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.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Week #52 - Esmeraldas, Ecuador - July 27, 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

I had a bit of an interesting week. Well, that is to say a one of a kind week, for sure! Hahaha!

As I explained in the last letter, my foot was really swollen last week. It is actually kinda crazy how fast my foot went from bad to worse. On Tuesday, the mission nurse set an appointment up with a doctor in Esmeraldas. We went on Tuesday evening after Elder Huber's leader meeting with the president. The doctor looked at my foot, and gave me some medications and told me to rest.

Well, I bought the medications but it was nearly impossible for me to rest because the next day we had other meetings with the president. But I took the medications when I needed to but each day, and my foot got noticeably worse. Finally on Thursday the nurse talked to the president and he said that I should come to Quito to get it checked out.

So on Friday, I went with Elder Parker, one of the zone leaders, and we headed off to Quito. That same day, a dermatologist looked at my foot and took what looked like worm out of my foot! The nurse asked if it was a worm, and he said it wasn't, but it certainly looked a lot like a worm! He also looked at the medications that the doctor in Esmeraldas told me to take and said they were completely useless. He gave me other medications and finally I started seeing results!

It's crazy how fast my foot got so bad from Monday to Friday, and then cured to now almost nothing! I have no doubt that God's hand was here helping me. Right now I'm still in Quito staying in San Carlos. My first companion, Elder Arcaya is the zone leader here! It's been fun to see him again and spend these few days with him.

If everything goes as planned, I will head back to Esmeraldas tomorrow! The only sad thing was that we had a baptism scheduled for last Saturday that I couldn't attend. Other than that, most of my week was ruined because of my foot. I barely spent any time proselyting or teaching. Hopefully next week will be better for that once I get back.

Thank you for all your prayers on my behalf! I love you guys! Have an amazing week!!!

Elder Dyal

Monday, July 20, 2015

Week #51 - Esmeraldas, Ecuador - July 20, 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

This week has been a long week in Esmeraldas! It's also been pretty effective though!

We are planning to have a baptism this week! Elder Huber and I found him even when he has been attending church for 2 months now. He is the friend of the mission leader's son. His name is Jhonny Saavedra and he is 15. Idk I'm still kinda ify on baptizing a teenager without baptizing his parents but it has worked out in many cases. He becomes a member then goes on a mission. I guess we will have to see...

Other families/people we have that are progressing are familia Àngulo. Hermano Fausto and his "wife" Marìa are planning on getting married, which appearently is rather diffucult to convince people to do. Their only problem is they need money to pay for the wedding...

With everyone else, it's most slow but surely. There are a lot of people that attend church that aren't member but because they aren't married they can't be baptized. There is a lady who has been an investigator for 3 years but because her husband doesn't want to get married, she can't get baptized. It's actually a bit sad how common that is...

What made my week especially difficult was like something that started in Quito. Somehow I got like a weird rash or infection or something on my foot. I called the nurse of the mision and I started putting ointments and creams out it to stop it from hurting and make it go away. At the beginning of this last week, it pretty much went anyway. But on Friday night and Saturday I noticed it started to hurt while walking again so I started putting the stuff on again. But this time in wasn't like scratched or anything, it just swelled up! Sunday and Today have been hard because I can't exactly wear my shoes because they are kinda tight and rub my foot a lot making it worse. And it's not like I can switch pairs of shoes because they are all the same so today I have been wearing a shoe on my right foot and a sliper on my left. I called the nurse again but she just told me to put ice on it then take ibprofen but that hasn't been helping really. It just dulls the pain but doesn't stop the swelling. I asked a lot members and they have given me suggestions and ideas of helping it. I'll start trying their sugestions to see if it works...

Other than that, I had a good week. I hope all of you did as well! And have a great week this week!

Elder Dyal

 The scratches on my foot about 2 weeks ago

 Holding a cacao, an exotic fruit that I've never heard of before.

 Esmeraldas, with an ocean view

 Elder Huber and I in our house today

Elder Huber and I in our house today

Monday, July 13, 2015

Week #50 - Esmeraldas, Ecuador - July 13, 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

I hope everyone had a great week! I know I did!

Well, it is the beginning of week 3 in my new area in Esmeraldas! I'm starting to get used to everything here. To be honest, it seriously was a complete 180 degrees for me to come here, and my companion also said the same thing. My companion was in the richest part of Ecuador, in the city of Cumbayà, and now here to the poorest part of the mission. And I was in La Luz in the Vergel ward, one of the best wards in the mission. So, needless to say, it was a big transition for both of us. 

Here in Aire Libre, the members are really cool and very nice. They have been very friendly and welcoming. But in the ward, and the Esmeraldas stake in general, there are lots of problems. The interesting thing is the history behind the problems...

Apparently, a long time ago in an Ecuador far far away (actually, I don't think it was too long ago), there was a serious apostasy issue here. People were doing things they shouldn't be doing, both the members and the missionaries. Turns out that Esmeraldas used to be 2 different stakes, San Rafael and Esmeraldas. But a lot of leaders were committing adultery, and some members were giving the missionaries their daughters because they wanted kids. Garments and bikinis were found in members and missionaries houses (and not ones that belonged to them) and some sister missionaries got pregnant. Needless to say, a lot of members and missionaries got ex-communicated! 

Also, the missionaries would baptize a lot of children without teaching and committing their parents to also be baptized. Missionaries used to call these zones, the "willy wonka zones" for baptizing so many kids. Both of these issues have given the stake a lot of problems. Because of all that, the ward directories are really messed up and pretty much deceiving. For example, Aire Libre has about 400 people on the directory but only about 60 to 70 people attend each week. Nobody really knows where the other 340 members of the ward are. And that's just this ward! Now combine that with the other 9 wards in the stake who have basically the same problem!

Although we did have a fair share of funny moments this week though! I have been getting to know my companion Elder Huber a bit more. He's a pretty awesome guy! I kinda make fun of him sometimes though because he is like a cowboy that was born in the middle of no where in Idaho.

On Saturday, we had a bit of an interesting experience. We were on our way to an appointment and were almost there when we saw a bunch of women (in like their 30's or 40's) walking around the corner. Elder Huber whispered "Oh no, these women are crazy! One of them asked me for a baby!" Before I had a chance to reply or before we could escape, the women shouted "Hermanos! How are you guys! How have things been?" So to be polite, we kinda talked to them a bit when one of the ladies grabbed Elder Huber's hand and shouted, "We are going to get married!" Elder Huber kinda made a "Ohhhhh, noooo" sound. I just busted out laughing and whistling the "Here comes the bride" song. Then during all this, another one of the women turned to us and said, "Which one of you is going to have my baby?" She looked at me then at Elder Huber and pointed to Elder Huber and said "You are the one that promised me a baby. When are we going to have our baby?" Elder Huber just said "Ummm...no!!!" By this point, I was like dying from laughing so hard! 

Luckily, we didn't really have to walk with them very long. Poor Elder Huber. He was so mortified. He said he never wants to walk that way again! That literally was like one of the funniest moments of my entire mission! Hahaha!

I promise pictures next week. Everyone always tells us to not carry our cameras so they don't get stolen but I promise pictures next week!!

I hope everyone has a great week! Thanks for your support! I love all you guys!

Elder Dyal

Monday, July 6, 2015

Week #49 - Esmeraldas, Ecuador - July 6, 2015

My Dear Family and Friends,

My first week here in Esmeraldas has been a learning one. Learning about the area and people. And the weather here is completely different. It's interesting how the climate varies in such a small country.

My sector is called Aire Libre (Free Air) in the city of Esmeraldas (Emeralds) which is a city along the pacific ocean. It's actually not as dangerous as I had come to think it would be. I've been told that downtown Esmeraldas is probably the most dangerous part. That is where the zone leader's area is. So far the most dangerous thing in my area is getting dehydrated. My sector has a ton of hills, and going up and down hills all day in 100 degree weather with like 80% humidity is really tough, hot and tiring! Haha! In the town of Aire libre, we only have a small branch, but it's growing so many think it won't be long until it's a ward.

In a way, the area reminds me of downtown Detroit. The majority of the people are black. The story is that a slave ship going along the coast of Colombia and Ecuador crashed and all the slaves inhabited the upper coasts of Ecuador and lower part of Colombia. Everyone I have met so far in Aire Libre have been really nice and super cool. But most of the people here speak Spanish terribly. I've noticed that they cut out all the "S's" so sometimes it's pretty hard to understand what they are saying....  :/  There was a girl who came up to me on my second day here and told me something and I had no idea what she said! I looked to my companion to translate, but he only understood like 4 words. Also I've noticed that people here are super direct in the stuff they say to you. They don't beat around the bush...they tell it like it is! Even more direct than when I was in Quito. If my hair was a mess that day, people will just say, "Elder, your hair looks terrible!" But that really hasn't bothered me. It just took me back a few times and takes a while to get use to. In Cayambe, I was shocked several times at some of the things people would say to me, but now I don't even care. I'm finding that I'm almost doing the same thing now.

Also Esmeraldas is pretty much a laid-back party city. Everyone has giant speakers outside on the weekends blasting party music. Also, la gente are more open to inviting us in and listening to what we have to say. It doesn't seem too hard to get people to church on Sundays. The hard part is getting them to want to change bad habits and remain active. A lot of couples aren't married and everyone loves to drink and they don't want to make the commitment to change. It's been hard for missionaries in this area. :/

Also, I have never felt so hot in my life! Not hot as in good looking (haha!), but as in dying of heat!! I have never in my life been so religious about putting on sunblock and mosquito repellent. The sun is always blaring on us all day long! And also, there is a weird disease that some mosquitoes here along the coast carry called Chikungunya which makes the victim super sick with fever and joint pain, although the side effects are different for everyone. Some missionaries have gotten it and some Esmeraldeños have died from it although our mission president has helped us. We have these weird garlic pills we can take on a daily basis that should keeps away mosquitoes so I feel pretty safe.

Anyway have a good week everyone! Drinks lots of water and be careful of mosquitoes!

Elder Dyal