Sunday, April 1, 2018

BBQ Chips in Giradot!

Holy cow Chuck is huge!! I love pictures so thank you soo much for sending them every week. Anyways, I made some voice recordings everyday at the end of each day talking about whats going on here in the mission so maybe you will like those cuz they give a little more detail than my weekly summaries.

I've been having fun with our zone, trying to motivate and do lots of exchanges.  I love getting out working with the other Elders.  Colombia soccer played this week.  The city shuts down and it makes contacting difficult, but we still found some success.  And for the first time in 18 months I found BBQ chips!!!  Kind of Clover club brand like, but hey they were BBQ!

So everything is pretty normal here in the mission. Me and my new comp get along great, Hes teaching me slack line and I'm teaching him ping pong. We both like to cook. He hates mornings and studies and meetings just like me, but he loves to work, meet people, and be outside so we get along excellent. 
We have a family who is getting baptized this week! Its a woman named Miriam and her three boys, Alex, Jon, and Danny. Ill send pics next week.




 Also, our investigator Hector this week already told us he knows the book of mormon is true and wants to get baptized. I've never seen anyone converted so fast, but we still have to finish all the lessons so his date is the beginning of April. We honestly have lots of families we are teaching right now so we are running from appointment to appointment.
Here are a few experiences from the week. 
One guy we knocked on the door and he came out crying and explained he had just barely separated from his wife that day, and I guess God knew he was ready. We just invited him to read the Book of Mormon, and ask God for guidance. 
Another lady has to make a really important decision in her life, and she told us how the Book of Mormon helps her feel peace every time she gets stressed. 
Another lady we are teaching finally said her first prayer this week!   That is always neat.

Honestly, I love the mission.  I'm till toddling with the idea of extending because I'm having soo much fun.  But I also feel I need to move on with life at the same time.  However, I still feel like I have a long time left. We are getting a new mission president soon and I feel a little responsible to help lead the mission because I'm one of the older missionaries, but I trust the Lord will inspire President Palhua and Baquerizo during this time of change. 
You asked me how I've changed?   I would say I haven't changed, but the only goal I made for myself was to return a more humble man than I came.  I'm hoping that is true. 

Love you lots and appreciate all your questions!

Love,
Elder Donaldson

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Missionary Moments in Giradot


Dear Family,
 
This was a good week. We found a lot of new investigators, and started teaching an English class for the branch here. We have had a lot of success contacting just inviting people to come learn English.  also this week was the district conference so we got to hear president give a talk which I learned a lot from.,

Experiences:
We went to one family to read the Book of Mormon, and well in the middle of the chapter, the little girl ran inside and then came back out with a pigeon in her hand. Apparently she had caught it earlier that day and now it was her pet. Haha!

I had an exchange and got to spend Wednesday in Melgar, a tiny pueblo about forty minutes from here. It was a fun day.  I was with and elder from California. We had to go on a hike to get to some investigators, they live clear at the top of a mountain, and it was really really hot. I was sweating like wrestling practice, just in my church clothes.  Mission life.

We have a baptism planned this week. Our investigator Johann finally committed.  He comes with us frequently on appointments. Great guy!   We found a new family, Miriam and her three kids,and they came to church!

We had transfers last night. Elder Gardner left, and my new comp will be getting here tomorrow.  He is a Brazilian. I'm really excited to serve with him.  I've talked to him before and he has stayed at our house a few times for conferences and such, so i'll send some pics next week. 
Our investigator Johann did get baptized, that was really cool! 
Next Week:
This week was a little crazy, Monday night we got a call telling us we had to be in Bogota for a conference Thursday and Friday, and those were the two days we had planned big activities here in the zone with all the missionaries.   So we had to just wish them luck, everything turned out good though in the end. 
The conference was with Elder Godoy, the area president here. I loved it, he was really down to earth. He talked about what motivates people to do what they do, what motivates us to go work and what motivates investigators to change their life. It really changed my perspective on the mission. 
Anyways, that's about a summary of the week. Just lots of running and organizing.  And well I was dying about Dad's family night lesson, tell him to be careful what phrases he uses!!

As far as after mission plans I'm still not sure when I am coming home, but Elder Gardner is going to try and hook up me and Elder Amick with a job harvesting potatoes up in Idaho. They make bank so that's the plan when I get back. Ill work out the details with the new mission president about the leave date, but keep your eyes open for other options, and tell Dad to have his prospective wife write me.  :)

So this week has been really good. My new comp is full of energy, and we get along great. Hes teaching me how to walk slack line for exercise in the morning.  I finally made it down the whole line today!

I wanted to share the story of Hector this week. He was our only investigator who showed up at church. we contacted him on Monday, and he just started blasting us with questions. He wouldn't accept a Book of Mormon because he thought we there was a charge for it.  We gave him a pamphlet, and he read it, then accepted the Book of Mormon and has already read quite a bit. I was surprised when he showed up to church, he notices every detail.   He asked me if the color of the ties of the deacons who pass the sacrament has any meaning.  He is an awesome investigator.

Thoughts:
Well missionary life is same old. I am honestly starting to feel a small sense of sadness that its going to end, but the good news is we are busy so I don't think about the time too much. We have lots going on this upcoming week.  It's hard for me to write about it all but I'll share when I get home.
I've been thinking about extending because if I can't make the fall semester, might as well keep serving.  But I cant make any decisions until the new president gets here in July.

I read two talks this week about the character and grace of Jesus Christ. Its interesting the relationship that they have with our daily life, how we resist temptations, how diligent we are. I realize now all of the commandments, including the mission rules, aren't so much requirements to qualify for heaven, rather practice to become more heavenly. I have been really focusing my studies on the life of Christ lately, there is much I don't understand, but Ive come to realize in a great amount just how much He loves us, and the investigators.  That knowledge gives a new energy to the work.  A lot of times missionaries here just think that the mission is convincing people that our church is true. But if they never come to know the Savior, even being in His church, then they miss the point.

Johan got the priesthood, and accompanied us on visits almost all week. We had a couple fun service projects. One lady wanted us to take out a tree from the roots, and all she gave us was a machete and a shovel, and the tree was surrounded with cement!!    It was quite the experience. We have to go this week to finish.   Having lots of fun here not too much to complain about. Wish Sergio and Grandpa a feliz cumpleaƱos de mi parte por favor!

Love you all lots!!

Elder Donaldson

Bus Ride to Bogota


Sunday, February 4, 2018

Week 70!

 
 
This week was really good. We have an investigator really struggling to take the decision to get baptized. She has almost all the lessons and appears to understand the gospel on an intellectual level but is missing something that is impeding her from getting baptized. She says the Book of Mormon is true, lives all the commandments, and much of her family is members of the church.   I think maybe she has fears of commitment, lots of people struggle with this here. The culture here is very day to day living.   People just wake up one day and decide to go on three or four month vacations... no planning, just living life.   It's super hard to make scheduled appointments.  We kind of just guess when we think people will be home.  We are praying and fasting of how to help her progress more.  She's a great gal that the gospel will only enhance her life.  
 
We have also made some incredible break throughs as well with some hard hearted people. There are a lot of part member families here whose spouses don't want anything to do with the missionaries or the church, they literally hide from us. They wont even say hi because they think we are just gonna start religous arguments with them.  That's where my cooking skills have really come in handy. I taught one family how to make Mcmuffins, and another BBQ chicken.   Then both the spouses accepted a Book of Mormon and the challenge to read it. Sometimes you just have to be a little creative with how you get it to them.  Food always worked with me, right?!

We spent almost all of Pday cleaning the house because a 70 is coming to the mission this week, and its very possible his wife and Hermana Baquerizo are going to inspect our house.  We are only 2 blocks from the church.

Anyways, That's rough about Katie.  that is one of my worst fears in life is getting a kidney stone. I'm really proud of Chuck.   Sounds like he had a tough bracket but he pushed through! Cant wait to watch him next year.   Tell him my only advice is to stick with it. Go to the camps in the summer and wrestle freestyle and he can really get good. 
 
That's also really exiting about Elder Bednar coming.  I read the book you sent me that he wrote. It really changed my perspective on missionary work, and led me to not stress so much about numbers and goals, but most importantly the one to one difference we can make.  If you get the chance, bring a tie to trade him for me. :)  It is on my bucket list to trade ties with an apostle. 
 
Thanks for everything you do for me, always.  Onto another week of serving my Savior as a missionary.
 
Love,
Elder Donaldson

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Insights on Obedience with a little "Meaty" Flare

 
The highlight of this past week was our baptism with Nicol! She is 9 so cute and willing to learn.  We pretty much taught her all the lessons this week. She doesn't hardly talk, but after her baptism she got up in front of everyone and shared her testimony! It was really cool. 
 
Oh and the last Christmas package got here with Joel! Thank you soo much for the treats, and especially Charlie for the beef jerky.  Haven't had that in fifteen months..  It was neat to find the children's gifts included in the package too.  Nicol and her hermanitos loved the coloring books! I'm not sure why you sent me those, but that was their only Christmas present and they were very grateful for it so thank you.   Inspired you are!
 
Funny story for the week, we went to go ask one of our investigators why he couldn't come to church, and when we got there he was skinning some lambs with his kitchen knife in his underwear.  Yep.  We arrived just to see him rip the guts out and throw the kidney and meat on top of the counter where he also washes his clothes.   It was at that moment I realized that's how they process meat here.  After about fifteen months of eating the meat here... haha I'm pretty sure my stomach has gotten stronger or I would be dead by now.    He also told us about his nephew went who crocodile hunting.  If he kills one I'll get to try crocodile meat!   Sounds like an adventure!  I'll update you on that next week.
 
New week:   This one was kinda tough.  The holidays (Christmas through New Years) here are just a long party.  It's the summer vacation here, so it was really hard to teach people.   We were finding every day and following up with our contacts but not too many lessons. 
 
We just passed transfers and Elder Gardner and I have six more weeks together!!  I'm super stoked because we are really good friends.   I told you we went hiking with our district on P-Day.  Found a wild Lynx and a wild dog (chupacabra!)  Hot, sweaty, beautiful scenes and refreshing to get out. 
 
A little tender mercy for us this week which both Elder Gardner and I were so grateful for.  We had to travel to Bogota this week and the bus terminal was super packed because everyone and there mother was leaving to Bogota as the New Year's festivities had ended.  After an hour of waiting we still hadn't even entered the terminal.  I took a chance and  Joel's parents and just so happened they were going to Bogota!  They gave us a ride, and it was our little miracle because you have no idea how bad the bus rides and traffic are here... last time we were on a bus with chickens... haha.  Seriously our little miracle.  

 
I've had some great studies lately and definitely some things on my mind as to how I want to live out the rest of my life.  Once in a while I've noticed my testimony of the commandments sometimes gets hit with doubts.  But I've made the decision to obey them to the best I can the rest of my life. I've learned that tithing or whatever commandment isn't an investment in blessings, as some people think, but rather a sacrifice to submit our will to God's. That way of living brings peace of mind, and stableness in the home.  And maybe that is the blessing even bigger than divine miracles that sometimes happen. Either way, I've committed my life to obedience and trust.  Thank you Mom and Dad, for your examples to me.  I came from such a home. 
 
Thank you, also for the pictures, love, support and everything.  I am blessed with an awesome family.  I love hearing how Chuck is doing with wrestling.  He was a little kid with a squeaky voice when I left.  I could just sit on him when needed.  I'm going to have to up my game when I get home!  I'm really proud of him.  And all of you for your examples.  Know I love my Savior.  I'm working my best to serve him here.  Love this opportunity in my life.  Love my Colombian friends.

The gospel is so true.
 
Love,
Elder Donaldson

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Joyful Christmas 2017!



Hey FAMILY!
Fun to see everyone on Skype! Sorry the connection was so bad and hard to understand, but I loved seeing everyone.  The Arias family are great here and nice to host us on Christmas Eve.  Thanks again for the extra packages and stuff to share with those here.  My Christmas was the best.  We made BBQ chicken for the entire zone Christmas day.  :)
Christmas BBQ Chicken for the Zone

We did a lot of Christmas caroling this last week.  I'm not very good at singing so I'm pretty sure I offended some people.  One day we decided to go with the whole ward choir, so we walked to all our investigators and some less active families to sing to them.  One family was having a really heated discussion when we showed up, and while they were yelling at each other we were singing "Joy to the World" and wearing Santa hats... hahaha it was pretty awkward. 
For the mission conference week we went to go to Bogota for an exchange with the Assistants! One of them is from Sugarland, Texas, Elder Mohr.  Not sure maybe Aunt Kathy and Uncle Ray know him. It was a lot of fun and loved working hard up there.  We were pretty much contacting all day long, but we had one lesson with a big family.  The spirit was really there. 

We also had a few more interesting experiences this week discussing with people about the Bible.  I get really frustrated at how one minded people can be sometimes, but the trick always has been and always will be the Book of Mormon.  If people read it and ask God, he always tells them its true. The problem is they don't read it.....that's my two cents for the week. 
Weekly P-Day Ping Pong Squad.

I forgot to mention there was a pretty big earthquake here Saturday.  It shook the whole house... I think it was a 4.9, me and my comp ran outside during studies.  It only lasted like five seconds but it was really strong... but no one died or got hurt, so everything is fine.
We sleep on the patio in our hammocks because it's so hot!
Cleaning time.  The apartment we moved into smelled so bad.


Love the gospel, Love the Lord.  Have a good week!

Elder Donaldson

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Short and Sweet. Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm super glad my hand written letter got home to you! I have tons more stories, but I'll probably have to wait until I get home to share them.  I'll write briefly about a few experiences from the week:

The other night we were out contacting when we saw this lady yelling at this man and then this other lady came out of no where and chased him off with a machete!  Haha!  It was pretty intense. 

Also, in a lesson this week as we were leaving the mom came out with a fried fish, head and all, and it was COVERED in ants... looking back I have no idea how I ate that and until now I haven't had any demons come out of me so I think the Lord really blessed me with that one.

Also this week we had to kill a rat in the sisters house, and all we had was a home made flame thrower, (bug spray and a lighter), and one family invited us over for thanksgiving dinner!
It was so nice of them.  Thanksgiving isn't a holiday here, but they knew it was up there and wanted it to be a special day for us!

Thanksgiving in Colombia.
I'll send you some pics.   Also, some of my old investigators got married and baptized Saturday! I've known them since July, really great family!!   I'll send you pics!



 Well family, I love you all.  I'm excited to talk with you for Christmas.  Things here are going well.  Working hard and spreading the good news.  I have a testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  It is the only true way to lasting happiness.

Love,
Elder Donaldson

Monday, November 13, 2017

Companionship Goals: Quit Losing Our Stuff!

Hello Hello!  Our friend Juan Carlos finally was baptized. He has an incredible story. Hes been out on the street for some time now, and pretty much passed through some "Job-like"trials, but still decided to get baptized. He got his job back, and his girl friend back, and he found a place to live like two days before he got baptized. Incredible story of faith.  It's been a blessing to know him.
Ha! the rat thing was just a one time thing.  I've had to catch a few iguanas and lizards but nothing like the rat.   Elder Hubbard and I got another transfer together.  Happy about that  because we are great friends now.  He will finish up being trained the end of this transfer so that will probably be when I get a new comp, around the beginning of December.  




The meetings in Bogota were just leadership trainings so it was just a bunch of really long meetings Tuesday.  But I did get to stay with Elder cox, Elder Gardner, and Elder Amick on Monday night so that was lots of fun.  My comp stayed in Neiva with some other elders until I got back Wednesday. I'm glad that trip is done.  It was three long days of bus-rides and meetings. 
Anyways, This week has been interesting. Thursday we were very busy, and we were getting out of a taxi late to an appointment. two minutes after getting out elder Hubbard realized the phone fell out of his pocket, and so it  left with the taxi driver who hasn't answered our calls since.   Well and now we don't have a phone anymore... not fun.  We do a lot more walking now.  Then to top that off on Sunday I left my agenda in a taxi so we lost a bunch of phone numbers and info I had written down.  We are making some goals as a companionship to quit losing all our stuff!!!  
Another funny story this week, at our Sunday lunch it was with a family who is a little more formal, and my comp was really trying to be polite, but it was fast Sunday and so he was really hungry, and he eats a TON.  He literally ate his whole plate before I had even eaten an eighth of mine... and then on his second plate he started choking on a potato.    It was soooo funny!!!   He was trying to keep it quiet, but then he got really red and coughed it up.   He ate so fast he tried to swallow it whole!   I have never laughed harder in the mission.
Anyways, another cool experience from the week. We visited a family who we were teaching and then stopped visiting for about two weeks.   During our last discussion the mom stopped me in the middle of the message and said, "I have a question.  How come that when I read the Book of Mormon and when you guys come visit me I feel this peace, its almost like a heat, and then when your not here I dont feel it?"    We tried to explain best we can how the spirit works with us, but it it was another testimony to me that even when people don't accept our message the spirit still witnesses our words. 
Anyways, love you all lots!  And Happy Birthday MOM Tomorrow! Maybe my letter will get there and that can be your present, but I'll be sure and eat some cake for you!! 

Love,
Elder Donaldson