Sunday, March 23, 2014

"Dude, you've got some Arst on you." Hurley from LOST

Hey all,

Well, hopefully we'll be having our baptism today around 7:00 tonight. It was supposed to be at 3:00, and lots of members showed up. But, the investigator getting baptized didn't. We were with him last night, he said that he could at 3, members were playing soccer until 11 last night, they said that he knew to come at three, and his friend told him that he was gonna pass by him at 2:30. Nada. We called him, he didn't answer. We called his brother, didn't answer. We called his mom, and she told us that his cousin had dragged him to help him move houses. Bueno. We got the number of the cousin's wife from Esteban´s mom, and called her, but Esteban was with her husband. We got the number of her husband, but he didn't answer. Finally, he answered and said that he had forgotten to call us to tell us that he couldn't at 3 anymore. Bueno. He wanted to see if we could do it next week, but we told him at 7 tonight, 100%. We'll see if it works out, hopefully it does. Our skills that we developed in Operación Matacuy helped us to find him today. No one can hide from us.

Well, we had, surprise, a crazy week. I'm learning how to function on little sleep, so there's a life skill earned! On Monday, we headed out bright and early to have our zone conference in the coast, diga. It went well, there are some great missionaries out there. Some of the best are sent to the coast, because it is a place that often creates problems with the missionaries. But, the ones that are out there are great. There is a new missionary, Elder Tituaña, he's originally from Otavalo and is a total Lamanite. He is a crack-up, I get along really well with him. Great guy. The food in the coast is so great, but just about everything else is poor and dirty, and the kids have no clothes and only live off rice. But, hey, good food makes me a happy guy, so I can't complain.

The zone conferences are going really well so far. We're doing a ton of practices to help the missionaries know how to correct missionaries when they're disobedient and how to be brave and to say what needs to be said. We are focusing a lot on our loyalty motto that is in the mission manual--our loyalty is first, to the Lord, then to our mission president, then to our companion. One thing that we've been teaching is that the respect that we want should follow that same pattern--the respect that we want should first come from the Lord, then our mission president, then our companion. A lot of problems stem from being more loyal to our companion than our mission president, and we're trying to fix that. Hopefully we'll see the desired results.

We came back on Tuesday from the coast, and at night had a meeting with all of the missionaries from Venezuela. They are all Chilean, which is a problem. Pretty much every Chilean that I have met on my mission has gone home early. When I opened the Gasca, the missionary who got sent home was Chilean. We're worried. Of the 7, only 3 don't worry us. We talked a lot, a ton, about obedience, but we're not sure if it'll help. We'll have to keep a close eye on them to be able to help them progress and become more spiritually mature. But, the dinner was really tasty, so can't complain there!

We finished the dinner on Tuesday night, and Wednesday morning, we headed out to Otavalo bright and early. Wednesday morning we had another zone conference with two of the zones in Otavalo. At night, we were eating dinner on a lake, Lago San Pablo, which is right at the base of the volcano Imbabura. It was a clear night, very rare in the mountains. You could see all of the stars because there is little light pollution in Otavalo. Behind the volcano, you could see the light from the full moon slowly moving up. We were so anxious to see the full moon come right over Imbabura. It was very pretty, stars, lake, moonlight, the perfect night for the moon to come up. I was waiting, looking through the window like a kid waiting for Santa to come. And, right when it was about to come up, the clouds came in and we couldn't see the skies at all. Boo. That was a pretty big let down. That would have been pretty pretty. Lame clouds. Thursday, we had the zone conference with the other two zones there, ate some burritos in a Mexican place, super good, then headed home and got home around 10:00.

Friday, we had the verification of the new missionaries that got here at the start of the change. They are doing surprisingly well, it's a pretty solid group. There are only one or two that are struggling greatly, the rest seem to be progressing well. We always go to the Panecillo on the verification, and it's always so pretty to go up there. You can see all of Quito, the statue is on a hill right in the middle of the valley of Quito. You can see the north, south, all of it. It's pretty breathtaking, I love going there. We finished that around 3:30, went to the offices and washed President's car for him, then went to an appointment with Esteban where he told us that he wanted to get baptized the following day at 3, now 7. That was a pleasant surprise, we're happy with that. It's never a sad thing to hear someone say that they want to get baptized. I got home and went right to bed.

Today is our first full P-day in three weeks, and even then, we don't have the full time because of the baptism. But, that's fine. It's Elder Damián's last P-day, he goes home on Tuesday. It'll be sad to see him go, I've been working with him since my second change in Ecuador. Great guy. We went and got some ice cream at Crepe's & Waffles, pistachio, delicious. Bought some food, filled the font, then waited for our 3 p.m. baptism eating Subway. And now I'm in the offices! That about sums up the week until now. Woof, busy week.

A few of you were asking about how I'm doing with exercise. We've made it past step one in our Captain America diet, and are slowly making progress on step two, not eating cold cereal. But, really, we've been doing good with our exercises, mainly Elder Hess and I. We get up at 5:45, well, they days where I'm here, and we go running for about a half hour and do push ups, pull ups, and ab ripper X. When we travel, I try to do whatever I can to get exercise in, I can usually talk Elder Ospina into running with me for a little bit. We've got a pretty good routine down, and I feel like I'm a bit skinnier than when I left, but more of less the same. I haven't gotten any fatter, I'm pretty sure on that. I'm eating well, that's easier to control in the offices because members only feed us on Sundays, the rest of the days we eat in a restaurant or something like that. I've been good about not eating at night, too. A lot of missionaries eat tons right before going to bed, but I remain true to the doctrine that my parents taught me: don't eat late. Nailed it. A true heart doctor's son.

I had one day to study this week, today. That stinks. That's the hardest part for me about being here in the offices is that we rarely get our full study time. Today I read a little in the Book of Mormon, and more in the Principles of Leadership booklet. I read today about honoring the priesthood and honoring womanhood. I haven't finished it, I have about two pages left to read, but I have loved what I've read so far. The chapter starts out stating how we have to recognize that the priesthood is what governs everything, and we must understand and respect that. I don't remember who, but some Apostle said that Christ has trusted us with His priesthood, and we honor him by honoring the priesthood, whether we have it or not. President Kimball (I think) then goes on to say that there is not one person on the earth that has not been affected in some great way by a woman in their lives, and that women play a key role in everything. He says that it is impossible to honor the priesthood without honoring womanhood, pretty dope. There is a talk by Elder Nelson talking about these things, but I haven't finished it yet. Hopefully soon we'll have a few days in a row where we can study, but probably not. As modern men put it, "You go girls!"

Tomorrow we have changes, so that'll be crazy. Next week is another crazy week with all of the new missionaries coming, plus we need to finish up zone conferences still. Woo! One day, I hope to be able to sleep a full night's sleep. But, it's like good ol' Benny Franklin said, "there is time enough for sleep in the grave." True that. But, to be honest, I don't think the idea is that one day we'll be able to truly rest, we'll just be in a state where we don't need to sleep anymore. Or like Superman, we could just learn how to get our power from the sun. Option two would be a little bit cooler, but I'm fine with either one.

Well, I think that's about all that I've got to say for this week. I feel like I haven't been able to think for a week. It's tough to go non-stop for so long, but that's how it goes sometimes! If I feel tired, I can only imagine how tired President Richardson gets. Love you guys tons, congratulations Lowes for the good news, and hopefully Nikki can get her call to Nigeria this week. Talk to you in a week!

Con amor,

Elder Thomas

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