Garrett in front of the Guayaquil Temple

Monday, December 26, 2011

26 Dec 2011

Hi again family! Yes, I know it has been a short time since we talked yesterday, but I will take a little time to write something short! It was really nice to talk to all of you and hear your voices, it was long-awaited! I enjoyed the pictures of your gingerbread houses, they all look great! However, I do give Mom the "Best looking house" award, although all of them look fantastic! Too bad graham crackers aren't sold here, or else I would have made my own too! However, we did make plenty of our own food on Saturday and Sunday, so we were well fed! I mentioned to you that I made pancakes yesterday for the other Elders in the house, later on in the night I remembered I had bought a box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, so we had no problem in downing that either! It was definitely an experience I won't soon forget. I'm told that for New Year's we also have to be in the house, and I imagine why. People here build things called "monigotes", which are large renditions of popular figures from movies and entertainment this year, and when New Years rolls around, they burn them in the streets, causing a lot of black smoke to fill the sky, which probably doesn't help anyones lungs, and they all will probably drinking heavily, which could spell disaster if someone isn't careful. So, I'm fine with being in the house. But one of the popular monigotes is of the Smurfs (Pitufos en español). There are also some of Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa, many of The Simpsons, and whatever else happened to be popular in this year.

We'll be working really hard to get two baptisms this week, but with another short week, it could be more difficult than expected! We are still working with two great people, Holger, and Noemi. Both of them have a baptism date for this weekend, and they're both excited, so it's just up to us to keep them excited and arrive at the waters of baptism this weekend! I'll let you know how that turned out next week, which will also mean 1 YEAR!!! Woo hoo! Wow, the time has gone by real fast, and this next year will go by even faster I imagine! It will be a time of working hard and diligently, getting as many people possible back into the Lord's fold. I do oft-times ask myself "Where did this first year go?" I have had many experiences, which I'm trying hard to remember them all! The mission is for sure a unique opportunity in life to get to know how things are in other parts of the world. It took me a while to figure how people maintain themselves here, and in different ways, but they manage to do it, which I see as a grand blessing for them!

Well family, like I said, just something short for this week, as next week will be a little longer, maybe a look-back on 1 year as a missionary!

Love you all! Write ya next week!

(I tried uploading some pictures, but it didn't work, next week then!)
Elder Garrett Cederquist
Misión Ecuador Guayaquil Sur

Monday, December 19, 2011

19 Dec 2011

Dearest family,

Yet again Monday has arrived, this time a week before the very special holiday of Christmas! By the way, thanks for the awesome picture of all the family! Looks like everyone is happy (as they should be) for the Christmas season. I received the package that the Young Women of the ward sent this past week! Thanks for that! The Gingerbread house and the Christmas tree look real nice! :)

This past week was a little bit crazy, we were to have a baptism, but unfortunately it fell through due to some health problems within the family of our investigator, Noemi. So we've pushed it back to this Friday, so we'll have 2 for sure baptisms this Friday, while we could have another 2 baptisms of a great couple, John and Julisa. They have to get married still, and they need to do it this week, so we're really praying for them so they can get married, so their baptisms can be had as well. Either way, this week leading up to Christmas will be a very special one sharing the Gospel, a message of real happiness, with everyone we can. And the members of the ward have told us they'll bring food for us at our house for Nochebuena (Christmas Eve) and Navidad (Christmas Day)! So we'll be good to go this weekend! 

We manage to keep working with new investigators, helping understand and accept the Gospel in their lives. It really brings a great spirit to see them accept the Gospel and make the changes in their lives. I've seen it many times while here in Ecuador, it is amazing! That is my wish for the new year as well, that more and more people can come unto Christ and see the blessings He has prepared for them more clearly in this life. And just like Mom said in her email, we're at the halfway point! (Ok, ALMOST at the halfway point) :)

Well, I'll keep this email short so there is a lot to talk about this Sunday, via SKYPE! Woo hoo! Love you all and talk to you/see you on Sunday!

Elder Garrett Cederquist
Misión Ecuador Guayaquil Sur

Monday, December 12, 2011

12 Dec 2011 Sunscreen in December

Hello once again family from a sunny and hot Guayaquil. This week the weather has been very, very warm, so sunscreen (yet another thing I am not used to using in December) has been in good use. This week, up until last night, was just one of those "ugh, this is week is dragging on" weeks. That is until we found Holger, who was a referral from the Batallón Ward, which has boundaries with my ward, 7 de Septiembre. We went to teach Holger, not knowing what to expect, like what kind of person he would be. Within a few minutes of getting to know him, he explained to us in detail what he understood about the first four chapters of 1 Nephi in the Book of Mormon. I was completely taken back by his knowledge and comprehension of all the events that took place in those chapters. So we taught him about the Restoration, and he understood all the principles of that as well. Without hesitation, Elder Curtis and I put the baptismal date, for the 23rd, and he accepted! An advantage we have is he already has one church attendance in Batallón, where he has several friends, one of whom is a returned missionary. So he only has to attend this week to be baptized the following! Woohoo! We will be working with him this week and the following to get him to baptism! He´s a golden investigator!

I´ll share a little about the area, as that was a request from Dad last week. We´re located in the south of Guayaquil, in the Suburbios del Batallón (the suburbs). There are a lot of small roads, only one way basically, which makes for kind of a maze trying to get from visit to visit. I am still trying to get accustomed to that. One thing that has confused me since I arrived in Ecuador are the directions, like North, South, East, West. And the addresses of people´s houses. There´s no organized structure to the road system here, it is confusing, so it takes time to know what is where and all that good stuff. Especially with all the transfers that I have had in the last two, going on three months, getting located can be quite hard!

Other than that, not too much is going on, just working hard and always keeping busy! Sorry for the shortness of this letter! I´ll let you all know next week about the Christmas phone call and how and when I´ll call you!

Love you all, and say hi to all the family at the Christmas party this week! Tell them I am enjoying the hot weather!!!!

Elder Garrett Cederquist
Misión Ecuador Guayaquil Sur

Monday, December 5, 2011

5 December 2011 -- Eleven Months

¡Hola Familia Cederquist! Wow, I can't believe it either, we're already in December! Very soon this year will be in the books, and I don't think I have words to describe how fast this year has gone by! It's definitely been a year in where I've learned many new things, met some amazing people, and have gotten accustomed to moving around! But I am still here in Guayaquil, 7 de Septiembre, so for once I can feel a little relief in not having to travel! I'm still getting a little re-accustomed to the heat of Guayaquil, as I was away from that heat about two months when I was in Cuenca and Naranjito, but that's just a temporary thing!

This past week was a little bit tough, but we did manage to have a baptism of Karim, whose parents are less-active members, but a really great family. (I do have photos, but I left my camera at the house, sorry!) The baptismal service went really great, quite a few members attended in support of Karim and his family. We're looking forward to a really productive week to kick December off. Yesterday we got hosed by our investigators, who said they were going to attend church, and when we went to pick them up, nobody! Ouch! Of course, it doesn't help anything when church starts at 8:00 AM (6:00 AM there in good ole Utah). Nobody, including us as missionaries, are really awake, thus making it rather difficult to have many people attend with us. This is something President Montalti has expressed concern about in the past few weeks, and he mentioned he's trying to change some schedules to make it more convenient for us and our investigators to attend. But if I manage to stay here for the New Year, the schedule changes to 10:00 AM for us, so as it stands with four or so weeks left in the year, I think we can manage the 8 AM time slot. That's another thing that is surprising to me, in the six wards/branches I've been in, one has started at 8 AM, four have started at 9 AM, and one at 3 PM. I prefer the morning meetings, just so you know! :)

I feel December is going to fly by, and we'll be at that year mark before we know it! Don't worry, I'm not "trunky" as they say here in the mission, but it really did hit me this past week how fast the mission goes by. It feels as if just last week I started in the Provo MTC. Every day has been an experience, and I've sure had my ups-and-downs, but many more "up" moments than "down". I'm trying to keep up my happenings in my journal as well, but lately it's been hard with having to talk to the District and Zone Leaders almost on a nightly basis.

Last night we were able to catch 45 minutes of the First Presidency Christmas Devotional, which started at 8 PM here. Only managed to see Pres. Uchtdorf's address along with part of Pres. Eyring's address. I felt kind of empty not hearing President Monson speak, but General Conference will be here again really quick in April, so that will be a good time.

Well familia, got to get going, but I'm glad to hear that remains well back home, even though the temperature seems quite cold! December through March or so is the hottest time here in Ecuador. People are kind of backwards here, when they talk about winter, they always mention how hot it gets, and that summer is the rainy season! I was confused at first about that too!

Write ya next week! Chao!

Elder Garrett Cederquist
Misión Ecuador Guayaquil Sur

Monday, November 28, 2011

28 November 2011, Back To Guayaquil & A New Companion

Oh where do I begin this letter? Well, I'll start with this: My time in Naranjito has come to an end, and following what Kyley said in her email from two weeks ago, I've been transferred again! Today's entry comes from Guayaquil once again, from my new sector called "7 de Septiembre" (7th of September) in one of the most talked about stakes in Ecuador, the Cisne Stake. I've heard about Cisne all of my mission and the success that there is to be had with the people, and now I get my chance to be here! I'm pretty excited for that! My new companion, number 11 on the "Companion Counter" is Elder Curtis, from Draper, UT, who has 3 months here in Ecuador. Sadly I had to leave Elder Caal behind in Naranjito after only two weeks of training him. Hopefully he's able to find his away around quickly!

Well, this past week was a really crazy one! We were blessed to have the baptism and confirmation of Julio on Saturday, which turned out fantastic. Unfortunately, the same can't be said for Bella, who in all honesty bugged out on us both on Saturday and Sunday. Not sure if I want to recap all that happened with that, but I'll do it anyway for you all. So Saturday she couldn't come due to a minor accident she had while at the gym. So after the baptism of Julio, we went to her house to figure out what happened. We then committed her to baptism on Sunday at 8am, right before church, where then she could have been confirmed in Sacrament meeting. Well, she arrived to the chapel, in which we're thinking "Awesome!", until she tells Elder Caal and I that she has to go back and get some things she forgot at her house, and would be right back. well, she left, and we did too to go pick up Julio, who doesn't live too far from the chapel. But when we returned, Bella wasn't there, and had gone straight to work, a flat out, 100% lie, which affected everything else of the day, most notably our investigators attending Sacrament meeting, in which we had zero, all due to us getting run around by a possible baptism. Wow, I've not felt so let down before on the mission. But I remembered that people have their agency, and we as missionaries can't force them to be baptized, we just help them arrive spiritually to that point. But it was more sweet to see the baptism of Julio, because he was ready, in that I don't doubt. I just feel bad that I can't be there to reteach the lessons to him to help him grow more in the Gospel. But I'll make sure to write him a small note here in the coming weeks to keep him excited about everything.

Elder Curtis told me that we'll be having quite a few baptisms in the coming weeks, so look forward to a lot of photos! Oh yeah, can I just say how physically tired I am with all these transfers I've had lately?!?! It's the most tired I've felt as of yet on the mission. That's a testament to the amount of work my companions and I have been doing, finding God's elect. The blessings are coming more and more abundantly, something I'm extremely grateful for.

To answer the question about Thanksgiving here: We made up for it this year. Allow me to explain: So Turkey Day was Thursday, but all the Senior Companions from parts of Milagro and Guayaquil (me included) had a training with President Montalti last Friday. After the training, we went to Terminal Terrestre (the huge bus terminal in G'quil) where there is a pretty nice food court. It just so happens that all the senior comps were Americans, so where did we go? Pizza Hut. And we ate. And ate. And ate. A supreme pizza and cinnamon sticks have never tasted so good! And we have even more training with President tomorrow and Wednesday, so we'll see what food comes from that! :)

Well family, I'm glad to hear all is well and that you enjoyed the holiday!

Love you all, and I'll write you next Monday!

Elder Garrett Cederquist
Misión Ecuador Guayaquil Sur

Monday, November 21, 2011

21 November 2011 Another New Companion

Hello once again family! Sounds like you all had a great last week, as did I! I think Kyley mentioned in an email last week that it seems like I get a new companion about every week, well, that is the case yet again! This time around I am TRAINING!!! My NEW companion is fresh out the MTC in Bogota, Colombia, and his name is Elder Caal, and is from Cobán, Guatemala. After P-Day and all last Monday, we received the call from the zone leaders saying there were transfers. The conversation went something like this: "Ok, Elder Bohorquez will be switching rooms in the house (yes, that's really the case) and Elder McRae to the bus terminal in Guayaquil at 7:30 Tuesday morning, and Elder Cederquist will be training." "¿¡¿¡WHAT?!?!" was my reply to hearing that news! So Tuesday, I went with Elder McRae, who is also pretty new to the mission, to Guayaquil to drop him off and to wait for our new companions in a stake center near the center of Guayaquil. They arrived about 2 pm or so, and we had a "new missionary training" with President Montalti after their arrival. Elder Caal is pretty excited to be here, and I'm pretty excited to be training him! Recently, the Church released a a 12 week training program for the new missionaries, something I didn't have when I first arrived to Ecuador. "The First 12 Weeks" is an excellent training course, I even feel like I'm learning more and more thanks to it!

Alright, to the news of last week... Unfortunately the baptism of Bella fell through due to a work conflict, so she will be baptized this weekend along with Julio, who has been taking it all in in terms of the lessons, and is really excited to be baptized. We're just finishing some things up in terms of teaching and all will be ready for this Saturday! I'm really excited to be seeing the fruits of our labor. We've been really blessed lately in teaching them and finding other people to teach as well. The time is really passing by quickly, mainly because we're keeping busy and working diligently. This week is shaping up to be a really successful one, in which I'm really happy for! I won't lie, I felt just a little lost in the sector last week, as I was only with Elder Bohorquez one week, and he knew the sector really well. So I had to ask him a lot of questions last week about who lives where, where do we go to lunch on what days, yeah, at least I'm somewhat familiar with the area now!

I will post more photos next week, as we'll for sure have the baptisms! Don't worry!

And LA won the MLS Cup.... Didn't help Houston that LA was playing at home. And what happened to Chelsea? Tough season so far!

So the random experience from the day: We were shopping in Tia, when all of a sudden I hear "Teardrops on My Guitar" by Taylor Swift. I couldn't help myself, I was singing along. It was a little odd hearing a song in English, but somewhat refreshing as the music here in Ecuador gets a little boring after hearing it a million times a week!

Well, that's about it for this week family! Another busy seven days is upon us!

Love you all, take care!

(the photo is of the baptism of Viviana, from Saturday the 12th)
Elder Garrett Cederquist
Misión Ecuador Guayaquil Sur

Monday, November 14, 2011

14 Nov 2011

Well hello family from what has been a cloudy Naranjito, Ecuador this past week. Cloudy may have been the weather, but the work of the Lord was sunny this past week! It's been a week of adjusting and getting everything in order, and even a BAPTISM!!! Elder Bohorquez and his last companion had been working with a lady named Viviana, whose dad is a member, for a couple of weeks, and she had accepted a baptismal date for this past Saturday, so it was yet another freebie baptism for me, but that's ok, because it's yet another soul coming unto Christ, the most important part of it all. I do have photos, but I left my camera in the house, so next week you'll get photos of the baptism on Saturday AND the baptism we are going to have this Saturday of a lady named Bella (yes, that means Beautiful in English, just in case you were curious).

This week we found some people who are pretty interested in hearing the Gospel. One is named Julio, who we found last Tuesday. Julio is a pretty cool guy. He commented to us that he feels a little bit lost in life, and wants to straighten things out, and the Gospel is the perfect tool for doing that. When we taught him, he really was attentive, and he mentioned he felt good about what we had discussed. We invited him to pray, and he gave a genuine, heartfelt prayer, one of the best I've heard in quite some time. The Spirit was present, it was an incredible feeling. While he was a little hesitant to accept a baptismal date, we helped explain that when someone feels the feelings as he did, it's the Spirit talking, confirming the truthfulness of the message, and that one should act on those feelings to receive even more of those feelings from the Spirit. Acting, in this case, is baptism, for a remission of sins and to have a constant companion in the Holy Ghost after being confirmed. The goal is for his baptism to be on the 26th of this month, so we'll keep working with him, helping him prepare for baptism.

While I thought Naranjito would be pretty hot in terms of weather, it really wasn't. Yes, it was muggy, but not as hot as it was when I was in Guayaquil, so that's a bonus. There's only four missionaries here in Naranjito, and we live together, as we all work in the same Branch. For our district meetings, we have to travel 20-25 minutes in bus to Milagro, which isn't the most exciting thing, as many people travel from Naranjito to Milagro on a daily basis, so the buses are usually full. But overall things are good here, the members are a good help for us, and even in a short time being here, I've gotten to establish a good friendship with some of them. Today is also the beginning of a new transfer, but no changes came for us here in Naranjito, so all is normal.

And changes in the Stake, huh? To me it doesn't make much sense in moving chapels as like half our ward lives a minute away! I'm not too surprised that those changes are happening, the stake was growing really fast! Any word on what other wards will be in the new building with ours?

Well family, that's about all from this week in the mission field. As promised, I'll get you some pictures next week from the baptisms and some sights, and more experiences from Naranjito.

Love you all, have an excellent week!
Elder Garrett Cederquist
Misión Ecuador Guayaquil Sur

Monday, November 7, 2011

Transferred Again, I'm in Naranjito now.

Hello family once again from Ecuador! Today's entry comes to you from the city of Naranjito, just outside of a city called Milagro. Yep, I was transferred once again, after only five weeks (one week shy of a full transfer) in Cuenca. I'm once again in the province of Guayas, but about an hour or so away from Guayaquil. It's becoming very often that I say this, but my NEW companion (number nine) is Elder Bohorquez (Bore-kez), who has about three months in the mission, and is from Santa Cruz, Bolivia. I was informed late last night that I was getting transferred, which to be honest I was a little bit bummed. Bummed for two reasons: One: We had two baptisms lined up for this Saturday, Two: I was really liking the weather in Cuenca, nice and cool. I got to bed at 11:50 last night, didn't sleep too well, and was up at 5:30 getting the last of my things ready to go. It's not too fun as a missionary losing sleep. The weather here in Naranjito is just like Guayaquil, hot and humid. Today it has been really muggy, so the humidity, something I have to get used to again, is very high. I've been on a bus for a grand total of 5 hours today, so I'm just a little bit tired!

The last week in Cuenca was pretty good, even though it was darn near impossible to find anyone to teach as the "Fiestas de Cuenca" were last week, and everyone was out celebrating. I was hoping for a good last week of the transfer to get in those two baptisms, but that willl be up to Elder Cruz and his new companion to do. Elder Bohorquez has told me a little bit about the sector and what to expect, and I can only expect good! Should be a fun time getting to know more people and helping them receive this great Gospel.

Again, this letter is kind of short, apologies for that, but next week will have more details!

I love you all, glad to hear all is still well!

Elder Garrett Cederquist
Misión Ecuador Guayaquil Sur

Monday, October 31, 2011

31 October 2011 Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween and Happy Birthday Dad from Cuenca!!! Nothing too scary to be seen today as of yet, but we'll see how tonight goes, as we'll be "trick or teaching," as Elder Nilsen, who lives in the same house as I, said earlier today. Some people around here celebrate Halloween, but it's just another for most. Awesome to hear about RSL's triumph Saturday night against Seattle! They're making that big push at the end!

Yet another week, and month for that matter, have passed by super fast! I've been here in Cuenca for a month now, but it sure doesn't feel that way! That one year mark keeps creeping closer and closer every day. Also, today marks 300 days on the mission for me, not that I'm keeping track or anything...

It was a little bit better this past week in terms of the mission work. We managed to find several people who have taken an interest in listening to us, and that want to attend Church with us, too! There is a bakery (panadería en español) by our house, and so we've been going there frequently, because the bread they make there is super tasty, and some of the workers there have asked us about the Church, so we've explained and invited them to learn more by having us come by and going to Church on Sundays. That's one of the many ways we can find people to teach, and it works! (Oh yeah, the best bread there at this panadería is called Caracol del Dulce. Wow! It has some sort of lemon cream in the center, and is made with what's called "pan dulce" or sweet bread. I'm usually inclined to buy one or two whenever we make a stop there.)

I managed to get my hands on a copy of this month's Liahona, which is dedicated completely to the Book of Mormon. There are some fantastic messages from the Prophets and Apostles about how to study the Book of Mormon, how it can change lives, and how it works hand-in-hand with the Bible. I'm using my Bible more often here in Cuenca, as the majority of people are Catholic, so we have to explain the purpose of the Book of Mormon, using scriptures from the Bible. Let me just say it gets interesting at times. It's not a Bible bash, but a lot point-proving. For me, I like using the Book of Mormon more, as things are explained really clearly, but different teaching situations require different teaching methods, so I hope to be able to use the Bible with more knowledge in the very near future!

Well, the work of the Lord continues yet another week, and this week will be interesting, as the "Fiestas de Cuenca" get underway tomorrow and go the entire week! I'll try and get some photos and send them next week!

Take care, love you all! Tell everyone hi for me!
Elder Garrett Cederquist
Misión Ecuador Guayaquil Sur

Monday, October 24, 2011

24 Oct 2011

Hello family from Cuenca! Before I start, HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!!!! Hope you had a great day yesterday!!!

Wow, Yellowstone this weekend, eh? Sounds nice! Just one question... Why are you going to all these places without me? Haha!

Well, this week was pretty slow once again, not too much to report on. We did manage to put a baptismal date with one of our investigators, Josimar. He's pretty cool, and even told us "I'd like to be baptized." Those are the investigators of gold we talk about as missionaries! The goal we have with him is to be baptized on the 12th of November, seems a little ways away, but it gives us time to work out any challenges that may impede us. We're still trying to find people to teach as well, for that, we're working more with the members here to help us out, because if it's only us trying to find investigators, we spend a lot of time knocking doors and walking around, not fun.

Our ward still is doing good. Yesterday we ate lunch with the Bishop, Xavier Reiban, who is a super funny guy, always has a smile on his face. He also served a mission about 10 years ago in the Guayaquil North mission, and he shared some of his experiences with us yesterday. He keeps us smiling with his positive outlook on things!

Not a whole lot else to write you on this Monday, as we're REALLY short on time today. But next week should be a little bit longer!

I love you all and hope this week goes well for you all!

And for those who want to know, yes I'll come home after the mission, but I hope to come back and visit Ecuador. It's a great place!

Until next week, CHAO!!!!

Elder Garrett Cederquist
Misión Ecuador Guayaquil Sur

Monday, October 17, 2011

17 Oct 2011

¡HOLA FAMILIA! It's been a sunny, but yet cool week here in Cuenca. It was kind of a slow week, but we did have the baptism of Diana, who has been investigating the Church for quite a while, according to the record we have in our Area Book. She finally committed to baptism, and Saturday was her day. It was a really nice baptismal service, especially since it was in our chapel, the new one I mentioned last week. But honestly there wasn't too much to show for last week, I guess that's just how some weeks are in the mission. This week should be a little better, so we'll see how that goes. Our biggest challenge right now is finding people to teach. We've received a few referrals from the other missionaries, but we've not been able to contact those people, either they weren't home or perhaps the address was wrong. It's a little different here in Cuenca teaching people, as it takes a little bit more effort to get a hold of people. On the coast (Guayaquil, Machala), people are more open to listen and accept our visits. I've been told that Cuenca is a good learning experience for the missionaries, and I have to agree that it is!
Last week, albeit slow, was interesting. I went on two exchanges to other sectors, back-to-back, so I managed to see other parts of Cuenca. One part I saw on Wednesday is called the Feria Libre, it's like a flea market, so there are usually a ton of people at any given time of the day. The other part I saw on Thursday was a really residential area, where we even talked to a lady who is from the United States living here in Cuenca. I guess she took advantage of the small cost of living here! I also met two really great young men who are about to leave on their missions. One is Esteban, who received his call this weekend I think, but I've not heard where he is going. He was with us on Wednesday (when I was on the exchange) and had us laughing the whole time! It's great to see future Elders have a funny side to them! The other young man I met is Juan Santiago, who is leaving in a month's time to Montevideo, Uruguay. I told him to look up Brock Richins. Juan is also a great guy, he'll be a fantastic servant of the Lord in Uruguay!
Today's P-Day activity was a pretty fun one. We went BOWLING!!! We only had time to play one good game, but I can say I am the CHAMPION! My score is nothing to brag about, only 135, but it was enough to hold off everyone else! I've even got pictures of my victorious game.
Well, we're short on time today, but there are A TON of photos for your liking this week, a lot from our trip up Rayo Loma, a higher part of our sector. Also from our baptism on Saturday.
I love you all, take care!
-Elder G

Monday, October 10, 2011

10 October 2011 from Cuenca

Buenas tardes familia from what has been a VERY rainy Cuenca this past week. As I mentioned last week the weather is very different here that in Guayaquil, and honestly I'm still trying to get used to it. Parts of our sector, which I'm still trying to learn, have pretty mountainous areas, where the altitude is 2500 meters (8202 feet) above sea level. Luckily the altitude hasn't been too bad on me, even though the air is thinner up here. My raincoat and umbrella came in very handy this past week, as it rained probably four days out of the week. It seems everyone here, when the clouds start to move in, says "Parece que va a llover" (Looks like it's going to rain), and they're usually right. I've already heard that phrase today from a taxi driver after we bought our groceries for the week.

We had a good past week, and we're excited for this week as we'll be having a baptism of Diana, who is the daughter of a very active member, and wife of a less-active member who is becoming more active through his wife. It's like a 2-for-1!!! The Fast and Testimony meeting we had yesterday, wow, I can say I've had back-to-back uplifting Sundays, with Conference being last week! The members are very strong in the Gospel, and I only thought they had been members for a short time, but no, some members have more than 20 years as members of the Church, so there's where the strength in the Gospel comes from. The chapel in which we attend is basically brand new, having only been dedicated five months ago. It is an American-style chapel, it even has carpet flooring, whereas the other chapels here just have tile! It's built in a small space, so it's two floors, with the Chapel being on the second floor. It's somewhere where one can really feel the Spirit profoundly.

Today I was able to see a little part of the center of Cuenca, a park called "Parque Calderon." Nothing too exciting there, except the 50 person or so protest against Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa that was going on in front of the offices of the Provincial Government of Azuay. No worries, nothing bad happened, just a lot of chanting/screaming, and we stayed away from that part anyway. Lunch today was Burger King! I've not eaten there in a while, probably a couple of years, so it was really good!!!

Well, those aforementioned storm clouds look to be moving in, so I'll make an end to my words for this week! Have an excellent week, and I'll do the same! And I'll keep my jacket and umbrella at the ready!

Love you all! Take care!

Elder Garrett Cederquist
Misión Ecuador Guayaquil Sur

Monday, October 3, 2011

3 Oct 2011 I've Been Transferred!

Hello family! Wow, today has been a crazy day of traveling! Last night we received our transfers and I was on of them! I'm now in the mountainous city of Cuenca, which is about 3-4 hours east of Guayaquil. The weather is a lot cooler here, and it gets pretty cold at night from what I've heard, and as I write this I have a jacket on, didn't think you'd hear me say that did you? I've only been here a couple hours, but I have a feeling I'll like this sector, which is called Monay. My new companion, and he's actually pretty new in the mission, is Elder Cruz, from Honduras. He has about 3 months in the mission, which means I am the senior companion, so it should be a great experience for the both of us.
Well, the last week I had with Elder Badger was a really good one, mainly because of General Conference, which I watched in Spanish, and understood all of it! One of my favorite talks was from President Uchtdorf in the Saturday morning session. That talk was amazing! It's one of those you could read over and over again. I loved one of the things he said, that we might feel insignificant at times, but to God we are always significant. The inspiration behind that talk was and is amazing. I'm excited to read the talk in the November issue of the Liahona! In every session there was 2 or 3 really great talks, so I was able to fill up my notebook quite a bit.
It was kind of sad to leave the Las Esclusas sector, because I had a lot of success there. But don't get me wrong, I'm really excited to be in Cuenca and see yet another part of the beautiful country of Ecuador. I'll have to take some pictures in the coming weeks to show you what it's like. Being in the mountains here is sweet, it reminds me a lot of home. Cuenca has a lot of similarities I guess you could say to Park City, for example. It's really different, so I'll have to adjust, and as I heard from another missionary today, I have to take the Coast (G'quil, Machala) chip out of my head and put in the Mountain (Cuenca) chip in my head. Could be interesting, but at least I'll like the cool weather!
Well, to be really honest, I'm not really sure what else I can write about, being in a new city kind of throws off the thought process, but next week I'll have more to report on, so don't worry!
Glad to hear you're all doing well, love you all! Tell everyone hi!
(Sorry to be short, I've got to go buy food for the week,or I'll be "unwillingly fasting" haha!)
Elder Garrett Cederquist
Misión Ecuador Guayaquil Sur

Monday, September 26, 2011

26 Sep 2011

Hello once again family from what's been a very sunny and hot Guayaquil for the past week! It's also been one of the craziest weeks I've seen here on the mission! After last Monday things were pretty crazy in getting the Rodriguez family married and baptized, which happened Thursday and Friday respectively! But it all wasn't a cake walk this past week in getting those things accomplished. We had to help the entire family get excited and and leave their "cold feet" feelings behind! I think Elder Badger and I could be professional motivators after all the uplifting we had to do this week! I've attached a photo of the entire Rodriguez family before their baptism! After all was said and done, I could actually take a breath and gather all my thoughts after running around our sector like crazy.
Now I could just end that story right there and move on, but I'll give you the rundown of Thursday and Friday: Thursday is the day when marriages can be performed in the Registro Civil here in Guayaquil, and only from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm can they be done. Well, our intention was to go at 1 pm, so we could have enough time to get Tony and Fidencia married, here's where the first case of cold feet comes in. We call Tony to see where he's at and when he'll be back, he tells us 2:30 we'll go. 2:30 arrives, still not at the house, so we call again, and now 3:30 is supposedly when we'll go. 3:30 arrives, and now we're worried, because we have only an hour to pull off the marriage, but Tony is at his house. We leave at 3:50ish for Registro Civil, really pushing our luck with the time at this point. 4:00 right on the dot and we arrive at Registro Civil, and there is a problem, we need two witnesses for the ceremony, but we only have one. So putting in to practice what we've learned as missionaries, we start talking to random people in the street asking them if they could just give us 15 minutes of their time to be a witness to a marriage. Well, that wasn't very productive, so back inside we find out that another couple is getting married as well, so we kindly ask a lady who was going to be a witness for that marriage to be a witness for ours as well. She agrees, so we're good on that point, but we're really short on time. 4:25ish or so, Tony and Fidencia start to fill out the papers and all that legal mumbo jumbo. 4:45 arrives, yes, past the 4:30 limit, but they can still go forth with the ceremony. 4:55 and they are shutting the doors as the ceremony is about to start! AGGGGH! Luckily everything goes through fine, Tony and Fidencia are legally married, so that's one heavy weight off our shoulders!
Friday and the BAPTISM! And that came with it's fair share of obstacles as well! This time it was sister Fidencia who got the cold feet on us. The baptism was planned for 11 am Friday. We passed by them at 9:30 or so to let them know that in an hour we'll be leaving for the Chapel to have the baptism. 10:30 rolls around, and Fidencia has left her house to buy meat for their small business they have! NOOOOO! 11:15 and she arrives, just taking her time and putting us in another tight spot. We kindly tell them that "hey, everyone is in the chapel awaiting your arrival, we've got to go now!" 11:40 we get to the chapel, so the baptismal service doesn't start until about 12! But all went well with the baptism, it was a super spiritual experience, but not all of them were confirmed on Sunday, so with General Conference this week, Tony and Fidencia will have to be confirmed on 8 October. Their son Justin, who had the most excitement to be baptized throughout all the commotion, was confirmed Sunday and really loves being a part of the Church!
Can anyone top my crazy week? I don't think so!
This week will be more calm, or so I hope so! I don't think I've been so tired in my life after this past week! Good thing P-Day is today, and even better that General Conference is this weekend!!! I'm ready for yet another spiritual boost from the Prophet and Apostles! Yet another round of transfers are coming up on Sunday night, so who knows if I'll be going anywhere...
There you have this week's update from Ecuador! And nothing new on the move to our new house. The mission office has been delaying some things for a while, so I'm not too sure when we'll make that move. It still might be a while!
Have a great week family and thanks for your updates!
I love you all!
PS: (Photos are of the baptism, my awesome Ecuador national team jersey, and the many languages of the Book of Mormon we have in our house: English, Spanish, French, Quicha (native dialect here in Ecuador.)) Enjoy!
Elder Garrett Cederquist
Misión Ecuador Guayaquil Sur

Monday, September 19, 2011

19 Sep 2011 Police Raid Ward Council Meeting!

Hello family from a really nice, air-conditioned Cyber really close to our house here in Guayaquil! Wow, this week has been really crazy, back and forth trying to get people prepared for baptism! Our goal this week is to get the Rodriguez family, who we've been teaching for about a month now, baptized this Friday. They are excited for baptism and it's amazing to hear their testimonies and how they've grown in the short time we've known them. The Gospel really does change people, I see it every day here! Both Elder Badger and I have worked our tails off this week, and the next two weeks are sure to be just the same. This transfer has flown by, and I owe it all to being happy all the time and not worrying so much about how many people we have to teach and how many new investigators we have to find. Those things come just by being diligent I've learned.

The people we are teaching now are fantastic! This is one of the reasons I've been really happy, is because I know they want to progress and prepare themselves for baptism. Another reason is because the members are giving us that extra boost in visiting our investigators with us. It is something small, but has a BIG effect on things (Alma 37:6-7).

To respond to the request of how are things in the house and what not, first I must apologize, I don't have any pictures to send this week, but next week I'll send some of the house and how we're holding up. The house is modern, and it's one of the nicest ones in the mission. But here in a few weeks we'll be having to move houses because the mission is trying to get just two missionaries in every house, and the house we'll be moving into isn't as nice as the house now, but at least it's somewhere to live! My bedding is holding up well, as are my clothes. Yes, I did receive my Crocs and French BoM, so everything got here in one piece! 

One experience that was unusual happened just over a week ago. We were in a meeting with the Ward Council talking about the work we're doing with our investigators and less-actives, when all of a sudden about 10 police officers coming storming into the building with guns drawn looking for a thief, thinking he had entered and was trying to hide. Well, he wasn't there, but the cops, one armed with an assault rifle, cleared the Chapel and then went elsewhere to look for this guy. They arrested the guy about 20 minutes later. That was a first for me, but the cops did their job, so nothing bad happened. That was something I wasn't going to share, because I didn't want to frighten anyone, but it falls under the unusual category! I'll make sure to write down in my journal some things that I see and remember them for next Monday.

P-Days are pretty normal. Today we're going with our District to watch the DVD "The District 2," which shows some of the teaching techniques in real-life situations. We'll also be playing UNO, as one of the Elders has that with him. What we do on P-Day mainly depends on what we ask permission to do (yes, it seems a little childish to have to ask to do things, but mainly to prevent a large group of missionaries meeting up in one place or another.) For example, we went to the Mall del Sur last week, next week we'll try to go to another place called RioCentro. RioCentro has Baskin Robbins, so we want to go there for that, and to do our shopping as well!

I'm very sad to hear that President Whetten passed away. He helped me a lot in the MTC in Lima in getting used to things and overcoming the tough times I had there. He was a great servant of the Lord while here on the Earth. I'm glad I was able to meet him.

Well, that's my report for the week, and I promise next week I'll get some photos sent off to give you more a view of the mission life!

Love you all, enjoy the week and I'll write you next week!

Elder Garrett Cederquist
Misión Ecuador Guayaquil Sur

Monday, September 12, 2011

12 Sep 2011

Hey family! Once again it's Monday and today's email comes to you from a Cyber in the Mall del Sur here in Guayaquil! It's quite a popular place with the missionaries as we can get permission every so often to come and buy things and have a fun P-Day! After this we'll be buying of food for the week at a place called MegaMaxi, which has a much better selection of food than TIA, which is where we usually go every week.

This past week was a really good one! On Saturday we had the baptism of Ariel, the son of Lucia, who was baptized last week! He was really excited to be baptized, and even told us just after he was baptized that he felt something in his chest. I mentioned to him that "that's the Spirit letting you know you've made an excellent decision." He and his mom will make great members of the Church!

We continue to keep finding people who are pretty interested in hearing about the Gospel. We're lining up quite a few baptisms for the month of October, since the people we have right now haven't attended church with us yet. We keep forgetting that the first weekend in October is General Conference, so we have to hesitantly put the dates for the 8th of October, which seems a little ways away, but it gives us enough time to prepare sufficiently our investigators for baptism, which is important.

Last night we had a fantastic meeting with Elder Juan A. Uceda, of the Seventy in the Centenario Stake Center with all the missionaries in Guayaquil and Milagro. Elder Uceda, who is also the 1st Counselor in the Area Presidency, taught how we can better our study of the scriptures. One example that he gave was the "16 squares" example. It goes something like this: Draw a big 4x4 square, then draw straight lines in the square so that 16 squares appear. Just by looking at it once, you would assume that there are only 16 squares, but think again. Think of the squares you can make with the other squares. We all came to agree that you can see 30 squares. What Elder Uceda explained is that we have to search the scriptures, and not just read them. There are messages in and amongst the scriptures that we don't see only because we read and don't search. We studied D&C 4:2 for probably half an hour with the example he gave. It was a really profound teaching, something that made me want to search and not just read the scriptures. D&C 1:37 is a good reference for that!

I've not seen too many sights of Guayaquil, other than the Malecon 2000 and the Mall del Sur, but we'll try and see some other sights here in the coming weeks. I've not eaten anything out of the ordinary, today's lunch in the Mall's food court was Pizza Hut, something I've not had in quite some time! It was really good!

It is really crazy to think it's been 10 years since 9/11. Not many people made reference to it yesterday, and caught a glimpse of only one newspaper that made mention of it. It doesn't have the same meaning to people here as it does in the States. And yes, I think we'll have to visit Ground Zero when I get back.

Well, got to get going family, but that's my weekly update from Ecuador! More next week!

Love you all and tell everyone hi!

Elder Garrett Cederquist
Misión Ecuador Guayaquil Sur

Monday, September 5, 2011

5 Sep 2011

Hello family once again from sunny Guayaquil! Can you believe September is here?!?! Eight very quick months have passed by as if it were only a week! August was without a doubt the busiest month of my mission. It was a lot of building up our program, or the people we teach. Towards the end of the month we met some great people who sincerely wanted to follow the example of our Savior Jesus Christ and receive a remission of their sins through baptism by immersion! Last Saturday we helped Lucia Anchunduia do just that. Lucia is such an awesome person, with an amazingly strong testimony that can touch the heart of anyone! After being confirmed yesterday, she bore her testimony in Sacrament meeting, literally just minutes after becoming a member of the Church, but seeming as if she had been a member for years! Everyone who was in Sacrament was absolutely amazed by her testimony, as was I. It is evidence that the restored Gospel does give people answers to their prayers and fulfills their desires. The baptismal service was great, and I even was able to baptize her. Next week, her son Ariel will be baptized, something he is really excited to do and follow in the footsteps of his mom, and those of Christ!

We are still working the great Rodriguez family, preparing them for baptism as well later on this month. They still have some difficulties to overcome, but, as I testified to them yesterday, praying with faith and with a desire to overcome these problems, God will answer their prayers and give them that much-needed help. Please keep them in your prayers!

We are doing good here, continually finding more and people who are taking heed to our message, wanting to learn more and make progression and changes in their lives. Our branch is doing better as well, we had a Talent Show on Friday, which brought out double the amount of people who attend Sacrament meeting! Elder Badger and I sang, well, kind of sang, a popular Spanish song titled "Yo Te Extrañaré" by a group called Tercer Cielo. It was enjoyed by all, even some members sang with us!
So yes, there is a little improving to do with regards to attendance at Church and that of a talent show, but the members are happy, always willing to help us find those "who are not of this fold" (John 10:16), so our work is made just a little bit easier!

Another busy week is ahead of us! Last week we had a Zone Conference with President Montalti, with a main focus on having a positive attitude. Smiling, President said, "doesn't cost anything." Tomorrow we have another Zone Conference, but with all the zones in Guayaquil and Milagro; it should be a very note-taking-filled conference!

That's my report for this week! Take care and have fun!
Love you all!

The pictures I sent are of the baptism on Saturday, and one with me, Elder Badger and Brother Flores at Lucia's house.

(PS: I received the DearElder package last week, thanks! The cookies and candy are great! Still waiting for the other package, might be this next week I get it.)

Elder Garrett Cederquist
Misión Ecuador Guayaquil Sur

Monday, August 29, 2011

29 August 2011

Hello Family! Wow, this was really one of the best weeks in the mission by far and not just because I had my birthday! We managed to put a bunch of baptism dates with our investigators, and they all accepted! Elder Badger and I are super excited for the month of September, as our goal is to have 10 baptisms this month. Right now we have seven people who will be baptized, two of them this weekend! Lucia and Ariel are awesome people and they are really, really excited to be baptized and enjoy the Gospel more fully in their lives. We have another family, the Rodriguez's, who at first we weren't sure if they'd accept, but through a lot of praying and diligent work with them, they accepted baptismal dates for the 17th. Our other two dates we have aren't so sure as of right now, but we will be working very hard to secure them in the coming week!
This transfer has seen this sector really come alive. The last change we didn't have much success, just a lot of building up. Now we are getting the members excited about the work and they helped out a lot last week which I've noticed is a lot better than trying to do all the work on your own! This week will be a lot of the same, which is ok, because we'll have members ready and willing to help out!
Ok, so I'll share how my birthday went: REALLY GOOD! Saturday we had another huge pizza from the pizza place close to our house, really tasty! Sunday was great because the Branch has a tradition to have cake on the last Sunday of the month for the members who had birthdays in that month. It was neat to be included in that group! They even sang Happy Birthday/Feliz Cumpleaños to us! It turned out great!
This week will be another great one, mainly for the baptisms we'll be having, but being with the members and having their help will make things very smooth for us! It's awesome to see the blessings we get for working diligently!
I hope you all have a great week, and thanks to those who wrote me for my birthday! It was great to hear from you! And I'll have to get back to you next week about the packages, I've not received anything as of yet, but I'll let you know!
Take care everyone! I love you all!
Elder Garrett Cederquist
Misión Ecuador Guayaquil Sur

Monday, August 22, 2011

P-Day 22 August 2011 A New Companion

Hey family! Thanks for the great picture you sent me! I enjoyed it! This week is going to be a fun week, and this morning I received what you could call an early birthday present: A NEW COMPANION! Elder Reynoso was transferred to another sector in the center of Guayaquil today. My new companion, number seven (7) here in Ecuador for those who are keeping track, is Elder Badger, from Provo, UT! He is just about to complete a year on the mission and is a super missionary! When I was in Machala he was in my district, and I was his companion for one day when we were evacuated to Cuenca back in March, so you could say it was just a matter of time until we were companions for a longer period of time, and now we are! I feel we are going to have a lot of success in the month of September here in Las Esclusas. Elder Reynoso helped me build up the sector, and now we're going to be "harvesting the field" (D&C 4:4). It was definitely a time to just be patient and try and find those who are ready to listen to the Gospel in the last transfer, in this transfer it will be a time of baptizing! I thank my Heavenly Father every day and night for the people we're teaching, He has put these people in our path at this time, a sure good sign that they are ready to listen to the Gospel!
This past week was really good in the sector, we had five investigators in Sacrament meeting! Funny story: After bringing the first two to the Chapel on Sunday, Elder Reynoso and I literally sprinted out the door to get the other three investigators to make it on time! Having those people in Church gave us a big boost of confidence to know that they wanted to attend, yet another blessing!
This week I'm sure will be great as have been the other weeks here in the mission! Something I've learned, and maybe I've shared this a few times, is that every transfer has its fruits and is for the better! I can already see the upcoming six weeks passing by really quickly and with a lot of baptisms! I'm really excited to go out and get these people baptized! YEAH!
Another week will seem like a blur here in Guayaquil! I'm sure your week will too with school starting up again, and before we know, September starts! Have a great week! I will too! And I'm sure I'll hear plenty of "Feliz Cumpleaños" on Saturday! :)
Tell everyone I say hi!
Love you all!

Elder Garrett Cederquist
Misión Ecuador Guayaquil Sur

Thursday, August 18, 2011

15 August

Before I start... You guys are having way too much fun with those Kayaks! The photos you've sent me are awesome! Good to know that Kru can swim as well! Sounds like your week was pretty busy, and without fail, mine was too!

Alright, to use my journalist skills, last week's report starts as such: HOT! It was a very hot week here in the province of Guayas. I'd say we had temperatures of 90ºF (32ºC) just about every day. Sunscreen was my best friend! I think we'll see about the same in terms of weather this week as well.

We had a really slow week in teaching people, mostly because we were still searching for people to give our program a little bit more of a boost. We found some really cool families who are accepting of the message and the commitments we left with them (reading the Book of Mormon, praying about it, coming to church, being baptized, etc.). Unfortunately, as it stands now, I won't be having a birthday baptism... The family we visited and invited every day couldn't attend due to some things with their house. It was a little frustrating to have things fall through literally at the last second, but it's something I've seen time and time again, and I've learned to just keep going. Sure we'll keep visiting them, but it's of great importance that they attend with us this next Sunday. However, we could have a baptism this Saturday, as the cousin of a member has attended church several times and wants to be baptized. We've just got to make sure of a few things so that she is ready for Saturday. It's sure to be yet another wild week in Guayaquil!

We've not done anything too interesting for service, just helping out some members and investigators pull weeds (we've done this A LOT!) and clean up around their houses. They're always very grateful for the service, and for us it's gratifying to help out.

Yesterday was yet another match between Emelec and Barcelona, this time in the Capwell, home of Emelec. Guayaquil was basically a ghost town as everyone was watching the game, I don't know how we managed to get a couple lessons in during the game, it was luck! The game ended 1-1, Emelec tied things up very late in the 2nd half, I think I heard people saying in the 90th minute was when the equalizer was scored.

Well, glad to hear everything is going well! Keep up the good work Ky! It'll be a great season for the Lady Royals! Enjoy your week! I'll enjoy mine as well, because it'll go by fast! Can't believe school is just about to start again! Seems like it ended yesterday!

Love you all! Another Monday will be here before we know it!

Elder Garrett Cederquist
Misión Ecuador Guayaquil Sur

Monday, August 8, 2011

8 Aug 2011 Chinese in Ecuador

Hola Familia! Wow, thanks for the pictures from Bear Lake! Looks like you had an awesome time! It looks really nice up there! And Kayaks?!?! Awesome! Glad to hear RSL is still doing good as well!

Wow, yet another fast week has come and gone here in sunny Guayaquil! I know I mention something about how fast the time is going every week, and this past week was exactly the same! Staying relatively busy finding and teaching people!

So Fast Sunday turned out to be great! It was definitely needed, seeing as the past couple of week have been tough for us and our investigators. After church yesterday we managed to find a family of GOLD! They already knew a little bit about the church, which was really surprising and were really open to listen to the message. We have a lesson with them tonight as part of a Noche de Hogar (Family Home Evening) with the Reinel family. It should be pretty good! It was definitely a blessing to find them after a diligent fast. I definitely felt and still feel really happy that we could find them, because it's been tough to find people who really and truly are interested in the message. This could be the family that could be my birthday baptisms, stay tuned to see if that's the case!!!!

Also, we're having to put a big effort in helping the Branch out. Our Branch President, President Olivares, is having to run things on his own because his counselors are basically inactive, and the other Auxilaries, Primary, etc are having trouble keeping the leaders as well. So if you could, please pray for the Las Esclusas Branch and for our sector and investigators. This is going to be an interesting time, and we'll definitely need the Lord's help getting these people back attending church. Elder Reynoso and I would really appreciate it!!!

So we ate Chinese food today at a "Chifa" in our sector. It was really good, but it was a TON of food, so much that I had to take it back to the house to eat later on! That's what's in the photo I sent today!

Well family, that's about all that's going on this week in the mission. Since I've been in Ecuador, I've learned that there are so many things to do in such a short period of time! Every sector has been more and more busy every day of every week! The work can be tiring, but it is so worth it looking back and looking forward to what's to come!

Love you all family!
Take care!

Elder Garrett Cederquist
Misión Ecuador Guayaquil Sur

Monday, August 1, 2011

August Already!

Hello family from sunny Guayaquil on this first day of August!!! Can you believe that?!?! It seems just like last week I was writing about it being the first week of July, it's really incredible how fast the time flies by when you're having fun and staying busy! The last week we had was really busy, finding and teaching people, and trying to get them to commit to being baptized, attending church, all that good stuff we do as missionaries! In this sector it's a little bit tougher to get them to commit to those kind of things, but I know with work and a lot of prayer, we can help them out and better their lives.
Yesterday was rather interesting, Elder Reynoso was feeling pretty sick, so after calling President and Sister Montalti, and the Nurses, Sister Mairena and Sister Salmon, it was off to the Kennedy Clinic in the center of Guayaquil to have a look at what might be the problem. Luckily for us, Dr. Villacis, who is a member of the Church, was waiting for us to do the check-ups and all the good stuff that we know all too well thanks to me! They took some blood and Dr./Brother Villacis wrote out a prescription, and actually right now we're waiting for the results, so I've got to be quick! It shouldn't be anything too bad because Elder Reynoso has been feeling better today, so that's good news!
We're strengthening our really strong relationship with the members, so we're planning on having some activities in the near future to boost up the missionary work here. Our branch is multi-cultural it seems, we have members from Colombia, Spain, and Peru who attend our ward, so it makes for a good time when we can talk to them about what it's like in those countries. One of the missionaries in my district, Elder Ochoa, who will finish his mission this month, is from Colombia, and we were talking the other night while Elder Reynoso was interviewing an investigator for baptism, and we managed to arrive at the subject of Formula 1 and Juan Pablo Montoya, who is in NASCAR now, but was F1 a few years back. I think he was a little surprised to hear that I knew about him and followed those two sports! I've also talked to the member from Colombia about Montoya, he was even more surprised to hear me talk about him! It made for a good time!
The activities we're going to try and have should be pretty fun, showing the movie "The Testaments" and having Karaoke and other fun activities we think will help us gain more referrals from the members, something all missionaries need, because it's pretty tough to find every single person on your own! "Every Member a Missionary," the famous words of President David O. McKay.
Here's something I liked: President Gordon B. Hinckley said: “My brethren and sisters, we can let the missionaries try to do it alone, or we can help them. If they do it alone, they will knock on doors day after day and the harvest will be meager. Or as members we can assist them in finding and teaching investigators” (“Find the Lambs, Feed the Sheep,” Ensign, May 1999, 107).
Well, other than that, not much else is going on, just keeping up the work and staying busy, the best and only thing to do while on the mission! And as I said in the beginning, it makes the time fly by!
Sounds like it was a great time a Bear Lake! Send pictures next week, as will I!
Love you all! Enjoy the week! Good luck Ky with soccer try-outs!

Elder Garrett Cederquist
Misión Ecuador Guayaquil Sur

Monday, July 25, 2011

25 July 2011

Hello family once again! Another week has quickly come and gone, and it sure went by really fast! I feel like I haven't seen much of this month as it has gone by super fast! I have now been in Guayaquil for a month now! 
This last week we had a another "free" baptism! The granddaughter of a very active family (the Reinel family), who was actually baptized at age 8 had to be baptized once again, because after her first baptism, the ward secretary in Esmeraldas (northern Ecuador) didn't put in the information in the Church member system (MLS), and it's likely those papers are long gone, so a rebaptism was needed. So Saturday I was able to baptize Nahomi, once again, and I even got to do the confirmation on Sunday in Sacrament meeting. It was really a great experience! This week we could have two baptisms, but there is some work to be done for them, but we're going to throw everything we can at them to save them. Also, we've been putting baptismal dates with people for August, so we're hoping to have a lot in August, especially for the 27th! :)) I'll have to come up with a creative way to put a baptismal date with someone for the 27th, hahaha!
This last weekend, and even today is a little bit slow, because the ENTIRE city of Guayaquil is celebrating the birthday of the city, which happens to be the 25th of July, today. A lot of places are closed for this feriado (holiday) so we were lucky in finding a Cyber to write.
Let's see, some interesting things that have been going on here in Ecuador: President Rafael Correa wants the El Universo newspaper to pay him $80 million for things the paper has criticized him on. The judge in the case says El Universo should only have to pay $40 million, but Correa is being very insistant in getting $80 million out of the paper. From what I've heard, the US State Department is keeping a close eye on this. Also, Uruguay won the Copa America this year, after beating Paraguay in the final. Earlier in the week, Uruguay pulled off a huge upset in beating Argentina in PK's.
Glad to hear RSL is still playing great! How are they doing in the standings? And yes, I'm jealous that you're going to Bear Lake! Take photos and send them to me! How is the weather back home?
Oh yeah, tell Jakob Johnson I say hi! I thought he wasn't due to come home until September! From what you told me it sounds like he had a great time!
I had a brief interview with President Montalti last Wednesday and he says to send his regards to you all!
I also received a letter from Alex Petersen, Ky probably remembers him. He is in the MTC until August 16 and then is off to the Phillipines. I don't know whether to write him at the MTC address or the mission address, but I think I'll just send it to his mission home, but who knows how much that will cost! Hopefully not much, but then again, it is traveling across the majority of the Pacific Ocean!!!
Well family, all remains well here in Guayaquil, another fast, but busy week is here, and I'm sure it'll be Monday again before any of us know it!
Love you all, have a great trip to Bear Lake!

Elder Garrett Cederquist
Misión Ecuador Guayaquil Sur

Monday, July 18, 2011

18 July 2011 Guayaquil

Hi family! Sorry today's letter is a little late, Elder Reynoso and I went to the Malecon 2000 here in the center of Guayaquil today to see some of the sights there. It was really cool and I managed to get some great pictures! There is a lighthouse in which you can walk up 444 stairs (and even more to get to the top of the lighthouse) to have a fantastic panoramic view of all of Guayaquil! It really was amazing, but really tiring! You can probably find it by searching "Faro de Guayaquil," or Guayaquil Lighthouse". There are some other places by the Malecon which are really cool, but we didn't have time to go to them, mainly because the walk from the beginning of the Malecon to the Faro is easily over a mile! Without a doubt the funnest P-Day as of yet here in the mission!

Glad to here all is going well, Ky I hope you've recovered after a hectic last week! It made me tired reading the description you gave me of all you did! And no, I don't know anyone by the name of Rene Paul Garzon Cruz, so you can deny the request. I'm glad your talks went well! I haven't given a talk since April when I was in Puerto Bolivar, Machala. How the time has flown by since then! All is going well here as well, although it's a little slow in teaching people, because after the last transfer our sector was what we call dead, nobody in the program, so this last week we went contacting like crazy, and now we have people to teach, so things are back to normal! We managed to have 5 investigators in Sacrament meeting yesterday, which is pretty good for our sector, but I think we can bring even more next week, so we'll be working really hard to make sure that that happens!

It was kind of slow-going the past week, so there's not a whole ton to write about, apart from the Lighthouse and Malecon, haha! But there are pictures to see this week of the Malecon, lighthouse, me putting a baptismal date with Ronald McDonald, our last baptism on 2 July and what you get for having a baptism (SNICKERS!!!) I'll be sure to send some more pictures next week too!

Oh, and Ecuador was eliminated from Copa America last week by losing 4-2 to Brazil. So everyone is bummed here. :)

Well, gotta hurry and get back to the house so we can get our stuff and go out for a little bit tonight!

Take care, have a great week! Tell everyone I say hi!

Love you all!

Elder Garrett Cederquist
Misión Ecuador Guayaquil Sur

Monday, July 11, 2011

11 July 2011 from Guayaquil

Hello family! Sounds like you have had and are having yet another busy week, as am I!

As has been the theme lately, MORE TRANSFERS!!! But this time it wasn't me, but Elder Blau, who just simply changed sectors in the zone. My new companion, and if you've kept track, my 6th in the mission field, is Elder Reynoso, from Guatemala City, Guatemala, who has 1 year and 1 month on the mission. I'm not sure whether I'm in Ecuador or Guatemala, as Elder Reynoso is my third Guatemalan companion in my time here. :) If you remember, I had Elder Donoso as a companion in Machala, so it was funny when I found out that Elder Reynoso would be my next companion here in Las Esclusas. So I might only have two weeks in this sector, so sometimes I feel lost, but I think I'll be able to get around easily enough, as our sector isn't too big and the chapel, along with the members, are usually close by. This past week went by very fast, I really can't believe I'm writing again, as it only feels like yesterday that I was writing you telling you about everything that's going on!

No baptisms this past week, but we are very optimistic about this week, as one of our investigators, Alexander, who said last week he didn't want to be baptized yet, told us yesterday that he feels it's the best thing to do, and wants to do it as soon as possible. That gave me a boost of happiness as Saturday and Sunday were kind of slow, again due to soccer, Ecuador played Venezuela in the Copa America and lost 1-0 and Sunday was the Guayaquil derby between Emelec and Barcelona, in which I think Barcelona won. Oh, and we did happen to see the amazing header goal by Abby Wambach and the penalty kicks between the US Women's team and Brazil. Crazy how quickly the game turned around in just a few minutes!

Well, not much else too exciting is going on, and all is going well here in Guayaquil. I think next week we're going to go to a really popular Iguana park in the center of G'quil, and there's a cool place called Malecon 2000 in which we can also go. There's more to do here than in Machala, so I'll have to take advantage of what's here while I'm here.

To answer the question Mom posed about shoes, mine are holding up fine. I think the only problem I'm having is keeping them clean! I brush them off everyday and polish them from time to time, but walking on dirt roads and all puts in vain the effort! But hey, if the shoes are clean for a little bit, I say it's worth it to make them look as nice as possible!

Would it be possible for you to send me some Church songs, like some Hymns and other inspirational songs, in which I can put on my other SD card that I have and listen to in the mornings? That would be awesome if you could!

Well, got to get going now, I love you all and hope your week goes well!

Talk to you next week!

Elder G!!!

Elder Garrett Cederquist
Misión Ecuador Guayaquil Sur

Monday, July 4, 2011

4 July 2011 Guayaquil, Las Esclusas

Hello family from Guayaquil on this 4th of July! It's pretty different as it's just another day here and not a huge holiday like it is back home. I'll admit it feels a little strange being outside of the country and wanting to celebrate. But at least it's only one day and not an entire week, as some of the things are here in Ecuador. And we've bought food and drinks to have somewhat of a celebration later on.

This week we had the two baptisms of Roberto and Daniel, both really great and excited to be new members of the Church. We probably won't have any baptisms this weekend, but we're looking at the 16th as a good opportunity to have several more baptisms. July should be very good as there are five weeks and plenty of people to find and teach here in this sector!

So where I'm serving, Las Esclusas, is a Branch. That also is a little different as I haven't been in a Branch since we lived in New Mexico! But whether it's a Ward or Branch, the members are great either way and I'm excited to be working with them. Are you surprised I'm not writing about getting transferred yet again? :) Transfers come really quick, so June was pretty crazy as I felt like I was moving around every two weeks (oh wait, I was moving around every two weeks!) ;). But for now things have settled down, until likely next week where this transfer ends and we could see some more transfers. We're thinking that not many changes will be made as a lot were made in June.

Oh one thing... The Church is discouraging the use of blogs, so we've been told not to use them out of respect for privacy and safety and all. So I suppose you could post this as a notice to those who are following the blog. The easiest thing would be for those people to email or write me, as I can get back to them. I'll still send photos, but they can't be published on the blog. Unfortunate to see that happen, but the Church is about the well-being of everyone, so that's just how it goes. And missionaries are saying bad stuff about the mission, so that's a factor as well.

The Copa America soccer tournament is underway here in South America (Argentina this year), so yesterday was terrible in trying to find people because Ecuador was playing Paraguay, which ended in a 0-0 tie.

Colorado, huh? And the Greeley Stampede?!?! I am jealous! I'm glad to hear Nana and Papa are doing well and that you all had a great time there! I want to see some photos! Take some pics at the RSL game too! I'll send pics next week as this computer today didn't have an SD card slot.

Having 4 Americans in the house is great! More English is spoken in the house, but we do speak Spanish often as well! No interesting foods, but there is really good pizza place just down the street from our house that makes a HUGE family size pizza for $10! It's a really good deal!

Well, take care everyone and enjoy the day and the rest of the week! I'm sure it'll go by fast, just as every week has! Can you believe I've been out for 6 months already?!?! Crazy! The time goes by very, very fast! Tomorrow we will have a District Meeting with President Montalti, which should be a really good time.

Love you all!

Elder Garrett Cederquist
Misión Ecuador Guayaquil Sur

Monday, June 27, 2011

27 June 2011 Transferred Again, I'm In Guayaquil--Las Esclusas

Hello family! This week has been absolutely crazy and fast! I'm not sure exactly sure where to start the story, so I'll recap last week. As you know, I was transferred from Puerto Bolivar to La Aurora about 2 weeks ago, last Saturday (25 June) we had the three baptisms I said we would have, and Sunday (yesterday) we had three confirmations, which is the important part! But that's where the story changes. After we had our daily planning session yesterday and were about to eat something before bed, the Assistants called informing us of yet another transfer! And guess what, I was transferred yet again!!!! I'm now in Guayaquil, in a sector called Las Esclusas, in the Guasmo Sur Zone. So today has been full of traveling and moving into yet another house! This transfer, which started 30 May and goes until 10 July, has seen me in three sectors! I'm now on my 5th companion in about 4 months of being in Ecuador. My new  companion is Elder Blau, from Kailua, Hawaii. He has a year and eight months on the mission, same as Elder Donoso, my last companion. I'm still living with the Zone Leaders, the way it's been since I got to Ecuador, which I don't mind, since we're all from the United States this time around. I was sad to leave La Aurora and Machala, because I felt as if I was starting to know a lot about the city and the people. But hey, you know me, I like to travel, so being in another city will be fun!
This week we will have two baptisms, so it's kind of a freebie for me, but that's ok! I don't know too much about the sector or Guayaquil really as of right now, so the next few weeks should be full of information, always a good thing!
So I didn't get too many good pictures of sector La Aurora, mainly due to the fact I was only there two weeks, but the pictures I have sent are of the three baptisms we had on Saturday. Image 360 is of Manuel Coronel and his family, Image 356 is of Antony and Ivan Loor (and their little brother Jhoel, who wanted a photo too! They will all be great members of the Church and are excited to progress.
Sounds like everything is going well back home, something that always makes me smile.
Well, not much more to say other than I Love You and have a great week, I'm sure I will have a great week as well getting to know this new sector and the people here!
Love you all!

Elder Garrett Cederquist
Misión Ecuador Guayaquil Sur

Monday, June 20, 2011

20 June 2011--I've Been Transferred!

Hello once again family! Glad to hear all is going well back home, and thank you Dad for sending me that article, I really enjoyed it and will print it out to read often. So Boston stole the Stanley Cup from Vancouver in Vancouver?! Ouch! Crazy stuff!
Want to know something else that's crazy? I WAS TRANSFERRED!!! Last Tuesday morning, I was getting ready for another normal day when the Assistants called saying there were "Emergency Transfers." Don't let the word emergency scare you, everything is fine where I'm at, although I will admit I'm still somewhat scratching my head on why I was transferred. But the sector I'm in now, called La Aurora, still in Machala, is really great! My companion, Elder Donoso, is from Guayaquil, Ecuador and has about 4 months left in the mission. He is super funny, a great worker, and I am very excited to be working with him in what is really a great sector. The members here are incredibly friendly and are always willing to accompany us for visits with our investigators. Our sector is much more humble than Puerto Bolivar, hardly anyone has parties here as opposed to the loud music and screaming we heard almost every night in Puerto Bolivar, so I'm sleeping a lot better at nights! :)
This past week we didn't have any baptisms, but three other wards had a combined total of eight baptisms, which was really awesome to see! This week we have three baptisms planned for Saturday night, and they are just about 100% sure, all we have to do is finish teaching them some of the commandments and such. This should be a very fun week getting everything planned, but as I said, the members are here for us and will be helping us every step of the way. The bishop of this ward, Emerson Romero, is a super funny guy, and really young for a Bishop, in his 30's. We ate lunch with him and his family Saturday afternoon and had a really nice time. It was nice to get to know him and a lot of the members quickly and gain their confidence, which will be a great help in the weeks to come in this sector.
I didn't get too many photos this week, as I was kind of busy moving, but there are some awesome areas of our sector that I will get some photos of this week and send them to you next week, and if all goes well with the baptisms, which I think it will, you'll get photos of those as well. Oh and another cool fact about my sector, we attend church in the Machala Stake Center! Our Sacrament meeting starts at 9:00 am, so it's pretty different getting up on Sundays and having basically having to rush out the door to make it there on time! The air conditioning there makes things really comfortable, so we're not all dying of heat, so that's always a nice bonus we have!
Well, other than that, not too much happened this past week, but this week will be one of the best in my mission, something I'm really grateful for! I'll have a more lengthy entry next week with pictures as well!
I love you all, and I hope you all have a great week! Tell everyone hi!

Elder Garrett Cederquist
Misión Ecuador Guayaquil Sur

Monday, June 13, 2011

13 June 2011 We Had A Baptism!

Hello family from what is this week a sunny Machala, Ecuador!

Well, I won't keep you waiting for the good news: WE HAD A BAPTISM!!! On Saturday I had the great opportunity to baptize Moises Torres into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints! It was an incredible experience to be able to do something so important and so significant for the first time! I wrote in my journal on Saturday that "I had never saved anyone from danger before, but perhaps today I did." Why I say danger? Well, Moises is 81 years old, and he has told us he thinks he will be entering the rest of the Lord very soon, so he was very thankful to be baptized (and confirmed on Sunday). It was a very special day, and very relieving as well, as I had worked and waited for three months to see this happen.

This next week (18 June) we are hoping to see yet another baptism, but as I've said in weeks past, it's not 100% sure as of yet either. If not this week, then it will likely happen on the 25th, where we could see possibly two more baptisms on that date! Good things are starting to happen in Puerto Bolivar, perhaps I arrived in a "down" time so to speak back in March. I know for sure that we're teaching by the Spirit, the ONLY in which we should be teaching (D&C 42:14), and for that, we're seeing success. President Montalti was absolutely correct when he said June will be the best month of my mission. Granted, yes it's only one baptism I have as of right now, but it's a fruit of my labor, and it is very sweet! D&C 18:15-16 keeps me going. It says: 15 And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one asoul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!  16 And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the akingdom of my Father, how great will be your bjoy if you should bring many csouls unto me! In terms of progression, I'm on verse 15 right now, I'm hoping to be on verse 16 on the next few weeks. It doesn't specify how many "many" is, so I'm taking it as two or more baptisms could be considered "many". How exciting the times are here in Ecuador, spreading the Gospel and changing the lives of people for the better!

If you can't tell, I'm super excited and have even more of a boost to keep working, sharing this message with as many people possible! Sure, not all of them will accept, but maybe in the future they will. And there's always those who are ready to listen, who have been prepared, so to speak. It's all about finding them, which I have learned is definitely a patience tester, but certainly worth it.

I'm glad to hear you're all adjusting well to yet another change with Chiaki returning to Japan. I hope you can keep in touch with her. I remember the letter she wrote me the day I left, saying that two years is a really long time to be gone! Not really, the time is going by quick! Always a plus!

Well, better get going and finish what I need to do for this week!

Take care and know that you're in my prayers every single day!

Love you all!
Elder Garrett Cederquist
Misión Ecuador Guayaquil Sur

Monday, June 6, 2011

6 June 2011 No Transfer - Still in Machala

Hello family from a muggy and rainy Machala, Ecuador! And can you believe it's already June?!?! It's been raining off and on all day today, but that's fine by me because it's hiding the sun, which is always hot here! I'm still here in Puerto Bolivar after the transfers, something I wasn't sure whether to be happy or sad about at first. But I am very happy that I'm still here because we will be having baptism on Saturday!!! The elderly man I told you about two weeks ago has attended church the needed two times in order to be baptized. Moises kindly accepted our visits and the lessons, although he does still manage to get off track and try and share his life story with us. But he said he wants to be baptized, so we're going forth with his baptism this Saturday at 10:30 am! I am very excited right now because I know he won't back out on us, as he's told us in the past, "I am a man, not a liar." That's always a good principle to live by I suppose.
This past week was pretty busy, and this week will be even busier with getting the baptism ready for Moises. The Puerto Bolivar Ward hasn't had a baptism since the middle of February, so the members are really excited to be seeing a baptism, as am I!!! And we're going for two more baptisms on the 18th of this month. They're not 100% sure as of yet, but I think they will be at the end of this week. The important thing is to help them gain a testimony. Most of the people that we have taught have gained a testimony and know it's true, they just haven't done what's really necessary, and that's attending church. It's frustrating sometimes, yes, but it's nothing to get down about, because as it says in our manual "Preach My Gospel" ("Predicad Mi Evangelio" en español) that we've sounded the voice and given them a clear choice, and when they don't follow through, well, we did all we could on our part. So we'll keep working, knowing there's a light at the end of the tunnel and that people, with time, will accept. Perhaps with other missionaries they will, not just now, and I have heard plenty of stories of that happening (especially one close to home!)
One part of the scriptures I have found VERY helpful this week is found in Doctrine & Covenants Section 31. I encourage you to read it and put my name in place of the man in which it is talking, Thomas B. Marsh. I did this, and it helped me remember my purpose, and that this really is a short time to be here! Definitely a spiritual booster!
Hamburgers with the Elders, eh? :) They must be new to the area, because when I left Elder Larrabee (California) and Elder San Ramon (Phillipines) were the Stake Missionaries. I think Elder Larrabee has finished or will finish his mission this month! I'm sure you told Elder Olsen and Elder M (as Ky said) about me. Haha! Will you be feeding them again any time soon or not? I imagine since they're stake missionaries that they have plenty of options to eat every day!
One picture I have attached today is in front of a park near our house. I'm standing in front of a GIANT mechanical crab! I call it "Crab Park", but the name is just simply "Theme Park." Crab Park sounds cooler, so I'll keep calling it that with Señor Cangrejo (Mister Crab) in the background!
I'm glad you all had a great week, and that the weather is improving, about time! Enjoy it! 
Talk to you next week!

Love you all!
Elder Garrett Cederquist
Misión Ecuador Guayaquil Sur

Monday, May 30, 2011

30 May 2011 Machala

Hello family! How is everyone? Wet it sounds like with all the rain and snow you've had lately! We had a little bit of rain this morning here in Machala, but it was more during the night than anything.

We had another good week, but our baptism fell through once again, so we've had to tell our investigator, Omar, that he HAS to attend church this Sunday in order to be baptized. He has told us many times over that he wants to be baptized, he knows the importance of baptism, and it is his desire, so we can only hope he'll attend with us this upcoming Sunday. We've also found some more investigators who are interested in the message, so we'll see how they progress over the coming week.

Transfers were to be last night, but they've been postponed until, well, we don't know, perhaps tonight or sometime during this week because last night the Assistants were calling everyone to gather their goals for June, in which President Montalti says will be the best month of our mission, and the best month for the entire mission. So I'm still in Puerto Bolivar for the time being, which is alright, because the members here are great and I know my way around! 

Last Wednesday we had a great meeting with Elder Walter F. Gonzales, of the Presidency of the Seventy, in Guayaquil, with the Guayaquil North mission. A lot of it was centered on the Atonement of Christ, which is key for us in teaching our investigators. It was good to learn and have, in essence, a refresher course on that in order to be able to teach it with more clarity. And really, it was just nice to take a little bit of a break and listen to some good counsel and advice.

Our trip to and from Guayaquil was interesting, also... On our way to Guayaquil, our bus, just a normal city bus owned by the city of Machala, blew a tire almost in the middle of nowhere. Luckily we made it to a place that could repair our tire, and within a half hour we were on our way once again. The meeting was to start at 5 pm, but didn't until 5:30, which we thought, "Well, ok, no problem." We left Guayaquil at around 8 pm, and didn't make it back to Machala until 12:15 am because the bus was kind of slow and the driver stopped a few times, who knows for what, perhaps a bathroom break! Waking up at 6:30 was no fun that day, I can tell you that! 

Apart from that, things are going good here, I'm sorry I don't have any pictures this week, it was a little busy with traveling and all! But I hope to get some pictures and send them to you next week!
Bummer about RSL's streak! Well, all good things come to an end as they say. 
And I'm glad to hear all went well with Keaton's surgery!

I love you all and hope you're enjoying things back home, even if the weather is still gloomy! Things are going fine here! Tell everyone I say hi!

Talk to you next week!
Elder Garrett Cederquist
Misión Ecuador Guayaquil Sur

Monday, May 23, 2011

23 May 2011 Machala, Ecuador

Hello dear family! Another week has come and gone quickly yet again! And maybe, just maybe the pictures will send...
This week was pretty good. We were able to teach our progressing investigators, Omar and Wilmer, this week, and we managed to find other people here who we think can progress quickly. Sadly, Omar can't be baptized this Saturday because he couldn't come to church on Sunday, which means he needs to attend with us this Sunday so that he can be baptized on 4 June. Wilmer, on the other hand, can be baptized, it's just a matter of him accepting a baptismal date, something he's not 100% on right now, but he's getting there. We feel confident that in the next few days he will accept a date, and we will be helping him to the best of our abilities.
As I mentioned, we have found some more people who seem interested. One of these people we found, Moises, lives about a block from our church here in Puerto Bolivar. When we contacted Moises, somewhere in his 80's we think, he began to rattle off basically his life story to us, and it went all crazy from there. He was telling us how "when I was in my youth in 1930 something I could speak to the animals." He then began to "speak" this language, and all we could do was nod our heads and try to see if we could teach him something brief in his house. Well, after HALF AN HOUR, we managed to get in to his house and start teaching, but he continued his everywhere and anywhere stories. So we only taught a brief portion of The Gospel of Jesus Christ, but he said he wants to be baptized, so we'll see where that one goes. I also got the *great* chance to talk to a drunk guy Sunday afternoon (22 May). He wanted to know how he could change his life, so we explained to him how that's possible, but in the state he was in, there was no way he was going to remember. Hopefully we can find him again and help him get out of a tough part of his life.
On Sunday we had Stake Conference here in Machala, it was a really good turnout with some great spiritual messages as well. The Stake Center in Machala is also one of the few buildings that has air conditioning in it, so whenever there is a meeting there, I always seem to smile for some odd reason or another... :)
On Wednesday we will be traveling to Guayaquil to have a conference with Elder Walter F. Gonzales, of the Presidency of the Seventy. This meeting was originally supposed to be with Elder Richard G. Scott, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, but due to scheduling conflicts, he won't be able to make it. So this week is shaping up to be a busy one, with traveling, teaching, and TRANSFERS next Monday! I'll let you know then if I'm anywhere new! I have a slight feeling I could be moving, but who knows?
Well, not much else is going on around here, nice and calm as it should be!
I love you all and I'm looking forward to writing you all again next week!
Take care! (And yes I'm jealous you're all going camping!) Have fun!
Elder Garrett Cederquist
Misión Ecuador Guayaquil Sur

Monday, May 16, 2011

16 May 2011 Update from Machala

Hello again family!

I am happy to hear that another week has gone by quickly! Another week has passed by quickly here as well! And yes, I am using a computer where I can send photos! Finally!

Let's see, this week was pretty good in terms of the work. We managed to find some new investigators and have been teaching them some commandments and some of the lessons in detail. For some reason or another, the people we are finding now are more interested than the people in the past, something I'm grateful for! We have two investigators, Omar and Wilmer, who are progressing quickly towards baptism, always a happy time for a missionary! We're aiming for 28 May as their baptismal date. The 30th is when we have transfers, so we're hoping to get the baptisms in before that time! You could say the final week of this transfer is crunch time!

My new companion, Elder Choc, is a really good missionary! I think I mentioned this last week, but he has only 3 months left on the mission, so he's really working hard to finish strong. Before the mission, he didn't speak very much Spanish, because he's from a part in Guatemala where it's a native dialect. But he picked up Spanish really quickly and speaks very well. He spent 18 months of his mission in Guayaquil! That is a long time in one city! But there are a lot of sectors in Guayaquil, so he moved around from time to time. He says he is enjoying Machala because it is cooler in terms of temperature than in Guayaquil. Speaking of Guatemala, Andy Smith emailed me saying he received his mission call and will be serving in the Guatemala Retalhuleu Mission. He leaves 21 September for the Provo MTC! He said he is really excited! I am also excited for him, and for Danny and Ben, who will be leaving in the next few weeks as well!

I have attached quite a few pictures, I hope they all get to you! They are of the Temple in Guayaquil, some height disparity (you'll understand why I say that when you see the picture) even a FIRE close to our house! When the Zone Leaders yelled "INCENDIO!" my journalist skills jumped into action, I went right for my camera. and got some photos. Also included are some photos of where we are living and some of my mad cooking skills. We had lunch with our district today and made hamburgers, which were excellent, mostly because I cooked them! Hehehe!

Something exciting coming up here rather quickly is the visit of Elder Richard G. Scott, of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles! He will be speaking exclusively to the missionaries of the Guayaquil North and Guayaquil South missions on the 25th of this month in Guayaquil. So that will be a very exciting time to hear an Apostle of the Lord give us some words of advice!

Enjoy your week! And again, I hope the pictures get to you! Thanks for the pictures of the banner for Javier Morales and of the robins by the house! Your camera is very good, Dad!

I love you all! Take care! More pictures next week as well!
Elder Garrett Cederquist
Misión Ecuador Guayaquil Sur

(NOTE: No pictures were attached to Garrett's e-mail)