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