Saturday, January 30, 2016

My Dear Family,

I´m so proud of my great family! 

Mom, those new organ pieces sound so fun! I´ve been printing off a couple of good classic songs to practice on the piano in the house and it´s been a very fun trip down memory lane playing some of the songs that I played in high school. 

Emily! I can´t believe you´re graduating! That´s so fantastic! I know it´s not for three more months, but it sure sounds like you´re killing your last semester!

Isaac, Mom told me that the jazz band sure sounded good and I believe it! You really have a great talent in the arts, (both music and drawing; I´m still very impressed with all of your paintings. =) )

Jacob, I talked to you a little in the email you sent me, but really I´m proud of all the ways you keep trying to prepare for your mission. That shows some real spiritual maturity. 

Joseph, I´m so proud of you for successfully taking care of the first ever Hales family pet! That´s really quite the accomplishment, and I know you´re doing a lot better than I would have done when I was ten! I can´t believe it´s almost your birthday. You´re so big!

And Dad, it sounds like you´ve been killing it with the cross fit exercising! You are always so focused in the things you try and do. 

We´ve been having some really great adventures here in Guayaquil this week too. (Fortunatly not weather adventures. The rains calmed down this week which was a great blessing. We still however carry umbrellas with as every time we leave the house/office haha =) )

On Tuesday we got a really special treat. Our mission president invited us out to lunch with him and the assistants as a good bye meal for Elder Fernandez. He was by far one of the most serving assistants that we had, and he even taught a bit of Portuguese while we were living together in the mission home. We were all sad to see him go back to Brazil, but he served a fantastic mission.

The big news in the mission is that Elder Rydalch is the newest assistant and now lives with us in the mission home. We´re going to play some basketball for morning exercise in the big center park right behind the house now. Watch out Jacob! ;)

Then on Wednesday we had the treat of hosting 6 of the 11 zones in the mission to a zone conference in our stake center. As the office missionaries we´re always in charge of getting lunch together and setting the tables and plates and serving the food. With a little over 100 missionaries in the chapel it was a little tight, but we talked about a lot of great points, and I don´t think anyone was too uncomfortable.

For P-day today my companion, Elder Gemmel, has both started and finished his BYU application. I´m actually quite impressed that he managed to do it all in one day, but that´s all we´ve been able to do today. I really hope he gets in, but he´s worried his ACT will hold him back. I guess we´ll have to wait and see. This Monday is the last day for applications, and I think that they hear back from BYU sometime during the next month.

I love you all and hope that you have a fantastic week! 

Lots of love,

Elder Hales =)

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Dear Family!

Sounds like everyone had an eventful week! And I´m so glad that you all had the chance to see the temple open house! Isn´t it just incredible? There´s a great video on the website that shows the construction of the temple and I was just stunned by how damaged the tabernacle really was from the fire. It sounds like it will be well loved and well used. =)

Mom, I was so happy to hear about your spiritual experience in the temple thinking of names for your counselors. I also had a really good temple experience this week. We´ve been working with our new convert, Ismael Sáenz, with his family history work, and we had the chance to go with him to the temple to do family names! It was so great, and there is always such a powerful spirit in the temple. Even though we as missionaries can just do the confirmations, it is still such a powerful and peaceful feeling knowing that we can take part in saving ordinances. Ismael was so excited, and he was so happy to help out some of his family members. 

I sure hope that Dad and the scouts can stay warm this week! I couldn´t believe it when Dad told me that this would be his first camp out in his years in scouting that not one of his sons would be going out. I have such great memories of bike rides and camp outs with Dad. I´m so grateful for his great attitude! Sounds like they´ll have fun.

We had the world missionary broadcast this Wednesday, and it was really interesting! The title was ´´Teach Repentance, Baptize Converts.´´ The general mission department talked about how they had been thinking for some time that something that missionaries need to be doing a little better is teaching the doctrine of repentance. They put emphasis in the fact that if a new convert knows how to repent of their sins, they are much more likely to remain active in the church because they´ll know what to do when they get into troubling circumstances. One of my favorite talks was by Bishop Waddell who gave the example of the story of Elijah and the widow who didn´t have any food and was about to gather some sticks to make a last meal for her and her son. He talked about if Elijah hadn´t helped the widow to keep her commitment that she and her son would have died! Also Elder Anderson talked a lot about the promise in Matthew 10:32 and about sharing our testimonies of Christ to as many as will listen to us as the basis of faith. It was a powerful conference! Also there were about four zones from the west mission that also went to our stake center to see the broadcast, and I got to see my good friend Wade Hanson from Alta! It was good to catch up a little bit. He goes home in July.

Then today we had a really fun P-day. Our good friend Elder Fernandez Is going home to Brazil this Tuesday and he wanted to do something fun for his last P-day. So we rented bikes on an island in between Guayaquil and Duran called ´´la isla satay´´ which is a natural wildlife reserve here in Ecuador. We got to see some ´´cocodrilos´´ do some fun tricks. It was really neat! Then for lunch we all pitched in a little bit of money and got a massive pizza (1 meter in diameter!) And it fed all 8 of us with some left over, (and that was with Elder Rydalch eating as well haha =) )

So needless to say, next week I´ll have some great pictures for you when we get together and share the pictures from off of everyone´s cameras. =)

I hope that you all have a great week! I love you all and hope that you stay safe! 

Lots of Love,
Elder Hales =)
Jonathan's companion Elder Grammel

New Year's Eve in Guayaquil

Monday, January 18, 2016

My Dearest Family,

Thank you so much for your letters! I think I´m enjoying having my P-day saturday a little more because I get to hear from everyone. Thank you so much! =)

Also, thanks Mom for sending that forum about the BYU Endorsment. I completed the brief questions, and now I´ll have to schedule an interview with President. The timing was almost perfect because we actually just had interviews with Presidente Riggins this past Tuesday, but I´m sure he´s used to the proccess. He was a Stake President and a BYU Idaho professor. As far as housing and classes go, I have no idea yet! Emily if you have any helpful tips I would be all ears! From what I´ve heard, I think I would rather try and live in Heritage Halls, so if you guys have to sign me up right now that would be my choice as far as housing goes. Thank you for being so on the ball about that Mom! =)

I was happy to hear that Jacob´s basketball game went a little better than last weeks game. Good job on having the game winning steal Jacob! That´s a real MVP move ;) And I also heard that Isaac is enjoying the Jazz Band! That´s so awesome! I really would have enjoyed playing Jazz clarinet in high school, but I guess the piano part is a little more important than the optional clarinet accompaniment haha. (But don´t tell Kyle I said that.) =)

Also how fun that you get to go see Aunt Marianne´s short play! I still think it´s so incredible that she is working at BYU. She really has a great talent for writing, (Her letters are always so hilarious!) And I´m happy that she´s having some success. 

This week the heavy rains have started at least here in Guayaquil. It rained three times last week! We´re just happy that water hasn´t been entering into the house. Our companion in the office, Elder Buttler, had to go to Quevedo to try and find a new house for the sisters that live there because of all the water damage. It was almost a four hour drive, poor guys! Our Mission president asked us all to buy a three day supply of food just in case the streets get flooded and we can´t leave the house. It sounds like we´ll have some good adventures! =)

This week we´ve been getting ready as a mission for the world wide broadcast to all missionaries on Wednesday. We´ve been trying to contact stake and district presidents to make sure that they get the broadcast up in the stake centers for the missionaries. It´s been a bit of a hassle in some areas because they´re also having their stake conferences tomorrow. But in the end it all got worked out. There are a lot of rumors going around the mission as to what the meeting is going to be about. My personal idea  is that they´re going to come out with Preach my Gospel 2.0 but I guess we´ll just have to wait and see. =)

Tonight the sister missionaries are having a baptism and after our P-day we´re going to bring a couple of families to see the Ordinance. It should be a really spiritual experience and I get to play the piano!  We´re really excited for the progress of a new person we found last Saturday night. His name is Hugo Acosta and he lives a block behind the temple. We invited him to church on Saturday night and he came! Then Elder Call (the passport/ visa/ flights home guy) told us that when they went to the state office building to get missionaries visas renewed they saw him reading the Book of Mormon! We´re really excited and it sounds like he´ll be coming tonight to the baptism as well. 

I hope that the weather starts heating up back there! And I hope that everyone has a great week. No one is allowed to get hurt/injured during sports games ;) 

I love you all! Have a great week!

Elder Hales =)

Saturday, January 9, 2016

My Dear Family,

I was so happy to hear from you with all of your great letters! It sounds like everyone had exciting (and busy weeks) but I was so happy that you took the time to write. =)
I will have to start praying that Jacob will be protected from so many basketball injuries! From what I´ve heard his Churchball team also is doing really well, and I might have to officially admit that I won´t be able to beat him in August (just maybe ;) ) 

Mom, Dad, I´m glad that you got the chance to go to the temple together! We also went on Tuesday to the session with a zone before their zone conferences so that was really nice. It had almost been a whole month since the last time we went. (We are so lucky. I know the Guayaquil South missionaries go just twice their whole missions.) There are always such great things we can learn, and above all, the great peace that there is in the temple. Mom I´m sure your talk will be just great! And something that might help you is that there is a part in Preach my Gospel Chapter 10 called ´´listening´´ that has some really great points. Elder Holland says ´´often more important than speaking is listening, these people are not lifeless objects disguised as a statistic. They are your brothers and your sisters who need what we have.´´ It´s a great secction that talks about how we can actively listen.

Here we´ve had a pretty normal week. On Wednesday we had a meeting with our stake presidency, our mission president and all the bishops of our stake and talked about the goals that we have for this next year. They also announced that this next stake conference will take place on the Sunday of Carnival, which if you remember last year was so crazy they didn´t even let us go outside! We´ll see how everything will work out. haha =) 

In the meeting they talked a lot about if we just change our perspective from the pessamistic, ´´there´s no way we can help all the less active members come back to church´´ to a more positive way of thinking ´´If I could just help one family come back´´ that we will be able to do so much more good in our callings. Really it has been a big change going from branches and districts and small wards all my mission to being in what could possibly be the biggest stake in Ecuador, but I feel so blessed that I can help out here. 

The First Presidency also just announced that there will be a worldwide meeting for all the missionaries that are currently in the mission the 20th of January, and our mission president has asked us to spend an extra hour each day in personal study to get ready for the meeting. Sounds like it will be important! I´m excited for the chance that we´ll have to be instructed by our beloved church leaders about missionary work. It truly is such a rewarding work. There is nothing more powerful than the great love and friendships that the gospel helps us create!  

The word on the street is that the ´´Niño´´ has officially started in Ecuador, and this last week we had two huge rainstorms, and rain almost flooded the house. We were busy moving the boxes of Books of Mormon, pamphlets, and other things to keep them from getting wet through the ceilling! I will definitely be using my rain jacket again this season. haha =)

I´m sorry that I don´t have a good picture for you! I left my camera at home, but next week I promise a good one from New Years' Eve, and also of my great companion, Elder Gemmell. 

I hope everyone is doing well and has a great week! Try and stay warm and I will too ;) 

Lots of Love, 
Elder Hales =)

Saturday, January 2, 2016

My Dear Family!

I´m happy that everyone had a great New Year´s! We actually had quite an experience with the neighbors. I´ll have to try and send you the video, but mom to answer your question,the neighbors were burning those massive dolls, (they´re called monigotes) and they almost got the big tree outside our house on fire. People really enjoyed their New Year's festival haha. =)

But I´m happy to hear that the traditional Hales/Hotvedt family New Years party was so fun! It´s great that everyone is enjoying the holidays. Also I wanted to congratulate Isaac for his spin class! That´s so great, Isaac! I´m so happy that you´re getting into serious training! I´m super Impressed. =)

It sounds like everyone is starting the New Year with some great resolutions! I also made a couple of goals, and I am sure that 2016 will be a fantastic year.

One of the fun things that I got to do in the office this week was receive the new group of missionaries that just got to the mission. There were 4 from the Colombian MTC, and 2 from the Provo MTC. It was actually a really great experience. Seeing them with all their excitement and nervousness really helped me remember how much I have grown as a missionary and as a person. One of the new elders name is Elder Lopez from none other than Rupert, Idaho! I asked him if he knew any Chuggs and we tallked for a little bit. It turns out that Bedstemor was his elementary school teacher! I couldn´t believe it. The world is so small in the gospel sometimes! I hope he has a fantastic mission, but I felt bad for his parents because they were in the MTC for Christmas.

Also I´m so happy to hear about Christoffer! That´s so fantastic, and I know that the Lord will make everything line up as he prepares to go on a mission. Really there are so many eternal benefits to serving a mission, and I know that this is the best thing he could possible do. =) 

I´m sorry that this is so short this week. It´s because we actually had to take our P day yesterday, but they gave us a little time to write today because all the Cybers and the office were closed for New Years. Remember that I love you and hope you all have a great week getting back into the normal routine. 
I love you all. Happy New Year! 
Elder Hales =)