November, 2009

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For Thanksgiving - Pineapple Pie…Minus the Pine

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

¡Hola familia!

¿Como estan? Espero que se encuentren bien. I’m doing well enough, not much to say this week though. I got a haircut, and this time it doesn’t look too bad; so that’s good news I guess. The last couple of weeks mom has been sending pictures attached to my emails and they are really scary. I guess it’s just because I haven’t seen my sisters in over a year but man do you guys look different. I have to say that Andrea wins the award for biggest change followed by Allison. Andrea looks like she has gotten way taller over the last 15 months! But I still have not seen any pictures of Kayla so the contest is still open.

Thanksgiving looks like it should be pretty good this year. I will be eating apple pie at least. A few weeks ago I ate a pretty good pineapple pie type thing at a bakery near our house and it made me think—if they just replaced the pineapple with regular old apple, wouldn’t this make an excellent apple pie? So I went over to the bakery the other day and asked if they could make me a pineapple pie but hold the pine. Seems simple enough, all they have to do is take out one ingredient right? It was funny trying to explain to them exactly what it was that I wanted from them. At the end I think they were still confused as to why I want this pie or “torta de manzana” as the natives call it, but they did agree to attempt to create it. I hope it works because if it doesn’t we will be without apple pie and it just won’t be thanksgiving. We will be buying a pizza for the main course instead of turkey. You can find turkey here but even if I could get my hands on one I would never manage to cook it right. So anyway, that’s our plans—a pizza with apple pie and ice cream. It will be funny to compare thanksgiving pictures with you guys. I feel like our holiday will look very different than yours. Not that we get a holiday. It’s a normal work day for us. We will probably try to get home at 9 pm on the dot so as to make the most of our Thanksgiving meal, but other than that it’s going to be a normal day. Plus, being a Thursday, we will also have to do our weekly planning. That’s always a pain. There is nothing that will sap the fun out of a holiday faster than a good 3 hour planning session.

Wednesday is going to be our zone conference. It was supposed to be today but it got changed at the last second. I was pretty grateful for that. We didn’t have any baptisms this week. We were supposed to but we didn’t. We were supposed to baptize this guy named Cecilio, who was very ready, and we had overcome challenge after challenge with him; but then a few days before his baptism he got in a fight with his father-in-law and left. I have no idea where he is or how to get in contact with him, so it’s basically a closed case. That hurt because he was a cool guy and we had had this baptism planned a month ago. We had only been waiting because this week he wasn’t going to be working so he would finally have time to get married to his girlfriend/wife and get baptized.

Elder Rodriguez and Elder Barrientos also lost their baptism. I was supposed to do the interview but the guy never showed up. I don’t know what the deal is there but they were not too happy yesterday either. So the zone has now been 100% baptism free for 3 weeks now and Elder Rodriguez, Elder Barrientos, and I have been going crazy trying to figure out what to do because, as the leaders, all of this is our problem. I think I have it figured out in part but I still can’t understand why none of us are having any kind of success. They are good guys and as far as I can tell they are trying to be obedient so I don’t know what is going on. The problem is that I can’t really get mad at them because I have not had a baptism in a month now and I don’t think we will have one this week either. We are doing ok but our weekly numbers just are not where they should be and we can’t seem to get anyone to church on Sundays. And because of all of this I am a little nervous about having to go to zone conference on Wednesday because we are probably going to get a good talking to from the president about it. Wow I have been going on for a long time about zone stuff that I’m not sure is really very interesting to you. Sorry about that, but as you can see that’s all I have really had on my mind recently. I haven’t done anything noteworthy this week anyway.

I do have a funny story to tell you that I keep forgetting to tell you. A while ago we were walking down the street and a man who smelled very strongly of alcohol walks up to us, shakes our hands and says, “Hello sir, I’m drunk” and I said “yes sir, you are” then he stumbled away. It was odd but it made me laugh for a long time.

Oh that reminds me, the power has been going off a lot these days. I guess Ecuador runs almost completely on hydro electricity which is cool, but very bad during droughts. And we are currently in a drought because last year the rainy season wasn’t too impressive; so we are paying for it now. We lose power most nights in my area from about 6 to 8 pm which makes things interesting for us because we have to keep teaching. President just told us to try to stay out of the dangerous parts of our sectors and carry a flashlight. Personally, I have been enjoying it but all the people are worried about getting robbed or something. I just tell them that for us there is no such thing as dangerous. That may not be exactly true but 6 to 8 pm is prime teaching time for us and we can’t just sit around in the dark doing nothing; nor would president Gamboa be very happy with us if we did. We have a fairly safe sector as far as Guayaquil goes so I’m not worried about it. Once the rain comes the problem will go away so it shouldn’t last too much longer.

Ok now I am done. And hey looks like I did manage a decent length on my letter this week. I hope you enjoyed it. I’m going to go take a nap now. Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Eat an extra slice of pie in my honor!

Te quiero,
Elder Walke

Coming Soon, Ecua-Stuff

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

¡Hola familia!

I don’t feel like typing today! I don’t know why, but I don’t. And yet I will do it anyway. Honestly, that’s pretty much the story of my life as a missionary. There is something annoying, tedious, difficult, or crazy and we don’t want to do it; but we do it anyway, that’s what makes us missionaries—so on with the email!

I have a couple of interesting stories to share this week. First off, the zone leader meeting with the President went down this week and they called and asked me and Elder Muhlestein to come down and pick up Elder Beck because he is a new guy and his companion is a zone leader. That was an interesting few hours. Elder Beck is from the same group as Elder Muhlestein so they know each other. And as it turns out Elder Beck knows me. Apparently, he and his family found the site where dad posts these letters and they read it before Elder Beck entered the MTC, and I guess some of his family still reads it or something. It was funny; he asked me if I had ever seen anyone get into a fight here and I said, “sort of, in Babahoyo I saw some riots once” and he says, “Is that the one time when you were in a bus and got hit with tear gas?” I responded, “um… yes.” It was a weird moment for me. I have never met anyone who knew who I was before I met them. I guess that’s what famous people feel like. I’m thinking about coming out with a clothing line to capitalize on this fame; maybe I can make enough to pay for college! I think I would call the brand “ecua-stuff, by Elder Walke.” I think it will be a huge success. Luckily I’m not letting any of this new found fame go to my head. I’m still the humble, nice, good looking, awesome guy I was before. So don’t worry about me getting a big ego or anything.

A few days after that we had another interesting experience. It was about 11 am so we were putting our shoes on and about to head out the door when I hear something odd, Sister Gamboa and Elder Abriel. I thought to myself, “that’s odd; that sounds just like Sister Gamboa and Elder Abriel,” and then I hear the gate to the house open and I thought, “uh oh”… Yep, we got surprise house inspections. Honestly, after Monday the house really is clean but by Friday it is much less so. And it wasn’t dirty so much as unorganized. Luckily, she wasn’t upset with us but she did point out all the stuff we had unorganized all over the house. But now the house is clean. So don’t worry mom.

Then Saturday we were forced to go to some “day as a missionary” activity put on by some of the local stakes. That was a pain but I did see Elder Elwood and Elder Hernandez so it was all good. Oh yeah and I saw Elder Mitton at the zone leader meeting. It may be the last time I see him before he goes home. He only has a couple months left—it’s so weird.  He only had 8 or 9 months when I first met him back in the Babahoyo days. Oh and after the zone leader meeting when we were dropping Elder Beck off, the zone leaders were all eating pizza and President Gamboa told us we could eat as well. Elder Muhlestein ate 10 slices of pizza. That would have been impressive by itself but you should also know that we ate that pizza after having had an Ecuadorian lunch with rice and everything. I myself only managed 6 or 7 slices (I cant really remember). Elder Beck ate 11. I was awestruck.

Well, that’s the news from Ecuador. I hope you enjoyed it. And start looking for “ecua-stuff” clothing in a Wal-Mart near you! Oh and congrats to Mac for getting called to Costa Rica. That’s awesome. Spanish speaking missions are the best! Oh and I was talking to this Argentino missionary in our zone and as it turns out he is from the same part of Argentina that Nathan is going to. And Elder Ruiz is from Costa Rica so I know someone from Mac’s mission too. Small world huh?

Te quiero,
Elder Walke

Time flies…or not

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

¡Hola familia!

How’s life? Good? I hope so. Things are going well enough here. Funny story about that. I realized as we started working this week that after two weeks of not being able to work in my sector very often we pretty much didn’t have anyone in our teaching pool. when we sat down Monday night to do our planning for the next day I just sat there and stared at my planner for a few minutes thinking “um… what are we going to do between 2 pm and 6 pm tomorrow?” because we had nothing. The good news is now we have something. We have been working very hard this week trying to put a program together. Our program is already looking much better but it’s a long, tedious road.

I have a funny story for you guys, we were walking down the street on the way to an appointment and at one point in the conversation Elder Muhlestien  says “its amazing how quickly time flies when you are a missionary, I feel like weekly planning was just yesterday”. I stopped, thought for a moment, and told him the awful truth, “Elder Muhlestien, weekly planning WAS yesterday”. We stood in silence for a few seconds and he said, “You are laughing at me on the inside right now aren’t you?”

I was.

In fact it may have been the single funniest moment of my entire mission. Sometimes my companion says the funniest things. I’m glad to hear that the Ward has survived mostly intact now that we have been changed to a new Stake and everything. That’s cool that half of the wards are Spanish speaking; it should make all of the stake level activities really interesting. I’m guessing that President Bertoch speaks Spanish because otherwise I don’t know how he would be able to manage a Stake like that.

Mom asked who the new assistant is; his name is Elder Aguirre and he is from Mexico. He also happens to have been trained by Elder Alferez, making him my step brother because Elder Alferez was my step dad. The new zone leader here in Prosperina is Elder Barrientos’ new companion, Elder Rodriguez. He is from Mexico, but it’s not the Elder Rodriguez from Mexico that is in the office—it’s a different one. Yes, it’s confusing. He is a pretty cool guy. Apparently he lives in a city on the border near Arizona so I guess he doesn’t live too far away from our house huh? He also speaks pretty good English, which is helpful for Elder Muhlestien. That way Elder Rodriguez can understand the funny comments he makes.

All in all things are going well. Although we only had 4 people show up to church on Sunday and I was really sure that we would have at least 9 so that was a bit of a let down. Among those who didn’t show up was Wilfrido, who is supposed to get baptized Saturday. Yep, that has to get pushed back at least another week or two now. I think we are going to have a lot of people ready for baptism at the end of this month and going into December. I just hope I’m around to see them get baptized.

Well, it looks like I’m out of stuff to say. Sorry I guess that this letter isn’t very long this week. I will try to do more interesting stuff this coming week so I will have more to say. Tell Derek that I think it’s awesome that he got his mission call, except for that whole “French speaking” part. Those crazy Canadians and their French. I can’t believe he is heading out in December; they must really need more missionaries up in the Toronto, Canada mission. Ok folks, that’s all for this week!

Te quiero,
Elder Walke

Not Transferred…This Time

Monday, November 2nd, 2009

¡Hola familia!

How is life? Things are good here. Transfers have come and gone and I’m still in the same sector with the same companion. Not that that’s a bad thing; I’m just really surprised. I thought for sure that one of the two of us would go but, true to tradition, I was completely wrong about transfers. I don’t think I have correctly guessed one time.

Hey Nathan’s mission call is awesome! The people from Argentina are the coolest. I love the accent those guys have. For the record though, only the people that live in the capital have a really strong accent; the rest of them speak normally, and from the sound of it his mission won’t cover Buenos Aries at all. And Clark got a Spanish speaking call as well! That’s so cool. I may start sending them both letters in Spanish. And Tasha is going to Germany? That’s funny; I bet she is excited about that one. She doesn’t get to learn Spanish but hey, you can’t win them all right? When does everyone go into the MTC? I may try to write them all letters this week. I don’t have Tasha’s address though, and I may or may not have Nathan’s, so I’m probably just going to send them all to Clark and let him deliver them.

I’m glad to hear that the ward didn’t get too cut up by the new boundaries, although I guess we are not out of the woods yet. I can’t believe that Brother Potter is the new bishop. And I have no idea who the two counselors are. That’s a little strange; I guess I’m not really a part of that ward anymore. I guess it doesn’t matter because I won’t live there again anyway.

So back to transfers—they were pretty weird in general over here. I was so sure that the entire mission would get moved around but only one companionship got changed and Elder Barrientos received his new companion—that’s it.  When we went to the bus port to pick up Elder Barrientos’ new companion, I saw Elder Frye.  That was cool because I have not seen him in about 6 months. I was talking to the assistants and I guess we will be jumping to over 200 missionaries in a couple of changes (right now we are only at about 180) so there are going to be some serious changes going on; lots of new sectors getting opened and such. So the next time I get transferred it could be to open a new sector. I really hope not; opening a sector is a lot of work. Plus, the next changes are for the 15th of December—right before Christmas. I’m convinced that I will get transferred for sure because I really don’t want to get a transfer right before Christmas. Oh well, come what may and love it. I’m just glad that Elder Barrientos has a companion because our sector was really suffering with us only able to work there every other day—not good.

This change we are going to work really hard. Elder Muhlestein is going to have every principle of every lesson down and I’m going to make him memorize a whole lot of scriptures. We have been doing pretty good at finding new investigators but we are going to step it up a notch. I want us to have at least 5 baptisms this change. We already have two that are solid and one person that seems fairly likely, so we need to find 2 more people that we still have not met yet. That’s kid stuff. We can get that knocked out this week. I’m excited for this transfer because we have a good sector to work in and I know that we are going to have a lot of success in the coming weeks.

Mom asked if Elder Martinez has gone home yet. The answer is not yet. He leaves in December or January (I can’t remember which). My clothes are holding up fine. I had to buy some socks the other week. Not because the socks I have are worn out but the mamitas always loose socks in the wash. Of the original 16 pairs that I brought down here I only have about 8 pairs. But socks don’t cost much and I have enough now so it’s all good. My shirts are still good but they are a little worn around the collars because the mamitas scrub them really well but they are fine for now. My pants…those are a little messed up. They have seen better days that’s for sure. I found a pair of pants in pretty good shape in the house in Jipijapa so I’m doing ok on pants for now. I may end up buying a pair or two in 6 months or so. My shoes are still doing good. I don’t think I will have any problems making it to the end of my mission with the shoes I have. Health wise I’m doing great.

I have a funny story for you before I finish. Saturday we were going to buy pizza but we had forgotten that it was fast Sunday and we always start our fasts Saturday after lunch. So we didn’t buy pizza for Halloween. Ok that story wasn’t funny as much as sad. But the good news is a member of the church told us that there is some pizza place that is selling pizzas—2 for 1 on Tuesday. So we will still eat pizza, just not the day of Halloween. It still counts. I’m going to start looking into thanksgiving food today when we go to buy. I know that they have mashed potatoes but I’m not sure about the rest. Expect further updates on that in the coming weeks.

Ok one last thing before I go. I keep forgetting to tell you about this but across the street from our house there is a burger joint with the best burgers ever. It has one meat patty, ketchup, mayo, frenchfries, a fried egg, and avocado sauce. Simple, yet awesome. The best part is it only costs a dollar! The people are geniuses—I mean putting the frenchfries right there on the burger with an egg on top? That’s just plain brilliant! Now I really do have to go, so have a good week guys!

Te quiero,

Elder Walke