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, October 26, 2015

Week #65 - Esmeraldas, Ecuador - October 26, 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

It's been a good week! We have also been super busy with missionary work!

On Saturday, the Esmeraldas stake organized a service activity to clean up the parks around Esmeraldas. Each ward/branch was assigned to a different park. Although because everyone was busy cleaning the parks that day, no one showed up for their church cleaning assignments on Saturday, and on Sunday you could really tell it wasn't cleaned.

Also, Sunday was like the exact opposite of the Sunday before. A bunch of less actives that I have never seen at church were there, including Hermana Caicedo. Also her son-in-law Jesús attended for the first time. He even stayed for all 3 hours which was amazing! We have been trying to get him to attend for so long! In fact, I remember when I first arrived in Esmeraldas, he and his wife Digna were the first people I visited. He was very depressed and unhappy and told us that he wanted to kill himself. Now he's attending church! They also agreed to have us over again this week. I hope we can keep the momentum going. Hopefully, they don't go back to being like roller coasters with their ánimos. They have had some really hard times...In the time I have been here, 2 of Digna's sons have been put in jail and 1 killed himself. Lots of times, I feel really sad for their family because they seem to barely get along. I honestly don't know how they do it, but it seems like they are doing better.

We found an inactive member named Leisy a few months ago. She had an interesting story. According to her, she got baptized 30 years ago by a bishop in a different ward. And later, the bishop got ex-communicated. This was discouraging to her so after that, she just stopped going to church. We had a great conversation with her about the restauracion. It was so great to hear her tells us, "I know this is true." She moved to the area when I was transferred to this area and we found her a little bit after that. At first, she told us she knew who we were but that she didn't want to talk to us, but that she wanted her kids to listen to what we had to say. After talking and joking around with her for awhile, she warmed up to us and agreed to also listen to us. It was literally a miracle to find her!

Also Diana, the teenager we were teaching for awhile, didn't come to church for the last 4 weeks. But on Sunday, she returned out of nowhere. That was great to see her at church again, but we assumed that nothing has changed with her Dad's opinion of her only being able to come to church but not being allowed to be baptized.

We also found this guy named Ángel through a member contact. He was pretty scary looking! He is a giant! He also told us that his brother is a member of the church and that he also went to church when he was really little. We invited him to church on Sunday, but he didn't show up. Bummer! But now we are entering week 6! Transfers are this next Monday. My biggest goal this week is to have someone with a baptismal date before I leave. I'm assuming I'll be leaving since I've been here for 3 transfers. It would actually be a surprise if I stay.

Have a wonderful week everyone! Enjoy Halloween! I almost forgot that it was this week since they don't celebrate it here in Ecuador! :p

Elder Dyal

Elder Cabezas and Elder Dyal with the Castillo-Barbosa family

Monday, October 19, 2015

Week #64 - Esmeraldas, Ecuador - October 19, 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

We had a fun week this week!

We had training meetings this week with President Richardson and the asistentes which took place last Friday. They were really good and helpful. It really helped us out for the rest of the week with being more prepared physically and spiritually. President Richardson and his asistentes also came and visited our house as well. They wanted to see how it was set up and if everything was working properly, etc. We knew it was going to happen but didn't know when, but it was funny because when we got back to the house, the landlord told us that a "lawyer" with a white head came with 2 other missionaries. Hahaha! That one really made me laugh! And I also didn't realize this but we found out at the meeting that President Richardson will be finishing up his mission at about the same time I will be leaving. So during my last change, I will have 2 mission presidents. That will be interesting!

Speaking of changes, this one has flown by! Today we are starting week 5 and at the end of next week, we will have transfers again. I've been in Esmeraldas for 3 changes, which is just over 4 months, so I'm not expecting to stay here again with Elder Cabezas, but we'll see!

This week in church the attendance was a bit low which was kinda disheartening. Even our branch president, President Tello wasn't there because he had a meeting at the stake center with President Gomez, our stake president. My companion and I gave talks again in church. We are always expected to give talks on the 3rd Sunday of every month. I did some preparation ahead of time since I knew they would ask us to speak. I don't know how my other companions, Elder Huber and Elder Cabezas, can just go off nothing and pull something out of their hats, because that is just not a talent I have. In the past when I have tried to do that, my talk would be like 3 minutes long of basically me fumbling around and trying to straighten my thoughts and get a clear message though. So now I'm always prepared for these talks and now I never need to worry about time. A 15 minute talk is easily done with preparacion.

We also had ward council on Sunday. It seems to be getting a lot better lately...more organized and focused on those that need help in the branch. This week we talked a lot about how we can make the sacrament meetings better and helping everyone be worthy to go to the temple. And we came up with some good ideas. It's been nice to see that President Tello is starting to be more concerned about the meetings being more spiritual with a large broad focus on getting the members to the temple.

Today was P-day, and we had a district activity. We went to the lighthouse by "Las Palmas" beach again. We went along the trail again, but it wasn't as cool this time because unfortunately someone burned a lot of the grass along the path, but we still had a great day.

Hope that everyone has a great week! Love you guys! Thank you for your prayers on my behalf! :)

Elder Dyal

 Elder Dyal and his district on P-day today at Las Palmas beach

 Enjoying a refreshing drink at the beach

 Enjoying a refreshing drink at the beach

 Elder Cabezas and Elder Dyal

 Elder Dyal and Elder Arrieta

Elder Dyal with an ocean view of Las Palmas beach

Monday, October 12, 2015

Week #63 - Esmeraldas, Ecuador - October 12, 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

Elder Cabezas and I had a good week this week.

During the training meeting that we had with President Richardson the week before General Conference, one of the things he told us was that we needed to store water in our apartments to prepare for an emergency. It was interesting because at first when he started talking about being prepared, I thought he was going to tell us about Phenomenon del Niño, where it rains super hard for days and sometimes weeks. It usually effects the areas of the coast the worst. But instead he mentioned Cotapaxi, a volcano close to Quito that is due to erupt soon. So we listened to his council and we bought a super huge jug of water. It's never a bad idea to be prepared...for any kind of emergency! And this week, President and Sister Richardson will be back for more training meetings.

Our investigators are doing alright. Elder Carlos Godoy of the Seventy came to visit our mission awhile ago and one of the things he talked to us about was that if we spend 50% of our time visiting and teaching those who are less active, our baptisms will double. We have been trying to take that advice the last few weeks and we have really seen that happening! We've recieved a lot of references these past weeks from less actives. Some of which we believe have a lot of potential.

Although the biggest problem for us, and just about everywhere in the mission, is your investigators attending church on Sunday. And not just every 2 weeks or so, but consistent attendance each week. Also we find that the law of chastity is a big issue and people not being willing to commit to marriage. I have also learned that on Sunday you can't always expect that your investigators will show up to church, even if they say they will. If you are set on it happening, and they don't come, it's depressing. For example, this Sunday, the investigators that said they were going to come to church, didn't end up coming...and the ones we didn't really think would come, actually came. So you never know!

One of the investigators that came was Ricardo Saavedra, the father of Jhonny Saavedra who was baptized by Elder Huber while I was serving in Quito. It's starting to look like he is progressing a lot. We just have to continue encouraging him to keep coming every week and commit him to marriage. I know he will be baptized someday. Maybe not when I'm here but I believe he will sometime in the future. I'm starting to realize that my spiritual gift as a missionary has been finding people who want to learn about the gospel. That's why maybe I haven't baptized too many people because I find (or try to find) new investigators with potential, and then pass them off to the missionaries after I leave the area. For example, while I was in La Luz and Vergel, I was able to find a lot of people who ended up being baptized or are still investigating!

Anyway, the people that are currently progressing in my area are:
Ricardo Saavedra
Karmen Quiñonez
Manuel Montaño

Please keep them in your prayers! :) I would appreciate it! Thanks everyone. Have a great week. :)

Elder Dyal

 A few weeks old, but here is Elder Huber and I with Edison Ángulo before his baptism

Again, a few weeks old but Elder Huber and I with La familia Tello.
The guy next to Elder Huber, named Ariel, just left on a mission to Columbia.

 The Esmeraldas Zone with President and Sister Richardson at training meeting a few weeks ago.

 Elders listening during the training meeting

 Elders singing during the training meeting

 Elder Dyal giving his testimony and a spiritual thought at the meeting.

Everyone splits up into companionships to do practices.
The mission president, his wife and the assistants watch, give praise and suggestions.

Practices with companion (Sister Richardson takes lots of pictures!)

Afterwards, they have cooking lessons with Sister Richardson. 
Spencer is peeling potatoes to make french fries! Sister Richardson said they were awesome! :)

Monday, October 5, 2015

Week #62 - Esmeraldas, Ecuador - October 5, 2015

Dear Friends and Family,

This was a full week. By that I mean a lot of stuff happening...

First of all, I got the package! Thank you so much!!!! I felt like it was my birthday! :) And the candy was super good. Ecuador doesn't have a lot of candy. That's kinda a good and a bad thing. The majority of the people here are in pretty good shape, so it's nice not to have that kind of temptation around, but every once and a while it's heavenly! Thanks! ;p

On Tuesday, we had our training meetings. President Richardson and the Asistantes came up from Quito to train us all day. It was also pretty cool to see some of the other guys from my incoming group to the Quito North Mission that day. There are 5 of them in the San Rafael zone and I am the only one in Esmeraldas (picture of us attached). We are still the biggest group of missionaries that has ever come to this mission. 23 of us last September! Woooo! :p During the training meeting, we were taught and/or reminded again how we need to dress as missionaries, good ways to cook Ecuadorian foods, the best ways to buy food cheaply, and how to improve our missionary area books. It was a long day, but a good one.

On Friday, we had divisions. It made me nervous that day because I was assigned to a newby missionary that doesn't know Spanish very well. But the unnecessary stress was all in my head and we actually had a really good day.

Saturday we went to the La Tolita stake center to watch general conference and we pretty much stayed there all day. But on Sunday, we decided to just stay here in Esmeraldas to watch the Sunday sessions. We were also able to watch everything in English! It was so refreshing to listen to the talks in English and I was grateful. And it was cool to see the new apostles called to the Quorum of the Twelve...Elder Rasband (that was obvious), Elder Stevenson and Elder Renlund (didn't see those coming) and listen to their amazing testimonies. What a wonderful and spiritual weekend.

I hope everyone enjoyed conference. Whoops...don't have any crazy and/or weird stories to tell you this week, but I'll see what I can do for you next week! ;p Hahaha! I love you guys! Take care! :)

Elder Dyal

Elder Dyal with some other guys from his incoming group to the Quito North Mission at the training meeting with the President last Tuesday -- Still the biggest group of missionaries to come to the mission! (23 total)