"Be strong and of good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest." Joshua 1:9

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

"You'll never guess who's getting baptized. Okay, maybe you will".

My Dearest and Most beloved of Mothers,

Yes I got the packet and I have plenty of money.  Thank you.  I haven't heard about rule changes like the ties and colors and stuff, but it doesn't really matter to me. I've got plenty of ties as well. Thank you though.  (I ask Michael if the rules changed about carrying cameras now that he’s been reassigned to Guayaquil West).  No, the rules didn't change about the cameras (they don’t want the missionaries there to carry them so they don’t get mugged), but I'll try to take more pictures. It's a little difficult because my camera is gigantic.  Also, it's hard to find a computer that works to send pictures.  I'll work on it though.

I'm glad that lots of people are asking about me and everything. After 5 months I'm surprised they all haven't forgotten.  And yes, five months is a very long time; almost a fourth of my mission! It's going by so fast, you wouldn't believe it.

Martha told me she was going to send you a picture that she took at Saturday’s baptism.  She wanted me to tell you that she loves you too.  She's shown me a few of the messages that you've written, and it's hilarious how bad that translator you are using is, haha.  The messages hardly make any sense at all, but she gets the gist of it.  And yeah, that was the baptism of ___________.  It was cool.  This Saturday we're going to have eight baptisms.  You’ll never guess who’s getting baptized.  Okay, maybe you will.  We are baptizing the four kids whose dad refused to give permission, one of their friends, and another family of three.  So we’ll have 10 baptisms so far this month. 

President Dennis gave permission for the four kids to be baptized with only their mother’s permission due to the circumstances they are in.  He is meeting with her today at five to see if she is willing to support them in coming to church each week.  I can't be there unfortunately because I have a doctor's appointment, but pray for them please!!!!

So, some more stuff; ________________ (the girl who booted her man out) received a calling Sunday.  She is the secretary in young women's.  Then one of my first converts, ______________, after fighting and reasoning with his Mom and Grandma finally received their support for him to go on a mission.  He is only14, but it's really important to him.  I'm helping another youth in my ward, the son of the hermana that made me the pillows, to prepare for his mission.  It’s likely that he'll perform all 8 baptisms this Saturday.... I'm sure there's more going on, but I can't think of anything right now.

And now to the most important part - Matthew.  Big man, it's your birthday tomorrow.  You're going to be 9.  That's huge.  Like gigantic.  I don't think you know just how proud of you I am.  I love you so much.  You're a wonderful example to me and a huge help to Mom.  I love you with all my heart bud, and I'm going to get your present in the mail as fast as I can.
Anyway, that's about it.  I love you all so much and I miss you too but I'll be back before you know it.

Elder Michael Costello

P.S. Logan and Aiden are gigantic and Logan has like really blonde hair. I miss them

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

New Mission - New Mission President

New Mission President of Ecuador Guayaquil West Mission - Jorge Dennis and his wife Anette Herrin Dennis 

Hey Mom!!!

(Michael was transferred to the new mission that just opened – Guayaquil West.  It covers much of the same area as he was in before).  We basically have all the coast, but not the Galapagos Islands. Those are in the South Mission.  I have met and spoken with my new President already. He's a really good guy. He speaks English as well as Spanish. I love President Amaya, but President Dennis has been very involved with everything that's been going on with my health.  Actually, from the first day that the mission opened, there has been only one day that he or the Assistants haven't called me to inform me about
what’s going on with appointments or just making sure I feel well enough to work.  On the first day we met with him, he postponed about 15 other interviews to talk with me so we could decide what needs to be done.
So, I've said it before, but you all don't need to worry. I am getting the best treatment there is in Ecuador. I have an appointment tomorrow (in the clinic that President Dennis moved me to, which is way nice).
This week was good. I had a baptism last Friday. His name is _______________ and he’s nine years old. He is the younger brother of _________ and _____________ (my first converts).  He was nervous, but everything went really well.  My companion performed the baptism.  About the family with the 4 kids; it looks like there's nothing we can do at the moment. We can't baptize the parents, and we just cause problems for the family when we come by.  The father is just terrible, but it's difficult for the mom to just kick him out.  As missionaries, there's not a whole lot more we can do, so we have to hand them off to the ward.  We're going to bring the 2nd counselor in the bishopric by their house, and we have to step back a bit.
We've got another baptism planned for this Saturday; a 13 year old girl named ____________.  In total we've got about 20 people that we are teaching regularly.  It's a ton of work but it's worth it.
So I'm glad things are going well at home!  Tell Matthew that I love his hat, and tell Regan I'm glad she liked her gift. Also, don't let Matthew think that I'm going to forget his birthday. It's coming up, and I know what I'm going to get him.  Sending it will be a bit more difficult, but I'll get it there.
Thank you for your prayers and fasting for me and my investigators!  I really, really appreciate it.  I don't have a ton of time, because this computer is painfully slow, but I love you all so much!  I pray for you always, and I miss you!
Mom, I love you so much! Thank you for caring about me and worrying about me!
I'll talk to you soon!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Transferred to the brand new Guayaquil West Mission

(The address posted in the column to the right is no longer accurate.  Michael has been transferred to the Guayaquil West Mission, which is one of the 58 new missions opening around the world.  I do not have an address yet and it is not listed on dearelder.com.  I'll update the blog with a new address as soon as possible.)

Hey Mom,

Today is my first day in the Guayaquil West Mission which is sweet that I have the opportunity to open a mission.  It’s really cool, but on top of everything, I’m changing Mission Presidents, secretaries and everything.  So it’ll likely be a little time before I can meet with the doctor.  I’m really sorry, but I need to ask one more time, please be patient my loving family!

Also, my baptism that I was supposed to have on Saturday didn't happen.  It’s scheduled for this coming Saturday now.  We've got 3 people with baptismal dates, and about 11 possible baptisms this month already.  It's a lot of work, but it's worth it.  The father of the 4 kids is still arguing with us, but I think he's afraid of me because he comes up to my chin. I promised his wife that we're going to baptize the family, so we're going to.

I received eight letters today, which is AWESOME!! I got one from Dallin, Kelsey, and Grandpa Costello, all from when I was in the MTC. They forwarded them with other missionaries.

Anyway Mom, I'm out of time,
but I love you so much!!



Tuesday, June 25, 2013

This week alone we taught 47 lessons...

(I’m posting the letter Michael wrote to his Dad this week but he did say a couple of things in my letter that I wanted to add -   He said he has four baptismal dates this coming week “and we have a ton of people we are working with and we are getting a lot done”.  He said he’d heard about the church broadcast saying that missionaries would be able to start using the internet, including Facebook to do missionary work but he wasn’t able to watch it, “I have no idea how we’re going to do it.  I imagine that we’ll make a Facebook here for the mission, but they haven’t said anything yet.”  And he also responded to me telling him that his cousin Alexa had broken a couple of fingers while playing kickball in the Provo MTC.  She had surgery to put a couple of pins in and she will either be sent home for a few months to get medical attention or to another stateside mission until she is well enough to go to Peru.  “I had no idea that Alexa broke her fingers! Is she okay? That's so terrible. The MTC is a dangerous place. Everyone gets hurt. I haven't been able to talk to her, but you should let her know I love her and am praying for her”.

Hey Dad!

So, I'm really glad you're having a good time (and that) Disneyland Paris was cool.  I remember how incredibly sweet all those places were, especially the Louvre. I loved that more than anything I think.  I’m really glad that you're with Kelsey again. Two months is too long for you to not have much access to either of your kids.

I’m having a good time here. I really like my new companion. He's great. We're teaching lots.  This last week alone we taught 47 lessons, which is a lot.  My zone leaders didn't believe it when I first reported the number.

So, some cool things; I think in nearly all Spanish now, or hardcore Spanglish. I'm not going to lie, writing this is English is getting more and more difficult.  I'm saying it in my head in Spanish first, and I have to translate it.

Anyway, please don't worry about my health. They are taking good care of me, and the facilities are pretty nice. I am going to have my doctor's appointment today, and we'll let you know what's going on. They're doing everything they can to help me.  I'm going to be just fine. We won't do anything serious without talking to you, so we can all chilax.

Love you Dad!!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Waiting ... and waiting ... and waiting ...

This is a picture of Michael's cousin Dallin who is on a mission in Italy.  He baptized this sweet young man in the Mediterranean Sea this past week. 

A letter Michael had written to his Uncle Danny when Dan was serving a mission. 
So Michael's email finally arrived after I went to bed and had checked my account a thousand times. It must have been meandering around the internet most of the day, just checking things out, maybe doing a little exploring and looking around. Michael's dad had received an email saying the meds weren't working so they were putting cameras in his head. He told his dad to read the letter he'd sent to me for the details. All day we wondered if they had decided to do surgery and if so, when and where. Michael had sent the following email about eight hours before it finally decided it had done enough wandering and land in my inbox. The agony....
Hey Mom,
          Sooo... that's a lot of things going on at home -  like a ton.   That was a good letter, especially the story about Byron and Jeff.  That is really cool.  (I wrote to Michael about someone his step-dad helped to baptize this past week).  The picture of Dallin is sweet! I want to baptize someone like that! (Referring to a  picture of  his cousin baptizing a little boy in the Mediterranean Sea  this past week).

          So, they gave me some medication, but it’s not doing much.  The doctor is going to put cameras in my ears, up my nose, and down my throat to try and find out what the problem is.  It's going to be sweet.

(From the letter he sent to his dad)  “The teaching is going alright.  I counted yesterday and I’ve taught something like 250 lessons since I’ve been here, which is a bunch.  Some of the people are receptive.  Some not so much but it’s all good.  I’m enjoying myself … I like it here.  I enjoy the work and I love the people, and the language is coming on pretty well.” 

So I'm sure you want to know what happened with the kids we're working with. Unfortunately, of the 5 baptisms we were going to have this last Friday, we had 0. Two days before they were supposed to happen, President released a new rule that we have to get permission from the fathers (as well as the mother) before we baptize young kids.  I called them for permission, but both said no.  I then had to explain to both families why they couldn't be baptized.  It was pretty rough.  It's all good though.  We're going to keep working with them and baptize both families.

Also, today I got a new companion!  I've finished my training and we received a call this morning that Elder _________ was leaving.  He was actually pretty emotional. My new companion is from Lima, Peru. His name is Elder ____________.  He seems really cool.  He has just a bit more than a year in the mission. 

Matthew and Regan, you two make me laugh.  Yes, I can still speak English, but it feels weirder and weirder every time I do it.  And Matthew, be nice to mom.  I can't do math in my head either.  You sir, are a genius and I love you.

(I emailed him a copy of a letter he had written to his Uncle Danny when he was on his mission and Michael was five).  I liked my letter to Uncle Danny.  And I happen to know exactly what I was talking about in that letter - Super Mario 64 - great game.  Something cool happened this week.  I taught some circus people; the ringmaster and 2 clowns.  We were outside of their big tent and it was pretty sweet. The ringmaster was shirtless, and yes, his chest was just as hairy as you would imagine a shirtless Ecuadorian circus ringmaster's chest would be.

Anyway, that's the majority of what happened this week. I'll try to make it more exciting next week for you all, and I'll let you know what's going on with my head.
Love you all,



Tuesday, June 11, 2013

"Good news! I don't have cancer (yay!)"

Hi Mom,
     Yes, I was able to see the neurologist and get an MRI.  Good news! I don't have cancer (yay!). What I do have is something called sinositis (I hope that's how you say it in English), which means that one of the holes behind my eye is filled with pus and mucus, which is super gross, but way better than cancer. I now have to see a nose specialist, and we're going to figure out what needs to be done. So WE (directed at me and his dad I think) can all be super chill now haha.  The only problem is that the neurologist said it doesn't explain the problem with my vision, but that is getting better on it's own this week anyway, so it's all good.
     Stories, I know you like stories. So about the family with alcoholic father, yesterday we went to their house to bring them to church, and the father met us outside very drunk.  He informed us that this was the last time that he wants to see us at his house.  We told him that we could respect that, but we were going to keep on visiting his family all the same.  He started to argue, but we asked him if he believed in agency.  He said, "Of course! Everyone can do what they want to do.  If my kids want to be a mechanic, they can choose that."  At that point, he started to realize what he'd said then he stumbled into the house next door.  When we left with his family to go to church, he came outside, but didn't say anything.  His wife signed the permission we need for all four of their kids to be baptized and it's scheduled for this Friday.  

     Also, I wrote you about ____________ (she's the one that Michael said had kicked her boyfriend out "like a boss")  It happened!  After all this time, we finally baptized her.  She didn't invite anyone. There were only 6 missionaries at her daughter at the baptism.  She ask me to perform the baptism (which I had to do twice because she kicked her feet out of the water).
     The final story I want to tell you about is about __________ and __________. This family is wonderful.  One day we were walking, and my companion and I felt like we should knock on one certain door. My companion actually said, "Alli estan los bautismos." (There are the baptisms.)  We spoke with the lady that was inside, and she prayed in the middle of our lession, thanking God that he had sent us to her house. Anyway, we've been visiting them for a while.  There's a problem. They need to be married to be baptized because they are only living together.  __________   married another woman years ago but they split up and just never got divorced (which is really common here).  He doesn't even know where she lives but they want to be baptized so bad.  They know it's all true, and they keep telling us that they want to pay tithing haha.  Yesterday, they informed us that __________ is going to find his old wife and get a divorce, no matter what it costs so they can he can legally marry ____________and so they can both then be baptized.  I love this family so much.  They're the best. We're going to baptize their 9 year old son this Friday.
     They've invited us to come stay with them after our missions. They told us they are going to cry when we leave, and that we're like their sons.  They also invited us to their house for Father's Day on Saturday.  They said that we are far from our own dads, so we need to feel like we're at home in their house.
     There are some more people we're working with, but I'm out of time and I'll write about them next week, and I'll send some pictures too.
     I love you all so much, and I'm so grateful for all that you do.
     Love you Mom,

Monday, June 3, 2013

She kicked him out ... like a boss.

Hello dearest Mother,
Thank you so much for always fasting and praying for me!  I'll answer the things you ask about first.  I still feel about the same, but things are starting to move along.  My zone leader and I have both talked to the President a few times, and he's in the process of setting up an appointment with a neurologist, because that's what the last two doctors recommended.
But enough about me.   ______________  is an investigator that I met on my second day here during the baptismal interview of her sister.  I've been working with her ever since.  She is 21 and has a daughter, but she's not married.  She was living with her boyfriend, and we were helping the two of them get married so she could be baptized but then she found out some things, and, long story short, she's not getting married.  Actually, she kicked him out of the house, like a boss!  Now she's going to get baptized on Friday and she's ask me to perform the baptism. She's a wonderful person, and I'm extremely grateful for the opportunity I've had to teach her, and I pray that everything turns out well on Friday.
We are still working with the family who's father isn't allowing their baptism. The last time we went over, he was drunk again, and was very unhappy when he found out that his wife invited us inside to help her with preparation for some of her kids things for school. He still won't talk to us much, but we are not going to leave the family. They really, really need help. There's a verb here, "machetear", that means basically to severely rebuke.  We're going to go do that to him and it's going to be awesome.
So I'm glad that everything is going well at home, and that you're still really good at "making things". That's an important trait for all moms to have.  I'm really happy that it's going to be summer soon and you'll be able to relax a little bit.   It's awesome that Regan TP'd your room.  Tell her that I said she's a champ. You're a good mom to have a end of the year party for Matt and Regan.  

Also, you ask about the package and it must have been the first one you sent because there was no debit card.  I sent some letters today, and possibly a wee present for Regan's birthday four months ago!!  Hooray!!! I 've had to carry it with me all the way from Peru until I could finally send it, but I hope she likes it.

Anyway, I love all so, so much, and I loved the pictures!