Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Letter 20 - 7/26/10

So this week was for sure one of the tougher. I think it was the week with the lowest amount of lessons, but we had one of the two kids (Kevin and Yulexy) come to church so he'll be baptized this week. Yay!

The biggest problem this week was that we had a lot of appointments fall through. I'm guessing because this week was "Guayaquil Week" so everyone was away and partying. Also because my comp is District Leader two nights he had to go do baptismal interviews, which are the most vital times to be teaching.

We've found some good people in a family that have serious potential to progress and are completely willing to go to church, but they have difficulties because of their work. They leave at five thirty in the morning to work and don't get home til nine. So the only time we can meet with them is on Sunday. Not the easiest situation for a smooth progression. So we going to have to work with that.

This week more than anything has taught me about just going out and being diligent at all times. It's not been easy in such a small sector, but I've really done a lot of relying on guidance during the day, and I'm trying really hard to figure out something new that can be done to get more investigators. I'm still maintaining my greenie fire, but trying to be more organized. For sure still learning a lot.

So I found a really good scripture on diligence, but of course I forgot it. So I'll give a double next week. Anyway I love you all so much and thank you for your continued support.

Elder Vuinovic

Friday, July 16, 2010

Letter 19 - 7/16/10

This week has been one of the best.

We didn't have anyone come to church this week, but I've really learned a lot this week and felt a lot of changes. The biggest is when I had my "I'm actually a missionary" epiphany. It happened on Thursday when we came back early.

Pause... Let me explain why we came back early. We were looking for things to do so we decided to try and get into this apartment complex to try and find more people. There are buildings like this everywhere that hide so many houses, but you can't get in because the area is so unsafe that they only let in the people who live there. So we decided to pray first to see if we could get a little extra help trying to get into this place. So we went behind a bus that wasn't being used so we weren't praying in the street. Right in the middle of the prayer we heard a loud bang. At first I just thought it was a really REALLY loud engine backfire, because that's what always happens here. Then I thought, "Wait, that was an actual gun shot." Right after I thought that, we heard another one. I finished up the prayer and saw a cop, about 100 ft. from us, get back into his car and drive off. He had shot twice across a freeway, at some robbers probably. I almost instantly felt a feeling like, "just go home." I was glad because this happened right around the corner from our house.

Now that you are caught up, I had some extra time to just sit and think. I realized how crazy it was that I'm a legit missionary. It's something I've waited for for so long. Years and years, and now I'm official. It's such a thrill to see my name next to Elder on paper work too. And having those small moments where the Spirit prevails in a lesson are such great blessing. I absolutely love everything about the missionary work and the tough parts just make the good times even better. I absolutely love my sector. (Despite how Ghe-TOW it really is)

I especially love my ward. That's one thing I really felt this Sunday. There are only a few members who are truly active and help the missionaries. Those people mean everything to the ward, and I love them so much. I already would be sad to leave these people behind.

The next day we were reading in "Preach My Gospel" and we read all the intro stuff from the First Presidency. As we were reading it my perception of my sector changed completely. It's not just this little plot that I've been placed in. This is my "part of the vineyard" that I've been given to harvest, and now I really think of it as my sector of the vineyard. It's such an incredible honor to be able to be entrusted with a piece of God's greatest work. I was so grateful for that experience. It's helped me change my views and attitudes of work everyday.

Last night we met with the Gonzalez family. We found the dad because he was visiting a member when we stopped by his house. The member, José Albuja, said that before he would joke around with the missionaries, but wouldn't want to listen to the message, but this time it was serious. We had an incredible lesson with them and the presence and testimony of José made all the difference. The Spirit testified strongly and there was a lot of trust in what we were saying because of the support from their friend. Working through the members truly is the best way to work, and the only way to work if you plan on retaining the converts. I really value that experience this early in the mission.

Finally, we had a lesson with a girl named Brenda. Her family is super-hardcore Evangelical and were saying some untrue things about us. We asked her if she felt that these things were true and especially that the Book of Mormon is true. She just kept saying that she was so confused because she was caught between what we were saying and what her family was saying. Elder Robinson was getting super frustrated because he would say, "What do you have to do to not be confused?" "Pray." she'd say. "Ok, will you pray?" he'd say. "I don't know. I'm so confused." ...This went on as a near eternal round until we finally got her to pray. I explained what she had to do with all the faith and love that I could muster. As she finished the prayer a gentle wave of peace came over me and the tension in the room dissipated. It was amazing. She too felt better as a result from the prayer. Elder Robinson told me afterwards that his frustration was swept away and he too felt the peace that was there. It was such a great reminder that the Book of Mormon is everything people say it is, and my testimony is again strengthened.

I want everyone to know for sure that I know the Book of Mormon is a true book from prophets who held the true authority from God. I am not here because it was expected of me. I am serving this two years away from home show to the people of Ecuador that God is the same today, tomorrow, and forever. For that reason I want everyone at home to know the same. That truth is on the Earth and it can be found in a powerful testimony that all can attain through the Book of Mormon. Love you all so much, and I testify of this truth in the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Elder Vuinovic

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Letter 18 - 7/4/10

Happy 4th..... 5th of July!!
IN all seriousness, I was really missing home yesterday. I really wanted to smell BBQ and blow something up. But we at least bought a cake on saturday and they wrote "America" and "234" for us. 234 because that's how many years ago it was since the Declaration of Indendence for all those who slept through US history. The only thing it lacked was vanilla ice cream, but beggars can't be chosers.

So first awkward experience of the week. We've been doing door contacts all week trying to find people. One of the houses we sent to the guy sounded a little off while we were talking to him. The stuf he was saying almost sounded recited. He realized who we were and started rattling off all these things about the church. Stuff like the prophet, how 'powerful he thought the Ensign is, asked about conference. What really threw me was he said he has "Jesus the Christ" memorized. But I believed him because he told us how Talmage talks about a discrepency between two of the gospels and even cited the page. We ended the contact because he said he liked his church, but I had to take some time and digest what had happened, and then realized that he was autistic. Normally they have an obsession with numbers, but for him it was religious facts. It was so insane. We walked by his house another day and sure enough he was there reading some religious magazine. I was seriously trippin' out about how much he knew.

Then this Saturday while we were walking around we heard something buzzing. We looked up and saw it was something on the power lines. There was this arc that was just raging and it got super hot. So much so that the coating caught on fire. Which actually was really awesome because you had this really bright arc surrounded in flames. We thought (hoped) it was going to blow up. But it didn't. It was still a great precursor to the 4th of July. Just goes to show how ghetto it is in Ecuador.

Health advisory. When you haven't eaten for 24 hours it's not a good idea to load up on hot stuff. I had just ended my fast when we went over to a member's house to have lunch with them. I brought over this hot sauce another member made for me from a local pepper called ají. It also had these things called rosilla which are decently spicy. I normally eat the sauce with anything so I wasn't worried about adding a lot. Only thing is before I went to eat my rice I added more, and had forgotten how much was already there. Then Elder Robinson added a lot more with four rosilla bulbs. It started eating the bulbs and my rice, and it was pretty spicy, even for me. But when I finished my rice I felt really dizzy and my eyes couldn't focus. It started to feel almost drowsy too. When we went back home afterwards I realized, "wow I ate a crazy unhealthy ammount of ají on an empty stomach and I'm probably hi right now." I don´t know what it was, but it was a bad ride and I just wanted off. in conclusion. Kids don't eat too much ají, it's a train that just doesn't end. haha.

I met the president this week (again). He called a huge meeting to meet a lot of the missionaries and kind of talk to us about what he's going to change. He's already made alot of changes. It's really different from how it was before. A lot of missionaries are having a hard time, but it'll just take time to understand what he wants to do with the program. He's much more business than President Johns, so it'll be interesting to see how that translates to the mission program.

As far as the work goes we're still looking for people. We found some good people, but they haven't progressed or don't want to anymore. We still have those two awesome kids though Kevin and Yulexey (Do-lex-e). The whole family is just great and really open and accepting of the message. The parents just need to fix their marriage situation, but for now the two kids have the baptismal dates. We're going to start to have to work in the more dangerous third of our sector because we've kind of run out of room otherwise. So it'll be interesting to see how the week turns out. I'm guessing two robberies one with a knife the other without. hahaha jk.

So "suggested reading" for the week is a talk by Elder Holland. It's called "The Best Is Yet To Be" and it referrences Luke 17:32 where the Savior cautions, "Remember Lot's Wife". It's really really powerful. It talks about living in the past and how by not letting the past be the past (but still learning from it) we inhibit ourselves from learning the great things God has placed in front of us. It's really helped me and my comp during this time of change and also for when I get a wave of homesickness. Love you all, and hope you have a great week.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Letter 17 - 7/1/10

End of my first change!! I can´t believe how fast it´s going already, and this is supposed to be the slowest one. I´m still with Elder Robinson for the next change. It´ll be his last, though, because he's been here for three changes already. We're excited to be starting the program fresh for this change too.

We rearranged the house to innagurate the change. The only person that left was Elder Tobar, which was really sad because he wanted to stay the most. He loved his sector so much, but because there were clashes with the Bishop there had to be a change. What's more is that he really didn't want to leave the city and he ended up in the sector farthest away from the city.
This week went really well. We had to completely start our program over. People weren't progressing so we had to drop them. We've been going street by street knocking every door. It's been really interesting, and I've liked it a lot actually. There's more of a game to it. We've met some really god people that have serious potential. We just need to help them progress by understanding the importance of what's going on. What was really great was on day we were walking down the street and I looked around and thought, ¨Wow. I really do love this place.¨ I really do enjoy my sector. It's really just doing the work makes you love it. This sector has been closed seven or eight times in the last tem years because things don't really progress here, or hadn't progressed, and it's not the prettiest, to say it nicely. But it's still great.
Once again we had an encounter with a drunk. He was urinating on the wall and was yelling out to us as we were walking behind him and said, ¨Hey you gotta say hi to me. You gotta say hi to me.¨ He quickly finished and came over to us to shake elder Robinson's hand. All I thought was, ¨Please just keep talking to Elder Robinson.¨ Sure enough he walked up to me too. Luckily I had germ-x. BAM! It was still gross making myself shake his hand, but hey it's all part of the experience right? (See comment from Steve)

President Johns leaves this week. I feel pretty sad about it. He is such an amazing man. I really felt close to him even in the first two weeks. He'll be called as a Seventy for sure. There's for sure more things for him to do in the work. This Friday I get to meet our new mission president. AGAIN! President John's told me that he still remembered me and has asked about me. Needless to say , I was really excited to hear that.
Well, that's it for now.
I love you all so much!
Have a great week :)
Elder Vuinovic