Monday, September 18, 2017

Week Fifty Three

Week Report

Hey fam! Missing you guys.

A lot of stuff went down this week.

We had a multi-zone conference with about 50 missionaries.
President Laney gave a training about "how many doors do you have to knock to achieve a baptism?" The point was that it's a ton and it's easier to work through members.

The APs came to stay with us. I worked with Elder Picuasi for the day. He's from Otavalo (near where President Raines served).

We had interviews with President Laney. My companion, Elder Knight, received some bad news of his Grandpa passing. He talked with his family. It was rough. I think this week was insane for him. News out of nowhere just a week before finishing his mission.

We dropped him off at the airport with some of our investigators. We sang God Be With You Till We Meet Again hashtagothersideofheaven. He headed home on Friday to be with his family for the funeral. Thursday was his last day in the field and we passed by lots of the people we teach so he could say his goodbyes. Elder Knight is awesome. It's super weird without him.

So this week I'm with Elder Gough (from New Mexico) and Elder Heredia (from Ecuador). Elder Gough finishes his mission next week. He is from Elder Knight's group. Their area is called LA CUMBRE (the crest). LA CUMBRE is crazy. It's this huge ghetto in the mountains. Super hilly. It's the loudest area I've ever been in. Kids just ripping on motorcycles all day. There are tons of red zones where we can't go. It's how I imagined Colombia to be. Anyways, it's fun to be in for the week.

We drank pony malta with raw eggs.

I got my film developed.

It's been complicated working between our areas. I had to go on divisions Sunday. I was with a recent convert. It was so weird being without a comp.

Elder Knight planning

District mtg in Bogota. 
Elder Arteaga, Elder Teijeira, Hermana Manzaneda, Hermana Ttito

Alex Pareja making arepas. Hes my best friend in Bogota

Elder Powlus and Elder Vincent

Elder Arteaga- maybe my best missionary friend. We were in the same district 10 months.

Teijeira, Santiago, Estevan

Teaching maria fernanda (she's like Olive)

Working hard. Love the people we teach. Love teaching. Things going well. All the gangsters here have rattails and Adidas caprees.

Love you guys!

Elder Blair

Monday, September 11, 2017

Week Fifty Two


We had leadership council this week. We went to Bogota two days before because Pope Francis came on the 6th and all the airports were shut down. The whole country went crazy.

We stayed w the APs, plus Elder Sandquist (Utah) and Elder Hilldebrant (Peru).

Wednesday we had splits with two elders in a Bogota area called Nisa. I was with Elder Soria. We cabbed there. Left the cab and realized we left our phone inside. We sprinted after and the driver saw us. Nothing. We were pretty bummed; called our phone like 20 times.

So we did our splits. Elder Soria and I knocked on this window to contact and we hear a lady's voice say, "WE ARE WATCHING THE HOLY POPE ARRIVE. PLEASE LEAVE." Nisa is a huge area. Walking way far between visits.

We go back to the AP's house after the day. I try calling once more. The second time I call this lady picks up. She got our phone in the cab. She was way far and it was already 10 at night, but we got permission form the APs to cab over and pick up the phone. We found her house. She opened up her window on the 2nd floor and threw our phone down. Elder Knight threw her a Book of Mormon. It was funny. We were stoked.

Next day we finally had leadership council. There was a training by President Laney, by sister missionaries, and the APs. Most of the trainings were about working with ward council and helping them help us in missionary work.

We all went to the temple after. I saw a movie I hadn't seen.

Elder Heninger is a ZL in Bogota who made videos before the mission so it was cool talking with him.

We had to load up these boxes of Book of Mormons; insanely heavy to take back to Bucaramanga for the zone.

At the bus station to go back to our zone, we saw Hermana Mero, a sister missionary who finished her mission in January. She was with her family. It was weird to see her be a normal person.

Friday I had splits w my MTC companion Elder Karren. It was super fun. We just talked about MTC memories. It was fun teaching with him.

Elder Knight and I made another lesson plan about Faith without action.

Sunday we had lunch with Bishop and his Wife. They both love to draw. Bishop has tons of animé faces drawn next to verses he likes in the scriptures. We asked them to teach us how to draw. They put a vase of flowers on the table and we all drew.

I really love my area. I've lucked out with all my areas. Every time I say hi, people say hi back, which is not the case in Bogota. In lessons, people want to put salsa music on in the background. We're teaching one dude, Carlos, who loves the idea of becoming gods. Its always fun teaching him.

Today we went on a hike in the zone. It was way technical. Pretty intense. I touched this poisonous plant and had to pee on my hand to heel it. It was halfway through so the rest of the hike was only with my left hand.

Pretty packed week. Miss you guys everyday. Love you!


Elder Blair

Monday, September 4, 2017

Week Fifty One

Dear Family

Hope all is good in Oakland, CA. Everybody here always asks about you guys. There are a lot of Blair family experts in my area because I rave about you guys ALL THE TIME.

This week was good.

Monday we had a good p-day with the district. We were hiking to Mt. Fiore. A dude on the way told us it was closed, so we went off trail and found this awesome waterfall. Elder Gough found these weird pumpkin fruits in this tree and picked some for all of us. I found this thick vine and we all took turns swinging. Cool day.

Tuesday we had companion exchanges. I was with Elder Hansen from Oregon. He's a cool dude. We talked about Ender's Game. His dad once saw Orson Scott Card in a Q&A and asked him if he came up with any character ideas on his mission. Orson Scott Card said, "Yeah--I wasn't a very good missionary. I just stayed in the house and wrote books." He also told me Elon Musk is making a tunnel company?? Please confirm.

Anyways, we had a pretty cool day. We went to ward council. Only 3 people showed up and they all fought about the air conditioners for an hour.

Wednesday we had the district mtg. Elder Karren (my MTC comp) is our district leader. He asked me to train on Baptism Dates so I gave a training on that.

Friday we had more companionship exchanges. I was with Elder Jimenez. He was my zone leader when I was in Barbosa so it was fun being with him for the day. Jimenez is from Guatemala. We went up to these apartments in the mountains called Bella Vista. We knocked tons of doors. Found tons of people. We bought a pineapple and gave it to this old dude. Jimenez's comp is Elder Bardo from Brazil. Bardo is crazy. He can sing just like Shakira. He's just out of control such a funny dude. At night we ordered in Dominoes.

Saturday- lunch with the Brito family. Hermano Brito is from Barranquilla (where Shakira's from). Hermana Brito is from Medellin. Hermano Brito has like 70 yellow birds. He keeps them in all these connected cages with the water and feeder system. I asked if he sold them but its just a hobby. I like their house. Tons of open space with windows always open. Hermano Brito used to have a Toucan. His son August served a mission in Dominican Republic. I found out I knew one of his comps. This dude in our ward in Bogota. Then we had an open house with half the zone. Knight and I were the only ones who really worked. WE found this Canadian dude who came in.

This dude named Fernando in our ward came up to me a couple Sundays ago and asked me for a French Book of Mormon. He has this French cousin who's staying with him for a year. So this Saturday we visited them and the French cousin threw me off hardcore. I hadn't heard French in so long. #lockmyheart

Sunday I just remember a blur of visiting a ton of people.

Today we went and bought Colombian stuff. Elder Knight is checking off his mission bucket list. He's such a funny dude. We always take turns rapping in Spanish. We've been making custom lessons to teach and that's been pretty fun. We made one called PLAN DE LA TRINIDAD.

Yeah the area is cool. Tons of lizards. Super rich people, super poor people and everyone in between.

My area in 2 words can be described as sweaty Gs.

But working hard and enjoying this transfer a lot.

Peace out family

Elder Blair

Monday, August 28, 2017

Week Fifty

Hey Family

Thanks for all the happy birthdays. It got me pumped up!

Oakland 1st Ward is so awesome — everybody wrote me.

Week was awesome.

Bucaramanga is so cool. Always bright. Everybody's in a good mood here. Super humid. My companion Elder Knight joked that breathing in air is like eating soup. Sometimes I take 3 or 4 showers throughout the day.

Uncle Josh was in this area too. There's a waterpark and 3 huge malls and just tons of people. Super green. I want to ask members if they remember an Elder Stanley this week.

I've had to give talks in Sacrament Meeting 2 weeks in a row. That was funny.

Our Bishop's name is Wolf Fang. We helped him move his house this week. He kept singing TURN DOWN FOR WHAT. Such a funny guy.

This week we had companion exchanges with the APs. We had to travel to Bogota. We got an Avianca flight, and being at an airport threw me way off. Haha. It was cool being in Bogota. I loved my last area even though it was ugly and grey. We got there pretty late. I was with Elder Wood for the day. He's a funny dude we had a cool day.

We double decker bussed back to Bucaramanga the next morning and drove through Cañon Chicamocho. GOOGLE ASAP. Super pretty drive

We have to spend a lot of time out of our area and it screws us up sometimes.

There's a super awesome Recent Convert family — Familia Caseres. They have a son named Luis who wrote a rap for me for my birthday. So awesome. Elder Knight and the family surprised me with a cake on Sunday. It was so funny. We visited the family and then we left. Elder Knight said "I forgot my planner in their house". So we went back and the cake was out and music was on. They've known me for like 2 weeks. People are so awesome here.

We are working hard and getting better at teaching. I'm pretty used to the mission now. I don't feel like I'm 20. Guess it's time to start acting my age.

Miss you guys a ton,
Elder Blair

Monday, August 21, 2017

Week Forty Nine

Week report


Happy birthday Olive. Can't believe you're already 12!!

Miss you a ton here Olive.

This week was cool.

Transfers were pretty awesome. I got to be with Elder Lewis (from my Mexico MTC group). We were given freedom to do whatever we wanted our last 2 days in Bogota. First day we both said goodbyes to different families. Had some tough goodbyes. Leaving Barbosa was nowhere near as hard. Saying goodbye to the Castellanos family felt like a part of me died.

On the second day, we didn't have as much time. SO WE WENT TO THE INDIGENOUS VILLAGE. I had a bit of trouble remembering the way, but we made it. Cota is super pretty.

Then we ate lunch at McDonalds back in Bogota and tried out a McDonalds VR experience.

Then went to Bogota train terminal. Lots of missionaries there. Lots of greenies. Everyone going to different places. Assistants were there too. Elder Picuasi is the new AP. He was my first ZL. He's from Otavalo and has a ponytail. Super cool guy. I bussed to Bucaramanga with some new elders from Ecuador. All of them had tons of questions. I was way tired.

The Mummy was playing on the bus but I didn't want to give a bad example watching it lol. The bus passed through Tunja and Barbosa on the way. Cool to see those areas where I spent so much time. We got to Bucaramanga at 4am. 6 missionaries were waiting there including my new comp Elder Knight, and one of my best mission friends Elder Crandell. We got everyone loaded up and Elder Knight and I headed to our apartment.

OK so my new area is crazy. Favorite so far. Our apartment feels like Florida. There are pools everywhere.

Loved my last area. I knew EVERY STREET. But it was grey all the time and just dirty. That stuff really has an effect on your energy. Bucaramanga is so green. All these huge mountains and jungle. Super bright. The sun is hotter but doesn't burn as bad as Bogota (Bogota has way higher elevation). It's tricked my brain into thinking I'm on vacation. It feels like that.

Also dope that I'm with Elder Knight. He goes home this transfer. We have epic breakfasts. Pancakes, tons of bacon, arepas, eggs, everything. Elder Knight is a pro motocross racer. He's gone to Italy, Germany and Argentina for races so he's way cooler than me.

This week we just went around everywhere in the area meeting people.

Tons of hills and so much sweat. Some of the coolest days of my mission though. People are way more open here. So easy to get into houses and meet families.

Elder Karren (first MTC comp) is my district leader here! Saw him today. Such a funny dude.

Trying to think of other stuff.

Really like testing out different ways of teaching. I feel like I'm getting better at controlling my words and timing, but still have a ton to improve. I keep joking that the mission has helped me a ton with talking to girls.

Our bishop is awesome. He's from Venezuala and has hand tats. We had a ward activity where we dressed up Luis- this recent convert as a hobo. We sat him outside the entrance of the chapel. All the members arrive and enter, of course nobody gives him anything. The members get inside and we teach a message about service and the Good Samaritan. Then the fake hobo comes in and sits behind everyone. Bishop calls him up. Everyone gasps. He takes off his disguise. Bishop asked him, "How did you feel?" He said, "REJECTED."Then one member lady stood up and shouted "I BOUGHT HIM FOOD!!" It was insane. But the activity was so funny.

Anyway things going good. Miss you guys. Hope this week is awesome

Elder Blair

Monday, August 14, 2017

Week Forty Eight

[ No email this week but a few updates via messaging. ]

Short update:

Almost stabbed my eye out, got butt injections, going to a new area, Bucaramanga, I’m a zone leader now.

I have a permanent scar on my eyebrow.

But the scar is DOPE.

It happened taking staples out of a couch haha.

In my new area, I’m gonna be with my first gringo companion.

Elder Knight from Utah.

When we have leadership meetings, I get to go in a PLANE.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Week Forty Seven

week report

Week was pretty packed.

There were 4 baptisms in the zone. I had to do my first baptismal interview for the sister missionaries. It was for their investigator Jonathan. We went to their area: Cota (a farmtown right by the mountains a little out of the way with an indigenous village). Interview went well. At the end he asked me if Joseph Smith was a freemason.

We also had our interviews with Mission Pres. Laney. The night before interview day, I broke my nametag so that was stupid. My interview went good. Now I'm not sure if I'll be leaving the area quite yet. I had a bad cold so Pres. told me I should get more rest. At the end he said "that's some stylish hair. Maybe too stylish." I got my haircut the day before lol. My comp told me President asked him for a selfie.

Ripped my suit pants beyond repair yesterday.

Visited one investigator, Mafe, who always has good questions. The visit this week, she asked, "Where did the holy ghost come from?" and "Ok, so once we get to the celestial kingdom, what's the point there?"

Had an awesome guitar class with the neighborhood kids. There's a guitar in almost every house but lots don't know how to play. We taught the song Easy Easy by King Krule. Pretty simple and really good song.

Met with a new investigator Maria and found out she's under house arrest after being in prison 2 years. In Colombia there are no death penalties and pretty rarely life sentences. So we aren't sure what happened there. It was awkward because I invited her to come to church but forgot she can't leave the house.

We went to contact in the outskirts of our area (actually not sure if it was our area) in a sector called ALASKA. Super weird vibe. Everyone staring us down. But I also dug it.

We got locked out of our house Saturday so we had a sleepover with the Elders in Fontana area. Next morning we got a copy of our keys at the zone leader's house.

Thursday we had our first visit with Rosio Castellanos' family. Lots of distractions so it didn't go well. At the end Rosio said, "I want you guys to come over for lunch, but not interested in the church stuff." So I told them, "Give us one more chance and we'll convince you," and they agreed. So we went into a fast and had the next visit the next day. Went way better. We forgot it was fast Sunday. We almost did 2 fasts but we agreed our stomachs couldn't handle it. I like fasting though. I like what "Letters to a Young Mormon" says about hunger-- paying attention to it instead of just giving in to it or brushing it off. Paying attention to what hunger feels like (material hunger, hunger for sex, hunger for food, etc).

Got film for my camera.

Lately I've been in the mode of just working as hard as I can or as my body permits. But if your comp wants to take it easier you have to consider that too. I don't know, sometimes it's a bummer if your comp doesn't have the same take, but it's also a lesson of teamwork I guess.

This week for language study I learned a ton of Spanish expressions.

Some awesome ones are:

"alli hay gato encerrado" = there's something fishy going on there (or literally: there's a locked up cat in there)

"a otro perro con ese hueso" = to another dog with that bone! (when somebody's trying to sell you something crappy or talking to you about something stupid)

I've also been saying "a otro gato con esa leche" as a joke = to another cat with that milk!

Maria Blanco's husband died. She's a lady in our ward. Elder Ferrada and I gave him a blessing 3 months ago. She bore her testimony on Sunday; it was pretty sad.

I'm into immersive discipleship but sometimes I think I take it too seriously or literally. On Sunday morning there was this super drugged out dude drooling. We tried to talk with him but he wasn't capable of communicating. We put his shoes by him. But I was beating myself up for not finding him a blanket and getting him water and bread and stuff. But it's like dude you don't have to take it that seriously. It's also like - doing that would have been good and going the extra mile. I don't know. I think I'm probably going insane.

In a lot of our visits lately, we've been asking, "Why are you a member of the church?" or "Why do you want to be a member of the church?" and it's good at getting people to share. Lots of really interesting points of view. Everyone has a way different answer.

Things are going well. I'm trying to get the most out of this as I can but also want to stop thinking so much about myself.

Miss you all!
Elder Blair

Images from a few months ago in Barbosa.