Monday, March 24, 2014


Hello family!
First of all, I am absolutely in the most beautiful place in the world. This week, we ventured to a place called la Cayambe, which is a tiny little town in the middle of the banana and rice and fruit fields. We have to travel twenty minutes to a town called La Esperanza and from there we climb onto a big truck. It`s kinda like a semi, but instead of having a big thing on the back, it has a bunch of wooden benches. So it`s an open drive and we go for an hour through the rice and fruit fields with the rivers winding through the fields and trees and I just sat there and said WOW for an hour. I wish I could take my camera and show you just how gorgeous it is, but it`s dangerous there are night and we never know when the trucks are going to pass by, so I don`t take my camera because I don`t want to get robbed. But wow. It`s gorgeous. 
This week, everyone decided that I`m the coolest person ever (I don`t know why it took them so long to figure it out, but better late then never I suppose)
Seriously. The girls from the ages of 6 to 18 especially love me. They just think I`m the bees knees. I don`t know why exactly, or why they decided this week, but so it is. 
I gave a talk yesterday. They assigned me to speak for ten minutes and who would have ever thought that I would go over my time?! I spoke for more than ten minutes straight in spanish. Please marvel over this with me.
Transfers came and went, and me and Hermana Guitarra remain. We are in the land of desolation. It`s been tough because the other pair of hermanas in our ward will have had 9 baptisms just this month, and we`re at zero... Awkward. Yesterday the bishop was just like.... "so... uh.... what do you guys do all day? Why don`t you have baptisms?" We don`t really know what else to do though, so we just continue onward and praying for a miracle!
The bishop and his family are still my favorites. We continued making plans for when I return to Ecuador to visit them with my rich pilot husband. Also, they think I know how to make pizza just because I`m American. I convinced them that it would be better if we made pancakes (I have mastered pancakes. Need to work on pizza still).
Attatched is a photo of Hermana Guitarra, Lina Velasco who looks gringa but is colombian, and me. Lina is the wife of the first counselor. She`s 24 and kinda my best friend here. She reminds me A LOT of Brittney. A LOT. And her husband reminds me a bit of Daniel which is just a little weird. 

The Hermanas in my zone!
Hermana Jerónimo from Guatemala, Hermana Blacutt from Bolivia, Hermana Scott from Provo (She lived in Spain and already speaks Spanish perfectly. Jealous.) Hermana Fajardo from Honduras, me, and Hermana Guitarra.

Elder Ugarte, my district leader from Peru (he loves practicing his English) Elder Torres from Peru (he calls me Hermana Burbuja because I really like saying burbuja which means bubble) and the Hermanas in my district.  
Three of my biggest fans. They really love me. They sing Justin Bieber and the new Miley Cyrus song to me. 

This picture is for the sisters. The little girls in the ward keep giving me "mini bum" candy. If you don`t think that`s funny, you`re wrong. 

Monday, March 17, 2014


I`m afraid that this week was one of the most difficult of my mission. Our numbers are incredibly low, and it`s a little discouraging because the rest of our zone is having tons of success. I`m not even kidding, as a zone we`re probably going to exceed our goal, even though me and my comp haven`t had a single baptism. I`m happy for everyone else, but I would like to join in on all the fun!

We are at a very difficult place right now, because we`re not receiving references and the people that we do meet aren`t interested or say that they`re interested and then hide from us. We spent lots and lots of time walking this week! 

One day we were in a town called La Esperanza. It`s part of my sector but the missionaries haven`t worked in there for a while, and it`s called Hope, so we figured we better check things out. Anywho one day while we were there we heard someone saying "Mormonas." We turned around to see a woman.  She told us that she was super catholic but that she liked talking to us and that she was really fond of my eyes, but that she wasn`t interested in what we had to say. She was really nice about it though, and she told us that her son needed to be saved, because he professes to be atheist.

Turns out, he`s not atheist, he just doesn`t attend the catholic church. But he`s really fun and we like teaching him because he has LOTS of questions and he actually pays attention and understands things, but he can`t come to church on Sundays which is really a bummer. At the end of a lesson he pulled out his phone and said "Selfie!" and took a selfie with us and I don`t know, something about hearing the word selfie being spoken by a guy named Luigi was really funny and brightened my day.
We also have another couple that needs to get married. We taught them about the Restoration a bit and gave them a Book of Mormon and then kinda forgot about them for a while because they went on vacation. Anywhoooo, we decided to visit them one day and they told us that they had been reading the Book of Mormon every day and saying their prayers morning and night. Whaaaa! That doesn`t usually happen with the people that we see every day let alone people that we haven`t visited in four weeks. So that was fun. The problem is getting them to understand that if the Book of Mormon is true, then la iglesia de Jesucristo de los Santos de los Últimos Días is the true church, because here the people have the idea that if it talks about God, it´s true, but it can`t all be true! We would like to explain this more to them, but the husband likes to talk more than anyone I have ever seen. In a forty-five minute visit, I think we said 15 sentences. I`m not kidding. So it`s a slow process with them, but they`ve already attended church and we hope that with time they will understand and get married!

Now I will answer the questions from Pa and conclude with a photo of me and Hermana Guitarra.
What is the difference between Milagro and Valencia?

Valencia, where I am now, is much much much smaller. Milagro is huge and is a busy bustling city. Valencia is quiet (for Ecuador at least) and there aren`t people in the streets! We didn`t knock on doors much in Milagro, because everyone was always outside visiting and talking and partying, and it`s much easier to speak with people already out and about because there`s less pressure to always have something to say, it can be more like a normal conversation. Here, the streets are empty and the people hidden. Also, here, everyone works in bananeras. Banana fields and factories what not. I have started a collection of banana stickers, this collection is currently my most prized possession haha. The whole bananera thing makes things difficult because it means that the only times that people are home with their families are from 6:30 and on, but we can`t visit everyone in these two hours between six thirty and eight thirty. It makes for very long, hot afternoons! I am super tan by the way. You will note in the photo. Here, there is also way more problems with the law of chastity. Nobody is married and there isn`t much respect for women here. There`s LOTS of infidelity and lots of teenage pregnancies, as well as relationships that you can see right away aren`t good.  My heart breaks multiple times a day. Yesterday we met a girl who was 17 years old and pregnant with her 3nd child. Her "spouse" is almost 50 and already has children older than her. 

The food doesn`t agree with me here haha. They like to mix lots of things together and make intricate salads and soups, but with less flavor. This is not just me complaining; this is something that they all admit, that the food in other places is better.
The ward covers Valencia and a few other towns outside of Valencia. It`s a huge area compared to my area in Milagro. We travel fifteen minutes or so to la Esperanza and our sector goes even farther than that. The stake is pretty big too, the stake center is in the city of Quevedo, about an hour away. We travel there every Tuesday for district meetings. Quevedo is more like Milagro.

We also go to Quevedo every P-Day to grocery shop and what not. There are four zones in Quevedo so the mall there (which includes the grocery store... Funny, huh?) is absolutely swarming with missionaries every Monday. It`s really fun to go and eat lunch in the food court and see all the missionaries and all the people being really confused haha.

My time is far spent, but keep the prayers a-coming, I`m fasting and praying tomorrow for a miracle here in Valencia so we can have investigators and so I´ll have lots of nice things to say in the next email.
Thanks for writing, write me on Sundays so you don`t forget!
Love you all, tell Brando happy birthday and that if he desires, there`s a young single mom with the cutest child ever that is quite taken with him (the mom, not the child) that is willing to move to the US haha.

Yeah, that`s all. I love you all!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014


Hmmm this week. What´s happened this week...

Monday, we contacted. All night. (well... from six to eight thirty). I spoke tons of Spanish that day. I was really proud of myself. My weakness has always been just talking with people. I can teach the Restoration in Spanish no problem, but just having a conversation is hard for me (in English and Spanish!). So I was really proud of myself that day!

I forgot to mention, but Saturday through Tuesday was Carnaval. Apparently this holiday has some sort of traditional background, but nobody remembers why they celebrate Carnaval. So people throw water and eggs and powder and stuff on each other these four days, but no one really knows why, it´s just what they´ve always done.  Anywho, the people in Valencia all went to the rivers and stuff to play Carnaval all day, so they didn´t really bother us too much. But we were in the bus on the way back to Valencia from Quevedo after our District meeting, and I was sitting at the window, with the window open. Every once in a while a truck would drive by with tons of teenagers and youth in the back of the car with water guns and stuff to throw on the people, so when I saw them coming I´d close the window so they wouldn´t throw water on me. The bus was stopped at a stoplight when a commercial truck drove up and stopped next to us, with the passenger window right next to my window, but sitting in the passenger seat was an old man of 70 or so years, so I didn´t close the window. We were stopped at this light for a minute or so, and right when the bus started moving forward this super old dude took the cap off his water bottle and threw it all right in my face. So that happened. I was surprised. But it was really hot and I knew it was clean water so I didn´t mind it.

Tuesday we also talked to the coolest guy ever. He´s 50 or so, and he plays guitar. He sits out on the sidewalk with his guitar and sings as loud as he can. His name´s Guillermo, and he told us he won´t attend the church, but to call him if we ever have an activity or talent show. He´s got a huge mole right in the center above his lip, so he has a permanent Hitler stache. I´m not sure I´m painting the picture of him right, but just trust me that he´s cool.

Wednesday I had an intercambio with Hermana Fajardo de Honduras, who is just like you Mama! Everyone once in a while she´ll do or say something and I´ll think "wow, that´s exactly like Mom." It was so fun! She is super enthusiastic, and she treats everyone like they´re her best friend. We were waiting for the parents of a family they are teaching to arrive, and so while we were waiting we played volleyball with the kids in a field outside their house, and it was so fun. First of all, the ball was half deflated and super hard, so it hurt like crazy, but it was worth it. At lunch, we got served the weirdest soup ever. Here in Ecuador, the soup is like.. the vegetables in the US. You have to eat your vegetables if you wanna eat the mashed potatoes or whatever. Here, you have to eat the soup if you want the rice. They don´t say this to the missionaries of course, but it´s the general courtesy and rule that you eat the soup. The soup was plaintains mixed with hunks of cheese and egg. It was super heavy, and it smelled weird, and I did not want to eat it: Hermana Fajardo told me that she´s never been met with something that she didn´t eat, but that there was no way she was eating this soup. So she waited for the mamita to leave and in thirty seconds she dumped the soup down the drain and didn´t get caught. It was majestic. But the mamita didn´t leave again so I had to choke down my soup. It was bizarre. I asked other people if they had ever tried this soup and they said too that it was odd.

Also, they have an investigator named John Bravo. Johnny Bravo.
The next day, a clown kept bothering me on a bus. It was scary. Then when we couldn´t get off the bus because there were too many people, the clown´s friend announced that Hermana Rousht needed to get off so please clear the way. That part was nice. 

Thanks for the love and prayers and support!
Love you all!

* When I asked Natalie if she had received the missing Christmas packages, she sent the following report:

Kims yes, around New Years!.. Horitos... no. Danielle´s got here last week. Hilliams yes, a while ago. I loved them all! But they´re still coming! Danielle used the red postage sticker, which costs more and takes more time, so if the Horitos used the red sticker than it will probably come. I´m also in one of the areas farthest from the mission home, so it takes about a month to get from the mission home to me, and to get from Guayaquil to the mission home is also a few months. So it doesn´t mean that the packages are lost. Just very slooooooooooow.   It is fun getting them as they come and I thank everyone for thinking of me!! 
As for the pictures..... I don´t really have anything to take pictures of...   I´ll try to take more pictures! 
I can hardly believe that tomorrow I will have been here 6 months..: One third of the way done. I still feel like I just got here.

Monday, March 3, 2014


Hello family! I was hoping that this week I would have lots of wonderful spiritual experiences to share with you that would help you guys catch the spirit of missionary work and all that.... but alas.... we haven´t investigatores. I set apart a little square in my agenda cada día to help me have at least one thing to say for each day so here goes my random little letter.

I started my one-thing-a-day on Tuesday, so Monday will remain a mystery (mostly because I don´t remember last Monday).

Tuesday we have our district meetings. But first a little back up. About two weeks ago I wrote a very long and honest letter to the mission president about all the things that were stressing me out and that I didn´t like about the new area and how some things were done here. I was very honest and frank with the president, and I´m afraid I might have been pretty blunt because I´m not sure how to sugar coat things in Spanish still. Anyway, I told the mission president that I felt pressured to baptize children that didn´t understand what they were doing and didn´t have the support of their families (they all have permission, but permission and support are very different things) and that I felt pressured to go for the easy children baptism all for the sake of meeting a goal. I was very frank. I told him everything. Two days later, our zone leaders call to tell us that we will be having interviews the next morning with the president. I was scared to death! I was worried that he didn´t like what I said, that he would chastise me or something, I don´t know! So I prayed very hard all night that I would be able to talk to him openly and understand and all the jazz.
The next morning, our leaders called us again to tell us that we wouldn´t be having interviews. Tuesday, they told us that instead, Presidente Amaya had a training meeting for all of the leaders in the four zones in this area to address some concerns he had. Imagine my surprise when one section of the meeting he expressed concerns in the same order and phrased very similarly to the concerns I expressed in my email before. I´m not kidding. I think he may have just printed off my email and read portions of it. When our zone leaders were telling us what Presidente Amaya told them so we could write down his counsels and what not, Hermana Guitarra my companion was just like, "This is everything you said to me when you got here" and I told her "that´s because I said all of that to Presidente too." So my concerns are being addressed, and I guess the Presidente actually does read all the hundreds of emails he receives every week. So that´s what I got for Tuesday. 

Wednesday, he bishop accompanied us. Let me tell you, the bishop and his family might be my favorite people ever. They think I´m hilarious and have already offered their home for when I return to Ecuador (it´s been established that we as a group have lots of faith that I will return and with faith we can do all things, therefore I will come back and I will probably marry a pilot, according to their predictions and suggestions). Anyway, when he accompanies us, he can teach things in a way that is very direct but spiritual at the same time, so hopefully he will accompany us more often.
Thursday was the food day. An hermana in the ward used to feed the elders every week, but they she got sick so "had the missionaries taken away from her" but now she is able. SO she invited us to eat at her house. She´s used to feeding elders. When we got there, I was given a plate of lasagna, and I kid you not, my portion of lasagna was about four inches high and a square about 8 inches long on each side. It was huge, and it was accompanied with three slices of toasted bread and a separate heap of rice. I thought I was going to die, but I ate all of it except the rice. I´m not too fond of rice, especially with bread and pasta. I was feeling proud of myself and very full, when she brought out ice cream and cookies (there´s always room for ice cream though). Right after this gargantuan meal, we went to go visit a woman who had been investigating the church last year with Hermana Lina (a colombian of 24 years who I adore). Her birthday had recently passed, and she still had cake left over, so we were given cake, and candy, and these strange little sweets things that had been in an open container in her fridge so they had the lingering flavor of onions. I thought I was going to puke, but we can´t turn things down! So I choked it all down and then she gave us soda to wash it all down. Sugar overload. I really did think I was going to barf. So much food in the space of so little time! But I conquered. I think once I´m off the mission, I will never touch soda again. We get served loooooots of soda. They usually make fresh juices and stuff (which I LOVE) for their families but soda I think is more "special", so while I prefer the juice, I receive the soda.

Friday.... I got nothin. We don´t have investigators, so we taught less active members, which is stressful, because lots of them have resentments towards members and we have to try to stop them from talking bad about other people and ooh it´s stressfulñ!

Saturday the bishop accompanied us again, and it was like I was in my 12 semanas training again. We contacted once, and then he told us what was good, what we needed to do better, and that we were going to do another practice. It really was exactly what I did once a week with the zone leaders in my 12 semanas verificacion, except it was more fun.  That night we also had a noche de hogar with some of the members from the ward counsel in the home of a less active member and I´m not sure what, but something I did was very funny.

Yesterday was interesting. There are four hermanas serving as missionaries, and the other three all got up and bore their testimonies, which left everyone looking at me expectantly. Lina, aforemencioned adored colombian, was sitting behind me tugging my braid, Hermana Fajardo (missionary who I also adore) was whispering to me, the bishop and his counselor were just sitting their looking at me, and almost the entire Hualpe family sitting in front of us turned and just stared at me.
So I went. And all anyone said afterwards was that I was biiiiieeeen rojita. Very red. I was shaking like crazy and I have the terrible habit of forgetting spanish when I am in front of lots of people, so it was rather rough.

ANyway, this is my week! I love you all, thanks for the prayers, help out the missionaries in your wards please! They need it!
Hermana Rust