Monday, July 2, 2018

Week Ninety Four

[ Ralph's report came via messaging this week ]


whoa the rally looks cray

holy crap!

this was not a normal thing when i left

big game tomorrow

we are about to DESTROY england

i was just talking w chris southcott about it haha

he and charles are watching the world cup

dudes you have no idea

my area is a 24/7 party during the world cup

all these old dudes inviting us to come drink beer w them haha

today i had some members take us on a roadtrip to this cave 3 hours away

tons of bats it was insane


it was dope i invited my converts from my last bucaramanga area and this dope member family and we went w this member who has this huge van

made me trunky!

im not wasting any of my pdays till the end

wednesday i meet my new pres

4 of july

im gonna bring him a burger

got my last email from pres laney

so weird that hes gone

i called the aps and they told me he was crying and sister laney HUGGED all the office elders

hermana laney was a super diff misson mom

she would swear super sarcastic super funny

for sure you should write them

dudes i am so stoked

less than 60 days

just being in the presence of my fam

i think i just want to enjoy a couple weeks before it hits me that my life starts

and it will be good to see what everybodys doing and make plans

theres a member mom here who lives right by us who loves your blog haha

she doesnt speak english

maybe a bit

she gave me the news about your hair

and my convert told me about the rally this morning

tons follow your ig

so funny

yeah everyone hooks it up here

its crazy

our area has tons of kids

so many

they stay playing out in the street till 10-11

all of them know us now. whenever we walk by they shout CALIFORNIA CALIFORNIA

everytime i see any kids i say #hey how are you whats ur name good morning brother" in THICK colombian accent and they all stare SHOCKED and then the next time we pass they all shout the same thing

it gets dark super early 7:00

i have invites from chris and charles to live w them

idk what i should do

weird having so many options

any advice on being a good comp to elder lucaila?

we eat lots of ecuatorian food

i say ecuatorian swear words because his reaction is super funny

rice tuna tomato onion salad

chicken thigh w rice tomato onion pepper

this week i cleaned dried vomit out of a glue addicts sink

so thats why i need good pdays


love you guys!

Monday, June 25, 2018

Week Ninety Three

How's it going fam??

This week went awesome.

Elder Lucaila and I have been KILLING it down here in PiedeCuesta.

Our ward mission leader Alonso said we were "bringing back the spark."

By the way,  Alonso our mission leader is awesome. He is a baker so we always go buy his bread in the morning. He has like everybody's phone # memorized. He legit can recite off the top of his head almost all the members phone numbers.

We are getting pretty famous in our area. All the neighborhood kids know us and shout "GRINGO GRINGO WHAT YUR NAME??" whenever we pass.

We are teaching a dude name Wilson and his fam. Wilson is our neighbor and lives a block away. He has a motorcycle parking lot and 2 weeks ago he got robbed by 2 thugs. They almost cut his arm off with a machete and sliced his face. He has a pretty gnarly scar now. The crazy part is that this happened at 6:30 PM a block from our house.

Yesterday was Stake Conference and it was so cool seeing all my friends from my old area in Bucaramanga. Found out my convert Julian is Ward Mission Leader now. He gave the closing prayer at Stake Conference. That was crazy. Everybody was so surprised to see me. Most thought I had already finished. Plus, I saw my old Bishop Wolfang Martinez! Saw him and we both started singing "I was made for loving you baby.." So funny.

Yeah so Stake Conf ended and the chapel emptied in 5 seconds because everybody had to watch Colombia play. My area was a FIESTA holy moly. Everybody on the street inviting us to come drink beer with them. People dancing salsa everywhere. Huge stereos blasting Vallenato. And every single person wearing their Colombia jersey.

We saw a dude get scissor kicked in the chest in a neighborhood fight yesterday. All the grandmas watching sighed "dios mio."

It's been raining a ton in our area.

I really like working with Lucaila. I try to stack the days with lessons and charlas because the fastest way to learn is to teach teach teach. I love days that are filled with charlas.

We have been finding good people. I love when we find people who actually read the Book of Mormon. Mostly I like teaching 1st Nephi chapter 4 when Nephi kills Laban. Then we always blow their minds and ask them,"Why didn't God make it easier for Nephi?"

Other things:
We saw a tiny old dude carrying this huge gasoline tank all by himself so we helped out and literally carried that thing 5km with him. I do not know how he does it by himself...

Anyway, things are going good. Today for p-day we went on a massive hike to a waterfall. We got lost but we found a river. On the way we saw wild banana trees, orange trees, passion fruit trees. We dunked our heads in the river.

P.S. Hermana Herrera reads your blog, Mom. The Herrera family are the coolest members.

Love you guys and miss you!

Elder Blair

Monday, June 18, 2018

Week Ninety Two

Hey family! Miss you guys.

This week was sweet.

Pie de Cuesta is an all aorund work out.

Elder Stevenson of the 12 visited our mission. The entire mission came which has never happened in my mission before. It was the last time seeing a lot of my best friends here + the last time seeing the Laneys. Pretty big bummer. People who have been the most constant in my life for the past 2 years. Have lots of love for my friends here, who knows the next time we'll see each other.

But it was super cool hearing from Elder Stevenson and his wife. Def got my comp and I excited to get to work.

We are bring Pie de Cuesta back to life. I look back on my early areas and there's a lot I would do differently, but I don't want to have any regrets here. We have been legit running around all over the place. Sometimes I have to run pushing behind my comp Elder Lucaila, haha.

So here are some other things that went down this week:

We saw a gang of these birds eating a dog:

The black vulture type bird is called a "chulo" and they are ALL OVER my area. We call them "satanistas."

We found a dude named Carlos and visited him the nexr day. Pretty much the most draining visit I've had my whole mission. This area is all around physical/emotional/everything workout. Won't share too much details right now. Carlos is in lowest of low. We didn't even share anything with him, we just prayed and then cleaned his entire house. His house was so nasty. I cleaned the roach filled kitchen. Washing 3 month old food off dishes. Lucaila is getting a hardcore intro to mission life!

Other people we are teaching:
Luis Prada: ex-marine who just got his motorcycle stolen
Elisabeth and Juan Carlos: A pizza chef and her son who is a skater
Rosa Prada: she is the girlfriend of this member Jorge and she has a parrot that bites me
Cristancho Family: A less active family who sells juice in Bucaramanga

We are getting tight with our neighbors. The walls of our apartment building are pretty thin, so we spend our personal studies listening to reggaeton and Colombian rap on full blast.

Sunday was cool. We gave talks and I'm the music director.

I'm getting way into juice making skillz. The way you make juice here is: you buy the pulp of the fruit you want and you buy milk or use water + sugar.

Really like training. Elder Lucaila is a really good kid. He is a really fast learner and always asking for feedback.

Lots of ideas for things to do here... but I dont want to be an idea person i want to be a doer.

Really love and miss you guys!

Elder Blair

Monday, June 11, 2018

Week Ninety One

What is up family?

I had an awesome week.

Back in the field again. So good to be back.

I'm training Elder Lucaila (Luke - ay - la ) from Ecuador.

He's the dude sitting by me with his legs crossed. He is from Guayaquil and is DOPE.

His hobby before the mission was downloading anime episodes and re-editing them down to the BEST parts and then adjusting the audio so youtube wouldn't recognize copyright. These last transfers are gonna be SWEET.

Started the week off with the new missionaries meeting at the mission home.

Then Lucaila and I set off for Bucaramanga. We went on a 10 hour bus ride (which was nrough on Lucaila's stomach haha). The bus passed through Bogotá, Tunja, Barbosa, Socorro, San Gil, Cañon Chicamocho, PiedeCuesta, Bucaramanga. Our Zone Leaders picked us up at the bus terminal at 3:30am. They gave me our phone, the house keys, and told me our address was in our phone. We loaded up our bags in a taxi and 30min later arrived at our house in PiedeCuesta.

We took up our bags, I made our beds and we slept.

Next morning, we got up at 6:30 and did exercises and unpacked. I cleaned our bathrooms and we mopped the house. Then for brekky I made arepas and eggs and juice and then BOOM OPEN AREA TIME.

We called our:
Mission Leader
Elders Quorum President
Lunch Lady
Pretty much all the #s in our phone.

We have just been running around our area this week. Our Bishop- Bishop Lizcano took us around in his pickup and showed us where the chapel was.

Yeah my area PiedeCuesta is just pure Colombian pueblo. Tons of 14 year olds with rattails whistling and riding motorcycles around with their girlfriends. Hot and dusty and green. Nobody wears clothes.

We have been getting home exhausted everyday. One of my hardest working weeks of the mission. We just learn all the neighbors names in the area and pound fists with all the kids.

TONS of water comes out of my shower. Legit a river comes out of this little spout. And it's freezing cold. But so dope. I take like 3 microshowers (20seconds-2minutes) a day and just jog in place.

Also stoked to be back in Buca becuase I can drink HIPINTO PIÑA again. It's my fav soda in Colombia- pineapple flavored.

We scheduled breakfast with the ward mission leader and he gave us like 20 less active families to visit.

So tons of stuff happening but I also have to remember my kid Elder Lucaila. Such a good dude. Super good at taking feedback and always in a good mood.

We have already had a lot of good talks. Mostly trying to make these last transfers tons of hard work but tons of fun. We watch church dvds at night.

Some words I learned this week:

Garrotero - someone from piedeCuesta
Chaparrita - a short girl

Love you guys!

Elder Blair

Monday, June 4, 2018

Week Ninety

Hey family what is up??

I'm going into my last 12 weeks. At the beginning of the mission, all the new missionaries have to do a program called First 12 weeks — you read through a manual with your trainer and practice teaching lessons —things like that.

So now I'm going into my last 12 weeks.

It has been an insane week. President Laney gave me the choice of staying as AP or finishing in the field and I told it him I was ready for whatever. I'll head out on a 12-hour bus ride this Wednesday to my final area: Pie de Cuesta (Foothills) Zona Bucaramanga.

I'll be training and opening the area. I'm stoked out of my mind. I've really missed having all the time in the world to make my area sweet. I've never trained a new missionary and its gonna be awesome.

Things that happened this week:

I went on splits 5 of the 7 days.

I went out with an Elder in a super rough patch. We had a sweet day and then a good inventory in his house.

I worked in my area with Elder Hernandez from Peru. We had a good day. I have become bffs with this recent convert grandma in our ward named Maria Mercedes Portilla. With Elder Hernandez, we took her to do Family History at Brother Trujillos house.

Bro. Trujillo was mission president of the Cali Colombia Mission in 2003-2005. He told us, "Out of the 5 people who know the most about family history in Colombia, I'm #1." Whenever Bro. Trujillo gives a talk at church, he prints out copies of it and gives them out afterwards haha.

Here Elder Hernandez and I are sitting in the Gordon B. Hinckley seat at his house. The seat where Pres. Hinckley sat in his house I guess.

Maria Mercedes Portilla and Bro Trujillo.

Later Elder Hernandez and I surprised our mission leader at his work and we brought him donuts.

I spent the day with Elder Leon also from Peru. We had a good lesson with Janet, a single mom from Venezuela. She lives in my area with her son Jesus. We visited her with our mission leader, Nephi. She used to repair furniture back in Venezuela and had a good business and now she can't get work anywhere. And some hooligans stole her phone last week. Just going through hard times. There's a lot of Venezuelans in our ward so yesterday at church we got Janet set up with friends. Forgot to take a pic with Janet and will probably never see her again. A lot of Venezuelans just need a support system because Colombia can be a cruel place.

At the end of the day I took Elder Leon to a Peruvian restaurant and we got leche de tigre (tiger milk) and Inca Cola. Peruvian food is super strong flavored. Really sour and spicy. But I dug it.

I was with Elder Maldonado from Argentina.

I can only remember visiting super cool siblings in our ward — Sebastian and Laura. We just shared Enos 1 with them and somehow tied it to missionary work, and then we asked them about less actives and people who need help in the ward, and people they know to invite to an FHE. Went well.

My replacement came. Elder Heninger — super good mission friend. He makes movies too.
Saturday was crazy. We helped the Buitrago family move houses for the whole first half of the day. Then we went to mission offices and I taught the new APs how to do transfers and multi-zone conferences.

So we wrapped up the week this Sunday. Brought some goodbye cards for Bishop Rojas and Victoria Correa. Then all afternoon we did transfers. Mostly I just supervised. I went to the terminal with the secretaries to buy all the bus tickets needed for transfers. We finished the transfers and were all starving so we waited till midnight to go out and buy some food (to not break Sabbath). I bought bread and this camembert cream I found. It was nasty haha.

We forgot the house keys and slept in the mission offices.

I'll miss my companion, Elder Dias. We got along awesome. AP was super fun seeing all the missionaries and changing anything that didn't work well. My area was hardest area I've had so far.

Anyways, really good week. Elder Stevenson the Apostle is coming to visit the mission in Bucaramanga in 2 weeks and the entire mission is coming out so it will be sweet to see everyone one last time.

I'm ready to go hard these last two transfers. I'll never be a missionary again in a really short amount of time. I'll have to deal with school and work and rent. I don't realize how much freedom I have here. But I'm ready to go hard, make hard lives better.

Love and miss you guys.

Elder Blair

Monday, May 28, 2018

Week Eighty Nine

Hey family,

This week was good.

Super tiring.

Tuesday: We are making a binder of info about the mission for the new mission pres. Getting all the stake presidents #s and mission numbers together.

I had splits with Elder Vincent. I got us a deal to go on a radio show where they interview foreigners about Bogotá. We taught charla (discussion) #1 and got 5000 new investigators. We just answered questions about the church, Bogota, the temple, and missionaries.

Thursday: Spent the whole day weighing bags of missionaries who are going home and dropping them off at the airport. I was with Elder Sanchez who used to be a ñero in Guadalajara, Mexico. We had a really good inventory. He's about to finish his mission so I dropped some life tips.

Friday: Had splits with Elder Osorio from Valledupar (Colombia). Hes a good friend on the mission. We sang Vallenato all day long. I've never had a Colombian companion but always wanted one. We had a good FHE with the Garcia family and brought them a bag full of chocoramos. (They are like Colombian Twinkies that everybody loves...but aren't even that good.)

Saturday...we went to Suba to attend the baptism of Julio.

This is Julio. My companion, Elder Dias, knocked on his window in the rain 3 months ago. Super cool dude who requested "Battle Hymn of the Republic" to be sung at the service.

Elder Dias and I have been visiting way more members of our ward. The mission is focusing on supporting recent converts who have been neglected. Sunday is way better when you are friends with the members. We have FHEs planned everyday this week haha.

There is this homeless dude from NY who has been showing up to church on Sunday lately. He asked me for some clothes and I told him I'd bring him some this week (our house has tons of missionary clothes). He gave me a Harley Davidson hat as a gift.

I feel like we have very little time to do everything we need to so I've learned tons about planning and time usage these transfers. Mastering morning routine and studies.

I really like "zeal w/o knowledge" by Hugh Nibley. It talks about how we don't have eyes on top, behind, and on the sides of our heads. Only in front. So everywhere we look is a choice. So every second of our lives is a moral measure of ourselves. That's also been a focus lately — thinking about the best things and "looking" better.

Today for Pday we went to the Tatacoita desert. We went with Elder Johnson and Elder Thompson from Suba and got a sister named Diana to drive us out.

Tatacoita is a desert made up of sand canyons. Really pretty. It would be a great place to make a western. Americana landscape. Here are some pics Elder Dias snapped on his GoPro:

with the Virgin

majesty of tatacoita

desert solitaire

I want to go hard for the last of my mission but holy crap I'm excited to come back.

Sure love you guys! See you soon.

Elder Blair

Monday, May 21, 2018

Week Eighty Eight

Hey fam what is up! Betty killed it on her talk.

We had a good week. Our area is picking up and we have an awesome investigator pool.

Some of the people we teach:
Jacinto Delarosa: Architect from Santa Marta
Hermana Delarosa: Lawyer for Fiscalía (the police)
Olga: Lawyer for the military
Jose Davila: Flute teacher for special needs kids
Victoria Correa: Metalworker from Texas
Luis Linares: Venezuelan construction worker

Love our investigators.

We have pretty little time in our area so when we get to work there we are running from lesson to lesson — which is the best feeling.

Some things that happened this week:

I had 2 splits — one with Elder Burbank, one with Elder Navas. Both good friends. Burbank is from Logan; abaseball player who gives baseballs to everyone.

Elder Navas is half Colombian half Hondureño. We had an open house in the chapel and got a ton of people in. Super fun dude to be around.

We finally got the last punch on our card from the empanada store across the street and got 25 free empanadas. #dope

Elder Powlus and I saw this dude practicing rapping in a park and had a rap battle with him.

We had the leadership council for the mission. My comp and I gave a training that went super well. I had an idea of bringing out an ironing board and iron and trying to iron a wrinkled shirt in front of everyone without plugging it in. Obviously it doesnt work. We use it to illustrate a point that an iron doesn't work to iron a shirt without electricity and the Book of Mormon doesn't help people without the Spirit. Pretty corny haha. Everybody was freaking out when we brought out the ironing board.

Our main transportation here in Bogotá is Transmilenio.
Transmilenio is a bus system. Costs about 70 cents to use and is almost always open. Pretty dope. Some qualities are:
Always smells like piss
100% always Venezuelans selling things
People playing music
Grandpas rapping
Fights (mostly after 7pm)
Robberies (24/7)
Students practicing their presentations in front of everyone (awesome)
Preachers preaching
Mormon missionaries preaching
Shocking things that shouldn't be in missionary emails home

Yeah so you get on the bus and there is always someone selling candies or just sharing their situation and asking for help. Super draining stories always right in front of our face. Lots of people make up stories but we can't judge who's making up and who's legit. Missionary policy: we give coins when we feel like we should.

But I have grown to love transmilenio

Some good Spanish words:
jeva: a girl who is almost your girlfriend
aguacero: downpour
plomacera: a fluttery of bullets
gomelo: rich person
papichulo: pimpdaddy

Anyways, awesome week.

Love you guys a ton!

Elder Blair