Monday, June 29, 2015

Not quite Colombian...June 29, 2015

What a wonderful week that we had with President and his wife here in Valledupar.  We had interviews with all the missionaries and it was fun to spend some time with each of them individually and listen to hear what our President has to say!  We ate crappy Chinese food with way too much oil two days in a row for lunch (it is President's favorite) and got to review houses with Sister Searle!  She is a real sweet lady but I would never want to be on her bad side!!  She has a lot of tact!!  Makes you feel real dumb when something isn't right haha :)  We also had some meetings with the Stake President (Pte. Varon) so that we can clean up the attitudes of some of the missionaries in their ward councils and how we can work better together!  Besides that we have been scrambling to work in our area.  We had 6 Baptisms a week or two ago but now we have to find new people to replace those who were baptized.. it isn't as easy as it sounds.  We had a zone meeting Saturday where we talked about reaching our potential.  Most of us in the zone are just fine where we are at and with what we are doing but I know we could all be doing much more.  I realized who I am and who I can become by studying a couple talks from our Area Presidency and one from Elder Klebingat,  ¨Approaching the Throne of God with Confidence¨.  It has changed my perspective on what I do.  Sometimes I would love to just go and change things for other missionaries so they see what they are doing and how they can change to work more productively but then I look at myself and my area and find lots of things I can do to improve.  We also worked a little with a member named Alfredo Quintero.  He is a deaf member (we are teaching a couple of deaf people) and so when we teach someone he bears his testimony, we translate, and when one is teaching the other is translating for him so he understands.  I can communicate very basically in sign language which has been pretty fun!!  We had an amazing experience with him giving a blessing!  We had asked him to help us with a sister who didn't feel so good and while I was giving the blessing my companion and I felt him shake and I thought he was having a seizure.  After we asked him what was going on and he told us that he literally felt the power of God while helping us with the blessing!  It was amazing and I took a better look and the tiniest of things I am doing that would keep me from receiving the power that comes with our authority.  Definitely a learning experience that went in the journal!!  Hope you all have the best of weeks.  Love you all!
Love, Elder Slack

Baptisms and babysitting...June 23, 2015

This week was quite the experience!  We started off with some emergency transfers in the mission (here in our zone they closed one area) and moved some elders around.  We did lots of surprise house checkups and it makes me laugh how unorganized and dirty some were.  Glad I'm not their mother, mine would have definitely killed me!  The biggest thing that happened was that we had 6 baptisms!!!  They are named Ever Rodriguez (44 years old), Veronica Lopez (42 years old), Katalina Torres (15 years old), Julian Cortez (15 years old), Danilo Cortez (10 years old), Juliana Acuña (10 years old).  I have felt super good about the baptisms because every single one of them are from part member families!!  Ever was a reference from his girlfriend (who is an active member of the church who has been to the temple) and soon after the first visit had a dream saying that he had to study the Book of Mormon!  Veronica has been listening to the missionaries ever since her sons got baptized a little over a year ago.  Quite the struggle with her but we set a baptismal date and in the interview she finally decided she was ready and nothing was holding her back!  Katalina is a sister of a member. About 4 weeks ago my companions and I went and gave her a blessing for a stomach flu.  The next day, she got up without pains and continued on.  She knew it was true and accepted a baptismal date.  Julian and Danilo are a nephews of Katalina's brother in law.  They have been coming to church for sometime and I was fortunate enough to finish up lessons with them and then watch them be baptized!  I am amazed at how easy it was to baptize these people and it was all through the work of members!!  As I was writing this email, my companion got a call from two Elders in our zone.  They got hit by a motorcycle crossing the street and we got to spend the rest of the night in the clinic with them!  I am amazed at how the Lord blesses us while we are being obedient and I am sure that the accident could have been much worse!  I love you all and hope you are doing excellent!
Love, Elder Slack

Elder Lince, Ever Rodriguez, Elder Slack

?, Ever Rodriguez,?, Veronica Lopez, Katalina Torres, Julian Cortez, ?
 Danilo Cortez, Juliana Cuna,
Elder Slack, Elder Lince


Great learning opportunities...June 15, 2015

What a whirlwind of events and such great learning opportunities!  We started off the week working out a huge problem that was caused when a missionary decided to have a FHE the night before he left and was out until 11:00.  We get a phone call daily about something else he did in his area before he left.  Thank heavens he is in his house now and his stake president can deal with him!  We had a couple meetings with our stake president so that he can help us out as missionaries work better with members and so that they have a little more confidence in us.  This week we were very busy doing surprise checkups on a couple houses and some exchanges.  I do have to say that this week I learned how to control all the stress that was piling up and by the end of the week I just laughed when something new came up because it seemed to never end.  We are the farthest away from the mission home (6 hour bus ride, 1 hour airplane) and 22 missionaries in our zone (biggest in the mission) and it is has been interesting to say the least.. :)  One thing that happened that impacted my experience as a missionary was actually really sad.  We received a phone call from one of the mission counselors saying that one of the District Leaders in our zone (who is young, super obedient, trainer, and about to be a zone leader) had gotten involved with a girl in his ward.  We really didn't believe him and said we would look into it but we were really just shocked.  We are in the same building as them so we asked some of the people in their ward if they have noticed anything between them and not much was said but that we should continue to look into it.  After lunch we went and did a checkup on their house to see if they had really passed notes, given gifts, or called and we found nothing.  They got home and we did an interview with them and they told us everything that was going on before we were able to ask and asked some questions and came to the conclusion that a joke was being played, the missionary didn't have anything to do with the girl, and was a big mistake.  In the night while verifying with my companion, he told him everything.  What had happened was that he was in an exchange and went to the bathroom.  They were left alone in one part of the house and they got talking that they both were cute, had similar interests, etc.  He then asked if she would kiss him and then said no that it was stupid.  He never kissed her but just the thought of him doing it still doesn't make sense.  I have learned that it is really hard to trust in some of these missionaries and that we all make the stupidest little mistakes but they end up being things super hard to finish.   If he would have just told us at the beginning it would have been a whole lot better.  I felt very dumb because we just hadn't done our part to verify what was really going on.  Even worse, we have been slipping with small things like getting to bed at 10:30, or having new investigators.  It is exactly like life.  The more we procrastinate our repentance, (have a true repentance and telling it all in one visit) we will begin to slip farther and farther until it is too late and things turn bad.  Just like Joseph in the Old Testament when presented with sin we should just run away and forget what happened so as not to fall in temptation . I hope you all have a wonderful week, that all of your wildest dreams come true, and the Lord blesses you according to your obedience to his commandments and covenants.
Love, Elder Slack

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Homemade lasagna and chocolate chip cookies...June 9, 2015

This past week was super busy and super inspiring!  We started off the week with transfers.  Being the farthest from the Mission Home, we had to send those being changed off at 2:00 in the morning and were in the terminal until 5:00.  We got permission from President to sleep in a bit.. :).  Then we had a super constructive day until about 7:00 pm when the other missionaries got to Valledupar and we had to go get them.  Wednesday should have been a normal day but we had to run a ton of errands for the zone (starting off with the sisters who lost their keys) and we just kept going and going until 8:00 at night when we were able to rattle off a couple lessons!  Thursday we went to Barranquilla for a leader council with President Searle. It was super awesome and lots of things have changed since Elder Godoy (member of the Seventy) came.  He kinda cleaned up the mission so it runs a little better!  We got to stay in the Mission home and it was huge and gorgeous!!  Sister Searle cooked for us and it was awesome to eat some homemade Lasagna and home baked chocolate chip cookies.  Even though they weren't as good as my mothers, it was still nice to eat something that tasted like home!  Our week ended very well and has just kept going until now!!  I have learned tons from my Companion Elder Lince (from Ecuador) and we are getting along great!  Since Elder Godoy came to the mission, we have been pressed to receive our personal revelation and for those over whom we preside.  It has been interesting as I have pushed myself to listen to the spirit and try to follow all He says.  I can honestly say He really will take over if we give Him the opportunity and we will just go on from there!!  We will only be able to be guided by the Spirit if we are strict in our obedience! Love you all and hope you all have a wonderful week!!
Love, Elder Slack

Staying in Valledupar...June 1, 2015

Another busy week!  This week we had the opportunity to have President here in Valledupar.  He had some interviews and then we had a couple of meetings with his counselors and the Stake President here in Valledupar.  It was super awesome to be able to get to know him and see how he thinks! He is one patient man and definitely has learned how to have attributes of Christ.  We were able to have some exchanges and I was with Elder Carreon who is from Mexico.  He works super well and his area is one of the best in the Zone!  I will be staying here in Valledupar this transfer with Elder Lince from Ecuador.  He was my Zone leader when I first got into the mission and then one of the assistants that I got to verify in Barranquilla and now my companion!!  It was super awesome to be with Elder Miller (from Roy, Utah) for the three crazy weeks but it should be a fun transfer!!  My new area is progressing super fast and we should have a ton of baptisms this transfer!  I have learned more than anything this week to look for the Spirit in my life and be able to block other things out of my mind. It is very difficult here to have a virtuous mind while the weather is so hot close to the beach but I have learned that if I don't watch my thoughts or actions or words, the Spirit won't want to be around me.  I am super excited for this week and even though it will be super crazy (a trip to Barranquilla, transfers, and district meetings) we should be able to work very well and see how things will be going here in Valledupar!!  I love you all and wish you all the best!!
Love, Elder Slack

Playin church ball...May 25, 2015

Wow!  What an amazing week!  Our mission was blessed to have Elder Carlos Godoy from our area presidency and member of the first quorum of the Seventy with us.  We were trained by him Thursday.  We first had a training for the leaders of the mission and he kinda got in our grill saying that we were a wonderful mission as far as numbers go but if we were a soccer team we would always lose because we don't make goals.. We have very little baptisms.  Maybe it is because of where we are and I still say that it is very wicked here (maybe that is why it is so hot because God wants to burn us all out) but idk.  He said it could be because of our focus.  We as leaders are focusing on numbers and not missionaries.  Too many missionaries go home the same as when they came out.  It was awesome to here him say that we are here to prepare us for the future.  I think the vision of some missionaries is very different.  I also loved a phrase that was said by one of the counselors of the mission who said that we aren't to be sons and daughters of God in the mission but to be men and women in the mission.  I think we can say that the maturity level isn't quite up to par.  I loved it and it was a super awesome way to get to know how General Authorities act and what their thought process is!  I have loved the phrase since the MTC that I should always live to be able to be called to be a General Authority so that if ever called upon by the Lord, I am ready and worthy.  I am doing super awesome.  I always laugh at myself because I am a little picky about my hair.. I never seem to get it quite right and the poor lady did a good job but my dad and his wisdom once said, a bad haircut only lasts 2 weeks.  Needless to say, I will be looking forward to two weeks.. :) I love you all and wish you the best!
Love, Elder Slack
P.S. Two weeks ago I was playing basketball and dunked the ball.  First off, I didn't even know I could dunk, and second of all.. bet you can't say that you have broken a backboard.  After I dunked it, I looked at the other Elders as they were all running away from me.  I turned back to see it coming down!  Even though I have to fork out the money it is still worth it to say I broke a backboard. It is practically church ball because I am in the mission right?! :)