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 (FederaciĆ³n 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 =)