Have I mentioned yet that I LOVE BEING A MISSIONARY? Because it's true. Although I'm getting fat against my will (you should see these piles of rice--really, you should), although I have never been so tired in my life, and although I'm far away from apple cider autumns and peppermint hot cocoa winters, I get to spend every day teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ to the people of Ecuador. Every day is an adventure.
Sunday night, my zone leaders called and shared their meloncholy news: transfers for Hermana Scott. I wasn't ready to leave my companion Hermana Wright, who I came to love dearly, nor my investigators who would be baptized that weekend, but the next morning, I hugged Hermana Wright goodbye and headed to...Quevedo! I joined other Elders on the three hour bus ride to Quevedo, passing farms and countryside. It was the first time I had seen real green in a while, and they were right, Ecuador is gorgeous. I arrived and met my 5ft tall Bolivian companion, Hermana Blackutt!
This past Friday, Carnaval commenced in Quevedo! Think Mardi Gras, but instead of extravagant feathers and costumes, imagine shirtless men with big rice bellies. Instead of confetti and sparklers, imagine buckets and buckets and buckets of water. And instead of city wide parades, imagine groups of Ecuadorian children chasing you with water guns and water balloons.
EVERYONE gets wet.
Oh, you're a missionary walking in a polyester skirt? Doesn't matter. "Get 'em! Get 'em!"
And to add on the all the water, people use an aerosol foam that stains your face and your clothing. This man next to me in this cyber cafè? Yeah, his face is green.
I think all of the Ecuadorian clouds are celebrating Carnaval, as well. Horrid rainstorms come out of nowhere. Hermana Blackutt and I visited a less active lady and only moments after stepping inside, all of the Guayas river fell down from the sky. The rain slammed down so hard on the tin roof that we couldn't hear each other talk, haha. So we huddled together as we read a scripture with her, and then braved the rain. At first I tried to avoid it by staying close to the wall and running through convered areas. Ha. Smarter than the elements!..or so I thought. These paved and un paved Ecuadorian streets pulled one on me as this giant puddle of water appeared out of nowhere, and I fell into a muddy, murky mess. Humbled. Not that much smarter than the elements.
I look up to see my companion laughing like crazy as I pull myself up from teh water, my entire skirt drenched. We laughed and laughed and decided to stop by the house to change, since we cant show up at someone's door looking like wet rats (eh'hem, Bogitos). We cross the first half of the street and patiently waited for cars to pass. Splash! A huge wave of water drenched us from behind! Like those surfing videos, when the surfer is crouched down all cool, with teh wave of water rolling behind him. Except, that rolling ocean water was really nasty, trash-filled, street water.
I've lived a few adventures in my short time as a missionary. But I'm not here to adventure. I am here to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. And the spiritual growth I am experiencing is the best adventure of all.
I am learning more about my Savior, and doing my best to be like him. The Savior has recently commanded us, all of us members of the church, to search for the less actives in our respective wards. The Prophet himself and the 12 Apostles have put a lot of time and effort into the new Church prorgam: the Work of Salvation. The Savior needs us to find His sheep that are lost and confused, and bring them back into the fold:
4 The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was asick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with bcruelty have ye ruled them.
5 And they were scattered, because there is no shepherd: and they became meat to all the beasts of the field, when they were scattered.
6 My asheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: yea, my flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none did search or seek after them.
7 ¶Therefore, ye shepherds, hear the word of the Lord;
8 As I live, saith the Lord God, surely because my flock became a prey, and my flock became meat to every beast of the field, because there was no shepherd, neither did my shepherds search for my flock, but the ashepherds bfed themselves, and fed not my flock;
9 Therefore, O ye shepherds, hear the word of the Lord;
10 Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will arequire my flock at their hand, and cause them to bcease from feeding the flock; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; for I will deliver my flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat for them.
11 ¶For thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I, even I, will both asearch my sheep, and seek them out.
12 As a ashepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I bseek out my csheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been dscattered in the ecloudy and fdark day.
(Ezekiel 34: 4-12)
i invite you to find the less active members in your wards, to befriend them and kindly invite them to attend Church again, to read their Scriptures again, to pray again, so that they can feel the love of God in their life. We do not know why people separate themselves from the Church, but those reasons are usually delicate. As we befriend the less active members, we will find that the Spirit will help us to know what to say to help them. They will grow spiritually and we will grow spiritually.
I also invite you to read, "Come, Join With Us" by President Uchtdorf from this past General Conference. https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2013/10/come-join-with-us?lang=eng