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 =)

Monday, August 17, 2015

Hola Familia!

Wow this was such an interesting week here for us, but I think this next week will be even more jammed pack with great stuff =)  I celebrated my one year mark by eating a 25 cent ice cream.

The only crazy news were the protesters on Thursday, but we didn´t actually see any evidence that there was something going on. From what I´ve heard it´s been the people in Quito that are really upset with the government. There were 57 police officers that were injured in just Quito, and I think 9 in Guayaquil but we´re completely fine here. One of the advantages of living in a small city I guess haha =)

The other great thing that´s been going on here is that the members are getting ready to celebrate 50 years since the founding of the church in Ecuador. This Saturday there will be a massive open house in our stake center for everyone in Ventanas, with food, music, dancing, and different booths and rooms about what the church is like. That same Saturday my companion has his last interview, so that will be exciting for him. He´s very happy to start his life again in Peru, and I´m excited for him as well.

Have classes started yet? I´m so happy that Joseph and Anna get to be in the same class together! That will be so fun for them. Also I´m so happy that Isaac is taking band! Many of my best memories from high school are with the friends I made through music and I know Isaac will enjoy himself. Jacob are you doing any fun extracurriculars? 
I´m also so proud that Isaac will have the chance to prepare the sacrament! Here in Ecuador the Bishop or branch president comes an hour early and does everything by himself. What a blessing it will be for you, Isaac, to help in the priesthood! That´ll also be a great time to spend with Mom. I remember I had some of the most uplifting conversations sitting next to Mom on the organ. 

I hope that everything is going well for you all at home! And I hope you can get back into the school time schedule. I love you all and hope you have a great week!

Elder Hales =)
Jonathan's zone in Ventanas
(Jonathan is the 2nd from the right, back row. His companion is the 3rd elder from the left wearing glasses)

Monday, August 10, 2015

Hola mi querida familia!
It sounds like you are all squeezing out all of the summer that´s left. That´s so great that you´ve been able to do so many fun things! That´s also so fun for Isaac that he is going to celebrate his birthday this week! Being a teacher was such a fun time in my life. I still remember all the great times Dad and I had together home teaching. Our home teaching families were so nice to us. =)

I think it´s great, Dad, that you´re practicing your Spanish! Also I think it´s great that you´ll have this chance to do service with the future missionaries in Honduras. The medical exams are really one of the things that is really hard for the youth to get here. There are lots of delays, hold ups, and hidden expenses in the medical system here that makes putting your papers in almost a 9 month process. 

For me it´s very interesting to be in a small branch again. Our branch has about 85 people who come and there are around 420 members. There are a lot of little things that I´ve grown to appreciate about wards. The whole branch seems to revolve around about 6 people (The presidents of classes and quorums) and it´s been a great experience to work so closly with them. They all have such great desires to share the gospel and help the branch grow. 

Yesterday at church there was a great talk about the Armor of God in Sacrament meeting. Hermana Dolores helped us remember that if any part of our armor is weak, then we are in a lot of spiritual trouble. She said, ´´who would want to go to battle in armor that was damaged or sub par?" A great reminder that we constantly need to be looking for how to fortify our weaknesses. 

The only other big news here this week is that an elder that lived with us in our house got transfered today and there´s a new missionary named Elder Taylor that´s living with us now. We both started our missions on August 13th, but he was in the MTC in Provo. We´re going to have to do something fun to celebrate our half way day! =)  We might have to stay in our house because the people in Ecuador are threatening to have a massive shut down of the country that day! There are a lot of people who are not happy with what President Correa is doing and so no one is going to go to work, and they´re going to block the streets on Thursady to try and pressure him into resigning! It sounds like it could get a little crazy!

Thank you so much for all of your prayers and support, I feel more and more blessed everyday to have been raised in such a loving and gospel centered home. 

I hope you all enjoy your last full week of summer break! Lots of Love!
Elder Hales =)

Monday, August 3, 2015

Hola Familia!
Wow Dad, I must say that you look incredibly comfortable in that last picture you sent me in the hammock. Those are a pretty big deal here actually. Almost every house has one and that´s how they put the little kids to sleep by rocking them in the hammock.

It sounds like you all had great weeks! I hope you´re not all too sad about the summer ending. I remember thinking that I was almost ready for school to start after three months off, but then about one week into the school year I was ready for another summer break haha. I´m glad that the weather has been pretty nice for you during these last couple of weeks. For us here the weather has been so perfect. Cloud coverage, but without any rains. We felt extremely blessed =)

Maybe I didn´t explain very well in my last letter. The city here is called Ventanas, and the branch is named Sibimbe. Sibimbe is a little suburb area in the city. Our sector consists of Sibimbe, La Gloria, Un Solo Toque, and El Centro. It´s not that big, but it´s not that small either which is nice. I also got your package last Tuesday, and I was very grateful. You guys are so nice to me! You´ll also have to tell Lisa and Scott a huge thank you for me as well.  That´s so nice of them to help out.

For us here we´ve had a pretty interesting week. We´re working with a man named Edwardo whose wife is the district primary president. His grandaughters are going on missions in about three months and he´s actively come to church for three years, but he´s not a member. It´s a very interesting story. Every Sunday he wakes up at 4 AM and goes to the Catholic service before our church at 8 AM. We´ve been trying to help him understand about the Book of Mormon, but to me that has been one of the most interesting things here. There are Catholic roots in almost everything in the country, and especially small towns.

Yesterday in our Elder´s quorum class for the first Sunday, we watched the Jeffery R Holland talk about feeding the Lord´s sheep, and it just gave me another reminder that the true love we can show for our spiritual brothers and sisters is through service and sharing the restored gospel with them. 

I´m glad that Isaac and Dad were able to enjoy their time together at Boy Scout camp, and that Jospeh was able to have fun in his soccer tournament! It also seems so weird to me that Jacob is going to be starting his junior year. What happend to my little freshman younger brother? =)

I love you all so much and I hope you have a great week!
Elder Hales =)
Reid in his hammock at scout camp