Monday, October 30, 2017

Week 44!

Hey mom! This week was pretty good! I'm glad to hear Collin is home and had a good time.  I hope to hear some good experiences from him. 

Things here in the good ol' Colombio are good.  We have just been working hard and having a good time.  We had one pretty funny experience yesterday while contacting, haha.  We knocked on a guy's door and started introducing ourselves and trying to share a little with him.  We talked about the importance of family and how key it is, and he goes, "Can you wait five minutes and come back?" So we said yeah, sure, but then he goes, "Hold on," and he opened the door, and invited us in.  Turned out to be his 6 year old daughter's birthday party, haha!  So he told us to sit, and we figured since it was like 8pm it must have been ending and he wanted to listen after, but one after another the girl kept opening presents...with two gringo missionaries chillin' in the middle of the party.  Super weird.  They even brought us over some soda and food.  We kind of talked to some other parents who were there about the mission and our church and stuff, but it was still super weird.  We could tell the party wasn't ending soon, so we said bye and left.  If nothing else, we got his number and we will be calling to set up an appointment :)

We did quite a bit of contacting this week.  It's kind of hard because our area is like more than half apartment buildings so we have already contacted nearly everything.  It's all good...we might just need to do it all again.

Today we went and had a "Halloween Party" as a zone.  It was kind of just playing volleyball, which is still a good ol' time.  The zone leaders brought me my package so that was super rad :) Thanks guys, 'preciate ya.  So I was thinking, for Christmas you guys don't need to send a package. :) If you wanna, just put some money in my account so I can get some cool stuff here.  I know it's kind of hard and expensive to send packages so that could work just as well.  

Soo...kind of tragic story.  Down there in Leticia, I left my English quad in my bag, that I accidentally left on the floor...and the house flooded.  So my English scriptures are kind of destroyed.  You don't need to rush it, but if you get a chance to send a kind of smallish English quad down here, I'd appreciate it :) 

Tomorrow is gonna be a big huge leadership meeting for the whole mission, so all the district, and zone leaders all get together and have a big training thing or something.  I guess we'll see how it goes.  

Thanks for everything guys! Love you so much.  Talk to you soon :)

Monday, October 23, 2017

Week 43!

Hey mom! I know it hasn't been very long since the last time I wrote you, so sadly I don't have a ton to report.  

So the hard thing is, I am HORRIBLE at directions, but the good news is that Elder Hancock is great at them.  He basically already has the area down, and I'm still lost most of the time, haha.  So it's been really good that he's got it down.  

This week we basically just visited members to try and meet the ward and learn the area.  It's been really cool.  This ward has a lot of really good members.  A lot of returned missionaries too and everyone wants to help in the mission work.  So I'm super excited to start getting referrals. Yesterday my comp Elder Hancock had to give his first talk in the mission field in Sacrament Meeting.  It was awesome.  It was based on President Monson´s talk in April.  He did really well.  Everyone was really excited for him.  Especially since so many of them are returned missionaries and they know how nervous the gringos are when they first get in the field.  But, for being his first Sunday in the field, he killed it! 

Today we got to go check out centro again.  It's been awhile so it was fun.  We just kind of walked around and looked at stuff.  It was a good ol' time.  We also went to McDonald's which is always fun.  Almost the whole zone was there so it was pretty cool.  A bunch of other missionaries were there too so it was really cool to see some old friends from the mish. 

Just so you guys know, we have been hecking using the spices you guys sent, haha.  I love it.  Sometimes here when the members can't give us food, they just give us money, so we buy food and run back to the house and cover it in spices, haha. 

Love you guys! I hope everything is going well for you.  Thanks for the letter.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Week 42!

This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased:

Hey mom!  Wow...what a crazy week!  Now, to start off explaining the title, I'm a trainer!  I got the call Sunday night that I was leaving Leticia to go "open" an area in Kennedy called Marsella 3 with my new son [companion].  So yesterday I came up to the mission home to pick up my new comp!  His name is Elder Hancock and he is from Gilbert, Arizona.  I'm super pumped to be out here working with him.  It's going to be an adventure since we are both in an area we have never seen before.  There were just missionaries here a week ago, but for some reason the president pulled them both out, and sent me and Elder Hancock in.  So far so good! 

Also, another cool thing is now I am a district leader! I have 8 missionaries in my district, 4 sisters, and 4 elders.  I'm super pumped. Its going to be a cool experience.  

So, just a little about my area:   Its called Marsella 3, its in the Kennedy zone.  Its considered the "Poopiest" area in the mission.  Thats Colombian for the richest area in the mission.  Its really cool.  It's covered in really cool malls and restaurantes.  Apparently we have a Fuddruckers here, hahaha.  And Pricemart...which is freaking Costco.  Literally, everything is Kirkland brand, hahaha.  So its a pretty cool place.  I don't know the ward yet, but everyone that's been here says its the coolest ward in the whole mission.  I'm super excited to get everything figured out.  It's gonna be a really cool experience.  

Haha, my Marci senses kicked in Monday when I got to my new house with another elder who was staying with me for the night (Elder Cantos, Quito, Ecuador).  We got there and I have never seen a bigger mess in my life, haha.  You would not believe.  It was covered in boxes and papers and crap.  It was pretty bad.  So Elder Cantos and I speed cleaned everything.  It went pretty well, it doesn't look super bad now.  It was at least clean enough for my new comp to be able to come in comfortably.  

So that's about all that's been going on!  It should be really good!  Also, thanks for the package! I love the ties! I'm rocking the polka dot one right now :) and def if you ever send ties, don't feel obligated to send flower ones, I've got a bunch :) Thanks so much mom! Love you.  Talk to you soon.  

Tanner and his new companion, Elder Parker Hancock

Hugging a sloth - from last week's Amazon River adventures

Monday, October 9, 2017

Week 41!

OH.  MY.  GOSH.  You guys won't believe the kind of day we had today.  Haha, I know everyone wants crazy spiritual experiences, but when you live in the rainforest, sometimes you gotta throw in the crazy other experiences.  So, a super nice bishop from Texas named Lucas came down with his daughter to visit for the week.  A while back he called us to let us know he was coming down so see if we needed anything.  The guy used an entire bag just to bring us beef jerky, Junior Mints and ROOT BEER!!! I know it sounds weird...but that's the kind of random crap you miss when you come down to Colombia, hahaha.   So he had a whole bag full of that stuff, and other stuff (markers, colored pencils, etc.) just to give people.  He also wanted us to set up a service project for him when he got here, so we got to go help a recent convert paint their house.  Wow.  I just couldn't believe that he was down here for vacation, and he wanted to offer service to people he didn't even know, and make sure the Elders had anything they needed.  He is just an awesome guy.

So, last night we get a call from him inviting us to go down the river with him and his daughter.  He said he was going to rent a boat and wanted to see if we could go with him to check out some cool (and super remote) villages.  Well, to start off, riding in boats is a COMPLETE no go in the mission.  It even says in the mission manual that we cant get in boats...but it also says the mission president has the right to change these rules according to the place we work.  So we cast lots to see who had to call the president...and guess who had to call... ME.  So I gave the president a call last night and said "Hey, this guy from Texas wants to take us out to an island tomorrow" and he goes "Do you need to go out on a boat?" and I said yeah.  He goes, "Uhhhh..." and I thought he was gonna say no and then he goes, "Alright, go ahead, just be as careful as you can."  And we all flipped, hahaha.  We were all in our apartment doing happy dances.

So today we met up with our good friend Lucas, and he took us to the guy we were going to head out with.  Unfortunately, his daughter was really sick.  But she is a real trooper and wasn't going to miss out on the adventure so she still came with.  So we are out on the water about 15 minutes and she just doubles over and puked right in the boat.  Poor girl puked quite a bit.  Her dad was on the front of the boat, and couldn't get back to her, so he asked us to give her a priesthood blessing.  What a dang experience.  Elder Pond and I gave a priesthood the back of a boat...on the Amazon River. What the heck???  Haha, it was pretty crazy, but a really cool experience.

So our first stop was a place called Puerto Alegría.  Its part Colombian part Peruvian.  But it was crazy cool.  Its just a little village off the coast of the Amazon, but they had all kinds of cool animals.  We got to hang out with sloths....SLOTHS!!  It was super cool.  They are just really slow, but they just rap their arms around you and it just feels like its giving you a hug and they just hang on.  Haha, it's so cool.  Then we got to hold a crocodile, a big ol' snake, and even a porcupine! It was a ton of fun.  Then after that we jumped back in the boat, and went to a place called "Isla de los Micos" or Monkey Island.  It's just a little place where they hand you a little piece of banana and all these cute little monkeys come climb all over you and eat it out of your hand.  It was crazy cool.  After that awesome experience, we got back in the boat and went to a little village.  It was real cool.  Obviously they've just changed all of these little villages to be super touristy, but the people still just live out there in the dang middle of nowhere.  So I bought these bags (I don't know why, I just think the whole Colombian hand bag is like the coolest thing ever) made of a material called Chambira.  I don't know how true this is, but they say that they make chambira by taking this tree bark from some Amazonian tree, and they roll it on their leg into a twine.  Then the weave sweet baskets and bags out of them.  Of course I couldn't pass up the opportunity.  These people literally make them from scratch.  Super cool.   Then after a few good hours of seeing villages and playing with cool animals we headed back to Leticia and are now writing to you guys.

Super cool day.  Super blessed that Lucas came down here and was willing to let us hang out with him.  Really cool guy.

Thanks for the email mom.  I'm glad to hear everything is going well at home!  Ill try and send pics.  Love you, see ya!

Elder Leishman

(no pics from Elder Leishman, but thank you to the wonderful Mercedes for sending these to me!  So fun to see Tanner learning to cook!  I hope to see pics of his amazing day on the Amazon River . . . someday! But I did google the places he visited.  Incredible!)

Monday, October 2, 2017

Week 40!

Hey mom! About the Texas dude, he called us and said he couldn't get the number to work, I must have said it wrong. Oh well. It's all good.  He says he is still bringing beef jerky so it's all good. I already have plenty of packages anyways :)  And don't even worry about the length of the letters.  I love hearing about what's going on at home and your the one who really tells me, hahaha.

This week was good!  We made a big effort to set goals, and look at them every day and every night to make sure we planned according to the goals, and how to achieve them.  We made sure to come home every night and look at what we did throughout the day, why we met our goals, or why we didn't.  It seemed to help us a lot.  We have the goals written up on the board on the wall so we can look at them and update out achievements every day.  I think that is why we are having a lot more success.  

Like I had written in previous weeks, we weren't having a lot of success in finding new investigators.  We couldn't get references, and the people for some reason wouldn't listen to our message.  But this week, we changed our approach.  We tried new things and we had a lot more success with it.  Also, God saw our hard work and diligence and helped us out.

The other day we were walking to the bank to pay a bill, and we walked by a girl talking to her friend.  She kind of stared at us as we walked by so we said hi and just kept walking.  So on the way back, we passed her again.  After we got about 10 feet passed her she goes "Elders!" and we turned around to go talk to her.  She introduced herself, and told us that she was less active, and that her parent want us to come visit them.  So we set a date to pass by there house (They live wayyy out there in the middle of nowhere, we have to go in a bus).  So early this week we went clear out there to visit them, and it turns out that the parents were non-members.  They wanted to get baptized awhile ago (like 6 years ago) but couldn't figure out the whole marriage papers thing, so they ended up getting pretty discouraged and stopped coming.  

So, a little background:  One of the requirements for baptism is that if they live together they have to be married, obviously.   The hard part is that Colombia makes is really hard for anyone to get married.  If they aren't from this part of the country, they have to call and get there "marriage papers" sent here from the notary where they were born.  You cant even change it and say "Hey I live here now." They just stay where you are born.   AND they can't just email it or anything. It has to be sent by mail.  And as everyone knows...the mail system here is not the best.  So it's a real struggle to get some people to baptism because this process can take months, and if there is even the slightest complication (If they have kids with another person, previous marriage, etc.) it makes it cost a lot more, and take even longer.

So sadly, when this family (the Rodriguez family) tried to get all there papers going, all the elders got transferred at the same time, and nobody knew who they were or how to get to their house.  We didn't even have a teaching record or even a person who knew them.  So by a miracle, we were able to find the daughter in Leticia, and go out to meet the whole family.  I could just feel that God held on to these people for us, or held on to us for these people.  They are awesome.  Although they are still pretty discouraged, i know they can do this.  

Also, there is an area here in Leticia called Victoria Regia.  In Victoria Regia, there is a  small neighborhood where basically every person on the street was baptized, but went less active.  Not really sure why, but it seems to be a Letician curse.  So we were down there contacting, and we met a lady named Cindy.  We introduced ourselves as missionaries for the church, and she goes "Yeah I know you guys, my husband is a member" so we took down there information to try and pass by some day.  We kept calling and passing but we could never find the family when the man and the woman both were home.  One day, we called, and they said "Yeah, come by tonight and we´ll both be here" so we stopped by, and WHATAYA FREAKIN' KNOW, they were both home.  We got to teach them both.  She seemed to be interested in learning more about our church, and he seemed really excited to be remembering the testimony he had gained so long ago, and seemed excited to get it back.  

So yeah, that has been this week.  Just some things I thought you would like to know is that we have been getting up early lately to go to the church and play frisbee.  It's super good exercise because it's just running the whole time, haha.   Also, today we went for a run to go check out the Amazon River, and we ran into a rad native dude who just wanted to chat.  They always love chatting, so I was just like "Hey can I take a picture with you?" and he was like yeah sure, haha.  I can't remember his name, but he is a fisherman.  He fishes for a fish called Pirarucú.  Its pretty much my favorite thing about the amazons.  It's GIANT and a super cool looking fish.  And on top of that, it tasted really good.  He says it takes 2 or 3 days to catch just one.  All the little gift shops sell wooden pirarucú so you know I've got a bunch of them, hahaha.  

I know I've been pulling out  a lot of money lately, I promise I won't do it as much when I'm in Bogotá.  I just need to make sure I get all the cool Letician things while I'm here.  Today I got a sweet shoulder bag made out of material called Chambira.  Its something I haven't seen anywhere else in Colombia.  They say its made from some tree out there in the amazons, and it's super durable.  It looks rad and only costed me 35.000 pesos (a little over 10 dollars).  Sorry I'm s´dang expensive.

Thanks for everything!  Preciate ya.  Love you!

 Multi Zone Conference (pics courtesy of Elder Gavin Murphy)

Elder Gavin Murphy and Elder Leishman

There was nothing in his letter about it, but it looks like Elder Leishman has a case of Pink Eye. :/

Monday, September 25, 2017

Week 39!

Hey Mom!

Well, this week wasn't perfect, but it was 100% an improvement!  It'took a lot of talking, and studying, and thinking.  But we made some changes in our approach, and I think it will help.  

I think with the rainy weather, people got colder, haha, because no one will let us come in. So we spent personal and comp studies, and even weekly planning just trying to figure out how to make our contacts better. We came up with the idea that people here really don't get the point of another church (because there are TONS of churches down here) so we decided we were gonna start bringing around a little DVD player we have with us, and when people try and deny us, or give us a "Hmm...does it take a lot of time?" we say "Hey well we have a 7 minute video that explains a lot about our church, do you have 7 minutes?" and they always say sure. So then we just watch the video, and then ask if they liked anything, and almost every time, they open up. Especially since the video talks a lot about happy families and people love that stuff.  So we have been contacting a lot with that.  We are still studying every day ways to make our teaching and contacts more simple so that even small children can understand.  Hopefully we are getting somewhere.

So that's about what we have been up to this week! Still having a lot of fun.  That's something Elder Pond has taught me about contacting. Contacting kind of sucks, so you just need to have fun with it.  We have realized that when the people see us having fun with is, they see that we are just normal people, and not just robots with ties.

Thanks for everything mom! Thanks for the letter.  I hope everything is going well at home!  Sorry that Collin turned 18, I'm sure he didn't mean to.  Don't worry, I'll be home in no time, and I'll hang out with
you guys.  Love you! 

Monday, September 18, 2017

Week 38!

Hey Mom! Thanks for the update.  I appreciate it!

This week was another tough week, but it's all good.  Like you already know, we spent a few days in Bogota for a training.  They make us go up to Bogota quite a bit for how big of a pain it is.  We all have to take a flight up there and spend like 3 days out of our area.  But i'ts all good, Bogota is cool and the trainings are always great.  

During this training the presidente talked a lot about our studies and how to make them better, and more focused on our investigators.  It was pretty cool.  President Baquerizo and his wife ALWAYS give really good trainings.  We learned a lot about how to organize our study time better and more efficiently to get the most out of it.  He used the example of Moses when he received the law from the Lord.  He had to "climb the mountain" to speak with the Lord.  The law wasn't just a "hey this could work...ah maybe this is better."  He had to climb the mountain, and spend a ton of time up there to make sure they got the perfect thing.  Then he used the example of Alma and Amulek.  It says that before they went out to teach the people, they spent a lot of time in the house preparing.  So the President explained that every morning during our studies, we need to be climbing the mountain in our studies to make sure we are planning exactly what our investigators need.  He used the phrase "receive the revelation first, and then go out to share it with the people."  I liked it a lot.  Real nice training.

Then we got back from Bogota, and we were missing half of our stuff, and we still didn't have a phone.  HECK.  So we just tried to endure this week.  It was tough because a lot of appointments fell through that we would have known about if we had a phone, so we spent a LOT of time walking around, haha.  We even spent 2 days STRAIGHT knocking doors, and with not a lot of success, hahaha.  We are entering the rainy season so maybe the rain is freezing peoples hearts, because dang, we don't have much.  But the truth is, I don't feel all that bad about this week.  Although our success was low, we worked hard and diligently so I can't be mad.  We just gotta keep going and not mess around to make sure we do the best with the little time we have.

The real good news is that the Zone Leaders flew down to Leticia today, and they managed to get a hold of our bags.  So we have all of our stuff back.  YYEESSS.  We were stressing out a ton over them and we got everything back and all is well so we are pumped.  

Today for P Day we went back into Brazil to buy some cheap groceries.  It was good as usual.  I got to practice my Portuguese, although it's not very good.  Haha, one lady goes "Do you speak Spanish?" and I said yeah and she went, "I'll understand your Spanish," so I must not have sounded very good, hahaha.  I can't complain, it's coming and I'm not really studying so it's all good.  

Happy birthday shout out to my bro Collin. Love you dude, you are number one.  Just so you know, being 18 doesn't mean you are an adult.  You can still do stupid crap, but you just can't get caught.

Thanks, Ma! I don't know if you received a call from anyone yet,  but there is a guy from Texas who is headed down here on a fishing trip and wants to bring us some stuff down.  I gave him your number so you could talk to him.  All the elders down here were thinking some homemade American stuff like cookies and scotcheroos would be super rad.  But you really don't have to send anything if you don't want.  I know you guys have already sent a ton of stuff.  Thanks for the write, love you!

Love - Elder Leishman

Tanner and his new companion, Elder Pond

Happy birthday celebration, courtesy of Mercedes, for Elder Argye!