Thursday, August 6, 2015

Great Experiences (July 21)

Sorry I couldn't write you guys yesterday, it was Colombian Independence Day and we had a crazy monsoon hit Arjona, and so the power went out. I am just fine health wise. I am actually working harder than any time in all of my mission. We are having very little success, but I am not phased because I trust in the promise that if I work hard, be obedient, and keep a good attitude, I will see the results with time. I am still in Arjona as District Leader AND Elder Escobar`s trainer. I am learning a lot of patience with Elder Escobar. He is improving, but in very small ways. He is largely the same person that I met 7 weeks ago. I'm excited for Russell Brown's mission call. Tell him something for me: Gordon B Hinckley once said "Every, and I mean EVERY, good thing I have in my life-I can trace back to my decision to serve a full-time mission". I am so proud of the way all the kids are growing, but sad to miss some things like Jack becoming a Man, and Ava excited to start Kindergarten. The schools in America are so much better than Colombia. There are about 10 high schools in Arjona-not because there are enough people to have 10 high schools, rather because the schools take advantage of the system and it is a big business where there are not only school rivalries, but one school tries to compete with another for business. And everyone has their uniforms. I'm glad that Ava is still Cancer free. It is one of the biggest blessings I have ever enjoyed in my life. And I still thank our Heavenly Father that she is OK. Here are 2 great experiences from last week: This has been a pretty great week! Pretty tough with Elder Escobar still, but we are slowly making progress. It all started this Tuesday with a Less Active family that we are visiting that has been Less Active for about 7-8 years. The Gonzalez family. We had a Family Home Evening with them this Last Tuesday, and the Mom has been the main reason why the family members don't go to church. She is very prideful, and has told us that she is in all ways superior to her spouse, who is also a member. Their oldest son invited us to do the FHE. We came, and the son had invited a non-member friend. I shared a video that I had Called "Living Below Your Privileges", where there is a man on a cruise that doesn't take advantage of all the amenities that were all along included in the overall price of the cruise. The family at first didn't get what we were trying to say, so I told them straight up "We have the God-given privilege of having an eternal family, and we don't even go to church, read the scriptures, or pray. We cheat ourselves of so many blessings only because we don't have the courage to act." The message hit the Mom very hard, and she agreed. She humbled herself in this moment. We had a great time with games, and a treat, and more Mormon Messages, and it was a great night! Later in the week, we visited their house and the oldest son told us that it was a very testimony building moment for him because he said that for a moment Elder Escobar seemed to look like one of the first missionaries that taught the family, and I looked like the American missionary that baptized him. The Mom told us that that same night, she had a dream that God was standing in the door of their house and told her "Its time to go back to church." So they did. And finally the greatest experience of the week. The other day we found a young man named Antonio who was baptized about a year ago, but it seems as though the missionaries that baptized him did so without having had taught him very much or keeping good records of him. He came to church, without any sort of invitation from us. We told him in church that we wanted to visit him, so we did. We taught about the Book of Mormon and his daily reading of the Book. In the end of the lesson I asked him to offer the Prayer. Now, it wouldn't normally be a problem for someone. But Brother Antonio has a type of speech/mental impediment that he stutters phrases, and he started the prayer like this "P-P-P-P-P-P-PAD-PAD-RE CE-LE-LEL-PAD-RE-PPPADRE..." He spent about 5 minutes trying to pray but literally couldn't do it. So I felt impressed to tell him that if he had faith and desired a blessing we could give him one. He accepted and we went inside to do it. We gave him a blessing for fluidity of mind and tongue, and that it would not stop him from following God`s commandments. We finished and went back outside to finish with the prayer. He was quiet for a minute and then started "Padre Celestial...Te damos gracias...Te Pedimos...en el Nombre de Jesucristo, Amen." Without stuttering once. And afterwards he did not have any problem talking, and asked when we would be back. It was one of the coolest moments of my mission. Anyways, I am thinking about buying a really cool personalized scripture case for my Book of Mormon, that the mission does. Its leather and they do your name and a picture from the Gospel art collection, and a scripture on the back! So, Ill let you guys know how it goes! Until next week, I love you guys so much!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Gifts from God

This week was pretty good in some ways and not so great in others. Today we find out if there are transfers for us or not. But, Something really cool from this week, (to fore mention, I use drawing a lot in lessons because I feel like I am tangibly allowing people to look into my mind and literally see the spirit working with us. When I feel the spirit-I draw it out for an investigator) is that Wilminton told me: "You have 2 gifts from God. You teach very well, and especially your drawing." I told him thank you, and he asked me a question "Do you know what gift means?", and then he responded his same question "It is different from a talent. A talent is not something that can be used to glorify God. And your drawings have helped me understand my Savior and learn of his doctrine." It was awesome! But, my "son" has been very jealous and a little bit proud this week: and he said to Wilminton right after "Ha, that`s nothing compared to my gift. I am a computer genius. I know a LOT about computers." It was a very embarrassing moment. Another cool experience was an exchange with Elder Effio (because I need to be doing exchanges every week). He told me that he is still struggling feeling the spirit, so I taught how to feel and recognize the spirit and I told him to inform me every time during the day that he felt the spirit. And I myself felt the spirit pulling me to a certain house, but we were pressed for time and so we passed it. After about 5 minutes of walking I told him that we could not afford to pass up on spiritual impressions. So we walked back. And contacted the house. It turns out that it is a part member family, whom one of the members is a schizophrenic Less Active woman that really needed a visit, and was very happy to see us. It was a good teaching learning opportunity for me and Elder Effio. My landlord got scared because the church stopped paying him, and so he told me "No, don't go! I will get a guy to clean up the bats!" But President Searle gave him 4 chances to clean it already, and finally told him we would be moving. So I told him "That`s great that you are cleaning up for your next tenants." He was not very happy, but grudgingly sent a guy to clean up our house. The dude has a plastic garbage bag filled with dead bats in 2 hours, but our house still has bat crap everywhere. But we have made the best out of the situation, I made a "Gringo" breakfast the other day for the 4 of us that consisted in pancakes, syrup, eggs, bacon, and milk and lemonade. It was awesome, and we have grown really close as a district. I also ordered pizza from a super cheap high class pizza place here in Arjona, and we were inside the place-so I ordered for myself. And Elder Escobar didn`t order anything, so I assumed that he wasn't hungry. I got my food and he said to the waitress "Where is my food?!" She said that he hadn't ordered anything. "Why didn't you order my food?!" He said to me. I told him when the waitress went to another table "Because you were right there and could do it yourself--I am not your Mom." He ordered his food, and after daily planning an hour later told me "It was pretty selfish and prideful of you back there. You also could have just shared your food with me and not make me pay for something." I took it like a man, because I have been through worse (Elder Giron and Elder Puchoc) and told him that the next time I would be more thoughtful of his feelings than my delicious Hawaiian pizza. He did not like that. I have been reading like a fiend Jesus the Christ when I ran across a part that is special to me: When Jesus is asked by his Mom to help get wine for a wedding that she was directing, Christ said "Woman, what have I to do with thee? Mine hour is not yet come." Woman, as applied by a son to his mother may sound to our ears somewhat harsh, if not disrespectful, but is actually an expression of opposite import (According to "the Life of Christ" it meant the queenliest, or the highest of all womanly royalty). To every son the mother ought to be preeminently the woman of women; she is the one woman in the world to whom the son owes his earthly existence; and though the title "Mother" (side note from me-interesting that he says that mother is not a nickname, but rather a title) belongs to every woman who has earned the honors of maternity, yet to no child is there more than one woman whom by natural right he can address by that title of respectful acknowledgement...When Christ hung in dying agony upon the cross, He looked down upon the weeping Mary, his mother, and said "Woman (my queen) behold thy son!" Can it be thought that in this supreme moment, our Lord`s concern for his mother from whom he was about to be separated by death was associated with any emotion other than that of honor, tenderness, and love? (side note from me--even in his dying moments he was not embarrassed or ashamed or scared to acknowledge his Mother as someone of esteem and family). Page 144 Jesus the Christ It sounds like Jack had an awesome day! I know that all the boy`s at one time or another have wanted a Gecko, and it surprised me that you guys finally decided to do it! He looks like a little guy, and really cute! I wish Jack a very happy birthday! Eleven Reasons why Elder Manwaring Loves Jack 1. He is very intelligent. Too intelligent. 2. He is very attentive to problems and can solve them very quick, sometimes with a hug. 3. He is willing to try new things even though it scares him. 4. Jack is spiritually mature and is a supremely advanced and endowed spirit child of God. 5. He is reserved, but reflects what is going around him. 6. He has a quick and powerful long term memory. 7. He eats very little, so I can steal food from his plate. 8. He is a very caring person, and gets scared for their well-being 9. He is obedient to the right authority. 10. He is respectful to others and gains their confidence early. 11. He is skinny, so his hugs hurt, but in a good way where I wouldn't mind getting hurt whenever for a big hug from Jacky Boy! Have a great week, I will talk to you guys next week! Love You all!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Recovery

This week was like a recovery week, we got right back into proselyting, and we have been working really hard. We are living in the living room of the other missionaries, in their small apartment. We moved out of the other apartment because of the bat problem. This week was very good, but it has been a week of a lot of growing up. My companion is getting worse socially, and has fallen asleep in a few lessons. He has also made a lot of comments that are pretty funny too...we were practicing English, in the conditional tense and he told me "If I could rob a bank or a bakery, I would rob the bakery." I lost a lot of excitement and work ethic while I was so sick for those few weeks, and I was feeling very sad starting this week. I realized that like Gordon B Hinckley, I needed to rededicate myself to my mission. I did a self inventory and realized that the root of this problem was in my personal commitment to honor my baptismal covenant. I was failing most in the part "Remember Jesus Christ always". There is a quote, I believe by Robert Frost that goes "A man will become what he thinks about all day." I was thinking more about the rush and state of busy-ness that we were in that I had forgotten what Jesus Christ has asked of us "What manner of men ought ye to be? I say unto you, even as I am." (3 Nephi 27:27). I became that type of person, and was not acting as a LOVING servant of Jesus Christ. I Decided to focus myself more in this part of my baptismal covenant and everything has changed. I decided to start reading "Jesus the Christ" by James E Talmage (I`m pretty sure that besides the book of Mormon it is one of the most inspired readings I have ever read in my life, I love it so much), I filled the spiritual craving that I had, but I haven't been satisfied, I have read about 10 chapters already, and my study of the Book of Mormon and The Bible have augmented too. I cant remember a time this week when I was not thinking about Christ or an aspect of his life. Also I had another pretty cool experience this week: We also received a Less Active referral to visit a non-member family. And we couldn`t have come at a better time. The family consists of a Mom (Kelly) who has a 15 year old daughter with a type of cancer that the future isn't looking too good. Her spouse left her a few days back for another woman. Kelly lives in a small concrete living room where they have partitions made with blankets. She supports alone her daughter, a 14 year old son, and her 86 year old mother by making lunches and selling it door to door. She has to travel a lot to Cartagena for medical visits and their living conditions are very poor for the low immune system daughter named Maria Jose. I remember well the process of Ava`s cancer treatment and how the gospel affected our lives for the better, and I talked with the mom. I remember how hard it was to feel happy and hopeful, and laugh...so I helped them out a bit there :). She said that it was the first time they had laughed as a family in about 3 weeks, and that she felt a very beautiful feeling enter in her house as we testified that families can be together forever. She and her daughter accepted a baptismal date, it was a great experience. I don`t know if I`m allowed to read it in the mission, but I want to read "The Miracle of Forgiveness", "The Infinite Atonement", "The Great Apostasy (James E Talmage)", "Articles of Faith (James E Talmage)", and finally "Day of Defense" but I believe Day of Defense is to combat other Churches doctrine, so I will read it after the mission. For now I am deep into the Book of Mormon for my 6th or 7th time and Jesus the Christ. Something cool, is that we Printed out some fotos of Temples as a District to show our Investigators their future goal. I printed out the following for me: Provo Templenacle, Provo, Bountiful (one of my all time favorites), Las Vegas (I am sealed to my family in that temple), Bogotà Colombia!, San Diego (I think I want to be sealed there), and Laie Hawaii. I am so excited to go to the temple after my mission, because I feel like I need to learn and follow more closely my covenants that I have made there as well. We will be moving into a new house this week, and It has been pretty cool talking people down in prices and looking all over town for our new apartment. I feel like Mom, because she is pretty good at that kind of stuff. And also Dad, I feel much more respect for you, because we gave a lesson on the Family Proclamation to a family. The Dad was being very irresponsible and drinking and spending all the families money on Poker and was hurting his good, humble wife. So I gave them a good hard talking to. He tried to use the excuse that "Eve was a help meet for Adam." I gave him a hard talking back when I said "Not a single part of the Bible says: The duty of the man is to watch Futbol all day while drinking their Aguila (Colombian beer) while the woman cooks and cleans. A help meet for man means that she was equaled to Adam in every aspect and capability and that they were perfectly and divinely matched to be the compatible base for the entire human race." That shut him up pretty quick so I kept going "During my childhood and time in my house, I never, Not ONCE saw my Dad come home from a full work day, throw himself onto the couch and ask "Where is my food, woman?", He came home and shared responsibility and duty completely with my Mom, and that is the reason why they never accepted failure in the house." He is a gruff, tattooed, tall man, who was a little buzzed while we talked to him, but he was on the verge of tears. He calmed down and went to sleep in another room, and the spirit abided with us that night. I am beyond thankful for what you guys provided for me, I am the man I am because I had 18 years to try and imitate my wonderful parents. Here's to an eternity more :D!

Out of the Frying pan...‏

This week has been pretty tough. I got out of one illness and another started. Out of the frying pan, and into the fire. This Wednesday I woke up with pain in my right testicle, I studied with my companion and we ended up calling the Health Secretary because the pain got a lot worse and it swelled up to about 3 times its normal size. They told me to go to Cartagena where they diagnosed me with an Epidydimus infection, and sent me home. It has since gotten better, but it has been a very painful week (I couldn't walk for about 3 days, and I was in bed), they were worried that it was something called Varicosela, that I was going to lose my testicle. It has been a hard week. Antonio didn't get baptized, because he is very nervous, but passed his interview and will be baptized very soon. The real miracle this week has been Wilminton: The other week Hermano Wilminton told us he had a few doubts and questions about the doctrine. He has been reading The Book of Mormon, the Bible, and Principles of the Gospel (Principios del Evangelio) together every night. Among other doubts He told us that he didn´t beleive that God had a body of flesh and bones and that God cant appear to man. I studied hard to answer those questions and the time came to resolve his doubts, I felt the spirit guide us and I didn't end up using what we had planned. We decided that transfiguration was required to have a experience seeing God, so the first doubt was resolved. As for the second he was pretty stubborn, until I had a quick little inspiration from the spirit. I told him "Do you beleive that God is omnipotent?" he responded of course. I told him that God would be a limited God if He didn't have a body, and that if He didn't have a perfect glorified body He would be limited too. He understood and said in the next moment that there was not any doctrine that we had that was not true, that he was ready to be baptized (he asked me if he could be baptized the same day!) And he told us in another visit that he could not deny it any longer, that the Book of Mormon was the word of God an equal to the Bible. This was a big step because at first he rejected the Book of Mormon, and wouldn't read it. He fulfilled the prophecy of Ezekiel 37:16-19 as he put the Bible in one hand and the Book of Mormon in the other and then put them in one hand and said "This the true word of God." Really, it is the written word that helps these people and we just stand back and watch the spirit testify of the rest! We had another rescue: Luzmerry Torres who now is planning on going to the temple and is going to have a calling soon! We really helped her change her life! Mom, I have so much more respect for you now, because I am practically my companion`s mom. He has never lived alone ever, and even though I have been in pain all this week I still had to do ALL the cooking and cleaning. Bleh. I am having a very rough time in my mission right now, and I am just waiting for the trials to pass to work towards my potential again. On another note, I don't know if you guys can look up Ciprofloxacin, because its the medicine I am taking and I think it has given me crazy emotions. I have had times this week where I said I was a little tired and as I was sitting down in a chair or bed I fell asleep for 2 hours. Other times I went to my room and shut the door and quietly cried for long periods of time and felt very alone. Other times I have gotten mad, and other times very happy and joke-y. I'm trying to control it the best I can, but it has been a very hard week. Also, our house has bats living between the roof and the ceiling, that are crapping all over the place and the ceiling panels, when they are shaken by bats leaves "bat powder" everywhere. President told me that this is extremely dangerous and I have had to talk with my landlord lots of times, but he is always drunk. I have had to verify with him that he was going to fix the Bat problem but never has-so we are feeling pretty trapped. Another note on the house-air conditioning doesn't exist here in Colombia practically. Another-the poor neighborhoods here have figure out how to steal the power to the "rich" houses, so we have been living in the night in the pitch black, with fans that don't work, and the house smells like bat poo and it is very hot, and our refrigerator leaks out and spoils the food because the power usually is out for about 8-24 hours at a time. This time in my mission I have learned to endure some stuff, but I am happy because Arjona has made me the way I am spiritually. Anyways, I hope you guys are well and enjoying the summer! I know I sure am (Summer 24/7 for 2 years).

June 22, 2015

Some pictures of my district! I was also a shepherd today because a bunch of goats decided to follow me, so I almost made Euros. The last picture is me and Elder Escobar fighting for Ice cream with Elder Effio in the background! :) This week has been the hardest of my mission. I have been very sick with a parasite for about 10 days now with nonstop diarrhea, high fever, lung inflammation, body fatigue, and lack of desire to eat. So I haven't eaten in about 3 days now, and I went down from 154 pounds to 144. A member gave me a crazy dose of Ibuprofen, and I slept the whole day, and haven't had any symptoms! I think the parasite finally got starved out, because I haven't eaten in like 4 days, and now I am super hungry so we ate Ice Cream as a district! I wrote a talk for church this Sunday, and never returned to finish it. This Sunday, I went up to the pulpit and was about to start the talk with the paper, but I felt the need to rip it up and throw it in the little garbage near the pulpit, and I gave a talk on the same topic as I was going to but, I did it ALL relying only on the spirit. It was on the Sabbath day and keeping it Holy, which I got to choose, because many of the members don't do it. It went great! I had 2 members of the congregation start to film me (which we had to tell them that they actually cant do that after), and afterwards the Bishop (who isn't usually very friendly with us)starting to congratulate me and we talked like good friends after, and a sister who has been a convert of 15 years told me it was one of the most inspirational talks that she had heard ever in Arjona! Wow! I know that Heavenly Father really does love us and we can be a part of his miracles! We have a baptism this Saturday! His name is Antonio Herrera, he is a single dad who is a poor vegetable seller in the street, but he is a very dignified person who loves his children very much and sacrifices a lot for them. He was hesitating on getting baptized, but recently decided to take this step, and he is very ready! As for Wilminton he has a few doubts that we are trying to get taken care of: 1. God has a body of flesh and blood 2. Tithing should be paid 3. Man can see God or has ever seen God 4. That he should be baptized only in the name of Christ (not father, Son, Holy Ghost) 5. That it is sin for a man to have relations with his OWN wife if it is just to show love and not to have kids. 6. That the Book of Mormon is real 7. That there is real need for a church (that he can be saved without a religious sect) 8. His family is spewing lies about the church. But they live in other parts of Colombia and Madrid Spain so we cant help them out. So yeah, we are really working hard to just get him a testimony of the Book of Mormon because if its true the rest is true. I want to show you guys a trick to teach the Book of Mormon that I developed recently working with some less actives and this is how it goes: 1.)Draw 7 circles that interconnect and make a chain lengthwise. 2.)First fill circle 1 with the names of everyone in the family 3.)Fill the last circle with the words "Eternal Life" (share John 17:3) 4.)(Share John 3:5) Only way to get to God is by getting baptized, but not in just any church. 4.)(Share Ephesians 4:5) one lord, ONE faith (or church), and one baptism. Now we have the one lord (eternal life), one baptism. What's missing? See Below 5.)One faith! (Share Ephesians 2:20 and 4:11-12) The Church that Jesus made had one Prophet and 12 Apostles 6.)(Share Hebrews 13:8) If He is the same yesterday today and forever...his church too? Of course! 7.)Now when Jesus and his Apostles died, the world fell into apostasy. 8.) But God called a new Prophet after 1820 years: Who could it possibly be? 9.)The Restored Church is the same church that Jesus had 2015 years ago. 10.)The proof that Joseph Smith is a Prophet is that he translated the Book of Mormon by the power of God. If its true the rest is too. ...We are only missing one link in our chain now: and its our personal testimony of The Book of Mormon. (Share the second to last paragraph of the Introduction) those who read the book, meditate in the hearts, and afterwards ask God specifically in a prayer if its true will know of its truth. And we will know afterwards that Joseph was a Prophet, that this is the only true church on the earth, that it is the same church as a long time ago, and that by baptizing ourselves and enduring to the end in this church we will have eternal life the Celestial Kingdom as a family. Literally, our Salvation ultimately comes down to our testimony of an object that fits in our own two hands! I will send a picture of how it should turn out!

June 15, 2015

So this week I have been pretty sick. Especially these past 3 days or so. I have had a high fever and a sinus infection and trouble breathing because of lung pain. And last night I slept 1 hour, and at 2 in the morning I woke up and went to the bathroom and had nonstop diarrhea for 1 hour. So it has been a hard week. I have been praying that Heavenly Father can make me an adequate trainer and District Leader, because sometimes I don't feel that way. This week, we didn't really have too many experiences because we were in meeting pretty much the whole week. But I received some great compliments. The first was in a meeting with the Presidents Assistants and they told me that my Area book is well known in Cartagena and Valledupar for being one of the most well done, neat, and diligent in the mission. Pretty sweet! Another, was in a multi-Zone meeting, I was invited to teach how to do a weekly planning session because I developed my own way of doing it that is faster, neater, and all around more efficient. Word got around to the President and he asked me to teach it. Wow! Another time, was while Elder Effio was teaching the Sunday School class on the Scriptures he said that he never gained a real love for the scriptures until he was my companion, and he said "I don't know of another missionary or member in general who loves the Book of Mormon more than Elder Manwaring." How cool is that? And also I had my interview with President Searle a few days ago, and he read me the analysis of me, that My zone leaders wrote, they said "The most humble North American we have come to know in the mission." So those parts of my week were pretty good! Hope you guys have a really great week, and continue to live what you believe, ask the kids what they think a testimony is, and if they think they have one. And help them be future missionaries! There is not a greater joy than that of missionary work!

This week in news...(June 7, 2015)

Well this has been a little harder of a week. I got the news that I would not be transferred, which was awesome! Woo Hoo! And they told me that I am the District Leader of Arjona, and that I am a trainer! But that Elder Effio would also be training in the other part of the area. I really enjoyed my time with Elder Effio. He told me the other day that of all the friends he has ever had in Peru, Argentina, and Colombia that I was his favorite! My new companion is fresh out of the MTC, he is from La Paz, Bolivia. His name is Elder Escóbar. It has been very tough for him this week. I walk very fast, I talk very fast, I don't eat very much, know the scriptures very well, and I'm used to the heat here. He has struggled in every one of these aspects. I had a hard time thinking of how to explain how my companion is, he speaks Spanish, but not very great Spanish. He has a speech impediment that he sounds like Sid the Sloth when he pronounces his S´s, TH´s, and CH´s and stutters and can´t speak fast. He is a good guy, and so I feel really bad that EVERY SINGLE person that we have talked to says "Are you recently learning Spanish?" to him, because he is SUPER hard to understand. Every 5-10 minutes he needs to stop and rest while we walk. But, that is the reason he has me as a trainer, right? ;) This week was good, we had 3 Rescues: 2 are an older Married couple that we rescued their daughter a few weeks earlier, and it was awesome to see all of them seated together in Sacrament Meeting. But this week, they had work to do constructing their new house and weren't sure if they would make it to church, and weren't very excited to see us or read their scriptures. But we had a great lesson with them when I asked them "When is Christ going to come again?" and they both responded "No one knows, not even the angels know." And I told them that I knew when. Our Savior will come tomorrow. They laughed a little, but its true, we should treat our Salvation not as a passing fad, or a temporary interest. If he comes tomorrow, what will I do today? They came to church, and are Rescued Members. I now have 8 rescues! Woo! Wilminton didn't make it to church so we were a little bit disappointed, but Dayana is super awesome! Its her birthday tomorrow, and so we have a surprise party/Family Home Evening planned for tonight! Here are some fotos also of my District: Elder Bravo, Elder Effio, Elder Escobar, and I. And I got a super awful short haircut today. Hmmmmpphhh. :)

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

BEST WEEK OF MY MISSION. So Far...‏

This week Dayana (the 10 year old girl from the story) was baptized! I baptized her, and it was awesome! We had a shortage of water, but she was baptized easily because she was short enough to be dunked. She was nervous at first, because she doesn't know how to swim, but I did the baptism well, and she said that she wants to do it again! A funny story is that I forgot the words to the baptism prayer and so I Started: "by the authority Melchizedek priesthood..." It was a little embarrassing but an awesome experience. She is so awesome! And we are waiting for the moment to baptize the rest of her family! Whoo! Another awesome experience is that we visited Wilminton 6 times this week! Pretty much every day! He told us that when he is talking with us, he feels like the only thing that is holding him back from being with God is his body! He was loving the lessons until the lesson about the restoration of the gospel through Joseph Smith. He had a very hard time accepting the lesson and also the doctrine of Baptism. We promised him that if he would just read the Book of Mormon he would find the answers he was looking for. He didn't read Wednesday, or Thursday, of Friday, or Saturday. But he woke up in what we would call in English a cold sweat Sunday at 2 in the Morning, and opened up his Book of Mormon to a random page. It just so happened that it was 2 Nefi 31, about Faith, Repentance, and Baptism. He stayed up reading for about an hour he said. Now we will go back in time a little bit again...Friday he told us that he would not be able to go to church because he is a Fumigator, and had to fumigate a house at the same time as church. Well, after reading that chapter in the Book of Mormon he resolved to go to church that Morning, so he fumigated the house at about 3-4 in the morning, didn't sleep, and came to church. He was blessed for his efforts too! The class was about the same topic that he had read that exact morning! He was crying all over again, saying that God designed it that way for him! Our Ward Mission Leader spoke with him and us afterwards, the spirit was strong as a humble disciple of God named Wilminton, who rejected the Book of Mormon a day earlier testified to us in powerful testimony that it was true! We ended with a prayer, and I was crying, he was crying, our ward mission leader was crying. It was a great Sunday! Also, yesterday, we visited Dayana and her family. I don't remember if I told you guys, but this is the family (the Family Campos Teran) where the dad said the closing prayer, and the family and I felt like there was a presence in the center of the circle. It is the most special family I have known in my mission. I love them so much! We talked about temples, and the Dad said that if it took him all of his life to get there, he would do it! They both want to be baptized so much, but need to get married first! But they already have the goal to get to the Temple! I am a lot happier! My companion is one of my best friends of all my life! We are a powerful companionship! Thanks so much for the package Mom! I was so happy to receive it, and it was awesome to read the letters! Have a great week! It's transfers today, so I will tell you next Monday what happens. Love You all!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Happy Week!‏

Day of Stake Conference! Me with a smallish Cat with a smallish amigo at my side. This week was great! One of the best that I have had in a long time! We got to hear from two General Authorities this week, one of which is Elder Godoy from Brazil that gave a talk in Portuguese in October General Conference last year. It was awesome! He said that the reason we are in the mission is firstly to learn from our Mission President and his wife. It's awesome because I think my mission Parents are both very spiritually powerful people, just like my Mom and Dad. Anyway, I had a great experience this week, that made me feel like you (Dad) were right there with me: This week we had two exchanges, one with my Zone Leader and one with a newbie. But when my companion and I were together we had some very great spiritual experiences! First off, I remember when you told me how on your mission you found a kid by the street whose bike chain had broken. You knew how to fix it, and sent the kid on his way. Afterwards, you guys contacted a nearby apartment building, and if I remember right not a single person let you guys in except for an older lady and her family because they saw what you had done for the boy in the street. Lots of them were baptized. This Friday I had a similar experience when I saw a boy in the street with his broken bike. It was very dark outside and we were in a very dangerous part of our Area called Cara Perro. I had been taught by you how to fix various parts of a bike, and we helped him get back home. His Grandparents were anxiously awaiting him, and when we came his Grandpa started to cry a little. "I knew this day would come again." he said. We found out that he was an inactive member from Tolima, Colombia that hadn't gone to church in about 10 years. He was waiting for the missionaries to find him and get his life out of the gutter. We taught them and the boy, they accepted baptismal dates, and he wants to come back to church. He told us it was the best day he has had in 10 years. Wow! Dad, thanks for being such an example to me, of how a missionary should be! I am proud to say that you are my Dad, and hope that I can pass on our mission legacy to my own sons! After this experience we went to the home of a family that is very special to me. We taught about baptism and they are so happy, waiting for the day when they can actually do it! We asked the daughter (who will be baptized this Saturday) who she wanted to baptize her. She is awesome because she reads to her parents from the Book of Mormon every day, she prays often, and she has walked about 2 miles to church (without her parents) with her one year old sister in arms. And she is only 10 years old! She picked me even though she can't pronounce my name well, and it was such a great feeling, because I really love that family so much! And right after that we went home, but we didn't have keys to the house. We were locked out and had to call the owner of the house to bring the keys and let us in our own house. But he came, and helped us in. He was about to leave, when he stopped, came back and asked us "What do you guys preach?" I told him that we preach repentance. He told us he was tired of his life: he is divorced, is a heavy drinker every night, sleeps during the day, and has various girlfriends. He asked us "You guys wouldn't happen to have some sort of a program for a person like me, would you?" We gave him The Word of Wisdom pamphlet and we are excited to teach him the Tuesday! The other day we gave out a Pamphlet of the Plan of Salvation to an uninterested woman. Her husband found it, and decided to attend church the next morning. He quickly found out that we were all going to Cartagena for Stake Conference, and he asked if he could come too. He went all the way to Cartagena, and sat with us. He was crying so hard afterwards, and he hugged us and said "This is what I have been searching for all my life! It wasn't by accident that this pamphlet came into my hands!" We visited him a few hours later in his house. He had soda and crackers ready for us, he had cleaned his house, and invited all his family to listen. We taught the Restoration and the whole family accepted a baptismal date! Wow! His name is Wilminton. I am glad that you guys are reading the book of Mormon together. If you are in Helaman 12 you will soon be reading a verse that I like a whole lot. Helaman 13:38, it says that we should not search for happiness where we know we cannot find it. In 2 Nephi 2:26 it says that we were made to have joy. But there is a difference between joy and excitement. Someone can feel excited doing drugs, but its temporary. There is no use for temporary things because we are not temporary things. Joy is something that l a s t s. We search out joy in daily family scripture study, sharing the gospel with the neighbors, doing FHE, going to church, paying tithing. Its the reason, Mormons are so happy!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Go to the Rescue

The road to Las Piedras. This is a fried stuffed potato, they are delicious! My companion after tasting Noni Juice. My pants that were waaay to big for me before my mission. Me with a Loro in a Family home evening yesterday! This week really has been great! Elder Effio continues to progress leaps and bounds, and we are really good friends here in the mission, which is awesome because I haven't had a whole lotta luck with companions until him! We visited a Recent Convert named Maria and we had Family home evening there. They have a big forest for a back yard so we had a fire, I brought cookies and soda, and we had a great message prepared. Well news spread like a wildfire that the Mormons were in the neighborhood, and that they had food. Where Maria lives it is extremely poor, so food is short in these houses. A group of about 30-40 kids from the neighborhood showed up. These kids were very skinny, some malnourished, and their clothes were pretty worn. They are from a very backwards culture where it is acceptable and encouraged to yell, swear, and all that. So we did the family home evening, but it was so irreverent that we could not even say one word. My companion got so frustrated that he refused to talk or help me out when I asked. I controlled the situation saying that I was going to throw the cookies into the fire of everyone who talked out of turn, and it worked! They were quiet! It was pretty funny because we have another convert named Francisco who taught a small lesson to all the kids about how to pray. He started with a question "how many of you kids love God?" "ME!!!" all of them replied. "Good, now shut up and listen to what I have to say." is what he said next. I was almost crying because I was laughing so hard. It was a very costeño way of saying Pay Attencion :) Also I wanted to see if you can send me the recipe for the chocolate caramel crackers. I have been craving them badly, and wanting to make them for Family Home Evening here. Ava is so cute, with her cute hair and the things she likes to do, and say! This week we did not visit a single investigator, not even one. We searched out as many Less Actives as we could. President Monson has asked us to "Go to the Rescue", and we took it very literally this week, as we found about 25-30 less actives, and found out what has been holding them back for so long. One lady named Luzmerry hadn't gone to church in about 10 years, and we found her house by accident, searching for another less active. We gave a small, but very powerful lesson. She said that she was feeling the spirit again while we taught...but that it was not her time to come back to the church. I told her that we do not choose our "time" to do anything in the Church. If it were different, God would not have picked a 14 year old boy to be the Prophet of the Restauracion. He would not pick 18 year old young men to serve missions. He would not allow normal people with obvious flaws to run the only true and living church on the face of the Earth. He picks these people because he understands their potential to grow every day. I told her that Christ remembers and keeps watch over his sheep, that he carefully plans the way he will bring them back to his fold. She was very emotional, and it was a beautiful experience. We taught her and her daughter the Restauracion later in the week. Her daughter accepted a baptismal date AND...(drumroll please)...THEY CAME TO CHURCH THIS SUNDAY! ¡Que Felicidad! And they loved every minute of it! Among other Less Actives we met a woman who wont go to church because she blesses the sacrament in her own house, a woman who is a pastor in another church that teaches some gospel principles in her church, about 6 women who left the church because of one lady in the church, one that thought he had to pay tithing every Sunday even when he didn't have work, a woman who said that the bishop stopped giving them food after 2 or 3 years of living off the Bishops Store House and she didn't want to get a job, and others who simply didn't get visited by missionaries or members. But we had 16 Less Actives come to church, and 10 investigators. And I taught the Gospel Doctrine class for the first time, it was awesome! Anyways, I love you all and pray for your success in everything! Have a great week filled with the Spirit, and get to know the neighbors with the missionaries.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Being Led

Elder Puchoc, A Tuteca on my Plaque, Ma Shoe, Ma Canon, Cartagena de Indias Skyline, My companion and I in Cartagena... It was awesome talking with you guys yesterday too! Everyone looks so good and happy! President Searle took the other missionaries out of our area because we had more missionaries leave in the last transfer than missionaries that came into the mission, and the "pueblos" are the first to lose missionaries if there is a shortage. Anyway, I am really happy for that small Ava, her voice is still really cute and small but many things are changing for all of the kids and its definitely interesting to see how everyone is growing. I am sleeping really well, and eating well. I feel a little more healthy than I have been in other transfers in the mission. But also I took the Shakira toothpaste 14 day challenge (yesterday was day 7) so maybe, I don't know...it was that Shakira shine! Haha! This week I have had a pretty successful good week! Here are some experiences I have had: This week was awesome because we focused more on the less active members and we have not been thinking very much in investigators. I have been praying for the Lord to place Less Actives in our path so that we can teach them (because there are about 400 less actives in the ward, and none of them have addresses), and I had a great experience of success this week: We were walking home from a neighborhood that is a little bit dangerous, so we don't usually talk to anyone at night there. But as we were walking, for a moment, I felt as though my own footsteps were not mine, and I walked right up to a lady and her child that were going to pass us by in the opposite direction. I didn't know how I got there, and I hadn't wanted to talk to anyone, but there I was. I didn't know what to say, and my mouth was wide open in surprise, so I just said "uhhh...uhh...¿Hola?" and we found out afterwards that she was an inactive member that wants to baptize her children in the church, and return to the church herself! I was so grateful (a little embarrassed at first) that my Heavenly Father literally made us talk with them! Another experience of success is actually a string of experiences. The other Sunday, my companion admitted to me that he doesn't remember the last time he felt the spirit, or if he has even ever felt it. So I made it my goal to pray in every personal prayer for him to gain a testimony and feel the spirit. Wednesday we started our companionship study and I decided to make it centered on how to recognize the Spirit, and I taught him how we feel it. He really grew in that moment. Then, later this week, this Saturday we had 3 very spiritually powerful lessons in a row. He said that those 3 lessons penetrated his heart more than maybe any other, and he said that he has a testimony of what we teach. We were both pretty emotional, and it made us a stronger companionship! We are changing the way we work to include more less actives and less investigators. We have the promise of the Prophet that if we do this, we will have more baptisms. Anyway, I am going to send lots of Fotos after this Email, but I hope you guys have a really great week! Love you mucho!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Having a Good Attitude

Things have been tough this week and we are a little bit stressed out. My companion really is a good guy, he likes to talk A LOT in lessons, but he is a good person and I am privileged to work with him. I can't believe I am already a third of the way done either. I had a dream that it was already time to go home, and it got me in a funk the whole day, because in the dream I felt like I had accomplished nothing as I left Colombia. But It makes me want to work much harder. We had a little bit of a hard time this week, because the Bishop got mad at me in front of the ward council saying that I only work hard for Baptisms and not for Rescues. It is hurtful because I try to work very hard for everyone. Unfortunately we don't have as much time to visit the other area that we inherited, and there are people that are not coming to church. Arjona has been an infamously sinful place in the past with missionaries, and now my companion and I are obligated to clean up the area. We are losing attendance faster than we are gaining it, and the missionaries take the blame. Anyway, we went to Las Piedras again and I had a great experience. It was just me and another member (we did splits) and we met up with a investigator names Miladys (ME-LAW-DEES) and we shared with her the message of the restauracion. She told us that she believes that it is true, she told us that before we shared with her that the same church that existed 2015 years ago exists today she felt something inside of her say "These next 5 minutes will be the most important up to this point in your life." She said she didn't know if Eternal Life existed, let alone that she could participate in it with her family. It was very powerful. We have planned the baptism of Alejandra this week again. But her Mom is what is stopping her from getting baptized. We are going to need all the help we can get, and only our Heavenly Father can give it. With Erlinda, we don't know, because she had her arm operated on, and she gets her stiches taken out this Tuesday, and possibly her baptism this Saturday. She also needs a lot of Prayer for her decision to follow Christ more fully in her life. I really love the people of the coast, but this week has been pretty frustrating for me. I only have one baptism even though I try so hard to be obedient, diligent, and have a good attitude. I know that the mission is not numbers, I know that the worth of ONE soul is great to God (DC 18:10), but I feel like we haven't saved so many souls even though I love them so much, and it makes me so sad to see people that have become my family not want their own Salvation as much as I want it. Or even more importantly: as God wants it. Don't get me wrong, the mission is the best thing that has happened to me, but I don't want to waste it. I want to get lost in it. Anyway, thanks for all your support. It helps me move forward with a better attitude to do my duty as a servant to my Heavenly Father. I love him more than anything. And I love you guys so much. I pray for your continual safety and success in everything.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

New Companion and such...‏

My Guajira Indian Shirt... Last district going Bowling... My new Companion, Elder Effio... I am still here in Arjona, but my previous companion got transferred to Cartagena! I am free! Everything is going pretty good. It's been a crazy last transfer, and was pretty tough with Elder Puchoc. He taught me a lot about humility, tolerance and compassion. I have changed so much in the last Transfer, I wouldn't change the experience I had for anything. I learned more about myself and my weaknesses in this last month than any other. I am now the Senior Companion, and things are much more tranquillo. We work really hard, about 10 lessons per day, but we also enjoy each others company. My new companion is awesome, and he likes to talk a lot in lessons. Elder Effio is Peruvian also (3rd in a row) but lived in Argentina for the last 6 years. He is a recent convert of almost 2 years. Very nice guy! He is a lot like Nick, he does some things a little funny because he is still a very new member, but he is very concerned for the welfare of others. But we will be great companions now that I have learned much more of humility. I'm doing really good, I feel like we are taking on the Bishop's duties (because our Bishop isn't coming to church always), and so all of his duties get passed on to us. So we are a little stressed out, but I have never gotten to know Jesus Christ more than I am now (with the exception of little Ava). Recently a member who served his mission in Cali told me "If I could go back to the mission, I would use the power that God gave me more fully. I would call groups of 100 people to repentance, because I have God on my side." It made me think "What am I doing with Gods power?" We left their house, and we walked past an open air bar/really loud music place. I had the strong feeling to stop and call the group to repentance as though God was saying This is your chance! So, I followed Dad's example from his mission and called an entire bar to repentance. It was a very brave moment in my life, as there were about 50-60 people in the bar getting really drunk. I introduced myself and my companion, explained what we do, and invited them to repent and change their lives. We then gave out ALL of our pamphlets of repentance and the Word of Wisdom with our names and numbers on the back. Mission Accomplished :D It was pretty sweet. Something interesting with Erlinda is that we gave her a blessing of health because she got pretty sick. When I did the first part of the blessing the house and everything outside when silent, and there was a strong power that dominated the room. My companion Elder Effio gave the second part and it was also very powerful. The Mom said after "That was a prayer of Faith." Something very, very weird for her to say since she is anti-mormon. We came back the second time during the week, and the Mom said that "it was thanks to the blessing, that Erlinda is healing very rapidly", and she accepted the Baptism for this Saturday! I was district leader for 3 days, but President Searle took all of the other missionaries out of Arjona so I am in charge of the personal salvacion of ALL of Arjona and Las Piedras. I inherited all of their Invesigatores, Less Actives, And Recent Converts. We are very busy with running two areas and two pueblos. I am very lost in their area, and this week has been really tough, but I am trying to be patient because I know the lord blesses those who trust in Him. I love you all so much, and am so proud of the progress I hear from my awesome siblings.You are the best parents an Elder could have. ALL of the parents of my companions are separated and it makes me appreciate you guys so much in my life! I pray for you guys daily and nightly and hope you are all reading your scriptures. I am almost done reading the Book of Mormon for the 4th time. I believe in the Bible but hardly ever use it, but I've read it once now in the mission. But the Book of Mormon is the key to a rock solid testimony and Family!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Floods and Rescues

Another week down! We had a storm yesterday. Like, a real, tropical thunderstorm and the streets flooded over, and the trees fell over, with naked kids running wild in the streets. This week was a little bit tough. We found out that Erlinda's Mom is anti-mormon and she had the main Pastor of Arjona ready for us in our first visit this week. All he did was argue nonstop until we found out that he (the principal Catholic Pastor of all of Arjona) hardly believes in God or Jesus Christ or Prophets or anything. We bore testimony and all he could do was remain silent for about 3 minutes straight. Erlinda didn't get baptized this week because her Mom forced her not to. Pray for her! We also had 3 Less Actives that we "rescued". Its like baptizing them all over again. We taught 258 lessons and committed 124 people to baptism this last 6 weeks. We led the mission again for people coming to church and Rescues. Wow! Tell Nate that you guys should cook something Colombian, and give it in class. I learned this week to make Patacones which are crushed fried plantains (salted). Also deditos and empanadas are really common in the streets. We also made concrete blocks for about 3 hours, and it was the most exhausting work of my life. Literally, we were wiped out and sore for all this week. But we did it for a man who wasn't making enough for his family to not work Sundays. He came to church with all of his family and they will all be baptized this coming month, after their wedding which we are planning. I have learned to gain Christ-like attributes more in this last month than most of my mission. I have also grown an immense love for the scriptures, which I hope to carry all of my life! I don't have much time! But Know that I love you all, and pray for you often!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Humility and Work

This week I have rededicated myself to a new level of missionary work. I am trying to be more humble. It started with simply telling God in my prayers that in everything that we have accomplished the glory was His. We started having more success. We had a record high 50 lessons and we are now leading the mission for lessons taught in a week, lessons taught with a member, investigators attending church, and Less Actives attending church also. God did it all, we just walked and opened the door for the spirit to enter into these peoples homes.This week was better. My companion and I are realizing our weaknesses and growing a lot as a team in Christ. "We have worked many mighty miracles in this land for which we will praise HIS name forever" -Alma 26:12. The mission scripture of Elder Manwaring. First experience of this week, we met up with a family of investigators that recently lost their job and their Daughter got sick with Dengue Fever. It got very serious to the point where she was shaking in the hammock in their living room and screaming in pain. The family did not have enough money to buy food, let alone the required medicine for her fever. I remembered a scripture, when Peter and the other Apostles entered the temple where a man was begging for money. Peter said that he didn't have money, but what he DID have, he would give. He gave him a Priesthood Blessing, and the stricken man "leaped" from where he was seated. The Lord did the same in that small concrete living room for that little girl. We gave her a blessing, and she fell asleep after having been awake for more than a day straight in pain. We gave the lesson, and when we left she had no evidence of any type of sickness, and hasn't had symptoms afterwards. Christ lives, and He works miracles. I am happy to say that I am a witness to both. Later in the week, we met up with an investigator named Erlinda. We asked her if she had read the chapter in the Book of Mormon that we had left her. She had read all of the assignments that we had left previously, and so it wasn't a surprise when she said that she did, just a little. Well, she did read. We left Alma 39. She read 38-42, and marked up all the pages! She explained that she just couldn't get herself to stop! She explained that recently she had lost a friend, and had a couple of questions for God. She read Alma 40 by accident, but knew that it wasn't "by accident". She said that God was answering her questions. She had her third church attendance this Sunday, and will be baptized this Saturday.Pray for her! She is awesome! :D This week I had an intercambio (exchange) with a newbie Elder and I had the feeling to skip a planned lesson and visit a straw hut as we passed by it. We entered into the backyard of a house to get to the hut, and we talked with the family there. One of the girls is deaf. The Mom almost got baptized 2 years ago, and the Dad is inactive. I felt as though the spirit led me to the house. I had never seen it before, but I walked straight to it as though I were not in charge of my own body. It was a cool experience. I'm glad that the pizza was awesome! I miss real pizza. The pizza here is crap. But at least we have salchipapas (the reason I am now fat :) have lost my six-pack, gained about 20-25 pounds, I am 2 inches taller than the last time you guys saw me, and so yeah. I have never enjoyed working so hard, and the time is flying by! I hope that work is going well for you guys and you are reading scriptures together. You guys should make it really fun, make the verses come alive, and it will become a part of their lives. I wish I had developed my testimony of the Book of Mormon better before my mission. Now I know it like the back of my hand! Tell me if Lauren decides to go on a mission. If she does tell her to study Chapter 10 of Preach my Gospel. And daily scripture study. And tell me where the guys in the ward are going on their missions. Lauren and Nick are making gigantic leaps in their lives, and I am proud of them. Hope all is well in Zion. We are building it here in Arjona. I love you all more than any language can express.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Semana Santa‏/Easter

This week was a little better than the last. The people here do not really celebrate Easter. They celebrate Semana Santa. Holy Week. It is really just an excuse for everyone to get really drunk. And in every house they make "dulce". Which is paste, like a consistency of Peanut Butter, but made of straight up sugar and whatever they can find around the house. Dulce de: Arroz, guandú, Ñame, Mango, Papaya (crap), Leche and so on. We also watched General Conference (the first time ever that Arjona had it broadcasted in the chapel), but just about every talk had lots of pauses due to internet issues. I got very sick and vomited during the Saturday Session (Because of all the Dulce). I heard those who opposed the Prophet which makes me sad that some people cannot follow the prophet. we can see the consequences of not following the prophet through the scriptures. This week was pretty good. I had an interview with President and Sister Searle and I felt a lot better about my outlook on missionary service and companionship. I read the chapters of Alma 59-61 that Presidente Searle asked me to. He told me that I will need to suffer with pacience just like Pahoran suffered with Moroni. It was powerful to see two strong leaders see past their differences and unite to defend what mattered most to them. There is a talk that I read from years back that said something to the effect of: if you don't love someone it is because you have not served them enough. I said to myself at first, "I serve my companion everyday!" But I tried even harder to serve him. I am still the happier missionary of us two. I realized that my companion maybe isn't enjoying his mission very much. We got along better this week. While things aren't perfect, I am enjoying my mission more than ever. I studied my Patriarchal Blessing, and two words found within it: Compassion and Tolerance, is what I need to gain to be an effective companion. I have put it into practice and we are steadily becoming more united to defend what matters most to God. The Famlily. This conference was centered on the family and I wanted to know what I could do now to have a strong spouse and family in the future. The guidance of church leaders is the best remedy for wanting to improve, and now I know what I can do to change. We decided to spontaneously put aside our plans for this last Friday, because I felt very strongly that we should visit a town that is pretty far from where we live, and work there. This town had never heard of the church nor even seen a missionary! The whole town seemed to want to talk to us! We programmed 9 people for baptism, and all of them attended church together, along with about 6 or 7 more people that they had invited! We had 20 investigatores listening to the words of a Prophet! One in every 6 people there in the Arjona ward building was an invesigator! They enjoyed conference and a ward lunch and it really brought the ward family together. After conference, my companion and I visited a family of young converts and their parents. We taught the message of the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We had their attention well captivated and they had several great questions. The spirit was strong in the house. We asked the Dad to give the closing prayer. We all kneeled down and he started praying. He asked if the Church was true and if Joseph Smith was a prophet. As he did I felt as though the room had changed, even though I didnt open my eyes to see. It was just us in the room, but it felt to me as though there was a loving presence in the center of the circle as he prayed. He ended the prayer and one of his children said "I think that Jesus Christ was here. Just for a couple of seconds. I felt like there was a light in the middle of us as we prayed." The Mom immediately said "You felt it too? I knew that there was something in the middle of the circle, and it was bright and warm!" The Dad also felt it, and described the peace he felt after. They were all very emotional, as was I :). They told us as we left "We have felt a little portion of the light every time you guys come. But now we felt the whole thing." I told them that even THAT is a small portion of the spirit we will feel with God in his kingdom. A very powerful experience. I hope you guys had a really great Easter and ANNIVERSARY! Woo hOO! You guys look awesome with the temple in the background. Literally no one is married here, much less sealed in a temple. They do not go on dates. They do not show affection to their children, and so their children grow up to be adults quick. So they are noisy, drinking, and crazy young adults. I appreciate more than ever what you guys have done for me, because I never felt like you guys didn't love me! Thanks for all you do! 20 years compared to La eternidad, only a small portion of the adventures you guys will have together!I want my siblings to focus on things that matter and not miss me so much! I have thought a lot about you guys this week, I am really proud to be your son and represent two names... the name of my Savior Jesus Christ and my last name of Manwaring. Two names that have influenced my life! I know that we have a loving Heavenly Father that watches out for us. I know that Jesus Christ lives and that he died for us. The two experiences in my life so far that testify of this was watching Ava battle cancer, and being on my mission and witnessing people every day reject Christ, as well as those who embrace Him. As the hymn says "Oh it is wonderful that He should care for me enough to die for me." I really am having the best mission a missionary could ever have. Happy Anniversary! Thanks for being the best parents ever!

March 30, 2015

Neither one of Domingo or Alejandra got baptized this week, because where Alejandra lives there was an assassination and all of this week the neighborhood is on lockdown. There are people walking around with machetes, and there is a hired gang with assault rifles that look and talk like the Pirates in "Captain Phillips" walking around that wont let the people leave. With Domingo, there were thieves in his neighborhood and he was robbed. His daughter also was recently found on the streets: a drug addict, who is pregnant. And so he was in Cartagena where the daughter is receiving medical attention. With my companion things were going well. But now our situation is identical to when Buzz Lightyear (me) came to Andy's (Elder Puchoc) room the first day. Elder Puchoc has been in Arjona for 6 months, and knows all the members. I came in, with new ideas, desires to work, and a personality that gets along with the ward well. Needless to say it was a rough week, and I, for the first time in about 5 months or so missed home. I love the work, and realized that the Savior felt more alone than I ever have when his own apostles abandoned and denied him, and all of the world (who he served all of his life) hated him. And yet he died even for them. "They know not what they do." This week was great in the lessons however! To start off we had an experience of success here in Arjona. We met up with a less active guy named Samir. When we walked into the house he had the TV in the doorway and was watching a pornographic video. We immediately turned our backs to the door and asked him to turn it off. He did, and we started up a lesson about the Law of Chastity. We didn't know it, but he is addicted, crazily addicted to Pornography. We talked about the commandment, and he understood. Afterwards we created a plan of Addiction Recovery. And after, I asked him to find all the videos in his house that had this garbage. He searched all of his house, and after 10 minutes had found about 50 DVDs worth of it. I told him, "As missionaries, we have not come to bother or frustrate the natural man...we have come to kill it." And we asked him to break the DVDs and throw it away. The spirit came back to the house as we broke Satan´s plan in that living room (with his permission). We met up with him 2 days later, and he said that he hasn't watched anymore and had an interview with the Bishop to prepare for a mission. :D Another experience we had was with an inactive woman that hasn't been responsive to the lessons. She just kinda sits there, and doesn't like to participate. And her understanding of the lessons is low despite our efforts. We decided to find more of her "necesidad". After a few minutes and questions, She revealed to us that her husband beat her and left her without notice. I knew that the "necesidad" extended farther than just that. After some more questions she started crying really hard and said "I don't know why I am still living. I don't do anything all day. My life doesn't have a purpose. And I am waiting to die." She is 45 years old. We taught a special lesson about the Atonement and the talk by Jeffery R Holland called "Totalmente Solo". She was crying hard the whole lesson, and said that she hadn't felt the spirit like that in about 5 years. It was a beautiful experience! I am glad that Lauren got asked to Prom! I regret that I never did, but its great that Lauren has that experience. And Sam is a good dude. Tell him that I approve of Laurens date ;). I'm also glad that everything went so well for Nick in the play! I remember some of his first ones, and they were powerful performances! I want him to continue doing it so that I can watch some plays from him when I get back! And congratulations to you Mom for the ASL test! I hope you can jump back into it very well! We will do Skype on Mother's day! I already have it planned to call you guys that day :). Hope everything goes well with the family this week! Read the scriptures as a family every night. It is what sets us apart from the world, because many other religions are not acquainted with their own doctrine. But not a Latter Day Saint. The work goes on! Love you all so much!

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Work Rolls Forward

The work is rolling forward in Arjona! We ended the week with 30 people with a baptismal date, and 7 of them came to church. We have possibly 2 baptisms this week. The first is Alejandra Polanco. She is 14 years old. I have a rule here in the mission not to proselyte to children until the age of 18. And many times the women until 25, because of the cultures of the Caribbean Coast. But Alejandra would be the only exception to this rule, because she is truly above her years in knowledge and maturity and goes to church every Sunday without fail. She lives far from the main street in Arjona. In one of the poorest neighborhoods in Arjona called Las Margaritas. She and her family (of 6) live in a two room mud and brick "house" that currently has no roof. The parents can't read. The majority of the poor people that we meet, and even some of the rich ones can't read. She can read really fast, and understands. She will have her interview this Tuesday, and she has the testimony of the Gospel to pass. The other is Domingo Acevedo. He is a divorced man, that doesn't drink or smoke (which is a miracle here in the coast), and he works as a chef in a small poor restaurant on the outskirts of Arjona. He was invited by a friend to church, who is a recent convert, and he goes to church every Sunday (he should... his name in English literally means Sunday!). He has the understanding level of a 11-12 year old even though he is 53 years old. We cannot baptize people that don't understand the concept of Repentance. He understands it, and lives it. He is not the smartest, but knows that he feels good in the church, and goes. He knows that it is true. We teach the discussions from the children's section of the Liahona, and such. But he understands it. This week we led the zone in every single aspect (called indicators). The work is going well here. To be a consecrated missionary you need to know how to work with the people you teach, and teach them in a way that relates with their culture, and that they understand. The coast of Colombia is known by all of Latin America by the word Corroncho. It means lazy, drinks a lot, loud, jokes around, is forgetful of their commitments, is strong Catholic, and speaks with a strong slur. A consecrated missionary here needs to try in lessons to be more funny, laid back, and loud while teaching the doctrine, or they literally will not understand it. I have tried it 100 different ways and this is the most effective. Arjona is dirt roads, no cars, 95 degrees with 85 percent humidity. The hottest in the mission. The running of the bulls happened, and we were surprised how many drunks there were in the streets. Literally hundreds. There are beautiful horses that are parading around town, and in every corner they sell the Vallenato sombrero and Aruana, which Is like a scarf. My visa expires early in September of 2016, so every 5th I celebrate another month. I have almost 7 months in the mission! The time really is flying by for me, and I love it. We had a good meeting on Sunday. I gave a talk because the guy who was supposed to come, didn't. I gave a talk that was aimed at various parts of the Ward. Our Bishop is hesitant to work, and we haven't had a Ward Council in a long time. Our members do not read the Book of Mormon. Most people here do not read, much less read the Book of Mormon. And the members are mean and start up rumors against each other but we are working to help them out. I hope this week is good, and that you guys continue to read the Book of Mormon together. I wish I had more time than just 2 hours to read it per day. Love you all.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Area Transfer to Arjona

This week was the 234th birthday of Arjona, and Vallenato is popular here too. So I bought a Vallenato sombrero! I am super happy to hear that everything is still going well with Ava! It really is a miracle that has brought us to together as a family a lot! She is so little and cute! Tell her she is like a Little Rapunzel. I was transferred out of Valledupar. I am in an Area close to Cartagena. It is the hottest part of all the mission. It is pueblo, so it is poor and so it is dirt roads, jungle, desert, people ride horses and mules to get around, and it is pretty dangerous. This week they will hold a running of the bulls, which is only legal here in Arjona. My companions name is Elder Puchoc from Peru. He is extremely quiet, and the members don't have as much trust in him. But he is very obedient, and humble and is a good person. When I arrived in the area, we had 2 people with baptism dates, and he had little excitement to work. I changed that. We programmed 17 people for baptism this week, 5 of which I programmed at the same time, its a familia grande! He is starting to work hard too, and we have lots of plans for the ward. Everyone here is a convert, because the church started in Arjona in 1998. No one knows what a real ward should be like, and so the sacrament meeting felt like an evangelical or Baptist fusion with LDS. It was a little weird. My area now is very poor. Extreme poverty poor. The family (9) that we programmed lives in one room that is made of dirt and pieces of random wood. They use the bathroom outside, and have a pack of wild dogs that lives nearby. But they are prepared to hear the Gospel. I asked my companion if we could open up a new area in a neighborhood called Cara de Perro (Dogface) which is known for being dangerous in Arjona. He didn't want to very much, but I felt like we should. We went, and programmed about 10 people for baptism, and if there are people with machetes or knives in the streets, we talk to them first and shake hands with them. Now, when we enter the neighborhood, there are a bunch of our amigos! They love us there! Granted some of them are drunk...but the area is really receptive! The whole neighborhood says "Missionaries!" when we pass by! We helped 4 investigators go to church, and 7 less actives too. One of the less actives was a lady who left the church during a time in her life where her sister was very sick, and she asked the quorum of elders to visit her, and they didn't, and her sister died without a priesthood blessing. I felt prompted to tell her that even though she left the church and denied it was true, that God hadn't abandoned her and still wants her to enter his Kingdom, and that she received the Holy Ghost, and has the Right to two things: feel the promptings of the spirit again, and reunite with her sister in the Celestial Kingdom. She was crying hard, and it was beautiful to hear afterwards "I have always known it was true. God knows that I know it, and now I know that he still loves me even after denying it for all these years." I also pray for you guys. But it feels like everything that happened before the mission doesn't exist. We watched Rise of the Guardians the other Pday, and I felt like Jack when he realizes that he had a family and a life before being a guardian. Anyway, the work goes on. We have a girl that is going to be baptized soon named Alejandra. She is also an investigator of gold like Katherine. And only has 13 years! Wow! Hope everything goes really well back home! I'm happy to see that everyone there is happy. I am too :)

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Life en la Costa Caribeña‏

This week went by really fast for me! It wasn't the greatest week, but we worked hard anyway! We had one of the best lessons I have given in my life with Nilson and Carmen about why the Book of Mormon and the Bible compliment each other. They were knocked over with shock at the lesson, and Nilson said that he believed what we said because he felt it. Neither of them came to church though, and we were pretty sad for that. Karen is too ill with her depression to comprehend the lessons,but the family still loves us a lot. Luis got sick with Chikungunya and couldn't come. But we had a lesson with his two sisters, and in the middle of the lesson I had the impression to change the whole lesson. I told them the story of Peter and Jesus. Jesus said "do you love me?" two times to which Peter responded "you knowest that I love you", and after he said "feed my sheep" I told them that every time the missionaries ask people to commit to something its because God loves them and wants what's best for them, and He asks us the same question with every commitment. "Do You love me Wendy/Yaritza Polo?" "You knowest that we love you" Then God tells us "Go to my church/read my scriptures/talk to me daily and nightly in prayer". They both came to church and Wendy was "rescued" or is active in the church again. I have also reactivated a separated mother whose child doesn't want to see her again. We had 6 less actives come to church this Sunday. And the Bishop told us "I know that cambios(transfers)are this Monday, but you guys are the 4 best missionaries this ward has had in years, possibly forever". We were pretty happy afterwards. I am very happy. I have focused on only three things: the people, the Lord, and becoming consecrated. I feel like I was born into the mission, and that life before the mission almost didn't exist. It is weird. But good. I have quite literally never been happier in all of my life. I'm so glad that I am an example to Nick. I want him to change the list to say "Be like Jesus Christ" instead of "Be like Clark". This is going to sound very Baptist/evangelical but I have come to know Jesus Christ very personally. I only think of him almost all day long, and I am trying to be more like him, finding and giving service everywhere we go. I have washed dishes, ironed clothes, and cleaned houses all of this week, and the people are more receptive of us! It is great! One of my pairs of shoes is unrecognizable as a shoe because I have worn them in so hard. Definitely serve as missionaries. Without member missionaries, the work does not exist. So transfers are today and I will find out what happens tonight. To be a missionary, (I have realized this week) we should focus on the less active families and people. Ask the Bishop and missionaries who they are and immediately befriend them. There were about 300 people that live in my area that are members. 4 of them died without the ward knowing. About 260 of them have moved without the knowledge of many. And the rest are almost all less active. This shouldn't happen, because the ward should be like a family. Much love, See ya next week (in Email) Élder Clark Manwaring

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

This is HIS Work and Glory...‏

This last week was tough, and disapointing in some aspects, but I am much tougher! I was still sick and I got worse and worse, until I figured out that it was the Multivitamin that you gave me before I left that was acting like The Terminator in my stomach. Lets hope it "wont be back" (Arnold Schwarzenegger impersonation). I am so deep in the spirit and love for the people that surround me, sometimes it kills me inside when I can't comfort someone with a hug, I love these people so much. I am much more Costeño now. I am much less timid or shy, and more open to share my feelings with people, and have a good time! I am loving my mission so much! Ay Hombe Wey Pa Jey (it means woo hoo in Vallenato) I pray for you all so much! Nilson and Carmen are progressing so well, especially Carmen. She almost became a Nun in the Catholic church, and is a women's pastor in a evangelical church, but is learning and growing in testimony so rapidly, its crazy! The Mom (Emma) and Karen her daughter next. We visited them several times during the week. One of the times, we came as Karen was having a severe episode of depression. It was one of the worst sadness's I have ever seen. I could see in her eyes that she was trapped inside of herself and wanted to be normal, but was wrenching in pain on the outside and screaming and crying. I told my companion "We need to sing a hymn". I chose my favorite. Abide With Me tis Eventide. It reminds me of when I felt the spirit in our home in Utah, when the house is clean, there is a candle lit, and the house seems to be a soft shade of orange in all the house. She stopped crying and went to her room and fell asleep, exhausted after crying for hours on end. Her Mom said that she had never seen even medicine calm her that fast during an episode. It sounds like this week has been super busy for all of you guys! Especially you and Avita ;) You guys are really starting a change in the world of pediatric Cancer, and helping out others as well! I hope it goes really well for you guys on TV again! Wao! I also hope you did well in Stake Conference! Another story: We met up with a less active guy of my same age named Luis Miguel Polo. He hasn't been to church in years, and the missionaries have been visiting him for 10 years, with is about 100 missionaries. I asked him "where do you want to be in 5 years?" He answered easily and I wrote it on my mini whiteboard. I then asked the same question, but in 10 years, it was harder for him to answer. But he did. I wrote it and then asked where he would be in 25 years. He stopped and he said: "I will be 50 years old, and nothing will matter to me." I told him "Your family will be what matters to you. And if you strive to be more like Christ you will mean the world to them." He stopped and said "I will do everything to make that a reality" and so I said "You can start by going to church with us tomorrow." He did! And he bore his testimony in front of everyone, and thanked me for helping him set his priorities straight, and progress towards his goals. His inactive sister came too. I almost cried I was so happy! Congratulations to Lauren for her accomplishment(getting accepted to BYU)! And Nicks campaign is freaking awesome and endorsed by his brother ;). Muy Bien! The story is touching and was a little hard to read. But I am excited to see how it turns out in the Magazine. Ava is marvelous! And cute! Love you all so much, and I hope it goes great for all of you guys this week. This is quite possibly my last week in Valledupar, because we have area changes this next Monday. Te Amo al Tizo (Costeñol for the most), Élder Manwaring

This week in the Valle! ‏ 02/23/15

Colombia supports Nick! I will tell the stories of this week first. First, we found a man who has one good eye and the other is all light blue, he is addicted to all hardcore drugs that exist here in Colombia, and has been for 25 years. He is 36 years old. He is Rolo Cachaco (from Bogota). We taught him the Word of Wisdom and set a plan to get him out of addiction. His dad met us and we gave him a little pamphlet/book of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We finished the lesson, and walked away, but the dad followed after us running and said "I read the pamphlet, and how much does a Book of Mormon cost?" He had read and underlined almost the entire pamphlet in 15 minutes and he wanted a book of Mormon! So cool! Katarina is doing awesome and attends church every week! I know that she will be a leader in the church someday. Another story is that the couple that can't have kids invited us over again, and immediately we felt the spirit. The guy is named Nilson Diaz, and the wife is named Carmen Ariza. Carmen told us defiantly in the Restoration lesson "Everyone knows the first pope was Peter, the disciple of Christ." I know from experience that arguing never works, so I bore my testimony, stronger than I have ever before. Afterwards she said that she believed my words, that like the wind, she couldn't see it...but she could feel it. I committed them to baptism, and they both came to church and sat next to us. They said afterwards "this is how the church of Christ should be. There are no guitars, or yelling, or paying money to receive "revelation" from a pastor". Awesome! And another story of success. We passed by a more poor part of the area (which means that they are still rich) and a girl yelled to us "brothers!" (Hermanos!) She looked slightly deranged, but I walked up to her, and asked her how things have been. In a few short minutes, we had both her and her Mom out on the front porch talking to us. The girl explained that she almost was baptized, but fell into deep depression and was hospitalized days before the baptism. She felt like she had no friends, and the Elders were her only friends. They both believe that the church is true. The Mom dreamed a vision where she spoke with Joseph Smith. She and her mother explained that the missionaries were angels in their lives, but left after a time (sent to another area). She and her mother cried so hard the day they left, and the ward didn't continue to befriend them. The girl named Karen re-fell into depression, and they thought that God gave up on them, until we passed by that house and decided to talk to them. They both accepted baptism dates! Woo Hoo! And Lastly, I had 3 days of a stomach bug. The reason? I bought unlabeled Granadilla seeds in a container. I ate a bunch, but it tasted a little different. Its because it had certain preservative that causes blowout diarrhea. Those three days were crap. Literally. I lost about 8 or 9 pounds. In the house of a member I had diarrhea while going to the bathroom. The house was small and the noises were echoing in the house. I heard laughter in the living room. But I am costeño, so it didn't bother me. I left the bathroom and said "Did you guys hear my concert/symphony in the bathroom?" To the kids in the house, and there was less tension afterwards. :) That is so cool that you guys and going to be famous on KSL and Worldwide in the "Friend" magazine. Friend doesn't exist here in Colombia. Liahona does. But send me a photo of Ava in the magazine when it comes out! And Tell the littles that I love and miss them, and that they should pray often. And that the family can do scripture study every night! I recently finished the Book of Mormon for the 2nd time in my mission! I know the Book of Mormon like the back of my hand now! Love you guys and hope everything goes really well for you guys this week. Stay close to the Lord. You are a good person Mom. When I introduce myself to the people I teach, I show them the picture of the whole family in the Library. They always say "Your Mom looks like she is from Colombia, she is very beautiful." or "Your Dad is a lucky Man." Love you all so much!I appreciate all of your encouragement. I have really felt the hand of the Lord in the work.