Monday, December 28, 2015

First Christmas in Ecuador

The best part of our Christmas!
He had a little trouble speaking English - and his Spanish sounded awesome!
Well, Christmas was great!! Best part was talking to my family back at home; shoutout to the fam! Love you guys so much. 

How did my Christmas go? Well, after talking to the fam, we ate Christmas dinner with two different families. (the members are so great here.) Not only did we eat dinner there, but lots of members gave us food for the night and stuff. I guess they just want to fill in the space that we left back at home with our own families and be ours in the mission (if that makes sense). After we ate and gathered all our supplies, we left to go stay the night with some other missionaries in our district. The whole time, we played card games and board games that the members let us borrow and watched a couple of Disney movies. (dont worry, we had permission from the President). We had to stay in all of Christmas day because people aparently just go nuts on the holidays. Still awesome though!

I hope you all had a great Christmas. I hope that we dont forget the importance of this special time of year. However, not only in this time of year, but for ever and always. Christ was born to be our Savior, but it is because of His life that we have reason to rejoice. What He taught us, what He did for us, cannot be bought with a price, but in reality is an infinite gift. I love my Savior!! And He loves me, just as He does with each and every one of God´s children. Love you all, and take care, and have an awesome New Year!!

One of these things is not like the others.....But he feels like he fits right in!
Jonny told us that when he goes to get his haircut, they all fight over who gets to cut that blonde hair!

We are so grateful for the families that help take care of our boy!
Jonny Skyped from this family's home on Christmas Eve.  He is a doctor in his area.  He looked over Jonny's shoulder and said, "Grande Familia!"

Jonny GQ photo bombing his companion.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Merry CHRISTmas

Hey guys! Uncle Steve and Aunt Katharina, if youre reading this, I got your package! I loved all the quotes from "What About Bob," "Rocky," and the prophets and apostles. I was super excited for all that, you guys are the best!

Holy smokes Christmas is almost here!! Down here, everyone is getting geared up for it - but they have their own way of doing it down here. I mean, sure they do all the gifts and presents and stuff, but the celebration, as I have heard, is something pretty wild. They take these Manigotes (or like giant piñatas) and demolish them with firecrackers. They build these things, like I said, as big as buildings sometimes and destroy them (or so I have heard) with explosives. It´s like a pyromaniacs paradise! Too bad I wont be able to see much of it - I will be stuck inside the house after 6:00 on the 24, all Christmas day, and all of new years day as well. At least we have permission to use the board games and stuff of members in the ward:) 

Christmas is something I have always looked forward to. I admit, I had never thought a ton about its relation with the Savior´s birth and whatnot before, but now, especially in the mission, it is everything. Just think, if Christ never came to earth, we really wouldn´t have anything. Not presents for one, but much, much more. 

I have thought a lot about what it really means to say that Christ is our Savior. Sure, because of his Atoning Sacrifice, death, and Resurrection, we can all do the same. That is amazing and wonderful to me! But He is our Savior of so much more. He is our hope. He is our joy. He is the strength we can rely on in our daily struggles. 

No matter how many, no matter how big or small, no matter what kind of struggles we are having, He can SAVE us from them all. He suffered so that we wouldnt have to. He took all of our sins and pains and transgressions upon Himself, so that we could cast them off. He is not only our Savior from physical death, but from everything. And He is there. He will ALWAYS be there, and not just this Christmas season. Never forget Him, because whether you realize it or not, He has never forgotten you. Love you all, and have a Merry CHRISTmas! 

Monday, December 14, 2015

Scriptures (The Word of God) Lead to the Love of God

LOGAN! Felicidades en tu llamamiento misional!! I am so excited for you man. Anyone else reading this: Logan is going to be the best missionary in the entire world-hands down. Georgia doesnt know what is coming for them! 

I got my Christmas package!! I tried to keep it safe until Christmas, but my latin companions opened it for me before I could tell them to wait. I have never been so excited to get ties for Christmas!! I was so excited for that, and everything else! Thanks so much mom!!

So, on the 24th I will be skyping home! It will be at 5:00 p.m. here - I do not know exactly what time that is back at home. I am so excited to see you fam!!! 

We have been working hard this past week with a partial member family. The mom is a less active member, and her three sons have been coming to church with her the past 2 weeks. They love the church and the kids want to be baptised (they are 9, 12, and 14), but the problem is that the dad is Catholic, and doesnt want them to be baptised until they "are old enough to make the decision for themselves." Well, I mean it is good at least that he lets them come to church and all, so I try not to complain to much. We have a lesson with the whole family tonight, and we will see if we can change his mind. 

Spiritual thought: I read 1 Nefi (Nephi) 11:25 and had a hit of personal inspiration. It talks about in Lehi's dream the Iron Rod leads to the Tree of Life and Living Waters. It talks about how the Iron Rod represents the word of God, and how the tree and waters represent the Love of God. The word of God, which are the scriptures, leads to the Love of God, so: if you want to feel more of His love in your life, all you gotta do is read the Scriptues, and they will lead you right to it. Love you guys and stay good!

Monday, December 7, 2015

What is it that you can give to Him this Christmas?

First off_ JACOB!!  whoot whoot man 8 Years old!!! Fetch youre so grown up man! How does it feel to be all "Accountable" and all that? I am so sad you know man. I can't believe i will be missing your baptism man! But I love ya bud. Youre making a big choice, and I know it is the right one bud. Keep up the good example!

Gosh I miss you guys so much! I got to help out a family set up their christmas decorations today, so at least that helped me feel a little bit not so far from home. Too bad they dont use real trees here - oh well. Nothing like Mountain Western Pines. 

Anyways, for Chirstmas we have been doing this thing as a companionship - you know that movie thing the church made of "a savior is born"? I think thats what its called in English, anyways. We have these little cards that say "ha nacido un Salvador," and we have been making contacts with them. Everyone down here believes in Christ, and so it has not been an issue starting the conversation there. We get into stuff like "what has Christ done for you?" or "what has Christ given you?"  and we get some good answers from the people. They love to talk about Him, and why He loves us and stuff. After a while, we put the question in front of them: "and what is it that you can give to Him this Christmas?" They never know quite how to answer that. We then share a brief message with them, give them the card, write down their information, and set an appointment with them for when we can talk with them next, and about the little message. It has been working great so far! We have found some good new investigators and brought them to church with us! 

I love the Christmas spirit - although it isnt quite the same down here as back home, it is something different and special. In a world like this, I, and others as well, are really starting to see that a message of Him can bring light to a troubled place, and hope where there seems to be none. Love you guys and hope you are all doing well! 


Monday, November 30, 2015

KFC for Thanksgiving :)

Hey guys!! How was thanksgiving? Dang i miss that - there isnt such a thing as thanksgiving here. We went to KFC, and that was about as good as it gets down here :p There was kind of a black friday, but nothing has been really crazy down here. 

They say the week from Christmas until New Years is the most wild though - apparently we arent allowed to leave the house for two days or something when that time comes. We have permission to try and bribe the members into lending us their monopoly board games and stuff to keep us company, I think. We will see when it comes to that. 

They make these giant paper machet people and blow them up with firecrackers is what I have heard goes down. But these paper machet people and stuff they make can be ginormous. There are some guys building an Iron Man that is taller than a 4 story building next to one of the churches in our zone, and they have only built from the belly up so far. I will try to take some pictures if I can.

We also visited an iguana park today. I will try to send pictures if I can! we got them to crawl all over my companions and I, which was pretty freaky at first, but turned out super cool! I havent gotten to eat one yet, or any guinea pigs (sorry Sarah), but I am still remaining hopeful.

As for lessons this week, we were able to set a baptismal date with Maria this week! We are shooting for the 2nd of January, if all goes well. She has been to church like 5 times, so we could baptise her this Saturday, but shes got some idea where she wants to start a new life with the new year. Sweet! I´ll take that any other day than not! We also have a baptismal date set for a lady who is less than two weeks from giving birth. (that one might fall for a later date). She is super excited about it though! We´ll see what happens there. 

Well, I miss you guys all so much! Christmas just wont be the same without all the wild adventures in the snow we have back at home, what with pulling sleds behind fourwheelers and stuff. Love you guys and miss you guys! Stay good yall

Monday, November 23, 2015

Ketchup and Mayonnaise

So, to start off, I think I am starting to get used to all the food here. Things that might have sounded a little weird or gross back home seem pretty sensible and idealistic here. My companion taught me this neat trick where i cook up a bunch of ramen and mix it in with ketchup and scrambled eggs and mayonaise. (spelling?) its the best! as a matter of fact, we pretty much mix ketchup and mayo into about everything we eat here. Rice and soup, pretty much. sometimes chicken. I dont know how they do it down here. 

Has Jack Betzold left to Hawaii yet? I havent heard anything on that. Anyone got an update?

Ok, so for the week: This Saturday, my companion and I baptised the brother of Thomas, Joseph. It was a pretty neat experience. He has been through some pretty rough stuff in his life, and we had some work to do to get him to the baptismal font. However, when he came out of the water, just like the others, it was cool to see the way he had changed, and how the past at that point was back behind him. This guy, if you didnt know, is a gym-monkey, and when he hugged me afterward i swear he almost broke me. But other than that, everything went pretty great.

We are working with a lady whose name is Maria del Carmen Tapia. Heres the thing. She has listened to the missionaries a few times, come to church with us 5 or 6 times, and we havent been able to set a baptismal date with her. Well, we set three, but her daughters are very against it, and each time she somehow fell through. In our christmas conference for the mission, we talked about how family history can be essential to helping others convert to the gospel, and so, that is what my companion and i are going to strive for. We have taught her about family search, which she is very interested in, and next, we will teach her about family history and temple work, and how she can do the work for her parents and family, of which many have passed on, in the temple - after she is baptised a member of the church. That might sound kind of funny, but that is the sort of inspiration and revelation my companion and i believe she needs to go forward with faith in the Gospel. 

Well, another week down, about to finish my first 11 weeks in the mission (tomorrow, excluding the time in the MTC). I am loving it, and I love you all and miss you all! 

Monday, November 16, 2015

All is Well...

I was able to catch Jonny online while he was writing and ask him about the car accident last week.  He and his companion were passengers in a taxi and it was a minor accident.  Jonny was in the back seat and was not hurt at all.  Phew!

DUDE Alberto!!! Welcome to the club man! I was so pumped when I scrolled down and saw that picture! I dont know if youll get the chance to read this or not, but I want you to know how happy I am for you! youre on the right track man. Whether you realize it or not, you have just made one of the biggest and best decisions of your life, one that you will never regret, not in this life or the next. Los angeles estan fiestando para ti en los cielos, mi amigo. I love ya man! if you get the chance, write me will ya? (Alberto is a Young Man that was goalie on Jonny's soccer team.  He got baptized here in Middleton on Saturday.  He's originally from Mexico).

Well, theres nothing super crazy going on right now, mostly just preoparing the baptism for the brother of Thomas, Joseph! (funny how the two brothers have the names of the first prophet of the restored church, as well as the living)! They're  both the coolest guys, and I've kind of told you how we met them right? through contacting their mom (not the old lady in the picture). we're working with the rest of the family, some cousins, some friends, and others living around them. We have also found a good bunch of less active members, that are so cool just have such a problem waking up in time for church. Through them, we have been working with their families and friends, and have set baptismal dates for some of them. Just goes to show how one person, or family, can really make a difference in changing the lives of others for the better. 

One of the things missionaries need the most is help form the members. Please, please please continue to invite ´people to meet the missionaries! Share what you know, a brief little testimony of the restored gospel, and it could make a real difference! That's how brigham young was converted, by the way. Love you guys, hope everything is going good back at home, and just know that i am here, i am safe, and i am loving the work!!

Jonny is in an area called Garcia Morena

Thomas Pangonis' Baptism

Ha Ha!  I can tell there has been some tie swapping going on!

You can't take the soccer out of the Missionary!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Keep Those Angels Close!

Opposing Forces....I keep praying that Angels of Safety prevail - any maybe that Jonny gets transferred to an area with NO CARS!  Walking and bicycles sound good to me!

Woah, this has been a great week! pretty crazy, actually, as compared to the last one. I will be somewhat brief, because I am short on time, so.. well, here we go!

So I had my second baptism this week! An 18 year old named Thomas. We met him through contacting his mom. We invited her to general conference way back when, and she came, and thomas decided to come along! since then, hes been super proactive with the lessons, reading the book of Mormon day and night, and Saturday, he asked me to be the one to baptise him! Hes the coolest guy ever, and if i have the chance to send pictures today, i will! were working with the rest of his family right now. his brother has a set date for the 21 of November, and we are working with the parents, but they have some complicated marriage and past divorce/non-divorce problems. maybe ill explain that later. also the cousins and relatives are looking promising too.

So mom, before you freak out, I want you to know that my companion and I are 100% ok. I got in another car accident. it wasnt too bad, just a little sort of bump in the road, but it was enough to shake my companion up pretty good. We had to take a couple of days off while the assistants made sure that we were ok and stuff, but were all fine, mentally and physically! the point is, i dont know if anyone informed you (mom) but just know that I am perfectly safe and sound.

I think its pretty easy to see that there are two separate opposing forces in missionary work. One, Satan and his dirty minions trying to hinder it,two, Heavenly Father taking care of us with his angels. But dont worry, the good always reins triumphant! Just food for thought, gotta go, take care!

"Tranquilo" Halloween, Rice and Soup

Ooops!  I forgot to post this last week!

Hey guys! Another week in the work gone by! This week has been good, although I can't really say that anything super incredible has happened. I mean, yeah we had halloween, but halloween here is very "tranquilo" here. They dont go all out like they do in the united states, just a couple people wearing costumes and stuff here and there. So, we had to just have kinda our own fiesta in our room. Basically, that meant we downed a bunch of coca cola and ate lots of food. Yep pretty sad.

Speaking of food, all we ever eat down here is rice and soup. The funny thing is that these people have thought up a million different ways to cook it. The thing that isnt funny is that its hard to not get fat. So far, Ive been doing alright, but we had a reunion for all the people who have been out for the same time as I have, and you wouldnt believe how much theyve changed. I didnt recognize one of my good friends from the MTC at first because he had really put on some weight. Thats one of the biggest things Im afraid of happening-not so much the fact that theres a possibility some guy might try to chase me down with a machete or something, but the fact that if im not careful i might not be able to outrun him. 

The other problem is my companion doesnt care one bit. I try to get him out of the house every morning to go for a run or something, and I just cant do it. Dont get me wrong, he is a hard worker, and we're doing really well together, but he hates excercise. Maybe when I have a new companion here in 8 weeks or so (because thats how long he has left in his mission) that will be different. Speaking of new companion, theres a chance I might train after I am done with him! 

The thing here is after someone finishes their first 12 weeks here, sometimes president has them train a new missionary. The Assistants to the President came and did an assesment with me, and then later told my companion that I'd be ready to train soon. The problem is i dont know how I feel about that.. like, there is so much i need to learn. not only the spanish language, but scriptures, rules, and the life of the missionary. talking with people, teaching in simple ways that they can understand, and really making a difference. But who knows, if im ready, then i will train. if not, well i wont be very disapointed. Sure, it would be awesome to have my first son (thats what they say in the mission when you train someone), but i hope i can be qualified enough to really help them be a great missionary.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Blessed to Baptize

To start off, shoutout to baby brother David for making it to 17 years!! Felìz cumpleaños muchacho!! Also, way to go at state vikes! happy to hear my home town still has some glory on the soccer field! (kidding) Seriously everything is going well at home! For the most part, everything is going well here too.

I just got done washing all my clothes by hand (yet another reason why I love America), but at least they're actually clean again. I come home every night smelling worse than roadkill, because of how hot it is and how much i sweat from it. 

But speaking of clean, holy cow I had my first baptism this week!
So, we´d been working with some sixteen year old twins for the most part of the 6 or 7 weeks I have been here. Heres the thing-they've been coming to church for their entire lives with their mom, but their dad isn't a member and up until this point he has refused to let them be baptized. Despite all the sets of missionaries and tireless work of the members of the stake, he had never let up. It was to the point that they were worried it might not happen until they could make the decision on their own. 

I would like to say that my companion came in and talked their dad into allowing it to happen, or that some angel like the one that came to Alma the younger came and rocked his world, but the truth is that nothing like that happened. What happened, as far as I know, is that we worked with the twins and their mom, teaching them all the lessons, and he just out of nowhere changed his mind. He just said "ok" one day. But what I dont get is why. What changed in him that made him change his mind? I dont know what really happened, but what I do know is that the Lord works in mysterious ways, and by small and simple things, great things are brought to pass. (Alma 37:6-7) We have prayed and fasted for them, and apart from that we had them write down their testimonies and give it to him for his birthday. Then on Saturday, we went with them down to the baptismal font.

I had the opportunity to baptize Melani, one of the twins, and my companion the other, Milena. Needless to say, I was super nervous leading up to it. This was my very first ever! I had no idea what it was going to be like. But when we were down in the water, the overwhelming peace and calm of the spirit came over me, and everything went perfect. When I brought her up out of the water, I could see that she wasnt the same as before. She came up, and she was glowing. She was so happy, so pure, so light. I will never forget it.

I thought about what would have been if I had decided to put my mission off for a couple of weeks or so. After the accident, I was pretty shattered, and in all honesty I had no idea what to do. I talked about how I recieved an answer to my prayers that I needed to just get out in the mission field and in the work that Sunday, but I never really knew why. Truthfully, I still might not know exactly why, even now. What I do know is that I wouldn't have been here to see this miracle, and neither would my companion, who would probably still be zone leader in his old area. Although I miss the people at home sometimes, and wonder where I would be right now if I had waited, I couldnt be happier with the work than I am now. I love the mission. It's the best decision I have ever made - the decision to serve. 

I´m not the same person that left small town Middleton, I have changed in ways that I cant really begin to express. I love you all, I miss you all, and I want you to know how blessed I am to be a missionary.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Feeling the Fire

He's feeling the "fire" of missionary work...
let's just hope he doesn't burn the house down!

So first off- dad, thank you so much for the pictures! I love to see how the family is doing! unfortunately, im not able to save any of them, due to the fact that all aour memory cards and flash drives have been collected for the assistants to the president to go through. Also, aunt nan! Love the emails from MJ! i will try to write him if i can find the time! A new nephew? wow!! he looks good, way to go Mats and Nikki! And Kaden, Congratulations on the mission call man! Hey, if you can write me, a guy in my mission has some pretty sweet stories from his dad, who served in the same mission! (ps. theres a legend about black panthers down there - and its true). Also, mom, I sent a personal letter home for the family, but i dont know how long it might take to get there. I hear in can take up to months back and forth. ok, now for what has been going on here:

So it turns out we had a problem with fruit flies in our room. HAD. But now, i think i may have solved the problem. yet i may have also created a new one. I have instructed the latinos in my room the art of creating a handheld flame thrower with a can of axe spray and a lighter for the sake of ridding our house of the pestilences. We are fresh out of ways to do so humanely, and so we have taken very drastic measures. So far, its worked out pretty well. At least, we dont have a fruit fly problem anymore. Howe3ver, they havent quite given up the technique. I now call the guys who live with me the Peruvian Pyromaniacs, because they really are. But we are almost out of axe spray and lighter fluid, so i think that theres a chance that we wont end up burning the house down.

My companion and I are very blessed and fortunate to be having success in our mission. We have 4 baptismal dates scheduled, and are working with a family that looks very promising. We have three baptismal dates in the next three weeks, all of which are about prepared and are looking to be confident and strong members in the church. I ahve been blessed with the oportunity to baptise my first convert this Saturday in my mission! I am very excited, and know that it is only through the strength, inspiration, and guidance that the Lord has blessed my companionship with that these miracles are being prepared to take place.  

I am starting to see the power of the Priesthood more and more throughout my mission. So far, I have been able to take place in 4 priesthood blessings, 3 of which I have been given the opportunity to offer. Every time, I have no idea what I am going to say going into it, but as I open my mouth, the spirit fills it with words. I dont remember a lot of what I say in those blessings, partially because they arent really my own words, but what I have seen come to pass I will never forget. For one, a man who´s ankle had been swollen for two months lost all of its swelling just days after the blessing, and he was able to walk comfortably on it again. Elder Adams had been sick to the point that he could barely get off his bed and walk around for a week and a half or so, and a day after the blessing, he was up and working to full capacity again. My companion hurt his hand, and it was swollen, and looked bad. The morning after the blessing, he told me he felt no pain in it afterwards. To be honest, I was very humbled. I had struggled believing that the Lord´s power might be able to work through someone as imperfect as I, but through the mercy and grace of God, i have seen and have taken part in these miracles. I feel as Ammon in the Book of Mormon, where he says that as to his strength he is nothing, but through the Lord, he can do all things. Now, I am nothing comapared to that guy, but i feel as he does. There was nothing I could have done for these people, except for do my best to administer in my calling to them, but the Power of God has made them whole again.

Well, I am sorry if this email didnt make a lot of sense, but my thoughts are a little bit scattered, haha. But just know I am safe, I am happy, I am Elder Kofoed, and I am a missionary. (kind of dramatic, but i like it).

Monday, October 12, 2015

Humble Circumstances and the "Bandito"

This letter made me cringe - and then it made me cry....

Hey guys!! Woah this has been a crazy and great week. The truth about it all is that I really have no idea where to start. I am at the point where sometimes its a little hard for me to talk and think in English because my mind is kinda starting to switch over to spánish, so if something I say doesnt make sense, just roll with it. Anyways, I say this week has been pretty crazy because it really has been crazy. I am sorry to inform you mother, I did indeed meet a "bandito," and I met him two nights in a row. But he wasnt harmful or anything-all he took from me was my blue pen out of my shirt pocket. The second night, when I was with another gringo, the zone leader actually, he came after us again. We got away, thankfully, without the loss of any of our writing utensiles. He wasn't  too sketchy. As a matter of fact I haven't run into anything really sketchy besides the one time I saw a machete fight in the middle of a busy street, and that was about 3 minutes after I i had been pen-pocketed (haha). I also met a convict from the United States who is living here hiding from the law. He begged me to help him return to the states, said he would do anything, pay me however much I wanted, and a bunch of other stuff. I told him that I am a missionary, and im not really allowed to get into that stuff, shook his hand to leave. He tryed to pull me in for a hug, but i kind of yanked my hand out of his and walked away, to be brief. 

The poverty around here is pretty bad-i cant believe how many people live without a home around here. However, I have never seen a more generous, loving, type of people. There are tons of people who sell food on the street here, and though they dont make very much money for themselves, they are always more than willing to give some of their food to the homeless. You don't always see that in the States. At first, I wouldnt go near any of the homeless, but I learned a valuable lesson from one of them that I will not forget.

We were making a contact on the street, and while we were talking with the contact, a homeless man I often see walked up to us. I hid my hand with my watch behind my back just for safekeeping. But the man didnt want any of our stuff. He didnt ask for money, or for food, or for anything else. He simply wanted to "listen to the good word of God" as he put it. That knocked me off my heels for a second (and not becuase of the smell of his breath). Ok sorry for the joke. But really, here was a man who had nothing more than the clothes on his back and the plastic bag in his hand, and he wanted to hear our message. He, even through is circumstances and poverty, believed that our Heavenly Father was looking out for him, and that He loves him, just like any other one of His children. What an inspiration that was to me. In all honesty, if I were living his life, I wouldnt believe in any sort of Supernatural Being, let alone a Heavenly Father such as ours. But here he was, "listening to the good word of God." I found a soft spot in my heart for this guy. Although we couldn't teach him for various reasons, and though we couldnt help him much more than the pamphlet that we gave him, I hope the best for him, and for his circumstances. I am thankful for the humbling experience. 

I used to think that my current circumstances in my area were difficult, but I thank my Heavenly Father every morning night and other times I pray for everything I have been blessed in abundance with; a family who loves me and cares for me and has helped set me up for the rest of my life in ways of truth and right. Im thankful for the blessings of the gospel that i may have squandered before. If I had any advice for the people back at home, it would be to count your blessings at the end of every day. You dont realize how lucky you really are until you see some of the things I have seen- people who can barely walk for the want of hunger and nourishment-people that live every day of their lives on a street corner-people that dont even know about the United States of America. I tell people that I have a small herd of cattle at home, and theyre amazed to know that I have even 1. I show them pictures of my family, and they see a little bit of my daily life is like, and they tell me they'd give anything to live one day like I used to. 

Okay, i gotta go, but love you guys, and really think about what I have said, and never take for granted the daily pleasures of life back home.

Elder Jonathan Lane Kofoed
Ecuador Guayaquil West Mission

Monday, October 5, 2015

Beautiful Explanation and Testimony of the Atonement

So, since my first email never sent for some reason... I will try my best to update you all about my current circumstances as briefly as I can:

First of all, I am living in an apartment with three other guys from Peru that speak no English whatsoever. In other words, Im suprised that I am here at this computer writing, because the stress over the language hasnt yet caused me to jump out of window. However, I have learned a lot of the language and am adapting to be able to hear and comprehend what these locos are talking about. Just kidding I love these guys. We get along great, except when Elder Vela catches us digging in to his snack-stash. (the guys a sugarholic he{s got oreos packed away like you wouldnt believe). Anyways, you might have seen the pictures of Guayaquil, Ecuador. I tell you its like the most ghetto place on earth. It makes the streets of Queens in New York look like Disneyland.The guys tell me, though, that it is the best area in the mission, so i am trying to stay optimistic.

Now for the good stuff: Holy wow did you guys SEE General Conference!?!?!?!? It was so good! Sometimes it was a little bit difficult to understand in the spanish language, when they would use people with different types of spanish dialects, but I picked up on a lot. Some of the things that stuck out to me: 

The importance of the Sabbath Day (particularly the sacrament and the ordinances and blessings therin), the power of prayer and personal revelation, the plan of salvation (with particular interest in the importance of families), and my favorite, and most especially, the Atonement. That is what I want to talk a little about today.

First off, in the Bible, whenever it talks about Jesus going to the Garden of Gethsemane, it never uses the word: Expiacion - or Atonement in english. So where did the word come from? In another scripture in John, it talks about the offering of sacrifices of blood for the sake of remission for sins. Basically, what we learn is that Atonement means simply a sacrifice or offering of blood. Sounds pretty intense, but what more fitting of a word for the suffering that Jesus went through in the Garden of Gethsemane, where it says the His sweat were as great drops of blood. 

I have been thinking a lot about the Atonement since the Saturday morning session. Why is it that we really can find strength, peace, and comfort through the Atonement? The scriptures talk about how Christ suffered for ALL the pains, sicknesses, afflictions, sorrows, and more for the world. He suffered all these things, both physically, mentally, and spiritually. Why? Obviously, because He loves us. Like I said, sometimes we marvel at the power the Atonement has, and its ability to help fix ourselves. Something clicked in my mind that morning in general conference. I have probably heard it so many times, but maybe i just needed to hear it said a little differently. When Jesus suffered in the Garden, even before His death on the cross, He went through it all. He felt every burden, great or small, and suffered it, that we might be able to cast ours off with the power of the Atonement. Incredible no? But there is more. Now, we have problems in our lives. we are afflicted. we are burdened. we are plagued with sins and temptations and the fiery darts of the adversary (Satan) in our daily lives. The only hope for relief that we have is that great act our Savior did for us. Why does it help us? Becuase we actually have someone to sympathize with. Christ says "I know how you feel," becuause He really, truly does. Then, He says "Here, let me take those away, " and He does. And then, after all that we can do, he says "Be thou healed," or "Go thy way, and sin no more." 

Gotta go, love you all and Have a great week 

Elder Jonathan Lane Kofoed
Ecuador Guayaquil West Mission

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Pictures - Worth a Thousand Words!

Well, I asked Jonny to send a few pictures - and he sure did!  However, he did not label them, so I'm not sure what they are all of.  I've added a caption to the ones that I do have an idea on.
Thankfully, a picture is worth a thousand words...or so they say.

I spent my time sending all these pictures and writing the president, so I couldnt write a letter this week :( Tell everyone I am well, we have two baptisms set, and I am serving the Lord with all my might mind and strength. I love you mommy!!
My favorite.  Jonny at the Guayaquil Ecudor Temple.
He looks happy and healthy :)
I'm guessing this is the companionship he lives with, on thier Preparation Day.
All 3 others in his apartment are from Peru
and none of them speak any English :)
It looks like Jonny is really trying to blend in - no one would guess he is a blonde, blue-eyed American. And he must be feeling tall!!
I believe this is where Jonny is living.
Leaving the Boise Airport with his first traveling companion,
Elder Hoopes from Weiser, ID

I'm guessing this is the group that made it to Columbia together

Guard at Temple, maybe?

I believe this was his favorite Missionary Training Center Teacher

I'm pretty sure this was his Second MTC companion, Elder Diaz de Oropeza.
He's the one Jonny described as
kind of a mixture of Winnie the Pooh, the Pillsbury doughboy, (or his laugh at least), and the main guy of mobsters verses mormons"

With Elder Diaz at the Columbia Temple

About this one, Jonny said, "The place we stayed at the first night. We could see the temple
right outside our room! I fell asleep looking at it."
I believe this one is the Guayaquil Temple

First Companion in Ecuador.  Elder Llacza from Peru.

Baptism photo.  No details :(

Remember the story about the bird pooping on his head...gross.

With other Elders in Guayaquil

I will have to ask Jonny who this Elder is

Monday, September 21, 2015

Safe and Sound (along with the Rats) in Ecuador

After not getting a letter last week, and waiting all day today, we FINALLY heard from Jonny!  He references his letter from last week a couple of times - so I'm not sure what happened there, but it made getting a letter this week that much sweeter!  Well, there's nothing sweet about the rats.....

I believe this is Jonny's first companion and trainer. I bet Jonny is liking feeling tall :)

My address is:

Élder Kofoed (make it big)
Casilla 09-04-206
Guayas, Guayaquil

so: stuff i left out last time: my Mission president is the bomb. He
is super spiritual, super smart, and super chill. He is an old guy,
but he thinks he's still living the teenage dream. He likes to race
his minivan around wearing his ray bans blasting mo-tab at top volume.
As for my mission interview, before i walked in, i was a little
nervous, like this was my make it or break it point. But when i walked
in, the first thing he asked me is what part of Idaho I was from, and
if i had a milk cow. The rest of the interview was about how much he
loved fresh milk from cows, how great the cream was for cheese (and
particularly Mexican cheese), and then somehow we got into how flour
tacos are far superior to your regular corn-flower or whatever tacos.
I walked out of that interview a new man, i tell you what. But nothing
can compare to the way he was able to invite the spirit in the first
day. I am sad he will be leaving halfway through my mission. He's a
cool guy.
With President and Sister Dennis and the other new missionaries

Thats about all that i really left out, other than what has happened this week.
So, I think the best way to sum up how this week went is with what
happened on the last day of it- when a pigeon decided to drop its load
on my head. Pretty great story, actually. We were contacting a
die-hard catholic guy, and while we were talking about the
Restoration, a pigeon somehow miraculously decided to do it's business
right above me. Lovely. My companion got a kick out of it, as well as
the catholic guy, who was saying something about baptism. While they
were laughing, I was just imagining how much I would have loved to
have been able to pack away my 12 gauge and clean this city of these
pestilences. (the birds, i mean) Speaking of pestilences, there are
some of the biggest rats i have ever seen in my life around here. I
have seen many, one of them in the house of a member. Theyre like as
big as my calve, or Buster maybe. (sorry for the image mom). At night,
instead of hearing the crickets chirp like back at home, you hear the
rats, and their squeeking. Its kind of like a ghetto rendition of the
Nutcracker, if you will.

Every day is very similar. We get up, we study up until noon, and we
go to work. Like i may have said, its definitely the hardest thing I
have ever done in my life, but I am loving every minute of it. Up
until yesterday, we havent had much success, but I think that the Lord
has been testing my patience. We had only set one baptismal date so
far, but yesterday, we managed to commit three! One of them, Jan
Carlos, (M), is a golden investigator. We got to the end of the
restoration, and we asked him how he felt. He said great! We asked him
what he thought about it all, and he said he felt and knew that it was
right. I couldnt believe what I was hearing! This was the very first
lesson, and he already has a testimony abut what we have taught him. I
couldnt help but think he must have been one of those Moroni referred
to in chapter 10, who was blessed with the gift of great faith to
believe the truth of the gospel. We talked to him about baptism, and
asked if he would prepare himself for the 17 of october to be
baptised. Of course he replied! I still am a little bit in shock about
it all. The other two were twins, who had been going to church for a
while, but hadnt been baptised because of their dad, who isnt a
member. That, and up until now they hadent really known the importance
of baptism, how it is our first Covenant with God, and therefore the
first step in our journey to return to His precense. They said they
would do everything they could to make it happen, and our goal is to
make it happen by the 25 of October.

I am feeling very grateful at this time. Up until now it has been very
difficult, and sometimes I have felt I am at my wits end, what with
the spanish language and difficult investigators and less active
members and everything else. I prayed with everything I had on
Saturday night, after a particularly difficult day and week, and
begged him for the strength and hope that I needed, and his guidance
to someone who would accept this great message, rather than all the
people we have been talking to before. The next day, yesterday, was by
far the greatest I have had in the field. I know it isnt me; if what I
was preaching wasnt true, and I didnt have the strength of the spirit
watching my back, nobody would listen, let alone accept, what there is
to offer in this gospel. But thanks be to God, people do listen, and
they do feel the spirit, and now, are acting on it. If you couldnt
understand my testimony in the last e-mail, go back and translate it,
because I mean it, every word, and it still stands strong. I love this
gospel, and right now, i am really living it.

Elder Jonathan Lane Kofoed
Ecuador Guayaquil West Mission

At the Mission Home

Heading to his first area

A good looking group!

Friday, September 4, 2015

A Latino at Heart

Jonny is finishing up his time at the Columbia Missionary Training Center.  He will leave to Guaquil Equador next week for the remainder of his mission.  It sounds like the past nearly six weeks in Columbia have been awesome for him, but that he's ready to hit the ground running in Ecuador!

It has been such a long time! im loving all the emails and im sorry i havent been able to get back to some of you, but with only an hour its really hard to write more than just this letter. Anyways, i only have four more days in this place, and then i am off to Ecuador for just under 700 more days! pretty stoked about that. ok enough of the niceties and its time to get down to business. 

Before i dive into the info about my new companion, i would first like to mention some things about my new district. Our district is the tightest/nit group in the house. We all get along really well, laugh a lot, cry a lot, and eat a lot too when it comes desayuno almuerzo and cena. sidenote about the meals, the head chef and i are best buds. we have a system going where every now and then he will slip a a four pack of oreos. not only that, but weve got our own secret little handshake. plus he always gives me extras. what a guy. 

anyways, back to the district. so, we each  have our own set of investigators, which are really just practices with the teachers. my companion and i are teaching a lady named Karla. there are other people in our district teaching her as well, but my companion and i have managed to get her to commit to church while other companionships are still working on getting her to have an incentive to read the Good Book. later on my companion. what i was getting to is that hermano Gomez, my old teacher, and i have a thing going where when new people are teaching him, he has me come up, interrupt their lesson, pretend to be a Jehovah Witness, and condem the Mormon Missionaries. i come up and tell him that the mormons are crazy, that theyre a cult, that they have multiple wives, wear magic underwear, turn water into wine, and any other thing you can find when you search the word mormons on wikipedia. this one time i did it was to two sister missionaries in my district. when it happened, they were so embarassed, so scared i almost felt bad for them. almost. they stood out of their chairs and started speaking spanish so fast i didnt even know whether they even were speaking their native language. Hermana Cabello turned so red and i swear there was steam coming out both sides of her ears. she has since forgiven me, especially after she saw me do it to other people, so it wasnt to bad a gig.

Alright so here is the really good stuff: id like to title this segment about my new companion "adventures with Elder Diaz de Oropeza." We have had some pretty good spiritual experiences together, but id like to get the less important stuff out of the way first. To start off, i met my new companion right after my last email last tuesday. at first, i wasnt all that stoked about him. i have since repented. when i first met him, it took me about ten minutes to find him, even though he was in a group of 6 or 7 latinos. the reason was because i wasnt saying his ENTIRE name, rather only elder diaz. he didnt have a nametag yet otherwise i would have picked him on the spot. hes from Bolivia, kind of chubby, but at first i didnt think that he was the type of chubby that was funny. let me tell you how wrong i was. it took me a day or two to crack his shell, but once i did, there was no turning back. As ive talked to him, ive come to realize hes kind of a mixture of Winnie the Pooh, the Pillsbury doughboy, (or his laugh at least), and the main guy of mobsters verses mormons. He laughs exactly like the pillsbury doughboy, and sometimes hes really freaked me out by doing so. he has also asked me to teach him some phrases in english, and so, i have taken him under my wing as a mother hen does with her chicks and done so. some of these phrases are: "I aint got no chill homie" "Im a savage bro" Que pasa mufasa" "Im gonna getcha" and " choo want a piece of this?" he says you like choo, so that makes it even better. now, if you can imagine winnie the pooh saying this stuff with a spanish accent and just a little bit higher and more gangster, thats him. hard to describe, but youd have to hear him to get it. some other things to note: he is an absolute slayer at ping pong. im not kidding, like nobody dares to challenge him because he so far has knocked off everyone by  a minimum of 6 points. Also, he has a crazy love for chocolate. not even kidding, when he found out some of the other new gringos had chocolate licorice, he went all ham on them. everytime the walk into the room, hes begging them on his knees for it. hes also an arm wrestling champ. i think its because hes always hyped up by the sugar and junkfood that he manages to bum off the roomies. maybe thats it. maybe im just a sore loser. maybe its something else. as for the other people here, i have learned that i am a latino at heart. all my best friends are latinos, i have an unbeatable soccer team in which i am the only gringo on it, and my district leader and i love to harmonize hymns and disney songs in the shower after gym. he sings them in spanish, so it still sounds really off.

as for the spiritual side of things, it has been really great. we havent gotten the chance to proselyte yet (tomorrow), but we have managed to help two people just outside the fence of the CCM. one such lady was a mother of a son who had just gotten cancer, and she was very interested in our message of eternal families. However, the best experience  i had was last sunday, when for the third time, we were practicing priesthood blessings. it was  a very special experience, one i will never forget. we had the opportunity to offer blessings of strength to the hermanas, and i had the opportunity to take part in a blessing for Hermano Cabello. that was pretty cool, but not even quite the best part. After all was said and done, and we were just about on our way to dinner, my companion asked me to give him a blessing of health. that one took me back a step. I was not ready for this. it would be my first time, and it would be in spanish, which had me pretty worried, because you dont study medical terms in the CCM. The only health related term that i knew was salud, which means health in itself. however, i gained a powerful testimony of the power of the priesthood that day. When i laid my hands upon his head, and some of the other elders as well, the spirit overwhelmed me and i didnt realize what i was even saying. only something about how the lord has a marvilous work for him, and that He needed him to be healthy, and that whenever he needed strength in his afflictions, he would be able to find it. pretty cool how the next day, he was over all his stomach problems, coughs, and whatever else was wrong with him. love that guy. gotta go, love  you all! 

Elder Jonathan Lane Kofoed
Ecuador Guayaquil West Mission

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Elder Kofoed is On the GO!

Bogota Columbia

Hey guys! so its been a great 5 days or so. Probably not going to be able to get it all in, but ill give it my best. just to clear up some doubts, yes mom, i did find my columbian pesos. no mom, i do not have any more. i used the last of them today for a 100% Columbian that totally makes me look like a legit blanco bandito. 

Jonny's Companion, Elder Jackman, is in the middle. 
We went on a tour today, which was pretty cool. we climbed to the top of a mountain to see all of Bogota Columbia. If you can imagine Bogota, its even bigger than the entire utah valley and every inch of space is used up. It looked even bigger than the great NY to me, just not near as many skyscrapers. ill send some pics if i can get them off my camera. Later, we went to a tourist attraction to buy some stuff, and there were peope doing some crazy things, ie balancing bicycles on their teeth in the middle of the street, playing more than 8 instruments at once, and whatever else it took to get some of the dinero off of us gringos. i held my ground. Also, i ate a bag of fried ants. wasnt all that bad, but it made elder ware throw up i guess. his loss.

So, i mentioned in my last letter that we would be going proselyting again. about that, it was great. they told us that we would be going to a nice community. What they didnt tell us is that we were going to a very strongly populated and very opinionated Catholic Community. Dont get me wrong, we only had a couple of people who wanted to Bible Bash, but for the most part the people were very nice (as they generally are around here). of the 7 or 8 referrals that we got, there are two i would like to mention. 

one lady we walked up to talk to was standing just outside of a catholic school (which was a lot like the one in Nacho Libre, if you can imagine that). She told us that she had just dropped off her kids at the school, and she was looking for a taxi. We talked to her for about 5 minutes, but she seemed to be more intent on finding a ride home rather than what we had to say. also, she said she had a religion, that we would just be wasting our time. Part of me wanted to give up, and my companion was about ready to drag me away, but i just decided to stay persistent. Eventually, when we were asking how she was feeling, how life was and stuff, you know, the usual, she said she wasnt all that great. she said she was struggling a bit, because her grandma had recently passed away. without missing a beat i kicked my companion in the ankle and told him to get the Plan of Salvation folleto out while i kept the convo alive. when i got to the juicy part about how we believe that "las familias son eternidad, y mediante seguiamos el ejemplo de JesuCristo, viviriamos con nuestros familias para siempre." (families are eternal, and by following the example of Jesus Christ, we would be able to live with our families forever - rough translation.) at that moment, she forgot completely about that taxi and focussed entirely about what we had to say. We gave her the pamphlet, roughly explained the Plan, and bore testimony about it. She wiped a tear from her eye as she gladly accepted our invitation to learn more, and gave us her information. i hope that we were able to at least bring her a message of peace, if nothing more. I just wish i could follow up with some of these people, becuase i would love to see how they turn out.

The other was a man who was standing on the street corner, listening to some marriachi band full blast from the phone in his pocket. We walked up to him, started talking to him, and i was slightly suprised at what i saw. It wasnt that he looked mean, or like he wanted to hurt me or something, or anything like that. He just looked... sad. I have seen sad people before, but not quite like him. he said he was on his way to work, that  he didnt have much time, but we asked him how he was. As we talked to him, he told us about his situation, one i cant begin to describe in this letter. I wasn´t exactly sure what to say, but as i opened my mouth, and let the Spirit do His job, the words flowed (english grammer?) out. I don´t remember a lot of what I said, or how I said it, but the little of what i remember is that i told him and testified to him that God loved him, He cared for him, and that he was not alone. My companion talked to me about it later. He just seemed to light up, like he had finally found hope in something, and well.. i dont know. its not easy to describe. We gave him a Book of Mormon, testified of the joy it brings, and by having faith and acting on its teachings, we can find the answers and the strength we need. We asked him to read Alma 32 first, about faith, and eventually, all of it, and he said he would do so. He left a different man than we had first met on that street corner. I pray and hope for the best of him.

The rest of the week has been pretty great. I am about out of time, but just a couple of things to mention: the kids love me, but only because i have blonde hair and blue eyes and sometimes i talk funny. We walked by a daycare center or something, where the kids were planting a garden or something, and they all ran and jumped on the fence. we talked to them for about a half an hour, where they asked us about the US, told us their names, and other stuff. Its funny how humbling it is when a 6-year old is speaking better spanish than you. Thank you everyone for the support! i am doing great, working hard, and tomorrow i get a new companion: one who doesn´t speak any english at all. yikes. Love you guys!! (especially you mom:))

With His CCM Instructor and his wife
Selfie overlooking Bogata