Week 38 – The Opposition: Dogs & Kids

So things have been good and we’re wroking hard here in Carabuela. I’ve also been getting to know the hermanas in the 2 zones that Hermana Pelaez and I are in charge of. They’re awesome.

So this week we realized that the opposition in our sector consists of dogs and kids. The dogs here are vicious. A dog bit my companion in the leg and I almost got attacked too. It’s lovely haha. We have an investigator and her dogs are locos, so when we went to visit her we first armed ourselves with large stones and corn stalks (the whole town of Carabuela is just a bunch of houses spread apart in the midst of corn fields) in order to fight the dogs. And yeah it turns out that she wasn´t even home. Oh and the kids. Every time we try to share a lesson a kid starts screaming and it´s impossible to share anything with their parents. But we’ll bring stickers and candy to the lessons from now on.

So we watched General Conference, and it was soooo good. Like I was on cloud nine and I just felt so much joy in my heart and love for the prophets and apostles and love for this church and this gospel. It’s so true. It’s not easy to be a Latter Day Saint, but I’m telling you, it’s so worth it. I loved how they talked about not being a part-time disciple, and the importance of spiritual integrity. And they basically said that to develop this spiritual integrity, we can’t forget the fundamentals. Like scripture study. And meaningful prayer. And loving service. We are all responsible for our personal religious observance. And not just on Sundays, but every day.

Well I was reading in Omni and it reminded me to write in my journal more often haha.

But also I was reading the first chapters of Mosiah and they are so powerful. The power of obedience and repentance goes hand in hand.

Well I will try to send photos but usually it doesn’t let me here. Sorry.

Love you all, thanks for the letters!!

Hermana Means

Week 36 & 37 – More Pigs than People

So I have like no time to write because I just got to my new sector in Otavalo. I’m in the middle of nowhere practically, where they are all indigenous and speak the indigenous language of Quichua, so that will be exciting haha. The ward is all in Quichua, so I guess I’ll be learning a little bit of another language.

I called as sister training leader here, so I´m a little nervous but I also know that it will be a great chance to learn a lot more about how to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. I’ll need all of the prayers that I can get haha.

Going from Quito to Imbaya is like being in a whole other country, but I´m excited for the change. I was feeling a little suffocated in the city. I´m now in the land of mosquitos, lots of mountains, and eating guinea pig.

Hermana Pelaez is my compañera, she´s awesome and I´m so excited to work with her, we were in the same district in Ibarra.

So my sector is Carabuela in the Zona Imbaya. And it’s a whole other world. Like I said before haha. I think there are more cows and pigs than people. And I have more mosquito bites than I can count, and I swear that these aren’t normal mosquitos. They itch way way worse. But besides that and the parasites that I’m sure are chilling in my abdomen, things are good haha.

I really do love this sector. We have to teach a lot of lessons with little kids as our translators, but it’s fun. Everyone has been telling me how hard this sector is and I´m so sick of it. Any sector can be a good sector, I have a firm belief in that. And I love in Jacob 5, when the Lord’s servant is saying that he can’t believe that good fruit could come out of infertile soil. And the Lord basically says, “Don’t tell me which parts of my vineyard are fertile and which parts aren’t, only I know my vineyard perfectly, and only I know which trees will bring forth good fruit.”

I´am working on having faith, especially the faith that there can be miracles and baptisms in every sector. And the faith is paying off because this week we found tons of new investigators and we have 11 people with a baptismal date, just from this week. So yeah I’m super excited and I love my companion and we are going to kill it in this sector. Of course not with our own abilities, but with the Lord on our side, I think we can see tons of miracles in Carabuela.

Cool things that happened…so I don´t remember much because this week flew by, We found lots of old investigators that want to listen and be baptized, so that was awesome. We had a lesson literally in a pig sty. It rained buckets and I think I fell in the mud three times. And washing laundry by hand is the worse haha.

Other spiritual experiences…So really Hermana Pelaez and I have been reading and talking about faith and a good attitude, and literally every time that an appointment fell, we kept a positive attitude and a miracle happened, We found new investigators every day, Things are going well. I’m trying to focus on charity this week and loving the people with all of my heart, even when I don’t understand them. And obedience, always working on being obedient with exactness. Super excited for General Conference. We get to listen to a modern day prophet. General Conference is the best in the mission because you’re always teaching people of the Restoration and the miracle of modern day prophets and apostles and the priesthood. And your testimony of the Restoration grows so much and then there’s General Conference and you just feel like it´s Moses, or Paul, or Lehi that´s talking directly to you. I know and testify that Thomas S. Monson is a prophet of God and that it is a privilege to have revelation from God for our day, It´s the best.

Love, Hermana Means

Week 35 – Life is good

Wow I hit 8 months! man time s flying by, I still feel like a greenie in the mission but I guess I’m almost halfway done. Still have this fear that it’s going to go by too fast and I’m just going to forget everything that happened. It’s weird.

So I don’t have lots of time. Like always. But we’re seeing lots of miracles. We have three baptisms scheduled for next week! Emmanuel Chendaka (the guy from South Africa) and the familia Mendoza. They all have tons of faith, and I love talking to them and teaching them. They strengthen my faith so much. The Mendoza family came from the coast to here because there were floods where they were living. And when they got here all of their things got stolen, and they literally had nothing. No clothes, no money, no food, nothing. The family consists of a 35 year-old man, his 18 year old daughter, and her two kids, that are two and 8 months. A family in our ward found them in the park and invited them to church, the ward helped them out tons, and they started taking the lessons and have so much faith and are so genuine. The Lord really works miracles in people’s lives. The gospel changes people, for reals.

Well we have changes at the end of this week so I probably won’t see these baptisms, but I’m so excited for them! Life is good in the mission, I’m working on having more faith, Love the letters I get, Love the prayers that you give on my behalf, I feel it.

-Sydney Means

Week 34 – Teaching some Non-Ecuadorians

Sydney didn’t send any photos this week, but I found these on their mission Facebook page – yay.

So hey, it’s been an interesting week. going to focus on the miracles and the ups of the mission in this email, like always. But just to keep it real, maybe I’ll add some downs, who knows.

So first, I’d like to formally congratulate my sister on her mission call to Belgium-Netherlands, Dutch speaking!!! I just found out, so that’s pretty awesome. I’m super excited, although I’ll miss you Ali!! And I can testify of the gift of tongues haha, so I know she’ll do great with the language and everything.Tthe mission is such a miracle. (you can watch this cool video of Ali’s Opening made by Ali’s friend, Truman)

So about the Non-ecuadorians…We have an investigator from South Africa that doesn’t speak Spanish very well so I`ve been teaching him in english, and he is just so cool. He really gets it, especially the nature of god and the importance of repentance. It’s hard to teach in English surprisingly, because I’m so used to speaking in Spanish, but it’s a good way to really stop and think about what I really want to say and listen to the Spirit.

Also, I’m pretty sure I found the only Californians that live in Carcelen, and now we`re teaching them, so yeah it’s pretty great. It’s this really cute Christian family from Hunington Beach that just moved to Ecuador and the have 4 kids all under the age of 6 (sound familiar mom?) and the wife speaks Spanish and the husband is learning. We’ve only taught the wife but we’re going to try to find a time with the husband too, which means more teaching in English haha, not my favorite, pero a veces le toca.

A few funny things…

One of our investigators forgot the name for “Zion” so she was talking for 5 minutes about “Oz”, and we were so confused. Hahaha when we realized she was talking about Sìon, we couldn’t stop laughing, and she couldn’t either. She said it was because her son’s favorite movie was the Wizard of Oz, hahaha.

Our other investigator was reading the preface of one of the chapters in the Book of Mormon, and you know how they put the years in the pre-face? Well the preface was talking about eternal torment or hell or something so she thought that the years were degrees Celcius, and that hell was going to be exactly 241 degrees Celcius. I tried so hard not to laugh. Our investigators are so great and so funny.

So something weird, one of our investigators house was overcome by rats so she had to move out of our sector. We passed by her house right when she was moving out and we could hear rats banging against the door. So if that doesn’t give you nightmares, I don’t know what will.

Love you all!! The mission isn`t easy and sometimes I just feel like my weaknesses are just too much. But I’ve been thinking a lot and reading a lot about the plan of salvation, and weaknesses and mistakes are so necessary for our progression, because it`s the only way we truly learn and rely on the Savior. God reallly will make our weaknesses strong, even if it takes a whole lifetime to do it.

Thank you for your prayers and fasts and love and emails, they mean the world to me!!!

Week 32 – Internet Miracles

Missionaries on P-day

We crash a lot of birthday parties in the mission, on accident. But it`s all cool. This family is awesome.

This week has been interesting, a lot of ups and downs and a lot of miracles too. One of the biggest miracles we had was with a reference from the missionary portal. So we received this reference in December, of a woman who wanted a Book of Mormon. We went looking for her house but could not find it, and when we called her she said that she didn’t want and visits, just the address of the church building. So we gave it to her and everything. Then this past week during weekly planning I was looking at all of our references that we`ve gotten in the area from the online portal, and when I saw her name I just knew we had to try again with her. It seemed like too good of an opportunity to pass up, someone who already wanted a Book of Mormon. So this Saturday we went looking for her house and finally found it. We talked to her husband and he let us in, and seemed like at first she didn’t want to see us because they started fighting in the back room. And then when she finally came out she was just the coolest lady ever. She said that she was online looking up things about the Bible when she saw an advertisement to learn more about the Book of Mormon. She said she read more information about it in the church’s web page, all about Joseph Smith, and she felt like it really could be true that there are more scriptures about Jesus Christ. Anyways, she’s been reading the Book of Mormon every night on her phone with the bible, and she even watched the whole movie of the Restoration, about the life of Joseph Smith. She said that she feels like Joseph Smith really was a prophet because he suffered so much and Jesus Christ also suffered. So we taught her the Restoration, and invited her to baptism and she said she’s going to pray and if she feels good about it she definitely wants to be baptized. She also said she wants us to meet with her sisters, because if this is really true, she wants to share it with everyone. It really was so amazing, and my testimony of following up with references has really increased. We found two new investigators through this reference, and three future investigators.

So basically, share things on the internet! It’s a great missionary tool, and so easy to do! Videos, links, scriptures…so easy, and it can give people lots of comfort and motivation, and also change people’s life!

Sorry that was a long story but it was just so cool. We had a few other miracles with finding investigators and reconnecting with old investigators. So we started teaching an English class with the Elders to try to find new investigators! Not a lot of people came to our English class, I think because it was the first one. But we’ve already gained a lot more confidence with the members through this class, and we have a member that’s going to bring 15 friends to the next one. The class was surprisingly very spiritual, we shared Mormon Messages in English with Spanish subtitles, sang primary songs in English, prayed in English, and shared our testimonies in both languages. It was super cool.

Liz is super cool, and the lesson that we had with her was awesome. We brought a member with us and taught the first half of the plan of Salvation, and she and the member became friends right away. So perfect. And then the next day we focused the whole lesson on the Atonement and faith in Christ through baptism, and Hermana Ergueta invited her to be baptized on the 25th and she did it so perfectly and I was so happy and proud. Liz is really great and has three kids and a husband, but the husband works in the coast and only visits three times a month. But she said that she’s going to talk to her spouse about her decision to be baptized and if the kids can be baptized too, and I think they’re all going to attend church this week, the whole family. It’s awesome.

The mission is awesome, and I’m learning so much about myself, about the culture, about the gospel, about repentance and the scriptures and the life of Christ and helping people to change. I really believe that lasting change can’t happen in a person without the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I see evidence of this every day, and I love it.

Hermana Sydney Means

Week 30 – Desires

Well first of all, it was a good week. I played soccer for two and a half hours last Monday with the elders, and man I was sore. That’s what happens when you haven’t played much soccer for good amount of time…

Then the next day we helped a member out with a service project in her home. And I guess I didn’t understand all of the vocabulary she used when she called us, because the service project was moving bags of cement, like 25 bags, from the 4th floor to the first floor. The elders helped us, but man I was even more sore after that. But she was super grateful and I was super happy to help.

So I’m also super happy because Sebastian received the Priesthood yesterday and is going on a youth temple trip this week. Wow, it’s so awesome. And Andres blessed the sacrament for the first time so that was awesome too. And Jenifer, their sister, bore her testimony in church. Wow my soul was filled yesterday in church. Oh and their brother Wilmur is now reading the Book of Mormon and praying specifically for an answer to know if it’s true. Entonces, ya mismo…

Oh and I was so super excited because we met up with another one of our investigators that we haven’t seen for the last two weeks in the park. And we thought that she was losing interest, and that’s why she hadn’t met with us. But nope, when we had our lesson with her she said that she’s been reading the Book of Mormon! And this woman is very busy, she works and has three young kids. But she’s been reading! And she said that many times she opened the book at night when she couldn’t sleep and that she read and was filled with peace. Wow, the Book of Mormon really is powerful. I hope you all have the chance to feel that peace and power, and if not, go open up the Book of Mormon and start reading with real intent. And at the end of the lesson I testified that the Book of Mormon could help her raise her family and keep her kids in righteous paths, and she asked me to show her where in the Book of Mormon it talked about families so that she could read it with her husband and kids. I almost shouted for joy, believe me. Because that’s what scripture study is about, reading with a purpose and applying what we read in our lives. Her name is Liz Brito and she’s awesome.

So I’ve been thinking a lot about our desires and happiness. I read a talk by Dallin H Oaks entitled “Desires” and if you want more homework, there`s a good talk. Really our desires are super important, because they determine our priorities in our day to day lives. One way to figure out what our true desires are is to think about the moments when we feel most happy. A missionary asked me, “When do you feel most happy in your mission? When you are with other missionaries, when you are with members, or when you are with investigators? If it’s not with investigators, then you aren’t making the most of your mission. And not just feeling happy with the investigators that are progressing and reading and praying, but with all of them.” And wow it made me think a lot about how we can know if we are really fulfilling our purpose if we are happy doing it. So when are you most happy? When you’re at work, when you’re with friends, when you’re with your family, when you’re with your dog, when you’re at church? Figure out when you’re most happy, figure out what your desires are, and if they aren’t what they should be, make the necessary adjustments. That’s what I’m going to work on this week, so that I can really focus on my purpose and my desires to teach the gospel and help others come unto Christ.

So yeah I have lots of more thoughts and no time. But I love you all and hope everything is well!!!

Hermana Means

Week 29 – Repentance

Thank you so much for each one of your letters, they mean the world to me. I was excited to hear that Mackenzie got called to Sweden on her mission! You go girl! I’m excited to hear where my sister is going!

Ok bueno, entonces this week we had the baptism of Sebastian, and it was super super special because Andres, our convert from three weeks ago, baptized him! They’re brothers by the way haha. Sebastian is already talking about going on a mission and going to seminary, so I’m just super excited that he’s excited. So man that was awesome.

Sometimes the mission is really hard because you always feel like you could be doing more to help people and show the Lord how much you love him. But I’ve been trying to work on giving it my all and letting the Lord do the rest. He really will work miracles with our weaknesses if we are humble enough to let Him.

Anyways, my homework that I’m giving each one of you is learn more about repentance. there’s a great talk by Elder Christofferson entitled the Divine Gift of Repentance. You can start there. I loved how he said that the call to repentance is an act of love, and that we shouldn’t be scared of it. Anyways love you all!!!

Hermana Sydney Means

Week 28 – Familias

There are a lot of chaotic families here and every time I teach them or share the Family Proclamation I’m so grateful for my family. I use you and Dad and all of my siblings a lot when I teach, stories from your lives and everything. It really helps the people to realize that even though there is no such thing as a perfect family, a happy family is possible when we focus on Christ and his teachings. Everyone always says our family looks like a telenovela haha. And my companion thinks you look like the mom from twilight haha. Anyways, love you lots. I’m really excited to see where Ali goes too. I’m secretly praying for Ecuador Quito Norte haha. Love you!!! (An excerpt from a letter to me from last week)

Sorry I went MIA this past week, I didn’t have any time left. But I hope it left you wanting more of my fantastic, although sometimes very short, letters!!!

First of all, thanks to everyone that writes to me! I know sometimes I don’t respond right away but I read every single one! Usually I print them and read them throughout the week and it brings me lots of joy to hear your stories and everything that’s going on. So thanks, and I’ll try to write more this lunes que viene.

So wow this week we found two new families! So far I haven’t baptized a family in my mission, but I really want to teach a family and help them make this covenant. So we’ve been praying for families and found two! Familia Erazo Vasquez y Familia Mora. So the mom of familia Mora is seriously trying to convince me to marry her son. Hahaha it’s pretty funny. She always brings it up in the lessons. “So let’s just say, for example, that you liked my son and he liked you and you both fell in love…just for example…” But they’re a great family and really open to listening and learning everything. Very humble and willing to share everything they have.

On Monday, we went to the Basilica. Basically when you look up pictures of Quito on the internet, the Basilica will always pop up, it’s a huge beautiful Catholic church. I felt very touristy haha. There were American tourists and they came up to us “Wow are you guys Mormons” “Yuppp!” it was weird to talk in English with them. But they were very nice.

I ran into a few other people that spoke English this week, and they always want to practice with me. But I don’t know how to speak in English anymore so it’s weird, and my companion doesn’t understand haha. But they were some cool people. A lady that lives in Kansas and says she can predict the future, and a lady from an Island in the Carribean.

So Sebastian is getting baptized this week! He’s awesome. He had some rough patches this week, but we were able to help him a lot. I actually started crying in a lesson because he reminded me so much of my brother Connor and it just reminded me of how much the people here in my mission have become part of my family, and it’s just really amazing how much love I have for each of them.

I love you all mucho!!!!

Week 26 – Futbol

So once again I don’t have tons of time. Yeah I know it’s kind of a pattern. But I’m getting along well with my companion, and we’re doing lots of great work here in the sector. With the Lord’s help of course. We found 12 new investigators this week. It was really a miracle. And we have Sebastian Curicama, the brother of Andres, with a fecha bautismal. So that’s awesome.

Oh also, today, I got to play Futbol for the first time in South America. I don’t know how it took 6 months, but yeah, finally. We went to a park with our Zone for P-day and started to play a pick-up game with other youngsters in the park and yeah it was awesome. I was the only girl, because apparently here girls don’t really play soccer. But yeah I held my own, no worries haha. One of the highlights of my week for sure.

Yeah so everything else is super great! Love you all!

Hermana Means

Week 25 – Starting the New Year

So I have no time to write, again, lo siento.

But hey we had the baptism of Andres and it was amazing. President and Hermana Murphy even came! It was beautiful, and Andres was so excited to receive the Holy Ghost the next day that he was the first one at the chapel, and hour before church started. So yeah he’s pretty awesome and we were excited!

I’m training Hermana Ergueta from Bolivia! She’s super sweet and kind of shy, but the shyness for sure goes away on the mission haha. I’m a little overwhelmed because I want to be the perfect example, so my perfectionism is kicking in again and making me a little stressed. But I’m working on that. I love this work and I love this mission, and I can’t believe that I’m going to spend a whole year as a missionary. I’m a lucky gal.

Anyways I hope everyone had a Happy New Year and I hope that one of your goals is to eat healthy (my Dietetics major kicking in here) and I hope the other goal is to share the gospel with EVERYONE! You never know who is being prepared by the Lord. Love you lots!