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 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!