Monday, July 29, 2013

Transfers, Dogs, and El Espiritu Santo

Well, to start off, transfer information came in last night.  Everyone in the house was waiting up until after 11 to receive a phone call of the changes. It is always nerver racking on these days, since you never know what's going to happen.  The President told me 2 things before, during an interview: 1, that my companion and I would be separated. 2, that I would likely be the one leaving the area.  The call came in from the district leader and... well, neither of those 2 things turned out to be true. The only change that is happening in our entire district is my companion has been called as the district leader, and we will be together at least one more change. Sort of anticlimactic but I can live with it. We are starting to get a lot of work done, and this past week we found more new investigators, and taught more lessons than any other week before.
Dogs were seriously swarming the streets up until about a week ago. Sometimes I could see more dogs than people in the streets, and it was starting to get ridiculous.  About every 2 days there is usually a huge dog fight, and many of the street dogs have missing ears and chunks missing from them because of past fights.  A few weeks ago, all of the people who own dogs started putting these collars on their dogs. Well, they're really just neon colored cloth strips. I didn't understand why at first, and then a member explained ti to me. At least once a year, all policeman and government workers take a few days and all become dog catchers.  They do a good job to, since there are so many of them.   All the dogs that don't have the collars get picked up, and are put down.  Now, thank goodness, the streets are nearly empty! I harly ever see any stray dogs in the streets anymore.  Good news for people who walk the streets all day every day.
There is a family of less actives that agreed to have us over for a family home evening this past week. Every time before that we asked to visit them, they always had an excuse and said they were too busy, but finally they agreed.  We told them that we would have a lesson and a game form them, and we would have it at their house.  We brought a dvd over for them of mormon messages, since the grandparents can't read, and they have small children, so the video seemed like the best option for them. We watched one on having the holy ghost, or espiritu santo.  Just to give a bit of background, I have learned a lot of spanish. But I am not to the point to where I can say every single detail as I would in English. After the video, I was teaching and using words that weren't in my Spanish vocabulary. It was direct, and the spirit was there the entire time. After, my companion asked me what happened in their house, and I couln't even explain it. The next lesson we taught, my spanish was normal again.  These types of experiences make it clear to me that it isn't just me who is teaching, its the holy ghost.
Elder Potts III
P.S. there is a new mailing system here for the church. It is more secure, and faster, as all of the packages get here in about 3 weeks now. I just thought I'd let you all know ;) 

Monday, July 22, 2013

PB&j, French Toast, and References


One more week until transfers, and I am still unsure of who will be transferred out.  My companion has more time here, but the president told me I'd likely be leaving. According to other missionaries though,
the president has told them the same thing and they ended up staying.

There are some american foods here that are just unheard of. Some that you would think to be common everywhere. I have had random cravings for these foods, so I decided to make some of them.  The first thing I
had to find here, which was nearly impossible was peanut butter, to make PB&J.  I found a supermarket that carries this crappy kind of PB, and fed it to some members and the missionaries in the area.  They
were instantly hooked!  If the peanutbutter wasn't so expensive, Iwould make it all the time. But its about 7 dollars for a small jar of it, so we can't have it whenever.  The other morning, I also found ina local shop some slice bread. Completely unheard of here, and the other gringo's were suprised that I found it in Vinto, since nothing is here.  I used the bread to make some breakfast for everyone: french
toast.  They couldn't wrap their mind around dipping bread in raw eggs, but they also liked this food also.  I couldn't find powdered sugar, but I just used regular sugar wth a bit of water, and it turned
out decent.  They were less excited about the french toast though, even though for me, it was the greatest.

The biggest market in the southern half of south america is located right here in Cochabamba.  Mom, dad and anyone else who is coming down here in 2 years, this is one places we will definitely go.  They call
it The Cancha, and I still haven't seen every part of it, and I have been there probably 4 times.  Each section is divided up into the things they sell: There is a part for electronics, suveniors, clothes, shoes, food, sports stores, everything.  And everything is cheaper than dirt!  I am pretty sure it streches in each dirction at least 2
miles.  There are always so many people, you can't walk at all, but if you ever need anything. Anything at all, it can be found in the cancha, usually for under a dollar.

My companion and I have discovered an amazing way to find good solid investigators.  President Hinkley said that every new convert needs a testimony, a calling, and a friend.  The problem with investogators
you find from knocking doors is its very hard to retain them, since they don't have a connection to the church, like a friend.  Each day, we visit at least one family in the ward and set of a type of home evening with them, but for any day of the week. We tell them we will provide the lesson and a game of sorts, if the family can bring a
friend to it.  This has worked with 3 families so far, and has produced solid investigators for us.  They already have friends in the church, and are able to hear about the church from another perspective, not just a missionaries.

Tell me about any news from the states, if there's anything going on!

Elder Potts

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Donkeys and Pigs!

Before we went on the hike, the family that was our tour guide had a donkey! I was able to sit on it for a little bit before we left.

 This is my companion..... sitting on a fat pig hahaha

These are the new scripture cases I got.  The smaller one is made of Boa Constrictor, and the larger one is made of tiger skin!  I haven't even seen these available here to buy, but I was able to get them from an RM in my ward who served in Peru.  Nobody else has these!

Hiking, Building, and High Fiving!

Sorry this letter is a bit later than normal.  We hiked about 7 kilometers, over 3 mountains this morning, to find some ruins that didn't turn out to be much. It took longer than normal, and we didn't have time to write in the morning as a zone, like normal.  The hike was very fun though, and I have many pictures that I will send in the other thread.
So, every single person I have met here in my area has built their own house.  And they all believe the house will not last unless you build it out of brick.  Because of this, every building, house, tienda, everything, is made of brick, and it ugly as can be.  There is a family in the area that has helped us a lot, and asked for us to help add on to their house.  The house is on the top of a mountain, and though we have little brick house building experience, we told them we would help.  We also recruited some of the other members of the ward, and the youth to help, and we finished with more than half of the add-on in one day.  They were extremely pleased at all the people who came to help, and it was also a good experience. I never knew how tough laying bricks correctly could be, but I do now.  At one point, one of the other elders knocked down a large chunkof the wall, which put us back some time.  The family fed us twice though, and had all of this nasty maize water we wanted to sip on. Everyone ended up gaining from the experience of this service project.
This past week we had interviews with the president.  They wen't very well, and I learned a lot about what will be happening in the near future.  He told me that because my companion and I had proven ourselves and had success, he was going to have to split us this next transfer, which is in two weeks.  This isn't normal here in the mission to split after 2 transfers. Usually you have 3 transfers together while training.  Another thing he told me was that I would likely be leaving the area, even though De Horta has been here for longer.  He didn't explain it, but I know its for a good reason.  One of the last things he said to me was that it wasn't certain, but he would like me to train either this next transfer, or the one after.  This was a huge shocker to me, as I still have 2 weeks left in training, but if this is what the Lord wants, then of course I will accept.

We have one investigator that we have visited probably more than half a dozen times, but has not seemed to progress much.  She was always willing to let us in (only with her friend, who is also a member present) and hear our message, but that was it.  This last week when we visited her, we started out asking how we could help, as usual.  She never had anything that she needed from us, or at least that she told us, until now.  We could tell something wasn't right, and she eventually told us.  She is going through a divorce, and is having a very hard time with it, as its not her decision.  When she told us this, she broke down in tears.  We told her we would do anything to help her, and she asked us just to visit her more often.  We agreed to do this, and also invited her to church, which we had done before but she had yet to attend.  To our suprise, she came to church! Along with her 2 kids also!  When we visited her later that day, the spirit was stonger than I have ever felt it.  She is now reading the book of mormon, and is praying daily.  When we left the house, my companion and I hi five'd and said "We're gonna baptize a family!!"
Elder Potts

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Apartment Hunting and Teaching!


Well, another week has gone by without me hardly realizing it.  This week has consisted of more house searching, the temple, and a brand new elder in our house.  Its been a good one!

This past week, I had the chance to go to the temple! (por fin!) The Cochabamba Temple is a good sized temple too.  Bigger than the Atlanta and Lima temple, that is.  It was a temple trip for the whole mission, so I was able to see all of my missionary buddies from the mtc and in other areas.  My camera is broken, but I will try to borrow my comps card to send some temple pictures!

This past week, we received a new Elder in our house.  His name is Elder Supayabe, and he from Santa Cruz.  When he came into the house for the first time, we all noticed tht he only have one tiny suitcase with him.  After getting to know him a little better, we all found out that his family is not very wealthy. at all.  They paid 100 bolivianos for his whole mission, because thats all they could give.  Thats only about 14 us dollars.  After talking to the other elders, we found out he's only got 4 white shirts, 2 pairs of pants, and one pair of shoes. yikes.  We are all in the process of putting together a bunch of stuff for him though.  My companion is giving him another pair of shoes, and I thankfully kept some of the shirts I brought in the package.  He also didn't have a suit jacket, and missionaries always have to wear the jacket to church.  When I asked him, he said he didn't have one, but was going to buy one soon.  So remember the pants I have that ripped?  Those were the pants to my other suit, and I wasn't going to use the jacket until I fixed the pants again or bought new ones.  I ended up just giving him the jacket though.  He's a great missionary though, and is so appreciative for everything he's got.

The members hardly ever have any references for us.  There has been one reference given to us from the ward since I got here... 2 months ago.  So anyways, I have figured out a way to teach more people!  Since we are currently looking for a house, we have to knock doors anyways.  We find houses that have a sign saying 'cuartos en alquiler', and knock.  For missionaries here, its very hard to find an apartment because we have to find one that has a private bathroom.  This means that most doors we knock to find a house, we can't live in.  Thats when we just talk to them.  About anything and everything, then lead into who we are, missionaries, and eventually teach them the first lesson, and take out an appointment.  This has actually worked really well!  I think one of the reasons is because many of the people with rooms for rent are family people.  Moms and dads trying to rent out the extra space in their house or building.  We usually relate our message to families, and then ask when we can return again.  This has lead us to 3 great new investigators that love having us over.

Elder Potts

So this is how they wrap up their babies in Bolivia. As tight as they possibly can.  They think it gets rid of the 'chulista slouch' that everyone gets here when they get old. And they think it makes you taller hahaha

Monday, July 1, 2013

Investigators, Rodents, and a Sheep!


This past week, I hit the 3 month mark! I still feel like I left the states liek last week, so time really is flying by.  One bit of sad news: My camera is busted. It got slammed in the door of a Trufi, and no longer works.  So I will have to wait until I can get a new one to send any pictures.

One random side note, this morning on the trufi ride up to Quillaquollo, a guy got on and sat in front of me holding a baby lamb! It was all black, and about the size of Puppy! It kept making the typical BAAA sound, and everyone on the trufi was laughing. I wish I could own one haha. There are so many animals here!

We are currently in the proccess of finding a new apartment.  One of the mission rules is each elder has to live in their own area.  Since the ward has 4 elders, the other elders live in our area in our same apartment.  Because of this, they are in the process of finding an apartment, and so are we.  I think we have found one, but it is not certain yet.  This is just a bit of whats going on with our week.

The missionary work has been very tough this week.  We have many investigators, but none of them want to commit to anything, won't read, and have not come to church.  This is one of the toughest things for me because we can't just do it for them.  Yes, we can read with them, and we can visit them before church to see if they will come, but we can't do it for them.  No matter what, they still have their agency, and if they don't really want it in their hearts, it won't happen.  Hopefully with time, we will be able to figure out how to help them, so they can make it to baptism.  Right now, we are doing our best but not having much success with them.  Occasionally I think about the other areas of the world, and realize that the people here are very soft hearted overall, and very willing to listen to what we have to say. And for this, I feel blessed to be here.

We do have one progressing investigator.  He is a 9 year old who we are teaching, and man is it different teaching a kid than it is teaching teenagers or adults.  The problem with kids is they have the attention span of a rodent.  We can hardly get though one topic of a lesson before he is spazzing out again and running all over the house. Because of this, each lesson takes more time, and more visits, but he is retaining the information, and wants to be baptized.  He likes it when we come over though also, and shows us all of his toys and stuff.  His baptism will be this month, probably more toward the end of the month.  Us teaching him also means we can visit the family often, which is good because they are just starting to come back to church again after a 10 year hiatus!

There is one family of less actives that we have visited also every week since I have been in the area, but would never come to church.  About 2 weeks ago, one of the daughters of the family, who is 20 years old, move back with the family from La Paz. She was studying there, but is finished for the semester.  The daughter is very active, and wants to serve a mission.  This is a huge blessing for the family.  The first week she was here, she brought her older sister, who has been less active for the better part of a year.  This last Sunday, her older sister came again, and also her younger brother.  Slowly but surely, they are beginning to come back to church.  We visit them every saturday in the evening and invite them to church.  Now, not everyone has come back to church, but the daughter, Maria, is very good about fetching all the members of the family when we come to visit them, to share a quick message and invite them to church the next day.  With time, I think they will all return to church again.  The spirit is always strong when we visit them, and even the family members who havent been to church in months end up a bit emotional.  

Hopefully by next week we will have found a new place to live, so we can spend more time on the work here.  I hope everyone has a good week! And if you haven't emailed me in a while I'd love to hear from you!

Èlder Potts