Garrett in front of the Guayaquil Temple

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