Category Archives: Cartagena

Shoes, Socks, and a New Mission

Hi, peoples,

I think you damaged my self-confidence speaking English on Saturday. English isn’t easy today either. I will not write much, entonces.

First, send me a picture of the bathroom after Dad finishes remodeling. It looks pretty bad still in the ones you sent. Second, I haven`t tried my bank card yet, but I can wait a while to buy shoes. I didn`t think to mention it to Dad,but I already changed the sole on one pair of shoes (the leather pair that got wet) and it still serves now and then when I need something dry. I wore them yesterday. It rained again yesterday and we got wet again, but we`re still good. Third, as far as I know, acrylic is for painting and nylon for clothing, but I like good padding for my feet, so whatever you think’s best, Ned. (that part`s for Dad). Maybe half and half socks, if you want. I have used a few thin socks and I like them. ¿How much is it going to cost to send me socks?
Another thought is that the transfer is close and another mission is opening this transfer. Maybe you ought to wait until next month to send, just in case. I don`t think I`m gonna change missions, but you never know.
One spiritual thought: we have had a huge challenge getting the investigators to attend church, because we have church at eight in the morning and Sunday is a business day for a lot of people, but we fasted so four people would attend. We had lost contact with three of them and the fourth had to travel for work, but the fast worked. Two of the three who we had lost arrived without us doing anything, and the one who had to work changed her schedule to attend. In the end, three of the four arrived.
We won, in other words. Now we are going to climb a hill in the sun and take pictures.
Elder Belù

 

Mother’s Day Call Home

Hey, Everybody,
Jon called home this afternoon. We used Skype again, and, just like his calls for Christmas and last Mother’s Day, it was hard. This time the first internet cafe he and his companion visited had a power outage as they tried to start their calls. It took them over an hour to find a shopping mall with functioning internet. By then, his companion’s family had given up on their call. (The companion plans to try again tomorrow.)
Jon struggled to speak to us in English, reverting to Spanish often during the call. Recently a Colombian asked Jon for help with English grammar homework, and it took Jon several readings to understand the question. He doesn’t even have an English-language Bible anymore–he got rid of his English scriptures months ago after they got wet and grew mold. He studies in Spanish and in Portuguese. (He can’t pronounce the Portuguese, but finds that looking at it helps him understand Spanish better.)
The Colombian climate is hot and wet. He says the weather is simple–some days are rainy, some days are sunny, and some days it rains while the sun shines. He walks all day long in water, then comes home and soaks his feet in a bleach solution to prevent fungus infections. He also bathes daily, usually in a proper shower, though he has washed with five liter bags of drinking water at times when the city water was turned off. He says with proper hygiene it’s easy to prevent infections–he hasn’t had any kind of problem with fungus, and his overall health is good. His shoes, on the other hand, are full of holes, and his socks wore out. He asked us to send him American socks for his birthday, and he’s going to buy new shoes there in Colombia.
Jon’s camera still takes pictures, but he can’t send the pictures to us. Hopefully when he gets home we’ll find a way to get them off the camera.
He doesn’t have a cell phone, in fact, very few of the missionaries do. This is a security measure to keep the missionaries from being targeted by robbers. (One set of elders in Barranquilla had their cell phone stolen at gunpoint three weeks in a row.) It’s inconvenient that we didn’t have a way to call him to set up the Skype, but the policy seems to be working–Jon hasn’t been robbed.

He looks fine. We’ve very glad that he kept trying to call us until he got through!

Mango Season

Jelo,

Well, it`s p-day again. This week the baptisms didn`t go through. The good news is that we finally reached the goal of new investigatores (and really blew it away. Goal: 10, achievement: 16). We may not baptize much for a few weeks, but we`ve found a few great families and a few new methods of finding that really work. We also worked a lot with inactives. Sometimes the best thing we can do is shut up and just listen to people’s problems.

 I`m sad to hear about Ted Degerstrom’s death. We knew he was sick, but I always hoped he`d keep hanging on. I guess Sis. Degerstrom will be moving again? She needs the Church more than ever.
I hope Chris can earn what he needs. It sounds like a pretty good job and he`ll be a lot better prepared for the new school year with a little put away. I also hope he can focus on the most important things that he has to do. Going to the woods to hunt and getting sidetracked into logging isn`t worth much.
I guess that`s about it, aside from a fun fact. This is mango-season in the Colombian coast. The mango is a lot like the peach, for those who don`t know, and is incredibly cheap. There are about fifty million types and almost all of them are good. The only type that I have seen in the States is the only one without flavor.
Just so`s you know, I am eating fresh fruit and you`re not.
Con amor,
Elder Belù

Focused on Finding

Hi, you folks (yolks),

This week was another week with seven days, with dark times (nights) and less dark times (days). We teached a little and walked some. Baptized a little, too (a referral who told us in the frst visit that she wanted to be baptized). We had interview with the President (Gaviria, not Obama).
We`re focused on finding, right now. We`ve got very few investigators and we`ve got to find more.
There really isn`t much changing. I have to either write a huge amount or almost nothing, because it`s my life. Everything is normal, ladies giving us Catholic blessings in the street, teaching people, doing weird things. You ought to search for a talk by Elder Holland in the MTC the 11th of January, 2011. It`s incredible, quoting the last chapter of John and using it to explain about the call (¨When I asked you to leave your nets, it was forever. When I asked you to follow me, it was forever!¨). We watched it it study time yesterday and it animated us a lot.
Anyway, that`s my story and I`m sticking to it. Guardenlo real esta semana.
Con amor,
Elder Belù

Elder “Obama” in Cartagena, Colombia

Hi, peoples,

This week was the transfer. My trainee is now in Puerto Colombia, Barranquilla, training. There is a new program, in which the new missionary has a special study hour almost every day for two transfers. Elder Rodriguez is training a new missionary in the second half of the program, He`s going to be in leadership real soon, going like that. Of the last two trainers in that area, one finished the mission there and went home, the other is Assistant now.
I`m training again, too. My companion is from Argentina. He was inactive for years, returned to the church a year ago, baptized his dad a month ago, and is excited to be here, even though he`s from Nuequen, in La Patagonia, and the climate is way different.

The visit of the Presidente of the US is one of the most important things that have ever happened in Cartagena. Several people have called me Obama in the street and one of the members who is returning to the church tells me every time he sees me that Obama is the best president in the world because he`s black. The idea that there`s more to it than skin color hasn`t occurred to him yet. I hadn`t heard about any kind of problem with the summit, but I`m not sure if what you explained about a scandal would be newsworthy, here.

 With Joseph`s ACT, remember that I was sure I had failed horribly both times. Maybe after seeing the results he’ll feel better. Speaking of results, did you say that Chris is already a sophomore? He hasn`t even finished the first semester yet, has he? If he has, how did it go?
Anyway, that`s that. I`m in Cartagena, but far from international summit meetings, and everything continues almost like normal.
Os amo a vosotros,
 Elder Belù

Hanging at the Beach

Hi, fambly,

I just wanted to let you all know that I´m not dead, and that I´m writing late with permission. We had a multi-zone p-day with the president and instead of teaching today, we´re having p-day at night. It´s weird, but it´s okay with me. We went to the beach and took pictures. I´ll try to send one, but the computer is slow. I put on sunscreen, by the way. I´m terribly burned, but at least I tried.
I don´t have time to write much, but nothing really happened this week. The whole week of Easter is a celebration here, so it´s harder to find people who want to listen. We set a few appointments for this week, though, with new people who should progress.
I really don´t have much to say. We ate a lot of Colombian candy, which is like a sugary sauce. They do it in the Week Holy, with fruits and vegetables (even potatoes, although I didn´t try that one) but that´s about it.
I hope you all continue well, entonces, and that you may have a good week.
Elder Belú
P.D. That was grammar espanish.

General Conference in Colombia

Cordial saludo,

This week went well. My area enchants me. Even though we`re currently a little short on great investigatores, we`re finding a lot of new people (for example, the thirteen-year-old cousin of a couple of members who was in three sessions of the conference wearing a tie, which even the members almost never do).
I don`t remember if I told you all about the activity we had, contacting with a group of young men with a brief message about the Restoration a couple of weeks ago, but we have a few investigators from there, too. Others have stopped investigating for on reason or another (a common reason is having a husband or boyfriend who doesn´t like Mormons). We keep progressing.
The Conference is a whole lot more important for me now than it was, and I always liked it. I noticed that a lot of the messages talked about the men who aren`t really active, who let their wives lead in all spiritual matters. I`ve seen that a lot in Colombia, but also in the States. I`m so glad that I come from a family that follows the guidance in the Proclamation to the World. I appreciate what you`ve all done for me more every time I talk with someone who`s family is scrambled, who`s dad, or mom, or siblings, don`t care about the family or the gospel. I talked with a kid who always accompanied us in Nuevo Bosque in the conference (in the stake center) who is sending out his papers for the mission against his family´s will. It`s tough for him.
Basically, that`s all I`ve got to say. I do have one request. I like to share personal stories, either mine or from family members, to support things we teach.  I`d like some more stories  about the scriptures, or commandments, or whichever principle, to share with investigatores. Sometimes that helps a lot.
Anyway, que sigan bien, and we`ll be communicating soon,
Los love,
Elder Belù

My Bed is Comfortable

Deer people,

Another week has gone by. Two investigators who have been trying to overcome a lot of obstacles finally were able to do so this week. They were baptized Friday, partied until midnight in the church building (celebrating the marriage) and were confirmed yesterday.

We had a goal of six baptisms this month and had five. I`m okay with that.

We`re excited for General Conference and trying to find more people to baptize. We`ve lost a lot of investigators in water in the last few weeks.

We started sending the clothes to a member to wash this week, so there`s not as much to do on p-day.

Tell Beth that Colombia is very comfortable sometimes, and sometimes not so much. The part where my bed stays is quite comfortable in the morning.

I really don`t have a lot to say. We finded this week a bunch and teached some. Some of the people who listened were weird, some not so much. I like the weird ones better, I think.

Os amo a todos, y que estéis bien,

Elder Belù

Photos at Last!!!

My companion fixed my camera, so you can have pictures again. Lavadora and a few baptisms here in La Victoria.

Lavadora

A Colombian washing machine

In Good Health

I sent Jon a story about someone we know who had to come home from his mission early because of a serious leg injury. I also sent him pictures of our elderly family dog and some bread his youngest brother baked.

Familia,

An investigator from before we arrived in the area was baptized finally this weekend. There are two more baptisms this weekend, for a couple that we`ve been teaching for about two months (their marriage has been difficult to arrange, but this week should finish it.) Another sister is going to wait a little longer before baptism.

Two sisters from my companion´s ward in Bogotá entered in the sacrament meeting yesterday. They arrived here for vacation and brought a package from his mom. He was incredibly steamed and sent an email to chew out his mom and the whole family (he says he did it with love, but I read the email). Para que sepan, that´s against the rules. He´s a power. A lot of missionaries wouldn´t have worried about the rules.

I`m in good health and don`t think anybody´s gonna freak out and send me to a doctor for seeing my leg. It´s pretty ugly, but in a normal hairy, lumpy, pale kind of way. My health really hasn`t been any kind of problem.

I`m glad to see that the dog Bowser`s okay and the homemade bread looks great. Bread here is good, but different. Will did a great job with that batch.

And that… is the rest of the story.

Elder Belú

P.D. Conferencia General otra vez! What time is the conference over there? They announced it for two hours earlier here than ever.