Sunday, July 31, 2016

Mi Querida Familia,

I can´t believe that this will be my last letter home! 

So many people wrote me this week that I´ve got almost no time to write, but I just wanted to say thank you so much for every prayer, for every thought, for every email letter and package. I´m so happy for the family that the Lord has given me.

What an honor it has been to be a missionary. =)

Just so you guys are up to date, Wednesday I´ll have my last interview, and Sunday night I´m leaving my sector for the last time to go and spend the night in the mission home. All Monday we´ll be in a meetings and trainings, and then Monday night at 11ish we´ll be boarding the plane. I think we´re scheduled to land Tuesday at noon. =)

I love you all so much. Thank you for the support that you´ve given me as a missionary. 

¡Hasta Martes! =)

Lots of love,
Elder Hales =)

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Mi Querido Familia!

I´m so glad that everyone was able to have an exciting week! Mom, Emily, the wedding sounds like it was such a spiritual experience! I´m so happy for Justin! It feels like yesterday that Emma was just getting married! (That was almost 3 years ago wasn´t it? That is so crazy!) 

Dad, I´m glad that you were able to hold down the fort! But I remember that we had some good ´"men only" weeks haha =) Good bonding time. We never doubted you. ;)

I can´t believe that after today I´ll only have one more time to write you all! It seems like everything is passing by at blurish speeds, I´m really sad to be leaving behind such a great country and people. But if I have learned anything from my service it´s that the work never ends, and I´m sure there is a lot to do back on the northern half of the continent. ;)

This week was really good for us! Our sector is really huge (with the airport just taking up a massive chunk in the middle) so we´ve been trying to ´´sectorize´´ the area by spending days in places where we would normally just spend an hour or two, and we´ve managed to find a bunch of new people to teach! We were also so happy when 4 of our less active families were able to come to church! One of which was Felix Garcia, so I´m so grateful for your prayers and help. When he got there he realized that he had quite a few friends from work and from when he had gone to church in other wards so we were really happy for how the ward showed their love for him.

Our mission has been shrinking quite a bit with all the missionaries going home, and when we had our district meeting there were only 14 missionaries in the whole zone! When I got here to the Kennedy in November, there were 29 missionaries. It just goes to show how the Lord is quickening his work and opening up more and more missions! It´s really an exciting time. =)

Sorry to write so little today, But we spent more time than we had thought in the local art market (I spent quite a bit of money on gifts and souvenirs, but don´t tell Mom ;) ) I can´t believe that next week will be my last email home! How time has flown by!

I love you lots, and I hope that everyone has a great week!

Love, Elder Hales =)
Elder Rojo and Jonathan - Elder Rojo baptized an 8 year old boy

Monday, July 11, 2016

Mi querida Familia! =)

Well it has definitely been an exciting week! Very eventful to say the least. Right now I´m writing you from the bus terminal in Guayaquil because there were more transfers in our zone. (Four missionaries are leaving and two are coming in so they´re closing an area.)  I got to hold onto another telephone and another set of keys for a half hour:)  We were really sad to see a bunch of good missionaries leave, but we´re also excited for the great new missionaries that will be coming in! 

I really enjoyed the temple session on Tuesday night, but it was also very sentimental for me because it´s the last time I´ll be doing a session in the Guayaquil Ecuador Temple. I was looking back on my mission and in total I think I´ve been to a total of 29 sessions. It has definitely been an incredible blessing to have the temple so close, and to have a mission president that really values the temple and its blessings. In the celestial room President Riggins gave a hug to all the missionaries who were going home, and you could tell that he was sad to see so many of his missionaries going home. I also got to say hi to an old companion (Elder Alucema) and it was fun to catch up on old times. I´ve really seen a big change in him. He´s grown a lot spiritually which is always so great to see. =)

The actual zone conference was really good! We talked a lot about how to prepare people for baptism, and how to help them understand the baptism interview questions. President Riggins talked about how this is the only time in our lives where we´ll get to do baptismal interviews for converts. I had never looked at it like that before! He also talked about the importance of planning. With so many missionaries going home, the sectores are going to be even bigger and planning is going to be a much more important part of the week. Some missionaries are going to be working in multi-wards for the first time in mission history! 

The interviews went really well. President didn´t say to much, (I think a lot of what he probably wants to tell me he´ll do in our next interview at the end of July) but it was really nice to sit down with him and then have a conversation with Hermana Riggins as well. Hermana Riggins was a lot more talkative and even gave me some good ideas for gifts, so I´m excited. Next week I´ll go with Elder Call to ´´el marcado artesanal´´ where people come in from all over Ecuador to sell stuff so that will be fun. =)

I just wanted to finish by telling you about a great experience we had with a partial member family last night. Brother Felix Garcia  was baptized 47 years ago in the church (I just want to remind you that the church in Ecuador only has 50 years) so he is one of the oldest members in the whole country! He lives with his wife, two children and 5 grandchildren, and we had an incredible Noche de hogar in their house last night. (That´s family home evening for you gringos haha ;) ) and we felt the spirit so strongly! They decided to come to church next Sunday for the first time in over 40 years! He´s got nephews who are studying at BYU right now, so I´ll have to go look for them next semester. We were just so happy to see how the gospel could plant a new seed of faith in this family. We have our next appointment tomorrow

I hope that everyone has a great week! Isaac and Jacob, I´m so glad that you were able to enjoy EFY, and Mom, what an answer to prayers that you are walking so well! Have a great week!

Elde Hales =)

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Happy 4th of July!!!

Funny story. I had actually forgotten that it was the 4th, until our ward secretary, (an RM that´s been home 12 weeks now) sent us a text message saying happy Independence Day haha.
Dad, I think I mentioned that a big chunk of our sector is the airforce base of Guayaquil. I think of you every time we go into the FAE (Federación Aeria de Ecuador).  Even though I was really little when we lived on base, I still remember you riding home from work on your bike and thinking that I want to be like my dad when I grow up. Good memories! =)

We`ve had a really interesting week, with a couple of highlights.
We got to do two companionship interchanges this week and they were so spiritually uplifting! The first was on Wednesday and I got to go with Elder Call. He´s a great friend of mine who served with me in the office and then had changes from the office to the same zone. (Then about two months later I had changes from the office to the same zone too.) It was just such a spiritual experiance to teach with a good friend. It was a strong testimony of the fact that true friendships are made through service, and especially service to the Lord.
Then on Friday the assistants wanted to do a campanionship interchange with us. To fully understand this story you´ll probably need a little background information. A little over a year ago when I was in Babahoyo with Elder Alucema and they transfered me to Ventanas they put in our old sector 2 new assistants to the President. (There are a total of 4 APs in our mission, two that stay with President Riggins and two that just do inter changes with the other missionaries). They called and asked if they could do an interchange with us. The way things worked out, I got to go and visit my old ward for a day! It was such a great experience to see so many friendly faces, and to see how the members had progressed! Elder Fraser (our assistant) just told me to show him the houses of everyone that Elder Alucema and I had been working with, so it was great to see all the old investigators again. They opened their doors so willingly to us! I sure hope that this time they can receive the fullness of the gospel. =)
This next week should be really fun as well. We´ve got a zone conferance on Wednesday, and then interviews with President Riggins on Friday, so I´m pretty sure before I know it, the week will be over. My last companion and good friend, Elder Norris, is finishing his mission in one week, so that´ll probably make the week fly by as well, He´ll be going home to Germany! (He's from Mississippi but his family moved.)  I hope everything goes well for him.
Have a fantastic week Isaac and Jacob! I´m sure that you´ll both have a blast at EFY! (And Isaac if you don´t enjoy yourself we´ll have a fun little party just you and me to make up for it. =) )
I love you all!
Elder Hales =)

Monday, June 27, 2016

Mi Querida Famila,

I´m so happy to hear that everyone is doing well, and that the MS 100 didn´t have too many casualties;)  I was so happy to hear from both Jacob and Joseph this week too! It sounds like you´ve been keeping busy during the summer vacations! 

Mom, I´m also so excited that you´ve been doing better, and that everything is going well with your foot! That really does make me so happy to hear. =)

It has been an incredible week here in Guayaquil to say the least! My new companion (Elder Rojo de Bolivia) and I have been working really hard meeting the members, making appointments and working hard to find new people to teach. Here are a couple of highlights.

Yesterday we left to do some visits with a 23 year old convert named Andres Moreira. In Preach my Gospel there is a great phrase that says, ´´as you experience the atonement in your lives, your desire to share the gospel increases´´ and he is an incredible evidence of that great truth. Andres would stop and talk to everyone he knew (and this was about 1 in every 3 or 4 people that we would pass by in the streets) and talk to them about how the gospel had changed his life. He was deeply involved in a gang before joining the church. He´ll be leaving for his mission this December! He is such a great example of how the gospel will change lives.

Then on Sunday there was a baptismal service of a precious girl named Odalys who turned 8 yesterday. Her parents are converts who were baptized last November. It was so sweet to see how many people from the ward came to show their support. I was also really surprised that the familia Huayamabe (the family of 4 that got baptized last Saturday) came and showed their support as well.

We had a lot of fun going around the sectors of our area with the church lists of future elders, and we had a lot of success finding less active families. We also found quite a few families whose children or spouses aren't members! It has been a real answer to prayers!

It´s been really fun to work with Elder Rojo. I think I mentioned this last week but he and I are quite similar, and I´m glad that I´ll have such a great last companion. =)

I hope that everyone has a great week! And I also hope that everyone stays busy during the summer breaks! I have really learned the importance of time here in the mission, and I hope that you can all take advantage of the summer. =)

I love you all have a great week!

Elder Hales =) 
Odalys' baptism

View of Jonathan's area

Monday, June 20, 2016

My Dearest Family,

I´m glad that Mom, Dad, and Em were able to make it back from Aunt Betsy´s without any problems, and I´m so glad that Grandpa has been doing better! I made sure to remember him in my prayers last week, and just to be sure, we´ll keep on praying for him in these following weeks too. What a blessing it is to have such great roll models in our parents and in our parents´ parents. =)

I´ve had quite an interesting day so far! At about 11:30 last night the assistants called us and told us about the transfers that would be going on in the Kennedy Area, and a total of 8 of our missionaries are leaving! There were two companionships that cried when we told them that they would be leaving tomorrow, but I guess that´s a good sign of their hard work and dedication. They´re also closing some sectors and putting two brand new missionaries in their old wards. I´ve learned though that prayer and deep breaths are very good stress relievers =)

At 8:00 AM I went and dropped off my companion, Elder García, at the mission office. He´s a good missionary, and I´m proud of him for finishing his mission so well. I´m a little worried about how we´ll do here in the sector because I´ve only been here three weeks, but if we do end up getting lost we´ll have a good excuse to go and contact some new people. =) Then I had to go to the bus terminal to pick up the new missionaries in the zone, and help the two new sisters get to their house. There was a funny moment in the terminal when I had 4 sets of keys, and 4 cell phones while we were waiting for the new missionaries to arrive and claim their new homes! 

Right now I´m with my new companion, an old friend I met in Ventanas whose name is Elder Rojo. He´s from la Cochabamba, Bolivia and I´m really excited to get to work with him. He`s a great worker, teaches the gospel very well, is really organized, and he is a great listener. I think we´ll get along really well! 

And all of that was just today! I don´t even know where to begin with the rest of the week!

I guess I could start with the baptism on Saturday! It was so incredible! The four of them were able to get baptized and have such strong convictions about the Book of Mormon. After the ordinaces a small time was given so that they could share their testimonies and the mother of the family cried. Really the gospel changes lives in such an incredible way! Before they found the gospel, the mother was a pastor in an evangelist church, so it´s been very interesting to see the conversion process in her. She has some really funny questions sometimes, but is always willing to accept answers from the scriptures, and listen to what the Holy Ghost teaches which is never a bad thing. 

Oh! Random side note from Friday. So I´ve officially been endowed for two years now! I can´t believe it! But I just wanted to mention that because on Friday I needed to have an interview with President Riggins for my new recommend. It´ll probably be my only temple recommend that I´ll have in Spanish but it´s really cool! He even did the interview in Spanish just so I could hear the questions in Spanish one time. We have such a fun president. 

I hope that everyone has a great week! I will remember you all in my prayers and I won´t forget about my incredible grandparents either. I´m so glad that Dad´s Grandpa Boyd and Mom´s Grandpa Boyd are doing better and recovering from their accidents! 

Have a fantastic week! 

Love Elder Hales =)

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

My Dear Family,

It sounds like you`ve been having an incredible time in Tennessee! I´m also sure that Aunt Betsy felt all of your love. I`m glad that you were able to do something special for her birthday! I got a small taste of what Emily was probably feeling when I went to Vinces and Ventanas. I can´t believe that was just two weeks ago! It seems like so much has happened since then! 

Speaking of important things happening, we sure have been busy this week! Elder Rasband´s coming could not have been smoother. I was so impressed with all the work that the three missions put into the conference so that everything could be done well. He made sure to get to the meeting early to be able to give all 600 of us missionaries a handshake. It was truly incredible! He talked about a lot of things, but one of his main points that he talked about for several minutes was that he was there to represent President Monson, and he told us multiple times about the love that President Monson feels for the missionaries. It really makes one want to represent the church (and the Savior) well.

I was also so proud of the choir! They sang so well that Elder Rasband turned around after the conference and asked us to all try out for the Mormon tabernacle choir when we got home! It was so nice to know that all our hard work had payed off. We were so happy for the spirit that we could feel after the music as well. It truly was a great experience. 

Then on Sunday Elder Rasband came and talked at our stake conference as well. He gave a heart touching talk about the Savior and how he ministered to everyone one by one. After the conference he took about 45 minutes to give every single person at the conference a handshake and a smile. Everyone was moved deeply. As they were leaving Sister Rasband turned to us, the missionaries, and said "You need to take care of these people´´ through tears. What a powerful testimony!

We`re also working hard with a family that might get baptized this Saturday! If everything goes well there should be 6 baptisms in the whole zone! We`re so excited for all the missionaries. =)

We`ve got to go to an appointment now, but I hope that everything goes well in Tennesse and that you get home safe! 
With lots of love,
Elder Hales

Monday, June 6, 2016

Hello Family!

I feel like the worst son ever right now! Sorry to keep you all waiting! My new companion (Èlder Garìa from Perú) is going home in two weeks and needed to do some things in the mission office that took up most of the day, but they gave as permission to write a little late. 

I`m glad that everyone is taking full advantage of the summer vacations! I can`t believe that school`s out already! I`m sure though that the boys will keep everyone busy even without homework. haha. =)

I got transferred out of the office on Sunday night! Then they asked me to spend all day Monday with the new office missionary to show him what to do. It was a little strange because what usually happens is that they put the new office missionary in a trio for 2-3 weeks so that they can learn everything that they need to do, but they just sent me out. I was really sad to leave the office and all the great friends I had made, but I guess that the Lord really does know better than I do. 

But before I was transferred we were able to have the baptism! It was a great way to say goodbye (even though I still didn`t know that I would be leaving).  I was really surprised when I got the call because I was with President Riggins and the assistants all day for the district conference in Ventanas, but I guess they wanted it to be a surprise.

I`m still in Guayaquil though, so I`ll be able to lead the choir on Saturday. President and Hermana Riggins came to the choir practice today, and said that they were really impressed with all our progress! I`m sure that we`ll do well, and it will be nice to have a front row seat! ;) It`s going to be a little crazy trying to get everything ready, but I`m sure that it`ll come out great!

My new sector is huge! We really need to learn how to use the Guayaquil bus system! Both the airport and the bus terminal are in our sector so we have a lot of geography to cover, but not that many actual houses. My new ward is called ``Las Americas`` which I thought was kind of funny. It`s one of the smallest wards in Guayaquil, and I`m glad because I still play the piano on Sundays.

We`re going to be working hard this week to make sure that all our investigators go to the stake conference with Elder Rasband this weekend! It should be a great week!

And I`m so sorry for not sending pictures out (again :p) but in the mad rush to pack my bags, I left my camera at home. I`ll be sure to get it though in the next district meeting.

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

Lots of love,
Elder Hales =)


Saturday, May 28, 2016

My Dear Family,
Wow! I think I say this every week, but this has been an incredible busy week! I`m glad that you were all able to stay busy as well, And I`m also happy that Mom has been recovering so well! That`s so exciting that in two weeks you`ll be in a walking boot! Also it sounds like the boys are happy with the end of the school year.

I think everyone here in the office is excited that the zone conferences are all done. (Now we just have to organize the coming of Elder Rasband.)  Everything with the choir actually worked out really well. We had an extra room set up for the South mission to come and learn their parts, but they didn`t show up to the practice. Later they called us and said that they didn`t think they would be able to participate which is too bad. I guess they realized that the conference is only two weeks from today! I can`t believe how everything has flown by.

I guess I must have done a good job playing the piano in Vinces, because they asked me to go again this weekend to play for the zone conferences in Ventanas! It`s been a bit of a rush to get everything together, but I`m excited to say hello to some old friends from my last sector. Mom, I just want to say one more time that being able to play the piano has been such a huge blessing for me, and I`m so happy that I`ve been able to serve the Lord with this talent. =) It was really such an incredible experience to go back to Vinces and say hello to everyone! They were all so friendly and they even remembered my name, (a real compliment to North American missionaries!)

I do feel bad though because we need to go to Ventanas right now for the bus, so I`m sorry to be so brief two weeks in a row! Next week I promise to have some great pictures though from Ventanas and from Vinces! We`ve been working really hard and we might even have a baptism next Saturday, so keep your fingers crossed and remember us in your prayers! 

Thanks for all of your great support, I`m so glad to have such a wonderful family like you guys. =)

Lots of love,
Elder Hales =)

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Querida Familia!

I´m glad that everyone is at least doing better if not fully recovered, We´ll be sending lots of prayers and love from down here. I´m glad that Jacob's ankle is feeling better though and that Joseph is back in school. I´m sure he would not want to miss all those end of school parties ;) I´m also happy that you were able to get out a little bit, Mom! We all love you so much and are happy to see that you´re recovering. =)

Well, it has been an super jam packed week again! (that seems to becoming the standard here) and I´m glad that it´s almost Sunday again. =)

We managed to make it through all the zone conferences! Getting everyone through the temple/through all the meals went a lot smoother than it has in the past which is good. We´ve been pretty busy getting ready for all the conferences next week. I´ll be happy when it´s all over, but at the same time a little stressed because when the temple conferences are over it´ll be time to get ready for when Elder Rasband comes.

Speaking of that, the choir is sounding so good! I´m so excited for everyone who has the chance to sing! This Monday will be the first day that we´ll have the practices with the South Mission as well, but we´re going to bring our electric piano and have them learn their parts separately and then practice all together. They decided to let everyone sing in the choir who has been practicing. I am so glad that nobody had to be asked not to sing, but some missionaries will not be able to sit on the stand. It should be great!

As far as the earthquakes, here we only felt slightly above normal tremors, but the real effects were psychological. There´s an almost ominous feeling that everyone has with worrying about another huge earthquake. These last two  earthquakes were relatively small compared to the first one, but luckily everyone is safe and we are all doing well. =)

Sorry to be brief this week but I´m actually going to go to Vinces right now with the assistants for their district conference. (Apparently there is no one who could play the piano for them but I´m not complaining because I´ll get to say hello to a bunch of old friends =) ) So we´ll be going in about half an hour. 

I hope everyone has a great week! No one else is allowed to get sick! (knock on wood) 

With lots of love,
Elder Hales =)

Monday, May 16, 2016

My Dear Family, =)

It was so great to see you last week! I´m so glad that everyone is doing well and that no one has changed too much since Christmas ;) I´m also glad that everyone is healthy and happy, (or at least recovering and happy =) ) But really it was so great to see everyone. I´m so grateful for your love and support. 

This week was really jam packed (which made it zoom by!) But luckily we were able to manage to finish everything we needed to do. 

The biggest news is that the a group of missionaries left on Monday, and then the new missionaries got here on Tuesday morning. It was another small group that came, (just 8 missionaries) and our mission president is a little worried because 15 missionaries are leaving in May, so we´ll need to close some sectors, and close down a couple of mission homes which is unfortunate. But one of the new missionaries from Bolivia met one of my friends from Babahoyo who left on his mission about a year ago. He was assigned to the new missionary's ward! It really is such a small world in the gospel!

Another thing that´s kept us busy this week has been the preparation for multi-zone conferences that are going to be all next week! I can´t believe that 3 months have gone by so quickly, and that it´s time for conferences again! That will definitely keep us occupied for the next two weeks.

We got some interesting news about the choir today. So the area just announced that the Guayaquil South Mission is also going to be invited for the conference with Elder Rasband, so we need to integrate them into the choir some how. Luckily we still have 7 practices before the actual performance. Sadly it looks like we´ll need to cut some people from the choir so that will be really interesting to coordinate. I just hope that no one´s feelings get hurt because they told us that we could only have a certain number of people in the choir and we now need to add in another mission. I´m sure though that with prayer and patience everything will work out okay.  On the bright side though, the missionaries are singing so well! It really sounds incredible, and everyone is learning their parts really well! I´m really excited. =)

We also had a really great experience with an investigator this week! Working in the office does have some benefits, because we get to see immediately when we have new referrals from the church general offices. We were really surprised when we got a referral sent to us from Houston, Texas. It turns out that it´s the grand daughter of someone who lives in our sector here in Ecuador! What a small world I guess! She was really receptive, and we have another visit set up for tonight to visit her and her husband. Her name is Mary and her husband is Jorge.

I hope that everyone has a great day/week! and Emily I hope that you have a fantastic birthday!! I´m so proud to say that I have such a great, Christlike sister.

Lots of Love,
Elder Hales =)

Jonathan with Elder Norris

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Mi Querida Familia!

It looks like everyone has managed to keep busy which is always good to hear! Mom, I´m so happy that you are able to keep up with all the things you need to do, and that you´re feeling a little better. I hope you know that you are in our prayers. You and the rest of the family too of course! I was really impressed with all the decorations for teacher appreciation week. 

It has been such an incredible fast moving week! I feel like the weeks are just passing by in big blurs! 
The biggest news is that Elder Rydalch is back home and (from what Hermana Riggins has told us) enjoying his time with his family. Mom, to answer your question, our new assistant is an elder from Canada who´s name is Elder Mclean. He´s a hard worker and I´m sure he´ll have some great ideas for the mission. I hope he´s had a really good week though, because this Monday, Elder Salcedo (our other assistant from Guatamala) is also going home. We´ve had the great blessing of having some really good assistants.

Last Saturday right after we wrote home, we went to the assistants' baptism. When we got to our investigators house who was going to come with us, he came out and told us that they could no longer come. We felt bad, but we wanted to go to the baptism anyways to show our support for Elder Rydalch. On our way over we were talking to the taxi driver and invited him to come to the service with us. He said he couldn´t because he was working, but when we got there we invited him again and he said he would stay for the first 15 minutes! We were so excited, and he came in and loved the service! He stayed the whole time (hour and 15 minutes) and then gave us his number and address to go and visit him! Turns out he lives in another mission, but we were so happy to have been placed in his path and to help him feel the spirit for a night. =)

This Monday two sister missionaries from our district also are finishing their mission. (It sounds like a big group is going home.) One is Hermana Trochez from Colombia, and the other is Hermana Yeakey who has been the mission nurse. She´s been an office missionary for her entire 18 months, and has talked a lot about how she´s so happy that she had this opportunity to serve other missionaries. She said that she was really shocked when she opened her call and it said she would be serving as a mission nurse, but she has done an incredible job keeping us all healthy. We sure will miss them too! It´s so crazy to me that Lizze is home! 

Choir practice is also going well! We finished learning the first song! One of the songs we are singing is a medley of Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel and Onward Christian Shoulders. It´s so great to get to hear good music. And we found a pianist! She´s been practicing really hard, and I´m grateful that she´s willing to take some time out of her area to practice and help us out. It´s Hermana Wilson who was in Guayaquil with us about a month or so ago. We also found out that the apostle who´s coming to our mission in June is Elder Rasband! We´re all really excited and praying that the choir will turn out well.

I hope that everything is going well back in Utah. Remember that I´m praying for you always! Thank you all for your love and support,
Have a great week! We´ll see you tomorrow!!! =)

Elder Hales

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Querida Familia!

It sounds like everyone had busy weeks! Mom, I'm really happy that you were able to enjoy the Woman's Conference at BYU! That was so nice of Terri to help you out. And Dad, I'm glad that you're still able to serve in the scouts, and I know the boys are really grateful too. 

Isaac, I just wanted to give you a special shout out, because Dad told me that you are really helping Mom out which I appreciate so much! I'm sure that everyone else is also helping, I just wanted to say thanks to everyone for taking care of our angel Mother. =)

Dad, when Doctor Rayside came and visited our mission, he actually talked a little bit about mindfulness as well. Apparently a big stress causer for missionaries is when they start to do everything routinely, so he talked about a couple of different ways to put ourselves back into the moment. One of the exercises he shared with us is called 5 4 3 2 1. You quickly name 5 things you can see, 4 things you can hear, three things you can touch, 2 things you can smell or taste, and then you take a deep breath. I thought it was all really interesting! 

I can't believe that Lizzie is finishing her mission so soon! That seems so crazy to me! It feels like yesterday that I remember reading her first letters from a small computer store in Vinces.=)  I'm so proud of her for being able to serve the Lord. Do you know if she's going to go back to BYU Idaho or if she has other plans? Elder Rydalch also goes home this week, so we'll really miss him. I'm sure that you'll get to see some pictures because Dad is friends with Elder Rydalch on Facebook.

Our devotional on Sunday went really well! Everyone that came said that they really enjoyed it. I always love when I get the chance to play the piano. Also it looks like I might be the new ward pianist because our last ward pianist just left for the MTC last Tuesday. (He's going to Canada but not to Jenni's mission.)  I'm actually really excited to play on Sundays again. But don't tell Mom I said that ;)

We had our first choir practice this week, (with another on Monday) and it actually went really well! Almost everyone in the choir knows how to read music and parts which will make our work a lot easier, and the four parts really came out very well. It's a pretty balanced choir too, with just the right number of basses, tenors, altos and sopranos. Mom, I'll see if I can scan you a copy of the song in a second so you can take a look at it. It was also really fun to see a couple of friends from the West Guayaquil mission, like Elder Wade Hanson (we went to Alta together) and Hermana Samantha Durffy! (from marching band/Alta HS orchestra) Luckily neither of them were affected by the earthquakes. It was great to catch up with them though! Elder Hanson goes home two weeks before I do. 

I really can't believe it's already the last day of April. I don't know where all the time is going! We're going to be busy all throughout May getting ready for the apostle who will be coming to the mission in June. We're all excited, (and just a little stressed haha) but it should be really fun. I think by next week we'll know who it is that's coming!

Thank you so much for your support and prayers this week, I really hope that everyone stays safe and that you keep feeling better Mom! I'm so glad that the Lord really does hear our prayers.

Have a great week! See you next Sunday for Mother's Day!

Lots of Love,
Elder Hales =)

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Querida Familia! 

So many things have been going on lately that the week seems to have flown by, and at the same time, last Saturday seems like it was an eternity ago. Luckily all the missionaries in our mission are 100% okay, and there were no lasting damages to missionaries houses either. There has been, however, a lot of damage to the country. Here in Guayaquil (about 300 miles from the center of the quake) the biggest damages were one bridge that collapsed, and one big mall whose movie theater ceiling fell in. In total here there were only 4 deaths. 

The real damage was done in the Poor Guayaquil West mission. They had to pull out four zones from the most affected areas. All missionaries are okay, but we have heard some incredible stories about missionaries who had to basically hitch hike 8+ hours to get to Guayaquil. We`ve been working a lot with the West mission, helping them get the materials they need to support all the missionaries that lost so much. It truly has been a humbling experience, and I`m so grateful that our mission wasn`t as affected. What I`m truly grateful for, is the fact that God protects his missionaries. =)

The hardest thing to see though are all the affected families. Guayaquil is really an immigrant state, and almost everyone you talk to has family that lives in the most affected areas. Our ward mission leader lost a nephew, and has taken it pretty hard, (as I`m sure we all would) but seems to be recovering well. We had our mission coordination meeting, and he shared a powerful testimony of the spirit world and the love of Christ. It is such a comfort to know the plan of God. 

They actually canceled church on Sunday because they were worried about a possible after shock. So we were unable to see the missionary training broadcast. Tomorrow will be the regular sacrament meeting though. Hopefully lots of people will be able to come.

But a lot of good things happened this week as well! Monday will be the first choir practice and i`m excited. We`ve got the music picked out, with one number being a special melody of ``Called to Serve`` with ``We Are All Enlisted`` and it sounds really cool! I might be asked to be the accompanist if no one else volunteers, which will mean some late night practicing, but I don`t know who else could do it because we are the only missionaries that have a piano in their home to practice. We`ll see how it all turns out on Monday. =)

Also my companion and I are going to a baptism in another stake in Guayaquil tonight. President gave my companion permission because he taught this family about a year ago, and the last member of the family finally decided to get baptized but asked that my companion Elder Norris perform the ordinance. It`s exciting to hear that the work is still going forward.

More exciting news is that the mission nurses (Hermana Yeakey and Hermana Palmer) are having a baptism this week! They are so excited. They have been in the office as the nurses for their whole missions so far, (17 and a half months) and this is the second baptism they`ve had in all this time. They`re extremely happy to end their missions with another baptism, and I get to do the interview on Wednesday. =)

Mom, I wrote you a quick message already, but I just wanted to say again how much I love you, and how much we are praying for you! You are such a hero for me. =) 

I hope that everyone has a great week! Take care, and remember that you are in my prayers!

Lots of Love,
Elder Alcuma from Chile showed Jonathan this picture this week.  Who can find Kyle?

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Querida Familia!

I couldn´t believe it when I saw the size of Mom´s cast! She is by far the most careful out of all of us! It does make me laugh a little though thinking that the two women in our family are the only ones who have broken bones now. :P Remember Mom how much we love you! I know it must be hard to have to take some down time, but remember that we are all more than happy to show you some extra love!

It sounds like everyone has been doing really well! I can´t believe that Emily is officially done with school! I do think it´s a little funny though that she is going to go right back to school in just a few months. I know that she will be such a fantastic teacher.

We´ve been staying really busy here in the office. Our mission president is traveling around the mission doing interviews with all the missionaries, so every once in a while we´ll get phone calls with some extra tasks that he needs done, but can´t do because he´ll be in another area. We´ve been managing though. =)  

Yesterday President called me with some really interesting news! I can´t remember if I told you, but an apostle is coming to visit our mission in June. We don´t know which one it will be yet, but President called and asked me if I would be willing to work with the West Guayaquil mission and put together a choir of missionaries to perform when he comes! I have to pick out 10 elders and 10 sisters, and I´m going to direct the music for the actual performance, and lead the practices. Luckily there is a lot of talent in our mission so it shouldn´t be too hard. It should be a great experience and I´m so excited. =)

Then on Friday, our mission president invited us to lunch because the sister that makes all the lunches for the zone conferences and new missionary trainings turned 60.Her name is Hermana Lilian. We got her a small bouquet of flowers and sang O´My Father to the music of Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing. It turned out pretty good, and we were all happy that she had a great birthday. Because we help out with all the zone conferences we have come to know Hermana Lilian really well. She was really happy about the whole thing. =)

We´ve also really been blessed to be working with a couple of really good families right now. I don´t know if I´ve already told you about Hermano Alex, but he´s a less active member. His sister is a member from Ventanas who would give us lunch on Saturdays! When he heard that Elder Norris and I both had met his sister he was really excited to listen to us. He went to General Conference and was really touched by Elder Christofferson´s talk about fathers. He´s been making a lot of progress and is starting to give up an alcohol addiction. Really it has been such a blessing to see how the atonement has taken affect in his life.

Tomorrow should be a good day too because we´re having an area broadcast from Peru where the area presidency will speak to Ecuador, Venezuela, and Colombia. It should be really exciting! We´ve been privileged to have a couple of great conferences lately!

Thank you so much for your support and love! I´m so proud of all of my siblings, and Mom I really hope you have a quick recovery. Let Dad hold down the fort for a little while. I´m sure he´ll be more than willing. ;)

I love you all, have a great week!

Elder Hales =) 

Sunday, April 10, 2016

My Dear Family,

Mom! I was so sad to hear about your poor foot! I'm sure that must be so painful for you! And right before your birthday. What awful luck! I will be sure to pray for you even more in these next few weeks. 

But I'm also glad that everyone was able to have some really good family bonding time at the national parks! There are so many beautiful things that we are so lucky to have in this world! I'm glad that everyone was able to enjoy themselves. Just stay safe! 

The rainy season has really extended this year! As I'm writing we're experiencing a real down poor! There are still some that are saying that it's still the year of the Nino, and that we'll have even more rains in May, but I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Everyone is so excited about the temple that was announced in Quito! We actually watched the Sunday sessions in Spanish to be able to sit with our investigators. We didn't even hear where the other three temples were announced because the whole chapel went into an uproar of excited comments. I can't imagine what the reaction was like in Quito. The neighbors probably thought that someone had scored a goal ;) It does make a lot of sense to me though that they are going to build a temple out their. Every weekend there are about two or three buses that come in from a small town called Ortavalo - you have to look it up! Ortavalo is the town where the native Ecuadorians live. Their first language is called Quitchua, and it's similar to Mayan. They are some of the most faithful members, and the temple in Quito will reduce their travel to the temple from 12 hours to 2 hours. 

Elder Rydalch is feeling a little sad because he's going home on May 1st. But he's very excited to start playing basketball for the University of Utah. Every day for our morning exercises we go out to the park right in front of our house and we play basketball for a half hour. I even got a shot block on Elder Rydalch once! I was very excited and made sure to write it down in my journal, because that was for sure a once in a lifetime moment haha =)

I also wanted to tell you all, thank you so much for your package! It got here on Wednesday and I was so happy. I loved all of the letters that you sent! I especially enjoyed Joseph's fun map and world puzzle, Jacob's hand print chicken, Isaac's positive attitude, Dad's jokes and Mom's love. Also I really really liked the tie that you sent, and I decided that I would wear it when the apostle comes to visit our mission in June. 

I'm so happy that everyone has been able to enjoy their spring break so far, and I hope that everyone will be able to enjoy school on Monday as well. haha =)
Mom get better soon! I hope you have an incredible birthday this week because you are an incredible Mother! I love you all!

Elder Hales =)