Monday, December 29, 2014

12-23-14 to 12-29-14

Awesome week!  So Tuesday morning I finally bought my guitar!  It was finally great to have a guitar again let me tell you.  I played every song I know.  That day we were walking through the streets and my comps were looking at watches.  One street vendor lady said I had pretty eyes and asked me questions about my fam, but before we left she asked for a hug!  I said we couldn't as missionaries and shook her hand, and when we turned around she hugged me from behind!  crazy woman.  That day we went to visit our less active Viviana, and Mejia asked if she had family members that were members of the church,  she said no and that her dad doesn't listen, but Mejia doesn't take no for an answer.  So he went and got her dad and we taught a POWERFUL lesson,  So now Luis is listening to us! haha woo!  Christmas Eve, was mostly spent at a members house so my comps could talk to their fams for Christmas.  And since I have awesome zone leaders, I got permission to call my family that night and Skype them Christmas too!  That night we came home and it turns out our power box on the front of the building above the door burnt so we didn't have power.  But that couldn't dim our spirits!  So we went and bought a butt ton of fireworks and lit them off the roof of our building haha!  Christmas day I SKYPED THE FAM.  I cant think of a better present.  But other than that, it didn't really feel like Christmas here.  Everyone was still working, no one was really excited and it was just normal.  So that's a bummer.  But I cant complain.  I got to talk to my family :) The next day I started with watching The District, and it was all on planning.  Doing so made me realize I'm not doing anything I should and I felt a bit discouraged.  But that didn't matter so I decided to plan better and the whole day I just felt the spirit so strong!  We had so many good lessons, and that night a woman passed us and "hi Elders" so we asked how she knew the Elders and she said she was investigating but the Elders stopped coming!  So we set up more appointments!  Its awesome how God prepares his Children.  The next day was slow thanks to the holidays and the weekend.  We basically just hung out with members.  Since we were STILL out of power, we took our ironing board to the roof that night and ironed for Sunday haha.  It was actually kind of cool.  Sunday was pretty cool!  Antonio is doing so great.  I'm pretty sure he's the next patriarch haha.  After church we had a really, really profound lesson on the plan of Salvation with one of our progressing investigators.  They have REALLY good questions.  So this morning we went to the hospital for Mejias physical therapy again, and got breakfast.  The hospital has the best food.  And we also saw the branch president there because he's a doctor!  Which reminds me, we're getting a new branch president.  Which is sad because I think it's because he wasn't paying his tithes or something.  But we love him none the less!  After we went and played soccer, ate lunch then went to this forest in the country side!  It was great!  I was just so happy to get out and get some fresh air.  So after that my comps and zone leaders wanted to go through a different way and as a result we kinda got lost in the rolling farm lands.  But it was a super fun experience and we got to hike a few miles back to Ipiales as a result!  It was awesome!  So yeah!  There's my week!  OH and also we didn't get our power until this morning.  5 days!  And the land lord is being a jerk and said it's only for 2 days because they want us to pay for it!  So they're being obnoxious but we'll sort it out.  Living the vida loca!  Tomorrow I get my new comp!  His name is Elder Solorio from Mexico!  I'm just praying he's cool haha.  I'm super excited to focus on my area again.  Tonight we have a family home evening with Juan , our richest less active, and they're feeding us and I'm playing guitar for them!  SO yay!  Life's good here.

Elder Welch

 Service project pouring a cement foundation

 "Lost" in the woods :)

On the edge of Ipiales (always cloudy!)

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas!

A Christmas Eve email from Jake: "you should share this vid on my blog.  its one of my favorites, and i always feel the spirit watching it!"

So, here you go friends. I can see why it's a favorite. Merry Christmas!

#BecauseofHim      #ShareTheGift

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

12-16-14 to 12-22-14

Alright so I don't have my journal so I'll try to remember this week! This week has been pretty good!  So Tuesday morning at around 7 Lopez left.  It was pretty sad to say bye to my first comp in the field aka my padre as they say in the mission, but something the mission has taught me is to buck up and not get hung up on goodbyes.  Because the mission has a ton of those haha.  So the whole day I was with the zone leader Elder Rodriguez and we had some really cool lessons including committing 2 people to baptism!  His area is a lot more humble than mine.  We taught people with dirt floors that literally lived in lean to's with card board walls.  It was crazy but cool to see their strength.  The next day we went early to my apartment and waited for the new comp of Rodriguez.  His name is Elder Inman from California so I'm pretty happy to have another gringo to talk to haha.  So pretty much a lot of this week has been meeting new people and helping a lot of less actives.  Turns out I teach really well with my 2 comps!  Sometimes I want to kill Mejia but when it comes to it I love the kid haha.  Thursday morning, Mejia came in and said to hurry and get ready because we were going to Pasto!  haha to be honest I didn't even ask questions why and just got ready and left. But I eventually found out we were going to a clinic in Pasto because he's been having bad back problems.  So we traveled to Pasto and it was pretty cool to travel during the day because I could actually see how beautiful this part of Colombia is!  The canyons are HUGE and there's waterfalls and rivers everywhere!  In Pasto he found out he just has muscle problems and needs therapy.  After that we went to the huge mall and had some lunch, bought some Jet Bars and went back to Ipiales.  So this weekend we had a conference with 3 zones in Popayan aka the White City.  We left Friday night at 9pm after we had a cool family home evening about Christmas with a member and his Catholic fam.  The bus ride was about 9 hours so we arrived at 6 am.  In the conference we sang a song in English, watched 17 miracles, received the packages we got for Christmas, heard some words from Pres. Pricoli and left.  It was honestly pretty pointless but whatever I figure it was just for Christmas.  The ride back that night was a LOT longer, 12 hours.  The traffic was pretty bad and theres been lots of fog lately.  Yesterday Antonio was ordained with the Aaronic priesthood!  It was way cool, and its so great to see him progress.  We're planning on helping him prepare to pass the sacrament this Sunday!  He's pretty nervous haha.  All of yesterday, Bello and I went splits with a member while Mejia went with the Mission leader.  It was pretty cool!  Bello and I worked with the less actives in my area and we progressed a lot!  Today for P day we just played soccer and yeah.  Nothing too exciting.  But we're going to Las Lajas again next week!  So yeah. There's my week.  Christmas is in 3 days which means I GET TO TALK WITH THE FAM.  I'm so excited :D So Feliz Navidad to everyone! 

Elder Welch

I asked Jake to give me "a little spiritual something you've learned or been thinking about to add to the blog." and after he responded with "yeah yeah!  ummm to be honest i cant think of one off the top of my head..." (hahah!) He finally came up with this. I was impressed!:

"k something spiritual I taught yesterday to less actives.  In 1 Nephi 17 how he's commanded to build a ship.  That's a SUPER crazy thing for the Lord to require but the first thing Nephi says is "where can I find materials to make the tools?"  He doesn't even hesitate!  Then in verse 13 it says, 

"And I will also be your light in the wilderness; and I will prepare the way before you, if it so be that ye shall keep my commandments; wherefore, inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments ye shall be led towards the promised land; and ye shall know that it is by me that ye are led."

We can compare the wilderness to our lives and the promised land to the presence of God.  We are never alone and if we're faithful and obedient like Nephi, the Lord will ALWAYS provide a way for us.  We just need to trust in God.  That is a ton of help in my mission considering I'm 18 in another country speaking a new language. 

My favorite scripture right now is probably
1 Nephi 4:6
 "And I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do."

Trust in God and all will be okay.

"never worry whether or not everything will be alright.  Everything already is."              

Monday, December 15, 2014

First Baptism! 12-9-14 to 12-15-14

In his email to me, Jake mentioned that he's feeling homesick and struggling a little with being the minority in his apartment on top of language barriers and getting the flu. Phew! Awesome and worst week is right! Extra prayers would be appreciated!  
Thanks everyone!

So this week has been awesome and the worst all in one!  So first off, last Monday night Lopez and I found out we were the best missionaries in the entire mission stats wise so WOO! Tuesday, Mejia and Herrera had 2 investigators getting married so they could be baptized this weekend, so the first part of the day we were running around helping them find rides and to get ready.  What made that difficult was it was POURING rain.  Seriously the hardest I have EVER seen in my life.  I had a rain coat and umbrella and was soaked, and the roads were rivers.  So when we got to the judicial building to marry them, me and the other elders were soggy hahaha.  Their wedding was incredibly humble.  they were dressed for the occasion, but they were married in an official office and their "reception" was in their shack of a home.  But they were super happy so I was too!  What was frustrating was the family of 4 of our 5 baptisms decided they want to wait to be baptized until the 10th of January.  So only Antonio was gonna be baptized.  But hey 1 is better than nothing that's for sure! 1 soul is great in the eyes of God!  And that night, when visiting with Antonio, Lopez said he wanted ME to baptize Antonio!  WOO!  The next day, Wednesday, I woke up with awful diarrhea, so I spent a lot of the day in a members house while the others went proselyting.  Something else sad is because of the disobedience in the zone Palmyra, Herrera was emergency transferred and changed with Elder Bello from Peru.  Thursday started out slow because lots of our appointments fell through for some reason.  But we had a really spiritual lesson with the Branch presidents inactive daughter.  Shes coming a long really well!  That night we watched The Testaments church movie with Diego and Karen's family and it was amazing.  I admit it was pretty cheesy but the Spirit was there.  Friday sucked.  I slept a lot of the day because my body started aching really really bad, and that night we were suppose to have a movie night at the chapel while we gave baptismal interviews but only Rosa, a lady being baptized of Mejia and Bello showed up.  After that, my body got worse, I got the chills and a super high fever of 102.  SO yeah... night before baptisms I got the flu.  So I asked Lopez to give me a blessing of healing, because there was NO way I wasn't going to baptize Antonio.  So I rested and guess what?  The next day I woke up and felt fine!  THE POWER OF THE PRIESTHOOD!  So we went to the other lower chapel to practice chorus with our district, because next week is a zone conference in Popayan, and theres a contest to learn songs in English!  I dont know if I've mentioned it, but Latinos are the most tone deaf people in the entire world.  It makes me cringe hahaha.  So that day was spend preparing for the baptisms that night.  The problem was... the font was full of dead bugs and the cleaning closet was locked.... so while Bello and I went to get the baptism clothes, we left that to be Lopez and Mejia's problem haha.  So ALL WORKED OUT!  I baptized Antonio!  It was way cool too see the joy in his face afterwards.  And I totally forgot I had ibuprofen in my pocket so after, it looked like I had blood all over my shirt hahahaha!  It was a fun cool experience.  and I've already baptized someone within a month of being in the field.  NO BIG DEAL :) That night Lopez kept going off about a mission tradition called "airre" which means air.  Turns out it was a sick hazing act where they pin you down and jab you in the stomach really fast.  That kind of made me angry.  But whatever haha I got over it.  Sunday, Antonio was suppose to give a talk because he volunteered but for some stupid reason they wouldn't let him!  But we confirmed him, Rosa, and the couple that was married earlier this week with the Holy Ghost.  It was cool to stand in on the circle, and even cooler to see the light in their eyes.  Those kind of things are priceless.  The rest of the day we were with Members so Lopez could say good bye.  Today we went to LAS LAJAS!  We had so much fun haha.   It's an AMAZING place.  But I repeat myself as I have before.  I don't feel peace in catholic chapels, they're so focused on the riches of things.  The walls on the path leading to the chapel are COVERED in plaques thanking the Virgin Mary for their lives.  It actually really bothers me how much they worship Mary and not as much Christ here.  I literally only saw like 3 images of Christ there but thousands of Mary.  Doesn't make sense.  But it was amazing none the less!  SO yea!  There's my week!  Tomorrow Lopez leaves, and since no new elders are coming, I'll be in a trio with Mejia and Bello until JANUARY.  NO!  I'm about to learn patience.  hahaha! 
love you all! 
Elder Welch

ps Karen says she loves you all a lot.  haha!  (This mom is glad for kind people like Karen!)

The cute newlyweds.  (They look so young!) 

 Antonio and Elder Welch

 Diego's and Karen's adorable son

 Little tree in his apartment (LOOK! 2 of the 3 packages I sent made it, haha)

 With Elder Lopez

 Goofing off at the Las Lajas Sanctuary overlook

 Las Lajas Sanctuary

The plaques at the sanctuary thanking the Virgin Mary

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

12-2-14 to 12-8-14‏

Some more Q&A

Q: How/where do you do laundry?
A: a lady in our ward, the same one I send my emails does our laundry for a month for 20,000 (about 10 bucks)

Q: How's the language? Are you speaking and understanding pretty well?
A: mejor y mejor cada día!  a veces es difícil pero yo puedo hablar mejor que yo pienso.  pero que yo escucho es en tres meses yo hablare con fluencia! (Translation from Google: "better and better every day! sometimes it's difficult but I can speak better I think. but I hear it in three months I speak fluently!")

Q: Have you been sick from the food or water at all?
A: Nope!  only sickness is I'm sick and tired of plantains chicken and rice haha

Q: Did you go on some of those ridiculously narrow, scary mountain roads on your bus trips?
A: yeah we go through that crazy canyon and the drivers are scary fast so i just have to pray angels with keep us on the road haha.

Q: Do you take a bus or walk out to the countryside?
A: though my area is in the country side we don't go really because we have so many appointments in the suburbs area.  but we walk everywhere unless we´re in a hurry, then we take taxi.

so yeah!  if you have more preguntas (questions), shoot them my way!
love ya mom! 
So this has been a pretty big week!  Lopez Tuesday woke up with a stomach infection so I spent most of the day studying my scripture in our apartment.  Around 3 Elder Mejia and Elder Herrera came and said to get dressed because a member was gonna stay with Lopez while I went out in a trio with them!  We did a lot of contacting and I met their mission stray dog named Yankee (Pronounced Jankee in Colombian Spanish) and he tagged along as we contacted!  Then we went to the house of a less active and I felt really impressed to share my testimony on the Atonement.  It was super spiritual and I felt the spirit help me speak Spanish.  And guess what?  They were at church Sunday!  Wednesday Lopez was still feeling sick but since he leaves on the 16th he cant make himself stay inside another day so we went out anyway.  He made me lead a lesson with a less active on faith and since he told me right before I was too worried about what to say so it was pretty rough.  But what ever I don't worry about that kind of stuff haha.  The rest of the day we helped Karen (the member sister of one of their investigators) run some errands to buy stuff for the big game of Nacional v River Plate!  It was pretty fun and we watched a bit that night with our ward mission leader.  It ended in a tie but no one cared haha.  Thursday Lopez felt good enough to teach again and we handed out 16 "He is the Gift" cards!  That night the branch president came with us to our appointments with Gyovani and his family, Antonio and Tatiana.  The plan was to talk again about baptism with all of them and we´re hoping for 5 baptisms THIS SATURDAY!  Haha when Antonio greeted us he said NEW YORK!  My amigo NEW YORK!  haha must be the new English he learned or something.  Friday we did some service painting a home with Mejia and Herrera.  It was way fun and it´s always cool to do something a bit different.  Later I saw 2 guys fist fighting on the sidewalk so that was fun.  Besides that, all our appointments but 2 with less actives fell through.  Thats Fridays in Colombia for ya, everyone is out partying on the weekends.  That night we went home early because Lopez´s stomach started hurting again.  Pobrecito (poor) haha.  Saturday was a zone meeting AKA talking to Elder Paskett in English which is always super nice haha.  That day we had a plan to do service at Las Lajas (a Roman Catholic sanctuary he's been looking forward to visiting) but it fell through so we watched The District and got some sweet new teaching ideas.  We talked more about Baptism with Gyovani and his family of 4 and we had an awesome lesson planned with Tatiana but Karen and Diego left last second for Cali so we had nowhere to teacher her ugh.  (we cant at her house because her dad hates the church).  Yesterday was awesome because it was Fast suNDAY!  I bore my testimony and one thing I'm trying to do better is not thinking about how or what I'm gonna say before but just trusting the spirit and it totally worked!  And another thing is all 4 members of Gyovanis fam attended church and so did Antonio!  But Tatiana didn't so she cant be baptized this weekend.  Which sucks.  But We´re HOPING FOR 5 BAPTISMS!  Which is awesome because that´s only in my 1st transfer!  The rest of the day we helped the zone leader with finances because Lopez used to work in the office, and he knows whats up and then we taught the daughter of our branch president.  It was really spiritual. When we were about to offer the closing prayer, Lopez asked if we could on our knees and she said she was thinking the same thing.  She offered the prayer and it was so touching.  We were all in tears.  I see great things in her future.  Last night was also the Christmas Devotional and here they show it the chapel.  The truth is I didn't understand much in Spanish so Paskett and I just shared our mission experiences.  It was pretty awesome.  Also yesterday was a Colombian Holiday called day of candles.  There were fires in the streets and candles everywhere with the Virgin Mary, and TONS of fireworks.  It's kinda sketchy being the the 4th floor when people are lighting off aerials in the street.  Today was PDAY obviously haha and we went with the branch to an activity at a place about half an hour way called Montes Aldinos.  It was actually all swimming so we just played soccer and rested.  It was fun though to just enjoy the day and the members!  So there was my week!  Next time I write, hopefully we´ll have 5 baptisms! 
Love you all!

 With Elder Lopez doing a service project

 Just some random cat :)

 Jake and Elder Lopez

 Hanging out with some young members

With the branch president, ward mission leader and wife and Elders Lopez, Herrera and Mejia

Gyovani and family 

Monday, December 1, 2014

Week 2 in the field!

A little Q&A with Elder Welch

Q: Is the picture of you with the short little missionary you and Elder Lopez?
A: Yup!  dont let his height fool you, he's 22 hahaha!  Latino probs.  I'm pretty much a giant here.  people are baffled when they find out I'm 18.  "QUE JOVEN" (how young!)

Q: Where do you go to do your emailing?
A: last week was at a members home but right now I'm emailing at an internet cafe. 

Q: Are the 4 of you in your apartment the only missionaries in Ipiales?
A: No, there's 12 missionaries in Ipiales.  There's me and lopez, mejia and herrerra, penafiel and rodriguez, monteiro and paskett, and 2 sisters that i cant remember their names and 2 other elders! 

Alright so this week was pretty average and great all at the same time!  So i don't have my journal with me so I won't be as thorough with each day (sorry mum) but it was awesome!  so we've been making progress with our investigators and less actives.  our biggest ones are Antonio, Tatiana, and Gyovanni and his family.  Because they all have baptism dates for the 11th of December!  that makes 6 for us and if the baptisms work out for the other elders in our branch, we'll have 11 baptisms that day!  Antonio had his baptism interview friday but sadly enough he didnt pass because his smoking addiction is proving difficult.  but he's the nicest man.  he's 60 years old and lives in a shack the size of a trailer but a lot more humble.  Saturday all day we helped do service by replacing the cardboard under his tarp roof with sheet metal, and replacing his tarp insulation with a thicker rubber coated fabric.  He was so grateful, it was awesome to see the happiness in his eyes.  Nothing much has happened, it's just been raining a lot here. here's some fun cultural differences here!  So everything at the store is in bags.  milk, ketchup, yogurt etc. it's honestly obnoxious so i find the boxed milk, but still, i have to buy lactose free.  dont worry its surprisingly cheap here!  another thing is it's completely normal for women to breast feed their babies in public here so it's surprising when a woman in the middle of sacrament meeting or family home evening just whips it out in front of everyone.  I've gotten pretty good at quickly adverting my eyes haha.  Also men just pee where ever they dang well please here.  No matter who's around.   I laugh at how many things are legal here.  Oh the joys of another country... so Friday I got to go teach english at an institute!  A member named Franklin is a teacher there and he asked me to come help his students practice!  they range from 14 to about 30 years old.  It was funny how many times i got asked in broken english what my favorite movie was but it was way fun.  But were the snakes slithering!  I got asked by around 6 girls to take a photo with them!  but hey, that was also 6 references hahahaha!  It was way fun.  Last night we were at Karen and Diegos house with Tatiana, and they had friends over that were'nt members!  it was a couple and their son.  They had a billion questions but mostly about our missions.  when they found out our ages, what we're doing and everything like that, that thought we were crazy!  But they also listened to our message on temples and i could tell the mom felt the spirit!  so we got 3 new investigators!  Wooop!  Anyways I'm out of time.  and no photos today.  doesn't matter because we didn't get to go to las lajas.  hopefully next week! 
love you all!
Hasta luego!

Elder Welch
In his letter to Tayler he said that Ipiales is one of the safest places in his mission so that's good news :)

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

He is the Gift – Christmas Video – #ShareTheGift

Jake asked me to share this on his blog.

First week in the field!

This time, I actually WAS waiting by the computer, haha!  It's been a long week for me not knowing where my boy is. Anyway, all week I kept thinking about him and the only place that kept popping into my mind was "Ipiales". This is what I wrote to him today and this was his response.

Mom: I have been a little stressed this week wondering where you are (I know you're fine, just a mom thing) but the only thing that kept popping in my head was "Ipiales". He's still letting me know you're fine :) God is good :)

Jake: Thats so cool :) its crazy how I have learned to love these people i teach and see.   I wish everyone could experience it!  6 days and my mission is already worth everything! 

Answering questions from Mom's emails (Mom is in italics)

Q: Tell me about your living conditions
A: Covered it in the big email :) we have no oven but we have a camp stove, a microwave and a waffle iron!  Which doesnt matter because members cook for our every meal but breakfast! 

Q: Do you share an apartment with another companionship?
A: Yes!  Elder Mejia from Honduras and Herrera from Bolivia!  I love them so much!

Q: Tell me about your companion.
A: Covered it!  He likes a lot of the same music and movies as me!  he's the best teacher I've seen too haha

Q: How are you adjusting to the food and water? 
A: food is just fine haha lots of potatoes in Ipiales and the water is fine because the CCM gave us filtered water bottles with 4 filters to last us 4 years! 

Q: Weather?
A: Cold, rainy and just how i like it :)

Q: Were your Christmas packages (3 of them) at the mission office when you got there? 
A: Yes i got them ! I already know whats in them because of the listing you wrote on the front. 

Q: Did you ever get Grandma Sue's letter she sent to the CCM? 
A: no :(

Q: Are you teaching anyone?!?! 
A: SO MANY PEOPLE!  we actually hopefully have a baptism this weekend!  It's an investigator named Antonio that literally lives in a shed that Lopez has been teaching.  but he has a smoking problem.  we're fasting for him to quit so he can be baptized!

Q: Details from every day :) 
A: You got it :)

So Im in the field!  The day we left was crazy, we had to catch a plane to Cali at 3:15 in the morning and I woke up 15 before we left because my alarm didnt go off!  It was a panic but I got everything just fine!  We landed in Cali around 7am and met with Elders Lyle and Jones who work in the Mission office.  They took us straight to the notary so we could fill out the paperwork for our proselyting licenses.  Appartently without that here, they send you to prison or the military.  But it's all good I got that figured out haha.  After I was through in line, Elder Lyle gave me a reference card and said "go find a reference"!  It was nuts but I actually got one first shot haha!  down here is already a billion times prettier than Bogota.  I hate bogota to be honest hahaha!  So back at the office building we sat around watching mormon messages all day and I GOT MY ASSIGNMENT!  I'm in Ipiales!   I'll tell you more about it here in a bit, but first the rest of our first day we went to the huge Cristus statue in Cali and lunch at the presidents home!  It was so amazing!  That night we got to attend a baptism and I played the piano for it!  Pretty good first day right?  The next day was a huge day with not much to say.  We spent the night in a cool little hostel in Cali and woke up the next morning thinking we had until 8.  Turns out I had until 7:15 so no shaving, teeth brushing or anything good for me.  We hurry and packed up our things and left.  At the presidents building, they briefed us on mission info and we MET OUR NEW COMPS!  my companion is Elder Lopez from Cancun Mexico, and no lies, at first he came off as a little TOO excited!  He's actually really awesome dont worry.  We headed to the bus station at around 6 and we went and gathered some references in our extra time.  EVERY person we talked to gave us a reference.  I could see right away Lopez is guided 100 percent by the Spirit.  He's awesome!  He's been out 23 months so I only get him until Dec 18.  Which sucks because he's already become my favorite companion and easily one of my favorite people!  But the bus sucked.  probably because 13-14 hours on a bus isnt the funnest hahaha.  Our first day we arrived at our appartment and it's actually pretty nice!  It's large and (kind of) has hot water!  I say kind of because it has this ghetto heater on the nosel that heats it as it comes out so if the waters up too high its cold.  But hey I'm not complaining.  Ipiales is so cool!  Old men in their fedoras and ponchos everywhere, and rolling green hills in the country side.  Yes, it's cold.  But it's not as cold as some elders have complained!  IT's just sweater weather!  SInce Elder Lopez has already been in ipiales for a month, we got right to the visting and I started meeting amazing new people!  We visit every day with less actives and we have a few investigators.  My personal favorites are Tatiana and her family. (her sister Karen, brother in law Diego, and their son Josue Matias.) and the other is Giovanni and his family.  First Tantiana and her family are so so friendly.  I feel at home at their house AND they have a GUITAR!  They have me play for them every time and I obviously gladly ablidge!  Tatiana is the investigator and Karen and Diego are members.  We had a super super spiritual lesson the other night on the doctorine of Christ and I made them all cry with my testimony of the atonement.  At the end of the lesson I invited Tatiana to be baptized.  though nervous she agreed to make the goal of the 13th of December!  We're so so excited!  With Giovanni and his fam, we had an awesome lesson on the same thing, the gospel of Christ!  It was really spiritual as well.  Every time I bare my testimony during a lesson, I definately feel the spirit talking through me.  The gift of tongues is so real.  It's not instantly having the language click but rather the spirit helping me remember the things I've learned.  Every day has been the same but awesome.  Checking up, teaching, and laughing at the weird things we see.  There's a billion dogs here as you can imagine, and I actually feel pretty bad sometimes when I see them scrounging for food.  The pigs in the country side are HUGE and the sizes of horses!  THe moths here are literally the size of birds sometimes.  We call them sparrow moths.  Sunday I got asked to give a talk and play the piano!  I was slightly nervous but the spirit helped me feel calm.  At the end of my talk, my mind blanked.  So I just spoke.  and the words came.  THank you heavenly father haha!  We were informed saturday night that Sunday at 7pm we needed to go to Cali AGAIN for a conference.  sooo we made the 13 hour trip down and yesterday had a conference with the whole cali mission!  The conference was to announce the churches new christmas initiative!  IT's called He is the Gift.  This christmas the church has loaded tons of money to spreading the word about christ and our church.  IT's so so cool!  our job as missionaries is to talk to 10 people a day about it and get them to share it.  SO please share it!  Look it up at and share with the hashtag #sharethegift.  I'm pretty dang excited about it.  so another 13 hours and we got home this morning to start my first P day!  we just went down to the chapel and played volleyball as a zone in the rain.  it was super fun!  We changed in the bathroom at the chapel and left our clothes in the bathroom then changed back into our clothes at our apartment.  I was pleased to find 2 huge beetles bigger than a quarter chillin out in my sock and in my pants pocket.  last time I leave clothes on the ground level.  THank goodness we're in a 4 story apartment haha.  Anyway thats the field and i already LOVE it!  The feeling i have all the time is amazing. 

Chao, Elder Welch

I'm guessing what some of these pictures are, haha. I don't get any details, just the pictures.

City of Cali?

Christus-König-Statue in Cali

Oh, so Jake :)

I think this is his companion, Elder Lopez

View of the city

 I'm guessing this is in his Ipiales apartment

 His desk in his apartment 

The shower with the "hot" water nozzle

 I think this is the kitchen in the apartment (pretty tile!)

 The beautiful countryside of Ipiales (I think...)

 I think this is my favorite picture of him so far :)


Tuesday, November 18, 2014


I'm here mom!  They're giving me 5 minutes to tell you that I made it and alive too!  We woke up at 3 and the flight was actually really short.  The first thing we did was get on a van with the office missionaries and headed over to the notary to get licensed to proselyte!  Apparently if you dont have a license you go to jail or get put in the military.  But I love it already!  While waiting Elder Lyle the office missionary gave us reference cards and I got a reference from an older gentleman who was really interested!  I'm slightly nervous and have no clue what i'm doing but i'll just do what Nephi said, "and I followed the spirit not knowing beforehand the things which I should do."
Love you all! 


Friday, November 14, 2014


I loved his response to a question in my email to him about the Jet Bars so I'll post it here:

Mom: I read on another missionary's blog that the tie trading isn't a thing anymore but I wondered if that will come back now that the Jet Bars are banned :) Speaking of which, did you eat all 17 that you bought? If you did, you may need to be spanked ;)

Jake: Hahaha okay so I may or may not have eaten half of the jet bars that night.  Okay all of them. DON'T SPANK ME! hahaha!

Thanks to everyone who's been writing! I know it means a lot to him.
I LEAVE FOR THE FIELD IN 3 DAYS!  Our flight out is at 3 in the morning, and I honestly couldnt be more ready to get out of this place.  Okay I'll start with Nov 5.  My latino comp came!  His name was Elder F--- from Colombia!  He started out shy, but eventually I broke him in.  I don't have any pictures with us because they never give us our cameras, but just picture a kid with buzzed head and huge hipster glasses.  We got our new districts and to be honest I hated it.  I didn't really know the kids and class in Spanish 24'7 is pretty difficult.  I miss Hermano Polo and Barragan but it's chill because I love my new teachers and district now haha!  In my district (District Moroni) there's me and F---, Elder V. from Venezuela and Elder L. from Utah, Elder G. from Venezuela and Elder H. from Utah, Elder S. from Pueblo Mexico and Elder C. from Wyoming, Hermana G. from mexico and Hermana M. from Peru, and Hermanas V. from Venezuela and Z. from Peru!  I love everyone of them!  The next day, the 6th was honestly probably the worst day of my mission so far.  I was NOT used to Spanish 24'7 and it lasted forrrever.  The day was filled with classes and orientation for the Latinos.  They were the exact lessons I got day 2!  7th was a TON better.  I can definitely attribute that to the temple.  But what was sad is Elder F--- couldnt go through the temple (he hasnt recieved his endowments yet)  I wondered why but obviously didnt find it in my place to interview or speculate.  That night, Elder S. asked if I could give him a blessing because he was having such an awful time at the CCM he wanted to go home.  It was really cool and I could definitely feel the spirit talking through me.  The next day was just classes and literally nothing different happened from normal.  But no fear, the 9th was Sunday aka the best day of the week!  The first half was a literal different because I got all Spanish but my Spanish is already SO MUCH better because of having a Latino comp.  I also realized something that day for all my buddies in North American missions (Brayden Lake and Mike) It would be SO EASY to teach in English!  Holy Cow!  But I also realized I'll have the last laugh in 2 years when I roll in the Job offers!  the 10th was AWESOME!  We had another member of the 70 talk to us and the whole CCM was put in the act that it was a paradise there.  NO SINGING BEFORE LUNCH!  DON'T DRINK FROM WATER BOTTLES DURING HIS TALK!  but it was totally worth it because we picked apart D&C 4 and it was way cool.  Also we decided to do 2 musical numbers this Sunday!  I'm playing piano for all 21 missionaries in my group singing Joseph Smiths first prayer but to the tune of Come Thou Fount!  And me and the 4 elders that sang are doing Nearer My God To Thee in Spanish!  It's gonna be a spiritual power house this sunday!  11th was really interesting.  The day started out normal, Elder F--- and I taught our investigator for the first time and it went way well!  We teach well together!  also, the manager here that takes away all the fun decided to be our "member missionary"for our investigator but it actually went really well.  but around 4:30 F--- said "yo necesito organizar mi moleta" which means he needs to organize his suit case.  I thought it was interesting but I didn't think much about it until i noticed his closet was empty.  I asked why and his chin hit his chest.  30 minutes later Elder F--- went home.  I had no clue it was a huge shock!  I felt so bad because he had tears in his eyes and said he was nervous.  But i also knew why he didnt go through the temple.  It was hard to see him go but I was also proud of him for wanting to be worthy first. He said he'd come back and I told him Id pray for him.  That night i was in a trio until I was assigned to Elder R---!  Elder R--- is from Venezuela and he was wayyy shy at first.  But the next day, the 12th he loosened up!  The day was spent practicing for yesterday the 13th which was PROSELYTING AGAIN!  Turns out he's a way good teacher!  We got 4 references, gave out 2 book of mormons, and one lady even said she'd be baptized if she learned it was true!  That's right.  We invited someone to baptism first contact no big deal.  So they drove us out to a small ghetto village outside of Bogota, and this time it felt like the real South American experience.  Our first contacts were an older couple.  They did NOT seem interested but when Elder R--- mentioned eternal families, we got their attention.  They gave us their reference and we headed down the street!  Next Elder R--- wanted me to practice commensing the convo so we talked to a man in a green Motorcycle jump suit leaning against a wall next to his moto.  I just started talking, and I can testify that the spirit helped me talk to him clearly and correctly because I talked for the first bit for a long time!  He said he's Catholic but interested in our church so we gave him a Book of Mormon and he accepted the invitation to read it and pray about it and gave us his reference!  After that point we got shot down again and again for the next 3 hours.  On our way back we had our meeting place in sight, but Elder R--- said "Uno Más?" (Translation=One More?)  so I said sure and we just started walking and talking to a young mom with her 2 kids.  She did NOT seem interested but Elder R--- just kept going!  After he taught a bit about eternal families, she gave us her reference!  Families down here are so so important! so with our last 3 references and out of time we took them to our district leader, Elder G---.  While waiting, Elder R--- said, Uno mas? again and I said yeah sure!  So we talked with the next lady walking by and she said she had to keep walking to work so we walked with her!  out of time, and after walking with her for a couple blocks, she gave us a reference, we gave her a BofM and she accepted our invitation to read it, pray about it and BE BAPTIZED IF IT;S TRUE!  Feeling on top of the world we sprinted back to the bus!  I cannot wait to do that for 2 years.  The feeling is undescribable.  Today was my last trip to the temple for 2 years.  Definitely bittersweet.  It's also our last pday in the CCM!  Next time I write I'll be in the field!  Let everyone know I love them and pray for them every day! 
Chao!  Elder Welch

ps sorry no photos today, next time for sure :)


Monday, November 10, 2014

Send Your Christmas Letters Soon!

Jake would love to receive some Christmas letters! It will take a good 10-12 days to get letters/packages there and then they have to be picked up from the mission home by the zone leaders going to conference or delivered by the mission president if he visits them in the field. If you want to send something for Christmas, plan accordingly for the time it might take and mark the package or envelope FOR CHRISTMAS.

Mission Home Address for letters and packages:
Elder Jake Terry Welch
Colombia Cali Mission
Avenida 2 Oeste #10-130 Oficina 201
Edificio Tempo-Barrio Santa Rita
Cali Valle del Cauca

*Get an International Stamp from the post office.  As of October 2014, to mail a letter of normal size and weight, it costs $1.15


Package Mailing Details:
Through the US post office (best option), it is better to send things in padded envelopes rather than boxes (the post office has the Padded Priority Envelopes and labels behind the counter if you ask for them and they are free) . You can cram in up to 4 lbs. If the package weighs more than 4 lbs. he may have to pay an additional fee to get it out of customs.

*As of October 2014, it costs $24.75 to send a Padded Priority Envelope (up to 4 lbs). If it's a smaller package (under 2 lbs.) the post office can recommend a cheaper mailing option instead of Priority.

On the customs form (there are two to choose from at the post office-use the small one) You should declare ANY package at a value LESS than about $20 to also avoid him having to pay a customs fee.  
*Missionaries have to PAY ON TOP of what you have paid to ship just to receive the package if it is too heavy or worth a lot.  It is better to send 2 envelopes than to pay a lot and send a big box.

Please remember that many of his companions will be Latins who may never hear from home or receive packages. If you want to include a little something for the companion it is always a kind

It's a good idea to put religious stickers on the packages to avoid them being tampered with.

*If you ship a package with a private courier (UPS, DHL, FEDEX), you will need this phone number with the above address: 

I know this is pretty confusing so contact me if you have any questions.  -Wendy

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Week 4!

Elder Welch only has two weeks left in the CCM! He is being assigned a new Spanish speaking companion for his last two weeks. I love that he gets to sing and play the piano so much. He sounds so happy!  Here are a couple of responses to some email question I sent:

Q. Are you ready to leave the CCM or will you be sad to go?!? It's coming up quick! Next time I hear from you (in 10 days) you'll have been out 5 1/2 weeks!!
A. Get me out of here!  I can't believe I'm almost out of here haha but I'm so excited to teach real investigators
Q. How's the ping pong coming?
A. Pretty good.  Slowly but surely.  I haven't had the time to practice much lately though!

These past 4 days have actually been pretty eventful!  Our awesome teacher Hermano Polo announced he's going to be a dad!  He's the most kind hearted man ever and I know he'll be a fantastic dad.  Sunday was a huge day!  I played piano for a musical number, God Be With You Til We Meet Again.  One of the Elders Grandpa died and he was crying all meeting so I feel like it was perfect for him.  Also, me, McCain, Paskett, Quesada and Ryan sang I Need Thee Every hour acapella in spanish and it was so beautiful we were asked to sing it 4 more times that day haha.  There wasn't a dry eye in the chapel.  On the lower end of Sunday, we're getting so desperate for fun here we started something called air freshener roullette where we stand with our faces in front of the timed airfreshers and take turns counting to 10 until someone takes it in the eyes.  It's INCREDIBLY stupid but it's also pretty hilarious (when you're not the one getting sprayed).  Yesterday we had our tour day!  For the 4 weekers, we get to go the top of the Andes to a tiny village called Monserre. (photos to come)  There's a beautiful Catholic chapel at the top that we got to see.  It was amazing but I also feel like the Catholic church are missing the point of Christ by a long shot.  There were so many disturbing depictions of Christ suffering and bleeding and nothing about his smiling face and love for us.  Also there were very very ornate chairs for the priest and everything was so focused on the wealth and power.  I love that about our church.  Even the prophet wears the same thing as everyone else and sits in the same seat as everyone on the stand.  We're all equal and humble in the eyes of God.  After we saw the village we went down to Bogota to the jersey stores to load up!  Jerseys here are incredibly cheap! Some elders bought 5!  I got a Blue Colombian National with James on it for 35 dollars.  It was interesting because the store was the size of a shed so 21 missionaries was gonna take a while to sort through.  Since I was one of the first done, I headed back to the bus with some other Elders.  While I waited I shamelessly bought 17 Jet bars (for the record it was only about 4 USD) an Empanada, a delicious colombian food, and a Coca Cola.  And Ill tell ya what, a Coca Cola has never brought me close to tears but wow.  While I waited for 2 hours by the bus, Elder Stratton and I talked to the shop owner and Security guard.  They were super awesome guys and fun to talk to!  One man was outside smoking so Elder S. and I talked to him, and it turns out he spoke English because he went to college in Boston!  We eventually brought up the gospel and had the opportunity to talk to him about The Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith's first vison.  I quoted the first vison in spanish because i have it memorized and I felt the spirit!  I don't know if he even cares but we gave him a pass a long card and I felt so happy!  After that we headed back to the CCM, watched 17 Miracles and waited for the new Elders!  There's about 20 gringos, 20 latinos and 20 hermanas in the group so it should be pretty cool!  I got a new room last night and I like it better than my old one.  Elder K. from my district is in there with me, 2 new North Americans and our 2 LATINO COMPANIONS!  I haven't met my Latino yet but his name is Elder F--- and he's from Colombia thank goodness!  I'm so grateful to have a companion that will speak the same dialect as me.  I'm looking forward to it, and hopefully these next 2 weeks won't kill me haha. 

 Oh, so Jake :)

 He loves graffiti

 Beautiful Colombia

 I think this is the city of Bogota

 The Catholic Church they went to

 In the market

New CCM photo

Friday, October 31, 2014


Happy Halloween!  (Nothing happens for halloween in the CCM anyway haha)
Mucho has happened this week!  I'll start with 23.  We got all new elders, and theres a ton of Latinos and only 5 gringos!  I absolutely love Elder Toman from Canada the new missionary, and in my room we got Elder Perez from Ecuador.  He's hilarious, and super cool.  It's been absolutely POURING lately.  The roof in the cancha (gym) keeps leaking!  We've gotten our 2 new fake investigators and they're both super solid to teach.  They keep all the commitments we challenge them and are really growing.  If only I could actually baptize them haha,  I was made the new district leader!  (half of the elders in his District are going to Cali and the other half to Santa Cruz, Bolivia-including his companion) All I do is assign the class and make sure my district is doing what they're suppose to but it feels really rewarding.  I had a district testimony meeting with all the elders and it was really touching,  We were crying like babies haha but I love them all so much.  Every 2 Saturdays we fast and usually the Saturday after lunch when we stop eating moves incredibly slow but this last Saturday was actually amazing.  All of our lessons and teaching practices were full of the Spirit.  So since I've been deemed CCM Pianist, I'm now playing the piano for 2 musical numbers.  and since my district loves to sing, 5 of us are doing a quartet acapella of "I need thee every hour" in Spanish!  I'm so excited.  So all the Latinos here call me Elder Cullen because I look like Edward.  They always say AY ELDER CULLEN DONDE ESTA BELLA? haha Its fun to joke with them though.  I love those kids.  They love when I play "A River Flows Through You" on the piano because Edward plays it in Twilight. We got to go to the temple again!  I'm understanding the ceremonies more and more in Spanish, so thats awesome!  While I was there, I bought an El Libro De Mormon and wrote my testimony in it to give it to someone.  The highlight of this whole week though has been yesterday!  At the CCM every 2 weeks we get to go out and practice proselyting!  They drove for a good 35 to 40 min, and dropped us off and said "Meet here in 3 hours, and go get references and hand out copies of El Libro De Mormon!" To be honest, It was pretty scary at first.  To be honest it took about half an hour of saying Buenos Dias to everyone until we decided to stop someone and talk to them.  Many were uninterested, devout Catholics or already taught haha!  One homeless man with a twinkle in his eye told us he met the missionaries and loves the Book of Mormon!  Funny story: McCain and I walked up to some older ladies and talked with them, but we didnt realize they were Jehovahs Witnesses hahaha!  After being preached to in really fast Spanish, we just had to say chao and leave.  Another sweet old lady said she was Catholic and loved her religion but she thanked us for spreading the word of Christ and making the world better.  I wish everyone had that attitude!  It took a while, but the first man we talked to actually came up from behind saying Senors Senors I have a question!  He was a security guard working at the little store and asked why there were so many groups of boys in white shirts today!  We explained that we were missionaries of La Iglesia De Jesucristo De Los Santos De Los Ultimos Dias (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).  He showed that he wanted to learn more from us and he loved Christ!  I told him about the Book of Mormon and asked if he wanted the one I wrote my testimony in!  He asked for how much and we told him it was free if he read the introduction then read it!  He gratefully accepted.  He tried to get his info for missionaries to teach him but he said he doesnt have a phone or email at the moment but he wanted to know where out church was.  So we thanked him, told it was on Calle Ochenta and we were on our way!  The next man we met was only about 100 feet away at the bus stop!  To our surprise he spoke English!  He said he lived in California for a while, and that he was a Catholic.  He profusely thanked us for coming to his country and for making a difference in the lives of people, especially the young people.  He told us to be careful in some places but assured us people wouldnt mess with us too bad because we're Christians.  We asked if he wanted to know more about the church and he said Sure why not!  He gave us his address and took a book of Mormon and told us he wanted to read it!  Believe it or not, my district gathered over 20 references in those 3 hours between 11 of us!  It's amazing how humble and open the people are here in South America.  I can hardly wait for 2 weeks when I can go out and preach more!  I've gotten 2 letters, and each one came after about 11 days.  Its like Christmas every time I get one so you know.  hint hint.   It's crazy for me to think I only have about 2 weeks left.  The time is flying!  My Spanish gets better poco y poco (bit by bit) and sometimes in my prayers I catch my self saying Padre instead of Father haha.  Thanks for the prayers everyone and I pray for all of you several times a day!  One last sad announcement.  They got rid of Jet Bars because we kind of went nuts with the Sticker trading.  But they cant stop me out in the field hahaha.  Love all of you.  Nos Vemos!

PS- the photo that says Dios Bendice in graffiti means God Bless You:) I loved that.

(The PS is about one of the pictures he sent last week. I'll attach it below. He also said the stolen money he talked about last week "turned up". Yay! -Wendy)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Week 2 (with pictures!)

(I caught him in the middle of emailing again! I promise, I don't sit by the computer waiting all day, haha! My notes are in italics-Wendy)

Hey all!  So this last week has been pretty much the same. (especially considering i emailed 5 days ago haha) Since then i've had my first p day, and it turns out it's only 5 hours and they schedule what you do and when.  But what ever, fine by me.  We've had a thief going about stealing money but the money was only stolen from 1 room so we're suspicious it was someone in that room.  Hundreds of dollars went missing though and poor President Dyer was distraught.  He gave an entire talk in sacrament meeting on it.

We have a challenge here to find all 6 times in the Book of Mormon it uses the phrase *one by one* and I found then all!  The reward was 9 jet bars, so i'm rolling in the stickers!!  Like I said, other than that, it's been the same.  Study study study.  Last night my good friends/roomies left for their missions.  Elder Allen and Elder Fuentes.  I'll miss those 2, but they'll be amazing.  If the internet can keep up I have a TON of photos. Chao!

I told him I'd mailed a couple of letters this week and he answered: Some kids have been gettin letters so we figure it takes about 2 weeks to get them so im pretty excited!  

I told him his letter was too short :) and I asked him some questions:

haha sorry... everyday is seriously pretty much exactly the same so not much has happened new. 

-Is the food getting old? I've heard it's bland. Should I send some spices?  
         It's fine, I actually really like the food minus the rice for 2 meals a day every day
-Are you taking your vitamins?
         I CAN'T REMEMBER TO FOR THE LIFE OF ME SORRY MUM (Some things never change)
-Do you get to play the piano more than just meetings?
         Only after meals if my companion feels like it haha I played for an Elder who loves pianos and made his day

I'll give some more details about our teaching practices,  So I told you we have an "Investigator" named Renzo and we have to teach in 100 percent spanish.  So the other day he dropped the bomb that he got his girlfriend pregnant so we had to hurry and teach the Law of Chastity off the top of our heads!  Good thing we both (Jake and his companion) have 4 years of spanish so it went alright.  But yesterday was the last day with him and he was kind of a lost cause but it was nice to get some feedback on how we did.  He said we teach well together and our spanish is Muy Bien.  It was a cool experience but only the beginning.  Now we're gonna get TWO INVESTIGATORS.  We'll kill it though. 

PS- the hair cutter here hunts down kids with long hair so I got it chopped the 2nd day haha

I gotta go!  Love ya mom!  send my love to the rest of the fam too!  

I think this is all of the missionaries at the CCM.

His District
(His companion, Elder McCain, is 3rd from the left)

Elder McCain and Elder Welch

Made me happy to see his poncho laid out on his top bunk :)

I'm guessing this is the view from either class or his room

Thursday, October 16, 2014

First Email!!!

Surprise!!! One day early!!! I just happened to see Elder Welch's email come in so I was able to email back and forth with him for a few minutes (not gonna lie, I cried the whole time). Sis. Dyer had told me that the missionaries might get to email a day early so they can spread out the computer time as they have so many missionaries right now. OK with me!

*Just a couple of things from our other back and forth emails:
-His companion, Elder McCain, is from Missouri
-I asked how he was liking the CCM in an earlier letter: "It's actually really good!  theres only like 100 people here and i know most everyone.  i'm friends with all 21 kids i flew up with and pretty good with the 4 and 6 weekers!  we get chocolate here called jet bars and they have cool stickers in them so we trade them like pokemon cards"
-He requested some handwritten letters from everyone. I put the mailing details in another post. It only costs about $1.00 to mail a letter from the US so everyone get busy :)

Hey!  The CCM is actually really really great!  (disclaimer: ignore bad grammar and spelling, the keyboards here are weird and the spanish is ruining my grammer in english) The water is cold in the showers but only in the morning, so me and my companion Elder McCain shower after gym or at night haha.  Elder McCain is awesome, i definitely lucked out.  I havent been mad at him once and it's day 8!  He´s also a Volleyball champ.  Theyre pretty serious about their volley ball here.  I spend my gym time playing ping pong, trying to become forest gump.  It took 3 days to get my tag but getting it was the best feeling ever.  Kinda made it feel... official.  We had to go do immigration on the first day which was a lot of sitting around people watching at the office in down town bogota.  The people are really friendly here but insane drivers!  No signaling or stopping and motorcycles squeeze between cars.  It´s been a cool experience so far.  My room, habitacion 8 is one of the biggest rooms in the ccm and there´s 2 empty beds!  The companionships in there are me and Elder McCain, Elder Allen from Arizona and Elder Fuentes from Argentina (funniest kid ever) Elder Christensen from Wyoming and Elder Carver from Utah.  Every day is pretty much the same.  Grammar, lessons, study, lessons, grammar, gym, grammar, devotionals etc.  My 2 teachers are Hermano Freddy Barrogan and hermano Miguel Polo!  I love both of them so much, theyre the nicest guys out there.  They always throw their arms around ya in the halls and give us tons of Chocolate haha.  I didn´t meet Presidente Dyer for a few days because he was sick!  A sickness has been going around and i´ve been lucky to dodge it thusfar.  The chocolate they give us here called jet bars are a colombia only candy and they come with cool nature stickers inside.  it´s a thing here to trade them and to put your favorite on the back of your tag.  I have been wanting the Himilayas sticker for a week and GOT IT YESTERDAY.  It´s so cool, it went straight to my tag haha.  The Spanish was overwhelming at first but slowly got better.  By day 3 they had us attempting to teach an "investigator" named Renzo, a 17 year old kid who goes with his parents to church because he´s into the bishops daughter, (really a 30 year old teacher here haha) in full Spanish and each day we go back and continue the discussions.  Its getting better and better, and now I can bare my testimony, pray, and kind of teach in Spanish!  One of my favorite things about being in the CCM is all the praying.  It´s cool to pray over every meal, every morning and night, before every lesson and devotional and other times in between.  I really feel closer to god. sadly i haven´t felt the spirit too much only because i can´t understand all the spanish, but every lesson I´ve gotten in English, usually from Presidente Dyer, I can´t stop crying!  I dont know why God decided to make crying a thing now haha.  maybe my investigators with be moved by the physical reaction of me feeling the spirit who knows.  Days go up and down here but it´s all good.  I´m yet to feel too sad yet though!  I actually felt my first real feeling of homesick yesterday.  just a little missing friends and family.  also, not playing my guitar is KILLING ME.  Today i sat around and sang song lyrics so i wouldn´t forget them!  My district sings and whistles constantly so that´s wayyy fun.  We had the opportunity to here from a member of the 70 and he was the nicest man!  His whole talk was in spanish, but we have translators that talk into headphones and he included us to keep us focused.  After I played the hymn (Im basically CCM official pianist) he gave me a huge hug and said "good job Elder".  Every week we get to go to the temple and we get to do service around the CCM!  I got to rake leaves, because Bogota is the only colombian city with fall.  It's surprisingly cold here!  It stays around 60 degrees here constantly and rains a lot but never too hard.  The temple was an interesting experience!  It´s tiny and saying ordinances in spanish was hard!  But the spirit was there none the less and I got to see a different movie than I did my first time!  Sunday was by far the best day so far.  The spirit was so strong all day and at the end of the day, all the english speaking missionaries had a discussion with the president that turned into a huge discussion on deep deep doctorine.  we all went to bed with aching heads haha.  The time is flying by and I love it here but I´m not gonna lie, I relish the days we get to get out of here.  It´begins to feel like a sort of prison being in a gated area all day everyday.  On my 4th week we get to go out and proselite and on the 6th weekend before i leave, we have a tour day where we just go out and tour colombia going to cool places and museums!  I´m so excited to get to that point.  The food here is way good.  not gonna lie, im getting sick of ripe plantains and rice but the meat is delicious.  I´m still getting used to lunch being the biggest meal of the day.  Anywho, I love you all!  I´ll end with my testimony en espanol.  
Tengo un testimonio acerca esta evangelio.  Yo se Jesucristo es el salvador del mundo, y el muerto para nos pesados.  Yo se dios nos ama y espiritu santo guidemos por esta vida.  Yo se el mision es donde necesita ser.  Le amo esta iglesia, y testifico este cosas en el nombre de jesucristo, amen.

(Rough translation: "I have a testimony about this gospel. I know Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world, and died for us. I know God loves us and guides us through the Holy Spirit through life . He is the mission where you need to be . I love this church, and I testify these things in the name of Jesus Christ , amen")