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, April 25, 2016

Week #91 - Comité Del Pueblo, Ecuador - April 25, 2016

Dear family and friends,

We had a pretty good week here in Comité del Pueblo in Quito. The first week of a change is always an adjusting week to almost everything. You need to get use to a new area, ward, investigators and companion. Plus, the Quito North mission is pretty diverse depending on where you go: climates, altitude, food and people. Each area I've been in has been totally different from the other. The Esmeraldas on the coast, Coca in the jungle, Otavalo with Indians who speak Quechua. So in many cases, you need time to adjust. The area I'm in now in Quito is pretty much a normal Latin city, but I'm in a new ward, investigators and companion.

The last time I was in Quito was about a year ago when I was in the Vergel Ward in the Calderón stake. Since then, I have been to Esmeraldas, Coca, and Otavalo. Something I had forgotten about Quito was the way people speak. I forgot how well people speak here. In Otavalo, people really don't speak Spanish correctly. In Esmeraldas it was even worse. And each area has their own slang. So it's nice that people use the Spanish grammar correctly here and for the most part, the people we teach can understand all the words in the scriptures.

One thing I really enjoy about Quito, and I was telling Elder Vail this as I was leaving last week, is that the people here are, for the most part, are fairly normal city folk. It's been a while since I have been able to contact typical and normal Ecuadorian people on the road, or as we knock on doors. I know everyone is different in their own way, but outside of the big city, it's a different life. In Otavalo for example, if we could get to the house without a billion dogs barking at us and attacking us, it was unusual. Or having an old man or woman answering the door with only half their teeth, who couldn't read, was passed out drunk, or only spoke Quechua was pretty much what we expected. I guess that was pretty normal for country folks, but I forgot what it was like in the city. It's been nice to be able to practice my Spanish the way I learned it again. 

The Calderón zone is now the biggest one in the mission, and on Friday we had a zone meeting. After the meeting I found one of the families I knew who was in the Vergel ward, my old ward from a year ago. It was the Guerrero family, and the youngest daughter didn't remember me, at least I think. It seemed like she remembered me until she looked at my nametag and pronounced it wrong, like most people do. Her older sister on the other hand, got excited and said, "Elder Dyal, how are you? Where are you now? " Apparently her dad, Brother Guerrero who was the mission leader, now has a stake calling and comes to Comité every once in a while. That makes me super excited! It's great to see some old friends from the Vergel Ward!

Comité del Pueblo itself is a pretty good ward. I really like and get along pretty well with the mission leader Brother Arauz. On Sunday, we were helping him move some stuff in his house and my pants ripped and he thought it was hilarious! Speaking of my pants ripping, that's been kinda a problem this week because another pair of my pants ripped during the zone meeting. No one heard the rip, thank goodness, but we had to rush home to change my pants afterwards. So that's 2 pairs of pants down. Now I'm worried how well my other pants are holding up!

My companion's name is Elder Ureta from some part of Peru. He is pretty cool, works hard but is kinda quirky. He talks to himself a lot and half of the time I can't understand him because he mumbles.

Anyways, have a great week everyone!

Elder Dyal 

Monday, April 18, 2016

Week #90 - Comité Del Pueblo, Ecuador - April 18, 2016

Dear Family and Friends,

So today was transfers and to my surprise, I was transfered back to Quito! I was sure I was going to go somewhere I haven't been before. In fact, more specifically, I was transfered back into the Calderón stake again. I was in that stake a year ago but this time I'm not in Vergel, I'm on the other side of the stake in a place called Comité del Pueblo. Comité del Pueblo is infamous for being dangerous with criminals all over the place. Actually when I started the mission, Comité had 2 companionships. But later I heard that the second companionship in Comité was closed for a number of reasons, but one of them was because the house they were living in was haunted!?! President Richardson had to go bless the house. He also told the missionaries to put Book of Mormons in every room and leave them open but there were still many other problems in the sector, so they closed the second companionship. Rumors or stories? I dunno but still pretty crazy! But now today, there is still only one companionship and that would be us now!

I'm excited to see some of the members and people I knew in Vergel again, but it probably won't happen unless we have a stake conference or some kind of combined meeting with all the wards. Vergel had to be by far one of the best wards I have served in on my mission!

Saturday was pretty interesting. We were in the middle of a leccion with a family who's been investigating the church for a while. If I remember right, I think I just finished teaching one of the points in my leccion and asked a question when we started to realize that the ground was moving! It started off softly then got harder and harder. I was kind of stunned and didn't realize what was happening. It was a good minute or minute and a half until it started to die off. Everyone began freaking out! We saw and heard people running around in the road completely terrified. When it was over, Elder Vail and I just looked at each other like, "Ok, as we were saying..." as if nothing even happened. In Otavalo, there really wasn't much that happened at all. The most damage it did was take out the electricity to several of the neighborhoods, but that was all. The earthquake actually happened on the coast of the Guayaquil North mission in a place called Manabí and that is where the majority of the damage was too. Most of the coast of Ecuador was affected, including Esmeraldas, Guayaquil, Manabí and other parts of the coast. Otavalo is in north central Ecuador, so we were pretty far from the epicenter, although it's crazy that we felt the trembles!

On Sunday, the stake president of Otavalo President Vega was showing us pictures of everything that had happened and the damage. It's pretty sad that lots of people got hurt and lost all their possessions. It reminded me a lot of what Alma was talking about when he was speaking to the Zoramites. He said that people are blessed when their life experiences begin to humble them, but they are even more blessed when they willfully humble themselves in spite of their trials and afflictions. We were able to see that a lot. We actually saw a lot of different attitudes towards the devastation that the earthquake caused them. Many people were humbled because of this experience. But we also saw the other side of it. Many surrounding countries lovingly volunteered and gave people food, water, and other supplies. They also came to help find and rescue missing people. And we would see some people feeling entitled to this help. We saw on live television many people express their frustration that they didn't get more help, like, "Why didn't the U.S come faster to help us?" Or, "We need more help from rich countries because we aren't rich." It was pretty sad to see that side of it. The earthquake is a very humbling experience. It was a wake up call to me, telling me that our Heavenly Father is the one in charge here! It's disappointing to me when people don't recognize that and instead feel they are entitled to blessings. It reminds me of the Nephites at the end of the Book of Mormon. When terrible things were happening to them, decided to curse God and wished to die instead of humbling themselves and repenting of their sins, as Mormon described. Hopefully we don't fall into that salvation destroying pattern. Anyway, lots of lessons to be learned from all this.

Have a great week everyone. Stay safe and thanks for your prayers!

Elder Dyal

"Would you like a Book of Mormon?"

Monday, April 11, 2016

Week #89 - Otavalo, Ecuador - April 11, 2016

Dear Family and Friends,

This week has been great in our missionary progress. 

Every time we go out teaching with a member of the ward, they usually suggest visiting a less-active that we didn't even know about or an old investigator that used to come to church but hasn't come in a long time. This week we went out with the Sunday School president and he suggested visit a less-active lady in the ward, and she only knows Quechua. She can barely speak Spanish, so he was able to help translate so we could understand. I still can't really understand Quechua. The conjugations don't make sense to me and no one explains it very well so that I can understand what everything means. So I have been learning words here and there, but nothing that makes sense in a sentence. But it was cool going out with Brother Cacuango, the Sunday School President, since he use to be a missionary not too long ago. He also used to be part of the bishopric in the ward. I can see myself wanting to go out with the missionaries a lot after my mission too.

Bishop Ruiz asked me a few weeks ago to play piano during sacrament meeting. His wife usually plays every week, so it was weird that he asked me to play. I haven't played in a while, but I accepted. I realized that I've gotten pretty rusty and can not play like I used to. I struggled a lot with keeping up the pace as the congregation was singing. When I was in Cayambe in September through November in 2014, the branch president asked me to play every week and I was still pretty good, but since it's been a while, I struggled with even some of the basic hymns. And about 2 weeks ago, there was a wedding and they asked to me to play. I completely butchered the hymns, but the good thing is that most people have never learned piano so they probably didn't notice too much. But it would be really nice to lay some time aside to practice if it were possible.

This week is also week 6 into this transfer, so on Sunday we will be getting changes and probably our travel papers for going home. After this week, I will only have 2 more transfers and then I'll go home (12 weeks). There are 2 places in the mission that I haven't been yet, Ibarra and Tulcán. I'm thinking I'll probably go to at least one of those places, and it would be cool to go to Tulcán, but I guess it really doesn't matter. I'll go wherever I'm assigned and needed. Mostly I would like to have really good companions who want to focus on working hard until I finish. I guess we will see what happens...

Have a great week everyone. Thanks for your emails and prayers.

Elder Dyal 

Otavalo specialized training with President Richardson a few weeks ago

Monday, April 4, 2016

Week #88 - Otavalo, Ecuador - April 4, 2016

Dear Family and Friends,

This will be a short letter. Sorry I didn't get to write a lot of individual emails today because of time. Our p-day went longer than expected and we have little time left. 

Our week was like a roller coaster! We had ups and downs and twists and loops. We spent the whole week preparing people to attend General Conference. We visited all our investigators, spoke to the less-actives, and even prepared a lot of the active members to attend conference. We were making sure to tell them the place and the session times. But my companion and I realized that conference isn't taken very seriously by a lot of people here. Many of the members we spoke to told us they were only planning to watch the Sunday morning session. We did our best to encourage people to watch all the sessions, but didn't have high hopes.

We knew of course it would be harder for investigators and the less actives to come, so we made plans to pick some of them up on our way. Every one of them promised to come with us, but when it came time for us to come get them, they had an excuse not to come. One family wasn't home. We talked to their and neighbors, cousins and aunts and they had no idea where they were. We came early to one of the less-active members before Priesthood session and talked with him for awhile, but by the time we needed to go, he disappeared! On Sunday, we went to one of our investigator families and found that the husband went to work and the wife didn't feel well so she didn't want to come. So I was definitely tested this week with patience. We decided to print some of the conference talks for each of them.

I was grateful to attend conference though and really enjoyed listening to the general authorities. Unfortunately we had a lot of problems with the internet connection though. We weren't able to listen to Dieter F. Uchtdorf's talk on the Sunday morning session. And the connection interrupted a lot of the talks. The computer would freeze or just shut down completely and we'd have to restart. I can't wait until the Liahona comes out so I can read all the talks without any technical errors or interruptions! :p

We were also super excited to hear them announce that a temple will be built in Quito! Everyone erupted in cheers when they announced it! I'm so grateful the people here will have a temple in this area. The only other temple in Ecuador is in Guayaquil which is quite the drive for anyone living in my mission. So exciting! And now that I think of it, that may be the reason Elder Holland came to Ecuador in the first place. To find a place to build the temple.

I don't have pics today. Next week I will be sure to send some! Have a great week everyone!

Elder Dyal