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