Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Transferred with one Eye and leaving "The Companion of the Year!"

A week and a half ago, we received a phone call from Ecuador. That's the worse call a parent can get while you have a child serving a mission there!!!! It was President Barlow, Elder Reynolds' mission president. The first thing he said is "Elder Reynolds is ok." That was comforting! He informed us that Elder Reynolds needed eye surgery and he needed our permission to have the surgery there in Quito. They recommended doing it there instead of sending him home because they have senior couple missionaries who serve there and he is a retired doctor. Elder Jones was able to diagnose his condition and thought it would be better to take care of it right away. He checked out the hospital and Ophthalmologist and felt comfortable with him and the facilities. We knew of his eye condition months ago but over time was getting worse. So we granted permission placing total faith in the Lord!!! We knew he would be in the Lord's hands. 

Here is the letter from Elder Jones which will explains his eye condition:
Elder Reynolds is growing a ptyergium on his right lateral sclera or the white of the eyes. It is abnormal but not serious overgrowth of conjuctival tissue that covers the surface of all exposed eyeball and lids. These are not uncommon but most won't get them. They tend to grow slowly but can increase with irritation from rubbing, wind, dryness, infection etc. They are usually only a problem if they grow too broad and involve the cornea or clear dome on the front of the eye. Left untreated they can literally grow over the entire eye and block vision. Elder Reynolds ptyergium is growing onto his cornea and he feels like he has a foreign body in his eye all the time. We have a very good, well qualified Ophthalmologist, Dr. Armando Sandoval, who I believe trained in the U.S. He can do this superficial surface surgery in his operating suite and he will graft eh repair with top of eyeball conjuctiva which are doesn't tend to ever grow ptyergiums so Elder Reynolds should not get a recurrence which is common with simple removal and closure. He would be patched for one day and with care could be back on the job of missionary work the second or third day. This common straight forward procedure can be scheduled as soon as cleared.
Elder G. Jones MMA
Here is Elder Reynolds' letter to everyone:
So I am alive!!! haha So I will try to make this as vivid as possible lol. I am typing right now with my eye patch now so I am not sure how good this will sound. It's crazy how much you take for granted all the little things. Who knew that sight was so important!?! So 2 weeks ago, I had a doctor's appointment to see how my eye was doing. Hoping that it was doing better and that thing wasn't growing. But as in all cool stories, it didn't turn out as planned. The doctor told me I was going to need surgery and started going into what was going to happen and I am not going to lie, I was pretty freaked out...but Elder Jones is a doctor himself so he was telling me it would be a simple surgery and nothing would go wrong. Then President Barlow got involved and it became a 3-way calling spree as everyone was trying to get all the information right haha because Elder Jones can't speak Spanish so he was using his somewhat knowledge of eyes to explain all of this. So after getting permission from the parents...thankfully haha...Monday we scheduled the surgery for Tuesday the next day!! We went to stay up north with the secretaries of the mission so that everything would be tranquilo (quiet). My surgery was at 9:00 am and so we showed up and the funniest thing happened. My companion woke up in the middle of the night because he slept with his contacts in and tried to take them out and it ended up ripping in his eye so he was in a lot of pain and we were up from like 1:00 to 4:00 in the morning talking haha because who actually sleeps before surgery?? The next day Elder Mooney's eye was super red. We showed up to the clinic and it looked like he was the one having the surgery due to the redness and irritation in his eye. As you can see in the pictures lol. So as we were waiting, good ole Elder Jones started telling us stories about how surgeries went bad. They were pretty interesting stories...just not the stuff you want to hear right before you go into surgery. Finally after enduring through those stories I was called to go up to the surgery floor. Phew just in time lol I got to change into the surgery scrubs and I had flashbacks to the time I got my shoulder surgery haha. It was nice having those things back on. I went to lay in a bed waiting...patiently...haha for them to roll me in. Every 2 minutes they would come and put drops in my eye that were suppose to numb it but as those who know me, I am horrible with that stuff. So they just squirted a bunch of that stuff and it would pool up so when I did open my eye, it would go in. I can only imagine they were thinking, man this is going to be an interesting surgery. But as they wheeled me in that is when I wish I didn't know Spanish because the nurses were arguing a bit and that's not what you want in a stressful situation. Then was the time that they had to get my eye all situated to put the anesthetics in and start the surgery. It was at that point when I realized "what have I gotten myself into?" I saw the needle and was pretty shaky lol. It's crazy how much they rely on the patient to work with them because without the patients help, the doctor could do nothing! I made sure not to move after realizing all of that. Luckily like anything else, it was a small pinch but did have some pain to it, considering it was in the eye. Then they put my eyelids into some weird mechanism so that it couldn't shut. That was pretty freaky not being able to shut my eye no matter how hard I tried. But then the hard part was over, they started going at it. The weirdest part of it all was I was completely conscious of all that was going on and again I wish I didn't know Spanish because as they were going from instrument to instrument...scissors, scalpel, tweezers, laser, flame thrower thing ha...and also the occasional umm oops ha. I wanted to be like "just kidding, I was kidding I don't need the surgery, got you guys see you later, bye." hahaha But honestly this was one of the most surreal experiences of my life. As they were doing whatever they were doing, blood was running over my eye and everything went red. It was like when you die on Call of Duty and the screen goes red lol. What was weird is I could sometimes focus on what they were doing but sometimes not. One time I made the accident of looking at what they were doing as they were about to cut my eye a bit more and the doctor simply replied, "please don't do that, I don't want to cut your eye in half." lol you know just regular surgery precautions. So what actually happened as they explained it to me, is they cut the ptyergium out of my eye and then cut a portion of the top part of my eye and brought it down to replace the eye part they cut out and grafted it in with stitches...12 stitches they ended up doing!!! And then after about 45 minutes they started the clean up process. If you remember Toy Story when that weird old guy, Al, was cleaning up Woody to ship him off...that was how they did it. They got a q-tip and rubbed it over my eye and I was laughing just thinking about how I was like Woody getting all buttered up to be shipped off lol!!! Overall it was a crazy experience and to my surprise it didn't hurt too much as I originally thought! I didn't realize that the surgery was the easiest part of all of this. Then I went back down to get all the medicines and cool Willy Wonka glasses and then started the 24 plus hours of blindness. Elder Mooney with his own portion of problems with his eye was leading me to every which way...we fulfilled the scripture about the blind leading the blind!! haha But man after the good ole anesthetics wore off...man was it miserable. Probably the worse pain I have ever had to endure. It was itchy, sensitive, pulsating, headache, just everything was hurting me. It felt like I had super bad allergies and nothing would make it go away and one of the worse things about being blind besides the fact of being blind is knowing that there is light...but you can't see it. I don't know how many panic attacks I had...wanting to rip off the patches because it felt like I was in outer darkness, traveling was scary and also in the middle of the night....ooooooo man was it freaky. Do not want to do that again haha, but now for the entertaining part....I just want to do a special shout-out to Elder Mooney before I tell all of this...he is pretty dang cool to be able to put up with me and as I tell these things, you can all see how full of charity he is! haha I didn't realize that without your sight one wouldn't be able to eat...so for the day and a half I was being spoon fed by Elder Mooney. Not knowing what he was putting into my mouth and just him painting a word picture for me to imagine it haha. Him guiding me everywhere I went...and...going to the bathroom. Oh man, so apparently it's harder to aim when you can't see what you are aiming at hahaha. Thankfully we were prepared with cleaning supplies and Elder Mooney was filled with a charitable heart as I missed more than a few times haha. We ended up getting pretty good at it towards the end as he would tell me to go forward or to the right or the left and then aim and fire! Companionship unity award, am I right?? It was so funny hearing him saying "Dude, what did you do??! There is a pee everywhere!!! How did you not just feel and hear that you weren't hitting the center! This is so disgusting. It smells like pee everywhere gosh dangit." hahahahahahahaha Man I could only laugh and feel sorry at the same time. So after a day of this the doctor took off the patches and man was it good to see light again!!! About a minute after enjoying light into my life again, I realized how hard it was to focus and to see. It was like I had to train myself to see again! lol I don't know if it was more miserable not being able to see light or being able to see light but feeling the sutures in my eye...man it's been a long week of sitting in the house, listening to talks over and over again, and just talking to my comp. We were pretty bored. Now I am still getting used to seeing again along with 5 drops of 2 solutions every day and the recovery phase continues. I thank you so much for your prayers. It was a rough week but I couldn't imagine it without the help from above...I love you all so much! Thank you so much, I am alive and well...still recovering but with ganas to seguir adalente (desire to continue ahead)! ha and if you are thinking about eye surgery...don't read this lol.
Elder Reynolds

He said he is not able to write much so if you didn't get a response from him, that is why! This weekend was also transfers and he is being transferred to Puyo...the jungle part of Ecuador! Which is 4.5 hours south of Quito. He appreciates your prayers and has felt them throughout the week. We are thankful for the surgery going well. It's been a worrisome week as we have waited to hear from him. Elder Jones sent these pictures to us, following the surgery. 

Elder Reynolds and Dr. Sandoval post op
His cool Willy Wonka glasses and relieved it's over!!!
Missionary pirate for a day!
The Blind leading the Blind!
Hand fed by his loving companion, Elder Mooney! He was glad his fast was over!
Companionship Unity Award--Elder Mooney and Elder Reynolds!!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

A Baptism in Chillogallo!!!

It was very cold and rainy,
but how can you not feel warmth with the spiritual high that a baptism brings??!!
Hello Everyone,
This week was a very special week. We had a baptism!!!! Not going to lie, it feels like a while since we have had a baptism in this sector...I love the power of the spirit. It was a special experience to witness another sister of mine enter into a covenant with Heavenly Father. The more I teach baptism, the more I realize it's not something that brings us blessings...it's something that we NEED! And when we realize that need, there is nothing that is too much to sacrifice in order to get it. I love how Heavenly Father is not a God of blind faith, rather a God of line upon line, precept upon precept kind of God.

Bertha is an amazing story! She started off as any other investigator letting us in, probably because we can speak Spanish and we aren't from here haha. She accepted the Book of Mormon right away, but didn't really take anything seriously. She went to church every so often, and kept progressing little by little. The thing I love most is her love for the Book of Mormon. She actually is moving to Spain next week so it is kind of weird to think that she got baptized her last week here in Ecuador. In fact, we were planning to send the referral to Spain so she can get baptized there and get to know her ward in that manner but we were at church and the topic of the Gospel Principles class was about the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. We were talking about how it is literally impossible to get back to God without this sacrifice. Without Jesus Christ, it is absolutely impossible. The teacher then proceeded to talk about the importance of baptism and that is how we show God we are thankful for the atoning sacrifice and actually gain real access to the powers and blessings. She raised her hand and said "I am moving to Spain but I was wondering if it would be better to be baptized here so that I can go with the surety of this promise." Of course we stood up and were like please come this way and we will start filling up the font hahaha. But it was amazing as it clicked! Everything that we had taught over these couple of months clicked in that moment. That it isn't just a want...it's a need and a want!! Her baptismal service was very special. Very cold and rainy but how can you not feel warmth with the spiritual high that a baptism brings??!!

We also had the great opportunity to have a meeting with Elder Montoya. He came through the mission on errand to talk about Ministering, which was what the whole conference was about. Really becoming true disciples of our Savior Jesus Christ. I love a quote by him "Ministering will never be forgotten." And then he shared a special story about when Elder Renlund came to Ecuador after the earthquake and he was given an hour or so to give a talk to the people to lift their spirits. But rather than talking, he got up and told the congregation that he will be hugging every single person there instead of talking to them. So for over an hour he got to know them and hugged every single member there. That was powerful to me as I can only imagine how the congregation must have felt...so special. It has motivated me to continue to focus one by one...Ministering will never be forgotten. I love this work. I am so happy to be apart of it! I love you all! Have a great week and always remember to serve!
Elder Reynolds
Quito Ecuador
Elder Reynolds, Bertha and Elder Mooney
Ministering will never be forgotten!!!
Chapel in Chillogallo Quito Ecuador
~Elders of Ecuador~
Their apartment!
They sleep in their winter coats because it's so cold at night. Elder Reynolds invested his money and bought a heater. It's in the 40's with 100% humidity...burrrr
We got this!
"And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!"
Doctrine and Covenants 18:15

Monday, April 9, 2018

A Baptism this Week!!

"There are lives to Brighten
There are hearts to Touch
There are souls to Save"
~President Thomas S. Monson~
Hello Everyone!
This week passed by super fast. We had a lot of meetings and things on our schedule this week. Everyday was crazy. From zone meetings to divisions to losing phones...everything was crammed into this little week of ours. We really realized the importance of planning and time management. Unfortunately we learned the hard way lol. I love a quote that is in our mission manual that says "Time is one of the most precious means that Heavenly Father has given us." Sorry for that horrible translation...but it is so true. We can be agents to act, or agents to be acted upon. I love agency! Even though at times it can be our downfall, it is why we are here. I love a quote by Elder Oaks that says "Personal decision making is one of the sources of growth we are meant to experience in mortality."

So one of my favorite things I learned in General Conference is about repentance and forgiveness. I love the talk by Elder Robbins that talked about repentance...going failure to failure without losing enthusiasm. That talk has motivated me so much. Just thinking about how this life we are meant to fail, meant to lose a few times, but in the end we will come out stronger and more perfect than before.

Elder Mooney and I are having a great time together. We joke around a lot but also work hard. He is a great missionary with so many great qualities...And then came the fast haha. Not going to lie, it was a hard Sunday. But God sure does answer prayers. We started our fast later than usual and so we went without lunch on Sunday. Man oh man, that was a hard day. I am pretty sure we contacted one of the hardest parts of our sector because those people were...not too friendly haha but one of the things I loved about the day was the ability to recognize God's hand in our lives. We were both pretty short tempered and it was hard to get along haha, but as we kept on talking things through and realizing our own pride, we had a successful hard working day. They say it gets easier when you are married right? haha We actually talked about that and how we are never going to fast with our wives...just kidding. I love the fast. I love the opportunity to put aside the natural man and show not only Heavenly Father, but myself that I can control myself. And in turn as always, He blesses us with more than we deserve.

We are going to have a baptism this week too!! We are pretty pumped for that. her name is Bertha. She has been an investigator for awhile and she is so converted. It is amazing to see her conversion. That is probably one of my favorite things to watch here on the mission...the change in people. That change is so powerful. It's crazy to think how much God is involved in our lives when we take a step back. It is so much easier to see it in other people and thankfully I get a front row seat to all of that!! I know that God loves us. I am so grateful to be a representative of His son Jesus Christ. At times it is hard, but one of my favorite quotes is...the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. I love you all. I hope you have a great week and continue to cling to the iron rod!
Elder Reynolds
Emailing time!! I love MONDAYS!
LOVE his smile :)

Friday, April 6, 2018

Serving through LOVE!

67,049 Missionaries and one of them is mine!!!
Hello Everyone!
Don't have much time to email today but what more can I say after a General Conference like that??!! I love how at the end President Nelson saved the best for last...waiting and waiting until he announced a temple to be built in Russia!! How cool is that! I love the signs of the times. I love that we are in the last days and the Lord is hastening His work. I love the testimony that I have and the opportunity to build it more and more each day. It is a privilege to be living in our day. I can't imagine living in the dark ages without any guide and with our own wisdom. Although at times it seems we default to our own wisdom thinking that we know better than an all knowing God.

An all encompassing them that I got out of General Conference is serving through LOVE and gaining our own testimony/revelation. Now that I think about it, the prophets over time have slowly implemented things to help us be more self sufficient. Not demanding of us because its our duty, rather for the love that we have of our Father in Heaven. Over the course of the short mission I have been on, I learned that love is the most powerful motivator we have. It's so easy as a missionary to pull out scriptures either proving people wrong or having people look at the blessings in order to comply with commandments. Or putting a fear in people saying that if you don't get baptized, you will go....down there!! But as I have learned, none of those things will ever amount to a real change with the driving force of love. Where there isn't love, there is no change. I love that quote. When people can feel our love, they will have the greatest motivator we know to mankind. I love you all!! I hope we can all find a bigger capacity to love rather than take the easier road.
Elder Reynolds
The Gringo Room!
Watching General Conference:)
a Smile, a Wave, a Kind Comment, a Compliment, Sacrifice, Service and Selflessness
This Loving, thoughtful missionary of mine sent this sweet note and beautiful flowers on my birthday!! What a huge surprise!!!
He found where his haircut origin comes from hahahaha!!
As I have LOVED you,
LOVE one another.
This new commandment:
LOVE one another.
By this shall men know
Ye are my disciples,
If ye have LOVE
One to another.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Completely Exhausted, but Super Happy!!!!

LOVE LOVE LOVE this picture!!!
Hello Everyone!
Another great week that flew by! We had splits with other Elders from our zone and we are super tired. I don't know what it is about divisions but they take a lot of energy out of you...But it's all good!

The thing that I learned about this work is it's always just enough. It's never more or less. It's always sufficient. When I get home at night, we get home super tired and drained and we have just enough energy to fill out a few things and call some people and then to the bed we go. It's hard to understand that principle sometimes. I wish I could have more but that's just my pride lol. I had a pretty cool experience about this principle I learned. We were on divisions and we had set some inspired goals. We were to find 2 news that day and put 2 with a baptismal date...FOR THE MINIMUM. We felt it was a great goal and we prayed and thought it was a great goal too. So we went at it. Of course, as always, appointments started falling and it made us contact a lot. We first found the family that we were going to put a date on and they accepted! It was an awesome lesson. Although pretty short, it was really good. After that I am pretty sure we had one more lesson but then just tried to find people the rest of the day. In a usual day we have around 15 contacts. We almost had 40!! It was getting pretty late, I think it was 8 pm and there my natural man started getting the best of me. It was cold, raining a bit and there was no one in the street and I was beat. My comp was like "Are you okay?" I said "Yeah! Why?" He said "You look like you just ran a marathon." haha What a nice companion lol. But we said a prayer and we went looking for those 2 people that were prepared. At 8:30 we contacted this farm looking house by yelling to see if anyone was home. An old man came out and as I prepared for the worst, he said "Hold on." He came to the door and let us in. He started telling us that he had listened to previous missionaries and they gave him some sort of book. He went looking for the book and found it! We looked at the old worn out Book of Mormon and there it had the names of two Elders and a date of 1997!! I just thought to myself, wow...how long has this guy been waiting??! We had a great lesson explaining what this book was and we have high hopes for him. We went back home completely exhausted but super happy. We met the goals of barely having 2 with a baptismal date and 2 news. I was hoping for 5 or 6 to impress the other Elder haha...there's my pride again! But like always, Heavenly Father always comes through. Sufficient as always. No more no less. After all we can do, it's always enough.

Just a quick funny store. In the pictures you will see the difference between authentic Columbian cooking and then two gringo Elders cooking. One of our lunches was with these recent converts and we made Arepas. They were super good. We were trying to learn all of it and for the most part we did! Then about two days later our lunch appointment fell and we cooked for ourselves. As you can see, we are getting the hang of cooking...hahahahahaha who knew tuna, eggs, cream cheese, onions and tortillas could be so good!! lol The mission...surviving with the sufficient. I love you all! Have a super great week!
Elder Reynolds
Cooking Arepas with a recent convert...super good!!
Authentic Columbian Cooking!
learning to cook!
We are getting the hang of cooking...tuna, eggs, cream cheese, onions and tortillas!
Normal day in Ecuador...cloudy, rain and flooding!
Elder Mansell and Elder Reynolds
More cooking!
The Mission is so EGGciting!
Families Can Be Together Forever :)
Elder Reynolds and Elder Mooney
Zone Leaders-Chillogallo
"And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for it they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them."  Ether 12:27
Elder Reynolds' favorite scripture
Completely Exhausted, but Super Happy!!!