Colombia Bogota North Mission

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Cucuta Week 25

Happy thanksgiving. My last first thanksgiving in the mission, wow I´m almost finished. No one celebrates thanksgiving here, so to be honest I´m not too stoked for it, I´m probably just gonna buy a pony malta to celebrate (it's a type of soda that isn´t really like soda but kind of). I usually buy pony malta to celebrate events, but some times I just buy it on normal days and so I´m not really sure if it still counts as celebrating, but it´s an excuse to buy pony malta so that´s my holiday plan.

First things first, we have to address the important news. There´s an iphone 6?? Before the mission I wondered what iphone number they would be on when I came home. It's weird that it's already come out though. I don't think I'm gonna buy it though, I'm holdin out for the iphone 8, I hear it will have a hologram feature. Here in the mission we use a type of technology called books, it's pretty cool. Now over to Elderek with investigator news (newscaster voice)

We have the coolest investigator ever, Mateo. He´s 8. His Mom Viviana is super cool too. They have four church attendances in a row and are super awesome. Viviana smoked for 8 years but she is totally quitting right now. After we taught the word of wisdom she went four days without smoking, and relapsed, but then felt super sick for smoking. She's gonna kick that addiction in no time. Her dad flipped out because he's really antimormon but mateo totally stood up for his mom and was like "no grandpa I want to go to church, I´m going". Suit that boy up to join the sons of Helaman! He´s hilarious. But yeah, they have had a lot of adversities lately but they are still moving forward!

Adrian is an investigator too (his family is inactive) and his friend fernando is always with him so talking about adrian is basically talking about both of them. Adrian really wants to do whats right and help his family, he's a great kid. Fernando basically lives (or literally I'm not sure) with Adrian and he's super funny. They've attended church but the family hasn't so we're working to help them out.

Health report: I might have gotten chinkunguña last week. It´s a virus, the name comes from Africa and means "doubled over in pain". Everyone has it here. One day I counted and six out of the 7 families that we visited had at least one infected family member. But my case was super short and I didn't have all the symptoms so I might not have had it, we'll see if I get it in the future. So I have been a little sick the last two weeks with a few illnesses but it's all good, it's just my body. Staying healthy in this area is a challenge but I'm trying and I know the Lord is protecting me too (that´s why my case of chinkunguña was soft)

I'm so grateful for this gospel and for the opportunity to serve the people here and share it with them. We often forget that all that we have comes from God, from the ground we walk on to the bread on our tables. I hope we can all remember that and thank Him with our thoughts and actions! Im so thankful for all of you! (especially Kelly Orme who delivered my package to Bogotá, you are the best!).

Love Elder Downing

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Cucuta Week 24

Ok so first of all, to those that have been writing me, I´m so sorry that I haven´t been able to write you back yet! But don't worry I am repenting. My area is Caobos 3 in Cucuta which means nothing to you guys but it's a super cool area! It´s way close to Venezuela (I saw Venezuela on Saturday in our zone leaders area [it wasn´t exchanges it was a stake activity] so that was cool [we were on a really high hill]). I´ve been told that Venezuela has the prettiest girls and that Colombia is second, so hypothetically, the girls here should be really pretty, but I haven´t looked at any yet. I´ll have to tell you next week. My area is really cool though, it's a about the same temperature as my last area, so kind of hot sometimes but not too bad. The streets are full of big trees and most of the houses are one story so the streets look kinda cool. We live in the area of another companionship (closer to downtown) and we have 4 missionaries in the apartment so it's way more fun. I taught Elder Ramos from Ecuador how to do the dougie and he is teaching me salsa. The 4th Elder (Valladares) is from Honduras but lived in the US for 10 years so I speak English every once in a while! My Spanish has improved a lot. I´ve realized that I haven't complained about my Spanish in a long time so it must be pretty decent! For real though, I’ve gotten a lot of compliments so I’ve been pretty stoked. There are still a lot of things I don´t understand though haha. On Sunday, I gave a talk and I didn´t even have to think about speaking it all just flowed out naturally. I didn't have time to prepare much, and so I had to finish in ward council before church haha. My habit of procrastinating in high school paid off. I spoke on faith and home (and visiting) teaching. It made sense, trust me. The ward is lacking in fellowshipping and visits and so I talked about that, and we have plans to work with the ward council. The people here are really receptive though. We started teaching a family this week (Leidy Calderon and her kids) and they have a baptism date for the 6th of December! She already received the answers to her prayers! The Lord has prepared that family and others for us, and I think we are going to have a lot of success here. I'll let you know about the details next week because I´m out of time! Love you guys!

Love Elder Downing

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Giron Week 23

First things first, my new area is Cùcuta! I leave in the afternoon, its way north by the Venezuelan border, and I hear that its way nicer than Giron. Giron is a little bit ghetto. I hear the people there are really receptive, it’s warm but not super hot, and everything there is cheap!! I’ll fill you guys in more next week. This week we had a lot of appointments fall through and we did a lot of walking. Yesterday we spent the whole night walking from house to house to house. The same happened on Halloween. All the kids dress up and trick or treat like in the states, so it was super fun to see them all. Viky's son, Estiven, dressed up as a missionary! That family will be eternal, I'm calling it. Rubiero said he doesn't want to get baptized. That family was so close, but whenever someone seems to get close to baptism, they fall. He says that he has too many problems (financial mostly) to move forward with marriage and baptism right now. I think there's a hidden problem though. His girlfriend Lizhet still wants to be baptized but can't because they live together and aren't married. Hopefully Elder Carballo can figure out what they need. The Valeck family accepted a baptism date for December 6th and they are super cool. We always visit them with members and so they know like 5 families. The only difficulty is they are super busy and involved, but I think Elder Carballo will be sending me baptism pictures soon. I'm a little sad to be leaving some of the people here, but I'm excited to start fresh and work hard in Cùcuta. I've learned so much in the four months that I've had here, I just hope I can apply it all. And I hope I like my companion, Elder Carballo has been awesome and it has been super easy to work and have fun with him. I like Bolivians. My next companion is Elder Olivo de Ecuador. I hope you are all doing well! 

Love Elder Downing
Happy Halloween!

Companion study

goodbye Giron!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Giron Week 22

Finally I had an interesting week! We preached the gospel a lot but there's some interesting stuff that happened too. I'll start with the good and finish with the depressing. We did a “service activity” that was presenting universal values to schools. I had to talk for 10 minutes on health without talking about the church or God or Christ or anything religious. The first school we went to had a group of about 70 kids between 15 and 17. there were no teachers to help us because they were in a meeting or something and so we had to sit them all down and they were all super rowdy during the presentation so it wasn't very good. A bunch got up and left during. And it was way more stressful because the mission president and his wife chose to watch our group of four out of the twelve groups. But he helped us out a lot so it was cool. The second school had about 100 10-12 year olds (mostly girls) and they were all super engaged it went really well at that school. When I said I was from the United States they all gasped, and afterward I gave about 15 autographs. I think they thought I was Justin Bieber or something. Ok, now time for the bad news. On monday we had everything planned for Lizeht and Rubeiro's baptism. From our activity we had raised the money to get their papers sent (we pulled some strings so we could get them mailed) and all they had to do was pay the money for the papers, set up a marriage date, and pay for the marriage. Four months of working my hardest every day had finally paid off. We were going to have a baptism before I left. Then they decided to spend the money that we earned for their marriage (and baptism) on other things. They didn't have any money left over to buy ingredients to make hamburgers for the ward, and they cancelled on everyone who had committed to help them (we planned two hamburger activities). So now they have no money to pay for the marriage. One of the things Rubiero used the money for was to look for a job which he found. So now the only chance is that maybe in the future they can save up the money. We can't ask for the help of the missionaries or members again because they already had it and misused it. My hopes were super high for them, but now i'm not even sure if Rubeiro wants to get baptized. We had a lesson at their neighbors house yesterday and he walked by without stopping or saying a word, and he looked pretty mad. Lizeht still wants to get baptized. On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday I was pretty discouraged from all of that. Alson, tons of our lessons fell through and we spent almost all of our time walking from house to house. Sunday something happened that changed my attitude. We went to visit Viky and we read a passage in the Book of Mormon. I could see how much her faith and love of God had grown and her desire to serve him. After the lesson, it came up in conversation that I'm probably leaving Giron next week. She got sad then after a little bit said “well you'll have to come back in December to baptize me.” I decided that even though I haven't baptized anyone yet, i've changed at least one life. And that's a pretty big deal. It's not very often that you get to change someone's life. And to say “change a life” is an understatement, because the happiness that comes from living the gospel is eternal. And even if all of our other investigators reject us tomorrow, it'll be okay because i'm confident that Viky will stay strong.
“Dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power, and then may we stand still with the utmost assurance to see the salvation of God, and that his arm be revealed” 
D&C 123:17
I'm enthusiastic about the work again, and working hard. I might not have had the best numbers here in Giron but I know the Lord is pleased. I know I was meant to serve here, and ti'm going to miss a lot of these people. It's been my home for the last four months and i've changed a lot in my time here. I hope my next area is cool. If I don't write next week, don't worry. Chances are I'll be traveling and won't get to write. But if I don't write for the next two weeks, that means I probably got dengue fever. I get like 6 mosquito bites every day. So stay tuned. For real though, I'm really blessed because I haven't even gotten a little sick. Well, I'll talk to you all on Nov 10th when I have a new area and comp and house and stuff.
Love Elder Downing

PS I ate cow stomach and intestine soup