Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Downtown Bogota Drop Off

    Thank you so much for the snacks!  My companion and I have been skipping dinners sometimes because the food this week was something else.  One night we had Baked Cheese Blocks and the night before that Hot Dogs!  (Ugh!!  You know me and food tastes....)   I commented to my companion jokingly that sometimes the Lord just expects too much.  :)   And to answer you, no they don't have any snacks we can buy while here at the MTC.  I bought a Coke when I was at the immigration offices because they had a vending machine!   But thank you so much for what you sent.  
I have two laundry days a week, and I have spent hardly any of my Colombian money.  We have a date to go into the field I just don't know it yet, mid November.   Thank you for the conference talks.  I really appreciate them! We found one here by President Nelson called "Millennials"  It was so awesome to read, I thought he could read my mind.  
My classes here are mostly all Spanish language classes with a little bit of doctrine mixed in. Today there are only five of us in the MTC.  It's kind of awesome to have it so quiet.  The new people should be arriving tonight from 9pm to midnight. I'm looking forward to seeing Elder Vincent from Brigham City. 
Some good news. We finally got to go outside the gates and practice teaching real people.  They just put us on a bus and dropped us off in the middle of Bogota.  On the way there, we saw a guy going the bathroom right in a park, right in front of lots of children and people, and he wasn't concealing himself at all because I could see everything from the bus.  On a good note, my companion and I gave out two Book of Mormons and talked to at least 10 people Saturday morning.  We only got two hours but it was the best two hours by far yet!!!  I can't wait to be doing that full-time.  We taught one lady the whole first vision in Spanish, and she gave us her contact information because she wanted to meet with the missionaries. We helped her change her flat tire, and she had like a million dogs.   Made me really miss Romeo.

We got to go to the temple again today with just the 5 of us, and it was so great.  I say that every week but really this time was by far the best time yet!   I love being in the temple.  There were a bunch of missionaries there who are coming home in two days, so it was fun to talk to them.  I was amazed they could speak Spanish so well, but my Spanish is getting better. 
Sunday night we had a bunch of devotionals.  My favorite one was Elder Bednar.   He talked about how we can know if it's the spirit or just us, and I think his answer will surprise you.   I recommend his talk highly!  
Thanks for all your love and support.  I love being a missionary.
Elder Donaldson

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Music to the Soul

So this week was an adventure!  Elder A and I got our first contact, we were studying outside and decided to try speaking our broken Spanish to people through the huge fence. There is a busy street right outside the MTC.  We were told if we get anyone's contact information we can give it to the President and he will send missionaries to them. His name was M. He gave us his business card which had all his contact information on it.  He is a drug dealer...

Also one of the elders in our district likes to draw lots of doodles during language class.  Elder A and I found his notebook one night, so in the bottom we wrote "you need to pay more attention in class" and signed it from President Duvall.  He was so embarrassed the next morning, and it was so funny when we told him it was us. All morning he thought the president hated him.
Another funny story, the rapper elder in our room Elder E, saw a picture of my companion's sister and thought she was cute.  He started calling my companion his "cuñado", meaning brother in law!  We agreed to play him and his companion in 2-on-2 basketball.  If they won Elder E got my companion's sister's email, if we won they had to write apology letters for staying up and talking all night long. Ha!!  Of course, we won!!
Other than that life at the MTC is pretty uneventful.  Usually just classes and trying to find things to laugh at or be grateful for. I'm pretty sure I've lost about ten lbs since I've been here.  The weather here is awesome.  It's springtime year round, always between 55 and 65 degrees. I love it!!  The food actually isn't too bad here, the bad thing is we can only eat in the cafeteria and all my snacks were gone the first week, so now I just get my three meals and that's it.  I miss snacks, a lot. Pretty soon I'll be out in the mission field--and snacks!!
We got to go to the temple again today.  Loved that. 

My favorite part of the day is right after my meals, because I go to the chapel and practice piano. I used to hate piano, (Mom made me do it),  but now it is the most relaxing moments of my day. Mostly because the only music I get to listen to is what I play on the piano. There is always an audience of about 5 or 10 other missionaries who come and listen to me play. It's hard without music here. One of the teachers told me I couldn't play my Hallelujah song because it wasn't a hymn.  But I  talked to Hermana Duvall, the President's wife, and she said it was fine. I have been playing it ever since!  That teacher hasn't heard yet.  He might not be happy if he does...
Also my testimony has grown a ton. Everyday I wonder if I'm really supposed to be here.  Each time, as I have studied the gospel and continued to try my best, all of my questions have been answered. Sometimes it's like Heavenly Father is right there talking to me. 

Love you all!  
Elder Donaldson

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Settling in the MTC

Well I finally get to email you guys.  This week has been quite the adventure!

First off my companion is really quiet, but we get along great. He's had some neat experiences and he is similar to me in a lot of ways. However, he is really struggling with homesickness. The first night we got here was really hard for him, and the second night he broke down in tears. He is really close with his family. I fasted for him on Sunday, and I hope you will all keep him in your prayers. He has a strong testimony and the people of Colombia need to hear it, so please keep him in your prayers.

The MTC is great but it looks like a prison. We have a big gate around it, security guards, and all sorts of cool stuff. We only get an hour a day for exercise, and it really feels like I'm in prison because there's only pull-up bars and a basketball court. No one plays basketball here though, its all about soccer. I even scored a goal though!!!  It was the most victorious moment of my life because my roommates are crazy soccer players.  They are from Colombia, Peru, and Mexico.

There are two other Nortes (English speakers) in our room too from Utah and Colorado. They are super nice. The Latinos though always talk. They talk all night.  The president even talked to them and they didn't stop. They are so funny.  I love them!

Here is a funny story for you all. So our roommate from Mexico loves rap music and his girlfriend more than anything. His P- day clothes are all rapper outfits, and I'm pretty sure they aren't allowed. He knows all the English rap songs, but he barely speaks English!?!?  Anyways, he would stay up all night with his flashlight and read his love notes from his girlfriend, when the other night we heard a loud crackling sound and he was laughing. We realized his flashlight is also a taser, and he kept making jokes about tazing people.  It was so funny because the other Nortes were so mad. We told him he can't use his taser anymore though or we are going to talk to president.  (See his flashlight!! :0)

The classes at the MTC are insanely tough. We aren't supposed to speak English ever!  That's tough for me. Also we have to plan every night.  I hate it, but I do it.  I had an interesting experience with the rules. The rules here are strict.  We can't have gum, we can't eat out of the cafeteria, we can't go to the bathroom without our companion, we can't listen to music, and I can't wear my flower tie!! At first I got in trouble for everything because I didn't know, and I was a little upset. But as I prayed and listened to a devotional by Elder Cook I realized that its more important to be obedient. I have never been good at that, but I know the Lord will bless me as I try my best.

Elder Amick and I are already teaching Spanish lessons, and it's hard. I don't even know what I'm saying half the time, and understanding the Latinos is impossible, but we are going to invite our pretend investigator to be baptized tomorrow.  We will see how that goes. All my teachers are Latino, and they speak broken English. Somehow we get our message across, and my Spanish has tripled from what I learned in high school!!

I've got tons of stories from this week, but I don't have time to write them all,and these keyboards are in Spanish so its really frustrating typing in English. The food here isn't too bad. We eat a lot of soup and rice. they don't have Mt Dew but I've converted to 7-Up because that's all they have.

Today we got to go to the temple.  It was so cool.  It was all in Spanish, but I have never felt the spirit stronger in the temple than I did today. I also got outside the fence for the bus ride. Bogota is crazy, the driving here is worst than the Dominican Republic.!!  I think we might have killed some bikers on the way to the temple.

Other than that, I hope all is well with everyone back home.  I love you all and pray for you every day.  I can't wait to write you all next week.

Love, Elder Donaldson.
P.S.  Sorry my grammar is bad everything is underlined in red and the buttons are different on the Spanish key boards.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

I Survived the Flight!

Well, I made it safely to Colombia. We got to the MTC around midnight, and I still haven't unpacked. We have been in meetings and interviews most the day. My companion is Elder Amick from St George.  There are two other American Elders in our room and two Latino Elders that don't speak English. We all try to figure out what they are saying. There are only 15 Americans in the MTC, and there are about 90 people here. I am really struggling to learn Spanish.  I don't know anything yet!!

The weather is nice, its only about 60 degrees. I'm keeping you all in my prayers.  Thank you for all of yours.  I hope all is well.  I miss you all, but I only have five minutes so I will have more stories and details next time I email you, probably next Tuesday since that is P-day.

The story for the day though:
Breakfast was a mystery.  I think I ate eggs and yogurt, but honestly there were some mysterious things mixed in the yogurt.  It looked like Pepto Bismo, and the eggs probably had goat cheese mixed in, but I didn't let myself think that. With enough sauce you can get anything down!  Remember to appreciate your food back in America.  My last meal was an Arby's sandwich in Atlanta. I will think about that sandwich for the next two years. 
Love you all, and thank you for all your support!!

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Ready, Set, Fly!

So Andrew gave an inspirational talk in church last Sunday regarding Christlike Attributes.  He spoke of Faith, Hope, Patience (GRIT), and Charity.  He bore testimony of the Book of Mormon and his desire to take that testimony to the people of Colombia.  I'll be adding his letters and experiences here to this blog to record his mission experience.

He's leaving on a Jet Plane!  Tuesday morning.  Go give them heaven!!