Monday, March 31, 2014

My 20th year started and will end...... serving the Lord

Doesn`t that title sound cool! I actually feel proud to write that on the computer screen, but not too proud in comparison to what He did for us, one full year of my life is nothing. I`m really happy that you guys could have such a good spring break.  The pictures look super awesome and it looks like you guys enjoyed yourselves! Everyone says that once the kids are in the mission the parents start going on more vacations lol, but I think we took just as many vacations when I was there. Plus I`ve been in Colombia for a while now and ya know Colombia NEVER gets old, It`s just a paradise!!! It made me laugh when Shay told me that Rodney did her workout with her, that’s exactly how I remember him lol. Tell both Rodney and Kim hi for me and that I love them!! 
So it`s kinda weird knowing that I`ll turn 21 here in a few days.  When it hit, my mind jumped back a couple of years to when I got my driver’s license to the part around the picture that says ¨under 21 until 04/06/14.”  Back then I didn`t really pay attention to that but I know the thought crossed my mind ¨where will I be when I turn 21.¨ I definitely wouldn`t have guessed Colombia lol, that was 5 years ago!!!! I think my license expires right? That’s just too weird! But oh well, the time will just continue to pass faster and faster, but it`s not how much time passes, it`s what I do with that time that counts. All I can say is that I love you guys with all of my heart and soul and that we`re on the right track:) 
So this week I got to go on a split with my district leader E` Dos Santos from Rio de Janeiro Brazil. This guy was E`Albrechts comp for 5 months in Yopal. He`s super legit and started the mission when I did. So we had a fun day together. It`s just awesome how cool some of these south of the border guys are! Him and Perez are just so chill but fun at the same time and like to work hard. So we took a couple pictures that I`ll send to you guys. It`s super legit as well getting to know these guys because now if we ever want to take a vacation to Chile or Brazil or Colombia or Peru I`ll have the inside scoop:) 
So this week has just been kinda normal, for some reason we felt the opposition hit us like a wall. We had an investigator super excited for his baptism last Saturday.  He had come to church for more than a month straight and had been reading really good and everything. But the last Saturday before this one he called and said ¨you know what guys, I`ve thought about it real hard and, I`m not going to get baptized.¨ That kinda hurt, but I didn`t let it get to me real deep down like a few of the other times. Obviously I still feel sad and disappointed in his decisions because he basically chose to not get baptized and chose to keep breaking a commandment, but you just can`t let it get to you and let it weaken you. At the same time it felt like everything got hard all at once! haha honestly almost every night I have come home just feeling physically, mentally, and spiritually drained. But it has helped me comprehend the importance of scripture study in the morning and singing hymns as well as taking the sacrament. It`s been a great experience though because I haven`t gotten down or discouraged or I don`t think so. I`m still just my happy self all go-lucky and laid back:) So remember how I told you guys that I had found the key to being the best in whatever we chose to be. Well I got to thinking about that and it really requires focus and dedication and time. So I thought to myself ¨what can I study as a missionary that deeply to really become an expert on.¨ Then one of dad’s letters came to my mind from quite a while ago. He said that he hoped that I would be able to become a better leader on my mission, and become better at recognizing the spirit. SO I have been studying deeply word for word on how to recognize the spirit, and so far it has been super cool!!
Anyways I just want to tell you how much I love you guys and how thankful I am that you are my family:) My testimony has grown quite a bit here on my mission and now I feel like I have a little bit more of a direction in my life. Being here has really changed how I see the world and the people in it. It has really made me straighten out my priorities in life and has helped smooth just a little my communication and interaction skills. I love this time in my life and am really enjoying it:) Have a GREAT week!!!!
-Elder Crook

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Monday, March 24, 2014

Happy Birthday Dad!!!

Well congratulations pa for turning another year old whoooooooooo hooooooooo
Papi’s an older man now! how do you feel, tired, sore, arthritis pain? Don`t
worry it will come at your age;) How old are you dad? 47  48? you better not be 50 because at the fiftieth the SMACKDOWN will come! I`ll make sure of it, if you haven`t seen hot rod in a while go watch it and get pumped lol (i`m referring to the scenes where rods dad always whoops the crap out of rod) don`t worry I`m sure you are still able to pinky pin me;) some things will never change lol. > SOO first of all I`ll tell you that I did buy a camera, from Venezuela, and it is pretty cool. I would say that it takes better pictures than my other one BUT, it cost 150 bucks. When we went over to the members house who had gone to Venezuela to pick them up, he showed us on the computer what the prices were in the U.S. Well my camera is an Olympus vg-160 and when it popped up on amazon at 90 dollars. I just about pulled a wester;) but I controlled myself and gave the member a big hug because he did us a HUGE favor and then left. Well I guess not everything is cheaper in a communist country, thank goodness for the country that
we live in with it`s free market. The cameras here in Colombia are more
expensive than they are in Venezuela. But theres nothing I can do except kick
myself for dropping my other one (once again, the story is so shameful I just
can`t tell it.) At least I like the new one, it has good functions and takes good it will have to last until the millenium because I can`t let myself buy another one now! oh well
TUESDAY!!!!!!! whoooooo hooooooo let’s have a party! Last Tuesday was THE BEST DAY EVER!!! I got up so happy! it was the FIRST marriage of someone I taught and got to see get baptized that I have experienced!!! Man it was totally legit, the only thing was that I didn`t have my stinking camera! but a member took fotos and gave them all to me. So we had to wait about an hour at the notaria and then we went in and watched the 30 minutes marriage session. The guy who married them is a member as well so he had the Mormon Tabernacle Choir playing in the background and gave them a
sweet proclamation to the family that had 10 suggestions for a better marriage on the back. Afterwards we threw them a little party at a members house. Then the night before we were joking about having non alcoholic champange to drink so I got to thinking....And came up with the idea of sparkling water mixed with cranberry juice. No one really knows what cranberry juice is so I thought it would be fun to have something different. So at the local super we found in the imports section, a gallon of ocean spray cranberry juice and bought some sparkling water. Then we bought them a cake as well! The thing I didn`t remember about cranberry juice is that it is a bit bitter. And the sparkling water made it even more bitter!! but with the super sweet cake it all evened out well.
Everyone there kept saying OOIIIIIHHH Elder this juice is kinda strong! you sure it doesn`t have alcohol. So it was super legit and to add the icing on the cake Sergio passed the sacrament this week!! We were super stoked and are working with them so that they can get sealed in a year or so!
> Also another sweet thing happened this week. We got visited by a 70! His name is Elder Uceda and he is the president of the Sudamerica Noroeste area of the world. It was really cool to get to listen to him almost all day and he taught us some really, really valuable stuff! I really soaked it all up and it was just a spirit filled day! One of the things that I most liked about what he taught was a way to really search the scriptures for hidden meaning in spanish and english.
He focused on every word of the verse and explained every little detail and
meaning. I realized something REALLY BIG!! Remember at Christmas when I had told you guys that it`s pretty easy for me to pick up on things and get moderately
good at them, but I have never been proficient or the best at anything. For me this is the formula! Studying every little aspect and understanding everything at a really deep level. Taking time to perfect every little part of whatever thing it is and really mastering it. That made me really excited!! Because even though I know that doing things in this manner takes a lot of time,  effort and practice, I finally have the formula to achieve my goals and aspirations!! I hope I wrote that in a way that you could understand it!!
> So today we went to play a little soccer in the cancha! We invited Sergio and he got there with a surprise for us! He gave us futbol jerseys!! Mine is from Manchester city and it`s so legit! I was super happy and energized to play today with my sweet new jersey. I`ll send you guys a pic of some of the action:) Also
last week after my haircut I remembered one of dads sayings;) ¨you know  what
the difference between a bad haircut and a good one is?¨ no, ¨A couple of
weeks.¨ I think I got that one right right dad? So I applied that tactic not
wanting to shave my head this time around. Now it`s barely noticeable;) but
mom, I`m not making any promises about not shaving my head in the near future;)
well I`m sorry again for such a kind of short letter that kinda just overviewed
everything but I had to fill out a page of information about my travel plans. So
I have to say bye. LOVE YOU ALLL!!!!!
> -Elder Crook

Monday, March 17, 2014

Semana Tras Semana

It`s kinda weird, these last few weeks have just kinda blended together for me. We always come to the same internet and I always sit at the same computer so it kinda feels like last week, and the week before that, and the week before that. But this week, there has not been anything really that new to tell. I officially have to say that my 3rd son has the primogenitura. Yeah I was trying to think of the word for primogenitura in english but it just isn`t coming to my mind right now, you can look it up, oh I just remembered lol, it`s birthright:) wow, my minds just a bit slow today. Anyways even though he`s the 3rd born, he has the birthright and a fathers blessing like if he were the firstborn. He`s just so easy to get along with! I mean, I have really noticed a difference in this companionship from the last one. I feel like the work is a lot more fulfilling, and a lot more enjoyable when you have someone by your side who you can trust in, talk to, work hard with, and have fun with as well. Honestly I am more than enjoying this companionship. This week I got a little down and discouraged with a few investigators, so in companionship study we just kinda sat there in silence for a few minutes and he said. HEY you can`t feel sorry for yourself because you don`t have much time left, plus there`s nothing more we can do, it`s just the agency of the people. I thought for a minute and was like dang, well that’s the last time I`m getting discouraged because what he said was true! A year ago, the same type of discouragement had me in a funk for MONTHS! And his words broke it just like that! Haha I`ll have to tell you that more than one night has been spent out on the balcony just laughing and talking for a long while. Sometimes we wake up in the morning at 6:30 tired but we get up and do some exercises and we`re good. To me, that time spent talking and messing around, making brownies or un jugo or something fun is worth Gold! Honestly, I wish it could be this way in all of my relationships and sometimes I think back and say ¨why is it so easy now, when 4 months ago it was not at all this way.¨ All I know is that I can learn from all the mistakes that I`ve made and just work on being a better and better person so all of my relationships with everyone can be enjoyable. 
So in conclusion I am really just enjoying my comp, my time, and my mission! now, well there’s not really a whole lot of good other juicy info to tell so I`ll tell you this kind of interesting story about how we got a reference. Just saying, I`m REAlly scraping the pot here. So hope it`s not that boring;)
Anyways the other week we got a call from some chica in Pasto(town super far away, close to ecuador) , wonderfull! no kinda weird but anyways she told us that a member had given her our number and had a reference for us. Basically a girl here in our area with the alias Delilah, met an LDS guy in Atlanta through the internet. He wants Delilah to meet the missionaries so if she gets baptized he can come here to Colombia and get married with her. Sounds like a killer plan right! So I guess he had the same type of a deal going on with the girl in Pasto (she`s already member) but I guess things just didn`t work out. I suspect because he really doesn`t know how to speak Spanish. Anyways so we get this reference, and call and schedule an appointment in the church with a member there with us. So she gets there and just can`t stop talking about how ¨good¨ my spanish is because with the Atlanta dude she has to talk really slow and most of the time he doesn`t understand. So then she just says, tell me everything I need to know to become mormona because I`ll do whatever it takes to make things work with Atlanta boy. I was just like WOAAH slow down a bit, we`re gonna take things slow and no matter what we promise you that if you apply the principles of our message, any type of relationship will go well. ALSO she got there and I greeted her by her name she told us Delilah Larsen. Yeah I thought the last name was kind of funny but I didn`t ask questions. So she says oh no my name is really Diana, I just use that name for facebook.....yeaaaahhhh suspicious;) So theres our wonderfull reference story (hope you were just rivited to your seat!) In conclusion, I feel like the dating pool is like a bowl of grapes (does this sound familiar dad?) all of the plump juicy ones get picked first and then the old shriveled up ones get left. Sounds like mr Atlanta couldn`t get a hold of a plump juicy good one, so he has to go to a different bowl of grapes. But these are foreign grapes that he can`t communicate with and can only see through a picture on the computer screen. All I can say is that hopefully everything turns out well for mr atlanta and diana/delilah.
Well I have to go, my time got cut short today because of and as well as my hair. The thing is is that the really awesome cool neighbor that offered to cut my hair for free, cut a big chunk out of the back left`s kinda noticeable so I think I`ll have to go and try to get it fixed in a way that looks good and that the vecina can`t tell. LOVE YOU ALL
-Elder Crook  

Monday, March 10, 2014

And the Happiness Continues......

SOoo it`s been a pretty great week here in the wonderful city of Bucaramanga. It actually has been a little cooler this week especially in the mornings but no aguaceros like in Oregon:) I`m super relieved and happy that you’re back to running Shay:) Honestly from the time I learned about your achilles problem,  the first thing I thought back to was when dad was trying to convince you to keep swimming and that it would be a good cross trainer. I chuckled to myself quite a bit with that thought but as you know, we`ve all regretted not taking good ol dad’s advice;) Who knows what would have happened if I would have listened to him and would have taken those Kung Pau classes with all of the nerds in togas;) I`m sure dad remembers standing at the elementary school next to Millicoma on a rainy day trying to convince a bawling whiney kid to go in there and bow to his sen sei. I would probably be the next Rex Kwon Doe if I would have listened to him. And don`t even get me started on motorcycles!!!
So I would like to relate a series of super weird experiences I had last Tuesday. These experiences came from trying to talk to everyone in our path. So in the afternoon our lessons had fallen through and none of our plan b`s were home. So we just started trying to talk to people lol.  We decided to start walking to the lesson that we had that was at the bottom,  most farthest part of our area and to talk to the people that crossed our path. Well we went from having nothing to having everyone basically contact us because they saw us talking lol. First,  we taught a guy in a park that had committed all and every kind of serious sin and for that reason had what I like to nickname ¨the Jason Bourne syndrome¨.  He had lost the last 3 months of his memory, just like that! gone. We tried to help him and then were up and off again. The next guy had read the WHOLE ENTIRE Book of Mormon and he said he knows it`s true but he has to read in secret because if his daughter finds out she will throw the book out. He said we couldn`t meet again because if his family knows then they would probably stop feeding him ( he was a pretty old guy.) Then we had an odd lesson with a young guy that only believed in the Bible from Acts to Revelation because Paul was the only true apostle of Christ, I still don`t really understand that point of view. Then we ended up with a kid about our age trying to fight with us lol, he was from some Christian Church and the only thing he did was try to pick a fight. But ended up failing before he even started, he tried to quote a scripture from the 10 commandments and yelled at me ¨OPEN UP YOUR BIBLE TO EPHESIANS 20¨ I calmly said kind of confused, uhhh those are just letters and there aren`t 20 chapters. He yelled again ¨EPHESIANS 20¨ So I opened up to Ephesians and there are only 6 chapters. So he said the heck with it and proceeded to cite the commandment of not worshiping graven images. Then I said ¨ohhhh I think you mean Exodus 20 look here it is¨ - probably a little sarcastically. ¨ Then we let him finish and all I said while shaking his hand was, ¨We respect your beliefs, now respect ours or our conversation is done here¨ He tried to cite another scripture but we just turned around and left.
Next thing I have to tell you is that my poor nikon camera was dropped last Saturday and is broken:( I won`t tell you how I broke the thing because it just gives me too much shame to share it with everyone. So at first it turned on but the lens has pieces broken inside because I could here them crunching around when the shutter tried to shut. And now it doesn`t even turn on. So I know it will cost over 100 mil (50 dollars) to fix. Because my comp dropped his and had it looked at and the damage is the same. So I was just thinking about buying a new one for myself for my birthday. We have a few connections that are going to Venezuela in a few weeks and told us they could find some nice ones for really cheap prices. So we`ll just have to see.
Also we finished the week great!! with our 2nd baptism here:) It made me feel really good because Sergios girlfriend, in the last lesson that we had, asked us what we had done differently because every missionary and his dog had taught Sergio and weren’t able to ¨convince¨ him to be baptized. All I said was that it was the time that God had prepared for him and he accepted. Then he said, “No but you guys really helped too”. You guys all shared the same messages and had the same little pamphlets. But you guys made me see things a little differently, made me feel important, and actually care about me. That really hit me hard and I am so grateful to our Father in Heaven for just how he does things and how perfect his plan his. We were just there at the right place and the right time and God did the rest. I love this work! Well hope you guys have an exellent week!!! LOVE YOU ALL
-Elder Crook