Thursday, January 30, 2014

I'm looking forward to a one-man knife fight...

Week #6 1-30-14

Hey Everyone, So I'm not in Neiva. The word "snow" in Spanish is nieva, and I'm in Neiva. Its SO HOT. The only reason I got to sleep last night is because I had a fan 2 inches away from me all night. Wow its hot. I'm sweating all the time, but its worth it. So the last time I emailed was Friday? So since then I finished up in the MTC, not much news there. Then on Monday we had our going-away meetings. Then on Tuesday we took off at 7 in the morning, I didn't sleep much because all the Latins were up at 3 AM, so i was tired that day.
We left our luggage , which was taken to the temple and we went to the mission home, which are about 40 minutes apart. At the mission home we met the mission President, President Lozano. He is great. He is a convert to the church and much more relaxed than I thought he would be, but its nice that he isn't crazy intense. He and Sister Lozano live in a nice apartment in Bogota. We ended up sitting around in their living room for a while. I entertained myself by trying to play hymns on the piano, but I don't really play piano. My interview went well with President, he warned me to be humble, so I'm trying to work on that. We had lunch at his house, and Sister Lozano made some amazing soup that is a tradition here in Colombia. It was so good. It was also the whole meal. Then we left the mission home around 5 to go to the temple.
We slept at the temple, the church has a hotel across the parking lot from the temple for those who travel to do work there, since people have to travel far to get to the temple. The rooms there were very nice. The drive over was tough, traffic here is crazy and the roads are bumpy. After we had dinner I felt better. Then we got to go to bed early (830). It was really nice sleeping for so long. We all needed it. Then in the morning we had breakfast in the cafeteria in the temple, the eggs were amazing.  After we went to a chapel a few blocks away for training. We weren't really told anything special, just basic mission rules. All the old gringos told us stories of when they had been robbed. So I'm looking forward to a one-man knife fight (where only one guy has a knife, the other guy) or having a gun pulled on me. But I'm not too worried now, Neiva is pretty chill and safe. Then we got our companions!!!!
I love my new comp. He is Mexican, from the North part, south of Texas. He speaks clearly, I can understand. He has been in the mission for 16 months and is a great trainer.  I was SOOO happy to find out I was going to Neiva, and get out of Bogota. It would be nice to be in temperate weather, but its nice here. Were in a little pueblo, there arent any nice buildings anywhere, its crazy.  There is a GIANT cathedral under construction. Literally GIANT. Its super hot here, probably 80-90 degrees all day. And night. The people are really friendly. We had weekly planning this morning, which was overwhelming. We have 3 investigators with baptisimal dates and about 7 more. So we have a lot of work to do. Everybody is named Tatiana or Dayana or Christian. So I have to get to know a bunch of people with the same names. We had our first lesson just before this. It was with The Chacon family, who are members. We got them to start family mission plans. They were really sweet, but I couldn't understand much of what they said. My companion says they use a lot of slang, so I have a lot to learn. Apparently I'm a mono. Here it means blonde, but everywhere else it means monkey. It threw me off at first. Our shower only has one knob, so there isn't hot water. But its actually my favortie thing, because I get to be cold, not hot. Its extremely refreshing.
I have to go now. I'll end by saying that I love this work. I've already felt the spirit and love being out in the feild. I know this is the work of God and that he loves all His children, everywhere. Its super cool being in a new place with different people. I hope I will be able to serve them well.
Elder Beck
 The temple at night
 My companion, President & Sister Lozano and I
Granadilla, which is a super cool fruit

Friday, January 24, 2014

5 Days left in the MTC

1-24-14 Week #5
What a crazy 10 days its been!
So since last Wednesday, I got my new Latin companions and about 50 new Latins came in from a bunch of different countries. My new companion is Elder Teran from Ecuador. He is super cool, and works really hard, which is nice. He has gotten me refocused. All of the new Latins are really great. I sleep in a room with 7 Latins, and its super weird being away from English. In my district, I'm the only North American too. Its really strange. 
So being more immersed in Spanish, I've had to overcome the language barrier. I can say most of what I want to say, I just don't know all the vocab. The problem is that I don't understand a word of what the Latins say. They all speak really fast and slur every word, and they don't pronounce their 's'' a lot. So I've been praying a lot to get help with understanding. I can understand my teachers, but the other missionaries are speaking a different language. Its been tough, but I'm getting better. I can't wait to be fluent, but that is a ways off. 
It was humbling watching my companion get discouraged a bit the first two days. It reminded me of starting out in Provo and how tough it was. Its nice being used to the routine and missionary life. So in my new district, we restarted all the lessons, since all of the other missionaries just got here. So I'm having all the lessons here for the second and third time. Its tough to stay focused, especially when its all in Spanish. I have to look in my dictionary a lot. 
On Sunday we had an General 70 come, Elder Wadell who gave us a great talk. He is from San Diego and spoke in General Conference recently. He spoke about our missionary callings and how we can work hard to focus on conversion, not baptism. That talk really motivated me. Then we watched a BYU devotional called, The Blueprint of Christ's Church. I highly recommend it. The speaker traces the qualities and construction of the church Christ organized in his time, only using the bible. I really liked the idea. 
On Tuesday we went proselyting again, which was so great. We handed out a copy of the Book of Mormon to a girl on the street, and she seemed rather interested. Then the next person we talked to was Edinson, who is a security guard. At first we walked by, he was working and I didn't think to talk to him. Then Elder Teran suggested we talk to him and it was amazing. We just shared a short message, and at the end I bore him my testimony. When I was telling him how the church has changed my life, I was almost crying, it was so strange. As we walked away my companion was tapping his chest, and I knew all 3 of us had felt the Spirit very strongly. After that it was hard to find people, because there were 50 missionaries in a smaller area. 
We were able to go the temple twice this week. It was really nice. I am staring to understand a lot in Spanish in the temple. Time has really flown these past 10 days. People say it will only go faster in the field. I am so excited to start doing missionary work!  I leave Tuesday!!! I'll probably stay in Bogota for my first few transfers, but that's all right. I've heard Southern Bogota is a bit poorer, so we'll see how I'll be living! I'm ready to get on a set schedule, with personal study every day. 
That's about everything that has happened the past 10 days. I really can't wait to et into the feild. I'm gonna miss English, but I know really doing work will be so enjoyable. Thanks for reading!
Elder Beck
So pictures: Me and my companion, me in front of the sign, and my room. Sorry there aren't so many. I had very little time to take pictures, and nothing has really changed here

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

I ran into an Atheist...

1-15-14 Week # 4 continued.
Its nice to be able to email home again so soon. So last Friday is where our story of Elder Beck leaves off. That day, he and the gringos who had been in Colombia went to Immigration. Immigration felt shockingly like the DMV, except all of the Latino workers here don't speak English. There Elder Beck and the others applied for Colombian ID. Then they got to come back to the CCM (MTC) and email. He forgot to talk about immigration in the last email.
Then on Saturday we (I'm done with third person) went to what they call the Galleria, which is a big mall area about 15 minutes away (walking) from the CCM.  When we got there we went proselyting, because there are a ton of people just walking around there. Elder Bittner and I first ran into an atheist, who was telling us in Spanish how we couldn't actually know that God existed, and that it was all in our heads. Sounded a whole lot like Korihor from the Book of Mormon, except in Spanish. The area was super big, and we had 2.5 hours to walk around so me met a bunch of people. Everyone here is Catholic, so they usually are okay with hearing a message about Jesus Christ. We met a lady from Colombia who had an admirable view about having a relationship with God. We left her with a pamphlet and the address of the Church. We met a few more people, and the last guy we talked to came up to us and first asked us if we had anything for him, like a pamphlet. We had a great talk with him and left him with a copy of the Book of Mormon. I got to tell him how the Book of Mormon has changed my life and I really felt the Spirit as I told him what I know to be true. 
After we came back and had class the rest of the day. My Spanish feels really good. Sometimes I can just say things now without having to think or translate, so its really nice. I get a Latin companion today, so my Spanish should improve a LOT. I fell like I'm approaching fluency, and it is very nice. In 2 months it will just be about learning vocabulary! I'm really excited for that. I only have 2 weeks more in the CCM before I go into the field. The country is so beautiful, and I hope I get out into the city and into nature a little bit. 
Sundays are the best here. On Sunday after our meetings, all of the Nortes (gringos) go to a room upstairs and watch movies. We got to watch the Biography of President Monson, which was really cool. It was so amazing to watch how he has given all of his life to church service, since he was a Bishop at 22. We also had a member of the area 70 visit, and he talked about obedience, sacrifice and consecration. It was a really good talk, and I feel motivated to work harder, and dedicate myself more to my mission. This is really the only time I have to give everything I have tio God, with no distractions. Thats how Elder Holland puts it and I want to make the most of my time here. Sundays are just really relaxing because there are no teachers and we get to chill.
On Monday most of the Peruvians and old Gringos left. The CCM was kinda empty. It was a nice day, because we had about 2 hours to have personal study. Now we're the old guys here. A bunch of new Gringos and Latinos got in. One of the new Nortes is a kid I knew at BYU! This morning at exercise I saw him and it was a sweet surprise. Its really nice having a friend here. I can't wait to get my very own Latin (companion). We moved rooms today, and I went into a bigger room, but with about the same amount of space since there are 4 bunk beds in the room. I'm closer to the bathroom with hot water in the sinks, so shaving just got easier. All of the new Elders I've met so far are super cool.
Yesterday was a blast. We started the day by going to the temple. We didn't have much time there because we left a bit late. 'So after we got back, we went to lunch and changed into P Day clothes. It was so nice wearing jeans and a t shirt. Then we got to go on a field trip! The only down part was that we had to pay for everything, like our tickets. First we went to the Gold Museum here in Bogota, which was super cool. It had a ton of gold trinkets and relics from the indigenous people who lived in Latin America. All of it was so small and detailed. It was super cool. Then we went to a Cathedral town on top of a mountain called Monserrate. It was awesome. We took a gondola to the top of the mountain, which was a bit expensive (like $8). The town was super cool. We got to the top and there was a big cathedral and all the architecture was really old and cool. We got to see some of the country from up there and it was so beautiful. There were some little tiendas there selling trinkets and stuff. I didn't get anything because I didn't have enough money and it was kind of a touristy place, so I figured I would be able to get the same stuff elsewhere. We walked around a got to see a bunch of stuff. So that is about it for our story this week. The pictures attached are either of things here at the CCM, the gold museum, or Monserrate. I'm going to try to send a lot so they won't all have explanations.

All of the cars here are more compact, like the taxi. And some more gold. The other is a plaza here. It all feels like Mexico and Peru, which is really cool and sentimental.

 And some of Monserrate

And a picture of me and my companion, Elder Bittner. Just took it,

Friday, January 10, 2014

I can't rely on my English!

Week #4 1-10-14
Wow, I haven't emailed in so long, I don't know where to begin. Well since we got in last Wednesday, things have been crazy. The first day we began classes and my district is really cool. There are 5 other Elders and we have two teachers, who are both from Bogota. Ive heard this MTC used to be a prep. school or something like that, it seems about right. I got unpacked all right, and everything is going well. Its been kind of a tough transition, everyone here speaks spanish. Its weird knowing that I can't rely on my english anymore.  
We went to the temple on Wednesday for the second time, which was great. We got to relax there for a long time, there was no rush. They have a little distribution center across the parking lot, I think I am going to buy a picture of the Bogota Temple next time we go.  We go proselyting tomorrow which is going to be great. I've heard its hard here, because most people have heard for us and a lot of people will be rude. My companion speaks about as much spanish as I do, so its really nice to have good back and forth in our lessons. His name is Elder Bittner and he is from Mesa, Arizona. He is really big into gymnastics and we get along pretty great. 
Sorry I can't attatch any pictures, they took our cameras the first morning and we only get them on P-Days so I'll send some Tuesday. That's when our next PDay is, they do them weird here. We wait a week and a half, and then four days and repeat. So its been hard having to wait for about 2 weeks to email home. That's probably why this email will be so scatter-brained. Sorry. 
The food here is really good. They have a catering service come in since the kitchen is under renovation. They normally serve us rice and beans with some type of meat. They have this really cool fruit here they call granadilla. It looks like an orange, but the shell is hard. When you get to the inside it looks like a sack of spider eggs, but its really seeds in their own juice-pods. You slurp it up and slush it around in your mouth, then swallow. It tastes like a sweet orange. Super fun to eat, but sometimes it hits my gag reflex and I have to force it down. We live in little rooms with bunk-beds. Its really humbling. I'm having a lot of fun. Its weird how some days my Spanish is really good, and other days its a struggle. I'm super excited to get to the feild soon!
We get new companions next week. All of the gringos here get latin companions for their last 2 weeks in the MTC. So that should be really cool, but also kind of crazy. The weather is beautiful here. It rains most days in the early afternoon for about an hour. Its cloudy a lot as well. I can see the mountains form some of the rooms here and it makes me want to get out into the country, its so beautiful.
Well, I'll email again Tuesday, So I'll try to have a well-thought out email next time witha any information I forgot. So much has happened! 
I just want to end by saying that I know the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the true church of God. I have this reconfirmed to me several times every week. I know that living this gospel is the best way to find happiness. I know the Book of Mormon is true. 
Thanks for reading, Happy New Year!
Elder Beck

Friday, January 3, 2014

New Years Day Email 2014

Made it to Bogota safe!
The plane ride was bumpy from Atlanta to Bogota, but we got here safe. This MTC is way different. Noting is quite as nice as Provo, and it is really a change. I am having some difficulty adjusting, but I think I'll do just fine. Its kind of scary knowing I have to rely on my Spanish now. In provo I always knew I could speak English if I needed to. 
The rooms are really small. Theyre barely enough space for the 6 Elders living in there. Its really weird typing on a spanish keyboard, sorry for any mistakes. 
Love you tons. The weather is so nice here! I can't wait to get into the feild and be outside. Its really pretty. 
Last night we got picked up from the airport by some local members(i think). It was a short drive. They had subway here for us and then our MTC President spoke to us. President Dyer is awesome. He also gave a really good lesson this morning that calmed my nerves quite well. He scared me last night though, warning that our things may be stolen. So I'm all paranoid now. 
Well, I only have like ten minutes so I have to keep this short. They took all of our personal effects, kinda feels like prison hahaha. They took our passports, cameras, food, electronics, and temple recommends. Its strange, but I''m just along for the ride. The whole complex is gated too, which adds to the effect. Lots of spanish. 
I was chatting with an Elder this morning from Brazil, who speaks only portugese and some spanish. We were talking about surfing, apparently he surfs so it was cool. He breaks into portugese sometimes and I get none of it. Hes super cool though. 
I'm ready to work hard. Things are tough adjusting again, but I'll manage. Hope everyone at home is doing well.
Love you so much!
Elder Beck