April, 2009

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A Trio of Elders

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

¡Hola familia!

Wow was that a stressful week. And what’s worse is that I just found out none of my letters seem to be reaching their destinations. Please tell all of the people that wrote me letters and didn’t get a response that I really did write them back. That’s really irritating. I was wondering why nobody would ever write me back. Geez that’s annoying.

I had not heard about the swine flu at all but it doesn’t sound good. If it ever makes its way down here it will probably become a serious problem because there are only two good hospitals that I know of and they are both in Guayaquil. So if something big hits there is no way they will be able to help much; not that many people could possibly afford either of the two.

Well onward with the letter. There’s nothing I can do about that anyway. First off, Elder Martinez is fine. He is back in Babahoyo for now but tomorrow he has to go to Guayaquil and find out if he needs to get surgery because he can only breathe out of one part of his nose right now. I can’t remember the medical term for what’s wrong with him because they told it to me in Spanish, “r” something I think. Meh. The important thing is that I understood when they were talking about what was wrong. Elder Cruz is still hanging around as well. We are a trio until the end of the change. Remember that activity I told you about before—that we had Friday? Yeah it was a flop. The bishop didn’t announce it Sunday because we were not around to remind him (we were in Guayaquil at the time). I figured I could make up for it by printing a lot of invitations up and talking to all the members about it; so I spent a couple days doing that but in the end only about 40 people showed up and they were all members of the church. So it was basically a complete failure.

Thursday we had the zone conference and that went pretty well. They are never really exciting. As it turns out knowing Spanish really has not helped me stay awake. They are just as boring when you know what’s going on. President Gamboa thanked me for everything I did for Elder Martinez. I didn’t do much but he seems to think otherwise.

Saturday we had more baptisms. Two kids that slipped though the cracks and never got baptized at age eight, and a guy named Galo Reyes. He’s 25 and tried to get baptized before but he was living with a girl and couldn’t get married because, guess what? He needed a divorce. Getting a divorce is pretty much impossible here; it can take up to 6 years. So the missionaries had stopped teaching him about a year ago, but we found him in our area book so we went and visited him. As it turned out he had split up with the girl a few months ago, so there was nothing stopping him from getting baptized. He still needs to get divorced if he ever wants to get married, but he met the requirements for baptism. We went to the primary on Sunday and asked all the kids if they were baptized or not and then afterwards we checked the computer system and we officially have no active members over the age of 8 who are not baptized.

In case you are wondering why my email is coming so late in the day, it’s because Elder Martinez still likes to clean. Before I thought that we were just doing so much cleaning because the house was sort of not very clean, but that wasn’t it. He really really likes to clean. It’s starting to bug me because I really really don’t like to clean. He claims I will feel better once everything is all pretty and perfect, but in reality I just feel slightly annoyed and hungry. (We don’t finish until 1:30ish). Elder Cruz is a cool guy, he’s very laid back but he still works hard. He’s probably my favorite companion so far. He and his family were baptized when he was 15.

Well that’s pretty much it. It wasn’t a big news week I’m afraid—stressful but uninteresting. I think for Mother’s Day we will be doing the same thing that we did for Christmas; just tell me what time you want to call. I don’t know if I’m going to make the deadline for the “maestro”. I still have 8 more scriptures and The Proclamation to go and only 2 weeks to finish it all.

Talk to you soon, stay safe and stuff.

Te quiero,

Elder Walke

Elder Martinez Meets with a Motorcycle

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

¡Hola familia!

Wow. I have got some stories for you guys this week. I am going to switch things up a bit and answer all of the questions from your emails and stuff first because once I get started on my week I’m not going to be able to talk about much else. First off I want to set the record straight. I still hate cleaning. Dad seems a bit confused about that so I just want it to be known that if there were two of me in the house, much less cleaning would get done. I don’t have a good excuse for the planning sessions though. I don’t enjoy them but I do have them.

I am slightly surprised to hear that Buffy the vampire slayer is still hanging around even after having several accidents in the house. She [mom] must really like that dog. Or maybe she has just gone really crazy.

I’m not around to make fun of Kayla right now so if you guys could dance around her and sing, “Kayla’s got a boy friend, Kayla’s got a boy friend,” a couple times a day, I would appreciate it.

I’m not really studying anything specific right now. I pretty much just spend about 15 min reading the scriptures and preparing for lessons and I use the rest to memorize scriptures. By the way I have 15 more scriptures and “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” until I’m done. Yeah I totally memorized “The Living Christ” last week. Feel free to bask in my glory.

Ok that covers the other stuff, now for my week. It started out pretty normal but Thursday night Elder Martinez started complaining about his ear, so he called the office and they told him what to buy (no need for prescriptions here)—not a big deal. But then the next morning he noticed that his ear was bleeding. We talked it over and decided that it was a bad thing and that it warranted another call to the office. Sister Gamboa agreed with our theory that it’s usually not good when your ear bleeds, and so we had to head down to Guayaquil so we could see a decent doctor. Anyway the doctor took care of it; it wasn’t a big deal, but we did loose the entire day which hurts when we are always running on such a tight schedule.

But wait it gets better—Saturday we were walking near the road and Elder Martinez got hit by a motorcycle. Here is the story:  We were just walking along near the road (notice I said near and not on) and I happen to look behind me, not for any particular reason, I just felt like it. And I saw a motorcycle right behind me so I freaked out and jumped out of the way, but Elder Martinez didn’t have time to react, so he got hit on the right side of his hip and thrown into the road. I have no idea why the guy was driving on the dirt; the road wasn’t crowded. Anyway Elder Martinez face planted into the road and broke his nose pretty bad. The guy on the motorcycle was fine and drove off. I thought about hitting him but Elder Martinez was bleeding pretty bad so I let him go. A taxi stopped, but he was just there out of curiosity, and when I asked him to take us to the hospital he told me he didn’t want blood all over his car. Honestly this is the only part in the whole event were I can say that I was scared. I don’t know why but I felt like if I could just get Elder Martinez in the car everything would work out. I decided that delicate negotiations would work best so I told the taxi driver to stop being an idiot and I put Elder Martinez in the car before he could drive away. The taxi driver took us to the hospital which turned out to be really low quality; they were using old Gatorade bottles as disinfectant containers. And they put a few stitches in Elder Martinez. They only put 6 stitches total in him:  three on his eyebrow and three on his nose. They did a pretty hack job of it too. He’s going to have some really nasty looking scars. Anyway, after I got Elder Martinez settled, I had to leave him and go a couple blocks to call President Gamboa, and about 10 min later our bishop and the stake president were there taking care of paper work and stuff. Elder Martinez got his nose messed up pretty bad so we had to head down to Guayaquil that night, even though it was pretty late by the time we could leave. We ended up taking a taxi for $40, which is pretty big when you consider that we live on $40 a week. So we spent Saturday and Sunday night in Guayaquil. I’m back in Babahoyo now with another companion; his name is Elder Cruz. Elder Martinez may come back to Babahoyo in a week or so, but he may not be coming back to this sector. It depends on how fast he heals. As of a few hours ago his nose was still bleeding, so I’m not so sure. It hasn’t stopped bleeding since the accident. We happened to have had baptisms that night so I had my camera with me, and Elder Martinez asked me to take pictures. I’m only going to upload two of them. One of the table with all of the doctors equipment—so that you can see how messed up the hospital here is—and another picture of Elder Martinez after he got patched up. The rest are pretty bad looking so I don’t think I will be sending them.

All of this has created a pretty big work load for me because we now have three days without work here; plus I have a new companion; plus the whole zone has a big meeting with the stake president on Wednesday; Thursday is zone conference; Friday we have a ward activity that we need to prepare for; Saturday we have baptisms; and Sunday there are national elections, so we are not allowed to work Sunday night. Its looking like this upcoming week will probably be the hardest week of my mission so far. I’m not sure I’m going to be able to do all that needs to be done here. Not only that but my new companion isn’t a zone leader; he’s just a junior companion like me with only a couple months more time. It’s weird but with all the stuff that happened, I never did get scared. I guess I was shell shocked or something, but other than that brief moment when I wasn’t sure if I could get us a ride to the hospital and I was watching Elder Martinez sitting by the road bleeding, I didn’t freak out at all. We even had the two baptisms we were supposed to have Saturday night. We just had the bishop head over to the church and take care of it, so they did it all without our help. Well, I think that covers everything. Oh yeah, I got my Easter package; the food and pictures are awesome. Thanks for the gold fish; I missed gold fish. Oh, and happy birthday on Friday mom.

Te quiero,
Elder Walke

Elder Martinez is Awesome…Cow Foot Soup, Not So Much

Thursday, April 16th, 2009

¡Hola familia!

Hey how’s it going? Things are going well here. I’m still alive…still in Babahoyo…still working. Did I mention that I’m still in Babahoyo? It’s actually not such a bad thing that I’m still here though. It would have been cool to get transferred to the beach, but I love Babahoyo. Plus my new companion Elder Martinez is cool. Elder Martinez is from Guatemala. He’s awesome. He’s about as close to perfect as you can get. He reminds me a lot of Elder Bryan and, as it turns out, Elder Bryan was Elder Martinez’s step dad so that explains a lot. Oh yeah and I’m related to him as well. My grandpa (Elder Vargas) had two sons, Elder Fuentemavida and Elder Martinez. So that makes Elder Martinez my uncle! He really does like to clean; I don’t think I can stress that point enough. The house wasn’t exactly dirty before, but it wasn’t exactly clean either. Now it’s much cleaner. Its not that I don’t like a clean house, it’s just not that high on my list of things to do. He also likes to plan, which is really awesome because before I pretty much did all of the planning and Elder Alferez would make a few minor changes. On Thursdays we have weekly planning we started working at 9 am and didn’t finish planning until 1.30 pm. It was awesome! We have our entire week completely booked until next Sunday.

We have been working ridiculously hard this week and having plenty of success. We also had a baptism this Saturday. It was another “niño de oro”; this time the kid had a reasonable excuse for not being baptized sooner—because she was waiting for her uncle to come home from his mission to baptize her. She has been coming to church for several years with her family and knows all her stuff so we met her Wednesday, had her interview Friday, and baptized her Saturday. To baptize someone so fast is almost impossible because of all the milestones they have to reach first—even when it’s just a little kid—so it was pretty cool. It’s funny because Elder Alferez never taught this girl (her name is Genesis, I don’t think I mentioned that before) but we baptized her!

Mom said that the church is having trouble getting missionary supplies and money to us; I hadn’t heard that before but it makes a lot of sense. We have been having a lot of trouble getting the mission office to send us more Book of Mormons recently and there has been a couple of times when we got our money a few days late. The money thing isn’t too big of a deal because I can just use my own to buy food until the church can get some to us, but the lack of missionary supplies has been a pretty serious problem. We only have 3 or 4 copies of the Book of Mormon left in the house and I have not gotten any of the other supplies that I order in several weeks.

I have heard rumblings that Ecuador may be switching off of the US dollar and going back to the Sucre soon as well. That could lead to some pretty serious problems for us if it ever happened. But it’s probably not going to happen so I’m not too worried. I would be pretty sad if I didn’t get that promised Easter candy though. The food here is starting to wear on me. I don’t mind the rice but they put so much oil in the soup that sometimes I almost can’t finish it.

Mom asked how my converts are doing so here’s the run down. The mom and daughter that I first baptized are moving soon. Evon is doing well; she comes to church pretty much every week and misses Elder Mitton a lot (her dad lives in Elder Mitton’s ward so they know each other pretty well). She also says that when I get transferred she is going to cry. I think she likes me but she’s harmless so it’s not a big deal. Pablo is still strong in the church. He got called to be secretary in the young men’s presidency. That was pretty cool for me to hear. Oh and we are teaching his dad and sister now. His dad came to church for the first time this week and seemed to like it. Pablo is thinking about going on a mission but he has a girlfriend and he’s kind of torn between the two right now (His girlfriend is a member as well). Yomira is still coming to church and we are still teaching her parents, but not a whole lot is happening on that front. Jonathan blessed the sacrament last week and is working towards going on a mission next year. Carlos hasn’t been to church in a couple of weeks; I think he has been sick or something. But he’s only 9 so I’m not too worried about him going inactive any time soon. Lissett is doing awesome as well. She is only 10 but she says she is reading the scriptures and praying every day, and she says she wants us to teach her mom so she can get baptized and go to heaven with her. Well that covers everyone.

I keep forgetting to mention it but I ate something very interesting a couple of weeks ago:  cow foot soup. It was even nastier than it sounds. I have a theory that walking around in [manure] all day helped season the foot because the entire soup had a very interesting taste going on. In case you are interested, cow foot has a sort of Jell-O texture to it, but hairier. If for some reason, somebody offers you cow foot soup, say no.

I was talking to Elder Frye and Elder Elwood the other day and Elder Frye was telling me how he had convinced Elder Mitton to transfer to BYU-Idaho with him. I asked him why in the world anyone would want to transfer there, and after about ten minutes, Elder Frye just about had me convinced. First off he says there is a good ski resort there that only costs $200 for the season. That’s a lot less than Brighton.  And second, Elder Frye, Elder Mitton, Elder Elwood, and me could have Ecua-parties where we turn off the AC, turn on the oven, make a lot of rice, and do all sorts off other cool stuff like that. Elder Elwood still isn’t convinced that he needs to transfer there, but he will be pretty close so he can drive up.

Well I’m out of time so I will talk to you next week.

Te quiero,
Elder Walke

Another transfer…but not for me

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

¡Hola familia!

How’s it going? How was conference? I liked it a lot. Boy, General Conference has never gone by so fast. We had a fair amount of success getting people to come as well. 16 people that were not members showed up to various sessions, which was less than we were hoping for; but we made the mission goal of 15. My favorite by far was Elder Bednar’s talk about temples. There were several other talks that I really liked as well but Elder Bednar’s talk was in a league of its own for me. Partly because it was a really good talk and partly because it’s perfect for me to use to teach the members and several of our investigators that are having trouble understanding where their focus should be. We were in all 5 sessions and I watched all but the Sunday morning one in English. The reason I watched the Sunday morning session in Spanish is because apparently that’s the only one that anyone goes to around here because during that one the entire building was packed; so they needed the TV we were using so that everyone could watch. At the other sessions we didn’t break 50— with the exception of the priesthood session—which had about 150. I did understand what was said in the Sunday morning session, but I didn’t get as much out of it because I was surrounded by a bunch of little kids that wouldn’t be quiet (shocker I know); so it was hard to pay attention. Oh yeah, I took notes. I only took two pages for the entire conference but that’s pretty good for me because I don’t take notes for anything. I took notes because I figured I won’t be getting the conference edition of the Ensign for about 3 months, and there were things said that I want to teach now.

I have known about the awesome new Spanish Bible for a while but I didn’t know when it was coming out so thanks for that info. The Spanish Bible we have now isn’t very good. There isn’t a very reliable translation of the Bible for Spanish and none of them have the awesome cross referencing stuff and Bible dictionary like we have. There is a small Bible dictionary in the book of Mormon but its not nearly as good; and between that and the lack of cross references, when I study the scriptures in Spanish I have to do it with my English scriptures open as well.

I caught the end of the LDS World Report and they were talking about a book with church art called “No Greater Call” that looks really cool. Naturally it’s not available here even though it was made so that people in countries like Ecuador could get their hands on good visual aids. I think it would make a very good birthday present if you know what I mean.

The rest of the week passed pretty normal. By the way, I can’t believe you named the dog Buffy. That’s such a dumb name. I will never call it Buffy. Not that it matters much because I’m not going to have a lot of contact with her, but it’s the principle of the thing that counts. Buffy is a terrible name. I’m calling it Almuerzo.

Well I think that covers everything. Except that really important detail that you think I forgot to mention. Is it killing you? Are you dying of anticipation? Did I stay or did I go? Will I egg this on much longer? Yeah I think I will. Or maybe I just won’t tell you this week. That would be funny. But then my next email would just be about how I should be nicer to mom so it’s probably in my best interest to tell you now. Ok here it is. I have another change in Babahoyo. Pretty anticlimactic huh? I did get a new companion though. His name is Elder Martinez. Elder Alferez got transferred to Pedro cabo. Jerk. Elder Martinez is a pretty cool guy. Unfortunately he also likes to have a clean house. Don’t ask me why, he just does. Elder Fuentemavida, Elder Alferez, and I all like to have a “pretty clean” house but Elder Martinez lives a much higher standard than “pretty clean”. We were cleaning the house until 2 in the afternoon. It was terrible. My testimony of how much I hate cleaning was reaffirmed. I even had to clean the bathroom. Other than that he seems like a pretty cool guy, and I think we are going to have a lot of success this change. Honestly I’m not that sad to stay in Babahoyo because I do like my sector and there are several people that I would really like to see get baptized.

Well that’s all for now; hope you enjoyed your week and that you enjoy the next one as well. And to all you people out there who are reading my blog—write me a letter!

Talk to you next week, and do good things.

Te quiero,

Elder Walke