Monday, February 24, 2014

It Doesn't matter where you are at or what you are doing, it matters on WHO you are with!

So I`ve had a decent uneventful week this week, it was a good last week of the change. Yup me and my kid are staying together for another one here in Real de Minas:)
So I sent you a pic of Elder Perez and I last week at our last p-day together. We all got together and the Peruvians (there are a ton from Peru here in the Zone) made a Peruvian dish called Lomo Saltado which is what you saw in the picture. It was fun and the food was pretty tasty. We played some mikro and just basically sat around and talked while we waited for the food to cook. Then on Tuesday, we had a zone service project where we went and cleaned up a neighborhood. We just basically picked up trash and swept the streets but the neighborhood was in a huge hole! haha we had to climb up tons of stairs but the view was awesome. I`ll send you guys pics. Then Wednesday we had district meeting and I said goodbye to my best buddy Elder Perez. He left Wednesday night for Bogota spent the day Thursday there doing who knows what, and then left for Chile Friday. It was sad to see him go, but I was just soo amazed at how he went in such a humble manner. Most missionaries get a little bit prideful at the end because they think because they have 2 years doing this they know everything. But not Elder Perez, I really admire him and think I have made a friend and a brother for life:) I think if a missionary can end more humble than he started, he will be lightyears ahead of those who end more prideful. 
So Dad, glad you liked the last letter:)  No we haven’t got to teach the family home evening with the 10 non members. BUT remember the time in Cucuta when I was asking you guys for those object lessons? part of it was for this reason.  We would do lots of family home evenings with big groups of people so I used the object lessons to make them laugh and get interested in our message and then we`d just teach everyone apart because teaching people in groups is ridiculously hard and usually ends up in failure. I remember once in Cucuta a non member invited us to a family party. We took a few videos with us thinking that we could watch one, BUT the little kids were watching so when we got there, the investigators told us to just share a short message with everyone (over 20 people) so we shared the short version of the restoration and it did not go very well. I don`t even think we had gotten a minute into it and people were shouting out questions and objections and it just turned into a Q and A session, but it was a cool experience. Also the time we went to the go carts in church clothes was because we went outside of the zone to go do stuff, so whenever we do that we have to wear Church clothes, but when we`re inside the zone doing activities that are ¨inapropriate for church attire¨ we can wear normal clothes. We went back to the go carts today, and I realized that I am a really dirty driver;) it`s just so fun to make people crash lol, but the people got mad at me this time because I whacked into Dominguez making him do a full 360 into the tires. Also the second time I went I got a crappy cart that would hardly turn or brake. So I got tired of going slow and gassed the thing straight into the tires( they got even more mad) I told them I wanted a different  one and the one they gave me was better. Also this just came to my mind, can you send me a picture of my mission plaque? that would be totally sweet.
So me and my compa are becoming really great friends! I am really starting to enjoy his company and we have a great relationship. Last night we celebrated the end of his first change a little bit drinking some jugo we made and watching a video that I have on the Old Testament. Neither of us were very tired so we just stayed up talking, you know when this happens you have a good companionship. Then it started to rain real hard and lightning and thunder started up and I guess in Peru lightning never strikes so we got up and watched the lightning a little bit and he was all excited and I sat there just as content as possible counting my blessings. I have the best job ever, my companion is great, I`m in my dream city, we have people to teach, man theres not a better feeling than being a missionary and loving it! 
Well I want to end my letter (sorry if its lacking more substance) thanking you guys for all you are doing for me. Thanks for looking for a house)  Either way, what Josh says is true, once we`re all there we can look for something better for the next semester. The thing is, I want to be with them both and will live anywhere just to be with them both thats my motto of the week ¨it`s not where you are or what you’re doing, it`s WHO you’re with.¨ Also I honestly just want to thank you guys for being such good parents. I will never forget something dad told me when we were little living in Utah. ¨I will always love you, but I will not always trust you.¨ I feel like over these last few years I have been able to build a little trust within you guys even though I do do things and say things wrong sometimes. I am becoming to really cherish and value the trust that we have as a family and I think that one of my biggest fears would be losing that trust that you guys have in me. I absolutley love how you guys treat me! When I left home I felt like both mom and dad just converted into my best friends and mentors and Shaylen has always been a friend to me. I really appreciate the support and freedom that you give me, I love you guys soooooooooooooo MUCH!!!!!!!! 
-Elder Crook

Monday, February 17, 2014

Hopefully a better letter this week

Alright so first off, I woke up early this morning to my bed shaking back and forth, it shook for about 3 or 4 seconds and then the last second or 2 it felt like I was going over a big bump in the car. By this time I was wide awake and excitedly  half yelled to my comp. ¨Hey compa did you feel that!? ¨ He`s like, ¨Yeah, I felt it, did it scare you?¨ I responded, ¨Yeah, but just a little¨ We kinda had a little chuckle and went back to bed. THE FIRST TIME I had felt a tremor!!! We live on the 5th floor so we felt it stronger than it really was but it was pretty cool! So that's how my day started, with a new experience.
So first of all I would like to clarify a few things from last week. Sorry for the short letter but I ran out of time. So, the whole weekend last week we had stake conference, well as you know the missionaries don`t usually go to the Saturday night session. But our mission president told us that we needed to go, I really didn`t see the reason why, plus we were going to have a family home evening at that same investigators house that I told you guys about the last week and they were going to invite like 10 of their non member friends. So I was really bummed and they were too, when we canceled on them. But they told us to pass by Sunday and we`d just have a little lesson with just them (which is where my experience comes from that I told you about last week) So turns out there really was no reason that we had to go to the dumb Saturday night session. THEN the zone leaders call and tell me that I was invited to a special meeting called ¨time to shine¨ on Sunday afternoon. This is for all the elders that have 4 months left on their missions or less. I argued and said that I was probably not included because I didn`t know if I was leaving in May or June. But they told me to go, so I went. Once again, totally pointless, president just pounded into our heads how we should give everything we have to the Lord and not waste a single second of time. So I went back to my area with the mindset of ¨great, I just lost all this time in these last 2 days, we`re going to have 5 lessons in a little over 3 hours. Well that's when I ran into the problem of the youtube and television. So I tried and tried to explain to the investigators but it just didn`t work. Another thing, I have a great relationship with this family and I would say that they trust in me, so I decided to try to explain to them heart to heart my situation, knowing that if anything went wrong, everything would be ok the next day and we would still have the trust that we have. So I was a little more hard on them than usuall. They didn`t like it, but it`s all good now:) and from that experience, a new feeling came into my heart. An amazing feeling of love and charity for Christ and his work, a feeling that cannot be described but resulted in a few tears shed and a decision made. I LOVE being an authoriized representative of Christ. I am so grateful for the opportunity that he gives me to stand shoulder to shoulder with him (although definitely not at his altitude) and put those shoulders to the wheel. I have come to realize that this time is unique and special and limited. So thank you for your support especially Shay and Mom. Thank you:) I sent a letter to president last week and he confirmed to me this week that my date is the 27th of June. Also, did you guys know that before I did? haha
So also I didn`t have time to tell you about p-day last week, it was totally legit! So after buying some Colombian style sandals with the colors of the flag, that look REALLY feminine but complete my Colombian outfit, we went to drive some GO-CARTS!!! yeah thats what I`m talking about:) We were with E`perez his comp E`Dominguez and my comp. I figured that most of these guys hadn`t had a WHOLE lot of experience with cars, so I planned to get the first go-cart and lap them all. Yeah that's just what I did, I burned rubber and was halfway around the track before they could say hola. So the second lap I passed them all, screaming in elation and pointing a taunting finger in their direction lol. Then I was able to pass Elder Perez and Elder Castrejon again, but Dominguez had gotten the course down, so we were dog fighting it and he made me crash twice because I tried to take the inside line and he just crashed me into the tires. Then the time ended, and I encouraged everyone to take one more run!!! so we did, this time I was in the back and passed Perez and Castrejon right away, but Dominguez and I dog fought it out for another lap then I conserved my speed around a tight curve while he drifted around it and I whizzed past him turning around and screaming ¨that a baby big BOOIII¨ (he speaks english) and he while looking at me crashed into some tires lol. So I whizzed around the track and while the track employee was pulling Dominguez`s big but out of the tires I got right behind him and passed him again making him crash once more....getting even which was my goal:) then once the time was up I decided to take a glory lap and around the last corner I tapped the brake and did a few cookies to finish. YEAH it was pretty boss. I hadn`t driven anything like that for quite a while!
SO we had a baptism this week!!! E` Castrejon was able to baptize her and he was super happy I could tell:) He`s usually pretty even keel about his emotions and I haven`t seen him anywhere close to mad yet. But I asked him how he felt afterwards and he just told me bubbling with excitement. ¨I feel just like I did on my baptism day!¨ It made me even more happ than I was to see him so happy! Afterwards she bore her testimony as well and it was really powerfull. We have been really blessed here. We found this lady the first night that we got here, She is the best friend of a member who is just returning to the church. That night she said an awesome prayer and thanked God for the feelings of peace and comfort that these 2 ¨muchachos¨ had given her. Obviously we know that it wasn`t us, it was the spirit:) and the next lesson she accepted the baptismal date. It was really cool to see someone just so prepared fall into our path on the first night in Bucaramanga. Also in sacrament, the bishop asked me if I could do the confirmation. It was the first time that I had ever conferred the holy ghost to someone, and it was a great experience for me. I think when one is conferring the holy spirit to someone is when you feel the spirit the most. It hit me like a freight train, and I had to stop a moment to recollect myself and go on with the blessing. The words flowed out of my mouth as I gave her a simple blessing in Spanish. It was a cool experience that I hope to never forget. 
Also I learned something new this week. I got here with all these ideas to make the ward work better and fix it. No one listened to me, it occurred to me that that was normal. Who would listen to a snot nose missionary that thinks he knows whats best for the Ward when he hasn`t even had a full week there. So I just shut my mouth and went to work, It`s a good slogan right ¨just shut your mouth and go to work.¨ Now, after a month the bishop asked us if we could meet with him, and he gave my comp an assignment of a talk! I think he`s trusting in us more:)
Alright so I`d just like to finish telling you guys that covered parking would be really nice at BYU, and that me and Albrecht don`t have any other requests on housing, just that we are all living together and that my mom can keep talking to his mom and figure it out:) Love you guys TONS!!!! I pray for you every night:) thank you so much for your support and advice:)
-Elder Crook 

Monday, February 10, 2014

My Sister's a Real Stud!

Alrighty there, I just want to start out first by congratulating Shaylen on her wonderful success!!! You’re awesome toots! Now get better so you can kick some butt this track season, we`re all rooting for ya!!! And mom I`m super happy that you were able to have a great birthday and were able to enjoy it. Also that’s super cool about your IPAD mini, I`m assuming it`s a mini version of an IPAD like a cross between the Iphone and the IPAD huh? We haven`t seen or heard anything about internet or IPADs here in our mission so I`m pretty sure that we`re not going to be able to get that technology for a looong while. But that’s pretty legit about the face time.  I`m sure you`ve tried it, the next time we skype in May you can just probably do it from dads or moms IPAD, cool no! I can remember when you wouldn`t even let me have a phone, now I`m gone and you`ve gotten all tech crazy!!
Well last Monday I kinda forgot to bring my camera to the intenet so I couldn`t send you the pics, but we just went to the biggest mall in Bucaramanga, ate some mall food.......yeeeeeaaaaahhhhhh MALL FOOD;) and took some cool pictures of the scenery, it has a pretty sweet view of the city,  so I`ll send you the pictures.  Also talking about pictures we took some preetty cool ones off of our balcony in the night time. Elder Perez went to Bogota, so we were in a trio with his companion  Elder Dominguez.   He stayed with us 2 nights and the first one we slept under the stars on our balcony. It was super legit!! 
Also that next day we had interviews with the mission president.  My interview went exactly like normal, really fast, and president asking me a few simple Q`s.  This time he asked me how I felt not being zone leader, I said absolutely GREAT! I told him that I loved not being called and whined too and just being able to focus on my area and nothing else.  He told me it was a good answer lol. Then we ended, it was like 10 minutes. Also afterwards an elder from my same group came up to me and asked ¨So when you going home?¨ I said I`m not really sure, president didn`t tell me anything.  He said ¨No, man you`ve got to ask him! I asked him, then I told him I wanted to go home in May, and he told me that was fine.¨ I honestly really didn`t think about it that much, yes the thought crossed my mind but I wasn`t going to ask president in my interview. So I realized that he`s letting us all decide when we go home. So I prayed about it and really didn`t feel like I got an answer right away, but I studied it out in my mind and told myself logically that there is no better place you can be than here, for as long as possible. So I just settled on that and decided that I would send president my weekly e-mail telling him that I wanted to go home at the end of June. But something happened to really concrete my decision.
So yesterday, we went to a lesson of some of our best most cool investigators.  Turns out that they had just got the technology to put the youtube videos on the TV.  So when we got there they were doing that. We did our best in insisting that we can`t watch TV and that we only had a short time to share a message. But they just kept on watching and talking to us, I did my best not to offend them or anything and said well sorry we have to leave we have another lesson.  They hurriedly shut everything off and we tried to start, at about this time 45 minutes had passed. So I was very irritated about having wasted 45 minutes trying not to watch youtube videos right in front of my face. Obviously we did not have the spirit and after about 5 minutes the mom started to argue with us about something really silly and stupid. So I just stopped the lesson right there because I was getting more and more irritated and letting the natural man get to me more and more. So we just finished with a prayer, and I decided to put to work a tactic our mission president taught us about having companionship inventories but with the members and investigators, explaining our rules and norms and establishing some ground rules. So I tried telling them about how we would just like to come and teach the lesson and leave, because our time is very precious. They understood that all we`re here to do is just teach and fill our weekly quota of lessons and not help anybody. But after failed attempts to explain I could tell that it was going nowhere. I ended with one statement, ¨I only have a limited time to wear this plaque, to be a representative of Jesus Christ, and when I am on his errand, when he is giving me his time, I cannot waste one second, I just can`t, thats who I am and that is what I will do, because he doesn`t accept anything less than my best. ¨ I ended tearing up and bearing my testimony. We left feeling like crap, but I got my answer, I am staying here all the time I can giving everything possible. 

Love you guys tons!!!!!
-Elder Crook

Monday, February 3, 2014

Happy Birthday to Mom!!!

Well last night my comps says ¨dang its my dads birthday tomorrow¨ then I look at the date and start to think.....huh someone I know too has a birthday in a few days, oh yeah MOM. So I told him too, and he said ¨well you better tell her this week because next monday will be a little late.¨ I`m pretty sure thats what happened last year. SO HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!  45 huh, dang. Hope your pretty wise by now;) that was a knee slapper. But I really did think that you were still somewhere in your late 30`s, but if your 45, who knows how old pappy is, yeah lets not ask.
Anyways I have had a decently normal week and p-day, yeah I haven`t eaten more ants but that doesn`t mean at all that I`m not going to bring a few home with me and force feed them to all of you guys! Be looking for the 140 mil bag of ants in the mail;) maybe it could be good food storage. Anyways this ward is kind of weird, the members here are really really really cool! but I just can`t figure out why there hasn`t been any progression. I have been getting to know a lot more members and they love the missionaries! here`s a funny story: On thursday, we were looking for a less active member on the institute list of less actives. So we got to the house, found the 25 year old guy and started to give him a short lesson, then the whole family got home who are all super active. They got home and said missionaries! what are we going to make to eat? the less active guy said BURRITOS! thats weird, not many people make burritos here but I went along with it. So we finished the lesson and while they made the burritos (which took a little longer than we had time for, but who`s going to leave the house and offend the members) we were able to talk to the family a little more. Then when it was time to eat, we went to the table. I tactfully chose a seat the farthest away I could from the 17 year old girl who seemed like she was just a LITTLE bit to interested in Elder Crook. It was honestly nothing big, but I had to keep my gaurd up. So she sat at the head of the table and I decided to sit at the other end on the side. HOWEVER she switched spots to the other head of the table so we were both sitting in spots next to each other. Then the family tradition for the prayer was to all hold hands, I said no way jose! I took my comps hand but kind of put my other one in my lap thinking no one would notice. Then they all started in, WHATS WRONG WITH HOLDING HER HAND! it`s fine said the dad, just take her hand! TAKE HER HAND, i looked to my comp for help, and he said ¨it`s better that they not hold hands¨ then they all agreed. Phew! funny story right:) Also on saturday, we were planning on fasting from lunch to lunch on sunday. So, in my prayer to leave the house I prayed (kind of sarcasticaly) to bless us with an extra big lunch to help us to fast. Well was that prayer answered!!! woooooo hooooo when we got to the members house the first thing he says was ¨gee elders you`re in for a treat¨ he led us to the kitchen and I almost started to cry lol. He had made GIANT patacones with meat and cheese and chicken to put on top. BOY was it good, and those things fill you right up. Although I think they should only be eaten like once every 2 or 3 years because first you fry the pl├ítano and then you squish it, then you feeze it over night, then you fry it again so it is good and crunchy. Then add a few inches of meat and cheese and your good to go. Anyways I was able to fast no problem. 
So dad sounds like you are really liking your calling, I`m glad you are and it sounds like you are enjoying it. THanks for always updating me on gage. Poor guy, he`s just gonna have to wait for the first wave of 20 year old return sister missionaries. In the meantime he can brush up on preach my gospel;) also about guck and gore I kinda have a few thoughts. I don`t like guck and gore either, I have seen a little bit of it here in colombia with a few sick people and it makes me feel weird, But I once was talking to one of the asistents when we were on an interchange and he was an emt before his mission. And he told me, I think everyone feels a little queezy seeing that stuff but it was just part of the job, afterwords it was just normal. So who knows but even though I`m not real keen either on blood ond gore, if thats the way I want to go I think I can deal with it. 
Mom I LOVED your last letter! Thank you sooooo very much for always giving me good letters, it made up for dads wussy half pager;) haha just kidding pa. But I love the little things you say. Just like how you had to make dinner a little earlier a few nights for the activities that dad and shay had. I can`t tell you how much dinner every night with every member of the family present has had a huge effect on me. Even though the outward forces are pressuring you guys to not do it, you find a way around that and still find a way to have dinner together each and every night. Honestly here, with us in the lunches it doesn`t happen very much but when it does, I can feel how much more peace there is in the house. It is such a big change:) thanks for being such and AWESOME person and mom. I also really liking how you said that change is good, thats how we learn and grow. It`s true, and as we are able to adapt to the changes that come our way we are able to perfect ourselves inside and out, just like sharp stones in a rapidly running river, after many changes in the current they are made smooth. that is what we are able to do when we absorb the changes and take advantage of them and make the best out of everything new. 
Shay, well you said you`re doing a project on Colombia. AWESOME!!!!! I had fun answering your q and writting them down. Here goes :)
Sports Teams: The national Colombian soccer team. Every one went totally crazy when they classified for the world cup of soccer. The favorite player of the team is Falcao, I don`t know his first name just Falcao lol. Also there are pro soccer teams in every city that play each other in the postobon leauge
Entertainment: Everyone plays soccer or microfutbol, a version of soccer on a cement court with a small hard soccer ball. Everyone watches soccer games, also theres a sport called tejo that a big magority of the people play. Dancing is a big part of latino culture as well but I don`t know a whole lot about that. Also everywhere there are pirated movies sold in the street for 2 or 3 mil pesos so everyone has a lot of movies too.
Animals: well I havent really seen any out of the ordinary animals, there are huge cochroaches here and lots of dogs, when I was in tunja they had all of the normal farming animals as well
Work: They have basically all of the same professions that we have here, but here there are a lot of taxi and bus drivers because there is a lot more public transport. I`ve met more than one taxi driver who has a degree from a university, engineers, psycologists, etc. Also here basically whatever you can think of you can start a buisness on. There are people who make good money who have 10 wash machines and they deliver them to people on their motorcycles and rent them for 2 or 3 hours. Also a recent convert in Suba worked in the street with an empanada stand and various candis and miscelaneous foods, he told me that working in that pays much more than a minimum wage job.
Food and drink: Here in Colombia every lunch has to have a porcion of rice, most of the time there are potatoes and platanos as well, there are lots of veggies and beans like lentejas and garbanzos also they eat beef and chicken as well. There is a TON of juice here and every fruit there is they make a juice out of it. Also here they eat a lot of soups some of the typcal soups are ajiaco and san cocho. Also there is panela (look that up) and bocadillo, which I sent home to you guys.
Dress: Basically the same, just in the hots parts the girls show a lot of skin
Wierd facts: the only one I could think of is that colombia is the 2nd happiest country in the world. 
So there is a few facts about Colombia, you should interview Moises because he knows a whole lot more than I do, but thanks for asking me I enjoying answering the questions:)
-Elder Crook