Monday, February 4, 2013

Hola! We got an exciting phone call a couple of days ago from a woman who met Josh! In fact, her husband works at the U.S. Embassy where Josh is, and they had him and his companion over for dinner. She decided to find our number and call us, and it was awesome. Josh's quote of the week: "No! I think I can save the hat! It landed on that Hyundai...I mean...mermaid's car..." Troy Barnes, Community

Hey all,

This week was a whirlwind. Opening a sector is hard, but it's going well. The leaders in the ward are excellent, excellent. We got 16 references from the leaders in this first week. 16! We'll be working hard to get in contact with them. There was a lady from Africa at church yesterday, and we're visiting her tonight. Little by little, we're building up a program here. Zona Quito is so so so so so so so so different from Chillogallo. This is the "rich" part of Quito. In Chillogallo, the dogs were covered in their own filth, here they have bows in their hair. There aren't really any dirt streets here. As Elder Nelson put it, "In Chillogallo, I felt like I never needed to shower." It's very different. There are good things and bad things about that. Good thing, we live by all the big stores and restaurants downtown, and we're a 10 minute walk from the offices. Bad things, we live on a mountain and have to walk up very steep hills, and the richer people are very proud and not as receptive as the poorer people in the south. If we go up really high in our sector, the people are poorer, and they tell us that that is where the missionaries usually have the most success. Overall, I really like my new sector, called the Gasga.

I felt like I was cheating when I went to the Dowling's house on Tuesday. I was waiting for Elder Paz to arrive, so I went on splits with Elder Nelson for two days while he was waiting, too. It was like being in America. Root beer, pizza, banana bread, ENGLISH, plus the husband is totally Jason Bourne, like no joke. He told us stories from the different places that he's served for protection, and it's crazy. When they go back in a couple of months, you guys will have to meet up with them, they're really great people. They don't speak much Spanish, so it's been tough for them. There are 5 gringo families in Elder Nelson's sector. I'm doing divisions there on Thursday, so maybe we'll stop by again...

Like I said, when I was in their house, I felt like I was cheating. It was nicer than any house I've ever seen in Ecuador, but in the states, it's a normal house, more or less. But I felt like I stepped out of Ecuador for a bit and could enjoy some US time. They said that soon they'll have a BBQ with us--in the embassy they have a grocery store like a regular store in the US. They're great, great people.

We had an overall tough week, lots of walking, lots of contacting, not too much success. But, we'll just keep going. Sometimes I don't really understand why I feel so happy in the mission. I face a ton of rejection every day from tons of people, but I'm almost always smiling. Some days, we come back after contacting all day, not having found anyone to teach, but I go to bed happy. What's up with that! Some days, I'll admit, it's hard to stay happy and animated, but as I keep working hard, it eventually goes away. I love that about the mission. This is without any doubt the hardest thing that I've ever done in my life to this point (because high school and a year of college were sooooo hard), but I've learned to be happy when things are hard, laugh when nothing seems to go right, it's great.

Elder Paz is so awesome. I think he's my favorite companion so far. We tell jokes, laugh, and work hard every day. He's come 80% pre-trained, so it's a bit of a change from training Elder Sanchez, who come in knowing nothing. I bet that's how it feels being a parent, seeing different things in each "child" that I have, and learning how to change the way you do things to help them the most. Elder Paz is already famous in the mission. People meet him, and all the gringos say, "Oh! You're the kid who watched every episode of Friends three times and learned English!" He's just super fun, and makes friends very easily. He said he'd always hated, hated English, but loved watching Friends. He watched every episode once, with English subtitles, then every episode again without them, and he could understand it. By the end of the third time through, he said "I didn't even mean to, and I could speak English!" He wants to write a book about his experience and how other people can do it, and call it "Learning English with Friends" (nailed the pun). I'm super excited to work with him and to get to know him better. He's from Lima, baptized when he was 11, family got sealed in December.

The ward is great, we have two missionaries who got back about 2 weeks ago, and a kid who isn't studying or working, just preparing for the mission, so it's pretty easy to get people to work with us. We're gonna visit the leaders of each organization throughout the next few week and get to know them, and let them know that we're here to serve them. The two missionaries before us did some serious damage, and a lot of the members are very cold to us. It's so sad that some missionaries choose to be disobedient, and they don't realize the consequences of their actions. We basically don't have an area book, many members don't like us, and we have to start from scratch. In the last 2 months, 15 missionaries have had to be sent home for disobedience. It's just so, so sad. President and Sister Ghent are awesome, though. After I got Elder Paz, they knew we didn't know much about our sector, so they drove us around it, showed us all the important places, and took us to our house. Sister Ghent made us food to eat, and have just been so supportive to us. We live very close to their home, and they said we can bring a family there to have family night and to eat dinner whenever we want. They left and told us, "We're praying and rooting for you!" I feel like I've gotten a lot closer to them in the past month or so, and I'm super excited to be closeby them and to continue to get to know them well. They are great, great people.

It's about that time. Hopefully we'll have some great experiences this week, and I can write about them next Monday. We're gonna work hard and see some big miracles. I love you all tons, keep writing me. Oh, and Steve-o, I live super close to the Marriott. Crepes and Waffles, baby, gametime.

Con amor,

Elder Thomas

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