Colombia Bogota North Mission

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Giron Week 18

Ok so first let me start with my companion. He’s super chill and relaxed, but he’s not boring. He’s funny too but he’s not crazy like Elder Torres. And he’s really organized. I don’t think we’ll have any conflicts. There’s been a huge difference in the last week. During my training, I was more like a shadow than a missionary (mostly my fault). A shadow that doesn’t speak Spanish well. But now that Elder Torres left and Elder Carballo doesn’t know anyone or where anything is, I’ve been taking the lead in everything. Like I think I’m ready to be assistant to the President. But for real I’ve been working super hard and now I’m a real missionary who doesn’t speak Spanish well. It’s been really rewarding and really difficult and stressful. I have been praying a lot for the Lord’s help and that I can be capable of continuing the work in my area, and I’ve seen that the promise in Ether 12:27 is true “And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.” Honestly, in one night I’ve seen many of my weaknesses become strengths, and I know that the Lord is supporting me. It’s even easier to see the Lord’s hand in the lives of our investigators. One of our investigators Viky (isn’t baptized yet because she lives with her member boyfriend) accompanied us in a lesson and helped us teach. She’s like a completely different person now. Her scriptures are more marked than mine. She has wedding and baptism plans for after I leave though *tear*. We’re working on getting the papers for Lizet and Rubiero so they can get married too. And Nelson and Wendy. We’re trying to marry everyone out here. Something cool about this week is we don’t have a cell phone. It got sent to Bogota with the group of missionaries. We have to make all of our calls at roadside stands which made things even harder but the worst part is that it’s expensive. All my money has gone towards phone calls and transportation (on Monday I took 8 taxis) so I’m probably going to run out of money and get skinny. Just kidding I’m already skinny. Also kidding because I have a reserve fund. I have  problem much bigger than not having a cell phone or money (relax mom, I have a reserve fund), and it’s called language study. I’m not very happy with my Spanish, I feel like it should be better, and so I’m trying to study hard every day for an hour. Language study always makes me super tired. Lunch always makes me super tired too. Aaannnd  now we’ve been told we have to do language study after lunch, instead of in the morning. So now it’s more of a battle against my eyelids. But we’ll see how things go. Some interesting things, I watch my companion while I’m sleeping. Because of the angle of my bed and because I sleep with my eyes open I keep 24 hour surveillance on that boy. Maybe, if I angle my books right, I can study Spanish in my sleep. I’d like to dedicate this next part of my letter to my mom. Hey mom. Every week my mom says to follow all the rules so the Lord will protect me. Relax mom, I’m find I can take care of myself. I don’t need rules to be safe here, Colombia is known for its safety. Don’t worry, we follow the rules still though, so we can have baptisms and convert everyone. To close I would like to share a scripture. Genesis 9: 20-25 is super funny. After the whole are and flood thing, Noah decides to grow a vineyard. One day he gets drunk and passes out naked then he wakes up and curses his son. The Bible is awesome guys, you should read it more. And the Book of Mormon. One part of the Book of Mormon that I really like is when Alma is giving advice to his sons. In chapter 36:1,30 chapter 37:13 chapter 38:1 he teaches “inasmuch as ye shall keep the commandments of God, ye shall prosper in the land”. I love these scriptures because we are teaching a lot of people with a lot of problems, and Alma makes it so clear, if we keep the commandments, we’ll prosper. It’s not just “you’ll be ok” or “you’ll be fine”. Alma is really wise, it’s like he’s a prophet or something. Well, I’m gonna go make some hot dogs. Stay tuned till next time.

Love Elder Downing

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Giron Week 17

Cambios! Which means transfers! Actually it means changes, but I think in English they call them transfers. My assignment is....drum roll.... the same! I'm staying in Giron for another 6 weeks and after that I'll likely get kicked out. My trainer, Elder Torres, went to Bogotà this morning to go be a zone leader or something. My new companion (hasn't arrived yet) is Elder Carballo from Bolivia. I hear he's really short, cool, and pretty relaxed. So basically everything you could ask for in a companion. He has been working in the mission office as a secretary, so he's probably gonna be super stoked to baptize everybody. He probably also has glasses, because I'm pretty sure that's a requirement to be a secretary. To be honest, I'm a little unsure about carrying on the burden of the area, being that I'm still learning how to speak Spanish, but then I remind myself that I can rely on that Lord and then I'm like wow this is too easy. I'm glad to be staying in Giron though, because there are a lot of people that I still haven't baptized. But really, I have some awesome investigators there and they are progressing super well. And if I stay, I don't have to learn my way around a new area. But mostly, it's that seeing those people progress in the gospel and change their lives makes me really happy, I hope that when I have to leave, everyone is either baptized, or not progressing, because then it'll be super easy to go. Just kidding kind of. Lizet and Rubiero changed their minds again and said they wanted to get married, and I think it's for sure this time (probably). The same with Nelson and Wendy (they have very American names). The big difficulty is still marriage here. And from what I hear, all South American missions. It's super cool though that we have an in with the government. We keep the kiosks for the mission in the top story of the government building that does all legal documents and marriages. The guy in charge there is LDS as well as basically everyone else (don't tell anyone but we are taking over the government here). One funny story about doing kiosks to close- there was a homeless guy who makes a perfect meowing cat in distress noise. He would point up in the trees after making the sound and the people walking by would stop and look for the cat stuck in the tree. It was super funny. The church is true!

Love Elder Downing

Giron Week 16

So this week we preached the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. In the beginning of the week we had a ton of progress. July committed to be baptized on Saturday, Lizet and Rubiero decided to get married, and Anna (mom of two kids) said she wanted to keep coming to church because she wants her family to have the gospel. On Monday we went to visit July and Mai (her six year old daughter) was laying on the couch shaking and moaning because she was sick. We gave her a blessing (blessings are hard because you have to use a different verb tense and vocab that I still don’t know), and after the blessing she was walking around perfectly fine. It was a super awesome experience. The power of the priesthood is real. The next day, she was running around outside too. When Lizet and Rubiero said they wanted to be married and keep the commandments, we were like “alright we’ll call our people.” The church basically controls the government building that handles documents. We called up our boys and they sent a special request for us to get their papers taken care of. So basically I’m like a cartel boss but instead of pulling government strings to break the law, I pull government strings to keep the laws of God. So the start of the week was super good, but…. Everything fell this weekend. July chose not to get baptized because her boyfriend said she shouldn’t, Lizet and Rubiero are fighting over financial problems (big ones) and didn’t come to church because they were fighting (marriage plans halted), and Anna didn’t go to church either (oh I forgot to say July didn’t go).  Sooo,… no we’re farther behind than we were a week ago and we had 6 less investigators at church. I know that this is where I need to be, and that I’m doing the Lord’s work, so I’m not getting discouraged or anything. I think I’m going to trade my companion for a new one next week though and see if that helps (next week I get a new Latino). Last  P-day we raced go karts in our district (the zone leaders are in my district) and it was super funny because my companions tie got stuck in the chain and it was pulling him into the motor and destroyed his tie. Super funny. Also we ate super bomb pizza. This p-day all we did was clean though (woohoo). We no longer have maggots on the floor though so that’s good (it was really dirty). Shout out to anyone who is still reading my letters (not Lacey), I’ll try and have something crazy happen next week to keep things interesting.

Love Elder Downing

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Giron Week 15

We had a super good week this week. A lot of progress in a lot of people so we’re pretty stoked. We had 8 investigators attend church which is a record for me! (In my ten weeks of experience) and it was super awesome but we had a little problem. We couldn’t be with all of our investigators at once, and there were times when they were just sitting by themselves. No one from the ward really talked to them so I don’t know how welcome they felt. The story of meeting Anna though was super cool. We got a reference from a member in another ward and went to the house because the phone number didn’t work, and we rang the bell and five seconds later she comes up the sidewalk “oh I had the feeling you would be here, so I left work”. She listens to the promptings of the spirit and so we’re probably going to baptize her. Also Lizet (young couple) had a vision about the Book of Mormon. She had a dream where she received the answer that it’s the word of God (like Viky did). We’re probably going to baptize her and her husband I think. Also, July went to church again, and she committed to live the law of tithing. We’re still working to increase her faith in the Sabbath and not working on Sunday, but I think we’re going to baptize her. Not everyone progressed though. We’re teaching a young pregnant girl who lives with an inactive member who we’re reactivating as well. They fight a lot and so to try and bring a positive mood before talking about marriage my companion asked the guy to say 2 nice things about his girlfriend. He said he couldn’t think of anything. After trying multiple times, he still wouldn’t say even one nice thing. Soooo they have a long way to come. A lot of people have been asking me about Shakira. Obviously, there isn’t anything between us because I am dedicated to the Lord, but she did say she’ll wait for me. News from this week is that I saw two white guys in the same day! I think I’ve seen five total. One of the two walked by with his Colombian girlfriend while we were doing kiosks (standing in the street) and he was like “how’s in goin buddy? “as he walked by. It was weird. I’m doing pretty decently at understanding, instead of getting destroyed I’m just getting beat up. Now it’s more like getting hit by a Honda civic instead of a semi-truck. I’m pretty adjusted to the food now too. I’m liking the raw onion salads now, but juice made with blended orange and lemon peel is still an experience. It’s weird that everyone is starting school again because here the school year starts in February and ends in November. Hope everyone’s doing well! Let me know if there’s anything you want to hear more about. Yes I’m still skinny (my testimony is still way jacked now though).

Love Elder Downing

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Giron Week 14

Week 9 of training was pretty solid. We were supposed to have a baptism last Saturday but that fell through (probably permanently) at the start of last week, but the good news is that we just set two new baptism dates with two young families. I’m pretty sure there’s a saying about situations like this. Something like “a bird in the hand is better than two in the bush”. Actually though, I wouldn’t even want a bird in my hand. Here there are a ton of fat nasty vultures everywhere and I definitely would rather have them in the bushes than touch them. This week we worked a lot with July. Her problem has been “keep the Sabbath day holy” because she’s trying to support her 3 young daughters. This week we had a super bomb lesson about the Sabbath and the spirit was at level 10 for sure. We read 3 Nephi 13: 31-33 (so bomb) and we bore our testimonies about trusting in the Lord at the end and everybody was crying (except me). July, my companion and the catholic mom cried and I was trying to cry but I’m so manly it’s hard for me. The spirit was so strong though it was crazy. And on Sunday *drum roll* she went to church! *stage rises out of the ground and Queen is performing “We are the Champions”* *Jets fly overhead doing aerial formations but they’re actually transformers and they transform and land next to the stage and start shooting fireworks into the air out of their cannons* But also she said if she has the chance to work Sundays she’ll take it *decepticons charge in and break the stage and start fighting the other transformers* So we’re working with her to increase her faith to keep that commandment. But besides that she’s doing super well. To sum up the difficulty with everyone else – marriage. Well some investigators are married but they live with different people and not their spouses, so they have to get divorced and married which is way more difficult. The food this week has been pretty good. Especially the food we buy on the street. Empanadas and papas are so deliciously delicious. An empanada is a ball of meat, rice, and egg (there are other types but that type is the best) covered in dough and fried. Papas are similar but instead of covering it in dough they cover it in mashed potatoes. The bread from the bakeries is super bomb too. There are little bakeries all over. Something funny this week is that my companion is practicing words that sound like swear words so that he doesn’t accidentally swear. So he’s been accidentally swearing all week and it’s hilarious. Also, I found out that his eyelashes are so long because his mom cut them when he was a kid (I think just once). Also, when it was raining we got drenched by buses driving by and spraying us with the water puddled in the streets. It makes me laugh because of how cliché it is. Thanks everyone who hasn’t forgotten me yet, especially the ones who send pictures. Hope you’re all safe (heard there was an earthquake in CA)

Love Elder Dāonin

Break away turtle that stopped traffic. Super funny to me I hope you think so too.

Giron Week 13

Last week we preached the gospel. Like super hard. We had a really good week though. We've sifted through a handful of new investigators and two young couples are progressing a lot in little time and I'm ready to go swimming. Nelson is inactive but we started meeting with him and his pregnant 17 year old girlfriend and he came they came to church  this Sunday and are really excited to have the gospel in their life again. He was like "I want Wendy to be baptized and I want to raise my son in the church because I know that's what our family needs" and I was about to do a backflip because I was so stoked but then I remembered they have to get married first and so I just did a 360, but I am still stoked about them actually. July quit her job and can come to church now. Her daughters are super funny and the oldest one (6) made me a picture, which in kid language means homies for life. So yeah I'm pretty stoked about that too. Life is awesome. If you guys are ever sad you should just decide to be stoked because that's what I do and it's way more fun. Personal update, I'm doing fantastic health wise. And my nails are the nicest they've ever been. A lot of people overlook nail care but not me anymore. Speaking of girly things that guys should do too, purses are so awesome. I have a "shoulder bag" and it's super manly and I look awesome in it but I'm not gonna lie, it's a purse. It's so convenient though I can take everything with me wherever I go and it's right at my hip. Guys, women have been holding out on us, you've got to try these. The food has been pretty basic this week (I ate some rice) but the juice has been a little rowdy. Two different times I had juice that was made by blending the whole fruit including the peel. Orange peel juice is something else man. Well I have twenty minutes to read and respond to mail so I'm cuttin it short. Love you guys!
Elder Downing