Monday, January 30, 2017

A Quick Week!

This week has passed incredibly quickly. We had a couple of rough days with only 1 or 2 lessons, but I guess that happens every now and then. We have some people progressing, others no, but that's how the mission is.

Yes, the grandparents got married this Saturday. I'm attaching pictures at the end. They passed their baptismal interview this Sunday, and they're for sure going to be baptized this next Saturday. I'm very happy for them, even though I wasn't a very big part of teaching them. But it's also been stressful, because they were late to church this Sunday. I almost had a heart attack when they were late, but luckily they walked in just after the sacrament.

It's also stressful because I don't know for sure who's going to get baptized next. President Gallego wants us to baptize 4 people every month, which would be about 1 every week. It's stressful, because even if that's just the level of excellence, I still want to be able to achieve it. The problem is that everyone here is willing to listen to "the word" as they say it, but almost no one is willing to commit to come to church and stuff like that. So we often lose time with people that don't actually want to change. It can be a little frustrating, but that's how it is.

I still get to teach the B. Family and also N., but it's been difficult this week. I'm getting a little worried. N. has been super busy; we haven't been able to talk to her all week. And the B. Family canceled two appointments two days in a row. It makes me a bit worried, but hopefully it was just a rougher week. I'm learning and adapting every day to be a better senior companion. The first week was really stressful as I was still learning and growing into the position. But luckily as President Monson says, the Lord qualifies who he calls. I know that I'm extremely weak, and maybe I'm not doing the best that I could be doing. But I'm trying. I can only hope that he realizes the effort and makes the most out of me. 

But yeah, that's been my week. It's getting gradually hotter and hotter, I'm suffering a little bit (or maybe a lot) because of it, but I'm living. The members are taking good care of me, and so are my leaders. I love you all, I hope you have a great week, and that you can do something kind for someone. That's the best way to develop Christlike love.

I hope that Grandma's surgery goes well and that she can recover quickly. Love you all!

Monday, January 23, 2017

New Companion

 Elder Benites and me

As for transfers, I am no longer in the trio. I'm back in my old area, in my old house. I'm still in the same ward, because there are two sets of missionaries there. But I have a new companion. His name is Elder Benites, from Lima Peru. And for the biggest news...I got bumped up to Senior companion. Elder Benites is one transfer younger than me, he just finished his training and came here to be my junior companion. So suddenly I have a bit more responsibility. It's been a bit tougher, and humbling, but so far things are going well. But it's tough, with being between the two areas, some things have fallen behind, so I have to help them get a kickstart. Hopefully things will pick up more this next week.

We should be having a few more baptisms in the coming weeks. The grandparents of the mission leader are going to get married this Saturday. A pastor from Cartegena is coming, and he only requires an ID to marry people, whereas normally you need a register and all that, which can be expensive. So that's been a small miracle for us. The next Saturday the two will get baptized. He also has a cousin who wants to get baptized, but we have to wait so they can get married. With luck, it'll happen soon.

The Bautista family might take a bit longer. Their financial situation still isn't very good. They were thinking about getting married in the middle of the year or maybe in December. I can see that Jorge is still a bit more or less about the church, but hopefully if he can attend and gain a testimony, it'll be better.

Nolfis is progressing in her own time. The problem is that she works a ton, so it's hard to get in to see her. Hopefully she's started to read. But she hasn't been able to attend church the last 2 Sundays, and won't be able to for 2 Sundays more for work. It's difficult, but she's a great investigator, we just need some patience with her. Those are the investigators with the most potential right now. Which frustrates me, I want more, but we'll see who turns up these next few weeks.

On Wednesday we get to go to Santa Marta again. Which means waking up at 2 in the morning to get on a freezing bus for 4 hours. Yay....

But everything's been pretty good. My new companion and I get along really well, we have no problems. That's about all the news for this week, I hope everyone's doing well.

I love you all, I hope you have a great week. I'm loving my time here, even if I'm constantly dying of heat and I walk a ton. I love being out here, and I'm learning a ton. Have a great week!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Good week!

I was thinking that in about 2 weeks, I'm going to pass the 6 month mark. Literally a fourth of my mission is almost gone. It's such a weird thought. I feel like I just got here. I can't believe that the time is going so quickly, but I guess that's pretty normal when you're literally busy every second of every day.

This week was pretty normal, but we had some pretty great experiences. We did teach Nolfis again. It's very interesting to teach her, because she comes to every lesson armed and ready with questions, and she expects answers in the Bible. It requires a whole lot of preparation, because she's very intelligent. The last lesson, I felt, got a bit too long and a bit too much into unimportant details. That's a trap that I feel like a lot of missionaries fall into. Rather than teach the simple, basic truths, they fall into trying to "prove" that the church is true with the bible and stuff. I personally prefer to teach simply and let them gain a testimony, which maybe isn't always the best approach. I have to be willing to adjust, even though it's hard. So that's something I've been struggling a little bit with. But it's all good, you learn something from every companion.

But anyway, back to Nolfis. Things were getting a little off track, but she was accepting it all, and I was trying to get it back to the basics. While a returned missionary that was accompanying us was talking, I was just pleading in my heart that I would be able to say something that would be able to help her feel the desire to read the Book of Mormon. And when I finally had the chance to speak, the words that came out weren't mine. They were filled with a power that I could never duplicate no matter how hard I tried. Before I finished my testimony, she was nodding and it seemed to me that she wanted to read the Book of Mormon (which was bad because we didn't have a copy to give her.) But that was pretty amazing.

Other than that, we found again a family that Elder Martinez was teaching. They're a fairly young couple with a 3 year old girl that reminds me of Hallie. And of course, because I'm in Colombia, they're not married, because literally NO ONE HERE IS MARRIED. Sorry, it's a little frustrating sometimes. They're called Jorge and Julis. They want to get married, but neither of them was working so they were worried. Then he got a job and is almost never home, and she went on vacations for the holidays. But before they left, I always saw their desire as being more or less. I was worried we'd have to leave them. But I don't know what changed, we kind of started again at the beginning when we found them and taught the Restoration again. By the end of it, it was amazing, they were saying that they feel comforted knowing that there's a prophet of God here on the earth again. And then we went again on Saturday, and julis said that she got an answer, that she knows the church is true. I almost didn't believe it, because she's always been a little doubtful in how her answer would come, even when we explained it to her repeatedly. Jorge is still unsure, but yesterday he attended church for the first time and really liked it! He was participating in the classes and remembered what we learned about the Restoration. He even wants to download some of the manuals so he can keep reading them.

That was pretty special about this week. I'm really excited for them. Also, the grandparents of the Ward Mission leader should be able to get married soon ( more miracles I'll talk about later), and should be baptized. We passed over the baptismal interview questions with them yesterday. He also has a cousin and nephew that want to get baptized too, but we have to wait a bit on them. Her boyfriend/spouse/whatever doesn't come very often, but when he does she always ends up pregnant. She really wants to get baptized, so when he comes (sometime this month supposedly) she's going to give him an ultimatum. It's incredible, she sees how important the gospel is, she's willing to give him up to be baptized. We will see how it goes.

That's about all the news from this week. I love you all and hope you have a great week

Monday, January 9, 2017

Tennis, anyone?

This has been a pretty normal week. More or less I should say, because we did have some changes. We had a zone conference on Thursday, and they announced our new plans for 2017. And we recived a worldwide announcement:  the missionary schedule is changing! It's not that big of a change, they're basically just putting more trust in the missionaries to do what needs to be done in our areas. We don't have set times for companionship and language study, we can put that at whatever point in our day. And now on p-day, we are free to do what we want or need after 8am. Basically pday got extended to 10 hours instead of 6. They also cut companionship and language study on pday. So that was pretty interesting.

Other than that, this week was pretty normal. Lots of walking, really hot, lots of sweating. But I did get the package from Levi, and two letters, from Kali and Rob, and Matiu and Jenny! Thank you so much for writing me, I really appreciated it. Though I don't know why I´m getting some letters and not others, it's weird. We will see what happens. I've written some letters, but due to the sketchiness of letters here (and the fact that I have no clue how to send them) I might have to hang on to them until I come home. I don't know, we will see what happens.

It's so crazy that you guys had such a crazy week with the snow and all. I miss that. You know that I love the snow, it makes me sad that I miss the year when we get a ton of it. But that's the way life is.

This week has been pretty boring. We did get to talk to Nolfis again (the mom with the 8 year old son). The lesson was basically a disaster. We weren't teaching in unity, we weren't teaching clearly, but it got better at the end. This caused a lot of self reflection and doubt that night. But I have to trust that even though we are far from perfect teachers, the Spirit can touch her heart. And now I have to keep preparing and becoming better to be able to help her. Even though it's hard I can do it.

That's about all I have to say about this week, not much else interesting happened. Here are some pictures of something interesting I found, and I knew I had to get a picture of it. So here you go, me and my companions with a giant tennis racket!

Monday, January 2, 2017

Happy New Year!

Nathan's Bishop's family threw him a surprise birthday dinner/party!
They contacted us and asked for pictures of Nathan and our family
and made a poster. Then they sent us these pictures the night of
his birthday. We were SOOOO happy and grateful!

How did they know he'd love the Woody cup?! 

Studying the picture poster
With the Bishop and companions
With his Elders Martinez and Menacho
Nathan's birthday gifts to himself:  a milkshake...
...and a Colombia-themed soccer ball

Thank you all for wishing me a happy birthday. I hope you all had a great New Year. I enjoyed mine a lot, even though it was pretty crazy. This week has been very good, we almost had 30 lessons with members this week! It's all because one day we did 3 divisions with members (meaning that it was us solo with a member), and we had a member almost every single day to do a division and another to have lessons with members. We also found some great people, one of which I´m going to talk about later. But my birthday we found this amazing person (the one I´ll talk about later). I was with our ward mission leader, who while we were walking told me a lot of stories from his mission, which was pretty cool. He also told me that I teach really well for someone who only has 5 months in the mission, which caught me by surprise. I asked him for suggestions in how I can improve (which I do anytime a member accompanies me). He actually told me that he didn't have any suggestions for me, which took me by surprise, because he teaches really well. That made me feel pretty good.

After that we went to our first dinner. One of the members invited us over for dinner, and gave us rice with sausage and chicken, which was delicious. They have some traditional dessert here in Colombia. I don't remember what it's called, but its basically a firm pudding that you can cut like cake that tastes faintly of butterscotch. It's really good. Then we went to our actual dinner with the bishop's family, where the surprise happened. We were sitting outside for a long time, and they surprised me when I walked in and saw the poster. They gave us a really good dinner, sang to me, had the cake and all the pictures you saw. Mom, did you seriously send them those pictures? They said that you did. And did you have to include the picture of 15 year old me? It was terrible. But it was really great, I was really surprised. And today I got to celebrate it a bit more when we played soccer. I bought myself a milkshake (as seen in the picture) and a soccer ball (also as seen in the picture). We also didn't get to sleep at all the night of my birthday, because our neighbor downstairs decided to blast music so loud that our house was shaking until about 3 am. But that's pretty normal.
But as for this investigator. It's a single mom with an 8 year old son. We had a really spiritual lesson, with me and our ward mission leader, Hno Wilson who's a returned missionary from Mexico. He works with this lady and got us the reference to talk to her. Her son is really funny, he's super serious and super smart. He reminds me of a more serious Eli. He understood basically everything we shared. After this lesson we were talking with the other missionaries, and Hno Wilson was talking about our authority to promise blessings to people. He said that this lady accepted our visit because she's feeling empty, like there's something missing in her life. She didn't say this to me, but to some friend who told Wilson. And he told the elders that I promised her that if she listened to us and applied what she learned, she wouldn't feel this emptiness. He said I said almost exactly that, and he was very surprised, because no one had said anything about that to me. I don't remember saying anything like that, but it makes me feel better. It makes me feel like even though I'm weak, and I'm missing a lot, the Lord still uses me to talk to those that He's prepared. Sometimes we worry too much about saying the perfect thing, being 100% sure that we're feeling the Spirit. But we don't need to do that, we need to do what feels right and trust that He'll work with it.
I think that's about all the news for this week, I hope you all have a great week and that the new year starts out great for you all. I love you all, thank you for your prayers and support.