Sunday, July 31, 2016

Mi Querida Familia,

I can´t believe that this will be my last letter home! 

So many people wrote me this week that I´ve got almost no time to write, but I just wanted to say thank you so much for every prayer, for every thought, for every email letter and package. I´m so happy for the family that the Lord has given me.

What an honor it has been to be a missionary. =)

Just so you guys are up to date, Wednesday I´ll have my last interview, and Sunday night I´m leaving my sector for the last time to go and spend the night in the mission home. All Monday we´ll be in a meetings and trainings, and then Monday night at 11ish we´ll be boarding the plane. I think we´re scheduled to land Tuesday at noon. =)

I love you all so much. Thank you for the support that you´ve given me as a missionary. 

¡Hasta Martes! =)

Lots of love,
Elder Hales =)

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Mi Querido Familia!

I´m so glad that everyone was able to have an exciting week! Mom, Emily, the wedding sounds like it was such a spiritual experience! I´m so happy for Justin! It feels like yesterday that Emma was just getting married! (That was almost 3 years ago wasn´t it? That is so crazy!) 

Dad, I´m glad that you were able to hold down the fort! But I remember that we had some good ´"men only" weeks haha =) Good bonding time. We never doubted you. ;)

I can´t believe that after today I´ll only have one more time to write you all! It seems like everything is passing by at blurish speeds, I´m really sad to be leaving behind such a great country and people. But if I have learned anything from my service it´s that the work never ends, and I´m sure there is a lot to do back on the northern half of the continent. ;)

This week was really good for us! Our sector is really huge (with the airport just taking up a massive chunk in the middle) so we´ve been trying to ´´sectorize´´ the area by spending days in places where we would normally just spend an hour or two, and we´ve managed to find a bunch of new people to teach! We were also so happy when 4 of our less active families were able to come to church! One of which was Felix Garcia, so I´m so grateful for your prayers and help. When he got there he realized that he had quite a few friends from work and from when he had gone to church in other wards so we were really happy for how the ward showed their love for him.

Our mission has been shrinking quite a bit with all the missionaries going home, and when we had our district meeting there were only 14 missionaries in the whole zone! When I got here to the Kennedy in November, there were 29 missionaries. It just goes to show how the Lord is quickening his work and opening up more and more missions! It´s really an exciting time. =)

Sorry to write so little today, But we spent more time than we had thought in the local art market (I spent quite a bit of money on gifts and souvenirs, but don´t tell Mom ;) ) I can´t believe that next week will be my last email home! How time has flown by!

I love you lots, and I hope that everyone has a great week!

Love, Elder Hales =)
Elder Rojo and Jonathan - Elder Rojo baptized an 8 year old boy

Monday, July 11, 2016

Mi querida Familia! =)

Well it has definitely been an exciting week! Very eventful to say the least. Right now I´m writing you from the bus terminal in Guayaquil because there were more transfers in our zone. (Four missionaries are leaving and two are coming in so they´re closing an area.)  I got to hold onto another telephone and another set of keys for a half hour:)  We were really sad to see a bunch of good missionaries leave, but we´re also excited for the great new missionaries that will be coming in! 

I really enjoyed the temple session on Tuesday night, but it was also very sentimental for me because it´s the last time I´ll be doing a session in the Guayaquil Ecuador Temple. I was looking back on my mission and in total I think I´ve been to a total of 29 sessions. It has definitely been an incredible blessing to have the temple so close, and to have a mission president that really values the temple and its blessings. In the celestial room President Riggins gave a hug to all the missionaries who were going home, and you could tell that he was sad to see so many of his missionaries going home. I also got to say hi to an old companion (Elder Alucema) and it was fun to catch up on old times. I´ve really seen a big change in him. He´s grown a lot spiritually which is always so great to see. =)

The actual zone conference was really good! We talked a lot about how to prepare people for baptism, and how to help them understand the baptism interview questions. President Riggins talked about how this is the only time in our lives where we´ll get to do baptismal interviews for converts. I had never looked at it like that before! He also talked about the importance of planning. With so many missionaries going home, the sectores are going to be even bigger and planning is going to be a much more important part of the week. Some missionaries are going to be working in multi-wards for the first time in mission history! 

The interviews went really well. President didn´t say to much, (I think a lot of what he probably wants to tell me he´ll do in our next interview at the end of July) but it was really nice to sit down with him and then have a conversation with Hermana Riggins as well. Hermana Riggins was a lot more talkative and even gave me some good ideas for gifts, so I´m excited. Next week I´ll go with Elder Call to ´´el marcado artesanal´´ where people come in from all over Ecuador to sell stuff so that will be fun. =)

I just wanted to finish by telling you about a great experience we had with a partial member family last night. Brother Felix Garcia  was baptized 47 years ago in the church (I just want to remind you that the church in Ecuador only has 50 years) so he is one of the oldest members in the whole country! He lives with his wife, two children and 5 grandchildren, and we had an incredible Noche de hogar in their house last night. (That´s family home evening for you gringos haha ;) ) and we felt the spirit so strongly! They decided to come to church next Sunday for the first time in over 40 years! He´s got nephews who are studying at BYU right now, so I´ll have to go look for them next semester. We were just so happy to see how the gospel could plant a new seed of faith in this family. We have our next appointment tomorrow

I hope that everyone has a great week! Isaac and Jacob, I´m so glad that you were able to enjoy EFY, and Mom, what an answer to prayers that you are walking so well! Have a great week!

Elde Hales =)

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Happy 4th of July!!!

Funny story. I had actually forgotten that it was the 4th, until our ward secretary, (an RM that´s been home 12 weeks now) sent us a text message saying happy Independence Day haha.
Dad, I think I mentioned that a big chunk of our sector is the airforce base of Guayaquil. I think of you every time we go into the FAE (Federación Aeria de Ecuador).  Even though I was really little when we lived on base, I still remember you riding home from work on your bike and thinking that I want to be like my dad when I grow up. Good memories! =)

We`ve had a really interesting week, with a couple of highlights.
We got to do two companionship interchanges this week and they were so spiritually uplifting! The first was on Wednesday and I got to go with Elder Call. He´s a great friend of mine who served with me in the office and then had changes from the office to the same zone. (Then about two months later I had changes from the office to the same zone too.) It was just such a spiritual experiance to teach with a good friend. It was a strong testimony of the fact that true friendships are made through service, and especially service to the Lord.
Then on Friday the assistants wanted to do a campanionship interchange with us. To fully understand this story you´ll probably need a little background information. A little over a year ago when I was in Babahoyo with Elder Alucema and they transfered me to Ventanas they put in our old sector 2 new assistants to the President. (There are a total of 4 APs in our mission, two that stay with President Riggins and two that just do inter changes with the other missionaries). They called and asked if they could do an interchange with us. The way things worked out, I got to go and visit my old ward for a day! It was such a great experience to see so many friendly faces, and to see how the members had progressed! Elder Fraser (our assistant) just told me to show him the houses of everyone that Elder Alucema and I had been working with, so it was great to see all the old investigators again. They opened their doors so willingly to us! I sure hope that this time they can receive the fullness of the gospel. =)
This next week should be really fun as well. We´ve got a zone conferance on Wednesday, and then interviews with President Riggins on Friday, so I´m pretty sure before I know it, the week will be over. My last companion and good friend, Elder Norris, is finishing his mission in one week, so that´ll probably make the week fly by as well, He´ll be going home to Germany! (He's from Mississippi but his family moved.)  I hope everything goes well for him.
Have a fantastic week Isaac and Jacob! I´m sure that you´ll both have a blast at EFY! (And Isaac if you don´t enjoy yourself we´ll have a fun little party just you and me to make up for it. =) )
I love you all!
Elder Hales =)

Monday, June 27, 2016

Mi Querida Famila,

I´m so happy to hear that everyone is doing well, and that the MS 100 didn´t have too many casualties;)  I was so happy to hear from both Jacob and Joseph this week too! It sounds like you´ve been keeping busy during the summer vacations! 

Mom, I´m also so excited that you´ve been doing better, and that everything is going well with your foot! That really does make me so happy to hear. =)

It has been an incredible week here in Guayaquil to say the least! My new companion (Elder Rojo de Bolivia) and I have been working really hard meeting the members, making appointments and working hard to find new people to teach. Here are a couple of highlights.

Yesterday we left to do some visits with a 23 year old convert named Andres Moreira. In Preach my Gospel there is a great phrase that says, ´´as you experience the atonement in your lives, your desire to share the gospel increases´´ and he is an incredible evidence of that great truth. Andres would stop and talk to everyone he knew (and this was about 1 in every 3 or 4 people that we would pass by in the streets) and talk to them about how the gospel had changed his life. He was deeply involved in a gang before joining the church. He´ll be leaving for his mission this December! He is such a great example of how the gospel will change lives.

Then on Sunday there was a baptismal service of a precious girl named Odalys who turned 8 yesterday. Her parents are converts who were baptized last November. It was so sweet to see how many people from the ward came to show their support. I was also really surprised that the familia Huayamabe (the family of 4 that got baptized last Saturday) came and showed their support as well.

We had a lot of fun going around the sectors of our area with the church lists of future elders, and we had a lot of success finding less active families. We also found quite a few families whose children or spouses aren't members! It has been a real answer to prayers!

It´s been really fun to work with Elder Rojo. I think I mentioned this last week but he and I are quite similar, and I´m glad that I´ll have such a great last companion. =)

I hope that everyone has a great week! And I also hope that everyone stays busy during the summer breaks! I have really learned the importance of time here in the mission, and I hope that you can all take advantage of the summer. =)

I love you all have a great week!

Elder Hales =) 
Odalys' baptism

View of Jonathan's area

Monday, June 20, 2016

My Dearest Family,

I´m glad that Mom, Dad, and Em were able to make it back from Aunt Betsy´s without any problems, and I´m so glad that Grandpa has been doing better! I made sure to remember him in my prayers last week, and just to be sure, we´ll keep on praying for him in these following weeks too. What a blessing it is to have such great roll models in our parents and in our parents´ parents. =)

I´ve had quite an interesting day so far! At about 11:30 last night the assistants called us and told us about the transfers that would be going on in the Kennedy Area, and a total of 8 of our missionaries are leaving! There were two companionships that cried when we told them that they would be leaving tomorrow, but I guess that´s a good sign of their hard work and dedication. They´re also closing some sectors and putting two brand new missionaries in their old wards. I´ve learned though that prayer and deep breaths are very good stress relievers =)

At 8:00 AM I went and dropped off my companion, Elder García, at the mission office. He´s a good missionary, and I´m proud of him for finishing his mission so well. I´m a little worried about how we´ll do here in the sector because I´ve only been here three weeks, but if we do end up getting lost we´ll have a good excuse to go and contact some new people. =) Then I had to go to the bus terminal to pick up the new missionaries in the zone, and help the two new sisters get to their house. There was a funny moment in the terminal when I had 4 sets of keys, and 4 cell phones while we were waiting for the new missionaries to arrive and claim their new homes! 

Right now I´m with my new companion, an old friend I met in Ventanas whose name is Elder Rojo. He´s from la Cochabamba, Bolivia and I´m really excited to get to work with him. He`s a great worker, teaches the gospel very well, is really organized, and he is a great listener. I think we´ll get along really well! 

And all of that was just today! I don´t even know where to begin with the rest of the week!

I guess I could start with the baptism on Saturday! It was so incredible! The four of them were able to get baptized and have such strong convictions about the Book of Mormon. After the ordinaces a small time was given so that they could share their testimonies and the mother of the family cried. Really the gospel changes lives in such an incredible way! Before they found the gospel, the mother was a pastor in an evangelist church, so it´s been very interesting to see the conversion process in her. She has some really funny questions sometimes, but is always willing to accept answers from the scriptures, and listen to what the Holy Ghost teaches which is never a bad thing. 

Oh! Random side note from Friday. So I´ve officially been endowed for two years now! I can´t believe it! But I just wanted to mention that because on Friday I needed to have an interview with President Riggins for my new recommend. It´ll probably be my only temple recommend that I´ll have in Spanish but it´s really cool! He even did the interview in Spanish just so I could hear the questions in Spanish one time. We have such a fun president. 

I hope that everyone has a great week! I will remember you all in my prayers and I won´t forget about my incredible grandparents either. I´m so glad that Dad´s Grandpa Boyd and Mom´s Grandpa Boyd are doing better and recovering from their accidents! 

Have a fantastic week! 

Love Elder Hales =)

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

My Dear Family,

It sounds like you`ve been having an incredible time in Tennessee! I´m also sure that Aunt Betsy felt all of your love. I`m glad that you were able to do something special for her birthday! I got a small taste of what Emily was probably feeling when I went to Vinces and Ventanas. I can´t believe that was just two weeks ago! It seems like so much has happened since then! 

Speaking of important things happening, we sure have been busy this week! Elder Rasband´s coming could not have been smoother. I was so impressed with all the work that the three missions put into the conference so that everything could be done well. He made sure to get to the meeting early to be able to give all 600 of us missionaries a handshake. It was truly incredible! He talked about a lot of things, but one of his main points that he talked about for several minutes was that he was there to represent President Monson, and he told us multiple times about the love that President Monson feels for the missionaries. It really makes one want to represent the church (and the Savior) well.

I was also so proud of the choir! They sang so well that Elder Rasband turned around after the conference and asked us to all try out for the Mormon tabernacle choir when we got home! It was so nice to know that all our hard work had payed off. We were so happy for the spirit that we could feel after the music as well. It truly was a great experience. 

Then on Sunday Elder Rasband came and talked at our stake conference as well. He gave a heart touching talk about the Savior and how he ministered to everyone one by one. After the conference he took about 45 minutes to give every single person at the conference a handshake and a smile. Everyone was moved deeply. As they were leaving Sister Rasband turned to us, the missionaries, and said "You need to take care of these people´´ through tears. What a powerful testimony!

We`re also working hard with a family that might get baptized this Saturday! If everything goes well there should be 6 baptisms in the whole zone! We`re so excited for all the missionaries. =)

We`ve got to go to an appointment now, but I hope that everything goes well in Tennesse and that you get home safe! 
With lots of love,
Elder Hales