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, March 25, 2013

15 New Investigators this Week!

Hello (don't you always like how I start with "hello"?),

This week was a pretty solid week. We didn't have any baptisms this past week but we have 6 baptisms planned for this next week that are for sure. Ready to go and another possible one. 5 of the 6 belong to Family Barreto. They all went to church this week so we're going to call our mission president to see if we can get special permission to baptize them even though not all of them have 2 assistances

The other person that we have planned is named Adriàn. He has been going to church for 2 and a half years now and hasn't been able to get baptized because he couldn't get permission from his mom. But he has just turned 18 and now it doesn't matter what his mom says =). He's super excited to get baptized. He knows everything and has a strong testimony. So prepared. 

We found 15 new investigators this week! Well, to get 15 new people we did basically nothing =). We went to visits like normal and family and friends are sitting in there and want to listen. The Lord just keeps putting people right in our path. We never even have to contact. References, references, references. As far as finding people to teach El Carmen is a dream come true. 

9 of our new investigators live together. 2 families in total. They all accepted a baptismal date and they all have desires. They were practically begging us to baptize them lol. Their date fell because of the church assistance. Some of them went at 9:00 and the other ones said that they would come at 10:00. They did but they said that they felt kind of awkward going into a church that they don't know. So they didn't lol. They promised us that they would go next week. I'm pretty confident that they will. 

Also, here are a few pictures of the trail that goes into that finca that I talked about last week. We went over hills, crossed rivers and everything inbetween. It was quite an adventure just to get to one visit. 

Well that's the bulk of what happened here this week. A pretty good solid week. We're trying to work with all these families lots but it's kind of hard since we have to many people. Luckliy the fact that they're families and they live together makes it a little easier.

Congrats on the science fair Katarina, even though you didn't want it =). That's kind of funny. Here are a few more pictures and the funny thing of the week. 

Funny thing of the week: I think the funniest thing of the week was when we went to that visit in the finca. At the start we took a way that we didn't take the first time and I asked Gretti (the girl that was guiding us) if she was sure that that was the right path. She said,"Trust in me Elder Black". Okay.....so we headed off on the trial and we hit a fork and she said,"Uh....I don't remember this part". This is why I doubted her lol. Needless to say we took a very long route. We walked up steep hills, crossed through rivers on bamboo poles walked through mud and all sorts of stuff. I rubbed the fact that she didn't know where she was going in her face =)

Also here's a little clip from Elder LeBaron's (my last companion) email to his family. It's pretty cool =)

Christ in The Americas-I would like to tell you a little bit about our Plaza Activity that took place last Saturday in a park. (Which we put up a bunch of posters that had different questions and pictures on it) It was so awesome, right when we started putting up a poster a couple that was standing on the other side of the street looked over at us so we called them over and we were able to teach them all of lesson one and give them a Book of Mormon right there. Also a couple elders were able to invite two people to baptism and they accepted it. An experience that Elder Maldonado and I had was we saw an older indigenous lady looking at the sign that said, "Did you know that Christ visited the Americas?" We asked her if she knew that he came and she said the following, "I did know that he came" My companion and I were quite astonished to hear her say that so we asked her how she knew that he came. She said, “My great ancestors told me of a time when they were planting seeds and it was the time of a great destruction (like in the picture of Christ in the Americas she said). As they were planting a white man came down from the heavens and talked to them, and also said to keep planting and if they had faith it would grow, and that on the morrow he would come back. My ancestors and those that were there went around running to tell all of what had happened and some believed and others were unsure. But my ancestors told them that Christ promised that he would come back the next day. He came back the next day and continued to talk with them." I couldn’t believe what she had just said! She pretty much quoted 3 Nephi and we asked for her name and number and said that we could come by. She is not in my sector but i will want to be asking about what happened to her. I know that without a doubt if she reads the Book of Mormon she will know it is true just by reading 3 Nephi 11. I love this work and most of all being here in Ecuador having the privilege to work with direct descendants from the Lamanites and all in all the children of our Heavenly Father that are lost. I love this work and i know that it is true without a doubt!!!!!

Monday, March 18, 2013

It's My Birthday and 8 Months out in the Field!

Hello again, 

Guess who's birthday it is!? And guess who has 8 months in the mission?! Yup that's right. Me. Oh yeah =). This week was an alright week. I don't know why but this week we had lots of fallen visits. 

First off, Fam Rodriguez. I don't know if I mentioned this last week, but we've nicknamed Sanì, "The Philosopher". We go in to his tienda (corner store) to teach him and with 1 word he just goes off. He had a question about baptism and what the difference is between a baptism in our church and all the other churches. So we read some stuff in 3 Nephi,"Having been commissioned of Jesus Christ I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost". We talked about that for 30 minutes."But Father isn't a name. So what's the name?" No Sanì the prayer is a phase that you say all at once. You don't actually baptize them in the literal name of the Father. We went off forever. He's very had to control. He always has a bazillion comments/questions. He does say some good stuff though. We talked about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that first you need faith, then repent and then be baptized. Then we talked about how baptism is the door to the path to the kingdom of God."Oh...if baptism is the door then that makes repentance the key to the door". He has his moments. Most of the "lesson" revolves around his philosophying lol. 

Next up we went to a reference's house. They live a little far away in a place called a "finca", basically in the middle of the jungle/banana plantation. We began our journey in what we call the "monkey train". Monkey train because it takes all the monkeys(the ecuadorians) to where all the bananas are. It's that picture where all of us are sitting on those bench things. The 3 girls are members in the ward here and are friends of the references. So we were in the monkey train for about 30 minutes and then we got to all of that green, hilly, tree stuff that it the other pictures. Pretty cool trip. After a little we got to our stop. Luckily right when we got down it started raining really hard. Also the trail(not even a dirt road) was really muddy and it was hard to walk on. After 15 minutes of walking we finally got there. Basically all we had time to do was give 2 Blessings of Health to 2 crazy old people that don't respond to anything. One of them takes his clothes off and tries to leave the house naked. Yup. They're crazy. We set up another visit to come back next week. One of the 4 of them I think will progress well. Hopefully =)

Quick side note, Eulaulia is doing good now =). Strong as an ox

We've also started working with a less active member of the family that is sitting in the monkey train with us. His name is Wilson. Not sure if I've talked about him yet....Anyways, he's been less active for about 12 years now and he's been having a drinking problem. We went over one day not even thinking anything of it. Normally he's just there chilling and never really says anything to the missionaries. This time he asked us,"How hard is it for a less active member like me to get back into the church?". We shared a scripture in Moroni about that we'll always be forgiven. He started crying. That scripture really hit him. To sum it up we came back few times and set a bunch of goals for him and gave him a priesthood blessing. He's excited and doing awesome. 

Fam Barreto.....doing good. Still progressing and keeing commitments. They all went to church this week too....except the mom....She's pretty timid and I think that's why she didn't go. Her husband told me that she didn't want to go this week, but that she would come next week. Since she didn't go this week we don't know if they'll be able to get baptized this month.....egh...We'll see what happens. I send our mission president asking him what we should do with them. Hopefully they can get baptized this month and won't have to wait another week. We'll just see what President says.

This sunday we also met 2 people that have a bunch of assistances and want to get baptized. One has been going to church for 3 years and hasn't been able to get baptized because he couldn't get permission from him parents. Now he's 18 and it doesn't matter what his parents say and he's going to be baptized this month =). You might be wondering how we "meet" people that have a bunch of assistances and want to get baptized. Well, it happens a lot here. I'm still pretty new here and I don't know everybody. When people are in church every sunday I assume that they're members. Not always the case. So basically golden investigators fall right into our hands =). Awesome. 

Another random side note. In his last area, my companion was teaching a man. He was keeping commitments and going to church. Seemingly golden. They had the baptismal interview and then the Elder that was conducting the interview walked out all white. He said that in the interview the man had told him that he was a bounty hunter and that he had killed more people than he can count. The called President Ghent (president of the mission) to see what they should do. It ended up going all the way up the the Quorum of the Twelve. They wrote back and said that he just needs to wait until the Second Coming and hope that Christ saves him personally....wow... what an experience.

Couple of random things about my sector, El Carmen. Almost none of the women shave their legs and lots don't shave their pits either. Lots of people here have only a few teeth and the few that they have are rotting. Very few people here are married. If a girl hasn't...done it until she's 18 that is considered an accomplishment. It rains a ton here, sometimes all day and all night, there are murders here every day. Last night I heard 6 gunshots. The costal accent is really hard to understand sometimes, sometimes not even my companion can understand. Lots of people live in bamboo houses and most everyone has a metal roof. And most of all it's awesome here =)

That's about it for this week. To answer and couple of questions; no I have not gotten the packages or letters, you send plenty of packages. I'll probably end the mission with a record number of packages =), yes I've made withdrawls lately, those are mine, and thanks a ton for the music! So awesome. The only bad thing is that I won't be able to listen to it until April. There's a rule in the mission that we can't listen to music during febuary and march. We're making sacrifices in the mission to be able to have success in these 2 months. So in 2 weeks I'll be able to listen to it. One more thing. I realized this week that on Mother's Day we'll be able to have a 3 way conversation between me, all of you and Hunter. We'll all be able to talk in spanish to eachother and laugh at how different our spanish is =). You better practice mom. I bet you sound like a gringa since you haven't been practicing much =)

Funny thing of the week: friday morning we were going around with the bishop to get to know some houses of less actives. We walked out of one of the houses and started going down a hill. I looked to my left and saw a strange sight....A fat lady of about 35 years. That's not the weird part. She had half of a hollowed out watermelon on her head, like a helmet, a towel around her neck like a cape, and to top it all off, a machete in her left hand......what the heck lol!? Pretty funny to see. Only in Ecuador. 

Peace out,

Elder Black

Monday, March 11, 2013

Lots of Work to Do


Sounds like everyone at home is doing pretty good with everything. Dad sound busy and looks skinny. You should go workout =). I hope everything with your businesses is going well. It all sounds promising. How's the Princess Festival doing? Any progress with that? It's so great to hear that if you both die I'm in charge of the family. Yeah! Be sure to leave me lots of money lol. Just kidding. 

So this week.....I never know where to start with these letters. My mind has a bunch of random, unconnected thoughts. I guess I'll just start spewing them out at all of you =).

First off, this past monday we went in to teach Carlos Barreto like normal, but after we sat down his brother and his family (his wife and 4 kids) walked into the room and sat down.....Sweet! New investigators that come to us. A dream come true for a missionary. So we got to know them and we found out that they were investigating the church a year and a half ago and they ended up turning down the missionaries and didn't accept a baptismal date. We taught them all the Plan of Salvation and then invited them all to baptism (5 in total that can be baptized) and they said "yes" without any hesitation. They said that there's always a second chance to accept the gospel......yeah there is! They're pretty awesome. They've been keeping commitments (reading pamphlets and the Book of Mormon and praying). They're pretty excited for their baptism this month. They even went to Carlos' baptism as well. The sad thing is that only 2 of them went to church so their baptismal date will be pushed back a week to the March 30. The dad and one of his son's were working or something. But I guess that's how it is sometimes. Can't have everything. We'll definately be teaching them the Day of Rest this week =). 

On tuesday we went contacting in the morning. We left the house and didn't really know where we should contact, so we prayed to know where. We both felt that we should go in the same direction. So we did. We ended up contacting 22 people within an hour (that's pretty good by the way) and made 4 visits for later. After we left that area and had "finished contacting", my companion and I were walking down a street that we always walk down. Out of nowhere he said,"There's a lot of houses here, let's contact this house". Okay...so we did. We hardly had to say anything in the contact, he just wanted us to come in lol. His name is Rimber and he's about 23 years old. We got to know him a little and found out that his dad just died 10 months ago and their family was still struggling a bit. We started with a prayer and begun to teach him the Plan of Salvation. He's pretty sharp (not to insult the people here in the coast, but most of the times they're not so bright lol) and understood everything. He also had some good insights. Afterwards we invited him to baptism and he accepted it easily. I know that the Lord guided us to that house and prompted my companion to knock on that door. We walk by that house all the time and we never knew that someone was in there just waiting to hear us. Unfortunately we were never able to find him in his house again after that. We're going to keep trying to find him. He's just too golden. 

This thursday we had Carlos' baptismal interview. Elder Ospina, a missionary from nearby Santo Domingo, held the interview. He said that Carlos is "preparadìsimo", or really prepared. After the interview I asked Carlos who he wanted to have baptize him. He choose me. Not really sure why, but cool anyway. The baptism went great. After the baptismal ordinance Carlos shared his testimony with everyone there. You could really tell that he was a changed person (he used to smoke and drink a lot), and that he wanted to obey the commandments and become closer to the Lord. A great baptism, but most of all, a great convert.

Sarita and Kleber....we're not really sure how they're doing....Sarita's doing great but Kleber is a mystery. Every time we go to visit them Kleber isn't there. Always gone working. Also one night some of his friends came over to his house and Kleber didn't sleep in his house that night. Hopefully he didn't go out drinking...They didn't go to church either =(

Update on Eulaulia. She's doing alright with her family situation, but she's starting to get sick more and more often. She washes a lot of clothes by hand for a lot of people. The cold water and all the effort is taking a toll on her body. This sunday in the middle of a class she said that she was having a hard time breathing because of some back pain. She seemed a little scared. We took her into the bishop's office and he gave her a blessing. In the middle of the blessing she got what I think is a Charlie Horse in her foot and calve. She was in pain. Luckily there was a sister member of the ward (one of her friends) in the bishops office and rubbed it out. Needless to say Eulaulia isn't going to be washing our clothes much anymore. She'll still want to, but we're not going to let her. She always says that we're like sons to her and that a mother has to take care of her sons and not the other way around. But I don't care. She's not going to touch my clothes =). 

Sorry, but the pictures that you sent me didn't come through Dad. The pictures that you sent in the letter to me and Hunter with the water filter and stuff =(. Also in that package you sent me earlier not all of Katarina's talk got through. I'm missing some stuff. So if you could send it to me through email that would be awesome =)

Well...can't really think of much else for this week. Things here are just going great. There's a ton of work to do here and we don't know how to do it all. A good thing for a missionary =). We're continually trying to improve all the time. I guess I'll finish off by answering some questions along with the funny thing of the week. The mission....is more or less what I thought/dreamt it would be. All of the specific experiences I could have never imagined. But it's awesome. A great experience. Souveniers...No I haven't really bought any yet. There's an area of our mission that is known for it's souveniers. So I'm waiting until I'm in that area or close to it so I can buy a bunch of stuff. From Florida, yes, a hat =). Hats, hats, hats. If any of you that are reading this letter goes somewhere, buy me a souvenier hat =). No I will not pay you back. You'll just have the satisfaction knowing that you did something nice for someone else. Isn't that better that money? My back is getting better. I'm getting better at doing excercises and that's helping me lots. My rash/fungus/I don't even know what went away. I still don't even know what it was. The nurse of our misson thinks it might have been a hookworm. But I don't know. I don't think it was, so don't worry mom =). My ear is better as well. I can hear!

Funny thing of the week: that tuesday when we were contacting and found Rimber we also found a strange person.....We were walking around and we saw this guy with a beard and a really old Nikon camera. Basically looked like a hippy. My companion though,"Hey, he's here. Let's contact him. Why not". So we did. Even my companion had a really hard time understanding him and I only picked out a few words. He had a really heavy coastal accent. He said that he's the owner of Ecuador and then he said,"I need to take a picture of my eye like this!". Then he put the camera lens right in his eye. This guy was a nut. I know that God loves all of his children but, some of them are a weirder than others. So we got the heck out of there lol. And no, he wasn't drunk, just naturally mental. That was one weird dude...

Here's a couple pictures of the baptism. There's Carlos, his dad Jesus, and Carlos' brother and his family. The other bigger guy is one of Carlos' other brother and also wants to start listening to us now. And there's me with a parrot!

See ya later. 

Peace out, 

Elder Black

Monday, March 4, 2013

Everything Happens for a Reason!

Good afternoon meatbags,

This is going to be super short since I have 0 time left. This week was pretty good. Me and my new companion get along just fine and we had lots of good success this week. We found 2 new families and 11 new investigators. Pretty awesome. Also, I don't know if you remember, but Eulaulia has a son in law named Jasmani or Kleber. He was flipping crazy. He threatened to kill Eulaulia, held a knife up to his wife and a bunch of other stuff. He got sent to jail and then got out 1 week later. This week me and my companion were at their house teaching them (his wife Sarita wants to get baptized) and then Kleber started getting all emotional because Eulaulia started talking abou how he smokes and drinks too much. He's just gotten sick of hearing that from here and was to the point of tears (he's 22 by the way). He left the room and we finished the lesson. Afterwards my companion walked up to him and bent down to eye level (Kleber was sitting on a bed). More or less my companion, Elder Lopez said some inspiring words of we're here to help you or something like that, I didn't hear. We then set up an appointment for another day. 2 days later Eulaulia came by to wash our clothes again and she asked us why we didn't go over to Sarita's house. She said that Kleber wanted to give us dinner and that they had everything there waiting for us last night. She also said that the words of Elder Lopez were so sincere and that now he wanted to changed and walk in the path of God. Also, one of his friends went by his house and said,"Hey Kleber lets go drinking!". Kleber would have normally said yes, but he said that he was reading the scriptures and changing his life now. Tldr(too long, didn't read), he's doing a lot better right now =). Me and Elder LeBaron had given up on that wacko, but I guess all he needed was a little lovin'. 

The last cool experience of the week. So this saturday we had a bunch of fallen visits. First Fam Rodriguez and then Fam Zambrano. Right after Fam Zambrano's house we were going to go over to Oscar's and Karina's house (by the way they changed houses). We were over at Fam Zambrano's house and had just found out that they weren't there. Then, randomly, Nora's sister walked up to us and said that Beatrice (Cristobal's mom) needed to talk to us, that there was an emergency, so we went over to see what happened. She told us that where Karina and Oscar live there are a bunch of drug addicts and they said the next time we go over there they're going to assault us. They wanted to because we carry backpacks and they think we have money, lol. Not. So she told us not to go over there to we wouldn't get robbed. At that moment I realized that if those 2 visits hadn't fallen though we wouldn't have been there in that spot in that moment to find Nora's sister walking by. It added to my testimony that the Lord protects his missionaries, but we have to do our part by being worthy as well. Also that even though we don't know why things happen, fallen visits for example, that everything happens for a reason even though we might not be able to recognize it until later. 

Also this week I had a dream that half-way through my mission I got called to Germany. So if I get changed to Germany know that I prophesied it!

Funny thing of the week: no time to think or write it. Sorry. Haha =)

Sounds like things back home are going good. And mom, I'm not training =) 

Uh.....yeah. I can't think of anything else. 


Elder Black