June, 2010

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Turning 21 This Week–The End is Near

Monday, June 28th, 2010

¡Hola familia!

Well it’s Monday. I think that’s good. So the good news is Manuel got baptized. Hurrah! He kind of scared us for a minute, but at the end he showed up and everything went well. We also had a second baptism the same night; his name is Damian and we have been working with his family since the second day I got here. His family had changed wards a few months back but never started going to church in their new ward and we sort of stumbled into them, got them to come back to church, and baptized their son. The baptism was good with only a few minor difficulties. When we went to fill the font in the morning there was a couple inches of dirty water in the font for some reason and we couldn’t get the pump thingy to drain the font all the way, so with a couple of mops and buckets we manually drained it the rest of the way then filled it back up with clean water. That took a couple of hours but we got the job done. Then the baptism itself was pretty quality. The talks were good; the baptisms were good, we laughed, we cried, we bummed some food from the ward activity being held at the same time; all was good with the world.

In other news, we had interviews with the president. That was good [but made me] kind of trunky though. The entire interview we just talked about all the stuff I have accomplished in my mission and my plans for after the mission.

Last night the assistants called and told us that we would be doing service in the temple today. So that was cool. We went and did laundry, which normally would be lame but it was in the temple, so that made it cool. Afterwards we took a couple of pictures outside the temple. I think they turned out well. Other than that I’m not sure what i can tell you. It’s been sort of a boring week. I will say that I was looking at Elder Dayton’s iPod the other day (he has an iPod loaded with church music, which is allowed in our mission) and my mind was almost blown away. That thing does everything! It’s even got a pedometer! I have no idea why an iPod would need a pedometer, but it’s got one. It’s also got a camera and a couple other thingamabobs as well. It’s like some sort of spy device. I was impressed. iPod? This is no iPod this is a spypod.

Hmm. I just tried to upload my pictures but its not letting me. How annoying. I’m sure mom will be even more annoyed; she has been asking me to send pictures for a month now. Oh well, that’s life, or that’s Ecuador anyway. I wish I had more news for you guys this week but it’s sort of been an ordinary week. I walked a bunch, we taught some lessons, I tried to keep the zone running smoothly (without much success), and we slept. At least, I assume we slept, though I can’t really remember actually sleeping. Ok well, it’s time for me to go. Saturday is my bday so the next time I write you, I will be 21. That’s weird–man I’m old.

Te quiero,
Elder Walke

Everything is Just Dandy

Monday, June 21st, 2010

¡Hola familia!

So how’s the world? My world is just dandy. Hey that reminds me of a story. The other day I had to call Elder Bartholomei for something and he asked me how I was. I said, “I’m just dandy” and he said, “what, dude did you really just use that word? Nobody says that.” And I said, “Um…I do.” And he asked me why, to which I could not respond. I just do. So then there was an awkward pause and then we continued with what we were doing. Once again I was led to reflect on the very strange nature of the English language, or at least the way I speak it.

Hey good news! Manuel is getting baptized! Yep, I’m sure that I never before mentioned Manuel and I try to avoid talking about upcoming baptismal dates, but this guy is a powerhouse so I’m willing to risk it. It has been an interesting experience to work with him over the last 3 weeks because I remember that the first time we tried to put a baptismal date with him he started to shake his head violently and repeat, “No no no no no.” He is kind of a goofy guy, thus the violent head shaking and not just a simple, “no” like most people would do. It was interesting because every lesson we had with him I could almost see his heart softening; it was a very cool experience. Also, even though he said no, I could see in his eyes that he knew it was true. It was interesting because, even though every time we talked about baptism he was adamantly apposed, there was never any doubt in my mind that he knew it was true and that he would get baptized soon. Then we had a lesson teaching some family members of his (which just happens to be a part member family) and even though we were not teaching Manuel, the lesson was really meant for him, and I had an impression that at the next appointment he was going to say yes. The lesson we taught was just a simple lesson about the restoration and even though it wasn’t the first or the second or even the third time the guy has heard it, I knew that that was it and the next lesson he would accept a baptismal date. So we went to that next lesson and in about 10 minutes the opportunity presented itself and we invited him to be baptized this Saturday and he said yes–and it was awesome!

Oh hey speaking of good news, guess what I learned this week! The Cuenca family got baptized! I was very pleased when I heard that. It made me miss Portoviejo big time. I think that Portoviejo will go down as my all time favorite sector. On a pretty regular basis I find myself wondering how certain elders or families in Portoviejo are doing.

I feel the need to apologize to mom this week for not sending pictures. I was totally going to do it. I have the pictures with me and everything but the internet we normally go to was full and the one I am in now won’t accept my pictures. It’s a conspiracy to keep mom from seeing my pictures I think. I will at least answer your question though:  the elders in my house are Elder Dayton with his companion Elder Torres, and Elder Hasvold with his companion/son Elder Pintos.

Ok that’s all the info this week. Wednesday we have interviews with President Gamboa. Should be interesting. Ok well, time for me to sign off. Mostly because I’m hungry and we are going to McD´s for lunch (we have a McDonalds close to our house). Hurray for greasy American food!

Te quiero,
Elder Walke

Change and Mirrors

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

¡Hola familia!

I just saw the video of Andrea doing backstroke and accidentally getting turned around. She made it half way back to start didn’t she? Ha ha. That was pretty funny. I also thought the idea of mom going to Girls Camp and sleeping in tents this week sounded funny too. In fact, I find that even funnier than the video of Andrea. Even in her letter to me, mom tried to justify the camping trip. She said something like, “It’s going to be fun and it will go by fast anyway.”  Riggght! Sure mom. Who are you trying to kid? We all know you hate camping. Don’t worry mom.  I will pray for you.

So things here have been going…well…sort of like Andrea’s backstroke. The new missionaries finally arrived, a week and a half late, but they got here. And we have also had 3 other changes throughout the week.  Making a total of 6 changes in the zone, 2 new sister missionaries, 1 new elder and 3 changes, and this transfer cycle is well underway. I have never seen anything like it that’s for sure.

Living in a house of 6 is still crazy as well. It’s kind of a good thing though because that extra set of missionaries that we have living in the house is the elder that is training and his kid so we have had the chance to keep an eye on the new guy and help guide/shove him in the right direction. He is from Argentina but not anywhere near the part where Nathan is serving—I asked.  And it’s funny because he is fresh off the plane so he still has a strong Argentine accent.  Everyone in the house has been walking around saying stuff like “sho” and “asha” instead of “yo” and “alla”. It’s ridiculously entertaining. Having two other gringos in the house has also lead to a lot of English speaking as well. It’s made me realize a lot of interesting things about my own spoken English since it has been so long since I have spoken it regularly.  At first, my English was pretty good, but I quickly slipped back into the bad speaking habits from before.  For example, I can’t believe how many times we are capable of using the word “dude” in a sentence.  I’m not the only one, all three of us do it, and it’s ridiculous.

Hey guess what? I totally saw Elder Elwood again. I couldn’t believe it, every time I thought I had seen him for the last time, he shows up again. He and Elder Eaton showed up to deliver our pouch to us at district meeting on Thursday—the very day he was leaving. The idea popped into my head that I should ask him for a few of his white shirts so that I could be cheap and not have to buy any, but he wouldn’t do it. He said his shirts are way too big for me. Luckily Elder Eaton told me I could have his; hopefully he came through for me and I will get them in pouch tomorrow. It’s weird to know that Elder Elwood is no longer Elder Elwood; he is just…Elwood. I guess he is probably somewhere in Utah right now hanging out with (Elder) Mitton and not eating rice.

Ok, so my time is almost up. And I don’t know what else to say. Not a big news week I guess. I did get a new mirror for the house though. We needed it because the mirror we had was cracked and old and was so fuzzy it hardly counted as a mirror. It’s news that we got a new one because it’s not exactly a new mirror; I found it in the garbage. We were going home one night and I noticed a broken mirror in the garbage and the thought crossed my mind, “How lame, that broken mirror in the garbage is better than the mirror we have in the house…HEY that mirror is better than the one we have in the house!” We went back in the morning and luckily it was still there, so I hauled off a few good sized chunks. Once I had washed the nasty off and gotten my new mirrors installed (in other words, taped to the wall with packing tape) I was quite proud of myself.

Te quiero,
Elder Walke

Life in My New Sector

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

¡Hola familia!

Oh man you guys are trunky. I think a common theme from everyone’s letters this week would be, “I hope this doesn’t sound too trunky but…(Insert post-mission plans here)”. If I WAS trunky, this week’s letters would have been a killer let me tell you. I did enjoy Kayla’s grad pics. I can’t believe she is out of high school. That’s too weird–and not only that–she turns 18 next week. I don’t think I can take that.

That reminds me–in our after district leadership meeting this week we were planning stuff for the change and someone maked a comment about having a baptism in July and I said, “Isn’t it a little early to worry about next changes baptisms?” And he told me that July was, in fact, this change. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks:  I’m turning 21 in less than a month. I’m old. I had completely forgotten about my birthday. I didn’t realize that I was so close to turning 21.

Hey guess what? I have money to buy luxury items now! Yep, I don’t have to spend as much on travel here so now I can buy fancy rich person things like milk and fruit! Hurrah! The famine has ended! Being in Guayaquil, we also have access to American food that I can’t buy normally, like peanut butter and pancake mix and all sorts of other stuff that I don’t exactly need but are fun to eat anyway. I also live in a house with more people than just me and my companion now! It was a house of four missionaries but a couple of days ago two elders in the zone got kicked out of their house because President Gamboa decided that he wanted to put sister missionaries in there. So now we have six missionaries in the house. It’s pretty funny because the house was not built for 6 people, so we have all the beds down in the living room and we use the remaining rooms as study rooms. It’s only temporary until the two elders that got the boot can find a new house so its not a big deal. I’m just enjoying the fact that I’m finally in a house where I have people to talk to, because I have been stuck in a small apartment with just me and my companion most of my mission. A couple of the missionaries are gringos; they both have 7 months or something like that–I can’t remember–I just remember that they are young. It’s funny because they talk like white people and they keep reminding me of stuff that I hadn’t thought about in almost 2 years. An affect of my having lived with Latins my entire mission, except for that two-change stint when I trained Elder Muhlestein.

I am enjoying my new sector. It’s a little hard because it’s sort of a rich area. There are parts that make me feel like I’ve gone back to the states. Several of the neighborhoods are gated and have armed guards that we have to convince to let us get by any time we want to visit someone. So no bamboo houses here. It’s kind of sad because I have spent my entire mission working in the poorer parts of Ecuador and that’s where I would prefer to be–even if the food isn’t as good. The annoying part about these richer sectors is that it’s always harder to find people to teach in places where the people have money; but this is where I was sent and I’m sure there is a reason for it so I’m not complaining. Plus, if I ever miss the bamboo houses to much I can just do an interchange with elders that work in the poorer parts of the zone. On the other hand we did find two new people this week who accepted a baptismal date in the first visit and a couple more who have not agreed to get baptized yet, but seem pretty solid. I’m not exactly sure how things are going to go this change but we are going to work hard and see what happens.

Oh yeah, we had the zone leader consejo this week. It wasn’t as cool as normal because they invited the district leaders to come too and they divided it into 3 consejos so that I didn’t get to see all of my friends who are zone leaders in other zones. They also didn’t buy us a big lunch like they normally do–that was the saddest part–but it was good anyway. Plus, I saw Elder Elwood! I thought he was dead! But apparently he extended his mission 10 days and leaves this Thursday or something. It was funny because he got dengue and was just recovering when I saw him in consejo. He was still pretty pale looking when I saw him. That was for sure the last time I will see him “on this side of the veil.” The next time will be after I get back, I’m sure. I also saw Elder Frye. He told me a ton of funny stories about his companion, and he is training an elder right now who doesn’t speak English or Spanish–just some crazy Indian language that only 500 people in the world know. It seems to me that those folks should teach their kids a second language so that these issues don’t come up, but hey, it makes for a good story right? I think it’s funny that I saw Elder Frye and Elder Elwood. I have seen them almost constantly my entire mission but there are other elders from my group that I hardly even know.

Before I go, I just want to say that World Cup starts soon and I’m ticked because it means the whole world here will be more worried about soccer than talking to us, and it will make our work that much harder, and it doesn’t finish until about the time I go home–so that’s annoying. I think we just need to go and flip the breakers on peoples houses and then knock on their doors and say, “Since you just happen to not have power right now, would it be alright if we share a short message with you that could change your life?” Yep, that seems like a good idea to me.

Te quiero,
Elder Walke