Well, Christmas came and went out here in the mission and it was WONDERFUL. We had so much fun and so many Christmas dinners and a ward Christmas party/talent show and all was just very jolly here in Ecuador. On top of that I got to skype my family which GREAT. But--given all the fun we had in this past week just made it harder to leave....yes, I received my first real transfer. Saying goodbyes on Sunday night was tough but it was surprisingly easy and even though I was saying goodbye I felt super happy to have had the chance to know all of them and serve them. Can honestly say I left my first area of the mission proud of what I had done and the friends I made, and a few dang awesome new converts.
With J and the fam last night.
None the less....I was super excited when I received the changes. I am excited to know a new part of Ecuador, get to know a new ward and companion, and start fresh and fix/do better so many things that I feel I could have done better. It all works out perfectly because 3 days into this change falls New Years Day....so I am way ready to set some awesome goals and more importantly DO THEM!
I am just moving about 1 hour from my old area, deeper & more south here in Quito. I am in the zone Turubamba Sur, in the ward Solando. If you search in Google maps ´´La Iglesia de Jesucristo SUD, Capilla Solanda´´ (first you have to search Quito and then kinda zoom in on the bottom half of it) you will find the church, and we live about 1 min walk from there, just around the corner! I love it here! It is way more city like than my last area, which means SOO many more people. Its the city but there are parks everywhere...and FAMILIES everywhere. I am dang excited. Every missionary I have talked to who has been here or near here says I am in the ´´best ward in Quito´´, and based of the few people I have met and the vibe I get from my comp I really do believe it! My companion is Elder F from Honduras. He has 17 months in the mission and is a SWEET dude! I am looking forward to working with him a ton...and we have a sweet program already here with people to teach and a family to help marry and baptize within the month. He is a great missionary. Quick short story--when he had 1 year in the mission his father passed away...so the fact that he is still out here serving the Lord and going hard...RESPECT.
We had a wonderful Christmas week. Monday we had a dinner with the Stake Presidency and their families...with all the missionaries from the two zones that are in the Stake...24 missionaries. It was super fun and bomb food!! The rest of the week we had a Christmas dinner almost every day with one family or another...and on Thursday I talked with the fam!!! It was awesome. It felt a little surreal talking to all the fam back at home...because for many years and many skype calls I had been sitting on the couch talking with the sibs out in the mission field...but it felt great to finally be on this end of things....although the post skype-with-the-sibs 5 hour long nap doesnt really fly out here on the mission...so that was missed!! Haha.
Quick story-- yesterday in my final Sunday of church I had a really awesome experience. When we arrived a little early like always there was a women (30s) and her 2 boys (15 and 11) sitting in the chapel. We didnt know them so I greeted them and started chatting. They are from Colombia and are members, just visiting for the week. We only chatted for about 10 minutes before church started, but after the 3rd hour of church the mom hurried over to me and asked me if I could give her and her boys a blessing--as they dont have a husband/father. After Elder P and I each gave one of them a blessing, we got ready to give the mom a blessing and she asked if I would do it, although we were planning that Elder Perez would do it. After the blessing she was teary eyed and just kept saying ¨que hermosa, wow, poderoso.´´ (how beautiful, wow, powerful), and she was just SO SO grateful. For the first time in the mission I truly felt NEEDED, like someone out here, who doesnt even live in the ward I was serving in, really needed me. And all of that day I couldnt stop thinking about them and got really strong feelings that everything they were going through was all going to be alright. After 4.5 months in a ward with some AMAZING members...I think the most impactful experience I had there came on my last day with someone who lives a few countries away. The church & blessings are universal...I can honestly say I know that with all my heart.
Well Jeff...this one was for you (hahaha still not as long as yours!!) Love you all, have a great new year and set some killer goals! I know I have many many things to improve!
Christmas pic from the Zone a few weeks ago.