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Elder Walke’s Last Letter

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

¡Hola familia!

Well, today is the big day, my last letter from Ecuador. My “death” is imminent. I wonder what its like on the other side of the veil. I hope they send me to paradise and not spirit prison. Ok, to get things rolling I will fill out this quiz thing you guys made for me about what I’ve missed in the States the last couple years. Ok let’s see how I do.

“What you missed during your best two years” quiz
_____________________________

1.  What is the swine flu?
This one is easy. It’s the nasty flu bug that everyone thought was going to destroy the world. Well, I don’t know if the people there said that, but everyone here thought the sky was falling when that was going down.

2.  Is Tiger Woods still married?
I honestly have no idea. I assume that he’s not or this wouldn’t be on the test.

3.  How does one tweet?
Like this “tweet tweet, tweet, tweet” I’m sorry I don’t think I understand this one. Does it have something to do with that weird new instant messenger type thing that came out about the time I left?

4.  What’s a “snuggie”?

A.  Dad’s new pet name for mom
B.  What Andrea says when she wants to snuggle
C.  Blanket with sleeves
D.  Heated socks used for skiing

I’m guessing “C” because I remember that Tasha was talking about one of those in her mission emails a few months ago but I’ve never seen one before.

5 What is the Deep Water Horizon?

A.  The new Mission to Mars program
B.  The name of a water taxi in The Woodlands
C.  The name of the a deepest underwater cave ever discovered
D.  An oil well that ruptured in the Gulf, causing the largest environmental disaster in US history

“D” — I think. There was some mention of that here; I don’t know much about it though. If it’s A, B, or C then I’m sorry, I have no idea what it is.

6.  What is an iPad?

A.  A high tech pot holder
B.  A personalized feminine product
C.  A new launch pad for the space shuttle
D.  A slate computer made by Apple

The only one that seems plausible is “D”, although this is the first time that I have heard of such a thing. What does it do, and, can I have one?

7.  Whose 2010 wedding was billed as “the wedding of the century” in the US?

A.  Jim and Pam (from The Office)
B.  Chelsea Clinton
C.  Claire from Heroes
D.  Solon McGee

Ok, I don’t think it’s “D” because I can’t see why my cousin’s wedding would make the news. He’s cool and all, but he’s not famous. If is “C” then I’m sad, Claire is a babe. “A” can’t be the answer because that’s a TV show so it wasn’t a real wedding. Hey…wait! They got married on the show? That’s crazy. Ok, so that just leaves “B” — yep, I’m guessing “B”. I’m not sure why that would be “the wedding of the century”. I did hear it mentioned that they spent a ton on the wedding though.

8.  The actor playing this major character has announced he will be leaving The Office after this season.  Who is it?

A.  Michael Scott
B.  Dwight Schrute
C.  Jim Halpert
D.  Tobby Flenderson

It better be “D” because if it’s A, B, or C then I have lost my purpose for living.

9.  What is mom’s favorite game on the iPhone?

The iPhone has games? And mom plays them? Wow, must be a great game. But I have no idea what it is. Not a clue.

10.  What is a “swagger wagon”?

I don’t know a drunken wagon? But I’m pretty sure wagons went out of style a long time ago.
_____________________________

Ok, that’s the quiz. How did I do? That was definitely interesting. I learned a few things about the outside world that I didn’t know before because of it.

So, on to my letter part. First off, Tomas got baptized! So that was good. It was very interesting because the font is broken and still had the water in it that we baptized Manuel in a month ago. So we had to drain it manually. And of course there were no buckets to be found in the church, so we had to use small plastic garbage cans to do it. It took a long time, and it was painful, and hot. By the time we finished I was soaking wet; whether it was font water or sweat, I’m not sure. And I was dead tired too. The funny part was, when we got it down to about 5 inches of water, this guy from the stake showed up with a water pump. Apparently the stake was aware of the problem and had finally decided to do something–right after it didn’t matter at all. Seriously, how ironic is it that the font had been broken all month and the guy shows up to drain it just as we are finishing the job ourselves. Of course the guy made us haul the darn pump in to drain the little bit of water that was left. Luckily the pump only weighed about as much as a small car. Seriously, I have no idea how something so small could be so heavy. It was only a little bigger than a basket ball, but I could barley pick it up. I think it was full of lead or something. It must have weighed a solid 100 pounds. My companion tried to lift it but did it wrong and instantly hurt his back; so I got the privilege of hauling the thing the whole way, and I was already exhausted from draining the font as it was. I’m not sure how I managed to get the thing in, but I did, and we managed to pull the baptism off without any serious problems after that.

On a sadder note, I will not be able to see Elida and Jose get baptized before I leave. My hopes of seeing a family get baptized together on my mission are now over. Elida will be getting baptized but Jose can’t. This weekend a dog bit their 6 year old son and so one of them had to stay home from church with the kid and Jose said he would do it because he doesn’t want to get baptized anyway.

So that’s life. At least I should be able to have one last baptism the Saturday before I leave. We will see how things work out. Well, I’m going to wrap this up now. I just want to finish by saying, “thanks” to all of you:  family, friends, and random strangers, who have been following along these last couple of years as I have been “a wanderer in a foreign land”. There have been a lot of ups and downs but I can honestly say that I have had a good time. I have learned a lot and will always be grateful for the experiences I have had and the people I have met. I love this Church and I know it’s true. I know that we have a prophet of God who guides us, and that the Bible and the Book of Mormon really are the word of God and contain the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. God be with you till we meet again guys! See you on the other side. I love you guys!

Hasta Ver,
Elder Walke

Enduring to the End

Monday, July 26th, 2010

¡Hola familia!

Well the good news is I’m still alive. The bad news is I’m hungry and I haven’t eaten lunch yet. But the good news is that McD´s is just around the corner and I have a coupon for an extra cheese burger with the purchase of any combo. Yeah, free food! Well, it’s free after I buy something anyway. Close enough. Some people would call that a random way to start a letter; I, however, call it a most excellent ice breaker.

Ok now on to business. So this week was a pretty average week, and by average I mean frustrating. We have this one family that we are teaching that is really cool; the dad´s name is Jose and the mom is Elida—my last hope if I want to be able to baptize a family on my mission.  Everything was going well until…you guessed it…it stopped going well. Yesterday, literally all of Elida´s family went over to her house and chewed her out for wanting to get baptized and they were all basically telling her that joining the church would be the worst possible thing she could do. Then they took her away to some other relative’s house so that they could “unbrainwash her” and I haven’t seen her since. So that was bad. We also had a few people not come to church who were supposed to, so they are not going to get baptized until after I go home. It’s sort of strange for me to teach people and basically say, “Look, you can still push for a baptism date on the 17th of August; I mean, I won’t be around to see it, but even so it’s still important that you get baptized”.

This week we also did a couple of interchanges with some elders in my zone, both of whom were being seriously lame and needed a good kick in the back side and a stern talking to, and I was more than willing to give them both. President told me straight up when I came to this zone that I was here because there are some elders who are not doing what they should and he wants them fixed; so I’ve been trying to do just that. The problem is that I can’t be there looking over their shoulder constantly making sure they do what they should. Now I know how President Gamboa feels running an entire mission, and how you guys felt trying to raise me. It all makes so much more sense now.

So apart from preparing the zone to carry on without me, I’ve also been preparing my suitcases so that I don’t have to carry so much stuff back to Texas. It took me a good 5 hours to get all the stuff sorted out and put back in its place. The problem is that every time I had changes, I always just threw everything in and told myself I would sort out the garbage in my next sector. I never did get around to that though—until now. And man did it take a long time to figure out what I want to keep and what I will be throwing away or giving away. I have by no means finished packing; I just thought it would be wise to start now because I wasn’t sure how long it would take to get my stuff ready, and I didn’t want to be up all night the night before packing. So that’s pretty much my life these days—getting ready to leave, beating up on my zone, and feeling frustrated with my program. The other night I was thinking to myself, “Seriously? Is it really going to be this hard right up until the end of my mission? Can’t God just cut me a little slack at the end and let these people get baptized without any major difficulties? I’ve tried to be good and I know I’m not perfect, but can’t He just throw me a bone now that I’m at the end?” But then I remembered that it isn’t Gods plan to make me work hard for two years, and then for the last two weeks pat me on the head and tell me, “Good enough you can go out to play now,” and send me on my merry way. Nope, it doesn’t work that way; my tag still says “Elder Walke” and I’m still set apart as a missionary, so I have to keep on keepin’ on no matter how close or how far away my release date is.

Ok, well, now that that lovely little sentiment is out of the way, I’ve got to go. McD´s is calling my name. Have a great week guys!

Te quiero,
Elder Walke

Wandering in the Desert

Monday, July 19th, 2010

¡Hola familia!

So…. you guys are on vacation. That’s great, I guess. Oh yeah, and you sent me my BYU class schedule, that’s just dandy too. Strangely, none of that stuff made me at all trunky, I really thought the BYU class schedule was going to get me but, nope, still good. I think I’m in denial. I would compare it to when Moses was leading Israel through the desert and what kept everyone going was stories of “the promised land” — a joyful place full of milk and honey where they would live happily ever after. Then they actually got there and they realized it wasn’t going to be such an easy time after all and got scared and ran away to wander 40 more years in the desert. That’s kind of how I feel about the post-mission life; it seemed like a good idea at the time and the legends say its awesome but I think I could use a little more time in the desert.

My zone seems to have sort of fallen on hard times, we didn’t have a single baptism on Saturday and we are only going to have one baptism in the zone this Saturday. I attribute it to several factors but the point is right now we are not doing so well. My sector is doing alright; we have a few solid baptismal dates coming up for the 31 of July and several other people who are coming along too. We had an awesome experience with this guy named Tomas this week as well. There is a sort of soccer type program thing for the primary aged kids in the stake here and they have two coaches–one of those coaches is Tomas. They do the practices on the church property and naturally that raised questions about the church and the other coach, who is a member, answered them and invited Tomas to church. He came and so we decided it would probably be a good idea if we teach him since he lives in our sector and all. So to make a medium-sized story shorter because I’m too lazy to write it, Tomas quickly decided that the church is true and that he should get baptized…some day. For some reason people always think they need to memorize all the scriptures or something before they get baptized. So we tried to explain to him that he just needs to obey Gods commandments in order to qualify to be baptized but he wouldn’t budge. Then I pulled out one of my favorite, “so you don’t want to get baptized, huh?” scriptures — Alma 32:16. It basically says, “More blessed is he that is baptized without being obligated to know the word before he will commit,” or something like that (you get the idea). So anyway, a strange thing happened, he agreed to get baptized! He read the scripture and said, “Hey you are right, there it is right there in the scriptures. Wow it’s like the Lord put that there just for me. Ok I will get baptized; what day did you say? The 31st right?” All I’m going to say is that almost never works. For me it was living proof of the scripture where the Lord says, “My sheep know my voice and follow me,” because, even though we couldn’t convince him, one verse from the Lord did the trick. So that was cool.

Anyway, I’m going to end this letter now. Oh yeah, this week was my last zone leader consejo. So because we are going home soon they had all the old zone leaders give their last testimony. When they announced all the names Sister Gamboa said, “Wait a minute; you can’t all go home at once!” They both seem to be a little worried since a full half of the zone leaders are going home this change. The testimony meeting was awesome. I won’t mention any names but a few elders may have shed tears. It was a good experience all in all. It’s hard to believe that I won’t be around for the next round of changes though. Ok with that, I’m going to sign off. Have a great week guys.

Te quiero,
Elder Walke

Elder Janampa, A Great Missionary, Goes Home

Monday, July 12th, 2010

¡Hola familia!

Today is a sad day in the Ecuador Guayaquil North Mission—Elder Janampa went home. He tried to extend his mission one more change but they wouldn’t let him. So today I dropped him off in the mission offices and got a new companion. Also, both Elder Dayton and Elder Hasvold got transferred. This last change we did a lot of work and had a lot of fun. It was one of the highlights of my mission for sure; it’s sad to see it end. It was also really hard to see Elder Janampa go home because he was a great missionary and he was pretty worried about what he is going to do when he gets back. Watching him I felt like I was looking at my future in a month and I gotta say, it didn’t make me very excited about going home. Elder Janampa was definitely one of my favorite companions. I hope things work out for him. We had a pretty good last week this week and finished it off Sunday doing a training meeting to teach the ward mission leaders and ward missionaries in the stake. It went well. I’m not exactly sure if any of them will actually apply the stuff we taught but hey, at least we made the effort. We also created a new record for the stake (with help from one of the stake president’s councilors) that the ward mission leaders will have to use to register the efforts of the mission leaders and ward missionaries. I’m proud of it. Now the ward mission leaders will have to report their efforts every week to a member of the stake presidency, so they are going to have to know the investigators and recent converts better. They will also be more responsible for visiting these people as well. I’m sure it will take a while to get the wards used to using it but the stake presidency in Orquideas is awesome and they will be diligent about getting them to use it for sure.

So my new companion is Elder Tituaña from Otavalo (here in Ecuador). I’ve met him before; he was in my zone when I was in Jipijapa. Not that it’s too surprising that I know him. After almost 23 months I do seem to know a lot of elders. I’m stoked about having a companion from Otavalo. My entire mission I have wanted to learn Quechua. I have a book of Mormon in Quechua and everything, but I have never had anyone that could explain it to me. I tried to figure it out on my own but the grammar is crazy. I could only figure out what a few of the words mean. The bad news is that I will only have 4 weeks to learn it—just my luck. But hopefully he will help me get a good start and I will be able to study it on my own once I get a base. I’m also kind of worried that, now that Elder Janampa is gone, I won’t be able to find my way around this sector. I’m terrible with directions as it is but this sector is bad; every street looks exactly the same. The only thing that is going to save me is that here in Guayaquil the houses actually have block and house numbers, something that the rest of Ecuador doesn’t have. So if worse comes to worse, I can just wander around until I run into the block number I’m looking for.

Ok well, I’m done writing. To close I would just like to share with you the scripture that is my theme for the next month. I have it written in Spanish on my planner but the following is the rough translation:

“Let us work diligently, because if we cease to work, we will fall under condemnation. Because we have a work to do while in this tabernacle of clay, that we may defeat the enemy of all righteousness, and rest our souls in the kingdom of God.”
(Moroni 9:6)

Te quiero,
Elder Walke

A Memorable Birthday

Monday, July 5th, 2010

¡Hola familia!

Well, this letter will be a little short because I’m sort of out of time this week. Today is super P-day and we did us a lot of cleaning today. But hey, it’s all good because this was my last super P-day. Never again will I do such a big cleaning job. Well, never again in Ecuador anyway. Honestly, it’s a little weird for me that in just over a month I will be back in Texas. I’m having a hard time believing that it has really been two years already. It really hit me when I turned 21 on Saturday. I was thinking, “Oh my gosh…I’m old! When did that happen?” I would like to extend my mission and stick around for a few months but I can’t. I must grow up eventually…darn it all. I was complaining about it this week and Elder Janampa pulled out a conference talk from May 2008 about moving on with our lives—he was right. But I really don’t want to have to do math homework again!

We had sort of a rough week in our sector. First, we had a bit of a rough time with the ward mission leader, and then we had a few food-related incidents. I will relay just one of them here [Editor’s note:  the others are too unpleasant for this forum and have been removed for the sake of the children and those with weak stomachs].  Remember how there is a volcano that is erupting in Ecuador and how it’s dropping a lot of ash on the country? Well, it’s not dropping much in Guayaquil these days but there is still a fair amount of it in the streets and such. So as I was eating my soup, somebody dropped something heavy and it shook the walls of the house a little bit, causing a small cloud of volcano ash to fall in my soup and my drink, making it look as though someone had dumped a fair amount of pepper in it. Then I just sat there a moment and stared at it thinking, “No, I don’t believe it. Not 3 days in a row. It’s my birthday for crying out loud.” Then I did the only thing I could do…I ate it. I pretended it really was pepper. You may not know this but being a missionary requires a good imagination. So that was my birthday lunch.

Right after lunch I started my fast because this Sunday was fast Sunday. So in answer to your question, “Did the cake we ate in your birthday video look good?” Yes, yes it did. And to finish my tale of woe, I’ve lost several pairs of my socks. But hey, the good news is Manuel got the priesthood this week! And he and his wife are getting called as ward missionaries next week. So that kind of balanced out all that other stuff that we went through this week. Plus, we started teaching someone this week that is Ecuadorian but has been living in Florida the last 5 years and is progressing well. She even came to church once. So I may baptize someone who lives in the states because she doesn’t go back home until a couple days after I do. That would be cool.

Ok its defiantly time for me to stop writing. Have a great week you guys and have fun in Utah.

Te quiero,
Elder Walke

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

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