Tuesday, April 28, 2009

April 27, 2009

Hola,

OF COURSE I ATE THE FISH EYES! It´s just plain good manners. I didn´t eat much else really interesting this week, but I wouldn´t have a choice of eating it or not anyway. Most of the time the people cook the food and watch me eat it. I think they want to know what the norte americano thinks of their food.
Well, we started companionship exchanges this week, so I went to the Zone leaders´ area for a day since my companion is the district leader. While I was gone one of our investigators committed to be baptized! Our first while I´ve been here. Did I tell you about my area? It´s one of the richest parts of Colombia. It has a lot of apartment buildings that we´re not allowed to knock doors in, so we do all our
contacts in the street. It is also the lowest baptizing area in the mission and a while back my ward got dissolved because there weren´t enough active members. But it´s nice here, so the area presidency live in our area when they´re not travelling to other parts of Colombia, or Ecuador or Venezuela.
About the Spanish, I am not having too hard a time, I know that in time, with study and practice, I´ll get it. I work very hard, let me be clear about that. The people are very nice and understanding, and I feel very comfortable here. My Spanish is coming along fine... However, for the first week when I talked to people, they´d always say, ¨Oh, you comprehend well for a week (or however many days)¨ But after the first week they stopped saying that. I can understand most of what they say now, as long as they´re from Bogotá. It really is very clear and much slower than other forms of speaking spanish, I can already tell. Yesterday in our ward council meeting, I even understood what was going on. By next transfer I´ll be doing just fine.
Last Friday we had a conference with Quentin L. Cook. He gave a wonderful talk I was able to completely understand. You may also be interested in how he gave us an apostolic blessing for our work here. He also promised that whatever our circumstances at home are, this is the best possible thing we could be doing at this point in our lives. It will bring blessings not only to us and the people we serve, but also to our families and friends back home.
We also went to the temple this last week, all in Spanish. So that was kinda
interesting. The temple is also in my area, and it´s the only one in Colombia.
Well that´s about all for this week.
Love,
Elder Rickords

PS. You can reach me through DearElder, but that will take a while, so just have everyone else do that. Send packages to the mission office without valuable in them, and looking very Catholic like, with Crucifixes, Virgin Marys, and the works. You are the only contact I have had with the platano-free world for the past three weeks, so please encourage others to write me.
Hope you all are well back home, and that you do OK with your job. Nos vemos.

Friday, April 17, 2009

April 13, 2009

Hola,

We all got here on Tuesday night and everything was fine. We met the President and the assistants, and by Thursday morning transfers were over and we started to work. I can´t understand what these people are saying, it´s like they speak a completely different language. I cannot understand even the people who speak slowly. Oh well, the people here are nice. I have been assigned to Teirra Linda, one of the richest parts of Bogota. We have one progressing investigator, and we can't go tracting because the houses here all have guards that would kick us out. My companion is Elder Alvarado, he is from Costa Rica and doesn't speak any English. But he's nice and loves the work so I think we'll get along fine. The apartment is pretty quiet though, since it's just the two of us and we speak different languages.

Bogota is fine. It´s a lot like the US, and not too dangerous. It´s really cloudy though, and we have thunder and lightening every day. It´s also pretty cool, so we always wear our jackets while proselyting in the city. Our first night in Bogota we had hamburgers, probably to make us feel at home but in a way it was disappointing. So I was thinking that the food here was the same as the US, but the other day we had lunch with a member family and they served us whole fish. They told me to eat it and so I did. I ate what they ate, namely the meat, skin, fins, tail, and eyes. It actually wasn´t that bad. We have a lot of rice here, and a lot of juice. The only thing I´m sick of right now are platanos. Platanos are bananas that are cooked or fried. They are warm, squishy, and way too sweet. I need to work on liking them because I gag when I eat them, even though we have them every day...yay.

Well, don´t worry. It´s safe here and the people are really nice, but apparently it´ll take 2 to 3 more months to be able to understand them, at least that´s how long the other gringoes took.

Con amor,Elder Rickords

PS is this long enough? I´ll be able to write more once I understand what´s going on.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

This was the letter we received the day after Elder Rickords entered the Bogota Mission. It is from his Mission President.


April 8th, 2009



Good Afternoon from Colombia,We just wanted to inform you and let you know that all of your sons arrived safely here to Bogotá. Your sons are great young men who are really ready to serve the lord. Even though they haven’t gotten much sleep these past few days your sons are eager to put their shoulder to the will and get to work! You can really tell that they have been raised by good families and we want to thank you for all your work and your support! Colombia is a beautiful country and it is marvelous place to be and especially to do missionary work!

The people here are so loving and are so grateful to have North American missionaries again! They are really humble and will give everything they have so that your sons can be comfortable even if it means sacrificing for them. The relationship that your sons make will be life long, and the missionary experience will really improve their social skills. It is really a blessing that your sons are here in Colombia and will be able to learn and speak Spanish! It will be a blessing not only to the people here in Colombia, but it will be a blessing to them throughout and after the mission as they take this with them into positions of leadership in the church, and work in the outside world! We just want you to know that your sons will always be protected and that Colombia is really a safe place. We have received more than twenty North Americans here in the mission and a lot of them have already finished their mission and we just want you to know that nothing has ever happened to them, in fact most of them didn´t even want to leave! Thanks again for everything and your support will be a great help to the Elders in their development of becoming an effective instrument in the hands of the lord.



P.S. Here below I have attached a picture of the Elders after our breakfast that we had together this morning.



Una Brazo Fuerte,Hernando CamargoPresidente Misión Bogotá Norte

March 13, 2009

Dear Folks,

Thankyou for all your letters. I hope you know that they do not make me homesick, and I like to know what's going on. Say hi to everyone for me, and give them my love. How is everyone? Is there anything new in beautiful Burbank? How's Matthew enjoying his own room?

This week we taught our first lesson entirely in spanish. It was hard, but we did well and we felt the Spirit. From now on we will teach the gospel only in Spanish for the next two years. We're working hard to improve our spanish, and we sit by the nativos at lunch. They have to learn english, and we need to learn spanish, so we talk a lot. In class we have covered almost all Spanish grammar and I can understand much of the scriptures in spanish.

This week's speaker was Elder Hamula of the Seventy. He spoke on the Plan of Salvation and our true purpose as missionaries. It was a good talk, and very powerful. Also, in another large group meeting, we learned about baptizing. I want you all to know that "the field is white" not just in a few missions, but all over the world. Sometimes in the church we say that some missions have little hope of baptizing people, but I want you to know that the prophets disagree. These are the latter days, and the Lord is gathering his elect across the face of the Earth. It is not incorrect to want a lot of baptisms, in fact that is a missionary's primary purpose. I also want to baptize many people so they can have the blessings I have recieved in my life.

Also, we go to the Temple every Friday. There is one family who went to England and found records and names of 70,000 people, I want to go back to England after my mission is over to see the rest of my family again, and also to see if I can do some family history work. But that is for later, and to every thing there is a season.

I want you all to know that I love this work. I am grateful for this opportunity to serve and help others come unto Christ, even if it is very hard. I testify that this church is true, that the power of God is again on the Earth, and that there are living prophets to guide and direct us today. Most of all I bear testimony of the redeeming love of our Savior and the infinite power of his Atonement. That all may be clean and stand blameless if they only obey the commandments and repent. And I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

With lots of love, Elder Rickords
Feb 20, 2009

Dear Family,

Thankyou for the letter. I sincerely appreciate it, since letters are VERY important to a new missionary. About my companion, his name is Elder Michael Larson and he is from Kayesville(?) Utah. He is very excited to be out here, and is very obedient and willing to learn. we work well together and have many things in common, but sadly not a deep love for movie quotes...

My classes are great. I have two great teachers, Hermano Allen and Farrell. We learn about how to teach, use Preach My Gospel, and speak Spanish. We do not have classes on Colombia, since the only missionaries that went there are old enough to have a higher paying job, or else aren't back yet. However, all the Elders going to Colombia have had problems with their visas and have been stuck here for up to 12 weeks. oh boy.

We go to the temple every week on Friday morning, and then it's P-day till dinner at 5 o'clock.

I do have to write a talk each week, but I have not had to give one yet. I’ve just prayed in spanish in front of the branch. This week we had M Russell Ballard as our speaker. He gave a very good talk on missionary work, of course. I enjoyed it heartily. We sang Called to Serve, but we don't stand up unless an Apostle walks into the room.

My district is fine, but we have no hermanas of our own. Thanks for the package also. It lets people know somebody loves me. Well, love ya lots, but my time is through. So please write me, and until next week, goodbye!

Elder Rickords