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:

√Člder 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