Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Christmas Singing and a little Paintball Fun.

Hello!  Yes, the hotel was awesome but this week was back to reality. 

So quick update on our investigators.   J,  we didn't get to meet with him again until Sunday.  He had read in the Book of Mormon and had felt like it had blessed him in his work this week.  That was great!  He wasn't able to attend church, but he is progressing slowly and is an investigator of gold.

The lady with the crazy kids isn't really interested anymore, but we are teaching her son still who is like twenty five, and the crazy kids are actually his..  He's a little interesting.  Right after I shared the first vision and the spirit was strong he asked me if I believe in aliens?  Um....okay.  And then explained his belief about aliens and his philosophy.  We have a little more work to do there on connecting with him.  We are teaching some others, but those were the two you asked about.  More updates next week.

It has been a little difficult to find any new people this week here because they are always at the Catholic Christmas events.  We don't proselyte at those  We are slowly making progress and finding more prepared people every week.  Our goal is to get them to church.    It's really just been a normal week proselyting.

One cool little experience: 
While we were teaching this elderly lady and her son I heard the neighbor start playing ACDC and Aerosmith and all the music I like that I haven't heard forever so we went to meet him and ended up teaching him a lesson too!!  The music brought the connection.   He was super cool.   
The lady we were teaching earlier lives with her son who is near fifty and he is deaf.  My comp and I decided to study sign language so we can teach him the gospel too.  I'm excited to learn and hopefully it will help me learn Spanish faster too.

We had zone conference this week.  President gave us a lesson on planning which has really helped my companion and I.  We are doing better!

The Christmas traditions here are a bit different than America.  We sing a lot but the problem is everyone is terrible at singing, like unbelievably bad.  We have to play recordings of the hymns louder than the people sing here for church because...well it's bad.  But I love their bad singing here, I really do.  It's part of the culture. The Lord knows the hearts of the people and the spirit comes anyways.   Oh...for the Ward Christmas party we had to sing and let's just say I was the most talented singer, and you know my singing abilities.  :)  It's all good. 

For P Day today our zone went paint balling.  
It was so awesome!  Except I was wearing shorts!!!  I'll think twice about that next time.  :(

One quick funny moment:  A lady brought out rice and liver to eat, and it was tough, but luckily she had a dog who appreciated the food more than I did.   Discretely.  Thanks Dad for the tip.  :)

I really love the people here.  It's a blessing for me to among them.  I love teaching about our Savior during this Christmas time.  Can't wait to talk to you all on Sunday!
Elder Donaldson

Monday, December 12, 2016

Angels, Buffets and Big Macs...It's Christmas Time!

So first it was the Mission Christmas Party this week in Bogota.  The hotel we stayed in for 2 nights was amazing, we were so blessed to be in the hotel! It was by far one of the nicest hotels I've ever stayed in.  It was like a Five Star Marriott on the mission!  Go figure?  I had my own queen size bed.  I got to take a hot bath. I don't know why we were so blessed, but I like to think it was because we had the most prayers, so thank you for praying for us.  :)

At the hotel we got a buffet breakfast.  For dinner I had steak one night and the next night I had sandwich and fries.    And in Bogota the weather is always perfect.  It's not a million degrees like Ibague. 

After waking up in the celestial kingdom and filling my belly with delicious hotel breakfast that almost tasted like American food, we went to the temple. That was awesome. I love going there.  It's such a privilege we take advantage of in Utah.

After the temple, my comp and I visited his old area in Bogota, Soacha.  This is the same place where elder Amick was staying while we were here for the party.

Elder Amick, my pal,  had to stay in the poor part of Bogota an hour away from the activities, so he told me the first morning he didn't get breakfast, he had to sleep on the floor, and he had to wake up at 5am to get to Bogota and ride the transmilenio. I'll explain the transmilenio in a moment. Basically all the elders had conditions like these except me and my comp.

Again, a marvelous Christmas blessing.  I don't why, it's not like we deserved it....but oh how we enjoyed it.  :)

We took the transmilenio out to Soacha.  The transmileno is like a bus train.   It has two or three carts and its own lane in the road.  They pack it as full as it can get.  It's literally hard to breathe and the road is super bumpy so its kind of like wake-boarding.  Hang on and bounce around!!   Everyone is standing up so they can fit more people.   I cannot properly describe how crammed these buses are.  Anyways we were on that for an hour to Soacha.
For lunch that day we found a McDonalds and I had two Big Mac meals.  It cost me about ten bucks in American dollars for both (combos), and I consider that my Christmas dinner because it was soooo goood.

In Soacha my comp showed me where he got robbed at gunpoint, and then we visited some of his member friends and investigadores.  Then we went back to the hotel for the night.

Angel Story
On the way back to the hotel, in the transmilenio, there was a man crying uncontrollably.  I asked him if he was OK.  He told me he was a doctor.  He then explained more in excessive detail about some terrible things he sees as a doctor everyday and how much pain he has in his heart for the people here. I felt for him very much.  I shared with him a little about the gospel and the atonement and gave him a card with the Christmas video.   He told me I was his angel and thanked me.  It was a neat experience.

I met lots of missionaries at the party and I realized how blessed I was to have my comp, and Elder Amick and Elder Vianna in my district.  Most of the elders here are from Peru, Brazil or other South American countries and then about 50 of us from America.  There are no American sisters though, only Latinas.
Back in Ibaque
We came back to Ibague after two nights and days in Bogota and got home around 11:30pm. Friday we did a lot of contacting. My comp and I don't have a lot of chemistry contacting. I don't mean that badly, it's just that he likes to walk fast.  I don't because I don't like to sweat.  Just some little differences like that, but usually we get along good.

We taught four lessons that day, but no one showed up to church. Trying to fill out forms, remember names, and needs of people in Spanish is especially tough.  Although, my Spanish is improving very fast. I can understand most things and express myself--though usually not with proper grammar. It helps that my comp doesn't speak English so we are always talking in Spanish.

As far as mission budget its not too hard for me.  I save a lot of money because I know how to cook!  We can save money each week and spend it on food later so I'm saving up to get a good birthday meal.

We met an interesting man named J. this week.  He told us he used to live on the street. There are a lot of people who live on the street here because they get addicted to drugs and then they just use all their money on that.  They go through people's trash for food.  I try to give them cinnamon rolls whenever I get the chance, but it breaks my heart seeing kids my age looking through people's garbage for food. J. though is trying to change his life.  He lives with his mom now.  He agreed to start reading the book of Mormon, and I have a good feeling about him.

Funny Stories for the week:
Elder Amick and I tried to make some BBQ Sandwiches but the meat here is too chewy so it was literally impossible to eat.
Everyone thinks I'm related to Donald Trump (who they can't stand) because of my last name.   
In Soacha, a lady brought out  a cheese and jam sandwich.  It had no bread---just blocks of cheese with jam in the middle.  You can imagine how that went with me.
A guy started yelling at us in the street and then gave us some weird blessing or prayer to free us from demons or something.  I don't know what he was speaking, not Spanish. It was very weird.

Anyways, blessed and happy.  It was fun week.  I love the gospel.

And I love you all,
Elder Donaldson

Monday, December 5, 2016

Suits and Service

Hello!  First answers to some questions.  Yes I can listen to music, the hymns.  I really appreciate having those with me.   I'll give you Christmas Day Skype time soon.  I heard we will be at the church around 5pm to use the computer there.  We have a small washing machine but we have to wash our clothes by hand first, and yes MOM, I am using the sheets you sent me.  Here in Ibague I don't use a coat.  It's warm.  So much so I despise wearing suits on Sundays because it's a million degrees.  In Bogota sometimes it gets cold enough for a sweater.

 I'm excited for this next week.  Can I say it is pretty much going to be like a vacation for me.  Why?  Well, all the missionaries are going to Bogota tomorrow for the Christmas party.  My comp and I get hooked up with hotel rooms!!!  We are the only elders that get that blessing.  The rest of the elders have to stay in apartments with other elders.   I'm going to enjoy every minute.

This past week was tough, not for me personally, but for our investigators.  Often times I feel very inadequate to help  people because of the greatness of their challenges.  One of our investigator's husband left her to live with another woman, and she kept asking if God could make her husband return.  Another has a brain tumor and 7 kids, no husband, and lives in what I would consider a large shelter at scout camp. I just can't fathom it.  Another has a lot of guilt and hate built up because of past experiences with his family, and past mistakes he's committed that are very difficult to repent of. I don't want to go into detail on how difficult some of the things are that I have seen, but I just want to say you are blessed to live in Brigham City, but please keep praying for the people here.

The language is coming.   Trust me, I  have mastered all the simple, helpful phrases, especially no entiendo. I have complete faith in the Lord that he can help me learn this language, and as I look back I can see how much I have learned.

I have studied a lot about charity.  I've even fasted and prayed to have genuine love.  I have been blessed a few times to see others and feel for others a little as the Savior would.  Just imagine how the world would be different if everyone understood the two greatest commandments.

Funny Stories this Week:
This one lady we teach I think Wo!  I've never seen anyone talk more or faster in my life. She can talk for ten minutes and I have no idea what language she is speaking.  Chinese, French, Spanish?    When she talks she uses a lot of emotion.  I just tell my self she just needs someone to listen to her, even if I don't understand what she is saying.  That is what the Savior would do. Anyways, she brought us this drink, it was milk with corn poured in it.  It was disgusting, and I had to have divine help to get that down, but I did it.
Another family brought us some rice and chicken that was delicious, and while I was thus enjoying the rice everyone looked at me and I wasn't sure why.  I'm still not sure what they asked me, but I got nervous and then I spilled my rice all over the floor and it was really awkward and embarrassing!!
Also while we were walking down the street a kid who was crying and being dragged by his mother was passing us, and as he went to hit his mom he punched me.....where you don't want to be punched.  I survived. :)  That's a wrap from my week.

Anyways, my time is up on the internet.  
All my love,
Elder Donaldson