Happy Monday! Oh man, where do I start? So I guess I will start by saying that my kid is white. So that’s cool. I was pretty scared Tuesday night before we picked up the new missionaries. I couldn’t sleep and I kept thinking of all the things I needed to do to get ready and how not ready I felt. Wednesday was sort of a crazy day. In the morning, one of the assistants called and told us not to worry about lunch because they were going to get us something, and then we showed up at the stake center to get our kids, President Gamboa asked us what our lunch plans were; so we had to go out and look for something to eat and then come back. After we got back we went into the chapel and President Gamboa had us sit with the new missionaries while he talked to us for a bit. I think it was to build suspense, or something, about who their trainer was. I didn’t really like it because at the end he just sort of announced the companionships and we just went and took pictures—sort of anti climactic. It’s funny because there were four white trainers and four white missionaries so we sort of figured that the gringos would be training the gringos; but as it turned out, I was the only white guy to get a gringo companion. His name is Elder Muhlestein by the way. And because his name is really long and complicated to type, he will hereby be referred to as “my companion” in this and all future letters.
It has been interesting to work with him the last few days because it has really underscored how much I have learned and how much I still need to learn. Take Spanish for example. He speaks Spanish about like I did, and it has been interesting for me to see just how much I have learned in that respect, but I have also realized there are still a whole lot of little things that I can tweak grammar wise. The other day he was asking me a question about the subjunctive Spanish conjugations and I said, “I have no idea what that is,” and then he showed me in his grammar book and I still had no idea. I thought maybe it was just something they don’t use in Ecuador so I asked Elder Elwood and he said, “No, they use that all the time; it’s actually pretty important.” So I was thinking, great a really important grammar principle and I don’t even know what it is; my Spanish is terrible. Then the next day I was talking to someone, and I realized I said something using that conjugation, and I got excited because I realized I really do use it; I just didn’t ever realize it. It sort of blew my mind that I managed to pick up on an important grammar principle without noticing. The downside about learning Spanish the way I learned it is that when I correct my companion he asks me why its not correct and I just say, “I have no idea but I can tell you that what you have written is not right and what I’m saying is right.” So then I have to direct him to Elder Elwood who can not only speak correctly but can explain to you why he is speaking correctly as well. And now that I have an American companion my Spanish is getting all out of whack because I keep speaking English to the Ecuadorians and Spanish to my companion. There is a whole lot more I could say about my Spanish-English problems but you guys get the idea.
Being district leader turns out to be easier than I thought it would be. It’s still plenty of work but it’s not too bad. Being a trainer turns out to be way harder than I thought it would be. There are times when I wonder why I wanted to train an American so bad. It’s not that my companion isn’t a good guy, but training a new missionary who doesn’t speak Spanish is a lot of work. I have to teach 95% of the lessons and take care of all the other business, and at the same time making sure that I am having my companion helping and learning as well. I’m not going easy on him either. I already had him teach the entire Adam and Eve story and talk about the importance of agency and stuff. It was a couple of minutes long and I will admit it was pretty rough, but the Ecuadorians understood the intent of the message I think. I was going to have him teach the entire first vision last night but the appointment fell thru. He asked me if I had to teach an entire principle like that my first week and I said, “Nope, but you are not me.” I guess I have been working him pretty hard, but he is doing well. But I have been trying to not be too hard on him. The latest we can come home at night is 9:30 pm, which is normally when I come home, but with my new companion we have been going home at 9 pm, which is the earliest we should be going back. Being a missionary makes a person tired so I try to help him get as much sleep as he can, which I think he is very grateful for. The annoying part is that our teaching pool is still not looking too great. It was made worse when Sunday almost nobody we were teaching showed up to church. I was pretty devastated because I was counting on having four baptisms on the 10th of October, but now it’s looking like we will only have one.
This week is also going to be a really heavy work week as we gear up for general conference and try to get everyone in our entire sector to go to the stake center. Plus I have to prepare my class for district meeting, which I have not even begun to write. And I think I have a few baptismal interviews that I have to do this week. I’m a little scared about that one because I have never done one before and don’t know what to expect. On Thursday we are doing splits. I know that it sounds crazy to send my brand new English-only companion off with a member, but it’s only for an hour and he’s going to be with a returned missionary, so he will be ok and it will be good for him anyway.
Today we went to “Malecon” which is basically a nice park-type thing here in Guayaquil. I got a couple of nice pictures while I was there as well. Ok, I’m running out of time; I’m going to have to cut this letter short. I’m sure you want more info but I’m afraid it will have to wait. Have a great week! Learn lots of good stuff at general conference!