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 DurĂ¡n (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 =)