Tuesday, August 13, 2013

"Learn your rules, you've got to learn your rules. If you don't, you'll be eaten in your sleep!" Dwight Schrute

Hey all,

How goes it? Well, Elder Burr is gone. I am pretty sad about that. He was awesome. You were asking a bit how to get in touch with him to talk with him a bit. The thing about Elder Burr is, you don't find him...he finds you. That's just a cooler way to say that I gave him your number and that he'll be in touch with you guys in the coming week. His name is Jeremiah, just so you know who it is when he calls. I told him to meet up with at least Nat and Heather in Provo and that Nat can get him tickets to her show so he can take a date and so that you can all talk about Lago Agrio. I'll miss that guy a lot, he is awesome and is a stud. For the next two weeks, I'll be in a trio with the two other Elders here, Elder Uc and Elder Molina, so there's that trio fun for you. They're waiting to do changes for two weeks just to get everyone on the same changes-page, and from then on it'll be changes every six weeks again.

I don't think that I've sent you pictures for a while, so sorry about that, I'll try to send some today, but the internet is slow and my patience gets thin with two hours to write everyone in the world. We had two baptisms this week, Carlos and Dolores. Dolores is this sweet old lady who can't read or write, and Carlos is her 15 year old son. He's going to serve a mission. He went on the temple trip without even being baptized, just to see the temple. He came back so excited to keep going in the Church, and he was baptized a week later. It was a great way for Elder Burr to finish his mission, his last weekend with an awesome baptismal service. It had been raining all morning, so the river was pretty flooded and a little dirty, but the parasites received were worth the pain. Little Carlos will get the priesthood on Sunday, adn he'll be the branches only teacher, woo! We've been praying for priesthood, and we're happy to have young men worthy to hold it. Carlos will be a great strength to the branch when he comes back as a return missionary in 5 years. It was a great service. Here, there aren't many buses. We take taxis everywhere, which can get a little expensive (a whopping $1.25 to take you anywhere in the city), but to the river and back it's about $10. We didn't want to have to call for a taxi to come out and get us, so we invited the taxi drivers to watch the baptism, and they said it was a cool experience for them to see what a baptisms is like. And then they charged us $10. Have a heart, guys.

The leader's council was great. We focused a ton on flirting, a ton. I guess it's a big concern everywhere with all of the sisters coming out on missions. They have younger, less mature guys coming right out of high school, where all they thought about were girls, and younger, less mature girls who were looking for a husband at college, and then you tell them that they can't flirt while they are missionaries. So yeah, that could lead to a lot of problems. So we focused a lot on how we should help other missionaries when we see them coqueteando. I just decided to pretend like every missionary I see is Nikki, and every person they are talking to is a twerpy little punk kid at door 6. I'll just interrupt whatever conversation they are having and awkwardly take them to a different place. Thanks for giving me some practive, Nikki. We did really well in the Orient this last month, we're really happy with the miracles we've been seeing here. We talked in the council about how our success last month really came from focusing on the temple, the goal of our mission. We knew that the first weekend in August we had a temple trip planned, and we knew that every members who could attend would come out with a stronger testimony. So, that was what we focused on--getting everyone who could possibly go to the temple to go to the temple, which is the attitude we should have with all of our investigators. About 90% of the people baptized in July went to the temple in August. It was a great thing for us to see, and that trip has kept everyone super excited to keep progressing in the Church. Yay, temples.

On Wednesday, I renewed my visa, and, to my surprise, all the guys from my group were there! It was super fun to be together again, we haven't seen each other since I went to Lago in April. And, it's official. I am the only person from my whole group in the new mission. The other Elders will get home two weeks before me, and they told me that their mission in those two weeks will be to make me trunky. I wish I could have stayed with at least a couple of them, but that's how it goes! After getting our visas done, we went for a last hurrah to KFC to have a lunch together. It was really fun, then we had the 8 hour bus ride back to Lago Agrio. One of the movies they played on the way home was so dumb, a guy killed another guy with a headbut while he was tied up and dying to a chair. That's probably one of those "only seen in a bus on its way to the jungle in Ecuador" kind of movie. Keep trying, guys, you'll get there.

What else happened in this last week? We found a few potential priesthood holders this week (finally), and one of them came to church! He's a 25ish year old guy who really wants to be more spiritual in his life. He has a wife and a little baby, they're married! We don't know his wife yet, she's finishing up school in her university and then she'll be back here. So, that could be a happy little future branch president family. He has a goal to be baptized at the end of the month, and we're going to work really hard with him to see great progress and quick growth with him. That'll be a little funny for him, I think. One week, he'll have his baptismal interview. The next week, interview to get the priesthood. The next week, "Hey, buddy, will you be the branch president? Thanks, we'll see you later! Good luck!" But if it does work out with him, I will train him up the wazoo so that he can learn what he would need to do as a leader, hoping that he could be one in the coming months. I will probably be here 14 more weeks (the two in the trio and two changes after), which should be a lot of great time to train all of the leaders here in the branch.

Oh! While we were in Quito, we got in around 6 on Monday and got some dinner in a mall there. And, I saw one of my converts! Remember little Sneider from Guamaní? When I baptized him, he was 11 and I knew that in June he turned twelve. I talked with him for a minute, he now has the priesthood, goes to church every Sunday, and went to the temple. I baptized his mom, she's active, too, and...to top it all off....their atheist brother got baptized! Yay! But that was super cool for me to see Sneider and to know that he is still receiving the blessings of the Gospel. That little stud will be a great missionary. I also ran into another great family from Guamaní, he was a counselor in the bishopric, and I loved being with their family. They say that they missed playing Spot-It with me on Sundays, I miss that too. I gave them the game before I left, and they still play it faithfully. We should have them over for family night sometime in Minnesota. It is great to know that what you did a little while back is still blessing the lives of people today. Way to go, restored Gospel.

I haven't had time to study much these past two weeks with all the things that we have to do. I haven't read a Neal talk in two weeks! Sorry, Neil. So, no mind-blowing today with things that I studied in the last two weeks, sorry. (This last week, I didn't have a single hour of personal study, boo.) So, this week, I'll study hard and I hope to be able to share some of the cool things I learned with you next week. I'm trying to finish the Book of Mormon by the end of the month, so hopefully I can do that.

Also, I have no idea what is happening in your lives right now. Well, yeah I do, but some things I don't know. I know that Nikki is going to BYU in 2015, Amber is picking up this new thing called "soccer," someone went to some town that sounded like Navajo, and that Natalie is on SNL. But seriously, Nat, is your show popular? And what else I happening? Trevor, have you built my suit yet? Andrew, did you solve cancer? Alex, have you figured out how to build floating homes? I'll just assume that the answer is "yes" to almost all of those questions. And did I hear something about buying me a Mustang?

Anyways, that's probably enough for this week. Monday to Wednesday, Quito. Thursday to Friday, working. Saturday, baptisms. Sunday, church, bye bye Burr, and yeah, here we are today. You guys rock, keep up the good work, and hey, give a mouse a cookie. And some milk. Oh man, cookies and milk, how rico is that? Ya mísmo.

Love you guys tons! Keep going! If you are a younger sister, stop talking to boys or I'll hunt you down and gut you like a fish!


Elder Thomas

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