Monday, September 26, 2016

Power in Testifying

With Elder Troche, headed to play soccer with the zone
A typical street, lined with mango trees. A lot of the streets have asphalt,
but a lot are also dirt.

Nathan's first zone conference, with Elder Falabella of the Seventy
The Falabellas with the Gallego Family
Thank you all for your emails, I love to hear from all of you. To start, this has been a week of highs and lows. I rolled my ankle late Tuesday night and it was very difficult to walk for a little while and very painful. The next morning was very hard for me, I felt very homesick for a long time. I actually felt pretty depressed. What helped me most was our training. Elder Falabella came and that day we heard from him, his wife, and President and Hermana Gallego. Their messages helped me a lot, and the things I have studied this week have been very powerful for that. I've definitely learned a lot about the Atonement this week and how I can apply it for myself. I think my biggest struggle is similar to the struggle of President Hinckley in his mission, I need to forget myself and go to work. But sometimes that's difficult. I'm working on it and getting better.
But everything is pretty good. I'm starting to adjust to the heat, more or less. The food is all fantastic. I had fish for the first time yesterday, and it was pretty tasty. It was the whole fish, head and all, fried. But it was very good. I definitely know that the blessing for missionaries is real, because I'm able to eat everything that people put in front of me. Even the tomatoes and green beans. I've learned to just mix it with the  rice and other stuff. As for food, our meals usually consist of rice, sometimes beans or lentils, with some kind of meat like chicken or beef cooked in some different form. And often potatoes. It's all very delicious. There are also usually some form of bananas, fried, roasted, every form imaginable. It's all very good. And the juices are all fantastic. So far my favorite is from some fruit called mora. But last night we tried one made from green mangoes and it was divine. And we learned that pretty much every tree that we walk under is a mango tree. But most of the mangos aren't ripe yet, but apparently their juice is still fantastic.
Elder Troche doesn't speak much English, but it's helping me to understand Spanish a lot. Our biggest problem is time. Sometimes he and I talk too much to the investigators and have a hard time getting to all of our appointments. But we have plans to fix that. Also, we aren't starting the area up again. There were missionaries here before us, but we've heard rumors that some of them were pretty disobedient, which means that we really need to win the trust of the members. Which we are working  at. The branch is really small. There are about 90 registered members, but about 50 attend regularly. But we had a branch conference this week and had almost 70, one of which was an investigator.
But I've realized that I'm a lot more confident in my Spanish during the lessons, and I'm starting to be able to understand more and more. I know more will come with time. I just have to focus almost completely in what they're saying. But when I do that and make an effort to love them, I definitely feel the gift of tongues.
I've learned that it's very hard to teach effectively, it requires a whole lot of thought and effort on my part. But there is an undeniable power when my companion and I testify. It's hard, but there is power, and I love to feel it. I need to be able to make the gospel applicable to the lives of the investigators, because that's when they will feel it. We received a reference for an investigator names A_____ this week who was awesome. Hes been searching all his life for a church, and said that as soon as we stepped on his porch, he felt something different. We hope for good things from him. He's searching for work, and of course the one day he found a short term job was on Sunday, which we were very upset about. But it's alright, we are going to work with him a lot.
As for our area, we have Santo Tomas and an area called Sabana Grande, which we have yet to visit since we've barely started learning our area. It's difficult, we are exhausted every night. But I also learned that Elder Troche loves music like I do, which was pretty great. He wants you to record yourself playing Come Thou Fount on the piano, Mom, and send it so we can listen to it.
I think that's all for this week, if I think of more I'll send out some more! I love you all, thank you for your prayers and thoughts on my behalf, and I look forward to hearing from everyone this next week! I love you!!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Santo Tomas

Holy cow its soooooo hot here. But its also pretty great. Sorry, I dont know how to use the apostrophe on this keyboard. I dont have a ton of time, because its been crazy and I dont have as much time as I will normally. Normally Ill have one hour, and itll be from 430 to 530 my time normally.
We are in an area called Santo Tomas, and neither Elder Troche nor I have ever been there. So its been a bit difficult. We have a huge area, and a lot of this week has been used to get to know the area. But the branch president is pretty great. For meals we have contracts, at least for lunch and dinner. That means that theres a member of the ward who we pay a small amount of money to each month, and they feed us lunch and dinner every day. Its a good system, and so far all of the food has been delicious. Rice every meal, but its very tasty.
There have been gringos here before, but apparently they didnt look quite as gringo as me, because I get a lot of stares from the people. They are very kind with my Spanish, which is actually getting along pretty well. Its far from perfect (far from proficient might be more honest) but I get by the people here speak pretty fast, but im getting to the point where I can understand a bit better. But yes, its difficult. But I like it here a lot. Santo Tomas is actually about an hour and a half from Barranquilla. Most of it is pretty poor, but its very safe. Thats what everyone says, and I havent felt unsafe once. There was a big party festival thing this weekend, so we were a bit more careful at night (since Im so obviously American) but we had no problems. 
As for mail, it seems that if you send it to the mission home, I can get it. One of the Elders that came with us had a package waiting for him, and Ive seen others get mail. I dont know about the whole putting pictures of  Jesus on it. It may help, it may not, I dont know.
Everyone here is super nice. Their doors are always open, and they love to talk to us. But when we got here, there were no progressing investigators, and in the last 2 years, there have only been about 10 investigators baptized. So we are working hard to change that.
I want you all to know that I love it here. Even though its hot and we never know where we are, its a great place to be, and Im very glad to be here. The people are super nice and the food is super good. I love you all and think of you often. Thank you all for your prayers for me. Sorry, I cant send pictures because I forgot my plug to the computer. Ill be sure to send some next week. I love you all!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Made It to Barranquilla!

With Presidente and Hermana Gallego
With the Gallego Family
The new Barranquilla missionaries!
I don't have much time, only about 10 minutes. I made it fine, but we left the CCM at 330 in the morning. It's been a bit of a long day. My trainer's name is Elder Troche, from Bolivia. I haven't met him yet, but everyone tells me that he's very funny. I'm going to be here in Barranquilla for my first transfer. It's very warm, right now it's a little less than Florida in August, but everyone is telling us that today is one of the coolest days they've had on their missions. We just had a great lunch at a Tucanos like place, but a bit more fancy. It was really good. We are going to be working in Barranquilla most of today. I'll officially go to my area tomorrow around 2. My pday is on Monday. We don't have set times to email, so I don't know when I'll be able to. I'll have one hour, like at the CCM. I love you all, and hope you're all doing well.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Last Week in the CCM

The temple that's now opened
All the Nortes going to Barranquilla (the one to my left is Elder Eyring from Seattle who came in 2 weeks ago, and to his left is Elder Kennedy who was in the other district.)

Angel Moroni, now uncovered

This is La Sala Jose Smith. This is where we have sacrament meeting.
I'm up on the stand taking this picture, just so you know.

It's the last week in the CCM! It's so weird to think that in a week I'll be out in the field. I don't have flight plans yet, I think we start on that stuff on Saturday. We have two more lessons, one with each investigator. We were actually supposed to have another tonight, but they made our devotional tonight longer so only one companionship can do it. Which I'm sad about, because it's the one with Hermana DuVall, who yes, is President Duvall's wife. It's one of the unique things about the Colombia CCM; because it's so small, President and Hermana DuVall are really involved in things here. Other Elders in the District actually have President DuVall as an investigator. They both give really good feedback. We also have devotionals with them every Sunday, just the 17 Nortes and them. It's pretty great. I've learned a lot from them, especially effective ways to teach.
We got to go to the temple again today. It's pretty incredible to me that for the most part I could understand what was going on, even though it was in Spanish. Last week we had headphones for us Nortes. But not this week. A blessing of the Lord I guess.
As for this week, it's been strange. We are all feeling a little "trunky" but in reverse. We all want to be out in the field. It'll be weird because I've adjusted to the schedule here, it'll be weird to adjust to a new one. Hopefully it won't be too bad. This week has been weird, because hour by hour, it seems to drag. But then I'll look back and realize that it's 6 and I'm about to eat dinner. Then I'll think that it's Tuesday, even though I'm pretty sure that Tuesday was just 3 days ago. I can't say that these last 3 weeks feel like 1, but 2 weeks at the most. It's an odd feeling.
I've learned that if I concentrate really hard when people are speaking, I can understand most of what they're saying. But it takes a lot of focus and concentration. But it's pretty amazing to me that that happens. But everyone I've talked to who's been to Barranquilla says that 1. They talk really fast and 2. They cut off the ends of their words. So if I'm actually in Barranquilla, we will see how much I understand.
Oh yeah, I also learned that they don't do siesta here. So no time to recover strength or energy in the middle of the day. Hopefullyy I'll continue to adjust and be able to work more effectively through the tiredness. I also saw an empanada place today, so I know what I'm looking for in Barranquilla. Also, I've tried the arequipe stuff that Nikki's friends told us about, and it's incredible! It's so good. It's not overpoweringly rich though, which is pretty awesome. And I've heard that McDonalds actually has arequipe McFlurries, so I might have to make a stop in the airport...  And President DuVall told us that Colombians really love American stuff, so I've been hearing about all the American things I can find in Colombia. So far I've heard peanut butter, mcdonalds, burger king, kfc, and even (my favorite) Reeses peanut butter cups!

I don't know what the situation will be like next week. If it's like the last group, I'll probably go to the airport pretty early in the morning. I don't know if I'll be able or allowed to call from the airport like Jalen and Tyson were. I don't know if I'll get the chance to email once I'm in my area or in Barranquilla. We will just have to wait and see I guess.
I hope everything keeps going well and that you're all enjoying your time. I miss you guys a lot, but I know that this is where I should be, and I know that you're proud of me being here. Thank you all for your prayers and thoughts. I love you all!