Monday, December 20, 2010

Merry Christmas to All!! (o mejor dicho, ¡Feliz Navidad!)

It´s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, here in Colombia. Really, there is more and more Christmas stuff each and everyday! But to start, my week!

So on Tuesday we had a lot of fun! If you could call fun going to Cairo (an expression here in Colombia for a place that is reeeaallly far away....commonly used in an expression such as "Vete al Cairo!!!"-"Go to Cairo!").We had to go to district meeting. A pie (By foot). Yeah, we realllly enjoyed that. But arrive we did, and better yet, after we had a baptismal interview for our favorite...Jonathan!!! After the interview he and our beloved district leader, Elder Ponce, came out and Elder Ponce just shook his head and said "We need to talk" Those words made my stomach drop to the floor. Then he started to laugh. DON'T DO THAT TO ME!!! Seriously, almost gave me a heart attack. Yeah, Jonathan passed. And better yet, he asked me to baptize him. =D

Apart from Jonathan, we also have been doing a ton of contacts. We figured out that outside of the bus station here, a lot of people walk by. So, we made a line between us, you contact that side, I've got this side. Doing this, we made a ton of contacts and now have found several new power investigators.

On Saturday we had to go to Alamos, the area of of our leader of district, in order to do one of the things the missionaries do best, Christmas caroling. When we started out for Alamos, all was well, but then, the bus was late, we had to change buses and ended up taking the wrong one, and in fin, it started to rain. But in spite of all this, we arrived in Alamos, whole and only a little wet (okay we were soaked to the bone). We went by one family and sang a few Christmas hymns and also a traditional Colombian Christmas song, Mi Burrito Sabanero. For those of you who are not familiar with this song should go to Youtube right now and look it up! NOW!

By far my favorite day of the week was Sunday the 19th. Why? Because it was my 20th birthday! Yeah, I'm old now!!!! So, to start out the day was the baptism of Johnathan. It was way cool ( and in more way than one), you see, the water wasn't exactly heated. And here in Bogota it is cold. Anyone who thinks that all of Colombia is a hot sweaty jungle is very mistaken. So, to combat the cold, I resorted to heating up water in the kitchen and pouring it into the font. That made it so it wasn't ice cold, but just cold. The baptism went off without a hitch (for the first time ever I didn't have to repeat it!) and Jonathan got so choked up that he could hardly bear his testimony. That was amazing. He is going to be a good member, and better yet, he wants to serve a mission (he has 24 years old, there is still time!!!).

After the baptism, several members (including the newest one) ambushed me in the hall and sang "Feliz Cumpleaños" to me. Then came the best part, my talk. I shared a Christmas message and tied it into missionary work. It really does work well when you use Luke 2:17-18. Also, I had my testimony shared as part of the Chirstmas program in my home ward in Phoenix, so technically, I talked in two different sacrament meetings in two different continents in the same day!

After church, we had lunch and then had to go to the house because my companion had to use the bathroom. While we were there we got a call from the Sister Baquero that we had to go to her house because she wasn't feeling well and had to have a blessing. We rushed over there to find her perfectly fine and with a cake on the table. Then, my whole district burst out the bathroom! I was surprised birthday-ed. Then, one of the elders said I had to pluck a strawberry off the cake with my mouth, a.... quote- Latin tradition -end quote. Of course, in doing so I had someone push my face into the cake. Thanks a lot guys....
After enjoying the cake and cleaning all the frosting out of my nose, we went and sang carols to the Baquero family.

After having finished all with the Baquero family, we went over to Jonathan's house because we had planned a "lesson" with him which was in reality...caroling. But lo and behold, I had another surprise for me! Another surprise birthday from that family. Yeah, twice in one day. We finished that day, in the end, with another rousing round of Mi Burrito Sabanero (if you still haven't looked that up, you really should).
What a way to celebrate your birthday. A talk, a baptism, and two surprise birthday parties.

Today was still fun too. We played football and I made some awesome Mexican haystack type things. It was rice, refried beans, fajita stuff, sour cream, guacamole, and Mexican salsa all piled as high as possible. And it was so, so good. I don't think you all appreciate how good you have it.

Well, how the time flies. I've got to go, again. But before I go I just want to wish each and every one of you a very MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!

With mucho cariño,
-Elder Rallison

Monday, December 13, 2010

It's Begining To Look A Lot Like Christmas

So, the life moves along here in Colombia. Very quickly. Too quickly.

Tuesday was a little crazy. It was a holiday here in Colombia. It is called, Noche de los Velitas ( The Noche of the Candles). On this night, everyone is in the street with candles. We went to one appointment and there wasn't anyone, when we came out, the streets were full of people. The people hold candles, set up rows of candles along the street, in the windows, etc. They say it is to light the way for the virgin Mary so that she can get to the inn. Idk, but all the candles were cool =D.

Had intercambios with Elder Thomas, one of our beloved zone leaders this past Thursday. It's always really fun to have intercambios with other gringoes because you can speak English with them. =D We worked, and we worked. It was fun, and I enjoyed very much the opportunity to work with him. He actually has a laugh that sounds a lot like Uncle Gary. Crazy. But really fun.


We had a mission activity for Christmas this Friday. We played football, Frisbee, and basketball, watched Toy Story 3 (really fun movie btw...all the Latins agree that Buzz Lightyear is a great dancer), ate a great dinner, had a fireside, had skits by each of the zones (we did one in which the missionaries found a million dollars), and best of all, Santa came!!!! He even gave us sweets and ties. I got an awesome blue and gold one. I'll have to send you the pictures.

We had another activity on Saturday, this one with the ward. As part of the activity,we, the missionaries, presented a fireside. We watched "Joy to the World" and then, using Luke 2:17-18, related that to member missionary work. Then we gave each family a gift wrapped Book of Mormon to give to a friend. In all it went really well. I also got to try lechona. That is a pig that is stuffed with meat, rice, beans, etc. It is a traditional Colombian Christmas dish.


We also baptized after all that. We baptized a kid, Juan David. He has such a testimony, because he is always asking questions. But he is really good. =D

Don't have time to write any more, see you all next week.

-Elder Rallison

TO COME.....Pictures.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Water, water, everywhere.

So, I know, I didn't get out a message last week, for that, I am sorry. I had a few problems and ran out of time. I will now attempt to give an acccount of what has transpired in the last two weeks.

First, It has been raining....a lot. In many parts of Colombia there is massive flooding and several major roads have been closed. The river Bogota, which runs about two blocks from our apartment, almost overflowed it's banks and into Engativa. It only faulted about 6 inches more of water. But don't worry. The past two days have been good weather-wise.We'll just have to see if it holds out. I so far haven't suffered much from all the water, only a bad cold. Note to self: Drink more agua panella with lime juice. =D

Despite all the rain we've been doing a ton of contacting lately. For example, in one day we did 37 contacts. One contact is to talk to a person and present a simple gospel message. Right now, this is our main way of getting people to teach. Through our contacts we found a great family of three, the Patino family. We are going to baptize them. We just have to figure uot exactly when. The holidays make such things very dificult.

Another fun thing....one of our greatest invetigators here, Joanna, got baptized yesterday!!! I love baptisms. Only thing was that there wasn't really hot water because the person who filled the font didn't know how to turn on the water heater. But that's okay, it was a member who baptized her. It actually made me remember a picture in the MTC of a missionary baptizing someone in a hole cut in the ice. I think it was Russia or something like that. ¡Qué frio! But that was cool. We are still working with a few of the others, butI have faith that we can baptize them all. I remember now, the words of a member who was on the plane with me here to Colombia. As I got off, he told me "Go and baptized the [H-E-double hockey sticks] out of 'em". The same general idea is expresed in the final admonition of the Savior in Matthew 28:19. I'm working on it.

Who here saw the Christmas Devotional from the First Presidency? I did!!! The talks and the music were great, but I left missing home a little bit. With President Uchdorf's talk it was kind of funny, because all the latins didn't understand what spiced cider was.... "Entoces es jugo de manzana, caliente, con algunas especias?" "Sí" ".....Ah....Bueno.....¿Yporqué le gusta eso?" I guess there are just some things you've got to experience for yourself.

So, sadly, that is all I have to report for now. I'll keep you posted on what happens this week.

Love you all,
Elder Gabe Rallison

Sneak peak at next week: not one, but two activities for Christmas! One by the mission with all the missionaries, and one by the ward. Till next time!

Monday, November 22, 2010

From Engativá =D

So, here things are good. One thing we like to say about Engativa is that it is the place where every missionary will finish his mission. Why? Because it is right next to the airport here in Bogota. Everyone is destined to end here! =D

The climate here is COLD. Well, not that cold, but after almost 5 months of heat, an instant change to cold, rainy, high altitude conditions can be a bit of a shock. I've gone from Barranca (which is the worst heat of Colombia) to Bucaramanga (which is a little cooler) and now to Bogota (where it is so cold at night that you use four wool blankets). Fun change.

Here in Engativá we have one hermana who is like the mother of all the missionaries, la hna Baquero. She is really great and in my short time here, has invited us to breakfast twice, lunch once, and twice to dinner. She is like the heart of the ward.

The ward here is cool, and they're quick. They've already assigned me to talk....on my birthday. How does that work out? Ah well, it will be cool none-the-less. This past Sunday was the primary program here in Engativá. All of the kids were dressed in the primary colors: red, yellow, and blue, which also happen to be the colors of Colombia as well. The older kids (Valientes) shared short talks about the First Vision, the nature of the Godhead, Jesus Christ, and Eternal Life. The younger kids (Haz Lo Justo) shared scriptures that they memorized. It was really something special.

We've been working really hard here and have several investigators who are just golden. We've got Johnathan and Joanna Leydi, who are both the children (23 and 17 years old respectively) of a recent convert. Leydi is already working on her personal progress and has plans to finish it before she turns 18 (seven months more). Her brother loves to cook and dreams of working as a chef on a cruise liner. Suffice to say they are both set to be baptized on the 5th of December.

We also have another pair of investigators, Juan David and his mom, Ana Isabel. Juan David is great, he loves asking questions. The funny part is that when he gets his answer he wants to know the why of the why of the why of the answer. We joke about needing to set up a four hour appointment in order to answer all his questions. His mom is great, but is still faulting as far as here testimony is concerned. We challenged her to sincerely pray following the counsel of Moroni 10:4-5 and promised her that she wold receive an answer. Now, we'll just have to see how that goes.

Aside from that, don't really have much more to say. All of you back home, enjoy the turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, stuffing, rolls, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, green beans with french onions, ham, fruit, and that pistachio-marshmallow stuff on Thursday for me. Yeah, I'm going to miss el Dia de Acción de Gracias (Thanksgiving). Most of all, remember to count your blessings and enjoy your time together as family.

Love you all, and send all of you my best wishes. May you be blessed in all your endeavors.

Attentamante,
Elder (Gabe) Rallison

Monday, November 15, 2010

On the road again...

So, the changes are here. I'm heading back to Bogota again. Yep, we got called last night and I've got a change to zone Dorada (yeah, the golden zone) and my area is Engativa (that´s pronounced in-ga-tiba). My comp is staying here and is going to train this cambio. My new compañero, well, I think his name is Elder Mendoza. I´ll be more sure tomorrow night when I get there. It's only a ten hour bus ride. Fun.....right? But seriously, I´m really going to miss it here. There's even a mall here in Floridablanca that looks exactly like one from the states. Right down to the pricing. Even had McDonald's. But ah well, moving on.

So this week was a little crazy. This Tuesday we were working like normal, teaching, contacting, more teaching, more contacting, and then...it started to rain. Qué feo. And did it rain. And better yet, we had to walk over 30 blocks in that torrential rain. Can it get worse...yes. Then the power in all the city went out. Luckily we were close to a member's house, so we taught them a short lesson and then the father of the family gave us a lift to the apartment. When we got home we were soaked to the bone.

I had an intercambio in Piedecuesta (Spanish for foothills.....now where's Ahwatukee?) on Wednesday, which was fun , but lacked something important....water! Yeah, there was no running water in Piedecuesta due to some problems with the aqueduct. Not fun. But the good part is by the morning, the water had returned. And better yet, I had my first hot shower in four months. You see, here in Tierra Caliente there aren´t the wonderful shower head water heaters. So, the water is ice cold every morning. But for some miracle Piedecuesta has a water heater shower head. It was glorious. Also, while my companion was here, he set up a baptismal date for one of our investigators. But he didn´t exactly do it. The nonmember grandma of the investigator did! How cool is that?!?

So I had a special spiritual experience this week. I was just minding my own business Friday night, when I got an impression that I should get my bags packed. I know that that sounds stupid, but really, that´s how it was. I had no idea I had a change coming, in fact the odds were against it. I only have one change here in Cañaveral after all. But I did follow it. And what do you know. It was right. Never doubt that still small voice. --After note, we also made and ate hamburgers and popcorn this night. Yum!!!

Yesterday we got to speak again in church. Yeah, the primary program fell through because almost none of the kids prepared. So we got to talk. I talked on becoming as a child (Mosiah 3:19; 3 Nephi 9:22) and then my companion talked about the Atonement. He was good. He shared that story about how one boy took the lickin' for another. I don't remember exactly what it is called, but yeah, that story. He then shared 3 Nefi 9:13 which is one of the coolest verses of all time. It reads : "O all ye that are spared because ye were more righteous than they, will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you?" Some deep food for thought there.

As for this area, well, one of the things that makes it sad to go is that we have made so much progress here. We have one investigator, Mauricio, who is getting baptized this Saturday. But I won't be here to see it. And man is he golden. We asked him in a lesson last week "What do the words 'Sabbath Day' mean to you?" He then went and taught us the lesson. And better than we would have taught it. He´ll be a good member.

I've learned a lot here, and hope to be able to continue learning and growing in this new area. Oh, and now I´m going to be senior comp. Dang. I've got to really get up and work now....kidding. All that changes is I have to call the district leader. And if something goes wrong it is my fault. Fun stuff. I've discovered that there are two things that determine if someone is a good missionary or not. They are: the Holy Ghost and initiative. If a missionary has those, he's set. If not...well he'd better work on getting them. Like I'm working on it.

Love you all, and hope you are all doing great. Keep strong and keep faithful. Show your love of the gospel in how you live.
Attentamente,
Elder (Gabe) Rallison

Monday, November 8, 2010

FLORIDABLANCA STRIKES BACK

So, I finally have started getting better. You see, I believe I had parasites. Yeah, THOSE fun little guys that live in your gut and make life miserable. But, good news is, I took some weird yellow pills and now, I'm gaining weight! Por fin!!! I've been trying to gain weight almost all of my mission, but all I've done is lost weight. But now, my fate is changing. I hope. I´ll keep you posted.

So I had an interesting experience the other day. I went to get a haircut the other day and well, I was paying more attention to contacting the stylist than to what the stylist was doing to my hair. I don´t think I explained very well what I wanted and well, she kind of cut off almost all my hair. I now look like the newest member of the Colombian military. Well, gringo, but you get the idea.

Yesterday was fun. We got to teach priesthood, I got to play piano in sacrament meeting, my companion got to conduct, bore our testimonies, and we almost had to teah gospel principles too. All without any notice whatsoever. And after, when we went to lunch, we were served three plates of food.....each. And wouldn't you know it, I was still hungry after wards. What is my problem?

Also, life moves on here in Cañaveral. We are constantly running from end to end of the area, which btw, is huge. We are working with several people right now, but so far, Marucio is the only one whois really progressing. He's really cool and always really interested. He's a great investigator. He even came to our zone activity that we had today.

So for our zone activity, we played a lot of soccer, which I am really enjoying. I love playing it, I'm just not very good...yet. It will come with practice. My team actaully won the most games in the end, so I mean we weren't that bad. While we were playing soccer, the sister missionaries came by and cooked lunch fro the zone. They made something called "Completos". A completo is a hot dog with boiled onions, diced tomatoes, guacamole, mayo, mustard, and ketchup. Those things are good. As was the soda. We have several types of soda here that don't exist in the states. One of my favorites is Postobon Manzana. Yep, apple flavored soda. Also, Quatro, which is a kind of a cross between sprite and that grapefruit soda (of which I can't remember the name) is really good.

I think that about wraps it up for this week. I promise, next week, I will tak better notes so that I have more to say.

Love you all, and I wish you sucess in all your righteous endeavors.

Attentamente,
Elder (Gabe) Rallison

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Happy Halloween

So in response to all those questions out there, yes, Halloween exists here in Colombia. It´s terrible. Because of stinking Halloween, we had a terrible day yesterday. Everybody was either out with their kids trick or treating, or getting drunk/partying. As such, it was impossible to contact anyone, like seriously, ever tried explaining the love that God has for each one of us to Buzz Lightyear and a witch? It really doesn't work out very well. Also, no one really takes you seriously because they half think you´re just someone else in a costume. So after the bust contacting, we went around to attempt to visit some investigators and members. And NO ONE was home. We literally went through plan A, B, C, D, and E all in the space of one hour. A really effective day that. It´s like, I love Halloween as a normal person back home, but as a missionary it sucks.

Well, that day really wasn´t all bad. We had a countrywide regional conference by satellite yesterday. At first the signal was a little weak and cut out a bit, but in the end all worked out fine. We had messages from Elder Scott and from Pres Monson. Elder Scott has great Spanish by the way. He actually had several visual aids too that were really cool. He took a light bulb and turned it on. He said that this is you. You are literally a light to all around you. You have a protective covering, the glass of the bulb or obedience to the commandments, that protects the fragile filament, you, from the danger of the outside that would destroy it. Then took a screwdriver and began tapping the bulb. He said, "Sometimes we don´t outright cross the line, but toe it, toe it a little more, a little more, until....." He taps harder and harder until the bulb just breaks. "This happens". No bulb, no light. Don´t cross that line, don´t even toe the line. Don't for one minute think that you can lower you standards and still be safe. It doesn't work that way.

We've got a baptism coming up here. Were working with getting one investigator, Marucio, baptised. His sister, cousin, and grandma are all members, but just not him. Yet. He plans to be baptized in three weeks. Finally, were making progress. Were also working with another young man, Diego, to get him baptized. He´s just very catholic. He really likes all we´ve shared, and wants to ask a priest why they never talk about the Book of Mormon. We´ll have to see what the priest says.
=D. The last of the big fish in our teaching pool is Maria. She is a reference from a member of a bishopric in the other stake here in Bucaramanga. She always has good questions, but is a little hesitant to go and ask God. Ah well, we will be working with that.

Well, with that contorted excuse for a well written letter, I end my epistle. May you, my brethren, continue firm in the faith. This is my prayer and hope.

Attentamente,
Elder (Gabe) Rallison

Bella Vista

Well, that was good. Long week, but rich with stuff. The only hard thing is that I lost my daily planner, and with that, a large portion of my notes as to what I would be writing home. But with all that said, there were several great events.

First, the noche de barrio (familiy home evening as a ward). It was organized by us the missionaries, to help the ward members to builf their testimonies and their desire to participate in misionary work. We shared the Joseph Smith story, though the DVD player died on us with the Restoration DVD. So we read it out loud. Everyone really loved it, especailly the games. I taught them all how to play missionary tag, also known as buddy tag. It was a major hit.

We have been working with several investigators right now, but with little progress. This past sunday the only one of our investigators to come to church was our deaf investigator. That was depressing, as we had about six lined up to come to church. But everyone has an excuse, I feel sick, my son is sick, I have to make lunch for the familiy, etc. But ah well, next week will be better.

Today we played soccer with our zone (Bucaramanga) and my old zone (Terazas). Man, it was cool to see all the old faces once again. We also played lots of Uno. Yep, Uno. The card game of colors and numbers. It is seriously the most popular game in the mission (well, after soccer).

For lunch today I ate.....McDonalds. What, did you think I was gouing to say something all gross? Funny thing is, here, McD's is high class. Really high class. Next time I'll have to send a picture. The McDonalds here is all stainless steel and black leather. Way different from back home. Only one sad thing.....the lack of the dollar menu.

I think that´s all for now. Sorry, there really isn´t more to say. Things are moving on as usual. I'm here in Colombia as a missionary, marriage counselor, English/Math/Science/Music tutor, maid, and many more. Love it all.

Un abrazo para todos,
-Elder (Gabe) Rallison

Monday, October 18, 2010

What a crazy week that was....

I´m not kidding you at all with that title. Seriously, it was crazy.

Monday was the most normal. Went and played soccer as a zone in an awesome indoor football field with synthetic turf. Fun stuff that. I'm still not very good at football, the Latins schooled me (and all the other gringos), but all told I´m getting a lot better. After, we went shopping at a supermarket called Carrefour. This place was awesome. It seriously has everything. Including things that I´ve never seen before here in Colombia, such as Cambell´s Tomato soup, A-1 BBQ sauce, and the good old refried beans from home. The only sad part is that all of that stuff is prohibitively expensive for a poor missionary. For example, the Campbell's costs about 8,000 pesos. That's about $4.00. Now when was the last time you payed that much to have tomato soup with your grilled cheese?

Tuesday was fairly normal. That was also the day when I realized exactly how hilly this area is. It is seriously like San Fransisco, but a inland, Colombian version. We had several appointments fall through, but the last one still happened. Pedro is a reference from a member who is visiting from Bogota. He's 30-something, single, and loves paragliding. One problem. He's deaf. That makes it a just little hard to explain the message of the Restoration of the gospel. But we got to know him pretty well by miming and writing stuff. Will have to work on finding a more effective way to teach him.

Wednesday was also pretty cool. Taught a lesson to a family of recent converts, the Cortez family, who were baptized about a month ago. Who happen to have a little girl who has the biggest brown eyes I've ever seen in my life. She's two. It's like the Puss in Boots from Shrek, but in real life. She's so adorable. Going home later that night I saw something that sent me on a four hour long laughing fit. Here in Colombia everyone uses motorcycles to travel. Well, this night I saw a little old lady, probably about 80 years old, on a white three wheeled motorcycle, with Scottish-style plaid pants. I don't know why I thought it was so funny, but it was. My chest seriously hurt from so much laughing.

On to Thursday. We did our weekly planning and then went to work. Almost all of our appointments fell through, so we sent a large part of the day contacting. We knocked so many doors that day. In the end that was about all we did. It was then that I realized I was getting sick. Again. I hate it when that happens.

Friday...not much interesting. Contacted a Catholic priest who was here from Cuba on vacation. But other than that not much.

Saturday, talked with a guy who was baptized in Texas, moved back to Colombia, went inactive, and is now living with his girlfriend in his mom´s house. Oh and he also says that he believes that each person is his/her own church. AUUUGH. I liked the Catholic priest more.

NOW SUNDAY.....That was a weird day. To start, we went to church only to find that our investigator didn´t come even after we had called the night before to make sure she came. Even sent a member that morning. Worse, the main speaker in church that day was a no-show. What does that mean? That the Elders will have the pleasure of presenting a talk each with only a 15 min warning. That was fun. My companion talked about how we are examples, and I talked about gratitude (it kind of ended up being a hybrid of Pres Monson´s and Elder Holland's talks from general conference). Everyone says that it went well. Oh and I also played accompaniment in Sacrament Meeting and in Gospel Principles. Priesthood was one of those, "it´s a small word after all" moments. The high priest group leader was giving the lesson about baptism. He said, " I still remember the day I was baptized, more than 20 years ago." Then he whipped out a 22 year old wedding invitation. He continued, "I still remember the missionary who baptized me, Elder Clason. I am eternally grateful to him." I was like......" Oh...my....gosh....THAT'S MY STAKE PRESIDENT!!!!! Pres Clason, if you are reading this Cristobal Alvarez sends his "Saludos". Yeah. The word is that small. The guy who set me apart as a missionary is the same guy who baptized the high priest group leader in the ward I am serving in. After church we headed over to where Sonia, our investigator who missed church, lives. Turns out that she didn't come to church because someone tried to break into her house last night. Oh. So we were talking with her when her husband started fighting with some guy. People started to gather and things were starting to get heated there, so we retreated to the house of the second counselor of the bishopric, who just so happens to live on the other side of the street. In the end, a crazy, crazy, day.

Today, didn´t do much. Practiced a bit of football on the court in our apartment complex. Washed laundry. Read a lot of Alma ( I am reading it out loud in Spanish to help me with my pronunciation) and am now about halfway through with Alma. And now, I am writing this email. With that I close.

Love you all a lot,
Elder (Gabe) Rallison

Monday, October 11, 2010

Bucaramanga

So, this will likely be short.

Yes, I am here in Bucaramanga. For the the first time in my mission I am serving in a ward instead of a branch. The cool thing about this area is that part of it is really rich and the other a little more humble. For example, our lunch the second day here was a seafood soup with rice and a lime wedge. Yeah, seafood. Like shrimp, clam, mussel, oyster. Wow. I don't remember the last time I ate something like that. Then, later we went knocking doors in an area a little more humble. We found Sonia, who invited us in , we taught the Restoration, and then invited her to be baptized on the 30th. She said yes! In the first lesson! That was a good day.

Oh, as a side note, we moved house on the first day here. Had to take everything from the fifth floor apartment and load it into two trucks. Then move everything into the new apartment. Which thankfully, is on the first floor.

Oh, I have a new companion too. Elder Godoy, from Argentina. He's from a small city about an hour south of Buenos Aires.

Well, that sucks. I'm out of time. Sorry, this keyboard has really sticky keys and it is really hard to type anything.

"See" you all next week.

Lo mejor,

Elder Gabe Rallison

Monday, October 4, 2010

CONFERENCE!!!!

And so we continue. Another week gone. And as of yesterday, five months living in Colombia. I can´t believe how fast it´s all gone. But ah well, such is life. It´s always doing this thing of moving forward even when we don´t want it to. But all good things must end. Including my time here in Barranca. Yep, I´ve got transfers!!!!

Tomorrow I´ll be heading to my new area in Cañaveral. It´s part of the Zone of Bucaramanga, a city that is known as being paradise. A "perfect" climate, or so they say. I´ve heard that my new area is supposed to be really great and, for the first time, I´ll be serving in a ward.

One of my favorite parts of this past week was Conference. By far. We had a great experience here. We got to watch it here in the church building in Barranca by satellite. And better yet, in English. Yeah, me and the other gringo here in Barranca, Elder Larson, got to watch it in our own little room in English. It was really cool. I loved all the talks and took plentiful notes, but regrettably I forgot them in the house. But still, I had several favorites. The first talk was one of my favorites. The "Thank You" from Elder Holland. I actually cr¡ied when he said "Thanks Mom and Dad". That made me feel very trunky. I also loved Pres Uchdorf´s talk about how sometimes we just need to slow down. It´s when we get over scheduled and overworked that we start to get stressed. When we feel that we are not progressing as fast as we should. Just slow down. Simplify. These are just two examples of all the amazing messages that I got from the last conference. And really, to me, it didn´t feel like ten hours. It felt more like ten minutes. It was all over so fast.

Well, as I forgot my notes of the conference and of the week, I really can´t remember what more I had to say. Oops. But those were the important parts.

One more. I love you all and am eternally grateful for all that each of you have done for me.

Hasta luego,

Elder Rallison

Zone Conference...and the rest

¿Comó estan?

Here in Colombia, life is moving along. Each day, and every moment, there is something new. On Wednesday, we had intercambios here in Barranca. I went to the area of Elder Gamarra, up in the northern parts of the city, which went really well. We went around doing good, and preaching the gospel. Also stopped for a bit of water, because it was hot. Then we continued teaching. This continued for much time. Wow. That sounds terrible. That night we traveled to Bucaramanga for zone conference.

We had a two day zone conference on Thursday and Friday. This zone conference was literally a spiritual feast.

The assistants shared a scripture from the parable of the vineyard in Jacob 5:48. They then shared about how often some exterior and relatively unimportant things can be branches that, while in themselves aren´t bad, can outgrow and sap strength from the roots of a strong testimony. They then shared with us a manner in which we can make sure that we have strong testimonies. They then challenged us to read the scripture that so often we leave for our investigators, 3 Nephi 11, to meditate in the words of that chapter, and to pray to know if the Book of Mormon is true. There are three roots that compose a strong testimony. The Book of Mormon. The Atonement of Jesus Christ. The Restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ.

As I read that chapter that night, I thought and felt as if I was there. As if I heard a voice from on high, testifying of Christ. As if I saw Him. Touched His hands and His feet. As if I listened to His mandate to be baptized to to baptize, to comply with His doctrine. To have faith, repent, be baptized, receive the Holy Ghost, and then to remain firm in this commitment.

I prayed. I asked. I found. I felt. The promise of Moroni 10:4-5 is true. All who sincerely ask will receive an answer. I know. I have received it. If he talked to me, I know he will talk to you.

The next day was equally spiritual, with a ton of practices focused on helping people commit to baptism, verification of commitments, inviting people to pray, and resolving concerns. All of this was mixed with thoughts of inspiration from President and Sister Hacking. After everyone did the 3 Nephi 11 challenge the night before, President Hacking asked three missionaries to come and write "The Book of Mormon" on a piece of paper. One wrote with a three hundred dollar fountain pen. Another with a hundred dollar ballpoint. The last, with a twenty five cent BIC pen. The writing implements were all very different, about as varied as the missionaries in attendance, but each one wrote the same words, just as each of us bear the same testimony to the world.

As an afterthought, I will also include that it wasn´t all meetings. A game that is growing in popularity in the mission is Ninja. For those who don´t know, it is a very active game that is played in a group. Each person is ninja and the object is to eliminate all the rest by hitting them in the hand. Each person can make one attack in their turn and then has to remain in that position until their next turn unless someone attacks, in which case they can dodge. When you lose both hands, you´re out. It´s really a lot of fun. I´ll see if I can´t get you all the pictures.

We finally got back to the house late Friday night. The next day, on Saturday, it was back to work. We visited several less actives, one of which was painting his house and didn´t have time to talk to us. The other was better, and wants to go to church this Sunday.

GASP. I almost forgot. But how....!? Yeah, this weekend is GENERAL CONFERENCE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am so excited that this email can´t contain my excitement. Everyone has to watch conference and then tell me about their favorite talks. I still don´t know if I´ll get to watch in Spanish or English, but whichever, it will still be awesome. I have seriously never been so excited for a conference in my life.

Well, that´s about it. I haven´t done anything interesting today. Just cleaned up the house a little. But other than that, nothing interesting.

Well, love you all a lot. Hope you´re all doing well and will write me when you have the time...=D

Con mucho cariño,

Elder Gabe Rallison

PS... Spencer turns 20 tomorrow. =D Saludos a él.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

From where I left off....two weeks ago

Sorry, I didn´t have much computer time last week as we were in Bucaramanga for an activity of zone and were running late. So from the week before last week, the main events were as follows

-Baptism of Sebastian, who happens to be one of the coolest and smartest ten year olds I know. So cool. I love baptisms. Me hace sentir feliz.

-Killing cockroaches in our house. The other day I called my comp and said,"Look! I found a family! Quick, start teaching about the restoration before they scatter!!!!" Then we disposed of the family of six cockroaches that found their way into our house.

And from the last Monday, we were in Bucaramanga. We played football (all you people out there probably know it better as soccer) in a field with synthetic grass (that is the high class way to play). After that, we ate lunch with some converts of my companion there in Bucaramanga. All in all, a well spent day.

This past week was busy. My companion said that for practice, I get to be the senior companion that week. What that means is that I´m responsible for managing the area and the companionship. The calls, reports, scheduling, practices, etc. Was a great learning experience. I got to see, for my own experience, what works and what doesn´t. And really, there are several things that just don´t work. Like waiting for someone to stop talking in an appointment that has already gone overtime. They won´t stop talking. Ever. Well, in three hours. But okay, by the end I was a little more assertive on that front.

The rest of the week went great. We are working with one couple, Robison y Heeni, but they still have a long way to go. You see, they are both married, but not to each other. So, we either need both of them to divorce and then marry or separate. We taught them the law of chastity, and now, the ball is in their court. We´ll see what goes down with that. I´m praying.....like always.......

With another couple, well...they´re having troubles with their marriage. She thinks he doesn´t appreciate all she does. He thinks that she doesn´t realize how important he is to her. He has said that he wants to leave her. She says she wouldn´t miss him. ¡Que vaina! Why can´t people just get along? Worse, they are not investigators, but members. So we taught a little about the Proclamation for the Family. That was a powerful lesson. Any of you married people out there have any advice in this? This is one thing in which these poor missionaries have little to give. But, if you are experiencing problems with your children or spouse, before you do anything more, read the Proclamation to the World.

And today. So today we cleaned the house. Ala delux (Umm...if you don´t know what that means ask my Mom. she´s the one who always says it.) Normally we sweep the floors, clean the counter tops, etc. daily, but today we went all out. We swept, mopped, polished, disinfected (it was necessary), killed (cockroaches that is), folded, and more. The house never looked better. And then, my favorite part, I made....tortillas. So, I´ve been having an obsession for some good Mexican food, problem is, there aren´t any tortillas here. So, I made some. They actually turned out really good. Just need a lot of flour and a little water. Ate them alone, because we didn´t have any beans or meat. But still, it´s a tortilla. The last time I ate a tortilla was when I arrived here in Colombia, in a Mexican restauraunt behind the mission office.

And now, I leave you all until next week.
As a short preview as for what´s to come.....zone conference....until next week,

Les quireo. Sean felices. Sean fuertes. Sed de buen animo.

Chao.

Monday, September 6, 2010

A Night in a Colombian Hospital

So that title is a little interesting. For all who are wondering otherwise, right now I am perfectly fine. I was not feeling so good earlier this week. So this last Tuesday we had interviews with Presidente Hacking, so we of Barranca had to take a three hour bus ride to Bucaramanga for the interviews. Those went off great, and after we went and ate out. Was tasty, but afterward it left me feeling terrible. I had been feeling nasty all weekend but this topped it all off. We called up the secretary of salud (the missionary who manages all the health issues in the mission) and he sent me to the clinica (hospital). The doctor visited with me, drew some blood (which sucks, I wouldn't recommend it), and in the end reached the conclusion that I had a really bad case of dengue fever and needed to spend the night under observation. So I got a nice hospital bed for the night (which was about a foot to short for me) as well as a bag of serum and a stint in my arm. The next day they ran another blood test and told me that I was good to go but had to "take it easy" and that I was "not allowed to leave the city". Yeah, I was stuck in bed in the house of the zone leaders in Bucaramanga until the doctors thought I was ready to go. That time came the next day and another blood test later. So I finally got back to my area Saturaday night, after spending a week in Bucaramanga having a lot of fun.

I want to say thanks to everyone who is out there praying for me. I really can feel the effects of these prayers. The strength I receive from the Spirit each day is a testament to me that this is true. Thank you all for the lessons that you have taught me and for the examples you have shown. I am eternally grateful for the effect that you have had in my life.

-Elder (Gabe) Rallison

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Introducing.....Elder Leon

With cambios and all, the last week was kind of hectic. I was with my district leader on Tuesday and Wednesday while we were waiting for the new missionaries. I had a great time working in the area of Parnaso, which is the northern part of Barranca. Was in Parnaso until my companion arrived on Wednesday. His last area was in Bogota, so he´d had a nice twelve hour bus ride to get here.
My companion right now is Elder Leon. He´s from Guayaquil Ecuador and has about nine months in the mission. But for such a short amount of time, he is one of the best missionaries I have ever met. He is about half my height but double the power. We are so going to rock this area. We haven´t really had the chance to do much more than take him around and introduce him to all the members and investigators here.
Part of our lack of work here is my fault. I´ve been a little sick with a stomach bug the past few days. I´m feeling a little better now.
Love you all,
Elder Rallison

Monday, August 23, 2010

And another one comes around

You know, it´s always just when yo think you´ve got something down, that life throws you a curve ball. We´ve got transfers!!!!
I´m still in my same area, here in Barranca, but my companion is heading to Bogota. My new comp will get here on Tuesday or Wednesday. His name is Elder Leon. More than that I don´t know at the moment, but more news to come next week.
This past week has been fun. None of the crazy activities of past weeks, but a lot of hard work. We had interchanges where I got to work here for a day with one of the youth here in Barrranca. It was really cool, I got a little taste of what it´s like to be a trainer. By the end of the day, he was contacting the taxi driver. It was pretty sweet. Then, late that week I got to go and work with my district leader, Elder Gamarra for a couple days in the area of Parnaso. We contacted like crazy and actually had a few people who invited us in on the contact. Like, we knocked the door, they opened, and invited us in. How sweet is that. And it happened like six times that day. And better yet, by the end of the day we had a great Noche de Hogar (that´s what they call FHE here) with a family that is going through some tough times. By the end, they all agreed to have family prayer and scripture study every day, and then glued a paper with this goal to the wall of the living room. Man I love Colombia.
I gave a talk in sacrament meeting this past Sunday. It was about the importance of fast offerings. I shared a few scriptures about it (did you know that there is a chapter in Isaiah that talks very clearly about fasting?) and bore my testimony. My companion got up to give his talk on service and said that he was at a loss of what to say, because someone stole all of his scriptures. What can I say, I just followed the guidance of the Spirit.
All of the awesome people here are progressing rapidly. Alfonzo blessed the sacrament in church yesterday, and I have heard that they are going to receive callings this coming Sunday. We hope to baptize one of their kids, Sebastian, this coming Saturday. The older son, Nico, will be a little more difficult as he is with his other father on Sundays and in reality has no real interest in attending. Just your normal 16-year-old kid. But the good news is that he has started attending seminary (which here takes place in a converted garage every weeknight) with the youth of the branch. Better yet, he kind of likes one of the young women of the branch. I´m thinking baptism in September. Who´s with me?
Well, that´s about it for now, as always, hasta el proximo lunes.
Les quiero,
Elder (Gabe) Rallison

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Life goes on

Hey everybody!!!
So, not much new this week, just the normal here in Barranca. I am still working my hardest and striving to be who I need to be. It has been hot here the past few days, and it´s not looking like it´s getting better, but hey, so it is. Played volleyball today and I am burned. I look like a lobster fresh from the pot. I am never going to forget sunscreen again. Had some great investigators in church yesterday and that night I taught english class . Fun when I can actually speak. I´m kind of out of time...
Until now....
Okay so I´m writing fast and I apoligize for any mistakes in my punctution and grammar. I had a crazy Saturday last week, several Elders died (went home, finished their missions... No they didn´t really die, not in that way) yesterday so we had an asado (BBQ) on Saturday. It was sweeeet. Lots of mashed potatoes and meat. The carne was cooked in an awesome Colombian style, glazed with a mix of oil and grated pannela, a colombian BBQ sauce. It was really good. Followed by coconut cake. It was good stuff.
Well...I´ve got to get going now, so until next time...
Elder Rallison

Monday, August 9, 2010

Here we go, and boy is there a lot to cover

Hey all,

Taking it from where I left off last time I wrote....

2 semanas pasadas (2 weeks ago)
So the coconut was good, and was much enjoyed by all.

For the rest of the week we were pretty busy and all. We had some great lessons with Alfonzo and Marina, touching on some doubts that they had due to having been involved with so many different religions. Alfonzo was seriously like Joseph Smith, as in "what is to be done? Who of all these parties are right; or, are they all wrong together? If any one of them be right, which is it, and how shall I know it?" He investigated about every church imaginable before meeting us. This made for a lot of fun when we taught them, because they always had questions, and good ones too. Got to explain that there is no such thing as reincarnation (for which the scripture Heb 9:27 is very useful). Continued to have trials, but hey, this is a mission, it´s not supposed to be easy, but it´s worth it.

y ahora....
la semana anterior (the last week)
So last Monday we were in the wonderful city of Bucaramanga. Was a great P-day with all the zone. We arrived by bus (a three hour ride) Sunday night, and spent the night there in Bucaramanga. The next day we had an epic game of soccer (in which proof was seen that gringos can´t play soccer) that lasted for a couple hours followed by a game of basketball (in which it was seen that while the gingos can´t play soccer, they dominate in basketball). After that fun, ran a few errands in Bucaramanga and then got to work. We did a little something called a show of force. A show of force is when a group of missionaries get together in one area for a few hours and contact/teach like crazy. I worked with Elder Gammara (my district leader) and contacted for a neighborhood that was rich with people who wanted to listen to us. The neighborhood was crazy awesome too, little alleyways that wind down a hill side with houses or jungle on each side. Was a lot of fun. Then, went home that night (yeah, more time on the bus).
All in all a lot of fun.

We continued to teach Alfonzo and Marina and worked to prepare them for their baptism this last Saturday. He had a really difficult time with ...dejar a fumar ( umm...stopping smoking?) but we challenged him to fast for it so that he could enjoy the blessings of the gospel. He did (and we did too), and now he isn´t smoking anymore. Just...stopped. We also taught him about family history and temples. He was like "you mean I can be baptized for my dad? My cousin?" He was really excited for that.

This past Friday we had a Super P-day in Bucaramanga (where the rest of my zone is) with the assistants. Was awesome, more soccer (but on a realish field with artificial turf) with 3 teams that rotated every five minutes. That way, everyone got time to play. My team dominated.


After we were all good and tired of soccer, we headed to one of the chapels and had lunch. One of the hermanas from that barrio cooked us lasagna and french toast. There was a lot of food. Like a kilo of lasagna for each one of us as well as a large hunk of french bread. We watched a movie called "Facing the Giants"(I think that´s the name in English). It´s a Cristian-movie version of "remember the titans." Had a great message.... "With God, nothing is impossible." I can personally testify of that. Why? Because on Saturday we had two baptisms.

Yeah, Alfonzo and Marina were baptized this past Saturday. It was an amazing experience. I baptized Marina and my companion, Elder Machacuay, baptized Alfonzo. To make it even better we had Pres and Hna Hacking in attendance. They were in town for a couple meetings with the leaders of the district. It was amazing. I so almost cried that night, I was so freaking happy for them. They are going to be such strong members. In one year, I hope and pray that I am able to see them in the temple to be sealed as an eternal family. I live for those moments when these people I have grown to love are dressed in white.

Directly after the baptisms, we had another district activity. We had a great game in which the people would spin a wheel to receive a task. They had to fulfill the task to gain points for their team. One of my favorites was strength. It was one of them arm wrestling with one of the missionaries. The best was when we had Alfonzo vs Pres Hacking. Pres Hacking won by wiping out his other hand and bringing the clenched fists to the table. I am reminded of a quote from Bro Farris "Young age and skill are no match for old age and treachery." (or something like that). Loved this past week, and am fired up for the week to come.

Love you all,
Elder (Gabe) Rallison

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Busy times in Barrancabermeja

Well, I´m going way back with this one. To 20 de Julio.

So to start we had an activity for the district of Barranca (note-a district is the primordial version of a stake). We (the missionaries) organized the whole thing. We had a ton of fun with this thing. We served tamales (which here are made in a giant palm leaf) and drank punch. Had a ton of activities, musical chairs, and my personal favorite, the skit that we missionaries put on. It was a parody of a district meeting. We had to practice,in this meeting, our contacting. Went pretty well, with contacting in the style of Rambo, Shakespeare, Olympic athletes, and many more. I´ll have to see if I can send you a video. It was seriously really funny. Pres Hacking was there too, and he loved it. Also the jovenes del districto Barranca had an awesome dance presentation.


It is seriously hot in Barranca. But I love it. We are working really hard and have baptisms coming up this Saturday. This family is really sweet. Alfonzo, the forty something husband, loves having us come and is so ready to be baptized. He previously had quite a smoking problem, but now has completely changed. Originally he was the type who always talked to everyone about religion and got really confused with all the different beliefs. Like Joseph Smith type of confused. But now, he´s just totally ready. Yesterday we taught about family history and temples. He´s like....you mean I can be baptized for my grandpa? and my dad? He is so excited. His wife, Marina, and his son are the same. They love coming to church and just say it feels different. It feels good.

This past Monday we had a great P-day. Ate chicken with some of the members here in Barranca and drove out to the Puente. It is a big old bridge that crosses the river that separates the department of Santander from the other department. More importantly, the other side is the Mission Cali. After taking some pictures and admiring the oil refinery of EcoPetrol (which I´m told is the largest refinery of the largest company in Colombia). Afterwards we picked coconuts from a tree and cracked them open.

----------------
More to come next week, I had computer problems yet again. Love you lots.
Elder Rallison

Monday, July 19, 2010

Barrancabermeja - say that five times fast

Well I´m here in Barrancabermeja. Yeah it´s a long name, I know. The license plates actually read B/bermeja here. It is hot. And humid. As in you step out of the shower and start sweating within a minute. On a hot day you can walk outside and there will be several iguanas sunning themselves on the front porch. We were walking to an appointment the other day and there were city workers trimming a tree. With machetes. It´s pretty sweet. Oh and our house is nicer this time too. We have fans in each room and a built in gas stove. The bedroom even has a small ac unit. Will send pictures next week. Right now I´m having problems with my camera and have not yet figured out how fix it. But never fear, there will be pictures.

My companion is awesome, he´s actually from my group. He´s from Peru (Lima this time) and is great to work with. We don´t have many investigators, so we´ve been doing a bit of contacting. We´re also working on activating the branch. There are about 400 members on the rolls, but on Sunday, there were only 30 in church. We´ve got a bit of work to do. My Spanish is coming along and I feel fairly confident communicating with people. Which as a missionary is something just a little important.

Love you all and hope you´re all doing fine. If anyone has a question about Colombia, Spanish, etc, let me know.

-Elder Rallison

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Bautsimos, discorsos, cambios...Oh my!

This past week has been crazy. We had ten investigators who we were trying to get baptized before transfers, but we didn´t get them all. We got seven. Which is amazing by the way. Was a crazy week running around and making sure that they were all ready. For example, to do the interviews, the district leader came here with my companion and I was in Tocancipa for a couple days on an interchange with his companion, Elder Uarca. Since Elder Uarca has only 3 months, I was the senior companion for the day. Was fun, and I learned a lot. It was pouring rain all day so by the end we were saoked to the bone. After that, I returned to Zipa and continued working with my comp to prepare our investigators for baptism. In the end, Mirella and her children, Daniela, Alejandro, and Esteban (who I got to baptize, awesome experience) as well as two kids from another family Jhon and Daniela, were baptized on Saturday. Cake and ice cream were enjoyed afterwards by all present. This was followed by the bapism of Diana on Sunday morning (she is one of the kids of Mirella, but had to work on Saturday).

All of the above persons were confirmed in church yesterday. In this same meeting I had the oppertunity to give a talk. My topic? A man without eloquence. Yeah, when I heard that I was like, ´Wow a perfect topic for me.´ The topic is based on the conversion of Brigham Young and how if all worldly wisdom and cunning were presented standing that the Book of Mormon is true, for him, it would be nothing more than as the smoke on the wind. But the simple testimony of a man without eloquence or strength in pubic speaking, brought a Spirit which penetrated every fiber of his being and he could not doubt the truth of the words of that man.

To close, I got a call last night. I´m being transferred. To Barrancabermeja, area Pinos. Don´t know much about it, except that it is in Tierra Caliente, the hottest part of the mission. It sits below sea level. On the equator. Day and night at about 100 degrees with about the same humidity. It´s going to be fun. Will write more about that once I get there. I look forward to it. It will be hard to leave Zipa, it´s my first area and all, but I will go where I am needed. And that is Barrancabermeja. Well, hasta luego.

-Elder Rallison

PS-For some reason I´ve also been a little under the weather the past couple of days, but am feeling much better now.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The dispatch of the week

Yeah, I have my notes. It says...flores, templo en spanish, intercambios, conferencias.

To start, if you have a bouquet of flowers in your house right now, chances are it's from here in Colombia. Most of the world's flowers are grown here in Colombia. It is hard not to laugh when you contact a big old guy and he says he works in flower growing. But it's true. A lot of people here do it. This is one thing I learned a lot more about than I ever thought I would. You have no idea what goes into making that bouquet. All the growing, pruning, cutting, processing, inspections, packing, etc. It's a lot.

Next, we had intercambios with the zone leaders in Granada this past week. My companion for the day, Elder Cepeda, is going home to Chile in a week. He was awesome. We had the chance to go to the temple for the sealing of the first family that he baptized here in Colombia. I have discovered that is as much a special experience in any language, just a little harder in Spanish. But the Spirit can speak all languages, so it was all good.

Not much more time to write, love you all, and you're in my prayers.
Con mucho cariño,
Elder Rallison

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Colombian nights, like Colombian days

So, this week it will be short. Why? Well, there was a lot of news, but I lost my notes of the past week´s events.

One highlight was an epic zone conference where President Hacking gave a great presentation about making goals. He showed us some hilarious slides about goals. One of my favorites was of Scrat, the little sabertoothed squirrel from "Ice Age". In the slide he is frozen solid reackign for an acorn that is always just out of his grasp. It is easy to feel like this at times with our goals. So, he chalenged us to make our goals SMART. Well, is spanish it isn't exactly SMART, but the same idea. Simple, Measureable, Attainable, R.....(que vaina, I don't remember R..), and Timed. Also, one awesome quote from the CCM that kept coming to mind. "If you can concive and belive, you can achive". In his presentation Pres Hacking used another eqaully profound. "If a man knows not which port, then any wind will do." <--That was as good of an English translation I can make.

Other cool stuff this week.... I got to help dedicate the grave of the brother of one of the members here in Zipa. That was a different experience. The things you learn in the mission. For example, how to cook bannana. Or how to walk really really fast (a skill that is utilized when you are running late getting home, which just so happens to be on the other side of town).

Had a few ups and downs. We had two baptisms scheduled for this Saturday, but then had them fall through. But then, at the time that we were going to have the baptism we instead had a lesson were we obatined baptismal dates for all of Mirella's family (a family of five). This is the noramal ups and downs of missionary work. It is the most difficult thing at times, but others, it is something that I wouldn't trade for the world.

That's pretty much it for now. The next time I'm going to take better notes, so I can actually write a better account of my doings. But for now, I leave you with the fondest of farewells, Bye.

Les quiero.

Elder Rallison

Monday, June 21, 2010

And it all just keeps rushing by

Well, as I was notified by my companion, this past week I hit my 4 month mark. I can hardly believe it. It doesn't feel like four months. But it's true. And in another week and a half, I'll have been here in Colombia for 2 months. To me, that's crazy. I've learned a lot in the past weeks, for example, I can now actually communicate with my companion and the investigators. Yeah, there are still times when I need someone to help explain something to me, but those times are getting rarer and rarer.

I'm loving Colombia so much right now. Yesterday it was 60 degrees out (in Fahrenheit) and raining all day. In June. Yeah, that's one of the side effects of living in a rain forest at almost 9000 ft. There's a mountain on the eastern side of town, and yesterday, it looked exactly like something out of the opening scene of the movie Avatar. Tall, green trees with thick clouds woven into the scene. It was really cool looking. The next time I'll have to get a picture.

We have been busy this past week. We taught Daisy, a thirty-something lady who has two kids, one of which has 9 years. They both are getting baptized this Saturday. We are also working on getting Adriana married to her less-active member novio. Other than that necessity, she is golden. She'll listen to the lesson and then self-apply it to herself and then self-commit. That is cool. Now the only wrestle is getting her papers from Barranquilla, the coastal city where she was born. Which also happens to be in another mission. But the said papers are a necessity to make the marriage official. Such is life. We also have had a lot of fun with Mirella. She has five kids living at home, three girls and two boys. Yesterday we got to play relationship counselor again, this time with her and one of her daughters. The standard teenager and parent, but to a greater degree than I've seen before. At times it's a lot harder than you'd think, because both sides are trying their hardest to get you to side with them. Such a pain, but the end result is worth it. All of the above listed people came to church on Sunday. That is the real fight, so happy day with that one.

We had a hard time this past week trying to contact people, because along with the Mundial there was also the Election Debates. So, almost no one had time to meet with us. But now, the elections are over and hopefully people will be more open to listening to us.

I love the chance I've been given to serve here and help to make a difference in the lives of these people here in Colombia. It's been hard, but those happy moments make it all worthwhile.

Love you all,
Elder Rallison

Monday, June 14, 2010

Hey!.....nada.

Hola mi famila!!!!
Pues, este semmana fue muy chevre. We had some great lessons and a lot of opportunities to talk with people. Some better than others. For example, we had one lesson where we were teaching about keeping the sabbath day holy and the investigator offered us coffee. We, of course, turned it down, but that started us talking about the word of wisdom and ended with her telling us that she has a major coffee addiction. Like a cup or two every two hours. Yeah.... But on the bright side, she came to church on Sunday and said afterwards that she felt better than she´s felt in a long time. So we´ll see how that goes. On the other hand, we had a wedding scheduled, but now we are going to have to change the date. Why? Because that´s the day that Brazil and Portugal are playing in the World Cup. Yeah, for a soccer game. The World Cup is making it a little difficult to work here at times. It´s like Superbowl Sunday in the states but one that continues for a whole month. Yeah, that´s great. but on the upside, the underdog, USA, managed to pull of a tie with England, one of the top ranked teams. So currently, my allegiance lies between England, Germany, USA, or Brazil. I´m still not sure which I want to go with.

In other news, the weirdest thing ever happened this past Sunday. So, my companion and I were late to sacrament meeting this Sunday because we were out rounding up our investigators. We went straight from that to gospel principles and had a great lesson on the offices of the priesthood. Then we had to take one of the investigators home and were late to priesthood. Well, there was something a little different about elders quorum this Sunday. There was a gringo in the class!!! For me, this was a shocker. He spoke perfect Colombian Spanish and actively participated in the lesson, but had an American accent. After priesthood I started talking to the guy. Turns out he´s from Arizona!!! Yep, Arizona. Avondale in fact. How crazy is that. He was a missionary here in Zipa about 20 years ago, back when it was the Colombia Bogota mission. He is her in town visiting with his family, all of which speak fairly fluent Spanish's. I think his name was brother Tobler, but I´m not sure. But yeah, that was crazy weird. You don´t expect to meet another gringo from Arizona here in Zipaquira. Oh and even better, my companion and I have lunch with the family tomorrow. Really cool. Oh and guess what, he gave me kool-aid and a bag of gummy worms. Yeah, I´m in heaven. =D

I´d like close with two short messages. First, I have discovered that there a lot of different types of people in the world, and all of them have different needs. But, despite all the differences, the gospel message still applies to each of them in a highly individual way. Second, feed the missionaries in your area. Please. They work hard and deserve some love, and what is a better way to demonstrate that love for them than by feeding them a nice home cooked meal. That is all for now. Saludes de mi compañero.

Hasta luego,

Elder Rallison

Monday, June 7, 2010

This Day

Hola a todos!!!

Well, this week has been awesome!!!

To begin,I want to share a sampling of Colombian cuisine. All-the-chicken chicken noodle soup. Breast, wings, feet, neck, etc., you get the idea. That was lunch today. There's not really that much meet on the feet, mostly just skin. Also, another delicacy, ear of cow. This dish is good served with beans and rice. A little chewy around the cartilage, but overall an interesting choice for any meal.

So, to continue with the rest of the letter. I have discovered this week that there's a lot more to being a missionary than just teaching. You also get to be a relationship/marriage counselor, mover, cook, maid, and many more. The marriage counselor was probably my favorite one. We have a couple who we have slated for marriage in two weeks. Lately, they've been having nit picky type problems and were getting the idea that marriage isn't a good idea. Come on people, you've been living together for years and have three kids. So, my companion and I came in and helped them to work out some of their problems. Yeah, it's fun being the mediator for that sort of thing.

Also, I have lately noticed that as a missionary, you see things in the Scriptures that you have never seen before. Scripture study proceeds very slowly because every verse takes on a whole new meaning and significance. The power of the scriptures is becoming more and more evident to me every day.

I have also really developed a love of service, especially that of a spontaneous sort. There are always opportunities to serve those around you, you just need to look. Helping someone carry their groceries, clean their store, sweep the porch, wash the dishes, even just a smile and a 'buenos tardes' can make someone's day. We've found a family of great investigators simply because we helped them carry their groceries.

To close, I want to share a little of my favorite conference talks, it's called "This Day" by Pres Eyring in I think spring of '07. I love this talk because it talks about the importance of not being complacent and doing what you need to today. He gives two promises. One, that if we do our best today to serve the Lord, hard as today might be, tomorrow will be better. Also, that as we serve we will grow to love Him more.
I know that this is true. I have seen it.

Love you all,

Elder Rallison

Monday, May 31, 2010

There is light in the dark

So,
Another week gone. I can't believe how fast it is all flying by. Man have we ever been busy. This past week, on Thursday, I had an intercambio with one of the zone leaders in his area in northern Bogota. Had a great time, one definite plus being that he was a gringo. As such, I actually understood what all was going on. So nice. We taught this one investigator who was better than gold. He would go and self apply each of the principles to himself as we taught then to him. He has one of the strongest testimonies I have ever seen. It was pretty sweet. While in this cambio, we stopped by a member's house for lunch. She is homeschooling her kids, a thing that is nearly unheard of here in Colombia.
At the end of that cambio, I felt that this work can be fun. That I can actually contribute to someone coming unto Christ.

Once I got back, it was straight back to work here in Zipa. We taught this one family whom we've been working with for awhile and challenged the two who were there to baptism. And, after several questions, they accepted. Next, we taught a couple who are living "en libre". Essentially, they need to get married. So we set a date in about a month, and they said yes. So exciting seeing people decide to change their lives for the better and act on what we are teaching them. And, one of the best parts. This week at church we had seven investigators! I don't know about other missions, but here that's one of the hardest parts, getting the investigators to come to church. But lo and behold, they came.

I love it here and don't want to leave. Yeah, there are hard parts. Those investigators that break your heart and don't progress. But the highs beat out the lows. Every time. Satan fights hard, him and all his angels. But we, with His angels and Spirit at our side, fight harder. Good and God will always prevail. Always.

Love you all lots, and wish you the best through all you trials, whatever they may be.
Be strong and be of good courage.

-Elder Rallison

P.S. It was election day in Colombia yesterday. There were people everywhere. But, due to how people can get at times, we were asked to be inside by 4. Yep.

Oh and the Mundial (World Cup) starts soon. That's it.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

And it´s raining. Again.

Entonces.

Hola a todas,

So, today I´m going to write a bit more about my area. Zipa is really high up here, I think it´s about 2700 meters. Yeah, a bit of a difference for me. I was playing some soccer with the district today for P-day, and man, I was winded so fast. That and I was playing with a Preuvian and Chileno. Yeah, I got trounced. The weather he is a lot like in northwesten Orgen in early may. Rain, fog, lots of green, yep pretty much exactly the same. And, it´s not going to change. Here in Colombia, there are no seasons. The weather last week will be the same weather that you had last week. Now take Spanish arcitecture and a good deal of age and you have the older, central part of Zipa. Next, mix a little of Guadalupe, AZ with the appearace of English townhouses. There you have the rest of the town. It´s really sweet.

A few of the cool things here in Zipa/Colombia. Everything here delivers. Everything. By motorcycle. Food (pollo broaster, chino), groceries, colthes, even laundry machines. Yeah, you can rent a laundry machine here for 5000 pesos for four hours. They deliver it to your house and hook it up to the connections and you do your laundry. How sweet is that. Que mas....Ah yes, all of the people who ride motorcycles (and thats just about everyone) wears a bright orange or yellow vest with their liscence plate number on it. Look it up online, it is really quite a fashion statement, especially in Bogota when you see a man in a suit and all driving his bike to work. With grcery shoppìng, that can get a little intresting. All the stores here are very umm....specific. At one store you can by meats. Another, chicken and eggs. Another sells just bread. Another is more like a gas station type wares. Another will have just paper, pens, etc. Another home wares. It´s kind of funny. The idea of the American supermarket has started to catch on, so well see what happens. Last, if you have run out of minutes or don´t own a cell phone, don´t despair, everywhere, alomost every ten meters, there´s someone selling minutes of usage on their cell phone. Usually pretty cheep too, 150 or 200 pesos. A lot cheeper than a pay phone back home.

This past week has been very busy as far a misionary work goes. We taught a heep of lessons and contacted almost 100 people. Add in all the walking, and yeah, the days are just packed. The Spirit follows us around too. Last night we did a FHE with a family of investigators. Elder Mullisaca made a traditional Peruvian dish that consisted of meat and potaotes with a cilantro sauce. Was pretty tasty stuff. After, we watched Finding Faith in Christ and bore our testimonies. The family is muy chevre and I hope that they continue to grow in the gospel. About half of them have read the Book of Mormon and one even came to church this past Sunday. We have an appointment with them tomorrow. So excited for that.

To end, sé que Jesucristo es mi Salvador y mi Redentor y que vive. Sé que José Smith fue un profeta de Dios y que mediante el poder de Dios, tradujó el Libro de Mormon. Sé que este libro es verdadero y que el Evangelio restaurado, con el mismo autoridad y organización de el Iglesia organizado por Cristo, es verdadero.

Les quiero,
-Elder Rallison

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Another week in Zipa (a day late) and my first baptism

Hola todos!!!

So this week has been totally ups and downs. Up, we had our first baptism this past Saturday. It was sweet, her name is Fernanda. She was baptized by one of the members of the ward here. It was really sweet, she was so ready. Problem was, we weren´t. We hurried and got our district leader down here on Thursday night to interview her and she passed with flying colors. Problem was, she wanted to be baptized the same weekend. Well, she only could be baptized then, either that or wait for like three weeks due to work. So we went ahead with it. The day came and we arrived at the chapel an an hour before to start filling the font, problem was, there wasn´t much water pressure.


We left that running and went to pick up Fernanda and the baptismal clothing which for whatever reason was at our house and we had forgotten to grab on our way out. On the way, my comp was calling up every member of the branch we had in our phone to attend (something we had forgotten to do earlier). Fernanda arrived a little late to the meeting spot and was, as luck would have it, sick as a dog. But she still wanted to go forward with it. So we did. We arrived at the chapel a little late (15 min after the proposed starting time) but got it going with the few members (about 8) who were there. Time for the actual baptism came and lo and behold, there was probably only a foot and a half of water in the font. Like seriously, the water didn´t even come up to the brother´s knees. But somehow, after some finagling, he was able to get her completely submerged. After, the RS pres was supposed to give the welcome, but couldn´t make it, so one of the other sisters did. Bore a couple of testimonies. Gave her a priesthood blessing for her ailment. And that was it. My first baptism. It was a hectic mess, but the Spirit was there.


As a postscriptum to the above, Fernanda didn´t make it to sacrament meeting the next day because she was in the emergency room. She got some medicine though, and was able to make it to Sunday school. Downside, she didn´t yet get confirmed and we will now have to wait until next week to do it. =(

Aside from that awesome, yet hectic mess, life has been good. We have been doing a ton of contacting (over a hundred last week) and now have a couple of progressing investigators. One is Paula, she is a friend of Fernanda and actually came to church this past Sunday and ended up staying for all three hours. She has had the first lesson and is reading the Book of Mormon. We have an appointment with her tonight to follow up. She seems pretty golden right now. The other is familia Rodriguez. They are awesome. The husband, Cesar, always has a ton of questions, but understands everything really quickly. The wife, Gloria, on the first visit told us the she was Catholic and intended to stay that way. But she has softened towards us a lot lately. Both are reading the Book of Mormon and she already knows it is true. So we´ll see. They have two daughters who are in their older teens, both of which are somewhat interested in a teenage sort of way. You know, that sort of feigned indifference.

The sentiment of Gloria is a common one here. Almost everyone here is Catholic. You can see it everywhere. You´ll get on a bus (as we did this morning for district meeting) and there will be a rosary hanging from the rear view mirror. Walk down the street and there will be a Virgin Mary shrine on a street corner. You can see the cathedral in the town square from five cuadras away. Just a little different. Though mostly, the Catholic thing is more culturally based than an actually belief. Many of them will outright say that they are "following in the beliefs of their fathers". Ah well. Such is life

No more time to talk, must be going. After all, there's a message that needs sharing.

Les quiero,
-Elder Rallison

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Finally in Colombia!

So, I´m actually in Colombia! It is really cool here. I love it. The language is difficult, but what do you expect, it´s a new language. Such things shall not just happen overnight.


Where to start. I arrived here late Monday night and spent the night at the temple hotel. Yeah, there´s a hotel right across the street from the temple. The next day we went to the President´s house for orientation. We ate a breakfast of German pancakes and Colombian hot chocolate. It´s a little different from the hot chocolate back home. It is made by taking this semi-sweetish chocolate and melting it in milk. Me gusta. We had the run down from the Assistants while President Hacking interviewed the four of us. After that we had lunch of a traditional Colombian fashion, a soup, I can´t remember the name of , but it was made with potatoes and had a half an ear of corn in it. It was really good and is eaten with rice and avocado. We also had some juice and some fruit- both of which were amazing. There are so many fruits down here, most of which don´t even have names in English. All are very tasty in my opinion. Other than the fruits and the soups, Colombia also has some really good breads. There are panderias everywhere and most places you can buy a piece of bread to munch on for about 300 pesos. Not quite sure what that is in American currency, but the exchange is roughly 2000 pesos to a dollar. Most of the time though, when we have lunch with the members, we eat beans and rice with some form of meat.


My first area I´ve been assigned is Zipaquirá Colombia. It´s on the outskirts of Bogota and is apparently really old. It is really nice as far a weather goes. It´s kind of scary crossing the street though. There are laws, but no one cares and they´re not enforced. The general idea is to drive as fast as you can without hitting anything. Lanes are never really used and horns are used as a from of constant communication. The verdict is still out on whether it is better to cross on a red or a green. Ah well, that´s life.

My companion is muy chevre. His name is Elder Mullisaca and he is from Arequipa Peru. He doesn´t know much English at all, so it´s kind of forcing my Spanish learning into overdrive. He has 16 months in the mission and will die (finish his mission) in December. I´m his first trainee and as far as I can tell, he is doing really well. I can´t understand half of what he´s saying, but I guess that´s to be expected when I´ve only been here for a week. He was transferred here the same time I was, so both of us are still getting to know the area.

We haven´t had any investigators yet, so lately we´ve been doing a lot of contacting. Everyone is out and about here, so that´s really not that hard. I´m not doing that much yet, mostly just bearing my testimony and handing them a pamphlet. Ah well, everyone has to start somewhere. And, when you´re at bottom, the only way to go is up. We´ve also been doing a lot of getting to know the members in the area. The church isn´t really big here, just a small branch. But Elder Mullisaca and I plan to change that.

Had my first zone conference this past Wednesday, fun experience. I got to learn how to play the organ. It´s not to different from a piano, just more buttons, pedals, and two keyboards. And so I played the prelude and hymns for the meeting. The meeting was great, the assistants talked about effectively using PMG, Hna Hacking about obedience, and Pres Hacking about the importance unity in the mission, especially in the companionship. I didn´t understand much as it was all in Spanish. There are only about 30 other gringos in the mission with the other 100 consisting of latinos. I will never have a gringo companion. But ah well.

That´s about it for now, will write more next week.

Love you all,
-Elder Rallison

Elder Rallison

Yeah! Gabe has arrived. He sounded well, but tired, when we spoke to him on Monday, May 3rd. Below is the note we got from the wife of his mission president and a picture of the group of missionaries. The other three missionaries he met in Atlanta while awaiting his flight to Colombia. He didn’t know they would be there heading to Colombia at the same time. Apparently, he didn’t know about them in the MTC, because by the time he arrived, they’d already been reassigned to stateside missions while awaiting their visas. Some had to wait three months, so he was blessed to get his visa so quickly. Thanks for your prayers. They clearly are working. The adventure begins….
___________

Dear Brother and Sister Rallison, President Hacking and I are very pleased to have your son here in Colombia serving with us. Colombia is a beautiful country and the people are very friendly. We want you to know that the Colombia of ten years ago is not the Colombia of today. We know you will love hearing your sons wonderful experiences while he serves, and we will be praying for him just as you will be. We have a mission blog if you would like to see mission photos on. www.hermanapatrona.blogspot.com. If you have questions feel free to send us an email. We are sending our wishes for a Very Happy Mother's Day. Your son has permission to call home. Sincerely, Hermana Hacking.


From Left to Right, back row, Elder McClair from Virginia, Elder Rallison from Arizona, Elder Benson from Oregon, and Elder Hathaway from Utah. Front row, Presidente (President) Hacking and Hermana (Sister) Hacking. This is the last group of North American missionaries to finally get their visas. Three of them waited almost three months, and the fourth one (Gabe) only had to wait one week

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Gabe finally got his visa!!!

Gabe called today from the MTC to say that he got his visa and is leaving on Monday, May 3rd to fly to Bogota, Columbia. He travels through Atlanta and will call home while in the Atlanta airport. He is scheduled to arrive in Bogota at 8:50 p.m. on Monday. Bogota is on eastern daylight time. Thanks for all your prayers on his behalf.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Well... another MTC week. And no visa. But I did get an Apostle.

¡Hola mi familia!

I am having a good time here all things considered. I´m still waiting on my visa. No new news, but as the old adage says, no news is good news. So, I will continue to wait with baited breath.

So, last night was the MTC devotional. My district was betting on an apostle, so we went an hour early to get good seats. A security guard came out and asked if anyone wanted to be ushers for the night. We promptly volunteered. We were lead around to the front and given little pins and then told to put our stuff on our seats. See, as ushers we got reserved seats right up front. Twas a sweet deal. I then got to help people find seats and make sure that they didn't have any backpacks or cameras. Then, about 5 minutes before the start of the devotional, everyone stands up. I watch as Elder L Tom Perry walks up onto the stand. Then, we are told to now take our seats, and I sit down no more than 20 feet away from him. So cool. We had an amazing musical number , a cello/piano piece. Don't remember what it was called, but it was muy bella. I loved his talk too. He shared his testimony of the converting power of the Book of Mormon and a story of when he met a man who told him a story of when he was young and had Martin Harris testify to him that the Book of Mormon is true and that Joseph Smith is a true prophet. That he held the plates and had an angel testify to him of the veracity of the work. This work is true, and I'm so excited to be a part of it. At the end, as he walked out, he passed like, within three feet of me. I could have touched him, he was so close. Really an awesome experience.

This past Monday, we had a marathon. During two hours, we contacted ten people in Spanish, taught the first lesson, passed off eight scriptures in Spanish, read 20 min in Spanish, and mastered one grammar principle on the computer and watched a conference talk in Spanish while reading along. It was awesome. Never had two hours go by so fast in my life.

Lately we've been playing sports outside because the weather's been so nice here. It is giving me some killer hayfever, but nothing beats getting out for an hour of beach volleyball.

Lastly, today marks the start of my 11th week here at the MTC. It has been long, but I've learned a valuable lesson. That of patience. I can't wait to get to Colombia, but I can. I have learned to keep working hard, despite not knowing when my efforts will come to fruition. It's like my own personal second coming. I know not when it will come, but I must prepare myself as best I can.

Have patience in all things.

Love you all,
-Elder Gabriel Rallison

Thursday, April 22, 2010

And an unexpected week from the MTC

Hola mi familia,
So, here is "hopefully" my last email from the MTC. I haven't yet received word that my visa is here, but I'm hopeful that tonight will be it. My last companion, Elder Ragusa, shipped out for Ecuador on Monday so I've been hanging with the younger district for the past little while. My new companion, Elder Torbenson is a beast at volleyball and is a really cool guy to study with. I'm enjoying the opportunity to better prepare myself to serve the people of Colombia. I can't wait to get out, don't get me wrong, but being held back isn't to terrible. I'm enduring it well. I can't wait to get to the mission. But when it comes it comes.
We had a great devotional last night about becoming true disciple of Christ. It was really good and I got a lot of really good stuff out of it. First, the only thing we have to give the Lord is our own will, our agency. Everything else is already his. Second, if we can conceive it and believe it, we can achieve it. This is so true of a mission. If you believe that you can't, that there's no way you can talk to that person, no way you can learn the language, no way you can be fully obedient to mission rules, then you can't. But if you believe in yourself and in the Lord, you can do anything. That simple. Third, when you pray make sure you remember Who you are praying to. Don't let your mind orbit the word several times before you even make it halfway through your prayer. Show some respect. Get down on your knees, focus, and speak to your Father. Give as much effort speaking to Him as you want Him to give in responding. Lastly, he said tat "As a disciple of Christ I am ______________________." Fill in the blank. Also, "As a disciple of Christ, I am not __________________." Do the same there. Find what needs your work and his help. It is really quite enlightening.
I love you all very much and I know that your Father in Heaven loves you too and wants nothing but the best for each and every one of his children. I know that my Redeemer lives and that through his Atonement we can become clean from our mistakes and be able to return and live with our Father in Heaven. I know that the Gospel is true and I cannot wait to share it with the people of Colombia. I would counsel you to seek the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost and pay head to his counsel. Les quiero.
-Elder Rallison

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Last MTC P-day

Hola mi familia,

Buenos tardes del CCM por la ultima vez. Yep, this is the last email from the MTC. I am flying out early Tuesday morning for Colombia. I've got a layover in Georgia, so I'll try to call home while I'm there. Meanwhile, things here seem to be going faster and faster as the weeks go by. If the rest of my mission keeps going by at this rate, my mission will be incredibly short. I love this opportunity that I have to serve and to spread the gospel. If ever there is anyone who is not sure if they should serve, let me tell you, so far it has been the greatest learning experience of my life. And I haven't even hit the field yet. Yeah, it's that good.

This past Friday my companion was playing volleyball and hurt his ankle. At first they thought it was broken. so we got to leave the MTC and go to the BYU health clinic for X-rays. It was really wired being in the waiting room and watching all these people who weren't missionaries all around me. Then, when they found that it wasn't broken, but was in fact just a really bad sprain, they sent us back. So for the first three days my companion was limping around on crutches. Then, he had a couple of us give him a blessing. Now, he can walk around just fine (without crutches) and without much pain either.

Saw Elder (Hans) Larson at the temple on Sunday and talked to him for ahwile about the MTC, our respective languages, etc. Was really cool seeing him. He leaves in about two weeks.

Also, we had an awesome fireside on Sunday. It was a musical fireside by the BYU Men's Chourus. It was sweet. They were problably one of the best sets of singers I have heard in my life. They are also apparently the largest men's choral group in the USA, probably the world. The musical fireside was amazing. They sang several hymns, several psalms, a Native American creation song, several African-American worship songs, etc. All songs were arranged in the coolest manner possible. Seriously, look them up on iTunes or something. Check it out. It's some good stuff.

I love this gospel. I love the peace and guidance that I brings to me and to those around me. I look and see hundreds of men and women everyday who have had their lives touched by this gospel and want to share this light with the world. This work is amazing and I am so happy that I am able to be a part of it. A couple days ago I got a letter from Mom about being grateful. It really touched me and, after I prayed, for the rest of the night I just felt giddy and happy. I was prancing around the room singing, "tengo gozo en mi alma hoy!!!". Such is the life of a missionary. Highest highs and lowest lows.

That's about it for now. Love you all lots!!!
-Elder Rallison

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Conference was awesome!!!

Mi familia,

The title says it all. Conference was amazing. I think that this was by far one of the best conference experiences that I've ever had. It really didn't seem like I spent 10 hours in a suit sitting on a hard plastic chair. It seemed like it was only 10 minutes long and left me wanting so much more. I think my favorite was President Uchdorf's talk on Sunday morning about hands that help. We need to commit to be that person who is there to lift those around us, we need to be His hands, do what he would do if here were here now. That is our responsibility as members of this church. Also, really cool with the new Duty to God stuff. I'm sure Dad, Eli, and soon to be Jonah (yikes), will all love it very much. Can't wait to hear the full details on it.

I also loved how there was such a focus on family this conference. I am thankful for the help that you all gave me in my life, for how you gave me a testimony of the gospel. Good job with all you did. I love how well you nailed Elder Perry's counsel to "teach children in the home". Homeschooling, epic win. I owe so much to you for the help and advice you gave me in times of need, and the support and encouragement in all my endeavors. Keep up the good work. Testify of your knowledge of the gospel to your children, do it spontaneously and do it often. As missionaries, we are challenged to contact those we come across. I challenge you to contact your children. Know their concerns, know their desires. I love you all so very much and this conference has helped me to realize how my much my life has been blessed by you.

In other news, guess what I'm going to get tomorrow. If you guessed travel plans, than you get a gold star! I'm so excited to be heading to my mission. I'll let you know all the details in my next message. I have less than two weeks left here at the MTC, and then, to Colombia. ^_^ I love this opportunity to share the gospel and to spread the message of the restored gospel. I can't wait to go and invite others to come unto their Lord and Savior, Jesucristo. Sé que este evangelio es verdadero. Testifico que José Smith fue un profeta de Dios. Sé que el Libro de Mormón es verdadero. Sé que mediante el evangelio restaurado que familias vivan por eternidad.

Les quiero.

-Elder Rallison

--
John 14:27
PS. Yesterday was the 180th anniversary of the Church. :)