lestroudle:

Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not; and we often times call a man cold when he is only sad.

- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The Doctor and his ghosts.

(Source: uss-lestroudle)

It’s possible for some people to live without actually living. Some people die with their music still in them.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!
2013 in Summary
- Got chased down the mountainside by a man with a machete and a 36 pack of beer (supposed guerrillera)
- Transferred out of Aguazul
- Opened up an area in Suba with a Peruvian who didn’t talk
- Learned Spanish fluently

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Why I love Disney, Julie Andrews, and Mary Poppins most of all!

(Source: wizardshavethephonebox)

That awkward moment when out of the blue, you put your first tumblr post after a year and a half when in reality you shouldn’t put it on for another 6 months.

Week… Something

Dear Everyone,

Well, It’s been a great run so far! =)

I’m a bit more than 6 months into my mission, and as you can tell, I just lost track of my week count. To be honest, I’m not too crazy to keep up on it for myself. I do it more for those of you back home who are wondering how long I’ve been out. But I’ve learned a lot, forgotten a lot of English, and a lot has happened in these 6 short months of my life here in the outlying areas of Colombia, more than anyone would ever think possible. To start off with, I’ve learned to appreciate A LOT of things that many of us take for granted. To list just a few of them, I’ve learned VERY much to appreciate central air conditioning, fiberglass insulation, clean and dependable water sources, washing machines and dryers, airplanes, smart phones, ceiling fans, a police force that actually does their job, and enforced traffic laws. They’re VERY simple things that we all manage to take for granted or, sometimes, things that drive us nuts (especially the last one in my list). However, as I’ve been here putting myself completely out there, learning to love the people. learning the language (and forgetting quite a bit of my native tongue), and learning many of the customs that would seem strange to most of you back home, I can’t help but thinking that there is something that I lack still.

I realize that I’ve changed quite a bit from who I was, but who wouldn’t change after 6 months in a foreign land with nobody that knows your language, living with people that you don’t know, and both those things constantly changing. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE this experience I’m having; it’s a once in a lifetime experience! I love the things I’m learning, and I love how fast I’m learning everything that I haven’t known before. It’s just that I don’t know why I didn’t give notice to this before nor why I didn’t notice things like this before. If everyone had the chance to take this experience that I’m having right now, I would HIGHLY recommend it to anyone without second guessing. I’m only a quarter way through, but I know that when I finish that I will never be the same in many aspects.

This past week has been one that’s been practically empty but busy in the same moment. We spent a large part of our week traveling from Aguazul to Bogota by bus, so there’s about 16 hours of our week, plus the full 24 hours we spent IN Bogota and the other 24 in Yopal, making, in total, 64 hours of travel time and of time away from Aguazul. In addition, we sleep about 8 hours each day, so that’s about 40 hours of our week this week, so 80 hours of 168 hours was spent doing stuff that was rather boring. Also, there’s about 12 hours each Monday to prepare for all of the week, so 98 hours doing almost nothing. (Sorry for losing you on the math [if I did].) That left Elder Alonso and I with the 46 hours to work here in Aguazul this past week. You’d be COMPLETELY surprised what you can learn in 2 days worth of hours, especially in a town that is an hour away from the nearest major city, is at high risk for many tropical diseases that you may have never heard of, and is about the size of Henderson (if not smaller).

So, this past week, it rained buckets. Literally. If any of you have any idea how theater productions/movie productions make rain appear on screen, that’s how heavy it was here. In fact, it’s about ready to rain just as heavy again in a few minutes. So, in order to work, we had to ride our bikes REALLY fast in order to maintain somewhat dry (although it didn’t really help much). We only had 3 lessons with our investigators, and 9 lessons with less-active members of the church, but they all had a heavy impact on me. There was one charla we had that kind of depressed me a lot for the whole week and still has me kind of depressed. We went to visit one of our good friends who’s about 9 years old or so, named Gilber. When we arrived out front of his house, his dad was there sitting on his phone playing games. You have to understand, that is EXTREMELY RARE to find his dad, Ferney, at home because he works about 1 hour outside of Aguazul as a forester (more or less that’s what he does, I forget what to call it in English) almost all the week except some Sundays. So, that was a surprise for us, but the news that he had for us was somewhat devastating to him and also a little bit to us.

Lately, he’s been bringing his son, Duan, to work with him because he’s been SUPER bored at home lately. For the first 3 days of work, everything went fine, but this past Wednesday, Duan lost half of his dominant hand on a buzzsaw. I have a photo, but I’d rather not send it because it’s not the most pleasant thing to look at for most people (for me I was fine to be honest). He only has his thumb left as well as half of his palm. He lost his hand right where you fold your hand into a fist. What had happened is that he lost his balance and he put his hand out to catch himself, but he put it out right where the buzzsaw happened to be. As a result… =P

Anyways, sorry to spoil the Christmas mood for anyone there, but now on to my happier note to help bring in that awesome Christmas spirit that’s unique to this time of year. Christmas is the time of year where we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. If you haven’t read or heard of the Christmas story, I recommend that you go look it up on the internet and you will find millions of versions of it. It’s because of the wonderful and miraculous events that occurred around his birth that it was such a remarkable time to be alive. Anyways, we celebrate Christmas as a reminder to all of us that Jesus Christ was born. Our Savior and Redeemer. The one PERFECT gift of our Heavenly Father for us to live with him again. Without the birth of Jesus Christ, we would have never had the Atonement, the event that gave us the opportunity to be forgiven of our sins and be made clean enough to live in the presence of our Heavenly Father. That is one of the reasons that we give gifts to each other: to remember the one perfect gift that God gave to all mankind in order to redeem them. This event was so great that angels appeared to mark the occasion to certain poor shepherds in fields outside of Bethlehem to mark the occasion. In addition, a new star marked the birth of Christ, a new light to guide us in all of our ways. There are many signs and symbols behind the decorations of Christmas. As much as I would love to share them all, I don’t have much time left to write, so it suffices me to say: Merry Christmas to all and I love you all. Happy New Year and talk to you next week!

Love,

Elder Jared Rezendes

 

Week 25
Dear Presidente Andelin,
Well, I would like to start off this letter by saying how grateful I am for my new companion that you sent here. Although the emergency transfers took up a lot of time the last week, and this week it was the coro that took up more time, we are working EXTREMELY well together and have accomplished a lot in the last week although the numbers that we sent don’t really reflect it. We have been working A LOT with the the less active members here in Aguazul y we have had A LOT of success this past week as a result.
Ayer (domingo) teníamos cero de nuestros investigadores de los tres quien dijeron que iban a ir, pero TODO de los menos activos que dijeron que iban a ir ayer. Entonces, un resulto de nuestros esfuerzos con la ayuda del Señor, 12 menos activos fueron ayer a la reunion sacramental. Mas buenas noticias, los menos activos que fueron hicieron 1/4 de la asistencia ayer, porque eran 41 personas en asistencia!!! =D Finalmente, pasamos el numero 30 sin una conferencia especial pasar. De los menos activos que fueron, Hermana Xiomara fue con sus 3 hijos, Hermana Maria Benites fue con su 3 hijos, y Hermana Marilu fue con su hija, Sarah. Ademas, un menos activa se llama Nuria con su dos hijas fue por su propia cuenta, recordamos sus datos y Elder Alonso y yo esperamos que podemos visitarla esta semana.
Hablar sobre Elder Alonso y yo juntos, quiero decir muchas cosas, pero solo tengo tiempo para decir algunos. Entonces, mas importantes cosas primeras: caemos bien y porque de eso, los menos activos y investigadores pueden ver mas felicidad y sentir el espiritu mas fuertemente. Para ser honesto, en tres dias, uno de los miembros de la rama nos dijo muy directamente que debemos hacer que estamos haciendo porque le gustó como sintiera cuando estabamos en su casa porque “invitaban el espiritu mas fuerte que un mayoria de los misioneros que me han visitado.” Era un sorpresa, pero un cosa that I am thankful for now, is the fact that we invite the Spirit and our investgators and the members can feel it now.
Another thing (talking about Elder Alonso and I as a subject) is that we are both anxiously awaiting the new arrival of two more missionaries here. Although we aren’t 100% sure if it’s going to happen SOON, we both know that it will help A LOT as we have so many investigators and less actives here that it’s almost impossible to work with ALL of them in one whole week.Therefore, this week is going to be pretty difficult because of the zone conference we are going to have in Bogota (that is 8 hours away from Aguazul by bus). We’re happy that we finally get to meet the whole zone and be edified with new thoughts and experiences of other missionaries, but we basically have a 3 day work week this week. =P
With lots of love,
Elder Jared Rezendes
PS Merry CHRISTmas to all, and I hope to talk to you soon.
Week 24
Dear Everyone,
 

This past P-Day, we did our laundry, bought some things we needed, and wrote our families. As we wrote our families, Elder Castro called his over Skype and talked to them for a bit so I got the chance to see them! We left and finished out our day, visiting a less active family who WANTS to return to church REALLY badly, but problems have presented themselves every Sunday. The mother, Marilu, is the one we’re focusing on the most right now because she is the one who was the “founder” of the branch in Aguazul, but because her husband was cheating on her and (after she found out) fought with her every week causing them to miss church, she hasn’t attended for the past 5 years. She moved out of her husband’s house about 2 years ago and is living with her daughter, non-member brother, and his 3 non-member children who are all interested in the church, but they’re having problems now and she is trying to build a ranchita que el presidente y otros en la rama están ayudándonos con este. We are excited to do this because we know it’ll help her to attend each week without the problems she has right now.

 
We had intercambios this past Wednesday, so I went with Elder Bell (from St. George) in Yopal while Elder Huarca (from Peru) was with Elder Castro in Aguazul. We taught an investigator that I am happy to have the opportunity to meet, called Alfonzo. He is an investigator who didn’t like his old church because he felt that something was missing, mostly prophets and God’s authority. He has a lot of questions about the old church of Jesus Christ and a lot of things that “aren’t here on the earth now,” such as the things already mentioned. So, as a result, we taught him the first lesson and he accepted the invitation to be baptized on December 8th. Unfortunately, he didn’t attend church this Sunday. Because of this, we have to postpone his baptismal date (I think). Also, we talked with a part-member family, and we spoke to the father yesterday. He wanted to be baptized, but something happened where he couldn’t, so he needed to talk with the president to send some papers. I don’t know what happened, but I hope everything will be fine because he really wants to be baptized.
 

Also this past week has been rather unproductive in general. We offered a lot of service, but other than that, we didn’t TEACH many lessons. We went to a lot of people’s houses, but we didn’t really talk much about the Church. One investigator in particular we talked to asked if we could help him finish painting his house that Elder Castro and Elder Huarca had helped him start to do. The last wall he had yet to finish was filled with holes and chipped paint, so we were there for about 3 hours cleaning up the wall before painting (which Elder Castro and I didn’t get the opportunity to do). The other service that we offered this week was to cook for one of our menos activos para ayudar con la empereza de vender arepas y cerdo. Well, that’s the week summed up. -_-

 
I was REALLY bored this week. I’m trying my hardest to avoid killing my companion because he is extremely lazy and trunky although he only has 10 months in the mission. It sounds like that’s how ALL peruanos son de todos modos. 

With love,
 
Elder Jared Rezendes

 

Week 23

Dear Everyone,

Well, there’s a few important things that I feel that I need to update you on while I remember them because I’ve forgotten to email you about this the last few weeks. For starters, I’m in an area called Aguazul (I know I’ve already sent that part, but just as a refresher) that is about 1 hour away from the nearest biggest city named Yopal. It has about 25,000 people and our apartment is at the base of the only mountain in about 25-30 km. Other than that, it’s just plains, jungle, and a large river called Río Únete. I haven’t been near the river at all, but apparently there have been baptisms done in the river.
The point about the river brings me to the four next huge points that I have forgotten to mention in my other emails:
1.) We are the ONLY area in our mission that doesn’t have to walk because we’re the only ones that have bicycles in our area. Because of that, the 33 degree humidity is BEARABLE when we ride, but other than that, there’s nothing that we can really do about it.
2.) In our apartment, we lack a ventilation system. The best thing that we have are two floor fans and one of them is only semi-functional. When I say semi-functional, I mean that in order to get it started, we have to spin it with our hands a few times before we can get the motor running.
3.) Due to the lack of infrastructure in Colombia (like in Tocancipa) we may not have water at times. Elder Castro and a few members of the branch here have stated that there may not be water for WEEKS at a time, which is the main reason that the past Elders have had to do baptisms in the river. To further aggravate the situation, the water that they DO supply is treated, but not always clean. Basically what they do is clean it in the water station, but don0t have filters or any other stations along the way, so it’s pretty easy to contaminate the water here. Because of that, although we have running water, we aren’t supposed to drink it.
4.) Because we’re near a river, there are mosquitoes. This being one of the VERY few areas in Bogota Norte that actually has them. Although I’ve yet to SEE them, when I wake up in the mornings I can feel them with the newly gained bug bites that I have all over my arms and back. Even worse, a few of the other Elders who have served here previously have contracted Dengue from the mosquitoes, so I’m praying and hoping for the best that I don’t contract Dengue in ANY form and also hope that while I’m here, I won’t lose water for longer than 3 days.
Well, there’s a nice update to tell you about Aguazul. It’s a GREAT area. The people are friendly, and there is already another Gringo here who is learning Spanish through a language program (I forgot what it’s called) and is from Boulder, Colorado. His name is Evan and he’s 29 years old. I met him when I went to a local college to help with their “English Day.” We have about 3 investigators that are professors here. When we went, we had a good day and lots of food. The students received us well and were very friendly. The main reason I was there was because two of the professors that we know are our investigators and they wanted us to be judges for them. Unfortunately, it was very early and we spent most of the day (from 7 am to 1 pm) judging them.
Right now, we’re working A LOT with the less actives here, because the branch only has about 40% attendance right now. There are close to 80 members that live in Aguazul, but only 30 attend sacrament meeting on a regular basis. When I got here, my first thought was how to better this area.   So far, we’re having great success, in fact, there is one family of less actives that wants to go to church, but each Sunday since we have gotten them excited to go, an emergency has come up. Yesterday she went to the hospital because her daughter had a severe case of tonsilitis.  Today, we went to talk to her again and we ended up fixing up the motorcycle of her nephew. The whole family (minus the father and the son who live separate from her), want to receive the lessons. Only Marilu is less active, but her brother and his kids want to receive the gospel in their lives. Also, his two sons have girlfriends who also want to listen.
Well, that about sums up the cool juicy parts of my life as of now in Aguazul. I hope to hear from everyone soon! I love you and I’ll talk to you all later!
With love,
Elder Jared Rezendes
Week 22
Dear Everyone,
Well, the only reason I remember it’s week 22 is because I just counted how many area books I’ve gone through. It’s a bit surprising to know that’s what I have to do now to know how long I’ve been in the mission.
Anyways, first things first. I am currently in Aguazul, and Las Vegas is (believe it or not) reaching out to me still here in (basically) the middle of nowhere. We’re about an hour away from the nearest major bus terminal which is about 7.5 hours away from Bogota, but there is a member here named Liliana Porciani who was taught by an LDS missionary when she was in her teenage years by the name of Elder Owens who was from Las Vegas and is currently serving in the Police she told me. I have NO idea who that might be… =P -_- =)
Anyways, Aguazul is the COMPLETE opposite of Tocancipa. It was about 14 degrees there, always cloudy, rained almost every day, and was extremely dry. Here in Aguazul, it’s 33 degrees all day, only partly cloudy most of the time, and it’s HUMID HUMID HUMID. There is no way you can come here without sweating. And as I’m talking about opposites, it’s not just with the weather and the city, but also with the ward/branch we have here. In Tocancipa, there was a lot of people as well as a lot of youth and support from the ward, to the point where the missionaries had their freedom to work as much as we wanted or needed. Here in Aguazul, we aren’t officially recognized as a stake or district, so the “stake president” is actually our mission leader. We had ward conference yesterday so he and his first counselor came down to conduct and do their business stuff. In addition, there’s only about 30 members who attend each week, so Elder Castro and I are unofficially the second counselor of the Presidente del rama aca. Entonces,  cuando el hizo visitas jueves, Elder Castro y yo fuimos con el como un hora de Aguazul por carro para visitar las familias quien viven MUY MUY MUY lejos. Tambien, damos los asignaciones para hacer discursos cada semana a los miembros de la rama y damos institute once a week for our only student who was ust ordained an Elder yesterday and is most likely going to be the new segundo consejero ahora.
This last week was a bit hectic, but it was a bit fun nontheless. Although there are many differences between Tocancipa and Aguazul, we also have a lot in common. The people in this area are just as friendly and WILLING to help (although it’s a bit difficult because there’s so few) and also we have A LOT of work to do. We have about 15 or 16 investgators/families who live within a 3 block radius of us and even more inactivos o menos activos quien viven muy cerca. I look forward to the work that we have to do here, but it’s going to be REALLY difficult because I have no idea (right now) what’s been taught, who’s been taught what, and who is an investigator or who is a less active. Besides that, the area book is a LITTLE behind because apparently we don’t have our star investigator in it AT ALL. He’s COMPLETELY incognito or missing. I have a buttload of pictures that I want to send, but I can’t send them this week because falto la cosa para leer mi memoria. I love you all and I’ll update you with much cooler stuff when cooler stuff happens this next week.
Love,
Elder Jared Rezendes
Week 21
Dear Everyone,

Well, it’s true what they say about the time in the mission (I don’t really know how time is going for all of you guys back home, but at least for me it’s true…) that a day feels like a month, but the months feel like days. I can’t believe that I’ve already been out for almost 6 months.

This week is a bit hectic for me as it’s my first transfer. Apparently, I’m going to be going from 14 degree weather (Celcius[side note for my American friends]) to 35 degree weather in less than 8 hours. I’m a bit sad that I have to leave my area, but the good news is that I was prepared a few days beforehand. About 3 days before we got the call that said I was going from Tocancipa to Aguazul, I had the STRONG prompting that I was going to leave (as well as a bit of depression that followed because I knew it was true), but hey, what will be will be as long as I’m doing what I should.
So this final week I had in our area was one of my most favorites and least favorites at the same time. Everyone in the ward could sense that it was time for transfers, but no one wanted to say anything and pretended that all was well. Everyone was a bit annoyed, sad, and irritable this past Sunday, but when they talked with us, it was apparent they could sense what we were sensing. It’s amazing to know that no matter where I go, the missionaries (good and bad) are the most loved people in the ward. Knowing that, it’s a huge burden to keep the trust and confidence between the missionaries to keep that bond between everyone there.
This week we had two baptisms. Dolores and Magda (Martha in previous emails) received their covenants in the waters of baptism. We were REALLY late in performing the ordinance (we said that it would be at 6, but we didn’t start until about 7:30 because the pila bautismal fue MUY sucio, entonces necesitábamos limpiarla antes el bautismo). También estábamos muy tarde porque hablábamos con Magda en uno de los cuartas para prepararla antes ser bautizado. We went in with 5 people (Jose, the bishop, us two Elders, Brajhan, and Magda) and we were talking for about half an hour while the font was being filled one to prepare her (like I was saying) and the other to do what we talked about last week.
When the time came to use our priesthood to cast out the evil spirit, it was really funny because no one wanted to do it. Elder Lara turned to me, asked me if I could do it, but I was too new and I didn’t know the words I should say, so I had to decline. So then, he turned to the bishop to ask him to do it, but he turned it back to Elder Lara because (in his own words) “Ella es su investigador, entonces, hasta que reciba los aguas de bautismo, no tengo ni autoridad para hacer algo.” Then Elder Lara looked at Jose (who immediately shook his head “no” before he even asked him) before doing the ordinance himself. We didn’t see an IMMEDIATE change, but when we watched her to see what would happen, we saw a look of relief come over her face. The next day (the Sunday in which I talked about a few paragraphs ago) we could see a slight improvement in how she interacted with people as well as we could see more lucidity in what she did. Just yesterday, before I left, she was cooking lunch for herself and was wearing matching clothes (without Dolores having to help her). So, although we weren’t able to see a MAJOR change in the 30 seconds after, Elder Lara and I feel that she’ll be returning to normal gradually, which makes sense if she really did have problems for 14 years or so.
The horrid part of this week was that we are most likely going to have to release our ward mission leader, Jose, because he’s fighting with his parents and the bishop over his newly formed relationship with a young woman in the ward. The weird part is that he’s bringing the argument and those feelings to the missionary work (which has forced Elder Lara to talk about Mafe as well and why he needs to focus and prepare for his mission and the mission in Tocancipa). He got super pissed off and yelled at us for about 3 hours, so the bishop is thinking about releasing him and placing Camilo in as ward mission leader (which isn’t much better because he’s never at church or at home, so it’s difficult to talk to him).
Also, we were at the Angarita Max’s house last night trying to repair the relationship between Brajhan and his mom. Things are EXTREMELY horrible between them. When Brajhan got home, he didn’t talk to his mom at all like we asked him to, but instead went straight to his bed and wouldn’t talk to anyone. We went up and talked with him for about half an hour before he got up out of bed, YELLED at his mom (who tried to talk with him before we went up to talk to him), and then went to bed without even listening or talking to us. He seemed a LITTLE bit happier this morning when he came to our appointment to read with us, but when we talked to his mom on the phone after he left, nothing had really changed. I don’t know what to do. I’ve tried to be the best example that I can, but when our two star youth in the ward are yelling and not listening to anyone, it’s hard to help them live happier or be more successful in life like they say they want to be.
I’m a bit nervous about Aguazul for two reasons: one, apparently we have a double transfer going on there and, two, it’s tierra caliente con un gente con la personalidad de un tierra frió (cual es muy diferente que Tocancipa, porque es un tierra frió con un personalidad de gente de tierra caliente).
Anyways, I hope all is well and I love you all. Please email me back. I’m about to start erasing emails and cleaning up my inbox a bit, so unless I have received emails from you guys in the past month, you’ll still hear from me. If not, well, you know what my email address is and I’m still here.
Love,
Elder Jared Rezendes
Week 20
So, this week was a bit hectic as we now (unofficially) have 3 Elders in Tocancipa. It’s not the MOST fun I’ve had, but it’s definitely interesting because the third “missionary” is one of the youth in our ward. In fact, today, we’re going to Bogota with him and his family because he asked us to be present in his patriarchal blessing. It’s been a lot of fun working with him, training him, and talking with him, but it’s a bit strange because it feels like Elder Lara works more with him rather than with me. Whenever we do splits, Elder Lara always puts me with the ward mission leader and he always goes off with Brajhan. When he DOES go off with Brajhan, he goes with him to the investigators who are most receptive and ready while Jose and I end up with the turtle paced or luke-warm investigators. I tried to bring up this point to Elder Lara when I asked to go to a certain investigator with Jose, but he said it was alright and took the appointment for himself and Brajhan anyways.
Other than the fact that I had a bit of trouble with teaching lessons to receptive people this week, everything is okay. We have 6 people with a baptismal date. Martha and Dolores Gomez are having their baptismal interview this week as well as (POSSIBLY) Shirley and Steven Patiño Santiago, but it all depends on the husband and the marriage papers. The other two investigators who have a baptismal date are new, but their names are William Diaz and Jorge Eliezer Diaz. We found them this past week, and after the first lesson with both of them, we put down a date for their baptisms. I wasn’t present for the baptismal date with Jorge because Elder Lara and Brajhan did that, but all 3 of us were present for William.
We haven’t really had time these past two weeks to write because our P-Days have been a bit in reverse (work from 10 hours and do our laundry and clean the house) but it’s been worth it for the work we’ve accomplished. I don’t know why, but I can’t help but feeling like it’s about time for me to leave Tocancipa. As much as I DON’T want to because of the people in the ward and the people here I love, it feels like there’s nothing much else to learn here or any way for me to grow spiritually. If it happens, I’ve come to accept it, but if not, that’s even better.
Anyways, to sum up my week a bit MORE in detail, this past P-Day we went to the mountain with Brajhan near Tocancipa. We actually climbed up to the THIRD mountain of the series of three (It looks to be about 1,000 feet higher than Tocancipa) and saw ALL of our area as well as Zipaquira. Our area is HUMONGOUS and I can now see why our work is ONLY focused in Tocancipa. It’s basically the only “big” city in our area for about 50 miles. It’s a great little town, but it’s a bit strange in the fact that it is a mining site. We passed by about 30 salt mines on our way to the top of the mountain, and also, we got to see the military base from above where we were. As much as I enjoyed the hike, I couldn’t help but think about the possiblity of being abducted by Guerrillas because we were so far from civilization and also because it was REALLY jungled. I’m a bit annoyed with my companion at the moment, but if I transfer, I know that they won’t white-wash Tocancipa because of all the progress we’re making right now, so I’m going to wait one more week before I hit him really hard for cutting short my P-Days to write home every week.
To answer your questions: No, there’s no Walmart nearby. I haven’t grown at all. I did receive everything in the package that you guys sent me.
Anyways, I love you all and talk to you later!
Love,
Elder Jared Rezendes
Week 19

Dear Everyone,

During our Gospel essencials class, we had the topic of Priesthood this week. As a result, we got on the topic of priesthood blessings as well as the power of the priesthood. As we were talking about miracles in the New Testament that Jesus did while he was on the earth (with the priesthood) and how he cast out devils, we finally heard the whole story from Dolores (the mother of Martha) about how the situation started with Martha.

It turns out that when Martha was a teenager, that she and a group of friends used a Ouijia board in the house without Dolores knowing (until afterwards). It was SHORTLY after that Martha started acting strange and saying weird things. That’s when Dolores took her to the medical professionals and they diagnosed her with schizophrenia. Dolores believed it to be a physical manifestation of the devil or one of his angels, so she asked for a blessing for Martha. We took all the proper steps, and then we gave Martha a priesthood blessing. Elder Lara told me afterwards that he didn’t remember a thing that he said, but in the blessing, the Lord blessed Martha through Elder Lara with “the power to fight the evil in your body” as well as talked A LOT about repentance.

Anyways, the rest of our week was pretty crazy as well. We went to a public function at the local colegio because they had an “English Day” and they found out that there is a gringo who lives just outside their front door. As a result, they asked me to be present in front of all the professors and the colegio to show my abilities to talk English. In this opportunity, we also had the chance to help Brajhan Angarita Max. He is one of the youth in the ward who is going through a REALLY hard time in his life right now. His father died of Lupus and he is the only boy in the house. He’s the third of 5 and the whole family is fighting a lot. Elder Lara and I took him under our wing this week, and also we are helping the family a lot. In just 3 or 4 days, we were able to see a HUGE improvement among them. As well as the improvement we’re seeing among the family, we’re also seeing a huge improvement in Brajhan.

He helped us A LOT yesterday while we were talking with a family that was just recently reactivated, the Velandias. We’ve been training him to be a missionary, and he has been doing amazingly well. In fact, yesterday, while we were discussing something with Hermana Velandia about her son, Brajhan was talking to him and we saw a HUGE change in how he treated his mom from before the discussion. After ALL the four discussions we had with the family, we were able to find out a problem as well as get the family to try staying together with Omar again (as they’re in the middle of filling out their papers for divorce).

The week was amazing and I love you all. I hope to talk more this upcoming Monday. I wasn’t really able to write this week, but I FOR SURE will write you all a better report this week Monday. The reason why I didn’t was because we were up in the mountains with Brajhan all day Monday, so we didn’t get the chance to write at all. I love you, and talk to you in 4 days!

Love,

Elder Jared Rezendes
Week 17

Dear Everyone,

Wow, time flies a bit too fast down here. Anyways…

This week was a bit slow, but it was good nonetheless. We are having problems with the young men in this church down here, so it was a bit frustrating when we went to church yesterday and there wasn’t ONE young man there. We ended up making house calls virtually all of the three hours of church, but it was worth it. There is one young man in particular who reminds me of me when I was his age. His name is Brajhan Max and he is 15 (almost 16) years old. In the first picture, it’s him with one of the hermanas in the ward, Hermana Velandia, who is had her 38th birthday today. 
Brajhan lives with his mom and 3 sisters. He is the second child and he is a bit lazy/doesn’t like to attend church unless he is taken there. He is kind of moody, but that’s kind of what I expect because his dad died a few years back due to a disease that no one knew he had called Lupus (and, according to House, it’s never lupus…;D). Now, the whole family is a bit worried because the children might have this disease, but they won’t be able to know until they each turn 25 (I have no idea why, but that’s what they said). Also, being the only guy in a house full of girls, well, that’s pretty hard. Also. the kids in the ward don’t really hang out together or really invite one another to do anything at all, so there’s not really a friendship between any of the young men in the ward.
This week, also, we have 4 new baptismal dates. One is the mother of the Garzon family. I was SUPER happy to hear her say yes, and this time, I think that we can do it! We set the date for 4 Nov, but our main problem is getting her to attend sacrament meetings because she is a health care professional (an epidemiologist, basically) and almost always works on Sundays. Also, she is in the middle of a HUGE report that is driving her and the rest of her family insane because of how many papers that she has to fill out and how many house visits she has to do every day. It’s a bit frustrating to us too because of how difficult it is to work with her schedule.
Two other dates are for a family who lives just 3 doors down from a recent convert, Graciela. Her name is Dolores and she has a 30-something year old daughter living with her. This daughter, named Martha, has schizophrenia! When we first met her, it was kind of a shock to learn this, but it has been a great adventure up until now. They are EXTREMELY Catholic, but they are really accepting of the gospel. We need to have Dolores talk with Graciela a bit more, but I think that she will do great once she lets go of the religion of her parents and accepts the gospel FULLY in her life.
And the final baptismal date is actually two, but we’re putting one for right now because of the fact that the parents aren’t married. We challenged Steven Santiago Patiño to be baptized as well as his mom, Shirley. We’re anxious to see how it’ll turn out, but we think all will go well because of the fact that she has a REALLY strong testimony of the Gospel and we have seen so many changes in her life and how she is reacting to situations differently that before.
Anyways, that’s my week in a nutshell. I wish I had more to tell, but the only thing I can think of is that this Wednesday, we had Brajhan be a missionary with us for the WHOLE day (placard and all! I’m surprised that he had an actual placard that said “Futuro Misionero”). It went great and we found 2 new potential investigators, we have an appointment with one of them today, and the other is a bit difficult to get a hold of since he works every day of the week except Sundays.
Anyways, I love you all. I hope all is well with you. I guess that I’ll talk to you all next week! =)
Love,
Elder Jared Rezendes