Garrett in front of the Guayaquil Temple

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