Sunday, December 27, 2015

My Dear Family!

By far the best Birthday gift I was able to get was hearing from everyone in the family! Thank you so much for remembering me. =)

This week has been jammed packed with so many things. It feels like it´s been two or three weeks. We were so grateful that the Christmas activity was able to go so well. 

On Tuesday we went to the temple and did initiatory work, Whenever we go to the temple we have always just done the session, so it was a really interesting change (especially to hear it in Spanish for the first time). Then we went to our stake center and waited for all the other missionaries to arrive for the ´´check in´´/first service project which was cleaning the chapels and stake centers in Guayaquil and Durán (another big city that is just across the river from Guayaquil). Then we got together that night and went caroling as a mission to different sectors in Guayaquil which finished with caroling at the temple for the temple missionaries. And that was just the first day!

Then we started Wednesday with visits to nursing homes, and hospital clinics, all leading up to the big mission wide dinner/talent show which was so great. There really is so much talent that the members of the church have. We just have to be more courageous about letting our light shine and not hide it under a bush. =) Our zone did a really fun number where we handed out presents to the other missionaries sitting watching the show. Then our zone leader dressed up as the Grinch and took the presents away. The missionaries talk to Mister Grinch and he gets converted to the Gospel. It was so funny! =) 

We had a really great Christmas as well. Our mission president invited us over for lunch and also to call our families, and then shared a little Christmas message with us. It was a really great experience and talking with all of you really made Christmas so special. =) Dad, I was really grateful for your prayer. Thank you so much for all that you and Mom do for me as a missionary.

As for my birthday, I was so happy with all the great things that you sent! Thank you so much for sending me everything I asked for, as well as some great treats. =) I can already talk a little bit in Portuguese (we live with a missionary from Brazil) and so I´m hoping that with the Portuguese Book of Mormon I´ll learn a lot faster. =) For lunch we went and got Pizza Hut with the other elders in the office and I felt very appreciated. 

Mom, Dad, I´m also excited for your 25th wedding anniversary tomorrow! 25 years is a long time. Really you have set such a great example of a loving family. I´m so happy for all the love that I have felt in our home. Even far away I have felt that love so strongly. Thank you!

I hope everyone has a great week, and a fantastic New Year! 2015 really flew by, and I´m excited for everything that 2016 will bring. =)

I love you all! 
Elder Hales =)   
Baptism of Ismael Saenz


Saturday, December 19, 2015

My Dear Family,

It sounds like everyone is enjoying the holiday season, and that there are lots of preparations going into Christmas! We´re also really busy here because we´ll have our big Christmas party this next Tuesday and Wednesday. It should be a great time, and I hope that all the zones enjoy the service activities. We are planning on going caroling and also doing hospital visits here in Guayaquil. It sounds like it will be a lot of great opportunities to lend a hand this Christmas. 

Mom, I´m so happy to hear that the Messiah went well. Singing is such a powerful way to invite the spirit. Also that´s so great that you get to go to the Mormon Tabernacle Christmas Concert! I know that you´ll enjoy yourself and how fun to get to do something with Holley! 

I´m also happy that the family could enjoy the new Star Wars movie! Isaac looked so happy in that picture that you sent! Right next to our house there´s a giant billboard promoting the new movie, and I admit that I think about Isaac when I see it hahaha =)

I have grown to have a powerful testimony that the world is extremely small in the gospel. I can´t believe that Elder Zaballos came and spoke at stake conference! His daughter is the missionary that taught my old companion, Elder Alucema, from Copiapo, Chile. This truly is a gospel that unites us with the entire world.

This week we have been working really hard in the office doing all the last minute plans for Christmas and the decorations for the big dinner as a mission, but we´ve also been working really hard in our sector. Tonight we´re going to have a baptismal service! We´re so excited, and the members are also really happy and supportive which is great. His name is Ismael Saenz. He works in construction, and has such a big heart for helping others. I´ll definitely send you pictures of the baptism. =) 

Other than that we´ve just been busy working on Christmas, I´ve personally been working on all the December baptismal records as well so I´ve been staying busy. =)

I hope you have the best week! I´ll be thinking about you all and I can´t wait to talk to you this next week! 

Elder Hales =)

Saturday, December 12, 2015

My Dear Family,

I was so happy to hear that everyone has been enjoying the holiday season, I can´t believe that Christmas is just the week after next! 
Mom, how did your organ recital go? Did you finish with the Messiah?

I´m glad that Jacob also had the chance to sing at temple square! What a treat! I was also so impressed with the music in the Christmas Devotional. Really it was so incredible all the songs that they sang. I especially liked Elder Bednar´s message about Christ being the Light of the World. That is so important that we can remember that the light in our lives comes from the Lord and His love for us. =) 

Things have been very busy here as well. This week we finished all the zone conferences which has been a huge relief. It was great though to be able to see all my friends from the mission when they came for their respective zone conferences. The most notable was probably seeing Elder Bagley, my MTC companion. Just how the transfers have been I haven´t seen him in a little more than a year and it was so great to catch up a little bit. The biggest blessing was probably being able to go to the temple with all the zones (6 time in the last two weeks). But I´ll also be happy to catch up on some sleep as well, seeing as they were all 6 AM sessions. haha =)

But now that the zone conferences are all over we´ve had to put all our energy into planning the Christmas activity. It should be really fun for the missionaries. We´ve been planning a lot of good things to do, but they all require a lot of coordination which means a lot of planning on our part. So far all the missionaries are going to arrive in Guayaquil the 22nd, and do service projects in the afternoon, and at night go caroling with the zones in Guayaquil. Then the morning of the 23rd there will be hospital visits and initiatory work in the temple. The day will finish with a Christmas dinner for the whole mission, and a devotional from President Riggins. Sounds exciting! 

I don´t know if I told you this or not, but my friend, Elder Rydalch, (the Utah basketball player) became an assistant to the president a couple of weeks a ago and stays with us in the mission home from time to time. We´ve been having a lot of fun talking about the BYU vs Utah game. It´ll be a really interesting game. Emily, that´s also great news that you´ll get to go see the game! You´ll have to send me some pictures! =) 

Also I wanted to thank you because I got both of the packages that you sent this week! The reason that it took so long to get here is because they sent it to Ventanas, and the package got there on Tuesday, but I had an emergency transfer to Guayaquil on Monday. It was actually in the country a long time ago, but it got to me this week, (just in time for the 12 days of Christmas!) Thank you so much for thinking about me. I´m excited for the chance to call as well! It should be a great Christmas. =)

I hope everyone has a great week! Thank you for your prayers, and know that I´m also praying for you everyday. I love you all! =)

Elder Hales.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

My Dear Family,

I was so happy to read all of the great things that you all did for Thanksgiving, and I´m also happy that everyone is in the Christmas spirit! I didn´t hear that much about it but I´m sure that Jacob also had a fantastic birthday. I can´t believe that he´s already 17. When did that happen? It´s so crazy for me that 2015 is already coming to an end as well! 

Emily, I´m so proud that you´ll be starting your student teaching! I think that´s so great, and when I get back you´ll probably be a full time math teacher! It´s an exciting time =)

Mom, I´m also so happy to hear that you´ll be having your Organ recital!That is such an accomplishment and you 
are an incredible musician. =) 

Isaac, that´s also so impressive to me that you finished your eagle project! You did something very important that will make a long impact on the city of Draper and I´m proud of you. =) 

Joseph sounds like he is enjoying life too, and I´m happy that everyone is doing better from the flu. The flu season is about to start here too, so fingers crossed that there aren´t too many bugs going around. 

Being in the office has been a very big change. I don´t think I´ve had such a busy week in my whole time here! I´m the Historidor, which means my main job is working with the baptismal records. Every Monday all the missionaries that had baptisms scan me a copy of the record, and then I have to type it into the system. That´s the most important thing I do, but I also work with sending all the references of the mission to the right sectors, and making the graphs and statistics of the mission. But we get to do a little bit of everything because sometimes the finance guy needs to got to the bank and I´ll go with him, or the materials secretary needs someone to help him pick up the mail, and we´ll go help him carry the packages. We are in the office from 11-5 usually and in our sector from 5-9. 

This week has been even more busy because all of the zones from the mission having been coming to Guayaquil for zone conferences. I guess I didn´t really think about all the behind the scenes stuff that goes on to help the zone conferences, but we were helping with the breakfast, and serving the lunches, as well as teaching a little bit about the new reference manager that there is in the church website. The zone conferences are going to continue all next week as well, so we´ll stay busy. =)

There are a lot of good things about being in the office too, though, One is living in the mission home which has hot water. haha =) And I´m happy that I have this small chance to serve my fellow missionaries. 

As for a ponderize scripture, I really enjoy the verse in Joshua 24:15. It has a great family element. =)

I hope you all have a fantastic week, and thank you for helping me get into the Christmas spirit a little more. I hope that everything goes well for everyone, 

Lots of love,
Elder Hales =)

Monday, November 30, 2015

Dear Family,
Today was a very different day to say the least, haha. I just have a few minutes to say that I got transferred today!

We were in the supermarket when the assistants called us. Now I'll be working in the mission office as the historiador de la mision. 

Everything is all right, but now my Pday will be Saturday, just so you all know. 

I love you!

Elder Hales 

Monday, November 23, 2015

Dear Family,

Sounds like everyone had a great week! I´m happy to hear that Joseph won his soccer game! And Isaac, seeing your pictures from your eagle project really impresses me! I don´t know if I ever told you, but one time for Broadway Kids we were building a space ship and for the longest time I couldn´t figure out why everyone else could get the screws to go in so quickly. I was having such a hard time until someone helped me realize I had the drill in reverse. hahaha =)

Also it sounds like Jacob is doing very well on the piano! I love that Sleigh Ride duet, and I´m happy that you´ve already gotten a good amount of experience playing hymns for the congregation. I miss singing the hymns a little because I´m always playing, but I´m also happy that I can share my talents with the people here. =)

I also heard that Sarah Chugg got her mission call! That´s so great and I´m sure she will have a great time in Maryland! Missions are so great. Has any one heard how Lizzy is doing in Boise? Or how Christoffer has been doing? 

The Primary program Sunday was very special, and the children did a great job! I was so happy to see so many of the parents come to church. Our Primary president has done such a great job of making all the children feel important, especially those whose parents are less active. There were three big families of less active members that went to church to hear the Primary. 

Friday was a bit of a hectic day as well because the assistants came and talked to us about the importance of being organized and using the Book of Mormon in every part of the work - to find people, to ask for references, to teach the lessons, to answer questions. It was a great reminder that the Book of Mormon is our special witness of Christ and His mission. The reason it was a bit of a hectic day is because I was in a trio with one of the assistants and with our new zone leader. But luckily the people who we were visiting were all in their homes and we were able to help a lot of people. =)

The people here are very happy because Ecuador has been playing so well in the world cup qualifiers. I don´t know if you´ve heard, but we beat Argentina, Colombia, Venezuela, and Uruguay, and haven´t lost yet! Everyone is very excited, and at least 1 out of three of our lessons starts with someone asking us if we´ve seen the latest Ecuador soccer game.

Other than that everything is pretty normal here, and I hope that you all enjoy your Thanksgiving this week! I´ll be thinking about you all on Thursday and counting my blessings to have been born into such a great family. (And that definitely includes extended family =) )

Lots of Love!
Elder Hales
Jonathan and the cute Primary kids in his branch after their Primary Program

Monday, November 16, 2015

My Dear Family, =)

It sounds like everyone had a great fun filled week! I was excited to hear about Joseph´s soccer game, and Isaac I am so proud of your eagle progect! Really that´s so incredible, and I know that you´ll be doing a great service for the community. It sounds like Jacob also enjoyed his date, and I´m glad that he was able to make such great use out of mine and Dad´s clothes. haha =)

To get the suspense out of the way, we were not transfered and it looks like we´ll be staying in Ventanas until at least mid December, which is actually really good because I hadn´t thought about what the Primary would do if I had been transferred, because this next week is the Primary program. The children have been working so hard, and our Primary president has been so great in involving the children whose parents are less active. This next Sunday will be a great chance for them to remember the importance of coming to church. We´re all really excited! =)

The only sad news is that our great zone leader, Elder Nelson, did get transfered. He was in Ventanas for almost 7 months, so the zone will definately feel different without him. Later today we´ll find out who our new zone leader is. It should be exciting!  

Elder Cari is also happy that he is officially a trained missionary! We had a meeting with President Riggins, his wife, and the assistants for all the missionaries that were finishing their training and it was such a great meeting. There were so many insights about how to teach with more spiritual power, and how to turn all the everyday moments into opportunities to find someone to teach the gospel. One of the pearls was what our president showed us how to use pictures and the pamphlets in our teaching. Elder Uceda (our area president) told us that Latinos don´t like to read very much, but that they have great imaginations. One of the ways to take advantage of that is by using the tools that we have been given (pictures, videos, that sort of thing) to try and invite the spirit. It made me think of my great missionary sister who always takes small moments to share videos, or messages with her friends. =)

I was happy that I was not transferred because I feel like there is still some work that needs to be done here in Ventanas. It has truly been a great experience to be able to serve others here in this district, and try to help them prepare to be a stake. I hope that everyone has a great week, and that the weather isn´t too cold. We´re about to start the rainy season, and everyone is very anxious for how the city will hold up with the predicted heavy rain storms. I´ll keep you updated about any fun weather stories haha =)

Stay safe, and have a great week!

Elder Hales =)
kitchen/eating area

the room where the missionaries study - this room also holds two wardrobes where the other missionaries living with Jonathan keep their clothes

Monday, November 9, 2015

My Dear Family, =)

Sounds like everyone had a busy week! Mom, I don´t know if I´ve ever told you, but it is so incredible all the things you do! I´m so proud of how well you balance everything. You are such a great example for me =)

How exciting to go to a Spanish branch! For me, the hardest words to remember in English are the gospel terms, because those are the words you say most often, and  I was sad to realize that I don´t really remember the words to the English hymns very well anymore, but I´m glad that you could enjoy singing in Spanish. =) I´m also glad that Emma´s baby is doing so well, but I still wish they would have named him Robin, so his name could be Robin Banks hahaha =)

The ´´Fiestas de Ventanas´´ are going strong, with the largest parties/parades being tomorrow. We´re not sure yet but we might not be able to go outside past 7 PM. Basically the whole city shuts down tomorrow, so we´ll see how productive it will be. It has actually been calmer than I thought, probably because our new house isn´t in the center of the city, but closer to the church  which is nice. Our new house is newer than our other house, but I feel bad about having to leave so suddenly. The zone leaders called us last Saturday and told us we had to move on Monday. The owner of our old house was very sad, and told us that the missionaries had lived in that house for 30 years now. It´s all very strange how everything happened so fast, and  I hope there aren´t any hard feelings.

Here in Sibimbe we´ve been working really hard, and Elder Cari is really excited because this is his last week of training. After this next week he´ll officially be a graduated missinonary! Our mission president has been having the missionaries that finish training start to train other brand new missionaries, and Elder Cari is a little worried that next week he´ll get a new companion straight from the MTC, but we´ll just have to wait and see. =)
One way or another we´ll be going to Guayaquil this week or the next, for transfers or for Elder Cari´s meeting with president for missionaries that just finished training. It´s so crazy for me how fast time passes sometimes!

I´m glad that everyone is well, and I hope that you all have fantastic weeks!  Know that you´re in my prayers =)

Elder Hales
When Jonathan and his companion moved, they left the refrigerator outside for a while hoping these big blocks of ice would melt.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Hola Familia! =)

I am so proud of my great family! Really everyone is so incredible! Isaac, I`m proud of you for running a half marathon! That is so impressive bud! You sure look different than since I left, but I was looking at some pictures of when I just left, and I think I look pretty different too haha. Jacob, great job for riding in the state mountain bike tournament with a sore knee! Really that is such an honor to be riding in varsity, and I`m so proud of all your training. =) Joseph! I`m proud of you for finishing your great soccer season! From what I heard you guys all had some great victories, and I`m happy that you`re doing well.=)

This week has been very interesting and exciting for us here! 
Friday there was a fun activity that the Elders Quorom had - a barbeque on the shore of the river, Ventanas. They were a little dissappointed that more members didn`t come, and I know there was a lot of barbeque that was left over, but they`re still building their confidence with doing activities, and I think it was a great success. 

I remember reading last year that for Halloween Emily and her companion switched name tags, and I thought that was such a fun idea. It was very funny to me and Elder Cari that not a single member noticed the whole day that I was wearing my companion`s name tag haha. =) We also had a lot of fun passing out 5 cent candies to the children in the street. =) But no one here really celebrates Halloween. They just know what it is from American television. The real news is that the national day of Ventanas started yesterday and goes until the 10th of November.  They're having 10 days of parties and parades! Everyone is excited and doing so many things. As for today (Dia de los muertos) the only difference is that it`s been harder to find an open cyber spot because everything is closed. 

The biggest news is that on Saturday night our zone leaders called us and said that Sunday we needed to make all the arrangements so that we could move to a new house today. That was what we did this morning. The house is a lot nicer, but the members that we were living with were very sad. I also felt bad that it was such short notice, and I hope that there are no hurt feelings. So we`ve spent most of our day today moving in. 

Dad, the day that they gave me for a release date was July 28th, but that was what they said on the day we got here to Ecuador and I`ve heard that those dates are not always the exact date that one leaves. It could be a week or two later. They don`t give exact days until you`re about a month before finishing from what I`ve heard. Sorry if that doesn`t help much!

I hope you have a great week everyone. Remember that I love you and that you`re in my prayers! =)

Lots of Love,
Elder Hales =)

Monday, October 26, 2015

Hola Querida Familia!

Wow! I thought that this was going to be a normal week, but it turned out to be full of some interesting twists and turns!

I´m glad that Dad was able to get home okay, how strange that he had a problem with his passport, but I´m glad that everything worked out okay and that Dad was able to have a good sense of humor about it all. There´s a Spanish phrase that applies, ´´el que nada hace, nada teme´´ or, he that does nothing, fears nothing. But I´m glad that Dad had the chance to help so many people. Really the Gospel is something that links us with the whole world, and I´m so grateful for the help you could give!

Here on Tuesday we had a surprise visit from President Riggins! He interviewed everyone and talked a lot about how he wants to help Ventanas become a stake before he finishes his service as a mission president. There is still a lot that needs to happen before that can take place, but he helped us see the vision a little better. I´m excited to try some of the things that he taught us.

Then on Friday I was with a another elder in a companionship interchange. Then suddenly at like 6:30 at night, Elder Peralta just starting breaking out with little bumps and blisters all over his face and neck. It turns out that he had an allergic reaction to the crab we ate for lunch! We had to run to the pharmacy and call the mission nurses but the poor guy just has two weeks in the mission field and did not have the best time in his first time out of his sector. But on the bright side, he´s doing a lot better now, and knows not to eat any more crab. haha

The rains started this week (I think 10 days ago we had our first real rain) and the government is really worried about this being a year of unusually strong rains. (Usually they don´t start until the end of December.) They´re so worried that now all the schools have classes on Saturdays to finish the school year hopefully before there are any floods. No one is happy about having school on Saturdays, and I can only imagine the uproars there would be in the United States if anyone ever thought about making school on Saturdays hahaha. =) Hopefully we´ll be able to keep dry, but I´ve started walking around with my umbrella just in case. =)

On Saturday we had our first activity in the branch in almost over a year. Unfortunatley not many people came, but we´re trying to help them do more activities and hopefully this was the first of more to come. =) Also we learned how to make a very delicious Ecuadorian cake called ´´torta de tres leches´´ with a less active member. She really liked the activity, and wants to come back to the church! So I would say it was a success =)

That´s pretty much all from me this week, and I hope that everyone is doing well, and enjoys their Halloween! Here the big event will be on Sunday, November first, but it´s more like Memorial Day than Halloween. I´ll keep you all filled in =)

I love you all and hope you have a great week!

Elder Hales =)
Serving a cake at the branch FHE - Jonathan with Elder Cari

Monday, October 19, 2015

Hola Familia!

It sounds like everyone had a great and busy week! Dad, it´s great to hear from you in Honduras, and I´m glad that you´re doing well. I hope you know that all my brothers wrote me and said that they were missing you! 

Joseph, I was so happy to hear about your soccer tournament! Really that´s so great, and I´m so happy for you! =) It sounds like Isaac is really busy with school and his training, and I´m sure that Jacob is really excited for state mountin biking! So many fun things coming up!

As far as moving goes, we did not end up moving, but that is an incredibly interesting story. haha =) So our zone leaders did end up changing houses, and we helped all of them move everything from their third story house into their new house. The new house is really nice, but we were all really sore from lowering the bookcases and the refrigerators. Then two days later, they called us again and told us that in the end, the owner of the new house declined the contract, and we moved everything back to their old house. It was pretty funny, but I think they are planning on trying to talk to the owner again, so we´ll see if we end up moving them back in these next few days. 

We went to Catarama twice this week too (about 45 minutes by bus), once for an interview and once for the baptism on Saturday. So we got there for the baptismal service, and there were like 20 members with buckets taking water from a well to go fill up the Baptismal font. It turns out the water went out in the chapel (That actually happens quite a bit here) but they were determined to have a baptism!

The man who got baptized asked if I could perform the ordinance, and when we got in the water. It was probably just up to our knees. We tried doing the baptism twice the normal way, and there just was not enough water. The poor guy was soaking wet and we tried for a third time. This time we just had him sit down in the font and then lay back. It was pretty much the most unique baptism I think I´ll ever see, but the man was really content, and his family (all members) were so happy. =)

I think this next week will be completely normal with no traveling, and no special meetings, so Elder Cari and I will take full advantage to find members. I can´t believe that he finishes his training in just three more weeks! He´s a little nervous because he thinks I´ll leave when his training is done, but I think he´s more prepared than he thinks he is.

I hope that everything goes well for you this week! And I hope that everyone avoids accidents! Jacob your crash sounded really painful.

I love you all!
Elder Hales =)

Monday, October 12, 2015

Querida familia,

Thank you for all your letters! I felt so loved today as I read all your emails. 

I don´t think I explained the situation very well in my last letter. We´re actually still living in the same house for right now, but no one is sure for how long that will be. There is a small rich suburb that´s about 5 minutes outside of Ventanas called Loma Grande, and a member invited the Elders to change houses because the house there is quite nice, but if they leave we would need to close one house in the zone, and everyone voted that it be our house because it is the oldest, but the mission financial secretary is still trying to work everything out with the house contracts and everything, so no one has moved anywhere yet. 

I´m glad that BYU has been able to play so well inspite of the difficulties! I think it is so fun to watch sports when both teams play well, (but your team plays just a little bit better. =) ) I saw my friend, Elder Rydalch (the Utah basketball player) and he made sure to let me know that Utah football is also doing very well. Next year when we play I´m sure it will be a great game!

Mom, I´m glad you were able to enjoy the BYU Homecoming Spectacular. It must have been so great to run into an old friend. It´s funny how the things like going to BYU shows, or going to sporting games as a family were things that sometimes I didn´t want to do, but now are some of the things that one misses most. I feel so blessed for living in such a loving family. Also Jacob I´m so proud of you for learning your Concerto! That is really such a great accomplishment! I would love to hear it when I get home. =) 

Dad, that´s so exciting htat you´re going to Honduras next week! I know you will have a great time, but that you will also be sorely missed at home. I hope that you have a great flight and that everything goes okay. Espero que tengas mucha salud y suerte. =)

This last week they called us on Wednesday and told us we had to be in Guayaquil at 9 AM for a meeting with President and all the other missionaries who are training or being trained. We did more practices with the assistants, and then we all came together and talked about teaching simply and learning the simple stuff really well. It was a great reminder about the fundamentals of the gospel. When we got back we were all pretty tired, but we enjoyed the training. I can´t believe that in one more month Elder Cari will be done with his training. Really the time has gone by very quickly.

A week ago our primary president asked me if I could play the piano during the primary program at the end of November and I said, "Of course. No problem." Yesterday was the first practice. It was a little funny hearing the Primary songs in Spanish, (they add beats and notes because the Spanish words are longer haha =) ) but we had a good time. The children don´t really know how to sing on pitch, but they sing very loud and confidently which is very good because there are only 8 of them. I´m sure though that their parents will love the program. =)

I´m so glad that I have a great family like you all, and I hope that everyone is enjoying themselves. I love you all and hope you have a great week!
Elder Hales =)

Monday, October 5, 2015

Hola Familia!
Papá! Tu Español es muy bueno, y me encanta que te estés esforzando por comunicar. Eso es lo mas importante. ¡Yo sé que serás una gran bendición para las personas que te necesitan en Honduras!

We had a great time at the temple and zone conference, and our president talked to us a lot about the importance of baptism. He read to us 2 Nephi 2:5. In English it just says, cast off, or thrust out or something, but in Spanish the translation is ``desarraigado`` ``desterrado`` and ``desdichados`` which literally means uprooted, or thrust out of the earth. He talked about how the fall cut us off from the presence of God, and we were uprooted from him. Being ``born again´´ is the only way that we can be readmitted into his presence. It was quite a deep doctrinal conference. Elder Cari and I got chosen to do a practice out of the four zones that were there, and he was pretty nervous, but he did just fine and was able to settle his nerves about his teaching skills which was really great.

We got home late Friday night, and Saturday and Sunday we had the conference. Luckily on Saturday we got to listen to the conference in English! I was so happy! It just feels like a little piece of home getting to hear the familiar voices. Sunday we had to listen in Spanish because our district center is pretty small, but it all worked out okay. I actually could understand it all without any problem, and I thought it was a great blessing that I have had so many companions that have been willing to help me with my Spanish. 

One of my favorite gems from conference was when President Uchtdorf talked about having personal interviews with yourself about prayer. I think that and the advice that Elder Lawrence gave about praying and asking the Spirit to tell you what you need to change to be able to progress will be a great aspect to our daily lives. Also ponderizing sounds so fun! I started this week with President Monson´s scripture in 1 Timothy about being examples of the believers in word, conversation, love, spirit, faith and purity. Such a beautiful goal to strive for. =)

There were a lot of changes in the zone last night, and we`re waiting for the new missionaries to get here. Because of all the changes, we`re actually going to have to move houses! So sorry to be a little short today, but we have to go pack! Next week I`ll be sure to send you lots of pictures of our new place!

I love you all and hope you have great weeks! 
Elder Hales =)

Monday, September 28, 2015

Hola Familia!

I´m glad to hear that everything is getting back to normal, and that all is well in zion. =) I was really surprised to hear about Bishop Crump! He really is such a loving person, and I remember countless activites that he would go out of his way to be there and support us. For me, Bishop Crump is an outstanding example of magnifying his calling. I still can´t belive that it has been five years already. But I´m also sure that Bishop Felts is already working extremely hard and that the ward will keep growing strong.

We really enjoyed our conference with Elder Calderon, He talked a lot about our manner of teaching, and even practiced teaching with us. You could tell that all his suggestions were heartfelt and that he really wanted us to improve in our ability to bring people to Christ. One of the gems that I took away from his teaching is that to teach with the spirit, we must teach with His attributes. We talked about how the spirit always uplifts and edifies, invites and persuades us as He teaches. Also the Spirit teaches to each of us individually depending on our needs and experiences. I´m excited to try a couple of the suggestions that he gave to us!

We´re actually not through with conferences, because this Friday we´re going to Guayaquil and the temple! I think President wants to rephrase all the things that Elder Calderon suggested for the mission. So we will be in Guayaquil all day Friday, and then Saturday and Sunday is General Conference! We are trying to get everyone excited to go and see the sessions, because our Relief Society President told us that 10 sisters in the whole district went to the General Woman´s broadcast. I think there was probably just a misunderstanding, because they also didn´t announce it in Sacrament meeting which was too bad.

As for our little ice cream contest we ended up changing the rules that if we received more than five references that we would both buy each other a 25 cent ice cream bar to make it less of a contest, but still a fun way to try and find people. We ended up meeting our goal 4 times during the week! And we found a lot of new people to teach. It was a fun change. =)

One of the most interesting things that happened this week is that I went out with our zone leaders to Quinsa-loma (a little town about an hour outside of Ventanas) to do a baptismal interview, and the couple ended up getting baptized in the river there because it was so far from the chapel. It was a real testimony building experience to see how this family was willing to sacrifice and get up at 5 AM in the morning to be able to be at church for the 8 AM sacrament meeting. 

I´m glad that everyone was able to have a great week! I´m glad you´re all keeping busy and that everyone is doing so well. Remember that you are always in my prayers.
Lots of love,
Elder Hales =)  

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Hola Familia!

It sounds like everyone had such an eventful week! I´m glad that Dad was able to keep the fort down while Mom was gone, and I´m also glad that Mom was able to enjoy her trip so much! I didn´t know it was such an intensive trip! I thought that was very interesting about what you said about the divisions in the Community of Christ Church because that´s how 85% of the churchs here are. They are all divisions of each other, and love to get together to listen, or sing, or memorize psalms and there´s almost no order. The people aren´t exactly sure what they believe. There are actually some dangerous sects that don´t believe in sin and just do what they want, not thinking they will get any type of consequences. 

Whenever I think about the foundation of the Church I can´t help but think of how much help the Lord really gave to the early foundation of the Church. Now there are more than 140 temples in all parts of the world! That is just so incredible to me to know how the Lord is rushing his work.

We had a pretty normal week here, luckily with no trips to Guayaquil haha. Something that my companion and I have started is a competition every day for who can ask for more referances, (We´re in the week of his training that has us focus on how to find) with the winner getting a free 25 cent Ice cream cone at the end of the day. It´s actually been a really fun reminder to always be looking for people, and we found four new families to teach in just three days. We´re both a little competitive hahaha =) It´s been really fun to be with Elder Cari and remember how it was like being new in the mission.

This Thursday President Riggins is coming to Ventanas with Elder Calderon (our area 70) for our zone conference. We´re really excited for the conference! Elder Calderon spoke to us for the stake conference in Babahoyo and is a really excited speaker. We´re all working hard to get ready for the upcoming month, and everyone is already talking about general conference. It should be really great, but it´s almost a sure thing that I´ll be listening to this conference in Spanish because the district center is so small, and every room will be needed to put the broadcast on. 

Thank you so much for your prayers and thoughts, And I hope that everyon has a great week! Mom, I´m sure that everyone is very happy to have you back. The home is not the same without mother =)

Lots of Love,
Elder Hales =)
Hola mi familia!

Wow, Mom. It`s fun knowing that we are almost on the same latitude! I had no Idea that you were headed for a fun trip in New York! Today during our excercise time in the morning I was listening to Elder Anderson`s talk from the last conference about seeing the hand of God in our lives, and I`m glad you are getting this chance go see the hand of the Lord in so many parts of the restoration of the gospel. 

I`m also glad that the family is doing so well on the athletic front! =) I`m so proud of Joseph`s team for almost beating the top team in the league! And Jacob and Isaac sound like such star racers! I think it`s so great to be able to have fun, and get into great shape!

Here for us in Ventanas, we had a couple of fun trips this week. On Thursday Elder Cari and I had to go to Guayaquil because Elder Cari didn`t have a visa yet. We got to Guayaquil and met up with all the new missionaries from Peru, and it turns out that none had gotten visas yet. Luckily everything worked out, but we were pretty tired when we got home to Ventanas. It`s almost three hours from Ventanas to Guayaquil, but I know that`s not anything compared to the bus rides Kyle had when he was serving in Chile. 

Then yesterday we went to Catarama to do a baptismal interview, and sadly he won`t get baptized this week, but I feel like we were able to help him make reasonable goals. Luckily Catarama is pretty close to Ventanas. 

We`ve started working with a less active family that have not been to church for almost 4 years, and we had such a spiritual experience with them yesterday. They did not come to church, and when we visited them today and talked about the Joseph Smith story, we all felt the spirit so strongly, and they were able to remember all the important reasons why going to church is important. We`re really excited for their progress! =)

I think it`s so incredible how the Lord shows his hand in every part of our lives if we are willing to look for it. This week has been a great reminder for me that this truly is the Lord`s work, but he wants us to be able to share the blessings and joy with Him.

I hope that everyone was a safe week. Mom, I know you will be missed at home, and I hope Dad and the boys don`t get into too much mischief. ;)

Lots of love,
Elder Hales =) 

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Hola Familia!
Well this week has gone by so fast for me! It´s been really interesting this new phase in my mission, training and helping Elder Cari, but he is full of so much love for the work, and has all of that right from the MTC spirit. 

I´m glad the family had fun at Timpanogas Cave! I do remember going once with Dad when we first moved there. I also remember not being willing to go, unless there were Skittles provided as an energy to make it up the mountain. I think I would tell Dad every quarter mile that now was probably a good time to take a snack break. hahaha =) I can´t belive that we have lived in Utah for more than 12 years now! Also how fun to see Mr. Shelly. He was one of my favorite math teachers. There is something so special about inspiring teachers.

Also how exciting about the BYU football team! What a great way to start the season, and I hope that Taysom will be better soon. It sounds like we need his help in the season. It´s always so fun a have an exciting win. 

For us here the biggest news was that the other elders that lived in our house moved out, so it´s just me and Elder Cari now. Our house seems so big for just two Elders, but it´ll be nice to be a little more peaceful and not have to share a bathroom either. Our house has seemed very quiet though. 

Elder Cari and I have had a little bit of an emotional rollercoster here in Ventanas. On one hand, a father that has recently reactivated got to be part of a baby blessing yesterday. It was such a spiritual experience, and I´m glad that his family is beginning to feel the joy of the Gospel again. And on the other hand, one of our best investigators, (a Colombian named Richard) got into a big fight with his mom the day before his baptism and ran away to Colombia in a bus with just a laptop and 40 dollars. I hope everything will be alright. He´s just 18 years old. But we´re trying to stay positive, and we´ve actually been finding a lot of new people to teach. The members are really excited here to help out with the work. =)

Mom, Dad talked about maybe sending some names to do here, and I think that would be really fun to do the work for them, but I also understand if you would rather have them done at home because this would not be the quickest way for them to have the ordinance, and I wouldn´t be able to do the sealings here.

I´m glad that everyone is happy and healthy, and that everyone is enjoying school and work. Thank you for your great letters and for thinking about me during the week!

Thank you for your prayers and support,
Elder Hales =) 
Ventanas Zone - Jonathan is in the back row, third from the left. We think his companion is standing on his right.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Dear Family!
I´m excited to hear that everything is going well, and there haven´t been too many dificulties jumping back into the school year. 

I feel so proud of my great brothers for racing so hard! Really there is something so rewarding about practicing hard and then having fun while you perform. Also I´m super proud of Isaac for being in band, and when I get back we have to play some duets in Sacrament meeting! Also I know that I probably shouldn´t make any quick promises, but I think it would be really fun to run with Dad, Emily and Isaac, (and Jacob if he wants to =) ) in the Goblin Valley half marathon. That plus the pre race training should give us lots of time to catch up and swap stories. =)

Our week here was really interesting. We spent two days working in a ward in Guayaquil called ´´Condor´´ and it made me wonder if there was also an "eagle ward" for Jacob to be able to attend:) Then on Wednesday we went to the temple with all the new missionaries and ate breakfast and lunch at President Riggin´s house. 

He talked a lot about how we study and teach the Gospel, and had us watch this video:

Then he asked how often is our personal study like this? Someone tells us to find something, and then we find it and we´re content. He then asked us, "Who knows something about 1 Nephi 3, besides verse number 7?" It was a good reminder to zoom out in our scripture study and try and see the big picture. I thought that was really great advice, and I´m going to try and remember that as I study the mission lessons again. 

Then we got to our sector here on Thursday and started working. My new companion´s name is Elder Cari from Arequipa Perú, and he is such a great and excited missionary! He loves helping people and is a great listener. He is always so sincere about asking for and offering advice, and I think it will be incredibly easy to train with him. =)

This week we´ll need to work really hard to try and make up for some lost time last week, but we´re excited for the challenge, and I hope that you all have great weeks!

You are all in my prayers, and I love you all!
Élder Hales =)

Monday, August 24, 2015

My Dear Family,

Well I`m writing a little earlier, and from Guayaquil. We just dropped off our companions that finished the mission, and we`re going to have our P-day here in the big city because our companions are getting here from the Provo MTC tomorrow or Wednesday. I`m a little nervous about having a companion fresh out of the MTC, but I know that they bring a special type of love and excitement for the work to begin. So as of right now I`m going to be in Guayaquil with a missionary from Babahoyo, and an Elder from Guayaquil until the new guys get here. It should be exciting! =)

As for the last week of Elder Samán, it was a very jammed pack and exciting 7 days! On Tuesday the mission office called me and asked us to go to Guayaquil to have my Visa renewed for my second year, and that was fun to spend a night with the guys in the office. They always like to have company because it`s four elders that are in the office 6-12 months before they go back out into the field, so they showed us a good time. We just had to sign three papers and have our picture taken, but it was a fun little visit. 

The biggest news was the 50 years open house for the church in Ecuador! It was a lot bigger than I thought it would be, and they had different booths set up about each of the different organizations in the church, like Young Womens, or Elder`s Quorum. We also gave a couple of classes inside. It went really well! The activity ended with a dance competition between the 5 branches. I thought our branch did really well, but because there were only 6 people that were participating we took last place. 

Then on Sunday my companion and I both spoke in Sacament Meeting, and then I helped him pack his suitcases and we were off to the bus terminal. Elder Saman seemed pretty content with everything, and I sure hope he`ll have a good time in Peru. Right now we`re just waiting to see who our new companions will be. This will be my first time training so I hope that everything will be okay.

It sounds like everyone is so in shape at home! I`m so proud of Dad and Emily for their half marathon, and Isaac I think that`s so great that you`re getting ready to do the next one with Dad! I`m pretty sure that Jacob could probably beat me in a fight now, so I`ll have to be carefull when I get home ;) I think it would be really fun to do a race with you, Dad, when I get home, but we`ll have to start small, like a 15k and then a half marathon. =)

Emily, I hope you enjoy your new semester! It`s weird thinking that you`ll be done with your studies before I get home, but I`m so happy that you`re jumping back into life. =)
I hope that Jacob, Isaac and Joseph are also enjoying their new school year, and I hope that everyone can enjoy their music studies as well! I`m so happy that you`re enjoying band, Isaac! And Jacob I'm sure is living it up in  chior. 

I hope you all have a great week and I`ll be sure to let you know all about my new companion next week! 
Lots of Love,
Elder Hales =)