As many know, having a missionary go, serve, and come home is a tremendous experience. We will love seeing his skinny body but will hate not getting his Monday email. As parents of Easton, Lea Ann and I, recognize the many wonderful and influential people who took time to make a difference in Easton's life. You truly have and this include family and friends alike. We are so grateful and humbled. Easton will be arriving in SLC next Tuesday evening at 8:30PM, May 31st, and be back in Monticello on Thursday June 2nd. He will report his mission in his home ward of Monticello 1st ward on June 12th at 9AM. We invite all to join with us at either reunion. Again, thanks for being a positive influence in Easton's life. We will be eternally grateful.
Hola, well I have a surprise. This is my last letter as a full time missionary. Next week with trainings and things I will only have limited time and I doubt I'll be writing a big letter since I'll see everyone the next day. So this is the last letter. Though this is my last week it appears the fun may not be over. As of last Wednesday we have had our emergency evacuation plan sitting on the go button. There has been some recent earthquake activity and there is fear that the gran finale of earthquakes is yet to come. I hope not, but there is a possibility. Last Wednesday at 3 am there was an earthqauke of 6.8 in Esmeraldas that we felt fairly strong. It's still a worry but I doubt anything is going to happen. It's been a fun two years though. It's hard to believe all that's happened. I've been rained on by the ash of an erupting volcano, lived on the shores of flooding rivers, and seen the devastation that a 7.8 earthquake has had on a country that has been left in peices, broken and bleeding. I have been apart of baptisms everywhere from the waterfalls of the jungle in Ecuador to inflatable pools in the dirt floor of a living room where a mother dying of cancer didn't want to miss the baptism of her daughter. I have eaten Pirhanna, giant worms, beetles, armadillo, guinea pig and much more and I have found myself at gun point and knife point of many different robbers, but time after time we escaped without harm. I have gotten to know some of the coolest cultures that exist, and I'm incredibly grateful for everything I've been apart of. I never imagined that I'd experience all that I've experienced in these two years. Though I've had many temporal experiences I've had many more experiences that have helped my testimony grow over these last two years. One of the which I had just yesterday. When Jeffrey R Holland spoke to the Otavalo Stake he stated that the Otavaleñan people have "A Legendary Faith." I learned about an experience that the members had when they were building the chapel that I go to. The members have built four of the chapels in Otavalo. While they were building this chapel, they were often stoned and spit on and much more. There was a lot of opposition in building this chapel. One of the men that threw the rocks and stones and sticks at the faithful members building their church had is house burn down completely and he had nowhere to go. The very first people the came to his aid were the very people that he had stoned and rejected and reviled. They were the faithful members of the church that suffered so much to build that chapel. Yesterday I met one of the very members that was stoned by that man and later went to rebuild his house. For 38 years he has been doing things like this and he is not alone. I believe that that is what Elder Holland meant when he said this people has a "Legendary Faith." This member, in Kichwa we had a translator, began to tell us about the first member in Otavalo who died last year. All the members looked at him almost like a father because he led the rise of the church here for most of his life. When he died, he said that he couldn't believe what he'd seen and what had happened in such a short amount of time. He was the fist patriarch in the city of Otavalo, and he, according to what his family members and the members here in Otavalo tell me, was a visionary man. I talked a little about this in the call, but his closest friends and family have told us that the first member in the city of Otavalo had some divine help from some of the very prophets of old with the which God covenanted to take the gospel to the Lamanites. Yesterday we heard that he had certain experiences with Moroni and Nephi in the which he was guided in helping many of the members here in Otavalo. Right now I am working among the purest descendants of Lamanites that walk the Americas and whether or not the experiences that I've heard from these people are all true, I testify that God is fulfilling the covenant that he made with his prophets of old. I have taken the Book of Mormon to the very people it was written to and I have seen with my own eyes how God is bringing this people to the truth. For two years I have had a front row seat in watching these things come to pass in our day, and I know without any doubt that the Book of Mormon is true and that God and his angels continue to work in our day. Over the last two years I have learned that there really isn't anything nor anybody that can keep us from achieving what we wish to achieve in mission work. I love this work so much. I have had the opportunity to pass through some hard sectors in these last two years but I have seen that as the opposition grows so does the miracle that's just around the corner. This last one as definitely strengthened my testimony of that. There had been 3 baptism in 3 years according the ward records here and everytime
I have thought that my sector is hard, I can't help but consider the sector of Jesus Christ. His sector was pretty hard too. We can all read about much of the opposition that he faced, but what I most like about the story is what he said before he was sent. He simply said, "Here am I, send me." He did it not for recognition nor for pride, but because he trully loved everyone. Thinking about that has always strengthened me in the hardest moments. I know that he lives and loves us. I know that he suffered for the sins of everyone, so that we have a chance to achieve everlasting happiness. This last week I had my second to last interview with Pres Richardson. He was in Otavalo. It was a cool interview. We got to the end and fighting emotions I thanked him for being a mission manual mission president because though there were a lot of things that other missions don't apply, it was those small things that helped me grow the most. He then replied and it was his turn to fight the emotions, "Elder Nielson, I want you to know that if Christ himself were here, he'd put his arm around you and say well done thou good and faithful servant." I look back on these last two years knowing I gave it all and I was definitely happy to hear those words. Being a missionary has been the greatest experience of my life, and I wouldn't trade it for anything. I know this is the only true church and that Jospeh Smith was a prophet. I know the Book of Mormon is true and that it continues to change lives today. I love you guys and I'll see you all next tuesday!
Hey family and friends what's going on? It's weird to think that this is my second to last letter to you guys before I come home, but here we go I guess. So this week we worked really hard trying to get our investigators to church this week because they needed to attend. Well they didn't and now all of their bapt dates have fallen into June. It appears that baptisms in my sector have come to end during my time in Ecuador. We gave it everything we had but we came up short. I can't say I feel bad though. In a sector with a history of no confirmations in my time we have seen 7. It's been a fight for everyone of them, but day by day we earned each and everyone of them, and the two wards are very excited right now. There will a few that can still get baptized after I go so I guess I had to leave some for the next guy. We have been blessed though. I look back on these two years with no regrets. I have given it everything I have to give and I have seen many miracles. The work is going forth and you can't feel badly about that. I've gotten to know some amazing cultures and people that will forever bless my life. This last week we went to the Peguche waterfall and it was cool. We had fun. It's a cool waterfall. Now I'm just looking to leave the guy who replaces me some investigators. I love you guys, I'll talk to ya next week.
Hi family and friends! Well there isn't much to say that I didn't say yesterday. We had a baptism this last Friday and it was awesome. We are super stoked for the success we are having. I'm going out with a bang, Can't feel bad about that! Today we are hedading to the waterfall in Peguche so I'm not gonna be on for a ton of time, but I'll be here next week. Life is good. My comp is good. I'm just trying to finish strong and leave the sector prepared for the next guy who comes. It's been an incredible ride over here. I feel good though. I love you guys and I'll talk next week. Hasta luego
Hola familia and Friends! Whats up? It's weird to think that I can count on one hand how many more letters I'll write home. Never thought that day would get here. Things are pretty good over here. We had three baptisms here. We set the record for baptisms in this ward because in Imbabura ward there hasn't been a baptism in two years, and we are about to throw down six in May. So we feel pretty good about that. In Compania ward we have three that are close, so I could go out with a pretty good bang. Just have to hope and pray. The mother of my companion got baptized on Saturday in Peru. That was cool. His whole family is now members. He was the very first to be baptized almost two years ago. He had some legit experiences that lead to him getting baptized as well. This Sunday I'll have to tell you all about them. In the baptismal service this last Friday Fabiola Ascanta and two of her three daughters got baptized and they were super happy. The mom was in tears after the baptisms. It was amazing. The only thing I could think of was that I don't want to stop being a missionary. Seeing how the gospel changes lives is the best experience ever. In the face of someone who really begins to understand there is a great change and a great happiness that I have been blessed to see many times in these last 2 years. This work is awesome. I love it so much. The hour is nigh though. I'm going to take advantage of my last weeks of work as a missionary. I love you guys. I'll talk to ya on Sunday at 4 o clock my time, 3 o clock your time. Chao!
Hola Familia and friends! This week was busy but it was good. We are hoping for four baptisms this coming week. The Ascanta family is finally turning the corner. We are super happy. My comp is going to baptize for the first time as a missionary as well so I'm pretty excited. He is as well. The update on the earthquake, you guys probably know more than I do. All I know is the death count is up around 700 right now. The coast is devastated. Pedernales, Portoviejo and Manta don't even exist anymore. We heard the other day that the stink of the dead bodies is super strong so everyone is trying to get out. It's a pretty sad situation of here. What is surprising me a lot though is that the country is bouncing back pretty well. All over the country there are programs to get food and water and supplies out there and the country is really rallying right now to get aid out there as fast as possible. With the wounded the casualties are up around 10,000, so it was a serious deal, but they are trying to bounce back,. It's inspiring! I'm feeling pretty good. The district is looking super well for May. It appears that I may go out with a bang. It's weird to think it's almost gone but man I can't complain. I don't have words to explain how grateful I am for the experience I've had here. Very few can say they've seen and experienced what I have. I love this country so much. It's super cool. I have seen some pretty awesome miracles in my time here as well. It's been a great blessing. It truly has been the best two years both of my life and for my life. Without a mission I don't know what I'd do nor where I'd be. It wouldn't be as good though. Two weeks ago, I forgot to tell you guys, I did a baptismal interview. I had to have a translator because the sister only spoke Kichwa. Throughout the interview she had a Book of Mormon in her hands and she wouldn't let it go. I asked her through the translator if she had read some of the Book of Mormon. I was confused because very few can read in my sector. They've never had education. She replied saying she couldn't read, then an inspired question just popped into my mind. I asked "How do you feel to have the Book of Mormon in your hands?" She replied "Every time I pick this book up I feel an emotion that almost moves me to tears." It was a powerful moment for me, an older Panigo that couldn't read a word wouldn't let the book go just because of what she felt to have it her hands. I couldn't help but think that the book was written for her. It is the very people that the Book of Mormon prophets saw two thousand years ago, and it truly is changing their lives today, Even those who can't read it. It's amazing to see the power that this book really has. That book has made it from New York in 1830 to houses of stacked blocks with dirt floors where chickens and people live together as if they were family in our day.! It's truly amazing to think of all God has done in a short amount of time! I love you guys,
Hola familia and friends. This week was good until saturday night, then it turned not so good. The earthquake was massive over here. It was only like a 6.5 magnitude where I'm at, but it leveled the coast. There are 3 cities that got rocked pretty hard but none are in our mission. Esmeraldas got hit pretty hard as well, but not anything like Portoviejo or Manta. All the missionaries are doing well in both missions, so that's a great relief. Nothing too bad happened in Compañia. We definitely felt it loud and clear, but nothing happened to us or to our house or anything. Lots of prayers out to the coast though. I have a lot of friends out there, so I hope they made it out just fine. There are hundreds of dead and wounded, and an entire mall went down on top of everyone inside in Manabi. They still haven't been able to do the count on the dead there but there will be lots. It's a sad deal. The country is pretty shaken up right now. It could have been a lot worse though. Had it hit directly on Esmeraldas, that city is not in any way shape or form ready for a 7.8 earthquake. It would have been desolated completely. Portoviejo is a little more advanced, so it took it better than Esmeraldas would have. Keep up the prayers, Ecuador got rocked pretty hard this week. Other than that, we had a decent week. Our investigators went to church and then we found a family of 17 who is super awesome, so we are happy. We were in Quito most of the week so we went and visited Narcisa, the one who got baptized last July in La Luz. Her and her husband run a hotel and restaurant that's pretty expensive. Profesional soccer teams stay there when they are in Quito sometimes, and we were eating lunch with them on Thursday and a pro soccer player who is in the national cup right now walked in and sat down at our table. He was from Esmeraldas, so I got a long with him well after having been there, so we got to talking, and out of nowhere he just says,"Hey you guys are Mormons right?" We were like "Ya we are, we are missionaries." He then said," answer me one question, why are there so many churches in this world." So we taught him the restoration right then and there and he said he wanted to get baptized on the 14th of May. It was awesome. He was a super cool guy; he just needs to live in Otavalo instead of Quito. The missionaries in that sector were really stoked when they heard hah. We got to put a baptismal date with a professional soccer player after having lunch with him haha, guess that doesnt happen everyday. It was a good week. We are hoping for success. My time is about gone. What we have right now is everything for me so I'm gonna be workin like crazy too see miracles before the end. It should be fun. Well that's about it for this week. Keep praying for Ecuador, lots of affected people in the coast. I love you guys. Talk to ya next week.
Hola familia and friends, whats up? This week was an alright week. We are experiencing a shortage on investigators right now but we are hoping for new guys pretty soon. We still have one family but that's about it. This time of the year is rough over here because there are lots of parties and it takes a lot of people away. The district is doing good. We are still having quite a bit of success and the month of May is looking super good for us so I might get to go with a bang! We had a funny experience this week. We were contacting people in the street and we passed by a family of three and they rejected us super hard. In my sector they do that, so we are used to it. Well about two hours after we were headed with a member to contact a reference we had received. We get to walking and we turn up the same street where the family of 3 rejected us, there aren't many houses in my sector so I began to wonder. I asked my companion, " What was the guys name that rejected us?" He replied,"Marcos Castañeda." So I ask the member what is the name of the reference, he says"Marcos Castañeda." I really began to sweat when he said that so I asked where he lived, and the member pointed at the exact house we'd contacted 2 hours earlier. I started thinking oh crap, you gotta be joking me. My companion about had a heart attack. Well we get to the door and the guy comes out, sees us, and his face just said " Didn't I tell these I guys I didn't want to listen two hours ago,? My companion and I, with smiles, were just sittin there while he and the member talked in Kichwa for awhile. Well after a few minutes he said we could share something so we did, and after he said we could go back at anytime so we will see what happens. It was an awkward experience but it ended alright so we will just have to see. We are hoping for some success pretty soon. Keep praying for us. I love you guys and I'll talk to ya next week.
Hola familia and friends, this week was awesome, with GC and everything. We are seeing very much progress in the sector, so we are hoping for some good success soon. Oh ya and. . . NEW TEMPLE IN QUITO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We were going nuts over here. I was in the gringo room and we went crazy. I couldn't believe it. For everyone here it was a very joyful announcement, but i honestly feel a third will be announced before that one is finished. The work in Ecuador is going forward like crazy over here. The visit of Elder Holland had a pretty big impact on members and missionaries. We were super excited though. The district is looking good right now as well. I'm getting to that point where I feel like this is it. In April for stake conferences we only have one day to baptize so we are already putting dates that fall into May. I'm less than two weeks from starting the last change. It's starting to kind of set in that this is it. The good thing is this, we have so many people that could get baptized in May. I really want to end with a bang and there is a chance that it could be done. I'm hoping we can pull through. If not, well, I wont see how it comes out but I'll have given my best. The thought of it ending is horrible. I don't want to go home. This is the best life there is. Today we had a zone activity and I ate a bunch of little bugs. I challenged Elder Mcphie and it was awesome. I'm so sad right now. Elder Mcphie and I came to the mission together. I love that guy so much but last night he got transfers. I was super sad; we have had a ton of experiences together. I doubt I'll see him again. I was pretty sad last night but that's how the mission is I guess. I loved the talk by Elder Nelson in the priesthood session. I loved Elder Arnold's talk as well. As a missionary I've learned in a much clearer and personal way that the mission work that is done is not a casual thing that is done for experiences or service, though those are two parts of it. It is much more too me. It truly is the work of and All loving All powerful God who needs disciples that are willing to pay the price to bring back the lost sheep. I wish that people understood that when President Monson said Go to the rescue. He was right; we only go to the rescues. We do not rescue that is not our job. God does the rescuing, but he does it through faithful servants who pay the price to be at the right place at the right time no matter where that place be at whatever time that it may be. That is why we must always be ready and go without delay and never give. I know with out any doubt that angels are preparing these people. There are seen and unseen forces in this work, not just for missionaries, but for active members too, I know that all are truly called to the work though they may not wear a nametag to do so. I feel that if we know any one who fits the description of the "Lost Sheep" that alone qualifies us and calls us to honor the baptismal covenant and be witnesses of Christ at all times! I love this work, I love it with all my heart. I know these things are true. I love you guys and I'll talk to ya next week.
Hola familia and friends! This week was awesome. We had six confirmations in the district and one in our sector which is awesome. I can't even believe what has been happening. When I got here, there had not been an investigator progressing for 6 months and we have had 3 confirmations and we have 4 more progressing. The district had been the most unsuccessful distrcit in the history of the mission. We are now passing entire zones in baptisms and rescues. We are being blessed beyond all belief right now. We have 23 people progressing and a district that has barely 5 or 6 confirmations in a the best months. I love working among this people. Every day we walk with the Covenant the God himself made 2000 yrs ago to take this people the gospel, and it is definitely coming to pass. I'm watching in a front row seat right now. I wish you guys could see what I see everyday out here. It's incredible. The people are unbelievable the work is hastening out here unbelievably fast. This week we barely escaped a pretty scary situation as well. We had been teaching a family of investigators and they were progessing quite a bit. They hadn't attended but they were super close. We were happy. Well we get to ward council on Sunday and a sister walks in and says that we shouldn't visit that family anymore because the husband is in hiding right now for a big scheme he pulled off to not pay child support for his daughter that lives with his first wife. However she also said that the Lawyer that is trying to find his house and put him away, made it to our sector. He had heard that the members had been visiting them and there was suspition that we were helping him hide, so he started going to church waiting to find him there and take him. Had that happened everything would have fallen on the church, and it would have gotten ugly. Well we found out and we completley pulled out of the family and now they are going through with a plan to make sure the ward doesn't fall into anything. We were close to being in a horrible situation, but I think we got out in time. It was nuts when we found out though. They had a baptismal date at one point as well. Here in Compania they have what is called indigenous justice, which is that the Natives punish the accused. That could have been even worse haha. It was nuts but we got out of it all thanks to the members. I'm doing pretty good out here. I'm happy. I love my companion. Things are going well. Im learning more and more Kichwa everyday so life is good. I love you guys and I'll talk to ya next week.
This blog is dedicated to Easton Nielson's mission to Ecuador Quito North Mission.