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!!!
Elder Donaldson

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Tender Mercy at Church

Wow, I am so glad you guys got to have dinner with the Palmer's and Colombians! How are the Palmer's? Have they finished their house yet? Let me know, I miss them! And how did you like the food? The food here is good, and everyday we have rice and meat and a "salad" because the salads are vinaigrette with tomato and onion, but I like them. and the Empinadas? How did you like those? I usually eat those for breakfast or sometimes dinner, but its a daily necessity.  Does the family live in the south or north mission?  I would really like to meet them!

That's cool you got to talk to the patriarch! I read my blessing almost every month, and its interesting the new meanings different parts have meant to me as I have different experiences. One experience I had was I read it this week, and was kind of not focusing and read the story of Jacob in the Old testament one day, and later that same day a member called who is preparing to receive her patriarchal blessing and I was able to explain a little better the importance of the Tribes of Israel, and how my blessing has helped me in my life because I read it that same morning.
With our investigators we had a little progression. A the man who didn't want to listen to us at first returned from Cali because he didn't like it there.  So we are able to continue teaching him, the problem now is they aren't married and that's what we are working towards now.  Nobody is married here because it is expensive and the people don't have a lot of money.
We invited a ton of people to church again this week, and went to pick up three different families and none of them came, during the sacrament I was remembering all of the mistakes or things i could've done better and I felt like it was my fault none of our investigators attended.
But a tender mercy for me because in this moment I felt a feeling of comfort, as I remembered my Savior and he too was rejected. Then I turned around, and the family that was hiding from us two weeks ago showed up!!! 
During church as a district we had so many investigators during the gospel principles class we didn't have enough seats.  It was amazing!!

I get to see elder Amick almost every day.  I truly am so blessed to have a friend here like him. We always do something on p day.  Usually go to lunch and play soccer.  He got robbed again this week, some kids with screwdrivers.  I haven't got robbed yet though, thanks for the prayers!
My study patterns in the morning are improving.  I am reading the Book of Mormon and conference talks, and if i have time I'll review lessons in preach my gospel. During companion ship study we just read the missionary handbook and talk about how to help our investigators.  We have 12 weeks, which is for new missionaries. not my favorite part of the day, we watch videos and do practices. By the time it is language study my brain is too fried to study so I usually just play with the rubix cube my comp has, and he explains it to me in Spanish so I am improving.
Colombian delicacy.
We usually get home around nine, and our apartment complex has a security guard and razor wire so I feel pretty safe. The first six weeks our door was broken and wouldn't lock, but we got that fixed and yes we lock the door now.

View outside our complex.
Other than that all is well in the mission.  Let me know how everyone's week goes.  Love you all!

Elder Donaldson

Only a missionary "but for a short time"

This week was pretty good.  I finally got the package of treats you sent me!!  I can't thank you enough, and the Tootsie Rolls Grandma and Grandpa sent me too! The Kids here don't have alot of money and I gave my tootsie rolls to them and they loved them!! It was the highlight of the new year seeing those kids eat Tootsie Rolls for me. And the Ensign, I have been studying the conference talks and they are a gold mine. Thank you soo much!!  I can't tell you what a difference it made.

We finally had someone come to church this week!! I would like to share the story of E and  with you. They are neighbors of Salvador. We first met them about three weeks ago, and they have two little boys who are full of energy.  The first time we taught them, A didn't want to meet with us and left as soon as we got there, we had to ask Salvador to accompany us so we could teach E. With time eventually A agreed to meet with us, and began progressing very rapidly.  He loved reading the Book of Mormon, and I saw this man change his life 180 degrees. E told us in our first visit that A would get angry easily and they were having problems, but now they seem to be happier then ever.  That's what living the gospel does for families.

Christmas we went to pick up A and E for church but A was too drunk to attend and E to stay home and watch her kids. New years was almost the same except A wasn't drunk because we taught him the word of wisdom.  They were out all night like everyone else!  It's crazy.

SO this week we had a family night with them.  I brought them cinnamon rolls that I love (caƱas) and then we watched the restoration. Its such a powerful video, and was probably the most spiritual lesson I've had on my mission. I am a firm believer that the church videos are the best teachers, because they invite the spirit and the people cant argue with a video. Unfortunately, A had to go to Cali, a different city, to work for 6 months to a year, and we aren't sure how much we will get to see him now.

E came to church with her two boys this week! I had the job of entertaining the boys during sacrament, and they drew pictures all over my planner and notebook, but at least they were somewhat reverent. E had a good experience at church and the members were very welcoming, and that was probably the highlight of my week.
To answer some of your questions:
 What i love about being a missionary is the easiness of it. There are challenges, but every stress in the mission I've learned can be calmed with the phrase "you're only a missionary for but a short time", and it puts back into perspective that I have a family who loves me, a future ahead of me, and Savior who strengthens me.
Crazy Experiences this week
A lady gave us fruit salad, covered in cheese.  Mom, you said I would have to learn to like cheese.  I'm trying.

We went to visit a family for the first time, and it was a man and his son in law. the lesson was going very well until the wife came in.  She is an old lady, who just wants someone to talk to, so she talked and we listened.  I have no idea what she said, but she gave us crackers and soda so I was happy to listen. and she accepted a baptismal date.  :)

For lunch on Wednesdays we go to a restaurant and get a soup, rice, and some kind of meat for about 2 dollars. The meat happened to be inspired by divine revelation that day, because it was BBQ wings!!!!

Other than that, there was one spiritual experience I would like to share with you mom, it happened to me during personal study. I mentioned to Dad the talk I was reading, "No greater joy than to know they know."   He talked about how sisters around the world who share the gospel are angels.  I want you to know you have been my guardian angel since I was born. and I am eternally grateful for you Mom.  You never gave up on me as rebellious and rude as I was.  Even when I gave up on myself.  I know this gospel is true. I know why you were so persistent in dragging me to church, waking me up early to read the scriptures, and never fearing to bear your testimony to me. I know Christ is my Savior, and I want you to know I´m trying my best to repent constantly, and continue to come to know Him more everyday. Thank you for your example and your love.

On to another week,
Elder Donaldson

Monday, January 2, 2017

Hide n Seek

Hola!  After I called you guys on Christmas Day, the rest of the week I thought about you all a ton and it was a good motivation to work!  So thanks for the awesome Skype call.

Most of the week we met with investigators we had found from Salvador.  They were all pretty excited to come to church!  We had high hopes, however, none of them made it to church because they were out partying all night for the New Year and it was a lot louder than Christmas.  A lot of our investigators relapsed with drugs or alcohol problems this week as well.  We keep trying and praying for them.
I gave a talk in church this week.  There were a whole two families there in total!  Maybe because they heard that I was the speaker.  :)

One day we met with this most interesting family who is kind of old and has very bad health. The man can't see very well because he has diabetes. anyways they gave us some yogurt.  The family can't eat sugar so they put lemon juice in the yogurt.  Yes, imagine.  Lemon Juice.  It was the nastiest thing I've  had to eat yet, but by some divine intervention I got it down.  If nothing else my testimony has grown stronger because I know the lord has strengthened me like he strengthened the pioneers to eat some of this food.  
Then it gets more interesting.  After our lesson, we asked the son to pray.  He was like thirty and the only one who really understood our lesson, and he so agreed.  He stood up --and so did everyone else-- and put his hands in the air and started praying like preachers from other churches.  The others standing started whispering things like "padre santo" and "amen" and it was kind of interesting and honestly a little creepy, but after we thanked him and the family and continued sharing the gospel. :)

Another guy who always yells at us about the Bible, and asks why we don't defend the doctrine of the Bible and all sorts of stuff like that finally read a chapter in the Book of Mormon and kept telling us he knows it's true.   But then he continued telling us we aren't defending the Bible, because he doesn't want to worship Joseph Smith he only wants to worship Jesus, and no matter how much we tried to explain he didn't understand.  Asking in my prayers and studies for help with this one. 

President Palma invited us over to his house for New Years to eat dinner and wanted to prepare something American.  He made ham and cheese pasta!  Divine intervention again for me, but it was nice to eat dinner like a family with the other missionaries.
Mangos.  I eat LOTS of Mangos.
Typical Colmbian breakfast, Fried Bananas and Oatmeal.
Mystery Meat.  I think it was pigs snout.

In regards to me getting fat, I was a little worried about it until I read proverbs 28:25 and recieved a spiritual confirmation for myself that I am a good missionary.    (Proverbs 28:35 He that is of a proud heart stirreth up strife: but he that putteth his trust in the Lord shall be made FAT.  Insert Big smile.)

A few other funny things this week:
While we were in the middle of teaching a lesson one to this family, their kid came in covered in dirt and screaming like a maniac and then we got kicked out of the house.
We went to visit another family who wasn't home when we went to pick them up for church, so we returned later in the day with cinnamon rolls and they weren't home again.   Then we walked around the corner  and there they were!  We found them.  They were hiding from us.  It was a little awkward but we gave them the cinnamon rolls and they thanked us.  Missionary Hide and Seek.  Haha.

Thanks for all the love and support and your prayers.  I can feel them.  On to another week!

Elder Donaldson

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Christmas Week

Well this week was very good.  Monday night we had a little Christmas party with one of the recent converts.  He invited the whole block and bore his testimony to all of them about the Book of Mormon. Everyone here is Catholic and not very accepting of the book of Mormon, and his whole family is Catholic too. But, again because he did this we found one lady who is less active but has been looking for the church for some time, and she has a powerful testimony!  We are teaching her family now and helping her return to church.

We also started teaching another family, and helping the dad overcome some challenges. He was very reluctant to meet with us at first, but after the Christmas party he was excited and welcomed us. We also started teaching about three other families all as a result of this mans courage to bare his testimony in front of all his neighbors. His name is Salvador, so thank you Salvador!!

New Convert--Salvador!  He is awesome! He painted this mural.
The rest of the week was tough, there is a lot of drinking and partying here, especially during Christmas. One day we had nine appointments scheduled, and every single one fell through. but we found a man named F.  He speakes English, and is 77.  He has lived quite the life. He moved to the states when he was 25, and started as a janitor. He had a degree though, and eventually started working for NASA. He started making up to $25,000 a month in the seventies, and was very wealthy. He has had tons of inventions and a very successful career, until one day he went to visit his brother, and his brother got caught with a lot of illegal substances while he was with him, and therefore was guilty  by association. The rest of the story I probably shouldn't say, but he ended up back in Colombia and has been here since. He is possibly the smartest man I've ever met, and I love teaching him. 
I also got to try my first tamale, it was tough to eat. It's basically leaves filled with rice and chicken guts, and other mystery meats. but I put it down. I tell myself whenever I have to eat something gross that sacrifices bring forth the blessings of heaven, and I will get a more beautiful wife for it. :)
I also found a man who cooks hamburgers for a living, and he invited us for lunch Wednesday. I'm pretty excited!  You know how I love burgers.  I plan to teach him how to make the el diablo!  He was pretty interested in our message, but he told us his "church is weed", he worships it.  I think we are going to have to teach him the word of wisdom soon.  :)  He's very receptive and I have high hopes for him.
Christmas Eve we got to play basketball, and that was a blast. After tha twe tried to sleep but with all the parties all night we couldn't get much sleep.  I put up like a one foot tall Christmas tree, we decorated it and for Christmas dinner I made fried bananas, cinnamon rolls, ding dongs, Oreo"s, and root-beer.  All the Colombian brand, but still good. anyways!!
I'm staying in the same area, companion.  I didn't get transferred.  Neither did Elder Amick.  
I hope all is well with you guys.  I loved being able to see you and talk to you all on our Christmas Day Skype.  My testimony is solid.  I love the gospel and I love you all. 
Elder Donaldson