Favorite Scripture

Helaman 5:12 "And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall."

Monday, January 28, 2013

Zona Santo Domingo

Hello earthlings,

So right now, I'm in Zona Santo Domingo. Santo Domingo is in the coast. I got changed this month! So yeah. I'm not in Yaruquí anymore. Here the climate is humid and rainy, and if the sun is out, really hot. Luckily right now we're in the cooler season =). But I am so sweaty right now. I haven't sweated this much in the whole mission. My new companion is Elder LeBaron, a gringo and a District Leader here. My first gringo companion. I don't know him too well, but right off the bat we hit it off. He told me that I remind him so much of his best friend. So I think we'll get along pretty well. I can't tell you too much about my new area because I just got here today about 1 hour ago. Everyone tells me that it's awesome though and that they baptize a lot. Woot! One of the bad things about the coast is that hardly anyone is married and almost everyone has problems with the law of Chastity, down to 10 year olds sometimes......Pretty sad, but that's just one of the challenges that we'll have to get over here. The people here are also really nice and awesome. Looking forward to the new sector.

So updates on the past 2 weeks. First off, sorry I can't send pictures right now. I don't have a cable or a card reader with me right now. I'll tell you about the Ecuator when I can send the pictures, that way you can follow along and it'll make sense. But last week, the crappy week, was just that, crappy. All of our numbers were 0 except for 4 lessons to investigators and about 40 contacts. Pretty bad. Really bad actually. But the last week we did a lot better. We contacted and found some new people that we think have promise. We also got in some lessons with members too. Overall a better week. We met with Fam. Chandi and the husband told us that he knows that what we're teaching him is true and that baptism will make him happier, but he has a fear of chaning his life and doing things different. His wife isn't sure if this church is true or not. We helped them realize that one thing that they lack is the church attendance. They really commited to go to church this week because they really want to know if it's true. They didn't go....I still don't know why and I never will because I'm not there anymore =).

We also worked with Vinni a little bit. He told us that he doesn't know if the Book of Mormon is true or if Joseph Smith was a prophet......I think he knows, but he just forgot. So we're trying to help him get/realize a testimony of the Book of Mormon.

Elder Leal and I....we had a pretty rough time Friday afternoon until Saturday afternoon. Pretty hard. I'll spare the specifics to keep things nice, but we smoothed out saturday afternoon and finished out our companionship fine. He's staying in Yaruquí as District Leader and Trainer. Good luck. =)

I just remembered some things that I wanted to say. They hot sauce that they call Picante, is really good. You can put it on burgers, fries, or whatever. Although I have no idea what's in it. It's not very spicy, just a bit. And for mom or anyone that speaks spanish, here's a couple of words/slangs that they use here in Ecuador. Man (pronounced mon)= man. Bína= slang for thing. Chupa/chupos=suck, or sucky. Yeah I know you don't like it mom, but they use it here ;). I don't know if they use this in other places too, but chuta= shoot or dang. That's all I can think of for now. Oh, and to say bolsa is bad, normally it means bag but here it means something else....so we use funda instead =)

Holy cow I'm so sweaty right now....whew....It's good to hear that Hunter's doing well and that he's having spiritual experiences. Keep it up! I'll be updating all of you on the Ecuator next week and how my first week is here in the coast. If any of you have questions for me. Let me know! And about the card. I can activate it here. That would be better, safer and easier. And if Hunter's schedule is really repetive, it's just like mine was =). Hahaha! He's still in the MTC, sucker.....

Funny thing of the week: we talked with a lady. She's a Jehovah's Witness....whew....shudder. So for those of you who don't really know any of them they really stick to the Bible. They "prove" everything they say with the Bible. Almost if it doesn't say it in the Bible, you can't say it. Basically they're psychotic. So we were talking to her and her head is very thick and she doesn't understand anything. Then I told her that if she prayed, recieved and answer, and God told her that this church was true, would she be willing to change. Here is her good spirited Jehovah's Witness response,"Where does it say that in the Bible?" Face-palm...."You don't have to read the Bible! You have to PRAY!!", I told her. If you ever come across a Jehovah's Witness just say,"Oh you poor thing. God bless your lost soul". They're hopeless =)

Hasta Luego,

Elder Black

Monday, January 21, 2013


Sorry but this is ogoing to be really short. This week was really rough. We hardly taught anybody and nobody went to church. Also Ulpiano got drunk this week again and told his family to leave him alone and that his life is fine the way it is. Also none of the few investigators that we have attended church this week. Hrm....a hard week. One good thing though. Today for P-day we went to the ecuator. Woot! A little ray of sunshine in our crappy week. I'll send pictures and more stuff next week. 

Funny thing of the week: Nothing funny. Only crappiness. Cruel humor for those that like that kind of thing =)

Elder Black

Monday, January 14, 2013

Surprises and Disappointments

Hello once again my loyal readers. I have a surpise for all of you today....I have time to write! Yeah!!! Finally. So let's see....I didn't write last week, what happened....I guess I can start with our investigators. Fam. Chandi. We took some members with us to go teach Fam Chandi. We got there and only the wife was there. We started talking and whatnot and then she went to call her husband to see where he was. She sounded mad, she was saying stuff like,"Where are you?! The hermano's(brothers) are here and this is important too". I don't even know what. The whole time we were just sitting there listening to her yell at her husband. Then she got calmed down and we started the opening prayer. Right in the middle of the prayer her phone started ringing,"Oh excuse me...." then she went and answered her phone and started talking right in the middle of the prayer. The 4 of us didn't really know what to do. So we just sat there with our eyes closed and our arms folded until she was done. Once she sat back down we started the prayer over. The whole thing was kind of awkard lol. We taught them about the Day of Rest, hoping that they would understand the importance of church attendance and they would attend. That sunday we were really surprised to find out that when we got to church there they weren't.....Nobody attended that week....So sad =(

Also there is some good news, one investigator did attend actually. Ulpiano Saltos!!! We went to eat lunch with Fam Saltos on friday, like normal. When we walked in he was standing there...I was really surprised to see him there. For those of you who are wondering who the heck is Ulpiano Saltos and why is it so amazing that he was there. Well here you go. Long story short. Ulpiano's brother horribly died about 4 months ago and he took it really hard. He started drinking alot and even thought of taking his own life. So in order to have support from his family in this hard time he was staying here in our sector, he's from Guyaquil (a city in another mission in Ecuador). So he was here with his good mormon family and we started teaching him. He was doing great, keeping commitments and everything. All he needed was a baptismal interview and that's it. So hermana Saltos thought it would be nice if she invited his wife to his baptism. So she did. His wife was less than supportive she said that Ulpiano would never change, that he would be a drunk forever. Ulpiano didn't want to be baptized only to go back to an unsupportive wife. So he left for Guyaquil to settle things with her. He said he would come back, but for 2 months we didn't here anything of him. Not even him family here knew anything. And then one day out of the blue we saw him standing there in Fam Saltos's house like nothing happened. Pretty cool. Unfortunately we haven't had a chance to teach him again. We'll get on that soon =)

So that was basically the other week. The important stuff. Now this week. This week was lame lol. We had a bunch of visits fall through so we hardly taught anybody, and nobody attended church this week so all of their baptismal dates fell through......I honestly don't know what else we can do to get people to go to church. We bring members with us to visits so they have a friend in church, we teach them that it's a commandment, we call them every night of the week to remind them, everything.....and they still don't go. I don't get it. It's kind of frustrating. Darn agency....if we could take that away from them we would have tons of baptisms =)

The people that we have that had baptismal dates are Fam Chandi and Marcos Zambrano and his kids. I don't know if I wrote about Marcos yet....but a short summary of him is this; we contacted him in the street, he accepted baptism on the first visit, he keeps commitments and says that the things he reads are beautiful and wants his kids to be baptized with him too, his 2 kids (ages 11 and 12) both accepted baptism too, and he's divorced. He's a really good investigator, but like everybody here he works on sunday, so his baptismal date fell through and is postponed for at least another week. It stinks but that's how it is....

In all the darkness there is a small light. Hermana Zambrano (an old investigator) wanted to meet with us again. It had been about 2 1/2 months since the last visit by the way. When we got to her house we asked her if she had any questions for us. She said yes. Her question was this, she wanted to know how to better understand the scriptures and how to connect/relate what she read in the Bible with what she was reading in the Book of Mormon....Wow. Earlier she didn't even want to read the Book of Mormon because she "didn't understand", and now she's reading on her own and wants to learn more. Finally she's showing some progress. So we're going to start teaching her again as well. Hopefully it will go somewhere.

I would like to take a little bit of time to explain some of the members here. 2 in particular that are awesome. The first, Vinny Esteves, aka. the weirdo. Although he may be kind of weird and funny he's actually a really good member. He always wants to join us on visits, he invites neighbors to church and he wants to help all-around. And yesterday (sunday) he went and visited 3 families all on his own. One lives in Quinche (30 min away), Checa (15 min), and a member here in Yaruquí. He's not even assigned to visit them or anything, he just did it out of the goodness of his heart. An awesome member. He's also a convert of 8 months. Go Vinny! The other is our Ward Mission Leader. He's a convert too, but has been in the church a long time. His conversion came from an accident. He was severely electicuted and was in the the hospital for months. He was burned so badly that his ribs were exposed and he ended up losing both of his arms. In his diffitulties is when he started investigating the church and eventually converted. Now, even though he doesn't have arms welds for a living (he has simple mechanical arms that he puts on, but doesn't use them if he isn't working), and he's always happy and joins us on visits. Also, we were helping a member move this last week. Although he doesn't have arms he didn't use that as an excuse, he did what he could to help move. He put bags on top of his head and balanced it with his stub of an arm. A good example of a diligent member =)

To end I'll answer mom's questions and give the funny thing of the week. This week I'm a little discouraged because we didn't have so much success this week. But I'm going to get back up on my feet and work harder. Things with my companion are going normal, not great, not bad. I actually think he has fear or reluctancy to being obedient. One day for example. The goal that President Ghent is 20 contact per day. Normally that's really hard, but this one day we (mostly me) worked hard to get the 20 contacts. It was late and we had 19 contacts, only one more, and my companion,"I don't want to reach the goal. Sometimes you just can't reach it. Lets go home". More or less that's what he said. He didn't even want to take 2 minutes to contact 1 more person and meet the goal. He's also like that with a few other things. Kind of frustrating at times. But overall we're doing good. Yes we still have all of our meals cooked for us. Got my package. The chips are still good. Still delicious =). With my Christmas money I did get some things, I got a little speaker and a couple of card games. Yup I have everything I need and all of what I want too. Thanks =). 

Now, the funny thing of the week. Remember that I said that we had a bunch of visits fall through? Well one of them fell through because the investigator was late to the visit. Why? She was looking for a cow that had escaped....Lol. Pretty funny. We waited for her at her house for awhile and finally we saw her walking up the road. She told us that she was late because she was looking for her cow....

Well I think that's about it for this week. Oh, one last thing. I found a cook book of Ecuatoriano recipies. I'll try taking pictures of it and sending them to you.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Letter for Hunter

Sorry, I hardly have any time to write. I did want to write a personal letter to Hunter. I'll fill you all in on everything next week. You can post this on the blog too. It will help anybody preparing for a mission.


I'm not really sure where to start....Well I'll just start talking. Everyone says that the mission is the best 2 years of your life up to that point. That it's hard work but it's still the best 2 years. I'm here to tell you for sure that it is definately hard work. Some days you're tired all day, or you're sick, or you just don't want to do anything. And you still go out and work and teach everyday. You might be thinking, "how the heck is that the best 2 years?"Well its not the best 2 years because you are hanging out with friends and having fun all the time. The reason it's the best is because it's the most rewarding. You walk around sometimes all day without teaching anybody in the hot sun, you're hungry, tired, your feet hurt, and the numbers say you didn't do anything. But the thing that makes it worth it is when you find someone that wants to know the truth, that wants to change and follow God's will. That is rewarding. It's the moments when 1 person accepts a baptismal date, when you teach a good lesson, when you get a reference, the small things that make it good. 

Also remember some things. You always hear that you will have a companion that you don't like or you might have some stuggles. This is true. You will always find something in your companion that you don't like or that bugs you or whatever. But you still have to stick with him 24/7. Yeah sometimes it stinks, but you can't let your differences get in the way of your teaching. If you and your companion aren't getting along and fight, your investigators suffer the consequences because your teaching will suffer. It will suffer in that you won't be teaching with the Spirit and you won't be focused on ping-ponging the lesson with your companion. Your team will be divided into 2 separate people that can't work together. Pray for patience with your companions and that you can be humble enough to accept when you're wrong or humble enough to know when it's time to keep your mouth shut even though you know you're right and they want to keep arguing =). I too have problems with this sometimes. You just have to accept it. It stinks but that's how it is. 

Now the language. It's hard. There were people in the MTC who had 4 years of spanish classes in school and guess what, everyone else basically caught up to them in the 9 weeks in the MTC. If I have heard right you will only be in the MTC for 6 weeks. If that's true count your blessings =). It was like an eternity to me. You will be surprised at how much and how fast you learn in the MTC. The first week you can't even teach a lesson without reading it, by the end of the MTC you can teach a full lesson in Spanish. Not perfect, but you can easily teach a 40 minute lesson in spanish. Don't worry, you never have to talk for the whole lesson, the investigator does a lot of the talking too. One thing that will really help you is working on the verbs. Familiarize yourself with the differenct conjugations and when to use them. Buy the little yellow verb card in the copy center and study it when you can. Also, keep a little notebook and write down new words when you heard them and then look up the definitions later. And I know it's hard, but try and speak  as much spanish as possible in the MTC. It's not so fun, but I wish I did that more. You can study all you want, but nothing beats practicing. And pray for a companion that doesn't speak english (in the field), you will learn the language much faster that way. Something that my teacher in the MTC told me is that he saw more progress in the missionaries that study language that will help them teach the gospel as opposed to those that study general and normal conversational stuff. Keep that in mind. Also pray every day for the Gift of Tongues, even if you see lots of progress with "your own efforts". You and me, we both need God to be able to learn the language.

Studies. You have tons of time to study in the MTC. It's hard a lot of the time to focus and not get bored. But if you do it's okay. Have a little silent prayer and try to focus yourself again. A goal for you could be to start the Book of Mormon at the start of the MTC and finish by the time you leave. A good goal. And when you read a scripture that impacts you or you think that you can find some way to use it with an investigator, a member, anything, write it down in a little notebook. Write the reference, a line of what the scripture says so you can know what it says, and then why it impacted you. Your studies will be way better if you keep some sort of study journal or notebook. I'm not kidding....way better. You will feel the Spirit more and get more out of your reading. Also a fervent prayer before and after your studies. 

When you go procelyting/contacting, this really works and I testify to it. There's a part in How to find New People and there's a section that says "Hable con todos", or talk with everybody. Do it. Even if they look like a bumb or they don't want to hear. You never know. We have found more investigators doing this that anything else. Yeah you find lots of uninterested people, but you also find lots of interested people. Might seem lame but do it. It really works.

Also, write in your journal. Dad can tell you a million times to write in it, but know I'm telling you too. Even if you did nothing that day or you think you did nothing, at least write that you did nothing or write down that you studied all day or you didn't have any success in the contacts. Something. You might think you'll remember everything and you're wrong. I've already forgotten stuff that happened only a month or so ago. "Oh well that's Skylar and he forgets everything". Well, can you possibly think that you will regret writing in a journal every day? Nope. The opposite is true though. You will regret not writing everyday. (insert dad saying "exactly like I told you Hunter" and him saying that he regrets not writing in a journal). 

You will come across elder's who think that being perfectly obedient is lame and you are just a missionary robot (cajòn/drawer is the missionary term for the stict obedience robots). That you need to break some of the rules to have success. They don't know what they're talking about. I will be honest, at one time I thought that too. That You almost have to break the rules to have success. Well I thought of something one day. I can't imagine me asking God, "Do I have to keep all the rules no matter how dumb they are?" Oh no of course not, you just have to obey the ones you think are important. That doesn't sound right to me. We can also read in Genesis where Adam is offering sacrifices to the God. "Why are you offering sacrifices Adam?" I know not, save the Lord commanded me. This is how we should be in  the mission and out of the mission. There are some rules that seem dumb and they're just making up random stuff. Even if they are we're still asked to keep the rules. "Why are you obeying that dumb rule Elder?" I don't know. I only know that the mission President told me to. The mission president is called by God to lead your misison. So anything that he tells you is revelation or for your protection even if it seems dumb or harmless. Like my mission president told me,"If you're obedient you will see success, if you're perfectly obedient you will see miracles". 

Almost done. One thing that will help you in your teaching is this. No matter what lesson you teach, apply the "Gospel of Jesus Christ" at the end of every lesson. Once you've taught The Restoration, for example. Say something like,"Okay, now we'd like to talk about something very important, it is our principle message that we bring. It's how we can return to live with God". Then you teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a couple minutes and then invite them to baptism. This really brings the lesson into focus and even if your lesson was bad at the start you can save it if you do this at the end. Always apply the gospel to their lives and show them why they need the gospel. That they can't live without it. You can't apply the gospel to their lives if you don't know them and their needs. Read the section called How to Begin Teaching. This will help you teach most effectively, to the needs of your investigators.

Well that's it. I talked to an elder today and told him that you're leaving in 2 days for Costa Rica. He said that the people there are awesome and you'll love it. I can testify to you that if you put into practice what I said in this letter, your mission will never be bad or boring. I'm not anywhere near perfect and I'm improving everyday. I know that God is happy with you for being willing and worthy to serve a mission for 2 years of your life. Get as close as you can to the Savior on your mission. The mission is not only a time to convert others, but also to more fully convert yourself to the gospel. I've been in the church my whole life and I'm still a convert to the church and I'm more converted every day. Good luck of your mission and see ya in 2 years. 

Your Brother,