Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Week 37: All because Danny needed a haircut...

Hola Familia! Muy Buenos Tardes!

I hope that you all are having a good Memorial Day weekend. It sounds like things are going pretty smooth now that school is out! I’m looking at your pictures right now, and I wouldn’t be honest if I said I wasn’t  a little bit trunky. BUT… This week in Bogota has been good, it’s been crazy with transfers and now I am with Elder Villarroel, he is from Bolivia Santa Cruz, and he is a real good missionary. He has a lot of fire in his bones for the work and he’s, in a lot of ways, better than I am. It’s a really interesting experience training… well I’ll back up….

So Monday, away went Elder Silva, and I stayed with Elder Lopez for a little while and then we went and picked up our new companions. We went actually to the mission home in the center of Bogota (no it’s not the center it’s closer to the north, but still close to the center…) and we went up there and it made me super trunky because the mission home is super super nice. It has this aura of your grandparents house. It’s warm, and Hermana Laney is cooking and you are sitting in a training and ya.. We went there at 9 in the morning, woke up at 5:30 to get on the bus in intense traffic to Calle 71, it was good. So we went in and we were the first ones there, we sat down and just soaked in the aura of the mission home. They have really nice carpet, something that I have not seen in a very long time, actual carpet. We just kinda sat there for a little bit, and then we had a training at 10:30, and then at 1 we had lunch and it was American food! There’s a store called Pricemart where you can get actual cheese and stuff from the United States and it was all made from that. She made Lasagna and salad, actual salad. In Colombia, salad is rotting and raw tomatoes with like a vinegar. Then we went down on a patio below the mission home and played a bit of ping-pong down there and that was fun. Then we went back up and were assigned our new companions. Then we went back and we got to work. We hit the road, and this week has not been that good as far as the work goes. We have had a lot of appointments cancel on us, and actually our entire evening for tonight just fell through so we have to figure out what we’re gonna do. Sometimes we have a lot of things in the night and we cant do them all, and sometimes we cant find anything to do. But we are gonna go and find somebody to teach, because that’s what missionaries do.

So, this week we had a really cool miracle happen. So there’s a returned missionary in our ward called Danny and Danny returned about a month ago from his mission. I asked him how the transition was, and he said “oh, no, it’s fine. I’m still contacting.” Literally, he had pass-along cards made and is still contacting and gives us a lot of references from the contacts he makes like on the bus, he still walks around in a shirt and tie. It’s actually kinda weird, but at the same time he is a super star of a member. So he was walking down the street one day giving out cards for his business (he makes shirts and aprons and things like that) he was giving out cards and we walked past this barber shop and he went in to give her his card and then he went out and had the impression from the spirit to go in and get his hair cut. He didn’t need a haircut, but he did it anyway. And he talked to the lady while she was cutting his hair about the gospel, and she said she was interested in listening ot the missionaries. He came to us the next day and said “Hey, Elders, I was…how do you say it… I was carried away by the spirit yesterday. I have somebody that we need to go visit.” So on Thursday, he accompanied us to our lunch and we had a super spiritual lesson with a less active. But that’s another story. Then we went out and we had another one of our appointments cancel on us, so we said “well, what do we do?” and he said: “Ok. We’re gonna go to this lady. Her name is Luz.” So we went and we taught the first lesson to her, and she accepted a baptismal invitation and a baptismal date for the 24th of June. That was crazy in and of itself! Come to find out, she has a daughter that is Mormon and has been for awhile. Come to find out, it’s the specialist of self reliance in our ward! She is the wife of the Elder’s Quorum president, so with that double, we work with their family a lot and their actually one of my best friends here in Bogota. That was crazy. So I called her and asked her if she wanted to accompany us to a lesson with her mom. And she said: “well, Elder, I would love to but I cant. My mom and I don’t have a good relationship. We don’t talk very much.” I guess that when she joined the church, her mom didn’t understand Tithing and the Word of Wisdom, and I guess that she has had some really hard things happen in her life and this investigator that we now have used to hit Hermana Andrea (Andrea is the name of the self reliance coordinator) Andrea told us one night, we went over Friday night to talk to her about it, and she told us about how hard it had been and basically, it’s a very long story, she took an hour and a half telling us about it. Basically their relationship has been shattered. Her mom just wasn’t a good mom. Come to find out that her (Hermana Andrea) patriarchal blessing says: “you will bring your parents to the knowledge of the restored gospel”. Then I told her: “Hermana, your mom has accepted a baptismal date for the 24th of June.” And she looked stunned. Absolutely stunned. So much so that Eduard, her husband, laughed out loud at her face and went for his phone to take a picture. She started to cry. She said “Elders. You don’t know how much this means to me. Are you kidding me?! My mom. My mom accepted a baptismal date. You’re kidding. “ we said “yes, yes she did, she was very attentive through the lesson and she understood.” And it was really interesting. Hermana Luz, I asked her if she would be baptized on that day and she said yes. And I asked her why she accepted the invitation. She said “I don’t have anywhere else to go.” Anyway, so then I told Juan Diego, the son of Hermana Andrea and he had the same reaction and again Brother Eduard took a picture of his face because it was hilarious. He said: “no way. That cant be right. My grandma is anti-mormon. “ That was the point where she told us about her patriarchal blessing and that she had given up hope on that. I don’t know, the whoel situation was all so cool. All because Danny felt like he needed to get a haircut, even when he didn’t need one. She thanked us up and down and it really made me feel humble the way that the Lord is working here. Also as an example to me, to follow the promptings of the spirit, because you never know how big of a deal it can be. It means everything to Andrea.

Well, that’s the story for this week. It was really in those moments that I really love my mission. It’s what makes it all worth it. So I will keep you guys updated on that. Other families have been having problems. Financial problems, family problems, both…. So we are working hard and they are being very juicioso.. or how do you say it… wise, like studious? Something like that. They are being very good and the Lord will bless them. I have full confidence in that. We are teaching some other people, and with this new companion, and with the Lord’s help, we are really gonna get going here. Well guys, that’s the recording for this week, I will keep you posted on what’s happening. I love you all so much. I will talk to you next week. Chao Chao!

-Elder Lewis

food at the mission home 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Week 36: Elder Lewis has a Son!... Transferred to Trainer

Hola Familia!

So the message is going to be short today, because things have been crazy with transfers. I only have about 15 minutes left, and time is going fast. This week has been interesting. We had kind of a rough week, but we’re going. Elder Silva has now left, and I am awaiting mi hijo, or as we say in the mission, my son. I’m training! How crazy. It really surprised me when Elder Silva left. I thought that we were gonna get two more missionaries in this ward and that Elder Silva would stay, and that we would just stay companions for another transfer, but he left. He actually went back to Bucaramanga, to my old area! How crazy! I spent like an hour talking to him about the people, the places he needed to visit, the things he needed to eat, he kinda got sick of listening to it, but I love that area so much. I can’t say that we had the most success there, but still. There was a light there, and here as well. Right now I am with Elder Lopez from Peru, and awaiting Wednesday, when I go to the center of the mission in Bogota, and I receive mi hijo, my son, the person that I am going to train. It’s something that really makes me humble, the opportunity to train somebody, and I hope that I can give him the best shot at beginning the mission. Please pray for me, because it’s a big responsibility. I’m excited but… ya. They tell me that in three months time, I will probably be leaving as Zone Leader. Oy… But I am very grateful and very happy for the opportunity to train, and I hope that I can make the Lord happy, and I can make this new missionary feel comfortable.

Familia Guerrero are progressing, I am very excited for them, they came right after Sacrament meeting,, which means they cant be baptized yet, or their son can’t be baptized this week, but we are hoping for next week. Familia Lopez-Medina is still progressing. The thing is that right now Satan is throwing everything at these families. Like, Familia Guerrero have had financial problems, their brother came over to visit and sold a bunch of stuff, they had everything happen to them. We told them that that was Satan trying to deter them. It’s something really special when you see them understand that, when the spirit helps you to explain it in that way, and then you see the light come into their eyes as they become more determined. I guess that’s the message that I want to send with you guys today; that we have understanding about who is our enemy. If you haven’t read the recent Ensign, there’s an article about that that’s really good. But we need to know our enemy. These things don’t just happen by themselves. When hard times come, it’s someone trying to deter us. At the same time, it’s an opportunity to build. It’s up to us who we put our trust in; in ourselves and fail, or in Heavenly Father, who wants us to succeed.

Well, It’s been short, but I hope you have enjoyed it. I will talk to you next week. Chao Chao!

-Elder Lewis

Monday, May 15, 2017

Week 35: Mother's Day Call and America in Colombia

Hola Familia, Que Mas? Elder Lewis Here.

We are late getting to internet today, so I don’t think I will be able to talk with you guys very long today, but that’s ok because I feel like I did a lot of the talking yesterday. I feel like we could have talked all day. I guess that’s always how it is. Today I have kinda been out of it. I will be back to normal in a couple of days, I think. But ya, 2 out of 4 calls home done. Ya Vamos! 2 out of 4 down.

This week has been interesting and hard this week. Our two main families that we are teaching didn’t come to church. We did have a surprise though, we had one of our new investigators this week. It was really good. They come from Venezuela. He’s a member, she’s not. We’re working with her now. So ya! Her name is Idali, and she should be really good if we can help her find the answers that she’s looking for. Familia Guerrero, we didn’t have the opportunity to meet with them this week. That was really really bad. We need to be meeting with them a lot more, they just didn’t have the time this week. That kinda stresses me out a bit. Familia Lopez-Medina, we have actually visited them quite a bit this week, but we have to see more progress with them this week and hopefully they will come to church. They have just about everything else but church. Family Home Evening lessons, whatever, just not church. Just not Sunday morning. That’s frustrating. Other than that, we have some other contacts but that is really who we are working hard with right now. Familia Guerrero, Familia Lopez-Medina, Idali, ya those are our principal investigators, the ones that are coming along. I think those two families and the individual should be baptized in June. That should be good.

Today for p-day we went to the center of Bogota, we took transmilenio, the bus, for quite awhile to get there, one of the reasons we are so late. It’s 5:15 and we haven’t even gotten into internet. So I think I can talk to you guys for a half an hour, that’s all. That bums me out, but those things happen. We went to a place called Chapiñero, which is like a strip mall, where there are a lot of cool things, I picked up a couple of cool ties for like $3. 100 mil. 10,000 Colombian pesos each. They are really really cool. Probably $30, $40, $50 dollar ties. Then we went and I picked up a rugby ball, finally! There’s a place in the center of Bogota that had 2. I picked up a Gilbert Rugby Ball. I don’t know when I’m going to use it. It was 110 mil, 110,000 Colombian pesos, $35 bucks. I don’t know when I’m going to use it, eventually. I just saw that and I splurged. Then we booked it to Pricemart. (Like Costco). It’s mostly Gringo stuff, so I picked up some Pancake mix, Mrs, Butterworths syrup, peanut butter, and it surprised me so much…. You can ask Elder Vincent, Elder Vincent and I were so trunky cuz they had so many cool things. It was Costco, just smaller and they had real cheese, they had pop tarts, toaster strudels, totino’s pizza rolls, they even had Malt-O-Meal cereal. Marshmallow Matey’s. That about threw me out the window. But ya I bought some Betty Crocker Cake Mix, the kind that Angela really likes, and I am gonna make a cake for my district next week. Then we booked it back really late. Probably about ½ hour or 45 minutes is all I will get to talk to you guys. C’est la vie.

Anyway, that was my week, this recording will be a little bit short. Sorry that the Skype call cut out at the end, that was kinda sucky, but I figured that we all said bye, so I just sent a message. So ya, I love you all so much, it was so good to see you all. You have all changed so much! I didn’t recognize Michael, his voice… or Cici and the way she talked or bekah and her long hair. Or Carson. Carson’s a big boy! The good thing about those calls is that you get to see your family, the bad thing is that for the next 2 days you are banging your head against the wall. But ya, we will soon be back to normal. But ya, I hit 8 months, the 1/3 mark on Saturday. Now anticipating the next milestone, which will be my birthday, and then the year mark. Crazy that I have almost been away from you guys for a year… I don’t know. It seems a lot has changed in that time, but still bullheaded, still kinda dumb, but we’re going, and I’m learning a lot. I just want you guys to know how much I love you, and how much I really needed to talk to you guys. It’s a different world over there. This week I could be changing companions, We could be getting 2 more in the house, that would be good I think. Anything could happen, I anticipate anything. So… ya! I’ll be telling you guys about that next Monday. Bueno. I hope you all have a good week. Talk to you later. Chao chao!

-Elder Lewis

Elder Lewis via Skype on Mother's Day 

Monday, May 8, 2017

Week 34: The Family is of God (plus temple blessings and a taste of home)

Hola Familia! Como Esta?

Well, tonight I am making this recording, usually I make it the day of, but I figured I would get on the ball and do it before. First of all, thank you so much for the packages! That was so awesome when I got to the Stake Center in Campiña on... I think it was Friday, and got 2 packages from my wonderful family. Right now I have them before me (this is actually the first packages I have gotten in Colombia) but I always laugh when I see them, or see other people getting packages when I got them this time they were so beat up because of what they go through. But, fortunately, if they have Virgin Mary stickers on them, they do not steal anything. I was told by my zone leaders that if you don’t put that on there, that they will steal things. So ya. Right as we speak, I am actually listening to Gentry as we speak thanks to you guys. It has been so cool! I just about did a backflip when I opened up the package. I got Reese’s, I got a stuffed teddy bear, I got a Gentry CD (If only my DVD player wasn’t a piece of garbage like it’s being right now) and the Lamb of God. Super Super cool. I like getting the DVD’s because I can see the commentary of the director that I have never seen before. So that’s cool. It was weird to get things labeled in English. Not gonna lie. It kinda threw me back when I got the plastic eggs. The Latinos thought that was really weird. I had to explain the tradition and they didn’t get it. But that’s ok. It made me happy. I did share with the people in the room at that moment, but I shared my Reese’s with my companion, with the zone leaders and hermanas, and President and his wife. They were well spent. I actually still have a bunch of them and I am eating them slowly. President took a picture of me with the package and said that he would send it to you. I don’t know if you guys got that yet, but I thought that was really cool that he did that. Thank you so much for the package. I thoroughly enjoyed getting things from home. I actually had a sister from the church who said “hey, I have a friend coming from Utah, what do you want?” and I had to tell ya, that was a hard decision. I had to tell her that I would call her later and tell her. I thought about it and after awhile I asked for Mountain Dew, because here in Bogota, they actually have Mountain Dew, but it’s absolute garbage. Not Mountain Dew. It doesn’t even taste similar. Something about the sugar they use. It makes Coca-Cola better and Mountain Dew worse.

Highlights from this week: we had an intercambio on Tuesday and it just all worked out that there were 8 missionaries in an apartment in one night, and if you can imagine… there was Elder Blair there that was from my group in the CCM, and that was a party! I actually have a video. There’s a fruit called Pitaya that is  yellow on the outside (It’s called dragonfruit in the United States) and theres a blue fruit on the inside with these seeds, and the seeds are actually really really good, but I am told it’s a laxative. I ate four of them and nothing happened… it doesn’t seem to affect gringos very much. But, ya. I have a video of them drinking Jugo de Pitaya, and then eating a raw egg and doing 20 pushups. They called it Cambino Inferno. Funny things happen when you get 8 missionaries together at 9:30-10 at night. I don’t know. We’re special. Don’t you worry, we were all in bed by 10:30 so we were all good. I have never slept so badly in my life, because the mattresses they had in that apartment were terrible, so we slept on the ground. It’s really awesome catching up with Elder Blair and the people from my group. I never realized how much I missed the CCM. It was really awesome. Aw Freak. I was really fortunate not to go to Bogota for the CCM because it’s a reformed church house, and it is puny. So tiny. You can’t leave, and it takes you 5 minutes to walk the perimeter. In Mexico it was an hour and a half to walk around the perimeter. I really lucked out on that one. So, Michael, if you go to Colombia or Ecuador or something and you go to the Colombian MTC, I am so sorry for you. but don’t worry it’ll be a good thing.

There are a couple of families I want to tell you about, a couple families of gold that we have found through members and different miracles. The familia Guerrero, who has really become close to my heart. They found the church after they lost their son, Gerson, in January in an auto accident. She was in Argentina and passed the temple. Her name is Jennifer. She walked in. That’s how they knew the church. So they came back to Bogota nad looked up the missionaries. I am fortunate to be teaching them, because they are right on the border between us and another companionship, and the other companionship started teaching but they had to pass the reference to us because it is right on the border. This family parks their car in the other area but they live in our area. But, ya. We have been teaching them for most of this cambio, and Miguel Guerrero, their 13 year old son, will be baptized. We had a family home evening with them on Monday night, and we showed them a video called together forever, and a family who was in a similar situation. None of us could hold back tears. We were bawling like babies and the spirit was so strong. Heavenly Father really let me feel for a second how it feels to lose a child…. It absolutely broke my heart knowing that they had to go through that. On Saturday, we went to the Temple. It was my first time in Bogota, and it was magnificent. The whole ward went and so they rented a bus to go from the chapel to the temple. Went with them, and the bus was full. We had 10 investigators go and most of the ward. So we took another bus. It was so jam packed with people. On Transmilenio, you have to count how many people are touching you at one time. I counted 5. 5 people touching me at one time. It was so jam packed. There were people hanging out the door as the bus was going down the road. But anyway, we we went to the temple, and we were about to leave with the ward when familia Guerrero called us and said “hey, we’re here!” So just as they were about to leave, we got off the bus and stayed and showed them the temple. Daniel, the father of the family, brought his mom, that’s why they were late, he wanted to bring his mom, so they were pretty late. We showed them around, and then we went in to reception and had one of the workers talk with them. I can’t even describe the special feeling you get when you sit in the temple and you explain to somebody what goes on there, and then you tell them that in this very place, you can be sealed to your son. In this very place, this sacred temple, you can bind your family together forever. I guess I feel a special connection with them, because of the Aunt that I never knew. I really felt that. They asked me as I was leaving the temple, as we were walking out of reception, we stopped in reception and they asked me, “Elder Lewis, you seem to have more of a connection to our situation than others, why is that?” The words just came out: “ you know, I have an aunt that I have never met”and I explained that she was singing in Germany, and was hit by a train, and how that affected my grandparents, and that I know, for certain, that I will meet her someday. That she is alive and well. As I explained and as I wept like a baby, Jennifer was crying, and I just felt such a sweet peace, that I have family there with me. I feel that.
            As we left, Daniel had the car, and he offered to lift us to our area, so as we were going I was talking with his mom, and I asked her, we got talking, and she is Catholic, but I asked her how she felt when she entered the temple. She felt peace. Something familiar. As she sat there, she felt like crying. Then me and my companion explained to her that the reason why that is, is because these things really are familiar. These things aren’t foreign. They just bring to your remembrance. It really strengthened my testimony. This family is progressing and they came to church today. Thank goodness.

Well, rats. Time to go to bed.

-Elder Lewis

Elder Lewis and his packages from home

The Following is a message to Jared's parents from President Laney, Elder Lewis' mission president:

Brother and Sister Lewis,

I had the privilege of interviewing your son today. He is a great young man and fantastic missionary. He is having some incredible spiritual experiences teaching the gospel to families in his current area.

He was very emotional telling me about a family whose teenage son was recently killed in an accident. The hope and confidence of eternal families and temple ordinances has changed their lives!

He was also happy to receive a package from home and he shared a Reese's cup with me, so thank you!!

Simon Bolivar park in Bogota

Elder Lewis' current area

A bus in Bogota. Notice the emblems on it belong to a Ford Mustang.... :D

*A note from Jessica: For those of you that are not well acquainted with the Lewis branch of Elder Lewis' family, Jared's aunt that is mentioned in this post, our father's oldest sister Darrelene, was killed at 19 in an accident involving a train while on tour for the USO in Germany. We, as a family, are grateful for Elder Lewis' testimony of eternal families, and we affirm and testify that what he says is true; our Aunt Darrelene is indeed alive and well, and that we will all get to be with her again someday.