Monday, April 28, 2014

How´s everyone doing up there in good ol Orygon? haha sounds like Shay had a great race last Saturday. Way to go Shay Shay and keep running fast! What are you ranked now as far as the 4a girls go? Is it looking good to make a run for the state championship for the 3000? What about the 1500? Let me know where you are and how much faster you need to get to be first. Also what are you ranked statewide? Haha AND you guys can all talk about Shay’s races because you all have  different points of view. Usually what Shay tells me is ¨My race went good, I got third place and my time was 10....¨ so maybe some more detail would be cool especially with the district and state meets coming up. Keep up the good work Shay and enjoy it!!!
Haha so we have been in kind of a rainy season for the last few weeks. So this last Wednesday it rained SUPER hard. We were with a member who was going to a few of our lessons with us and we ended the lesson and it was pouring like crazy. And where we were at there were no taxis that would go down that street because it was at the bottom of a steep hill. So after a few minutes we all stepped outside to walk up the steep hill and catch a taxi. If we wouldn´t have been with the member we probably would have just walked. But he didn´t want to get wet so we booked it up the hill and caught a taxi. The member was a good sport and got a little wet but we had umbrellas so it was all good. But my shoes are so worn out now that even if I walk in the street that is wet after rain my feet still get wet from the holes in the bottom and on the sides. Honestly every time that it has rained here it makes me mad lol. Just because I have gotten so used to the awesome sunny warm weather here in Bucaramanga. I think this is my favorite weather out of any other. If it was like Bucaramanga weather all year round for the rest of my life,  I would be really happy! 
So it´s my comps birthday this Friday so we went out today to celebrate. We met up with the Elders in our district. Elder Dos Santos from Brazil and his comp from Guatemala, who lives like 40 minutes from where my comp lives. So we all have a lot of fun together. I bought my comp a Colombia jersey with the shorts that go along with it! I also tried on some Colombia soccer shorts but they are just way too short!! Maybe I´ll just end up buying them and wearing them as a joke. But we were walking in the street and something caught my eye, it was a belt, yes mom I finally bought a nice leather belt.....but it is a belt with the Colombian flag on it lol. Red Yellow and blue. Yeah it´s pretty legit lol, I´ll send you the picture! Then we went to eat at Dominoes because that’s like my comps favorite here. SO even thought it was a little far and out of the way we had a good time and sang him a version of happy birthday in Spanish,  english and portuguese. Yeah there were junior high aged kids in Dominoes so I think they got a kick out of that lol. I´m not sure if we´ll do anything on Friday actually but we´ll see. 
So this change has been kind of different from all the other changes I have had for the last year or so. Every change for a long time now I have always had a super set baptism to look forward to. But this change no. It has just kind of puzzled me because we are doing REALLY well as missionaries. I have been becoming the best missionary I have ever been this change but at the same time we have said Ciau to the baptisms. But it has just made me focus on the investigators more and any time I see a small change in them I take it as a success. My main purpose is not to baptize,  it’s to invite others to come unto Christ. Obviously through baptism they come to Christ, but that doesn´t always happen right away or on the missionaries timeline of a few short weeks. God has his own timeline for this specific person, and I have recognized that the teaching process is a journey....a long journey. And everything we do and say within the teaching process is important, it can help or hinder their eternal progress. So basically all of the investigators we have are brand spanking new. Most all of them we found with Elder Castrejon and there are a few that have come out of the woodwork here with Elder Meren. But I am trying to be the missionary with the right vision. Obviously teaching for comprehension that baptism is necessary. But I don´t necessarily need to base my success on the baptisms. I know that within the lesson if the investigator and I can understand each other and move closer to Christ together then it was a success. 
Haha also I just wanted to add this little tidbit:) at lunch on Saturday the family forgot to make lunch. So they called in a delivery, and guess who came.....the last guy who got baptized and married, Sergio Saenz:) I don´t know why, maybe just because I wasn´t expecting to see him. But when I did my heart just filled with so much love for the man! I saw him and jumped out of my chair to help him carry in the food and we took a picture of us ¨in action¨ him working and me, well just being a missionary. I gave him a big hug and then he left. I just wanted to share that with you guys because he is doing great! we still visit him quite a bit and like always the conversion process is a JOURNEY! 
Well to end my letter I´ll tell you kind of a funny story that happened to us this Saturday and Sunday. So Saturday night we got to the house nice and sweaty and stinky like always AND there was no water whatsoever in the whole apartment complex. So I ended up just scooping out water from the top part of the toilet (not the bowl, the other part;) and kinda trying to wash myself off lol. I hate sleeping without having bathed myself. Well we woke up Sunday morning and still no water,  so we ran to the church early in the morning and used the bathrooms. Then we were trying to think what member to call to let us come over and take showers. Then God answered our prayers. The bishop called and asked my comp to give a talk. And we were able to ask to use his shower lol. So we went over to the bishops house (which is fairly close to ours) and took showers. The thing was though, the bishop has a few little kids in his family and I, who am not at all accustomed to locking the door now, did NOT lock the bathroom door. Just when I got done the oldest kid walked in on me drying myself off. I told him ¨EY hay alguien en su baƱo!¨ he was like woaaa sorry Elder, his mom too shouted sorry lol. It was kinda embarassing but we all had a good laugh afterwards when I was all cleaned up and dressed lol. The water did come back on Sunday night though, so hopefully we won´t have anymore bathroom stunts at the bishops house again;) I sure love you all!!:) you are all the best and I love hearing from everyone that writes me:) thank you thank you gracias thank you!
-Elder Crook 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Happy Birthday to the Viejita!

OIIIIIYYYY Shay ya eres super cuchita ehh;) haha happy birthday Shay. Hope you have a great day this Thursday, you`ll have to tell me what you got next Monday and what you did. But BE HAPPY haha life is just so much better when we are happy people full of energy and funness! It also makes the lives of the people around us better when we are like that. Haha I just wanted to talk to you a bit and tell you congratulations on your track meet and lifetime pr. I`m sure the fact of not really having any competition made it kind of hard to beat the meet record, but it`s awesome you pr’d! Don`t get senioritis though!!!! or in mission talk it would be ¨Don`t get trunky on me now.¨ Haha Dads words always come to mind when I think about trunkiness ¨Time will always pass at the same rate and the end will always come, but it`s what you do with the time that really counts.¨ When I think back on my senior year, I really wished I would have been a little bit smarter and enjoyed my sports more, especially pole vault. I didn`t even have a plan or anything to go off of I just went out there and jumped and jumped and jumped until I was exhausted and frustrated. So don`t get senioritis, especially with your sports. I promise you that I won`t get trunky if you don`t get senioritis!! Lets finish strong:) there are still a TON of things to do:) 
So this week we went to a service project and cleaned up a park in the center of the city here in Bucaramanga. It`s always really fun to go do service because it`s just something out of the ordinary. So that was pretty fun, I`ll send you the pics, they pretty much speak for themselves:) Well mom said it right, things are pretty easy between my comp and I. I would have to say that out of all of my companions he and Elder Da Silva have liked to talk the most. So it`s been actually really fun with him. However it seems like when you have a good companionship, the work is harder. Things have just kind of slowed down a bit. But this last Sunday a new Elder’s Quorum president was called and they finally called a ward mission leader so we were pretty excited about that.  We met with him right away, so hopefully we can get to work better with the ward:) 
So we had Easter this week, here it`s called Semana Santa or the holy week and Sunday is not the principal day, it`s Good Friday or viernes santo, the day when Christ was Crucified. When we left to work last Friday it seemed like Christmas day in Bogota. Haha the streets were empty and no one was working either. I heard that for the Catholics this Friday is the most holy day of the year. Other than that I`m not really sure about the other traditions that they have during this week. I`m pretty sure they don`t eat meat on Thursday or Friday which is called lent. haha so it was a different week from all of the rest of them. 
So I got an e-mail from Elder Castrejon that is now in Bogota, and I just wanted to share a little piece with you guys because when I read it, it made me really excited. He said that he is now with a gringo that has 16 months in his mission but I talk better spanish than the other Gringo because he still has a gringo accent. Haha that was good to hear. At the end of our companionship he told me that my accent had actually really gotten better over the time we spent together and that I just sometimes need to speak more fluidly stringing all of the words together to have a better accent. So that made me feel good!
Oh Shay I wanted to ask you about the girl from California that signed with Utah as well. Is she a member? Is she your roommate now? You have to room with a girl from the track team right? haha just curious. 
Also I just wanted to share a cool experience that I had this last Saturday. I don`t really know what happened but after lunch I felt really sick and weak. But we kept on working like normal, it started to rain, and I felt even worse. So we went to a less active family and shared a short message with them. But we all felt the spirit really strongly because we were able to talk about the happiness and support that the gospel brings to our families. But afterwards it was just like my whole body felt warm and healthy. I walked out into the rain and felt a little better haha. It was the first time I had recognized that the Holy Ghost can make us feel better physically as well as mentally and emotionally. 
Well I will finish my letter now, I have to go early because we have a cita at 5:30 so I have to cut my time short a bit, but from what I understand about my travel information is that I actually will not be home Friday june 27th,  I just will be getting on the plane in the night time and be getting home Saturday morning. I don`t know anything other than that though. I`m sure you guys can talk to my mission president’s wife or something like that and she will get you info. The mission secretaries I`m sure don`t have anything done yet on that. They are always seem to be behind or forget about things. .. LOVE YOU ALLLL:):)

Monday, April 14, 2014

New Comp, New Casa, New Style.......

Well, well ,well. That week sure did go by quite fast, seems like they are all that way now. Well I am very happy with my Guatemalteco comp. When I first heard I was gonna be with him I thought he had just finished his training or something because I had no idea who he was. But turns out he has been out 18 months and started just a few months after I did. SO you can say that we are a ¨mature companionship¨ He is one of the very few latino comps that I have had that is younger than I am lol. He is still 20 until May 2nd. So if you have any birthday present ideas....I`m welcome to suggestions;) He`s such a legit little guy I want to get him something cool. But he`s just a really happy guy and likes to talk and laugh. He kinda reminds me of myself and we are really similar in personality. Just sometimes when I am around him he makes me realize that sometimes I am still too serious. So do you guys remember Elder Ortiz from Paraguay, my comp like a year and a half ago? Elder Meren looks like him a lot physically. He has told me a little bit about his life and like always my Latino comps have a background a little bit rougher than my life before the mish. My heart just fills with astonishment and love when I hear these stories and how they are here in the mission and are obedient and great missionaries. It puts things in perspective for me a lot, and gives me such a high level of respect of the quality of people they are. So my comp lives in an all Mormon colony named Zarahemla!! Isn`t that soo legit!! His state is called Chimaltenango and it`s close to Guatemala City. I guess there in Guatemala they also have the Mexican influence a bit and eat Mexican food too. So we`re gonna have to make mexican food one of these days. He knows how to make homemade tortillas so we`ll see if we ever do that. Also he IS a legit breakdancer lol!! So he has been teaching me little by little every night and morning, and I`ve been getting the hang of it. I haven`t learned any dance moves yet, I have just been learning how to spin on the floor lol, and its a lot harder than it looks. 
So this week has been decently good, we have basically found all new investigators to teach and have been working hard with them. The hardest part has just been working with the ward to help the investigators along as well as the less actives. So as we are finding awesome people and working a ton with the less actives, it is slower going than I would like because we need to work better with the members here, but we`re doing good. SO we had a curveball thrown at us this week. I was talking to the zone leaders one night (yes I am newly district leader;) can I get a woot woot!! lol) and they told me that the sisters in our ward had complained about where they were living ( I guess it`s dangerous because there are lots of students where they live.) And president had told them that we need to change houses. Our houses are like maybe 5 minutes away walking distance, but I guess our apartment complex is more safe then the one they were in. So today in the morning we packed all our stuff up and changed houses. Now we don`t have such a sweet view, or a sick balcony to hang out on at night, but it`s a nice decent apartment so I`m not complaining that much. This is just like normal in mission life, you just have to be prepared for anything and everything and learn to like your new circumstances quickly. So I will send you a few pics of the new house and my comp to give you guys an idea. 
Mom thanks for sending me those old pictures lol, they do make all kinds of memories flood back. Even when I look at my pictures from my old areas a WAVE of old and awesome memories just hits me. I love doing that sometimes and just thinking and remembering all the awesome people I have met and taught and worked with. I have had such great experiences for my benefit and hopefully for the benefits of others. I love where I`m at right know and am just soaking it all up:) 
So I am going to end with 2 really cool experiences that I have had with the members (actives and less actives) over these last few weeks. One of them was with a less active and he just out of the blue told us after conference that he would love a spiritual retreat for just a few days. Then that made me think of what I am doing, I have been on a spiritual retreat for the last year or so, and WILL NEVER get this time back again. To just work on my spirituality and not have to worry about the other things in life, and just dedicate myself to help others in the Lords work full time. I won`t have another opportunity like this for the rest of my life, unless I`m an apostle, and the chances on that are very slim. So he just made me put things in perspective a bit. The other was a sister that had given us lunch on Sunday and we were sharing a message on enduring to the end, and towards the end she told us ¨HEY I`ve been a member for 17 years now and am still here fighting and working to get better.¨ You guys are awesome missionaries while in the mission but I have seen too many missonaries that have come back from their mission and the environment changes, and they aren`t always working in Gods work and they fall by the wayside and become inactive. You 2 need to learn the most you can from your mission and put all of it in practice when you get home. That really impacted me because one being here in the mission is kind of like a refuge from the world and you think you’re invincible. But it`s not that way at all, he`s always attacking and will never let up, so we can never let our guard down even if it means sacrificing things that seem fun or cool in the moment. WEll time is short and I hope you liked the experiences that I shared with you:) I`m learning lots here!! LOVE YOU ALLL YOU ARE ALL IN MY PRAYERS:)
-Elder Crook

Monday, April 7, 2014


So I`m not sure if I mentioned last week that we were going to have transfers today. Yeah they kinda snuck up on me too. Well my beloved companion, Elder Castrejon left and went to Bogota this morning! It`s weird because I feel kind of like I did when Elder Perez left me. Just kinda wanting all of the awesome time we spent together to just rewind and start all over again. I can`t believe he`s already gone, I can`t believe we succesfully opened up our area, and I can`t believe that it`s already been 3 months since I left Suba. Weird. Oh well I am excited because an elder named Elder Meren is coming to be my companion. I have never met him before but the people that I have asked if they know him have been saying YEAH he`s the elder that knows how to breakdance!! So, that made me even more excited for him to get here!!! I`m planning on us being great friends so we`ll see how things go. I`m definitely going to make him teach me how to break dance. We have a talent show coming up in a few weeks so hopefully we can both break dance it up. Hahaha that would top the synchronized swimming FOR SURE:) so I`ll let you know how that goes:) So  like always I am super happy for a new change to start but still kind of living in the past because of the great companionship that I just had with Castrejon. He`s really into studying English, so I gave him the set of English scriptures that I had. He also gave me a tie for my birthday yesterday, I was pretty surprised.
SO CONFERENCE WAS AMAZING! honestly I believe it is more than coincidence that both years in my mission,  my birthday has fallen on conference weekend. It has really allowed me to relish and cherish the 10 revelation filled hours that we get every 6 months to listen to the prophet and apostles. The Saturday session, in my opinion, was better than the Sunday one, and this Priesthood session was THE BEST I have ever seen. Every talk was so powerful and awesome, those 2 hours passed like a blink of an eye. For some reason, I have been liking more and more Russell M. Nelsons talks, I loved his on Saturday about acting as one person and not dividing yourself. A close second was the talk of Elder Zwick on communication, not only did he talk in the microphone like a football announcer,  he delivered an awesome message!  Elder Oaks gave such a mind blowing talk about the doctrine of the Priesthood to start the session off, and to end I absolutely loved the 3 last talks by the first presidency. Elder Uchtdorf on ¨Are you sleeping through the Restoration¨ Elder Eyrings on ¨Priesthood Heroes¨ and Presidents Monsons on ¨Defenders of the Faith.¨ Also there were 2 on Sunday that I really enjoyed, like mom I liked Elder  Uchtdorfs on gratitude and how being grateful in all things is a catalyst to all other Christ like attributes. And Elder Bednars about how a heavy load gives us the spiritual traction to persevere and endure to the end. I really hope to continue cherishing conferences like I have in the mission and not let worldly things get in the way.
Haha so I have a funny story to tell about Sundays lunch in between conference sessions. We had lunch with a member of our ward, but since the stake center is a little far, most people only went to the Sunday morning session. So the members just gave us money and told us to go out and buy something for lunch. Elder Dos Santos and his comp also had this problem so we discussed it a bit and decided to go ahead and buy hamburgers. We all felt such guilt as we went to the mall to buy our MALL HAMBURGERS. There were tons of people watching as  missionaries bought burgers to go. Then we went back to the stake center and snuck in without anyone seeing the bags of contraband that we had. I made a video of all our thoughts about breaking the sabbath day and then we chowed down. It was just kind of a funny experience on my birthday. But what else could we have done, we weren`t going to starve!!
So to end I just want to thank mom on all the time and effort you have put into getting me ready for college. Thank you for letting me just focus on my work here and taking all of the stress away that I would have felt if I were to have had to do all of that stuff myself. Also congrats to Shay shay who did great on her race!!! Keep up the strong work Sistaaaaaa:) Love you all, and thank you to EVERYONE who sent me e-mails saying happy birthday:)
-Elder Crook