Monday, December 30, 2013


IM GOING TO OTAVALO!!!! i have to be at the bus station in a little bit so i dont have much time to write now, but ill try and get back on later. If not BYE and ill probably spend some more personal cash because its colder there and thats where all the indeginous people are that make sweet hand made ponchos and stuff.... sorry not sorry..

(7 hrs later)
just got to otavalo...its amazing. its totally green and a nice mix of farmland and old looking city. but with modern commodites. my new companion is named hermana aquino and shes from bolivia. she has one transfer less than me which means im comañero mayor...what is that in english? senior companion? i dont really know. anyways, our new sector is wayyy small compared to my old one. you can walk from one end to the other in like 30 minutes. apparently our ward is like half kichua half spanish so im PUMPED to learn some kichua. 
as far as the skype call is concerned, i dont know exactly what the rules are but president more or less said you have 45 minutes. if you wanna call mulitple family members go for it. but you still only have 45 minutes..... other than that the last few days have been more or less normal. it was pretty hard to leave the members and investigators but im sure i will come to love the people here in otavalo just as much. apparently its a challange to not gain weight here either so we will see how that goes.
the only memorable experience we had this week was that we had somewhat of an eternal investiagor named rosa. she wants to get baptized but isnt married to the father of their 12 year old child. they have been living together for like 14 years or so but this last month he FINALLY got  divorced and, being a long time member of the church, had his rights taken away because he wasnt divorced and living with another woman  (again, dont know what its called in english) basically one step above excommunicated.  a few months ago they changed their living situation so they could comply with the law of chastity and thus be baptized, and we called mission president to get permission to baptize her. he said yes and we were so excitied she was FINALLY going to get baptized. butttt the day before her baptism the bishop went over and basically said no you cant get baptized because you need to get married first. but he never told us that he cancelled the baptism and the morning of the baptism our mission president called us and said she wanst going to get baptized. it was basically  a giant bummer, but she didnt seem to upset about it and hopefully they can get all their papers in order so they can get baptized. definitelyh the first time a bishop has cancelled the baptism a day before...
other than transfers and the cancelled baptism there isnt much news. my camera is being alittle sketchy right now so ill send some pictures next week. 

Editor's note: We had a nice Skype call with Kendra on Christmas Eve.  Although we had some technical difficulties it was fun to see and mostly hear her.  
Here's a link about Otavalo with some cool pictures.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Feliz Navidad!

This week was pretty nuts. we had divisions with the hermana leaders on wednesday, then on thursday after district meeting we had to go back to quito AGAIN so the family could finish up their paper work. they have officially set their wedding date for the 23rd and we've invited the ward to come support them. 
the oña family after stalin (finally) got the preisthood

friday was the christmas dinner which was soo much fun. we met as a zone in the morning to practice for our required special musical number and had to be at the chapel close to the presidents house by 4. we played white elephant, sang christmas carols, watched videos about the nativity, had a mission slide show and ate medicore american food prepared by the presidents wife and other senior sisters. 
Merry Christmas from the zone!

Hermana Muir and I
Me and my companion, Hermana Lopez

i got a little whistle thing thats acutally a magnet from hermana muir and president gave us all study journals with our names on them (pictures next week) i also FINALLY got the covers for my scriptures, hymnal and preach my gospel. 

With the Mission President and his wife

we got done super late and went to sleep with the nurse (hermana berrett) because they have like 15 bunkbeds in their house (they call it the hotel) ... we had to wake up at 5am on saturday to leave from quito to get back to our chapel because we had "the day as a missionary" with the youth that started at 7am.
"The day as a missionary"youth activity 

it was pretty fun but made me realize how hard it is to train. we also had a nice heated discussion in the street with a jehovas witness (they are always looking to bible bash) and one of the youth just shut up down. it was pretty funny. i hope i didnt destroy their desires to serve a mission too much. i was sooo tired and slept so well that night. i also got a nice sunburn (again) yesterday and today were normal though. 

i got a package from kaylee! (thanks bud) so thats her shoutout. im working on another round of letters and packages to get sent in the next few weeks. we have to travel an hour and half to the nearest post office that i know of. we made the brownies today and they ended up alright. being so high up and in such dry climate definitely changes the consistency. it was still fun though. we have our p-day changed to tuesday so dont be worried when you dont here from me on monday. ill get on like 20 minutes early to write (so about 3:30) so we can work out technical problems then for the christmas eve skype call home.
miss yall!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Technical difficulties, no photos

SOOO this week

it was a pretty normal week. we wasted a solid two days trying to arrange the paper work so one of our investigators can get married and it turned out it was more or less a waste of time BUT hopefully we can get them hitched this week. hermana lopez fell down when we were playing capture the flag so now she has a really nice scab. we helped a nice old lady move her stuff from one apartment to another down the street...old people are pretty much all the same....anal about somethings and oblivious to others...thus accumulating alot of junk without any organazation. we helped our bishops wife assemble and decorate their christmas tree and we have the christmas dinner with president this friday. so thats pretty exciting. other than that life is more or less normal. we went caroling again on saturday and the elders decided to take a shortcut and we basically scaled a small mountain a crossed  a ravine during the night time. i thought we were going to die. then it rained really hard. we also went to the christmas devotional yesterday which was more or less exciting. our family of converts (my only baptisms so far) got robbed a few weeks back and literally have nothing so weve been working with ward council to try and get some basic supplies together. hasta lunes! 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

My yoke is easy

our neighbor / investagor made us lunch on saturday, it was SOO GOOD

this week
thanksgiving was a normal thursday here, complete with zone meeting and chicken and rice for lunch (just like every day). there was a company selling satelite out of the back of a truck so i got to see a little thanksgiving football which was pretty exciting. i didnt feel too homesick though. i think because it still feels like summer here i dont realize its december.
 then on friday i had a nice spiritual experience. we had a little bit of free time so we went to go look for a reference that a member gave us but the street didnt really exist (or if it does we couldnt find it) so as we were walking back we walked past a street that an old investigator lives on. shes super evangelical and when we explained the book of mormon it kind of all went down hill from there. she said give me a few months to read the book of mormon and then come back. so i figure yeah its been a few months, lets go visit her. so we went and knocked on the door. she seemed a little confused when she opened the door and saw us but she let us in anyways. so we got to talking and she was talking about a few problems shes had lately. i pulled out matthew 11 something about "my yoke is easy and my burden is light" and she started bawling in the middle of it. turns out she was praying to recieve some help from god and she said send me anything and before she even finished praying we knocked on the door. i was like yeah look at me learning how to feel the spirit. it was pretty cool.

then on sunday after church we went caroling as a zone and we played jenga. it was the most exiciting jenga game i have ever played in my life.
then today we played capture the flag (although the latinos dont really understand it and there was a lot of cheating, im still a little bitter about it) and i got sunburned (as usual) it seems like every day we dont do anything i remember to put on sunscreen but then the days we are outside i forget. oh well. 

im exicited for the upcoming week and counting down the days until i can call on christmas! 
love you! 
hermana dozas last day...1 week a 3 days in the mission
picture time
today with our packages!  Mine was already half opened and I couldn't resist the temptation.  we got a new gringo missionary in the ward after hermana doza left and she got a package with reeses so we are going to make reeses brownies next p-day (im super stoked)

Monday, November 25, 2013

Garage clean-out, hamburger contacting, and Beto--the wonder dog

the sisters before transfers last week (tall white girl problems.)
(and last week since i didnt get to write a complete letter)
the german family whose dad died(who kind of looks like uncle ray) is starting to clean out their garage, where the dad left all his tools and things. but the thing is, its not really a garage. its more like a small wherehouse (i have no idea how to spell that) and its not just like a hammer and power saw....its like huge super expensive tools and machinery (a forklift, a generator, two super old cars, and various other machines) and the son that just got off his mission and the mom and the sister are working to go through all of the junk and figure out what they want to keep/sell etc. (it kind of reminds me of the rhonda situation but more stuff and its all in german) so they had this forklift that they are trying to sell, but they need to paint it. so we helped them sand the paint off the forklift so they can paint it again. it was pretty fun, but we were outside from 8 am to 2 pm in the very powerful ecuador sun...i forgot to put on sunscreen, and needles to say i am officially a redneck. my farmers tan is so strong right now, and my neck/ears are peeling.
Me in orange paint, the sander, and the RM


we did divisions the wednesday before last, and hermana norton (our sister trainer who went home on monday) and i went up to calacali. we found a family the first door we knocked and they accepted a baptismal date, but have been avoiding us since. (a very normal occurance) the daughters names is narly. like gnarly. i thought that was sweet.

Narly and family, with Hermana Norton
we also are teaching a family with a dad of 19 years and a mom of 21 years...they already have a 4 year old and an 2 year old (which means he was 15 and she was 17) but they are super cool. the two year old is named jeangrey, after the lady from x-men. latinos really like wahtever english sounding name they can find. 
The zone before transfers
We had transfers on monday, but hermana lopez and i both are staying in mitad del mundo. the other sisters from the ward both left (one went home and one got transfered) and the sent in two new sisters. one of them (hermana velasquez) is training, so we were in a trio until thursday when the new sister got here ( hermana doza) by the time sunday came around hermana doza was totally depressed and is going to talk to president today to try and go home. sooo we might be in a trio again, but we will see. 
 the first lunch of the new missionaries and a sweet garden of the youngwomens president
(they have 20+ types of fruit, half of which i have never heard of)
monday night after we finished up in the offices, we were super hungry and decided to go find some food. so we walked into this totally random hamburger place and started to eat. about 20 minutes later the workers and and the other people eating there said hey were members. so we start talking and the main guy says i have a reference, but its for the ofelia stake. we said well were in ofelia...he says but its for pusuqui....were in pusuqui....but its for mitad del mundo...the reference was litterally 2 blocks from our house. we went by on tuesday to go visit them and they are a golden family...well almost. they dad has a few underlying mental problems and they arent married but they are totally stoked to get baptized! it was sweet to know that the spirit prompted us to go into the restraunt and for the guy to share his reference with us. 
not much else really happend. we had to go an hour and half into quito two days this week, so that chewed up alot of time. the zone got 2 other greenie gringos, both completely awkward with a very thick gringo accent, so we will see how they do. 
beto, the alley dog also got a haircut, he looks like a skinny lion now, but im gonna miss him when i get changed for sure. 

im still deciding what we should do with the money (Editor's note: money from the Chapel Hill ward Relief Society for her to use to help needy folks in her area instead of trying to send her something for Christmas). im thinking about spending a little bit of it for hermana lopez.
hermana lopez and i made a paper chain to countdown to christmas
shes the only member in her family and her family hasnt written her in like 4 i might do something for her. also i might pay for a few marriages for poor families who want to get baptized but dont have the money to get married. anyways ill let you know. 
i dont think were going to do anything for thanksgiving, but we will see. its weird to think its november. it still feels like july here. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Must Love Puppies

I had a few interesting experiences. The work of salvation..(i think thats what its called in english) is going well. we have ward council every week and at least one or two visits to less actives families with various members from ward council. we went to go see a family and surprise! they have 15 day old english bulldog puppies ( who im obsessed with).
that was on tuesday, and on friday my companion felt a promting that we should go visit the family again. we didnt have too much to do so i said yeah sure. we head down to the house and the mom tells us that the mom of the dogs got hit by a car and died. so now the human mom (who is having various medical problems and in a constant level of pain and discomfort) has to hand feed the puppies every hour, day and night. she also gave us the news that because the dog died, it sparked a whole new set of problems and arguments that ended up in her husband leaving, taking all the money and the phone, leaving here with two kids, her own medical problems and two puppies who eat 17 dollars worth of formula every two days. although it was a sad situation, it was really cool to feel like we were really following the spirit and were able to comfort someone when they really needed it. we also arranged for her two kids to go to church the next day and they were really into it. 

another cool experience we had this week was also based on spiritual promptings. we were on the bus headed back to our sector, but we had 2 hours before our next appointment. we had already done a bunch of contacting in the main part of town, and i felt like we should go up to a little pueblito about 15 minutes outside of town. so we stayed on the bus and got off at the top of this big hill and just started walking down. were knocking doors for about 45 minutes, and nobody has even tried to talk to us. as were walking down i see this somewhat sketchy stairway going up to a little house. i say what the heck, at least the stairs will tone my butt. so we go up to the house and this lady opens the door and immediately lets us in. we sit down in her humble kitchen on plastic lawn chairs, no table, no sink, and a small gas stove on some plywood on some cinderblocks and start to teach her. shes super friendly and her two kids are so freaking cute. shes in  a "union libre" basically a marriage without any legal documents with a guy 10 years older than her whos one of 17 kids. but they fell in love and decided what the heck were gonna live our life and the did. they moved in when she was 17 and and 8 years later they are still going strong. anyways. so about 30 minutes into the lesson i ask her what their last names our so we can pray for them, then it hits me. this family was a street contact almost two months ago, one of my very first days in mitad del mundo. they gave us a rough address but we could never find the house. i ask her if its her and she says "yes i thought you werent going to realize it" apparently she knew the whole time that i didnt remember them, but wasnt going to say anything. she and her husband see us alot downtown, but they were a little bummed we never visited them, and since we never recongized them they thought we didnt want to talk to them. (i guess its alot easier to recognize the only white girl in all of 3 towns than it is to recognize a latino you contacted in the street once) they came to church this week and were gonna go visit them tomorrow

we also had another family come to church (also not married, there seems to be a theme here) but the womans brother is a missionary in chile and got baptized a little over a year ago. so while were work to get a few couples married, hopefully we can throw in a few baptismal dates too. butttt transfers are this next week, and i dont feel like im going to stay here. so thats a little bit of a bummer but its the mission life.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Halloween Ecuadorian Style

This week: we tried to have a halloween party for the stake, but it was poorly planned and poorly announced so only a few families showed up. it was still fun though. i went as a cat, two elders as nerds, one as a jedi and one sister as pocohantas. dressing up while still keeping the missionary standards is challenging for sure.
our zone at the halloween party
we planned it for november 2nd which as many of you know is day of the dead. (also called dias de los difuntos here) the ward celebrates by drinking colada morada and eating gua-guas de pan. the colada morada is a super sweet fruit smoothie that is served hot and actually pretty good. the blueberry season here starts in november so its a super traditional and highly anticipated event. they also make gua guas (wah-wahs) de pan which is a bread shaped baby decorated with colored icing. they are sooooo good.

gua guas and colada morada!

                various relief society sisters and us

we also helped various families decorate for christmas which was quite fun. everyone always asks about thanksgiving with very confused interest.  we also had dinner yesterday with the half german half ecuadorian family that lives in the thats always an interesting time.
dinner with the german family

we also attended a birthday party for one of our investigators. latinos do not mess around with birthday parties

we had two days of training (between interviews and zone conference and other stuff etc.) so we didnt get too much done, but its all in a mission.  my baptism last week was the daughter of the family we baptized the first baptism (we didnt know she existed until a few weeks later) but she is the BOMB. she totally ditched all her friends and told them she was getting baptized and needed to live a better life. but then her grandma came and stole all her clothes because she wants her to move back and not live with her mom anymore. this family never really ceases to surprise me. 

the funny story of the week: we were in a lesson with an investigator and it was going pretty well. we ask her to give the closing prayer and shes all about it. shes giving the prayer and all of the sudden the two year old who was falling asleep on her  shoulder just pukes all over her, the chair and the floor. it was a small kid but alot of throwup. we didnt really know what to do so we tried to help clean up with some babywipes we had in our bag. the lady came back in and started to finish her prayer still covered in puke, we told her she could go change first and she was like oh really? okay... it was pretty funny. but props to her to keeping the spirit through it all. 

The view out my window
thats all folks! 

Monday, October 28, 2013

English is so hard!


well, as a zone we were a little iniquitous (in iniquity? i dont know what it is in english) on our last p-day (listening to worldly music in the van), so the work was a little slow this week. we got macheted (in trouble? yelled at? english is so hard!) by the zone leaders in a special meeting after they got macheted by the mission president, but its all good in the hood now. 
Hermana Muir and I at the waterfalls

Last week's "iniquitous" zone activity to Mindo

Everyone already has their christmas trees up here, and they are ALL about chirstmas. they also think thanksgiving is super weird and dont understand why we eat turkey....actually now that i think about it i dont understand it either. the weather is still pretty much the same, and it hasnt rained too much lately, but every one is worried its going to come late but super heavy. 

we had an interview Wednesday and a baptism Friday, but thrusday we realized there wasnt any water in our chapel so we had to switch to the stake center. trying to plan a baptism in 12 hours is pretty hard, but we got it done. we also only started an hour late, so were making progress (we had to wait for another witness) 

everyone that got baptized and the other missionaries from our ward

i got a FABULOUS halloween card from aunt dana, uncle ken and corey and all the latinos were obsessed with it in the offices. On Saturday we did a service project with non member family we met in the street. they are so cool and hopefully we can start to teach them. the dad kind of reminds me of daddy. he just decided he wanted to build somewhat of cement igloo in the front yard and just started digging the whole without a plan. he says hes learning everything from youtube....his wife doesnt seem nearly as excited. it was pretty fun to be able to use all of my muscles, and not just walk all day. mixing concrete at noon in ecuador is one heck of way to get a farmers tan. 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Three month mark

This week:
not too many exciting things....its been raining more and more every day. some days its way cold and wet and i dont like the weather...but some days its totally sunny. i have a pretty nice farmers tan now a days...and im not in the most sunny sector. my hair is also getting blonder...i hit 3 months last im 1/6th of the way done with my mission.. its gone by so fast. i also finished reading the book of mormon which i started when we got here to ecuador...a month and a half isnt too bad i guess. i dont know if i said this already but i started sleep talking in spanish..and lately ive been forgetting alot of words in english. adjusting back after a year and half will be tough.... i think. 

We have a really cool family that were teaching right now. the 9 year old has read all of the pamphlets and answered all of the questions with out us even asking. she also is already in chapter 10 of first nephi....shes so smart and LOVES when we come to teach. 

Today we went to a place called mindo. its about an hour and half or two hours away (although its still in my sector) and it was AWESOME. first you take this thing thats a mix of a cable car and a canopy tour across a big valley and then you hike and hike and hike and theres a bunch of waterfalls. being the rebel i am i went and stood under one of the little baby waterfalls and got totally soaked (and later really really cold) but it was so fun! my zone is really cool. then we went and ate at one of our favorite seafood restraunts.  the pictures are way better than my words but this computer place is so slow and were out of time so ill send the rest next week! 

love you bye!

also i forgot if i said this already but if anyone at church is asking what to send me tell them dry bags of brownie batter! 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

If Spanish is too easy, try Kichua

the book of mormon cover in Kichua (and yours truly)
This week: well, the most interesting day this week was definitely Friday.
on the way back from a two zone training conference in iñaquito a few things happened
first: we got in a minor bus accident. nobody got hurt and only the missionaries seemed to notice. there was a little bit of broken glass but we were on our way in no time
second: one of the other sisters took the bus right before us, and by the time we got to the bus station she had gotten robbed. bummerr
third: later that night we were hanging out in our convert ana´s food shack thing. some crazy lady came up and started to throw food and spoons and embers at ana to try to distract her so the crazy lady could steal food. well little did the crazy lady know, but ana is super hood and fights like nobodies business. in about 5 seconds she had they crazy lady on the ground in somewhat of a defensive hold and the whole town came out to watch. the member who gave us the reference for her family was standing by eating a hot dog and yelling like we were on jerry springer. it was a pretty good day. 
today i hung out with the family from esmeraldas and they taught us to make empanadas de verde de queso and morrocho. theyre pretty sweet. 

hanging out in the kitchen of ana maria

my first empanada!
what else.....this week hasnt been too exciting otherwise. we found a cool family who kind of reminds me of the rassmusens. but they arent married and they work on i wouldnt be expecting a baptism any time soon. the computers are really slow for pictures so im dedicating more time for pictures than words (my words dont really make sense anymore)

other developments this week
i started sleep talking in spanish...well sleep yelling, but whats the difference?

i also started to learn kichua. 
the phrases im learning this kichua

hermana lopez served in otavalo for 8 months and has a book of mormon in kichua and a few hymns. its a sick language and makes absolutely no sense to me right now. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Babies, baptisms, and bumps in the road

us and the oña family before their baptism at last week's "white night"

All the converts and missionaries from last week's "white night"
wheewwww i dont even know where to start. we had meetings pretty much all day every day (mission council, verifications, district meeting, etc) so we didnt really get too much work done. 
on tuesday we had verifications for all the greenies that came in my week. they took us *gasp* out of mission boundries! 

hermana muir, berret and i at the panecillo

we went to this big monument called panecillo. its kind of like the big jesus in rio dijenaro (i dont know how you spell that) but its an angel.  apparently a bunch of years ago in the 60s president kimball (when he was still a 12) went to this monument and dedicated the country of ecuador to missionary work. only 3 weeks later the first converts were baptized. it was pretty powerful and the view is amazing.

the view from the panecillo

Well later on that day we went to one of our mamitas and we started to talk and low and behold her dad was one of the first members baptized in ecuador. she was also the first sister missionary to every leave from ecuador. her story is nuts but shes so cool. she also cooks like nobodies business. her and her husband got married after only one month. He was a missionary in her ward and later on they met up again at a dance. he called her a week later and asked if she wanted to get married. they both prayed and she said yes. theyve been together for 40 something years now and are still going strong. she blows my mind . 

then saturday and sunday was general conference. this was the first time ive ever actually watched all 4 sessions. AND I TOOK NOTES. i know its a miracle. its crazy how exciting general conference was. it seemed like every talk had some profound message that i needed to write down and save for the future. the one black guy (i dont remember when he talked) was funny because all throughout the elders kept quoting the lion king. he sounded like rafiki. the put all the white missinoaries in our own room so we could watch in english there were only 6 of us,but it was pretty fun.

 my area  of missionaries after general conference

they spoke so much about missionary work and  a few mentions of autism and other disabilites. it seemed like it was a conformation of my educational interests. 

then sunday night after conference we hung out with a recent member and made tortillas from verde (green plantain)  they were okay, but i wasnt a huge fan. this member though is SWEET. shes hillarious and i think we are twins.
they have a pretty small house but she feeds the missionaries once a week. she has a few kids and they are freaking adorable (pictures attached.) 
the cutest baby in the whole wide world. we also had a casual dinner date, no biggie. 

Earlier in the week we also visited with a less active sister who recently gave birth to the tiniest premature baby girl.  she only weighed two pounds when she was born.
the moms brother showed up and hes somewhat inactive, but we talked about how he should start going back to church so he can give the baby blessing to his niece. it was so sweet. 
 her hand in mine 

seriously all of the members here are so loving and would give anything for us. my new comp is named hermana lopez and shes from colombia. shes a little taller than hermana garcia but still shorter than me. Weve only been togther a few hours, but we already went and got chifa (Chinese food) and she seems pretty chill. i hope we will get along a little bit better.

 hermana garcia and i cutting her goodbye
cake at the last zone conference
life with hermana garcia wasnt bad, but we had our differences sometimes. mission is definitely hardcore training for married life.
 (Doesn't this look like a wedding photo?)  other than that ive just being going all over the mission trying to get ready for hermana garcia to leave. its weird to have her gone but hopefully this next transfer will be one for the record books.

lots of pictures attached. (like 40+) (since i missed the last few weeks) 

from your eternally sleepy and strenthening spiritual,
Hermana harlos
p.s. shoutout to kaylee for her 21st birthday on friday (picture attached!)

Kaylee - not sure which picture of the 40+ she had in mind for you, but here are my top guesses. 
Happy Birthday!- Linda
 a new pharmacy opened down the street. they were giving out free cotton candy. i was pretty stoked.

 i cut open a plantain for breakfast and it was sad at me =(

but then i ate it and i was happy #suckstosuckplantain