Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Week 48: Goodbye Bogotá, Hello Zone Leader in Sogamoso

Muy Buenas Tardes Familia!

I am calling, for the last time, from Jordán, from Bogotá. I have already let you guys know that I will be going to Sogamoso, ya that’s Sogamoso. It’s in a place called Boyacá. Boyacá is a departamento or a department. It’s kinda like a state but it’s full of little towns, and there are people, I have heard that they are more humble, it’s a little city. I have heard that it’s smaller than Bucaramanga, which makes me think that it’s kinda big. It sure isn’t Bogota, which is HUGE. I have also been called as the Zone Leader going there. My new companion is Elder Taboada from Peru. That should be pretty good. A little bit about my new area, from what I know, is that Sogamoso is a little town outside of Bogotá, it’s about 4 hours outside of Bogotá, It’s about the same temperature and climate, but my zone is only 14 missionaries, but geographically it’s the biggest in the mission. We have our zone that is located in Sogamoso, but we also have Yopal, which is located about 4 hours away from Sogamoso, or 8 hours away from Bogotá. So we will be going there once a transfer. I am super excited for Yopal, I have always wanted to go there. That’s a small town, and it’s hot. It will be interesting going to Sogamoso, as of right now I have had the opportunity to serve in locations where there has been clean water. That will not be the case in Sogamoso, I don’t believe, and less so in Yopal. SO I will be using my filters out there and stuff, and trying to be careful. I don’t know, it’s not a big deal but here in Bogotá, you can actually drink water from a tap just fine. Same in Bucaramanga. But in any of the other areas, you cant drink out of the tap. Um… that’s really all I know!

This is a story: so we got the transfers last night, Sunday night, and I find out that I am going to Sogamoso and I am super excited, I get all packed and by the time I get all packed it’s like 2 in the morning. And yes, I did have permission to stay up, because they told us to pack our things just in case we would be leaving early in the morning, because they didn’t know. So I packed up all of my stuff, make all my bags and everything. I went to bed at 2 am and woke up at 6:30 and did the rest of it. By the time I finished, I sat down on my bed and the phone rang. My companion got it, and it was the Zone Leaders saying “Hey, Elder Lewis, you are going to be leaving on Wednesday.” And I honestly thought it was a joke.  I was like: “Elder, that’s not funny.” And they said “no really! Call them!” and… yep. So I will be leaving on Wednesday, the reason being is that there is a group of missionaries coming in, and I will be taking them to Sogamoso. So right now all of my instructions are go to Sogamoso. I don’t know where Sogomoso is… haha. But we will be taking a bus to Tunha, and from there to Sogamoso. That’s what I know. Should be pretty easy. I think I am taking 2-3 missionaries and that’s it. But ya… I am very humbled at the opportunity I have to serve as a Zone Leader, just so you guys know that it’s not going to my head… well I will back up a little bit. This area, Jordán, I am grateful for the opportunity that I have had to serve here. It has been the refiners fire. I go there having 7 months in the mission, and thinking that I was ALL THAT for having 7 months in the mission and being called to be a District Leader. That turned out really badly for me. I had a hard time because of my pride. It just caused friction. When you are living with someone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, just the littlest bit of pride can seep into the cracks and really cause problems. So that’s the underlying problem that I have learned that caused problems in my first companionship and then my second companionship. My companion that I was training, I really think that he came prepared. I didn’t train him, he trained me. What I mean by that is that he came here, he has 24 years, or he is 24 years old, and I’m 19. I was thinking about it and that would be like me being trained by a 14 year old. But still, he remained so very humble and he just listened. And If it wasn’t important, he just went with it. I learned so much from him in that area, in humility. I hope that I can put it into practice. Really, honestly, I will be going to Sogamoso a much different missionary than the one that came here to Jordán. It’ll be a different experience I am hoping because I will be going willing to listen, willing to learn and not thinking that I know how to do things, because I don’t. But willing to learn things, and willing to try. That’s what I have learned here in Jordán, and many other things. A little bit of diligence; just because things don’t go right, because so many things didn’t go right here, but that doesn’t make an excuse to make excuses. That just means that we have to get up and try harder because there is something that we can do better. I read in Preach My Gospel that a good missionary, a missionary that has the spirit, wont make excuses, wont blame it on circumstances. That’s something that I have had to learn. It is easy to blame it on the circumstances. They wont do this or that. But really, honestly, you have to look at “ok, what do they not understand? What do they need?” and you have to work with the Spirit to try to discern that. It takes a lot of energy, but you have to do it. That’s something that I have not mastered, that I am hoping to get better at. I have also learned how to love people. There have been some people that have really hit my rock out. We were in a lesson with Hermano Pedro, a Catholic with his family. His family has accepted the Gospel and has accepted to be baptized here pretty soon, and he just cant see why the Catholic Church isn’t as good as the Church of Jesus Christ. We explain it to him, and he just doesn’t get it. I don’t know. It just made me realize that I just have to love him more. I need to love him more so that I can have the Spirit to be with me so that I can discern his needs. I guess we will see.

I have had many disappointments here in Jordán. I am willing to take all of those, push forward, and be a better missionary. I leave my companion with full confidence. Maybe if he doesn’t know what to do, he is willing to find out. I really do love this companion. He has been my favorite. I have given him a hard time, but he is just so humble and so willing to do the work. I have a lot to learn. I am nervous about this new opportunity that I have, but I am excited to learn. I am approaching this from a lot different angle than I did when I got here to Bogotá. I hope. I know that will be the same way throughout the rest of my life. When I get home, I think that will be the hardest transfer of all.

Well that’s been enough thinking out loud for today. This week has been a little rough as far as the work goes, on Friday we had 6 appointments, one of them held up. But it gave us the opportunity to go out and meet some new people. If an appointment falls through, that means that God has got another person for you to teach. Go do it. It ended up being a blessing, because we had a member with us the WHOLE day. We had this well planned. Apart from 3:00, we had an appointment every hour till 9. We had someone who would accompany us to all of them, including our ward mission leader Daniel, a returned missionary of 3 months. But it ended up being a blessing in disguise because all of our appointments fell that we were going to go to with them. But it gave us the time to say “Well, Danny, who would you like to go visit? How can we help you?” So we went and visited acquaintances, ya people he knows, and we met some great people. There’s no such thing as coincidences.

Well, family, thank you so much. Thank you so much for your support, I love your letters, keep them coming. Even though I don’t have time to respond to all of them, I will do my best. Thank you so much, I love you all and I don’t know if I can say that I will be thinking of you all the time, because I am a Zone Leader, and I don’t think I will have time to think. I don’t know what awaits me, but I am hoping to go about it humbly. To go about it in a way that I can learn what my Heavenly Father would have me learn.  Love you so much family. I will see you later. Chao Chao!

-Elder Lewis

Elder Lewis, Elvira Blanco, Elder Villarroel

Monday, August 7, 2017

Week 47: A Baptism and a Trail of Miracles

Hallo Familia!

That’s right. I’m actually speaking Dutch! I actually met a guy from Holland today, I will tell you more about that later on but, I hope it has been a good week for you guys. First week of August and it’s been a pretty good week for us too. Families are progressing, finally.  A couple of our families started progressing this week that were dormant for a while. I did have the opportunity, the amazing opportunity, to baptize one of the best investigators that I have ever had. Her name is Elvira Blanco. On Saturday at 5 or 6 o’clock, she made covenants with her Savior through baptism. I was the one with the honor of doing that. The baptismal service was actually at the Stake Center, there were 4 other baptisms that happened, it was going to be a “Noche Blanca”, there was going to be 8-10, but a few of them fell through. Thank goodness that ours did not. And she was confirmed on Sunday, by Hermano Corán, someone who has helped us with her a lot. So, she actually gave her testimony afterwards and she has read the Book of Mormon twice. She is going for the 3rd time. She made this analogy, she said “if there are any investigators here, I invite you to ask of God and not like the people of Ammonihah did, but with a real heart, with a real intención.” And I don’t know, and she just threw out a bunch of Book of Mormon references, she really made herself so proud. She told me as we were leaving the baptismal font “ Look, Elder Lewis, now, I am making a promise to you and to God that I am going to endure to the end.” And I totally believe it. She’s amazing.

The rest of the week was pretty good, we had a couple of really good days with some good lessons. Familia Lopez-Medina, after teaching them for 4 months, are finally going to be able to start attending church. She has been praying, the mom has been praying, for a long time that the Lord would help her arrange her work so that she could attend on Sunday. Her shift just got changed from the morning to the afternoon and now she can attend. That was really awesome. I was super excited. There’s another family, she’s less active, and he’s investigating, and he got on his knees after one of our lessons and told the Lord that he really wants to change. About how he wants to quit the liquor and the bad things in his life. That was the highlight of the week. Hearts are changing here in Bogotá Colombia. I am so happy to be a part of it.

I’m trying to get situated here at the computer. I’m gonna pause this recording, actually no I’m not because the last time I did that it didn’t end well. So I am going to try to type and talk at the same time because I am really low on time. That brings me to another thing: for p-day we went to Monzarate, that I am told is very famous. I don’t know, I had heard of it before my mission, and it was really cool to go. Basically it’s a Catholic Church on top of a mountain that overlooks all of Bogotá. I will send pictures in a little bit, but it was really cool, all of it. We went up, and it took us a little while to get up there because the Sister Missionaries that we were with were a bit slow, but… we got up there in about an hour, it’s a good hike. There were a bunch of stairs. There some really interesting things that we found out; supposedly people believe that if you need a miracle, you can walk up the whole trail barefoot and it’s a trail of, I would say cobblestones but not really, it’s a trail of stone. On the Semana Santa, or Holy Week, in April, there are a bunch of people who do it crawling. I had a hard time, well we had kind of a hard time doing it on our feet!
Well, you get up there, and if you also need a miracle, you can walk back down backwards. Just a second….

(Note from Jessica: there’s a big pause here because Elder Lewis is speaking to his companion in some very fast Spanish. No Comprendé, but I am sure it’s important. J)

I am trying not to interrupt this.. what do you call it… recording so that we don’t get cut off again. So anyway, we went to Monzarate, people think that if you go down backwards you get a lot of blessings, we saw a lot of people walking backwards. It was kinda weird. We got up there and we took a tour of the church, and I am so glad that our church focuses on the fact that the Savior lives, and that we don’t worship idols. That’s always good. Here in Colombia, there are stores of “Religious Essentials” so you go and you buy your necklaces and beads, necklaces and bracelets that have beads and they do what’s called a Rosár and they touch a bead and they say a prayer, and then they touch a bunch of different beads and say different prayers. I don’t know, it’s their religion, but I am glad that we worship the living God.  We went up there and we went back down, and we got here at about 5:30ish so I am not going to have much time to chat with you guys, sorry about that. But I guess that’s how it works sometimes. That being said, I think there’s a transfer coming this week, so I don’t know that you should expect to hear from me until Tuesday, or maybe not for another week. Well, I love you all so much, and I think that’s all that I have for you. love you so much and thank you for all your emails. Have a good week, and Chao Chao!

-Elder Lewis

 Elder Powlus and Elder Lewis

 La Iglesia Católica de MonZarate

 Bogota is pretty big....

The Following is a note from Hermana Laney, Elder Lewis' Mission President's wife: 

Hello Sister Lewis, I thought I’d send you this photo of your cute son! As I go around to the zones, 
some of the missionaries ask to have their “profile Photo” changed, so I take their picture 
and updated it on the mission roster. Elder Lewis is a wonderful missionary, always willing 
to help out and is such a good example for the other elders in his zone. xox hermana laney

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Week 46: Prayer and Repentance on a Street Corner

Hola Familia Lewis!

Not a ton has happened this week. Familia Guerrero, we helped them on Saturday to move, we left from an activity in the stake with 6 missionaries to help them move from their 5th floor apartment. Man, we found out that they have a lot more problems than we thought. Well, we knew about their problems but one more that we found out about is that Daniel is not being completely faithful. It’s just been… so hard for her, for Jennifer. We have been trying to help them get out of their house because they’re past the eviction date. We helped them on Saturday and we helped them again because we didn’t get everything on the small little truck that they hired. So today we are playing micro with all the other missionaries and we get a call from Jennifer that said “hey we really need you guys’ help, they’re going to evict us today if we are not done by 12 they are going to call the police and throw our bags out of the door” and stuff like that. So we went and helped them out the rest of the way and we are going to help them again tomorrow to try and get everything. It’s a long story. It was kind of a battle of conscience today because going and doing service on P-day, because it actually says that if it’s not an emergency, don’t do it, is what it says in the missionary handbook. Don’t do service as a missionary… wait… did I just say don’t so service as a missionary?... don’t do service unless it’s an emergency… EMERGENCY… good crap… but ya. We went and did that today. The rest of the day we went bowling. But ya, that was about it.

This Saturday we are going to have a baptismal service, finally, for Elvira Blanco, It’s going to be a Noche Blanco “White Night”. In a stake, we will have about 10 people being baptized including Elvira. We also have some new investigators coming out of the woodwork that are very prepared and are going to be baptized shortly after I leave I think. Yep. But I’m not bitter. Haha. But I just wanted to share a quick experience with you guys. Monday, after I left internet, I went to a family’s house called family Muñoz, and two appointments had fallen through that night and I wasn’t feeling that good. I wasn’t feeling the spirit. I remembered a counsel from my zone leaders that said “if you don’t feel the spirit, stop and repent. Figure out what you are doing wrong and ask Father in Heaven for forgiveness.” I remembered that. So we stopped and had a prayer right there on the street corner. We weren’t sure what we were gonna teach because of the lateness of the invitation to the family’s house. Before we couldn’t think of anything to teach, we couldn’t think of what they needed, nothing. But after we said that we felt the spirit come back and it came clearly to my companions mind what we were gonna teach. He just thought about a scripture that he had been reading the other day and so we went and taught that and needless to say, it was a great lesson and they invited us back on Sunday to dedicate their home. I had the privilege of dedicating their home by the power and authority of the Priesthood. It was really special. But I was thinking about it right after the prayer that we said on the street corner, and I felt so privileged that my Father in Heaven would give me again his spirit. A servant so ungrateful, that he would give me that help again. For that I will be eternally grateful. It hit me with strong feelings. I had tears come to my eyes as I thought about it. I know that our Heavenly Father is ready to forgive us when our repentance is sincere. I know it. I know that he will give us his spirit again. That things will be alright. It doesn’t matter how far we have to go, if it’s just a prayer, or if we have to spend a little more time on it. I know that repentance is always worth it, and that after that, we can do miracles.

I love you guys so much, I will talk to you next week. Chao Chao!

-Elder Lewis

Monday, July 24, 2017

Week 45: Finding New York in Colombia... plus Mariachi's!

Muy Buenos Tardes familia!

Well, this week we have had some interesting developments. We had a reference… what’s it called… I think it’s called a referral from a little while ago and we went and contacted her, she was looking for how to get to know Jesus Christ I think is what she told us. Then she found, and she asked for a Book of Mormon and for the missionaries. Then we showed up and from that point we have gotten to know the family pretty well, we have actually gotten to be really good friends with them, and well… right now we are teaching them. Joanna is the name of the daughter that looked up and she told us that she was reading the Book of Mormon, she got down on her knees to pray about it and she felt this unexplainable feeling of peace and tranquility. It kind of set her back, and stayed with her throughout the rest of the morning, while she was doing things throughout the house. When she told us that, at that moment, I was SO HAPPY! I was trying not to like, I don’t know, get up and do a backflip. It was so cool! We asked her: “well, do you think that could be an answer from God?” and she said: “I think so. I think so.” That was an interesting experience, they came with us to a baptismal service on Wednesday that I actually got to...well Elder Johnston played the violin and me and Elder Kelly and my companion and Elder Lopez, we sang “We’ll Bring the World His Truth” in Spanish, which turned out pretty well. The Spirit is always strong in those meetings.

News coming up: we have a Noche Blanca, a “White Night” on the 5th of August. So we are looking pretty good for that. There are going to be 8-10 people baptized that night. We are really excited about that. That will be such a cool experience. We are hoping to bring ALL of our investigators to that. We will be baptizing, that night, Elvira Blanco, who has been super juicioso ugh… juiciosa…. Frickin Español. She has been really really awesome. She’s ready. We just have to fill up the font. But she said that she wanted to wait for the “white night” so we are gonna do that. Should be pretty good. This area has really been hard. It’s hard but it shouldn’t be that hard. I feel like we should have seen more success. but we have had a lot of good investigators coming out of the woodwork, and if I had my heart’s desire, I think I would stay another cambio just because of the people not because this area is pretty vanilla, not a very attractive area. It’s the people that make it worth it. I really think I have made some lifelong friends here.

In other news, Alan, our New Yorker friend, is going to be baptized on the 26th. We were playing futból, we were playing soccer, outside the church one day and he walked up and said: “hey! Are you guys gringos?” and we walked over, and come to find out he was a “New Yoy-kah”. (You have to excuse my horrible New York accent.) But ya, he was kinda rough around the edges, but they taught him and I have seen him to come to all these church events at the Stake Center. All the events at the Stake Center, he has been to them. The baptisms, we spend a lot of p-days with him, he’s kind of a big guy from New York, He speaks fluent Spanish, he speaks Spanish really really really well. He is living here in Colombia for awhile because of his girlfriend. He is going to be baptized the 26th, and he is super excited about it. They kinda pulled a “Best Two Years” and came 3,000 miles to teach someone in Spanish and then they find a New Yorker here. It’s super funny talking to him. He’s all about the Mets, all about the Coney Island Hot-dogs, He’s all about that. He’s all New Yorker. Super funny. When he gets really excited when we are playing soccer, his mouth gets kinda sour, but he’s really awesome. He has become a really great friend to us.

I think those have been the experiences for this week. We went rock climbing today, again. It was really fun. OH! Elder Blair, they had a birthday party for Elder (?) and the rule is that they can only have 2 districts in the same place at the same time, so our district didn’t get to go. But the other 2 went to the birthday party, and Elder Blair and his companion hired a Mariachi Band for his birthday haha. It was sweet. The mariachi bands here are really really good. It’s worth it for the trumpet, Mike.

Well guys, I am sorry that this is been uninformative, but Bogota is still cold, hoping to get moved out to a hot land here in a bit. I think they are going to send me to Cúcuta. I am not sure though. They could send me to Barrancabermeja. But.. that’s all for this week I think. I love you all. Thank you so much, and I will talk to you all next week. Chao Chao!

-Elder Lewis