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 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 Esmeralde├▒os 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

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