Family and Friends,
I'm back! My apologies for not having written you all in some time but here I am once again writing to you all to catch you up on all the great events that have happened here in Ecuador. Before I do that I would first off like to say thank you to everyone who wrote me such kind, happy, and some super funny cards for my birthday! I love you all and I'm grateful for your friendship, support, and love. The package with all the cards and gifts arrived a month and a half early so I had to practice the heavenly virtue of patience but it was well worth it and I loved being able to finally open it up. Thank you!!
The first picture is of a crab party we had on p-day with a family of converts that are super fun and happy. They made a ton of delicious crab and other great food and we had a blast eating, chatting, and hanging out together nothing like good people and good food.
The second group of pictures are at the Mora family's house eating lunch and having a little birthday cake for the three birthday boys and girls (Sister Mora, Brother Mora, and yours truly). We all have our birthdays on the same weekend and they sang to us all and we had a good time with them they are hilarious and super fun. You might remember them from other pictures I sent about a year ago in Albonor. They used to be in Albonor ward and we got to be great friends but then they moved in January to this ward. It was great to see them again when I first got to this ward and hang out with them. They crack me up.
Third group of pictures, we went to the wonderful zone of Quevedo Sur to celebrate with them for passing their goal. President gave a great training session/seminar (not sure what the word in English would be haha) for all the missionaries about the Work of Salvation and how to really work together with the members and everyone learned a lot. We had a good time eating and chatting with them there's a lot of great missionaries there with lots of contagious enthusiasm. We hope to see more and more completed goals and lots and lots of baptisms in Quevedo Sur.
Lastly, the great Elder Muñoz finished his mission this week and this picture was taken at the dinner with President right before he left. A great companion, great friend, and great missionary that will truly be missed. I wish him the best and I'm sure we'll be lifelong friends.
I have learned many wonderful lessons from my Mission President. Some of the most important lessons he has taught me have been that I need to always act and use my agency and reasoning powers to make wise decisions and never hesitate or wait for others to validate me or confirm that its ok to do something. I should trust in the Lord and show confidence in all that I do. Also, he has helped me learn the need to adapt and adjust to each situation in order to have the best result. Before being assistant to President Amaya, I felt uncomfortable with silence in the middle of a conversation, car ride, or meal. To me, silence for more than 7 seconds was an awkward torture and I constantly felt the need to talk about whatever came to mind or somehow bring up some random, even already repeated or unimportant subject just to keep the conversation going and avoid silence at all costs. President Amaya and Elder Magill, however, are not like that. They both feel perfectly comfortable with silence in a conversation, car ride, or meal and understand that it is normal and natural. To them, there is nothing awkward about keeping silent when you don't have anything important, meaningful, relevant, or interesting to say and the constant attempt to force a conversation along by any means is unnecessary and uncomfortable. As you can imagine, these two different ways of thinking about conversations, car rides, and meals often lead to.... well lets say a great learning experience for me! The first few weeks of my time in the office were often filled with me saying things that had already been said or that were unimportant and then President just staring at me and smiling... I was so confused at first! I didn't get it and it frustrated me and it kept happening over and over and over again hahaha that's not to say that we didn't all work well together, have lots of great conversations, and have lots of success because we did do all those things. It just means that many times I bothered them because I would talk so much and I then would feel uncomfortable and confused because they often wouldn't respond. Fortunately, I have a great companion who gave me lots of good advice and feedback and helped me realize slowly but surely how I could improve and a few weeks ago I finally ¨got it.¨ I still have a lot to learn and improve with it but now we have had several weeks of conversations, car rides, and meals without any uncomfortable moments. Yes there is silence at times and yes its okay. I now understand that it is naive and foolish to think that we ¨have¨ to always talk and talk and talk. What I started to do a few weeks ago and still do is I have my scriptures, liahona, and PMG with me in the car and whenever there is something important, relevant, or interesting to be said or being said I actively listen and participate. Then if several minutes pass by without anything important, relevant, or interesting to be said or being said then I calmly pull out something to read and enjoy reading and learning until someone starts speaking or something important comes to mind and then I speak. It makes for a much more enjoyable and productive car trip. Also Elder Magill has taught me to listen more and talk less in meals and conversations I've been doing it and it makes a big difference.
Now President Amaya trusts much more in us and has given us several compliments and let us do things that other assistants have never done before. For example, he liked are seminar on working with members so much that he asked for an encore and we got to teach it again with the group of new missionaries. I felt really great teaching solid principles with my companion Elder Magill. Life is good.
I know this work is true and it is so satisfying to be actively involved in it and see it grow.