Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Letter 22 - 8/16/10

Me. and the super ghetto homes. I really don't like this pic. Is it just me or do I look bloated and fat. bad angle.... I hope. jk I've actually lost some weight so that's why I'm so confused I look so pugdey. anywho.... I'm probably gunna get robbed now, but it's worth it.

This has been a trippy week. I was adjusting to a new companion and new style of teaching, but we're totally good now. He's still coming out of his trainer mode so I kinda have to wiggle myself in there to say something, but it's all coming along well.

To be completely honest I could write a whole letter just about what we saw yesterday. It was absolutely incredible. So the first of the cool things was that the big family (they're a bunch of cousins so there's about five last names. So we just call them Familia Grande) that we've been teaching came to church on their own account this week. The grandma that is a member was going to come but she had to stay and watch the other kids. Four of the boys:
  • Michael (14)
  • Carlos (13)
  • Ricardo (11)
  • Diego (10)
just walked to the church all by themselves because we were late getting to their house. When we got to the church they were all there waiting for us. Talk about the coolest thing. There are two older girls in their twenties. One, Michelle, has classes Sunday morning and couldn't make it, but tried to find another chapel in the afternoon, even though she got lost. She wants to go to church badly. The other one, Angie, also really wants to go to church, but has to attend in an area that's outside of our mission. So we're still working on finding her one. But the whole family is just AWESOME. I really love visiting them, and seeing their progress. The older girls told us that they want to be missionaries, and they were serious. When I heard that my heart seriously jumped. That was one of the coolest things I've heard. Sadly, Michelle has a child, but I know she will be a great example to her child and teach her these truths.

Anyway back to Sunday. So after church and study time we had a few appointments fall through. So Elder Richins wanted to go visit an investigator that lives around a super rough area (more rough than what is usual).

...Saturday morning we were looking for an old investigator in that same rough area. Even though it was 11:30 am I was getting some bad feelings. We couldn't find the guy and I really didn't want to look lost and EVERY corner I turned we saw Negro Jessie gang members (Super notorious, Super dangerous gang). So I really don't know why, but I walked up to these guys to ask where a street was. There were two guys (the guy I talked to looked like someone filled a nail gun full of earrings, gave it to a four-year-old and to him to have fun with this guys face). So as we left I gave him the gangsta slide with the soul pound. Ya know, just doing my thang, keepin it real. We made a contact over there and during the lesson we saw the leader of Negro Jessie, and heard gun shots.
...Saturday night. Elder Richins said he wanted to go over to that area, and I straight up told him no. He's new here and still is learning of how dangerous it is.
FASTFORWARD. we're caught up.

I begrudgingly say ok and we walk over to the other side. I wasn't feeling very good about it, but we went. We walk down a street turn a corner and see a family of about five, and the guy I saw the day before with the disco-ball face comes up and around them. He lifts up his shirt and I saw a gun in his pant waist. I seriously thought he was going to pull it out on us and rob us. Then he turned around and he crony grabbed the dad and they robbed the family. I turned around and saw the look on Elder Richins face then he just ran off. Luckily we were close to the corner, so we got out of sight fast. It was an incredible blessing that the we weren't robbed. Everyone thinks American's are filthy rich. I know for a fact that we were protected at that time. More than I think I even understand. I'm almost positive they never even saw us. And even better Elder Richins now understands how bad it is over there.

So our Sabbath Day was filled with a bunch of other awesome stuff, passed out drunks, people getting into a fight and then a woman running out screaming with a machete, etc. I mean it really doesn't get any better than this. There was a whole bunch more that happened too, but I only have so much time. We had another lesson with Familia Grande and as a was walking away I thought of how awesome it was that amongst all the bad that I'd seen that day, I had seen and experienced so much good at the same time. It really is such an incredible blessing to be in this sector and to find so much good, and then share with them these truths that will bring themselves so many blessings. It's awesome. And then we went and did a Family Home Evening with Familia Albuja. Probably my best friends in the ward. José is someone who really would do anything to help the missionaries and really wants to see this ward grow and be strengthened.

For public information, yes I did feel the earthquake. It was pretty cool. I was studying and I felt my seat shake. It's pretty normal for the house to shake when a semi goes by, but it was stronger and was long. I saw the fan was shaking. So I told Elder Richins to sit down and tell me if he felt anything. When he sat down nothing was going, but then it jerked again. His eyes got huge and said, "Let's go! let's go!" and just ran out of the house. I yelled out to him, "Elder we need a shirt!" all he said was "Don´t worry about it let's go" So I had to go out with him. Being from California and continually hearing about earthquakes, I knew what we were experiencing was nothing to worry about. It was pretty cool, but uneventful where I was. Elder Márquez saw some people out in the street praying the Rosary. It's amazing what it takes for people to remember God.

As far as the investigators go we still have really really great people. Luis Reyes is going to institute. Like the real deal institute that's through the church, not mental institute. He is loving it all. He describe his knowledge for the gospel as a thirst, and it truly is. As I watch him during the lessons it's amazing to see how much of sponge he is. He writes everything down. Such a privilege to teach him.

Fa Campuzano hit a roadblock this week. They're amazingly receptive and want to live these commandments. We taught the law of chastity and they didn't try to rationalize anything. They fully accepted it and said they want to get married, but right now he's trying to get into the Marines and apparently you have to be single when you enter. How this helps the quality of their military I don't know, but I do know that It's impeding on the work of the Lord. So we need to see what we can do about this, but encouraging someone to change careers isn't the easiest. It'll just be a test of their true desires.

Fa. Grande. Amazing amazing. Great great people, and still everyone is really listening and receptive. It's a little difficult to keep the kids interested, especially during the plan of salvation. but we manage.

So that's about it. It's been a really great week, and I hope it was for all of you. Scripture this week is Mormon 9: 19-21.

And if there were miracles wrought then, why has God ceased to be a God of miracles and yet be an unchangeable Being? And behold, I say unto you he changeth not; if so he would cease to be God; and he ceaseth not to be God, and is a God of miracles.
And the reason why he ceaseth to do miracles among the children of men is because that they dwindle in unbelief, and depart from the right way, and know not the God in whom they should trust.
Behold, I say unto you that whoso believeth in Christ, doubting nothing, whatsoever he shall ask the Father in the name of Christ it shall be granted him; and this promise is unto all, even unto the ends of the earth.

Anyone who thinks that God can't bless them or even help them in their lives, believes that God is no longer God. Pray to him in faith and ask him sincerely for what you need. He will provide.

Elder Vuinovic

Letter 21 - 8/9/10

Dirty side... clean happy green side. In all seriousness the dirty side is suuuuuper clean. I actually wouldn't mind touching the water there. When the tide goes down it looks a lot worse and the other areas are almost imcomparably worse. But I don't want to take out my camera there.

This week has been absolutely insane.

First of all it's the end of the change. Tomorrow I officially have three months in Ecuador. Crazy glue. We didn't have any baptisms, but I know that we worked really hard. When we started the change we literally had no one in the program, just recent converts. As of now we have a good amount of really solid investigators, a baptismal date with more to come this week. It's been such an awesome opportunity to be able to make a program out of nothing, it was tough, but fun. There were seriously several nights where I came home and all I could think was "I love being a missionary, I love being a missionary".

Elder Robinson left. It was for sure his time. He's been in this little place for six months and he was starting to loose it. Plus my training was done in my first change, so it was weird to be with my trainer when he wasn't training me. haha. We all thought that he was going until this Wednesday when the assistant, Elder Garcia, stopped by our sector to see what's up, and he told us that Elder Robinson was probably going to stay because the President didn't want to do a lot of changes. So we were getting ready mentally for another change together, but the call never came to confirm that there were no changes. The zone leaders tried to call the office, but no one was answering. So Elder Robinson was a little unhappy to have to go to bed not knowing if he was staying or not. This morning we get a call that he was leaving. He's going to a city called Milagro to train again. He's going to spend about two thirds of his mission outside of the city. Super lucky.

My new companion is Elder Richins. He's really cool. The only bummer is that he went from the largest sector in the city to the smallest. We're going to have a really good change together, especially with how many good people we still have from last change.
Fun fact. I heard from Elder Garcia that National Geographic did a study on the most dangerous cities in the world. After six o'clock is Guayaquil. The most dangerous part of the city is maybe a hundred feet from us across a bridge. YAY! Who need's Compton?
As kind of a investigator update right now we have some great people (as I've already said).

Javier Jiménez.
One night we were walking down a street and I saw a tv on in a house. I always see TVs on, but this time I felt my attention was grabbed a lot stronger. So I called Elder Robinson over and we contacted the house, and he let us right in. He's a really open and really humble guy. The only problem we have is he thinks he's going to move soon. When we taught the restoration he was super open to it. We met with him this last Monday for the second time, and all Sunday before I was praying that he'd read and receive an answer. When we met with him he said he really didn't like reading, but he and his wife (super bonus!) read and prayed, and they really felt that it was true. I was so excited. It'll be so great if he progresses and gets baptized in our program. We meet with him and his wife tonight.

The next is family Campuzano.
Wow. So how we came across them was awesome. One night we were just going around contacting. Elder Robinson asked me were I wanted to go and so I chose this house across the street. The lady let us in, but we only did a few principles and set a return appointment. When we came back she wasn't there, but the people she lives with were. We talked to the guy that answered and started to try to get in to teach him. Then I said something and almost right afterward I felt a strong confirmation that what I said was the right thing. Right after that he let us in to teach. The first lesson went great and the totally understood the Restoration and were also open to the Book of Mormon. Something incredible to see was when we came back we saw her sister outside and the look in her eyes was very dark and cold, and she really didn't want to talk to us, but sister Campuzano was such a bright person, and she really accepts what we teach.

It's such a crazy correlation, but there really is a light in people, and it's crazy to see how much it correlates to their receptiveness of the message/messengers. So when we met the second time they had made us lunch. That wasn't part of the plan, they just made it for us. They ate the chicken feet and they gave us the better cuts. I was so humbled when I saw that. There are some absolutely incredible people. It's such a pleasure to meet people that are so good in a place where you would never guess to find it.

Finally is family Antamba
This is a good one. They're a really huge family. With a gillion cousins all living in the same house. The grandma, Elsa, I found on an interchange. She is an inactive member because she couldn't get to church anymore. We tried to get in that day, but it sounded like they didn't want anything and neither did anyone else in the house. I told Elder Robinson that we should go back. When we showed up they let us right in with out us even saying anything. We taught for a little to one of the kids, Carlos, but it was too busy so we just set a return appointment. When we came back there was a bunch of people listening to us. We got to the second principle, the family, and they all started talking about who does what and kinda venting. Me and Elder Robinson just kinda sat back and watched and listened as we learned about them in their discussion. It was really cool. When we went back on Saturday eleven people were with us. Elder Robinson wanted to just teach Sabbath Day Observance, but I really thought we should finish lesson one. So we did, and it was great. Everyone was listening. It was so awesome to teach people from age six to 70-something and still have everyone's attention. My favorite part was giving the account of the first vision and have everyone's eyes one me. It was so powerful to look in every pair of eyes in the room and tell them of this glorious Restoration, and then to testify that I truly knew that it was true. Yesterday three of the kids went to church; Carlos, Ricardo, and Diego. I'm hoping to be able to get these kids baptized and also help Elsa get back to church. We got her a wheelchair so we're going to see if she wants it tomorrow night at our lesson.

Well it's been a great change/week. I love this opportunity I have to bring this great message to the world. I truly know this is the work of God for all of His children. I truly love my mission and being a missionary, and many of these people, but still I love you all just a little bit more.

Take care and have a great week.
Elder Vuinovic