Monday, August 26, 2013

Who Are We? Purpose Completers

Well tha’ts right we are some true purpose completers this week. We had those 2 baptisms like I told you guys about last week. They were great! We had one in the morning Saturday at 10 because the lady (Marcella)´s husband had to work during the afternoon. So we had that and our bishop baptized her and it was really, really great! I felt the spirit very strong. Then we had the next one at 5 Saturday of a guy named Camilo, and I baptized him. They both were really awesome and baptismal services are just so much more awesome when you understand just a little bit more of what a baptism is and what it means, so we had a pretty great weekend with their baptisms and confirmations. 
So I read all your letters before hand this time so hopefully this letter will be a little longer and have a little less potty humor lol:) You gotta admit my last letter was pretty funny. So I´m glad you guys had a blast up in Bend and it’s good to hear that the new bikes worked great, and that you’re ready for some more extreme stuff;) haha sounds like a good way to end the summer. It´s so weird to think that mom’s going to school already and that Shay already registered. Make this the best school year ever!!! Good luck mom hope you had a great first day of work:) So mom we don´t have those crazy free busses in our area, although I really miss them and they made up the majority of my story telling material.  Our area is relatively small so we have no use for those beloved free, overfilled, wonderful buses. Also yes we have to do a little more work being zone leaders. We started up meetings with the stake presidency when I got here and yesterday had one with the district leaders and all of the ward mission leaders, where we taught them a little more of their duties as ward mission leaders. Other than that, we have been doing intercambios as we call them here or ¨splits¨I guess, where the zone leaders go with the district leaders and their comps for a day to see how they are working and get to know the zone better. I got to leave the area one day this week, and I secretly planned it the day that we had lunch with the vegetarian lady WAAAAAA HAHAHAHA. I guess they had to ask her to put it in some tupperwares to eat it at the house because the lady’s husband wasn’t home. Guess what happened to the poop stew and rice........uhhh lets just say they made hot dawgs instead, which I knew they would do lol. So we just do that and then give them advice on how to be better. We also had interchanges with the assistants this week which was really great! My comp had been throwin up all mornin and I was trying my best to hone in on my motherly skills (which as you all know, are quite horrible) when they got to our house. So one assistant stayed with him in the house and I went and worked with the other one who is from Mexico. He taught me alot about my question that I had the other week. He is a very serious guy, but in the house and in the street we were talkin it up and crackin jokes and just havin fun. But when we got into the lessons it made me remember dad telling me to ¨flip that switch¨ more of a sports term but we can apply it here. He was so focused and with the spirit. I think I´m getting better at finding that happy medium. I had just been so uptight even during p-days trying to ¨be a good example¨ but I have let myself have fun when the time is right like dad says. This morning we were at the church playin soccer and basketball, an elder from Brazil got to the church and I asked him if he knew what Brazilian jiu jitsu was. Before he could answer me I had him in a double leg and on his back in the grass:) He´s worse than Shay lol but he did tell me that he had practiced a little bit of jui jitsu and tried a couple of moves but he´s about Shays size so they didn’t really work. What that resulted in was a mixture of MMA, Wrestling as I know it and a few fake WWE moves to finish him off. After that no one wanted to face me!
So I´m going to tell you a few funny facts about my comp now. This pàragraph will be dedicated to him. First of all, he has one of the best names of all time: Juan de Dios Ezra Taft Perez. What a powerful name, I sometimes call him John of God, and Ezra Taft as a middle name PODEROSO if I call say so myself. Also he got the top part of his middle finger cut off in a door when he was little. I noticed like the first week but usually no one notices because it´s just a little shorter then his pointer and ring finger and doesn’t have a nail. So whenever people find out we always think of a new story to tell them, like he got hungry and ate it or it got cut off in the meat grinder or stuff like that lol. So it´s fun to work and be with him, I think he is the companion that I have most talked to and shared my life with. 
So here in Colombia I guess all of the farmers are mad that the government doesn’t pay them very much so they decided to go on strike and stop the flow of food to the cities. I´m not quite sure on all the details but we had to go buy a little bit of ¨food storage¨ If you guys want more details you should look it up cause I just know the basics. But here in Bogota I havent seen a change, maybe in the coming weeks. 

So to end I want to ask you a huge favor pa, have you ever heard of a presentation called The trilogy of Skousen? Well me and my comp were talking about some deep doctrine stuff and he showed me this presentation that had been done in a mission conference in Atlanta by a famous theologen whose last name is Skousen. It talks about all kinds of crazy stuff and he has it in spanish. I read the first 5 pages this week but it´s in spanish. I understand it, but it would be better in english. Could you send it to me this next week, I would really really really appreciate it. Thanks! Also we talked a lot about Jesus the Christ the book, and I realized that to be more like Jesus I have to dominate my body and my spirit has to be stronger than the flesh. So I have been hitting it hard (as hard as a missionary can) on the exercises, so don’t worry about me comin home all gordito cause thats just not going to happen. Also I wanted to finish saying that I love the quote that you sent me mom! it¨s awesome and made me think about the scripture in 2 nephi 2:14 where there are 2 types of things in this world, things that act and things that are acted upon. Or like the quote says, people that act and change their environment and the people that let their environment change them and get them down. I am striving, through small and simple things to change myself and be an agent for good in the environment that I have been put in. LOVE YOU ALLL 
-Elder Crook

Monday, August 5, 2013

Am I in Heaven? I think I might be

Man so first of all I am glad to hear that the Quest  went well! That sounds like so much fun and I laughed while reading that everyone dressed up as characters in the
BOM, especially brother Lacoture as Captain Moroni! Haha he is like the perfect person to dress up as Moroni, and I wasn´t surprised to hear that dad was conducting the waterballoon fight. It sounds like you had a blast! It is so cool that the church is that organized and that economically blessed to have an activity like that! I love you guys so much and am really glad you got to have a good experience at quest! Shay the one thing that I was thinking about while reading your letter was MISSION. You should really start to think about it....look you can leave at 19 yrs old after 1 year of college just like I did, serve 18 months and get back and still be 20. I honestly don´t think you´ll be thinking about getting married at 19 or am I wrong;) Just think about that spirit full week that you just had and how much that you learned and grew. Now put that on a scale of a year and a half! It is an amazing experience and you can just feel yourself learning and growing. So like dad says, put that thought on the back shelf of your mind and see how you feel about it in a few years. Really, it is THE best thing you could be doing in your 19th and half of your 20th year.
Well well well I feel like God has given me one of the biggest blessings in my whole mission, his name is Elder Perez. He is quickly becoming my favorite companion. He is kind of a quieter guy but is not shy. We have passed the majority of this week talking about almost everything. He has almost 18 months and was in Cucuta with me but he was the zone leader of the other zone. We had already talked quite a bit because Atalaya,my old area in Cucuta, was his old area when I was starting the mission. He is one of the most humble guys that I have met and gets along with EVERYBODY and I mean everybody because I know some of his old companions and a few of them aren´t the easiest people in the world to work with. That’s why it is such a blessing! We are friends, we both like to work and like to work hard, and we both want to try to get better each and every day so he accepts every idea that I have on how we can do things better or more efficient or things like that. Specifically we have had 2 lessons this week that we have been so in tune with each other that we both turned to the same scripture to share! It might be such a small thing but that was the first time ever in my mission that that had happened, I´ll let you guys know when we have baptisms because I´m sure we´ll have some this month.  The last change my comp and his old comp worked super hard and so when I got here I found so many investigators!!! It has just been so awesome this first week!
Alright so before I talk about Bogota and my new area, Shay had some questions that I will answer. SO the bus ride was decent, it was only like 15 hours so we made good time, it´s really hard to sleep on the bus for me because the seats are kind of uncomfortable. But we left Cucuta at like 4 in the afternoon and got here to Bogota at 7 in the morning.  I slept for a few hours here and there but all in all it wasn´t that bad. And yes there is a bathroom but only for going number 1 and it’s always fun trying to go when the bus is shaking and rocking back and forth because of all the curves in the road. We did have a few stops, once we stopped at a place in the department Santander at night and it was freezing! You could see your breath and I kinda wanted to go back to the warm nights of Cucuta. The food here in Bogota is pretty good, except in Cucuta the members gave us bigger portions. Oh the other day I found a chicken foot in my soup! There was a leg of chicken in the soup but accompanying it was the foot, I ate the leg but snuck the foot in my backpack and took a few pictures of it when I got home lol:) Also I´ll tell you a little about the investigators. When I got here we had just received a reference for a complete family, so we went and found out that it was a family of 8!!! The parents ,who are already married, and 6 kids! The oldest being 19 and the youngest 8! Also the dad has his brother and cousin that are members, so they were the ones who gave us the reference. WE started teaching just the mom and dad because the kids are always busy but on Saturday we went and had a lesson with THEM ALL. We invited them all to be baptized and at first they said yes but when we said for the 24th of this month the dad said no because he has already been baptized in a christian church and a few of the kids said no because they haven´t been to church yet but the mom was very firm in her decision and said yes definitely and a few of the kids too. We will be working hard to try to get them all baptized for this date but if they need more time I think we might move everyone’s date back so they can all get baptized at the same time. 
So right when I got here it was like coming home a little bit. Riding down the streets that I had walked on  last year at this time. WE went to the bakery right next to our apt complex and immediately the owner and his sister remembered me. They said ¨Mr. Crook You came back, have you learned Spanish yet¨ when I talked to them they told me that my spanish skills have gotten a lot better! it was so cool:) Then today I was walking down the street with my comp and saw an old investigator! Elder Suarez and I baptized his 2 sons (they were my first baptisms) and I learned that he too had gotten baptized 3 months ago!!! IT MADE ME SO HAPPY:) man thats why I titled my letter am I in heaven, because I am!!! The other day I met up with some of the young men in my old ward Jordan! They all remembered me even my name! as hard as it is to pronounce. It has just been super cool and hopefully I´ll be going on an interchange with the Elders that are serving there right now!
Well I am really short on time but I got to meet all of my buds from my mission at our leadership meeting we had this week, every first week of the month the zone leaders get together and the president and the assistants teach us new stuff. I met up with Albrecht again and Elder Veil who is from Portland and Elder Avila who was with me in Tunja, They are 3 of my best friends that I have made here. It was super fun to meet up with them again. 
Also bad news we too have to give up our backpacks - I guess its world wide mission rules now. So I have been on the hunt for a satchel type thing that’s big enough to carry my stuff and cheap too. 
Well I sure love you guys tons!!! Have a great week I know I sure will!!!! I love you guys sooooooo sooooooo much!!!!
-Elder Crook

July 29th - BBBack to Bogota Baby!!!

Hey HEy Hey, so I am getting changed. I’m going back to Bogota, haha Im just still here in Cucuta awaiting my 18 hour bus ride that leaves at 3. Im glad its at 3 though which gives me a little p-day and allows me to write you. BUT Im going to include the juicy details later in my letter;)
Well first of all Cucuta is way more awesome than just a little town that likes to drink beer, sure there might be a lot of beer drinking and music blaring at all hours of the night but here the people are just so chill, happy, and relaxed. Its awesome and I dont think I will find cooler people in any other part of Colombia, I honestly love Cucuteños lol. Alright so Saturday we had a baptism!!!! Remember the Elders quorum president that baptized his son? Well we have been teaching his dad since I got here and he finally got baptised! It was a very happy moment for the whole family and I was so happy to be part of it and watch as a son baptizes his father. Is there anything more beautiful than that? Afterwards they both got up and bore their testimonies with tears in their eyes and the spirit was just so strong. It will be one of the most precious moments of my mission:) haha so my first Sunday here in Cucuta, the son (Agustine) and his dad(also Agustine) were in gospel principles class and I recognized right off the bat that the son was a member, but I wasn’t too sure who the old geezer was seated beside him. I sat down next to them to share my scriptures and the next thing you know Agustine(son) is playing with Agustine(fathers) ear. I think to myself  'What is going on between these 2 men,' not knowing that they were father and son. They noticed me kind of looking at them with funny looks and started to laugh, they didn't tell me anything but just kept on playing with each others ears lol. I tried to stop looking and focus on the class but it was hard! Then after Agustine came up to me and said Élder this here is my father, I saw you looking at us weird and know what you were thinking" "but believe me it's not like that" We all started to laugh and I told them that I too would always play with my dads ears in church. They always give me crap now about looking at them weird that first day, but that was how our relationship started off and I have grown to love both of the Agustines:) It was just icing on the cake to see them both in the water on maybe my last Saturday ever, in Cucuta.
Also I want to tell you what an awesome activity we did last Thursday night in the church. The missionary work organization of the ward council put it together. We called it Viaje a hawwaii, ya I’m  gonna let shay translate that;) So we worked almost all day Thursday putting it together. So we first had the 'airplane room' where everyone started, we had a stewardess who explained the flight plan and the emergency exits and stuff then we took off in the plane.....and crashed!!! We did the big airplane crash and turned off  all the lights then us 4 missionaries appeared on the stage all dressed in our white baptismal clothes as angels. We then divided everyone into groups and told them that they had died and were in the spirit world. We then explained some of the plan of salvation and took everyone on a tour of the 3 degrees of glory. We had decorated the rooms according to our own interpretations and a little bit of what D & C 76 explains to  us. We had a member in the telestial and terrestrial kingdom who explained a few things then, 2 missionaries being the tour guides leading the groups from room to room and 2 missionaries explaining the celestial kingdom. The best was that we got all of the primary kids to dress up in white and as every group entered the room they would sing a primary hymn. I would have to say that this part was the best, I could tell that more than a few people were impacted as they walked in the room where the baptismal font is and heard all of the little primary kids singing a sweet hymn, I was explaining the celestial kingdom so I got to hear them about 10 times:) It was great:) we had a ton of people show up and it was a big success!!
Well my time is winding down but I want to thank you again dad for helpíng me out on my talks, I have had quite a few people come up to me and ask if I can photocopy the last talk I gave on the sacrament, I had a few but I couldn’t do it for all of them. Also I wanted to share with you a little experience that I thought was cool. So I had to teach the gospel principles class yesterday, which was nothing unusual, I have had to do it quite a few times now and actually I love doing it! When the teacher doesn’t show up I usually always volunteer to throw something together lol. But so this time I did the same thing and  the lesson was on service. I gave the lesson and it went well I thought, then afterwards it hit me "My first Sunday in the field we had this same lesson, about a year ago...and I didnt understand one bit of it" "And now one year later I just got done giving the lesson in spanish!!" how completley awesome is that!!! Well it was cool to see how far I have progressed as far as the language goes.
Ok I have to tell you guys, ask Moises what Chinchuria is. One of my favorite families invited us over for dinner cause they knew that I was probably leaving. So they said they had a surprise and that they had to wake up really early in the morning to go buy it from the market, they also said that I probably wouldn't like it. It is called chinchuria and I have no idea how it is spelled but maybe Moises knows. The Ramirez family didnt exactly know for sure they just told me it was a part of the stomach of the cow or next to it. So they gave me a couple pieces and I had them make a video of me chomping into it. It was one of the grossest things I have tasted lol, but they knew that I wouldnt like it they just wanted to see me try it lol. 
Alright so yes I am going back to Bogota, actually back to the Zone where I started called Suba!!! but they made me zone leader this time!! I will be with and Elder Perez from Chile! my first chileno comp!!! I am so flippin excited because my comp is awesome!!! I met him when he was here in Cucuta, AND I get to go back to MY OLD HOUSE, MY OLD CHAPEL, and my old area is right next to the one that I started in! I am so excited to see them all and show them that now I can actually speak spanish! I am sooo happy right now and sooooooo excited to go work my butt off with a comp that likes to work his butt off too!!! Sorry the internet is way too slow to send pictures, I have like 20 milllion now that I want you guys to see but next week. Have fun questing it!~!!

-Elder (the curious meat man) Crook