Monday, December 30, 2013

"There is no place like home for the holidays...or prison..."

Hey all,

Well, I talked with the family on Wednesday, which was great, and a lot of the things I would normally write in my letter I told them in the video chat. I don't feel like typing all of that stuff, so whoever wasn't in the video call can talk to the fam to get the low down. I would encourage all to ask about what happened on my Christmas Eve. It is a tale involving missionaries, hospitals, police, and prisons, so it's worth a listen.

We have a baptism today at 4! We're really excited. Her mom passed away last week, and she's been in Columbia with her family for funeral stuff. She got back Thursday night, and we stopped by last night for a quick visit. She was still pretty sad, understandably. Elder Dearden and Elder Ospina have both had family pass away, so they offered some great consuelo for her that seemed to help her out. I did what I always do when I'm not sure what to say, open my scriptures until I see one that works! After they talked, I read some scriptures with her about the Holy Ghost and the comfort that we can receive from Him. It was a good talk, she understood it, then we talked about her baptism, and her response was really funny. She was going to get baptized and confirmed before going to Columbia, but she didn't end up having enough time. So, we asked her yesterday if she wanted to get baptized today, and her answer, well, the best translation that there is in English, was, "Well, duh! I wanted to do it last week? Why are you even asking?" So, we'll leave from here in about a half hour to have that service. I'll probably have more time to write in the night, I only have about an hour right now because of the baptism. But, it's a great thing to miss a P-day for. Plus, it's a great way for Elder Dearden to finish his mission, his last weekend with a baptism. I'll miss that guy, you guys should buy him tasty treats.

We did some more surprise studies this week, and they are working out really well. Every time we've done them, we've discovered missionaries doing things that they shouldn't be doing. We help them set good goals to get better and to get more out of their mission. We need a lot more dedicated missionaries, that's one of the downsides of having such young missionaries now. We're seeing problems with sisters, too. Before, they were the mature ones in the mission, now they all flirt and it's uncomfortable to fix it, so we just look for food and use that as an excuse to leave. Life's lessons learned right there. We're working hard and brainstorming a lot about what to do to help out our missionaries. I've been really frustrated with the inexperience of all the missionaries here, but now I am trying to see it as a chance for me to learn how to train good leaders. Maybe the Lord needs all of us right now to get better at that for future things. Lots of missionaries with good potential, they just don't realize that yet. We scheduled all of our trainings and divisions for January, it's going to be a crazy month. And just, for the record, some weeks I may not have a P-day, so if I don't write, don't freak out, we're just busy.

It was really great to talk to you guys, thanks for teaching the kids how to say my name. You all look great and older. Soon we'll be talking again! I loved being able to communicate, even for just a brief time.

Well, I don't have too much to say since I was able to videochat this week. I'll give you a good letter next week. This week is going to be crazy with the new missionaries coming in on Monday. Here are a few random thoughts to finish.

Mango season is the best. We are in it right now.

Pistachio ice cream is really good.

The corn is really weird here and is not appetizing.

I don't get how the money works here. They use the dollar, but have their own 5, 10, 25, and 50 cent pieces here. Here, those "Ecuadorian coins" are worth money, but if I take them to the States, they aren't worth anything. How does that work? Wouldn't that mean that it's a lie when they say how much money they have? Come on, government here.

Here, on New Year's Eve, they burn the viejo. They buy sweet dolls made of paper and burn them, as if to say "out with the old, in with the new." As they burn it, they start a new year, burning the things from the last year that they want to change. We may burn one with Elder Dearden's face on it since he goes home that day. I think it's a cool tradition that they have here. I want to buy an Iron Man doll.

Love you guys! Don't do dumb things!

Elder Thomas

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