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......"'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


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


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.