Monday, May 31, 2010

Fences and Barriers

Dear Family and Friends,

My Week: Sorry, I didn't have anyone to  "Shout Out" this week. Forgive me... I will think of one of you for next week. CRAZY WEEK! Were not going to go in order of what happened this week. We will just go as it comes to my head:

     I had an interchange in the Isla Trinitaria this week. If you know anyone from Ecuador... mention "Isla Trinitaria" and they will say "Kill Zone." I was working with Elder Freeman, my Zone Leader, in his sector. They have been having some problems finding people that will actually progress, so I decided that maybe I can help them out. When we started the change everything went great. We spent a ton of time walking around the island and we really didn't have any members to help us out. We taught two lessons about chastity. And then the day ended... really quite boring actually. The last lesson of the night: in the Catholic Church. They had received a reference for the family that takes care of the Catholic Church (or one of the churches) on the Island. The family accepted our visit... and we entered the "Great and Spacious Building." We got a quick tour, they took us up to the rafters, and asked us how we liked their church... Elder Freeman answered, "Great and Spacious." (Though it was a semi pretty building. I personally don't like seeing Christ hanging on the cross, bloody, with Saints hanging from the windows.) We taught a great lesson and they accepted everything we said. I actually thought they sounded more Evangelical than Catholic... I guess they are just catholic by tradition. We ended the lesson and left... after they gave us the second tour of the building... this time with the lights on.

     The Stake Primary had an open house this week at the Stake Center and all the missionaries in the stake were invited to bring investigators and to teach a mini lesson as groups were brought to us. We spent the morning Saturday walking around our area inviting members and investigators. Many of the members agreed to take our investigators... GREAT!!! We stopped by the house to grab a drink of water before leaving for the Isla Trinitaria (that is where the stake center is). I set my keys on the table and my companion put baptismal cloths over my keys. I grabbed a drink, dropped off some books, and looked around for my keys. Not seeing them I decided they must be in my backpack and we walked out the door. When the door shut I opened up my backpack to look for my keys...oops. TIME OUT!

Explanation: We live on the second story of an apartment building. No doors in Ecuador have door nobs... just key holes. You can't open doors unless you have the keys. All doors automatically lock. To enter our building you need keys. There is a 10 foot high fence with barbwire in front of our building... the only way out... the gate that I locked when we entered.

TIME IN! So now we were stuck: Outside of our apartment yet inside of our apartment building. We were the ONLY people in the entire building. So how do we get out? We had to get to the Island to the activity... we have investigators going! Out of ideas... we prayed. After the prayer my companion and I sat outside between the gate and our building hoping that the other missionaries would stop by before the activity... to no avail. We made the best of the situation and started telling jokes. Honestly... How pathetic can you look: two white guys, shirt and tie, sitting outside but locked inside... honestly! After 30 minutes I decided that something had to be done. I started looking for weaknesses in the fence. I will sleep great every night now... the fence is solid metal. No one is going to get in... but we aren't going to get out. I looked at the car port. Hm... it is on wheels and is set in a tract sealed above and below. After much reasoning I decided that we could remove one of the wheels from the bottom tract and crawl through a small hole created. We did it! We removed the wheel from the tract and with lots of effort one missionary can open up a triangular shaped hole so that the other Elder can crawl through.

I sent my companion through first. He is a little... hm... larger than I am. So if he can make it... I will definitely make it. He made it about half way through when he said, "Elder, my butt. It's stuck! Elder!!! ELDER!!! MY BUTT!" This series of comments made me laugh really hard. My companion is not big... but his rear is a little wide. We finally got him through and I squeezed out afterwards. He was SUPER dirty and my plack got scratched up. BUT WE WERE FREE!!! We went to the activity and enjoyed ourselves!

That night we returned with the other Elders and put the wheel back in it's tract. I don't know how we got it out because we had to use a crowbar to put it back in place. Answer: Prayer works... but sometimes you have to go to the extremes.

Chapter 2

I have been working this week with 7 de Septiembre. They have been having some major problems with their Bishop and it was getting to the point that a High Councilor was getting involved. I decided to have 2 interchanges in 7 de Septiembre to find a solution to the problem. I still don't have an answer of how to fix what is going on but I have set up a series of appointments with the bishop and the Elders so that they can plan and work together. I don't want to go into a ton of details... but there are some serious barriers between them and the Bishop. Something that is killer to the Missionary Work.

End Chapter 2

Brief Announcement: I was talking to Sister Johns last week and I mentioned something that Aunt Katrina said to me, about her inlaws, former President and Sister Gabbitas, and Sister Johns told me that the Oro Verde Hotel in Machala (the one that is by the road that leaves to Pasaje and Santa Rosa) still remembers the "Gabbitas" Presidents. Sister Johns was impressed because that was almost 12 years ago. 

Love you all,

Have a great week!

Elder Robinson

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

1 of 2

Family and Friends,
Shout Out: Spencer Robinson. Hey! You! Mister! 1...2...3 Good Morning Teacher! By the time you have time to read this you will only have 23 minutes left on your computer... don´t you just love the rules in the MTC (though the MTC was 2 of the best years of my life).  So that you can read all of this WITHOUT wasting all of your precious time (because I want to receive letters from you) you should print out this email and move on to the rest -OR- you can type in your MTC number again into the computer and change the last digit... not that this gives you unlimited time (I don´t know why it works) but here in the field... I have unlimited time!
I hope your first few days at the MTC have not blown you out of your suit. Get to love the cafeteria food! Wait! You will miss they days when you can drink water from the tap, eat lettuce, pig, sea food, and the likes... WAIT! Your going to GEORGIA! Haha! Never mind, you can eat whatever you want. Keep your head up, and soak up EVERYTHING in the MTC!
My Week:
Elder Vuinovic and I are working as hard as we can so that we can have 5 baptisms this change. In the last week we found 3 new people that BOTH went to church and accepted a baptismal date. We finished the week with 5 dates and of those 5 I believe that 3 will be baptised (12th of June). 2 are from Familia Chavez: Andrea and Renny. Andrea is 14 and Renny is 9. We were walking down one street, one of our appointments had just fallen through, and I saw these two kids so I decided to talk to them. My companion pulled out some American candy from his backpack, gave it to them, and we set up a return appointment. At the 1st appointment we taught lesson 1 and they accepted everything we said. At the 2nd appointment we read together the Book of Mormon and taught them how they can know if the book is true. We told them that they would feel good inside if they asked God in prayer. At the 3rd appointment we followed up with them and asked if they had read... everyone ALWAYS tells us that they have read... and yeah they never do... but here was Renny´s response:
"Yeah, we read together. We read about some guy named Nephi, and he knelt at Christ´s feet and kissed them. Then Christ taught about Baptism. We then prayed together and a voice said to us that the Book of Mormon was true and that Joseph Smith was a Prophet."
BIG SURPRISE! Not only did they read, but they remembered things that people NEVER remember (like Nephi). They then told us how they prayed and how they received an answer. I do not doubt them for one minute that they heard a voice (we did not even tell them that is a way that God can answer prayers, we talked about feelings from the Holy Ghost). Children always receive answers before adults do, because they are so pure and always ask God with real intent, and as these two children were telling me about their experiences... WOW, my companion and I (Elder Estrada, Interchange) flew through the roof. At the 4th appointment we brought the Primary President with us and taught lesson 2.  During the lesson we talked to the parents, received permission to baptise and invited them to Church the next day. They went to church. Loved it. They will be baptised the 12th of June.
Church was a HUGE disappointment this week. I can´t even tell you how many things went wrong. We even had a member give a talk about Christ and he testified 5x that Christ did not die for Everyone... only the chosen elect... Wow. Good thing we don´t have to listen to him every week.
We started teaching a Jehova´s Witness this week. Actually, she is not a JW yet... she has another year of studying to do before they will let her be baptised. We taught her lesson one and helped her understand that God loves everyone and that he never ever has told people they have to wait 2 years, study, and then take a test to be baptised. We helped her understand that everyone can live with God and not only 144,000 and that she can live with her family. She was absolutely delighted. Went to church and she also has a baptismal date for the 12th of June.
Being District Leader is fun. I never thought that people would listen to me AND take me seriously at the same time. I am still Elder Robinson, nothing has changed with me... but now people listen to what I say and how I say it. Kinda cool if you ask me. Though my time is a little strapped between training my companion, interchanges, baptismal interviews, meetings... and whatever else.
The week was just great. Zone Conference was a blast. President Johns gave a stellar testimony (this was his last conference with us) and we are not fully preparing for the new President (President Matalti from Venezuela).
I am still loving it here in Ecuador but if the truth be told... I hope I don´t spend my last year in the City. I don´t know how many times more I can watch people being robbed before I go mad. Or how many more times we have to listen to Gun Shots in the night and watch the police show up 30 minutes late.
But such is Ecuador Guayaquil South!
I love you all,

Elder Robinson

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Monday, May 17, 2010

Chao! Chao! AND One year down!

Family, Friends, and Spencer,

Shout Out: Spencer David Robinson. Which is such an easy name to say seeing as everyone here has 4 names and they are never that easy: Laidie (Lady) Gregorie Villavicencio Torrez (or another crazy name like that). Spencer Robinson will be entering the MTC on the 19th (and I will complete one year on the 20th). Spencer is my amazing little brother that always made a great punching bag. I especially enjoyed the fact that I could blame him for everything and my mom NEVER believed me... how does she know these things? Spencer was the puny little guy that had seizures and mom had to blow on his face to make him better. I do remember when I broke his arm and then I lied to mom and dad by telling them his arm hit my head... I really can´t remember what happened... but his arm really did not hit my head. Once Spencer finally found what he was good at (swimming) I could no longer beat him up. He became more muscle than man*. So I did what I liked most and would just run away when he was ready to beat me up. To defend myself from his righteous anger I decided to learn Ju-Jit-Su...

I always called Spencer my Padowan because he always wanted to do what I was doing. But as it always turned out... I always wanted to do what he was doing. Now as he is preparing, in his final hours, for his mission I can honestly say that he is far more prepared than I or anyone I have ever known was or will be. This spiritual giant of a man has been such a great example to me over the years, has viciously shunned sin, and keeps himself always to a rigorous schedule. What can I say more than what has been said and done by him? Nothing! God speed!

My Week: Well. Maybe being District Leader is a little different than I thought it would be. I still don´t have a ton of time between meetings, my sector, and trying to train my companion... but I have enough to live. I had an interchange with Elder Poma from the Island this week. I sent my companion to the Island to spend a day with Elder Solares. Elder Poma and I had a great interchange and I learned a ton from him. He is a great teacher and even though he is one the larger side... his heart is just as big. Maybe being District Leader will give me more opportunities to learn from other people like Elder Poma.

Elder Vuinovic is doing just great. He is a little worried about the cleanliness of many things... but I hope that passes in the next few weeks. I truly have forgotten what truly "clean" is and will have to be dragged out of the Airport in Salt Lake before I start eating beans and rice off the floor. Learning from him is another great opportunity I have as well. He has such a "Greene Fire" and he wants to talk to everyone. Sometimes I have to remind him that we can´t talk to everyone but we can definitely set some return appointments.

Unfortunately this week... I learned that my mission has been extended... by one week! This means I will either come home the last few days of May 2011 or the beginning of June 2011. Crazy! This all has to do with the changes in the MTC´s. The Columbia MTC will be shut down in the next few years and ALL missionaries that will serve in Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela will be sent to Peru (Americans as well). With all the changes coming up... all the missions were extended by one week this change... and that throws my return date by a week. But all in all that should give me enough time to find and baptise another child of God (that is my purpose right?).

Today we went to go visit the Lighthouse (Faro), the Waterfront (Malecone), and the Iguana Park (Parque de los Iguanas). We had a fun time. I hope my companion learned a little bit more about the city. I got bit by an iguana... and maybe we should watch the iguana for the next week. Just to make sure it does not have rabies. Guayaquil rocks!

That´s my life.

Or part of the story.

Stay tuned.

Elder Robinson

*Quote from Star Wars: "Darth Vader: He is more machine than man..."

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

New Elder

Family and "Those other people,"
I get to write today because my companion gets to write today (he is a little new).
Hoy dia he recibido mi compañero nuevo Elder Vuinovic de Sacramento California. Sé que su nombre es... hm... Today I received my new companion Elder Vuinovic from Sacramento California. I know that his name is a little odd... but as I understand it his Ancestors are from Russia or another Vodka loving country like such.
Life is moving at a normal speed. I had time to plan my next seven weeks (this change has 1 extra week because there are going to be changes in the Foreign MTC´s) and I don´t know when I am going to be in my sector between all the Interchanges and Planning Sessions I have to go to. This week I have a Leadership Meeting with President Johns and then I will go to the Isla Trinitaria to have an Interchange with Elder Poma. That should be fun... I hope my companion does not get lost. Next week we have Zone Conference and I will be having another interchange with 7 de Septiembre.
Life is absolutely great! I just have to figure out how to fit everything in. I am really learning how to use it´s best possible use (between working with a New Elder, planning lessons, preparing investigators, teaching recent converts, working with the Bishop, and jumping between sectors and the Zone Leaders). My district set a goal to have 21 baptisms this change!! That will be a huge feat...seeing as how there are only 4 sectors and 8 missionaries. Pray hard for us to find the people that are ready for baptism and the gospel. This District is going to need all of Heaven´s help if I am going to lead it and we are going to complete with this amazingly high goal.
Here as always. I will report again next Monday.
That is all-

Elder Robinson

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Monday, May 10, 2010

Independencia in "Fotos"

Family and Friends,


1. The Zone (I spy... Elder Robinson!!!)
2. The Temple
3. Here is the Answer to Picture 1: Elder Robinson!!!
4. White Night!!!
5. Elder Saldaña

"No sé...creek creek..."

Family and Friends, Lost and Found, Here and There,

Shout Out: Yeah!!! Cambios!!! The best time of year (or every six weeks) so this Shout Out goes to Cambios!!! (Changes!!!)

Shout Out 2: Family!!! I got to talk to all of you yesterday for Mother´s Day. And by everyone: Everyone but Ann. I will see what I can do, maybe I can squeeze in a call... but don´t hold your breath (like I saw Mary and Abram can do). Thanks for the Amazing Support that each of you are for me. It is a comfort to know that there are people at home who still love me and that... hey, even if we are separated by 4000 miles... we will be together forever!

Cambio 7 Numeros:
Lessons Taught: 130
Investigators in Church: 24
New Investigators: 57 (the goal was 60)
Baptisms: 4

My Week:

So it was another crazy week like normal. I think only 3 or 4 people died in my sector this week which should be seen as a huge improvement! We put together the baptisms for Enrique Bermeo and for Karelys Terranova. The Baptism was absolutely wonderful and we even joined up with 7 de Septiembre so that we would have 3 baptisms at once. (Photo 2: My converts this change: Hno. Jacinto Bermeo, Karelys Terranova, Lupe Bermeo, and Enrique Bermeo (in order)).

I was working this week with Elder Saldaña. He is an absolutely amazing missionery and he knows our sector perfectly. I learned a ton from him and will try to work in everything he taught me about the people he worked with when he was here. He has now been sent to Machala and was super excited to go (he thought he would never serve outside of Guayaquil again). I was sad to see him go... but CHANGES!!! (Photo 3: Elder Robinson, Saldaña, and John Baqui)

Last night the Zone Leaders called us to give us the Changes. We were told that Elder Saldaña would be leaving and that Elder Balcone would be leaving as well. After listening to Elder Balcone´s protests for another 10 minutes the Assistants called to inform me that I would be training again!!! YEAH! TRAINING! My current companions are Elders Estrada and Elder Tobar.

On our way to the Terminal this morning (The Bus Terminal where we have a huge group meeting to know where we are going) we were running a bit late. We where almost to the terminal when.... BOOOM!!! A car a little bit ahead of us burst into flame! Maybe my mission is a little to exciting: Murder, robbings, threats, and cars blowing up in the street. No one was hurt AND I got some cool photos! Needless to say we were late for the meeting. (First Photo: Car that blew up!)

At the meeting Elder Balcone left, we helped Elder Johnson find his way to his bus to Machala (Lider de Zona), waited for Elder Estrada, and found out that I am the new District Leader! I am super excited for this new task. I really have no clue what I have to do, but I am confident that whatever it is... I can do it. I have some extra help and I don´t know of a District Leader that has died as of yet.

Needless to say... I am stoked for this next change!

I have thought a ton this week about prayer. Anyway, I have been trying to think of ways that I can make prayer more personal... to make it feel like that I am actually talking to someone. Anyway, I had someone ask me how we could make prayer more personal and it has given me a TON of things to think about. I have my answers, but I am now curious... how to you all make your prayers personal? Send me your responses.

Love you all! I will send another email filled with pictures!

Elder Robinson

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Monday, May 3, 2010

The Great Juggling Event...response from Christy

Elder Robinson-
Do you realize how much you have grown this last year?  Bilingual is only a part of it!! (I am bilingual too!  I speak English and Hyrum-ese.)  I love reading about how you are doing and what you are working on!  You amaze me!  Please continue to stay safe and work hard.  You are doing a WONDERFUL job.  I promise not to slam any doors or windows on you when you get home.  I love you so much!
PS- I'll send you more when I write the sister email later this week.  Right now I have to hurry and get things ready for Dad and Spencer (and Mom) to come help me tonight.  I have a LOT of projects I can't do alone- and I'm trying to get them all prepped and ready so I can send dad and Spencer from one project to the next!  Poor Spencer- I think we've (mostly Mom, Dad, and Grandpa) been making use of slave labor before he leaves in two-ish weeks.  He sure has been helpful though!

The Great Juggling Event

Family and Friends,

Shout Out: I really don´t know who to give a shout out to, so I will give it to all of the companions that I have had this change:

Elder Dyer: Ogden Utah
Elder Tobar: Chile
Elder Balcone: Argentina
Elder Saldaña: Peru

My week/change: The change has been an honest mess. I have jumped between 4 companions, tried to keep my sector alive, received new assignments (with a new companion), had 2 baptisms, and am currently planning 2 more, watched as my program fell apart, dropped countless families, and have probably had the door (or the window as the case is here in Guayaquil) shut in my face more than in any other sector.

I don´t really know how but everything is still working out just fine. Even with all the little bumps and thrills that have been thrown in my way I am still kicking and will make it to the end of this week (end of the change). At the end of this week I will once again switch companions (or that is how we understand it) and everything will be back to normal, or as normal as life is as a missionary.

This week I have been trying to get caught up in my reading of the Bible and the Book of Mormon. I had a goal to finish the Book of Mormon (for the second time) and the New Testament before May 20th. But... I think I will move that goal to June 20th. I have learned a ton from the Bible. I didn´t realize how much truth was actually hidden inside those pages. Now as I read I can see how so many people have gotten confused, changed religions, or created their own churches. But I still have to ask myself how did they all go so wrong? As I read I can easily point out the things that are OBVIOUSLY important and the doctrines and teachings that other churches lack. How did they all go so wrong? I don´t know. I guess this is my own little journey to love the Bible and Book of Mormon more.

Next Stop: Pearl of Great Price

My day is full of tons of things to do and so little time to do it. My companion does not have any shirts, he had an emergency change from Cuenca and does not think he will see his cloths again. We will stop by the Bahia after haircuts. We have to make invitations for the baptisms this Saturday and then we have to buy food and find something fun to do (por favor, este dia es dia de preparacion (y diversion :) ).

One Super Bright Note: During District Meeting this week the topic was: Language Study. I am the only American in my District and the District Leader was talking about how we need to study English. And then he mentioned that we all have to do it alone because the only Native English Speaker is Elder Robinson. I paused...what! In this past week I had forgotten that I am a Native English Speaker! I am officially Bi-lingual! It was a nice boost to my confidence. I didn´t even realize that Elder Balcone was speaking in Spanish.

And so we go again.

Love you all,

Elder Robinson

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