Tuesday, August 27, 2013

"I Read the Mormon Book. I like!"

Hola Familia,

Well, another week here in Bolivia.  I have 2 more weeks until transfers and it's pretty certan that I will change companions, areas, or possibly even both. I'm excited for the changes though.

This past week, we met with one of our recent converts. She told us before she had to talk to us about something, but wouldn't tell us what. When we got to her house, she started to explain that she wants to serve a mission! We were very excited for her. She had many questions about the mission; how to start your papers, what it is like, where she could go, etc. We answered everything she had and will be talking to the bishop to take the next few steps. For me, this not only means that she will stay active, it also means that she will be spreading the gospel to many others also!

This past week we had a Zone Conference.  3 different zones of about 25 missionaries each, so there were right around 75 missonaries there.  During a break, the president's wife asked me if she could share a story I wrote to president. The one about using words that weren't in my vocabulary during a lesson, through the gift of tongues. I told her that was fine, and she proceeded with her talk.  In the middle of her talk, right as she was about to tell the story, she said it would be better if I explained it myself, and asked me to come up and share it.  I think this was the defining moment of my language skills.  One of the hardest things to do is tell a story in depth in another language. I wasn't sure if I would be able to explain everything, but when I got to the pulpit, I was fine. I told the story to everyone in detail, as if I would in English.

There is a woman who attends the english class we finally were able to get an appointment at her house. She really wants to learn english, but when it came to the gospel, she was only halfway interested.  We taught her the restoration, and gave her a book of mormon at her house. It was a pretty normal lesson. Suprisingly, she told us she would read the book of mormon.  We were glad she told us she would read, but we had our doubts.  The next day, we got a text from here saying "I read the Mormon book. I like" I was glad, but I'm still convinced she used Google Translate.  

Elder Potts III
Bolivia Cochabamba Mission

Monday, August 19, 2013

Gringo Burgers, Llamas, and Baptisms!

Well, another week has past with it being difficult to work.  2 weeks ago was the party of the virgin, which was big.  Then we learned that that party was just the pre party. UkupiƱa is the gigantic one, and that closed our area down even worse for 2 days.  No tiendas were open, all restaurants were closed, and the members weren't even in their house.  It was a difficult couple of days, but we got through them.

On Saturday, a group of us went up to the city to get supplies and meat for a cookout that we are doing today for our zone.  We got there and went into a super market, and ran into another american, who started talking to us.  He owns a burger shack, so he helped us with selecting the meat.  We got to talking, and turns out he is a member, and a convert of 6 years!  He moved here because his wife is from Bolivia. instead of travelling by trufi, he agreed to take us back if we went to his burger place to try one of his burgers, and helped him set up. We agreed, and he gave us 2 of his best burgers a person! They were the best food I have had since I got here.

The other day, a member was talking about video games with us, and it got me really confused.  He told me the name of his favorite game was "Llamas Del Infierno." So using the words I knew, this sounded like a weird game.. Lamas of Hell.  He explained how you play and beat the game and all, and I followed up by asking where the lamas were, since that was the title.  I expected it to have some demon lamas in it or something.  They busted out laughing and had to explain to me that the word "llama" can also mean flame, and call. Flame in tis case.  I felt a bit awkward after that.

We have 3 investigators with baptismal dates for September 7th.  We are trying to invite at least one more investigator for the same day. They seem solid, so I think we will be baptising at least 2 of them for sure.
If we do, that will mean I will have baptised every transfer so far. My goal is to baptize at least once per transfer, although this mission is not like a Peruvian mission. All of my friends serving there crank out at least 2 baptisms a month. I have realized it takes perfect obedience, and relying on the holy ghost for the work to progress.  I have felt the blessings of hard work and obediance here in the mission. It really works!

Elder Potts III
Bolivia Cochabamba Mission

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Snow, Temples, and Baptisms!

Well, sorry I didn't write yesterday. But there is a story behind why I wasn't able to go to internet yesterday.

 So this is what happened:  We got a group of 3 zones of elders and sisters (approx. 65 or 70 missionaries) to go on a bit of a trip for Pday.  We left early yesterday morning on 2 large busses to go up into the mountains where it had just snowed. It took about 2 hours to get up there.  It was great and all, and everyone had fun. When we were getting ready to leave, we were missing a group of elders.  We had no idea where they went. We sat waiting literally all day.  It was nearly dark by the time they finally got down.  What had happened was they got up to a part of the mountain with a lot of snow and ice. One elder slipped and sprained/broke his ankle, and then got stuck in about 3 feet of snow. They had to take turns carefully getting him back down the mountain, and that is what took so long, and the busses couldn't leave until everyone was accounted for. So there was no time to write yesterday, or really do anything.

This past week, with all of the fiestas going on, we had the chance to bring some of our investigators to the Temple, since we couldn't work.  This is a special occasion, since you need permission from either the temple president, or the mission president.  One of the elders knows the temple president, so he got us permission to go as a group with some investigators. Everybody had a great time. We even got the temple president to give us all a tour of the temple grounds and to answer all of the investigators questions about the temple and all. He is very knowledgable.  We also had the chance to do some baptisms at the temple with some members. This is also soemthing you need permission for, which we got. It was great also.  While the missionaries can't do baptisms, they can be witnesses and run the names on the camera (which I was able to to). It was interesting seeing the baptisms from a different perspective.

I have gained a testimony of befriending the investigators to build the trust, and allow the spirit to bear witness to them stronger.  This past week, we met with a girl who is about 14 years old.  Her mother is a member, and set up the appointment with her daughter for us.  The first thing she told us was the she does not want to be baptised. Apparently, in Orura, a closeby city, she was taught by missionaries who invited her to baptism on the first lesson, and after 2 minutes of talking to her.  So her perspective of missionaries was that we are rebots who just push people to be baptised.  We quickly explained to her that this was not our purpose at all, and we only want to help her however we can.  It didn't feel right to just jump into a lesson, so we just sat and visited with her, talking about anything and everything.  Eventually we realized that she was confortable, and gave her a short lesson. She invited us back two days later, without us even contacting her.  That was when she was finally ready to hear about the restoration,a nd the spirit was very strong, since we had already built up that trust and friendship.  She now has a baptismal date and is progessing greatly!


Monday, August 5, 2013

Fiestas and "espeaka engrish?!"


Well, this past week has been a great one. I look forward to every single day when I go to bed! (but not the waking up at 6:30 am, that part still sucks).  We have found success with our English classes, and The biggest party inall of Bolivia takes it's home right here in Quillacollo this week. It has already been interesting, and it just started last night!

The English class I teach has attracted many people to the church, and has turned into something bigger than I thought it ever would.  There are some people who let us know they would like to attend the class, but can't make it on tuesday nights, so we suggest teaching them in their house. These are golden opportunities! Its a more relaxed situation for one, and it builds the trust and friendship a lot more than from a class of 10 or 12.  The other missionaries close by have also bandwagoned the idea, and their investigators also attend the classes. Between the members, the other missionary's investigators and ours, we usually have a good turnout.  It does put stress on me to prepare a new english lesson every week, especially with my limited materials.  But it is strengthening my teaching skills tremendously, having to teach in front of so many people.

While we have many investigators, and tons with baptismal dates, they all have some sort of fear or doubt, and there is not much we can do except visit them and help them. I know the baptisms will come, but the wait is agonizing! Especially when you know the investigator is more than prepared for baptism.

This week, the parties begin. But for missionaries here in Bolivia, all that means is us being stuck in the house all week.  So basically this is apparently how it has gone here every year in the past: There are parades on Sunday and Monday (we saw one last night, and one this moning on the way to internet) And then Tuesday there is a huge tradicional dance that everyone prepares all year for. This lasts fromTuesday until Thursday, and during it, nobody works, or even sleeps. Everybody just drinks, and that is why it gets dangerous and we can't leave the house for those days.  Its pretty certain that there will be some sort of violence haha.  I have a few photos that I will send over from one of the parades, and I'll try to get some of the dances for next week!

Elder Potts III
Bolivia Cochabamba Mission