May, 2010

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Last Transfer

Monday, May 31st, 2010

¡Hola familia!

Guess what? Its transfer day! Guess what? I got transferred! For the last time I’m sure. I’m too old to keep moving around the mission like this. Ha ha. I’m not even sure where to start. I had a rather adventurous week; full of danger and mystery. And when I say “danger and mystery,” I mean “paper work and elders causing me trouble.” I don’t know why but I really have learned to enjoy this sort of stuff; being zone leader really is a blast. Monday night Elder Peña calls and tells me he is sick and needs to go to the doctor. It rained all day a couple weeks back and he had been sick pretty much since then. So he called and tells me that he isn’t feeling well and wanted to go to a doctor…right now. And I was thinking, “seriously dude, couldn’t you have called me in the morning when I wasn’t tired and about to go to bed?” Apparently he couldn’t. So after calling Sister Gamboa and having a loverly chat about clinics, money, and sick elders; it was decided that Elder Peña did in fact need to go to the doctor right then. And since I was the guy with the money (because last Sunday sister Gamboa gave me the $150 and Monday it was still in my possession), my comp and I had to go to Elder Peña’s house, and I took him to the doctor. Basically, I was babysitting but that’s what Sister Gamboa felt the most comfortable with, so that’s what we did. I guess because it was so late at night and we were walking the streets of Portoviejo with $150 in my pocket. That part did make me a little nervous but everything turned out ok. So after buying a lot of pills and after the doctor stuck a couple of needles in Elder Peña’s…um…well let’s just say he got a couple of injections and leave it at that. So anyway, I didn’t end up getting back to the apartment until after midnight. The good news is Elder Peña is now doing much better, the bad news is that the trip made me tired.

Then Wednesday we had to go to Coaque (part of Bahia) to do interviews. So we got up at 5:30 a.m. so that I could ride the bus for over 10 hours round trip. That was fun. The good news is that I was so tired that I actually slept quite well for 8 of those 10 hours, which almost never happens. And it wasn’t like I was just on the bus 10 hours strait. It was divided into about two and a half hour segments every time. But every time I would get on the bus and just go to sleep until it was time to get off the bus. I guess it was a testament to how tired I was. Then after that Elder Parkinson and Elder Aracayo got transferred. That made me sad because Elder Parkinson is my buddy. He’s a cool kid. When I came to Portoviejo I saw him be born and now he speaks Spanish and everything. It’s not perfect but he speaks it. Oh yeah, and I had to give him a part of that $150 because he too made a trip to the doctor this week. Luckily I didn’t have to go with him. That trip was his own fault though. So after all of these expenses we had an interesting problem arise because that $150 was supposed to be divided in uneven portions among 6 elders and then a couple of them went to the doctor and most of that money was spent again and then a couple of them got transferred so the whole thing became a mess. Luckily I was able to sort through all my notes and write it down on paper so that Elder Williams won’t kill me for the huge mess created. The problem is that I sent all those facturas and the paper I wrote up with Elder Parkinson when he got transferred and he didn’t give it to the assistants like he was supposed to. And that’s were the story is now. I’m not sure what’s going to happen, if he lost that envelope. We are all in trouble [if he did] though.

So then on Saturday we had a baptism! That was good. Jessica got baptized. We got her and her husband married a couple of weeks ago and Saturday she finally got baptized (her husband is already a member). The baptism went well; people from the ward showed up to help and fun was had by all. Then Sunday was transfer day. Well, they told us transfers anyway. And now I’m sure you are wondering where I am and who I’m with. That’s good. Keep wondering. This is probably my last transfer after all so its important information. Ok here is goes. I got transferred to…Guayaquil! My new zone is Orquideas, in the sector by the same name. And guess what? My new companion is Elder Janampa! He was in Babahoyo when I was born and now I’m going to kill him because he goes home after this change! I’ve never killed anyone before; it’s pretty exciting.

In terminal I saw my kid Elder Muhlestein. He was pretty happy to see me. I think he missed his dad. Well, I could keep talking for a while but I’m running out of time and I need to do some other stuff before my internet time is up so good bye, have a great summer. I can’t believe Kayla finished high school. She looks so grown up in her senior pics. I can’t believe my little sis is all grown up and going off to college. And Allison is going into high school this year. That’s just scary. Poor kid. Oh well it’s for the best.

Te quiero,
Elder Walke

Stake and Zone Conference Week

Monday, May 24th, 2010

¡Hola familia!

First item of news is that Elder Margos had to go to Guayaquil and get checked out because, almost a week after his accident, he still could barely walk. So now he has one month of bed rest—doctor’s orders. Friday was interviews, not much to say there; President Gamboa pretty much just told us, “good job with the zone,” and sent us on our merry way. He did tell me all about how much I have grown up over the course of my mission and then proceeded to [chide] me for spending all of my money on travel expenses and not enough on food. He said, “Your parents would kill me if they thought I wasn’t taking care of you, and its just wrong that you should have to be hungry just to do your job, don’t do it!” Then he bought me pudding, Doritos, cola, and encebollado (my favorite ecua food). Sister Gamboa doesn’t like us to drink cola because she says its bad for us and we said, “Hey I thought we were not supposed to drink this stuff” and he said not to worry about it and that he would take care of it. The entire thing was all oddly fatherly. It was sort of like he was saying, “Don’t worry about mom. I’ll take care of it. You kids just drink your cola”. They really have become like a second set of parents for me and a lot of times they both treat me more like a son than a missionary. It’s pretty funny.

Then Sunday was the big day—stake and zone conference. Stake conference was good. His main point was based on the story of Gideon’s 300 soldiers. He talked about how they were chosen because they were prepared and how to do his work the Lord doesn’t need a large quantity of servants, just quality ones. So don’t be a bum or you will get rejected. Good message. We also managed to pass the zone goal that the stake president had set for us to have at least 40 investigators and inactive members come to conference. That was a relief because the stake president doesn’t normally give us assignments so I was glad that we managed to pull off the one thing he wanted us to do.

Oh yeah I forgot to mention it before but I’m still here in Portoviejo. Nobody has gotten transferred yet but I’m sure it will happen one of these days. So after stake conference we had zone conference, which was really good. I do love zone conference. The seventy didn’t come though. I figured that he would come for sure since he came to stake conference but I was wrong. Not the first time that’s happened. Zone conference was really good anyway. It was about zone unity. After zone conference Sister Gamboa walked over to me and handed me $150 for the medical stuff from Elder Margos´ exciting car adventures and told me to make sure the money got to the right missionaries. I just sat there staring at the money for a minute. I haven’t seen that much money in a long time. Then I reminded her that the bill was $150.01 and that she was short changing me a penny. She just laughed and said, “I can’t believe you are charging me a penny.” But she did give me the penny.

Well that’s pretty much it. Today was super P-day and I cleaned like nobody’s business. I’m proud to say that I shall leave the house much cleaner than I found it. Hurrah! Physical evidence that I did at least one thing right here in Portoviejo! Ok now its time for me to cut out. Have a great last week of school everyone. I will talk to you again next week from some random town in Ecuador. Unless I somehow don’t get transferred. That would be weird.

Te quiero,
Elder Walke

Tough Week

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

¡Hola familia!

Oh man did I have a killer week. There are some weeks when I think, “I never want to go home; my mission is awesome; I cant believe its almost over.” And there are other weeks where I just think, “I can’t believe it’s almost over.” This has been one of those weeks. It all started Tuesday night, I was on an interchange and Elder Ruiz calls me and says, “Elder Margos (one of the missionaries in our zone) got hit by a car. He’s in the hospital, bring money.” So we convinced the neighbors to give us a ride to the hospital where I discovered that Elder Margos was not there. So then we had to go and check the private clinics and figure out which one he was in. That was a mess. It was really annoying because I didn’t know what sort of condition the guy was in or if anyone was around to make sure he was getting proper treatment. So it made the fact that he was lost in some unknown Ecuadorian clinic all the more stressful. To make a long story short, we found him, and he wasn’t too messed up either. Just lots of scrapes and bruises but no broken bones or anything like that. The trick then was the whole money thing. The fun part about medical stuff here is that you always pay in cash. We can’t just tell them, “send the mission the bill,” or “put it on my tab.” Nope, no fancy American medical system here; just cash up front and at the time of treatment. Thus, every elder has an emergency reserve of $40 for stuff like that. In total we had 6 elders in the hospital with us: Elder Margos, his companion Elder Perez, the two elders that live in the house with them (Elder Peña and Elder Parkinson), my comp and I, and the elders we were on an interchange with (Elder Aracayo and Elder Guerra). And there were all sorts of little things to pay for and past experience has taught me to take notes on such occasions (who paid what, how much was spent, etc.) so that everyone gets the right refund from the office later on. So the grand total was $150.01. I understand that that isn’t too impressive for you rich state-side folk but for us ecua-folk that’s a big chunk of change. So in the end everything turned out ok and nobody died, so I guess you could say that everyone lived happily ever after (for now). And that was my Tuesday.

The rest of the week didn’t turn out so dramatic but Tuesday set the tone for the rest of the week in the sense that nothing seemed to go as planned. We did manage to get one of the two weddings we had planned successfully preformed. The problem is that the wedding that didn’t happen was the Cuenca family! Pardon my French but…darn it all! The oldest daughter, who was sick last week, didn’t get better. In fact, she got sicker and they had to take her to the hospital. So they were not able to come into Portoviejo and get married. Subsequently, they also didn’t get baptized. And they are not exactly wealthy either so the whole incident has put them in an economic mess as well. So that’s 3 baptisms I will never see because the next time that the dad is in town I won’t be here. Then to finish off the bad news week, I learned that this upcoming Sunday is stake conference and apparently you can’t confirm people in stake conference, so we won’t be having any baptisms in the zone this week. That also means that there are a couple more baptisms from my sector that I won’t see because I will probably get transferred the week after stake conference. So that’s pretty much all of the depressing news I can think of to tell you.

I should probably tell you about the good things that happened this week lest you think that my letters are getting to depressing. We did have one baptism this week–Jennifer Cuesta. She was the marriage we had last Thursday and she is awesome. She was one of those people who we would teach, and she would just get it. We would teach her a principle and she would say, “Hmm, ok ill give it a try.” And then we would come back the next time and she would say, “Hey you guys were right; I want to get baptized.” Then her baptism was awesome–everything was well organized, the members showed up to support her, and the talks were good. It was awesome. And the zone continues to be baptizing like crazy as well. We had baptisms in the zone this week. These guys really are on fire. When I called to report our baptisms they said, “You did it again? Geez, what are you guys doing over there?” We are now sitting at 20 baptisms for the month of May and 30 for the change. Thanks to stake conference we are losing one whole week of baptisms, but the last week we will break 10 baptisms for sure.

So to close I will say that this week should be interesting. On Friday we have interviews with President Gamboa. Then Saturday is zone conference, and on Sunday we have stake conference where both President Gamboa and a seventy will be present. I’m not sure if the seventy will be in zone conference too, but it seems likely. Should be interesting. Oh and I will probably get transferred before I talk to you guys again. It may be a mid-week transfer but it seems more likely that I will get called Sunday night. Well, we will see what happens I guess.

Te quiero,
Elder Walke

Last Mother’s Day Call

Monday, May 10th, 2010

¡Hola familia!

So it’s Monday. Yup. Um… I just talked to you guys yesterday so I’m not sure what I should say now. I saw the swim team pictures dad sent me. That was cool. Andrea looked pretty goofy in her team suit and cap. I loved her dive; she really attacked that water didn’t she?

So this morning we met with the husband of Jessica Cuenca (family that lives in middleofnowhere, Ecuador) and tried to get everything worked out for the marriage. If all goes as planned, they should get hitched Thursday morning, and Jessica and two of her kids should get baptized Saturday. It sure is complicated though. We had another wedding this past Thursday as well and got another appointment set for a wedding on Friday. There is another wedding possible for this week but more likely for the next week. So after that one goes down I will be up to 9 marriages. The funny part is that I don’t like dealing with marriages, it just keeps happening is all.

I have no idea what to talk about now. That’s the problem with calling Sunday and then having to write an email Monday. Oh well, it wont be a problem I have to deal with again. Good news–in his weekly email President Gamboa mentioned that we had 34 baptisms this week. So that means our 8 baptisms were about 25% of the baptisms for the whole mission. I was right! Our zone really has been on fire for about a month now. We have another 11 baptisms planned for this week so things continue to hum along. I’m pretty sure that we have the highest baptizing zone in the mission right now. Not that I think any of that has to do with me; it happens in spite of me really. They are all good missionaries. The sad part is that I will probably get transferred in a couple of weeks. They will probably stick me in Duran or Guayaquil or some other hot place where I can’t eat sea food like I can in Portoviejo. I’m sure President [Gamboa] will think long and hard on how he can really punish me my last 3 months. I’m not worried about it though; wherever I end up, it’s for a reason. The only part I’m really worried about is if my cloths are going to make it another 3 months or not. It’s a close call let me tell you; in the last month all of my stuff has started falling apart. Especially my shirts. I really don’t want to have to buy a bunch of new stuff right before I leave because I won’t use any of it afterwards. Oh well, its all just part of the fun of being a missionary. I think, in a way, being poor is way more fun than being rich. I guess it’s good that I feel that way because I’m about to head to college so my poor days have only just begun. And there is no promise that my poor days will stop after college either.

Ok I’m going to go now. I really didn’t have anything to say to begin with. I really only wrote because I was supposed to. But now I’m done. I just can’t think of anything worth mentioning. We did have a baptism on Saturday but I already told you all about that yesterday. It was Carlos, Josue´s friend. Just in case you forgot. Anyway, have a loverly day.

Te quiero,

Elder Walke

I Love Monday… and Gringo Food

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

¡Hola familia!

Happy Monday! Yeah, Monday, I love Monday. Monday is the best! Bienvenido día santo, hoy podemos descansar… wait, what’s that? The office wants us to give tomorrow’s district meeting? And it has to be perfect so that the district leaders can see “how it’s done”. Darn it all. There goes my Monday. Since when did being zone leader mean that I was also a skilled district leader as well? Those office folk keep assuming that I know what I’m doing for some reason. Oh well, they do manage to keep things interesting so I have to give them credit, and here I thought that my days as a district leader were over but it seems I must teach one more class. The idea is that we are supposed to show the district leaders how to teach because recently they are all fairly new or new district leaders and they aren’t following the format for teaching a class like President Gamboa would like so the assistants told us to lead by example and teach the class this week.

In other news, we went to Consejo Tuesday; that was fun. The bus on the way to Guayaquil was not built for comfort so I didn’t get much sleep, that wasn’t fun. I saw elder Elwood for what was probably the last time “on this side of the veil” because in 4 weeks he dies. I still can’t believe that, I guess I’m still in stage one “denial” in the grieving process. by the time I make it through all the stages and come to grips with his death I will probably be dead myself though because I head home 10 weeks after him, in mission time, 10 weeks is just enough time to blink twice. So the next day after Consejo was district meeting and then I hoped a bus and went to Bahia to do an interchange/baptismal interview. Then Thursday morning I came back from Bahia and we made our weekly visit to the middle-of-nowhere Ecuador to visit the Cuenca family. Making my total travel time in bus between Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday around 15 hours. I feel like my weekly letters have become nothing more than a weekly bus trip report since I have come to Portoviejo but I seem to spend most of my week on the bus so that’s what I talk about. The good news is that I don’t think we should have any major excursions this week.

Next week we are going to manta twice for interviews with President Gamboa and zone conference though so it will be a short lived break. Bladimir went teaching with us Friday and Saturday almost all day so that was great. I think he learned a lot. We were successful in getting one of the 4 marriages planned out this week. The tricky one, the Cuenca family, got pushed back a week but is actually going surprisingly well.

To answer moms questions. Elder Ruiz has been a member for about 5 years. He is 3 months younger than me in mission time but in real life he is older; recently he turned 24. I call him abuelo (grandpa) sometimes. Oh, and yes I did get your package this week. It was full of food. Lots of food. That’s good. I love gringo food. Ok my time grows short. I’m going to have to stop writing now. But hey, I will talk to you in less than a week so it’s not a big deal if this letter isn’t really long right? Ok have a great day family and enjoy those last few fun test-filled days of school! Yea, homework!

Te quiero,
Elder Walke