Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Christmas Miracle!

December 30th:

Well, just to start off I can't tell you all how great it was to be able to skype with all of you on Christmas! I had been looking forward to that for months and months! I will tell you all though that I enjoyed every minute of it. After I left, it felt like the entire 2 hours or so happened in less than 5 minutes.

Needless to say, I was very sad after that. All of my thoughs were of back home, and of all of you guys.  For the first time in my mission, I didn't have the same drive to do the work like I have had before. Especially with my area being so tough, the day after Christmas couldn't have been harder for me.

My companion and I did what we knew we should though, and got up, studied, then went to work like normal.  We visited a woman who we have been teaching since the day I got here, who's the son of a member of the ward.  She has always told us she can't be baptised because she doesn't want to stop drinking Chicha. It's always the same story when we go there, and she tells us she's not ready.  Until Thursday.  We knocked their door, and she answers.  The first thing she tells us, is she is ready to start over in the new year, and be baptised!! So, with the help of her son, and us, we prepared her completely, and baptised her on Saturday!  MY companion did the ordinance, and I confirmed her on Sunday!

If you don't remember, my area has been the cursing grounds of the mission for a long time.  There has been one baptism here in the previous 5 years, or more. There is no record of any other members being baptised since the early 2000's until now. SO this was a big day in the area for us.  We had many people show up to the baptism, including president, and the new convert, Sinda's family!

Fotos to come after!

So Dad gave me a great idea to bring my journal to internet and write to you all the things I write in my journal. SO here is an interestingSunday, from Novermber 3rd, 2013:

"I just want to kill over dead after what happened this morning.  Last night, 7 told us they would come to church with us and be waiting in the Plaza early, and in the morning, zero were there.  Eli said she couldn't because her mom got there late to the tienda of movies, maribel was still sleeping when we called her, since she worked until 3 am the night before, but she said she would still come. The rest didn't contest the phone. 9 O'clock rolls around and we're still waiting in Cliza. Sacrament meeting is starting. Then 9:30, still waiting.  Finally, Eli gets ready and we leave to Punata in Taxi. While arriving, Maribel calls and says she is waiting in the plaza in Cliza. So we told her to get a trufi to Punata.  We catch 10 minutes of Sacrament meeting, then ran to the parada of trufis 6 blocks away to get Maribel and her daughter and show her to the church.  Meanwhile, my stomach is about to put me into a fetal position.  So we get back to the church a second time and both Eli and Maribel stay for 2nd hour of church, then leave.  We took maribel to the parada again and returned to church a 3rd time, for thiird hour.  I was poope, but we got 2 people to attend church today!"

Elder Potts III
Bolivia Cochabamba Mission

Stuck in Cocha

December 16th

It's been an interesting week here in the mission. The first part of it was spent stranded in the city because of a lack of public transportation, but everything is back to normal, or so they say. There were rumors going around last night that they would go on strike again, but this morning there were trufis to take for us. What is interesting is it's not just Cochabamba, its all of Bolivia. And the most ridiculous part of the whole strike is that it's all over 20 centavos.  That's the equivalent of a few cents.  A couple of maestros in Cocha decided they think the price of a trufi ride should go fron 1,50 to 1,70 bs, and since they are with the government, the whole country jumped on board.  When the president rejected their appeal, they all decided to stop driving, and create blockades in every part of the city with their trufis.  So that left me, and 5 other elders all stranded together in the city last Pday.  We weren't able to get home Until Wednesday.  At one attempt to get home, we got in a trufi not owned by the government who promised to take us to Cliza, but for 40 Bolivianos a person ( that is ridiculously expensive, but we had to get back.)  We got in and dodged our way around blockades in the city and then finally got towards the outskirts of the city and reached the highway.  As soon as we thought we were home free, we hit miles and miles of stopped traffic, and hundreds of people walking back to the city. Realizing there was another blockade ahead, we got out and joind the rest of the people and walked our way back to the city. Finally on Wednesday, we were able to return to our area!
On Friday night, while walking back to the house, we got a phone call from our distric leader.  My companion answered and had a very startled look on his face, as if his blood was going cold. I got nervous too, but didn't lnow what was going on.  After he hung up, he was silent, the finally told me his visa came. He will leave Tomorrow to La Paz to sign some paperwork, and then after he will be gone.  This was sad news for the both of us.  He has been my best companion by far in my mission, and told me many times he doesn't want to go to Venezuela.  We found out on Friday and on Tuesday, 4 days after, he will be gone.  It's even harder for him at this time because it's so close to Christmas, and he won't know anybody when he gets there.  We are both trying to delay his flight to Venezuela until at least after Christmas!
So as you all know, people in my area can hardly ever attent church because of the Feria, or the big market that comes to the area every Sunday.  In order to get baptised, they have to attend church at least 3 times. So this is a huge problem for us.  Luckily, we met a new investigator this past week who works in some sort of government offices in Cliza.  He explained that the only reason the feria is on Sunday is because the city has been assigned that day.  After explaining our situation, he said it's not impossible to get the day changed.  They 2 next closest pueblos, Arani and Punata, have their ferias on tuesday and thursday.  What we would have to do though is creat a petition, and appeal to the local government.  Our arguement wouldn't just be so that we can get investigators to attend church, but so that everyone in Cliza can attend church on Sundays.  It's a long shot, but with our new investigator, it's not impossible.  We are advertising and explaining in our FHE's on Sunday nights, and our English classes on Fridays.  At this rate, the word can get around, and we will see how it progresses!

Elder Potts III
Bolivia Cochabamba Mission

Past Two Weeks

December 9th:

All of you returned missionaries will understand when I tell you about Zone Leaders.  There are ones who are more relaxed, and others who literally walking rule books, Not that that is a bad thing.  Last week, we arrived at internet a little bit late, and internet is only between 10:30 and 12:00 here.  To the zone leaders, that means down to the minute.  I didn't want to send a huge letter mid sentence, so I just saved the stories for this week also.
So remember our investigator Nilda?  She got her test results back for her cancer to see if it is dangerous or not and.... she's going to be just fine! SHe has an operation ina few weeks that she is nervous about, but everything should turn out fine.  We still visit her every day, and loves hearing our messages.
3 Sundays ago I went to the hospital with a stomach infection.  My companion and I both assumed that would be the last trip to the sodpital for a while, but we were wrong.  Remeber the Holiday called Dia de Peaton? Where the prohibit to drive cars for an entire day.  Well, this is especially problematic for us, since we live in a tiny pueblito 20 minutes from the capilla.  The always seems to fall on a Sunday too, just our luck.  The night before, we slept with other elders near the capilla, but we had to find a way back to our area after church.  So, we came up with the idea od asking members of the ward to borrow bikes to go back.  My companion really wanted to go back on bikes, and since that was the only option, we did.  We got 2 bikes and made our journey back.  About 20 minutes into the trip, my companion hit a pot hole, and lost control of his bike.  He skid about 15 feet on the asphault before stopping.  The 2 members with us, and I rushed over to him, but he was having a tough time walking.  We hiked him up to a seat of another bike, and had to walk to bike about 3 kilometers to the local clinic.  Somehow, the clinic was full, and we had to take him to the hospital to get treated.  Luckily, nothing on him is broken, and all his wounds are superficial.  We were able to leave the hospital that night, and he is almost back to being 100% healthy! 

Last night coming home from the Christmas devotional was an absolute fiasco.  As you all know, missionaries normally don't have a ton of on hand cash to throw around. So at night, when there are no trufis to take, we fit as many elders into a taxi as we can.  Last night was no different, and we fit 6 elders into a 4 door taxi, and left.  About 10 minutes into the taxi ride, the taxi broke down.  Apparently the gas pedal disconnected and he couldn't go anymore.  We all got out to start helping him reconnect it, but we had no tools, or really any knowledge to fixing it.  The only thing we could find in the taxi was a piece of string...  And while this was not my idea, the taxista and some elders cooked up a plan to connect the throttle  with the string to make a very ghetto way of driving.  They fed the string from the engine through the hood, and then through the drivers window.  After, we all piled back in and were actually quite suprised at how smooth he was able to drive with the gas pedal on a string!

Miss all you guys! Write me soon!

Elder Potts III
Bolivia Cochabamba Mission