Monday, January 26, 2015

Hola Familia!
That`s so exciting about all the fun things that happened this week with everyone! I`m glad that everyone is enjoying the winter activites and that Jacob is very active in the dating circuit. ;) Dad, your Spanish is really coming along! I remember that in three years of Spanish in high school they never taught us the direct object pronouns so I think it`s really cool that you already are forming sentences. and soon you`ll have another Spanish speaker to practice with when Kyle comes home! I think that`s so exciting, and tell him to send me a copy of his return talk. =)
We also had a really busy week here. I think we can finally say that the rains have started. A couple of nights there have been light rains, maybe what we would call a regular storm in Utah, but on TuesdayWednesday, and Thursday the skies opened, and rain just came down. I couldn`t believe how debilitating it was! The way the streets are made there are either lakes in the streets, or mid calf mud, and it makes getting from one side of the sector to the other quite difficult. haha
Saturday was also a very special day because the branch went to the temple together and we got to go with our convert, Gloria. We all had a great time and she was really humbled by the importance of temple work because some of her names were from the 1500s! Her children also came to see the temple and stayed in the visitor's center.
We got back around 6 PM, just in time to get ready for the baptism of one of Gloria`s daughters, Melissa. She was so excited, and everything went perfectly. The next day at church all the family even came in skirts to show their support for Melissa. (A very big step in case you are wondering. They do not like dresses at all.)
And then on Sunday, Elder Brady and Elder Lund left for Guayaquil. Elder Brady is leaving at 11:59 tonight. I hope he gets home safely. He`s been a good friend in these 4 months I`ve had in Vinces. (Elder Brady is from Payson.) Elder Lund`s new companion`s name is Elder Cuentas and he`s from Bolivia. I think it`s good we have another Latino in the house because with the 4 English speakers we were loosing our Spanish a little haha!
So much happened this week, but I`m sure that things will continue going well. Change is good, it just takes a little while to get used to.
Thank you so much for all your prayers and thoughts, and I hope everyone stays safe this week.
Jacob, good luck on your date!
Lots of love,
Elder Hales =)

Monday, January 19, 2015

My Dear Family!
It`s so great to hear from you again this week! I`m so glad your back is doing better, Mom, and that`s so cool that Dad is now praying in Spanish! That was one of the first things we had to do in the MTC as well, and it was nerve racking.  Prayer has its own language that`s a little different from normal conversational Spanish to imply the will of the Father, (that`s why you say te pido que bendigas, and not bendices like you would if you were just conjugating normally.) If you keep studying like you are, I`m sure we`ll be able to speak just like normal when I get home!

Mom, I`m glad you`re keeping busy with all of your RS duties, and I`m so greatful for all that you do. Here in Ecuador one of the biggest problems of the church is that there aren`t very many leaders, or people willing to be leaders, so I`m so touched by the great example of thoughtless service in our family from you and Dad, (and Emily, goooo misioneras! =) ) 

This week we made a goal as a new companionship to work with less active men that hold the higher priesthood, and we got the list of them from our district secretary. We`ve been having a lot of success so far! We`ve even found a couple of families with children that still need to be baptized, so when they reactivate, the dads will even get to see their children participate in their first convenant of the Gospel. It`s very exciting!

Elder Medina is an expert in fortifying small branches because he had a couple of callings in his home branch before he came out, and it`s really exciting because the members also get excited to help with the work when they can see the long term vision. Most of our new investigators are non-baptized family members or neighbors. I hope the spark sticks with our new branch president that the rumor says we`ll have next week. His support is so crucial in the development of the branch.

The rain has not been too bad, but when it rains, it rains very hard. There are a lot of superstitions of the people here about how to tell when it`s going to rain, but so far I haven`t found one that is a 100% sure haha =)

That`s all that`s new for us here, and it`s crazy for me how the Lord is hastening His work. I love the invitation in D&C 84:106. Him that is strong in the spirit, bring with you that is weak, to be edified with all manner of meekness so that he may be made strong as well. (or something like that, I had to translate it haha) 

Lots of love and luck from the south,
Elder Hales. =)

Monday, January 12, 2015

My Dearest Family!
Wow this week was super packed with things that are going on here! On Monday I went to Balzar for an interchange, the most far sector in our zone about an hour and a half, and it was really interesting to work there. Their sector is half jungle and half city, and the jungle part looked almost exactly like the huts in The Other Side of Heaven. It was definitely an adventure for two days, but not something I would like to have be my sector for 6 months like Elder Brown (another Elder that works there.) I even managed to find a Book of Mormon in Quitchua, the native language of Peru there, so that was awesome!

And then Wednesday and Thursday I was working in the sector of our zone leaders while they were doing a split with Elder Lizana because he`s the district leader. So I only really got to work with our investigators for Friday and Saturday. It made the week seem both fast and slow, because It was interesting to work with some of the other members of the zone, and at the same time it was a little stresfull to think about everything happening in my sector while I was gone.

And then Sunday night at about 11 pm we got a call that said Elder Lizana had a transfer! We left here at about 8 in the morning to go to Guayaquil and pick up my new comp. His name is Elder Medina, and he is going home on March 10th. That must seem so soon. He was born here in Ecuador, but he lived in Utah for 7 years and speaks English flawlessly as well. That will be such a help with spanish!

Dad, that`s so awesome about your Spanish practice! You are really dedicated to learning! I`ve also found that there is no substitute to actually speaking. Something you can do as well is dedicate maybe 30 minutes to an hour a day where you don`t speak in English any word that you know in Spanish. That`s something they taught us in the MTC.

Mom, I`m sure your talk was amazing, and Dad told me how he was very spiritual inspired, so I`m sure you did a great job. =) You are such a support to the sisters in our stake!

I`m glad Jacob is taking the initiative with dating, and I`m sure he`ll have a fun time. I think the Advil is a great idea!

Sorry for writing so little this week, We just don`t have any time because of the 5 hours of traveling we`ve had to do today! But remember that you guys are always in my hearts and prayers.

All my love,
Elder Hales =)
Gloria's baptism

The Guayaquil Temple at Christmas

a monegote they burn on New Year's Eve

a Pink Panther monegote

The elders thought this monegote looked like Jonathan so they put Jonathan's name tag on him.

Monday, January 5, 2015

My Dear Family,
This week has seemed so fast with all the holiday excitement.
I`m glad that Mom and Dad are staying busy to start this New Year, and Mom good luck with the season of ward conference!

I`m glad you have your plans all set for 2015, Dad. I think I`m starting to realize the importance of a long term plan. One of the tips in Preach my Gospel for connecting the long term and short term actions is to have a type of self accountability. For example this year I set a goal to try and memorize 100 scriptures in Spanish so I figured out that it`s two scriptures a week, and the last week is three. To keep myself accountable I made a little chart with 100 spots and the dates. I can see how it fills up throughout the year. =)

The work was a little slow this week because a lot of people left town to visit family. New Years is a much bigger celebration than Christmas and there are a couple of fun things that Ecuadorians do. The coolest is they make these giant dolls called monegotes. They come in all sizes and are usually American cartoon characters or superheroes, and I even saw one that was 3 stories tall! and then at midnight they burn them to represent starting the New Year from scratch and improving for the next. Very cool!

We had our P-day on Thursday because no one was home, working, or awake until 6 pm anyways, so our president had us work on Monday instead. It was a really fun start to the year, and we played basketball at the church. (Our team plan was to pass the ball to Elder Ryldulch haha) 

I`m glad everyone enjoyed the holiday season, and that everything keeps going well at home! That`s so incredible that you`re all having missionary experiences. I know that everyone can find great joy in the service of the Lord! 

Lots of love,
Elder Hales. =)

PS. I have a lot of pictures to send you all, but I`m still having trouble because only a couple of computers can send them. But don`t worry I will try to send them as soon as I can! =)

This is a picture I found online of a monegote