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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