Hola from Ecuador!
Ahhhh! I love the mission. So as you already know, I´m serving in Ambato with Hermana Pace. This is her last transfer and I am the luckiest missionary in the world to be her companion. Her spanish is perfect, she is obedient, diligent, and is an amazing teacher! I´m so grateful that Heavenly Father knows us perfectly and knows who and what we need exactly when we need it. We are opening our sector here in Pradera which was stressful at first but luckily Hermana Pace served here in February so she´s familiar with the area and the ward. The ward! Oh my goodness the ward is amazing. The members are great here. Always ready and willing to give references or come with us to our lessons. I´m so grateful to be starting my mission here in Ambato. There´s no greater place. This is a place of miracles.
Our trip here was a bit stressful because we had to get our five bags onto the EcoVia. Just look that up on google. It´s a nightmare. But the hardest part was getting our bags from the nurses apartment where we stayed to the bus because of the sidewalks (which I have more to say about later). So we just prayed that we´d be able to make it and Heavenly Father sent us a few angels. So the men here are pretty creepy, and you stay away from them for the most part. However this super nice non creepy man offered to help us and we were able to get on the bus. He was one of about five that helped us that night. It was a bit of an adventure. But Heavenly Father definitely helped and protected us that night. We also met a young woman who is a member who rode the bus with us and let us use her phone since we didn´t have ours yet. So many miracles, and that was just the first night.
So like I said opening the sector was a bit stressful and still is stressful, but we started out the transfer ready and willing to work hard and we´ve found people so ready for the gospel. We´ve had every day planned full of lessons and appointments but we also set really high contacting goals and we´ve managed to accomplish both. Every day we have a lesson fall through but it is always because we need to be doing something else or finding someone else. I wish I could tell you all of the miracles that have happened lately but there would never be enough time.
I´ll tell you about a few of our miracle investigators though since they´re amazing!!!
First off Luis and Elvia. So we met Luis in the street while he was holding his baby and selling gum. We contacted him and he accepted an appointment for the next morning. The next morning, our first appointment fell through with a different contact and we were a bit disappointed about that but we started heading towards Luis´and my companion suggested we do some comp study while we waited for the appointment. However on our way there I felt like we should go straight there. So we went. We got to his apartment and he was there but his wife wasn´t there so we talked outside while we waited. Luckily my companion knows Spanish...turns out him and his wife aren´t married (very common here), they got in a huge fight the night before and she left, they are constantly fighting because they both were unfaithful and had kids with other people, he used to drink a ton, he´s about to lose his house, and many more worse things that I won´t share out of respect for him. But that should give you an idea of how broken this family is. We could tell that they didn´t have any food so we went and bought some bread and yogurt for the little toddler and let him use our phone so he could call his wife. She ended up coming back and we were able to sing their family a song and share our purpose as missionaries and invite them to church. And they came to church!!!! All five of them. It was a crazy three hours trying to control three children all under the age of three with only a tupperware container full of crackers but we did it! And I think Luis really enjoyed it. He is so ready to change his life and save his family and the gospel is exactly what is going to do that. It´s so crazy to think how just the other day he was just a man selling gum on the street. I know we were prompted and led to go contact him.
So we didn´t start contacting doors until yesterday, some of our appointments after church fell through so we needed something to do to pass the time before our English lesson with one of the families in the ward so we started contacting houses. Well we knocked on our first door and no one answered, but there was an older lady outside just a few doors down. I knew we had to talk to her. Didn´t know why but I knew we had to talk to her. Well we contacted her and we could hardly understand her and she could hardly hear us. But she said she was free to be taught right then but that she said we could go to her daughter´s house who lived just around the corner. Her name is Carmen by the way. So Carmen led us to her daughter´s house and her daughter Martha answered and accepted us in. We came in and shared our purpose as missionaries and got to know them a bit more and sang them a song to start the lesson. Side note: so I thought she told us that her husband had died six months ago but it turns out he left her six months ago. And I decided to sing the song Families can be together forever......gotta love my spanish skills. But here´s the miracle!!!! She loved the song! She has two sons and we asked her to think of them as we sang and she absolutely loved it and the spirit was so strong. She was so emotional. Mom you mentioned in your email how powerful songs and hymns are and it´s so true! I have such a strong testimony of that now since we start each lesson with a song. It really allows the spirit to speak to the investigators of the truthfulness of our message. Well long story short we taught Martha the first lesson and she accepted the baptismal invitation and is set to be baptised on the ! Miracles I tell ya! Oh man. The mission is great.
I have to tell you about Cecilia too! So last night we decided to do some house contacting around our neighborhood and we set a bunch of citas (appointments) but we really wanted to teach right then and there. But it was getting late and we were pretty tired. We got to a house at the end of the road and I was so distracted. I was thinking about how we probably wouldn´t get anything from this house and I was already looking around for somewhere else to go.My companion and I were talking about what we had planned for p day and weren´t really focused on what we were doing. Luckily my companion heard a voice from the other side of the door since there wasn´t really a fence (its really hard to explain....its so different here). Well we introduced ourselves to Cecilia who turned out to be a devout Catholic who studied theology for six semesters. However she accepted us since we offered to talk about our beliefs and answer any questions she had about our religion. I have never been so nervous for a lesson in my life. First off I don´t know spanish. And secondly I sure don´t know the Bible as well as she does. But we taught her the first lesson and I got to teach her about Joseph Smith and share the first vision with her and it was an amazing experience. The spirit was so present, and I know she felt it too. I could see her eyes fill with tears. She is struggling right now because her two children who are older and live in different parts of Ecuador don´t really visit her and show her that they care. She didn´t know she was looking for something more but she is so ready for the gospel. I can´t wait to teach her again. It´s going to be hard but I know she is going to be receptive to the gospel. Before we could even invite her to church she asked us where it was! Ahhh! Miracles.
These are only a few of the marvelous things I´ve seen in my time here. The work is hard. It doesn´t take very long to fall asleep at night. We´re working hard and its taking a toll on my body. Like I mentioned earlier the sidewalks aren´t my friend. My ankle is proof of that. We had to take a taxi to one of our appointments the other night because my ankle was swollen and bruised from the rollercoaster ride of the sidewalks here. I was in a ton of pain and I tried to play it off but I couldn´t by the end of the day. I was really discouraged about it. And honestly frustrated. I questioned why it was happening because I had been doing my best and I needed my health to keep helping my investigators. My companion helped me so much to remember that I needed to remind my Heavenly Father that He called me to do this work, that I needed some help, and that I was going to continue working regardless. So I prayed and prayed. I woke up the next morning and my ankle is still a bit swollen, I can still feel some soreness, but it hasn´t stopped me from working since. Complete miracle.
I love the mission. I love Ecuador. I love the gospel of Jesus Christ. And I love the miracles I get to see each and every day.
It isn´t easy, and it takes effort and obedience, but it is ALL worth it. Keep striving to be obedient and read the scriptures! Serve those around you! We´re all brothers and sisters! The trials of this life are all worth it because of the lessons we learn and the individuals we can become through the Atonement of Jesus Christ!
I love you all so much! Thanks for all of the emails and prayers!
Con mucho amor,
PS. So my mission rules changed before I got here and I can email people outside of my family but I don´t have anyone´s email address! Shoot me an email! I´d love to hear how everyone is doing!
PPS. The scripture my Hermana Pace shared with me when I was struggling with my ankle. Prayer is real and Jesus Christ lives! I know it with all of my heart! Mosiah 24:13-15