Family and Friends,
Sorry I was unable to write yesterday. Sunday night the Zone Leaders called to tell us that we would be changing our P-day this week to Tuesday. The work is really starting to fly! I feel like there are a MILLION I need to do... and another MILLION things I could say. Alas there is not time to do another million things in Ecuador nor do I have time to say a million things in one email. So here are 4 basics:
1. The Temple
The Temple was the highlight of today. When one lives in a city of poverty, sin, confusion, and garbage... time call take its toll. At 4:45 this morning my companion and I woke up to get ready to go to the temple. My companion showered first and I showered second... until the water stopped running. My companion kindly brought me the pot of water I had boiled the night before (for drinking purposes) so that I could wash off the soap from my body. The shower took FAR longer than it should have. We were late in leaving for the temple and we had to take a taxi to arrive to the session on time.
Just showing up to the temple calmed all my worldly fears. I love the Temple! Here in Guayaquil the temple stands in the midst of 2 hills and a mountain. It sits on its own hill rising slightly over the city. The grounds are absolutely amazing and the interior is even more amazing. I totally forgot where I was. The session taught me a lot. We then had a meeting with the Mission President in the basement. After 6 hours in the temple we finished off the visit eating lunch in the cafeteria. I know the gospel is true just with how happy the temple makes me feel. My physical and spiritual batteries were recharged and I am ready to work again.
2. Alvaro Franco
We are preparing Alvaro Franco to be baptised next week. He is a 17 year old street kid. He started playing soccer with the Young Men when he was 15 and listened to the lessons shortly there after. Alvaro never received permission from his parents to be baptised... until now. The last month has been hectic trying to find and teach him. Last week he asked me for a shirt and pants so that he could go to church properly. I gave him one of my long sleeved shirts and one of my brown slacks thinking that they were never going to fit him (me being a tall American and he being an average sized Ecuadorian). When he showed up to church on Sunday he had modified my pants to fit him length wise and the long sleeve shirt had the sleeves folded some 2-3 times. He looked great. I am glad that I wont be needing those clothes anymore and that they can now serve another purpose.
We are planning his baptism for next week. He is excited to receive the priesthood, serve with the young men, and eventually go on a mission. Finding and teaching people like Alvaro is what makes all the hard days in the mission worth it.
3. Journal Writing
Last night I decided to reread some of my journal entries from the first months of my mission. I thought it interesting to see how I had changed over the last two years. Unfortunately, I was able to see how when I started the mission I had the "greene fire" and that over the course of the mission the "fire" had been lost. The plus(es) of reading my journal: My Spanish has gotten a million times better and my ability to connect with the people. Writing in a journal each night has become one of my greatest treasures from the mission. I will always be grateful for the memories and experiences that are forgotten in my head but written in my journal.
In the next week and a half we will be having another 4-5 baptisms. We are really going to end the month of May off strong. Portete is such an amazing place, hard at times, but in the end everything is going to work out fine. This is why we go on missions: to baptise. There are millions of people in this city. Tens of thousands of them are good people. However, each of them, no matter how good they are, are under the heavy burden of sin. None of them has ever been forgiven of their sins and they all need what we have. Everyone needs the Atonement in their lives and the only key that unlocks Christ´s Redeeming power lies in the Holy Priesthood and the ordinances of Baptism and the Confirmation. How blessed are we, the missionaries, to help each and every single one of them attain such miraculous blessings. Really there are no words to describe the joy that one feels when one helps another change their life and baptize one´s self in the True Church.
I have more to say... but there really is no more time to say it.
I love you.
I love this work!