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.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Week Forty Six

Lots of stuff this week

On Tuesday I felt like I was pregnant. Our investigators took care of me though. Had lots of soup and medicine. I got in my bed and pretty much passed out but I woke up Wednesday #justasnew. But I woke up Thursday with a nasty cold, so Heaven is playing dirty mind tricks on me.

The Spanish birthday song is pretty good.

English trans:

We hope you have a happy birthday
We hope you have a birthday again
we hope you keep on having birthdays
until you hit 100k years

There was a big Stake activity. Blood Drive and Employment fair. There was a big showing and we were there helping all Friday. All the missionaries were exhausted after.

Everyone here has these spinner toys now. Probs in the U.S. too.

We had a pretty awesome FHE with the Gomez Rodriguez family. The cool part is that all the neighborhood kids came.

There are mini soccer courts everywhere in Colombia. In my area there is easily one every block. So that's an idea if america want to amp up its soccer game. It's the same principle as Bern Switzerland — its so clean because there are trash cans every 3 feet.

One kind of weird thing is that I always feel guilty. I'm pretty good about being obedient to the mission rules too, but I always feel guilty.

In Colombia I've heard 3 main types of music more than anything — regeton, ballenato, bachata. A great regeton song is Rehuso. A great bachata song is Romeo Santos- 7 dias. A great ballenato song is Nelson Velasquez - Entregarme tu amor.

One of our investigators who disappeared for 3 months showed up again. Santiago. He is 21. He only has time for visits super early in the morning but we had an awesome visit this week, with 4 young adults from the ward. Santiago always answers the phone pissed and then when he realizes he's talking with us he's like YOOO WHATS UUUPPPP?!

We also have been visiting Maria Fernanda. She is 14 and from a less active family who comes to church now. She's super cool and reminds of Olive so I always like visiting her family.

Miss you guys hope you keep on having birthdays till you hit 100,000 years.

Elder Blair

Monday, July 24, 2017

Week Forty Five

This week was good.

Really love my area. I'm almost positive I'll be leaving in about 3 weeks for transfers and I'm bummed.

We had a multi-zone conference. It was cool because I saw my old comp, Elder Guerra. He's out of Barbosa and back in Bogota now. We talked about all our favorite families in Barbosa.

The assistants gave a training on teaching 5-minute lessons.

One investigator we have is named Orlis. He's pretty much a member. He isn't because he's not married and his birth certificate (which he needs to get married) is on the coast. But this week some of his childhood friends moved into our area. They didn't bring anything -no beds nothing. Orlis called me and asked us for help. We were with the Chona family (my favorite member family). The mom Crisitina Chona (she is the mom of all the missionaries) immediately was like "I have a bed". There are very few cars here so we took apart the bed and walked all the parts across the area to the house. It was cool.

We had a cool FHE. Last week during lunch with the Horta family, we scheduled an FHE. Then me and Elder Kelly asked if we could go knock the doors of all their neighbors w them to invite for the FHE. Horta family was down so we went. A few neighbors said yes. A few days later when we had the FHE, they all showed up. It was cool. We just shared something about forgiveness because that always makes people talk.

Today was my comp, Elder Teijeira's birthday. He had never had a party for his birthday before so we had to go ALL OUT. I coordinated with Crisitina Chona. I told her I wanted to rent a mariachi band and she freaked out. We kept everything secret from my comp. On Sunday we invited tons of members and investigators. We tried to rent the social room of Crisitina's apartment complex. It wasn't available so we organized everything for her house. Crisitina and Alex remind me of you guys because they're really good hosts.

So today everyone arrived and we were all eating lunch. Then trumpet starts playing in the hall and everyone freaks out. The mariachi band came in and went all out. Elder Teijeira was shocked. The band tried to get him to dance and everyone shouted NOOO then a couple of our investigators got up and danced in his place. It was a super sensual dance so all the missionaries had to look away. My zone leaders were there. I think they were pissed. After the mariachi band left ,a food fight broke out. Flour and eggs were everywhere. Once things calmed down we cleaned and Crisitina let me take a shower. It was a crazy day.

We also had the baptism of Valentina Castellanos on Saturday. She's an 18 year old single mother. She's the niece of Maria Castellanos. Two months ago she told us she would never join the church because she was ALL ABOUT THAT CLUB LIFE. But a few weeks ago she was like, "nevermind". She had a pretty huge change of heart. The cool thing was that like 60 people showed up. We invited all the missionaries in our zone and I asked Elder Johnstun (who plays the violin) to work out a special number. Turned out super cool.

Miss you guys thinking about you guys more than usual.

Elder Blair

Monday, July 17, 2017

Week Forty Four

Week Report

Holy crap thank you for the MUJI pens. Also LETTERS FROM ALL THE PRIMARY KIDS that blew my mind.

This week was cool.

We had an activity with the Colombia MTC elders again. I was with an Elder from Puerto Rico and another from Peru. The goal is to show them what the mission field is like. They did good despite doing weird stuff like contacting 6 year olds. It was a fun day though. I took them up to Tuna Alta which is a ghetto in the mountains. We met a gangsta named El Tigre.

Met Pedro. He's the owner of a fruit shop. We were buying peaches and started talking with him. Really funny guy. We go to his shop everyday now and help him package platanos. We also met his family. They are all Paisas.

I had splits with Zone Leader Elder Kelly. We met up with his investigator Allan who is from NY. He took us to get a bite to eat. Allan told us to order whatever we wanted. I got a Maracuya juice. Elder Kelly took a minute to decide and then said, "I think ill have...the banana split." Then I realized I'm wasting my life.

We made Milanessa with Fernei and Luz Dary Castellanos. Cut my finger peeling potatoes and Luz Dary scolded me. Fernei is Maria Castellanos' brother. This week I met their sister Nelly and now I know the whole family (8 siblings).

My comp lost his voice this week which made for weird loss of balance while teaching lessons. Hes doing better though.

We visited Osorio. Osorio lived in Israel for awhile (I think iIwrote about translating letters from his french lover Iris). Osorio is one of my favorite people in Colombia maybe in the world. All his family lives in the coast 20 hour travel away. But this week his 21 year old daughter is visiting him. So we visited them because he wanted to introduce us. His daughter Camila gave us some Candies from Barranquilla. They gave us soup. Osorio's house is pretty much 1 room about half the size of me and Oscars bedroom. I like Osorios lifestyle a lot though. Also he wants an American Flag. I told him I'd ask you guys for help.

Trying to think of other stuff. Things going good. Sad to miss color factory dios mio.

Miss everyone hope all is well.

Elder Blair

Monday, July 10, 2017

Week Forty Three


The Tobon family are from Medellin. We helped them do their taxes. Medellin is famous for best looking people (called Paisas). Brother Tobon is the ambulance driver and he hooked me up with a pair of the blood proof pants he has.

Two months ago we were walking around and saw this dude setting up a trampoline so we helped him. After we asked if we could visit or whatever and he asked for our number because his brother might be interested (i.e. nope). But this week his brother called us. His name is Jesus his wife is named Naigibe and they have 2 kids. Really nice family.

Jesus wants help giving up cigarettes. We are going to their farm to pick clementines.

I'm going ham on old testament this morning, Joshua 2: Prostitute saves Israelite spies.

More visits with Rodriguez family (we are like therapists to he dad who was in the army for awhile). He told us his general got killed by a dead dog filled with explosives. He also showed us a photo album of his Dad who looks like Al Pacino  (and once got arrested in Miami after being mistaken for a mafia boss). While we were looking, CON TE PARTIRO was playing.

Had an FHE with the Hoyos family. They are in a stressful time because their son got in a drunk driving accident and owes a lot of money now. We made a ton of quesadillas and we used the taco mix. I think it was a good break for them.

Lately I've been doing stream of consciousness journaling. I read that Rivers Cuomo does it to write songs. It's pretty cool though and lots of weird ideas come out of it.

There is one family we visited with the bishop. Bishop asked the couple what their doubts were about marriage and the dad said if it weren't for their kids he wouldn't be with her. There's lots of strangely intense moments where I feel awkward and I feel like I'm forced to be a part of the most intimate problems of people. A lot of the time it just makes me sad.

But i just remember the wise words of Lorde:

We are on each others team.

Pope Francis coming in August .

Elder Blair

Monday, July 3, 2017

Week Forty Two

A lot of stuff happened this week.

A ton of my friends finished their missions this week.

Tons of people in the zone are getting sick too. Elder Flores got appendicitis and was hospitalized hashtagmadeline. He's out now. Hermana Ttito is in my district and she passed out in sacrament meeting. All good now though.

We visited Edgar Rodriguez more this week. I'm pretty sure we're like his therapists. He always tells us really crazy long experiences. I think he finally has people to talk to.

Met this Venezuelan dude who moved here 3 months ago. Made friends with him. He told us his sisters were arriving from Venezuela this week. Then his sister called us a few days later. We met up with all of the family and they told us all these Venezuelan words and what's going on there. They call popcorn "kotufa".

Big gang in my area got taken down. Like 40 people went to jail. Villa Hermosa is way quieter now.

Today we went with the Chona family and an RM Elder Nebeker to Monserrate. Tons of people working out, ton of praying

There are a lot of street venders who sell mango with lime juice and salt and pepper. SO GOOD.

I have 3 months in this area. I'm here at least 1 more cambio. Thinking about asking Pres. Laney for 2 more because I like it lot.

I want to buy bagpipes.

$ july we are making burgers and cookies with investigators.

Had baptism of Luz Castellanos. Tons of people showed up. It was awesome. Luz seemed happy about it.

Miss you guys a ton.

Elder Blair

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Week Forty One


The week was crazy.

We helped with 3 moves this week. At one point we (six missionaries) were all in the back of a truck with blankets.

I met a woman named Gnarly.

Elder Johnstun is a new missionary from Arizona and was telling me he had his prom in Stephanie Meyer's house and she has 4 Ferraris.

Fernei and Luz Dary is a couple we visit. Pretty young. Luz Dary has 6 kids. One lives with adoptive parents in Holland and doesn't speak spanish. Kind of blew my mind and depressed me a little. Can't imagine not being able to speak with my parents in the same language. Her oldest son was 18 when heavy piping fell on his leg. It injured his leg in a way that they had to amputate it and the amputation gave him cancer and he died. That story messed me up. Legit a lot of the time I just want to give investigators money. But super awesome family.

We spent P-day today with them. We all went to Cota which is outside of Bogota and very green and mountainous. We went to an indigenous village and met the leader who everyone calls ABUELO. 100% sure he is a ghost. He said BEFORE YOU INVESTIGATE AN INDIGENOUS VILLAGE, INVESTIGATE YOURSELF. I almost passed out.

We had an open house. I was with Elder Vincent, probably my best friend in the mission right now. We were trying to get people to come in. There was one dude riding his bike. We stopped him and invited him in. He said no, he was on his way to work. I asked if I could call his boss, he gave me her number. I called her, got her permission for him to come late into work and he came in the open house. We also got a taxi in. It was awesome. Elder Vincent also kickflipped some kid's skateboard to get his family in.

Juan got baptized and the missionaries sang that "I like to look for rainbows" song. It was cool because we all sang a verse in different languages. HAD TO REP FRENCH.

This week I thought a lot about Morrisey's wisdom.

Shyness will stop you from doing all the things in life you'd like to.

Even if you're an introvert, you shouldn't be shy.

Elder Blair

Monday, June 19, 2017

Week Forty

week report

this week i don't know

Our ward had a talent show- tons of couples in the ward are really good dancers. Legit everyone here is a pro dancer.

Made banana pancakes with the Chona family for breakfast. It was sweet -- they have a grandma in Miami who sends them peanut butter. Chona family is super cool all of them super down to earth and they know good music like Janes Dddiction.

One investigator named Juan Camilo told us that he believes in God because God saved him in a knife fight after an América vs Millonarios soccer match.

I have a gambling problem (cheeky approaching sad).

One weird thing is that suddenly tons of stuff I didn't really like in Colombia, I suddenly love. I hated Vallenato music at first and I love it now. Hated agua panela and love it now. Hated Sancocho soup and love it now.

One funny thing we did this Sunday was after we had the sacrament, me and my comp left to find people on the street to come in and we contacted like 20 people until someone said yes.

Things going good. Loving Colombia a lot. One thing I like is the sheer amount of people you get to know. I always feel good running into lots of friends on the street. Part of a community.

thinking of other stuff

Elder Blair

Friday, June 16, 2017

Email from Mission President

Brother and Sister Blair,

You have a great son!  Sister Laney and I just love him!  He always has a smile that brightens the room and a positive attitude.  I wanted to share part of a weekly letter that he wrote to me on Monday:

One thing my mom would always tell me is "get in problem solving mode". 5 words which I probably took for granted but help a ton now. I realize that there is never nothing to do in the mission field. If the cita is cancelled- contact. No one to contact- Visit a member. No one home- Make calls etc etc etc. One nugget of advice my dad gave me before I left was to learn to love work. I feel like that especially rings true for me. I always feel the best when im working hard.

Well, that explains why he is such a wonderful missionary.  Thank you for sending such a great missionary to Colombia!

Robert Laney
Misión Colombia Bogotá Norte

Monday, June 12, 2017

Week Thirty Nine


Happy Birthday mom. Love you and miss going shopping at 11pm to get Haagen Daaz.

This week was bodacious.

For awhile now I've noticed that kids haven't been in school even though it's not summer vacation yet. We were visiting the Castellanos Family and we asked the kids why they weren't in school. They said PARO. Teachers in Colombia get paid super poorly and theyr'e asking for 50% more. Teachers haven't been showing up for a month. NATIONWIDE. I asked them what they did all day and the kids were like, "i dunno watch movies". So we dropped everything and started teaching times tables and now they have 1-7 memorized.

We visited the Tobon family. They are awesome- used to live in NY. Theyre from Medellin which means they are PAISAS. The dad's job is driving an ambulance and 50% of his job is fight with corrupt police who don't want him to take injured people to the hospital. But he has these super sweet BLOOD PROOF pants with like 80 pockets. I asked him to hook me up-----70K PESOS.

Also some new investigators we have are the Rodriguez family. Alberto Rodriguez is the dad and he was in the military 20 years. He was stationed in Afghanistan and had to get a work visa in Dubai- but has tons of insane stories of seeing drones blow up enemy bases and other stuff. He has a collection of army helmets including an original Nazi helmet. We also shot his guns. Camila is his wife she speaks French and has Anne Franks diary in French- it was sweet.

I'M ALSO NEWLY ADDICTED TO BILLIARDS. We took Castellanos family to play for an fhe and now its my obsession. Also I'm realizing that you can do about anything with an FHE label.

PS -- converted my district to feminism.

PSPS -- ICI C'EST PARIS yep thats right the chona family hooked me up with a Paris saint Germain uniform via their grandma in florida


in the name of Jesus Christ AMEN

Monday, June 5, 2017

Week Thirty Eight


This week was insane

We were contacting in Villa Hermosa (Pretty Village) which is called the neighborhood of 2 lies because it's not a village and it's not pretty (i.e. last week we saw about 30 cops shut down a bar for sending girls to Venezuela selling "goods"). All the members are scared of going there but it's actually sweet.

Anyway we were walking to check if an investigator Luis was home. He wasn't but two girls called us over. There were tons of kids playing soccer in the street. So we were talking with the two girls and their brother or neighbor. I think they were all family. And some neighbor kid brought out 2 pairs of boxing gloves and I put on 1 and one of the girls put on the other pair and told me, "lets go" and then clocked me IN THE FACE. So I recovered from shock and told her to hit me harder and then she hit me way harder again IN THE FACE. That's how i got punched by a 15 year old girl.

Old Venezuelan woman told me, "I would die for Chavez."

Elder Teijeira and I made Milanessa — it was so good. Its just bread crumbed steak but it changed me. I LOVE COOKING WITH MY INVESTIGATORS and tonight I'm pumped we are gonna play tejo with the Castellanos fam (which is like petanque but w explosions) for a "fhe".

I lost 5 dollars in another fhe playing Parques which is the best boardgame in Colombia. I'm bringing one back. Everyone here is so good I lose every time.

My favorite way to end prayers now is "we love our bread we love our butter but most of all we love each other."

I don't know- this transfer is sweet. My comp is down for anything so I feel like I have way more freedom. We meet up with other elders to make breakfast or do crazy contacts. Elder Teijeira is a sweet comp. He works hard too which is good because it sucks when your comp doesn't want to do anything. We get back exhausted every night.

We also had an activity where we were put with 2 missionaries from the MTC for the day to show them what missionary life is like. Each missionary got 2. I got put with a Peruvian and an Ecuatoriano. It was crazy, they didn't know anything. I told them to invite people on the street to baptism and they almost passed out. But it was a super fun day.

Trying to think of other stuff.

Oh yeah every girl in Colombia decided to wear red lipstick this week so that was really throwing me off.





Monday, May 29, 2017

Week Thirty Seven

Week Report

This week was cool

My new comp is 3 transfers in. He’s from Argentina, he’s escaped cops on his motorcycle twice.

I pretty much can do whatever I want because my comp is down for anything and doesn’t know the area.

Stuff i ate:

breakfast - i always make a fried egg bacon sandwich. Some times swiss miss (praise the lawd).

lunch - we eat with members. I still don’t know where a lot of the members live so this cambio is a lot of running around. They usually give rice chicken platanos potatoes juice beans.

There are a ton of awesome parks in my area. We have been taking my drone to the parks to contact and all the kids come running up with their parents. It’s the best.

[Ralph sent a short report (above), but also messaged. Messaging transcript below.]


the drone is awesome
we used it contacting in a park
a ton of people came
i had to get it shipped from falabela
super complicated
they had see my visa and everything
but its awesome
it ran into this kids stomach it was so funny
yeah i went to some macys type store and had them order it in

im district leader
honestly for me its not even a big deal
so what i dont even think im a hero
ok so what my president trusts me in the hands of SIX MISSIONARIES i dont care
no im not a hero
im not a hero!

haha oh my gosh you guys im not a hero!
All that seminary really paid off, I guess.
haha sorry

i saw maude saw charles

ive been
staring at the edge of the water...
long as i can remember

i wish
i could be the perfect daughter
all the missionaries downloaded moana
we all sing it now


pday today @ plaza bolivar

Trying to think of other stuff i did this week
but sent part of a letter
My comp is 3 transfers or 4 behind me
the six missionaries in my district are from bolivia peru argentina usa
2 sisters in my district
sisters can't be disrict or zone leaders
the sisters can be hermana capacitadoras
they give trainings in confs
the castellanos fam gave me a film camera
i love the castellanos fam

Monday, May 22, 2017

Week Thirty Six

[Ralph didn't send a regular email report, but he messaged. Transcript below.]

today was my last day with Elder Ferrara from Chile
he went to cucuta by venezuela border
now another argentinian
forgot my comps name and cant see his tag lol
im finally the comp w more time
my comp has been out 3 transfers
yep still staying suba bogota
i love this area
i just love my invs (investigators)
i love my invs like family
i teach them 2 to 3 times a week
there are a few families and a handful of single persons of siblings or couples
dude are you guys getting tesla solar panels or what
yes yes YES
maude comes home this week_
are you guys going anywhere this summer
do you guys have favorite essays i can print
jesus was a nonconformist
annie dillard sounds awesome

back to investigators
everyone always gives us things to drink or food just really good people really hard workers that make time for us
the castellanos family is awesome
its like all these adult siblings
who are always at there sister marias house

we have rough stone rolling right
missionaries only talk about bom, preach my gospel, jesus the christ
you guys should move to otavalo
honestly colombia is the best south america has
ecuador sounds awesome
tons of missionaries from there here
got to go
move to isla los roques in venezuela
or cuba

Monday, May 15, 2017

Week Thirty Four

w e e k  r e p o r t


------> Happy birthday June and Betty $$$$$$$$

Week was cool

I asked my comp Elder Ferrada if he believed in mermaids and he said "yes, because the ocean is huge, but they are prob more like fish than humans"

We visited the Hoyos family. Their neighbor Louis is always there. He was in the us army in Israel in (91?) but he was showing me these letters he got from a lover in Paris named Iris. They were in English so he wanted me to translate them for him. But they were super personal letters so it was kind of awkward.

Pretty much all our investigators need to get married and to get married you need your original birth certificate and for some reason, all our investigators have their documents 12 hours away in the coast so we had a few mtgs where we made people call their moms to send them their documents. It was funny... ...?

We had a service with the zone leaders originally to move wood cutters, but we got their when the cutters had already been moved so we just cleaned sawdust. And they only had 2 brooms so we cleaned w machetes which was good.

ill try to think of other stuff.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Week Thirty One

My new area is called PINAR 1

-First things first, everyone is telling me Trump sent the mother of all bombs to Syria? IDK whats happening.1 

-big ward2 
-everybody lives in apartments
-everyone has $$$$
-ELDER FERRADA He's super cool, takes everything with COURAGE AND GRACE UNDER PRESSURE
-Theres a member in our ward who served his mission on easter island
-Elder Madeja is in my district and speaks 6 languages 3 
-We helped a fam move to a new apartment on the 5th floor it was insane prob hardest move ive ever participated in. 
-One cool thing: theres a member from Barbosa named Lenin (19). He would also go with us to lessons, he's a good friend. He moved to Medellin and then moved to Bogota and now he's in my ward lol. We saw each other and our jaws dropped.
-you run like a herd of luminous deer but I AM DARK I AM FOREST

Idk it's cool to have a new area, start from square 1 again. Barbosa was the image I had of what Colombia would be like but this area feels more like a generic city.

1. will I be recruited after my mission?
2. 120+
3. japanese, english, spanish, tagalog - don't know other 2

Miss you guys

Monday, April 10, 2017

Week Thirty

We had an open house in Tunja. Elder Crandell and I were out on the streets again trying to get people in. I had to get on my knees a few times but got a good amount in.

The next morning we went with the Tunja elders to Banco de la Republica- a library that used to be a bank that used to be a prison that used to be a monasterio. Very big and wooden. Old books that smelt good. There is a legend of a headless monk from the monasterio who haunted prisoners. A statue of the headless monk is on a balcony in the library.

We had cambios. I left Barbosa and Elder Guerra. I went to Elder Guerra's last area w his last comp lol. Suba- Bogota with Elder Ferada from Chile. I've only known him a couple hours but seems cool.

Said goodbyes in Barbosa. Really loved Barbosa. We met super cool people in the last couple weeks so I'm bummed I'm leaving now.

Also went to Togui, a tiny village with 4 rivers.

Also we got a call that Elder Zambrano was coming to the Babrosa house. Elder Zambrano is a senior missionary who checks missionary houses and destroys missionaries. We had a day to clean the house before he came. We cleaned like 6 hours and the house looked so good. He came the next morning. I was so sure he would be proud of our work. He managed to find every particle of dust in the house, every wrinkle. It was crazy. He took us into our study room and made us read every verse of scripture with the word "clean" and then explain them to him.

Me with a man named Joselito in a town called Togui.

woody the cowboy to haunt your dreams

me at la Zarsa in Boyaca


Diego teaching english- padawan becomes jedi

elder crandell

this soup destroyed me i went to the bathroom 80 times

Monday, April 3, 2017

Week Twenty Nine

week report

Mudslides? I have no idea I havent' heard anything.

This week I splurged on a Dove Beauty Bar ™ (this is NOT sponsored by Dove)

Crazy stuff-

Lady shouted at us MORMON MEANS ROAD TO HELL YOU BOTH ARE GOING TO HELL!!!! and Elder Guerra got pissed. They were shouting at each other for a bit.

Elder Guerra and I were talking about La Llorona. A legend from Mexico. A demon spirit woman who walks down rivers looking for her lost children. I heard about it in the Mexico MTC. Elder Guerra told me the way to summon her was to step in a river barefoot and say "aqui esta su hijo" (your child is here). So we decided to summon her because we were close to the river Suarez.

First we visited a less active named Mirian Peña and I asked her about La Llorona and she said tons of people have sighted her in Barbosa. La Llorona is very beautiful, long black hair, wears white (but Mirian Peñas' son saw her wearing a colorful dress).

So anyway, we walked down to the river. Half moon in the sky. It was dark. I took off my shoes and then Elder Guerra got stressed. He told me it was a commandment that we couldn't summon spirits. I asked him where it says that in the scriptures and we both got mad. I was tempted to still summon her but didn't. We left and then shared voodoo stories. Elder Guerra has good ones from Panama

But we have been going ham in Barbosa. We have 14 investigators with baptismal dates.

We helped move a house of the cousin of a member. Good easy move- not too much stuff. His mom had recently died and she left all her crosses.

For pday we went to Zarza Boyaca. 14km hike following a big waterfall. It was pretty. Look it up

Watched Conf - President Monson is old.

Learsi rof harruh

Elder Blair

Monday, March 27, 2017

Week Twenty Eight

week report

This week was taerg

One memory:

We were teaching a girl named Natalia and like 5 other people in her house. These 2 tiny dogs were going crazy. They knocked down a huge mirror off the wall and it shattered. Natalia stood up, saw what happened and LOST IT. she shouted IF YOU DONT WANT SEVEN YEARS OF BAD LUCK SWEEP UP THE MIRROR PIECES AND PUT THEM IN THE BATHTUB ASAP!!!! Then she rolled up a newspaper and smacked the dogs. They were still going crazy. This was all during a lesson. Elder Guerra and I were both like whoaaa everybody just settle down...

We have been working hard in Barbosa. Have 5 investigators w baptism dates. Things are looking good.

We had comp. exchanges with the elders from Tunja. I was with Elder Crandell (from Arizona). We went far into the jungle to find cool houses to contact. After a grueling hike we found a little farm. We contacted them

us: Hello excuse us. We are the missionaries here in Barbosa. Maybe you've seen us before?
them: No.
us: ahh. Well we have a message we'd like to share with you sometime. Or if you have time now?
them: Come by tomorrow at 11 am. You guys are Catholic right?
us: Alright, and no.. the Church of Jesus Christ.
them: Catholic?
us: Christian
them: Alright

yeah thats how a ton of contacts go.

On our way back we got way lost in the jungle, but we found these caves and filmed a crocodile hunter-esque video



Monday, March 20, 2017

Week Twenty Seven

week report

Hey guys i got the christmas card, you guys look so good.

First things first: getting SCARILY good at recorder. Thinking I might have to go pro.

This week was Santa Virgen Maria de Guadelupe. Crazy.

We met this dude Diego at the Babrosa library. Engineer learning English. Now every morning we go on hikes with him and practice English. It's dope, fresh and sweet.

He lives in front of a mountain. One morning we hiked up the mountain and then to a little farm village called "amarillo" -yellow. Then we hiked further to a village called Cite. We went inside a Catholic church and paid for a candle. It was electric- you dropped a coin in and the candle lit up. Then we hiked back to Barbosa through these tomato fields. It was emosewa.

That night me and Elder Guerra bought a watermelon and were walking home and saw two gringos sitting on the curb in front of our apartment. They motioned us over.

In broken Spanish they told us they needed a place to sleep. I heard French accent so I asked if they spoke French -oui. I told them I lived in Normandy- they were from Normandy. It was cray cray. They are two hippies making a documentary about nature villages or some burning man type stuff - one of them went to HS in Argentan. I almost pissed my pants. I called up Hermana Pardo from the Barbosa branch because they always have like 20 people at their house. She told me they could sleep there. I invited the Normands to hike with us and Diego the next morning.

The next morning we picked up the Normands then went for Diego. It was crazy we talked about Domfront, Caen, Rouen, La Mie Caline, juctice, la haine, jambon buerres, TOUT. We were hiking toward Velez and stopped at Tejo courts.

Tejo is a huge street sport in Colombia. It's like Petanques. You throw these
stones at wet clay and try to get these paper triangles to explode. IT'S SICKKKKK. We played that for awhile. It was weird speaking in French. At first it was hard because Spanish words kept coming out but then it got easy again and speaking Spanish was hard because French came out so I guess there's no glory on these dark roads.

The Normands - Baptiste and Morgan - could not understand all the missionary rules. They kept trying to get me to come out w them that night. "When are you gonna see two Normands again. This is your chance." It made me depressed.

And then Sunday we ate fish spaghetti with members which tasted good. Then an hour later me and my comp realized we both pretty much had gotten poisoned. It felt like a snake was wrapping around my intestines holy crap. We had a couple lessons anyway that we barely got through and then we went home at 8:30 that night. It was bad. I immediately crashed on the bed and then got up like 5 times to puke. I was scared I was gonna throw up all my insides.

But still dope week and next pday we are going to Villa Leyva - very old Colombian village with dinosaur bones.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Week Twenty Six

Week was good.

We drove around with Hermano Severro Pardo and his granddaughter Luciana (Lucianita) in his bumblebee covered Renault. We were looking for our friends Mariluz y Miguel (who I thought fled Santander, but Severro told me he spotted them on another side of Barbosa). The Renault started growling like a dinosaur and then stopped working.

Severro got out, banged some part of the engine, blew on some other part, got back in and back in business. Everyone calls him Severito Lindo. He has a fading cross tattoo on his shoulder.

Luciana is maybe 6 or 7 years old. She told me: "I can do black magic, white magic, red magic-all the colors." I told her you have to study magic for at least 20 years to learn all the colors. She told me, "Well, I know them all."

We found their house but they weren't home.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Week Twenty Five

Happy 18 Maude. Miss Maude a ton. Not many people have a heart as good as Maude's.

My new comp is Elder Guerra (War). He is from Panama. He's a blackbelt, a chef, and has a scar on the knuckle of his middle finger from an encounter with a sea urchin while surfing.

Barbosa is cool with him. He already made someone cry over the phone. A lot of bible bashing.

We saw a dude steal a motorcycle. It happened so fast and it was really loud. Mostly, I remember that he had a huge grin.

8 of our investigators came to Church. 5 were from Ana's family. I like visiting them. They always ask us to sing them hymns.

Weather change in Barbosa. There are huge downpours everyday now.

I saw a ton of bats flying around a lamp post.

Forgot to share this last week- We were about to have a district meeting. Two of the hermanas were really late. Then one of them finally walked in-- alone. She had abandoned her comp on the bus. Mission Pres had to come and there was a lot of crying.

Elder Guerra told me that there are foot long rats that swim between islands in Panama.

We made crepes because I'm true to my Normand past.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Week Twenty Four

week report

Pretty crazy that grandpa died a year ago already. Doesn't seem that long. It's kind of sad when somebody dies and you weren't really old enough to understand who they were.

Elder Manrique was in a sort of daze this whole week. He was super out of it and also really smiley. He would whisper to me "I'm here but I'm not here". A lot of this week was buying last minute souvenirs for his family and saying goodbyes. He left yesterday to Bogota.

Richard is the member who we spend almost everyday with. He leaves Barbosa to return to his home in Lima. It will be strange without him.

One of the main families for him to say goodbye to was Mariluz and Miguel. They have been key investigators this cambio, and also good friends. They came to church the first 3 weeks we knew them and always give us cold juice. So we went to their house (kind of out of the way on the other side of Rio Suarez) and there were chains wrapped around the door. We peeked inside a crack and all the furniture was gone. They had fled. We were both hit hard. Manrique was super emotional and thoughtful all day. He told me,

"I'm not just looking in front of me now. Now I'm looking at the man walking up the hill over there, I'm looking at the mountain, not just the stuff right in front of me."

He also said, "Main thing I learned on my mission is: who cares what anybody says."

One cool thing we did was visit Velez with Richard — or this village in the jungle right outside of Velez. Richard knew a friend there whose family owns a bocadillo factory. Really her family owns like all the jungle there so we walked through the jungle up to this lookout point where you could see like 12 different villages and all these fields and expanses of jungle for miles and miles. Really beautiful view. There was also a little school up in the jungle and all these kids were huddled together eating oranges.

We met a really nice family of a woman named Ana. All the kids always flip out whenever we come by. They ask us to sing hymns for them. They came to church.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Week Twenty Two

[ No letter this week, but Ralph messaged us instead. ]

We got a new branch pres

branch not closing

so a fourth of my mission is in barbosa

barbosa is the best

its crazy

we had a crazy service project

picking corn we used machetes and sharp sticks

and the first 15 minutes were awesome

and then all the gringos got destroyed by pollen

everyone was sneezing we all had to go

yeah so then me and elder lott would just load up a donkey with corn, lead it to a barn, unload, repeat

i felt connected to grapes of wrath

guys ive been thinking

get olive or oscar to find norwegians in oakland

learn norwegian

make norwegian friends

no bad could come from that

dude look up knausgaard

look at how cool norwegians are

scandinavia has literally found the way to live the most enriching life and nobody cares

yeah i think it would be cool if the family could get around in norwegian

lots of english classes this week

some get english and progress and others theres no hope

im bad with patience

but if they get it then im the best

i ask what the expressions are they say in spanish everyday

i teach them in english

and i tell them to say them everyday

but yeah in general i suck

we usually do personal lessons
or one family

we used to do classes w 5-10 people

but now no

elder crandell has been out
5 weeks
from Arizona

im with him for intercambios

we get more work done because hes not trunky

spanish is awesome

literally you guys could learn and be at same level of french in 3 months

Spanish is way easier than french

i need to practice french though

i bought a french dictionary but have already found like 10 errors so i dont trust it

I have a barbosa accent

For exercise, I do pushups or jumprope

did you want to marry an exmissionary mom?

was byu a fun school?

everyone here is going to byu

everyone has the same plan

if your not going to byu and studying business whats the matter with you

mormonism is crazy

i realized in a branch council meeting

no one is thinking about the book of mormon in here

no one is thinking about js

its their whole life

mormonism never was the book of mormon

its an organism

nobody thinks about js on sunday

nobody thinks about jesus

they talk with their friends

everyone has to get married

because jesus was in america

but not really im sure everyone will have a happy family

its pretty cool getting latinos a way into the states

today ive been out 5 months

Monday, February 6, 2017

Week Twenty One

Week Report

We did a ton of stuff this week.

We had intercambios. I got to be Elder Crandells comp for the day. He is from Arizona, came to the mission 3 weeks ago.

We contacted a ton of people. Two drunk dudes chopping wood called us over. We talked with them and asked if we could chop and they gave us sledgehammers.

We helped a girl move houses in Tunja. We had 15min to pack up all her stuff (she didn't have 1 thing packed) but we got it done. She didn't have too much stuff.

We visited the Mayorga family with Richard (this crazy Peruvian member). I really like them. I visited them my second day in the mission and it was their first visit with missionaries so I've been with them since the beginning. The daughter Juliet was cutting an orange and cut her finger. Richard was telling everyone that every time he bled, he sucked up all the blood.

Later in the visit, we asked the Mom (Maria) if she had any questions. She asked us with dead eyes "do you guys believe in witches? Black magic? I believe my husband is under the influence of a witch. There are many witches in these parts." Richard immediately responded, "Yes witches are a real problem. Dark spirits can ruin your life."

They also told us about "Guausa Santander Cueva San Loirenzo." Look it up.

We had an Open House. 6 missionaries from Tunja came to help. We had members and sister missionaries inside with displays of different books and stuff. I was out on the street with Elder Crandell. We got 45 people in.

We also found an address for some member in Chiquinquira in our house. No missionaries have been to Chiquinquira for like 20 years. There used to be a branch but bad stuff was going on so they shut it down. We went to assess the sitch. We found the address and visited the dude Martin Cortez. He gave us feijoa fruit. Chiquinquira is cold and really spread out. Lots more to unpack.

Elder Blair

Monday, January 30, 2017

Week Twenty

Every week I look in my inbox and all I see is trump trump trump.

We had a zone meeting where we watched announcements relating to the LDS missionary effort. The daily schedule for missionaries changed which was pretty big news. Planning in morning instead of night, stuff like that. The key indicators we report also changed. They are making new Preach My Gospels and planners. A lot of change.

There is a growing tension in the Barbosa branch- because of the threat of closing. We find out if they are shutting down the branch on Feb 12. We had a branch council and it was so out of hand. Everyone was complaining to president for about an hour. Then he finally stood up and said, "I am so tired,” and roasted everyone. Elder Manrique and I are feeling pressure to do anything we can.

We got a packet with all the info of the members of the branch. This week we have been searching down different addresses. There are tons of less actives in Barbosa. Many times the address leads us to a pile of rocks.

Most of the mission is just walking, and a lot of times you forget where you’re going or get lost in deep thought, but somehow you still arrive. You’re not really consuming the environment you’re just absorbing it.

The other half of the mission seems to be opening your mouth. And its kind of the hardest part. The default is everybody waiting for someone else to do the dirty work (move from small talk to the lesson, contact passerbys, offer the prayer, invite to church), and pretty much I’m starting to realize that that’s what it is, opening your mouth, getting s done. And it’s not hard, it’s just not the default.

Yeah, I really like our investigators. I really like the Branch.

Barbosa is a town with deep roots; you meet really old people who have never been anywhere else. Beating heat, soda, packs of dogs, packs of kids, 3 million motorbikes, and 100 year old cowboy veterans. Barbosa makes me believe in ghosts. I don’t think it will ever change.

and thus it is written

with love,
Elder Blair

Monday, January 16, 2017

Week Eighteen

Week report

We had to go to Duitama this week for Zone conf and interviews with President. We stayed with the elders in Tunja on the way. All 4 of us were knocking doors and contacting that night, in the highest hills of Tunja. We knocked on one door and met a girl named Diana. I was talking to her about Princess Diana. Anyways when we left I said ¨ciao princessa Diana¨ and now all the missionaries say ¨ciao princessa¨. There is no glory...

One of our friends in Barbosa is Marisol- a Venezuelan lady. She is a hardcore adventista and she shared her testimony with us. In the eighties, in Venezuela, at age 16, she encountered an old hippy character. He could pick the very thoughts from her mind like apples off a tree. ¨

¨Are you a Witch Doctor?¨

No, I am not...

And the hippy disappeared. Marisol returned home to find the hippy man waiting there with her blind aunt. He put honey on her eyes and the aunt was healed.

Who are you? She asked

Do you really want to know? I am Jonah.

He prophecied to her that she would have a boy at age 20, and that she must join the chruch of his father. The prophecy came true and the fathers church was the Adventista. Later in life, Marisol saw visions of the hippy man in dreams, would see him in passing...a spirit, a ghost?


We were eating lunch with the Ruiz family this week,

Manrique asked the son- Mateo Ruiz (maybe 15) what his plans were for 2017.

He said: go inactive in the church to see if you guys are good enough to get me back again

I was cuddling a kitten during an fhe and my eye got infected becuase it was a city cat. my eye puffed up so I made an eye patch. The crazy thing was that earlier that day, I was thinking about how I wanted an eyepatch but wasnt willing to lose an eye. Tender mercies of god

and thus it is written

Monday, January 9, 2017

Week Seventeen

Week Report

This week was something.

Barbosa is a city on the slope of a large Valley. There is a river at the bottom of the valley that divides two Colombian states: Boyaca and Santander. I think I've said it before, but the river is great. It's covered in jungle, the sun's always reflecting off of it. Blessed are the eyes that watch it. Anyway, Barbosa is in Santander. Manrique and I spotted houses on the other side of the river that we hadn't seen. We crossed the bridge to scope it out. Immediately, we saw a small wood shack, and a little boy sitting in front listening to regaton on a radio (loud to the point of bass distortion). We introduced ourselves, and asked if his parents were home. His mom was. Her name is Maria; she has pink hair. 75% of our investigators are named Maria. Her 22 year old son died 5 months ago. He went off one day with a friend or an uncle. 5 days later, they found his body in that beautiful, unforgiving river. She was crying. We gave her an abbreviated version of the message, told her it will be alright, and moved to the next house.

The next house belonged to Mariluz and Miguel. A couple in their 40s(?). Mariluz saw us walking by, and immediately told us to sit with them. Mariluz was a talker, I think Miguel was high. He just smiled at everything. We discussed missionaries and los mormones. But all Mariluz wanted to talk to us about was this Metaphysics book she's been reading that I guess has become the frame of her whole worldview. It's by this Venezuelan. She was telling us about how some man from another planet reincarnated himself in Joseph so he could talk to Jesus or something. I asked her if I could borrow the book, but Manrique reminded me we can't read. Miguel had a nice black poncho and I told him so. Then Mariluz comes out with 3 ponchos and gives them to us. What a heart. We gave her a BOM, and departed into pouring rain, but all was good because now we had ponchos.

I also forgot a story that happened last week. We were  going to visit Osman (who was baptized by Elder Porras in December). He wasn't home. We were waiting for him outside his house (which sits on a hill, on the corner of a 4 way intersection). Suddenly, a man in red comes bolting down the hill. We thought nothing of it. 5 seconds later 6 cops come sprinting in from another side of the intersection (WHERED HE GO, DID YOU SEE? LEFT LEFT! NO HE WENT UP! STRAIGHT!) 5 cops kept running straight, one cop went up, noone went down. Me, Manrique, and a neighbor fellow all smirked. No ones getting caught today...


I had companion exchanges with the Bolivian, Rastafarian son of a gun Elder Arteaga. I realized I forgot the keys to our apartment on my bed that morning. We went to find a cerrajero. We found one guy who wasn't available, sent us to another guy, who wasn't open. We didn't know what to do. We went inside a bakery. We asked the owner if he knew any locksmiths.

Have you checked here?




Hmm. Well there is one man. He does it on the side. El Chacon.

El Chacon?

El Chacon. He can get any door open in Barbosa.

We got some vague directions and set out to find him. We asked inside a few shops.

Is El Chacon here?

No, further down...

Is El Chacon here?

No, by the clockshop...

Is El Chacon here?

Next door.

And next door was a tiny little shop, with a little man sitting in the shadows toward the back, working away on some unidentifiable something. 

Are you El Chacon?

I am El Chacon.

I locked my keys in my house. Can you get the door open?

El Chacon took out a big metal stick, we all walked to our apartment. He stuck the stick into a crease in the door and Hallelujah. Then El Chacon ran off, back into the shadows.


Edwin compartió 


Another day, Manrique and I were walking around the bottom stretches of Barbosa, the dangerous part of town. We saw a lady and her kids heating huge (palm tree?) leaves over a fire for tamales. Then we heard commotion, and saw 2 fellows killing pigs with blow torches and then knifing off the joints, to sell to butchers. All the neighborhood kids were watching.

There is an ex-missionary named Richard, who served in Barbosa 10 years ago, and he's back in town. Richard is a 4 10¨ Peruvian firecracker who talks 100 miles an hour. He's really fun to go to lessons with. He's always planning something with us.

Guys, do you know what we have to do? We gotta make a huge BOM out of cardboard, put it up downtown, meet a MOUNTAIN of people (he always says "mountain of__").

Guys, we have to have a night of pancakes, invite everyone, we´ll watch movies...

Guys we NEED to invite Doris for a Chicken party. There will be chicken, soda, Ill buy...

He's a crazy one.


With Richard, we met a kid on the road named Alejandro.

Alejandro kind of looks like a human snake. He has 6 cellphones and says

"I've been to every church in Barbosa but yours."

He was asking us if we wanted to play basketball one of these days. We said sure, maybe tomorrow. No official plans made.

The next day, we were walking to our apartment and saw Alejandro waiting outside.

"I've been waiting for an hour."

"Alejandro, hey man, how's it going?"

"I thought we made plans..."

We had to go to another appointment so we told him sorry, maybe another day.
It was strange, now we think Alejandro is gonna go Robert De Niro Taxi Driver on us.

We run in to him everyday in different edges of Barbosa.

to be continued...


Anyway, the week was packed to the brim.

Not to mention playing Monopoly with this 12 year old named Santiago who would shout OH BABY at the top of his lungs in a thick Colombian accent anytime anything ever happened to him in the game.

I also combined pineapple juice with Colombiana soda. The drink is called Paradise now.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Week Sixteen

week report:

New Years

Here, everyone parties until like 7 the next morning. Me and Manrique bought a pineapple and I chopped it with my machete. New tradition.

Yeah this week me and Manrique just went ham in Barbosa. Taught a ton of lessons.

We taught Rolan. He's maybe late 60s. Always wears deep v necks. We taught him about repentance. he looked at me dead and said "we're all sinners."

There was a random parade of about 250 cowboys riding horseback through Barbosa. Some rode with radios and had music playing.
One saluted me.

We taught this blind lady and her blind husband. She told us it was really hard to do laundry and not mix colors. Elder Manrique accidentally left a muddy footprint on the floor, but of course, they couldn't see so he tried to clean it up without them hearing. It was funny.

We contacted a hitchhiker. He's 19 and has been on the road 5 years. He is from Medellin. He took 2 long blades of thick tall grass and made grasshopper sculptures out of them

We bought a ton of oil and Elder Manrique made Milanesa. So good holy.