Monday, March 24, 2014

My list of talents increase along with my humility


When I get home I am going to know everything about hjow to build my own house. This week, we patched a ceiling and spray painted with a home-made engine/air compressor. BATTABING BATTABOOM. Late this week, there is a good chance we will stucco a guys wall and ceiling, but I did that in my last areas so I´m pretty comfortable doing that.

So I just want to make it clear that my description last week of the piano situation was not in any way an exaggeration. It really was AWFUL. But as I am writing this letter, the bishop and another sister in the ward who takes care of the music have been calling me asking to play piano for a special musical number for sacrament meeting this sunday. I think the Men in Black came by and did that button-press-everyone-forgets-everything thing. I don´t know. Well at least this time I´ll know beforehand (not that I´ll have time to practice anyway, but oh well hahahah).

Sometimes as a missionary, you are on your feet all day. Like literally all day. From 10 in the morning to 9 at night, you might spend like 2 hours sitting down. I eat so so much but I don´t get fat because we spend all day walking sometimes. It is pretty crazy btu then also super awesome when you realize. Good times.

Also this week, I ate ceviche for the first time. It was a little sketchy making it and eating it here becuase there isn´t really fresh fish, but we made it happen and it was quite tasty and I didn´t even get sick. BOOYAH I have such a strong stomach these days.

So this lady that has a store in front of our apartment complex is an investigator of ours and she is super cool. She has like no times at all because her job and boss are LAME but we get to have some good chats in her store, she was able to escape her job one sunday and come to church, and she is just a really nice lady. (she is the one who went to Mass to give thanks for the things she had learned with us). She has had a hard time understanding the Restauration of the Gospel so this week, we tried a new method and left her the video of the Restauration (of abotu 19 minutes) so she could watch it in the free moments she has in the afternoons sometimes. We went by the next day to check up on how it went and she was like, "Oh it was such a beautiful video, I really loved it!" We were stoked. We asked her what she learned from the video. She told us that she learned about perserverance. . . .. .. . .. . . cool. We tried to talk about why she said she learned that and all this good stuff and man it was like a bummer. She didn´t really get it. Then she told us that she also liked how it was on  a farm and stuff. . .. . . . .. . .awesome. We are gonna have to try a new method. Something that I´ve learned is that you can´t push people to try to change or grow faster than what theycan do. Sometimes, we just see errors in people in what they do, what they say, how they are, and you can just get frustrsated. But what we have to do is just help them grow and learn and change, btu at their pace. Be patient and congratulate them for the things they accomplish and the steps they make and keep motivating them, but not push than they can run. Remember, it is not requisite that a man run faster than he has strength. That is the case with everyone here, investigators, missionaries, companions, members, leaders, everyone. It is also true back there. If you feel frustrated with the progress (or lack thereof) of another person, try to practice the eternal virtue of patience.

I love you allllllllllllllllllllllllllll. I send you all virtual abrazos. if you don´t get that last word, google it and practice your spanish.



I feel like every one of my emails could have the title "New Experiences", but this week especially needed that title. Later on you will find out why....

Remember those candy bars named Baby Ruth? (Of course you remember them, you aren´t in Colombia) Well this week I met one of our investigators daughters named "Ruth Baby". And she is so cool. She is black and black people always hav the coolest names. Imagine that name with a black spanihs accent. It is the coolest ever and her dad is a super good investigator so allllll´s good there.

Yesterday in church, they made me play piano again and it was a DISASTER and embarrassing but soooooo funny. So they told me I was gonna play like seconds before the meeting started and didn´t like ask me if I could play the hymns or if I knew them or anything so that like helped my already enormous nerves of playing ht epiano in church. For the first hymn, the director started leading before I could even sit down at he piano to start playing and he just picked like a random note to start it so I just let them go and it was awkward and awesome and I didn´t play. The second song, I kinda could play, but up until this point that day I hadn´t been able to touch the piano and the soft petalwas locked so it had the softest and ugliest sound during the whole song. The third hymn was a song that I have never seen nor heard in my life. So during the talks, I was reading it and playing it in my head and had it firgured out decently but it was like fast so I was just going to have to wing it. Turns out that not a single person in the ward knew it either. Not even the ward´s leadership up in front. I fought to play the intro, my comp told me I was playing to wrong hymn and stopped me, but the bishop and his counselors assured me that I was on the right number and the right title adn was doing fine. So I replayed the intro. Then nobody knew when to come in nor the rhythm nor the words nor anything. And I didn´t know how to play. Blessed from the big guy upstairs, my hands kept moving and my half came out alright and kept the rhythm cooking. Everyone sat down laughing and confused. Then the last hymn thankfully the congregation knew, but it is fast and hard with a lot of accidentals and it was giving me a whirl. To speak frankly, it absolutely trashed me. I was sooo much more nervous every verse and it is a two pager with 4 verses. I wanted to jsut die, but I had to jsut keep going. It was awful. (also, the people here know it but sing it like wrong so even when I had the piano like decent, I wasn´t in agreement with them). I hate playing the piano in front of people with all of my heart.

Today I had one of those "went to the store to buy peanut butter, came home with 10 bags of groceries but without peanut butter" moments. All I wanted was one of the big bags of cheap oatmeal. Oh well, next time I guess hahaha.

Attention BYU people who know what NuSkin is: last week we met a young couple down here who work for NuSkin and they are so cool. We contacted them on the street and they said, "Oh yeah we´ve heard a lot about the church and seen a lot because we travel to the states and Utah a lot and we´ve always had questions but never wanted to break the work/beliefs barrier and ask." They are soooo coooool and super interested. We have another appointment tomorrow!

So being here, sketchy things always happen. You see some bad stuff go down, you see some sketchy people, crazy old ladies on drugs chase you down the street trying to touch your booty, all kinds of stuff. But last saturday, I think I had a highlight experience. Unforgettable moments. A moment I will always racistly connect to my memories of living during two years in Colombia. I got held at machete point by a 12 year-old (okay he might have been 14, but they are all smaller here so he looked 12). It was like 8:15 at night and we were walking from one appointment to another, going by a path we travel often and where there is a decent amount of light and people. Some little punk kid comes up to us and asks us for 200 pesos (like a dime) and gets all up in my face (well more my chest, he was very short). The punk starts like getting all tough starts grabbing my shirt and my nametag (I don´t like when strangers touch me) and started grabbing my pockets and my legs and hips too (weirdo). Then he pulls a machete ouf of the back of his pants and hold it to my like sternum (the highest the poor little kid could probably reach) and was like telling me to give him all of my money. I was just like, "Ummmmm what´re you doing?" and my comp was like, "Dude WHAT´RE YOU DOING" and then the little kid´s buddy was like, "Bro I don´t thinik they´re from here," and they two of them left. It was soooo weird. It was funny too, but like a minute or two after. Its a good thing that the kid didn´t try to get any more tough on us cause it would´ve hurt me on the inside to hit a little child, but if the rat wants to pull out a machete on me and get all tough then LET´S DANCE, LITTLE BOY ahhaha. (Don´t worry mom, the dumb kid didn´t even steal my sweet gringo pen, which would´ve beena  tragic loss and I would´ve been really bummed.) 

So yeah, being a missionary is actually the most exciting thing ever. It has so many fun moments and it truly is a blast. You should all try it sometimes (but if you don´t wanna do that last part I did that´s totally cool too).

PS Liliana is the best ever. She and her 11 year-old son are getting baptized at the end of the month and she is already connected to the LDS group of facebok and chatting to members all over the world and reading the Book of Mormon and Gospel Principles and praying and the best. It literally feels like it´s all a big joke when we teach her, like it can´t be true or somthing. She is sooooooooooo ready and has so much faith. a few times in the appointment after listening to her talk, I just laughed because it was so ridiculous how awesome she is. It is like the best feeling in the whole wide world, helping someone on that way. Man, it seriously ROCKS.

Wellllllllllll LIFE IS GOOD. I hope all is well wherever yálls are. (the spanish keyboard doesn´t want me to write y´alls).

Elder Praff


MY LIFE IS SO CRAZY. This week my companion and I had like the craziest experience ever in my life. It was AMAZING.

SOOOOOOOOO yesterday in the chapel after sacrament meeting, a new sister who we didn´t know (and from the looks of her a member of yearssss) came up to us and asked us where she was supposed to go for the next class. We got to talking and turns out she wasn´t a member, but it was her second time in a meeting with us and wanted to learn more. She had seen our chapel and was looking for God in her life and went online and found a bunch of stuff that she loved and looked online for the chapel schedule and came last week to church. It was stake conference, so she got there a few hours early and some members told her to come back later and she went at the different hour, was there alone, and went home alone without talking to anyone. She said she loved it and decided to come back again this week. She was in all three hours, went to Gospel Principles and loved it and participated and even gave the closing prayer (and it was a BEAUTIFUL prayer) and wow. She started telling us a bit more and how the missionaries visited her family when she was about 14 (she is about 30) and her family didn´t really like it but she did and the image always stayed in the back of her mind. She asked us about how she could buy a Book of Mormon, how she could pay her tithing, and even signed up to give us lunch this Saturday!!! It was like the best thing of my entire life. I was so so so so so so happy that I almost screamed like a small girl (but I didn´t, don´t worry). It was like the best ever. Keep Liliana in your prayers so she can keep progressing!

Well after that, like everything else in the week basically seemed super unimportant. I have had a cold like a loser, but I have all the cool colombian tricks to get rid of a cold faster, like agua panela con limón and noraver and all the good stuff. Also today, we were playing soccer as a zone and it was a blast. There was one funny moment when we were playing micro (soccer, but with a smaller weighted ball and you play on a basketball court and with these small goals) and I tried to be a hero and nail this one header in, but the goalie also tired to be a hero and decided to, instead of using his hands, head, or shoulder, kick the ball and just kicked me in the head. I´m like decently tall and wasn´t really bent over to try to header it so he had to go karate kid on me and nailed me in the head. Luckily he didn´t kick very hard qand it was jkust the side of my head. It was funny. I don´t really have too much of a headache anymore ahhahaa. (for those of you who were worried more about the goal than my life, I didn´t hit the ball cause my head was pushed out of the way by his foot, but one of my teammates hit it in and we scored so DON´T WORRY)

The lame thing about living int he city of Bogotá is the food prices. In the little pueblos (like my last two areas), fruit is soooooo cheap and it is the best ever. But here in the city, it is a JOKE. In my last area, I would buy papaya like almost every day because a big one costs 800 pesos (like 40 cents) but here in the city, I bought one of the same size for 2600 pesos (like 1.15 dollars) and I WAS SO MAD but its okay. Its still kinda cheap when you put it in gringo perspective, but APOSTASY for my colombian self. We are working on it.

The fruit here has a good side and a bad side. In the states, you guys have a wide variety of all perfectly little genetically altered fruit - fruit that is great, but the drop the potential quality a bit so all is good instead of having some good and some not so great. Here, it is allllll natural baby, which means the fruit is soooooo RICH and DELICIOUS and it is the best ever. DOWNSIDE: because its not genetically altered (like the mandarin and orange for example), my fruit comes with seeds. Sometimes when you are so hungry and not paying attention, you swallow the seeds and then just feel like you are going to get apendicitis (I cannot remember how to spell that in english). It is a dangeruos but delicious game.

THOUGHT OF THE WEEK: I think it was like Eleanor Roosevelt (or maybe Grandma Baker, I don´t remember) that said something like, "He who takes offense when none was intended is a fool. He who takes offense when it was intended is probably a fool too." I am a fool. Don´t be a fool. Either type. I am trying not to be such a fool. Join me in the fight against foolishness.


Elder Pratch

(One of these days I am going to write a letter in spanish just so you all try to remember your Freshman spanish class that you slept through or try to put in in Google Translate and get frustrated when nonsense comes out. Or maybe you´ll just think I have bad grammar. Whatever.)



I left my notes in my other agenda in the house soooo I´m going to have to try to remember everything. 

WE HAD TRANSFERSSSSSS and ............. NOTHING CHANGEDDDD Im still here in Suba with Elder Landa. we own this place. 

SULMA GOT BAPTIZED and it was the best thing ever. she shared her testimony at the end and MAN it was just crazy. she has such a strong testimony of the Book of Mormon and her faith is amazing. She is the bomb.

A NEW DRUNK GUY CAME UP TO ME on saturday and he, with his crossed eyes, stared at me a long time without saying anything. Then he looked at my nametag and tried to read my name but then he confessed that he " couldn´t see so well." I tried to help him by saying it, but he ended up hearing "Elber Praff". Then, recognizing my gringo-features and getting to the conclusion that I spoke no spanish at all, he put his hand on his chest like Tarzan and grunted out "John. John. JOHN." I politely responded, "Good afternoon." He then continued staring at my nametag and, with all of thhe focus that he could muster out, he read the name of Christ. He then affirmed that he "liked that church" and that he "was a big fan of the Bible." I congratulated and tried to not pay attention to my laughing companion. I don´t know why they all find me so interesting. I wish they wouldn´t ahha.

We have found some reallly good new investigadores of late. As a mission we are really pushing the "talk with everyone" thing right now and sometimes we find some pretty great people. We are working right now with a man named Wilson who is from the Colombian coast. He is super cool and a man of a lot of faith. the majority of the men from the coastal areas (mostly people of African descendance) are sooo great. They are really faithful and know that God is more important that anything else. A lot of people here have a hard time making time to talk to us, go to church, or even do the little things like praying and reading. But Wilson has been a stud. he works like soooo many hours a week (work hour laws here like dont matter) but he makes appointments with us in his sleeping time so we can chat. Even though he has no time hardly to think, he always makes time to do the reading assignments we leave and not just reads them, but understands, ponders, and comes to such great conclusions. He has a huge desire to put his life in order and repent. It is amazing. Also, he is already married (one in a hundred here)!!!! if he keeps goign how he is going right now, he is getting baptized the 29th of march!!

THE MISSION IS COOL. If you haven´t done it, you should try it sometime. If you ca´t go out full time, go out on visits with the Sisters or Elders. It is a blast!




As you may have seen in the subject, I HAVE SO MUCH TO SAY AND NO TIMEEEEEEE but here goes nothing:

IT RAINED SO MUCH THIS WEEK AND SO HARD. THAT IS SOMETIMES ANNOYING but sometimes its fantastic because here in Bogotá with the sun and the altitude it just gets so hot sometimes. It´s a good thing I use sunscreen (but the sunscreen, I discovered, is what has been staining my shirts. STUCK BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE).

This week in church they made me give a talk, which is fine, but they told me right as the meeting was gonna start. That´s totally fine and plenty of time, but then somebody told them that I played piano (BUMMER) so they made me play piano hahahaha. I hate playing piano in church but its better than using the bishops cell phone and the microphone hahah

SULMA IS AMAZINGGGGGGG we had a lesson with her yesterday where we were helping her prepare for the baptismal interview and at one point, my comp asked her, "Why do you want to get baptized?" She responded, "Well I want to cleanse myself of my sins and make covenants with God."  SHE IS THE BEST EVERRRRRRRRRR. I have never seen someone more repented and ready to change in my life. It is a pleasure have been able to participate in her progress. Her baptism is this week!!!

A TAXI GUY THOUGHT I WAS ARGENTINIAN. That means my spanish is getting more native! But I can´t be Colombian cause not that many colombians are as white and blue eyed as me. But a lot of Argentinians are and the well-traveled-taximan thought I was Argentinian! I love when stuff like that happens!

Doris, and investigator of ours, went to a special session of Mass last wednesday to show her thanks to God for the things she has learned with us! She told us and my comp and I were like hmmmmmmmm well awesome! We are gonna try to help her understand a bit more of the Great Apostasy and the Restoration.

YESTERDAY when we were outside on the street waiting to meet some other Elders, A DRUNK GUY CAME UP and told us a bunch of stuff. He was mainly focused on me cause I´m foreign and HE WAS CRAZY. He was telling us a lot of stuff that he deffffffffinately should not have told us... I was jsut trying to tell the poor guy to shut up and go home, but he wouldn´t stop talking and telling me things that I just don´t wan to know ahhaha. That was a fun little conversation. But then he gave us some bread at the end so its all good cause we were super hungry ahahha. Being a missionary s sometimes weird.

THURSDAY, they cut our WATER. longgggg story. But then we paid and they should´ve reconnected it and yada yada yada but the weren´t going to reconnect our water back until TUESDAY. But that was not waht the contract said. So on Saturday, I made a phone call. They phone answer people canb´t do anything really, but I (respectfully, don´t worry mom) made it very clear that what they were doing was NOT OKAY and TOTALLY AGAINST THE CONTRACT and let´s just say I pushed some buttons. But they said maybe Tuesday we´d have our water back. Well. So we left, worked normal and all, and when we got home that night, we had water again. BATTABING BATTABOOM made it happen, yo.

Okay, well I hope y´alls are doing well! I love you all! 

Elder Pratch (we have a brazilian sister in our zone and she has a hard time with my name)




SOOO this week was a week of some super cool moments. We had a killer meeting with our mission president and it was awesome. It is crazy how many things you just don´t know and just gotta do better. My comp and I left super pumped and ready to get the show on the road. We are gonna take this place DOWNNNNNN

and we are gonna start with Sulma´s baptism. After a bunch of junk with her jobs and her son and this neighbor´s kid who like needed plastic surgery from a crazy fall and a whole group of weird stuff, she finally got to come to church with us yesterday!!!! She had been going to church before she moved here (like a few months ago) but will a crazy amount of stuff, she hadn´t been able to be with us on Sundays but now she can. She is amazing. She has sooooo much faith and is so humble. She was having hard time accepting a baptism date because she feels so guilty for her past mistakes and problems and a bunch of stuff (thta she, by the way, left alllll behind before she even met the missionaries because she is just a woman of true, accion-filled faith) but she now is super pumped and will be baptized in 2 weeks. We are soo happy for her. Keep her in your prayers so everything goes well with her job and her son so she can be perfectly ready for the 22nd of February!!!!

Soooooooo my comp and I were walking down the street after an appointment and we were just like going totally normal and boom I saw on the side of the street a dead guinea pig. As we walked by, I was like "man that´s like pretty gross" and he said "what?" and so I pointed to the dead guinea pig. He turned, we walked backa few steps, and stopped and were looking at it for like a minute just like bummed out and a little bit grossed out (well he was bummed out because in Peru the eat them and they are delicious and a bit expensive, and I was bummed cause it was like sad but also just pretty gross). So we were just like looking at it and this lady walked by and stopped and was like "Oh man thats so sad blah blah blah" so what does my comp do? True to our goal of talking to EVERYONE and contacting like EVERYONY, he goes "Have you ever seen missionaries like us before?" and she says no, we talk a tiny bit about our message and stuff, and then we are just there staring at the dead guinea pig again. then, Using the exact same sentence, wording, and tone of his voice, my comp asks, "Have you ever seen a dead guinea pig like this one before?" (In this moment, you have to remember who I am and my personality) I just lost it. I just starting laughing out loud because it was just tooo much for me. Man, I love street contacting. You just have to take advantage of teh situations that God puts in your way. But now, we have an appointment later this week with Sandra.

IN CASE YOU DIDN´T KNOW, Enya makes really relaxing music and while only good in small doses, it is quite nice.

HA so this week I got a bit sick from some food that we got and at one point I asked my comp if we could stop by the house for a sec. He responded, "Don´t worry bro, I´ve had almost all Gringo comps." What a great guy, am I right??? empathetic. My comp is such a pal! :)


Elmer Praff


That doesn´t quite sound how I want to. But I don´t really care hahah. What it is supposed to mean is that my comp and I are PROS at helping people move. In the 3 weeks we have been together here in Suba, we have done 4 moves. It is crazy how many people our moving in our area and in our district. We have done a crazy amount of moves and service activities, including Saturday morning we put down a cement floor in this members house. It was INTENSE but super fun. we are prety much tearing it up over here hahaha.

The work here in Suba is a blast, we are working super hard and trying even harder to find new people. Sometimes it is so awkward to just like stop someone in the street walking and contact them, but sometimes it totally gives killer results. We are working hard to talk to EVERYONE. I feel so uncomfortable sometimes but you just like do it and throw it down and it can be pretty fun.

I don´t know if you guys remember my theory about Dopple-Latins, but it is true and going strong. I think that there just ahs to be a limit of different combinations of nose, eyes, face, mouth, and, everything that sometimes it is just the same exact person, just with like slightly darker skin and hair hahaha. It always makes me laugh. 

SOOOOOOO we have this one investigator named Sulma and she is sooooo great. She like knew she had to attend church, so before she even had her next job lined up good, she just quit and made it happen. She then spends all of her free time (which doesnt exist hardly) reading the Book of Mormon and STUDYING it. Like she is like "Oh hey so I was reading this story about Nephi and his brothers and man it was really touching my heart and then I read this one verse where Nephi says ´I will go and do because the Lord prepares the way´ and I was like crying because it was so true and that´s how he has been with me in my life!" Wouldn´t it be great if we all just studied that example of her? If so many of us have testimonies and believe things or even know things, why don´t we act with the faith that she acts with? Everytime we talk to here, I just leave feeling so pumped and ready to do everything better. Man, THE MISSION IS SO COOL.

Humility is a crazy thing. It is so intense. Remember that scripture that says that the guilty take the truth to be hard? If someone is trying to help you and tells you that you can be better in something (they can say it nicely or not so nicely), don´t get mad. It you are getting mad, it is because you are not being humble and instead are being prideful. I learned that this week. Well, I learned it more. Or again. Sometimes I am dumb and need a couple of tried to learn things. BUt yeah, humility is super hard but like super the key to like all of the happiness in the world. TRUE LIFE


Elder Pratt