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

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!

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