Thursday, April 7, 2016

A Proclamation Family...December 28, 2015

I find it very hard to believe that Christmas has come and gone and I only have one more skyping time with my family!  New Years is this week (which means another hopping party and hardly any work here) and a new year.  I had plenty of time to do some thinking this week and ponder on the many miracles I have seen in my life (due to a fabulous Mission Party thrown by Sister Searle) and the time I have been priveledged with in the mission.  Here is what I came up with:
My family and the example of my parents (especially my dad).  On the 24th we saw 4 young men (when I say young, I mean about 12 or 11) walking in the street with beer bottles and saying very foul things.  I am grateful for the traditions my parents have given me.  We ate dinner at a less active family's house and their father wants nothing to do with the church.  I was surprised he ate with us.  I am truly grateful that my family is a "Proclamation" family!  I got an email from a lady in our ward who's son just got diagnosed with Diabetes (he is also one of the coolest special needs kids I know) and she was so grateful for the Christlike love my Dad has for him visiting him in the hospital! Thanks very much dad for your preisthood example.  After skyping, everyone commented on how beautiful my mother is!  I guess that means my Dad worked pretty hard on his mission right??;) 
My mission has really been a great miracle in my eyes!  I really still see myself as an 18 year old high school grad and the difference after the mission might be big but it is all due to the little things I have. I know the scriptures are real and I have come to love them.  I know that the preisthood power has been restored and through that power we can recieve many wonderful blessings.  I even have come to realize how insignificant I am compared to the wonders our Father in Heaven makes.  But through my obedience and hard work I can do wonders. 
It has been a wonderful experience to be training a zone leader and I just found out I will be training another one here in Soledad 2000.  I am grateful for another opprtuinity to be able to improve and accomplish even more this coming transfer.  All the blessings we recieve come through our obedience and hard work!  Hope you all have a very happy New Year!!
Elder Slack

Christmas is here!...December 21, 2015

Well, Christmas is here and things are buzzing in Colombia!  It is incredible to think that this is my second Christmas out of the house (and last might I add).  I feel so old! 
This past week was a success.  We thought we would have the whole week to be able to work care free and stack in lessons with people we are teaching.  Funny how things do a 360 on ya. Nevertheless, it was a great week.  We are still working in "La Central" (our areas red zone) and it is a huge success!  We are staying until about 7:30 in the afternoon and thinking about adding another day into the schedule to visit.  People are progressing there and the bishop and his family are super stoked to have us working there.  We found out that it is the first time in more than 12 years that missionaries have stepped foot in the neighborhood and the bishop has asked permission that we start a group there (because it is about 15 minutes away in a thing they call "motocarro".  It is the golf cart looking thing you would see in India.  So we are working on that!  Things that my Patriarchal Blessing says are really coming to life and it is incredible to see it happening.  All truly becasue we strive to be super obedient! 
Today we got to watch "Brave" as a zone activity and what a great movie it is!  I am so grateful for the fact that I loved watching movies with my baby brother (although he isn't much of a baby anymore) because I had it just about memorized!  Movies in spanish just aren't as good as they are in English!  I guess that as a missionary I have been able to key in on things that have helped me personally grow.  I loved one of the last phrases that the movie says, "Our Destiny is in each one of us.  We just have to be Brave and find it!".  I know that God loves us and as His children He expects us to become like Him and reach our eternal potential.  Alma 34:32 is really clear that this life is when we need to reach it.  He goes on to explain that it is through repentance that we will reach that potential.  I know Jesus was born and lived a perfect life.  A life that we should try to live.  I know that He died for each and every one of us to make it possible to live such a life.  I love my Savior and even though I am very far from home this holiday season, I know and have come to know the true meaning of happiness.  It comes through the Atonement of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  I hope that through Him, we will all be brave and reach our eternal destiny!
Best of holiday wishes and lots of love from Colombia!
Elder Slack

What would Jesus do?...Dember 14, 2015

This past week we had the awesome opportunity to have interviews!  This one was different from the rest!  We were able to watch a video of one of the new mission president's seminars where two RM`s gave a 5 minute lesson on the Restoration to Elder Cook and his wife.  I do have to say that it touched many hearts and I was able to truly feel the spirit.  It was incredible to realize that many times while teaching someone I fall into a routine while teaching and the words I share don't really have much meaning.  We were able to apply it in our week (which didn't consist of much work) and we had lots of success!
It was also a great week because we were able to listen to Elder Camargo of the Seventy (area seventy) and he taught us a lot about listening to the spirit!  They announced the Groundbreaking ceremony for the Barranquilla Temple (it will be the 20th of February) and everyone has been super stoked for that!  Elder Camargo talked a lot about obedience and the ability to have more spiritual experiences.  It was awesome because I was able to reflect on my time as a missionary and be able to think back on the wonderful spritual experiences that God has blessed me with.  As I continue to listen to the Spirit and do what he says I will be more apt to his presence in my life and be able to listen to him even more! 
Today I also printed off a super cool talk on thought process (a BYU devotional speech) (don't remember who gave it) and I have a super cool challenge for all of us to do.  It is the "What would Jesus do?" challenge.  In his talk he challanged all of us to ask this simple question before acting or making a decision.  I can honestly say that it is quite hard.  I already lost today to a taxi driver who didn't take us all the way home and wanted to charge us more.  It is hard but I know that as I am able to do it my thoughts will be centered in Jesus and I will be able to feel the influence in my life.  I love you all and hope you all have a wonderful week!
Love, Elder Slack

The Red Zone...December 7, 2015

Another one bights the dust!  Last week my mom asked me if time was going by fast or slow.  I replied, days go by like weeks but I get to the computer and have a difficult time rembering what really happened during the week becuase it went by so super fast!  This past week was what I would call a zone week... we had a couple problems with the missionaries so Elder Muñoz and I got to spend some time babysitting... not one of favorite things to do but it had to be done. 
We did two exchanges (one that is called a shadow exchange and then one Sunday with the same companionship becuase of problems they were having) and then one of the houses in our zone ended up getting broken into (and it just happens to be the Elders farthest away from our area) and so we got to go to Santo Tomas (which is my favorite little town ever) and fix some doors.  I just love spending an hour (there and back) in a bus standing up while children cry and women breast feed their babies in wide open like nobody cares.... it is just wonderful... even in the chapel... love my life! Im sure i will look back one day and just laugh at some of these things...
This week was super awesome because we visited for the first time with a less active named Shirley Paola Contreras.  She went inactive about ten years ago for work or studies (things she thought were more important) and decided 2 weeks ago to come back.  She took her two sons (Javier,13 and Carlos, 11) It has been super interesting because they have no idea who God is and why they are here even less who they are.  I learned a little more about the importance of teaching my future family gospel principles in the home.  Combined with the new confernce we have been watching that the General Authorities had about the Sabbath Day it seemed like a good one two jaw breaker telling me to not screw up in the future... :)  I am gonna need all the help I can get Mother... and you always told me you would just laugh when I called asking for advice. 
Even though maybe I am not seeing a huge amount of success in my area it is progressing and easing into a different stage of work.  We opened a "Red Zone" this week (I would never have gone without being a missionary, someone from the hood in Detriot would wet their pants) but it was super awesome and met some wonderful people!  The gospel truly changes peoples lives! (don't worry Mom we were outta there before 7!) 
Love you and hope you can all lose yourselves in service this holiday season!
Love, Elder Slack

The trouble with pass-along cards...November 30, 2015

What a terrible week!  I do not feel bad for a single missionary serving in the states.  Mostly just because they all got to eat mashed potatoes, turkey, pies, and lots of sliding the belt loop!  
With Thanksgiving behind us and Christmas rapidly aproaching we keep doing the same things.  haha  Truth is, we had a wonderful week with lots of learning experiences (I say learning experiences because our week really did go by pretty badly:). 
A while back while riding in a crowded bus I started to talking to everyone with pass-along cards. Many times in my mission they have gotten me into presentations in colleges, Catholic churches to speak with preists, etc.  But this one was something else  I had spoken with a man who worked for the 4Life company out of Utah.  He called me last week as I was writing the fam and asked if we would be interested in a marketing conference to present something from the church.  I called President Searle and he said of course and so we went!  The owner of 4Life is a mission president (for the second time) in Brazil right now and so we went and took a case of Books of Mormon.  Let's just say that an hour and a half later we didn't present anything and left the Books of  Mormon with the goody bags they were giving away.  We wasted quite a bit of time but a learning experience not to get myself into everything that sounds neat! 
Wednesday we had Leader Council and I got to see some good friends and be inspired by our President!  I always love hearing him and his advice on how to become who our Father in Heaven wants us to be.  Thursday and Friday we had exchanges with some of the missionaries in our zone and I got to go to the smaller towns (which I love because nobody knows who the Mormons are and we can talk with the whole world and they love the message). 
Saturday we had a zone meeting and our stake president came and talked to us!  He talked about the Preisthood Keys in Missionary Work and it was super awesome!  I left the meeting ready to conquer the world because we had planned a movie night in our neighborhood.  We were going to watch "Meet the Mormons" with a neighbor's projector on a wall in front of our house.  Working just failed that day and nobody was home so we head home pumped for the movie and we got home and neighbor was leaving to go to a party.... typical... She had bailed on the movie night!  Needless to say we went and had a super awesome lesson with a Less Active (who didn't end up coming to church) and visiting with our "mom" and her family. 
Sunday was very good because a less active showed up at church after being less active for more than 10 years.  She brought her two kids with her (who aren't members) and asked that we start teaching them so that they can be baptized!  Her husband doesn't want anything to do with the church but we will start working with the family and see what magic we can stir up in the family!  I love being a missionary and the many wonderful things that God gives me.  I am grateful for the this holiday season and the opportunity that I have to be able to serve others like I have never done before!
Have a super week and I love you all tons!
Love, Elder Slack

No mashed potatoes and gravy for me...November 23, 2015

Well, I do have to say that another week has come and gone (some go by slower than others) and I am still doing good!  We had transfers last Tuesday and I got to stay in my area training Elder Muñoz as a Zone Leader.  He has been out for 6 months and I was one of his first Zone Leaders in Valledupar.  We went through a mini Atonement in Valledupar (but that is an after the mission story) so I guess you could say we know each other pretty well!  He is from Ecuador and is a recent convert (turned 2 on November 3rd!) and works like an animal!  Walks way too fast for me (not to say that I am slow either) and has lots of energy!  haha  It has been a decent week of work so far and I am excited to see what else the Lord has in store for us!
My mother made an inspiring comment about our investigators.  I would love to say that we have some progressing :/ (kind of difficult in South America) but let's just say that we have some good ideas to find new investigators and help the ward out a little! (Keep your head up right?! ;) hahaha
I have been pushing myself to read the Book of Mormon a lot more and study the scriptures on a whole new level.  I am reading in Alma 5 and let's just say that I felt right alongside Alma riding on a horse fighting there for a moment.  I would love to share a quick thought.. "Every time you mark your scriptures you are listening to the Spirit."  I heard that this week in a talk and thought to myself for a bit.  I have had a hard time trying to listen to the spirit and follow what he says but I looked back at the ways I have marked my scriptures and really been dumbfounded to realize the way the Lord has touched my life and the way the Spirit has guided me. 
With Thanksgiving this week (sad to say it isn't a holiday here and no mashed potatoes and gravy for me) I have been pondering on the many blessings God has given me.  I found an excellent scripture that I would love to invite you all to read in Alma 34:38.  I am grateful for the blessing of serving my Heavenly Father and the people of Colombia because the Lord has blessed me immensely with lots of experiences that have changed my life. 
I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday and dont forget to send lots of pics and vids of your day and what you are grateful for!
Love, Elder Slack

Slang in the motocarro...November 16, 2015

So this week was kind of crazy with errands for the zone, anxiety with transfers, and just some good ole teaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  We did some house checks with the house secretary and then had to re-run the zone later in the week to change water filters with some guy that helps the mission out (he had zero plans and we spent about 8 hours doing 3 hours worth of work... explains a lot about where I am at) then we did a stellar house revision looking for some answers!  I definitely felt like Sherlock Homes and wouldn't be a bad career just didn't quite call my attention like I had planned! Maybe military would do (just kidding mother).
I kind of got a kick in the face this week re-learning lessons I thought I had learned a while ago.  Long story short, while kicking and playing goalie I always learned that while taking care of the little things, the big things would all fall into place!  I guess it is safe to say that I just didn't take care of some of the little things this past week and it ended up taking time away from things more important. It caused lots of stress for me this week and I learned plenty of lessons... 
I will give one example...
We had our meeting this week with President Searle and our stake president and we rode home in a "motocarro".  The people here speak terrible Spanish and they use so much slang I learn a new word every week.  The thing is,  I have picked up Spanish quite a bit and people are surprised to hear me speaking like I do (some say that I am from one part of Colombia where the people are lighter and have different hair colors because of my ability to speak) but we got in the motocarro and I started speaking to this man with lots of the words they use here (don't worry they aren't bad just lots of slang) and he was laughing up a storm.  He then proceeded to ask who we were and from what church.  I quite laughing and realized I had no right to respond.  I felt like quite the loser telling him we were representatives of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. 
What an excellent opportunity I have to learn so many wonderful lessons and be able to change so many of the things I do in my life to become more like the person God knows I can become.  I have all the authority to preach the gospel but I have a constant battle to have the power part of my calling. It has been a blessing to see the hand of God in my mission and feel the spirit testify through me!  I hope all of you are doing awesome and that you have a super week!!
Love, Elder Slack

It got fixed...November 9, 2015

I can honestly say that time goes by a lot faster when you are busy.  My time as a zone leader has gone by super fast!  This week we were running too many errands and teaching too little.  I have gotten to the point where all I want to be doing is out looking for more people to teach and helping them fix problems in their life.  I have really come to realize that we all have problems that can be fixed. 
On Tuesday, there were some missionaries that didn't fill out a report right and it looked like (at least to me and my companion) that they were robbing money (which according to my mission president is the number one reason people get fired from work or called to a disciplinary council here in the coast) and it got fixed!!  We also got to visit some houses (house revisions are the best where we find tons of little "sins") and found that nobody was filling out their area book... It got fixed!! (at least I hope because if not they will feel my wrath...)
Lately I have been super discouraged because I haven't seen any progress from investigators in our area.. IT GOT FIXED!!! :) haha  Angelica is a lady we have been visiting for about 4 weeks now. She lives with some guy (I think a relative of our Elders Quorum Pres.) and has two kids.  She reads, prays, has a testimony, but has never come to church.  She finally came (but only to the Sacrament).  We will continue to help her out a bit and have her in all three meetings next week!
Our chapel is also precisely fixed on a lot where behind it has a parking lot and the other side is a huge park.  That is a huge light in the sky for whatever street goers do after 10:00 (which is a time I wouldn't be caught dead out here) and so we get to church Sunday morning for ward council and find some blood stains (pretty big ones too) and graffiti marks.  O what a joy!! :) 
This month I have been super focused on losing myself in the work and forgetting all other things (or at least putting them off to another side) to become an even more converted disciple of Jesus Christ.  I can say that Satan really does put lots of things in our path to make us lose our focus.  BUT IT GOT FIXED!! :) hahaha  I love the preisthood power and the revelation our leaders recieve on our behalf.  It is one big thing that builds our testimonies but lots of little things that strengthen it precisely when we need it.  I know that Christ lives and I have a sincere desire to learn even more about the Atonement.  When we can understand the Atonement better we will become more converted and be able to face the adversary with even more power. 
I love you all and hope you have an excellent week!!
Love, Elder Slack

Caracoli is a gold mine!...November 2, 2015

Well, this week was pretty decent. Elder Gonzàlez and I got some good work done!  It has been a little difficult working because he has really bad knees and is trying to figure out what he needs to do to get them fixed.  I have been in the situation before and know what the final outcome will be (or at least I think) so I will keep him happy and working hard!  This week we found some pretty good investigators (but none of them came to church..)  I think here in Colombia there are more holidays than in any other part of the world!  Almost every Monday is a holiday which means a three day weekend.  It is basically seeing the party that they made a movie about (Party X or something like that) every weekend!!! hahaha  That just means that nobody comes to church! 
Besides that I was able to go to a town called Malambo.  It is super awesome and kind of a party town (it isn't the teenagers that party just fyi).  I was able to be with a Colombian missionary named Elder Garcia.  We went to some small town that is called Caracoli.  It is a gold mine (all smaller towns here) because nobody knows about the gospel and when they hear it they love it.  It made me realize that there is still lots of the world that hasn't heard the message of the Restored Gospel and that Satan works very hard to destroy our potential.  I had lots of little experiences this week that were kind of incredible.  A great Apostasy didn't just happen as Jesus was crucified or as His Apostles were being persecuted.  It started out as little lies that Satan planted in the hearts of many men.  Then it went down hill from there.  We have visited many less active members who are very similar. 
Is there any small apostasy that we have (or could have) and what can we do to get rid of it?? (Hint: it is called repentance.)
I love you all and hope you have a splendid week!!
Love, Elder Slack