Tuesday, August 30, 2016

New District

This week has been different. We're getting used to the new district. It's not as good as I'd hoped, but not nearly as bad as I'd feared. As for the bunks, yes we are still in that room with 6 other elders, and they're all Latinos. Actually, one is American, but he's lived in Barranquilla the last 2 years, so he knows Spanish already. I think people are mostly pretty impressed with our district. The other District of Nortes that we combined with had a reputation for not being very motivated, but it seems to be that it was their teachers that weren't helping them too much. Luckily, the teachers from my old district are our new teachers, and they're fantastic. One of them can even make the subjunctive tense make sense.

I've still been healthy, but I think I need to take those fiber pills more regularly if I want to keep it that way.

As for teaching, we are doing better. One of the investigators is Hermana DuVall, and I like her way of doing it. She stops it a little early and gives us feedback. It's very helpful.
This week was a bit of a struggle. My biggest problem is keeping my energy and enthusiasm up all the time. I'm always working, and trying to be an uplift to others, but I don't feel like I'm able to do that much. For some reason, the middle of the day is the hardest for me. In the morning and at night, I feel pretty great. It's something I've noticed that I have to improve on. 
Last week, before all of the new people came in, our district had an interview with President Duvall, which is where he told the other district that they had a reputation of being very unmotivated. He didn't say anything about my district then. But he also gave us some really good advice about contacting and teaching and stuff, which has been very helpful. Though I haven't been able to use the contacting yet. For the next one, since there are no new Nortes who don't speak Spanish, we'll just be sticking with our regular companions. But he also told us that he was kind of disappointed that none of us had really come to talk to him. I always thought I would be a bother if I did that, but apparently  not. Elder Georgeson and I both felt like we wanted to talk to him. I don't know what Elder Georgeson talked to him about, but I asked him for suggestions to improve. He told me to take the step in Ether 12:27. It  took me a few days, but yesterday I did exactly that during personal study, and I received answers. I received a few things to improve on, but what comforted me the most was the sense of peace that I felt. I felt like the Lord was ok with how I was doing. The thought that came to mind was, You're ok. I want you to improve so you can be a better servant, but you're doing ok. Don't worry so much about your faults and just work. It was very comforting to me that I'm trusted enough that He'd tell me that.
Thank you for that story Dad, it was very uplifting. I can't wait to be able to see that in those that I teach. It's one thought that keeps me going when I'm having a hard time.
I hope that Grandma and Grandpa are feeling better soon. I hope school continues going well for Mom and Kate, and that Tyson and Jalen and Sydney enjoy this year too. We will have to see how it goes.
Elder Georgeson is a District Leader again, which is a funny story. He wanted to be district leader (which I personally think is crazy). He just feels like he does a really good job at it. But President came and talked to Elder Boyak, which got him down. Apparently President had told him that he'd done a really good job as the District Leader, which made him hope. But when we had a meeting and President called the district leaders, he called both Elder Boyak and Elder Georgeson, since our district is so big. So he was pretty happy, and we laughed about it after.
That's pretty much been my week, nothing too out of the normal other than adjusting to the new people in the CCM and our new District. We will see how this next week goes. Next week we should be emailing around this same time, 2:30 to 3:30. I love you all, and thank you for your prayers for me! 
I don't have pictures to send, because 1. the scenery is all the same, nothing really new to take pictures of, and 2. The wifi broke this morning when we were at the temple, and they spent all morning trying to fix it. They were only able to do it enough to send emails, not enough bandwidth to send pictures. Sorry!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Halfway Point


Well, I've finally hit the halfway point at the CCM. Things are still going pretty well. As for the food, it's pretty much the same stuff. They do try to cater to the Nortes a few times a week, we've had pizza (it's not really pizza, but it's good) and a few chicken sandwiches. It's all tasty. I've only dipped into the medicine for some of the fiber pills, just in case. I've actually felt pretty good this entire time, which makes me worried for when things go down. We actually ended up switching investigators again, we will probably start tomorrow. Things did get better, but Elder Georgeson and I need to teach faster. We barely finished the first lesson.

As for the talks on Sunday, yes, I have to prepare a 5 minute talk every Sunday for Sacrament meeting. In Spanish. Luckily it's only 5 minutes. I haven't been called on to talk yet, but I prepare every week for it. I'm actually going to have 2 fast Sundays here (one has already come and gone), so that's only 4 talks to prepare. We will see what happens next.
And I have some very exciting news, especially for Dad: I'm learning to roll my r's. I can do it after o and a, and sometimes after e. It makes me so excited every time I do it. 
I'm glad to hear that everything is going well with school and seminary, not that I doubted that it would. 
Everything's gone crazy here today. Everyone but the 17 Nortes that came with me left, and we are supposed to be getting about 100 more Latinos today. No Nortes for some reason. We had to move rooms, and we spent the first half of the day at the immigration office applying for residency. It took a really long time, which is why I didn't email at the right time. We also learned that they are combining all of us 17 Nortes into one district, because they need all the space for the Latinos that they can get. We have mixed feelings about that, but hopefully it'll turn out well. After immigration, we were supposed to go to Burger King for lunch,  but I guess someone didn't tell our van driver that. (By the way, one of those pictures is all 17 of us crammed in 1 van, probably not safe, but it's what we had to do.) So we got to the CCM at about 12:30, starving. Someone went and got us all 6 inch subway sandwiches, which were good, but not quite filling enough. We hadn't eaten since 6:30 that morning. It's been kind of a long day. Other than that, things have been pretty normal. Sorry that I'm not taking a lot of pictures, but I only see the same things every day, so there's nothing really new to take pictures of. The other two here are just of some of the scenery around Bogota. I'll send 2 more of my room in a minute. It's tiny, and it looks like all bunks that are crammed in there will be full, which should be an adventure.
My main spiritual experience has been the strength of priesthood power. On Wednesday morning, I was having a rough time being happy, and I was really working on it. But it seemed that nothing I did helped. During one of our classes, I realized that it was Satan, trying to make me ineffective. Our first Sunday here, we had a devotional about how to remove Satan, so I did exactly what president DuVall told us. I said in my mind "Satan, by the power of the Melchezidek Priesthood, I command you to depart." And then I quoted in my head the First Vision. And the change was almost instantaneous. It was amazing. I'm very grateful for the Priesthood, and the Holy Ghost.

I totally forgot, this Saturday we had a 3 hour proselyting activity. They put us on buses, drove us to a park in Bogota, sent us off, and sent us to get referrals. The 90ish of us got 500 references. They had all of the new Nortes go on Splits with Latinos and the older Nortes, so we could actually be effective. I was with Elder Argyle, and we got 12 references. I didn't do much, but I learned that it's something that I can definitely spend some time improving on. My Spanish continues to improve.
We also had a great district meeting about the strength of families, and how the Gospel blesses families. And Breje especially will be impressed, we were all in tears thinking about it. I want you to know, I love you Mom, and I love you Dad. And of course I love Jalen and Tyson and Kate and Sydney too. I've been told that the last 3 weeks in the CCM feel like one. I guess I'll get to see if that's true.
I love you all, and I want you to know that I'm thinking of you. Thank you for all of your prayers for me.
P.S. Just so you know, my district and my old roomates (who aren't here anymore) wanted me to say hi.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016


CCM group photo
view from my classroom window

Hello everyone! I haven't taken many pictures this week, because it would pretty much just be the same stuff. We didn't go to the temple this week, but Elder Clayton, the president of the First Quorum of the 70 came and gave a devotional. It was pretty great, though it was pretty long. We had a choir to sing in Spanish, "Hark All Ye Nations." My entire district was in it, it was pretty great. It turns out that we all love singing, and one of our teachers got President Duvall to agree to let us sing on our last Sunday here.

As for district leader responsibilities, we basically have to set an example for our district, make sure they're following the rules, and on Fridays during personal study we have a meeting. He has to do stuff like starting off classes with hymns and a prayer. There have been Norte sisters at the CCM in the past, just not right now. As for the temple, it's supposed to open back up in September, so we should be able to go at least once. I had to use my card to buy a Spanish Book of Mormon. I wrote the amount in pesos in my book, but I'm not sure what it transfers to in English.
That's awesome about Charity and the Webbs visiting our ward.
President DuVall said that letters sent to the CCM take a really long time to get here, and packages might never show up. We will just have to see. I don't know what it will be like in the field. As for emails, it seems that at least this week and next it will be at 1:30 my time, after that it might change, I'm not sure. We will see how it goes.
Teaching is getting better. We have new investigators now, and one of them is great. The other always just responds to our questions by saying I don't know. It can be frustrating. As for the difficulties, it's mostly because I can't say everything I'd like to say. The teachers are pretty good about using Spanish that we can understand.
I'm not going to lie, I'm getting a little tired of the CCM, even though it is very helpful. Most of us just want to get out in the field.
It's president Duvall's rule that on Sundays, when we go to the temple, and when there is a General Authority visiting, we all wear suits. Since the Barranquilla Elders don't have suits, we try to wear sweaters at those times.
It's pretty chilly in the mornings, but it always warms up. We usually get something warm for breakfast, which is nice. Also, the ice cream here is amazing! We don't get it often, but when we do it's always really good. We don't have a buffet style place here, just a line, and we only have one option every meal. But there are only about 90 missionaries here, so that makes sense.
My Spanish is getting better, I'm able to understand much better. Sundays we have a combined Sacrament Meeting with all 90 of us in the Joseph Smith room. It looks like a chapel, but there are pictures hanging up in here, so we can't call it a chapel. After Sacrament we have some time before priesthood, then we usually have about 3 devotionals. The Nortes are separate from the Latinos, so we get 6 and they only get 3. They want us to understand, so they're separate. And then the last thing we do is watch a church produced movie/video for about an hour. Sundays are our most relaxing day, but we do a lot of sitting.
Oh yeah, as for time, it's still 6 weeks here at the CCM.

As for Dad's question, at the MTC I don't have to pay for anything unless I run out of soap or deodorant or something. We have washers and dryers, and we get to do laundry twice a week. We have a schedule that we have to stick to. The soap is free, and so are haircuts. Funny story, last Wednesday (the first day here) we were sitting in our classroom waiting for our class to start, and this lady walks in and points at me and one or two of the other elders and said to follow her. It turns out our hair was too long, so we were forced to get a haircut.
I also made the terrible mistake of showing my raptor impression to my district. Now my animal is a raptor, and they all want pictures of me doing it. 
My main struggle this week has been going through highs and lows. Sunday was amazing, I felt great, and then yesterday I struggled, especially in the evening. My district was supposed to be doing language study, but instead we practiced the song we wanted to sing for the last Sunday. I could almost feel the Spirit leave a little, and now I know that I have to be really obedient. That's the main lesson that I've learned this week.
I just remembered, there's a Norte missionary from Boise who's on his way home right now. It's medical, and I feel really bad for him. His name is Elder King, and he was going to Cali. He has some disease that has made him almost completely blind in his left eye, and apparently just a day or two ago they found the same thing in his right, so they want to do a surgery so he won't go completely blind. I feel really bad for him, he is a really nice guy. Hopefully he will be able to recover and get out fairly quickly. It's a 4 month recovery time.
Anyway, good luck with school for Mom and Kate, I know you will both do great. You are all in my prayers every night. Thank you for the prayers said for me, they help a lot. I love you all and miss you!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

First week!

with Elder Georgeson
 My district: me, Elder Georgeson, Elder Woods, Elder Williams, Elder Fuel, and Elder Boyak
 at the temple
temple grounds

the CCM

our classroom

my lunch

Finally the first week is done! It's been a long week, but I've been told that after that they are a lot shorter. So much has happened, I don't know if I can put it all in a single email. My district is the Mormon district. There are six of us, all going to Barranquilla. We are the only elders in the CCM without suits. Well, there is one other going to Barranquilla, but he isn't in our district. The CCM is amazing, I've already learned so much. I already feel pretty fluent. Well, at least in Spanglish. But I can definitely say that the gift of tongues is real, because I'm learning a lot and somehow remembering almost all I learned in my three years of high school Spanish. Everyone here is really nice, they don't even call us Gringos. We are the Nortes. Anyone who isn't Latino is a Norte, even Filipinos, which does happen. We don't have any Norte Hermanas with us, all the Hermanas are Latinas. All the missionaries are super nice, even when the Latinos laugh at our terrible Spanish, it doesn't seem mean. It's amazing what a couple of weeks in the CCM can do to you.

My teachers are really great, they've been a lot of help. I've already taught three lessons; the second one was really good, the others, not so much. In the last one he said that he believes that all churches are true and he doesn't see the need to settle on one. And I couldn't think of anything to say to him. But our teacher helped Elder Georgeson (my companion) and me to come up with a plan for the next lesson tomorrow.

By the way, I'm sorry if I'm not responding to all your questions. I have one hour and want to make sure I get this all sent out.
My flights were pretty good. On my first there were actually three other missionaries, one sister going to the Mexico MTC and Santiago Chile, and a sister and elder (who were second cousins) going to the South Africa MTC for two separate missions. From Salt Lake there were tons of missionaries, and least twenty or thirty. Since our Salt lake flight was delayed, we were worried about our Atlanta flight, but since it was delayed too we made it ok. We met up with all of the other elders going to Colombia and actually had to wait for a while. You could instantly tell which elders were going to Barranquilla, because we were all wearing short sleeves without a suit :)
It's actually pretty chilly here in Colombia, at least in Bogota. It hasn't rained much, today is the most so far. The temple is closed, but we still got to go and see the outside and I got my Spanish scriptures, which apparently they expected me to have already (even though it wasn't in the packet).
We wake up every day at 6:30 and have half an hour to clean up and get ready for personal study at 7. We have one hour, then breakfast, which usually consists of eggs mixed with meat, some strange juice, bread and rolls that are kind of like croissants, and sometimes a small bar of cheese. It's actually pretty good. Then we have classes about teaching, the language, that kind of stuff. The teachers mostly speak Spanish, so it's good practice. Lunch is at 12:30, and we normally have rice with some kind of soup and meat. I can't say that I've liked all of it, but most of it is pretty good. After that it's more studying and learning. We have half an hour every day to teach an investigator (one of the teachers) every day. We have companionship study and one hour every day for exercise. We play a lot of soccer, it's pretty great.
Elder Georgeson is awesome. He's from New Mexico, along with another elder in our district. We both try to speak the language as much as possible, except sometimes late at night when we are both too tired. We have two Latino roommates, and we see a lot of Latinos and spend a lot of time with them. They speak really fast. It's hard to understand sometimes, but I'm getting better. I can almost have a simple conversation :) It's pretty great here.
Actually, Elder Georgeson told me that I can make a Google Drives file to put all my pictures in and share it so you guys can look at them whenever you want. I'll try to do that as much as possible. These are pictures of my lunch today, my classroom, and the CCM.
By the way, Elder Georgeson is our District Leader. He was asked on Friday or Saturday, which means I'm also kind of a district leader, though I didn't get the choice :)
Anyway, if I think of anything else to say, I'll send off a quick email. I love you all, thank you for your prayers, they help me a lot.
Mom, can you send this to the people on my email list if you want? I don't know that I'll have time. By the way, I don't want to say only good things. I do struggle a lot, often with doubts about myself and my ability. But my companion and I help each other, and I can feel the strength of your prayers. Thank you all so much. It seems that every time I'm having a difficult time, we have a class or devotional that helps.

I love you all, and I can't wait to hear back from you next week!