Monday, September 28, 2015

Zone BBQ not sure what the meat was...

Dad--My companion has about 21 months in the mission.  He's gonna die 5 days after Christmas.  I'm really sorry to hear about Sister Smith passing, that's pretty rough.
I have an interview with my president this coming week.  We get interviews every two cambios, change cycles, idk what they're called in English.  I had to give a spiritual thought in a zone meeting last week and it was pretty hard.  despues de dos anos no voy a poder a hablar engles para crap.
I'm gonna try to write about daily life in a letter to Mom, but I don't have much time.  I'll take a picture of something for next week.
Love you Dad, u da bess.
El Libro azul es verdad.
Amen.  Hallelujah.

Oh, and felicidades that you got some elders in the ward finally.  Best of luck with that.  I've thought  a lot about what the heck I would do as a missionary in Idaho.  If I don't have a cita here in Colombia, I can always walk down the street and get into 1 out of 3 houses, no problem.  But at the same time, there's a reason there's no white sisters here haha.
Love you!  Give the missionaries a high five for me.

Mom--Hey, so, I just wrote you a really great letter about a crazy investigator we had.  I really did... but then the awesome Colombian computer shut down and I lost it.  I'm really sorry, but we have to leave really soon.
I'm sorry to hear about Sister Smith's passing.  I'm really glad our Father has a plan for us.
I hope you enjoyed your trip with your Philly friends.  When I come home, we should go there together!
This week was alright.  I'll rewrite you the letter next week, I promise!  This week, I'll have my first interview with the President in the field.  That's exciting.  And we are definitely stoked for conference!  We are making predictions tomorrow, in our district meeting, about which of the seventy will be chosen as the next apostles.  Winners get snickers!  For zone activity we had a barbecue and watched Toy Story.  I'm not sure what the meat was...but I'm am sure it wasn't cooked all the way... Love you lots!

Zone BBQ not sure what the meat was...

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Parke Tyrona--The deep Jungle

 Hey, sorry you didn't get a letter on Monday.  This week we went to a national park all day on Monday, so we didn't have time to write yesterday.  It's something you only get to do once in the mission, and the office tells you when.  We don't have a ton of time, so I took a picture of my journal entry.  

"Monday, September 21, 2015

I'm tired.  In our mission there is a national park called "Parke Tyrona."  it's this HUGE tropical forest with really pretty beaches.  It's one of the bigger tourist spots on the coast.  It's in Santa Marta, an hour away from Barranquilla.  Before President Searle, no missionaries were allowed to go there, but he changed the rule so that every missionary would get to go there at least one time before they finish their mission.  If your companion is about to leave and hasn't been there yet, then you can go with him for the second time.  Well, normally, you get to go at the end of your mission, but Elder Cavero has never been, so we were put on the list to this Monday.

We woke up at 5:00 am to go the terminal of Barranquilla.  We took a bus for 1 1/2 hrs, then another bus for 45 min.  We entered the park on foot, then caught a bus (crappy van) to take us to the trailhead.  Then we walked (hiked) for hours (all day).  This park was ginormous.  We hiked for like 1 1/2 hours until we got to the beach.  We took a bunch of pictures there.  It was super cool to see the ocean, but really hard.  one of the hardest parts about the mission for me is not being able to swim.  After that we kept hiking to this really pretty beach with a restaurant and this tower thing with a bunch of hammocks.  We ate there and then hiked all the way back to the beach and took two busses and a motocar back to our house.  We seriously hiked like 10 miles up and down mountain trails.

It was Elder Cavero's Birthday today (LUCKY).  So this was his birthday present.  It was a really cool day, super long, but pretty awesome.  We are pretty much destroyed right now.  We have permission to send our weekly forms and write the family tomorrow, (my mom is probably freaking out a little bit).  I think when Selena Gomez and I get married, we're gonna go back there to visit."


Dad--Hey sorry, this p-day was nuts.  We were literally gone the whole day, but...
HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!  I'm singing you the happy birthday song right now!  Sorry I wasn't there, I hope you ate lots of ice cream!  This week I went deep into the jungle haha.  We went deep into a real one.  One day I'll take you there and we will actually go swimming.  That's the hardest part for me, that I can't swim.  I hope you had a Happy Birthday.  Eat lots of American food for me.
Love you Dad, you de bess!

Brinley:  Hey Brinley, I haven't gotten any letters yet, sorry about that.  I'll let you know when I do!  I love you Brinley, you're the best!

Spencer:  haha that sucks that you have braces.  I don't even know if I have my retainer.  But I have a spiritual one.  That's awesome that you're loving soccer.  Keep on going love you bro!

Monday, September 14, 2015

We work for the Lord

Tuesday we were waiting outside the door of a less active to see if they were home and a lady walked by on the street and asked if we were Mormons.  Yes we are!  haha  She told us that her family has a lot of problems and her friend told her to go look for the Jehovah Witnesses or The Mormons.  Luckily, she found the Mormons first!

We followed her to her house and she described to us that there has been lots of fighting in her house and she thinks there's bad spirits in her house.  She said that the people who lived in the house before them played that we-gee board game or something and that they did priest craft.

When we got to the house, we found that the husband was smoking and drinking rum.  Both of the sons had problems with beer, rum, illegal drugs, and cigarettes, as well as tea and coffee.  The mom said that they've been having huge fights and it was getting really dangerous in the house.  Then she said, "If you don't believe me, look behind you!"  We turned around to find blood splattered all over the wall.  It was like when you have abstract art day in school, and you splatter the paint with the paintbrush, but with blood.  Yea, so that's not good.  Nope, not good at all.  So, we taught the Word of Wisdom--

We explained directly to the mom, dad, and second son what the Word of Wisdom is, and that they had a problem with this doctrine.  We talked about addictions and spiritual strength.  We promised them that if they could get rid of these addictions that they could have the spirit of the Lord in their house.  The spirit was really strong.  The dad gave us his cigarettes.  It was cool to see them all commit to change and understand what was lacking in their lives.

The second visit, we met with the first son.  He was shirtless, with tattoos all over and a huge scar all up his wrist.  He couldn't move his fingers on one hand because he got hit with a machete.  He had a big drug addiction.  But he understood that he needed to change.  While we were talking with him, the other brother walked by, smoking with cigarettes in his hand, so we sat him down and talked with him too, and took his cigarettes.  The older brother had a really dark countenance--not like normal druggie countenance--like something else was deeply wrong.  You could see the toll that this life had taken on him spiritually.

Before we walked into the house the first time, my companion told me, "I have a bad feeling about this house."  After we met the first son, he said to me, "I'm scared." (In English-haha)

The reason for this story is because of a question a less active member asked us when we used this story as an example of the effects of addictions in the family.  The question was, how were you able to teach the lesson in a place like that?

The answer:  We didn't.  We didn't teach anything.  That's the BEST part about missionary work!  We work for the Lord.  There's NO way that two young men, from different countries, could walk into a man's house, that they've never met before, and tell him to change his life and help his family, then take his cigarettes.  There's NO way we would know what to say or what to do.  We are not therapists or counselors, or rehab experts.  We are not family consultants.  Our job is to have love for these people and open our mouths.  Simple.  When we do our part, God can talk to his children.  When we as missionaries, and when you as members of the church, open your mouths, you are letting God speak to his children and help them.  Help them hear, once again, the plan that God gave us before this life.  You are helping them remember.

When we sat up and looked this family in the eye to tell them God's commandment, and made addiction plans and goals to help each other, the spirit was the one talking.  Not us.  God needs to talk to every child.  But he talks through us.  We simply need to open our mouths.

The blue book is true.

--Elder Mason Burk

Ok, so we wash our clothes in these lavadores, they are kinda like washing machines, but it's really just a big bucket that spins really slow.  
 Next to it is a mini dryer type thing that kinda works ok.  It usually takes us 2 hours every p-day to wash our clothes. 
Elder Cavero reading with so much spirit, his shirt ripped. 
A typical street, with a bonus donkey cart.  
La moharra frita (My Favorite!)

Mason: Hey, Elder Caveros parents didn't write him this week, you should send him a letter real quick (use really simple English)  sergio.cavero (atsimbol)

Mom:  Elder Cavero, We are so glad you are Elder Burk's companion!  What did you do this week?  We are glad he had such a smart, intelligent, good looking trainer.  We were worried that no one would be able to teach him how to do missionary work.
Who did you teach this week?  We want to know how good Elder Burk is doing in his work.  If you write to me in English every week, I will write back to you.
How did you like the American candy?  Tell me which one was your favorite.  I was worried about the chocolate candy making it there without melting.  I hope it turned out ok.  Have a wonderful week!  We pray for you every night.  I hope someday you can come visit us in Idaho.
Lots of love, Sister Burk

Elder Cavero:  "Idont now english ...i love the candys, are delicious . Idon't believe that I be good looking trainer but I now work and elder Burk is good missionary .he will be a leader in the mission later.  I like the skitles but i dont likethe acid skitles.  The chocolate is save because we have freezer ...Ok impleased to meet you .Bye"

Mason: Excellent, Thank you Mom!

Monday, September 7, 2015

The guy with the red pants and sick dreads

Let me share a little life lesson from the guy with the red pants and sick dreads I met before my mission.
Dominic Balli
A couple weeks before I left for Colombia, I went to a concert with a friend.  While we were there, this lady spilled her beer all over the floor right behind us.  She apparently was incapable of cleaning it up, so we wiped it up with some paper towels.  Afterwards, I went to the bathroom to wash my hands (so my parents didn't ask why I smelled like beer).  While I was in the bathroom, I saw a guy with some sweet bright red pants, and probably the sickest hairdoo I've every seen.  He had a big healthy mess of dreads.  I told him I liked his doo and then I left back into the audience to watch the show.

Well, about 15 minutes later, after the first pre-show, the same guy walked out on stage.  He had his red pants, a sick mess of dreads, and a sweet Taylor guitar.  His show was just him with his guitar, and his friend on a mini drum set.  As he talked between songs, he told us about how he started up in Brazil.  He's really well known in Brazil, and usually does lots of tours there, but this year he had  tours through the US.  All of his songs were super upbeat and uplifting.  The main message of his songs was to find the good in everything and everyone.

He related several stories of times when he talked to people that might be homeless, or jobless, or have problems with drugs, or who knows what.  He talked about how we as humans have a first instinct to either reject people or try to help them because we have something that they don't.  But how often do we ask ourselves, "What knowledge does this person have that I don't?" or  "What is it that I could learn from this person?"

I've found this question to be really important in my mission.  As members of the church, we try to help people as much as we can.  We can see easily see the weaknesses of others, but often times we forget to look for their strengths.  The message of this artist was that every single person out there, every single child of God, has something to teach you.  Every person you see on the street has some light, some knowledge to share with you.  Not one of us is perfect, and not one of us is useless.
God doesn't make worthless children.

I've found this to be so true in the mission.  When I go into a house of an investigator, or a companionship exchange, with a set mind of what I am going to teach them, I learn absolutely nothing.  And I may or may not help them at all.  But the times when I go in just to listen, two things happen:
1) The spirit is able to teach them.
2)  I learn something, either from the spirit or from the other person.

We have to listen, we have to look.  Truths of the gospel are everywhere.

If you're having trouble loving someone, look for their strengths.  Figure out why God put them in your life.  Find the lesson that they are here to teach you.  Whether it's a big lesson or a small one, I promise it's there.  Every person you meet, see or talk to has something to teach you.
Those that don't seek will not find.

Today I went to the zone leaders house to get the packages you sent.  I got all 4 today.  I think they have been at the office for awhile.  THANK YOU SO MUCH!  The zone leaders said they have never seen a package so big.  Elder Cavero loves all the stuff you sent!  The music is awesome!  We haven't listened to it all yet, but believe me, we will!

I decided to send a written page of a thought that has been on my mind this week.

Thank you so much again for the packages.  It was super cool.  You are the best Mom ever!  Are there specific pictures you want?  We can't use our cameras while we are proselyting, so we can only use it on p-days, at baptisms or at family home evenings.
Love you lots, Elder Mason Danger

Spencer, Here is a map of our apartment: