Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

It's been a good year, hasn't it? Lots of progress, lots of new lessons learned, lots of challenges, lots of victories, lots of tears, lots of smiles, lots of misunderstanding, and lots of love. Yep, we have now reached that nostalgic part of the year...the end. That time when everyone thinks of what they've achieved and where they're going. Personally, I think I'm going well, still have a lot to go and all, but all said, I am happy with the progress that I have made and am making. That said, I still have a lot to go. So, in that spirit....Happy New Year!

This past week was pretty good. We had an awesome FHE with Jason and Carol along with a bunch of their neighbors. It was epic; there were about 15 people there. We taught about being obedient and obeying God's commands. We then played a game in which everyone had to follow the commands of "God". Each picked a piece of paper and had to do as written. Well, I had to bark and howl like a dog....and wouldn't you know it, I did it so good that the dog next door started barking back at me!

Christmas was fun. Here, Christmas is celebrated more like New Years, as in everyone stays up till midnight on Christmas Eve and then they shoot off fireworks! Also, the majority get way drunk and dance in the street. Yeah, not really my sort of Christmas. Though we did have a lot of fun stuff. On the 24th, we ate dinner with the Familia Cacua (tamales- a Colombian tradition) and we also went and grilled meat out on the balcony of our apartment (about ten pounds between six elders). I was so full when I went to bed. And on the 25th I got to call my family. I loved that. It was cool being able to see all you guys and talk to you face to face after so long. You are all so big now! And you all seem to have changed a lot.

Well, I am at a loss for words....as in I don't have anything more to say. So I'll just leave it at this.
Love you,
Elder (Gabe) Rallison

Monday, December 19, 2011

I Love December!!!!

First off, I would like to thank all of you for your birthday wishes. Thanks for remembering your long lost -friend, brother, son, grandson, etc- here in Colombia. Love you all!!! Yeah, so I'm now all old-ish and I can now legally buy beer and do stuff...yep, and this matters why? Well, nuf said, I am now 21!

This last week has been way busy. I also took a ton of photos, but, as my luck would have it, I forgot to bring my camera today, so tough luck, photos next week.

On Friday, Jason and Carolina got married! It was way cool, my third marriage so far here in Colombia. I think by the time I get back I'll be a pro at getting all the stuff done so....anyone need help getting hitched? =D Just kidding.

But really, it was a great wedding, and after we had a party in their house which was pretty much us (the missionaries) teaching about the basic beliefs of the church to all their neighbors and family!

It was cool, and I think we found two or three new families from that so even cooler. Oh and apart from teaching, there was also a three -tier cake, a ton of arroz con pollo (a common meal here), and soda.

On Saturday, we had a baptism! Of the same couple above mentioned, along with their daughter Silvia. After a few delays, such as lack of presiding authority, witnesses, people arriving late, etc, we finally did it. It was a great service, as I got to baptize Jason! We even got to sing a special musical number for them as part of it. "Aquí en ropa blanca estan....."...you get the idea.

And speaking of singing, Saturday and yesterday we went and sung as part of the choir of Bucaramanga. It was so awesome. Elder Bogdan (a 50% Peruvian, 50% Texan, 100% great singer) and I opened up singing a solo of "Come and Adore Him" with Elder Montero and Elder Belgara backing us up. Yeah, you heard. I sang.....the melody. I sang a tenor line.....I have seriously fallen from glory ( I ask for a solemn AMEN from the Ahw 1st ward bass section). Then, later, the gringos totally rocked with Burrito Sabanero. I'm working on getting a video of the whole thing to send your way cause really, my words don't do it all justice.

And, on top of all that, I gave a talk on Sunday. I think I must have forgotten that I had a talk assigned or maybe it was a cruel joke from bishop, but I heard my name announced as the first speaker so I got up and gave a highly improvised talk. I talked about...being the Christmas season, gifts. First about the earthly gifts, such as cars, guitars, socks, ties, etc (all of which are really cool,....well, not quite so much the socks) and then comparing those to the eternally important gifts that God has given us, like the his love, answers to prayers, scriptures, commandments, prophets, priesthood, the Holy Ghost to guide us, and, most of all, his Beloved Son to save us from eternal condemnation. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.". I echo the words of Pablo in 2 Cor 9:15, "Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift."

I wish you all a very merry Christmas!

Love you all,
Elder (Gabe) Rallison.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Oh Christmas Tree....


So when we went to go visit a family this past Monday, they were there putting up the Christmas tree and all. Well, as always we helped out and after taught a lesson of the true meaning of Christmas. That was cool and all. But then they asked if we knew of someone who could use an old tree, as they had bought a new one for this Christmas. Well.....I knew someone.....the Elders! Yep, we now have a decent tree in our house with lights that we had bought from the store right below us. I'll send pictures!!!

Here we have also been spending a large bit of time in choir practice. Yep, choir. We are doing a missionary choir with all the missionaries in the Terazas and Bucaramanga stakes. We will be singing several hymns along with one of my personal favorites....El Burrito Sabanero =D! With the gringos singing a solo part...we will see how that goes, and I'll try to send a video. But our choir director....more like a choir dictator. Hmm.

We continue preparing the family of Jason and Carol for baptism; they all passed the interview with flying colors this last Saturday, and we continue preparing them for everything. They really are just the perfect family. We are working with several other families as well but each has a few little things that need work. The problem here is that just about anyone listens to us, the problem lies with their commitments, such as going to church, reading the scriptures, praying, etc. Please continue praying for us, your prayers really do help us, a lot.

Love you all,
Elder (Gabe) Rallison

Monday, December 5, 2011

A Christmas Story

Well, how are you all ? Good?

Here in Colombia life is good. Very good.

So you all remember that family I told you about last week? They are getting married on the 16th and baptized the 17th. =D So cool. And they are really a great family. The dad, Jason, always has good questions, and Carol, his wife, keeps telling us that everything we explain makes perfect sense and that her only regret is not having been able to know about all this before. Cool right? I love it when we find those special people, those who are just ready for the gospel.

Apart from that, we had an awesome ward activity this last Saturday, put on by us, the missionaries. It was really something special. We got a hold of a projector, the bishop lent us his huge sound system, and we did a movie night with "The Christmas Carol". And they loved it. A ton of people came, even though it was raining really hard. The really ironic thing is that the next day when we went to the First Presidency Christmas devotional, President Monson talked about that same story. It was cool.

Um...not much more to say, but when I think of something I'll tell you.
-Elder Rallison

Monday, November 28, 2011

Cambios de nuevo....(from 10-26-11)

So, life is good here, all is well in Zion. Well, except for the fact that my Zion is changing. Yep, I'm getting transferred to Giron, a town near Bucaramanga. It should be cool, everyone says it's a great place. And not to mention that my companion is going to be amazing.

In Cucuta, we had an activity in the ward last Saturday, and it went well, except that we couldn't get a hold of the person that was going to lend us a projector. So in the end we had to use the TV from the chapel. It was okay though. All the people who went loved it, especially the games that we had.

I had an intercambio with Elder Stallings in Caobos. It started well, but when I was cooking arepas (kind of like Jhonny cake type of thing) when the oil that I was using got really hot and when I put the batter into the oil. Boom. Oil everywhere. I got some pretty nasty burns on my feet that made that whole day a little painful. But we did have some good moments. We helped a family move some 600 flooring tiles to the back of the house, while talking about the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith. Pretty durn sweet that.

Well, as a last note, I'm finally here in Giron. I got here last night after a 13 hour bus ride. Normally from Cucuta to Bucaramanga is about 6 hours, but the main road was closed because a part of the highway fell into the river due to a landslide. So they had to send me through Ocaña and then down to Giron. It was long and on a particularly windy road, but I did get here safe and sound, just a little tired.

Love you all,
Elder Gabe Rallison

Giron--elections, meetings other cool stuff. Yeah... (from 11-2-11)

Here there were elections on Sunday for the governor and mayor. It was pure craziness. Everyone who wants to vote has to vote before 4 and worse each person has an assigned place where they have to go to vote, the place where they got their state issued ID. Which means that here in Giron, half the city had to go down to Bucaramanga to vote (and in doing so missed church on Sunday). Worse yet, were the political peoples going everywhere offering lunch, a bag, a hat, a ride in a bus or a taxi.....in exchange for your vote. "Sir, I don't know if you realize this, but I'm not from around here..." "Oh,...so you can't vote?" "Uh, NO." It was kind of funny though.;) And I also gave a talk on Sunday, went well, I think. I hope. I wish. Yep...

So, aside from the normal...I have realized that my English is now pretty terrible, I tired to help a kid here with an English assignment and I just couldn´t. Like um.....No sé hablar inglés..... yeah, it was pretty sad stuff. I am actually really struggling to write well here and I don't think it is turning out very well.

Lately I've been really diving into the Book of Mormon. Just so you all know, that book is the best on the face of the planet earth. I love it and want to read it over and over again. I've been using every spare moment just to read it. I love it. It never gets old. And, I'm noticing that there's always something new, something I didn't notice before. If you have a moment right now pick up a copy, sit comfortably, and read it, starting from the beginning. "I Nefi, having been born of godly parents..." Do it. And then ask God if it is true. And you will know.

Love you,
Elder Rallison

The dispatch.... (from 11-21-11)

This past week was good. We have been working really hard and you know what God has rewarded us.
For example, we were contacting and we got a bunch of really good ones. For example, Daisy. Her husband was killed several months ago and she had some huge doubts that no one could answer about life after death. That is until we knocked on her door. She cried while we shared the plan of Salvation with her, then after we left the read (and re-read) the pamphlet that we left and prayed to know if it was true. And she got an answer. She now has a baptismal date for the 10th of December.

And speaking of answers, I was reading in the Book of Mormon, in Moroni 10, as part of my personal study the other day and I felt I should pray once again to ask if the book is true. And I got one of the most powerful answers of my life. I can't describe it exactly, but I felt it, and strongly. And kind of deep warmth.

We also had another investigator who invited us to lunch! And she made us lasagna! It was way tasty, and better yet, afterwards we taught her daughter Paola, whom we had never taught before, but who also accepted a date for the tenth of December!

My November Days

Wow, what a week.
So on Tuesday we went to help out the sister missionaries in Terazas. It was cool, they even got us lunch with the Notary from Bucaramanga, which was amazing. About a pound of lasagna each.Crazy right? But they (the sisters) assigned us a way ghetto part of their area. I also got to work that day with Elder Cornejo, which was cool, I hadn't seen the guy in quite a while. We taught several lessons, almost got mugged, and contacted a lot of people. If you want to know what that neighborhood was like, just look at Fast and Furious 5 (which I saw on the bus from Cucuta) at those neighborhoods built up the hill in Rio de Janero. That's an idea of what it is like.

Here's a great story. We got a reference from the missionaries in Sotomayor for a family that live a little far from us. Better said in the limit of our area. Tough right? So we took a bus got there, and looked them up. We taught a lesson, and invited them to get married. They said yes. WOW! We invited them to church. They said yes. We asked if we needed to come looking for them on Sunday. They said no, because they have a car! You need to understand, few people have cars here, and often use lack of transport as an excuse for not going to church. But they have a car. Perfect! And they came to church! They loved it. So much that they went and invited the in-laws to the lesson that afternoon! I love it when everything works out well. It makes me happy.

An explanation here. While we were visiting a member, he went showing off and pulled out an old pharmacy school uniform that he had lying around. I put it on and he's just "Wow, you really do look like a doctor! What can I say...it's in my blood.

So this week a lot of the people here have been getting out their Christmas decorations and putting them up. We actually got to help one family with their tree. It was pretty cool, but as you can see, this tree had a color scheme instead of the eccentric stylings of the arbol back home. But it was still fun.

Not much more to say, if I think of something,
I'll write next week.
Love you,
Gabe

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Rewind...stop.

Not much weird stuff to report, just the normal appointments.

We taught Juan again, it didn't go so well though, he kept going off on weird tangents.... what in the world do the customs of the Catholic priests in the 13th century have to do with Christ in the Americas? Alas, he did not accept a baptismal date, this time.

We also taught a lady named Mari. It was a little weird, because she was just way critical of everything we taught. So in the end it ended up being Alma and Amulek against Zeezrom. She says that she's sure she's right and that waht her pastor has told her is true. Like, for example, that resurrection is not true doctrine.....Umm...right....So my comp (Alma) shared the part where it talks about when Christ presented himself to his apostles after his resurrection. So she say "well, that's just because He's Christ!" Enter Amulek (yours truly). "That is true, to a point. He is Christ, and would you read Job's testimony of Him?" She reads "For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God. -Job 19:25-26". Amulek bears testimony of resurrection. Alma follows. Zeezrom sat there in silence. Looked at us. Looked at the Bible. Looked at us again. And then continued on with a different subject. Sweeeet. Power of the companionship!!!!

We tried to do an activity on Monday as it was a holiday here in Colombia. Was pretty much a bust. Six people came, no more, no less. But we did get to watch Charly with a projector so it was all good in the end.

So that was pretty much the highlights here. Lots of rain (again) though mostly at night. And we went to eat at McD's today as a zone activity, tasty, but expensive. Our propane canister just ran out so we have nothing to use to cook. I continue praying that my shirts will hold out until the end. It has been noted that my shirts are noticeably yellower (or better said less-white) than my companions). Apart from all that, things are good.

Love you all very much.

-Elder Gabe Rallison

PS:::Feliz Cumpleaños Jonas...13...ummm...yeah, when did that happen.
PSS:::Looky here (foto). Elder Rallison and comp as cartoony cats. =D Elder Holmes drew 'em.

That's a little strange...

So yeah, the other day I went to the corner store to buy a little bit of toilet paper. And well, we saw a three year old peeing in the street....an Elder Holmes said that it was the 39th he's seen so far in his mission...yeah...that would so not happen in the states....and btw, Holmes has just 6 months in the mission.

Apart from that beautiful detail, life has been going good. We have been working way hard and have found a bunch of great new people. One of my favorites has to be Juan. He's way cool and the first lesson he just went all out with some of the best comments and questions I have ever had from any investigator. He went and just explained the whole apostasy but in great detail.....wow. He is just a little confused as he has investigated a ton of churches....Catholic, Adventist, Jehovah's witness, christian, and more. But he did commit to read and pray, so it's all good.

Apart from that I went to Pamplona this past Friday to work with the missionaries there. It was way cold and (due to having played and lost a high-stakes UNO game) I got stuck sleeping on the floor. But it was good too. I got to spend a whole day with my "son" Elder Quiñonez. Remember him? He's an awesome guy and he just keeps getting better. He's changed a lot in the past few months...really, he's not even close to the same as when I was with him. I guess in the mission the same passes with all of us. President said that my own parents won't even recognize me when I get home. Hard to think about, but looking at myself I've really changed a lot. A little physically, a lot mentally, and an unmeasurable amount spiritually. Yeah, it's true. But it's okay, I'll send a picture so you recognize me in the airport.

The mission rocks.

Love ya all,
Elder Rallison

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

My week...

Has been pretty good. Really. My comp and I are trying to recover from about a week of lost work. It's going well, a little rough at times, but I think we can do it. We are looking for new investigators (if you know of any non-members in the Cucuta area, a referral would be very much appreciated). We are also working hard to get this ward working well and all...Wish us luck.

Loved conference!!! I learned a ton and really enjoyed a lot of talks. I don't have my notes with me, but a few that I loved were: the talk from Elder Cook that talked about the missionaries that almost went on the Titanic to return home, but didn't because one got there late (lol, Bro Farris, look, sometimes it's good to be late....jk =D). Also, I really enjoyed the talk from one seventy that talked about the importance of time. That time is a gift that God has given us and that he will ask for an accounting of every second that He has given us. And Elder Holland...wosh, he blows fire as he talks... but it helped me to focus on opening my mouth a bit more to share the gospel with one more person. Those are the big highlight that come to mind right now....except for one more thing. THEY ARE GOING TO BUILD ANOTHER TEMPLE IN COLOMBIA!!!!!!! IN BARRANQUILLA!!!!! It's not in my mission, but is going to be a huge blessing for the members here. For example from here (Cucuta) to Bogota is about 18 hours. To Barranquilla is about twelve. A big difference. So yeah, I'm happy with that.

We had a lesson the other day in a part of the area called Las Cumbres....a little dumpy, but cool. I could probably pitch a baseball from there and have it land in Venezuela...yeah, that close. I was so tired that day, having walked almost all of my massive area.

Today we had a lot of fun. We had a zone activity, in which we made Argentinean milanesa (pretty much chicken fried steak), with mashed potatoes and salad. I made gravy for the mashed potatoes, and everyone absolutely loved it! We also played football as a zone and in the morning had a zone study, in which everyone shared what they had learned....it was tight.

As always, tengo que ir,
Love you all,
Elder (Gabe) Rallison

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Rain, Rain and more rain

So the "winter" has now started. Here, that means a ton of rain, it has rained about every day this last week. One day (I think it was Thursday) it actually rained so hard that the streets were like rivers and it almost flooded the chapel. Yikes! But luckily it didn't. Yeah, that could have been ugly. I was very happy, I got soaked to the bone, which after a hot day, is the best thing ever.

The next day we also got a little wet helping a sister clean her reserve tank of water. It was way gross, with more plant life than water. So we drained the tank, and went to work with brushes all morning just fighting to clean the tank. It actually turned out pretty good, considering what it looked like before.

Yesterday we had zone conference with President Hacking. It was, as always a great experience. He talked a bit of the importance of obedience and of looking for people to invite to come unto Christ. I know that it is when we are obedient that God is on our side and guides us to those who are ready to come unto Him. We also learned about the import of planning and then going and doing it.

Apart from that giant list, I have been working. We have planned several new activities to find new people that we will be puting in action this coming week. We've been trying to work with the members as much as possible so that these poeple can join and grow, so that they can be firm and strong, forever. That is what I want. Lasting conversion, not just momentary triumph. That is the goal. I hope that is what happens with Victor and Hercilia. For life, and for all eternity.

Love you all,
Elder (Gabe) Rallison

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Love you!

This past week we've been keeping busy running around the center of Cucuta helping get the papers together to get a couple married. You would not believe the amount of papers and line waiting that is necessary just to get a couple married. It's like....one would think it would be simple. But it's not.....but at least now it's all set for Monday. We're good.

We also had interviews with President Hacking yesterday. Nothing new.... Just same old, same old.

I'm alive. I'm healthy, and....yeah, just working the best I can to help people get a move-on in life and in the eternity.

Love you all
Elder Rallison

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

.......Pamplona......

First, the work has been incredibly busy. We've been working with several families and we've seen some incredible progress. Victor came to church as well as the a new family. But on the downside, several others couldn't make it. =( But ah well...that happens. But, hey, know what, worse things have happened. For example, we now have a ward mission leader, so he should be able to help us get the work moving along here. We actually have a meeting with him here in a few minutes.
Yesterday we took a chance to go to Pamplona again. To contact!!!! Yep, eight of us from Cucuta went to Pamplona to find more people for them to teach. It was pure craziness with so many of us there in the bus. And worse yet when the bus driver put on "worldly" music. I think I now realize the reason why missionaries walk in pairs.....more become way too uncontrolled. But we finally got to Pamplona and we split up and got to work. My comp and I must have walked all of Pamplona, which isn't that big, just a lot of mountains and at a really high altitude. But we did it. We even made it to a Rio-ish Christ statue on a mountain. Oh and we also found some lambs and a mother sheep.She got a little angry when Elder Farias tried to touch her kids.... We contacted and also happened to enjoy cool weather (yeah, the best thing about Colombia is the variety of climates) as well as really good homemade-style bread. Good stuff. We left Cucuta for Pamplona at seven in the morning and we got back at nine at night. It was a day well spent.

Today we were occupied cleaning the house (President comes next week to inspect....time to clean...for the first time this month....just joking Mom), buying groceries (as we are the only missionaries in the zone that actually cook....) and doing all the other tasks around the house. We also went bowling in Villa del Rosario. It was cool, bowling just five minutes from the Venezuelan border. Let it be known....that I suck at bowling....52 points......wow..that was bad.....

Well, that's it! Wish I had more to say but that's all folks!
Love you all!
-Elder Gabe Rallison

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

That's Life

So to start I want to send a shout out to Elder Bowers, who has recently returned to the "real" world. You rock man, go and conquer the world. Also, happy birthday to Eli, who turns 15 today!

I have passed this past week reeeeaaaaly well. For one I went to the doctor for a weird rash on my back that seems to be the result of the change of climate and the amount of sweating that I have had here in Cucuta creates a beautiful climate back there......suffice to say, it's not pretty. But now I have a cream and stuff to make it better, so all good there.

This last Sunday, I had to go to Pamplona, a small town that is about two hours from Cucuta. The funky thing is that even though they aren't that far apart they are very different in climate. I was walking around Pamplona in a suit and I was still cold. Yeah....craziness.......Went there for a baptismal interview, she passed with flying colors. I don't think I've ever seen an investigator so prepared for baptism, she just shared a powerful testimony of everything I asked her. It was awesome.

So, that is pretty much it. For now....
Love ya all,
Elder Rallison

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Life, as normal.....yeah.

Everything is going well, not much to report though.

Here we've been working way hard and have been talking with just about everyone. From taxi drivers to cashiers to neighbors to construction workers. We've seen and talked with each at least once in this past week. So that's all good. Araceli is doing well and going strong, she even goes to all the activities, something that even some of the older members don't do. We've also been working with another investigator that wants to get baptized. The problem.....he was married, had been for twenty five years, but the woman he lives with is not his wife. He hadn't even seen his wife for twenty years (because she fought with him, cheated on him, etc.....you know the normal stuff). But, on the good side, he just finalized the divorce of the wife, so he can now get remarried and thus get baptized. Is it like this in the States too? Or is this just Colombia?

So yesterday my comp wanted to but a shirt of the soccer team of Cucuta, so we went and looked for it.....in three different malls. Them, we also had a zone activity...an asado (BBQ), the only problem? We couldn't get the grill lit! Yep, here we were about five gringos that had gone through Scouts (in fact all were Eagles)...and incapable of lighting a grill. That's just sad.....but in the end with the help of a bottle of medical sterilization alcohol (no we did not buy beer) and toilet paper we finally got the charcoal lit. Hurray! The meat was soon grilled and eaten, but we realized that due to delays we were gonna be late to play football! So we went running several blocks to the field to meet our "tee-off" time (well not exactly tee-off, this was soccer, not golf). When we finished we rushed home, into the shower and out to a family home evening that just so happened to be on the other side of our overly massive area. So yeah, our day of rest was just about anything but restful....ah well, there's always next week.

Not much more to say...
Except that I love you all!
-Elder Gabe Rallison

PS....I found Heinz 57 sauce! And it's cheep. I LOVE CUCUTA. =D

Monday, August 15, 2011

Yep. That's it

I've had quite a time lately.
On Saturday we had a major service project. We moved a couple tons (literally) of sand and another ton of stone about a hundred feet. It was hard, difficult, and very tiring. But, we got it done. It only took us about 6 hours of work to do it. We found cool looking lizard eggs while digging too.

Lately, we've had a bunch of transfers and all. They've opened a bunch of new areas here in the zone and know what...hey made me leader of a district that includes the zone leaders and a small town 2 hours away in bus. This is gonna be fun.... Also, Elder Holmes (who was in my district in Zipa) is now in my house. But in another district.....how does that work......

We also had zone conference this week (which is why I'm writing today) where a psychologist came and explained how we can relieve stress. Cool right? It just requires a lot of deep breathing. How's that? Feel better? After conference we ate huge hamburgers that were loaded with hamburger (no duh), chicken, bacon, grilled meat, etc...it was epic. Nuf said.

Well, I've gtg, so yah....
Love you all!
Elder (Gabe) Rallison

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

So....nutin'

It has been less than a week since I last wrote so I don't believe that there is much to say. Things are good here.

The reason why I'm writing now is because for transfers P-day is Monday this week. No, I'm not being transferred, I'm staying here!!! Which is good because I love Cucuta. My area is the best in the mission (look how humble I am....well that's what you get with an Argentinean comp).

We had a baptism on Saturday! And a stake talent show organized by the missionaries!
So Araceli got baptized!!!! =D The best ever, though member turnout for the baptism was poor, she was really touched by the Spirit during the ordinance. And later that night we had thew activity. The talents were really cool, and we were going to act....but there wasn't enough time. I was in the kitchen almost the whole time though. We were making Chilean empanadas.....300+ of 'em. I don't know if you realize exactly how long it takes to make all that, but I can say from experience that it takes several missionaries about a days worth of prep and four hours cooking. But they were way tasty and I am now an empanada making pro.

Apart from what I've shared there's nothing more to say. Except.....
Les quireo muchisimo.
Elder (Gabe) Rallison

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Things happen

The best and the worst happens here in the mission. We are pushed to the limit sometimes by all that happens.
For example, when you have great investigators that just seem to be the most ready for baptism, and then just fall right through. That happens. Then you find out that your camera broke for no reason whatsoever. Just turns on and says "lens error". The amount of dust here in Cucuta suspected cause. Happens too. You get to church and the air conditioning is burned out. That happens. You get sick for a day and have to go to the bathroom with diarrhea every twenty minutes. Sadly, it happens. Appointments fall though. Also happens. You find out your last bag of milk has gone sour. Happens. You get sunburned doing service projects. It happens. People straight up make fun of your most sacred beliefs. Yep, that happens. But you know what? IT DOESN'T MATTER.

Because people make huge changes in their lives. It happens. People feel the Spirit to the point that they accept a baptismal date just an hour after first meeting you. That happens. They get married after living together for two, or thirty years. Happens too. They make covenants with God. Also happens. They change from a life of vice to a life with Christ. Happens. People commit to making their family eternal. Happens as well. You look in the mirror and recognize that you are not the same, you are not the same person that came to Colombia. You're better. Hard to believe, but it happens.

Change always happens. There will always be challenges. There have always been, and there always will be ups and downs. These are mine from this past week. You could say that it's tough luck. But know what? I don't believe it. I believe that I am the luckiest man in the world. I love being here, yeah, it's hard at times, but it is worth it. Just so you know.

I love you all,
Elder Rallison

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Life in Cucuta

Entonces, habían muchísimas cosas esta semana....

To start, we has interviews with President. It's funny really, when I was new in the mission I was so scared of interviews, of having to face the big man. But now, well, I still have a lot of respect for President Hacking, but I'm not scared like before. It was good though. We also had a great zone conference where we watched a talk that Elder Holland gave in the MTC. It was powerful. It talked mainly about our duty as missionaries to feed the sheep of the Lord according to their needs. En si, that was the focus of the whole conference, teaching the people according to their needs.

Lately, we've been here trying to put that in practice here in Aeropuerto. We're working with a lot of people here. Arceli for one is a tough, but good investigator. She is progressing quickly, but is having a few problems remembering. That's the real difficulty with her, she just can't remember things very well. For example, we had to explain the Joseph Smith story about five times before she could tell us who he was. But it's okay, she's almost ready....she's getting baptized next weekend =D. We've also got two other who are going to get baptized with her, but please, pray for them....and for us.

We have also been enjoying the wonder upsides of a border town. For example, as everything is cheaper in Venezuela, everyone brings stuff over and sells it dirt cheap. And, also very cool, despite gringo-hating Chavez, Venezuela is more Americanized than Colombia. What does that mean for me? It means that here I can get a hold of Heinz ketchup, Kraft mayonnaise, Bisquick, and more. I have even heard from the members that it is even possible to find root beer. I am in heaven. I must tell you, Colombia is cool, but the Colombian ketchup sucks. I am now happily using Heinz on my eggs in the mornings. They even bring gasoline over the border and sell it in the streets for 3.500 pesos (about 2 dollars at current exchange rates) a gallon (4 liters, a bit bigger gallon). If only gas was so cheap in the states....


Today being the 20th of July, the Colombian Independence day, we went and saw the military parade because one of our investigators in in the police. It was cool as evidenced in the fotos.

Well, I gtg, so....bye!
Love y'all,
Elder (Gabe) Rallison

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Wosh....just read to find out.....

So this past week has been crazy. I 've been really busy. We've kept on working with Yesid, you know, helping him get ready for baptism. He's really going to be so ready to get baptised, he even came to church in a suit this past Sunday. Sweet. He has his interview this saturday. =D

It was really crazy for a little while. See, we had to prepare for a zone activity on Monday. The idea is that all the missionaries worked in Zipa for a day, each one visiting five less actives in an assigned area. WE had to plan all that. For seven companionships. Crazy right. And better yet, our directory for the branch was and is way out of date. And we do not have a good map of the area. So, we spent about five hours in the church with the sectary planning all that. In all, I spent ten hours in the church on Sunday without ever leaving the building. We had to assist to all the normal meetings as well as two leadership meetings, we ate lunch there and after all that, the hours of planning.

Upon leaving the chapel, we were heading towards an appointment with Yesid when the phone rings. ....The zone leaders......... ME: Oh it's probably about the activity tomorrow......*answers*........hello?.........hola, Elder Rallison?................Hey elder, what's up?..................Good, hey elder, how much money do you have left?...........What? Why? Umm...150 mil pesos..........Sufficient, Elder, you've got a transfer...........WHAT? WHERE?............You are going to Cucuta, Area Areopuerto................OH MY GOSH.....................Elder...You have to be in the bus terminal in Bogota at 8 tomorrow morning......Go to your house now and pack you bags.......Chao. *hangs up* You have to understand, we just had transfers two weeks ago. This is one of those incredibly rare emergency transfers. So we went running to the house where we were frantically packing my bags, me trying to explain to my comp what the plan was for the Monday activity, and calling half the branch to tell them I was going. We finished everything at about 2 in the morning. We slept for three hours and off to the bus terminal.

We got to the terminal and I bought my ticket to Cucuta. The only bad thing being that the bus didn't leave until 11:30. So I had to sit there waiting, alone, for three hours until the bus finally got out of there. And for those who don't know, Cucuta is in the opposite extreme of the mission from Bogota. What does that mean for Elder Rallison. A 16 hour trip (seems more like eternity) in a bus. Ugly. I couldn't sleep a wink. But finally, I got to Cucuta a four in the morning. The zone leaders picked me up, I slept two hours in their house, and we went to district meeting (I am still with all my bags and everything) and I got put with my comp, an awesome kid named Elder Farias (funny as one of my friends is Spencer, now Elder, Farris). But my new comp is cool. He's funny, works hard, and loves doing it. He's a newbie (2 months) from Cordova, Argentina (where they are building the new temple).


Cucuta is awesome! It is border with Venezuela. Like really border. I can take a taxi and be there in 20 minutes. It's hot, though not as much as Barranca. The people are cool and just way open. We've been working really hard so far.


Yesterday we had to go to center Cucuta and pull get the papers together to marry a couple. We only had to visit three notarias to get all of it together! We are going to be a great companionship. I can just feel it. I'm going to like it here. I'll keep you updated and I'll have a more detailed description of all the glory of Cucuta next week.

Love you all,
Elder Rallison

PS: And yes, I am way tired......

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The weekly report

To start Viviana finally got confirmed and is now an official member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Yes, the deed is done! Also, that same day I got to give a talk on the confidence that we place in God. I realized that confidence in Him is very much the same as the faith we put in Him and in his promises. When we trust in Him, everything is possible (example Nephi....I will go and do. .....try.. ...fail... ...try.....fail... ....try... .BAM... .he ..did ...it!!!!!!!.....yeah ....God power ...sweet.....epic win). En fin, todo es possible con Dios, sin El, estamos pailas. Frigados. Con absolutamente nada. So simply put, trust in God.

So one of the main streets of Zipa, Avenida 15 just go revamped so this past Monday they had a huge ceremony to commemorate the event. It was crazy. Worse yet, we live just one block down from said street. What luck. So when we were heading out of the house there were about a thousand people riding bikes down the street. Two hours later, we met up with a group of about 100 motorcycles, not just the normal Colombian motos, by the big Harleys. Then, even later about a hundred taxis. Later about a hundred horses. And better just all were decorated with streamers of red, white, and green, the colors of Zipaquira. And if that weren't enough, when we got home they had a concert and at about 11 at night shot of a ton of fireworks. And of course we live just three blocks from the stage that they had set up. Craziness. And all for some four lane street. It is the biggest in Zipa, but it is about as big as 48th street.....though that may be pushing it.

Also, crazy thing happened yesterday. We went to have lunch with a recent convert named Yesid. His Mom has never wanted anything to do with us. Is part of some Christan church that doesn't think we are Christan and that we have replaced the Bible with the Book of Mormon. Well, when we went to lunch she was downright friendly. She talked to us, listened to us, she even watched the Restoration movie with us! Apparently she had a bit of a falling out with her pastor and now has experienced a complete change of heart. Cool stuff right? Yeah, she is so getting baptized.

Another investigator that we have is Yesid (yeah, the other one, the first is Gomez, this one is Sanchez). He is way cool and way ready for all this. He is preping for baptism on the 16 of June. He decided, on his own to quit smoking and now has gone almost two weeks without smoking. We helped him and his wife, Nereida, to move house this last week. Went well, though I tore up my hand scrubbing a couch clean. But it is clean. Nothing else matters. =D.

Got to go, but just so you all know (in case you didn't yet),
I love you.
Elder Rallison

Onward, ever onward

So this week we've had transfers. I'm still here in Zipa, but with a new companion, Elder Miranda from Guayaquil, Ecuador. Yeah, he's cool. So yesterday I spent all day in Bogota waiting for him and playing Monopoly Deal with the other missionaries in the zone. Yep, that's how it goes with transfers.

Just so you all know, Viviana just got baptized!!!! Yep, she got baptized Monday afternoon and she's going to be confirmed this Sunday in church. I am just psyched for her. Here in the mission there is nothing cooler than when one of you investigators "takes the plunge". Yep, it's cool stuff. The other cool things are the new people we've found. They're great too! We've got one of them, Yesith, preparing for baptism in three weeks! Wish us luck with him and more than anything, keep praying for us. We need it.

On this past Thursday we had an awesome ward activity where we had a ton of games from bobbing for apples to an egg walk. In the activity one of the brothers of the branch was laughing so hard that he fell to the floor and couldn't get up he was laughing so hard. Also we discovered that the commonly accepted idea that girls have a better sense of balance than boys is FALSE. In the egg walk (the spoon in the mouth with an egg on the spoon) the boys didn't drop even one, but the girls three! Yeah, I was not happy about that, I had to go without breakfast on Friday. =(

The weather finally seems to be getting a little better. It's not raining, .......as much. Everything is finally drying out, our efforts are coming through and the work is progressing here in Zipa. I can really testify that diligence is incredibly important. When we put in our est effort, there will always be results. More work you put into it, the better results you'll get out. It's the law of the harvest. You can't plant an orange tree and expect to get guanabana (a fantastically tasty Colombian fruit). it just doesn't happen. The same with us and what we put into whatever we do, study, work, callings, all of it.

Love you all,
Elder Rallison

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Life is so busy

So life...is....busy. I've got a ton to talk about.

So, Viviana wasn't able to get to church the other day, but we are now planning on baptising her this weekend. Wish me luck (and pray for her please)!!!

Umm... Other stuff.....

I had interchanges awhile ago with several missionaries. Had one in Tocancipa with Elder Holmes. He's from Corona California and has about 2 months here in Colombia. As such, he's still working on his Spanish. It's coming along really well though, sounds more like a missionary with six months here. Also had one with Elder Glick in Chia. Chia was cool, a little underwater, but it is finally starting to dry out. It was fun working there with Elder Glick. That night I actually got to talk with one then-investigator, now-convert who is a Colombian cop. Cool, right? And better yet, when we got back to the house there in Chia I found out that they have a sauna! A sauna! It was nice, to feel heat, real heat after having spent so long in the cold rainy weather here. Yep, fun stuff.

We have been working crazy hard here and it is finally starting to show results. We've found several new families all in this past week. Now, we have been passing by and all are turning out to be really receptive. For example on lady straight up asked us for a Book of Mormon....when we contacted her. Sweeeettt. When we work hard, God blesses us for our effort. Always.

I have also been growing a lot in my personal testimony lately. I've noticed that many times now, when I have a problem, the first thing I do is always pray. And almost always, I get my answer, good and clear of what I need to do, what of all my choices is the best in any given moment. I love the relationship that I now have with my Heavenly Father. I hope to be able to maintain this my whole life. I also really want nothing more than that everyone can have the same relationship with him. Nothing is more important.

I love the people here and the lessons I have learned from them. I love you all very much too. Thank you all for your love and prayers.

I'm sorry to cut this off, but I've got things to do, places to go, and people to see.

-Elder Rallison

Sunday, June 12, 2011

A long, long time ago---- May 18-25

Yeah, I know I am way backtracked.

Week 1 May 18-25
So we've got a baptism coming up! Yeah, you heard me, this Sunday, Viviana, the new one, is getting baptized this Sunday! So cool. =D

On Monday I had an intercambio in Bogota with Elder Thomas. So, first we had to go to Suba, a zone on the north-west side of Bogota, for choir practice for the choir in the mission conference. It was cool, though I was one of the only three bass singers there....yikes (good thing the bass voice is a lot stronger than the wannabe-men tenors). After we finished up all that, we headed out to go to work. Only thing is that he had to do a baptismal interview and so I had to go and cover a few appointments with Elder Araya. Yeah, I had an intercambio in an intercambio. Cool right. So it was way cool working with him, we went and taught a lesson to an investigator named Paola. She had a few doubts about the Book of Mormon, but after a little while and a bit of testimony she agreed to really pray and ask God if what we were sharing was true. She agreed to pray.
After that we went to share a message with a recent convert in the area of Elder Thomas, who, it turns out knew Elder Araya! Yeah, I didn't know it at the time but it turns out he had been in that area a while back. So, they just talked the whole time. Finally, got back with Elder Thomas and we headed home. But with one problem we got to the apartment and Elder Thomas realized he had left his keys inside the apartment. So we were outside the apartment for about half and hour trying to "credit card" the door, when, miraculously, it opened! Finally...., oh and his comp still doesn't know that happened..... After getting in, went and called up for pizza. And not just whatever....Dominoes! Yeah, I love Bogota, it has everything.

On Tuesday we had to go to Federman for mission conference! We got there more or less early so that we could practice more for the choir. President Hacking actually sat in the back and watch us rehearsing and started crying (I don't think it was because we were that good....quite the opposite in fact....). Then everyone started getting there. It was epic! For the first time ever, the whole mission was there in one place. So epic in fact, that we went and took a mission picture (I don't have it yet, but it should be on sister hacking´s blog). We (the chior) opened by singing two hymns "Nearer My God, To Thee" and "Christ the Lord is King". Elder Gonzalez came and spoke to the mission. It was cool cause he talked for like ten minutes on the missionary purpose then just spent the rest of and hour answering questions. It was really just an amazing experience. Also, he went and greeted each and every missionary there. That was about it for that day, after that we went back to the ZL house to spend the night.


The next day we went to another session of mission conference. It was also a great experience. The choir sang again at the request of President, then we got to listen to President Hacking cut heads at the whole mission. He was just taking advantage of the chance to talk to everyone at once. I think....

After everything, we had a temple trip as a zone on Thursday. We were heading there (me and my comp) but when the TransMilenio bus we were on stopped there, we weren't able to make it to the door on time. And wouldn't you know it we had such great luck as to not have another stop until the downtown, and on a weekday morning. We got off the bus at the station and entered a world where everyone was in there packed like sardines....no, correction, tighter than sardines. We finally broke out of that and got to a world were we could move....kind of. Got on the bus going back the way we had come and finally got to the temple. It was a great session. After the temple we went to the chapel of the zone leaders to make Chilean hot dogs and play soccer. In the end we got back here, but without any time to spare.

All in all, life is good, but very busy. Love you all lots, keep strong, do what´s right.

Elder Rallison
Temple/ zone activity

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Crazy long letter...

So these last few days have been some incredibly hectic. To start, we've been teaching an investigator that the last missionaries left for us, named Viviana. She is a great investigator, but due to some very interesting circumstances (some random phone calls, members, and more), we found out that she was not the investigator that the last missionaries had left for us! There was another Viviana! Oh gosh. Worse yet, she had been progressing and had a baptismal date. No sooner did we find out about that, we went to call her. But lo and behold, our cell phone was left completely devoid of minutes.We ran around searching until we located a place selling minutes and called her. We set up an appointment to start in fifteen minutes and within an hour we had a new baptismal date set up for her. Phew. And she's great. She's actually interested in the Church, reads everything, and comes to church almost every Sunday (she only missed on our first week here). Yeah, she's getting baptized.

We also had a great family home evening with the Roduigez family. We cooked dinner, a Peruvian dish called "lomo saltado". It consists of potatoes (french fried), onions (sliced), and beef. It was really tasty and the fat content is probably going to kill me someday (hard to see how, I am the skinniest missionary here in the mission). I made dessert....rice krispy treats! It was so good, but I stuck using chocolate rice krispies, funny thing is it actually turned out better than normal. We watched a movie too about and Italian pastor who finds a Book of Mormon without a cover and becomes converted after reading it and praying. He eventually gets kicked out of his church for preaching out of it and refusing to destroy it. He spends the rest of his life looking for the church who published it and finally gets baptised by a mission president......about forty years after first reading the Book of Mormon. Now I ask, how is my testimony? Would I be willing to do that?

Don't know how many of you know, but here in Colombia we are going through a very wet season. Here in Cuindinamarca (the department in which I live, it is the Colombian equivalent of a state) there are more than 2500 acres flooded from the torrential rain. Some small towns to the south of Zipa have incredible levels of water. A university near here (la Universidad de la Sabana in Chia) was flooded up to the second floor. That's like nine feet of water. I am really getting sick of all this cold rainy weather. I am really missing nice, dry, warm, Arizona...

We had zone conference yesterday and due to the difficulty of traveling as half the roads are flooded, we had to leave on Tuesday night to get there. The bus we were on was crazy. I felt like I was on that bus out of Harry Potter, the one with the shrunken head that guides the driver. This bus accelerated faster than a Ferrari, and put on the brakes like no other. I think we reached like 120-140Km/h. Not that fast by American standards, but here, that is FAST. We got from here to Bogota in under 45 minutes, a trip that normally lasts an hour and 15 minutes. I don't think even Brother Kennedy drives quite like that...

Zone conference was great, and we had a special visitor, a newly called mission president and his wife, Pres Amaya and Sister Amaya, who are going to preside over the Ecuador Guayaquil North Mission. It was a great conference, with a ton of practices. One just had me rolling on the floor laughing. So Elder Olvera had set up a baptismal date for me and my companion. He said " As Jesus was baptized by one who had authority, John the Baptist, you too will be baptized by one having authority, John the taxi driver." "John the TAXI DRIVER!?" "Yes he's the Elders quorum president in our ward." LOL. Even funnier as in Spanish, the words "bautista" and "taxista" are very similar. I almost laughed out loud but realized that Pres Hacking was just ten feet away. But yeah, that was way funny. We ate well too. Subway sandwiches for lunch, and heading back to Zipa we stopped by McD's for dinner. Now to you, that may not seem like much, but here, for a gringo, that is the flipping holy grail. But yeah, that is all, I think. We will be talking soon.

Love Y'all,

Elder (Gabe) Rallison

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Zipa Zipa Zipa

Wow, what a day, and what a week. Life for me lately as been incredibly busy as I am working to get this area working at full speed as well as the rest of my responsibilities. I love this work though. It is really the best thing I could possibly be doing with my time. I love the people here and I love working here in helping them all to succeed in life and in the eternities.

It has taken some getting used to as last time I was here I only had to follow my comp around, now I'm stuck with a little more responsibility. I'm figuring it out though. It shouldn't be too hard....I hope. Most of the people here remember me as that gringo who couldn't hardly talk. Now, what a difference. A year of it. And really, in the mission, due to the Spirit and the work, a person changes, and changes fast. I've had people tell, me that they don't recognize me and doubt that even my own mother would recognize me now. LOL. Funny right?

Apart from this stuff, I haven't had any grand events this week, but I believe I will have a lot to share in the weeks to come.

Love you all!!!!

Elder Gabe Rallison

PS One of those events...Elder Scott (yes, that Elder Scott) is coming on to 24th to talk to the mission!!!!! Will keep you posted.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

"Elder you've got a transfer." "What?......WHERE?!?!?!?!?"

The first thing that all must know is that I've had transfers. Yep. I was told that they were going to be a week late, so it was a bit of a surprise to hear that I was being transferred. The crazier came next....the where. I actually didn't believe it at first. Zipaquira!!!! Yeah, I'm now back in my first area. It actually feels really weird being here. I really don't know what President did it, but ah well, I'm here.

So I got my transfer on Monday, spent all day on Tuesday running from door to door saying goodbye to all in Engativá. That and packing. I had to go to the house of the district leader to spend the night there and then I had to go the next day by taxi to the zone leaders house, which just so happens to be on the other side of Bogota. Got there, and then I was stuck there all day waiting. My companion finally got there at three in the morning (he came in bus from Bucaramanga). We had to go and pick him up. And then get back to the house. It was an hour in the taxi each way. How enjoyable. So I finally got to sleep a bit a five in the morning. I am dog tired right now.

My companion is Elder Yarlique. He's from Peru. He's cool and I know him from somewhere......from when I was in Cañaveral. My luck. I have a lot of that. He worked in another area with his trainer while I was with Elder Godoy, but we all lived in the same house. So that´s all real cool.

We got out of Bogota this morning, finally got to Zipa, and went to the house. They had changed houses since last time I was here and the new one is huge. Love it. We unpacked a bit and got everything arranged, then we went to lunch with the Trujillo family. It was way weird. We were talking and I understood everything. Everything. Last time I talked to them I was so lost.

So right now I am feeling way nostalgic and very weird. Like I'm in a weird dream or something. I've thought of visiting or something like that, but really I NEVER thought I would be back here again. So weird.

I don't really have much more to say...I'll be seeing all you l8tr.

Love ya,

Elder Rallison

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Quick this will be...

So, in summary, we did a lot of stuff. We went on interchanges with the zone leaders, had a great family home evening, painted, got wet, had an open house in the church, went to work with one of the assistants, went hiking, got tired, scaled a mountain, saw a sacred lagoon, took pictures, and we worked our tails off.

Interchanges were really good, I got to work with Elder Vitola in Alamos. We talked, taught, and went to teach some more. I also spent a lot of time explaining English slang (for example, "What the heck does heck mean?".....Ummm.....) Yeah, I had a lot of fun with that.

The family home evening was a blast, we taught this lesson about the importance of the Atonement and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Everyone really participated well and afterwards, we ate completos chilenos (those hot dogs with avocado and tomato...sounds weird but is really tasty).

We also did a service project helping a family paint their house. The only downside was that in route there was quite a cloudburst and I was stuck in the middle of it, without my umbrella!!!! Note to self: when in Bogota, ALWAYS carry your umbrella. So we got there wet, but in the end we were able to help them get a few walls painted. I was very proud of my work there. I even rebuilt a windowsill using patching plaster!

Running from the service, we changed into suit and tie and went to the chapel. We had an open house inviting the whole world to come and enter, to see what we are all about. A lot of people here pass the chapel during the week and never see it open. But this day we were walking through the streets, grabbing people and herding them into the doors. It was quite a success. Each organization had a room and each went explaining what they were all about. In the end we got 15 references in only two hours. Very cool and very well done.

On Sunday we were eating lunch when we got a call from Elder Huaita, one of the assistants here. He told us that he would be in our house in twenty minutes! Yikes. We ate everything as fast as we could, and went running to the house to meet him. We got there and set to work. We taught several people and, really, I can say that I learned a lot in that one afternoon. New examples, better questions, and, most important a better understanding of how to work with the Spirit. That Elder knows how.

Today we went to the Lagoon Guatavita, a lagoon that according to legend, is probably the origin of the story of El Dorado, the city of gold. Anciently, the Indians who lived there had a ritual in which they threw gold into the lake. It was quite a sight, the lake that is, but it took a bit to get there. Two buses, and about four miles walking. But it was worth it and a very pretty sight. Got some great pictures, but don't have time to send them now.

Love you all,

Elder Rallison

Monday, April 25, 2011

Semanazo

So this weeek has been great, but with a ton going on.
To start, on Thursday, we were having our normal weekly planning, right? Well, we were finishing up when we heard a knock on the door.... who could that be? To our shock and surprise it was the....Zone Leaders...BUM BUM BUM!!!!! At first we were thinking uh oh, this cannot be good. But in the end, turns out all they wanted was to see how we are doing as a companionship and participate in our comp inventory (the whole evaluation of the strengths/weaknesses of the companionship and its members). Phwew. A bit of a shock that. Having your leaders come unannounced.

Not much on Friday or Saturday. On Sunday though, we had a baptism!!!! Stefanie finally got baptised. And better yet, my companion was the one to baptize her! Sweet. Nothing in the mission is quite as cool as seeing your investigators change into the newest members of the church. The Young Women organized the service and did an awesome job. They had an amazing musical number, a talk about the importance of following the path from baptism to the temple. Really cool in all. And in and of itself it was a bit of a miracle. When we got to the church, there was no water. At all. That is not usually a good sign. Then, when we were about to give up, after having tried almost everything, the water started shooting out. We didn't do anything. It just happened. There are miracles.

That night we had an experience a little less enjoyable. We had to move a sister from our ward to another house because the one she was living in was leaky. She is now living in a room with half functioning electricity, a room that is full of mosquitoes and is about half the size of my bedroom at home. Wow. I was left with a grand sense of gratitude for all that God had blessed me with. To me now, our mission apartment seems like a place. We have water, electricity, gas, everything. It's moments like this that really help a person to appreciate all that they have.

On Monday we did a big service project as a zone. We went to a farmhouse about fifteen miles outside of Bogota and spent the day weeding, moving literally a ton of sand, cleaning out a room full of food storage and floor tiles, pulling out a planting terrace, and more. The sister was really nice and made us pasta. Homemade pasta. She had one of those little pasta makers that flattens out the dough and cuts it into strips. Really was a lot of fun making that. After we walked to a nearby lake and enjoyed the weather, until it started to rain that is.

Tuesday...interviews. It was funny, we were told that we needed to be there at 9:30. We got there at 10:30. I was so nervous, afraid that President was going to cut my head off. But thankfully, he was taking a long time with the zone leaders and we actually ended up waiting awhile before we got in to see him. The interview for me is always a great morale booster. And this one was no exception. I am so pumped to work now!

Last, but not least, the temple trip today. We went to the temple really early, getting up at about four-thirty to get ready to go. As always, an amazing experience. We almost didn't make it into the session, and when we did, we almost didn't fit. They actually had to bring in several folding chairs so that there was space for everybody. All in all, it was amazing. Got several questions answered today. After, we ate in the temple cafeteria, and upon leaving, ran into another zone. One of my coolest companions ever, Elder Godoy was there. So cool to see him and several of the other missionaries again. Great experience.

Well, that was very long and I am now out of time. So, I will see you all next week. Love you all!!!!!

Elder (Gabe) Rallison

Qué más?

Life in Colombia is going great. As for the work, we have had Stefanie interviewed--she passed! Baptism this Sunday!!!!! So happy, so so happy. There is nothing in the mission quite like a baptism. Seeing a person make all the changes and finally take the plunge, nothing compares. As for the rest we are still working way hard to find new people and get them baptized. If you know of anyone, please let me know.

Apart from that, I've been spending a lot of time lately out of area. On Friday, I had an interchange in Dorado with Elder Francom, a new gringo who is still working on getting his Spanish down. It was fun, we contacted a lot and got soaked in a wonderful downpour. Also had another in Alamos with Elder Porflit. That was fun, except that the appointment to visit a family and have a family home evening fell through and we were left with the makings for Chilean hot dogs....well, maybe not that much of a sacrifice. We did enjoy eating a ton of hot dogs. Also had to go to the office yesterday. That was a lot of fun. An hour there and an hour back. But the good part is that we now have all we need to continue working with power for a long, long, time.

I still continue with a bit of a cough/cold going on here, but hey, at least it isn't dengue. Other than that, I'm okay, love hearing from each and every one of you.

So, I find myself kind of out of time.
Love you, will write more next week!
Elder (Gabe) Rallison

Thursday, April 7, 2011

General Conference and more

It has been wild the past week.

On Thursday we went downtown. We had to get there early so we got up at five, got on a bus, and got to the office. We got the papers that we needed so that my comp could got to the doctor for an eye exam. He really needs them. Seriously, I have not ever seen anyone with eyesight that bad. The prescription that the doctor gave him is about three times mine. And I thought I was bad. So he put in the order for those, and we finally got back here about lunchtime. So that was fun.

On Saturday we had conference. YAY!!!!! So, our president says that each missionary should watch conference in his own language if possible, but sadly, after going to not one, but two stake centers, there was none to be had for the first session. So, I just watched in Spanish. I understood it all right, it was just a little distracting watching as their lips say one thing and I'm hearing another. Ah well. In the end, though, we were able to get a TV set up with English! I was able to watch the rest of conference in English (except for part of the Sunday morning session when we lost the audio...). That was fun, we were running around in circles, turning this or that dial, attempting in vain to restore the audio. It didn't work, but somehow it miraculously came back for the last session. =D

And what great messages. I don't remember who it was but I remember an amazing message about the importance of desire. that when we have a desire, that desire will bring us to making choices based on said desires, which then become actions. For "all will be judged according to theirs works and the desires of their hearts. Also one that talked about the importance of be instead of do. "Everyone has to-do lists but very few have to-be lists. This idea of being instead of just doing, it relates a lot to the mission. You don't just do missionary work, you are a missionary. And what a message from Elder Holland. I had never realized fully the amount of inspiration that goes into a conference message. I can't wait to get a Liahona or Ensign and read them, study them (hopefully in English). Oh and as a final thought, I noticed a lot of talk about marriage, about not waiting, of the importance of actively looking and working toward said goal. New personal goal, get married as fast as possible after the mission.....by the end of 2012? We'll see.

So, that's about it, I guess. It rained a lot on Sunday as we were walking home, and I ended up getting really wet and cold, and ending up with one of the worst colds of my life. i spent most of the day on Monday in bed with chills, had a rough time on Tuesday as well. Now I feel better, but I have almost completely lost my voice. But, all is well. Really, it is all good.

Love you all lots,
Elder (Gabe) Rallison

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Howdy Y'all

Life goes on. This has been a long past week with a lot of crazy happenings. We have been working like crazy and are finally getting results. We've got several of our investigators now preparing for baptism in the coming weeks and hopefully all will come through. The members here have really started to take part in the work. One sister took us to meet her cousin and her family, they now have baptismal dates for the last week of April. Love it when everything just works out like that.

This past Friday we had a ward activity that will bow be taking place every Friday. We call it Super Friday! Cool right? In this past one, I jumped rope! I actually did pretty well for someone dressed in shirt and tie. Go about 15 good hops in before they went and sped up on me. No fair, but oh well, what's one to do.

This Monday was fun as we had a zone meeting that morning. Only problem was that they called us about half an hour before to let us know that the meeting was in Funza (very far away) instead of in Alejandria (relatively close). So we went running out of the house and took a bus for and hour to get there and guess what, we started half an hour later because the zone leaders got there late. Well, yeah, it was good, but quite the journey.

Today we played soccer (again I know), ate pizza, and played ping pong as a zone. One of the missionaries, Elder Porflit, actually played semi-professional ping pong in Chile. I'm proud to say that I scored against him. Once. Final score 1-11. Yay!

So without more news to share I'll have to stop there, with a commitment to you all to take better notes so I know what to write.

Love you all,
Elder Rallison

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Crazyness

Two weeks news in one email. See how this goes.

So, I'm now starting my fourth transfer here in Engativá and I'm continuing with Elder Quiñonez. The last two weeks have been really busy work wise, but with rather few results. We have been working a lot with getting the members here involved in the work as well as looking for new investigators. We've got a great family that we are working with Diego and Maijorie and their son Diego Jr (he's 8, I love how perfectly the things work out). They are good, but only the Diegos could come to church last Sunday as Maijorie was in bed sick. Hope we can get all of them to church this Sunday. We've also got Estefani, who we are going to baptize on April 9th. She actually is pretty much a member of the Church, she lives with her grandparents who have been members for more than 40 years and only hadn't been baptized before because her Catholic father didn't want her to. But now, she is going to get baptized so that's all good.

On the Sunday of stake conference, everything went....well....it went. I did my part well, but the choir was the most mixed up, off key, group that I have ever heard. Sister Kennedy would have cried had she been there. The talks were good though, especially, Sister Hacking's. She talked about making sure we are in places and in a state of mind in which we can feel the subtle promptings of the Spirit. She shared the story of when Christ came to the Americas (3 Nephi 11) and when God introduced Him from the heavens. God announced it three times, but the people didn't understand it until the third time when they were attentively listening. We all need to be sure that we are listening to hear that still small voice when it comes. There is not much more important for us missionaries than the Spirit.

Last Wednesday I went to the center of town with another gringo from my zone so that he could do his trunky shopping. I found some cool stuff, such as knock off cologne that costs $2.50. How cool is that! And it actually smells really good. Can't beat that deal.

Today we took it a little easier and just cleaned house and played card games such as Monopoly Deal and Uno. Also went and got groceries and we got haircuts. Mine is short, but still not as short as that one time....

I'd like to thank you all for your loving help and support in this work. Thank you for you prayers and your love. It means more to me than you could imagine. Really.
Love you all,
Elder Rallison

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Howdy y'all

Great week, not much new, just the normal.

Sorry, I'm sending this a little late, but our area was without electricity for a good part of the afternoon.

Choir practice went....well..... this week. The men are singing a little better as we had to change them to singing melody with the sopranos instead of singing the tenor part. I guess this is easier for them (for Kolob). They are still entering offbeat in the other song, but hope that all gets worked out. We've got another practice this Saturday to (hopefully) finalize everything and get it sounding good. Please pray for them (and me) we are going to need it.

As well as musical practice, I had interchanges on Monday with Elder Ponce. He's good, but we didn't have much of a chance to work as I was stuck in the bathroom almost all day with some stomach bug. I feel better now, but still am missing a little to be 100%.

Well, that´s it for now. Not much, but you know what they say, no news is good news.

Love you all lots,
Elder (Gabe) Rallison

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Not much new...ah well, maybe a bit

Went and worked with one of the newbies from the MTC this past Saturday. Was cool, he didn't talk a lot though. He was a little shy. But that's why they send 'em here, so they can change. I learned a bit too. Like, when it rains (and hails) and half your area loses electricity, that is not a good time for contacting.

We had choir practice this past Sunday. It lasted three hours. The problem was that the men kept on entering late each verse of "If you could hie to Kolob" and several weren't even singing their part. Instead, they were off singing melody with the sopranos. So, the chior director put up a bet, to see if they could possibly pull it together. They didn't, and now they have the privilege of bringing five fried chickens (complete with fries, arepa, and plátano) to the next rehearsal. =D Epic win (for me)/epic fail (for them). And all in all, epic feedback (I am not sure how many of you will understand that, but okay).

On Monday we visited a cool family. The Linarez family. They are cool. The grandparents are members. Well, a bit more than just members, they are pioneers in the church here in Colombia. They've only been members for 41 years now. The sister Linarez shared the complete history of the church in Colombia with us. It only took about an hour and a half. Funny thing is, their grandchildren (thanks to the father) aren't members yet. We are working with them, and ...we...are....going....to...baptize.....them. Someday. The older of the grandchildren (has sixteen years) loves aptitude puzzles. They are supposed to show how outside of the box you think. Well, I got.....3 of 10. But really, they are weird, and in Spanish (so I have a handicap, it's not my native tongue).

Yesterday it also rained a lot, so we had a hard time getting much done. We had a great appointment with Maijorie, an investigator that we found knocking doors. So we entered and she asked us if we wanted something to drink. We said yes, and she came out with two steaming mug of....coffee. Yikes! So, we started out explaining why we don't drink it, and ended up teaching the Word of Wisdom and the Restoration (as she didn't really understand it the first time). She was really impressed. Especially with the promise of long life. So she asked, how long does someone live doing this? Well.....President Hinckley lived until 97. She is like, no way. Yeah way. Suffice to say she is now committed to follow the WoW. Now we just have to get her married to her boyfriend. Grrrr. Later that night the electricity went out (but this time for only four hours, on Saturday it was six hours). It was a little creepy without the light, but we lived.

Well, that's all folks. But don't cry, I'll be writing again in a week.

Love y'all.

-Elder (Gabe) Rallison

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Conference and more....

This past week I have started out in a new calling! I am now the pianist for the stake choir. Oh joy. Better, I have to be ready by the thirteenth of March. Yep. And these are hard pieces too. An arrangement of "If you could hie to Kolob" and another five page arrangement of "Army of Helaman/As Sisters in Zion". And as a missionary, there isn't much time for practice. Pray for me, I have to play in stake conference in front of the stake and General Authorities.

On a lighter note, we had zone conference the past two days (Monday and Tuesday). We were practicing everything from Preach my Gospel Simplified. It was really cool, we had everything from Subway sandwiches to practices of Spirit-inspired questions to a human pyramid. And best of all, it was very spiritually edifying. Learned a lot and had a lot of great opportunities to put what I know in practice. Sister Hacking didn't make it, as she was home recovering from a broken arm. Ouch.

Aside from that....nada. We've been working our hardest to bring souls to Christ in the last few days, and finally, we are beginning to see results. That makes me very happy. One thing I've notice lately is that those who really progress are those who really read and try to gain a testimony of the Book of Mormon. If that isn't important to them, they'll never do it and they'll never really become converted. I would like to invite each of you to pull out your book of Mormon, dust it off (hopefully this step isn't necessary), read it (I would recommend the Introduction, 3 Nephi 11, Moroni 10, or 2 Nephi 31 just to name a few ideas. Better, start at the beginning and read to the end), next think about what you just read (really think about it and apply it to you), then with faith, a sincere heart, and real intent, ask your Father in Heaven if this book is really true. I know it is. That's the reason I'm here. I don't care if you already know it is true, ask God again, and in so doing reinforce your testimony. I now have a habit of doing it almost every time I read.

Love you all,

-Elder (Gabe) Rallison

Thursday, February 17, 2011

One year older and wiser too....I think

So, this week has been markedly different from any other time in my mission. I love being a Dad. =D. Sure it has it's challenges. For example, my son is about as quiet as I used to be. But he's getting better. I know it will come with practice. He could really be one of the greatest missionaries here in the mission. Just needs a bit of time and work. He's a great kid.

This past week we've been working a lot. We lost a few investigators due to their lack of progress, but we are finding loads of new ones. We've got a lot of good going for us and have heard that President is very happy with how things are going. Not really much to report as of now, just the same old, same old. Umm.....

Ah! I know! I was talking with my companion and found out that he knows someone that I know. He was the ward mission leader of the ward where one of the missionaries from my room in the MTC started his mission. In that exact ward. My companion was working with this missionary the day after he was sleeping in the same room as me in the MTC. Me, the missionary who is now his father! Small world right?

That's it for now, love you all and am wishing you all the best of luck!
Happy Valentines Day!
(yep congrats to all of you who are getting married)
(PS- Elder Williams, my first zone leader and later assistant is getting married in July. He got engaged only one month after getting home. Guess he couldn't stand being without a companion.)

-Elder Rallison

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Woah....

Why does it seem that everything happens all at once? So my stuff has happened in the last week, it is almost impossible to cram it all into one email. Apart from what happened on Monday, a week of stuff happened yesterday and today.

Yesterday, we got up at five in the morning to get my companion to the bus terminal (which happens to be on the other side of Bogota) by eight. We were out of the house by six thirty, but lo and behold, the worst traffic jam that I have ever seen here. This is in part thanks to the fact that the main street of Engativá is the same size as a two lane residential street in the States and that on this same street passes about twenty buses every minute. Tell me that isn't a traffic jam waiting to happen. We finally got to the terminal with just minutes to spare. Just enough time to eat some good ol' Dunkin Donuts and get him on his bus to Cucuta. Eighteen hours in a bus, poor guy.
Whew. But wait, it's not over yet.

I got together with Elder Porflit and we went to the clinic for a doctor's appointment that I had to follow up on my arm. Thing is, that too is about an hour in a taxi. We got to the clinic and picked up my X-ray. But when we went to the desk to check in, we found out that the authorization that the office elders sent wasn't up to date. So, we ran across the street to an internet cafe and in fifteen minutes had the proper form. And back to the doctor. The doc saw me and said that I am now ready to go. Still can't do weights, but I am now set to do whatever thing I need or want to do. Thank goodness.

After the doctor, we went to get together with the other elders from the zone. They were in a very fancy and very cool mall called the Atlantis Plaza. We decided to go there to eat lunch. To my awe and surprise, I found myself in the front door of the first and only TACO BELL in COLOMBIA!!!!! Happy day and hallelujah! According to my sources, it just opened about a month ago. I was so happy I wanted to cry. I ate a hard taco, a bean burrito, and a crunchwrap for the first time in a year. With a lot of fire sauce of course. =D It was glorious. The Latins really like it too, but the gringos most of all.
I was then sent to the other side of Bogota, to the apartment in Dorado, to wait with the other elders who were going to be trainers. We waited and waited until about 7:30 when our greenies, our sons, finally got there. My companion is awesome. He's called Elder Quiñonez. He's from Guyaquil Ecuador and is often mistaken for a gringo (don´t know why). He's going to be the best missionary ever. I just know it.
We finally got back to Engativá at eight and I helped him unpack all his stuff and get acquainted. We slept, got up and started straight into mission life. Exercise, shower, shave, dress, breakfast, personal study, companionship study, all of it. Right now we are following the mission training plan so that he gets the basics down and then, well, we´ll see where we go from there. So cool to be with a newbie, makes me feel like a newbie again. Thing is, he think I know everything, while the truth is I don't know anything. Funny isn't it, to be on this side of the trainer-greenie relationship.

Well, I think that about sums it up. In all I spent about five hours in taxis yesterday. Very much enjoyed all that passed, especially eating the American food. See (well not literally) you all next week!

Love ya!

-Elder (Gabe) Rallison

Transferrrrssss

The title says it all! We've got transfers.
So for the first time ever.....I'm staying here in Engativá! This is the first time that I have ever had more than three months in an area. And more my comp (elder Mendoza) is heading off to Cucuta, leaving me with a new companion. His name is....well we don´t know yet. See, he doesn't get to the mission until tomorrow. But I'll be sure to let you know his name when I get it, okay? =D Listo.

So, what more is there to say.....umm. Love you all lots? Oh, I am almost old! In ten more days I'll have a year in front and a year behind. Tan linda.

Love you lots =D

One other thing =D

Okay so I think it is about time I tell you all one more thing that kind of happened.
So you all know how I've never broken a bone in my life? Well, not quite true. You see, about a month ago, when we preparing for the baptism of Daniel, I leaned against a door in the chapel and well, it fell open. I hit my elbow on the ground, hard. It HURT like the DICKENS. I got to the house somehow and put it in ice water. When I got to the hospital on Monday it was so swollen, it looked like a small melon. I got an X-ray, and then the doc gave me the news. I had broken my left elbow on the outside (okay the bone that sits on the left side of the elbow) and torn the ligaments a bit on the inside. The doctor put me in a sling, gave me painkillers, and told me to do an exercise rotating my wrist and to come back in two weeks for a consult. Also, no sports for three months. Miss football. =(

So, I had two weeks with a sling (a very stylish navy blue, Lyric, I know you'd want to know) and then headed back to the doctor (which happens to be on the other side of Bogota, only an hour ride in taxi). I saw the doctor and he did a bunch of tests to see how my flexibility and movement of my elbow is progressing. I was able to do almost every thing except touch my shoulder and fully extend my arm. After all that, he said I don't need surgery, I don't need a cast, and, from that point on, I didn't even have to use the sling. He said I was incredibly lucky and that it is healing very fast, unusually so. What a blessing! I think I owe that too my companion, who gave me a priesthood blessing minutes after the accident. What a wonderful power that God has given to man, to be able to bless and to heal. Now, I am able to move my left arm in the same manner as the right, as if I never had broken my elbow. Milagroso. Gloria a Dios. =D

Love you all. The only reason I didn't tell you earlier is because I didn't want to worry.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

So tired.....

This week has been a long one. Fun, but long. And very, very busy. So I passed Thursday traveling from one side of Bogota to the other for a special appointment and then I went and got sick. I spent all of Friday sick in bed with some flu bug. That was really fun. So, because my companion and I were out of action for two days (three if you count P-day, four if you count Monday as well.) we were working like maniacs all Saturday. We left the house at ten and worked straight until nine without even taking break for lunch. We did a lot day and even more on Sunday. In the end, we met all our goals after having done the work of one week in two days. That was hard, but in the end one of the most satisfying things I have ever done.

I had interchanges with Elder Porflit on Monday. Enjoyed it a lot too, because he is one of my best friends here in the mission. We both have the same amount of time in the mission and he was in my first district when I was in Zipaquirá. He has changed a lot. He's got a better manner of teaching and working as well as a little bit more belly. He is the funniest, craziest, and best Chilean that I have ever met. He said I have changed a lot too. Why is it that you can rarely see the changes in you? Only see those in others. Ah well.

We are having a lot of success with our investigators and we are putting forth our best effort to get them baptized. I believe the key lies in their testimony of the Book of Mormon, so we are going to be swinging by their houses to verify how each one is going with said commitment. I want Oscar baptized, but he still has a few fears that we need to address before he takes the plunge. He is great and is especially interested in the temple. I think we'll be taking him there for a special lesson.

Speaking of the temple, I got to go this morning. Yep, here in Bogota we are very lucky to live within an hour of the temple and have a chance to visit every three months. It was really something to go back, as the last time I was there was about seven months ago and with much less Spanish than now. This time I got a lot more out of it and had a hard time leaving the celestial room when it was time to go. I think I was the last to leave. Spent the rest of the day running errands and getting ready for transfers, which are this Sunday. I can't believe that it is that time again.
Really, the mission goes by so fast. In two weeks, I hit my hump day (Feb 17), that point at which I have a year behind and a year to come. Everyone says that the second is a lot faster than the first, but having seen how fast the first was, i can't see how it is possible that the second could be faster. The other thing that goes by really fast is internet time. Got to be going, will write you next week.

Love ya´ll
Elder (Gabe) Rallison