Whoa, did I just slip some English into that intro? I guess that all the English I have been listening to the last couple of days is making my Spanish rusty. Ok that was a lame joke. Oh well, what’s written is written and I’m too lazy to erase it anyway. It takes a lot of effort to hold that backspace key down after all. Oh, that was another lame joke. Man, what’s with me and the lame jokes today? Anyway, back to the subject; I was unsuccessfully trying to get onto in the first place.
General Conference. It was awesome. We got to hear the living prophet of God. I learned a ton. I noticed that a lot of the talks had to do with the family this round. That may have something to do with my fast approaching homecoming but who knows? I didn’t have a specific talk that was my favorite because I learned a lot from several. I think I have 5 or 6 favorite talks. I really liked the talk about how to give blessings to the sick in the priesthood session (I think it was by Elder Oaks) because it was very informative and helped me understand a few things much better than before. I also really liked what he said about how sometimes we are going to be more spiritually in tune than others and that the most important part of a blessing isn’t the words pronounced but the blessing itself and the faith of the person. I also loved Elder Rasband´s talk Sunday about how missionaries are called. I know it’s true because I prayed to go to a South American country and I guess the Lord found a mission that worked into his plans and filled my request because here I am. When Elder Rasband was talking about how missionaries are called I didn’t have any doubt at all that that’s how it happened with me. I got to watch almost all of conference in English but the Sunday morning session we had to watch in Spanish because, as usual, all the Ecuadorians here only showed up for that one so it was packed and we had to change our English channel to the Spanish one. The good news is my Spanish has gotten much better in the last 6 months. I didn’t think it was getting much better these days but I guess it has because I didn’t have any trouble understanding the accents or anything. So that was weird, I think I’m starting to feel just as comfortable speaking Spanish as English. I even think bilingually; man was it weird when I realized that I was doing that! I try to keep my thinking in English so that I don’t trip over my words too much when I get back. It has worked, but try as I might, I still find myself slipping into Spanish every now and then.
Although conference was good for me personally, it wasn’t so great for my teaching pool. Only one person showed up. I guess you could say we were heart broken. I don’t understand why because on a normal Sunday we have 10-14 people come to church. I guess it was because we weren’t in the same building or something. The point is, nobody came and the Pino family won’t be able to get baptized this Saturday as planned. I think that was the biggest disappointment. The one bright spot was that Bladamir came to 3 of the 5 sessions, thus proving that he got baptized for the right reasons and that he has a strong testimony. It was a roller coaster of emotions for me I guess because I would feel great and happy during conference, then sad and depressed for the people we are teaching who didn’t get to share that experience with us, but at the same time happy for the many people who were there, specifically the people I had worked with. It helped me to understand better all the scriptures that talk about God’s feelings for those who sin and repent. I never understood how God could have such a wide range of emotions because of the actions of others, at times feeling happiness and sadness at once, until I became a missionary. It’s a lot smaller than what God feels for these people, but I get it now.
So that was my conference experience. Other than that we also had interviews with President Gamboa Monday, zone conference on Tuesday, and I was in another sector with Elder Parkinson (one of the elders in my zone) on Wednesday. So I only worked in my sector Thursday and Friday because Saturday and Sunday was the GC. I guess you could say that it was not the most productive teaching week for us but still a great week. I talked to the president about how BYU starts almost the same day as my release date and how that creates a small conflict in my plans and he was surprisingly good with it. He asked me how much time I have and when I told him I’ve been here 19 months he called me “the ancient of days.” I laughed. He said he will be sad to see me go but that I need to see my family a bit before I leave to BYU for the fall semester, so we have decided that I will be coming home 2 weeks early. It hurts a little because I won’t be able to be in the last big dinner with the other elders from my mission and talk about all the crazy stuff we did but that’s just the way the cards fell. I was really surprised because he told me I could spend all the time on the computer that I need to do BYU stuff like picking classes etc. It didn’t even come into my mind to ask him to do that; he just told me to do it.
So that was interviews, zone conference was good as well, the overlying theme that I got out of it was, “purifying ourselves through obedience and service.” Zone leaders usually give a 15-20 min workshop in the middle of the conference about some subject that the office assigns us. They told us to talk about “how to help investigators to purify themselves.” It was a real booger for us because we couldn’t figure out for the longest time what to talk about, but we finally managed to get a pretty good workshop put together where our overlying message was basically the gospel is what will help people to purify themselves, but we need to obey and be purified first in order to be successful and teach with the Spirit. Our piece turned out to be in lockstep with the overlying message of the conference but we hit a few points that the assistants and the president didn’t talk about so it turned out well. Then the next day I was in another part of Portoviejo in interchange with Elder Parkinson. This is only his second change but he is awesome. His Spanish is coming along really well. You can tell he has been working hard to learn it. Other than that we didn’t have any other noteworthy experiences. Thursday and Friday we were just trying to get everyone in our sector excited for the conference that they wouldn’t be going to anyway.
So that’s the news folks, hope you enjoyed it. Next Sunday marks the beginning of changes so I may have a new companion next time I write but if not Elder Fonseca will get transferred for sure a couple days later. I can’t believe how fast the time has gone the last couple of changes. I have now been out of Balzar twice as long as I was there for, but I still feel like I just got to Portoviejo! It’s sort of bitter sweet; I know that there are good things coming after I get back but I will really miss the people, the other elders, and President and Sister Gamboa. Oh well, Así Sea.