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, September 28, 2015

Week #61 - Esmeraldas, Ecuador - September 28, 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

It's been an awesome week! But like every first week of a new transfer, it's a bit slow getting used to everything: the new companion, introducing him to the sector and people, etc. Elder Cabezas is a super cool guy, or as I like to call him, Elder Heads. Cabezas means heads in Spanish. I already kinda knew him from when I was in Quito. We were in the same zone during one of my changes. And he is the first companion I have had that's from Ecuador. He's from a town called Babahoyo, which is close to Guayaquil. Actually every companion that I've had so far has been from a different country or state...There has been Boliva, Paraguay, Chile, Honduras, Guatemala...And my American companions were from different states: Texas, Utah, Wyoming, and Idaho. So far I haven't had a repeat. And it's good to have a Latino companion again so we can speak strictly Spanish all the time. If not, my Spanish gets rusty.

So the mail comes super slow here in Esmeraldas. I placed an order for a new placa 3 months ago and it still hasn't come. Anything that goes through the mission office takes a long time to get to Esmeraldas so I haven't gotten the package yet. It was nice when I was in Quito because I got mail quickly, but it's cool to have area changes (I was in Quito for 8 months). 

All the missionaries here are super pumped for general conference! :D We are super excited to see who will be the new apostles!!! Usually during conference, there is a room for Americans to be able to watch it in English. If I want to, I can watch in Spanish...I mean it's perfectly fine to do that and I can understand everything they say at this point, but the messages don't remain in my head and it's hard to remember them later. I watched the Christmas devotional in Spanish last year and that's what happened then, but that was almost a year ago now...so who knows? Maybe I'll try a session in Spanish and see how it goes.

So this week in our sector, Elder Heads and I aren't doing so good with our investigators. We started out the week with 2 investigators who had baptismal dates, but by the end of the week they both fell through. Diana's dad doesn't want her to get baptized and she herself completely lost interest in being taught or being baptized. The YM and YW in the branch went on their trip to Ibarra, and while they were gone she seemed to lose interest, but that's what I was expecting... :/ Our other investigator, Jesús Bustos is a super cool guy but just can't ever attend church because of his work and he doesn't have any Sunday clothes so he is embarrassed to come to church. He has come in the past but it's been a while now.

Anyway that was our week. Hope you all have a great week and enjoy general conference!

Elder Dyal

Monday, September 21, 2015

Week #60 - Esmeraldas, Ecuador - September 21, 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

So it's been a long and interesting week. 

On Saturday we had the baptism of Edison Ángulo. He is a pretty sweet little kid. All of his family are members of the church minus his step mom and step sisters. His dad is inactive and we really encouraged him to come to the baptism, but he didn't...But we were grateful for the other family and ward members who came to support him. It was great to have a baptism!

And yeah, today was transfers! My companion, Elder Huber left on the bus to go to Quito on Sunday after church. All the members we super emotional about it. We were kind of caught off guard about it because no one seemed to make a big deal about him leaving until they figured out he was leaving to go home because this was his last area, and suddenly everyone was like "Elder Huber! Nooooo! Don't leave!" Elder Huber was pretty surprised about it! So many people told him to take them with him and the girls kept telling him to come back to marry them and take them to the states. Hahaha! Well, because it actually did happen with one of the missionaries a while ago, now all of them have this fantasy that it's going to happen to them! Crazy! :/

Also last Sunday, we took soooo many pictures it was crazy! Elder Huber took the camera cord I was using because I lost mine, so I won't be able to send pictures until I get the new one that my mom sent in a package. It hasn't arrived yet. Anyway, Elder Huber and I also gave talks on Sunday. Elder Huber began to cry in his talk. Hahaha! I know he's emotional about leaving, but I never thought I would see that! :p

Now Elder Cabezas is here with me as my new companion in Aire Libre. He seems like a pretty cool guy but he's super quiet and reserved. I'm pretty sure he will talk more once he gets to know me and the area better. 

You would think that being a missionary for as long as I have, I would be really good at talking to everyone by now, but I'm still having trouble with that sometimes. I hate forcing conversations out of people. I can usually start a conversation fine and keep it going for awhile, but when they don't give me anything back, it's been kind of frustrating. But I have 10 more months to get better at that. That's plenty of time to learn, right? 

Well, that's the same situation that we have with our investigator, Diana. She hardly ever talks to us at all. Patience is definitely a virtue God wants me to develop here. In more ways than one! Esmeraldas is a character building city for all the missionaries that come here. There's the good days and the bad days, but that can probably be said about any area. But I'm still trying to decide if I like it here or not. I have 6 more weeks, then I'll probably transfer after that. I'm sure I'll be sad when I move on.

People here have been talking about a weird weather event that may take place soon called El Fenomeno del Niño. From what I understand, it rains for like a week straight in Ecuador, but mainly on the coast, because the waters in the Pacific are warming up. It doesn't happen very often. Something like every 3-8 years, but I guess it's predicted to happen again sometime soon. Last time it happened a lot of people got trapped in their houses and some people died or almost died. Luckily, our apartment is at the top of a hill so it probably won't effect us. We'll see what happens. Someone told us it's supposed to come at the end of September...I'll keep you updated.

Anyways, have a wonderful week everyone! Thanks for your letters and prayers!!!!

Elder Dyal

Monday, September 14, 2015

Week #59 - Esmeraldas, Ecuador - September 14, 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

We have had a pretty good week here! My companion is finishing up his last week in the mission, so even though I've been here for 2 transfers already, there's a pretty good chance that I will stay in Esmeraldas for the next transfer so the Mission President doesn't have to send 2 new elders who don't know the area at all. Zona Esmeraldas seems to be the training grounds for new missionaries lately. Since I have been in this area, there have been 3 brand new elders sent here. I just hope the President doesn't get any crazy ideas, if you know what I mean... :p

So, we kinda might sorta have a baptism this week...We have been teaching this family and their 8 year old kid wants to be baptized because he says he understands and believes everything we teach and he comes to church every week. One of his older brothers talked to the branch president to get the permission for his baptism because the branch is technically in charge of children that are 8 and aren't baptized, not the missionaries. But the branch president must have gotten confused because he sent him back to us. Anyway, he turns 9 years old this week and his brother asked us to baptize him. Sure, whatever. The branch continues to feel okay about baptizing children even when their families aren't members. Zona Willy Wonka continues to stay strong I guess! :p

On the other hand, Diana, our teenage investigator, always seems nervous around us. We invited her to attend Gospel Principles with us last week and she almost screamed and ran away at the invitation. Looks like she would rather be with her friends in Sunday School, I guess. As long as she is learning and gaining a testimony of the gospel, that's all that matters. But when we are teaching her, she seems to have problems understanding. She told us she read up to 1 Nephi 17 in four days but didn't understand anything. That seems to be a problem with a lot of our investigators here in Esmeraldas though. In Quito, the challenge was finding anyone who would let us teach them. But here it's just helping people to understand and comprehend the importance of the gospel and it's principals. We could probably "teach" almost everyone here in our sector. Most people are happy to invite us in. But finding people that will attend church, read, and keep the commandments so that they can be baptized seems nearly impossible. Plus, there are a lot of people here that can't read. That's a big issue! :/

This week we have had some interesting experiences with food. A member of the branch who is preparing to go on his mission named Gerson, sold us "Rellena." He's trying to raise money for his mission so we bought it to help him. Rellena is basically pig intestines stuffed with liver and other inside parts of the pig. Elder Huber DID NOT want to eat it! Apparently he already tried it while I was in Quito and he absolutely hated it. But I'm always willing to try new things (at least once). I ate it and it actually wasn't that bad...once you trick your mind into thinking you're not eating all those parts of a pig, then your good. I guess Elder Huber doesn't have that ability...That's were he went wrong I guess... :/ 

Another day last week, we went to visit and teach the Caicedo family. Their family is a mixture of members, less actives, and gang members. One of the teenagers, named Jordan, left the room while we were teaching to go to the bathroom. But for whatever reason he peed in a cup instead of the toilet. (???) Then as joke (I think) he gave it to his Grandma. We all knew what it was, but she didn't and she ended up drinking it and rinsed her mouth with it!!!! Everyone was extremely grossed out! I'm still confused by it all! Did she know what she was rinsing her mouth with? Did Jordan do that on purpose? It was without question one of the grossest things I have ever seen someone do!!! 

Anyway that was my week. The things I have seen and done! Hope you guys have a great and interesting week as well. ;p

Elder Dyal

 My district at Las Palmas Beach

Me at Las Palmas Beach

 Eating Rellena - Wasn't too bad!

A fruit called Guanabana

 Some members of the branch

Some members of the branch

Monday, September 7, 2015

Week #58 - Esmeraldas, Ecuador - September 7, 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

This week has been a great week! 

So, the girl who came to church 3 weeks ago with her friend and was interested in taking discussions (her name is Diana), now has a baptism date for the third of October. Although I'm not so sure how that will work out... The branch has the temple trip the week before and third is General Conference. Honestly, it might not even work that week and we'll probably have to push it out even farther. She is a cool girl and pilas. Although I don't know if she just doesn't understand the principles we are teaching her or if she feels intimidated to speak because she never asks questions. She is the first person here that I've met that has more of a reserved personality. Most people are super outgoing, and even some, a little too much...Anyway, we will just have to be careful and see if she is ready by then. The last 19 baptisms that were in this branch have all become less active now, so baptizing another person who will also become less active won't help the branch at all.

Next week should be interesting. We have ward conference which means the stake presidency will be coming to the branch. I have only met the stake president briefly but it will be great having him come speak to us.

The biggest problem in the branch right now is that most of the people who come to sacrament meeting are women and children. Almost all of the active priesthood holders are in the Aaronic priesthood. We have so few priesthood holders that we don't even have a Elder quorum president or a High priest group leader. The branch and missionaries are trying hard to fix that but it's difficult. The biggest hope the branch has is when their ward missionaries who are out on their mission come home and stay in the area to help out and be involved in the ward.

Today for P-day, our district went to the lighthouse on "Las Palmas" beach. It was cool. Everyone here says that Las Palmas is the "ugly beach" in Ecuador. I didn't think it was too bad. It seems a little polluted. I believe it comes from the Esmeraldas River that dumps out into the ocean but they have cleaned it up a bit. True it wasn't as pretty as Atacames Beach, but a beach is a beach! Who can complain about beaches? I love the beach! Anyway, I will send pictures of the P-day next week. I forgot my camera cord this week.

Have an amazing week everyone! Thank you for all your prayers. I will be praying for all of you too!

Elder Dyal 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Week #57 - Esmeraldas, Ecuador - August 31, 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

These 2 weeks have been fun and interesting.

Last week, I had to go to Quito again to renew my visa. All of the elders on the coast came with me as well. My companion, Elder Neeley, is actually a zone leader in the zona San Rafael (the other zone in the coast). And we also went with Elder Vellinga and Elder Nielson who is in Atacames. Anyway, for that reason I didn't have anytime to write last week, so sorry for that. :/

Other than that, there have been lots of things going on. There is a part in our sector called "La Isla" (The Island) which has 2 bridges. One to get to the island and another to go further into the island. Many of the members have told us that the island is super dangerous and that we should only go there with a member who knows the area well. But they also say that if you cross the second bridge, you don't ever come back...

Well, two weeks ago, one of the gangs on the island killed someone and cut off his head and limbs. The police came and apparently the gang also killed one of the police men. It was a good thing that someone told us this a few days after it happened because we were planning on going there to look around the next Monday. About a week after that, we went back and to visit a family we have been teaching there. Elder Huber always tells me every time we pass the second bridge that he wants to go there before he goes home. So, when we had divisions, Elder Huber took the District leader past the second bridge to meet a contact and get an appointment. For the appointment a few days later, he took me to the second bridge. Before crossing over, I just looked at it for a few seconds like Elder Huber was crazy! It was literally like 3 boards of wood that were all at the point of crumbling. It needed some major repair! But we did end up crossing it and unfortunately the lección with our contact was terrible because the guy was totally drunk. We could smell the alcohol on him. But now I feel totally cool because I can say I crossed the second bridge! :p Not very many missionaries attempt it. 

Also Cotapaxi, a volcano in the Quito Mission has been exploding. When we went to Quito I wanted so bad to see it but it didn't look like anything was happening plus I didn't really get a good view of it :/

And yesterday in church, there was an girl who came to church with a friend that invited her to come that day. The YW president introduced us and she told us she wants to get baptized! We will be teaching her this week and see how it works out...

Today for P day, we went to Atacames! One of the prettiest beaches in Ecuador! Elder Huber wanted to buy some stuff for his family since he'll be going home in a few weeks. Everyone told us to go there because it's a good place to buy souvenirs. We also took some guys for our branch with us.. Their names were Aron Gerson (who is a recently returned missionary) and Kevin (who will be a missionary in like 2 months). It was cool to go with them. They helped us so we didn't get ripped off when we tried to buy stuff. Elder Huber bought a bunch of different things because he said if he goes to his house without anything for his family, they won't let him in! Hahaha! ;p I just bought a taca taca, a little toy that everyone likes to play with.

Then today on the bus going home, we saw this lady with a bible in her hand and she was talking to everyone around her about God and Jesus. I have seen people with Herias asking for money, and I have seen people singing and selling stuff on buses, but I have never seen this on a bus before. A few minutes after we got on the bus, she came and sat by us and began shouting and screaming at the top of her lungs about how Jesus can help us. It was for like 20 minutes! Then she came up to me and said "Jesus has a plan for you" and left the bus.

Guess what? Jesus does has a plan for me. And for all of you. It's called the plan of salvation. And salvation does not come by screaming prayers to try to make people to repent, it comes when we choose to repent and follow Christ. 

Well, that was a few of my experiences in a couple paragraphs. Have a great week everyone!

Elder Dyal

In the North Quito Mission Office to renew visas

 Atacames Beach

 Atacames Beach with Elder Huber and friends from the branch

 Atacames Beach with Elder Huber and friends from the branch

 In Atacames Beach to buy souvenirs

 In Atacames Beach to buy souvenirs

In Atacames Beach to buy souvenirs with our friends from the branch