Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Keep Looking for the "Why"

Elder Reynolds and his companion, Elder Villacorta!
Teaching "Chicks" in Ecuador!!!

Wow so this week was another great week! I am so happy that I am companions with Elder Villacorta. It is a privilege to be with him! This is his last change so I feel so privileged that I get to learn from someone that has about 2 years under his belt. It's like a cheat sheet to me! lol Definitely I am still learning humility. He knows so much about the scriptures and about everything gospel related. so we made a deal, that I will help him get jacked physically and the he will help me get jacked spiritually lol.

Our investigators are...interesting haha. We received revelation that here in Santo Domingo the work here is a bit different. Usually in Quito, it is hard to gain new investigators or people that want to listen to us but here it is just about the complete opposite. Everyone wants to listen to us! Which is a good and bad thing! We have so many more investigators that we found this week and I just want to testify that the hand of the Lord is in this work. It is a bit weird and funny but every planning session it is like a mini council where we talk about each investigator and their progression and we make a decision according to the spirit as to work with them or drop them. Man, does it hurt to drop them. After having developed a relationship with a person here and it just hurts to stop visiting them because I know that if we had more missionaries we would be able to spend time with these people! But we know that there are other people prepared for us and that they are just waiting for us! It was a really special experience as my companion was sick this week and I gave him a blessing of healing and it said in the blessing that many people have been waiting for him! I have a true testimony in the power of the priesthood. It is a way to show our humbleness before the Lord and submit ourselves to the will of Him who knows everything. I am definitely growing so much. Unfortunately, that also implies in my stomach...hahaha. The food here is SO good! I don't know what they do different but it is absolutely delicious!

We have had some major changes in the mission as usually we always call our leaders every night to tell them what we did that day and to make sure that we are working and our health is okay. Usually those calls last about 10 minutes but now President Barlow asked us to shorten these calls to about one minute conversation solely about if we are doing good physically and how our emotions are. After the visit from the 70, he said we have a mature mission and that he wants to see more growth individually so he wants us to realize the "why" of everything. The work to me seems so much different now as I realize we aren't doing this work to please the leaders of the mission or President Barlow...to please them with good numbers...but for the real reason which is to bless people's lives with baptism and this wonderful message of hope and a new start to every single person! I always have these duhhh moments in the mission hahaha. I am sorry if I bore you with them but I am a slow learner lol. I love you all and keep pushing forward and looking for the "why" in everything! It changes the perspective and the love we have for the people! Definitely a blessing of God!
Elder Reynolds

We taught a lesson in English this week to a guy from Ghana. The guy is volunteering at an elementary school. It was quite the experience to teach in English! It was literally like I had to translate everything in my head back to English. I was quite frustrated with myself because I couldn't talk fluent English haha!!!

What a privilege it is to serve with Elder Villacorta! I learn so much from him each day!!

P-day at the ZOO!!!

Zoo Adventures :)

A Monkey in the tree!

The Monkey took our football...

...and ate it!!!

The money I spend on water is unreal!

My Book of Mormon ripped, hoping it glues back together!
The mission is great, I have never been happier in my life :)

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Recognize Our Blessings Each Day!

~Missionaries of Santo Domingo~
Elder Reynolds' District
Hello Everyone!
Well, this was the last week of the change (transfers)! So I am going to be staying here and another Elder named Elder Villacorta is going to come! He was my old Zone leader and he is so awesome! He is ending his mission this change so hopefully, I can help him end it with no regrets! Elder Yanqui is going to return to Quito haha. Every single Monday we get an email from President Barlow and it always says how the time is going by fast! How true that is! This week more than any other week I realized really how time is so critical. And how crucial it is for us to use it to the best of our ability. It is weird how every day of the mission is the exact same, yet so so different. It is nice that way because we are constantly being challenged to become something we have never become or even thought to become. 

With the changes, it was interesting to take a step back and look at all that has happened here in Santo Domingo. We have not had a baptism yet and honestly, we were a bit bummed. There are so many people so close to baptism and it is soooo sad to see that people are so close to receiving the most prized blessings in their life. Truly when we as missionaries or as members feel and see the blessings of baptism, we will have a greater desire to share it. I am so grateful for the opportunity to have these blessings all due to the companionship of the spirit.
This week my comp and I studied Patience. Man, I am always so hesitant to study patience haha. It was interesting though because we discussed how probably we are going to be seeing lots of difficulties this week and it made me realize more than ever how these difficulties are blessings in disguise. We ask Heavenly Father for something and really He gives it to us. We just don't recognize it in the way that He gives it to us. I am so grateful for the wisdom of an all-knowing God. To start off our week of patience, our lunch was with soup and crab. ha I never really ate crab at home but eating crab here...requires an adequate amount of patience lol. We just laughed as they brought out the plate of soup and crab and I was just thinking... and so it begins... lol. Along with the lunch, it was truly a week of patience as we realized Halloween here or as they call it,,.Day of the Dead, is where they go visit the cemetery practically the whole week and really the city shuts down. NO ONE was in their house!! It was a vacation for everyone except the missionaries lol. It was extremely hard to do visits, but here we are still alive! We tried our best!
Just wanted to share something that Elder Godoy said in his visit with us that goes along with the blessings in disguise. President Barlow also shared this with us.   Talking about when he was a young missionary, he said, “I loved it when my investigators said they weren’t ready to be baptized because that meant they were understanding what they were learning. They were understanding the importance of that step. We took it as a sign of a truly sincere investigator – it was a wonderful blessing and opportunity to really help a searching soul.” I think sometimes we give up too quickly and consider the response, “I’m not ready” a rejection when, in reality, it’s an invitation to help an investigator through an iceberg or come to realize they really are ready. I thought about this a lot and how we always look at things with a perspective of our own conscience. But really how we should be looking and praying for how Heavenly Father sees it and how we can take it to our advantage! I invite all of us to take a step back and realize all the blessings we have, even if they are in disguise. Things seem to appear a lot happier when we do that! I love you all so much and am so excited to keep up with this amazing life!
Elder Reynolds

A Banana Tree!

L O V I N G  E C U A D O R!!!

Look at this man's shirt!
Elder Reynolds was telling this man that his mom loves Bibendum also known as the Michelin Man,

A family with the COOOOLEST truck lol!

Halloween or Day of the Dead treats!!!

Signs of being a good missionary lol
His scriptures are falling apart! He shares each week how he could spend hours reading the scriptures. 

Monday, October 30, 2017

Personal Revelation!

Elder Reynolds was on the Radio in Ecuador!!
Hello Everyone! 
This week was an awesome week! We hardly had anytime to work though because we were traveling so much! Elder Godoy of the 70 visited us and it was such an amazing experience to have him there. One of the things I learned that I think everyone can learn from is yes we have leaders. and they are SO knowledgeable and helpful to us. But we also have the right to receive revelation for ourselves. Like Joseph Smith said it is the very principle or key to the life after this life. At times we just find ourselves asking questions to other people and although that is good.... we need to develop a relationship with our Father in Heaven and He the very God of the whole universe will teach us through the Holy Ghost! What a privilege we have to have the Holy Ghost. We had two 5-hour bus rides and so as missionaries we were talking about a bunch of questions we have always had about the deep doctrine haha how we are going to ask Elder Godoy to explain them to us but then after the conference we all realized that we can have the answers not from another person, but from the very fountain of knowledge! I am probably sounding a bit crazy right now but it was a moment of aww for me hahah.

Our investigators are struggling right now. They are slowly progressing and man is it hard to just sit back and let them make their own choices. My companion and I discuss after every lesson on what we could've done better and I love that there is always something we can do better. there is no such thing as perfect in this life. We can always strive to get better. I think that's what intrigues me about life. That there is no end. I love the scripture in 2 Nephi where it talks about line upon line precept upon precept. One thing I love to do is finding something I am the worst at, and trying to change it into one of my strengths. I loooove the process. Although it is time consuming and takes a whole lot of patience and work, I love the end product. 

Man am I glad for American volleyball! Today one of the Elders in our district taught us how to play Ecuavolley! It is basically the same rules but with a...SOCCER BALL! Man I thought it hurt at times to play with a volleyball but it hurt sooo bad to play with that thing! haha My arms are so sore already but it was a fun to me lol I love the mission. I am learning something everyday. When we always have goals, life will never pass us by too fast. We will pass by life. Take advantage always of the time we have! I love you all! 
Elder Reynolds

Learning how to play Ecuavolley!!!
Ouch, playing with a soccer ball!

Sharing the great message of Jesus Christ on the radio!

Santo Domingo, Ecuador
Hitchhiking in Ecuador :o

Carl's Jr!

Two 5-hour bus rides to listen to Elder Godoy of the 70!

People were talking about "The Night of Death" and Elder Reynolds was like what the heck are you guys talking about??! So they explained it more to him and he realized it was Halloween!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Always Love God First!

 Baptism in Santo Domingo!
Elder Reynolds was honored to baptize this young man :)
Hello everyone!
This week was another great week to be a missionary. Most of all this week was a week of just pure work and it really went by fast. We have people on date for baptism and we are stoked for them! They are all about our age and I wish I could just shake them and tell them that this is what they have been searching for and this will bless their lives tremendously! haha But as my parents know, I was the exact same way... Darn immature Elder Reynolds haha

Unfortunately this week we had a rough time with some recent converts. They were struggling with lots of problems. As they told us all their problems I was so amazed at their faith. Mainly the faith of the father. It was a bit sad to see the marriage already fighting. Because the mother was totally against the church and blamed everything on the church. But the father remained true.. He was asking us for advice because she asked him, who do you love more...me or God? Wow for a 21 year old to answer that was hard... But as it says in Matthew 22 (I think) that the first and great commandment is to love the Lord thy God with all our heart might mind and strength... And every commandment is based on that.. We read that and he knew the decision he had to make.. Love God more.. even than our spouse. It was so amazing to see his faith in that scripture. And really after this week, we already see the blessings that came because he put God first. Their story is truly amazing because after 10 months of hard work by missionaries, they got married and had their baptism. But almost 2 weeks after their baptism, the father lost his job... It is so easy to question, Why is this happening when we are doing the will of God? Although it is really sad because of course we expect blessings when we make good decisions, but more than that we need to have the faith and the hope. The hope that blessings WILL come, maybe not when we expect them, but when we NEED them. It is interesting because obviously this family is in need of blessings, so why would Heavenly Father not bless him with a job? As we were talking I was learning so much about the plan of our Heavenly Father. How important it is to have the faith in the plan. That in the end everything will work out for our good. Obviously we couldn't tell them the reason as to why all this was happening, but that it was happening for a reason. And in these moments is when our faith increases or decreases. I always loved the phrase in sports, GUT CHECK. When it all comes down to pure will power. Not talent, not skill, purely the will of oneself. But it shows who we truly are in these moments. We are here as humans to be tested. But we have the rest of eternity to enjoy the consequences of our decisions. Always, always love God first...especially in the most difficult moments. He loves us and will always bless us with the best of blessings. I love you all!! Have a great week!
Elder Reynolds

As a District Leader, one of his responsibilities is to interview for baptisms. He never met this young man until his interview with him. He felt a strong connection with him. The young man had been meeting with the missionaries for 4 years and he said it was his time to be baptized! He then asked Elder Reynolds to baptize him! The people in Ecuador have been waiting for Elder Reynolds to serve there!!!

Elder Reynolds looks SO happy!

E X P L O R I N G  E C U A D O R
Santo Domingo
Beautiful place!

Pizza Cone :)

Celebrating life in Ecuador!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Spiritual Experiences while Cleaning!!

These amazing people had a going away party for Elder Reynolds when he left his last area--Ambato. This family is who he has bonded with the most in his mission so saying goodbye was super hard. He made relationships with them that will last a lifetime. They took good care of Elder Reynolds. They said it is impossible to forget people like Elder Reynolds, they loved him very much. We will forever be grateful to the Arias family!

Hello everyone!
This week was a great week, of course full of tender mercies of the Lord each day! We are doing great as a companionship and even though we aren't seeing the results that we want, we realize it is because we are praying for hope haha we are studying hope and charity this week and so we pray for it everyday and although we didn't realize it till the end of this week. Heavenly Father is blessing us with hope!! That in a future moment we will see the fruits of our labors! It was an amazing experience this week because Elder Hicks...one of the missionaries from my former sector is in Santo Domingo and we were talking about old times haha like 9 months ago and he was the missionary that was with me when we were traveling through the rain and how we stood out in the rain for a long time...I forgot how long but we found an investigator all due to the rain! Remember that story?? I hope so... (If you don't, here is the story: So another miracle that happened was it was raining super hard. Hardest I have ever seen it rain here. I thought my umbrella was going to break. But it didn't thank goodness! We were on divisions and I was with another Elder who doesn't have an umbrella so we had to share one. hahaha I bet it looked funny....2 white guys sharing a little umbrella getting soaked. But anyways it was raining super hard. Our appointment fell through so we were stuck outside. We thought hey what better way to access the pity of Ecuador by knocking on their doors and try to share a message on the street so they would just let us in!! So we tried doing that and no one was answering their doors or would look out the window and close the curtains... So we decided to shelter ourselves under a little overhead thing so we wouldn't get too wet. But like I said, since it was raining sideways it didn't help a lot. So we decided to say a prayer that it could stop so that we could work. The rain didn't stop but it did let up and I am pretty sure rain started falling downwards instead of sideways so major blessing! We had another appointment far away and he wanted to contact up there because they never have before. So we took a bus and started knocking doors. About the third door we were standing there for some reason for like 5 minutes. We both were about to leave when a guy came out. We said our opening Hi we are missionaries..... And he let us in! We were able to share the whole first lesson and give him a Book of Mormon! Right when we got in there he said the reason he let us in is because He was praying that he would be guided in the way God wanted him to go. And that's not even the best part! After wards we were wanting to set up an appointment for our next visit and he said he honestly didn't know when because he works from 6 am to 8:30 pm and the only reason he was home today was because the rain was so bad!!!!!!!! We both were like MIRACLE!! I will gladly stand out in the rain soaking wet if it means we were able to find someone to teach! It was pretty amazing. As he said the closing prayer, he said in the prayer that if this is the reason why he was let off work please help him to know this is right. It was a great experience) We didn't have much success with him while we were there.... but he went back for a visit and the guy is preparing to be baptized with his whole family!!! Wow who knew that 9 months or so ago that he would be getting ready to be baptized.... who knew that!! It was amazing to see a fruit of our labors even though we didn't see that fruit till a long time!! It was pretty dang amazing.

So I have another few things that I want to share this day with y'all... haha I don't know why but I had the most spiritual experience... cleaning!! I know right??? I have no idea what or why but as we were cleaning today and listening to music all these things kept coming to me and occurring so I thought I would share them with you all...
1... So we started cleaning... and well for one people can change! Who would've guessed that a macho football player would be cleanly hahaha so yes the first lesson would be people can change!
2... I have always had this question...is there such thing as dirty soap? As missionaries we have to budget pfff well as people in general we have to budget, but as missionaries what 20 year old wants to spend money on cleaning supplies? lol So we were looking around for cleaning supplies and found we think 200 year old soap haha but as we were rinsing it I thought of how we are like the soap... it doesn't matter what we have gone thorough or what we have done, with a little bit of work we are back to new. We always have the capability to do good, we are never ever at the point of useless ... so I answered my own question there is no such thing as dirty soap haha
3... As I was mopping I felt pretty dang good. The floor was nice and sparkling and wet... and right then my moods collapsed as I saw my companion walk across the floor in his dirty shoes and I looked at him and he looked at me... are you kidding me??!! hahahaha As we partake of the sacrament each week how often do we get home and then get impatient because we are hungry and then yell at our brother or sister for stealing the last piece of cake... boom there goes our cleanliness and Heavenly Father is up there.. are you kidding me Elder Reynolds? haha Obviously He is more patient but you get the picture.
4... There is a process in getting clean. We have to sweep the floor before we mop it.. I tried to mop the floor before my companion swept it because I was getting impatient but then obviously that doesn't work out too well.. but I realized its like us...we can't expect to go from dirty to clean ready for the temple and expect immediate blessings. it' a process and if done right, we will become what we need to become...pure and ready to receive all that Heavenly Father has for us.
Who knew cleaning could help a missionary with all these lessons! I love you all! 
Elder Reynolds

Going away party for Elder Reynolds!
"It's impossible to forget people like you. We love you!"

The Arias family, huge hearts and so much love to give :)

Love the people in Ecuador!

Elder Reynolds' last District


Elder Mamani and Elder Reynolds

P-day Adventures!!!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Week full of Miracles!

Santo Domingo is SO beautiful!!
Hey there everyone!
Wow this week was a week full of miracles. One right after another. It is awesome to know that when we are worthy, Heavenly Father is so willing to use us in the best of ways in order to bless the lives of others. As a missionary we are constantly finding ways to be better and serve in a more effective manner. What I love most is that we have a companion! I have learned to trust my companion a ton! haha at first it was because I had too but now it is because I want too. During lessons at times I feel we should take a complete 180 degree turn and go in an opposite direction and then after we talk about it and how he was feeling the exact same way too! We are doing great as a companionship and are learning one from another.

One of the crazy things that happened this week was we were teaching a family about how we need to read the Book of Mormon and if we don't we wont find the answer we are looking for. We testified that if they would read, their lives would be changed because we know this book can change lives. Then that took a wild turn and they started asking about what does it mean to change a life.. Then that is when we had the impression to literally start the lesson all over. So we were about 15 minutes into the lesson and decided that we needed to pray again and in the prayer ask for the spirit to help us see if the book was true. Then after that we waited for what it seemed like an hour haha But then the impression came to us that we were going to read the Book of Mormon together. But then the question came.. What are we going to read? That is when it got a little bit interesting.. haha We literally felt like we were doing a magic trick because after the prayer we waited a bit, then said to take the book and to open it to any random page and there would be the answer they were looking for. As we were saying this I was just praying with all my heart that this would be a Liahona story instead of a fail story that you see in a missionary journal haha So he preceded to open it up to Mosiah 28 verses 2 and 3 where it talks about how the spirit of the Lord worked in them and they were the vilest of sinners.. BOOM!! Miracle! crazy how the spirit works!! We were shocked just as much as they were. The spirit was so strong and they all said they felt something different. It was an amazing experience and one that although was super awesome, isn't sufficient for a true conversion. I know it takes a lot of hard work and constant prayer. I love this gospel and I know we always have and hear these crazy miracles.. But that isn't what changes us truly. It may be a start but what truly changes us is the work we put in and the process as a whole. I love this gospel and especially Jesus Christ allowing us to be partakers of salvation. I love you all! 

Oh another crazy story. we were feeling pretty gutsy today while we decided to go fishing and then as we were digging up worms, decided to eat one of them!! At first it just tasted like dirt.. and then actually when it bursts in your mouth.. that is when it got interesting and hopefully don't get sick from it!! haha But it was a good experience. 
Elder Reynolds

Eating worms...

The people here are so so so friendly! Like you say Hi and right then it sparks up a conversation!

I love this opportunity to serve the Lord!

Pretty cool!

We cut this coconut from a tree, cut it and drank it...pretty cool!!!

P-day Adventures :)