Monday, June 18, 2018

Week 92: "Lord I Believe....Help Thou Mine Unbelief"

Hey Family!

So, it’s been another week here in Colombia, it’s been a great week actually, I can’t wait to tell you about it.

I am sitting here with my journal right in front of me, so I am going to be looking at this to see what happened this week. It has been a lot. It says that June 12th, that was actually Michael’s birthday, kind of a cool thing happened; it’s almost 11 o’clock at night. Juan Gabriel just came up to the apartment to give us a cake from Sarah’s (his daughter’s) birthday. Yes it was the 12th of June, same as Michael’s. We went to their house today to teach Viviana’s brother, Leonardo, and just so you know, Juan y Viviana are a couple that we are teaching that are just about to get married. We are just jumping a few hurdles with them on that. But anyway, we were gonna teach her brother Leonardo, but we found them running out of the house to a class that Viviana had. In light of Sarah’s 8th birthday, we did service instead. We cleaned the house with Leonardo, who is 19 years old, and left cake that we bought for Sarah. I guess they wanted to repay us for the favor. Coming here, so late at night, we couldn’t refuse them. So they came to the door, and we live in an apartment complex and so there are bars at the front and a little office that you have to talk to to get in. They came all the way and we hear our phone ring inside the house and we were just doing companionship prayer when we heard it. I had just finished my personal prayer actually when it rang. We were like: “what the heck?’ and it wasn’t even our choice, but Juan Gabriel came up and gave us part of the cake that we bought for Sarah. Sure was nice of them. They actually have a car, which is one of few people that have them. Juan drives Uber with his Dad’s car. So it was really nice of them. I sure love that family a lot. We’ve talked to them just about every day this week. I believe that’s one of the reasons that I feel privileged to be here in this area. I know that you guys have all told me that you are waiting to hear “why the transfer?” I think that was part of the reason. Anyway, I am going to go back to reading:

Anyway, we are teaching Miriam, Viviana’s mother, and others of her family. I just feel privileged to be here. It was a cool thing to do, birthday service, also to commemorate the birthday of my own brother and best friend Michael. Sure do love and miss him.

15th of June- and just like that, I am back in Bucaramanga. Not to stay though, unfortunately. We are here to go to Diamante to see Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the 12. It will be my first time meeting an apostle of the Lord and I am very excited. We arrived here last night at 6:30 and me and my companion booked it over to Floridablanca and up to my beloved first area. Memories of my first days of the mission flooded over me. We went up to the 7th and surprised Cristian and Miladys. I can truly say that it was one of the most special moments of my life to see them again. As Alma said in Alma 17… you know what, I don’t know the scripture in English. So, Alma said “what cemented my joy even more was to see that they were still my brothers in Christ.” They are still my brother and sister in Christ. They are doing excellent and have plans to get married and sealed in Barranquilla. I hope that I can come back to Colombia to see them sealed. When I said that scripture… we went over to Bucarica, I wanted to go see Cristian and Miladys, but they had no idea I was coming. So, we just came in and I opened the gate really slow so that they didn’t hear anything and when the aunt of Cristian opened the door, she screamed. Haha. We walked in and they were so excited! I gave Cristian a big hug and if you don’t remember, they were my first… I baptized them more than a year ago. It was the first time I was able to baptize someone in the mission. Up to right now, they are two of my best converts in the mission. So, it was sure great to go back and see them. There’s a chapter in Alma, Alma 17, and he is walking (I imagine through the jungle) and lo and behold, here come the Sons of Mosiah. They are coming back from their 14-year mission among the Lamanites. They all get so excited and it fills them with joy and Ammon gets so excited that he falls to the ground just because his joy is so full. Alma says that what made my joy even more full was to see that they were still my brothers in Christ. That was really what I felt because Cristian and Miladys are still going really strong. They have callings, they are teaching the Valiant class and Cristian is a Stake Family History Consultant. He is going for his 8th generation in his family tree. For economic reasons, they haven’t been able to make it back to the temple this year. They went one time, but ya. They are looking to get married in Barranquilla. Also, funny thing, my companion, Elder Arredia, was in the area right next to Bucarica, right after I left. I left and like a month later, he got to that area that is right by Bucarica. In that area, in that time, lived the Mom of Miladys. He baptized the mother of Miladys. It sure was great because my companion knew Cristian and Miladys also. So that was… there are not coincidences. But oh, that was such a great experience to go back and visit them. I sure miss Bucaramanga. And actually, that brings me to the next thing that happened….

16th of June, 2018- yesterday was an incredible day. We went from the house of Elder Ostino, to the church in Puente de Provenza. I was again filled with old memories from the first days of my mission. In between visiting my old area, and looking at all of the beautiful views, the mountains covered in green and the people that I loved so much and the perfect weather, I was really sad when I thought about going back to dreary and cold Bogotá. I guess I was feeling a little bit sorry for myself, but I felt God had forgotten about me. I felt that he remembered me when I had a calling as a Zone Leader. Or when I opened an Area and Trained. But now, just as a Senior Companion, without much responsibility at all, I felt useless. I felt that I had somehow failed as a trainer, as a zone leader, or whatever and that now I am here to wait to finish. I felt that President had just put me here because it was convenient for the time that I had left and there was an opening here in Engativá. I felt that my experience as a Zone Leader, executing the transfers and talking so much about leadership strategies, that it was nothing more than that. I felt that the transfer here was nothing more than a leadership strategy that was just an open area that President wanted to put me in just because I only have 3 months left and just because he has to put me somewhere. I doubted my Mission President, a man who I loved and respected. Well… Gary E. Stevenson got to the church in Puente de Provenza at 9:15, and we were all waiting in line on the stairs by the futból court. We were singing hymns when he got there, and he came in a van. From the instant that he stepped off the van it felt different. He got out and he took a photo with his cell phone of all of us there lined up singing hymns. He then called Hermana Sato, who is from Japan, down and started talking with her in Japanese. He served as a missionary and later as a mission president in Japan. She said to me later that night that he speaks very well. Well Elder Stevenson then went with his wife, Elder Montoya (a general authority area 70) and his wife, and President and Sister Laney, to the doorway. He shook all of our hands as we entered in. I felt a peaceful feeling from the moment I shook his hand until the moment when we parted for Bogotá again. But it comes back when I think about the experience. The meeting then started at 10 am on point. Sister Montoya was the first to speak. She gave a stirring talk on Optimism. Then was Elder Montoya. After Elder Montoya was Sister Stevenson. She seemed like a very happy person and I enjoyed her message on Diligence. Then Elder Stevenson spoke. I have better notes on his talk in my Preach my Gospel. He spoke on returning missionaries needing to read their scriptures 60 days without fail, and it will become a lifelong habit. I am determined to do so. He also spoke about needing to keep “finding” after the mission. Finding a wife, that is. Haha. He said: “Elders, this whole time in your mission, your Mission President has taught you how to find. I want you to know that you need to keep finding after the mission. You need to find a woman like Sister Laney to marry. You need to be a man like President Laney is.” That just really struck me. He then said that we should Learn, Earn, and Serve. He said that we should study, then get a good enough job to retire and be able to serve the Lord full time. Then he stopped and said… this is the part that really got to me… He stopped and said: “ I am inspired by the Spirit of the Lord to tell you that your area and companion assignments are inspired of God.” He went on to talk about it and I was just stupefied that God could answer my question in such a direct way. I wont ever doubt revelation ever again. I learned that God knows me. He knew that I suffered when I went from Cucuta. He knows that I miss that place and he cares. He knew that it broke my heart to leave Cucuta but I now know, that it was for something. When Elder Stevenson gave his final testimony, I saw a visible light around him, that wasn’t with anyone else that was on the stand. He then blessed us as an apostle of Jesus Christ and our families with whatsoever thing we should need. What a blessing! That’s my journal entry on that.

So there were just a couple of things I wanted to tell you; first of all, I wanted to tell you about how Elder Stevenson, he literally looked over to the general direction that I was at, and he thought, and you know that the apostles don’t prepare messages when they go to speak to people other than General Conference of Stake Conferences or things, they don’t prepare anything. He stopped and I thought that maybe it was just that he ran out of things to say. But then he said “I am inspired by the Spirit of the Lord to tell you about how your area and companion assignments are inspired of God.” That was kind of a WOW. I felt like he literally read my mind. I was actually feeling really bad that day because I was just looking out at the green mountains, the perfect weather, going to see my old area, and then comparing it with where I am at in Bogotá. Bogotá is special, but it’s ugly. It’s sure as urban as you can get. It just feels cold sometimes. But I received a person testimony right then and there from an apostle of the Lord that that assignment is from God. It has really provided me with a great window to see why I am here. Also, Elder Stevenson talked about getting a testimony. He said that we should teach and then we should finish, and let them know “alright, we have finished, this is our testimony of what we have talked about.” And then give a testimony. That’s exactly what he did. He demonstrated it for us, and when he gave his testimony, I swear, that there was a light that came around him. As I looked at the rest of the people on the stand, it wasn’t around them. It was around him. Then he blessed us. He said: “as an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, I bless you with whatever thing you should stand in need of. I bless your families with whatsoever things they should stand in need of.” So know, family, that you have been blessed by an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ. I have a special testimony that I already had a special testimony about Russell M. Nelson as a Prophet of God, and I don’t know if you remember my story about that, but I will share it with you when I get home. But now I have a special testimony that Jesus Christ has called his Apostles. The church is restored just like it was before. In beautiful simplicity, it has all been restored. You know, I have seen that. Coming back to my area, having left without glasses and coming back with glasses, I can see everything now clearer, why God has sent me here. I am grateful for revelation. I’m gonna be honest, I didn’t believe that it was revelation. But that is when I need to say to the Lord “Help Thou mine unbelief” you know? I will never doubt it again.

Well, I felt as he gave us that blessing that with that blessing, when he said “I bless you and your families with everything that you should need.” That family, if you need something, ask the Lord this week. Not that he wouldn’t already give it to you, but knowing that an Apostle of the Lord in these Latter days has asked that blessing upon you, ask for it with confidence. If you believe, if you can be more believing than I was, you will receive it. I know that is true. Now I am finished, and I want to give you my testimony that I know that Jesus Christ lives. I know that because he has called Prophets and Apostles on the earth. I know in a special way, and with a special witness that that is true. I know that he lives because I have seen the men that he has called and have received a witness. I have also received a witness through the Book of Mormon. Through the Book of Mormon I know that Joseph Smith was a Prophet. I know that Apostles continue to walk the earth today, never to be taken from the earth again. That is my testimony. I leave it with you in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

-Elder Lewis

My original MTC group, reunited for the first time in 21 months! We started out with ten, now six remaining, but going strong!

Me, Elder Varillas (one of my favorite companions) and Elder Villarroel, whom I trained a year ago! First time I´ve seen him since then!

The beautiful Church house in "Puente de Provenza!"

I got to surprise two of the very best people in the world this week! We went to visit Christian and Miladys, the first people that I baptized here in the mission! It was a short visit, but so good!

Close to Bucaramanga. Colombia is really beautiful!

A beautiful little town called San Gil, close to Bucaramanga.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Week 91: To Change and Be Changed for the Better.

Hi everyone! Elder Lewis here in Bogotá, making another recording for the fam!

Well, this week has been…weird, really, honestly. I came from Cucuta on Monday, I left in the night and I left at 7 o’clock at night and got to Bogotá around 12 o’clock the next day. Ya… so it was about 15 ½ hours by bus. It was a lot of fun…but it wasn’t too bad. But I got to Bogotá and there was my new companion, Elder Arredia, and went straight to the area. It sure has been a hard adjustment to be honest. The last day in Cucuta I… wow that was rough… It was the only area that as I left, I just felt like it was ripping my heart out of my chest. I love that area so much. I love Cucuta and all the people that I have met there. It was the area that I had the least success in, as far as number go, but did leave the area better than I found it and I sure did meet a lot of people that changed my perspective on a lot of things. So I think that Cucuta was one of my favorite areas.

Anyway, Bogotá has been a hard transition changing back, I am in an area called Engativá, and Engativá is not too far away, like 50 blocks, alright it’s pretty far away from Suba. I thought it was closer than it really was but it’s not. I got a little bit of culture shock when I got here to Bogotá, because in Cucuta, like, you see everyone out in the streets, especially at night, and not everybody has a smart phone so they get out and play futbol, or soccer I should say, or something else. I got here and Engativá is an area that is pretty well off, compared to Cucuta at least. It really shocked me to get here and see that everybody has, like, furniture. Everybody has things. The majority of people have a computer in their house, which really… in Spanish its mediocosa. It kinda shocked me. But it’s really cool for the work, because you can go and you can show everybody the videos of the church where in Cucuta we had to bring everybody to Frank’s house to get on his television. Haha. But I got here, and first thing off I met our great family, their names are Juan Gabriel and Viviana. Juan Gabriel and Viviana have been investigating the church for about 5 months now and they have got a rock solid testimony. They have just gotta get married. We are trying to help them to get married, so we are going to be helping them, along with the ward, to make keychains made out of plastic that when you put them in the oven you draw on them, like an outline of the Angel Moroni or Winnie the Pooh or something and you put it in the oven and it actually like turns white in the plastic and turns hard. So we are going to try to help them to sell these javeros, keychains. Juan Gabriel drives Uber every once in awhile, but the thing is here in Bogotá, like if you have a car or a taxi (in his case his parents are loaning him a car) you can only drive it on certain days. There’s a law where you can only drive certain days because of congestion. It gets pretty bad here in Bogotá where there are like 10 million people in the city. Imagine that. They both, they have a little business doing that. They make clothing too. But we are going to try to help them sell those keychains so that they can get married. Here it’s about 650,000 pesos to get married. For them, because they both have children outside of their current relationship, that makes it more expensive actually. 650,000 pesos is like 200 dollars. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but here it is a lot of money. They have just got to get married.

We have another investigator named Harry that just got married, and needs to be baptized. His wife is a member and so we are looking at some cool people here honestly. I have met a lot of good people. It has been hard to transition back to Bogotá because it’s pretty cold here. First of all, physically it’s hard. Also the food is different here. It’s like.. I don’t know. It’d be like the transition coming from the dead of summer in July straight to November or October. Here in Bogotá it’s like October but everything is green. It’s really nice…. How do you say it… weather? It’s hard to get used to. I miss the heat and the humidity. Sometimes. I just don’t miss being sticky. Haha. So there you are.

What more can I tell you? Looking at my journal here, and I was really touched, Jessica, by what you did in that Relief Society Activity, it really touched me. I sat in that internet café and I was crying and everybody was looking at me weird, but it really touched me that you would do that and really, honestly, before the mission if I said I didn’t want a package, or at Christmas I didn’t want a present, really honestly, it was more of indifference. It wasn’t really because I was being selfless. But really, the biggest gift that I could have asked for is for help for the Venezuelans. That’s also something that I miss coming to Bogotá. There are still a lot of Venezuelans here in Bogotá just that the culture is not here as much. In Cucuta you experience Venezuelan food, you pick up on the slang and dialect, and everything like that. I actually started to talk a little bit with a Venezuelan accent, where you omit the S’s in just about everything. Haha. I was just really touched that you cared enough to do that. I really learned a lot from the Venezuelans because, I mean you get to their houses and, for example in La Conquista, the area that I would tell you guys about, and they don’t have furniture, a lot of them, you just sit on the ground or they give you a couple of bricks to sit on and you teach them and you really learn the real power behind the message that you have. Maybe it’s not going to help them as much with their physical status, but it will give them HOPE. It will give them the lifestyle that eventually will help them. But more than anything, you give them hope. It’s like what Moroni said when he wrote in Ether: he said that those that have faith can… how do you say it… they can hope for a better world. And really that is the message that we have, and it’s incredible and it’s something that I learned in Cucuta. The real value of our message. It really just set up the way for me to come here and see people with different needs. Maybe they’re not lacking in necessities of life, maybe they have food to eat, in that respect their needs are different from those in Cucuta. But they still have needs. For example, maybe their son is out in the street in drugs. The things that I learned in Cucuta help me to be able to help them.

 So Bogotá is for sure a concrete jungle. It’s cold here, it hangs out around 70 or 75 degrees. It’s pretty nice actually. It’s always overcast, all the parks are very green. This part of Bogotá is different than Suba, Suba is… I don’t know how to describe it… it was dangerous. Haha. But this part, it’s still Bogotá but it’s a lot less dangerous. The streets are cleaner, and it’s safer. So that’s good. You still have to watch your back, but it’s normal. What’s hard to get used to about Bogotá is that life is really fast paced. Everybody is going to things that they need to do. In fact, we got on a bus, Alimentador, it’s a free bus that takes everybody to the terminals of transmilenial, the bus that they have in Bogotá. But we got in one the other day to go to District meeting and I was just bored because nobody was talking to each other. Like no one was talking in the bus. So I started talking with this older gentleman in a wheelchair, and I just said “hi! How’s your day been?” and we started talking and everybody just looked at us and we kept talking, and people started to ask where we were from, and I said “I’m from the United States, he’s from Ecuador” and I dunno, It just seems like everybody here…. I don’t think that they don’t know how to be happy, they just get caught up in worldly things sometimes. It’s very rare to be walking in the street and see someone smiling. It’s hard. The truth is, coming from hot land to Bogotá, especially. But there are good people wherever you go, and the gospel is always the same. We had a good number of investigators come to church yesterday, we found a ton of people and that was good because when I got here, I was like “alright, well Elder, what do we do? Whats the plan?” “well.. not a lot.” So this week was very tedious. There just wasn’t anything to do. So we found a lot of people to teach, and I am hoping to be able to retain them while finding more people this week. But like I said, there are also a few investigators that are further along in the conversion process. So that will be good to help them put that in concrete by helping them to be baptized, even though I haven gotten to know them up until now. I feel privileged to help them to feel… concresar concrete that commitment that they have with God.

Well actually I will read you a little part of my journal: 8th of June 2018. “Today was a lot better. We had 2 lessons in the street and 2 more that were planned. The Lord is leading us. We met a woman while we were buying avocados In the street and today taught her a short lesson on the Book of Mormon. We met her on Wednesday, left a pamphlet, and came back today, which is Friday, and she had read it all. She could progress a lot. We also met a people that were in a park in front of our house. They had listened to the missionaries some 20 years ago and thanks to their service, these people are now listening to us. God has an amazing foresight and plan. We also met Henry, who not even my companion had met, will be baptized on the 23rd. today was a better day. I still feel stressed, but with the Lord’s help, and a positive attitude, maybe this area will come out ok.” So that’s about how I feel. So if you all will, this week, pray for Viviana and Juan Gabriel, and also for Henry, that would be a real blessing. I just feel the need to take a lot of care of them.

Well this recording is long enough I think. Wow. Almost 20 minutes! So I think I am going to leave it there. I know I haven’t shared much at all haha, but here in Bogotá, living the life, and this will be my last area. I am going to try to leave it with a lot of people to teach and a lot of miracles. The Lord has already shown me a lot of miracles, I have really been coming to know my Savior and as I have taught other people I have realized that sometimes in the mission you feel like you have progressed a lot, other times you feel like you haven’t changed. I think it’s a mix of the two things. I do think I have been able to change and I am relying on the Lord to be able to retain that change and continue to change. This week we will be going to Bucaramanga, on Thursday in the morning, we will be going to see an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, Elder Stevenson. I am so excited to go do that. It’s the first time I’ve met an Apostle, and I am looking to receive a witness from the Lord about the Apostles. I know that He will give it to me. I am looking to prepare myself this week as President Laney has instructed us, to repent and to prepare. So I will be looking to do that this week.

Well family, I sure love you a lot, and a shout out, tomorrow is Michael’s birthday, and Friday, I think it was, was Grandpa’s birthday. I forgot on Monday between all the change and transfers and everything forgot to wish him a happy birthday. So if you guys would wish Grandpa a Happy Birthday from me. And Michael, Happy Birthday tomorrow. I sure love you. I look forward to talking to you all here in a couple of hours. I love you all and let me know if there is something that I can do for you guys, alright? Let me know if there is something that you guys want me to bring back from Colombia. Alright? Well, love you so much, talk to you later. Chao!

-Elder Lewis

Mission Tour with Elder Zivic, Elder Lewis is the last on the back row, far right. 

Monday, June 4, 2018

Week 90: Now Entering Engativá.... and Saying Goodbye to Cucutá

Alright, Well Good Afternoon, Family!

I have some sad news, that I will be leaving Cucuta here in about 2 hours. Ya… 2 hours. In about 3 hours then I will be leaving Cucuta. This has been my favorite area. It’s not been for the amount of success that we have had here, but enough. It’s just grown on me so much, the trials that I have faced here, the people that I have met, the people that have strengthened me, and most of all I have come to know a little bit more about my Savior here in Cucuta. It’s really sad to leave. It really breaks my heart. I was having a really hard time last night when they told me.

Well, I guess that I should tell you where I’m going. I am going back to Bogotá. I am going to an area called Engativá, It is actually pretty close to Suba. I remember that when I was in Suba I sent a lot of referrals over to Engativá. It’s pretty close. But I don’t know, It kinda hurts a little bit. I was kinda hoping to go back to Bucaramanga. But as I have thought about it I have mulled it over in my mind, and I have decided that either it’s revelation or it’s revelation, so I am going to do what the Lord wants me to do!

Here in the last week in Cucuta, It has been very fruitful. We have 3 people that are going to be baptized here within the next 2 weeks; Isabella, is being baptized. Her boyfriend is actually taking steps as well. Also, Ilvanis,that’s great but not so great, her husband finally threatened to hit her again and…. She left. She came back the next day and he said that he was gonna leave, so they are going to separate. While that’s really sad for Ilvanis, it’s great news because she can finally be baptized, so maybe that’s a blessing in disguise. It’s been a long time coming. Then we have an investigator named Maria that is going to be baptized here in the next week. I don’t know, all of this makes me just so happy, but at the same time I just don’t get to see the fruits of our labors. But that’s ok. This area has been really interesting because I have really felt like a failure sometimes. No matter how hard we try or how persistent we are things just never seem to get off the ground. The ward has been going downhill for the last couple of months. We don’t have a bishopric, the Bishop and his two counselors, one moved and one went less active. It’s just been kind of a mess. It has been a trying area. But it has been one that has really won my heart over. Another interesting thing is that Familia Salazar, of the family of Alberto, they are just moving to Bogota, and I am going to Bogota too. Wouldn’t it be interesting if we met up in Bogota? I am hoping for that blessing. That would make it all worth it for me. With all of those 3 people that are going to be baptized in the next couple weeks I have seen the same process with other people that have been baptized, and that is the process of conversion. You just see in their lives and in their faces, the way that they talk, that the atonement changes their lives. It’s a great sense of satisfaction knowing that you have been a part of that.

Well, there were a lot of painful goodbyes; Jairo came to our house this morning at 6:30 this morning to say goodbye, and he cried, and I cried, and that was hard. But you know, I am very grateful for the gospel because it will always unite us. This place will always have a place in my heart. Because certainly I have seen the Lord’s hand here. I have seen people healed physically and spiritually through the Priesthood and by the Atonement of Jesus Christ. It’s amazing.

Alright, well for p-day, we went over to Frank’s house and asked him to make lasagna, and he made a GREAT lasagna for us. It was pretty cool! We played card games and we watched a church movie in the Embassy. Well, Elder Prestwich is leaving as well, he is going out as a Zone Leader in Duitama, and he is sure excited about that. I am very happy for him. I have also been able to see him grow and mature in the mission. It has been such a blessing to me to see him grow. I got to be his Zone Leader for awhile and that was awesome. Then after that I got to come to Aeropuerto with him, and I spent a lot of time with him and I have gotten to know him very well and I know that he is a great missionary.

Well, I love you all and I hope you are able to see what happens with the challenge from Russell M. Nelson this week and take his… how do you say it… suggestion or invitation and apply them in your life. I have a firm testimony that he is the Prophet of God. I will share with you when I get home exactly how I know. It sufficeth me to say that the Lord has told me through his Spirit that he is the Prophet of God.

I love you all, have a great week.

-Elder Lewis

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Week 89: Fotos de Familias Especial y Precioso con Elder Lewis

Note from Jessica: Another week where the technology in Colombia didnt cooperate. But that's ok! enjoy the pictures!

This is the Familia Salazar. Bryam, Victoria, and Alberto, respectivally. I really love this family. We have exhausted ourselves trying to help them accept the gospel for the last four months, but now they are moving to Bogotá, and then later the US. Alberto is an ex venezuelan military officer, Helicopter pilot, and a host of other things jaja!

Luz fuentes and her daughter. Another family that I really love. We´re teaching them, and I´ve been tutoring her daughter in English, and guess what? They´re progressing, and she got an almost perfect score on her English test:)

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Week 88: The Miracles of Miriam and Isabella


Well, it’s been another week here in Cucuta. We are walking right now to the internet so sorry if this sound quality isn’t that good. But this week has had a couple of miracles in it. I guess it was Wednesday that we went to an investigator that we have, her name is Miriam. She and her family have been listening to us for awhile now. Their traditions are Catholic, actually, they both have money that they have made selling beaded necklaces that they use to pray, they are called Rosarios. Also, statues of the Virgin Mary and the Saints. If you don’t know about that tradition, just ask Conrad. He will know. Los Santos. So their traditions are pretty set in. But we have had a lot of success with them lately, they have been reading, or listening to the Book of Mormon actually, I gave them my USB to listen to the Book of Mormon. So we went, and it was Miriam, who is kind of a large lady, and has had a couple of accidents where she has fallen down getting in and out of the house. So she was, I guess, walking through the outdoor patio which a lot of houses have here, and she fell and she hurt her back, her pelvis, and her head and when we got there she was in bed. So they just said: “hey, let’s just leave her alone for today.” And so we shared a message with the rest of the family, then afterwards we felt like we should offer to give her a blessing. So we went into her room and there she was actually sitting in a chair, but just like… I don’t know. You could see that she was in a lot of pain. But we talked to her and said: “hi, how are you?” and she said: “I’m really sad. It just hurts a lot. My pelvis, my back, and my head.” More than anything, I would imagine that she was just frustrated that she had fallen again. It’s frustrating when we have a physical disability because of a fall. It’s a hard thing to get over emotionally as well. So we went in and said: “Miriam, would you like a blessing?” and she said yes. I had actually given her a blessing a little while ago with Elder Prestwich. So my companion anointed her and I gave her a blessing. But before that I asked her: “Miriam, do you believe that we possess the Priesthood Authority of God?” and she said yes. “Miriam, do you believe that Jesus Christ can heal you?” she said yes. I said ok. I gave her the blessing and it felt right to just tell her “according to your faith, be healed.” Well, those were the words that were said, then we left. As we left, somebody came out of the house and they always give us food to eat. They said “hey come back, come and eat leftovers from lunch with us!” and we said that we had an appointment at 7, but we will come back. So we came back at 8 o’clock and there was Miriam, in front of her house. I went up to her and she looked up at me and said “you lifted me up.” That’s how she said it exactly. Then she starts to cry. Tears just came out. I sat down right by her and said: “Miriam, you know that it wasn’t us.” and she said “I know. I know that Jesus Christ put his hands on my head through you.” It was just really a sweet moment.

Later on in the week we showed her the video “How to find faith in Christ”. We talked about the miracles of Christ and afterwards we talked about the Priesthood Authority and invited her to be baptized along with Luis, her husband. Now she still doesn’t want to commit to being baptized because of the traditions of her family. She says that she would have to get the whole family together and discuss it. Well, they’re very Catholic. I said: “ok, but Miriam, what greater sign can you have from God?” and she said “I know.” So that was a cool experience this week, I am very grateful that God has trusted us with his Priesthood Authority to be able to bless his children. And honestly, through it, the feeling that I felt going in to give that blessing was that the Lord simply wanted to heal her. This is the second blessing that we have given her that has worked. But this one was a little bit….i don’t want to say more effective, but it was more… it had a little bit more impact. She was really in a bad way. And we came back the next day and she was out actually visiting another neighbor that was sick. Imagine that. The day before she couldn’t even walk. I am a witness that the Priesthood Authority is real. I am a witness that Jesus wants to love us and has a great desire to heal us but the best healing that can take place is Spiritual Healing. In Preach my Gospel it says that to be forgiven of your sins is to be healed spiritually. Thus, the Doctrine of Christ: Faith, Repentance, Baptism, Laying on of Hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end for a remission of our sins. These are the feelings that we need to have. We are trying to help them receive that healing.

Another cool thing that happened this week was with Isabella. Isabella, we were actually teaching a couple of references from Jairo, and she kinda peeked her head through the window a couple of months ago and was listening to us, and then we started teaching her. Now we are not teaching them, because they weren’t progressing (they liked to go out and party more than anything) So we started with her, and then she separated from her boyfriend I think it is, she is 17 and pregnant and she lives in a little house flat, and she takes care of her younger siblings while her older siblings and her mom are working all day every day. So it’s really been cool to teach her because in some ways we’re teaching her and some ways she is teaching us. She reads the Book of Mormon with incredible clarity, It’s not even hard to teach her because whenever we ask her to read she can give us a full on recount of the story of Nephi the first time we came. She told us that she felt like the first time that she saw us, she felt like she knew us from somewhere else. Especially my companion. She said “I felt like I knew you from somewhere else…” Also some of the people from the ward. She said that when she came to church with all of her little siblings, and she came with a small army of little kids, like 5 little kids, with Jairo. She said that “when Elder (?) taught, Elder Prestwich’s companion, I felt this burning and it wasn’t painful… but wow. Why do I feel like that?” It was really cool. So she is becoming converted at 17 years old, even thought she is going to have a child, She’s more adult than I think I am. We have to have permission from her mom to be able to baptize her. Which shouldn’t be a problem, we have actually talked to her mom one time. So we are hoping that will come to pass as well, so that they can repent and come unto Christ.

There are many miracles that happen. I know from my own weaknesses that we are not in this fight alone. I know that the Lord orchestrates the way that he does things absolutely perfectly. Being on the mission has put me in a place to know that and it makes me want to try to put myself in his hands as often as I can. Even if it means not completing his plan, because God’s plan is going to be completed whether by me or by someone else. But really, it’s for me to decide if I want to see miracles. If I want to be the means by which someone can see a miracle, even if that miracle is little or if it’s being completely converted to the gospel. Miracles do happen. They are brought to pass by him. Jesus of Nazareth still does miracles, even to this day.

Have a great week! Chao!

-Elder Lewis

The view from the roof of my apartment. It has an open patio in the back, and I can climb the wall. All of those trees are tropical fruit trees! Mango, Coconut, Mandarina, Star fruit:=)

This is Elder Goncalves modeling one of the two new additions to my bolivar bag collection! This one featuring bills of 100, 50, and 1000 jaja!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Week 87: "As Zion's Youth in Latter-Days..." (and Mother's day call report)

Note from Jessica: We got a chance to chat with Elder Lewis via skype for the last time in his mission on Sunday. He is looking great, happy, and dedicated to the work in Cucuta. We had a great time talking and listening as he bore a powerful testimony of the work in Colombia and Venezuela. He is, as always, true to the faith and sends his love to everyone. -The Lewis family


So this week has been a little bit more of the same, like I told you yesterday…By the way, it was really fun to talk to you guys yesterday. It’s good to know that you are doing well, and the whole family looks different! The craziest was Michael! Crazy alto! He’s really tall! Bekah as well. I dunno, you all just looked really good. I hope you are all feeling good. Mike, you’re about done with your Junior year, moving into being a Senior…. And time is moving right on!

This week on my end, not a whole lot has happened. We fasted two weeks ago, and we fasted this week as well to try and help our investigators to progress. We have seen a couple of miracles from that I think. Isabella, who is reading the Book of Mormon like you wouldn’t believe, she’s 17 years old and she is pregnant. We are teaching her and her family but up till right now it’s been her that has been most interested. Her boyfriend or her husband isn’t really that interested. He is more interested in going out to drink and party. So they separated, for family problems, and looks like she will be able to progress now. It’s hard when you are 17, and you’re going to be a mother, and…. I don’t know. I feel like they still want to do teenager things. But we are going to try and help her as much as we can. That’s how it is. People make mistakes. Pretty bad mistakes. But they will get worse if they don’t start living the commandments NOW. That’s our mission with her and her family. Her family is not really that interested. We are going to keep trying. We have been trying to work with the members more lately, the young men have actually really stepped up and have been giving us good references. Sure is cool to go out with young men, teacher, priest age and they give us good references. It’s just the people that they have talked to. They aren’t even good friends of theirs, just like “it’s my friend’s mom that found out that I was Mormon and she asked me about it so I want you guys to come over with me and visit her.” That’s really cool! We are going to try to start working more with the young people. They’ve been encouraging us to stop using as much… like if a young man has a problem or a young man needs fellowshipping, then we should go to the President of the Teacher’s Quorum, not the President of the Young Men. The President of the Teacher’s Quorum has Priesthood Keys, so what are we doing going to the Young Men’s President when he is just an advisor? So, they told us that from the Stake. So its’ really cool when you go up to a young man and say: “Hey, President, I need your help with a young man” how they really step up and they help. The youth of the church are amazing! It’s funny because here in Cucuta, this is like, they are starting up the second generation of the church. The first generation is getting older and they are about ready to pass the torch to the next generation. So they are telling us, “hey, we are not good leaders. We didn’t have the gospel when we were young. But these kids have the gospel while they are young, so help them become good leaders.” So we win because we get references and GREAT fellowshipping, and they win because they get to learn how to lead and how to really care about someone else. So it’s a really good situation.

Let’s see… we have really just been learning the value of references, or referrals. We are also teaching an English class, and I want to start a piano class because I think I could bring some people in for that. But ya… that’s about it for this week. Ilvanis, we have been able to talk to her husband, Richard, a little bit more this week. We are hoping to continue. There’s not a whole lot else. This week we have a good bunch of stuff planned, so we’re looking good. Well, what else can I tell ya? I think that’s my recording for today. Today for P-day we went up into the remote parts of our area up past La Conquista to go and see what the countryside is like. The countryside is actually pretty desert-y. Where inside the city is green you would think it would be like a jungle outside, but there’s patches the size of your house out there. It’s a green desert. It’s really weird. Maybe I will show you pictures. Before, that’s what all of Cucuta was like. Frank was telling us that when he was a kid, you had to go from one place to another with a machete. Not because of thick forest, but because of thick, thick brush. Not brush, it’s like foliage. It’s not like jungle-y it’s just thick. Thick green desert. I’ll have to send you pictures. But I cant even imagine trying to get through that.

Well, I think that’s all for today. We went to the house of Frank and ate arepas reginas, you take arepas like normal, and like a BLT with arepas. I will have to make it for you when I get home. But ya, I have learned how to make Venezuelan arepas. Really good.

Well family, I will let you go then. I love you all and it was good to see you yesterday. Have a great week. Chao!

-Elder Lewis

Elder Lewis and the zones of Cúcuta at Multi-Zone conference. 

Elder Lewis showed us (his family) this photo on our video call yesterday. The mountains that you see in the background are the city of Ureña, Venezuela. the distance from where Elder Lewis stands at the top of this hill to those mountains is only about 15 minutes by car. 

Monday, May 7, 2018

Week 86: The Death of the Fan

Note from Jessica: Elder Lewis' recording didn't transfer this week, so we have some pictures this time and probably a 2 for1 next week, along with a Mother's Day call report. Stay Tuned, and enjoy!

Bolivar Bag!

"because the money is worth less than the paper it's printed on..." 

In memory of our beloved fan... Delgadito. Fallecido a las 2:40 de la madrugada, 7 de mayo, 2018...
We woke up to hear our faithful fan dying in the middle of the night and smelling burnt plastic. 
Worse was the prospect of sleeping without a fan... 

That moment when you come back to the house at 1:00 in the afternoon to finish weekly planning, and you both have to hang up your shirt to dry...