First Week!

July 27, 2009

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I can’t believe I’ve already been here for a week. So crazy! My companion is Elder Willett, from Arizona. He was previously a zone leader and he’s way awesome. He love the scriptures and has an insanely powerful testimony of the Book of Mormon. He’s taught me some Spanish and a lot more about how to be a missionary. I’m starting to develop a much greater love for the Book of Mormon because of him. The Book of Mormon is so powerful! I wish I had three hours a day to study it rather than just one. I never get enough time to study haha.

My area is called Las Exclusas, and is the second poorest area in the whole mission. It’s way tight. The people have nothing but they’re so charitable, and I think I’ve gained even more weight because the members feed us so much food. They don’t really eat dinner here, so we get huge lunches, and every day I feel like I’m just about to throw up because I have to pack down all the food they give me! The food here is great! We have been lucky and gotten some good stuff. We even got KFC from some of our investigators! Elder Willett said he’s only had KFC one other time in his mission, and he goes home after the next transfer. So I got lucky and got some sweet food!

All I drink is Coke and water. It’s pretty sweet, I love Coke haha. They also have some amazingly good jucies and other sodas here as well. We have a really nice apartment, and I’m going to try to send some pictures of it. Even though it’s way nice, it’s extremely dirty. Everything here in my area is filthy. It’s such a different world here, but I love it! My area is awesome and we have some sweet investigatores.

Our goal for this transfer is to have 6 baptisms, and we’re going to try way hard to make it. Two of the planned baptisms fell though and won’t happen until next transfer though, so we have to work way hard to make up for that. But we can do it. Elder Willett is awesome and he knows how to work.

My Spanish is coming along little by little. The Lord is beginning to bless me with the Gift of Interpretation of Tounges. Every day I understand the people a little more, but I still am completely lost in almost every discussion haha it’s fun.

The climate isn’t too bad. It’s hot, but nothing big. I’m pretty much used to it now because I just ignore it so it’s all good. There are so many dogs. Everywhere there is at least one dog, and half of them are sick and dying. The people live in cement houses with tin roofs and cement floors. Our house is nice because it has a cement roof. But the people are cool. There are a lot of drunks haha they like to yell “Hey Mister!” and they don’t like us.

Preaching the Gospel is hard work. We walk all day and people here don’t seem to be home whenever we have an appointment with them. So it’s a lot of walking. But being a missionary is awesome. I’m completely exuasted at the end of every day. It’s cool though. There are about 300 members on the branch’s membership roll, and only about 50 are active. People go inactive way fast here, so we work a lot with the members to find inactive, part member families so we can get them active in the church again.

We’ve had some really awesome and spiritual lessons this week, and I set baptismal dates with two investigatores! Elder Willett set one baptismal date last night as well, so it’s pretty cool. I didn’t do much to set the date though, Elder Willett taught and then I asked if they would be baptised haha. We have this awesome family, Celima and Fransisca and their two daughters, Mariuxi and Kennia who are all going to be baptised, and right now they’re pretty much the most active family in the branch. They say that they want to set and example and get the members to be better. There are a couple young men we work with and they come to help us teach lessons a lot too.

If anyone has any questions they want me to answer, get them to my parents at sharksawyer@gmail.com and they’ll send them to me! It would be helpful for me to know what I should write if I had a list of questions I could answer.

We went to the Park of the Iguanas today, but they weren’t hungry so I didn’t get one to climb on me. Maybe sometime in the next few weeks. I had McDonalds, which was soooo good. I might buy an iPod here haha, they are soo cheap and the mission office will fill it up with awesome church music! So family, let me know if that would be okay for me to buy. Elder Willett said he’d give me his speakers when he goes home if we’re together for his last change, so that would be cool.

I hope everyone is doing great! Please send my parents questions! And send me mail! Use the pouch system, it’s all explained on my blog. I don’t know what else to write, so write me with your questions!!

Elder Lane D. Sawyer
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First Day!

July 23, 2009

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So I’m out on my first day, sending you an email to tell you that I’m safe! My first area is in Guayaquil, and we have a huge house. Half of it isn’t finished though (the upstairs), so we all live downstairs in the main room. Our Pdays are on Monday, so I’ll write you a better email then. Elder Austin just got transfered so I won’t see him for a while.

My trainer is Elder Willett. He is awesome. He speaks excellent Spanish and has a lot of experience. We’re teaching a few lessons today and then a baptismal interview tonight! Our goal for this transfer is to baptise 6 people, and hopefully we can find some new investigatores to do even more than that!

It’s such a different world here, but it’s aweseome. We took a bus here, which was crazy. But everything is awesome. We live with two other Elders, who are natives. They are pretty cool and I hope to learn a lot from them. I can understand pretty much all the Spanish that non Natives speak, but the natives are a little harder to understand. I better take off, so I’ll talk to you later!

Here is a picture of me and my companion in the internet cafe place!

Love,
Elder Sawyer
Lane & Companion


Last Week!

July 17, 2009

I’m going to be in Ecuador in three days!! How crazy is that!? One of my goals is to have a baptismal commitment from someone by next weekend. Hopefully my trainer has an investigator that is almost ready for baptism, but if not I’m going to find someone and work really hard! We’ll see what happens haha.

So make sure to stop writing me at the MTC. I’m not there anymore. My address for Ecuador should be located on my blog. I’m too lazy to write it. Nah, I just don’t have it with me at the moment. But right to that address. The instructions for everything are there, so just follow them so that I’ll get your letter. Everyone can also use DearElder to write to my mission! That would probably be the easiest, fastest way for people to get me letters.

Anyways.. About this week.. Nothing really happened. A few things did I guess. So I’ll go through my little list that I wrote for this email!

Oh, I should be calling home on Monday inbetween my flights. So look at the times I sent last email and be ready for me to call inbetween then. I’m going to buy a cheap calling card today so that we can talk!

We got our butts kicked when we were teaching a few days ago. This is our “teaching week” where we only have two hours of class a day and the rest of the time we teach people. So we were teaching our teacher, Hermana Engerbretsen, (who is the coolest person ever and is getting married in two weeks!) and our planning sucked, so our lesson was going very badly. She even stopped us in the middle of it because we were doing so bad. I think we got too complacent with the whole “teaching by the Spirit” and we didn’t even plan at all. So now, to the pleasure of my OCD perfectionist side, we write detailed lesson plans! It makes me so happy haha. So our lessons have been going better, because we actually have a written down plan. We still follow the Spirit, but if you don’t do the planning first, the Spirit isn’t going to help you. That applies to everything. We have to put in the work to get blessings from God.

My ankle got kicked, stepped on, slid into, and twisted probably 20 times last Friday or Saturday, so it really hurts. I kept playing on it though haha because I didn’t want to miss gym. They finally opened up basketball again so that was way fun, but I was really slow on my sprained ankle haha. It still hurts but it’s okay. I have no more gym periods so it’s all good. It’ll start to heal.

I spent 5 hours in the doctor’s office on Tuesday. I think we only made it to 1 or 2 hours of class, because we always got back right at meal times. Elder Petersen’s ankle is doing better, but we’ve spent so much time in the doctors. I’ve spent an average of 3 hours a week in the docters, so 9 weeks for 3 hours; I’ve missed 27 hours of class while here at the MTC. But it’s fine, because I feel like I’ve been blessed, I’ve kept up with everyone else that didn’t miss class. Oh! I took the grammer assesment test for exiting the MTC again. I took it two weeks ago, and got a 73%, which was fine, because they want you to have between 65%-75% when you leave the MTC. I took it again this morning, just 10 days later and I improved to a 85%! So I learned more than the standart missionary learns, which makes me happy because I know I have been blessed and that I will be a more effective tool in the Lord’s hands! The gift of tongues is real. It’s so awesome!

Oh, I bought the most amazing waterbottle EVER! It was developed by a member of the missionary health council, which consists of four brethren called by the First Presidency to take care of the missionaries. One of them talked to us for our health departure meeting. This man is incredible. He developed a complete water purification system that fits inside a water bottle. It’s not just a filtration system, but a complete purification system. It’s so cool. You can stick the most germ ridden, parasite filled water in it, and it comes out completely pure. It takes out absolutely everything. The only place you can buy it is here in the MTC and through a special ordering system or something. But the Army uses it, and the Baptists buy a ton and then the LDS Church uses it, since they developed it. But it was only 50 dollars, and it was 30 after the awesome discount. So I got it, which I hope eases some of your fears about me dying from the water. But what’s even cooler is that they are developing a STRAW that has this system, so you can just use your straw at peoples’ houses. It’s incredible. They are starting to try and distribute these bottles and will have the straw finished in about a month, so that all foreign missionaries can have it. But I bought one because they said they probably won’t get them to Ecuador for a year or so. So I felt like I needed it. Hopefully I’ve justified my buying it haha.

I’m glad to hear that Mom is working, and that Pop’s little bicycle business is doing pretty well! If anyone needs their bikes fixed, take them to my dad. He’s the best! He seriously can fix everything, no matter what it is.

I’m sending home a package today or tomorrow that has all the stuff that I don’t need. I’m pretty much packing everything up today. It feels so good to start getting everything ready to go! Ah! Ecuador!!

I can’t wait to get there. I want to find and teach people so badly. Every week I feel like my testimony improves exponentially (I hate English, it’s so hard to spell. In Spanish, everything actually makes sense). The Church is true! Jesus is the Christ! We can return to live with God and live with our families forever! It’s amazing. It’s so incredible, but it’s real! Every day I feel the Spirit bear witness that this is true.

I love you all,
Elder Lane D. Sawyer


10 DAYS!

July 11, 2009

I got my travel plans yesterday!! I leave the MTC at 3:00 AM on Monday July 20th to catch a flight out of Salt Lake at 6:00. We fly to Dallas, getting there at 9:30, then fly out of Dallas at 11:00 to Miami, where we will arrive at 3:00. Then at 5:15 we leave for Guayaquil! We will arrive at 8:30 Ecuador time. So it will be a long and exciting day! Only 10 more days!

One bit of sad news… Elder Petersen’s knee has been acting up, and they found out that bone is rubbing against bone. He has to stay in the MTC for an extra two weeks, so he’ll be leaving August 3rd. It’s dumb. Now there are only six of us traveling together to Ecuador. But he’ll only be two weeks behind, which will actually give him lots of time to practice his Spanish more! He’s not too upset about it, so he’ll use the extra time well and be fine!

So yesterday we committed to go español ALL the time. I had been speaking mostly Spanish up until now, but now I’m quitting English. The only English words I now say are when I’m asking how to say it in Spanish. The first day I did that was WAY hard. I LEARNED TO ROLL MY R’S!!! I still can’t really put the rolled r’s in my words, but my tongue flutters now! I’m so excited haha I worked on it so hard yesterday, which made my mouth exausted. I could hardly speak any more Spanish by the end of last night. Also, yesterday way the first day that my mind was mentally exausted, which was cool. It’s because I did all my studying, all my speaking, and all my thinking in Spanish. It’s sooo hard but so worth it. I’m already improving faster than normal. I should’ve quit English completely three weeks ago. I’d be a native by now haha.

Oh and on Wednesday, our district got to help welcome the new missionaries. The new process is way different. They pull up, get out of the car and hug and take a picture and then the family is gone. It takes about 3 minutes total. Then the older missionaries take the newbies and show them their room and help them get to a certain building. It was pretty fun. I stood in the sun the whole time though so I got a little sunburnt. But it’s okay because I need to get used to the sun. I’m glad I got to go to the “crying room” or whatever they called it back then instead of this new process.

It’s really cool because we’re the oldest district now. Elder Johnson and Elder Thayne are the zone leaders, so it’s pretty sweet. There are some Elders that are two weeks older than us that are still here because they didn’t get their visas to Mexico, and we’ll probably leave before they do, which is not fun for them.

I’m still 12 pounds heavier than when I entered the MTC. I’ve been trying to work it off, but it just seems to stay! I ride a stationary bike at least 3 times a week and play soccer 3 times a week, but I can get rid of my fat haha. But underneath my 12 pounds of fat I am developing an awesome six pack haha I do at least 250 to 300 situps a day. As soon as I wake up, during gym, and before I go to sleep. It’s pretty sweet. I’m going to try to stay in shape my whole mission so I can come home and not be fat. Also so I can serve the Lord more effectively in Ecuador by keeping myself in top shape.

Wow, 15 more minutes to write. I ran out of things to say on my list. We talked to two natives of Guayaquil this week! It was awesome. The Guayaquil accent is pretty hard to understand though. And also, the Guayaquil South mission is the poor side of the city. They said that we’re likely to get 40 to 50 each during our 2 years. I’m shooting for 100. It’s a lofty goal, but I know that if I stay exactly obedient and stretch myself, the Lord will bless me and guide me to the people who are ready to hear the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. I don’t want to waste a single second on my mission. Every day that I slack off is going to cause me to lose opportunities to bring souls to Christ. I want to always keep my “greenie fire” and stay animated for the work. They said the peopel in Guayaquil are extremely humble and ready to hear the Gospel, so I’m way excited to get there!

This next week is the last week to send me letters at the MTC. If you don’t get them sent by Wednesday, send them to my mission instead since I’ll be leaving on Monday. My address for my mission should be on the same blog as this email is posted.

This week was really awesome. Studying the Gospel only in Spanish is really difficult, but I get a lot out of it since I go slower than normal. I’m working on marking up my Spanish scriptures and finding great scriptures that talk about every kind of subject. The scriptures are so awesome, especially the Book of Mormon. But right now, my favorite chapter is John 14. I think I have half of the scriptures in that chapter marked. I think I could teach the first 3 lessons only from that chapter. It’s so awesome.

Study Preach My Gospel as a family! It’s the best. I would encourage everyone to study with it every day, especially the Lessons. There are so many awesome scriptures and teachings. I’ve found that about half of Preach My Gospel was taken from the Bible Dictionary, and the other half was written by Brother Bott haha. Brother Bott is the best. I don’t think there has been one day where I haven’t thought about what he said, or when I haven’t seen something he taught us in Preach My Gospel. It’s an inspired book. They actually call it a “workbook” because they expect it to be marked up and full of notes. Use it every day. It helps EVERYONE become a better missionary, even if you haven’t been on a mission or you’re too old to go. Look at the parts that talk about how to work with members. It has great ideas that can help you fellowship others and bring them the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Well, I best be going. My time is almost out. Thanks for the letters and packages from everyone!

This Gospel is true, Jesus is the Christ, and we can live together as families forever. The Gospel brings more happiness than anything in the world. I would know; when I ignored this Gospel for a time, my life wasn’t nearly as happy or as good as when I’ve been living the true Gospel of Christ. Just decide to live it, and it’s easy to live. This Gospel brings true, lasting happiness. I know it’s true. I’ve felt the Holy Ghost testify of the truth. Joseph Smith is a prophet. The Book of Mormon is the word of God. And this is the only Church on the face of the earth that has the authority to act in God’s name and to perform the ordinances necessary to salvation. It’s so amazing. This is all true.

Les amo,
Elder Lane D. Sawyer


Feliz día de Indepencía!

July 3, 2009

Ah! I’m so happy to hear that Austin, Braden, and Joe all got their calls! I wish Joe didn’t have to come home though. That’s no fun at all! Austin will have a fun time in SLC. It’s actually a really high baptizing mission. You’d think everyone was either Mormon or totally against the Church, but SLC has a lot of people who are ready to hear the Gospel!

I’m glad you’re starting work Mom! That will be nice to have a little more money now! Just buy a couple fireworks, like a 10 dollar pack. Just go watch someone else light them so we can save money haha. And I’m glad Tanner is working and Jake sounds like he is working his tail off. I miss Jake a ton! Tell him Hi and to shoot me a letter on Dear Elder! Also, thanks for getting that letter to Jennica, she sent me a postcard so I have her address now.

That’s cool that Tanner and Dylan are in Virginia now! I’ve met a few Elders who are going to the Richmond mission while I’ve been here.

And why are you glad I’m not going to Japan? You’d rather have me go to a third-world country where I will probably lose way more than the 12 pounds I’ve gained here in the MTC? Japan is such an awesome country and a huge economic center. I love it. (editor’s note: My neice is going on a mission to Northern Japan. After seeing the list of things she needs to get her through the humid summers and the things she needs so she won’t get frost bite during the extreme winters I’m happy Lane will only be dealing with humidity and parasites:) Speaking of politicish things, I couldn’t help but notice a Daily Universe sitting on a desk. It said that two prominant leaders of the GOP were involved in scandals this week and that Mitt Romney is quickly rising to higher leadership positions. That made me and Elder Robinson (The Elder I met in the temple) very happy. Mitt Romney wouldn’t make the best president, but he’s sure one heck of an economist and business man, which is what this country is in desperate need of right now. Maybe people will wise up and pick someone who won’t push our country further into debt in 4 years. But I’m ranting now haha I shouldn’t concern myself with politics. I just hate how our country is rapidly deteriorating. My children are going to be living in a completly different (and worse) country. Anyways!

Elder Holland came! Ah!! It was amazing. The notes I have are the best notes I’ve ever taken here at the MTC. I will try to copy them and send them home because it was an awesome talk. And then just four days later on our Tuesday devotional, Elder Lund came and gave an AWESOME talk that I will use throughout my mission. He is an incredibly smart man and he told us if we would do what he said then we would have twice as much sucess. I want to get out to the field so badly now! But alas, I still have 17 more days.

Yesterday I scored and awesome goal in soccer! I got the ball in the corner, dribbled around an Elder in my zone and shot the ball 20 yards out and it was a rocket into the upper left corner. It reminded me of the game where I had a hat-trick against Caldwell. Good times!

Yesterday I also had a way cool experience in the TRC. We went in for our teaching appointment, and the volunteer we got is from Honduras and speaks about three words of English; table, brother, and sister. So I acted as a translator for my companions the whole time. We had a plan to teach a “person” that they were going to act as. So we started teaching and doing it the way we had been planning to do it all week, but it just didn’t really feel completely right. So Elder Petersen just started talking to HER, not the fake person we were trying to teach. We just talked to her about her life and she asked us to fast for her sobrino.. sorry, I can’t remember the English word. But anyways, he turns 18 this September and she really wants him to go on a mission, but his parents are inactive and he hasn’t been to church since he was probably 9. So we were just kinda talking to her about that. Elder Allen didn’t say a word practically the whole time, and he usually talks and talks, so something was different. After, we found out that he was promted to not speak. Elder Petersen did most of the talking.. well kind of. He asked me a couple times to tell her what he was trying to say, so I got to act as a translator for a few minutes, which was the coolest thing ever. I pretty much understood everything she said. I got the main idea of it all anyways. I’m really blessed to be able to understand natives, which I thank God for every day. It was crazy, especially because she mumbled the whole time. But I translated and it was an awesome discussion. Elder Petersen promised her that if she would keep all the commandments and especially pay her tithing, she would find a job, and then I promised her that her nephew (there! I remembered the English word haha) would come back to the Gospel, wither it be 1 or 20 years. It was such an awesome experience. We really followed the Spirit in that lesson. It seems like every week we end up ditching the plan and teaching the actual person, rather than the fake situation we set up. So we’ve actually never taught the lesson that we planned to teach before, but since we follow the Spirit, we’re doing everything the write way. You have to plan, but when the Spirit tells you to do something else, YOU DO IT. No question. Elder Bednar told us a few weeks ago that if you are living righteously, every good thought or idea that comes into your mind can be considered a prompting. I’ve been trying to follow that advice. I have trouble recognizing the Spirit, but I just do whatever I feel like I’m supposed to do and it always works out, because that’s the Spirit guiding me.

I’ve also been trying to work on talking to everyone I meet. Since Elder Petersen has therapy for his ankle 3 times a week, I sit in a doctor’s office for 2 hours once or twice a week, and I made it a commitment to say hi to everyone that walks through the door. I’ve had some good conversations with complete strangers! I’ve never been able to talk to people very well in my life, so it’s crazy that I’m doing it now! But most of the people that come in are LDS, so it makes it a little easier to talk to them because they’re more interested in talking to me. But once I’m on that airplane, I’m teaching whoever I sit next to!

Well, I’m pretty much out of time. I hope you all have a great 4th of July! Everyone who reads this should write me a letter through DearElder.com! Missionaries love letters more than food (and we LOVE food, just look at my 12 pounds that I’ve gained here). Letters are pure gold, and we will love you forever if you write! I love you all!

Con amor,
Elder Lane D. Sawyer