Monday, May 31, 2010

There is light in the dark

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.


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. 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.