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, March 28, 2016

Week #87 - Otavalo, Ecuador - March 28, 2016

Dear Family and Friends,

This week was a great week in Otavalo!

Because it was Easter this Sunday, the church was pretty packed. We had 280 something attending when we usually have only 220 or 230. It's great having more people attend church but it's because it's Easter and that's the tradition. Wish it could happen every week. It was a lot noisier as well...in sacrament meeting and even in Elders quorum. But with more people comes more noise, I guess. I'm still not use to it even though it's a different culture. I always think it should be more reverent like I remember in the states. My companion and I were kinda talking about this after church. How we have noticed a big difference in the reverence and respect to the church (keeping it clean). We plan on bringing it up at ward council and maybe making a plan to speak to the members about making goals about these things. We'll see what they say! 

Easter is very different here in Ecuador. There is no Easter bunny or hiding candy. One of the traditions here is to make a special soup called Fanesca. It is made with 12 different kinds of beans that represent the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ. It is also served with mashed potatoes and lettuce and is very expensive to make, so it's only made once a year during Easter.

We are super excited for General Conference this next weekend though! I always look forward to hearing the prophet and general authorities. And the week after, we are having a regional conference for everyone in Ecuador, Peru, and Colombia, I think. That will be interesting!

This week wasn't a great one with our investigators. We also visited a lot of less active members in the ward and found out that there are a lot of struggles. One of the less active members that we visit a lot, called us upstairs to his room where he told us he's had lots of problems with his wife. For 2 years, she has completely taken control of the hotel he owns and has moved out of the house. He told us if nothing changes in a month, he will separate from his wife. It worried us since they are a sealed family and has had counseling with the bishop to resolve the marital issues with his wife, but she rarely shows up. So we talked with him about setting up a family home evening to try and help them out. We had it last night and it seemed to go over well. I sure hope so...

Hope everyone had a great Easter and a nice conference weekend next week! I know if you pray before General Conference to have guidance in your life and answers to your trials, you will receive answers from our inspired general authorities! I love the gospel and the Lord more than anything else! This church is true!!!!

Elder Dyal

 Zone Conference a few weeks ago with President and Sister Richardson

 Recognizing Elder Dyal's birthday during the zone conference

 Group discussions

Singing the mission song

Monday, March 21, 2016

Week #86 - Otavalo, Ecuador - March 21, 2016

Dear Family and Friends,

I had a pretty good week. On Tuesday, we had a zone conference with President Richardson. At the end, everyone sang happy birthday to me and also to Elder Roberts. I forgot that he had the same birthday as me because the same thing happened last year when we were both in Calderón. Then the sister missionaries brought a cake for me. It was a great surprise! 

My companion, Elder Vail also wanted to celebrate my birthday with me and he bought some hamburgers from an American who lives here in Otavalo. He makes awesome hamburgers just like they taste in the states...I think. It's been a while since I've had a burger and I know it sounds weird, but it's hard to remember what they were like. :p But it tasted really good! I also got the package from my family with lots of my favorite treats. It was a pretty great birthday all in all.

The investigators that we've been teaching and less-actives that we've been visiting haven't done so well this week. But it was nice to attend a baptism of a little girl on Saturday. Her mom is already a member, but her dad isn't. We've been trying to work on helping him progress but he has been quite grumpy about it. He seems frustrated by our visits and doesn't like to participate in our discussions or answer our questions. The first time I saw him even crack a smile was during his kid's baptism which was nice to see. We hoped that the baptism helped to touch his heart and feel the spirit, but then he didn't come to church the next day to see the confirmation, so that was a bummer... :/

Another investigator that we've been teaching isn't progressing either. His wife is also a member and he isn't. We tried having a spiritual lesson at his home, but he wasn't paying attention and was very distracted by his baby. His wife became very frustrated during the lesson and took the baby away from him so he could pay attention. But even without the distractions from the baby, he refused to answer any of our questions and would turn to his wife and say, "She is the member of the church, so ask her!" or "I don't know!" Anyway, these experiences along with other ones have really worn me down emotionally this week and it's been hard.

Although, this month I have felt my conversion to the gospel grow stronger. I made a goal to fast every Sunday this month and wake up early to do more studying. I've also made a goal to read the BOM and the New testament everyday which has helped to strengthen my testimony of the gospel even more. I invite each one of you to make a goal to do something to strengthen your testimony of the gospel and gain a stronger grip to the iron rod. As I have found, it must be done on a regular basis or it may not have the same effect. It is important to find ways to grow stronger in the gospel each day so that we don't become idle. I see people each day who stop trying. I see how easy it is lose the battle to endure to the end. I have a strong testimony of the importance of a long lasting conversation to the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Have a wonderful and spiritual week! Thanks for your prayers.

Elder Dyal

 Looking in amazement at these yummy and juicy American hamburgers!

 Got my birthday package!

 One of my favorite treats from home!


 Today (3/21/16) with one of my former trainers -- Elder Cabellero 
We've changed a lot in 1 1/2 years!
(See picture below of the day we first met in October 2014)

Monday, March 14, 2016

Week #85 - Otavalo, Ecuador - March 14, 2016

Dear Family and Friends,

It has been a great week and a really good start to this transfer.

My new companion Elder Vail, is American and from Utah. I've had 3 companions now that have been from Utah. It's been a joke in our mission that mostly everyone in the mission is either from Utah or Peru. Apparently there's a considerable amount of members of the church who live in Lima, Peru. I've also had 2 companions from Peru, so I guess that makes sense. 3 companions from Utah ("the factory" as everyone calls it) and 2 from Peru and everyone else has been from different places.

My trainer, Elder Arcaya finished his mission last week. I really wanted to see him before he left but he was in Esmeraldas when he finished. :/ He was definitively one of my best companions. My other trainer, Elder Caballero is in Otavalo here with me. He has this transfer and one more, and then he goes home. He's still super crazy and fun. Hahaha! Some things don't change I guess... Elder Vail is pretty funny. I really enjoy being around him and he's been good to work with. 

My birthday has been pretty fun today. For the month of March, we can only have activities as a zone if we baptize at least 2 people in the week. And since we met that goal last week, we were able to have a zone activity today! :-) Only 2 of the sisters participated though because apparently the other 4 of them were sick today. So it was an activity mostly for the elders! We played soccer, of course! That's what most elders like to do when we get together. Elder Caballero is still ridiculously good. I'm alright, but always getting better since I've been playing so much on my mission. I'm better at playing than your average gringo! Hahaha! And we also played dodgeball. Elder Caballero is suprisingly good at that as well. But most Latinos can't throw at all, so the Americans destroyed the Latinos at dodgeball! Especially the Americans that played baseball. Afterwards we went for pizza. I haven't gotten my birthday package yet, but tomorrow we have a conference with President Richardson. Hopefully I can get it then!.

Anyways, that is how my week went. Thanks to everyone for writing me and wishing me a happy birthday! It made my day! I love you all! 

Elder Dyal

Today 3/14/16 -- Our zone getting ready to play soccer

Monday, March 7, 2016

Week #84 - Otavalo, Ecuador - March 7, 2016

Dear Family and Friends,

This week was an awesome week!

Definitely the highlight of the week was our baptisms. Saturday is feria in Otavalo, so we had our baptisms on Friday instead because we wanted the ward to attend and support the converts. We planned the baptism with our mission leader Hno. Perugachi and with the ward council to try to get everyone there and supporting the baptism. After planning and talking with the ward council, I had high hopes for the baptism of the 3 girls.

So on Friday, my companion and I got to the church early to clean up and fill up the font. The baptism started at 7:00, and we told the 3 girls to come early with their families. We were very happy when we saw Katherine and her family there at 6:30. Then Vanessa and Evelin and their families got there at 6:45. So glad they came before it started. Many times, the main issue is making sure that the people who are getting baptized don't show up late. I mean sometimes it's as much as 30-60 minutes late. So when we saw they came early we thought we were home free. But the rest of the ward showed up late! The bishop showed up late and admitted that he forgot about the baptism. The mission leader didn't show up at all and told us on Sunday that he had to pick up his brother-in-law at the airport. The people assigned to be witnesses showed up late and even the people assigned to give talks showed up late! We had to wait a while for everyone to get there. We worked with Hno. Perugachi who had the agenda and quickly made a new one with the bishop before the baptism started. Hopefully the next time we can get everything running smoother, but we did everything we could in advance so not sure what else we could have done. But all in all, it was a really spiritual experience for Katherine, Vanessa, and Evelin. So I guess that's all that really matters. I attached some pictures of the baptism.

This week sure flew by. It seems like just yesterday it was P-day and now it's P-day again. Today was changes and my companion, Elder Marron got changed to the coast. So now I'm going to be here with Elder Vail, my new companion. He still hasn't arrived yet and I haven't met him before or don't even know who he is. The only thing I know is that he is American and he's from Utah. I'll tell you more about him next week.

Anyway, have a great week everyone! Thanks for your prayers and emails!

Elder Dyal

A group shot of Jeffery R. Holland and the area seventies 
with the Ecuador North Quito missionaries
(Spencer is towards the middle back)

 Elder Marron and Elder Dyal with Vanessa, Evelin and Katherine

 Vanessa, Evelin and Katherine ready for their baptism

Vanessa, Evelin and Katherine and their families

Elder Dyal by the Otavalo sign 

 Elder Dyal by the Otavalo sign

Elder Dyal at Oskars Restaurant