Saturday, August 12, 2017

Miracles.



Hola Familia!

I'm doing well and loving this area. We have lots of investigadors too. We should have two getting baptized this week so I'll hopefully have some pics of that as well. And the ward here kicks butt. They really help us out and a lot of them are young converts . (July 10)
Elder D a little fond of his 45 liter Coke bottle collection. 

Well this week was quite the week! We had some cool experiences, definitely a testimony to me that the Lord runs this work. We spent 2 weeks planning these baptisms to a T, verifying with all the members, getting all the music and videos and everything else we needed, making assignments, everything. We did everything. But Satan did not want these people to get baptized. It started on Tuesday. We went out Tuesday morning to buy some coke and bread, which we shouldn't have done, but we left anyways. As we were walking down the street, we ran into H, which is super weird because its far from his house, and he just looked furious. He came up to us, and explained that his mom, the landlord of his house, called the police and evicted him from his tiny house because he said some rude stuff to her the night before. So he was homeless for the moment. But finding him that morning was the first miracle, because if we didn't find him he would have gone to Bogota to get away from everything, and we wouldn't have seen him ever again. So finding him due to our disobedience was the first miracle. So we walked to a panaderĂ­a to sit down and drink something to try and calm him down.

30 seconds later, his brother, the elders quorum president, drove by on his motorcycle. What are the odds.? Miracle number two. So his brother comes and talks to him and calms him down, and makes arrangements to talk to his mother and work other things out. Meanwhile, we made arrangements with H to accompany us to our visits for the day, a chance to feel the spirit and distract him for a while. It worked. H is back at his house, his mom forgave him and went to his baptism and confirmation, and he feels great about everything.


Satan didn't want him to get baptized, but the will of God is more powerful, and based on the odds of those two miracles happening, God really wanted him to get baptized.



H, our convert is also a painter. He paints pictures of Jesus, and well just about everything you want so if you would like him to do a painting of Jesus or the family or something let me know. He charges about 30 bucks for a hand done painting or drawing, and I could send it home with a returning missionary. Just a thought of a cool souvenir for the fam. (July 17





Another investigator, D had a bit of a rough week as well, but we did everything we possibly could with the ward to figuratively hold her hand through everything, and when she finally got baptized, I had never seen her smile so big for so long. Y'all have no idea what has happened to her in her life. And if she never smiled once for the rest of her life I honestly wouldn't blame her. But she is just so much happier now, there is an incredible difference between the first day we met her and her life now.





I can't express it enough. It's been some really good weeks. So grateful to my Heavenly Father and his blessings. Furthermore, we still have lots of potential discussions to teach for the weeks ahead.


The mission has really settled in. I feel like I've been here my whole life. Just this last week a lot of the north American missionaries went home... making me pretty much one of the older missionaries in the mission now... I still feel new though. I feel a lot of peace and so happy to be a missionary. It's hard to describe, but I love it. The clouds were out everyday this last week so we didn't have too many hot days, well its always hot but it was more bearable this week. Our converts are doing well, H was out of town all week working and got back late Saturday night. He had an accident so he didn't come to church yesterday, we are gonna go visit him tonight. We passed by D last night and she just thanked us over and over again for bringing her the gospel.



Weekly Fried Chicken!


Amongst the spiritual outpourings we still have a little fun. Probably the funnest thing this week was making empinadas with Elder Cox Sunday night... we had no idea what we were doing and they turned out really gross but the guacamole was good.

Anyways, I love you lots and I am grateful for all you do. Thanks for all the updates, and the story about Grandpa! :) I'll make sure I always remember my belt now. (July 24)

Lots of love,
Elder Donaldson

August 7th, 2017, Elder Donaldson sent a picture of a letter rather than an email. Shared below. Love this missionary.


Sunday, July 9, 2017

Contacting Secret Ingredient: JELLO New Area: Neiva

People are interesting.  It has been some challenging weeks.  My comp and I are getting along better. It is frustrating when he doesn't and won't get out and work.  I had to call president one day because he just didn't want to work.  The next day was the same.  President just told me to have patience, and well I am trying.  We had a few knock down heart to hearts.  I may or may have not tried my wrestling cradle moves but now we laugh and make jokes now.  Maybe its because I started buying him KFC every night.  But maybe that's all he needs.  Hopefully the next few weeks can be like the past two days. 

There is much good even among the growing hard stuff so I'll share:

First to answer your questions.... I eat a lot of fried chicken, bacon, and I even found those yogurt bags dad told me about.  That's about it, and the usual rice and beans.

The ward mission leader here is awesome.  He can barely walk because his right leg is so swollen, but he walks like ten miles to the temple every Wednesday.  When he isn't in the temple he is with us... He's honestly my hero!!  His whole family is inactive but I have never met a man more dedicated than him.

Inspiring Ward Mission Leader
P day we actually got to go to the temple this morning!  I loved being there.  And well the rest the day I was cleaning the house and doing laundry.   The only other missionaries in our district are the zone leaders, and they are awesome, some days my comp just wont leave the house so they come over and do a division with us so I can leave and visit our appointments.

This week we had five people come to church which is really good here!!   One lady who I have been teaching for like 8 weeks is finally came with her whole family! Another family we have is getting married this week so hopefully they will be baptized soon! We found a bunch of less active members as well this week, almost all of them left because of gossip.. Hermano Triana, the mission leader, said whenever he hears gossip he asks the people to write their statements on a paper and then sign it. I think im going to put that theory in practice.

The other funny story in Bogota---its super hard to contact people so me and my zone leader were on divisions one day, and we made a bunch of jello and set up a table and then just gave out jello to try and contact. it actually worked a ton better.   I'll send you pictures of that too!

Just got moved this week.  6 hour bus ride to Neiva.  New comp from Las Vegas.  Smaller town, very hot.  Like 100 temps everyday.  I'll share more about this next week!

New Area Neiva
Your trip in the subway sounds awesome!  I wish I would've been there. Summer of 2019 we will have to do it.

This week I had a couple of spiritual experiences, but one thing was a talk by President Hinckley that I listened to. He said if you go on a mission "I cannot promise you fun, but I can promise you you will re evaluate your priorities in life."  How true that is.   I look back on how much I have grown in the mission, its incredible and its only been 8 months.  I haven't written a hundreth part of the things I have gone through here, but someday I will be able to share everything.


I love you lots and cant thank you enough for your prayers.   Thank you for all you do!!
And can you give a special thanks to the Bishop for me.   President Erying always talks of inspired priesthood leaders, and he was mine. Let him know that his sacrifices for the priests in little old Brigham city aren't in vain.

Keep me in your prayers and I'll keep you in mine!
Love,
Elder Donaldson

Sunday, June 4, 2017

New Favorites: Aprons and Speakers

Well I am putting my new apron to good use.  Thanks again for the stuff you sent. We cooked up some traditional breakfast burritos and pancakes.  We even found some Aunt Jemima syrup.  )

Today I'll start by answering your questions.  Our best investigator is A. He was baptized but then never came back to church about three years ago, so he was never confirmed.  When we visited with him now, he said he is ready to make a change in his life.  He struggles with the word of wisdom, but the thing that his boosted his testimony is the same thing that boosts everyone's.  The Book of Mormon.   I have literally seen the seed of faith in people grow and bring forth crops like Alma talks about with every person that reads the Book of Mormon. It's so true if people will just give it a try.  Struggling?  Well, then sit down and read the Book of Mormon.  Power in that scripture.

The large umbrella was awesome, then I left it in a taxi!!  I was so bummed.  But it's okay because now I have a new one--a bigger one--with a little extension on the end for better reach.   :) 


Highlight of the week was with Elder Gardner on Saturday.  We had the awesome opportunity to take missionaries from the MTC out for the day. They didn't speak any Spanish.  I was with Elder Johnston from Mesa, Arizona.  Maybe Moose knows him?  We had a good day.  It was crazy thinking I was at the same Spanish level as these guys eight months ago. The gift of tongues is real.

Another change though; Elder Gardner left, he is the financial secretary for the mission now, and my new comp is Elder C from Peru. One day together so far.  I"ll let you know how it goes!


This week I have been listening to talks by President Hinckley, and WOW does he kick butt.  He is probably my new favorite. :)  I hope you know I have a strong testimony, especially of the Savior. It's amazing how much we come to know Him as we strive to do the things He does, and follow His footsteps.

Keep up the good work at home.
I love you all,
Elder Donaldson

Sunday, May 21, 2017

New Area: Kennedy!

I don't have too much to write about since I saw you all yesterday on our Skype call!  That was awesome.  Today I  got to spend some time with Elder Amick and Elder Argyle and Elder Ostler again.  We had a combined zone football game and soccer game, so that was a treat since we cant write or communicate with other elders in the mission here.



So a little more about my near area.  It's still in Bogota just further south and the neighborhood is called Kennedy.  I live on the same street, just 70 blocks down and I got here in taxi. This area is more safe and much flatter!  No mountain hills.  My new comp is Elder Gardner from Idaho.  Very awesome comp!  100% Obedient, hard worker, our only weakness is we both get tired during study time and have to keep each other awake.  But I'm very blessed to be his companion.  We are teaching tons and I'm super excited about this area.  I'll give you an update next week on the work.  And I"m sure some funny experiences. 

The ward here is really good too.  I've never met someone more dedicated than the ward mission leader here.  He's near 75 years old, but cleans the church every Saturday, accompanies us on splits every day, works as a sealer in the Temple, and is always helping others.  He also has a lot of physical limitations but if you met him you wouldn't know because he is always working and never complains.  I really admire him and hope I can become more like that in my own life

Fried Chicken deluxe
 They have awesome Fried Chicken here.  And it's cheap!  We get a whole fried chicken for under $6 bucks.    We stop there on our way home a lot of nights.  Only once it didn't settle too well with my comp.  Whoops!

My testimony continues to grow.  
One thing that I have been thinking about a lot is preparing to become the future husband and father my future wife deserves.  I listened to a talk by President Hinckley about it. My prayers have changed from asking for a good future wife, to help make me the future husband she deserves. I am very blessed to have great examples as parents, if you came to Colombia you would see how rare that is in the world.  However marriage is still an eternity away so I have plenty of time to prepare, which is good because I have a long way to go.  I've also been working hard at looking for the good in everyone. 
Also I have like every talk from the past ten years on my memory.  I listen to them at night, and yep Elder Christoffersen is still my favorite, 
Thanks for the pictures, packages, and love.  I love you tons and pray for you daily.  If there is anything else I can do for you guys, lemme know. 

My large umbrella I told you about.  :)
Love,
Elder Donaldson

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Birthday Adventures!

This week was interesting.  We had a lot of things happen.  Our baptism fell through.  Hopefully it will happen in two weeks or so.  We've had some challenges getting people to church.  A lot of our investigators live way up in the mountains.  They don't get home until late.  It's dangerous to walk up there late at night so we have been doing more contacting down lower in the city.  And without our phone (which was stolen) we haven't been able to call our investigators!

As far as the robber story goes, (since Dad told you...) he took my backpack and scriptures, but not my personal ones, and my sweater was in there---nothing else.  My  passport and all that is safe in the offices, but I had a little hand held ID.  Because that was stolen I had to go to the immigration offices for like 5 hours on my birthday to get a new ID.   My missionary name tag was in my bag so I only have 1 right now.  I should have a new one of those in a week or so.   D left for another city, and we haven't been able to call him since our phone was taken.  That's the worst part about getting robbed, we lost a ton of investigators and future investigators, but I trust the Lord has a purpose for everything.

So how about this.....I spent my birthday in Bogota trying to pick up the pieces from what I lost in my bag.  It was actually pretty nice because I got to stay at the secretaries home.  They have the nicest home in the mission.  They have hot water, a dryer, an oven, and recliners in their house.  It was almost like home!  Plus there are more restaurants in Bogota so for my birthday dinner I had 3 Big Macs and they were delicious.
Birthday Big Macs!


I had a ton of emails for my birthday and because we only have an hour to write I didn't get to write everyone back or read them all.  I felt loved and supported and so grateful.   I will try to respond in the next few weeks but if you could please let people know for me that I was so grateful for them thinking of me.   I had a great birthday, though it wasn't quite the same here in the mission. Its very different but special in its own way.
My new love...Hashbrowns and gravy!

I am so happy that you all got the gifts I sent home and exactly as timed.  :)  I hope you like the soccer shirt and it fits.  Everyone is tiny here so I wasn't sure.  The package only cost me about $60 for everything so it wasn't too much and I hope everyone liked their gifts!

I've been studying the Book of Mormon a lot lately.  King Benjamin.  I've been reading his discourse on pride.  It's easy at times to recognize it in others, but I've been reflecting on my own heart lately.   My goal is to be more humble when I come home from the mission than I was before I left.   Why is that pretty rare in my observations?  He also talks about God' greatness and how important is to remember that especially in hard times.

We had a conference with President this last week.  That was super cool!

I love you all and am beyond grateful for your patience in raising me and continuing to support me. Thanks for all you do for me.   I pray for you all every day.

Love,
Elder Donaldson
Still love soda. :)



Sunday, April 16, 2017

Compassion for Robbers; and..Happy Easter!

Hello Family,
Busy, busy but I'll catch you up on a few things.  Colombia had a soccer game this week.  When Colombia plays the streets are DEAD.  Everyone is watching the game.  When you knock on doors people yell at you for interrupting the game.  So Elder Ostler and I took some pamphlets (Law of Chastity and Word of Wisdom) walked around the park and gave them out to weed smokers and people making out.  :)  It was kind of fun though I don't think anyone will call us.

General Conference!  All the English Elders got to watch Conference together in the Bishop's office at the ward building.  And we got to listen to it in English.  :)  Loved every minute of it.  I got a lot out of Conference, but more than anything that I needed to improve on my perspective, look at trials with faith and eternal perspective, and to look at others with love and brotherly kindness; including those of other faiths.   This is not easy for me.   I really liked how Nephi described other churches and organizations in 2 Nephi 26.   It's a perfect picture of Colombia.  However, it doesn't mean Christ doesn't love these people. They are brothers and sisters who have lost their way and need the restored gospel as much as anyone. Looking at them and seeing their potential instead of their faults is what I hope to accomplish now.


General Conference Party!

The ward here is great. We have about 100 people who are active who attend every week, and a lot of less actives to work with as well. The high priest group leader is super cool and has a super strong testimony, and gives us lunch once a week. He has gone through some immense trials, but has welcomed me and really made me feel at home here. Also Liliana and Daniel and their uncle, she was my first baptism, and Daniel her cousin will be baptized soon. They buy us lunch a lot, and speak English, but we are helping them improve that. Those are the members that are probably my best friends, but there are many more who I am close with. I really don't want to leave this area, I would be fine finishing my year and a half here to be honest.

That's crazy about your friend who got robbed in Chicago!! I've heard too many stories here in this mission about missionaries and people getting robbed, but the good news is people don't usually get hurt, they just take your money and phones. (I've found my ways around it)  I have also taught a lot of people on the mission here that used to rob people, because they didn't have money and had a family to feed.  I have gained a new compassion for them, though i don't justify or support their actions. I feel very blessed to have been raised in Brigham City, its not perfect but its dang close.
Bogota Town Square

Colombia foods I like, Pechuga Pernil. its a chicken plate, with mushroom sauce is super good. and a soup called Agiaco, super good.  I got my rain jacket fixed, a guy sewed a piece of black leather on it and it looks good and not burnt now.  And yes,  Elder Ostler likes pickleball,  honestly the only thing I wanna ask for is more pictures. I love seeing all your faces.



A few funny jokes:
Elder Argyle got into our apartment before the other Elders did and we hid and sacred the crap out of them.  We also made oreo cookies but we put skin lotion in the middle.  Haha.  They ate it too.  Still me...gotta have fun some times!

We visited a family up in the mountains.  I made them a Peach Cobbler.  It kind of turned out funny tasting but they ate it anyways.  They came to church on Sunday so they must have liked it.

This week is the Catholic Holy Week, most of our investigators are out of town.  The Bishop is out of town so it shall be interesting week.  We will see how things go. 
And speaking of Easter I don't know if you have seen the Easter video the church did, but look it up if you haven't, its super good.  We watch it all the time.

I love you all.  I love being a missionary, and I love my Savior.

Elder Donaldson

Mom...look what I found!

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Haircuts Gone Bad. Pizza for General Conference!

A Day in Bogota
So this week was transfers.  My new companion is from Kaysville, Elder Ostler.  He's been out about 8 months in the mission field.  Elder Gregor left for a different area in Bogota.  I feel like the time is really starting to fly by.  This last companionship went so quickly.  Elder Gregor and I became pretty good friends by the time he left and we were working hard.  I felt like he left happy. 
Elder Ostler and I

We had a baptism on Saturday. Next week we have another one scheduled.   We knocked over 100 doors this week and only had 2 investigators.  We made some plans to work with the members so we will see how that goes and if we have better success. I've gotten use to walking up the mountain every day but I've worn out one pair of shoes already.  I sewed some new soles on them.  We will see how that works out.  If I need some new ones its easier to buy them here. Everything is a lot cheaper here, and if your smart you can find good quality stuff, especially leather is cheaper.


A couple of fun stories from the week!  
I got tired of paying for haircuts so I purchased my own set of hair clippers.  I don't have any idea what happened but half way through my trim the crazy hair clippers caught on FIRE!!!  Ha. Ha.  I had to walk it back to the store with a half-shaven head.  :)  I got better set of clippers so it's all good.  I look half bald in some of the pictures.  Blame it on the lighting and short hair.   I cut all the Elder's hair in my district this last week.  Luckily, theirs all turned out much better than mine did   :)

Another funny moment.  We were walking one day and it was raining and raining.  We didn't see it coming, but a bus drove by and splashed us--TOTALLY SOAKED us!  We were drenched, but just kept working.  What else can you do?  My shoes are still drying out. 



Bogota Jungle trails


My favorite scripture this week was in 2 Nephi 2: 24.  It is very simple, but something we too often forget.  It's what I remember when the mission gets hard, or when I miss home, or have insecurities for the future.  I have faith though.  Everything---challenges, trials, afflictions, are done in the Wisdom of God.  I know it can be tough to remember this at times of trials, but I know it to be true.

I'm so excited for General Conference.  I can't wait to hear all the apostles talk.  We get to watch General Conference in the bishops office and we get to watch it in English! I'm pretty excited. We plan on ordering Dominos Pizza on Saturday since we won't have the usual conference feast.   My new favorite talk of all time is by Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, "Come what may and love it". Give it a read if you got time.  Can't wait to hear what you all like and learn!

I don't have tons of time today, but know how much I love you all.  I want you to know I am working my hardest. and I'm learning to enjoy even the bad parts of the days.   I love my Savior, Jesus Christ and I know this is His gospel.

Love,
Elder Donaldson

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Obedience First and Work Hard



Hello!  It's been a good and busy week.  I'm learning and learning and working hard.  To answer some of your questions.  We only get to attend the temple on holidays, and I haven't gotten to yet, but the next holiday is in March sometime.  My current comp has been a member his whole life.  He has almost a year in  the mission.  I think he wants to be an electrician after the mission. District meetings we usually just talk about numbers, and more numbers, and sometimes we talk about how we can improve as a district and things.  I'd rather be out working in the field though.

We have a pensionista in this area.  That is a lady who gives us lunch everyday from her restaurant. The President of Colombia lives in my area.  Here are a few pictures of that:



Daily Living:
How I do my laundry?  Well, the first two weeks here a guy brought us a washing machine on a motorcycle, but one day he couldn't come for a few days and I had to wear dirty clothes so now we rent a washing machine in our house.  We don't have a dryer though.  We air dry everything. and no we don't have a guard here, just a house.  There are bars on the windows and two metal doors to enter, and we have a lock.   Anyways...you asked me to share what acts of kindness I did this week?  Not sure if I can think of any intentional acts of kindness.   I cooked hash browns, spaghetti, Mcmuffins, and well I cook and clean up dinner every night for my comp.  Many elders here have no idea how to cook.  Definitely a skill I am grateful for!  Thanks for teaching me.

 It's been a good week.  I defended my pickle ball championship title again!  It's a great P-Day activity.
Our weekly pickleball court

Used my birthday $$ to get some new shoes.

Obedience:
I've realized that not all the missionaries here want to or are obedient.  I've been a little frustrated with some of them. I've made too big a sacrifice to be here in the mission to let it go to waste.  I want everyone home especially you mom to know I'm working my very hardest. More than anything I want my Savior to know I respect my call to serve, and will fulfill it best of my abilities.

I am totally committed to follow the mission rules, be obedient and work hard.  This week we had a lot of success.   We had tons of new investigators and almost all of them came to church! Hopefully some of them will get baptized in 2 weeks or so.  It's looking hopeful.

Update on the Work
But as far as your questions go, this week went
well, we have like 10 or so new investigators ever yweek the tough part is having ones that progress, especially here where everyone believes in god but there are more than a million churches here.  It reminds me of the time Joseph Smith described.

The most spiritual lesson this week was with a family who we probably are going to have to leave this week.  We were  teaching the doctrine of Christ.  For me it is tough to hold back tears sometimes teaching this lesson because I know how powerful it is.
Also my first baptism is scheduled this Saturday, we have only been teaching her for a week, she is a reference who has been meeting with the other missionaries for a while at one of her friends houses but lives in our area.  She is very excited so I'll let you know how it goes next week.


Final thoughts:
My birthday package arrived! thank you soo much for the cards and the candy! tell Krissy and Grandma and Grandpa I loved their cards! sorry I couldn't wait to open it.  I had an early birthday.  I ate pretty much all the tootsie rolls, and the Reeses pieces are struggling to survive. It was a nice relief from some of the pressures this week to have a package from home, and more than anything the new photos! Everyone tells me how beautiful our family is.   I miss you guys like crazy, but there's no place I'd rather be then preaching the gospel here. I've finally got a hold on the language, I'm still getting used to the culture, but the work is really starting to pick up. I'm jealous you got to see president Eyring and Holland, those are my second and third favorite apostles!  I learn so much from all of their talks and writings.  Thanks for sharing with me.  You have named my 2,3,4,and 5 favorite apostles,  but you forgot my all time, Elder Christoffersen. I read at least two of his talks every week! 
Have a good week.  I love you all.
Elder Donaldson


Sunday, February 26, 2017

Suit and Tie at Church and Pickleball :)

Bogota is huge.  I think top ten biggest cities in the world.  My area is the border of the city. Trust me Hawaii rain forest is nothing like Colombia... its much prettier there, or at least prettier than Bogota! 

My district
We have full days of walking! My legs have gotten much stronger from walking up and down that mountain everyday. I've even had to use my adventure hat because we are very high up and it roasts my face.

The only problem with my new area is they don't have any cinnamon rolls, and if they do they aren't cheap.  :) 

Our new schedule is awesome.  We still have to wake up at 630am, but we come home at nine and don't have to plan or update the area book.  We do that in the morning, leave to work at ten, and after lunch when everyone is working we study language and companionship study.  I really like the new schedule because i don't have to study for five hours straight.

This Sunday I gave a talk in church on Family History.  It was a little scary because it was all in Spanish.  Everyone said it was good and quoted things from my talk so I think they understood. People don't believe me when I tell them I only have 4 months in Colombia.

I've been reading General Conference talks in Spanish.  We have like every Liahona in our apartment since like the 90's.  I have a new found love for church magazines.  It's weird how my focus on the mission changes.  I can hardly remember American music, movies, or sports, but I can name all the apostles in order and tell about at least one talk they have given.  My favorite is Elder Christofferson.  His talks are always direct and answer many of my questions. 
My study desk and comp

My bed.  Before I made it. 
My most meaningful experience I had this week was teaching the restoration to a man named A. I feel like I taught the restoration for the first time and he understood.   The other missionaries had been teaching him for two months and he hadn't come to church yet, but he came this Sunday in a suit and tie!!  Happiness.   He began asking more meaningful questions and really progressing.  That is why the restoration is lesson 1.  If someone doesn't understand that then we are just like any other church.

Our awesome made pickleball court. 
My companion retrieving our pickleball.  From the roof. 
 What made me smile most this week was without doubt playing pickle-ball1   The paddles were the best gift ever and are coming in quite handy.  We didn't have painted lines or a net, we used chairs and cracks in the cement, but it reminded me a little of home, and was nice to play something other than soccer for once.  Though I will say I have enjoyed soccer more here, and I have gotten somewhat decent, but its nothing compared to pickle-ball. The Latinos loved it too.  We will see next week if I can convince them to play instead of soccer.  But Mom, you can take pride in giving birth to the first pickleball champion in Colombia.  Elder Argyle took me to the third round overtime, but I ended up champion!!

Have a great week.  The gospel is true.

Love you all,  Elder Donaldson





Throne
My kitchen in Bogota

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

"Hello" Mountains and Adele! :)

This week was good!  My new area is very different. The weather is perfect everyday.  The hottest it gets is like 70.  I am now serving in a ward not a branch we have many more members.  The area I am in is on the edge of the city.  Part of our area includes the mountain villages.   It is hard walking up the mountains everyday.  It's literally like hiking Timp, but the view is great!!  In some ways it reminds me of Utah because there are pine trees and a river there. 
We walk up in those mountains every day!

We do a ton of walking.  We don't have bikes here.  Just walk and our area is like the size of Brigham City.  My legs were so sore the first few days but I've pretty much gotten used to it now.

My comp is Elder G from Ecuador.  He talks a lot and has a heavy accent--makes it hard to understand everything he is saying.  But it's the best for improving y Spanish!  We get along well and I like his energy.  He is a hard worker.   We are going to practice together budgeting because when I arrived he had no money and had spent it all on doughnuts!  Haha!  I used almost all my savings to buy dinners for us this week.   Luckily I can cook so we've been eating spaghetti and PB & J's!  I like that he is very clean though.  His desk is always organized and his clothes folded.  I can learn from that!!
New Comp!
I live in a house now.  It has a kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom, and extra room where we put all our stuff.   It is little bigger than the apartment in Ibague.
Notice all our water is bottled.
 Yes I was in the earthquake!  It wasn't that big though, just shook the bus station a little. Nothing in our area was destroyed just some things fell of shelves and stuff!  It was pretty cool though.  We are still waiting to hear about further south in the mission where it was closer to the center of the quake.

We are working hard trying to find more effective ways to contact.  We have to work hard to earn their trust because at first sight everyone thinks we are Jehovah Witnesses who like to Bible bash so Colombians avoid them.  That's not us.  It's almost impossible to street contact in this part of Bogota.  Let's just say this is not the safest place in Bogota.  The last missionaries were not that obedient, but my district now is good and we are working hard here.

A few funny things:
  • We were teaching an investigator family.  The daughter came out just in her towel from the shower.  She went to wave at us and her towel fell.  We just kept teaching the lesson and pretended we didn't see anything.  
  • The other morning I went to cook hot chocolate and the blender exploded and I had hot chocolate all over me.   That was a timely mess!  So much for that white shirt. 
  • And Mom, you'll laugh at this one....I was shouting in my sleep one night.  I guess my comp woke up and got scared and told me he hid under his blanket.  Night terrors.  Thanks for the genetic gift.  :)
  • Oh my comp told me his favorite hymn was the song Hello by Adele, because he has the music video of two missionaries who made a parody of the song.  He seriously, hands down,  thought it was a hymn.   You  should look up the video.  It's pretty funny.
I've missed Elder Amick a lot since the move.  We are not supposed to write other missionaries in the mission so that's been hard too.  But I have a new friend here in this district, Elder A from Spanish Fork.  He's 7 months in the mission and we get along really well too.  We had some very interesting experiences this week but I'm not going to go into too many details.   Just know I've been protected by the Lord and all is well in Colombia!

Love,
Elder Donaldson

Transfer Day and Little Superman

Well yes I got moved. It was tough leaving Ibague, M isn't baptized yet but probably will be in the next two or three weeks. He has to attend church three times first. We had a pretty good last week in Ibague, and I did get the Pickleball paddles in the package.  I was on exchanges with Elder Amick when they arrived, so we played some racketball in the apartment! Not sure if they neighbors liked that though.
Package Goods.  Last Day in Ibaque


Saying goodbye to my trainer.


I had two spiritual experiences this week I want to share. The first was when I saw the picture of the little superman and his dad.  Dad gave it to me when I was like five... but i love that picture. I read the back for the first time, and it talked about the importance of fathers, and all the supermen who have to save the world alone everyday. I thought specifically about two little boys who we are teaching their family.  They are 5 and 8 years old. They always tell us we are their best friend, and always want us to play futbol or ride bikes with them because they are left alone in the street pretty much all the time and get yelled at if they go inside. These boys are always begging to come to church with us, but their parents are never ready. Their parents aren't bad people, but they just never play with their kids, and really just get mad if they even ask for things.  I thought of how blessed I am for my Dad, and all the times he played with me, took me fishing, built me forts, bought me food, and was a Dad for me. It breaks my heart seeing all the supermen save the world alone. Saying goodbye to those two boys was probably the hardest goodbye of leaving Ibague, I'm not sure who is gonna play with them now.

The other experience I had was with fasting.  I fasted for gratitude. It was a little tougher since my comp didn't fast.  He is very strict on rules and we forgot it was fast Sunday until like 3 o'clock Saturday.  Since lunch was at 2 Sunday he decided not to fast because it wouldn't be twenty four hours... but I just fasted for gratitude.  I remember being starving all day, and in the night I was studying some Mormon messages, and just felt very at peace.  I completely forgot my hunger, and the rest of my fast was very easy. I don't know if I'm looking forward to fast Sunday.  I haven't quite reached that level yet like you, Mom but I do know they are powerful.

Anyways, my new comp is Elder Gregor from Ecuador. He is a little more energetic and seems like we will get along fine, he doesn't speak English either though. which is good, my Spanish has improved a ton thanks to having companions who don't speak English. I'm in Bogota now, in well one of the areas that is a little more dangerous, but the weather is much better. its 60 everyday. I cant thank you enough for all the support and work you have done for me and special thanks for the package and recipes.  

I love you all!
Elder Donaldson

Sunday, February 5, 2017

New Daily Schedule and Missionary Moments!

Well this week was alright!  We had a meeting and Elder Oaks announced they are changing the missionary daily schedule.   P-Day is 2 hours longer and study time is 2 hours shorter.  We might be able to stay out until 10 or 11pm and get up at 7:30am.  We are still waiting for direction from President, but I love the new schedule!

P-Day with my missionary pals.  My new Mandals--they are not the Adidas 3G superstars but I tried!
A member of our branch who had some bad health and couldn't attend church died this week.  My job at the funeral was to lead the music.  We sang, "God Be With You Til We Meet Again".  I thought about you and the family.  I imagine that's how God feels about us.  He wants us to return more than anything.


This week was interesting.  I wrote down some of my experiences in the hand written letter, but no none of the investigators made it to church again.  But I have seen people literally change parts of their lives and receive happier families when they read the Book of Mormon.  Having people attend church here is very hard, because there are so many churches here and most of them are just businesses. People ask us how much money to bring for tithing when we invite them to church. That makes it difficult to teach the law of tithing.  We keep trying every day.

I had another special experience this week during personal study.   I had read a conference talk on preparing for the sacrament.  I was pondering on what I read and felt impressed to repent, confess to the Lord little things I had felt badly about and ask for forgiveness.  I felt some overwhelming love surround me.  I can't properly describe the peace and then the love and appreciation I had for my Savior.  The rest of the week I found a new excitement to share about the great gift of repentance!   I feel very blessed.   

How different is the house without me? I imagine you guys have had time to adjust by now, more quiet?  Thank you for putting together a flash drive.  That will be so helpful.  Could you email me pictures of the shark too so I  can show it to my missionary friends as well.  We don't  have Ipads or anything like that here.  The missionaries get robbed pretty regularly so we don't carry hardly anything with us when we walk around, usually no more than a dollar in cash.   It's usually teens with screw-drivers looking for goods.  Amick got his watch stolen and some other stuff.

There are actually a lot of American restaurants here in Ibague like Subway, McDonald, Dominos, and a bunch that are franchises here in Colombia. but the Dominos pizza is pretty good.  There are other pizzas that I won't eat.
Subway lunch on P-Day

Some funny experiences this week:  One day I was fasting on my own, my comp was not.  We went to visit a lady who brought out some nasty drink.  My comp didn't want to be rude so we didn't tell the lady I was fasting.  He had to drink both of them for us!!!

Another guy we contacted really liked me so he invited me to accompany him to the "ladies of the night".  Um.....not :0!!

After lunch one day this week we got invited to go to another lunch.  Lunches here are HUGE so I was already stuffed.  When we arrived they had steak and empinadas.  I'm pretty sure I gained 10 lbs that day!

A Catholic Church in Ibague
Elder Amick has become my best friend out here in the mission.  I truly am very blessed to be able to be in the same district as him for my whole training. We have had so many funny and long days together, but transfers are this week so we will see what happens. Thanks for sending the package with the pickle ball racquets. I need to practice so Dad can't beat me when I get back... anyways.  I'm working hard and am grateful for this time to be a missionary, "it is but a small moment."  
That's all ....  til next week.  I love you all.

Elder Donaldson

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Colombian Landscape Pictures, Testimony and Pizza


We are only supposed to write home for an hour each week, and usually it takes me an hour and twenty minutes to write everyone and my companion is crunching down on the time so I sent some pictures of things I wrote.  I hope you got those okay too. 

I want you to know how much your testimony as well as Dad's have carried me through some of the tough times in my mission. Whenever I have doubts or struggles, I always know that you have a strong testimony, and when I can't remember my own I remember yours. Can't you thank enough for that. 

Today I am writing you a little bit late because President called and sent us to a village called Mariquita to pick up some marriage papers and visit a family. The journey was like two hours, and it was so freaking hot there!  We spent most the day visiting the family because they can't attend church for health reasons, and there are no other members in the town.

Some of the scariest things that have happened to me?  Well, I haven't got robbed or anything yet like Elder Amick, but the drunk guys always talk to us and ask us to walk them home. We just tell them we need to pick something up and we will return, and then we go home.  Sometimes there are girls who ask me to be their boyfriend or blow me kisses and stuff because they love the North Americans and think we are all millionaires!  Haha!  One girl grabbed my leg and asked if I had a cell phone, but my comp always helps me avoid them.  We have had some interesting experiences for sure....maybe those could be classified as scary?

You asked about the mission theme.  Can I say work?  I'm really not sure, but our President is an amazing man. He is very calm and I don't feel nervous around him.  He always buys us Dominos when he comes to visit which is the only American food in Ibague, which is nice!!
 
People here usually work construction or salesman.  I believe Ivan's wife teaches music at some center or something though. 
 
Other than that, I can't tell you how much I love you all.  Thank you for all you do.  One small favor. Not sure when you're gonna send another package, but it would really really help me out if you could make a flash drive with a bunch of Mormon messages on it.  Especially ones about the priesthood, law of chastity( marriage) and the word of wisdom. My comp has one that he brought from home.  We use it almost everyday.  It would be so helpful for me going forward.  And could you send me pictures of the shark in Alaska?   The people love that story!  
 
Thanks for everything!!!
 
Love,
Elder Donaldson