Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Miracles in the Storm!

Hello Everyone!
Wow this week has been crazy long! It has rained every single day of this past week. And not a light rain, a rain that gets you wet even if you have an umbrella. I felt like my umbrella was just a paper bag blowing around in the wind. No joke it was raining sideways!! I don't even know how it is possible but it was! Maybe it has something to do with because we are at the center of the earth and gravity, and physics, and e=mc2... Yeah I have no idea. Only in Ecuador.... But this week was full of miracles and full of opportunities to get better! My Spanish is getting a whole lot better. Talking in Spanish a full 24 hours 7 days a week actually really helps! haha I almost feel bad for the Latinos that have to deal with us gringos because it seems to me I am always asking the same question on how to say something... But thank goodness for patience and the Gift of Tongues. This week I have experienced the gift of tongues a lot. As missionaries, we have this strategy called  pin-pon where we talk for 2 or so minutes then pass it on to our companion. That way we can both talk and it doesn't get too boring for the investigator or us. We had a lot of lessons this week consisting of unmarried people teaching them about the Law of Chastity. I feel that my companion could do all the teaching because he is honestly a great teacher. Given he does have 23 months! So it must be frustrating for him to have a companion that hardly knows anything haha. But I am trying! But when he would pass it on to me, I honestly would have no idea what to say. I would pause for what it seemed like 5 minutes but probably only 2 or 3 seconds and try to listen to the spirit. Annnnnd nothing would come to my mind!!!! So I would just open my mouth and it seemed the words would just flow. It was pretty amazing. It is a real testimony to me of faith. That I need to just open my mouth! To trust that Heavenly Father will come through for me and bless me with the spirit because I am worthy of it and did the work beforehand. When I look back, I really love how Heavenly Father didn't give me the inspiration until after I opened my mouth and started talking. Heavenly Father always works in that way. He expects us to have the faith first and do the action, and then He will come through! Ether 12:6 "And now, I, Moroni, would speak somewhat concerning these things; I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith."

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! Afterwards 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 830 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. 

I am really so happy to be apart of this great work!! I know miracles take place when we look for them and when we do our part in working. At the beginning of my mission I wouldn't talk to certain people or knock a certain door because I didn't feel like I should. Or like I was being prompted. But I feel like those promptings and feelings come only when we are trying. Only when we put forth the effort because God won't give inspirations if he doesn't trust you. As I study more about prophets, the big difference is that they listen to the Holy Ghost and act on it right away. Heavenly Father knows He can trust President Thomas S. Monson. How I long to be trusted by our Heavenly Father. To have him say, I know I can trust Elder Reynolds to carry this out.... I am still working on it, but progress is always good. I hope we all long to have the trust of our Heavenly Father. Just like in sports, that when the coach looks for a player he knows will get the job done, He will look right at you, or right at me, and say GO! Feed my sheep. I feel this is the 4th quarter of the world right now. We have to give it all. We have to build Gods Kingdom here on Earth so we can all be ready for the great day when Jesus Christ shall reign as King of Kings here on the earth. Can He trust you? If not, lets all work to get to that point! I love you all! WE are all in this together! He needs every single one of us on his team! 
Elder Reynolds

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

First Week in the Mission of ALL Spanish!

"How can I be better each day?"

Hello Everyone!!!
So this week was a looong but short week. It is weird how it works like that. I am definitely experiencing the refiners fire lol. But like the scriptures say, if we endure it well we will be exalted on high. Man am I clinging to that promise!! So this week was the first week in the mission of ALL Spanish... My mind is pretty much mush right now.. Buuuut my Spanish has gotten so much better!!! I am very glad for this opportunity to learn. I feel like this type of learning is when you throw a kid into the swimming pool and that is how you teach him how to swim but its all for the better. My companion is a great teacher. Even though we can't communicate well, we work together well in a companionship for teaching investigators. I keep asking myself "how I can be better each day?"I figured that if I pray for the gift of tongues that I should have enough faith to just open my mouth! So I have been trying to do that more and more and I can feel the Holy Ghost work through me. I just have to be patient. Definitely a Christ-like attribute I need to work on. 

So it was pretty crazy, from Monday to Saturday we had new investigators every single day!! By the end of the week we had 12 people on date for baptism!!! Although only 4 came to church on Sunday so only 4 have baptismal dates...but still! Elder Saldana reminded me of my purpose here and that is to invite! So that's what we have been doing. From the very first lesson inviting people to read the Book of Mormon and to prepare for their baptismal date. What I like about Elder Saldaña is he is very good at gaining the people's trust, by not going straight into lessons but getting to know them and their interests. I have always wanted to teach that way but I felt I never had a sufficient knowledge of words to convey what I was thinking.. But like I said my Spanish has improved a lot in one week!! We found a family that is pretty much golden. On our 2nd lesson with them they invited 5 other family members and friends to attend church and to sit in with us on lessons! How awesome is that!!? It really is true when the Lord says in scriptures about how people are being prepared and we need to find those that are prepared. I think that's definitely what we did here. Well we didn't find them, it was a reference from a member! Man how references are so much better than plain contacting on the street! So help the missionaries by giving them references!! I like to think of it as we train every day to be able to teach, just like as an athlete you train everyday to be able to perform at your peak... And now we just need people to teach because we are ready! It feels good to be ready. Speaking of always being ready....I experienced the first of what I think many missionaries are so used too. So we were about to go to bed Saturday night and we get a call from the bishopric saying that I am giving a talk tomorrow in sacrament meeting..... What the?!! haha Church starts at 9:00 and we have meetings at 7:30 so there wasn't any time to prepare but it was nice because really my whole job as a missionary is to be ready to teach the gospel at any time!! So it wasn't too bad. It was funny, as I was going up to give my talk the bishop whispers to me, please make it short...and I was like pffff..very funny. Surprisingly I gave a 10 minute talk! Although I think it was mainly because when I was reading scriptures I struggled on a lot of the words... But it was good! 

This week I learned of all the traditions of Easter here in Ecuador. First off, every night of the week or during the day there was something going on from one of the different sects here. So that was cool to see all the churches doing something. But from Thursday all the way to Monday or today everything was closed!! I couldn't believe it! It was like the town got robbed and everyone left! But it was good for us because everyone was home and it seemed like a lot of people were nicer to us. So on Saturday we had a ward celebration of Easter and they have this soup called Fanesca. I honestly have no idea what was in it but everyone has been talking about it for the week coming up to Saturday and if I have ever tried it. So finally when the day came to try it they would not stop giving it to me!! Literally I felt like I was going to throw up haha. They made about 70 liters of this soup. It was actually pretty good! Although there was cilantro in it and I am not too fond of cilantro..... But I think I contributed 10 liters of consummation to their total 70 liters.. NO joke I had a ton. They kept on giving it to me like there was no tomorrow! It was good, but I must say I am kind of glad Easter only comes around once a year. And of course when we went to lunch on Sunday, they asked if we wanted Fanesca to take home and we were like yeaahhhhhhh hahaha. But its all good.

We also had the opportunity today to listen to Elder Christofferson!!!! We barley knew about it until this Thursday! haha It was funny cause they were like, oh yeah Elder Christofferson from the 12 is coming so we are going to go listen to him. I was like what !!!!!!!!! It was very awesome. I didn't know he knew Spanish either!! It was cool to hear him speak in Spanish. He talked about how the most important doctrine we can teach is repentance. That it is that that changes a person. And really it is true. Baptism does not change a person, it is an important ordinance that needs to be done, but repentance is truly where we change. We got to shake his hand too and how special it was too feel a living Apostle hands like the ones we teach about from the scriptures.. Amazing!!

Funny story this week...So I am not good with directions for those who know me. But I am almost positive I knew this street where one of our investigators lived but I took the wrong turn. We ended up walking an extra 10 minutes, but a less active called out to us and we were able to visit them and give their  three children blessings!!!! Because they were really sick. I guess the spirit works in mysterious ways! But the funny part is that we sat down to wait for her to show us her house, and when I got up and put my hands down to push off from the ground I felt the ground move a little like I was pushing on playdoh.. Yep right into poop!!!! And I couldn't wipe it off because I didn't want her to know that I had poop on my hand! hahaha So we gave blessings all the while I had poop on my hands.... I don't know if the people knew but I knew because it reeked!!!! Ohhh man..... But it was a really good experience.

I love this work. I am so glad to be apart of it. This week was hard, but like always Heavenly Father came through. In Alma Chapter 27 or 28 I was reading and it says "and thus we see the great calling of those who preach the gospel"..I am summarizing it but I am so happy to be able to help people and most importantly bring them to Christ and allow them to have joy!! There is no other work like it. I hope you all have a great week! Love you all!
Elder Reynolds

Elder Reynolds and Elder Jacobs (first companion)

Do I want to know what he's doing?!!
~Crazy adventures of Elder Reynolds in Ecuador~

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

New adventures! Comp #2...No habla ingles

Thanks to another missionary mom, I have this photo!
Someone stole his battery out of his camera, so no pictures this week :(

Hello Everyone!!!
I am still alive and well in the good ole country of Ecuador! Another week has come and gone and lots has happened! So I totally forgot to tell you guys but we had changes this Monday! So my new companion is called Elder Saldaña. He is from Columbia. Yep!! Speaks only Spanish so this is going to be quite the adventure. Our bus ride back was quiet haha Much different than what I have been experiencing these past few weeks with Elder Jacobs. It is going to be so hard, but I know our President of the mission is guided by the spirit and knows what I need. And it is true! I definitely need to learn Spanish! haha And once again I am out of my comfort zone! lol So another opportunity to grow! I am being honest, I am quite nervous... I really got used to Elder Jacobs and this sector but now it seems everything has changed! But its all good. Yes I am also still in the same sector. 

We are expecting to have a lot of baptisms this change! We have lots of investigators! We have encountered a few kinks with each one of them but that's only because Satan knows how big of a decision this is for them and how much it is going to change them for the better! It was a little funny as we were teaching one of the investigators, we invited him to baptism. He said, "wow.... I don't think I am ready for that because baptism is like marriage. If you marry the wrong women.. you are screwed!" hahahahahahahaha It was really funny. But I am so glad he sees the importance of the decision of baptism. Honestly it is hard to get our investigators to see the importance of baptism and that it isn't just a one time thing. Baptism is just the first step towards our eternal progression. We will always be progressing and chasing the Christ like attributes. I think that is what is most intriguing about this church and what we believe! There is no end! 

Our investigators are all progressing slowly but surely. We had a breakthrough with one of our investigators. She is 20 years old and her mom and sister are members but she absolutely hates the church. She has had rough experiences with church and also with the missionaries. Whenever we would go over there she would maybe say hello and then go to her room.. She wouldn't even shake our hands!! But her mom is always trying to get her to meet with us.... so we were thinking a lot and praying for her and finally she decided to have dinner with us! We talked about what her interests were and all and she has desires to go into the military but she was lacking English.... She was wanting to learn English and Hey! I know English! haha So we are now teaching her English and trying to gain her trust. We have shared one small lesson about prayer and how it can help us in our lives. She didn't think much of it but this was the first time she has even met with us! So it is awesome!!! I am really starting to understand that these are real people!! Not just numbers... We are in a great and marvelous work and the only way to get to the hearts of these people are through actually treating them like people! This probably sounds totally whack but as a missionary your whole purpose and what your leaders expect from you is success and that success comes from numbers... But really these numbers are people! Our very own brothers and sisters. My Spanish is coming along so I am having a lot better time with actually treating and making relationships with PEOPLE! lol I am probably sounding totally weird right now.
So this week was hard but we had a lot of success. So I learned that I can't walk...In Ecuador the streets and sidewalks are all banged up... So lots of holes and what not.. Unfortunately one of the holes got the best of me and broke my ankle haha It was pretty embarrassing. I was literally carrying 2 shopping bags and it was like a movie in slow motion when I fell and my stuff went everywhere.. It hurt so bad! But it is a lot better now. What was so unfortunate was there was random toilet paper in the street and I broke my ankle right in front of that so it looked like it was mine and everyone didn't know what the heck I was doing laying on the ground with a bunch of toilet paper....lol Gosh.... its not what it looks like... hahahaha (He said his ankle is swollen and bruised)
I love you all! 
Elder Reynolds

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

An Amazing Weekend...General Conference!!

Group of Elders who gathered for a meal after a Saturday session of General Conference!

Helllooo Everyone!!!!!
Man what an amazing week it has been!! Or should I say an amazing weekend! How privileged are we that we get to listen to a living prophet. I loved his determination. You could see it in his eyes. Even though the troubles of old age made it difficult, he still wanted to address us. That is just so amazing to me. How sweet and simple were his words too?! Simply about reading the Book of Mormon. The more I study talks about missionary work, the more I realize how important the Book of Mormon is in conversion. I love how he said to do whatever is necessary to obtain a testimony of the Book of Mormon (among other things too). Really the Book of Mormon is what makes our religion different. What makes our religion true. That we do have modern day revelation. If you think about it, why would a loving God stop revelation? Why would a loving God not continue to bless his people with the great gift of having a living prophet? The Gospel really is so simplistic in all its teachings. In General Conference there is always an underlying topic of every talk that reverts back to reading, pondering, and praying, and then acting on the answer. That is really it! There is no secret formula to happiness. Or a secret....lose fat and get fit in a day pill... Its a process. Eternal happiness is not a destination, its a process. I find it awesome that there is no end to anything. That we will always be progressing towards something. Man I could go on and on about General Conference. There was so many great talks and the spirit was so strong! Even though none of our investigators came...I still enjoyed General Conference. We were bummed that no one came that we were hoping for, but all the members were there and we had the opportunity to talk to a lot of them after and it was so great to hear what they learned! It really taught me that our job isn't to just find and baptize, it is to strengthen all. To invite all to come unto Christ. 

So one of the investigators we were hoping for is Gustavo. He just moved here from Venezuela. I think I told a little bit about him in my other letter. Anyways, we were able to talk to him Sunday night after conference. Man how we get to his house is pretty ridiculous... So we live in a sector with tons of hills. I would say you can compare it to San Francisco. But a little steeper... So how we get to his house is we have to walk about 40 minutes from our house, then get into a cab and it takes us up this HUGE hill and drops us off and we walk for another 5 minutes or so... So yeah its a looong ways away. But we showed up and this other guy was there and we started talking to him. Turns out, he knows English! He is from Venezuela but he was in the USA for about a year and learned English! I felt like Elder Calhoon in the movie "The Best 2 years" when they meet Kyle the investigator and he says "Oh sorry I dont speak Dutch"... And then the Elder is like "Heyyy Me neither!!" hahaha So we started talking in English getting to know him a little bit more. And I must say, it was the absolute weirdest thing. I could not teach worth a dang in English. It was even harder than teaching in Spanish!!!! Even though I can't speak Spanish fluently, it was crazy because I kept on wanting to speak in Spanish because it was so hard to teach in English! Elder Jacobs was looking at me like I was having a seizure... hahaha!! So that was pretty cool that I am starting to forget English...ha Just kidding, English is still in my brain! Elder Jacobs and I try to talk all in Spanish now to each other but sometimes I just want to speak in English because my brain hurts. So pretty much instead of being bilingual, I am going to be ninguna (nothing)-lingual! haha So that was a weird but cool experience for me this week. Gustavo has a problem with the Word of Wisdom so we had to push his baptismal date back. That bummed me out because I might not be in the sector. Changes (transfers) are this coming. I don't know whether I want to stay or go somewhere else. Of course going somewhere else is always intriguing, but I am starting to actually make friends instead of just acquaintances in this sector! So wherever the Lord decides to send me, I am totally okay with! Like Elder Bednar said, I am called to serve!!!!! I am not called to a specific country. 

So I'll fill you in a little about what we did for General Conference. We had to travel to the stake center and all the gringo missionaries got to watch it in English! It was pretty awesome. Pretty hilarious too. Because we got there about 5 minutes before it was about to start and we were looking all over the chapel to see where the gringo room was. Then we opened this door and you just see a whole bunch of white guys staring at you huddled around a little computer screen. haha Ohhh man that was a tight room. No big windows either...So you bet that it smelt like farts and doterra oil. ha This guy had some doterra oils and before Conference started we would dare each other to put certain oils on their tongue hahaha But we did figure out a trick to make our testimonies more powerful, we would put peppermint oil under our eyes! hahahaha just kidding. No, we had Conference to strengthen our testimonies. But yes some missionaries did try that and yes it was funny..... Oh man the mission is so fun. Men are that they might have joy!!

One thing I want to end with is a little bit of motivation. In President Eyring's talk it said that if you are ever overwhelmed that it is good! Because you are realizing the amount of trust Heavenly Father is putting on you. That Heavenly Father trusts you and believes in you that much to challenge you all for the benefit of you growing. It made me think of a quote that we had in our football weight room, it said, "If you treat a man as he is,  He will stay as he is. But if you treat a man as he can become, he will become that man." Really that is what Heavenly Father is trying to do with us! He knows our potential, and so he treats us the way He wants us to become. How loving is that. Since we are trying to become something we have never been, we have to do things we have never done. This life is hard, and the only easy day was yesterday.... But we have to keep going. We aren't quitters! We promised our Heavenly Father at baptism we would endure to the end and bring all we can with us. Now is the time to show that. Like my dad always constantly said, The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the next best time is NOW!.  I absolutely love this Gospel. The motivation that we can gain from it is incredible. I know Heavenly Father is waiting to bless us and perform miracles if we but show a little faith. Even a little desire, let that desire work in you. I love you all!!!
Elder Reynolds 

Ecuador thinks Halls cough drop is a candy hahahaha!
This is a candy store and there's a huge variety of Halls haha

Love My Missionary!!!
Rainy Cold day in Ecudador

Random weird scary baby!