Monday, February 20, 2012

Quizas mi ultima semana...

I never really thought I would get to this point. Well, everyone knows that it will come, but it always seems like such a far-off thing. But look, here it is. I'll be getting back home this next Tuesday. My mission here in Colombia is coming to an end. I still remember when I got here to Colombia. It really doesn't seem so long ago, like maybe a couple of weeks or something. But not two full years. Hard to believe. For me at least. For my mom... probably an eternity. But now, it is all coming to a close.

Oye, pero no empiezan a pensar que soy trunky, pues no es así! We have been working really hard here. This last Sunday we had five new people at church!!! Yeah, we won't be able to baptize them, but the next missionaries will. Because really, the numbers don't matter. What matters is that you work as hard as you can and that you have the Holy Ghost with you. If such is the case, you can say that you have had success, I believe that I have had an incredibly successful mission with one truly miraculous and amazing I have seen and can testify of the hand of God in my life and in my mission. I know he is there and that he cares for me and that he loves me. I know that this is his true, because it is the only one that fills all the criteria, and second (and most importantly), I have felt his witness that this is true. If you have not yet felt such a thing I strongly encourage you to go, read the Book of Mormon, think about it..what it means to you...why it is important to it applies to you.., and then ask God if it is true. If you really want to know, you will know.

So yesterday I was assigned to talk in sacrament meeting. I talked a little about Zion, why God calls his people that and what that really means. It was really interesting for me to learn a little more about that. Zion means "the pure in heart" according to the GEE (you Spanish-speaking RMs will understand what that is). Another scripture says that it is "of one heart and mind". So I talked a little about the unity that needs to exist within the church and how to build and fortify that unity instead of destroying it. Then, I comparted my testimony and almost cried (almost, but no). It's a little tough to end this mission thing, but my time has come. And know what?....I feel I have done well.

We also had a FHE the other day where I just got ticked off with the non-commitment of the members. So I pulled out some scriptures and pretty much said that now is the time to prepare to meet God because who knows how much time we have left...a few hours o a few years. I invited (rather strongly) that they find out or themselves if this gospel is true or not, and if it is, that they weld, nail, and utterly affix themselves to that knowledge. Thus, and only thus, affixing themselves in such way and being true to said knowledge their whole life, will they be able to stand before God with a clean conscience at that last day.

Today, for P-day, we went and did...nothing. Really, we just cleaned up the house a little bit. And played Monopoly cards. Chinese food. It was rather funny. An American (me) talking to a Chinese and the Chinese talking to Spanish. Yep, but it was pretty good stuff. We also noticed that some wasps had moved into a corner of our balcony, so we attempted to fight against them...first with a broom, then with fire (using a lighter and spray deodorant)... but to no avail. They just keep coming back. We are now planning a sneak attack tonight...wish us luck. =D

I now must go. I bid thee farewell my brethren, I soon must go to the place prepared or me in the mansions of my father.
And so ends the First Book of Elder Rallison

Love you all,
Elder (Gabe) Rallison

PS See you next week!!!!

Monday, February 13, 2012

All is well in Zion

All is well and good here in Giron.

This past week has been good. The only thing that I didn't like so much was having to go to the center of Bucaramanga so my companion could go and get a salvoconducto, a document that is pretty much a 30-day extention of his visa (which expires next week). It was quite a hassle which invloved running all morning from government agencies to a bank ten blocks away. Of course with our luck, by the time we got back to said agency, it was closed (and we only missed by 3 minuites). So, now we have to go back there again this week. Oh joy!
We had lunch last Saturday with on was intresting. Intresting in that the mother of the family commented that her daughter had asked her Mom when she could get married. "Well, I think you can wait a little longer before you get married" answered the mom. "But who am I going to marry?" asks the girl. Mom answers,"I don't know, but it will have to be a returned missionary." Girl says, "Can he be a gringo(American)?" ¡¡¡YIKES!!! I have a snake!!! Oh and by the way, she's five. =D

As for the work, we are working very hard. Not trunky at all. Just a little annoyed that of all the people we invited to church, epecially those with bapismal dates, didn't come. The only non-members there we a couple friends that one family bought. Well....I'll work with what I've got. We also got to work in Lebrija, a small little town about 20min from Giron. It went well, we found a lot of people and got to give a blessing after knocking a door.

But honestly one of the highlights of my week was being able to interview an investigator for baptism. I don't know how to explain it, it is just an incredible sort of thing to see, hear, and most of all feel that this person is ready to take this significant step forward. I love the mission and I love being able to serve my fellow-man in this capacity. I love all you people back home, especially my family (sorry with the rest of you, but they came first and will always come first). I'll see you soon.

Love you,
Elder (Gabe) Rallison

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Miracles on 34th St (of Giron)

This week has been fantastic. We worked very hard to complete all our goals and enjoy this work as much as possible. I got to teach some cool and several rather crazy people. I was also full of little miracles that make me smile.

For example, this past Monday, I lost a memory stick that contained all my photos from my whole mission. I was heartbroken. Maybe it had fallen from my pocket on the bus. I couldn't find it in the house. Anywhere. i was seriously grieving. But the good thing is this. I prayed. I prayed and felt that even though I don't know exactly how it was going to happen, that everything would be okay. Confiding in that still small voice, I went to work. Three days later, after an interchange, my companion came to me and gave me my memory! They found it in a barber's shop that we had visited that day. I was so incredibly happy. Those were my memories. And now I have them all back =D.

Another thing, we had interviews this past Saturday, just something short for me and my comp as we are going home here soon and will have interviews when we go. But afterwards, we were on the bus going from Bucaramanga to Giron, when a lady sitting next to me started talking to me about religion. She had been through a lot of churches (claims to have investigated our church and claimed that we didn't eat pork....umm...I love bacon...=D) and had a very critical idea of all of them. She believes that truth is a point of view based on how one understands the Bible. Yep. And here I was. And I started to testify. That I knew what I shared was true, not because I was convinced by some guy with a Bible, but because I have prayed and asked God if all this is true. Then the inspired question..."Do you believe that God answers prayers?" She was silent. Then she simply started talking about Colombia...the USA...every topic except religion. When I got up to leave she said "Think about it", I answered "Ask Him about it". THIS is what makes us different from any and every other church in the world. We know that God answers sincere petitions for truth, for clarity, for guidance. We believe and know that He will answer in the affirmative that what we share is true. And in that moment, in that little bus, I knew, I felt, without a doubt that what I share is true. It was one of many confirmations of said truth that I have received in my life, but one of the strongest I have ever felt. I knew it, and I know that she knew that I knew it.

Apart from those two amazing testimony builders, I also have also enjoyed a fun stake conference. President Hacking was there and spoke about how the mission of bringing people to Christ isn't just one of the missionaries, it is a mission of every member of the Church of Jesus Christ. The stake president had a cool talk too, he pretty much read word for word my favorite childhood story, "The Little Engine that Could" (remember that one Mom?). Suffice to say it was a little bit of a trunky moment for me. Also, five brothers from our ward received the Melchizedek priesthood. Sweet. And two were recent converts (including Jason). =D

Today we had a zone activity playing football and volleyball. It was cool and all but I forgot to use sunscreen and burned my neck. But all in all, I enjoyed what, as another elder so wonderfully pointed out, was my last zone activity in the mission. Sad, but true.

Love you all,
Elder Rallison

Monday, January 30, 2012

Time is like a greesed rope with a 500 pound weight on the end...try as you might you can never make it stop or even get a good grip, that is, until t

That statement that makes the title of this weeks email is one that is weighing very heavily on my mind. This week has been good, but it represents another week of my life and my mission that I will ever get back. I have spent it the best I can, but still... nearing the end makes one think of these type of things.

The highlight of this past week has to have been that Christian got baptized! And I got to do it! It was pretty cool. We had some small difficulties along the way, but in the end everything went off without a hitch.

Well, I would like to write more but I find myself out of time as I was fixing a camera bug.

I promise an extra long and extra cool week.

Love you,
Elder Rallison

Monday, January 23, 2012

Working hard or hardly working

First off, the transfers. I am in Giron with Moya still. We are working well together and all, so I guess that President just wanted to keep us together until we die (note: die is mission jargon for finishing the mission.) But eh cool thing is that there are now new missionaries in Portal. They are very cool and all. One is Elder Raines (gringo de Utah) and the other, the "son" of Elder Raines, Elder Roduigez (a Uragayan).

So we've been visiting a lot of people lately. As a matter of fact, Christian passed his baptismal interview and gets baptized on Saturday. So that is pretty awesome...yay for us. Also, we've been working with one family in which all the kids are members but the parents aren't. Why? Because the husband doesn't want to get married. Yeah, they have six kids and have lived together for 19 years, but this guy just doesn't get that they need to get married. He said that he doesn't want to feel so committed. We'll keep working on that.

With Juan everything is going well, he is reading the Book of Mormon and praying for an answer. Oh and want to hear the crazy bit? We went to visit him and he told us he found a copy of a Book of Mormon in his house. What?!?! He went and pulled out a copy of the Book of Mormon, printed in '92. It was yellowed and the cover was pretty much destroyed but there it was, the Book of Mormon. He can't remember where he got it, but wow. It's just that his neighborhood is really ghetto and no one in the ward even remembers the last time the missionaries had gone to that neighborhood until we did. The only problem that we are having with him is that his wife is making it very difficult for him to continue (such and bringing in preachers and trapping him in the house on Sundays so he doesn't go to church). Sounds a little intense but that is how Santander-ian women are.

I've also had an awesome split with our ward mission leader this past Friday. It was great. We contacted a whole ton of people and got five appointments set up just from those contacts. We also got to go visit an old investigator of the ward who is dying from stomach cancer. So, I had no idea what to do, but after the prayer, I went directly to the Book of Mormon and started reading seemingly random scriptures about the faith and the Atonement of Christ. We finished with a prayer and a blessing, and by the end, in spite of the pain, she was smiling. I felt very strongly the Spirit guiding me in my every word. In all it was a really incredible day.

As for the menial stuff, we had zone meeting....with half the zone as trainers/newbies and the other half like me, dying this transfer. It was pretty epic. The new zone motto we invented is "Baptize and/or die". It was pretty funny.
We went bowling today as a zone activity and I actually bowled a really great. On the first one I bowled a 105 and on the second a 123. But lo and behold, an Elder who had never even bowled before pulled out a 143. I testify that there are miracles and that there is such thing as beginner's luck. We also invented several hymns---sung rap style. Word.

Love you guys,
Elder (Gabe) Rallison

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

And life goes on....

So this week were were teaching a lesson and right as we were finishing up a christian pastor showed up...looking for a fight. We were literally getting up to leave too. So we got to sit there and listen to him present an anti-Mormon shpeel (in front of our investigator, Juan) that lasted about half an hour. That was about the longest half an hour of my life. Then, we went and simply shared our testimonies, invited everyone to pray and ask God if what we shared is true, and left. I felt very good to leave that behind, and better yet, Juan is still listening to us. Epic win.

This past week we had intercambios with the zone leaders. We went with Elder Busch and had some crazy awesome lessons. We found a really cool family, Claudia and her sister Fabiana, and taught an amazingly awesome lesson. The Spirit was strong and we were just about to pull out baptismal dates when....the husband of Claudia pulled up on a motorcycle. The atmosphere changed completely. Fabiana went running to the kitchen to make sure that the lunch was ready and Claudia started acting all distracted and depressed. Dang, there is something awry in this relationship. So we quickly left but we set up and appointment for this Wednesday.

That day we also contacted a colombian girl who married a mexican and now lives in San Diego....yeah, that San California. Cool right? She talks english...kind of...and was here visiting her family. But it was just weird, talking to someone and trying to teach, in English. It felt weird. And she also made me realize how much I miss mexican food. But even crazier was when we contacted a German guy. Now, he could barely speak Spanish and I only know how to say "Auf Wierdesein" and that phrase that Opa uses to "say hands off/Don't touch that" (which I am not even going to attempt to write). He said that he was here enjoying a break from the cold of Germany coming here to Colombia. It was cool and all, but I just wish I understood what he was saying.

I can't really remember anything more to share with you all, here we are anxiously awaiting transfers, which will be arriving tonight. My last transfer. Yikes, it is one of those moments that as a missionary you never think are going to come. But come they do.
Well, I love you,
Elder Gabe Rallison

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

All is Well in Zion, Zion prospers....

Life is good and it just keeps moving along.

Just a small waiver here at the beginning. This is a really terrible keyboard. With that said, let's delve into what Elder Rallison has been up to this past week.

So this past week, several investigators along with our recent converts, invited us to a cool little park that was all lit up with Christmas lights. It wasn't nearly as spectacular as the temple Christmas lights, but it was still pretty cool. And at the end they had a little pond full of fish that the people can feed. It was a fun little outing. We were quite the bunch.

And better yet, we were able to get about half of those investigators to get to church on Sunday! It was great because the whole stake presidency showed up as well, and each one shared his testimony. Then, in the classes, in both hours, the teachers also shared powerful testimonies and invited everyone to pray to know if all this is true. It was epic!!! And the investigators were blown away! The only bad thing about that Sunday, is that we are now on the 8 o´clock schedule. Which means that we, the missionaries, have to be there at seven in the morning....well, at least we live close.

And after church we got to go visit the less actives in the ward with the stake peoples. I went with Pdte Leon, a counselor in the Stake Presidency, and Hno Isaac, the assessor of our ward. We visited several families, including one mildly drunk father of 14 children (I guess they didn't have television)=D. He said that he plans to stop working on Sunday and get back to church. We'll see if he doesn't come next week.

As for baptisms, we've got one coming up a week from Saturday. A kid named Christian. He's good, it's just a little difficult keeping his attention. Sometimes they get distracted so easily....but I guess that is life. Right? As a bigger-picture metaphor...what Satan does is distract us. He makes us take our eyes off the goal with glitzy, worldly, and sparkling things. The first of the ten commandments is this, not permitting that any other "god" come between us and our Heavenly Father. Just some food for thought.
Not much more to say.
Love you all,
Elder (Gabe) Rallison