Monday, May 26, 2014

My sister must be fast!!!

Well ya know I usually don`t really think about my letters until I`m right there in the internet opening up my e-mail. But ever since this morning, I was SOOOOOOOo anxious to run to the internet and find out how Shay did at state. Obviously I already knew that she had the 3000 won, but it was again so much fun to read and imagine Shaylen Crook my big sister, womping on all of the rest of the girls running. Great job Shay, you make me proud and are such a great example once again. I don`t think I can say that enough. Honestly I want to say I wish I would have been there, but I actually don`t have regrets about missing this one. Equally I`m sure you will all say the same thing, that you don`t regret me not being there. And some events about this week made me realize that I`m still supposed to be here, and that I have a lot to learn about being a missionary. 
Well my week has been great! I decided to name this period of my mission here in Bucaramanga, ¨The Golden Ages.¨ Haha I know it`s a little goofy but everything here just shines like gold, especially the sun! Also I came up with another name for my period of time in Bogota with Elder Perez and Landa ¨A Gringo in Paradise.¨ It`s just been quite the ride, getting to know different people and places and how they all think so distinctly. I have tried my best to enjoy every single minute of this time that God has given me. Honestly it`s funny because there were some really hard, sad, and tough parts a while ago, but as I remember and look and think back, everything just has the color of roses:) I kinda really like that about the human brain, because for some reason it remembers the best parts way better than the worst part. Even though I still believe in the phrase ¨the more miserable, the more memorable.¨ The miserable parts turn into the most legit and cool parts of the whole story! I think it`s just sooo incredible the amount of time and preparation that God has spent on my spirit and body, from before this life he was training me to be a missionary and putting soo much time and effort into me, just to have me come down to earth and serve him so little, to be so inept and weak. I can say proudly that I am trying my best, but that is never sufficient.   Tomorrow’s best has to be better than today’s best or I`m letting everyone down. I have been able to realize just a little bit more of how merciful everyone has been with me, and how everyone that I love most supports me 100%. Those are blessings that not many have.  
So I think I`m going to tell you a pretty awesome/weird/crazy story about a guy named Fabian. Bear with me here,  it might be a little long lol. So we first saw Fabian walking towards us down the street, like always I said ¨Hi, hows it going?¨ he responded a little more excited than most. ¨Ohh gentlemen I am great, thank you, have a nice day!.¨ So we kept walking but after about 2 steps I turned around to try to chase him down, but turns out that he was already headed our way. We wrote his number and address down, invited him to church and gave him a restoration pamphlet.  He`s about 40 years old and lives alone because he is recently divorced. This was Friday. Then we couldn`t visit him Saturday but he said he would come to church Sunday. Everyone says that but no one actually comes. Well he came...haha turns out that this guy has been amazingly prepared by God and his angels and I believe that now is his time to accept the restored gospel. comes the funny/weird part. He has a horrible temper! So we were in the gospel principles class and he was just having a great time answering questions and reading scriptures. BUT I guess one of the sister missionaries was in the back of the class making the lunch list for June, in the middle of the class. He did not like that one bit. At the end of the class he stood up and flat out yelled and chewed out the poor hermana from Argentina. Everyone was shocked at first, then it kinda made me angry. Honestly maybe he`s right, she should be paying attention, but no one EVER has the right to yell at a girl in that manner and in that tone of voice. I thought about trying to quiet him down, but just stayed silent and told him that we needed to end the class. Afterwards I took him aside and told him that NO ONE ever talks to a woman like that, no matter what. Obviously with as much love that I could find, but he seemed ok with it and later told me that he should have communicated better and shouldn`t have publicly humiliated her. Then both him and the hermana apologized between themselves after church. I HAVE NEVER SEEN ANYTHING LIKE THAT!!! Anyways since we hadn`t had a lesson with him, we went after church not knowing what to expect and come to find out that he read the whole pamphlet and had watched just about every movie the church has to offer online. We set a baptismal date with him for the 28th of May and are really hoping that he is able to prepare himself right for that day. Then he ended up shining and glueing my shoes together lol. But dang it was weird, first off I think I felt as bad as the hermana did when he was yelling, and second off, I totally thought she was going to burst into tears, but she was fine with it and took the scolding like a hardened champ lol. 
I just wanted to share that with you because it was the most interesting part of the week lol, I realize that it is still up in the air on if he will get baptized or not but I really like the story because it shows just how prepared some people are to receive the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and how willing they are to humble themselves change and get better. I want to tell you guys just how much I love you all and again how PROUD I am of my big sister and that we will talk next week. HAVE A GREAT WEEK!!! 
-Elder Crook

P.S Shay! save a cookie or 2 for me ehh!!! just kidding! you deserve all the cookies in the world and more!!! 

Monday, May 19, 2014

I have the BEST sister!!!

Dang, just reading that last e-mail about the 1500 race gave me chills!! My bet is that mom totally cried afterwards. Honestly out of all the weeks that I have been receiving letters, I think that this week has been THE BEST out of the entire time that I have been here. I can just picture my little sister at the 150 meter mark catching up and pulling away and the most excellent part was what dad told that happened afterwards. How humble and meek Shaylen was to turn around right after and cheer the other girls on and congratulate them all as they crossed the finish. When I read that part I honestly almost cried here in the internett as I was printing out the pages. Especially that last part just kinda surprised me and caught me off guard. That extra act of kindness really really impacted me today Shay. Dad said that you have always done that, but I guess me being absent from all of your races for the last 2 years has made me forget that detail. So it was really really nice to get a detailed story on how your race went and even the thoughts that passed through your head as you were running. I especially loved what mom wrote, ¨thats what life is all about- to dig down deep and find strength that you didn`t know you had.¨ I love that quote!!! because it´s soo true, it`s all or nothing...go big or go home baby. Nothing is ever worth doing unless you are willing to give 100% and then some. Thank you soo much Shaylen for giving me such a great example. I love it so much because you all know that I love sports, and when you combine those types of analogies with sports it just really gets to me. Honestly Shay you sometimes amaze me, for me to develop the attributes and talents that you have God has had to send me all the way to Colombia and test and try me in the mission field, but for you it just comes naturally and rapidly. Congratulations on having such an outstanding senior year and good luck at State this week, I know you`ll go out and kick some absolute butt:) I`ll be praying and cheering for you from here, LOVE YOU SHAY!
So we made it through the changes my compy and I:) actually everyone in the district stayed the same, but I am now no longer district leader which made me happy lol. So it looks like good ol Elder Meren is gonna kill me, HE´S GONNA BE MY KILLER LOL. I`m pretty happy because we get along well and have a lot of fun together. I decided that I`m going to really try super hard this change not to be as serious, because sometimes I think my seriousness turns into me being boring. And who wants a boring compy NO ONE, and I definitely don`t want to be that sour fart kind of a compy. Also remember how I told you guys that I was just getting super duper tired the other week, well I found the solution: more excercise!!!! haha I found out that the person that does more exercise is for the most part less tired. We are visiting a less active member that does absolutely nothing at all ALL day and every lesson he is always tired lol, so I kinda figured that out and have been putting it into practice and hope to get into tip top shape with my chocolatinas and all;) especially because I know that the day will come that I will challenge Shay to a foot race and really don`t want her to smoke me;) 
So I have 2 pretty funny stories to tell you guys, first I`ll start out with the district meeting last Wednesday. So I called the hermanas to let them know that we were going to meet up in the church at 10:30. Then they started telling me about Elder Dos Santos and how he was supposedly leaving to go home that day. (sidenote, I knew that he wasn`t going home because we are going home together.) So I just kind of went along with it and they asked if we were gonna do anything for him, I said ¨well we didn`t really have anything in mind.¨ So they told me that we needed to do SOMETHING for him, so I went along and told them that if they bought a cake we would buy the pop. They accepted and that’s what we did, after district meeting we ate some really delicious cake to celebrate the fake end of Elder Dos Santos`s mission;) Afterwards I kinda told them that I had tricked them into buying a cake and sharing it with us. It was pretty hilarious but afterwards I told them the next time I would buy the cake to make it even. 
The other funny story has to do with the ward talent night we had on Friday. So no one really had any ideas this time so I had to take matters into my hands and came up with a pretty funny idea. But it requires that I tell a little back story first. So anyways we have a pretty sweet bishop. And in sacrament meeting sometimes we don`t really sing the best lol. He is a good singer and is in the Stake choir, so sometimes it seems like he is being tortured up there listening to us all sing. So on 2 occasions he has got up in the middle of the song and explained to us how to sing and sound good and powerful. One time he even sang the whole first verse of the hymn just to demonstrate how it was supposed to sound. So I came up with the idea that we could start like we were in sacrament meeting and then we continued with the opening hymn. When no one in the crowd started to sing but only a few people I would get up and scold them all and then tell them that this time I really had to show them how to sing. So then I would play piano and my 2 counselors would sing with me. We sang a popular christian rock song that plays here lol. It was pretty easy to figure the notes out, and we all sang REALLY hard and loud. Then afterwards we went back to normal sacrament meeting and us missionaries ended up singing ´We`ll bring the world his truth really loudly.¨ So we did that, and I even put the keyboard on the guitar setting so it sounded even cooler. Haha my counselors who were Elder Dos Santos and his companion stood up and made the whole crowd clap and everything while we were singing. I thought it was a pretty original idea;) The next Sunday in Sacrament meeting every one was joking around about it and telling me that I did a good imitation of our beloved bishop lol. He even thought it was funny and in sacrament meeting, told me to come take his spot on the stand. So I think that this bishop is never going to forget Elder Crook and how he kinda made fun of him in the talent show;) 
Well It`s time to go I just want to let all of you guys know how much I love you and how much love I feel from your letters and prayers and especially how much love I feel from God and Jesus. I can feel it every day and I feel so blessed so happy and so privileged:) LOVE YOU ALL!!!!!! ÉCHALE GANAS ESTA SEMANA!!!! 
-Elder Crook  

p.s Sorry I have so many fotos to send you, but I ran out of time, hopefully next week you`ll get a ton:)

Monday, May 12, 2014

Talking without even missing you guys!!

Man was that awesome!!!!! I had such a great time talking to you guys! I realized afterwards that I hadn`t even felt one twinge of homesickness! I think that was the best skype session that we have had while I have been in my mission. It was just so awesome and made me even happier than I had been before. It`s so great what lies ahead of me because I know that I can work really really hard and be really happy and then go through a little bit of a change and keep working really hard and being really happy. I was also really surprised to hear how well Shaylen is doing with track this year after being injured. And how close her graduation is, THATS CRAZY!! also it was awesome to hear what Clint is up to and how Lexi is doing on her mission just so weird that now I actually want to communicate with people and see how they have been and how their lives are when before I could have cared less. So I really hope that Shay is able to finish strong and prepare for the VERY bright future that awaits her. WOOT WOOT WOOT SHES A UTE! Also I want to thank grandma and grandpa Geddes and Crook for just being the best grandparents in the whole wide world I pray for you guys every night and really hope that you are all well and healthy. Dad mentioned the grandma Crook needed a few things done around the house, so don`t worry, I`ll help you guys all that your heart’s desire:) Also I guess I`ll say hi to all my aunts and uncles and Melanie and aunt Tallie also Aunt Cindi:) sure love you guys and hope that you are all doing well and having a good springtime. I pray for you all and hope you are all receiving lots of blessings from heavenly father.
So this week was just pretty normal. We found a few new people this week, one of which is member of the 666 and sss church. I had never heard of this church before but the normal thought associated with a church being named 666 would be the church of the Devil right? Well that’s totally wrong lol. It taught me a good lesson on not to judge a book by its cover because that happens a ton. This church doesn`t believe in the devil, they believe that Jesus actually destroyed him with his atonement, also they don`t believe in works, they just believe that Jesus paid for our sins so we are already saved, which means sin doesn`t exist at all. Yup they don`t believe in sin either. It`s been kind of weird, but we have been able to develop a lot of patience. So I think this area has been the area where I have met the most people from other churches. The other day we had a lesson with a guy that had prepared 61 scriptures from the bible that confirmed that God the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Ghost are the same person. And a few of the scriptures were the SAME scriptures that we use to show the people that they are 3 separate beings but one in purpose. Sometimes my comp likes to sit and argue with them, but I usually just talk about the Book of Mormon and the restoration because I know that the best way to get them interested and maybe accept our message is to just teach the basics, what we always teach, not contend with them about their beliefs that they hold closest to them. I have realized that most everyone believes that their church is true just because they believe in ¨something different.¨ And they are so focused in on defending that ¨different belief¨ that it`s hard to open their eyes to the fullness. We ask them what a prophet is, or about the authority of the gospel and most of the time they have no idea lol. So it`s been kinda tough and frustrating, but at the same time I fell like it is strengthening my testimony because of all the people that yell at us and tell us to be careful because we are going to hell and condemning our souls lol. So I`ll just tell you a short story before I move on, so we were talking to one of our investigators that is a leader of the iglesia charasmatica internacional he started off asking us ¨what if when God all has us before him in the judgment seat he tells you guys that you were totally wrong?¨ I responded ¨well then I would asked him why did you totally lie to me?¨ he kind of paused and then just changed the subject. I thought it was cool because at least I know that they feel something with our testimonies even though they don`t share all of our beliefs. 
Well we went back to that same investigator to help him rip up his floor on Saturday. It was so legit! I totally went at ripping up the old tiles with my hammer and chisel and I honestly had a great time. I think he was a little caught off guard because we ripped up 2/3rds of the floor in an hour and then had to leave to go to lunch. But it has been a long time since I had been able to work in a service project like that. 
So I guess I`ll just finish with my mother’s day experience, hopefully this has been a decent letter because it has kinda just been all over the place, hopefully talking to you guys will make up for it. Anyways we have this sister in our ward that is really really really awesome and from the start she has called us her hijos. And we have called her from the start Mami luz lol. Whenever we don`t have lunch she has always been there for us and we have always been able to teach lessons in her house to our investigators and to her friends and family who aren`t members. She and her family have a special place in my heart because I know that they make real sacrifices for us missionaries. So I bought her a big whopping cake and had wrote on it ¨Feliz dia mami luz!¨ I don`t think she was expecting it when I walked in the open front door and shouted ¨HAPPY MOTHERS DAY MAMI LUZ!¨ it put a smile on her face and made me feel really good inside:) she`s always saying that us missionaries sacrifice a lot while we`re here. But I told her that we recognize as well that she makes sacrifices and those sacrifices need to be recognized as well. Well hopefully I can send you the pictures in a bit, I forgot my camera in the apartment and my comp is talking with his family. LOVE YOU ALL; YOU ARE THE BEST FAMILY IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD:)
-Elder Crook

Monday, May 5, 2014

Listos pa'l mundial baby!!

Hi guys, well hope you`ve had a great week. We`re thinking about skyping at 7:30 our time here in Colombia. So I`m not sure if, you guys are 2 hours behind or 3 hours. But at 7:30 my time and we`ll be all good to go. Also we`ll have an hour like the last 2 times. It`s weird that it will be the last skype call before we get to see each other in person. It`s really quite weird to think about seeing you guys again after a good sized chunk of time has passed. Well this week wasn`t anything special really. I got to go on an intercambio with my best bud Elder Dos Santos.  I went to his area where everyone says is the ´most dangerous place´ but nothing out of the ordinary happened at all. It was just so fun to be with him all day and be able to talk and reminisce of old memories and places and people. We are from the same group and I met him when I was in my training with Elder Da Silva. SO we`ve known each other for a while now. But I just love all the opportunities the mission gives you. For that one night I was in a little neighborhood on the outskirts of Bucaramanga with a Brazilian just preaching the gospel and having a complete BLAST! Some of those memories you just can`t ever forget. 
So things have been going decently well here in our area, Sergio and Merli keep on progressing and Merli invited her Dad to listen to us so we have been teaching him and he came to church yesterday so we were all pretty excited:) here in a little bit we have family home evening with them. Also yesterday we went to visit a less active member’s son who has cancer. They gave him only 6 days outside of the hospital and then he has to go back in for more dosages of chemotherapy. The mom reminds me a lot of my mom, and the kid is my age. I don`t think I could even comprehend what would be going on if that were to be happening to me. I have always been blessed with a strong healthy body and to lose that blessing, I don`t think I could handle it. So we went over there and shared a little message and gave him a blessing. It just put things in perspective a little bit. Sometimes we take things for granted and don`t appreciate what we have. It made me appreciate just a little bit more who I am, where I`m at, and the family that I have and that is so close to me. I really love you guys, and will never be able to thank you enough for all the support you have given to me. 
Well you all know I`ve been focusing and trying to work hard with the time that I have left. But this last week especially I have just been sooo tired for no reason. Like the more I try to work hard the more frustrated I get. And it`s not like we have a hard physical life. Just walk nothing else, I mean we do walk a ton but I just get so mad at myself sometimes for being tired. Also I feel like I am just going through the motions sometimes and the days just blur into weeks and then BOOM! we`re in May already and my mind got left behind when Elder Castrejon left. It`s just a weird experience, but I know that I am still working and getting better. So maybe this is just a challenge for me to help me learn that I can still do good things and keep going even when I am tired. 

So we had a pretty decent day today. I was thinking about going to a little pueblo today that apparently has an awesome view and is really great to take pictures, but there have been agricultural strikes in other parts of the country so the zone leaders told me to wait and then maybe in a few weeks we could go. So anyways we found this sweet soccer shop and I bought a few things to get ready for the soccer world cup here in June. Colombia made it in and everyone is really excited to see how they do. So I bought a jersey with the shorts and then put those on and added a few other things that I have accumulated over the past few months. The pictures I`ll send makes me look like Colombia’s biggest fan!! It was pretty legit. Then I bought another jersey that is my favorite of all!! Usually my rule has been to buy the jerseys of the local teams in the areas that I have been in and not waste my money on the jerseys from other countries. But this jersey is from a team in Italy called Juventus. And the reason I like it well, I`m sure you`re able to tell. But because it has the JEEP logo on the front of it. I was thinking about getting the words ¨It`s a Jeep thing¨ on the back but we`ll just have to see what happens. But now I can say that I am an hincha completa of Colombia. 
Well I really really really LOVE YOU GUYS and can`t wait to talk to you at 7:30 my time on Sunday!!! HAPPY MOTHER DAY MOMMY:) :) ;)
-Elder Crook