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!