Friday, November 28, 2014

From Valledupar with Love

It will be rough not being with you guys for my Birthday and Thanksgiving, but I am going to make the best of it with my family of investigatores here in Valledupar! I have not received anything yet, but I am grateful that you guys are thinking of me :). I too will try to eat some salchipapas for the Bday. I am so grateful that what I am doing here is having an impact on my siblings! Ava is so cute, and I miss Her a lot. My Companion is eating less and less per day it seems like. And he seems to think that I am eating more and more per day, which isn't necessarily a lie either :). The food here is pretty good. Although an investigator gave us a juice that is corn juice, onion, and old lactose milk blended together. The culture expects you to eat or drink everything in front of you, so I drank the tall glass of it and thought I was going to throw up. She was so happy that I (Élder American) drank it and told her I liked it. So she refilled the tall glass, and I choked the crap down a second time. By the way, The photo is of a street near my house in Valledupar, you can see the mangos on the trees. The stories of the siblings are very emotional for me, and refresh my mind for the work every time I read it because it gives me purpose to be someone's hero like that! The blessings of missionary service are already starting to appear. Dad, I loved sitting with you every Sunday in Priesthood, because I was proud that YOU were MY dad! I miss you a ton too, but the work here is progressing better by the day. The situation with my compañero is still rough, but I am making the best of it and learning how to teach effectively with him! You are my greatest example of what I want to be as a missionary! I have never thanked you guys for the packages, I realized. Thank you so much for thinking of me! And I love you all so much! Thanks for the birthday wishes! Its just like being at home! By the way when is Thanksgiving¿ Have I already missed it¿ I will keep myself healthy, and the Lord is helping me do all things including that! Te Amo Muchisimo. Ciao for now. Your Élder Manwaring

Sunday, November 23, 2014

A Better Week

We are about 8 hours by bus from Barranquilla, and so it is slightly cooler here. In Valledupar the majority are very poor. As in a concrete one room house with a bed and a sink and a tin roof and a dirt floor. There are many dogs with flea bitten diseased bodies. And bats that come out at night. Lots and lots of bats! Through the Lord we can do all things! I try to serve with all my heart, and ignore the less than fun stuff. I am feeling the spirit a lot, and working hard for my investigadores!I miss my ukulele a lot! I will pray for Ava, she is so little and cute! I hope she had a ton of fun in her star raising! This week I want to speak to every one of the family members and relate experiences by person: Dad: You can buy peanut butter here. But for about $10. The craziest thing I have eaten here is pig heart soup! Delicious! Oh, and look up Salchipapas! They are so good, I wish I could eat it every day! Élder Giron and I were teaching a lesson to a super poor lady who is leaving the church, when a dainty young lady came up behind us and started speaking as though she were a gruff old man, which was not her voice, but it wasn´t an imitation of an old man´s voice. Super creepy! She said "open your windows" and then walked away. But I am doing much better at speaking and listening in spanish. I love you tons! Mom: Sign language came in "handy" because we met a deaf guy in the street and my companion just abandoned him without trying. But I stopped and shared the gospel. Colombian sign language is way different, but he understood, and said "God bless me for trying". I miss your cooking, but I have now tried about 12 or so different ways to eat plantains. I miss hugging you and Dad, and love you guys a bunch! You mean the world to me, and I attribute all that I am to Dad and you! Lauren: I had a dream last night that we got to spend a day together and we spent it in a costco eating good food samples together! It was the funnest day! I hope things are going well with your suitors. And if it isnt going...I think you are superb and hope senior year is going great! Make the best of it! I hope swimming is going "swimmingly", and you are dominating the pool, the tests, and the Laurels quorum. I miss you a ton! Nicholas!: I hear you got your Patriarchal blessing! I dont need to see it to know you are destined for great things! I hear you have been working out (watch out ladies)! I want to hear from you, because out of the siblings I might think of you the most. I want to speak spanish and stay up late with you! If school is stressful and you feel like you have no friends, turn to Mom and Dad. I did in school and I don´t regret it! They are lifelong friends! You will make an excellent missionary, and I hear you are progressing in so many ways! Love! Jack: Your jokes are what I miss the most! You are a little buddy full of energy to go play with me and the boys on the trampoline. You are in 4th grade right¿ You are way smarter than I was at your age, and I hope you use that talent to your good! I saw a picture of you the other day, and thought to myself: Now that is one who will grow up to be a strong man! Don´t let anyone tell you different! I love you muchisimo! Nate: You were one of best friends back home and so I miss you in every way! You are growing a lot of muscle in your brain and biceps! I hear you are starting to learn to play the piano! I hope you love every moment of it. Like a mission, it will be hard at first, but you will love it when you can say that you completely dominated it! I hope your year is going great! You are like a majestic polar bear with a spiky mane who looks threatening at first, but then you can tickle it and it will start laughing and playing with you! Stay awesome! I want to hang out the same way we used to! Ava: There is no doubt that I think about you every day! You are the cutest thing I have ever seen, and that is a known fact! I wish I could graze on your little furry blonde head! You are an insipiration to me and my investigadores, whom I tell with pride of your battle with cancer with the Lord on your side! You continue to grow in intelligence muchisimo, and I laugh/cry when I hear of your cute progress! Enjoy preschool! It only gets harder ;). You are so cute and I love you so much! Mom, you make MY heart go round! You ARE phenomonous! (borrowed quotes from Ava)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Out of the CCM and into...

Valledupar! I am serving right now in the ever beautiful city of Valledupar! I am serving with Èlder Giron in the Loperena Ward. Valledupar can be described as the following: Empenada stands line the streets, as do Mango Trees which the town is famous for. There is Vallenato musica every way you turn, which is the most popular stuff to listen to here. The men here never wear shirts or much of any clothing really. And the women are not too far off from the same. Everyone is scantily dressed. We are in an area that is known for being exceptionally rich as well as exceptionally poor. The rich won't listen to us and the poor are pretty much all sick with a type of flu similar to MONO. Almost everyone will let you into their house, but won't listen or try to understand a word you say afterwards. They are all super happy, and love to dance and sing and eat fried foods and platanos and Mangos. People from Bogotà loved Americans and speak fluidly and easily. In Valledupar no one has the teeth necesary to talk anyway, and their language is very rough. You can buy 3 litres of Coca Cola here as well as Vanilla wafers that are 3 times their normal size. The work is true and good. We walk about 12 miles on foot per day, and it is usually very hot and humid. It has rained twice, and my companion says we are entering the hot season. In stores here, there are complete aisles dedicated to cooking oil because the people here like fried food so much. We have lots of investigatores, but almost all of them refuse to come to church or abandon bad habits, so we cannot baptize anyone here right now. I am starting to love them though, and will make baptisms happen here. Many people thought I was from Paraguay upon first meeting them, but soon realized that I am a Gringo, which they dont like a whole lot. I am trying to enjoy myself out here, and so far it is half and half. But that is to be expected the first week or two. I was feeling pretty desperate from not Emailing in so long, and so that was a big contributor as to why I was feeling a little frustrated at times. My companion skips breakfast and I did once because we had no food in the house the whole first week we were here. We usually pick up some bread and juice at night, but we got off our leccion late, and he didn´t want to break curfew by stopping for food. So we didn't eat that night or the next morning until 1 in the afternoon. And we walked about 8 miles since lunch the day before. Today was better though, we played futbol as a district and I scored a gol. The water to shower here is rain water and is freezing cold and we wash our laundry by hand. But I am starting to love to teach and work as a missionary and love the people I am serving. Every day gets better! Ava sounds like she is just getting cuter by the day! Their Primary Program parts are awesome! I got pretty emocional just reading Nates part. I miss them muchisimo, and give them my love! Something interesting they might like is that juice is super big here. Look up C Frut juice. It is super good! I had Dulde de mango the other day, which is not ripe mango that is made into paste to suck. Delicious! I miss having Friday night movie night a lot right now. But the work is worth it! I love you guys so much sometimes it drives me crazy, but I am reminded that you all are in the hands of the lord!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Leaving to Barranquilla in less than a week/New Companion

I have a new companion from Cartagena named Elder Arroyo. We did proselyting yesterday, and only got 5 references in 3 hours. We went into the slums of Bogotá Norte after a little walk and soon saw kids running around with little clothing, animal parts being sold, a tin roofed Casino (which I taught in front of) and a bunch of little vendors selling food and novelties out of their Ford Pintos :). I think God is trying to test my Spanish, so he gave me a companion where I need to roll my R´s to speak with him :). I went on tour last week and also to the Jersey shop where I bought a Yellow National Jersey and a Barranquilla Juniors Tiburones Jersey. On tour we also went to the Cathedral on Mt. Monserrate which has so many pictures and sculptures of Jesus Dying it was crazy. An interesting thing to note is that not one of them have anything to do with the Savior suffering in Gethsemane. And the cathedral´s central piece is the most scary looking bleeding Jesus I have ever seen surrounded by gold (Picture attached). The view to Bogotá below is pretty sweet from there too, so I will attach that as well. I have gotten fairly sick, which is ironic because I was boasting about not being sick for so long. The lesson for this is: Don´t drink the water no matter where you get it. We are free to drink the water purification water (Like a blue barrel on a tap, we used to have one) but it will still give you the closest thing to strep throat. My throat has been on fire for like three days. On another note, I have been here for a month already but it feels like 2 weeks. Not by train or by plane! I will take a small plane to Barranquilla! I am so excited! I love you guys and your prayers for me, I can feel them so abundantly in my life here in the field. And there isn´t a better work out there. Te Amo Mucho, Élder Clark Manwaring