Monthly Archives: March 2011

First Week in Cartagena, Colombia

Well, I´m in Cartagena. Lots of people say that Montería is hotter than any other place in the country, but it feels just the same to me, except that we walk a little more.

This area is golden. We taught a lot of people in Montería who…struggled with understanding. Here, almost everybody gets it the first time and most are thinking on their own. We´re in an area a little more educated, with a little more money. Bags of water (drinking water comes in plastic baggies, don´t remember if I´ve said that yet) are $200 in Montería and $400 here. Most things haven´t increased that much, though.

Elder Jenson is a great missionary. He works really hard. Really. I have trouble keeping up with him (I mean literally, walking), but then we do have to walk fast. The people we´re teaching don´t live as close together as they did in my old area.

Traveling was interesting. I had to wait in the airport in Montería almost all day Wednesday with a zone leader from another zone, expecting other missionaries, who never showed up. I finally flew out at about four thirty and talked with the elders we had been expecting in the airport in Barranquilla. (One of them is from my district in the MTC, Elder Beck. He said I´m whiter than ever, which isn´t true. I´ve been way whiter.) I had to wait in Barranquilla over night and got to talk to Elder Ward one last time. (He was still there waiting for his flight, at five in the morning Thursday.) On Thursday, I rode in an air-conditioned van from Barranquilla to Cartagena.

The countryside is full of farms and jungle, but without many tall trees. We´ve already had one baptism here since I arrived and things look good for another every week, if we can manage scheduling around General Conference this week. A whole family is preparing and progressing really well, which doesn´t happen much with families broken up as bad as they are here. I had some minor repairs done on my shoes in Montería, so I think they´ll last a good while longer.

Elder Jenson has been in Colombia 7 months, plus his 2 months in the MTC. His Spanish isn’t perfect yet, although pretty good. He has a little more accent than me when we´re talking about simple things (at least, that´s what the natives say), but I still can’t understand native Spanish very well. I think I´m progressing pretty well, all in all. I want to talk to Elder Smith, whose Spanish was way better than ours in the MTC. Elder Jenson, by the way, is the district leader, so I have to learn our area before the other elders in the district (just one other companionship) need him to go on exchanges with them. It´s a tricky area, too. He´s lost part of the time still, after 6 weeks here. The streets are kind of wild.

Anyway, that what´s happening here. I´d like to send some photos, but I can´t from this computer. We´ll see we can do something more later.

For now, bye,

Elder Belú

Today Monteria, Tomorrow Cartagena

Hi, people at home,
I thought for sure I would stay in Montería, but I thought wrong. I´m going by plane tomorrow to Cartagena in a zone called Alpes, working in an area called Nuevo Bosque, with another gringo (Elder Jenson). Most of the others from my group in the MTC (CCM) are working with Latinos, though.
Elder Ward left early, Domingo (Sunday), for an activity the president wanted to do with all the missionaries who are leaving the country, so I´ve been working with the ZLs. They´re going to take over my old area and still work theirs, and one of them is leaving to be a ZL in my new zone (and he´ll be senior companion), so they have it tough. I wonder if it´s appropriate to pray to never be a ZL?
We had four baptisms scheduled for the past weekend, but our best investigator almost died on Sunday. (He has some type of leak in his brain and two of his heart valves were clogged. He almost died because a third valve clogged on Sunday after church.) He and his girlfriend weren´t able to get married or baptized and it´s not clear if he´s going to survive. He hasn´t been able to work in a long time and doesn´t have anything. Poor here means poor.
I´m having to drop all my investigators and trust in the other missionaries to take care of them. Fortunately, Elder Vargas, who is staying, is a very good missionary. He joined the church two years ago and is 27 now. He has one year in the field and has been a ZL since December or January (I don´t remember which). He´ll be an assistant to the president and likely a general authority, later on.
I don´t have much time to write today, with three people needing time, but this is what´s going on. By and take care.
Belder Elyeu
P.S. Somebody needs to search for a tall skinny blond Idahoan named Derek Ward on Facebook, but he may not be there yet. Be ready.

My White Clothes Got Wet

Hi, people,

I thought about just saying that my white clothes got wet, but I guess this is better. Nicer, anyway. We´ve been teaching this family since my first week and now one of them is a member. His name is Adriano Antonio Acosta Martinez (had to memorize it for the ordinance) and he is 82 years old.

At the baptism

Everything went fine for the baptism until we got to the church, where we found that a helpful brother in the ward had let the water out of the font. Fortunately, we had planned some extra time and were able to refill the font in time for the service. All went well for our baptism, but the others had baptisms as well (several people) and Elder Velez had some trouble baptizing the sister. Her dress kept floating up and the baptism had to be redone. Five times. However, they got it done and she´s a member, too, now. To see people who before had no idea receiving the ordinances of the gospel is a very great experience.
I´m more excited than I can say to hear that the Smothers family is planning for missionaries, too. This isn´t an easy experience, but it´s worth everything. Kurtis can be a very well prepared missionary if he spends time on it now. The scriptures are a great resource and help every missionary, whether he speaks English or something outlandish like Russian. Or Costeñol.
I actually haven´t seen TV screens talking about the problems in Japan, but the people are all talking about it. I think I mentioned that we felt an earth tremor during a lesson last week, but nothing big.
We have four more baptisms scheduled for next Saturday. I´ll let you know if they go through on Tuesday. Our next Preparation Day is Tuesday (Martes, dadgummit! I keep writing it wrong!) because we have transfers next week. My companion leaves for the States on Miercoles (Wednesday), but I don´t know if I´ll stay here with a new Elder or leave. I think I´m ready for a Latino comp, but I thought that before, too, and was dead wrong. I couldn´t have managed very well before. We have interviews with the President today and I´m not sure that´ll go well in Spanish.
Other notes. I broke my record of contacts in a bus (21, now) and bought weird fruits at the Colombian version of a Walmart (which I have visited twice, now. We shop at roadside tiendas).
I can´t think of anything else important, so bye now.
Belder Elyeu

PS. The Pics: Me and another new elder (Elder Velez). Adriano es mi primer bautismo de la misión. I performed the ordinance. Also, us with other people from another área (combined baptism).

Elder Belyeu and Elder Velez

Monkeys and Ice Cream in Monteria

Hello, familyar people,

I don´t have much time to write today, but we´ll see what we can do. Thanks for the input on the old pictures of car engines I had in my camera. I really don´t think they´re much use here. I would appreciate if you could send me a picture of the whole family together, though, if you have one in digital form. I thought I had one, but I don´t.

Today we visited a park, ate ice cream, watched the monkeys, fed the monkeys, and watched the iguanas (iguanas are boring). Chances are good (bad, from my perspective) that my comp and I will both be transferred this week, so I won´t get to see this park again (and I forgot to bring my camera to the park this time) but there are others. I don´t want to leave the area I just got and the investigators, and my trainer (one month to get trained isn´t enough), but we´ll see. Maybe they´ll leave us here. If not, I´ll get to meet new people, see new things, and all that stuff.

My comp prayed in English last night to practice. It was a struggle. It turned out mostly okay, except for giving thanks for the opportunity to ¨assist the church¨  (the Spanish word for attend is asistir). Muy chistoso. (Very funny.)

We have started contacting every bus with enough people. I contacted one with nineteen people and Elder Ward did one with 31. The mission has already changed me a lot. I never thought I could stand up in a bus and declare the Gospel at the top of my voice in Spanish.

We got to attend a baptism on Saturday with some of our investigators (not being baptized, that was someone from another area). It went really well and the Spirit was really strong. We did a musical number (¨Oh, Mi Padre¨. I tried to get hem to do the music from ¨Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing¨, but they wouldn´t.) and one of our ‘gators cried.

Más o menos, this was my week. I wish I had more time to write, but I don´t. I’m really excited for Jason and look forward to having him in the branch. I´m not allowed to write anyone outside of he family directly, but I know he´ll read this. Baby John looks great and healthy. Whoo!
I´m also really glad Misty got to go to the temple and that Dad got to go. I hear that Dad doesn´t travel well. That´s a matter of opinion, depending on whether you want to be bored.

Anyway, os amo mucho. I´ll let´cha know if they put me somewhere else. Probably.

Belder Elyeu