Monday, December 11, 2017

Week 65: Voicemail and Viracocha

Hey Family!

So I am here walking to internet right now, I just wanted to make this a little bit earlier so that I can focus on talking with you more. This week was fun, more of the same kind of thing. Let see, what happened this week…

Something funny that happened was this morning, I don’t know how you say it in English, but for the voice mailbox system, but in Spanish, when you call somebody and they don’t pick up, it says voz de mensaje, …?.... parte de este momento. And so when the sister missionaries called me this morning, that’s the voice mailbox message. So when the sister missionaries called me it was super funny because they called me and I just said that: voz de mensaje….?... parte de este momento. And they hung up. Haha. They bought it. Then they called again and I did it again. And they fell for it the second time. And we are just rolling. I tried to do it again a third time, but they were laughing so hard in the background that they didn’t buy it this time. So that was funny. Messing with the Sister Missionaries.

Well, we are here with my boy, Elder Coop. He just made us Rice Krispy treats, and that’s pretty poderoso he is with us because his companion, Elder Crestle, like we say in the mission he “died”. Or he went to his house. He left yesterday for Bogotá, so he is with us for the next week until transfers. So we will be partying it up. SACHI PAPA! Sachi Papa is fast food here in Colombia. It is basically like hot dogs, like sausage and fries, cheese, and sauces. It’s really good, but it’s a heart attack. Yep. So that’s sachi Papa. That’s what we ate for Thanksgiving, and it’s really hard on your stomach sometimes just because it’s so greasy.

Alright, so the rest of the week we were working hard. We had kind of a free week this week so we got some work done. Trying to think of anything that we had… no I think this week was pretty much all free. Well, this week, familia Cano that we have been teaching is going to be baptized in a couple of weeks. It’s pretty much all set in stone. They’ve gotten their answer and we gave them the Law of Tithing last night and they accepted it flying colors. It always just brings my mind back to the example of my Dad that when I saw the shop was going through a really hard time, my Dad always told me “well Son, I don’t know how we’re gonna do it, but I know I paid my tithing and I know the Lord is gonna take care of us.” And I get emotional every time that I tell that to people. That example just because I know my Dad is such a great example for me. Thank you for that, Dad. I love you.

This week we actually had multi-zone conference which was really good. We talked a lot about finding people to teach. We set a new goal of having 25 contacts every day or so, for example we are going to talk to 25 people in the streets every day in-between appointments and everything. It’s really been going well for us. We have met some great people just by being able to open up our mouths and talk to them. Illumina el mundo, or Light the World has really been helping us out with that. We are giving out cards of that and again, if you guys haven’t checked it out, you should because it’s really good. Me and my companion gave a short training about that in Multi-Zone conference about how to use it. It’s always good to meet with President and receive instructions from him. I have really gained a deep respect for him, for the man that he is. Sister Laney was sick this week, and so on Friday we had multi-zone and on Saturday we went to Duitama again for interviews with President. We had our interviews, which were good as always, and then we also had Stake Conference this week. Which our Stake Presidency was being released and they were putting in a new one and there were two Seventies there. President Laney, he talked to the Seventies, the General Authorities, and they were actually there while we were doing our interviews. I got to meet one of them. But President asked permission to go to the mission home and care for Sister Laney. I thought that was just so cool. He has given such a good example to us of how to be a good missionary, but also after a good husband. He actually gives us advice about that all the time haha. So it’s been really good to watch the things that he does. You talk with the man and you look in his eyes and you know he is a disciple of Jesus Christ. It’s just fantastic.

This week for P-day we went to the Museum of the Sun again, and it was really fun because I looked a little bit more into the legend of Polchico, which is the legend of a white man who came to the Chibcha’s and he taught them how to live productive lives, live better lives than they were living, and he cast out, well the legend is that he cast out a woman that was teaching false doctrines. We know that that refers to the destruction of all the evil that was there in the land. It was cool because it also said, it also referred to various other countries or civilizations that also had the same legend. Among them was in Mexico, was Quetzalcoatl, which Grandpa told me about that before my mission. And Viracocha in Peru. All the same legend. All in the different countries, here in Colombia with the Chibcha’s, in Mexico and Central America with the Mayans and Aztecs. in Peru with the Incas. It was really cool. Elder Coop was joking around and he put a copy of the Book of Mormon open to 3 Nephi 11 up on the stand and said “this gives the complete story…” it was funny. So that’s what happened this week.

I am enjoying it here in Colombia. I am enjoying it here in Sogamoso. We have transfers coming up and there is a possibility that I am gonna leave but I don’t think so. I don’t want to, I want to stay here for a little longer. The members are so good here. I really love it here and it will be hard to leave. The weather here has been crazy lately. So what it’ll do, like right now, it’s HOT. Like this sun, it’s not hot and humid like it is in Bucaramanga or Yopal, but the sun BITES. Elder Coop gets burned every day.

ELDER COOP: Ya. It hurts.

Ya. That happened. Well, that’s the weather here. Yesterday we got soaked to the skin after it was so sunny and then in the afternoon from one hour to another it just downpoured and we got to the house and we were cold and wet. It was crazy. But I am still enjoying it here. I think that’s all I have got for you guys this week. I had an experience that strengthened my testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ:

We went to teach a family that has a son that has a disability with speech. He looks like he has got a disability with mobility as well, but really it’s just speech. He thinks clearly and everything and he is going to be baptized here in a week. Him and his brother. But his older brother, who is a member of about 8 months, informed us that he had gone out and drunken a beer. Now they are orphans. It’s a house with 4 boys, there’s Jesus, he’s the oldest, there’s Jason, there’s Brian, y Juan Pablo in that order. Jason had gone out and taken a drink of beer and I guess he showed up just a little bit tipsy. And really Jesus gave him a good chastising right there in the moment. Jason felt SO BAD. I told him “Jason, that makes us sad that you went and did that.” He just was so sad and so heartbroken about what he had done. And he was like “I don’t want to listen, hermanos. I am just all sin. I am all mistakes.” He was just feeling sad about himself. But we taught about lesson 3 which is about the gospel of Jesus Christ and about repentance and baptism. It was such a good opportunity to testify with all of my heart that Jesus Christ can erase all of our errors and make us better people if we let him. I just know it’s true. I just saw the light come into his eyes as we taught and bore testimony about it. We just saw the light come back into his eyes and he was Jason again because he just had this hope. It was something small, but he felt it so deeply. I wish we were all that way.

Well family, have a good week. Bye-Bye.

-Elder Lewis

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Week 64: The 1,500 Baptisms Revelation

Hola Familia!

OK, so it’s been another good week here in Sogamoso, there were a couple of really good things that happened this week. One of them was leadership council in Bogotá. I just wanted to tell you guys the experience that we had. So all of this year, our goal as a mission has been 1,200 baptisms, and that’s a number pretty high for Colombia. Colombia is a little bit slower in the work than the other Latin American countries. But President had revelation and he set that goal in faith that we could double our number of baptisms from the year 2016-2017. So we have been working with that all year, and now comes the time to be looking at 2018. It was time to reset the goal or see where we are at. Right now, the mission is at approximately 750 baptisms. Which is an increase of 150 baptisms from last year and we are not even done yet. So that was really good. So it came time to reset the goal for this year. We were thinking about it, like what would be the best thing, and we sat there in council with all of us there there I think there are 11 zones in the mission, so that’s 22 missionaries, zone leaders, and various hermanos capacitalores  or mission training leaders and President and Sister Laney.

So we were all there, the seats are all in a half circle and we were all there talking about it, people were standing up giving their opinion saying like “I think we should bump up the goal this year because look at everything we have learned and look at how much progress we have made.” I thought of it as Zion’s Camp. Maybe we are not going to reach the goal, but look at everything that we have learned. It was the same with Zion’s Camp. I shared that with the council, and then that being said they came back from Zion’s Camp to achieve a bigger goal. So my opinion is that we should jack up the goal. So almost everybody agreed that we should jack up the goal. We talked about it, we voted on it, and that was right. Then came time to set the number. Some said 1,400, others 1,300, others 1,500. And then President said: “alright, here is what we are going to do. We are all going to get on our knees and Elder Lorr and Sister Orsey are going to offer a prayer and we are going to ask the Lord what his will is.” I turned to my companion and I said: “this is gonna be cool!” So we all got on our knees and we prayed about it for a good long time. Personally, it was so cool. I have never been able to say that I have received revelation that clear before. The number 1,400 passed from my mind. Immediately I knew it was wrong. The same with 1,300. So we sat down and we started to express our opinions about it in council. My companion stood up and said: “President, I believe that the will of the Lord is 1,500 baptisms for 2018.” At that moment, just the confirmation of the Spirit just hit me. Then everybody stood up and shared their experience and were like “ya, that’s right! I received that answer too!” Then we all got on our knees again, and Elder Rosorio offered a prayer again to see if that was right. I have never had such a cool feeling before. It was a feeling of peace, and something burned in my chest. It stayed with me. After that, we took a break for lunch, and it stayed with me all through lunch. Everybody was just like in this state of peace. We knew that that was the Lord’s will. So that’s the goal. It was so cool. I wish I could describe to you guys what that looked like! There are 36 missionaries on their knees, praying to God, one of them out loud and the rest in their hearts, and receiving an answer from the heavens. It was marvelous to behold that process. It taught me a lot about receiving personal revelation, and a lot about how we can receive personal revelation in our respective spheres of responsibility. Like a Father for his family, a Zone Leader for his Zone, a Mission President for his Mission, and the President of the Church for the whole Church. It’s really, really marvelous.

As far as everybody with baptismal dates goes, we are still on track to baptize at least 5 or 6 here in the next couple weeks. So keep praying for them. They are Adali Cano and her family, her two children, Familia Alarcon, Liliana y Juan Diego. Also, Brian and Jason Medina. They are all on track to be baptized in December and I am just so thrilled. We will be baptizing the family Robles here in January if the Lord permits me to stay here. I hope that he does.

Also, I wanted to share with you guys an experience that happened to Elder Colvin. Elder Colvin is from Harrisville, Utah. He is serving in Yopal right now, that’s part of our zone. They had a lesson with 4 new investigators where they were just ahead of them the whole lesson. “ya, ya we know the apostasy was there. That happened. Ya!” Then when they invited them to be baptized, they said the typical South American response: “We are already baptized. We were baptized in the Catholic church.” Then Elder Colvin was just like: “do you remember what we talked about with the authority?” and they were like “Oh ya, that’s right…” and then one of them was like: “ ya I was baptized when I was 8 months old. That doesn’t make any sense!” They were just so excited at that point. And then they re-invited them, and the baptismal invitation is this: “Will you follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized by someone who has the priesthood authority of God?” and they said it would be hard. It would be a hard change. And he said: “ya, well maybe it’s going to be a process. But will you follow his example?’ and they still said it was going to be hard. Then he (Elder Colvin) felt the spirit, and this is where Elder Colvin, who has almost two years in the mission, I can just imagine how this was, he said: “if Jesus Christ were in the room and he was telling you, Son, come follow me, would you follow him?” and he said: “of course!” and then he said: “As representatives of Jesus Christ, we are here to make the same invitation. Will you follow the example of Jesus Christ by being baptized by someone who has the authority of God?” and at that moment, me hearing that, I just got chills. It was so cool hearing him preach with authority like that or to hear that story. He just felt the spirit and they accepted the invitation. Those are the best moments of the mission. It really goes to show you that if we feel like we are not ready to start following his example 100%, we are making the wrong assumption. I just know these things are true.

Those are what I wanted to tell you guys this week, I am doing well, I am happy, Just keep praying for me that I can keep overcoming all of my weaknesses. I am happy to be here, maybe a little stressed at times, but I am happy. I love you guys. Chao!

-Elder Lewis

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Week 63: Lost a Plane, but Found a Family

Alright! So Happy Thanksgiving Family!

It was good to talk to you guys, it has been a great week, especially since we have been in the area all this week. We haven’t had any interruptions so we have really just made a lot of progress in the are this week. I am really enjoying this companionship that I have right now, just because my companion has so many good ideas. I am learning a lot from him, especially about how to be organized about everything. I really love that about my companion.

 We have this family named familia Cano that will be baptized on the 23rd of December, and they are really great. I want to share with you guys how they received their answers about the Book of Mormon. So Adali, who is the mother, received hers because when she asked about it, she got a really peaceful feeling and she felt like she wanted to cry. Then her daughter felt about the same thing but on another separate occasion. She has 14 years… crap… she is 14 years old and is so mature about reading the Book of Mormon and asking, I can just see their change. And then Camilo was the coolest answer that I think I have ever heard on my mission. He prayed and asked about the Book of Mormon, and he said that he felt like he was in another world. He felt so much peace and his mom was calling him, but he didn’t answer just because he didn’t want to disturb the peace that he was feeling. These are just examples of how the Lord answers your prayers when you ask about the Book of Mormon. So that was really cool.

Then we have a family called Holguin-Medina. They are fantastic. They are a group of young guys ranging from like 13 years old…wait no there’s Julian, Julian is like 3 to 25 and they are orphans. Their brother Jesus is taking care of them because their parents died. Jesus was baptized a little while ago, in May, and we baptized Juan Pablo a couple months ago. Now we are going to baptize Jason and Brian is what we are planning on, we just have a couple of things to get out of the way. Jason is 17 and like a brother to me. He has got a slight mental handicap but we have gotten the all clear to teach him and to baptize him because he understands a lot. He goes to church alone, when Jesus and Juan Pablo don’t go, Jason is always there. He will go up and give his testimony and everything. It’s funny because we will get to the house, and the house is REALLY humble, they have got brick walls, cement floor, and siding for the roof and it is really just kind of patched together. Everything we get there Jason meets us out in the road and he says “HERMANOS!” and I got give him a big hug and say “JASON!” I really love him a lot. I love that family so much, they are like a bunch of brothers to me. But ya, we are going to look at baptizing Brian and Jason in a couple of weeks. Jason told me yesterday: “Hermano, I want to be baptized to leave all of my sins there.” He was talking about what we had taught him about baptism, and it just really touched me that he understands that. Both of the families that we have got going, we have got another baptism as well that is Jessica Martinez, and she is the novia, the girlfriend, of a member and they are going to get married this Saturday, so we are going to set up a baptismal date with her. I am pretty excited about that, we have good things going on here in the area, as well as in the zone. The guys from Yopal have really pulled it together and I am just really happy about everything that they are doing. I have a lot of love for them. We also met a family this week, we had an activity that was really fun, we did the “trip to Hawaii” thing, with the airplane, I think you have heard about it. You take everyone on a trip to Hawaii, and then they go play games and buy food with fake money that you give them. Also, there are missionaries there with materials of the church, “selling” those. And they have to make good choices and buy good things that are going to last. Then you put them in the airplane again and you take off and then the airplane crashes and you go show them the 3 kingdoms of Glory. It was really fun. Hermano Angerita, one of the best members that I have ever known, put together the avión, the airplane. Really really cool. So we projected the cabin of the airplane on the wall on the front of the stage, and then with the new sound system that they bought for the church we had sound effects of like, taking off and then me and a member named Kevin had microphones and we were the pilots. We said things like: (Note from Jessica: Elder Lewis goes on in a long string of beautiful Spanish here that says something like: This is celestial airlines from Sogamoso to Honolulu, etc. That’s about all I could understand.) And then when the plane crashed, they shut of the lights and I was yelling “MAYDAY! MAYDAY! AYUDA, AYUDA ,AYUDA! VAMOS ARRENCAR!” and then they flipped the lights off and then there was a sound effect SUPER SUPER SUPER loud and then there were people on the side that were members, the young men, they had theh curtains shout, and then they pushed the people in their chairs from the other side of the curtain. Everybody was screaming and then BOOM! It hit and there was silence. Then I got up and with the microphone I said something like: “your plane has now crashed. Unfortunately, there were no survivors.” And at that point, everyone was like WHOA. At that point I asked them the golden question. “Where will we go after this life? We have left everyone behind, our families, everything that we were going to do in this life, so where do we go now?” and we had 3 rooms like the Kingdoms of Glory. The first one had like cutout stars all over it, and it had a flashlight in it for the light. The next one had a lamp for the terrestrial kingdom, and it had moons cut out everywhere and then it had a lamp. Each of these rooms you had members dressed for each kingdom explaining why they were there. Then they go to the Celestial Kingdom, which was in the Sacrament Meeting room, and…. Oof. They had suns, and the whole place was white and it was really cool. They had a family in white that explained why they were there and everything. It went out really cool.

But we met a family through that activity that is the poorest family that I have seen here in Colombia that we are going to start teaching this week. We went up to their house and it was just devastating. Just seeing…. He husband is very sick with cancer and she has 6 kids, she’s just so cool. She says that she is really sad, but she’s gotta smile for her kids. I don’t know if you guys have already sent the Christmas package that you were going to send to me, but if not I would like to ask for some toys for these kids. There are 2 boys and 4 girls all under the age of 10. If not, then I am just going to pull some money from my personal fund and help them out. I had something touching happen when we went up to their house on a hill. One of their sons gave me a beat up Power Rangers action figure that he had, and he said “I want you to have this.” And I got down on my knees and I was just about crying, and I said “I cant take this from you. thank you so much.” I gave it back to him and he took it, but he has such a big heart. I just want to give something to him.

Well, that’s about all I have for this week, I am out of time. Actually I am sending this late because I have been a little… I have been having fun with the food here…. It has been messing with my stomach a little bit, so I had to leave the internet for awhile. So I am going to send this and then we are going to a Family Home Evening that we have planned with familia Cano. I dunno, the food in these pueblos is a little more… it just gets you a little bit more. Depends on the family and where you eat. I think I know why actually, I think I drank the water. I think I accidentally, YA! I drank the water on accident the other day and I am paying for it now. Good times… ya well enough of that. Feel free not to include that on the blog. (Note from Jessica: Too Late. Sorry Jare. Get feeling better!) Love you guys so much. I know the church is true. I know that Jesus is my Savior. I testify of him. I finished the Book of Mormon for the second time in Spanish today. It just strengthened my testimony so much that he is my Savior. I have seen him work wonders here. He will always work wonders if we allow him to do it. En el nombre de Jesu Cristo, amen.

-Elder Lewis

Just about enough Venezuelan money to buy lunch. These are 100 Bolivares

The Colombia Bogotá Temple at night, after concilio

This mule was really funny. Looks content, no?

Intercambios in Yopal a while back! Me with Elder Prestwich
 from Utah and Elder Osorio from Venezuela.

Putting a new roof on the carpentry shop of Hermano Angarita, 
one of the coolest members that has ever lived!

L to R: elder Coop, Elder Ferrao, Andrea 
Angarita, Andres Angarita, and Natalia Angarita.
PS. Hermano Angerita made the pictures of Michael
Jackson. He's a big fan haha! 

Templo del Sol, a reconstruction. The Spaniards burned the original about
 400 years ago, but they´ve reconstructed it with a museum and everything.
 Here in Sogamoso was a tribe called the Chibcha´s. They have a legend of 
a white man who came to teach them all about life and 
promised to return. Sound familiar? (3 nefi 11)

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Week 62: Reese's Pieces and Spiritual Experiences

Ok! So this is going to be a little bit short I am thinking, because I was reading the amazing letter that I received from Mom. It was really special, as I said on the chat I was holding back tears because I am in a little internet café thing. But wow, what an experience. What a blessing to know about the world of spirits…. The spirit world. What a blessing it is.

So this week, I just wanted to tell you guys, that first of all, I got a package from Jess and Con. It was kinda funny because what happened was that it went to the South Mission. Their offices are in the same building in Bogotá. One is on the 9th floor and one is on the 10th floor. They sent it to the 9th floor. Way to go haha. But I got the package, and I am going to send you a video next week of my house and then there was a really funny note from the secretaries of the South mission that I will send next week. But ya… I got the Reese’s pieces which me and my companion enjoyed thoroughly, they are gone, and also the gummy worms are also gone. And most of all, the USB. I was able to open the package there in the offices while I was on intercambios with the assistants, and so I got to see a little bit of the video while the assistants were working in the offices. We were just kind of waiting around. Then, I just got it to work! So I am fighting with it to get it to work on these computers, but I did get to watch the first part of it really well in the offices, I didn’t finish it but now I am having a little bit of trouble getting it to reproduce…crap… to play on this computer. Haha.

This week has been really good, except hard. Ugh… it’s been a little frustrating. Yesterday I got really frustrated, but I have a great companion that helped me out. So I guess I want to tell you about Adali. Adali has come so far in her conversion. She asked about the Book of Mormon, and just to let you know this woman when we contacted her, we knocked her door one night at like 8 o’clock at night, and sometimes as a missionary you ask inspired questions. Sometimes you just go up to a door and you start talking to them and you just wait for the Spirit to tell you what to say. and the Spirit will give you something to say and what we said in that moment (and I don’t remember who said it) but we said “what would you do if you found the true church?” and she said: “I would repent and be baptized.” And we were like WHOA! That’s not real… but so far it has been. She got on her knees this week, and well actually the first thing that happened was that we taught her the first lesson that night, and then we came back another day to give her a health blessing and it was the second time that we had seen her and we were a little bit hesitant about giving her a health blessing so early on, but we did it on a prompting and it turned out fantastic because before I gave the blessing, I had read in Jesus the Christ that we should ask if they have faith in Christ. Unless it is a little child, we should as them if they have faith in Christ to be healed. And I did. And she said yes. I told her “Ok, this blessing will work if you have faith, in accordance with your faith.” And so I gave the blessing, and afterwards we left and she said that that night it hurt to breathe, but then she slept tranquil that night and then the next day she was OK. She said that she got on her knees and thanked God. Then this week, Adali has asked about the Book of Mormon and received an answer. She said that she asked about it, and she received a confirmation. She started to cry and couldn’t stop. I couldn’t believe it. It was so awesome. But from that point on, she has just been unstoppable. She has changed her work schedule to be able to fit in going to church and everything. So what a blessing.

That’s what has been going on with Adali this week, it has been the spiritual experience of my week, also I have been taking the advice of Elder Godoy and taking a Christ-like attribute that I want to work on and working on it this week with the help of the Savior, with the help of the Atonement, and it’s really worked! I have been working on humility and diligence, which have been hard ones, more than anything humility and I have seen how the Savior has helped me with that. I just have such a strong testimony of knowing that Jesus Christ is my Savior. It’s just incredible what he does for us. He is, in truth, our divine Savior. I know that if we lack something, we can work with him on it. These are the experiences I’m having. I am very grateful for these. I wouldn’t trade them for the world. I want to thank you all for your support, I know that the Lord is blessing you all on that continent as much as he is on this continent. I love you all so much, and I will talk to you later. Chao Chao!

-Elder Lewis