Dearest friends and family,
It’s sad that I had to go to Ecuador to figure this out, but we kids from California really are the best. I really should have known way before, as if it wasn’t obvious, but now I’m certain of it. We received a new missionary in the district this week from California’s Central Valley, Elder Vega, and he is quickly becoming a great friend. I knew we were going to get along well from the moment we met last Monday when I saw his Volcom t-shirt and Nike Janoski shoes, particularly my uniform back home. There was just an air about him. Upon seeing us greet one another, some sister missionaries from other parts of the US made fun of us saying: “Look, it’s so obvious Elders Ericksen and Vega are from Cali.” I quickly made the joke that was begging to be made that it was obvious they weren’t from California because no one from California would ever say “Cali” like that. I’m funny. J
Now that I’m thinking about it, I really enjoyed P-day this last Monday. I got to spend time with other missionaries, we played an epic game of dodgeball, and we ate something pretty good food. The rhythm of the week continued at this same, smooth pace and I’m really glad for that. On Tuesday we had the privilege and blessing of seeing 2 of our favorite investigators get married at the Registro Civil office. It stuck out to me how it’s very intense in the moment when the judge says: “Are you here by your own free will and do you want to get married to this person?” (Rough paraphrasing). What I took away from that moment is that you’ve really got to have a good morning on the day of your wedding, eat a good breakfast, and be in a good mood because, wow, everything could get ruined quickly if one of the pair shows up and says “you know what, I actually don’t want to get married. This fool didn’t even wash his cereal bowl this morning.” Luckily nothing like that occurred on Tuesday and Luis and Soledad's ceremony was great.
On Wednesday, Elder Vega came to my area in Cayambe for an interchange. We ate a quick lunch with some members that live a little outside of town, shared a brief message with them, and then went out to work. We accomplished a lot, feeding off one other’s work ethic and his fresh-from-the-MTC newbie attitude. We found a woman in our path who shared a cool story with us about her journey from New York to Ecuador. I doubted at first the validity of her story because she didn’t remember much English. But all doubts were resolved when she offered us a drink…with ice! It was interesting how we all looked at each other in a moment of mutual understanding over something as small as a couple of cubes of ice.
Truth is, culture is amazing. I’m going to keep my opinions to myself but I’ve definitely observed lots of things that I like here more than where I come from and lots of things here that I like a lot less. More than anything, the impression that arrives to me time after time is that it’s nobody’s fault the world is so big and so different in its many corners – it’s just how we are and that’s okay. Let’s just accept our differences and be happy!
The week finished strong with another interchange with Elder Welch in his area in Otavalo. We talked all day long and produced an epic day in nearly every aspect of missionary work. I opened saying California kids are the best but Elder Welch gets included in my self-righteous complement because he’s simply amazing. Had we met before the mission, we would have been the closest of friends. After we finish this mission thing, I’m going to have lots of people to visit all around the world. And that’s awesome.
Lastly, we had the privilege of participating in the baptisms of some people the last couple of weeks, including Luis and Soledad on Saturday. And like that the work moves along. I’m without complaints, I’m staying positive, loving and learning more every day. I’ll be seeing you before we know it. Have an amazing week.