January, 2009

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Mosaic Plagues in Babahoyo

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

Hola familia!

How’s Monday treating you? I’m doing fine, all is well in Ecuador. We failed to have baptisms this week because one of the two started drinking coffee again and then her sister didn’t want to get baptized alone so we pretty much failed on that front for now. On Wednesday we went to Montalvo, a small city that is part of our sector but nobody ever goes to because it’s too far away, and we tried to open that up but we didn’t meet with a whole lot of success. They were all very suspicious of our intentions and some wouldn’t even tell us their names. Because the nearest chapel is 30 min away and the only way for us to have any success there would be to get enough members to open up a branch, I don’t think we will be continuing our work there. We just have way too much to do here and we would have to pretty much devote all our time to Montalvo. I’m going to talk to the president about getting Montalvo made into its own sector because it’s big enough to have its own set of missionaries and there is plenty to do.

As it turns out my companion is not the missionary king I thought he was. He is a good missionary but he doesn’t like to plan so I have gotten pretty good  with my planner and setting our weekly and daily goals (I know, me using a planner? weird) and all in all we are having a good amount of success. Honestly there isn’t much to tell you this week. My Spanish is still improving. I don’t have much of a language barrier with my new comp. My Spanish is still bad but it’s more understandable now. My English is starting to tank though. When you are surrounded by Latins all day you start using a Spanish grammar structure when you speak English and sometimes I say some pretty funny stuff when I’m talking to the gringo missionaries.

Oh yeah — we have a frog plague in town now. I think they came to eat the crickets. We really are seeing the mosaic plagues one by one here in Babahoyo. This worries me because the last plague kills all the first born sons. I happen to be a first born son. Could you send some lambs blood? They don’t have too many sheep here.

I got my pictures to upload this week. I only have a couple but they are pretty good. I hope all is well with you guys and that you survive another week, if only so that you can write me another letter. They are pretty entertaining after all.

Te quiero,

Elder Walke

Elder Walke in the Mud

Monday, January 19th, 2009

Hola familia!

Another Monday another email, ok here it goes. Things are going well with my new companion, as predicted I’m more of a zone leader than ever but its ok, I’m getting pretty good at this whole zone leader thing. My presentation on a stake mission plan went well. I kept it simple; its pretty much just a rehash of what you guys said. The focus is on families getting energized to help the missionaries teach more and on finding and teaching part member families.

I guess I forgot to tell you who left the zone: we lost Elder Fuentemávida, Elder Janampa, and Elder Cabezas and we gained Elder Alferez, Elder Frye, and Elder Cespedes. Elder Frye actually entered the MTC the same day as me but his Spanish is way better so he was in the MTC for a much shorter period of time than me. It’s raining a lot more these days; we have had a few good Texas rainstorms since I talked to you last. The first really good rainstorm was Tuesday. It started after we had left the house and we didn’t want to go back for our umbrellas so we did without. Naturally we were soaking wet all day and at one point we had to cross a small river running across one of the dirt (now mud) roads and to get across we had to use a rather slick muddy island in the middle of the stream. My companion got across OK but I slipped and stuck one of my feet about 6 to 8 inches down in the mud. We had way too many appointments to go back and change without dropping someone so I walked around the rest of the day with a shoe full of mud. Other than that there isn’t much to say about the rain. It’s not as bad as I thought it would be. Although I did learn that the umbrella I took to Ecuador is a piece of junk because it’s already completely broken so I have to buy a new one today.

Things are going great with my new companion; I’m learning tons about efficiency with him. We pretty much have a new program with a ton of new people in our teaching pool. We even set a couple of baptism dates for next week that we never would have gotten if I was still working with Elder Fuentemávida. So I’m pretty happy with the way things are going right now. We are finally making some headway with our ward. Before it was hard to get much done because the bishop doesn’t want to have anything to do with us because he doesn’t have much faith in the missionaries, and the rest of the ward is pretty unreliable for anything. But now we are making some serious progress with the bishop and getting the ward members to help us find and teach part member families and we are making progress with getting the ward missionaries to fulfill their callings as well. Next week we are going to work on the new ward mission plan for 2009.

Gammy said something in her letter that caught my eye; they are selling their house and going on a mission? When did that happen? Maybe they will end up in Ecuador. That would be weird. To answer mom’s questions, if we are sick enough to see a doctor we make the trek down to Guayaquil and visit the mission doctor — unless it’s an emergency, then we just go to the hospital or something. Yeah I’m over the sickness I talked about in my last email. It was just some sort of flu type thing. The people I have baptized are doing well. They are all pretty active for the most part. Pablo blessed the sacrament yesterday for the first time so that was pretty exciting. The stake has set “goals for baptism” which is really just code for quotas, which is very against the rules and they are not supposed to do it — but they did anyway — and for our ward/sector we are supposed to get 16 baptisms in the first three months of this year. It will be interesting to see if we get there or not because January is almost over and it looks like we will still need 13 more in February and March (Pablo was Jan 3 and we have 2 more Jan 23). I think we may be able to make our “quota” though because my companion has a pretty good grasp of how to work smart. He’s a pretty goofy guy and he’s a lot of fun so it looks like we should have a good change. I’m hoping I don’t get transferred at the end of this change because things are going well here but I have a feeling that it’s my turn to go. At least I won’t have to be zone leader in my next sector. Anyway take care and stay healthy. Oh yeah and I’m uploading some pictures. One of my feet after a hard days work in the rain and one of me getting ready for the day. As you can see, I’m getting pretty good at it. It’s almost like there are three of me! lol

Te quiero,

Elder Walke

Tyler’s New Companion - Elder Alferez

Monday, January 12th, 2009

Hola familia!

Happy Monday!!! Yes I know it’s hard to believe that we have reached another Monday but here we are and here’s the news from Babahoyo. I guess I wasn’t clear in my last letter but Elder Fuentemavida is not going home quite yet; he still has 2 exchanges left (about 2 1/2) months. I do however have a new companion! His name is Elder Alferez and, as you may have guessed, he is a Latin. He is from Peru and he seems pretty cool. Elder Fuentemávida got called to be assistant [to the president], so Sunday afternoon we had to go to Guayaquil again so that he could start learning all the stuff he needs to learn. I feel bad for him because he is filling the position that Elder Bryan is leaving vacant (Elder Bryan met his parents at their hotel today and he is a machine, really!). I have never met a more perfect missionary. So Elder Fuentemávida has a lot on his plate. Anyway, I spent Sunday night working with Elder Bryan for his last night in the field while Elder Fuentemávida trained with his new comp, Elder Russon, and then today I picked up Elder Alferez at the bus station (which I will hereafter refer to as the “terminal”) and we headed back to Babahoyo. He is a pretty cool guy but he has never been a zone leader before, so because I know more about being a zone leader than he does, they asked me to train him as a zone leader as I’m training him in our sector. Whenever we have transfers the older missionary in the sector is called the “trainer” but he does have a lot more time than me in the mission so don’t get too confused.

I just turned around and took a picture of Elder Alferez and I will upload that and some other pictures of my sector now for your viewing pleasure. All of the pictures are from Porta Negra (6 total and one of my comp). In the first picture there is a small brick building next to the house–guess what it’s for? The rest is just pictures of houses and me with some pigs.

To answer your question about whether I dream in Spanish or not, I can honestly say that I have no idea. I’m always pretty tired when I go to bed and when I wake up I don’t remember a thing. I know I’m having dreams, I just can’t tell you what they are about.

The crickets have died down somewhat. I’m not sure why they are going away but I’m not sad about it. The rain, on the other hand, is not going away. We are getting noticeably more rain and it’s coming more and more frequently. By next week we will probably be flooded. I don’t think it would be such a big deal if they had a drainage system like Houston, but they don’t have one, not even in Guayaquil. It’s not a big deal, though, because the rain is already almost a month late, so I don’t think we will have too strong of a rainy season this year, and who knows, maybe next year I will be somewhere dry?

It’s funny that mom thinks that the time is going by slow because every night I lay in bed and try to figure out where our day went. It all goes by so fast now I hardly have time to think. Not having mamitas is interesting. The food is definitely not as high a quality as it was with the mamitas, and we don’t typically get as much to eat for lunch. But it’s not so bad. Oh and that reminds me. Remember last week when I told you I slept in on Thursday because of the party? Well, it wasn’t because of the party. They have those all the time and we just grumble and go to work. I was sick all that week with some virus or something and Thursday it finally caught up to me and knocked me down. I’m all better now though so don’t worry about it. It actually turned out to not be so bad because we didn’t have any appointments that day and if I hadn’t been sick I don’t know what we would have done.

A few days ago we were walking down the street and some old ladies started yelling at us “repent sinners, repent!” We started laughing so hard after we got past them and I was thinking about how mom asked me if anyone had ever called me to repentance a couple of weeks ago. Well now I can say that they have.

Thanks for all your help with the stake mission plan. Tell gammy that her input was helpful and I don’t have the meeting until tomorrow, so I can use it as part of my plan. It’s a pretty simple plan and isn’t too different from what you guys suggested–in case you are wondering.

That is interesting that L. Tom Perry is coming to talk about members working with the missionaries more. In the MTC they were talking about how they were pushing that a lot more now. I am pretty familiar with the area book by the way. That whole thing about recording references in the area book isn’t new. They have been doing it since Preach My Gospel came out. Tell Tom I said “Hi”. Did I ever tell you that I met him once? We go way back.

You never mentioned that Andrea has an invisible friend before! That’s hilarious. When did she meet this friend? Have you ever asked to meet Emily? I want to hear more about this Emily character. She sounds like trouble if she is throwing stuff all over the kitchen floor like that.

Why did they plant rye grass in the neighborhood? That’s weird. Take a picture for me.

I agree that now is the perfect time for dad to realize his “fly fishing tour guide” dream. In fact, I think it could be the next bubble. Our economy clearly needs to have a bubble in order to function these days, so I think you should create a company, sell some stock, and start guiding some fly fishers! Sounds bona fide to me–lets do it. In your ads you could say, “Hi I’m Wade Walke,” and then say something about having both walking and wading tours available. It would be awesome. Anyway–that’s all for now. Have a good week and stay safe!

Te quiero,
Elder Walke

New Year’s Report From Babahoyo

Tuesday, January 6th, 2009

Hola familia!

Ok so here is my New Year’s report–not much of interest happened on Tuesday; we went to all of our investigators and taught as many as possible (mostly about the word of wisdom) because teaching on Wednesday or Thursday was not something we anticipated as likely. Wednesday we had our usual district meeting and not much else. It was fun though because the church where we normally hold our meetings is in central, and so I got to see all of the preparations for the fiestas in full swing. A lot of the kids had already started their parties and were setting off an incredible amount of fireworks. The fireworks are a bit different here because for the most part they only have noisy fireworks (think black cats), so walking thru the city it felt like I was in the middle of a war zone. Then one of the kids decided to light an año viejo early and, as it turns out, they fill those things with fireworks. I was not informed of this and as we walked by, the dang thing started blowing up. They do not put small fireworks in them either; it was kind of like an artillery shell but without the colored lights. I don’t know if you have ever had several artillery shells explode five feet away from you, but it can be a little surprising. It was so powerful that car alarms down the street started to go off. There is not much to say about the rest of the day because we didn’t do a whole lot. Nobody wanted to talk to us because of all the New Year’s stuff, so we didn’t have much to do.

Wednesday night was interesting though. I didn’t see any año viejos go off but I wasn’t too disappointed about that. I had seen enough already. I did hear plenty of fireworks go off and by midnight it sounded like a war zone with tanks and all. After that I thought I would finally be able to get some sleep because the fireworks stopped pretty quickly after midnight but at about 12:30, a massive party started up behind our house. We have this large concrete pad behind our house that some people own and rent out for parties and such, and at times it can be annoying but this was a party to end all parties. The music was so loud it shook the whole house and there must have been three hundred people crammed on this pad. I can’t tell you how many gallons of alcohol were there but they had enough to keep everybody very drunk for a long time. Needless to say I did not get a good night’s rest. At about four in the morning I was laying there thinking to myself, “There is no way they are still dancing. I bet they just forgot to turn the music off and there are just a few drunk people passed out on the ground.” So I got up to verify my theory and to my surprise there were three hundred drunk people dancing and drinking. I’m not sure how they did it but they danced all night and didn’t stop until just after seven in the morning. I can’t even find it in myself to be mad at them, I’m just impressed. They drank and danced all night and they managed to not get alcohol poisoning or even pass out. I don’t know how they did it but my hat is off to the drunks of Ecuador who managed to party my entire night away.

So Thursday we spent a few hours sleeping because I think I got about an hour the night before and I was feeling pretty tired. The rest of the day was pretty much just a repeat of Wednesday but instead of nobody being able to meet because they were getting ready for parties, everyone was too tired to care that we were there. So that was my New Year’s experience, and now I’m in what the missionaries call my “black out year” because its the year where I get to black out every day on the calendar.

Oh and I now agree with Elder Mitton about the crickets. Moses is in town and somebody ticked him off because we have more crickets than I have seen since that Hotel 6 experience all those years ago. I’m not sure where they are all coming from but I wish they would go back because they are starting to be a pain in the neck. We spent several hours cleaning them out of the church on Saturday because otherwise there would have been a million crickets in the church for the baptism and for church Sunday. At first it was difficult because they did not want to get into the garbage bag. They were pretty insistent that they be allowed to remain and hop around the church. Eventually I figured out that if I used my broom to do a sort of “cricket slap shot” into the wall, they would be stunned enough for me to sweep them into the bag without any problems.

So, as I have already mentioned, we did have a baptism that night. We baptized Pablo without any major problems and he was confirmed Sunday. It was pretty awesome because he is the first person that I have taught start to finish that has gotten baptized. I’m uploading some pictures from the baptism, along with a picture of the church so mom can stop bugging me about that, and also a picture of me with some ducks for Andrea. I figured she would get a kick out of it.

Sunday we had a meeting with the stake president and the bishops and I was feeling pretty good about myself because I was able to keep up and I knew what was going on, and then the stake president starts talking about how he wanted to have a stake mission plan. I thought that sounded interesting and I was wondering how that would work at the stake level because usually people only have ward mission plans. Then he turns to me and says “Elder Walke, Elder Fuentemávida is leaving next week so why don’t you write the stake mission plan and present it next Tuesday?” AH! I don’t know who these people think I am but I have no idea what a good ward mission plan looks like, much less what to do for a stake mission plan. Its all slightly frustrating because I’m fairly certain that I have been asked to successfully complete an impossible task with little real value because most wards already have a mission plan. So if anybody has any input on what a stake mission plan looks like, tell me this week because I have one p-day before the meeting. Well that’s all for now, I hope your holiday season was great and I will talk to you next week.

Te quiero,
Elder Walke