Monday, January 26, 2015

It's My Birthday!

Hey Everyone, 

So first things first, I do have the release date info now. I will be home Friday 6/27 and I’m very excited although I will be in transit for over 24 hours by the times its done but at least I’m heading out with 6 other Elders. I have a long bus ride from the coast to Medellin, then a plane ride to Bogota followed by a long red eye flight to New York and then finally arriving in Salt Lake Friday morning. I may be dead from traveling so much but I’m excited to be able to see everyone. No Lydia though since she will already be in the MTC but I’m even more excited to go down and see her the next week in Provo. It's so cool they allow that now.

So it was my birthday this week. I’m the big 2-1. The actually day was somewhat a bust. Our lunch got canceled, so we went to a mall to go to a Mexican food place I wanted to try. It was really good. So worth some of the birthday money I spent. Afterwards I went to leave and my comp asked “Don’t you want to look around to see if you want to buy things for your birthday?” I told him that I could do it on Monday. He responded with “We are not leaving until you at least get one present.” So since he forced me I decided a little shopping would be ok before our next appointment but we needed to watch our time carefully. I was able to find some great shoes that were on sale. Mom has totally corrupted me that way. I also found a great tie and a nail trimming kit so I can keep my nails nice instead of ripping them. I may be a retired hand model but that doesn’t mean that I can slack off. As we were walking out, we found a little stall called Safari: Toys for Men. They had guns, knives, poker sets, lighters, laser pen, pretty much everything that any manly man would want. I was strong and resisted just so you know. The rest of my birthday money I spent on food.Almost this whole we were out of luck on lunches. They all got canceled so Elder Smith and I used the rest of the money you sent me to make food. It was awesome, the best birthday gift ever! I got 6 whole days without rice & beans and cucumbers. Below are of two of the big things we made. It was super good. Sadly, we were unable to make a cake since we do not have an oven but Sister Quirogas birthday is on the 8th so I’m going to make a cake for the both of us on that day in the church. I will make sure to use the fancy candles Mom sent me.

As for the sickness I have had, I’m over the main problems. I still have a low fever and from my knees down I hurt but it is not that bad.I just feel really old. It hasn’t been a problem at all, we are still working hard.I’m taking pain meds to help with the legs and the fever so its fine now and they said I’m doing really well. All my symptoms are totally normal.

I was happy to hear that Bean did so well on her farewell talk. I know that she is going to be a great missionary. The people of California don’t even know what they are getting. I think one of the reasons that she was called to speak Spanish is that she can learn to listen and be humble, thats what I learned coming here to Colombia. Either way she is going to be just what they need.

Well, I’m glad that everyone is doing great and that all is well. Love you all.


Here is the awesome food from my birthday money. We made 3 cheese tortellini, huge amounts
 of bacon for our sandwiches. The sandwiches were a huge bun filled with spicy guacamole,
 the awesome bacon and teriyaki weiners. I really prefer cooking for us and my comp was more
 than happy to share. The Dr. Pepper was a gift from the Sisters. They brought is back from Medellin for me.

Here are pics of my sweet shoes, tie and nail kit.

Monday, January 19, 2015


Hey Everyone,

So I got my new comp this past week. His name is Elder Smith. He is from New Mexico. He came from a different part of the coast so he already knows how fun the heat is. He is a great guy, the only problem is that he is pretty new in the mission (5 months) so he doesn't know Spanish all that well. I’m helping little by little to help him improve. I was also able to present my new Companion to all of the members to establish a good impression. I think they like him a lot. We had a lot of success this week with the people we are teaching. Our biggest problem is having people welcome them on Sunday and have members there at the meetings to begin with. We are trying to help them understand the importance of this day but we are having no luck. 

We also had a district contacting activity this week to really push finding new investigators. We were really concerned if it was going to work because, before the whole district showed up to start, the Jehovah´s witnesses showed up and started contacting the exact same area that we had planed to contact.We decide to go forward with the plans anyway and it worked out to our advantage. Since every one was annoyed about their Jehovah´s witnesses, the only people that let us in were the people who were ready to hear the gospel so it worked out well.

Other news is that I'm not district leader any more. They changed it to another Elder. I was super sad about it when they first told me, but then I realized that I would have a lot more time for my area this last transfer so that will be nice. My District told me they thought I was the best leader they ever had though so that was even better. They said I focused on them and their needs more then just numbers and being efficient. So that made me feel better.

Although not everything is good news this week. On Sunday I was diagnosed by Dr. Pastrana that I have chikungunya. I had a really high fever, headache, diarrhea, joint pain, muscle pain, fatigue, and nausea. I feel a lot better today but yesterday I could barely get out of bed. My plan is to take it easy today so that I will be able to work tomorrow. Although I came to know how our investigators feel when they say they couldn't do any thing because they had chikungunya. It's a common sickness and since I did not have a really bad case and have good medical care I should not have any lingering problems. Tell Mom not to freak out. It will be ok. I had my comp give me a blessing so I know everything will be ok.

So this week is my birthday and I have no plans yet but if everyone wants to send me a nice email they are welcome to.


P.S. No pictures this week cause I’m a sicko but I will do better for my birthday report next week.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Making the Best of It

Hey Everyone,

So first an update on our strange meeting last week with the Branch President. He never apologized for yelling at everyone but he has mellowed out a lot. I think he just came to the end of his rope with church and work and everything else and just lost it for a bit. He is the chief nurse at a hospital in Monteria so I'm pretty sure that would be stressful. My comp and I have been brainstorming on how to help him be less stressed and we have stepped up even more trying to get the members to take more initiative with the member so they can help us in our area. We have been trying to show him more love. I hope it works. I feel bad he was so overwhelmed. Everybody has bad days though. 

Also I just got of the phone with the zone leaders about the transfers and I'm not going any where, however Elder Conti is going to a different district of the zone. I’m going to be with Elder Smith for my last transfer. He wont be here until Tuesday or Wednesday so next week I will have an update on what he is like. He will be my first non latino comp, kind of crazy. Six more weeks now and then I’m done. This is getting weird.

As far as the rest of the week it was filled with lots of little miracles. Just the spirit telling us to do something and the results were answers to prayers of another. I will share one. yesterday I got super sick after an appointment so we went back to the house and I thew up all of my lunch that day. I felt crappy and didn't want to go anywhere but the spirit told me. “You feel good enough, go to your next appointment. Don't stay in the house.” When we got there the Sister’s little boy had a high fever and was crying softly. She asked us to bless her son to make him feel better. I know that she had been praying for help. The spirit was able to guide us in ways that we did not quite understand in the moment but because we listened we were able to be tools in the Lords hands. I know that God loves his children and that he always sends help and almost aways it is though his worthy sons and daughters that he sends that help. I’m so grateful that we have so many opportunities to help mothers in our lives.

So that is all I have time to write. I’m sorry that it’s a short letter but I have to help the zone leaders with the meeting that they are going to have. They have asked me to teach a little of what I taught in the last district meeting. Its about planing for the spirit and receiving revelation as to the date in which our investigators are to be baptized so I have like no time left, sorry.

However I want to let you guys know that I love you and I have felt your prayers and I’d like to thank you for your support. Hope you all have a great week.


Lemonade flavored “Crack”. Not sure about this.

After last weeks district meeting Elder Conti and I splurged on dessert.

Last Monday a nice member had our whole district over for to eat.
It was awesome!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Happy 2015 Maybe

Hola Amigos,

Well, first thing, I still do not know anything about my release date. According to church headquarters it will be the last week of February since my visa is going to expire but I have no flights or anything else yet. I know Lydia and everyone else wants to know. Sorry. It's only about 7 weeks now, crazy. Maybe Dad should call downtown.

Also, things went down hill in our branch this week. The Branch President was told that if they don’t sextuple (6x) their numbers this year then they will be closing the branch at the end of 2015 and combining them with the ward that is much further away. The Branch President told everyone in the branch council meeting we were in and he was really frustrated and got really mad at everyone. He yelled at us as missionaries that we were not helping more in retaining and teaching and got really mad. I know he was just frustrated and upset but yelling at everyone, especially the missionaries who are really trying is not going to help. I know my district is working really hard to help, we don’t have any slackers right now. I wish we could do more but it comes down to the branch too. Everyone left the meeting totally down and sad. We tried to talk to him afterwards to make some common ground and brainstorm how to help him more but he didn’t even listen. He just started quoting half scriptures to make his point, you know, leaving out parts to make his point seem like it was doctrine. He just got more and more angry and said he was going to call the Mission President. That does not bother me though because I know we are praying and doing our best. I also give detailed reports to the president each week so he knows how our branch had been struggling. I’m just worried about the people we are teaching now and hoping they don’t just pull the missionaries from this area for a while. He seems to only be concerned about numbers which is sad. Maybe being part of the ward again would be a good thing after all. It just made me and my whole district so upset. I wish there was more we could do but it is up to the members too. I will be writing our mission president again today with another update and maybe he can help.

Well, on to more happy things. Our New Years was ok but probably not as fun as anyone back home. We had planed to buy pizza with the zone leaders, but last minute they were invited to a members house to eat so they left us with the keys to their house and went to go eat. So lame but I don’t blame them. They also went to bed at like 9 so they just wanted to be party poopers. It was stupid. I for one stayed up until midnight so I could watch all the people do stupid stuff with fireworks from our windows. Sadly there was nothing like last year with sofas on fire or drunk guys catching their arms on fire. I guess that was a good thing tough.

The next day sadly I got sick. My stomach felt like it wanted to get rid of everything that had to do with 2014. We stayed home all day and I lay on the floor so I didn’t die. I drank lots of powerade to stay hydrated. I also took a super expensive pill the doctor told me to buy. I only had to buy two but the pricing $1 each was super expensive for Colombian standards. I also took ibuprofen every 4 hours (20 tablets 400 mg for $1) to help with the slight fever I had. However every thing is good now. My stomach still feels a little wonky but I think thats due to the fact of the food here.

So Saturday was a crazy day. We had to empty the baptismal font with buckets. The drain wasn’t working and the water smelled bad. There was a baptism for the sisters this week so I know it had to be drained and cleaned one way or another. I rolled up my pant legs (I was in slacks) and waded in to the font to pull out water with buckets. Within seconds Elder Conti started helping me out, taking the buckets I filled and dumping them in the bathroom. After we were at it for about 10 minutes the other two elders made it to the church and started helping us out. We were working for 2 and a half hours to empty the font. At the very end as I was using a mop to take out the last little bit, the drain started working. A member in charge of the maintenance showed up out of the blue and went and fixed the problem with the pipes out side. It was a huge example to me of Ether 12:6

“And now, I, Moroni, would speak somewhat concerning these things; I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.”

Faith precedes the miracle, we had to show our faith and act before the Lord sent the miracle. It was an awesome moment, well at least for me. For any of the others that didn’t help it was a simple series of events. For those who say it was a faith building moment.

Last, what ups with gas being so cheap back home? Here in Colombia they pay out the wazzoo for gas. They use the UK gallon, which is 1:0.832674  to our gallon (US gal:UK gal) and it costs here around 12,000 pesos which is about $5-6 so with the conversion its $5.80-7.00. The problem they have here is that they export all of their petroleum to the US then we refine it and sell it back to Colombia as gasoline. So pricey!

Well I hope you have a great week full of starshine, rainbows, and mountain snow. l


P.S. Sorry, no pics this week.