Monday, September 29, 2014

It´s so crazy that I´m writing from Ecuador for the first time. It already feels like I´ve been here for a while, (not that I´m anxious to leave, I think I´ve just settled into the schedule of a mission finally.)
I have no Idea where to start, so I´m just going to try going from Wednesday and hopefully I don´t forget anything. =)
I met my trainer after we wrote letters and got back from the temple! He´s an incredibly fun guy, from inland Peru, and only knows probably 30 words in English, (his favorite thing to say when something doesn´t work is ´fetch´ haha!) At first it was difficult to understand him, but my Spanish has really improved since my first day here, because we can literally only communicate in Spanish. He´s a great missionary that loves to follow the rules like me so we´re keeping a pretty tight agenda.
After a couple more meetings with the missionaries that work in the offices, we had a two and a half hour bus ride to our first area. That was an adventure all by itself, trying to sleep while Transformers 3 was playing in Spanish. (I almost burst out laughing when I heard ´´autobots, Vamanos!!´´ for the first time.)  It´s a pretty small city called Vinces, and we´re in one of the most poor parts of northern Ecuador. Unfortunately that means we don´t have a post office, and our mission is only connected to pouch. That means we can´t send anything back to the states through it, only recieve letters. I was really dissapointed to find that out, but I know this is where the Lord needs me. =)
We were busy at work the next morning. After study and District meeting, we meet with the Ward mission leader, and went to visit the less active members, and the recent converts. Our sector was just opened in the mission, so we didn´t have anywhere to start with investigators, but Elder Lizana and I are hard at work trying to find 15 familias to teach (that´s the mission standard of excellence) and so far we have 5 families that we´re teaching, and three of them have baptismal dates! The biggest thing that´s keeping people from baptism here is the Law of Chastity, because almost no one here is officially married in a civil service. That´s probably the biggest test of faith for the people here, but we´ve found that the best approach is to teach the people how families can be eternal if we do what the Lord commands.
The language is coming a little more ever day, and on Saturday I even got to take the lead in teaching about the restoration a couple of times and gave the Baptismal challenge! Beatriz and her daughter Katey have a date set for the 18th of October, but that´s going to have to change because they didn´t come to church yesterday. We knocked on their door for half an hour in three ten minute intervals, but they didn´t answer and we were devastated. Hopefully we´ll be able to contact them today, because they seemed really interested.
Church was great yesterday, and I´m officially the new branch pianist (I´m sure your so proud mom ;) ) and we had three of our five familias at church!
Things are going well here, and I´ve already seen so many miracles. Thanks so much for all your love! 
Elder Hales

Thursday, September 25, 2014

i Hola Familia!

I'm doing very well here in Ecuador.  It is crazy that I'm finally out in the field.  I'm just writing to say that I'm safe here in the mission home.  Tomorrow will be a really busy day.  We're doing an 8:00 morning session and then I'm meeting my companero for the first time.  Our president is really nice. Both he and his wife picked us up at the airport!

I'm so excited to be here, getting to teach people! I hope things are going well back home and that everyone is feeling better.

I love you guys so much!  Good luck this week, and I'll see you next Monday.
Elder Hales

We've got a couple more minutes to write, so I thought I'd just add a couple more sentences.  The people here seem really loving and really kind.  We've been talking about mission goals and we have a goal to always have 15 familias we're teaching at any given time, that are preparing for baptism. I've only been here for 5 hours, but I'm learning so much.  Hasta Lunes!

Thanks for all you do to support me.  Mom, could you send me a French toast recipe?
Jonathan with his new companion
Jonathan with President and Sister Riggins

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Hola Familia!
Wow! This week was jam packed with lot´s of incredible things! It´s really weird thinking that today is the last time I´m going to email you from the CCM, but If I want to remember everything I should probably start at the beginning (ha ha).

So last Tuesday right after we emailed I went to check the mail and got four letters! Two from Tennessee, and two from Mom (one of which was dated August 12th, which is crazy that it took so long to get here!) There´s another Elder in our district with the first name of Jonathan, and when he saw there were four letters in the mailbox and that the top one was for a Jonathan he was pretty excited, but not as much as I was because I got every letter. ;) We watched a video of a talk Elder Holland gave to the Provo MTC last year, and it was really incredible. I can´t believe that he was at the Corner Canyon Football game! And I´m sure he was very impressed with Jacob´s singing. ;) Tonight we have a devotional that´s being broadcast live from Provo, so I have my fingers crossed it will be another general authority. =) On Thursday, Elder Bagley and I had a really special experience with one of our investigators. We have two teachers here, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, and both pretend to be investigators for us for one of our hours of instruction. Our morning investigator´s baptism date is this week, and he brought in the actual person he was pretending to be, his father-in-law. So we got to meet the actual investigator, and his whole family which was really cool.

This Sunday was interesting as well, very bitter sweet. I was asked to give a talk in sacrament meeting, which is always a little scary because everyone writes a talk, but we don´t know who´s speaking until the actual meeting.

The first week we got here our whole district was a little frazzled and lost in our district games we play on PDay as expected, but the district across the hall which had been there for one week longer than us pretty much became our older brother district for the time we were here (which is kind of a weird concept because I was actually older than a lot of the Elders in 14A, but they seemed older because they had been here longer.) These 14A missionaries have now left for their missions. Hopefully we´ll be able to see them again because a lot of them are going to go to BYU after their service, and their whole district minus like two Elders are going to a Salt Lake City Spanish speaking mission! So if you see an Elder Bombauk, Matson, Wheeler, Bennet,  Hoopes, or Meadows, then you should definitely say hello. =)

Then yesterday was the Mexico equivalent of the Fourth of July, and saying they like to party here is a bit of an understatement! We had a special ´´cultural building activity´´ where we got to watch a show put on by a group of Spanish dancers for an hour and a half, and that was really interesting and fun. But we didn´t exactly get much sleep last night (ha ha). But it was a nice change to the routine here. I honestly don´t know how Dad was able to stay in the MTC for 12 weeks! (ha ha)

Today has been a blast so far though, because we got to go to the temple in the morning! (That´s why I´m writing so much later today) It was such a good experience, even though the actual temple is closed right now. We got to take a tour of the visitors center, and at the distribution center I was able to get a Spanish Primary book, and a Mayan copy of the Book of Mormon! I was so excited! This is by far the best four dollars I´ve ever spent. =D Our afternoon teacher, Hermano Silva, came with his novia to say hola, and get a few pictures with us at the temple. I was actually pretty happy that Bedstamor sent me the pictures of the Sun and Moon pyramids because they sort of modeled the temple to look like those. 

I´m so happy things are going well at home! Best of luck! See you next week in Ecuador!
Elder Hales
Jonathan's district in front of the Mexico City Temple

 A tree full of bees

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Hola Familia!

Mom I got your letter this week! Thank you so much. It was a really fun surprise! It´s the first one I´ve gotten here from back home so like I was expecting the mail is pretty slow. It´s so crazy to think that after today I only have one more P-day before I´m in the field!

I was very excited to hear that in the world of athletics the Hales family was killing it this week. Joseph way to go on scoring a goal! Mom told me that you just dribbled through all the defenders and shot! I scored my first goal here as well this week, haha ;) I´ve actually been pretty impressed with how my soccer has been improving. Isaac congratulations on your bike race! That´s so cool that you were able to do that, especially since you were competing in the intermediate division! I´m so proud of you! And way to go Jacob on getting on the podium at your race. And just think this is only the beginning of the season, there´s only room to grow, and I´m sure all your coaches were really impressed. 

It poured this week here, so much that they canceled gym time one day because there were just too many people in the gym because no one could go outside. Naturally my comp wanted to go outside and play on the playground by our house left over from the days when the CCM was still a school. (Don´t worry I got a good picture ;) ) The wet season is apparently just starting, so I´ll arrive in Ecuador just in time to use my rain boots haha.

This week was pretty good for Spanish. I was able to memorize five scriptures, and I can pretty much understand everything our teachers are saying in class now, so that´s good. And I think my biggest accomplishment was that I finally learned how to roll my erres (the spanish double r rolls) after like two weeks of practice! Everyone in my district was also pretty pleased, because now I´ve stopped trying to say words like, arripentamiento, ferril carril, and barrio over and over again haha. 

That´s so cool, Mom, that you were able to go to the Salt Lake Temple this week. Every Sunday we watch a video here and three weeks ago we watched one about the construction of the Salt Lake Temple. It´s really crazy how much work went into the temple. I can´t imagine the faith it would take to start over again after 9 years of work, and uproot the entire foundation.

Elder Bagley and I had our first baptism commitment yesterday, and if it felt that exciting with a fake investigator I can´t imagine what it would be like with a real one! It´s crazy thinking that in fourteen days I´ll be flying out of here. I don´t have an official day yet, but it should be either the 22nd or the 23rd. 

I love you guys so much! Good luck in school, and at work, and at home, (and in your piano practicing ;) )
Elder Hales

P.S Dad is really doing well with the scriptures I´ve sent him, how about this one,

´´Porque no me averg├╝envo del evangelio de Cristo, Porque es poder de Dios para salvacion a todo aquel que cree. Al Judio primeramente, y tambien al griego.´´ 

PPS I was really excited to hear about BYU Football! That´s such an incredible victory! Too bad we aren´t playing Utah this year.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Hola Familia!
So many fun and interesting things are happening here. =) 
This Wednesday I went to the Post Office and there was a little notecard with Spanish vocabulary on it, and Hermana Wainwright´s (Jessica From Band) name was on the top corner, so I thought I would just give it to her in the comador at dinner. When I went and talked to her, her companion looked at my name tag and saw my name was Elder Hales. She then asked me if I knew a Kyle Mahony who served a mission in Oklahoma. It turns out that Kyle was the Elder that taught the lessons and baptized this family. Now she´s going on a mission! It´s such a small world in the gospel sometimes. Her name is Hermana Bradshaw. =D We´re keeping really busy, but our district has also started a P-Day olympics, including white board curling, pen high jumping, and a couple of other track and field events haha.It´s pretty much a blast, and don´t worry I got pictures. :) 

It´s weird thinking that today I´m officially halfway done with my time in the CCM.  I´ve gotten into a pretty good rhythm now. The food here is pretty good, it´s cafeteria style Mexican food, but there are always sandwiches everyday if you´d rather have that, and every Tuesday is pizza night from Costco, so that just makes P-Day even better. =)

Elder Waters used to run cross country in high school and convinced our casa to start an 8 minute abs workout every night, so we´re pretty sore in the mornings, but it´s a lot of fun, and everyone gets to know each other better because talking helps you take your mind off of planks. ;) 

Sundays are always a blast here, (except there´s a little tension during Sacrament Meeting, because no one knows who´s going to be speaking. President Pratt came and visited our Branch Sacrament Meeting last week haha) but we always have two devotionals that are so great, one by the Mission President in person, and then we watch a video of one of the apostle´s speaking to missionaries in the Provo MTC. They tell us to take really good notes, because what the brothers say in the MTC is not in the public church domain. They´re always so powerful! 

Things feel familiar here, like the bathrooms and the branch buildings are just like every church building in the United States, but at the same time there are constant reminders of how far away you are from home. I think the biggest one is probably the massive Mexico flag that hangs in the center of the CCM. It´s hard sometimes, but the Lord has confirmed to me so many times that this is what I´m supposed to be doing.
 In Mexico, Dora speaks English:)
The white board curling game score