Monday, April 16, 2018

Week Eighty Three




My Week Report

Hey fam. How are you guys doing?

We had a super busy week.

Started off on Tuesday with a ROADTRIP with President Laney and Sister Laney. We went to Duitama.

On the drive there, we stopped at Price Smart which is legit just Costco.

There are even samples.

We also found this:


We also stopped in PAIPA which is this town known for leatherwork.
Pres. Laney loaded up on leather bags.

Then we got to Duitama. We stayed with the Zoe Leaders for the night. My comp Elder Vieira served in Duitama so we visited this family who loves him:



The dude hugging us is named NELSON and he is insane. His house has so much stuff. That's the only way I can describe it. HE HAS SO MUCH STUFF.

Nelson kept on saying: "The mountains didn't come to Mohammed; Mohammed went to the mountains." #wordofwisdom

Nelson also has a costume shop:



NEXT DAY: We had a good Multi-Zone Conference. We trained the missionaries on going ....the.....extra mile :)

So much fun seeing the missionaries in form in Boyacá. Bogotá Norte has awesome missionaries.

My companion and I finished up the trip by going to Nobsa with some members. Nobsa is known for CALIZA stones which are used to make concrete. A small town made up of farms and smoke towers. We got a RUANA for Pres. Laney and his family.

OTHER STUFF

I had 2 days of splits this week...with Elder Espinoza (from Lima, Peru) and Elder Oliveira (from Sau Paulo, Brazil). So good seeing Oliveira. He was in my district in Suba and we have had some crazy days.

With Espinoza we just worked like dogs in freezing rain for 6 hours straight.

Oliveira and I contacted a lady walking by the temple. She asked us where we were from and I said "Arauca" as a joke (because Arauca is a super dangerous Guerrilla-filled city) and it turns out... her family is from Arauca. I think she took it as a signal. We were talking with her and she was like, "Whoa, I'm feeling something...I never take this way home but I decided to take it today...and I'm trying to find meaning in my life...and you mentioned Arauca!" So pretty sweet that we name dropped Arauca.

Tons and tons of Venezuelans in my area. We have become pretty good friends with Luis and his niece Victoria. Luis has been in Colombia about 2 months. A lot of families go to bed hungry where I work. Super draining...

We had an awesome show up of investigators at STAKE CONFERENCE.

We cabbed to Stake Conf. with Luis and Victoria...and Victoria from Texas showed up as well! She has been off grid for 2 weeks...I thought she wasn't interested anymore. But we were stoked to see her and Pres. Laney came and talked to her as well. Yeah it was a good Stake Conf.

HAD A SWEET PDAY TODAY AS WELL

We went to the Salt Mines of Nemocon way out in the boonies. We took like 6 buses to get there haha.

Nemocon is part of the Sabana section of Cundinamarca, Colombia with tons of fossils and insane geology.

Highlights were:



XILOPALO: fossilized wood.



This 6000 year old flute made out of human bone

Email is too large now so I'll send other pics by message.

Anyways. Miss you guys a ton. Hope everybody is busy doing meaningful projects!

Love Elder Blair

------

Salt Mine photos:



Monday, April 9, 2018

Week Eighty Two

This is my week report:

Had a pretty tiring week!

It went down...

I had four back to back splits. Splits w/ other missionaries take up so much energy, but always are fun.

I was with Elder Sullón (Piura, Peru), Elder Aguilar (Arequipa, Peru), Elder Burbank (Logan, Utah) and Elder Malpartida (Lima, Peru).

All awesome guys.

Lately we have been contacting right outside the temple, and inviting people in. We teach lessons in the lobby and get temple workers to teach with us haha.

On my splits with Elder Sullón, we saw a man walking with a limp, staring at the Temple. We invited him inside so he came. His name is Edwin Toban-- got into a motorcycle accident 4 months ago. It was really cool getting to know him. He seemed interested in what we were saying.

Still giving out band-aids like CRAZY! We gave one to a cab driver who was coughing, to help his throat...

On splits with Elder Burbank, we had tons of sweet contacts.

We stopped one lady walking on the street:

Us: Hey neighbor, we are the missionaries! Do you know us?

Lady: Yeah, I think I talked with you guys a year ago.

Us: Oh sweet! We wanted to ask you if you believe in Jesus.

Lady: No, I only believe in energies. I can interpret anybody's energy while I converse with them.

Us: Sweet! How is our energy??

Lady: It pleases me :)

That contact brought me back to the Bay Area for a sec! Met another lady. We asked what she's looking for in life, and she told us: "A church to attend."Almost peed my pants!

We were also in a park and contacted a dude walking home. We asked if we could walk with him for a bit and he invited us over. So we ended up teaching a lesson with him, his wife, and his mom in-law.

Towards the end of the day, we went way out to the Andes to see if this less active named Robert was home to visit. He was finally home (I had previously tried to visit like four times). He is a sculptor and a painter. He had a huge painting, but it was facing the wall. We asked to see it, and he got really defensive. Just told us "I ONLY PAINT ABSTRACT PAINTINGS, I DON'T PAINT BODIES."  Hmmm...

But we had a good talk with him.


This week, Elder Vieira made Avocado juice. Its super common in Brazil: Milk, sugar, Avocado, Banana if you want. We were all sketched out when he made it but it turned out so good.

Other people we met:

-A Hindu Lady who also came inside the Temple with us.
-Luis and Victoria- A Venezuelan dude and his niece. They came to church with us this week.

Lots of commotion in our ward this week, from all the changes in Ward organization. The Elders Quorum Pres has become the general Elders Quorum Pres. His name is Jaimes Fuentes and he is an insane cop. Super high up, works on the big Narcos of Bogotá. Last p-day, we saw him standing in an alleyway with a trenchcoat. I asked how many weapons he had on him and he just said, "Don't speak too loudly here." LOL

Today we got VIP into the Bogotá soccer stadium.

We told the security guard we had that we had a grandma who was a huge soccer fan and just wanted us to bring her a pic. #finesse




freaky baby faces

Anyways loving life this week. Love the people in my mission. Love the learning experiences everyday.

Missing you guys a ton!

Elder Blair

Monday, April 2, 2018

Week Eighty One

This is my week report (with other missed details from last week).

Hey family, how are you guys doing? I know Olive's doing good "babysitting."

I have lots of stuff to report (sorry for flaking out last week).

FRIDAY 23 OF MARCH, 2018

We flew out to Bucaramanga. In the line boarding the plane, President Laney contacted a Jesuit Priest. He invited him to the Bucaramanga Stake Easter Devotional. We got on the plane. The Barrancabermeja Fútbol team were on the flight #dope. We sat next to a dude who works for Postobon. I read the March issiue of the Avianca travel magazine for the 1st time.

Barrancabermeja futbol team

We touched down in Bucaramanga, Santander. We got a cab driven by Hernando. Exiting the Palonegro airport, theres a billboard that says: "Quien pisa tierra Santandereana es Santandereano." Interpreted: Whoever touches Santanderian ground is Santanderian. #Warmwelcome

Turns out our cab driver Hernando is BFs with Hector Elias. Hector Elias is an OG member who works in a notary and married a couple that got baptized while I was in Bucaramanga. (Elder Jaque and I were witnesses.) Hector Elias also directed the Bucaramanga Missionary Christmas Choir December 2018. (Below is Hector Elias with 2 ladies.)


Anyway, while in the cab, we made calls to different companionships in Bucaramanga to find out where we could stay the night. We cabbed all the way to this huge mall called Cacique to eat lunch. It was packed with young adults who just graduated college.

We settled on staying with Elder Torres and Elder Melendez - Area: Pinos 2.

I was with Elder Torres for the day. Elder Torres is baseball player / coder with biggest calves I've ever seen. We spent the day working hard. We knocked on one door and a young man came out and said he wanted nothing to do with us. But I told him we also can teach English or bathe his dog and he opened up. He let us inside so we taught him with his cousin! #BOOOYAHHHH NEVER GIVE UP

Later that day: Morrorico. Favelas with steepest stairs I've seen in my life.

Rance lost to Colombia en fútbol 2-3.


SATURDAY 24 OF MARCH, 2018

Multizone conference: Bucaramanga / Terrazas / Barrancabermeja

Dont remember anything.

We flew home to Bogotá and I read the March issue of the Avianca travel magazine for the 2nd time.


Flash forward to this week...

We flew out to Cúcuta first thing. (Read March issue of Avianca travel magazine for 3rd time.) I wrote you guys from there last Monday. I could see Venezuela from the Internet Cafe. I spent the day with Elder Wood and witnessed him getting his dear john #rip.

Cúcuta is pretty cray. Almost only dirt roads. Super dusty. On every street, somebody is laying concrete or doing some one-man DIY construction project.

OTHER NOTABLE THINGS

I had two splits this week. One with Elder Orr (6' 8" Alberta Canada). We contacted this preacher walking with his huge family. They were super funny. I also stocked up on 1000 bandaids this week and we have been giving them away in contacts haha.

Also had splits with Elder Thompson (who lived with me in our house in Suba). He is going into genetics and opera so we talked about Crispr and CON TE PARTIRO.

#LDSCONF

Conference was so good. We made breakfast with President Laney and Secretaries at the mission home and watched Saturday morning session there.

watching conference

The afternoon session we got #krispykreme and all watched in the offices. Got good answers to some of the questions I had.

Yeah I thought conference was super cool. Really enjoyed Bishop Causse's talk.

The week went well. I read that Thomas S. Monson never saw his dad say anything negative about anyone, and that's something I've been trying to work on this week.

Also trying to improve on listening to people. I should be better at this from a year and a half of listening to people but I still distract myself quite a bit.

Looking forward to this week. 4 splits in my area. Splits take so much energy.

Also seemed to have a vision of a NY movie. I have a new desire to make my own NY movie.

Love you guys! Already looking forward to the Mother's Day call.

Elder Blair

Monday, March 19, 2018

Week Seventy Nine

Week Report

Hey fam! Missing you guys a ton.

This is my week report:

Monday- the whole mission had transfers. While everybody was traveling to their new areas, we basically just ran errands. Went to Banco Occidente so my comp Elder Vieira could pay for his renewed foreigner visa. Mostly spent time in the mission offices answering questions.

We also went to the bus terminal (in a taxi driven by a dude without legs) to hang out with the missionaries there and greet the missionaries arriving in Bogotá. Fun seeing some of my friends coming to Bogotá from Bucaramanga.

Tuesday we received the new missionaries from the Bogotá MTC. Nine hermana missionaries and 2 elders. Most came from Peru. One from Argentina, one from Bolivia, one from Cartagena. Pretty awesome. We went to the MTC, loaded their luggage in a bus and we all went to Parque Nacional.

Parque Nacional is a super chill park where Colombia was dedicated for missionary work by Pres. Kimball. Pres. Laney started the tradition to go there with the new missionaries. We sing “Oíd El Toque del Clarín” (“Hark, Listen to the Trumpeters”). Then they go out to contact. We started a new part of the ceremony where each missionary gets a sheet to fill out goals for their mission. They each go to a different corner of the park so they can think about it. The sheet is small enough to put in their scriptures afterwards so they can study their goals throughout their missions.

It's a pretty cool introductory ceremony to the mission. (Sidenote: I've been missing the song Ceremony, by New Order lately.)

I had my 18 month birthday and finished my hermana mission #RIPHermanaBlair

Other notable thing was splits with one of my best friends, Elder Vincent. My area has pretty big mountains in it and we spent pretty much all day there. The most insane divide of rich/poor people. These super nice apartment complexes right by essentially favelas. But I love the mountains. It's the coolest part of Bogotá.

Anyway splits was SWEET we visited this dude Juan Camilo who was a reference sent to us. We taught him in his lobby. First lesson went OK but every time we talked, Juan would just wave to people walking behind us, and whenever I looked back no one was there. #yikes

Later we tried to visit this less-active dude named Robert who wasn't home. So we ended up knocking doors for the rest of the day and we found another less-active family who lives with some non members. They let us in and it was dope. We started talking about prayer and we asked them if they had ever received an answer to their prayer and the wife told us that God revealed the names of her kids to her -- Noa and Jacob. Normally would weird me out but I'm so used to hearing stuff like that at this point...

Bogotá is a great city though. It's a serious city. Bucaramanga is super chill 100% of the time. The weather alone tricks your mind into thinking it's on vacation. Cúcuta is dusty and dirty and super hot and humid. Tricked me into thinking I was homeless. Bogotá on the other hand; you know business is getting done. Mostly red brick buildings that go up into mountains. There is a word for Bogotá OGs: Cachaco. I'll attach a photo of a Cachaco.



This is a Cachaco. They bring a lot to the Bogotá vibe.


Forgot why I'm talking about this but it's okay.

Anyway, that was the bulk of what happened this week. I had some pretty cool personal studies this week. Read about Elijah and Elisha. I think Elijah is my favorite Old Testament prophet. I liked how he would just say, “Ok if I'm a prophet then (x) will happen.” And then God always makes it happen. Elijah was just good at taking advantage of the perks.

Also read this quote from Howard W. Hunter: “Our genuine concern should be for the success of others.”

We are getting a training ready for the zone conferences this transfer. We keep starting, getitng somewhere, then we change our minds and start over.

Also, pretty sure I lost my phone. I left it charging in the offices and when I came back it was gone. 100% no doubt in my mind it was the cleaning lady.

Lots to think about. Words that keep coming back to my mind are, “Times are a changing.”

I feel it in my bones. It feels weird to be on a mission knowing at the back of my head that insane tech is dropping every week; that and 10,000 other things. Cool being in a bubble but at the same time I want to be a part of everything going on.

But better to stay in mission mode (turn peoples sucky lives into sweet lives). Those are my words to live by. PAZ


Bogotá w Andes Mountains


P-DAY


Elder Vincent contemplating the mission.


Vieira thinking about his gf. :(


Me contemplating the world of possibilies opened by crispr...


Living the pure life @ Monserrate.


Splits with Vincent.


Falling off the mountain.


Love you family! Live it up.

E L D E R  B L A I R

Monday, March 12, 2018

Week Seventy Eight

TRANSFERS

This is my week report:

SATURDAY AFTER WRITING:

We were walking home from the offices and passed by Restaurante Daniel. A sketchy white van pulled up and a mariachi band piled out. They started playing as they walked inside. Fitting end to the week.

SUNDAY

No memories.

MONDAY

We went to Bucaramanga for the Zone conference. I took advantage of airport wifi to download "LE LIVRE DE MORMON" + "TEACHINGS OF BRIGHAM YOUNG"

Flight to Bucaramanga was short. I sat next to a Caleño. There was a travel magazine advertising Sau Paulo (where my companion Elder Vieira is from). Looks like a good city. It has 2nd largest Japanese population in the world after Japan.

We got some time to visit a few of the converts here. Everybody in my area was shocked when they saw me. So awesome seeing Arelis and Thomas. Didn't have much time but we had some small talk and said a prayer with them.

We went to stay in North of Bucaramanga. I was with Elder Goncalves for the night. His area is so huge it doesn't make sense. There is a massive steep hill of favelas in his area. I asked what the hill was called. Goncalves told me its called "ESPERANZA" (hope). Right when he told me, we saw a 12 year old with a rattail and a HUGE BLUNT in his ear head down the stairs of the hill.

Thats what I call esperanza. ;)

The zone conference went well. It was the last one of the transfer. That was a relief. You can see pics of it here.

We had given the same training 5 times throughout the transfer and it felt great putting it into the shredder. Sweet seeing Elder Skinner and all my boys from Bucaramanga!

Elder Patterson came to visit the mission with his parents and they stopped by the zone conference as well. Sweet seeing Patterson again!

We had 3 more splits this week. All were pretty tiring.

CAMBIOS

So yesterday during Sacrament Mtg, President Laney sent us a text saying he already had the transfers ready. After church we went to Bishop Rojas' house for lunch and then scrambled back to mission offiices to get our stuff and go through transfers to look for mistakes, and then we ran to the Mission Home.

We had our meeting w Pres Laney. We told him the mistakes we found in the transfers. There weren't many. (One elder was gonna be kept in an area for a 6th transfer so we stopped that.) We made plans for the multizone for next transfer. Then we finished the meeting and Sister Laney gave us Coke for the long night that awaited us.

We headed back to the offices, counted all the missionaries who will travel and we sent the secretaries to buy bus tickets. Then we started filling the EXCEL Transfers sheet.

Then we made calls to all the zone leaders in the mission and told them who's coming and going. Always funnest part. :)

We were in the offices till 3:30 AM. Right as we left, I realized I forgot my keys. We had to walk to the Secretary's house like 10 blocks away from the offices (Bogotá is cold at night). Finally got to our house at 4:20 (blazeit) and I said the shortest companionship prayer ever and we slept like logs.

Love Elder Vieira. He always says "mas loco que el Batman" —"crazier than the batman." EX: "these transfers are crazier than the batman." It's supposedly a saying in Brazil. I keep telling him Batman isn't known for being crazy haha.

Way cool seeing Maude and Olive in France. Awesome that they got to see the Lecrosniers. One of the best families ever.

This is our next Mission Pres:



to put the fear in you.



Love you guys so much!!!!

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Week Seventy Seven

This is my week report:

We have to go on splits with all the zone leaders every transfer (there are 12 zones, 24 zone leaders). This week, pretty much every day was splits.

I have only gotten to work with my comp in our area once this whole transfer haha.

It was fun because almost every night this week, there were 4-6 missionaries staying with us. My companion, Elder Vieira, has this workout video called AB RIPPER X and we all do it in the morning. We quote from it all the time i.e. "IF YOU NEED A BREAK, TAKE A BREAK!" and "NICE MY BROTHER." and "DON'T DO THIS EVERY DAY; YOU DON'T NEED IT."

So this week on splits I went with Elder Crandell (from my first district, one of my best friends here.), Elder Varillas, and Elder De los Santos.

Splits were so much fun with Crandell. Back to good old days when we went on splits together in Barbosa and Tunja and didn't know any Spanish. A member named David came with us the whole day. He just finished his mission in Frankfurt, Germany. (His dad passed away during his mission and David gave an awesome talk 2 weeks ago.) We visited Victoria (the lady from Texas). Victoria is doing awesome. She always participates a ton in Gospel Principles. Afterwards we visited a less-active family way out in the mountains. It was a sweet lesson and we got them pumped up to go back to church again. Mostly it was fun hanging with Crandell again.

Intercambios with Varillas was cool. At the start of the day we said a prayer to meet a family. We pretty much got rejected 8 hours straight. Then before heading home we knocked 1 more door and a family let us in. The Murcia family. They are awesome. Sebastian lives with his mom (who is kind of loopy. She thinks she is Sebastian's sister). His grandparents had recently died so we taught a pretty good Plan of Salvation lesson. Brother Cando was with us all day. He is from Otavalo and taught us some quechua: ALI PACHA.

Yesterday was a great day with Elder De Los Santos. De Los Santos is a chef from the Philippines.

I had nothing planned so we were just gonna go out and wing it. I called brother Castiblanco (a member I met last Sunday in my ward). I asked if we could swing by and visit. He said yes so we cabbed over. We visited him with his parents. His parents got baptized in 76 and are the 2nd oldest members in my ward. The mom got eye surgery this week (not LASIK, it sounds like they surgically installed lenses in her eyes. What is that called?). Anyways it was a good call to visit them.

Then we asked them if they knew any other members we should visit. Immediately, Hermano Alonso (the grandpa) told us to visit León Velasquez. He is the OG member with the most time in the ward. We invited Hermano Alonso to come with us to visit him and we all headed there.

P.S. — Hermano Alonso is a powerhouse and introduced us to 3 people on the way to Leon's house.

We got to Leon's house. Leon is 85 and lives in a private old-people neighborhood. He is in a wheelchair and can't really talk anymore. Mostly grunts. But Hermano Alonso was good at translating what he said. I asked Leon what his favorite verse in the BOM is and he said it was "a brief explanation about the Book of Mormon". I asked why and told him thats' not a verse. He just told us to read it to him and never explained why. But Leon is awesome. Two things he did that blew my mind:

1. He told Hermano Alonso to remember his daughter's birthday on April 21st. Leon has all Hermano Alonso's kids birthdays memorized.
2. We asked if there was a service he needed and he told us, "Buy me a nice coffin." MIC-DROP.

I really admire Hermano Alonso as well. Every Sunday, he wheels Leon home. He was also good about moving his wheelchair around.

After those 2 member visits, Elder De Los Santos and I got some good contacts in. We went to see if this dude Danny was home. I had met him the the day before. Danny was there and so was his family. They are from Maracaibo, Venezuela. We taught them on their floor because they don't have any chairs. They gave us Arroz con Leche. Pretty awesome. Big love for Maracuchos.

So turned out to be a sweet day w/o plans.

Other stuff:
- Awesome administration. We were preparing the mission results for leadership conference and there were some numbers that would NEVER LINE UP. We painstakingly went though 1 by 1 for hours .GETTIN BUISNESS DONE

- CRAZY CRAP GOING DOWN IN THE MISSION. Some dudes sneaking out at midnight, some love note etc. Lots of crazy phone calls. We have had to shut down 3 areas this transfer.

Yeah we go to Bucaramanga on Monday. Stoked! Will see lots of my best friends here.

Love you guys

Elder Blair