Tuesday, May 29, 2012

First Week in Ecuador!

Hello family and friends :)

Elder Remington & Elder Alvarez
Wow where do I even begin... so much has happened in the past week its crazy! So first of all I finally brought my camera with me for email writing time so I have some pictures of the mtc and Ecuador. The first two are my two companions in the mtc (the white Elder was in my intermediate class and obviously Elder Jarquin was in the advanced class) they're both great and I was super close with both of them. Then the picture of Elder Alvarez and I was taken outside of our house. That's the only picture of Ecuador that I have so far cause I haven't had much time to take any but don't worry mom I will take more and send more next week :) Elder Alvarez is a great trainer, obedient, hardworking, and funny but he doesn't speak any English! This has made communicating and working together effectively very difficult at times but luckily my Spanish has been improving tremendously and whenever there's a word I don't understand he's really good at either acting out the word or describing it in a way that I can understand :) we make it work! His patience, his ability to teach me well, the fact that I'm surrounded by people who only speak Spanish, and above all blessings and strength from the Lord have all helped my mastering of Spanish accelerate at a phenomenal rate! Elder Alvarez says that I speak fluent and my accent is solid I just need to improve my ability to understand everything that I hear because when they get going super fast I only understand about 50% haha but luckily I can almost always say what I want to say. I was talking with the Bishop's wife when we had lunch at their house and she said that I speak the language as well as some American missionaries do when they've been out a year in the field so that made me feel pretty good :) I know that it truly isn't me though all credit goes to the Lord. When we put our trust in him and do our part by being obedient and working hard then the Lord blesses us. I've learned this week that the gift of tongues and the gift of interpretation are real and they really can bless our lives if we put our faith in the Lord and are in tune to the Spirit :)

Oh also before I forget I want to apologize for some of my comments in the last email. After having written that I realized that it's not my place to judge, people aren't perfect, and I need to focus on seeing the good in people not harping on the negative things. Those missionaries that goof around during study time are human and they have a lot to learn but I shouldn't have been so hard on them. And I'm no where near perfect either. I still have a lot to learn and a long way to go so I wanted to say that yes there are missionaries who mess around during study time and they shouldn't do that but I need to focus on the positive things. The truth is the majority of the missionaries in the mtc and the field have burning testimonies of Christ that they want to share with the world and they're doing a good job :)

Anyway, I also wanted to say that it was great chatting with you mom and dad at the airport and congrats to Jessica and Eliza on their graduations :) exciting times and lots of changes for all of us! Thanks for keeping me posted on how the family's doing and what's new in America haha. Oh also in answer to your question I found out that anyone can send me emails but I unfortunately cannot write emails to anyone except for family. So if you could tell Tyler Lythgoe, Russell, Arianna, and Aunt Tami that I can't write them back but that I really appreciated there emails and it was great hearing from them :) oh and Russell or I guess Elder Fischer was asking for my address so if you could let him and anyone else know that it's this below that'd be great thanks :) love to hear from anyone who wants to email or write a letter.

Mission Ecuador Guayaquil Norte
Edificio Mallorca 4 Piso
Casilla 16160
Guayquil- Ecuador

An amazing quote that I heard was "Obedience brings blessings and exact obedience brings forth miracles" BAM! Is that powerful or what? I love that quote and here in the field I've been doing my best to apply it everyday :) also in the field I have found scripture mastery to be incredibly useful in multiple teaching situations. I am sad that I didn't take scripture mastery very seriously with Old Testament as a freshman but I am extremely grateful that I worked hard and focused on knowing my Book of Mormon scripture mastery inside and out because that has paid off big time! Scripture mastery is very very useful not only as a missionary but in our daily lives whenever we have a trial or a question. So Eliza and anyone else that is in seminary take scripture mastery seriously and work hard because I promise it will be well worth.

I'm sorry I don't have as much time as I wanted to describe Ecuador but let me give you a brief overview and I'll go into more detail next week. Ecuador is incredible! I love it here! It truly is a completely different world here. Words cannot adequately describe the poverty we see here everyday and yet these people are so happy. I know its cliche and cheesy and utterly unoriginal but its so true that I have to say it... money does not bring happiness. The most important things in this life are the gospel and our families and when those are the first priorities in our life then we'll have peace, joy, and happiness in this life and eternal salvation in the life to come :) it has been a wonderful experience already to be immersed in a new culture and share precious truths with the people of Empalme, Ecuador (Empalme is the name of my first area) Empalme is a small town and one of the poorest areas in the mission but one of the highest baptizing areas in the mission :) cha ching! I love it here! I am literally the only white person in the entire town and I am at least a foot taller than everyone here so needless to say I stick out big time! It's pretty funny to see the look on people's faces when they see a giant gringo in a shirt and tie walking up to their house hah a especially the little kids because some of truly have never seen an American before in their entire lives! Anyway it's great here I love learning more about Ecuador and the people love to hear stories about the United States and my family :) its amazing!

This is the true church of Jesus Christ established on the earth and we are all so blessed to have it in our lives to bless and protect us everyday. Never forget it!
I love you all very much :)
Elder Remington

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Jacoby's 3rd letter

Hello family and friends :) Hope you're all doing great!

First of all I want to say thank you very much to everyone that has sent me letters and packages I've really appreciated hearing from all of you and I loved all the food that I received. Haha, my district especially loved the cinnamon rolls! I'm sorry that I haven't written anyone back yet we don't have very much spare time here but I will be sure to write you all back asap! A LOT has happened this week both good and bad but of course mostly good :)

I'll start off with the bad and finish with the good. Lots of missionaries here do not belong here. Plain and simple. It's sad but true. The other day I went to get a drink of water with my companion during study time and I was alarmed to see that a lot of the other "servants of the Lord" who are set apart as missionaries were just goofing off and not working at all. I saw some playing hangman, just laughing and being disruptive, elders and sisters flirting and being stupid, and many other pathetic things! It's absolutely unbelievable! For all the future missionaries reading this, study time is the Lord's time, it is sacred. When you waste that sacred study time that the Lord has blessed you with to better prepare to serve God's children you are robbing your Heavenly Father because you are wasting HIS time. DO NOT. I repeat, DO NOT be like any of these disgraceful elders or sisters. Be a valiant and honorable servant of the Lord. Work hard. When you study as hard as you can and give your best effort learning as much as you possibly can then the Lord will bless you with guidance, strength, and most importantly with the Holy Ghost when you'll need it in teaching situations. Work hard and the Lord will protect you. Slack off and you have no promise. It's that simple.

Anyway, enough of that! This entire week was very uplifting in many ways :) I really learned and grew a lot! I'm very blessed to have a companion that likes to work hard and study hard like me so we've been kicking some serious butt here! One of the spiritual experiences that stood out to me most was when we were teaching the 3rd lesson the Gospel of Jesus Christ and we both bore testimony of the power of repentance and the cleansing power of baptism. The spirit was so thick we could've cut it with a knife it was incredible. We all felt a deep peace and we couldn't stop smiling. The Holy Ghost really confirmed to me the truthfulness of this message. Our teacher then gave us some great advice. He said to remember how we feel right now and never forget that as long as we bring the Spirit into the lessons and as long as we feel the Spirit then we're doing our duty and regardless of how the investigators respond (they have their agency) we can know that God is pleased with us and we're doing the right thing. I know that as I keep that in mind, I will be able to get through rough times in my mission as I just continue to do my part.

I'd like to share with you all my testimony of the Restoration. When we taught this week about the First Vision I felt the Holy Ghost bear witness to all of us with absolute certainty that Joseph Smith did see Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Through the prophet Joseph Smith, the fulness of Christ's true gospel was restored to the earth and we are so blessed to have that knowledge in our lives. If there are any of you who have your doubts or who aren't as certain about Joseph Smith. I promise you all that if you will read the Joseph Smith History, ponder, and pray with a sincere heart and with real intent (meaning you will act on whatever answer you receive) you will know for yourself that Joseph Smith was God's true prophet and he did translate the Book of Mormon by the power of God and he did restore the true church of Jesus Christ. I bear you my witness of these things.

Also I want everyone to read Helaman 5:12 and think about how we can all make Jesus Christ the foundation of our lives. If we put Jesus Christ at the center of our lives then our testimonies will always be unshakable. I love you all and I'm excited to be going to Ecuador this Monday! This is God's true church and it blesses lives so lets all look for more ways that we can share it :)

Elder Remington

Friday, May 11, 2012

Jacoby's 2nd email

Hello everyone!

So there's been quite a few changes here for me. On Monday we were studying Spanish in my intermediate level class and then one of the Spanish mtc workers came in to see if any of us needed any help. I started just chatting with him in Spanish about how his day was and what not and then after a few minutes of talking he just gave me a funny look and said "Elder we need to get you out of this class you already know all this stuff!" I was a little surprised but said ok sounds good to me so then he took me to the head language department and they gave me a little test there to see if I was ready to be in the advanced class (where native speakers go for only three weeks) after chatting for a few minutes they all agreed that I should go to an advanced class. So thank you thank you again to my Spanish teachers and above all thanks to the Lord :) cause now I've been in the advanced class all this week and I'll get to be out in the mission field in Ecuador in less than a week! My flight is next Monday May the 21st and I'll be in Ecuador Guayaquil preaching the gospel for real! I'm thrilled!

Elder Remington & Elder Jarquin
I really liked my other district and zone and companion so at first when I was switching it was kind of a bitter sweet moment but I said a little prayer in my heart when they asked me if I wanted to move up to the advanced class or not and I definitely feel that this is what's right for me and it's what the Lord needs me to do. My learning rate has greatly accelerated in the advanced class and I've been able to fit right in. I love every member of our district, especially my companion. His name is Elder Jarquin and he is hilarious! He is also very good about helping me with any Spanish words that I don't know. He is very patient and he´s fluent in Spanish but doesn't quite know the lessons or the gospel material as well so we complement each other and make a great team because he helps me with Spanish and I can help him with how to teach gospel concepts and what not. It's great! Then there's Elder Zamudio and Elder Zepeda, they are in my district as well and they're both super funny and very passionate about the gospel. The other members of the district are Elder Clark, Elder Meriles, Hermana Garcia, and Hermana Johnson The great thing about our district is that everyone knows how to have a good time and we all get along well and more importantly we all have strong testimonies and we all work hard :) it's awesome!

In conclusion, there have been lots of changes but all good changes and although it's been rather tough at times to keep up with all these native speakers I've been putting my trust in the Lord and working my hardest and the Lord has truly blessed me. I'm able to understand about 90% of everything they say and I can almost always communicate whatever I want to say. That's in large part because I've learned how to get around not knowing words. For example, if I don't know how to say the word bridge then I'll just say the clothes you sleep in (ropa de dormir). Stuff like that has helped me out a ton and what's great is then they'll tell me what the actual word is after I explain it so I learn more while still getting across the point. I don't know if that made sense to everyone but I'm guessing those who have learned another language know what I mean. lol. like I'm sure Uncle Ron knows exactly what I'm talking about. Anyway if you are learning a language its a technique I would recommend using and also just remember that usually you know a lot more than you think you do so just don't be scared to try and be brave about it!

Oh and last thing I wanted to share was a cool experience with one of our practice investigators. She told us how she was struggling with a bunch of little things in her life and we shared Alma 37:6-7 and you could tell she was really touched by it she said that was exactly what she needed to hear at that point. And I just want to testify to all of you reading this that you should read that scripture and apply it to your life because it truly is the little things like prayer, scripture reading, and acts of service that make a huge difference in our lives!

God bless you all!

Elder Remington

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Jacoby's first letter

Hello family and friends :)

Elder Remington pointing to Ecuador
WOW!! The mtc is amazing! I absolutely love it here! It was such a surreal experience coming in on the first day and getting a name tag that said Elder Remington. I had a HUGE grin on my face and could not stop smiling the entire day and I've been super happy this entire week. This truly has been the best and happiest week of my life :) I love learning the doctrine of Jesus Christ and I love learning Spanish so its the perfect place to be for me. And dad you are totally right that there is no feeling like knowing that I'm at the right place, at the right time, doing the right thing. It is such a peaceful and assuring feeling that I love. On the first day we sang "We'll bring the World His Truth" (the Army of Helaman one) and they changed the lyrics to say "and we are NOW the Lord's missionaries." I loved singing that and of course after that we sang "Called to serve" and we sang it like 10 times faster than we did in Sacrament meeting it was awesome! For all you future missionaries out there reading this, don't believe anyone if they tell you that the mtc is boring. The mtc is what you make of it. I've heard elders say that this place is awful and the worst place they've ever been stuck in and there are other elders who just love it and are having an incredible experience. YOU get to decide what you want the mtc to be for YOU. If you work hard, pray hard, and trust in the Lord you will love it :)

I'm so so grateful to my Heavenly Father for blessing me with wonderful spanish teachers in high school. Mom and dad thank you for encouraging me to do IB and supporting me while in it. Although it was very challenging it was totally worth it because I'm kicking some serious butt here with the spanish and with studying hard because I'm used to it. I can understand everything my teacher says aside from one or two words here and there and then I just figure it out based on the context or politely ask "Que significa esa palabra?" and she tells me so its awesome. I feel bad for the other elders here because a lot of them are really struggling so I'm doing my best to help them out :) Jessica please do me a favor and go tell Senora Hallack and Lacasta that I said muchas gracias for being such great teachers. Tell them both that they did a fantastic job preparing me and that I'm far ahead of all the other elders here in the intermediate class in large part thanks to them but above all thanks to the Lord for blessing me. I just want to reemphasize what I said in my talk that whenever you work your hardest, obey the rules, and trust in the Lord you will be blessed and you can't go wrong :)

Elder Remington & Elder Jacobsen
Okay so my companion is Elder Jacobsen. He is a wonderful missionary and a great friend. He's really easy going, funny, works hard, likes basketball, and we have a great relationship. When he was praying today he thanked the Lord for our companionship that we could each emulate one another strengths and help each other with our weaknesses. He truly is a great missionary and I'm blessed to have him as a companion. I know that companionships are inspired of God because we really work well together. He isn't very good at spanish... at all frankly. The poor elder just struggles with it and he barely understands anything that teacher says so he's constantly asking me whats going on. But you know what, I'm okay with that :) I'm happy to help him out and he's definitely come a long way these past couple days becasue he works really hard and he has great faith that the Lord will help him. I'd much rather have a companion that can't speak spanish but works hard than one who knows spanish but is arrogant or lazy. So I'm grateful to the Lord for putting him in my life. The other two elders in our room are Elder Baker and Elder Jarvis. Those two are complete opposites. Elder Jarvis is buff, loves sports, loves to joke, and is a really chill guy but he doesn't know spanish well either. Elder Baker loves to sing, plays every instrument known to man, and he knows spanish really well. However, the wonderful thing about those two is that despite their differences, they get along great because they both work hard and they're both committed to serving the Lord. Their companionship has taught me that as long as you have that in common (you both love the Lord and have a strong desire to serve) then you can get along great with any companion :) Last member of our district is Hermana Harbison. She is super nice, very spiritual, works hard, has a good sense of humor, so its easy to be just friends and work well with her :) Well I gotta go but I sure love you all and mom I really appreciated your letter and email :) They meant a lot to me!

Elder Remington