"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!


Monday, May 27, 2013

He wasn't the missionary that taught her but she wanted him to baptize her ...

Well Howdy Mother,
          I had two baptisms this past Saturday.  One was a nine year old girl named Karla, and the other was a nine year old named Andrus.  The funny thing is Andres wasn't my investigator. I spoke to him for a bit before his interview and apparently he chose me to baptize him.  Karla was a girl we taught and she also wanted me to baptize her as well. It was very cool.
          As of now, we have 5 more people with baptismal dates.   There is a family of 4 boys and their mom who want to be baptized but we're struggling to get permission from the father.  He is always drunk when we try talk to him, but the rest of the family really wants to be baptized.  I think we can convince him though to let them get baptized and we could possibly baptize him as well.

So how are you and your face?  (I told him his dad was ready to buy a plane ticket to Ecuador to go and get him.  He said…)  Tell Dad to not buy a plane ticket just yet, and that I'm getting things handled, or trying to.  I had an appointment this morning with the eye doctor and he basically told me that he has no idea what's wrong.  He looked at me and said, "Huh, well what do we do now?"  I said, "I don't know, because this is about the time I’d usually ask that question to the doctor."  Anyway, he told me to take two days of rest and go to a different ear doctor.  He gave me a name and set an appointment up for 4 o'clock tomorrow.  But I happen to believe that the new doctor isn’t going to have any answers either so I called President and asked for an interview and we're going to figure out what to do.  It might be tomorrow.

(I told Michael his cousin Alexa won’t be going to the Peru MTC at all because of her VISA issues and that she’ll stay at the Provo MTC.  He wrote …)  That's no fun for Alexa.  I haven't been to the Provo MTC, but the CCM in Peru is sweet.  (I told him that Kelsey was able to visit a friend in England who had just returned from a two year mission; that she was having a ball but had mentioned a couple of times that she was missing home.  He responded), “I'm glad Kelsey is having fun!  And she got to see Luke Nichols (said like Lumpy the Heffalump).  That's awesome.  I imagined that she might get homesick.  She's a family oriented person, sort of like her brother haha.

I GOT MY PACKAGES both of them, one from Dad and one from you Mom.  I have been happily snacking away since.  I got them last Tuesday, although the chips you put in exploded somewhere along the way hahah.  Thanks so much, it was so much fun :)

I’ll keep you updated.  I love you all so much, and make sure you tell Matthew and Regan that I love them!



Monday, May 20, 2013

Mom, we are so blessed...

Hey Mom,
So you wanted to know about my head ... it's still large (hahaha)   I just finished the treatment with the eye patch and medicine.  I don't know anything else as of now. I will have my appointment this week with the doctor, and then I will call President. I still feel the same, but don't worry too much. I'll get things handled :)
I received your envelope today with Dallin's, Eric's and Briana's blogs and the questions from Mrs. Jordan-Hick's class.  I will try to respond to all them this next week. I also got two more Dear Elders from Grandma and Brooklyn. Tell Grandma that I'm going to try to write her this next week and that I love her letters. Tell Brooklyn I'll write her too and I loved getting her letter.  (Michael can only write letters sent by regular mail every other week because he has to travel an hour to a place where he can mail them and it's another hour home.  THANKS FOR WRITING HIM).
Mom, we are so blessed.  You've never seen poverty until you walk around this city. I feel bad when the people ask me if I'm rich (which is pretty often) because I am.  (I ask Michael about Marthita, a woman who friended me on Facebook who sends me pictures of Michael and ask if she had an address where I could send something.  He just said it would be tough to send her anything...)   The address would be a bit rough. She lives on a mountain in a bamboo house like all the other houses there.  They don't have real addresses.      
I'm so glad Kelsey is having a good time! I hope she has the time of her life, and that Dad has so much fun when he goes over!
I don't have time for a story but I'll send one next week. We have about 7 people with baptismal dates and I'll let you know what happens.
Anyway mom, I love you so incredibly much. You are wonderful! I'll talk to you next week!

Love you Mom!!!
                               The pictures are of some favellas in the middle of the city.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Random things ...

Okay so this is from Michael's mom, not Michael (his letter this week is below) but I wrote a few random things down when we were able to talk to him on Mother's Day that I thought would be fun to share.

- KFC is the only food chain he's seen in Ecuador.  Half of the KFC sell mainly beans and rice.  The other half sell only ice cream.

- Milk is sold warm and it comes in boxes or bags.

- We ask what he misses.  He said his Dad's turkey sandwiches, his mom's enchiladas and Byron's carne asada.

- While we were talking to him on Skype, children came over and stood behind him and just wanted to talk to him.  He was so cute with them.  He says that happens everyday, all day.  They want to touch his "golden hair"and hear him speak English.  The other missionaries call it "The Gift of Barney" (yes as in Barney the purple dinosaur) because children follow him around wherever he goes.

- He said the worst meal he eats is cow stomach with peanut butter spread on top.

 - Ecuadorians put Christmas lights on everything all year round, including their phones and cars.

- We ask what most people do for work in Ecuador.  He said every house is a store.  You just knock on a window and they open it up.  He also said every car is a taxi.  The restaurants are also in homes and they serve mainly chicken with rice. 

- We ask about his apartment.  He said the outside is pink and green; mushrooms grow on the ceiling and three and four inch long cockroaches and spiders are everywhere.

- We ask him what he loved most about his mission.  He talked about how kind and loving and good the people are.  He talked about Sis. Elma, his Ecuadorian Mama who tells them to come in each time they are walking by and feeds them.

So love this kid!!!
Michael's Mom

... and we taught every lesson

My dearest and most beloved Mother, (alas, I am his only mother :)

It was fun seeing you and everybody yesterday!  One of the best days since I've been out by far.   I think it's a good idea that you don't email the President, at least not yet.  He knows what's going on, and I'll make sure he knows it is serious. I'll talk to him before too long. Only 7 days until my next appointment, and I'll call him after that.

I'm so glad summer is so close and that you and Matthew will get a break from all that work (in his school class)... that is, until Regan gets into third grade. hahaha.
So I wanted to tell you about my first two converts because I didn't have time before.  Their names are Jennyffer (17) and Carlos (14), and they are wonderful. We were teaching their grandma, and they sat in on a lesson with us about the Plan of Salvation. When we were closing up, I asked Jennyffer if she had any questions. She said no but that she felt that there was something wrong when she had heard how other churches describe God's plan for us. I challenged her to pray about it. People hardly ever pray when you challenge them the first time.  When we came back the next day, I asked the Grandma if she had prayed, and she said no, as expected.  But then I asked Jennyffer, and surprisingly, she said yes. I asked her how she felt, and she very matter-of-factly said, "Good. I don't know how to describe it but.. I believe all that you're teaching is true."  At this point in the story, I would just like to add wee note ... If you're reading this, and you're not a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and you've had questions similar to this one "Does God have a plan for me?", I would highly encourage you to talk to the nearest set of missionaries you can find. If you don't know how find them, ask my mom. She runs the blog and she can help you.
Jennyffer and Carlos are the best converts I could ask for. The other day I was stopped in the street by a teenage girl and she said, "You baptized my friend!" I asked her who her friend was and how she knew we were the missionaries.  She said that she had met Jennyffer the day before on their first day of school, and Jennyffer challenged her to come to seminary and church, and she was going to attend. The next day, we went by to visit Jennyffer and Carlos and we had an appointment to teach their mom.  Jennyffer and Carlos were at the table teaching one of their friends with all the old pamphlets that we'd given them.  They made their friend stay there for 4 hours, and we taught every lesson; from the Restoration to the Law of Chastity. The poor kid was mortified when they wanted to demonstrate their good work: "Ronald, tell the Elders what the Law of Chastity is. You remember. Tell them Ronald."
Anyway, they're wonderful, and are so much fun, and that's my story.
So keep on informing me of everything going on at home. I love you all!


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Have some faith in me...


                     Michael's first two baptisms

Hi Mom!
    (Last week Michael said he almost passed out during a meeting and he had to go to the hospital.  He said the doctor gave him an injection and put him on a couple of different medications.  As is typical Michael, he didn't bother to say what they were treating him for and what the injection or medication was - just inconsequential stuff - so the following is his response to my questions).  First, I have no idea what they injected me with or what the medication was.  Previously they had put me on Celebrex and some red pill (I looked up Celebrex and the website said it's used for osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and acute pain).  The ear doctor gave me some new stuff because he said that the ear pain was just change of climate.  (Is it just me or did he still not tell me what they treated him for at the hospital and "some red pill" and "new stuff" is not informative Michael).  I've been trying to figure out what to tell you what's been going on with my health, because I don't want you to worry.  So as a precursor, this might sound worse than it is, but don't worry about it, and have some faith in me. We won't do anything without talking to you first.  I spoke to the ear doctor, and he said that my pain has nothing to do with my ears; that it is a problem with my vision. He also said that there is a possibility that I might have to come home for a while and undergo some treatments, and possibly an ocular surgery.  This isn't definitive yet.  I still need to finish my treatment with the eye-patch, and then I need to speak to the optometrist again.  I still don't know too much about it, but we can talk about a bit more on Sunday.  I didn't want to say anything about it, because now you'll be agonizing all week, but yes, I know you deserve to know what's going on with me.  Sorry Mom.
     And heck yeah! I'm so pumped for Sunday! I'm so excited to talk to you all!! There's so much I can tell you about that I don't have time to write about.  (I sent him a picture of the houses going up across the street that are almost finished).  I don't like that they're putting up houses. That's where my forts are. I'm not going to be able to find any of them when I get back.
      So, my week twas good. We taught a lot and I can teach all the lessons without any problems now.  I know everything I need to be able to say about the gospel so I'm able to communicate with the investigators without any problems but when we talk about anything else, I still get lost.  I love it here.  I really love my investigators and the members of the ward. They're the best.
     Mom, I can't wait to speak to you on Sunday. It still looks like it should be around two o'clock your time.  You're a wonderful person for doing all that you do. I pray for you all individually every night, right down to my niece and nephews.
Love you all so much!!
Elder Costello

Monday, April 29, 2013

I ride lots of small busses with chickens and dogs and Ecuadoreans

                   He said he had to wear an eye patch for 30 days but this is an eye blanket ...
                                         and look how much he's grown - he's a giant!
Hey Mom, 
This is me and Elder ____________.  He's a great guy and he speaks English really well too.  I think I'm going to be able to call you around 2:00pm your time on Mother's Day, but everything here is really unreliable. We have to find a place where we can do it. Webcams are rather scarce here.
(I asked what was going on with his heath)  I've been improving. I almost passed out during a meeting, so I went to the hospital and I received some injections and took 5 pills a day for 5 days. Yesterday was the last day. I'm not really light-headed anymore, but the headaches are still there, but I still need to finish the treatment that the eye doctor assigned. I have an appointment Thursday with the ear doctor that the optometrist sent me to, and on the twentieth or so, I have to go back to the eye doctor.  It hasn't stopped me from working.  I still do everything just like normal.  I just have to suck it up in front of investigators.
That's fine about having to cancel my debt card.  Sorry someone was using it.  I don't have to pay for the appointments at the doctors so I won't be needing it anyways.
What do I do?  I teach a lot. We had our first two baptisms on Friday, __________ and __________ ____________, and I baptized ___________.  It was cool because these are investigators that I started with. They weren't working with anyone before I showed up.  Also, I ride lots of very small busses with chickens and dogs and Ecuadoreans.  I usually have to stand hunched over but that's okay.  I love it.  Our areas are fairly far from our house so I take about 4 busses a day.  It's a lot of work but it's fun.  I have various study times in the morning for 5 complete hours (personal, companion, language, training, etc.) and that's the worst part of each day.  It's much easier when I'm outside walking around talking to people.  The headaches are worse then but I have people to distract me.
What else.. I get lost in conversations a lot still.  I can speak to pretty much everyone, but I'm far from fluent. We teach a lot, and I love the members here so much. There's an older lady named Hermana (sister) __________  here that I love to visit. She's like my Ecuadorean Mama because everytime I walk by her house, she tells us to come in and she feeds us.  Her husband is inactive, but we're working with him a bit. They lived in Utah for a long time, so she speaks some English and loves to speak to me.
That's wonderful about Matthew and the books!  I'm so glad he likes reading.  Make sure he starts a new series.  And Regan too with Junie B. Jones. Tell them I miss them both too, A LOT!  I miss all of you but I've already served an 1/8 of my mission.  Can you believe it?  Anyway, I bet you all think I forgot Regan's birthday present, but I didn't. I just haven't been able to send anything yet. I have the gift. It's small, but I think she'll like it. I've had it since her birhtday. I will try really hard to send it next week. It's difficult because it's about an hour bus ride to the postal office, and I have to get permission from president to leave my area, but I will try
Oh, I forgot to mention that it's a possibility that I'll be changing missions in June or July.  They are creating the Guayaquil West mission which will be part of my current mission.  So if I am sent there, I could serve in the Galapagos Islands because it is going to be apart of Guayaquil West.  
Love you all and keep me updated.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

She sold his hair for fifty cents

Okay Mom, sorry about last week but I have a bit more time now.  I had thought that my headaches were just normal before I left.  I did tell you I was having headaches a few times. I didn't think they were a big deal though and I don't want you to worry.  The mission President sent me to an eye doctor because I told him the headaches were causing vision problems. (The eyes aren't the cause of his headaches but he said he was lucky he went because the doctor did find he had a) case of conjunctivitis starting up... Cause that's how things are going hahaha. Anyway, the doctor seemed to understand my problem and said that I need to have my right eye covered for 6 hours a day for 30 days. I've started that treatment now that the conjunctivitis is gone, and I have 27 days left. However, he said that I need to see a neurologist. Also, he said I need to speak to an ear doctor, and I'm still waiting for that appointment.  Yesterday and all day today I've felt light-headed and sort of feel like I'm going to pass out. I tried to call the president, but he didn't answer. I'll try again later, but it's not fun.  Anyway, I'm sure I'll be fine. I just need people to call back haha.
That's really awesome about your temple walk Mom! I'm so glad you had a good time and that the girls enjoyed it!   Sister Martha is pretty great.  (She is a member that friended me on Facebook and has sent me several pictures of Michael this last week).  We ate ate at her house again last night, and she took some more pictures. She loves her camera.
I don't need anything mom, and I don't think you need to send me anything. I still haven't received my Easter package, however.  I recently received 5 letters from grandma and 1 from Brooklyn!  I was so happy.  I'm going to write them back as soon as I can, but I can only send letters every few weeks.
Also, I can't call both you and Dad on Mother's Day.  My Mission President said, "It's Mother's Day." (but in Spanish),  so if you guys could be together, that would be great.

I forgot to tell you the follow up story to the little girl that stole my hair! I saw her again, and asked what she did with it. She said she sold it for 50 cents. Which isn't bad considering I'm in Ecuador. She then proceeded to try to steal more hair.  I was going to send you some pictures of the iguana park for Regan, but I can't do it on this computer.
Sorry mom, I'll send them before long.
Love you all, miss you all, and know that I'm happy,

Monday, April 8, 2013

Don't worry... I'll let you know soon...

Hi Mom,

How are you?  I'm doing alright, and yes, I do know that you love me very much!  I love you too!!  First off, sorry I didn't tell you about the headaches, but don't worry about it. I don't know anything yet because when I called the President's secretary to see when my appointment was, he said the President didn't tell him to make one.  He must have forgotten, but I should be able to see one this week.  Don't worry though and I'll let you you know as soon as I find something out.

 My area is gigantic. It covers a whole bunch of areas, so I have to take busses everywhere.  The areas all have individual names, but my ward is called Via Doble 2. That's so nice of Brooklyn (I told him she had sent him a letter) and yeah, I know my family's awesome!!

That is so weird that there will be houses across the street when I get back!!  It's always just been desert. It was sweet to make forts in haha.

Yes, I knew that Kelsey's Choir got to sing in General Conference!  And yes, I did see her in the very last number for a couple seconds.  Twas' wonderful.  I was so happy!  I watched conference live, half in spanish and for the second half, the gringos got to go to another room to watch it in English.  It was really good!

We have two baptismal dates for the 13th, and I invited a woman to be baptized during our first lesson with her and she accepted, so that was good. We have about 10 other progressing investigators as well.  I'll attach some pictures.  The spider was in my hair one morning when I woke up. They like blondes.  The mold is the roof above my shower haha.  The last thing is a weird fruit that they have here but it's pretty good.

Anyway Mom, I've got to write some other letters!
Love you ever so much!!!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The 11-year-old girl's think his gold hair is beautiful!

Hi Mom!!!!

So I hope I'm able to answer your questions this week.  Just send letters and packages to the mission office.  Matthew, sunburns are no fun. Sorry big man.  I'm glad you got 50 pieces of candy. That's like 50 more than I have.  I love you so, so much.  Regan, you're so cool. They won't let me dress like Hermoine here. It's not fair. I saw two iguanas so far, but I'm not allowed to carry my camera with me!  But as soon as I get an opportunity, I'll send you a picture. I love you with all of my heart.

Now Mother, how are you and your wonderful face?  So I'll tell you a bit about what's happened since I got to Ecuador. We got off the plane and were met by the AP's. We waited for a group from the Colombian MTC for awhile, and the Mission President came and talked to us. He's a cool guy, but really strict. We can't play soccer or drink Coke but I'm fine with all that, even though we have to go buy this nasty "purified" water. Basically they dump a bunch of iodine in it because you can't drink the water here.  We have to buy it from a shop across the street. 

So far, I've attended one baptism and been part of committing 2 investigators to baptism. We're working on about 5 others and tomorrow we get to go to another baptism. I like the baptisms and the baptismal interview the best.  So my companion is one of the very few Latinos that are taller than me here, because I'm fortunate like that. His name is Elder _________, and he's from Chile. He's been out for about 14 months. He's also our District Leader, and our two roommates, Elder _________ and Elder __________ are the Zone Leaders. They're all pretty cool, but if there's a word I don't understand, they all just repeat the word over and over while staring at me as if it will help.  It's tons of fun.

I've lost a ton of weight. I've actually gone down two belt loops. There are chickens everywhere. My first area is here in the city and the hills that meet the city, so it's fairly poor - and thus, the chickens everywhere.  The other day, I ate at a members house that had chickens walking everywhere but there was this big white rooster that just sat there and stared at me the whole time. When the lady came to sit down with us, she picked up the rooster and started petting it.  But the rooster just stared at me the whole time I was eating.  I didn't much enjoy it.  Dinner was potatoes, tomatoes and dried tuna all mixed together - we weren't eating any chickens.

I like it here. It's hot and very humid, but that's alright. There are spiders everywhere and I've been bitten like ten times already.  We walk most places, but sometimes we get on buses with people - and chickens.  Pretty much everyone stares at me, and the eleven year old girls in church have informed that my gold hair is beautiful. They haven't had a gringo in this area for 7 years. I also forgot to mention that I'm opening an area right now. There haven't been missionaries here for about 2 years, so we have a ton of work to do.

I'm love it here but I miss home too. I was told that the first three weeks in the field are the hardest, and I can definitely understand that.  The people are so nice to me, and they all want to talk to the "gringito".

I love you all and pray for you every night and day. Love you all.
Your faithful Ecuadorian Missionary,
Elder Miguel Patricio Costello

Michael's dad called me after I received this email and told me Michael was having some problems but said not to tell me because he didn't want me to worry but that he thought I should know.  He forwarded me the email he's received, the last few lines of which read, "I don't want to tell Mom about it quite yet because she won't enjoy it but I have an appointment with the doctor this week.  I've been having some headaches for a couple of months...but they're getting worse and three days ago the vision in my right eye started going blurry each time I get them.  Don't worry about it though..."   Well Michael was right - I didn't enjoy it.  Nor did I enjoy him not telling me.  Lots and lots of non-enjoyment!

Friday, March 29, 2013

"This time I learned about humility..."

Michael was able to call home when he left the Peru MTC on Tuesday.  He said that the flight to Ecuador was two hours but he didn't know what area he was going to, who was picking him up, who his new companion would be ...  But he sounded happy and excited and wonderful.  We only got to talk about five minutes but it was priceless!  I LOVE THAT KID! 

I didn't receive an email this week but I did get a letter in the mail -

March 17, 2013

Hey Mom and Familia!

Como estan?  Are you guys doing alright?  Has anything ultra exciting happened since I've been gone?  I hope nothing too exciting.

So I thought I could tell you a bit about my tracting experience.  It was very different from my first time.  That one was really spiritual and I was able to talk a fair amount.  This time we had a missionary in the field with us, and my companion was from Argentina where they speak in the Vosotros form (I haven't learned this yet) but the pronounce their double "l's" and "y's" as "sh".

It was hard to understand him but that didn't matter much because the missionary we were with didn't actually let either of us speak.  I wasn't able to give my testimony one time.  It was a bit frustrating but that's okay.  I learned about talking to people last time.  This time I learned about humility.

We were in favelas, literally the poorest place I've ever seen.  The favelas they show in the movie Rio are basically a perfect representation of what I saw.  Some of these homes were literally crates and tarps put together.  This experience wasn't nearly as sad as it seems however.  I've actually never seen a happier group of people.  They were all (or almost all) so kind and welcoming.  It was really cool.

So let me know how you're all doing!  I'm really liking it here and I have tons of great friends.  I am excited to go into the field though.

Matthew, how are you buddy?  Are you enjoying school?  Is Mrs. Jordan-Hicks still giving you tons of homework?  I'm sure she is but you can handle it.  I love you big man!

Regan, are you liking school pretty girl?  Have you and Matthew been getting along?  You better or I shall give you a hearty tickle upon my return.  I love you sweetheart!

Mom, are you doing alright?  How's the family doing?  I'm sorry you always have stuff going on but I know that you can handle it but let me know if there's anything I can do for you.  You are beyond wonderful Mom.  Be happy!  I'll be back soon.  Love you!

Byron, keep being a champ good sir!  Keep them all happy!

Love you all,

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Hey Mom,
I'm sorry my letter was so short last week, and todays can't be too long either.  I finally got your letters and stuff! Thanks so much!! I put two letters in the mail yesterday, one for you and one for Kelsey. It was all I had time to write. I should be able to send one to Dad this next Monday.
Tell Matthew I'm so proud of him!! He's the man! I told you a bit about whats going on in the letter home, so I'll just keep it short today. I'm loving it here, and I've got some great friends. My camera went missing. I don't know if it was from my closet, or if I left in the computer lab, but no one turned it in. Sorry.
How's everyone doing? I'm having a lot of fun, but I'm always tired. I fall asleep in class multiple times a day, but so does everyone so it's all good haha. Anyway mom, love you with all my heart, but I have to go.  I'm glad you send me Dallin's, Briana's and Eric's letters from their blogs, and I'm excited about Dallin getting out of the MTC. I know he's going to have a ton of fun and do great in Rome!
Elder Michael Costello

Michael mother is very annoyed that Michael doesn't answer any of her questions.  So annoyed that she is now speaking in third tense!  "Hey Michael, are you leaving the MTC next week?  Do you fly to Ecuador?  DO YOU GET TO CALL YOUR MOM FROM THE AIRPORT?  Do you know that your "letter home" won't get here for three weeks?  Are you going to be embarrassed when your mom calls the mission president to find out any information at all?"  Michael is in so much trouble!

Friday, March 15, 2013

While Michael was home from college and before he left for his mission, he came with his mom to school and volunteered in his 8 year old brother's classroom several times.  The teacher, who is not LDS, ask all the kids to write Michael a letter.  Michael won't get them for three weeks so I typed up their questions and emailed them to Michael.  This is his response. 

"Hey Mom, you are wonderful.  I literally just have a few seconds, left but I responded to all the questions.  I love all the stories about Matt and Regan so make sure you keep telling me what they're doing.  I hope you're doing alright.  Just a quick recap:  I am no longer the district leader and I went tracting on Saturday.  It was humbling.  We walked through the favelas on this mountain.  It's strange to knock on the outside of a crate and have a family come out to talk to you.  I'll tell you about it in my next letter.  Sorry, I don't have time.
Love you!!!


Some of the questions Matt's class asked and Michael's answers (they are studying animals right now) -
Matt wrote - "Have you met any lizards yet?" - Only little ones.
"Has anyone joined the church yet?"  No one has joined yet (He's still in the Peru MTC)
"Is everyone nice or mean to you?"  The people are very nice.
"Is it fun or not really?"  It's tons of fun.
"Is it hard learning to do your mission so far?"  Very hard but I can do it.
"Do you see different kinds of animals?"  Yes, but mostly birds so far.
"Do you like meerkats?"  Yes, a lot.
"Do you like Tasmanian devils?"  Yep
"Do you like Jaguars?"  Very much.  Actually those last three happen to be my favorite animals.
"Do you have lots of bugs there?"  There are a normal amount here but they're very big.
"How long do you have to train for and will you learn the language?"  The training is six weeks long and it is very good.  I won't be fully fluent when I leave for Ecuador but I can understand almost everything and I can converse pretty well now. 
"My favorite animal is the gorilla.  What is yours?"  I said earlier that my favorites were the meerkat, Tasmanian devil and the Jaguar but disregard that; gorilla is number one definitely.  (Michael chose to do a report on gorillas when he was in the third or fourth grade).
"Do they have good candy?"  It's alright.
One of the little girl's in Matt's class is in our ward and wrote, "Just advice, buy a pocket Book of Mormon, maybe two, just so you could hand them out.  Also, you could buy two CTR rings for you and your companion".  Good Advice!
"Do you like lions.  I love lions".  I love lions too.
"Can you do a mission for more than two years?"  My mom answered this for me and said "NO!"
"How old will you be when you can back from your mission?"  Twenty-one
"I am Mormon so I know all about these mission things...I was wondering if you have to eat gross food?  Do you have to ride a bike, a car or walk?  Does your companion snore?  I hope you are doing well and adjusting.  Matt talks about you most of the time".  The food is okay.  Mostly they feed us hotdogs.  I'm still at the MTC so we don't go out very much.  When we do, it's on a tiny bus packed with people.
"Do you like the food?"  The food is okay, but mostly they feed us hotdogs?
"Is it hot or cold there?"  It is very hot.
"Do the people speak a different language there?  Yes, two actually.  Spanish and Cechuan.
"Do you miss the animals here?"  Yes, I miss the pigeons and chipmunks terribly.
"Do you have waffles in your country".  If they do, I've yet to find them.
"What continent are you in?"  South America.  There are no tigers here (and then he wrote, show this to Kelsey) - whatever that means...
"What money do you use?"  Right now I'm in Peru and I use Soles but when I go to Ecuador I will use American money
"Where do you stay".  I live at a place called the Peru MTC.  It is a training center for Spanish Speaking missionaries and when I leave and go to Ecuador, I'll live in a tiny apartment.
"How did you get there?"  I flew in an airplane to Georgia and then a much bigger airplane to Peru.
"Have you made any good friends along the way?"  Lots and lots of great friends so far.
"Do you like being a missionary?"  I love it.
"Does the food taste different?"  Very different
"Do you miss your family".  Very much!  But it's worth it!
"What will you do for entertainment".  I will talk to people.

In part of Matt's letter, he told Michael that he had found a Harry Potter chocolate frog card and that that Kelsey told him to hang onto it until he got back and wanted to know if that was okay.  Michael wrote, "Matthew, my fine fellow, that card is now yours". 

I'm grateful for Mrs. Jordan-Hicks, a truly amazing teacher, for her wonderful students with their great questions, and my beautiful son, his sense of humor and his pure heart!!!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Hey Everybody!

I love reading your letters every week!  Tell everyone I love them and I'm praying for them.  How are you all?  Did Regan have a good birthday?  What's been going on at home?  I miss you all a ton but it's pretty fun here.  So, Elder ____________ and I got a new companion today.  His name is Elder ____________ so there are three of us.  He's cool.    

I read last week that you said you sent a letter in the mail but the only one I've received so far is the one from Grandma Layton sent by Dear Elder.  By the way, thanks Grandma and I love you too.

You wanted to know what was going on here but it doesn't change that much.  We speak a lot of Spanish and I love my teachers.  I'll likely be released this week from being District Leader, which is a good thing.  When we are not in classes, my favorite thing to do here is to draw in my notebook that you guys got me.  Maybe I'll send some pictures of my drawings soon.

I love you so incredibly much!!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

I can understand almost everything everyone says at this point...

Hey everybody!

How are you all?  I miss you a lot but I like it here.  It's actually pretty awesome and I like nearly everyone here.  I want to know what's going on at home!  I know I've only been gone for almost two weeks but I already feel like I'm missing everything so keep me updated.

There's not too much to tell you about, except that they sent me out tracking around Lima.  It was amazing.  They put every North Americana with a Latino companion so we could communicate.  My companion was Elder ______.  He speaks absolutely no English, but that didn't matter.  I could speak to him, and I could say enough to the people, and I can understand most everything everyone says at this point.  It's just responding well enough that is difficult. 

Anyway, my first time tracking was a tremendous success.  We handed out both Libros de Mormons that we had, and all of the pamphlets we were given.  We taught five lessons, got four referrals and my companion made a lady cry with his testimony.  I really enjoyed it and I get to do it again in two weeks.

I suppose I could tell you an embarrassing story as well from Friday.  Every so often, they bring a group of members on a tour through the MTC.  The best part of this is that if they run into any white missionaries, the tour guide stops us, and they all whip out their cameras and take pictures of us while the tour guide questions us in Spanish.  Well, we were playing soccer (like we do everyday), when a group came out that I had already been questioned by, so we just kept playing while they gathered around to watch and take pictures.  Being the opportunist I am, as soon as I had the chance to make a goal, I seized it.  I was three feet from the goal, and I had the ball.  I kicked as hard as I could and instead of going in, the ball shot fifty feet straight up.  I was so ashamed.  It's all good though.  Everyone laughed and we went back to playing.

I hope you are all doing well!  Make sure to keep me posted.  And Regan, Happy Early Birthday!!!  I can't send you anything now but I'll try once I get out of the MTC.  I love you so much sweet girl!  Matthew, since Regan can pretty much date now, you have my permission to beat up any and all boys that look at her.

Mom, you are wonderful!! I won't be able to send actual letters until next Monday but know that I love you!


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Hey Mom,
I apologize for not having been able to write. Tuesday is my P-Day, but apparently I have to send any actual letters out on Monday morning. I wasn´t aware at the time. Right now I only have 25 minutes to write, so it won´t be long.
First off, I love it here!! It´s sort of crazy, because none of my teachers speak any English, but they´ve been regularly using me to translate to the class. My Spanish has already improved that much!  Also, I was made district leader right after I emailed you the first time. My branch president took us all in the back and interviewed us, and then came into the room where we all were and announced it. It´s kinda fun, but really time consuming, and time is the one thing I don´t have. I have to attend 2 extra meetings on Sundays when everyone else gets personal study time, but it´s worth it.
The other latino elders here are great! They help teach us Spanish while we teach them English, and I´ve never met nicer people. All of my teachers are so incredibly patient with us, and help us while we teach them English.  We´ve taught a fake investigator Marcos Escobar 30 minute lessons 4 times already, and all completely in Spanish. It´s hard, but it´s gone really well.
I forgot to tell you that they cut my hair! I didn't have an option either, and it looks terrible, but It´s a lot cooler because it is so incredibly hot here.  Kelsey would laugh at me because I always have sweat on my nose.
Yesterday, we playeed a soccer game like we do every day. The teams are always mixed Latino and American to keep it fair, but yesterday we didn´t do that. We played Latinos v. Norteamericanos (as the call us), and amazingly, we won! I wasn´t there for the end of the game, because I got turf burn pretty bad on my leg, but it was awesome!!
I´m running short on time, so I´ll wrap it up, but I love you all!!  Also, they asked that you don't send any packages till we're out of the MTC.
Thank you so much!! Love You!!!

Friday, February 15, 2013

First email - tuna with cut up hotdogs for breakfast

Hey Mom,
     I got here just fine! We got to the MTC at like 2:30 AM. It´s so humid here!! It was really cool to drive through the city. There are houses built up into the mountains just like they show in the pictures that look really cool, but we didn´t get to see too much of the city.
    My companion´s name is Elder ________, and he´s really funny. We had to get up at 6:30 this morning, so I only slept about two hours, but I´m feeling alright. We had a sandwich this morning that was literally tuna and some fake hot dogs on bread. Twas strange. We also had a fruit that you had to smash on the table and suck out the insides. It was actually pretty good (if you don´t chew).
   There are probably only around 40 missionaries here in total, and more than half of those are latino that speak next to no english. We manage to communicate a bit though by both of us using serious Spanglish. They are all really nice and patient with me.
   I only have ten minutes to write, so I´ll have to wrap up soon, but I love you all and I know you´ll all be okay! Also, could I have Kelsey´s email? I forgot it.
Love you all and I´ll talk to you soon,