Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Feeling and Recognizing the Spirit!

Elder Reynolds and Elder Marquez
Ambato, Ecuador

Hello everyone!!!
This week has been SO exhausting! There is so much work to do here in Ambato! It is so much different than Quito. Obviously the missionary work is still the same but here there is a lot of focus on the less actives. I guess there is something like 300 people on the registro (registry) for how many members there are...but our tiny little ward consisted of 29 people at the start of church!! Isn't that crazy?! So there is sooo much work to be done! And there are only 2 missionaries..Elder Marquez and I in the ward. So we are so busy from 10:30 am to 9:00 pm every single day. The members here are so nice though. Less actives or active members everyone treats the missionaries like Kings! haha Don't worry I wont let it get to my head. haha...as I just talked about humility in my last letter.

We have investigators but as I said above that we have a ton of menos activos (less actives). Sometimes it is hard to balance out who gets priority but it is so nice because we always have something to do! I really love serving here. Ambato is a lot more like America I feel like. ha It is still Ecuador haha but this is a nicer part of the mission. Elder Marquez and I are getting along great!! He is such a hard worker and we have a lot of the same interests. Both of us like sports and working out. My Spanish is getting so much better because I am trying to literally fail. ha That sounds weird but I feel like every time I talk I always use the wrong conjugation or pronunciation... But he is super patient with me.

I also like this sector of the mission because of the climate and the layout of the land. There aren't as many hills so I am super happy about that! ha The climate is always cold in the mornings and then a little hot in the afternoons then back to cold in the nights. It is a little frustrating because you can never guess what is going to happen in the day! It may look like it is going to rain but then it all the sudden clears up! Crazy, crazy Ecuador...

The people we teach are just amazing. They are so acceptive and they love learning about Jesus Christ. That is kind of our "in" when we contact people here... We say we talk about Jesus Christ and if they want to learn more about Him.. who can say no to that?! ha We had the opportunity to give blessings to people who were really sick and man the Priesthood is real. The priesthood keys of old have been restored and can be found in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The people here in Ecuador have so much faith in the Priesthood. It really helps me because my Spanish is obviously far from perfect, but through their faith and the spirit I am able to get across as to what Heavenly Father wants to say to them. I have felt the spirit so strongly this week in our lessons. I finally feel I am making progress in learning to recognize the spirit. I have always had a hard time with that but after studying a lot about it I have learned that if it is a good thought or impression...it doesn't matter if it's your thought or an impression! Just do it! ha NIKE!! Nike knows.

It was also really cool this week because we got to teach a person that knows a lot about the Bible. And as we were teaching the first lesson and about the end of our lesson we got into a big discussion about a whole lot of things... Tangent after tangent.. ha But then we finally said how about this, you ask God tonight and then when we come back we will see and talk about what happened. It was really awesome because we have been encouraged to make promises in the name of Jesus Christ. So we said, "As representatives of Jesus Christ, we promise you that if you ask Heavenly Father for an answer, He will give it to you." Elder Marquez and I talked a little bit afterwards about how we both were feeling and we were both so excited!  So we have an appointment with him this week and we are so excited to see Heavenly Father back us up. It just made us realize also the worthiness and the highness of our calling as missionaries.. That we are literal representatives of Him... I keep saying that throughout my letters in my mission but it just still amazes me that Heavenly Father and the Prophets and Apostles would put that much trust in 18-25 year olds... But we always have the promise that He provides a way. This gospel is true. I know it with all my heart. Through our faith and humility, He can work miracles through us. I love you all!!!
Elder Reynolds

Monday, May 22, 2017

First Transfer!

These families happily offer Elder Reynolds all they have because they feel so blessed that he found them and brought the gospel to them. He is so blown away by the generosity of the people he encounters. They don't have much and what they do have they want to share. His heart could not be fuller. He truly loves the people there in Ecuador!

Hello Everyone!!
So changes were today and I got changed to Ambato!! It is a city about 2 and a half hours away from where I was from. It is nice to get out of the city that you were born in! But I do have to say I miss it. I miss the people there and the investigators that we had. We have a family that is getting baptized this weekend and I really wish I could be there.. But whether I am there or not.. They are going to reap the amazing blessings of baptism!! Ahh I am so excited. No doubt my first baptisms were very special and I love the people so dearly.. But there is something about baptizing a whole family. When a whole family is listening to you as you testify that families can be together forever. That is something special. This gospel and the Plan of Salvation is perfect. There is not one person on this earth that is not worthy of receiving all the blessings of the Plan of Salvation and everything that HF has to offer. Everyone through the atonement of Jesus Christ can receive these blessings. My companion is Elder Marzua. He is from Peru. He seems really cool!! I am super excited! Finally get out of Quito and start to know more about Ecuador. I don't know much about Ambato but I know it is a lot flatter than my sector so I am excited! hahaha My companion says it doesn't rain than much here so that is a relief. Although that means it is hotter so that kind of sucks lol I would rather it be cold than it be scorching hot.

We had interviews with President and he always has us study a concept before we have the interviews so that we can talk about them. This time the concept was repentance. More than anything else, as I studied repentance, I learned that it is all about our humility. It is all dependent on our humility whether or not we will be forgiven. When we truly want to change and truly want to follow Jesus Christ we will do anything and everything to follow Him. And when we show that to our Heavenly Father, He blesses us with ways we can change. Help in stopping some things that maybe is hard for us to stop, or start doing things that are hard for us. Everything can come down to being humble before the Lord. To be honest that is hard for me! To be honest with everyone, while playing sports I enjoyed how I was able to receive some glory. But now it is all about getting the job done not caring about who gets the glory. I had a glimpse of that in High School and College as I could say I was team oriented. But as all men do, YES ALL MEN haha, we have a little bit of pride. We want to be praised of men. I can't say now I am totally changed, but I am seeing improvement in that my humbleness and humility is taking role rather than my pride. The mission is awesome and helps us learn so much as crazy 18 to 24 year olds. But I testify that it is not the mission that changes us. It is the choices we make and how truly humble we are for us to change. I listened to "We Are All Enlisted" and "The First Great Commandment" by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland this week and man am I pumped!!!!!! Through accepting Jesus Christ as our Savior, we can have the spirit in our lives again and become Christ's disciples. Be his hands down here on earth to build his kingdom. How lucky I am to have this calling. We are all in this together. We need everyone! I love you all!!!
Elder Reynolds

Elder Reynolds and his past companion, Elder Saldana

Monday, May 15, 2017

The Scriptures and the Gospel can help everyone in every single problem!

Mother's Day Skype!! Love our Elder Reynolds!!!!!!

Hello Everyone!!
Man it was so nice to talk to you guys, that is my family haha. It truly was a special blessing and opportunity to be able to talk to you guys!!! It was nice too see everyone is still alive! lol Seeing pictures and writing every week kind of turns into just a thing I do. It is hard to still imagine that the people I am writing to are real! lol that sounds weird....

So this week was a long one. I think it was because I was so excited to call!! We had a lot of appointments with our investigators though and they are all progressing very well! Not at the pace I would like... but it doesn't matter what I would like! I was talking to a missionary the other day and he said "how long did it take you to become converted to the gospel?" So I said about 20 years. And he said exactly. Now we as missionaries visit our investigators about 4 times a week with an hour at the most. And we get changed every 6 weeks so we have about 24 hours to convert an investigator... wow!!!! That really opened my eyes. And we also have to remember that we need to respect their agency. That we can force them to partake of this wonderful gospel, only lead them and guide them and then they have to make the decision ultimately. How are we to do this?!! Through the spirit...that is the only way to do it. And I don't mind doing it that way because then we will be baptizing converts rather than just people!

One of our investigators came to church for the first time yesterday. His name is Moises. He hasn't come to church because he is a little intimidated. So we actually went and got him and brought him to church haha. Along the way he was so extremely nervous. So we asked him why he is so nervous and he said because I don't want to mess up! haha It was a little funny to me because I thought about how could you mess up while at church?!! I really don't know how other churches run, but I guess he had bad experiences with other churches. I thought how sad it is for these people that they really have a desire to follow the example of Jesus Christ, but they just don't know where to find it. Or something else that is impeding them that is in my mind so easy to fix. Moises is a guy who has a lot of questions. He asked an interesting question the other day, he said that it says in the scriptures that Hyrum Smith said about Joseph Smith that he did more than any other man besides Jesus Christ himself. he said how is that possible? If you go to someone on the street and ask him who Jesus Christ is, they will say yes, I know who He is. But if you ask him who is Joseph Smith, they will probably say they don't know. And so he had a hard time with that.... I loved responding to that because that is exactly why we are here!!!!! To help people and to invite them to know of Jesus Christ and that the true church of Jesus Christ came through Joseph Smith. I love that through teaching and trying to help others, our own testimony is strengthened so much. 

The more I study about Jesus Christ, the more I am so amazed. I am just in awe of His sacrifice and how not one single bad thought was thought by Him. While he was being whipped and nailed to the cross.... It is crazy because he just got out of Gethsemane. He just suffered for the sins of those people that were spitting on him and doing all those horrible things. And He still suffered in hoping that maybe they would come to Him in some future point in their lives. Love. Charity. How powerful is that? How unworthy to be able to become whole through the atonement... But how lucky I am!! I love the conversion of Alma in Alma 36. That is one of the chapters we always leave our investigators that are struggling with repentance. Man the scriptures and everything about this gospel can help everyone in every single problem. I truly believe that. I love you all!!! Keep on keeping on!
Elder Reynolds

Best Mother's Day!!

Zone Conference

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Charity is the pure love of Christ!

Hello everyone!!
I want to apologize for my short email last week!!!! I am very sorry! So I feel I have been in the furnace of affliction for quite a while now haha When is it going to end!!? Although I am so thankful for the opportunities my Father in Heaven is giving me to learn new stuff everyday!!! I have learned so much about charity this change more than anything. Being with a Latino companion and not being to fully express myself has been very difficult, but as I have been learning it is so important to be united as a companionship. That we both have the same purpose and the same desires. We had Zone Conference this week and I guess President Christensen had a lot of complaints about companions and how missionaries wanted to change their companions. So he gave a lecture about how if there are 2 people that think the same exact way and do the same exact things, that one of them isn't needed. That being different in a companionship is a great thing!! Because there are so many different ways to teach and to see situations. He compared it to as if you have 2 people facing the same direction (which is comparing 2 people seeing the same ways and thinking the same ways) then he had one person turn around and when that happened as a companionship, you could see the whole picture!! You have his back and he has yours. It was really great to hear that because it has been frustrating not thinking the same ways. But all along, it was a blessing! haha Who knew God knows more than us?! lol We also had a lecture from the assistants. They had an example of 2 people and one of them couldn't use his legs and he had to get up from the ground. So the other person pulled him from the ground and although it was hard, he was able to pull him up. Then the second companionship were both laying down and they couldn't use their legs. And they had to try and push the other one up... And obviously they couldn't get up. They compared it to us and how we are inviting people to Christ. That It shouldn't be we are pushing someone to the gospel, we need to be pulling them to Christ. We need to be converted first!! I had an experience with this actually this week. We were meeting with one of our investigators and he was struggling with money and he said he had to work Sunday's or else he couldn't afford to eat... After the lesson we were both pondering on how we could help him. And it hit me that I needed to be doing the same exact thing we were asking him to do! That he needs to follow the Dia de Reposo (Resting day) and trust God that He will bless him. But here I am complaining and struggling with keeping some of the rules of the mission. That if I don't keep the rules of the mission, how can I ask this person to give up his job!? Sheesh how hypocritical would that be. On a much smaller scale, I realize what he is going through. And it is so hard to get people to take that leap of faith. As we know that we don't get our answer till after the trial of our faith. Faith really is the key. 

I have a couple of funny stories this week too! So we went to members houses to eat this week and one of them fed us fish!! I find fish pretty good so I was pretty excited as almost every meal is the same old chicken and rice haha So we were eating it and I was about done... Then I realized wait... Do I eat the head??? So I looked around and everyone else was chomping down on the head and I had nooooo idea how to eat the head. I felt so dumb as I asked the question, How do I eat this? hahaha everyone laughed and then they showed me how. Eyeballs are....interesting lol. And the same family fed us twice this week so they fed us crab!! Ahhh so good!  And after I got finished eating all the legs I had the same thought...wait... do I eat the head too!?? And sure enough yes I do! lol So I didn't really know how to eat the head so I just decided to tear it open and eat it as quickly as I could and drink a lot of juice haha And one of the members looked over and said "Elder!! You don't eat that part!!!!!!" That would make sense because it tasted absolutely disgusting hahaha I guess there is a part of the head that you eat and the part of the head you don't... So I am hoping I don't get sick with eating some of the mystery meat.... lol

Man the mission is full of so many experiences and so is life. It is very interesting how God wants us to learn. I love the guia (guide) in the back of the scriptures about oraci (prayer). It says that prayer is not to change God's will, it is only to know God's will. It is very powerful as we pray so hard for people and things... But in reality we should be praying to follow His will to the fullest. That is really tough for me right now, but I know it is the best way. A quote from Elder Holland is we can have our way or we can have an even better way which is the Lords way. I know that the Lords way will ALWAYS be better than our own understanding. I love you all!
Elder Reynolds

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Service brings Happiness!

"The happiest people I know are those who lose themselves in the service of others"
~Gordon B. Hinckley

Hello everyone!!!!
I am going to apologize now because this email is going to be really short. 
This week was so good. So many opportunities to learn and to grow. I love that our Heavenly Father loves us enough to send us trials so that we can become stronger and that we may become what He wants us to be. These trials truly are an act of love because without them we couldn't grow, we couldn't learn how to become more Christ like. I have learned that through humility, we can truly become disciples and become the person God wants us to be!

We have a lot of investigators this week and it is soooo awesome! We had 10 show up at church yesterday!! Unfortunately a lot of our investigators need to get married so patience is key! haha I am so happy to be the hands of God down here in Ecuador and serving Him. Although I have a missionary plaque, we are all expected to share this wonderful gospel!!!! We are all in this together. I know that through serving others it is the only way to become truly happy in this life. I had an opportunity to go with one of the leaders of the mission on divisions and wow! You can just tell that he has the love of God in him. When you talk to him, you feel like you are the only person in the world and when he teaches you can feel the spirit so strongly. I feel so inadequate to preach this gospel that I know so little about, but when we are called and through a lot of hard work, we can receive help from above. He said something really profound to me too...he said "Elder, we don't deserve to rest. There are too many people to serve. The most perfect person in the world didn't get to rest and we are representatives of Him." How true that is! We worked hard!!!! We worked really hard and when I was with him, it felt so good to go to sleep completely exhausted, yet knowing that I did everything I could to be His servant.
I truly do love you all!! Again, sorry for this short email. Keep at it! Never give up!! We have to bring the world His truth. 
Elder Reynolds