Monday, September 29, 2014

Bolivian Common Sense

Well it sounds like things are already starting to change in Brigham City. I think we all knew it was only a matter of time, either all the old people would die, the city would do something idiotic, or global warming would change the weather. What Brigham City needs is some Bolivian common sense. For example if you want to run for office, just get some speakers,flags and banners to put on your car and drive around town all day playing your campaign slogan. Sounds like you have also had some fun in the rain. Me too. When the rain comes, it comes down--like a lot. 

Bermejo. People here do not believe much in garbage collection--just throw it somewhere. My companion asked person/store if they had a garbage sack and they just grabbed a little ziploc sack and then throw it out in the street. I thought it was pretty funny. Hence the streets are filled with garbage.  

People. My favorite people to visit live in blue house up on the hill (similar to a Jeppsen outfit and they are always babysitting their grandchildren and they tell me about how their parents use to cook with a clay pot and how good that tasted.)and are menos activos. They are really funny. Asked them about what happens when they commit serious sins and the guy said "Well, time to go to a different church" And then we were talking about why and how the presidente de rama has keys and he was like "Oh, how do I get a copy of those keys" Also they know some English from movies and such and so he will tell me "Please sit down elder" and then he tells his wife "Come over here baby" (and they are like 50 or 60 years old). We have also ridden in their clunker car which is just the metal frame and motor with seats in it. 

I haven't been able to take many photos here in Bermejo but here is Santa Cruz from the mission home. 

Elder Gilbert

Letter from President and Sister Willard

Dear Family,                           

We are so happy to have met your wonderful missionary! We are so honored to work with him here in the Bolivia Santa Cruz Mission. It is obvious in his countenance that he has been prepared to serve the Lord at this time of the hastening of His work.

"And blessed are they who shall seek to bring forth my Zion at that day, for they shall have the gift and the power of the Holy Ghost; and if they endure unto the end they shall be lifted up at the last day, and shall be saved in the everlasting kingdom of the Lamb; and whoso shall publish peace, yea tidings of great joy, how beautiful upon the mountains shall they be."(1 Nephi 13:37)

Every time we look into the face of Elder Gilbert we are reminded of the great love that God has for him and also of the great love, that you at home, have for this great missionary. We know that you pray for him every day. We also feel great love for him and pray every day for his  well-being, spiritual growth, and happiness. We know that God hears and answers these prayers.

We also know of the tender feelings that come with having a missionary out in the field. We know that your influence will continue to be a great strength to your missionary. Your favorite scriptures, spiritual experiences, and expressions of love in weekly emails and handwritten letters will help them feel confidence in their ability to do this great work.

We thank you for all you have done and all you will continue to do to bless the work of  the salvation of God's children here in Bolivia. How grateful we are to have Elder Gilbert here in the Bolivia Santa Cruz Mission. We love him so much!
                                                                           With love,
                                                                           President and Sister Willard

Monday, September 22, 2014


Answers about Bermejo. Right now Bermejo feels like Utah in middle of the Summer and it is only spring here. It is sort of like a jungle here. There are palm trees and other exotic plants but I have not seen monkeys yet. A lot of people here have pet parrots. I am in a decent house. Compared to the united states yes it looks pretty sad  but here it is actually nice. There are a total of 16 missionaries here in Bermejo. I do not think there is such a thing as mail here you could probably send it to the mission office or something. I flew to Santa Cruz with 12 other missionaries.
Land of Coke and Coca. The only american thing here is Coke products and the people really seem to love it. So during a lot of lessons we receive a cup of coke. Also a lot of people chew coca which is tobacco. Lots of people look like they have a sucker in their mouth but it coca and it is pretty gross. The majority of people are missing teeth and teeth are decaying at rapid rates. Almost everyone has a black tooth or teeth. Also another problem we have it that some people cant read which is a problem when they need to read the Book of Mormon or the pamphlets.
Service. We helped some people to build their house which by the way is a really technical process (just clear the ground, flatten it with a cement block by repeatably hitting it against he ground then dump some rocks for the foundation and then cement in bricks). Which meant we had to haul dirt up the side of the steep hill.  They gave us a those burlap sacks and filled it with 5-6 scoops of dirt in each one and then we each hauled a sack up the hill. The first time I fell down a couple times so afterwards I was able to sneak less dirt in my bag. Yes I have done lots of stupid things here. Like asking a member to be baptized.,
Food. Did I mention that the lunches are huge. And you have to eat it all. We start off with the soup and then get a another plate. Usually a plate full of rice like (at least ) and a couple large pieces stake things. Yesterday, Sunday,  about threw up there was so much food. So for breakfast the family we live with made us breakfast. It was a bowl full of hot milk cheese, pancakes, and a fruit drink. But I don't know what any of the butters stuff and condiments are, so they keep recommending stuff to put on my food. Anyway I thought they were giving me hot chocolate mix but it was actually coffee mix (and they said it was A OK) and so I dumped  a whole thing in and then had to down a bowl full of coffee milk which did not taste good. And then the pancakes you just throw on some sweet condensed milk and roll it up and eat it like a burrito. I had to eat like 5 of them because they wanted me to try different things on each one. Next we had lunch with a member also. They gave us two things of meat, 2 potatoes, 3 hand scoops of rice, a fried banana. This was was the hardest because you eat it plain and there no taste really and the potatoes dry out your mouth fast to it hard to eat fast. Then we had dinner, another huge plate full of noodles or something. Anyway Sundays are full of eating.
My Companion. I do not know why but tomorrow we are being changed. I will have a different area in Bermejo. It not as bad as you guys worry so. Sounds like you can use some cooling of the jets too. 
Investigadors. We usually have about 4 lessons a day . And right now we have about 10 investigators and we visit a lot with inactives also. I don't know what else to say because I am not always sure what they telling me.
Misc. I saw a wedding the other day. It consisted of decorated cars and motorcycles driving down the street honking their horns with the bride and groom on separate motorcycles driving next to each other.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Welcome to Bolivia

1. Answers.  Monday is p day. No I do not have a maid, but the RS president makes us lunch everyday. The food here is about the same, rice.
1. Coming to Bolivia. Santa Cruz is like Egypt. It is sandy, dusty, humid, hot with palm trees. When we were landing it looks kinda like Utah except there are trees. The airport is small and there are airplanes parked out in the fields. The bus we ride around in has doilies on the seats head rests so I felt like we were in a RS knitting club. The first few days we did a bunch a paperwork for immigration. They had to take our blood. The lady who did me sure did have a hard time because it took a few minutes and it felt like she was digging around in my arm with the needle. We also visited the Bolivian Interpol which is a run down shack on the corner of the street. President also took us out to dinner where we had every kind of meat, including horse and cow udder. The cars here are funny. If you want to turn right, honk your horn, If you want to turn left, honk your horn. If you don't want to stop at the stoplight, honk your horn and keep going. If you want to back up, honk your horn. If you like the music you are listening to, honk your horn. All the cars here are mostly from back  in the day with redneck modifications and sound like they are going to fall apart at any moment.  
2. My area. I am now in Bermejo. It is one of the farthest away area, I am basically on the Argentina border, which means I had to take two more plane rides (from Santa Cruz to Cochobomba to Tarija) and a 3 hour car ride through winding canyon with a driver going about 80 miles an hour, even around the corners. If there was anything in the way he would just honk or pass them, never slow down (and those obstacles include children). Made me sick. One of the airplane rides was pretty fun. The worst turbulence I have ever experienced. The whole plane was rocking and you had to hold your drink to avoid spilling and even then it was difficult to not spill. Airport do not have gates. Just get off the plane and walk into the airport. In Bermejo there are 4 branches. I am in the 15 of April branch. About 90 people attend each Sunday. It is also pretty jungley here. Most of what I see of Bolivia is more desert.  The people are pretty poor here too. Imagine the worst house in Brigham city and that is about the best house here. Most live tin house, or some sort of house that feels like our garage or shed. Most people here are vendors. Along the streets are storage shed things and everyday they open and bring out their stuff to sell. Most people live in them too. Some people sell toilet paper (about 3 sheets per use) and let people use the bathrooms. There are no public bathrooms. Also you cant flush the toilet paper you put it in the garbage can. Where I live, I live with members. The shower is always cold. But the members are super nice and they make us food sometimes.
3. My companion. Yes that is my companion in the picture and he is a nazi Latino. The most serious and disciplined missionary I have ever met. He rarely smiles unless we are with people and he like to look at me blankly and it makes me nervous. The hardest thing is that he walks at mach speed and I walk slowly. And so first day  he like You are wasting the time of the Lord, walk faster. So naturally me feet are now covered in blisters and we still speed walk everywhere, even in church he reprimanded me for that because I was talking too much with the members and not keeping up.  And when we study, I went over one minute for study and he likes at me and says it is late elder. But mostly he tells me that I need more agility, even when I get out of bed.  So this is boot camp and apparently he has been going easy on me. He tells me from now on we are going to work like black men. And we also don't eat dinner nor much for breakfast either.
4. Spanish. Besides other missionaries here, I am the only one here who speaks English. I was asking someone if they knew anyone else we could talk to and they said I don't speak English. So that is about how that goes but they usually understand.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Last Week of CCM

1. My Latino companion is pretty docile. Some of the Latinos are wild and crazy but mine is pretty calm. My Spanish comes along. There are always two versions of things said here. First what is a actually said and second what I interpret them to be saying which makes for some funny miscommunication. I am sending a picture of Elder Ramos (in the blue shirt) that is about the average height of Latinos.

2. Temple. Today and Tuesday we went to the temple. I know the dialogue all in Spanish now. It was funny doing it with my Latino. First he got some pants that were really tight, then the next pair he got was still too tight but he kept them anyway. Then he got the robe turned inside so then he had to get redressed. Then in the celestial room he snagged his clothing a chair handle and made a ruckus. Always an adventure. 

3. Proselyting. We went out for another few hours yesterday. We meet funny man. He kept asking me why I wasn't studying like Obama to be the next president. And then asked us if we had girlfriends, did whiskey, cocaine, or marijuana and that turned him off we we said we didn't. It was nice to have a Latino companion this time because most people here mumble and slur there words together. Also some countries have different accents. 

4. Fun facts about Bogata. Most stores here are about 15 by 10 feet big. There is no garbage dumpsters. People in green oompla loompa suits come pick them out of the baskets. Bogota has about 8 or 9 million people. Chebede means cool or fun. Pronounced Chay-bay-day said fast. 

5. I got the letter you sent yesterday. And i would hurry and get your pictures off the drive. If I remember right I think that I already backed up the pictures on to mine but I am not sure. 

6.  Yes that is a railroad going down the side of the mountain

7. Bolivia. There are some missionaries here from Bolivia. A couple from Santa Cruz even. They say that in the Santa Cruz north mission they eat monkeys. Others say that we will have to carry slingshots to keep the dogs always. And there are parrots, jaguars, and sloths. Sometimes the sloths fall out of the trees and do not move fast enough so they get hit by cars. And the geese ( which we had to figure what they were saying by talking about the geese on  Disney aristrocats) apparently have teeth.