Well, I was in Quito 2 days this week. Lots of traveling, but it was all good stuff that we were doing. And we ate some really good food, too.
I just watched a new Bible video about la Semana Santa, it was super good with some new clips from the resurrection and other parts of the week. The Church is super true. I'll put some Easter thoughts at the end of the letter and fill you in on the week this week.
I only had one day to study this week, which stunk. On Monday, we had the morning to study, then we had to go to the offices a little bit earlier than usual. An Elder, a zone leader, had extended his mission three weeks, so with his going home, we had to do some changes. In the changes, President assigned a new assistant to work with us, Elder Miranda. He is very humble and very awesome. We'll be in a trio until the change ends, then Elder Ospina is going back into the field to work as a zone leader and Elder Miranda will be the one who kills me. I'm excited and sad. Excited because Elder Miranda is awesome and we'll work really well together, and sad because Elder Ospina and I have been companions for 6 months, and right when we're in a great rythm together, it's time to split up. But, that's almost always how it goes. Right when you're getting good at something, that something ends. A good example of that is eating a really good hot dog. You figure out the right stuff to put on it, enjoy the first few bites, and right when you're really enjoying it, you accidentally bite your fingers because you ate the whole hot dog without realizing it. I hope that I'm not the only one that that has happened too...
We spent the day doing verifications, we had a pretty good week. April will be a weird month because we only have to weeks where we can do confirmations, which is frustrating. But, it'll all turn out okay. We spent the night at President's house and got ready for the trainings we would do during the week.
On Tuesday, we had a meeting with two zones, Calderon and Ofelia. It went really well, and we put Elder Miranda right to work. He did a really good job, especially considering that he had no idea what was going on. We gave him a crash course, and he was able to use the powerpoints to help him now the general direction of everything. We're doing a good job of doing everything that we need to do in the right amount of time. If you go too long with missionaries, they stop paying attention. We do lots of practices and offer them lots of pizza at the end, and we manage to keep their attention.
Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and this morning, we were in Otavalo. I love going there because it is so pretty there. Wednesday and Thursday, we did the specialized trainings. They went fine, just like the rest of them. We try to change things up a little bit every time just so that we don't get bored of saying the same things 8 times a month. They're fun missionaries there, so they made the training fun.
Friday was a leaders' meeting, we have one every three months in different groups. We have a lot of new leaders and a lot of leaders that aren't doing a bad job, so instead of complaining about them not doing what we want, we train them for a few hours so that they being to do what we expect. A lot of times people seem to be failing just because they truly don't know what to do. Some can eventually stumble upon how to lead, some do it naturally, and some need you to sit down with them and go step by step how to do the job. We do a little bit of everything in the training, helping each kind of leader. Everyone has the potential, we just need to help them find it a lot. Little by little, they're getting where they need to be. It was another good meeting with some promising new leaders getting their feet set.
I've learned a lot about how important it is to be patient with the missionaries. When I first got to the offices, if a missionary wasn't doing well, I just wanted to get mad at him for not working well. I've grown to learn how different each missionary is, and that if we aren't seeing the fruits from them that we want, they're probably struggling with something or just don't know what to do. A quick division with them helps out a ton, and as we focus on them as individuals, we begin to look at them not as problems, but as a person needing a solution. It's fun to work with them to help them figure out how to do things. That's a fun part about my job right now.
Friday afternoon, President gave a fun training to future missionaries in the Ibarra District. That district is the oldest district in the whole Church, no joke. We are trying really hard to be able to make it a stake, and President's training helped out a lot of the youth to go on missions. If they can go on missions, when they get back, they would be a big strength to be able to make the district a stake. We did quick divisions at night, then stayed overnight one more time. For Holy Week, there is tons and tons and tons of traffic between Quito and Otavalo, so we waiting to leave until this morning to avoid traffic. Sister Richardson is still in the states, so we got to stay in the hotel with President. The pictures I'll attach will say enough about how awesome that hotel was. Paradise right there, baby.
Usually when we go to Otavalo, it is very pretty, but very cloudy. You can't ever see the tops of the mountains, but the green hills are pretty. This trip, we got super lucky. I'll attach the pictures, but one night was crystal clear, which basically never happens there. Otavalo is a very simple city with few lights, so little light pollution. We got to the hotel, right on the lake, and the water was still as can be, making itself a mirror of the sky. It was a full moon, giving off tons of light, allowing you to see the outline of the volcano Imbabura. The stars dotted the sky and there was no noise whatsoever. A perfect night. Would have been a great time to ask someone to marry you. What?
The next two mornings were also perfectly clear. The sunrise was beautiful, with mist whisping off the lake, creating an awesome light. The sun shone brightly, illuminating the valley and making all colors more vibrant. Not one cloud was in the sky, and you could see the entire volcano Imbabura. Super, super pretty. The birds chirped, the ducks quacked, and the llamas almost spit on President. Super pretty.
We've had a low key day today. We went shopping for food for the first time in weeks since we've been traveling so much. Now, we have food. I'm on a NutriGrain crave. The box isn't too expensive and they taste great, so I can't complain.
So, that was my week! I have had no time to study at all, which is a bummer. I want to go over the Conference talks, but I haven't even had time to download them yet. Being busy is great, but we need a normal, low key day in one of these days to be able to study and to catch our breath again.
Today and tomorrow all of Ecuador has Stake Conference. It's going to be a broadcast from the Area, the first time they've ever done it, we'll see how that goes. Knowing South America, something probably won't work out.
It looks like you guys had a lot of fun with the family visit this week, thanks for sending the videos. The kids are really cute and Mom and Dad don't look any different. Did you get new couches?
I am very grateful for this Easter season. Here, the week is filled with a ton of apostasy. Tons. It's pretty sad to see how much weird stuff goes on in the churches here to apparantly celebrate "Pascua," or Easter. The most sad part of it all, I think, is that they pretty much don't do anything in regards to the resurrection of the Lord. They focus so much on His suffering, on His pain, and they somehow think that His pain must become theirs. It is a clear evidence to me of one of the many things that Satan does to gain power--to focus on the loss of a mortal body instead of the eternal resurrection that we are all destined to received. Of course thoughts of receiving a body that can't die would make Satan furious, so he wants people to forget about that as much as they can. Here, it works.
I am so thankful for the knowledge and understanding that we have from the Restoration of the Gospel. We know that His suffering was great, but it ended. His death was terrible, but it wasn't in any way permanent. The thing that makes it all different is that we truly know that He lives as a glofied being, never to suffer death again. We feel so much more light in our lives focusing on that. Seeing a wooden carving of a beaten and bloodied Jesus carrying His cross is not the message of Easter. The message of Easter is that He did something that no one before Him ever did. He overcame death, and now, we can as well.
I am reminded a lot of a few scriptures in Doctrine and Covenants that I wish everyone here in Ecuador could read,
15 Therefore I command you to repent—repent, lest I smite you by the rod of my mouth, and by my wrath, and by my anger, and your sufferings be sore—how sore you know not, how exquisite you know not, yea, how hard to bear you know not.
16 For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent;
17 But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I;
18 Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink—
19 Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men.
The message of Easter has nothing to do with sadness or suffering. The message of Easter has everything to do with light, happiness, and eternal life. Because of this week, we don't have to suffer. It is not the Lord's intention to have us to suffer. As long as we repent, we can feel His love always. He never invites us to suffer as He did, but to follow Him, to put our load on Him, and to learn that through His life, we can live forever with Him. That knowledge makes me happy.
I testify that Jesus Christ lives. I testify that He loves us. Everything that He did, He did for us, and all that He asks is that we live His Gospel. I will follow Him always, for I know that only through Him can I be happy. He is the Lord of all things. I know these things are true.
I wish you all a happy, bright, and inspiring Easter. I hope that you can all remember how great it is to have the Restored Gospel and to know how to follow Christ again. I love you all tons!