Sunday, August 11, 2013

50 days until I leave for the MTC

I have less than 50 days until I leave for the M.T.C. and I cannot wait. It seems like the five month wait to serve is just crawling at a turtle pace. So I thought I'd liken this weeks post to the tortoise and the hare book. In the last 50 days I feel like at times I could have been the hare just sitting around waiting for September 25th to come around and it would be my time to leave. Instead I have been the tortoise. I have been working so hard to learn the lessons in PMG in English so I am grateful that I have had the extra time to prepare. I am so grateful for the LORD and that he knows when I should serve!

So many things have happened in the last 50 days! Most importantly Spanish speaking sisters are now assigned to my WARD. Not only are they the first set of sister missionaries specifically assigned to my ward but they are also speaking and teaching in my mission language. I have been able to go with them on appointments almost every day after work and am learning the teach the gospel in both English and Spanish. 

This past week we went to an investigators house who just turned 15 years old. His entire family is Catholic and his mother said that she doesn't care where he goes to church or with whom but wants him to be a little bit older before he makes the decision on which one to join. It was just such a great experience and I could feel the spirit so strongly! We shared scriptures and taught him various principles thorugh out PMG as we tried to determine what the Elders had covered with him already. I left feeling so excited to be a missionary. That is just the first of many experiences I have had in the last two weeks!

On Monday I also had the opportunity to drive the sister missionaries out to the Coast for their P-day. They were meeting with another district to have a devotional on the beach and then sight see. It was such an awesome day and you could just feel their desire to share the gospel as all 20 missionaries gathered together on the beach and talked about why we share the gospel with others. 

I also happened to run across this video about the Mexico MTC this week and I can't wait to get there! 

I love this Gospel so much and the Lord knows all. I just need to continue to prepare myself spiritually so that I can serve him to my greatest capacity! 

I thought I would end this post by sharing my testimony in Spanish. I know it is not a lot but I am working on it!

Yo tengo un testimono de el Evangelio de Dios. Yo se el Evangelio de Dios es verdad. Thomas S. Monson es un profeta llamarse de Dios en los Ultimos Dias. Sé que José Smith restauró el Evangelio y tradujo el Libro de Mormón. Sé que Dios es nuestro amoroso Padre Celestial y nosotros somos sus hijos. Doy testimonio de que esto es verdad porque yo oré para saber. Amen.

Love, Hermana Weller

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Mission Specific Questions with Sister Dennis

Once the new mission president and his wife got settled into Guayaquil and their new home, I wrote Sister Dennis and asked her a few mission specific questions. If you have any that you would like me to ask please let me know and I will email her personally.

Do you recommend a backpack or shoulder bag? The packet says no back packs but I have heard this is mission specific. 

The missionary department has asked that missionaries start using shoulder bags instead of backpacks to give a more professional appearance--not so much student-like.  Of course, not all the missionaries that have backpacks now will be able to change right away (or at all if they don't have the money), but all the new missionaries that go out are asked to use shoulder bags.

Can sisters wear sandals? If so, what are the requirements? 

Only closed-toe shoes to protect your feet when you are out working, but on P-days you are free to wear sandals.

Do you recommend short sleeve cardigans or longer? I have heard it gets chilly at night.

Yes, I would bring some long sleeve sweaters as well.  I was very surprised that it can be chilly at night and in the morning.  In some of the areas along the coast, it get pretty chilly even during the day so a jacket is a good idea, too.

Are rainproof boots required? Do you think I would use them with the humidity and how hot it gets?

I really don't know what to tell you about boots.  I haven't been here during the rainy season yet, but the sisters tell me it rains a lot and that in some areas they are walking through water halfway up their calfs, so boots might be a good idea.

Are ped socks okay? I have heard that tights are required in this mission...but that may just be a rumor. :)

Peds are fine. However, I have asked our sisters to use stockings or knee highs to go to church, and on the occasions that they are able to go to the temple, to show respect for the Lord's house.

What is the weather really like?

Right now it's alot cooler than I thought it would be.  It's still humid and warm, but not awful like I thought it would be year round.  It's very pleasant right now--high 70's or low to mid 80's during the day.  High 60's at night with a cool breeze.  So far it's mostly been cloudy which is nice because on the days that it's been sunny it's felt alot hotter.  However, I hear that come November and December, the heat and humidity are awful and when it rains (and it pours), it just makes it worse.  It's like a sauna.  That lasts until March or April, so I've been told.

Are the wattage and outlets the same as the US?

Wattage and plugs are the same; however in some of the missionary apartments you 
might need the little adapters that can use the plugs we have up there where one prong 
is longer than the other.  Here alot of them are just the same size.

Tips from Sister Dennis on preparing to become a missionary:

Tips:  read the Book of Mormon in Spanish and study PMG as much as you can.  Also be 
very familiar with the missionary handbook -- obedience brings great blessings but exact 
obedience brings miracles, just as with the stripling warriors who obeyed every command 
with exactness.  We want our missionaries to be protected and be able to teach with power 
from the Spirit and see miracles in their missions, so we ask all of our missionaries to obey
with exactness. But to be able to obey with exactness, you need to know the mission rules.
They are in the missionary handbook. Just do all you can to be led by the Spirit and you 
will be a successful missionary!  You are going to love your mission, even with the trials 
and difficulties that will come.It's all good!!

Other things I have found out from friends who have served in Ecuador before and also from people who have traveled there are:

  1. Tampons are only available in the big cities like Quito and Guayaquil but they are expensive so take enough to last your trip.
  2. Take garlic pills so you do not get eaten by the mosquito's.
  3. Don't drink the water at all unless it comes in a bottle. (Don't worry the MTC gives you a nice water bottle with a filtration thing)
  4. Invest in shoes, the streets are cobble or dirt and your feet will hurt and the shoes will break down if you do not invest.
  5. Bring your own sheets, bedding, and pillow (the ones in the missionary apartments are bad).
  6. You can eat the fruit if it has a skin on it.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Letter from MY Mission President

I have been hearing from others that sometimes you get a letter from your Mission President before you leave and sometimes they don't send one at all. I have been waiting but not holding my breath as it's a new mission, so I am sure they are VERY busy. However I checked my email today and guess what I got over two weeks ago. Yes, that's right a letter from President Jorge Dennis! 

It has been such a blessing to be able to write emails to his wife, Sister Dennis, and ask questions about the mission, so this just made my day! Here are some pieces of the letter I received.

Dear Sister Weller ,

Welcome to the Ecuador Guayaquil West Mission, the greatest mission on earth! We are so grateful for the opportunity to serve with you in this part of the Lord’s vineyard. The people of Ecuador are a beloved people of our Father in Heaven. They have believing hearts and are open to being taught the Lord’s gospel. ...besides the great work of finding, teaching, and baptizing our Father’s children, we have the great opportunity to work alongside Him in finding and rescuing His lost sheep...

...We look forward to getting to know you in the near future, but even though we don’t know you personally, we already feel a great love for you and can feel the Lord’s love for you. This is a wonderful time to serve. You are being called to a new mission and so you will be among the first missionaries to serve in the Guayaquil West Mission. We know you will be a blessing to those you come in contact with and that the rest of your life will be blessed as you put your whole heart into the Lord’s work during the precious time you are called to serve...

As you are preparing your suitcases and all that needs to be done before you leave, please don’t forget that the greatest preparation is your spiritual preparation. Please take some time each day to pray and study the Book of Mormon and Preach My Gospel. You will be blessed with increased guidance and inspiration as you do so, and you will be ready to hit the ground running when you arrive....

...We love you and look forward to serving with you in the greatest mission on earth!!


Pres. Jorge Dennis

Sis. Anette Dennis

Ecuador Guayaquil West Mission

Thursday, August 1, 2013

All about the Ecuador Guayaquil West Mission

In April 2013 during General Conference it was announced that the Church had created 58 new missions! Why? This was following the announcement in October 2012 that the earliest a missionary could serve changed for both Young Men and Young Women had changed. Young Men could now go at the age of 18 instead of 19 and Young Women could no go at the age of 19 instead of 21. The change caused a huge influx of prospective missionaries and we all need a place to serve!

One of the new missions that was created, is the one I was called too! The Ecuador Guayaquil West Mission! Since it is a new mission I have been learning as much as I can about what to pack, the weather, the culture, the language, religion, and anything else you can think of. When I first opened my call I had no idea where I had been called. I knew it was in South America but didn't know where. So..I thought I would share what I have been able to learn online and by asking people who have served there or have traveled there with family.

Where is Ecuador? South America of course :)

Where will I be in Ecuador? 
The Coastal Low Lands!

I have always loved the beach, so why not be on the coast near the equator. The only down side is I can't go in the water as a Missionary but that's okay. Hopefully I will get a glimpse of the amazing sunsets.

Other neat thing is that that my mission does go across the equator...woot woot! So just maybe i'll be assigned to an area North of the equator on my journey in Ecuador as a majority of the mission is in the Southern Hemisphere.   

Weather on the Coast vs. Guayaquil

There are only two versions of the weather on the Coastal side of Ecuador, WET or DRY. 

From January to May is the Wet Season, which I hear is also hot and humid, so it's more of a sauna session that you can not escape. :( So it rains a lot which means a jacket and boots but then it's also hot and did I say HUMID. 

From June to December it is their Dry Season, which is cooler and overcast. Apparently you need cardigans in the early morning and later at night as it gets down below 60 degrees. I would have never thought that with the temperatures ranging from 80 - 95 during the day. 

As long as I am prepared for the two seasons I am sure I'll be fine and enjoy the weather as much as I can without being able to swim in the Ocean.

The Church in Ecuador

In 1965, the first missionaries entered Ecuador and baptized nine converts within one month. When the Ecuador Mission was created in 1970, membership was 1,000. Five years later, membership tripled to more than 3,000. In 1981, congregations were organized among the Otavalo Indians near Quito after several Church publications were translated into their language. In 1989, Quito, Ecuador, became headquarters for the Church's South America North Area.
Ecuador's Church membership has nearly doubled in the past five years. To accommodate the growing membership, more than 130 Church buildings have been erected in Ecuador. The Church provides both academic and religious education to youth in the country.

Total Church Membership: 211,165
Missions: 3 (there will be 5 in July 2013)
Congregations: 308
Family History Centers: 43
Temples: 1

Stats and Info via the LDS News Room.

Guayaquil Temple

The Guayaquil Ecuador Temple was the first temple built in Ecuador.The temple, labeled "the most beautiful building in Ecuador" by members and nonmembers alike, stands majestically in a peaceful hillside setting in northern Guayaquil. 

Missionaries in the Guayaquil West Mission

The new area opened on July 1st, 2013 and there are currently 132 missionaries who serve there. They were transferred from other missions already in Ecuador since there was originally 3 missions there. Today there are 5!! 

Here is my future Mission President and his wife - Hermano y Hermana Dennis!

Jorge and J. Anette Dennis

Jorge Dennis, 55, and Jeannie Anette Herrin Dennis, four children, Parkway Branch (Spanish), North Salt Lake Utah Parkway Stake: Ecuador Guayaquil West Mission. Brother Dennis serves as a gospel doctrine teacher and a temple ordinance worker, and is a former counselor in a stake mission presidency, high councilor, stake missionary, bishop, counselor in a bishopric, ward Young Men president, ward mission leader, high priests group assistant and ward Young Men adviser. Owner/CEO, EnviroKleen, LLC. Born in Ciudad Obregon, Sonora, Mexico, to Jesus and Elena Lauterio Dennis.

Sister Dennis serves as a counselor in a branch Young Women presidency and is a former secretary to a stake Relief Society presidency; stake missionary; ward Primary president, counselor in ward Primary, Relief Society and Young Women presidencies; Relief Society teacher and compassionate service leader. Born in Provo, Utah, to Curtis Lamar and Patricia Joanne Stewart Herrin.

I am so excited to go to my mission. I can't wait! When I learn more about the people and the culture it just gets me more excited to go.

Hermana Weller