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 :)