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.. ....try... .BAM... .he ..did!!!!!!!.....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, 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