Monday, December 31, 2012

Skype Fest & Christmas Festivities

December 31, 2012 - Well this week was kinda slow as far as lessons go, with the holidays. Everyone has stuff going on or they leave out of town to visit family, kinda a bummer. But since we didn´t have a lot of lessons we got to contact and we found alot of new people that we can teach. 

Skyping was super sweet! It felt weird though seeing the house and everyone, but I wasn´t there. But I loved talking with you all and catching up a little bit. Nothing really happened this week, but we had a sweet experience. 

On Friday we were walking to people´s houses to try to have a lesson but no one was there or they were busy. So we were standing at a calling booth trying to figure out where we should go and We remembered about this girl Vanessa. She had left out of town to Barranquilla the week before but we weren´t sure if she was back, but we decided to stop by anyway. We got to her house, yelled ´buenas!´ and she came to the door. After we started talking for a little she told us that before we got there she knew that we were going to come. Then we had a super awesome lesson, it was great. I felt like giving God a fist bump. 
Christmas activity

Ya, that´s about it for this week, we really didn´t do a whole lot because of Christmas and new years today. But this week should be better than last. Today for pday we didn´t do a whole lot, just went to the store to buy food, printed of pictures, and finally got my debit card to work! Whoohoo! Then we just made lunch and slept. 

Love you all! Sorry this letter is kinda lame! Abrazos y besos!  

Day Before Christmas Letter

December 24, 2012 - What up! How`s it going? It`s still hot and humid down here but it`s getting better. It feels even less like Christmas down her too. 

We had changes last week and!!! Nothing changed. Still here in Cartagena with my comp Elder Mañuico. With the changes too some missionaries changed houses so I now finally have a room again! 

Some highlights from this week are that we found some new investigators so I`m happy about that. We also had a christmas activity with the mission president. We went to a centro for lunch, It was awesome, I ate some bbq, we then walked around and sung some songs there and talk to people. 

After we went to a church building to do a gift exchange. My gift was the little soccer ball (that we can`t play with) and a tie. I recieved a wallet from a elder that forgot my name so when he said my name he just yelled `Elder You!`. 

 After that we went out to a plaza where there were a ton of people and sang Christmas songs/hymns and contacted. It was super fun, plus this old crazy guy stood next to the elder who was leading the songs and started waving his arms around like a conducter of music. Also some lady with a 666 tattoo started yelling at some elders, she was crazy. 

At church there was an American family, they are doing a humanitarian thing down here for a week so I got to talk to them in English. They are all from Utah, but a few of them could speak spanish. 

Today for pday we didn`t do much, just went to the centro and bought myself a tech deck for christmas, really went all out. But right now we are kinda pressed on time to email because we couldn`t find a place that was open. Oh also my debit card does not work here at all so I can`t take out money, but here`s an idea. Elder Anderson`s works fine so maybe you could talk with his mom or something and give money to them and I could take it out throught his card? Just an idea. 

Love you all! I`ll send pictures next week, Can`t wait to skype!!!! Abrazos y besos!!  

December 17 - Money & Christmas Decorations

What´s up! This week was pretty good and a little iffy. We had some reaslly good lessons and found some new people. We taught this one lady who is super interested in the plan of salvation and the restoration so we are pumped about that, but we´ve had about 4 investigators tell us that they want to wait a little longer to get baptized and it´s super frustrating because they are so ready.

On sunday we had a Rescue, it´s when all the missionaries in the zone go to one ward and find the less active members and while I was walking around with another member we ran into an American guy. He´s from Minnesota, but his wife is from Colombia so he´s down visiting for like 3 months. Talked with him for a little while, he has zero interest, but it was cool to talk to him in English. We had a noche de hogar with the bishop and after we shared a little message we ate pizza and it was awesome. I miss pizza alot.

 Anyways, we have changes tomorrow so I might be here again or I might be in a different city with a new comp, but I´ll find out later today/tomorrow. Last Tuesday packages came! Got two from mom and a letter from Granny and Alyssa. The M&M´s and Reeses are heaven, chocolate just isn´t the same down here. Also love the little games, I´ve been destroying in checkers.

We didn´t really do anything today for pday, we just played dominoes, parques, and uno. But uno is so frustrating because everyone just starts making up rules and everyone is yelling in spanish or portugese, but it was fun. We´ll be having a zone activity with the mission president in the next week or so and we´ll have dinner then have a little activity with him/white elephant give I think.

The people that live below us put up Christmas lights on the house and they are really sweet until we have to sleep because they just flash and flash and flash and since we have to sleep in the front room, it´s kinda hard to sleep sometimes with the light. Ya, I think that´s about it. Nothing much, just a regular mission week here in Cartagena. Love you all! Abrazos y besos!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Toes, Bowling and Christmas Lights

SO recap from last last week. I went to the hospital clinic (super creepy, I felt like I was going to be in a horror movie) then the doctor just stabbed my big toe with anesthesia twice, then my other toe once, then went to town pulling up the toenail and slicing.
Sith Lord Toe.
Bandaged Toes.

After I couldn´t walk for a few days so I was stuck in the house reading all day, but when I took off the bandadge, my toe was super disgusting, kinda looked like the Sith Lord.

Last week pday we went bowling and it was awesome, but the lanes were super greasy so we couldn´t get the balls so spin very well. Ya, done with the recap from last last week.

This last week was pretty sweet, we found some new investigators that are really interested so I´m super pumped about that. Also the other day we were walking around and thought ¨hey we should stop by Jorge¨ (an old investigator) So we did. And got him set up for a baptismal date!

Elder Mañuico, Zapata, Me, and Fitzgerald
We´ve still had some trouble finding new investigators. People just don´t want to talk to us, or say that ¨the right church is the church in your heart¨. One sweet experience this week was this lady Ester got baptized. We had an intercambio a few weeks ago with the other misisonaries in our ward and while we were out we contacted Ester and she was super receptive and got baptized on Saturday (3 weeks later).
Exercise Time.

Everything going good with my comp and the language, I´m doing pretty good with understanding people, but still don´t have a super big vocabulary so I can´t say everything that I would like, but with time and some studying it´ll come.

At the start of the Christmas season, they line the streets with candles to guide the Virgin Mary.
Ya, that´s about it. Love you all! You might be getting a little surprise soon! Abrazos y besos!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

With the Thrill of Victory, Sometimes Comes the Agony of Da Feet!

Hey, crazy day and I only have like 5 minutes to write, but I´m alive.

I´ll send pictures next week of my toe, but basically I had two ingrown toenails. One on my big toe, left foot and the other on my middle toe right foot. Got them cut on Thursday, but I couldn´t do anything till sunday.

Kinda boring week, but we got to watch the Christmas devotional so that was cool. Today we went bowling and it was super fun (I´ll send pictures of that next week) but after we literal spent 40 minutes trying to get back to our house because it was rush hour and there was not an empty taxi anywhere! But we finally made it back so now were heading out on our day.

Ya, this week didn´t do a whole lot besides sit and study in the apartment, but pumped for this week. And we´re going to get mail this week too. Next´s week´s letter will be better! Love you all!

 Abrazos y besos!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Happiest Day Yet!

This week was awesome! Got two baptisms! and found some new investigators who are really awesome! For the baptisms we had scheduled Isabel, but Pedro (The dad of the family we baptized my first week here) wanted to get baptized so we baptized him too. I baptized Pedro and Isabel was baptized by her son Alex. Saturday was my happiest day here. 

We´ve been having trouble finding interested people here, but this last week we found a family and a few others that I think will progress. Also we had 5 investigators come to church on Sunday, I was soo happy. It sucks sitting in the chapel without any investigators there. Super happy to see them walk in. 

Nothing much happened this week, lessons have been good, trying to learn better ways to teach, the language is coming along. I can understand alot, but I can´t just talk about whatever I want to I get frustrated sometimes. 

Right now it´s raining and the thunder is so loud, it shook the building. We had an activity with all the missionaries in the area where we go to a ward that has a lot of less active people and we go visit them. I was miserable. The people lived hecka far away from the church, we walked forever to get to the first house, then wandered around for 30 minutes trying to find the other houses and the entire time my toe was killing and the member we were with kept grabbing my shoulder and asking my how I was, but I was just sweaty and sticky so I wasn´t appreciating him touching my arm. 

Three things I learned this week:  Families are amazing, Baptisms are awesome, and we need to contact ´new´ places in our area. Also a ton of people used the word "viejo" this week.

Ya, that´s about it for this week. Really good week, super happy. Love you all! Abrazos y besos!  

Monday, November 19, 2012

Castle Time

Awesome week! Finally had some success! Lessons rocked, investigators came to church and I´ll probably have my first baptism this Saturday! Weather was nicer this week, but rained quite a bit. 

Things are going all good with my comp (Elder Mañuico), he´s great and pretty patient. It´s a little bit harder with him because he doesn´t know as much English as my old comp,  but we work it out. Really just a normal week. 

Elder Mañuico on a cannon at the Castillo.

"I'm in Heaven!"
 We just got back from the castillo (castle - Castillo San Felipe de Barajas - Click here for Castillo/Castle Info) and it was sweet! 

Traveled through dark dungeons, got lost, sweat to death, had a sweet view of the city, touched a giant colombian flag, got in trouble for touching the giant flag, found pancake mix and syrup! and bought some souveniers! 

Elder Mañuico and I in the Dungeon - teaching!

1. Me in a dungeon.

2- Sitting on a cannon

3- Standing under a giant Colombian flag

5- Me and my comp grabbing the giant flag and some random dude ruining the pic

1- Me and my comp in a giant shoe

2- Me in the shoe

3- Ate out of a cocoa thing, not sure. The little cart said coco helado

This week was much better than the last, we had good lessons, found new, interested investigators and people actually came to church!! It´s super hard for people to progress when they don´t come to church, but we finally got people to come.  The past several weeks, we just haven´t been having much success here. It´s such a bummer because people always say that they want to learn more and be closer to god so we tell them how they can be, but they don´t keep the promises to read or come to church so they can´t progress so we don´t have any success, but this week was much better

Super pumped for the baptism because I´ve been teaching the lady Isabel the entire time I´ve been here and she really wants to get baptized! Excited for this coming week, but ya that´s it, not a whole lot. Love you all! Abrazos y besos!  

Monday, November 12, 2012

Monkey'ing Around in Cartagena

Well I´m finally free! Spent 4 days in the house studying and I was going crazy!
Nathan & Kiki

Nathan & New Companion Elder Mañuico from Peru
We had changes last week and I got a new companion from Peru, his name is Elder Mañuico. Everythings been going great with him. The day of changes I didn´t have a companion so I went around with the zone leader and bought a bunch of stuff for new apartments and ATE SUBWAY! It was heaven!

FHE - All Elder w/ Personal Fans.
Then later that night we had a ton of extra missionaries stay the night and there were two Elder Andersons. One is Marky Mark´s brother and the other is Dub´s friend! Small world! Dub´s friend is living in the house and Mark´s brother went to another area, but crazy! Also heard that the other missionaries that stayed in Provo got their visas and they just got here the other day.

With the comp changes I got booted out of my room so now I sleep on a matress on the floor. We finally got mail!!! So yes mom I finally got the package and loved it! Chocolate is amazing! Also got a bunch of letters too!

We didn´t have a ton of lessons today since we only went out on Monday and Tuesday, but we had some rockin lessons with a couple investigators! They were awesome until we got to the end and couldn´t give them a book of mormon beacause we don´t have any at the house...Bummer...

That´s about it, but the highlight of my week was that.. I HELD A MONKEY!!! It was awesome!!!! My life is almost complete! It´s name is Kiki and a boy, don´t understand that part though. Well that´s it for my week. Love you all!

Abrazos y besos!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Festival Week Coming up in Cartagena

November 5, 2012

Well it´s been a pretty normal week with everything. Lessons, walking, sweating, understanding a little more, but all good! 

This week my bag broke, the bottom of it just ripped open so I borrowed one from another elder for now until I buy a new one. We eat at members houses for lunch and we ate sooo much food. Every time I think I´m gonna puke from how much I eat. And alot of times I have no idea what I´m eating. Weather this last week was nuts! 

We had some crazy lightning, and the thunder was so loud! Scared me a few times. Also one of the days it rained soo much. The streets were rivers and I was just soaked, it didn´t even matter that I had an umbrella. It was pretty cool though. 

For exercise we have a make shift bar, meaning its a bar and at either end has two paint cans filled with cement. But we don´t do much. I feel myself getting weaker and my muscle getting smaller. For pday we wash, clean, shop, and usually go out in the city to the centro or something, but today we couldn´t because its a festival.  In lessons tvs are my kryponite. It doesn´t even matter if it is in spanish, I can´t look away. The other night the power went out and I woke up just wet, it was awful. I spent two and a half hours fanning myself with envelopes trying to stay cool. It was miserable. 

This week is some sort a festival thing in Cartagena so from thursday to sunday we can´t leave the house. Also maybe wednesday we might not be able. Not looking forward to being inside that long. But ya, that´s about it! Haven´t gotten letters yet, should be getting them this week. Love you all! 

Abrazos y besos!  

Monday, November 5, 2012

El Libro de Mormón

Good-ish week, had some rockin' lessons, but had a lot of uninterested people. Doing better with the Spanish, feeling more comfortable until the people start talking about different kinds of foods and animals. 

We had interviews with the mission president this week so he brought some letters with him. I got them from Granny, Clint, Tyler, Tori Faulkner, Mindy, and the 'dearelder' one from dad. We usually only get mail once a month when the zone leaders have meetings with the president but since he came here he brought them. 

We had some elders move out of the apartment to a new one so we only have 4 in it now, feels more empty, but now we aren`t as pressed for time to shower in the mornings. Last week though, our water was shut off for like a day so we couldn`t wash dishes, shower, or flush the toilet.. 

Weather this week was brutal, it would sprinkle rain then just be clear skies and crazy humid. I was dying. When we are in lessons I just fan myself with a pass along card until the people feel bad for me and bring out a fan. 

Ya, nothing really huge has happened this week. I am getting more and more tired during the days, nights go by way too fast, but days go by quickly too. Oh! My Book of Mormon broke, so I`m scared it`s just going to fall apart in a lesson. I don`t know what to do or where to go to get it fixed though. 

Ya that`s it, Love you all! Abrazos y besos!    

Monday, October 22, 2012

Pictures and Letter from Cartagena

This week has been pretty good. We´ve had some days that we´ve just been rocking then others where we barely have any lessons and no one wants to talk to us. Weather has been better/ I´m getting used to it a little more. I´m still sticky all the time, but it´s not as bad as the first week. Sometimes during the day a big rain cloud will pass over and just pour for 10 minutes then be gone. It´s super random.

Language is getting better, I can understand and talk a little more. There are still a ton of things that I can´t talk about. People always as me about food and the different types that are here and what I like, but I don´t know the words for all the different foods so I just say that we don´t have it in the states. Also one kid always asks me different names of animals but I don´t know those either so he tries to act out what it is. Also people will always ask me to talk English to them and they thinks it´s funny that they have no idea what I´m saying, but I´ve had a few people want me to help them learn English. One guy wants to read the bible in English, but we´re going to take him a Book of Mormon to read instead. 

We´ve had a few lessons where there is the tv on or music playing next door and it´s awful, I can´t focus at all, especially when the music is in English and the movies are Lord of the Rings and 2012. 

I´m kinda tired right now. Didn´t get a ton of sleep because the power went off at 2 in the morning which meant my fan stopped working at 2 in the morning and it didn´t come back on till like 5:30. 

We also went to a chapel overlooking Cartagena today, it´s called Convento Santa Cruz de La Popa so I´ll send some pictures too. 

This week though I saw a guy just walking around wearing a cement bag, there was a karate tournament at the church and saw some guys get absolutely destroyed, but ya, that´s about it for this week. Not super eventful. Love you all! Abrazos y besos

A Link to all pictures is:  Cartagena Pictures

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Week #12 - Cartagena

How´s it going!? This week was pretty good and kinda bad, but overall good. We had about 2 days where all the lessons fell through and no one wanted to talk to us when we were knocking doors, so those days were a little frustrating, but we had other days when the lessons were awesome.  

Although whenever we´re trying to teach and there´s a tv on in the house, it´s game over and I can never focus.  One thing that I´ve been missing alot is music, all of it sounds the same here and it´s getting kind of annoying. But whenever we´re walking and I hear an American song it´s amazing! Also in the house to have my ipod is great so thank you Clint for giving me the music.

We´ve been teaching this couple and they´ve been really receptive, but need to get married and last night they said they wanted to! So hopefully when December 8th roles around, it will happen!

Spanish is getting a little better, getting more confident. I think that I´ve just become comfortable with not understanding everything that people say because I don´t understand alot, but I´m fine with it. It´s frustrating though when people ask a question and I didn´t understand so they say it again but the exact same speed so I still don´t get it. I also hate the words ´exacto´ and ´claro´ because people say that all the time to us when we´re teaching a lesson and I just want to say ´no, it´s not claro because it if was, you´d be reading the scriptures and coming to church´.

The weather has been good this week, nice and cloudy. Also my companion had to go to the dentist for a filling. It took like 10 minutes. We just walked in, sat down, and the dude started going to work. Then we´ve had two elders go to the doctor for ingrown toenails and one of them had the entire nail taken because it was so bad, now he can´t walk for about 7 days. I really don´t want anything to happen to me.

The whole mail system is pretty reliable here if you send stuff, but it costs a pantload to send stuff back so I won´t be sending things back. I also got a haircut today for 4 mil, which is about 2´s really short. Basically buzzed.

Dad to answer your questions: Living in the apartment are 3 companionships then right next door (like a foot) is another three. There are 4 other americans then the rest are from other parts of southamercia. The name of my ward, neighborhood, area is Alpes. Feeling good about the mission, keep thinking ´this would never happen in america!!´ but it´s great!  For breakfast we just eat cereal bread and juice. Sometimes hotdogs. Lunch we usually have with members so that´s better. We haven´t had dinner yet so we just eat when we get back to the apartment so around 9:30. Clothing and shoes are doing well. Typical day. wake up at 6, exercise, eat/shower, study from 8 to 9, comp study 9 to 10, language 10 to 12, lunch from 12 to 2, lessons from 2 to 9, planning at 9 to 9:30, then chill, shower, write in journals, and eat some food.

{Map of area where Cartagena Los Alpes Stake Center is located}

Love you all! Till next week! Abrazos y besos!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Week 11 - Cartagena

Well this week was better than last week, I´m understanding more and feel more confident speaking. Everyday it a little better than the last, but it´s really hard in lessons when we ask a question, then the person rambles and talks really fast, I have no idea what they are saying, then my companion looks to me and I just stare back blankly. Other than that, the language is great! 

The weather is still killer. Everyday I just hope and pray for clouds to be in the sky and everyday it seems like they are everywhere but our area.  There was a lightning storm last week and it looked like God had put a strobe light in the sky and was pounding on tribal drums through the night. 

We also had a power outaged around 9, then it came back on, then went out again in the middle of the night. I woke up sweating and thought I was going to die because I didn´t have a fan. I resorted to using envelopes to fan myself for 40 minutes until the power finally came back on. 

We still walk a ton during the day so I sweat a ton, but I´m getting a little more used to the humidity, not much. But I´m starting to figure out where we are actually walking so I know where we are going and where things are.  

Saturday and Sunday we spent pretty much the entire day inside a chapel watching conference. Saturday we watched it in Spanish and I didn´t get a whole lot of spiritual enlightenment out of it. The songs were in English so that was my favorite part. And the first few seconds when the speaker starts talking and the translator voice hasn´t kicked in yet. But! Sunday we got to watch it in English!!! In a seperate room on a tiny little tv, but it was marvelous! 

This week was kinda uneventful, some people had my read some intructions in English for them, but nothing huge just doing misisonary work! 

Love you all! Abrazos y besos!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Cartagena - Los Alpes! First Week in The Field

Well It´s been a long almost two weeks. In Bogota we went out proselyting again, packed our bags, and said our last farwells to the CCM at 3 a.m. At the airport we just handed the people our bags and they threw them onto the convey belt, which was good because I know both my bags were overweight. 

Just a llama on the side of the street
The flight to Barranquilla was about an hour and a half, but right when we stepped off the plane I felt like I was being hugged by a warm damp blanket. The Mission President greeted us then we piled onto a bus to go to a chapel. Once we got to the chapel we had a small lunch that consisted of chocolate bread, an oat smootie, and an apple. 

Then we slept on the church pews to catch up on sleep, but it just felt gross laying where everyone´s butts go. After had a quick interview with the President, and since I don´t know a lot of Spanish, it was pretty quick. They then shipped us out to some elders house where we paired up and headed out with another missionary already in the field for the rest of the day. 

Me and Elder Neff were together and the entire time people were just saying that we were gringos and couldn´t speak spanish and were sweaty. All of wich were true, but I just wanted to cry that day, I´ll be honest, that was the suckiest day. And to top that day off they made us put 7 matresses on the floor that had been festering in rat poop and then 8 elders had to share the 7 matresses and 2 fans. 

The next day (Wednesday) we went back to the chapel and got our new companions. My companions name is Elder De Los Santos from the Dominican Republic! He´s awesome, hard worker, and very nice so everyone likes him. He also lets me talk in the lessons so I´m loving that. 

After we got our companions, we loaded into another bus and headed to Cartagena where I am currently at. My area is called Los Alpes. The apartment has 5 other elders in it and I´m pretty sure undiscovered bacteria live here. Going proselyting is great, alot of walking, alot of not understanding, and a lot of sweating. 

I didn´t think it was possible to sweat this much. Just sitting in a chair I´ll be sweating. If there isn´t a fan near by, I´m sweating. Fans are like gold here because it´s eternally hot and humid and having a fan blow on your body is like christmas for your body. 

The people here are way nicer than the people in Bogota which makes talking easier. So far, I´ve been a witness for a wedding and 6 baptisms. So off to a pretty good start! 

Other randoms things: The only temperature on the shower is cold so I´m stuck with that for 22 more months, but since it´s always hot, it´s not a huge deal. Since today has been the first time we have gone to the store, my diet has been pretty much just bread and juice. The water here is like poisen. I think I drank some a few days ago because something destoyed my insides and I´m back to normal now. 

There are 3 other northamericans in the apartment and two latinos, my companion included. The fashion here is quite different from the states, for guys, swim suit bottoms are a must and a shirt is optional. For women, skin tight clothing is a necessity, no matter the age. Even old grandmas. And bras are also optional... It´s no bueno at times. 

It rains here like no one´s business, floods streets, and the sound of thunder sounds like the sky is about to shatter. I kinda almost got robbed too on my first day. We were walking and this guy walks up to me and asks for a cell phone, which I didn´t have, and reaches into my pockets, pats me down a bit then figured I was telling him the truth when I said I didn´t have a phone. 

Each day a learn a little more Spanish and am able to understand better. Although I still can never figure out where we are when we are walking. The streets are nuts, no signs, and crossing streets is like human frogger. I also ate some liver the other day. Didn´t taste too bad, but definately strange. Also we have ants evrywhere in our apartment. Oh and also if alot of this is spelt wrong it´s because there is no autocorrect and every word is this email is underlined red since the default language is Spanish. 

Well that´s it for me! Pretty exciting week! Love you all and thanks for the support! 

Abrazos y besos!  

Week #9 - No News from Nathan

Well - we didn't get a letter last week, which is what Nathan told us may happen.  He thought that his new P-day was going to be on Monday & since he was shipping out on Tuesday morning from Bogotá to Barranquilla, he might now be able to be in touch until today.

So today, we got some awesome pictures emailed to us, but we still don't know where he is, who his companion is, or how he's doing!  We're a little anxious, but I'm sure Nathan is taking it all in stride & hopefully having a great time.

Bogotá MTC Pictures

Here's some of the pictures that he sent: