Garrett in front of the Guayaquil Temple

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