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
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.