Monthly Archives: April 2011

Baptisms and Finding My Way Around

 Hi, peoples,
This week has been good and bad. First, a couple of notes: I still haven`t tried to use my card yet, hopefully sometime today I`ll have time (there aren`t a lot of ATMs close). We´ll be calling at eight or nine at night, the weekend of Mother`s Day, either Saturday or Sunday. Still don`t know that part.

We had baptisms this week. A family that`s been preparing for a long time finally took the plunge. One of the sons in the family decided that he`s ready for baptism and pushed almost the whole family into deciding, too. The dad had decided to be baptised. With the support of the family, he went ahead and committed. The mom is waiting about baptism, but she told us it`s just a matter of time.

What has me especially excited is that the son who decided first about baptism also wants to serve a mission. He went teaching with us yesterday, directly after his confirmation, and I gave him an extra copy of PMG. If he does go on a mission, he could be in the field around the midway mark of my mission, and his younger brother could leave a few months after I get home. That`s how the dominoes do it, anyway. I feel successful.

However, in an exchange this Friday I had to stay in my area with another elder from my district while Elder Jensen did an interview in the other area. We wandered for an hour searching for a house in a maze of other identical houses. I can speak Spanish more or less, share gospel principles that change lives for eternity, and live in a country where nobody speaks English, thousands of miles from home, but I can`t find anything in my area. My biggest weakness may well be my inability to navigate in the mission. The time I use searching for houses isn`t mine.

Things are improving, though. I can find our house and the church and the houses of some investigators. Maybe Elder Jensen will be here for another transfer before I have to navigate with a new comp.

Sin embargo, that´s life. Have fun in strange places, like the USA and Italy. I can almost understand Italian, now. Someone we visited yesterday was watching TC in Italian and I almost didn`t notice it wasn`t Spanish. I still don`t understand Spanish perfectly either, but Italian will be a piece of cake, after Spanish. Russian, maybe not.

Pues, chao, see you later.

Elder Belù

Scheduling Conflict

Elder J Belyeu will write his usual letters on April 25 and May 1, but due to a scheduling conflict, there will be a delay before they’re posted. The letters will be posted in early May.

Thinking in Spanish

Hi, fambly,
First things first. I am so happy to hear that my taxes are okay. I hadn´t exactly been worrying about it, but it was in the back of my mind (anything less than death in the family is a little … distant, here). It´s also a relief to have better plan for the Mother’s Day phone call, although I have no idea what time I´m going to call.
There´s another problem with my call home, as well. I don´t speak English anymore. I was in a companion exchange on Friday and we contacted a man and woman sitting in their yard. My comp-for-the-day, Elder Ellis, from Ecuador, tried to contact them, and the woman said she didn´t understand Spanish, but in Spanish with a perfect accent. I doubted her sincerity and asked, in English, where she was from. Turns out she really doesn´t speak perfect Spanish, and she´s from New York, visiting with her husband, a native Colombian who moved to the States years ago to study and work. I tried to talk with them in English and invite them to talk with missionaries in New York when they go home, but I couldn´t. I can´t speak English fluently enough to communicate about the Church. I read, write (including notes for emails home), think, speak, and dream (only about half the time, for dreaming, still) in Spanish.
Regarding the Facebook thing,  Parts of Colombia are breathtaking. From El Castillo De San Felipe, looking out over the Ocean (Í´d like to visit that with Grandpa), or traveling by land from Barranquilla to Cartagena, or looking out over the ocean and richer parts of the city from the second story apartment of the Suarez family (investigators).
There are also parts that aren´t so pretty, where the people are, of course, but they´re mostly friendly. It´s interesting that I´ve seen so little violence. People say that Colombia is really violent, and I´m not teaching in the richer parts very much, but I´ve only seen one fight (two drunks yelling and throwing things. Nobody got hurt) and saw people running to watch another (everybody wants to see a fight, here. It´s even better than gringos). The police presence has power and authority, too.

We were reading the missionary handbook a few days ago in English and didn´t understand perfectly. We had to switch to Spanish to understand. And when I tried to write missionary handbook, I had to ask Elder Jenson how to say it in English.

I was reading in the Book of Mormon while Elder Jenson wrote to his family and thinking about your letter (I printed it off to read while he wrote) and noticed something interesting. Alma the Elder converted to the gospel in the year 148, B.C. and was called immediately as a prophet. His son was a prophet, grandson, etc. All-in-all, his descendants were prophets for 469 years, until Ammaron hid the plates and entrusted them to Momon. Families can be very powerful to change to lives of the people in them. The influence of a change in the family can lead to righteousness to the umpteenth generation.
Anyway, Mom´ll like that.
I support what she said about the people we meet on the mission. The members will follow our example because we´re the Americans and they think we know everything. They´ll figure us out eventually, though.
Anyway, this is a huge letter and I´m out of time.
Chao,
Elder Belú

Baptism and a Castle

There`s way too much to write. We went to a castle last Monday after writing.

Castle in Cartagena, Colombia

View from the Castle

Cartagena, Colombia

I got instructions for my Mother`s Day call. I have to use skype or a pay phone of a particular type. One would require me paying in cash, my own, the other would require you having skype. I don`t remember what day is Mother`s Day, but I think there`s time to work this out. I hope.

There`s also a picture from the baptism this past weekend.

Baptism!

The Latino on the left, behind me is a returned missionary who performed the ordinances.
Anyway, time`s gone. Ciao
Elder Belù

General Conference in Cartagena, Colombia

Nothing really changes in a week. Some investigators are progressing, some aren`t. I think my comp has more faith than me (I`m pretty sure, actually), but I might improve in that.

I don`t really have much to say, today. Our baptism didn`t go through (couldn`t schedule around Conference). I did get to talk with another elder from my district in the MTC (Elder Smith). He`s still in his first area, with his first companion. His area sounds about like Monterìa was for me. Spanish is going about the same for him, too

We tried to watch the Conference in English, but it was too much trouble (a lot of trouble, actually. Nothing was set up, nothing worked, and there wasn`t air conditioning anywhere but where we had to watch in Spanish.), so I didn`t understand very much.

You said that the poor people accept the gospel better. It`s true. We have a rule that we have to work in the rich (pupi) parts of our areas at least five hours of the week, but we don`t want to. On the other hand, the people with less here often don`t really know what a schedule or a commitment is, so it can be frustrating.

Anyway, I`ll try to send those pictures today and maybe write a little more. Bye, for now.

Elder Belù

PS. Here are pictures of the last baptism in Monterìa, with Alondra Señas and Viviana Gonzalez (I`m not sure about the last name of Viviana. Something common like that). Also pictures of the baptism here, with Elder Jenson and Lilia Morales.