How goes it? I'm doing great.
On Thursday, we went to Quito in the bus. It was a long bus ride. It was not a very fun bus ride. But we arrived. We got to the city and we stayed in the assistant's apartment, which was unbelievably nice. I ate Subway, Burger King, and felt cold for the first time in a month. It was wonderful! So, we got there Thursday and just enjoyed the night, then Friday we had our mission leaders' council. I don't remember if I mentioned this in a previous letter, but there are sister missionaries that serve as leaders now, 4 for the whole mission, so they were there, too. They gave a great training, but it got unbearably long. They had 30 minutes, and it lasted over an hour. The assistants wanted to stop them, but they were afraid that the sisters would get mad at them. Do girls like to talk a lot or something? But they did a good job overall.
President and Sister Richardson are great, great people. Sister Richardson reminds me a ton of Mom, a ton. They both speak "I served a Spanish speaking mission many years ago" Spanish, but they're speaking really well for not using their Spanish for a few years. President Richardson is a great man. He gave some great advice on how to use the Book of Mormon more in our teaching and how to use the pamphlets more in the lessons. It was a great reunion. We focused mainly on the needs of the mission in the council, things we did well last month and the things that we need to do better, so we didn't get to know them personally too well. They are coming out on Thursday for their "get to know you" meeting. They'll come out with their two kids that are here with them, and we'll have time to get to know them better then. Their son is leaving in August to serve a mission in Chile, and their other daughter is only 13. They are both adopted from South American countries, but apparantly don't speak a lick of Spanish. I'm excited for them to come out. I'm really excited to get to know them better over the next year or so.
This Friday in the branch, we are having a big fiesta to celebrate the branch's two year anniversary. The leaders are planning it all, so we hope that we don't show up to the activity with apostasy abounding. The members are really excited for the activity, and we hope that they bring a lot of friends to come and see the church. It looks like President and Sister Richardson may be attending, too, which would be really fun. On Saturday, we are going to the Manantiales to have some baptisms. The branch is really excited for that, too. We had 13 people come to church yesterday, which was awesome, and the members are just as excited about it as we are. So next week, we'll have some really pretty pictures with some really happy faces.
Elder Burr and I are focusing a lot now on training the members on how to be members. We've brainstormed a list of the things that they need to learn how to do, and now we need to find the time to do it all. Some simple things, like how to bear your testimony on fast Sunday or how to give a prayer, to bigger things, like Family Home Evening, are all things that they need to learn. I love this type of work. It feels a lot more satisfying than what we do in a ward. In a ward, people get excited about baptisms, but not that excited. They often have the mentality of, "Oh, cool, another baptism," and don't do too much more. The wards have their leaders and plenty of people, and the new people many times go forgotten by the members. It's sad, but true in the wards that I've seen. Don't get me wrong, I loved working in wards and understand how great of a blessing it is to have a well developed congregation. But here, I just love the work so much more. It's not just working and thinking that everyone needs to hear the Gospel, but we walk around thinking, "We need an Elder´s Quorum President...let's go find him!" And every baptism is so important to the members. I just love the Spirit that is here. Woo, Lago Agrio!
I studied by good old Neal this week a talk that is called, "Jesus of Nazareth, Savior and King." Basically he talks about how important it is to remember how important Jesus Christ is in the lives of each of us. In many religions, Jesus really has lost his importance. Now, I love every person from every religion, but I will now make some observations about this that I've seen living among people from all sects of religions. For example, here, in the Catholic church, I hear more people talk about the Virgin than Jesus Christ. People seem to think that the Virgin has a more important role than Jesus Himself, which makes me sad to see. Others don't even view him as our Savior, just as a great man. And, of course, others don't believe in Him at all. That is one of the hardest things for me to see, people undervaluing our Savior. He lived and died for us, suffering in a way that we cannot comprehend, enduring things that no other man could, and loving us when we least deserve it. I love my Savior, and I hope to better understand His role in my life as I progress in His Gospel. He is the most important person that has ever lived, and we must never think otherwise. He is the Savior of all mankind. Here is just one paragraph from the talk that I loved, I testify that his intelligence is vastly superior in every field to the very brightest mortals in those fields and that his intellect in scope and truth far exceeds all human intellects. I thank him for encapsulating that exquisite mind in both perfect love and perfect humility. His brilliance is not the “catch-me-if-you-can” kind, but a pleading and patient, “Come, follow me.”Never has anyone offered so much to so many in so few words as when Jesus said, “Here am I, send me." I love my Savior. Don't forget what He is.
We have some great people progressing, and next week I'll send some pictures of them. We are very excited for the change that we're seeing here. I feel like I got here in the middle of WWII, Hitler was defeated, and Abraham Lincoln was put in his place. Elder Burr is a total stud in all that he does, and I hope that I can keep helping him out with his responsabilities.
I love you guys, thanks for all you do. You are the best. You have a Savior, and that makes all the difference.