Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Transferring (No Letter)

Elder Remington was transferred and was too busy moving to write a general letter to everyone. Look forward to next week's update!

In a short letter to his family he mentioned he is very grateful for the good friends that he has had in his life. He appreciates your good influence and wonderful examples.

His mother thanks everyone for their love and support.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Lots of Baptisms and Good Times

Family and Friends,

Hope you enjoy all the pictures. Last P-day we went to Malecon 2000 and had a great time and took lots of sweet pictures :) It was fun getting to see a lot more of the city of Guayaquil. P-day is much more fun when you live with four missionaries and you all get to hang out together.

In our district we had four baptisms this week. In Albonor, our great friend Roberto baptized Ricardo. I was so happy there because its awesome to see the wonderful example and friend Roberto has been to Ricardo and how much he's helped him out :) They're both great people and I know that they'll continue strong in the church together with Johnathan. The three are all great friends :) Woohoo we have powerful converts! The Lord has really blessed us :) Also we have a powerful district. Sister Martinez and Sister Salgado are incredible. They're so happy, positive, and truly great examples of charity they really have the pure love of Christ for everyone; as companions, for their investigators, for the other missionaries, and members everyone! I got to interview Yahen, Adriana, and Rocio Loor for their baptism. They are an incredible family and way converted to the gospel. They read the Book of Mormon together everyday and shared very strong testimonies after being baptized. After getting to know them all from doing the baptismal interviews they wanted me to baptize them so Elder Ayala and I had the privilege of being there and feeling of their sweet spirit :) It was a great experience! Our district is awesome! We're already going to pass our goal and help out the zone in passing the goal :)

This week I've been thinking a lot about how trials make us stronger and help us grow. Some of the most miserable experiences and challenging circumstances in my life have lead to the most growth and spiritual progress. A simple example that comes to mind is when I was twelve and my parents made me go on the National Boy Scout Jamboree. The was a great opportunity that the majority of kids should be stoked to go on but I was scared out of my mind. It was a 20 day trip in which we went to New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and other parts of the Eastern states that I can't remember but it was a very extensive and long trip. At this stage in my life I have to confess... I was a big huge mama's boy!! Sad but true. I didn't like being away from home for even one night at a friend's house and thus a 20 day trip on the other side of the country was utterly terrifying for me. I'm sad to admit but for months before the trip I complained, cried, and begged and begged my parents to please not make me go. Haha I remember trying everything I could haha talking about how I had my agency and they couldn't do this to me and what would Jesus do hahaha. I tried all sorts of ridiculous things to not have to go on the Jamboree. For months and months I was miserable and dreading having to go on the trip and even though I finally accepted it and agreed to go it was still very hard for me and I remember when I had to say goodbye I was fighting back tears and there was a huge lump in my throat as I hugged my mom goodbye (haha and I still remember that Sister Burnham was taking a picture of me as I was hugging my mom crying like a little girl and I was like no no I don't want there to be evidence of this! hahaha) Anyway, even though I had made such a big deal out of the Jamboree and had dreaded going for so long, I finally went and... I had a blast!! For the first couple days I was homesick but after that I just had fun and was so busy having a good time that I didn't have time to miss my family and be sad. And ever since that experience I have never ever had a problem with being homesick, I learned how to be self reliant, and learned that I can do hard things. How grateful I am to my parents for not allowing my crying and whining to persuade them to let me quit on the Jamboree. I'm sure it was very hard for them (especially my mom) to see me so miserable and so scared of leaving home but they stuck to their decision because they knew it was for my good. I imagine what my life would've been like had I backed out on going on the Jamboree... very scary because that would've taught me that if I just cry and whine that I can escape problems. That would've reinforced my fear and dread of leaving home and who knows perhaps I would've been too scared to leave home to go on a mission and would've missed out on the experience of a lifetime. That might sound extreme and silly to some but out here in the mission I have heard many stories and personally seen with my own eyes many sad situations. There's a guy in our ward who was way active in the church and had a great testimony but he was a mama's boy and was so scared of leaving home that he didn't go on a mission and he got tired of people telling him to go on a mission so he left the church and his life is way different from how it could've been. There's lots of missionaries who quit and go home after a few months because they can't hack it and as our mission president said that if you learn to accomplish goals here in the mission you will reach your goals the rest of your life but if you learn to be a quitter here in the mission you will be a quitter the rest of your life... sad but true! That's why I'm so glad that the Lord blessed me with the trial of the Jamboree so that I could overcome my personal weakness of homesickness.

That might sound strange to many of you that I'm grateful for trials but I really am. I've realized that trials are what make us grow and help us become perfected through Christ's Atonement. Some people quit when they have trial and others overcome and thrive when they have a trial thus trials make or break us. We decide. I love the example in the Book of Mormon in Alma 1:25 of being steadfast and immovable trusting patiently in the Lord :) That is how we must face trials if we are to overcome them and learn from them. Turn to the Lord and not turn away from Him. Trust in Him and not lose faith in Him. I hope that we all have courage and faith and endure our trials with patience so that we can overcome them and learn from them and become better.

I love you all and thank you all for your love and support :)
Elder Remington

Monday, January 7, 2013

Fun Week

Family and Friends,

Here in Guayaquil everyone makes these big cardboard doll things called ¨monigotes¨ and then exactly at midnight they burn them or throw explosives at them with a million fireworks going off in the sky at the same time. Pretty awesome right!! Haha would've loved to see it all but as missionaries we were asleep in bed at that time but its okay cause obedience brings blessings and it was still cool because the day before we got to see a bunch of way legit monigotes and took some fun pictures. We had a unique way of getting lots of referrals that day. While we were taking pictures with the big monigotes of Iron Man and Captain America some girls there asked if they could take some pictures with us. Haha. We didn't want to be rude and say no but at the same time we can't touch their back in the picture or anything like that so it was a little awkward but to break the tension and have an excuse to not put my arm around I just did the muscle pose like Iron Man and everybody cracked up. Haha then we talked with them a bit about the church and they gave us their address and number to go teach them haha I somewhat doubt that they were really interested in the gospel but hey you never know at least its a start. As a tall white guy in Ecuador you stick out and funny stuff like that happens and often its pretty awkward. For example one time this old lady kept hitting on me and talking about how gorgeous my blue eyes were and I was trying to get the heck out of there but my companion kept teaching her and thought she was interested in the gospel because she asked us for a pamphlet. When my companion gave it to her she asked if we could write our names down so she'd remember us so then my companion started to write down our names but she stopped him and was like no no I want HIM to write his name for me. Crazy old ladies from Ecuador they can't get enough of the blue eyes but yeah at least my companions get a good laugh out of it. I've now learned how to discern between people that really are interested in learning about Jesus Christ and people that just want to talk with a white guy and see his blue eyes or try to speak English with him ¨Hey you my friend!¨ Good stuff.

Gangnam style missionaries

Elder Remington still loves to play "Risk"
Oh and I don't know how it is in the states but here in Ecuador everybody LOVES that Korean guy that sings the weird gabenwackenstein dooo doo doo dooo haha I don't know what the heck he's saying but the people here go crazy for that song and even as missionaries we here it all the time in the street and in the bus. Haha I don't get why its so popular but shoot it's nuts, here and our friends Allison and Amelia that recently were baptized had the little moƱigote of him so we took a picture good times. Also for New Years day President Amaya knew that everyone would be either asleep or drunk so he said that we didn't have to go teach until 5:00 so we went and played Settlers of Catan and Risk with some good friends the Lopez family :) It was way fun and brought back memories of the old days. And Friday it absolutely POURED rain like cats and dogs. I have never seen rain fall so hard so we had to hurry and run to the apartment and then took a picture cause we were drenched but I don't think you can really tell oh well.

Elder Remington and his companion: both drenched.
Anyway, the work is going great :) I'm very happy with Elder Ayala and I'm enjoying the best two years of my life.

Love you all,
Elder Remington

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Christmas Fun

Family and Friends,

Elders acting out the Nativity Christmas Eve
We had a great Christmas here in Ecuador :) I loved talking with the family and getting to meet Mook through Skype and Christmas Eve was a hoot! We live in a house with four missionaries and I told them all that my family and I always act out the nativity scene on Christmas Eve and they were all like yeah lets do it! Haha. So we didn't have much to work with but we all dressed up as wise men or shepherds, Mary, and Joseph and had a good time being goof balls. Then we sang Christmas songs together and played ninja attack. It's a lot more crazy but fun living with four missionaries. Haha the other night after planning before going to bed we played a hilarious game called ¨Gallinita Ciega¨ (Blind Little Chicken) which is basically like tag but the guy who is it has to wear a blindfold and try to tag someone when they can't see. Normally the game would be nearly impossible but we've got a small house so it works pretty well and the best part is that while the blindfolded chicken tries tagging someone the other three guys get to hit him with pillows and try dodging him as he stumbles toward you. Hahaha! It's hilarious and a great time!

Oh by the way before I forget I wanted to thank Elder Fischer for sharing this...
¨Last Thursday, our mission had a really great Christmas party. They trained us on working with members and not using the same ten members to go out with you to lessons. Sister Neider put a paper cup under a cookie sheet and had an Elder stand on it. It was crushed. That represented an investigator by their self. Then she did it again with three cups, the extra two cups represented missionaries standing with the Investigator. Still crushed. Then she added a bunch more cups, representing fellowship from each of the auxiliaries, random ward members and ward neighbors, the bishop, etc. With about 20 paper cups, the Elder (who weighed about 250) didn't crush the cups when he stood on the cookie sheet that was on top of them. There wasn't just one or two fellowshippers, there were a bunch.¨ 
I used that object lesson the other day in a district meeting and it worked great :) and its so true that as a missionary you need to really branch out and think out of the box using multiple members to fellowship the investigators. I can testify that it is essential to having real growth in the church because it was one of the key factors that Roberto is such a strong convert. But when you're wanting to share principles like that with your district it is much much better to do it in a fun and interactive way like the example described above so that your missionaries enjoy your lesson, learn from it, and remember it because it was unique. I remember when I was trying to write my election speech while running for a leadership position in high school and thinking man what the heck am I gonna do that won't be cliche and boring like blah blah I'm a good student blah blah I love Modesto high blah blah please vote for me blah blah blah blah zzzzzzzz... boring! As I was trying to think of other ideas I came up with the idea to do a rap that would be more interesting and it turned out great :) Likewise many times there are district meetings that are blah blah blah boring so I've been trying to do my best to always make them exciting, unique, interesting, fun, and spiritual. One time I gave a lesson on why it's so important to put a baptismal date in the first lesson and used the analogy of trying to run a race without having a finish line and I had Elder Ayala run around the class feeling like the race was pointless because he didn't know when it would finish but then I told him that he was going to do a race and that here would be the finish line and I ran with him motivating him, telling him that we're here to help him, singing the Rocky song and then when he finished giving him a big high five and all that jazz. Haha Everyone got a good kick out of it and the lesson stuck. I doubt that we´re going to forget that district meeting and know since then we've been applying that principle very well as a district :) In fact we passed our district goal and helped the zone pass the goal for the first time in months :) Woohoo!! Another time I gave a lesson on confidence and humility and applied it to having healthy companionships and setting commitments with the investigators confidently :) It was something unique that really helped because often times the district leader focuses all on helping them teach better but really there are some companionships that are having some serious problems that aren't allowing them to feel the spirit and that aren't allowing them to teach well at all. These are just a few examples of some unique district meetings feel free to use them if any of you out there reading this are future or current missionaries :) Also I wanted to ask that if any of you reading this have any good creative ideas for an interactive district meeting (something unique like the cup thing or the race thing) then will you please send your ideas to my mom so she can forward them to me :) I'd love to hear some good ideas that you all have that I can use :) Thank you!

The other day we were teaching the Word of Wisdom and I was thinking about the commandments that we have and how many people have an incorrect perspective of the commandments. Many people see the commandments (namely the Word of Wisdom and Law of Chastity) as annoying rules that restrict you and limit your freedom: ¨Wow your church doesn't let you drink¨ or ¨That stinks that you can't have sex before you're married.¨ Many people, even we as members sometimes, are guilty of having these false perceptions. With a worldly perspective you will see the commandments as exactly that; limitations that don't let you have fun. But when you really understand the doctrine and realize that God created us, thus he knows exactly what we need and what we need to avoid to achieve the maximum happiness, health, and success in this life and the next. The truth is that the commandments (especially the Word of Wisdom and Law of Chastity) protect and bless our lives and amplify our freedom and true happiness. For those who falsely believe that the Word of Wisdom restricts your freedom, how much freedom does a drug addict have? How much freedom does an alcoholic have? How much freedom does someone who was paralyzed from drinking and driving have? Or those who say that the Law of Chastity limits your fun, how much fun does someone with Aids have? How much freedom and self respect does someone addicted to pornography have? How much freedom does a 15 year old single mom have in high school? All these questions should help us realize the truth that the commandments are blessings. With an eternal perspective you will see the commandments as safeguards and blessings from a loving Heavenly Father to help his children have joy in this life and eternal salvation in the life to come.
When we change our perspective and really understand the doctrine of Christ our attitude and behavior changes :) Let's all remember that commandments are blessings and we receive more blessings when we obey the commandments :)

Love you all lots :) Happy New Year!
Elder Remington