Another crazy week. I am really tired.
On Monday, we had a Christmas dinner, it was technically ours, although we go to all of them. It was zona Quito, and we had around 45 people in the house eating. It was really crazy, but by far the best dinner of them all. THe zone leaders prepared a killer message, they somehow got costumes for everything, and it was very well put together. We, as the office Elders, prepared a special musical number, "White Christmas," and it was a big hit as well. I just love Christmas stuff. I even found candy canes in the mall today, how great is that? We got home at around 12 on Monday, completely exhausted.
Tuesday, we woke up super tired, but it was a good day. We were in the offices all afternoon getting reports ready and such, then we went out to work in the evening, but all of our appointments fell. It's pretty frustrating when we don't have a lot of time to work, and the things we have planned fall. But, that's okay, that's why they give us two years to work instead of 2 days. There is lots of time to improve, and then right hwen you think that you're in the hang of things, they make you go home. We're doing our best though, and I'm learning that the focus of being in the offices is more of a focus on helping the mission as a whole instead of focusing more on our own personal sector. If we're doing a good job, the mission is doing a good job. If we aren't doing a good job, we should probably just quit while we're ahead.
On Wednesday, we had another Christmas dinner, it was way different from the rest. It was the zones from the coast, Esmeraldas and San Rafael. There aren't sisters in those zones yet, which makes the dinner way easier. We start on the ground floor eating some bocaditos before going up to eat the dinner. Usually the sisters take forever to get upstairs. We tell them it's time to eat, and they want to take a thousand pictures and don't want to go upstairs, really frustrating. The Elders, we just say, "Hey, Elders, there's more food upstairs, let's go." And within five minutes we're all eating dinner. Smooth sailing baby. Good dinner, though. It was good to see the Elders from my old zone, too, they're good guys. We have to send the best missionaries to the coast so that they don't do anything stupid. They still end up doing stupid things, but that's okay.
On Thursday, we had a crazy day. We were asked to go by some missionaries that are having some troubles with obedience and diligence. We went by for a surprise study with one companionship, and that actually went really well. It seems like the Elders are doing a lot better than we thought, at least speaking about studies. We then felt that we needed to stop by another companionship before going to district meetings, and it's a good thing that we did. We got to their house at 10, and they had just gotten out of bed. That's rotten luck for them, they get caught red handed by the assistants. We had a good, long talk with them about their struggles and their challenges currently in the mission, why they're waking up late, things like that. It was actually a really good talk, and we set some good goals with them. They're struggling a little bit with their testimonies, and if they do the things that we left with them, hopefully they'll feel the Spirit more and have stronger testimonies. I liked what we could do to help them, it felt really good. After that, we went to a district meeting, and the district leader did a great job, really great job. It makes me happy to see good, dedicated missionaries doing what is asked of them. We headed back to the offices, planned, then had a good couple of appointments, one with our investigator who is getting baptized soon. She's great, and progresssing very well. Her sons are members, and they're helping her well, plus the bishop is a stud and doing great. We're also visiting a less active family who is returning to activity. That's a great process to see, as well; not just acceptance process of investigators, but also the remembrance process of less actives. There are a few people in the family who aren't members, so we'll keep working with them to help them progress together. I'll keep you posted.
Friday was a good day, too. President has his son coming today to stay for the holidays, and his son's girlfriend (almost wife) is coming too, so they want to have everything ready for when they come. We've been working hard to get changes done a couple of weeks early, and to get all of the meetings planned before Monday so that President can spend as much time as possible with his family. We managed to get a lot done throughout the day, there is still a little bit more to do, but the work is minimized for President while his family is here. At night, we had a ward talent show, and the less active family and Nidya, the investigator that's getting baptized were there. It went well for them (I hope). But, bad news hit right at the end of the show. Nidya's mom, who lives in Colombia, passed away unexpectedly. She was really sad, and we were worried that she wouldn't be able to be baptized. It was cool though, the very first thing that she said to us was, "How can I still be baptized?" We talked it through and thought that we could still have her baptism today, but no luck, she had to go. So, we'll have to wait until next week to have her baptism. We're happy that she understands the importance of baptism, and that it'll give her more consuelo than anything else right now. Yay for the gospel!
Today has been a fun day. We got some hair cuts, printed off letters, then hit up Crepes and Waffles with Elder Paz and Elder Clark, the assistants from the other mission. I'm trying really hard to budget, but when we go to Crepes and Waffles, I lose a lot of money. You can only understand what I mean if you have eaten at that wonderful establishment. Best restaurant in Ecuador, no doubt. We went bowling after, got a solid 125. I'm better on Wii though, not sure why. It's been a fun day, and I bought candy canes for a dessert that Sister Richardson is going to make for us on Christmas Eve. And that is my week!
We don't always get tons of time to study, but when we do, I study all that I can. I want to finish the Old Testament in Spanish. I gotta be honest, the Old Testament is whacky. Well, Genesis is really whacky, then it gets a little more normal over time. I liked the book of Numbers, I'm in Deuteronomy right now. This week, we've been studying a lot about a mix of the Atonement/Leadership/Covenants. Our missionaries aren't doing so hot right now. We're way below the Area average on baptisms, and we need to improve by great bounds. As I've said before, our leaders here are not the best, other than a handful. We have a lot of "dilly dally" missionaries who don't push themselves and who don't feel the drive to do a little bit more every day; to go the extra mile. We're getting a training ready for January where the general idea is to make them feel bad about how things are going in the mission without macheteing them too badly. We're working hard on the training, and we feel like it could be really good. If you have any good ideas, send them my way! I've learned to love my study time, I hate days where we can't study. There is no better way to start the day than exercise and study, it leaves you feeling so happy and ready for action. I encourage you all to find some way to study a little more in your lives. Waking up early is totally worth it, you may feel tired, but the study makes up for it. Staying up late isn't as effective for gospel study, plus it's not allowed as a missionary, so tough luck there. Studying is so great, I've always loved it, but I love studying the gospel a lot more now than I ever have before. Yay, studies!
I'm excited to see you guys on Christmas, it'll be fun to see you again and see how everyone looks older. Again, if the babies can't say "Josh," the call will be quick and brief. But, I can't wait for Christmas, it's the best day ever! Woo! I haven't gotten any of the packages yet, but I did get the Madsen Christmas card. That's a very funny picture of Jack, nailed the "baby Christmas" feel.
Well, I hope you're all happy, we'll be talking around 1 my time on Christmas, sounds like! If there are any complications, I'll give you guys a call to fix things, but all should be well. I love you all!
And sorry, to those of you who I won't be talking to on Christmas, Merry Christmas! I hope that we can all remember the true significance of the holidays while we celebrate them with our families.