Saturday, February 27, 2016

Mi Querida Familia! =)

It sounds like everyone had an eventful week! Dad, I´m glad that you´re getting so many good service opportunities, and Mom that´s so great that you are able to do a special musical number in Relief Society in the 7th ward! You have such a wonderful talent with the piano, and it is always such a treat to hear you play.

It also sounds like Jacob enjoyed the choir tour. I will say though that I thoroughly enjoyed Disneyland when I went at the end of my senior year. But I would say that 95% of the fun you have at Disneyland depends on if you have good people to wait in line with you. haha =) It also sounds like Joseph is doing so well with his fish! He told me that both are still alive and I was very impressed. Isaac I´m also really proud of all the exercise you´ve been getting in. You´ll be a great help to your mountain biking team!

On Monday I got your package! I was so happy, and my roommates were also happy because there was plenty of candy to share. ;) Thank you for always thinking about me, I hope that everyone had a Happy Valentine´s Day. 

One of the big advantages of working in the office is that we live with the President's assistants. On Tuesday they gave some really stunning news. During our companionship study, Elder Rydalch came in and told us that my companion, Elder Gemmell, is going to be transferred this Monday from the office and is going to my old sector in Ventanas! The new elder that is coming in has been really sick and they´re trying to help him to be able to stay in the mission. They are hoping that being in the office will be good for his health. He´s actually an elder that got to Ecuador on the same day that I did, but from the Provo MTC. It´ll be interesting having a new companion as this will be my first companion change in the office. I I hope that I can help my new companion adapt to the changes. Elder Gemmell is pretty bitter sweet about leaving. There are good things and bad things about each transfer. All this week though he´s been busy trying to get things ready for the new elder coming in. We went to Chili´s today as a sort of goodbye lunch. It was great and everyone was really happy just being together.

A mission president has a lot of responsibilities, but one of the biggest duties is that the mission president is in charge of all of the districts and branches in the mission. In our mission limits there are three districts, Vinces, El Triunfo, and Ventanas. So every missionary that leaves from one of those branches has to come to the mission office and have an interview with Presidente Riggins and get set apart. Yesterday one of the young men that would come with us to teach our lessons came into the office and President invited me to be part of the circle while he was set apart! It was definitely the spiritual highlight of the week and made me remember a lot of good memories from my time in both Vinces and Ventanas. The gospel really is such an incredible gift that links our lives with so many others.

This next week should be really exciting as well. We have a couple of big things in store for March. There are going to be Zone conferences in just a few weeks, and then the monthly leadership conference as well. The Church is also coming out with an Easter campaign. I don´t know if the video has come out in the states yet, but we´re still waiting for them to release it here. It looks really good! The Church always tries to do special things for Christmas and Easter.

I hope everyone has a great week! Just think in two or three more weeks, AIM, Federation,and third quarter, will be all over! I can´t believe how quickly time is flying!

I love you all, and remember that you´re in my prayers! 
Lots of love,

Elder Hales =) 

Saturday, February 20, 2016

(This email is from Feb. 13th.  We didn't get it last week, so Jonathan resent it today.)

Mi Querida Familia! 

What a great week it sounds like everyone has been having! First of all I want to say that I´m so happy that Joseph has been having a great birthday. =) Joseph you are such a fun kid and always full of energy! I hope you have a fantastic birthday.

Also Mom, it sounds like you´ve been working hard on the organ. It must be so fun to play in such a big music hall! I don´t know how you do it all, but I´m so proud to have such a diligent and dedicated mother. =)

Carnaval this last week was a lot more peaceful this year than last year to say the least. I was worried it might be a lot bigger being in the big city, but Guayaquil is close to several beaches (Salinas, Quenca, Manabi and some others as well). So the city was actually a bit of a ghost town. After getting totally soaked last year in Babahoyo I´m not complaining.  

It was a little difficult receiving the new missionaries though, because the airport was PACKED with people who were traveling for the holiday. After a little longer than usual however we managed to get the three missionaries (and all their luggage thank goodness!) to our Mission President´s house. All three of them are from Lima, Perú, and the running joke in the mission is that there are more missionaries from Perú than from Utah right now. I don´t know if that´s true or not, but there sure are quite a few from Perú that have been assigned to the mission.

This last week there were a lot of transfers in the mission. The most notable is that our friend Elder Call (the personal secretary of President) got his replacement. The new missionary is Elder Oyler from Ogden, and he played the trumpet with Nik Clark in the all-state jazz band! I thought that was so fun! He´s a great addition to the office staff and has a great spirit. Plus on P-days now I have someone to do jazz solos with on the piano in our house haha =)

The other big news this week is that we´ve been trying to get ready for Stake Conference which is today and tomorrow. Elder Calderon (the area 70 that spoke in Babahoyo and that also visited our mission) will be speaking and presiding. It should be really great! All week we´ve been handing out flyers and inviting people to come, so it should be great!

To answer your question, Mom, there has been quite a bit of talk about Zika among other nasty things from mosquitos, but we´re putting on repellent before we leave the office and when we go to sleep. Plus we have the extra protection from the Lord. =) 

I love you all so much, and I´m so glad that you´re all able to enjoy Joseph´s birthday together, Remember that I´m praying for you! Stay safe! 

Lots of love,
Elder Hales =)
Hola Familia! =)

Wow! We had another jam packed week! It sounds like with AIM test, scout campouts, and presidency meetings that you guys stayed busy as well! 

Last Sunday we had an incredible stake conference with Elder Calderon. He talked a lot about being self sufficient. One of the big problems here in South American wards is that the bishop often feels very overwhelmed. So he talked quite a bit about how we can better support our wards. And of course he also talked about keeping the Sabbath day holy. No surprises there, but it was a fun reminder. We had a very good attendance at the stake conference though with a mission president, stake president, temple president, and an area 70. All of whom shared a few words. I really loved what the temple president said though. ´´If we are not in the path that leads to making and keeping temple covenants, than it doesn´t really matter what path we are on.´´ What a powerful reminder!

Last week my companion, Elder Gemmell, got called to be the new district leader! He was really disappointed because he was really hoping to get transferred from the office back into the general mission field, but this new assignment has helped keep his spirits up. We did two companionship interchanges this week, one with the zone leaders, and one with two elders from our district. It was a good trip down memory lane because on Wednesday I was working again with Elder Peralta who was in our district in Ventanas. Good times =)

We´re running to the church in the mornings and playing basketball as our daily ejercicios. That´s a warning, Jacob. ;) 

On Friday we had a pretty good experience working with a couple who are ward missionaries. They took us to go see a less active member named Marcos Rodriguez. Marcos is a diabetic who has lost both his legs. He expressed his desire to come back to church, and just needs someone to help him out with the transportation. His brother is not a member and is willing to listen to us when we come, so it was a win win situation! It really was a tender meeting, and we set it up with the Elder´s quorum president. He officially has a ride to church now. Really there are so many people who just need someone to talk to.

Sorry for cutting my letter short. (I find that I have less things to talk about when about two thirds of each day is spent in the mission office. Not to complain because I know that I´m serving in another way. It´s just not quite something you write home about haha =) ) but I just wanted to say thank you for all the great support that you always share with me.

I hope that everyone has safe and exciting weeks! 

Lots of Love,
Elder Hales. =) 
Elder Gemmell, Jonathan and Elder Oyler

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Dear Family,

I´m sorry that we got on the computer so early today! I know that you all like having time to write on Saturday mornings (and the time difference doesn´t help either). The office is going to close today early because this weekend is a national holiday here. I don´t know how we forgot, but this is the weekend of Carnival so that should be really interesting. I don´t think the people will be as crazy here as they were in the small town of Babahoyo but I guess you never really know!

On Tuesday and Wednesday there were conferences for all the zone leaders in the mission and we got to go to the temple with them in the morning. I know I´ve said this a couple of times already, but the temple is truly a ´´home away from home´´ and I´m so glad that we have a temple in our mission! We even went again today in the morning for an early P-day activity. =)

This week has been a little quiet, but we´ve been trying to get ready for this next week. A lot of missionaries go home tomorrow, and we need to do our presentations with them, and also get everything ready in the mission for the new missionaries that are coming here. But it´s always fun to greet the new missionaries. They have a great spirit about them. 

I´m really glad to hear that Grandpa is recovering from his broken hip. Really I think both of my sets of grandparents have been blessed with great strength. When I told my companion that Grandpa had gotten hurt he told me ´´Well what was he doing working out on a farm at his age?´´ I thought it was so funny, because Grandpa is so full of life and energy.

Sorry to write so little this week, but we need to go over to President´s house to get things ready for his last dinner with the missionaries that are going home. 

I love you and pray for you always! Have an incredible week!

Love Elder Hales =)
Riding bikes on the island of Santay

Crocodile refuge

Pizza! Pizza!