|Esmeraldas from a nearby mountain|
Welcome everyone to December and welcome to the 15th week of my mission! I sincerely hope that Thanksgiving offered you all some time of gratitude and reflection on the passing 2016. So that I don’t risk filling another letter with my tangent-ridden emotions, I’ll just share the sentiment that it was a great year for me and that I have boundless reasons to be thankful during this season. I’m thankful for my family, friends across borders, my ever-changing life, and all of the experiences that I’ve ever had that make me, me.
In this letter I’d like to take a break from the narratives and share a little bit of an update and mental check up. There is so much going on here in Ecuador and events constantly revolving around me. In fact, I am writing you all after just finishing an afternoon meeting with President Murphy about our Christmas initiatives. The meeting forced us to miss our lunch appointment so we went to the nearby panaderia, the only food we oculd find. So basically I’m running on 2 pieces of cheese bread, Polaca (oatmeal) and a slice of coconut cake (not a complaint) so my stomach is basically just dough (a complaint). In the meeting we talked about the lots of upcoming activities that await us in the coming weeks. One of them is that we get to travel to Quito again on Wednesday to listen to a training from a leader of the church. (I’ll write more about that next week.) We also talked a little bit about the upcoming Christmas holiday. The highlight will undoubtedly be the Skype call that I will have with my family on either the 24th or the 26th.
In other news I have been staying much happier and even though I couldn’t have a reason as to why I’m finding solace in that fact. It could just be that I know I’ve got lots to look forward to. Also I think that it’s because I have been doing better in my learning of the Spanish language and podria escribirles en espanol si quieren. But I’m not sure how much you all would understand and writing in English is much faster. There is definite power in feeling accustomed to things that at once made me really miserable. I’ve gained a certain new confidence in myself and in my personal mental strength. Trust me, I’m not saying that it’s all daisies and lollipops out here. The challenges definitely are still present, I’m just getting a little better at coping. It’s like a great big staircase of emotions that I am on. When I departed home and realized how much I was truly leaving I got knocked down a few steps. Eventually I got my strength and started climbing back up the staircase. Right about this time the giant hand of life reappeared and smacked me down again a little further with a different challenge, say the isolation of not speaking the language of my companion. But, like before, I got up and went to work climbing toward the place I once stood. This cycle has continued for the past little while, taking me progressively deeper and further along. However, I never gave up and I’m stronger now in my climbing muscles because of it. And I really feel like I’ve stopped taking on so much red and I’m into the black at this point. Soon I hope to be able to say that I’m just as happy as I was before I left and this is only the beginning. With all those new climbing muscles, I’ll be able to reach higher than ever before and venture into new joy that I didn’t even know existed. I really can’t wait.
Overall it was a pretty good week. They’re building a new bakery in my area, I had more divisions with another missionary (Elder Canete) and there’s a new gringo from Seattle that’s fitting right into my group. Divisions are where two companionships switch for a day and try and learn from one another. Elder Canete is a very experienced missionary from Argentina and we got to work a really cool part of the Tolita area called La Lucha de Los Pobres. It was 100% Nat Geo with banana trees, dirt roads, and two boys in white shirts and ties. Where was my camera?
In Aire Libre (my area) the Christmas decorations are in full swing and even though we don’t have any lights hanging outside of our apartment there were some inside this week…in the microwave. Elder Fernandez found out why you can’t nuke metal objects. Don’t worry, no fires. We have these composite metal type cups and silverware that usually doesn’t have any effect with the microwaves (much to my surprise the first week I was here) but I guess one of the spoons is real metal and he found that out real quick.
Anyway, sorry this is so scatters. I don’t have any time to rewrite. I was busy in the mornigns and nights this week. To leave you all with something positive, don’t be discouraged if you too are stuck on an emotional escalator. Keep getting up, keep climbing, and never ever forget the new muscles and strengths you are gaining. I am becoming a person that firmly believes that everything happens for a reason. Find your reasons. Have a great week. I miss you all dearly.
As usual, additional tidbits from other letters home:
- KFC is a little different here. The chicken is the same but they don’t have mashed potatoes or bisquits. They offer French fries, rice, lentils and cole slaw.
- The plumbing is terrible so you can’t flush toilet paper. So there’s a little trash can next to all the toilets and the toilet paper is scented. (Please pass this info along to Nathan – he can probably use it for a “Would You Rather…”)
- He didn't explain why but simply wrote: Pony Malta
- Lisa asked Adam what things he misses and what he thinks the missionaries in our area would appreciate as a “treat”. Adam replied “compile them a list of lesser-known fun things they can do in their area on P-day”. I kind of liked that suggestion and we’re working on it.
- They showed a video to a family and their DVD player remote was broken so they had to watch the video in English. Adam acted as translator and his confidence with the language was really boosted by the experience.
- Adam requested recipes this week for condensed milk chocolate sauce, kettle corn, and a recommendation of a meal to cook on Christmas…they have to be back to their apartment early Christmas night and he’d like to make a traditional US Christmas dinner for his Bolivian-born companion.
- He complained about his severe and still developing farmer’s tan.
- He joked that the music played everywhere in Esmeraldas sounds like the soundtrack to the movie “Nacho Libre.” He then asked someone to keep a list of the better movies and new music that comes out so he can catch up when he gets home. (He’s still my kid :))
|Check out the receipt - $3.98 for meal PLUS additional sandwich.|
|The local mall - I assume the Centro Commercial Multiplaza|
|The local (abandoned?) lighthouse (El Faro de Sua)|