This Week

I don´t really have anything to say. My companion got sick, but it wasn´t anything serious (He has very healthy digestive bacteria. Too healthy). He just lost a little baby fat and can´t eat yogurt for a few days.

I did buy a suit and I´ll see about a few other things (maybe a hammock, or something like that).
I think I´m just going to keep writing that I´m alive every week.
Chao,
Elder Belú
P.S.
I´m alive.
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Otra Semana Mas

This week was interesting. We gave a lot of blessings (strangers asked us for blessings without even knowing what they were doing) and we did the preparations for a baptism, our first for someone we found together (as opposed to the people that the other missionaries found before us). He´s 22 and a law student, a great guy.

A young single mother attended church for the second time, this time with her four kids. I think they´ll be baptized soon as well. Things are looking up.
I´ll start looking for a suit, I guess. I´d rather not bother, but I think you´re right. I ought to do it now in Colombia while it´s not as costly.

I guess a don´t have much more to say. If I´m going to buy a suit here in Colombia, I´ll be using almost all of the cash on the card, so it´d be nice if you can put a little more on there. I want to buy a few items here before leaving. I haven´t seen many nativities still, but I guess there ought to be some, since the Christmas lights are all out already. I´ll look around.

Okay, ya. Les escribo luego.
Elder Belú

Y otra semana

Hello, people,

You asked about my classes for next semester. I have no idea what to take. I´m interested in a Portuguese course, so you can research that if you want. Other than that, I have no idea. I had hoped that during the mission I would find something that would click as a major, and it hasn´t happened.

You asked about strays. There are more strays in one Colombian city than in all of Alabama. The dog packs don´t threaten people, but they´re always around. The pictures you sent of the strays at home didn´t get here, though. Maybe there were too many?

This week was the transfer and we weren´t touched. I´ll be staying here in Valledupar until the end, barring some mid-month surprise. Speaking of which, I doubt the itinerary you received is correct. I´ve seen a lot of travel plans and the flights are always on Thursdays. It also seems highly unlikely that I´ll be passing by Dallas between Colombia and Alabama, since I´d have to basically fly over Alabama to get there. You never know though, and it´d be great.
Has Rachel still not received her call? A sister in our ward here sent in her papers the week after Rachel and got her call last week, for Ecuador. Don´t forget to tell me when it comes.
I got the letter from Jason, (once) and I´m glad his career is going well. It´s a shame he has to move, especially to a Yankee place, but I know he can handle it.
I also am thinking about buying a new suit, but I haven´t decided. Mine has little holes worn in the belt loops, but aside from that it´s still in good shape. I might be able to get it repaired in the states. Here I can get a name-brand suit for about one-twenty, but I really don´t know how good the quality is. Suggestions?

Ok, ya, chao,

Elder Belú

La semana mia

It`s another holiday in Colombia and the internet site where we`re at closes even earlier than the last time, but I`ve got a few things to say.

First, we found an inactive member last Monday who has been lost for about twenty years. We found her in a slightly miraculous way, which I`ll explain someday, and taught her with her nephew, who went with her to church yesterday. After a week of reading the Book of Mormon, she has already regained her testimony, which she shared with the whole ward in sacrament meeting.
This mission doesn`t send letters to the family because it`s terribly expensive. You`ve receive an email and maybe a call in about a month to let you know about my travel plans to come home. I don`t know much more than you do right now, but I expect to be released around the twentieth of December.
I´d like to know how many people are attending in the branch at home these days. Here, we`re getting better. We had eighty people in the sacrament meeting.
Okay, gotta go,
Chao,
Elder Belú

We Learned a Ton

Well, another week has passed. We have had a great week. We learned a ton.

This is because the week started out bad. We had two rough days, Monday and Tuesday. Tuesday night was the change. My companion said he was going to have faith that the investigators would be in the appointments and that they would keep the commitments and dared me to do the same. From that point on, everything went a lot better. It wasn´t perfect, but we were able to have success that we haven´t had in the month we´ve been here.
The guidance from the Spirit got stronger with our faith and several times this week I´ve felt it. I´ll just share one example. We were in Stake conference, hoping that our best new investigator, a college student named José, would finally arrive after missing church the first two Sundays. We waited and waited and he didn´t show, but I felt like it would be all right, and that he´s show up. Elder Herrick said the same thing, that he felt like it would be okay. Later, halfway through the conference, I felt a small impression that I needed to get up and look outside to see if he was there. I shrugged it off, thinking that as missionaries, we need to be good examples of reverence and that if he was there, he would come in. I really didn´t think it was the Spirit.
When the conference ended, we both felt that he was there, somewhere, and that we just hadn´t seen him yet. we went outside to wait for him in the crowd. As soon as we stepped outside, we saw him seated on a garden bench in front of the chapel. He had arrived in the middle of the conference and didn´t have the courage to enter. He basically arrived in the moment when I felt that I should look.
He didn´t enter and I didn´t follow the guidance, but we learned a whole lot more and our confidence in the Lord grew as well. Next time, we won´t blow it.
Also, an interesting note: There aren´t many Indians here in the coast outside a few small towns, so I´ve never had contact with them, but now we´re teaching an Indian woman. She speaks Spanish pretty well and can even read (a little), but it´s a little tough to understand her culture and vice versa. She attended church yesterday, but it looks like she´s going back to her people for a visit this week (probably for a while, to pick coffee). She wears a long white robe all the time, but I don´t know what her tribe is called. I can´t understand when she tells us what her language is called.
Well, that´s my report. Now to answer Mom’s questions:  the name Valledupar has Dupar in it, which I think is French, but Valle is valley. We are in a valley in the mountains (and that´s why it´s a little cooler than Barranquilla. But just a little). We´re still close to the ocean and there´s a river nearby, so there´s still a lot of fish to eat, but I think it is a little more costly.
I guess that´s all, then, and I´m hungry.
hasty lumbego, entonces,

Elder Belú

 

 

Valledupar

Hi, fambly,

Habiéndo sido reprendido, haré en esfuerzo por escribir mas.
Let´s start with the questions Mom asked. Valledupar hasn´t been a stake for very long (the old district president is currently in charge of our ward as first counselor in the bishopric) and has only five wards. The mission is growing, though, and is trying to really strengthen the wards that will soon be supporting a temple, so there are four missionaries in every ward. There are sisters in one ward and they are all Latins (there are no sisters from the States in Colombia). Missionaries from Colombia go to Bolivia, Argentina, or Chile, almost always, but a fair number go to Cali or Bogotá (Sur o Norte). Very few go to other places. I have met one who served in Texas and the family of another who was in Utah. There are also a few who go to other countries in South America, but not many leave.
We wash our own clothes and clean our own house. The mission president´s wife threatened calling a cleaning service a while back (and charging us) but it never happened. Sometimes sisters wash the clothes.
Congratulations to Jason and Catherine. I approve of their baby’s name, as well, although I think it´s more or less obvious that they are Mormons. I´m good with that. All of my nieces and nephews have to be Mormons.
The MTC program is better than ever, but they´re going to lose a lot of the progress that they gained when they cut the time. We´ve been receiving better prepared missionaries every time, but they can´t do the same thing in just a couple of weeks. We´ll just have to train better.
Weekly report, entonces,
This week we baptized a sister who the other missionaries left us. We had to work with her a little bit, but really, they did the hard part. Now we have to find more people.
I don´t remember if I told you that the bishop of this ward was released a few days ago. The first counselor has taken over until the new bishop is called, which may take several months (depends on the first presidency, here) and is really motivating the ward. He called a ward counsel and gave a lot of assignments. They planned weekly ward councils until the system gets going again.
Well, I guess that´s all. I hope you´re well and I´ll write again in a week. Maybe.
Elder Belú

This Week in Brief

For those who don’t know, our congregation is part of a “stake,” or a group of congregations based in Montgomery, Alabama. For the last nine years, the lay pastor over all the congregations in our stake was Eric Boswell. On Sunday Pres. Boswell was released and an old family friend, Quinn Millington, accepted the position for the next nine or ten years.

Familia,

I knew Pte. Millington would be stake presidente someday. I just hoped Pte Boswell would last until I got home. Oh, well.
I don´t have any time to write. They just told us that, since today is a holiday, the internet café will close two minutes ago. I guess it´s as good an excuse as any for not writing much. Just so´s you know, this week was interesting. Our bishop is being released, and his first counselor moved.  This will be a great opportunity to reorganize the ward and we’re excited about it.
BTW, since when is there a ward in Millbrook, Alabama?
Other bullet points:
Elder Camargo from the seventy came to Valledupar and had a brief meeting with the missionaries. He knows me from other visits and picked on me.
How much does gas cost? My comp told me it´s at 6 bucks a gallon in California.
Okay, that´s all. I hope you´re all well, and I love you.
Elder Belú

Muchas Cosas

I think I´d better get used to surprises in General Conference. I can´t ever describe how it felt when the temple in Barranquilla was announced. I was in the ward where they bought the lot at the time and in the stake center of that ward, right there (I´m not going to get competitive with Grandpa, though. It´s not the area where I started, after all). The feeling when President Monson announced the temple in Barranquilla was like when he announced the change in age for missionaries. It´s directly personal, something that changes my life and my family.
First things first. I feel that what we´ve always lived, that a few sisters serve missions for some special desire or guidance, is over. Now I expect that the majority of the young women who really love the Lord will serve missions. They can now serve, return, and still be married by an early age. I expect Cassie and Beth will consider it, too, in a couple of years.
It´s not a big surprise that the young women are putting in mission papers already. The change in age limit for them is huge and really shows how important they are in this effort. I expect that the number of missionaries will increase dramatically over the next year.
I guess it´s possible that you can see what was the high point in my week. In the area, we´re a little bogged down in a Viper Cub, here, and just trying to find investigators. Might be a baptism this weekend, just depends on the interview, but it´s someone the last missionaries here left almost ready. We´re here to fill the font.
You commented that we´re close to Venezuela. It´s true: everybody sells contraband gas here that they bought over the line, cheap. There are also members of the Indian tribe Guayú, from La Guajira, who wear traditioinal clothes and worship little idols, but we really don´t see them much. We´re in the downtown and residential sections of the city, where there´s not much going on (other than buying and selling, obviously).
Anyway, that´s the smaller part of my record. The history of my people I will write on other plates and hide, so you can never see it until someone combine the two sets of plates in about four hundred years.
One last thing: how is Sister Ermer? I guess she´s in California. My regrets for her loss.
Y, pues, chao,
Elder Belú

Training in Valledupar

Well, I´m now a trainer in Valledupar. My new companion is Elder Herrick, from Wyoming. The Spanish program has improved since I was in the MTC, so his Spanish is pretty good. He´s been in Colombia for five weeks, in the MTC in Bogotá, too, which helps. He´s still learning obviously, but he already understands pretty well.

I haven´t taken any pictures of Valledupar still, but it´s pretty. It´s like the hot version of Provo, with mountains all the way around. The water in the shower every morning comes out cold because it´s melt off from the mountains. That´s great when I´m hot, not as good when I´m not.
We found a person here that the other missionaries left completely ready for baptism. She´s a fifteen year old girl from a part-member inactive family that the other missionaries activated. BTW, one of the missionaries who was here is E. Reyes, who I trained in Cartagena. They left us with a couple of people, although we´re going to have to find a lot more.
I hope you´re all well, then and I´ll be writing in a week.
Chao,
E. Belú

Ahora si

Now I´m writing late again. But at least I let you know that I´m alive.
We´ve had a busy week again, with more midmonth transfers, two trips to Cartagena, and the plans for the transfer next week.
This morning a man jogging by saw us leaving the apartment and started yelling ¨¡misioneros!¨. He is extremely blond and talked with a funny accent, but not like a gringo. I think he is German or Swedish. He asked for the church´s address and the Book of Mormon, and then headed off running. These little experiences make life more interesting.
You asked about discouragement in the letter last week. It´s pretty normal for a missionary to feel pretty down sometimes. I think more tears are shed in the mission than in any other time. Part of the answer comes from a talk by Elder Bednar about doctrine that you can search for. I don´t know what it´s called, but it might be ¨the answer´s in the doctrine¨.
Congrats to Joseph. I think I got the genealogy merit badge. I know I did part of it. It´s easy. I never got an eagle palm, though.
Bye, then. I might send pictures of Valledupar soon. Or maybe not (BTW, I backed up all of my pictures in a USB memory today).
Wuv,
Elder Belú