Spencer is from Canton, Michigan and is called to serve in the Ecuador Quito North Mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from July 2014 - July 2016.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Week #22 - East Quito, Ecuador - December 29, 2014

Dear Family and Friends,

For me this has been probably one of the longest weeks I have had in a long time. Many interesting things have happened as well...

For Christmas and Christmas Eve, the president told us to be in our houses early. I guess there are some crazy traditions here in Ecuador. The parties are like non-stop and sometimes get out of control, although I've heard it's only going to get worse on New Years Day and New years eve. That should be interesting...

So this week, the zone leaders did something different at our zone meeting. The president told all the zone leaders to collect all of the USB and memory cards for cameras and/or computers, or anything else that holds memory from all the missionaries. I'm not sure why...Anyway, because of this I won't be able to send any pictures this week. I had a bunch I wanted to send from the p-day that I took to the "Middle if the World" (La Mitad del Mundo) last week. Hopefully I can send them next week, or until further notice...

This week has been a lot harder with missionary work. A lot of the people we are teaching, members and investigators, went to Otavalo, or to Esmeraldas which is on the coast. So instead, my companion and I have gone on a lot of divisions and took turns switching sectors helping each other.

There's a park where there is a lot of stray dogs in the other sector. Every time we walk around that park, there is a dog who follows us until we walk too far away from its "home." And every time it's the same dog who follows us. He will follow us to appointments we have with members and investigators, and once we are done we always find the same dog waiting for us outside the house. As we are sitting here reading our emails, the same dog is actually sitting outside waiting for us right now :p Funny!

I really want to thank everyone for your help and advice to me the last several weeks! You guys have really helped me. Apparently I'm not the only other missionary in this situation. There are 2 other Americans in my zone who are having lots of challenges with their companions too. We've talked with the more "experienced" missionaries and they have told us that the 3rd transfer in the field is always the hardest for many missionaries in this mission. One of the sister missionaries told me that the 3rd transfer is "the break it or make it" transfer. According to her, if you can get through your 3rd transfer, then you can get through the entire mission! Well only 2 more weeks with my current companion! I can do it :D Although I am deathly afraid that I will stay with him for 6 more weeks...or if I do transfer, get someone who is more disobedient, or someone who will hate me more...I guess we will see what happens...

I hope that you guys had a wonderful Christmas! This Christmas for me was definitely different from what I'm used to, but it has been great none the less. Thank you for your prayers and for your advice. You guys have definitely strengthened me. I love you all and I wish you all a happy New Year 2015!

Elder Dyal

Friday, December 26, 2014

Week #21 - East Quito, Ecuador - December 24, 2014

Dear Family and Friends,

This has felt like a very long week. Because I've been having so many problems with my companion, I wrote an email to the mission president about what has been going on. I told him that my companion doesn't follow the rules and doesn't like me because I try to make sure we follow the rules. We have had many fights, and several times my companion has threatened to beat me up. He has told me straight up that he doesn't like me. I didn't want to continue the terrible pattern we have, and the burden of me pushing him every single day to do what we need to be doing, and in turn have him hate me. I've seen the same behavior with many of the missionaries in my zone as well. I also told the mission president in the email that our zone meetings are never productive because of lack of respect and lack of order. One of the other missionaries as well as the sister missionaries in my zone have been very frustrated as well. 

So because of my complaints about the behavior of my zone to the mission president, he showed up to our zone meeting with one of the assistant last Thursday. That seemed to whip everyone into shape! We actually had our district meeting first, and then the zone meeting (instead of just the zone meeting). It was nice to have things run more smoothly. The president and his assistant really lectured us and even told one of the missionaries to get his hair cut because it was too long for missionary standards. 

Other then that, truthfully the missionary work has been slow. And I still continue to have problems with my companion. I have tried being patient with him but I guess I lost my patience last week. I think what made me finally lose it was on Saturday, we were tracting and I was doing all the talking and he was just hiding behind every door. I asked him if he was afraid of talking to people. That made him really angry with me and he finally threatened to punch me right then and there. At that point, I took the phone and called the mission president. We made an appointment to go the next day (Sunday) to the mission home and talk with him.

On Sunday morning, we went to church first. We currently have one investigator but she didn't show up because she went to Otavalo for Christmas. After church and lunch we went to the mission home and talked with the president. He talked to us separately first, then together. He told me that he judges the North Americans more harshly because of their background and for lots of us because we were born into the church. I talked with him a lot longer then he talked with my companion...and in the end I probably walked away feeling more guilty than he did. I guess I don't feel like he judged us fairly because I feel like he forgot my companion's threats towards me. I still feel a little unsafe to be with him, but I do have to say that since then, things seem to be a little better, so I guess I shouldn't complain. Hopefully it stays that way and there are no more threats to beat me up. I will do my best to withstand everything else, I just don't want to feel unsafe that he will get so angry and punch me or beat me up. 
On Monday we had our Christmas meeting and "formal party" at the mission home. I got to talk with the missionaries of Quito Oeste and the missionaries in my group. Apparently a couple elders in my group got assaulted and mugged in a particularly dangerous part of the city. The robbers beat them up, took their stuff, and ran off. But miraculously the police arrived like minutes after, and in the words of one of these elders, "beat the living crap out of them." As missionaries, we are told not to fight back when something like this happens but he said that even if he could, he wouldn't have needed to because he has never seen anyone get beaten up so bad by anyone as he watched the police beat them up. Made me feel glad I live in a "richer" part of the city where things like that don't happen as often.

I talked a lot with another elder in my zone. I have never seen anyone as spoiled as him. He literally gets like 2 packages a week from his family because he is an only child and the first in his family to go on a mission. Apparently he received so many packages that the mission president emailed his mom asking her to stop sending so many things because it's hard for him to focus on his work with the packages always arriving for him. This Elder assured his parents that he can focus just fine (apparently, they became very worried that he wasn't focused), so they don't send as many as they used to, but he still gets a lot. Although it was pretty interesting when he received a packages and 3 letters from home at the zone meeting last  Thursday as the mission president was sitting right behind him. He was trying to hide it so the president couldn't see. Haha!

Anyway at the "party/meeting" we had lunch, played a gift opening/exchanging game where I ended up with a spider man action figure. Although it could have been worse since 2 out of 3 of the assistants ended up some crazy gifts...fake eye lashes and a tiny, girly, money purse. Oh, and one of the sister missionaries ended up with shoe polish. Haha!

All in all it was an interesting week. Sorry I talked a lot about other elders but honestly nothing much besides these things happened to me this week. Haha! Anyways thank you for your emails and prayers. I wish everyone of you a Merry Christmas! Until next week...(which will be on Mondays again.)

Elder Dyal 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Week #20 - East Quito, Ecuador - December 15, 2014

Dear family and friends,

This has been a interesting and a very full week. I'm starting to notice a pattern here in Quito (interesting and full!)...Haha!

On Tuesday my companion and I went on divisions with the ZL's. We taught a short lesson to a guy who has been taking the discussions and who committed to baptism a few weeks earlier. My companion and I went back to visit him a few days later but for some reason, this time we met him in a weird back alley area. While we were talking to him, we were confronted by a lady who didn't like us being there. She made a huge scene and yelled at us and told us to leave. Every time we have returned to that same area, there has been a person or a group of people who have yelled at us. So, not surprisingly the guy we were teaching didn't come to church on Sunday. Either that or he forgot...he was an older gentleman, like 80 something years old or something.

My "campaign" that I spoke of last week of giving as many lessons as possible has been falling apart. This week we have mostly concentrated on the people that my companion and I or previous missionaries have contacted about the church. Most of these contacts told us that they have lost interest or that they have decided to stay with their other church...Usually the Catholic church or Jehovah Witnesses. So I have decided to try a different approach. I looked in the area book for people we don't know, instead of ones we have contacted or lost interest. We'll see if that works...We keep praying for people who will be interested in learning and have interest in coming to church.

Although really what made this week hard is the difficulties between me and my new companion. We've only been together for 2 weeks and he has been very unpredictable and we've had a rough time getting along! We don't see missionary work the same way. He doesn't follow the rules and doesn't like to work as hard as I think we should. We've had many talks about it this week, and I'm hopeful it will get better, but I don't know. I'm mostly concerned because I feel like the spirit isn't with us when it should be. If that's the case, then no one is going to want to listen to us...So this is crucial! But looking at the positive side, I have found out that it's been helpful to me because I have been the one who has been making sure we stay on task.  I also do all the planning, revise the area book, and all the stuff like that. It's helping me become a better leader and hopefully be a good example. 

The ward had a Christmas talent show this weekend. They asked the missionaries to do something for it so we preformed a skit. It was about a new missionary, which of course was played by me (because I am the newest). The skit started with me at the airport as I was leaving to go on my mission. I left my girl friend at the airport, who said she was going to wait for me. In the next scene, I got a letter in the MTC from her and got really excited. Then I got a new companion who was super happy to have me as a companion. I was beyond excited. We began talking to people on the street but then I got sprayed in the face with water and robbed while my companion ran for his life and left me behind. Then I got a dear john letter from my girlfriend saying she married my brother instead. But in the end we ended up baptizing the robbers because one of the things they robbed was my Book of Mormon and they read it and wanted to be baptized. It was pretty funny. Although, now the entire ward now asks me if my girlfriend has married my brother yet! Hahaha!

So, that was a brief summary of my week. I hope you guys had a wonderful week and hopefully had a chance to bear your wonderful testimonies with someone. Thank you for all your prayers. I always need them, especially right now! I love you all!

Elder Dyal

 The Castano Family with Elder Dyal and Elder Caballero
They were one of the very first families that Spencer taught when he first arrived in Cayambe and was companions with Elder Arcaya
 Elder Dyal and some of the kids in his branch when he was in Cayambe

Elder Dyal and his new companion

He hung the Christmas tree up on the wall 

Elder Dyal is bowling on P-day last week 

Bowling on P-day last week

Monday, December 8, 2014

Week #19 - East Quito, Ecuador - December 8, 2014

Dear Friends and Family,

Goodness, this week has been full of so many things! I only hope that I will be able to remember them all...

So, my current companion's former companion, apparently had a kind of "I don't care attitude" from what I have heard. And oh my goodness, the house certainly showed it! He left behind sooooo many things...it's ridiculous! Shoes, bed sheets, shampoo, underclothing, and a backpack. Although I shouldn't complain too much because he also left a watch which was something I needed cuz I lost my other one. I was feeling pretty naked without one! :p Also he left a big bottle of lotion which was good cuz I was running low. But the house was so disorganized; pamphets, pencils, and papers everywhere. The trash can was extremely full and infested with flies!! And I'm not even going to talk about the bathroom! Needless to say, I had a talk with my companion about how things are going to be different here with me!

My new area or sector is huge!!!!! It takes a good 10 minute bus ride from one end to the another. And in my zone, there are missionaries from my group from when we arrived in Ecuador. It was great to see them again and will be awesome to work with them. My area is nicknamed "The Garden of Eden" I think mostly because it has a mall in it called "Quicentro". However, as massive and awesome as it is in my new area, I was really surprised to learn that we have no investigators or any less actives. I almost didn't believe my companion when he told me that. So needless to say, I came up with a campaign of tracting to as many houses as I could here, which my companion didn't like so much. The people are a lot harder to talk to about the church and I was surprised to hear that so many people here don't believe in God. That's unheard of in Cayambe. But after a while, I stopped counting the number of people telling us "No Gracias". We got maybe 3 people who were interested in talking to us or having us come back again. Unfortunately, it's been difficult to find a time to actually meet with them and their families. Although, we do have a ton of recent converts who have given us many references, but out of the ones we've contacted so far, only 2 are actually interested. 

So, even though it's much harder to do missionary work in Quito than it was in Cayambe, I have really enjoyed it here this last week. I'm now in an actual ward instead of a branch which is great. And the members are awesome! One thing I've noticed in the ward, and really in all of Quito, is there are a lot of people who look like North Americans. Actually a lot of people here are of German descent, but also most of them are Ecuadorian that just have light skin. This has been a bit different. It's not as unusual here as it was in Cayambe to see a "gringo" walking down the street.

And P-day today was awesome! We went to Quicentro and went bowling with the zone leaders and some other missionaries in the Calderon area of Quito. Although, the Latinos bowl very differently. It took awhile to get use to...they were practically throwing the ball down the lane instead of rolling it. It was a bit humorous! ;p

I got the Christmas package that my mom sent to me. I was so happy to see the Christmas tree, which is awesome! I hung it on the wall in my apartment and now it feels a little more like Christmas. :p Although also with the tree, to my surprise came a binder full of testimonies from my family and friends. Wow! It's soooo amazing!!! I can't begin to describe my thanks to all of you! Your testimonies and words have such power in them! I felt the spirit so strongly! While I was reading them, I had this thought: If I am able to feel the spirit so strongly reading these beautiful testimonies, how much more awesome would it be if a non-member was able to read or hear these. So, this is my challenge for all of you: Share with at least one non-member your testimony of the gospel like you did with me this week. Your testimonies have such power! They deserve to be shared!! This is my challenge for all of you...take it or leave it, but I promise if you share your testimonies, you feel the joy I feel everyday sharing the true gospel of Jesus Christ!

Have an amazing week everyone! Thank you so much again for your testimonies. They have truly strengthened mine!

Elder Dyal

A picture of the paper Christmas tree (and string of lights) that we sent Spencer.
We also made handmade paper ornaments that he could put on the tree.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Week #18 - East Quito, Ecuador - December 1, 2014

Dear Family and Friends,

So this last week marked the end of my time in Cayambe. I would be lying if I said I wasn't nervous about transferring to a new area. I began packing on Friday, just in case, and my companion and my district leader thought it was hilarious. Although unfortunately, I was lazy at taking pictures with all my investigators and recent converts, so I'm disappointed now that I don't have nearly as many pictures as I would have liked... :/ Although, I was able to go around and talk with most of them before I left. A lot of them seemed bummed that I was leaving, which surprised me. It feels nice that they would miss me. :p

So on Sunday night, I was in my district leader's house waiting to get the call from the zone leaders about which missionaries will be transferring and where they are transferring to. Only DL's and ZL's and the sister missionaries have phones, so we don't, which is why I had to wait at my district leaders house to find out. Anyway, come to find out, my packing wasn't in vain! I was going to be put in the zone that I really wanted! Quito este (east), which is the zone that is the closest to the church offices. I was so happy and I'm still super happy now! :D 

Now I'm in the big city, and it has quite a few differences here that I have noticed so far. There are a lot more missionaries in this area. I also haven't been use to seeing tall buildings and skyscrapers when I was in Cayambe. And there are lots more people here...it's a lot more crowded! People have told me it's much harder to find people who are willing to talk to you in Quito. The people here I guess are less interested in religion or something, but we'll see...that's only what I have heard. I really like it here so far though. Actually the church offices aren't technically in my mission. They are in the Quito mission, but both the Quito Norte Mission and Quito Mission share them.

My old companion, Elder Caballero, is now a DL and he is staying in Cayambe. We found out that there will only be one set of elders in Cayambe now, so my old house is not going to be used for missionaries anymore. Elder Caballero thinks it is going to be pretty stressful for only one set of missionaries because Cayambe seemed a big area for 2 sets of missionaries. Now it's going to be an even bigger area for the one set! I wish the best for Elder Caballero though.

My new companion is Elder Gonzalez. He is from Chile and seems like a pretty cool guy. From what I have seen so far, he knows a lot more English than my other companions did. Elder Arcaya and my district leader both told me he is super crazy but also pretty awesome. I don't know him very well yet but he does seem like a pretty awesome guy. I'm glad that I have another Latino companion. Actually, one of the sisters in my old area is related to him. Weird!

Anyways, thank you for always keeping me in your prayers. I hope you guys are as happy as me, although I doubt it! ;p I love you all! You are amazing! Have a wonderful week!

Elder Dyal