Monday, August 30, 2010

School Again...

Family and Friends,

Before I start this letter I would like everyone to know just how inept I am when it comes to computers. Last week my companion and I went for our Pday to KM 26 y Boliche to take TONS of photos... We had a blast doing it. I would have sent them in an email to you all last week but the computer in KM 26 did not recognize my camara. I decided to send them to you this week. The computer recognized my camera. I had the pictures... and then I erased all of them... How I don´t know. But that was 3 hours and 74 pictures that just went down the tube. Maybe not down the tube... but it has been confirmed that they no longer exist. I don´t even know how the computer erased them from the camera memory. Computers. Silly things.

My Week: Pictureless.

We are preparing Santiago and his wife Sara for baptism. All they have to do is get married. Santiago has gone to church for over a month now and he loves it. Sara will graduate from Collage in 2 weeks and then she will start going to church. Santiago will be baptised next week, receive the Priesthood and then 3 weeks later he will baptise his wife, mother, and brother. It will be a cool service.

We are also preparing Dario Gonzalez for baptism. He just needs to get married as well. The only problem I have with him... is that he is 35 and his wife-to-be is 15 and pregnant with his baby. O´dear. I guess I am not in the United States anymore. You just kind of go with the flow. She and her family are ok with the marriage. He wants to get baptised... but it always has to be the marriage question that gets in the way. When these two families get married they will make the 5th and 6th families I have married here on the mission (ok, I didn´t marry them, I just talked them into it).

Did I mention I just erased 74 photos and 3 hours of picture taking? I still can´t get over that.

Let me describe the photos I erased to you then...

Your imagination please:

Photo 1: The dark green landscape of Boliche looking off to the south towards purple tinted mountains. Fields and a sugar cane factory off to the left. Misted sky.

Photo 2: Elder Robinson standing under the sign that says, "Boliche" Highway that goes towards KM 26.

Photo 3: Elder Robinson sitting on a dyke as water rushes past. Behind me: a freshly plowed field and a line of trees. Misted sky with a "evening" feel to the shot.

Photo 4: Elder Robinson and Cruz standing on an old wire and metal hanging bridge. The rusted steel mixed with the majestic water below made a photo that would have taken an Oscar Award.

Photo 5. Elder Robinson sitting on a dirt road leading off into a rainforrest like setting. Arms crossed. Large palms and ferns drapping the sides of the photo.



Photo 74: Again Elder Robinson in KM 26 next to a road sign that says: Guayaquil, Milagro, and Naranjito. 3 of my 4 sectors.

Ok. Pitty party over. So is this email.


Elder Robinson

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Monday, August 23, 2010

I´m a Skousen!

Dear Family and Friends,
Shout Out: Skousens! Here in Latin America everyone has four names. Your name never changes. Even when you get married. Women don´t take on the name of their husbands but the children take on both last names of the parents. Technically, if I was a citizen of Ecuador, my name would be: Jeremiah Thomas Robinson Skousen. Anyway. I got this box from mom this week. It didn´t have a ton and it never has to... just to let me know that mom loves me. But the treasure that I found inside... the Skousen Family Reunion shirt. The one that says "Skousen Camp." I was so excited to see grandma and grandpa in front of their cabin that I left the shirt on my desk so I could admire it for 2 days. Then I took a picture of the picture so that if anything happened to the shirt I would have a picture. Call me crazy. But I am a Skousen!
It has been really neat to read everything that takes place at home. Especially with Gale´s family and the Johnsons. It is great to hear that Clint and Mike got the Priesthood and that Mike will be married in the temple in August. Why does everything have to happen while I am gone (oh, I guess things happen while you are gone as well, Elder Robinson II)? Needless to say... coming home in a year will be a thrill... everything will be different.
My Week: The search for a house continues. Maybe we will have one in 2 weeks... maybe we will have one in 4. Most likely it will be an apartment. But we HAVE TO FIND A SOMETHING! I am really tired of the hour long bus rides just to go to work. How can anyone commute to work each morning? Such a boring process. And a waste of time.
Sunday was a thrill. We were "en route" to our usual destination: KM 26, when one of our fellow travelers started yelling at the top of her lungs. Me, asleep, didn´t take note of it at first. Usually people are yelling on the bus and I was tired. When the yelling continued I decided to stir to see if it was anything worth my interest. What I found... was quite worth my time:
Sundays are Party days here in Ecuador. Starting Friday at 5 until Monday at 2am... all of Ecuador is partying, blasting music, and getting high/drunk. The normal worthwhile weekend pursuits. One such poor drugged partier was part of our traveling group to KM 26 when he decided that the woman next to him... or should I say, he came to some conclusions about her. She freaked out and started yelling. She changed seats and slapped him in the face. He, disgraced and drunk, decided to punch her. This is when I awoke. Just in time to watch her take of her shoes and throw them at him... and go all "crazy style cat woman" on him. I was still waking up from my slumber and things were not processing correctly. Our bus had just arrived at a "check point" and everyone on the bus started yelling for the National Police. I love these guys. Cutting to the chase... the yelling and  fighting continued until the National Police boarded the bus and took the man and the woman away quite forcefully. Finally processing... my brain asked, "Que pasó?" my companion told me everything. The bus stood still while everyone chattered joyously at the new gossip material. The man was detained and the woman re boarded the bus to retake her seat. The journey continued...
(side note: I might die in my sleep Sundays in Utah if nothing ever takes place. Ecuador is such a... vivid country. Always.)
... And so did my day. We were politely invited by many of the members in 26 to share dinner with them. We graciously accepted 3. The first was a high-end meal, 3 courses (soup, rice, and fruit) with rice that was slightly reminiscencia of Skousen Casserole. Or should I say: it had everything in it; shrimp, lettuce, potatoes, meat, cheese, spice, nuts, tomatoes, orange, peas, beans... the list continues. I partook and was filled.
The second dinner followed a wonderfully taught lesson to a 13 year old girl that knows the Bible far better than I do. I was corrected that the bible does not register any other prophet talking to the Lord face to face... than just Adam and Moses and only Moses since Adam isn´t considered a prophet for many. I will do my own research on the topic. 13 year old girls who want to be baptised don´t get away that easily. I know the Book of Mormon protects my claim, parts of the New Testament, and I need to clarify my understanding of the Pearl of Great Price.
The third dinner was small and to the point. Mashed potatoes (so rare here!) with a carrot and pea siding. Topped by a Cola-marinated chicken breast. Cup of "Tropical" to top me off. I thought I had finished for the day.
My companion, fresh from the MTC, is timid to say the least. Working on social habits we practiced our door approaches. This consits of me yelling, "Ha Ver!" and then looking at my companion to start the conversations. He said something like this, "HELLO WE ARE THE MISSIONARIES FROM THE CHURCH AND HAVE A MESSAGE CAN WE COME IN!!!" The first response... NO! The 2nd house... "We are the church... the missionaries from the church. We need 10 minutes of your time..." The second response... nope! The 3rd house... "We are the missionaries from the church we have a message. Can we come in." (we are still working on what to say)... the response... "come in Elder´s! I am an inactive member!"
The lesson was quick and to-the-point (unlike this email). We have another appointment with them tonight. We were leaving when we were recalled to receive "Chicken-on-the-stick" and a b-b-q´d banana. Wow. I was really full. The day then came to and end. Por fin!
We are preparing a few people for baptism. The difficulty we have run into: Chastity. If people would just commit to one another and get married... getting baptised would be a very easy process. I constantly need to remind myself that the process to be baptised NEVER should be an easy process otherwise the end result: the baptism, will never mean anything. The more the people have to change to be baptised, the more their baptism is going to mean to them. The more the Lord is going to forgive. The greater relief they are going to feel in their new life. Maybe Satan should mix it up sometimes and target something else than the Chastity questions.
As such I have been studying a ton this week about Virtue. I love the topic. Trying to control your thoughts is something that I need to do. Of coarse I am a missionary... but focusing on the work, on your investigators, and on everything good 100% of the time is something that I could definitely improve. It all starts with your thoughts.
And currently my thoughts are all with you...
on that note. Time to refocus.
I love you all,

Elder Robinson Skousen

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Monday, August 16, 2010

Photo Op

Family and Friends

I haven´t sent pictures home in a long while. I thought you might enjoy.

Picture 1: The Temple of Guayaquil. ¡Que Hermosa!

2 This is probably the most beautiful spot in all of Guayaquil. There are not many vews like this inside of the city. My sector now... has a lot of views like this. I just don´t have pictures of them yet.

3 The bridge I took to leave the city of Guayaquil. I like this bridge.

4 Elder Vuinovic and I enjoying the 4h of July with a cake! GO USA! USA! USA!


Elder Robinson

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Asunto 1: Que Pasó?

Queridos Familiares y Amigos,

This week was another one of those weeks that... just... does... didn´t... flow well. I´m fine. Everyone is fine. But it was a hectic week trying to get everything done. Less see how it all started and ended...

So Changes were last week. As you all well know. I stayed a few days with the Zone Leaders until my companion, Elder Cruz got here from Lima Peru (the MTC) and he is from Quito Ecuador. I picked him up Wednesday in the morning in Guayaquil and then we rode to Milagro and made it halfway through District Meeting. We then dropped his things off at the house and rode to KM 26.

KM 26 is a great place. I enjoy being out in the middle of nowhere. There are lots of people to teach and everyone is willing to listen. It is fun to walk through fields, past fences, up and down highways... all the cool things that come from being in the countryside. Our day always starts at KM 26, but then we have to walk to KM 24, we have an investigator over there that is going to be baptised, then we walk to the KM 26 and up to KM 28 and trying to get to know the sector we then walked up to KM 32ish or 33 (Boliche) where there are a few more members. We then took a bus back to KM 26, walked down do KM 24, and then wandered around until we ended up wherever we wanted to go. We finish every day at about 8:15 because we have to take a bus back to Milagro. A trip of about 40 minutes (sometimes 30 sometimes 60). Its cool to work next to the highway because we can see how far we are walking EVERY day. (for example: the day I just explaned to you we walked about 13-15 KM or 6-9 miles. I personally think it is more... because this just takes into account how much we walked on the highway... not up and down all the side streets). We usually return home tired every night.

But even at night we can´t stop. We have planning at 9:00 and training a companion means that I have to teach something new every day. Easy to do but I often forget to teach things and then when he does something that is not totally correct... then I remember. President Montalti currently has the leaders controlling a lot of the numbers that are flowing around, baptismal dates, interview times, investigator problems... so it usually means that I am on the phone talking with the Zone Leaders or one of the Sectors until 10:15ish. Then I have 5 minutes to take a shower, have companionship prayer, personal prayer and jump into bed. That is if I don´t make an egg. If I make an egg... then I am late to bed.

Thursday we had Zone Conference. We received the call Wednesday night. At 4:00 Wednesday morning we got up, showered, shined shoes, and took an early bus to Guayaquil. At 6:00 we were in Guayaquil and on our way to the Salado Stake Center (the farthest Stake Center from the Terminal) at about 6:40ish our taxi stopped at a stoplight and I thought someone had turned their base up. The car was swaying... and then I noticed the stoplight was swaying as well.... and that the cars next to us were jiggling a bit. I decided not to say anything about it... we all just kind of looked at each other... the taxista changed the radio station and the news announced that Guayaquil had just had an earthquake. We felt the last 10 seconds of it. Being in a car kind of takes away the experience. Apparently it was on the stronger side... waking people up... shaking roofs... and such.

Zone Conference was killer. I learned... something. I think. It was 7ish hours long. Not planned well and most of the time off topic. I got a bad headache and have kind of had one ever since... I have never gotten headaches before in my life.

Running between the sector and the house was a usual joy. We had an interchange with Porvenir II and I enjoyed learning from Elder Lema from Uta Valo (the only missionaries in the world that can have long hair). He is a great teacher. He told me a ton about their culture and lifestyle. He lives in the city... so it was not as indianish as I would have thought... but still a super cool culture.

Sunday we woke up at 6 so we could get to KM 26 and back before church started at 10. We didn´t have any success in bringing anyone to church but it was fun to travel and see Ecuador in the morning. Porvenir is the strongest ward I have EVER seen in Ecuador. The chapel was FULL of people. About 150+. We and the other Elders work in the ward. They are planning a baptismal service for this saturday. 6 people! I have to return home early Tuesday night from KM 26 to do the Baptismal Interviews.

KM 26 is preparing to be a branch. They will break away from Porvenir at the end of this year. Starting this week they are going to have leadership meetings in KM 26 for the Missionary Work. This will save us time to travel back. They are taking the first few steps for separation. It will be a fun process to watch.

I would tell you more about the investigators... but I don´t really know them yet. Santiago Vargas will be baptised the 28th of August. He is amazing. His wife and brother will be baptised in September. His mom should be baptised around the same time.

Sorry this email took on more of an "informative" theme and not a spiritual one. We will end with a spiritual thought:

Thought: In Doctrine and Covenants I was reading the words of Christ as he spoke to some of the early Saints. It struck me as he said that he knows how to succor us through our temptations. Whenever I teach about Christ I always teach about his Atonement, how we can heal, and how we can return to a life of light after a life of sin. But I learned that Christ can succor us in our temptations so we don´t even have to enter the life of sin. It´s something obvious. It´s the little things like this that grab my attention when I read in the mornings. All should read at least for 15 minutes each day. You will learn something. To you I promise.

From the best sector in the world,


Elder Robinson

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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

KM 26 o lo que sea (Provenir 1)

Queridos Faniliares y Amigos,

Estoy aqui en KM 26 terminando mi dia... and as such I don´t have a ton of time. I get to write you today because I received a new missionary and he gets to write home to his family, telling them how he is, where he is, if his flight was fine... minor things. My Trainee is Elder Cruz. He is from Quito Ecuador and is the youngest missionary in the misson. He is 18 and wont turn 19 until next Febuary. He has special permission to be here because he will be attending the University of Utah 2012 in the Fall. So... he needed to enter the mission early. Apperently writing a letter to the 70 and having a good reason does the trick.

KM 26, or La Virgen de Fatima, or Porvenir 1 (my sector has 3 names) is amazing. I feel like I am in Naranjito again! I know I will learn to love it just the same. In fact, I am already in love with it and the people. Country people are SO different from City people. Quite. Calm. Willing to listen. I love them. We live in Milagro... but we have to travel 40 minutes every morning on a really crowded bus to get to our sector... and then we have to finish early every night... to get home to our house. We leave the sector at 8. A time when it would be perfectly perfect to teach. President Montalti told me today to find a new house... in KM 26. It will definitely save some travel time (1.5 hours every day) and money.

The district is great. I am really excited to work with the Elders here in Milagro. It is such a blessing to learn from other people. Watching them make mistakes and then deciding that you are not going to do the same. Here in Milagro I don´t have to watch them make mistakes. They just don´t do it. So I just watch them do amazing things and then I copy. Unimaginitive... I know. But it works. Emulation. Or something like that.

We already have a family that is going to go to church with us! How cool is that! Thanks for all of your support. I have to sign out... got to get back to Milagro.

 Keep praying for the missinaries and all that they do. Not that we do anything. I am fully convinced that the Lord does it all. I just like following where he leads. And when he leads me to KM 26...


Elder Robinson

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