Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas in Bolivia

Good Morning,

I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas. It was good to see you all after so much time. I was surpised to see how much Justin has changed---definetly a growing boy.

On Christmas eve we went with a few of the members to go sing christmas hymns and to give out Christmas toys to the children and a dinner too. It was cool because the day before a lady called us (a lady that we talked to in the street and left her our number) and asked if we did something for the children for Christmas. And so the next day we went to her her house and sang a few hymns and then gave her family gifts and a dinner. They seemed pretty amazed. That night I didn't sleep all that well because when I went to bed there were fireworks until midnight and I felt like we were in the middle of the war with all the explosions and squeaks and squeals. 

This week we also helped the youth in the stake by going around and talking to people while they gave out cookies. Then we went and sang hymns on the corner of the street.

Some fun facts:  In our ward we spent 90 percent of the yearly budget on food. Which was like 38,000 bolivianos

A missionary in the ward recently returned from his mission on the California Irvine mission and I asked him if her knew Elder Gee and he said that yes, and that he was the one who picked him up in the airport. Pretty slim chances of that happening because he is the only Latino that I know of that went to the United States.

Anyway, I hope you all a very happy new year of 2016

Love, Elder Gilbert

Monday, December 21, 2015

Lesson on Food

Good Morning

Yesterday we ate a boat load of food. We went to our usual lunch right after church and that was pretty normal. But then we went to our next appointment and it turns out to be the lady´s brother´s birthday. So of course there was food for all. We tried to tell her that we had just eaten and that she didn't need to worry. And then she is like, ¨well, didn't I tell you that I was going to make something (which she did not). So now you are going to eat as your punishment so the next time you´ll learn.¨ We then had chicken breast, rice, baked potatoes, and rabbit with it´s little rabbit paws still attached. It´s kind of like chicken but it tastes a little different and the skin is a lot harder to cut. 

This week we also had the Christmas Conference. It was pretty nice. Yes, me and my companion did sing, Oh come let us adore him. It turned out okay. Oh yes in the cambios my district changed to hermanas.

Anyway, I have to go. Have a wonderful Christmas, see you on that day!

Elder Gilbert

Monday, December 14, 2015

Singing in Church

Good Morning,

Mom has been getting pretty crafty hasn't she; looks like she fooled Natalie for her birthday. By the way, I send Natalie my birthday wishes also, I think she will be 27 right?

Well, lately, president has been talking about the language of faith, using invitations such as ¨Would it be better if we passed by at 8 or at 8:30 to pick you up for church.¨  Well, I recently got that used on me. The assistants call and tell me that they felt impressed that me and my companion should sing a duet in the Christmas conference for all the missionaries and then asked me ¨So which song would you like to sing?¨ Well great I don´t know. I will talk with my companion and call you back to tell you which one. Let´s just say that worked like charm.

I also saw a motorbike crash. We where teaching a lesson when we hear a great crash sound, so we all run out the door to go see what happened and turns out that two people  on a motor bike ran into a truck turning onto the street. Basically everyone just ran over there and tried to do something while all the other cars start honking so that they could get buy. The next day we passed by there and they had it all outlined with spray paint and there where blood stains so hopefully no one died.

This week there were 4 investigators at church and 4 less actives. Not too bad for this week.

Here is the photo with me and my Christmas tree. I also got the other package today. That is Bolt the dog that lives outside.

Anyway, until next week,

Elder Gilbert 

Monday, December 7, 2015


Good Morning Family,

I hoped everyone enjoyed this week. As it comes time to write you all again, I always forget what I want to tell you and then I usually remember afterwards. But anyway we had a pretty good week. We had some investigators go to church yesterday and one has a baptism date for the 26 of December.  

I suppose I can tell you about the owner of our house (his name is Felix Choquevillca and he is a member in the ward). He is pretty much a multi-millionaire. He accompanied us this week and I asked him how he got into the transport business (he has like 15 semi-trucks that he bought from the United States and had them shipped over here on a boat).  He told me that he started by carrying bags of shoes on his back over the border of Argentina and he didn't have even a hundred dollars. But just last week he told me he bought a house that wasn't anything cheap. It was worth a half-million dollars (which is a ton in Bolivia). But his sons are going to go to BYU to study and now he is thinking about moving over there. He is really funny and he has been practicing English.

Anyway here is a picture of me and my companion and one of the semi-trucks.

That's all I can remember for this week. If you have a question that sometimes will help me remember stuff.

Elder Gilbert

Monday, November 30, 2015

Domestic Emergencies

Good Morning dearest family,

Well, Thanksgiving went by for me without even thinking about it. Let´s just say thanksgiving is a very, very American tradition. 

Yesterday was the 5th Sunday of the month, as such we had our usual combined lesson with Relief Society and Priesthood. And the topic was something I would highly reccomend for our ward: Domestic emergencies. The lesson starts out like this. "Today we are going to talk about household emergencies. But lets break it down here. What does the word emergency mean for you?" Someone answers, "When something unplanned happens that also, unfortunately, affects our health." Later in the lesson, "What happens if I get a big cut on my arm? What should I do?" Someone answers, "Wrap a towel on it" and the teacher responds "Ah, yes, that is something that we usually do, but what do towels do...they absorb and that´s not good if you loose blood. So really the most important thing is to apply pressure and really you can just use your hand, even if it is dirty, we can use antibiotics to cure that later. And if it is really bad you will use a tourniquet." Then the smart alec replies, "what if I get a cut on my head, should I put a tourniquet on my neck?¨ That is usually how Sunday school lessons go here.

Anyway this week we are seeing some progress. One of our investigators is reading is in 1 Nephi 14 and went to church yesterday. Also we found a really big family of like 7 and in total I think we found 11 new investigators in 2 days. 

Anyway I am a little tight on time.

May you all be blessed and happy,

Elder Gilbert

Monday, November 23, 2015

"Out of the Frying Pan and into Fire"

I can´t believe my half birthday is just around the corner (we all know how Thanksgiving is a great build-up for my half-birthday.) It is a pretty cool turkey that Justin shot. All you need now is to dress up as pilgrims and Indians and you can all have an old fashioned traditional thanksgiving. 

In my district there are the Zone Leaders, the Assistants to the President, and the Elders from San Pedro. This week we had a wild district meeting. First of all the assistants actually came (they usually visit other zones). After finishing the the opening song President Willard walks in to join us for the district meeting too (which is super rare because he has never come to one of my district meetings.) And so that left me teaching all these people. And usually in the district meeting we talk about the challenges of our investigators and analyze them. Then I do a practice with another elder acting as the investigator to show the district how to apply the principles that we just discussed and then we pause and talk about what went well and to improve on. So that was a "out of the frying pan and into fire" moment when the assistants and president showed up. As district leader I also do exchanges with the elders, call to do verification, call for the numbers, and basically the progress of the district.

Anyway, that was the biggest thing that happened this week.  Here are some photos of the garden.The big dirt mound is an ant hill. A lot bigger from back home.


Elder Gilbert

  An ant hill

 Santa Cruz from the top of a tower

 A botanical garden we went to last week. 

We climbed to the top of the tower and you can see just how flat Santa Cruz is.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Hot Water and Air Conditioning

Well to answer dad's question I really do like my house. It has hot water and air conditioning. The reason is because the owner (member) has got a lot of money. He owns a truck shipping business. He has like 10-12 big semi-trucks. He is going to be going to Utah pretty soon to drop his son off at BYU. Pretty neat, ehh.

Anyway, I don't have much time to write. This week I have been getting use to being District Leader calling the people for their numbers on Sunday and doing the district meeting every Thursday. 

I really like the new area that I am in and the ward is really nice. It is weird to hear of all the changes at home. Who is going to move into grandparent's house? Very strange. Anyway next time I promise to write more with lots and lots of pictures.


Elder Gilbert

Monday, November 9, 2015

District Leader

Good Morning,

Thanks for sending the pictures. I sure appreciated seeing some of my favorite past times and just how fat I was. It looks like Justin got some cool stuff. If I see it right, looks like he got a quad copter, a fishing pole, some clothes, shoes, and some remote control to a video game system. 

Well, the first thing is that I got transfered. I am now in an area called Antofagasta in Santa Cruz (again). I am now the district leader (my district consists of the assistants, the zone leaders, and two other elders.) My companion is Elder Van Horne from Auborn California (that place in between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe). The new area was a shock because there are really no investigators to teach. We just have to find new people to teach.

It was also sad to to leave Camiri. The family that I told you about last week was really sad and took us out to dinner. It is hard to believe that the time is passing so fast.

Anyway, take care and have a good week.

Love Elder Gilbert

Monday, November 2, 2015


Good Morning Family,

I am glad to see the Halloween festivities went well. Here Halloween is kind of a fad interest (as if some people saw it on pinterest and wanted to try it.) And here in Camiri, it is the oil capital of Bolivia and so it is kind of a rich city (Park City) and these kind of people try to copy American things.

Yes this week is transfers and it is possible, but not likely that I get changed. And so I think I will be here until December 15th or something.

The coolest thing this week was to see a family receive a spiritual confirmation of the gospel. The mom told us that in a dream she was in her house when all the lights went out and so she lighted a candle,but outside her yard there were people telling her to put out the light. These people where loud, rough, worldy people. And to her surprise the light, when she tried to put out the light, it just wouldn't go out. She tried everything, blowing, dumping water on it, everything. But then a man (who she says is Christ) appeared to her and told her ¨Fear not, the light will protect your family.¨ And then from that point on the light just kept getting brighter and brighter and till it illuminated her whole house and neighborhood.They now desire to  get married and be baptized. I have seen such a change in them and their family (the daughter of 8 reads the pamphlets at night and when we came she recited from memory Juan 3:5).  The only downfall is that they want to get married in January to celebrate the
anniversary of the day the got together and the birth of their daughter.Oh how sentimental us humans are, but we will see what happens.

And HAPPY BIRTHDAY Justin!  Have a wonderful birthday week.


Elder Gilbert

Monday, October 26, 2015

Lost Bag and Rainstorm

Good Morning,

Well, I hope Niels enjoyed that family history presentation. If I was only there we could have done some replay/rehearsal/reenactment on how we use to wrestle together or something.

This week we had to go to Villamontes for the zone conference with President Willard and that turned out to be quite the adventure. First of all, they told us that we had to buy the tickets and go the day before so that we could get there in time. So we left at 10 in the night in a minivan thing and come to find out  that the elders house in Villamontes didn't have any room for us. So when we arrived there at 12:30 am we went to a hotel and stayed there. But as we were getting out (I was the last one out and I was in my state of tired, booting up mode) I thought that the driver took everything out of the back and that the other elders had my bag, but when we walked into the hotel no one had my bag and it was still in the car that was now heading back to Camiri. We had no phone number, no name nothing. So that night I slept in my church clothes on a what felt like a straw bed. And the next day in the conference I had nothing, no scriptures, no Preach My Gospel. Only the stuff I had in my pockets (my camera and wallet thank goodness). So when we got back to Camiri that night we went to the offices and asked them if perhaps they had my bag. They told "no" and that it was probably in Villamontes. So that begins the big investigation. We call Villiamontes and it is not there. We try finding out who the guy was who took us there and no one knew his name (turned out he'd been recently hired). After awhile we were able to get a number and called it and it was him (apparently he lives in Villamontes). Thank goodness he was honest and sent it to Camiri. After a couple days of crisis, I was reunited with my scriptures and everything else in the bag.

Thursday, as you saw, it rained pretty hard. We were in the church when it started and when we walked out after about 40 minutes it looked like what you see in the picture. The streets turn into rivers. Even the sidewalks are like that. We had to walk two blocks and when we got to the house we were soaking wet and another elder was sad to find out that he left the window open and his bed was soaking wet.

Sunday, a less active family attended for the first time in years (Inactivate because other members offended them). After years of visits with elders and church leaders, they finally came. That was pretty neat.

Anyway, till the next week comes around,

Elder Gilbert

 A recent convert family that lived in the country as Guranai (native culture). 
Behind us is their house made of mud and sticks. Pretty neat.

 It rained pretty hard Thursday night. 
This is the street perpendicular to where we live

  In the car heading back to Camiri with the sunset.

 Selfie with the storm in the background

Monday, October 19, 2015

Fluffy Dog

Good Morning,

Looking good Karen there on the side-by-side. I remember we went to the motor cross thing last year and I remembered that race with side by sides and thought of you guys. I don´t remember what happened but I
think they tipped over or something funny, right?

Anyway, last week we made cuñape with a sister in the ward. It is like a cheese bread thing. The first batch turned out like pancakes and the later batches turned our good. The dog is the sisters dog it was soo fluffy. And the other one is my current companion.

This week we did some service hualing around wood. We loaded up burlap sacks full of wood and then carried them about 6-7 blocks. My shoulders were a little sore afterwards.

I can´t remember what else we did this week. It seemed like I just wrote yesterday.

By the way, with the Christmas Package one thing that comes to my mind is perhaps some of those doodads that you buy in Deseret Book. I don´t know specifically but something that is kind of cool. And also the new Mormon Messages and videos that came out.

Anyway, until next week, My time is about up.

Elder Gilbert

Monday, October 12, 2015

Home Repairs

Good Morning,

The weeks seem to be flying by at an increasing exponential rate. It feels like yesterday that I just wrote you guys.  I can't wait to see the house, sounds like it has really been getting the remodel job. I too had some home repair jobs this week. First, the bed of my companion broke and so we had to take the boards to the carpenter to fix them. And then we also replaced a faucet and I took it out using my own hands.

Recently, it has been doing some cold weather. My temperature thing tells me it is 66 degrees and oh how cold that is.

This week we have been teaching new families that are really good. In fact, one of them came to church this week (attached below is their photo) It is really exciting when a whole family goes to church together or keeps the commitments together because that is the focus of the gospel--the families.

Today for p-day we are going to play soccer and make cuñape.

Attached I have a picture a service we did, a photo with me and the parrots, and a family that went to church for the first time.

So I got the photos uploaded and I'm going to send before something blows up.

Monday, October 5, 2015

General Conference Bolivian Style

Good Morning

Wow, it sounds like the house is really falling apart. The more work you put into it, the more things seem to break.

To answer some questions.

Weather and Seasons: There are only two types of weather here. The first is rainy and about 60-65 degrees. The other is hot and sunny about 95-112 degrees. Winter is from May to July/August and the rest is just summer. Right now I feel like it is June weather and as we move into December and such we get 100 plus weather. The leaves never loose their color and the days seem about the same.

General Conference: I watched the whole thing in Spanish with the Branch. What happened is that they get on the internet (laptop) and then put it on a big monitor and then put the microphone to the speakers and then listen to General Conference. It was somewhat live because we watched it at the same time as in Utah (12-2pm, 4-6pm, 8-10pm Priesthood). But you guys know how the internet works down here and so we had to pause, wait, buffer , and watch many times.

It is also different to watch general conference in Spanish although I understand it all, it loses the voice of the prophet and in the way they say things. Although the translators try to imitate their voice, it is just not the same. Sometimes the translator would finish before the speaker and sometimes the translator was finishing as the speaker sat down. When President Monson spoke I only noticed that he was slumping down, but his translator voice was calm as a whistle.Interesting that many spoke about Sabbath Day and sacrament.

This weekend the city is celebrating their Saint patron day (San Francisco de Asis) and during General Conference the street where the church is all the kids and students dress yup and dance through the streets with their music and drums. You can probably look it up on youtube (traditional Bolivian dance, where they parade trough the
streets with bright costumes dancing.) So that was also playing during General Conference.

So I was hoping you guys can do me a big favor and look for recipes that I can cook super easily (american products like Ranch, tomato sauce, peanut butter, etc do not exist here. Also no oven, just stove top and blender). I was hoping things like pancakes or french toast or smoothies. I really want to impress my companion with some American cooking.

 Till next week comes round,

Elder Gilbert

A double banana

A family we are teaching 

Monday, September 28, 2015

Driving Tactics

Dear Family:

I am glad that you enjoyed the fotos.

This week we have been finding lots of new families and they are really good.

Monday and Tuesday I was with Elder Smith while waiting for my
companion to arrive. Monday I got a little sick in the stomach. I am
not sure what it was that I ate, but lets just say that everything
that I eat that day for lunch just came right back out the same end
when we got home.

I also saw some funny things. There was a car entering the round
about and was going really fast and so to insure himself the
right-away in the round about he put out his arm and waved the other
cars back like, ¨get out of the way¨. So that is a new driving tatic
you can try to get the right of way.

We were also passing a house and there was a guy sitting in his
doorway fiddling around and when we said, "buenas tardes" he look at us
and hurriedly got up and went inside and shut the door. I suppose he
didn´t want to talk with us.

And finally we were passing a house and the cops were outside
investigating and talking with some people and this guy with a 12 pack
of beer walks up and kind of sneaks in the house and continues to
party with his friends.

This week the owner of our house went to La Paz and left us in charge
of her house, which means to put the lock on the door and put the
blanket on her parrot´s cage in the night. She is a really funny lady;
kind of like a Grandma Miller. To give you an idea of what she is
like she left us with her bank account number in case of an emergency
and told us that she trusted us more than he own son (in the presence
of her son). And everyone in town knows her.

To tell you about my companion he is from Lo Alto (the alittude is
like 13,000 feet) and his parents are not members of the Church. His
parents are from the country where they speak Amyara and so he knows a
little bit of Amyara. He is very nice and humble.

I hope that you are all excited for General Conference. I think I will be
watching the whole thing in Spanish (it's a little different to have a
translator rather than their own voice) I have some names to throw into the
betting pool of the next apostles. 1. Ronald Rasband. 2. Whitney Clayton.
3. Tad Callister. 4. Perhaps somebody who is not a general authority or is
a foreigner.  5. Cecil O Samuelson (Go BYU). And the next one to die
will be Robert D Hales or perhaps even President Monson.

Anyway, till next week,
Elder Gilbert

Monday, September 21, 2015

Lots of Pictures!

Good Morning,

As you saw in the photos we went to the chorro and it was quite lovely. It was the first time that our activity wasn´t playing soccer. We paid a taxi to drive us up as far as possible and then we made about an hour hike. There were tunnels, brigdes and beautiful nature.

As mom as noted, cambios were last night. My campanion went to Santa Cruz in Plan 3000. My new companion will be Elder Apaza from La Paz. He will finish his mission in December. He will arrive here tomorrow night.

 And it sounds like Justin is being kept busy these days (enjoying the privilegde of being the only child in the home.) Today is Stephanie´s half birthday and I am shocked that no one is celebrating. I suppose it is just a Curt kind of trademark. And mom is also adventuring to try something new. 

This week we helped a a man (who only has one leg) pick up firewood and take it to his house in a baby stroller. Something different.

Well, I hope you are all well, I sent many photos so that you can see more than read.

Elder Gilbert

 Looks like some nature out today.

 This is a field where they play soccer in 100 degree weather.

 It is also sort of desserty in Bolivia.

 A traditional and very common Bolivian house. 

San Francisco de Asis 

 Enjoy some Celine Dion photo shoot at the Chorro 

Monday, September 14, 2015

Lessons from Elder Uceda

Good Morning,

I forgot that peach days was this week, I´ll have to buy a peach (but
then ones in cans because the peaches here are the size of a small
plum or something). And yes when there is a sort of festivity here,
the missionaries stay away especially in the night because that is
when they all get drunk. The last time there was a festival there
where drunks running around throwing bottles and yelling at each other
in the wee hours of the morning. That is one thing you don´t see much
of in Utah. Here I have learned how to identify drunks, the smell of
alcohol, and all that. Bolivia has a serious drinking problema, they
can buy the cheap stuff but it destroys their body. I think all of the
investigators we have ever had have drank before.

This week we had the conference with Elder Uceda. We arrived in Santa
Cruz at 6 in the morning and then went to the church and studied until
Elder Uceda arrived at 2 in the afternoon. First sister Willard spoke,
then President Willard, then we did the practices (in every missionary
meeting we do practices with other missionaries to improve our skills
in things like teaching, obtaining referrals, etc), and then the wife
of Elder Uceda spoke and all that lasted abour an hour and a half.
Then Elder Uceda gets up takes off his suit coat and says ¨Let´s get to
work.¨  That statement was followed by a 3 and a half hour lecture.

Some of the things that he spoke about was (1) learning english or
spanish: we cannot always see the future and how learning a language
can bless our lives in the future. Face your fears. He has not opened
his Spanish scriptures for 30 years (2) Obedience: Sometimes we
justify breaking the small rules thinking that ¨nothing will happen¨.
Satan will do everything to make sure that ¨nothing does happen¨
until we believe our own lie and then something serious happens. (3)
Persuasive Teachers: Our investigators do not progress because we
don´t know how to help them progress. We often learn by doing and need
to talk with the heart, because talking is not always teaching.  (4)
Scriptures. It is like the square that is divided into 16 squares and
at first we superficially only see 16 squares but as we look there are
more. Same thing with the scriptures, we sometimes ready superficially
and read the same scriptures over and over and get the same meaning,
not searching for hidden treasures from the spirit.

And by the way, we were in the back of a taxi and I look at the
driver´s shirt and it says Ogden Clinic, Golden Spike Reality, Jamba
Juice, etc. His shirt was a race shirt that they give out to the
participants. Apparently the clothes we donate to DI or Charities make
it here to Bolivia.

Today we are going to go to the Chorro, a waterfall thing.
Anyway, have a nice week and enjoy!

Elder Gilbert

Photo with Elder Uceda