Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Visit from President, White Night, and Transfers

Family and friends, 

In Spanish the nickname for a big baptism is ¨noche blanca¨ which works a lot better than ¨white night¨ haha but I can't remember what the correct nickname in English is so that'll have to do for now :) Anyway as you can see from the pictures the Lord really blessed us this week with lots of exciting events but most of all there are three things of significance that happened. 

First, President Amaya, Sister Amaya, their son Andres, and the assistants all visited us Tuesday to congratulate us on our achievements  join our zone meeting, teach us, and share a nice lunch with us in the chapel. I'm not going to lie the last visit from President was a lot more funny and upbeat but this visit was great too. We got to know Sister Amaya and her son a lot better and we saw a side of President we had never seen before when he was joking with his son about beating him in ping-pong. Haha I know it sounds weird but here in the mission we all admire and look up to President so much and we usually only see him in a suit at zone conferences or interviews or leadership conferences that it shocks us to see that he's a normal Dad. Haha but it was great and he shared some really good advice with us. Most of all what I remember is that he said that one month in the mission is worth 5 years in college, work, or anything else that we could be doing instead of serving a mission... that really hit me hard and I realized that he's totally right because there is no other place on earth that you can experience the spiritual growth, learning, and development that takes place in a full-time mission. :) He said we should make the most of every second because of future children will be cursed or blessed depending on how we serve our missions. :) He is a very inspired man of God and I am very grateful to serve with him in this part of the Lord's vineyard. 

Second, the most exciting news of all is that nine children of God were baptized this week in our sector. :) We feel very blessed to be the Lord's instruments in this sector where so many members help us and support the missionary work. :) We can't do it without them and we most definitely can't do it without the Spirit and blessings of God. In order from left to right in the picture we have Elder Tibanlombo, Steven, Nayeli, Liliana (three in front), (after that from the back) Edith, Genesis, Melina, Laila, Bryan, funny looking guy, and Bishop Salas who also baptized some people. :) They all are part member families that we found through referrals or through the list of action of interviews (its an excellent resource that I recommend to all missionaries for finding people) and the wonderful thing is that in every single case we were able to hit two birds with one stone by both activating the less actives in the family and baptizing the non-members in the family. :) With everyone in these 5 families now regularly attending church the church attendance in our ward has skyrocketed so much to the point that we have to bring extra chairs in every week and the Stake President said they are going to build a second floor to the chapel so that everyone can fit! Bishop Salas and the whole ward are all very happy and grateful for the work we are doing... but most importantly of all my companion and I feel and know that the Lord is pleased with the work we are doing here in Portoviejo with our sector and with our zone... that is one of the best feelings in the whole world to know that God is happy with your work. :) Nothing beats it trust me!

Third, we had transfers this week and we lost a few great Elders from the zone but we received two great Elders in their place and we know that it is all according to God's will and His plan and we trust in Him because He knows a lot better than we do! I am very happy because I get to stay here with my buddy Elder Tibanlombo for another six weeks and its way fun being his companion! Seriously he has become my best companion that has most taught me how to be a good missionary, good friend, and good disciple of Christ. One of the most important lessons he has taught me that I feel prompted to share with you alll is that humor is the key to avoid contention. I repeat humor is the key to avoid contention. Simple but essential. Honestly with every other companion I've had we always a little bit of a disagreement at least one time. We would always work it out in the end and everything was great and trust me I've been very blessed with lots of other great companions but with Elder Tibanlombo we literally never argue because whenever there's potential contention he just says a joke that totally cuts all the tension and then we work it out with a smile. By no means am I saying that you don't have to be serious and focused at times because trust me there are moments when we are very focused and have serious talks and plans about what we're going to do in the zone... I am saying that humor is a great instrument when used correctly in the right moment to avoid contention and be happy :) 

Elder Remington

Monday, April 15, 2013

Great Baptisms :)

Family and Friends,

Two weeks ago on conference weekend we had a great baptism for Michele Galaraga. We had the baptismal service right after the second session on Saturday in the Stake Center so the majority of the zone was all there together. It was a great service and right as Michele left the water she had a huge smile on her face and was radiating. The following Sunday she shared her testimony and said that when she was baptized she had the most incredible feeling of warmth and happiness and that she had never felt anything like that in her life before. :) My companion and I sitting there were both stoked to hear that, and I leaned over and told him that she must've had a super powerful missionary baptize her... haha honestly its one of the best feelings in the world to see someone that you've taught and worked with for so long get up and bear their testimony. :) It reminded me a lot of how great I felt in Albonor when Roberto shared his testimony shortly after his baptism and wow... there are few other feelings like it trust me. :)

This last Saturday we had another very special baptism of Jorge Luis Briones (he's the guy on the right thats so happy he can't open his eyes right haha). He is the boyfriend of Joanna (girl in the blue standing in front of him) who is a great member that comes from a family of powerful people who are all way involved in missionary work. :) They are always giving us lots of referrals and helping out with visiting investigators and being their friends. :) Very valuable for missionaries indeed. Anyway, I remember that Jorge Luis started listening to us all the way back in February my very first week here in Portoviejo and then for about a month and a half he stopped listening to us... then out of nowhere he showed up and said he had been reading the Book of Mormon, knew that it was true, and he wanted to get baptized... we didn't argue with him! He's a great guy and it was great to see how happy he and Joanna looked together yesterday in church. Lots of faith-filled prayers by Joanna were finally answered this weekend and I have no doubt that they will go to the temple next week and be an eternal family. :)

I recently shared some advice with my mom about how to get youth involved in church activities... it was written very quickly and is very goofy but I think it'll be of great help to leaders trying to involve the youth more. Obviously it isn't relevant to the majority of readers here but for those of you who are interested and could benefit from such advice you can send my mom an email requesting it and she'll be sure to send it to you. :) I hope it helps!

Remember that wickedness never was happiness. All of us have little sins that we like and don't want to let go; gossiping, cheating in school, inappropriate music, bad TV shows, and many other things that we know we shouldn't do but we ignore that little voice in our head, convince ourselves that its fine, and do it anyway. Such actions will always bring consequences of pain and regret while the action of repenting and changing will bring peace of mind and happiness. As Nike says.. just do it :) and you'll be happy you did. There is no feeling like the feeling of a clean conscience trust me. :)

Elder Remington

Monday, April 1, 2013

Lots of Blessings and Good Times

Family and Friends,

This weekend we had a great baptism for a young buck named Jackson who is super shy but a very good kid. :) As a zone in Portoviejo we are very happy and grateful to the Lord for blessing us this month because we just set a record for most baptisms in a month for the entire mission and the entire area. :) We worked very hard and the Lord really blessed us. This last week was even more crazy than the last one for my companion and I running all over the place in interchanges helping out all the different areas with their investigators resolving doubts to get baptized this week and doing a ton of baptismal interviews. Honestly, it was a very long week and very physically, emotionally, and spiritually tiring... but the great thing is that although we were stressed and very busy my companion and I never got overwhelmed and we always laughed, enjoyed the moment, and had a fun time working hard together.

President Amaya has decided to make it a tradition that every month he's going to take to dinner the zone that most baptizes and most surpasses their goal. Everyone in the zone is way stoked to have a dinner with him again :) He should be coming this week or the next to celebrate with us. Elder Linares and Elder Vielma are excited to come visit us again too. Haha. The last time they came after we finished eating they said alright Elder Remington we'll see you here next month haha and I said yep we'll we waiting for you! Great guys those two it'll be fun hanging out with them again especially since Elder Linares is going to finish his mission in just three weeks. Lots of exciting stuff happening here in Portoviejo. I feel very blessed to be here and honored that the Lord trusts me and my companion with such a great place with so many people ready for the gospel. :) We recognize for sure that we're just the instruments (Alma 29:9) and that we can't do anything without His help :) all the glory goes to Him (D&C 4:5). I'm truly the happiest I've ever been and I'm grateful that I have the wonderful opportunity of serving here in Ecuador for much more time. :) The mission goes by way way too fast so I've gotta make every minute count.

It will be General Conference this week and I'm excited for that. I wanted to share a part of President Uchtdorf's talk with all of you from September 2011 that helped me have a great experience last conference and I hope this advice helps all of you to have a great experience in conference as well:
As you prepare for general conference, I invite you to ponder questions you need to have answered. For example, you might yearn for direction and guidance by the Lord regarding challenges you are facing.
Answers to your specific prayers may come directly from a particular talk or from a specific phrase. At other times answers may come in a seemingly unrelated word, phrase, or song. A heart filled with gratitude for the blessings of life and an earnest desire to hear and follow the words of counsel will prepare the way for personal revelation.
Often times we just kind of go through the motions sit in our couch all comfy in our pajamas, listen to the talks, say wow what a great message, and then we go on and live our lives the exact same way. If we really prepare ourselves for conference with specific questions for specific problems then we will receive answers and personal revelation for what we need. That's what I did last October and had a wonderful experience and I invite all of you to do the same and I promise that conference will be more meaningful for you.

Lastly I wanted to share with you all the there's no such thing as a little thing when it comes to obedience. Its easier to be obedient 100% than 98% and when we're obedient we're happy. :) It's a very complicated story and I don't have time to share it all but the other day I had to make a choice between having another baptism to break the record even more or doing things the right way to have a clear conscience. We had traveled very far for this person and if I did what I knew was right I was going to lose $8, 5 hours of traveling, and maybe not break the record... luckily I decided that a clean conscience is worth much more than all of those things and so I made the right choice and the Lord blessed us for it :) Everything worked out okay at the end of the day and I learned two great lessons; first that we should always follow every prompting of the Spirit and second that the peace of a clean conscience is more valuable than anything else.

Remember to always have the eternal perspective in mind when you make choices and you will choose the right (Matthew 6:19-21).

Elder Remington