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 :)

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The Book of Mormon, a one-size fits all book!

Elder Yanqui and Elder Reynolds
~Santo Domingo~
Hello everyone! 
So I am in a new sector it is called Santo Domingo. My companions name is Elder Yanqui he is from Peru. He has a lot of time in the mission and I am sooo lucky to be his companion. Just from the week that we have been together I have learned so much from him. He is a great example about enduring to the end. We work hard everyday. Although our situation is a bit difficult because we are getting to know another sector because the missionaries that were there were taken out and now we are in charge of that sector. It is crazy because probably if we took a bus from the sides of our sectors it would take 3 and a half to 4 hours! We are constantly traveling and constantly trying to be better. Although it is so stressful, we feel the spirit strong in our planning sessions in order to plan for the people that need us. I love that Heavenly Father is so willing to help us out if we ask Him. This is His work and man I can say that this is my glory too. I love bringing the word of God and really the fount of happiness to the good people of Ecuador.

If I am being honest this was a hard week. We left on Tuesday to travel to our new sectors and I had to leave the relationships that I had made with the members and investigators in Ambato. it was literally like another farewell. It is crazy the amount of love and the huge hearts the people here have. Just in weeks we make relationships with these people that will last a lifetime. It was hard to work and at times I just wanted to take a bus back to Ambato because it felt like home there. The city, the people, just everything. I never thought I would be so sad about leaving a sector haha Don't judge me about how emotional I am.... lol But like always the perfect remedy for everything is working. So that is exactly what we did. We were constantly trying to talk to people and keep our minds occupied so that we can focus solely on the work. I can testify it works. Just like when Jesus Christ was suffering in Gethsemane, it says that He prayed even more intensely. In the very moment He was suffering the most pain anyone can possibly feel, He decided to pray MORE intensely. Not give up or distance himself from the pain, but to read the scriptures more intensely, attend church more intensely, pray with more faith... all these tools we have are here for us in these moments. And always in these moments that we have it seems our first reaction or decision is to throw away all these things.. How crazy are we to think that!! Why would we distance ourselves from a God that knows all? A God that above all wants the absolute best for us? I know it seems so simple now, but when the time comes to actually show it.. We will see who we love most or what we love most. I definitely have so much to work on. 

I absolutely loved General Conference too! How lucky we are to have that every 6 months!! Man its literally like God is talking in these Conferences... oh wait He is!! Through the apostles we have the counsel of God. If He were here, he would've said the same exact things. How cool is that promise? I love this gospel. I know it is true. I know the Book of Mormon can answer every single question or doubt that we have. It is amazing this book we have. So so amazing that it is perfect. A one size fits all book! I love you all so dearly. Apply the things we learned and be better than yesterday!
Elder Reynolds

He said the food is way better!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Transferred to Santo Domingo!!

Goodbye Ambato!
Hello Everyone!
Well this week was changes (transfers) and it's my turn to go to the coast! I am pretty excited because every missionary here longs to go to where I will be at. Its called Santo Domingo. For me personally I don't like the heat but I want to get to know all area of Ecuador so I got the city, now I am going to the coast, and I only lack the Oriente! Although I can't lie I am going to miss this ward a lot... ALOT. Especially one family named Family Arias. They are literally like my family here. When we are sick they are always there to help us, they always are so supportive of the work, and just have this special love for us missionaries. The changes have changed so we receive the calls as to where we are going Sunday night, then we have P-day free, and then Tuesday morning we leave. It used to be we receive them Sunday night and then leave the very next morning bright and early. So it was nice because we spent most of the day with their boys and we are going to have dinner with them a little later on. It is a bit hard because I know there will be crying involved and it kills me. ha But its all apart of the mission. Like the hymn goes, "Ill go where you want me to go dear Lord!!"

This week was a hard week. I don't know what about it but always the weeks right when we leave are the hardest weeks. Its like all the investigators don't want to listen to us and we have no success. Elder Mamani was the motor this week and it was so amazing to see that. At times I felt like I don't know how I am going to make it through these next few lessons, but with his enthusiasm and with the spirit so strongly in the lessons it was amazing to see the change in myself. The change in attitude and the change in spirit. I loved the opportunity to fast this past weekend. I love that Heavenly Father gives us these trials so that we can become what He wants us to become. Part of the reason why this week was so hard is we found one of the investigators making bad decisios (decisions) We found him and he was with his cousins doing not very good stuff. Although I was a little mad at him, I did realize that I have developed a love for him. Because I just felt this love and longing for him to make the right decisions not for the reason that we can get another baptism and have good numbers, but for the fact that I know with a surety that this gospel is the fuente (source) of happiness. It was the first time in the mission I cried over an investigator. But it helped me realize how Heavenly Father must feel when we make the wrong decisions. Especially ESPECIALLY me! But I will never ever lose the hope. Never. It was a tender mercy also to see that other investigators that we are teaching attend church.. At the beginning of sacrament meeting, there was no one and we can't lie we were really discouraged. But 2 minutes past and some of our Menos activos (less actives) walked in, 5 minutes passed and some investigators walked in, 10 minutes and more investigators!! Tender mercies of the Lord... He will always comfort us. I love this work. It has brung brang (Elder Reynolds is losing his English!!!) haha me closer to God. My relationship with him is real and so strong. He lives. I know it with all my heart. Our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are real beings. And they are there for us in whatever phase in life we are in. I love you all! Bring a question to General Conference!! What a privilege we have!!! I love you! 
Elder Reynolds

P-day Adventures!

Volcano Quilotoa
It is a water-filled caldera and the most western volcano in the Ecuadorian Andes.
Elevation: 12,841
Last Eruption: 1280
Location: Pujili Canton, Cotopaxi Province, Ecuador

Elder Reynolds and Elder Wilson

Exploring Ecuador

Brotherly Love

Wow, these Elders are tall!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Stake Conference filled our little Chapel!

Hello everyone!
I am sorry but this one is going to be a short one! This week was a great week because we had Stake Conference and Zone Conference! Even though I love the work, I love when the leaders of the church get to talk to us and we get to listen. What a blessing! I love how here in Ecuador they put so much emphasis in the conferences! They make flyers and they talk about them for weeks and weeks in advance! It just showed me that it is all really about the mindset we have when we go into things. Talking about spiritual or about temporal things. When we know or are excited to experience this specific meeting or something like that, we will always get so much more out of it because of our mindset.. it is that simple!!

The topic of the conferences was mainly about obedience. But not about obedience for blessings, rather about obedience because we love our Heavenly Father. They were all telling stories about how when the kids are unusually nice it is because something they want or something happened.. haha how true that is!! It is the same with our Heavenly Father. No doubt there is always promised blessings that come when we obey an commandment. But that shouldn't be the sole purpose of following the commandments. Mas que todo (more than anything) it is because we love Him. Truly love Him. It was also a really crazy conference because we had over 800 people in our little chapel! haha crazy stuff! Because usually there is something like 100 people and it felt a little squished! But it was nice being a big group of saints being there because we love HIM!

Our investigators are doing good. Abraham didn't get confirmed a member of the church the last Sunday because of Stake Conference so he is going to get confirmed this next Sunday. He is super excited for it! It is amazing to see the change in his rostro (face). It is amazing to see first hand the power of the atonement in one's life. 

We visited an awesome volcano this Monday called quilotoa! It is a Laguna but it used to be a volcano!! WWAAAYYYY cool. We had to get up at 4:30 to goooo.. but it was well worth it!! Last Monday we went to a waterfall that is called pailon del diablo! Look it up on YouTube because pictures don't do the work to see the majesty of it!!!

The mission is going great. When we truly discover the why of all things, we see so much more and are motivated to not only resist temptation, but alejarnos (get away) from it too! As far away as we can get. This is an awesome work we are in. I love you!
Elder Reynolds

Doesn't he look so happy???!!!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Baptism of Abraham!

Abraham's Baptism
September 9, 2017
Hello everyone!!
this week was a great one! We had our first baptism as a companionship this change and we couldn't be happier! It is such a blessing to be a part of the conversion process of oneself. Abraham is such a great guy and has made some major changes in his life and it is simply amazing to see the progress and the testimony he has over these months that we have taught him. It just shows that anyone can change that is willing to change. We simply just need a desire to change and the Lord will help us. Obviously its not going to be easy but I know that if we are truly willing to do it all for the Lord, He will bless us with things that we didn't think were possible to accomplish. One of my most favorite things about a baptism of a convert is hearing their testimony afterwards. Abraham was telling us that he loves this gospel and he truly has felt a change in his life and he feels something different about himself. He said when he came up out of the water he really felt like a new man. I can testify that that is exactly the reason for baptism. The opportunity to start new again even though we may have many years under our belt. What an opportunity!!!! What a blessing it is!! And every week we have the same exact opportunity when we take the santa cena  (Holy dinner/sacrament). We are so underserving but surely our Heavenly Father loves us soooo much. I am so humbled to be apart of this great work. That really was the best thing ever to see Abraham make this covenant with our Heavenly Father. 

This week was also full of much more experiences. Unfortunately this week was also filled with heartache with other famileis (families).. It absolutely kills me to drop someone.. We are thinking about doing that because we don't see any progress and man that is the absolute worst!! Ugh... But I have felt more of a love for the people here. Seeing the change in others and in my life makes it hard to let people make their own decisions. But agency is what we fought for before this life! I feel like a parent having these feelings of letting people go do their own thing and just left with my companion to be sad together hahah I was telling my companion that and we just laughed because it is kind of true... I love all of you so much. Keep at it. Never give up! A testimony is so fragile. Never let temptation get the bet of us. I love you!
Elder Reynolds

Ambato Zone Conference
"We will be the Lord's Missionaries to bring the world His truth"
~Army of Helaman

P-day Adventures

Friday, September 8, 2017

Another great week...Another Baptism!!!

We are in the 4th Quarter!!! Give it all you got!
Hello everyone!
This week was another great week to be a missionary! Elder Mamani and I are finally getting better so we are having more desires to serve. Elder Mamani is such a great example to me. Even though he only has 3 months in the mission, he is so mature and so ready to serve with me! We are doing great. At times I find myself with a lot of pride, but the antidote to pride always is serving. It is sometimes hard to bite my tongue and just serve haha but it is always the best outcome.
Our investigators are doing just great! We are going to have another baptism this weekend!! His name is Abraham. He is doing awesome with all the things we have committed him with. I can testify of the importance of goals in our lives. As a missionary, we always center our lessons around the compromisos (commitments) that we are going to leave with the investigators. For example, we always ask the question, "What do we want from this visit?" "What do we want the investigators to do from this visit?" And then we plan from there. It is so effective when we plan this way because at times it is easy to just give a lesson. But I feel like we are really teaching people instead of lessons. We can feel a difference in our planning session now. The spirit truly directs us and it is quite clear what we are supposed to teach that day with that person. This was the case with Abraham. He wasn't keeping his compromisos (commitments) and we were thinking about dropping him but we started little with reading just a verse a day. And from there his conversion process started. And this week he is getting baptized!! Man how beautiful the spirit is when someone is willing to listen and submit him or herself to the promptings of the spirit. 

We had an activity from la obra misional (missionary work) this Saturday! We planned to have a presentation in a park near the church of the plan of salvation. it was kind of awfully planned haha because all of Friday we were preparing with our mission leader to get all the things done. I felt like I was in high school again! Scrambling to do everything last minute! ha But it was a great success. How beautiful it really was to explain the plan of salvation to those who didn't know. It was so awesome because the people would just go on a question rant and ask us "why" and I love that this gospel can answer every question!!! The true gospel has no secrets. I love how Heavenly Father wants us to ask questions because He wants us to know more and more !! It was funny because the members of the ward were acting as us as to find and invite people to come to the presentation. They were SO SO SO uncomfortable at the beginning, but by the end they were so excited!! They got bit by the missionary bug! 

This work is true. At times it is hard but like Elder Holland said "salvation is not a cheap experience!" I love you all! Keep at it. We are in the 4th quarter! Give it all you got!
Elder Reynolds

Elder Reynolds loving Ecuador!

Making it snow in Ecuador...with Styrofoam!

Love these missionaries of Ecuador!

Preparing for the Ward Missionary activity!!!!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Yearning for the Gift of Charity!

My little English student :)
Hello everyone!
This week was another struggle for us. I have no idea why, but it seems to be always my turn to be sick! Both my companion and I have been coping with a cold and a cough. It is a little funny because both of our voices are so deep. We feel like we are a little intimidating when contacting because of that haha This week was a good week. Unfortunately we didn't have many investigators that are attending church. We do have one that is attending church but due to things in his life he cant get baptized right now.. It is so heartbreaking to see him do all the things in the church and members and the bishop asking him are you baptized? And him replying "no".... Man if only he could make a few little decisions and sacrifices in his life he can enter in to the waters of baptism! He attends every Sunday and he is always so excited to learn a little bit more in our visits. We also have another investigator that is progressing but has a bit of a drinking problem... We have been working with him for 2 months and it is amazing the progress he has made! But unfortunately he went out with friends Sunday night and he may or may not still have a date for baptism... we will see... But these 2 investigators really mean so much to us. As a missionary, more than ever I think I see and feel a little bit how our Savior feels about us. When we don't do the things we are supposed to it truly hurts inside. Because we know what it feels like on the other side. On the other side meaning being a member. Even though it hurts to see people not make the sacrifices necessary, I am super humbled that I have the opportunity to see the people how Jesus Christ sees them. I have been praying for this gift of the Spirit and this week I have felt it more than ever. Serving people is hard! But we do it because we love them.

 I was reading in the Bible in the parable about the workers in the vineyard and how they all received the same wages. But it was interesting because I read it along with the help of "Jesus the Christ" and it brought a whole different light to the parable. The first workers it says in the scriptures actually say that the workers and the boss worked out an agreement saying that this is the amount they are going to receive... But the other workers without hesitation were called to the work and didn't barter on how much they were going to receive. It asked a question about the work of the Lord.. or missionary work. What are we working for? Are we working for our recompensa (reward) or blessings that we are going to receive or are we working because we actually love the work, the boss, and are so grateful that we have this work?? Every week my love is building for those I serve here in Ecuador. Sometimes it is hard but I know that this gospel can benefit them in a way that no other thing in this life can compare. It is truly amazing how simple the gospel is, yet how much blessings we receive if we only sacrifice a little bit.

I pray that we can all find a love for those we serve around us. I yearn for the gift of charity. What a beautiful gift it is. I pray that we can all have this gift so that when Jesus comes again, we will see each other as equals. (Sorry I don't know the scripture in English so that is a rough translation of it haha) I love you all! Have a superb week! 
Elder Reynolds 

A part in our sector that I feel is the real Ecuador!!


Every week my love is building for those I serve here in Ecuador!

Making Empanadas!

Developing cooking skills!

Our barber is pretty legit, but she cut my hair a little short!