Stake and Zone Conference Week

Written by admin on 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

Written by admin on 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

Written by admin on 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

Written by admin on 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

The Lord Looketh on the Heart

Written by admin on April 26th, 2010

¡Hola familia!

How’s life in Tejas? Sounds like school is slowing down and summer is just about to begin. That still seems odd to me for many reasons. I think that I’m going to change subjects though or this letter will end up being trunky. And I’m not trunky. So we didn’t end up having consejo this week. I guess President Gamboa wasn’t in the country for some reason, so consejo is going down tomorrow.

This week was good too; I learned a lot. We had a couple of interesting issues come to light with a few of the missionaries in the zone, and I learned an interesting lesson about 1 Samuel 16:7 ,”Man looketh on the outward appearance but the Lord looketh on the heart.” They are all good elders but sometimes they need help (and a swift kick in the back side) in order to get back on track. And of course when there is a problem in the zone nobody ever wants to say anything until it’s too late; so recently I’ve been learning to trust a little more in the Lord and a little less in how my zone seems to be doing. On the whole things are going really well though. All of the baptisms for April are in (this Saturday and Sunday is the start of May) and the zone total was 17. Just so you know that’s a good thing. I was pleased anyway. In December the total was 6 and that number has been creeping up every month and it looks like it will continue to do so in May.

In my sector things are looking good as well. The family that lives way out in the middle of nowhere (the Cuenca family) is doing well. The mom (Jessica) is awesome; she has a powerful testimony. Even though they have to wake up at 5 a.m. every Sunday to get to church on time, they are always one of the first families in the chapel. The one problem that we have with them is the marriage that has to happen before she can get baptized. With the husband down in Guayaquil working almost constantly, it’s almost impossible for us to make it happen. But luckily tomorrow we will be in Guayaquil and we, being the forward thinkers that we are, are trying to arrange a meeting with the guy so that we can make this wedding happen. It’s all very tricky and making it all happen will take a miracle (or two) but hey, that’s part of our job description right?

In other news, I almost got robbed, again. This time it wasn’t the house. We were sitting outside of the Miranda family’s house waiting for the kids to get there when I noticed a guy down the street who was staring us down. He was making me nervous because he was dressed in a manner which some would consider “fly”– big sunglasses, baggy cloths, chains, etc. And he looked like he couldn’t decide if he wanted to come over to us or not. Now I know for a fact that there is a gang that lives a little higher up on that hill because the people have told us, and I have talked to them once. Most of the time as missionaries we can go places that are dangerous and nothing happens, but you can tell when they are up to no good. And so it was in this case. So I leaned over and said, “Hey Elder Ruiz. I think we are about to get robbed.” And he looked over at the guy and said, “I think you are right, let’s get out of here.” So we stood up, turned the corner, and split. It was sort of like playing hide and seek, but with guns. So yes, I enjoyed it. I would like to get robbed at least once before my mission ends but I’m not going to make it easy. Man I love this country.

Te quiero,

Elder Walke

Change Day in Portoviejo

Written by admin on April 19th, 2010

¡Hola familia!

So its change day and guess what? I’m still in Portoviejo! Yep I know, it’s a shocker. I’m pretty tired right now so no complaints about the quality or length of the letter this week ok? First off on the list of events this week, Elder Fonseca got the boot, and guess what? I totally predicted where he was going to get transferred. He has spent most of his mission on the coast so I was telling him all week that he was going to get shipped off to Los Rios to die…and he did. I also made a couple of other predictions about changes that were fulfilled too. I think I may be a prophet, or at least a really good guesser. Yes, I have finally been here long enough that I can give accurate predictions about changes! Of course, it may have just been luck and next change I will get it all completely wrong like usual. Yeah, that’s probably it.

So Elder Fonseca got transferred out on Wednesday morning, and when I say morning, I mean 4 am. And since he was the only person who got transferred that day, I had to go all the way to Guayaquil with him and bring my new companion back. That was fun and contributed to today’s tiredness but isn’t the main factor. My new comp is Elder Ruiz from panama, not to be confused with Elder Ruiz from Costa Rica, my companion in Jipijapa. He seems like a good guy but I don’t have much to say yet on that front, perhaps more in the weeks to come. Then Thursday we went on a road trip trying to find the house of a family that lives on a small farm about an hour outside of Portoviejo. Apparently Elder Bartholome baptized this 13 year old girl down in Guayaquil during the Ecuadorian equivalent of summer vacation and now that classes are back in she is back home in Portoviejo, and last week she brought her mom and two younger sisters to church. It’s a great family and all but they really live in the middle of nowhere. It’s over an hour outside of Portoviejo in bus and then after the bus it’s another 20-minute trip down a dirt road just to get to where they live. Just to visit this one family we basically have to dedicate an entire day because Thursday we left at 2 pm and didn’t get back to Portoviejo until 6:30 pm. So that has taken a serious hit to our weekly plans and we can only visit them once a week and the dad works in Cuenca or Quito or something like that and is only in Portoviejo a couple of days once every two weeks and they are not married so if they are ever going to get baptized we are going to have to plan well or it will never work out but they came to church again yesterday so at least they seem to be willing to work with us, that’s helpful.

Oh and I will tell you about last nights adventures so that you can understand and appreciate why I’m tired today. So we had changes and Bahia was sleeping in our house because they are far away and had to come to our house to sleep so that they would be closer to Guayaquil and not have to take a bus at 1 am (because 4 am is more reasonable apparently) so that meant we had to wake up before 4 am so that we could take them to the bus port in Portoviejo and we didn’t get back until about 5 am which left us with a little time left to rest until we had to get up for real at 6:30 am. Now if that had been all the fun we had that night I would be ok right now but we also had an unplanned awakening at 2:30 am. We live on the second floor and on the first floor of the house where we live the people started screaming at the top of their lungs, “ladron, ladron!” Which, by interpretation is, “thieve, thieve!” It seems some guy was picking at the bars on their window trying to break in. When the people started screaming the guy bolted and a couple of guys from the house soon tried unsuccessfully to catch him. It was pretty unsettling for me because we don’t have bars on our windows and we always sleep with the windows wide open because we don’t have A/C and concrete houses with closed windows are not conducive to a good nights sleep. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why the guy didn’t just try and break into our house; it would have been much easier. Then again, maybe he was and what the people in the house below us heard was the guy trying to scale the wall and not picking at their bars. It seems more plausible to me. I remember that when I was in Babahoyo the house Elder Mitton was in had a similar break in. Anyway, we have decided that it would be in our best interest to sleep with the windows closed for a while. I really didn’t sleep well after that; I kept having weird dreams about people breaking into the house. I remember in one of them the person trying to break in was Elder Fonseca and I punched him in the face and he said, “hey, what was that for?” And I said, “wait a minute, shouldn’t you be in Los Rios?” The funniest one was mixed with the changes because I dreamed that one of the elders that was getting changed was robbed and lost all of his suitcases and for some reason we went to the store and bought a bunch of gangster style clothing (hats, dark glasses, baggy cloths, etc) so that we could sneak into the house where the guy lived and steal it back. Sometimes my dreams can be a little bizarre. So that’s the story of how I wasn’t robbed this morning.

And I had some other stuff to tell you but I’m tired and don’t feel like typing anymore. Have a loverly week guys. Happy birthday on Saturday mom! Hey, it’s great that you guys sent me a calendar that has all of these dates written on them already so that I’m less likely to forget them. Anyway, like I was saying before, happy birthday mom. Talk to you soon!

Te quiero,
Elder Walke

Changes

Written by admin on April 13th, 2010

Hola familia!

Well it’s that time again, that time when missionaries can get transferred any day of the week. Yep, I really do not like changes. The good news is that once this week is over things should calm down a bit around here. Ok maybe not because the fact that this is the last week means that next Friday is Consejo. Hurrah for 3 a.m. bus trips! And then the next week is probably interviews with the president and zone conference. And of course the odd trip to Bahia or Chone thrown in for good measure. Ok maybe things aren’t about to calm down around here after all.

I have been out of my sector a lot lately. In fact, in the two week period from March 24 to April 7 I have been out of my sector 9 days and working in it 6 days. Sad. I was out of my sector on the 6th and 7th because we did interchanges 2 days in a row. That wasn’t pleasant, it was brought on more because of need than desire but the point is we did it. I had to be the one who left the sector both times because I am better at saving my money than Elder Fonseca (I was running a little higher on cash than him) and interchanges always suck your money away faster than a normal day in your own sector even though not much traveling was required because both interchanges were here in Portoviejo. Back in the old days I loved interchanges because I got to hang out with some other missionary that wasn’t my companion for a day. It was nice, fun even. Now it’s just a pain; mostly it’s just more work because I’m supposed to basically analyze everything the missionary does so that I can help them out and write a lovely little report to president about how they are doing. I hate paperwork. Ok honestly, the paperwork isn’t so bad but it’s the being on my best behavior all the time that gets to me.

Oh so I haven’t mentioned this yet but Elder Fonseca is still hanging around here. My guess is that the office will call Thursday night with his transfer but he may make it as far as Sunday night before they call him. The point is, one of us has to get transferred. I have never heard of two zone leaders staying together for more than 2 changes. We get transferred around too often to be together longer. We have had a good run though; he’s a good guy. With luck Elder Elwood will get transferred over here for his last change before he dies. Or maybe Elder Frye will get transferred in, although I doubt that because he just got transferred 6 weeks ago to Duran so I don’t think that will happen. All of my other friends that I can think of at the moment are dead or dying this week so I don’t really have any predictions for my next companion. Although I do have a secret desire to train again. Now that I have trained a gringo I would like to train a Latin. I have no idea if there will even be many new missionaries coming in this change but I can dream.

You may have noticed that this letter has been all about changes and nothing else. That’s because I have nothing else to talk about. It’s been a rather normal week. Elder Garcia got transferred today; he has been the only one so far. So now we are down a district leader and district meeting is tomorrow. Hmm, I hope the new guy is a district leader or we may end up teaching Elder Garcia’s district tomorrow. Ok well its time to wrap this letter up. There are only so many things that I can say about changes before even I get bored. Have an awesome week everyone.

Te quiero,
Elder Walke

General Conference Week

Written by admin on April 5th, 2010

¡Hey family!

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.

Te quiero,
Elder Walke

Just Another Day in the Life of a Zone Leader

Written by admin on March 31st, 2010

¡Hola familia!

How you doin? I’m just peachy. Life here is busy as always; I guess it has been a little more eventful than usual. I didn’t get to work as much in my sector as I would have liked, though; this week we had to go to Chone on Wednesday and Bahia de Caraquez on Friday and Thursday we had a baptism (Bladimir got dunked, hurrah!) and a ward activity, so after all is said and done, actual teaching this week was rather lacking. I guess I will start with the Chone trip in chronological order. The main reason for our trips to both Chone and Bahia this week was because of baptismal interviews. Normally when we have such needs we do interchanges with the elders of the aforementioned sector in order to keep the work moving in our sector, but Elder Cruz’s companion was sick so both Elder Fonseca and I had to go up there, do the interviews, and come back the same day. Chone is a constant headache for us. The interviews are not a problem; I wish that the elders in this zone baptized so much that we never have the chance to see our sector because of all the interviews we have to do. Chone is a headache because there are so many problems with that house. They rarely have running water and there is a random $4,000 dollar light bill that the electric company is constantly trying to make them pay, so the company comes and cuts the power every few days and they have to fight to get it back and we are stuck in the middle trying to fix it all. I have managed to prove that they can’t make us pay more than $400 of the bill, but it’s still way high. Every time I have gone to Chone I have to help them out with it all. The main issue is that we really just need to get those guys out of that house. It’s a really ugly house anyway. I think they finally found a new apartment but the problem is that it’s being renovated and it’s hard to find an apartment in Chone that meets the church’s requirements, so they are stuck waiting for it to be done.

So Wednesday after the interviews, they took us over to the apartment so that we could decide if it is going to work. It seems OK but the people are taking forever to finish the renovations, so while we were there Elder Cruz told the owners that I was there doing inspections and how I was their leader and such to try and get them to finish the apartment faster. My part was to act like I’m actually an important leader and that I know what I’m doing (I have to do that a lot actually) and it worked because I guess they have picked up the pace on the repairs. Other than that Chone is good, other than the fact that the city is half flooded right now because of the rain but that’s just life.

Thursday was our baptism. It was good; I saw part of the Cantos family so that made my day. I asked them for references because they have a lot of family here in Portoviejo. They gave me a few and promised to send a list of their relatives along with addresses, soon so hopefully they won’t forget. Right after the baptism there was a talent show.  I don’t know why they did it because my baptism was planned way before their darn talent show but it happened anyway. The elders quorum chose to sing a few Latin songs and invited Elder Fonseca and me to join in on the last one. It was “La Bamba”, and I dominated. I may decide to be a Latin rock star after my mission. One of the members recorded it so I will have to try and get a copy for you guys because it was funny.

Then Friday we went to Bahia—that was an interesting trip. First we had to take the bus to Bahia (2 hours) then we did an interchange and Elder Fonseca stayed in Bahia with Elder Mitchell and I left with Elder Quinde to continue our journey on to a very small town called Coaque (I think that’s how you spell it). That was an adventure. First we had to cross the bay in a small boat. Then we hopped a bus and traveled 3 hours until we got to…nowhere. Even people living in small towns in Nebraska would laugh at how small this town is. It’s pretty impressive…and sad. I really felt bad for the people there, not so much because of the poverty (and yes, all of them are very poor), but because of the way of life they lead. There is little to no education available in an Ecuadorian town so small and so far from everything, and apart from that in the short time I was there I saw that many of the people are just not very nice to each other or to their families. I have learned a lot since I came to Ecuador and I have learned that its amazing how much people can go without and still lead happy lives, but one thing people (and especially kids) should never have to go without is a family that loves them. It is a very beautiful place up there though. The bus from Bahia to Coaque follows the coast most of the way so we had the Ecuadorian wilderness on one side, blue ocean on the other, and the occasional small town every now and then. It was like something out of a movie, definitely the best 3 hour bus ride of my life. I really was blessed to get to get to serve a mission in this part of the world. I wasn’t smart enough to bring my camera but luckily Elder Quinde brought one and we took a few pictures. On the way back we were waiting for the boat to come and pick us up so we could cross the bay and the sun was setting over the city and it looked so cool we couldn’t resist taking some pictures. It was pretty goofy because the whole time we took shots with us looking off into the distance or sitting on some steps looking contemplative and mysterious. A couple of the pictures turned out really well. I was pretty pleased with my amazing picture taking skills. Sadly, it wasn’t my camera so I can’t send the pictures until I get the disk from Elder Mitchell that he is going to burn for me.

So all of these trips we have been taking cost money, money which we do not have. I’m pretty much flat broke right now and we don’t get money until Saturday. Chone cost me $4, not bad. but Bahia cost $2 to get up there, $0.30 to cross the bay, $3 to get to Coaque, and then all of those prices again in the return trip plus one taxi ($1) in total Bahia cost me $11.60 pus $4 from Chone equals $15.60 just for those two trips. Plus we have interviews with President Gamboa today in Manta and zone conference tomorrow, also in Manta. That’s another $6 total for those trips. Minus the $7 that I have to pay the mamita to wash my clothes over that same two week period and when you put it all together you can see how the $78 I started with last week isn’t quite covering all the expenditures I have in my own sector.

Luckily, I got mom’s package this week! Hurrah, I won’t starve! (This week). The new ties are sweet. I really like the green, black, and blue one. I really like green ties in general for some reason. Anyway, that’s the tie I’m wearing right now. I figured it would be a good one for interviews. Tomorrow I’m going to wear the other one for zone conference. I sure like getting new ties. I get sick of wearing the same ones every day. Yep, I’m easy to please.

Oh yeah, we also had an interchange with Elder Sanchez, one of the assistants, yesterday. I have no idea why; they just showed up Saturday night and told us that Elder Sanchez was going to hang out with us for a couple days. He left this morning but it was good I guess, sort of random though.  The last time I had an interchange with an assistant was when Elder Bryan came to Babahoyo with me and Elder Fuentemavida and a couple weeks later Elder Fuentemavida was made assistant, so I have a theory that my companion is going to be in the office soon, but I don’t want to scare him so I’m going to keep it to myself and see what happens. Plus I will look like a fool if I tell him he is going to the office and then he doesn’t go. After all, my predictions rarely turn out to be correct. Last night I kept having to call everyone in the zone because the office kept changing stuff about the interviews (what time they will be at, what to bring etc.). So last night I kept having “nightmares” about interviews today. It was really dumb. At one point I dreamed that President Gamboa told me that all the elders would need to bring a glass of water to interviews. So I was running around trying to find cups and water for 16 elders. When I woke up I was still thinking, “Where am I going to find 16 cups?” And then I realized it was a dream and felt stupid.

Well, that’s the news from Portoviejo.  General Conference starts Saturday! I am stoked. Pray that we can find a way to get all of our investigators to conference this weekend. Have a great Easter!

Te quiero,
Elder Walke

“Golden Family” Getting Baptized

Written by admin on March 23rd, 2010

¡Hola familia!

It’s so hot here! I know that may come as a shock to you guys but its true. Ecuador is really hot. It must have something to do with the fact that I live at the equator. Actually, I think that in order to get to Chone when we do interchanges up there I have to cross the equator; that’s how close to the line I am. I started out talking about the weather this week because dad said that it’s a really cliché way to start an email so I figured I would give it a shot.

In other news, Josue got baptized! I’m very happy about it because of all the people I have baptized I think he has had the most barriers to overcome. He is definitely in the top 3. So he got baptized on Friday and I think I mentioned that we had another guy named Bladamir that was supposed to get baptized this week too but it didn’t happen. He is still going to get baptized but his girlfriend wants to come up and she couldn’t make it Saturday so we had to postpone it a little. So he will get baptized this Thursday and the funny part was when he mentioned that she was from Guayaquil I said, “Really? Hey, I lived in Guayaquil for a few months, what part?” And it just so happens that she lives very close to where I used to live. In fact, she was in my ward in Guayaquil. And it just so happens that I baptized her cousin, her cousin’s son and her brother-in-law while I was there. Orlando, David, and Ivan were all members of the famous Cantos family down in the Gallegos Lara ward. It’s a small, small world. So this Thursday I will get to see a few people from my old sector and I’m excited about it. I’m hoping that they will bring the whole clan up but I doubt it.

Last night we also had a cool experience—there is a family that we have been teaching for a couple of weeks who all came to church yesterday and we were quite pleased because it was the first time that that dad (Luis) had come and the second time that the mom (Evelin) and son (Jordano) had come and they are all progressing well. Last night we taught them and Evelin had prayed and received a powerful answer so we invited them to be baptized and they all accepted instantly. So they are getting baptized on the 10th of April. All they really need now is to get married, of course. Luis doesn’t drink, which automatically means that they need to get married because everyone in Ecuador either needs to get married or stop drinking or both. But it won’t be a problem because marriages are easy, alcohol is the bugger. I’m really excited for this family because it will be the first time that I have baptized an entire family. I have baptized parts of families or families where one of the spouses was already a member but I have never baptized a mom, dad, and kid in the same night. So that’s the news for now. Have a wonderful week. In two weeks its general conference time and we get to hear the prophet. Goodbye.

Te quiero,
Elder Walke