Monday, December 11, 2017

Week Sixty Five

Hey fam what is going on??

This week has been CHRISTMAS SPIRIT OVERLOAD.

Even if I could tell you how much JAQUE and I are #lightinguptheworld you wouldn't believe it...

Here are some things that went down this week:

FIRST OFF

We had a DOUBLE-STAKE COMBINED CHRISTMAS RECITAL #ONSTEROIDS. There was an awesome primary choir, missionary choir, adult choir. Probably 700 people came. It was so awesome. Our zone had 2 choir practices this week. We sang a carol called "Hacia Belen Va Una Burra Rin Rin."

PS the best Christmas song ever is called "mi burrito sabanero". It plays all the time here. Definitely listen.

Also went to the Notary to be witnesses for Lendy and Alex's marriage. That was sweet. Alex was the alcoholic who never talked to us. Their wedding was awesome + the Area Seventy Elder Ardila happened to be there for his daughter's wedding, so he got to talk with our investigators. This all happened Thursday.

In Colombia, the 7th of December is a holiday called "Day of the Candles." At night at about 8:00, everyone puts candles out on their porches. You take a thick wax candle, light it, pour hot wax on the ground, and stick the candle on the wet wax so it stays put. You usually put a candle out for every family member. It's also to honor Virgin Maria. Anyway, after the wedding, we all cabbed back to their house and lit candles. Really memorable night. I loved it in Barbosa as well. It's so pretty seeing the candles lit everywhere.

On Friday, Alex, Lendy, and Samuel their kid all had their baptism.



Here are the programs decked out in APRYL STOTT.  Our ward came through. We had a lot of people come and the Relief Society brought cake and sandwiches.



Investigators took a picture of us praying lol.



This is from watching the Christmas devotional with Julian and Daniel.



Alex Lendy and Samuel with family.

Pretty good week. There are 5 huge hospitals in my area so it's good for Christmas.

How are you guys? Hope all is good in the bay. Good luck with finals week.

Love you guys
Elder Blair

Monday, December 4, 2017

Week Sixty Four

Hey family, how are you guys?

Had a great week.

Wednesday was the multi-zone conference. Jaque and I were in charge of lunches for everybody. 50 missionaries. We ordered 50 bandejas paisas. Bandeja Paisa is this crazy Colombian dish from Medellin with sausage, fried pig fat, avocado, arepa, rice, beans, other stuff. It was SWEET. Everybody was so happy.

For the multi-zone, President Laney trained on contacting better. Opening our mouths and overcoming social anxiety. I feel like one thing I'll miss about the mission is the excuse we have to talk with anybody we want to. We can just stop anybody on the street and talk and it's not weird because that's what missionaries do. I remember being in SF and seeing people walk by that I would want to meet. It's not the same without an easy excuse. STILL DOABLE but not the same...

After the conference, Jaque and I went back to our area. We had an hour left to work before we had to head home. We decided to contact. Found this dude named Marlon. I asked if he was Marlon Brando and he said that's where his name came from. We asked if we could share a message with him and he invited us to his house. We met his family. Turns out his mom is days away from dying of cancer. We found him at the right time.

Next day, our zone had interviews with Pres. Laney. President talked with me about personal ministry. Focus on the individual.

Then we left to the airport. Missed our flight to Bogota so we cabbed to the bus terminal in Bucaramanga and caught the 12 hour bus to Bogota, arrived at 2AM at the secretary's house. #noregrets

Had leadership council. We settled on a mission goal of 1500 baptisms in 2018. We had to take about 30 Christmas packages back to Bucaramanga for all the missionaries in our zone. #neveragain

Saturday we visited a recent convert named Gloria. She thinks God will heal her of her bone cancer and that she doesn't have to do anything. I shared this verse towards the end of Alma that says that God prepares plants to fight disease. She's awesome but definitely needs support.

The best hospital in Colombia is in my area. Its called FOSCAL and we frequently find people who are only in our area temporarily because a family member of their's is in the hospital.

Some of our key investigators are Arelis and Thomas. They wouldn't answer the phone this week and were never home so Sunday we were bummed. Got to church and they were in the front row #yassqueen They are powerhouses.

This random investigator dude showed up during sacrament meeting and sat next to us. He needed to get to Boyaca to be with his sick mom. We hooked him up with a travel ticket + a place to stay for the night. #goodturndaily

Alex and Lendy are getting married and baptized this week. Alex was alcoholic when I got here. #HEARTSARECHANGING

WE ARE GOING HAM FOR #ILLUMINAELMUNDO #LIGHTTHEWORLD Jaque and I are dropping acts of charity like bombs in Floridablanca.

I think I only have a couple more weeks in this area. Really loving it. It will suck to have Christmas where I don't know anybody but also cool?

Love and miss you guys

Elder Blair

Monday, November 27, 2017

Week Sixty Three

Dear Family,

Happy Thanksgiving!

Week went awesome.

Tuesday:
I was with Elder Avila from PANAMA. Every time I'm with a Panameño I teach them A MAN A PLAN A CANAL PANAMA (thanks, Dad). He calls me tio (uncle). We had a fun day. We visited these new investigators named Pablo and Sylvia. The first thing they asked us was about the Book of Lehi. Fun lesson. Pablo is one of the best guitarists I've ever seen and has a band called ROTTEN SPIRIT. He and Sylvia rolled up to church on Sunday. It was awesome.

Wednesday:
We had a district meeting. Our district is pretty tight knit. We always do splits with each other. Pretty fun group`of guys. After the district meeting, Jaque and I rolled out to this unknown sector of our area to tract. It's called PALOMITAS. We were down there a half hour. Lots of pottery. I was dying. We went to visit our investigator named Will Smith (ah yeah) and I was on the point of passing out. I had fever so we went home at 3 and I fell on my bed and slept like 20 hours straight. But that was the end of sickness.

Thursday:
We had a Thanksgiving party with the District in our house at night. We had fried chicken and all shared what we were thankful for.

Friday:
I was with Elder Quiñonez. We found 3 random less active families just by knocking random doors. We met Omar Salamanca, this dude who knew the missionaries in the 80s and still remembers their names —Elder McAllister and Elder Ingram. One less active we found was named Edgar. He has the most massive hands I've ever seen. We talked with him for awhile and he showed up to church on Sunday.

Saturday:
Saturday morning we moved a house. Easiest move so far because there was an elevator. Had lunch with the Stake Pres. We planned this huge Christmas choir with him. We are stoked about it that. Had a zone open house at night. I was with Elder Do Carmo, a brand new elder from Brazil. We talked about Cidade de Deus (city of god) which is a dope brazilian movie. Do Carmo is a tae kwondo maniac straight up thug. We contacted like crazy in the street and got some cool people in the church.

Sunday:
Rolled up to Church and they told us we had talks haha. I talked about Article of Faith 9. Then we spent the afternoon tracting and found an awesome family. Then we visited the Caceres family who just agreed to get married. We went with the ward secretary who is a lawyer and it was so sweet.

Busy week, lots of errands. Lately I've been putting on the Spanish Pochahontas soundtrack while we sleep.

Miss and love you guys

Elder Blair

Monday, November 20, 2017

Week Sixty Two

Week Report

Tuesday we rolled over to San Gil. San Gil is a colonial city out in the boonies and the whole area had been closed for about 2 years but they just opened it up again about 3 weeks ago. The elders are staying in a hotel right now (lol) because there is no available missionary housing. The branch is also having their meetings in the hotel as they get the new chapel prepared. It's pretty funny because the elders get fresh towels everyday + packaged soap. But they live over 2 hours away form everybody so I think they've been feeling isolated.

Anyway, I spent the day in San Gil with Elder Torres. His Mom is from Bogota and his dad is from NY. His aunts live in Bogota and have visited him like 5 times haha. Elder Torres is awesome though. He has the most massive calves I've ever seen. We went beast mode all day in San Gil. We found an elderly couple of door makers. Jorge has been making doors since 71. I asked him if he made wood doors and he glared at me and said "never." Wrong question I guess...

San Gil also has like 10 tiny pueblos that you have to bus to but count as being part of the area. I convinced Torres to take me to one of them. We rolled up to BARICHARA. Pretty sure we were the first missionaries to ever go there. It's a white city. One of the best looking towns I've seen in Colombia. Look up BARICHARA. It's famous for stone sculpting. So we hung out and contacted in Barichara. Then we bussed back and contacted this dude. We asked him if he wanted to come to church. He said "when they give me my freedom!" ...#housearrest. Torres asked what he did for work and the dude was like, "I don't talk about that on busses."#yikes

But I got to know Elder Torres way better. We're buds now.

Wednesday
Cant remember anything.

Thursday
So Julian and Angelica have been our key investigators. Angelica is an environmental engineer and Julian is a vet. Power siblings. Every lesson started with them questioning us about the Isaiah chapters of the BOM. But some of the most thoughtful people. Angelica prayed for a signal to know if the BOM is true. Opened the book up to 3 Nephi 12 and she read the last half of verse 2: Yea, blessed are they who shall believe in your words, and come down into the depths of humility and be baptized, for they shall be visited with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and shall receive a remission of their sins.

They had their baptismal interviews on Thursday. Our district leader Elder Skinner did the interview. Elder Jaque stayed with him. I went with Elder Quiñonez (rapper from Guatemala) back to his area. We had a pretty crazy lesson with his Bishop and this Mother and Daughter they are teaching. The daughter is 17 but has a 30 year old boyfriend and the lesson ended with her breaking up with him. It was crazy. Won't say anything else.

But me and Quiñonez rolled back to their house and made burritos. Quiñonez is a trooper. None of his family writes him so we are trying to be his best friend.

Friday we had splits in Piedecuesta (Foothills). I was with Elder Hulet. Piedecuesta has been a dead area for awhile so we rolled up and worked like dogs. Had a crazy visit with this radio guy. His wife had told the missionaries, "I don't care if an angel comes down and tells me your church is true, I'm never getting baptized." Gotta respect the commitment but still...

Next morning we made arepas and french toast. Then we rolled back to my area. Baptism day. We cleaned the font and ran 50 errands to get the clothes ready and the chapel ready and keys to the font and all this other crap. Baptism went dope. Good showup. I baptised Julian and Elder Jaque baptised Angelica. They will be good Latter Day Saints. Have become family.

After the baptism, I was changing clothes and suddenly realized I had to throw up. There was like 10 people in the bathroom but #gottadowhatyagottado. Kind of embarrasing lol. I STILL don't know where the food poisoning came from. But that's the mission: CLEAN FONT - BAPTIZE - THROW UP. Julian and Angelica brought me soup (best friends). Elder Jaque was a beast comp. He had to force me to stay in bed. That was a horrible night. Throwing up takes all your strength. Sorry to talk so much about puke.

Sunday was awesome. Julian and Angelica got confirmed. We went to gospel principles. I lasted 5 minutes and felt like I had to pass out. Longest hour ever. I would have left earlier but...idk. Brother Aranguren saw that I was bad and gave us a ride home early. He's such a good dude. We baptized his best friend and have become bros with him. We got back to our house and I collapsed on the bed and slept till 7 at night.

Woke up, rolled over to a FACE TO FACE event. Elder Oaks and Elder Ballard gave a program to the youth of the church. We went with Julian and Angelica and it was good because they got to know all the youth of the stakes.

Today we played soccer.

Really grateful for mission life. I feel like so much of life before was about comfort and the easiest way out. Love the mission for pushing me.

Miss you guys more than I can say!

And thus it is written,

Amen

Elder Blair

Monday, November 13, 2017

Week Sixty One

Dear family

Hope all is good in the Bay! Did you celebrate 1 year of Trump?

Things are doing good in Santander.

This week was sweet. Super tired. I'm bummed because this internet cafe doesn't have an sd card reader so no pics this week but next week ill come through!

Elder Jimenez and Elder Parra finished their missions. Good friends. We dropped them off at the terminal.

This transfer was easy. Only a couple new missionaries came to the zone.

We did an intense service in La Cumbre - pretty much favelas. We made cement and then laid it for a good 3 hours. They gave us lemonade and empanadas after. There was a construction worker with us and while we were eating he said, "Indio con hambre no puede trabajar..y lleno tampoco." Which means, "The hungry Indian can't work. Neither can a full one."

Everyday we walk down this huge Z shaped path down a mountain to get to our area. Always filled with potheads who think we are cops.

Rolled over to visited 1st Counselor in the Bishopric yesterday. Gerson Sandoval. Told us how he went on a mission because his best friend was going and he didn't want to be bored at home. Ended up getting called to the same mission, and later they were comps. But they ended up hating each other as comps and asked for emergency transfers. Friends are one thing, comps are another.

Love my zone. Tons of hard workers. Missionaries with rough home lives who are making tons of sacrifices to be here.

Love our invesitgators. We have 10 main investigators and all of them rolled up to church. That felt sweet. We were all sitting on a bench together.

One line in the Colombian national anthem is "el bien germina ya" which means "the good is already germinating."

The good is already germinating.

amen love you guys!

E Blair

P.S. Some pics pday today. We went to a Jesus statue.






Monday, November 6, 2017

Week Sixty

Dear Fam,

Happy halloween.

This week was pretty empty - a lot of travel.

This past transfer, our district has been super tight knit. We have done everything together, all really good friends.

Our district leader Elder Tracy made a pot of chocolate milk and we all took turns drinking from it for the last district meeting of the transfer.

I like being zone leader because you get to know everybody, every area, all the investigators. It's way less boring because there is always something to do.

I'm remembering Elder Menesses. He's an elder from Bolivia who is the zone leader of a neighboring zone. We always travel with him to Bogota. Super funny dude. He's always speaking English. He says, "Dude. dude. Please dude. Take it easy. Dude please, listen to me." He also is always pretending to wave at someone and then laughing when everyone turns to look.

Our investigators are our best friends.

Julian and Angelica use the white pages at the back of the BOM to write all their questions. Both really smart.

Arelis and Thomas. A mother and son. Thomas was Michael Jackson for halloween. He's 10. His friend came  over and didn't have a costume. Thomas was like, "Dude wheres your costume?" His friend said, "I don't do that, my mom says that's from the devil."

Our investigator Alex really hit me hard. When I arrived in this area, he was alcoholic and never talked with us. Super isolated. We've just tried to be his friend and for the 1st month he just walked into his room every time we came by to visit his family. But this past month he's become our best friend. We helped him give up alcohol. He's a trooper working really hard to fix his family. Super big change of heart.

Love being comps with Elder Jaque. Really hard worker. We both just want to go as hard as we can.

Not that great a letter. So many people I wish you guys could meet. I don't know, I can't write good descriptions of people.

Love you guys!

Elder Blair

Monday, October 30, 2017

Week Fifty Nine

We met this man, Ramiro. He never smiles but he gave us hot chocolate. He's a trooper.


This photo taken this morning of Elder Heredia. He's from Ecuador and his mom visited him in the mission a couple weeks ago while I was his temporary comp. So funny.


A pug eating my crotch.


This statue is called Santissimo (holy of holies). You can see it from anywhere in the zone. Pretty recently built.


These huge poisonous snails always come out after rain. Will always remember when Elder Gough was explaining what they were to us and then smashed one with his foot.


This is a pic with Sebastian, William, and Elder Jaque. William is our investigator. He had a dream he was just strolling down the block and he looked in his hand and he was holding a Book of Mormon. He's also had 3 dreams where his spirit has left his body...lol. In Spanish thats called desdoblarse. One time he left his body and he moved his leg and when he woke up his leg had moved.


Lesson w Julian and Angelica. Some of the nicest people I've ever met and some of my best friends in this area. They bought us calzones. They always write down tons of questions and lessons are just trying our best to answer. Julian is a vet and Angelica is a rappeler.


Splits with Elder Parra. This is his last transfer. He's the only member in his family. We had a super cool day. His area is half hour away over the mountain. We spent the day over there. It's called villa San Carlos. This man is named Carlos. He's a trooper too. Walks like 10 km to get to church every Sunday.


the gold plates


best of friends


view



splits with Elder Arroyo



We got the ex Stake Patriarch to roll with us.


Sure miss you guys.