Tag Archives: Baptism

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

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

My Week

Well, I survived another week. We had zone leader council this week and a few mid-month transfers, but it was really a tranquil week. We had one full day without going to the office, which we´ve tried to do for a while, but it´s been tough to avoid. The office sucks up time. It´s comfortable (air conditioning, good chairs, church music, etc.) but it doesn´t help the area grow at all.
I bought a small USB memory to back up my camera. It was pretty cheap, twenty-two thousand pesos ($11) and has an 8 gig capacity. Right now it doesn´t seem to work, though. I´ll have to talk to my companion to see if there´s a trick.
Last week was the conference with Elder Jeffrey R. Holland here in Barranquilla. I was right in front of him when he destroyed the erasable marker with the whiteboard in the missionary training meeting. And although it´s been tough to get investigatores to church in this area, one of them arrived and was so impressed by the stake conference that he accepted a baptismal goal for later this month afterward. Elder Holland doésn´t say things that are so different, but the way he says them is pretty impressively different.
I have so little to say. The week seems to have gone really fast. I don´t have my camera with me to send photos. I forgot it in the house.
I think my life has turned boring. I guess we should work harder to have more interesting experiences.
I tried some Brazilian chocolate, bought some oatmeal, and have a papaya waiting for me in the fridge. That is the sum total of the week.
Elder Belú

¡Cambios!

Hi, family,
This week we had transfers. The mission transfer is next week, but for assistants it comes early. Elder Candia is zone leader until the transfer, covering for my new companion. My new companion is an elder who started the mission in my zone when I was ZL. He´s the first Brazilian I really got to know in the mission, and I had always wanted to be his companion, so I´m happy. He´s pretty new in the mission to be assistant, but he´s really smart and ready to do it all.
In preparation for the transfers, we´ve been working pretty late in the office. As part of the effort to improve our area, we´re heading out to visit and then coming back to the office at night to keep working, but it´s going good.
My companion is teaching the district leader how to dance Samba.
Every week we receive a list of the people with a baptismal date scheduled for the next three weeks. Every time, a few people fall through and especially for the first day on the list (this week, for example, that day is today) a lot of people always fall through. This week, 25 people were passed for today and a few fell though, so as a district in the office, we held a group fast for the ones who were still there. Then, after starting the fast, the zone leaders started calling to tell us that more people, who hadn´t been progressing towards baptism, made up their minds, were interviewed, and are going to be baptized today. Normally, about ten to twenty percent of the people fall through in the week, but right now it looks like more people will be baptized than we´d planned (26).
I´m glad to know that the branch is doing well in the missionary effort. Are the missionaries still baptizing like they were last year?
I´m also glad for Chris and his new job. I always thought he´d do well in something like that. He´s always been interested in computer science.
Speaking of school, if you can make the preparations for me, so that I can start BYU in January, it looks like the best option. On the other hand, if that would require a lot of my time here, it would be better if I wait. I´d like it if you can look into it, at least. It´ll be a little more complicated if I enter right away, but if not, I´ll have to wait a long time.
 Anyway, that´s my weekly report. Os amo a todos vosotros,
Chao,
Elder Belú

Plans??

Querida familia,
We had another week, like last week. We are focusing on our area right now, until the transfer, at least, so that it can be a model for the mission next transfer. We still had to do a few things, like send the suggestions so the president can make the transfer plans, but we aren’t having any exchanges until the transfer, the fifteenth.
I don´t really have much to write (again). We have found a few new investigatores, but we haven´t had many who progressed recently. We have been able to motivate one investigator a lot this week and he´ll be in church this Sunday, along with one or two other people (I hope). We´re working with members to try to improve the effectiveness in the lessons, because a lot of people have listened to us recently without going to church. It´s a normal phase in the work, and we hope to have people progressing next week.
As for my post-mission plans, don´t ruin my focus. I dón´t know exactly what I´ll do when I get back, but I guess there´s a need for plans. I need to know how much money there will be in my account when I get back. If you can answer today and early, I can check my mail and it´ll be easier for me to decide.
I will think about it and let you know next week. It would also be nice to know about the spring and summer terms (prices and when they start).
BTW, the others here in the office want a campground like that one Cassie went to for girls’ camp.
Chao,
Elder Belyeu

Valledupar

Elder Belyeu’s birthday card included a monkey cartoon. Also, I suggested that he consider buying a new SD card for his camera so he could send his current card and pictures home.
Hi, fambly,
I´m sorry I didn´t write last week. I was sent to Valledupar, a city (and zone) that I hadn´t visited before. I had to fly there with the president. We had a fireside there with the stake (a great stake), one of the strongest I´ve seen in the mission. Then, Monday, one of the missionaries in the house where I was staying got sick and I had to help out a little in the morning with him. in the afternoon, we got together with Presidente Gaviria and played soccer wit the zone (we ate a cake, too, there were two birthdays, mine and another gringo).
I returned to the office with the president the next day and worked with a mini missionary. Yesterday I worked with the missionaries in my old area, Porvenir (the zone leaders) and talked with a brother we found contacting thee last time I worked with them, more than a month ago. He´ll be baptized today. We found a new family yesterday, too, so maybe in another month we´ll have the same experience again.
I haven´t really looked for a new card for my camera. It seems like an awfully complicated and expensive way of solving the problem. I just don´t plan on losing my camera.

Thanks for the card. The secretaries gave it to me today, although I don´t know how long they had it. I don´t know if I´ve told you, but they call people with any hair color except black ¨mono¨ (monkey). The card is very fitting.

Elder Pino´s visit was interesting. We were in the conferences in Cartagena and Barranquilla (I directed the meeting in Barranquilla), although we couldn´t make it to the one in Valledupar. I´ll probably send photos some day, although right now I don´t have any. There is an official picture that I can probably ask for, one of these days.
Anyway, just so´s you know that I´m alive and well, and I´ll be writing soon.
Elder Belú

Socks, Shoes, and Shirts

Hi, people,
This week we started the real work of an assistant. We started arriving, by surprise, in missionaries´ houses and working with them. I worked with two companionships and my companion with two others. It´s a good way to motivate the missionaries and train them, although in a Zone Leader companionship I felt a little out of my league, or at least not sufficiently prepared to be able to train them. I did anyway, but it felt strange training zone leaders.
Next week we´re going to travel to other cities to do the same. The whole mission was going well until the week I arrived in the office, and then suddenly backslid. There were less baptisms in the mission last week than any week this year, but with a lot of follow up and work, things look better already.
This morning my package arrived from home, with nine pairs of beautiful socks and some Skittles. I never thought that new socks would make me so happy. I´m returning to decency again, with new shoes and new socks. I´m thinking about buying a couple of shirts, too, because the ones I have are all a little yellow. I know where to buy quality shirts, but they´re a little pricey (about twenty bucks). I´m thinking still. I also want a miniature copy of Preach My Gospel, which I can buy here but it´s about twenty five bucks. It would help a lot now, because when I have to travel to have splits with missionaries outside of Barranquilla, the copy I have is pretty inconveniente.
I´ll keep thinking about it. I still a about $90,000 in money from home, so there isn´t any great need right now. I´m pretty sure I´m going to buy the PME next week, which will also make me very happy.
I have pictures of the last two baptisms to send, but they´re in the other computer (I´m writing from the office), so I´m send them later.  I´m doing good, though, and will be writing in a week.
Elder Belú

New Responsibilities, New Schedule, New Shoes

Hewo,
I think every week will be more interesting from now on. This week we had zone leader council, and I had to give a message and note the commitments of all the zones. We stayed in the office until twelve-thirty the night before revising the mission rulebook, but we also ate pizza with the president as part of the process, so it worked out.
We went to the wedding of a member who is returning to the church and his girlfriend, who is an investigator. Their son was baptized last week and she will be baptized today. Even though we´re assistants, the work is going well in the area. We plan to go to Cartagena and work with the zone leaders in the two zones there next week, so that should provide more fun and excitement.
The schedule of the missionaries in the office is different from the schedule in the rest of the mission. We work in the office until three in the afternoon and then leave to work in our area, unless we have extra work to do in the office. Monday is a regular work day, and Saturday is p-day, because the office has to work with a lot of things that run a regular schedule, so Monday doesn´t work.
If I send my card from the camera, I can´t take more pictures. I plan on baptizing a lot more after Elder Espinosa leaves as well, so I´m reluctant to do that.
I bought my new shoes. They were fifty-five thousand pesos, or about thirty bucks. The quality isn´t great, but it´s not bad either, and they look good. In the office I´min a lot more contact with Hermana Gaviria and she focuses a lot on the missionary image, which is frequently bad in the mission. If you sweat all day every day, your shirt doesn´t stay very white, and your shoes don´t look very pretty if you walk all day every day. I´m trying to be a good example of how things ought to be.
We plan on sleeping today in p-day. I´m exhausted after transfers and the leadership meeting, but for this wise purpose exists p-day.
Congrats to Chris for (apparently) having done a good job.
Love you all and que estén bién,
Elder Belú
I.D.
Elder Alvarado, who trained me as Zone Leader last year, wrote me from home in Ecuador. He is doing quite well and is planning his marriage for next year with a returned sister missionary. They´re planning on being mission presidents together.

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

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