Tuesday, December 31, 2013

HO HO HO a very merry christmas and broken new years eve dreams;

Alright well it was absolutely awesome to get to talk to you guys on Christmas. I honestly don´t know how other missionaries are able to talk to their parents during the day and then just go back to work just like that. I personally have to have it be the last thing I do at night because there is always that little feeling of depression after the awesome cool out of the ordinary things that happen. So I´ve just tried to have a pretty normal Christmas this year. There are lots of elders who schedule appointments with members all day to go eat and have fun and celebrate, which isn´t necessarily the worst thing in the world if you do it with a missionary purpose. But we just tried to make it as normal as possible because I know from last year that there is a huge wave of depression that washes over us when its all over. This year that didn´t really happen. Even with the skype call, it made me really happy, but I wasn´t sad or that depressed afterwards, honestly talking to you guys just made me want to get a lot lot lot better and be the best! It was also really good to see the Pallos, thanks for saying hi to me for a few seconds and it was really cool to see Gage. I´m sure he´s changed a lot while we haven´t been able to see each other but he looked the exact same to me.  What dad says is true, basically everything is the same back home and hasn´t changed hardly at all. Thanks for your great letters this week, especially for the first paragraph of yours dad. I have the determination to do my best and be the best missionary for these last months of my mission. Elder Boyd, a really good friend I made in Cucuta, told me the other day that looking back now (he´s been home for the same time I have been here in Suba) he is so grateful for finishing his mission strong and it is something that nothing else can measure. I did a self evaluation yesterday in my personal study and wrote down all of my weaknesess and the things that I wanted to achieve in my study journal. Then said an extra personal prayer before we left to go contact people outside of the church and we went to work! We had a great day yesterday and I felt an immediate change in the effectiveness of our work. Hopefully this year I can make the BEST days I had last year be my normal days this year, I know it all depends on faith and actions, so here we go.
Well I basically already told you about the awesome lunch we had with the stake presidency and the mission president so I´ll just send you all the pictures I took to make the stories complete! We went caroling afterwards and it was a blast! We went to the biggest mall here in Suba and started to belt out Christmas hymns and there were quite a few people gathered around us listening, it made me kind of nervous lol but it was way cool. Then big bad mall cop came over (he was just a tad bit skinnier than Paul Blart) and asked the elder who was leading the music if we have permission to be here, he said welllll.....no, then the latino version of Paul Blart said, ¨well I guess this is your last number then.¨ I thought about showing him our authoritative ministry cards that we have and telling him we are representatives of Christ but thought against it lol. SO then we went and sang in ma brudda Willies belt shop on the street, he spoke some gangsta english and was a really cool guy. We sang all the Christmas songs in the hymn book and then got his number and address to go visit him. THEN we had a few other lessons AND an amazing Christmas eve dinner with a cool family that has a one less active member and one non member. We shared a cool christmas message and then we ATE SOME TURKEY BABY!!!! it was very very tasty lol. We had a blast making faces with our dessert and other things and it was a great way to end the day. 
Well we´ve been having some great weather here in Bogota. I feel like its summer break in Oregon. Just nice low 70´s with not a cloud in the sky and a light breeze. At nights it´s still cold but when the sun is out its just pure paradise here in the good ol Bogy;) 
So along with this great weather I had some sweet plans for todays p-day. Well it got changed because president thought we would be able to work better on monday instead of today where everyone is partying for the new year. SO its Tuesday and I totally thought that the Gold museum was going to be open, FINALLY I THOUGHT I WAS GOING TO GO. But no I guess today it´s closed due to holiday, I thought the real holiday was tomorrow but who knows lol, so my new years eve dreams were shattered and we just ended up staying here playing ping pong and eating MALL FOOD lol. So nothing that exciting happened today. EXEPT for that we have to start working at 5 instead of 6 and then we have to be in the house at 7:30 for our security. We had a dinner scheduled with a family of members and investigators but we´ll see  how that goes, I´m still full from my MALL FOOD;) SO I love you all and hope you guys have a great new year and get a good nights sleep like Shaylen will be getting;) Dad you´ll have to tell me how those fights went next week and your TV stand looks totally legit!!! I love it!
-Elder Crook

Monday, December 23, 2013

Feliz Navidad

Well guys I`ve been doing pretty darn good here! I kinda feel like Shay though and I`m not sure why, I`m just not in the Christmas spirit this year, and it feels weird. I think I felt like this last year as well though so it`s okay. It`s cool though because I will always remember this Christmas! It`s kinda weird, I really haven`t even got that excited to talk to you guys yet, just cause I know that I will have one hour of heaven then I will have to come back to real life. I`m pretty sure a million years could pass like this and I would still miss you guys like crazy. It`s easy to forget about you guys during the week and focus on working but just seeing you and being able to talk to you will just make things that much more real that I am super far away and I miss you. It`s all good though, I wouldn`t give this opportunity away for anything! SO our skype plans still aren`t that concrete BUT we do know that we will be doing it on 2 different days, so that makes it a bit easier to tell you guys when I will be skyping. So We´ll just do it from 7:30 to 8:30 at night on the 26th my time here, which would be 4:30 to 5:30 your time, remember I`m on east coast time. I`m saying 7:30 just if we have any mishaps like last time so I will try to be on and ready around that time ok! Sounds good right! I`m super excited!!!!!
Oh mom me pegaste un susto por la mañana!!!! I honestly can´t imagine how other missionaries feel when all of the members of their family don´t write them. I copied and pasted dads and shays and spent like 5 minutes dumbfounded because moms letter hadn`t come yet. I honestly felt like the world had come to an end and was never going to be happy again. Then I realized that a problem had probably occured because my mom ALWAYS WRITES ME!! haha it was just a little reminder on how I STILL take you guys for granted a ton. Hopefully you could find the humor in my litte note in the morning and yes I have calmed down and THANK YOU FOR THE MUSIC:) it`s gonna be so fun to learn! even though I have very limited time here on how much I can practice, I think I`ll be able to master it here. 
SO I went on splits with Elder Hicken last Tuesday and we always have a blast. I think we spent the whole day talking, to ourselves and to others. He`s one of the kids that just has made this part of my mission so much more fun. We always have such good days when we work together! We work hard and have tons of fun too! haha they have a gym right outside their house and we went down in the morning, needless to say after warming up a bit I made a beeline for the bench, the guy that was there put on like 85 pounds for me and I did that once like a toothpick, then I jumped off and jacked up the weight to 180 like the good ol days back home. I was able to do it, but not as many times as I was doing when I was home, the owner guy then proceeded to say este man tan berraco! I`m pretty sure thats not in the dictionary but it means like a stud or something along those lines. SO lets just say I woke up the morning after that with a pretty sore chest lol. But then we ended the wonderful split when we went to district meeting and had to go back to our normal comps which was good:)
So kinda bad news about our couple that was going to get married this week. They had everything good to go, to go to the marriage place (notaria) and get a date for their marriage. HOWEVER I guess there are no slots until next January. We had told them this like in the middle of November but the lady (Mayerli) said that she had investigated and the place that they were going to go could just marry them like 5 days afterwards or something so we agreed and she was wrong. SO as a last ditch effort we borrowed a phone book and started to call all of the marriage places in Bogota. There are 77 notarias lol. SO my comp called the first 20 with no luck then the second call I made was a hit! They told me that they could do it this month no problem, but I don`t know who I talked to because when our 2 investigators went the marriage place rejected them until january. So It was a real bummer for me once again to have setbacks with a complete family (remember Tunja?) yeah the complete family has been quite elusive for me and my time here. But our investigators told us the 18th of January they would be married and baptized. I`m sure they will be it was just a bummer that it wasn`t this week, I think I was relating my Christmas this year with their marriage and baptism, but I didn`t get as down on myself as I did the first time in Tunja. That feeling lasted for my whole first change in Cucuta so I`m trying to be an optimist. BUT I WANT TO SEE A COMPLETE FAMILY BAPTISED!!! and I haven`t yet. But theres still hope, and the good thing was that it wasn`t anything about their efforts it was just bad planning, they were pretty bummed too. Their names are Diego and Mayerli.  Maybe if you could keep them in your prayers and we could witness a christmas miracle in january!!!
SO I was reminiscing on my p-day last year:) haha it was the first p-day of mi hijo elder Escobar and I`m sure you can remember that we had a great 4by4 adventure on those mini fourwheelers:) I don`t know if I would do that again, but it sure was sweet!!! that was such a special time in Tunja with Escobar , Larsen and Avila:) this year we didn`t do anything that extravagante. But I did go to a sweet mexican restaurant and eat SUPER NACHOS!!!  They were pretty darn good and I savoured every bite. Then I just hung out with Elder Hicken and our other gringo bud elder Benson, I think goofing around with the dudes oops uhh Elders lol is just about the best you can get!!
OH BABY I forgot to tell you, our stake president loves us so much that he invited the whole zone tomorrow for lunch in the chapel. Who knows what we`ll eat but I`m stoked!!! Our president is so cool and we have a great relationship with him, so more on that next week.....wait no THURSDAY WHOOOOOOO HOOOOOOOO!!!!! Love you guys sooooo much! hope I won`t cry when I see you like last time on mothers day. I don`t think soo this time I`m a LOT HAPPIER!!!!! LOVE YOU ALLLLLLLL HAVE A GOOD SAFE NEXT 2 DAYS AND I`LL SEE YOU THURSDAY!!!!!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Happy Anniversary

Well I´m not sure what a ¨silver¨ aniversary is but it sure seems interesting lol.   Too bad the hobbit couldn´t be a part of it lol. But I congratulate you both for lasting so much time with the same companion. That’s a pretty amazing feat. Let’s just say there’s no emergency transfers in marriage. Heck there aren´t even any planned changes to look forward to when you want to get rid of your compy (not that that has EVER crossed my beautiful mind). But at least you got to choose you companion, thats a big plus, I think maybe I could do it with Elder Perez, or E´ Albrecht or Hicken lol.

SO last monday I had kind of a funny story. So me and hickey stayed in the chapel till about 4 practicing our duet. There were some niños playing on the field and they left and gave us the keys to give to the bishop, no big deal right? Wellllll not necessarily when they forgot that the deadbolt is in one of their backpacks. SO we go to leave and find that we can´t lock the gate. Well that’s a really big deal. So I raced home changed and went and wrote you guys, all of this time leaving the chapel unlocked because the bishop wasn´t answering. SO finally afterwards at 6 we were able to locate the niño and he was still unaware of the deadbolt (ahhhh niños) haha I had to track him down and tell him to STAY WHERE YOU ARE SO I CAN SHUT THE CHAPEL. Turns out in all of my haste, I lock the keys in the apt. (first time in 4 months). I who had done it once before knew exactly what to do. Get the ladder from the maintenance  guy and climb in through the window which is strategically left unlocked for precisely these moments lol. BUT the maintenance  guy had gone home early haha. SO my set of keys being the only ones we use were in the apt along with the church keys to lock up the gate...Wonderfull. Good thing I´m an eagle scout and am always prepared with a plan. We have a member just around the corner of the apt and miraculously he had a ladder. Haha the look on the security guard’s face was so funny when I walked through the door with a 20 foot ladder. It was literally 5 minutes after I had asked about the maintenance one. He thought I was out of options but NO I have connections lol, It´s great to be a missionary:) So I climbed in through the window and was at the church in a matter of minutes to close the gates like at 7. Well yet another learning experience of how if you don´t take a minute to slow down and think things through in stressfull moments, more stressfull moments are going to compound the problem. It was pretty funny the look on the security guys face though. That made it all worth it:)
WELL we had an AMAZING Christmas conference that was actually a whole lot of fun. It´s cool to see how president has lightend up just a tad from last year. Last year’s Christmas conference consisted of A HUGE 4 hour capacitation on how to teach short lessons, how ironic. 30 minutes to scarf down a really good but really small lunch, more capacitations, a small Christmas video and passing out a few gifts from the mission. This year was full of musical numbers and a really good lunch, tons of games and stuff and the same movie as last year. It was a lot better and a lot more relaxed. President is still really really strict though. Our number was THE BEST haha we played it sooooo goood! I only messed up once playing it the last time through fast and Hickens voice cracked super hard on our last big opera note lol we had everyone laughing sooo hard and it was classic. I will never forget it, I wish I could send you guys the video but oh well. Oh about the piano, well I realized that I really really really love to play and that I regret it so much not having learned the hymns before. So It´s a goal I´ll have  to learn to play all the hymns. Oh and ma, don´t forget about that sheet music!
Well on top of the Christmas conference we had our ward Christmas activity, it was the most legit activity I have ever been to. They rented a TON of games and blow up houses and cool stuff to do it looked like the circus from outside the gates. And the best part was the ELECTRICAL BULL, yeah pretty sweet huh:) Well I had to go buy a new SD card just so I could have a video of me dominating the bull. Yeah the other one is full;) so I did get up and kick the bulls butt for about a minute and a half until I was so dizzy from spinning in the same direction that I just kinda let go and flopped onto the pad dizzier than a drunk dude on Friday night. It was tons of fun and I had a blast helping set up and talking to all of the members and all of our investigators, they all congratulated me on my succesfull run on the wild bull. You mine as well call me Vaquero Crook instead of Elder;) Also before in the morning we went caroling with our district to a few investigators and me and Hicken had tons of fun singing goofilly to the investigators. We were going to go sing ¨Feliz navidad¨ to all of the Jehovahs Witnesses that were out in full, but decided against it lol (probably a good idea) 
Well to finish the night we had a baptism:) it went well and hopefully he will become a strong member, a member baptized him which is always better than one of us. So hopefully we can do a good job with the ward setting him up with a network of support. He is the boyfriend of a very active member who got pregnant and had her baby a few weeks ago. They have said a few things about marriage but who knows. But I know the gospel has made a big impact on his (carlos) life. 
Well turns out that I think we are gonna have to skype the 26th because we were planning on going to a members house for Christmas eve and skyping our families BUT president says no members computers( don´t ask me why) so no one is going to have an internet open the 24th. Sorry, I was really excited to do it as well on the 24th but the 26th will be just as good. WE also can´t call to set up a time so I will figure everything out really well this week and e-mail you guys with the time next monday.
To end, I can´t believe Shay has narrowed her colleges down to 2 WOW! this will definitley have to be a subject of matter when we skype. I CAN¨T BELIEVE DECISION TIME IS SO CLOSE. Well I really love you guys, thanks to gradma and grandpa Crook who e-mailed me this week. Sorry I´ll get you your personal e-mail next week. But I´m glad grandpa liked listening about us giving it to the christian missionary:) haha! LOVE YOU ALLL SOOOOO VERY MUCH AND TALK TO YOU NEXT WEEK!
-Elder Crook 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Thanksgiving Error

Haha,  well I´m sure glad you guys had a good week this week. All that food you ate sounded real good, but I can wait another year no big deal. I can´t believe Shaylen is driving to Eugene flying to Utah, and coming back completely alone! Where did my little sister go? I remember the last time I was in the car with her I got out and had to change my britches because of the panic attack she had given me;) Haha be safe Shay:) I also can´t believe that it is decision time!! It never crossed my mind that she would already be decided on a college and I will still be here. Lets just go to Swocc together.  How do you feel about that toots? Thinking back now it´s not a bad idea, after being away from home for such a long time.  I think I would have embraced it. But when I was in high school it would just make me so mad  whenever dad would talk about swocc, but you know I always knew better than him;) Haha I remember also he made me mad when we were at Pacific and told me I shouldn´t base my decision off of the students that took us on a tour and did a Q and A with us. I don´t know if you guys remember that but the student said more swear words than normal ones lol. So good luck toots, I´ll be praying for you from here. And CONGRATS for being such a stud and getting to talk in stake conference, and I like the attitude of a 10 to 15 minute talk. You rock Shay!!
Well so I´m very surprised that no one teased me about forgetting when Thanksgiving was. So on Thursday we were going to do a baptismal interview and walked through a mall to get there. To my surprise the Dallas Cowboys were playing on the big screen, I thought ¨wow I totally forgot about Thursday night football, man thats awesome.¨ Then I told one of the other gringo missionaries and he said ¨well that’s cause Thanksgiving is today.¨ I was dumbfounded and we started to call all of the other gringo missionaries and they all confirmed that yup it was last Thursday lol, and that I had been misinformed by E´ Hicken.  He even told me that he had forgotten too. So whatever day Thanksgiving was, I didn´t miss it much lol. BUT we have from the 23rd to the 26th to talk....I feel like we should do it on the 24th, that would be real nice, maybe at night but I´m gonna do some thorough investigating to find out what internet is the best and when and how late they are open. I will not let what happened last time happen this time, it´s going to be just a nice peaceful hour of chatting:) so tell me what you guys think and next week I will be checking my skype account. 
Well this week we had a sweet lesson with some people from a Christian church. We had already talked to the family a few times before and had given them the restoration lesson. But this time they brought their friend who is supposedly a missionary for her church. So she had already read a little bit of the Book of Mormon and when we arrived she just started to yell at us and say that the Book of Mormon is false and a whole bunch of other good stuff. Her main argument was that Moroni, a man, could not be resurrected and show himself to Joseph Smith. So we politely asked if we could share a short message and she said yes and stopped yelling. So it was so cool because we didn´t do anything different than what we normally do. Except for share our testimonies super hard and testify of our authority. We started and she didn´t think that there was an apostasy because Jesus left behind the Holy Ghost, so we read like 5 scriptures in the new and old testament that clarify that there would be an apostasy. Then we did our normal thing and ended good and she seemed pretty taken aback. Then she pulled out the same thing she started with the Moroni thing and it was awesome because the week before we had just done the gospel principles class of the second coming and the first resurrection. So I remembered exactly where the scripture was in Matthew 27:52 I think it is the one that says after the resurrection of Christ others will also be  resurrected and manifest themselves to others. It was so cool because she just got really quiet and had nothing left to throw at us. It was the first time on my mission where I have answered all of the questions with the Bible and taught someone from another church who has quite a bit of biblical knowledge something new. And it was all thanks to the spirit and the mantle of authority that is given to us as missionaries, that makes all the difference. I walked out of that lesson feeling really good about how the spirit was able to work through me in such a way. It was a cool experience
Well I survived the cambios and it will be my first area where I´ll be here for 6 months. Usually after 4 changes one leaves their area but E´Albrecht, ma boy has already hit his 6 month mark in Yopal and he is staying one more change there lol. So I´m really happy to be staying here for Christmas. It´s going to be the best Christmas of my life I think because we have a marriage scheduled the 27th and the baptisms the 28th. So we didn´t really have to do anything as far as the cambios went today because there were only 3 and we just made one of the district leaders take them to the bus terminal lol. But tomorrow we´ll have to go pick up a few Elders in the morning coming from Cucuta. 
Well I want to tell you something really cool we did this week. So we have a goal in our mission to find 10 new investigators weekly.  We had a leadership conference all about it last month so this WHOLE month I have trying to excite everyone here to achieve the goal so we can be the first ones in Bogota to do it. Apparently it´s pretty hard to find a lot of new people here in the big city but it´s possible. SO this week the last week of the change when everyone is usually slacking off waiting to be changed we did it!!! We averaged 10.25 new investigators in every area and I was super happy I called everyone and congratulated them all.  It was really cool. We in our area found 16 so  we sure weren´t slacking either lol but it was also another cool experience. 
Well to finish, you all know I´m a teaser right, Shay especially. Well I  kinda tease E´hicken a lot and sometimes he gets mad. So I throttled it down a little bit because I know that it annoys him a bit. But at district meeting he just kept messing around with me, tickling and poking and squeezing lol. He even threw a wet paper towel at me when I was in the bathroom lol. So I told him in a joking but serious manner that there was a storm coming.....so just when things were getting settled down I wet willied him in both ears:) hahaha he got super mad and punched me HARD. He gave me a dead leg and didn’t talk to me for the rest of the time. All I said after was well well well you can dish it out but you can´t take it huh. Haha he didn´t even say one word while I was laughing my head off. He actually didn´t talk to me the whole rest of the week until Sunday and I asked him if things were all good. He just said it was an overreaction and we went back to being best friends lol. I bet we just sound like a bunch of little girls right:) haha we probably are. So today they didn´t get changed and he is starting his 4th change as well in his area and we spent all day today in the house because my comp just wanted to sleep all day. SO we made the best of it and made us some giant tacos with his comp while mine slept. He´s a good kid, I don´t know who else would come over and waste a p-day in the house with me, so as dad said he´ll proabably be a great friend for the rest of my life. As for me well I think I´m getting to be a better person:) this morning I was more mad then I have been in a long time that we were just going to have to stay in the house. But fortunately the choice words I had for my compy stayed in my brain and I went and said a prayer and then started to work out my anger lol doing push ups and curls and sit ups until they came over lol. Now I´m fine and know that the most important thing is that we do good work together:) You know my way of thinking though, WORK HARD, PLAY HARD, SLEEP HARD:) haha love you guys a ton DE VERDAD 
-Elder Crook