Tag Archives: Cartagena Colombia

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
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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

Photos!!!

I just arrived in the office again today. I was in Cartagena again working with some more zone leaders. It´s good to see them go.
To answer your questions, the missionaries here almost always live in cities, although there are a few in little towns. we never ride bikes. We walk a lot, we don´t live with members, and the mission sends us the Liahona in Spanish.
Last week we worked really well in the area. We found new people to teach and were able to work with the mission a little, too. This week we didn´t focus well enough and it didn´t go as well. The mission is improving, though. Next week is the transfer and we´ve got a lot to do.
I´m looking at my clothes situation and thinking that I need to buy a few more things. I bought an expensive toy last week, for twenty bucks (a reduced size copy of Preach my Gospel, which is great when I have to travel light), but Í need a couple of shirts and possibly another pair of shoes. I might look today at the prices.
Anyway, that´s my week. Escribiré lueguito.
Elder Belú
PS.

My companion left his photos in the computer when he finished. This is the office staff and the despedida de los que se fueron a la otra mission.
I don´t remember English and I don´t care.

Feeling Lazy

I feel way too lazy to write home today. I was in Cartagena almost all week, working with three companionships there (the LZs, and two companionships).  It felt weird. I was in the other zone, the one where I´ve never worked, but it´s a lot like where I have always been in Los Alpes, Cartagena.
I´m in Barranquilla again today, though and things are more normal. I saw the pictures you sent and showed everybody the blueberries mom picked. I hadn´t seen blueberries in a long time. They look good, but the flavor isn´t the same electronically. I guess I´ll wait a while.

There´s a new rule that only members of the immediate family can write to this email. Even grandparents and cousins have to write with dearelder. That would be annoying if I was anywhere else in the mission, but here it´ll arrive without problems  (dearelder is slow for everybody else). I can´t answer directly anymore, though. Tell Misty thanks, BTW.

All of these rules come from the problems that the mission has had with disobedience. I used to think they were excessive, but now I know about some of the problems and it makes more sense. It really doesn´t matter.
Anyway, I´m alive and will be writing again next week. If I feel like it.
Os amo a todos,

Elder Belyeu

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.

New Responsibilities

Hi, peoples,
I´m sorry I didn´t write on Monday. My p-day was changed without warning to Friday, and then yesterday it was changed again to today. I finally caught up to it, though, so here I am, communicating again.
Last week we had the zone conference in Cartagena, with the two Cartagena zones. President Gaviria and the assistant, Elder Candia, were there. Elder Maughan, from my group in the MTC, was assistant up til last week, but the transfer was close and he left the office after six months assisting. He´s in the area where I started the mission now, zone leader in the zone where I started, and when the other mission (Medellin) opens in a month, he´ll be transferred to the other mission. President Gaviria has recommended him as AP in the new mission.
After the conference in Cartagena, my companion asked the president a question (about a pink tie he wasn´t sure if he could wear) and then we started to leave. The president told me to wait and finished what he was doing, then pulled me off alone to a part of the chapel where there wasn´t anybody and called Elder Candia, too. In moments like this in the mission, one will always think first in the condition of your conscience and then of your family. When he said that Elder Candia had something to tell me, I thought you were all dead.
Turns out that you´re not dead and I´m Elder Candia´s new companion. He went to the house where I was living in Cartagena for the night and we headed out Saturday morning for Barranquilla. We arrived and immediately had to make a lot of last-minute changes in the organization of the mission for the transfer and then the actual transfer. I didn´t sleep much or teach much for the first couple of days, but the rush is over and was pretty fun for a couple of days. I dídn´t think I´d be able to help much for the first few day, but I know the majority of the missionaries and the mission, so I could help a little.
Anyway, that´s my weird week. If I stop writing for a week here or there, don´t worry. The assistants have to travel fairly often on p-day, so that doesn´t mean that something has gone wrong. Elder Candia is a great teacher and will help me to learn a lot, so I´m pretty excited. I have learned the difference between humility and fear of leadership, so this assignment will be a great learning experience.
Love you all and that you may be well.
Elder Belú
One last thing. I´m pretty sure I´m gonna be here for a while, so you can send things if you want. I also have to buy a few things because the norms for APs are a little higher. My old shoes don´t work for conferences.
OK, chao,

Elder Belú

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