Monday, January 27, 2014

How to Eat Fried Hormigas!

Well I really am getting settled in, here in good ol Bucaramanga. It`s a great place to be a missionary, and I just love it! It`s cool because I`ve felt like every area, although very different, has progressively gotten better. And I have been able to get into the groove faster and faster in each one. When one is in the groove, it means that you are having fun, working hard, and the time is passing by fast. When time goes by slow that is when you are not in the groove and still getting used to things. This week was a better week:) there are still the daily challenges like always but those are just normal now.  One thing that I really like about Bucaramanga is that the city really loves it`s citizens. It`s always clean, there’s not much violence and it`s beautiful!! There are tons of parks and palm trees, and my personal favorite is that there are these work out parks open to the public. They have all kinds of work out machines with these cement cylindars as weights and everything is cemented into the ground. So we are taking advantage and waking up at 6:15 to make it over there at6;30 6.40 to  have a good 40 minute workout in the mornings. I made my workout sheet again and we are going Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, alternating legs and arms. It has been kind of a wake up call for me because I got on the bench press and started to try to press 3 stones on each side, my mind was usedto  what I was able to bench so when I started I pushed the bar up a couple of inches and my mind said yeah you can do about 6 reps, but NO! I wasn`t even able to get the bar up all the way!!! Then a guy on my side said, `you might need to take one off there white guy` what a shame..... but nonetheless I took one stone off each side and did my reps. So theres a little work to do lol, hopefully I`m here a while;) 
SO I sent you guys a picture of me and E`perez with our kids, but forgot to tell you guys in the last letter that he is my district leader. It was so good to see him again and we have spent the last 2 p-days together with our kids. His kid  is from Eugene, yeah Eugene Oregon, but his parents are guatemalans so he speaks fluently in both english and spanish. Perez always tells stories of our time together in Suba in the district meetings.  He is going home this change so I will try to take advantage of the time we have until he goes. Mom I think that all the missionaries that are leaving always are home on that same Friday, but thats all I really know. 
SOOOOO you might want to know what hormiga means....or maybe you already know, but its ant. Yeahhhh welll Shay said that Melinda had told you guys a little bit about the delicacy here in Santander (the department, or state I`m in) so yup they are these montrous ants that only come out of the ground once a year around may. But these things are WHOPPERS! On top of being extra grande they are quite pricy as well. So we came along the little setup in the street and I asked how much the fried ants cost. The lady says, well we have bags of 2mil, 5mil, 10mil and 20mil. I picked up a good size bag and said give me this one, it`s 2mil right. No thats the one of 20!! haha then I saw a huge bag and asked well if this is the one of 20 how much is that big honker. She responded 140mil!! about 75 or 80 dollars!!! WOW, big money huh. So I bought one of 2 mil with about 10 ants in it(those are the most expenisve ants I`ve ever heard of!) and walked off with a big smile on my face! I was super stoked to eat fried hormigas!! So we get to the house that night and come to the conclusion that we need to make a video. So my comp gets his camera out (mine was out of battery) and we make a video of us both trying the very first ant in our lives. YEAHH well lets just say I`m glad I didn`t buy the bag of 140 (i wass thinking about it;) those nasty little buggers just taste like pure charcoal.  At first it was like a little salt and oily taste but afterwards, just pure charcoal. So I haven’t eaten another one. Also I left the bag out and the next morning it was full of the normal sized ants, who knew ants were cannibals? haha I`ll send you a few pics just to show you the size of the buggers, they`re about the width of your 2 fingers put together.
SO mom you can put all the MHS and BYU shirts on the quilt, whatever you think is best, and Dad I have tried to do most all of the things that you gave me as advice. Well first off I still don`t know who is the ward mission leader, we called him and scheduled a meeting in the church at 5,30 but he didn`t show, so at 6 we left to go to a lesson. The bishop however is really great, but I feel like he is just weighed down by his calling and feels like he has to do everything, so he doesn`t really do a whole lot either. But we were able to talk to him, and here in the mission we have started to rescue people that have been less active since last August. I know this stuff like the back of my hand because we had to give tons of training meetings to the missionaries and the members in Bogota, so we are working to have our 15 names that we are supposed to have. Also we have a meeting with the 1st counselor who is in charge of the ward mission leader and the missionary work in the ward to see if we can make some headway with him. But I`ll let you know how it goes. We did however use that tactic of `in what can we help you with` with the bishop and it worked.  He told us that he had asked the hermanas to go to the city office building and ask for a map of the area and how much it would cost. But they hadn`t done it yet, well the next day we went and got that all taken care of and returned and reported on Sunday. Hopefully we gained some points there:) 
So I bought a sick Bucaramanga jersey today in the center, yeah I was thinking about the version with the beer logo on the front but I decided against it;) ) Love you guys!!! I also bought a Colombian sombrero!!1 Finally I found a cheap one:) LES AMO!!! BENDICIONES!!!
-Elder Crook 

Monday, January 20, 2014

One of the Toughest but Most Rewarding Weeks

Well to start off, I forgot my journal in the apartment so sorry if my letter is kind of disorganized. But man I just LOVE YOU GUYS SOOOO MUCH! It makes me so happy and content to read your weekly letters, it´s just great! Well I got my bags all packed up last Monday night and Tuesday morning and said goodbye to what has been my best and favorite area, Suba. We spent most all of the day in what??? yeah training meetings for the trainers, how AWESOME! haha I did get to be with Elder Albrecht all day so that was cool. He´s training in Duitama right now, like 40 min from Tunja, it´s cool how we have had similar missions. BUT the bus ride was worse than I remembered, maybe last time it was that I came from really hot (Cucuta) to normal weather in Bogota. And that was fine, but I went from normal to hot this time which really sucked. We left at 9 at night and by the time it was about 3 in the morning I couldn´t sleep just because I was so hot and sweaty on that stupid bus. But we finally got to Bucaramanga at around 5:30 6 in the morning. I´ve gotta say, I´ve loved Bucaramanga since the second I stepped of the bus!!
So the bus ride did give me time to get to know my comp a little better. His name is Elder Castrejon from Trujillo Peru. He is a pretty legit companion and is really relaxed and chill with things. As you know I really like those kinds of companions:) He has been a member his whole life and is 21 years old. I asked him why he waited so long to come out, he said that he graduated his high school at 16 years old worked for a year or 2 and started to study medicine when he was 18. He says that he really wanted to go when he was 18 but couldn´t, so he started to study, and did one year, then another year and one year more lol. He kinda tells it funny but before he knew it he was 21 years old and hadn´t gone on a mission, so he stopped studying (he was going into his 4th year of medicine) and came out here to the mish. I am really fortunate as a father because he’s already a really good missionary. He just needs some guidance and direction so that he can be the best he can be and realize the potential he has. He has lived on his own for 5 years now so missing his family is not a problem. He´s been a member for his whole life so he knows all of the rules and missionary norms and is obedient without being watched, and he´s got a good easy going personality that anyone could get along with. What more could a trainer want? he´s a good comp and I feel like I´m becoming to love him, it´s not hard at all like it has been with other comps:) 
So it´s my first time opening up an area, and can I tell you has it been GREAT!!!! So last year my ward was actually 2, but they both started to disappear and they were both consolidated into 1.   Last year there were 4 missionaries in each ward, or 8 where we are now. There is a companionship of hermanas so between us 4 we have the whole ward. So I take back every bad or mean thing I have said about hermanas.  This last week they have been a HUGE help for us. The last change it was just them for the WHOLE ward, so they knew where our house was and where to go in the area, and they helped us get to know the area a little bit. The area is AWESOME, we have great investigators and basically all of them have been ones that the hermanas have given us and from the area book. Bucaramanga stays at an average of 78 to 85 degrees everyday, and boy is it heavenly!!! man I´m in HEAVEN. I love the weather, not cold at all but not hot like Cucuta, Cucuta is just too hot for me. But here is the absolute best!! mom you should look up on google maps, Plaza real (place close to the house) Conjunto real (our SICK apt complex) and barrios: Mutis, mazanarres, and estoraques. This is where we are working principly. 
So our apt is the best I´ve lived in yet, it´s a penthouse on the last story, it´s got a huge balcony were you can see a lot of Bucaramanga, and it´s got a pool down below lol, not like we´re ever going to the pool but it´s totally legit!!!
The ward received us normally, I thought they would be a lot more excited lol, but they were just like great....woohooo....the new elders....I tried to seem all happy and excited as could be and ask a few members for help but it was just so funny how they reacted, just kinda like well...good luck elders, keep up the good work. So we´ll have to show them that we are missionaries for reals and are here to work work work and kick some butt maybe then we´ll gain a little trust with them which all starts with the bishop.  Dad I like the big picture part you told me about, I think I´ll try it when we meet with the bishop and ward mission leader this week! love you all!!!! Congratulations Shay!!!!!! I´m a happy guy:)

Elder Crook

Monday, January 13, 2014

Bucharamanga Here I Come!!

Well well well, I´m sure you´re all anxious to know what is going on down here in the transfers of the Bogota North Mission. Well I´m leaving the Bogy once again, I´ll miss good ol Bogota but what lays ahead of me will be much more exciting than these last 2 changes. So I´m going to be a father for the 3rd time in the mish, wow you can say my seed is very fertile;) it sure is spreading lol. SO I will be going to a place called real de minas to open up the area to missionary work. I´m not sure how long there hasn´t been any missionaries there but my kid and I will be the first ones to be there in this new year. I¨M STOKED! I know that its going to be a challenge because I´ve never gone into an area not knowing anything. My companion has always been there at least 1 change before to get to know the place, even if they don´t hardly have investigators lol. But I am soooo stinkin excited first to see who  my kid is, and second to get to work!!!! I don´t know if I had mentioned to you guys before but ever since I have got here to Colombia I have heard about Bucaramanga and about how it is such a beautiful place and everyone calls it ¨the paradise¨ of the mission. So I have always wanted to go there and now I actually get to go!!!!! Another scary thought that came to my mind last night just as I was about to go to sleep was that ¨wow, this is surely going to be your last area in the mission.¨ Yeah, you know that just scared the living sleep straight out of me;) So I will be going to the temple to pick my newbie up tomorrow morning. I´m sure we´ll have some type of training  deal for all the trainers and newbsters by the assistants and president, and then it´ll be OFF to Buca which is about a 10 hour bus ride. At least it´s not Cucuta this time lol. Also I will be able to pass by the tranquil little town of Tunja which is on the way to Bucaramanga, which I´m excited about, that town has a special place in my heart:) Also (sorry for being all over the place in this letter) but Elder Avila, one of my best Latino buddies, is assistant now and I wasn´t surprised at all to hear that he had gotten transferred to be assistant.  He is one of the best, strongest missionaries that I have known. About 6 months ago his mom died but he decided to stay here and finish out his mission, which is just impossible for me to imagine how he could even function after a blow like that. But he´s such a good example of enduring to the end. 
Speaking about that, I feel really really really good about what I have left here in Suba. I really feel like I will be leaving this area better then how I found it, even though I found it in really good condition. We have 1 baptism coming up next week, and the couple (diego and mayerli) that were gonna get married moved to another ward here in Bogota. SO we passed the reference and the last time I talked to them, they had set their marriage date for february 1st, so hopefully they actually get married and baptized on that date. I wouldn´t be surprised the least bit if they do, they are some of the very very few people that you can call ¨golden investigators¨ they would have gotten baptized in November with Mayerli´s mom and sister but the wedding stuff just took a long time. This last week we found 13 new investigators and our goal is 10 every week, and it´s so cool because this area is the only area that I´ve been in that EVERYONE within 1 block of the house knows who we are because we´ve talked to them all about the church at least once. So it´s just really cool to leave the house and say hi to everyone, because they all know that we´re the ¨muchachos mormones¨  
So I´m still really proud to say that my sister´s a ute, haha love ya toots, hey I wanted to ask you, whats your high school G.P.A and if you even applied to BYU? do you still have all A´s or what? also the spanish phrases that you wrote me were really good. I can tell you that I had no idea how to use those conjugations of the verb ir and ser in high school, thats actually a really high level of spanish Shay, way to go y que te vaya bien en los ex├ímenes que vienen. Also it´s cool to hear that Ryan P is the new bishop and the Keith Huff is the second counselor, I don´t think I ever met him formally. But sure thing pa I´ll be waiting for those funny church stories and you know it the more miserable the better;) just please don´t let the ward counsel get to out of hand lol, sometimes that happens here and nothing gets accomplished but hurt feelings and missionaries that no one ever listens to. Hey missionaries know whats going on.....listen to them!!
So I just really want to say to you guys that I know God knows me perfectly, he has given me companions that have made me better and areas as well that have made me better. I always have the good intentions to get better and better each day but there have been some times in my mission where I have felt myself plateauing, and then God has sent me a companion that has made be better or sent me to an area that has kept me from plateauing. In the last leadership council, I was talking to Elder Albrecht about that and how I was kind of plateauing.  I was kind of getting tired of babysitting missionaries, sitting on my butt in a training meetings for 8 hours straight, and always trying to help everyone else work harder and stuff like that. We came to the conclusion that we might have had enough zone leader time and wanted to go back to being missionaries without so many responsibilites and just having to worry about the people in our area. Interestingly we both got changed to train lol, kinda weird huh. But I´m so happy and thankful for what God has given me and I know that it has been exactly what I have needed. Love you all!!! next time I´ll be writing you from BEAUTIFUL BUCARAMANGA:)
-The ever so content and happy, Elder Crook 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Woot Woot, She's a Ute!!!

Well hey there guys:) I just read Shays good news!!!!! Well all the college pressure is off now, and all you have to worry about is having a good season and doing your best, and maybe winning state;) Haha I love you tons!!! Well dad was totally right about my New Years’, we were in the house by 7:30 and had planned by 8. Then I was able to get in some extra exercises before going to bed a good 45 minutes early. It was a real good New Years....then we woke up so refreshed the next morning to start the year of 2014 off right, working hard. Haha I remembered the last New Years Eve that I spent with you guys, me and dad went hunting and I shot me a big ol cow elk. That was some time ago wasn´t it. However we were able to go to our New Year’s eve dinner with a part member family, share a short little lesson and dig into our 2nd DIGO SECOND turkey dinner!! It was pretty darn tasty, they sure do know how to make turkey here in Colombia. So that was the New Years Eve. Then for New Years Day,  it was a sight to behold, first of all in the morning there was not a soul in the street. Then in the afternoon I started to see the action go down. First of all right after lunch (oh it´s important to know that I was on an intercambio in Jordan my first area) we passed by some old investigators of the elder thats there right know. I didn´t know them at all but they were cooking food in the street and listening to music at full blast. They invited us over and immediately started shoving potatoes and charred pieces of meat in our hands, it was quite the experience but that’s just how the people are here in Colombia, needless to say I couldn´t eat all of the food because I had just eaten a good ol turkey lunch at the home of the ward mission leader of Jordan, yeah they are always really excited to see me:) then throughout the day I saw a few drunk people having a water fight but with beer and others in taxis just completely passed out. It was pretty crazy because I didn´t see ANYTHING like that in Tunja on New Years day. Tunja was like a ghost town the whole day lol. Anyways those were my New Years festivities.
So Pa, is Charly Barber still the bishop in the Ward or did they make Ryan or Allen M the new bishop? I had no idea that was coming at all! It was definitely the shock of my day today lol. I thought you were just getting warmed up to your high priest calling lol. Now I know you´ll do a great job, haha at least you’re not the actual bishop lol, everytime there is something that us as missionaries don't want to deal with we just tell them to go and talk to the bishop lol. Or with the missionaries when that happens we just tell them to call the assistants or the president – that’s a good tactic just if you didn´t know;) haha but I love you and hope that you can find a lot of enjoyment and a feeling of fullfillment as you magnify your calling. I know you´ll do great and you´ll be in my prayers like you always are. You´ll not only have funny work or home stories now but also funny and goofy church ones! Oh and as well my white bible says June 13 2012 to June 17 2014, I assume it’s for my missionary plaque right, well you better tell that new bishop (if there actually is one) to get his butt in gear and MAYBE just MAYBE my plaque can have a few months of glory that it deserves. Haha thanks as well for the detailed fight updates, I feel like I was actually was there the way you described Anderson Silvas leg just breaking in half. Totally legit, even though it is useless information like you call it, it´s still fun to read;) 
So I can´t believe the Pallos are moving that soon! Dang I thought that they would have done it this summer but I´m happy for them and that Nicole was able to find a job. Will they stay in the Bay until they sell the house or how are they going to work it? Anyways Pallos: I love you guys and wish you all the best in starting this new chapter of your lives, say hi to Alex for me and tell him he´s a STUD:)
So we had another leadership conference last Friday and it was pretty normal. You always learn a lot of good new things and are reminded of good things as well. Its just getting kind of boring though now. Just going and sitting for a good 8 hours and listening and listening and listening more. It is cool though to see all the elders from all over the mission and get to talk for a little bit. Its always a good time for me and Albrecht to catch up on things and visit for a little as well. 
So we had a cool experience last night, a lesson had just fallen through and we were in need of a new investigator to achieve the goal of 10 for the week, and out of the blue a guy and his sister walk by and they said hi elders we live in your apartment complex, if you don´t have anything to do come up and eat some crepes with us and teach us a lesson. The one guy was an inactive member that was baptised in the U.S and his sister was a non member so we found our new investigator!!!
So today for the last p day of the change.  We played soccer all day with members, it was fun then we went back to our house and me and goood ol Elder Hicken hung out for a while. Then we said our p day goodbyes because I am sure he is getting changed next Monday. As for me I´m about 50 50 on if I will or not, I still don´t feel like it´s my time to leave but I guess we´ll just have to see. I really love you guys like crazy and I will talk to you next week!!!! AND WAY TO GO SHAY FOR VERBALLY BECOMING A UTE UTE UTE WOTTY TOOT TOOT!!!!!!!
Elder Crook