Monday, February 22, 2016
|Ground Breaking Ceremony for the Barranquilla Colombia Temple|
Saturday we had the ground breaking of the temple. They had a really cool ceremony in the middle of the day. We had Elder Juan A. Uceda, a General Authority Seventy and president of the South America Northwest Area come and speak at our Mission Conference. He spoke to the missionaries in the city and talked a lot about helping the investigators to talk less and do more. We had a great discussion. He came down from the pulpit and spoke to us in the audience. It was really cool. He is our area president, here for the temple ceremony. That was super cool.
We took investigators to the ground breaking ceremony for the Barranquilla Temple. Even though the temple grounds are in our area, we had to go to the church building to watch it, because you had to have a special invitation to attend on site. There were a lot of less actives that went on their own free will. It was crazy.
Sunday we had Hermana Silvia's baptism. It was awesome!
|Brother Parans baptized Herman Silvia|
|Hermana Silvia and her family|
So first we started talking to him about the Plan of Salvation. We were discussing temples and the power to seal. We talked about prayer. We asked him to pray, but he wouldn't do it. So we knelt down on our knees and asked him if he would have a group prayer. We asked him if he would say it--ask if the priesthood was really restored and if the power to seal families was really here on the earth. But he said, he didn't feel comfortable and wouldn't do it. So we said we would do our individual prayers on our knees. So that's what we did. He had his own prayer. And we prayed that he would accept it. We prayed that he would feel the spirit and that he would feel the spirit and know that what we were teaching was true. We all knelt there praying silently for a couple of minutes. We just prayed for him, while he was praying. In that moment, he got up. He looked at us like, what the freak just happened? He tried to describe what he felt, but he just couldn't do it. So we talked what the spirit felt like, and what that means. He said that he felt a hot and cold feeling at the same time. Something he has never felt before. We talked about prayer, and had him read with us from Alma 32. We encouraged him to keep praying. We told him to share with his wife what he felt, and told him we would come back next week. That was a really cool experience that really impacted me. He felt the spirit. The power of prayer is something I want to feel every single day.
|My new companion|
Brinley, I'm sorry you broke your arm! That's actually pretty awesome. I'm definitely proud of you, Brinley. I hope you keep doing awesome stuff. But next time you've go to have a better story. You've got say you were in a fight at school, and you broke his face and your arm. That would be a better story. Ha.
I love you guys! I hope you have a great week.
Monday, February 15, 2016
This week we had some good lessons. We are really starting to figure out which investigators are progressing, and which ones are not. That is our biggest challenge--there are always people to teach, but we have to figure out which ones are actually progressing towards baptism, and which ones are not. Sister Silvia has her interview this week, she's finished all of her lessons, and is ready for her baptism, which should happen this week.
We also had a really cool lesson with Bro Freddy Torres. We found him on the street one day. He's stopped drinking, and doing bad things. We are now teaching his whole family. We had a great lesson this week. I asked him, how he felt the gospel has changed his life. He said that from the day he has met us, he has seen a difference. He told us that he knew what we were teaching him was true. He told us he believed the Book of Mormon to be the word of God, and that Joseph Smith really was a prophet. He knows that from the spirit he feels while being with us. And from the changes he has seen happen in his own life through the power of repentance. We are really excited to work with all of them. It's pretty awesome.
After being inside all week, it felt really good to get out and go to work. My companion last week was pretty set on staying in the mission. But then he has had some problems, and has had a lot of interviews with the President, so we'll see what happens next week.
The temple grounds are a 1/2 a mile of where we live, but in a different direction from where we work. Sometimes we walk past it, if we have an investigator up there. But right now it's just a big dirt lot. The ground breaking is happening this Saturday. The company that has come here to build the temple has attended our ward. So things are happening pretty soon. Really exciting.
To Braden, Spencer, and friends:
Ok Boys--this is what you are in for. Pay attention, and take notes. ; )
A Day in the Mission:
I've had some emails asking me what a mission is really like. First I want to say, The mission is awesome! I'm going to take you through a typical day in the mission, so you can know what it is like:
6:30 The alarm goes off. You wake up. Your knees hit the floor. You say a prayer
6:35 You look at your companion, he's still asleep, so you walk him up. Then you say a prayer together. Then you tell him to say his own prayer.
Then you do some pushups. You have to do 30 min of exercise everyday. But you're companion is too lazy to leave the house to go running, so you have to do pushups, sit-ups, crunches, and whatever else you come up with on the floor.
7:00 You get up and take a shower. Sometimes the water is there, sometimes it's not there. So that's why you have water ready in empty orange juice bottles that you drank all week long. That way you always have water for your shower.
After you do all of that stuff, you iron your shirt, you make breakfast. You don't want to eat what your companion makes, because you are the cook. So you make pancakes, because they are awesome.
8:00 Then you start studying. First you have personal study. You open your scriptures, then Preach My Gospel, you think about people you are going to teach today.
9:00 You study with your companion. You've got to do some practices, you have to teach him what to do/say, you've got to help him. You need to get better, you want him to get better too.
10:00 You study Spanish--or your language. You need to study a lot, because everyone you want to teach can't speak English. Your native companion should be studying English, but he won't want to do it, so you've got to make him do it.
11:00 You leave the house and you go visit people. You might have scheduled visits, you might not. So you just leave the house and try to teach someone. Sometimes you find some less actives to visit, you teach them something. Maybe they're home, maybe they're not.
12:00 Then you go to lunch. In our area we have a member that is contracted to feed us lunch. You get there and get all excited because you're super hungry and haven't eaten in 4 hours. So you get there and, wow, surprise! It's chicken and rice. Wow, yet again, for 7 months. So yummy, you have it again. You eat until you're stuffed. Your companion falls asleep, so you wake him up and say "let's go!" He'll say, no, I want to wait, but then you say No, and you leave lunch and go to your first visit.
You're all excited for your visit, because it's someone you met in the street the other day, and this is they're first visit, but...then they're not there. So you go look for another house. And you contact someone in the street. You teach everyone about the restoration.
Then you have a 2nd visit. It's a less active. The visit is great. But during the lesson, you find out that they have not been consistently reading their scriptures, so you encourage them to try harder.
Then you go to the 3rd visit. You have a lesson with an investigator, it's super awesome. But the member that was supposed to come with you, didn't come.
You keep going all day to appointments like this--with investigators, less actives, or recent converts. You teach everyone. Your day is a mix between these 3 kinds of people. You teach them the gospel, you encourage them to read their scriptures every single day, you call and remind them, you find new people in the street. You talk to every single person you meet. You hand out little pass along cards, to everyone. Then it's night time.
8:30 you start walking home.
9:00 you start planning the whole next day. You plan for half an hour.
9:30 you say a prayer. Oh yeah, you say a prayer for everything. You pray to start and stop every study. You say a prayer for breakfast, lunch, dinner. You pray to start and stop every single lesson. And you say a prayer to start and stop planning. So you pray like 30 prayers everyday.
Then you finish planning, and you have to go eat something, because you're starving, but no, you have fill out the Area Book. And you have to do this, because you are an obedient missionary, and you want to keep good records. So you fill out your investigator records in your area book every night. You have a form for every less active, every recent convert, and every investigator. It is a record of where they are at in their progress and what lessons they have had, what they have not had. You record all of the work you did during the day, and put it all in the area book.
Then you have to verify with the District Leader, what you did that day. He asks you a bunch of questions, you answer them all.
Finally you have about 30 minutes to do whatever you want to do. You have to write in your journal, and do all the rest of your personal stuff. Sometimes we listen to music and then cook more food.
I'm not really sure what happened to good old Dinner, but it doesn't happen anymore. You eat a big lunch at 1:00, then you eat again after 9:00 pm. I'm not really sure why it is that way, but it is. Sometimes we buy bread or something while we're walking, but usually we don't stop to eat until we're back home again.
10:30 your head hits the pillow, you set your alarm, and bam, it's 6:30 am again and you keep going. It feels like you don't sleep at all. Nothing. But it's so great!
It's really the BEST! You're going to love it! Every minute. Believe me, it's awesome.
So, What do you study? What do you do right now to prepare?
Well, number 1, start studying Preach My Gospel. Study it, I mean really study it. They do not teach you the lessons in the MTC at all, nothing. I mean zero. They just teach fundamentals, which are important, but they are not the mission lessons.
1. Start studying lessons 1-5. You need to know these lessons before you teach them to someone else. Underline, mark them, find all the scriptures that go along with the lessons, mark them in your scriptures and really study each lesson.
2. Go to Mission Prep.
3. Practice sharing the gospel with people you know and love--right now. One of my biggest regrets was that I did not do that as much as I could have before I came on my mission. So do that right now. Call up the people that you know just came to your mind, that you should be sharing the gospel with, and tell them about it. Call them, get rid of all your fears, tell them you want to teach them the gospel. Then call the missionaries, invite them all to your house, then they get baptized, their whole family goes to the temple, and that's the most important thing in life.
Prepare now for the mission! You'll never regret it.
Go BIG or Go home. Hallelujah,
Love you guys,
Wednesday, February 10, 2016
February 8, 2016
1. When do you feel the closest to the spirit?
A. Probably during my personal study. That’s when I feel really close. It gives me a lot of personal motivation for the day. Also, I really like the evening lessons with members and investigators. That is when the spirit feels really strong and powerful. From 2-5:00, the day is hot, we walk a lot, people are not home from work, so that part of the day can be pretty rough. But later from 6-9:00, is the best. People get home from work, people are interested in listening to us, and we have a lot of spiritual experiences. Bro Sessa, who has been less active in the church since he was 15 yrs old, is now working on coming back. We’ve been teaching repentance, and each time we teach the spirit is really strong, and he shows us that he really wants to change. The other spiritual lesson from this week was with Sis Pacheta. We met her from a member referral—the last temple president from the Bogota Temple. He lives in a really big, nice, rich building. We were there this week and had a great lesson with her.
2. What inspiring things have you learned from your personal study:
a. This week was Carnivale—we had to stay inside all day, everyday, so we had LOTS of time for personal study. And we’re going to be in all day today, and all day tomorrow. What really touched me this week was my study of the Sermon on the Mount. I have a couple of videos that another missionary gave me. I watched like 40 videos, of Jesus Christ and his life. Then I read the sermon 2-3 times. And I read it out loud in Spanish, so I could memorize some of the scriptures there. There are a couple of scriptures there that really touched me. About humility, Jesus taught so much about humility. “Whosoever shall smite thee on the right cheek, turn to him the other also, and if any man will sue thee of the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy coat also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh of thee. And to him that would borrow from thee, turn thou not away. Love your enemies. Bless them that curse you. Do good to them that hate you. Pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you. That ye may be children of your Father in Heaven.”
I really like that part, because if we do these things, we will be the children of God, because children of God do not do the opposite of this. Those that do the things the of the Lord are of God, and those that don’t are of the devil. That really touched me.
Watching it in a video—the turn the other cheek, there is a scene where they are punched in the face. Whoa. It really happens.
Also, in Matthew 6, “Where your treasure is, there will be your heart also.” Talking about laying up treasures in heaven and not on earth.
“Consider the Lilies of the field, how they grow, they toil not, neither do they spin. Wherefore, if God so clothes the grass of the field…will he not clothe you, oh ye of little faith.” So don’t worry what you are going to do tomorrow, just focus on today. But “seek ye first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.”
These things really touched me. I thought about what I am doing, how I’m progressing spiritually.
3. What did you learn about training a new missionary, that you didn’t expect?
a. Looking at my trainee, I saw a lot of the funny things that I did as a new missionary. It was entertaining to watch him try everything new, starting humble, then later getting a bit rebellious. The biggest surprise, was probably the trouble he had with his knee, that that he ended up going home. That was a very sad day for both of us.
b. I found that I worked a lot harder when I was training, and I really liked that. I really stepped it up. It was like starting over, and they were my rules, so we did everything how I wanted to, so that was awesome! : )
4. Who do you feel closest to in your ward, and why?
a. There is a member named John, he lives here in la Playa. He served a mission in Bogota. He is really funny. He helps contract the bus, and we joke every time I see him. When he smiles, it’s a really an addictive smile, so you have to smile too.
b. Also, we feel close to the recent converts, because they always talk to the missionaries. The active people seem scared to talk to us. When we ask them if they will meet with us, they get suspicious, and say, “What do you need to meet with us for? I’m active.”
5. How do you fill your time everyday?
a. In this area I have been planning things 3 days ahead of time. When we make appointments, it is for 3 days out, because we are full for three days. We have every single hour planned. But sometimes the visits fall through, or people aren’t there. So we just going looking for someone else. We always have something to do. If an appointment falls through, we will walk to the to the next house, and rely on the spirit to tell us where to go.
b. Sometimes, if we have to look for new people, we will go knock on doors, or talk to people on the street, but that’s not very common. And it’s not very effective. Usually, we talk to the members and ask for references. But for last resort, we talk to people in the street. The doors are all open, so we don’t really knock, we just stand outside their house and say, “Hey, come here,” and then we talk to them. We ask them if they want to learn about the gospel, about Jesus, and they say yes.
c. The best people come from member references. We also have indicators for every person we talk to in the street, so we do it, and record it. We have a goal of finding 10 new people to teach every week. They could be references or contacts, if they have a 1st lesson, and then they accept a 2nd lesson, then that is considered a new person.
This week we have been in the house the whole time, so we’ve had LOTS of time to think, lots of time to study. I almost went crazy on Saturday. Sunday was better, but now we have all day today, and all day tomorrow. All of these Colombians are nuts—everyone is partying for Carnivale, and everyone is in the streets.
|Elder Saona, from Peru|
Elder Saona is doing a lot better this week. He is getting more excited about staying in the mission. I made him do the starfish and eat Nutella, so now he wants to stay in the mission. Hahaha
I tried writing songs, and coloring, and lots of other stuff, but I can’t do it. God told me that, that stuff is for after my mission. He took those talents away so I can focus.
I like when you send me questions. I can record during the week, then we have more time, and I will get you the answers you want by next week.
Love you guys, hope you are all doing good.
Thursday, February 4, 2016
|My son died...it was a very sad day. |
This was our last moment together before he had to return home.
|Mason (on the right) with his zone in front of the church|
My son, was having lots of problems with his knee. We had to go see the doctor this week. We've had lots of medical visits--doctor, physical therapist, etc. They determined that the padding under his knee cap is worn out. We walk a lot in this mission. Every 100 meters, he had to stop and take a break, he was hurting all the time.
Thursday we went to the office, and he had an interview with the President. They came to the conclusion that he wasn't giving his all right now, because he couldn't do everything he needed to because of his knee. So President said, it would be better if he went home to fix his knee, so he can come back and give his all. He said that he agreed.
When he came home that day, he was thinking about it all night long. I was sad too. It was odd to realize that he would be going home soon. I was thinking it would be a couple of weeks. But then on Friday morning, the next day, we were getting ready, and during personal study we got a call from President that they had arranged a flight and he was going home today.
What?! My child is going to die?? My son died and went home. It was the lamest thing ever. After just a month of living with his father, and now he's dead. It was so sad. I was so bumbed. We hurried and did the whole tie exchange thing, and said our goodbyes. Then I told him that he was going to come back, and that when he did, I would make sure the President would reassign him back with me, so I could finish training him, So that's what is going to happen.
I got a new companion, Elder Siona from Lima Peru. He was serving in a more dangerous part up north. They don't send white missionaries there, because there are a lot of people that come from Venezuela that like to kill white people. I don't really know why, but for safety, they only send latinos to that area. It is a small branch of members. He was having a lot of stress in that area, so they sent him here with me, to relax a bit in la playa. So I'm helping him get relaxed, start to feel good in the mission.
This week we finished the lessons for our investigator Silvia, she's round 40-50 yrs old. She was a referral from a less active, one of his friends from his childhood. She has loved everything, reads the Book of Mormon everyday. We have a lot of confidence that she is going to be great at living the gospel. Her baptism is going to be in 2 weeks.
This week we have Carnival. It is super crazy. These Colombians go nuts--they drink, they act crazy, they wear costumes, they throw water balloons at each other filled with paint. It's just nuts. So in this mission, we have a week where we are told to stay in the house. We can't leave during Carnival. It's weird, I'm not super cool about it, but we are going to do it! We'll be here reading scriptures, doing lots of pushups, and hanging out with my new companion.
I'm really starting to understand the importance of the little things in life. I've been thinking about it a lot. In the mission, this is what we teach more than anything--just do the little things consistently, so you can get ready to handle the big things. The first presidency has been focusing all year on the Sabbath Day. The reason for that is because so many people are not living it. I have really come to understand the importance of this day while serving on a mission. I would really like to invite you guys that you look for the meaning of "Sanctify" and how it applies to the Sabbath day. Look carefully at what you do on this day, and make sure they are things of the Lord.
I remember having a lot of trouble keeping this commandment as a youth. But now I understand the importance of making the Sabbath Day different than every other day. If there is something you could be doing better on Sunday, then make a change. The first step of repentance is recognize. I hope that you can all recognize right now something that you can do better. Repent, come unto Christ, and sanity your Sabbath. As soon as we learn this, the First Presidency can teach us other things. Keeping the Sabbath Day Holy is a commandment from the beginning of time. So I would invite all of you to sanctify this day, change your actions, and Love the Lord.
I love you guys. I hope you have a good week.
|City Streets in Barranquilla|
|Mason on the right, with his Zone|
Today my companion had a medical appointment. We went downtown to the city, and to the office. We haven't been able to get much work done, because he's been having problems with his knee. While we were downtown we decided to get my companion a voice recorder, because he never has enough time to write everyone on day. He always complains that the hour is too short to write his family and friends. It's funny to watch him get so frustrated, because a bunch of people write him, and he never has time to write the whole world back.
I have a bunch of funny videos of him complaining that he can never write to everyone. So we get back from downtown, we've got his voice recorder, and then we get the message from the District Leader that the site is down and that we can't write our families today. When I told him, he was so mad. He rolled around on the floor complaining. He didn't believe me for almost an hour. We headed out to proselyte, and he finally believed me. It was pretty funny.
This week we have been visiting Brother Sessa, who is a less active. We started talking to his brother a couple of weeks ago. When we met him, we learned he doesn't believe in God. So we visited with Sessa. We taught him about the plan of salvation, because he lost a dear friend. We also talked to him about repentance, the word of wisdom, and he has been progressing a ton. Just in the two weeks we have worked with him, he's made a big life change. He's been coming to church. He said he was actually baptized when he was 15, but after one year, he stopped going. It's been 30 years. And he's been pretty lost in the world. Now the lessons are super powerful, super spiritual. He gets really in to it. He works really hard. We're going to keep helping him, and get him to church this Sunday. We're hoping that through his progression, his brother will want to follow, and come to church and be baptized.
Hermana Silvia is also an investigator. She was a referral from a less active member. She loves everything we are teaching her, she doesn't have any doubts. We've been talking to her about repentance, and helping her receive answers from God. She will be baptized soon. Maybe in two weeks. This week has been pretty good.
I've been helping my companion adapt to mission life.