Colombia Bogota North Mission

Saturday, June 21, 2014

CCM Week 4

Ok so not much has happened in the last few days but Ill throw in some fun details. The world cup started and the people here are craazy for soccer. We were having personal study when a goal was scored and we heard screaming all around us that was really loud but sounded far away. The whole city was yelling goal it was awesome. By hearing the streets we knew that colombia scored twice (two huge happy screams) and the other team scored once (less loud sad scream). It was hilarious. On sunday I had my favorite meal here so far. Fruit loops with cold milk!!! I hadn't had cold milk in a month it's normally room temperature. Also on sunday I gave a talk in sacrament. Over five minutes and in spanish so I'm basically fluent. Before all of the latinos left we traded ties and I got two sweet new ones after making 4 trades. The stakes were high but I do well under pressure. Yesterday was my last day in white person classes and tomorrow I get a latino companion which will be sweet! I'm 90% sure we're going to be best friends. Spanish is still hard but I'm starting to get a lot more comfortable with more of the tenses so I can actually say things sometimes. The way I see it is why get discouraged when you can have fun so I just try to have fun whenever spanish is destroying me. Over the last two weeks I've loved reading the scriptures way more than in the past. I don't know if I like them so much more because by comparison they are awesome because learning grammer is so boring but I like to think I'm more spiritual. Today we went on a tour for P day and we took a cable car up on of the mountains outside bogota and it was awesome. There was a crazy view and a cool church at the top. I'll send pictures instead of explaining more but it was super cool and after we went to a gold museum which was kind of cool. Ancient americans are really bad at recreating people all of their gold figurines look ridiculous. Today was also cool because we wore jeans. Ok so I almost forgot to tell you about my super cool talent. before classes if the teachers are late we practice throwing pins (like push pins for sticking things in corkboard) into cork board and I can get them to stick about 1/3 of the time. 

 I love and miss you guys and I'm praying fo you guys. Tell Devin to stop being a butt and write me I'm the only brother he's ever gonna have. 

Love Elder Downing

Welcome to my crib
Elder Alvarez (from Brasil) Presler and Jorgensen (both from Utah, Jorg is my comp)
My teachers Hermanos Barrios and Pita. I love those guys they're the best. They are so fun and teach me a ton.

We study a lot in the CCM

Breaking free even though the security guard (my homie Hermano Mayorgia) was right there

White people of the CCM


latino friends

ball so hard


Pday exploring

Bogota Colombia

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

CCM Week 3

So the last 10 days have been similar most of the time with one huge difference. We got three new north american guys. Elder tenney who i met at school and swam in our pool once since he is the tenneys cousin, Elder Jones who I also knew up at school kinda and Elder Winchester. They are all super cool and funny and so our district is a blast. We also have two brazillians, one guy and one girl, and the guy Elder Soares is in my room and hes great too. I havent really talked about them, but my teachers here are so awesome. Hermano barrios and Pita. They are crazy hilarious and great teahcers. I love them so much. I hope I come back for a conference in the future (we had one last week with the Bogota missionaries) so I can actually talk to them. The new latinos were super hard to understand at first, and now we have 60 misionaries total which is almost twice as much as the last two weeks. The latinos are super hard to understand. There are some that I can never understand no matter what they say but Ive gotten a lot better at understanding them and they talk slower for us white people now too which helps. I guess the CCM President said not to let us speak english because they are like police. Any time we speak english they immediately say "no Ingles!" and even when we are studying silently theyll do the same thing its actually really funny. But its good because we practice a lot more than the last two weeks (24/7). All of the native speakers including my teachers call me "Elder Dowing" and Im starting to really like it. I get a little sad whenever white people say it correctly. I wish everyone at home could see me here and everything that happens because letters convey so little. One really cool experience is everyday after lunch we teach the security guard english pronunciation so he can move forward in school. He actually is improving really well so its awesome. I saw evan starr on tv! We watched a devotional by Elder Holland and he asked the missionaries in the audience questions and evan answered perfectly and it was awesome to see my friend in the white person mtc and see that hes doing well. Elder Holland said he deserved a cookie and a golen star on his forehead for how good his answer was. pretty cool. Me and my companion found a trick to make the time go by faster. These were our thoughts on sunday "tomorrow is monday which means the next day is tuesday and on tuesday we have the temple devotional for going to the temple on wednesday and after wednesday its only one day until P day!" and it works pretty well actually haha. Another random update is I can roll my Rs now! Not while Im speaking which I need to work on but there is hope. Another random update, latina girls are starting to look cuter and cuter. I dont know if the latina girls here are cuter than in the states but a lot of the hermanas are pretty. Its because they have the light of Christ in their eyes or because Im cut off from women or both, I dont know. Ok so the big update is I went proselyting! not sure if I spelled that right but I did it. Me and my companion who speaks barely any spanish and I went out on the streets by ourselves. Two white guys who cant understand anything loose in the streets of colombia unsupervised. chevere. I heard that other american companionships in the past had gone out with a teacher but our first hour and a half was solo. We asked which way we should walk and then left the ccm. Also I should add they never taught us how to street contact. But it was great! super hard because we could barely understand anything but it was really good. We walked a few minutes to the a main street while we were building our confidence and then while we were waiting to cross we saw an older guy at the bus stop across the street and I knew he would be my first real experience with missionary work. We crossed and started talking to him and he was super receptive and interested. We told him some things and he asked if our church had any literature (crazy right) so we taught him a little about the book of mormon and gave him one and got his info so he could be taught later. It was so cool!!! I know God prepared him for us and it was a huge blessing to have that be the start of our three hours of proselyting because there was a lot of discouraging things tha happened too but we kept our heads up pretty easily. We had a lot of other really cool experiences after that too and in 3 hours got 21 contacts! (9 were with a teacher which made it way easier because he could speak) I know we didnt deserve that much success but when you do your best the Lord really does take care of you, that day was a testament of that for sure. It was awesome to be able to walk the streets and explore what was around us (we got lost for 20 minutes haha) we walked through parks, by freeways, shops, other churches, streets of houses guarded with assault rifles, and a bunch more. It such a vibrant and different city, and I only saw a small part of it. I can only write a little about the experience but imagine two white guys who dont speak spanish talking to as many people as they can and then not understanding what they say and that was what happened. It was crazy hard. The rest of the week has been the normal studying and practicing. Its hard to feel like Im improving a lot because its so gradual but I know I am. Its too bad people outside arent as easy to understand as the slow dumbed down spanish we get here. All in all Im really happy here and doing well. My testimony and knowledge of the gospel has grown a ton since Ive been here and its been one of the best experiences. I know its true and I hope I can help the people know for themselves. Take care of the united states for me while Im away,


Elder Downing

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Week 2

Alright so its only been four days but Ill put some details about the ccm in this email. It is surrounded by gates and there is a security guard in a booth all the time watching the different cameras around the building. But thats not bad compared to some houses that have fences twice as high with barbed wire at the top. They must not like guests or something. The food here is pretty good. Its never great but its always edible except for the soup that tastes like grass I hate that stuff. But I always eat all of my food 1 to practice and develop a taste for colombian food and 2 to get swoll. The first few days I had a super hard time eating everything because I was stuffed but now I have no problem so hopefully I get bigger than Devin so I can beat him in wrestling. Today all of the native spanish speakers left so its just me and Elder Jorgensen, Preslar, and Alvarez from Brazil. And Hermana Capito but shes a girl. At first I had a hard time having a companion but now its really good. Its like being a sidekick. But seriously me and Elder Jorgenson are good friends now and we make a pretty good team even though he speaks and understands little spanish. In our last investigator lesson we had to teach a returned missionary who hadnt been to church in over a year and started drinking and smoking. But suprisingly it went well even though it was a super hard situation and Elder Jorgensen did really well. Tonight we get three more north american elders one of which I think I know (Stephen Tenney) and then a bunch of latinos tomorrow. Well have close to 60 missionaries for the next two weeks while last time we had 36. Ive started to really lilke being here now. I feel the spirit so strongly and Ive learned so much about the gospel. Sometimes its hard and it can be boring in class but I try to remind myself that I have to prepare for the people of colombia and Im not here for myself. I guess Im less selfish now. Okay Im going to spend two minutes to try and find out how to use commas hold on...woohoo I did it!''''''''' These keyboards are super freaky. Alright so an update on my language skills. I can understand pretty well if the person is talking slowly and I can say a decent amount of things but speaking is wayyyyy harder than comprehending. A lot of the time I just guess with the conjugations and hope for the best haha. My only problem the last few days is that I've gotten bored. Classes on grammer and computer programs to practice concepts aren't as fun as you would think. Gym is super fun because we play volleyball but I have to figure out how to make the time go faster in classes. Especially when we are learning something easy which has been pretty much every lesson so far. I know I should feel blessed that I already know the concepts we are doing but I'm still hoping we move on to more difficult things soon so I can understand when my investigators are talking to me. All is good in the CCM. Four more weeks and I'm out in the field! (That's really exciting and scary).


Elder Downing

Derek and his companion Elder Jorgensen

renovations at the CCM