Monday, February 24, 2014

I love being a missionary!

Week #10 2-24-14
This week flew by. 
I had an interview with the mission president Tuesday, and it went super well. While we were at our interviews, Sister Lozano(president´s wife) went to our house and looked inside. She said it was clean, but super disorganized. My interview went super well! It felt great talking to President and he comes back in 2 weeks, so I cant wait! 
We had zone conference on Wednesday and it was really good. An Elder Woosley said something I really liked, 'Every time you pray, give a peace of your soul to God'. We talked about our goals for baptisms in March and we are going to set a new goal as a district. With Elder Macias, our goal is 14. We are meeting a lot of new people, and are going to have first lessons with quite a few people this week. 
I went on exchanges twice this week. One was with Elder Perea, from our zone. An assistant to the president went on exchanges with Elder Macias and they took all of our appointments, so we just contacted new people. 
Then I went on an exchange with the zone leaders. They have bikes, so that was a super fun day. We were in the center of Neiva, and that part is quite a bit nicer. Most all the roads are paved. It was really weird being in an unfamiliar area. I am really glad to be in Manzanares.
One day after we bought an arepa, we met a man on the street whose name was Willian or William. He was super cool, it was great talking to him because he was so open minded. He is an agnostic, but was very open to our message. He lives right by the chapel, so we are going to try to contact him soon. I loved talking with him. 
We also have a new family, the toro-chaus family. They have 4 kids, the youngest is recovering from cancer. The dad had to leave his job in construction when she was diagnosed and collect recyclables now for work. We have been saving all of our bottles, trying to help him out. They also attended Church Sunday, which was awesome! They are very serious and I have a hard time telling how interested they are. My companion says this week we will see if they are willing to progress in the gospel. 
I have been thinking a lot about being bold when I teach. Sometimes we just let people say no. I read a really cool quote from Elder Holland in preach my gospel this week. He says that this is the work of eternal salvation and that we need to do all we can to give people the opportunity to make an informed decision about the church. I really want to try to be bolder in my teaching and preach a little more. I think it will help people realize how serious we are about all of this. 
Yesterday when we were walking down the street, we passed a mom and her 2 little girls on their motorcycle. They were talking to someone on the side of the road. Just after we passed, the 6 year old girl yelled at us, 'kiss my ***' It was hilarious. i was a little bothered at first, but then started laughing. Its funny, but also kind of sad what parts of our culture show up here. 
Yesterday in church a bird was in the chapel. So that was pretty funny. 
Not much more to report this week.
 I love Colombia. I love being a missionary. I love the Book of Mormon and I know it changed lives, it changed mine. 
Thanks for reading, 
Elder Beck

So fun food things: 
Sardine pasta- I hate fish, so that was tough to eat. It had a bunch of little bones in it too. Its been the most difficult dish so far. 
Pancakes- when I was on exchanges with the zone leader, he made breakfast in the morning and it was SO good. Wow.
Pizza- last Monday we had pizza for lunch, the pizza is different here, but super good.
my Colombian ID (super cool)
 and a bunch of fruit I bought for only $3.50, which was pretty ridiculous
 a cool little soccer ball we got
 all of the church magazines we have in the house
 my first Colombian haircut

Monday, February 17, 2014

Third week in Neiva, I hear I could be here a while!

Week #9 2-17-14

This week was super fun. It started with my companion´s birthday. Elder Prince and I got up early and made him a Mexican breakfast with egg tacos and guacamole. It was super good. We also made horchata, and it is amazing. We are starting to make a lot of it. The rest of Tuesday we helped with 2 moves, first with members in the ward moving across town, and then helping move in the sister missionaries. That took our whole day, but it was nice to spend a day in normal clothes, working. I read a really cool scripture in personal study. Its Doctrines and Covenants section 31. It really motivated me. 
So our investigator Johana is still here, she was supposed to move last week, but is still here. We don't know when she will leave. But, people in the ward are going to help her boyfriend find a job, so she will probably move back in about a month. So that's really cool. Its amazing to watch her accept the gospel and how happy it makes her. Elders Prince and AmaguaƱa had a baptism Saturday. Her name is Yensi and she is 12 years old. Her dad is a recent convert and she really loves the church. After Elder Macias interviewed her, I went in the room and I could feel the spirit in there. It was really cool.
It rained a lot this week. Thursday to Saturday, at one point each day it started pouring. On Saturday we were just leaving a house really far away from our next appointment and it started pouring. We stayed under a shade structure and talked to the security guard. he was really cool. We left him our number, so we will see if he calls. 
We also got to give a couple priesthood blessings this week. Two to Johana and her little sister, and another to the mother of a recent convert. It was really cool being able to help those people. The sister missionaries are really making progress with our old investigators, I know they are supposed to have that area. We also went contacting for the first time this week. We talked to like 6 women in the street, interchangeably. A few of them were quite interested. It was really powerful when I got to bear my testimony to them, telling them how the gospel has changed my life and really how happy I am in this church. Being a missionary is such a great blessing. President Holland says it is, by definition the most important thing we can do. 
Fun food things this week:
1) Beso de negro. Its a candy here, and translates to kiss of the black woman. It was actually super good. I want another. Oh yeah, we ate them on valentines. so I still got a kiss on valentines.
2) Bacon chips. They have chips here that taste like bacon. They rock.
So that's what happened this week with me. 
Thanks for reading!
Elder Beck
 A giant iguana we saw by the side of the road

Some are of my area

  A picture of me with Carlos, who is a priest here.
 A bug bite I got!

Monday, February 10, 2014

We got new Missionaries in Manzanares!

Week #8 2-10-14
Another crazy week. So on Tuesday we went to Ibague to hear from Elder Grow from the 70. He spoke about focusing on conversion, not baptism and how we can set goals better. It was really good. And I got to see Elder Bittner again! My companion calls him Elder Beaner and its pretty funny. 
So our apartment has a lot of ants, so were trying to fight them. I've also collected a lot of mosquito bites. Starting to use my bug spray. Cold showers are my new favorite thing, since its the only time when I'm cold. I'm living in an eternal summer here, a cab driver today says it never gets cooler in the year. So that's fun. Sorry if all this sounds like complaints. Its just the uncomfortable things to me that make my mission mine. I love each one of them. Except the ants. 
Funny Spanish things: so the word for blonde here is "mono" instead of rubio. So everyone calls me a mono, because my hair is lighter and im white. Mono in the rest of the Spanish speaking world means monkey. So that threw me off at first, but now im proud to be a mono. Also, all of the curse words are different here. All of the Mexican curse words are used here casually. Ive heard just about every Mexican curse word this week and it totally throws me off. Its really strange. Apparently the people here learn the words from Mexican movies, but they didn't exist before the movies, so they have no significance. Its funny.
So this week we ran out of copies of the Book of Mormon. We normally get boxes of 36. We had 3 left. We have a difficulty getting them because customs here checks them really thoroughly, because they dont understand why the church sends so many books here for free. So, we had 3 copies left and E' Macis suggested we be careful handing them out. I said we should give them to whoever we think needs it, and when we run out, the Lord will provide more. We got another box 3 days later. It was cool to see. 
We found this great burger place called Mr. Burguer, spelled wrong. Its really good, and super cheap. We have been teaching with the teenagers in the ward and their stories and testimonies really bring the spirit. The 4 or 5 priests we have in the ward are all converts. Its super cool. 
So the week also started awesome, we found about 10 new investigators in a part of our area called Limonar. We also got new sister missionaries, and they took Limonar. So we had an awesome day when we found them and had a lot of lessons. Then we found out we were going to lose them. Its okay though, because they sister missionaries are really good. They are really going to be able to help them. We spent a lot of time looking for an apartment for them too. We found them a really nice place, and we got the papers today. I want to live there.
A lot of days we get home late and end up planning until or past 10. We also don't get dinner a lot of times because lunch is the main meal here. Its okay though, because lunch is always huge, so I don't get too hungry at night. I spoke on Sunday, I urged the ward members to get involved with missionary work. It felt good. 
Last night we went to a member's house. They gave us two arepas, hot chocolate and a fried tube-looking think. It was salty and chewy. I began eating it, because I didn't want to be impolite.  I took two bites and then asked my companion what it was. So I finished it quickly and asked him. I kinda guessed, it was intestine. It had kind of a funky taste, but wasn't too bad. So that was fun. 
I'm so glad to be a missionary. We got to share a bit about our callings as missionaries with some investigators, and I felt so grateful for this opportunity. It is so amazing. I love being a missionary, I love Colombia. I know this church is the true church of God, and that it is the only place one can find true happiness. 
Thanks for reading,
Elder Beck

 We had a pizza night, that rocked.

The soccer field, our zone goes and plays every p day, it was super fun.

 Me drinking Colombiana, one of the sodas here.
  Us eating Mexican food today. Today has been really good.
 Outside where we live.

Monday, February 3, 2014

First 5 days in the field

Week #7 2-3-14
This week has rocked. So much to say, and I have no idea what to write. I'll start by saying I love Neiva! We are in the southernmost area, in Manzanares 2. We live in a little apartment, no air conditioning, but we have fans. We have a washing machine but no dryer, so we have to hang up our clothes and let them dry. We live with two other elders, Prince & Amarguana. Elder Amarguana is from Quito, Ecuador and is awesome, he is super funny. He speaks pretty good English too. Elder Prince is from Mesa, Arizona and has been here in Neiva for 8 months! I wouldn't be angry if I went back to Bogota after a few months, where its a bit cooler. You're always sweating here. Even in lessons. 
A lot of the houses here are really simple, and only have 1-2 lights for the whole house. Everyone is super inviting. Everyone will give us water, juice, or soda, usually some bread or saltines too. The coca cola here is so good. Way better than the states. The culture here rocks, everyone is really humble and generous. On Friday we had lunch with a less active family. On Thursday night they didn't have food for us, they had to scrape together the little money they had to feed us. I'm not sure I am saying this well, but they didn't have the means to feed us the night before. It was super humbling. We are teaching a lot of people here. A lot of our investigators just need to get married. There are no incentives here to be legally married, so very few people are. We are teaching a lady named Johana. She has 2 little kids and her boyfriend lives somewhere else. She is the daughter of a recent convert. We have had 2-3 lessons with her. She rocks. She loves reading from the Book of Mormon. She is usually shy, but when I asked her to read another chapter in the Book of Mormon in our last lesson her face lit up. She is progressing well. We have Daniel and Tatiana, who have the cutest little girl. She is probably only 6 months old. So cute. They are getting married in 2 weeks. Daniel is a member, but Tatiana isn't. The last investigator I'll talk about is Christian Montero. He has a little boy (1 year old) with a less active member. I can't remember her name right now. He is super cool and is progressing well too. He reminds me of my uncle Jesse. He is really lively, rides a motorcycle and has braces. His smile totally remind me of Jesse. 
So yeah, the people here rock. I am having tons of fun. My companion is really chill, but he helps me out a lot too. 2 days we haven't had dinner, lunch is the big meal here, so we aren't always fed dinner. Or the day is like Friday where I have 3 dinners. The people are too generous. The first was a little burger on a Hawaiian roll, then an arepa filled with chicken, then a full plate of rice, lentejas and meat. The last one was with the bishop. They had us over for a birthday in thier family. We live right across from the bishop. He is pretty cool. His son is a punk. At night he will come and bang on our metal door and it freaks us out. One of the pictures is with him. 
Spanish is going well. I don't understand much. The accent and the vocabulary here is very particular. They use "chevre" to mean cool, but I never learned that word in school. The other is "pailas" which means, suck. People tap their neck when they say it too. One tough thing is that we have a lot of appointments fall through because people are really lax. Kids go to school from like 7-12, and people work the same hours. Dads just chill at home in the afternoon. its weird. 
Funny culture item: breast feeding isn't really hidden here. Twice in lessons moms have started breast feeding RIGHT IN FRONT OF US. Not awkward or anything. Then a lady just started breast feeding in Sunday school too. So weird. 
Today for P Day we took a cab up to the center of Neiva to go to the mall. We went to this rad juice place called Alaska. Its like 1 buck for juice, its super good. Then we walked around all the little shops. I found a soccer jersey. Its a white national jersey, long sleeved. It was 15,000 pesos. Which is $7.50, so ill probably get more. Other than that its been a normal p day. 
I love the little kids here. There are a ton. Playing with them is super fun, it reminds me of Jason, Ryan, Gwen and Cannon. They are all really friendly. Its still hot, probably going to get hotter. Last night at 8:30 pm we ran into a less active member who told us she had a friend that needed a blessing. We were planning on doing it tonight, but then she called us 15 minutes later so we ran down there and gave a blessing. The lady had been to church before and she was really nice. Her and two teenagers were here, so we might get to start teaching them. It was a really neat experience.
We are going to the town of Ibague tomorrow for Elder Grove, a 70 who is coming. So that should be fun. I get to see Elder Bittner again (my mtc companion). 
I love being a missionary so much. I love sharing my testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Im starting to watch the gospel bless peoples lives, and it is so amazing. I know reading the Book of Mormon is the best way to grow closer to God. Im so grateful to be here in Colombia. Thanks for reading.
Elder Beck
Pictures:our house, my desk, the guys in the apartment, me and Elder Macias, the bishop's son and me, the plaza where we live, our room. I sleep up on the bunk.