Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Colombia can be a little dangerous... Buenaventura maybe a lot

So this was a news article that appeared on the BBC after we got a phone call from Salt Lake informing us that they had talked to the missionaries and had taken all precautionary steps to ensure their safety.
Waited to post this till all was well.

Colombia's Buenaventura on alert after 'rebel' attack
Residents fear gangs may take advantage of the power cut to commit crimes under the cover of darkness
Authorities in the Colombian city of Buenaventura, on the Pacific coast, have temporarily banned the sale of alcohol and the carrying of arms.
The measure comes after an electricity tower was blown up on Monday, leaving 450,000 residents without power.
President Juan Manuel Santos blamed the attack on left-wing Farc rebels and said recent attacks such as that on the port city were threatening ongoing peace talks with the guerrillas.
He said Farc "were playing with fire".
Unbearable heat
Buenaventura, Colombia's most important port on the Pacific coast, and a city already wracked by gang violence, suffered a power cut on Monday evening.
Many homes in Buenaventura are basic at best. They now lack power too.
Hospitals, health centres, schools and the homes of almost half a million people were affected.
Residents reported conditions quickly becoming unbearable in the hot and humid climate.
At first the authorities thought the power station had been attacked, but after flying over the rural area surrounding Buenaventura, the military said at least one key pylon had been blown up.
Locals reported hearing an explosion just before the power went out.
Buenaventura Mayor Bartolo Valencia asked the military to secure the area to allow workers to re-establish the cut-off lines as soon as possible, but the energy company says it could take up to three days.
Fear of the dark
Buenaventura was left without power for three days once before in 2012 after a similar rebel attack.
Buenaventura has one of the highest murder rates in Colombia
Hospitals and the offices of the port authority have generators, but residents say they have no way of keeping their basic foodstuff refrigerated.
The power cut came just days after 16,000 people were left without water when an aqueduct was blown up in eastern Meta province, an attack which has also been attributed to the Farc,
President Santos warned the rebels that he would end peace talks unless the group stopped targeting civilians.
Government and rebel negotiators have been meeting since November 2012 and have reached agreement on three key agenda issues, but many Colombians are getting impatient with the slow pace of the talks.
Mr Santos said he would travel to Buenaventura later on Wednesday for a security summit.
Local authorities fear gang members may take advantage of the darkness to drive up Buenaventura's record murder rate even further.

Rawly go to send a quick mid-week email to assure us that all was well
July 31st
So hey:
So President Pricoli wanted us to send you a letter just in case you are worried, everything is okay here, there is no need to worry. Everything is under control and I'll talk to you this Monday. 
It's like a just in case you are worried letter :) 
I love you sooo soooo sooo much! 
It's actually pretty cool living without electricity in a huge city, lots of candles hahaha and we are in the house at 6:30 in the afternoon so that nothing happens, don't-cha worry. 
Love you to the moon and back

So glad this part of the "adventure" is over!

Monday, July 28, 2014


It’s hot. 
So incredibly hot. 
You have no idea. But I think that I am getting used to it. 

So let me tell you all the stuff that happened to me this week, although I have very short time. 

First:  Brandon 
Brandon Castaño is Venezuelan. He is Colombian by birth but grew up in Venezuela. He has had a rough life and he is only 16.
Last Sunday we were walking down the street when I hear someone say, “ELDER!”
I looked around but I didn’t see anyone but a semi-gangster teenager behind me but he wasn’t looking at me 
Second time “ELDER!” 
I looked around but still didn’t see anyone.
The third time “ELDER!!!!”
I look at the kid behind me it had to be him. He looks up from his feet and sure enough it’s him, and he is crying. He introduced himself as a member of the church from Venezuela but it’s been a long time since he has been to church. He was kicked out of Venezuela because he had a difficult situation go on with the guerilla’s there. He had two choices, stay at home and be killed or run. So he ran. In the middle of the night he crossed the border in a serious of trucks and stunts that honestly a 16-year-old boy normally could not do. He reached Medellin, Colombia with only the clothes on his back and started to walk knowing that he had family in Cali and Buenaventura. 4 days after he had left he got to Buenaventura in a bus, and as he was in the bus station he asked for help using his nationality by birth, Colombian, although he had never been in Colombia before in his life. They called his mom and she brought his clothes to him. He is now living with his mom’s aunt and uncle that both he and his mom met for the first time about a week ago. He is a little rough around the edges but has gotten pretty attached to us. He has tattoos up and down his arms and tattoos on his lip. He is super awesome and is changing his life, starting from zero. 

The other experience was the most amazing lesson of my mission with a recent convert called Bryan. 
Bryan is 22 years old and can serve a mission so we went to his house, my companion, Hermano Árias and I. We had the most incredible lesson where I shared the reason why I decided to serve a mission, including the talk given in General Conference in October of 2012 about the bees working on the beehive. He cried, and said he knew he had to go on a mission. We told him he needed to ask God if it is what he needed to do and we left. 20 minutes latter the phone rings, its Bryan and he says to us: How do I start the paperwork. 
Everyone was so excited because he would be the first missionary from Buenaventura in the history of the branch of 130 people. We were working with him and then before sacrament Bryan left crying from the Chapel. After sacrament we went to visit him only to find that the previous day he found out that his girlfriend is pregnant. In an instant and only 4 days after he made the decision to leave on a mission his opportunities were crushed. 

Satan works to destroy our hopes and dreams, just when we think we are on the right path is when he will try anything possible to drag us down. In these moments we cannot let him win and we must follow the example of Peter as he started to cross the water towards the Savior. As Peter began to sink he extended his hand and asked for the support of his Savior. We must do the same. 

We must ask for the help that we need and we will be made strong. 

I love this gospel please keep going. 

Buenaventura is super cool. It’s mega ghetto, like... honestly super ghetto. However I’m safe because everyone is fascinated with Americans here it’s awesome. I’m constantly listening to 2-Pac, Eminem, Snoop Dog as loud as the speakers can play. The house can be falling down but the families have the latest equipment in listening to music.
The life he revolves around music. 

I love you all so much 

I leave you with the challenge:

To think about a youth near you that is passing through difficult times. Show the youth your love and support and that you care about him/her.
I know you can do it. 

Onward ever Onward

Elder Lyle 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Pictures from my new area

My new area
La Costa

Shower Time
Gotta love the shower head in the new apartment

My companion cleaning the disgusting trash
Everything here rots after one day

Elder Sacco &
Elder Donoso

What it looks like around here

Elder Inman, SoCalifornia
Elder Tolentine, Peru
Elder Donso, Argentina

I'm Drowning on Air

Hey Family,
Okay so let me tell you that Buenaventura is HOT! 
Holy cow its incredible. It’s 95 to 100 degrees every day and the humidity is like 98 percent, it rains every day. When you leave the apartment you are sweating going down the stairs but then you have to walk all over the hills and you are absolutely drenched. Everyone told me that I’ll get used to sweating constantly that it’s just part of the life style in Buenaventura. I hope their right.
We aren’t even allowed to bring our suits here to because they rot, ha-ha, awesome right.

The majority of the people here in Colombia are what you would call Afro-Colombiano's, the majority are black and I’ve come to accept that I’m one of the more whiter people here. Although I have met plenty of Colombians that are blonde haired and blue eyed but here in Buenaventura I am the whitest thing for MILES.

Everyone here loves American’s, I don’t know why. Also everyone loves to try to speak English. Every companionship here in the Zone is a Latin and an American pair, that way everyone is safer. American’s the majority of the time are very safe here in Buenaventura because people love them. I’ll be walking down the street here, dripping wet, when I hear off to my left, ¨What’s up dude! ¨ Ha-ha.

My zone is pretty awesome. I’m with the famous Elder Rowley, super weird to hear everyone say that, hahaha. Elder Donoso from Jamundi and I are living together again. Right now I am living in an apartment with Elder Sacco from Utah, Elder Campos, my companion, and Elder Donoso from Argentina. 

This Saturday we had interviews with the new president of the mission. It was super awesome to finally get to know President and Sister Prìcoli on a one on one basis. The president’s assistant’s had to leave and go back to Cali so we were in charge of the President and Sister Pricoli who were dying of the humidity. We brought them to a baptism, which was super awesome. We did it where everyone does baptisms here, in the pool. Yes I know I’m on the coast and we could do it in the ocean, however no one even dares to enter the water, it's SUPER DIRTY, like your coming out of the water with no hair and a deformity of some type. The baptism was awesome and then we got to drive around with President in his air-conditioned car…. such a blessing air conditioning I had completely forgot that it even existed.

This week we had an awesome week, well of course we did because we are in the Turín Turán and it’s the best zone in the whole mission because the people here are super happy, super humble, and love American’s.

We are teaching 30 lessons weekly. It’s CRAZY. I LOVE IT. 
Last week we even taught lesson 3 in English! I’ve been teaching my companion English.

We are all loving La Costa; it’s what the zone is called. It’s a new branch the church started here like 2 years ago so everyone in the church are recent converts. The zone leaders are in charge of the church… yeah that’s right.  
Let me just say, I’m nervous. 
We meet with the branch president weekly and we also meet with the presidency of every organization, Primary, Relief Society, Young Men, Young Women and Quorum of Elders. We make sure that everything is going good and that no one changes church doctrine. It’s really interesting how easy these people can bring their influence from other religions to the Church of Jesus Christ. We are in charge to make sure they aren’t making to many mistakes and to teach them the why behind what we do. 
For example when we are blessing the bread and water for sacrament we do not stand up with our hands raised and shout, ¨THE BLESSING OF THE BREAD, OH GOD THE ETERNAL FATHER…¨ ha-ha, we simply kneel and begin the prayer ¨Oh God, the Eternal Father…¨. 
Or when we are giving testimonies we do not throw ourselves on the ground because we feel the holy ghost, we stand there and express our feelings or we enjoy his presence silently and secretly. But the branch is getting better.

Truth is, the branch is HUGE, 120 people attended church yesterday. That’s more than those who attend in Bugalagrande, my last area, where we were getting around 70 people every week even though the ward has been there for 25 years.

Buenaventura is a once in a lifetime experience. I’m so honored to be here and to have the great honor to serve my zone every day.

That brings me to what is the Great Apostasy.
It’s so easy to see how the Church of Jesus Christ disappeared after the death of the Apostles and Jesus Christ. Here the church is about 2 years old and people stray from the doctrine, why? Because they don’t have all the answers and they’ve never learned what they are. When the Apostles were writing their letters back and forth there is something very interesting that happened in a letter that Paul wrote to the Galatians. In it he talks that they had strayed greatly from the doctrine of Christ in only years after his departure from the Galatians.  The church was lost after the death of the Apostles and the largest Christian denomination church was established 300 years afterwards, the Roman Catholic Church.

We believe in the restoration, that we have the original and complete church that Christ had established with his Apostles and that the church is under his control after the same manner that He established in ancient times with a prophet, 12 apostles, and the authority of God given to men called the priesthood. This is the Church of Jesus Christ in these latter days, and there is no one living that can take that knowledge from me nor from those that ask of God if it is true.

I love you all

My challenge to you all this week is the following:
Learn to bear your testimony, very basically at least, in another language. I know you can do it. I know that one day it will serve you.

I know that the book of Mormon is true and that the Bible is true and that God loves me.

Yo sé que el libro de mormón es verdadero, también que la biblia es verdadera y que Dios me ama.

I love you all
Les quiero a todos
Have an awesome week,
Elder Lyle

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Monday, July 14, 2014

Pictures from this week... Riding a motorcycle in a metal ball at the circus, not mission approved!

Circus Family Home Evening

Check me out...
Family Home Evening at the Circus
(I'm pretty sure this is not mission approved!)

Welcome to my paradise

Elder Rodas
my companion

Where we lived...
Second floor

Rodrigo helping us move

The car that moved us to our new apartment

My Old Zone

Family Home Evening

Because I can...
Flash back to Popayan

Colombia Cali Mission
Proud of It

Turín Turán

It’s transfer week this week and well, crazy because I am… 
It seems crazy because I was only here for a month and a half.
I am on my way to LA COSTA, ya’ll I’m on my way to BUENAVENTURA. 
There is a famous song that talks about Buenaventura; it’s called Turín Turán. 

Buenaventura is the largest Pacific port in Colombia:
It’s massive, 
It’s hot, 
It smells like fishes all day and I am… 

I’ve been waiting to go to Buenaventura since I got here.
My new companion is Elder Campos from Peru. 
I’m being transferred there this Wednesday as a zone leader. I will have 8 elders in my zone and one is... Elder Donoso from Jamundi, I’m super excited. This is going to be super awesome.
Buenaventura is known because it is all black people and the black people in Colombia are awesome.
El Puerto as it’s called here is one of the happiest cities in Colombia, which is known as the happiest country in the world, crazy huh? 
SO LOTS of happiness is coming my way ha-ha-ha.

This past week was awesome. 

I had my first leadership council with President Prícoli. Wow, this mission is going to change a TON. He and President Prince are two very different people. With President Prince we became a baptizing machine as a mission, we were the number 4 baptizing mission in the world. 
The thing is, is that we baptized and we baptized a lot of people but practically none of them go to the temple. So that is President Prícoli’s goal. That we teach the people so that they are able to go to the temple. We had an incredible leadership council with President Pricoli, he is SUPER spiritual. President Prince was a spiritual dude; it just wasn’t quite the same. President Prince wanted us to teach in an interactive way that helped the people to follow the lessons and President Pricoli wants us to teach the gospel so that those that we teach feel the spirit when we teach. It’s a very different way to teach, however it's super cool.
I love the mission... if you couldn’t tell. 

This week basically all we did was put into place the things that President Pricoli taught us. We went to Cali for the council and then tried to get people to come to church and tell everyone about our transfers.

I’ll talk to you guys next week about how my first week in BUENAVENTURA is.

Now let me take the time to talk about something very important. 

Here in Colombia they are known as the happiest country in the world, and also one of the most religious countries as well. There are so many churches it makes the religious boom in the United States in the 1800s look small. There are churches on every single block and the blocks here are small. Everyone has their own way of interpreting the Bible and Christ’s doctrine. It's nuts! The most famous churches here are where they play music. People in Colombia LOVE music. Especially if it shakes your windows, so naturally the people have put the same kind of music in their churches. They love to clap and scream and sing at the top of their lungs as they sing about Jesus Christ as if they were from ACDC. It’s cool and all, however, that’s not what God wants. 
God wants Reverence. 
What is reverence?
Merriam Webster says:
Honor or respect that is felt for or shown to (someone or something)

When we go to church we are asked to show respect for our Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ. When we go to church we partake of the sacrament, which represents the body and blood and ultimate sacrifice that our Savior made for us. 
His sacrifice was so great that when he went to Gethsemane to pray Luke relates exactly how this sacrifice was made:
Luke 22:41-44
41. And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed,
42. Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.
43. And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him.
44. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.

Our Savior suffered greatly, so greatly that an angel came down from heaven to comfort him, so great that he sweated blood from every pour. He paid for the price of every single one of your sins. If you could stand to watch the Son of God suffer like that while clapping your hands and screaming hallelujah, go ahead. 
However, I will continue to honor my Savior and His house with the reverence that was mentioned to Moses at the burning bush. 
The Lord said to Moses
 Exodus 3:5
5. And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.

Do you think that in that moment, most sacred, Moses started to clap his hands and scream and shout and shake on the ground or listen to ACDC Jesus. No, it was a moment in which the reverence was upheld like none other. 
When we are in His church, we are in His house, and we must respect him as he expects us to. We show our love for him not through incredible songs and screams and shouts, but with a bowed head humbly partaking of his body and blood.
This is the church of Jesus Christ in these latter days. 

My Challenge to you all this week is:
To read one talk from the authorities of the Church from past General Conferences on the Atonement. 

I love you all 
Tell me about it 

Elder Lyle

Monday, July 7, 2014

Pictures this week...

Colombia was disqualified 
However there was still a Parade
You have to appreciate their spirit

My awesome companion

Elder Rodas

The apartment I hate
But we are changing this on Wednesday

The gross kitchen
More than likely the reason he hates his apartment

Elder Rodas
He looks like he would be a lot of fun

My companion's first car

We ate Chinese Food
Chinese Food in Colombia... It's all rice

Chinese Food Colombian Style

Fighting off the Neighbors

The truth is I had a pretty boring week.
We only taught 11 lessons, and for the majority of those lessons we were just defending our beliefs. 

Nothing crazy happened, so I’ll take the time to explain to you all a few topics that I find important.
This week I’ve had to “defend my faith” a lot. Recently all the Christian denominations have started telling a bunch of lies about us:

The Catholic Church talks about the ¨boys with ties¨ in their masses
The Jehovah Witnesses go knocking door to door to talk about the Mormon boys and why the people shouldn’t pay attention to us when we say good afternoon.
In many other denominations the pastors and preachers stand up to say many things about who they think we are and in what we believe in.

So let me take the time to explain to you all what I’ve had to explain to everyone who tries to insult me in the street as I say good evening. 
I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day-saints.
I believe in God the father, in Jesus Christ and in the Holy Ghost.
I belong to the same church that Jesus Christ organized when he was here on the Earth, which was lost immediately after the death of Jesus Christ and his apostles.
I know the church of Christ must have the same organization as the church that Christ established: A prophet, 12 apostles, and the authority to work in the name of the almighty God.
I know that this is the true church of Christ. Not because I grew up here or because somebody told me it was true, but because I asked God if it was true and I received the answer.
That’s my answer, not anyone else’s.
That is my invitation to others that they all ask God if the authority that Jesus Christ gave to his 12 apostles that was lost with their death has been restored to the world. If what we teach is true or no.
There are many churches today and many churches teach good things, however, there is only 1 that Jesus Christ established. He established one church and the apostles tried to keep everyone in the same faith, however with the apostasy that occurred after the death of all the apostles many churches began to branch off. There is only 1 that has Jesus Christ at the head that has the same authority of God, received in the same way Jesus Christ gave the authority to his disciples.
I know that these things are true, because I asked God if it really is true or not and I received the answer. 
Also, something that I would like you all to know, I taught a lot about one thing this week:
God has a body. 
He is not a spirit. 
He is a celestial perfect being. Many people don’t understand this principle. If God didn’t have a body how would Jacob from the Old Testament been ¨face to face¨ with him:

Genesis 32:30
30. And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.
Or the 10 Commandments, they were written with God’s Finger.... He needs to have a finger in the first place to write the 10 Commandments with his finger. 
Exodus 31:18
18. And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.
Or talked face to face with Moses
Exodus 33:11
11. And the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend. And he turned again into the camp: but his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, departed not out of the tabernacle.
Or talked mouth to mouth with the same prophet 
Numbers 12:8
 8.With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the Lord shall he behold: wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?

Or how we are made in the “similitude” of God. Well if we are made in the similitude of God obviously he too would have a body, am I wrong? 

James 3:19
 19. Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God.  

God has a body of flesh and bone. 
He has a celestial body perfected. 
He is not a spirit he is our Father and he is real.

The trinity consists of:
The Father and the Son, 2 beings very separate, both with bodies.
The third member of the trinity is a very separate being as well, however, he does not have a body so that he may work as the divine messenger of God, known as the Holy Spirit. 

I love you all. 
I just wanted to leave you all with this awesome message and also with the challenge for this week. 

Invite one friend to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints if you are a member. 
If not, I personally invite you to see exactly what we do on Sundays. I know you will leave with a feeling of peace and quiet both in your mind and in your soul. These are the ways in which the Holy Spirit communicates with us. When there is too much noise in our lives we cannot feel the Holy Spirit. So I invite you all to at least feel a moment of reverence with us this Sunday. Just to see how it feels. No promises just to see how it is. 

I love you all 
Keep up the good work ;)
Talk to you next week 

Elder Lyle....OUT