Colombia Bogota North Mission

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Cucuta Week 32 January 12

Ok so I said last week that I would update on the ant wars. They have adapted their warfare tactics. I could take them all out at once when they attacked in swarms, and cut off their point of entry. But now they've spread out. I don't know where they come from and it's hard to spot them out. They sneak into my clothes in my closet even though I've put poison to block them out. All I'm going to say is that ants in my pants is a real thing. And ant bites in my pants.

This week was super cool though. On tuesday we went to a place called pamplona. It's over two hours away up in the mountains (which means it's cold!!) and we worked with some ward leaders to visit a few investigators and less active members. It's a super small town so it was sweet. During a lesson, there were tons of sheep bahing outside for like 20 min then this little lamb charges into the house and we had to stop to kick it out. Colombian lambs are just so silly. It was nice to be in the cold though. I have 7 months of heat and 1 day of cold now.

So we have been doing a lot of service for people. We painted the house of one family who aren't members except for one son. We went over 3 different mornings. And now the brother is listening to us and has a lot of potential. He's super religious and awesome and so we're just waiting for him to read the book of mormon so he'll want to be baptized.

In other news, James (a Colombian) won one of the two golden balls, so people here are pretty happy. Yes, It sounds really strange, it sounds better in spanish (balón de oro) and yes there are only two. He won best goal of the year. so pretty cool.Speaking of soccer, We have been playing here on pdays and it's super fun. I'm terrible because I wasn't raised in latin culture but I'm getting there.

Ok so to close out, fasting works!! My testimony on fasting has grown so much this week. We fasted for a few things on sunday but especially two investigators and their families, Viviana and Leidy. They were our most promising investigators, but we hadn't talked to them in about two weeks. We were calling and stopping by, but nothing. On monday we went out to work at 6 and before we made it a block, Leidy called us and said she wanted us to stop by, and everything was great! And then, seconds later, Viviana pulls up next to us on her motorcycle and tells us how she had just gotten back in town, and that everything in her life was working it's way out so that she can get baptized!! We were, and are still, so stoked! I felt the spirit so strong during our fast, and I can't deny that fasting is real and that God here's and answers our prayers. Fasting was such a great experience, I don't know if I'm ever going to eat or drink again!

Love Elder Downing (Elderek)

Cucuta Week 31 January 5

Ok so this week was really good. I'll start off with new years, because it was sweet. On new years everyone was busy, and so we mostly walked around from house to house to see which of our investigators or members would let us in so we could stop walking. It would be sweet if we had bikes, but we can't have bikes or white girls in the mission, because they would get stolen, so we just walked in the heat all day. On the bright side, my forearms and part of my neck (collared shirt) are tan now. So I heard that there was snow in Temecula, I'm glad you guys got to enjoy that. I'm pretty jealous, but then again people that live in the cold want the heat. And we've got that here so maybe I'm the lucky one? So for news years here, the people make dummies and fill them with explosives and stuff and then at midnight they light them! It's so cool. And during the day on new years, the put their dummy in the street, and block off the streets and don't let the cars pass until they give them money.l AND (yes there's more) they dress up as old widows while begging for money so it's super funny. So we've got kids and teenagers, dressed up as old women, roping off the streets and asking for change, to buy fireworks to fill their life size dummy, so they can blow it up at midnight! It's an awesome tradition if you ask me. The other tradition is that everyone gets super drunk. Like waaaay drunk. so our neighbors started drinking new years eve (everyone is in the street, no one's inside) and they were still outside drinking at 12 pm the next day, and at 3 and at 5 and then everyone was outside drinking again the night of the first. A lot of people drank for like 24 hours straight it was ridiculous. They must have amazing livers here. So, the 1st had a lot of walking too. We had to go home early on the first so we borrowed some board games from a member and bought some coke. Then we sat on the balcony listening to the blasting music that was playing in the street, and watched kids blow stuff up. It was cool.

So this week I read an amazing talk by president Monson "see others as they may become". It talks about how we need to remember the potential that everyone has. We might only see they problems and flaws when we look at people (or investigators or ward members) but everyone has the ability to change. I've been trying hard this week to not count people out because of the problems they currently have. After having so many investigators not get baptized, I started seeing the problems that some of these people have, and I would lose faith in them. I would doubt that they would progress or make the necessary changes. But thankfully, God didn't give up on me even though I was making that mistake. He let me stay out here, and I learned and changed. And everyone has the chance to learn and change and come unto Christ. That's why it's so important that we are out here teaching them how to do it. I've felt a difference ever since changing that perspective, and I have faith that these people here will progress and make the changes they need to come unto Christ. I'm starting to see people as they may become, and I'm starting to love them more and want to help them achieve their potential.

That's all for our show, but tune in next week for a report on the war with ants.

Love you guys. Enjoy the cold for me,

Love Elder Downing

Cucuta Week 30 December 29

On christmas this year I got three things, A loaf of bread, sick, and hundreds of ants in my bed! What a christmas! But as we all know, christmas isn't about receiving it's about giving. As for our investigators this week, no one progressed or went to church, Pretty much everyone was out of town or super busy last week so we did a lot of walking. I guess it was pretty cool though if you like walking a lot. Christmas eve was the best day, a family invited us over for lunch and we ate potato salad and ham so it was sweet! Then I got to Skype my family! So it was super weird because I was trying to introduce my companion to my family, and I got super mixed up on what language I was speaking. I started speaking spanish to my family, then I was like oh they don't speak spanish, so I turned to my companion to talk to him but I started speaking english, and I just kept going back and forth like that, with no one understanding me until I stopped and recovered. Then I did it again. It was super weird.

So it was so cool to see everyone, first Skype of the mission, how adorable. I was looking through everyone like, oh cool, there's my sister, oh cool, there's my brother, and then I saw my main homie, Big J, and I realized how much I missed him. And then after the call, I wasn't even that homesick or sad, I was just like "wow I wish I could have talked more with Jordan". But Mom, it was great to talk to you too!

So about my christmas gifts, In the morning I got sick (I'm still sick) but it's just a nasty cold so it's not too bad. I'm still out here baptizing. In the afternoon, a guy gave us a loaf of christmas bread. He's a baker. He's a nice man. And at night, I got a visit from hundreds of ants! About a week ago, they invaded Elder Valladares' bed, but I didn't think they'd invade mine too. But they did! They attacked on christmas, the same tactic that George Washington used to turn the tide of the revolutionary war. These ants seem to know their war tactics. So yeah I slept with hundreds of ants crawling all over me and my bed and biting me. Merry Christmas. Christmas was rad though because I bought a big bottle over pony malta. I tried to share with Elder Bartlome but he said it tastes like horse pee. I was like "yeah that's what pony malta means in english"

I hope you guys have a great new year. I'm setting some big plans and gearing up to baptize all of Colombia in 2015. It's happening. nah, but really I'm trying to be the be more like the savior each day, I hope that makes it on all of our lists of new years resolutions. My other resolution is gain 35 lbs. Stay tuned. By the way that's a joke (kind of). Love you guys

Love Elder Downing

Cucuta Week 29 December 22

Ok so the first piece of news is we got a white guy in the apartment! This is the first time I've lived with a white guy in 7 months so pretty cool if you like white people. He's brand new, fresh out of the factory and only speaks a few words of spanish but he's a cool guy! He's from Bear Lake Utah and he's 18. He brought his lasso and I roped my companion so that was fun. The only bad thing about him is that all of his sisters are married. You win some, you lose some.

Speaking of losing some, the ants have won the last few battles of our war. So I used my towel one morning after showering and I found out that it was full of ants. I found out because all of the little ants got angry that I was using them to dry off, and they all bit me. I have like 30 ant bites all over my body that are all really itchy. Their sneak attack was perfect. They just waited and I applied them all over my body. I think they're getting smarter. stay tuned.

We had our christmas conference this week wit the president and the APs. First we listened to a few hours of the president training us, and then we geared up in our pday clothes! Not to play sports or anything, but to do physical fitness tests! So cool I guess if you like physical fitness tests. And at the end they gave us all candy canes and a really cool cover for our planners (I really liked that part). Our president is super cool.

So my whole week basically has been singing. On wednesday we spent 3 hours practicing and 3 hours performing a choir presentation. On saturday we sang too. We prepared to sing at a stake activity on friday but we didn't because they ran out of time. I love the spanish christmas carols now. Check out "los pastores a belèn" and "mi burrito sabanero" (no it's not about mexican food).

To close, I just want to wish you guys a merry christmas (not much to update on investigators because we were so busy with other activities)
I have gained a greater appreciation for the saviour in this christmas season. We often forget just how extensive his atonement was. It was infinite. He paid for every sin, He suffered every sickness, and He endured every trial that we had, that we have, and that we will have. And thanks to him we can achieve our divine potential. We are children of God! I think it's easy to forget what that really means sometimes. We have a potential so much greater than the everyday tasks and challenges we face. But often we forget our divine potential and focus on our day to day tasks. I know I have. Merry Christmas everyone, and happy birthday to the One who made it possible for us to achieve our divine potential.

Love Elder Downing

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Cucuta Week 28

Transfers! Im staying. So we don't have many changes in our zone. Last transfer, I was the only white person in the whole zone, with 3 latinos who speak english (one was born in the states and is Mexican, the others were born in central america). And now, the elder from the states, and one of the other elders who speaks english got transferred. And the zone is getting more latinos and a new elder whose race is unknown still. So rad I guess, if you don't like white people.

Even worse though is that ants ate my cake. So in our apartment there are lots of little ants. They're actually kind of cute because their really small. They're evil though. They bite and leave huge welts that itch for days and they destroy any food we leave outside of the fridge. I had my cake in a ziplock freezer bag and I thought it was safe, but they chewed a giant hole in the bag to get to the cake! I spent the next few minutes torching them with a lighter, so we're even for now but stay tuned.

So a lot of people (my mom) have been asking me about my health since i was sick a few weeks ago. I've been super healthy! My companion has been a little off though. His stomach was so bad one day we had to take a taxi back to the house because he couldn't make it walking. But yeah, I haven't puked or had to take Imodium so I'm doin great.

We did a service project (helping a guy build his house) and I got to break down a wall with a pick axe (if that's what it's called).It was sweet. It felt so good to work with our hands and get dirty (really dirty) and have a break from all the talking and teaching. Derek like smash!

I can tell it's christmas time because everyone is staring to hang up their virgen mary banners in front of their houses. We've been caroling in parks and in front of malls and spreading all kinds of christmas cheer. Our investigators are pretty much in the same rut as they were last week (Viviana told us about her boyfriend so now we have two difficulties with her) so I won't take too much of your (my) time.

I love you all, Elder Downing

Cucuta Week 27

Ok so this week we don't have much news so I'll throw in some cool bonus info and stuff. I hope you enjoy. Viviana and Mateo, Leidy and Paola, and Yasmin all had baptismal dates for the 6th but none of them got baptized. It's whatevs because we're going to baptize them all super hard in the next couple weeks. Leidy needs to get married, Viviana needs to quit smoking, Yasmin needs to go to church more consistently, and Adrian (baptism date for the 13th) needs his inactive family to start going to church again. A few small problems but we're getting there, or in spanish "alli vamos" the new favorite song of my companion. We always hear it in the street. The only news is that no one got baptized, but other than that things are pretty much the same.

I've been asked about my apartment by a few people (my mom) and so I'll throw in some details. It's one of the nicest apartments in the zone and we have a washing machine which is rad. We don't have a toaster though so I make bread on a pan, which is the spanish word for bread, so it makes sense I guess. But sometimes I get to tired to fry my toast so I just eat plain slices of bread.

I bought an adidas watch last week for 5 bucks. There's a lot of knock off and Venezuelan imports here so you can buy stuff really cheap. Elder Wong (from Peru) bought a Gucci shirt. Sometimes they spell gucci wrong though so you have to be careful. The watch I bought is original though, the guy told me.

So everyone (seriously everyone) has or has had chinkunguña (a virus). Including me. And it's super funny to hear all these remedies that these people have. One family was telling me how when their kids have a fever they make them go outside and play soccer. I always thought rest and lots of fluids was the key, but I guess high intensity exercise is better. Nothing better to bring down a fever like running around in the sun in 85 degree weather. I just like to listen and nod though. I think Charles Darwin would do the same.

I watched the christmas devotional last night in the stake center here. Adrian went with us. It was really good. My companion turned to me when the choir was singing and was like "I don't understand" and I turned to him and said "me either". Honestly I had no clue what the choir was saying. Am I the only one that has a hard time understanding motab? I mean I love motab just like you guys, but for some reason I can hardly ever make out what they are singing.

Speaking of singing I've been doing it a lot. Songs like "I'm dreaming of a white person christmas" and other classics. It's great that everyone gets so fired up for christmas. Last night, the streets here were full with candles. The people here put them in front of their houses the night of the 7th to welcome the virgin into their homes. People here are pretty catholic.

Being a missionary this time of year is cool. We can help people understand the true meaning of christmas and why it is so important in their lives. Many people don't realize that Christ was given as their redeemer and that by following Him, they will be happy. We are trying to teach as many people as we can about Christ and His miraculous birth, life, death, and resurrection. Merry almost Christmas everyone! And happy birthday grandpa!