Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Donuts are my Weakness...

P-day Adventures in Quito!

Hello everyone!
Well this week compared to last week wasn't so spectacular.... Having a baptism is a real high and its hard to stay up there! lol But we do have another person on date for baptism next week! We actually scheduled him for this weekend but we totally forgot it was General Conference so it was kind of embarrassing that we had to change the date... But its all good because he is strong and is super excited to get baptized! His name is Gustavo. He just moved from Venezuela with his daughter and his wife should be arriving in Ecuador here in a week or so. We are hoping to get the whole family baptized!! I love when teaching investigators they just light up when you recite the First Vision to them. No matter what you are experiencing in life, that special experience always makes you feel like the world isn't that bad of a place after all. I love when it is my turn to recite The Fist Vision because every time it is so special. Such a testimony builder every time. I think that's what I love about the gospel most, is that it is never ending. You can learn so much from it and never get bored of it. Luckily, Elder Jacobs and I are starting to click while we teach. We do a lot of role plays in our companionship study and it helps me a ton. I thought the role playing technique was totally dumb, but it helps! You feel so weird doing it the first few times.... But it helps! Practice makes perfect! Even though I still don't know a lot of Spanish, somehow our investigators and the people we teach understand me. I am so grateful for the spirit. Without it I would not be able to communicate with the people we come in contact with. We are getting better at contacting people too. Well I am haha Elder Jacobs already knows how. It kind of sucks that the only way to get better at something is you just have to do it! It is crazy because I am leading the lessons now! Well not really leading, just starting off and trying to talk more and more. 

We didn't have any crazy stories this week. Just another week in the life of a missionary. Waking up at 6:30 and being tired all day! haha For some reason it seems I am always tired out here! I don't know why I am because I have been living off of less sleep before the mission... hmmmm Oh well, some things just don't make sense. I can almost compare this to the construction job I had before the mission. At the end of the day you are always completely exhausted, but it feels good to know that you did some quality work. That's how I feel every night. This work is hard, but like I have said it is so worth it. The language is still coming.......sooo...ever so slowly. It seems I have hit a stand still in learning more and more each day. Instead it's like I have spurts. One day I can understand a lot and the next I have no idea what I am saying or the other person is saying. Oh something interesting happened kind of... A new donut shop opened up in our sector. I must say Ecuadorians definitely know how to make bread...but on the pastry side of things they need to learn some stuff haha But we ended up trying them last p-day annnnnnd yeah they got it right this time. It's so bad because the donuts make you feel like you have diabetes.....but they are soooo good! ha I am having a real hard time with self control... And it sucks because it is on the way to most of our appointments!! My companion already has probably knocked off 20 years worth of his life eating them... I probably knocked off 5 to 10 years.... hahaha The donuts are actually the first food that has really tempted me out here! But so far its all good, I still fit into my pants.... haha Saying that after a week. But we walked a ton this week! Its good because Gustavo lives on a crazy huge hill so every time we visit him we burn off about 1000 calories. It has been raining almost everyday too! Usually its off and on throughout a day but this week it has been a steady stream of rain! So it kinda sucks a little because nothing dries here!!! It is humid so wet just stays wet! haha experiences of the mission.

So I'm sorry this isn't too much to read.... I hope something crazy happens next week. I love you all!! Hang in there! Life is too short to not have fun!
Elder Reynolds

Two random big white balls and I had to climb it!

Presidential palace where the President lives.

We ran into our Mission President!

A virgin statue

Monday, March 20, 2017

First Baptism--Cold, wet, late...but warmed by the Spirit!

His First Baptism!

Hello Everyone!
So we did successfully have our first baptism!! It was fantastic!! It was a little weird to me how we go through so much effort and so much teaching and time to do such a simple act. Me and my comp were talking about that and how we have been teaching Esteven for I think 3 months now and how our whole purpose is to do one ordinance that takes like a minute. ha (It isn't our whole purpose but that is the best way we can bring people to Christ) But the scripture came to mind that "by small and simple means are great things brought to pass." The gospel truths and principles really are simple when you think about it! It definitely isn't easy though I will be the first to say that. But It is definitely worth it. It was so nice to finally see an investigator progress from knowing not much about Jesus Christ to being baptized as a member of the Church!! So the whole baptism story is pretty crazy... It was Thursday and we realized that we had a baptism date on Saturday, but the family hadn't given us a time to do the baptism!! So we went to visit them that night and got all the things sorted out. It was schedule for 7 pm. We also realized he hadn't picked anyone to baptize him! So we asked who he wanted and he said me!!! I was so excited and so humbled at the same time!! Of course I said yes and thank you for the opportunity!! So Saturday finally came and we started filling up the font at 4:30 because I guess it takes forever to fill it up. We turned on the water and the water heater so the water wouldn't be freezing. Then we left to do other things and visit one other person. We live by a member and we were leaving our house around 6:40 to head to the church. And she said that the font was empty and they just started filling it up!!! We kinda didn't believe her...But we ran to the church to see what was going on and sure enough the font had about a foot of water...... Our hearts dropped! I could not believe it!! And all the members were freaking out! ha Like the end of the world was about to happen! We didn't know what we did wrong, and explained that to people but it didn't really matter at that point... So we were thinking of ways of how we could make the time go faster... So we figured out that if you turn off the water heater it would fill up faster. We asked Esteven if that was alright that the water would be cold. He said yes. It was about 7:30 now and the font was filling up but it wasn't going to be done in a timely manner. So a long story short, we found a hose and hooked it up to the outside faucet and ran it through a window of the church and turned it on full blast.. Needless to say it filled up a lot faster!!! ha So the baptismal service didn't start till 830! Our curfew was at 9:00! So the talks were a little on the short side... And a note to self.... bring an extra shirt!!! haha I figured out after the baptism when we were changing that I was wearing my only long sleeve shirt I had! That is not a nice realization. Esteven was wearing my backup... So I was wet for the rest of the service ha But it was an amazing experience for me and for Esteven. Nothing can compare to the experience of hugging a newly baptized member of the church in freezing cold water, both of you wet, and just smiling. Luckily the spirit was strong so that warmed us up a bit! haha It was a great experience. I have a testimony that this work is the greatest work that can be done on the Earth. Our whole mission here is to prepare for the next life. I love the fact that I get to serve our Master for 2 years and after a whole life time. The only way to true happiness is through the Atonement. Humbling ourselves and submitting our will to our Father in Heaven. This mission has definitely not been the easiest, but the reward is far more than I can imagine. Truly serving others can bring us closer to our Heavenly Father. I love you all!
Elder Reynolds

Monday, March 13, 2017

Hard Work Paying Off

Bus Selfie
These buses can get really crowded!! Other than walking, this is their main source of transportation.

Hello everyone!!!
This week was full of ups and downs! But all good. My Spanish is really starting to come along so that really excites me. I am excited to finally start making relationships with people! haha Nothing against my companion, he is a great companion, but it will be nice to talk to someone else. WE try to talk to each other in Spanish in the street but one of two things happens, either one of us gets tired of it and the patience goes out the window, or we don't really talk at all haha. But we are trying! That counts for something right?? It was a cool experience this week because I did my first bartering! I think that is how you spell it... But I was buying some strawberries and they were 1 dollar, that is kind of expensive (especially on a missionary budget) ha So I started trying to talk to them in my broken Spanish about who I am and what I am doing in Ecuador. Then I was about to walk away and they were like we will give you 2 for 1.80. And I was like how about 1.50 for 2? And they said okay! lol Now that I think about it, it kinda seems like they did it because I was a missionary... But I am going to take that as a win for Elder Reynolds. Elder Reynolds 1.... Ecuador 0. 

We have our first baptism this weekend!!!!! His name is Esteven. He is a 13 year old boy who his sister was a convert just this past January. We have been teaching him ever since I got sent to this sector. He doesn't really pay attention and take things seriously. But we really tried to focus in on him on our lessons. It was kinda odd to because he wanted to be like us someday (a missionary) but didn't want to get baptized haha. So one time this week we were on divisions and I went with another Elder. We totally focused the lesson on him and asked him directly about 3 times if he would follow the example of the Savior and be baptized... He is quite shy and doesn't like people focusing in on him. I honestly don't like silence either but I learned this week that silence is our best friend as missionaries! As we were silent and asked him the last time, you could see him opening up and said yes and started talking about how he knew it was true!!!!! So lesson learned! Be quiet! haha That is hard for me because I love talking! But I am so excited for him! And that he may serve a mission makes me even that much more excited. He really is a sweet spirit and the ward befriended his family quite well. It was interesting to me also that other missionaries do the baptismal interview. It makes me want to be that much more worthy because if I ever do it that is a big responsibility! To listen to the spirit and discern whether or not the investigator should wait or give them the go ahead! It is quite cool though how the spirit works and how powerful it is if we are worthy of it. It can be with us anywhere anytime of the day. I am especially grateful for the spirit as I have experienced the Gift of Tongues almost everyday. I know without the spirit I would not be able to pick up this language. 

Although this language is hard for me... It was a humbling moment.... For p-day we usually go to the mall so we can buy groceries in bulk and we ran into some members. I have no idea where they were from but they said Hey elders! I was like Hey I understand that language! haha But I guess they were in Ecuador for a service thing and they were members. They both spoke Spanish and asked me how my Spanish was and I said not very good.. Then she told me... Well at least you don't have to learn a new alphabet....! I was like oh great she is going to hit me with some crazy language and make me look super dumb that I couldn't even grasp Spanish. So yes she said she served in Russia and had to learn that language. I was like okay bye.... No haha I was very impressed because she was fluent in 3 languages! I cant even be fluent in English! haha 

This week has been better than most on my mission mainly because of the upcoming baptism. I have gotten so excited to teach him because I know that he is getting baptized. Now I know why they say teach everyone with the same motivation as to if they already agreed to baptism. Because for sure we taught differently and tried our hardest each time we taught. So another lesson learned! But it feels so good to have hard work paid off! It will eventually pay off, we don't know when, but it will. That is Gods promise to us always. I love you all!!
Elder Reynolds

What the heck Ecuador...random staircase leading to nowhere!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

What does God want me to learn from this?

First time eating cow stomach!

This week was definitely a lot better than last week! Feeling better but definitely not 100% yet. Oh well, no one ever said it was going to be easy! I talked to the Mission President this week because we had little meetings and told him what I was going through and he was really caring, but compared my mission to the Lord, our Saviors mission. So of course I was totally shut down and humbled. I don't know if I told that story before but it happened again haha It is true though, we don't know the extent of what the Savior went through so who are we to say, woe is me. Although the trials we go through are hard no doubt. But because of what the Savior went through, we can overcome it!! And we don't have to do it alone! Thank goodness!

We have another person on baptism for next week! We went on divisions this week, where Elder Jacobs goes to another sector and I stay in our sector while the district leader comes and proselytes with me for a whole day. A whole day of Spanish! Not bad I must say. I knew a lot more than I thought! It was complicated though when I didn't understand something coming from the investigator... Because the other Elder didn't speak much English so he couldn't translate it for me. But other than that it was great! So now Elder Jacobs and I are speaking more Spanish in the street. Although it is bad to say... I think the mission will be a lot more enjoyable once the language comes! But I am trying to enjoy it now. We can serve people even if we cant talk to them directly. It is a different kind of service because I am a people person and like to make relationships with them. But gotta find a way to win! -Coach Bradley haha But yes we have another person on date for baptism!!! And this one is almost for sure. He has been coming with his family for about 6 months now but hasn't committed to baptism because he is really shy. But the other Elder that I went on divisions with was really really direct! I was kinda scared we were going to end our good relationship with this family. But thankfully, it paid off and now his baptism date is for next Saturday. (Not this coming Saturday but the next one) I am starting to see why missionary work is so dang addicting! Whenever someone accepts the message and you see the light in their eyes, It becomes so real! It is like realizing something they knew their whole life but now just realizing it! It takes a lot of work sometimes, but it is worth it.

So also this week we had to stay in 2 days because of the holidays. We could go out to email but that was it. We almost got hit a few times from little kids on top of buildings throwing water balloons. I was hoping we would get hit because my companion did not like to walk back to the house early because we live on a hill haha But I was secretly hoping that we would get hit just so I could laugh my head off while he would be mad.... I know.. still learning charity but hey I am still 21 years old and immature. I don't have to grow up too much do I? lol The mission is becoming life now so it is getting better. Just accepting that this was life was hard for me but once I did the days seemed more fun. Along with my Spanish getting better every day, now I like going out to contact people. It is definitely true, the Lord does prepare people. We just have to be worthy to find them. 

I was reading in Mosiah this week and it was in Chapters 20..ish I don't remember exactly which one. But I was reading in a verse how it said the Lord saw fit for his people to be afflicted for a little longer. I pondered on that for a while because why would our loving Father in Heaven want that for his children? I'm not a parent yet but if my child was afflicted in any way I would want to help him! But it hit me that sometimes God lets us do it on our own 1. because we choose not to let Him into our lives, and 2. because this life is meant to be hard! The only way to grow stronger is to break down first our weaknesses, and then build it back up. During the trial it is hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel, when you're sitting on the toilet wishing you didn't eat that weird looking thing... God is still there, but He wants us to learn something. Everything I feel is for a reason. My mom and dad would always say to me, What does God want me to learn from this? They are a lot better than I am but it is so true. We are human. We are trying to become more like our Father in Heaven so... YEAH! You bet its going to be hard. But we are in this together! I love you all! I feel like this letter was all over the place so I am sorry... I hope it isn't too bad!

Elder Reynolds

Eating Cow stomach!

A Catholic Cathedral
Completely gold on the inside and we didn't go in cause it costed a lot!

I made it back to the states...San Francisco haha!!