Dear Friends and Family-
Cameron sent an email to me during the week last Monday to explain his new area, and his new calling. He has been called to serve as the Assistant to President Erickson. He was hesitant to share because he did not want to be "puffed up or vaunted" (see 1 Cor. 13:4) I was able to email him back and told him that we are proud of him, not due to position, but because he was willing to serve in that capacity. He will have some really wonderful experiences and will continue to grow and be stretched in this capacity. Thank you for your support and love...
Dear Familia, May 31, 2014
Well, Braden is right, there´s a great difference between the description of his time as an assistant and what I have seen in a pair of weeks. My typical day starts with studies in the office, but during the week about 3 days of the week, we are visiting district meeting with the missionaries and president, so we leave early with the taxista of the mission (Hno Ortega). When we do visits like that, we typically have one in the morning from 8:30 or 9 to 12:00 then lunch with President and Sister Erickson, then a second district meeting with a different zone at 2:00 pm to 5 pm. from there we go out and work with the elders or sisters from the zone to see how they are doing in their area.
As that happens 3 times a week or so, and we also schedule work visits without meetings during 1 or 2 other days of the week, we have maybe two days of working in our own area, from 6 pm and forward. That´s enough to make it difficult to have investigators :/ Usually, the assistants don´t have regular investigators, and we share a ward with some Sister leaders. They look for members or less actives that need strengthening and typically we visit them, because it doesn´t require us to be consistently in the area.
Oh yeah, and I think you already know a little about my companion. It´s Elder Artero...from El Salvador. We were companions about 8 months ago in Año Nuevo, so it´s almost like nothing is too new. He´s been assistant for one change now and usually the time as assistant is 6 months, so we will likely be companions for the majority of my time here.
When we are in the offices all day long, we do whatever president Erickson asks, looking up information about the zones or where missionaries are, and how they are doing. We also read all of the weekly reports from the zones, welcome the new missionaries, give trainings every 2 to 3 months, interview missionaries when President can´t come and do it and accompany Hermana Erickson to do room revisions. It´s been interesting to see that there´s a lot more supervision than I thought before. There are 229 missionaries in the mission, and we literally have to be prepared to respond about the status of all of them, or at least a basic rundown of where they are, and how they are getting along with their companion.
This week, we did a visit to the Canto Chico zone, where I accompanied Elder Huambo and Elder Menjivar. Elder Huambo was my zone leader for a transfer when I was in Magnolias. We proselyted from 5 to 9 and taught two or three lessons to less actives. One of the lessons, we met a man that should be going to a ward in the other side of the mission, but after getting baptized a year and a half ago, he had a relapse in drugs and alcohol. He is currently living in a rehab home, whose primary form of rehabilitation is chanting in group to empower the men to leave it all behind...a little strange. However, they let him come to church and he´s done so regularly since he figured out where it is, 2 months ago. He has talked with his bishop about going to the temple to do baptisms, but his bishop here said he can’t even interview him until they have his record in the word (huge problem here: nobody carries their church record with them when they move, and the ward usually will just give them a calling anyway without pulling their record from their old ward) So we took his information and called his bishop from his old ward.
I think I will be able to more see vignettes of the lives of people all over the mission, and not be able to really follow it, but it´s interesting, and it helps me to focus on every lesson like it’s my last with that person, because really it is.
The other visit we did this week was to Magnolias stake, where I really hoped to go to Buenos Aires, my first ward, but they assigned me to accompany Elder McIff and Elder Barrenechea. They are opening an area and so I was able to go and help them out with a list of people to visit they were given by the elder that was over the entire ward before. We taught a sister who identifies herself as catholic, but she was going to church about a month ago, hoping that her activity would help her two teenage sons drop some rebellious habits. We helped her to realize that the only way her sons were going to come to church was if she herself would reestablish the habit and begin to live the gospel more fully. Their ward is full to the bursting and the stake president has said that there will likely be a split soon. The chapel fills up every Sunday and there are people standing in the aisles according to the elders!
As for the visit with Brother Llanos...well we have lunch every Sunday with the sister leaders in our ward, and so we met up with them to go to the members house who was giving us lunch. We walked in and Brother Llanos looked at me a little funny, and asked where I was from, I replied Washington, and then he asked me if I had siblings, and I mentioned the four. When I said Braden he lit up and said I´m Elder Llanos and I about died. I couldn´t stop smiling and we talked about the mission the whole meal. He is doing great, he married a Limeña that also served in MMCME, who actually served while Braden was the AP. Crazy crazy coincidences. He is in my ward and so I will be seeing him often. I also thought, while leaving the house. "Wouldn´t it just be wild if Kolby ended up in Elder Gaibor´s ward?" He lives in the Guayaquil North mission, and was somewhat my trainer (finished the last 2 weeks of my first 12). The world is tiny when we are members of the Church.
I actually am using the SD cards and backing them up onto my flash drive as i go. The reason I haven´t sent any sd cards home is the postage is ridiculous expensive, and also SD cards are pretty cheap here, so I usually keep the full sd cards in my suitcase and back things up onto my flash drive. It works really well, and I have two copies of all of my photos, so I feel secure. I came with 10Gb of memory cards and 48 Gb of flash drive space, but one of the flash drives got stolen, so I’m down to 32Gb of flash. It has worked really well, so I´d recommend doing that. If you can find a cheap card reader it’s better to use that than to connect your camera directly to a foreign computer by the way.
All 4 secretaries and the 2 assistants live in the same apartment. I might have described it to you in the letter right after I got here. But it’s a big apartment with 4 bunk beds and two regular beds, a kitchen with blender and microwave, a giant fridge, two bathrooms, and a room where we have a table to iron our clothes. That’s the living situation, but go ahead and ask me anything else you’d like to know.
Love you all and hope that this week has been a good one. Constantly learn, ask me about my new study plan next week, I have been learning a TON. Hope you all keep learning and changing everyday...but not too much!