Saturday, February 22, 2014

"Darnel gave me 5 bucks to walk by Andy and slide my finger over my throat to scare him. Darnel is a chump. I would have done a lot more for a lot less." Creed

Hey all,

La semana loca ha terminado. Goodness me. The first week of the change, from Monday at 11:00 a.m. until Thursday at 3:00 p.m., we have absolutely no down time. But, it's all good stuff, and we've gotta help the new missionaries start off on the right foot. Plus, it is much better to be very busy than to have nothing to do.

So, on Monday, the offices are completely crazy. Everyone who has changes comes here before traveling or to find their new companion if they are staying in Quito. We get about 50 calls in the day about how to get to various places, it is quite the headache. We sit down pretty much all day, but at the end of the day I feel like I've ran 10 miles. We also need to do the verifications with all of the zone leaders, which is hard to do with so many people making noises. Plus, we divided another zone this change, so we now have 11 zones. We'll have to keep dividing the zones as time goes. Next change, only 2 missionaries end their mission and we get 14 new ones, so we'll have to open up a lot of new sectors. Ay. Then, at night, we have the goodbye dinner for those that are ending their missions. This group that left was a dud. Basically all of them, except two, were disobedient, unfruitful missionaries. The testimonies that they gave were empty, it was very sad to see missionaries who never changed over two years. The next day in the car, President said, "Was it just me, or did that testimony meeting feel empty last night?" It was very sad. But, the new missionaries seem great, so out with the duds, in with the studs!

On Tuesday, we went to the airport in the morning to get 18 new missionaries. 6 gringos and 12 latinos, I think about 6 were sisters. We have so many sisters in the mission. 60 right now, we'll get up to 65. And we only have about 180 missionaries, so a third are sisters. We have some zones with more sisters than Elders! Anyways, on the Tuesday of crazy week, we pick them up from the airport and spend the day with them giving them classes on cooking and stuff, and we do some legal stuff. We send them home early to go and rest, some have been awake for 24 hours almost. Not too crazy.

Wednesday is the Mini-MTC, where we teach them all of the rules and stuff like that so that their companions don't trick them into doing dumb things. We split up into Spanish and English, and the other gringo office Elder wasn't there, so I had to train all alone for a good three hours. It wasn't easy. After being with a companion constantly for so long, it is weird to teach alone. At night, we had the welcome dinner in the mission home, so good. Andrea is learning how to do sweet napkin stuff, and she decorated the table really well. I tried to do what she did, and it just ended up looking like a wrinkly napkin. Room to improve there.

Thursday is the meeting when they get their companions. It is a quick meeting. We start, split up between trainers and new missionaries, tell the trainers to be obedient and patient, meet together, they get their companions, we talk about a few things, then we send them off. At night, an Elder from El Salvador got in around 6. He is assigned to our mission but had to wait for his visa, and it finally came in. We got home around 8, and that was the day!

Friday, we spent almost all day in the offices planning and preparing various things, since we had no time to do so earlier in the week. We had to make up the rules for the election day here and for carnaval. The president wants to be a dictator basically, and for his desires he doesn't like Americans. The Church is very much associated with the States, so on the 23rd, we can only have sacrament meeting and the missionaries can't go out and proselyte. Pretty dumb. And carnaval is crazy, so we can only leave the house for set appointments, we shouldn't be out contacting or just wandering around. We planned trips and interviews, too. Since Otavalo has 4 zones now, 71 missionaries, we need to spend three days there to do interviews with President. This next week, we're going to the coast, and we started planning March a little bit, too. Crazy days.

Today has been tranquilo. We can't do activities, so we just relaxed in the house all morning, went grocery shopping, cleaned the house really well, and started filling up the font. We have another baptism tonight, another reference. His name is Ronny Cruz, and he was a big blessing for us. A family, the Chango family, brought him to church about a month ago, and he never stopped coming. It took us a few weeks to finally meet with him, and at last we set up an appointment with him. We asked if he had any questions, and he said, "Yeah, this baptism thing. I've heard a lot about it, I've been to a service and seen how it is, and now I would like to be baptized. How can I do that?" We taught him all the lessons in three appointments, he accepted, understood, and was already living everything that we taught him. A great blessing from the Lord and a great example of good, faithful members sharing the Gospel. Elder Ospina said today that he was confused how this baptism working out, because he thought it was too easy. The Lord really blesses us when we do our part. We're doing our job in the offices and working when we can in the nighttime, and when we do all that we can, the Lord really does the rest. It's amazing how He puts people in our path who are very prepared to receive the Gospel. It should be a great service tonight.

Sorry to bore you with the play-by-play, but that's all I did this week until yesterday. We had no time to study, to teach, only be with the new group. But, today, I studied for 3ish hours. Since we can't do activities this month, we were just chilling in the house. I was reading in that booklet, "Principles of Leadership." I really love that book, I'm learning a lot. I read Lesson Four, about being a good example. As we grow closer to Christ and develop His qualities, we become better examples and thus better leaders. A good leader is never a hypocrite, and always does the right thing in righteous ways. But, what I loved more than anything in the lesson was the talk it focused on. It was President Hinckley's talk about his 6 B's. I have known about the B's forever, I remember Mom and Dad teaching us them, but I don't think that I have ever listened to or read the actual talk before. It is so good! President Hinckley was such a wise man, everything that he said was spot on. And looking back on my youth years, 12-18, everything he said, every warning, every promise he made, has been accurate and true. He was such a wise prophet. I love, too, how lovingly he talks to the youth. Several times, he says things like, "my dear friends," "my fellow brothers and sisters in this great work," and a few other ways to express the idea that he views the youth as his equals. He talked about how important the youth are for the future of the Church and how important their decisions are for the future.

He spent a long time talking about the "B" be clean. Everything he mentioned is so accurate and true. We can't be good missionaries, good friends, good anythings if we aren't internally and externally clean. One thing that he touched on was how important it is that we pick good friends. Here's a quote:

Choose your friends carefully. It is they who will
lead you in one direction or the other. Everybody
wants friends. Everybody needs friends. No one
wishes to be without them. But never lose sight
of the fact that it is your friends who will lead you
along the paths that you will follow.

That's another truth about life, especially in our time as youth. The youth in Lago Agrio are very faithful in the Church because they have left bad friends behind and have clung to good, true, clean friends.

There are countless things that I could talk about from President Hinckley's talk, but it'd be better for you if you just read it instead of summarizing it all. The B's, to remind you, are: be grateful, be smart, be clean, be true, be humble, and be prayerful. Okay, just one more quote from be grateful:
There are two little words in the
English language that perhaps mean more than
all others. They are “thank you."...The habit of saying thank you is the mark of
an educated man or woman. With whom is the
Lord displeased? He names “those who confess
not his hand in all things” (D&C 59:21). That is,
those who walk without grateful expression. Walk
with gratitude in your hearts, my dear friends. Be
thankful for the wonderful blessings which are
yours. Be grateful for the tremendous opportunities
that you have. Be thankful to your parents, who
care so very much about you and who have worked
so very hard to provide for you. Let them know
that you are grateful. Say thank you to your
mother and your father. Say thank you to your
friends. Say thank you to your teachers. Express
appreciation to everyone who does you a favor
or assists you in any way.

Way to go, Gordon B. Those prophets sure know what they're talking about.

Here's a link to the talk:

Well, that's about all that I have for today. The week wasn't too eventful just because of all the meetings, hopefully this week will be better. We're going to the coast on Wednesday, coming back on Thursday night, with more interviews on Friday. Woo! Interview month is going to be the craziest month, because there are 11 zones and 180ish missionaries who need interviews. Poor President.

Well, love you guys tons! Hopefully I have some fun stories next week, or at least experiences from my studies that I'll finally have again. Work hard, study hard, and go to the temple lots!

Con amor,

Elder Thomas

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