Well well well.... Another week has come and gone!!!! This week was really a whirlwind! It seemed like an eternity and like no time passed at all at the same time! So, I have learned that that is kind of how the mission is, but I am still not used to it! I hope you all enjoyed the Easter weekend.
This week Hermana Bu came and visited us. Well she actually was waiting for her new companion from the MTC to get here. She stayed with us from Monday to Wednesday morning. It is so much fun to be in a trio. We stayed up till about 2:00 every night just talking. OHH that made the 6:30 alarm was the worst... but we got to catch up on our sleep today. It was really fun being with Hermana Bu this week, she started her mission the same time I did. She was there in the Airport and she and I were together for two days at the beginning of our missions. I couldn’t speak ANY SPANISH and we both were scared to death.
She really has grown into a great missionary and I hope that she can say the same for me. We shared experiences about the mission and how things have changed for us and how much we feel like we have grown. She even told me that she was surprised about how well my Spanish is. That was THE biggest compliment. She saw how I was when I started and so it was nice to hear her nice words and just having her stay with us…this is an exciting time in our missions, when the president has trusted us enough to train new missionaries. To have someone to talk to that is at the same point of the mission that you are is just great. As a missionary you are always either learning from someone, or in a small way in a position over someone, you don’t necessarily feel that you can be a ‘peer’ with your companions and it is great to talk to someone that knows exactly what you’re saying!
She also told me something really really funny about the very first day in Ecuador that I never knew. When I arrived at the airport here in Ecuador I had some minor setbacks. All the missionaries from the Colombia MTC arrived an hour earlier than my flight. Well even though they arrived only an hour earlier you have to take into account going through customs and having people check your passport.... And when I got to Ecuador there was NO ONE in the entire airport who spoke any English... I don’t know what the deal was but I was delayed almost 45 minutes by some guy checking my passport and asking me stuff I didn’t understand. So the customs check took even longer than it normally does!
So two hours later I finally got out of the Airport. And found the bus waiting for me. It was full of new missionaries who had been WAITING--ForEVER!!! Hermana Bu was in that bus and she explained her side of the story. She was sitting in the bus with 10 Elders from the MTC for TWO HOURS WITHOUT AIR CONDITIONING. She then told me that when I finally came out of the airport doors, with the President and his wife and the assistants, all of the Elders in the bus started shouting saying, "Wow! Look, look! There she is!!!" "Wow she is so pretty!" She said they all were pressed up against the windows like they had been stuck on a bus for 2 hours! Ha-ha! She said it was pretty funny to watch. I thought it was funny too, if not a little embarrassing, I couldn’t believe that the President made them wait in the bus for two hours... That seems like cruel and unusual punishment!! I’m sure he didn’t think it would take as long as it did. It was funny hearing her side of the story.
The other great thing that happened this week was…EASTER!! I guess I can tell you how Ecuador celebrates Easter.
Here they call it the Semana Santa, or the Holy Week. Since there are so many Catholics down here the Catholic traditions have kind of become the traditions for everyone. Not too many years back, the Catholics didn’t eat dark meat during the whole week they just ate fish. That is the first tradition... No meat. On Sunday before Easter, on Palm Sunday they all go to church with Palm branches to recognize that special day. Then on Friday, Saturday or Sunday they have this soup called Fanesca... Well it has 12 grains and it is such a heavy soup and it has fish... Not the best combination if you ask me but it was interesting. On Friday everyone walks to seven different churches to remember Christ and his suffering. Then on Saturday you can’t shower because if you do you will turn into a fish... I don’t know how that tradition got slipped in there but there it is. And on Sunday everyone goes to church....
Now I know you are asking yourself, where are the Easter eggs and the candy and the Easter bunny? Well I asked the same question... They don’t do any of that. And when people asked me what I do for Easter if felt kind of dumb saying... Well we paint hard-boiled eggs, and on Sunday morning we have a basket that an Easter bunny fills with chocolate bunnies and eggs and... Everyone seemed to be waiting for something more. And as I thought about it I was a little bit chagrined as well! But that is what we do... I assured them that we go to church on Sunday to remember the Savior. But one Pastor of a different faith abruptly asked me... "Do you even believe in Jesus?" I laughed because it was kind of hard to respond to him because he couldn’t stop mentioning the Easter Bunny. How did the Easter Bunny get in there anyway?!?! That’s a pretty good question!
Then on Sunday when my companion and I went to church with our new converts we were expecting at least one talk directed to the theme of Easter... but not one speaker talked about Easter... If that isn’t a crime I don’t know what is!! All of our recent converts after church kept asking... "It’s Easter Sunday right?".... Yes... yes it is. OK, Speakers, we get that we celebrate Easter every Sunday when we take the Sacrament, but can’t we make a special mention of it? I think it’s worth that!!
On another note, I am getting really excited for General Conference to come. There isn’t a time that is more valued by missionaries than General Conference time. I have never been so excited for General Conference in my life!!! And I hope all of our investigators come so that they can really feel the spirit while hearing Apostles and our Prophet speak. What a blessing it is to have a living Prophet on the earth today.
I hope that you all had a wonderful Easter and I am so grateful that we can remember this time for our Lord and Savior. If it were not for Him we would have no way of returning back to live with our Father in Heaven again. I am so grateful for his sacrifice and I am so glad to be in His service. I have learned so much during this time as a missionary and I have so much more to learn.
I love you all more than I miss you!
Have a great week.
Love Hermana Welch #1 (Jess)