I'll be the first to say it. I am so sick of eating rice. I just hate it so much. It doesn't even have a flavor OR a texture. Just bland carbohydrates. And pounds of it. Can we not make a nice side salad? Or Cheeto Puffs? Cheeto Puffs aren't even real and they still taste better than rice. Or some Bush's baked beans, styrofoam, anything! Just please, no more rice. If I see one grain of rice in the rice when I get home, so help me I will uncork like the Hulk and destroy you all. Stupid rice. Stupid Christmas!
How was your week this week? You guys are all super busy. When was the last time you watch America's Funniest Home Videos? It's probably been awhile, I can tell by the stress of you modern day office lives. Kick back, watch some Nueva Loja Branch President prescribed AFV, it'll help. Also, you should watch Fineas and Ferb. I've never seen it, but I could see it being funny. It's got a platypus, which is pretty cool. "Platypus," in Spanish is Ornitorrinco. Just as fun to say as platypus, and it is still a useless animal. I only know that word because everyone watches it here and talks about Perry el Ornitorrinco. So, yeah, AFV and Fineas and Ferb, we'll see what happens. Take notes and be sure to have a constant in your experiment or it isn't valid.
Whenever we go to Quito, it is tough to have a good week work-wise. But, we did a pretty good job this week. Hard work always pays off, sí o qué? We had 47 people at church this week, and for the past few weeks we've had 30 to 35 coming, so we're progressing little by little. The goal is to have 80 people attending by the end of the year. We're focusing a lot on General Conference in October. I hope a lot of people come, it is such a good thing for everyone to see. So, this Friday, we're having an activity to get everyone excited for it, a pep-rally, if you will. Basically we're just going to drink Coca-Cola and eat columbian empanadas, but we'll make a few references to General Conference in there.
The weekend started out tough, but ended up being pretty good. The young man that was going to get baptized on Saturday has disappeared. Straight up nobody knows where he is. He was here on Thursday, excited for Saturday, and up until today no one knows where he is. So, time to pull some Sherlock Holmes skills (I've seen both movies more than once, so, yeah, I know how to sleuth) and find the little bugger. Hopefully nothing bad happened to him, and hopefully we can find out where he is soon. So, that was kind of a downer on Saturday, but Sunday turned out to be really good. There is one family here that is just the best, the Cedeño Gordón family. We got to know them about three months ago, and they are my favorite people here. Their kids got baptized almost right away, but the Mom and Dad didn´t. One problem that I've explained with the men here is that they work for the oil companies and are hardly every here. The Dad is an oil guy, so is hardly ever here. The Mom wanted to wait and be baptized together with her husband, which is a great thing. So, the Dad has been coming to church when he is here, and yesterday he was able to attend and we went and visited them. They give us lunch on Sunday, so we just stayed longer to talk. It looks like they'll be getting baptized the weekend of General Conference, which will be a great thing. We're praying for the Dad so that it all works out, and then in a year they'll be able to go to the temple. So that looks that it'll be the big thing happening soon. We have another young couple who are progressing well, too. We're excited to have these great families progressing in the Gospel, and on the branch president end, we're starting to focus the new member families on the temple to get them going there ASAP.
Is Mom a General Authority now? That's cool that you got to do visits with the RSGPOTCOJCOLDS. Long title, but it commands respect. I'm sure that you learned a ton from her, and she learned a ton from you. You're a great woman, Mom, and you've been helping a lot of people for a long time. Thanks for being a great example to so many people. $10 says that the RSGPOTCOJCOLDS makes a shoutout to Mom in General Conference. Who wants in on the bet? Verán, she'll talk about it. Way to go, Mom.
Yay, school! Hahahaha, I haven't done homework in over a year. Crap...I haven't done homework in over a year. When I think about the things that I learned in my first year at college, there are a lot of empty gaps. So...bueno. Maybe someone will have invented that pill from that movie where the guy takes it and becomes like super smart. Limitless or something like that?
Andrew, I like your goal of going into anesthesia so that you can perform Inception, keep going with that. Your job as a doctor would have to be considered an Inception Job, because you have there a job within a job. Being an Anesthesiologist while being an Inceptionist. I hear the pay is good there.
These past few weeks have been a big blur, I don't even know what else to tell you guys. I saw monkys in the trees the other day, cute little buggers. It rained a ton yesterday, then it was really hot. We have a branch mission plan. There it is!
We have a branch mission plan now! Woo! Responsabilities fulfilled! I've called some youth as branch missionaries since there is no one else (we don't even have a branch mission leader yet), and we had a meeting to start planning what our goals should be. In branch council, we fine tuned it, and soon we had our plan for the rest of the year! Yay, progress! It is really weird to be in charge of things like that. Now the trick is to get people to actually do what we planned, that's the hard part. We're getting seminary started, Tuesday to Friday from 5 to 6 if any of you want to attend. The school schedule here is really weird, and seminary in the afternoon makes more sense, early morning isn't possible here. So, all the youth are really excited for that. We have some good young people here, which is really inspiring everyone, myself included. It's cool to see things progress and little by little go as you planned it. The Lord really helps us to do the rest once we've done all that we can, that's something that I've learned here, too.
This Wednesday, President Richardson's counselor is coming out to the the audit (I honestly have no idea what that involves, other than me getting in trouble) and to interview all of the priesthood holders here in the branch. So, hopefully with those interviews we can start getting the branch more independent and get me out of the branch president position. I am willing to do whatever is needed of me, and hopefully soon the members can take over again.
I've learned a ton here in Lago Agrio. I am coming up on six months here. Can you guys believe that? I almost have 16 months in the mission. How did that happen? I feel like I just got here. I remember when I got here and I saw all of the older missionaries who had a lot of time and thinking, "Look at how worn their plaques are, mine will never get that worn!" or "Their shoes are destroyed, my shoes will never be that broken." "Their shirts are not white at all, mine will never get that dirty!" And I'm at that point now where I see a lot of the newer missionaries and think, "Haha, look at how clean their plaques are." "Those little newbies with their clean little shoes! Mine are destroyed!" "Look at how white their shirts are! You just got here, didn't you!" And those kind of things just crept up on me. I still have a lot of time left to serve, which is a blessing, but at the same time, I can't believe how much time has gone by already, especially here. All the time here has flown by super fast. Nuts!
It's really important to be obedient. I've been reading the talks from last Conference about obedience because it is really important. I love President Monson's talk when he tells the story where he almost burned down the neighborhood for not being obedient. In that talk, he says, "Brothers and sisters, the great test of this life is obedience." So true. I've been pondering a lot about that lately, how important it is to be obedient. I know a lot of missionaries that either aren't or weren't obedient in the mission, and a lot of times they seem to be the people having more success than anyone else, which can be frustrating sometimes. But, it is always more important to be obedient. I was reading the story of Abinadi today, and he is a great example of that. Everyone wants him to stop talking and they want to kill him, but he is boldly obedient to the commandmants of the Lord and tells him that he will not be touched until he has complete the job the Lord has given him. Looking at his example, some would say that he wasn't a very successful missionary. From his teaching, he didn't event baptize anyone, he just reactivated the less-active Alma. And Abinadi probably didn't even know that he did that. But, what Abinadi did do is way more important that how many people he baptized. He was bold, obedient, and taught by the Spirit. That is surely more important to the Lord than his "numbers." I am sure that when the Lord asks, "So what did you do with your life?," He is a lot happier to hear a response like, "I was obedient to what Thou has commanded me," than "I held x position or I baptized x people." Truly obedience is the true test of life, and in the end the only grade that matters. Also, I do hear that in the Final Judgement, God does grade heavily on your floral design skills. It is so important to be obedient, and we can always do better about that. It's like President Packer said, "We are not obedient because we are blind, we are obedient because we can see." Nothing makes us happier than obedience to God, not one single thing. So, like Nike says, "Just do it." And keep up on your floral design skills.
Well, I think that sums it up for this week! Next week I'll be focusing on "The How-To's of Monkey Trapping And Tribal Weaponry." So, please study up so that we can all be enlightened together. All of you should go to the temple before General Conference starts and be making your list of questions you need answers to. I'll do the same, minus the temple part since I can't. Sam, come on, just design a little one to put in Lago Agrio.
Love you all tons, have an excellent week, and be happy about everything! And watch some AFV.
Elder "I HATE EATING RICE" Thomas