Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Good News...Bad News...

The original injury...

Well, this week has been a very good one! Shoutout to the Middleton Vikings basketball team for doing great in state! Couple of bad breaks but still a blast to watch! Also, it was my sister's birthday the day before yesterday, so if you haven't had the chance yet, let her know what's up!

So an update on my health: I went in to get my knee looked at again by the doctors, and they have told me that it doesn't look way too bad; my meniscus is torn again and there is a cyst grown around it, but that they might be able to just cut out the cyst and trim up the meniscus a little bit, and should not be too bad! Well, thats best case scenario anyways. So that was good, but I have other bad news. 

I hurt my foot really bad a few months back playing soccer with the other missionaries in Ecuador, (see photo). Someone kicked me accidentally when going for the ball. It hurt really bad and I wasn't walking to good. That night, when I took off my sock, basically my entire big toe had turned purple and blue and was super swollen. I had called the mission nurses about it, but my toe was still bending so they just told me it was probably just bruised and swollen and it just needed a little time. Well I gave it a little time, and called them back a couple weeks later, because it was still bothering me. They told me just to keep icing it and massaging it, and that even if it were broken there wasn't much they could do about it.

Three months later, in that doctor's office, after they had looked at my knee, I asked them to take a look at my foot to get another perspective at it. He took one look at it and said it looked bad. Then, sent me in for a few x-rays, and a few minutes later came back and told us to come look at the photos. Apparently, there is a huge compound fracture in my big toe! Like, the second bone is almost split in half. They told me that I will need surgery on it as well, and they will do it at the same time as my knee.

Ultimately, the news is that they will operate on my left knee and my right foot, so that will probably mean I will end up in a wheelchair with two bad legs :( 

Well, despite my circumstances, I have been trying to do what I can before I head into the operating table. Yesterday morning, I went out with my dad to help him build some fences. At first I did not want to; I am still having a rough time adjusting to the freezing weather and I was feeling pretty tired!

But we went out, and actually had a great time! Building and repairing the fences and strengthening my bond with my dad turned out to be a really great experience. We got some good stuff done, and there was a good feeling in knowing that we had accomplished something good. I mean, as of yet, the cows and horses haven't gotten out! Even though its been a day, I am still remaining hopeful.

I think from that experience and from others, I have learned a pretty valuable and important life lesson. Sometimes we run into life challenges; we have responsibilities to fulfill, a job to do, or a change to make. Things that we want to happen, but do not necessarily wish to do. I did not want to go build fences that morning, for example. But with that experience, as well as many of the others, I have learned that the hardest part about getting the job done is just getting started. As soon as you get out there and dig in, you commit yourself to the work and all of a sudden, it doesn't become so difficult. That example relates to yesterday morning, but with other, greater things in life. If you want to do something great, go out there and make it happen. The hardest part about it is getting started, but once you have done so, solo hay due seguir adelante. (keep moving forward).

It reminds me of a quote my trainer in the mission once said to me: "There are three types of people in this world: 1. people who dream that something good will happen, 2. people that wish that something good will happen, and 3. The people that go out and make it happen. Be that third person, and you will find what you are looking for." 

Well, I think I will leave you with that little motivational speech for today haha! Just remember that we will run into these things in life, but with our determination and trust in the Lord, we can overcome them. Just like Ammon once said: "I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in His strength I can do all things." (Alma 26:12)

Monday, February 29, 2016

Back in the States

My New Companions

Hey guys! I am back at home, but that doesn't mean that I am shirking on my blogging responsibilities! I will keep you guys updated every week, so that you'll know what is going on!

I will start off with the knee; so I got another MRI on it while I have been here, because the one from Ecuador was not super great quality. They have taken a look at it, and it appears that I have torn my left lateral meniscus (again) and grown a cyst around it (again). I am not sure when I will be having my surgery, but I will be going in for another appointment tomorrow morning to get the whole verdict. I should know by then when my surgery will be, and start my recuperation! It should not be too long; 8-10 weeks or so I believe, so that is good news! If everything goes well, I will be right back in Ecuador in no time!

I woke up at five in the morning last Tuesday to come back home, and got here at nine at night. But since there is a time difference of two hours, it felt like 11 o'clock. Not only that, but I had only slept a few hours the night before, so I came back super super tired, and I still feel like I am trying to catch up on it haha!

I think that the biggest shocker for me when I got back was how fat my dog Buster had gotten. Holy smokes when I tried to pick him up for the first time, I swear I almost threw my back out of place! I don't know if its because they have been feeding him so much or if he has been eating his feelings with my absence or something, but I'm sure he put on at least 10 pounds. Hope I can help him trim up a little bit.

I got back and had my interview with President Evans right after my flight landed. It was a really neat experience. We talked about my experiences, what I had learned, and some other good stuff, and then brought in the family. I got to bear my testimony to them, about what I had learned seen and felt in the mission. It was hard to do it in english, and I accidentally switched into spanish without realizing it haha! But after I finished, I was then thanked for my service and temporarily released from my calling as a missionary. Of the whole ordeal, that part was the hardest to go through. It was pretty rough when I got the news about my knee, and it was pretty rough walking around on it for all that time, but nothing hurt so bad as when I was officially (temporarily) released as a full-time missionary. I felt something kind of break inside of me; lost a sort of spiritual light that I had previously , subconsciously, felt. I did not have that same gift that kept me company before; I had lost that sacred calling, and I could actually feel its absence. I have noticed the difference in my daily life. When I go out to work with the missionaries, I cannot teach and administer like before (even though it is easier in English). The same strength and energy of that same spirit that kept me going doesn't help anymore. I yearn to have that back, and I am looking forward to that time when I am called to serve once more!

I have been thinking a lot about faith, and how by it, miracles can really happen. I have been hoping for the longest time that through my faith and obedience and prayers that somehow, miraculously, my knee would heal itself. Obviously, it never did quite heal all the way, and it has caused me to think and ponder about it a lot. I believe in miracles; heck, I have seen them with mine own eyes. So, my questions were: why would the Lord not heal me? Did I lack in faith? Was I not good enough? It was really hard for me, but President Evans said something to me that changed my perspective. He asked me: "do you have the faith to be healed?" and I replied that I thought I did. He then asked me afterward: "now, do you have the faith NOT to be healed?" That one kind of took me back. I had not really thought about it that way, but I guess that it made sense. The Lord would have healed me if He wanted to, but there was a reason that he hadn't. Maybe there was a reason He needed me to come back home; maybe I have some things that He needs me to do while I am here. I have felt that, my companions in the mission felt that, presidents and leaders, and my family. The truth is that I do not know what the Lord has in store for me, but all that I know is that He has a plan, and that it is a perfect one

So, to finish this off, I want to thank everybody who has been helping me through this rough time. The smiles, the hugs, the friendship, visits, everything really means a lot. I really love you guys a ton, and hope the very best! Take care, and I will talk to you later! 

-(post Elder) Jonny Kofoed
(ps. if you want to come visit me, I will probably be here in my house waiting!)

Monday, February 22, 2016

"A Little Bit of a Pit Stop in the USA"

So, It has been made official. I will be home tomorrow (Tuesday) night at about 9:00 p.m. It looks like I need a little bit of a pit stop in the USA so that I can keep going after a little time!

At first I did not take the news very well. I had a rough week, what with teaching lessons and taking care of my district and stuff, because of the stress and the worry I had been going through. On top of that, I was really sick too, so that did not help. I was feeling pretty beat this week.

I feel really blessed to have the leaders that I have. My zone leader, Elder Lascano, helped me out a lot. He also had to go home during his mission for health-related issues, and the experience he shared with me was something that really uplifted me. He has asked me not to talk to anyone about it, because he has not told many people other than myself, and he would like to keep it that way. What I learned is that his situation was way worse than mine, and although it was the hardest thing he went through in his life, he told me it was also one of the greatest things.

One of the things that he shared with me is that it is not a burden to return from one´s mission early because of an illness, but rather is a great blessing. As much as I do not really like it, I may be starting to realize that it really will be a blessing. I will be able to strengthen myself in knowledge and in spirit, and better prepare myself physically and mentally and spiritually to return. I will have the opportunity to do missionary work in the home, strengthen my family and friends, and rest from my troubles for a season.

There is no doubt in my mind that I will return to the mission field - and I will return with honor. I feel that the Lord has some work that He needs me to do at home - otherwise maybe I would be healed of this knee injury. Everything that the Lord does, He does it with a purpose. I do not know exactly what it is, but I need to trust in Him and have faith in His timing. I know that everything will work out all right, and for that I will be happy with the circumstances I am being presented with. I love all you guys so much, and I will talk to you all really soon!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Inspiration and Devastation

Hey guys! So, about this week, I have been saved two times from the hands of Gadianton´s modern day robbers here in Ecuador! I will not describe the experience, but it sufficeth me to say that the Spirit really can protect us, if we yield to its gentle enticings! 

Anyways, this week, what with Carnaval and stuff, we were stuck in the house and I was not able to write you guys. It was kind of a shame; I was kind of hoping for some crazy parades and floats and stuff like that, but Carneval here is NOT like what you see in the movie Rio. just a whole lot of water baloons and people trying to chase you down with facepaint and stuff, along with the regular fireworks and stuff.

I had a neat experience a few weeks ago, where I was running through the list of less-active members in the area (about 300 names or so) When I came upon a name, Moises Echeveria, that I felt like I just wanted to visit. We went to his house, and he let us in! We got in there, taught a lesson with him and his wife (non-member) and had a really neat experience. He told me that he felt something different when we came to his door that day. He had rejected plenty of missionaries before we came, but said he felt something different when we showed up. Since then, he has been dedicated to return to the church. He has been coming and bringing his wife, who is preparing to be baptised! He said he is willing to change everything for the better, and his goal is to be sealed with her in the temple someday! it was a little miracle that I was super happy to take part in. Something that I will never forget.

Well fam, this may or may not be my last letter that I will be writing to you, depending on the circumstances of my knee. I will be going in for my MRI today, and we will have my results by Wednesday to see what is going on. When the Doctor looked at my knee, he was not too thrilled at what he saw, and it does not look to good. He said that even without an MRI, it was obvious that surgical measures needed to be taken. It is pretty certain that i will not be staying here for very much longer. Whatever the case may be, I just know that I am in the Lord´s hands now, and He will do with me what He will. I am not excited to leave - this whole knee issue is not something I asked for. Yet, I know that I will return, and when I do so, i know that I will be able to serve the Lord with all my heart, might mind AND strength. 

I broke down the other day after i got back from the appointment. I was with my zone leader, Elder Thurber, who is also one of my great friends. He cried a little bit too, but he has been here helping me out. I am starting to realize that it is all in the Lord´s timing, and although I may not know all the mysteries of the Lord, i know that all I can do is trust in Him. With that, I leave you my testimony of my Savior, that He lives and loves me. I love you all, and I will talk to you soon!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Locked in for "Carnival"

Hey guys!! I didnt mention that I cannot write you guys on Monday, because apparently we will be locked up in our house while all the crazy parties and stuff are going on. This week is Carnival, and if any of you have seen Rio, its kind of like that, but in a version more nuts that the way Dreamworks put it haha! So I will just excuse myself for Monday, sorry!!!

So, we have good news! We have been teaching a family of 5 or so, and we finally are making progress towards a baptismal date! The mom and the son have accepted, and the others will follow along here pretty soon as well!

Well, I hate to leave you stranded with nothing much, but that is about all I can do for today! (about 10 minutes) Hasta el próximo Lunes!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Teaching Faith and Hypnotizing Chickens

It looks like Jonny still has his mad chicken hypnotizing skills!
His caption was "Teaching my son in all the ways of his father."

Hey fam!! Well, it looks like I have OFFICIALLY completed a quarter of my mission! Wow that actually went by pretty fast, believe it or not. 18 months more, and I am excited to see what it will bring! Seems like a lot of time, but at the same time, it doesn't. 

This week we have been focussing our efforts on finding people through our less-active members. We managed to bring one and his wife (non-member) to church, and they loved it! They love having us over and are doing really well, but the only problem is that they have not been officially married, so that is what we have to focus in on for them. But we have high hopes for them, and they should be married soon. I think that my companion's story will help them a lot. Well, not his story personally, because obviously he isn't married, but the story of his parents. Get this: they we married 8 DAYS after they met each other!! 8 DAYS!! I was suprised, because they pulled it off even before they were members of the church, and they have been going strong for more than 20 years! That is a miracle for me, and I hoping that experience can help the family that we have been working with get a move on hahah!

With that experience, along with many of my investigators, I have learned the importance of carefully following the steps set forward in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. These steps are faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. Each step MUST be completely completed before one can really begin the process for the following. As missionaries, we talk to people who have commited all sorts of errors in their lives, and we want to help them change and repent and become better people. But, we cannot call them to repent and fix themselves if they first do not have the faith to do so. That is why we focuss in on their needs, teach them in a way that they can develop sufficient faith in Christ to repent and change, so that they can be ready to be perfectly cleansed through baptism, and ready to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost so that they can endure to the end with His help. 

So, keep that in mind, and if you are struggling, or someone you know is struggling, just remember, it all begins with a little bit of faith. Ok, gotta go but I love all you guys and stay good y'all!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Rain and Busy, Busy, Busy

Not minding the rain :)
Well, another week down. If I thought that this week would be any easier, well, it hasn't been haha! Actually, things are still going rough, and I could use all the prayers and the help that I can get!

So, if you didnt know, it has been just RAINING night and day. I would send a video if I could, but the clouds basically just bring in its own hurricane every few hours or so. The good thing is that I love the rain! It feels so refreshing compared to the scorch of the sun. The only bad part is that it feels super humid afterward, but I have gotten used to that.

This week, my companion and I have been focussing a lot on making contacts with people in the street and sharing the gospel with them. At first, it was a little bit difficult for my young son, but he has been getting a lot better! He is the friendliest person I know - he has genuine love for everybody, even me. I feel happy to have him with me, even though it is tough to try and do everything myself. He has started helping me more, but he still is shy and a little bit unconfident (english?) in the lessons, but he is getting better. He works hard and has really good intention, and he has come a long way, and he still has a ways to go haha! :)

Anyways, I have really come to really on the strength of the Spirit. I have never prayed as feverently and passionately as now, because I had never realized how much I need the strength from above in my life. Now, I have come to realize how much of a part the Lord plays in my life, and I (hopefully) in His, and His work. 

Well, that is about it for this week, but I will keep ya'll posted! 

Monday, January 18, 2016

Training Elder Flores + Becoming District Leader = Joys and Burdens

With Elder Flores - a new missionary and a native of Ecuador
Hey fam!! Anyways, I have a latino son!!! He is from Ecuador, and his name is Elder Flores (which translates exactly into Elder Flowers)! you want to know how excited I was when they paired me up with Elder Flowers? I was so stoked! We have been super great buds, working hard and learning lots of stuff together! He was born in a family of members, and can read, which is super good because it means that he has already formed a great testimony and is ahead of the gang! It has been super great to be working with him.

I also did my very first baptismal interview yesterday. Holy cow, that was one of the most spiritual experiences I have had in all my life. Just to see and talk to someone who had made such an amzing change in their life, over a long period of time, and to listen to them testify of the change that the gospel has brought into their life strengthened my testimony immensely. She will be baptised the following week, which is super great!

This week has also been the most stressful I have had in all of my life. I would even put it up there past finals week, if you can believe that. What with having to control my own district now, with a new missionary, I am always super busy and super stressed. The zone leaders put tons of pressure on us, and specifically me, which has been hard, but also really good for me. I have learned more in just this week than I have in any other week, and maybe even month in my mission. It has been so difficult, I even came close to the point in which I thought about giving up. But, I found a strength. There is a scripture in Matthew 11 that talks about all of us that are heavy laden and burdened can come unto the Lord, and cast our troubles off at his feet. I have really come to rely on that strength, and although I feel stressed and burdened, I just seek for Him, and He is there to help me out! 

Baptism of Tatiana Vasquez

Well, that is all for this week, Love ya all and take care!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Becoming a Trainer!

Iguana Selfie! Yes, That's Real

Well, this week has been great! So sorry I havent told you guys, but we have another baptism this week (se llama Tatiana Vasquez, tiene 17 años) and we are super excited for that! We also are planning for another the following week (Miguel Cantos, 72) and so that is all for the excitement so far! It is such a great job to be able to work in the Lord's vineyard and see the fruits of our labors! We also have another man that we have set a baptismal date for the following week, and now all that we have to do is secure it. That would put us at 3 baptisms for the month of January!!

So, I have some sad news, and some really good news. The sad news is that my trainer (my companion since birth - in the mission) is finishing his mission today. He was such a great guy - taught me so much about the mission. He was only a little bit trunky before he went home (or to say, he was missing home and ready to go there.) I will never forget him. We had some awesome experiences, ones that I will never forget. But with him going home comes the good news - I will be training a new missionary!! They told me today that I have been assigned to train a brand new missionary in the field, and that he will be my new responsibility for the next while. There is also a rumor that I will be called to serve in my area as a District Leader, so we will see how that goes! I am super excited, but super nervous as well.

The good thing is that I know that I have the Lord's strength to help me out. In Ether 12:27, it talks about how the Lord will make weak things become strong if we come unto Him. Maybe my Spanish isn't perfect, and maybe I am still young in the mission, and maybe I feel incapable, He can strengthen me. I do not know how, but I know that if I do everything I am capable of, He will make up the difference! So, with that in mind, here I go, off in a brand new journey! Love you guys, and take good care of yourselves!


The "Mission Family"

Joseph Pagonis

The twin Sisters - First Baptism!


"I found this in our house..."

Mangoes - blown up on New Year's Eve

At the Guayaquil Temple

Making Friends with a Donkey :)

Morning Run

Mountain on Fire for New Year's Eve

Just Goofing Around

First Zone Leaders

Monday, January 4, 2016

When Bad Things Happen to Good People - New Year 2016

Apparently these are built and then burned in the streets - along with a whole bunch of others -
for New Year.  People pay 50 cents to have their picture taken with them.

Jacob!!!!! My little brother!! Congratulations on the baptism man. That is super great. You have just made one of the biggest decisions in your life - and you made it right. Love you lots little man! All grown up and a member of God´s kingdom here on the earth! I hope you never ever forget about that day. it is a super special one, one that I would have loved to have seen. Just remember to hold on to those covenants you made, and you´ll do great!!

Well, let me tell you a little bit about my New Year. It was actually super awesome. In the building we live in, we got permission from the lady that owns it (and the president of the mission) to go to the top balcony for New Years Eve. I told you about how they destroy these sort of piñata thingies in the street, but the people here know how to celebrate. We were on top of that building, and we could see all of Guayaquil city around us. In every direction, you could see fireworks going off, just like the ones on the 4th of July. And there were tons! Sometimes people would light them off right next to our building, and we were almost deafened by the sound! It was really one of the neatest New Years I have ever had. The best part was right as the countdown was going, the people beat apart their piñata thingies and lit them on fire with gasoline and roman candles. (fireworks). When it happened, almost literally the whole street went up in flames! It was nuts, and I was pretty glad I was four stories or so up in the air. (thats about as tall as the skyscrapers get around here) Also, someone lit a nearby mountain on fire. That was a little sketchy, at least until one of the members told me that happens every year haha! Then for the rest of the day we just stayed in the house and that was it.

So, a quick spiritual thought. Something that my companion and I joke about lately is the pregunta: why do bad things happen to good people? It all started when I asked him that when I accidently spilled my soda in KFC. Since then, we have been using the phrase a lot for different things. But I had to look at it in a spiritual way at some point. Why is it sometimes that we run into things that knock us down when we are doing everything to keep the commandments and live the way Heavenly Father wants us to? I have found a couple of reasons why. One, because sometimes its bad luck haha! But another is that there needs to be opposition in all things. How would we know the good times from the bad if we had never had either? How would we know what happiness is if we had never felt sad? 2 Nephi 2 talks about that in the scriptures. But another reason I have found is that it helps us recognize how much we need to rely on our Savior to help us out. In some circumstances, everything is out of our hands, and we physically are unable to better our circumstances. But even if we think that all is lost, it is not, if we are willing to search for and find comfort in the grace that Christ so willingly spares us. We have tough times and trials so that we can learn to rely on Him, and when we do so, He will be there. Just to think about, but I love you guys lots, and I´ll talk to yall next week!