Monday, April 24, 2017

Week 32: Living the Missionary Life

Hola Familia! Elder Lewis aqui en Jordan… I almost said Bucaramanga haha

Yeah, It’s been 2 weeks in La Jordan, and ya, I am starting to get used to it a little bit more. Still working on it. This area is a little bit more, supposedly, the poorest in the mission, and I can see it. I don’t know, the outside of the houses look a lot worse than the inside. It’s kinda funny because they are breaking down some of the houses right now along the road to widen the roads and it looks like a war zone. It looks like the place has been bombed. It’s like they knock down the house and they just give up with the debris. I would take a picture, but it’s kind of dangerous to have your camera in the street. Something that I have really appreciated about the United States is that you can pull out a device in the streets and not worry about getting robbed. It’s really different here. The thing is that this isn’t the worst area of Bogota. The South, I have heard from everybody, is infinitely worse. So I am counting my blessings. There is a lot of graffiti everywhere, on the doors of everybody’s houses, it’s really kinda crazy. People like to write dumb stuff on other people’s doors. It’s really stupid. It looks really trashy. BUT, the people here are very good. We are finding lots of people to teach and it’s actually different because in Bucaramanga, the weather is warmer, the people are warmer. They don’t commit as much. Here, they are a little bit more, they are a little bit better with that. They are just a little bit colder. It is a little bit harder to find people that will listen to us, but not a whole lot. Now, we, as a zone, are inviting everybody that we come in contact with to be baptized. So we talk to a person, we tell them “Hey, The Church of Jesus Christ has been restored on the earth.” Then we tell them a little bit about it and then we say:” What would you think if the Church of Jesus Christ was upon the earth? If he actually directed the Church?” and they say “Well that would be really cool, that’d be marvelous!” and then we say: “Well, if this is true, if you got to know that that is true, would you follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized by someone having priesthood authority?” I have really been surprised at how many people say Yes. Yesterday we invited 17 people to be baptized and a lot of them said yes. It’s really just a better way, instead of saying: “would you like to hear a message?” then they are just committing to a message. But if you ask them to commit to baptism right there, it gets them thinking a little bit more. So that’s a little bit of an update on the Work.
            We are teaching a family, familia Guerrero, that we are working with that are really cool. They lost a son who was 14 about 6 months ago. The mom, Jennifer, was looking on all sides for something that would give her a little bit of hope. She was looking at all the churches, Catholic, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Evangelicals, everybody. Eventually she was in Argentina and found a temple. She went and visited it, and the Hermana’s started teaching her. Well, right now they have committed to being baptized on the 21st of May, we are going to visit them tonight and gather information so that they can be married before that date. They’ve got a son, Miguelejero, who is 13, and Alison, who is 5. Reminds me a lot of Cici, actually. She actually speaks pretty good English, she learned from Rosetta Stone, so I can talk to her in English a little bit. Her partner, or her husband, basically, lived in Brazil, so he is talking with my companion in Portuguese. This past Saturday we baptized Victor Briceño who is 11, and has the strongest testimony. We baptized him quick. 2 weeks. He had been to the church many times, but we started the lessons 2 weeks ago and he and his parents felt like “yeah. Why not? He has been attending the church a lot.” So we baptized the Saba….Sorry English… the Saturday. It was really special. I am gonna send pictures, the pictures aren’t that great, but ya. It was a little crazy trying to get it all organized, there was a couple of hiccups in there, but it was special. We are working with his parents so that his parents will be baptized within the next month or so. So the first baptism in this area went well. He bore his testimony after and he has a maturity that is really beyond his age. Victor does. He got up there and he just said how grateful he was that he felt clean. That feels totally lifted. It really made me feel. The next day he was confirmed. He was baptized and confirmed by his Uncle who is in the bishopric in another ward. When we put our hands on our head to confirm him, I couldn’t hold back the tears. Victor, in these last two weeks, has really become another little brother to me. He is pretty special. One day, him and another kid that was baptized a couple of weeks ago will go on missions I am sure of it.

Lets see, what else has been happening this week, there’s always something happening here in Colombia. Everybody in Colombia thinks that the United States is at war. There was a member here that was trying to tell me that there’s a war in Salt Lake City right now. She was worried for her family that lives in Salt Lake and wants them to come back to Colombia. I just kind of laughed. She’s funny. They really don’t know what they are talking about. They really hate Trump. A lot. So that’s a report of what’s been going down here.

We had intercambios with the Zone Leaders, that’s always good. Worked with Elder Hamblin, spoke a little bit of English. Today for P-Day, we went to the church and played Ping-Pong and went and ate lunch, we almost went rock-climbing and it’s really cheap, I really really really wanted to, but we are going to go another p-day. We played mini-golf, we played a few games, I got my hair cut, and that was about it for this p-day.

So in my district, there are only 4 and we are all different nationalities. Elder Mareja speaks 5 different languages, English, Spanish, Tagalog, Japanese, and at the least one other. I am not sure which. Might be Korean. He sings really well and has a really really high voice. If you have ever heard Mitch Grasse from Pentatonix, his voice is like that. It’s kind of funny.

Right now I am working through the Book of Mormon for the second time in Spanish, and Jesus the Christ about halfway through, also studying preach my gospel and trying to get ahold of what I am doing as a district leader and stuff like that. I am still learning a lot about that. I am told by my zone leaders that I will probably train within the next couple of changes. Woo Hoo.. Yay… No I am actually really excited about that opportunity I just need to get to know the area really fast. This area is HUGE. It’s meant for 4 missionaries, we are 2. Its about an hour and a half walking really fast to get from one end to the other. There is a bus called Alimentador, that goes from one end to the other, and it’s actually free. It’s pretty wonderful, but it just doesn’t run very many places. If we have to get from here, in Jordan, to Vija Maria, we can take alimentador.

Well guys, I read about your Easter, and it sounded pretty good. In Bucaramanga, we celebrate more than here in Bogota. They aren’t as in to it. They aren’t into celebrating openly. They are more serious here. Hard to get used to. But we did get caught in  the middle of a procession on Sunday and that was interesting. People carrying floats and KKK like outfits, someone singing in a megaphone in about 3 different keys, lots of people following in the streets. It’s a lot more interesting in Bucaramanga. In Bucaramanga, the start of Semana Santa, or Holy Week, they were already going through the streets. Actually, I bore my testimony for the last time, accompanied by loud music from out in the street, which was really annoying.

            I hope all is going well for all of you, I hope you have enjoyed these few minutes. I am really excited to talk with you all on Mothers Day, and we will have about an hour. Wish we had more, it would be great. If I think about it I get trunky haha. It really is the trunkiest time in the mission when you are changing areas and changing companions. But I am happy. I am very happy to be doing this. I am trying to dig in to the work and work harder, and I find a lot of faults in myself, but, we’re going. I love you all very much, I hope you have a great week. Chao Chao!

-Elder Lewis

Monday, April 17, 2017

Week 31: Leading and Praying in Bogota

Hello Familia! Como Estan?

It’s been awhile since I’ve recorded, but now I have a cell phone without a virus, so maybe I will be able to pass this recording on, we will see.

Well, here I am in Bogota, trying to get my feet on the ground here. As you guys know, I was made District Leader last week… why did they do that? (haha) It’s interesting because I only have a district of 4 Elders. Me, my companion, Elder Lopez, and Elder Mareja. All 4 of us are of different nationalities, I’m American, Elder Silva is Brasilero, Elder Lopez is Peruvian, and Elder Mareja is from the Philippines. It’s really been interesting. During District meeting, we have a progress meeting and then we play a game. We did “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” in 4 different languages. Spanish, English, Portuguese, and Tagalog. Tagalog was the hardest for sure. It was so weird. Lets see, what do I have to tell you guys? Lots of things… I am starting to learn a little bit of Portuguese… I don’t know I have been studying pronunciation a little bit, its really weird Portuguese… But I am afraid of really diving in because it’s going to mess with my Spanish. So I don’t know. My companion has a thick, thick accent and sometimes it’s hard to know whether he is speaking Spanish or Portuguese. Surprisingly, though, I can understand both pretty well.

            Well, this area is HUGE! Its two areas put together, and they had 4 Elders in this area, and they split it in half between 4 Elders. They took 2 missionaries out for whatever reason, (I think it’s because there aren’t enough Elders in the mission, the rumor is that we are going to get 2 more back here next transfer.) But for now we are running 2 areas, me and Elder Silva, and it takes 2 hours to walk from one side to the other, if not more. It’s frustrating a little bit, it seems like we don’t have enough time. This area is VERY VERY poor. It’s the trashy side of Bogota. I think the South end of Bogota is worse, but for our mission, this is the trashiest place in our mission. There is graffiti everywhere. Including on the gate around the church. It’s everywhere, trash in the streets. It’s really weird though there are all these houses and they are really poor and look like they are going to fall apart, but sometimes you walk in and they are poor, and sometimes it’s actually rather nice. We are living in a house that is really nice, it has 4 floors and the first carpet that I have seen here in Colombia. Granted, it’s not good carpet, its almost like tile, but we have HOT WATER. I have been enjoying that a lot. I am taking 2 showers a day sometimes because I love it. It’s very cold here in Bogota, we walk around in sweaters and coats, which is very different than Bucaramanga. People are very different here, The people aren’t that cold, but the members are. They are less open. It’s kinda weird because the members in Bucaramanga are like “Elders! Elderes!” but we do get quite a warm welcome, but some don’t like us. But I hope to be gaining more trust with them. Right now we have been pulling some long hours trying to get everything organized, and that’s been my life for the past week.
            We have a family, familia Guerrero, that their son just passed away 6 months ago and they have been searching on all sides for something that will give them hope. They have been to the Baptists, the Evangelicals, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, everything. She was actually in Argentina and visited a temple, and she found what she was looking for and received answers and now we are teaching her family. They should be baptized the 21st of May. Four of them. It was kinda cool because we went and met with them, this lady named Jennifer had her sister there, and she wanted us to teach her the Plan of Salvation. So we did. The next time we came she brought her mom. She sat her mom down and said: “Mom. I want you to listen to this. This is really good. I want you to know this.” So we taught her the Plan of Salvation. It’s just been so cool. So cool to see her face. I don’t think theres that much faith in members of the church in many parts.
            Today for P-Day I am going to be sending some pictures of what we did. We went to a member’s and we….Como se llamas..? we cooked? Ya we cooked. I don’t know, there’s not too much to tell.

            We have a baptism this week of a muchacho, a boy, that is 11, his uncle will be baptizing him this week. We need to finish up some teaching with him and then he will be ready. We’ve started teaching his parents too so it will be good for them to see him get baptized.

            Well we are praying hard here in Jordan, I hope the Lord has blessed you so much, because he has blessed me so, so much. He has blessed me so very much here. I can honestly say that this has been the hardest week of my mission (seriously it has been SO hard.) My companion lost not 1 companion but 3, and I am his second companion, and if you have ever been on a mission you know that your second companion kind of sucks because he’s not your trainer, and on top of that he lost 2 others that were in the house. I’ve been trying to give him some space for that and sometimes I miss Bucaramanga, the weather, the people, it’s really the land of my heart. BUT I can honestly say that I am happy and I have no idea why. I am happy. Because of all the things that I see, because of other people’s lives. I was talking to a member the other day, (they gave us dinner, arepas) and he has served as everything from Bishop here in Bogota here in some of the hard times, to Patriarch. He told me about a time where (Note from Jessica: there is a name of a branch of the church that Elder Lewis states here, but I don’t understand him clearly enough to tell the name. So just know it was a remote branch outside of Bogota.) brought in people, 8 hours out of Bogota, they brought in a whole branch to get patriarchal blessings and as I watched him talk about it, he got very emotional. I just saw such humility in his eyes. I don’t know, we had to go, but I couldn’t interrupt him. the feeling was too good. As I listened to him, he started to cry, and I started to cry, and my companion looked at me weird but I just felt so good. Just seeing all the joy, the pure joy in his eyes of having had the opportunity to give these blessings to these people, as well as working in the temple. He talked to me about how he’s been taught in the temple by the Lord. It really just made me think.

            Well, I hope you have enjoyed my jabbering, but for a spiritual message, this week I have had some homework from President, to kind of get me to lead, It’s been different. I can’t just follow now, I have to stand on my own two feet. I was reading a conference address by President Nelson that was talking about Power in the Priesthood, and how we have to seek it. We have authority, but do we have power? If we ask the Lord to teach us and give us power, he will do it. He loves to teach us. But we have to get past “Polite recitations” of past, present, and future events during our prayers. It hit me hard. I have been really trying to pray for more power through him. We can pray to know how to pray to him. So, invitation: pray to the Lord to ask him how to pray. Ask him to teach you. Like any loving father, whose son or daughter asks them to teach them, he’s going to teach you. How happy would he be if we ask him to teach us? The Lord has taught me so much here.

            I love you all. I hope you have enjoyed these couple of minutes. I will talk to you later. Chao Chao!

-Elder Lewis

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Week 30: Transferred to Zona Suba, Bogota.

Hola Familia!

I´m doing well, but it is so COLD here in Bogotá! It´s sixty degrees right now, and I´m dying! My companion is a Brazilian named Elder Silva. He is twenty one, and has been seperated from his family every since he was 15. He has a wicked accent, and half of the time I don´t know if he is speaking Spanish or Portugués. Surprisingly, I can understand both pretty well! He is really funny, and quite a change from my last comp. Elder Silva is newer, so he´s very humble, and FULL of drive for the work.
We´ve been in a headlong rush every minute. I´ve been called as district leader, and with a companion that has about half my time in the mission, and to join two and a half areas. Te NasThis area, or these areas, because were joining two and adding about a third of another, are really quite good. They are the poorest in Bogotá, and I´m told possibly in the mission. I am 40 minutes more or less away from the temple! It is so cool to be that close! We rode in a bus for 10 hours just to get here from Bucaramanga, and people do that just to go to the temple. The mission office is about an hour and a half trip by city bus. And it´s kind of a pain. trans Millenio is crazy. You really have to watch your bag on transmilenio, because Bogotá and Bucaramanga are about as different as Salt lake and New York City. 

Our house is in a complex called "Quitos de San Jorge." It´s actually really rich, and it is the first place other than the mission home where I´ve seen carpet of any kind. It´s not good carpet, but still... It is quite a good house, and has HOT WATER!!! I´m so excited... I haven´t gotten to shower yet (gross, I know, but I´m rather swamped) but I´m looking forward to it! The freaking house has FOUR FLOORS. a basement, a family room and kitchen, a third floor with bathroom and study and sleep rooms, and an identical fourth. It´s ironic, I was in a richer area last time, but in a poor house, now I´m in a poor area and a rich house. Bogotá is weird. 

Fun fact: in Colombia if something or someone is rich, the slang adjective is "poopy." True story. for example: This man is super poopy. Normal.

I thank my God for every day that I had to work with the people of Bucarica, and that will always be my home in Colombia. At the same time, I am SO excited for the opportunity to help the people in this area, even as district leader. I feel a bit like the little kid lost in the department store right now, but such is the mission! Please pray for me, for I need all the blessings that I can recieve right now. We have SO much to do, and so little time to do it. I only wish that these days were longer. The good news is we have a good many investigators, so I´m really ready to just dive in!

Love you all. 
- Elder Lewis

Elder Lewis and Elder Silva

Monday, April 3, 2017

Week 29: Reflecting on Conference and the Covenant Path

It sure was great to see your faces in conference! It was so awesome!

 Weather in Colombia has been about the same. One day raining and one day Hot as anything I´ve ever seen!

Speaking of conference, I learned much from Elder Rasband about the Spirit, and it really is just a familiar feeling. I had an experience that I didn´t see as a prompting at the time, but now I do. We were contacting, and there was a lady in a big hurry. I felt that I should contact her, so I did. We barely had time to get her number and address! Well, long story short, The family of 5 are now progressing on the covenant path, and realizing that this church is the way back to their heavenly home.
I know this gospel is true. I know that God Lives. Jesus Christ is the Son of the Living God. I hope that all of you at home can discover this joy everyday, of the plan of the Father. Repentance is a gift, and we should use it. Big things or small, it is the only way to a happy, and fulfilling life, and progressing to become like our Heavenly Father.
I love you all!
Élder Lewis