Sunday, August 23, 2015

Feeling Better, Conferences, and Ash in the Air


Today we played futbol as a zone which was really neat. The Hermanas in our zone were making food with Hermana Christensen today as there is a verification for new missionaries tomorrow which lasts most of the day so I will tell you about that next week.

As for my health I am a lot better now and it was probably some sort of bug I got with eating the food as the food is not always clean. Here you have to eat everything they give you and I am not in a place where I am allowed to refuse some dishes. Still it isn't too bad and I manage fairly well. Usually on Mondays we try to get some American food at the recreo although it costs a little more which is why it is only a once a week.

Just for me the time is definitely faster out here than in the MTC and I think that is because I am doing the Lord's work now. I think it is definitely true that Satan likes attacking you on the mission. I have heard it said that when you put your name tag on you are putting a big target on your chest for Satan and I think that is because the work you do is destroying his kingdom and he doesn't like that. I do write in my journal and try to daily and with one exception I have been perfect. One night (while I was still sick) I felt absolutely horrid and forgot to write but made sure the next night to write about both the days to not forget. I usually write about what we did and any neat experiences I have and I think it will be cool to one day just look back. I sometimes read old entries now. I write about milestones as well as those are the experiences that compose a mission.

For me I study my scriptures in the mornings and I usually read some verses out of the Book of Mormon out loud in Spanish. I then sometimes might try translating them into English. I also usually read some scriptures that go along with the lessons we have planned for the day and I am planning on adding just writing down things that stick out to me as I got a notebook to write some things down.

I have been able to listen to music however they don't have CD players here. I am not sure if I would ever find one either. My companion has an MP3 with a little speaker that he plays music with as we do have electricity and plumbing. I am living in the city right now not the jungle. But yes I have listened to music and the Spanish uplifting music is neat even if I don't understand all the words. I like the uplifting music and he (my companion) has this Spanish guy that sings uplifting songs and that is what we listen to. We sometimes listen to English hymns or songs and I have heard a few talks. I really look forward to conference where everyone speaks English. I look forward to seeing who are the 2 new Quorum of the 12 and hearing from Elder Holland and other speakers. It is still hard for me right now but apparently I am actually pretty far along and by 6 months I am told that you usually have a great understanding of the language which is awesome because 6 months for me is in December right before I Skype home for Christmas so that will be great.

We recently had a conference for the zones in Quito with a guy named Elder Waddell (if I remember his name correctly) He was actually about an inch taller than me and he was really cool. He talked to us about some various things to help with missionary work and we heard from some missionaries and Hermana and Presidente Christensen. We have more conferences coming up including one where we get one of the Presidency of the Seventy I believe talking to this mission and Quito north so it will be a huge conference. It is definitely cool to have the conferences.

We did get a storm here and I guess technically it is winter here. The thing is that the seasons aren't based on summer or winter but rain and not rain as currently it really doesn't rain too much. 

In the country, a volcano near Quito called Cotopaxi, which is the tallest active volcano in the world, has spewed out some ash recently. I don't know what the current situation with it is but if that thing actually really just has a big eruption we could have problems here. For now it is only spewing out ashes so it is neat. There has also been some protesters of the indigenous people. A group of about 200 indigenous went to the President's area and protested but I highly doubt anything will come of that as the President is popular and apparently has some pretty good policies but I really don`t care about politics right now.
I hope you all do well and I love you all and look forward to hearing from you next week.


Élder Throop

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

First Baptism, Shopping, Under the Weather, and Hello, Is Anyone Out There?


We had our first convert baptism and I stood in on the circle for the confirmation which was neat. He is a kid named Anderson Cedeño. I think that will make some people excited to hear about my first baptism as a companionship. My companion was chosen to baptize Anderson as Anderson knew my companion better.

So today is a little weird with writing home. We were hoping to get my hair cut then write home but there are a lot of people in the two haircut places that are open and a third that is nearby is closed. So I get to write some more now.

Today we got to visit a nearby Catholic cathedral which was really neat. We had to ask permission to exit our zone from the zone leaders as it was actually out of our zone. It was a nicely sized place although it took them I think 100 years to build and it is smaller and less magnificent than the Salt Lake Temple. It has a lot of graffiti everywhere and some areas have patchwork and also they have done a lot of renovation. Still it was very neat. We climbed a bunch of steps to get to the top and I will send some pictures of the place so you get an idea of what it looked like. We got a nice view of the city from it. It was about 350 feet high. That was what me and my companion did this week. We then went on a bus to come back here ate some food and did some shopping. We then cleaned our house a little and just sat a bit as we had about 30 minutes to ourselves.

A lot of the stores here on the street are smaller, sometimes not more than a hole in the wall. But, shopping is easy as we have a shopping center near where we live where we do our shopping. The items are usually cheaper than American products and we get like 120 dollars per 2 weeks to spend on food and transport and items we need for cleaning and things like that. Some things are more expensive though. I saw a jar of Nutella that was priced at 11 dollars and it is like the normal sized ones in America so some things cost more.

My scripture study is coming along. I normally read out loud a chapter in the Book of Mormon in Spanish and I can generally understand what is going on. When I read to myself I have to really focus or I get nothing.  My language skills are progressing and apparently I started a lot further along than most missionaries according to my trainer. He is neat and he is a good trainer.

We also did a service project on Wednesday. We helped a family move out of their home. They were out of our sector but it was nice helping them out.

I have been a little under the weather here and got diarrhea for the last couple of days but the plan is for me to go on a 24 hour liquid diet and it should go away. I don't know how well I will handle no food for 24 hours but I should get better. I unfortunately also soiled my pants just because of how bad it was but I got to a cleaner to clean them. That was no fun, but I've heard that many missionaries have had these same issues, so I guess I'm not alone.

Thanks for praying for me and I do enjoy it here even if there are trials.


Èlder Throop

Here's the picture of Anderson standing between my companion and I. His mother and sister are to the left of my companion.

Me and My Companion at the top of the Cathedral

Me, pretending to fall

A view of the city from the Cathedral looking on a hill that really doesn't belong there as the city is in a valley

A view of the cathedral from the ground

One of the towers of the cathedral.  It has 4 towers total, 1 tall, 2 double towers and one shorter one
This is the shorter tower

Here are the double towers

* Mom's note:  I gather from some of Tyler's comments in his emails that he is only getting letters from me.  He was asking about his grandparents emailing him and his brothers, who didn't get a chance to email him this week because my laptop is having issues.  I guess he was sitting at the computer in the store for a long time, not really doing anything, feeling a little silly because he only had one letter to read from me and he had already written back to me.  So, if you have the chance, please send him a quick note.  I'm sure he would really appreciate it.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Life in Argelia-Baring Testimony, Investigators, Steep Hills, No colon on the keyboard


First of all, thanks to the ward for the package they sent at the end of June!  I got that in the MTC which was a nice surprise and kind of shocking as I didn't think you could get packages in the MTC. It might seem like a small thing for you guys but it makes a world of difference out here and it is nice to eat some things from home like Beef Jerky or Nutella. For packages now, use the mission home address.  

Here's the official mailing address for packages and instructions.  The district or zone leaders get a packet each week to take to the missionaries which includes anything you send.

Packages sent from the U.S. to Ecuador may not exceed 8 pounds and must carry a green sticker, even if the post office workers suggest you use a white one. It must have this customs declaration on the package, or it will not be accepted in this country. 

The packages must be addressed as follows: 

Elder Tyler Nelson Throop

Misión Ecuador Quito 
Calle Robles E4-151 y Avenida Amazonas 
Casilla: 17-03-078 
Quito, Pichincha 

Do not send packages by Priority mail or FedEx or UPS. These will automatically go to “mail jail”, requiring a special trip to the post office and payment of a large fee. All of which, will cause a long delay for your missionary to receive their packages. Also if packages are over the limit the country starts charging for overweight and what the package contains(incoming taxes charge) which means you have to pay to send it and then to receive it (generally $30-$80 to take it out of ¨mail jail¨). The church does not cover this cost. The time and money the church spends on postage is enormous in order for the missionaries to receive their mission mail and personal mail, your cooperation in this issue is highly valued, thank you for your help.

President and Sister Christensen were nice and very good people and President Christensen was fun to be around and they will be the mission presidents for the entire mission. So I look forward to that. I started working in the field really on Thursday. I didn't get my companion until Wednesday evening as we had training and were learning for awhile. We did some things on Wednesday but Thursday was the first real day which was interesting.

My trainer is named Elder Goodfellow and he is a good trainer. He put me to work on the day he got me just a bit and I have been working ever since and he is definitely good. The time zone is the same as Colombia which was nice. I think it is odd that I am now slightly south of the equator. This is probably the farthest south I will go in my life for awhile unless I get an area more south from here. I am working in the city of Quito right now. Argelia is the name of the ward that I currently serve in, which is in Turubamba North Zone

It is different here and the schedule has changed but I enjoy it more because I actually get to do work and help people out.  It is neat here in the mission and my area specifically is Argelia.  I did bear my testimony in Spanish on the fast Sunday here but they invited me up as I am a new missionary. I am not sure how frequently we bear testimony just because even in a ward with just about 98 people attending (that was how many attended last week) there still isn't really much of a break in the bearing of testimonies. I am not sure how much Spanish I have learned in relation learning it in school as most of the Spanish we learned at the MTC was focused on teaching the gospel although I can do fairly well in conversations.  It's just that they often use words I don't know. The people I am teaching here are neat. One is an investigator struggling with drug problems and he wants to change so hopefully he will do well. Another person is a guy who spent some time in America and actually prefers speaking English with us which is interesting and when we taught him my companion had a hard time apparently and he has been out just under a year. I think he hits his one year mark in 5 days. I don't know if I will have the same problem as I am fairly good at switching between English and a foreign language and remembering both. I think some people have problems because they don't have that experience of changing languages back and forth with ease. Still it depends on how much English I use. We have a family where the children are all to be members soon as the last son has his baptism August 16 at 700 in the morning so I get to get up early that day so we can prepare for the baptism. They are good kids it's just the mother doesn't want to hear the message. We have some less actives as well that we try to teach and one very promising investigator who needs help finding a new job so he can attend church. It is really nice teaching real people although it is a little hard as I don't always understand and it can be tricky to focus. My trainer usually takes the lead with lessons but I can still teach. Sometimes I can be really quiet just because I can`t understand what is going on.  

There are a lot of hills and a lot of really steep hills. I don`t think I have done this much hiking in my life! But it is good. The weather stays very consistent and we haven`t had much rain yet. They really don`t have seasons but I think technically it`s winter right now being south of the Equador (barely) still the weather stays at about 70 during the day and can get to about 60 at night. I haven't had it rain yet so it has been great. Is it strange having me gone yet as this is now the longest time I have been gone from home for any duration of time as Camp Raymond was only 6 weeks and now I am close to 7 weeks. It has been good and should be very interesting for the next 12 weeks with my training as missionaries get specific training for the first 12 weeks in the mission. After that studies are important but can be replaced by service to others and doing missionary work. So far it has been teaching for me and talking with people and no service as I think service can be harder to do here or find.

P days are always on Mondays here in the mission field and I believe for at least the next 6 weeks I will be able to email between 400 and 600 in the evening. I of course have to email the President I believe but I am a fast typer.  The first P day here was interesting and we started with studies and the day officially started at 1000 and ends at 600. (I can`t find a colon on this keyboard as I am in this little shop with some computers typing on a keyboard where all the letters have faded away and they had to tape letters on to the keys).  Once my P day ends I get to teach more until the end of the day which will be interesting. One of the harder things is just hearing about the times you can go without food and you are not fasting. That is just hard for someone as skinny as my. I think Sister Christensen was concerned for my well being as I was so tall but also skinny. 

I was looking through some of my forms that the tentative date for my release is May 30th 2017.   I feel like this was the best time to leave for me and I feel everything is nicely spaced out for me as Conference is just after 3 months on the mission.  Christmas is at 6 months which I heard is when you really gain mastery of the language (I really hope they aren't lying to me.) The April session of conference is at 10 months so nothing too big but then Mothers Day is right near the one year mark so I like the setup. Then you just add a year to each of those numbers when you consider the second time it happens. 

Èlder Throop

(Mom's note -Here's the map of the Quito Mission and then a close up of the area where Tyler is serving now in the Argelia Ward.)