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?

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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...

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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?

Yes.

Here?

Yes.

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.

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Edwin comparti√≥ 

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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.

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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...

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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.