Sunday, June 30, 2013

Another Step in the Right Direction

Hello mom!  I don`t understand this whole sending photos thing anymore.  I guess I`ll just have to write beneath the giant balanced egg.  Maybe I`ll explain why it`s there in the first place.

On the equator you can balance an egg on a nail any time of the year.  The gravity is a little different and the forces don`t act on it in the same way it would a little more to the north or to the south.  I`ve been to the Mitad del Mundo three times now, counting today, and I could never balance the stinking egg!!  I thought it would be a waste of life if I`ve been in Ecaudor for two years and never could balance an egg on a nail so.... I did it today!!  HOOPLA!!  I can now die in peace :)

Well alright I guess that`s the plan, Denver at 9:30 in the morning.  I leave here at 11:20.  Not too bad.  Just have a piece of paper saying "Bald old orangatane (how do you spell it?!)"  and I`ll find you don`t worry.  

Well Ty sounds happier than a squirrel in a peanut factory.  He just loves everything!!  haha That`s good,  the mission needs new missionaries with a lot of enthusiasm.  He`ll do good.

Anyway, this week went well.  Did you guys see that missionary training broadcast?  Poderoso!!!  It was way good.  It made me officially feel old school, last generation, boot to the rear, get-out-of-my-house-and-move-on-with-your-life old!  The new missionaries are gonna say, hey do you remember when missionaries used to knock on doors, as they teach a lesson on Facebook.  Good grief.  So I was a little depressed but then I thought about it a little more.  The great theme was that members need to help missionaries.....and I`m going to be a member in a week!  Hey!  Whattya know I can still help in missionary work.  I`m gonna go to town while I can in Colorado because  I doubt that in Provo there will be much time.  I hope you`re helping the missionaries as much as you can as well, the family needs the blessings.  There`s never been a better time to be a returned missionary!

Another thing, they never really tell you to stop sharing the gospel.  As Jeffery R. Holland`s talk goes, "When I called you to be a missionary I called you forever!"  So I don`t have to stop being a missionary.  I think the problem with a lot of the returned missionaries is that they stop doing the things that make them happy, they stop studying, they stop serving, they stop doing the simple things, so like you said mom, I gotta maintain, not just adapt.  So for me, ending the mission is just like any other transfer, new challenges, new opportunities, new people, new friends, and new sector.  It`s not really the end, it`s just another step in life.  Another step in the right direction in my opinion. 

I ran out of time with all of these papers about interviews to fill and trying to send the photos for the slideshow, sorry.  But now I gotta go and work my plaque off this week.  I`m thankful that the Lord has given me the chance to be a missionary and I`m ready to go out fighting the good fight.  

I`ll see you all next week!  I love you all!  Adios y hasta ver!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Flushed Toilet Syndrome

Hey mom how`s it going?  Thanks for the prayers, my companion is doing much better and he`s been doing great.  He`s a good missionary.

Soooo sorry about the confusion.  My mission is dividing on the July 1 so it`s been madness in the offices.  I didn`t get to find out anything.  I just told Elder Dearden, the assistant, that the mothers are worried and want to know travel plans and that he should talk to secretaries about it.  So we`ll see what happens.  He might have taken it as a joke and forgotten about it.... we`ll find out!  But don`t worry, it`ll all work out.  But plan on me getting home on the 2nd.  It`s what it normally would be, I was confused because the trunky paper said the 28th, and Sister Platts explained that it was a mistake.  Just one sister missionary is going home on that date.  The rest of us will be there on the 2nd.  In the morning, I imagine, if I`m leaving late July 1.  That`s what`s gonna happen.  Sorry for the hassle but everything will work out okay. :D

Ah yeah Elder first MTC Provo companion.  Goooood times.

Oh and I`m ashamed that I forgot to mention this last Monday but, 
HAPPY (LATE) FATHER`S DAY DAD!!  You`re great and a great example to me.  Thanks for all you do for me and I hope you`re happy!  
Anyway, I took $60 out of the account to buy some souvenirs.  You should see how we have to bargain with those little indiginas ladies.  They`re tough cookies to crack!

Okay so my week was okay.  As soon as he came Elder Dos Santos left!  So we`re just Elder Granda and me here in the sector again.  We`re doing well and trying to work as hard as we can.  We recently discovered that there is a lot of hurt feelings in the ward so we`ve been trying to help the bishop with the members.  I had to talk yesterday too, except my father`s day message was about forgiveness.  Have you ever noticed that when you really pour your heart into the message and you pray all week that it`ll be what the Lord wants you to say and everything seems great, you end up only having five minutes to speak.  haha it`s madness!  So I just put my whole talk to the side and talked about the Atonement and forgiveness.  But it must be for a reason right?  I think I learned more that the members!

Other than that I`ve been doing okay.  It`s been a good week and I`ve been doing okay.  Last night it really hit me how much time I have left.  I started screaming.  Drastic life changes have that effect on me. Then today while I was by the offices I met some members from my old sector La Luz, I talked with them and they wrote down my email and we said our goodbyes.  Crazy.  Then I said goodbye to some of the elders who had emergency changes that I won`t see again.  Dang.  So all this has made me feel like everything is just spinning around and going out of sight, like I`m being flushed down the toilet!  Madness.... but Mondays are always trunky so hopefully everything will be better during the week.

Other than that....I have nothing else to think about. 

Hey some elders have asked for my MP3 player....should I leave it to one of them or should I take it back home and send it to Ty?  Help me know what I should do. 

Um... I also..... need to.... know.....anything else?  I can`t think of anything.  I think it`s okay if I leave most of my clothing right?  How many shirts and pants should I bring back?  I already gave one pair of my shoes away to Elder Dos Santos.  What else?  I dunno.  Hopefully all these travel plans get figured out.  
But have a great week, tell everyone hi, thanks for the birthday wishes, I know I`m old.  But it`ll be a party!  Thanks for everything, I love ya guys, adios!


Um yes I´ll be arriving the 2nd of July.  They messed up on the paper.  They haven´t given me any travel plans but last time I was talking with Sister Platts, the secretary, she said I´d be on the plane the night of July 1st and then I´d be home the 2nd.  I don´t which airport I´m going to yet either.... haha but it´ll be midweek.  That´s how it normally is.  Change ends on Sunday, interviews and dinner on Monday, and off we go.  If it´s all the same I can just arrive, take a taxi, show up to the house in the middle of the night, crawl into my old room, and we´ll all see each other the next morning.  HOOOPLA!!!  But I´ll go ask right now if they know anything. I´ll tell them the missionary mothers are going mad and rioting and that if I don´t tell them something fast we´ll have a real problem. I´ll write later in the day and tell you what´s up.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Through Thick and Thin‏

Hello my mother.  Whew well it`s been a craaazy week.  Where do I begin.  First off, YEAH!  Kyle`s back.  You`ll have to tell me how he`s doing.  He must have extended right?  Have you heard anything about Ben getting back?  

Wow Ty`s leaving.  Two weeks in the MTC and then he`s off to California.  Man, I wish I remembered what the letter I sent Ty says.  I remember telling him what really matters but more than that... well it was for him and I`m glad it`s helped him.  If you see him before he goes tell him I love him and tell his parents that everything will be great and not to worry, he`s in the Lord`s hands.

And happy mother`s day to Nicole!  Sheesh when I left nobody was married or had babies and now I`ll be coming back to find Grandma and Grandpa great grandparents and my teenage cousins all grown up.  Good grief two years makes all the difference.

Ah, speaking of difference, thanks for the package!  I got it all!  I had forgotten that I said that I missed pop tarts, and then I find them in the box! Sweet!  Thanks a lot.  I believe in the law of consecration though and had to give my two companions some, they had never even seen pop tarts before! I told you all that I`m with Elder Dos Santos again now right?  No?  Well I am.  We`re in a trio.  Who`d have thought I`d be back with this crazy brazilian again?  Asi es la vida.

Okay as for what we`ve done, I went to the mountain Cayambe last Monday, thus you can see the photo.  I love Ecuador, I can be 16,000 feet up in the snow and wind, and four hours later I can be in the hot humid Amazon rain forest or a beach by the pacific ocean.  Can`t get much better than that!!

So one thing that`s really struck me this week was when the zone leaders showed up at our door Saturday morning saying that President Ghent wanted to talk with us.  uuuuuh ooohhh.....  So they call him and I talk to President first, he informs me that my companion, Elder Granda´s, dad had died.  He told me not to tell him yet but that we needed to go to the offices where Elder Granda`s bishop would be waiting for us because President was in a stake conference in Esmeraldas.  I said okay and said we would help Elder Granda as much as possible.  I then told my companions that we had to go to the offices to talk with Elder Kaneen, the finances elder.  On the bus ride I couldn`t help praying for poor Elder Granda who just seemed so happy right there and then.  I tried to talking to him, tried to prepare him, talking about his study of the Atonement and one of his favorite scriptures, D&C 122:7, but there`s no way to prepare someone for a thing like that.  Finally we arrived at the empty offices, all empty except for Elder Kaneen (a senior missionary) and the bishop from Machala.  There Elder Granda heard the news and called his family.  

Now I`ve learned several things from this last couple of days, first and foremost I`ve come to understand another face of the Atonement.  While in the bus I prayed asking Heavenly Father to put some of the pain and sorrow of Elder Granda on me, that he wouldn`t have to take this on by himself, that I would be able to feel what he was feeling and help make his burden more light.  That`s when the thoughts came to my head saying, you don`t have to, He already did.  Christ already took upon himself our sorrows and heart ache.  He already knows how we feel so He can succor us according to our "sicknesses" or trials that we pass through.  Elder Granda`s faith shouldn`t be on me, but on the Savior because He`s the one who`s drank from the bitter cup.  So that helped me know where I should direct people`s vision when they`re suffering.  I can always help and try to provide comfort but never as well as Jesus can.

Now my companion has gone through this trial remarkably well.  He`s been doing great and has been able to continue working and has stayed focused.  Of course he misses his father but things are different here on the mission. What goes on at home doesn`t feel real.  Or sometimes the Spirit has more opportunity to comfort us.  So he`s been doing great.  This has taught me that I have absolutely nothing to brag about.  These last few months I`ve been with companions that have lost loved ones, that have gone through terrible pain and injury, that are the only members in their entire family and thus receive no support from family members whatsoever, yet they`re here serving the Lord.  They`re here giving the best of themselves.  Maybe they understand something that elders such as I (the type with great family support, years in the church, good health, and that have made little sacrifice) haven`t fully understood yet, that the mission isn`t about us, it`s about the people we serve.  It`s about our brothers and sisters who haven`t had the chance yet to know the gospel.  It`s about the lives and generations that we can change.  So people ask, why can these young men and women make such sacrifices and leave so much behind?  BECAUSE IT`S THE TRUTH!!  There`s absolutley no other reason.  I`ve personally seen the sacrifice, prayers, and tears of these companions and I know that there could be nothing save the very work of salvation that would make them give up so much for nothing in return.  This the work of God and I`m so grateful I`ve been able to a part of it.  I`m also grateful that Christ`s sacrifice is very real, and His Atonement really does give us strength in times of trial.  What else can I say?

Other than that we`re doing well.  We`ll be working harder this week.  We`ll be doing our best.  Thankfully, I have no time to be trunky with a companion to help and train as well as a ward to help and people to teach.  So pray for us please!  Thanks for all your help and all you`ve done for me.  I`m very grateful for all the support I have from home and for the things I learned there.  Stay strong, have a great week, and do what`s right!  I love ya guys! Adios!

Re: Hello June 2‏

Hello Mom I`m sorry, we had another zone activity hiking to a mountain and so I don`t have time.  Forgive me!  I`ll write next week. I`m feeling better and am doing better.  The Cortes family was married and baptized this weekend so I`m happy.  It`ll be a good week.  Good work in Washington DC, have a great week I love you guys!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Trunky Papersssss.‏

Well the things finally got here!  But I have a few questions about what it wants to know and I`ll ask you.

What airport am I going to?  Do I go all the way to Alamosa or do I go to Denver?

It also asks me if I`ll need transport from the airport to my house.  Do I?

And that`s about it!  OH, what`s our direction?  411150 County Road T right?  Just to be safe :)

HELP ME!  and thanks for doing so.  I love you!

Forward, Pushing Forwa

Hello my long lost family!  So I am jealous that you`re in Washington DC.  All those museums sound like nirvana to me.  Some day I`ll go!  But hope you`re enjoying it.

Okay so I have a lot of catching up to do.  Let`s start from Monday or Tuesday of last week.

So I got my results back and I have amoebae.... I asked the nurse what the heck that was and she said they`re like little fish, so I said I have fish inside me?! and she said no but she likes to think of it that way.  They live in my colon.  Great.  I also went to the doctor Tuesday morning and I also had a sinus infection and so they gave me a shot for that and some 20 pills to take over the next few days.  (haha getting a shot from an Ecuadorian nurse.
Brett - sooo how long have you worked here?
Nurse- Two years.
Brett - ah yeah?  Great.
Nurse - Pull your pants down and lay on the table.
Brett - Eh? Oh yeah okay.  How big is the needle?....CHUTA! Have mercy!
Nurse - Ready?  Relax
Brett -  Oh they always tell me to relax right before jabbing a needle in my rear.  Hey, aren`t you supposed to rub alcohol or something?
Nurse - Of course!  We`re just as trained as Americans! (aaaand then injects me)  
And I limped out of the clinic with the dignity of a sheared lamb.)
Then I had to take some urine tests, get some blood drawn, and then the people in the lab rejected my urine ("It`s because I`m white isn`t it?!")  and I had no problems with my blood.  Which is good I was kinda nervous to see if Ecuador has given me HIV or something... all clear.  So I started taking some pills for the parasites and I started feeling better.  The thing is I still feel a little sick and not 100% rocking so I called the nurse again and turns out I was taking the medicine wrong.  I should have been taking 2 pills once a day but I thought it was one pill once a day.  Sigh.  So she said I have to....what a surprise.... poop in a cup again.  NOOOO!!!  "sister just give me the pills again and we`ll go from there!" "No elder I want to test you again so I can be sure."  Dang it.  Soo.... I`m opening a new sector, again, and I don`t know where any good labs are!  So here we go again.  Ah the new sector, so that brings me into the next topic.

So Sunday night we were leaving an appointment when the zone leaders called me and told me that I was going to be changed.  "Nooooohohoho I just got here." I thought.  So I got the change to come back to Quito, zona Ofelia ( just to the north of zona Quito) sector Carcelen Bajo, to open a sector while training a new missionary.  
Here it goes here it goes here it goes again, I should have known should have known....
So I packed my bags and said goodbye to my sweet jungle home for the last time.  It was raining and I just sat looking out the window the five hours on the bus going to Ambato trying to get my last glimpse of the Amazon.  It`s sad to think that I might not get the chance to go back.  But life moves on and I`m happy I was able to help at least a few people there in Tena.  Hopefully the returned missionary we found by accident that day gets married and his wife gets baptized.  As well as the doctor who was helping us get better, she had a baptismal date!  But I love the little branch.  

So now I`m here in Carcelen Bajo with my new companion Elder Granda, he`s Ecuadorian from Machala and he`s waiting for his visa to go to his mission in Mexico, Tampico.  He`s really prepared and actually knows what to expect on the mission.  So that makes everything easier.  And he`s been strong in the gospel as well.  He`s gonna do good.  The ward here is struggling, this Sunday there were only about 40 people in the sacrament meeting, and the bishop and none of his councilors could be there.  The high priest group leader was conducting the meeting.  And he didn`t give much hope in his talk either, what he pretty much said was, "Well they combined two wards in the stake today, they had been divided for 17 years but now they need to combine to be stronger.  I hope the same doesn`t happen with us, but they haven`t told us anything yet, so I guess we`ll have to wait and see."  Oh dear.  And so there is a LOT of work to do here in this sector.  And not too much time to do either.  So the good part is that I don`t have time to be trunky!  I have a son to train and a sector to save and I have to try my best.  And that`s probably what will inspire me to poop in a cup again because I can`t do it being all low energy  being sickly.

The cool part is that the Tena Branch president`s sister lives in this ward, and we`ve been teaching her husband, Jose Luis and he`s hopefully getting baptized this weekend if they get married this Friday.  Wooo!!  Hopefully it all turns out all right.  Other than them we`re teaching some contacts, a mother and a daughter, who are really receptive and went to church this Sunday.  I have high hopes for them and hopefully they`ll be baptized the 8th.  Other than that, we gotta work like lumberjacks and talk to the people we meet!  We found a family of Columbians, really friendly, but they`re not married and I imagine it`ll be super hard because I think they`re illegal immigrants here in Ecuador.  And the Ecuador marriage system is a pain in the neck.  But we`ll see what happens.

Oh and the other good part is that nobody knows how much time I have here in ward.  They all ask me and I tell them "more than a year" and they seem satisfied with that.  I told my companion the same thing and he seems okay with it.  So we`re avoiding all trunky comments what so ever.  

And that`s my story,  here I am, and hopefully here I will be till the end.  Speaking of which, it says I`ll be traveling June 28th....which is a Friday.....I don`t get it?  I`ll have to go to the offices and find out what`s going on.  My zone leader son, Elder Dearden is assistant now so I got connections!  haha

Well hope you have a great time in the capital, take some pictures, I love you guys!


Monday, May 20, 2013

My good friend, La Virgen del Rosario

Hello my mother.  Well it was good to talk you all and see that you look good.  Thanks for the college help.  It makes me feel good that I know where I`m going at least.  I didn`t want to be like the dog barking to just get  out of the yard then when I`m finally out I just sit by the fence.  Plans give direction.
I think I forgot to say Happy Mother`s Day MOTHER`S DAY!!  haha I`m sorry it`s like the video turns on and then my mind goes blank.  It`s like...well hello!  And nothing else.  So sorry for not saying that yesterday.  My bad.
Um but other than that I called the nurse last night and she told me that it`s possible that I have a parasite, so I was thinking just tell me to take a pill and I`ll do it but nooooo I have to go poop in a cup.  Dang it!!!  She told me not a lot, just about two spoonfulls and I asked her how the heck am I gonna measure that.  You want me to go in the bathroom with a spoon and a bowl or what?  I was joking with her of course but I need to do it.  And it was awkward going to the pharmacy and asking for the container.  It seemed so hectic and everybody was talking at the same time then the lady by the counter asked me what I needed so I said "Un frasco de orina!"  For some reason it seemed like everybody stopped and just stared.  
"A what?"
*Brett sweating and looking nervous* "uh a aa frasco de orina?"
"Ah ya okay.  25 cents." 
I look around and the young mother with the baby is staring at me with a face that says, "Gringos. Psht.  If I had a parasite I would have killed by myself."
Then I asked if they knew a good lab or clinic I could go to and then everybody had an opinion.  "Thank you Tena!  I`m glad you`re all concerned about my the welfare of my bowels!"  But they suggested that I go to a lab called Virgen del Rosario, a very catholic name that`s surprisingly run by Jehovah's Witnesses..... there`s a whole bunch of contradictions there.
But anyway I`m alright.  No results yet.  I haven`t tried poopin in the cup yet so we`ll see how it goes.... I`m scared.  Sigh.  But I`m drinking some Gatorade anyway.  I took out some money today, I`ve been barely getting by because I haven`t wanted to spend money that`s not mine but with your permission I`m gonna make use of it.  No use letting it rot in the bank when I need it.  So thank you for that.  I`ll use it wisely.
Anyway nothing new.  I`m doin alright.  Thanks for everything you`re doing for me, thanks for the prayers, I`m gonna be working and finishing strong.  It`ll all work out. We`re gonna work our parasite ridden hides off this week and we`ll see some results I`m sure.  We`re also gonna have interviews with President Ghent as a zone in Ambato on Friday so it should be a good week.  
I`ll see ya guys later!  I love you all, have a great week!  Adios!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Best of Times, The Worst of Times‏

Alirghty, hello how are you?  So first things first, I think I should be calling on skype on Sunday at 3 in the afternoon here in Ecuador so around 1 your time.  Or maybe a little later so you can eat.  Don`t worry about it.  so let`s say 1:20 haha.

If ya wanna call me call.... .  It`s the church phone.  That`ll work.

Yeah UVU or UofU whatever is better I`ll go.  I don`t know much about either!

So Cameron is going to live in Papa`s house?  Plaza de Sol.... dang, what will papa do there?  That`s rough.

Um okay so this week was a good one and a bad one.  It was like.... well I guess I`ll tell you.

So President Ghent called on Monday night asking me about my companion, how he was doing and what not.  I said he`s good, but what exactly was he asking for?  Spiritually?  Physically?  So he got to the point and said that the nurses had told him that Elder Briñez`s knee was hurting him.  I said yes and that it would swell sometimes and it hurt him.  So he told me that he had spoken with the area doctor and they decided that it was better that Elder Briñez return to Cali, Colombia and do therapy sessions until he could get better.  (He had surgery in December for a torn wasn`t getting better.)  So I said, "Dang. But okay." He then informed me that I would be receiving another companion.     He said he was sorry that this would have to happen but that he loved me and yeah things would work out.  So I said, thanks for the opportunity and passed the phone to my companion so President could talk to him.  Elder Briñez objected, he didn`t want to go home, afterward he was sad, we had to talk there for awhile, he was frustrated and scared about what everyone would say once he got back.  They would think it was an excuse not to go on the mission.  We talked and I tried to help him but he asked me, "And what if I don`t come back?" 
"I guess it`s what the Lord wants."
"But I had faith I would be healed!  And it didn`t happen.  Maybe I don`t have faith."
"Faith in God doesn`t mean, having faith that He`ll give us what we want, but give us what`s best.  It`s trust in Him.  Everything happens for a reason."

But we left the next morning and we talked and laughed but then said goodbye in the terminal with tears in our eyes and then he left to Quito.  He`s a good guy, and I`m gonna miss him. 

So then I met up with my new companion, Elder Riveros from Paraguay, with five months in the mission.  He`s really happy, likes to joke, and I met him in the zona activity to Baños.  He knows Elder Recalde, the elder that I trained also from Ecaudor.  So we started talking and I`ve found a few things about him.  He`s the only member of the church in his family of 10, he was less active for four years but active for two and now he`s here on the mission.  He has good intentions but nobody`s really taken the time to help him I feel.  So he`s good and he`s adopted me as his trainer haha.  I asked for mountains to climb so can`t complain when they come!

We also had the baptism of Anibal  this weekend, awesome!!  By a beautiful river and we had member support and it turned out really nice.  Church attendance also went up.  so I feel good.  I`m happy.  Just a little sick.  I ate something terrible!!  Destroyed my stomach.  I`ll send photos next week.

But anyway I hope ya have a great week. I`ll talk to you all on Sunday!  I love you guys, take care!

When In Rome‏

Hey mom how´s it goin?  Your little adventure sounded like a whole lot of fun.  Nothing teaches better than experience.  And good for Joselyn.  Hope she has a good mission.

Well right now I dont have a lot of time to write, again, because we had another zone activity.  I told myself no, no we´re not gonna go but then they said we were going to a monkey park.  How could I resist?  So I spent today chillin with my monkey cousins lovin life and basking in the jungle heat.  The bad part was that I lent my camera to our missionary leader, Einer.  He´s crazy.  But I did it and he used up almost all of the battery and so the camera died and I didn't have enough battery to take good pictures of my monkey friends.  So.... the next time.  And this was in Puyo so we had to travel two hours and then come back.  We also ate.  I ate a food typical of here, it´s called Mayto.  It´s fish (called talapia) that´s cooked in corn leaves.  And that´s it!  You eat it all.  And then they give you a pound of yuka and an Ecaudorian salad to go with it (which consists of onion and tomato. nothing else).  Luckily the store next door asked if I wanted a smoothie (YES!) so I  got an avocado smoothie.  Now at first I didn´t like avocados  but then I started buying them because it reminded me of dad eating them.  Then I became a man and started to love those dang things.  So in smoothie form, with a little of sugar and milk.  It´s delicious.  So try it!  You´ll like it.  

Um other than that we postponed the baptism of Anibal for this weekend because we felt like it was the best thing to do.  Like grandpa told me, you should always follow an impression no matter how hard the decision is.  I think it´ll work out better that way.

Well thanks for everything mom.  I´ll be writing you next week and I´ll send you  a photo of mayto.  So we can cook it at home haha.  I love you, thanks for the help, have a great week.  Tell the family I said hi.  Adios!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Feliz de la vida‏

Hey mom how´s it goin?  I just barely got back from a zone activity three hours away in a tourist hotspot called Baños.  Baño actually means bathroom and I haven´t quiet figured out why it´s called that.... maybe because of all the waterfalls.... if I had a full bladder and was next to a rushing waterfall a bathroom would be one of the first things I´d want too I guess.... those crazy Spaniards and their names!
But it was fun, my card doesn´t seem to work on this computer so next week I´ll show you what it was like.  The last time I went was my first couple of months in the mission field so it was cool to go back as an old man missionary.  I know most of the missionaries in the zone from the time I was in La Luz so it was cool to talk to them and see how they´re doing.
Okay so I´ve been thinking about future careers and such (this can´t be good) but I think I would like to first start off studying biology.  I´ve realized I really like nature, animals, and science stuff so maybe I could start off studying that.  And if not, I can always go in to medicine and still not have wasted my time studying something entirely unrelated.  So thinking of that.... if I would like to go to medical school I don´t see BYU as the best pick, but maybe The University of Utah.  I know it has a great medical program, probably impossible to get into this late into the applying game, but I could study biology in the mean time and maybe later get into medicine if I try my best.  But as I study biology, and I really feel that I have a future in nature/animal, Discovery Channel, National Geographic stuff I´ll go with that.  So I see the University of Utah as the university with the most open doors for me at the moment and would prefer to go there I think.  If it´s too expensive, if it´s not possible, I can go to BYU.  But I´ll work after getting home and I´ll start a savings fund to be able to get into the UofU.  So that´s my plan.  I got accepted but I think I forgot to defer..... or I forgot my password I believe.  If you could help me with that I´ll definitely have more time next week to try and help you out.  But could you try to see what you could do to help me get in and have at least some general classes?  If not, help me know where to go and I´ll do it next week.  Yeah?  So that´s the decision...for now.  The Utes.
Okey well the whole Boston thing sounds like a series finale of 24.  Geez.  That´s crazy. 
You work like a mad woman in a sweat shop.  Hopefully you can take a break!
So this weekend we had two baptisms.  They´re 13 and 10 years old respectively and are the children of a lady (who was baptized in March) and her husband (who´s not a member....yet).  Their other daughter, was baptized with her mother, and the youngest daughter is only seven years old.  It was a good baptism, seeing that the church is on the second floor of some building, we do the baptisms in a river.  I´ll send the photo next week.  It was good and I was happy for them.  So what was interesting is that on Sunday night we got a call from the dad.  They were just getting done with a meeting with the branch president,  because they were having marriage problems (affairs, physical abuse, and then separation.... all the things that tick me off about the world...) and the dad just said that he wanted to talk to us.  I felt, "Baptism."  We met up with him at his house and he said, "Elders, I want to be baptized this weekend."  We stared at him.  
"But I want brother Vicente Cajilema to baptize me."
We smiled and said "Well...alright!  Cool!"

This hermano is an interesting person.  He always told us how he can´t change, how he´s always been Catholic, he likes to drink, how he needs to fix a lot of things before baptism, but that he likes the church.  He always has questions, he always has doubts, he´ll argue till you´re blue in the face, but then at the end he accepts it.  Like we taught him about the Word of Wisdom last week and he argued with us about how we can´t interpret "hot drinks" for tea and coffee for about 20 minutes but then at the end of the lesson he said, I like this commandment, I think I need to stop smoking.  "Aight. Cool!"  So we gave him a priesthood blessing and then we talked with him yesterday and said he hasn´t smoked all week.  He said, "Your little prayer thing worked!"  Faith and the power of God work miracles my friends.
Soooo anyway we´re gonna be working like mad men to help him be prepared for baptism this weekend.  Whew.  I love the mission because the Spirit will suddenly touch the heart of someone and then it´s like a Pop Tart jumping out of the toaster unexpectedly. Ya gotta get it while it´s still hot!
I miss Pop Tarts.
Other than that, we´ve been visiting less active members  finding new people, doing service (we went to a dump the other day.  One word : APESTA!) and living life.  My companion´s mom is doing fine, doing very well, his knee needs help but we´re on our way.  The Lord is blessing us, we´re excited to work, I´m happy to be in my own isolated town where nobody makes me trunky, and we´re gonna darle duro these coming weeks.  I´m sorry that I don´t have time to write any one else this week but I just want ya to know that I love you guys, thanks for the support and the help and stay strong!  Carry on! Remember that the sun is shining!  Adios!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Si te sientes muy feliz....‏

Hey mom!  Naw the card is good and everything is fine.  We´re alive!  

So Wednesday we received our companions and right now I`m with Elder Briñez, from Cali Colombia.  He´s been a member all his life, was inactive for about three years, but decided to reactivate himself and go on the mission.  He´s 21.... come to think of it, I think all my companions have been older than me. Even two that I´ve trained!  Dang.  Anyway he´s a good missionary and he wants to learn.  I think the first week has been hard for him, it was for me, and what made things worse is that just barely he got an email from his family saying that his mom had a heart attack a couple of days ago.  She´s alive but in the hospital.  Oh it´s hard..... but that´s why the Lord´s given us the Atonement and companions to help us through.  Trials.

Well alright so I called the branch president and his wife before leaving Quito on Wednesday and the wife met us in the bus terminal at 9:30 at night.  She then took us to find our apartment.  Turns out that the original apartment´s street is under construccion (like the rest of Tena) and is under danger of fallin in the giant hole in the street.  So, the government has moved us to a storage unit.  So we arrived to our storage unit and walked in, it´s one room and a bathroom.  It´s not too bad, it´s big enough at least and has a bathroom, which is a plus, could be worse.  We walk in and I step into a big puddle.... the whole floor is covered in water.... so I walk into the bathroom to find a toilet destroyed out of it´s potty mouth. (Photo included)  Whew!  So we start cleaning up.  We didn´t have a plunger so we went to use the bathroom of the neighbor (HEY neighboor!  We´re new here! Nice to meet you - where`s your bathroom?), ate a little bit of dinner that the branch president´s wife (Veronica) brought us, moved the beds out of the water, prayed and slept.  When we woke up we finished cleaning everything up for a couple of hours and then we could study a little.  Hermana Veronica then helped us get to know the sector and start to know where a few of the old investigators lived.  And thus it began!!  

This week was good, we´ve been able to find most of the investigators (they were four in total so that wasn´t too hard actually) and get to know some of the members.  The branch president is really helpful and it´s cool.  I really like Tena, it´s not as hot as Coca but it´s still jungle and it has mountains.  JUNGLE MOUNTAINS!!  What else could a man want?  The church has been here about 15 years and we have an attendance of around 40 people every Sunday.  The chapel is on the second floor of building that nobody seems to find...but it´s great!  The members told me that the missionaries get discouraged here because there are a lot of natives here that don´t have principles, and the people that do have principles are evangelists and Jehovah's witnesses, and that everybody likes to drink more than anything else.  We met a man who shouted ¨Elders¨ and we asked him how he knew the Elders and he said he once was one.... wow.  But I won´t get down, I was thinking about the example of my buddy Ammon.  Now the Lamanites were a people without principles!!  He had to fast and pray for several days and had to suffer a lot trails but the ending result was that thousands of souls were saved.  Now I just have to deal with the apostate great grandchildren haha. I´m sure the Lord will give us success and we´ll be able to help the branch as well, if I´m obedient, have faith, follow spiritual impressions, kick myself in the rear and look at myself with a Clint Eastwood face every morning.  

Being second councilor is good, my companion and I were able to help with the tithing and get to know the system of the Church.  It´s interesting how organized the church is.  I wish my suitcase would be the same.  Next week my companion and I are going to give talks in the sacrament meeting... I have to talk about the importance of fulfilling callings.  Should be fun.  We also are helping the branch choir.... a whopping total of 7 people including us.  Which is good!  It´s a start haha.  

We found another returned missionary when we were wandering the streets trying to figure out where we were.  We were walking and then all of a sudden the thought came to me ¨Hey!  Why don´t we buy some food in the market while we wander¨ So I stopped right in front of a small cell phone shop.  I was going to tell my companion my idea when all of a sudden a man from the store yelled ¨Hello missionaries!¨ I asked him how he knew the missionaries and he said because he was one.  Heh?  So we sat down and taught him and turns out that he served in Quito as a missionary but now was living with his girlfriend (not married) and they have a kid and he´s looking for work repairing cell phones and he didn´t even know the church existed in Tena.  So we told him that we´re here to bring him back!  Hopefully.  He couldn´t go to church this Sunday but hopefully the next.  Get the man married!  But what impacted me is that JUST in that moment when I was JUST going past that store, the thought to stop and go buy food hit me.  Some might say, ¨Brett you always think about food don´t kid yourself¨ but I think the Lord works through mysterious ways to get through my thick head!!  He knew that I would stop to think that, so he made the thought go through my head.  At least that´s what I believe!  I´m stickin to it!

But I´m good, training is good for me, helps me refocus and remember my purpose.  I´ll be learning alot and start working like the white water buffalo that I am.  I´m excited and I´m happy and I´m frankly enjoying life.  How could you not be when just looking around makes you want to sing ¨IIIIIINN THE JUNGLE THE MIGHTY JUNGLE THE LION SLEEPS TOOONIIIIIIGGGHHTTT AAAAWWWWWWEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!¨ well you get the picture.  But the gospel is the same no matter where you are.  I´ll focus more on the people.  

Hope you have a great week mom, good luck with all that computer stuff, yeah sign me up to whereever you want, I´ll make it work.  I mostly wanted BYU (at first for the wife but now...) for the chance to keep studying in a spiritual place.  I wanna be able to hear the apostoles and prophets and keep studying the scriptures.  If I can do that in other places let it rock.  I´ll decide when I get home.  I tried praying once about it and all I felt was ¨You´re on your mission.  Focus.¨ So we´ll see what happens.  

Tell everyone I said hi, thanks for the support, and enjoy the blistering wind!  Buh!  Adios! I love you guys.

Monday, April 8, 2013

They Can Take The Boy Out of the Jungle... but not for long!!‏

Hello my mother!

And again, Happy Birthday to Dad.

Well General Conference was a blast wasn´t it?  Good talks!  I have to go back over my notes.  haha I was just telling my companion how Grandma Jackson always called President Uchtdorf her boyfriend.  But a lot of the talks focused on standing strong, staying faithful through trails, and having hope.

Well I tried getting my ID and password all set up.  Talking in the zone leader conference everyone told me how they were already signing up for classes so it was madness!  I thought, "I better get on that or I´ll be selling bananas on the BBQ by the Wal Mart parking lot..."  so I tried. And it works.  Now what?  Hey.,... If I´m going into this whole medical gig maybe University of Utah would be good??  We could try at least..

So it´s weird to me that I have a blog.... and people read it.  What the heck does the thing even say?!  What´s goin on here?  How much of my dirty underpants am I showing to the world?  It´s like I´m walking around with a "kick me" note and I don´t know it.  But not in such a bad way.

Um so I got changes!  I´m going back to my dear jungle home of the Oriente!!  To a city called Tena.  My companion and I will be the only ones there, our zone leaders will live in Ambato, 5 hours away, but our district leader will live 2 hours away at least.  I´ll be opening up the sector because the other missionaries were taken out.  And I´ll be training!  Wooo!!  And I´ll be the first counciler in the branch presidency.  That´s intense.  My companion´s going to be the secretary.  haha it´s gonna be great!  It´ll help me learn more about leadership and how to help in a ward and branch.  ANY ADVICE?!?!  But I´m a missionary first and foremost and doesn´t make me exempt of the missionary rules.  Um, I´m excited.  I prayed this past week for the Lord to give me mountains to climb, if he wanted me to train I´d do it, if not I´ll do my best where He wants me to be, but just please help me learn and become the person He wants me to be.  So I got this change.  So it´ll help me grow and I´ll be able to help the branch grow and find people to teach and to baptize.  I have faith.  I´ll work like a mad man!!  No time to slack baby!

But I´m sending pictures of Cotopaxi, of our zone service in a nursing home, and the fanesca, the typical food of Easter that has 12 grains, eggs, and fish.  Wheeeewweeee it´s a heavy plate! 

But I hope you have a great week, hope you have good experiences, and I just want you to pray for me!!  I need all the help I can get :)

Thanks for everything mom, I love you!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Climb Every Mountain

HEY!  I´m soooo sorry for having time to write this week mom.  Sorry!  I messed up.  The thing is I went and climbed a 15,000 foot mountain today.  It´s called Cotopaxi.  Look it up if don´t believe me.  The thing is that we got back later than planned so.... I messed up.  But it was the first activity we had since January so we made it big.  But I just wanna tell you that I´m doing well. I´m whole and safe.  I´ll write you double next week.  I love you!  Take care!  Say hi to the family!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Small and Simple Things‏

So I´m really thankful for Dad´s letter.  If my letter arrived to Papa just when he needed it, Dad´s letter arrived just when I needed it.  I think sometimes we need that advice from someone who´s already walked these steps, a glimpse of what lies ahead from someone who´s been there.  So thanks Dad.  I love you.

So thanks for delivering the letters mom.  Hopefully they like it.  Since I´m terrible at writing letters I don't know if I´ll be able to write and send anymore off before June.  Like you saw, you´re barely getting the letters from August, September, and December!  Ay.  But the good news is that the rules for internet have changed.  I can now write, friends, priesthood leaders, and converts.  WOO!! And I also have two hours to write now.  So pass my correo along and tell the world that I wanna catch up.  But there´s still one more person that I need to write a letter to...

I´m jealous that you get to go the temple.  I know I was freaked out of my mind when I first went and I wasn´t really anxious to go back any time soon but now.... I just want to go.  I think my freaking out was a lack of my personal preparation.  If you remember, I said I didn´t want to go because I wanted to keep swimming with my friends out by the river.  Aiiiiii  I was a lost soul haha.  But after two years, it´s the one of the first things I want to do!  But anyway, enjoy the temple.

What else?  So this week we had a service project that as you say in Spanish, me sacó el aire!  What we did was remove a wall of dirt and line the wall of the house with plastic so water wouldn´t keep seeping in.  It's been raining like a mad man down here this week. I wake up every morning freezing only to look out the window and see pure clouds.  But then it usually warms up in the morning then starts pouring in the afternoon.  And this poor family of members, Familia Roman, has had their house flooded with a couple inches of water.  Their house is next to a cliff of sorts and a lot of water is leaking out of the wall of earth that´s next to their house.  So we took picks, shovels, hoes, and bars to hack away at the dirt.  Some of the zone was up on the roof, as you can see in the first picture, while I was down on the ground, shoveling away the dirt that fell and then hacking away at the cliff to make some space for us to enter behind the wall.  It took most of the day but we got it done.  We still need to go back to clean up the pile of dirt next to their house though.  My hands, arms, and back are still sore but I feel like a man at least! It was also a good activity to get to know the zone a little more and also build some unity.  Sometimes work helps us grow closer than just playing games together.

  I went to a baptism in Vista Hermosa, a ward a little higher than ours, of a man named Alex Villareal.  It was cool because I´ve seen the name of this man for about 6 months now.  When I first arrived in Quito I saw his name on a list of references from the offices and we tried to find him.  He didn´t live in Quito, so we sent the reference to the sector Tumbaco.  He didn´t live in Tumbaco so I sent the reference to Los Chillos.  Then I got changed to Los Chillos.  Then the sisters in Sangolqui said he didn´t live there but by the Marin, in the zone Santa Ana.  So I sent it there.  But then somehow the missionaries found him way up on the hillside. Two weeks later he was baptized!  Wooo!  I told him how I knew him and he said that nobody knew how to get to where he lived so that´s where the confusion came from.  So I was happy to see him at least.  While we waited for them to changed after the ordinance we sang hymns.  The conductor didn´t know the tune of "A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief" but decided to sing it anyway.  I forgot the tune myself, as did everyone else in the service, so we kinda just mumbled for 6 minutes.  I couldn´t stop laughing because we sounded so terrible.  If I would have walked in to that baptism and saw a bunch of people whispering/muttering about a poor sad man I would have left more depressed than when I arrived!  Who sings that at a baptism anyway?!  But the hymn has a good message in see.  Just sung very poorly.

Well other than that... I got nothin else!  Hopefully we have a baptism this week and we can help a few other sectors out.  I´m gonna go to Vista Hermosa to meet with an old family I was teaching, Familia Guadalupe, to pump em up and help them get baptized in April. I´ll do my best to work hard this week, find some new people, and have some fun too.  I´m doin good here in Los Chillos and we´re gonna see some miracles these next few weeks!

I love you guys, hope you have a great week, thanks for the support, adios!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Marching On‏

Hey Mom how`s it goin?  DANG!  You almost found the treasure without even looking for it.  And I didn`t understand a word from the old guy`s riddle.  So we`re out of luck.  

Tanner Coombs is goin to Honduras??  He`ll do great there!  Awesome.  Hondureños are crazy.  There´s some guys there who fight each other with machetes.  Well...that happens here too but, still.  It will be cool.  Good for Ty goin off to California.  Makes me want to sing the Eagles. 

I liked the story of the first missionaries.  Part of it made me glad for serving in modern times...and on the equator.  Because wedging through 300 miles of snow is a tough mission.  But they were chosen souls for a reason.

So this week went well, Ariel, Aida, and Maria Luisa were baptized.  In the  picture, the bishop is the other one baptizing.  They`re all family of the recent converts, Familia Cuatin and Familia Abad.  So I`m happy.  We had a family home evening with the two families and the ward mission leader, Hermano Calderon.  It was great seeing all of them together having a good time and making friends in the church.  They`re like my.... church children.  haha I still feel responsible for them and helping them grow up... spiritually that is.

Sadly, Hermana Rosa doesn`t want to investigate anymore and doesn`t want to keep listening.  She said she loved us though.  We said we loved her too.  But it was sad.  We know how much the gospel blesses people but when they don`t want to accept it... it`s painful.

So this week we`ll hopefully have the baptism of Genesis, Cecibel, Carlos, and Erik, four young... people, who`re from the coast.  They`re afraid to be baptized because of what they`re parents will say.   So we`ll see if they can get an answer and have the faith to be baptized.  I hoping for a miracle this week.  Prayer!!

Other than that... it`s been a little cold, raining a lot.  But I`m doing good.  Still working and looking for new people to teach.  The members are good to us here.  I`m tired a lot but work helps with that.  I`m happy at least.

Well that`s all I really have time for today!  I love you mom, hope you have a good week, hope the family is doing well.  Tell everyone I said hi!  Choa.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Here Comes the Sun, Little Darlin‏

Hey my mother, the family is all together again eh?  When`s spring break?  Or is it goin on already.  With 4 inches of snow that doesn`t sound too...springy but it`s cool.

I`m super pumped for Ty`s calling.  I`m gonna paint my face and crack open a Coca Cola for that guy on Thursday.  Tell him he`s gonna be in Guayaquil Norte or he`s goin to the eastern United States.  I don`t know why but hey it`s worth a guess.  

So... a ver..... what do I have to say today?  Hmmm.... this week I did a lot of divisions, had zone leader council, meeting with the stake president and high councilman, aaannddd ran like a mad man to all my appointments. Gad zooks I felt fat sweating like a turkey in oil.  

So we`re hopefully going to have four baptisms this weekend.  A grandmother of a family we baptized, another sweet older lady who´s a widow who`s been trying to find help since her husband died 4 months ago, and another couple.  We visited on Saturday and she said she didn`t want to get baptized. 

"Why?" we asked.  "No reason in particular." she said.  Uuuuhuuuuh.....

So we taught about what happens after we die and about the kingdoms of glory and everything was good.  Then we asked our recent convert (who pretty much said the same thing the day before her baptism) to share her testimony.  Turns out she had prayed the night before the baptism and had received and answer.  Then her son explained how they could be an eternal family.  Then we told her to pray and ask Heavenly Father what she should do.  So she did.  And yesterday she told us that she definitely wants to be baptized.  So WOO!!  

Turns out that they were receiving a lot of ridicule from their other children and their husbands who live just down the street.  Saying how they`re now "hermanitos" and when they walk by they always say "Hallelujah!" or some other weird comment.  They told her that they weren`t gonna visit her anymore, how they feel like they don`t belong anymore, that they don`t have to change religon to stop drinking and so on and so forth.  And that`s painful for a sweet grandma to hear from her children!! So we talked to her about opposition and I told her how crabs always try to bring the rising crab back down. But she`s going to be brave.  I hope we can continue helping her.  I´m thinking it might be good to go visit those other children though...maybe if they knew a little more they wouldn`t be so hateful about everything.

But other than that... I don`t know what else happened!  Just a lot of meetings and trying to help the other sectors that looked like they weren`t going to baptize this month.  Luckily the Lord`s blessed us with people in each sector in the zone.  So we`re gonna see the Miracle of March!!  Woooo!  

And now I`m just working on love.  Working on getting better.  It`s funny how I have so much time on the mission now but I still feel so slow and ignorant.  I guess that`s life though.  The closer we come to God, the more he shows us our weaknesses.  So it`s a good sign I think.

Well mom, take care, say hi to the family, and thanks for helping me with the letters.  I love you alot!  Choa.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Mental Frames in the Hallway of My Life That Lead to the Door of Revelation (haha sounds like a Ghandi/hippie campaign)‏

Hello my mother!  I`m doin alright.  Lots of thinkin this week.  My brain needs a break.  Eh.

Well March sounds like it`s off to a good start.  Basketball, broken noses, and baptisms.  Sounds good to me!  I`m glad Papa is doing well.  I sent a letter for him.  Tell me when you get that big ol envelope by the way.

Anywho, my new companion is Elder Sotomayor de Guayaquil.  He has the same time as me, in fact, I met him when he was in Riobamba and I was in Guaranda.  So that`s cool.  He`s a happy guy who likes to cook (you might have guessed it) rice and chicken intestines.  Yeaaaah man.  Que rico.  I, on the other hand, am eating a different of variety of cereal every morning and night with a bit of Tampico orange juice.  We balance each other out pretty well.

The week went well.  I realized I hardly know the members of the ward because we just worked with our investigators last change.  So my companion asks me who`s who and I just say, "You know as well as I do."  So we got to know some members, contacted a lot of Evangelists (I prefer teaching Catholics), and we have two nice ladies with baptismal date for the 16th.  Rosa, who`s a widow and a reference from the offices, and Maria , the grandma of a Familia.  We also found 4 teenagers from the coast who also accepted baptism for the 23rd, their uncles are members.  

The zone is going through a rough patch.  We had to change the house of the missionaries with the house of the sisters.  There was a dolly (young girl in love with the missionaries) on the second floor of their apartment and I just didn´t feel good about it.  So I was helping them move and then get to know their sector.

AH!  I got to mow a lawn this week!!  Not with a machete, not with scissors, not with a goat, but with a lawn mower!!!  Woooo baby that brought back memories of cutting our lawn and Grandma`s lawn.  But this was a big lawn.  With hills and holes.  So it was interesting.  But man I felt like I was in summer.  The weather, the sun, the lawn mower, tomate de arbol juice, and just feelin good.  When we finished, we all went inside to eat some....(dun dun duh da!) rice and chicken.  Can`t get much better than that.

Speaking of which, did you know that Chinese food is different in every country??  Panda express my rear.  Here it`s....RICE!  With different seasoning and chicken and beef mixed in there.  You put ketchup on it.  It`s pretty sweet.

So to end this nice rambling session up, I love sacrament meeting.  I never really understood it before the mission I don`t think.  It`s a chance to receive inspiration and direction in your lives, it`s a chance to know what we need to improve and how we can follow Christ more honestly, it`s time to really focus on the life of Christ.  Yet sometimes we focus too much on what the other person is wearing today, what the kid in front of us is eating, who`s baby is crying, and or if we like this flavor of bread that they used for the sacrament.  That`s not how it should be.

I thought during the sacrament, "what do I lack?"  What can I do better?  After the sacrament, the thoughts started ringing into my ears, "By this shall men know, if ye are my disciples, if ye have love, one to another."  

I thought of John 13, 34-35, I thought how I`ve failed to really love my companions, my investigators, the missionaries in my zone.  I thought about how I`ve turned into a robot and why I`ve become so lifeless and dull.  It`s because I`m lacking love.  Success isn`t me baptizing tons of people, success isn`t being able to know all the scriptures of Preach My Gospel, success is becoming like Christ and loving Him and my fellow man.  And I haven`t had success yet.  At least not entirely.  Not like the Lord wants.

So I have four months left and I`m determined to save what I can of my mission.  I`m gonna open up this clam of a heart and hopefully have REAL success in the mission.  So that`s what made me just be impacted there in sacrament meeting.  

I love you mom, I`m thankful for all you do, be careful, stay strong, and keep on rockin on.