Monday, May 27, 2013

This Week in Bolivia


This week has been more of a normal one for me, but my spanish is developing more, and we have found new investigators.  Today marks 2 months for me in the mission! Not that anyone is counting though.

So last sunday, there was a girl who came to church that nobody seemed to know.  She is a youth, and about 16 years old.  She spoke to her teacher in Sunday school, and said she wants to be baptised.  The teacher found us, and we began to talk to her.  All on her own, she told us that she wants to have the lessons by the missionaries, and then to be baptised.  This of course, was a huge blessing for us.  On Tuesday, she attended a youth activity at the bishops home.  We met her there, and went to her home, which is about a 20 minute Truffi ride towards the mountains.  When we got there we met her family, and did not think much of it, but the mother seemed a bit uncomfortable.  We sat and began to meet with her, and the mother sat in on the lesson.  Eventually, my companion asked the mother if she had something to say.  She eventually told us that her and her husband are members. Not only that, but they have been inactive for 10 years.  What is even stranger is that before becoming inactive, she was the releif society president, and the husband was the ward mission leader.  We couldn't figure out why they went inactive, but were very welcoming to us coming and teacher their daughter, and visiting with them.  The name of this family is the Ramos family, and they have been inactive for so long, that only one family in the entire ward even knows about them.  It has even been over 5 years since missionaries have been to their home. We visited them twice this week, and invited them to church, but this is something they have as a goal, but no date yet.  They also have another son, who is 9, who wants to be baptised, so we will teach him also.

Other than meeting this family, we also have 2 younger girls, about 10, who we are teaching also. They are references from the ward.  Without references here, the work is very hard.  The university is in the heart of the city, and pretty much every one we talk to is an aventist. When tracting, it honestly feels like I am an Adventist or Jehovas witness missionary trying to teach Mormons in Provo.  The ward has been very dilligent in providing some references though.

Until next week,

Elder Potts

Monday, May 20, 2013

Intercambias en Sipe Sipe


This week was my second week here in Bolivia, and I had the chance to go on exchanges with another Elder in a city called Sipe Sipe.  

A little bit about Sipe Sipe: It's a small town about 30 minutes south of Vinto and Quillacollo.  Its up in the mountains and is very cold, especially at night.  I was there for a total of about 24 hours.  NOw, if you can imagine this, the town looks like downtown Kennesaw or something, but in 50 years with no rennovation.  All of them buildings look like they are from the 50s, and there are piles of dust and debris literally everywhere. Basically all of the people there dress traditionally, with the skirts and all.

So While I was there, I was on exchanges with an Elder named Elder Rodriguez   He is also from Colombia, and is a convert of 3 years.  He is 25 years old, and is the hardest worker I have met yet.

In Sipe Sipe, we had the chance to teach a few lessons.  Our first lesson was with an elderly couple, who's daughter was a recent convert, and she was about 14 years old. These parents mainly spoke Quechua, but they could understand and speak Spanish also.  We taught them the first lesson, about the restoration.  They claimed they were Catholic, but knew nothing about the church, and had not been in decades.  They seemed very receptive though, and enjoyed our lesson.  Afterwards, my companion asked them if they would like a copy of the Book of Mormon and the pamphlet.  They told us they could not read.  He asked if they would like one in Quechua, and they told us they also could not read Quechua either.  We did not have the DVD player, but left them with some pamphlets so that the newly converted daughter could read to them at nights, and she gladly accepted.  This was a very different experience for me because I have always assumed everyone could read, at least a little bit.

This past Saturday, we also had the opportunity to give service to a young couple from the ward.  They are both in their early 20's and have one kid.  The Hermano from the ward had been given a very old, non working car. I believe it is either from the 80s or early 90's, and is a Volkswagon Brasilia.  This is the only car the family has, and it had massive holes in the floorboards from corrosion and rust, to where the seats no longer were in the car.  My companion, Elder De Horta, worked a lot with metals and welding before the mission, so he was able to repair the floor.  SInce I have worked on brakes a few times, I was able to put some newer brake pads on them, and we both helped install new window rolling mechanisms for the windows.  It was a pretty good experience.

Other than that, this week has been pretty normal.  We have our first baptism this upcoming Saturday, so that shgould be a good experience.  My spanish has gotten a lot better in the past week or so, to the point where I can hold a conversation with almost anyone about most things, especially the gospel.

Elder Potts

Sunday, May 12, 2013

First Area: Quillacollo, Bolivia


I arrived here in Bolivia on Sunday, and every day has been so busy.  We flew out from Lima, to La Paz, to Santa Cruz, and then finally to Cocha.  My layover was in Santa Cruz, so that was where I called from.  When we landed in Cocha,  the president was there, along with his wife, all the secritaries, and the ap.  From the airport, all we had was an astrovan that looked like it was from the 80s.  There were about 18 missionaries, so we packed all of us into the van; missionary, on top of luggage on top of missionary.  It was so cram packed, but fun.  We went for the night to a hotel in Cochabamba.  The building was clearly built at least 50 years ago, and hadn't been changed since.  the roof was so old, it had falled through and they build a tin roof over it.  It was late when we got there, but we ate pizza that was about 3 feet across.  They topped it with the strangest things also. It had corn, uncut mushroms, and even peaches on it.  My room had 4 guys in it, all gringos from my district, and it was our last night togeher.

The next day, we walked to a church building.  Downtown Cocha is very poor, but it rains a lot, so the area seemed pretty clean.  When we got to the building, we got another picture with president, interviews, and got our new companions and areas.  They called my name, and my new companion's name is Elder De Hornto!  He is as black as they come, and he is from Colombia.  He is also a convert of 3 years, and I am the 3rd person he has trained.  He loves playing soccer and is very good at dancing.  He does not speak a single word in english, so the past 2 days have been interesting.  We received our assignment, which is Quillacollo, and the name of our barrio is Vinto #2.

Quillacollo is a small town about an hour outside of Cochabamba, and is very poor.  You can tell all of the roads were once paved, but probably not for the past 20 or 30 years.  There are dogs everywhere, and a ton of native old ladies.  They wear these dresses that go to their feet, they all have their funny looking hats, and a piece of fablic slung over their shoulder, usually holding a baby or other stuff.

Getting from Cocha to Quillacollo was incredibly difficult.  We took a taxi from the hotel, and started our journey.  There were 4 of us, and one elder was from the US, so he told me a little bit of what has been going on recently with the government.  There have been protests a lot recently because of their president.  They are never violent, but they just like to block major roads.  That is why the other elders were late getting there that morning.  Anyways, about 20 minutes in, we reach a big road, and there is another blockade in the road.  The taxi turned around, and tried to find another road to take.  When we got to the alternate route, it was blocked also.  The taxi told us he cannot get us to the area, and made us get out.  He told us we have to cross the blockade on foot, and then try and catch another taxi on the other side.  I had all of my luggage with me, so this wasn't easy.  There were crowds of people, rocks, trees, debris, and flames all in the road, but the people were not violent.  when we got to the actual road block, we had to throw all of my stuff over.  It was about 3 feet high.  I got my 2 suitcases over, and then started to climb over.  Right then, my suit pants split in the crotch, from the zipper all the way to the back belt loop.  I didnt have my suit coat, but the other new latino elder gave me his to put around my waist.  Finally we reached the other side, and were able to get a new taxi.  It took another 30 minutes or so from there to get to our apartment, but we made it. 

The apartment I am in has 2 sets of companions, 4 elders total.  I am the olny one who speaks english, but I can usually get my point across for the most part.  We live on the second floor of a building.  The bottom floor has a quickie mart, and some other shops.  Right now I am at the internet cafe about a block away.  The winter here is just starting, and the elevation is pretty high, so it is pretty cold.  This morning it was about 38 degrees, but it has warmed up.

I will be able to talk to you guys again on Sunday! I am out of time, but I miss everyone.  I should have more time to talk on Mothers day!

Elder Potts