Monday, December 26, 2016

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Zone Conference Party--two zones combined.
(Nathan's wearing the bright green tie in the front row.)
 
Nathan's zone (look for the green tie!)

 
  
Nathan's district
 
With the Gallego Family
 
With his companions

 
From our Christmas Day skype with Nathan!
 
 
Don't worry about the whole birthday thing, I totally forgot too. The hour passed really, really fast. I felt like we talked for about 10 minutes, I looked at the time and saw that half an hour had passed by already. It was really weird. But it was so great to see you all! I didn't think that so many people would be there. But it was so good to see everyone. Sorry that there were a few interruptions and that the time was so short, but president said 1 hour, I have to be obedient.

This week has been a bit more difficult, being the Christmas season and all. Not many people want to talk to us. Hopefully things can pick up this week. We had a whole lot of lessons fall through, and we spent a whole lot of time walking around. But hey, it's helping me to lose that belly that you guys saw, so it's alright. But we did see a miracle this week. The family of our ward mission leader aren't members, but they've now received all of the lessons and really want to get baptized, but they live in the infamous union libre. And it's going to cost them about 500,000 pesos to get married, which is hard because they're really in debt. But we went and taught about faith and miracles, and said that if they'll do everything possible, the Lord will make up the difference. Later in the week, the man went to the bank to go pay one of his debts, which was about 150,000 pesos, and when he got there, they told him the debt was only 30,000 pesos. That´s probably one of the most incredible miracles I've seen. I really know that if we are willing to do everything possible, even if the task seems impossible, the Lord will make up the difference. In Ether 12, I think it's verse 6, it says that if there's not faith among men, God can't work any miracles. But if there's faith, that means He can and will help us. That applies to every part of our lives. As we demonstrate our faith through our actions, the Lord will provide the  miracles according to His will.

And Dad, there's a video that I saw that I want the priests of our ward to see. As I watched it I thought of them. I don´t know if it´ll help with their difficulties, but it could. It's called The Atonement and Missionary Work. It starts with a talk from President Eyring and then a talk from Elder Holland. It's really great, President Eyring is talking about being diligent, learning and doing your priesthood duty. It's a really powerful video. Speaking of the priests, are there any that have started to fill out mission papers?

I think that's all of my news for this week. We will see how this week goes with the new year and all of that. We probably won't do anything for my birthday, I might get a call from President Gallego, I don't know. It'll probably just be a normal work day. But we'll see. This year has passed by so quickly, I remember clearly my last birthday. I don't know where the time´s gone. At this rate, I´ll be back home in no time! I love you all, I hope that you all have a great week and a great new year! See you all in 2017! Love you!

Monday, December 19, 2016

Christmas!

My old house, which is still technically mine even though I don't live there.
My big suitcase with some stuff is still there, even though the majority
is here in the other area.
 
Sorry that it's not great, but this is us in our outfits for the sketch. It's funny,
Elder Martinez looks like he's in his late 20s or early 30s, but he's really only 19,
only about 2 months older than me, and Elder Menacho is 20.

Also on Saturday we did a service project. This is me and Elder Menacho.

This is the view from the balcony of my house; it's really pretty.


Wow, what an interesting week. I had to laugh, because later Monday night, just a few hours after emailing you all about how much I love my new area and all that, we got a call from our zone leaders, district leader, and one of the assistants at the exact same time. We are in a ward here in Garupal, Valledupar. There are two sets of missionaries--my companion and I, and our district leader and his companion. This call on Monday night changed that. We had an emergency transfer late that night. All of Valledupar is a zone, and one of the missionaries in another district had to go home for an injury. Our district leader's companion got transfered to that area, and now we are in a trio with the district leader, and we live in his house. It's been a bit difficult, because we still have to cover both of the areas. But we are working it out. So now I'm in a trio with Elder Martinez and Elder Menacho, from Peru. So now I've had a Bolivian, 2 Peruvians, and an Ecuadorian.
 
Other than that stress, this week has been pretty normal. Our ward mission leader is really funny. He's a returned missionary who really knows his stuff. He's a great help to us. With some of the new ward missionaries, we did a skit at the ward Christmas party on Thursday. It was a comical reenactment of the story of Nephi and his brothers going for the plates. We did a modern version, it was really funny. Everyone was dying of laughter. And of course they had me be Nephi, I don't know why. It's better than before, in the skit we planned before I was going to be Santa. It was interesting. We did a service project with the ward this Saturday, cleaning up a park around here. It was a lot of fun and we got a lot done. But there's definitely a stereotype of Americans here in Colombia. They think that I'm pretty average when it comes to height, and they think that we don't know how to work. Or that we don't like working with our hands. For example (it was a joke), but it was pretty obvious in something the bishop said. I squatted down to pick up some leaves to throw away, and he said, "look at the American using his hands!" It was a joke, and it was pretty funny the way he said it, but there's definitely a stereotype.
 
We ate pizza today!!! It was even Dominos!! It was really good, though it wasn't quite the same.
 
This week should be really fun. On Thursday we get to go to Santa Marta (about 2 or 3 hours in a bus), for our Christmas Conference, where we get to spend the day with President Gallego and do Christmasy things I guess. I don't konw what to expect. But it should be really fun, even if we don't get the chance to work at all that day.
 
I can't believe that Sunday is Christmas! I love Christmas, I get so excited! I have no clue if any of the packages have arrived to the mission office yet. If I don't get them on Thursday, I probably won't get them before Christmas, but that's ok, I'll still be excited for them.
 
Other than that, the work here is still going a bit slowly, but it's starting to pick up. I'm excited to keep seeing the area grow, that's really one of the greatest blessings. There's not really much like it.

But yeah, I think that's about all the news for this week. I'll be suprised if we get to work a lot next week, what with all the parties that'll be happening here. The Colombians really love to party, it's nuts. It's very loud, because it seems like every other house has these huge speakers that probably cost a fortune. (Though I've noticed that technology is super cheap here, I've heard that a bunch of missionaries buy iphones and stuff right before going home because it's super cheap). But still, the music is super loud, I can shout at full voice and my companion by my side can't hear me, it's ridiculous. I don't know how they still have their hearing, because they'll literally sit 2 feet from this speaker all day. But I digress....
 
I love you all, I think of you often, and I can't wait to talk to you on Sunday! We'll be doing it at about 3 my time, about 1 up there, I hope it works out. You're all in my prayers, and I hope you all have a great week leading up to Christmas!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Transfer!

Hi, how are all of you? I hope you all had a great week. I enjoyed mine, it was pretty great. A normal week for a missionary. So tell me a bit about your week.... Just kidding. Sorry, I've been wanting to do that all week, I couldn't resist. And now, for the big announcement.... I'm in Valledupar, pretty much the area farthest away in all the mission. 6 hours in a bus... More like 5, but still, long. But it's sooooo pretty here. There are beautiful mountains in the distance, it's a bit cooler, lots of wind (which reminds me of home). And it's very green. It's probably the prettiest place in the mission. It's definitely the coolest (not saying much, but that's how it is). My compa├▒on is called Elder Martinez, from Ecuador. He's only a bit older than I am, he turned 19 the beginning of December, but he's already been here almost a year. He's pretty great, he loves to laugh, which I appreciate a lot. I enjoy working with Elder Martinez. He was actually in my first zone in my first transfer. Our house here is really great, it's pretty big and comfortable. I really love it here, even if it's hard to walk and I've rolled my ankle a few times. There are many streets that are just rocks, it makes it a bit hard to walk, but it always stops hurting after a few minutes, so no problem there.
 
But yeah, this week has basically consisted of coming here to Valledupar and adjusting to the new area. The work is going pretty slowly, but Elder Martinez and I have some plans for this next week to change all of that. It's hard, because we are pretty low on materials, but for now we are getting along.
 
And wow, I totally forgot that Solomon was coming home soon. I can't believe that it's already been 2 years. The time really flies. I hope that he's adjusting, I can understand how that would be hard. Life really changes here in the mission, I can't imagine having to adjust. Luckily, I've got a bit of time before that happens.
 
Thank you all for writing me, I love you all and hope you have a great week, and that you can all feel the Christmas spirit, because you all now have less than 2 weeks! I love you! Sorry for the lack of pictures, I haven't had time yet to take many. Ciao!

Monday, December 5, 2016

A Baptism! And Transfers...?

The baptism of G_____ and B_____!

Me today in front of some statue in Barranquilla. I have no idea who it is,
but I thought it looked impressive. They later told me that it wasn't very smart,
because it's a dangerous place in Barranquilla, but I still have all of my things,
 even though I got a lot of weird looks.
 
 
Like the email says, today we have transfers, but I'm not going to know who stays and who goes until 7 or 8 tonight. Right now, it seems like I'm going to be leaving. Presidente Gallego called Elder Lezano today and said that he's going to be training again. It'd be uncommon for him to leave and open another area with a new missionary (even though that's exactly what Elder Troche did with me). So right now we are expecting that I'll go, which will be difficult. I really love this area, but if I go, I'm also excited for a new adventure. Next week will see where I am.
 
But I guess I haven't explained exactly what salchipapas are. Let me just say that they are AMAZING and I know that everyone in the USA would love them even if they're incredibly unhealthy. What they are is a type of sausage (called a salchicha, similar to chorizo), that they slice up and fry just a little bit. That's the bottom layer. Then they layer a ton of french fries, cheese, lettuce, sometimes other meat like beef or chicken or pork, and with three different sauces: pineapple, mostanza (mayonnaise and mustard mixed together, super delicious), and rosa (essentially fry sauce). It sounds super weird, I know, but it's really really good. I'll figure out how to make it and bring it to the US.
 
But yes, G_____ and B_____ finally got baptized!!! Just in time for transfers. We had members planned to baptize them both, but one of them showed up late, so as you can see, I got to baptize one of them (because I was more or less prepared with my temple pants). I baptized G_____, it was really special. They are both so prepared. They're going to be great members of the Church.
 
I'm so excited for Christmas!!! Everyone who knows me knows that I absolutely love Chrsitmas, it's my favorite time of year. If I'm still in the Barranquilla area, we are going to have our Christmas zone conference party on the 14th. If I'm in Cartagena, it'll be the 20th, the 24th for Santa Marta. It all depends on where I am, but it'll be great wherever it is. It's so weird to think that pretty soon I'll only have one more Christmas in the mission, really the time passes super fast. I have no idea how I've already finished my training (I finished yesterday). It's so weird to think that I'm not a new missionary anymore, I'm normal.
 
But this week has been interesting. I've barely been able to work, due to an experience on Friday and Saturday. We got our money at the ATM this Thursday, and everything seemed fine. But I tried to pay for some oranges on Friday, and they wouldn't accept it, they said that it was fake. We checked, and sure enough, it was fake. It was a 50,000 bill (a bit less than $20, which doesn't seem like a lot, but it is when we get less than $90 every 15 days). We checked and learned that my district leader, Elder Sanchez, also had a fake bill, and the two bills had the same serial number. So we called the number on the ATM, and they said that we had to go to a Bancolombia office to sort it out, the nearest one was basically 2 hours away. So we got to spend a lot of our day Saturday doing that. A whole lot of money spent and time wasted to do that. But that's how it is.
 
Other than that, the week was pretty normal, though we had a training on Tuesday. I think that's about all for this week. Thanks for all the pictures and the information you sent, I always love to hear and see what's going on in MH. Thanks Dad for setting up the Skype for Christmas, I'm super excited to be able to talk with you guys. I'm going to be counting down the days. I love you all, I hope that you all have a great week, and that you're all able to feel the Christmas Spirit! Even though I'm constantly dying of heat and forget that it's almost Chrsitmas, I love it here, and still love the feeling of Christmas. I love you!