Tag Archives: Spanish Language

We Learned a Ton

Well, another week has passed. We have had a great week. We learned a ton.

This is because the week started out bad. We had two rough days, Monday and Tuesday. Tuesday night was the change. My companion said he was going to have faith that the investigators would be in the appointments and that they would keep the commitments and dared me to do the same. From that point on, everything went a lot better. It wasn´t perfect, but we were able to have success that we haven´t had in the month we´ve been here.
The guidance from the Spirit got stronger with our faith and several times this week I´ve felt it. I´ll just share one example. We were in Stake conference, hoping that our best new investigator, a college student named José, would finally arrive after missing church the first two Sundays. We waited and waited and he didn´t show, but I felt like it would be all right, and that he´s show up. Elder Herrick said the same thing, that he felt like it would be okay. Later, halfway through the conference, I felt a small impression that I needed to get up and look outside to see if he was there. I shrugged it off, thinking that as missionaries, we need to be good examples of reverence and that if he was there, he would come in. I really didn´t think it was the Spirit.
When the conference ended, we both felt that he was there, somewhere, and that we just hadn´t seen him yet. we went outside to wait for him in the crowd. As soon as we stepped outside, we saw him seated on a garden bench in front of the chapel. He had arrived in the middle of the conference and didn´t have the courage to enter. He basically arrived in the moment when I felt that I should look.
He didn´t enter and I didn´t follow the guidance, but we learned a whole lot more and our confidence in the Lord grew as well. Next time, we won´t blow it.
Also, an interesting note: There aren´t many Indians here in the coast outside a few small towns, so I´ve never had contact with them, but now we´re teaching an Indian woman. She speaks Spanish pretty well and can even read (a little), but it´s a little tough to understand her culture and vice versa. She attended church yesterday, but it looks like she´s going back to her people for a visit this week (probably for a while, to pick coffee). She wears a long white robe all the time, but I don´t know what her tribe is called. I can´t understand when she tells us what her language is called.
Well, that´s my report. Now to answer Mom’s questions:  the name Valledupar has Dupar in it, which I think is French, but Valle is valley. We are in a valley in the mountains (and that´s why it´s a little cooler than Barranquilla. But just a little). We´re still close to the ocean and there´s a river nearby, so there´s still a lot of fish to eat, but I think it is a little more costly.
I guess that´s all, then, and I´m hungry.
hasty lumbego, entonces,

Elder Belú




Training in Valledupar

Well, I´m now a trainer in Valledupar. My new companion is Elder Herrick, from Wyoming. The Spanish program has improved since I was in the MTC, so his Spanish is pretty good. He´s been in Colombia for five weeks, in the MTC in Bogotá, too, which helps. He´s still learning obviously, but he already understands pretty well.

I haven´t taken any pictures of Valledupar still, but it´s pretty. It´s like the hot version of Provo, with mountains all the way around. The water in the shower every morning comes out cold because it´s melt off from the mountains. That´s great when I´m hot, not as good when I´m not.
We found a person here that the other missionaries left completely ready for baptism. She´s a fifteen year old girl from a part-member inactive family that the other missionaries activated. BTW, one of the missionaries who was here is E. Reyes, who I trained in Cartagena. They left us with a couple of people, although we´re going to have to find a lot more.
I hope you´re all well, then and I´ll be writing in a week.
E. Belú

Pirates of the Caribbean–Tayrona, Colombia

Well, I had to go to Tayrona this week to supervise a group of missionaries in a zone p-day. Elder Ribeiro found the problem with my camera, too, so it works now to send photos home. Tayrona is where they filmed Pirates of the Caribbean, so it´s a pretty nice location. I have a lot of pictures from the outing, but I´ll just send a teaser right now.
I had to talk to another missionary from my group in the other mission to ask for some info they´ve got and he told me that they´re going home the nineteenth of December. I don´t know if that´s true for me, too, but it´s likely to be close. I´ll have very little time, but I think I´ll use that time to chose classes at BYU. I´m still a freshman, so I basically can´t sign up for classes before time, anyway. I´ll just postpone that headache for when I can take painkiller without asking permission. I would like it if you can look at the list of required classes to see if there´s anything I absolutely have to take right away, and if you want to put together a rough draft schedule, that´ll be great. If you sign me up for something I don´t want, I can drop it. I guess that after the work Chris put into it, it´ll be easy to show me how to klep Spanish. I expect I´ll be able to pass at least the most basic levels with just a test. I think I can remember how to say perro.
We started an English/Portuguese class and it generated a lot of interest. I don´t remember how much of my interest in Portuguese I´ve communicated, but now the missionary who motivated my interest in the language is my companion. I´m even thinking about taking a class in Portuguese.  It´s really easy, just like the German version of Spanish.
As for housing, I´m sure that a few people will get married in in Chris’s apartment complex and if not, there´s always other options.
You asked about blood pudding. The things that I don´t want to eat are the same things that the majority of the Colombians don´t eat either. I´ve learned to like cow stomach soup and tongue wasn´t too bad, but they´ve never given me blood pudding.
I´d like to take time to work and rest after the mission, but I can´t find anything about that in the Plan of Salvation. I´m sure that everything will work out, like last time. I feel happier when I have a purpose, and when I´m following the guidance of the prophet. I have officially decided, entonces, that I´ll start school again in January. I just have to learn English again.
That´s the plan, then. Let me know if you need me to do anything, but I guess you´ve already done the hard part.
Anyway, until next time,
Amo voces,
Elder Belyeu

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!

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.

Redheaded kid from Alabama trying to pass as African-Colombian . . .

Hi, peoples,

More time passed and it`s p-day again. Not a lot has happened.We learned some new ways of finding people to teach, but we`re still mainly working on finding.

This week, one of the district leaders called and told us that an investigator had told one of the companionships in the district that he wanted to be baptized. He had basically fallen from the baptismal goal he had, which was this past Saturday, but we decided that if he passed the interview and was prepared, it was okay. We didn`t hear anything else, and I was quite surprised when we verified the zone`s weekly results last night (calling the DLs and passing info) and found out that he`d been baptized. This means that we reached the zone goal for December, 10, but it also means that the investigator was baptized without us knowing, which looks a little bad.

I didn`t know that Neal and Christine were getting sealed, although it seems like you told me something a while back. I`m glad to hear it.

What Mom said about colonial-era African slaves escaping into northern Colombia doesn`t surprise me. There is a region called Chocó close to Cartagena that you can look for, famous for sports and dark skin. I frequently introduce myself as a ¨Chocoano¨. Nobody has believed me still, but I`ll keep trying.

You said my Spanish is so good that I can`t speak English. I not sure it`s a direct correlation. The inability to speak does not imply intelligence, either.

Also, I´m still a few countries short of all Latin America. I have met, and more or less worked with, people from Colombia, Venezuela, Chile, Peru, Argentina, Paraguay, Brazil, Honduras, Guatemala, Bolivia, Aruba, La Republica Dominicana, and I think one Costa Riqueño, although I`m not sure. Maybe a few more I`m forgetting.

I`ll try to send pictures of the washer today. I included my arm to see more or less how big it is. I don´t know if it`s an R2D2, but I think the droid was cooler if so.

One last thing. Can you send the words for a few songs? English and Spanish, if possible. ¨I Heard Him Come,¨ ¨Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing,¨ and ¨With God, Nothing is Impossible.¨

Gracias y hablamos luego,

Os amo,

Elder Belú

Christmas Call

Hey, Everybody,

Jon skyped us yesterday from Colombia. Just like his Mother’s Day call, the call was more challenging than we expected. The first internet shop he tried didn’t have skype, so he had to search for another one. It took about two hours and several missed tries for us to finally get a connection–just as the second (or third?) internet cafe was shutting down for lunch!!

We ate a rushed meal with Dwight’s brother’s family (who invited us to their home for the day and the call), then gathered back around the computer. That’s when we found out that the computer Jon was at only had video, not sound!! He used Colombian sign language to communicate that he was changing computers and within a couple of minutes, we were (finally) able to talk.

The call was completely worth the wait. Jon was very happy, laughing and joking the whole time we talked.

He’s in good health and looks wonderful. He thinks he’s gained a little weight from all the great Colombian food. As a teenager, Jon had some problems with his knee, but he says the arch supports he’s using work beautifully. Though he’s on his feet all day long, his feet, knees, and hips are all strong and completely pain-free. Miraculously for a red-head, he hasn’t even had a sunburn in eight months! (He has some amazing freckles, though! He said he’s been expecting them to grow together to give him a tan, but the freckles just get darker and darker, not bigger across 🙂

Jon’s Spanish is so good, he had real trouble trying to remember English while we talked. He says he works hard to think in Spanish all the time. He’s also learning Portuguese from a Brazilian missionary and some Colombian sign language. He’s worked with people from every country in Latin America and absolutely loves the people and the culture. When he comes home, he wants to study more Portuguese, Italian, and Russian (to talk to his brother, Chris, just home from a Russian-language mission in Ukraine).

We asked about the Colombian washing machines that he rents to do his laundry. He says the delivery man brings them over on his bicycle and picks them back up at the end of the day. Jon promised to send pictures–can’t wait to see what this looks like!

He received his Christmas package the week before Christmas, and everything we sent was still inside. (Some other missionaries in Colombia still haven’t seen packages that were mailed in October or found that some things their families had packed weren’t in the boxes when they arrived–we were very fortunate that we didn’t have any trouble with his presents and candy!)

Jon was especially glad to see all the photos from friends and had it with him when he called. Many of you contributed pictures for his album–thanks so much for helping us send him a bit of home he can carry with him everywhere he goes!!


The Belyeus


Washing clothes in Barranquilla

Hi, peoples,

Well, things keep going. The baptism for this week went through almost without problems and we received an incredible referral who´s going to be baptized this Saturday. We´ve had a dry spell, but now we´re dealing with a lot more water. We´re planning a ¨White Night¨ for this Saturday, with baptisms from a few companionships that don´t have baptismal fonts. We´re hoping for either seven or ten baptisms this Saturday, all from companionships in the district.
Today was great. We found a new guy to bring washing machines, and the washing machines he brought were a whole lot better. We didn´t have a single errand to run, so we had time to wash the clothes, defrost the fridge, and cut hair (which I did for me and Elder Zurita with the little clipper I brought from the states), and the eat Chinese food (which here is just rice with chicken, but it´s pretty good).

Is Chris watching movies in Russian? It´s one of my favorite ideas for keeping my language after the mission.

Anyway, I find that there´s really now much to say. Entonces, Chau.
Elder Belú

Temple Announced for Barranquilla, Colombia


This week a few things have happened. The new district leader in my district is a gringo, with a lot of time in the mission, the oldest group of gringos that we have in the coast. It´s weird having a gringo in the house, especially one who is Colombian, now.
There´s one area in the coast where gringos haven´t been able to go for a while, because it was dangerous. Now it´s completely open again, with whichever missionary.
And the temple. I haven´t been in the mission for very long, but like all the others I’ve worked, taught, and prayed to have a temple here.
It´ll be in the area where I´m working now, although I doubt it´ll be finished for years (3 to 5, is the hope). I´ll just have to come back. My comp cried, I cried, I think everybody cried. Several people cheered in conference.
Regarding the retention of converts, it´s not perfect, but it´s improving. I´ve met several people who were baptised fifteen or twenty years ago and haven´t been to church in fourteen or nineteen years, but there are more requirements for baptism now (minimum number of attendances at church, for example).
I don´t have much time to write. We spent a huge amount of time today working on a report for the stake. We have to improve in work with the members.
It´s getting harder and harder to write in English. I think I´ll start writing you all in Spanish, solo porque ajuh (como dicen los costeños).
Well, that´s all I can think of. I love you all and hope all is well.
Elder Belú

I Like to Eat Eat Eat Apples and Bananas. . .

Hi, people,
This week has actually been different. We went to Barranquilla on Wednesday and had a multi-zone conference with the Area President, Elder Nash (a gringo from Ohio). He talked about a lot of things, for example the need to commit investigators. It was powerful.

We had plans to have a baptism this week, but he wasn´t ready. I feel kind of bad, because we didn´t prepare him very well, but we couldn’t have known about some of his problems (and he´s tough to find). Those are great excuses, I think.

Following the advice we received from Elder Nash, we committed a sister who´s been attending church for a couple of months to be baptized. It´s tough to change people when they haven´t accepted a date for a long time, but she listened.

It´s been a good week in setting dates for baptisms, but pretty bad in all the numbers we report.

Sounds like Mom’s school is going well.  I read some stuff about bugs you wrote, but it doesn´t make sense. How fun. I´ll share the data about people-eating parasites with my comp, he´ll love it.

Grandpa sent me a letter about a trip to Argentina. I look forward to traveling a little after the mission, too. The world opens up when you leave the States and learn a language. I´d feel comfortable in a lot of countries, now.

We had a successful English class this week for the first time, with about forty people, including several investigators and a few new people. We taught the bishop to sing ¨I like to eat eat eat apples and bananas¨ to practice the sounds and now he´s doing it so much that his wife´s going nuts. That´s success.

In church yesterday we had twelve investigators and a few nonmembers who don´t count because they´re not progressing or haven´t talked to us. We usually have six or eight.

One of the people who was supposed to give a talk didn´t show, so during one talk the bishop had a gopher fetch me from my seat, assigned me a topic, we sang a rest hymn, and I talked. That´s never happened to me before, but it was really easy. I went over time, about ten minutes. We study the gospel with the goal of teaching so much that when the chance comes to teach, we can teach. It works.

A counselor in the bishopric referred to my talk afterward, as the talk of Elder Behú, my companion being Elder Jen.

Anyhow, that´s my week. It´s always good to read about what´s going on at home, so keep writing.

Elder Behú