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 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