Monday, January 21, 2013

Dec. 31, 2012 A Fresh Start

P.S. I don´t have Marissa´s new email yet so please send it to her also.

Dear Family,

Thank you for chatting with me during Christmas (even though we went a little over time), I´m now even more pumped to share the gospel and render more service. Just to let you guys know, the next day for companionship study, we talked about activites and what we could do for this branch. It turns out that even though my companion has only been a member for a year and a half, he has a ton of ideas. In his last area, they always had activities. So we made this list with reasons why and how and presented it to the president of the branch that night (miércoles). He acepted it very well and said we had reason because they hadn´t done an activity in the branch for over a year. He presented those ideas and they discussed it with his new counselors and some other leaders (that´s probably the whole branch haha =). Then Domingo, during the priesthood and relief society hour, we talked about activites; the purpose of them, how we can do them, what we need to do, and how it accomplish´s the purpose of the church (with one of them being missionary work). It was well recieved and every was excited to do it. Tomorrow, we are actually implementing it with a pretty sweet activity.  Well, thank you for helping me and this area.

Just to let you guys know, on Friday, I hit my year mark. So I would like to take this opportunity to reflect on my one year in the mission and my plans for the next year. It´s also great because it´s new years ;).
So December 28, 2011, I entered the Provo MTC with my teacher being Hermana Jardín (now Gillon). Hi Lindsay and my first companion Elder Knight. We pretty much owned it up for the little three weeks that I was there. But those first days and weeks were the longest and seemed like an eternity. But I also learned a ton, about the mission, spanish, and just life. But it was time to move on. We then went to the CCM in Lima for 6 weeks. It was really cool being in the culture and everything, but we probably had more fun than actually learning... It was way smaller but more exciting than being in Provo. Everyone knew each other. The food was great. Some of the great opportunites was leaving the CCM to go preaching in the streets. It was hard, mostly because I didn´t understand much, but very rewarding. But after so much fun and getting fatter, it was time to get to work in the area that I belong.

In Bolivia, we spent our first 3 days in the temple´s hotel. There, we had an orientation and got our trainers. Mine was Elder Lopez from Ecuador, and then we went straight to our areas. My first one was in the city of Potosí, the oldest, coldest, and highest city in Bolivia (and second highest in the world). If I thought the rich part of Lima was a little bit of a culture shock, this was definently the extreme. My first day I threw up about 10 times. I couldn´t get anything down, even my own spit I would throw up. It was freezing cold everyday in the shade, but in the sun I got burnt so many times from the altitude. I also couldn´t understand anything for the first week and I don´t believe that they could understand me. I often asked myself what I was doing. But everyime that I got down, I was always comforted again by God, you guys, or other small things. My Spanish however did improve. I don´t remember exactly when it was, but started understanding people more and more, at least understand the concept of what they were talking about so that I could muster up at least something to say or a scripture to use. Even though with my trainer we only baptized one person (on my first week which I don´t really remember her), I still feel like I learned a ton and helped out people. Then two weeks before the end of my training, my trainer and another elder got in a fight with my Bishop (everyone says he´s the worst in the mission). They left many of the leaders in the meeting angry, without trust in us, and crying. That week was just terrrible. I can´t describe all things that happened but I will just say that my trainer and that elder left in an emergency transfer.
A week later, I got my next companion Elder Diaz from Ecuador. He was a very prideful person, but it´s because he´s had a hard life and by the grace of God, he´s on a mission (and ending this month). He wasn´t exactly the most obedient missionary either. But it was either his way or nothing. He also corrected me about everything after EVERY lesson. I mean, I was just starting here, you don´t have to be so mean and blunt all the time. But with this elder, I learned more about good teaching, speaking, behaving, and being humble. And with him, we had huge success. 7 great baptisms and many inactive people reactivated. I really saw the Lord´s hand in those last 3 months in Potosí.
Then I got my next transfer, Bella Vista, Cochabamba being a district leader with Elder Palacios from Peru. But really, It´s not in the city. I have a good view of it, but it´s an hour and a half away in the country. There are more cows, pigs, pollos, than people. How Fun! It´s actually really beautiful, like the opposite of Potosi. But there´s alot of work to be done. There´s not very many people that know about the Gospel and few active members (a billion inactive). I didn´t really know how to work in this area because they don´t really like gringos (Americans) and not very many people let us in. They also speak a different language (Quechua). It´s sweet. With Elder Palacios we had 3 baptisms (one being my new pensionista) in his last week.
Then Elder Injante from Peru came. He´s quieter and a little shy with the people, but when he gets talking, it´s by the spirit. We get along. We just need to work, work, and work in this area. We had a baptism that last week (and his marriage) and it looks like we might have some more in January, but only time will tell.
Even though I don´t have the most baptisms, I´m just proud to say that all of them are active. That´s what I really don´t want to happen with the people I´ve taught.
My goals for this next year:
I can also work harder and be more obedient.
More love for the people
Work with more authority and power
Finish strong in this last year until the end
and maybe get a 6 pack =)

Have a great 2013,
Elder Walker

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