Monday, July 22, 2013

I'm the Exotic Meat Man!!

Alright so we had a great week here in Cucuta, our little piece of zion. It has stopped raining completely and the wind isn´t as strong. There´s not a cloud in the sky...and it´s flippin hot!! So right after lunch is always when it´s the hottest, and always when you feel like you just want to lay down in the shade and sleep. I have caught myself more than once saying under my breath ¨man I really don´t like Cucuta¨ I don’t like the hot weather! but right after lunch when you just feel soo fat and you go out in the sun automatically to sweat, it´s a great feeling. Haha it´s not actually that hot, like 95 in the sun, so  the weather has been good, and when the sun goes down, I find myself saying ¨Cucuta is just awesome, I could stay here for a good long while.¨ 
Well we gave our talks this Sunday, mine went really well! Dad I translated the page you gave me about the symbols of the sacrament by John Bytheway. And just about the whole ward came up and told me wow! I never knew that! It really is awesome to know that we are a church that is based on the scriptures and has these kinds of symbols. I have applied this when I am sitting in sacrament meeting, and it has had a profound impact on my experience in this part of church. Man! when you think about Jesus and try to comprehend what he did. The great sweet pure feeling of the spirit just penetrates right to my soul:) This Sunday was especially great because the investigator that we will baptize this Saturday got to church right before we started the sacrament. So I was able to reflect on the change of heart that he has had and it was just an awesome spirit filled meeting. Then I took a few parts from the talk by John Groberg (kolipoki) and finished. I love speaking! I speak a little different in Spanish because if I  try to wing it a little bit it doesn´t come out as good as when I have everything written down. However in English I remember the talk I gave at BYU -  I just wrote down key points that I wanted to hit and just winged it a little bit more there:) 
Hey so I was thinkin...if you guys are making a patio in that part of the yard why don´t you just put a hottub there? WOULD THAT BE COOL OR WHAT!!! If I remember right for scouts, I did my landscaping merit badge and designed a plan exactly to put a hot tub right in that exact spot. I think you should do it, that’s what I would do lol. Also I remember that I designed the basketball court to have strong glass panes around it and to put a paintball field on the back lawn. I think that’s a better idea than a greenhouse. You guys should send me pictures of at least the hot tub when you get it finished;) 
So getting to the ´Meat¨of my letter I will talk about just that. I ATE DUCK FOR LUNCH THIS WEEK.....MAS RICO:) haha so we have a member who raises ducks in his back yard. He actually reminds me a little bit of grandpa Lane, so a few weeks back he took us out to show us the ducks. I picked one out and told him that I wanted that one for lunch! He said seriously!!! alright I´ll get right on it! So we got to lunch and had THE BEST Duck that I have ever tried in my life (I think it was the first time that I had eaten it) I had planned on bringing my camera but I forgot it because we went to a meeting with our president all morning and left it in the house. But man I will never forget eating duck, it was great! Also it was the same place that gave us the mondongo meat, so there are always good and bad days. 
Alright so Pa once again you’re yelling at the cable guys huh? I remember that day when I got home from school and you were having one of those as you say¨heart to heart¨conversations... So I kinda had one of those conversations with our taxi driver today. We settled at 6 mil pesos to go to one of the churches here in Cucuta. We told him that the church was 2 blocks behind the big mall that they have here. He kept annoying us as he was driving that he needed to know the street number, we didn´t know it we just know how to get there. So I told him I would be his guide (side note: All of the other taxistas are always chill and cool with us just telling them a landmark and they always get there) but this guy just wouldn´t have it. So we get to the mall and he asks me where to go, I say turn right at the next street and go down two blocks and we´re there. He starts to complain and ask for more money, I had just about had it with this guy on the ride over, so I said ¨just let us out right here and we´ll give you 5¨ you didn´t  get us to where we wanted to go so we´re not giving you 6. He started to complain but we just walked away lol. My companion liked it lol, he knows by now that I don´t like when people complain.
So for the last p-day in this change we went to the big nice turf fields and played for a good 2 hours. I had a few golasos as usual and actually am really starting to like to play soccer. Even though I still can´t dribble with my feet and look up to pass( thats kind of key) I like it and have fun.
Well I know that there was a few more things that I had to ask you guys but I forgot my journal in the house and can´t think of what else I was going to write, oh yeah I did get my package from grandma.  THANKS GRANDMA. It got to Bogota in June, here to Cucuta in July, and I just have forgot to tell you guys for a few weeks. 
I really love you guys so much, Shay, Mom, Dad. You are the greatest family ever and I think the world of every one of you! MUCHO LOVE:)

-Elder Crook

Friday, July 19, 2013

Service and the Spirit

Well we didn´t do much out of the ordinary this week, the only thing was that we had an awesome service! Everything else was pretty much normal. But as I was shoveling away on that hot Thursday morning I came up with something. I was just thinking to myself ¨Why is the mission so good for young kids like me?´ I was trying to figure out why is it that we grow so much from doing what we do, and how can we keep developing and growing after these 2 short years? I boiled it down to 2 things, Service, and the Spirit. I mean, I really feel like it  gives us a chance to focus on everybody else and their needs, this kind of selfless service helps us find ourselves and who we really are. Also we have such high standards that can allow us to live with a big portion of the spirit. I feel like these 2 things are the factors that help us make leaps and bounds as far as spiritual maturity. I am still kind of stumped though on how this same type of growth can be continued throughout life. I can tell you right now that in my 19 years before the mission, I don´t feel like I made an effort to be good or grow at all. 
Anyways before we get to the part about us doing service, I want to tell you guys something kinda funny. So a few weeks back me and my comp went to do an online class on how to teach people about family history and all that jazz. Well that didn´t last long because it turns out that the classes are only in english and even though I have some decent conversations with my comp in English, he didn’t understand. But before we left the videos caught my eye, they were filmed in the Richmond, Virginia mission (Skylers mission) so I decided to watch one or 2 to get a look at how they do things there in Virginia. Then the video cut to a scene where a familiar voice started to contact a young lady and ask her about her family history. I didn´t recognize him at first because he had a ´russian mob boss´crew cut almost to the scalp, and I had never seen Skyler with a haircut like that lol. So I was super surprised and excited to see and hear Elder Skyler Andreason in a church video, it lasted about 30 seconds and then ended but I thought I would tell you guys. It´s funny cause I can still remember that last day we spent together at the dam jumping off of the car passover into the freezing cold water. Then we went and got slurpies and he paid for me. Then I told him, that in 3 years I´d pay for the slurpies. Well now he´s almost done and he´s gotta wait a year more to get his free slurpie lol. I still can´t believe that was 2 years ago!
Anyways back to it´s spelled COLOMBIA. We had an awesome service on Thursday. We are helping a guy build his house in what they call here invasiones. This is a lot where if you just build something small and mark off the boundaries, you can have the lot without paying a thing. These are usually very poor and still don´t have common utilities like phone lines or water or gas or anything like that. Electricity I am not sure but I didnt ask. So we just basically dug holes all day. We dug 8 foundation holes that were about 3 feet deep by 3 feet wide. Then we had to dig a huge septic tank hole that was 2 meters deep! like more than 6 feet. At the end of the day we had finished them all except for the big one, we still needed to dig a little deeper into the ground. But we needed to go so we just took a picture of Elder Boyd in the huge hole like his tomb. He goes home in a week and a half. He has become one of my best friends here on the mission. Him and Elder Albrect are just the best 2 missionaries and friends that I know. So it will be sad to see him go, we have had some really great times here in Cucuta:) 
Well other then  that, that was basically my week. We had a less active member come back to church which was AWESOME! The first time I met him was 4 months ago sitting in the dirt at night half drunk with a cigarrete in his hand. He´s a young adult and it has been tough to try to get him to come to church. But he had 2 friends that had baptismal dates but never would come because he never went. So who knows if that was a factor in getting him back to church but he just showed up one Sunday and said ´Hey Elders I´ll be coming to church regularly now, and I signed up for institute class again.´ We were pretty shocked but its good to see him at church. 
Alright well its time to go for me and I will write you next Monday like always. We have 2 weeks left in this change. LOVE YOU LIKE CRAZY:)!!!!! 
-Elder Crook

Monday, July 8, 2013

One small step more...I'm almost there...I'm almost Colombian!!

Alright so first of all, sorry for not sending pictures last week, we just didn´t have more time and it was taking so long to upload, so hopefully I´ll send you guys a few good ones here in a few minutes:) WELL I am going to start of answering one of mom’s questions; she asked have you had any cool teaching experiences? Well kind of but I had a great learning experience today in companionship study. Well turns out that this last week was probably one of the toughest of my mission, because me and my comp were not getting along very well. I was praying and pondering and studying all week, and we even had a few good talks, but still we just weren’t getting along. So I sat him down today, and we had a good long talk, and he told me some things that I had not realized. First he said, ´Elder Crook, for the last 2 weeks you haven’t talked to me about anything other than our investigators, sometimes it´s just really boring to talk about just investigators.´ ´We just need to have a little bit more fun, that’s it, that will fix it all.´ I was just dumbfounded (hope that’s a word lol) and then I realized that I have been trying soooo hard to be spiritual and to teach by the spirit so that the investigators can feel it, so hard to where I have not been being my happy relaxed go lucky self. I totally remember dad telling me that the night before I left, to not let myself just become a serious stiff missionary. And I had become just that, So guess what, I relaxed a little bit, we had a great p-day today and now we are getting along great again! It was just an eye opening experience that made me realize once again how fun and awesome I can make this mission!
Well I´m glad you guys had a decent 4th of July, sounds like dad just was workin. But Pa I really think I do appreciate my country a little bit more now that I´ve seen how others live. You better send me pics if you shoot a bear or an Elk (be sure to save some bear meat for me ;) I like that greasy ol meat) I was laughing my head off when you reminded me of my ´Big¨ buck, that giant thing was super heavy to drag out though, remember we just put the legs through a pole we found and packed it out on our shoulders? Those were some good times :) 
Also well I have to tell you about my 3rd of July    lunch; it has a lot to do with the title of my letter. So I had to face the nasty mondongo meat again. The worst was that it was at one of the families that make the best lunches for us. I tell you, there was a TON of this stomach meat stuff that I told you about the last time when I was in Tunja. Well this time it was mixed with a ton of garbanzo beans, it´s not like garbanzo beans are my favorite but they are 100 times better than the mondongo meat. So I just had to take a bite and a drink and a bite and a drink. I honestly ate 2/3rds of the garbanzos with mondongo, with only 1 or 2 gag reflexes, which both time no one noticed thankfully. Then I tactfully offered to clean my plate off and take it to the kitchen (having eaten everything but the biggest pieces of mondongo) and raced to the kitchen covering up the meat with half of my hand. Then I threw the mondongo away in the garbage, cleaned my plate, and chugged down another glass of juice to get the taste out of my mouth lol. Then the whole rest of the day me and my comp just felt sick to our stomachs, but it passed.
Well Gosh darnit I really want to tell you guys more about my week but I just don´t have any more time. Sorry, I kinda wrote a few friends, one member that was one of my really good friends e-mailed me and told me that he got his mission call to Chile conception. So I wrote him. But I am including a few pictures of a service that we did this week, we are helping clear this guys lot to start building his house, and we went to the center of town where I bought a jersey of CU CU TA!!!!! which is one of the coolest ones yet. I know the biggest sponsor is Aguila a colombian beer company but it’s still pretty awesome. I sure love you guys sorry for the kind of wussy letter but at least I got the pictures!!! LOVE YOU ALLLLL

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The best letters yet! plus the best p-day yet = felicidad! Kody's letter - July 1, 2013

Alright so I am very impressed with your letters, haha I acually printed them all out this morning and the lady was having problems trying to print all of my pages and I was in kind of a hurry too. So I left dads letter in the internet and just spend the last 20 minutes reading his skylergram:) haha thanks for writing me pa, I´ll definitley print it out again and re-read it when time allows, it was a great letter and it had me laughing pretty hard in my chair. So our president just sent us all a letter that says we will be changing the way we work in the mornings. It will be though facebook, twitter, and all those other sights. He also said that for our mission, the change will be when 2014 starts. So who knows, maybe the last 6 months of my mission I will be facebookin it up with my colombian amigos lol. Also Pa before I forget, I have to give my monthly missionary talk in 2 weeks, and I want to do it on the Sacrament and how important it is and how we can integrate it into missionary work. SO If you could send me stuff for that next monday that would be great:) I loved the issac and Abraham deal you sent me, it was really interesting. I get so confused with old testament stuff lol, throw in that I am reading it in spanish.....well its hard to understand. So I pretty much only have the scripture masterys marked and thats about it. Plus its not like we teach that much doctrine, so we don´t really use it here.
Alright Shaylen GREAT LETTER:) I felicitar you on getting your act together and sending me a good one. SOunds like decisions decisions huh....are you going back for an officail tour in novemeber? Keep me updated and I think that its really cool that you could get a scholarship to utah state:) keep it up and keep me informed. Love you lots!!!!!!
Mom I can´t forget you:) haha your letters are always awesome, last week I was basically talking to Dad and shay. But I hope you can find new primary teachers, and keep me updated on who the new coaches will be. Will it be Josh Line ya think? They have like a month to decide right? Thanks for keepin me up to date on that stuff, its quite interesting.
Alrighty soooooo I had an AWESOME p-day. Wanna know what we did, we went with some members of 2 wards here in cucuta to the RIVER....haha no we didnt swim, but they fed us lots:) Remember the mothers day feeding frenzy that I wrote about, was like that, I am still full of steak:) The custom is when they go to the river, lots of asado (Steak) grilled potatos and pichaque (guacamole) you eat the potatoes with the guacamole and the steak with your hands lol. Its awesome, no fork and knife buisness;) There were tons of people there today because its a holiday and no one works, dont ask me what is supposed to be celebrated today because  I have no idea. So the place that we went to was outside of Cucuta in a pueblo called Zulia, I was kinda scetched out because I have heard that everywhere around Cucuta has Guerilla, or the people who are trying to overthrow the government or something (its complicated) so when we left the city I was kinda nervous but when we got there it was perfectly safe. We played a little soccer after we ate then headed on back to the house. IT was a great p-day and I will send you the pictures here soon.
The last interesting part of my week was that we were living on the second floor in a little apartment, the people downstairs moved out so we hurried and talked so the owner and the mission president and moved downstairs where WE HAVE AIR CONDITIONING in one room. Its like the only house here that has it, apart from the churches, so that was super exiting.

Your letters are slackin people! - Kody's letter 6-24-13

Alright so I don´t know if you guys were just super tired today or what, but man......your slackin! maybe its just cause shay wrote me a Gage letter, or now it could be called a Colton letter lol, but at least he sends like a million photos home of just random speakers and stuff lol. But honestly I am quite whiffed about especially Shays letter. Also about Dads too cause I asked him q´s about his mission and he didnt respond. I do think it´s pretty cool though that you are thinkin about buying a new rifle;) And thanks mom for the picture at the Salt lake temple. At least someone understands that in the disconnected life of a full-time missionary maybe once in a while he likes to see what your doin and not just a summary lol. Summaries are for people that can talk face to face. You guys just leave me to fill in the details all by myself. Well I´ve done enough whining, but I know you can do better guys:) And thanks for continuing to send the object lessons and other things to make me a better missionary.
Alright so we had zone conference friday and it was from 9 in the morning to 4 in the afternoon. The first person I saw when I walked in the chapel before it had started was my ex-comp Elder Santillan (he just got switched to the other cucuta zone). So he comes over to me grabs my arm and screams MONKEY BUMP! and whacks me a good one. I quickly pulled up my sleeve to show him the almost golfball size ball of flesh that is rising on my forearm. We got a good laugh out of that. Haha his comp that he´s with now is being tortured with; monkey bumps, wet willies, clavicle crushers, and the 1 eyed turkey looking over the fence:) It made me remember all of the good times that I had with Santillan. Then Sister Andelin informed us that all forms of soda is now banned in the mission. She said it was only for 6 weeks, but I have my doubts. Also we talked about the Prophet Abraham, and president taught that issac was probably around 20 or 30 years old when his father was about to offer him as a sacrifice. What do you guys think? I don´t know much about the old testament stuff, but that would have to mean that Abrahams son was pretty faithful and trusted in his father as a prophet. I thought that was really cool how president taught it and likened it to God and Jesus Christ. 
So today we rented a turf soccer field, its a small one and we played 5 on 4, yeah I know the numbers don´t line up but lets just say someones comp was being a wuss and didn´t play, so we played 2 and a half hours in the hot Cucuta sun:) And the competition was awesome, all of the latinos play great and you know we gringos play como mas o menos haha. But we played so dang hard! I´m a pretty competetive soccer player and tis fun especially when there are hotheaded argentinians who were born playing soccer. I have to say that I had a few golasos. But my strengths are more out of control, knocking into people defense with a powerful right foot when needed lol. You could say I lack a little ball control which I don´t think I´ll ever get the hang of. We even played 4 gringos vs. 5 latinos and gave them a run for their money, we still lost but it was super fun and there was more than a little bit of heated competition, which I have missed SOOOO MUCH! now I am very very very sore lol. But all I have to do is walk in a few hours so I´ll be good:)
Also I hope you guys went to the worldwide conference yesterday! it was sooooooo cool:) It was for the mission presidents but also for any member and every missionary. They said that the work will be switching more to the internet in the mornings, like mormon .org and facebook and stuff. But I don´t think there will be a change in this mission, president is kind of strict on that stuff and only the zone leaders can carry thier cell phones around. But all of the other stuff was awesome and I have been making some good plans on how we can work better with members here. 
Well that was pretty much the highlights of my week, also my comp got his patriarchal blessing! He didnt have time to do it in Bolivia, but he came out of the patriarchs office with a big smile:) I kinda wanted to hear a blessing in spanish but I didnt get to. Anyways I need to get off but I will leave you with a couple pictures:) LOVE YOU GUYS!!!!! TALK TO YA NEXT WEEK:)
-Elder Crook

Just Gotta Love the Work - June 17, 2013

Well I sure am doing great up here in cucuta. So in my other areas we could find just about anything that we needed or wanted. Relating to food or personal items or little things like that to make life just a little out of the ordinary. Like in Tunja every saturday we would buy italian pizza made by a real itailian chef that was amazingly good and one of the best pizzas that I´ve even tasted. In Bogota you could buy almost any type of candybar know to man so I was always buying those lol. But here there is nothing like that. I haven´t eaten pizza since Tunja, and there aren´t any big supermarkets that you can go buy food at. Our supermarket here is 2 aisles lol. Apart from this, Cucuta is rapidly becoming my favorite area because of the people. They are sooooooo AWESOME! everyone is so nice and like to talk and joke around and is just soooo relaxed. It´s kinda funny, I have kinda tightened up a bit and gotten a little more strict but I realized that I can be layed back in some things too. I just love it here!
So we had changes this sunday and nobody went anywhere lol, There were 2 missionaries on our zone that left, thats cause pretty much everyone else in training. So next change there will be a few more. I have just kind of gotten into a groove here and I feel like I´m still new to the area. Even though I´ve been here for 2 months or so it doesn´t feel like that long. So nothing really new happened this week just good ol work. My comp and I are starting to become pretty good friends and we talk in the street more I think than I have talked with any other companion. So he has slid into the missionary groove too (it seems to me) haha but I asked him and he told me that this first change has felt like a lifetime for him, but he´s doing great!  Its weird to know that I´m halfway done and that I wont always be a missionary forever lol. Literally you just think that for the first year lol, that this is just going to go on forever. But then this week i realized that it is a lot shorter than I thought. I totally understand Clint when he says that his mission feels like a dream, because my first year kinda just feel like a dream. We have no other experiences even close to what is the mission so we just relate it to a dream lol. Something just totally foreign and unknown, 
Alright so you guys never told me that you were going to look at colleges with Shay!!! man it honestly makes me want to talk to you guys so much!!! But I have to wait until Christmas lol so I will just have to go another week wondering how all of the college tours went! Shay, this is a decision that you have to take to the Lord. When I decided I did not put hardly any prayer into it. So I just want to tell you to put all of your faith in the Lord and say a prayer, he knows you and loves you and knows where you should go to school. Trust him! Also happy DADS day PA:) we had a great fathers day here, and my comp played a song on guitar to the members that gave us lunch sunday (the same ones that gave me like 50 pieces of meat) he sang to, it was awesome because the song talks about a dear old fart that just needs to be loved and everyone loves him lol. the real title is mi querido viejo. So tell grampa lane and john how awesome they are and that I still remember all of there mission stories.
You too pa, hope you had a great day up there in Utah, and thanks for answering my question:) Also I read that part of your letter about the pitt apartments to my gringo buds, and they all got a kick out of it. So tell me who were your companions then? What was your president like? were you ever district leader or zone leader or had to train a newbie? 
Well I don´t have to much time left and the internet I am in is super slow so I can´t send a picture or 2, you´ll just have to wait till next week. But I always am so happy to hear from you guys and all of the family, oh yeah I don´t even recognize adam and tallies new baby lol. I kinda forgot that they had her. Well be sure to tell me all about your vsits to Jed and Jenny, the Foremasters, and Mark and Paula. Tell them all hi and give them all big hugs for me. You can maybe even challenge Tod to wrestle you or to an arm wrestling contest like we always used to do:) Oh did Tanner already leave for Africa? well I´m sure you´ll tell me all about it next week. Also give clint and cindi great big hugs from me. They are all so awesome:) Clint congrats on returning hime with honor, thanks for being that big example you´ve always been to me. Your awesome and I love you:) I can´t lie I´d feel a little lost at a Crook family reunion without you too. Cindi Te amo, espero que todo esta bien con lexi y que están disfrutando sus vacaciones. Tu siempre has sido mi tía favorita:) pero esto es entre nosotros que hablamos un poquito de castellano;) nuestro secreto.
Love all of you!!!! talk to ya next week!!
-Elder Crook