for the pictures...

  I couldn't stand the cold in the house at night and in the morning, so I bought an electric heater for like 20 bucks. Worth it, and now at night I sit in front of it when I write in my journal and study, it's like a little campfire. So thanks for unintentionally giving me the money to buy me the heater, I really appreciated the charity...

Dad, I got a letter this week with Spanish sayings from you, and the Latinos loved reading them and teaching them to me, I'm trying to use more whenever I can.

Christmas stuff, Mom, you asked what I want in a letter you sent. I don't want a lot for Christmas. There is just one thing I need. I don't care about the presents underneath the Christmas tree. I just want you for my own, more than you could ever know. Make my wish come all I want for Christmas is you. Also, some warm flannel pajamas, food, a nice new journal (mine is running out, should last till Christmas), those circle pretzel chocolate things, whatever else you guys think may be helpful... Whatever you send, I'll be happy with. The best gift will be that we get to skype.

Eliza and Jack are so big and so cute, I can't wait to play with them. Time is running short, so I better start finishing up. We had a baptism this week, and she's so excited to be a part of the church, it's great to see her conversion. I had an interview with President Ghent this week, which was really great. He's an awesome guy... I love you all tons. Also, primary program was yesterday, classic, even better in Spanish, especially the random note singing for each song. Universally classic. Love you tons!

Con amor y hambre,

Elder Thomas

Monday, October 15, 2012

Josh, the Mountaineer

Happy Monday! So Josh climbed a awesome is that?! He sent some pictures too, but I for some reason I can't get them to load right now--I'll try again later. If you're curious, Josh titled this email : "'If we don't live together, we're gonna die alone.' My journey as represented by LOST. By Elder Thomas. With Dwight Schrute.' That is a combination of stuff from the show Lost and The Office, and he continues with a little something from The Office in his first paragraph, so if you have no idea what he's talking about there, that's why. Enjoy!

Mis queridos hermanos,

Do I seem to write with the intelligence of someone who recently climbed a mountain? If so, it would be because I did. My name is Elder Thomas, and for the next 40 minutes I'll be guiding you through the lives of Bob and Phyllis Vance. In Webster's dictionary, wedding is described as the fusing of two metals with a hot torch. We have two metals here, gold medals. Clap, clap, clap.

I hope all is well this week. This week has been very tough, but I am really happy today. I finally got to do something fun that we've wanted to do since my first week here, and I have time to write you guys. I printed off you letters this morning and read some of them about three feet from the sun. It took us 3 hours to climb and come back. Really cool. When we got up top, the clouds of the day were just moving in, and we were literally standing in clouds. Sad to say, it's not like in Peter Pan. They are not trampolines, but cold and wet. It felt so cool to be so high and see everything. Quito is so sprawled out, it's cool to see. They hike up was just like an episode of LOST. I felt so cool. It was like a jungle hike up, pretty tough. Then we got up high and saw that there was a very easy path we could have follow, but where is the fun in that? Call me Doctor Shephard yo.

One thing I've forgotten to write for a few weeks is thank you for taking care of Dash. I really appreciate it, and he does too. I miss the little buggers. Here all the dogs are either dead, sick, dying, smelly, deformed, stinky, or just plain mean. One day here, and you'll think Dash's barking is nothing. I hope he's doing well as it's getting colder.

Also I think my cholesterol is dangerous high. You wouldn't believe how salty the food is here. Dear me. Some of the rice I eat is more salt than rice, and my heart groans. I usually start eating very quickly because if the host eats before me, they'll say, "Oh, it needs more salt!" and it's just game over. If I eat first, they lose all power. Muahaha. Sorry, Dad, if your son comes home with heart problems, or if he just calcifies and never comes home. Also, I faced a new challenge this week: eating with a PLASTIC spoon. Eating chicken with a spoon was hard, put in the plastic factor, and you've got yourself a half hour fight with chicken. I definitely have leveled up in spoon eatery.

No baptisms this week. We've been having lots of troubles getting people to show up to church. It kills me when they don't show up, just kills me. But we're working hard and doing what we can to make everyone feel invited and welcome in the church. Another big problem is marriage. Lots of people aren't married, and a big reason is because they have kids from other partners, and this makes the papers really hard to fill out. We're doing what we can to help our families in this situation. Elder Richimondg is a big help because he's from Ecuador and knows the laws pretty well. When he leaves, I'm not sure what I'll be able to do. One thing you guys should do is offer to teach an investigator with the missionaries, and offer to pick them up for church. If members here did that, I would be in heaven. 

I had a list of things to write, but we came here right from the mountain, so I can't remember everything. I was reading in Joshua this week. He's awesome, probably why he's named after me. After they took down Jericho like none other, they went on to take Ai (I think that's the name.). When they went, they got scared and ran away from the fight, and the whole land made fun of Israel and no longer thought them to be a threat. Joshua prayed to the Lord, and straight up complained. He said, más o menos, " We're supposed to be awesome and we're not. What's the deal, God?" and I love the Lord's response. He basically says, "Why on earth are you on the ground complaining?! Get up! You've got a bunch of sinners among you. How can I help you if you're sinning. Get up, get working, and stop your whining!" I thought a lot about this, because that's how I feel a little bit. I'm thinking, "I'm working so hard and should have success, why am I not succeeding?" and I think God's response works here for me. "Stop whining Elder Thomas, help people repent of their sins and mistakes, and then I can come in and do the rest. Get up, get working!" I'm gonna try to remember this as I work throughout the week.

How are the babies doing? Calculus yet? Hopefully soon, if not now. Erica, I think you asked me about plants here, and yes, they are different. I would give the scientific name of each one, but I think there are maybe 4 people in the world who can do that, and I doubt any of them have social lives. They're pretty though, and there are a ton of new, really tasty fruits here.

Winnie the Pooh is pretty cool. There are a lot of Winnie the Pooh things here, and it's made me remember how cool Winnie the Pooh is.

The rain is getting rainer. Right now it's raining hard. I love it, but when we have to walk in the rain for awhile it kind of stinks. Usually in the mornings hace sol, and by 3ish in the afternoon it's raining. Last week we didn't have much. Elder Richimondg says that the rain we have now is nothing and that it'll get harder and colder in the next month or so, right when he'll be leaving. December=mangoes, and I can't wait for that. I wish I could see the seasons changing in the states, here everything is getting greener right now, which is still really pretty, but I miss seeing the leaves change. The mountains are getting greener every day, which is cool to see. It smells bad here, there is a lot of poo in the streets, especially of the good old cow. People just walk their cows around until they can find grass. Our hike today was saturated with it, not good smelling for the nose.

I should probably start wrapping it up, or rapping it up, whichever you prefer. One thing that's been weird with Spanish/English is that I'm at the point where my brain automatically uses some Spanish words instead of the English word, especially with Gospel stuff. I cannot pray in English, I straight up cannot anymore, not in my head, not out loud. When I try to, I stumble and forget words. It's really cool and really weird at the same time. I love seeing my progress through things like that.

Con amor,

Elder Thomas

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

It's winter time in Ecuador!

Sorry that this is a little late! It is officially winter in Ecuador now, and Josh talks about it a little in his latest letter. He's been sending a couple of voice recordings to us, and I'm going to try and load them soon. Also, just in case you're interested, Josh titled this email "I killed a werewolf once, but by the time I got back to it, it had turned back into my neighbor's dog." That quote is from The Office, from Dwight, who is pretty quirky. Anyways, enjoy!

Hey all,

First off, today I got letters from a bunch of friends, including Karl and Matt. That was an awesome surprise! It was so good to hear from you guys! Karl and Matt, congrats on your mission calls. You guys are going to be awesome, awesome missionaries. Be sure to give me or my family your mailing stuff so that we can keep in touch. I love you guys, and was so, so, so happy to hear from you. Karl, you made my week when you told me you're still using my family's Hulu Plus account, classic Karl. And the Ukraine? Awesome. Matt, I'm sorry you're so bored at home, but you'll be super super busy in like a month, so no worries. Have fun in New Zealand, and hunt some Orc for me. You two better write me a few more times before you report.

Christmas things are everywhere here. I think all the extra stuff that doesn't get sold at Christmastime comes here, and everyone buys it not knowing what it is. It's really funny, almost everyone uses at least one Christmas dish during meals with Santa and everything, and I'm 90% sure they have no idea who he is. I'm really excited for Christmas, it feels like it's like two weeks away instead of two months. Whatever you're doing for music, be sure to pump it up with Christmastime fun. It's gonna be weird not being at home with you guys, not watching Elf or the Grinch, but it'll still be awesome.

General Conference was indeed awesome. I can't believe about the new ages for missionaries. Immediately after the announcement, Elder Pande drew up a diagram of potential wifes when we get back since a lot more will probably serve missions now. He decided that we'll need to start attending high school proms to find our wifes before they leave on missions. It was really funny, and I think every missionary is thinking in the same way. Saturday we could only listen in Spanish, but Sunday we had it in English. I understood it all fine, but hearing the talks in English was a lot more meaningful for me. All the talks were awesome. I'd talk about my favorites, but it would take forever to write about them. I just loved them all, and it got me really excited to get working again.
Breakfast is good, I have a champion's breaksfast most days now. Cereal, oatmeal with yogurt, granola, and dried fruit, Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwhich, hot chocolate. Boom baby. I never really was a huge breakfast person, but now that I do exercise in the morning, I get hungry earlier. It's wonderful. I can't wait to come home to an American breakfast. Pancakes, sausage that won't kill me, eggs, hashbrowns, oooooh man. The food you sent is holding strong, I'm being so good with it. I haven't even opened up the box of Captain Crunch, the big one. The little one is gone, as are a lot of other things. Sun Chips, once opened lasted two days. Captain Crunch, once opened lasted 5 bowls. I have self control until the food is acutally opened, then it's game over. I also really like popcorn. I bought oil and kernels, and just pop some whenever I want a snack on the stove since we don't have a microwave.

I'm working a lot on improving my lessons and how I teach them. To me, I feel like no investigator is going to learn without something to look at while we teach to help explain things, especially the Plan of Salvation, so I'm making really bad drawings to try to help people have a visual while we teach. I think they don't look too bad, but compared to my artistic family and friends, they look like a 3 year old drew them. But if they help, they're worth it.

One thing I want to bring up is something President Eyring said. He said one of the things that happened to his son on his mission was that he learned to teach like a lion--boldly and fearlessly preaching and teaching the things that he knew to be true. I want to do better with that. We have a lot of investigators that could and should get baptized, but they are scared to or have artificial doubts about their baptism. I think that if I can be more bold, I can help them take the final step. I need to do better, I really feel super inadequate out here. I'm doing all that I can to improve and be better.

I love you all so much and am always so grateful for your love, support, and prayers. I need them every day, and without them this work wouldn't progress. Remember to always look for opportunities to help others out, service can lead to changed lives. Love everyone, serve everyone. And like Elder Russell said, if you need help with anything, ask the missionaries.

It's officially winter with rain every day. It's cold cold cold. Especially at night. Whenever there isn't sun, it is pretty cold. At night, I suit up with pajama pants, sweatpants, thermal thing you sent, green long sleeve thing, sweatshirt, wool socks. The cold is like Gotham City, and I suit up to fight it like Batman. Bring it yo, I'll beat your face in Mr. Cold. Time to go now, thanks for your love otra vez. Pray for me, send me things, and look for opportunities to serve. Sorry I couldn't write much today, but time flies by when I need to write. Love, love, love you guys.

Con amor,

Elder Thomas

Here's a picture of some of Josh's prized possessions ;)

Monday, October 1, 2012

His first week as a 20 year old...

Hello again! So Josh titled his email with something from a movie our family loves, That Thing You Do. The quote is "Captain Geech and the Shrimp Shack Shooters." I have no idea who that group actually was, but they're referred to in the movie and it's pretty funny. Anyways, Josh is 20 now (?!), and he had quite the week. Enjoy! Also, I have no idea why the writing below is so messed up, all I know is that it is what is it...

Hey all,

I had to take a survery today, so time is a little short. I need to get a haircut still, too, but there is plenty of time. For the record, if I ever don't write, it's because we're either doing something as a zone that is awesome and far away, or I am getting transferred. So if you don't get an email, that's why. I had a crazy week this week.

First off, the packages were the greatest things every, but I'm worried you're gonna make me fat. But not really, but sort of. On my birthday, so many people fed me, and I think I ingested 4000 calories, so I'm taking it easy these next couple of days with the food. My birthday was good, we had cake at our district meeting, I ate for free at a restaurant in the mall here (the mall here is super nice, Quicento), then we went and worked. We had a cita planned with the family that we baptized, and it turned out that Elder Richimong planned a surprise party for me with me. We ate so much food, I could barely walk. But it was good.  I loved your cards, letters, and packages ,and your voice messages. I put them on my recorder and listened to them later. I recorded me eating the Captain, but it looks like it isn't attaching. I have a picture of my stash. Everything you sent was great, I have a ton left and haven't touched most of it yet. Thank you so much, and I am now officially 20! Woo!

Cheney fam, thanks so much for your package. When I can find time, I'll write you guys your own special letter, but thank you so much for your love and support. Brother Cheney, your letter was perfect for me, thanks so much.

Steve-o, got your letter today, and I'l try to get the picture you want sent off today, but the internet is being funny today. I'll do my best, keep the letters and support coming, I love hearing from you. I live por la ecuatoriana, near a store called the Pan Quemado. Love that bread. If you want to find where I am, I'm right there every day. Quito is great, I'm loving it more and more every day. Thanks for the letter, it was so awesome to finally hear from you. Keep them coming!

As for the rest of you who profess to love me and have yet to write me a letter, get your act together. (Cough cough Jensens cough cough) Ebberts too, what the heck! Congrats on your baptism, Lawson, but not writing letters can classify as a sin, and we  want to keep you clean for as long as we can. 

.. I'm super excited for GenCon, and I think the gringos can watch it in English, if not, I can handle the Spanish. Spanish gets better every day, the Latinos call me the Latino in my district, but I have a lot to improve on still. I finished Alma this morning, and am now in Helamán in the Libro de Mormón. I'll finish it in the next couple of weeks.

We've had a lot of service opportunities this week, which is great. I may or may not have watch part of The Incredible Hulk during one service, but what could I do?

I really miss movies, I see them all the time here cause they're all released illegally here.I know when a movie is about to hit theaters in the US because people have a movie I haven't heard of yet here haha. 

We lost the Tito family this week , they said they're going back to their old  church, which is great, but we've spent so much time with them and they know that the Church is true. It 's so sad to know that we probably can't help them much anymore, and can't see them as often. We were supposed to have a baptism this Saturday, the father of the family we baptized the week before, but he didn't show up, which was also sad. These two things really put a damper on my week, starting Friday, and I'm still pretty sad. Plus I lost one of my plaques, but I ordered two more today. I need your prayers this week, it's been tough these last couple of days.

What more, what more. The apartment is almost clean, we're almost, almost there. It hasn't been cleaned in months all the way, so there is always more to do. My bed is so-so, I obught a new pillow today to use with my awesome pillowcase you guys sent. Thanks for the Topsail Island shirt, I was gonna ask for one! I can't think of much more, today has been pretty crazy, and I didn't get much time to think about what to write. I'm gonna call it a day, and send some pictures if the computer works. Love you guys! And keep sending quotes, they're great that you've sent. Love you all, and talk to you in a week! If you're feeling sad and miss me, listen to I'll be Home for Christmas or Homeward Bound, they'll help ;) Love you tons, until next week!

Con amor,

Elder Thomas