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.


Monday, October 23, 2017

Week Fifty Eight

Hey Fam. Hope all is good.

This week was packed. So much fun. A pretty big area called San Gil (uncle Josh was there) just got reopened in our zone after being closed for a year. Some pretty insane transfers there. We had 10 elders sleeping at our house at one point.

I just have a ton of pics.



Last pday with my comp Elder Jaque haha.


This week we had a multi-zone conf. They are always cool because you get to see tons of other missionaries. Jaque and I were in charge of lunch for everyone. We had a sister named Martha make a ton of fried chicken.

Lately the mission has been focusing on inspired questions. In lessons the idea is that you have to "go to heaven" to find the question God wants you to ask. Its pretty fun.

Went HAM with Elder Tracy

Had some dope splits with Tracy. He's from my MTC group. We saw this dude smoking. He looked pissed so we went over and talked to him. His name was Carlos. He wasn't doing anything so we got to know him. We walked all the way to the chapel with him. It was closed (oops) so we just talked with him. I told Elder Tracy to ask an inspired question. He took like 2 minutes to think of it and then asked, "Carlos, why is your name important to you?" The question blew his mind. Definitely a mic drop moment. Carlos is a cool dude though. Had to grab a pic.

Saul got baptised. Saul is awesome. He used to hate us and now hes our best friend. The dude who baptised him is name Gustavo. They are work companions. 

Cleaning the font w Luis Caceres.


Rolling with 50 keys.


Jaque and I at leadership council.


Dope bird.

Ramon. A legend. He served his mission in Brazil and comes with us everywhere. That is a pic of him and Jaque in this lesson we had with this super rich investigator girl who goes to Alliance Francaise.


This dude is juan. He rejected us but still had to grab a pic.


Drilling.


Elder Tracy and I. I'm sitting in a mesadora. They're these chairs everybody has here. The best. A really great chair.


After Saul's baptism interview.


My area.

Elder Skinner getting run over.


Me with Elder Madeja. He speaks like 10 languages.


Sebastian my convert. So funny. Probably my best friend in this area.


Selfie w that blue bird. Zoom in to see bird face.




Monday, October 9, 2017

Week Fifty Six



Hey fam hope all is going well!

This week was packed. Prob walked 15 miles at least everyday. Mostly just doing damage in our area. We found some crazy people this week.

Stuff that went down:

We went to visit some elders in the zone who live out in the boonies far away from everyone. Elder Jimenez (Guatemala) and Elder Hulet (Utah). We made them some arepas for breakfast. 


Lunch with our mission leader and his wife. The LEMUS family. He was in the military most of his life. Power couple. They come to every activity, give rides to everyone. This photo is from last transfer. He always roasts us. If he doesn't like the prayers we say, he says it to our face. Sister Lemus knows every single hymn. She always directs the music and chooses these obscure hymns no one knows and just belts a solo. Dope.

 
This is what it's like when the Colombia national soccer team plays. Huge screens set up in neighborhoods to watch. Whole country shutdown.

So we spent the whole week trying to find people. Prob worked harder than any other week. And usually new investigators come pretty easily. This week was rough though. So much rejection. I remember Pres. Rains warned me that would be hard and I remember thinking it wouldn't bother me. But definitley gets to you. 

Accidentally sat in puke in this park. I was brushing my butt on this tree to get it off and everyone was looking at me OOPS.

Met a lady with an Oakland As hat who was holding a green and yellow parrot who matched her hat.

We taught an intense Catholic missionary named Edel Silva. We were talking with him in his door for awhile. Then he asked if we taught english. BOOM let us in. He's super cool.

Really love the people we teach though. Everybody in Colombia calls each other neighbor. 



Missing you guys a ton! I love the mission. I feel like im in an agency video game sometimes. 

Love you!
Elder Blair

Monday, October 2, 2017

Week Fifty five

Hey Fam. Hope everyone's doing good.

RIP Robert D Hales, Tom Petty, Las Vegas.


On Monday night Elder Tracy arrived. I slept over with him and Elder Heredia in La Cumbre. That night at 11, I had to go back to the terminal to pick up new elders. I had 2 all-nighters this week in the bus terminal waiting for new elders to arrive. It's never sure when the buses will arrive. And you can't sleep because you can't miss the bus. Elder Tracy and I went 50 hours without sleep while waiting. It was also good though. I had time to talk with a struggling elder. He really likes to draw though so I gave him a challenge this week to draw a white dragon.

Tuesday, Elder Tracy and I fell asleep in every lesson. Tracy and I were on splits and we knocked a door. A man let us inside. We shared a short message. Then we invited him to say a prayer. He said he wasn't able. We told him we knew he could and then we both bowed our heads and closed our eyes and fell asleep haha. I woke up like 2 minutes later and he was just staring at us. I made Tracy say a prayer.

Wednesday, 2 elders arrived that will be opening the recently closed Bucarica area. Elder Skinner (from Missouri, who started his mission in Barbosa), and Elder Quiñonez (a rapper from Guatemala). The first district meeting we just read Matthew 14. We also have to study language in every district meeting so we had a rap battle. Then we all stayed in Bucarica to help get things going in the area again. We all just spent the day contacting. This week alone they found 11 new investigators.

My comp arrived this Thursday at 6:00am. My new companion is Elder Jaque. He's from Chile and speaks perfect English. Pretty much another gringo comp. He learned English from movies and music. He's seen every movie. It's awesome, he's super cool.

It felt so good to be back in my area. We spent Thursday and Friday visiting everyone. Our area is huge so I'm trying to show Elder Jaque everything I know, but I still haven't touched a ton because I've only been there like 4 weeks total haha. It's been a fun week though.

One dude we visit is named Saul. He lives in Bucaramanga but all his family is in Bogota. Super cool guy. He came to conference with us. He wants to join the church but doesn't really understand anything so we are trying to amp up our teaching skills with him. But he came to general conference with us and seemed really into it.

We also visit the Amaya family. All are super nice and super Catholic. One of the sisters is named Sharol. She was like: "My one doubt is Maria. Why don't you guys believe in her? I got fired up and shared 1 Nephi 11 where Nephi sees the virgin exceeding of all beauty. Sharol felt way better about the church after that.

We also found this dude who's name is Cristian Ronaldo haha.

Conference was really cool. All the gringos in the zone watched it in the bishop's office. We fist pumped every time the missionaries got a shout out.

Favorite talks were probably Christofferson, and Stanley G. Ellis. I think holiness can be easily tied to transhumanism. Loved a line in Ellis talk: "The members of the trinity are no strangers to hard things."Overall heard a theme of migration which was cool. hashtagwecandohardthings

Sure missing you guys. Sounds like America is crazy this week.

With love,

Elder Blair

Monday, September 25, 2017

Week Fifty Four

Hey family. Hope everyone is doing awesome. Missed you guys this week.

I've been out of my area all week long. Living life with Elder Gough and Elder Heredia in LA CUMBRE. Week has been so much fun. We saw this poster for the new IT movie. The evil clown. So we've been joking about that all week. Stuff like: "Hmm that's weird. I found a curly red hair in my rice. Probably nothing..."

Elder Gough finished his mission. It was fun being with him his last week. Super funny, hard worker. He gave me and Elder Heredia all his ties and shirts.

So right now transfers are hapening. 7 Elders left my zone and 7 new ones are coming. There's been a lot of running around to terminals and frantic calls. Everything's going good so far though. I'm stoked because Elder Tracy — my best friend from the MTC is in my district now. I'll be on splits with him for a few days before my comp comes. So I'm pretty excited for this transfer.

Sebastian Sotelo got baptised. That was another crazy day. Cabbing between LA CUMBRE and my area. Sebastian is awesome. He's this 18 year old kid lho lives with his grandma. Really responsible. He's already saving up to go on a mission.

We have been trying to teach every principle with an example in lessons these days. It's really funny coming up with examples on the spot. Elder Gough talked about how if you put even a tiny bit of cat poop in a cake mix, you wouldn't want to eat the cake. I can't remember how he related it to sin but I had to keep myself from laughing.

I have a testimony of anything it's probably repentance. I like when the new testament talks about becoming new creatures and changing our hearts. I don't know, I feel like sin is real. That it keeps us from living. I feel yearnings for living real life and sinning is like living fake life. I'm grateful for the mission for all the time it gives me to think about these things.

I love you guys! You should have won in student council —somebody messed with the ballot.

Elder Blair

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

Week was cool. POPE FRANCIS IS IN COLOMBIA.

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!

KILL THOSE LICE

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

FIRST THINGS FIRST

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.